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Title: The testing of Janice Day

Author: Helen Beecher Long

Illustrator: Corinne Turner

Release date: January 14, 2023 [eBook #69791]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: Sully and Kleinteich, 1915

Credits: David Edwards, David E. Brown, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This book was produced from images made available by the HathiTrust Digital Library.)



12mo. Cloth. Illustrated
Price per volume, $1.25 net


“DID YOU COME TO LOOK FOR ME, TOO?” (see page 293)


The Testing of
Janice Day


Illustrated by


Copyright, 1915, by

All rights reserved



I. What Daddy Had Written 1
II. A Vista of New Possibilities 10
III. Something New 20
IV. A Very Civil Engineer 29
V.The World’s Run Mad 38
VI. A Rift In Her Happiness 48
VII. The Desire of Aunt Mira’s Heart 58
VIII. The City Girl 67
IX. Annette Bowman 79
X. Polktown’s New Awakening 88
XI. The Breach Widens 97
XII.Them Trimminses 106
XIII. The Lawn Party 117
XIV. One Saturday Afternoon 126
XV. A Grist of Small Happenings 136
XVI. Little Lottie’s Home-Coming 148
XVII. An Errand of Mercy 158[vi]
XVIII. The Elder’s Indignation 166
XIX. The First Snow of the Season 178
XX. The Barn Dance 191
XXI. After the Dance 201
XXII. Dark Days 207
XXIII. A Quick Convalescence 221
XXIV. Financial Troubles 226
XXV. The Elder’s Awakening 233
XXVI.A Run for His Money 240
XXVII. The Echo Again 250
XXVIII. What Might Have Been Known Before     271
XXIX. Looking for Janice 283
XXX.Jingle Bells! 294



“Did you come to look for me, too?” (See page 293.)Frontispiece
Janice leaped out of her car and ran toward the frightened horse. (See page 79.) 80
The old Elder, towering like a figure of wrath, scowled at Janice 172
“Go on! Go on!” the Elder was yelling. (See page 243.) 244




Bang! bang! bang!

Three loud thumps sounded on the door of Janice Day’s bedchamber and were quickly followed by an eager rattling of the doorknob.

“Janice! I say, Janice, ain’t you ever going to wake up?” came in a strong boyish voice. “Don’t you know this is the day for the great surprise?”

“Oh, Marty, so it is!” replied his cousin, sitting up very suddenly and throwing the covers aside. “How stupid of me to lie abed when the sun is up! I’ll be dressed and downstairs in a jiffy.”

“Thought maybe you didn’t care fer that surprise,” went on the boy dryly. “If you don’t want it, o’ course you can pass it over to me!”

“Why, the idea! I do want it, whatever it is, Marty. Oh, what can it be, do you think?”

“Don’t ask me!” returned the youth, and then[2] cut an odd grimace, which of course nobody saw. “I’ll tell ’em you’ll be down by dinner time,” he added, and then turned and clumped noisily down the narrow farmhouse stairs.

Janice had already hopped out of bed. Now she made her way across the neatly-kept bedchamber to the wide-open window. Her eyes met a most beautiful world, and a new day—a day with all the dew upon it!

She was at the window which overlooked the slope of the hill on which Polktown was built, the sheltered cove below, and the expanse of the broad lake beyond. Janice never wearied of this view—especially at sunrise.

The stern old fortress, far away on a rocky promontory of the other shore of the lake, was decked out with darts of golden sunshine. Gold, too, fresh from the sun’s mint, was scattered along the pastures, woodlands and farms of that western shore as far north and south as her bright eyes could search.

And Janice Day’s eyes were bright. They were the hazel eyes of expectancy, of sympathy, of inquiry. In all her countenance, her eyes attracted and held one’s attention.

Her face was intelligent, her smile confiding; Janice Day usually made friends easily and kept them long. If she had personal troubles she never flaunted them before the world; but she was ever[3] ready with a sympathetic word or a helping hand for those who needed such comfort.

She was no sluggard. The sun had caught her abed on this morning; but he did not often do so. She was usually the earliest astir in the Day household, and on pleasant mornings often had a run in the woods or fields before breakfast.

Now she shook out her hair, brushed it quickly, did it up in a becoming little “bob” behind for the nonce, then took her “dip” at the chintz-hung washstand, which was the best means for bathing that the old-fashioned house afforded.

In a few minutes she left her room and ran downstairs and out upon the porch as fresh and sweet and clean as any lady from her luxuriously-appointed bathroom. On the porch she almost ran over a short, freckled, red-haired boy who was coming in with a great armful of stove-wood.

“Goodness sakes alive!” cried Janice, her eyes dancing. “You must have been up all night, Marty Day! What is the matter? Toothache? Or is there a circus in town, that you are up so early?”

“Naw—I haven’t been up all night,” drawled her cousin. “I got the start of you for once, didn’t I, Miss Smartie? This is going to be a great day for you, too. I wonder you slept at all,” and the boy chuckled as he staggered into the kitchen with his armful of stove-wood.

“I didn’t sleep well the first part of the night,”[4] confessed Janice, hovering at the kitchen door to talk to him. “I was so eager, Marty, and so curious! What do you suppose is the surprise Daddy said in his last letter he was sending me?”

“Mebbe he’s captured one of those Mexicans—or a wild Indian,” ventured Marty, grinning, “and is sending it to you.”

“What nonsense!”

“Or one o’ them stinging lizards—or a horned toad, such as he was writing to you about,” suggested the fertile-minded youth.

“Now, Marty!”

“I’ll bet it’s something that’ll make Dad and me work, and we got that addition to the wagon-shed to finish,” and the boy grinned slily as he stooped, piling the wood neatly into the woodbox. There was a change in Marty. Formerly, if he had brought the wood in at all, he would have flung it helter-skelter into the box and run.

“I don’t see,” said Janice thoughtfully, “why you really need that new wagon-shed. And it’s only big enough for one vehicle.”

“Huh!” grunted Marty. “Don’t you like the looks of it?”

“Why—yes; it’s all right. Uncle Jason is a fine carpenter. But I don’t just see the use of it.”

“Mebbe we’re building it to keep that elephant in Uncle Brocky is going to send you—he, he!” chortled Marty, who seemed to be so full of[5] “tickle” that he could not hold the expression of it in.

“Now! I wish you wouldn’t be so ridiculous, Marty Day,” declared Janice, more soberly. “You know Daddy will send me something nice. He says it is something to make me forget my loneliness for him. As though anything could do that!

“For two years, now, he has been down at that hateful mine in Mexico,” continued the girl, with a sigh, and speaking to herself more than to her cousin. “It seems a lifetime. And he says he may have to stay a long time yet.”

“Well, he’s making money,” said Marty bluntly. “Wish I had his chance.”

“Money isn’t everything,” said Janice earnestly. “It does seem as though there ought to be some other man in the mining company who could keep things running down there in Chihuahua, as well as keep peace with both the Constitutionalists and the Federals, and let Daddy take a vacation.

“Oh, Marty! sometimes I feel as though I’d just got to run away down there to see him. Two—long—years!”

“Well, you’d just better not!” ejaculated her cousin. “I’d just like to see you running away and going down there to where all those Mexicans are fighting. Huh! we wouldn’t let you, not much!”

Janice smiled on him suddenly, and if there was a little mist in her eyes, the smile was all the[6] sweeter. It warmed her heart to hear Marty speak in this way, for the boy was not naturally of an affectionate nature.

“All right, Marty!” she exclaimed. “If you don’t want me to go, I’ll stop a while longer.”

“You’d better,” grunted her cousin. “Hi tunket! whatever would Polktown do without you?” he added, with a burst of feeling that was quite amazing, and brought a happy thrill of laughter from Janice Day’s lips.

“You are just as ridiculous as you can be, Marty. Polktown would get along very well without me. Polktown has waked up——”

“And who woke it up?” shot back Marty, belligerently, looking up from the fresh fire he was now kindling in the cookstove.

“Why—why—Mrs. Marvin Petrie and her ‘Clean-Up Day,’ I guess,” laughed Janice, her eyes dancing again. “I know that Polktown began to be Polktown from that very day, and was no longer ‘Poketown,’ as it used to be called.”

Marty shook his head in remembrance of those old times too.

“Don’t know how it all came about, Janice,” he said slowly. “Seems to me things began to happen just about as soon as Uncle Brocky sent you here to live with us. Crackey! We certainly were a slow crowd till you came and began to do something.”

[7]He grinned again broadly. “Walky Dexter says you had the same effect on Polktown as a flea has on a dog. If the flea don’t do nothing else, it keeps the dog stirring!”

“Well, I declare!” exclaimed Janice. “I’m much obliged to Walky, I am sure—comparing me to a flea! I’ll be a bee and sting him next time I get a chance. Here comes Aunt ’Mira. I’m going to help her get breakfast.”

Marty went off, whistling, to help with the chores. His father was already out at the barn. Mrs. Day came heavily into the room—she was almost a giantess of a woman—to find a brightly-burning fire and her niece flitting about, setting the breakfast table.

“I declare for’t, Janice, you are a spry gal,” said the good lady, beginning the preparations for the meal in a capable if not particularly brisk manner. “Ain’t nobody going to get up ahead of you.”

“The sun was ‘up and doing’ before me this morning,” laughed Janice. “And I believe Marty and Uncle Jason were, too. At any rate, they were down before me.”

“It does seem good,” said Aunt ’Mira reflectively, “to come down and find a hot fire in the stove, and water in the bucket. Why, Janice! it never uster be so before you come. I don’t understand it.”

The girl made no reply. For a moment a picture[8] of “the old Day house” and its inmates arose before her mental vision, as it was when first she had come to Polktown from her mid-western home at Greensboro.

The distress she had felt during the first few days of her sojourn with these relatives, who had been utter strangers to her, was not a pleasant thing to contemplate, even at this distance of time.

Until she had taken Daddy’s advice, and put her young shoulder to the local wheel and pushed, Janice Day had been very unhappy. Then her father’s do something spirit had entered into the young girl and she had determined, whether other folk were lazy and lackadaisical or not, that she would go ahead.

Polktown had changed, as Marty said. Slowly but surely it had progressed, and from a very unkempt, slovenly borough, as it was when Janice Day first stepped ashore from the little lake steamer, Constance Colfax, two years before this bright and beautiful summer morning, it had become a clean, orderly and very attractive New England village, with most people doing their best to make the improvement permanent.

Janice was looking forward to the arrival of the little lake steamer to-day with almost as much expectancy as she felt when she first saw Polktown. Daddy had written from Mexico that she could[9] look on this day for a great surprise to arrive by the Constance Colfax.

“The greatest and most lovely surprise in the world,” sighed Janice, looking from the kitchen door as the pork was sizzling in the pan, and Mrs. Day was deftly turning the johnny-cakes, “would be dear Daddy himself coming to Polktown. But, of course, that cannot be for a long, long time.

“I must be patient. I mustn’t look for that. But, goodness me, how curious I am to know just what it is he’s sending me!”



The family sat down to breakfast, and Mr. Day said grace.

He was a spare, gray-faced man, with watery and wandering eyes. Jason Day had never moved quickly in his whole life; but there had been much improvement in him, as well as in the remainder of the family, since first Janice had seen him standing on the dock to welcome her on her arrival at Polktown.

“Great doin’s to-day, I s’pose, Niece Janice,” he said, with rather more humor in his light eyes than they usually displayed.

“That rhinoceros Uncle Brocky is sending her arrives to-day,” chimed in Marty, broadly agrin.

“Wa-al,” observed Mr. Day, with the naturally critical feeling of one brother for another, “Broxton Day has spent some of his money, I kalkerlate, almost as foolish as buying rhinoceroses. He spiles you, Janice, with all the money he’s sent for you to scatter around.”

“Now, Jason Day!” exclaimed Aunt ’Mira, quite[11] vigorously for her, “you be still! You know you don’t mean that. Don’t you mind him, Janice.”

“I don’t,” replied the girl, smiling at her uncle. “And I expect I have spent some of my money foolishly. I didn’t have to tell Daddy what I did with my thousand dollars. And—and maybe I didn’t just want to tell him how I spent some of it.”

“Sending that youngster of Hopewell Drugg’s to Boston,” grumbled Uncle Jason. “I call that a wicked waste! Hopewell orter saved money enough to pay for the child’s being operated on himself.”

“Now, Jason!” admonished Aunt ’Mira again.

“I do not regret spending my money on little Lottie,” said Janice softly, “though I didn’t tell Daddy about it. I just said in my letter that I preferred getting something different from the little car I wanted.

“And I did get something different,” added Janice, with decision. “I get far more satisfaction and pleasure out of knowing that little Lottie Drugg can see again, and will soon hear and talk like other children, than I could possibly experience if I had bought my car.”

Here Marty laughed, and choked, coming near to strangling.

“What’s the matter with you, boy?” demanded his father sternly.

“Lemme pat you on the back, son,” said his[12] mother, trying to rise from her chair to reach him. But with a whoop Marty got up and ran out of doors to finish his spasm in the open air.

“He was laughing and trying to swallow coffee at the same time. I don’t know what he is laughing at,” said Janice, a little plaintively, “but he’s been doing it ever since Daddy’s letter came, telling me to look out for the surprise.

“Why!” she added, “I’d really think that Marty knew what Daddy has sent me—only that’s impossible, of course.”

“Wa-al,” began Uncle Jason; but Aunt ’Mira gave him a look that froze his further words upon his lips, and she likewise changed the subject with an adroit question addressed to her husband:

“How did that railroad business turn out last night, Jason? You went down to the Board of Trade meeting.”

“All right, all right, Almiry, if it don’t double our taxes in the end to hev that railroad come in here,” said Uncle Jason, shaking his head doubtfully. “I kalkerlate that ev’rything that’s new don’t allus mean progress, no-sir-ree-sir! Our committee reported that the V. C. road was coming——”

“Why,” spoke up Marty, who had now come back to finish his breakfast, “there’s a feller in town that’s going to build the bridge for the V. C. branch over Mr. Cross Moore’s brook. His name’s Frank Bowman. I know him,” said Marty proudly.

[13]“Well, I certainly shall be glad when the road’s built,” sighed Aunt ’Mira. “Then a body may get to the city once ’n a while.”

Uncle Jason snorted—no other word could express the sound of disgust he made. “There!” he added. “I s’pose you’ll be runnin’ to town all the endurin’ time, Almiry.”

“Yes,” she said calmly. “I been once to Middletown in the past five years, and ain’t been as far as Montpelier since our weddin’ tower. I’m a great gad-about, Janice. Ain’t that just like a man?”

Uncle Jason subsided, while Marty went on retailing the gossip of the new railroad work that had been the most exciting topic of conversation in Polktown that week.

“This Mr. Bowman’s a civil engineer; and he ain’t much older than Nelson Haley,” said Marty, careful now to distribute his talk and his mouthfuls so as not to choke a second time.

“You’d oughter say Mr. Haley. He’s your school teacher,” his mother admonished him.

“Well,” said Marty, too much interested in his information to take umbrage at his mother’s correction. “Well, this Bowman is going to build the bridge. It’s his first big job with the V. C. I’m going to carry the chain for him, I am!” the boy added, with satisfaction.

“You’d better be in the cornfield, boy, if we[14] expect to make a crop this year,” remarked Mr. Day.

“Hi tunket! you expect a feller to work all the time,” grumbled Marty. “I done my share of that old corn cultivatin’. Might’s well be a slave as to belong around here——”

His grumbling remarks faded out gradually; his father ignored them, saying:

“I ’low Polktown will pick up a bit if all that’s promised comes true. The steamboat company is going to build a new boat. Got to com-pete with the trains when they git to runnin’.”

“It’s lucky that old tub, the Constance Colfax, has held together as long as she has,” said Mr. Day. “There’s some talk of rebuilding the dock, too. I declare for’t! we won’t know the town, come next year this time.”

Her Aunt Almira turned on Janice suddenly, failing to continue her interest in the vista of changes which marked Polktown’s immediate future.

“Say, Janice, is it true that Mr. Haley is going to leave the school?”

Janice flushed a little; but nobody noticed it, for which she was glad.

“I don’t just know what his plans are, Aunt ’Mira,” said the girl hesitatingly. “He has a chance to become an instructor at the college—of course, beginning in a small way. It is really his work[15] here at the new Polktown school that brought him the offer.”

“And of course he’ll take it,” grumbled Marty. “I ain’t goin’ to school no more if Nelse Haley leaves us—now I tell you.”

“How you talk, Marty!” cried Janice. “Of course you will.”

“And of course I won’t, Miss!” reiterated Master Marty.

“Why not?”

“Oh, they’ll git somebody to teach the school like ’Rill Scattergood. Ain’t goin’ to school again to no old maid,” declared Marty, with a finality that could not be doubted.

“Perhaps Mr. Haley will not leave us so soon,” said Janice quietly. “I think he has not decided finally to accept the offer of the college committee. He thinks, and so do—do his friends,” added Janice hastily, “that another year’s experience with his present school might help him a great deal in the future.”

“And sartain sure,” Uncle Jason, who was one of young Haley’s staunchest partizans, said, “Polktown needs him. He’s one fine feller. Now, Marty! if you’ve tucked away about all the feed you can carry for a while, we’ll put the finishing touches to that new shed.”

“Well, we’ve got to hurry,” declared the younger Day. “I promised to meet Frank Bowman about[16] that chain-carrying job this forenoon; and you bet I want to be at the dock when the Constance Colfax arrives with that African gi-raffe that Janice is expecting.”

“What do you suppose Marty means?” demanded Janice, as she helped Aunt ’Mira scrape and stack the breakfast plates, preparatory to their bath in hot suds. “I am almost ready to believe that he does know what Daddy’s surprise is to be. But he can’t really know; can he, Auntie?”

“Oh, it’s only Marty’s foolishness. I wouldn’t bother my head about him,” said Mrs. Day comfortably.

But to expect Janice Day to think of anything that morning but the promised present from Daddy, was to demand the impossible. She helped about the house as usual, singing blithely the while; but her active thought was with the Constance Colfax blundering up the lake from The Landing toward the Polktown dock.

The hammers of Uncle Jason and Marty rang vigorously until about nine o’clock. The new shed which had so puzzled Janice was finished. Mr. Day went off to the cornfield while Marty slipped away, probably to meet Mr. Bowman and “see about that job,” as he had told Janice.

Marty was a good deal like the majority of human beings. He did not care to do the tasks right at his hand, but wanted something that looked better[17] and bigger in the distance. He disliked school—or had done so until Nelson Haley came to Polktown to teach; and now that school was not in session he did not want to help his father run their small farm.

There was a halo of romance, in fact, about any trade that took him away from home. He often told Janice he wished he was like “Uncle Brocky,” and could “go ’way off to a mine in Mexico, or any old place!”

“This doing chores, and going to school, and bringing in wood and water, and all that, is good enough for half these fellers in Polktown. They haven’t any spirit in ’em!” Marty frequently complained to his cousin.

Janice was far too wise to try to talk him out of this mental attitude. Marty—as his mother often said—was “as stubborn as a mule.”

But she influenced him by other means. She shamed the boy into doing some things that he would gladly have left undone; she ignored his faults, bolstered up his pride, and spurred his ambition. Secretly her cousin would have done much to keep Janice’s good opinion. But, of course, boy-like, he would not admit his affection for her.

The hour for the arrival of the lake steamboat approached. From her window Janice had watched for the smudge of her smoke against the sky, and the appearance of her bow around the steep promontory[18] which hid the lower end of the lake from the Day house.

When the steamer thus appeared she was more than two miles from the Polktown dock. But Janice seized her hat and hastened down the hill.

She was not the only person abroad interested in the arrival of the boat. When Janice came to the main street of the town she saw several people going down to the dock.

Walky Dexter, the expressman, a well-known town character, was driving Josephus, his poky old horse, dockward, in expectation of a load of drummers’ sample cases and a possible trunk.

Some of the boys and many of the village idlers were drifting lakeward, too; and, yes! there was Marty, in the company of a tall young man in good clothes, and with well set-up shoulders, walking briskly in the same direction.

“I wonder if that is the Frank Bowman he spoke of?” thought Janice. “It must be. I wonder if he’s nice?”

And then she forgot all about the stranger and Marty and everybody else for something that she caught sight of on the freight deck of the Constance Colfax. That ugly, blundering old craft was almost at the dock, and Janice could see this startling object plainly. Something within told her that this was the joyful surprise Daddy had prepared for her.

[19]Big girl that she was, Janice broke into a run. She could not get to the dock quickly enough, so eager was she to make sure about the expected gift.



The usual loiterers on the dock were amused to see Janice Day’s eagerness; but she did not care. Walky Dexter hailed her cheerfully:

“I say, Janice, ye won’t miss the boat; don’t be in such a ’tarnal hurry. She’s going to stop long enough to take you aboard, I guess.”

“I don’t want to go aboard, Walky,” she declared, stopping breathlessly beside his wagon, and laying a kind hand on the bony hip of Josephus. “But I believe there is something aboard that belongs to me—Oh! I can hardly wait to find out if it’s mine.”

“If what’s yours, Janice?” asked the man, with waking interest.

“That! Right there on the deck! It’s partly covered with canvas, but you can see what it is,” cried Janice.

“Jefers pelters!” ejaculated the astonished Walkworthy, tipping back his cap and scratching his head to stir his slow wits. “You don’t mean[21] that contraption with all the shiny brass and leather, and them other dinguses—lamps, d’ye call ’em?—down front, with an in-gine cowcatcher, into the bargain?”

“You know very well that’s a four-passenger automobile, Walky!” she cried. “And they’ve got it ready to run ashore here. It must be for me! And Daddy sent it!”

“Well, Ma’am!” exclaimed the driver of Josephus, “it’ll be sure something new in Polktown. We ain’t never had one o’ them things here before—not to stop, at any rate. Us’ally,” added Mr. Dexter, with a wink, “they go through Polktown like what the Chinaman said about his ’sperience slidin’ down hill on the bobsled: ‘Whiz-z-z! Walkee back!’

“I don’t s’pose some o’ them ortermobilists even see Polktown as they go through. Sometimes I meet one o’ them—there’s a cloud of dust—somethin’ squawks like a frightened hen—Josephus gits up on his hind legs—and it’s all over! Some day I ’spect Josephus is goin’ to ditch me because of one of ’em. And if this one is going to be right here in town——”

He had climbed lazily down from his seat while he rambled on. Now Janice seized his arm and shook it a little.

“Oh, Talkworthy!” she said, giving him the nickname she often used when he was more than[22] usually garrulous. “Do, do find out if that’s for me!”

The man on the dock had already caught and fastened the two hawsers. The old Constance Colfax snuggled in close to the dock. The broad gangplank was being run ashore and the deckhands stood ready with laden trucks to run freight and express over it.

The captain of the steamboat came to lean upon the landward rail. “Say,” he asked of the assembled spectators, “anybody know ‘J. Day’? Got something here for him. He’ll hafter come and run it off the boat, or tow it off, or something. Can’t let him git up steam in the thing while she stands on our deck.”

Janice could scarcely keep from dancing up and down. She clasped her hands and cried fervently under her breath: “Oh, Daddy! Just the most delightful thing you could have sent me!”

Walky took charge at once. “That ain’t no man—‘J. Day’ ain’t, Cap,” he drawled. “She’s this young lady here,” and he jerked an identifying thumb toward Janice. “Don’t that merchine run of itself? Ain’t there no power in it?”

“Power enough,” grunted the steamboat captain. “But it’s ag’in rules to run it ashore under her own power. Hitch a line to her and tackle that old crow-bait of yourn to her, Walky. You kin snake her ashore in a minute.”

[23]“What! Josephus?” demanded the startled Walky. “My mercy! if Josephus should see that contraption tackled to him, I dunno what he would do!”

“He might move faster than a toad funeral for once in his life, eh, Walky?” suggested one of the interested spectators on the dock, and a laugh was raised against the talkative expressman.

“No, sir,” said Walky firmly; “we’ll just put Josephus out of the question, if you please. If there ain’t men enough here to run this young lady’s ortermobile ashore——”

Several came forward. Janice caught sight of Marty standing aside, grinning delightedly. She made a rush for him while the men were pushing the car ashore.

“Marty Day!” she exclaimed, seizing that youth by the shoulders. “You knew all about this—you did! you did!”

“Ouch! Ouch!” yelled Marty, in mock injury. “Don’t be so rough with a feller! Have a heart, Janice!”

“You knew about it—you did!” reiterated Janice.

“Oh! Uncle Brocky let us know it was coming,” said the boy, in an off-hand way. “That’s why Dad and me got busy on the gar-bage, Janice.”

Garage! Goodness!” laughed Janice. “You talk as though it was something that the cat had[24] brought in! ‘Garbage,’ indeed! But how nice of you and Uncle Jason to build it!”

“Dad kicked,” sniffed Marty. “Not about building the shack for you,” he hastened to add; “but because Uncle Brocky was wasting his money to buy one o’ them buzz-carts. But Marm—well, you know, Marm’s getting to be a reg’lar sport.”

“Oh, Marty!”

“Sure she is. She’s a dif’rent woman since she has had your board money to spend. She told Dad that she had sent to a catalogue house out west for an ortermobile coat and veil, and all the fixin’s, and she was just as anxious to wear ’em as she could be.”

“I knew how poor Aunt ’Mira was disappointed,” sighed Janice, “when I had to give up the idea of buying a car.”

“Yep,” agreed Marty. “She kalkerlates to make the other wimmen on Hillside Avenue—if not all over Polktown—sit up and take notice when she ’pears out in them new duds.”

“But it’s a mystery to me,” said Janice slowly, and more to herself than to her cousin, “just how Daddy knew I wanted a car so, and still couldn’t buy one. It’s just as though he read my mind.”

She failed to see Marty’s face. That lad looked as though he knew a whole lot that he was not ready or willing to divulge.

“Now, Miss Janice!” puffed Walky Dexter, the[25] new car being run on the dock, “what do you kalkerlate’s to be done with this here do-funny? Whoa, Josephus! if that critter ever turns around and sees this thing, I dunno what he will do!”

“I know what he’ll do,” scoffed Marty. “He’ll wink his other eye; he winked the first one half an hour ago and hasn’t woke up since.”

“Now, now! you be more respectful to old age, sonny,” advised Mr. Dexter. “The old hoss bears an honorable name——”

“And has borne it a long time,” finished Marty. “Do you re’lly think, Walky, that a stick of dynamite would startle him?”

But Janice was not interested in this rough and ready repartee. She was wondering about the new car. The canvas had been stripped off and she looked all about it, admiring its shiny surface, the wonderful brass trimmings, and the mechanism that was in sight.

She knew something about a car. One of her friends in Greensboro had owned a similar vehicle, and she had often ridden in it, and had learned some of the technical terms, and what the parts of the machine looked like. But that had been more than two years before and, of course, at that time Janice had been too young to get a license and had not learned to run the car.

She longed to jump in behind the wheel and send the beautiful machine spinning up the long, easy hill[26] into Polktown, and up Hillside Avenue to the old Day house.

“But there isn’t any gasoline in it, of course,” she sighed. “We can’t run it up ourselves. And Walky’s old horse would never be able to drag it up the hill.”

“I’ll go git our team and haul it up,” proposed Marty, with an uncanny eagerness to do this favor.

“No,” said Janice. “It must go home under its own power. We won’t insult such a beautiful car by towing it like a derelict.”

“Many a time I ’xpect will I find ye broke down on the road, Miss Janice,” prophesied Walky, “and glad to have Josephus give first aid to the injured.”

“Don’t you believe it!” cried Janice. “I’m going to learn all about this car, and how to drive it and repair it. You wait and see!”

“But how?” demanded Marty, grinning. “Going to take a correspondence school course and learn to be a shuffer?”

“Oh!” cried Janice. “It has a self-starter. Why! it’s just the very up-to-datest thing!”

“Crackey! I’m going to run and git some gasoline. They keep it up the street. Let’s fill the tank, Janice, start her going, and try to work our passage up to the house.”

“Oh, Marty! I hardly dare,” gasped the girl, yet tempted sorely to try his desperate suggestion.

“Get the gasoline, anyway,” urged Marty.

[27]“All right,” she agreed, and took out her purse and handed him some money. “You get it, Marty. But, after we get the engine to running, I don’t see what we shall do. Isn’t there a single person in town who knows how to manage an automobile?”

“I say!” exclaimed Marty suddenly. “I bet I know just the feller.”

“Who is that?” queried his cousin anxiously.

But the boy was off with a yell and without other reply. Meanwhile Walky and other willing workers had rolled the machine into the freight shed, and there it stood, the cynosure of the spectators in general.

The comments upon the first auto to be owned in Polktown would have amused Janice at another time. But many of them escaped her ear because she was so much interested herself in the machine and how she was going to get it home. But she did hear Mel Parraday observe:

“I opine one o’ them things is mighty handy to have around. I allus look at the pictures of ’em in the advertising pages of the magazines them drummers leave up to the ho-tel. If the Inn makes me enough out o’ the boarders this summer, I kalkerlate to have me one.”

“What for, Mel?” drawled Lem Pinney of the hotel-keeper. “You ain’t got no more use for an ortermobile than a cat has for two tails, I vow!”

“Save payin’ Walky, here, for carting stuff up to[28] the ho-tel,” grinned Parraday. “And me and the old woman can ride to church in it on Sundays.”

“Go to church in it!” scoffed Walky. “If old Elder Concannon ever seen one o’ them things stop in front of the Union Church, he’d throw a conniption right there, in his best suit. He calls ’em ‘devil wagons,’ and says they was prophesied against in the Book of Daniel.”

Just then Marty reappeared, coming down the long dock. He was staggering under the weight of a five-gallon gasoline can. Beside him walked the tall, well-set-up young man whom Janice had seen with her cousin before.

“Oh, dear me!” thought she, with a little flutter. “That must be the civil engineer, Frank Bowman. Marty is bringing him right here! Perhaps he knows how to run an automobile.”



When her cousin and the young man came near enough, Janice saw that Mr. Bowman was a good-looking person in countenance as well as in figure. He had very blue eyes and very pink cheeks, without being at all effeminate in appearance. His light hair he wore pompadour and brushed up straight over his forehead.

He wore his clothes differently, too, from anybody Janice had seen about Polktown. Even Nelson Haley, the school teacher, did not boast garments of such cut and quality—nor Mr. Middler, the minister.

Marty banged down the gasoline can with a satisfied air and said, in his off-hand way:

“Say, Janice! this is Frank Bowman I was telling you about. He can run an ortermobile. Can’t you, Frank?”

“Good-day, Miss Janice,” said the young civil engineer, lifting his hat.

Janice could have shaken Marty for not properly introducing the young man. The careless introduction[30] had given Mr. Bowman the advantage of calling her by her first name right at the start, and Janice felt that she would like to be “really grown up” in her association with this new acquaintance.

“I am afraid Marty overrates my ability as a mechanician,” the young civil engineer continued. “There are some automobiles, I believe, that not even their manufacturers can make run properly. But these Kremlins are very good machines. I have a friend in New York who has one and I have often driven it. I believe you have made a wise selection for this hilly country.”

“I am sure I know very little about it,” said Janice, smiling. “I have always believed that cars were like typewriters, or bicycles, or—or physicians and ministers! Every one stands up for his own particular possession in all those lines, you know.”

“That is so, too,” agreed Frank Bowman, with a laugh. “At any rate, you will be an enthusiastic admirer of this Kremlin car, I am sure; and I shall be a partizan myself. Marty says you have no idea how to run it?”

“I am a regular ignoramus,” admitted Janice. “If—if I’d known Daddy was going to surprise me with such a very wonderful gift, I would have gone to Middletown, or somewhere where there is a garage, and have taken lessons in running the car.”

“Say, you ain’t got a license, either, Janice,”[31] said Marty suddenly. “They’ll pinch you, mebbe, if you drive it around here without one.”

“Don’t try to scare your cousin, Mart,” said the young man good-naturedly. “That’s easily remedied, for sure. As I happen to have a license myself, I’ll drive the car home for you—if you will permit me, Miss Janice?”

“My goodness! ain’t that just what I’ve been telling you she wants?” demanded the boy. “You folks are eaten up with politeness!”

Marty’s boyish and characteristic outburst put Janice and young Bowman immediately at their ease. Two young people who have laughed heartily together cannot remain strangers.

Frank Bowman stripped off his coat and went to work. The gasoline tank was filled and also the water radiator and the oil box, and he tried out the various parts of the mechanism that could be observed while the car stood still. Something might have become jarred since the car left the factory, and as this very civil engineer said:

“We want to go through Polktown with colors flying. It would be too bad to have a mishap—say about in front of Massey’s drug store—and have all the town gather around and make derisive comments.”

Janice laughed at this, and watched his skillful hands as he went about what seemed to her and Marty a very mysterious task. But the car had[32] been tried out just before it left the salesrooms of the company, and nothing had happened to the mechanism in transit. It seemed to be in perfect condition.

The self-starter acted promptly, and when Marty heard the engine whir and buzz, he tore off his cap, threw it into the air, and cheered.

“Hurrah! that’s the bulliest sound I’ve heard in a long time! Crackey!” cried the young barbarian, “won’t we scare the hosses and hens into fits along these old roads? Say, Frank! you’ll teach me to run it, too, won’t you?”

“You’ll have to fix that with your cousin,” laughed the young civil engineer. “I am going to teach her, if she will allow me, first of all. Get in, Miss Janice. I believe we shall be able to make Hillside Avenue in fine style.”

“Hold on!” cried Marty. “Don’t leave a feller behind,” and he pulled open the door of the tonneau and jumped in. “I only hope we meet Walky Dexter. I’d like to see if that old crow-bait of his could be scared into a show of life for once.”

“Mercy, Marty!” said Janice. “Don’t hope for such perfectly horrid things to happen. I want to have a good time with this car; but I don’t want anybody else to have a bad time because of it.”

Marty chuckled. “What do you suppose will happen if you ever meet the Hammett Twins on the road with their old Ginger?”

[33]“Nothing will happen. I shall stop the car and lead poor Ginger around it, of course,” declared Janice, laughing.

Frank Bowman slipped the clutch into low gear. The car jarred, lurched forward, and slowly and smoothly rolled out of the shed.

Most of the spectators had departed, save some small boys. They yelled at Marty, sitting proudly in the tonneau; he was too excited to answer their gibes.

Gradually, but quickly, so as to save the engine, Frank slipped the clutch to higher speed—then highest. The automobile rolled easily off the dock and into the principal street of Polktown.

The car took the hill smoothly and without trouble for the engine. Janice was delighted. Her eyes shone; the little tendrils of hair about her brow were tossed by the breeze; the pink in her cheeks deepened.

Everybody on the street stopped to watch the novel sight; but perhaps they looked as much at Janice and Frank as they did at the shiny Kremlin car.

“Hullo!” exclaimed Marty. “Here comes Nelse Haley.”

Janice did not hear. The young schoolmaster came out of a side street and stopped, amazed to see Janice Day beside a very fine-looking young man, driving up High Street in an automobile!

[34]Nelson Haley considered himself Janice Day’s nearest and dearest friend. He felt a little stab of jealousy to see her in the new car with this stranger. And she did not notice him!

It was from the bystanders that the teacher obtained his first information regarding the ownership of the new car. He had no means of knowing that the present was a surprise to Janice.

It seemed odd that she had said nothing about expecting the automobile. And to let this strange fellow run it for her!

Nelson Haley could not drive an automobile himself; just the same he felt a little hurt. When Janice had spent the money Mr. Day sent her to help Lottie Drugg, she had told Nelson all about it, and he had sympathized with her, and admired her all the more for her unselfishness.

He wondered who the young fellow was who drove the new machine, and he asked questions. A young man from out of Polktown would be likely to interest Janice Day, Nelson believed. He felt chagrined that he had never learned to drive a car.

The conversation that went on between Frank Bowman and Janice as the car rolled smoothly up the hilly streets, might have troubled Nelson Haley, too; but all that was said came as a matter of course.

[35]“Your car runs very nicely, Miss Janice,” Frank Bowman observed.

“Oh! I’d love to handle it as you do,” cried the girl. “I’m afraid it will be like a balky horse for me until I have a lot of experience.”

“If you let me give you a few lessons in my spare time, I will guarantee you will run it as well as I do,” laughed Frank. “I’d be glad to lend you my small experience.”

“Oh, Mr. Bowman! I couldn’t take your time.”

“Only some of my leisure,” he hastened to say. “It will keep me out of mischief. You know the old saw about ‘idle hands’?”

“And would you really be getting into mischief?” asked Janice, with mock seriousness.

“Like enough,” returned Frank, with twinkling eyes. “This Polktown place is such a wicked and reckless town. Wait till my sister sees it! She will want to pack up and leave after the first day. In fact, I tell her she’ll never unpack her trunk when she once sees the place.”

“Oh! have you a sister? And is she coming here?” cried Janice eagerly.

“So she says. Annette has just been ‘finished’ (Frank made a little grimace over the word) at a fancy boarding school. We’re orphans, you know. She is determined to come here and live with me. She’s several years younger than I am; but she feels[36] it her sisterly duty to oversee my bachelor existence.”

“You’ll love to have her with you,” Janice said confidently.

“Oh, Annette’s a good kid,” said the civil engineer carelessly. “But she’ll be bored to death here in a week, and will go down to our relatives in New York. She was not made for a rural life, I assure you.”

“And you do not take much delight in country places, either?” suggested Janice slily. “You look down upon our simple pleasures.”

“Well, if the ‘simple pleasures’ you speak of include driving a nice little car like this,” laughed Frank Bowman, “I don’t think there is much to complain of.”

After a while he added: “I shan’t have much idle time on my hands. I am laying out the route for the new branch of the V. C., you know. And when my reports are ratified at headquarters, I hope to go ahead and build the bridges and trestles necessary to bring the line into Polktown.

“It will be something of a job, and I shall be around Polktown for a long time. I thought it would be ‘poky,’ like its name,” and Bowman laughed. “But I find there are some very interesting people here.” He looked sideways at Janice. “Surely this beautiful car is an interest I[37] did not expect. You must let me teach you what I know about running it,” he reiterated.

“Thank you,” said Janice demurely. “If Aunt ’Mira is willing, you may. And I am grateful enough for your driving us home, I assure you!”

“Oh, this mustn’t count as a lesson,” laughed Bowman. “You haven’t learned anything yet.”

But Janice thought she had. She had learned considerable about this very civil engineer, and what she had learned piqued her interest in him.

Perhaps his sister, too, would prove to be pleasant. A girl right from boarding school might stir the sluggish pool of Polktown society—bring modern ideas and new thoughts into the place.

There was still room for progress in Polktown along these lines, as Janice very well knew. She was interested in Frank Bowman; but much more so in the coming of his sister, Annette.



The approach to the old Day house was a triumph. Not only Aunt ’Mira and Uncle Jason, but most of the neighbors were out to see the homecoming of Janice’s new car.

Molly, the brindle cow, put her head over the corner of the pasture fence, caught sight of the car and its glistening brass work and dust-guard flashing in the sunlight, and immediately set out for the upper end of the pasture, tail up and head down.

The dogs barked a welcome; the sorrel ponies put their heads out of their stable windows and snorted disapproval; and the Day tabby cat, with its tail twice as big as usual, went up the poplar tree in fright as Frank turned the car into the lane.

“My goodness me!” gasped Aunt Almira, coming down the porch steps in her eagerness to view the car. “Ain’t that the han’somest thing you ever see? My soul and body, Janice! I am glad I spent my money for them ortermobile fixin’s, after all!”

Janice introduced Frank Bowman.

[39]“And he knows all about the car and is kind enough to offer to teach me to run it. If you approve, Auntie,” the girl added.

“There! that’s neighborly, I declare for’t!” agreed Mrs. Day, wiping her hand on her apron before she offered it to the young engineer. “Sure, I’ve no objection. I expect to l’arn to run it myself after a while.”

