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Keineth
by Jane D. Abbott
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"Just as the moon disappeared and a heavy darkness enveloped them they pushed away from shore. But as they started down the river a horrible whoop split the air! Angele pressed her hands tight to her mouth to still her scream of terror. With a mighty stroke Robert paddled for midstream. But just as he did so an arrow shot past Angele and buried itself in the soft part of his leg!

"The three Indians who had come and gone in such friendly fashion were not of the far-off tribe they claimed to be, but had been sent on ahead by the chieftain to see how things were at the fort. They had gone back and told their story and the chieftain, expecting that some escape might be attempted, had planned to surprise the fort in the night.

"His flesh stinging with the wound of the arrow, Robert lifted his musket and fired quickly. Years before, in his own country, he had been honored by his King for his good marksmanship, but it was God who guided that aim through the darkness, for it shot straight into the very heart of the chieftain! While, in confusion, the Indians gathered about their fallen chief, Robert, with Angele fainting at his feet, was soon lost in the kindly darkness of the river—paddling eastward!"

"Oh, were they saved?" cried Peggy, drawing a long breath.

"Yes. Days afterward they reached a fort where they found a priest who married them. And they lived happy, useful lives in a settlement in Pennsylvania. Some records of the fort where the priest married them tell the whole story—they're right in the house," and Grandma nodded her head proudly toward the open door.

"Didn't I tell you she was like a page out of history?" Barbara asked Keineth as they drove homeward.

"You just feel as if you were an American History book, beginning with the discovery of America," laughed Peggy.

"If I was a history book I'd leave out dates and the Cabots—I never can get 'em straight," Billy chimed.

"There must be lots and lots of stories about brave men that were never put in books," Keineth added thoughtfully.

Peggy yawned widely. "Well, I'm glad I'm not that poor captive maiden and just plain Peggy Lee of Overlook!"

"And I'm gladder still that mother is sure to have ice cream for dinner!"

This, of course, from Billy.



CHAPTER X

PILOT IN DISGRACE

"Anyone might think that this was Friday the thirteenth," growled Billy. "I broke my fishing rod and I've lost my knife and Jim Archer stepped on a nail and can't go on a hike this afternoon—"

Billy's curious talk never failed to interest Keineth. She knew that it was not Friday and it was not the thirteenth and wondered what Billy ever meant! But she never asked him; something in the scornful superiority with which Billy treated all girls made Keineth very shy with him. She wished they might be better friends, for she felt very sure that it would be great fun to share with him the exciting adventures Billy seemed always to find! Vaguely she wondered what she could do that might put her on an equal footing with this freckled-faced lad who was, after all, only two years older than she was!

"Jim stepped on the nail yesterday—what's that got to do with to-day!" Peggy answered teasingly, "Well, we were going to hike to-day," Billy explained, too doleful to indulge in retort. "And all the other fellows are doing something else."

"Billy—Billy," called Alice from around the corner. "Just see what I found!" She ran toward them, holding in her hand a dirty, ragged piece of leather.

"Where'd you find that?" demanded Billy, taking it from her. "It's—why, jiminy crickets—it's one of my best shoes!"

Billy meant that it had been!

"Pilot!" the children cried, looking at one another.

"That's what mother used to scold about Rex doing," Peggy recalled.

"Why couldn't he eat my old ones!" groaned Billy, throwing the leather off into some bushes. He felt troubled—he remembered that he had left the shoes out on the floor of his dressing room. It was all his fault, but Pilot would be blamed!

"What can we do?" asked Keineth, sensing a tragedy.

"I don't care anything about the shoes," answered Billy, "'cause I'd just as soon wear these old ones as not—what d' I care about shoes? But mother'll say that we can't keep the dog!"

"He's only on trial—" Peggy broke in sadly.

"If you girls could keep it a secret we'd give Pilot another chance—"

"Alice is sure to tell! She can't keep anything!"

"I can keep a secret! You just try me!"

"Well, then," Billy lowered his voice mysteriously, "not a word! You just cross your hearts that you won't tell a word! We'll give Pilot another chance!"

Solemnly the three girls crossed their hearts. Billy went off then in search of some amusement of his liking, leaving them with the burden of the secret.

It weighed upon them through the day. And the more heavily when at noon time the cook from Clark's tapped upon the kitchen door and reported with great indignation that "jes' while her back was turned a minute that there dog had stolen her leg she was about to be carvin' and had gone off with it like he was possessed."

"Your leg—well, now!" cried Nora, all sympathy. "Faith—not my own leg, but a leg of lamb!" wept the other, "and what the mistress will be a sayin' I don't know!"

"Where is that dog?" Mrs. Lee had sternly asked of the children. No one knew. Keineth and Peggy exchanged troubled glances and then fixed frowning eyes upon Alice.

"It really is very foolish in us to keep him," Mrs. Lee went on. "Probably this is just the beginning of the annoyances he will cause!"

"He tramples down the flowers terribly," Barbara complained.

Mr. Lee caught the anxious look in Billy's eyes.

"Well, well, Mother, perhaps Billy will keep a closer watch on his dog after this!"

Billy promised with suspicious readiness. "Mr. Sawyer says Pilot's a valuable dog," he told them. "And we ought not to give a valuable dog away, anyway!"

"We'll see," Mrs. Lee concluded.

But that evening Pilot sealed his own doom!

For, as the children were playing croquet near the veranda, he came running across the lawn and triumphantly dropped at Billy's feet a beautiful gold fish, quite dead!

"Oh—oh—oh!" screamed Alice.

"It's from Sawyer's pond!" cried Peggy on her knees.

"The poor little thing." Keineth lifted it. "It's dead!"

"It's their new Japanese gold fish," added Barbara, who, with Mrs. Lee, had come down the steps from the veranda. "You'll have to pay for this, Billy!"

"I think this is the last straw," said Mrs. Lee sternly, turning to her husband.

"Oh, Mammy, he couldn't help it—they swim round and he thinks they are playing!" Peggy implored.

Pilot, standing back, his tail wagging slowly, regarded them with wondering, disappointed eyes. He had felt so very proud of his fish and now his family seemed to look upon him with displeasure.

"And I can tell the secret now," cried Alice, "we weren't going to tell—he ate one of Billy's best shoes!"

"You just wait!" cried Billy. Peggy turned a terrible face upon Alice. "We'll never, never, never tell anything to the tell-baby again!" she hissed. "Will we, Ken?"

"I guess I knew it first," Alice whimpered.

"It was my fault—I left them out, Mother! And I'd just as soon wear my old shoes!" Billy turned pleadingly to his mother.

"I am sure you would," she smiled, "but nevertheless I must be firm about this dog. He is a nuisance and will be an expense. By the time we have paid the Clarks for their lamb and the Sawyers for their goldfish and bought you a pair of shoes the damages against Pilot will have run up to a nice little sum!"

"But, Mother, you can take it out of my allowance!"

"That will not guard against other things of this same sort happening. No, my son, I do not like to make you unhappy, but we must get rid of the dog. Please say no more about it. Day after to-morrow we'll send him into the city with the vegetable man."

