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Title: The four Corners in camp

Author: Amy Ella Blanchard

Illustrator: Wuanita Smith

Release date: June 26, 2023 [eBook #71044]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: George W. Jacobs & Company, 1910

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.)



Nan Went at it Heart and Soul

Nan Went at it Heart and Soul.

title page



George W. Jacobs & Company

Copyright, 1910, by
George W. Jacobs & Company
Published August, 1910

All rights reserved
Printed in U. S. A.


I. In Washington 9
II. In Portland 27
III. Cousin Maria 47
IV. The Start for Camp 67
V. Up the Mountain 83
VI. Canoeing 101
VII. A Rainy Day 119
VIII. An Early Dip 135
IX. Jack Has Adventures 153
X. The Boys 173
XI. Picnicking 191
XII. On Upper Pond 211
XIII. Lohengrin 229
XIV. The Birthday Party 247
XV. Before the Straw Ride    265
XVI. Miss Pinch 285
XVII. Nan Hears 303
XVIII. Breaking Camp 323
XIX. Mercedes Arrives 339
XX. The Wedding 359


Nan went at it heart and soul Frontispiece
“It was just like being a duck”Facing page 126
“Suddenly out darted a Mediæval Princess” ”       ”   176
A cavalcade went dashing by, a big bay in the lead ”       ”   300
Jo returned to do an Irish monologue ”       ”   336





The four Corners were occupying the four corners of the room. This may seem a rather peculiar statement until you realize that the first four Corners were called Nan, Mary Lee, Jack and Jean. Nan, the eldest, was bent over a table by the window in the west corner, Mary Lee was standing before the mirror in the east corner, Jack was sprawled out on the rug in the north corner, and Jean was in the south corner doing nothing in particular and looking abstractedly into space.

The last mentioned was the first to make a remark. “I think Washington is the most beautiful city in the world,” she said moving over to the window and gazing out at the avenue of trees which were fast turning to sunny yellow and brilliant green.

“Not lovelier than München, dear little München,” responded Nan.

“Nor prettier than Paris,” put in Jack.

“Well, I am not sure myself but Jean is right,” Mary Lee asserted. “If it isn’t already[12] the loveliest city it soon will be. Of course it isn’t quite as symmetrical as it might be, and all the funny little frame houses stuck in between stately mansions make it still look as if it wasn’t finished, but time will mend that.”

“It is like a country girl who comes to town wearing shabby gloves and shoes with a nice tailor-made gown,” Nan suggested. “Of course, after a while, when she has lived long enough, she will be quite finished in her dress, but now she still shows that she is young and a little provincial.”

“What a way to put it, Nan,” said Mary Lee.

“It is the way it impresses me,” returned her sister. “Didn’t you notice how raggety and taggety everything looked over here in our own country after Europe? How the fences and stretches of unkempt lots seemed so incomplete, and the poorer houses seemed little and mean instead of being picturesque, and how such things had a tumble-down raw sort of look? Of course I don’t say it will always be so, and in a short hundred years we shall be quite a sumptuous-appearing country, but as yet though we may be important looking we are not very picturesque. Think of those old, old palaces in Venice. Think of those castles along the Rhine, and all the ancient buildings that show[13] history in every feature. Yes, I must say that though we look prosperous we also look painfully new.”

Mary Lee laughed. “You talk like a lecturer,” she said. “Well, at any rate if we are modern we are mighty comfortable, and that suits me.”

“And we do have better things to eat here than we get anywhere else,” put in Jean.

“Bound for you to discover that,” laughed Nan.

“At all events,” Mary Lee went on, “I’m glad to be back again, and I think we have been mighty comfortable and have had a jolly good time this past winter. I’m not kicking, as Carter says.”

“Oh, dear me, neither am I,” replied Nan. “I was only comparing, that was all. I am an American, stars and stripes, spread eagle, Hail Columbia American, if you will have it, though of course I do want to go back to Europe some day, but I don’t want to live anywhere but in this blessed old stuck-up country of ours, and south of Mason and Dixon’s line at that. ‘I’ll live and die for Dixie.’”

“I am glad Washington is south of Mason and Dixon’s line,” remarked Mary Lee with satisfaction. “It certainly was good of Maryland to hand over a piece of herself to make[14] the District of Columbia for the seat of government.”

“Maryland has been a pretty good state anyhow,” Nan rejoined; “she stuck out, wouldn’t give in on that matter of the Western territory and she did a lot in all the wars. I am willing to concede a great deal to her though I stand up for Virginia first and foremost.”

“I should say so,” returned Mary Lee emphatically. “Well, I suppose we shall soon be leaving Washington. Have you heard mother or Aunt Helen say any more about the summer plans? It is time we were hearing from Jo and Danny. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could spend a few days with us in Portland before we branch off to wherever we are going?”

“It would be nice, for a fact. No, I haven’t heard a word about any plans; the only conclusion reached seems to be that we are to go to Portland and from there bring up somewhere. Mother thinks the seashore will not do for her, so I suppose it will be the mountains, or at least somewhere inland; they don’t seem to know exactly.”

“I haven’t a doubt but Danny would join us. Her uncle is so pleased with her progress that he allows her almost anything she asks. I suppose one reason is because she never asks unreasonable things, and is so sweet about giving[15] up when he wants her to. Jo would give anything to be with us, too, I know. Her last letter was a perfect wail; she is so afraid we will not stop in Boston, or will not get there before her school closes. She hasn’t yet recovered from our going to school in Washington instead of returning to the Wadsworth.”

“Oh, but dear me, it has been much better here. We have been able to live at home in this pleasant apartment, and mother has enjoyed it so much; it would have been folly to go back to the Wadsworth.”

“I think so, too,” said Jean coming into the conversation. “I did hate those Saturday night baked beans and never any of our own kinds of hot bread.”

The others laughed. “You certainly are a P. I. G., Jean,” said Nan, then, as Jean put on an injured look, “I mean a perfectly irresistible girl.”

“You didn’t mean that at all,” retorted Jean.

“I think they set a fairly good table at the Wadsworth,” Mary Lee asserted, “still nothing can ever come to one’s own home doings, of course.”

“These home doings were Aunt Helen’s doings,” Nan stated. “She wasn’t satisfied till she had made hundreds of inquiries and had seen dozens and dozens of apartments.”

[16]“It is funny how things turn out,” Mary Lee took up the thread again. “I suppose if we hadn’t met Miss Cameron when we were going to Spain we should never have come to Washington at all this year.”

“I am not so sure of that. I think Aunt Helen had her heart set on it some time ago; she has so many friends here, though we might not have gone to Miss Cameron’s school.”

“The thing I want to know,” said Jack, suddenly rousing herself from an absorbed attention to things out-of-doors, “is what are we going to do between now and the day we start for the North?”

“There are lots of things to do,” Nan told her.

“I think a good way would be to pick out what each one wants most to see,” said Jack; “the way we did in England, you know.”

“Well and good,” returned Nan. “Fire ahead, Jack, you lean damsel.”

“I’m not as lean as you are,” retorted Jack, “and I’d be as fat as Jean if I ate as much.”

“Why, my dear,” said Nan in pretended surprise, “I said Jacqueline, damsel.”

“You didn’t mean it that way at all; you just said the other to make fun of me,” insisted Jack.

“Prove it,” returned Nan good-naturedly.

[17]“Yes, you did,” Jean came to the rescue of her twin, “just like you called me a P. I. G. a while ago.”

“You’re such suspicious creatures,” responded Nan. “Let’s change the subject. Go on, Jack, what do you want most to see?”

“I want to go up the monument, or the dome of the Capitol once more,” she decided.

“Now, isn’t that like you? Nothing short of an aeroplane will ever satisfy you eventually, Jack. When you get to heaven you will wear out your wings before they are full fledged. What is your choice, Jean?”

“Oh, the Zoo, of course. There are some new animals there I want to see. You know I’m crite crazy to go there without crestioning.”

“I know you are crite craulified to be craurrelsome to-day, and that I am in a craundary myself.”

“Oh, Nan,” protested Jean with irritation, “you are so horrid when you mock us that way.”

“I’ll be good, I promise you,” replied Nan. “What about you, Mary Lee? Do you want to go to the Zoo, too?”

“Perhaps, but I must go once again to the Smithsonian. I expected to know it by heart by this time, but the chances to go have really been very few.”

[18]“Well, I am divided between the Government greenhouses and the Corcoran Art Gallery,” Nan told them. “Perhaps I shall have time for both. I declare I shall really be sorry to leave Washington; it is a pretty nice sort of place when you come to think of all there is to see and of all the pleasant things that are going on all the time.”

“We ought to go to Arlington and Fort Myer before we leave; it is lovely there this time of year, they say.”

“Here comes Aunt Helen looking as if she had some scheme afoot. Perhaps she has decided about the summer plan.”

“How would you all like to drive to Fort Myer to see the cavalry drill this afternoon?” said Miss Helen coming in.

“We were just talking about that very thing,” cried Mary Lee. “It would be fine, Aunt Helen.”

“I think you would be interested and it is a lovely afternoon. Your mother doesn’t care to go out for she has been shopping all morning, so if you will get ready we can start off in about half an hour.”

It was already June and there was a feeling of summer in the warm air. The season comes early to the capital and the gardens were gay with flowers; roses clambered over porches and[19] windows, fountains were playing, and grass was green in the parks. Those who summered away were fast leaving and the streets were not so full of people as earlier. Old Georgetown retained its usual quiet, broken at intervals by a passing trolley-car or an automobile climbing up the steep streets.

“There is one thing I like about Washington,” remarked Nan as the carriage turned to cross the Aqueduct bridge, “we need only to pass over the Potomac and we are in Virginia, and we can, moreover, see the shores of our native state any time we choose. How lovely the green banks look, Aunt Helen.”

“And the river, too,” said Jack. “I like those places where the trees bend over to look at themselves in the water.”

Nan smiled at her little sister. Jack was wont once in a while to surprise her by some such remark. She was a harum-scarum little somebody, very sociable and impulsive though warm-hearted and with a fearless spirit.

“And now we are in Virginia,” she went on as the carriage left the bridge for the road.

“I don’t feel a bit different,” remarked her twin.

“Oh, don’t you? I do,” declared Jack. “I feel as if the blackberry bushes and sumachs and the trees all belong to me.”

[20]I hear a bugle call,” said Mary Lee. “We must be near the post.”

They soon drew up amid a line of carriages overlooking the parade ground where a body of cavalry went through the manœuvres. Horses dashed hither and thither, there was a clash of sabres, a flash of steel as the riders wheeled into position; then came the thud of horses’ hoofs as they responded to orders. At last, after a furious gallop and a mad slashing at pretended foes, the drill was over and the carriages turned away.

“I liked it,” cried Jack. “Wasn’t it exciting when they waved their sabres and went tearing around the field? I imagined them swooping down upon the Indians when they did that.”

“I saw one man thrown,” said Mary Lee, “and his horse just trotted off to his place in the stables quite as a matter of course. Wasn’t that sensible?”

The driver by whose side she was sitting smiled. “Dem beases has lots o’ sense, miss. Dese yer ones o’ mine don’ lak nothin’ bettah dan goin’ to one o’ dese yer drills. Dey knows jes’ as well when we turns fo’ de bridge. Did yuh see how dey kep’ a-lookin’ an’ a-lookin’ lak dey want ter be in de fiel’ deyselves?”

“Oh, no, I didn’t; I was so interested myself. I wish I had noticed them. They are nice horses,”[21] she added; “so sleek and well kept.” It was a joy to her to discover a driver fond of his horses.

They drove on to Arlington, that fair estate, and all were silent as they went through the embowered avenues where lay the quiet soldiers who were at peace after great conflict. The elder girls and Miss Helen were more than usually moved, for the old home of the Lees had been that of their own kin, so they talked but little and were glad to pass out of the gates before the sunset gun gave notice of closing. Across the river arose the domes and spires of the capital city with the shaft of the monument white against the sky.

“We’re going up that to-morrow,” announced Jack.

“I’m not,” declared Jean; “I’m going to the Zoo with Mary Lee.”

“Then you don’t want to go Juning to the Great Falls with me?” said their aunt.

“’Deed and ’deed we do,” cried Jack. “We didn’t know that was on.”

“Is it to be a picnic, Aunt Helen? Won’t that be fun?” said Jean.

“Would you rather go there, to Alexandria, or to Mount Vernon?” asked Miss Helen.

“We’ve been to Mount Vernon,” said Nan; “it would seem more picnicky to go to the Falls, don’t you think?”

[22]“Time was when it was very picnicky to go to Mount Vernon,” said Miss Helen reminiscently. “I can remember when I was a girl that we used to take luncheon and eat it on the grass there in front of the house. Visitors were few then and the regulations were much less formal; one almost felt as if she were visiting the family, we were given such freedom. We could always get milk from the dairy, could have a clipping from the garden, and had access to many places which now are shut away from the public.”

“Then I shouldn’t think you would care to go there at all.”

“It doesn’t seem much of a privilege in comparison with the old free and easy times.”

“Then we will vote for the Falls. Don’t you say so?” Nan appealed to her sisters, who all agreed that it would be much more like going a-Maying, or a-Juning as Miss Helen called it, if they took a luncheon to the woods instead of making a pilgrimage to Washington’s old home.

As usual Jean was most particular in the matter of what was to fill the lunch baskets and superintended in person the making of sundry special sandwiches, the buying of a large bottle of stuffed olives, and the careful packing of certain rich little cakes, so that her individual basket showed no frugal meal. As Jack always[23] depended upon receiving a share of her twin’s provisions she did not trouble herself to look out for more than crackers and cheese and a little fruit while Nan with Mary Lee’s help saw to it that there was enough for a substantial luncheon in the basket which was to serve themselves and Miss Helen.

Their way took them up the Virginia side of the river to where the water of the Potomac dashed madly over the rocks in furious eddys and fierce whirlpools, being whipped into froth as it was carried noisily on to the clearer and quieter waters below.

“If it were in Europe or even in New England,” remarked Nan when they had seated themselves on the river’s bank and were contemplating the rushing stream, “this spot would be advertised and made one of the places to which tourists would flock from all parts of the country, but here it is not generally spoken of and one may say is scarcely known.”

“I am glad it is so,” declared Jack. “I like it just naturally wild and the way it has been all these years. I don’t like the cleaned up places, so neat and exact, all walled in and set around by particular foot-paths with ‘Keep off the grass’ signs everywhere, and ‘Admission twenty-five cents’ at the entrance.”

“That’s where we agree, my dear,” Nan told[24] her. “But, Jack, my honey, don’t try any dangerous leaps or adventurous heights as you are so fond of doing. Once you get caught in those rapids there is an end to Jacqueline Corner; we couldn’t possibly get you out.”

Jack peered seriously down into the seething waters. Nan’s words were sufficiently terrifying to keep her away from ticklish places, and she made no random ventures.

“It would be nice to camp up here,” remarked Mary Lee as she munched a jam sandwich.

“Not as nice as some other places,” returned her aunt. “That gives me an idea, girls. I’ll follow it up. Why didn’t I think of it before? Capital! Just the thing! Why, of course it is! How stupid of me.”

“You are so mysteriously disjointed, Aunt Helen,” cried Nan. “What are you talking about?”

“I can’t tell you exactly, myself, but you shall know to-morrow. I’ll go to see Miss Stewart this very evening.”

This only whetted the curiosity of the girls, but their aunt changed the subject and refused utterly to tell them what she had in mind. Therefore they sat contentedly under the trees while they finished eating their lunch, looking across at the shining length of canal, and the[25] tossing tumult of water between them and the verdant heights of Maryland’s shores.

But Miss Helen was evidently so eager to further her plans that she hurried them back before the afternoon was over and while the hucksters were still crying strawberries in the drowsy streets of Georgetown and the bugle calls at Fort Myer announced that the cavalry drill was in progress.






What was in Aunt Helen’s mind was made clear the next morning at breakfast when she asked, “How should you all like camping out in Maine?”

“Fine! Perfectly splendid. We’d love it above all things. Great!” came from various quarters. “So that is what you were talking of yesterday, Aunt Helen. Do tell us all about it.”

“Well, I followed out my intention of going to see Miss Stewart, who not long ago was telling me of her very pleasant experience last summer when she went to a camp in Maine. Her report was so good that I continued the matter by calling on Miss Marshall, who is one of the two ladies having the camp in charge. Everything appears so favorable that after talking it over with your mother we have concluded it will be the best thing for every one concerned to spend some time at this special camp, and I shall telephone Miss Marshall at once that she may count upon our party.”

[30]“Exactly where is it?” asked Nan.

“On a lake not far from the border lines of Maine and New Hampshire, with the White Mountains in sight, and a spur of them near enough for any one to climb who feels so disposed.”

“Lovely! Go on. What are we to do there?”

“You can have a canoe, two, if you choose, and learn to paddle them.”

“Delicious thought,” cried Mary Lee.

“You will be able to take a walking tour up the mountain, sleeping out in the open in order to be on hand to see the sunrise.”

“Capital idea!” This from Nan. “What else?”

“Oh, you can roam the woods, read, play games, drive, do anything that comes to hand.”

“Shall we sleep in tents?” asked Jack.

“You girls will, though I believe there are two or three cabins; your mother and I will occupy one.”

“Shall we have good things to eat?” asked Jean a little anxiously.

“Miss Stewart says so. Miss Marshall takes a real Southern cook from here, so we can count on hot bread at least. Plenty of fresh milk and butter are provided, vegetables from neighboring[31] farms and fruit, too, so that it sounds most alluring.”

“I should say it did,” returned Mary Lee. “It is the very nicest thing possible. I am crazy about it, and it will do us all so much good to live out-of-doors, mother especially. When do we start, Aunt Helen?”

“The camp opens the first of July, but I think we shall start on somewhat earlier than that and take a week in Portland. It will be a good centre for some excursions and we shall enjoy a short stay there, I am sure.”

“’Way up in Maine; think of it,” said Jack. “I never expected to go there.”

“But we were nearly there when we went to the Wadsworth school,” objected Jean.

“I don’t call Massachusetts nearly,” returned Jack.

“Do we have to provide anything special?” asked Nan.

“Yes, I believe you are required to have certain things.”

“And what are they?”

“Bloomers, short skirts, flannel shirts or jumpers, blankets and pillows; if there is anything else I have forgotten, but there is plenty of time to find out.”

“What fun. May we go right away and get the things we know we shall need?”

[32]“You may if you like. I think I can go with you this morning. It behooves us not to be too leisurely about it for June is upon us and your mother wants to escape the hot weather of Washington. It will be much pleasanter to wait in Portland for July than here.”

So that very day there was a shopping expedition to the Boston store, to Kann’s and to various other places which should supply the needs a camping out would mean. Then speedily as might be, the start for the North was made; Washington’s broad avenues were exchanged for the clean, hilly streets of Portland, swept by sea-breezes and quiet enough after the busy cities of New York and Boston, to each of which they had given a day. Neither place was unfamiliar, therefore there was no sightseeing, only a flying visit to see their dear friends Mr. Pinckney and Miss Dolores in New York, and from Boston a trip out to the Wadsworth school to visit some of their schoolmates of two years before. Charlotte Loring had entered college and her face was missed, but Jo Keyes and Daniella Scott were on hand overjoyed to see the four Corners.

The idea of camp appealed to both, to Daniella especially, for she had begun life in the woods and its wildness still suggested the freedom and unhampered days of her childhood. “I know[33] papa will let me go if I ask him,” she said when they urged her to be one of the party.

Jo, however, when they put the question to her, shook her head. “Too expensive a treat for this child. Something like a pitch-your-tent-on-our-back-lot would suit my purse better, none of your modern elegancies such as summer camps are. If you had suggested my packing my tent and my clothes in a canoe, lugging it across country on my back and dumping it down by Lake Memphramagog or Molechunkemunk Lake or some such Indian haunted spot, I might consider it, but as it is, nay, nay, Pauline; Josephine has not the price.”

But here, as often before, Miss Helen came to the rescue, and after marching Jo up and down the porch for a few minutes, during which there was earnest conversation, the two returned to the group sitting at the further end, and Miss Helen announced, “It is settled. Jo is going with us.”

“If my family consent,” put in Jo as a proviso.

“Of course they will consent,” said Nan. “You know they will. My, but that is fine, Jo. We consider you a great acquisition to our party.”

“Thanky kindly, marm. I’m ready to dance a jig for sheer joy. After all these months of separation you Corners seem more desirable[34] than ever. Next year it’s a greasy grind for Jo if she goes to college, for she will have to put herself through by sewing on skirt braids or doing some such menial work for the rest.”

The idea of Jo sewing on skirt braids or anything else was so funny that they all laughed. “Do try some other stunt than sewing, Jo,” Nan proposed, “for I am sure your needle will never put you through anything.”

“You don’t know what I can do till I try. I am like the man who was asked if he could play the violin, you know; he said he couldn’t tell for he had never tried.”

“What about you, Danny?” asked Mary Lee. “Of course you will write to Mr. Scott at once.”

“Of course I shall. Let me see, the first of July is not three weeks off, and school closes in less than a week; there will be about ten days in between.”

“Oh, well, we can easily put in that time somewhere; I can go to Aunt Kit’s; she wants me,” said Jo.

“And you will see Bruce,” exclaimed Jean. “How is he getting along, Jo?”

“Finely. You never saw a cat more made of. What shall you do with your in-between, Danny?”

“Louise Burnett has been asking me for a[35] visit after school closes, and so has Effie Glenn.”

“Dear me,” ejaculated Nan, “how this all does remind me of the old days. Has Blue China another parrot, Jo?”

“No, thank goodness, and this year she has been away a good deal so we have been spared her prim presence.”

“Reminiscing does so fly away with time,” remarked Mary Lee as she looked at her watch. “We must go if we are to get back to mother in time for dinner. Well, girls, it isn’t good-bye, it is only auf wiedersehn.”

“Or hasta luego,” put in Mary Lee who preferred Spanish for reasons of her own.

“You are such a darling, Aunt Helen,” whispered Nan when they were seated in the train. “It was just dear of you to do that for Jo.”

“I like Jo,” returned Miss Helen, “and I think she ought to be given every chance. She has improved wonderfully.”

“Yes, I must say that she has. She used to be the slangiest creature I ever saw; she is not near so boisterous either.”

“It seemed to me that it would be just as well if she didn’t go home this summer. I don’t think her stepmother is the slightest advantage to her.”

“Far from it. Well, if she does get through[36] college she will then be able to make her own way and live her own life. Isn’t Danny a beauty? but she always was. Talk about improvement, there you have it. You never hear her say nowadays such things as: ‘she gave it to you and I,’ or ‘those sort of girls.’ Dear me, we had a struggle with her to get those two things all right. Now she seems like any other nice girl and she visits the Burnetts and the Glenns constantly. The Glenns are so very fond of her, and the Burnetts want her to spend the summer with them at their seashore cottage.”

“She will enjoy the camp far more.”

“I am sure of it; one could see how eager she was.”

Portland reached there were three weeks still before them, but these were by no means slow in passing. A trip to the beautiful Songo River, to the various islands in charming Casco Bay, to the old town of Brunswick to see Bowdoin College and the old Longfellow house; there was no lack of places to go and at the end of two weeks they had not exhausted all their resources, then suddenly upon the scene appeared an entirely unlooked-for figure. The meeting came about in this way: Miss Helen was making some purchases in one of Portland’s pleasant shops when a gaunt, weather-beaten woman happened[37] to be standing by her side. She was peculiarly dressed, wearing men’s boots and a man’s coat rather the worse for wear; on her head was a nondescript hat and her bony, gloveless hands gave evidence of rough work. As Miss Helen gave her name and address the woman looked at her sharply, then followed her to the next counter before which she stopped.

“Excuse me,” began the stranger, “but I heard you give the name of Corner. We don’t have that name up here, but my mother had relatives of that name; she hasn’t heard from ’em for years, but she would be that pleased if you happened to know any of the family in Virginia. You speak like a Virginian and that’s why I made bold to mention it.”

“I am from Virginia, and my name is Corner,” returned Miss Helen. “What is your mother’s name?”

“She’s a Hooper now. My father was Everett Hooper, but her maiden name was Daingerfield and she was from Albemarle County, Virginia. Maria Carter Daingerfield was her name before she was married.”

“Why, of course; she was my mother’s first cousin, I suspect. I’ve often and often heard my mother tell the story of how Maria Daingerfield was carried off prisoner by a Yankee officer; that is the way she used to put it.”

[38]“Yes, and that’s the way my mother still puts it. Well, well, well, won’t she be pleased when I tell her?”

“She is still living?”

“Yes, but pretty feeble, keeps her room winters altogether. I do wish, Miss Corner, that you could find an opportunity to come to see her. We live up Sebago way; it’s easy getting there. You could take the train to Sebago and I’d meet you, and if you could just set the day. Are you alone here?”

“No, cousin—— Is your name Maria, too?”

“I’m Phebe, Cousin Phebe, if you like. No’m, I’m unmarried; I’m still Phebe Hooper.”

“And I am still Helen Corner. My brother’s widow and her four girls are here with me in Portland.”

“Fetch ’em along if they’d like to come. Come all of you and spend the day. My, my, it’ll be like a breath of summer from the pines to mother. Dear suz, I’m that excited I dunno as I shan’t miss my train. When did you say you’d come?”

Miss Helen thought rapidly. “Where did you say it was?”

“About two miles from Sebago.”

“And that’s on the way to Fryeburg, isn’t it?”


“Then we might stop off on our way to camp.”

“Be you going to camp? Well, I declare. I cal’late you’d be just as well off under a roof, but every one to his taste. When you going?”

“In about a week or ten days.”

“Why can’t you come make us a visit and stay that time? Where you putting up?”

“At the La Fayette.”

“Dear me, we can’t give you hotel accommodations, but if you can be content in our two spare rooms we’ll make you as comfortable as we can in a farmhouse.”

“Oh, my dear Cousin Phebe, you are too kind; we couldn’t think of bearing down upon you with such a legion, but we shall be delighted to spend the day.”

Miss Phebe looked a little relieved. She did not wish to seem wanting in that Southern hospitality whose traditions her mother had struggled to keep alive, but to take in six strangers with their baggage would have been an undertaking rather beyond her powers. “Then just name the day,” she said, “and I’ll meet you. There is a good morning train and it isn’t much of a trip. The sooner the better, for mother’s feeling right smart now. She has a spell once in a while but she had one[40] last week and I cal’late she won’t have another for a while.”

“Then shall we say day after to-morrow?”

“That’ll suit first-rate. Give me time to get mother prepared. I’ll be at the station sure. Good-bye. I’m so pleased to have met you. I’ll look for you Thursday if it don’t rain.” She picked up the net bag she carried and hurried off, Miss Helen looking after with an amused smile.

“Mary,” she said to her sister-in-law when she returned to the hotel, “did we ever suppose we should pick up a relative here away down east?”

“Why, Helen, who is it? I’m sure I know of no one.”

“Who is it, Aunt Helen?” asked Nan looking up from some post cards she had bought that day.

“Well, my dear, her name is Phebe Hooper.”

“Never heard of her.”

“Neither did I,” declared Mrs. Corner.

“Wait a minute. Surely you have heard of Maria Daingerfield.”

“Now I begin to see light. She is the one of whom the elder members of the family speak with bated breath because she married a Yankee officer. Her father practically disowned[41] her, didn’t he? Cut her off with a shilling, so to speak?”

“Yes, poor man, if he had so much as a shilling when the war was over. He was very bitter, I believe, and I have heard mother say that Cousin Maria had practically no intercourse with her family after she went North to live. Well, my dear, I have this morning met her daughter Phebe Hooper, a rough and ready sort of person, but I imagine she is as good as gold. At any rate she is good to her mother and wanted the whole party of us to come make them a visit. Of course I knew it was out of the question to think of quartering six absolute strangers upon them, but I liked her for asking; it showed that there was a lot of her mother in her, though she talks like a Yankee, not of the best class, either, and doesn’t look like any of our family that I ever saw. Well, we compromised by my promising to take you all to spend the day with them on Thursday. They live in the country near Sebago and I think that it will not only be a pleasure to us but one to Cousin Maria, as well. She is quite an invalid from rheumatism. It will be a great thing for her to hear of her old home and those relatives we know something about.”

“Won’t it be a lark?” said Nan. “Poor old dear! Imagine living all your life away from[42] Virginia when you were born there.” She spoke with such fervency that Miss Helen laughed.

“You are the most loyal girl, Nan. You lead us to suppose that there is but one state worth while and that it is our own.”

“Nan is a true Virginian,” said Mrs. Corner. “She probably will admit that there are advantages elsewhere, but that preëminent above all other spots is her native state. She feels a little sorry, I think, for those who were not born in the Old Dominion.”

“I believe I do,” Nan acknowledged thoughtfully.

“Rather conservative and provincial, Nan,” warned Miss Helen. “You’ll have to learn to be more cosmopolitan than that, else we shall have to keep you traveling till you do see that each country, each state or city has its own attractions and can make some claim over the rest. All are not entirely good.”

“Munich came pretty near it,” said Nan with a thought to the charming German city where they had spent six months.

“You are making progress if you can admit that much and yield it claims over Virginia.”

“It has different attractions, of course, but——”

“Exactly. That is what I have been saying.[43] No place on earth has everything, but to return to Cousin Maria. Shall you all be ready to take an early train? And, Mary, do rack your brain for reminiscences for the entertainment of Cousin Maria. I am sure she will want to know all about every Tom, Dick and Harry who was ever related to her in the remotest degree.”

“We’ll be ready, won’t we?” Nan turned to Mary Lee who promised that she would for one, then scenting a romance she said:

“How did it happen that she married a Yankee officer?”

“Quite in the approved way of romances. During a battle which took place in the neighborhood, Captain Hooper was wounded and was brought into the house. Cousin Maria’s father was in the Confederate army, so were her two brothers; both brothers were killed, by the way, and that was one reason for her father’s great bitterness of spirit. Cousin Maria, her mother and her old mammy nursed Captain Hooper and in due course of time the young people fell in love with one another, which was a perfectly natural sequel. Well, he went away, Maria’s secretly accepted lover. Later on the invading army burned the house to the ground, which naturally added to old Colonel Daingerfield’s bitterness, as it was the[44] home of his forefathers. Maria, her mother and the old mammy took refuge with a neighbor. The colonel’s rage, distress and despair made him so violent that he could say nothing but evil of those who fought on the other side, and once when he learned that Maria had received a letter from an officer in the Federal army his fury knew no bounds. So, poor Maria felt that it would be useless ever to expect his consent to her marriage with her lover, though she managed to get letters through the lines to him once in a while. After a while when everything they possessed was swept away, and her mother died, she was in despair. Her father was either gloomy, severe and forbidding or in a paroxysm of rage when the future was mentioned, so she decided that she would go to her lover whenever he could plan for their marriage, then a little later on, when his company was encamped near the town where she was staying, he dashed in one night with a couple of horses, and, as she always maintained, literally carried her off prisoner. They were married at once by the chaplain of the regiment and she went to Washington to some friends there to remain till the war was over. She never saw any of her people again.”

“I think that is a most thrilling tale,” said Mary Lee. “I am fairly tingling with excitement,[45] and I am so glad we are going to see the heroine of such a story. Do you believe she will tell us more about it? I should like to hear all the details.”

“Perhaps she will, though it may be that she will not care to talk of it.”

“Did her father never forgive her?” asked Jack, who had been listening.

“I don’t know that. I hope so, though he can scarcely be blamed if he didn’t. She was his only remaining child, and he felt that she had deserted him, her home and the cause, not to mention her relatives.”

“I couldn’t desert my family for any man,” said Jack positively.

“I expect she was awfully homesick,” remarked Jean.

“I’d like to take her something, Aunt Helen,” said Jack.

“What should you like to take her, Jack?”

“Something from Virginia, if I had it.”

Mrs. Corner and Miss Helen exchanged glances. Jack was the most warm-hearted child in the world and the thought was quite in character. “I brought away some snap-shots of the old home and some of the scenery around,” said Mrs. Corner. “They are some Dr. Woods sent me, but I can get duplicates, I know. How[46] should you like to get a small album to put them in and give that to Cousin Maria?”

“The very thing!” exclaimed Jack. “That is a darling idea, mother.”

“I’ll show them to you if you will get them from my room,” said Mrs. Corner. “They are on the shelf where the clock is, and are in a blue envelope. We can select whatever seems suitable.”

Jack ran off highly pleased, but leaving all the others busily thinking what they could carry as gifts to their down-east cousin.





The romance surrounding Cousin Maria’s early days gave zest to the expedition upon which the Corners started on the day appointed. Each was provided with some gift; Jack, of course, carried her book of photographs, Mary Lee took a little Indian basket, Jean had a box of peppermints. “Old ladies always like peppermints,” she said. Nan had wavered between a volume of Father Ryan’s poems and one of Thomas Nelson Page’s collections of stories, but finally decided upon the latter as perhaps Cousin Maria did not care for poetry.

It was not a long trip, and when they alighted at the station it was still rather early in the day. Miss Phebe was there to meet them, “booted and spurred,” as Nan said afterward. If the children had not been prepared, and if they had not been too polite to stare, they certainly would have gazed in amazement at the odd figure which presented itself to their view as they stood waiting on the platform. Miss Helen made the proper introductions which Miss Phebe acknowledged in the set phrase, “Pleased to meet you,”[50] and with a funny little bob of the head. She led the way to a weather-beaten old buggy, mud-splashed and dingy. “I cal’lated one of you could ride in here with me,” she said, “and the rest could go with Nathan in the wagon. He’s put a lot of clean straw in, and I guess you’ll go comfortable.”

“Oh, a straw ride? What fun!” cried Jack, to whom most novelties were agreeable. “Aunt Helen, you can sit with the driver if you want to.” As Jack always claimed this privilege for herself, Miss Helen was fain to believe that either she was disposed to sacrifice herself to her aunt’s comfort, or that riding on the straw-strewn floor of the wagon held superior charms, so she smilingly acquiesced. They all clambered in after Mrs. Corner had taken her place in the buggy, and the start was made in a merry mood.

Nathaniel, or Nat, as he preferred to be called, was a shrewd-looking, lank young man, younger than his length of limb and huge fists would indicate. He spoke in a high key with a slow, soft drawl and was not backward in asking questions, though he vouchsafed replies to those Miss Helen put to him, and by reason of which she learned that he was Miss Phebe’s sole assistant except when the apples were to be gathered or some other crop should be brought in.

[51]“Me and her runs the place,” said Nat. “She works as good as a man when it comes to some things. No, marm, she ain’t no hired girl. I fetch in the milk; she tends to it. I look after the stawk, caow, and three hawses; she tends to the fowls. We got a sight of apples last fall, great crawp. I tended to gittin’ of ’em in, she tended to shippin’ of ’em. Taters same way. Yes, marm, we got a pretty good garden, not so smart-looking as old Adam Souleses maybe, but I ain’t ashamed of it. First corn I put in, didn’t the crows get every namable bit? Wal, I rigged up a scarecrow and got out my shotgun, so I guess the second crawp’ll stay where it was put. Your folks raise a sight of corn down your way, don’t ye? Use it, too, I hear. I ain’t a mite stuck on corn bread myself. She makes good sody biscuits, though the old lady does complain she makes ’em too precious big. I like ’em that way. Don’t have to say ‘Pass them biscuits,’ so often, or if they’re on the other side of the table you don’t have to rise every few minutes to fork one over. It’s a right sightly place, ain’t it?” He pointed with his whip to a low white house whose barn was in such close proximity as to be literally under the same roof. An extensive apple orchard, whose blossoming was just over, stretched for some distance on one side. Two poplars stood[52] in front of the house and a weeping willow upon the modest lawn around which the roadway extended. “That’s our tater patch.” Nat indicated a field which they were passing. “We grow ’em big up here.”

“They’re not the only things you grow big,” Miss Helen could not forbear saying with a glance at the display of ankle below the blue jeans.

Nat burst into a loud guffaw. “That’s right I swan it don’t seem as if I’d ever stop growing, and these here pants hitches up higher every time they come out of wahsh. Look at them sleeves, too.” He stretched out a mighty arm which showed several inches of red wrist below the band. “I won’t come of age for three years nearly, and look at me, bigger’n git out. My grandfather was just that way, growed and growed till they had to pile bricks on his head to keep him down so he could stand up in the settin’-room.” He gave a wink over his shoulder at Jack, who was taking this all in.

“What became of your grandfather?” asked Jack, standing up and hanging on the seat where her aunt sat. “Did he keep on growing?”

“No, he stopped short of six foot six, and when he died there wa’n’t no coffin big enough for him. Had to send to Portland and have[53] one made special. They didn’t surmise he’d need it so soon or they might have had it ready beforehand so’s not to put the funeral off like they had to.”

“Did he die suddenly?” asked Jack, interested in this lugubrious subject.

“Yes, marm. Died awful suddent. Got up as well as you or me, eat his breakfast, tended to his hawse, white hawse he had, come in the house, fetched a few hacks and went.”

Jack sidled over toward her aunt and whispered, “What does he mean by hacks? Did he keep a livery stable?”

Miss Helen could scarcely keep her face sufficiently grave to whisper back: “No, dear, he means he coughed once or twice.”

“Wal, here we are and here we be,” announced Nat, drawing up his horses before the gate. “I see Miss Phebe’s got ahead of us, but what can ye expect with a load of six and her with only them two. Jest wait, marm, and I’ll lift ye down.” He performed this office, if rather ungracefully, certainly skilfully, for he swung the little figure of Miss Helen to the ground as if she were a bag of potatoes. The others clambered out at the tail of the wagon and went forward to where Mrs. Corner and Miss Phebe stood on the little porch before the door. On either side lilacs were in bloom[54] and a climbing rose was trained over the window.

The entry, covered with oilcloth, separated parlor from sitting-room. The former, opened only on state occasion, had a queer, musty smell, as of a place seldom aired. Haircloth covered furniture stood at stiff angles. A marble-topped table bore a lamp, a photograph album, one or two books and ornaments. There were two crayon portraits on the wall, one of Captain Hooper in uniform, another of a young woman with two children by her side. The four girls disposed themselves upon the long sofa which stood primly against the wall.

“Isn’t it stuffy?” said Jack in a low tone to Nan.

Nan nodded.

“Why don’t they open the windows this lovely day, so the smell of the lilacs can come in?” continued Jack.

Nan shook her head at the questioner, for Miss Phebe appeared upon the threshold. “Mother’ll be pleased to see you,” she said, addressing Miss Helen. “I think, if you’ll excuse me,” she turned to the girls, “that she’d better not see you all at once; it might be too exciting for her; she’s not used to much company. Do you mind waiting till she’s got accustomed to your mother and aunt?”

[55]The girls assured her that they did not mind in the least.

“If you’ll entertain yourselves with any of the books or things, we won’t be long,” continued Miss Phebe apologetically. “There’s a box of shells on the lower shelf of the whatnot; you might like to look at them. My Grandfather Hooper was a seafaring man, and he brought them home from foreign parts. Some of them are real pretty.” She stooped down, lifted the box and set it on the broad window-sill, then she conducted Miss Helen and Mrs. Corner to the room across the entry.