“Good Land of Goshen, Almiry!” gasped Uncle Jason. “You’d look harnsome sittin’ up there a-drivin’ that contraption.”

“Why not, I’d like to know?” demanded she, bridling at his sarcasm.

“One thing sure,” grunted her husband, after a moment. “You can’t make that kind of a spectacle of yourself, even if ye want to.”

“Why not?”

“’Cause you couldn’t git in behind that wheel in the fust place to steer it. You’re too fat.”

Janice tried to smooth over this very plain speaking on her uncle’s part by introducing him to Frank Bowman.

“Yes,” put in Marty. “He’s the chap I was telling you about. He’s working for the V. C. Railroad Company, and is going to build the bridge over Mr. Cross Moore’s brook.”

“Glad to meet you, Mr. Day,” said the young man, shaking the farmer’s hardened hand. “Marty and I are already great friends and your niece is[40] kind enough to call me an acquaintance. Hope we shall know each other better.”

“It’ll be your fault, young man, if we don’t. You’ll be welcome here when you fancy coming. Won’t he, Almiry?”

“That’s right,” agreed Mrs. Day heartily.

Janice saw that both her uncle and aunt were much taken with the manner and good looks of Frank Bowman. She was glad of this for she did so want to learn all about running the new Kremlin car—and in a hurry!

Frank backed the automobile around and they rolled it into the new shed. The latter made a very good garage, indeed; and although Uncle Jason saw fit to consider the automobile an extravagance on his brother’s part, Janice kissed him soundly for his work in preparing for the reception of the gift.

The young civil engineer promised to come the very next day to give Janice her first lesson in the actual handling of the car, and then took his leave.

“Mighty smart-actin’ young feller,” commented Uncle Jason. “Got some git-up-an’-git about him—don’t ye say so, Almiry?”

“He’s got such pretty eyes!” exclaimed Mrs. Day. “And he says he ain’t never had a mother since he was nine years old. Wouldn’t his mother be proud of him now?”

“I’ve heard you say, ‘Handsome is as handsome[41] does,’ Aunt ’Mira,” said Janice roguishly. “He’s too new a friend to praise yet.”

“Huh!” said Marty. “He got us home in the buzz-cart, didn’t he? Shows he’s a good feller. But crackey! wouldn’t it make him sore if he knew Marm said he had pretty eyes?” and the boy giggled.

Janice was off in a brown study again. She was wondering, wondering, wondering! And the burden of her surmises and suspicions was: “How did Daddy know I still wanted the car, when he had once sent me money to get it? He must know about little Lottie.”

Yet she had been very careful to say nothing in her letters regarding her help toward paying for the operation that had aided Lottie Drugg to see again. Janice Day had never hoped “to have her cake and eat it, too.”

Through supper that evening she watched Marty closely. He began to notice her observation and wriggled under it. No other word could just express his fidgeting.

“Do keep still, Marty,” begged his mother. “Can’t you be quiet in your chair long enough to eat a meal of victuals?”

“Well! what’s Janice looking at me like that for?” grumbled the boy. “I ain’t a penny peep-show; am I, now?”

[42]“Nobody would give a penny to look at you,” said his father tartly. “You’re like an eel.”

“Marty!” exclaimed Janice suddenly, “when was it you wrote last to my father? I forget.”

“It was right after Christmas, wasn’t it, sonny?” suggested his mother, “when you thanked Mr. Broxton Day for the present of the gold piece?”

“Aw, I wrote him since then,” said Marty cheerfully. “You know, he sent me a rattlesnake skin for a band to my hat.”

“That was in May,” Janice said quickly. “Did you thank him for that, too?”

“Yep,” returned the boy.

“And that was after I’d spent my thousand dollars—or most of it,” said Janice softly. “It was so thoughtful of Daddy to notice that I didn’t spend my money for a car.”

“Huh! why wouldn’t he notice it?” retorted Marty, dipping half a doughnut in his tea and then eating it quickly so as not to lose any of the soft confection.

“I told him I’d got something different—and he never even asked me what it was,” continued Janice.

Marty began to giggle.

“Look out, young man!” warned his father, “you’ll choke yourself again.”

“He giggles every time I speak about Daddy’s giving me the car and asking no questions,” said[43] Janice reflectively. “I smell a mouse, Marty! You told!

“Told what? I never!” demanded and denied the boy in a breath, but all one broad grin.

“You wrote Daddy about my—my helping Lottie Drugg.”

“Aw, shucks! You don’t know so.”

“Yes, I do.”

“Who told you?” demanded Marty.

“A boy.”

“What boy?” cried Marty, in flushed wrath. “I didn’t tell no boy.”

“You’re a boy yourself, Marty,” laughed Janice gaily, and with shining eyes, “and you have just told me!”

“Aw, you cheated,” grumbled Marty, very red in the face.

“What did you do it for?” asked Janice.

“Well! he ought to know that you didn’t do anything foolish with that money. I don’t care what you say, Dad,” he added, bristling up. “Poor little Lottie Drugg tumbled down the cellar steps and might have been killed. By crackey! I’d have give money myself to have her see. Yes, I would.”

Then he suddenly grinned slily across the table at Janice, and added: “B’sides, I wanted to run a car myself. I thought he’d buy you one if he knew what you’d done with your money.”

“I don’t believe you were so selfish in your[44] thought, Marty,” said the girl, her eyes misty. “I can’t scold you, now it’s done, and the car is here, but I am going to punish you just the same.”

She jumped up from her seat and started around the table. Marty looked scared for a moment. She bore down on him with such plain intention, however, that he began to grin sheepishly again.

“Aw, g’wan, Janice,” he said, trying to fight her off.

But she was as strong as he. She held his arms tightly and implanted a kiss on one of his freckled cheeks and then on the other.

“There, sir!” she declared. “You are a most blessed boy. I can’t approve of your tattling to Daddy; but you meant well, and I certainly am crazy about that car! Let’s go out and look at it again, Marty.”

“All right,” he agreed, vigorously rubbing his cheek with his coat sleeve. “But no more kissing. I’m no girlie-boy.”

They viewed the car by lantern light; and in the night when Janice chanced to wake up, she was almost tempted to run out in her night clothes, unlock the garage door, and make sure that the automobile was a reality!

Frank Bowman came the next afternoon to take out the car and give Janice her first lesson in its management. They went up on the Upper Road,[45] so called, and that was where Elder Concannon lived.

The Elder had built up and had ministered unto the flock of the Polktown Union Church for a great many years. Now superannuated, and grown moderately wealthy in this world’s goods, he was not only a power in the church, but influential in the town’s politics as well.

A new idea to the Elder was usually like a red rag to a bull. Improvement and change he sniffed from afar and when the smell of it was in his nostrils, as Walky Dexter irreverently expressed it, “pawed the ground like a he-goat!”

On several occasions Elder Concannon had opposed changes suggested by Janice, or in which she was deeply interested. Of late, however, he had begun to think “that Day girl” not quite so flighty as he had at first maintained.

The old gentleman—a grim-faced, prophet-like figure—sat on his porch as the new car went by his house on the Upper Road. He started when he saw Janice, her hair flying, her face flushed, and all her youthful eagerness displayed in attitude and countenance as she clung to the wheel and felt the throb of the engine. Frank sat close to her, guiding the car in reality, but showing her from minute to minute just what pedal or lever to use, and how to manage the wheel.

Coming back, the automobilists saw Elder Concannon[46] down at his front gate. He raised his hand commandingly as the car drew near, and Frank, with an amused glance at Janice, brought the Kremlin to an easy stop.

“I’m surprised to see you in one of those ungodly things, Janice,” said the old man seriously. “Many who ride in them are led into wrong ways. They are an invention of the devil, I verily believe.”

“Oh, Mr. Concannon!” cried Janice. “I hope you don’t really believe that! You will have to take a ride in this one sometime and give it a trial. You see, it belongs to me. Daddy just sent it as a present. I am learning to run it.”

“You surprise me, Janice!” repeated the Elder, frowning. “The world has run mad over those things. I am sorry that your father was so thoughtless as to spend good money for one.”

“Don’t say that, please,” begged Janice again. “Daddy did it to give me pleasure, and I shall want to give other people pleasure with it, too. I hope you will take a ride in it with me before you utterly condemn the car. Do!”

“I have observed them on the road, and the reckless manner in which people who ride in them run the machines,” said the old gentleman. “I disapprove—thoroughly and irrevocably! Had I my way I would get a law through the Legislature refusing automobilists the use of the public[47] highways. I scarcely dare drive from here to Middletown because of the numbers of those devil wagons on the Middletown Pike.”

“But you don’t know how quietly and easily this runs, sir,” put in Frank Bowman, with perfect gravity. “Like every good thing, reckless and foolish people misuse it. You would not condemn the printing press because bad books are printed on it as well as good?”

“Sophistry—sophistry, young man,” croaked the Elder. “I am sorry to see two young people like you and Janice engaged in such pleasures. The world’s run mad after these things, I tell you!” and he turned about, shaking his head warningly, and retired again to his porch.

Yet Janice and Frank noticed that, as they speeded up and down the road for the next hour, Elder Concannon watched the running of the car with increasing interest.

And it did run beautifully! Janice quickly learned the uses of the guiding wheel, the switch, the pedals and levers, how to start the car, and all that. Frank pronounced her an apt pupil and declared all she needed was practice to make her a proficient chauffeur.



As they came down Hillside Avenue, past the cornfields and Walky Dexter’s outlying barns and sheds, Janice caught sight of a figure turning out of the gate of the old Day place.

“Oh, there’s Nelson!” ejaculated the girl, before she thought.

“Nelson who?” queried Frank lightly.

“Mr. Haley. He’s principal of the school here in Polktown,” replied Janice more quietly.

“He’s been calling on you and you weren’t at home, eh?” laughed Frank Bowman.

“He is often at the house,” Janice thought it necessary to explain. “Marty is one of his favorite pupils, and my uncle and aunt are quite fond of Mr. Haley. He is really very popular in Polktown, for in a short time he has made our new school greatly appreciated.”

“He’s won his spurs, then, has he?” said Frank Bowman, rather wistfully. “And I have mine to win yet! This job I have obtained with the V. C. is my first.”

[49]“I should think,” Janice said demurely, “that both you and Mr. Haley have plenty of time yet to win your spurs. I see no gray hairs in either your head or his.”

“A hit—a palpable hit!” answered Frank, laughing. “But after a fellow has spent three or four years at college, he feels old. Youth, however, is a disease they tell me Time will always cure.”

He would not let Janice drive the car on the steep roads yet, but brought it safely himself into the Day premises. Mrs. Day insisted upon Frank’s stopping for a “snack,” as she called it, setting a pitcher of cool milk and her best pound cake before the visitor.

“I wanted Mr. Haley to stop and have some with you,” said the good lady, swinging to and fro in the porch rocker, her weight making both it and the boards of the floor creak, “but he ’peared to be in a hurry.”

“Did he come for anything in particular?” asked Janice, trying to speak casually.

“Mebbe he was looking for a ride in your new ortermobile,” her Aunt Almira said placidly. “I’m jest all of a tickle myself, waitin’ for my first go at it. Mr. Haley asked all about it, and I told him how kind Mr. Bowman was to show you how to run it.”

Janice felt self-conscious whenever Nelson’s[50] name was mentioned in company. She had written Daddy all about the school teacher—she never could have kept such a secret as that from him—and Mr. Broxton Day had advised her to have no decided understanding with the young man, save the understanding that they were good friends.

“When I can leave the mine and come to Polktown and meet personally my little Janice’s friend,” wrote Daddy, “it will be time enough for us to decide this momentous question of what he is to be to you.

“I think my little Janice is much too young to have more than a friendly interest in any young man. I hope, however, if Nelson is worthy of your confidence, that you will be a real friend to him. The greatest inspiration a young man can have at the outset of his career is the interest of a good girl.

“You say Nelson has no sister; and you have no brother. Your sisterly interest in his welfare, and his companionship will benefit you both. Always keep his respect and admiration; and I hope, my dear, by the time I can come to you for a visit, you will have learned Nelson’s character thoroughly.”

Daddy always did write such dear letters! Janice was sure no mother, even, could be as wise[51] and kindly as her father. She liked Nelson Haley very much; but Mr. Day’s advice was right in line with her own feelings. Even an engagement between the school teacher and herself was only to be thought of as a possibility of the future.

She knew that she had been Nelson’s inspiration since he had come to Polktown; and she was proud that he had made a success of the new school. She was glad, too, that he had been called by the board of the small college, whether he finally accepted the position as instructor there or not.

Janice wondered if Nelson had come to the house to talk over that very matter with her on the afternoon she had taken her first lesson in automobile driving. And after several days, as the school teacher did not come again, she made an attempt to put herself in his way.

The teacher boarded with Mrs. Beasely, who lived almost opposite Hopewell Drugg’s general store, on the street leading down to Pine Cove. Around the corner on High Street Miss ’Rill Scattergood and her mother lived. Miss ’Rill had taught the Polktown School for years before Nelson Haley came, and the pretty little old maid and Janice were very dear friends.

Mrs. Scattergood, a birdlike old lady, with a sharp tongue and inquisitive mind, met Janice as usual with a question.

“What’s happened to that ortermobile, child?[52] I hear tell you got one, but you ain’t been on High Street with it yet. What’s the matter—you ain’t ashamed of it, be you?”

“I don’t think I could be ashamed of any gift from Daddy,” laughed Janice.

“Mebbe it’s that young man I hear tell is teachin’ you to run the thing, that you’re ashamed of?” queried the sharp-tongued old lady.

“Now, mother!” begged Miss ’Rill.

But Janice was used to Mrs. Scattergood’s pointed speeches, and she took no offense.

“I shan’t appear on High Street,” she declared, smiling, “until I can manage the car perfectly myself.”

“Wa-al! I hear he’s a very likely young man,” said Mrs. Scattergood, insisting upon making gossip of Frank Bowman’s attentions. “And I expect Mr. Haley’s nose is out o’ j’int.”

Janice was a little afraid that the homely expression hit off the situation only too well. She was no coquette. She did not enjoy the thought that perhaps Nelson Haley was slightly jealous of Mr. Frank Bowman.

“Hopewell received a letter from little Lottie last night,” whispered Miss ’Rill. “Want to go ’round and read it?”

Janice nodded brightly. She was always interested in news of her little protégée. Miss ’Rill put on a fresh apron and prepared to go around to the[53] store with her. This little lady and Hopewell Drugg were soon to be married, and their romance had long interested Janice. Miss ’Rill’s trousseau was a source of great delight to the young girl; Miss ’Rill was the first bride-to-be of whom she had ever been the confidant.

The store on the side street was a cool and inviting spot. Great trees shaded it and there was a comfortable porch at the side between the living-rooms of the widowed Mr. Drugg and the store. Here the storekeeper was wont to sit and cuddle his fiddle under his chin while he coaxed from the old strings and mellow wood the tunes of yesterday—for despite the spick and span condition of Hopewell Drugg’s store and his up-to-date stock in trade, he was not naturally a progressive person.

“Hopewell and I are behind the times, I s’pose, Janice,” the little old maid said to her friend. “We lost fifteen or twenty years of our lives. I’m not even going to let Miz’ Hutchins make my wedding gown, although there hasn’t been a wedding in this town for a score of years that she hasn’t made the bride’s dress. But she’s too fussy, and runs to new-fangled ideas. Miz’ Beasely is going to help me. She’s a good plain sewer and has a machine to run the seams on, which is a great help. I s’pose folks will talk.”

“I’m sure, Miss ’Rill, what you do about your[54] wedding can be nobody’s business but your own,” Janice hastened to say.

“Well, I’m not so sure of that,” the little lady admitted. “I am a kind of public character, as you might say, teaching school so many years in Polktown. And Mr. Drugg, he has kept store and looks forward to keeping it right along. We can’t afford to antagonize folks. But I’ve my own ideas about what’s proper for a woman of my age to wear when she does get married.”

“And when is the wedding going to be?” asked Janice, with interest.

“Not until after little Lottie comes home from Boston,” replied the little lady. “We want her at our wedding; and the school matron writes that with her present progress, by late fall she may return for a time, at least. The dear little thing!”

This conversation brought them to Mr. Drugg’s store. Janice kept a sharp outlook for Nelson Haley, but did not see him.

It was an hour of the hot summer afternoon when few people were abroad. It was plain that Hopewell Drugg had no customer just then, for the strains of his violin came to them as Janice and Miss ’Rill approached the yard gate. The violinist’s bow wandered over the strings as though his mind wandered, too, while he played. Whereas, the plaintive strains of “Silver Threads Among the Gold” had first been borne to their ears, the[55] callers suddenly realized that Mr. Drugg had trailed off into the livelier measures of “Jingle bells! Jingle bells! Jingle all the way!”

“For the land’s sake!” said Miss ’Rill, in mild surprise. “That sleighing song maybe is cooling on a hot day like this, but I never heard Hopewell play it before.”

Janice laughed aloud. “It must be much more in tune with his feelings, Miss ’Rill, than any sad melody. Music, they say, is an expression of the soul’s feelings. Mr. Drugg’s soul is happy now.”

The little old maid flushed very prettily. Then she gave her head a queer little birdlike toss.

“Music may express the feelings of some souls,” she said drily; “but if that’s so, I wonder what kind of souls the composers of some of these new-fangled tunes I hear the boys whistling must have? There’s some of them that sound as though the composers had neither brains nor soul that together would be bigger’n a pea, I declare!”

Unlike her mother, Miss ’Rill was not often critical; but she had become quite earnest in this expression of her opinion and was still flushed when they came in sight of Hopewell sawing on his fiddle as he sat on the shaded porch. He broke off guiltily in the middle of

“Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh!”

[56]“Oh, do keep on, Mr. Drugg,” begged Janice. “I wouldn’t have come if I’d thought it would stop your music.”

“I know you’ve come to read my little Lottie’s letter, Miss Janice,” he said, in his shy way, and hastened to bring it. Then he picked up the violin again and fingered the strings lightly and absently as Janice unfolded the letter from the little girl who had been blind.

“Do play some more, Mr. Drugg,” said the girl. “I love to hear you.”

“I’ll play you an old favorite, then,” said the storekeeper, and smiled over the fiddle at Miss ’Rill as he drew out of the strings the first chords of

“Darling, I am growing old—
Silver threads among the gold
Shine upon my brow to-day—
Life is fading fast away.”

And yet, Mr. Hopewell Drugg’s soul did not seem quite in tune with this touching old melody; for, as Janice excused herself to run over to Mrs. Beasely’s for a little call, she heard the old violin drift off into another lively air which had been immensely popular in the younger days of the storekeeper and Miss ’Rill—“Aunt Dinah’s Quilting Party.” It was quite evident that Romance had[57] taken Hopewell Drugg by the hand and was leading him into more sunlit paths.

Janice learned from Mrs. Beasely that Nelson Haley had gone away that very morning on business, and would not return to Polktown for several days. She walked home with rather a heavy heart. He had not come to say good-bye to her.



Janice found solace in her new car. She had now learned to run it alone, although at first Frank Bowman went with her if she took a trip of any length. She sat behind the wheel and Frank acted only in an advisory capacity.

Marty was the proudest boy in Polktown when he was allowed for the first time to hold the steering-wheel and put his dusty shoes on the pedals. When the shiny Kremlin car swung out of the foot of Hillside Avenue into High Street and his boy friends cheered, Marty’s freckled face glowed a brick-red and his eyes sparkled with excitement.

“Hi tunket!” he breathed. “I didn’t know there was such fun. I’m a-goin’ to save my money, Janice, till I can buy one o’ these cars. I will so!”

Marty had his wish about meeting Walky Dexter and old Josephus on the road on this very trip. They met the village expressman and his ancient steed in front of the Town Hall at the head of High Street, where the highway was split by the Town Hall lot into two country roads.

The sunlight was shining full upon all the polished[59] brass trimmings of the car and on the windshield. Marty considered it his glad duty to keep everything about Janice’s car highly polished. This startling, sparkling, whizzing thing coming up out of the shaded main avenue of the village, struck Walky’s old horse almost blind.

Josephus literally staggered back. And having begun to back, continued to do so, despite Walky’s frantic commands, until the rear wheels of the wagon brought up solidly against the granite curb and iron fence which fenced in the Town Hall lawn.

“Jefers pelters!” cried Walky, as Marty brought the chugging car to a stop at Janice’s reiterated order. “I told ye how ’twould be! I told ye jest how ’twould be! Lucky I ain’t got no heart complaint—nor Josephus neither. The looks o’ that thar thing cornin’ up the hill made me think o’ a chariot of flame comin’ ter take us all ter glory. That’s right!”

“I guess there’s no damage done, is there, Walky?” asked Janice, laughing.

“Can’t tell—dunno, yit. Ain’t seen my lawyer,” said the expressman, with a grin. “As for Josephus——”

Josephus, when the car stopped, seemed to fall asleep, and his head was already nodding. Slily, Marty reached out and touched the button of the automobile horn. Its raucous voice startled the somnolent Josephus like a spur.

[60]“Whoa! whoa!” yelled Walky.

He had been sitting carelessly on the board he used for a wagon-seat, the reins lying idly across his lap, his hands busy filling his pipe. When Josephus jumped—and Marty vowed afterward that the old horse’s eyes didn’t pop open until all four hoofs had struck the road again after his jump—Walky lost his balance, kicked up with both cowhided feet, and landed on his back with a grunt of astonishment in the empty wagon-box.

“Marty! how could you?” gasped Janice, springing out of the car and running to Walky’s assistance.

But Josephus did not offer to run. He merely looked surprised—and hurt. As for the village expressman, he naturally displayed some peevishness.

“Drat that boy!” he sputtered, rising slowly—for Walky was a portly man. “What did he wanter let go with that ’tarnal thing for? ’Nough to scare Josephus out of a year’s growth. An’ I broke my pipe, by jinks! Ain’t that a shame? Marty Day, you gotter buy me the best T. D. Hopewell Drugg’s got in his store, or I’ll bring the bill in to your father,” and he grinned again, for Walky could not hold venom for long.

“I won’t let him drive my car, Walky,” said Janice seriously, “if he plays such tricks.”

“But crackey!” gasped the boy, choked with[61] laughter, “I got a rise out of old Josephus. I never did believe that hoss could move so quick, Walky.”

“I tell you,” said Janice, laughing, “Marty shall be punished for this caper. He can drive old Josephus home, Walky, and you shall come for a ride with me in the car.”

“Hold on!” protested the boy. “I don’t want to drive that old dead-and-alive to the barn. It’ll take all day, and I got something to do.”

But Walky fell right in with Janice’s suggestion. “That’s the ticket,” he said briskly. “I was going home, an’ I reckon I kin trust Josephus with Marty. They won’t run away with each other—ha, ha, ha!”

Marty was inclined to sulk a little; to come up through High Street in a shiny car and return in Walky’s old farm wagon behind his stumpy-tailed horse, seemed a terrible come-down—and so he grumbled. But Janice got briskly in behind the steering-wheel and the portly Mr. Dexter climbed in beside her.

“I’ve made my will, and I hope my callin’ an’ election’s sure,” said Walky gravely. “I never did expect to travel faster’n the cannon-ball express on the Vermont Central; I went to Montpelier once. But go ahead. If we’re wrecked, it’ll be in the cause of progress, and I snum! nobody can’t say that[62] Walkworthy Dexter ain’t as up-an’-comin’ as the next man in Polktown.”

Janice started the engine and the automobile turned into the Upper Road. There were not many houses here, and she speeded up to about twenty miles an hour right at the start. Walky gasped, grabbed a hand-hold with one huge, hairy hand, and clapped the other on his hat.

As the car chugged along his grin expanded slowly but surely, until Janice was half afraid that his ears would disappear entirely. When they shot past Elder Concannon’s house the old minister was out in his yard. Walky wanted to say something, but he had lost his voice. The Elder scowled after the flying car, which was out of sight in half a minute.

The Kremlin ran easily and prettily, and not until they had gone ten miles or more did Janice slow down and turn the machine about.

“Well!” sighed Walky. “I ain’t felt jest that way since I was swung too high at the Lakeside Picnic Grounds when the Union Sunday School went there on a picnic the year I was married—and that’s longer ago than I wanter tell ye, Janice. What do one o’ these things cost? I dunno but I’ll git me a gasoline truck and sell old Josephus and his mate. Nothin’ like keepin’ up with the times.”

Janice felt herself to be a good enough driver now to venture almost anywhere with the car. Frank[63] Bowman’s work had begun and he was busy on the railroad survey all day long. Marty went to work for him as he had promised, and labored twice as hard as he would have been obliged to work at home. He started off early in the morning with his dinner-pail and returned in the evening with a tired but happy face.

“Makes a feller feel like he was somebody,” he confided to Janice. And when, at the end of the week, he brought home nine dollars—all silver “cartwheels”—and dropped them one by one into his mother’s lap, Aunt ’Mira wept for pleasure.

“Does seem just too good to be true, Janice,” she said to her niece, “Marty steadying down this way. And he never had an idee that amounted to nothin’ in his head afore you come to us.”

“He was too young then to think about work,” Janice said.

“Ya-as, mebbe. But I know who to thank,” said the large woman, giving her niece a bearlike hug. “You don’t know what it means to a mother to see she’s raised a son to an age where he’s something besides an expense and a nuisance. If anything should happen to his father—God forbid!—I feel now as though Marty would be somethin’ more’n a willer-reed to lean onto.”

It was Aunt Almira who took the deepest satisfaction in the motor-car, after all. Born under another star, the large and lymphatic lady would[64] without doubt have been a society devotee. She loved dress and display, and sometimes Janice found it difficult to influence Aunt ’Mira to have frocks and hats proper to her age and station.

Until the monthly stipend for Janice’s board had come to the Day house, she had seldom handled cash during her married life; for Uncle Jason believed in treating “wimmen-folks” like a species of overworked pauper. Now Aunt ’Mira did not even have to use the board money for her personal expenses, and was secretly banking it for Janice, depending upon her hens and the butter she made for cash with which to clothe herself.

Aunt ’Mira dressed in her automobile “togs” was a vision to excite wonder. She had purchased coat, hat, veil and gloves all of fawn color, and when she climbed heavily into the tonneau, making the springs creak under her weight, Uncle Jason stood by and expressed his opinion in pointed, if uncultivated, speech.

“I swan to man, Almiry,” he said, “you look like a load of hay! Seems ter me if I was as big as you be, I’d put suthin’ on ter fool folks inter thinkin’ my shape was a leetle more genteel. I snum! if that’er contraption of Janice’s don’t scare all the hosses in Polktown into fits, you’ll do it, sure. Huh!”

His criticism did not disturb his wife’s poise. She was not to be ridiculed out of her triumph, but[65] sat in the back of the car like a queen enthroned, and excited almost as much attention on High Street as a circus parade.

Janice did not mind a bit. She loved Aunt ’Mira with all her innocent faults. Her vanity over what she thought was the height of fashion in automobile apparel, merely amused Janice. She drove the car slowly up High Street, so that everybody would have a chance to get to their front windows and see Mrs. Jason Day go by. And by the flickering of the slats in the window blinds, the girl knew that many of the women-folk along the way came to peep at the car and its occupants.

“I declare for’t, Janice!” exclaimed her aunt, in vast satisfaction, “I wish High Street was as long as the makin’ of books—an’ the Scriptures say there ain’t no end to that. I know there’s a-many of these Polktown wimmen have looked down on us Days in times passed; Jase was drefful shiftless and I was a reg’lar drag myself. And it delights me—it does, indeed—to show ’em we can hold our heads up with the best. An’ I lay it to you, Janice, that our fortunes have changed,” and the good lady’s eyes became moist in her earnestness. “What you’ve done for Polktown——”

“Why, Auntie!” laughed Janice. “You’ll make me quite vain.”

“What you’ve done for Polktown,” went on her aunt, unruffled by the interruption, “casts a sort[66] of reflected glory on us other Days. An’ we’ve got to live up to it. I’m sure, Janice, though you be only a girl, you ought to think more about dress than you do. I never see a young girl that seemed to care less about prinkin’ than you do.”

“I should hope not!” gasped Janice. “And I’ve got plenty of nice dresses, Aunt ’Mira.”

“But they ain’t in the new style. There’s lots of pictures in one of the papers I take—an’ it has the dearest love stories in it. But it’s the pictures of the slit-skirt effects that I want you to look at. You must have some new, up-to-date clo’es. We Days ought to dress as good as the best.

“It’s the desire of my heart,” concluded this good lady, with a sigh of longing, “to have us Days set the styles for Polktown. Then I’ll show Miz’ Hutchins an’ them others what’s what!”



Nelson Haley remained away from Polktown for a fortnight and Janice had no idea where he had gone. She might possibly have found out by questioning Mrs. Beasely with whom he boarded; but she could not bring herself to do that.

They had been such confidential friends—really had been such for months—that the girl felt hurt by Nelson’s neglect. Yet she could not absolve herself from all guilt, for Janice was a most fair-minded person.

Enthralled by the new motor-car her father had given to her, she really had lost sight of most other interests—including Nelson. And, knowing that he might be grieved by her friendliness with the civil engineer, she should have taken pains to make the school teacher understand the situation.

Of course, his evident jealousy was rather childish; but Janice did not consider that fact excused her thoughtlessness. And now that Nelson was out of Polktown, she found that she missed him sorely.[68] She had hoped that he would be one of the first of her friends to go for a ride in the Kremlin car.

And then came news that worried Janice still more. Daddy sent word from the mine in Mexico that matters were not going so well. There had been a change in the government and a rumor had spread that the property might be confiscated.

“And if that happens Daddy will lose a lot of money,” Janice told her uncle. “Maybe the most of his fortune. Oh, dear, it’s just too mean for anything! Why can’t those Mexicans settle down and behave themselves!”

“Huh! I guess a lot of ’em would rather fight than work,” was her uncle’s comment.

During that fortnight Janice drove all over the county. The Upper Road, past Elder Concannon’s, became her favorite drive, for the roadway itself was much smoother than many of those about Polktown. She took Miss ’Rill and her mother out in the car, and while the younger lady was made speechless with delight, Mrs. Scattergood became even more voluble than usual.

“I declare for’t! I wouldn’t ever have thought ’twould be like this. One o’ these here ortermobiles has allus seemed to me like nothin’ more’n a whiz, a toot, an’ a awful stench behind! But wait till I write to my darter-in-law at Skunk’s Holler an’ tell her I’ve re’lly rid in one. She won’t scurce believe it,” said the old lady. “My! it makes one feel[69] scand’lous proud. I shouldn’t wonder if ’twas as the old Elder say—it’s prophesied against in Holy Writ. But there ’tis,” added Mrs. Scattergood reflectively; “it does seem as though ev’rything smart and progressive is frowned upon by the Elder. He’s always been opposin’ things ever since I can remember anything about him. He’s most as obsternate as Abel Snow, and they say he forgot himself at his own weddin’, an’ when the parson axed was there any objection to the marriage, Abel spoke up an’ says, ‘I’m agin’ it!’”

It was on the occasion when she had the Scattergoods in the tonneau that Janice experienced her first accident—for the amazement of Walky Dexter’s horse could not really be catalogued under that name.

Some distance beyond Elder Concannon’s house was a cross road that went over the mountain through a very beautiful piece of woodland, and Janice often took that route when driving for pleasure. It was lovely, for the forest was so dense in some places that the road was always shady and cool, and there was but one dwelling for miles.

This one building was a squatter’s cabin, and overflowing with children—Janice had never been able to count them—of all sizes and ages. She always ran slowly in passing the house, for she feared one of the babies, like the lank hounds attached to[70] the place, and the draggle-tailed hens, might be sleeping in the dust of the roadway.

When the motor-car passed all the children that were at home ran out and shrieked at it, as usual. Janice could not make friends with the wild little things any more than she could with the rabbits that started up from their forms beside the trail. Mrs. Scattergood expressed her opinion of the ragged little mob at the squatters’ cabin characteristically:

“That’s the Trimmins’ brats. Jest like fleas, ain’t they? And jest as lively. What Elder Concannon lets them stay up here for, I don’t for the life of me see! Trimmins, he won’t work; and Miz’ Trimmins, she can’t work with all them young’uns. It’s a mystery ter me how she kin keep count of ’em. How they find pork and meal is a wonder.”

“Is that Elder Concannon’s house?” asked Janice curiously.

“Why, this whole piece of woods is his!” exclaimed Mrs. Scattergood. “He foreclosed on the Simon Halpin estate. Simon’s widder finally went to the poor farm over Middletown way—she came from there. Ain’t scurcely a cleared acre now, for it’s been let to grow up. And of course that Trimmins is too lazy to farm it.”

“I didn’t see quite so many children there to-day as usual, it seems to me,” Janice said reflectively. “There’s a black-haired girl and a red-haired boy—about of an age, I should say—who usually come out[71] to shout. The boy threw a broken bottle in the road one day. That is another reason why I drive slowly by the cabin. I’m afraid of a puncture.”

“For the land’s sake! Then we should have to walk back,” cried Mrs. Scattergood.

“Oh, no; I have an extra wheel strapped on here, ready to replace any that is injured. There is a jack in the tool box, and the loosening and tightening again of six screws is all that’s necessary to make the change.”

“‘Jack,’ eh?” sniffed the old lady. “I don’t know no more’n nothin’ what that means. The only kind of a ‘Jack’ I know about’s got long ears and brays. And we gotter get back ’fore long, anyway; I got sody-biscuit to bake for supper. Ain’t nothin’ but baker’s bread in the house, and I wouldn’t put a tooth inter that, if I went ’ithout bread as long as the Children of Israel wandered in the desert. How ’Rill kin eat it I don’t see.”

Janice selected a wide place in the road and turned about. The car acted beautifully and they spun along at a fast pace on the return trip. There was no likelihood of their meeting any other vehicle; the woods, save for the bird songs and frogs peeping in the marshy places, were quite silent.

The car was still some distance from the squatters’ cabin when, in shooting around a turn in the forest-masked road, they came upon a lean hound in the path. Janice shut off the power and braked[72] up, as well as sounded a warning on the horn. Mrs. Scattergood screamed and Miss ’Rill likewise cried out.

The dog seemed to make an attempt to get away; but when he leaped for the side of the road, something hauled him back with a jerk and he fell sprawling directly beneath the wheels of the Kremlin car!

One yelp, and it was all over. The poor creature could not have suffered a more sudden, or more painless, death. Janice brought the car to a jarring stop within a few yards.

She paid no attention to Mrs. Scattergood, who was crying: “Drive right on! the poor critter’s dead and you can’t bring him back to life. I don’t see what an ortermobile is for, if ye can’t run away in it when ye git inter trouble.”

Out of the bushes appeared a boy and a girl. The girl was bawling very faithfully, and the boy was all bluster and threats.

“Ye gotter pay for our dawg! Ye gotter pay for our dawg!” he reiterated.

“Poor—poor old T-Towser!” sobbed the black-haired girl. “He never done no harm to nobody. Poor old T-Towser!”

It would really have been a moving occasion had not Janice seen that the wailing of the girl was like a chorus in a Greek play—quite impersonal. She “wailed” very well indeed; but there wasn’t a sign[73] of moisture in her hard black eyes. Janice was dreadfully sorry about the dog; but she noted the cut-and-dried nature of the proceedings in which the Trimmins’ boy and girl were engaged. The scene had been well rehearsed.

“You gotter pay for our dawg!” declared the red-haired boy. “We know who you be and we’ll send a constable after you if you don’t pay.”

“And we’ll throw glass in the road and bust your tires,” added the girl, viciously. “Poor old T-Towser!”

But Janice was examining Towser. There were two frayed ropes tied around the dog’s neck. Her sharp eyes saw the other ends of the broken ropes, each tied to a sapling on opposite sides of the road!

“You little murderers!” she said, sternly, rising to face them. “The poor old dog! He’s better off I know; but that was a cruel way to kill him. How could you?”

“What’s them little imps been doing?” demanded Mrs. Scattergood.

“They tied the dog in our path so that he could not get out of the way,” explained Janice, almost crying, herself. “We were bound to run him down; we couldn’t help it.”

“You’ll pay for our dawg!” blustered the red-haired boy again.

“Poor old T-Towser!” added his sister, doubtfully.

[74]“I’ll Towser ’em!” ejaculated the little old lady, tugging at the door of the tonneau. “Let me jest git ’em!”

She hopped out into the road very briskly and the youthful Trimmins instantly backed away.

“What them young’uns need,” declared Mrs. Scattergood, “is a good tannin’. If ’twould do any good I’d tell their mom; but it won’t. She’s a poor, slimpsy thing without no backbone. If I could lay my han’s on ’em!”

But finding that their trick was fruitless of anything but a tongue-lashing from the brisk old lady, the two imps ran shrieking away into the wood. Janice removed the body of the poor dog to the roadside. She remembered now that the last day she had come past the squatters’ cabin the hound was almost too weak to get out of the path of the automobile.

“He is better dead,” she said to Miss ’Rill. “But, oh, my dear! I’m so sorry I was the means of bringing his death about.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Janice,” said her friend, soothingly.

“It must be the fault of us all that such children as these Trimmins are allowed to grow up about us, so hard and heartless! Something ought to be done for that family, Miss ’Rill—something ought to be done for them.”

“I don’t see how you would reach that black-haired[75] girl, for instance,” sighed the little ex-schoolteacher. “She’s as wild as a colt.”

“That’s a problem,” said Janice, soberly. “I wonder if it isn’t a problem that we ought to solve?”

“I had one of her older sisters in my school,” rejoined Miss ’Rill, with a shudder, “and she was one awful girl! I never knew what she was going to do next.”

But Janice believed that there ought to be something done for just such girls as the black-haired Trimmins. She felt as though she might have been neglectful of her opportunities to do something, because of her new car; and the idea of interesting girls of the age of this one, in some club or association, took root at this time in Janice Day’s mind.

The boys’ club, of which her Cousin Marty was so enthusiastic a member, and out of which had grown the Polktown Public Library, was a flourishing institution; but the boys would have instantly objected (“put up a holler,” Marty would have strikingly expressed it) were it even suggested that a girls’ society be grafted on the parent stalk of the Library Association. Girls could be only honorary members and help keep the reading room open in the afternoon. Only a few girls were interested. The growing misses of Polktown, it seemed to Janice Day, should have some vital matter to engage[76] their attention, draw them together socially, and to improve them.

Janice began to look forward to her own improvement, too, about this time. For two years she had attended no school, and her last few weeks under Miss ’Rill’s tuition had been of small value to her. Expecting as she did her father’s quick return from Mexico, Janice had not at first looked upon her life in Polktown as a settled thing.

Her interests were here now, however. If she had the choice she might not care to return to her old home in Greensboro. The girls whom she had gone to school with there were already scattered; and she feared many of them were far ahead of her in their studies.

Daddy might remain in Mexico a year or two longer. She felt the need of an advance along the paths of education. Especially did she think of these things after talking with Frank Bowman about his sister, Annette.

Janice was anxious to meet Annette Bowman; but a young lady from a “finishing school” might prove rather awe-inspiring. Janice felt the need of some “finishing” herself, and knowing that there was a seminary for girls at Middletown, she decided to drive over and make arrangements to enter at the opening of the fall term.

Now that she had her Kremlin car she could run back and forth to the school morning and night, for[77] it was only twenty miles. In the deep winter weather she might remain as a weekly boarder, returning to Polktown on Friday evenings. Aunt ’Mira decided to accompany Janice to Middletown on this trip of arrangement.

“Even if I don’t spend a penny, I do just love to look into the Middletown shop-winders,” declared the fashion-hungry lady. “Them wax figgers with the latest style robes onto ’em look jest like the pictures in the Household Love Letter of the lords and ladies that live in castles in England, or in Europe, and have such wonderful times. You never read them stories, Janice—an’ I s’pose you air too young to ’preciate ’em—but they’re a gre’t comfort to me. I know I can never go to them places, or live like them folks does in ‘The Baron’s Heart Secret’ or ‘The Beauty of Bon Marone Castle,’ but it helps ter satisfy that longin’ I’ve allus had to travel.”

