The Little Gold Miners of the Sierras and Other Stories
Author: Various
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Notwithstanding this, the firm had made one dollar; and in the course of the next two months Pete had acquired enough skill to feel himself an expert.

A change had also come over Clarence; his spirit was too aspiring to be bound by rules of constant neatness, and he grew jealous of Pete's increasing ability. So he proposed a partnership on new terms; namely, that the cash on hand should be devoted to the purchase of some new fonts, and that afterwards the earnings should be divided; but that as he would always ink the tablet, and as the workshop of the firm had been transferred to his shed, he should have two thirds of the profits. Pete objected, and insisted that until the business was on a better foundation, all the profits should be turned in for the improvement of their stock in trade.

"No," said Clarence, "I can't print all day and every day and not feel any cents in my pocket. I want peanuts and candy and I want to give the boys a treat, too, now and then. That's what I am going to print for, after we have got these new fonts."

"Well, you can do as you please, I sha'n't try such things. I shall keep my money for type and cards. We needn't quarrel yet till we have more money."

Clarence did not feel easy. Pete had shown more energy, patience and neatness than he thought was right under the circumstances, though what the circumstances were, he confessed to himself he did not know; and he summed up the whole offence, when he was speaking of the affairs of the concern to other boys, by saying, "O, Pete's getting too proud."

After the new type was bought, the following order was received for twenty-five postal card notices:


Q. F. U.

will hold its tenth peripatetic occasion at 42 degrees 25 seconds North Latitude 65 degrees 15 minutes 20 seconds West Longitude on the 10th instant.

This was a very important order, requiring great care, received from an older boy, a member of a secret society. Most obscure it seemed to the firm. Clarence insisted on printing it in plain English and on setting up in type: "A Walking match will take place, etc. etc." Pete thought they had no right to argue about the matter, simply to do what was ordered.

"I should not mind it so much if they would not have such long words; and we shall have to buy special marks for degrees, minutes, and seconds—charge extra on that. But peripatetic—I didn't agree to print such nonsense," said Clarence. "If we are going to do it I am going to be quick about it and set it all up except the marks and see how it looks."

He was in such a hurry that he set the type wrong three times. At last "peripatetic" was right, but no space was left for the right number of leads. Rejecting Pete's help, he lifted a row of type to make room, did not hold it tight enough, the middle sank down, fell out and the line went to pieces.

"I say now," he exclaimed, "I didn't do that—you did it—it did itself. I never made 'a pie' in all my life, and see here, I won't have it said that I made one now."

"I have made them lots of times," calmly said Pete.

"You! O yes! I dare say you have. But I never did, and that's why the other boys want me in their business."

"What business? I would not get so excited just because of this pie."

"You would if your reputation depended on it."

"Why, I won't tell."

"But the other firms will have to know it; our honor is pledged to tell whenever such a thing happens to any one of us."

"Are you in other business? Shel said you were, when he wanted us to take him in, and I said you were not. That's the end of it. If you are any one's else partner, you can't be mine, pie or no pie."

"Very well. Just as you please, you can take Shel. You always put on too much ink and that wastes capital."

"Well, then, you put on too little ink, and blurred work don't bring orders. I am done with you."

"And I with you."

"I shall bring up my cart to-morrow and take my things away."

"What are you going to do about those new fonts?"

"I would rather you would have them all than be partner with a boy who invests in bogus firms."

"Bogus or not, I never mix accounts. You can have the first half and I the second; only as 'x' and 'z' don't count I ought to have two more letters in my half than you in yours."

"I should call that mixing halves, if you don't call it mixing accounts," said Pete, who was so hurt by this unexpected closeness that he instantly went off to get his cart. Meeting Shel on the way, he retailed his wrongs and met with such hearty sympathy that he formed a copartnership with him on the spot. Shel advised him to wait till to-morrow before taking action and give Clarence time to think over the matter and see if it would not be better for his pecuniary interests to remain a silent partner.

"You know," urged he, "that he has got a good deal of type, and though he works too quickly to admit him as active partner, he might do very well as a retired one, and thus keep the peace. Then it is always a good plan to have three partners; one of them, or all together—they somehow act as judge. I must be off now." And the boys separated.

That afternoon it rained, and Pete had to stay at home. Early the next day he drew his cart up the hill to Clarence's house with very forgiving feelings, but found he had left word with the hired man that he had gone off and wasn't going to have any more to do with him. Of course, honor and justice then compelled him to take what belonged to him, especially as the man told him that Clarence had expected him with his cart.

So Pete sadly entered the shed, looked at the forms, thought everything was mixed up, and did what he always did when longing to speak right out, but afraid to do so; he took hold of his lower lip with thumb and forefinger and twirled it back and forth turning it over and under. Clarence's little sister appeared whilst he was thus engaged, and seeing the sadness of his eyes and the perplexity of his mouth and fingers, she ventured to say, "It is too bad, and Clarence said it was, and that he did not mean to upset the type, but that you got him so provoked he could not help it, and that you could come and pick it out if you choose, 'cause it was yours; but he—" and she stopped frightened.

"That's just what I shall do. You tell him it is a mighty mean trick; that I have left him fifteen letters—you remember fifteen, not thirteen," said Pete.

He had a hard time sorting the type; part of it was smashed, part of it very dirty. His cart at last laden, he sorrowfully bore home his press and its appendages, only to spend still more time in cleaning and "getting it to rights." "I must finish that order," thought he, "for orders are business; even if a firm is dissolved, the remaining partner is bound to complete the work." So he manfully invested some capital in the type for degrees, minutes and seconds, closed the contract and received extra pay for his neatness and quickness.

But he grew tired and longed for companionship, so that when Shel appeared, he found Pete quite dejected, willing to listen to terms of partnership, but utterly unwilling to have anything more to do with Clarence.

"Very well," said Shel, "I'll give him up if you'll give up some one else, and then we'll start even."

"Why, I never thought of any one."

"Never mind," was the reply, "make believe you did; just like politics—each of us gives up his best man and takes an unknown third man. We must agree on one who has a self-inker larger than this and lots of type. I want to extend the business."

"Why can't we begin at once as Jones, Downs & Co., and when we find the right kind of boy let him be Co."

"Agreed, we'll get out hand-bills at once."

That evening the large trees on the road down to the village post-office, the doors of the grocery, the dry goods, the apothecary and provision stores—even the depot itself—bore large placards with the following announcement:


Job Printers,

Orders promptly executed.

Many a tired man stopped his horse that night and through the next week to read those staring notices. The schoolboys made fun of the new concern, wondered how long it would last and tried to rouse distrust of each other in the minds of the two partners, who saw that if they could only obtain orders they could boast that they understood the tricks of the trade and knew the use of advertisements; and so it proved.

For, the city music-teacher coming to the village was so amused by these white patches on the trees that she sought their shop and gave them an order to print her bill; and when the young townspeople received, instead of a written bill, one printed in due form by those at whom they had laughed, they became strangely silent. Soon came an order for some tags for a large family with an endless amount of baggage, all to be marked alike, as easier to read. An actual stranger sent an order for work. The village calling increased so fast that it was difficult to meet the demands for visiting cards. At last came an order from a church fair for hand-bills, but of too large a size for their press. They had often reflected upon the "Co." but had delayed action, which now became imperative and necessitated partnership with the boy who would have the biggest press, and this was Dick.

He was interviewed but proved refractory on a point of honor. "For," said he, "no one will know I am 'Co.' and if you are such a great firm, I want the public honor of belonging to you."

What was to be done? the fair could not be delayed until matters were settled; nor could the boys give up their job as being beyond their power.

"I'll tell you my terms," said Dick finally. "I'll put my press and all its fixings into the concern if you'll let me have two thirds of the profits on this job and on all the rest of the work you do this week. I am 'hard up' and I know you have got orders ahead."

These were hard terms, but on the other hand, as Dick could command custom, and was a good, clean printer, they acceded to his conditions and printed the bills in startling type, using one or two kinds in the same word, so as to make through the eye a vivid impression of the meaning of the Fair.

From this time they had so much work to do in bill heads, tickets, envelopes, etc., that they led a calm life of unbroken industry, laying aside one quarter of their earnings each week as a fund for future stock and dividing the other three quarters equally between them.


The little village of H—— is a sort of double-header, having a centre at each end, so to speak. The end nearest the railroad is known as "The Three Corners," on account of a certain arrangement of the roads meeting at that point, while the farther assemblage of houses bears a similar appellation, "The Four Corners," for a similar reason. The two parts of the town are in reality two distinct villages, although existing as one corporate body, and are banded together like the Siamese twins by a road leading directly from the heart of one to that of the other. On each side of this rural street, at neighborly distances, stand pretty white cottages, a story and a half high, nestling behind white fences under shading maples. Midway between the two Centres these dwellings stand further apart and are more evidently farmhouses; and just beyond a peaceful green meadow one's attention is suddenly arrested by a queer house—an architectural oddity, having an insignificant main part, and numerous additions, of different heights, jutting forth in every direction without any seeming plan, but looking as if they might have crept together some cold winter's day for mutual warmth, or as if the middle house was a bantam trying to shield an overgrown brood, a solitary tower having the effect of a chicken on the mother hen's back.