Mrs. Lee turned back to the veranda. When she spoke with that tone in her voice the children never answered. Peggy, linking her arm in Keineth's, turned an angry shoulder upon Alice. Billy blinked his eyes very fast to clear them of the tears that had gathered in spite of himself, threw his arm about the dog's neck and led him away to some hiding place where, secure from intrusion, he could pour out his rebellious heart to his pet.

"There's no use staying angry at Alice!" Keineth protested in a low tone to Peggy as they walked away. She felt sorry for the little girl standing at a little distance irresolutely swinging a croquet mallet. "It was her secret, anyway and Aunt Nellie would have found out about the shoe some time. Perhaps we were wrong not to tell her at first."

"You always stand up for everybody," Peggy complained, dropping Keineth's arm in vexation. But Peggy's sunny nature could not long carry a grudge of any kind. She had made a solemn vow, too, that she would never be unkind to Alice again! And there would be just time before dark to play one more game of croquet!

"Will you play, Allie? You can have red and play last," she cried. "Come on, Ken!"



CHAPTER XI

PILOT WINS A HOME

"What a horrid day!" with a wide yawn Peggy threw the stocking she was darning into the basket. "I wish mother wouldn't make me wear stockings—then I wouldn't have any holes!"

"I wish the sun would shine," Alice chimed, disconsolately.

"If mother were here, she would say that we must make our own sunshine," Barbara laughed. She was folding carefully the white undergarment she had finished making for her college "trousseau"—as her father called it.

"Well, it seems as if everything goes wrong all at once," Peggy refused to be cheered. The children knew she was thinking of Pilot. Pilot's disgrace and sentence hung like a gloomy cloud over their hearts.

"Who'd believe you could think so much of a dog?" Keineth frowned as she pondered the thought. "I used to think Aunt Josephine was so silly over Fido. I am sure Fido was never as nice as our Pilot, but I suppose Aunt Josephine thinks he's much nicer. Once he swallowed a paper of needles from Aunt Josephine's work basket and she almost fainted, and Celeste had to call a doctor for her and another for the dog and they sent the dog to a hospital. Then Aunt Josephine blamed Celeste and told her she must leave at once and Celeste had hysterics, for you see she'd been with my aunt since she was very young and they had to send for the doctor again for Celeste."

"Oh, how funny!" laughed Peggy, though Keineth's face was very serious.

"Then Aunt Josephine felt sorry and forgave Celeste and they called up the next day from the hospital to say that Fido was very well and that needles seemed to agree with him. But Aunt Josephine worried for weeks and weeks over him."

"Pilot would know better than to eat needles," Alice broke in scornfully.

"Yes—he likes shoes and goldfish," Barbara finished. "Where's Billy?"

From the mother to the smallest of them they felt sorry for Billy. For, though Billy had said not a word concerning the fate of his pet, the hurt look in his eyes betrayed the sorrow he felt. No one knew where he was—he had disappeared quietly after breakfast. And Pilot was with him.

"No tennis or golf to-day," grieved Barbara, going to the window.

"Anyway we can swim," cried Peggy.

"In the rain?" asked Keineth, astonished.

"Why, of course, silly! Wouldn't we get wet, anyway?"

Keineth's face colored. Peggy went on with a toss of her head: "And I simply must practice swimming under water to-day—the contest isn't very far off. You can't expect me to help you out to the rock, Ken, you'll have to play in shallow water!"

Keineth's soul smarted under this humiliation. The rock was the goal around which their fun centred. It was twenty yards out from shore and its broad, flat surface gave room for six of them to stand upon it at one time. As around it the water was five feet deep, it was necessary for one of the children to help Keineth reach it. Then, while the others practiced all the feats known to the fish world, Keineth always stood carefully in its centre, head and shoulders above the water's surface and watched them with interest and admiration, tinged with envy.

To conceal the tremble in her voice Keineth had now to swallow very quickly. "All right, Peggy," was all she answered and Peggy never knew how deeply her careless words had hurt her.

Keineth had grown discouraged with her swimming. Somehow it was so easy when some one was with her, but she could never seem to muster the courage to dive off into the water the way the others did. And Daddy would be so disappointed!

Mrs. Lee had given her careful instruction in the stroke—perhaps if she was alone, away from Billy's roguish glance and the terror of his catching her ankle under water, she might feel more confidence.

This thought still lingered in her mind when, in the afternoon, they went to the beach. Billy was already in the water; the faithful Pilot was digging on the beach for dog treasures. Because of the drizzling rain Mrs. Lee had not come down.

While Barbara and Peggy were racing under water Keineth found it very easy to slip away. She chose a spot where a bend of the shore concealed her. She stood knee-deep in the water, going through the movements of the arm stroke, with a careful one, two, three. She put her small teeth tightly together—she would have confidence, she would go out deeper, throw herself calmly into the water in Peggy-fashion and swim off, one, two, three! She would remember to breathe easily and keep her arms under the surface of the water!

There was an indomitable will in the child. She did throw herself in, and, counting one, two, three, forgot her usual gasp of fright; suddenly it seemed natural and as if she had always done it! She felt a delicious joy in the ease with which her stroke carried her ahead through the water. She wished Billy might see her now! Then, exhausted by her effort, triumphant and happy, she reached for a footing on the bottom. Her toe could not find it! With a cry of terror she threw her arms wildly upward, involuntarily seeking for some hold! Then she slipped, slipped down, fathoms and fathoms it seemed—a dreadful choking gripped her, like tight arms upon her chest! She tried to call, but the water only made a fearful gurgle in her throat! She wanted her father—he'd stop that terrible pain in her chest and take that grip from her throat!

Suddenly she felt very, very tired and as if she would sleep when the pain was gone. Her body lifted slowly; her hand, flung upward, gripped something soft but firm in her clutch—the water splashed about her! She thought it was her father! He was pulling her away, then she seemed to go to sleep.

When consciousness returned, Keineth found herself lying upon the beach wrapped in Barbara's raincoat. Peggy was crying and Barbara, her face very white, was rubbing her hand. On her other side knelt Billy, the rain dripping from his bare arms, his face flushed as though from violent exercise. Behind him stood Pete, the man of all work in the community, who had been drawing gravel from the beach.

"Darling!" cried Barbara. "Oh, are you all right?"

Keineth slowly looked all around. Had it been some dream, then—wasn't her Daddy there at all? Barbara had slipped an arm under her head and was folding it higher. It helped her breathe.

"What was it?" Keineth managed to whisper. "I'd never, never, never have forgiven myself," Barbara was crying now.

"You almost drowned," Peggy explained. Now that the danger was over she began to enjoy the excitement.

"And Pilot saved you!" Billy cried.

"We had just missed you and Billy had started up the shore when we heard your cry!"

"And it didn't take that dog two seconds to get out to you! Just say he isn't human!"

"I thought it was Daddy," Keineth whispered.

"What, dear?" Barbara had not caught the words. "You must keep very quiet, Ken. And Billy's had his first aid case!"

Pete clapped Billy on the shoulder. "Wal, I jes' calculate now that it was them gim-cracks Billy here put you through, missy, that brung you to!"

"I always wondered if I could do it," Billy said with pardonable pride, "and, say, that'll mean a medal from the troop!"