Aunt ’Mira did not often open her heart so freely, even to her niece; but this conversation finally led to quite an important result. It gave Janice one of her very brightest ideas; but she felt that she needed Nelson Haley to talk it over with.

On the Middletown Lower Road, several miles beyond the Hammett Farm, Janice and her aunt, speeding happily along, met with Adventure. Around a turn ahead of them appeared a spirited horse in the shafts of a smart road-cart. It was not a vehicle owned in Polktown or in the vicinity; nor[78] was the single occupant of the vehicle anybody whom Janice or her aunt knew.

“My goodness!” gasped Aunt ’Mira. “Ain’t she the dressy thing? I guess she’s one o’ them city high-fliers with more money than brains. But, dear suz, Janice! ain’t that a be-you-tiful plume in her hat?”

Janice, however, had something beside the plume in the girl’s hat to observe. The horse the strange young lady drove was not at all used to automobiles. Janice stopped the engine and halted the car almost instantly; but the horse was standing on his hind legs, pawing the air, and backing the road-cart into the ditch; while the girl foolishly sawed on the bit and screeched at the top of her voice.



Janice leaped out of her car and ran toward the frightened horse.

“Stop pulling on the reins! Stop it—do!” she begged of the girl driving. “See! he’ll come down if you’ll let him.”

With slackened reins the horse dropped his fore-hoofs to the ground. Janice seized the bridle and stopped him from backing farther. The girl in the cart, the moment the peril was over, began to berate Janice in a most unladylike manner.

“I declare! you ought to be punished for this!” she cried angrily. “Suppose he had backed me into that ditch? I might have been killed. There should be a law against letting a girl like you run motor-cars! If that’s your mother in the car I hope she hears me say it.”

“I stopped as soon as I saw you,” answered Janice, mildly, when the other halted for breath.

“It’s lucky you did!” snapped the strange girl. “And now I suppose this silly horse won’t even go past your car when it’s standing still.”

For the frightened animal that Janice held by the[80] bridle pointed quivering ears at the car and showed other traces of excitement.

“I will lead him past for you,” said Janice, without showing the dislike for the strange girl which she could not help feeling. “Don’t hold the reins so tight. You frighten him.”

“Nonsense! who told you so much, Miss?” responded this very unpleasant person, pertly enough.

“There! loosen the reins. It will calm him. A horse can feel the nervousness or fear of its driver through the reins—it is so. Whoa, boy! be good now.”

She patted and soothed the creature. He soon began to nuzzle her hand and rub against her shoulder—which wasn’t altogether a welcome sign of affection, for the poor animal had champed his bit until strings of froth were dripping from it.

“If you don’t know any more about a horse than you do about an auto, I expect you’ll have me in the ditch after all,” said the girl in the cart, with a hard laugh.

But she had relaxed the reins and Janice was quietly leading the horse along the road, keeping between him and the shiny car. Aunt ’Mira could not keep her eyes off that plume on the stranger’s hat. Indeed, the entire outfit was like some of those the good lady expected to see in the store windows at Middletown; only this one was displayed to much better advantage.

Janice leaped out of her car and ran toward the frightened horse

Janice leaped out of her car and ran toward the frightened horse—(see page 79)

[81]The girl in the cart certainly was dressed in the height of fashion. The skirt of the dress she wore was so tight that by no possibility could she have descended from the cart in a hurry. Had the frightened horse really backed the cart into the ditch she would have had to go with it!

She stared now at Aunt ’Mira quite as hard as Aunt ’Mira stared at her. The large lady was rather a sight, it must be admitted; but as a choice between the two exhibitions of feminine vanity, it must be said that Aunt ’Mira was to be preferred. The strange girl’s gown was far from modest.

“I suppose one can’t expect much from you country people,” she said to Janice when the latter had politely led the horse past the car. “If you chance to get a car you don’t know how to behave on the road with it. Let me tell you, Miss, if I meet you with my horse again and you frighten him, I shall have you arrested—I don’t care who you are.”

“I am sure I am sorry,” Janice said; “but I do not see how it could be helped. The road is free to all sorts of traffic.”

“Well, it ought not to be,” snapped the other, and with a flirt of her whip she sent the horse on his way.

Janice climbed back into her car with rather a grave face. Her aunt was still filled with amazement regarding the frock and hat worn by the strange girl.

[82]“I never did imagine they looked like that when they was on folks,” she murmured. “My goodness, Janice! I dunno as I want you to wear one o’ them dresses, after all. I’d feel as though you warn’t dressed at all. But that plume!”

“Her clothes were quite in the mode, I suppose,” the girl returned; “but her manners were very unpleasant, to say the least.”

“Them city folks is awful proud—’specially the high-flying kind,” Aunt ’Mira agreed. “But that plume!”

Janice suspected that her aunt had her heart fixed upon a similar adornment, and when she picked her up again at one of Middletown’s biggest stores, after driving to the seminary and seeing the principal, Aunt ’Mira had a long pasteboard box clasped against her breast, her round, fat face was hot and perspiring, but she was smiling broadly.

“I got one, Janice!” she whispered, hoarsely, as she wedged herself into the car. “It cost me a sight of money. Don’t tell your Uncle Jason; he’d have a fit.”

“What did you buy it for?” asked Janice, amused.

“To put on my new hat. It’s a beautiful purple shade——”

“Purple!” gasped Janice, with a picture before her mental vision of Aunt ’Mira’s vast, ruddy face under such a colored plume.

[83]“It’s a royal shade—so the girl said. Just like royalty wears,” said Aunt ’Mira in a hushed voice. “I expect them wimmen in ‘The Baron’s Heart Secret’ likely wore royal purple. And with that salmon-colored poplin you wouldn’t let me make up last spring, it’ll look striking.”

“I should say it would!” groaned Janice, foreseeing that she was going to have a hard time to keep her aunt from appearing in another ridiculous combination of colors.

Returning to Polktown, she was watchful all the way for the reappearance of the girl with the high-stepping horse and the road-cart, so she drove very slowly; and it was after five o’clock when they reached the highroad above Mr. Cross Moore’s creek, where the railroad bridge was to be built.

From a narrow cross road, running down to the shore, Janice and her aunt heard voices and laughter, and as Janice slowed down Marty appeared.

“Hello!” he shouted. “I vow if this ain’t luck. Hey! come along, Frank! We can git a ride to town.”

The car had passed the beginning of the cross road, but Janice heard the sound of a horse and wagon wheel out upon the main highway as it started upon the way to Middletown at a fast pace. Frank Bowman, the remainder of the instruments on his shoulder, appeared in a minute from the bushes.

[84]“Why, Mrs. Day! And Miss Janice! Delighted, I am sure,” said the civil engineer. “Won’t we discommode you?” for Marty had already crowded in beside his mother and was reaching for the tripod Mr. Bowman carried.

“There is room,” laughed Janice. “You may sit beside me and see how well I have profited by your instructions.”

“Wish you had been five minutes earlier,” said the engineer, getting quickly into the front seat. “That was my sister.”

“Oh! has she come?” cried Janice.

“She’s stopping over at Judge Slater’s. She went to school with a couple of the Slater girls. But this afternoon she drove over to Polktown and went to the Lake View Inn to arrange for rooms for us both. She is determined to be with me while I am building these bridges. And of course I’ll be glad to have her with me.” But Frank laughed rather ruefully.

“She doesn’t begin to know what she’s up against,” the young man went on. “She has some idea of playing the Lady Bountiful and the Chatelaine of the Castle, rolled into one. Speaks of the natives of these parts as ‘the peasantry.’ You know,” and Frank chuckled, “that she’s going to get in awfully bad with some of the people about Polktown if she begins that way.”

“But why don’t you explain to her?” asked[85] Janice, in some wonder, as well as consternation. Frank seemed so sensible himself that it was hard to believe he could have a sister who would not know better. Yet come to think of it, there was an air about Frank that suggested he was secretly laughing at the simple folk of Polktown.

“Oh, you couldn’t explain anything to Annette,” the young engineer said, with some disgust. “No more than you could to Aunt Lettie. You see, Annette lived with Aunt Lettie Buchanan. Auntie left her what money she had when she died. That is what makes my sister so blessed independent now. I’m not sure but that little wad of money has half spoiled Annette.

“But I guess it’s only one of the things that makes her silly. You’ll see yourself, Miss Janice, when you meet her, that going to that fancy private school and having too much money to spend, have turned her head. I wish she were more like you.”

“Are you sure you know me well enough to wish your sister were like me?” asked Janice, lightly.

“Mart is always singing your praises,” said Frank Bowman, with a clearing-up smile, “so I feel that I ought to know you pretty well. And I expect Annette is all right, too; only Aunt Lettie’s influence, and her association with foolish girls at school, is telling on her now.

“You see, our Aunt Lettie was on the stage. She married afterward an old gentleman, who died very[86] soon after the marriage and left her some property—more than enough to keep her for the rest of her life.

“Our parents being dead, she naturally took Annette and made a pet of her. She was all for show and loved publicity. Theatrical applause had been the very breath in Aunt Lettie’s nostrils for so many years that she was always attempting to attract attention and get her name mentioned in the society columns of the papers.

“She dressed my sister, even when she was a child, in the most striking costumes. And Annette absorbed her ideas of flaunting fashionable clothing in the public eye. But I tell her that the public eye of Polktown will be literally blinded if she attempts to dress so loudly here.”

Janice’s quick mind jumped to a sudden conclusion. “Oh, Mr. Bowman,” she asked, “did your sister drive over here to see you in a yellow road-cart, with a bay horse with a docked tail?”

“Yes, that’s the turnout. It’s one of Judge Slater’s. Did you see her on the road?”

“We met her as we drove to Middletown,” said Janice gravely.

“Well, I want her to know you. I know she’ll be delighted, for, when you scrape down through the silly surface of Annette’s character, she’s a good girl, after all.”

Janice was troubled. She was quite sure she did[87] not wish to know the girl who had been so rude to her on the road that afternoon. In addition, she was positive that Annette Bowman would not care to become acquainted with her.



Yes, this was Annette Bowman, to whose coming to Polktown Janice had looked forward with such pleased expectancy. Now she was very sorry she even knew Frank, for she did not see how she could escape being introduced to his sister.

There were, however, a few days of grace. It was mid-week when Annette came to the Lake View Inn and Frank could not very well bring her up to the Day house before Saturday afternoon.

Janice shrank from contemplating the awkwardness bound to arise out of her meeting with the civil engineer’s sister. Frank might be a very “civil” engineer indeed; but Annette, as Janice well knew, was woefully lacking in that element of her brother’s character. When Janice and Annette met, the latter could not fail to recognize the former as the person who had driven the automobile when Judge Slater’s cob was frightened on the Middletown Lower Road. And then what?

“There will be an explosion,” sighed Janice. “I would give a good deal if Auntie and I had not gone to Middletown that day.”

[89]Meanwhile Annette was not idle. She made her presence felt in Polktown from the beginning. Her first parade up the hill to Massey’s drug store for the purchasing of a new toothbrush and some face powder was conducted in a manner to strike Polktown—even the feminine section—with awe. A musical comedy queen, right off the stage, could have been no more gaily appareled than Annette Bowman. Moreover, her eyebrows were heavily penciled, her lips rouged, her cheeks tinted and her nose powdered so thickly that the contrast between cheeks and nose was startling.

She wore a dress of pale green, the over-gown of some sheer material, while the actual frock itself clung as closely to her slight figure as a glove, and was slit up in front half way to her knees. She wore dancing slippers with high heels, and as she walked one could glimpse embroidered silk stockings.

Walky Dexter, who saw her as he was driving down to the boat dock, afterward vowed that Josephus was more startled by the sight than he had been by the apparition of Janice Day’s new car.

“I snum!” exclaimed Walky; “she looked like one o’ them green hoppergrasses ye see in a ryefield—a standin’ on its hind laigs an’ teeterin’ along like our old Ponto when he tries ter beg for a dog-biscuit. Nor I never did see nothin’ jest like that parasol before, neither—all lace and do-funnies.[90] Wouldn’t keep the sun off’n a blind worm in a mole-tunnel, that wouldn’t! Jest as soon hev a colander on a stick.”

Whereas Walky was critical and some of the other male observers inclined to laugh at Miss Annette Bowman, the female portion of Polktown’s inhabitants was soon divided into two camps—one openly admiring the stylish young lady, the other speaking harshly of her; but both in their hearts wishing they could view her wonderful costumes more closely.

In the afternoon Annette went for another stroll, arrayed from head to toe in an entirely different creation of a fashionable New York costumer. Behind the cover of the window blinds the ladies of High Street took note of Miss Bowman’s fashion-plate figure.

Venturing into Massey’s once more, the proprietor, on the strength of having served her in the morning, introduced a couple of the older girls to the new arrival in Polktown. Annette was very gracious—nobody could be more so when she cared to make a good impression—and she quite charmed Elvira Snow and Mabel Woods. All three strolled up the shadiest side of High Street. Elvira and Mabel were the sort of girls who read romantic novels, consider a boy’s attentions a subject to be whispered about, and who preen before a mirror when they make ready for an appearance in public.[91] Elvira desired her friends to call her “’Vira,” while Mabel Woods had long written her name “Maybelle.”

They were envied by the other girls they met that day because they were first to become acquainted with the new guest at the Lake View Inn. There was to be a small party at Major Price’s house that evening, and when, in the peregrinations of the trio, they came past the Major’s fine old mansion and spacious lawn, Maggie Price was introduced to the city girl. No matter what was put on poor Maggie, she always would look dowdy; and yet in her soul the Major’s daughter worshipped at the shrine of Fashion.

She was enamored of Annette instantly. Elvira and Mabel made themselves friends for life of Maggie Price by tolling the brilliant bird of passage to the Price gate.

“Do come up to-night, Miss Bowman—and bring your brother, of course. It’s quite informal. Pa is acquainted with Mr. Bowman; I’m not and I’m just dying to meet him. But he hasn’t had much time since he’s been in Polktown for anybody or anything but Janice Day and her new automobile. I’m just dying to have a car myself; but pa won’t hear to it. He says he doesn’t want anything in the stable that he can’t stop by saying ‘Whoa!’ You will come? That’s so nice. You’ll come, too,[92] now—’Vira and Maybelle—won’t you? Well, now, do!”

To be invited to the Price house was to enter the Golden Gate of Polktown society. Annette dragged Frank off to the dull reception after his hard day’s work; but the young civil engineer attended her with little complaint. He really loved his sister, and Annette showed him the most lovable side of her character.

Some of the young traveling men—drummers Polktown people called them—had actually stayed over their usual time at the Inn because of Annette’s appearance at the general table. But the presence of Frank and the stern oversight of good Mrs. Parraday guarded the foolish Annette from any unpleasant consequences of her gay appearance.

“That gal,” the innkeeper’s wife confessed to her neighbor, “ain’t no more responsible than a butterfly—and she flits about jest as perky an’ unsuspicious. Her brother left her in my care when he’s off to his work daytimes, and any of them drummers that try to git fermiliar with the foolish gal is goin’ to git a broadside from Ma’am Parraday that they won’t forgit!”

Annette went to Major Price’s arrayed in a party gown such as never had been seen in Polktown before. Frank, who knew a little something about the village standards, made his sister wear some lacy stuff tucked into the upper part of the frock.

[93]“Talk about the lilies of the field bein’ dressy,” drawled Marty, who had chanced to observe Frank and his sister as they left the hotel for the party, and came home to tell about it, “they ain’t got nothin’ on Annette Bowman, believe me! I expect Frank’s used to seeing girls in New York dressed like that; but, crackey, Janice! if you was to put on clo’es like she wears I’d be ashamed to walk out to the cow-barn with ye.”

“Why, Marty!” laughed Janice. “She can’t be dressed as badly as all that.”

“I’d love to see that dress,” his mother said, with a sigh. “It must be lovely!”

Lovely—huh!” snorted Marty, in deep disdain.

Annette and her frocks were the main topics of conversation that week in Polktown. Interest in the new railroad waned and Janice’s automobile was likewise relegated to the background. After the Prices’ party Mrs. Hutchins and the other dressmakers of the town were immediately rushed with work. Mr. Massey, who kept a side line of books and periodicals, sold out his latest pattern magazines almost at once. A furore of frock-making took hold upon the mothers of the town.

It was mostly the girls of about Annette’s age who began this aping of the ultra-fashions; but the disease spread until many of the staid matrons of the town were refurbishing their summer frocks, or[94] having new ones made more in accord with the pictures in Aunt ’Mira’s story papers.

It was a bit of male gossip that Mr. John-Ed. Hutchins was scarcely seen out of the house for the next fortnight. It was a long-established fiction that Mr. John-Ed. was “weakly” and could not work. At least, he never did work—much; but he was not too weak to pull basting threads, and when his wife was “driv with work,” in Polktown parlance, she kept her otherwise useless spouse busy at this end of the dressmaking art. Mrs. Hutchins admitted that she hadn’t been so busy before in years.

Miss Link, the plump, little, near-sighted milliner, who always seemed to be lurking like a bespectacled spider behind her half blind on High Street, got near enough to Annette during the first few days of her stay at the Inn to copy one or two of the city girl’s hats, and she put them in a prominent position in her show window for “bait.” Harlan, the shoeman, immediately got in a stock of pumps and spats, and Icivilly Sprague bought the first pair of the latter ever sold in Polktown.

Icivilly’s brother, Sam, had a remarkably long neck, and he was addicted to attacks of quinsy sore throat at all times of the year. The unfortunate Sam had a bad attack the very night his sister brought home the spats, and Mrs. Sprague strapped[95] a warm poultice on Sam’s long neck with one of the spats.

“There!” said the indignant lady, who had forbidden her daughter’s wearing the things the instant she saw them. “There! them do-funnies is good for suthin’, I vum! They jest fit Sam’s throat, an’ mebbe he’ll git some wear out o’ them.”

Janice kept out of the way of Frank Bowman’s sister until Saturday afternoon. Even then she planned to escape by taking Marty for a drive into the country in reward for his sticking all the week to his job.

“I gotter see Frank before we start,” the boy said. “Or—can’t we drive down by the ho-tel? I won’t stop but a minute. And say, Janice! Nelse Haley’s back. Did you know it?”

Janice was fortunately examining the “innards,” as Uncle Jason called it, of the automobile, and could hide her face from Marty. “No; I had not heard of his return,” she said. “I guess this is all right. Anyway, we’ll start.”

She could not see how she was to escape going to the Inn with Marty; and then, she suddenly hoped, by driving through the main street of the town they might see Nelson. Perhaps he would go with them in the car. She did not give much attention to Marty’s chatter until the boy said:

“You’ve sure made a hit with Frank Bowman, Janice. He was saying last night he wished that sister[96] of his was more like you. She acts like she ain’t got right good sense, from all I hear tell.”

“You mustn’t say that, Marty,” Janice admonished him.

“Huh! why not? It’s true enough. I bet Frank wishes she had half your sense. For a girl, Janice, you are pretty nice,” added this candid youth. “There! if that ain’t her now—an’ all dressed up like a hoss in a circus parade.”

The car had swung into High Street and was descending the hill. The Lake View Inn with its pleasant piazzas was in sight. Janice saw the bird of brilliant plumage in a prominent position overlooking the street. And by her side, sitting very close to her and listening to Annette’s vivacious chatter, was Nelson Haley, the young schoolmaster!



You just wait a minute, Janice,” called out Marty, who did not see the school teacher. “I’ll run back and find Frank.”

Marty’s voice had great carrying power. Janice dared not look up at once, for she feared Nelson and Annette were looking down at her, and she had an unfortunate habit of blushing when she felt the least bit confused. She heard the girl laugh, and felt that she must be laughing at her. She did not hear Haley’s voice at all.

The moments sped by, and she could not appear to be engaged with the mechanism of the Kremlin forever. Marty did not return, and it seemed to her that he had been gone a very long time. Finally she plucked up her courage and, knowing that her cheeks were still ablaze, raised her eyes to the balcony where the city girl and the school teacher sat.

They were not looking in her direction at all, and Nelson seemed so much interested in what Annette was saying that he had neither eyes nor ears for anybody else.

[98]Perhaps they could get away from the hotel—she and Marty—without being seen by the girl and Nelson. She hoped so—yet she felt a pang, too, that the teacher should seem so much enthralled by Annette’s light conversation. But Janice had not forgotten that Nelson had gone away for a fortnight without bidding her good-bye.

It was a peculiar situation. Never in her life had Janice Day experienced the least jealousy. She had never had a friend before whom she was not willing to share with everybody else. Perhaps it was because it was Annette that she was sorry Nelson Haley was acquainted with her.

She knew that Annette must be a very shallow, foolish girl from what she had seen of her, as well as from all she had heard. Of course, Frank, being her brother, had made out as good a case as possible for her; but even he had admitted qualities of character which would make her rather repellent to right-thinking people.

And to see Nelson Haley so evidently interested in her inconsequential chatter, and openly courting the city girl, smote Janice with a desire to save the school teacher from his own folly, if nothing else.

She wished to get away from the Inn without being seen by either of them. She was tempted to turn the car and start up the hill without Marty. She might stop at one of the shops and go in for something, as an excuse. But just as she had[99] thought up this scheme, she heard the voices of Marty and Frank. The young civil engineer was coming with the boy, and Janice was panicstricken.

For the first time since she had been running her car she fumbled and did the wrong thing. She meant to push the self-starter, and she made a jab at the horn button instead. The siren tooted a raucous note, proclaiming to everybody in the neighborhood that Janice was there.

“Dear me, that’s the girl that runs the automobile through the town,” she heard Annette Bowman proclaim.

“Why, it’s Janice!” responded Haley, and the girl in the auto heard his chair scrape upon the piazza flooring.

“Oh! do you know her? One of your pupils, I presume?” and the other girl’s voice suggested raillery. Janice could not hear what Nelson Haley said in reply. Marty, towing Frank Bowman, appeared from around the corner.

“Good afternoon, Miss Janice,” said the civil engineer, warmly. “Mart says you are going for a spin; it’s a lovely day for it.”

“Y-yes; it is,” admitted Janice. She was conscious of the observation of the two above; but she did not glance up there. If only Frank had not come out to the car! Then she might have spoken to Nelson, and the teacher might even have gone with her and Marty for a ride. Janice realized that[100] there was something wrong between Haley and herself, yet she did not know how to straighten out the trouble.

Marty was pulling at her sleeve and whispering: “Say, Janice, ask him to go. He ain’t got a living thing to stop him.”

The suggestion smote the girl sharply with the thought that, in all probability, the innocent attentions Mr. Frank Bowman had shown her were the beginning of this estrangement between Nelson and herself. She desired very much to clear up the misunderstanding that had risen; yet she could not be ungrateful to the civil engineer who had been so kind to her.

Driven to it, knowing that the situation was bound to be worse if she did so, yet unable to see any way out of it, Janice turned and smiled upon Frank. In those few moments “Daddy’s little daughter” experienced emotions that would have surprised Daddy had he known about them. Afterward, when she came to think it over herself, Janice knew that she would never again feel so care-free and irresponsible as she had before this hour.

It was one of the situations in life that make for character building. She wanted Nelson, but she said, calling up a smile as well:

“Won’t you go with us, Mr. Bowman? We shall be back in time for supper.”

“Come along, Frank,” urged Marty, his face[101] aglow with the worship a boy often feels for a young man older than himself.

Nelson Haley had gone back to his chair. Janice felt it, although she had not raised her eyes to look at the couple above since Frank and Marty had appeared.

“We-ell,” said Frank, laughing. “If you think I won’t be in the way?”

“Aw, stop yer foolin’!” crowed Marty. “Hurry up—do! we ain’t got all day to wait for you!”

“Wait till I get a cap,” said the civil engineer, and turning swiftly he started up the hotel steps. Then he saw his sister and her companion.

“Oh, here you are, Annette!” he cried. “I’m going to take a little run with Mart and his cousin. And that reminds me—you must meet Janice Day. Come down here, Annette.”

He was evidently unacquainted with Nelson, for Janice saw him look at the school teacher curiously. Annette arose with an amused expression of countenance as though she were tolerating the requests of a small boy. Sisters do hold that attitude at times regarding their brothers.

“I should be charmed,” she said, in her drawling way. “This is my brother, Mr. Haley,” and she introduced the teacher easily. “I had no idea that this—ahem!—young lady whom I have seen in the motor-car was your Janice Day.” She arrived at the foot of the steps now and put out her hand to touch[102] Janice’s gloved one. “Re’lly, I’ve been hearing so much about you from Frankie that I was quite prepared to find you very terrible. He seems to think you a remarkable girl.”

Not a word or a glance, not even a flicker of the rather sparce eyelashes, to show that Annette remembered the meeting on the road to Middletown! Yet Janice was convinced that the city girl had a very vivid remembrance of the occasion—was remembering it as she drawled her long speech, in fact, and that such remembrance pointed her tongue with venom. There was not two years’ difference in their ages; yet Annette did her best to make Janice seem a child.

Nelson bowed rather stiffly from the piazza; he did not come down to the car. Marty waved his hand to him and called out: “Hullo, Mr. Haley!” Janice could only bow and smile. Oh, yes, she could smile! The power of repressing her real feelings and of hiding her hurts under a mantle of pride had come to her in this time of trial.

Frank had shaken hands with Nelson perfunctorily and run on in for his cap. Now he came back and shoved his sister playfully aside as he stepped into the car beside Janice.

“Go away, little girl,” he said to Annette, laughing. “You’ll get run over. We’ll have more time for you some other day. And I want you and Janice[103] to be good friends—you’ll find lots to like about each other.”

Janice bade Annette good-day pleasantly, and immediately started the car. Naturally she was busy making the turn and starting up the hill; but she did not miss Annette’s languid smile and shrug as she returned to Nelson. A sudden rush of tears half blinded the troubled girl. High Street grew misty before her, and Marty yelled:

“Look out! you’ll run down ol’ Miz’ Cummings.”

The warning brought Janice to herself. She braced up, cleared her eyes with a little shake of her head, and began to chat to Frank while running the car with her usual care. But she could not forget Nelson Haley.

They went up High Street and turned into the Upper Middletown Road. Not far beyond the forks a load of hay came into view. The road was wide enough here for the hay and the automobile to pass; but when the car came up behind the load, and Janice tooted her horn, the driver paid not the least attention.

“Now, ain’t that mean of him?” cried Marty. “He hears ye, unless he’s as deaf as Uncle Abram Moles was, and they say he insisted on his ear-trumpet bein’ buried with him for fear he wouldn’t hear Gabriel on Resurrection Morn.”

“Why, Marty! that sounds awfully irreverent,” gasped Janice.

[104]“It’s the truth, jest the same,” returned her cousin, complacently. “Uncle Abram was drefful deaf and no mistake. They tell about a city chap who come up here to take board with Uncle Abram’s people and who tried to be awful perlite to the old codger. One day at dinner the city chap refused a secon’ helpin’ and old Uncle Abram urged it on him.

“‘No, thanks,’ says the chap, ‘I’ve had sufficient.’

“‘Been a-fishin’?’ says Uncle Abram.

“The city chap shakes his head more emphatic and says: ‘I’ve had a-plenty.’

“‘Dew tell!’ says Uncle Abram. ‘Caught twenty!’

“At that the other feller gets some mad, and he rips out: ‘Ye old fule!’

“‘Broke yer pole?’ repeats Uncle Abram, quite innercent, and that closed the discussion.”

“Say!” cried Frank, laughing at Marty’s story. “We don’t want to crawl on behind this load of hay all the afternoon. What’s the matter with the fellow?”

“He’s wot they call a road hog,” proclaimed Marty. “Hey, you! get out of the way, will you?”

Janice tooted the horn again, but with no result. The driver of the hay wagon evidently had no intention of turning aside an inch from the middle of the road for the automobile. Of course, when[105] heavily loaded it is often difficult for a teamster to turn out; but the road rules demand it and the automobile party was quite within its rights when Janice signaled for a share of the roadway.

“Wait!” exclaimed Frank. “Isn’t there a wider place in the road right ahead, in front of Elder Concannon’s?”

“You’re right!” cried Marty. “We’ll fool him there. And crackey! I’d like to tell him what I think of him when we go by.”

“You be still, Marty,” was his cousin’s threat, “or I’ll not take you out again. We must not quarrel with the country people, no matter how mean they may be—— Why, see there! he’s turning right into the Elder’s barnyard gate.”

“By jinks!” ejaculated Marty, “it was the old Elder himself. No wonder he wouldn’t turn out for us—he hates these buzz-carts so. You’d oughter heard him layin’ down the law about ’em in Sunday School class last Sunday. Your ears ought to have burned, Janice.”

“I’m sorry the old gentleman does not approve of the car,” sighed Janice. “And we were just getting to be such good friends, too! Perhaps—perhaps Daddy’s present is going to bring me more trouble than pleasure, after all.”

But this last she said too low to be heard by her companions. She was thinking of the widening breach between herself and Nelson Haley.



Annette appeared at morning service on Sunday in one of her most striking frocks. The attention of good Mr. Middler’s parishioners was sadly distraught by the newcomer. It was quite impossible for feminine eyes to keep from turning in the direction of Miss Bowman’s seat during the sermon.

She did not come unattended, but it was not her brother who walked up the aisle with her just as the bell stopped tolling. The school teacher was her companion and, noticeably red about the ears, he handed her into the Beasely pew where he usually sat himself.

Nelson Haley’s presence as the city girl’s cavalier produced a distinct shock throughout the congregation. The comment of uplifted eyebrow, questioning smile, and—in some cases—the pronounced sniff, swept over the pews like wind over a wheat-field, as the people settled themselves in preparation for the sermon.

Elder Concannon, from the amen corner, glared in horrified amazement at the city girl and her escort.[107] He had not felt very friendly toward Nelson Haley since the building of the new schoolhouse, and his comment after service was particularly bitter in judgment upon the teacher.

“What more could ye expect of a young man that runs after all sorts of folderols? Woe unto the foolish women! But how about the foolish men that follow after them?”

That last was applicable to a goodly number of the younger male portion of the congregation that day; for they literally followed in the wake of the city girl and Haley as the couple strolled down High Street to the Inn.

Boys of Marty Day’s age nudged each other and giggled to see the funny, beruffled skirt flopping about Annette’s shoe-tops; the older boys secretly envied the school teacher his opportunity of knowing this strange girl well enough to walk home from church with her.

The girls and their mothers gathered in groups after service to discuss Annette’s costume. A few pretended to scorn the innovation of ultra-fashionable apparel in Polktown; but most of the younger ladies were already planning new frocks and furbelows.

Old Mrs. Scattergood, who was always outspoken on every subject, declared flatly that she considered Polktown needed to be awakened in the matter of dress.

[108]“I declare for’t!” she said, “there ain’t a town of its size in these Green Mountains that holds a bigger crowd of frumps than we be. I own up I’ve had Miz’ Link make my bonnet in one style, spring and fall, since I came from Skunk’s Holler, endurin’ two year now. It’s a livin’ truth that the women of the Holler and of Popham Landin’ are far ahead of us when it comes to style. We wait ev’ry spring for Miz’ Marvin Petrie to come from Boston with her idees of style—an’ then we copy her like the lot of copy-cats we be! I’m a-goin’ to have me a gown that’s up-to-date for oncet, if it’s the last act of my life!”

From that time on the influence of a silly girl on a more or less idle community spread with a rapidity that was really remarkable. Of course, it wasn’t Aunt ’Mira, or Mrs. Scattergood, or Mabel Woods, Elvira Snow and Icivilly Sprague only, who felt the infection.

It was true that Mrs. Scattergood appeared at the next meeting of the Ladies’ Aid Society in a gown with a modest slit on the side showing a silk petticoat, and despite all Janice could do her aunt had the salmon poplin made up and wore it with the purple plume on her hat.

“I vum!” gasped Uncle Jason, when his wife dawned on his vision as he came up from the barns, “ye look jest like a fodder stack on fire in a fog. I never see the beat of you, Almiry. When them[109] Vermillion Queen troupers come here and tried to show at the Opry House, there warn’t one o’ them dressed as gay as you be. If you old wimmen air a-goin’ to set sech an example to the gals in Polktown, we’ll come to a pretty pass. Huh!”

Perhaps Janice herself was the person least affected by the coming of Annette Bowman with her airs, graces, and costumes. And yet she was made to feel the presence of the city girl in Polktown to a degree.

Janice saw nothing of Nelson Haley, save to bow to him, or speak to him at church, or in a store, or on the street. He always seemed in haste to get away when he spied Janice; but she heard of his being in attendance on Annette almost every day.

The school committee had held a meeting and voted to increase Nelson’s salary if he would remain in charge of the Polktown school for another year. Nelson had agreed to remain. But all this information came to Janice at second hand. A few weeks before, the young man would have discussed the matter with her, if with nobody else. But now he did not come near her.

Was it because of Annette, or of Frank? Janice could not tell.

Janice would not have had anybody know how deeply she felt his neglect, for anything in the world. It did seem as though Daddy’s present of the[110] Kremlin car had brought her more trouble than happiness.

In those days Janice’s father was still in trouble, to judge by his letters. He was doing his best to save the mining property from confiscation by the new government. There had even been a clash of authority, and two of the guards at the mine had been wounded. Daddy had written that he would fight to the end before he would give up what rightfully belonged to him and to those in the company with him.

“He’d better give up an’ come back to the U. S. A.,” was Uncle Jason’s comment. “It’s better to be a poor man than a dead one!”

“Now don’t you go for to scare Janice,” interposed Aunt ’Mira. “Maybe it ain’t so bad after all. But I allow them Mexicaners is dreadful bloodthirsty,” she added, dolefully.

“Daddy won’t give up. He’ll fight it out to the end—I know him!” said Janice. And then she went her way with a heart that was very sore indeed.

The automobile was her solace. When things went wrong she could escape the contemplation of her girlish troubles by taking a spin in the car. Clinging to the wheel and with her well-shod feet resting lightly on the pedals, the engine purring like a huge tabby cat, and everything running smoothly,[111] it was a delight to roll over the hilly roads about Polktown and forget everything else.

She had wonderfully good fortune in her management of the car. She had learned from Frank Bowman how to thoroughly clean the parts. Marty and she frequently spent the long summer evenings pottering over the automobile. And because of the care she gave it at home, she seldom had trouble out on the road.

Janice did not often ride merely for pleasure when she did not take out her friends. She often went up through Elder Concannon’s woodland where the Trimmins lived, and always she hoped to find some means of getting better acquainted with “them Trimminses,” as Mrs. Scattergood called the squatters.

One afternoon she carried a bag of popcorn and peanuts with her and stopped directly before the cabin. Since the time when the poor old hound had been killed most of the children had been conspicuous by their absence when Janice drove by. Especially did the black-haired girl and the red-haired boy remain under cover at such times.

Nor was this day any exception. They could hear the motor-car coming for a long distance, of course, and the muddy plot in front of the cabin was quite empty of children when Janice stopped the car. But she was not shaken from her good intention. She disembarked and went boldly up to[112] the open door of the cabin. There was a scurrying and whispering inside, and she knew some of the children must have taken refuge there.

But all she saw was the slatternly mother in the doorway. Hers was a bulky figure. Not as bulky as Aunt ’Mira’s; but her dirty calico dress was worn with more baggy effect that it would seem really possible. Aunt ’Mira, when first Janice had come to Polktown, was a queen of neatness beside this poor creature.

“How-do!” she drawled, favoring Janice with a sickly smile. “You wanter see someone?”

“I have brought something for the children. I didn’t know but they might enjoy a little treat,” said Janice, smiling in return.


Growing wonder was displayed on Mrs. Trimmins’ flabby features and they lost their innocent, weak smile. “Ye don’t want nothin’?” she babbled.

“Why, no, Mrs. Trimmins!” cried the girl, cheerfully. “I just wanted to give the little folks a good time.”

Gradually an expression that Janice could not fathom was hardening Mrs. Trimmins’ face. A light flickered in her dull eyes. She slowly shook her head.

“Y’ don’t need ter bring we-uns anythin’ ter eat. We git our own vittles,” she drawled, yet with a[113] note of finality that surprised Janice. “Mebbe ye mean well—ye’re only a gal. But jest ’cause we live po’ don’t make us objicts of charity, I wantcher should know. We-all are as good as you-all Yanks!”

“Oh, Mrs. Trimmins!” gasped Janice. “I had no intention of offering you charity, or of insulting you in any way. Do, do believe me! I just thought it would be nice to treat the children. I love children and I’d like to make friends with yours—if they will let me,” she added.

The woman looked at her as though she scarcely understood. “Wan’t it you-all that killed our old Towser?” she drawled.

“My machine killed him, and I was very sorry. But I guess you know how he came to get under the wheels of my car,” Janice said, with some sternness.

“Wal—I s’pose I do. That Jinny an’ Tom is alius up t’ capers.”

“But I’d like to have them look on me in a friendly way,” Janice urged, thrusting out the bag of goodies again. “Do, Mrs. Trimmins, give this to the children and tell them I left it with my best wishes.”

In spite of herself the woman took the bag, and Janice ran quickly back to the car. When she went out of sight past the woods Mrs. Trimmins’ bulky[114] figure still filled the doorway of the cabin, but she had not dropped the paper bag.

At least—so thought Janice—she had made a small beginning in her task of getting acquainted with “them Trimminses.” She had learned that the girl she particularly wished to get at was named “Jinny”—probably short for Virginia. Janice was sure the black-haired girl was bright, if she was mischievous.

Janice had never met just such people as these squatters before. Indeed, they were quite as foreign to the Vermont soil as European emigrants would have been. By Mrs. Trimmins’ speech it was easy to tell that she came from the South; and had all the dislike for the “Yanks” that a certain class of Southerners are still supposed to retain.

“But they must be reached with kindness. Perhaps nobody, since they came here, has shown them friendliness. A lot of these old farmers haven’t forgotten the Civil War yet; they’d have nothing but contempt, anyway, for shiftless people like these Trimminses.

“How amazed she seemed just because I wanted to do her children a kindness. It is dreadful to think that all the neighbors round about have been so careless and hard toward them. I must find out more about the Trimminses—and how they came to be away up here.”

She found out something more about the Trimmins[115] children, at least, that very day. When she drove the car back along the wood road, she drove slowly by the cabin, as usual. Not a child appeared, nor was the woman herself in sight.

Just beyond was a piece of road bordered by a thick hedge of brush on either side. Janice was still driving slowly. Suddenly, out of the mask of bushes, rose a series of yells that would have done credit to a band of wild Comanches.

Involuntarily Janice shut off power. She should have speeded up instead, for through the brush on either side of the road charged the whole crowd of young Trimmins—from the sixteen or seventeen-year-old boys down to the toddlers. But “Jinny” was without doubt their leader.

“Give it to her!” shrieked the black-haired girl. “Give it to the nasty, stuck-up Yank! We’ll show her we don’t want her old charity presents! Give it to her!”

The shrieks were accompanied by a shower of popcorn and peanuts. Janice was bombarded as though with confetti, a lot of it falling in the tonneau as she accelerated the speed and shot away from the yelling, dancing crew.

She was disappointed, and, at first, a little angry. Then she had to laugh at the remembrance of her own chagrin.

And to think of that dancing, shrieking, black-haired Jinny leading such a charge and bombardment.[116] What control she must have over her brothers and sisters, to make them give up the peanuts and popcorn. It must have been a wrench for the babies to throw away the goodies.

Then Janice began to look more closely at the missiles with which she had been showered. There wasn’t much of the pink and white popcorn; and the nuts seemed all to have been shelled out before the husks were thrown at her! She was sure this was not according to Jinny’s plan; the little virago had been too much in earnest. But her small brothers—and perhaps the big ones—had fooled her. They had shelled the “goobers” before flinging the waste at Janice and her car.