While the twins took possession of the box of shells Nan and Mary Lee made a survey of the books on the table.

“They’re awfully stupid,” declared Mary Lee, reading the titles: “‘History of Cumberland County,’ ‘The Life of General Grant,’ ‘Aids to the Young.’ What a funny old book. Thomson’s ‘Seasons,’ Young’s ‘Night Thoughts.’ Do look here, Nan, at the illustrations; aren’t they weird? Oh, dear, I’d hate to be shut up long in this house. Do you suppose we dare to open a window or go out-of-doors?”

Nan laid down a copy of Shakespeare she had found. “I don’t know,” she replied. “Perhaps we’d better not take any liberties. I don’t[56] suppose it will be long before we shall be summoned.”

“Do look at this carpet,” continued Mary Lee; “isn’t it hideous? And whoever heard of keeping a carpet down all the year round? And those portraits are ghastly. Is the lady Cousin Maria, do you reckon, and is the little girl Cousin Phebe? I seem to distinguish a faint likeness.”

“I should think it might be she. Let’s look through the photographs, then maybe we can trace her all along succeeding years.”

They took the red morocco album over to one of the windows and began to turn its pages, once or twice happening upon some photograph familiar to them. “That’s Cousin Martin Boyd,” cried Nan. “He is in Aunt Helen’s album at home, the old one that was her mother’s. And oh, Mary Lee, the lady in hoops and a funny bonnet is Grandma Corner herself. It isn’t a bit like the lovely portrait that used to be at Uplands, but I recognize her. And there is father when he was a youngster. Don’t you remember it? I fancy that very fierce-looking individual in Confederate uniform is Cousin Maria’s father. The others must all be Hoopers by the cut of the jib.”

“I don’t think they’re a very interesting lot,” remarked Mary Lee, viewing the series of[57] stiffly posed persons, bearded men in long-tailed coats, women in hooped petticoats and beruffled gowns worn long on the shoulder, and with hair arranged in waterfall curls. “They take much better photographs now,” she commented.

“Of course. Probably the art was in its infancy when these were taken.”

“Certainly these people weren’t,” returned Mary Lee. “They look as ancient as the hills, even the children.”

“Here comes Cousin Phebe with an order for our release,” said Nan. So they put the album back on the table and stood waiting.

“Mother’s ready now,” announced Miss Phebe. “She was quite overcome and I had to give her some drops, but now that she’s over the excitement of the meeting she is quite happy and wants to see Grace Corner’s grandchildren, she says.”

The girls filed in procession across the hall to the door of the sitting-room which Miss Phebe opened disclosing a bright, cheerful room with plants in the windows, a red table-cloth on the table, a bright carpet, a sideboard set off with silver and glass. By an open fire sat a little white-haired old lady in black gown and white cap who looked up expectantly as the children entered. “Come right along, my[58] dears,” she said in a pleasant voice. “This is a great day for me. You’ll excuse my rising, I’m so stiff with rheumatism.”

The girls came forward and stood a-row, Mrs. Hooper scanning each one in turn as they were presented by name. “Nancy looks like the Corners,” she decided, “Mary Lee like her mother’s family; the others are composite; they are twins, you said, Phebe.”

“Yes, mother.”

“Little Jack Corner’s children. He was such a boy when he went into the army. I remember well the day he came over to tell us he was going. Dear me, dear me, so long ago, so long and here I am a New Englander. Dear me, dear me.” She shook her head as she looked from one to the other. All the old memories were stirred by this sudden appearance of her kin.

Then the presentation of gifts took place, a process which while it greatly pleased Cousin Maria reduced her to tears. “To think of it, Phebe,” she whimpered, “my own flesh and blood kin and they’ve brought me gifts as if they had known me all their lives. Oh, there are none like them, none like my own people down South.”

“Now, mother,” said Miss Phebe in a tone which sounded severe, but which really arose[59] from hurt feelings, “I hope you remember that father and I weren’t from down South.”

“Oh, you’re a good child, Phebe; I know that, and Everett was a good, kind husband, but you are both alien, alien.”

This was pretty hard on Miss Phebe considering she had always been the most dutiful and conscientious of daughters and sacrificed herself daily for her mother, but as Miss Helen said afterward, “the Daingerfields always were sentimental,” so Cousin Maria was allowed to have her little weep and then recovered herself enough to become quite animated over the gifts, all of which pleased her mightily, though the photographs seemed to possess the greatest value in her eyes.

Miss Phebe slipped out, the duties of hostess and cook so clashing that she was put to it in trying to fill both offices suitably. “Phebe’s a good child; a better daughter than I deserve,” sighed Cousin Maria. “She is a Hooper to the back-bone, I can tell you that; just like her father’s people.” She turned suddenly and laid her hand on Miss Helen’s arm. “Oh, I tell you, it wasn’t easy at first. Oh, my dears, you will never know what it is to be as homesick as I was. I had a good, kind husband and I loved him, but their ways were so different. I never had been used to lifting a[60] finger; always a houseful of darkies at my beck and call; always neighbors to drive over and gossip. Oh, my dears, when I saw my mother-in-law and her daughters doing their own work, rarely visiting, keeping the parlor shut up year in, year out, no dances, no fun of any kind, I was appalled. Of course I was looked upon with coolness and dislike because I was a Southerner, but that did not make as much difference as the other things, and when I learned what was expected of me——” She shook her head and sighed deeply. “It was uphill work, that learning their ways. Once or twice I was so unhappy I was ready to fly from it all, but there was Everett, so kind and considerate, though he could only half guess what I missed, and then came my baby, my little son.” She paused and wiped her eyes.

Miss Helen gently patted her hand. “Never mind, Cousin Maria,” she said, “that is all over now, and even if you had gone back, or if you had never come away it wouldn’t have been the same. There were hard times in Virginia and all throughout the South; the women down there had to work as hard as here, after the war.”

“Yes, yes, I know, I know. When my little boy died I realized something of what my parents suffered, and I felt it was a judgment on me for leaving my father, so I could never[61] rebel against the punishment, for I could see it was just. Poor father! He did forgive me at last, you know. When my baby died I wrote to him, but he did not answer till a year later, but he forgave me.”

“I am so glad,” breathed Jack pressing nearer. “You know we think you had such a beautiful romantic love story, Cousin Maria, and we were so glad we could come to see you,” though in her heart of hearts she was rather disappointed that the heroine of the tale should prove to be this plain little old woman. “I wish you would tell us all about it; how you ran away with Captain Hooper and all that; we are so interested.”

Mrs. Hooper smiled reminiscently, then she turned to Mrs. Corner. “You would know her for a Southern girl, so spontaneous and outspoken. Well, dear, I will tell you how it was.”

Though Nan would like to have listened to this story she had an uneasy feeling that Miss Phebe might need help, so she quietly left the room. Nan was always the one who carried the heaviest packages, who ran back for umbrellas, or lugged a double amount of hand-luggage, so it was like her to do this. She conjectured that the kitchen would be at the back and she set to work to find it, first opening the door of a closet, then one which led out[62] upon a back porch, but the third one seemed to be right, as she found a little entry from beyond which came sounds and odors which told of the kitchen’s whereabouts. As she paused upon the door-sill Miss Phebe, busily stirring around, cried out, “Land sakes!” as she saw the figure in the doorway.

“I thought perhaps I could help you, Cousin Phebe,” said Nan.

Miss Phebe looked quite taken aback and said nervously, “No, thank you; I couldn’t think of letting you do such a thing.”

“But why not?” Nan could not understand the New England spirit which scorned assistance and resented intrusion.

“Please,” she continued. “I always help Cousin Mag when I go over there. Couldn’t I set the table?”

“Oh, no; I set that before I went to the train.”

Still Nan persisted. She stepped into the kitchen. “Well, I could pare potatoes or something.”

Miss Phebe shook her head. “Nat did those after breakfast. There is really nothing to do. I made the pies and doughnuts this morning, the custards yesterday. There isn’t a thing to do but stir up some sody biscuits. I’ve got the peas and potatoes on. Does your ma like[63] tea or coffee? and your aunt, what does she drink?”

Nan was doubtful. She knew her Aunt Helen depended upon her afternoon tea, and missing it to-day might like it earlier. “Suppose I go and ask,” she said.

“Oh, no, I can make both,” returned Miss Phebe hurriedly.

“But why, if it isn’t necessary?”

Miss Phebe murmured something about its not being polite. Her Puritan conscience would not permit her to be slack in even so small a matter, nor must her guests discover her wanting in hospitality, so as Nan saw she would be really distressed if the question were carried further, she gave up all idea of making inquiry, but begged Cousin Phebe to allow her to skim the milk and cut the butter which finally she was permitted to do.

“You must have been up very early to get so much done before you went to the train,” remarked the girl.

“Not much earlier than usual,” was the reply. “I wasn’t up before four.”

Nan stared. Four o’clock! and she had been on the go ever since. “I should think you would be worn to a bone,” she said looking at the wiry spare figure.

Miss Phebe smiled grimly and said, with a[64] little bridling of the head, “We don’t believe in wasting daylight up here.” Surely the ante-bellum days had departed for Cousin Maria Hooper who, in the other room, was telling of the good old times before the war, when she “never raised her hand to do a thing and was carried around on a silver waiter, my dear.”

“If you want to get along you’ve got to work,” said Miss Phebe reading something of Nan’s thought.

“Or else be smart enough to make others work for you,” returned Nan laughing. “Isn’t it a sign of ability to plan what a duller brain executes?”

“I was never taught to expect any one to do my work, and I never had time to stop to ask such questions,” returned Miss Phebe with a little asperity. “My father died when I was eighteen and I have been at it ever since, trying to keep up the place and make a little out of it.”

“Shall I carry these in?” asked Nan, seeing it was out of place to argue, and standing with bread-plate in one hand and butter in the other.

“If you will be so kind.”

Nan went into the dining-room and set the things on the table, then she helped Miss Phebe dish up, carrying in peas and potatoes, pickles[65] and jelly, doughnuts and “sody” biscuits, custards and pies and lastly—wonder of wonders—fried chicken. This was Miss Phebe’s chef-d’œuvre, a dish suggested by her mother and one which the daughter had been taught to prepare years before. Yielding in this one particular she offered a Northern bill of fare in other respects, to Jean’s great satisfaction, who was delighted to see the array of sweet things, doughnuts and pies, preserves and cake, custards and cookies.

“Even Emerson ate pie for breakfast,” remarked Miss Helen as they settled themselves in the train late that afternoon. The day had been an unforgettable one in many respects, in which the quaint, queer figure of Cousin Phebe stood out alone.

“With so many excellent qualities, so many virtues, and yet so unattractive,” said Mrs. Corner.

“No doubt if you could penetrate the crust you would find a warm heart,” returned Miss Helen. “Cousin Maria is pathetic, and how she clung to us! I am glad we promised to see them again before we leave these parts. Poor Cousin Maria! Environment has forced her into a growth different from that which nature and birth intended, and she is worn out in the struggle. She told me nothing in life could have given her such pleasure as our visit.[66] One feels very humble before such a state of things.”

“And yet,” said Nan, “there is nothing Cousin Phebe would not do for her mother, and I believe she enjoyed our coming, too, though one would never guess it except that she was so eager that we should come again.”

“I don’t believe she works a bit harder than Cousin Sarah,” commented Jack.

“Oh, my child, Cousin Sarah never in her life got up at four o’clock in the morning to make pies and doughnuts before breakfast,” said Nan.

“Nat says if we will come in the fall he will show us more apples than we ever saw in our lives,” remarked Jean.

“Humph!” ejaculated Mary Lee; “he never saw the Albemarle pippins on Cousin Phil’s farm up on the mountain.”





In a few days came Daniella Scott and Jo Keyes, ready to join forces with the Corners. Jo was in high spirits. This was her last year at the Wadsworth school and she felt free as a bird, she declared. Daniella, whose school-days had not begun till she was quite a big girl, was still looking forward to several years of boarding-school life. The prospect of a summer in the woods was perhaps dearer to her than to any of the others.

There was first to be a short railway journey, then a long ride by stage and finally a drive of two or three miles which would bring them to the borders of a lovely lake set in the green-wood, and here they would find the camp.

As they left the train, at a small town, a big old-fashioned stage, swung on leathers, lumbered up. It was drawn by four horses and its driver, a wiry old man, with a tuft of white beard under his chin, called out, “Be you a-going to Friendship?”

“We are,” replied Miss Helen.

“How many air ye?”


“Got many traps?”

“A small trunk apiece and some hand-luggage.”

The man rubbed his stubbly beard. “Wal, I guess I kin stow ye all away and I dunno as we’ll break down. It’s a big passel o’ folk to kerry all to oncet when there’s others wants to go, but git in all of ye, and them as don’t want to set inside kin set out.”

Immediately there was a rush of six figures toward the stage.

“Here, here,” cried the old man, “ye ain’t every namable one o’ ye going to git on top, air ye? The’ ain’t room for all of ye and the trunks.”

“Let some of the trunks go inside, then,” suggested Jo; “they are small,” she said, pausing in her act of mounting a wheel in order to clamber on top.

The old man fingered his bit of beard. “Wal, I dunno. Inside ain’t the place for trunks; it’s for passengers. Jest you wait a minute and I’ll see how big them trunks is and how many kin go on the rumble. Mebbe we kin make room for everybody. If ye wouldn’t be so everlastingly in a hurry ye’d have steps to climb up; they’ve got ’em up at the hotel.”

“Where’s the hotel?”

[71]“Right ahead.” He pointed with his whip to a long white house, on the porch of which several persons were standing waiting for the stage.

“It’s more fun to climb up this way,” said Jack clinging to the side of the coach and feeling for the high step with her toe. “May I sit by you?” she asked over her shoulder.

The driver chuckled. “What ye want to do that fur? I ain’t so pretty.”

“Oh, but I’d like to talk to you.”

“I’ll be bound ye would. All right; you’ve spoke first. Up ye go,” and he gave her a boost which sent her to a footing by which she could reach the seat.

“There’s room for you, too, Jean,” said Jack reaching down her hands, and with the help of the others Jean was able to find a place by the side of her twin.

The driver, meanwhile, had gone to gather up the trunks, which he brought one by one, and managed to get the greater number strapped on behind; the rest he found room for on top. “There,” he said, “I dunno as we shan’t make it. Ef them folks at the hotel ain’t got a lot of big stuff, I guess we kin. The rest of you gals git up here. Ye kin ride as fur as the hotel anyway, and ef ye have to git inside then don’t say I ain’t give ye a ride on top.”

[72]Thus adjured, the four remaining girls mounted to the top and they started off after a loud “Git ap!” to the horses from the driver.

Fortunately the passengers next gathered up were not many: a meek looking woman with a little girl, and a man, whose only luggage consisted of that in their hands except a suit case which was taken inside. With a mighty crack of the whip and another “Git ap!” off they started again past green farms, low white houses, tranquil ponds and running streams, once in a while clattering through the long street of a quiet village where a stop would be made, the mail delivered, a passenger taken up or set down, and then off again.

Whatever the passengers inside may have felt, to the company of six girls on top it was a journey of delight. The two on the front seat with the driver were in a constant state of giggle, while the four who sat a-row behind them were scarcely less mirthful. The driver informed them his name was Noahdiah Peakes. “Named after my two grandfathers; one was Noah, t’ other Obadiah, so they jest combined ’em and give me the two names in one. I git Noey, gin’rally, though some calls me No,—ole No Peakes. I made up a conundrum ’bout my name. Want to hear it?” Of course they did[73] and were asked, “Why am I like a table-land when I’m to hum?”

“Something about No Peakes,” whispered Jean to Jack, but they could not guess exactly and the answer was given: “Becuz there’s no peaks there,” given with a big laugh and a slap of the thigh, followed by an immediate relapse into entire gravity and a “Git ap” to the horses.

Noahdiah was fond of riddles, they discovered before they had gone far. His stock of them lasted all the way to Friendship. Every now and then he would turn his head over his shoulder and offer the girls behind him one of his conundrums such as: “What does a lawyer do when he’s dead? He lies still. Git ap!” or “Why is my head like the Artic regions? Becuz it’s a great white bare place. Git ap!” Conundrums which touched upon his name, his personal appearance, his dwelling place, were the favorites, they discovered, and he was pleased to boisterousness when Jo made up a new one at which Nan and Mary Lee groaned, “Why should we depend upon you in an accident? Because you are our Maine chance.” He chuckled and sputtered over this for some time, forgetting to say “Git ap!” for at least a quarter of a mile.

At last they were set down at Friendship[74] which they discovered consisted of scarce more than a farmhouse and a country store. A wagon would carry them the rest of the way. The new driver, who, they learned, was the man about camp, had driven over for them, but looked a little dubious when he saw the size of the party. “Guess I’ll have to leave their traps, Noey,” he said.

“Wal,” answered Noahdiah, “I’d fetch ’em along myself but I’ve got to git back, and moreover the stage couldn’t travel them rough roads. Ain’t Al got no kinder buggy or nothin’ he kin take some of ’em in? the mother and the aunt?”

“I’ll go in and see what Al kin do,” responded the man entering the little store.

“Wisht I could go all the way with ye. I’d like first-rate to see ye sot down comfortable before I left ye,” said Noahdiah confidentially. “I dunno as I ever see a likelier set o’ young misses come to camp and I’ve fetched over quite a few. Ye’re real friendly and sociable and that’s what I like. Some o’ these here prim old maid schoolmarmy kind don’t open their lips from Cross Roads to Friendship. You’d think they was struck dumb, er ef they do speak it’s like their mouths was one of these here medicine-droppers; the words come out jest as though they was squeezed from a rubber bulb[75] t’ other end. Here comes Al and ’Lish; now we’ll see.”

After a short conference it was proposed that Mrs. Corner and Miss Helen should wait till the buggy could be made ready when they and their luggage could follow the wagon, ’Lish declaring that “six women folks even if they wasn’t full growed, with luggage” he “cal’lated,” would about fill a wagon.

“The buggy’ll be more comfortable, marm,” said Noahdiah, addressing Mrs. Corner, “and I guess you’ll have the best of it.”

“But three of us in one buggy,” she returned.

“Wal, it’s good and wide, and ye ain’t so fleshy, neither of ye, and ye kin set clost.” So there was nothing to do but make the best of it and either remain till the next day when the wagon could return for them, or forge ahead in the manner proposed. The latter course was finally decided upon and they set out, bumping over a rough road for three miles before the camp was reached.

Miss Marshall and Miss Lloyd gave them a hearty welcome and they sought their quarters to prepare for supper which they were ready enough for, after the long drive in the stage and the added one from the country store.

“Real tents,” cried Jack. “Won’t it be fun?[76] I never did sleep in a real tent, Nan. Aren’t they cozy?”

Two tents, side by side, were given up to the party of girls, a little log cabin being provided for Mrs. Corner and Miss Helen. This consisted of two rooms, one with a fireplace where Mrs. Corner could have a fire on damp days, a thing which she felt would be very necessary. There was another cabin, a larger one, in the centre of the camp, where the campers could congregate around a huge log fire on cool evenings or could sit on wet days. It was really a charming place with plenty of comfortable chairs, a big table piled with books and magazines, rugs on the floor, and at the windows pretty chintz curtains. A porch ran around on all sides, and here those who had already arrived were congregated.

“Oh, I am so hungry,” said Jean when they had stowed away a few of their belongings. “I wonder when we shall have supper.”

“Suppose you and Jack go and find out,” proposed Nan.

This was a mission highly relished by the twins, who after a few minutes came back gleefully. “Supper in fifteen minutes, and we’re going to have flapjacks and maple syrup,” cried Jean.

“Yes, and ham and eggs and fried potatoes.[77] There’s a colored cook and she knows just how to cook the kind of things we all like; we asked her.” Jack gave this information.

“And we eat out-of-doors on the verandah of the big cabin. We saw the tables all set,” said Jean.

“Lights are out at nine,” Jack went on, “so we can all go to bed at the same time. We get up real early; no one wants to sit up late because they are so healthy tired.”

Nan laughed. “If they are all as healthy tired as I am I don’t blame them.”

“There are such funny-looking people here,” Jean continued; “you can’t tell what they really look like. I saw two or three coming along from the lake; they had on great big farm hats and bloomers. They had oars or something over their shoulders and they looked like huntresses or Amazons or some such thing.”

“We’ll look just the same ourselves once we get going,” Mary Lee told her. “It must be time for supper, girls. Let’s go over.”

The summons came before they were all fairly ready and one need not doubt that full justice was done to the ham and eggs, the flapjacks, the draughts of country milk and the delicious strawberries and cream.

After supper the new arrivals strolled down to the lake to see the sun set behind the mountains,[78] and to watch the colors of the sunset sky reflected in the still waters. Then there was a little talk in the big living-room but one by one lapsed into silence, and finally all confessed that nothing seemed so desirable as the thought of going to bed, so off they went before nine o’clock saw the lights all out.

The girls were all up betimes the next morning. There was so much to do, so many places to explore, so much to learn.

“I must find some one willing to teach me to paddle, first thing I do,” announced Nan, “for I can see that canoeing is going to be the principal amusement.”

“That’s what I want to do, too,” Jack decided.

“I’ll wait for a day or two before I try my hand,” Mary Lee resolved. “By that time some of you all will have learned and can coach me; meanwhile I will look up the birds; there must be a great many in so wild a place.”

“That’s just what I will do, too,” Jean decided. She generally adopted Mary Lee’s suggestions.

So the party divided, Mary Lee, Jean and Daniella joining in a tramp through the woods, Jo, Nan and Jack starting forth to take their first lesson in paddling a canoe; some of the girls, already old stagers, good-naturedly offering[79] to teach them. It is not the easiest thing in the world to learn, and certainly not a thing to be acquired in one short day, but Nan went into raptures over the exercise, and went at it heart and soul, so that before so very long she could force her canoe forward a short distance without its turning around and around, and could manage to get the stroke at least once out of half a dozen times, so by noon they returned hungry and elated. A little later came the second division of the party. These had discovered a beaver’s dam and were quite delighted with their morning’s explorations.

“Sometimes the girls take supper down on the rocks, build a fire and have a jolly time,” the girls informed Mrs. Corner.

“Let’s do that this evening,” suggested Jack.

“Don’t use up all your resources the first day,” warned Miss Helen. “There is still novelty in eating out-of-doors on the verandah, and in living in a tent. Wait till those things begin to pall upon you.”

“There is the excursion to the mountain; we must take that while the weather is good.”

“But I would not undertake it right away. Remember you have several weeks to employ; I should scatter the novelties at due distances along the way.”

Acting upon this advice they restrained their[80] ardor and spent the remainder of the day in reverse order; those who had devoted the morning to the lake, spending the afternoon in the woods and vice versa, so that it was a tired lot of girls who were very ready for bed when nine o’clock came. Mrs. Corner and Miss Helen had been wise enough not to overfatigue themselves and had simply rested after their tiring journey of the day before.

“Those are two right nice girls who were with us this morning,” Nan told Mary Lee as they were on their way to the tents.

“And I liked those who were with us this afternoon,” returned Mary Lee.

Nan laughed. “So we shall not want for company if we get mad with one another. There will be no flocking by one’s self and sulking this trip. There is just a pleasant number in the camp. We can become acquainted with them all, and yet there are enough of us to feel perfectly independent if we want to go by ourselves. How did you get along with your paddling?”

“Only fairly well,” returned Mary Lee somewhat dubiously. “I suppose one can’t expect perfection at first. Daniella took to it like a duck. She always does such things well.”

“She is in her element, and doesn’t she look great in this rough costume?”

[81]“Yes, you see she was born a maid of the woods. She is never much of a talker, but any one can see how happy she is.”

“Yet she can talk, and interestingly, too, when you get her started.”

“Oh, to be sure, but I fancy she will always be a little shy.”

They were not up so early the next morning but that Daniella was before them and out on the lake practicing with her canoe. She did indeed look a picture as she stood up in her short skirt, her big hat shading her radiant face, her cheeks glowing, and her lovely golden brown hair gleaming in the sun. “If I were an artist,” cried Nan, “I would say: Kindly keep that pose, Miss Scott.”

“Being the next best thing to an artist I will say it,” said Jo bringing her camera into focus. “There, I have immortalized you, Daniella.”

Then Jack declared she wanted Jo to take a photograph of her in a canoe to send Mr. St. Nick. Of course Jean could not let this go by without demanding one of herself in the same attitude. Mary Lee would like one for Miss Dolores and Daniella wanted one of Nan for her own collection, so it ended in various cameras being brought forth and a series of pictures being taken; no one was ready to stop[82] till her first roll of films was exhausted. By this time they had gone rather far afield.

“It must be getting on,” said Mary Lee, looking at her watch. “Dear, oh, me, girls. I should say so. Come to breakfast. Don’t you smell the delicious fumes of coffee?”

Unencumbered by long skirts, and free of limb in jumpers and leggings the girls darted off, racing back to camp full tilt, Jean, though the most eager as to appetite, the least fleet of foot, and therefore bringing up the rear.





In two or three days the girls decided that they could no longer wait to join the party which was preparing for a mountain climb. The start was made in a wagon which would take them about twenty miles to the foot of a steep up-winding road which was only possible for pedestrians. In bloomers, big hats and flannel blouses, a leather strap around their waists upon which was hung a tin cup, and wearing leathern leggings to protect them from the briars or something worse, they made ready. Each had made into a pack a small pillow, a rubber blanket and a woolen one and had further provided herself with an alpenstock. There were about a dozen in the party, which was led by Miss Lloyd, a cheery little woman full of resources and with a fund of humor which would serve a good purpose under difficulties.

“We are to sleep out-of-doors just like soldiers,” remarked Jack with satisfaction as she watched the preparations.

[86]’Lish tossed the packs one after another into the wagon. “Pile in,” he cried, and the girls obeyed with alacrity.

“I hope it won’t rain,” remarked Florence Yardley scanning the sky anxiously.

“Now, Flo, don’t be a wet blanket,” said her chum, Carrie King. “Suppose it does rain, who cares?”

“So much more fun,” agreed the rest.

“We haven’t on such flimsy attire that it will make any difference,” said Bertha Stine. “What are you kicking about, Floss?”

“Oh, I’m not kicking,” returned Florence subsiding. “I suppose one may mention a preference for good weather when our object is to see the sunrise to-morrow morning.”

“Our object is to have a good time regardless of weather. If there happens to be a sunrise that is what we want; if it rains that is what we want. Isn’t that the proper spirit, Miss Lloyd?”

“Beautifully proper. I couldn’t ask for a fairer philosophy than that.”

“And there’s this about it,” Bertha went on. “If we miss a sunrise this time we can try it again and still keep our object in anticipation. In other words if we don’t have our cake and eat it, we can eat our pie and keep our pudding. Isn’t that it, girls?”

[87]“Exactly. ‘So say we all of us,’” they chanted.

Having stowed away the last pack, seen to it that the provisions were safe and at the last moment going back for a water bucket, ’Lish at last gathered up his reins and off they started waving merry farewells and making the woods ring with a gay song which went something like this:

“When ’Lisha takes us ’way from camp
We use a bright blue wagon,
And each girl cries ‘What lovely roads!’
Though they’re not much to brag on.
Thanky ma’am.”

At the end of each stanza the girls rose to their feet and sat down again violently, crying in chorus, “Thanky ma’am!” Every now and then some one contributed a new verse which was sung lustily.

“It prevents our getting cramped from long sitting,” explained Bertha. “It is also good for our lungs and keeps up our spirits.”

Once in a while as they came to a steep hill some of the party would get out and walk, and when a wayside spring appeared there was a scramble to fill the tin cups.

By sundown the foot of the mountain was reached and preparations were made for supper. Brushwood was plentiful, therefore a fire was[88] readily managed. Miss Lloyd produced a frying-pan in which slices of bacon soon sizzled. Carrie King was delegated to watch the coffee which began to boil over and was rescued only after heroic efforts. Then the girls fell to and ate heartily, deciding that coffee from tin cups was not so bad after all and that bacon and bread made a dish fit for any king, “including Carrie,” remarked Bertha.

“Apple turnovers!” exclaimed Jean. “Oh, Miss Lloyd, what a nice supper.”

“Crackers and cheese, please, ma’am,” called out Jo.

“I’ll take a cookie.” Jack made known her choice.

There was milk for those who preferred it and water from a spring near by.

It was almost dark by the time they had finished their meal. The stars began peeping from a rack of clouds; a little stream tinkled on its way from the mountain to the lake; an owl hooted in the distance. The girls spread their rubber blankets on the ground and without undressing, pulled their woolen covers over them, each having selected the softest spot she could find.

But in spite of the long ride, the excitement of such an unusual experience kept Nan awake, and she lay looking up at the stars twinkling[89] down at her. The clouds were drifting away and from the blue spaces one after another a golden eye appeared. For a long time she lay thinking, but finally she fell asleep. She was roused after a while by hearing suppressed giggles from Jack who lay next her. She sat up, leaned over and whispered, “What’s the matter, Jack? Haven’t you been asleep?”

“Yes,” said Jack, also in a whisper, “but I was wakened up by something walking over me. I was a tiny bit scared and then I saw such a funny little animal sitting by me and looking at me with such a ridiculous expression that I had to laugh. When you moved it went off. What do you reckon it was?”

“I can’t imagine. What did it look like?”

“I can’t tell, for it wasn’t light enough for me to see very well. I could only make out its funny little face. It wasn’t a rabbit.”

“Nor a fox?”

“No, not so big.”

They sat up watching for the return of the little beast, but it was evidently not in a humor for making a second visit, so finally, getting drowsy, the two sisters moved nearer one another and in a short time fell asleep, not to waken till a call from Miss Lloyd announced that they must begin their mountain climb.

Then the identity of the mysterious visitor[90] was discovered, for he had left a token of his presence in the shape of a porcupine quill which Jack found sticking in her blanket. She proudly secured it as a souvenir after finding out from ’Lish what it was.

“There’s quite a few of them porcupines around here,” the man told her, “and they ain’t so pleasant to meet up with sometimes, for they can throw their quills quite disagreeable. You was lucky not to git that in some part of your body ’stid of in your blanket.”

It was a long and arduous climb up the mountain. Two or three of the party, Jean among them, gave out and waited on the roadside till the others should come down. The rest reached the top just in time to see the red ball of the sun enter a bank of clouds.

“There; I knew it would rain,” exclaimed Florence.

“Where’s any rain?” demanded Carrie.

“You’ll see,” was the rejoinder.

“I suppose we may not rest too long,” said Miss Lloyd, “for I fear Florence may be right and that we are in for a rain.”

They had taken a slight breakfast before making their climb, and decided not to stop for anything more till they had gone a little further on where they could find shelter in case of a shower, so after they had been joined by those[91] waiting half-way they did not tarry to rest but continued the downward path.

They had scarcely gone many rods before they met a party of people going up; two men and two young women, the former in spotless flannels and neatly polished shoes, the latter in fresh white frocks, rose-wreathed hats and filmy veils. They looked very natty and fine. As they passed they gave supercilious stares at the company of girls in stout shoes, farmer hats and flannel blouses.

“But, oh, dear me,” said Jo to Nan, “what a get up for the mountains. Do they think they are at Bar Harbor, forsooth, or do they expect to find a hotel around the next boulder? Imagine what they will look like when they have gone through brambles and thickets and over dewy grass. I shouldn’t like to pay their laundry bills.”

“It’s raining,” exclaimed Florence as the first fugitive drops began to patter. “What did I say?”

“Oh, Floss, we can stand the rain better than we can your torrent of I-told-you-sos,” said Carrie.

“Who cares if it does rain?” queried Jo. “We aren’t wearing white frocks and rosebud hats. If you want to hear any growling, I would advise seeking that party of silly-billies who[92] have just passed us. It won’t matter if we do get wet.” But by the time they had reached their camping place of the night before the rain was coming down in good earnest and they were glad to seek shelter in a little hut not far off.

“You can at least be under cover there,” Miss Lloyd told them. “We must have something to eat first thing, for I am sure you are all half starved with nothing but sandwiches since before dawn. I will make some coffee and fry some bacon, so you can have a little something hot.”

“Where? There’s no chimney in here,” said Florence. The girls stood peeping into the little cabin which was open to them.

“You’ll see. Go in, go in. You look like a flock of drabbled hens standing before a hen-coop,” Miss Lloyd laughed. “Shoo! Shoo!”

The girls skurried in out of the wet to find a very primitive sort of house with earthen floor and rough log sides. A couple of benches and a stool were all the furniture. A small window let in the light on one side.

“It’s pretty poor comfort to sit in wet clothes,” complained Florence. “I’ve no doubt I shall take my death.”

“You might if you had a cotton frock on. You’re no worse off than the rest of us,” said[93] Bertha. “What did you come to camp for, anyway, Floss?”

“Not to get wet.”

“Well, then, you ought to have stayed at home. It’s part of the performance. With a good dry bench to sit on and a roof over you what more do you want? Look at Miss Lloyd out there; she has actually started a fire and there she is in this downpour acting as if she were really going to cook something. Did you ever?”

“The fire is burning, too, of all things,” exclaimed Jo looking out. “She has made a sort of oven, you see, but why doesn’t the smoke get into her eyes?”

“Because she keeps away from the windy side. Isn’t she a duck?”

“She must be, not to mind the wet,” returned Jo. “I’m going out to help her, being seized with a desire to be a duck, too.”

She went out leaving the others to watch the ingenious manipulation of the frying-pan. They all crowded around the one small window to watch proceedings. Presently from the opposite direction they heard voices and the doorway was darkened by the figure of a man.

“I beg your pardon,” he began hesitatingly, “would you mind very much if we came in?”

The girls huddled around the window turned[94] to see the party they had encountered on the way down the mountain, but in what a forlorn and unhappy state. The crisp white frocks were drenched and stained, the red of rose had run into the green of ribbon on the flower-trimmed hats, the thin stockings fairly oozed water and the natty tan shoes were sodden and muddy. The men looked scarcely less limp than their companions, for their straw hats were out of shape, their trousers soaking, their collars flabby from the moisture which trickled from their hats.

“Oh, come in if you like,” said Bertha, who, in her prerogative as eldest, was spokesman for the rest. “You can probably find a dry end of plank somewhere.”

The place was small and the benches already nearly occupied, but the newcomers promptly took possession of what remained for them and sat in stony and miserable silence watching the rain pour down.

Presently Jo appeared, gaily bearing a large wooden platter of bacon in one hand and a carefully held paper bag in the other. “Here you are,” she cried, “smoking hot! Come a-running! Oh!” She stopped short at the unexpected apparition of the new arrivals and looked so taken aback that her friends all giggled. But it was only for a moment that[95] Jo was nonplussed. It might have been a restaurant and the girls of her own party the guests upon whom she alone waited, for all the attention she gave the four huddled on the bench near the door. “Bacon and rolls for eight,” she began again. “I hope, ladies, you will not criticize the bacon, but the fact is our chimney is smoky and the cook says you must excuse it if she has scorched it a bit. I am sorry, too, to announce that a burglar broke in last night and stole all our silver, so if you will kindly adapt yourselves to the familiar adage, ‘fingers were made before forks,’ I think you will get on very well. The second course is on its way.” She passed around the bacon and the bag of rolls. Each girl was hungry enough to be glad of anything to eat.

As she paused before Bertha she said something in a low tone. Bertha peeped into the bag and then nodded. Jo removed two of the rolls and laid them aside, then picking up the plate of bacon she went toward the four forlornities and said, “Would you like some of this? I’m sorry we can’t offer you a Delmonico feast but it’s better than a feast of Barmecide.”

One of the young men looked brightly up and said heartily, “That’s awfully good of you. I am afraid we shall be robbing you.”

[96]“No, there are more eatables outside when we can get at them. I believe our man is drying them out or something. We’ll be glad if you will accept this slight token of our hospitable intentions.”

The young man took the plate and passed it to his neighbor. “Won’t you have some, Mabel?” he asked.

She looked at the charred edges of the bacon scornfully.

“I never eat burnt food,” she answered.

The young man flushed up. “You’ll have some, Kitty,” he continued, passing the plate to the other young woman.

“Thanks,” she said a little more graciously and helped herself to the most appetizing looking piece.

“Mabel” deigned to take a roll at which she nibbled gingerly, “as if expecting it to poison her,” commented Jack to her twin. The first young man, however, seemed genuinely glad of what came his way and was profuse in his thanks. “Kitty” expressed herself faintly grateful. The second young man also gave reluctant thanks, “But he ate all he could get, just the same,” said Jack.

Jo did not wait to consume her own roll but took it with her as she went out. As she passed him the first young man sprang to his[97] feet. “Can’t I be of some service?” he asked. “You are so kind to share with us. I wish you would let me be of some assistance.”

“No, thank you,” returned Jo. “Our man is outside and is very capable,” and out she went.

After a time she appeared at the little window. “Girls,” she whispered, “’Lish has rigged up an awning, out of the rubber blankets, for the wagon, and has some dry straw in it. The rest of the eatables are quite dry and Miss Lloyd thinks we’d better not attempt to transport them here in all the rain. Don’t you think we might leave the castle to the lords and ladies and take to the tented plain?”

Every girl immediately made for the door in a jiffy, without so much as a word of farewell to the uninvited guests, and in another moment the four silent strangers had the place to themselves while the girls under ’Lish’s improvised shelter made merry over ginger ale, hard-boiled eggs, biscuits and cakes. The coffee had come to grief through the sudden giving way of one of the stones which propped the coffee-pot, and Miss Lloyd was unable to save more than a cupful which all insisted she should drink herself.

In the goodness of her heart Miss Lloyd proposed that they should send some of their[98] abundance to “those that sit in darkness,” she said, but every girl’s voice was raised in protest.

“Horrid, disagreeable, stuck-up creatures,” cried they, “not a crumb shall they have. They have already had enough to keep them from starving, and they may thank their stars they had that much; it was more than they deserved. Why didn’t they provide themselves with some food, foolish things?”

“They probably meant to go over the mountain and on to the next village, but the rain altered their plans,” Miss Lloyd said.

“Then let them take the consequences. If they had behaved like white folks we’d have been ready to divvy up with them,” said Jo. “Although,” she added, “I must say the first young man was very nice. If we could have toled him away from the rest I shouldn’t care.”

“Of course not,” remarked Mary Lee with meaning.

Jo made a face at her and subsided.

The rain continued for the rest of the day, but ’Lish proposed that they “jog along toward home,” keeping themselves under the rubber blanket canopy. So, toward dusk a chorus of cheerful voices was heard by those[99] anxiously waiting at camp. The voices were singing:

“When ’Lisha brings us home to camp,
All in the driving rain, sirs,
You’ll maybe look for frowns and groans,
But you will look in vain, sirs.
Thanky ma’am.”






No pastime was so popular at camp as canoeing. To send the light, graceful barks over the smooth waters of the lake to some favorite shadowy nook where glimpses of the mountains appeared between the waving branches of the trees, to spend an hour then with a book, or to watch the birds, or perhaps only to lie at full length on the grass and dream, and then to take up the paddles again, all this was exactly the kind of thing which appealed to every one of the girls.

“I think you might sometimes let me go with you,” said Jack one morning to her eldest sister. “You never seem to think I ever want to be with any one but Jean. Of course I am fond of Jean, but I am just as fond of you, and half the time she wants to do something I don’t want to do, so I think you might take me out in your canoe.”