It was in one of the rooms of this odd residence that our young hero, Jem French, was born. His father, like his house, is decidedly odd. Mr. Joseph French was a man of ideas, not a farmer as you might suppose from his living in such a locality, but a Jack-at-all-trades, and in spite of the proverb, good at all. Therein lays the secret of his queer-shaped house. One of the little extensions is a tin shop where he mends the pots and pans of the neighborhood, or creates any new vessels desired. Another projection is devoted to carpenter work, and in a third addition he makes boots and shoes for his own family and cobbles for others. In the room above, with the big glass window, the rustic beaux and belles sit like statuary, while he preserves their pictures in ambrotypes. Each part of the building seems to be devoted to some specialty. But in one part the door is always found to be locked and the window carefully curtained, and even the children are forbidden to enter. In this room Mr. French still spends hours and hours, sometimes days and weeks, inventing, nobody knows what as yet.

Jem early bid fair to become another such man as his father, though evidently that would not be to his pecuniary benefit, for the entire surplus earnings of his parent had thus far been spent in obtaining materials for further experimenting. Still Jem inherited the inventive talent. He was envied and admired by schoolfellows and playmates. Not even the richest among them could boast of owning such unique toys as Jem was constantly making. The little stream that ran through the meadow was spanned by miniature bridges of which he was sole architect. His sailing craft, of all kinds, and fully rigged, swam in the placid water. Dams were placed here and there, and sluice-ways conducted the water to its work of turning sundry over-shot wheels which in their turn operated little pumps or moved the machinery of a mill. He made his sisters various mechanical figures which moved to the swinging of a pendulum. Cardboard images were made to saw wood, fiddle, or dance for hours together, the motive power being obtained from sand running through an inverted cone. As for carving, he had ornamented the walls of the house with a profusion of brackets, wall-pockets, and the like, taking his designs of birds or flowers from nature's own pattern. He was, in fact, a veritable young Yankee with his jack-knife, and few were the things he could not fashion with it, and few the principles of physics studied at school which he did not seek to embody or illustrate; and he had advanced beyond the range of studies in a country school when he was withdrawn by his father to assist in "doing the chores." Then having little society except his own thoughts he gradually became discontented.

One day the mail-wagon stopped at his father's gate. "A letter for Mr. French," said the carrier.

Even such a commonplace occurrence had an interest for the listless Jem and he ran to pick it up. "It didn't come very far, I guess, for here is the village postmark," said he to his mother who came to the door and extended her hand for the epistle.

"It's from aunt Elizabeth," said she, looking at the superscription.

Jem puckered his lips to a whistle, for aunt Elizabeth was not on good terms with her brother and had little intercourse with the family. What news could his aunt have to impart, thus to break her usual silence? The more he thought about it the stronger grew his curiosity. Nevertheless it remained ungratified until his father made his appearance at the supper-table and broke the seal.

If chirography gives any clew to the character of a writer, the person who penned that letter was certainly plain, hard, and angular, while the composition of the epistle indicated the author was in the habit of bluntly freeing her mind. She began by telling her brother he was shiftless, progressed by referring to the great number of mouths he had to fill, and ended by offering to take the care of one of the children off his hands, and requesting Jem should be sent to her house at the Four Corners.

"O father, do let me go," said Jem.

"Write to your aunt, and tell her to expect you next Thursday," said he, at last.

The time that intervened seemed to drag slowly to Jem, but the supreme moment finally came, and he stood at the gate with his best suit on.

"Be a good boy, and try to be useful to your aunt Elizabeth," were his mother's parting words.

"Good-by, good-by," merrily shouted Jem, and waving a farewell salute with his handkerchief he started away with a quick, elastic step that would soon bring him to his destination only two miles away.

Miss Elizabeth French lived at the old homestead. She was a maiden lady and had lived alone ever since the death of her father. Once a year she made a bargain with the man who tilled the farm on shares and occasionally asked him a few questions relative to the crops.

Further than that she had little to do with the outside world. One consequence was that her house and its surroundings showed the urgent need of a caring hand. Stones were missing from the chimney, and shingles from the roof. The frame was out of repair and there were only traces left of former coats of paint. Of the picket fence which had once bounded her possessions in front, not even a post remained. Years before, the slats had begun to decay, until the dilapidation became an eyesore to even Miss Elizabeth herself. But when the cow-boys in search of their charges that always pastured along the sides of the road, rattled their sticks over its surface, it became a nuisance she could no longer stand. So one morning after having been awakened unusually early by her noisy tormentors, she had every vestige removed, and the post-holes filled, leaving the yard as open and unprotected as the street itself.

It may have been the need of some one to help her put her outside world to rights, and her knowledge of Jem's peculiar talents, that inspired the unexpected invitation. However that might be, she stood at the window watching as Jem, red-faced and dusty from his walk, came up the path.

"So ye've come, hev ye?" said she as she let him in and relieved him of his satchel. "Ye look kind o' tuckered out. S'pose the folks must all be well, or ye wouldn't hev come. Yer father ain't doin' nothin' yet, I take it, 'cept shettin' himself up, same as ever, and leavin' his family to shift for themselves? Hungry too, ain't ye? That 'minds me."

But first she took him to a little room he was to occupy, that he might bathe his hands and face. The apartment was neat and cosey, for however slack she may have been with the outside of her mansion, Miss French was a good housekeeper. And by the time he had washed and looked over a little pile of books that lay upon the old-fashioned bureau, his aunt was calling him down to dinner.

"Well, Jem," said Miss Elizabeth, as they sat facing each other at the little table, "it seems good to see somebody a-sittin' here an' eatin' besides myself. Hope ye won't git lonesome."

"No danger of that, auntie, if you only give me something to do," was the cheerful response.

"If that's all ye want, the land knows there's enough to be done," said his aunt with a laugh.

"Well, then, what first?"

"Wal, what bothers me most jest now are them cattle walkin' round the yard. T'want only yisterday Squire Mullins'es cow hed to eat up the top of my pennyroyal geranium and trod down my eardrops and lady-slippers, and now they ain't anything left but bachelor's-buttons that's worth looking at. Ye might set somethin' alongside of the road, jest enough to keep out the critters. Don't s'pose ye could build a fence, could ye?"

"Well, aunty," said Jem, "I never did build one, but I think I could. What shall it be made of?"

"That's a question. I burned up all there was left of the old fence, for kindlin' wood. You might find somethin' out in the old workshop nex' to the barn. Father always use' to be tinkerin' around, an' there's lots of rubbish up under the roof."

"What kind of a fence would you like?"

"Oh, anything. Anything to keep out the critters. Ef ye could think of anything to git the best o' them cow-boys 'twould suit pretty well. Them boys are gettin' to be a reg'lar nuisance. They go 'long drawin' of their sticks on people's fences jist as if there was solid comfort in that eternal rattle, rattle, rattle. What makes boys think they can't never enjoy themselves unless they're a-makin' a noise? But I've had the best of them for two or three years. They had to stop in front of my place. But now the cows is gittin' to be wus than the racket, an' ef ye could think of any way to kill two birds with one stun, jest do it. I'll leave you to plan it your own way. Ye might look 'round this arternoon an' see what there is to do with."

So when dinner was over Jem began to "look 'round." In the old workshop were some sticks of timber that might serve for posts, but there were few boards and not half enough for pickets. Knowing that his aunt would be indisposed to lay out any money he looked very thoroughly through sheds and barn. In the latter place he moved a pile of rubbish in hopes of finding something beneath. The heap consisted mostly of half-inch iron rods of various sizes, and he was about to go elsewhere when he stumbled against a short piece and set it rolling to the middle of the floor. Picking it up he threw it back into the corner, where it clanged with a noise that sent a hen cackling from her nest in a remote part of the mow.

"Perhaps I could use these rods," mused he, "but then the boys could make more noise than ever and that would hardly do."

Just then his face seemed to be illuminated by an inspiration. His eyes twinkled with fun. But his reflections were interrupted by a call to supper. Tea time was occupied in the discussion of family matters and his aunt related bits of private history that kept his attention well occupied until eight o'clock, at which time Miss Elizabeth usually retired for the night. Jem was tired too, and was soon up-stairs and fast asleep.

It seemed hardly anytime at all ere Jem was in the barn again ready to begin work on the fence. He had now a clear idea regarding it and, smiling often, he worked with a will. First, he sorted the pieces of rod into piles according to length. If took some little time to accomplish this part of his task. Then, humming to himself as he worked, he would, both listening and humming as he did it, strike each piece with a stick to determine its suitability. If so, it was placed on some one of eight piles which he had labelled with brown paper as "A," "B," and so on. If not it was thrown back to the corner.

The next thing he did was to set two posts at each end of the proposed line, with fifteen others at regular intervals between. Across the tops he secured his principal rail, with another to correspond a few inches from the ground. Boring holes through these cross rails he inserted one of the iron bars, letting it project six inches at the top and resting the bottom on a stake driven into the ground directly beneath it. The next bar was shorter than the first and a longer stake had to be driven in order that the top should be on a level with the first. As he went on, the rods were inserted without any seeming regularity of spacing. Passers-by stopped to gaze at the singular construction and made various comments concerning it.

"That's a kinder queer pattern for a fence, ain't it?" queried a lad who came along. "Here's a mistake, anyhow," said he, pointing to a space between the fourteenth and fifteenth bars, which was twice as great as any interval before. "Left one out, here. Or be ye going to leave this cat hole for dogs to git through?"

