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Hildegarde's Holiday - a story for girls
by Laura E. Richards
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"Why, Mrs. Brett," cried Hildegarde, laughing merrily, "it is the chairs you should be anxious for, not ourselves. We are simply covered with dust, from head to foot. I think it must be an inch deep on my hat!" she continued, taking off her round "sailor" and looking at it with pretended alarm. "I don't dare to put it down in this clean room."

"Oh, that's all right!" cried the widow, beaming. "Land sakes! I don't care how much dust you bring in, but I should be lawth to have you get any on you here. Well, there! now you need a proper good rest, I'm sure, both of you. Wouldn't you like a cup o' tea now?"



Both girls declined the tea, and declared that an hour's rest was all they needed; so the good woman bade them "rest good!" and hurried downstairs, to fling herself into a Berserker fit of cooking. "Not a thing in the house!" she soliloquized, as she sifted flour and beat eggs with the energy of desperation, "except cookies and doughnuts; and Marthy always has everything so nice, let alone what they're used to at home. I'll make up a sheet of sponge-cake, I guess, first, and while it's baking I can whip up some chocolate frosting and mix a pan of biscuit. Le' me see! I might make a jelly-roll, while I'm about it, for there's some of Marthy's own currant jelly that she sent me last fall. They'd ought to have some hearty victuals for supper, I suppose; but I declare,"—she paused, with the egg-beater in her hand,—"stuffed aigs'll have to do to-night, I guess!" she concluded with a sigh. "There isn't time to get a chicken ready. Well, there! If I'd ha' known! but they'll have to take me as I am. I might give 'em some fritters, though, to eat with maple surrup, just for a relish."

While these formidable preparations were going on against their peace of body, the two girls were enjoying an hour of perfect rest, each after her own manner. Rose was curled up on the bed, in a delicious doze which was fast deepening into sound sleep. Hildegarde sat in a low chair with a book in her hand, and looked out of the window. She could always rest better with a book, even if she did not read it; and the very touch of this little worn morocco volume—it was the "Golden Treasury"—was a pleasure to her. She looked out dreamily over the pleasant green fields and strips of woodland; for the house stood at the very end of the little village, and the country was before and around it. Under the window lay the back yard, with a white lilac-tree in blossom, and a well with a long sweep. Such a pleasant place it looked! A low stone-wall shut it in, the stones all covered with moss and gay red and yellow lichens. Beside the white lilac, there was a great elm and a yellow birch. In the latter was an oriole's nest; and presently Hildegarde heard the bird's clear golden note, and saw his bright wings flash by. "I like this place!" she said, settling herself comfortably in the flag-bottomed chair. She dropped her eyes to the book in her lap and read,—

"Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures While the landscape round it measures: Russet lawns, and fallows gray, Where the nibbling flocks do stray; Mountains, on whose barren breast The laboring clouds do often rest; Meadows trim with daisies pied, Shallow brooks, and rivers wide."

Then her eyes strayed over the landscape again. "There must be a brook over there, behind that line of willows!" she thought. "I wonder if Milton loved willows. There are pines and monumental oaks in 'Il Penseroso,' but I don't remember any willows. It's a pity we have no skylarks here! I do want Rose to hear a skylark. Dear Rose! dear Milton! Oh—I am so comfortable!"

And Hildegarde was asleep.



CHAPTER XVII.

OLD MR. COLT.

Supper was over. The girls had laughingly resisted their hostess's appeal, "Just one more fritter, with another on each side to keep it warm,—though I don't know as they are fit to eat!" and on her positive refusal to let them help wash the dishes, had retired to the back doorstep, from which they could watch the sunset. Here they were joined by Bubble, who had found a lodging for himself, Dr. Abernethy, and the pony, in the family of Abner Colt, the mail-carrier. He took his place on the doorstep with the air of one who has fairly earned his repose.

"Well, Bubble," said Hildegarde, "tell us how you have fared."

"Oh, very well!" answered the boy,—"very well, Miss Hilda! They're a funny set over there at Mr. Colt's, but they seem very kind, and they have given me a nice little room in the stable-loft, so 't I can see to the Doctor any minute."