The Ladies’ Aid gave, as it did every summer, a lawn party in Major Price’s front yard. The big mansion, which had been built by some Price ancestor, was always thrown open to the guests at that time. Mrs. Price and her two maids, with Maggie’s help, cleaned and furbished for a week previous to the annual event. New curtains were hung, the rugs were beaten, and of late years a vacuum-cleaner was imported to do much of the heavy work for the women-folk. Major Price was not a niggard, although he was “as old-fashioned as the hills,” his wife declared. And the Vermont hills are very old-fashioned, indeed!

The Major was a portly man who advertised his station as the magnate of Polktown by the wearing of a white shirt with a stiff, short bosom, every day in the week. The linen was immaculate, but his torso, swollen by good feeding, seemed about to burst through the shirt.

The old man had a jovial voice, a great mop of silvery hair, watery blue eyes which usually held[118] a twinkle swimming in their moist depths, and enormous, hairy hands which of late had begun to shake a little. He was smoothly shaven—scrupulously so every morning—and his complexion was ruddy. This was fortunate, too, for it made comparison less odious between his sagging cheeks and his nose. The latter was swollen and angry-looking and it was whispered that the Major was a secret drinker.

However, the old gentleman and his family placed the full resources of their house and grounds at the disposal of the church ladies. The latter and all the young girls and boys they could enmesh in the scheme worked for two days preparing the tables, decorating the trees with strings of Japanese lanterns, putting up bunting, gathering flowering branches from the woods, and doing a thousand and one things to decorate and make the old yard more attractive.

Janice and her car were requisitioned, and it brought many a load to the gate of the Price place. That week was a busy one for her, for in a few days more the seminary would open and she was brushing up the studies that she had dropped months before.

This lawn party was really the first public entertainment at which the younger element of Polktown society could display the influence exerted upon it by the coming and appearance of Annette Bowman.[119] Mrs. Hutchins (and presumably Mr. John-Ed., head of the basting-pulling department) had been very, very busy for more than a fortnight. Every other woman who pretended to do dressmaking in Polktown had likewise been engaged to the full.

And certainly an amazingly-dressed crowd of girls and younger women began to flutter through Polktown’s streets to the Major’s place next to old Bill Jones’ market, as evening dropped.

Some of the girls had come earlier to make ready the tables and help the ladies of the Aid Society. But these girls included most of the steady ones. Vira Snow, Maybelle Woods, and Icivilly Sprague, and their kind, did not come to help, but to be observed.

And they most certainly were observed!

Those who had essayed the tighter effects in skirts had not yet practised walking so mincing a gait as was necessary; and it was told afterward that Phin Pollock, who was with Icivilly, grew impatient and picked her up in his arms and strode along with her for a couple of blocks, to the delight of some small boys. Icivilly could not struggle much, she was too tightly sheathed for that, and all the attention big Phin gave to her sputterings was:

“Wal, dern my hat! ’f you air bound to tie yerself up in a hard knot this a-way, ’Villy, don’t blame me. I wanter git there b’fore old Elder Concannon eats up all the ice-cream.”

[120]The Elder had gradually become a perfect volcano of repressed emotion. On this evening the volcano boiled over.

Annette was wonderfully garbed in a frock that suggested nothing so much as it did a brown moth. It really was pretty, saving that the way Annette wore it, and her own light actions, served to make the dress seem immodest. And she did the very thing to-night that her brother had warned her against. She went exactly opposite to the conventions of Polktown.

Although this lawn party was not held within sight, even, of the church premises, it was engineered by a church society and the profit went into the church treasury. There was, therefore, in the mind of the Polktown public some simple reverence to be shown the occasion; and before those to be served first sat down at the tables, Elder Concannon asked a blessing.

Ten minutes later Annette, with the help of Maggie Price, had gathered together a crowd of the older girls and boys. They had rolled the big talking machine out upon the veranda, and finding several records of the newer dance tunes, Annette insisted upon starting one. Of course, young folks could not hear that music and keep their feet from fairly itching to dance.

Frank hurried from a far part of the grounds to try and halt his sister; but she was in the midst[121] of the dance when he arrived, her partner being one of the traveling men who had come up from the hotel. He knew the modern steps, and so did Annette. They were almost the only couple dancing, but the crowd was increasing at the edge of the veranda. Polktown’s eyes were being opened. Nothing just like this had ever been seen before!

The ladies could scarcely get people enough to fill the tables, and pay their quarter apiece for ice-cream and cake, or for smoking baked beans and brownbread. The Elder (who preached “temperance in all things” but never seemed to consider that it might apply to eating) left the table to see what was attracting the crowd to the broad veranda.

His amazement and rage can be better imagined than explained when he saw Annette and her brother Frank (she having discarded the salesman for the benefit of Maggie Price) giving exhibition steps of the fox-trot, the dip, and various other terpsichorean athletics.

The Elder was, after all, a gentleman; this was a private place offered to the women of the Ladies’ Aid by the courtesy of the host and hostess. He could say nothing; but he strode away in unspeakable indignation, refusing his third dish of ice-cream, and afterward favored poor Mr. Middler with a diatribe against all intemperate living and dressing.

“The town is being cursed by it!” he declared,[122] having cornered the little pastor and laying down the law to him in his usual dogmatic fashion. “The women and young girls have gone crazy over fashions and furbelows. This girl from the city that her brother’s brought here is stirring up the whole community to vanity and foolishness.

“Such a disgraceful scene as is being enacted on the porch our town council would not have allowed exhibited on the ungodly stage of the Opera House. Our people are becoming contaminated, Mr. Middler, with the bacilli of the modern craze for amusement. I tell you, our church is in danger. Were I once more the occupant of that pulpit,” added the Elder, with angry desire, “I would thunder forth such a denunciation of these goings-on as would rock Polktown to its foundations, sir.”

“I am not sure,” rejoined mild Mr. Middler, “that denunciations count for much in these days, Elder. The people have learned to think and to choose for themselves. As for this silly wave of overdressing among the younger women, to oppose it would be like trying to stop water from seeking its level.”

“Hah!” snorted the Elder, his head high and his eyes glowing.

“The rage for vain adornment will run its course—it is bound to,” proceeded Mr. Middle, “like the scarlet fever. Nothing that is not fatal can stop it. Our girls are not wicked even if they are silly. And[123] perhaps all is not even silliness. Polktown is growing; we are advancing in many ways——”

“Tut, tut!” exploded the Elder. “I am tired of that ‘progress’ idea. We have had too much of it. I am sorry I ever countenanced the first new thing.”

“You surely would not say the Public Library is not a good thing, Elder?” cried Mr. Middler.

“I don’t know but I would. It was a wedge—a wedge driv’ by that little Day girl. And now she’s flittering about the roads in one of those devil wagons that I am convinced, Brother Middler, was prophesied against in the Book of Daniel.” Here, having reached a more satisfactory subject for discussion, the old Elder spread forth before his ministerial friend the prophetical statements of the great hero of Biblical history anent the automobile craze of the present day.

Janice had helped all afternoon to prepare the feast of the evening, and then waited on table. She did not even go to watch the dancing on the veranda, and she was glad to see that Nelson Haley was not in the crowd at the house. Indeed, she served him at one end of a long table that was about half filled with guests.

“It is too bad, too,” she confided to the teacher, “for that dancing is just ruining the ladies’ chance of making enough money to get new shades for the[124] church parlors. You know that was what they held this lawn fête for.”

“What’s the matter with everybody?” asked Nelson, good-naturedly. “Not that I ever could see the reason for insulting one’s stomach with hot beans and brownbread, and cold cream and cake, even in the most righteous cause.”

“But these are the viands expected,” said Janice, her eyes dancing. “New England combinations of food were a mystery to me when I first came here. And one combination still remains a puzzle.”

“What’s that?” asked Nelson, entering into the spirit of kindly raillery which she had evinced.

“Why, oh, why, do they always serve cheese with pie? It is like the pilot-fish before the shark, or that bird they say always accompanies the rhinoceros; one can never be seen without the other. No housewife in Polktown would serve a piece of pie without putting a slab of cheese on the plate beside it.”

“Good gastronomic reason for it,” declared Nelson, confidently. “As the Frenchman says, ‘Ze cheese, he cor-r-rects ze reechness of heem.’ However, Janice, if you please, you may bring me another helping of beans—I recognize their flavor—they are Mother Beasely’s; and I will have my ice-cream and some of Miss ’Rill’s chocolate cake afterward.”

“I see you like to insult your stomach once in a[125] while, too,” she laughed, as she tripped away to fill his order.

Annette’s dancing exhibition seemed to promise a distinct gain for Janice Day. Nelson did not go near the veranda, but sat and talked with her during her flittings to and fro. There was so much interest shown by the spectators in the music and dancing that the Ladies’ Aid did suffer in pocket and Janice had plenty of time to talk.

She learned that the board of the college which had called Nelson had agreed to keep the position open for him for another year, so he was to stay in Polktown. The increase in his salary he could send to the old aunt who had helped him get an education. On her part, Janice explained her reason for attending school in Middletown, and what a great help Daddy’s present was going to be to her in getting back and forth.

But the real source of the difference between them—the barrier o’er which their confidences could not leap—was touched upon by neither. Nelson could not speak about Frank Bowman, nor could Janice open her lips about Annette.



From the evening of the lawn party (the Ladies’ Aid was bitter about that) Annette Bowman’s influence upon the younger element of Polktown was established. Contrary to her brother’s expectations, Annette did not find the little provincial town a bore. Indeed, she began to “have the time of her young, sweet life,” as Frank confessed, with chagrin, to Janice.

“I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes. I thought she would be disgusted with the place in a day—dead sore on it in a week—and desirous of never hearing the word ‘Polktown’ mentioned as long as she lived, when she turned her back on it and hiked for New York, where we have a lively bunch of cousins.

“But what do you think?” continued the amazed young civil engineer. “She is talking now of our taking a house, if one can be found, hiring a woman to do the work, and remaining all winter. For I shall be on this job, I expect, all this year and next. She declares she is going to wake Polktown up. She[127] is going to innovate carpet dances, and hopes to see frequent balls in the Odd Fellows’ Hall, and wants to stir up the whole place as it hasn’t been stirred since the Year One.

“Believe me, Miss Janice! I didn’t think it was in her. I thought she would make everybody laugh at her, or angry with her, inside of a week—everybody she met, I mean. And I declare! Old Mrs. Parraday almost worships her already. That funny little Mrs. Scattergood—the mother of your friend—has been to call on her, and Annette put herself out to delight the old lady.

“Old Dexter is beginning to stop and talk whenever he meets her; and if you’ll believe it, she was in Massey’s drug store yesterday with Maggie Price and Mrs. Price, and she was teaching those old loafers that congregate there—Cross Moore, and Dexter, and Len Phinney—some dancing steps.

“She says what they need and what she is going to import—if she can get one—is a dancing teacher. What do you know about that? A dancing teacher, no less! Says people ought not to be allowed to grow up and just exist, as folks do here, until Death reaps ’em, without getting any joy out of life.”

“I guess she’s right as far as that goes, Mr. Bowman,” said Janice reflectively.

“Well, I think she got it all out of a book,” said the young engineer, rather doubtfully. “You never heard such talk in your life! I imagine it’s just a[128] pose of Annette’s. She’s a nice enough girl, but she’s got Aunt Lettie’s idea of always being in the public eye. I don’t know how long the Polktown public will stand for her.”

There was a branch of it already that was displeased with Annette Bowman, as Janice very well knew. The ladies of the Aid Society laid it all to her that they had not made a financial success of the lawn party. People had been so much interested in the exhibitions of dancing on the Prices’ porch that they had forgotten to spend their money at the tables. So, much of the food prepared had been wasted.

Elder Concannon led a party, too, who opposed the régime of the city girl, though that was a chronic opposition that did not count for much, after all. And Miss Bowman set out at once to charm away the grouch of the Ladies’ Aid. She succeeded to a degree, for she was willing to be interviewed upon the subject of dress morning, noon and night, and idling about the village as she did all day, she was always ready to be questioned, and offered advice in the matter of style, in and out of season.

Janice and Annette did not meet frequently. The former could not complain of any particular neglect upon the part of Frank’s sister—not at all! Nor did Miss Bowman slight her when they were in company together. Only the girl from the fashionable boarding school appeared to set Janice in her place[129] as a girl of much tenderer years; which might have hurt Janice had she been sensitive about her lack of age.

Frank often expressed his desire that Janice and Annette should be good friends; but, to tell the truth, neither girl desired any intimacy. They had few tastes in common. Whereas Janice Day was as ready and as eager for a good time as any normal girl possibly could be, her idea of amusement was not always in accord with the ideas of Annette and the crowd of girls whom she very quickly won to her train.

Janice had her car, and she could have filled it every afternoon with a party of girls of her own age, and ridden about the country, or to Middletown or some neighboring hamlet. But Janice found most of the girls distasteful to her. When she had first come to Polktown the big girls in Miss ’Rill Scattergood’s school had been very unkind. Their treatment had driven Janice to find companionship and friends in other directions. She visited more people like Miss ’Rill and her mother, Hopewell Drugg, the Hammett Twins, and the like, than she did houses where there were girls of her own age.

She did not wish to be considered arrogant, or selfish; therefore she had asked many of the girls to ride with her. But almost always her companions talked of things that did not interest Janice[130] in the least. Of late the conversation of most of the girls of a companionable age was made up of fashion and dress, while they sang the praises of Annette Bowman, what she was doing and what she was going to do.

“I am afraid I must be jealous of her,” thought Janice, with some horror. “I even wish Mr. Bowman would stop talking about her. And I am sure she dislikes me. I never did feel just so about anybody in my life before.”

So she took out older ladies in her car almost entirely. Sometimes she went to call on the Hammett Twins—Miss Blossom and Miss Pussy. Neither of them had plucked up sufficient courage to ride in Janice’s car; but they loved to have the girl come to see them.

And when she was alone, she liked to ride around by the squatters’ cabin in Elder Concannon’s woods. Not that she could get near to the Trimmins children, nor did she meet their mother again. But she had such a deep interest in the black-haired girl, Jinny, that Janice actually could not keep her out of her mind.

“There must be something I can do for her. There is something to do for all the girls around town of her age. They are running wild—a good many of them; and they will grow up to be as silly as their older sisters are now, if something isn’t found to interest them.”

[131]Not that this problem occupied all Janice Day’s thought. Since the lawn party she had hoped that Nelson Haley would become more friendly again. She heartily wished that she had been able that evening to broach the subject of their estrangement, but there had been too many people around to enter into any private conversation.

He did not seem to be with Annette so much during these few days before the school opened, but Janice did not happen to run across him save in some public place. She was looking forward to the next Sunday and determined to try to get the school teacher to stroll home with her, as he had formerly been so fond of doing. Saturday, however, intervened; and Saturday was a fateful day.

If Janice had but known it, Nelson Haley was quite as desirous of being friendly with her as she was with him. In spite of his careless, easy-going manner, the young man was sensitive in the extreme. The sight of Frank Bowman speeding about town with Janice in her car had hurt Nelson.

Then slighting little remarks that Annette had let drop served to fan the flame of Nelson’s jealousy. Annette continued to speak of Janice and treat her as though she were a little girl. But she intimated that Frank had become strangely enamored “of the child.” She chose to consider Frank’s praise of Janice as intimating that her brother was in love with[132] her. Her sneering, laughing little quips about this supposed attachment cut Nelson to the quick.

For underneath Nelson Haley’s easy-going exterior was a serious character that he seldom showed to the world. Janice knew it was there; she had seen flashes of sentiment and of strength that few people who met the school teacher would ever have suspected was back of his semi-humorous smile and light-hearted speech. To Janice he had confided his desires and hopes regarding his future career. It had been her suggestion that perhaps, after all, he should teach another year in Polktown before accepting the offer from the small college which he had received a few weeks before.

Nelson missed his quiet little talks with the girl. She had been a help and an inspiration to him and he had long since learned to think much of her. The way she seemed to have taken Frank Bowman, the civil engineer, into her confidence, and to have made a companion of him, did not please Nelson at all. He could not understand Janice’s being fickle; yet it seemed as though she must be. Why—the day she and Marty came to the hotel and drove off with Frank in the car, Janice had not even suggested his going along! And there were seats for four. He and Bowman’s sister might have been asked to join the party, crowding Marty in with them.

Take it all in all, Nelson Haley had spent a very[133] uncomfortable summer. It had been nothing like what he expected when school closed in June and he had come to Janice with the offer he had received from the college faculty to join it in the fall. He thought he had “made good” with her then; and she had been more than kind to him. Now he felt Janice was becoming a stranger.

It bothered Nelson in his studies (he had spent most of the summer in preparing for his work in the Polktown school for the coming winter) and finally, on this Saturday before the opening of the term, he determined that he must have a fair and square understanding with Janice, and free his mind.

He came downtown immediately after dinner, did some errands, and then walked up Hillside Avenue to the old Day house. Had he glanced into the rain-soaked roadway (it had showered the night before) he would have seen the wheel-tracks of Janice’s automobile; but he saw with a pang that the garage door was open when he reached the house.

“I declare for’t, Mr. Haley!” exclaimed Aunt ’Mira, coming to the door to meet him. “Janice? If she ain’t jest gone! Didn’t you meet her? I declare for’t! She gits about in that ortermobile as lively as a water-witch. Marty, he’s gone fishin’, so Janice said she’d run over an’ take Miss ’Rill and[134] her mother out for a run. She’ll be back ’long about five. Won’t you stop, Mr. Haley?”

But the disappointed school teacher refused her polite offer, and Aunt ’Mira went back to the wonderful gown she was making with a sigh of relief. Haley returned to Mrs. Beasely’s cottage. As he passed Hopewell Drugg’s store he heard the storekeeper’s violin and saw the flutter of a white dress on the side porch between the store and the dwelling.

“Why, there’s Miss ’Rill now!” he thought, in some surprise. “Can it be possible that Janice is with her?”

But he saw no sign of the car anywhere about, and was quite sure that Janice would not have lent it to anybody. Nelson walked across the street for a nearer view of Drugg’s vine-enshrouded porch. Hopewell was sawing away at the gay little tune he now played so much, “Jingle Bells.” Miss ’Rill and he were alone.

Nelson felt almost a physical pang at the discovery. Surely Aunt ’Mira could not have been mistaken as to what Janice had told her. Nor could the girl have already taken out the Scattergoods and returned.

Suspicion took hold upon the young man’s mind, and it was all the keener as jealousy tinged it. Almost in spite of himself he began to walk toward High Street. The Scattergoods lived just around[135] the corner, having half of a double cottage, with a pretty flower-garden in front and a bit of lawn.

He came in sight of this and there was old lady Scattergood, in her sunbonnet and garden gloves, working in the flower-bed. Surely she had not been automobiling, nor did she expect to go this afternoon.

Nelson stopped, hesitated, then turned on his heel with the sudden stiffening all through his body that proclaimed indignation. It looked as though Janice had not told her aunt the truth. He would never have suspected the girl of speaking a falsehood! He strode down the hill toward the hotel. He was determined to find out if Frank Bowman was there.



Unconscious that Fate was putting her in a very unhappy position with Nelson, Janice was experiencing a number of small adventures on this Saturday afternoon.

She had arranged with Miss ’Rill and her mother to take them to Middletown for some shopping; but they were not, after all, ready to make the trip. It must be put off for another week, and Janice agreed to the change in the arrangements. Having the car with her she did not feel like staying at the Scattergoods’ little home for a call, so drove on up the hill.

There was a little flock of women out in front of Frederica Morgan’s house. Her cousin from Montpelier was dressed for departure, and had her bags piled on the sidewalk in a small pyramid. Frederica’s daughter, Cala, was likewise dressed for a journey.

“What’s the matter?” asked Janice, stopping at the horse-block, and seeing that the whole party was excited over something.

[137]“That plagued Walky Dexter jest sent word that his old Josephus has gone an’ fell lame and he can’t take us to the train. Drat the man!” exclaimed Mrs. Morgan, who was a gaunt-looking, masculine sort of woman. “Mahala here has sent word to her folks to meet her to-night with their carry-all at the Montpelier station, and Cala was goin’ with her on a visit. Now they won’t ever know what’s become of Mahala and Cala till some time Monday. Polktown is sure enough the sawed-off end o’ nothin’! We could all be wiped off the earth here and nobody outside the town would know it for three days.”

Janice had begun to smile as Mrs. Morgan talked. Now she broke in with:

“Let me help you out, please. I have nothing particular to do, and I can take you over to Middletown in ample time for the train.”

“Gracious, Janice! we couldn’t all pile into that ortermobile with our baggage,” gasped Cala, who was a freckled, stringy girl, promising to be just as awkward as her mother.

“Is your mother going?” asked Janice doubtfully.

“She ain’t gotter,” spoke up Frederica promptly. She was a widow, and masterful, and everybody called her by her first name. “I dunno but I’m bridle-shy of them gasoline things, anyway. And I can kiss Mahala and Cala right here jest as[138] well as though I went dean to the Middletown station with ’em.”

So it was quickly arranged. Mahala and Mrs. Morgan’s daughter got into the tonneau, and the various bags and extension boxes were piled in about them and about Janice on the front seat. The car was started slowly, amid a chorus of “good-byes” and Janice took the longer way to Middletown over the mountain. There was plenty of time, it was a lovely afternoon, and the rain the night before had laid the dust.

They passed few other vehicles,—no other automobiles—and experienced no accidents at all during the drive. Janice left the pleased ladies at the station a good half hour before the train was due. Then she drove out to the seminary to speak with the assistant principal about the purchase of some text books. Her work at the school would begin on Wednesday of the next week. Already some of the girls who came from a distance were at the school, and Janice was introduced to two or three.

They seemed pleasant, and Janice was bound to be popular because of her car, if for no other reason. The girls admired the Kremlin and finally climbed in and were driven downtown for an ice-cream “orgie.” It was, therefore, late in the afternoon when Janice left by the Lower Road for Polktown.

[139]“I like those girls—and they are city girls, too,” she thought, as she sped along. “They are not a bit like Annette Bowman. And how prettily they were dressed! Perhaps I do not pay as much attention to my dresses as I ought. Aunt ’Mira may be right. I will buy some new ones,” she determined, for Daddy had sent her a sum of money for deposit in a Middletown bank, and she could check out against this and pay her own personal expenses.

She was very glad, indeed, to find the girls she was to associate with at school so different from Frank Bowman’s sister. And thinking of the civil engineer—there he was right in the road ahead!

His appearance startled Janice. She had heard from Marty that Frank had to take the evening boat for Popham Landing and be away over Sunday on a business matter connected with the building of the railroad bridge. So his presence half way between Middletown and Polktown, less than an hour before the departure of the boat from the Polktown dock, certainly did amaze the girl.

“What has happened?” she demanded shrilly, stopping the car just behind Frank, who was stooping over a bicycle lying in the road.

He jumped up quickly, evidently not having heard the quietly running car.

“Janice Day!” he cried, in joy. “And you are running empty?”

[140]“There isn’t anybody hiding in the tonneau,” she said, laughing. “What has happened?”

“I’ve broken down. I had to run over to Middletown this morning, and I started back right after luncheon. Had plenty of time, I thought. But see that sprocket-wheel! Must have been a fault in it somewhere. I’ve tried to tinker the thing and make it go until I am pretty near mad!”

“Marty says you have to go away to-night?” suggested Janice.

“I’m due to go on the boat; but unless you help me I can’t catch it,” said Frank.

“Put your wheel in the car and hop in yourself, Mr. Bowman,” said Janice briskly. “I’ll get you to the dock, all right.”

She did as she promised, although there were none too many minutes to spare when they came down to the Polktown dock. The councilmen, without any knowledge of what it meant in wear and tear on a motor-car engine, had long since made an ordinance ordering motorists to travel within the town limits at a speed not exceeding eight miles an hour; and Janice really tried to conform to the law.

Janice knew that the town constable had timed her doubtfully on several occasions; but all he had was an old silver watch as big as the nickel star on his bosom, the second hand of which was broken,[141] and before he had the Kremlin’s speed computed, Janice was usually out of sight.

The constable was not in evidence on this occasion as the car came down to the wharf. But Nelson Haley was. Janice did not see the school teacher, and as the Constance Colfax was already blowing her whistle at the dock, Frank had little observation for anybody. He leaped out of the car, lifted down the broken bicycle, left it in Walky Dexter’s care, and then turned to bid Janice good-bye.

“I’m a thousand times obliged to you, Janice Day,” he said, shaking hands with the girl warmly. “You are a friend in need. I do believe that car of yours helps more people than we realize. It is a regular institution—Polktown could not get along without it.”

Janice laughed, and waved her hand to him as he ran to cross the gangplank. The steamer pulled out at once and the girl turned her car carefully upon the dock, and went back up the hill.

It was then that she saw Nelson standing at the corner of the freight shed. She was about to slow down, and she nodded to the school teacher and smiled. Nelson responded very stiffly, and turned away. He did not offer to speak to her, and Janice drove the Kremlin up the hill with a new feeling of despondency.

She could not hope to see the young school[142] teacher very frequently thereafter, for his work began on Monday morning. The Polktown school had increased in membership until Haley had to have two assistants. Pupils remained for higher studies than had been the custom in the old school, and fewer Polktown boys and girls went to the Middletown business college and academy.

Marty, after some sulking, went back to school. The thing that encouraged him most to do this was the fact that Frank Bowman had explained to him the impossibility of his ever being a civil engineer unless he at first secured a good, all-round education.

“It’s goin’ to be powerful lonely about the house with ev’rybody gone, I declare for’t!” sighed Aunt ’Mira. “I should think you’d be satisfied with the book-larnin’ you’d already got, Janice.”

Just the same, she was desirous that Marty should remain in attendance at the town school; and she put up a very attractive basket of luncheon for Janice to take in the car. Janice did not have to start until about eight o’clock to reach the seminary by the time recitations began. Day scholars were not required to report at chapel.

Aunt ’Mira did find the time hang heavy on her hands after her housework was done. One could not read love stories all the time. In fact, the supply of Household Love Letters, and its ilk, ran out. But it was about this time that Polktown[143] was introduced to something entirely new—and by Annette Bowman.

A little dapper man, with black curls and a waxed mustache, appeared at the Lake View Inn. Although Mel Parraday and his wife were glad to see guests come so late in the season, had he not been vouched for by Annette, this stranger would never have received a cordial welcome, to say the least, at Polktown’s single hostelry.

In the beginning, he was a foreigner. Mel “opined” at first that he was a “Canuck,” which was the local appellation for Canadians of French extraction. Polktown people did not welcome any influx of foreigners.

Mr. Bogarti engaged the use of the Odd Fellows’ Hall for the afternoons. Then he sent a boy around with cards announcing that his mission in life was to teach dancing—especially the modern steps. Annette had done good missionary work for Mr. Bogarti. As he was to give much individual attention to his pupils, and the dancing classes were for only three hours in the afternoon, he very quickly had all he wanted to do every day save Sunday.

He took private pupils for his off hours, going to their houses if they so desired.

He was wise enough to invite visitors to his public classes, and Aunt ’Mira was one of several ladies who went to look on. She dared only sit[144] on a bench at first, perspiring enviously as she saw some women quite as old as herself essaying the graceful steps that make up some of the simpler new dances.

At last she was invited to try, she was tempted, she fell! Not literally, luckily for the foundations of the Odd Fellows’ Building. Secretly Aunt ’Mira tried to become a dancer. Years before, when she was a young girl, although always plump, she had been very light on her feet and had enjoyed the old-fashioned square dances. Hope was awakened in Aunt ’Mira’s soul. She greatly wished to go back to the Land of Yesterday; and if youth could be overtaken, as they said, by more or less painful gyrations on the dancing floor, she was determined to do her very utmost to attain the proper movements.

She put none of Janice’s board money in the bank that month. For the extra twenty dollar bill, Mr. Bogarti patiently taught her in private. He was really a lover of his art and he believed faithfully that anyone could, with patience, be taught to dance.

Poor Aunt ’Mira groaned and wept in secret at first. She had carried around a superabundance of flesh for many years; and what it did to her at first to joggle and shake herself upon the polished planks of the Odd Fellows’ floor was, as[145] Marty would have said had he known about it, “a shame!”

Marty was safe at school. Janice was away all day at the seminary. Uncle Jason had taken the contract to build Hiram Bulger’s new barn. And that fall in Polktown there were more women than Aunt ’Mira keeping secrets from their husbands and families.

Early one morning while Marty was at the barn and Janice was making a more lingering toilet than usual in her room, Uncle Jason happened to shuffle in at the kitchen door unexpectedly. The rich odor of frying pork filled the room and was wafted invitingly out of doors. The blue smoke from the huge griddle on which the flapjacks were baking made a halo about Aunt ’Mira’s head.

“I vum, Almiry! Be ye gone clean daft?” gasped her husband, in horror.

Aunt ’Mira had been so earnest in her endeavors that she had not heard his approach. A strip of pork was poised on the fork held in her left hand, while the cake-turner waved aloft in the other; and Aunt ’Mira was counting:

“One, two, dip; one, two, dip; one, two, three, slide.”

She came up, facing Uncle Jason, after a sweeping “sink” that would seem impossible for a lady of her build to accomplish.

[146]“Almiry! what air you doin’?” ejaculated her husband again.

“Dancin’,” said his wife meekly.

“Doin’ what?”

“Dancin’. Them’s some of the new steps.”

“‘Steps’? Them warn’t steps, Almiry.”

“So they call ’em, Jason,” she said, meekly enough. “They say them steps will help ter remove super-floo-ous flesh, and build up tissue.”

“Great Cannibal Islands!” exploded Uncle Jason. “Ye don’t mean ter say ye think that you air made of tissue? That’s too thin—huh!” and he snorted his disgust. “And what’s become of your rheumatism? You was gruntin’ an’ groanin’ here a spell back if ye had to stoop and pick up the poker; and now ye air slinkin’ an’ slidin’ about here like an overgrown eel. I never seen the beat! Have all ye wimmen gone plumb crazy? Don’t, for massy’s sake, let the children see ye—an old woman like you!”

That last finally struck a spark from Aunt ’Mira. She had meekly returned to the turning of the pork and flapjacks; now she exclaimed:

“I ain’t! I ain’t old—nor you ain’t old, Jason Day! That’s jest it—we let our elves sag back an’ feel old! But we oughtn’t to—no, sir! It’s our duty to keep young. Dancing helps do it, and keeps us limber. We’re only in the prime o’ life, you an’[147] me, Jason. We ain’t no right to act like one foot was in the grave an’ the other all but. No, sir!

“‘Don’t let yourself sag!’ That’s what the dancin’ teacher says. Keep it in mind ter walk straight, an’ hold yer head up; when ye can, take a few steps for exercise.”

“My soul an’ body, Almiry! Stop it! Don’t wiggle that-a-way again,” gasped Uncle Jason, as his good lady executed a few more posturings. “’Tain’t decent! And here’s Marty a-comin’ in with the milk.”



Janice was having a good time at school. She found the girls attending the Middletown Seminary quite to her taste. They were hearty, healthy, sensible; and most of them were very kind to her. The management of the school was excellent. The teachers had just enough oversight of the girls, out of classes as well as in, to keep up the proper relationship between the pupils and themselves.

Mrs. Protherick, the principal, was a very lovely lady, Janice thought; and the under teachers all treated the day scholar from Polktown with most delightful friendliness. Janice was very busy with her studies, for she felt her deficiencies. Two years makes a long break in one’s education. But such time as she had to spend with her fellow pupils delighted the girl from Polktown.

One change in Janice which the school soon made pleased her aunt. She bought several ready-to-wear dresses in Middletown, and Aunt ’Mira was allowed to go along and help pick them out. Nor did Aunt ’Mira lack good sense in the selection[149] of frocks for a girl of her niece’s age; it was only in her own adornment that she was inclined to go to extremes.

The run back and forth in the car was usually a very pleasant one. The Vermont woods were aflame with fall glories. Sometimes on the way to the seminary she loaded her car with gorgeous branches for the adornment of her friends’ rooms; or, going home, she stopped to pick up glossy brown chestnuts under the trees, or shake down hickory nuts in their golden-brown sheaths.

She seldom failed to take the Upper Road coming home from school, and had found a short-cut through a private lane into the wood road that passed the Trimmins’ cabin. So she saw much of those wild children, including the girl with the black hair.

Not that she spoke much with them, for usually if Janice undertook to address one of them, there was a pert response, especially from Jinny or the red-haired boy, Tom. But the little ones began to be more friendly, for she secretly bought their confidence with lollypops and other goodies.

Virginia had had some schooling, it was plain. Janice frequently caught the wild little mob playing school, and the black-haired girl was always the teacher. Janice tried to interest her in a meeting that had been planned for on a Saturday afternoon in the old vestry of the Union Church.

[150]“You will like it, Virginia,” she said to the scowling, doubtful young Arab. “It’s just a society for girls of your age—nobody there to boss you, or make you do anything you don’t like. And after the society is organized, the girls are going to have lots of good times.”

“What doing?” demanded Jinny.

“For one thing, they are going to sew dolls’ clothes. There will be somebody there to teach you just how to cut them out, and fit them, and sew them. And——”

“Ain’t got no doll!” snapped Jinny. “That’s baby-play. Don’t want t’ come to church. Ye always have to take money.”

“There will be no collection taken up,” Janice assured her. “There will be tea and cakes and a little entertainment of some kind every Saturday afternoon. And if it is too far for you and your two sisters to walk, I’ll come and get you in my car.”

That last was a temptation. It was Janice’s high card and she played it knowingly. Jinny hesitated—but she was not lost. She shook her head stubbornly, and poked her bare toe into the sand—for these children ran bare-legged long after frost.

“Won’t come!” she snarled with finality. “We-uns don’t want nothin’ t’ do with you Yanks, no-ways. I ain’t got no doll. I hate ’em! Go ’long!”

[151]But Janice was sure that the maternal instinct was just as strong in Virginia Trimmins as it was in any little girl in Polktown. She saw her so many times nursing the baby; and she looked after her small brothers and sisters with all the solicitude of a mother-hen with a flock of chicks. Indeed, these days, the baby of the family, a wan little boy, seemed seldom out of Jinny’s arms. He was sickly; but what was the matter with him Janice could not find out.

With her new interests at school, Janice had not forgotten her desire to help and interest the younger girls; and out of this desire had grown the society with which she was endeavoring to net the black-haired Trimmins girl. Janice had interested Mr. and Mrs. Middler, and they were enthusiastic for the plan. The good minister knew that something should be done to counteract the influence of Annette Bowman and the people whom she had enthralled. The little girls should be taught to be happy and sensible at the same time. The large class of girls of Janice’s age and older were becoming more and more frivolous.

Mrs. Middler agreed to teach the sewing class; Janice arranged novel little entertainments for the girls—stereopticon pictures; once a real Punch and Judy show; marionette entertainments; and an occasional talk by one of the teachers from the Middletown Seminary, whom she easily interested in[152] the new society. Chocolate and cakes were supplied by the ladies of the Aid Society, and the new club became popular after the very first meeting.

Thus Janice’s mind, and heart, and hands were very full. Yet she had time to plan for another long expected event. Little Lottie Drugg was coming home, and Janice determined that her return should be celebrated in some way to delight the storekeeper’s child.

She conferred with Miss ’Rill and together they swept and garnished the living-rooms, bought Lottie a dainty white and gold chamber set, painted and re-papered the child’s room—making it the daintiest nest that a little girl ever could have. Janice bought lanterns and flags to decorate the front of the old shop, too; and Hopewell overhauled his stock, re-dressed his windows, and otherwise prepared the old place for the return of the little girl who could see.

Janice and Miss ’Rill went to meet her with the car. One of the teachers traveled from Boston with her, and when little Lottie came down the car steps it was almost impossible for the two friends to believe it was she, she had grown so, and was so changed in other ways.

No more groping in the dark, with hand outstretched to guide her! Nor did she skuff her feet on the platform as so many deaf and mute people are apt to do when they walk. Her tread[153] was as light and springy as that of any child. Her eyes never had appeared blind, but now there was a light in them that they had not held before.

She hesitated just a moment when she saw Janice and Miss ’Rill; but she knew them both, and with a happy little cry flew lightly to them. She hugged them both; and she clung to Janice’s hand after the first greeting was over.

“Janice! Janice! I love you,” she whispered. “If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t see at all, and, maybe, I’d fall down the cellar opening again.”

The school had wonderfully improved Lottie. She chattered volubly, and although she watched the movements of her friends’ lips alertly, she really heard very well, indeed. The tones of her voice had become modulated—were sweeter and less shrill.

When they came in the swift-moving car to the path that led down to the abandoned old wharf at Pine Cove, which had been Lottie’s favorite haunt, she begged to run down and hear if “her echo” was there. Janice went with her and Lottie made her way out upon the wharf rather gingerly. In her blindness she had run over the shaking timbers without the least fear; now she could see the black tide swirling among the piles beneath her feet.

“He-a! he-a! he-a!” she shrieked, and the echo answered promptly her cry: “’E-a! ’e-a! ’e-a!”

Lottie turned to Janice, pale with delight. “I[154] heard it! it’s there!” she gasped. “I know you writed me it was, but I couldn’t hardly expect it to wait so long for me. What a nice, nice echo it is; isn’t it, Janice?”

Lottie was delighted, of course, with the motor-car; and when they swung up to the wide stoop before the grocery store, she was only sorry the ride had been so short. When she saw Hopewell standing in the doorway, with his arms outstretched and the tears running down his cheeks, Lottie flung herself at him with a cry of delight and forgot all about the automobile, and everything else.

The reunion was a touching one. Janice and Miss ’Rill left at once in the car, and Miss ’Rill only went back at supper time to prepare the meal for the father and his little daughter. Hopewell could play nothing but lively tunes that night on his old fiddle, and “Jingle Bells” and “Aunt Dinah’s Quilting Party” were scarcely lively enough to express his exuberance of spirit.

Now Miss ’Rill was willing to set the time for her wedding. Little Lottie was delighted at the idea of having her for a “new mamma.” She confided to Janice one day soon after her return:

“You know, Janice, the other little girls where I was all talked about their mammas, and how good mammas were to have, and I couldn’t say a word, ’cept about my father. Of course, I told ’em he was better than most mammas; but they[155] wouldn’t b’lieve me. So I jest prayed hard that I would have a mamma—and there couldn’t be one nicer, I’m sure, than Miss ’Rill.

“I’m going to call her ‘Mamma ’Rill’—it’s such a pretty name,” went on Lottie. “She says she’ll not mind what I call her so long as I love her. Who wouldn’t love Miss ’Rill?”

“That is true, Lottie,” agreed Janice. “And I know she will be devoted to you, just as though you were her owniest own little girl!”

“And we’re going to make papa happy together—she says so,” declared Lottie. “He isn’t sorry any more; and he plays real lively tunes on his fiddle. I like them best, too, for I can hear them now; and the sad, quavery tunes make me cry.”

Winter was coming on in earnest. The cornfields were dreary looking and the puddles in the roadway of a morning were mirrors of black ice as Janice’s car whisked over them on her way to school. She must look forward now to bad weather and heavy snows, when she would be obliged to remain in Middletown until Friday evening, and come back home with Walky Dexter, returning with him to school on Monday morning.

While the weather remained brisk and dry there was still much enjoyment to be had out of her car. Every close friend she possessed in Polktown, as well as at the seminary, had ridden once or more[156] in the Kremlin, except Nelson Haley. So far he had never stepped foot into her car.

And it seemed that Nelson was drifting farther and farther away from her. She seldom saw him during these autumn weeks to speak to, even at church. In the usual public places he was almost always in attendance on Frank Bowman’s sister. Annette selfishly acquired all the male attention possible; Nelson was not alone in her train. But it was Nelson’s case that troubled Janice.