"That's to make boys ask questions," was the only reply vouchsafed.

One old farmer advised him to "put all the bars of one length together. Ye'll find it a good deal easier." Jem thanked him respectfully for the advice but neglected to follow it. His aunt also came to the front door occasionally to watch his progress, but shook her head as if doubtful of either the ornament or utility of his work.

But Jem went on steadily with the undertaking until he reached the end of his line, having just enough bars to finish, as it happened, or perhaps as he had planned. At the bottom he then boarded the fence to cover the stakes and the irregularity of the iron bars, and then he announced the completion of the work to his aunt.

"'Tain't jest sech a fence as I had been thinking of, but I s'pose it'll answer, only it won't be twenty-four hours before them everlastin' boys 'll be drawin' of their sticks on it. But jest let me ketch 'em at it an' I'll—I'll"—In fact his aunt seemed more troubled than pleased with her new fence, but Jem only smiled at her apprehensions.

Our young fence-builder was up before the sun next morning, and down-stairs peeping through the front blinds. At length he hears the sound of tramping hoofs and a cow comes lazily down the road, cropping a mouthful of grass here and there. On a distant fence he hears the old familiar rattling. Will it be kept up when the new fence is reached? Ah! there is the cow-boy. He is stopping to examine the new construction. Now he is satisfied, swings the butt end of his whip against the first rod, and starts along. Jem listens eagerly. A sound fills the air as of some one playing a gigantic harp. The cow-boy stops in amazement at the effect he has produced. Recovering from his astonishment he goes a little further and again comes the sound of—a tune which seems to grow familiar to the dazed performer. Finally he starts off on a run to the very end of the fence, when the tune is finished.

At this point Jem is conscious of the presence of his aunt, craning her neck through the window for a look. "Where's the music a-playin'?" said she.

Jem, laughing, pointed to the boy who had gone back to the starting point and was about to repeat the performance.

"Here, you young rascal!" screamed Miss Elizabeth.

But the lad had started the tune again, and was not to be deterred by threats, and Miss Elizabeth stared surprised and speechless as the note vibrated with great resonance. As the air was finished the second time, the boy acted as if suddenly made crazy. He shouted, he threw his cap in the air and himself on the ground, screaming and laughing as he rolled over and over on the grass. Suddenly he scrambled to his feet and ran towards home leaving the cow to take care of herself.

"Mercy!" said Miss Elizabeth, "ef that don't beat anythin' I ever heard on! A fence that'll play a tune! A 'Yankee Doodle' fence! What ever got into your head to git up such a thing as that? You're your father's own son!"

By this time the cow-boy had returned with half a dozen companions, all as excited as himself.

Miss French was now as eager for the boys to draw their sticks on her fence as she had been unwilling before. The patriotic tune rung out again and again. The neighbors came to the scene and looked on in bewilderment.

"I knew that chap was up to sunthin'," Jem could hear the farmer say who had proffered the advice on the day previous. "He's old Joe French's boy, you know."

"You might a-known then he was smarter 'n lightnin'," said another.

"Guess I'll get him to build me a musical fence," remarked a third, "only I'll hav' 'Home, Sweet Home,' cuz that's Samanthy's favorite tune."

"He might fence in the meetin'-house with 'Old Hundred,'" suggested Deacon Mullen.

But the novelty soon wore away and Miss French began to tire of the ceaseless repetition. Besides the boys were too impatient to have their turns in playing to allow their predecessors to finish ere they commenced. To cap the climax, one boy, having concluded, turned about and ran the other way playing the tune backwards to the great disgust of both the builder and proprietoress. Miss Elizabeth rushed out.

"See here," cried she, "I guess you've played that fence long enough for one morning. Now you'd better go home. Go home, I say!"

But the boys were not to be deprived of such an amusement, and they hammered away furiously wherever they could get a chance. Unable to make any impression upon them Miss Elizabeth turned fiercely upon poor Jem and said in a voice that admitted no compromise, "Take it down, I can't abide it no longer! It's wus than the cows!" and with that she seized one of the bars, while Jem, alarmed for his marvellous fence, gave a great leap and sprang—out of bed, broad awake.


The wind blew as it never had blown before.

I think it blew that boy straight through the gate, up the path, through the door, and into the back parlor where the family sat. He stopped there, gave a little puff of spent breath and sat down. He had a box under his arm. It was flat and wide, a pasteboard box, and when he put it down all the family dropped their books and looked at it attentively. They were a very literary family and read so much that it was a great compliment to any box to have them put down their books when they had once taken them up.

"You haven't opened it yet?" asked the Mother.

"No," said the Boy scornfully; all the family had long ago agreed he had a high caste of countenance which this manner suited remarkably well—but he was not in the least conscious of it himself. "No, what's the hurry? plenty of time to look in it when I get home."

"It's a suit, a suit of clothes," calmly said the Sister, picking up her book again. Every one stared at the Sister who could see through a pasteboard box. "Somebody has made a hole in the bottom of the box and I see a button, a brass button," she explained.

True; there was a hole in the bottom of the box.

"He said, if I put the contents of this box to their proper use," said the Boy, "every day as long as they would bear it, I would not only learn something, but I should be his heir; so I might as well open the lid and see what is inside. I thought books, for Uncle knows I always put books to their proper use."

"Of course," said the Father; "it is books, no doubt."

"But," said the Sister, turning a page and reading all the time, "nobody puts brass buttons on books."

"I think you might as well open the box," said the Mother, "I think we are all curious"—

"Curious!" exclaimed the family indignantly.

"Curious-ly affected by your Uncle's making such a strange and trifling condition after our Boy's visit to him," went on the Mother. "But he is certainly very odd—I should really like to know why?"

"Don't take time to untie the knot," said the Father.

"Here's my knife," said the Elder Brother.

The Boy cut the string, the Sharp-eyed Sister looked over the top of her book, the Father put on his glasses, and the lid was lifted. Yes, it was a suit. A blue cloth suit, quite bright in color but of very fine material and good make. It consisted of a pair of knickerbockers and a tight jacket, and it was most extraordinary how the tailor had ever been able to put on so many buttons. The jacket was double-breasted and there were three rows down the front, a dozen in each, the size of a copper penny. There were some fancy slits in the back; buttons to the number of nine ornamented these. There were four on each sleeve; there were three on each pocket of the breeches, and four again appeared on the outside above the knee on each leg.

For a moment the family was silent.

"The buttons must have cost a great deal," said the Mother, finally, "I should really like to know the price a dozen."

"You couldn't have made a hole anywhere in that box without striking a button," said the Sharp-eyed Sister. She gave one a little knock, adding, "Perhaps they are gold."

"I think," said the Father, taking off his glasses and wiping them, "I think I would have a few removed."

"I have never observed anything like this in my Uncle's own dress," remarked the Elder Brother, "he certainly has peculiar taste in boy's clothing. I think I'll drop in on him and ask him a few leading questions as to his object."

"You will have 'to drop' after a special journey of twenty-five miles by rail," said the Sharp-eyed Sister, "and he won't appreciate your thirst for knowledge."

During this time the Boy had said nothing, but the scornful caste had entirely vanished from his countenance, for he had discovered a note in one of the pockets and had been reading it. The family now saw this, and, although they were not in the least hurry to hear its contents, they ceased their remarks at once to kindly give him a chance to tell them what he read. It was this: The suit was to be worn upon all occasions until it should be outgrown or worn out, no risk of damage was ever to be run with it, no allusion of any sort was ever to be made to it by the Boy or the family, and no alterations of any description to be made in it, unless to sew on a button when it should happen to come off.

"Wear that!" burst out the Boy scornfully, "does he think me an idiot? Why, I'd be the laughing-stock of the town. I should think he saw enough of me to know I have at least as much intelligence as most boys of my age."

"Very much more," said the Mother.

"I never saw such cloth," said the Sharp-eyed Sister, "it will never wear out, and you are not growing very fast either."

"I would not like to wear it myself; I don't even know as I would like to be in its society," observed the Elder Brother; "but neither would I like to lose fifty thousand dollars."

"Well now," said the Mother with her mild smile, "there aren't so very many; there aren't seven dozen, quite. They must be hollow for the suit isn't so heavy."

"They are," said the Sister. "I've been sounding them. Put on the thing and wear it. Don't be so silly as to throw away all that money. You can't wear it more than two years."

"Two years!" said the Boy, turning red.

"People will get accustomed to you by that time," urged the Father.

"It is very extraordinary," said all the family with a wondering air, and then they all fell to reading for a half-hour with their books upside down.

The Boy decided to wear the suit, and follow the conditions and wrote so to his Uncle.

His first appearance in the street in his new attire was greeted by a lady who stopped short and exclaimed, "Good gracious! what singular parents that child must have, and he actually looks proud of his dress too!"

"It's my caste of countenance," thought the Boy; but as he was quite unaccustomed to have it connected with his dress, and disgusted, beside, that he should be thought vulgar, he tried to alter the caste, though he turned very red when people looked at him. For some time it went on this same way; he caught glances and overheard remarks such as he had once applied to other people but which he never dreamed could enter people's minds in regard to him. Even his own family did not spare him. A dozen times he was on the point of casting off the glittering suit and renouncing the money it represented, but just as many times he thought he would try it yet another day. But to do this he learned he must be quiet and prefer the background and silence to the attention he was once so eager to receive.