"How is the dear beast?" asked Rose. "I thought he went a little lame, after he got that stone in his foot."

"I have bathed the foot," said Bubble, "and it'll be all right to-morrow. Old Mr. Colt wanted to give me three different kinds of liniment to rub on it, but hot water is all it needs. He's a queer old fellow, old Mr. Colt!" he added meditatively. "Seems to live on medicine chiefly."

"What do you mean?" asked the girls.

"Why," said Bubble, "he came in to supper—I hadn't seen him before—with a big bottle under his arm, and a box of pills in his hand. He came shuffling in in his stocking-feet, and when he saw me he gave a kind of groan. 'Who's that?' says he. 'It's a boy come over from Bywood,' says Mrs. Abner, as they call her. 'He's goin' to stop here over night, Father. Ain't you glad to see him?—Father likes young folks real well!' she says to me. The old gentleman gave a groan, and sat down, nursing his big bottle as if it were a baby. 'D'ye ever have the dyspepsy?' he asked, looking at me. 'No, sir!' said I. 'Never had anything that I know of, 'cept the measles.' He groaned again, and poured something out of the bottle into a tumbler. 'You look kinder 'pindlin',' says he, shaking his head. 'I think likely you've got it on ye 'thout knowin' it. It's sub-tile, dyspepsy is,—dreadful sub-tile.'"

"What did he mean?—subtle?" asked Hilda, laughing.

"I suppose so!" replied the boy. "And then he took his medicine, groaning all the time and making the worst faces you ever saw. 'I reckon you'd better take a swallow o' this, my son!' he said. 'It's a pre-ventitative, as well 's a cure.'"

"Bubble," cried his sister, "you are making this up. Confess, you monkey!"

"I'm not!" said Bubble, laughing. "It's true, every word of it. I couldn't make up old Mr. Colt! 'It's a pre-ventitative!' he says, and reaches out his hand for my tumbler. Then Abner, the young man, spoke up, and told him he guessed I'd be better without it, and that 't wasn't meant for young people, and so on. 'What is it, Mr. Colt?' I asked, seeing that he looked real—I mean very much—disappointed. He brightened up at once. 'It's Vino's Vegetable Vivifier!' he said. 'It's the greatest thing out for dyspepsy. How many bottles have I took, Leory?' 'I believe this is the tenth, Father!' said Mrs. Abner. 'And I don't see as 't 's done you a mite o' good!' she said to herself, but so 't I could hear. 'Thar!' says the old man, nodding at me, as proud as could be, 'd' ye hear that? Ten bottles I've took, at a dollar a bottle. Ah! it's great stuff. Ugh!' and he groaned and took a great piece of mince-pie on his plate. 'Oh, Father!' says the young woman, 'do you think you ought to eat mince-pie, after as sick as you was yesterday?' He was just as mad as hops! 'Ef I'm to be grutched vittles,' he says, 'I guess it's time for me to be quittin'. I've eat mince-pie seventy year, man an' boy, and I guess I ain't goin' to leave off now. I kin go over to Joel's, if so be folks begrutches me my vittles here.' 'Oh, come, Father!' says Abner; 'you know Leory didn't mean nothing like that. Ef you've got to have the pie, why, you've got to have it, that's all.' The old man groaned, and pegged away at the pie like a good one. 'Ah!' he said, 'I sha'n't be here long, anyway. Nobody needn't be afraid o' my eatin' up their substance. Hand me them doughnuts, Abner. Nothin' seems to have any taste to it, somehow.'"

"Did he eat nothing but pie and doughnuts?" asked Hilda. "I should be afraid he would die to-night."

"Oh," said Bubble, "you wouldn't believe me if I told you all the things he ate. Pickles and hot biscuit and cheese—and groaning all the time, and saying nobody knowed what dyspepsy was till they'd had it. Then, when he'd finished, he opened the pill-box, which had been close beside his plate all the time, and took three great fat black pills. 'Have any trouble with yer liver?' says he, turning to me again; 'there is nothin' like these pills for yer liver. You take two of these, and you'll feel 'em all over ye in an hour's time,—all over ye!' I thought 't was about time for me to go, so I said I must attend to the horse's foot, and went out to the stable. It was then that he brought me the three kinds of liniment, and wanted me to rub them all on, 'so 's if one didn't take holt, another would.'"