For the younger girl was sensible enough to see that the school teacher was hurting himself in the eyes of Polktown people by dancing attendance upon the city girl. Annette had led social affairs for some time now; but she overstepped the bounds of what many of the quieter people of the town considered decent.

Until her brother stopped it—and stopped it with indignation—she had allowed the traveling salesmen that came to the inn to take her about to country dances, boating parties, and the like. At several parlor dances, too, Annette had been Bogarti’s partner in new and daring expositions of the modern steps. And her evening frocks were very, very décolleté.

Gradually the nicer people began to fall away from Annette. Even some of the bolder and faster girls were made by their parents to keep away from Miss Bowman. When a girl begins to be[157] talked about in a country town her reputation is very likely to be ruined for life; and although the city girl did absolutely nothing that Gossip could point at as wicked, she was traveling a very narrow path along the Precipice of Public Opinion.

Janice feared that Nelson’s influence in the school would be hurt because of his attentions to Annette. Was it her business to try and save him from his own folly, and from the influence of the city girl? That query long puzzled and worried Janice Day. Her desire was to save the school teacher from the results of his course of action; but the puzzle was how to do so without bringing unpleasant comment upon herself.



The Girls’ Guild was a growing and popular institution by this time. Mothers declared it a great help, for they could trust their girls to be in the old church vestry on Saturday afternoons, instead of parading High Street in imitation of some of their older sisters.

The boys had recently opened a gymnasium in the basement of the Public Library Building, and Marty Day and his chums seldom hung around the livery stable or the groceries nowadays. Their younger sisters were given the opportunity to enjoy themselves in an innocent yet lively way under Janice’s management and Mrs. Middler’s care.

Janice had been unable to get Virginia Trimmins and the two sisters nearest her age to the Guild. The black-haired girl repulsed every attempt Janice made to lead her.

Not that she wouldn’t stop to talk to Janice now. Indeed, almost every day that the Kremlin car bore Janice through the wood, Jinny exchanged a few words with her. Almost always the black-haired[159] girl bore the sickly baby, wrapped in a ragged blanket, in her arms.

“Haven’t you had the doctor see him?” asked Janice, pitying the poor little fellow’s peaked face and his staring, almost expressionless, eyes.

“Doctors cost money, Pap says,” muttered Jinny. “We ain’t got none. We hain’t never done had none!” she added desperately.

“I am sure Doctor Poole would be able to help the little fellow if you would take him to his office,” suggested Janice.

“He’d want money, too.”

“No. I am sure he would help the baby for nothing. He is the health inspector of Polktown and gets a salary for it.”

“Pap wouldn’t like it if I took him,” said Jinny reflectively. “An’ I couldn’t kerry him so far.”

“I’d take you both in the car,” urged Janice.

“Nop,” said Virginia Trimmins, shaking her obstinate head. “I don’t want no ride in your car. I reckon Buddy is a-gittin’ better,” and she walked away with the poor little fellow.

But there came a day when, as Janice drove up to the clearing in the wood, she heard screams and wailing from the cabin. The door was open but nobody appeared. She stopped the car and jumped out, venturing to run to the door.

“Oh! what is the matter?” she inquired, looking in.

[160]All the children except Virginia and the smaller ones were off in the woods somewhere. The mother sat in a sway-backed rocker and moaned to herself as she swung to and fro, her dirty apron over her head. Virginia was hovering over the trundle bed in the corner, and Janice, receiving no answer, tiptoed to her side.

The poor little baby lay on the outside of the bed. A single glance told the dreadful story. He was in convulsions.

“Jinny! Jinny!” murmured Janice, seizing the black-haired girl by the arm. “He must have a doctor! Let me get Doctor Poole!”

“No, no!” wailed the mother, who heard her. “His pappy can’t never pay for no doctor comin’ yere.”

Jinny looked into Janice’s face dumbly. The latter motioned to her quickly, whispering:

“Wrap him up. Bring him quickly to the car. We’ll take him to the doctor in spite of everything!” and as the other still hesitated, she demanded:

“Do you want to see him die, you cruel girl?”

At that the black-haired girl wrapped the blanket around the suffering baby and started for the door.

“You want yo’ pappy should skin you alive, Jinny?” shrieked her mother, but unable to rise.

“Let him skin!” returned Virginia, as she darted out of the door. Janice ran after her, and both girls leaped into the car. Janice started it instantly[161] and the Kremlin darted away along the wood road, quickly leaving the squatters’ cabin out of sight.

The two girls scarcely spoke a word all the way to Polktown. Janice drove the car just as fast as she dared, and kept her eyes on the road ahead. Virginia Trimmins hung over the baby boy, her hungry eyes watching every change in his poor, pinched features.

The car flew along the wood road and out upon the main highway. Elder Concannon’s place was in sight when suddenly a tall figure rose up out of the bushes beside the road. It quite startled Janice, although she almost instantly recognized the Elder himself.

The severe old man held his watch in his hand as the car dashed by. Janice knew very well that she was exceeding the county speed limit; but she would have pulled down just then for little less than a gattling gun. And right ahead—they were on him in less than a minute—was the constable, who darted out from behind a hedge, likewise with his watch in his hand.

“Stop that there car!” he yelled, holding up an admonitory hand.

It was a trick. Janice knew instantly that the Elder and the constable had engineered it particularly to catch her. She had been already told that the Elder had reported more than once that she[162] exceeded the allowed speed for automobiles in passing his house.

She not only exceeded the speed now, but she refused to obey the constable’s mandate. To stop and try to explain to the two angry and excited old men would delay getting for little Buddy Trimmins the medical attention he needed.

Janice did not even hesitate.

The Kremlin car roared past the constable, who was fairly dancing at the edge of the highway, and in a flash was out of sight. Janice knew her escape was but for the moment. The Elder would undoubtedly press the case against her. She would have to pay for refusing to stop, as commanded; and her punishment might be severe.

These thoughts flashed through her mind, it is true, but her heart was set upon getting to Dr. Poole’s. All the time she was praying silently that the good physician might be at home and able to do something to help the baby.

They roared down into High Street, the car going just as fast as she had ever dared drive it. Fortunately there was not a vehicle in sight; but pedestrians halted to watch her in wonder as she drove on and stopped abruptly before the door of the doctor’s office.

Virginia seemed dazed. The baby lay in her lap, unconscious—Janice feared he scarcely breathed. But the older girl leaped out and ran up the walk[163] to the office door. It opened before she touched the knob and the doctor himself appeared.

“Who’ve you run over, Janice Day?” he demanded. “I’ve been expecting it, and I saw you coming!”

“It’s the little Trimmins baby. He’s in convulsions, Doctor. Do, do help him!”

“Convulsions? Run over? Strange result, Janice.”

“Oh, don’t wait! it wasn’t I!” gasped the girl. “Don’t you see? I found him in convulsions at their house and I made Jinny bring him on in my car.”

“Hah!” grunted the physician, and strode out to the sidewalk, where a curious little crowd was gathering. One glance at the baby’s face, and he exclaimed:

“Bring him in! Quick, child!”

This awoke the black-haired girl. She hugged the baby to her thin breast and jumped out of the automobile. Dr. Poole hurried her into the office and shut out the prying neighbors. Janice was the only one he allowed to help him—and he found her during the next few minutes a very practical helper, indeed.

“Child! you ought to be a nurse,” he said finally, when he could talk again. “You’re as handy as an old woman, and lots sprier. Now, now! he’s coming[164] out all right. You brought him just in time. Tell me about it.”

Janice told the story, and Virginia never said a word. She was a strange, silent child in the company of adults. But she watched everything that the doctor did for the baby and, without doubt, could repeat all his ministrations herself if little Buddy had another ill turn.

“The old Elder held a watch on you, too?” chuckled the doctor, when he heard the last of Janice’s tale. “That means business, then, Janice. Like enough, they’ll put you in jail for the rest of your natural life. It’s a terrible situation.”

“Don’t make it out worse than it is, please, Doctor,” she begged, with a rather feeble smile. “I am afraid they will make trouble.”

“I know they will!” declared Dr. Poole, with assurance. “But we’ll fix it so they’ll not do it till to-morrow. I’ll drive little sissy here and the baby back to their home. I want to see that Trimmins man, anyway.”

“He ain’t got no money, Pappy hain’t,” here interposed Virginia gruffly.

“But he’s got some little common sense, I hope!” snapped the good doctor. “If he hasn’t, I’ll feel like knocking some into him. I’m going to treat this child and I’m going to cure him; and I’m not going to have ignorance and laziness stand in the way of his growing up to be a bright, hearty boy.

[165]“I’ve thought,” said Dr. Poole reflectively, “that you children living up there in the woods were all hearty and healthy, if you were not much else. Perhaps I’ve neglected my duty about you; I’m not going to do so any more.

“There, Janice Day!” he added, turning again to her, “you are forever starting something in this town. I’m inclined to think you are a regular nuisance—I had enough to do before.”

“Really, Doctor,” murmured Janice mildly. “This was quite involuntary. I couldn’t very well let the poor little thing die.”

“Hah! neither can I,” grunted Dr. Poole. “That’s what I mean. I’ve got to do something about these Trimmins people. I can see that plainly. I don’t know that I’m so dreadfully grateful to you for awakening my conscience in their behalf.”

Janice drove home carefully, glad that little Buddy Trimmins was out of danger; but it must be confessed that she feared what the morrow—Saturday—would bring forth regarding her breaking of the speed law on her errand of mercy.



Marty came home full of it from the village that evening. Janice had not said a word about her adventure of the afternoon, and Aunt ’Mira had been too involved in her own particular troubles to notice the gravity of her niece’s face.

Aunt ’Mira had essayed the making of a pegtop skirt for street wear. As she told Janice, “it fitted jest beautifully” over the hips. But when she came to try it on, it was so narrow around her shoe-tops that she couldn’t walk in it “no better than a hobbled hen!”

“And I can’t slit it up the side same’s Miz’ Scattergood did hern,” confessed Aunt ’Mira; “for Jason wouldn’t stand for it. He’s a mild-tempered man; he kin be coaxed or led jest so fur, but he’d never stand for me wearin’ a slit skirt. If I went to church in it I b’lieve I’d find the door locked ag’in me when I got home. An’, b’sides,” whispered the troubled lady, “I never can keep my stockin’s from wrinklin’, and they might show! That Bowman girl’s do.”

[167]“Dear Auntie!” sighed Janice. “Why do you do it?”

“Do what?” asked the large lady, startled.

“Why are you a sheep? Why do you follow after all the other sheep? I’m sure you can’t think these extremes of fashion pretty or modest.”

“You talk like a reg’lar old woman, Janice Day!” exclaimed her aunt. “What’s prettiness got to do with it? Ain’t it the style? Ye might as well be dead an’ buried, an’ so save yer board, as to be out of style,” declared the excited Mrs. Day. “And I’m a-goin’ to keep up with the fashions, if it don’t break either my back or my pocketbook. If I can’t lead the fashions, I kin foller them an’ make a decent showin’ for the Day family.”

“That’s exactly it,” murmured Janice. “Is it decent?” But Aunt ’Mira did not hear. Marty came rushing in at this point and sprung his bomb.

“My goodness, Janice!” he cried. “What you goin’ to do? They say Elder Concannon’s swore out a warrant for you!”

“What’s that you’re sayin’, Marty Day?” demanded his mother. “You’re always comin’ home with your jokes; but you needn’t try to frighten Janice.”

“Well, it’s so now! Isn’t it, Janice?”

“You behave, Marty!” commanded his father, without waiting for Janice to reply.

[168]“Perhaps Marty tells the truth,” said his cousin quietly.

“What?” gasped Mrs. Day.

“Swore out a warrant? The old Elder? What fur?” demanded Mr. Day.

“Is it really so, Marty?” asked Janice, herself surprised.

“Yep. I got it straight. Saw him comin’ out of Judge Little’s office with the constable.”

“What’s he swore out a warrant for against your cousin, I want to know?” demanded Aunt ’Mira.

“Speedin’,” said Marty, grinning. “I knew they’d git her yet. Goin’ to make an example of her, so they say. That’s what the Elder says. ’Course there’s so many other autermobilists in town, they need an example. Mean old hunks!”

Uncle Jason fairly grew gray under his tan and his watery eyes caught fire of his wrath.

“If that ain’t jest like that old psalm-singin’ hypocrite! If he dares have our Janice fined it’ll be the sorriest day he ever spent with his hat on!”

He wanted to know all about how it had happened. Janice told him the exact truth, as far as the racing of the automobile along the Upper Road went, but she was too excited to make dear all about the Trimmins and the sick baby.

“Mebbe you’d ought to have stopped when they told you to, Janice,” said Aunt ’Mira timidly.

[169]“She hadn’t nothing of the kind!” declared her angry husband. “You be still, Almiry. I glory in the gal’s spunk. If she’d stopped, they’d mebbe had her in jail till this time. The Elder’s got one of his mean fits on and he’s gotter have satisfaction. But I’ll give him satisfaction.”

“Oh, Jason!” quavered his timid wife. “Don’t you git inter no law-fight with Elder Concannon. He’s got more money’n us, and he’ll beat ye.”

“I’d like ter see him!” declared Uncle Jason valiantly. “I’m going to stick by Broxton’s gal if it takes the last dollar I got. An’ I’d be glad ter fight old Concannon, anyway.”

“Hurray for Dad!” burst out Marty. “He talks right, he does!”

“Oh, I hope it will make nobody any trouble but myself,” murmured Janice. “Really, I never did travel so fast on the road before to-day; and there was a reason——”

“It don’t matter. He shows a mighty poor sperit,” grunted Uncle Jason. “I shell tell Concannon so.”

“Seems mighty small pertaters,” quoth Aunt ’Mira, “for them two men to pitch upon a girl.”

Uncle Jason put on his hat without eating his supper. “Never mind the victuals,” he grunted. “I kin eat any time, Almiry. I’m a-goin’ downtown ter see what kin be done about it.”

Uncle Jason was as good as his word, and his[170] interest brought forth fruit that rather staggered Janice. In the first place, the constable never served the warrant; but early in the morning the farmer took Janice down to the justice’s office, all the way advising her not to be frightened, “for all her friends would stand by her.”

And it really did look as though many of Janice Day’s friends intended literally to do that thing. Judge Little held court in a big room over the feed store. Flour and meal dust powdered the stairway going up, had searched out the crevices through the floor from the warehouse below, and masked the spider-webs in the windows with a curtain through which the winter sun had hard work to penetrate.

There were few benches, but the men of the town stood four deep all about the room. It being Saturday forenoon, there was less business than usual going on and even Walky Dexter was on hand. Such a gathering had not been seen in the justice’s court since a half-crazy Canuck had attacked and injured his employer on a farm at the edge of town, half a score of years before. Most of the grist that came into Judge Little’s mill was engendered by picayune neighborhood quarrels, that in local parlance “didn’t amount to a hill of beans.”

This was a different matter, it seemed. The bespectacled old Justice of the Peace, who had been settling neighborhood bickerings for half a lifetime,[171] took a hasty squint at the docket to make sure that he had not waked up on the Day of Judgment with more than his share of important cases to dispose of. There was just the one case of speeding, the accusation sworn to by Elder Concannon.

“This here matter of ‘J. Day’s drivin’ an automobile on the Upper Middletown Road, faster than the law allows,’” the old man repeated, reading from a paper before him. “‘Complainant, Josiah Concannon.’ I see ye present, Elder. Constable, is J. Day here?”

There was a murmur in the room and Uncle Jason, with a light hand on Janice’s arm, urged her to rise. There were no ladies in the room; according to Polktown ethics, women had nothing to do with courts or court matters. Janice felt herself very much alone, despite Uncle Jason’s presence. All the friendly faces she saw about her were very grave. Nobody smiled at her. She failed to take into consideration the New England reverence for Court proceedings.

“This here is my niece, Jedge Little,” said Uncle Jason, in rather a shaking voice, for he was unused to public speaking. “She done the fast driving. Her name is Janice Day, and she’s Broxton Day’s only child. She’s livin’ with me and my wife, in our care. She’s as fine——”

“Thank you, Mr. Day,” interrupted the justice[172] politely. “You’ll be given an opportunity to testify as to the character of the accused a little later. Let’s have things reg’lar and orderly. We’ll hear Elder Concannon first. You can sit down with your uncle, young lady,” he added to Janice.

The old Elder, towering like a figure of wrath, scowled at Janice and shook an admonitory finger while he talked. He spread before the Court in solemn accusation how Janice had sped by his house and along the Upper Road “time and time again” at a speed that made the traffic for other vehicles and pedestrians quite perilous.

“Better come to the event in question, Elder,” advised the Squire easily. “I take it these previous times when you say you saw the young lady drivin’ fast, you had arranged no means of timing her. That so?”

The Elder admitted the truth of this suggestion.

“Then let us hear about yesterday’s happening,” said Judge Little.

“I told the constable to come up by my place and we’d time her. I knew what time she us’ally gets along,” said the Elder.

“You set a trap for the young lady?” queried Judge Little, and there was a low angry murmur all over the room. The old Elder shook his mane back and held up his head. His eyes glowed.

The old Elder, towering like a figure of wrath, scowled at Janice

The old Elder, towering like a figure of wrath, scowled at Janice.

“I had a right to do so,” he declared. “She was breakin’ the law. She’s made that devil wagon she[173] drives a nuisance on our roads. Me and the constable waited for her, and we timed her by our watches. At the rate she was going when she passed us, she was goin’ nigh fifty miles an hour! She was goin’ as fast as the cannon-ball express on the V. C.! Any other wagon on the road would have been in danger——”

“Were there any other wagons in sight, Elder?” asked the justice.

“No, sir. Didn’t happen to be just then.”

“It was a lonely piece of road?”

“But she kept right on at that pace. They tell me she came down into High Street at a turrible speed.”

The justice nodded, and called up the constable. The latter corroborated the testimony of the Elder. He showed no animosity against Janice, however; although under other conditions he might have done so. He was a man of much policy, and he saw that the courtroom was filled with people friendly to the accused.

As the constable mumbled his observations, Dr. Poole came into the room. But he stood at the back and nobody noticed him. The justice said, looking at Uncle Jason and Janice:

“This seems to be a serious matter, I am sorry to say, Mr. Day. The case is aggravated because of the fact that the young lady did not stop the car when she was ordered to do so by the constable.[174] Of course, we have to do with only this single case of speeding; the other occasions mentioned have no influence upon my mind. It is always the duty of the Court to stick to the proven facts.

“Now, does the young lady wish to speak in her own behalf? Does she wish to tell her side of the story? Does she deny any of the accusation—the evidence regarding yesterday’s happening, I mean?”

Before Uncle Jason got his mouth open to speak, Janice rose quickly, and said in a shaking voice:

“No, sir. What Elder Concannon and the constable have said is true. About yesterday, I mean. I was going fast, and I did refuse to stop.”

She sat down. The justice shook his head with gravity and pursed his lips. “It’s a very serious matter, young lady,” he said. “I wish that I might find some excuse for your action. It seems a particularly flagrant one because of your refusing to obey the command of our constable to stop. You know, we are a law-abiding people, and we appoint peace officers for the purpose of admonishing those who overstep the bounds of the law, rather than to punish law-breakers.

“In this event it seems that you aggravated the case by refusing to obey the constable. You offer no excuse for your action——”

“May I speak, Squire?” said Dr. Poole, suddenly, and came forward.

[175]“Why—yes—certainly,” said the Justice of the Peace. “Always glad to hear you, Doctor. Is what you have to say pertinent to the case before the Court?”

“Very much so,” the physician said bruskly.

“You are a witness for the defense?”

“I most certainly am. From what I hear I believe this girl,” and he laid his hand upon Janice’s shoulder, “has not made out a very good case for herself.”

“She has made no defense, Doctor,” said the Squire. “She admits the facts as put forward in the evidence of the reputable witnesses against her.”

“And claimed no extenuating circumstances, eh?” ejaculated Dr. Poole. “I can understand that she’d do that. She’s that sort of a girl, I guess. She’s not one to beg off. Ha! What did she tell you made her drive so fast yesterday, and refuse to stop on the road when she was told to?”

“Why, Doctor, she has made no excuses,” said Judge Little, rather severely. “She was given an opportunity to tell her story, and merely admitted the truth of the accusation.”

“Truth? Half-truths, more likely,” growled the doctor. “I reckon she didn’t tell you that she was driving home from school and came to a house where there was a baby sick unto death and nobody with sense enough to do anything for it? She[176] didn’t tell you that she made the child’s sister jump into her car with him, and how she was driving the sick baby to my office to save its life when these two old grouches,” and the wrathful physician glared at the Elder and the constable, “tried to stop her? She didn’t tell you that, did she?

“If she’d stopped, the baby might have died in the car. They got him to my office just in time for me to save him. Suppose they had stopped while Janice tried to explain to these opinionated old men what she was doing? The death of the baby would have been at their door! They ought to feel grateful that she didn’t obey them!”

The murmur that went through the room brought a sudden flush of tears to Janice Day’s hazel eyes. It was like a subdued cheer. Uncle Jason put his arm around her—and right in public, too! Uncle Jason was not given to open expression of his affections.

Dr. Poole prepared to go. His testimony was not under oath, nor had anybody been sworn before the justice, whose administration of the law was very informal, indeed.

“Lemme tell you,” said the physician, as he started for the door, “I drive all over this county, and I meet a good many of these motor-cars; if their drivers were all as careful as this girl, we’d have few accidents on the road caused by motors. Excuse me, Judge. I’ve got to hurry to a case.”

[177]“I thank you for coming and testifying, Doctor,” said Judge Little warmly. Then he turned toward the place where Elder Concannon had stood. The old gentleman, however, had reached the street before Dr. Poole. The constable stood alone to bear the brunt of any displeasure that might be due.

But Judge Little was a fair-minded man. He merely shook his head at the officer of the law. “We seldom know all the ins and outs of a case,” he murmured. “You were perfectly right, constable; the law was broken. But under the circumstances I think I shall allow the defendant to go under suspended sentence.” He smiled gravely at Janice. “I hope, my dear young lady, that you will not allow the remembrance of this experience to keep you from doing any similar act of helpfulness that may come in your way. Your standing with this Court is favorable.”



The next time that Janice chanced to stop before the squatters’ cabin in the woods, her welcome was very different from what it had ever been before. Dr. Poole had been calling regularly to see the baby; he had somehow overcome “Pappy’s” objection to medical attendance for the poor little mite. And he had sung Janice’s praises and told how she had been arrested for taking Buddy to town in her car.

Black-haired Virginia was quite heated over the matter. “I’d ha’ done gone t’ town an’ told ’em what you done for Buddy, if I’d knowed about it,” she declared to Janice. “That old Concannon man is the meanes’ ol’ critter! He owns this yere house, he does. I’d like to go an’ set fire to his barns an’ burn ’em all up.”

“Oh, Virginia! don’t say such dreadful things!” begged Janice. “Think how the poor animals in the barns would suffer if they burned.”

“I’d take the hawses an’ cows out fust,” observed Virginia; “but I’d jest like t’ see the fire a-lickin’ up his barns.”

[179]Janice had won a victory with Virginia. Their leader’s prompt acceptance of the character of “Turncoat” amazed the rest of the Trimmins tribe. Tom, the red-haired boy, would not believe that his chief aid and abettor in all mischief had proclaimed a truce with Janice and her motor-car.

But he very soon discovered that his sister’s present intentions were not to be trifled with or ignored. Just before Janice appeared before the cabin one day Virginia caught the red-haired little scamp scattering broken bottles in the roadway. She went for him like a cyclone, and when the car did arrive the two were rolling about on the muddy ground, Tom striking out masterfully with his fists, while his sister had her hands clenched in his hair, by the aid of which grip she was battering his head into the soft earth.

“Dear me! Don’t! I beg of you, stop!” gasped Janice. “Oh, Virginia! you might hurt him.” For Jinny had gotten on top of the red-haired one and held him face downward in the mire.

“You kin bet I’ll hurt him,” she said, giving the red-head lad a vicious wrench.

“Do let him up,” begged Janice.

“I’ll let him up when he promises to pick up ev’ry mite o’ glass he’s flung in the road yonder. He wants t’ hear your tire go bust! I’ll bust him!” declared Virginia, and began to maul the unfortunate Tom again.

[180]But Janice leaped out and pulled her champion off the prostrate boy. “Do let him get up. I’m sorry Tom doesn’t like me; but your pounding him like this, Virginia, won’t make him fond of me; that’s sure!”

“He ain’t got no call to be fond o’ ye,” snarled the black-haired girl. “But he’s goin’ t’ let you alone or I’ll give him wuss than he got now.”

“You wouldn’t ha’ done nothin’ t’ me if I’d been watchin’ out,” sniveled Master Tom. “Ye jumped on me, that’s what ye did.”

“And I’ll jump on ye ag’in if ye don’t pick up that glass, ev’ry mite of it!” threatened his sister.

“Wal, ain’t I goin’ to?” he growled, and commenced to remove the broken bottles from the way. Janice thanked him when he had finished; but he only hung his head and slouched away.

With Virginia and the mother, however, Janice had made herself welcome. The unkempt and shiftless mother of this big brood of “Trimminses” loved them and did her best for them; at least, while they were little. At a certain age they really had to get out and do for themselves.

Most of the older boys disappeared, one at a time, from the cabin and did not come back. The family heard of the wanderers occasionally. When they were in funds they sometimes sent a little money home to their mother; but they were not of[181] the breed that gets ahead and is saving. How could they be?

Some of the older girls had had a little schooling; but it was a long way to Polktown and the district school was almost as far in the opposite direction. Two of Virginia’s older sisters were out at service; the family spoke of it in whispers as a misfortune and disgrace. Mrs. Trimmins told Janice:

“There’s a lady over yonder likes our Phoebe Ann so much she ’vited her t’ come an’ stop awhile. ’Course Phoebe Ann helps the lady; she couldn’t do no less when the lady’s so kind t’ her. An’ ’Mandy, she’s stoppin’ with Mrs. Jedge Wright in Middletown. There’s another gal there, an’ they hev right good times goin’ t’ pitcher shows, an’ dances, an’ sech. Makes it nice fo’ ’Mandy, fo’ she’s of a right lively disposition.”

“’Mandy and Phoebe Ann might bring us young’uns home some of the good times they’re havin’,” Virginia confessed to Janice. “Bet if I ever git my paws on any money I’ll git maw a new gownd an’ dress the baby up fine. Pappy kyan’t more’n airn enough to feed us.”

“Pappy,” Janice seldom, if ever, saw. He was a long, lean, slow-moving man, and whether Mrs. Scattergood’s opinion of his laziness was a just one or not, he was seldom loafing about the cabin when Janice stopped there.

[182]The girl was satisfied for the time being regarding the Trimminses, for she had established an unbreakable alliance with Virginia, and the mother endured her for the baby’s sake. Virginia allowed herself to be brought to the meeting of the Girls’ Guild. After she had been there under Janice’s protection two or three times, she was willing to bring her two sisters, Mayrie and Elsie. Virginia dominated them just as she did the younger fry of the Trimmins household; they had to do whatever the black-haired sister said.

The winter so far had been an open one. The snow held off, to the amazement of “the oldest inhabitant”; but it was very cold and Janice found the run back and forth to the seminary so trying that she did not always come home the long way by the Trimmins cabin. Besides, Elder Concannon never had a word for her now, only a scowl and a black look when she passed him. The whole town had talked about his complaint against Janice, and had not talked in his favor.

Indeed, Janice found herself quite a heroine after the hearing before the Justice of the Peace; and the way people spoke to her about it made her feel very uncomfortable. They seemed to think that she had done some wonderful thing in getting the Trimmins’ baby to Dr. Poole’s in time to save the poor little fellow’s life. She felt that anybody in her place would have done the same, of course!

[183]She did not realize that her desire to “do something” had brought her into the position where she could help the unfortunate baby. Daddy’s advice to her bore fruit most unexpectedly. She had become his “do something girl” in very truth.

“Oh, if only I could do something for Daddy,” Janice said to herself. Another letter had come from Mexico, and matters down there were no better. She had written, asking her father if it wouldn’t be best for him to come home and he had replied that it was his duty to stick to his post. The Mexican authorities were getting very ugly, and the guards at the mine had been increased. But Broxton Day wrote that she must not worry. As if she could help it!

“I’d go down there myself, if it would do any good,” Janice confided to Marty.

“Huh! you stay right here,” said her cousin. “They don’t want no girl-folks down there, I bet you!”

“I know, Marty! But, oh! if something should happen to Daddy!” and Janice’s face showed her deep anxiety.

In those early days of winter her time was so fully occupied that it did not seem to Janice as though she had a waking minute to herself. But she found time for frequent visits to Hopewell Drugg and Miss ’Rill. Little Lottie was often her companion in the car after school hours and on[184] Saturdays. The child was increasing in knowledge very rapidly, for Miss ’Rill took great pains with her improvement.

Lottie was a very observant child and it was not long before she made a discovery. Before she had gone away to be treated for her blindness and other deficiencies, Nelson Haley was one of her greatest friends. Now Lottie discovered that Nelson did not appear when Janice was at the store. Even if he was at his boarding house across the street, he did not come over to the store until Janice had gone away.

“What’s the matter with Mr. Haley?” she asked Janice, point-blank.

“I guess there is nothing the matter, my dear,” said the older girl. “I haven’t heard that there was.”

“But he used to be here so much,” declared Lottie, “and now he’s never here when you come.”

“I expect he’s too busy with his school to bother with girls,” laughed Janice.

“But he didn’t used to be,” said the child, very thoughtfully. “If you came to see me he was almost sure to come, too.”

“And doesn’t he come to see you now?” asked Janice quietly.

“Oh, yes! And he’s awfully nice to me. But he never comes when you’re here. Say, Janice! are you mad at him?”

[185]“Not at all, my dear.”

“Then he must be mad at you,” declared the little girl, with confidence. “What for, do you suppose, Janice?”

But Janice could not satisfy her childish curiosity. Indeed, she did not see how she could talk about the differences between Nelson and herself to little Lottie.

“I tell you what,” Lottie said, with decision, “I’m going to ask him.”

“Oh! I wouldn’t, my dear!” gasped Janice.

“Why not? Don’t you want to be friends with Mr. Haley?”

“Yes, of course,” admitted the older girl.

“Then we’ll ask him what he’s got a mad on for,” decided the child briskly.

Janice would not go over to Mrs. Beasely’s with her and make the inquiry on the spot, and Lottie thought that strange.

“Perhaps sometime we may,” was all the satisfaction the little one gained from Janice. But when she had gone away Lottie proceeded to put her suggestion into execution. She went over to see Nelson in his study.

“Hullo, Lottie Drugg!” cried the school teacher jovially. “Are you ready to take up algebra and the higher mathematics yet? You know, I’m going to be your schoolmaster when Miss ’Rill graduates you.”

[186]“I can say the multiplication table pretty good,” Lottie confessed. “Guess that isn’t very far along the way to higher math’matics, is it?”

“Not very, I am afraid. But it’s a beginning,” Nelson assured her gravely.

Lottie was standing directly in front of his desk now, and fixed him seriously with her blue-eyed gaze.

“Say, Mr. Haley!” she exclaimed, “have you got a mad on at Janice?”

“‘A mad on’? And at Janice?” he murmured, rather begging the question. She had taken him by surprise, and Nelson Haley blushed.

“You don’t ever come to the store when she’s there no more,” declared the child, shaking her head. “You used to take her to walk and I used to go with you; don’t you ’member? I used to hold your hands and walk between you, ’cause I couldn’t see; you ’member? And we used to go down to try if my echo was there. And you and Janice used to talk a lot.”

“So we did—so we did,” agreed Nelson, in a low voice, looking away from her.

“Then why don’t we go to walk any more?” pleaded the child. “Can’t you come to see me when Janice is there?”

“Sometime—sometime I’ll come,” said Nelson uncomfortably. “You know I’m dreadfully busy.”

“That’s what she says. Janice says you are[187] drefful busy. But you can come to see me when she isn’t there. Why can’t we all be friends again? You ain’t got a mad on at her, have you?”

“God forbid!” exclaimed the young man, with sudden warmth.

“Then has she got a mad on at you?” demanded Lottie.

“Perhaps. I don’t know. I can’t talk about it, my dear,” Nelson said hastily. “I guess Janice doesn’t care to have me about very much now. She’s always got Mr. Bowman with her, hasn’t she?”

“Yes, he does come a lot,” agreed Lottie. “He’s a real nice young man, I think. But he isn’t like you, Mr. Haley; and I guess Janice misses you jus’ as I do.”

“No. You’re wrong there, my dear, I feel sure,” said Nelson hastily. “She doesn’t miss me. But I’ll come and see you whenever I can, Lottie.”

It was never, however, while Janice was at the store. Nelson saw to that. And every time he observed Janice with Frank Bowman the insinuations of the latter’s sister rose in Haley’s mind. The teacher had never made friends to any degree with the young civil engineer; but he remained in close association with Annette. He seemed, indeed, to be more frequently her companion than was her own brother.

On the Sunday evening following little Lottie’s attempt to bring her two friends together again,[188] Haley and Annette drifted into the back of the vestry of the church and sat through the prayer and conference meeting. There was really nowhere else to go on Sunday evenings, or Annette could not have been coaxed into the church. Polktown frowned severely on anything like social gatherings on the Sabbath Day.

Toward the end of the service two or three boys, among them Marty, came in brushing the snowflakes off their shoulders and caps. Ma’am Parraday had a huge green umbrella that she insisted upon holding over Annette’s hat after service. The snow was coming then thick and fast. But when Miss Bowman saw Nelson beside Janice in the doorway and starting to speak to her in a low voice, she made a point of calling her cavalier back to her side.

“There’s plenty of room for three of us under Ma Parraday’s umbrella, Mr. Haley,” Annette called, with a laugh. “Come on, now! we must hasten home.”

Haley shrugged his shoulders impatiently. But he opened Janice’s umbrella and thrust it into the younger girl’s hand. Of course, as he had come with Annette, he must see her home, such being the unwritten law of the community.

Janice started off rather blindly through the snow, holding the umbrella low to hide her smarting eyes. It seemed as though every time she and Nelson[189] had a chance to come to an understanding, Annette Bowman or Frank came between them. She had no suspicion of the little scene between the school teacher and the engineer’s sister when they arrived at the Lake View Inn and were warming themselves before the open fire in the parlor.

“Annette, you are a terribly ‘bossy’ girl,” grumbled Nelson. “Nothing suits you but having folks go your way all the time. You didn’t need me to come home with you. You had Mrs. Parraday.”

“And you wanted to go with that Janice Day,” said Annette, with a hard laugh.

“Well, what if I did? She and I were very good friends long before you came to Polktown. I’ve been spending a lot of my time with you.”

“Just as though you didn’t want to! You’re awfully polite—I don’t think!”

“Now, don’t get on your high horse,” said Nelson coolly. “You know you don’t care a fig for my company. You just like to have a whole lot of fellows hanging around. That’s what made trouble for you with Jim Brainard.”

“You just stop!” commanded Annette, flushing hotly. “You’ve no right to criticize my conduct, as he did.”

“No, thank heaven!” rejoined Nelson Haley, with more emphasis than courtesy. “But don’t you see, Annette, that your foolish way of acting with[190] other fellows is what has made trouble for you? I’d like to see you——”

“You just mind your own business, Nelson Haley!” snapped Annette. “I don’t care! I don’t care what folks think of me, or what they say!” and she burst into a torrent of tears and rushed from the room.

“Humph!” muttered the teacher, as he left for his boarding place. “Guess I’m always putting my foot in it. And it does seem as though whenever I start to try and make it up with Janice, either Annette or her brother interferes. Confound it!” and he shrugged down into the collar of his coat and plodded on through the gathering storm.



Annette Bowman had kept up her association with the Slater girls. Judge Slater’s place was fully ten miles from Polktown and on a road that branched south into the valley from the Lower Middletown pike. Annette went over to see the Slater girls at least once a week, or they came to visit her at the Lake View Inn.

Like Annette, the Judge’s daughters had been of the ultra-fashionable set that attended the private school in which the civil engineer’s sister was supposedly “finished.” Frank confessedly did not like them. He told Janice that they were “cacklers,” and that “they didn’t have an ounce of sense in their heads.”

The civil engineer liked girls who were of a practical turn of mind. He was jolly enough, and was good company; but of small talk he had little. He took life rather earnestly, did this young engineer, and he had an object to aim for, which, although he did not confide in Janice, she strongly suspected.

[192]Frank had nothing to do with the barn dance that was arranged to take place at Judge Slater’s soon after the first heavy snow had fallen. The roads quickly became well packed, as they do in the Green Mountains, and sleighing promised to last until the February thaw. Annette was the prime mover in the barn dance, but Judge Slater and his wife saw to it that the invitations to Polktown people were quite general. The Judge was looking for an election to the State Legislature, and he ran no risk of offending anybody.

The Slater barn had an enormous floor, and the planks were in very good condition. There had been so much interest in dancing that fall in Polktown, that a big crowd made preparations to attend. Everything on runners owned in and about the village was requisitioned long before the evening named in the invitation.

Annette herself had gone over to Judge Slater’s the day before. “You’ll surely come, Frank, now, won’t you?” she said to her brother. “You know, dancing men will be awfully scarce. These ‘hicks’ are just about as graceful as cows on a dancing floor,” and she laughed carelessly.

“My goodness, Annette, but you are a hypocrite!” growled her brother. “You make me sick. Butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth when you’re talking to these people, while behind their backs you only make fun of them.”

[193]“Well, what they don’t know won’t hurt them, will it?” she demanded. “Goodness! I have to let myself go once in a while, or I would burst! They are regular barbarians——”

“You don’t have to live among them,” interrupted Frank sternly.

“Neither do you,” snapped his sister.

“I have to be on the job. There’s not much doing on the construction work now, I know; but I’ve got to watch it. I tell you frankly, Annette, I’d feel better if you took a trip to New York and stayed there. You’ll do or say something yet that will get you in bad with the whole town.”

“‘Bah! bah! black sheep! have you any wool’?” laughed Annette. “But if you have, you can’t pull it over my eyes. You want me away so you can run around with that Day girl——”

“Now stop, Annette!” exclaimed her brother angrily. “You don’t know Janice, and you have taken a dislike to her and so are determined not to know her. I don’t run around after her. I like her. She is a good, jolly girl; but there’s no foolishness between us, and you know it!”

As she saw that he had become seriously angry, Annette began to make her peace and smooth over the trouble.

“You’ll come over to the barn dance, anyway, won’t you, dear?” she concluded. “It will be a failure without you.”

[194]“I don’t suppose there’s a rig to be got for love or money,” Frank objected. “About everybody’s going.”

“Oh! you can find somebody that will let you squeeze in.”

“Have the Days been invited?” quickly inquired Frank.

“I’m sure I don’t know,” snapped his sister impatiently. “Goodness! that big, fat woman would be a sight on the floor—you know it. She dresses like an Italian sunset.”

“They’ve got a span of good horses,” said Frank firmly, “and a roomy double-seated sleigh. If they are invited they might ask me to go with them,” said the foxy engineer.

For Marty had expressed a desire to go to the dance, and said that his mother was fairly crazy to attend; but that no invitation from the Slaters had come to the Day house. Annette saw when she was beaten, and the very next day the belated invitation arrived for “Mr. Jason Day and family.”

Of course, Uncle Jason would not attend. Somebody had to stay at home and take care of the stock, and keep the fires up in the kitchen and sitting-room stoves. For the thermometer was below zero and wood fires have to be frequently tended. But Aunt ’Mira declared she was going if she had to walk!