One day he sat in the sunlight with a book trying to read and wishing very much to run outdoors and play with the rest of the boys, but kept back by an uncomfortable recollection of a great deal of badgering. The Sharp-eyed Sister was reading in the same room too, and every once in a while she would blink, and wink, and frown, and look about; finally she looked straight at him.

"You tiresome object," she cried, "do get out of the sun. I wondered what it was dazzling my eyes like the reflection of seven dozen looking glasses, and there it is your odious buttons."

The Boy got out of the sun without a reply; feeling a little restless he moved now and then.

"Dear me," said the Mother starting from her nap with a jerk, "you do jingle so."

After this the Boy concluded to go out. When his playfellows saw him they all set up a shout but he said to himself, "If I don't think about myself perhaps they won't think of me either," and he met them running with an answering shout. He had never worked so hard at forgetting himself before, and it answered so well that in the ardor of play, by and by, he forgot the buttons too. They began a game of leap-frog, and whether the fault of the back given him or whether his own fault, the Boy missed twice jumping and hurt his temper. He began to dispute about it with the Back, and presently they grew personal.

"Look here," cried the Boy angrily, "it was your fault, I say. If I were in fault don't you suppose I'd own it?"

"No," said the Back, shortly.

The Boy smiled scornfully. "'Cause you don't understand such a thing as owning up when you're in the wrong, eh? You act so. But all fellows aren't made on your pattern, I'd have you know!"

"Nor all clothes on yours, Buttons, I'd have you know," said the Back coolly.

The Boy glared at him and began to stutter, "You let my clothes alone, d'ye hear?"

"Well," said the Back, "you say I don't know how to give a back; I say, if I was buttoned up like you are, I wouldn't know how to take one. I put it to vote—all in favor please say, aye, contrary, no."

"Aye!" shouted the boys.

"Ayes have it," said the Back. "Now, you know, everybody knows you within ten miles by the name of the Button Boy, and I wouldn't seek any more notoriety if I was you—I'd be content to come in second best on leap-frog and say no more about it."

All the boys began to hoot and laugh—none of them sympathized with him in his moments of superiority, and his scornful air failed to impress them as of old.

The Button Boy choked by anger and mortification could not reply. But after a moment, "All right for you; I'll be even with you," he said, with a nod to the chief laugher, and went away.

It was some time before he had his chance, and during that time things went from bad to worse with his conspicuous dress, forcing him to be unostentatious, exact—for his goings and comings could be seen for a mile—even retiring. He found now that he began to think of some acts and some speeches of his, in the time when he was not a Button Boy, with as much mortification as the buttons often gave him; and he often checked himself when half-way into some piece of conceited folly. Yet he never forgot that he owed the Back "one," nor that it was he who had given him the worst smart of this miserable period.

At last an event occurred in the family; the Uncle arrived unexpectedly and stated his intention of spending the night. "That is," he said, "if you will give me something better for my supper than a lot of quotations and rules of grammar. I can't eat them, you know."

The family thought this a very odd speech and a very grumpy old gentleman—but they didn't tell him so. He put on his spectacles and looked at the Button Boy very attentively, but the Boy didn't mind; he was too conscious of fulfilling faithfully for six months his part of the contract, and, beside, he stood before the designer of the Buttons.

But when he took the glasses off and said, "Well, you must be pretty fond of money. I don't think double the sum could hire me to make such a show of myself," the Boy minded it exceedingly. He sat down for half an hour and considered whether he wasn't doing a sort of mean thing after all, and he became exceedingly miserable in the conclusion that he was not at all the noble pattern of a boy he used to think he was.

In the morning the Uncle declared his intention of taking a walk and invited his nephew to go with him. Very sure that the peculiar disposition of the old gentleman was capable of bringing him into plenty of unpleasant situations before they reached home again, the Boy found himself almost indifferent to them. A feeling had been growing on him that anything short of meanness or wrongdoing was not worth being mortified about; he felt calm even at a public exhibition of the buttons, he was so disturbed by the discovery of the unworthy motive which had supported him in making a show of himself.

But the Uncle made himself such delightful company on their walk—they left the town—that at last he forgot himself, forgot himself until they saw before them a boy running. He knew him; it was the Back. He stumbled, pitched, fell, picked himself up slowly, limped painfully to the roadside and sat down there holding on to his ankle. The Boy and the Uncle soon came up.

"Humph; sprained your ankle," said the Uncle.

"I think so," replied the Back, looking very white.

The Uncle took out his handkerchief, tore it in two, and dipping it in the cold waters of the brook, tied it tightly about his limb.

"Thank you, sir," said the Back, almost groaning, "I guess I can't walk just yet, I'll stay here till something comes along to take me in. The trouble is—the trouble is, I ought to be going on, I ought not to lose a moment."

"Humph!" said the Uncle. "You might better have thought of that before you fell."

"What time is it, if you please?" asked the Back anxiously.

"Twenty minutes of eleven," replied the Uncle.

"Oh, dear," sighed the Back, "only hard running would do it now. I left my sketch at home this morning, I took up another by mistake; it is to try for the prize sketch, and the Master said, if I would get it into the studio by eleven he would accept it, but he couldn't later, because the rule is, any coming after that hour can't compete. I've worked so hard at it, and I thought I had a good chance—oh, dear!"

"Let me see," considered the Uncle, turning to the Boy; "you stopped with yours this morning and we saw a number there. Yours was undoubtedly very good. Now open your portfolio and let me see yours," he added to the Back.

The Back hesitated, glanced at the Button Boy, then yielded.

"Humph!" observed the Uncle, and put on his glasses. "Well, I declare, whom have we here? 'The Arrogant Page'; eh? well, I declare; look at this, nephew—here you are with your buttons and your most scornful expression—disdaining to pick up the little Prince's hat! Where did you learn to draw like this, you rascal?"

"I had plenty of chances with the model," said the Back slyly; then he sighed. "If I had got the prize I would have been sent to the Academy; I can't go without. And I'm sure it is very original!"

"Tie up your portfolio, quick!" said the Button Boy. His face was working. His eyes shone! They outshone his buttons seven dozen times.

"What are you going to do, you foolish fellow," cried the Uncle, "run with it? It will take the prize from under your very nose and make a show of you, too."

"Will you trust me?" asked the Button Boy of the Back, not minding his Uncle. "You know I've often said I owed you one, but I don't mean it."

"O Buttons!" cried the Back, "will you? will you really do it?"

"There, Uncle," cried the Button Boy stripping off his jacket, "I can't run in that tight thing. And if you choose to count this, you may. I give up the money, sir."

In vain the Uncle shouted after him, "You young rascal! I'll be done with you; what an exhibition you'll make now;" away he ran, fleet as a deer. Then the Uncle clapped his hands vociferously, burst out with—"I knew there was something in that lad!" chuckled till he was purple in the face, and finally sat down by the Back and blew his nose very hard.

"Look here," said the Uncle to the Button Boy that evening, "I had a purpose in putting you in this livery. You may guess, if you like, what it was and I think it hasn't been a failure. Now, if you will go home with me for the rest of the year we will hold to the contract and suspend the buttons."

"Really," said the Mother, with her mild smile, "already, Brother, I don't recognize my Boy; and I should like to ask you—"

"I am very much afraid," interrupted the Father, busily, "you will let his mind vegetate; he is certainly not as thoroughly intellectual as before he wore those buttons. I should like to ask you—"

"My dear Uncle," broke in the Sharp-eyed Sister, "if you will please invent some kind of head-gear for the brains as good as this for the heart, I—"

"Yes," said the Elder Brother hastily, "I should like to ask you—"

But the Uncle was seized with such a severe sneezing fit that no one could ask him after all.


Among the flock of geese that toddled in and out of Farmer Hardy's barnyard last winter, hissing in protest at the ice which covered the pond so that there was no chance of a swimming match, was one remarkable neither for its beauty, nor its grace. This particular goose was gray, and was looked upon with no especial favor by Mrs. Hardy, who had great pride in all the flock but the gray one.

When it was a little, fluffy, drab-colored gosling, one of the sheep had stepped on it, crushing out its life so nearly that Mrs. Hardy had no idea it would ever recover, but Dan begged for its life. He felt sure he could set the broken leg, and he pleaded so hard that his mother finally allowed him to make the attempt.

And he did succeed. The gosling was naturally a strong little thing, and, thanks to Dan's nursing, was soon able to limp around the shed that had been converted into an hospital. One of its legs was nearly a quarter of an inch shorter than the other; but the little fellow increased in strength as rapidly as he did in size, and seemed to consider Dan as his owner and especial protector.

Like Mary's lamb, it followed Dan about whenever the opportunity offered, until "Crippy"—which was the name Dan had given it—was known in the village quite as well as the boy was.

Many were the long walks, confidential chats, when the boy talked and the goose cackled, that Dan and Crippy had, and when the preparations for the Thanksgiving festival were begun, the gray goose was decidedly the fattest in the flock. Dan had always given Crippy a share of his luncheon, or had supplied for him a separate and private allowance of corn, and by this very care of his pet did he get into serious trouble.

"Dan's goose is the largest and the fattest, and I think we had better kill him for the Thanksgiving dinner," Dan heard his father say three days before Thanksgiving; and Mrs. Hardy replied:

"I had thought of that; gray feathers never bring as much money as white ones, and the goose is terribly in the way; he is always in the house, and always directly under foot."