Alice had run home to tell Mrs. Lee of the accident. Together they had hurried down to the beach. With Pete's help they lifted Keineth to the gravel wagon and, like a triumphal procession, moved slowly homeward. Mrs. Lee immediately tucked Keineth into bed with hot water bottles and blankets to check the chill that was creeping over her.

"She'll be all right, I am sure," Mrs. Lee whispered to the anxious children. Later the doctor came, left some powders and patted Keineth on the head. "A good sleep and quiet will fix up those nerves O. K. Then forget all about it."

He was quite right; the next morning Keineth, quite as well as ever, joined the family at breakfast. Though Mrs. Lee had warned them not to mention the accident to Keineth unnecessarily, Mr. Lee did pinch her cheek and say: "You lost your head, didn't you, little sport? If you'd just kept your arms down, now—but, if you go exploring strange beaches again you'll remember, won't you?"

Peggy and Keineth, moved by a feeling of intense relief, suddenly caught hands under the table. For into both hearts had come the fear that Keineth's mishap might end the swimming for the summer! And Keineth had not forgotten that, though it had ended sadly, for a very brief time she had mastered the stroke. Mrs. Lee smiled down the table. "And I think Pilot has won a home! Except for him—" she stopped suddenly, her eyes bright with tears. "William, bring home the finest collar you can find and to-night we will decorate our dog with all due honor!"



CHAPTER XII

A LETTER FROM DADDY

"KEN—a letter!"

Billy rushed toward the garden waving a large square envelope over his head.

Keineth and Peggy were weeding their flower bed. Keineth dropped her hoe quickly to seize the letter.

"It's from Washington, and it's got a seal on it like the seal of the United States!" exclaimed Billy.

"Oh, let me see!" cried Peggy.

Keineth had taken the letter. Looking from one to the other, she held it close to her.

"I—I can't—it's from the President, I guess—" A wave of embarrassment seized her and she stopped short, wishing that she might run away with her treasure.

"The President—writing to you! Oh, say—" Billy snorted in derision.

Peggy, offended at Keineth's shyness, turned her back upon her. "I don't want to see your letter, anyway," she said ungraciously.

"Oh, please—I'd love to show it, only—I promised—" Then, as Peggy gave no sign of relenting, Keineth walked slowly toward the house with her letter.

"I think Keineth's mean to have secrets," and Peggy dug her hoe savagely into the ground. "She acts so mysterious about her father and I'll bet it isn't anything at all!"

"But that letter was from the President, I guess! Gee whiz, think of getting a letter really from him! I wish I was Ken!"

"It's nothing! Anyone can be President—I mean, any man!"

"Just the same, mother told me that some day we would be very proud of knowing Keineth's father. She wouldn't tell me any more. I'll bet it would be awful interesting to know him! There's something certainly queer about how no one knows where he is! I guess I'll ask Ken to tell me just a little bit. I can keep a secret."

"Well, you can know her old secret for all I care," and Peggy started for the barn. Billy did not follow. He had thought of a plan. He would challenge Ken to a game of tennis. And he would let her beat him. Then he'd ask her very casually about her father and promise, on his scout's honor, not to tell a soul! The plan seemed good. He'd wait for her to come down.

In her room Keineth had opened the large white envelope. From inside she drew a sheet of paper upon which were written a few lines, and with it a blue envelope of very thin paper, addressed in her father's familiar handwriting. With a little cry she caught it up and kissed it again and again. Before she broke its seal she read what was written on the sheet which had enclosed it.

The few lines were signed "Faithfully, Woodrow Wilson." They began, "My dear little soldier girl," and they told her that it was with great pleasure he had forwarded her letter to her father and now returned to her its answer. He called it an honor to serve them both and expressed the hope that some day he might make her acquaintance and tell her how deeply he admired and respected her father.

Keineth merely glanced at the lines. What mattered it to her that they had been written by the President of the United States! Did she not hold tightly in her fingers a letter from her Daddy?

"My precious child," it began. Keineth had suddenly to brush her eyes in order to see the letters. "Your letter found me at one of my many stopping places. It brought to me a breath of home. I shut myself in my room and read and reread it, and it seemed to bring back the old room and the chair that could always hold us both. I could hear your voice, too. I miss you terribly, little girl, but I thank God daily that you are well and happy and with good friends.

"I have travelled through many lands of which I will have much to tell you. I have been in the Far East—poor Tante would have wept with joy over the beauty of the Flowery Kingdom. I have bowed before enough emperors and kings to make my poor back ache. Do you remember how you used to rub the kinks out of it? I have spent hours and hours with the great men of the world. I have seen wonderful beauty and glorious sunshine. (How I'd like to ship some of it to old New York.) And I have seen ugly things, too. We shall have great times when we are together again, childy, telling one another the stories of these days we have been parted. You shall tell me something first and then I will tell you. It will take us hours and days and weeks.

"Now I am going in my wanderings to other lands that are black with the horror of war. I shall have to witness the suffering it brings to the homes and I will be more glad than I can tell that my baby is far from its pain.

"I have learned in these wanderings of mine that it is in the children this old world must place its trust. That if they want a better government they must give to the little ones all that is pure and clean and honest and good and see to it that they are happy. I feel like shouting it from the housetops—'Make them happy!' It doesn't take much.

"I feel your big, wondering eyes on mine—you do not understand! Ah, well, girlie, all I mean is—romp and play—build up a strong little body for that heart of yours—see things that are clean and good, and whatever the game is—play square!

"We cannot be grateful enough to the dear Lees for all they are doing for us. Try and return their kindness with loyalty. I will write later to Mrs. Lee in regard to the plans for the fall. Do whatever she thinks best. You will stay with them until I return. Just when that will be I cannot tell now, but you must be brave. Your courage helps me, too, my dear.

"Sometimes, when my day's work is done and I can put it from my mind, I close my eyes and dream—dream of the little home we will build when I return: build—not in the old Square, that is gone except to memory—but in some sunny, open spot where we can live and work together and lead useful lives. It is a beautiful castle as I see it in my dreams—and beautiful with love.

"I will send this letter with other papers to Washington and they will forward it to you.

"Good-by, little soldier—I salute you, my General.

"God keep you for

"DADDY."

The words rang through Keineth's heart like a song. She longed to pour out her joy in music, but Billy's voice came to her from below.

"Ken, Ken."

"Yes, Billy." "Come on, I'll play tennis with you! Bet you can beat me, too!"

Keineth suddenly remembered Peggy's and Billy's rudeness. Perhaps Billy was trying to make amends. She really wanted to be alone with her letter a little longer, but if Billy wanted her to play! She felt proud, too, that he had asked her.

Billy found less difficulty than he had anticipated in letting Keineth win the set. In fact, deep in his heart, he was not sure he had "let" her. For Keineth, fired with the joy within her, played brilliantly, flying over the court like a winged creature, returning Billy's serves with a surprising quickness and strength that completely broke down his boyish confidence in himself.

"Thanks awfully—that was fun," Keineth said as they sank down under a tree for a moment's rest.

Though his plan had worked very well so far, Billy now felt at a loss to know how he ought to proceed. So, accepting her thanks with a brief nod, he bolted straight to the point.

"Say, Ken, if you'll tell me about your father I promise on my scout's honor not to tell a soul! And you ought to tell me anyway, for didn't my dog save your life, and didn't I give you first aid or you might've died!"