“Well, yeou’d manage ter keep up a gentle perspiration,[195] I reckon, if you walked clean from here to Slater’s, Almiry,” drawled Uncle Jason. “And I see by that book on physical culture ye got upstairs thet the doctors advise that so as ter help git flesh off a body. My soul! if you cut all the capers that’s pictered out in thet there book to try an’ git off your fat, it’d tickle me more’n a case of hives ter see ye—it sartain would!”

Aunt ’Mira was not to be ridiculed out of her attempts to get the best of her too fleshy figure. She studied the physical culture book as faithfully as she did the fashion magazines. One day, the family sitting downstairs, felt the whole house jar as though the foundations had suddenly settled. Uncle Jason and Marty stared at each other.

“Never heard a tree burst in the forest so early in the winter in my life before, I vum!” declared Uncle Jason.

“That warn’t no tree bustin’,” returned his son. “It must be blastin’ up to the marble quarries. An’ it was some blast, at that!”

“Why, Marty,” said his father, “they don’t work in the marble quarries in the winter. You know that well enough, son—I snum! there it is again!”

The house rocked—it continued to rock. The floor above shook. A dish rattled down from the dresser shelf and was broken on the floor. Janice jumped up with an exclamation and whisked upstairs. The two men followed her.

[196]Mrs. Day’s chamber door had jarred open. The bed and other furniture had been moved back and there the unhappy lady was rolling on the floor, puffing and blowing, red of face and perspiring, but determined to follow the directions in her book for attaining “a sylph-like form.”

“What in all tarnation be yeou wallerin’ there for?” demanded Mr. Day. “Fust yeou know, Almiry, ye’ll hev the poller ornymints down off’n the what-not.”

At any rate, Aunt ’Mira was going to the dance. Marty wanted to go, too; and as he still worshiped at the shrine of Mr. Bowman, he asked if that young man could not occupy the fourth seat.

“But how do you suppose Mr. Haley will get over?” Janice asked doubtfully.

“Shucks!” said her cousin. “Teacher’ll have a dozen chances to go; but Frank Bowman was sayin’ to me yesterday that he didn’t suppose he’d be able to hire a horse and sleigh anywhere in town.”

So Frank was invited—as he expected to be. Nelson Haley went with Walky Dexter in his big pung, that seated a dozen people. Hopewell Drugg and Miss ’Rill, with little Lottie, crowded into a one-horse sleigh and went off to the dance to the tune of “Jingle Bells” in very truth. It had been many and many a long year since the little old maid and the storekeeper had been to any social[197] affair together. Of course, Mrs. Scattergood had her comment to make:

“I sh’d think you was makin’ enough of a fule of yourself, Amarilla, by marryin’ that Drugg, an’ him a widderer with an unfortinit child, without your flirtin’ abeout the country with him to dances, and sech. And you air dressed scanderlous, too!”

Janice had picked out the dress Miss ’Rill wore—and she saw to it that it was a pretty one. With her cheeks pink with excitement, her hair fluffed up prettily, and the soft, lacy gown clinging to her arms and neck, ’Rill Scattergood was far more attractive than many younger women at the ball.

When the Slaters did anything in this line, they did it well. The Judge, who was a politician, as has been pointed out, could not afford to skimp anything. There was supper for an army—and an army came!

The crowd around the dancing floor—some even climbing into the haymows—had come to see as well as to participate in the dancing. More than the ladies and young people of Polktown had taken up the dance craze. And those who were ashamed to try the steps, or who did not know how, were eager to observe the gyrations of the others.

Bogarti was present—was a sort of Master of Ceremonies, in fact. The simpler dances, played by the orchestra in one end of the haymow, were for the guests in general. But when the measures[198] rang out to which the tango, fox-trot, and such complicated steps were danced, the dancing master and his most successful pupils were about all who ventured on the floor.

Annette, the Slater girls, Maggie Price, and a few other young women, with Frank Bowman and some young men who had come out from the city for the occasion, exhibited the fancy dances. This was all very well, as far as it went. But once when Frank was out of the barn, Bogarti seized Miss Bowman, and they danced in a way to utterly scandalize many of the plainer people present.

The girl seemed utterly reckless on this night. She did not care what she did, or what she said. Knowing the temper of his constituents, the Judge sent his wife to speak to the girl and advise her to deport herself in a quieter manner. Annette’s actions really sent some of the stricter people home from the dance early.

Janice was sorry for Frank. At first he did not understand why the people were whispering together, and staring at Annette. He knew she was acting pretty recklessly; but he had not seen her fancy dancing with Bogarti. When Mrs. Slater, her face very much flushed and her eyes hard and angry, came to him and asked him to take his sister home, the blow to the young man’s pride was a severe one, indeed.

“I am sorry to seem harsh, Mr. Bowman,” said[199] the Judge’s wife; “but I have my own daughters’ reputation to think of. Annette is utterly reckless. The exhibition she made of herself just now on this floor, in the arms of that silky, oiled foreigner——”

“What foreigner?” demanded Frank.


“Oh—that chap!” Frank would have laughed had not the Judge’s wife been so serious. “His real name’s O’Brien, and Annette and I have known him since we were kids. O’Brien isn’t a bad sort, and he’s the husband of our old nurse. That hair and mustache of his are dyed.”

“But people don’t know it,” said Mrs. Slater. “She has disgraced herself and you. I could not countenance such a thing. The Judge could not countenance such a thing. It would be as much as his nomination is worth. You must take her away, Mr. Bowman. I am very sorry to ask you to go.”

Frank was chagrined and very, very angry. He blamed the Slaters more than he did his sister. He came to Janice with the trouble even before he sought out Annette.

“Can we get away? Could she be squeezed into that pung of yours? The seats are quite wide——”

“Of course, Mr. Bowman,” Janice murmured. “I will get Auntie and Marty. We will be glad to go home at once. Don’t tell your sister anything about what has been said, Mr. Bowman. Just make[200] up some reason for your wanting her to go home with you to-night.”

“By George! you’re a good one, Janice Day,” declared the civil engineer. “And if Annette had any sense at all she’d be grateful to you the longest day she lives. But, of course, she won’t. I don’t know what possesses her—has possessed her, in fact, since she came out of that fancy school she attended. I wish to goodness,” concluded the worried young man, “that she’d sow her wild oats and get over it. No boy could ever be as much trouble and worriment as she is. I vow, if she were a few years younger I’d—I’d spank her!”



That form of chastisement might have had a salutary effect upon Annette Bowman. Certainly, as it was, she behaved no better on the way to Polktown than she had at Judge Slater’s dance.

In the first place, she objected audibly to being crowded in between Mrs. Day and Janice on the back seat on the sleigh. “It does seem to me, Frank, that you might have obtained transportation for us in some other vehicle,” she said aloud. “And why you should need me in Polktown, just because you might be called away to-morrow, I fail to see. I think you might have some feeling for me, Frank. You are just as selfish as you can be.”

“Now, young lady, don’t you be a-fussin’ and a-fumin’,” said Aunt ’Mira comfortably. “The closer we air packed in here, the warmer we will be goin’ home. Jest you snuggle right down and keep out o’ the wind. Wind’s on my side, anyway; and I be sech an elephant that both o’ you gals kin be sheltered.”

Aunt ’Mira began to chuckle. “I don’t keer,[202] Janice, I did dance two of them funny dances. Miz’ Cora Pease an’ I done ’em together, and I bet we looked like two circus elephants a-waltzin’. But ’twas fun—I ain’t done the like at a public dance since Jason and I was courtin’.

“Goodness me! That was a long spell ago, warn’t it? But we ain’t got no business to be old before our time. I gotter wake Jason up—I sartainly have!”

“I’d like to see you git Dad out to a dance,” remarked Marty. “That would foretell the Crack o’ Doom!”

“Don’t you keer,” said his mother cheerfully. “Ye’ll likely see a hull lot o’ surprisin’ things b’fore you die, Marty. And if you see your father and your mother a-growin’ younger, instead of older, you’d ought to be glad of that.”

“Crackey!” exclaimed Marty, “if that happens where’ll I be? Pretty soon I’ll be back inter pinafores. Good-night!”

Janice laughed and said: “And I’ll be curling him’s pretty hair and dressing him for Sunday School. I always did wish I had a baby brother, and you’ll do very well, Marty. Hurry up and grow backward, dear. I want to see how cunning you’d be in pinafores.”

“Huh!” snorted Marty. “Don’t you think you’re smart?”

Annette entered into none of this simple fun,[203] whereas her brother was soon the life of the homegoing party. He did not wish his sister to suspect that he had anything to trouble him, and he succeeded very well.

Annette took all of the seat she conveniently could, ramming her elbows on either side into her companions. Aunt ’Mira was too “cushiony” to mind this; but Janice was made very uncomfortable physically as well as mentally by the selfishness of the older girl.

Everybody was glad when the sorrel team struck into High Street. It was midnight and the town was asleep. They were almost the first of the revelers to return. Marty drove to the Inn, where the Bowmans disembarked. Frank thanked the Days warmly for their courtesy; but Annette stalked into the Inn without even bidding them good-night.

“I’d like to have that girl for a sister,” grunted Marty, when they turned into Hillside Avenue. “Huh!”

Janice had not found much enjoyment in the barn dance, although she was asked to dance frequently, and had been on the floor as much as was good for her. The athletic instructor at the seminary had insisted on even the day scholars attending the dancing classes twice a week in the school gymnasium, and Janice knew how to dance some of the more modern dances approved by saner people.

[204]Although Nelson Haley was at the dance he had not come near her and Janice was disappointed. She was always hoping that at some informal party like this one, she would find an opportunity to speak confidentially to the school teacher. But that occasion never seemed to present itself.

Now that snow covered the ground she could use her car no more, and she was away from home from Monday morning until Friday evening. She boarded with a widowed lady near the seminary.

Janice missed her rides in the automobile, for jogging along behind Walky Dexter’s old horses was not much fun. There was a week’s vacation at Thanksgiving, and at the very beginning of that recess the weather unaccountably changed. The thermometer rose with a bound, rain fell in torrents, and all the snow was washed off the hillsides. It cleared off warm, too—an unseasonable change that did nobody any good. Colds and other physical troubles were immediately prevalent and the local physicians had their hands full.

The roads were so well drained about Polktown that they dried immediately. Janice got out the car and ran up into the woods to see how the Trimmins family were getting on. Dr. Poole was still in attendance on little Buddy and he saw to it that the other children were prevented from getting any childish ills at this time. She met the good doctor at the squatters’ cabin.

[205]“Put out your tongue and let’s feel your pulse, Janice,” he said, gruffly. “I don’t want you getting sick. I’ve got some serious cases of grippe in town and one I’m afraid will result in pneumonia. I warned that stubborn fellow; but he thought he knew more than I did. Ought to have gone to bed two days before school closed; but he said he’d wait and be sick during this vacation—and he is.”

“Whom do you mean, Doctor?” asked Janice, with sudden apprehension.

“That Nelse Haley—reckless fellow! His temperature this morning was a hundred and three, and still going up.”

“The school teacher!” cried Janice, in sudden alarm.

“Yes. Mrs. Beasely has got her hands full with him. He’s not an easy patient to nurse. Won’t obey orders,” said the doctor, as he climbed into his gig.

This worried Janice a good deal. She stopped at the Scattergoods on her way home and asked about Nelson.

“Yeou better go in an’ try nussin’ him, Janice Day,” said the old lady, nodding her head emphatically. “I jest come from there an’ Miz’ Beasely is a-flyin’ ’round like a hen with its head cut off. She never was no hand with sick folks and she can’t manage him wuth a cent.”

Miss ’Rill followed her out to the car and whispered:[206] “I’ll let you know how he’s getting on, Janice. Of course, he isn’t as bad as mother makes out. She is always making a mountain out of a mole-hill.”

But Janice was very much worried. That evening she sent Marty over to Hopewell Drugg’s to get the latest news of the teacher’s illness, and the boy came back looking very serious indeed, for him.

“Doc Poole’s been there again this evening,” Marty reported. “They say he’s out of his head and the Doc is ’fraid it will turn into pneumonia. My goodness! it would be mighty tough if we lost Nelson Haley. He’s the best teacher we ever had in the Polktown school.”

Janice listened to the kindly comments of her uncle and aunt, but she had little to say herself. When she went to bed she added a petition for Nelson to her evening prayer; and it was a long time ere she got to sleep that night.



Early in the morning Janice went to Mrs. Beasely’s cottage. She was diffident about offering her services to the widow; but she was sure Aunt ’Mira would see nothing wrong in her doing so. She just couldn’t enter into any discussion of Nelson’s illness at home, that was all.

Not many people were astir on the side street; the front blinds of the widow’s home were closed, and that fact startled the girl. Mrs. Beasely was in her kitchen, clearing the breakfast table.

“It’s the first chance I’ve had to do ’em,” she said, referring to the dishes. “That poor boy’s an awful one ter care for. Out of his head most of the time; and when he ain’t, he’s fussin’. Dr. Poole says there’s something on his mind—his school work, like enough. Mr. Haley works awful hard. Some folks says he gads about with that Bowman gal too much; but I must say he spen’s enough time over his books. He’s the one that burns the midnight ile, if anybody does.”

“Is he better this morning?” asked Janice.

[208]“I dunno. The doctor ain’t been. He never left him till midnight and I jest caught cat-naps on the sofa in his room until daybreak. Thank goodness! Mr. Haley’s asleep now. But his room looks like the wrath o’ doom had struck it.”

“Can’t I help you?” queried Janice. “I can clear up his room and dust. I won’t make any more noise than a mouse.”

“Well—if you would,” said Mrs. Beasely, with a sigh. “And if you’d watch till he wakes up, I could git another little nap and feel fresh for the day. He ain’t to be waked for his medicine; but when he does wake you can run and tell me and I’ll give it to him.”

“I’ll do that, dear Mrs. Beasely, gladly,” said Janice. “He needn’t know that you haven’t been with him all the time. Maybe he wouldn’t like anybody else to be in his room.”

“Humph! I don’t know as it would hurt him. But it might fret him, as you say. So we’ll say nothing about it.”

The girl went rather tremblingly to the big chamber in which Nelson slept. It was easily “ridded up,” as Polktown housewives expressed it. Nelson lay quietly on his bed and at first Janice did not even look at him. She feared if she approached the bedside she might disturb the young man.

But when he groaned and turned uneasily, she came nearer. His face was so pale and wan that[209] it troubled her. The veins in his closed eyelids were startlingly blue. He had not shaved for two days and the sparce down upon his cheeks and lip made him look even more boyish than usual.

He did not awaken; but Janice saw that his pillow was rumpled and must be uncomfortable. She slipped her strong arm under his neck and lifted him a little, while with the other hand she plumped up the pillow.

Nelson groaned and muttered something. His wandering hand caught at hers as she drew it away, and clung to it for a moment.

“Janice! Janice!” he murmured.

The girl was really frightened. She stood with palpitating heart, fearful that he had recognized her. What would he think if he knew that she had come to his sick room after they had been so long estranged?

But Nelson was not conscious. He might have been dreaming of her—the thought afterward thrilled Janice; but he actually knew nothing of her presence. She finished tidying the room and then sat down by the window where a little light came through the blind, and waited.

What would Daddy say if he knew she was doing this? She tried to remember all her father had written regarding her feeling for Nelson Haley and his feeling for her. During those months when[210] circumstances had separated them, Janice had missed his companionship sorely.

Had he missed her? Was he as unhappy as she was regarding the breaking off of their friendship?

Daddy had said that one of the finest inspirations for a young man just starting out in life was the friendship of a young girl. Janice was sure that she had never done anything to harm Nelson; quite the contrary.

But Annette Bowman! Janice distrusted the civil engineer’s sister. Her influence over Nelson could not be good.

Since the barn dance at Judge Slater’s Annette had not been so popular in Polktown. The tongue of gossip wagged industriously about her. It was told that she had been requested to leave the barn dance because of her disgraceful actions. Her name was coupled with “that foreigner,” Bogarti. The very ladies who went to the dancing master for instruction sneered at Annette for having been so familiar with him.

Had Janice been a revengeful girl she could have gloated over Annette’s fall in public estimation. Not that the city girl’s pedestal had been one to envy from the beginning. She had gained no faithful friends, nor any real place in the public estimation. She had catered merely to the thoughtless and frivolous and had influenced only such people as desired to be showy and up-to-date.

[211]Annette was another kind of “do something” person. She had stirred Polktown, it was true; but Janice doubted if the girl had stirred it to any good purpose. Dress, and dancing, and social life played a very small part, after all, in the real progress of the town.

Unfortunately, Nelson Haley had been swept into the current of Annette’s influence. The fact had been publicly commented upon. Janice knew that it was very fortunate for him that he had not chanced to attend her at the barn dance and that her own brother had brought her back to town. Otherwise the tongue of scandal would surely have been busy with his name, too. Why, right now, Janice knew, there were mothers who had forbidden their girls to speak to Annette on the street, or go to houses where she was made welcome.

There was a feeling, too, throughout the town, that the person in charge of the children, delegated to instruct and lead them, should not be too frivolous. Nelson’s association with Miss Bowman might be used as a lever to oust him from the principalship of the school. Elder Concannon did not like the young man and would be glad to put him out if he could.

“And it would be a dreadful thing,” thought Janice as she sat quietly in the sick chamber, “if this third year in the Polktown school should injure Nelson’s career instead of helping him. Those people[212] at the college are watching him sharply, I am sure. He can fail just as surely this year as he could last.

“Oh, dear me! I wonder if he does really care for Annette? I don’t see how he can admire her; yet her brother loves her and overlooks her most glaring faults. I suppose there is nobody so mean that they haven’t some good traits. And Annette Bowman is pretty, accomplished, bright, and can be pleasant company. I expect she has all the airs and graces that attract young men—and she knows how to use them.

“Am I doing right—have I been doing right since last summer—to let Annette have him without a struggle? He was my friend before he was hers. For his own sake, should I have put forth more effort to win Nelson away from that girl?”

The thought made Janice blush; yet now she seriously contemplated the question, which she had refused to do before. Her natural delicacy had kept this phase of the situation at a distance. But why shouldn’t she think of it? Now that Nelson was ill, she wanted to do everything that she could for him. If he was entangled in the skein of Annette Bowman’s machinations, then he was mentally and spiritually ill and needed her assistance quite as much.

Nelson was without a single relative save his old aunt; and she was at a distance. As far as Janice[213] knew, he had few close friends, even among his college associates. She had been as close to him as anybody. Why shouldn’t she undertake to save him from Annette just as she might help save his life now that he was ill? Was her duty not the same in either case?

There was a movement from the young fellow on the bed. Janice sprang up and tiptoed to his side. Nelson suddenly started into a sitting posture and his eyes were wide open.

“You get her to come here—you get her,” he murmured, clutching at Janice’s hand.

“Yes, yes! Lie down, Nelson, do,” she said, firmly, trying to put him back upon the pillow.

“Is she coming?” he whispered, hoarsely. His poor voice did not sound at all as it used to sound.

“Yes, yes!” Janice declared. “Do lie down.”

“You tell her I’ve just got to speak to her. I’ve got to!” went on the hoarse voice, wildly.

Janice feared he would awaken Mrs. Beasely. He would not lie down.

“Yes,” she promised him. “I’ll get her to come and see you. You—you mean Annette, don’t you?”

The name did not seem to catch his ear, and he kept muttering that he “must see her.”

“She shall come, Nelson,” Janice promised again, her own voice broken. “You mean you want to see Annette?”

[214]“Annette? Yes—Annette,” he muttered. “Poor Annette—and—and——”

He allowed her to replace his head upon the pillow. His words faded into incomprehensible murmurings. His eyes closed. He seemed to breathe more easily and regularly.

Janice tiptoed away from the bed. Nelson seemed appeased and relieved when she had promised to bring Annette to his bedside. The girl experienced a pang that hurt her physically. She could feel her heart throbbing under the hand with which she attempted to still it.

There must be a serious attachment between Nelson and Annette. Otherwise, it seemed to her, he would not be worrying about the city girl when he was delirious. Janice’s experience with seriously ill people had been very limited indeed.

She sat down by the window again and waited. The doorbell rang and Mrs. Beasely was awakened. Janice heard her go heavily to the door.

“Good morning, Doctor!” the widow said, and Dr. Poole’s heavy voice replied:

“Just as bad as ever, Mrs. Beasely. How’s the patient?”

Janice whisked out of the room and went into the kitchen. There she waited until Mrs. Beasely came back for hot water with which to sterilize the doctor’s instruments.

[215]“What does he say?” asked the girl, breathlessly.

“Seems encouraged. But I ain’t,” groaned the widow. “Nobody can live long and refuse vittles like Mr. Haley does. It was the trouble with my Charles,” she continued, referring to her husband, who frequently was the subject of Mrs. Beasely’s conversation. “If he could have kep’ on eatin’ he’d ha’ been alive to-day,” with which unanswerable argument she stalked back into the sick chamber.

Janice waylaid Dr. Poole as he was going out. “Hello, Janice Day!” he exclaimed, cheerfully. “Are you on the job? Then I’m sure my patient is going to get better right away.”

“I am only helping Mrs. Beasely a little,” she said. “But I wished to ask you, Doctor, if it would hurt Mr. Haley to—to see people?”

“Not a bit! Go right in and see him—only keep quiet. Your cheerful, pretty face is better than any drug——”

“Oh! I don’t mean myself,” gasped Janice. “But he has expressed a desire to see somebody else.”

“Hah! I knew there was something on his mind. Who does he want to see?” demanded the doctor.

“A—a young lady.”

“Hah!” snorted the physician again. “I thought he had more sense! Well, who is she?”

[216]“Miss Bowman, who lives down at the Inn with her brother.”

“Hah!” and the doctor’s third snort was greater than those that had gone before. “I did think Nelse Haley had more sense. But if he wants her he might as well have her. But only for a few moments, and tell her to humor him. She can cross him as much as she wants to when he is well; but his mind must be at rest now, or I shall not answer for the consequences,” and the gruff old doctor strode away, shaking his head as he went.

And he went before Janice could finish her observations. She had wished to ask the doctor to stop in and speak to Annette himself. But, it seemed, the duty devolved upon her.

When she left Mrs. Beasely’s, having done all she could to help the troubled lady, she went straight to the Inn. She knew that Frank was away and that made her visit all the harder. At this time of year Ma’am Parraday, as the traveling salesmen called her, kept but one maid to help her—a Swedish girl so blankly ignorant that she scarcely knew enough “to lift one foot out of the way of t’other,” as the innkeeper’s wife expressed it. There was no use giving her name to this girl, for she wouldn’t have remembered it till she got to Annette’s sitting-room door; so Janice followed on behind the hulking figure and waited while the girl thundered a summons on the portal.

[217]“For the love of the land, come in!” cried Annette’s querulous voice from within. “You’ll be the death of me, Amalia. My nerves are all frazzled by your pounding on the door. What is it—towels? or a pitcher of water? Or—— My goodness! Janice Day! What do you want?”

The welcome she received did not help Janice in her errand; but perhaps it brought her more bluntly to it.

“Mr. Haley is very ill,” she said. “He is threatened with pneumonia. Dr. Poole says he seems troubled about something, and he has expressed a desire to see you.”

“To see me?” gasped Annette. “Oh! I don’t like to see sick people. I—I’m not a bit of good in a sick room.”

“But you can help make him well by calling on him for a few minutes, can’t you?” demanded Janice, sharply.

Annette caught the tone, and seemed to see something in Janice’s face that displeased her.

“I suppose you are in close attendance upon him, Miss Day?” she drawled. “Dear me! I shouldn’t think he would want anybody else.”

“I am not in attendance on him,” Janice said, sternly. “And he has not asked to see me. It is you he wants. I should think that you would have no hesitancy in going at such a time.”

“Oh, dear me!” said Annette, with one of her[218] silliest smiles. “I have my reputation to think of. To go to a young man’s boarding place—of course, he’s ill——”

“Mrs. Beasely will be there, and Mrs. Beasely is above reproach,” said Janice, wearily, and turning toward the door. “You will come?”

“Now, really, I’d like to, of course. Poor Nelson! And he wants to see me? Just fancy!”

“And she never expressed any feeling for him at all,” Janice said over and over to herself as she trudged home. “What a wicked, heartless girl!”

Nelson was not so well that evening. Janice learned that Annette had called, but had remained only a few moments and had refused to enter the sick chamber save with Mrs. Beasely. That good lady said, with a sniff:

“Poor gal! if she’s in love with him she must ha’ felt turrible bad, for of course she couldn’t tell him so with me there. She said folks had talked so mean about her that she didn’t dare give way as she’d like to an’ come right up here and help nuss him. I’m awful glad you air sech a practical, sensible gal, Janice. An’ ye air a mortal help to a body.”

Janice was curious enough to ask if Mr. Haley seemed to recognize Annette and be aware of her presence.

“Oh, yes! he cheered up right away,” declared Mrs. Beasely. “But he’s as flighty as an unbroken[219] colt again now. I guess we’ll have a time with him to-night.”

For Janice, having gained her aunt’s permission, had brought a wrapper and felt-soled slippers, determined to help watch with the patient that night. Mrs. Beasely was grateful for her help, too, before morning. Nelson was very uneasy and excitable. He seemed to have forgotten that Annette had come, and was talking all the time about her—wishing she would come, and declaring that he must speak to her.

In the morning the doctor shook his head more gravely than before. Nelson was very weak. The drugs he took seemed not to take hold upon him as they should.

“Trouble here,” said Dr. Poole, tapping his forehead. “But what it is I don’t know. That girl came to see him? Well! it didn’t seem to relieve his mind any.”

That was Thanksgiving Day; but there was little thanksgiving in two of the homes of Polktown. It was a worrisome day at the Widow Beasely’s and at the old Day house Marty declared there “warn’t no taste to nothin’, not even to the turkey, without Janice.”

That, and several days that followed, were indeed dark days for Nelson Haley. His name was mentioned in the Friday night prayer meeting at the church, and Mr. Middler spoke feelingly of the[220] young man who had given so much of himself for the benefit of the children of Polktown.

If there had been those who criticized Nelson’s association with Annette Bowman, they were shamed to silence now. The shadow of death hovered over the young schoolmaster, and the tongue of slander was stilled.



School was to have re-opened on Monday; but the trustees postponed it a week, for it was hardly possible to hold the older classes without Mr. Haley. Miss ’Rill offered her services; but she admitted that the new methods were quite beyond her and that probably many of Nelson’s older pupils knew more than she did herself.

On Sunday night, however, Nelson’s condition changed. Dr. Poole had “staved off” pneumonia, as he expressed it, and the young man began to gain. That gain was manifested on Monday morning, to Mrs. Beasely’s delight, by the patient’s consumption of a bowl of chicken broth.

“If he kin eat he’ll live,” she declared, with conviction. “That’s all he needs now—good food and plenty of it. If I’d ha’ got my Charles to see it that way an’ put forth an effort to eat, I jest know he’d got well,” and she went over to stand before the enlarged crayon portrait of her husband in the dining-room, and wipe away the tears that gushed over her faded cheeks.

[222]Old Mrs. Scattergood often said that, “Miz’ Beasely worshiped at the tomb of an idee. Charles Beasely was as mean an’ meachin’ a man as ever stepped in socks, and ’twas a marcy to Miz’ Beasely when he was taken; but you couldn’t make her believe it now to save your soul!”

“But why should you want to take the woman’s comfort from her, Ma?” queried Miss ’Rill. “It makes her more tender-hearted and sweeter, to believe that her husband was a saint.”

“Humph! like other fules I might mention, she’d ruther cling to a false idee than know the trewth,” said the birdlike old lady, shaking her head. “Some wimmen air plumb crazy abeout men. Me? humph! I wouldn’t worry my head over the best one that ever lived.”

Mrs. Scattergood could not content herself with the prospect of her daughter’s marriage. The closer the event approached the more she nagged. Her opinion of Hopewell Drugg was freely expressed throughout the length and breadth of Polktown. She had got so that she couldn’t even be nice to little Lottie, and Miss ’Rill had to make the little girl understand that she mustn’t visit around the corner on High Street any more.

That gave Lottie more time to go over to Mrs. Beasely’s and listen for news of Nelson Haley, in whose illness she was deeply interested. When she was allowed to enter the room to see him, she was[223] almost afraid of the school teacher, his face was so white and his hands so thin.

“I—I feel like I’d ought to be introduced to you again,” she stammered, coming close to the bed. “Oh! you poor, poor thing! Let me feel if you’re the same.”

For little Lottie had never got over that trick of “seeing with her fingers,” and often preferred to examine an article that way, to sense its shape, texture and colorings, rather than by visual means. Now she ran her sensitive finger-tips over Nelson’s face.

“Yes! You’re Nelson Haley,” she sighed. “But oh, my dear! you don’t look like him.”

At that Nelson gave a weak laugh, and Mrs. Beasely came hurrying in to see what was the matter.

“Goodness me! you mustn’t make him laugh, Lottie,” cried the anxious widow.

“What shall I do?” asked Lottie. “Make him cry? It don’t seem as though that would make him any better,” and Nelson laughed again, sat up in bed, and demanded more broth.

“For the land’s sake!” ejaculated Mrs. Beasely. “You’re talking like a re’l convalescent now. And this young lady,” and she tweaked Lottie’s ear, “is a-doin’ you more good than the other one.”

Nelson looked up quickly. “What other one?” he asked.

[224]“Oh my! don’t you remember of her comin’ to see ye?” asked the widow, smiling and smirking. “Oh my!”

“Do you mean——?”

“Miss Bowman,” said Mrs. Beasely. “You axed to see her, you know, and she was mighty kind to come, I should say. She sent them flowers yonder. Got ’em from Popham Landing.”

Nelson’s brow was knitted while he sipped the broth. “So I asked to see Annette?” he murmured.

“Quite wild arter her,” said the widow. “’Course, I wouldn’t say nothin’ abeout it. Young men have funny fancies, I ’xpect, when they air sick.”

“And she came up and saw me? Yes! seems to me I remember of her being in the room once. But my memory is rather hazy,” confessed the young man. “It seems to me at one time that the room was full of people—shadowy people—— Wasn’t there anyone else to see me?”

“Oh no,” said Mrs. Beasely, bridling a little, and of course not considering Janice’s practical attentions in the same class with Miss Bowman’s call. “I should hope not. I wouldn’t have allowed it.”

“Dear me!” said Nelson, whimsically, “you’d be careful of my reputation as a respectable young man, Mother Beasely, I know.”

“I most sartainly would,” declared the lady, firmly.

[225]“So Annette was the only girl who came to see me?” Nelson mused, and put away the broth. “I don’t want any more,” he said, and sank back into the pillow.

Janice did not come to help now that he was better. In fact, as the weather remained open, she ran back and forth to the seminary every day, stopping before the widow’s house night and morning to inquire after the patient. But she did not go in now that Nelson was conscious and likely to ask questions.

He heard the motor-car come to a halt and then start on again, more than once; and finally he asked the widow if it wasn’t Janice’s car.

“Sure it is. She’s just taking little Lottie out for a ride,” said the widow, having already given her bulletin of the patient’s convalescence to Janice, and now peering through the shutters of the blind.

“I suppose she comes to Hopewell’s on errands,” sighed Nelson, and said no more about it. Nor did Mrs. Beasely imagine for an instant that Nelson Haley had more than ordinary interest in Janice Day and her doings.



Nelson was well enough by the end of the week to announce that school would be opened the following Monday. The scholars would make up their missed recitations in Christmas week and at Easter. Janice had been keeping up with her studies at the seminary with difficulty during this time of stress; and she ceased appearing at the Beasely cottage as soon as the school teacher was really out of danger.

As long as snow held off, Janice was determined to sleep at home and run back and forth in her automobile; but she went for her luncheon to her boarding place in Middletown each day.

Mrs. MacKay was a cheerful, bustling Scotchwoman whose life and interests were entirely centered in her big son, Archie. She had educated Archie by sewing and washing and other domestic labors for Middletown people; and although the MacKays had occupied a humble place in the past, Archie’s position in the Middletown Bank and his own friendly, accommodating nature, were fast putting the devoted couple on a higher social plane.

[227]Archie never went anywhere save to work without his mother; they went to church together and came home together; he never seemed to have eyes for any woman but her, and she was so proud of Archie that she could talk of little else.

But Janice found the couple less cheerful after the Thanksgiving recess than they had formerly been. Archie seemed distraught at the luncheon table, and when he had gone she caught Mrs. MacKay crying softly.

“My dear!” the girl said. “What ever is the matter?”

“Oh, I can’t tell you, Miss Janice,” said the Scotchwoman. “It’s trouble at the bank, and I’ve no right to speak about it.”

“Goodness! Archie is surely not in any difficulty?”

“Thank God, no! ’Tis not him. But ’tis one that’s helped him and been kind tae him. Got him the place there, indeed.”

Now Janice knew this to be Mr. Crompton, the vice-president of the Middletown Trust Company. Mr. Crompton was said to be a man with expensive tastes and an expensive family in the bargain. She had heard, more than once, remarks made about the extravagance of the Cromptons. But only lately had Mr. Crompton been of much importance in the bank.

The president and his family were in Europe;[228] Mr. Crompton had succeeded to more power and now what Mrs. MacKay said led Janice to fear that the vice-president had misused this power.

“Archie says the expert accountants are coming into the bank to-morrow. He will be questioned. He has been forced to make some entries in his books that he believes he should not have made. He can explain; but the facts may hurt my Archie if he is obliged to look for another position. And we were getting on so well! Ah, me!”

Janice did not give the matter much attention at the time, although she sympathized with Mrs. MacKay. The widow knew well enough that she could trust Janice to say nothing regarding the expected trouble in the bank. The girl’s own money was in the keeping of the Merchants & Farmers National, and she had no reason to worry about it.

Indeed, it never entered Janice’s mind that the trouble at the trust company was likely to bother the depositors, and that some of those depositors might be her friends and acquaintances, until the next evening at supper time. Uncle Jason chanced to remark:

“Wal, them that has got it already, has it handed to ’em on silver salvers, by jinks! D’ye hear what that old tight-wad Concannon’s gone and done? He’s got that piece of sawmill land that belonged to the Protherick Estate—got it for sixteen thousand dollars. Paid a thousand down, and his mortgage[229] on the Steamboat Company for fifteen thousand come due last week and was paid. He’s got the fifteen thousand in the Middletown Trust—told me so himself—to pay the rest of the purchase price of the sawmill tract.

“I’ll say one thing for him,” added Uncle Jason, wagging his head in one direction and chewing solemnly in the other, “he took a risk. He ain’t no piker, the Elder hain’t. He risked his thousand dollars when he paid it down, fur he didn’t know fur sure as the Steamboat Company would take up their mortgage; and he’d had trouble gittin’ fifteen thousand on any security he could offer at this time. Banks won’t lend on timber land or farm property, ye know.”

These remarks made small impression on Janice’s mind at the moment. She was not much interested in Elder Concannon’s affairs. But sometime during the night it must have been, the two ideas combined. Mrs. MacKay’s anxiety about her Archie and the Trust Company, and the fact that Elder Concannon had fifteen thousand dollars that he needed to use at once on deposit in that same financial institution.

Janice drove around by the Lower Middletown Road that morning, which brought her past Hopewell Drugg’s, of course. Little Lottie ran out to hail her joyfully.

“Oh, Janice! come see my dress—do, do! It’s[230] so pretty. And Miss ’Rill says I’m to have flowers on it, and a wreath on my hair.” Lottie was to be one of the flower-girls at the wedding, and she, as well as Janice, was much excited by the forthcoming event.

“I can’t come in this time to see it,” Janice said. “I’ve got to hurry on to school. When I come home, perhaps.”

The Beasely door opened and Nelson Haley came out. He was not very robust-looking yet; but he spoke cheerfully, as usual.

“’Morning, Janice! Nice, brisk morning, isn’t it? Hello, Lottie Drugg! are you well to-day?”

“Good morning!” returned Janice, hastily, and started the car again.

“I’m going to walk with you, Nelson Haley!” cried Lottie, and ran to meet him.

Nelson was looking after the little touring car as it rolled swiftly down the hill, past Mr. Cross Moore’s, and out of sight. He sighed.

“What’s the matter?” demanded Lottie, abruptly, squeezing his hand.

“What’s the matter with what?” he returned, smiling down at her.

“You sighed when you looked after Janice—just so!” and the child repeated the expulsion of breath that Nelson had unconsciously made.

“Did I do that?” he said, rather wistfully.

[231]“Yes! And sometimes when she looks over there where you live she sighs—just the same.”


“Yes she does,” declared little Lottie. “She was always doing that when you were sick.”

“But she never came near me,” said Nelson, suddenly, speaking to himself more than to Lottie.

The little girl stared at him in return. “Why! what a story!” she gasped.

“What’s a story, Lottie?” he demanded, with sudden surprise that the child should look so earnestly at him.

“You said my Janice never came to see you while you were sick!”

“Well, she didn’t. She came to your father’s store, I guess; and perhaps she inquired after me——”

“Why, Mr. Haley!” interrupted Lottie, so excited that she was rude. “That’s a nawful story! She come ev’ry day to help Miz’ Beasely. And sometimes she stayed all night. Miz’ Beasely told Miss ’Rill, and I heard her, that she wouldn’t knowed what to do without Janice.”

Nelson stopped at the corner of High Street and leaned against the fence, while he stared down upon the child in amazement.

“Janice helped to nurse me?” he murmured.

“All the time you was out’n your head,” declared[232] Lottie. “You ain’t out’n your head now, are you, Mr. Haley?” for the young man’s face radiated a sudden emotion that little Lottie had never seen there before.



A young girl’s head is “full of such a number of things.” This was true, indeed, of Janice Day’s. She had her school work to think of; her home interests; the Girls’ Guild; her work on the executive committee of the Public Library Association; the membership she held in the young people’s society of the church which called for more than a little thought and attention. All these—and her secret anxiety regarding her relations with Nelson Haley.

Is it any wonder that she put no significance upon Elder Concannon’s money and the trouble at the Middletown Trust Company, until she went to luncheon that noon and found Archie’s place empty?

“Where’s Archie?” asked Janice, cheerfully, dropping into her seat at the table. Everybody called the yellow-haired young Scot by his first name.

“He’ll nae come home the day,” sighed Mrs. MacKay, dropping into the burr that was native to her tongue. “Trouble—trouble.”

[234]“Oh, dear! have the experts come?”

“They’re an th’ books now,” said the woman, shaking her head. “Belike the bank will close its dures this very nicht. Maister Crompton has been forbidden tae leave town at all, my Archie tell’t me. It’s sad times, Janice—it’s sad times.”

The girl stopped eating. The bank closed! Then Elder Concannon could not draw his money out to take up his option on the sawmill lands. The fact shot an illuminating ray through her mind. The significance of the happening struck home deeply.

“’Tis little ye air eatin’, Janice,” said the widow. “Is’t nae tae yer taste?”

“It is all right, Mrs. MacKay,” Janice hastened to assure her. But all the time that she tried to eat the food on her plate she was wondering what her duty was under the circumstances.

Janice certainly would not have gone into the town and spread abroad the rumor that the trust company might close its doors at the end of this day’s business. But the information had been given her with no promise, asked or implied, that she should not speak of the bank trouble.

Elder Concannon was likely to lose a thousand dollars, perhaps; besides, his plans for profit out of the sawmill contract would come to naught. It might be months before the troubles of the Middletown Trust Company would be settled and the[235] old gentleman be able to get hold of his money again.

Janice went back to school with her thoughts now fixed upon this subject. Was it her business to do anything to help Elder Concannon? Would it be wrong if she told him what she had learned from Mrs. MacKay about the Middletown Trust Company?

Janice did not trouble her mind about her own relations with the stern old elder. Not for a moment did she remember that he had sworn out a warrant against her for speeding and hailed her into court. She wasn’t the kind that hugged the thought of revenge.

But she hesitated because she did not know which was the right thing to do. The matter of the trouble at the bank had been imparted to her with no idea of its being repeated; yet she was not under the bonds of secrecy.