"What a dreadful old ghoul!" cried Hildegarde, indignantly. "I don't think it's safe for you to stay there, Bubble. I know he will poison you in some way."

"You're talking about Cephas Colt, I know," said the voice of Mrs. Brett; and the good woman appeared with her knitting, and joined the group on the doorstep. "He is a caution, Cephas is,—a caution! He's been dosing himself for the last thirty years, and it's a living miracle that he is alive to-day Abner and Leory have a sight o' trouble with him; but they're real good and patient, more so 'n I should be. Did he show you his collection of bottles?" she added, turning to Bubble.

"No," replied the boy. "He did speak of showing me something; but I was in a hurry to get over here, so I told him I couldn't wait."

"You'll see 'em to-morrow, then!" said the widow. "It's his delight to show 'em to strangers. Four thousand and odd bottles he has,—all physic bottles, that have held all the stuff he and his folks have taken for thirty years."

"Four—thousand—bottles!" cried her hearers, in dismay.

"And odd!" replied the widow, with emphasis. "He's adding new ones all the time, and hopes to make it up to five thousand before he dies. Large ones and small, of course, and lotions and all. He takes every new thing that comes along, reg'lar. He has his wife's bottles all arranged in a shape, kind o' monument-like. They do say he wanted to set them up on her grave, but I guess that's only talk."

"How long ago did she die?" asked Rose.

"Three year ago, it is now!" said Mrs. Brett. "Dosed herself to death, we all thought. She was just like him! Folks used to say they had pills and catnip-tea for dinner the day they was married. You know how folks will talk! It's a fact though"—here she lowered her voice—"and I'd ought not to gossip about my neighbors, nor I don't among themselves much, but strangers seem different somehow,—anyhow, it is a fact that he wanted to put a scandalous inscription on her monument in the cemetery, and Abner wouldn't let him; the only time Abner ever stood out against his father, as I know of."

"What was the inscription?" asked Hildegarde, trying hard to look as grave as the subject required.

"Well,—you mustn't say I told you!" said the Widow Brett, lowering her voice still more, and looking about with an air of mystery,—"'t was

'Phosphoria helped her for a spell; But Death spoke up, and all is well.'

'Sh! you mustn't laugh!" she added, as the three young people broke into peals of laughter. "There! I'd ought not to have told. He didn't mean nothing improper, only to express resignation to the will o' Providence. Well, there! the tongue's an onruly member. And so you young ladies thought you'd like to see Bixby, did ye?" she added, for the third or fourth time. "Well, I'm sure! Bixby'd oughter be proud. 'T is a sightly place, I've always thought. You must go over t' the cemetery to-morrow, and see what there is to see."

"Yes, we did want to see Bixby," answered straightforward Hildegarde; "but we came still more to see you, Mrs. Brett. Indeed, we have a very important message for you."

And beginning at the beginning, Hildegarde unfolded the great scheme. Mrs. Brett listened, wide-eyed, following the recital with appreciative motions of lips and hands. When it was over, she seemed for once at a loss for words.

"I—well, there!" she said; and she crumpled up her apron, and then smoothed it out again. "I—why, I don't know what to say. Well! I'm completely, as you may say, struck of a heap. I don't know what Marthy's thinking of, I'm sure. It isn't me you want, surely. You want a woman with faculty!"

"Of course we do!" cried both girls, laughing. "That is why we have come to you."

"Sho!" said Mrs. Brett, crumpling her apron again, and trying not to look pleased. "Why, young ladies, I couldn't do it, no way in the world. There's my chickens, you see, and my cow, let alone the house; not but what Joel (that's my nephew) would be glad enough to take keer of 'em. And goin' so fur away, as you may say—though 't would be pleasant to be nigh Marthy—we was always friends, Marthy and me, since we was girls—and preserves to make, and fall cleanin' comin' on, and help so skurce as 'tis—why, I don't know what Marthy's thinkin' of, really I don't. Children, too! why, I do love children, and I shouldn't never think I had things comfortable enough for 'em; not but that's a lovely place, pretty as ever I see. I helped Marthy clean it one spring, and such a fancy as I took to that kitchen,—why, there! and the little room over it; I remember of saying to Marthy, says I, a woman might live happy in those two rooms, let alone the back yard, with all that nice fine gravel for the chickens, I says. But there! I couldn't do it, Miss Grahame, no way in the world. Why, I ain't got more'n half-a-dozen aprons to my back; so now you see!"