Dan could hardly believe his own ears. The thought of killing and eating Crippy seemed wicked. Why, he would as soon have thought his parents would serve him up for dinner, as Crippy, and as for eating any of his pet, it would, to his mind, be little short of cannabalism.

"You wouldn't be so wicked as to kill Crippy, would you, mother?" he asked, while the big tears came into his eyes, almost spilling over the lashes.

"Why not?" Mrs. Hardy was so busily engaged in her work of making mince pies that she did not notice the sorrow on Dan's face. "Why not? He's only a goose, and gray. We've got to have one, and Crip is the fattest."

"But mother, I couldn't have poor Crippy killed. He an' I do love each other so much."

"Now don't be foolish about a goose, Danny. Come help me stem these raisins."

Dan said nothing more, for he knew by the way she had spoken that his mother had fully made up her mind and that it would be useless to try to induce her to change her cruel plans. He stemmed the raisins as she had requested; but he worked as quickly as possible, and when the task was done he ran out to the barn.

When the gray goose toddled toward him immediately he opened the barn-door, cackling and hissing with delight at seeing his young master, the tears which Dan had managed to keep back, came at last, and, with the goose in his arms, he seated himself on the barn floor with a feeling in his heart that he and Crippy were the two most unhappy and abused fellows in the world.

"O Crippy! they say they're goin' to kill you, an' I'd a heap sooner they'd kill me! What shall we do, Crippy?"

The goose made no reply; he was perfectly content to nestle down in Dan's arms, and, so far as he could see, he and his master were in remarkably comfortable quarters.

Much as the goose had been petted by Dan, the affection bestowed upon him just then seemed to surprise him, and while the boy was still crying over him, he struggled until he got away, when he limped over to the corn-bin as a gentle reminder that grain would please him far better than tears.

During that day and the next Dan spent his time alternately begging for Crippy's life and petting him; but all to no purpose, so far as inducing his mother to change her mind was concerned. On the following morning the gray goose was to be killed, and Dan could see no way to save him.

That afternoon he spent the greater portion of his time with the doomed Crippy, crying and talking until all the fowls must have wondered what the matter was, for, there being no almanac in the barn, of course they could have no idea Thanksgiving was so near. Suddenly Dan thought of a plan by which Crippy might be saved. It was a desperate one, and almost frightened him as he thought it over; but with his pet's life in the balance he could not hesitate at anything.

"I'll tell you what we'll do, Crippy," he said as he succeeded in making the goose remain quietly in his arms by feeding him with corn. "Uncle Robert lives in New York, an' he's awful good. I know if we could find him he could save you. Now I'll get up in the night, an' come out here for you. It's only seven miles, an' I'm most sure we could walk there in a day. Then if he won't come out here to see mother, Thanksgiving will be gone, an' they can't have you for dinner."

Crippy swallowed the corn greedily, and Dan looked upon this as a sign that he not only understood what had been said, but was eating an unusually hearty meal by way of preparation for the journey.

Under any less desperate circumstances Dan could not have been persuaded to go away from home for an hour without asking his mother's permission, and even as he was situated then, he felt that he was about to do something which was almost wicked. But since he could save Crippy's life in no other way, what could he do? He almost felt as if by taking the goose away he was preventing his parents from committing a crime, for it could hardly be less than one to kill so intelligent and loving a creature.

But though he tried to persuade himself that what he was doing was, under the circumstances, a favor to his parents, there was a big lump in his throat as he did his work that night, and realized that in a few hours neither his father nor his mother would know where he was. He was more than usually careful about the kindling-wood and the water, and when his mother spoke to him so kindly, he had the greatest difficulty in keeping his secret.

It was only the thought that he was by no means "running away," that prevented him from telling his mother what he intended to do. He argued with himself that he was only going to uncle Robert's on business, and that he should return the day after he arrived there; that would be entirely different from running away.

During the evening Dan worked hard at a message which he was to leave for his parents, feeling obliged to take every precaution lest they should see what he was about, and, after the most painful efforts he succeeded in printing this note:



Dan had six cents which he had earned carrying milk, and his preparations for the journey consisted simply in putting these in his pocket, together with some corn for Crippy, and in placing the little clock and some matches by the side of his bed, so that he might be able to tell when the proper time had come for him to start.

Perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Hardy were surprised by Dan's unusually affectionate manner when he bade them good-night; but if they were, nothing was said about it, and the inmates of the Hardy farmhouse retired on the night before the proposed execution of poor Crippy at the usual early hour of nine o'clock.

Dan's idea was to lie awake until three in the morning, then steal cautiously out of the house, get Crippy, and start. But it was much harder work to remain awake than he had fancied, and before he had been in bed an hour he was sleeping soundly.

But even though his eyes persisted in closing despite his will, Dan did not sleep very long at a time. He was awake at least every half-hour, and his small stock of matches was exhausted as early as two o'clock. With no means of procuring a light, it would be impossible for him to know when the time had come, and, since he did not dare to go to sleep again, he concluded it would be better to set out at once than run the risk of delaying until his father should awaken.

During the time he was making very awkward attempts to dress himself in the darkness, his fingers trembling violently both from fear and the cold, he fancied each moment that he could hear his parents moving around, as if they had suspected his purpose, and were on the alert to prevent him from carrying it into execution. It seemed too, as if each particular board in the floor creaked in protest at what he was doing, and to give the alarm.

The note which was to inform his parents of where he had gone, was placed conspicuously on the chair by the bed, where his mother could not fail to see it when she came to awaken him, and when that was done his journey seemed more like some demand of business, and less like disobedience to what he knew his parents' commands would be.

He did finally succeed in dressing himself, although his jacket was buttoned in a very curious fashion; and then, with his shoes and mittens in his hands, he started down stairs. If the boards of the floor had tried to arouse his parents, the stairs appeared bent on awakening the entire household—although he did his best to put as little weight as possible upon them, they creaked and screamed in a most alarming fashion.

It seemed strange to him that his parents could sleep while so much noise was being made; but when he finally succeeded in closing the outside door behind him, there had been no sign made to show that his departure was known.

Dan was so nervous and excited that he hardly felt the frost when he stepped with stockinged feet upon the snow; but instinct prompted him to put on his boots and mittens, and it only remained to get Crippy and start.

He almost expected that the goose would be waiting for him at the stable door when he opened it; but, since he knew he should find his pet in the warm box he had made for him, he was not greatly disappointed at not seeing him ready for the journey. Besides, he had come an hour before he told Crippy he would be there, which was sufficient reason why the goose was not ready and anxious to start.

After groping his way around the barn to the corner in which was Crippy's sleeping apartment, Dan was considerably surprised because the goose was so very careless, both in regard to his safety, and the possibility of arousing the household. He cackled and hissed when Dan took him from the box, as if he preferred to be killed and served up for the Thanksgiving dinner rather than go out of doors so early on a cold morning.

Dan whispered that he knew it was hard to be obliged to start so early, but that they must do so, and the more he explained matters the harder the goose struggled, until it seemed much as if the attempt to save Crippy's life would be a dismal failure.

"I'm doin' this so's you won't have to be killed, Crippy," whispered Dan as he held the goose tightly clasped in his arms, "an' it does seem's if you might help a feller instead of tryin' to wake up father an' mother."

Perhaps Crippy was weary with struggling—Dan thought he began to realize his position—for he ceased all protests after his master's last appeal, and, with his head tucked under Dan's coat, submitted quietly to the rescue.

If he had not repeated to himself so many times that he was not running away from home, but simply going to uncle Robert's to save poor Crippy's life, Dan would have felt that he was doing something wrong because of the warning cries uttered by everything around. The stable door, when he tried to close it softly, shut with a spiteful clatter, and even the snow gave forth a sharp, crunching sound such as he had never heard before. But he must keep on, for to remain would be to see the plump, brown body of poor Crippy on the Thanksgiving dinner table, while to go on would be, at the worst, but a few hours' discomfort, with Crip's life as the reward.

Once they were out of doors Crippy behaved much as if he had suddenly realized how important it was for him to get away from the Hardy farm, and Dan had no trouble with him while he was passing the house.

There seemed to be an unnatural stillness everywhere, amid which the crunching of the dry snow sounded with a distinctness that almost frightened the boy who was simply going to his uncle Robert's to spend a day or two. But finally Dan was on the main road, where the snow was frozen so hard that his footsteps could not be heard as distinctly, and where the two tracks worn smooth by the runners of the sleighs, lay spread out before him, looking like two satin ribbons on white broadcloth.

Dan trudged slowly on, his heart growing lighter as the moments went by and he knew he had actually gotten away without arousing any one; but after he had walked some distance he began to realize how heavy Crippy was. He had thought he could carry his pet almost any length of time; but at the very commencement of his journey his arms began to ache.

"It's no use, Crippy, you'll have to walk some of the way," he said as he put the goose on the snow, and then started off to show him he must follow. Now a moonlight promenade on the snow, in the morning, with the thermometer several degrees below zero, was not at all to Crip's liking, and he scolded most furiously in his goose dialect, but he took good care to run after his master at the same time.