“How do you know but that I shall want to do something you don’t want to do?” returned Nan.

[104]“Well, I’d be no worse off,” maintained Jack. Nan laughed and Jack felt that her case was won, but she added, “Besides, you promised to teach me how to paddle and you never have done it. I never have a chance to paddle because the older girls always want to do it. Everybody says you are a fine paddler, Nan.”

“And you are a fine tease as well as a flatterer,” responded Nan. “All right, kitten, I’ll take you, and may I not live to regret it.”

The final clause had no effect upon Jack who, having gained her point, went off well satisfied and was waiting at the lake when her sister appeared, paddles over her shoulder and book under her arm.

“Are you going to read to me?” asked Jack.

“No, sir,” returned Nan with emphasis. “One would think you were an infant in arms. You can provide your own entertainment. I didn’t invite you on this expedition, you may remember. If I waste my energies showing you how to paddle I am fulfilling all my part of the bargain. Get in, and don’t tumble all over yourself or you will upset.”

They started off in fine style, Nan really becoming interested in giving instructions to her apt pupil who tried hard to heed her warnings of “Not that way. Don’t use your paddle[105] like that. Don’t you see you only turn around and around and will never get on? Take care. Bear on more weight. That’s it; now,” and so on till Jack finally caught the swing and kept steadily at it in unison with Nan’s “one, two, three.”

At last the canoe swung around into a sheltered inlet where overhanging boughs fairly touched the water and a little stream emptied itself into the lake. Here Nan announced she would go ashore. “Now,” she said to Jack, “you can do anything you choose except fool with the canoe. I forbid that. You can go berrying, or fish, or study birds or do anything reasonable like that. I am going to read.” She settled herself comfortably in a small depression between the roots of a far-reaching tree and left Jack to her own devices.

Jack’s devices, be it said, were seldom like other people’s, and on this occasion her inclination was to follow up the tinkling stream till she came to a rotten log fallen across the water. Upon this, it struck her, she would experiment to see how far she could venture without the log’s giving way. “Even if it should break and I went in,” she said to herself, “I couldn’t get very wet, for the stream isn’t at all deep.” The log proving stronger than she anticipated,[106] the excitement of the enterprise soon faded away and she sought out other employment. She tried to catch in her hands the little silvery minnows which darted through the clear water, but they were too fleet and too wary. She listened to the birds and recognized the notes of several. Then she climbed the bank and went afield for berries. She discovered a clump of bushes from which she garnered quite a treasure. These she carried in her hat to share with Nan, but before she reached the tree where Nan was sitting she decided to pin some leaves together in the form of a basket to be filled with the berries she had gathered. This occupied some time. Nan accepted the offering very graciously, but was too absorbed in her book to notice more than that Jack had found entertainment and to feel satisfaction in the fact.

“I wish I had brought a book,” murmured Jack, as she consumed her last berry and perceived that Nan was not to be inveigled into a protracted conversation.

She tried climbing a tree, getting very warm, and sticky from the gum, as it happened to be a spruce-tree, and not feeling much ambition to try a second climb, she went down to the lake where the canoe lay and regarded it thoughtfully. She looked up to where her sister sat some distance away. “She didn’t say I[107] wasn’t to get into it; she only told me not to fool with it. It won’t do any harm just to sit in it,” she said to herself. She drew the canoe in and stepped over the side, then tried to push off, but to do this she found she must use a paddle. This she did, and presently found herself afloat. It was a delightful sensation, and she decided that since she had gone thus far she would make use of her opportunities and would practice paddling for a little while. “I don’t see why I shouldn’t,” she told herself. “I don’t have to obey Nan; she isn’t my mother, and I will never learn if I don’t practice. The big girls want the canoes all the time, and it’s so seldom I get such a chance.” She stood up and was soon sending the canoe jerkily through the water.

Meanwhile the sun had found its way through the boughs of the tree to Nan’s book, falling directly on its pages. She looked up. “It must be nearly noon,” she said; “the sun is almost directly overhead. We must get back if we are to be in time for dinner. Jack!” she called, rising to her feet.

There was no answer, and she turned toward the little stream which ran through the field where she knew Jack had gathered the berries, but no Jack responded to her repeated calls. “Where in the world can the child have gone?”[108] murmured Nan. She went toward the lake, following its brink till she came to the spot where the canoe had been left. There was not even the canoe. Lifting her eyes she saw at some distance away, Jack paddling lustily, though rather ineffectually. Curving her hands each side her mouth, Nan gave the long call which the campers used for their signal. Jack heard and gave answer. Nan beckoned vigorously. Jack evidently was making an effort to return, but in her anxiety to do so she lost the little skill she had acquired and could only turn the canoe helplessly around.

“Oh, dear,” said Nan, “if I could only swim I’d try to get out to her, for she never can bring the thing in that way; she might try all day.” She looked up and down the lake to see if other canoes were in sight, but it so happened that those who had been out had already returned that they might not miss the noon meal, it being later than Nan realized. There was only one of two things to be done; either walk back to camp or wait till some one appeared. After a moment’s thought Nan decided to wait, for she did not want to desert Jack. “If anything were to happen to her I’d never forgive myself,” she said. “No doubt some one will be coming along after a while.” She sat down where she could see Jack’s manœuvres. She was still too[109] far away to give any orders which might be heard as the wind was in the wrong direction to bear her voice distinctly, and it was after repeated efforts to make Jack hear and understand that she gave up trying.

Jack struggled for a while and then sat forlornly and let the canoe drift. Nan watched anxiously. If it should strike a snag or if Jack should move unwarily and upset the canoe what could Nan do? Her anger at Jack’s disobedience was lost in apprehension. Further, further on the little boat drifted, very slowly, for there was not a strong current. Nan arose and walked along the bank that she might keep opposite her sister, feeling that she must be as near as possible, at the same time realizing that she would be powerless in case of any accident. She registered a vow that she would learn to swim forthwith that she might be ready for such emergencies.

After what seemed an unconscionable time she heard the faint sound of voices coming nearer and nearer, and around the bend she saw a canoe coming with two girls in it. Again Nan gave the call, which was answered promptly, and presently she could distinguish Jo and Daniella, who directly made their way to where Nan stood.

“Hallo!” was Jo’s greeting. “What are[110] you doing up here by yourself, and why didn’t you come back to dinner? I thought Jack was with you.”

“Jack was,” replied Nan, “but there’s where she is now,” and she pointed to where the canoe was drifting.

“The little monkey! Do you mean to say she took your canoe off and left you no way of getting back?”

“Oh, I could have walked, but I didn’t want to leave her up here alone. You see she’s lost her head and can’t do a thing with the canoe, so she is just letting it drift. She managed all right at first, but when she tried to get back she became so scared that she forgot all I had told her. I couldn’t get to her nor she to me, but I didn’t want to leave her absolutely in the lurch. Is dinner over?”

“Yes, long ago. We came away just after. We all came to the conclusion that you two had taken something with you and had preferred to picnic. It’s a burning shame.”

“I do feel the pangs of hunger,” acknowledged Nan, “although we had some berries a while ago, but they are not very satisfying. Could you girls go out there and bring that little sinner back, do you think?”

“Why, of course. Come, Daniella,” and Jo turned the canoe in Jack’s direction. So before[111] very long Jack was rescued from her unpleasant situation, and was brought back a repentant culprit to her sister.

Now that her sister was out of danger Nan felt her anger returning, and after giving one withering look at the offender, she turned to her friends and said: “We’ll not keep you, girls, for I know you are out for a good time. We’ll go back and see if we can find anything to eat. I am almost starved.”

“I am afraid you will get no dinner,” Jo said. “You know the rule is ‘no meals after hours,’ and you know how cross old Hetty is if she is disturbed when she has cleared away.”

“I’ll risk her crossness,” returned Nan lightly. “She can’t do more than refuse me. Thanks, girls, for coming to the rescue.”

She stepped into the canoe and pushed off, not deigning to give Jack a word.

Very meekly sat Jack. “Won’t you forgive me, Nan?” she asked after a while. But she might have spoken to a graven image for all Nan gave sign of hearing, and Jack lapsed into silence, though at intervals she repeated her question plaintively.

Once arrived at camp, Nan shouldered the paddles and marched directly to her tent, Jack meekly following. The place seemed deserted.[112] Both girls knew that this was the time for their mother’s afternoon nap. Most of the girls were off on some expedition, and upon inquiry they learned that even ’Lish had gone away with the wagon. Hetty was not to be found, so there seemed nothing to do but “grin and bear it.”

In her various excursions hither and thither about the camp grounds, Nan had kept up the same stony attitude toward Jack who followed closely at her heels, but at the conclusion of the unprofitable search she at last broke forth into speech. “As if it weren’t enough for you to worry me nearly to death by being out there alone.” She began turning her vials of wrath upon Jack. “Those canoes are the most ticklish things, and if you had happened to upset nothing could have saved you. You couldn’t swim, neither could I. You would have been drowned before my very eyes.”

“I wish I had been, if you are going to talk to me that way,” replied Jack tearfully. “I was just going to practice a little, and got along beautifully at first till I got scared about getting back.”

“Practice! I wish you’d not take it into your head to practice quite so near dinner time. I suppose I shall be laid up with a headache from going without food for so long.”

[113]“Oh, Nan, I am sorry,” answered Jack wofully. “I’m hungry, too.”

“Well, you ought to be.” And Nan turned scornfully away, going within her tent and forbidding Jack to follow her.

Left alone Jack took counsel with herself. What could she do to propitiate Nan? It was a very rare occasion when Nan turned upon her in this way. Usually it was this sister who screened her and acted as a buffer when others were making attacks, so it was all the more terrible to have Nan so very, very angry. It was because she was hungry, no doubt. All persons were cross when they were hungry. If she could find something to eat, she might perhaps gain forgiveness. She took her courage in her hand and invaded the kitchen, but all was clean and orderly, not even a crust of bread to be seen. Jack wondered if it would be wrong to pursue her investigations as far as the pantry, but even if her conscience had allowed her she found the door closed and locked between this place and the kitchen. Next she thought of hunting up Miss Lloyd or Miss Marshall, but Miss Lloyd had gone away, she learned from Florence Yardley who had declined to join the expedition which Miss Lloyd had headed. Miss Marshall was lying down. Some of the girls were still on hand, Florence informed her, and[114] one or two of the ladies, not Miss Helen; she had gone with the others, so had Mary Lee and Jean.

Rather than explain why she and Nan had not had dinner, Jack moved off to continue her consideration of the situation and at last determined upon a course which she proceeded to carry out.

Three hours later, Nan, having somewhat recovered her equanimity, appeared at her mother’s cabin. “Where is Jack?” she asked.

“I’m sure I don’t know,” replied Mrs. Corner. “I thought she was with you.”

“So she was, but——” Nan told her tale.

“I am so thankful she wasn’t drowned,” said Mrs. Corner sighing, “that I can’t think of anything else just now, but poor Nan, had you no dinner?”

“Not a mouthful. Oh well, it is only an hour to supper time. I can stand it, I reckon. I’ll go see what has become of Jack. One cannot yet trust her out of sight, you see. I’ll tether her to a tree next time I take her canoeing, that is, if we land anywhere, otherwise it won’t be necessary.”

“I really think Jack is old enough to stop such tricks,” said Mrs. Corner. “We could excuse it when she was younger, but she ought to be gaining some discretion at her age.”

[115]“She has lots more than she used to have; she seldom gets into any awful scrape, and it used to be a daily occurrence.” For all her morning’s experience Nan was ready as usual to take up the cudgels in Jack’s defense. “Where are the others?” she asked.

“Gone off to Pine Knob, at least some of them have.”

“We met Danny and Jo going up the lake; but for them I suppose Jack would still have been drifting.”

“Don’t speak of it, Nan; it makes me shudder to think what might have happened. I shall forbid Jack’s ever going out without some older and more experienced person.”

“That is just what you’d better do. There is one thing to be said for Jack; she always minds what you tell her, even though she doesn’t have the same respect for my orders. The girls will be back soon. I will go hunt up Jack and send her to you.”

She went out, searched the camp from one end to the other, but no Jack. Florence Yardley had seen her and reported the conversation. Hetty had returned to her duties but had seen no Jack. Nan went along the path and entered the country road leading to the village. Jack might have gone to meet the wagon which would return that way. Looking[116] down the road she did see, not the wagon, but some one coming along slowly, a figure which she presently recognized as Jack’s. In a few minutes she came up, hot, dusty, travel worn. Her hands were full of packages. At sight of Nan she set down one of her paper bags and wiped her perspiring face.

“Oh, Nan,” she cried joyfully, “I hoped I’d meet you before I did any one else. Come right over here under these trees. I’ve brought you something to eat.”

“Brought me something to eat?” cried Nan in astonishment. “Where did you get it?”

“At the village. There’s a right nice store there, you know.”

“At the village? Why that is three miles away. You don’t mean to say you have walked there and back, six miles? I should think you would be dead beat, this warm afternoon.”

Jack’s lip trembled. “It was right far,” she acknowledged, “but I knew I’d made you miss your dinner and I didn’t want you to have a headache; besides I wanted to punish myself.”

“You poor little midget,” exclaimed Nan, gathering the culprit to her and kissing the flushed cheek.

The tears sprang to Jack’s eyes, and she turned away saying, “I’m so glad you forgive me. Please eat something,” she added earnestly[117] as she opened her packages to display a nondescript collection of stale cakes, hard candies and uncertain fruit.

Whatever Nan may have thought of the quality of the feast provided, she gave no sign, but did her best by it, and if Jo was surprised to see how small an appetite Nan had for her supper, there was no reason given for it then, but it was explained later and at the same time Jo and Daniella were begged not to tell the others of the morning’s misadventure.

So peace was restored. Jack had punished herself, and if tired in body, was at least serene in mind when she went to bed that night.






Raining!” exclaimed Mary Lee in disgusted tones one morning as she put her head out between the flaps of the tent. “Now what are we going to do, I’d like to know?”

“Oh, there’ll be something to do,” returned Jo who was arranging her hair before the small mirror. She and Daniella were Mary Lee’s tent-mates. “It will excite our imagination and invention and give us a little variety. We’ve managed to spend other rainy days to advantage, why not this?”

“Such a philosopher,” remarked Daniella shaking out her bright locks. “It’s bound not to be dull where you are, Jo.”

Jo dropped a curtsey and went on with her toilet, talking all the time.

Daniella, having tied her thick braids neatly, went to the door of the tent. “My, it suttenly do rain, as Mitty would say. We’ll need umbrellas in order to get to breakfast, which of course will be indoors on such a morning.”

“Umbrellas, nothing,” responded Jo. “I shall put on my golf cape and run between[122] the drops. I expect to be out in the rain half the day.”

“Oh, Jo, do you?” This from Mary Lee.

“Of course. What’s the use of being in a free and easy place if you can’t be free and easy? Where is the use of rubber boots, bloomers and flannel blouses if you can’t wear them? Me for the dribbling woods, the squishy paths, the oozy road.” It was on such occasions that Jo reverted to hilarious slang.

“Then I’m with you,” said Daniella selecting her dingiest and shortest skirt.

“Count me in, too,” added Mary Lee. “There, I’m ready for the fray,” she said buckling a leather belt around her trim little waist and picking up her golf cape. “I’ll run next door and see what Nan is thinking about.”

“Give my love to her and tell her to study up her fire motive; we’ll want it later in the day,” said Jo.

Mary Lee found Nan already dressed and hunting around for her rubber boots. Jean and Jack occupied the tent with her and they, too, were on hands and knees looking under the cots for the lost articles.

“What are you all doing?” asked Mary Lee.

“Looking for my rubber boots,” Nan told her.

[123]“Sillies! Don’t you remember, Nan, you lent them to Florence Yardley one day? She probably hasn’t returned them. I’ll go over and get them as long as I am prepared for wet weather.”

“Oh, thanks,” said Nan gratefully. “That is good of you, Mary Lee. Never mind, kiddies, they’re probably across the street.”

“It’s a pretty wet street,” said Jean looking out at the drenched path upon which the drops were steadily pouring from the overhanging trees. “What are you going to do, Nan, to-day?”

“Oh, sit by the fire and spin, I suppose. It will be a good day in which to darn stockings, write letters, mend, and read.”

“Goodness!” cried Jack. “Such hateful things, all but the reading, and one gets tired of that all day. What are you going to do, Jean?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I can’t think so crickly. Probably I shall find a lot of things. I’ve a puzzle picture I’ve been saving.”

“Oh, yes, so have I. I forgot them.”

“And I may write to Mr. St. Nick.”

“Then I’ll write to Carter. That’s two things. We might invent a game, Jean; we’ve always intended to and now is our chance.”

“Yes, we might do that.”

[124]Here Mary Lee returned with the boots in her hand. “Florence says she is very sorry she forgot to return them, though it is my opinion she was about to put them on to wear to breakfast.”

“Oh, Mary Lee, you’re so suspicious!” Nan reproved her.

“Well, why were they right there on the floor?”

“Maybe she was going to bring them over to me as she came by.”

“Bah!” exclaimed Mary Lee expressively. She had not much love for Miss Yardley, who, a little older than the Corner girls, treated Mary Lee especially with as magnificent a superiority as her two years’ seniority would allow. “Jo and Danny say they don’t mind the rain at all,” said Mary Lee after a moment, sitting down on Nan’s trunk to watch her sister draw on the boots. “So we’re going into the woods just as usual. We’ve prepared for it and if we get soaking, why, we will just stand it, and when we get back we can put on dry things.”

“I think that will be fine,” declared Jack. “I’ll do that, too, Jean.”

But Jean was too fastidious to care about getting wet and decided she would prefer to remain under cover. She tipped along daintily[125] under an umbrella when the others, regardless of weather, rushed to the log cabin where breakfast was spread, and she took much satisfaction in announcing that she didn’t get a bit wet.

“I did,” said Jack triumphantly; “my feet are soaked.”

“You didn’t wear rubbers?” said her mother.

“No, mother, what was the use? I shall get a great deal wetter pretty soon, and besides my rubber boots have a hole in them, and it makes it a lot worse than having none at all.”

“But they are quite new, Jack.”

“I know, but I cut them on the rocks, I think, one day when I was wading in the lake.”

“I really don’t think you should go out then.”

“Oh, never mind,” put in Miss Helen. “It won’t hurt her to get wet if she doesn’t get chilled, and if she will change her clothes as soon as she comes in.” So Jack was allowed to go.

About half a dozen or more girls started off for a walk in the rain after breakfast, Jack the most enthusiastic of them all. She returned barefooted and joyous, though drenched to the skin, as were the others, who declared they had never enjoyed anything more.

[126]“It was just like being an animal,” Jack told her mother; “a fox or a duck or something, for you didn’t have to think of your clothes and you didn’t care how wet you got. It was lovely to feel the rain in your face and trickling down your back.”

“It must have been,” laughed Mrs. Corner, “though the trickles down the back don’t appeal to me materially. That part doesn’t sound very delightful.”

“It was though,” maintained Jack, spreading out her toes to the blaze of her mother’s open fire. “And another thing is,” she went on; “when you get so very wet it’s so nice to be getting dry, just like when you are tired it is nice to get rested, or when you are hungry it is nice to eat. We had a lovely time, Jean. We hollered just as loud as we could, and we saw another porcupine.”

“What was he doing?” asked Jean, immediately interested.

“He was down by a little black pool. Nan said it was ink that was in it and that he had gone there to write a letter with one of his quills. She said he would dip it in and write on a big leaf.”

“How could he when the leaves were all wet?”

It was Just Like Being a Duck

It was Just Like Being a Duck.

Jack threw back her head and laughed joyously.[127] “Of course he couldn’t do it at all, wet leaves or dry, you silly little goose. Nan just said that, but he did roll himself into a funny ball, all spikey, when he saw us. We were going as far as the beaver dam but most of the girls wanted to come back, so we came.”

“Where are they all?”

“Over in the big living-room, I think. They were all going there. Let us go, too, Jean. Maybe they will be having some fun we might be missing.”

Jean quickly agreed, and Jack having donned dry clothes was content to seek the big cabin under shelter of an umbrella.

In the big living-room with its huge stone fireplace, most of the campers were congregated. A fine log fire leaped and snapped cheerily. Around the large table half a dozen girls were seated writing; some others were reading near the windows, while on the skins spread upon the floor before the hearth were those who had been Jack’s companions during the walk to the woods. As usual, Jo had the floor, and was making them all laugh by an account of some of her exploits at school.

Jack seated herself on the outskirts of the group and picked up a dictionary which Daniella had carried over. She turned the pages thoughtfully and presently said to Jean, “If[128] I had another dictionary I could invent a game.”

“Here’s another one,” said Jo, handing over a small black volume. “I’m never safe without it. Tell us about your game, kiddie. Perhaps we’ll all take a hand. Fire ahead.”

“Well, but you see you would all have to have dictionaries.”

“Perhaps we can scare up enough. Go on and tell us first and then we’ll see.”

“Well,” began Jack, “it’s this way: You choose a letter of the alphabet and then you take a certain number of the hardest words you come to, say ten words; they must be awfully hard that the others aren’t liable to know the meaning of, and then you write something using the words in what you write, then the rest have to guess what the words mean. The one who guesses the greatest number gets the game.”

“Oh, I see,” said Nan thoughtfully. “That’s not bad, kitten. Suppose we try it just to see how it goes. Dictionaries! Dictionaries! Who has a dictionary, or two? Don’t all speak at once.”

By dint of inquiry and search as many as eight dictionaries were discovered and handed around to those who cared to try the game.

[129]“Now,” said Nan, “the letters will have to be chosen or allotted, or something.”

“You begin, then, Nan, with A,” proposed Jo. “I’ll take B, next fellow C, and so on down the line.”

“That’s a good plan. We’ll adopt your suggestion, Miss Keyes.”

“We must have paper and pencils, of course,” Jo went on. “I’ll go see what I can scare up.”

“Aunt Helen has pencils galore, and writing pads, too,” Nan sang out after her.

“Very well,” responded Jo, and she was off in a twinkling to return directly with the necessary articles.

Nan had been thinking over the game. “There is another way we could do,” she said. “We could begin by having one person do the writing, incorporating the ten words, as it were; each person could then have a copy and all guess the same words so that it would give an equal chance to all. In that case one dictionary would do the work. How is that, Jack?”

“I think that is better. Let’s try that way first, and the one who wins the game can write the next set.”

“Dear, oh, me,” groaned Daniella, “then I hope I may not guess the greatest number of words, for I could never compose anything.”

[130]“I don’t believe I could, either,” admitted Jean.

“Oh, there’s nothing like trying,” said Nan. “Who shall begin, girls?”

“You do it, Nan. You have the pen of a ready writer,” said Jo.

“I think you have the same brand of pen yourself,” Nan declared.

“Never mind, you begin, and when you have written the thing, hand it down the line.”

“If we had a blackboard I could write it on that and all could see it, but failing a blackboard there will be copies. I’ll underline the words to be guessed.” She set to work and in a few minutes had produced the following:

“The king put on his abacot, left his study of abiogeny, and called his abacist from his abacus. ‘Calculate,’ he said, ‘how many abele trees it would take to form an abatis one quarter of a mile long. May I be struck with ablepsy if I do not absterge my kingdom of those pestilent invaders who swarm in as thickly as acarids on an Abraham-man’s shin.’”

“Whewee!” cried Jo. “You certainly have done it, Nan. I’m blest if I know one of the words, but I’m good at guessing, and perhaps I shall strike one or two. Hand over.”

Nan passed the paper along and Jo began to scribble. “I call this an extremely intellectual[131] game,” she remarked, as she wrote the last word. “Jack, you are a dabster. I don’t see how you ever thought of it. I am sure it does credit to an older and wiser head than yours. We’ll do this often and enlarge our vocabularies. Here’s your paper, and may you make good use of it.”

Jack, much elated, took the paper and set to work, but could guess very few of the words, though Jean did much less well. Language was not Jean’s strong point. No one was allowed to examine her own paper till all were provided with copies, and then they were given a certain length of time for their guessing.

“Time’s up,” cried Nan, who had been watching the clock.

“Oh, dear,” came sighs from all quarters.

“How many have you, Jo?” asked Nan.

“Seven,” was the reply, “though of course I haven’t an idea whether they are right. I’ve written the definitions below, as you will see.” She handed over her paper.

“Pretty fair,” said Nan, looking over the list. “I will allow you the six at least. Jack, what have you to say?”

Jack confessed to three, though she couldn’t be sure they were correct. She, too, handed over her paper, and Nan went down the line to discover that Mary Lee had guessed four, Jean[132] two, and poor Daniella but one. So Jo was declared winner and was presented with a stale ginger cookie as a prize.

“I don’t feel myself worthy of this great honor,” declared Jo, “and I trust you ladies will agree with me when I say that I consider the distinguished author of this delightful pastime should be the recipient of your royal prize. Miss Jacqueline Corner, allow me, as a committee of one, on behalf of this enthusiastic company here gathered, to present you with this mark of their approval, appreciation, and esteem.” And resting the cookie upon the fire-shovel, she advanced with it to Jack, who, overcome with laughter, snatched the cookie and took a bite.

“A crumb! A crumb!” cried Nan. “I, too, shared in the devising of this wonderful game. Just one crumb, fair lady, from your feast.” Then she fell upon Jack, the rest followed suit, and in a few minutes not even a crumb remained of the prize. Then dinner was announced and all trooped out.

The afternoon was given over to letter writing by many, but Jo and her cronies were seen whispering and giggling together, and when supper was over the result of their conference was discovered, for first Jo appeared in a startling costume, big hat decked off with all the ribbons[133] and ornaments she could collect, a remarkable bodice, a trained skirt, long gloves, and many chains and bracelets. She carried a red umbrella, and though she couldn’t sing a note, she gave a nonsensical song in a sort of recitative to Nan’s banjo accompaniment, the refrain being: “I was never so put out in all my life.” There were references to the rainy day, to the little foibles of this or that one, the incidents of their camp life, and so on, so she easily carried off the honors, and was called on for an encore with such enthusiasm that she gave what was described as “Jo’s special stunt.” She was an excellent mimic, and her monologue won for her peals of laughter. Mary Lee and Daniella followed with a dance, which the Corners had learned in Spain and which Mary Lee had taught Daniella, who did it very well.

Then Jo announced: “The great event of the evening. I bring before you the wonderful musical prodigy, Miss Nannette Corner, aged only eight, and already one of the world’s foremost musicians, whose performances bring tears to the eyes of her audience upon every occasion of her appearance.” Then was led up tall Nan, clad in one of Jean’s white frocks which came up to her knees. Her hair hung down her back and was tied with blue ribbons. She wore slippers and short stockings, and looked, as Jack said,[134] “a sight.” She performed “Home Sweet Home” upon a comb, and was presented with a bunch of onions tied with pink ribbons.

“It was a great success,” every one declared.

“Who says a rainy day isn’t fun?” asked Jo, as they went to their tents.

“It has certainly been mighty jolly,” acknowledged Mary Lee.

“But I haven’t darned a single stocking,” said Nan.

“What are you talking about, girl?” said Jo. “You can darn stockings any time, but when are we inspired as we have been to-day? Answer me that.”

“Oh, don’t you believe but that I was glad of an excuse to get out of it,” confessed Nan. So they parted for the night, and in a little while the only sound to be heard was the gentle rain pattering on the leaves.





Almost every morning were seen barefooted figures scudding across the grass from the tents to the lakeside, and next would follow a great splashing about to the accompaniment of much laughter.

Jack, who always enjoyed going further in her discoveries than any one else, was one morning wading just beyond where Nan was taking her early dip. The sun had not been up very long and there was a rosy light upon land and water. Every blade of grass was shining with dew and the birds were twittering in the trees or were dipping their wings in the lake as they flew over. Nan was appreciating it all immensely. “There’s nothing like early morning to give one the true loveliness of a spot like this,” she was saying to Jo, when Jack came splashing through the water toward her.

“Oh, Nan, Nan,” she cried, “come up here with me; there’s a poor something caught in the bushes, like Abraham’s ram. Do come see what it is.”

[138]“What do you think it is?” asked Nan. “A bird, an animal or what?”

“It’s an animal. I don’t know whether it’s wild or not. I only saw its eyes and they were lovely.”

“Well, I’ll come, but I won’t promise to go very near. We don’t want to be too much in a hurry to rescue wildcats or things like that, you know. This is properly Mary Lee’s province. She’d march right up to the creature, yank it out and be clawed for her pains. Come on, Jo, let’s go see what the thing is. Perhaps it’s your friend the porcupine, Jack. He may have come to call on you.”

“Oh, porcupines don’t have big eyes like these. This is something much bigger.”

“Oh, is it? So much the more dangerous, I should judge. However, there’s no harm in looking. Where is it?”

“Just in that clump of bushes over there.”

The three proceeded cautiously. At their approach the imprisoned animal struggled wildly to free itself, and the girls stood still, fearing lest it should suddenly become disentangled and pounce upon them. After a few moments the struggling ceased and they could see only two great, soft, startled eyes peering through the thicket. “They look to me like the eyes of a deer,” Nan said at last. “It[139] certainly is not a wildcat nor a fox. I tell you what to do, Jack; go back to camp, hunt up ’Lish and tell him about it. He will know as soon as he sees it. The poor thing is in trouble anyway. It probably came to the lake for a drink and has become tangled up in all those wild grape-vines and brambles. Probably it heard us coming and was startled so it didn’t notice where it was going. Run on, now, Jack. We’ll wait here till you get back.”

Jack was ready enough to obey and was not long in reappearing with ’Lish. Nan and Jo meanwhile had donned shoes and stockings and had slipped on waterproofs while they waited to see what would happen next.

’Lish, stooping and squinting and shading his eyes from the sun, which was by now fully risen, at last declared: “It’s a young deer for sartin. Poor crittur, I’ll go down and git it loose.” He approached the bushes, the girls drawing nearer as he did so, and as he parted the leaves they saw distinctly the graceful head and frightened eyes of a little fawn. It struggled madly and was almost dead with fear when ’Lish finally lifted it out. One leg was evidently injured in the violent struggle.

“Don’t let it go,” begged Jack. “It couldn’t walk well and some beast might get it.”

“What ye want me to do with it?” ’Lish[140] stood with the creature in his arms, making an interesting study, Nan thought; the tall, lean, angular man in blue shirt, and butternut trousers with the little wide-eyed fawn looking around apprehensively.

“Why, we’ll keep it till it gets well. Couldn’t you do something to its leg, ’Lish? Rub it or bind it up or something? Unc’ Landy always could do things to our animals to cure them.”

“Is its leg broken, do you think?” asked Nan coming nearer the startled fawn.

“No, I guess it ain’t broke. I cal’late it’s jest a little wee mite sprained. Probably it’ll get well of its own accord, but I might rub it with some hoss liniment I got. First-rate for sprains. Use it myself for a lame shoulder. Wal, come along, gals. We’ll take it up to camp and see what she says. I guess I might rig up some sort of paddock if you’re bound to keep it.”

The “she” referred to being Miss Marshall, a conference was had with that lady which ended in a decision to keep the fawn while the camp should be open, and then if it seemed best, to free it. “We’ll adopt it as our mascot,” Miss Marshall told the girls.

“It’ll be as tame as a kitten after while,” said ’Lish. “My brother’s wife’s sister had one, and[141] blamed if the crittur didn’t follow her all over the house. It growed to be right big, horns and all, and one day it ketched a sight of itself in a looking-glass and blamed if it didn’t think it was another buck and put its horns right through the glass; smashed it all to flinders. Susan said she would have to git rid of it after that. She couldn’t hev no sich crittur about the house.”

“But why?” asked Jack.

“Bad luck to hev a looking-glass broke. Didn’t ye ever hear that? Anyway, that’s what she said, so she let the buck out and off it went to the woods. Guess it was jest as well; he’d soon got tired of private life, and would have broke loose some day. They like to range.”

“Was that the last she ever saw of him?” inquired Jack much interested.

“No, he’d come round once in a while, specially in cold weather, and she’d feed him. One time he brought his mate, but that was the last she ever saw of him. Guess he thought after he’d brought his lady to pay her respects, he’d done his duty.”

Jack laughed and followed ’Lish to the little stable where the horses were kept and where they housed the fawn till another place could be provided for him. This was done in course[142] of time, and, as ’Lish predicted, the little creature soon became accustomed to human beings and learned to know his friends, would eat from their hands, and would watch for them to come with some special tidbit.

The question of a name aroused great discussion. It was first deferred to Jack as having the right by reason of first discovery. “I think we might call him Dearie,” she said after a little thought, “because, you see, he is dear both ways.”

“Why not Fawny, then?” asked Jo. “He’s so fonny, you know.”

“Oh, that’s far-fetched and silly,” announced Mary Lee disgustedly. “Why not call him Caro? That’s the Spanish for dear.”

“Oh, you always want Spanish things,” averred Jack. “If we are to give him any foreign name I should say a German one, for we had venison all the time we were in Munich.”

“What a painful suggestion,” laughed Nan. “Das Rötwild is the German for deer.”

“I don’t care for that.” Jack shook her head decidedly. “What do you think would be a nice name, mother?” She appealed to Mrs. Corner.

“How would Lightfoot do?”

“Oh, but you see one of his feet isn’t light He can’t use it at all yet.”

[143]This brought another laugh. Jack’s reasoning was always rather unexpected.

“Then Tenderfoot might do,” proposed Daniella, reminded of her ranch life.

“That’s worse yet!” declared Jack.

“We might combine Miss Marshall’s name and Miss Lloyd’s and call him Lomar,” suggested Miss Helen.

“Oh, no. I once knew a boy named Jim Lomar and I despised him.” Jack was decided upon this point.

“Clearly we must be particular,” said Bertha Stine. “Suppose we ask Miss Lloyd; she is always fruitful of suggestion.”

“Heaven knows we have made suggestions enough,” said Mary Lee, “but the trouble is to suit Jack.”

The question, however, was taken to Miss Lloyd who, after a moment, said, “How would you like Happy as a name? This is Camp Happiness, and if he isn’t happy he ought to be.”

Jack considered this gravely. “Does every one like Happy better than Dearie?” she asked looking around.

“We’ll put it to vote,” said Miss Lloyd. “All in favor of Happy will please raise their hands. One, two, three, four—nine. I think that is a majority, Jack, for it leaves but six to answer. Are you satisfied?”

[144]“Oh, yes, I believe I like it quite as well. Probably,” she added after a moment, “I liked Dearie better only because I thought of it myself.”

“A reason which influences most of us in such matters,” said Miss Lloyd laughing, “but few of us are so willing to acknowledge it. Very well then, girls, our mascot is to be called Happy.”

Jean took special pleasure in the little animal though Jack always maintained she had a better right to him, because she had been the means of bringing him into camp. This fact, however, gave her a feeling of responsibility which in the end worked toward a new acquaintance.

“It isn’t every camp that boasts a mascot,” said Jo at breakfast one morning a short time after Happy had been adopted into the company. “We must take very good care of him, for he brings good luck, and if he gets away we shall have to expect ill fortune.”

“Really, Jo?” said Jean.

“Why, of course. If a mascot means good luck, no mascot means bad luck; that’s as easy as rolling off a log.”

“Don’t give the child such notions, Jo,” protested Mrs. Corner.

“Oh, but it isn’t a notion,” persisted Jo; “it’s a logical sequence.”

[145]Jack was also listening and she mentally stored away the conversation and when, a week or two later, Happy broke his bounds and disappeared, she was weighed down by the prospect of ill luck befalling Camp Happiness. She had gone to the paddock as usual just after breakfast, but no Happy put his little soft nose between the rails to nozzle her hand for the food she held. ’Lish was instantly hunted up and appealed to. When had he seen Happy? He had seen him the night before. The paddock was then examined and ’Lish’s experienced eye detected where the little hoofs had knocked off some bark from the barrier which was made of cedar poles. “He’s escaped,” ’Lish pronounced the verdict. “I thought he was bound to sooner or later, as soon as his leg got well.”

“Don’t you believe he’ll come back?” asked Jack almost in tears.

“Ain’t likely to jest yit. He wants his run. He may wander back some day, but he likes his freedom same as all wild critturs. ’Tain’t likely you’ll see him agin for some time.”

But Jack determined if there was a way to bring him back it must be done, so providing herself with some of his favorite food and a length of rope, in her usual confident way she started out to find the lost mascot. The print[146] of his little hoofs led her through the camp, across a field and into the first piece of woods beyond. Here they were more difficult to follow; only once in a while upon the damp leaves could Jack discover the impress. One of the pleasant occupations of the summer had been a study of wood lore from that master woodsman, ’Lish, who knew more strange things than any one Jack had ever seen except her old friend, Jo Poker, in California. He had taught her things, too. So she told herself she need not be afraid, as she knew just how to get back. The mountains were to the west of the camp and the sun set behind them. The lake was to the east, therefore when she could see one or the other she would know exactly the direction she should go. “When I go back,” she told herself, “I must have the mountains on my right for I shall be going south.” She noted very particularly all these points as she entered the woods.

She went on trying to trace the way Happy had gone, but as he had pursued his journey by leaps and bounds and she could only trot along a rather difficult path, she did not make much headway and early lost all trace of him. Still she did not give up at once, believing she might any time hit upon his tracks. But at last she had to confess to herself that it was not[147] worth while to follow up such a forlorn hope and she resolved to go back. “It’s dreadful to have to tell them we have lost our mascot,” she said, “but we shall have to stand it. Perhaps he will come back to visit us as Susan’s deer did, and then we can think we haven’t lost him altogether. I forgot to ask ’Lish how long Susan had her deer before it was set free. We have had Happy such a short time that I am afraid he won’t come back, though I shall try to believe he will. Now, let me see, I must find my way out of here.”

She trudged on through the dense woods which grew wilder and wilder as she continued her way, and a rough way it was. Sometimes she almost lost the path and sometimes it seemed impossible that she could ever come to an opening which would allow her to see so far as either mountains or lake. At last, however, she did catch a sudden glimpse of the mountains which instead of being on the right or left were directly ahead. “That’s queer,” said Jack stopping short. “I’ll have to get them on my right or my left. If I am going back they will have to be on the right.” So she turned carefully around but there seemed only a tangle of brakes and bushes in that direction and no path at all. She had not calculated upon the twistings and turnings of the lake shore.

[148]She halted again to consider what to do, and then bent down to examine her own footprints. “If I were an Indian now, I’d have no trouble at all,” she told herself. “I wish I had a dog. Po’ old Trouble found the way to Mary Lee and Phil that time they were lost. Let me see. I came past that tree over there, I remember, because I noticed that some of the leaves were turning red.” She retraced her steps to the tree then halted again. “Now, I can’t see the mountains from here. I’ll try to find the lake; it ought to be on the left as I go back.”

She trudged on again and finally came out upon the shore of the lake. The spot was unfamiliar but she was undaunted even though the lake was in front of her instead of to the left. “I’ve all day before me,” she said to herself, “and if I can’t find Happy I can eat his buns, so I shall not starve.” She examined the pretty little shady nook she had found. “Now I know what is the matter,” she said to herself; “the lake turns here, because this is a sort of inlet, only I don’t know exactly which way to go after all.” Again she stood still and directly she caught sight of something moving among the trees. Could it be Happy?