How would Elder Concannon feel if his money was tied up? And suppose it caused him to lose the thousand dollars he had already paid down upon the option?

Janice had gone into recitation ere this; but her mind was not on her work. She asked to be excused by the teacher in charge and went directly to the principal of the seminary.

“Mrs. Protherick, I wish you would excuse me at once. I have to go back to Polktown. I learned[236] something at lunch time that leads me to believe it is my duty to help somebody at home. I cannot explain just now what it is.”

“Why, Janice,” said the principal, smiling, “I have found you so far to be a most sensible and trustworthy girl. If you told me you had business in the moon I should be inclined to countenance your absence while you attended to it. Of course you may go, my dear,” and she kissed the flushed girl warmly.

Janice’s car was parked on the school grounds. She ran out to it, took the blanket off the radiator, tried the starter and the gas, found that everything seemed all right, and prepared to depart. As she wheeled out of the seminary grounds the clock in the tower struck the half hour after one.

The roads were still in good condition. The sky had threatened a storm for several days; but it was still in the clouds and the rags of mist hanging from the higher peaks of the Green Mountains. The car hummed along over the Upper Road, and Janice met few other vehicles. The people at the farmhouses she passed stared at her, as they always did. She took the direct route to the Elder’s home, for there was haste. Had the constable been timing her to-day he might have made out a very good case of speeding against her, for the trust company closed its doors at half past three o’clock!

“I wish I had told him last night—or had gone[237] back at once this noon,” thought the anxious girl. “Suppose something happens? Suppose the car breaks down?”

But she watched everything very carefully. Although she coaxed the car along at a high rate of speed, she took no chances. She did not travel at near the speed she had on the day she had taken the sick Trimmins baby to Dr. Poole’s office.

The Elder’s white-painted house and his big barns finally came into view. Janice drove right into the open gate and to the side door. The roaring of the exhaust before she shut off the engine brought the old man himself to the door—in his dressing-gown and slippers and with a book in his hand.

The moment he identified Janice he scowled, demanding:

“What do you mean, girl—coming in here with that thing? You are bold indeed to drive that chariot of Satan into my yard.”

“Wait, Mr. Concannon! do wait!” begged Janice, hastily getting out from behind the wheel. “I’ve got something to tell you.”

“To tell me?” he asked, amazed.

“Yes. Let me come in. I must talk with you.”

“I don’t know what you mean, girl,” declared he. “I want nothing to do with you. I feel——”

“Oh, wait! wait!” half sobbed Janice, so excited that her nerves were on the jump. “It’s about your money.”

[238]“My money?” repeated the Elder.

“Your money in the Middletown Trust Company. I heard uncle say you had fifteen thousand dollars there.”

“Your uncle is a busybody,” snarled the Elder. “What business is it of his or yours?”

“But you may lose it!” cried Janice, desperately.

The old man’s hand was uplifted and he was about to utter some malediction for which he might have been sorry. The girl’s earnestness, her clutch at his arm, or, possibly, the mention of the word “lose,” stayed him. He said, huskily:

“Come in.”

“You haven’t a minute to lose, Elder Concannon,” declared Janice, in conclusion, when she had told what she knew of the trust company’s affairs. “Your clock there on the mantel says it is half past two already. The bank closes in an hour. I believe—in fact I am almost sure—it will not open for business to-morrow. If you don’t reach there by half past three you may not be able to use your money.”

“I’ll be ruined! ruined!” exploded the old man.

He rose totteringly to his feet. Janice saw the change in his face and was frightened. She was afraid the Elder was going to be ill, and she was not sure that there was anybody else in the house. She had not sat down, and she sprang forward to steady him.

[239]“You can’t help me, girl,” he said. “’Tain’t that kind of help I need. If I get that money tied up I shall be ruined—ruined! I’ve got too many eggs in the one basket—and that basket just now is the Middletown Trust Company.”

“But go get it out!” cried Janice.

“I couldn’t get there in time. My horses would never get me there.”

“Isn’t my car here? I’ll get you there in an hour—in less time,” urged Janice. “That’s what I came for. I came to help you get your money. It would have been nothing to tell you about it, if I could not give you practical aid.”

“My goodness, girl! in that devil wagon?”

“I don’t think you ought to call it that,” said Janice, softly. “I carried little Buddy Trimmins to the doctor in it, and saved his life. God helped me get him there in time,” said Janice, her eyes filling with tears. “I am sure He will help me to save your money that you need.”

“Go on, girl!” said the old man, huskily. “I’ll get my coat and hat. But to get to Middletown in an hour!”

“We’ll do it in less than that if all goes right,” cried the girl, and ran out to turn the machine about.

The Elder came after her in half a minute. She noticed that in his excitement he had slipped his overcoat on over his dressing-gown and still wore the carpet slippers.



Elder Concannon jerked open the tonneau door and plunged inside. “Go on, girl!” he gasped. “Heaven forgive me! I don’t know that I am doing right. But it’s any port in a storm. If you can get me there in time——”

The rest of his speech was jerked back into his throat by the leap the Kremlin gave as Janice threw in the clutch. She bothered little with the low speed, but sent the car on, out of the yard, and along the country road at a pace that made the old man cling to the robe rail.

Fortunately there was nobody in sight at first to see him. The Elder felt that something dreadful ought to happen to him for riding in the automobile. It would be a judgment upon him if something broke!

Faster and faster flew the car. Janice, sitting well under the wheel, paid no attention to him, but was watching the road ahead as keenly as a terrier watches a rat hole.

The Elder leaned forward and shouted something[241] to her. She paid no heed, though she thought it was something about her driving. But Janice was not driving her car recklessly; she was only driving fast.

When, on coming to a cross road, they took a sharp turn, the Elder uttered a loud and prayerful ejaculation. He leaned forward again, tried to say something, but the wind of their passage choked him.

He lost his hat. His long hair and beard whipped about his austere face. His cheeks grew pink. His lips parted and his eyes brightened. There was something very exhilarating about this speedy traveling. He had not felt the same emotion since he was a young boy and had raced colts on the county road with his young and godless friends—and that had been more years before than Elder Concannon cared to remember.

A wagon came into sight. The teamster kept the middle of the road, although he was not heavily laden and he must have heard the tooting of the horn. His horses jogged right along without giving way one inch.

“Why don’t he get out of the way? Why don’t he?” the Elder suddenly found himself shouting. He had forgotten the day he had kept to the middle of the road himself with his load of hay, and held this very car back.

But Janice was not to be balked. She did not[242] slow down an atom. She knew this Upper Road to Middletown like a book now.

“My soul, girl! you ain’t going to ram that wagon, air you?” called the excited Elder, clinging with both hands to the back of the front seat, his beard almost over Janice’s shoulder.

“Hang on!” the girl advised, grimly, and suddenly turned the wheel a little. The automobile darted to one side, ran up the smooth bank, and passed the wagon on a long curve, roaring down into the plain pathway again with scarcely a jounce.

The Elder was worked up to a high pitch now. He glared back at the amazed driver of the team and yelled:


Then he instantly dropped back into the seat, and gasped: “My soul and body! what will Bill Embers think of me?” For if he had led three rousing cheers from his place in the amen corner at prayer and conference meeting, the Elder could have no more surprised himself.

The car rushed on, Janice hanging to the wheel, and without a word for her companion. They passed some of the dwellings along the way so swiftly that it is doubtful if the occupants recognized the Elder’s well-known figure in the back of the vehicle. Certainly, it was the last place they would have ever expected to see him.

The car came in sight of Si Littlefield’s barns,[243] and there they were just turning the young stock out of one yard on one side of the road into another yard on the other side. The Elder uttered a wild yell and Janice punched the siren button a couple of times.

Si’s hired man—a lout of a fellow—did not know enough to shut the gate and so keep the remainder of the herd off the road. He merely stood and gaped, while the heifers and young steers bawled, and ran up the road ahead of the automobile, tails in the air and heads down.

Si ran out of the house and came down to the road, yelling and waving a club. Janice had reduced speed and was picking her way between the frightened creatures as best she could.

“Go on! go on!” the Elder was yelling. “Drat the critters! they’ll stop us.”

“Sit down, sir, do!” begged Janice. “You’ll be out of the car.”

“Dern my hide!” bawled old Si. “I’ll have the law on ye—scarin’ my cattle. I ain’t surprised none that they arrested ye in Polktown an’ had ye up before the Jestice of the Peace, you Day gal! I’ll sue aout a warrant for ye myself—— Good Land o’ Daybreak, Elder! Be that yeou?”

“Don’t you git in my way, Si Littlefield!” cried the Elder. “If you do, it’ll be the sorriest day of your life. We’re in a hurry. I gotter get to the bank quick.”

[244]Janice, saying nothing, had worked the car through the huddle of frightened animals. They raced a calf for ten rods farther, then the roar of the exhaust sent the creature fairly into the ditch and they were free of the whole herd.

Had they looked back they would have seen Si Littlefield pulling his long beard, standing like a stock in the roadway, gazing after the wonder of Elder Concannon riding in one of those “devil wagons” that he had talked so wildly against.

“Goodness me!” the Elder groaned, after a minute, and when the car was purring along again on high speed, “whatever will I say to these people? I dunno, Janice Day, but if I save my money, it’s goin’ to cost me dear in other ways.”

“You’re going to save your money,” returned Janice, with a glance at the clock. “We’ve half an hour yet, and we’re more than half way to Middletown.”

“I hope so,” said the old gentleman, with fervor.

But his hopes fell the next moment. Something began to knock under the car. Janice, startled, shut off the spark and the flow of gas. The pace was quickly reduced. Elder Concannon leaned over the back of the seat again and snarled:

“What’s the matter with the plagued thing now?”

Janice began to giggle. She could not help it. The metamorphosis of the staid and stern old Elder within the last few minutes was too funny for anything.


“GO ON! GO ON!” THE ELDER WAS YELLING—(see page 243)

[245]“I’ll fix it, Elder. Don’t be worried,” she said, jumping out. “We’ve plenty of time.”

“‘Plenty of time,’ girl!” repeated the old gentleman. “Your clock says ten minutes after three right now!”

“Twenty minutes is ample time to reach the bank,” she mumbled, crawling under the automobile.

“Great goodness!” he groaned. “How can you say that? We’re only at Timothy Warner’s. And I declare! I believe they are all at the windows looking down here.”

“I shouldn’t wonder,” Janice returned in a muffled tone. “They usually stare at me when I come by.”

“Humph!” groaned the Elder. He didn’t like the idea of being made a spectacle of on the public road. He knew the Warners were gossips. Of course the tale of his wild ride in the automobile would be spread broadcast all over the county. And if he had come thus far only to be too late at the bank in the end!

He opened his lips to say something tart to Janice, when she backed out from under the car again. She had a smudge across her face, one of her fingers was bleeding, and her hat and coat were rumpled. It struck the Elder suddenly that this young girl,[246] who had every occasion to dislike him, was doing her very best to save him trouble and misfortune. He shut his mouth grimly and said nothing.

“We’ll try it again,” Janice said, cheerfully, and got into the car.

It started smoothly and soon they left the Warners’ house far behind. The speed increased until that strange exhilaration again seized upon the old gentleman. The faster they traveled the faster he wanted to travel. The bacilli of speed mania had got into his blood in some mysterious way.

His grim mouth relaxed. His eyes shone again and he could not keep his face straight. He felt that there was a grin widening on his hard countenance and he could not control it.

It wasn’t merely a facial grimace, either. He felt different inside! There had been a change enacted within him as the motor-car whisked him over the frozen road.

He was an austere man, having lived for years a strictly virtuous life, but without being touched much by that greatest grace, charity. He had nothing but a frown for the failings and weaknesses of humanity in general. He never made allowances for the natural desire of healthy human beings for amusement. His idea of a normal man was one who spent his spare hours in studying the prophecies of the Old Testament; who went to each service of the church, save, indeed, the young people’s[247] meeting which the Elder believed was ungodly; who sat in the amen corner and responded loudly at the proper times; who worked hard all the week; who opposed everything, political and religious, that savored of progress; and who amassed money.

He had been unable to appreciate any other attitude toward life, and he disagreed with that phrase of the Constitution that spoke of “the pursuit of happiness.”

But on this afternoon there was something novel aroused in Elder Concannon. His condition of mind was a throwback into his youth. He hadn’t thought of those horse-racing days for many and many a year. He had not relaxed his grimness since long before he had given up the pastorate of the Union Church. The gentle influence of a young wife had been lost to him so long before that it positively hurt him to think back so far. Josiah Concannon had once been a different man from the being that bore that name to-day.

He had been ashamed of that old man, whenever he thought of him. Now he was not quite sure that he was right in being ashamed of him—thus did the swift ride and the stirring of his pulse affect the old gentleman.

He leaned upon the back of Janice’s seat, clinging with both hands to it, and watched the play of expression upon her fair face. Here was youth, beauty, the joy of living, all that he had opposed,[248] had quenched in his own existence, had tried to quench in others.

She turned suddenly and gave him a most brilliant smile. “There’s the Soldiers’ Monument, Elder,” she said, “at the head of Main Street. There’s Mrs. Protherick’s School that I attend. We’ll be at the bank in two minutes—and it is only twenty-five minutes past three by the school clock.”

The old gentleman drew a long breath. He sank back in the rear seat, and his usual expression returned to his gray features like a mask.

He had been excited, the blood was still pumping rapidly in his veins, and he felt that strange stirring of life within him that he had not known for so long a time.

But he appreciated the fact that certain things were expected of Josiah Concannon. He was known in Middletown almost as well as in Polktown. He already saw pedestrians on the sidewalk staring in surprise at his upright figure in the car.

He had had “a run for his money,” in very truth. He must now enter the bank with his usual calm dignity and transact his business as though it were an ordinary occasion. It would never do to let the officials suspect that he knew the difficulties the bank was in. Business—all business again! It was not the same man who had shouted angrily at Si Littlefield, who now stepped out of the tonneau when Janice brought the car easily to the curb.

[249]Even the carpet slippers flapping about his heels could not disturb Elder Concannon’s dignity when he stalked into the bank. Perhaps it was fortunate that the teller did not get a glimpse of the old man’s feet, for the slippers advertised his nervousness and excitement if nothing else did.

“I find I must use that cash in closing my timber deal at once,” he said to the bank official, after scribbling the amount he wished to draw on a blank check.

“This quite cleans up your account, Elder,” said the teller, doubtfully.

“Yes. I’ll need it all, just as I warned you when I put it in last week,” the Elder said, without in the least betraying the emotion he felt.

The teller took the check back and showed it to a bespectacled man who, with two other strangers, were at the books. He explained in a whisper about the Elder’s deal and the man with spectacles nodded.

In a few minutes Elder Concannon came out of the bank and tossed a heavy sack into the tonneau, for he had been obliged to take some of the money in coin. Janice smiled at him radiantly.

“Is it all right?” she asked, eagerly.

“I got it,” said the Elder, grimly. “I’m sure I wouldn’t have got it to-morrow. Ye can smell trouble in that bank, and lots of folks will wake up to it when ’tis too late. But you saved me, Janice Day, and I hope you don’t think I’ll ever forget it.”



The first flakes of snow, riding on the strong westerly gale, met them as the Kremlin struck into the Upper Road coming from Middletown once more. Before Janice dropped the Elder—and his money—at his door, the snow was making a good showing in the frozen ruts and the fence corners.

When Marty helped her run the car into the garage, he said, with a grin:

“You can kiss your ortermobile good-bye for the winter now, Janice. We’re a-goin’ to git it for fair, so the paper says. We’ll have a white Christmas all right, all right.”

“And we’ll have an extra nice Christmas, I hope,” rejoined his cousin. “Guess what you’re going to get, Marty?”

“No, I won’t!” declared the boy. “I don’t want to even think of it. I know what I want, and if I sh’d guess right it’d just spoil Christmas for me. Ain’t I the big kid?”

She laughed at him, happily. “That’s all the fun of Christmas morning, I guess—not knowing what you’re going to get till the time comes. Little Lottie[251] is going to get a Christmas present that she’s been longing for—Miss ’Rill. Won’t they all be happy in the Drugg house?”

“Huh!” snorted Marty. “I dunno as I’d call gettin’ a step-mother much of a Christmas present.”

“Well, I guess,” said Janice, indignantly, “if you were a little girl like Lottie and couldn’t remember any mother at all, that you’d be just as glad as she is to get one like Miss ’Rill.”

“All right—all right,” grumbled her cousin. “You needn’t get red-headed about it.”

As rapidly as the snow was gathering they did not realize that this was more than an ordinary storm. Uncle Jason was away on a job and Marty soon went whistling down the hill with his jacket collar turned up to keep the snow from sifting into his neck. He was bound for the Reading Room for a book with which to while away the long evening.

Sunset was not yet, however, although the chickens were going to roost. Janice ran in to Aunt ’Mira, glowing in both heart and healthy body. She did not mean to say anything to anybody about the wild ride to save Elder Concannon’s money; but it was something to remember with satisfaction.

Aunt ’Mira was deep, it seemed, in the rites and mysteries of some form of heathen worship. That is what it looked like at the girl’s first amazed glance into the sitting-room. The fleshy lady had a sheet draped around her and she was bowing and posturing[252] and turning her head first over one shoulder and then the other—trying, it would seem, to look down her own spinal column.

“Dear me, Auntie! what is the matter now?” gasped Janice. “Aren’t you afraid you will hurt yourself doing that?”

“I know I’m hurting myself,” responded Aunt ’Mira, grimly, “but it’s the way to keep supple, they say. And I declare for’t! I don’t know nobody that needs sech trainin’ more’n I do.”

Janice had descried the propped-open physical culture magazine now, and understood—in part, at least.

“But why the sheet, Auntie?” she asked, as the good lady went on with her self-inflicted punishment.

“Wal,” panted Aunt ’Mira, at length obliged to sit down for breath, “I jest wanted to see how I’d look in one o’ them Grecian costumes they picter there. I’ve looked at hundreds an’ hundreds of picters of Greeks in their draperies, and I’ve failed yet to see a fat one. Janice, don’t you s’pose there never was any fat people in them ancient times?”

“I suppose there must have been—some,” admitted Janice, much amused. “But they don’t put them in pictures. Besides,” she added thoughtfully, “the way the Greeks lived and exercised, and all, would naturally tend to make perfect bodies and[253] almost eliminate the liability of one’s having too much flesh.”

Aunt ’Mira snorted her disgust. “I declare to man!” she cried. “If a body’s going to be fat, they’ll be fat. That’s all there is to it, I reckon. I’ve tried my best; and though I’m some more limber than I was, you know yourself, Janice, I’m jest as fat as ever.

“No, Ma’am! Ye can’t tell me! They never put the fat Greeks in picters—jest kep’ ’em in the background, same’s they try to do with fat people nowadays. And if it’s your fate to be fat, why, ye will be, and that’s all there is about it.

“Ye don’t suppose, Niece Janice, that I let this fat come upon me without a struggle, do ye? I—should—say—not!” cried Aunt ’Mira, with energy. “Why, I fought it tooth and toe-nail!”

“When me an’ Jason was keepin’ comp’ny I was afraid he’d be scare’t at sech a mountain of flesh as I was then, and I dunno how many strings I broke tryin’ to pull in my stays. I wonder I didn’t squeeze all my internal consarns inter mush, I declare!

“But the more I ever done to try to take off flesh, the more I put it on. Why, Janice, I was a fat baby, and a fat young’un. I was jest about square—like a brick. You could ha’ set me any side up—I’d stood jest as well one way as t’other. There[254] warn’t no more escape for me from flesh than there is from death when my time comes.

“You’d oughter seen me when I was a little toddler, goin’ to old Marcy Coe’s to school. In them days there warn’t much of a public school here in Polktown—it only kep’ three months in the year, anyway. Miss Marcy Coe kep’ a sort of private school for the little tads, right in her own settin’-room. When they got too big for her to punish, they graduated to the reg’lar school.

“And believe me!” Aunt ’Mira exclaimed, with energy, “Miss Marcy Coe sartainly was ingenious in her punishments. I’ll never forgit one thing she useter make me do when I was bad. She was most always sewing while she sat and listened to us readin’ out of our little lesson-books, and her thimble was a very handy weapon.

“She sat with one leg crossed over the other,” went on the reminiscent lady, “a-swinging of her foot for hours at a time. If I was naughty I had to come up to her and squat a-straddle of that foot. If I rested any weight on her foot, Marcy would rap me on the head with her thimble.”

“Oh! how cruel!” burst out Janice.

“Mebbe it was good for the back and limbs,” sighed Aunt ’Mira; “but it was awful tryin’. We’d hafter stay in that stoopin’ position until sometimes we’d fall right over on the floor. And my poor head! It was sore all over from Marcy Coe’s thimble,[255] until I fairly squalled at night when my mother combed my hair. She thought ’twas snarls, poor dear.”

Aunt ’Mira chanced to look up and see the snow beating against the windows. It drew a perfect curtain between the warm sitting-room and the general outlook. The wind had risen, too, and was grumbling in the deep-throated chimney and rattling the outside blinds.

“My goodness, Janice!” her aunt exclaimed, “this is a hard storm. Where can your Uncle Jason and Marty be? They’d ought to be home early to do the chores. If this keeps up they won’t git to the critters at all to-night.”

“I can run out and feed the live stock and shut the hen-house door, Aunt ’Mira,” offered the girl, getting up briskly. “All they will have to do when they come home, then, will be to milk.”

“Wal, if you will,” agreed her aunt. “And I’ll be gettin’ a hot supper. They’ll want it—’specially Jason—after trampin’ through this snow.”

Janice put on a short coat, her leggings and mittens, and ventured out. The back porch was half full of snow, heaped to her waist.

“I never did see it snow so hard and so fast before,” thought the girl, facing the storm.

As she went past the tool shed she bethought her and secured a shovel. And it was well she did so, for when she reached the small stable door, the[256] snow was heaped so high against it that she had difficulty in digging her way in.

When she finally was in the stable, the wind banged the door shut. There was light enough for her to see, however. The ponies whinnied, while the cows lowed gratefully at her appearance. Janice scattered corn and oats through the feed-window into the hen-house, and heard some of the hungry biddies scramble down from the roosts to get the grain.

She knew just what grain to give the horses, and she mixed the mash for each cow separately. Uncle Jason had put a pump into the barn the year before, and it was so protected that it could not freeze. She climbed into the mow and threw down fodder and hay for the night. All that the men would have to do would be to milk and water the stock.

It was comfortably warm in the stable. The heat of the animals’ bodies made it so. She went the round of the stalls and patted the nose of each beast kindly. The horses raised their heads and looked at her; but the cows kept on guzzling their food, their broad, rough tongues scraping around and around in the wooden pails.

“I declare!” thought Janice. “It isn’t such a bad lot, after all, to live in a stable. But I guess I’d better get back to the house, or the drifts will be so deep I’ll be lost in them.”

She again buttoned her coat, turned up her collar,[257] and drew on her mittens. It was growing very dark in the barn, and she heard something stirring behind the feed-box—whether a cat or a rat she did not know. Anyway, she did not stop to investigate, for it might be a rat, and Janice was desperately afraid of those vermin.

Coming to the door, she unlatched it and pushed. The door stuck. She tried it again and then, with some fear, threw herself against it. It did not yield an inch and she knew instantly what the matter was. The snow had heaped against it—packed solid by the wind—higher than when she entered.

Again and again Janice Day pushed against the narrow door, exerting her strength to the utmost, while her fear grew. She was not naturally a nervous girl, nor easily disturbed by trifles. But there was something so terrifying in this sudden and complete mastery by the storm of affairs that she was shaken to the soul.

Besides, there was that rustling, scraping noise in the corner beyond the meal chest. It was the unknown that troubled her.

Of course, Uncle Jason or Marty would soon come to her rescue. She had not been more than half an hour in the barn. Unless this snowstorm was much heavier than any of which Janice had ever heard, the men would surely find their way up the hillside, and Aunt ’Mira would send them in search of her. Mrs. Day herself, however, would[258] be sadly alarmed if Janice did not soon return to the house.

It was useless for the girl to push against the door by which she had entered. She was soon assured of this fact. And she did not wish to stay alone in the stable with that rat—or what she thought was a rat. The noise it made could be easily heard above the sounds made by the cattle eating their supper.

“It must be a big one,” breathed Janice. “I just can’t stay here with it!”

She rushed to the big wing doors and tried to open them. But it was foolish to attempt that, for they were barred on the outside. There was no way out of the barn, save through the door by which she had entered, for the cattle entrances were all barred without.

There was the feed door into the hen-house. The thought of it instantly came to her mind. But to get to it she must pass by the feed chest.

It seemed to Janice Day as though she could not do that. The thought of the rat’s sharp teeth, its flaming eyes in the dark, its sleek body and hard, wire-like tail, gave her the shivers.

“I’m a coward! I’m a coward!” she told herself, again and again. “Perhaps it isn’t a rat at all. Maybe it’s only a cunning little mouse—or really nothing at all. Oh, if I only had a light.”

She searched her pockets for matches. Of course[259] she had none. The lantern hung on a peg just inside the door which she had endeavored unsuccessfully to open. But an unlighted lantern was of very little use to her. And deeper and deeper grew the shadows on the barn floor.

She feared her aunt would be frightened; and neither her uncle nor Marty came. It seemed to Janice as though much more time had elapsed since she entered the barn than really had passed. She felt sure that by taking off her jacket she could creep through into the hen-house; and the hen-house door was in a corner sheltered from the wind. She could surely get out through that.

“Janice Day!” she muttered, “you’ve just got to stop being so foolish! You must pass that meal chest and get out! Come now!”

Thus urging herself on—spurring her courage, as it were—the girl advanced a few steps along the barn floor. Suddenly she stopped. There were two bright specks shining in the dark. The noise of the rat’s gnawing had ceased. It must be watching her as she advanced.

Marty always said they were afraid and ran from you; but this particular rodent seemed to have no intention of running.

“Shoo!” gasped Janice—it must be confessed in a very weak voice.

The eyes never even winked. Morally courageous as the girl was, every atom of physical bravery[260] seemed to have oozed out of her now. Her knees trembled under her; she could hardly stand.

And then, unexpectedly, there was a scrambling noise in the dark beyond the chest, and a sleepy voice emitted a plaintive “ba-a-a! ba-a-a!” A lamb! A cosset that had been brought in from the sheepfold the week before and which Janice had forgotten all about, although she had been making a pet of it every time she had occasion to enter the stable.

The unwinking eyes did not move; but the relieved girl knew what they were now. Two shiny buttons on an old jumper of Marty’s which had been flung down beside the meal chest and in front of the pen where the lamb was kept.

“Ba-a-a!” again bleated the lamb, the innocent cause of all Janice Day’s disturbance and fear.

“Ba-a-a yourself!” she cried, laughing hysterically. “What a dunce I have been. If Marty knew it, I’d never hear the last of it. And how foolish—and really wicked, too!” she continued thoughtfully. “I guess that’s like half the troubles I have in this world. I see them coming and make more of them than they really are when they arrive.

“I expect I even have no business to worry as I have about dear Father. It seems as though I fail to trust in Providence when I am forever disturbed and troubled about things. Everything will come out all right of course! Father will be safe;[261] Nelson will not disappoint me. ‘All things work together for good’——”

She had removed her jacket while she so thought, and now crept through the small, square window into the hen-house. There was a rustling on the perches and the old rooster uttered a sleepy “cut, cut, ca-da-cut!”

“You be still!” giggled Janice. “I am no chicken thief, so don’t alarm your harem. My! that was a tight squeeze! Now I’m going out—Good-night all!” and she pushed open the outside door of the hen-pen and came out into the blowy, snowy world again.

The storm seemed fiercer than ever; but the lights in the kitchen window led Janice to refuge. Marty was hooting for her from the back porch.

“Crackey!” he called, as she stumbled toward him. “You done all the chores, Janice?”

“All but the milking,” she assured him.

“You’re some girl, you are,” declared the boy, with satisfaction. “Most any other girl would have been afraid to go out in the storm. Don’t take much to scare some of ’em into a conniption fit—and then they step in it!” grunted Marty, in vast disgust, being at just that age when the opposite sex seems to be a useless creation of Nature.

Janice refrained from telling him about the rat!

When the girl entered the house a surprise awaited her. Uncle Jason had brought a letter for[262] her—one all the way from Mexico and in her father’s handwriting. Anxiously she tore it open and scanned its contents. Did it contain more bad news?

“Oh, isn’t this lovely!” she cried, her face showing her pleasure. “Daddy writes that matters at the mine have taken a turn for the better. The government has acknowledged their rights and will leave them alone in the future. Oh, isn’t it just grand!”

“I knew it would come out all right in the end, Janice,” returned Aunt ’Mira. “Wasn’t no call for to worry like ye done.”

“But I couldn’t help it,” answered Janice. “Oh, I must tell Uncle Jason and Marty”; and she ran off to do so. It seemed as if one of the great weights on her heart had been lifted away.

The wind blew and the snow was swept furiously across the lake and through the streets of Polktown all that night. When morning came the entire mountain was a mass of white, with the smoking chimneys and the Union Church spire standing like sentinels above the white-mantled trees.

Snow shovels were at a premium. Plows were got out and everybody was busy making the highways, as well as the paths about the dwellings, passable. Business was almost at a standstill that day, and it was not until the next morning that Janice could get to her friend, Miss ’Rill, to tell her of the[263] good news from Mexico. Of course, she found the pretty little maiden lady around at the grocery on the side street, doing some kindly task for Hopewell Drugg’s little one.

As Janice had said, little Lottie was perfectly delighted at the prospect of having “Mamma ’Rill,” as she was determined to call her father’s new wife, “for her very own.” For although she was by no means as lonely, now that she could see and hear and speak almost as well as other little girls of her age, the Drugg household suffered for the presence of capable feminine hands and a loving heart.

Lottie had been used to run to her father for everything; but she was getting to that age now where it was a woman’s help she often needed.

Father and daughter still spent many an hour together, she with her cheek against his shoulder, while he sawed away at his old violin. The talent of his music-teacher father had been inherited to a degree by Hopewell; only he had always been too busy making a living to have the talent developed.

So he only knew the old pieces that he had learned when he was a boy and had first found the ancient violin hidden away by his mother in the attic. She had considered it almost a sin to play the instrument. Her husband, she thought, had been a failure because of his devotion to this very violin. She had looked back upon the days when they were first married, and he had spent hours pouring out his soul[264] to her through the strings of the instrument, as wickedness for which she must ever do penance in this life.

As Hopewell Drugg remembered her, his mother had been a very austere woman and had striven to repress every tendency in him toward life or enjoyment. But once having found his father’s old violin, and learning that he could draw a certain kind of harmony from its strings, he refused to give it up. It was the one conflict of their existence together; his mother had gone to her grave without forgiving him for his devotion to music.

His marriage to Lottie’s mother had been a strange one, and his happiness, if there had been happiness at all, was brief. “’Cinda Stone,” as the neighbors had always called Lottie’s mother, was sickly and her married life had been a short one. Since then, until recently, Hopewell’s affections had seemed to be centered entirely in little Lottie. It was to her he played “Silver Threads Among the Gold.” And he still played it to her when the snow kept the child indoors.

Storm after storm charged upon Polktown from over the mountain-peaks or from across the lake. The streets had to be dug out after each snowfall by strings of slow-moving oxen dragging the heavy snowplows. The country roads were almost impassable. Once Janice had to remain with Mrs. MacKay over Sunday. Archie was still engaged in[265] the bank, although it was closed while the finances of the institution were being adjusted.

Janice’s absence from town increased Lottie’s loneliness. Often the older girl had stopped on her return from school, to visit with the storekeeper’s daughter. Lottie did not go to school herself, but had lessons for two hours each forenoon under Miss ’Rill’s oversight.

After that the hours hung heavily on her hands. She could slide down hill, past Mr. Cross Moore’s; but the other children were in school and it wasn’t much fun to play alone. So, one afternoon, she left her sled at the bottom of the hill and tramped over the hard snow to the frozen cove, where the half-wrecked dock thrust its ice-covered timbers out from the shore. The line of dark spruce on the farther shore—the wall against which her voice was thrown back when she called—was snow-covered, too. And here were more flakes falling.

But little Lottie knew no danger. She was almost in sight of home. Or she would have been had not the snowflakes been coming down so fast and thick between her and the hill on which she lived.

Lottie had an idea in her mind. She had had it for a long time, and now that the cove was solidly frozen over, she could put it into execution. Her pretty fancy of the echo living in the spruce wood over yonder had never been explained away. She[266] firmly believed in the existence of some sprite who shouted to her in gentle mockery when she called to him from this side of the cove.

“He-a! he-a! he-a!” she shrilled, standing in the softly falling snow, and facing the wooded point which was now but a hazy outline.

“’Y-a! ’y-a! ’y-a!” The echo came flatly across the cove. It did not sound as it usually did. “I declare! do you suppose something is the matter with my echo?” queried Lottie, aloud.

She shouted again. The reply was quite as slow in returning, and the sound quite as flat.

“I’m going to see what the matter is with my echo,” murmured the child, and she set forth from the shore on the snow-covered ice. The storm was coming from behind her, and she had no idea how swiftly the snow was gathering, or how hard the wind blew until she was in the middle of the cove.

Even then Lottie was not greatly disturbed. A snowstorm was fun. And she was going to find her echo, and they would play together!

So she went on, the storm beating upon her back. Unfortunately, the direction of the wind was not toward the wooded point for which she had started. She drifted before it, and it drove her steadily and surely out upon the open lake.

The cove was solidly frozen over; but the lake ice had been broken by the weight of former snows, and[267] there were open spots in it, perilous indeed for the unguided feet of the little girl.

Up on the heights the strength of the coming blizzard had been marked earlier in the afternoon. Nelson Haley had sent the smaller children home at two o’clock. By three, when the others were released, it was already growing dark and the poultry had sought their roosts.

The snow was falling heavily as he made his way toward Mrs. Beasely’s cottage. He saw Miss ’Rill’s anxious face at the store door.

“Some snow!” the school teacher called, cheerily. “Guess the young ones will have their vacation a day earlier than we intended.”

“Oh, Mr. Haley!” she cried, without replying to his observation. “See if Lottie is with Mrs. Beasely, will you?”

“Sure,” replied Nelson quickly.

He was back in a minute, not having removed his cap and coat. “Hasn’t been with her this afternoon, Miss ’Rill,” said Haley. “What’s the matter? Doesn’t Hopewell know where she is?”

“He said she had gone out with her sled. I’ve been down the hill, but it’s snowing so fast the tracks of the sled are covered.”

“Where’s Hopewell gone?” demanded Haley.

“Down to the dock. He had to go to see about some freight that was left there the last time the Constance Colfax made a trip. He and Walky Dexter[268] will bring it up on Walky’s pung. It’s Christmas goods and—and other things,” and Miss ’Rill blushed, for among the “other things” were the last purchases for her wedding outfit.

“She can’t be over to your mother’s, can she?” asked the young man, quite serious now.

“No,” said Miss ’Rill, shaking her head. “She is not there. Maybe at Cross Moore’s——”

“I’ll go and see,” said the teacher. “You go back into the shop and keep out of this wind. I tell you it’s sharp!”

He plodded down the hill without an idea that he shouldn’t find the little girl in Mr. Cross Moore’s kitchen. The selectman was fond of little Lottie, and often brought her into the house to see his wife, who was an invalid.

When Nelson Haley knocked at the kitchen door, the slipshod girl who waited on Mrs. Moore answered his summons. Mr. Cross Moore was not at home. No; the little girl hadn’t been there that day.

“But I seed her slidin’ on her sled this arternoon,” drawled the girl, who was an output of an orphan asylum—the sort of person, because of mental and physical deficiencies, that few people would take into their homes.

“Where did she go, my good girl?” asked Haley, with anxiety.

[269]“It was beginning to snow and she went right down yonder on the pond.”

“To the cove, you mean?”

“Yep. And out on the ice. Mebbe she’s fell through a hole.”

“You didn’t see her come back?”

“Nop. It begun to snow right hard then, anyway.”

“How long ago was this?”

That question was a puzzling one for the deficient intellect of Sissy. She shook her head. “’Twas afore I rubbed Miz’ Moore’s feet the last time,” she ventured.

Haley, exasperated, but troubled still, pursued his questioning: “Did that take long?”

“Nop. Not long.”

“Have you done anything else since?”

“Yep. I’m allus doin’ things. I washed her tea set. That was after I made her tea and a slice of toast, and she’d eat it.”

“Goodness!” ejaculated Haley, figuring rapidly the possible time which had elapsed since little Lottie had been seen going down to the lake. “What else have you done since then?”

“Shook down the sittin’ room stove an’ put coal on. Miz’ Moore is bound ter have a coal fire, so’s it kin be kep’ all night. And then you come.”

“Maybe Lottie went along an hour ago, then?” queried Haley.

[270]“Wal, if yeou know, Mister,” drawled the girl.

He thought he had some sort of an idea as to Lottie’s whereabouts. If she had gone down to the cove an hour before she might be in the shelter of the old dock, for the snow had come on swiftly. When he reached the shore, however, no Lottie was there.

What was she likely to do? Indeed, why had she come down here? These questions were easily answered by the young man. Lottie’s fondness for the echo was notorious in the neighborhood. She must have come here to shout across the cove and listen to the answer.

“And then what?” thought Haley.

She had not returned up the hill. Even in this smother of snow she could not have missed her way coming in that direction. She was still here in the waste of snow, over which the storm was now shrieking.

The young man made a horn of his two gloved hands and shouted Lottie’s name, again and again. Now the echo was completely smothered and no sound at all came back to him.

A real blizzard had swept down upon the lake. If the child had wandered out upon the ice, what chance would there be of her ever reaching the shore again, let alone any human habitation? And, Nelson asked himself, how should he set about finding her in the drifting snow!



The thickening mist of snow shut off all sight of the shore when the school teacher was ten yards out upon the ice. Every few yards he stopped and shouted down wind, believing that the lost child would never be able to beat her way against it, and would naturally drift with the storm. In this supposition he was right. She had drifted farther out upon the ice than Nelson Haley believed possible. If she had been gone only an hour from the view of the girl at Mr. Cross Moore’s, the school teacher thought she must still be not far from the edge of the cove. He began soon to zigzag across the ice, wading through the soft-packed snow, sometimes almost losing his own sense of direction.

From the heights above the wind shrieked down upon him, and the snow seemed doing its best to bury Nelson Haley under a clinging white coverlet. Not that he was at all affrighted at first. To fight a snowstorm was merely fun for him.

He very soon thought, however, that there was serious danger for the missing child. He wished[272] that he had gotten together a party to make this search with him. One searcher seemed very helpless in this fast gathering blizzard. He made small progress, and feared that he might pass little Lottie without seeing her.

Beaten down by the gale the child could easily be covered with the drifts and lie undiscovered until it was too late to save her. The possibility of this tragedy horrified Nelson Haley.

Poor little Lottie, Janice Day’s friend and his own! It was because of Lottie that the young man had so recently begun to doubt if he had quite understood Janice during the past few months.

If Janice did not care for him at all—and Nelson had honestly believed that was a fact—why had she come to nurse him when he was ill? He had not asked Mrs. Beasely point-blank if what Lottie had said was true. He knew too well the widow’s liking for gossip.

But he had dovetailed together a word dropped here and another there, until he had secured all the evidence necessary to assure him that little Lottie had “let the cat out of the bag”—childishly unconscious that she had betrayed a secret. While he was delirious, Janice had been his close attendant. When he had turned the corner on the road to health, she had refrained from coming near him.

Nelson could not understand it; but he had to accept the fact as it was for the time being. He[273] longed to get Janice alone and to find out the truth of the matter; but every time he tried to do so something seemed to intervene. And Frank Bowman was always around, too!