"Oh, Billy!" Keineth cried, then stopped short. Her heart warmed to Billy—they seemed almost like pals now! He had preferred playing tennis with her than going off somewhere with the boys. And she did want more than anything else right then to talk about her daddy; to tell how great he was and how he was visiting courts of Eastern lands. And she wanted to show Billy the letter from the President, it was in her pocket. And she knew if Billy said he'd never tell that he would not.

But a soldier never swerves from duty and had not her father called her his "General"?

"I—I can't, Billy," she finished.

There was something so final in her voice and in the set of her lips that Billy, red with rage, rose quickly to his feet.

"I'll bet you haven't got any secret and you're just making up to be smart and I'll get even with you, baby! And you didn't beat me playing tennis, for I let you, anyway! You wait—" and, vengefully, Billy strode away, leaving an unhappy little girl sitting alone under the tree. Peggy met Billy on the road. Peggy was in search of Keineth. Her nature was too happy to long nurse a grievance. She didn't care if Keineth did have a secret! And she had wonderful news, too!

But Billy's morose bearing stirred her curiosity.

"Did she tell you, Billy?" she asked.

"I'll bet she hasn't got any secret that's worth knowing! And she needn't say she beat me at tennis, either."

"Oh, Billy Lee, you let her beat so's she'd tell you! I'm just glad she didn't! I guess girls never tell anything they've promised not to—even if they are girls!"

In great scorn she ran from the disconsolate Billy. She had spied Keineth alone under the tree.

"Ken—Ken! Great news!" Peggy rushed toward her. "We are going camping with Ricky—you and me—next week! Hurray!"



CHAPTER XIII

CAMPING

Keineth learned that Ricky was Peggy's gymnasium teacher. Her real name was Fredericka Grimball, but to "her girls" she was always known as Ricky. The camp was among the hills ten miles from Fairview. And during the vacation months Ricky took her girls there in groups of twenty. With their play she gave them instruction in scoutcraft.

"We go for tramps into the woods and she tells us stories of the birds and trees. I never knew until she told me that there are male and female trees, and flowers and all the things that grow; did you know it, Ken? And we found a weasel, last summer—it was almost tame. We're going to learn signalling, too; perhaps this winter Ricky will let us form a troop and join the Girl Scouts."

Keineth, with wide-open eyes, was trying to follow Peggy's incoherent description of the camp life they were to begin on the morrow. Back in her mind was a tiny doubt as to whether she would enjoy twenty girls—all strangers! But she would fight this shyness and do whatever Peggy did.

"We sleep right out of doors when it is clear. The woods smell so good and there are all sorts of funny sounds as if all the bugs and things were having parties."

"Oh-h, I wonder if I'll like it!" and Keineth shivered with pleasurable dread.

"We paddle in canoes on a little lake that's like a mill-pond. It's awfully shallow and the water is so clear you can see right through it, and we ride horseback, too! I'm a patrol leader," Peggy finished with pride. She folded the last middy blouse neatly into a wicker suitcase. Their luggage consisted of bloomers, blouses, bathing-suits and blankets.

"Easy to remember—all B's," Mrs. Lee had laughed.

Mr. Lee drove them to the camp. "Come back with some muscle in these arms of yours and a few more freckles on your nose," he said to Keineth, pinching her cheek affectionately.

"Camp Wachita"—the girls had nicknamed it Camp Wish-no-more—was nestled in the hills with the tiny lake at its front door and a dense woodland at its back. Sleeping tents were built in a semicircle about the central building, in which were the living-rooms. On a grassy level stretch close to the water was the out-of-door gymnasium and beyond that the boathouse and dock to which several gaily-painted canoes were fastened.

The family at Camp Wachita consisted of Martha Washington Jones, the colored cook; Bonsey, her twelve-year-old son, who very occasionally made himself useful about the camp; Captain O'Leary, a Spanish War Veteran by title and by occupation caretaker of the horses and boats; Miky, the little Irish terrier, and Jim Crow, who had been brought, the summer before, to the camp hospital from the woodland to receive first aid for a broken wing, and had refused to leave the family.

Keineth had little difficulty in making friends with the other girls. There seemed to be among them such a jolly spirit of comradeship that she found it very easy to call them Jessie and Nellie and Kate, and never once wondered at their quickly adopting Peggy's familiar "Ken." She thought that Peggy must have known them all very well and was surprised when Peggy told her that there were only three of her friends among them.

"But we're all Ricky's girls, you see," she explained, as though that was all that was necessary to create a firm bond of loyalty and friendship among them.

"Ricky," this captain of girls, was a tall, straight, broad-shouldered woman of twenty-five. The sunniness of her smile, the firmness of her jaw and the all-understanding warmth of her dark eyes told of the character which made her a leader of others and a spirit beloved among them all.

Each new day of the camp life brought to Keineth some new experience, thrilling in its strangeness to the little girl. She had learned to love going to sleep with the great, star-lit vault of the sky enveloping her; the singing of the "bugs," as Peggy had put it, was fairy music to her ears; she had conquered her first terror of the shell-like canoes and now could paddle with confidence, even venturing alone upon the shallow water. And to her own surprise she was enjoying the companionship of the other girls!

Among them was one named Stella Maybeck. Stella was not an attractive girl—she was too tall and too thin, her voice was loud and her manners a little careless. She had big, dark eyes with a hungry look in their depths. She adored Ricky and showed a preference for Keineth's company. At first Keineth felt a little repelled by the girl's rough ways, but gradually she grew to feel that beneath them was a warm, kind heart and that it was, perhaps, shyness that often made Stella's manner disagreeable.

They walked together on the tramps into the woods and Keineth enjoyed the fund of knowledge the other girl seemed to have concerning all the little woodland creatures and their ways.

"I don't see why you like to be with Stella Maybeck," Peggy had said to her one day. "I think she is horrid!" she finished unkindly.

"Why, Peggy!" Keineth frowned. It was very unfair in Peggy to speak in this way concerning one of the other girls. Keineth did not suspect that perhaps a little jealousy prompted Peggy's ungraciousness.

This little cloud was to grow over the whole camp. And in the second week Ricky's girls learned a lesson of greater value to them than all the scoutcraft they loved.

Twice a week the vegetable man came to the camp with fruit and vegetables. These the girls placed in the storehouse, one of them carefully checking off the purchases as they did so. One morning some oranges were reported missing. Ricky paid little attention to the incident. The next day one of the girls came to her and announced that a ring had been taken from her sleeping tent. Although disturbed, Miss Grimball gently rebuked the girl for having disobeyed the camp rules in bringing jewelry to it and sent her away, bidding her speak to no one of her loss.

Then Miss Grimballs silver purse containing ten dollars in bills was taken from her desk!

Like a flash the story spread through the camp. The girls gathered in an excited group. Keineth and Stella, with arms locked, stood together. From the other side of the group Peggy saw them. The jealousy that had been slumbering within her heart suddenly gripped her.

"Well, I think I could guess who did it, all right, and I just think it's a shame for anyone like that to I dare to come to Ricky's camp!" It was not necessary to do more than fix her gaze indignantly upon Stella Maybeck. With a little gasp Stella turned and ran into her tent. The others pressed closer to Peggy.