This last seemed such a very funny reason to give, that the three young people could not help laughing heartily.

"Martha has dozens and dozens of aprons, Mrs. Brett," said Hildegarde. "She has a whole bureau full of them, because she is afraid her eyes may give out some day, and then she will not be able to make any more. And now, just think a moment!" She laid her hand on the good woman's arm, and continued in her most persuasive tones: "Think of living in that pleasant house, with the pretty room for your own, and the sunny kitchen, and the laundry, all under your own management."

"Set tubs!" said Mrs. Brett, in a pathetic parenthesis. "If there's one thing I've allers hankered after, more 'n another, it's a set tub!"

"And the dear little children playing about in the garden, and coming to you with flowers, and looking to you as almost a second mother—"

"Little Joel,"—cried the widow, putting her apron to her eyes, and beginning to rock gently to and fro—"I've allus felt that blessed child would ha' lived, if he'd ha' been left with me. There! Joel's been a good nephew, there couldn't no one have a better; but his wife and me, we never conjingled. She took the child away, and it peaked and pined from that day. Well, there! the ways are mysterious!"

"And you would take the chickens and the cow with you, of course," this artful girl went on; "for the children must have milk and eggs, and I never tasted more delicious milk than this of yours."

"I've no cause to be ashamed of the cow!" said the widow, still rocking. "There isn't a cow equal to her round Marthy's way. I've heerd Marthy say so. Sixteen quarts she gives, and I do 'clare it's most half cream. Jersey! there isn't many Jerseys round Marthy's way."

"And then the comfort you would be to Martha and to dear Miss Bond!" Rose put in. "Martha has a good deal of rheumatism in winter, you know, and she says you are such a good nurse. She told me how you rubbed her in her rheumatic fever. She thinks you saved her life, and I am sure you did."

"If I rubbed Marthy Ellen Banks one foot, I rubbed her a hundred miles!" said Mrs. Brett, with a faint gleam in her moist eyes. "'From her tombstun back to a well woman is a good way,' Dr. Jones says to me, 'and that way you've rubbed Marthy Ellen, Mis' Brett!' says he. Good man Dr. Jones is,—none better! There isn't no one round Bixby can doctor my sciatica as he did when I was stayin' to Mis' Bond's last year. Mis' Bond, too,—well, there! she was a mother to me. Seemed like 't was more home there than Bixby was, since little Joel died. Mysterious the ways is! Mr. Rawlins well?" she added, after a moment's pause.

"Mr.—Oh, Jeremiah!" cried Hildegarde, after a moment of bewilderment. "Jeremiah is very well, all except a cough; and, dear me! Mrs. Brett, I haven't given you his message. 'Tell Mrs. Brett,' he said, almost the last thing before we came away this morning,—'tell Mrs. Brett she'll have to come, to make me a treacle-posset for my cough. Not even Martha can make treacle-posset like hers!' Those were Jeremiah's very words, Mrs. Brett."

A faint color stole into the widow's thin cheeks. She sat up straight, and began to smooth out her apron. "Miss Grahame," she said emphatically, "I verily believe you could persuade a cat out of a bird's-nest. If it seems I'm really needed over to Bywood—I don't hardly know how I can go—but—well, there! you've come so fur, and I do like to 'commodate; so—well, I don't really see how I can—but—I will!"



CHAPTER XVIII.

JOYOUS GARD.

It was the tenth day of September, and as pleasant a day as one could wish to see. The sun shone brightly everywhere; but Hildegarde thought that the laughing god sent his brightest golden rays down on the spot where she was standing. The House in the Wood no longer justified its name; for the trees had been cut away from around it,—only a few stately pines and ancient hemlocks remaining to mount guard over the cottage, and to make pleasant shady places on the wide, sunny lawns that stretched before and behind it. The brook no longer murmured unseen, but laughed now in the sunlight, and reflected every manner of pretty thing,—fleecy cloudlet, fluttering bird or butterfly, nodding fern or soldierly "cat-tail."