She did not hesitate long in making her way toward the spot where she saw the movements and came face to face with an Indian[149] gathering herbs. “Hallo!” cried Jack in surprise.

The Indian nodded. “How do?” He did not seem in the least surprised at seeing a little girl prowling about the woods, but went on searching for his herbs.

Jack watched him for a minute, glad to have met some one though it be a person so unresponsive. She wanted to make conversation but didn’t know exactly what to say. Presently she remarked; “I’m glad you haven’t a tomahawk.”

The Indian raised himself from his stooping posture. “I got,” he answered.

“Where? I don’t see it.”

“In tent. You like basket? I make basket.”

“I like baskets. Oh, yes, you mean those pretty sweet-grass ones? I think they are lovely.”

“I make. You buy some?”

“If you will come to the camp I will. Maybe the others will, too. Do you know the camp, Miss Marshall’s camp?”

The Indian nodded.

“How far is it from here?”

“Three, four mile.”

“I must have come further out of my way than I thought, then. Which way do you go to get to the camp?”

[150]“So.” The Indian indicated a path directly in the opposite direction from that which Jack considered to be the right one.

“I hope he isn’t making a mistake,” she said to herself. “I can’t tell by the sun, for it is overhead.”

“I go little far with you,” said the Indian shouldering his basket of roots and green stuff. “My woman make basket, too. I make good medicine. You come I show you basket.”

“Oh, dear,” thought Jack, “I believe he just wants me to go to his tent or lodge, or whatever it is, to see his baskets. I haven’t any money and I don’t want to go further than I need.” She turned to the Indian. “No money to-day. You come to the camp, Miss Marshall’s camp. Do you know ’Lish?”

The Indian nodded.

“It is the camp where he is.”

“I know him.”

“Then you come and we will buy some baskets.”


“Yes, to-morrow.”

“All right. Good-bye.”

This was the end of the interview and Jack, turning her back on the Indian, pursued her way. After going a short distance she suddenly remembered that she had forgotten to[151] ask the man if he had seen anything of a tame fawn, but concluded after all it would have been of no use, for wherever Happy might have been earlier in the day he would be elsewhere now. So she walked on in the direction she had determined upon. She had not gone a great way before she heard a cheerful whistling at what seemed no great distance. Following the sound, which fortunately was coming from in front instead of behind her, she presently came upon a young man standing before a sketching easel. He was busy at work upon the canvas before him, whistling cheerily as he worked, backing off every now and then to see the effect of what he had done.

Here at least was an intelligent human being who could set her on the right way, so she decided to go up to him.






The young man absorbed in his painting did not see the child at first. She stood off watching him lay on deft strokes, but saying nothing until presently, as he backed off a little further than usual, he almost stumbled over her. “Hallo!” he exclaimed, looking at her in surprise.

“Oh, I beg your pardon,” said Jack. “I didn’t mean to get in your way.”

“No consequence at all,” returned the young man. “You weren’t properly in my way, but when I get excited over my painting I generally prance all over the place regardless of anything or anybody.”

“You’re doing a lovely picture,” remarked Jack sociably. “I’d get excited, too, if I could paint like that.”

“You would? Well, I don’t know. I’m afraid I don’t think much of it myself. The sun is getting too high. I ought to have stopped an hour ago, but I was interested and didn’t. However, I must go now.”

[156]“I am afraid I interrupted you,” said Jack anxiously.

“Oh, no, you didn’t, or if you did you did me a good turn, for I am only doing the thing harm by keeping on. It was better before I did this last bit.” He began to scrape out a part of the foreground, then prepared to pack up his painting kit. “Anyhow, it must be near dinner time from the looks of things,” he went on, “so I ought to get back.”

“Oh, dear, yes, I suppose it is near dinner time,” Jack responded. “Can you tell me if I am on the right road to Miss Marshall’s camp?”

“You will be if you turn right about face.”

“Oh, then the Indian was right after all.”

“The Indian? Old John? He’s a pretty good sort. Lives in a tent back there and makes baskets. Has some queer sort of herb medicine he sells, a panacea for all ills; has ointments, too. If he told you the way you could rely upon its being right, for he knows the place like a book. Comes up and pitches his tent every summer, sells his baskets and things.”

“Have you seen any of the girls come up the lake?” Jack asked after a moment.

“I saw some going down a while ago, toward the camp, you know. They paddle pretty well, those girls.”

[157]“My sister, Nan, paddles very well, so does Daniella Scott.”

“Are you staying at the camp?”

“Yes, all of us are.”

“And you expect to get back for dinner? Why, it’s three or four miles.”

“That’s what the Indian said, and I’ve gone further since then. Well, I shall miss my dinner, that’s all, and it will be the second time I’ve done that lately. However, the first time I had nothing at all to eat; this time I have.”

“Oh, you brought your lunch along; a wise precaution when one is off for a tramp in the woods.”

“It’s only carrots and buns; not exactly a lunch, you know.”

“Carrots and buns do make rather a peculiar combination. Do you mean to say you eat the carrots raw as one does turnips sometimes?”

“I never eat them at all.”

“Then why bring them at all? I am willing to concede that they might satisfy an eye for color, but I am sure I should never select them to ease the pangs of physical hunger unless there were nothing else.”

Jack laughed. “I didn’t bring them for myself. I brought them to lure Happy with. He is our mascot, a wild fawn that got hurt and that we took into camp and kept. He got[158] away last night and I started out to find him, so I brought the carrots and buns for him.”

“Oh, I see. Well, a wild fawn chase is as bad as a wild goose chase, you know, so I should give it up.”

“But if I don’t find him it will mean bad luck to the camp, for he is our mascot.”

“Don’t you believe it will bring bad luck. Why, I had a mascot once, a fox terrier, and all the time I had him I never sold a single picture, and the very day after he ran away I made a sale, so don’t you see it’s the having had a mascot, not the having it that brings the luck.” He spoke quite gravely, but looked up, with a twinkle in his eyes, from where he was strapping his easel together. Jack observed then that he was quite good to look upon, with shining brown eyes, a humorous mouth and a well-shaped nose. “Are you going to eat the carrots raw?” he asked as he straightened himself. “I am very curious on that point.”

“I shall not eat them at all; I’ll just eat the buns, although they are stale ones.”

“Rather a poor dinner. I wonder if I couldn’t offer you something better. You have a long walk before you and if you don’t mind sharing a bachelor’s meal I’d be delighted to share it with you.”

Jack was nothing if not unconventional and[159] the prospect of foregoing a solitary and rather unpalatable repast was a pleasant one, so she smiled her acquiescence.

“I’ve a little shack a few rods further,” the young man told her. “My name is Marcus Wells, Nota Bene, the boys call me. I hail from New York, at least that is my present abode, though I am a native of New Jersey. I am camping out for a season of summer sketching and just at present am lone and lorn, as my companion has taken it into his head to go off on a walking tour through the mountains. Therefore, Miss——” he paused. “I beg your pardon,” he said, flushing. “It doesn’t make any difference about the name. You are a damsel in distress. We will call you Carrotina Bunina, or, if you prefer it, Diana Piccola, little Diana, as you seem to be a huntress. How is that?”

“Oh, Diana, please. I don’t like to be named after vegetables.” Jack was quite ready for all this kind of nonsense; it was just the way Nan carried on, she thought.

“Well, my fair Diana,” the young man continued, “don’t disturb me for a moment while I run over in my mind the contents of my larder.” He marched on silently for a few minutes, lips pursed up and frowning brow. “Yes,” he said after a time, “I think we can make out. Can you cook?”

[160]“A little.”

“On a chafing-dish? We have one. Pinch generally does the cooking. I call him Pinch because he is always saying, ‘Just a pinch more of salt or of pepper’ or whatever it may be. He is very particular, is Pinch, and is a dabster at cooking. If he were here we’d have some Jim Dandy pancakes, but as it is, our menu must be: eggs done in a chafing-dish, if you can do them, potted ham, chicken or tongue or sardines, canned baked beans, if you care for them, ginger ale or coffee, crackers and cheese, and for dessert your buns and marmalade. Does that please the dainty palate of Lady Diana?”

“I think it’s fine,” responded Jack. “I can do the eggs. I can scramble eggs very nicely, if you have butter.”

“Oh, there’s butter and milk, too, if you need it. Then let us his us to the lodge in the wilderness, for in sooth I feel a craving for sustenance, lady. This poor body of mine has long been denied food. Yet, do not haste thee, sweet lady, or thy feet may become entangled in the wild waywardness of the grape which ambushes our way.”

He strode on, Jack by his side, till presently through the trees she saw a log cabin.

“Yonder is my poor dwelling which you will[161] presently honor with your fair presence,” said the artist. He tossed down his traps upon the ground outside, fitted a key in the lock and flung open the door. “Enter, sweet lady,” he cried. “Here I abide for a space. Yonder are the rude implements of my craft; there the poor results of my labor. Here I sleep upon this modest couch; there I warm my weary limbs before the open fire.”

“What a dear place,” exclaimed Jack, looking around her.

“It is rather nice, isn’t it?” said her host dropping his high-flown language. “I got those old quilts from a farmhouse, and isn’t that a jolly lot of plates? Same source. This pitcher I picked up away back in the mountains, real old Helmit, you see, and the plates are Wedgewood without doubt. The quilts make good portières, don’t you think? These rugs an old woman in one of the mountain villages did for me from rags she sewed herself, and the rest of the things Pinch and I have picked up here and there. My studio is beyond the curtain. I’ll show you it presently. Pinch and I built the cabin ourselves with a little local talent to help with the practical part. This is our third summer up here.”

“And don’t you love it?”

“I should say. Well, rather. Let us get[162] something to eat and then I’ll show you around.”

So in a few minutes they were merrily preparing the meal which was set forth on an old deal table in the most informal manner. Jack’s scrambled eggs turned out excellently and her buns formed a necessary adjunct to the bread supply. She insisted upon washing the dishes in a very housewifely way, to the great glee of her entertainer. “Great Cæsar!” he said, “but you are a cracker-jack at doing things. Lots of girls couldn’t, you know, not girls as young as you.”

“I’m thirteen,” returned Jack with dignity.

“Are you really? Well, that isn’t antique exactly, yet you’re tall for your age, too.”

“Jean, my twin sister, isn’t near so tall.”

“Is Jean at camp, too? How many of you are there?”

“We are four Corners,” laughing to see the puzzled look. “My name is Jacqueline Corner, then there are my sister Jean, Mary Lee and Nan. You ought to see Nan. She talks just that nice, funny way you do, and she is a darling. Most people think Mary Lee prettier because she has light hair and nice little features, but Nan has such eyes, like stars, and she has a face like April, so changeable; everything she feels she shows in her face, it is so expressive.[163] She is seventeen, nearly eighteen, and Mary Lee is just sixteen. Is that your violin, and can you play? Nan plays, oh, beautifully, on the piano.”

“It’s my violin, yes. Shall I give you a tune? I nearly always play after dinner, but I seldom care for an audience.”

“I should love to hear you. Won’t you please play for me?”

“Very well. Suppose we make believe that you are really the Lady Diana Piccola. I’ll dress you for the part. Wait half a minute.” He disappeared behind the curtain and came out with a long green cloak, a white veil, a scarf and some dull red draperies. “Found these in an old garret hereabouts. Great find. Gave a picture for them and think I got the best of the bargain,” he announced as he wound the red stuff around Jack’s waist, made a train of the cloak, draped the scarf across her shoulders and pinned the veil on her head with a queer ornament. “There,” he exclaimed, “you look stunning. I’d like to paint you just so. Sit there by the fireplace and I’ll play you a measure, fair Lady Diana.”

Jack took the place assigned her, and presently the young man was watching her with half-closed eyes as he drew his bow softly across the strings of his violin.

[164]It was a pretty picture, the little room, whose walls were of chinked logs, the stone fireplace, the wooden settle, the high-backed chair in which sat the little lady with the sun streaming through the open door upon the dull red brocade of her petticoat, and touching the gleaming ornament above her forehead.

“By jinks, I’d like to paint it,” said the artist, all his soul stirred by the subject as he played a quaint old gavotte to the child whose innocent little face looked saintly under her veil.

The music was going on, rising and falling in tender cadence when some one approached the little cabin attracted by the strains. “Who could be living in this queer little place?” thought Nan who, finding that no one had seen Jack since breakfast, started out in search of her. She had paddled up the lake almost to the point where the Indian’s tent was pitched. This was as far as she and Jack had ever gone. She had keenly scrutinized each little inlet and cove as she went past, but, seeing no sign of her sister, had concluded to go ashore and walk a little way through the woods. Here she came upon the Indian who gave her news of Jack whom, he said, he had seen taking the path northward along the lake. And so it was that Jack, listening to the music and dreamily gazing out the open door on the sunlit patches[165] between the trees, suddenly sprang to her feet.

“There’s Nan,” she cried, and sprang out the door, her garments trailing after her all unheeded.

Astonishment of the liveliest kind was on Nan’s face as she saw, flying from the mysterious cabin, the figure of a mediæval princess. Was she dreaming? Was the music a spell? Then her countenance partially cleared as she saw who it was. “Jacqueline Corner!” she cried. “What under the canopy of heaven are you up to now?”

“Oh, Nan, Nan,” cried Jack excitedly, “come in, do come in and see this darling place. You’ll just love it.” So Nan, perfectly unconscious of entering bachelor’s quarters, followed her sister to where the artist, whose sense of humor was ever present, still played the violin, waiting to see how the situation would develop.

“Mr. Wells,” said Jack in her best manner, “let me present you to my sister, Miss Nancy Corner.”

The young man tucked the violin under his arm and came forward. “Welcome to Place o’ Pines,” he said.

Even as Nan backed out the door her thoughts flew to her old haunt. How strange that the name she thought her own original invention[166] should be used away up here in Maine. “Oh, but,” she said as she hesitated upon the sill, “we mustn’t, you know. I—oh, Jack—do get your things and come. Mother doesn’t know where you are.”

“Oh, Nan, please just stay and see the studio,” begged Jack.

“Any one may visit a studio, I think,” said the young man, his eyes on Nan’s flushed face and troubled eyes.

“Oh, Nan,” Jack went on, “Mr. Wells has been so lovely. I went out to find Happy—I didn’t, by the way—and I got turned around so I was coming in this direction instead of going toward camp. I saw an Indian.”

“So did I,” Nan interrupted.

“And did he tell you about me?”

“Yes, and that is how I happened to find you.”

“Well, he told me to go the other way and I didn’t believe him, so I was coming along and saw Mr. Wells painting and I asked him the way. Then we got into conversation and he invited me to dinner. I didn’t have any, you know, except carrots and buns, and it was getting very late.”

“My sister has a propensity for flights like this,” said Nan a little more genially, as she turned to Mr. Wells. “I am very much obliged to you for looking after her.”

[167]“Oh, the pleasure was all mine,” he returned. “We’ve been pretending, and have had a fine time.”

“Yes, we have been making believe I am a lady in distress,” Jack informed her sister. “I am Lady Diana Piccola. You didn’t say who you are. You must be Sir somebody.” She turned to her host.

“Sir Nota Bene, you remember,” he said with a smile and a bow and Nan’s smile broadened.

“So,” Jack went on, “he dressed me up. Don’t I look fine? And he was playing the violin to me as you came along.”

“A plain unvarnished tale, Miss Corner,” Mr. Wells asserted. “We have been playing, and I haven’t enjoyed myself so much in a coon’s age, as my friend Paul Woods would say.”

“Paul Woods? Not Dr. Paul from Virginia?” said Nan.

“The same, and a dear old chap he is.”

“Dear me! Why, if you are a friend of his——” Nan paused.

“You will think better of me, I hope.”

“Any friend of Dr. Paul’s is a friend of ours. He is like a brother to us and has always been so good, to me in particular. I don’t know what I should have done without him in Munich.”

“Why, bless my soul, of course. I’ve heard him speak of the Corners dozens of times.[168] How stupid of me. But one doesn’t readily associate Munich or Virginia with Maine, does one?”

“Not readily. You must let me thank you again for being good to Jack, and—yes, I think we might take a peep at the studio, if you don’t mind.”

“I shall be charmed.” He drew aside the curtain for them and they entered a good-sized room with high windows toward the north. On a large easel stood an unfinished picture. There were queer firearms and bits of pottery scattered about; a spinning-wheel stood in one corner; a table littered with drawings and books was on one side; some queer old chairs held place elsewhere; a lot of canvases stood against the easel and a number of sketches were pinned on the wall. “Here’s where we work sometimes,” Mr. Wells told them. “Pinch goes in a little for illustration, but I am doing outdoor work, figures once in a while.”

Nan looked interestedly at the pictures. They were delicate and tender in color yet showed a certain vigor and sincerity. “I like them,” she said simply.

“Thank you; that’s more real praise than the exuberant gush one often gets,” the artist responded.

[169]Nan turned and looked at him. There was something familiar in his voice and looks. Where had she seen him before? Suddenly it came to her like a flash. “Why,” she exclaimed, “we have met before. Jack, don’t you remember the day we went up the mountain and it rained so? We were caught in the downpour and took refuge in that little hut.” Her eyes grew merry with the recollection.

“And you saved a starving man!” cried Mr. Wells. “Oh, yes, yes, I remember your friend who offered the bacon and bread, but I was too abashed to give a glance to the rest of you. Then, you see, Miss Nancy, heaven has permitted me to pay a part of my debt to your sister. Would that my friend, Pinch, were here!” He threw back his head and laughed. Nan laughed, too. “Weren’t we a sight?” he went on. “Those silly girls would rig up that way to go forth into the wilderness. They’d been staying over at Intervale, and came to this place for a day. One was Pinch’s sister; the other a friend of hers. Old Pinch has gone back with them and that is why I am solus.”

“We were sights, too,” said Nan.

“Oh, but such sensible sights, so well equipped for a mountain climb. I felt like a very Pariah in your midst I didn’t wonder that you fled from us.”

[170]Nan remembered why they had fled but did not think it necessary to inform him.

“So you see,” continued Mr. Wells, “we are really old acquaintances, and altogether it is quite a heaven-arranged meeting. Don’t you think I might call at your camp and ask your mother to allow Miss Jack to sit for me in this costume? I haven’t dared to mention it before, but I am wild to do a sketch of her, and I am sure your Dr. Paul will vouch for me.”

“I don’t know what mother will say, but it would do no harm to ask, I think,” Nan replied after reflection. “And now we must surely be going. Mother will be worried. She knows we do range off pretty much as we choose, but this time as Jack was not with any of us she will not be satisfied till she sees her. Thank you for letting us see your sketches. My canoe is just below here.”

So she and Jack made their adieux and were soon paddling back to camp. “That was an adventure, sure enough,” declared Nan as they neared the end of the journey, “but you mustn’t go off alone even to hunt mascots, Jack. Something dreadful might have happened. Suppose there had been no cabin in the woods and you had been there alone when night came.”

“But I shouldn’t have been, for after a while[171] I would have discovered that I was going wrong. I should have known it as soon as the sun began to get over the mountains. I know the west should be on my right when I go south toward camp.”

“But all the same you might have lost your way before dark.”

But Jack was not to be convinced. “At all events,” she said, “I should have found the Indian’s tent and his wife would have taken me in for the night.”

“You don’t consider the state of mind we all would have been in when night came,” Nan told her.

“No, I didn’t think of that,” Jack confessed. “Very well, I’ll not go off alone again, and anyhow we shall probably not have another mascot to lose.”






While Jack went to her mother to report, Nan betook herself to the tent where she found Mary Lee, Daniella and Jo in kimonos lying on their cots “fooling” in a manner most girls have. “Guess what, girls?” cried Nan poking in her head. “Such an adventure!”

“Do come in and tell us about it,” responded Jo. “Things are beginning to pall on this crowd and we want some excitement. What have you been doing?”

“Did you find Jack?” asked Mary Lee.

“Yes, I found her and in the finding came the adventure.”

“Where did you go?”

“Fortunately I went up the lake instead of down. I remembered the last time we were out together she said we had never gone into a certain little inlet and that she meant to explore it some day. So I paddled up that far, got out and discovered an Indian’s tent, one of those basket-makers, you know. Well, you remember how Jack always makes the acquaintance[176] of any one who happens to come along, so I thought I would inquire at the tent if she had been that way, and learned that she had gone along about noon, had inquired the way to our camp, and then had taken the path leading in the opposite direction. That decided me to follow her track and here came the adventure. I was going slowly along, looking this way and that, when suddenly out of a little log house, which I had never seen before, darted a mediæval princess.”

“You don’t by any chance mean a middle-aged lady?” inquired Jo lazily.

“Stupid! Don’t interrupt me at the most exciting point of my story. Well, when I saw this creature in dim red brocade, a green velvet train flowing out behind her and a white veil cascading down her back, you may imagine my surprise, and when I saw it was Jack you can imagine the still further surprise.”

“Jack!” came a chorus of astonished voices.

“Yes, my dears, Jack it was in the flesh, though I wasn’t sure for a moment whether I was dreaming or not. Oh, I forgot to tell you that before that, I had been attracted by sounds of a violin which issued from the little house. Some one was playing, and playing well. It was all like a fairy tale. Well, Jack dragged me toward the house insisting that I should go in and see it because it was so dear. In my innocence——”

Suddenly out Darted a Mediæval Princess

Suddenly out Darted a Mediæval Princess.

[177]“And curiosity,” put in Mary Lee.

“Of course curiosity. Who wouldn’t be curious under such circumstances? Well, I went in and—girls, you’ll never guess whom I saw there.”

“Not Miss Dolores,” Mary Lee cried.

“No. How could it be? You’re ’way off.”

“One of the girls from the Wadsworth school, Charlotte, maybe.” This from Daniella.

“Not old Blue China?” Jo sat up in her eagerness.

Nan shook her head. “No, no, you are not even tepid. Guess again.”

“Male or female?”


“Oh, now this is getting interesting,” declared Jo. “I believe it is Dr. Paul Woods. He is always bobbing up in unexpected places.”

“More likely Carter Barnwell,” remarked Mary Lee. “He spoke of coming on some summer and living out in the open.”

“Wrong again, though there is a faint connection between Jo’s guess and the reality, little as she suspects it.”

“Give it up. Tell us, Nan.”

“Well, the proprietor of said log cabin is no[178] less person than the gentleman to whom you proffered bread and bacon on that never-to-be-forgotten occasion when we shared the mountain hut with four much bedraggled strangers.”

“Nan!” Jo showed all the surprise Nan expected.

“True, oh, queen. I didn’t recognize him at first nor he me, but after a while we became vaguely conscious that we had met before. He is an artist by the name of Wells and he’s a perfect dear with the loveliest eyes, so full of fun yet with a serious expression at times.”

“Listen to her,” cried Jo. “Nan is really smitten.”

“I’m not,” returned Nan hotly. “I was only describing him to you. If you are going to talk that way I’ll not trouble you with any more of my story.”

“Now, Nancy, dear, you shouldn’t fall into the trap so easily,” said Jo coaxingly. “I was only trying to tease you. Go on. It is wildly exciting.”

Nan, somewhat mollified, resumed her tale. “Well, it seems that Jack came upon him in the woods where he was sketching, and as it was late, too late for her to walk back in time for dinner, he asked her to have dinner with him.”

“What in the world was Jack doing away[179] off there?” asked Mary Lee. “Did she have a canoe?”

“No, my dear. The little goose had gone forth to hunt Happy, who, I regret to say, has taken to the wilds again.”

“What a silly child. She might have known she could never find him. Jack is getting too big to do such things,” Mary Lee declared.

“Well, you know what a queer mixture of wisdom and childishness she is, and she thought she might be able to track him. She insists that she did for quite a distance. At all events, that is what she went for, and in following the path she somehow lost her bearings and thought she was coming toward camp instead of going from it. The Indian gave her the proper directions but she thought he was trying to induce her to go to his tent to buy baskets and she took the opposite way. She declares it was because it was high noon and the sun was overhead, otherwise she could have told the east from the west. However, there she was and had been having a royal time. Mr. Wells had dressed her up in some costumes he had and was playing the violin to her, pretending she was a Lady Diana something and he was her knight. It was the violin which made me stop. I was listening[180] and wondering who could be playing it when Jack rushed out.”

“Didn’t you feel queer to be calling on a young man?” inquired Mary Lee.

“I certainly did. I scarcely knew which way to look at first, but when he happened to mention Dr. Paul Woods and I found he knew him, we got quite chummy. I only stayed long enough to peep at his studio and for Jack to get off her rig and then we came right back. Oh, girls, it is the most charming little place once you are inside. I wonder none of us ever discovered it before. However, it is so hidden by great pine trees you would scarcely observe it from the lake and we never happened to land just there.”

“Did you find out who the superlative creatures were who were with him that day?” asked Mary Lee.

“Yes. At least I didn’t learn their names. The male creature he called Pinch, and it seems he shares the cabin with him when he is here. One of the girls was Pinch’s sister and the other a friend of hers. They have all gone back to the White Mountains where they have been spending the summer.”

“Peace be to their ashes. I don’t want to see them again,” said Jo fervently. “Your artist man is quite another thing; he was the[181] only decent one in the bunch. Do you suppose you will ever meet him again, Nan?”

“Oh, yes, I am pretty sure I shall. He wants to have Jack sit for him in that costume he diked her out in, and is coming to ask mother’s permission on the strength of his acquaintance with Dr. Paul.”

“How romantic! When he sees Daniella he will probably pine to paint her; they generally do rave over her coloring.”

“Now, Jo,” protested Daniella. “Only one person ever did.”

“You mean only one person really ever did paint you, but I am sure there were plenty more who wanted to.”

“I can’t understand his wanting to paint Jack,” remarked Mary Lee with a sister’s lack of admiration for one of her own family. “I don’t think she is a bit picturesque.”

“You should have seen her in that costume; she looked stunning,” declared Nan. “She is just at an awkward age now, but Jack isn’t going to be overlooked when she grows older. She is such a combination of saint and sinner that her face takes on the most varied expressions.”

“When’s the young man coming?” asked Jo. “I want to be on hand when that fortuitous moment arrives.”

[182]“Mercy me! I don’t know. I didn’t pin him down to times and seasons, Jo.”

“Well, it is refreshing to know there is a masculine element in the neighborhood,” remarked Jo.

“By the way,” put in Mary Lee, “do you know that our fellow campers leave next week, and that we shall be in sole possession unless others come? I am sure Miss Marshall would like to have a greater number. Daniella says that Effie Glenn and her brother would be glad to come if Miss Marshall would consent to making it a mixed camp.”

“Won’t she do it?”

“We don’t know; we haven’t asked. Perhaps she wouldn’t mind if they were our friends. There is no one but ourselves to object, and if mother and Aunt Helen are willing, I should think Miss Marshall and Miss Lloyd would be, too.”

“One boy wouldn’t go a great way,” remarked Jo reflectively.

“Still we know him and are sure he is a nice sort,” Mary Lee went on. “If we only could have more of our own kind we could have lots of fun, of course.”

“Why can’t we have more of our own kind?” asked Nan. “Don’t you remember that Ran and Ashby were crazy to come up[183] here and were so disappointed when they found out this was a girl’s camp?”

“To be sure. I haven’t a doubt but that they’d come in a minute. Do you know just where they are now, Nan?”

“I think they are still in Boston or somewhere around there. I have an address that will reach them.”

“What of Dr. Paul? Where and when does he take his holiday?” asked Jo.

“He only takes two weeks and hadn’t decided where he should go, but——”

“But he would be delighted to come, of course, you sly Nan,” said Jo. “Well, my dears, it is possible that we might get a reinforcement of four which would mount up to five if we include the artist, and six if his friend returns.”

“We’ll leave out the friend, if you please,” remarked Mary Lee. “No such disagreeable cad for me.”

“Perhaps he was only overcome with bashful gloom,” suggested Jo.

The others laughed. “How descriptive! Bashful gloom! I’ve heard of bashful smiles and of dreadful gloom, but never such a combination,” asserted Nan, “yet it may fit the individual.”

“I hope we shall never have the opportunity of finding out,” returned Mary Lee.

[184]“It is wrong, my dear, to harbor resentment,” said Jo sanctimoniously.

“Bah!” exclaimed Mary Lee disgustedly.

“I think you girls would better get into your clothes,” said Nan, “and then we can consult mother and Aunt Helen about the boys coming before we say anything to Miss Marshall about it. What did Effie say, Daniella?”

“She said she did so wish she could have a few weeks here with us and that she and Hartley were tired of the seashore and did I know of any camp for masculines in the neighborhood? If so she and Hartley could come together even if they stayed at different places.”

“Then we can certainly count on them. Let me see, two would be cousins and two would be friends, so there should be no objections and it certainly would made it livelier.”

There was a consultation in Mrs. Corner’s cabin and then a committee was deputized to go to Miss Marshall, Miss Helen consenting to head the investigating party. The upshot of the matter was that Miss Marshall readily gave her consent to the boys’ coming. “We often have men in September,” she said, “when other members of their families are already here, though we never take in any who do not belong in a way to those who are here. If Miss Glenn comes, surely her brother may too, while[185] your cousins will, of course, be quite as acceptable. As for Dr. Woods, though he is not exactly a relative——”

“He is the next thing to it,” declared Mary Lee, “for he is just like a brother.”

“And it would be very handy to have such a good doctor in camp,” observed Jack.

Miss Marshall laughed. “Let us hope his services will not be required, but we certainly will welcome him on your recommendation.”

So there was a speedy sending forth of letters and when it was announced that the camp’s number would probably be augmented by three or four young men it must be confessed that those who had determined to go elsewhere were a little regretful.

“You might have told us they were coming,” said Florence Yardley.

“We don’t know yet that they are,” Nan told her; “besides their coming depends on the going of you all, you see.”

“Oh, we’d be willing to give up our tent and go in with Bertha and Carrie,” said Alice. “Mother and Aunt Ellen could keep their cabin.”

“Or Miss Marshall could put up more tents,” said Carrie. “We would gladly stay only that we have made all our arrangements to go to[186] the shore and must not disappoint our friends there.”

Jo gave Nan a sly look. It was like both Carrie and Florence to be very sure their presence would be desired. “As if we cared,” said Jo later. “We shall have a much better time without them, I’m sure. It will be jolly to have just our own crowd.”

True to his word Mr. Wells was not long in appearing to prefer his request and succeeded in obtaining a reluctant consent from Mrs. Corner after Miss Helen had promised to go with Jack each time she should pose. The fact that the young man was a friend of Dr. Paul was in his favor and, moreover, he was liked on his own account. As soon as he found out there was a possibility of Dr. Paul’s coming to the camp he immediately raised a protest. “My dear lady,” he said to Mrs. Corner, “that won’t do at all. I must have him up at the shack, of course. I’ll write him this very night. With Pinch away I’m consumed with loneliness.”

“But if Mr. Pinch returns,” said Mrs. Corner.

A broad smile lighted up the young man’s face. “I beg your pardon, Mrs. Corner; his name isn’t Pinch, you know; that’s only a nickname. He is legally known as John Sylvester Romaine. But even if he comes back there is[187] room and to spare. We often put up three or four of the boys at Place o’ Pines.”

“Place o’ Pines!” The name again gave Nan a queer feeling. “Would you mind telling me how you happened to give your place that name?” she asked as she was walking to the lake with this new acquaintance. Being the eldest of the Corner girls this privilege was tacitly accorded her.

“Why, your Dr. Paul suggested it. At least he told me of a little girl he knew down there in Virginia who named her favorite haunt that, and used to go there to play on a make-believe piano made of an old log.”

The ready color flew to Nan’s cheek. To be sure Dr. Paul had not betrayed her name, but he had given up her secret to this stranger, and though long ago the place had been deserted and was now unused and neglected, Nan could but have a small pang and her face showed something of what she felt.

The young man watched her curiously and presently he said hesitatingly: “It couldn’t be that you were the little girl and that I have filched the name from you.”

“It was I,” responded Nan shyly.

“And you care. Oh, I am sorry. I’ll change the name at once. It hasn’t been called so before this summer, for I’ve never[188] found exactly what I liked for it, but when Dr. Paul told me about your Place o’ Pines the name haunted me and——”

“Please keep it,” said Nan impulsively. “There isn’t any Place o’ Pines down there now. It is only a memory, you see. I was a little girl, younger than Jack, when I thought of it and made it my special haunt. I told Dr. Paul about it and he was so interested, but——”

“He shouldn’t have told me, you think? He didn’t mention names, you see.”

“Oh, there was no harm in his telling, but it used to be such a great secret that I haven’t recovered from the feeling that it still must be. I’d like very much if you would name your place after mine. I ought to feel flattered and I do. It is like being godmother to a namesake.”

“How very sweetly you put it. I think you are very generous, and if you will be sponsor it will add still greater value to the name. It means very much more than it did to me, and it is our secret. Of course there is no use asking you if you like music. I saw it the very first day, and besides Jack told me you were a wonderful musician.”

Nan gave a deprecating shrug. “Jack is nothing if not enthusiastic and she thinks her old Nan does wonders, but my ambitions are[189] far ahead of what I can accomplish. I love music better than anything and I hope some day to play well; I can’t acknowledge more than that.”

“It is a pity there isn’t a piano in camp; we could have some duets together, couldn’t we? That’s one advantage I have over you; I can carry my instrument with me and you cannot However——” He stopped short and held out his hand. “Auf wiedersehen! We’ll get Dr. Paul up here and then we shall be over at your camp every day.”

He pushed off in his canoe and Nan watched him gliding up the lake. She was excited, thrilled. It was all so romantic, so fascinating. To meet an artist who loved music, who had named his place after hers and with whom she shared this secret! She stood watching the canoe disappear around the bend and then she went slowly back to camp, her heart beating fast. It was like Lohengrin leaving Elsa, only this knight would return.

Jo, waving a letter, met her before she had gone far. “Open it quick, Nan. Jack thinks it must be from Ran Gordon for it is postmarked Boston. Do hurry and tell us if they are coming.”

Nan gave a sigh and reluctantly left her day-dreams. Of what importance was a common-place[190] cousin by the side of the knightly Lohengrin? Yet she was interested enough to break the seal of her letter and to announce that Ran and his brother Ashby were coming the first of the following week.

“Good!” cried Jo. “Daniella has heard from Effie and she’ll be here with Hartley on Saturday. So we’re all right. Now there is only Dr. Paul to be heard from.”

“Mr. Wells is going to write to him to-day,” Nan told her. “He insists that Dr. Paul shall be his guest and in all probability he can persuade him.”

“So much the better, for of course we shall see them both more frequently. Your artist seems a jolly good fellow and I know he will be no end of fun when we know him better. What do you suppose he said to me?”

“What?” said Nan, feeling a moment’s bitterness.

“He said I had saved his life and that he would show his gratitude by giving a picnic in my honor, when he would be the one to supply the eatables and would I fry the bacon, please; he liked it burnt on the edges.”

Nan made no answer, for a wild feeling of jealousy completely submerged her speech.





The next week saw lively times at Camp Happiness. Effie and her brother were the first arrivals and at once became enthusiastic over the camp, the lake, the mountains and the woods. They were good friends of Daniella’s, among the very first she had made after entering Miss Barnes’s school, and during the absence of the Corners in Europe, Daniella had found the Glenns a great comfort. Effie was a nice sensible girl of sixteen; her brother Hartley, two or three years older, was devoted to outdoor sports. He was an expert swimmer, knew all about water craft and was altogether just the sort of boy to enjoy camp life.

These two had scarcely settled down when Randolph and Ashby Gordon appeared. Ran was a little older than Hartley, Ashby a little younger. The former already considered himself a man, and was just at the age when girls who wore their hair down their backs were regarded as mere children, therefore Ran was quite free and easy with them all, the more[194] especially as he and the Corners were cousins and he had met both Jo and Daniella. Ashby was a quiet boy, but as Nan once said of him, “his appreciation of what others said was worth more than some persons’ faculty for conversation.” Dr. Paul was the last to arrive, but went directly to Place o’ Pines with Marcus Wells who met him at the end of the stage route when the two took a short cut across country, the doctor sending his luggage by ’Lish in the wagon.

Both young men appeared that same evening. Nan was the first to see the lanterns bobbing along the path by the lake. “I do believe here they come,” she cried.

“What they?” asked her mother with a smile.

“Why, Dr. Paul and Mr. Wells. You know Mr. Wells went over to meet Dr. Paul this morning.”

“How did you learn so much?”

“’Lish told me that he had brought the doctor’s valise this far and that he had arrived on the stage. I suppose they have come down in the canoe, and will take the valise back with them. They are coming directly up from the lake.”

“Oh, I see, and I suppose you are very glad Dr. Paul has come.”

[195]“Of course. Aren’t you? I thought you were so fond of him, mother.”

“I am, my dear, very fond of him.”

Nan looked a little puzzled; she did not quite fathom what was in her mother’s mind. Her own innocent pleasure was nothing she cared to hide. “I’m going to get the rest and we’ll all go meet them,” she said. “We’ll get up a triumphal procession,” and off she flew.

First she hunted up the girls. “Combs, girls,” she cried, “two or three. Get the call-bell from the dining-room. Run, Jack, quick. Mary Lee, where is that little bell you bought at the shop the other day? Get it. I am going to see if I can borrow two or three tin pans. We are going to meet Dr. Paul with the band and escort him into camp.”

“What larks!” cried Jo. “Are they coming?”

“They are nearly here. We shall have to hurry if we want to surprise them. Some of you tell the boys and meet me here right away.” And Nan hastened off to the kitchen to secure the tin pans and spoons.

Therefore as the two visitors approached the camp they were suddenly surprised by the apparition of a body of young people, popping out of the darkness, who set up a clatter of shrilling combs, tinkling bells, and clamoring[196] tin pans. Nan’s wits had been equal to a gathering of the clans.

“What a delightfully quiet spot,” were the first words the party lying in ambush heard, and Jack’s giggle was drowned in the sudden signal Hartley gave, as heading the band, he sprang out with an Indian war-whoop. Then the noise began amid laughter, exclamations and prayers to stop.

“You don’t appreciate the honors thrust upon you, Dr. Paul,” cried Jo. “You are far too modest a hero. We have come to escort you to camp.”

“I am not the discoverer of the North Pole. I assert that firmly and distinctly,” he began.

“But you have come as far north as you could,” retorted Jo. “We don’t ask to see your charts. We are trusting to circumstantial evidence. See the conquering hero comes, girls. Start it up.”

“But why hero?” inquired the doctor, trying to make his voice heard above the din.

“Any one is a hero who is willing to trust himself to the tender mercies of this crowd,” explained Jo.

“Fall into line,” called out Nan, with a bang on her pan. “One, two, three. Keep step, please. Mr. Wells, you will have to go ahead with the lantern.”

[197]“As if any one could keep step on this uneven ground,” complained Jean who failed to appreciate the subtlety of Nan’s joke.

So laughing, stumbling, making all the racket they could, they escorted the doctor to Mrs. Corner’s tent where he was received sensibly. “I might have known what to expect,” he said after the greetings were over, “though I must say I was rather startled. That war-whoop coming out of the darkness was most uncanny, and gave one a creepy feeling of having really fallen into the hands of the redskins. You were startled, too, Marc; you needn’t deny it.”