As Mrs. Hardy had said, Crippy was very fat, and when he toddled on at full speed he could only get along about half as fast as his master, so that Dan's journey was made up with alternately trudging over the frozen road, and waiting for his pet to overtake him.

And soon it was necessary to make a change even in this slow way of travelling, for before Crippy had been half an hour on the road he began to evince the most decided aversion to walking, and it became necessary for Dan to take him in his arms again. On he walked, carrying Crippy the greater portion of the time, and coaxing him along when it became absolutely necessary for him to give his aching arms a little relief, until the sun came up over the hills, and he could see the great city but a short distance ahead of him.

During all this time he had not stopped once to rest; but now, since he was so near his destination, at such an early hour in the morning, he sat down in the snow and began to arrange with the discontented Crippy as to how they might best find uncle Robert, for Dan had not the slightest idea of where his relative lived.

"I'll tell you what we'll do, Crip," he said as he gave the goose a handful of corn, contenting himself with half a biscuit he had taken from the supper-table the night previous. "We'll walk right along till we see uncle Robert, or some of the folks. It's the day before Thanksgiving, you know, an' some of 'em will be sure to be out buyin' things."

Crippy had finished eating the corn as his master ceased speaking, and he looked up sideways into Dan's face much as if he doubted the success of their plan if carried out in that manner.

"Well, if we don't find him that way, we'll ask some of the boys, an' they'll be sure to know," said Dan, replying as earnestly to Crippy's look as if his pet had spoken.

Then the weary journey was resumed, much to Crippy's displeasure, even though he was carried comfortably in Dan's arms, and it was not until the outskirts of the city were reached that the goose was requested to walk. There the pavements were free from snow, and Crippy could move along much faster than on the icy road; but yet his progress was far from satisfactory.

The great number of people, all of whom regarded the boy and the goose curiously, bewildered both the travellers. More than once, when Dan was sure Crippy was close at his heels, on looking around he would see the goose standing on one foot near the curbstone, looking sideways at the street much as if trying to decide whether he would continue to follow his master, or toddle back home as fast as his legs of unequal length would carry him.

"O come on, Crippy," Dan said in a tone that showed plainly how tired and discouraged he was. "We sha'n't ever find uncle Robert this way, an' if a strange dog comes along where will you be?"

It seemed very much as if Crippy had not realized that he might chance to meet a dog, until Dan spoke of it, for then he ran hurriedly on as if he fully understood the danger that might come to him by loitering on the way.

But there were other enemies besides dogs, which Crippy was to meet with, as he and Dan learned when they reached the more densely populated portions of the city, and those enemies were boys.

Dan was walking slowly on, looking first at the houses in the hope of seeing some of his uncle's family, and then at Crippy, to make sure he was following, when half a dozen boys, who had been watching the singular pair from the opposite side of the street, made a sudden dash at the goose.

The first intimation Dan had that his pet was in danger, was when he heard the shouts of the boys, followed by Crippy's angry hiss, and the flapping of his wings. Quickly turning, Dan saw the goose closely pressed by the boys, all of whom were trying to catch him, and some of whom already had one or more feathers as trophies.

It did not take Dan many moments to catch his pet up in his arms, and then he stood ready to do battle for the goose, while the city boys advanced towards him threateningly.

There could have been but one result to such a battle, where six boys attacked one who was hampered in his movements by the goose, and some serious injury might have been done to both Dan and Crippy, had not a policeman come from around the corner just at that instant. Dan's assailants fled at the sight of the officer, and the country boy with his heavy, noisy burden continued on his journey.

There was no further interruption for nearly an hour; for when Dan carried the goose in his arms he was by no means the object of curiosity he was with Crippy following him. At the expiration of that time it dawned upon him that in a place as large as New York it was useless for him to walk around in the hope of meeting his uncle, or any of his family.

"I declare, I don't know what to do, Crippy," he said as he seated himself on a doorstep with the goose by his side, and looked mournfully up and down the street. "I shouldn't wonder if we hadn't been more'n half-way round the city in all this time, an' yet we hain't seen any of uncle Robert's folks. What shall we do?"

Crippy made no reply to the question; but a boy about Dan's size, who was looking wonderingly at the goose as he stood on his shortest leg in a mournful way spoke:

"Wot is it yer don't know wot ter do?"

"I don't know how to find my uncle Robert. Crippy an' me come down to see him, an' now we can't find his house."

"Do you call him Crippy?" asked the boy as he nodded toward the goose.

"Yas, he's Crippy Hardy. Mother was goin' to kill him for dinner to-morrer, so we come down here to get uncle Robert to go up an' see about it."

"How far have you come?"

"Seven miles."

"Did you walk?"

"Every step."

"Well," said the boy as he looked at Crippy in a critical way, "it seems to me that's a mighty mean kind of a goose ter walk so far fur. He hain't handsome no ways, an' I think he'd look a good deal better on ther table roasted, than he does out here on ther street."

Up to that moment Dan had been disposed to trust this boy who was so friendly; but when he spoke so slightingly of Crippy, he was disappointed in him.

"You don't know Crippy, or you wouldn't say that," replied Dan gravely. "I would walk seventeen times as far if it would keep him from gettin' killed."

"Well, I tell yer wot it is," and the boy spoke like one thoroughly conversant with geese and their ways, "he's got ter be a good deal better'n he looks ter 'mount to anything."

"An' he is," replied Dan; and then he gave the stranger a full account of Crippy's sagacity and wisdom, with such success that when he had finished the goose evidently stood high in the city boy's estimation.

"He's prob'ly a mighty nice kind of a goose," said the boy; "but it seems to me if I had a pet I'd want one that could sleep with me, an' you know you couldn't take this goose to bed."

"I could if mother would let me, an' I don't see why she won't, for I know Crippy would just snuggle right down as good as anybody could."

For some time the two discussed the question of pets in general, and Crippy in particular, then the city boy remembered his mother sent him on an errand which should have been done an hour before.

Dan felt more lonely than ever after this new-made friend had gone, and, with Crippy in his arms, he started wearily out in search of uncle Robert, hardly knowing where he was going. In his bewilderment he had walked entirely around the same block four times, and an observant policeman asked him where he was going.

Under the circumstances Dan did not require much urging to induce him to tell the man his story.

"Do you know your uncle's name?" asked the officer.

"Uncle Robert Hardy."

"What is his business—I mean, what kind of work does he do?"

"He keeps store."

The officer led Dan to the nearest drug store, and there, after consulting the directory, told him there were several Robert Hardys mentioned, at the same time giving him a list of the names.

Dan took the paper with the written directions upon it, feeling more completely at a loss to know how to proceed than he had before, and it was in a dazed way that he listened to the instructions as to how he should find the nearest Hardy.

But he started bravely off, still carrying Crippy, who seemed to have doubled in weight, and when he had walked half an hour in the direction pointed out by the policeman, he appeared to be no nearer his destination than when he started.

"What can we do, Crippy?" he cried, as again he took refuge on a doorstep, weary, hungry and foot-sore. He had seen no opportunity to buy a breakfast with his six cents; it was then long past his usual time for dinner, and his hunger did not tend to make him more cheerful.

The goose was as unable to answer this question as he had been the ones Dan had previously asked, and the only reply he made was a loud cackling, which, in his language, signified that he thought it quite time that he had some dinner.

By this time, and Dan had not been on the doorstep more than five minutes, a crowd of boys gathered around, all disposed to make sport of the goose, and to annoy the boy.

"Say, country, why don't you sell your goose?"

"Where did the bird find you?"

"Does yer mother know you're so far away from home?"

These and other equally annoying questions Dan listened to until he could no longer control himself, and he cried to his tormentors:

"See here, boys, if you had somethin' you thought a good deal of, an' it was goin' to be killed an' roasted for dinner, what would you do?"

The boys were too much surprised by the question to reply, and Dan continued earnestly:

"This goose is Crippy, an' I've had him ever since he was a baby, an' got his leg broke. We come in here to find uncle Robert so's he could tell mother not to kill poor Crip, an' now we can't find him, an'—an'—well, we're jest two as lonesome fellers as you ever saw, an' if you knew jest how we did feel you wouldn't stand there pokin' fun at us."

For a moment none of Dan's tormentors spoke, and then the tallest one said sympathetically, as he seated himself by the country boy's side to show that he took both the boy and the goose under his protecting arm:

"They sha'n't plague you any more, an' ef I'd 'a' known how you was feelin' I wouldn't 'a' said a word. Now tell us all about it."

Dan was in that frame of mind where he needed sympathy, and he told the whole story, while the entire party stood around, interrupting him now and then by exclamations of surprise that his parents should have been so cruel as to even think of killing that faithful Crippy.

This consolation, even though it did Dan no material good, was very sweet to him, and he would have continued to sing the praise of his pet, had not one of the boys proposed that an effort be made to find uncle Robert's house. Then each one had a different plan to propose, none of them thinking that at that hour—four o'clock in the afternoon—it might be an act of charity first to give Dan and Crippy something to eat.

It surely seemed as if this discussion as to how the search should be begun would continue until it would be too late to do anything, and while each one was stoutly maintaining that his plan was the best, an old-fashioned sleigh drawn by a clumsy-looking horse, stopped directly opposite where the boys were holding their conference.

"Why, father!" cried Dan as he saw the occupant of the sleigh, and at the same time he hugged Crippy close to him as if he believed his father had come for the goose.