"Oh, do you think so?" they whispered in awed voices.

"Peggy!" cried Keineth, imploringly.

"I'm not going to say another word," Peggy answered, perhaps a little frightened at what she had done.

The girls waited breathlessly for Miss Grimball to take some action in the matter. Each felt that the disgrace must be wiped from the happy camp life.

At noon Ricky's whistle sounded. The girls assembled on the gymnasium ground. Their captain stood before them, dear-eyed, smiling at them all with her usual confidence. Stella, with Keineth, had joined the others and stood in the background.

"I think you all know what has happened. I am disturbed, but I will not suspect one of my girls. All I want to say is this—so great is my trust in your loyalty, in your honor, and in your sense of what is square—if one of you, through an unfortunate yielding to temptation, has taken these things that have been lost, they will be returned, because you are girls of honor. So I am not worrying. Now, please do not talk of the matter among yourselves."

The routine of the day went on. The girls avoided Stella; only Keineth kept close to her side. Keineth longed to pour out to Stella her confidence in her innocence and her indignation at Peggy, but a certain pride in Stella's manner forbade it; she could not find the right words, so she simply occasionally squeezed Stella's hand!

In this way two unhappy days passed. Then on the third morning Peggy, crossing the path leading to the kitchen, saw Jim Crow scurrying toward the wood with a spoon in his mouth! On tip-toe she followed him. Turning off from the trail near the edge of the woodland, he stood for a moment as though listening, then dropped his treasure into the hollow trunk of a dead tree!

And there Peggy, following the rascal, found the oranges, the ring, and Ricky's silver purse!

In that moment when Peggy stood alone among the trees, the stolen things in her hands, she learned a lesson that she could never forget! She walked slowly back to Miss Grimball's office and told her the story of Jim and of her own unjust accusation of Stella.

"We should have suspected Jim, the villain," Ricky laughed. "Another chapter in scoutcraft, Peggy. Will you go, my dear, and tell Stella?" Then she gently put her hand upon Peggy's head, "Judge not, my dear," and, leaning, she kissed her.

Peggy rushed off in search of Stella. She found her sitting on the dock, a picture of misery, Keineth by her side.

"Stella, I was a wicked, wicked girl! It was Jim Crow stole the things, and I found them in an old tree and I wouldn't blame you if you never forgave me! I think the reason I was so horrid was because I was just jealous that Ken loved you more than she did me—" For lack of breath Peggy stopped, her soul clean from her confession.

A great joy came into Stella's dark eyes. She held out her hand and Peggy caught it in a tight grip.

"Now I'm going to call all the girls together and tell them the whole story and that I'm just terribly ashamed." She ran from them, her hands to her mouth, loudly giving the call of the camp. There was great rejoicing at Camp-Wish-no more. The cloud of suspicion had lifted. The girls could not be nice enough to Stella, and for the first time she seemed to lose her shyness and awkwardness among them. Then Ricky decided that, in order to entirely forget the whole thing, they would go on an all-night hike to the old mill on Cobble Hill.

"Hooray—hooray!" went up from eager throats.

"Three cheers for Stella!"

"Three cheers for Peggy!" they cried again.

"Down with Jim Crow!"

That night, under the stars, Keineth snuggled close to Peggy. She had asked to be Peggy's blanket mate.

"You're all right, Peg," she whispered, Billy-fashion, "and I do love you most of all!"



CHAPTER XIV

THE TENNIS TOURNAMENT

"Sport's Week" had begun at the Shore Club. The excitement of it gripped the Lee family. Each talked of the game in which he or she was most interested and no one listened to the other. Barbara, with an absorbed air, mentally played the shots she would make when on Friday she would meet in the final round of match play for the championship title her old foe, Carol Day. Peggy had no thought for anything but the swimming contest. Mr. Lee was chairman of the committee on arrangements and spent most of his time at the telephone. Mrs. Lee did her part in the decorating of the club-house and went about with her arms full of gay bunting and her mouth full of pins.

And Keineth shared the excitement! For she had qualified in the children's tennis tournament and would play in the doubles and had drawn Billy for her partner!

It was her first real contest! Secretly she shivered with fright but outwardly tried to appear calm like Peggy. All the day before the tennis matches began she went about with her racquet in her hand as though to accustom her trembling fingers to its hold.

Though Billy, since the day he had tried to make Keineth confide in him the story of her father's absence, had maintained toward her a scornful indifference, he had accepted her as a partner because there was no alternative. But he managed to convey to her that he considered it an unfair indignity that he should be so handicapped. And he talked entirely of the paddling races.

However, Keineth could not be discouraged. In her mind was one thought only—they must win! For, each day, in her room she was writing a careful account of all that happened to send to her Daddy, and failure could have no part in the story.

And in the very first match they defeated Molly Sawyer and Joe Gary!

Margaret Dale, playing with Charlie Myers had, after a hard game, beaten Grace Schuyler and Merton Day. Then Keineth and Billy played against them. It was a close match; the courts were circled by an interested crowd of onlookers. Though Billy had had to play with all his skill to meet Charlie Myers' strength of volley, he knew that Keineth had more than done her part, too.

"She played way over her head," he answered sullenly to the praise his family bestowed upon her.

One more set put them in the final match against Jim Downer and his sister Helen. A taste of victory had given to Keineth a poise that steadied her in her game; this matching of strength, skill and quickness—something she had never known before—had developed a surprising confidence in herself. Her joy was not in the defeat of their opponents, rather in her own mastery of all those things which for so long she had been trying to learn!

"Good luck to you, kiddies," Mr. Lee had said to them at the breakfast table. "Play your best and then you won't mind if you are defeated. And if the other fellows play better, don't think up any excuses—it's something to be good losers!"

In the brief moment of waiting before the final match began, Keineth, standing quietly near the courts, thought how different she was from the funny little girl who had come to Overlook two months before. She knew now what her father had meant when he had told her that that old life, with him and Tante in the old house, had cheated her out of the other things children had. He had been right He would be pleased, now, to know the part she was taking with the others.

The judges called the match; Keineth caught her breath and ran on to the court. She gave one whispered word to Billy.

"We've got to win!"

Billy had not enjoyed Keineth's sudden rise into fame. He felt less tolerant and the old grudge flamed into being. If they won now—and everyone said they would—they'd all think it was Keineth that had won it. They'd make an awful fuss over her—they always did over girls—and there'd be no living with either her or Peggy. He could throw the game, just fall down on one or two returns and no one would know the difference! He felt very sure of winning the paddling races and what did he care about the tennis match, anyway?—it'd be different if they were the real matches, but they were just for children. These thoughts ran through his mind as he swung his racquet backward and forward in the air, a heavy scowl wrinkling his face.

And Keineth's confident "We've got to win" had been the last drop in his cup of annoyance.

The first two games were slow, a little volleying and a good many "outs." Someone called from the gallery, "Warm up!" Keineth threw her head back with an answering smile, for she recognized Mr. Lee's voice.

Their opponents won the third game against a thirty. That spurred Keineth; the fourth game was faster with some hot volleying and pretty returns and won by Keineth and Billy in a quickly mounting score. Excited, Keineth did not notice that Billy had not returned one or two balls with his usual skill.