These thoughts did not keep Nelson from shouting at intervals; but his reiterated shouts did not reach little Lottie’s ears for a long time. Confused by the storm, and utterly helpless to breast it, Lottie Drugg probably did the wisest thing she could have done under the circumstances.

She sat down in the midst of it and cried!

Ordinarily to give in to the gale and sink before it would be a perilous thing indeed; but in this case it kept the child from going too far to be rescued. She had not got out of the more or less sheltered cove. Had she done so, the gale would have swept her off her feet and buried her under the drifts.

But Nelson, forcing his way through the heaped-up snow, shouting now and then, staggering on with determination, his own back to the gale, finally stumbled upon a heap that seemed of strange formation. He stooped, scratched away the snow, and seized the half-unconscious Lottie in his arms.

“Child! child!” he cried. “How did you come here? You’d have been frozen in a little while.”

“Don’t! don’t wake me up, Nelson Haley,” she whined. “I want to go to sleep. Lottie’s so tired. And I could—couldn’t fi-find my echo after all!” and she began to whimper.

[274]The mention of the echo reminded Nelson that there was a better way back than facing the storm across the open ice of the cove. Here was the wooded point not far to the right as he faced the town again.

“We’ll find shelter under those trees, if nothing else,” muttered the school teacher, and with the little girl clinging around his neck, a dead weight, he stumbled on until he found the broken line of the shore.

The snow was banking up upon it in a great windrow; but Nelson plunged through this barrier and reached the sheltered grove. A low, sweeping spruce offered them complete roofing from the storm. Nelson put the little girl down, broke off some dead branches, and quickly started a fire.

When it was snapping brightly, he removed Lottie’s shoes and stockings and restored the circulation to her feet. Then she woke up and declared herself to be “all warm and comfy—and couldn’t we go home to supper, for I am drefful hungry?”

Nelson knew well enough that the storm would not cease for many hours; they could not possibly remain here, for no searching party would know where to look for them. They must get home as soon as possible, and before it grew too dark to see.

He knew that by going up the point, through the wood, he would strike an old wood road through Mr. Cross Moore’s property to the place where the[275] railroad bridge was already half builded over the brook. A sawmill had been put into this timber a few years before, and most of the well-grown trees had been cut and sawed into planks.

Therefore, when he staggered out of the spruce growth with little Lottie in his arms, he found himself in conflict with the gale, which had a good sweep through the open woodland.

It was still light enough for Nelson to see the outline of objects. This was a path familiar to him, for he and Janice and little Lottie had often walked here the spring before.

The snow underfoot made the traveling very hard; nor was Nelson as strong as he had been before his illness at Thanksgiving. He had to stop frequently, turn his back to the gale, and get his breath, hovering Lottie before him, encircled in his arms. Then he would plunge on again, plowing through the beating storm—fairly fighting for the gain of each ten yards as though battling an actual enemy.

In one of these resting spells he thought he heard a cry. It was faint and seemed to come a long way down wind. He rose and answered it; but he doubted if his voice could have carried very far against the gale.

He grabbed up Lottie again and plunged on. Somebody was either searching for them, or——

Could it be another person in trouble? “I guess[276] I’m right in the game of rescue to-night,” muttered the school teacher. “I wonder who this is?”

He put all his strength into another call. An answering cry sounded almost above his head.

“Sounds as though he were in a flying machine!” gasped Nelson, staring up into the smother of snow.

And then suddenly he discovered that there was the bulk of some rigid object up there, above his head. He looked up at it in surprise. What could it be? How far had they come?

“Hello!” The muffled voice came down to him, and Nelson, setting Lottie down once more, yelled up in return:

“Hello, yourself! Where are you?”

“Up on the bridge!” cried the other voice, this time more clearly. There was a little lull in the gale and Nelson immediately understood.

“We’re at the bridge—I declare we are!” he said. “And that is Frank Bowman, the civil engineer.”

“Mr. Bowman! I know him, too,” cried Lottie. “Do you s’pose he’s hungry for supper—and co-cold?”

“I’ll bet he is!” laughed Nelson. He shouted up to the civil engineer again: “What are you roosting up there for? Don’t you know enough to go in when it snows?”

“I declare, it doesn’t look as though I did, does[277] it?” repeated Frank Bowman, rather grimly. “But to tell the truth, I’m in trouble.”

“What’s the matter with you?” demanded Nelson, trying to see him through the curtain of falling snow.

“I’ve hurt my arm. I don’t think it is broken, but it’s wrenched badly and I can’t use it to help myself down from this trestle,” replied Frank Bowman. “I got up here to secure some tools that one of the men must have left in a knee of the structural work. Pretty near fell off and broke my foolish neck, for I slipped on an icy girder. And in saving myself, I hurt my arm. If you can give me some help, I’ll be much obliged.”

“In a minute!” cried the school teacher. “I’ve an encumbrance here in the shape of a little lost girl.”

“I ain’t lost!” shouted Lottie. “It’s only my echo that’s lost. I couldn’t find it. Did you see my echo, Mr. Bowman?”

“Bless your heart, Lottie! I haven’t seen anything up here for two hours but the angels shaking out their feather-beds,” returned the civil engineer, laughing rather grimly.

“Oo-oo!” squealed Lottie. “If the angels hafter sleep on such cold feathers, don’t you think they’d get frostbite? Mr. Haley rubbed my feets ’cause he was ’fraid I’d get frostbite.”

“You’ve been out some time in this storm,[278] then?” demanded the civil engineer, as Nelson climbed up to reach him.

“Longer than I care to be out,” replied Nelson. “Come on! let’s have your foot. I’ll guide it. You can hang on with your right hand. I’ll steady you.”

The two young men were not long in getting down to the ground. Bowman was no more breathless than the school teacher. But his arm hurt greatly and he had to grit his teeth to keep from crying out.

“Now, are you all right?” asked Nelson. “We’d ought to hurry on.”

“I—I guess so,” gasped Frank Bowman. “I—I’m pretty near all in, I am afraid. You had best go on ahead with the little girl, Mr. Haley.”

Nelson saw that the exposure and pain had really pulled the other down. Up to this time he had seen very little of Frank Bowman. Not even when he called on Annette did he meet Frank at the Inn. To tell the truth, owing to his belief that Frank was deeply interested in Janice Day, the school teacher had not cared to know the young civil engineer at all.

He could not be unkind to the fellow, and it was plain that Frank faced the storm that charged down the hill with difficulty. Nelson came close to him and put Frank’s good arm over his own shoulder; the other hung useless at the young engineer’s side.

[279]“Come on! we’ll push on together—won’t we, Lottie?” he cried, cheerily. “Hang on to my other hand, Lottie. We won’t be long in getting there.”

It was Nelson’s cheerfulness that kept them up to the mark. He had to carry Lottie the last hundred yards, as well as brace Frank Bowman.

The store of Hopewell Drugg was a scene of much excitement when they burst in from the snowy world without. Hopewell had returned, and he and Miss ’Rill were much troubled about the absence of little Lottie. Walky Dexter was preparing to go out and rouse the neighbors to search for the child.

“Wal, for the Land o’ Pity’s sake!” exclaimed Walky. “D’yeou young fellers reckon on this bein’ a nice time ter take a young lady out for a walk down Lovers’ Lane? Humph! looks like it’d been snowing where you hev been.”

“Don’t you try to be funny, Walky,” advised Nelson, helping Frank to the stove. “Where’s your team?”

“I put Josephus inter Hopewell’s stable. An’ he’s a-goin’ to stay there,” said Walky, promptly. “’Tain’t fit for a human bein’ to be out—let erlone a hoss.”

“It’s all right, Haley,” said Frank, quietly. “I’ll have my wind back in a moment, and then I’ll walk down to the Inn, and call in a doctor.”

“I’ll go with you,” said Nelson, promptly.

[280]The two young men started off through the storm again in a few minutes. Somehow the accident to Frank seemed to draw them together.

“Seems to me you were taking a risk over on that half-completed bridge alone,” remarked Nelson. “Are you anxious about it?”

“That’s it,” said Frank, with a deep sigh. “I’m just that. You see, it means a lot to me. It’s the first piece of construction work I have done for the Vermont Central; and if anything went wrong with it this winter I’d maybe be called down for it by the Board.

“Besides,” he added, a little diffidently, “I’m wanting to make good for the sake of somebody else.”

“Your sister?” queried Nelson, with a somewhat sharp look at him.

“Annette? Humph! No. I don’t fancy that she ever thinks whether I am doing well in my business or not. You know what Annette is, Haley.”

“Well,” said the school teacher, noncommittally.

“You ought to; and I guess Jim Brainard knows. I don’t blame Jim for fighting shy of Annette. She wouldn’t treat him right. You know Jim, don’t you?” proceeded Frank.

“He was in my class at college,” returned Nelson. “I believe he is very, very fond of your sister. But he is obstinate, too. He’d never say[281] the first word toward making up. I’ve hoped that Annette would see her mistake and make the first advance.”

“She’s about ready to—you take it from me. She’s tired of playing her little game here. You see, of late she’s kept all the fellows at a distance, except you, Mr. Haley. And you knew her too well to fall for her,” added this particularly frank brother.

They went on down High Street together, and as they approached the Inn Frank blurted out:

“I’ve always admired you, Mr. Haley, although you haven’t been very friendly. You see, you have won your spurs—you’ve got a standing; while I’m just working to make good. It’s true, Vice-president Harrison, of the V. C., has been very friendly to me. I—I’m acquainted with his family——”

“Vice-president Harrison has got a mighty pretty daughter,” remarked Nelson, and then added suddenly, “Do you know her?”

“She—she’s the one I’m trying to make good for,” blurted out Frank Bowman. “Here we are. I’m a thousand times obliged to you for your help. And I hope you and I will have time to get better acquainted.”

He wrung Nelson Haley’s hand with his own good one and bolted into the Inn. Despite the snow and the wind, Nelson stood still for some[282] moments trying to adjust his mind to the new set of ideas that Frank’s words had suggested.

“Trying to make good with Miss Harrison!” he murmured. “Miss Harrison! And I thought it was Janice!”



The Middletown Seminary had closed for the Christmas holidays as usual; but Janice had been very busy at home finishing her Christmas presents, and sending off belated packages to absent friends. Of course, the Christmas package for Daddy had gone weeks before. The mail service to the mine in Mexico was very irregular.

On this day when the clouds began to hover so close above the mountain tops before noon, Janice decided that she would not risk putting off until Christmas Eve a visit that she must make. She packed an old box-sled of Marty’s full of little packages, all named and numbered, and pulled a coasting cap down over her ears in preparation for departure.

“You’d oughter take Marty with you, Janice,” her aunt told her. “B-r-r-r! It’s colder than a frog’s toes outside.”

“I don’t know how cold a frog’s toes are this time of year,” laughed Janice; “but mine are warm as toast in these fleece-lined boots. Don’t worry about me, Aunt ’Mira. No knowing where Mart[284] is, unless he’s in school. But I think his classes are not being held to-day. I’ll toddle along; don’t worry if I am not home at supper time, for I have another call to make on my way back.”

She did not go by the road, for there was a short-cut over the mountain, and the snow crust was hard. It was directly after dinner when she set out. The first flakes of the promised storm had not fallen when she turned off the highway into the narrow drive that led past the Trimmins’ cabin.

It was to the squatters’ poor home she was bound. Christmas cheer was there ahead of her, however. Janice had not seen Jinny and her folks lately, but she knew that the whole family had been extremely busy making holly wreaths; while “Pappy” had been cutting Christmas trees for Elder Concannon and helping ship them at the Middletown station.

Odd wreaths bedecked the walls of the main room of the house, while in the corner farthest from the fire was a handsome young tree that touched the rafters. It was already strung with popcorn and tinsel balls, while colored candles were ready to be lighted on Christmas Eve—now little more than twenty-four hours away.

Janice had made herself the friend of every small member of the Trimmins brood ere this, if she had not made much headway with the older ones. The red-haired boy was still antagonistic; but Jinny kept him well in leash.

[285]Now the black-haired girl helped Janice smuggle the little packages into the house, for they were only to be tied upon the tree the next evening. There was a present for every member of the Trimmins family, and making these gifts had given Janice more pleasure than most of her Christmas activities. She knew that all would be delighted with the presents—even Tom, the red-haired, for she had bought for him such a complicated pocketknife as no boy on earth could resist.

Little Buddy Trimmins would sit in nobody’s lap but hers when Janice was in the house. His mother could not refuse to admire Janice when the baby showed the visitor such partiality. Janice had spent a pleasant hour when Tom thrust his head in the doorway and broke the news of the rising storm by saying:

“If that gal wants t’ git home for Christmas she’d better make a start. It hain’t snowin’ a bit—oh, no!”

Jinny sprang up to box his ears; but as he dodged out through the door he left it ajar and a great swirl of driving snowflakes was sucked into the room.

“Shet that door, Jinny!” called the mother. “Ye want t’ give the baby his death?”

“Oh, Janice! It is snowin’ hard,” cried Virginia.

“I’ll hurry right home,” agreed Janice, jumping[286] up and putting on her outer clothing. Her sled was already packed with the Christmas wreaths that Virginia and Mayrie and Elsie had made for her.

“You Tom!” Virginia shouted. “Come, pull this sled for Miss Janice,” she commanded, when the red-haired boy appeared.

“Won’t neither!” he declared. “’Tain’t no weight to it——”

“You shet up an’ take holt on them sled ropes,” interrupted the little virago. “Or else you needn’t come in t’ no supper this night.”

In the clearing the snow was coming down faster and faster. Janice could scarcely see as far as the road. Tom grumbled aloud:

“If I go clean down in t’ Polktown with her, I won’t git back to no supper. ’Tain’t goin’ t’ be fitten for a hawk t’ be out by supper time.”

“You shall only come with me to the big road,” Janice said, cheerfully. “Then the wind will be behind me and I shall get on very well.”

“He’d ought t’ go the whole way,” said Virginia, doubtfully. “I hope nothin’ won’t happen to you, Janice Day.”

“Nothing ever does happen to me but good things,” laughed Janice, setting off through the falling snow.

She was by no means as happy in her heart as she appeared to be on the surface. As the season of joy and gift-giving approached there was something[287] that troubled the girl more and more. Ever since Nelson had been ill she had prayed that the difficulty between them would be overcome. If he wanted Annette Bowman for his friend, Janice told herself she could make no effort to thwart him, but she did wish to feel that there was no unkind feeling between Nelson and herself.

When the school teacher, in his delirium, had seemed to ask for Annette, Janice was smitten to the quick. She could fight the other girl no further. If Nelson’s mind turned to the city girl in its beclouded state, he must be very fond of her indeed.

Janice had been at work for weeks on a knitted silk muffler for Nelson. Into it, as her dextrous fingers flew, she had knitted many thoughts and wishes and hopes for the future. She had her day-dreams like other young girls. And Nelson had been her very, very dear friend.

The school teacher was to have the muffler, of course. But he would never know what fancies had been knitted into it. She would just send Marty over to the Beasely cottage with the box and a Christmas card on which was written “Best Wishes.” She decided on this finally as she tramped ahead of Tom Trimmins out to the big road.

“Now, you are a real nice boy,” she declared, taking the line from his unmittened hand. “I am[288] much obliged to you. And I wish you a very Merry Christmas!”

“You’d better git on home,” growled Tom gruffly. “I tell ye, this is a reg’lar blizzard. Goo’-bye.”

“Good-bye and Merry Christmas!” returned Janice, insistently.

“Aw—well—I s’pose ye will have it!” said the red-head. “Merry Christmas! Nex’ thing, I s’pose ye’ll wanter kiss me like ye do the kids.”

“I promise not to do that, Tom,” said Janice, her eyes dancing, but her face grave, “until you wash your face. Then I might be tempted.”

He grinned sheepishly and then stood and watched her disappear in the curtain of snow that swirled down the broad roadway.

Before she had gone half a mile Janice realized that this was like no other storm she had been out in. The wind shrieked around her, sometimes buffeting her so sorely that she almost lost her footing. It became something of an effort to pull the light sled.

There were not many farms between the wood road and Elder Concannon’s, and every house was back some distance from the road. Janice did not believe she could get lost, thick as the snowfall was, for the highway was fenced on either side. But if she turned off it and attempted to take refuge in one of these dwellings along the way, would she find such refuge? That was a query that troubled[289] her. The risk seemed less if she plodded on, and this she did while the afternoon waned and the storm increased in fury.

She had no idea that she was already the subject of worried inquiry at home. Marty had returned and had begun shoveling the paths.

“More I do now, the less I’ll hafter do in the morning. Plague take the snow, anyway! I jest hate shovelin’ paths,” he complained. “And, by jinks! I dunno but the snow’s fillin’ this one up faster than I kin git it dug. This is an old ripsnorter of a storm, and no mistake. Hullo! who’s this plowin’ up the lane?”

It proved to be Nelson Haley. He had not been to the Day house for several weeks and Marty hailed him with surprise.

“My goodness, Mr. Haley! I thought you’d forgotten the way up here. Ye ain’t lost, be ye?”

“Not at all, Marty, not at all; but I see that you lose all your knowledge of the English language just as soon as you get out of the school building.”

Marty had the grace to blush, cold as it was! “I forgot, Mr. Haley. You see, everybody around here talks careless-like.”

“Not Janice, I’ll be bound,” said the school teacher, cheerfully. “And by the way, is she at home?”

“Janice? Crackey! she ain’t, but she ought to be,” exclaimed Marty. “Mother told me she went up into the woods to see those Trimminses.”

[290]“Those squatters in Elder Concannon’s woods?”

“Yes, sir! And she’d ought to be back,” said Marty, troubled. “She might get lost in this snow.”

“You are right,” said Nelson, with equal gravity. “Little Lottie was lost in it and we only brought her in an hour ago. Come! let’s go to meet Janice.”

“In a minute!” cried Marty, starting for the kitchen door. “Wait till I tell Marm. Come in and get a warm?”

“I stopped at Massey’s and got some hot chocolate. I’m warmly dressed,” returned Nelson. “Let us hurry.”

The boy and his teacher were off in another minute. Mr. Day was not at home or he would have gone with them. Facing the storm on the mountain road was no pleasant adventure. The snow had become needle-sharp now, and cut their faces sorely. The stronger gusts of wind buffeted the pair until they were glad to cling to each other’s hands.

“My goodness!” gasped Nelson. “I hope that either Janice did not start back from that house, or she has gone in somewhere.”

“And we won’t know where,” growled Marty.

“But we’ll ask at every house after we get out of town,” suggested the teacher. “That is, every one but the Elder’s. I guess she wouldn’t have gone in there.”

[291]“Say! I don’t know about that,” shouted Marty so his friend could hear him. “Janice and the Elder have been thicker than thieves lately.”

“What’s that?” said Nelson. “You don’t mean it!”

“Yep. Janice never said a thing about it. You know, she’s closer-mouthed than a clam with the lockjaw. But it’s beginnin’ to leak out.”

“What is?”

“Why, how she took the old Elder for a ride in her car. And it was some joy ride, believe me!” and Marty laughed heartily, despite the buffeting of the storm.

He repeated for the teacher’s benefit an aggravated account of that ride to Middletown for the money, with annotations and additions by everybody who had repeated it, beginning with Bill Embers, Si Littlefield, and the Warners, and so on, down the line.

“And if ye notice, Mr. Haley,” concluded Marty, “the Elder hasn’t had a word to say lately about the Prophet Daniel foreseein’ the automobile craze of the Twentieth Century. He donated a spankin’ big tree for the Girls’ Guild entertainment——”

“And he told me last week that he would give fifty dollars toward the series of lectures and educational moving picture shows that we’re going to have in the school hall after New Year’s. Was it Janice who started the trustees on that idea?” queried[292] Haley, as they halted in the lee of a shed to get their breath.

“Betcher life!” exclaimed Marty, proudly. “There ain’t much new that’s any good in Polktown, that isn’t started by that cousin of mine. And she got that idea from mother’s saying that she loved to read about foreign places and foreign people, though she knew she’d never get far from Polktown to see such things.”

“I see,” agreed Nelson.

“So Janice said: ‘Let’s see if we can’t bring the places here,’ and I vow!” he concluded, “if she ain’t goin’ to do it!”

They started on. The big Concannon house, which stood close to the road, loomed through the snow. “If you think it’s possible she may be here,” suggested Nelson, doubtfully, “we might stop and find out.”

“Come on,” said Marty, taking the lead.

He made his way to the side porch. It was heaped with snow and the windows were masked with it, too. There was a light inside, early as was the hour. Marty thundered on the portal.

“Hello, in there, Elder!” he shouted. “Is Janice Day here?”

There was a movement within, and voices. They could hear Janice laughing cheerily. A heavy step came into the entry and the door was flung wide open.

[293]“Come in, boys,” said the deep voice of the Elder. “Come in and get warm. This is a pretty serious storm. I have already got one refugee.”

“Did you come looking for me, Marty?” cried Janice from the sitting-room. “Do come in and try to beat the Elder at least one game of checkers. He’s beaten me five straight games——

“Oh! Nelson Haley! Did—did you come to look for me, too?”

“Janice—my Janice!” murmured the school teacher, looking at her sitting all rosy and wind-berumpled by the open fire, and forgetting to stamp the snow from his boots. “I certainly did come for you!”



The Elder’s hired man brought out the sleigh and took Janice, Marty and Nelson Haley down to the Day house on Hillside Avenue; the Elder insisted on that. Marty sat in front with the driver, while Nelson and Janice cowered under the buffalo robes on the rear seat.

There was nothing particularly private in the conversation between the school teacher and Janice Day during this ride through the storm; yet it was very illuminating for both of them.

The subject of the Bowmans came up naturally, for Nelson, in telling of little Lottie Drugg’s adventure, of course mentioned the difficulty Frank Bowman had gotten into.

“And he seems like a pretty nice fellow, Janice,” said Nelson generously. “I never really talked with him until to-day. He must be quite wrapped up in his work to spend so much of his time on it.”

Janice laughed—a happy little laugh. Why! she couldn’t help laughing now.

“Mr. Bowman is always talking about ‘making[295] good’ with the company,” she said, “but it’s Phoebe Harrison he wants to make good with. Oh! I know.”

“So he admitted to me,” said Nelson earnestly. “I have an idea he will succeed, too. She’s an awfully pretty girl. But I am afraid his sister’s affair isn’t running so smoothly.”

“Her affair? With whom?” asked Janice, choking suddenly, but looking at him squarely.

“Jim Brainard, a college friend of mine. I don’t know that it pays for an outsider to interfere in such matters. But Jim is a good fellow and he is dreadfully fond of Annette, and I thought I might help him. She likes him, too; but she’s obstinate, likes applause and the attentions of a whole raft of fellows. So they quarreled just before she came here to Polktown.

“I believe that’s what has made her act so recklessly and meanly. Really, she is not as bad as she has painted herself. She could never make Polktown people believe in her good qualities now, I fear; but she is going down to New York next week, and she’ll probably stay there. I know that she is going simply because Jim has returned from a long business trip that he took for his firm.

“They’ll meet,” concluded Nelson, laughing, “and I have faith that they will not punish themselves any longer by disagreeing.”

Janice turned to him suddenly, her old frank self.[296] “Tell me,” she demanded, “didn’t you care at all for Annette?”

“I—should—hope—not!” he gasped. “Why, Janice, I—I——”

“Why did you ask to see her when you were sick?” she continued.

“I didn’t!”

“You did! I was—was there when you asked for her.”

“Well, I was out of my head, wasn’t I?” returned the school teacher, grimly. “I must have been to want to see Annette Bowman. It was another person altogether that I wished to see.”

He had leaned close to her and she could see the expression of his face despite the driving snow.

“You—you mean——”

Her tongue faltered and she blushed furiously. Nelson had taken hold of her gloved hand and pressed it closely in his own.

“I meant you, Janice!” he whispered.

Marty, on the front seat, suddenly struck into Hopewell Drugg’s late favorite:

“Jingle bells! jingle bells!
Jingle all the way—
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh-eigh-eigh-eigh!”

They turned into the driveway of the old Day house, and were at home.

[297]Aunt ’Mira would not consent to Nelson’s going home that night. “The Widder Beasely’ll know you’ve stepped in somewhere,” she said, with confidence. “This storm ain’t fit for a dog to be out in; and after your illness, Mr. Haley, you’ve been exposed enough for once’t, I declare for’t!”

Janice’s eyes shone. Their tender glances, bent upon him in confirmation of her aunt’s invitation, would have kept Nelson if no other consideration would.

“Bully!” shouted the exuberant Marty. “If Walky Dexter comes down, we’ll have a grand game of parchesi.”

Her son declared that Aunt ’Mira “did herself proud” in that supper. She believed in putting forth her best for the minister or the school teacher. Fried ham, home smoked; shirred eggs in individual ramikins; potato chips as crisp and dry as autumn leaves; fluffy biscuit; golden butter, despite the season, for Aunt ’Mira knew how to use the carrot juice in just the right amount when she colored it; heaps of brown doughnuts at either end of the table, “where they’d be handiest”; a plate piled with wedges of moist, yellow cheese—all this besides a variety of cake, preserves, pickles, and the inevitable pie. The Widow Beasely might set a good table; but she could not beat Aunt ’Mira when the latter set out to do her best.

After the adventures of the afternoon Nelson, at[298] least, did full justice to the meal. And all through it they redescribed their adventures to each other. The loss of little Lottie in the snow brought this comment from Uncle Jason:

“I swow! I dunno nobody who needs a wife more’n Hopewell, if only to keep that young’un in leash. She’s as wild as a hawk.”

“I hope Mr. Bowman isn’t badly hurt,” said Janice. “He is so anxious about that bridgework.”

“He’s a nice feller to work for,” volunteered Marty. Then, wistfully: “I’d love to have his job. I think being a civil engineer is about the nicest thing a feller can do.”

“Huh!” grunted his father, who had been hearing a good deal of this sort of talk of late, “you l’arn to be civil now; time enough to git to be an engineer when you air older.”

“Mr. Bowman is a fine fellow, I think myself,” Nelson hastened to say, covering up this little family bickering. “I never knew him at all till we were out in the storm together to-day. He has pluck all right.”

“And I should say you had a-plenty,” Aunt ’Mira cried frankly. “I b’lieve after what you have been through this afternoon, you’d ought to go to bed purty soon after supper. I’ll iron the best room bed, and Jason’ll put the heater in there.”

But a chorus of objections from the young folk vetoed this plan. Even Janice thought it an unnecessary[299] precaution, Mr. Haley was so well now.

“And what my nurse says, goes!” declared Nelson, laughing. “Janice is a famous sick-room attendant, as I can testify.”

“I believe you, Mr. Haley,” agreed Aunt ’Mira. “She can jest charm away a headache. She’s a capable gal, if I do say it as shouldn’t, bein’ her aunt. Me an’ Jason air jes as proud as Punch of her.”

Janice ran out of the room for a fresh supply of biscuit, and to hide her blushes.

“Janice is the bulliest girl that ever was,” chimed in Marty. “If there was more girls like her I’d mebbe think of marryin’, myself.”

This statement caused a general laugh.

The men folk sat before the base-burner in the sitting-room and talked about other severe storms while Janice and her aunt cleared the table and washed the supper dishes. By and by there was a great stamping and blowing on the porch.

“Marty,” said his father, taking the pipe from his mouth, “that’s either a whale come aboard, or Walky Dexter. Go give him a hand with the broom. Your mother won’t want all that fresh snow on her clean kitchen floor.”

It was Walky. Despite the howling storm, he had come down the hill for his weekly evening call at the old Day house.

“Gosh all fish-hooks!” he exclaimed, coming[300] into the sitting-room at last. “This is the wust storm we’ve had since seventy-two, Jason. ’Member that?”

“Sure, the time Job Eldridge got snowed-up in a bear’s den,” declared Uncle Jason quickly.

“Jest the same—jest the same,” said Walky, his eyes sparkling as he rubbed his great, red hands in the heat of the glowing stove.

“In a bear’s den!” ejaculated Marty. “Was the bear at home?”

Walky was chuckling hugely. “You’d oughter as’t Job,” he said. “He had a-plenty to say about it arterward. Ain’t that so, Jason? He talked voluminous on that subject for the rest of his endurin’ life!”

“Tell us about it, do, Walky,” urged Janice, taking up the last piece of fancy-work she expected to finish before Christmas.

Aunt ’Mira came in, too, and sat down under the lamp. Walky Dexter began slowly to expand; he dearly loved the sound of his own voice, as Janice had frequently told him.

“Wal,” began Walky, “Job was the laziest man that ever drew on a pair of boots! He worked for ’Linus Webster one winter, up on the back of this very mountain, gettin’ out timbers for this very Constance Colfax that frets the waters of this very lake. You kin see the boat is some aged, and that[301] we need a new one, railroad competition, or no railroad competition, eh, Jason?”

“Quite right, Walky,” agreed Uncle Jason, “greasing the wheels” of Walky’s speech.

“We was all comin’ home nights from the wood-lot, ’cause ’twas easier than buildin’ a camp and hirin’ a cook, and all. Besides, we misjedged ’Linus’ supplies. Time before he’d hired a gang to go lumberin’ he’d supplied weevilly flour and wormy pork,” explained the story-teller.

“It come on to snow ’bout the time we was hitchin’-in after takin’ our noon snack, just siftin’ down through the treetops like an old lady siftin’ powdered sugar on a ’lection-day cake,” and Walky smacked his lips. “But it gathered fast. We soon see we was goin’ to be snowed up there in the woods if we didn’t light out for home soon.”

“Did it snow as hard as it does to-night, Walky?” asked Marty, the curious.

“Jest as hard, I reckon. Hard enough, anyway. But Job Eldridge didn’t believe it’d be much more’n a squall. He never did have the sense of a mite! He was on the choppin’ gang and he wanted to keep on. Us that had teams up there jest hooked up aour chains and lit out for home. If it snowed like that in the timber, we knowed it would be as bad ag’in outside.

“Now, Job wouldn’t come at first. Then he found he was left alone at the choppin’ and that, I[302] reckon, scare’t him. It snowed hard enough to scare anybody. He started for home an hour behind us.

“There he showed poor jedgement ag’in,” said Walky. “There was somethin’ that resembled a shack handy, and he might have gone in there and staid hived up till the wust was over.

“But no. That wouldn’t do for Job. He was as panicky inside as though he’d eat a sour apple with the Jamaica ginger ten miles away. He set off runnin’ through the wood, not follerin’ the wagon road even, but tryin’ to cut across’t and ketch up with us.

“Must ha’ got twisted around purty soon,” continued the narrator. “Reckon he follered a trail like a corkscrew, Jason, to find that old holler maple, eh?”

“Must have,” agreed Uncle Jason, broadly smiling.

“Anyway, he come plumb upon it. He was as scare’t as a cat then. The holler offered refuge, and he plumped in. The wind was a-howlin’, and the trees a-writhin’, and the snow a-suckin’ into the holler, though ’twas on the lee side. So Job, he scrouged back inter the dark—an’ he come upon somethin’ there.”

“Oh!” gasped Janice, for the suggestion of the bear’s presence, hibernating in the hollow tree for[303] the winter, could not be mistaken. Marty and even Nelson were round-eyed.

“It was somethin’ hairy and warm—and it moved,” said Walky hoarsely. “My soul! ye oughter heard Job tell about it. Make yer hair stand right up on end!”

“You’re making ours stand out like the quills on the fretful porcupine, Mr. Dexter,” interposed Nelson.

“Did the bear bite him?” demanded Marty, too impatient to wait longer for the dénouement.

“No,” said Walky, shaking his head, and preternaturally grave.

“No? What kind of a bear was that?” asked the boy, in disgust.

“You reckless boy!” cried Janice. “You wouldn’t want the bear to bite the poor man, would you?”


“Go on, do, Walky!” urged the girl, eagerly. “Why didn’t it bite him, as Marty wants to know?”

“Didn’t have no teeth,” chuckled Walky.

What?” was the chorused expression of his listeners.

“A bear as old as that?” gasped Janice.

“’Twarn’t very old,” said Walky, his eyes twinkling; “but it didn’t have no head, neither.”

“A dead bear!” shrieked Marty.

[304]“Nop. ’Twas a buffaler robe of ’Linus Webster’s that he throwed in there, and Job wrapped himself up in it and slept as warm as toast all night long,” and Walky broke into one of his loud guffaws over the way in which he had fooled them all.

But they beat him playing parchesi, and it was a happy if rather noisy evening spent in the old Day house sitting-room. By and by Aunt ’Mira brought on the unfailing doughnuts and cheese, and Uncle Jason went down to the cellar in his thick woolen socks, which he had been steaming on the footrail of the stove while he nodded in his chair, and brought up a jug of cider that had been kept sweet by some secret method, and also a milk-pan of baldwin apples.

Janice and Marty got out the popper and the corn. Nelson made his fingers sore shelling the sharp-pointed kernels from the cobs, while Marty shook the popper over the fire in the kitchen range. Janice skimmed two pans of milk—each skimming, a “blanket” of thick, pale yellow lusciousness.

With bowls of cream and hot popcorn and the other goodies, they “managed to make out” a supper, as Aunt ’Mira depreciatingly said. The storm howled outside and when Walky was sped as the parting guest, it was into a world of swirling, raging snow that almost smothered the light of his lantern. He did not bother with the gate, but[305] walked out of the yard over the fence into Hillside Avenue.

“A good night to be in-doors,” said Uncle Jason, coming back to the fire. “I’m glad the critters air all well housed.”

“One sure thing, Broxton Day hasn’t got it as bad as this down there where he is, Janice,” said her aunt, consolingly. “It’s most always summer there, ain’t it?”

“I guess they have some bad weather where Daddy is,” confessed Janice. “I—I wish he were here.”

“Crickey! so do I,” agreed Marty. “I bet he could tell us something interesting.”

“Better than Walky’s bear stories?” laughed Nelson.

There was a little silence. The wind sounded as though it were choking to death in the chimney. Aunt ’Mira sighed.

“I do hope there’s nobody out in this storm,” she said. “We got lots o’ marcies to be thankful for.”

“We have that!” agreed her husband. “This is a pretty good Christmas.”

Janice smiled as she bent to thread her needle. Her mind had flashed back to the many, many complaining comments that had fallen from the lips of her uncle and aunt when first she had come to live[306] with them. How their circumstances and outlook on life had changed!

“And they have done it all themselves,” she murmured. “Only—they don’t know it!”

Nelson was watching her. Her nimble fingers played a pretty dance among the colored silks. She looked up to see him watching her, and her countenance was immediately glorified.

“Crickey!” drawled Marty, not understanding, “Janice is gittin’ prettier and prettier all the while.”

“That’s worth a Christmas present, sure enough, Marty,” she told him, laughing happily.

Uncle Jason yawned frankly and reached to take the big Bible down from its usual place on the corner of the mantel. Janice and her aunt put away their work. They all gathered closer about the stove as the head of the house opened The Book.

He read of that First Christmas and they listened with that feeling of growing tenderness which a reverent perusal of the story always induces. While the snow blanketed the Vermont village, they listened again to the happenings of that wondrous night in Palestine; and if the blizzard blew without, and the mountain shivered in the storm, their hearts within were warm and their souls comforted.

The reading ended, and Uncle Jason led in the evening prayer. Aunt ’Mira bustled about with the old-fashioned warming-pan. They took their candles and separated. Half an hour later when the[307] big clock in the hall hoarsely struck the hour of eleven it seemed to have the old Day house to itself, for all the inmates were asleep.

The blizzard blew itself out before Christmas Eve. The whole town turned out to shovel paths and plow out the roadway. For there was to be an occasion of much moment at the Union Church.

Polktown did not often have a church wedding—or a wedding of any kind as for that. Mr. Middler’s marriage fees would never make him rich.

There were no invitations sent out; Hopewell and Miss ’Rill had nobody but friends in the town and the entire congregation was welcome. Nor did any, as Walky Dexter said, but the lame, the halt and the blind fail to get to the church on Christmas Eve.

The Girls’ Guild had their entertainment in the afternoon; several of the smaller girls were to act with little Lottie as flower-girls at the wedding. And when the procession came in from the vestry and started down the aisle, it was a very pretty one indeed.

What matter if the organist got her numbers mixed and started to play “See the Conquering Hero Comes” instead of the usual “Here Comes the Bride”? As Marty observed, it might have been a whole lot worse; Mrs. Ebbie Stewart was awfully absent-minded.

But the wedding was a pronounced success. Miss[308] ’Rill, in her pretty, modest dress, and with her pink cheeks and fluffy hair, looked as sweet as any girl bride who had ever walked up the aisle of the old church. And during the last few months Hopewell had positively been growing younger.

Even Mrs. Scattergood could not cast gloom over the occasion. She found herself being congratulated after the ceremony by those who could not at first get to the bride and groom to shake hands with them. Everybody seemed to think it was such an eminently fitting wedding that even this opinionated old lady was swept away from the foundations of her former belief.

“Wal, wal!” she sniffed, wiping her eyes, and speaking to Janice. “I guess I don’t know nothin’. I must be gittin’ old. Nobody agrees with me that this is the foolishest marriage that ever happened in this town.”

“I should hope not, Mrs. Scattergood,” cried Janice, gaily. “I think it’s just lovely!”

“I’m behind the times then,” grumbled Mrs. Scattergood, shaking her head. “I’m a-goin’ home and sew up the slit in this dress o’ mine. I’m too old ter foller the fashions. Thank heaven! I didn’t try ter dance with this game leg.”

But Aunt ’Mira did not consider that the wedding made her feel old. She had dragged Uncle Jason out to it, dressed in his old wrinkled black suit. Her own gay apparel made him look particularly shabby.

[309]“It’s his own fault,” she declared to her niece. “He ain’t bought a new suit in ten year. But he’s a-goin’ to now. I’m a-goin’ to liven his old bones up—you see if I don’t!”

Which prophecy seemed likely to be fulfilled when, after the reception in the church, Mr. and Mrs. Day joined the closer friends of the happy pair at the Drugg place. There was supper, and speech-making, and reiterated congratulations.

The floor of the shop had been cleared, and offered a good-sized space for dancing. After the opening number, a square dance, when Hopewell and his bride led the figure, the storekeeper seized his own fiddle and played for the dancers.

There was a sudden explosion of expostulations in a corner and Uncle Jason was heard to announce: “I snum! yeou air bound to make a fule of me, Almiry, as well as of yerself.”

“We both of us hev been foolish long enough, Jason,” declared the heavy lady, with conviction. “We been gittin’ old afore our time. No more of it! Come on! Git up here with yer lawful wife an’ put yer best fut for’ard. Yeou useter be the best dancer in Polktown; now show the folks what yeou kin do.”

And, hilariously, yet perhaps with some moist eyes among them, the company gathered to see Aunt ’Mira lead her reluctant spouse out upon the floor. Aunt ’Mira was radiant—and wonderfully dressed![310] There was no younger feeling person in the house when Hopewell struck up a reel and Mr. and Mrs. Jason Day led the figure.

Janice and Nelson Haley danced in the same set, and were very happy. So did Frank Bowman and his sister, the latter welcomed for her brother’s sake if not for her own.

Uncle Jason began to get livened up. He found he had not forgotten the figures. When his wife was breathless he insisted upon dancing with Mrs. Scattergood, the lugubrious. Then he seized upon Janice, and finally he danced with the bride before the time came to go home.

The party broke up at an early hour, for the morrow’s morn was Christmas and, therefore, a busy one. It was a brilliant moonlight night as the merrymakers left the old store on the side street and struck out along the well-shoveled paths on their homeward way.

Janice and the school teacher were behind her aunt and uncle as they came out—the last of the company to leave. Miss ’Rill was briskly putting out the lamps in the store windows. But from the rear came the scraping of the old fiddle to the lilt of a lively tune again, and Janice and Nelson stepped off through the snow to the tune of

“Jingle bells! Jingle bells!
Jingle all the way.”


Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.

Archaic or variant spelling has been retained.