The house itself looked alert and wide-awake, with all its windows thrown open, and its door standing hospitably ajar, as if awaiting welcome guests. From an upper window came a sound of singing, for Rose was there, arranging flowers in the vases; from another direction was heard the ring of a hammer, as Bubble gave the last strokes to a wonderful cart which he had been making, and which was to be his contribution to the Country Home.

Hildegarde stood on the piazza, alone; her hands were full of flowers, and the "laughing light" of them was reflected in her bright, lovely face. She looked about her on the sunny greenery, on the blue shining stream, up to the bluer sky above. "This is the happiest day of my life!" said the girl, softly. She wondered what she had done, that all this joy and brightness should be hers. Every one was so good to her; every one had helped so kindly in the undertaking, from the beginning down to this happy end. There had been a good deal to be done, of course; but it seemed as if every hand had been outstretched to aid this work of her heart.

Cousin Wealthy, of course, had made it possible, and had been absorbed in it, heart and soul, as had all the others of the household. But there had also been so many pleasant tokens from outside. When Mrs. Brett arrived a week before, to take charge of the house, she brought a box of contributions from her neighbors in Bixby, to whom she had told the story of the Country Home,—scrap-books, comforters, rag-babies, preserves, pop-corn, pincushions, catsup, kettle-holders. Bixby had done what it could, and the girls and Miss Wealthy and Martha were delighted with everything; but there was much laughter when the widow pulled out a huge bottle of Vino's Vegetable Vivifier, and presented it, with a twinkle in her eye, as the gift of Mr. Cephas Colt. Nor had the scattered villagers of Bywood been less generous. One good farmer had brought a load of wood; another, some sacks of Early Rose potatoes; a third presented a jar of June butter; a fourth, some home-made maple-syrup. The wives and daughters had equalled those of Bixby in their gifts of useful trifles; and Rose, who was fond of details, calculated that there were two tidies for every chair in the house.

The boys of the neighborhood, who had at first shown a tendency to sit round on stumps and jeer at the proceedings, had now, at Hildegarde's suggestion, formed themselves into a Kindling-Wood Club, under Bubble's leadership; and they split wood every afternoon for an hour, with such good results that Jeremiah reckoned they wouldn't need no coal round this place; they could burn kindlin's as reckless as if they was somebody's else hired gal!

Then, the day before, a great cart had rumbled up to the door, bringing a packing-case, of a shape which made Hildegarde cry out, and clap her hands, and say, "Papa! I know it is Papa!"—which for the moment greatly disconcerted the teamster, who had no idea of carrying people's papas round in boxes. But when the case was opened, there was the prettiest upright piano that ever was seen; and sure enough, a note inside the cover said that this was "for Hildegarde's Hobby, from Hildegarde's Poppy." But more than that! the space between the piano and the box was completely filled with picture-books,—layers and layers of them; Walter Crane, and Caldecott, and Gordon Browne, and all the most delightful picture-books in the world. And in each book was written "The Rainy-Day Library;" which when Hildegarde saw, she began to cry, and said that her mother was the most blessed creature in the world.

But after all, the thing that had touched the girl's heart most deeply was the arrival, this very morning, of old Galusha Pennypacker, shuffling along with his stick, and bent almost double under the weight of a great sack which he carried on his back. Mrs. Brett had been looking out of the window, and announced that a crazy man was coming: "Looks like it, anyway. Hadn't I better call Zee-rubble, Miss Grahame?"

But Hildegarde looked out, recognized the old man, and flew to meet him. "Good-morning, Mr. Pennypacker!" she cried cordially. "Do let me help you with that heavy bag! There! now sit down here in the shade, for I am sure you are very tired."

She brought a chair quickly; and the old man sank into it, for he was indeed exhausted by the long walk under his heavy burden. He gasped painfully for breath; and it was not till Hildegarde had brought him water, and fanned him diligently for some minutes, that he was able to speak.