The next, a deuce game, was hotly contested. Her face ablaze with interest, Keineth held her little body tensely poised on one toe, ready for instant action. The faces of the crowd around her blurred into nothing—there seemed only left in her small world those two beyond the net!

The next game was bewildering. Keineth played desperately, but they had only won thirty points when the others made the game! The set stood four to two in Keineth's favor, but their opponents were playing stronger with each game.

In the seventh game Billy dropped off shamelessly. He was never quite ready. Before Keineth realized the situation the others had won and won easily!

"Billy!" Keineth whispered imploringly. The indifferent look on Billy's face struck terror to her heart. What was the matter with him?

The next game Keineth won alone—if Billy could not play she'd play for him! Her little teeth, clenched tight together, gleamed white through her parted lips. The crimson of her cheeks mounted into her fair hair.

"What a picture!" Mrs. Lee whispered to her husband. She was not thinking of the game at all. "What a spirit! Think, William, what that can mean in this world when the child's grown up!"

"That's just why this sort of sport is good for them," Mr. Lee whispered back. "But what is the matter with Billy?"

That is what Keineth wondered, too. They had won five games—they must win the next and set! Walking close to Billy she confronted him, her face ablaze. For just a moment they looked hard into one another's eyes; not a boy and girl, the one proudly conscious of his boyhood and two years' difference in age, the other a very young and all-admiring girl—but just two mortals contesting together against two others.

And at last they, Keineth and Billy, met on equal ground—Keineth had proven her mettle—let Billy show his! Keineth's clear, straightforward gaze made Billy drop his eyes in sudden shame.

"Play square," she said sternly. And Billy played square! Their opponents had not a chance!

"Well, Billy did wake up," some one said and some one else added: "If they'd lost it would have been his fault. That Randolph girl played a corking game for her age!"

They had won the tennis tournament! Keineth did not enjoy half so much the silver cup they placed in her hands as she did Peggy's delight and Mr. Lee's hearty handclasp of congratulation. The young people carried them off to luncheon at the club-house, where they made merry far into the afternoon.

That evening Billy, with a very serious face, approached his father, where he sat alone on the veranda.

"Dad, I've withdrawn my name from the paddle races!"

"What's wrong, son?"

"I'm not a good sport—that's why," Billy answered with his usual frankness. "I had a sort of grudge against Keineth because she wouldn't tell me about her father and I'd vowed to get even and I just laid down on that tennis game—until she made me ashamed!"

"But she did make you ashamed, Billy?"

"Yes—she told me to play square and I just thought then that no one would ever have to tell me to play square more than once!"

Mr. Lee laid his arm across the boy's shoulder.

"Laddie—these games we play teach us a lot, don't they? There is something in them more than fun and more than the health they give! You've learned a motto to-day that you can pin on your shield when you go out to meet the other matches life offers!"

"You can just bet I'll always try to play square! And I'm going now to find Ken and tell her she's a brick!"

Mr. Lee watched the boy disappear. Though a smile hovered about his lips, his eyes were serious—the cigar between his fingers had quite gone out.

"May he keep that spirit all through life," he was thinking.



CHAPTER XV

NOT ON THE PROGRAM!

Keineth, a little tired after the strain of the tennis match, thought it much more fun to watch the others. Billy had gone into the paddling races, and no one but Mr. Lee and Keineth knew that it was because Keineth had begged him—and he had won and Keineth had been the first to examine the wrist watch he had received as an award. And on Friday the entire family waited eagerly near the eighteenth green of the golf course for Barbara and Carol Day to play up in the final game for the golf championship!

Keineth and Peggy held hands tightly in their excitement.

"Oh, I can tell by Barb's walk she's ahead," Peggy cried as the two players, their caddies and a small gallery, appeared around the corner of the wood that screened the seventeenth green.

"She was two down at the turn and Carol was playing par golf," someone volunteered. "What does down at the turn mean?" whispered Keineth.

"The turn's at the end of the ninth hole and a-l-a-s, down means Barb was behind. Pooh, she always plays better when she's down!"

A man had just returned from the fifteenth tee.

"They were dormie at the sixteenth," the girls heard him say.

"What queer words they do use in golf! I thought dormie was a window!"

"Oh, Ken," giggled Peggy, "you mean dormer and it's dormie when one player is just as many holes ahead as there are more holes to play. Good gracious!" her face fell, "that means that Barbara will have to win these three holes and she always slices on the eighteenth!"

"She won't this time, Peggy! That girl's like steel in a match!" a man nearby broke in.

"She's driving first!" Billy cried. "Oh, look—look—look! P-e-ach-y!"

Breathlessly they watched the two players advance toward the green. Barbara had outdriven her opponent but she topped her second. Carol Day, playing a brassie, put her ball well up. Barbara recovered on her third shot, carried the bunker which guarded the green twenty yards from it, and laid her ball on the edge of the green. Carol's third caught the top of the bunker, shot into the air and dropped back into the sand pit!

"Oh-h!" breathed Peggy delightedly into Keineth's ear. She knew it was the worst bunker on the course.

But difficulties only made Carol Day play the better. She studied the shot for several moments while Barbara and the gallery watched with tense interest. Then they saw her lift her niblick slowly, her head bent; a cloud of sand raised, the ball cleared the bunker's top, dropped upon the green, rolled a few feet and rested within an easy putt of the cup!

The gallery applauded. It was a splendid shot, one of the kind that ought to win a match for its player. Even Keineth cried out in generous praise of the play.

Peggy gripped Keineth's hand so hard that it hurt.

"Steady, steady, there, Barb," Mr. Lee muttered. Barbara walked slowly to her ball. Her eyes were lowered, she did not glance at the familiar faces about the green. Her next shot demanded the utmost skill, care and steadiness she could command. Of them all she was the coolest. She must run down her putt to win the match!

Peggy suddenly shut her eyes that she could not see what happened. The others saw Barbara, with an easy movement, line her putt. The ball rolled slowly over the clipped turf, dead straight to the hole—closer, closer, hung for one fraction of a second on the rim of the cup and then with a thud that was like music, dropped in! Barbara was the champion of the women players of the club!

"Why, it almost made me sick." Peggy confided to Keineth afterwards. "I will be a wreck when this week is over! And oh, if I can only win the life-saving medal to-morrow! Think of it, four prizes in the Lee family! There will be no living with us. I don't care a straw for the cups they give—it's that little bit of a bronze medal I want There's going to be a man here from Washington to give it to the winner—one of the Volunteer Life-saving Association. And that medal's got to go right here," and defiantly she struck her hand against her breast.

"I just can't wait," Keineth sighed in a tragic manner.

"The last day is most fun of all," Peggy explained.

"How can we ever settle down into calm living?"

"Huh—fast enough! I've got to begin reviewing English. I have a condition to make up."

"And I want to work on my music," cried Keineth, suddenly conscience-smitten.

"Mother says that to-morrow night we'll wind up with a supper on the beach. It's lots jollier than the dinner dance at the Club and we're too young to go to that, anyway. Barb could go if she wanted to, but she'd rather have the fun at the beach. We fry bacon and roast corn and mother makes cocoa and then we sing. Oh, dear, won't it be awful to grow old and not do those things?"

Together they sighed mightily at such a prospect!