"Well, Dan, you did find your uncle Robert after all, didn't you?" asked Mr. Hardy as he alighted, covered old Dobbin carefully with the robe, and then went to where Dan was sitting, already deserted by his new-made friends, who feared Mr. Hardy was about to inflict some signal punishment.

"No sir, I didn't find him," faltered Dan, wondering what his father would do to him and Crippy.

"Why, haven't you been in yet?"

"In where?" asked Dan in surprise.

"In here, of course; this is where your uncle Robert lives," and Mr. Hardy pointed to the house on the steps of which Dan had been sitting.

To his great surprise Dan learned that he had followed the policeman's directions exactly; but, not knowing it, had neglected to look on the house-doors for his uncle's name.

In a few moments more he and his father were in the house, while Crippy was in the kitchen actually gorging himself with food.

When Mr. Hardy found the note Dan had left, he was not at all worried about his son's safety; but when, later in the day, he had leisure, he started to the city for the travellers, and, driving directly to his brother's house, found them as has been seen.

It is easy to understand that after all this labor on Dan's part to save his pet, Mr. Hardy readily promised that Crippy should be allowed to die of old age, instead of being killed and roasted, and Dan, with Crippy hugged very close to him, started for home with his father, sure that no boy in all the wide world would spend a merrier Thanksgiving than he.

Crippy was also happy on that day, if food could make him so, and it is safe to say that, if he survives the wonderfully big dinner Dan proposes to give him this year, he will live to a green old age.




For three years Hal had been trying to decide what should be his business in life; and now at the age of fifteen, and in his last school year, he was as far as ever from any fixed plan. A profession, he argued, required too much study; a trade meant ten hours a day of hard labor; he was too old for an office-boy; and he had no capital to put into business. Well, if he could only even find out now for what he was fitted, it would save time in the end.

"How do people ever sit still and think!" he exclaimed aloud. "I'll go over and consult Ned."

Ned was two years his senior. He had started in life with the idea of being a doctor, and had kept to it. Consequently he had little sympathy with Hal's vagaries, and often chided him for his lack of definite purpose. But as Hal's well-known war-whoop sounded under the window, he came out on his steps.

"What's up?" he asked. "You look as black as a thunder cloud."

"Father says I've got to make up my mind what to do, and that if I don't he'll do it for me," answered Hal laconically, "and that might not suit, you know."

"I told you it would come to that if you did not look sharp," answered Ned. "Take my advice now. A boy like you better begin with a trade and work up to be boss mechanic; then when you are rich, buy a library and turn scholar. There's a swell carpenter's school just started down at the Institute, box and tools included in the tuition, so you'll have some property at the end of the term, if you haven't ideas."

"I had thought of being a physicist, or chemist," replied Hal; "but carpentering is really more in my line; might try it at least. Suppose I talk it over at home."

"You better," said Ned, "than keep me out here bareheaded; good-by!"

"Much obliged and good-by," called out Hal, as he turned homewards.

It did not take long to obtain his parents' consent, as they hoped they saw in this definite wish an earnest of practical ability which would help them and him to decide the question of what he had better do. He had owned one or two carpenter's chests and had broken several tools, so that he knew something about their use which would count in the beginning.

Hal's pride suffered, however, when at the Institute he had to learn how to strike square blows, and to practise the wrist, elbow and shoulder movement, in striking with light tools. Then, too, he had to submit to be taught how to drive nails just so many inches apart, exactly as if he had never hammered before. He was as indignant, also, at being told to neither split nor cut towards himself, as if he had never hurt his jacket.

At last he was permitted to begin to make a picture frame. Its four sides had to be glued and dovetailed together, and the fitting required careful measurements. As Hal was too anxious to go ahead to attend to details, it is not surprising that the sides would not meet. The more he planed and chiselled, the worse it grew, till in despair he took it home for kindling wood.

Next he started on a bevelled-edge frame, and still despising exact measurements, he made the inner curve too deep, thus injuring the effect of his design.

Weary of mathematical carpentering, he turned to the ordinary, rough work of making a miniature house frame. His previous mistakes had helped him so much that here he soon went ahead of the other boys; but when he reached the staircase he began to fail. The steps were not alike in depth, nor were they placed at the right angles; he used up four blocks of wood, succeeding on the fifth, though the stairs were still rather steep.

His frame completed, he discovered that his acquaintances at the Institute had advanced to the turning-lathe. Too vexed and proud to go on and take up what they were leaving, he went into the moulding room. All went well at first; the frame was evenly placed, put together and inserted in the sand-box; but when he came back two days later and lifted the upper half, the sand all fell out and spoilt his mould; for he had paid very little attention to getting it into the completely proper condition for receiving an impression.

This final failure at the Institute convinced him that nature had not fitted him for a carpenter, which knowledge he bore calmly; for, as he said, it was a saving of time to find out what he could not be. In his need, he turned again to Ned, whom he had ignored during this two months at the Institute. Ned looked as if he had expected him, but could only learn that "carpentering had gone up," and that Hal would now like to try his first idea and enter the chemical business, provided that Ned would become a partner and put in some stock.

Ned demurred at first, but finally concluded it might be helping himself, as a doctor, especially as the stock he had on hand and the use of his laundry, could be considered an offset for Hal's capital.

"My laundry would do just as well," said Hal; "you ought to put in money."

"Oh, you had better take my laundry," replied Ned. "My mother does not object to smells, for she thinks chemistry is going to revolutionize perfumery. I've got some scales and a spirit-lamp, and we can get bottles and tumblers enough."

"Yes, but you know we must have a round-bottomed receiver, a measuring glass, crucibles, retorts and test-tubes."

"As you seem to know all about it," replied Ned carelessly, "you buy them and come here to-morrow." Hal assented and they separated to meet the next afternoon, when they began with a manual of chemistry as their guide. They first distilled water; and then they analyzed it by boiling it.

But all this was too safe, they wished to venture upon something dangerous; so they put three drops of nitric acid on a copper cent and wrote out the result thus:

(1). 1 copper cent. 3 drops Nitric acid.

Result: A greenish liquid—nitrate of copper.

This formula was so pleasing that they continued to note down their work somewhat as follows:

(2). 1 Shell. 6 drops nitric acid.

Result: Shell dissolved.

(3). Solution muriate of lime. " Carbonate of potassium.

Result: Solid.

From these simple but important discoveries they proceeded to move difficult analyses and syntheses. They made ammonia water; they combined weights; they experimented in acids, bases and salts; they produced explosions; they almost set the house on fire with their experiments in hydrogen; they tested iodine and chlorine.

The greatest hindrance to their advancement was the amount of care required. They had burnt holes in their clothes; the laundry had became an inconvenient refuge for the cats and dogs of the house; the younger children could no longer play there, but broken glass should injure them; and the maids dreaded entering a place where unlooked-for events were always happening.

A crisis was at last developed by the gift of a friend who sent them some lumps of "Sulphuret Potass" which the boys heated, when a strange and still stranger odor arose. Absorbed in their experiments, they heard neither approaching footsteps nor voices; the door was even opened, but quickly shut. At last Ned's mother courageously rushed up to them holding her handkerchief tight over her face, and insisted with unmistakable gestures upon their leaving the laundry. The odor had penetrated every nook and corner of the house, a committee meeting had vanished, and windows were all thrown open.

"This is an end to your chemistry," she declared in injured tones; "you have discovered nothing except how to make yourselves sick, have injured your coats and trousers, and I won't have any more of it, do you understand?"

"Yes," said both boys meekly. Perhaps they were rather glad than otherwise of any expression of authority which could plausibly end what they were secretly longing to give up. As partners they had been faithful to each other's interests; but did it pay to give up base-ball, week after week, just to carry out an idea! Hal's money was gone, and both boys had done a large amount of "trading" of books and curiosities for some other boys' half-used chemical stock. Ned was sure he knew enough to aid him in his profession; and Hal valued failure as an exponent in indicating, negatively, his future career.

"Glad of it;" Ned ventured to assert at last when the family had dispersed and windows were closed. "We must clean up, and we might as well sell out the whole concern, take account of stock, and divide the profits."

"Don't flatter yourself," replied Hal, "that there'll be much profit. If there is I ought to have two thirds of it as I put in the most capital."

"Yes, as far as cash goes, but brains count too, and I think you will admit that the ideas have been furnished by me chiefly; besides my trousers were burned more than yours. But I don't care—divide things as you like. I am agreed."



When all was definitely settled between Ned and himself, and the assets of the firm disposed of, Hal felt, for some days, as if he had been to a funeral. He wandered around the house disconsolately, and then, suddenly, a new influence crossed his path which promised tangible and immediate rewards in other fields of labor. Money prizes were offered to graduates of the High Schools for the best two essays which should be written, one on the Colonial Policy towards Quakers; the other on the Value of Republican Government. The money was not considerable, but the work looked toward political journalism, perhaps on to a career like Motley's or Bancroft's. Hal had always been an attentive lounger around newspaper offices on election nights, and in the Representatives Hall of the State House when any interesting bill was being debated. This he considered as proof of his love of history; history was the one study, too, in which he invariably gained the highest marks at school. These "indications" greatly encouraged him now. He felt impelled to write the essays, even if they should be failures, because he was really interested in the subjects and had often talked with his father about them both.