"Thank ye!" he said at last, drawing out something that might once have been a handkerchief, and wiping his wrinkled face. "It's a warm day—for walkin'."

"Yes, indeed it is!" Hildegarde assented. "And it is a long walk from your house, Mr. Pennypacker. I fear it has been too much for you. Could you not have got one of the neighbors to give you a lift?"

"No! no!" replied the old man quickly, with a cunning gleam in his sharp little eyes. "I'd ruther walk,—I'd ruther! Walkin' don't cost nothin'! They'd charged me, like's not, a quarter for fetchin' on me here. They think the old man's got money, but he hain't; no, he hain't got one red cent,—not for them he hain't." He paused, and began fumbling at the string of the sack. "Hearin' you was settin' up a horspittle here," he said, "I cal'lated to bring two or three apples. Children likes apples, don't they?" He looked up suddenly, with the same fierce gleam which had frightened Hildegarde and Rose so when they first saw him; but Hildegarde had no longer any fear of the singular old man.

"Yes, they do!" she said warmly. "I don't know of anything they like so well, Mr. Pennypacker. How very kind of you! And you came all this way on foot, to bring them?"

"The' warn't no shorter way!" replied old Galusha, dryly. "Thar'! I reckon them's good apples."

They were superb Red Astrakhans; every one, so far as Hildegarde could see, perfect in shape and beauty. Moreover, they had all been polished till they shone mirror-like. Hildegarde wondered what they had been rubbed with, but dismissed the thought, as one unwise to dwell upon.

"They's wuth money, them apples!" said the old man, after she had thanked him again and again for the timely gift. "Money!" he repeated, lingering on the word, as if it were pleasant to the taste. "Huh! there ain't nobody else on the yearth I'd ha' give so much as a core of one of 'em to, 'cept you, young woman."

"I'm sure you are extremely kind, Mr. Pennypacker!" was all Hildegarde could say.

"Ye've took thought for me!" said the old man. "The' ain't nobody took thought for old G'lushe Pennypacker, round here, not for a good while. Ye was to my place yesterday, warn't ye?" He looked up again, with a sudden glare.

"Yes," Hildegarde admitted, "I was; and my friend too. She knit the stockings for you, sir. I hope you liked them."

"Yes, yes!" said the old man, absently. "Good stockin's, good stockin's! Nice gal she is too. But—'t was you left the book, warn't it, hey?"

"Yes," said Hildegarde, blushing. "I am so fond of 'Robinson Crusoe' myself, I thought you might like it too."

"Hain't seen that book for fifty year!" said the old man. "Sot up all last night readin' it. It'll be comp'ny to me all winter. And you—you took thought on me!—a young, fly-away, handsome gal, and old G'lushe Pennypacker! Wal, 't won't be forgot here, nor yet yender!"

He gave an upward jerk of his head, and then passed his rag of a handkerchief over his face again, and said he must be going. But he did not go till he had had a glass of milk, and half-a-dozen of Mrs. Brett's doughnuts, to strengthen him for his homeward walk.

All this came back to Hildegarde, as she stood on the piazza; and as she recalled the softened, friendly look in the old man's eyes as he bade her good-by, she said again to herself, "This is the happiest day of my life!" The next day would not be so happy, for Rose and Bubble were going,—one to her home at Hartley's Glen, the other to his school in New York; and in a fortnight she must herself be turning her face homeward.

How short the summer had been!—had there ever been such a flying season?—and yet she had done very little; she had only been happy, and enjoyed herself. Miss Wealthy, perhaps, could have told another story,—of kind deeds and words; of hours spent in reading aloud, in winding wools, in arranging flowers, in the thousand little helpfulnesses by which a girl can make herself beloved and necessary in a household. To the gentle, dreamy, delicate Rose, Hildegarde had really been the summer. Without this strong arm always round her, this strong sunny nature, helping, cheering, amusing, how could she have come out of the life-long habits of invalidism, and learned to face the world standing on both feet? She could not have done it, Rose felt; and with this feeling, she probably would not have done it.