“I’m not ‘denying’ it, Betsy,” he replied. “Shall I set the lantern outside, Mrs. Corner? Are we to come in?”

“We are to go over to the living-room. There is a fine fire there,” Nan told him. “You and mother take them over, Aunt Helen, and present the hero properly to Miss Marshall and Miss Lloyd, while we girls go hunt up the feast, for of course there must be a feast. We haven’t any, but we’ll find one.”

She went off leaving the young men to the older ladies, while with the rest of the girls she collected such odds and ends as she could. A few peanuts, half-empty boxes of candy, crackers in a broken state, some miserable looking grapes were found.

[198]“Let’s have everything,” demanded Nan, “the more measly looking the better. I know some one must have some stale cakes, or buns or something.”

Jo produced some week-old doughnuts after rummaging around for a while. Jack found some lozenges and pop-corn left over from the last visit to the little country shop, and this was all that could be scared up.

“If we had some cheese we could make a rarebit,” said Mary Lee.

“Oh, no, we’d better not attempt one. You remember how stringy the last was,” Jo reminded her. “The cheese we get from the store isn’t the proper kind for rarebits. We could make fudge if Miss Marshall has the things.”

“We’ll ask,” said Nan. “This will do to begin with.”

The stuff was arranged in the most elaborate manner and carried solemnly to the living-room where it was set grandly forth to the amusement of those who had gathered there.

“Did you ever see such a poverty-stricken array?” laughed Miss Lloyd. “Couldn’t you do better than that, girls?”

“Why, there surely is variety enough,” said Nan in pretended surprise, “and the things were all very good—when they were fresh.[199] Dr. Woods, allow me to press a few grapes upon you; they are only a week old.”

“Don’t press them on him, Nan,” cried Jo. “You might stain his nice white flannel coat.”

“Then I will press a lozenge on him,” said Nan, laying one on the doctor’s sleeve and firmly bearing her thumb down upon it.

“It really does put us to shame,” insisted Miss Lloyd. “Nan, I do think we could manage something better.”

“Oh, please, Miss Lloyd, we don’t want better. We never before had such a fine opportunity of disposing of left-overs.”

“But, my dear, the stuff isn’t fit to eat.”

“Oh, never mind; it isn’t really indigestible, though we could make fudge or something if you have the ingredients.”

“Why, of course we have. Let me see: Chocolate, sugar, milk, butter. You shall have them.”

“Thank you, Miss Lloyd,” Nan responded. “We will get to work. In the meantime, my friends, try to restrain your eagerness for the delicious viands set before you, and later we will offer you something which you may prefer, though how you can, is beyond my comprehension.”

The materials for the fudge were brought in and Mary Lee, as head cook, prepared it over[200] the chafing-dish. It turned out to be a great success and merriment ran high. While the fudge was cooling Mr. Wells announced that there would be a picnic the next day, starting from Place o’ Pines.

“Have any of your party ever been to Upper Pond?” he asked. No one had. “Then you have a treat before you. It is simply gorgeous. You have to canoe from here to a point a little above our place, then we shall have to portage across to the pond, about half a mile. The rest of the way we go in canoes to the upper end of the pond. I think we can manage it if you fellows are up to carrying the canoes. Do you ladies think you can be equal to the walk across country?”

“Is it very rough walking?” asked Mrs. Corner.

“Not so very. There is a pretty good path.”

“I think, then, if I can take it slowly, I’ll be able to do it. I am not up to climbing heights, but a slow walk on a level is all right.”

“Then you will get along nicely, for there is no climbing at all. So, good people, you are all bidden to the picnic. No one is to bring any provisions. This is my show. I promised Miss Jo I would repay her for feeding me on a late unforgettable occasion, and she is to cook the bacon this time.”

[201]Again a pang assailed Nan’s heart. Jo was always so popular. Every one liked her. She could be so droll and amusing, so original and without any consciousness. She was the most spontaneous creature, not in the least diffident, and ready to hold her own on every occasion. No wonder a man like Mr. Wells could appreciate her. Jo wasn’t a bit pretty, but she had such a merry face, such a saucy little turned up nose. As Nan thought of this she shrank away into a corner, all her exuberance of spirits suddenly gone.

After a while Dr. Paul came over to where she was silently watching the fudge-making and listening to the merry sallies of wit. “This is the jolliest thing that has happened since our Munich days,” he said contentedly dropping down on the big settle by her side.

Nan brightened a little as she always did when any one mentioned Munich. “Those were good days,” she returned. “Don’t you often wish yourself back there?”

“I must confess that I sometimes do. I made some good friends there whom I should like to see again.”

“So did we all, I think. Do you remember Herr Greencap, Dr. Paul?” Somehow Jo’s affairs were in her mind overtopping all else.

“Yes, a bad lot, wasn’t he?”

[202]“And you were so good about getting Jo out of that scrape. She has never mentioned his name since, and I don’t believe she was ever more ashamed of herself. She has been most particular whom she encourages, and always consults mother or Aunt Helen when she is with us.”

“That shows she is the right sort. I’d rather a person would have a fault, acknowledge and mend it than go blindly on in an obstinate, colorless goody-goody way, for such seldom admit error when temptation comes. It takes a strong character to resist, or rather to overcome and to acknowledge the fault.”

“Oh, Jo would always be frank. There isn’t the least sneakiness about her, and yes, she has a strong character, I am sure.”

“Do you ever hear anything about Frau Pfeffer and her family?” asked the doctor still remembering Munich days.

“That was another time you came to our aid. Yes, we hear through Mr. Pinckney. They are all doing well and as happy as clams at high tide.”

“Your friend Miss Dolores is not married yet?”

“No, but she will be in October or a little earlier. We shall all be on hand, of course.”

[203]“Do you remember a wedding we once saw in the Frauenkirche?”

“Yes, wasn’t it fine? There was so much that was fine. Oh, I would like to go back, Dr. Paul.”

“Perhaps we shall some day.”

“What are those two mooning about over there?” said Mr. Wells watching Jo mark off the squares of fudge.

“Oh, they are reminiscing probably. Get Nan on the subject of Munich and she is happy.”

“She has known Dr. Woods a long time, I believe.”

“All her life. His father is the Corners’ family physician and they are all devoted to both father and son.”

“Well, Paul is an all right fellow, straight as a die and with a heart of gold.”

“Have you known him long?”

“We met in Europe, but saw a good deal of one another. A friend of mine, a fellow artist, was ill in Munich and—well, Dr. Paul pulled him through mentally, physically and financially. I appeared on the scene during the convalescing period and that’s how I came to know him so well. Poor old Crackers was pretty well done out before Dr. Paul got hold of him.”

[204]“What names you do have for one another. Pinch and Crackers, for example. Why Crackers?”

“Oh, because he used to live on broken crackers and swear he liked them better than anything you could give him. Poor old chap! I knew him first in Paris. He has the stuff in him all right if he can only hold out till he gets recognition.”

“Is he over there still?”

“Yes, working away as faithfully as his strength will allow. He had a pretty bad breakdown, but he is coming out all right. Some of the boys who know of it are watching him to see that he has a stronger diet than crackers.”

“And your own recognition?”

“Oh, I’ll never have any. I don’t have to live in a garret and stir my tea with a stick of charcoal, so I shall probably never arrive. However, life is pretty good to me. I am not made of such fine clay as Crackers or Dr. Paul.”

“That is modest of you, so you can be accredited with at least one virtue.”

“It doesn’t take much modesty to place myself below such men.”

“Don’t you love your profession?”

“Great Cæsar’s ghost! Of course I do, but that isn’t the point. The point is that I would[205] not make the sacrifices that either of those two would do. I wish I dared ask your friend Miss Nan to sit for me. Do you believe she would? She is so picturesque.”

“Why don’t you ask her?”

“I’m afraid of her. Her eyes look right into my soul and I feel as if she would quickly discover anything ignoble there, yet I like to watch her face when she isn’t aware of it. I never saw a more expressive one.”

“Nan is fine,” said Jo emphatically. “She has the finest sort of standards. She is practical, yet romantic to her finger-tips, what they call the artistic temperament, I suppose, but it isn’t the kind that sometimes makes perfect fools of people.”

Mr. Wells laughed. “I allow that the artistic temperament is made up in several qualities of goods. So Miss Nan’s is of the first quality, I suppose.”

“It certainly is. I know how loyal a friend she can be and how she sacrifices herself every time. She has always been a buffer for Jack, the little sinner. But Jack will come out all right, or I don’t know her sister.” Then she launched forth into an account of some of Jack’s escapades which included Nan’s share in shielding the small sister, while Nan, watching from her corner, little[206] knew that the talk related to herself, and that Jo’s praises were more to her advantage than a talk with herself would have been, for so shy was she of this new acquaintance that she was mute before him when the two were alone. Jo had been having it all her own way, she believed, and she went to bed as romantically unhappy as seventeen can be.

Yet she was as eager as any one to start on the next day’s expedition, for with the morning everything took on a rosier hue, and life was quite worth living when one had good times ahead in which figured the object of one’s romantic dreams.

“Isn’t it the most wildly delightful way to go?” said Jo. “Just like the voyageurs, and isn’t Mr. Wells a perfect dear, Nan?”

“He is a very pleasant gentleman,” returned Nan as coldly as possible.

“What an unenthusiastic person. Don’t you like him?”

“Oh, yes, well enough,” returned Nan indifferently, though wondering if Jo noticed the color rising to her cheeks.

“He is much more taken with you then,” said Jo. Then receiving no answer, “You are so indifferent I don’t suppose you want to hear any of the nice things he was saying about you last night.”

[207]If she could but know how insanely eager she was to learn them, thought Nan, though at the same time determining not to give an inkling of this state of feeling. However, she temporized by saying, “Oh, men say a lot of things they don’t mean.”

“He meant these all right. He said he was wild to ask you to sit for him, but he was afraid of you, for you had such wonderful eyes and he said you were so picturesque; that is more than any one ever can say of me.”

Nan’s heart was beating high, her hands were cold and her temples throbbing. They had been talking of her and he had said that. He was afraid of her! Oh, wonder of wonders!

“Well,” said Jo.

Nan gathered breath to say, “That was very nice of him, I am sure, though he doesn’t strike me as a young man who would be afraid of any one.”

“That’s all you know about it.”

“He isn’t afraid of you; it is very apparent.” Nan was sorry to have said this before the words were fairly out. Jo had been so generous in not keeping these compliments to herself as a girl with a meaner spirit would have done.

“Me? Of course nobody is ever afraid of[208] me. I am too roly-poly, and a nose like mine doesn’t inspire awe.”

“I am sure mine is not so very much larger, if at all,” Nan hastened to say.

“No, but it is a different shape. A turned up nose is too trivial to excite reverence. Oh, no, I am a good comrade, Nan, but I don’t believe any man will ever really fall in love with me.” A statement which Nan denied utterly, and the subject of the artist was lost in the discussion which followed.

Yet Nan had meat enough to feed her soul upon that day, and trod on air as she went forth to her canoe. Never was fairer sky nor more placid lake, never expedition so well planned, never romance so well begun. There was poetry in the very noise of the paddles as they dipped in the water; there was music in the ripple of the waves against the canoes; there was heaven in the thought that all day she would be within sight and hearing of this knight, this Lohengrin—or this Siegfried—she was not sure which to call him. If Siegfried, then she was Brunhilde to lose him through unfaithfulness on his part; if Lohengrin, through lack of faith on hers. She sat dreaming in the canoe which Ran was paddling, and was so absorbed that she did not hear him speak till he sprinkled her with a few drops from the paddle.

[209]“What a girl you are, Nan,” he exclaimed. “Lost in dreams, of course.”

“It is so lovely,” sighed Nan, coming back to earth.

“I agree with you, but it would be lovelier if you would speak to a fellow once in a while.”

“Oh, I beg your pardon,” said Nan, flushing up. “I’m very stupid, Ran. I promise not to be such a dreamer again. What were you saying?”

“I was asking if you had decided on your college yet.”

“Oh! Why no, not entirely. My certificate will admit me to any of several, so I am considering, and am not sure which.”

“You are pretty bright to be able to get in at all at your age.”

“Oh, but you see I am lucky in making much of my French and German. I have had unusual advantages in some directions, and Aunt Helen has been such a help with English and History of Art.”

“No co-ed, I suppose.”

“Well, no, not but that they have their advantages.”

“You’ll not go too far north, I hope.”

“Probably not. I think not beyond New York, anyway.”

[210]“That’s good. So much the better chance for seeing you sometimes. And the others?”

“They’ll go back to Miss Cameron’s, and next year I hope Mary Lee will enter college. I’m the pioneer, you see. Jo is ready to go, but Daniella will have a long time to wait, if she goes at all.”

“Isn’t she stunning? I say, Nan, who could ever recognize her in that little po’ white girl you all found up there in the mountains?”

“She is very grateful that you boys don’t seem to remember that.”

“We’re gentlemen, I hope, and besides she is all right in every way and we should be proud to be her friends. I see the canoes ahead are turning so I suppose we are nearing the end of the first stage of our journey.”

Nan looked over her shoulder to see Dr. Paul and his friend standing on the green shore, and the glory of her day began.






Upper Pond was truly a fairylike spot. Slim white birches, tall oaks and towering pines were reflected in the glassy water which was fringed by bushes and flowering weeds, the doubles of which looked up from the still depths. As the paddles dipped into the quiet surface an eagle soared away from the top of a lofty pine tree. The water was so clear one could see the smooth pebbles and shining sand at the bottom of the pond, and as the canoes glided along, they and their occupants were mirrored below.

The party was variously divided; Nan, to her joy, found herself in the same canoe as Marcus Wells, and watched him skilfully paddling in advance of the rest. “It reminds me of the gondolas on the Grand Canal,” she said presently.

“You’ve been to Venice then. Isn’t it great?”

“It is wonderful, though this is as much so in its way. Paddling a canoe must be something like rowing a gondola.”

[214]“Something, but I’d make an awkward figure as a gondolier.”

“Did you ever try it? Ever so many Americans do.”

“I did, but though I managed to make the thing go, I knew the good Antonio was secretly amused, for I am sure I was as stiff as a ramrod, just as all are who are not born to it.”

Nan had her own ideas about this, but she did not contradict the young man. In her opinion he was grace itself, and she doubted if ever any gondolier surpassed him.

It was not a very long distance to the spot which Mr. Wells had chosen for their landing and here the hamper was set ashore. It had been something of a tug to get things over, but all had given a willing hand and so it was managed, yet all decided that it was none too soon to begin preparations for the lunch, as every one was tired and hungry. There was a small fireplace already built, showing that the spot was no new discovery.

“We are going to have some fish,” Mr. Wells told them as he threw out some rods and lines. “I’ll show whoever cares to go fishing, where he or she can get plenty of trout. Then some one must gather wood and some can open the cans and set the table. Here’s the table.” He indicated a large flat rock a convenient distance[215] from the fire. “To Miss Jo is given the high office of chief bacon fryer, and whoever will can undertake the coffee. Now you know what is to be done, please pitch in.”

The Gordon boys and Hartley Glenn voted for fishing, Nan offered to make the coffee, Mrs. Corner and Miss Helen opened the hamper, Mr. Wells started the fire, while the rest gathered wood and set the table, all but Jo who clung to her package of bacon and the frying-pan.

Mr. Wells was a most efficient host. He was everywhere, helping this one, joking with that, lugging water from a near-by spring, replenishing the fire. The fishermen, though a little dubious when they started off, were not a great while in returning with the fish which were set to cook on the flat stones heated for the purpose.

“I couldn’t have believed we’d be so lucky in so short a time,” said Hartley. “This is a great place, Wells. Your discovery?”

“Not exactly. I suppose some hundreds of years ago the Indians made it a favorite camping ground for we find traces of them now and then, but I confess to have come upon it unawares one day when I was off prospecting for suitable subjects to paint. I haven’t written the place up, nor have I gone so far as to sound its praise too widely, so pray be cautious how[216] you let the public in on the ground floor as it were, or I’ll have to get the owner to put a fence around it.”

“Then there is an owner?”

“Yes, an old fellow who owns some acres of wild land of which this is a part. Are we ready? I am sure those fish are done, don’t you think so, Mrs. Corner? Try this one.” He deftly lifted the fish from the hot stone and offered it to Mrs. Corner on a bit of birch bark, a pile of which he had prepared to be used as plates. “Some salt in that hamper, Miss Jo?”

Jo managed to find it. Then the coffee was rescued from the smoking fire, but only after the handle of the coffee-pot had dropped off. The tin cups, which all carried hanging from their belts, were filled, the remaining fish were dished up on the birch-bark plates and every one was served.

“I never tasted anything more delicious,” declared Miss Helen. “This is a feast for the gods.”

“And in a banquet hall to match,” said Nan, “a very Walhalla.”

“Good name, Miss Nan,” cried their host. “Walhalla it shall be from henceforth, for we are in a castle rock-bound and in the clouds.” He pointed to the craggy heights surrounding[217] the little pond which lay like an iridescent jewel in the midst of the green.

The hamper showed a surprising array of food for the locality and as each article was passed around some one would exclaim, “Why, where did you get this?” Blueberry pies, doughnuts, spice cakes, crackers, cheese, homemade bread and butter, jams and jellies, olives, and as a crowning dish, chicken salad.

“Well, I never!” cried Jo. “What a provider you are. How you managed to compass all this I can’t see.”

“How they managed to lug it all over here is what I can’t see,” said Miss Helen.

“We took turns, you know, and it was not so very heavy when we had put a pole through the handles of the hamper,” said Ran.

“But where did you get fresh pies and fresh bread?” asked Mrs. Corner.

“I’ll let you into the secret, which after all isn’t much of one. I have a good friend in my neighbor, Mrs. White, who, when given sufficient notice, can get me up almost anything. The salad I must confess to having been a little dubious about, but among the supplies Pinch and I had sent from Portland was a can of olive oil and I made the dressing myself, if you must know.” Mr. Wells was really a little abashed.

[218]“Good boy!” cried Dr. Paul. “It takes an artist to do a thing up brown. You didn’t live four years in Paris for nothing, Marc.”

Mary Lee, with housewifely care, insisted that the remains of the feast should be packed away for future use and then while the older ladies rested under the shade of the trees, the younger ones declared for exploring the surroundings. They broke up into separate parties which went in different directions to meet later for the trip home.

Mr. Wells tossed his sketching kit into his canoe and looked a little hesitatingly at Nan. “I wonder if you’d care to go to the head of the pond,” he said. “A little way up a small stream that I know of it is very lovely.” Now was his chance to get a sketch of the girl who, in her big hat, short skirt, white jumper, with red handkerchief knotted around her throat, looked picturesque enough.

But when the opportunity was within her grasp Nan was shy. She turned to her mother. “Don’t you want me to read to you, mother?” she asked.

“Why, no, dear, not if you would like to go. I’m sure Mr. Wells will take good care of you and it isn’t far.”

“No, quite near,” Mr. Wells assured her, more eager because of the apparent reluctance.[219] “It is just up there a little way. You could see the spot from here but for the foliage.”

Nan turned to Dr. Paul, who was waiting, too, for her decision. “What are you going to do?” she asked.

“Well, I haven’t quite made up my mind. Mary Lee, Miss Jo, Miss Daniella and Miss Glenn have gone off with Hartley and the Gordon boys, so if you go with Marc, I shall probably devote myself to the twins. No one ever lacks entertainment where Jack is.”

This decided Nan. Dr. Paul would see to it that the twins were not neglected, and brought face to face with the choice of going with the doctor instead of the artist she found she could not withstand the temptation of the latter’s invitation. She had not shown herself eager and that was a satisfaction. So she stepped into the canoe and they pushed off. The canoe moved up the pond and was presently lost to sight in the bending branches of green which hid the mouth of the little stream where the fishermen had found their trout.

Meanwhile the others had gone off in an opposite direction, to explore the further side of the pond and, if possible, to climb a giant rock upon whose top was the tall pine tree from which the eagle had flown. Eagle Rock they had dubbed this and found the climb to its top[220] a difficult one, though equipped as they were, and with the help of the boys, the four girls managed to scale the height to find themselves overlooking farm lands in the valley beyond, and further away the Presidential range of the White Mountains towering above the lower peaks.

“It was worth coming for,” declared Daniella with glowing face, “though it was a hard climb.”

“We ought to have had alpenstocks,” said Hartley.

“What’s the matter with cutting some now?” said Ran. “We’ll really need them more going down than coming up. There are plenty of saplings about.” He drew his knife from his pocket and began to hack away at one of the slim, straight, young trees close by.

Hartley followed suit, but the loose stones upon the sloping side of the spot where he was standing made a precarious footing, and in his exertions the stones gave way causing his knife to slip and give him an ugly gash across his left hand, nearly severing one of his finger-tips.

Jo was the first to perceive the accident and she ran to Hartley’s side. He was bleeding profusely. Jo whipped off the tin cup hanging from her belt. “Here,” she called out sharply. “Somebody get some water, quick.”

[221]Daniella grabbed the cup and rushed off. There was a small trickling stream near by to which she hurried. Effie, meantime, had come up and turned sick and faint at the sight of the blood covering her brother’s hand. “Oh, Hartley,” she quavered, “is it very bad?”

“He has about cut off the end of one of his fingers, that’s all,” said Jo. “Don’t faint, Effie,” she added commandingly, seeing Effie turn as white as a sheet. “Hartley has to be attended to; we can’t hold you up, too.” She had already clapped the end of the finger back in place and had wrapped her handkerchief around it to stop the bleeding. Presently Daniella came hurrying back with the water with which Jo carefully washed the wound, then diving into her pocket she drew forth a small case. “Can you stand a few stitches?” she asked Hartley. “We haven’t any plaster, you see, and it may save you further trouble.”

“I’ll stand it,” said Hartley grimly, though he winced and set his teeth when Jo, after threading her needle, took several stitches in the severed flesh.

“There,” she said, “you stood it like a soldier. A clean handkerchief, if any one has it. Mine is about used up. I hope you don’t mind my tearing it,” she said as Effie produced hers.

“As if Hartley’s comfort wasn’t worth a dozen[222] handkerchiefs,” replied Effie who had recovered her composure.

Jo made a neat bandage, sewed it firmly on and pronounced the operation over.

“That’s perfectly great,” declared Hartley. “Jo, you are a first-class surgeon. I don’t believe any one could beat that job. I am your eternal debtor.”

“If it isn’t all right, Dr. Paul can make it so,” Jo told him. “Fortunately we have a doctor at hand. I don’t suppose mine is skilled labor at all, but it will serve till something better can be done. It will hurt like the mischief for a while, I suppose, and perhaps we had best get back to the doctor.”

“No one need ever say again that Jo isn’t expert with her needle,” said Mary Lee admiringly. “How did you ever happen to have a needle and thread with you? You of all persons who never sew until you are obliged and compelled to.”

“Why, it was sheer luck. Aunt Kit made me the little housewife and stuck it in the pocket of this skirt; she gave me the skirt, you know, and insisted that it should have a pocket. Well, the little case has stayed just where she put it, for I never bothered to take it out, and fortunately I remembered it at the right moment.”

[223]“If it hadn’t been for your quick wits as well as for your skill very probably I should have lost the top of my finger,” said Hartley gratefully.

There was no more cutting of alpenstocks in this particular spot, but eventually each one of the girls was provided with one and one was cut for Hartley. The Gordon boys, being familiar with steep mountains in their own part of the country, declared they could do without them. Before they reached the foot of the rock Jo was invested with the title of “First Aid to the Injured” given with due ceremony. She was made to kneel down upon the grass; the other girls crossed their alpenstocks over her head while Ran tapped her on the shoulder with a pretended sword. “Rise, Lady Knightess,” he said, and Jo arose amid acclamations and congratulations. The title proving too heavy a one it was shortened to “Aid” before they reached the end of their walk, and this was a favorite nickname from henceforth.

They found Dr. Paul had just returned from taking the twins around the pond and the patient was brought to him. He examined the hurt carefully. “First-rate,” he gave his opinion. “I don’t believe I could have done better myself. Miss Jo, you ought to study medicine, or trained nursing, at least.”

[224]“Oh, dear me,” returned Jo, “what would little Josie do while she was waiting for practice? She couldn’t live on stale pills, and if she devoured the sample bottles of tonic sent her she’d be all the hungrier for real food.”

“But you’d make such a famous trained nurse.”

“Oh, but I never did like striped gowns, and I can’t bear the smell of ether.”

“You’d get used to it.”

“Perhaps. Very well, if I call upon you for a recommendation I shall expect you to forward it promptly.”

“I’ll certainly do it,” responded the doctor heartily. “Such ability oughtn’t to be wasted. That is a very neat piece of work. If the wound was well washed I don’t think you will have any trouble with it, Hartley, for it was evidently a clean cut. We’ll stop at our place on the way home and I’ll give you something to ease it a little.” The finger was bound up again and the bandage neatly sewed on, Jo’s needle and thread again being called for, while every one agreed that such a little housewife as hers should be a necessary part of every camping outfit.

“That’ll be work for the next rainy day,” said Miss Helen.

“Then we must all make a journey to the country store for materials,” said Mary Lee.

[225]“Good! It’ll be a fine excuse for going,” said Daniella. “We can all make a shopping trip to-morrow if nothing happens.”

Meanwhile Nan and her cavalier were ensconced in the quietest of nooks not far away. Here the stream narrowed so one could touch the trunks of the trees arching overhead. Wild little creatures rustled among the leaves on the ground, bounding away as the canoe softly crept up the small waterway. The birds, so wild as to have little fear, swung in the branches above or, with slanting wing, skimmed the surface of the water. One could see in the clear stream a wary fish suddenly darting away, and once a wild goose, paddling up-stream, arose with a cry and plunged into the deep forest. Except for the sounds of the woodland creatures the place was so still one could hear the fall of a leaf on the ripples below.

“Are you going to sketch?” asked Nan as her companion laid his box on the grass.

“If you will sit for me.”

“I? With all this loveliness about us?”

“It is lovely, but it isn’t paintable, that is to say, not very, and I haven’t dared to ask you before to sit.”

“But why?”

“I don’t know. You seem to stay in a world of thought sometimes where I can’t find you,[226] only I know you are there by a look in your eyes.”

“Oh.” Nan did not know what to say to this. She was not used to talk of this kind.

“And will you give me a sitting? I won’t keep you very long. Just sit there in the prow of the boat and I’ll get out my colors in a jiffy. There, like that, and will you take off your hat? Thank you. That’s great. Just what I’ve been longing for.”

Nan sat very quietly in a sort of dream. Once in a while her companion made a remark, but he was absorbed in his sketch and did not talk connectedly. It was enough for Nan that he was there, that she was alone in this romantic spot with this creature of genius. Oh, it was wonderful! The water rippled softly about the keel of the boat, the sky was blue overhead. Yonder was Walhalla. She was listening to the “Waldweben.” Her thoughts were indistinct, her emotions were not acute nor violent. She was in a dream. A gentle and serene content possessed her. She was satisfied to sit so always in this entrancing spot.

The absolute quiet was broken by Mr. Wells’ rising. “There,” he said, “I’m not going to martyrize you any longer. Thank you a thousand times, Miss Nan. This doesn’t begin to do you justice, but I’ve caught certain characteristics,[227] I think.” He turned the sketch so Nan could see it. If she was a little disappointed she did not say so, but only remarked, “I don’t see how you did so much in such a short time.”

“Oh, one can do a mere sketch in a few minutes, sometimes. Please don’t consider this a finished thing.”

Nan could see it was not, and comforted herself by thinking it would have been much better if there had been more time.

“Now what can I do to repay you for your goodness?” said the young man. “You are a wonderfully patient sitter. You scarcely stirred.”

“I am glad if I did sit still. It was all so lovely that I enjoyed just thinking about it. Did you bring your violin to-day?”

“No, I didn’t. You see, I don’t play for every one.”

“But you wouldn’t mind playing for me.”

“Oh, no. You belong to the chosen few, only we must not have an audience. What are you going to do to-morrow afternoon?”

“Nothing that I have planned.”

“Then I will meet you about half-way between Camp Happiness and Place o’ Pines. You come in your canoe; I’ll come in mine. We will go ashore and I will play for you.”[228] Then with a sudden smile, “Or, I’ll meet you more than half-way. I’ll come to the little point just opposite Three Rocks. You know it?”

“Yes, indeed.”

“And will you come about four o’clock?”


“Can’t you?”

“I will ask mother whether I ought.”

He smiled again. What a little girl it was. There was never a time when Mabel Romaine would have hesitated. “I’ll ask her myself,” he said with sudden decision. “Shall we go now?”

“I think we should,” said Nan sedately. And if she made no more than monosyllabic replies to his remarks on the way back it was not for lack of interest in them or of delight in his company.






Mr. Wells proved abundantly able to plead his cause before Mrs. Corner who finally gave her consent to Nan’s presence at a private violin performance. “Though why we can’t all be favored, I can’t see,” said Mrs. Corner.

“Well, you see there are very few people I can play before,” confessed the young man.

“But why?”

“Don’t know, dear lady. I suppose it’s because I’m made that way. Now, I have no end of cheek when it comes to my pictures. They may be mere daubs, but I don’t think so, and am perfectly brazen about sending them to exhibitions or about showing them to any one, but the violin, ah, that is different. I can play before Miss Nan, Jack, Pinch, Dr. Paul and a few others and there you are. I am bound to break down if I get it into my head that I have a critical person in the audience. Whether there is such a person or not, doesn’t appear to matter; it’s my thinking there is. I can’t help it, you see.”

“Well,” Mrs. Corner said at last, “even if I[232] can’t see any reason for your extreme modesty in the matter I’ll have to believe it exists and am willing Nan should have the pleasure I know it will be to her to listen to your playing.”

Therefore when all the others started off to the country store, Nan declined to go. She had begged her mother not to tell of the engagement she had made, partly because she did not want to be teased and partly because it was too sweet a secret to share with any one but her mother. Mrs. Corner guessed the former reason, but did not suspect the latter.

“Aren’t you going with us?” asked Dr. Paul who appeared early in the afternoon. “I thought we were all going to buy out the dry-goods department of Mr. Davis’s store.”

“No, I am not going.” Nan shook her head. “I have something else to do, but I will delegate you to buy the materials for my housewife. In compensation thereof I will make you one.”

“Now, what ought I to say? That the compensation is ample? If I do that it will mean I prefer the housewife to your society; on the other hand, I ought to prove my appreciation of such a souvenir as a piece of your handiwork.”

“Oh, let the housewife have the compliment,” returned Nan laughing. “I can do without it.”[233] She watched him go off to join the others and then went to the empty living-room to pass away the time, till four o’clock, by writing a letter to Charlotte Loring. She looked frequently at the clock and the letter did not turn out to be a very long or a very interesting one, being disjointed and rather vague, yet Nan concluded to send it. Then she went to her tent to get ready. She was not given to prinking, being less afflicted with vanity than Mary Lee, who was generally considered the beauty of the family, yet she took a long time to decide upon her dress. Should she go in the blue flannel skirt and blouse she generally wore, or should she wear a skirt and white jumper as she had at the picnic? At first she thought she would wear the latter because Mr. Wells had chosen to paint her in this costume, but finally she decided that this being a special occasion, she would wear a white linen, only a simple frock, to be sure, with low sailor collar. The only color she added was a soft yellow silk tie which Jo had once told her was very becoming. She did her hair carefully, braiding the thick plaits smoothly and tying them with the black ribbon she always wore. Let big red or blue bows be for such youngsters as Jack or Jean. For a moment she thought of doing her hair up higher, but she had never worn it so and it[234] would be marked. So at last she was ready and started out, being careful that the canoe was very clean that she might not soil her dress. She did not want to be late, but she hoped she was not too much ahead of time.

Her watch pointed to four when she landed her canoe at the little point which was but a very short distance above the camp. No other canoe was there, so she was first after all. Well, at all events, she had the virtue of promptness which the other had not.

Yet she had not long to wait for in a few minutes she saw a canoe coming. So Elsa had watched Lohengrin approach in the swan boat. Her heart thrilled at sight of the figure, like Lohengrin in white, standing there paddling the canoe. It was almost as if she were at the opera watching the scene, her imagination supplying the music. Very soon her Lohengrin was within hailing distance and saw her there, a white figure against the lush green.

“Ah, there you are,” he cried. “I’m afraid I am a trifle late. I was hunting up some violin strings and couldn’t remember where I had put the things, but I have them all right.” He came ashore and held out his hand. “Isn’t this jolly?” he said. “Such an afternoon, enough to inspire any one. Do you happen to sing, by the way?”

[235]“I have only a feeble pipe,” replied Nan smiling.

“Your voice and laugh sound as if you would sing a good contralto. Perhaps your pipe, as you call it, needs only developing. Shall we try it?”

“Oh, no, no.” Nan shrank from such an ordeal and her tones evinced such fright that her companion laughed.

“Oh, then we won’t,” he said. “I say, you look stunning. I dressed for the occasion, too, as you see. These are my very best flannels and I hope you think the red tie is becoming.”

Nan thought it was vastly so, but she could only echo feebly, “Very becoming.”

“Yours is tremendously so, an awfully jolly bit of color.” He stood off and looked her up and down with half-closed eyes in the impersonal way that artists have. “I like you in white,” he continued. “That’s a good scheme of color, too, green, white, yellow, with a dash of dark hair for a sharp accent Pretty nice that. Well, there is to be no boring you with posing to-day. What shall I play?” He took his violin from its case and began to tune it.

“Mein liebe schwan?” said Nan questioningly.

“Good! Somehow suits the landscape, doesn’t it, the lake and all? Here goes.”

[236]He stood up while Nan took her place under a tree on a grass-hidden rock, to listen, and in a moment her soul was filled with delight. The swan song, and here was Lohengrin! Little thrills of delicious joy seemed to ooze out of her very finger-tips as she leaned back against the tree to hear. The swan song melted into “Elsa’s Dream,” and then into the “Höchtes Vertrauen.” The young man played well, his head thrown back as he watched his hearer from under his lashes. He saw the color come and go, the frequent trembling of her lips, the far-away look in her eyes. “My, what a lot of temperament the girl has,” he said to himself. “It is worth a king’s ransom to be like that.”

He put down his violin. “What’ll you take for your gift of appreciation, Miss Nan?” he asked.

Nan came back from the clouds. “It isn’t for sale,” she answered. “But why do you want mine? Haven’t you enough for yourself?”

“Well, yes, but I’d like to hand yours over to some person who hasn’t any.”

“And leave me with none?”

“Oh, but you have such a lot. You could spare half and then have more than the common run of mortals.”

“What makes you think so?”

[237]“You show it.”

“I am fond of music, you know.”

“I should say so; that’s why I can make this speak for you.” He patted his violin. “You enjoy Lohengrin?”

“Yes, I love it, though perhaps not more than other operas of Wagner’s, only it was the first I ever heard of them, there in Munich, and—oh, dear——”

She broke off with a sigh.


“Nothing, only there was such joy in being able to hear delicious music any time and all the time.”

“I want tremendously to hear you play. You will play for me some time, won’t you?”

Nan trembled with delight. What did this not suggest? Future meetings after this summer dream was over? “Of course I will,” she responded, “if we should ever happen to be together where there is a piano.”

“Oh, we shall be. You don’t suppose I shall let you all fade out of sight after all these good times together? You are in New York sometimes, aren’t you? I think I have heard you speak of having friends there.”

“We have some very dear friends, and we generally stop on our way up or down to see them. If you ever talked to Mary Lee you[238] would have been sure to hear her speak of Miss Dolores Pinckney. She is Mary Lee’s idol and is to be married in the fall. We are to be her bridesmaids.”

“Then you will be walking in to this.” He tucked his violin under his chin and began the Bridal Chorus. “I hope it will remind you of this special occasion,” he said as he paused. “You must say to yourself: The last time I heard that was when that renegade artist played it for me.”

“Oh, but you are not a renegade, I hope.”

“I don’t know whether I am or not. What is a renegade anyhow?”

Nan thought for a moment. “Some one who is false to his cause, his principles, isn’t it?”

“That is about it, I should suppose. What are my principles, then, my cause?”

“Your profession, for one thing.”

“I wonder if I am true to my art. I want to be. I am feeling the way as yet, however. When I get to the place where I am sure of what is true to me in art, I hope I shall stick to that. At present I seem to be in the fix of that fellow in the Bible—who was it that asked what is truth?”

“Pilate, I believe.”

The young man stood thoughtfully playing[239] little snatches on his violin, only a few notes of a motif or some simple melody. Presently he broke into a wild Hungarian dance. “Let’s be gay, be gay,” he said. “We mustn’t spend time in moralizing. We must live, live. Here we are, you and I, young and happy. The world is beautiful, the sky is blue. There is poetry everywhere. Listen.” A few crashing chords closed the dance and he began softly to play the motif of the “Waldweben” watching Nan who leaned forward, her chin in her hand, her eyes fixed on the further shore. As the last notes of the bird song died away he lowered his violin. “Well, Brunhilde,” he said, “awaken!”

Nan smiled. “I was there, in the woods. How did you know?”

“I guessed as much. You see I have been playing on your emotions and you look quite pale. Have you had enough of my performance?”

“Oh, no, only I am sure you have had, and I must go back.”

“Oh, bother, what for? The day is still fairly young. Stay and talk to me a while.”

Nan hesitated. “I think we’d better go back. We can talk there.”

“Where is everybody?”

“Gone to Davis’s store to buy materials for[240] housewives. Each of us has sworn to have one always on hand since Hartley’s accident.”

“Good scheme. Will you make me one?”

“I?” She hesitated. She had already promised one to Dr. Paul, but she must not let a chance to serve her Lohengrin pass her by. “Oh, yes,” she answered, “I’ll make you one, if you like.”

“I hope it isn’t a difficult task.”

“Not very. We are going to do them on the first rainy day, but I don’t have to wait for that. I really think I should go back now; I promised mother I would not stay very long.”

“Then I’ll go, too. We can use one canoe and tow the other one. I’ll hand you back safe and sound to your mother, and tell her you have been an inspiration.”

Nan colored under this. “But I haven’t,” she protested.

“Oh, yes, you have. Any one who loves music as you do is a boon to one who enjoys it, too. Do you love anything else as much?”

“No, not quite, although I do love pictures, and some poetry, some authors, too.”

“Of course. You would, you know. I could see you loved pictures that first day in the studio, for you had a nice discriminating sense and criticized like a person who really knows what is what.”

[241]“Oh, but did I criticize?” Nan was quite overwhelmed at the idea of her daring.

“I don’t mean you found fault, but you said such things as showed you knew what you were talking about, and were not talking just for effect.”

“Aunt Helen taught me about pictures as we went through Europe, and so I suppose that is why I have a little sense about them,” said Nan modestly.

“Ah, that is just it. Because you have seen the best under a wise teacher you can tell. It is the same with poetry, isn’t it?”

“Oh, yes, Aunt Helen has guided me there, too, though I always loved to pore over the old poets in my father’s library.”