The closing day of school soon came. The boys marched, sang, received their diplomas and then threw up their hats, when free and in the street. Very early the next morning Hal visited three libraries and took down the titles of innumerable books and sketched two plans for he intended, as I have before said, to write two essays, each in different style thus to increase his chance of success. He selected "Nisus Sum" and "America," as signatures. He furnished himself with a quart bottle of ink, a box of pens, two dozens of lead pencils and two reams of paper, and greatly enjoyed these preliminaries.

Thus equipped, he began with no depressing circumstances, except his mother's words, that if by the first of September he had not decided what he should like to do, she should decide for him. He went out of town, as usual, in the hot weeks; he fished, and climbed hills, and got lost, as usual; but through it all, he thought and read of the Colonial Policy, and wondered whether he should have fallen in love with a Quaker girl, and whether the troubles between England and Ireland arose from a need of Republican government. In spite of his ramblings, and in spite of some discouraged moods, some unexamined idea always urged him on, and the result was that in two months he had prepared rough sketches of his work, and his parents were, this time, convinced of his earnestness.

Coming home the very evening of the first day of September, the day and the hour he had dreaded as the last of his liberty, because as he had not made up his mind, it was to be made up for him, he saw two men lifting his father out of a carriage. He stopped and looked at them. He had no power to speak or help. He saw them carry his father up-stairs and lay him on the bed. Then, at a word from his mother, he went for a doctor. He never could recall the manner of his errand, but the physician came; at last some one said to him:

"It is a slight shock of paralysis. If another does not follow, he will soon get well." This was like saying to him, "If your father does not die, he'll live."

How long was he to wait for that knowledge! An hour would be a year and a year would be a century. He helped in all things as he was told to do; but his fingers were like thumbs and his feet like clubs. He felt a singular and confusing sense of identity with his father, as though the paralysis had included him.

By and by, the room grew quiet. He and his mother were left alone; he would have given anything if he had dared to speak or touch her. Nothing was near him. Had he ever been a boy? Was there a prize essay? Were there only three people in the world—his father, his mother and himself?

Later came his uncle. His mother then called him by name for the first time in those terrible hours, and bade him bid his father good-night. As he went mechanically to do so, his father seemed to keep Hal's hand in his own numb fingers, and to look most imploringly, the mother's hand on to Harry's. The mother, as the hands met, said, "Hal will take care of me, dear," and Hal exclaimed, "I will." Then they knew they were right in their interpretation as the sick face brightened and the eyelids slowly closed in weariness.

Hal went up-stairs to his own room. The thinking he did that night made a man of him. He was sure his father would live, but also that his salary would cease, and that he himself must help to support the family. "And so help me God, I'll do it," said he, "but I'll win the prizes too." The growing strength of his purpose soon overcame him and he fell asleep to dream of Olympic games and wreaths of victory.

When the physician's visit was over the next day, the world did not look quite so dark. Uncle Joe was to live with them awhile, and the father was conscious and quiet.

"Good-by, mother," said Hal.

"Good-by," she answered.

The front door closed, and Hal went down town to the office of Newton & Bryce, old friends of his father's. He walked up to the senior partner, and said, very like a mechanical toy unwinding:

"My father has had a stroke of paralysis. He can't do anything for months. I heard you say once that if you could get an office-boy who could keep accounts you would make it worth while for him to stay with you. I can."

"Stop, stop," said Mr. Bryce. "I had just heard of your father's illness and am very sorry. But you talk so fast I don't understand you. What is it you want? Who sent you?"

"No one. I suppose I did rattle on, but I had been saying over to myself on the way down what I meant to say to you, like points in an essay."

"Points in an essay! The boy is a daft one."

"I'm all right, sir, or will be, if you take me. How much wages can you pay?"

The senior partner smiled. "Three dollars a week at first, and more by and by—is that what you want?"

"I need my evenings, sir," said Hal. "I forgot to mention that."

"You can have them—but why?" As Hal made no reply, Mr. Bryce added kindly: "Never mind. The boy I have goes to-night. I was to tell him to-day whether I would take his brother, or make an arrangement with the janitor. I have no opinion of office-boys I'll confess to you, young sir. But for your father's sake, I am going to try you. Be here to-morrow at eight o'clock, put the office in order, get the mail, and have my table ready for me at half-past eight."

"Much obliged, thank you. For my father's sake, I'll furnish you with an opinion of office-boys presently," said Hal. He started and got as far as the door, when he turned back. "I really do thank you," said he.

"That's a new sort of boy, anyway—one consolation," said Mr. Bryce. "But it will cost something to teach him. Bother the change!"

"Mother," said Hal on reaching home, "I've been and gone and done it. I am an office-boy at three dollars a week now; more in prospect."

"You blessed child!" she exclaimed; and then she and Hal had a good old-fashioned cry together which saved much talking, explanation, and advice.

Hal's work was promptly done the next morning. Mr. Bryce's table was ready at half-past eight, in ideal order. Yet though he went to the bank, wrote, and added figures, he still had much idle time on his hands. Therefore, the following day, when there was really nothing more for him to do, he felt at liberty to seat himself at a table and begin to write. Mr. Bryce, noticing him thus occupied, walked leisurely by and beheld out of the corner of his eye two rolls of manuscript; but if the boy could be silent, so could his master.

Still the master's curiosity was excited. This "new kind of office-boy" piqued his interest. "I'll call him off, and see how he'll take it," reasoned Mr. Bryce; and he whistled. Hal came at once, alert, attentive, and did the errands assigned. Mr. Bryce could not detect any sign of a preoccupied mind.

Thus passed the week. Hal bore home his first earnings, Saturday night, and laid the bills on his father's bed with a deeper and more pleasurable feeling of having done something worth doing than he had ever felt or dreamt of before. Yet if any one had spoken a word of appreciation to him, he could not have borne it.

That first week was the type of weeks to come. His office-work was not heavy, though he was more and more trusted. At times he had to bite his lips, as his brain came to a sudden stop in its work when the whistle sounded for him in the midst of his own personal copying or reading. But as the evenings grew longer and his father better, he had more time at home to work on his essays. He had however, decided to give up trying for two prizes, and he also had become very doubtful about the certainty of receiving even one; as his ideal of an essay grew and perfected itself, and as he realized how much hard work was required in both reading and reflection and even in any truly logical arrangement of his ideas. He had made several rough drafts of his essay. He had wholly rewritten it twice. But the hard work of form, development and finish remained. Still when he considered his previous failures as carpenter and as chemist, he was determined to be patient with himself and try his utmost with this plan. In this painstaking mood the essay was completed. He sent it in on the last hour of the last day assigned.



Now that Hal had sent in his essay he felt weary, for the excitement of composition and of haste had ceased; and he tormented himself, too, by recalling sentence after sentence which he wished he could remodel. Also memory brought back his past failures; he had not succeeded as chemist or carpenter and all the boys knew it. What would they say when his name would be posted on the bulletin, down town, as a Rejected Essayist? Presently too, it was announced that the bestowal of the Old South Prizes must be deferred as an unexpectedly large number of essays had been presented! Hal whistled, shrugged his shoulders, refused to endure the suspense, cast aside his interest in the matter, and resolved to settle down into an office-boy.

He cleaned the office more vigorously than ever, and as he began a catalogue of his employer's library, there arose the faint glimpse of a new hope, in the thought that his present pursuit might eventuate in his being a lawyer. But with it there came a hot flush of shame as he remembered his many visions of the future; and to get rid of them he would run to the bank on an errand with such fury that his haste suggested a panic. But in spite of all his changes of intention he was growing manly; making character, developing mental fibre and muscle; his mother trusted him with her hopes and fears, and his father talked to him with a respect that was very consoling to his wounded spirit. Also the boys ceased to come for him in the evening; if they met him on the street, they called him "a dig" and asked him what new hobby made him so serious.

Some months had thus passed, when one day, Hal, who had almost forgotten his history in his law, thought Mr. Bryce's whistle for him had a peculiar sound. "Get your hat," said the lawyer, "and follow me. I want you to go to the Court House."

Hal's active imagination instantly saw himself seated there as Judge. Yes, law was his vocation. But when there, he was almost pushed into a corner, while Mr. Bryce pointed him out to the clerk of the court. This rather frightened Hal, but he felt reassured at the command to stay where he was until the clerk should bid him go for Mr. Bryce, for the latter could not afford to spend the morning in court waiting for his case to come up.

It was a new world to Hal and his astonishment and interest was increased as he recognized an old playmate in the one who was being examined. An officer had removed the boy's jacket and was calling the attention of the Judge to long, deep welts on the boy's back, the result of lashes inflicted by his father, because his son earned but little. The contents of a dirty paper-bag were also exhibited, as being the only dinner allowed the boy, who, with his mouldy crust, walked three miles each day to the shop where he worked. That very morning he had been so dull, that some one, suspecting the truth, had told "the boss" of his condition, and through an officer of the "Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children," his case had been brought into court.

Poor Hal! perhaps he was born to be a philanthropist after all. He resolved to interest himself in the S. P. C. C. Visions of "cases" hunted out and brought before the officers, thrilled his soul. How he ached for this particular boy! and how he contrived to make that boy feel he was there and to tuck some lozenges into his hand, as his former companion passed by him under the kind guardianship of the Secretary of the Society; and then the clerk ordered him to find Mr. Bryce.

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