But, as I said, Hildegarde knew nothing of this. She had been happy, that was all. And though she was going to her own beloved home, and to the parents who were the greater part of the world to her, still she would be sorry to leave this happiness even for a completer one.

But hark! was that the sound of wheels? Yes; they were coming.

"Cousin Wealthy!" cried the girl, running to the door. "Rose! Bubble! Martha! Mrs. Brett! Benny! Come out, all of you! The stage is here!"

Out they came, all running, all out of breath, save Miss Wealthy, who knew the exact number of steps that would bring her to the exact middle of the piazza, and took these steps with her usual gentle precision of movement. She had no sooner taken up the position which she felt to be the proper one for her, than round the corner came the Bywood stage,—a long, lumbering, ramshackle vehicle, in which sat Mrs. Murray, a kind-looking nurse, and the twelve convalescent children who were to have the first delights of the Country Home.

At sight of them Bubble began to wave his hat violently. "Hooray!" he shouted. "Three cheers for the young uns!"

"Hooray!" echoed Benny, flapping his hands about, as he had no hat to wave.

The children set up a feeble shout in reply, and waved heads, arms, and legs indiscriminately. Then ensued a scene of joyous confusion. The little ones were lifted out, kissed, and welcomed; their bundles followed; and for a few minutes the quiet place was filled with a very Babel of voices.

High above them all rose the clarion tones of Benny, explaining to a former fellow-patient his present position in life. "I don't lives here!" he said; "I lives a little way off. I's ve boy of ve house where I lives, and I takes care of a whole lot of womenfolks, and Jim Maria helps me, and vere's anover boy who does fings for me. It's bully, and I'm goin' to stay vere all my life long."

Mrs. Murray looked quickly at Miss Wealthy. "Does he know of his mother's death?" she asked in a low tone.

"No!" replied Miss Wealthy. "He has almost forgotten her, poor little lad! I fear she was not very kind to him. And I have decided to keep him, Mrs. Murray, and to give him a happy childhood, and then send him to a good school. He is a most lovable child, and it will be a privilege to have him, especially as my dear young relative is to leave me soon."

Both looked instinctively toward Hildegarde, who was standing, flushed and radiant, the centre of a group of children, who clustered round her, pulling at her hands and clinging to her gown.

"What's the name of this place?" one little fellow was asking her. "I like this place! What is its name?"

"It is called Joyous Gard!" replied Hildegarde. "That was the name of a beautiful castle, long and long ago, which belonged to a very brave knight; and we think it will be a good name for your Country Home, because we mean to make it full of joy and happiness, and yet to guard you well in it. So Joyous Gard it is to be. Say it now, all of you,—'Joyous Gard!'"

And "Joyous Gard!" shouted the children, their voices echoing merrily among the trees, and spreading away, till Rose, the romantic, wondered if some faint tone of it might not reach a pale shade called Lancelot du Lake, and bring him comfort where he sorrowed for his sins.

So in Joyous Gard let us leave our Hildegarde,—in each hand a child, around her many loving hearts, in her own heart great joy and light and love. Let us leave her, and wish that all girls might know the cheer and happiness that was hers, not for that day only, but through all her days.

THE END.



Selections from L. C. Page & Company's Books for Young People

THE BLUE BONNET SERIES

Each large 12mo, cloth decorative, illustrated, per volume $ 2.00

The seven volumes, boxed as a set 14.00

A TEXAS BLUE BONNET

By CAROLINE E. JACOBS.

BLUE BONNET'S RANCH PARTY

By CAROLINE E. JACOBS AND EDYTH ELLERBECK READ.

BLUE BONNET IN BOSTON

By CAROLINE E. JACOBS AND LELA HORN RICHARDS.

BLUE BONNET KEEPS HOUSE

By CAROLINE E. JACOBS AND LELA HORN RICHARDS.

BLUE BONNET—DEBUTANTE

By LELA HORN RICHARDS.

BLUE BONNET OF THE SEVEN STARS

By LELA HORN RICHARDS.

BLUE BONNET'S FAMILY

By LELA HORN RICHARDS.

"Blue Bonnet has the very finest kind of wholesome, honest, lively girlishness and cannot but make friends with every one who meets her through these books about her."—Chicago Inter-Ocean.