Mr. Wells nodded with approving smiles. “I wonder why people nowadays are ashamed to confess to loving poetry. As to quoting it, almost any one will smile if you begin to do that, yet in the old days, not so very old ones either, it was quite an accomplishment. Once in a while, in secluded spots, you will run across some old fellow who will quote Moore and Byron with his hand on his heart.”

“Cousin Martin Boyd, down in Virginia, still does that. He is a gentleman of the old school, and his gallantries are so funny, still I always thought them delightful.”

[242]“I’ve not a doubt but that they are, though I can easily see how he couldn’t help being gallant in the presence of certain persons.”

Nan had no reply to make to this, and feeling very conscious, she turned to where the canoes were moored. On the way Mr. Wells stopped to gather a bunch of yellow buttercups. “These will just match your tie,” he said to her as he handed them over. “Isn’t it strange that they should be blossoming in September?”

“I have noticed that the flowers don’t keep track of the season up here,” she answered, putting the buttercups in her belt with a resolve to treasure them and press them when the day was done.

“Tell me about your home,” said Mr. Wells as they were gliding along over the lake, and Nan described the old brown house, the rambling garden, the hillside where Place o’ Pines used to be, the ruined walls of Uplands, the sunset tree where she had met her Aunt Helen, the mountain forests and all the rest of it. Launched upon this theme she forgot to be conscious and her descriptions were vivid and picturesque.

Mr. Wells listened interestedly. “I think I’ll have to accept Dr. Paul’s invitation to go down there some day,” he said. “Are you there all the time except in summer?”

[243]“No, we’ve been very little there of late years. Aunt Sarah keeps the house open, and we go between while, generally at Christmas, and sometimes at Easter. We were abroad for a year. Last winter we were at school in Washington, and this year I go to college.”

“Oh, you do? And where?”

“To Barnard, I think.” Nan made the decision suddenly. Was it not in New York?

“That’s good; then no doubt but I shall see you often. Will all the family be there, too, in New York?”

“I am not sure what the others will do. Mother and Aunt Helen hate to make so many changes in the schools and very likely I shall have my freshman year without them. Then Mary Lee will come along, I hope, and later the twins.”

“But even if they are not there you can come and have tea at the studio. Pinch and I have one together, you know, and his sister or some of our friends help at the tea-table.”

“That would be delightful.” Nan spoke with less enthusiasm, the chill of a stranger presence touching her.

“You know you will need your friends to rally around you if you are to be there alone,” continued her companion.

“So long as our dear friends, the Pinckneys,[244] are near at hand I shall not mind, and no doubt I can do very well anyhow, for we were one year at boarding school while mother and Aunt Helen were in Europe. Then, two of my old chums will be with me. Jo Keyes is one, you know.”

“And a mighty jolly little somebody she is. She must come with you to the studio. We must plan it all out before you leave camp.”

He turned his attention to steering the canoe, and in a short time they had reached the landing. The shoppers had not yet returned, and Mr. Wells decided to wait for Dr. Paul that he might not have to walk back to Place o’ Pines. Nan with a demure wisdom, not usually shown by so young a girl, led the way to the porch where her aunt and mother sat, so there was no more opportunity for a tête-à-tête that day.

After a while the shopping party came back, a merry crowd, each carrying a bag of peanuts, and laden with other purchases. They all made a great display of their dry-goods, pretending to squabble over the assumed preëminence of one purchase above another.

“I am sure you will say mine is the very prettiest,” contended Dr. Paul unrolling a gay piece of cretonne.

“It’s entirely too ornate,” Hartley spoke up. “Just look at those colors, Miss Nan. Now[245] this subdued gray is in much better taste and is more suitable. I leave it to our artist friend, there.”

“It isn’t to be compared with my reliable old blue,” declared Ran, producing his length of linen. “I consider I have made the hit of the season. Just look at the quality, Nan.”

Nan laughingly examined first one then another, but was wise enough not to commit herself to any preference. “Did you think of getting flannel for the leaves?” she asked Mary Lee.

“Yes, and ribbon to tie up the things, elastic for the pockets, assorted needles, thread, black and white, and a spool of silk. Dr. Paul, show Nan your stores. He even has two celluloid thimbles; the one for himself is bright red.”

“So easy to find,” explained the doctor. “See how well it fits.” He stuck it on his finger.

“Ugh!” exclaimed Hartley, “don’t do that. It reminds me of my late accident.”

“Yours is blue,” the doctor told Nan. “I hope it fits as well as mine does. Try it on.”

Nan obeyed and announced that it would do very well.

“I believe we bought out the entire stock of thimbles,” said Jo. “Nan, it was as good as a show to see Mr. and Mrs. Davis. I don’t believe they ever had seen such a crowd of customers at one time in the store. Mr. Davis[246] was like a pea on a hot griddle, and once or twice looked so wild I thought he would take to flight, but his wife always came to the rescue with ‘They’re on the top shelf, Al,’ or, ‘I’ll git ’em, jest you keep still.’”

Nan laughed. Jo’s imitation of the vernacular was perfect.

“When are you going to make my housewife?” asked the doctor.

Nan gave a swift glance at Mr. Wells. “The first rainy day,” she answered, though she resolved that there should be moments in between when she would secretly find time for the other one. This she decided should be of fair white linen like her dress, and she would embroider yellow buttercups upon it. It should be tied with yellow ribbons and the little leaves for the needles should be worked around with yellow silk. What a joy it would be to make it. She could steal off to the woods to do the work and it would be a charming task.

The visitors did not stay to supper, for there was no moon to guide them on their way and Mr. Wells had brought no lantern, but they lingered till the last moment, and as the artist bade Nan good-bye he gave her hand a slight pressure. “You won’t forget,” he said softly.

How could she forget anything of that wonderful afternoon when the gods had arrived?






What do you think?” cried Jean one morning as she came from the big cabin to find Nan drowsily swinging in a hammock under a big butternut tree. “We’re going to have a birthday party, a double one. Day after to-morrow is Dr. Paul’s birthday and it’s Jo’s, too, so we’re going to get up some sort of funny stunts, have a feast, and in the evening a straw ride.”

Nan roused herself. “What kind of stunts?” she asked.

“Oh, almost anything. We are going to dress up in costume, for one thing.”

“Where do we get costumes, pray?”

“Oh, we’ll manage. ’Lish is going to take us all over in the wagon to Davis’s store and we’ll see what we can find.”

“I think that will be fun,” said Nan. She loved this sort of thing.

“Why didn’t you come over where we all were?” asked Jean. “They told me to go find you and tell you about it.”

[250]“How could I know what they were talking about?” returned Nan, getting out of the hammock and making her way to where the group had gathered on the porch.

“Come on, Nan; we missed you,” cried Daniella. “We’re having a lovely time. Where were you?”

“Oh, just over there in the hammock.”

“Dreaming as usual, I suppose,” said Mary Lee. “I believe Nan is training to be a poetess; she spends so much time flocking by herself in wooded nooks and shady dells.”

“All the flocking by yourself in the world wouldn’t make you poetical, Mary Lee,” retorted Nan. “What’s up, girls? Give us the programme.”

“Oh, nothing definite has been arranged. We thought it would be fun to dress up in the evening and have a little dance. Miss Marshall says we may, and for that evening, as long as it is a double birthday, we needn’t have the lights out till ten. We’re all going over to the store to see what we can rake up.” Effie gave this information.

“I’ve about decided upon my costume,” Jo announced suddenly, “if I can manage to get it together in time. One day isn’t very much notice.”

“We’ll have two days, counting the birthday,[251] for the thing won’t come off till evening,” said Mary Lee.

“That’s so. Well, I think maybe I can manage it if—but never mind, we mustn’t tell, you know.”

“I know what I shall do,” exclaimed Jack. “I wish Mr. Wells would hurry and come.”

“I think he’ll be along pretty soon,” Dr. Paul told her. “If he had known that such an exciting plan was to be talked of he would have come with me.”

It was evident from Jack’s speech that she meant to consult the artist about her costume. “I can’t decide till I see him,” she said further.

“Come here, Jean,” Nan called. “I have thought of something for you.” She whispered her suggestion to Jean who nodded approvingly.

“You might tell me,” urged Jack coaxingly.

“No. Can’t do it. Everything is a secret now.” Jean shook her head.

“We have to buy birthday gifts, too,” said Daniella, “but the price is limited. I’ll tell you, Nan, what amount we have decided upon.”

“This is very embarrassing, Miss Jo,” said Dr. Paul. “Suppose we retire to the seat under the tree.” And they beat a hasty retreat.

“We’re going to spend only ten cents apiece on the presents,” Mary Lee told her sister, “like[252] we did for the Christmas gifts in Munich. It will be fun to buy trash and make much of it.”

“And the costumes can’t be very elaborate, of course,” Effie said. “We shall have to make them up out of such materials as we can find.”

Nan knew what she would like to wear, but was not sure that she could manage it. She was so deft with her fingers, so ingenious that she knew she could invent something, given any sort of chance.

“Here they come back again, and Mr. Wells is with them,” announced Jack, who was on the watch.

“Good!” exclaimed Ashby. “Now we boys can get some ideas. I have not a notion what to wear. I always was a duffer about such things.”

“What’s all this?” cried Mr. Wells coming up. “Great doings, I hear. Let me into the scheme, please.”

“It’s a dress-up party in honor of Dr. Paul and Jo Keyes, whose birthdays occur on the same day,” Mary Lee told him. “We are planning a celebration.”

“And we’re looking to you as an artist to help us fellows out,” Ran told him.

“All right. I’m your man. I have a few togs here, so you can take your pick. You are welcome to anything I have.”

[253]“Oh, and——” Jack looked disappointed. “I wanted you to help me,” she whispered, going up to him.

“And I’ll be delighted to help you,” he returned. “Come over here and let’s talk it over.” He led her to one side and she made her request in low tones.

He nodded acquiescence. “Of course. I owe you much more than so small a favor in return for sitting so patiently for me.” So as usual Jack got out of her dilemma in the easiest way possible.

Presently the wagon came rattling up. ’Lish looked over the number doubtfully. “Ye ain’t all goin’ to ride, be ye?” he asked.

“It does make a pretty big load,” acknowledged Mary Lee, always concerned for the horses. “Suppose some of us walk over and ride back; the rest can ride over and walk back.”

“That’s the way to fix it,” said Hartley. “I’m agreeable either way.”

“Suppose we men all walk both ways and give the ladies the wagon,” proposed Ran.

“Oh, you old Virginian,” cried Mr. Wells, “isn’t that just like you? Suppose some of the ladies would rather walk one way?”

“I would, I’m sure,” declared Jo.

“And I,” Daniella spoke up.

[254]Jean wasn’t sure. Jack thought it depended upon the company she would have. Effie would do as the rest did. Nan was for walking over, Mary Lee for walking back. So the party divided and the wagon started off with Mary Lee, Jean, Jo and Effie for the feminine side; Dr. Paul and Ashby for the masculine.

Therefore to Nan’s joy she found herself setting out with Mr. Wells, Hartley escorting Daniella and Ran giving himself up to Jack who generally followed Nan’s lead. The wagon bumped on ahead and was soon out of sight.

The three mile walk, though a rough one, was generally shady, and those had the best of it who took a time of day which would not give them the sun immediately overhead. The wagon, of course, had reached the little shop before the walking party arrived, and already the counters were strewn with various stuffs. Mary Lee was buying yards of white cheese cloth, Jo was examining red flannel, Effie was looking at thin white muslin, while the two men of the party consulted together in low tones on the porch. Jean was on the lookout for Nan who had suggested her costume.

It was a bewildering time for Al Davis who told his chums afterward that he “didn’t know as he’d have a mite of stawk left on his shelves after they got through.” Every box of gold[255] and silver paint was called for, ribbons were in demand and all sorts of impossible things were inquired for. Jo ended by asking for all the old newspapers he had. She wanted a quantity, and a pile of them was put in the wagon. Nan had already demanded pasteboard and not being able to secure sheets of this called for as large boxes of pasteboard as could be found.

Jo and Dr. Paul were hustled out of the shop while the gifts were selected; this took so long that the two kept coming back and demanding that a stop be put to purchases. “I don’t propose setting up a shop for myself,” said Dr. Paul. “You all seem to be buying out the establishment. Mr. Davis will think we are going to start a rival concern.”

Al laughed, and “cal’lated” he wasn’t “scairt”; he “ruther guessed he’d be there some time yet.”

At last all came out, each clutching a parcel, and the start back was made, though Mr. Wells gave up his place to Jean who complained of the sun, and so to Nan fell Ran’s companionship on the way back. She forced herself to be gay although it was bitter to see Mr. Wells walk off with Jo when she had counted on his society. She could have shaken Jean for her little affectation of not being able to stand the[256] sun. “Jean always was a self-indulgent little piece,” she told herself. “There was room enough, anyway. I don’t see why he couldn’t have come. I didn’t dare make a point of it.”

All this while Ran was saying, “I say, Nan, this is jolly. Somehow I don’t see as much of you as I expected; you are always off somewhere with one of those older fellows. I suppose you are too grown-up to want to go around with anything under twenty-one. Girls always are grown up before boys, but never mind, I’ll get there.”

“What nonsense, Ran,” said Nan. “Of course age has nothing to do with it. We all roam around together. Nobody selects one in particular.”

“It seems to me there is a mighty good deal of twosing,” returned Ran.

“Have you chosen your costume?” asked Nan willing to change the subject.

“Not exactly. Wells wants us to come up this afternoon while you girls are at work on your things; then we can decide better.”

“I’m sure he will be able to make suggestions,” returned Nan. “With a twist or two of a bit of stuff he can make a thing look just right, and he has no end of odds and ends he keeps in an old chest.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt but we shall do,” replied[257] Ran not any too well pleased to hear praise of the artist.

As was generally the case, more than her share fell to Nan’s lot. Her own dress turned out to be more intricate than she had expected, then there was Jean’s to see to. Moreover Jo got into a muddle over hers and came to Nan in despair to help her out, but by turning over the sewing of Jean’s to her mother, Nan managed to get all done, though it kept her busy every minute, yet she felt the result was worth the effort.

There was a great skirmishing about and running from one tent to the other after supper. Many shrieks of: “Don’t come in!” many suppressed giggles but at last all were ready to troop to the big cabin where Dr. Paul, who had arrived early, waited with Jo. The former was magnificent as a Roman senator in toga and laurel wreath while the latter was as saucy a Mother Goose as could be imagined, in towering hat, red cloak, red shoes with high heels, and under her arm a marvelous goose made of Canton flannel and stuffed with the newspapers gathered from the store. These had not proved nearly enough, so all sorts of things supplemented them, pine-needles, moss, excelsior, anything that could be gathered up. It was in the manufacture of the goose that Jo’s[258] powers had failed, and when she called upon Nan for help, and it was Nan who stuffed and pinched and set a stitch here, gave a punch there till a goose of respectable proportions at last was triumphantly completed.

Bearing their gifts, the donors met on the porch. The older ladies had begged to be freed from any part in the procession, though Nan had made a Quakeress of her mother and a Martha Washington of her Aunt Helen, these costumes requiring but little trouble. With Miss Marshall and Miss Lloyd these constituted the audience, the chaperons, the girls called them.

There was much whispering, giggling and comment outside before the procession was ready to move. “We must have some sort of system about it,” said Mary Lee, “and not straggle in anyhow.”

“Siegfried!” breathed Nan as Mr. Wells, with his fur rugs draped over his shoulders, and a horn slung in place, came up to her.

“Brunhilde!” he exclaimed at sight of her helmet, shield and the coat of mail manufactured principally of silver paint. “You are wonderful. I don’t see how you managed.” He looked her up and down admiringly.

“Did you guess I would be Brunhilde?” she asked shyly.

[259]“Not I. Did you guess I would be Siegfried?”

“No, indeed.”

“Isn’t it a coincidence? We must march in together.”

“You tallest ones go in first,” suggested Mary Lee.

So to the glad call of the “Son of the Woods” Brunhilde and Siegfried stepped off followed by Daniella as a cow-girl with rough shirt, big felt hat and pistols in her belt, Hartley as King of Hearts being her escort. Over his dress of white, on which red hearts were pasted, he wore a long red cloak, ermine-edged, and on his head a pasteboard crown. Mary Lee in Greek dress came next with Ran as a gondolier, then Effie as a Puritan Priscilla and Ashby as a Pierrot. The twins brought up the rear, Jack in the dress she had worn when sitting for the picture and Jean as a Brownie, her eyes opened very wide and her mouth stretched in a set smile. A peaked cap with cape covered her head and shoulders, and her body was clothed with the same brown stuff.

Nan had an idea in the presentation and improvised a jingle which she started up to the tune of the song in Der Freischütz when the maidens sing to Agathe before her wedding wreath is put on. Each girl bobbed a little[260] curtsey as the foolish gifts were presented. Gewgaws of the most ornate kind they were. A huge ring with glass setting for Dr. Paul matched by a brooch of similar style for Jo. Handkerchiefs of giddy colors and coarse texture, framed pictures, hideously inartistic, and boxes of cheap confectionery. A laugh followed the opening of each gift, and they were displayed in the most obvious manner.

“There’s only one sensible thing in the whole lot,” announced Jo holding up a pink pincushion bearing the words: “Many happy returns” done with pins. This had been Jean’s patient task and she was highly pleased when Jo said: “If there’s one thing I never have when I want it, that thing is a pin.”

Then came the supper, a special feast set out on the big table.

“What a wonderful cake!” remarked Jo, viewing a large iced affair in the centre.

“It had to be big for a double birthday,” Jean said. “I hope it is as good as it looks.”

“Oh, it is bound to be,” returned Jo with cheerful optimism.

“You must cut it,” said Dr. Paul, when the time came, and he handed her a knife.

With a great flourish Jo lifted her knife and brought it down on the iced surface. It did not penetrate an inch. She pressed on harder; still[261] dense resistance. “This is the hardest icing I ever saw,” she remarked. Then she began scraping away the icing, beginning to suspect a joke which she discovered in the large tin pan underneath, which had been simply turned upside down and iced over.

“Now who is the perpetrator of that?” inquired one and another, but not one could, or would, tell, so to this day it remains a mystery. Though if one could have seen ’Lish and Hetty looking in the window, stuffing their handkerchiefs in their mouths to stifle their chuckles as they tried to catch a glimpse of Miss Lloyd’s impassive face, it might have been suspected that the joke originated in the kitchen. However it made for much laughter and there was a real birthday cake, if a smaller one. In this was found a ring, a thimble and a coin. To Daniella fell the ring, to Mary Lee the thimble while Mr. Wells secured the coin.

The straw ride had been postponed until the next evening as it was seen that there would not be time for this and a dance, too, if they were to linger at all over the supper.

“If there is anything I hate to do it is to hurry away from a good feast,” Jean had remarked when the programme was being arranged.

“And if there is anything I hate it is to lose any part of a dance,” said Mary Lee.

[262]“Then why crowd all into one evening?” asked one of the boys.

“No reason at all for it,” said Jo. “We may as well string it out and have two jollifications instead of one, I say.”

All agreed to this, hence they could tarry at table as long as they wished.

Nan had been so busy over her costume that she had not thought much about outside arrangements. “I don’t see how we are going to have a dance without music,” she said to Jack who was sitting next her.

“Oh, don’t you know?” answered Jack. “Didn’t you see the big box ’Lish brought this afternoon? There’s the music.” She turned her sister’s head around and Nan saw standing on a table in the corner a phonograph on which Hartley was already placing a record.

“Well, I declare,” exclaimed Nan. “Who thought of that?”

“Ran and Hartley. They went over to Friendship, waylaid Noey Peakes, got him to send a telegram to Portland, for the phonograph, and he brought it over on the stage, then ’Lish went for it.”

“What a nice thoughtful thing to do,” Nan expressed her approval. “Of course, Ran,” she answered her cousin who stood asking for the first dance, and if she saw Mr. Wells turning[263] away with a frown she may have felt a slight pang, though after all she told herself that Ran deserved the dance if he wanted it.

“False Brunhilde,” said Mr. Wells to her a little later. “Didn’t you know that first dance was mine by all rights?”

“No,” replied she. “Ran asked first.”

“But I took it for granted. We were paired off in the procession, so—of course.”

“You mustn’t take everything for granted,” returned Nan shaking her head. “Suppose I had taken it for granted and you had not, I might have been a wall-flower.”

“You’d never be that,” he returned; “you dance too well. This is mine, anyhow,” and he guided her off in a two-step.

It was the happiest of evenings to more than Nan, for after everything had become quiet, Jo found a chance to gather her friends around her. “There was never such a birthday for any Mother Goose,” she said. “All the good times in my life I owe to you dear people, and if I never have any more, I shall at least have the memory of those which no one can rob me of.” And considering that Jo was usually a thoughtless person, as well as one little given to sentimentality, it showed that she was much moved.






The straw ride did not come off the next evening, after all, for there were signs of rain, then it was decided to wait for a moonlight night when they could go to a small village where ’Lish informed them they could get ice-cream that was “lickin’ good,” so with such a prospect in view they all concluded it was worth while to wait. In the meantime there was plenty to occupy them, both during the day and in the evening. Generally the whole party would congregate on the porch after breakfast where they would “train” as ’Lish called it, till some one would say: “I’m going out on the lake.” This would be the signal for a “scatteration.” Some would take to the canoes, others to the woods. Those more indolently or quietly disposed would either remain where they were or, with a book, would seek a hammock under one of the great trees. In the afternoon there was usually a gathering at Place o’ Pines where a cup of tea could always be looked for, the girls taking[268] their turns in serving. Miss Helen and Mrs. Corner enjoyed this outing, as indeed they did many of the others. Dr. Paul and Mr. Wells always returned to camp with the party, staying to supper and returning when the time came for lights to be out.

During this time Nan took more than one opportunity to steal off by herself that she might work secretly upon the little sewing case she was making. That for Dr. Paul had been the work of the first rainy day when all sat around the open fire industriously sewing. Mary Lee had fashioned a like case for Ran, Daniella had made a fac-simile of her own for Hartley, being assisted by Mrs. Corner, for Daniella had not had much experience in such things and needed instruction. She was, however, so careful to obey directions, and was always so anxious to do her best, that she really did not turn out a bad piece of work. Effie had been persuaded by Ashby to try her powers on a case for him, so there was work enough for all hands, and for more than one rainy day.

Jo, though expert enough in sewing up wounded fingers, declared she could not do fancy work, and indeed the little case she attempted for Miss Helen was such a funny-looking, clumsy affair that every one laughed at it[269] except Miss Helen herself, who insisted upon keeping it, saying it was quite in character with the rough clothes she wore at camp.

It was one morning when all the rest had taken themselves off canoeing that Nan stole away to the woods for a quiet hour. She carried a book and her work, and sought a certain shady nook where the pine-needles made a soft carpet, and a plantation of ferns, a short distance off, was a pleasant thing for the eye to rest upon. A trickling stream wound its way between weedy banks, and in one specially clear and still pool the birds delighted to take a daily dip. It was a charming spot, and one which Nan had come upon suddenly one day when looking for mushrooms. She had been attracted by some curious and brilliantly colored fungi growing beyond the open field where she was, and had penetrated the thicket to discover the pool, the ferns, and all the rest. On this particular morning she had hardly seated herself when she heard a rustling in the pathway which she had worn from the open to her nook, and looking up she saw Dr. Paul.

“Caught you,” he exclaimed. “Aren’t you a sly little somebody to steal off this way and never give an inkling of where you were going? If I hadn’t seen your yellow kerchief in the distance and followed its beckoning flame[270] I might have searched in vain through these pathless woods.”

“And have been a pathless Woods yourself.”

“Oh, come now, call that off. We’ve been having jokes all summer about dense woods and gloomy woods, though I must confess this is the first time pathless has been served up. What were you going to do? Read?”

“Well, I did bring a book.” Nan was too honest to actually declare this to be her main intention, though she did make use of the subterfuge.

“I brought one, too.” He put his hand in his pocket. “Suppose I read while you work. I see you have that pretty feminine thing, a sewing-bag.”

“Oh, I don’t believe I care to work,” Nan answered with a little regret for her unfinished buttercups, “but I should enjoy hearing you read, and in being lazy. What is your book?”

“Oh, something I picked up from Marc’s shelves. I haven’t really looked at it.” He turned the pages over. “Oh, I say, it’s Italian. I only saw the title and didn’t realize that the Dante was in the original. Stupid of me not to open it.”

“He reads Italian then?” Nan was pleased to make this an excuse for talking of her hero.

“Or else picked up the book because he liked[271] the binding. Marc is like that, you know. The utilitarian doesn’t specially appeal to him.”

“I suppose that is the way with most artists. They like interesting things whether they use them or not.”

“Yes, it is, I believe. They are a queer lot. There was Marc’s friend over in Europe starving himself for the sake of an idea. He was a queer study, that fellow, yet one couldn’t help respecting him for his absolute heroism in devoting himself to the thing he most cared for.”

“That is the one they call Crackers, on whose account the angels will lay aside another trailing feather for your wings.”

“Oh, nonsense. I didn’t do anything of any account. Any decent doctor would have done the same for one of his countrymen. We won’t dilate upon that subject, Nan.” The doctor was really confused.

“Such funny names, Crackers and Pinch!” continued Nan, her thoughts still on the subject of Mr. Wells and his friends. “What sort of man is this Mr. Romaine?”

“Oh, not altogether a bad sort. Does a little illustrating in a dilettante way, has a wealthy dad, you know, and has a studio in New York all gorgeous with Eastern things and armor and so on. Marc and he have it together.”

“Yes, he told me.”

[272]“By the way, Pinch is coming back next week, and I believe his sister and Miss Kitty Vanderver are coming, too. The ladies are going to stay at the White farm, and then they will all go home together when Place o’ Pines is closed.”

Nan felt as if a cold hand had suddenly clutched her. With these would come farewell to the happy little reunions, to the walks and talks, to the moments when she found herself by the side of her artist friend. “And you will be going, too,” she said ruefully.

“Yes, my holiday is nearly over and it has been a royal one, though I must say, Nan, I haven’t seen as much of you as I expected.”

“That’s what Ran was complaining of a few days ago,” Nan told him. Just because she was the eldest, the most grown up, why should they want to monopolize her? “You see,” she went on, “we generally are all in a bunch together, and there isn’t any seeing of any one in particular.”

“Oh, yes, there is,” replied the doctor with meaning.

Nan flushed. There were times, she well knew, when she had stolen off as she had done this morning, and there had been other times when the violin had been played to her alone, but with quick wit she turned the tables on the doctor. “Do you know,” she began, “that all[273] summer I have been hoarding up a grievance against you?”

“You have?” The doctor looked genuinely surprised.

“Yes. What business had you lightly to give away my confidence?”

“My dear Nan,” the young man looked distressed, “what do you mean? When did I ever do such an iniquitous thing?”

“When you told Mr. Wells about little Nan Corner and her Place o’ Pines.”

The doctor looked overwhelmed with remorse. “I am in dust and ashes,” he said. “I acknowledge my offense. It has been on my conscience all summer, but I thought you seemed quite satisfied, and I was relieved that you didn’t resent it. I suppose I told it at some time when I was waxing enthusiastic over my friends at home, over you, Nan—I do that once in a while—and one of the entertaining tales I told to show how original you are was about your music and Place o’ Pines. I never dreamed Marc would notice the name, or, if he did, that he would use it, or using it, that you would ever hear of it.”

“Oh, yes, I understand. Can’t you think up a few more excuses?” Nan inquired, rather enjoying the situation.

“Oh, I could, if those are not enough. I[274] really never gave a thought to the possibility of the thing’s coming out as it did, but it was pretty mean of me to shout abroad your little secret, that you had told me in confidence. I ought to have known you would treasure it, even when you grew older. Indeed, Nan, I’m awfully sorry. I will get Marc to change the name if you say so. He will do it in a moment if he thinks you care.”

Nan did care, but not in the way the doctor supposed.

“Marc may have his faults, but they are not those that would make him stiff over a matter of this kind,” the doctor went on.

Faults? Was not Lohengrin a perfect knight? But feeling that Dr. Paul had been sufficiently punished, Nan said, with an appearance of generosity, “Oh, I really don’t mind, Dr. Paul, not in the least. Mr. Wells discovered that I was the originator of the name and I gave him permission to use it.”

“Oh, that puts another face on the matter. Why didn’t you tell me in the beginning, you little tease?”

“Because I thought you deserved some slight punishment. Now you have had it we will drop the subject. Where did you leave the others and what have you been doing this morning?”

[275]“I came straight here as soon as I reasonably could. I saw all the canoes out on the lake when I came away from the studio. I left Marc putting the finishing touches to the study he made of Jack. He had a sudden fit of industry this morning, consequent, I think, upon his hearing that Pinch is about to return.”

“Then laziness is one of the faults you referred to.”

“Oh, I don’t know. I shouldn’t say that. I never saw a fellow work harder when he is in the humor; on the other hand when he loafs he does it quite as enthusiastically, which is probably the right way. He will paint all day, very likely.”

“Is Jack sitting for him?”

“No. He thinks he will not work any more on the figure, but is doing the interior. He is putting in some still life and things.”

“Do you think he paints well?”

“I think he is best in landscape. What do you think?”

“I think that, too. I think he needs to study figure more, and besides I believe he has more feeling for out-of-doors than for indoors.”

“That is about the correct criticism, I should think, though I don’t profess to know as much as you do about such things. What have you decided about college, Nan?”

[276]“I think, taking all things into consideration, that Barnard will be the best.”

“I am glad it is no further away, though I did hope you would go no further than Baltimore.”

“Aunt Helen and mother think it will be pleasant for me to be near the Pinckneys. You know Mercedes is coming on to the wedding, and they are begging all of us to spend the winter in New York.”

“And will the others?”

“No, the girls must go back to Miss Cameron’s, mother says, and she can stay in Washington all winter, for it will not be quite so hard a climate. We are hoping Mary Lee will be ready for college next year, so I shall have her.”

“I hope then that she will be ready. You think you will like the college?”

“Oh, yes. Aunt Helen approves of it, and, when I can go, I shall have a chance to hear good music which I can do better in New York than anywhere else.”

“Of course, I can understand that such opportunities as New York affords for music would be a great factor in your decision. What about Miss Jo?”

“We don’t know exactly. She is trying for some tutoring. If she gets it she will enter Barnard with me.”

[277]“She is a bright little body. I never knew any one more capable.”

“We all think that, and isn’t she the very best sort of companion? If she goes to Barnard it will be a very strong reason for my going, too. If ever I get in the dumps Jo will be there to pull me out. She can so much more easily find stepping-stones in New York than elsewhere that I think she is pretty sure to enter with me. Charlotte Loring is at Barnard, too, and that is another thing in its favor. I was rather surprised she didn’t choose Radcliffe or Wellesley, but she said she thought it would be better for her development to go further from home, and Charlotte is nothing if not conscientious. She’d live on nails and wear dried peas in her shoes if she thought it better for her development. She and Jo hope to room together as they used to do at the Wadsworth school, so I shall have to have a strange roommate or be by myself. I think perhaps I’d rather room alone.”

“And after college, what? More travel?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I am not looking so far ahead. One never can tell.”

“Those were good old days in Munich, but I am afraid we shall never repeat them.”

“If we could have it all over just the same, I’d like it, but Aunt Helen says I couldn’t, that[278] there is always something different when one tries to repeat experiences. For one thing you wouldn’t be there, Dr. Paul, and that would make a heap of difference.”

“Would it, Nan? I’m glad of that. It would make a great difference to me if I returned and you were not there, just as it will make a great difference to all of us when you come back to the old Virginia home.”

“The dear old home and the dear old friends! I often long for them. One does like the friends around that one has had a good time with,” said Nan in a matter-of-fact way. “I shall enjoy college much more with Jo and Charley there, but I shall miss Mary Lee and Dan.”

“Does Daniella aspire to college?”

“I hardly think so. She could not be ready for some years, and then she would be older than most girls who enter. Still, if she sets her heart on going Mr. Scott will allow it. Aunt Helen advises travel and languages with a course of literature, rather than college, so no doubt she will abide by what her friends and teachers suggest. She is the most humble child in such matters, though as proud as Lucifer in others. She is such a beauty I am surprised Mr. Wells didn’t ask her to sit for him.”

“But he did ask you.”

“How do you know?”

[279]“I saw the sketch he made and of course I recognized it.”

“Did he show it to you?”

“No. I came across it accidentally, and he admitted that you were his subject.”

“Yet it isn’t very good.”

“Not very. We agreed that figure was not his strong point.”

“It just happened,” Nan went on rapidly, though she could not tell why she felt that she need make an excuse. “Any one else would have done who chanced to be on hand. It was that day we had the picnic at Upper Pond.”

“I know.”

“Oh, do you?”

“Yes, I recognized the spot as well as the figure. Nan, my child, don’t put your trust in princes.”

Nan looked up startled. What did he mean? What had he observed? She knew that her friend, like all physicians, was given to close observation. Did he guess that there was a secret chamber in her heart where she had enshrined Lohengrin? She picked up the book which she had brought with her. “I thought we were going to read,” she said with a nervous laugh. “No, let’s go.”

She started to rise. The doctor sprang up to help her to her feet. He held her hands in[280] his for a moment, looking down at the flushed face and downcast eyes. “I have been reading,” he said gravely.

Nan caught up her hat which had dropped from her hold, settled it on her head, and led the way to the open field. She said not a word but kept ahead of the doctor along the narrow path. At the edge of the piece of woods where the camp was situated he came to her side. “Nan,” he said, “are you angry with me?”

“What for?” asked Nan with a little uplift of her head.

“Because of what I said just now.”

“I don’t remember your saying anything unusual,” she returned and that was all the satisfaction she gave.

But that evening when they had gathered to start on the straw ride she avoided her old friend, insisting upon Daniella’s sitting by her on one side; the other was already occupied by Marcus Wells, and she was the merriest of the merry, so full of droll sayings, so originally witty and bright that Marcus wondered. “You are a creature of surprises,” he whispered as the little company trooped up the street in search of the “lickin’ good” ice-cream.

“Please to tell me why?” said Nan.

“You are usually so very quiet, such a[281] dream-maiden, but to-night you are like a star. There is no moonlight in your make-up, it is all star beams and twinkling lights, all scintillation and sparkle. I thought I knew you, but——”

“You see you didn’t,” returned Nan lightly as they reached the door of the rustic ice-cream room, or parlor, as it was called.

Many colored and ornately perforated papers hung from the ceiling; on the little tables were stiff bunches of paper flowers; on the floor oilcloth. Behind the counter an apple-cheeked woman stood aghast at the sudden descent of so many customers. “We’ve got vanil’, lemon and strawberry,” she said, “only I don’t know as there’s enough to go round of any but the vanil’.”

By dint of wise selecting it was discovered that there would be enough to go around, and after buying mint-sticks and lozenges, peanuts and pop-corn, the jolly crowd again mounted to their nest of straw and the wagon bumped back to camp under a moonlit sky.

“Let’s make the welkin ring,” proposed Jo.

“What is a welkin?” asked Jean.

“It is a distant cousin to catkin,” Jo told her.

“Then how can it ring?”

“If a bell kin ring then a welkin ring,” returned Jo nonsensically.

[282]“You are so silly. I don’t know any more than I did before,” complained Jean.

“That’s because you don’t understand poetry,” replied Jo loftily. Then some one struck up, “Wait for the wagon!” and immediately the welkin did ring very tunefully. Effie was leading soprano, Nan sang alto, Dr. Paul bass, Ran came in with a good tenor. Hartley tried sometimes one thing, sometimes another, and the rest did the best they could.

“I knew you had a voice,” whispered Mr. Wells to Nan.

“I didn’t discover yours,” she returned laughing.

What had suddenly changed her? “It is not your wont, star-lady, to cast reflections upon your unworthy slaves.”

“What does a star do if it doesn’t cast reflections?” demanded Nan. And then some one began to sing their camping song so there was no more chance for talk between any two, and at parting Nan was as nonchalantly gay as any one.

“Put not your trust in princes,” she said to herself as she laid her head on her pillow. “I don’t think any one could have discovered any surplus amount of trust in my manner to-night.” But she could not find it in her heart to harbor resentment against her old friend[283] who had always been so kind, and it was not really anger that she felt, but the natural withdrawing of herself from the notice of one who had surprised her secret, who had lifted the curtain unannounced. What a good long talk they had had before that. It was always so. Heretofore she had never been more at ease with any one than with Dr. Paul, but from henceforth she feared there would be restraint. She was sorry, for they had been such good friends. She recalled his many acts of kindness. Why had he tried to intrude upon her fair thoughts? Why make the blunder of convicting her with sentiments she had scarce confessed to herself? It was too bad, too bad. Yet however she might resent his speech, from this time out Nan gave heed to Dr. Paul’s warning, at least outwardly. The dream-maiden was resolved into the “star-lady,” so Marcus Wells took occasion to tell her whenever they met.






Miss Pinch has come. I saw her to-day.” Jack gave the information.

“How do you know?” asked Jo.

“I saw her this afternoon with Mr. Wells. She has a new hat; it’s trimmed with poppies. Mr. Pinch and the other girl were there, too. The other girl’s hat is trimmed with lilacs.”

“Their name isn’t Pinch,” corrected Nan sedately, looking up from her book.

“What is it then?”

“It is Romaine, and the young lady’s name is Miss Mabel Romaine.”

“I don’t care; I shall call them Pinch; it’s good enough for such up-eyebrow people.”

Jo laughed. “What an expression. Tell us about the encounter, Jack.”

“Well, I was getting out of the canoe, there opposite Three Rocks, and they came along the path. Mr. Wells called, ‘Hallo, Jack!’ and I said, ‘Hallo!’ He stood still and was coming over to talk to me, but the others walked on with their eyebrows stretched up into the[288] middle of their foreheads, so he only said, ‘How’s everybody?’ and I said, ‘Very well, thank you,’ then he overtook the others and they went on up the lake path.”

“Humph! Not a very thrilling encounter,” asserted Jo. “I suppose that’s the last of Mr. Wells for us. He’ll tag these newcomers all the time. Your nose is out of joint, Nan.”

Nan’s eyebrows went up quite as disdainfully as ever Miss Romaine’s could. “I’m sure,” she replied haughtily, “we got along perfectly well before we knew Mr. Wells, and I don’t see but that we can continue to do so.” Yet in her heart of hearts she was conscious of a feeling of bitter jealousy, and if she had been alone the tears would have risen to her eyes.

“The proper spirit, my dear; hear your Aunt Jo tell you. We’ve plenty of good all around friends; we don’t want any of the summer sunshine, fair weather, take-you-when-I-can’t-get-any-one-else kind.”

“It strikes me,” spoke up Mary Lee, “that if you all were so deadly indifferent as you try to appear, you would not make such a to-do about it. For my part, I think you are a little unjust to Mr. Wells.”

“And why?” Nan asked with still the “up-eyebrow” manner.

[289]“Because so far he has shown no sign of neglecting us, and I am sure you wouldn’t expect him to give up his friends on our account. Suppose the case were reversed, and some of our best friends, like Charlotte and Carter and Phil Lewis, were to come, would we turn a cold shoulder on them because we happened to have met Mr. Wells?”