For the last day of the Sports Week there was a program of fun that began immediately after breakfast and lasted through the day. All the club members gathered on the beach where gaily-decorated booths had been built. From these lemonade and sandwiches were served continuously. The motor boats, canoes and skiffs, their flags flying, made bright splashes of color against the green water. Stakes, topped with flags, marked the course for the swimming races. The judges were taken out on one of the larger motor boats.

Keineth had never seen anything quite like it. To her it seemed like a chapter from some story and a story strange and exciting!

The committee had arranged games and races for the very little youngsters so that during the morning the beach front was astir with them—bright-eyed, bobbed-haired, starched little girls and tanned, bare-legged boys, trying vainly to elude the watchful care of the mothers and nurse-girls, who made a background for the pretty scene.

The life-saving contest followed the swimming races. Four others besides Peggy had entered: Molly Sawyer, Helen Downer, Mary Freeman and Gladys Day.

Keineth had never watched a contest of this sort before. She cried out in alarm when she saw a man, fully dressed, at a signal totter off the deck of the judges' motor boat. Someone next to her laughed.

"That's just pretend—he's an expert swimmer! It's Mary Freeman's turn! Watch her!"

Keineth saw Mary detach herself from a small group, rush into the water tearing off her blouse as she did so. Then something went wrong—Mary seemed to make no headway toward the man, the judges blew a whistle, the man who had jumped overboard climbed back into the boat; there was some laughter which others quickly frowned down.

Peggy had drawn last place in the contest. When Keineth saw the others fail, one after another, she glanced at Peggy with nervous anxiety. But Peggy stood, outwardly calm, the picture of confidence, her eyes fastened upon the judges' boat, waiting for her signal.

Another man fell overboard; to Keineth he looked like a giant! She saw Peggy spring forward—in a flash her blouse was off and she had thrown it backward over her head. She was swimming and Keineth knew that as she swam she was unbuttoning and kicking off her shoes and her skirt. An encouraging shout went up as she moved rapidly forward, her head under water, first one straight, strong arm, then the other, shooting out and ahead!

Off at a little distance the judges' boat was chugging. From the beach the spectators, breathless, could see a struggle in the water. Then, where for a moment there had been nothing visible, they saw Peggy's head; saw her making for shore swimming on her back with strong leg strokes, one arm encircling the man's head, her grip holding his chin and nostrils out of water and pinioning his arms so that his struggles could not drag her down.

A shout went up from the beach front—louder and louder; the motor boats blew their sirens. Keineth ran to the water's edge that she might be the first to greet the proud young swimmer.

Willing hands helped Peggy pull the rescued man upon the sand where, the water dripping from her shoulders, Peggy gave "first aid." After several moments, marked by a big, sunburned man whom Keineth learned afterwards was the man from Washington, the victim was pronounced saved, rose to his feet and was the first to shake Peggy's hand!

"Why, it was so real that it seemed awful funny to see him just get up like that," Keineth giggled afterwards, when she had a moment alone with her Peggy.

"Well—it wasn't any easy thing to bring him in! Why, he struggled just as much as though he was really drowning! But, oh, Ken—Ken, I've won my medal!"

Later the children went back to the house to prepare the picnic. They trooped up the rood, an excited group; Keineth and Peggy in advance.

As they came nearer to Overlook a strange sight met their eyes. They stopped short.

For there on the gravel drive, its high-powered engine snorting and puffing, a rigid, uniformed figure at the wheel, stood Aunt Josephine's bright yellow car!



CHAPTER XVI

AUNT JOSEPHINE

"It's Aunt Josephine!" cried Keineth.

"Oh, dear, she'll spoil the fun!"

Keineth wished the ground would open wide and swallow her up, so deep was her dismay. Never in her life had she so hated that yellow monster and Kingston's rigid back! And yes, the black-robed figure in the back was Celeste!

"Oh, dear," echoed Alice.

"Maybe she has some word from father." The thought lent wings to Keineth's feet—she flew over the ground, Peggy following closely, a most curious sight for Aunt Josephine's eyes, with her wet bathing-suit and her blue and white bathrobe flying out behind!

No, Aunt Josephine had no news of Keineth's father! She was on a motor trip and had stopped at Fairview. She was quite the same Aunt Josephine, beautifully gowned in a linen dress whose trimmings matched the stylish little hat she wore on her head. She rose from the wicker chair on the veranda, where she sat with Mrs. Lee, to greet the children. Keineth felt her critical glance wander from her to the others even while she was answering her aunt's questions.

Mrs. Lee read the consternation behind the children's polite greetings, for in her sweet voice she broke in:

"I have been asking Mrs. Winthrop to join us to-night in our beach frolic—you girlies must urge her!"

"Oh, please do!" they cried together.

Aunt Josephine did not seem to hear them. She was looking very hard at Keineth. "She does look well," she admitted; "I suppose the quiet life here has been good for her." She spoke directly to Keineth and the child felt in her tone the mild disapproval she knew so well. "I am on my way through to the Yellowstone, child. I thought, perhaps, I might pick you up and take you along, but you are so freckled that you are a sight!" Then, as though she recalled the beach supper and the children's invitation, she added, apologetically, "It is very kind, but I am a little out of the habit of such things!"

"Hateful thing—how can she be Ken's aunt!" Peggy was thinking resentfully, for she had seen a hurt look creep into Keineth's eyes.

Mrs. Lee's face wore its most cordial smile. She laid her hand upon Aunt Josephine's arm.

"That's just why I like to go to picnics and things—it is easy to get out of the habit of fun! Do send your man away and join us! It will be a great treat to know our Keineth's aunt a little better."

Now what neither Keineth nor Peggy, nor even Mrs. Lee could guess was that beneath the folds of expensive linen and lace and dainty pleatings of rose silk was a heart that was just hungry because—years and years before—it had forgotten "how to have fun!" The happy faces of the children, freckled though they were, the simplicity of the pretty home, the flowers blooming so riotously and gaily all about, the light that lay deep in Mrs. Lee's eyes roused a longing very strange to Aunt Josephine! Perhaps if she had had youngsters of her own she might never have been the kind of an Aunt Josephine she was—tyrannized over by a Fido and a Celeste and a Kingston!

"I will come," Aunt Josephine decided so suddenly that they were startled. "Keineth, dear, please tell Celeste to come to me."

Celeste was instructed to unpack a warm coat and to bring a robe. Then she and Kingston were told that they might drive back to town, to return later for Mrs. Winthrop.

Mrs. Lee carried Aunt Josephine off to the tiny guest room while the children flew toward the pantry to make ready the picnic baskets.

Vaguely Keineth felt worried, as though, in some way or other, she was to blame for this unwelcome addition to the party. But Peggy, joining them in middy blouse and bloomers, reassured her in an excited whisper.

"It'll be such fun just to see how she'll act! Oh, I do wish that funny maid and that awful leather-man were going, too! Do you suppose she can ever eat a bacon sandwich without a fork?"

But Aunt Josephine did eat one without a fork and then ate another. She sat on a rock, her pretty linen all crumpled and mussed, a great deal of sand in her shoes, and balanced a paper plate on her lap and laughed, a rippling jolly laugh that Keineth had never heard before. She made Keineth and Peggy sit one on each side of her and tell her of all they had done during the summer.