"Blue Bonnet and her companions are real girls, the kind that one would like to have in one's home."—New York Sun.



THE HENRIETTA SERIES

By LELA HORN RICHARDS

Each one volume, 12mo, illustrated $1.90

ONLY HENRIETTA

"It is an inspiring story of the unfolding of life for a young girl—a story in which there is plenty of action to hold interest and wealth of delicate sympathy and understanding that appeals to the hearts of young and old."—Pittsburgh Leader.

HENRIETTA'S INHERITANCE

"One of the most noteworthy stories for girls issued this season. The life of Henrietta is made very real, and there is enough incident in the narrative to balance the delightful characterization."—Providence Journal.



THE BOYS' STORY OF THE RAILROAD SERIES

By BURTON E. STEVENSON

Each large 12mo, cloth decorative, illustrated, $1.75

THE YOUNG SECTION-HAND; OR, THE ADVENTURES OF ALLAN WEST.

"The whole range of section railroading is covered in the story."—Chicago Post.

THE YOUNG TRAIN DISPATCHER

"A vivacious account of the varied and often hazardous nature of railroad life."—Congregationalist.

THE YOUNG TRAIN MASTER

"It is a book that can be unreservedly commended to anyone who loves a good, wholesome, thrilling, informing yarn."—Passaic News.

THE YOUNG APPRENTICE; OR, ALLAN WEST'S CHUM.

"The story is intensely interesting."—Baltimore Sun.



THE DAYS OF CHIVALRY SERIES

Of Worth While Classics for Boys and Girls

Revised and Edited for the Modern Reader Each large 12mo, illustrated and with a poster jacket in full color $2.00

THE DAYS OF CHIVALRY

By W. H. DAVENPORT ADAMS.

THE CHAPLET OF PEARLS

By C. M. YONGE.

ERLING THE BOLD

By R. M. BALLANTYNE.

WINNING HIS KNIGHTHOOD; Or, THE ADVENTURES OF RAOULF DE GYSSAGE.

By H. TURING BRUCE.

"Tales which ring to the clanking of armour, tales of marches and counter-marches, tales of wars, but tales which bring peace; a peace and contentment in the knowledge that right, even in the darkest times, has survived and conquered."—Portland Evening Express.



BARBARA WINTHROP SERIES

By HELEN KATHERINE BROUGHALL

Each one volume, cloth decorative, 12mo, illustrated $2.00

BARBARA WINTHROP AT BOARDING SCHOOL

BARBARA WINTHROP AT CAMP

BARBARA WINTHROP: GRADUATE

BARBARA WINTHROP ABROAD

"Full of adventure—initiations, joys, picnics, parties, tragedies, vacation and all. Just what girls like, books in which 'dreams come true,' entertaining 'gossipy' books overflowing with conversation."—Salt Lake City Deseret News.

"High ideals and a real spirit of fun underlie the stories. They will be a decided addition to the bookshelves of the young girl for whom a holiday gift is contemplated."—Los Angeles Saturday Night.



DOCTOR'S LITTLE GIRL SERIES

By MARION AMES TAGGART

Each large 12mo, cloth, illustrated, per volume, $1.75

THE DOCTOR'S LITTLE GIRL

"A charming story of the ups and downs of the life of a dear little maid."—The Churchman.

SWEET NANCY: THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF THE DOCTOR'S LITTLE GIRL.

"Just the sort of book to amuse, while its influence cannot but be elevating."—New York Sun.

NANCY, THE DOCTOR'S LITTLE PARTNER

"The story is sweet and fascinating, such as many girls of wholesome tastes will enjoy."—Springfield Union.

NANCY PORTER'S OPPORTUNITY

"Nancy shows throughout that she is a splendid young woman, with plenty of pluck."—Boston Globe.

NANCY AND THE COGGS TWINS

"The story is refreshing."—New York Sun.

* * * * *

Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

In the Hildegarde-Margaret Series advertisement, the price per volume had been blotted out by a reader and $2.00 written in. A search for advertisements of this set costing $19.75 shows them individually at $1.75 and the text has been changed to reflect that.

THE END

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