“But suppose they were scornful of our friends and refused to meet them, would we countenance it? and wouldn’t we tell them to go to Halifax if they couldn’t join the crowd?” Jo was speaking.

“Not if they were staying with us, were our guests, so to speak, and the crowd happened to be two or three miles away. Besides I don’t see that we have given them a chance to prove their intentions. They have only just come. You couldn’t expect them to rush off to see us the first thing.”

“That’s so,” Jo conceded. “Well, we’ll give them a chance before we condemn them utterly, won’t we, Nan?”

“Oh, of course. I dare say Mary Lee is right,” Nan admitted. She was glad that her sister’s cooler judgment had set the matter in a different light. It was certainly not to be expected that the young man should have appeared the very day that his friends had come,[290] nor that Dr. Paul should have done so either, for as Mr. Wells’ guest he was bound to show courtesy to these friends of his. “There’s one person who won’t go back on us, I’ll venture to say,” she spoke her thought aloud, “and that is Dr. Paul.”

“Oh, we can count on him just as surely as we can count on the sun’s rising every morning,” Jo agreed with Nan, “and we’ll pump him to find out how things are going on up there.”

“You old gossip,” laughed Mary Lee.

But in spite of Nan’s brave front, as the days went by and there was no sign of either Mr. Wells or his friends, her heart misgave her. She was in a dozen moods in the course of a day. He had not forgotten them, but was in the toils of an imperious creature whose demands he must yield to on account of her brother. He had forgotten and she was pensive and hugged a fancy for dying of a broken heart. He was angry because she and her friends had not called upon his friends. Well, what could he expect? Surely it was not their place to make overtures. He was hurt because Place o’ Pines was avoided and there were no more afternoon teas. Ought they to go as if nothing had happened? She dreamed of a meeting in the woods when he would tell her of[291] a fretful and spoiled girl to whom he had to be polite rather than subject himself to reproaches and maybe tears, of a meeting at the little point opposite Three Rocks when he, sad and feeling himself misunderstood, would bring his violin that he might pour out his woes in music. She would be there to hear, would suddenly appear while he was playing the Swan Song, and he would say, “I knew you would come. My heart drew yours. We are twin souls.” Then she would take from her bosom the little needle-case and say, “This will tell you that I have been thinking of you,” and he would take it and place it next his heart, at the same time showing her a withered flower she had once worn or a note she had written and which he had treasured all these days.

This was the sweetest dream of all, and once she went with beating heart to the point, but she saw him passing in a canoe with Miss Romaine and returned in a meekly sad frame of mind. Of course he preferred the other. Why should he not? A gay and beautiful creature with such a lovely name, Mabel Romaine. What a contrast to plain Nancy Corner, a tall unstylish creature, a schoolgirl who had never learned coquetries and blandishments. What could Nan expect? She would not die of a broken heart, oh, no, but she would be true forever[292] to this high ideal, and when she was an old woman they two would meet. He would send for her on his death-bed and would say, “Ah, yes, ah, yes, if I had only known that I was marrying a butterfly I would not to-day be the lonely and loveless old man I now am.” Yes, that would be it, and she would say, very softly, “You have never been loveless, Marcus,” and then he would whisper, “Too late, too late! I sinned against my best self, for I have not been a success. I did not deserve so sweet and pure a love as yours, Nancy. I bequeath to you my grandson.”

Nan was really quite happy when she had built up this romance, and thought of how she would love the little Marcus Wells—an orphan he would be—and she would always have him for her very own. He would call her Grandma Nancy and they would live together in a fine old family mansion with a garden.

But as it is the unexpected which so often happens, she did meet the young man when she was not looking for him, at least she passed him and Miss Romaine in her canoe. “Good-evening,” he called out gaily. “Haven’t seen you for an age. I’m coming over with the doctor some evening.”

Nan’s only reply was, “Good-evening,” but she heard his companion ask, “Who’s that,[293] Marcus?” and, because it was so still on the water that sound carried readily, she heard him reply, “Oh, one of those little schoolgirls down at the camp. Nice child, but awfully young and inexperienced.”

So she was only a “nice child,” in the same category as Jack or Jean. This was a bitter knowledge and she felt more unhappy than at any time until she glided off into a new dream. She was young, but she would grow older, become a wonderful musician who could bring tears to the eyes of all who heard her play, and some day he would be in her audience,—it would be in London,—and he would be humble and mute before her. She would be dressed magnificently and would wear flashing jewels. People would crowd around her and he would come up and say, “Don’t you remember me, Miss Corner?” and she would remember but she would say with a distant smile, “I am afraid I do not remember,” and then he would ask, “Don’t you remember we met one summer in Maine? Have you forgotten Place o’ Pines?” and she would answer, “Now you recall that, I have a faint remembrance of it, but it is so long ago and one meets so many persons, you know. Did you play the flute, or was it the banjo?” And he would frown and say, “I played the violin a little but I am a painter,” and the reply[294] would be, “Oh, yes, I remember you; Mr. Romaine, isn’t it?” “No, Marcus Wells.”

“Oh, yes, and your friend was Mr. Romaine, that was it. Well, Mr. Wells, I am quite pleased to have seen you after all these years. I beg your pardon, Marquis, but did you say the Duchess was waiting for me?” Then she would sail away, leaving him feeling very small and insignificant. This little drama was quite as agreeable in its way as any of the others.

True to her purpose, Jo managed to get from Dr. Paul some account of what was going on at Place o’ Pines. The doctor never failed to appear every day, alleging as fifth wheel to a coach he was never missed from Place o’ Pines. He had lengthened his stay at the entreaties of the girls, as well as of the older ladies.

“What do they do with themselves up there?” Jo asked.

“Oh, various things. Take long walks, have supper on the rocks, afternoon tea at the studio. Miss Romaine goes off sketching with Marc in the morning, Miss Vanderver and Pinch take a row on the lake, or she sits for him while he makes pencil sketches. Sometimes I am pressed into service for an illustration, but they generally quite approve of my absence, I should judge, although Marc will not allow me to mention leaving for another week.”

[295]“Does Miss Romaine sketch?” asked Nan with a little hesitancy at appearing to have any interest at all in the young woman.

“A little, I believe. She calls herself Marc’s pupil.”

“And Miss Vanderver?”

“Doesn’t do anything but listen to Pinch’s compliments. I believe that is a sure thing, that affair. The young ladies have an ancient great-aunt, or cousin or some one with them, but she never appears except on rare occasions, Pinch being supposed to be sufficiently a guardian angel for his sister and she for her friend. The aunt, a Mrs. Shepherd, sits on the porch of the farmhouse and does knitting, I take it, except when she is asleep or at meals.”

“Do you like the young ladies?” Mary Lee asked.

“Oh, yes. They are harmless, rather silly, but well versed in small talk and the society column; you know the kind. I used to think Marc had something in him over there in Munich, but Pinch is only playing at being an artist, at best. It would be much better for Marc if he were to chum up with some of the hard workers. He’ll lose the little grip he has if he tries to follow Pinch’s lead. He maintains that he is doing it for the sake of the acquaintance it will give him among the rich and the[296] great who will buy his pictures, but ‘I hae me doots.’”

Nan listened to all this with open ears, somewhat resentful that Dr. Paul should impute such motives to her hero, and believing that he underrated his friend. “It’s not very nice of him,” she told herself, and the next time they were alone together she charged him with not being a loyal friend, thereby considerably mystifying the doctor, for he certainly had tried to be loyal to her, he considered. But because of all this Nan in her heart hugged the delusion that the artist was a much abused and misunderstood person who she could excuse for any of these supposed shortcomings. Of course if Miss Romaine were his pupil they had to go off in company, particularly if Mr. Romaine and Miss Vanderver were interested in one another. A man had to be a little politic when he wanted to succeed in a profession. Probably there was no sentiment between them at all. And then back again came the dream of a meeting on the point, the violin, the Swan Song, and all the rest of it.

All this which went on inside of Nan’s brain was not guessed at by the other girls, for Nan carefully guarded her thoughts and when at last she finished the buttercups and the small case, it was put away out of sight. If Mr.[297] Wells ever asked for it he should have it; if not she would keep it as a precious souvenir, with a daisy he had once worn in his coat, and a slip of paper on which he had written his name and hers once when they were playing a game together and he kept the score.

So the days went by, and though once in a while some mention was made of Mr. Wells no one seemed very unhappy because of his absence. One afternoon he did stop for a few minutes and Nan, in a contradiction which she could not account for, flew to the woods and hid herself. All that she learned later was that he had been there, had stayed a few minutes, had asked after every one who did not happen to be on the premises, and had gone away again.

“I suppose he went back to his Miss Pinch,” said Jack who quite resented the disaffection of the friend she had been the first to discover, and who had always been particularly chatty with her.

“I think he might have had the grace to bring Mr. Pinch, or whatever his name is, to call,” said Jo.

“Oh, what in the world should he do that for? Very likely Mr. Romaine thinks we are only a lot of children,” Mary Lee remarked. “He is no chicken, you know; he must be at[298] least twenty-five,” which to sixteen seemed a veritable old bachelor.

“Oh, well, nobody wants him,” spoke up Ran.

“Here, too,” Hartley signified his endorsement of this speech. “I can’t see why you girls should want an old dandy like that dancing around.”

“But Dr. Paul is older,” Jo rejoined.

“But he isn’t a dude; besides he is different anyway,” Ran averred. “Let’s drop the old fossil and talk about something more interesting. Who’s for a horseback ride?”

“A horseback ride? For pity’s sake, where can you get horses?” asked Mary Lee.

“Hartley has discovered two which he thinks are possible and he is going to take Daniella. He says she can ride like a breeze. Nan, if I can get the horses, will you go? Ashby and I are going to see what we can get. What about the rest of you?”

Jo didn’t ride, Effie only indifferently, so Mary Lee was the only available companion for Ashby. She, as well as Nan, could ride “like a breeze” as Ran expressed it.

After some difficulty the horses were secured and the party set out. The boys had scoured the neighboring country, had been able to obtain two old side saddles, and at Davis’s store a new one. The horses were far from being[299] high-bred steeds, but Daniella could ride anything, Hartley declared, and was given the best looking nag. Nan did not mind a trotting beast, Mary Lee was mounted upon an old white horse who had a fair gait and the boys took what was left.

“There’s lots more fun in this sort of thing, just for once,” said Ran, “than in riding our own good steeds at home. This seems somehow to fit the camp and other things. Do you remember, girls, how we used to go riding up the mountain at home? Doesn’t it remind you of the old days?”

“Where are we going?” asked Hartley.

“Oh, up the mountain,” Mary Lee told him.

“Past Place o’ Pines?”

“We shall have to.”

“Then we’ll start ahead.” As Hartley had been the first to think of the expedition he had been able to secure the best horses from a farmer in the neighborhood. Daniella’s bay mare would not allow anything to pass her and kept ahead persistently.

Ran’s gray had a habit of stopping suddenly as if to get breath, and then of starting on again at a fast walk. Ashby’s old black would break into a racking gallop at the smallest provocation so that no two could keep the same gait and the laughter which the various mounts[300] provoked nearly prevented the riders from keeping their seats. Daniella, who had learned to ride on her uncle’s ranch, and who had had Mr. Scott himself for her teacher, was a very Amazon. “There isn’t any stunt she can’t do,” said Hartley admiringly, “and she’s promised to try them all, from standing up in her saddle to——”

“Jumping through a hoop,” put in Ran.

“Nonsense,” said Hartley disgustedly. “I didn’t mean circus tricks.”

“When we pass Place o’ Pines let’s go at full tilt,” suggested Mary Lee.

“If we can,” returned Ashby dubiously. “You go ahead, Mary Lee, and don’t mind me. If I have to bring up the rear, why, I will.”

So those sitting in the studio over their tea were suddenly surprised by the clatter of hoofs along the road and saw a cavalcade go dashing by, a big bay in the lead and a gaunt black, lurching along in a plough-horse gallop, bringing up the rear.

“Did you ever!” exclaimed Miss Romaine. “Who in the world are those?”

Mr. Wells looked after them with a little half wistful smile. “Some of my friends from Camp Happiness, I judge.”

“But what a sorry looking set of beasts.”

A Cavalcade Went Dashing by, a Big Bay in the Lead

A Cavalcade Went Dashing by, a Big Bay in the Lead.

[301]“Best they could get, probably, and much better than none. How would you like to try a ride some morning, Mabel?”

“I shouldn’t like it at all unless you can furnish a better mount than any of those,” she said with an amused expression.

Marcus turned to his palette and for a few minutes worked thoughtfully away. “The Ride of the Valkyries” rang in his head. He picked up his violin and softly began to finger the strings, trying the cry of the wish-maiden, and the splendid motif of the Ride. “It won’t do,” he said putting down the violin. “One instrument can’t begin to do it.”

“Of course not,” returned Miss Romaine, setting down her teacup and picking up her sketch-block. “I don’t see how you expected it. Come over here, Marcus, and don’t waste your time over that stuff. Tell me if this sky is right now that it is dry.”

“A little rose madder is what you want,” said the young man as he looked from her water-color to the bit of lake she was trying to sketch.

In about an hour the cavalcade came back, but at a slower pace. Miss Romaine had gone, and the artist stood by the roadside alone. “Take me to Walhalla, oh, Brunhilde,” he cried as Nan came briskly trotting by.

“That is the place for heroes only,” she answered back and went on well pleased with her[302] retort. Young and inexperienced she might be, but she knew her Wagner better than Mabel Romaine, she did not for a moment doubt.

“Wasn’t it great?” said Ran as he lifted her down. “We must try it again, Nan. I’ll speak for that mare Daniella had; I noticed her single-foot wasn’t bad.”

“Oh, I’ll be glad to go any time,” returned Nan gathering up the skirt she had improvised for the occasion. “It was great fun.”

“I enjoyed it, I can tell you,” Ran said with emphasis.

“And on a beast with such a gait?” laughed Nan.

“I wasn’t thinking about the beast. I was thinking about the company I had; that made up for everything.”

“My, what a pretty speech,” replied Nan. “You’ll soon be as gallant as Cousin Martin Boyd, if you keep on,” and with a little mocking smile she ran to her tent. Her eyes were like stars. He did not forget. She almost sang the words. Had not Siegfried been given a magic potion, and did he not remember at last? “He called me Brunhilde,” she said over and over to herself, “and so he does remember; he does not think I am a child as he pretended. It was only pretense, I am sure.” So little food did it take to nourish her fancies.






In a day or two Dr. Paul’s holiday was over, but before he left Nan overheard a conversation between him, her aunt and her mother. She had not meant to listen, but it seemed forced upon her, for she was in her own tent dressing and the three were sitting on the porch of Mrs. Corner’s cabin just next. The others were off on the lake and Nan had remained behind to attend to some little matters.

“Marc will come to pay his respects before he leaves,” she heard Dr. Paul say. “He has a very friendly feeling for you all, but of course these are his special chums and they are bound to absorb him. I think he will be over to-morrow as they all go off the next day.” So soon! So soon! The end was nearing, Nan realized.

“I must confess to being disappointed in Mr. Wells,” said Miss Helen. “I fancy he is a less serious young man than we imagined, a butterfly sort of person who likes to be amused, enjoys new sensations, is rather vain, something[306] of a poseur, and who is rather selfish and worldly.”

“He has that side to his nature, I admit,” agreed Dr. Paul, “though at times he is serious and one would think he had high standards. When I first knew him in Munich he seemed as much in earnest as any one I ever knew.”

“Then he is blown about by circumstances,” Mrs. Corner remarked; “the kind of person who is what influence makes him, not a very strong character.”

“He is immensely popular, though, warm-hearted and generous with his friends, and has a way with him, a way of adapting himself to the company he is in, and that is a great gift, it seems to me.”

“It is if one is sincerely interested in the things he appears to be,” rejoined Miss Helen, “but a person can make a great pretense of being this or that, a Bohemian to-day, a religious to-morrow, a lover of high things at one time, hand in hand with frivolity at another. Is he like that?”

“I am not quite sure. He is an interesting study, but he is young and one cannot tell how he may develop. I think often that the desire to try a variety of experiences will often make very young persons appear all things to all men, when really it is only a sort of eager[307] curiosity which moves them. They are sincerely interested in any novelty which comes their way, and there is really no pretense about it. In this case I think only time will prove the real character. I am afraid this marriage he is contemplating will not be for the development of his best.”

Then he was going to marry. Nan’s heart stood still. She dropped the comb she was passing through her long hair, and buried her face in her hands for a moment.

She heard the doctor’s voice again. “He says he must thank you all for a very pleasant experience. He thinks Jack is such an original, and is greatly pleased with his study of her which he thinks is one of the best things he has done. He hopes to exhibit it with your permission. As for the sketch he made of Nan he keeps it for what it is, a mere sketch. He has enjoyed Nan, too, but in a different way.”

“In what way?” There was a little sharp ring in Mrs. Corner’s voice.

“Well, he says she is so responsive. He has liked to watch her thrill and glow under his music. He has liked to play upon her emotions, to see her eyes burn like stars, and a dawning light of woman’s perception come into her face. She is an interesting study, he says. He never met so young a girl who promised so[308] much and he hopes he will see how she matures. He has played upon her emotions as he does upon his violin to see what tones he can bring forth, and”—the doctor paused, “I resented it.”

“You told him so? I wouldn’t have done that, Paul.” Mrs. Corner it was who said this.

“Oh, I simply told him he had no business to build up fanciful dream castles for Nan’s imagination to dwell in, that she has too much imagination as it is, and as a physician I forbade any more such nonsense, that he had no right to amuse himself with her temperamental growth.”

“And what did he say?”

“Oh, he laughed and promised not to ‘steep her soul in the magic of music any more’ as he put it, and that he wouldn’t ‘tear the pretty flower of her heart to pieces simply to classify it.’ You know the way he talks.”

“In a way that is very fetching to a romantic young woman,” sighed Miss Helen. “And is that the reason why he hasn’t been coming so often?”

“It is one reason, though I fancy his fiancée doesn’t allow him to stray very far from her side.”

“He is really in love with her, then.”

“Yes, or thinks he is, which amounts to the[309] same thing. He has been devoted to her for some time.”

“Well, I think we must give him credit for listening to your warning,” Mrs. Corner remarked. “Not every young man would have.”

“Oh, he is a gentleman, and if he is thoughtless, it may be attributed to the youth of him. I’ve no fault to find with Marc as a friend, and wouldn’t discuss him with any less interested than yourselves, but I wanted you to know some of these things I have been telling you. I thought it was only due to you and to him, too. Where is Nan, Mrs. Corner?”

“I think she has gone off with some of the others for a walk, though I am not sure. I heard Ran ask her if she didn’t want to go,” the reply came.

“I think I’ll go meet them,” the doctor decided. Nan heard his footsteps on the plank walk which had been laid from her mother’s cabin to the larger one, and then in a few minutes she heard her mother say:

“Nan is not like herself this summer. She is moody, sometimes wildly gay, sometimes so pensive and sad it makes me afraid she is in trouble. She has always confided in me or in you, Helen, but this summer she seems almost to avoid us, and she goes off by herself a great[310] deal. The girls have noticed it and it has hurt them a little.”

“Oh, dear, oh, dear!” Nan in her tent gave voice to a sigh.

“Have you ever thought”—Miss Helen hesitated, “that she had taken a fancy to Marcus Wells?”

“Why, no.” Mrs. Corner’s voice showed surprise.

“I have thought so.” Miss Helen was the speaker. “You have just heard what Paul said. He is no unobservant person, and is not a suspicious one, yet I think he suspects that Nan has been touched by a romantic fancy, and he wanted to let us understand something of what we might look for, as well as to give us a clear knowledge of how matters were with Marc Wells.”

“Oh, Helen, the poor little girl!”

“My dear Mary, Nan is eighteen or nearly so. She is an intensely romantic, imaginative girl, and you may well believe she has her day-dreams as all girls of her age have.”

“Oh, but she would have come to me.”

“Did you go to your mother or any one else, at her age, with all your dreams?”

“Oh, Helen, why, I suppose not. How careless I have been. I should never have allowed her to go off that way to listen to him playing[311] the violin. I ought to have known better, but she seemed such a child and it gave her so much pleasure. What folly in me not to realize that he was just the kind of person to attract a girl like Nan, a young, good-looking artist, musical, and with poetical fancies. I can see just how it happened, now it is too late.”

“Not too late; we can scarcely say that of a girl’s first little whimsy.”

“I suppose I have been blinded by other thoughts for Nan. One is prone to believe in what one most desires.”

Nan did not understand this speech. Next she heard her Aunt Helen say, “Heretofore I have no doubt she has had visions of some hero of an unreal world, some creature of imagination, some Sir Galahad, and has woven her fancies about him. That is what all girls do, and then comes the next step when they fix their thoughts upon some human being who is probably not in the least like their ideal, but whom imagination clothes in all the attractive qualities. This being may have shown himself to possess one such quality and that is enough for a vivid fancy like Nan’s. She invests him with all the rest.”

Mrs. Corner spoke next. “Yes, I remember now that my first hero was Gilliatt in Victor Hugo’s ‘Toilers of the Sea,’ and, strange to[312] say, by some peculiar method of sequence I can’t account for, my next was the young assistant at our church. I used to wrap myself in a big shawl on cold days, and sit at our attic window to see him go by, and if he passed me on the street, that was a red-letter day.”

“And yet no one knew of this.”

“Not a soul. Half the pleasure was in the mysterious secrecy.”

“Just what I said. My first craze was for the organist. I recall that he had Hyacinthine curls and wore a cloak. I used to steal into church when he was practicing and sit there lost in a rhapsody, then I would slip out when he had stopped playing, and would wait at the gate to see him come from the church. I thought him the most wonderful being in the world. I couldn’t have been more than sixteen.”

There was a little duet of laughter.

“Before that,” Miss Helen continued, “I was in love with my Sunday-school teacher. She was a heavenly goddess to me, and I envied the very glove she wore because it touched her hand.”

“And I felt the same way about one of the older girls at school.” Mrs. Corner gave her experience. “What dainties I saved for her. What gifts I hoarded to bestow upon her, and[313] how unhappy I was when she wouldn’t let me walk home with her. Her name, if I remember correctly, was Samantha Farley, and she had red curly hair.”

Another little tinkle of laughter came to Nan’s ears.

“So, you see,” Miss Helen took up the conversation again, “our dear little Nan’s is no unusual case. She will recover and, I hope, will marry some good man when she is old enough.”

“As I did,” said Mrs. Comer.

Nan shook her head. They did not take her seriously. They did not know that this was the love of her life, that it would be impossible for her to change. She waited for the next words which came from her aunt. “And yet, no doubt the dear thing imagines her affections are securely placed, the poor darling.”

“I wish we had looked ahead a little; we might have prevented this.” It was Mrs. Comer who spoke.

“How could we? It would have seemed unreasonable to say to the young man, ‘We can’t have you coming here because we are afraid one of our girls will fall in love with you.’ Suppose, too, he had been honestly attracted to her, what then?”

[314]“Oh, we couldn’t have permitted anything so serious as that. He is not the kind of man for Nan.” Mrs. Corner was confident.

“There’s no one good enough for Nan, if it comes to that,” was the reply.

“Well, Helen, we must not worry. I hope there is no great harm done. She will probably never see our artist again. If he is to marry she is not likely to, and thus an end to that. Ah, my dear, I wish I could keep them all children. I begin to tremble for my darling girls as I see them facing womanhood.” Mrs. Corner gave the final word.

Then Nan heard the chairs moved back and there was nothing more heard. Her brain was in a whirl. The mists of imagination were beginning to part to show realities. She wondered if her Aunt Helen still thought of the organist, and if that was the reason she had never married, but no, she remembered a little photograph of a young man in Confederate gray, which she had once come across in looking through a box of old letters her mother had, and she had asked, “Who is this, mother?” “The young man who would have been your Aunt Helen’s husband, if he had lived,” her mother had told her. “He was killed at Gettysburg.” Nan had thought at the time this was probably why her aunt’s hair had[315] turned gray so early. “No wonder,” she sighed as she fastened her belt around her slender waist.

She slipped out at the back of the tent and walked slowly through the woods, turning over in her mind the conversation she had just listened to. “If a man were married of course it would be a dreadful thing for a girl to continue to think of him.” She mustn’t do that, and why should she—if he didn’t care for her? He was not Lohengrin, nor she Elsa. He was not Siegfried nor she Brunhilde; that was all as unreal as the characters themselves. Plain matter-of-fact truth was that Marcus Wells had been entertained in playing with her as two children play. It had meant nothing whatever to him but pastime. He was in love with another girl and they were to be married. She quite understood his fanciful way of speaking of his analysis of her; “he wouldn’t tear the pretty flower of her heart to pieces just to classify it”; so she was nothing more than a specimen to be stuck through with a pin and pinned to the wall of his experience. She gave a little gasp. She could not, and would not meet him again.

Dr. Paul made his farewells that evening to a very quiet, thoughtful Nan. “I shall see you at Christmas, I hope,” he said. “You expect[316] to be at home for the holidays, your mother says.”

“Yes, we shall go to Aunt Sarah,” she answered without enthusiasm.

“Don’t work too hard, little girl,” he said pressing her hand. “I’m glad you are to be among friends.” And that was the last of Dr. Paul for some months.

Nan kept out of the way all the next day, not even appearing at dinner. She took some lunch in her pocket and spent the morning in her woodland haunt. In the afternoon she went with Ran for a horseback ride, and she left the supper table before the others. As she passed her mother she leaned over and whispered, “Don’t worry, dearest. I’m not going far, and please don’t let them look me up. I’ll tell you why some time.”

Her mother understood, and when a little later Marc Wells appeared, Nan was not to be found.

“I believe she is mourning after Dr. Paul,” declared Jo, “for we have scarcely seen her all day.”

“Dr. Paul?” Mr. Wells knitted his brows. “Well, please make my adieux.” He left a small sketch for Mrs. Corner, delighted Jack with a photograph of the picture for which she had posed, and when Nan entered her tent at[317] bedtime, she saw a tiny note pinned to her cushion and a package by the side of it. The note read:

“Farewell, Brunhilde! You are cruel to hide away in this manner. Loge guards you well, for you are not to be found. I hope you will not forget to send me word when you get to New York. You must remember that you have an engagement to come to one of our studio teas. I enclose my card so you cannot make the excuse of not knowing the address. I hope you will like the little sketch and the reminder of


Nan opened the package to see a small water-color study of Place o’ Pines, the name written underneath, and a photograph of Marcus Wells in his Siegfried dress. The little log cabin in the green-wood, with a shimmer of lake just beyond, made a pretty sketch. The photograph was posed with the horn uplifted after the manner of one of Knote which Nan had shown the artist.

She laid the gifts away, a sharp pang at heart, and went to bed, but not to sleep. The lights were all out and the camp very still when suddenly she heard the joyous notes of the Siegfried call, the “Son of the Woods.” Had she been asleep and dreaming? No, there it was again, nearer. She sprang up, slipped[318] on her wrapper, and drew on her shoes, then she stole out into the starlit night and through the wooded ways to the border of the lake. A canoe with a light at its prow was gliding over the water. There was a soft plash of the paddles and presently again the sound of the horn. Then Nan distinguished a figure standing up with horn at lips. It was so quiet she could hear the voices of those in the boat.

“You oughtn’t to do that, Marc,” she made out a man’s voice. “You will wake up all those little schoolgirls at camp.”

“It would take more than my tooting to disturb their innocent slumbers, the little dears,” the answer came.

Nan watched the boat disappearing into the dimness of the night, but heard the dipping of paddles and the tinkle of laughter after the canoe was lost to view. So did her hero pass out of her sight as dramatically as he had entered, and so was Nan’s first romance ended.

She stole back to her tent, chilled by the cool night air, and crept shiveringly under the covers. Once in a while a tear would steal from under her closed lids to fall upon her pillow as she lay with hands tightly locked over her throbbing heart. Who drives a sun chariot falls far, and Nan was bruised and hurt after her wild plunge from heaven to earth.

[319]She was pale and wide-eyed the next morning when she took her note and gifts to show her mother. “My blessed lamb,” murmured Mrs. Corner folding her arms around the girl.

Nan dropped her head on her mother’s shoulder. “I heard all you and Aunt Helen and Dr. Paul were saying out there on the porch the other day,” she confessed. “I was in the tent dressing, and I could not come out, and I heard. I wanted to tell you before, but I couldn’t.”

“Dearest daughter, I understand.”

“I know you do, but oh, mother, it hurts, oh, it hurts.”

“My precious child, I know, I know.” Her mother held her close, her cheek against the girl’s bowed head.

Nan was very still for a few minutes, then she said hesitatingly, “Did you feel so when you woke up from your dream about the young clergyman? What woke you, mother?”

She did not see the smile which came over her mother’s face at the recollection of her disillusionment. “I saw him eating roast goose and onions, with the perspiration standing out upon his forehead. It was at a church supper, and I heard him say, ‘If the quail which fed the children of Israel were anything like this roast goose I don’t wonder they sighed for the flesh-pots[320] of Egypt.’ I watched him consume two mighty plates of the supper, smack his greasy lips, and pick his teeth with such an expression of carnal delight as completely disenchanted me, and I realized that the saintly priest in white robes was not the every-day man eating a good dinner.”

Nan lifted her head and the two smiled at one another. “But had you really cared?” she asked.

“I thought so, but it was an imaginary caring. I was in love with an idea not a person. I never loved but one, Nan.” Her voice was very solemn and tender.

“And that was—father?”


They drew closer together and neither spoke for a few moments.

“Mother dear,” Nan asked presently, “how old were you when you saw the young curate eat roast goose?”

“About your age, dearie.”

“And how long after that did you meet father?”

“I had known him long before, but I didn’t recognize my ideal lover in John Corner. That came later. Remember, Nan dear, ‘when half-gods go, the gods arrive.’”

Here some one came to the cabin door. Her[321] mother went to open and then stepped out on the porch. Nan picked up her picture and the note; the former she would put away with the buttercup case; the latter she tore into small bits and threw these on the open fire before which she was standing; then she watched with a grave face till the last fragment smouldered into white ashes.






There were but a few days left of camp life. Hartley must return to Harvard, Effie would enter upon her last year at the Wadsworth school where Daniella, too, would go. Ran would go back to his law school, Ashby to the university, Jo was looking forward with some misgivings to her first year at college, but was so rejoiced that Nan was to be one of her classmates that she averred it took away half her dread. Mary Lee and the twins would return to Miss Cameron, and on the way home the Corners would stop for a day at Cousin Maria Hooper’s.

“We must do something to celebrate,” declared the boys.

“What shall it be?” asked Ran. “We might send off fireworks on the lake.”

“That would be one thing if we could get them in time,” Hartley fell in with this.

“No doubt Al Davis has some left over from his Fourth of July stock; we’ll see,” Ran rejoined.

“We might have a regular breaking camp[326] the way the darkies do at camp-meeting,” suggested Mary Lee.

“We could do that,” agreed the others.

“Let’s arrange a programme,” proposed Ashby, taking out his note-book and pencil.

“Now, isn’t that just like Ash?” said Ran; “he always wants everything down in black and white.”

“Best way,” Ashby answered, “then there’s sure to be no mistake. What first? I suppose we ought to have some sort of feed to make it jollier.”

“And some kind of stunt besides fireworks,” specified Hartley.

“Come, Nan, you and Jo are the ingenious ones; stir up your brains and give us a programme,” demanded Ran.

“Speeches,” suggested Nan. “You can be one of the orators, Ran; it will get your hand in. Jo can do one of her funny monologues.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that. Can’t you leave me out?” Jo began to protest.

“Oh, yes, of course you will. Come on, Jo.” Voices urged her on every side, and she gave in.

“Pity we couldn’t have the phonograph again for some music,” said Hartley, “but there isn’t time. You might give us a banjo solo, Ash.”

[327]“And Ran can sing some coon songs; he’s great at that.” Mary Lee suggested this.

“What’s the matter with a sort of minstrel show? We needn’t black up,” proposed Ran.

“Why not?” inquired Hartley. “Here’s the lake handy to remove the burnt cork.”

“Well, we’ll see. Put it down, Ash. Now, let’s see, I suppose we ought to begin with a feed. What shall it be, Jean? You’re the authority on wittles.”

“If we had ice we could have ice-cream, for the cream is easy to get from the farmhouse,” replied Jean.

“So’s the ice easy to get; we’ll look into that. Well, suppose we say ice-cream and cake, though it seems to me something warmer would be more comforting; the nights are chilly,” Ran remarked.

“Jean could eat ice-cream sitting on an iceberg with her feet in a snow-drift,” remarked Jo. “Let’s have something warm if we can, Jean.”

“Suppose we have an old time country feast,” Daniella proposed, “nuts and cider, apples and gingerbread.”

“Something typical of the region? It wouldn’t be bad. Cider and apples are plentiful enough, and we can bribe Hetty to make the gingerbread, while as for nuts, if we can do no better we’ll have peanuts. We might toast[328] marshmallows, too, if any one cares for them after having so many this season.” Jo was the speaker.

“What’s wrong with a corn-roast?” inquired Ashby.

“All right. The best yet. Good boy!” cried Hartley. “Put her down. Now read.”

“Early evening, minstrel show, followed by corn-roast and fireworks; that simplifies matters. Speeches and stunts included in show; fireworks as finale,” Ashby read from his note-book.

“What do we do to break camp, as you call it?” inquired Effie.

“Oh, we must march around camp singing, then shake hands and go to bed. We needn’t keep it up all night the way the negroes do sometimes,” Mary Lee told her.

“We might get up a song for the occasion,” observed Ran. “Well, I think that is a pretty good programme, as much as we can get through. Nan, you and Jo can get up the jokes and things; Mary Lee and the rest can attend to the costumes; we boys will see about the speeches, the corn for the roast and the fireworks; that disposes of the whole business.”

Ashby wrote the list down and the party scattered, intent upon the immediate carrying out of their plans. Therefore very soon Nan[329] and Jo had their heads together giggling over some absurd jokes, Ran was marching up and down with head bent, intent upon his speech, Mary Lee and the other girls were consulting their elders in the matter of costume while Hartley and Ashby started off for a forage for corn and fireworks.

Miss Marshall and Miss Lloyd never failed to further anything in reason, and proposed that the costumes be nothing more elaborate than the ordinary camp dress. “If you black up,” said Miss Lloyd, “you will be sufficiently prepared for a show of this kind and you can brighten your costumes by wearing different colored handkerchiefs. Are you all to take part in the minstrel show?”

“Oh, no, only the three boys, Nan, Jo and myself,” Mary Lee told her. “The rest want to be audience, so there will be only six to perform.”

“Quite enough considering the size of the audience. Very well, anything we can do to help, please believe we shall be glad to do.” So the flock went off to report to Nan and Jo.

They found these two cudgeling their brains for proper words to use in something they were writing. “Ate, state, fate.” Jo had her pencil poised. “Which sounds better, Nan? So from this good old camp we must be getting[330] on a gait, or, For we must all be traveling just as sure as fate?”

“Oh, Jo, the first is so slangy and the second isn’t much better. Let me see. Why not say: We must be departing for the season’s waxing late?”

“Departing is so formal. We don’t want a song to be sung on a college platform before a row of professors. I object to departing. Why not say: Now we must be going for the season’s getting late?”

“That’ll do. I think it really sounds better. Hallo, girls. We are getting into shape. I think one more stanza will complete this beautiful song. You all must learn it so as to sing it when we march around camp.”

“It is to the tune of John Brown’s body,” Jo told them. “Here’s the first verse:

“We’ve all been having such a jolly time at camp,
We’ve all been having such a jolly time at camp,
We’ve all been having such a jolly time at camp,
But now we’re marching on.”

“Go on,” begged the girls. “Let’s have the rest.” And Jo consented to read the other lines.

“We’ve been canoeing on the pretty little lake,
We’ve been canoeing on the pretty little lake,
We’ve been canoeing on the pretty little lake,
But now we’re marching on.
“We’ve been on picnics and we’ve climbed the mountains high,
We’ve been on picnics and we’ve climbed the mountains high,
We’ve been on picnics and we’ve climbed the mountains high,
But now we’re marching on.
“We’ve eaten flapjacks and a lot of other things,
We’ve eaten flapjacks and a lot of other things,
We’ve eaten flapjacks and a lot of other things,
But now we’re marching on.
“We’ve done our shopping at the store of Al Davis’,

Accent on the vis, girls.

“We’ve done our shopping at the store of Al Davis’,
We’ve done our shopping at the store of Al Davis’,
But now we’re marching on.
“We’ve been a-riding on the farmer’s clumsy nags,
We’ve been a-riding on the farmer’s clumsy nags,
We’ve been a-riding on the farmer’s clumsy nags,
But now we’re marching on.
“Now we must be going, for the season’s getting late,
Now we must be going, for the season’s getting late,
Now we must be going, for the season’s getting late,
And we go marching on.”

“You see,” Jo laid down her paper, “the beauty of this is that we don’t have to have any rhymes, only meter, and it is a sort of hymny thing appropriate for a camp. Of course the Glory, glory hallelujah comes in to make it more like a camp-meeting.”

[332]“It’s perfectly fine, Jo. How did you come to think of it?” asked the girls.

“Oh, it was Nan’s idea, as you might know. She started it and I helped out with the lines. I’m going to do an Irish monologue and we have some good jokes. Noahdiah Peakes ought to be here to ask conundrums.”

“That gives me an idea,” said Nan jotting something down on the margin of her paper.

The boys, who had gone off in the wagon, returned with a pile of roasting ears, and some mysterious articles which they hustled into their tent.

“Did you get any fireworks?” asked Jack on the alert.

“We did, indeed,” Ran told her. “We bought out all that Al Davis had, and I think we shall have quite a show.”

“Are they what you took into the tent?” inquired Jack, her curiosity still unsatisfied.

“Shan’t tell you,” returned Ran with a mischievous smile. He was a tall lad, with blue eyes and sandy hair, not handsome but with a frank, pleasant face that at once inspired confidence. Ashby was not so tall. He had the same colored hair but his eyes were gray. He was a little shy, but was always ready to do anything for others he could, but always did it in a quiet, unassuming way.

[333]There was much scurrying to and fro for the rest of the day, much laughter and fun over the arrangements for the evening.

“I am glad we have something to occupy us,” said Daniella as they sat down to dinner, “for the breaking up of a good time always does make me sad.”

“Then you have had a good time, Danny, and are glad you came,” Miss Helen said.

“Oh, I am glad. I have never had such a good time.”

“Not even in Europe?”

“No, because it was all so strange and new, and I was trying so hard to understand and take in everything, while here I’ve been with you all and it has been so free. There were no lessons, no strange languages, no buildings I ought to know about, no pictures I ought to see.”

Miss Helen smiled at the frank confession. It was evident that while Daniella’s trip to Europe had been of great benefit in the matter of education, it had weighed rather heavily upon her at the time.

Presently Mary Lee came in and drew up her chair with a sigh of fatigue. “I’m tired,” she said. “I do hate to pack, but I have about finished.”

“You are forehanded, Mary Lee,” said her aunt.

[334]“Oh, but you know I like to get things done. The rest said they wouldn’t pack till morning as they might want some of their things this evening, but I have put aside exactly what I shall need and can stuff them in the last thing.”

“Isn’t that just like Mary Lee?” said Daniella. “She is so orderly that I believe she’d be standing ready dressed with a hand satchel if the house caught on fire.”

“Oh, I always keep my bag ready packed,” replied Mary Lee in a matter-of-fact way. “I can snatch it up at any minute.”

“Didn’t I tell you?” Daniella laughed and nodded at Miss Helen.

Here Jo came in. “Hurry up, girls,” she said. “We have something on hand to do right after dinner.”

“Hurry up yourself,” Nan told her. “You’re a great one. Here we have nearly finished our dinner and you have just come in. What is the special rush?”

“We’re going to get things to deck the hall.”

“They will all have to be taken right down again,” said Mary Lee practically.

“Well, ’Lish can do it after we go. We don’t have to consider anything but the putting up.” She hurried through with her meal and rushed out to join the others who, with the boys, were waiting to set out for the woods.[335] The boys were armed with hatchets ready to chop off green boughs for decorations, leaving the girls to gather leaves already turning, and the red berries of the wild rose.

With armfuls they returned to the big cabin where they made a veritable bower to the contempt of ’Lish whom they called upon for nails and string. “Fool nonsense, I call it,” he muttered, “fetchin’ all that there truck to litter up the place. Some folks ain’t got a mite of common sense. Why can’t they leave things be? I can’t see as it’ll make their wittles taste any better to have the place look like a bé-zar.” However, he was willing enough to help, for it was his way to grumble a little and then be all the readier afterward.

They all had a busy day of it, but their enthusiasm never flagged and if they were tired by supper time each and all insisted that all they needed was a little food to make them as ready for fun as ever. The days were much shorter and they needed all the lanterns in camp to light up the place. The lights were hung around the impromptu stage, gleaming from between green boughs and casting a glow upon the red and yellow leaves. Hartley’s was the first appearance, and here Jack discovered what was so mysteriously hurried to the boys’ tent, for Hartley was made up as Noahdiah Peakes,[336] and came in pushing himself along on a ridiculous little wagon with a toy horse, these having been discovered at Davis’s store. The old jokes were made, the old conundrums asked each to the customary accompaniment of “Git ap!” This was Nan’s idea, the one she had jotted down that morning on the margin of her paper, and it made a great hit. Then came the minstrels, Hartley keeping his costume, but adding a coat of black cork to his hands and face. Ashby with his banjo was one of the end men, Ran with bones was the other. They did some funny coon songs interspersing the performance with jokes. Then Mary Lee gave her breakdown which was so applauded that she did another typical dance. Nan gave an imitation of an opera singer with no voice at all, then Jo, who had gone out to get rid of her burnt cork, returned to do an Irish monologue. She was a great mimic and her brogue brought much applause. After the finale, an old camp-meeting hymn, sung in chorus, they all trooped out to the field back of the camp where ’Lish had been instructed to build a fire, and here they had the corn-roast. The boys had prepared a pile of sharpened sticks, and if the corn was frequently smoked and charred it was relished by most of the party.

Jo Returned to do an Irish Monologue

Jo Returned to do an Irish Monologue.

“Now the fireworks!” cried Jack who was[337] much interested in these. To the lake they took their way to set off pinwheels and roman candles, and to send up rockets which went hissing down into the lake. At the last a great rocket bomb started the echoes and sent frightened birds flying from their nests in the near-by trees.

Then every one, even ’Lish and Hetty, joined in the procession which marched around the camp singing their song. More verses were added as a line would be suggested and the marching was kept up enthusiastically till the older ones declared themselves tired. At the close every one solemnly shook hands all around and it was declared that they had “done broke camp” as Hetty expressed it. She made a little bobbing curtsey to all. “I sholy is disinclined to part with yuh-alls,” she said. “It seem lak ole times to hev dese yer cay’ins on. I ain’t been to no veritas camp-meetin’ fo’ many a long ye’r, an’ yuh-alls is such nice ladies an’ gemmans dat I hopes to see yuh-alls nex’ ye’r,” a wish which was echoed by one and all.

Then some one raised “Three cheers for Camp Happiness!” and then “Three cheers for Miss Marshall and Miss Lloyd!” so the cheering was kept up till a curious little squirrel, wakened by all this hullabaloo, came scampering out of his nest and sat on his haunches[338] looking around inquiringly as if to say, “Why all this fuss, friends?” The squirrels had become very tame, for every one fed them, and no one thought of scaring them off, much less of hurting them.

In a short time every lantern and candle was out, the tents gleamed white in the moonlight. Before another week the place would be silent save for the lonely call of a night-bird or the pad of some four-footed creature prowling the woods.

All this came to Nan’s mind as she turned on her pillow. She thought of Place o’ Pines deserted and boarded up as she had seen it for the last time. “I shall never come back,” she sighed.






The next day saw Noahdiah with a stage full of passengers and such a pile of luggage as he declared he “didn’t know as he’d ever be able to h’ist on.” However the boys helped with strong arms as well as with suggestions and finally the whole twelve persons were safely stowed away with their trunks roped on at the back, piled on top or serving as seats. The Corners left the train at Sebago that they might make the promised visit to Cousin Maria, while the others went on to Boston, the Gordon boys to continue their journey to Virginia, Hartley and Effie, with Daniella, to return to their home, while Jo turned off to go to her aunt’s where she would stay till she should be ready to start for college.

The Corners felt that they must hurry for there were the bridesmaid dresses to be made and the wedding presents to be bought for Miss Dolores, so they did not tarry anywhere till New York was reached. “I can scarcely wait to see Miss Dolores,” said Mary Lee when they[342] had reached their hotel. “I’m going to call her up first thing.”

“Do wait till you have washed your face,” replied Nan. “It is all over cinders; you would have the car window open.”

“Oh, I had to; the cars were so hot and stuffy after living in the open air all these weeks.”

“But you don’t have to call her up the instant you get in.”

Mary Lee concluded she could take time to remove the cinders, but she did not delay long after that, and when she returned from the telephone she was as excited as it was in the power of Mary Lee to be. “What do you think, Nan?” she exclaimed. “Mercedes is coming to-morrow and Miss Dolores wants us to come up to dinner, stay all night and go with them first thing in the morning to meet the steamer. They think it will be in by half-past eight or nine, so we shall have to make an early start. Won’t it be fun?”

“It will be fine,” Nan responded heartily. “Does she want all of us to come?”

“Oh, no, only our two selves who know Mercedes. I’ll go ask mother, then I’m to telephone Miss Dolores. She is so glad we reached here in time.” She went off, presently returning to say that Mrs. Corner had no objection[343] to the arrangement. “Please hurry, Nan, while I go to the telephone,” said Mary Lee.

“But why hurry? The steamer isn’t coming in to-night.” Nan liked to tease Mary Lee. “There is plenty of time before dinner.”

“Oh, but, Nan, don’t you want to see Miss Dolores and her trousseau, and Mr. St. Nick?”

Nan laughed. “First best, Miss Dolores, second best, her clothes, third best, dear old Mr. St. Nick. I think I put him first, myself, and of course I am dying to see the trousseau.”

“And not Miss Dolores? You’re very peculiar, I must say.” Mary Lee was up in arms.

“Of course I want to see her. You must be stupid to think I don’t, but Mr. St. Nick is a little bit dearer and the clothes are more of a novelty, so there you are.”

Mary Lee walked off with her nose in the air. “Very well,” she remarked as she went out, “I shall go the minute I am ready, and if you prefer to come later, I shall not object.”

Nan laughed provokingly, but went on with brisk preparations as soon as the door closed after Mary Lee. She wanted to go early quite as much as her sister, but Mary Lee was always such a precise and unhurried person it[344] was but seldom that one had a chance to tease her and the opportunity was too good to lose. She made such haste and Mary Lee was so long at the telephone that when she came back Nan was all ready. “Oh,” exclaimed the latter, “I was just about to go. I thought perhaps you had changed your mind. Suppose I start on since you’ll not be dressed for at least half an hour.”

“Nan Corner, if you go without me I’ll never forgive you. I think you are just horrid.”

“But you were going without me all right, all right.”

“That’s quite another thing.”

“Can’t seem to see it, but rather than ruffle your feathers any more I’ll go to mother and Aunt Helen and you can stop by for me when you’ve done prinking.”

So saying she left Mary Lee to herself and it is needless to say that if it were within Mary Lee to hurry she did it on this occasion. In consequence in considerably less than half an hour the two were leaving the hotel for Mr. Pinckney’s home. They had been in New York often enough to know the way fairly well.

Mr. Pinckney was watching at the window for them and came bustling out in his hearty way, crying, “Here you are! Bless your hearts,[345] I am glad to see you. Come right in. Well, well, isn’t this great? We must have you right here with us till after the wedding. Where are you staying? I’ll telephone them to send up your baggage. Where is Dolores? Fisher, tell Miss Dolores the young ladies have come.”

Then in a moment Miss Dolores came running down-stairs to be hugged and kissed and to tell them all her news.

Having decided that the two girls were to remain in the house till after the wedding Mr. Pinckney could not rest till he had the matter settled. He would fain have had the other two, but Mrs. Corner compromised by promising they should come on the wedding day to remain till Miss Dolores returned from her bridal trip, Jack herself telling him that he would need them more then and that it should be her business to see that he was not lonely.

The old gentleman was in high good humor after this. He confessed to Nan in confidence that no one knew how he had dreaded the two weeks during which his granddaughter should be away. “But it is all right now,” he said. “I shan’t mind it, not at all.”

“You’d better not,” Nan threatened. “If we four Corners aren’t enough for you I must say you are hard to please.”

[346]“Conceited little minx,” said Mr. Pinckney, but he rubbed his hands and chuckled every time he looked at the two.

There was a delightful hour after dinner when Mr. Pinckney was smoking his cigar and Miss Dolores took them up-stairs to see her wedding finery; the dainty morning frocks, the more elaborate gowns for evening wear, and finally the white satin wedding gown which Mr. Pinckney had insisted upon, though it was to be but a simple ceremony performed at home.

“Mercedes is bringing my wedding veil,” Miss Dolores told the girls, “Spanish lace that Cousin Teresa is sending. The dear child has been longing so to come and I am so glad they consented to it. We shall keep her for a good long visit, I hope. She can speak some English now and it will be an excellent opportunity for her to improve herself in the language.”

“Is she coming all alone?” asked Mary Lee.

“No, she comes with some friends of the family who sailed from Havre. Other friends took her as far as Paris where the Dos Santos met her. I hope the child has not been very sick on the journey. The steamer was expected this evening, but is a little late. However,[347] there is not much doubt but that she will dock in the morning.”

“I am almost glad she didn’t come before,” said Nan, “for we might not have reached here in time, and it is stringing along the excitements more gradually to have her come in the morning.”

“Oh, me, but it is exciting,” said Mary Lee giving Miss Dolores a squeeze. “We stopped to see about the bridesmaid frocks before we even went to the hotel and they are promised faithfully by Wednesday evening, so we shall surely have them for Thursday.”

“I had Mercedes send her measurements and I think hers will not need to be altered. Would you like to see it?” Wouldn’t they? And the pretty girlish gown of white silk mull was displayed. Mercedes was to be maid of honor and the four Corners the bridesmaids. Nan and Mary Lee were to wear soft buff; the twins were to be dressed in delicate green.

“And you are going to have chrysanthemums, of course, for decorations,” said Mary Lee. “What flowers do we carry?”

“Roses to remind us of Italy, where we were so happy when the roses were climbing everywhere. I shall carry white ones, you and Nan those deep saffron-colored ones shading to pink, and the twins will have pink. Mercedes will[348] have creamy colored ones,” Miss Dolores told them.

“Lovely,” declared the girls.

“And Mr. St. Nick is quite satisfied to have you married,” said Mary Lee.

“Yes, I am sure he is. Once he made up his mind to accept the fact he has been goodness itself, and I really think he would be disappointed now if we were to put it off. He told me a few days ago that if he were called from this world he should feel very content that he had left me in the keeping of a good man, and that it was a great comfort to him.”

Then Mr. Kirk was announced and the girls went down to greet him and then to entertain Mr. St. Nick in the library, leaving the lovers to themselves.

They were all up betimes the next morning and were down on the dock to see the great steamer come slowly up the harbor. Mercedes caught sight of the little group, and then Mary Lee distinguished her, and they began signaling and waving handkerchiefs until down the gangplank came the little Spanish girl to throw herself into the arms of her friends, half laughing, half crying in her excitement.

The affair of luggage did not detain them long and soon they were whirling through[349] the streets in the carriage, Mercedes exclaiming first in broken English, then in Spanish. “How is wondherful the large high build,” she said. “Ah, mucha gente! mucha gente! Is very many person, yes?”

“Did you have a good voyage?” Nan asked her.

“Ah, but yes, I think good. I am at a time a sickness not to go the table, but I am soon recover. How I have the pleasure of see you.” She laid a hand affectionately on an arm of each girl friend. “When my mother say me, Mercedes I permit the to go, I am make a scream of joy. I spik Eenglis, yes?”

“Oh, you have learned much,” Mary Lee told her.

“We have this year an Eenglis mees who is tich us. My sisther and I have progress, she say. I say my sisther when I am return I spik more better as before and I tich her.”

“You will learn very fast here, for you will hear only English, and it is the best way to be among those who speak a language if one would learn,” Nan told her.

“Ah, yes, but is very diffikewlt ondtherstandth what is say. I wish you spik me very slow. When is rapide I cannot.”

“We will try to speak very slowly, for we know how hard it is to understand a strange[350] language unless it is spoken slowly,” said Nan. “I hope you will like New York.”

“How large and fine is. Paris is also fine. I like Paris much, as also I will like much New York to see how gay. A marriage it will be gay also. My cousin, I bring the lace for you to wear.”

“And there is such a pretty frock waiting for you,” Mary Lee told her. “Your mother is well and all our friends?”

“All well. And those of you?”

“Are well. You will see them to-day. My sisters are very eager to meet you, Mercedes.”

“I am pleasing meet them.”

“And how is the little asinello, Neddy?” Mary Lee asked.

“Very fine, very good, very well. Oh, I have much to say you, to inquire also.”

The saying and questioning was carried on at a chattering rate from this time out. Mercedes was no sooner established in the room next that occupied by Nan and Mary Lee than she must see her bridesmaid frock; next, her cousin’s pretty wedding clothes. Mr. Pinckney never did anything by halves and once he had accepted the fact of his granddaughter’s marriage there was nothing too much for him to do for her, and he had himself carried her off on various shopping expeditions when he would[351] order gowns, wraps, hats to his taste and without listening to her protests. Moreover he had taken the greatest interest in having a suite of rooms decorated and refurnished for her, making them truly beautiful with fine rugs, choice pictures, artistic hangings and upholstery.

“We call it the bride’s bower,” Mary Lee told Mercedes as they led her to the apartments. “We think they are the very prettiest rooms in the house.”

Mercedes had never seen such elegance, though the charm of the old and picturesque made her own home delightful. Still, there only simple furnishings were in order and it seemed to her young eyes a bare place in contrast to all this luxury, but she said nothing about this, being a proud young person who voiced a judicious, rather than extravagant, admiration.

Mr. Pinckney would fain have whirled them all off to a play or the opera that first evening, but Miss Dolores reminded him that Mercedes was probably tired and that the excitement of arriving in a new country was in itself exhausting, so he gave up graciously and contented himself with ordering large boxes of candy for each girl, with flowers at their places at dinner.

The remainder of the Corner family arrived in time for luncheon the next day and then[352] there was a great bustle and much chatter with five girls in the house. Wedding presents were arriving every day, and to Mary Lee was given the extreme privilege of opening them, announcing the giver and making a proper list. In this she had an occupation dear to her heart.

The wedding was to be a small affair, only a few friends and relatives being invited. Mr. Pinckney’s daughter and her husband would arrive from California a few days beforehand. One or two cousins, the next nearest relatives, would also be there, and Mr. Kirk’s family, his brother who was to be best man, and his mother. Charlotte Loring and Jo Keyes were also down on the list, but the whole number did not exceed twenty-five.

Of course there was much speculation about the best man and the various “in-laws” but there was so much to occupy every minute of the time remaining before the great day, that there was little opportunity for any outside matters. Jack and Jean did find a chance to go to see little Christine Klein, a protégée of theirs and the Pinckneys’. They found the child in the same comfortable apartment where she and her grandfather had been established two or three years before. Her lameness was now scarcely perceptible while good food and comfort had changed the wan little invalid into[353] a much sturdier child. She was going to school and learning rapidly. Her German accent had nearly disappeared and altogether there was a great change in Christine.

It was a wonderful time for Mercedes, who was not allowed to get homesick, and whose struggles with English were constant. She daily came to one of her friends with some problem. “You say me, ‘sit up,’ you say me, ‘sit down’ and it is the same,” she said one day to Mary Lee.

Mary Lee laughed. “They don’t mean the same exactly, for when you sit down you don’t always sit up, though when you sit up you must be sitting down.”

Mercedes lifted her hands with an expressive gesture. “How it is diffikewlt. I no ondtherstandth.”

“I will show you.” Mary Lee took a hunched-up position on a chair, letting her shoulders drop forward. “Now I am sitting down but I am not sitting up. This is sitting up.” She took an erect attitude.

“I see, I see,” cried Mercedes. “That is goodth. What says the conductor when he wish me hurry? I do not know the bordth. I cannot find in the dictionario.”

“What do you think he says? What does it sound like?” asked Mary Lee.

[354]“I think he say ‘ullabore,’ but I cannot find the bordth.”

“You mustn’t say bordth, Mercedes; it is word.” This was one of the most difficult things for her to pronounce. “The conductor says, ‘All aboard,’ but he speaks very rapidly.”

“And what does he mean by this allabor? I cannot ondtherstandth.”

“He means that every one must hurry to get on the car. You have the word abordo.”

“Ah, now I know. I say you many questions.”

“You ask me many questions.”

“Ah, mio!” sighed Mercedes. “Never shall I learn.”

“Oh, but you are doing beautifully. You can understand us much better than you could at first and you learn some new words every day.”

“When you no speak fast I can tell, but many thing make a puzzling when I wish speak.”

“What else?”

“I like know what is fowl.”

“Oh, it is different kinds of birds that are eaten, like chickens and turkeys.”

“And poultry?”

“Let me see. I don’t know that there is any difference, yet there must be. Oh, yes, we hear[355] of fowls of the air so I suppose any kind of bird may be a fowl while poultry are the kinds we raise to eat. Let us get the dictionaries and see.” Each brought her dictionary and turned over the pages. “Here we have it,” Mary Lee announced, “a fowl is an ave, and poultry means aves caseras, house fowls. I am glad we hunted that up for now I know two more Spanish words, myself.”

“What are you two doing?” asked Nan, coming in upon them.

“Improving our minds,” replied Mary Lee.

“As if there were time for that; you’d better be like the busy bee and improve the shining hour. Mr. Pinckney is prancing about like a lunatic because there is no one to go with him to meet the Roberts. He has just had a telegram. I have simply got to keep an engagement with Charlotte to see about my room or I may miss getting it. Miss Dolores is in the hands of the dressmaker, and so it goes.”

“Oh, I’d love to go with him,” Mary Lee hastened to say. “Are you ready to start right away, Nan? Just stop on your way out and tell him I will be down in two seconds. Come on, Mercedes. We can ride down with him and if there isn’t room coming back we can take a car or a hansom or something.”

So they rushed off and Nan proceeded on[356] her errand. It was the first moment she had had alone since her arrival in New York and it was fortunate, she told herself, that it was so. The past summer was like a dream, now that the rush of the present was upon her. Jo and Charlotte were both in town, the former already hard at the tutoring which she had secured, and the latter on hand for the wedding. She was the niece of Mr. Pinckney’s son-in-law, and therefore was considered a relative. Naturally the wedding was the all-absorbing topic with all the girls, though college came a close second. Nan would be at the Pinckneys’ for a couple of weeks, and take her time about settling in her new quarters. She had decided upon a room to herself and it was about this she was now about to consult Charlotte. As she turned up Morningside drive an automobile whizzed past, but not before she caught a glimpse of Marcus Wells and Miss Romaine. It was all like a flash, and for a moment the old feelings were strong within her. Here they were in the same city. By a simple word she could see him. She had only to send her card and he would call. How strange it was that she might not even do that after their days of comradeship at camp. She had already written from Maine a short note of thanks for his mementoes, but she gave no address, and her[357] note was of the most formally polite character. She had shown it to her mother who had approved of what she wrote. She might run across him here in New York almost any time and for a moment she regretted her choice of a college, but it was only for a moment for she realized that her life would be very full. Already the dreams were bereft of their vividness. With a little wistful smile she pursued her way and was soon lost in the reality of her present plans as she and her friends discussed college and its many interests.






Such a houseful as there was at the Pinckneys’. Mr. and Mrs. Roberts had arrived two days before the affair; Nan, Mercedes and Mary Lee were already on hand, a couple of cousins from out of town were received later, and there were others constantly coming and going. Mary Lee was kept busy with the presents, Nan volunteered to help with the packing, while Mercedes made the acquaintance of Mrs. Roberts, Charlotte and Jo. As for Mr. Pinckney, he was everywhere, ordering, suggesting, rushing to the telephone, sending off telegrams, summoning the butler, carrying off his daughter for a consultation, gathering the whole company around him to get opinions on some sudden decision.

Miss Dolores, rather pale and nervous, had enough to do; though surrounded as she was by her friends, she was spared much detail. Mary Lee followed her about whenever there was a lull in the wedding presents, and Mr. Pinckney made sudden descents upon her with,[362] “Dear bless me, dear bless me, I don’t know what I am going to do!”

“But, father,” said Mrs. Roberts, on one of these occasions, “you are not going to do anything. You are to stay here just as you have always done. You don’t have to take a wedding journey, and Harold isn’t going to shut up Dolores in a dungeon and feed her on bread and water, you know. There is no use acting as if this were a visitation of the enemy when Dolores is to be carried off willy-nilly.”

“I know, my dear, I know,” her father would reply, “but I can’t get exactly used to it.”

“We’ve a lovely plan,” said Mary Lee, coming into the library where these two were. “Miss Dolores wants to have all the wedding party to dinner to-night and use all the wedding silver and such things as she can of that kind, then we are to have a sort of rehearsal after dinner and all get acquainted after that in some jolly sort of way.”

“Charming, charming!” cried Mr. Pinckney springing to his feet. “I must see Jennings about that,” and he trotted off to give orders to the butler about different things suggested to him by this plan.

So bridesmaids, best man and near relatives sat down to the table with the bride and groom that evening to enjoy the new silver and comment[363] upon the handsome centerpieces, the fine napery and the beautiful china. An elaborate piece of embroidery, which Mercedes had done, occupied a place of honor, and was so much admired that the little girl was quite embarrassed by the praise.

The best man, a nice, unaffected young Marylander, was placed next to Mercedes, her office as maid of honor demanding that. Mary Lee sat the other side and next to Mr. Roberts. Nan found her place was next to Mr. Kirk and a boyish young cousin from out of town who was greatly set up at finding himself in the midst of so many pretty girls. He was to be one of the ushers; the other three were to arrive later in the evening. Mr. Kirk’s mother sat on Mr. Pinckney’s right, Mrs. Corner on his left.

“I think it is the most delightful thing to eat from the wedding presents,” said Jack to her neighbor, Mrs. Roberts. “I just love it. Wasn’t it dear of Miss Dolores to think of it? Mrs. Bobs, I haven’t had a chance to talk to you about Carter. Why couldn’t he come?”

“Because he very kindly offered to stay in order to give us the chance of coming. We couldn’t all leave very well.”

“Didn’t he send me any message?”

“Oh, dozens of them, and he sent you something he wants you to wear to the wedding.”

[364]“How lovely! When may I see it, Mrs. Bobs? Right after dinner?”

“Why, yes, I think I can easily get at it. I have not had a chance to before, for there has been so much going on and so much to talk about.”

“I wish I knew what it was. I suppose you wouldn’t mind telling me as it isn’t Christmas.”

“Do you really want to know before you see it?”

“Why”—Jack was doubtful, “yes, you might just tell me what it is without describing it at all, then I’ll be half surprised. It will make the dinner seem so long if I don’t know and I do want to enjoy it.”

Mrs. Roberts laughed. “You are the same funny youngster, Jack, that you were three years ago. Very well, then, it is a bracelet.”

“How deliciously lovely. I hope mother will let me wear it. I have never had one. Isn’t Carter a dear? Mrs. Bobs, when we are married I hope we can live next-door neighbors to you.”

Mrs. Roberts laughed again. “I hope you can, I am sure. So you still hold to your first love, do you?”

“Oh, but he isn’t my first love, exactly. I had ever so many before him, but he is the most grown up so it is the most serious.”

[365]“I see.” Mrs. Roberts’ dinner companion certainly did not fail of entertaining her.

“There are lots of things I want to ask you,” Jack went on. “Have you still Wah Sing? And do tell me about Clarence Opdyke. Carter hasn’t written of him for ages.”

“We still have Wah Sing, and as for Clarence, he is somewhere at school, I believe.”

“Then that is why Cart hasn’t mentioned him, I suppose. I expect Carter seems as if he really belonged to you all by this time.”

“He does indeed. We missed him greatly the year he went abroad and were glad enough to see him back again. I want to hear all about your trip some time when we are quietly by ourselves.”

“Is Carter quite well, now?”

“He is so much better that the doctors give him the hope of an entire recovery, but I feel pretty sure he will not, even then, desert California.”

“I think I am rather glad of that,” said Jack. “Are you going to make a real long visit, Mrs. Bobs?”

“I shall not be in New York more than a couple of weeks, but we have promised your mother to make a short stay in Washington.”

“Oh, good! You can have Nan’s room, for she won’t be there, and we’ll have a jolly time[366] showing you around. Maybe we can all go on together, for Jean and Mary Lee and I are going to stay till Miss Dolores comes back, so we can help comfort Mr. St. Nick.”

“I am very sure he appreciates that, and it will be a great thing to have you all while I am here.”

“We think it is going to be great fun,” returned Jack, and then she gave her attention to the next course which happened to be something she particularly liked.

After dinner the matter of the bracelet was given attention and Jack was made the proud possessor of the ornament, merely a simple little gold band, very plain, and so the more suitable for so young a girl. Jack lost no time in displaying it. “I may keep it and wear it, mayn’t I, mother?” she asked somewhat anxiously.

“Why, I think so, dear. Carter is an old friend and we couldn’t refuse to accept his little gift.”

“And I may wear it to-morrow?”

“Certainly, on such an occasion you are at perfect liberty to wear it, but you must not put it on at all times.”

“I will ask you when I ought to.”

Yet Jack was nothing if not heroic, and seeing on Jean’s face a woebegone look she said[367] after a great struggle, “After all, Jean, I won’t wear it to-morrow because we are to be dressed exactly alike and it might spoil the effect if I had a bracelet and you didn’t.”

Nan who was standing near laughed at the idea of the small gold band having such an effect, but she gave Jack a hug. “You old precious,” she said. “I will lend Jean my bracelet that Aunt Helen gave me on my birthday rather than not have you wear yours.” And so it was arranged to the satisfaction of all three.

Next another pretty piece of jewelry came into the possession of all the bridesmaids when Miss Dolores collected them into her room to give them her gift. Mercedes received a dainty locket and chain, while to the four Corners were given pearl pins, all of the same shape, though each was set with a different jewel, besides the pearls, to correspond with their birth months, so Mary Lee’s were emeralds for May, Jack’s and Jean’s turquoises for December, while Nan’s was set with topazes, for November.

“What a pretty idea,” exclaimed Mary Lee, highly delighted. “I am so delighted to have my birthstone.”

“And there is another clever idea in having the stones set in the four corners,” said Nan.

“To represent you four Corners,” Miss[368] Dolores told her. “You are all jewels, you know. Grandfather was so interested in having them made according to a design that Harold drew, so you see we are all three represented in them.”

“I shall prize mine above anything I have,” declared Mary Lee, “and I shall treasure it all my life.”

“Now let’s go down and show them to everybody,” said Jean, pinning her gift on.

“Oh, you mustn’t wear it till to-morrow,” Jack chided her. “Must we, Nan?”

“Of course not.”

“Well, but we can show them, can’t we?” Jean asked.

“I suppose we can do that. Come, girls, if you have prinked enough we’d better get over that rehearsal.”

So they all rustled off down-stairs, Mary Lee holding Miss Dolores tightly by the hand. She had a sense of approaching loss, and perhaps no one in the company could appreciate Mr. Pinckney’s feelings better than Mary Lee. She wanted her friend to marry Mr. Kirk, of course, but would it ever be quite the same again when her beloved had stepped into a new world? Mary Lee sighed as they entered the big drawing-room and Mr. Kirk came forward to meet them.

[369]“We’ve been discussing the music,” he said.

“Why, of course,” exclaimed Miss Dolores. “We have never given a thought to it. Here, Nan, you are the one to help us decide.”

Nan’s thoughts flew to the little point opposite Three Rocks. The words came back to her, “When you are walking into this you will say to yourself, ‘The last time I heard that was when that renegade artist played it for me.’” No, she would not think of him, and she hoped they would not insist upon the Lohengrin Bridal Chorus.

“Your grandfather and my mother have just put in a petition for the old Mendelssohn wedding march,” said Mr. Kirk. “They say it was played when their weddings took place and they wish we could have it, for one thing, to-morrow.”

Miss Dolores looked at her grandfather with a gentle smile. “Of course we must have it, then,” she said. “We might have it for the entering, and have something else after the ceremony,” she turned to Mrs. Kirk.

“Thank you, my dear,” said Mrs. Kirk. “Every one wants the Lohengrin music nowadays; they say the other is so hackneyed.”

“But I think it is less so than the other has come to be, and I shall like to have what you and grandfather remember so happily. We[370] need not have a march at all except for the entrance, for you know it will not be as if we were at church. There will be no marching out. We shall stay where we are and I think we can trust to Nan to make a good selection. What do you think, Nan?”

Had they read her wishes they could not have suited her better. “I quite agree with you,” she replied. “If you like I’ll see the musicians when they come to-morrow, or better still, I’ll call them up first thing in the morning and we can have something quite lovely and appropriate, I am sure. Leave it to me, Miss Dolores.”

“Indeed, I shall be very glad to, for I know you will not distress us with any of the so-called popular music one sometimes hears at weddings. Now, let us see just how we are to go in and all.”

“I don’t need to be in the procession this time,” said Nan. “Mrs. Bobs can take my place while I play the wedding march for you.” She sat down at the piano saying triumphantly to herself, “So, Mr. Marcus Wells, I have defeated you in this particular. No Lohengrin shall spoil my pleasure to-morrow,” and she started up the chords of the Mendelssohn march as a signal for the little company to enter.

[371]This duty over, there was a slight feeling of uncertainty as to what should be done next. The three ushers had arrived and had been presented. Every one sat down and began to talk rather stiffly, but this did not suit Jack’s ideas of getting acquainted. “Do let’s be jolly,” she cried looking around upon the rather seriously disposed group. “Mrs. Bobs, won’t you laugh, please? Mr. St. Nick, you look as solemn as an owl. Mr. Kirk, won’t you say something funny?”

“Jack!” he exclaimed.


“You wanted me to say something funny, and I don’t know anything funnier than you are.” This brought the laugh Jack had demanded, and she was satisfied even though it was at her expense.

“Let’s have a dance,” proposed Nan. “I’ll play for you all.”

This delighted Jack. “Everybody must dance. We’ll have a reel, Nan, or ‘Pitch in Tucker.’ Let’s have that first. Come on, Mr. St. Nick, you’ve got to dance with me.”

“I? Heaven forbid that I should make a spectacle of myself.”

“But that is silly, you know, to feel that way. I have seen much stouter persons dance. Didn’t you ever do ‘Pitch in Tucker’?”

[372]“Away back in the dark ages, perhaps; in the days of my slender youth.”

“But you haven’t forgotten?”

“Well, I suppose I could manage it with some one to set me right when I make a mistake.”

“Oh, then you will have to do it. I shall be very much offended if you don’t and you certainly ought to dance at your granddaughter’s wedding; it wouldn’t be respectable not to.” Jack put on her most pleading expression and, as usual, won the day.

So in a few minutes the best man was bowing before Mercedes, one of the ushers had claimed Mary Lee, the young cousin had smiled inquiringly at Jean and had met an assenting smile, and so it went till every one was provided with a partner except Tucker, who properly could have none. Mr. Kirk and Miss Dolores led off, and “Pitch in Tucker” gaily rang out from under Nan’s touch. Tucker was left in the person of an old family friend of Mr. Pinckney’s age who showed such alertness as soon allowed him to secure Jack as a partner, leaving Mr. Pinckney looking wildly around.

It was a merry dance and every one felt better after it. Then the older persons begged for a chance to rest, while the younger ones[373] asked for a two-step and then for a waltz. The old friend, Dr. Winters, put Mr. Pinckney to shame by dancing the round dances and doing it well.

“Come on, Nick,” he cried, “it would reduce your weight if you kept up this sort of thing.”

“I should think it would,” groaned Mr. Pinckney, still puffing after his recent exertions in Tucker. “I don’t want to drop in an apoplectic fit on the very eve of the wedding.” But he was induced to try the Virginia reel which Nan informed them was the same as the old dance of Sir Roger de Coverly, and this ended the evening’s dancing. Then Jennings brought in refreshments and they settled down into a quiet talk, but there was less restraint and every one felt that he or she knew every one else much better because of the rollicking dance.

The music was the first thing on Nan’s mind in the morning and after some discussion over the telephone she arranged it to her satisfaction. Some of Grieg’s bridal music, one of Chopin’s études, the prize song from the Meistersinger, and some Spanish dances were stipulated for, the rest being left to the discretion of the musicians who promised no popular airs and no Lohengrin.

[374]As the wedding was to be at high noon the house below was given over to the florists early in the day while up-stairs the five little maids were dressing the bride and themselves. Charlotte and Jo arrived promptly and were permitted to see Miss Dolores before she should go down. She was very lovely in her trailing satin gown, and her veil of Spanish lace, arranged mantilla-wise, the orange-blossoms confining it placed as a Spanish girl might have worn them, for so maid of honor and bridesmaids decided it should be. “It is not so conventional,” said Nan, “and it is so becoming.”

Mary Lee could scarcely take her eyes from this beautiful vision long enough to attend to her own toilet, an unusual state of things for Mary Lee. However, she did give attention enough to herself to appear very dainty and pretty in her soft buff frock by the time she should be ready, and had full five minutes in which to admire herself after she was dressed. “Isn’t it a good thing,” she said to Nan, “that we shall not have to wear our frocks on the same occasion again? You will be in New York and I in Washington. They are so exactly alike, you see, and people might think there were two sets of twins in the family if we dressed in pairs.”

[375]Nan laughed. The thought would never have bothered her. “Well, I will try to wear mine out at college festivities,” she promised, “so as not to disgruntle you, Mary Lee. Are the twinnies ready?”

“Yes, mother and Aunt Helen saw to them. I left Jean clutching your bracelet preparatory to putting it on. Of course Jack has worn hers since she got out of bed this morning.”

“Ready, girls?” inquired Mrs. Roberts coming to the door. “It is time.”

“Oh, is it?” Mary Lee drew a quick breath, then she flew off to Miss Dolores. “Please, please,” she whispered tearfully, “kiss me the last one before you become Mrs. Kirk.”

The girls gathered around her. She kissed one after another, Mary Lee last, then they descended the stairs in order, the twins going first and feeling very important.

It was all over in what seemed an incredible short space of time, and then every one began to chatter, and there was much kissing all around. The musicians struck up the Grieg music and then the wedding breakfast was served which was made as lively an affair as possible by the united efforts of the guests, each seeming to feel it his or her bounden duty to keep up Mr. Pinckney’s spirits. Once or twice he looked at Miss Dolores, wiped his[376] eyes and turned quickly away, then some one would start up a funny story and presently down both sides the table every one would be laughing.

After a while Mrs. Roberts looked at her watch and whispered something to the bride who arose and left them. Some one began a song, but the girls realized that this was a most important moment and they all rushed to the foot of the stairs. At the top Miss Dolores turned and smiled down upon them, then she tossed her bouquet in the air and—Jack caught it!

“Jack Corner, you little wretch!” Jo took her by the shoulders and shook her. “Do you mean to say you are going to be married before any of us?”

“Very likely,” returned Jack calmly, “if Carter wants me to and mother says I may.”

This raised such a laugh as made even Mr. Pinckney forget his granddaughter and when, in a few minutes, she came down ready for her journey, he was as ready as the rest with confetti.

But after bride and groom were whirled away, Mary Lee in tears sought the library where she could get over her little weep alone. She was softly crying in the depths of a big chair when Mr. Pinckney appeared in the doorway[377] wiping his eyes and looking the picture of misery. At sight of Mary Lee he stopped short, gave a little sigh, then a chuckle and went off. He returned in a moment with Jack who, beholding her sister behaving in what she considered a disgraceful manner, marched up to her and said:

“Well, Mary Lee, I’d be ashamed of myself to be seen with a red nose on Miss Dolores’ wedding day and before such a nice-looking young man as Mr. Howard Kirk. He has been asking where you were.”

Mary Lee drew herself out of the depths of the chair, caught the twinkle in Mr. Pinckney’s eyes and rushed up-stairs to bathe her face, powder her nose and presently appear in better trim.

Charlotte, Jo and Nan were marching up and down the hall, arms around one another’s waist, softly singing a college song, Jean was entertaining the boy cousin, the other three ushers had departed at the time of the disappearance of the bride and groom, and the best man looked rather out in the cold. So to him Mary Lee turned her attention. Jack, sitting very close to Mr. Pinckney, was assuring him of her everlasting devotion and telling him in the most approving manner that he had behaved beautifully.

[378]“You are a true comforter.” Mr. St. Nick smiled down at the earnest little face. “It isn’t the first time you have played that part, either. Well, you children gave her to me, and you are the ones who should rally around me now that she is taken away.”

“But she isn’t really taken very far and she will soon be back again with Mr. Kirk as a grandson. Think of that, you will have a real live grandson. Besides, you see, you have had her much longer than you expected in the beginning, for she was to have been married last Christmas, only Mr. Kirk’s mother was so ill. I am rather glad, myself, that they had to put it off, for now we are having the good time and it would have all been past and gone if they had married when they first said. I can’t get over the idea of your having a grandson,” she added after a moment.

“I am thinking about that, myself,” answered Mr. Pinckney a little ruefully, “but I reckon I can stand it.”

October was at hand. In a few days college and school life would begin when, as Nan remarked to her chums, the four Corners would become a triangle in Washington, but she hoped an acute angle might be found in New York. Her thoughts were busy with the new life stretching out before her. Jack and Jean[379] were absorbed in the good time of the present moment. Mary Lee looked across the room at Mr. Pinckney and Mrs. Kirk who smiled back at her. They were all three following in thought the two who had that day faced the future together.


Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.

Archaic or variant spelling has been retained.

The original book's List of Illustrations shows that the first illustration is "facing page 78." It actually appears as the frontispiece. The List of Illustrations for this eBook has been edited to reflect this.