When the last marshmallow had been toasted and the pans scoured and put away in the baskets, the picnickers gathered about the dying bonfires for a "sing-song." This always included all the songs they loved best, the songs Mr. and Mrs. Lee had known in their youth and the songs of the present day. And Aunt Josephine's rich contralto rang above the others.

"Why, I haven't sung like this since I can remember," she laughed. The children were just finishing, "There's a long, long trail a-winding, into the land o' my dreams!"

In the dim light Keineth was studying her aunt's face. Perhaps she had often been unkind in her thoughts; she might have known that Aunt Josephine must be very, very nice or she couldn't have been her father's sister! She slipped her hand into her aunt's and felt a warm pressure return her clasp.

When Mrs. Lee began "This is the End of a Perfect Day" the children knew that the fun was over. They were glad to go home, for it had been a strenuous and exciting week.

When the good-nights were said Aunt Josephine drew Keineth toward her.

"May I keep her up a little longer—I would like to have a little talk."

A dread seized Keineth's heart, for she recalled her aunt's words concerning the Yellowstone. She might have to go with Aunt Josephine and Celeste and Kingston, after all.

Aunt Josephine sat down by the lamp, very straight, the way she always sat when she had something important on her mind. Mrs. Lee sank back among the pillows on the divan and Mr. Lee pulled his chair closer to the window and lighted his pipe.

"I cannot tell you," Aunt Josephine began, "how glad I am to have become acquainted with you all. I feel better about Keineth."

A silence followed this. Very troubled, Keineth glanced at Mrs. Lee, to find her smiling.

"You know I did not approve of the way my brother just turned her over to almost strangers. It seemed as if she ought to be with me. I would have sent her to a camp in Maine—a very fine camp for girls—and then, perhaps had her with me at the seashore."

Aunt Josephine paused as though waiting for Mrs. Lee to say something. And Mrs. Lee said quietly:

"I think she has been happy here."

"I came this way intending to steal her for this Yellowstone trip, though perhaps she'd better not go." Keineth put her hand to her face involuntarily as though to cover the shameless freckles. "But I feel that I ought to talk over with you—well, the plans for her school in the fall." Keineth swept a frightened glance toward Mrs. Lee. Aunt Josephine went on in the voice she always used when doing her duty: "Miss Edgecombe has a very select school for girls a few blocks from me in New York. I know Miss Edgecombe well and she is holding a place open for Keineth. I feel she is a very suitable person to train a child. You know," with a tone of apology, "my brother had no sense at all in bringing up the girl! He left everything to that queer old governess." Mrs. Lee suddenly sat up very straight on the divan,

"When Keineth came to us she had to learn to be like other children. Yes, she had been shut up too much with that very good governess; her little brain had grown faster than her body. It's her body's turn now, the brain can wait. Mr. Randolph said that he wished her to remain with us until he returned. Keineth and I have a plan of our own for the fall, to play and work on our music." She smiled at Keineth.

Aunt Josephine hesitated as though she could not find the right words to express what she felt. "I thought it was my duty to speak to Miss Edgecombe," she said stiffly; "she is my brother's child and will probably, some day, inherit what I have. I should like to have her with me, but," there was a wistful ring in her voice, "I suppose she is better off with you."

"The things Miss Edgecombe can teach her can wait, perhaps," Aunt Nellie answered, smiling down at Keineth. "Keineth is happy in our simple life—"

"Simple life—that's just it!" Aunt Josephine spoke rapidly, as though Mrs. Lee had suddenly helped her to find the words she wanted. "You're so simple that you're wonderful! You've learned to live real lives without all the shams that make slaves of the rest of us. Why, my life seems as empty as a bubble and the things I do worth just about as much as a bubble by the side of this." She swept her hand out toward the lamp-lighted room. "And I must have lived like this once—but I've forgotten! I've always thought my brother queer and that governess he had insufferable—but I guess you and he know what's best. I'm glad the child is with you. Yes," the wistful note crept back into her voice, "I would have enjoyed having her, but, she's better off, all freckled and in those absurd clothes."

As Mrs. Winthrop drove away through the starlit night, a costly robe protecting her from the chill of the evening, Celeste at hand for instant service, Kingston guiding the monster car, she looked back over her shoulder at the little house outlined against the sky and sighed—a lonely little sigh.

In a tumult of joy Keineth had thrown her arms about Mrs. Lee's neck. "Oh, I was so frightened!" she cried. "Thank you for not letting me go. I'd have just hated Miss Edgecombe's—after this! And I do want to stay with Peggy!" she finished with a tight hug. Then, as they climbed the stairs together, she said softly—without knowing why in the least she said it:

"Poor Aunt Josephine! It must be awful to be rich."



CHAPTER XVII

SCHOOL DAYS

September had come, and busy days! For Overlook had to be closed, the city home cleaned and aired and made ready; Barbara must be sent away to college and the younger children started off in school.

"I feel all sort of queer inside," said Peggy, astride of a trunk, "the way you do when you hear sad songs. I wish it was always summer and nothing but play."

"And no school," chimed in Billy. He was on his knees packing toys. "I don't see what good school does, anyway! If nobody went to school it'd all be the same."

"I just hate beginning and then I love it," cried Alice.

"You won't love it when you get into fractions," retorted Billy, "'course its fun down in the baby grades!" He spoke from the lofty distinction of a sub-freshman in the Technical High. Some day Billy was going to make boilers like his father.

"I don't mind school, but it's the fuss getting things ready. I just despise dressmakers! You wait, Ken, until mother gets after you and you stand by the hour and have Miss Harris fit you! The only fun is watching to see how many pins she can put in her mouth without swallowing any. Did that governess make your clothes?"

Keineth described the funny little shop where Tante took her twice a year. "They kept my measurements there and Tante would just look at the materials."

"And you never decided as to what color you wanted or had ribbons and things?" cried Peggy wonderingly.

Keineth's face colored a little. "Madame Henri thought plain things better," she explained.

"That's what mother says, but that plain things can be pretty, too. She always lets us choose our color because she says it trains our tastes. And this year, if I don't have a pink dress for best I'm going to make an awful fuss!" "I'd like a pink dress," Keineth agreed shyly, "I never had one!"

Peggy jumped off the trunk.

"Let's tease for pink dresses just alike; and now what do you say to a last game of tennis?"

"Make it doubles! I'll play with Alice," cried Billy, eagerly dropping his work. And with merry laughter they rushed away.

To close Overlook was an almost sacred task to the Lee family. Each did his or her part tenderly, reluctantly. Mrs. Lee and Barbara folded away the pretty hangings; Billy made the garden ready for the fall fertilizing, took Gyp to his winter home at a nearby farm, and put the barn in order; the younger girls helped Nora polish and cover the kitchen utensils.

And never had the days seemed more glorious nor inviting, filled with the hazy September glow that turned everything into gold.

"It's always just the nicest when we have to go to the city," Peggy complained sadly. They were gathered for the last time on the veranda watching the sunset. On the morrow they would return to town. Mr. Lee looked over the young faces—the tanned cheeks and the eyes glowing with health; the straight backs and limbs strong and supple from the summer's exercise.

"You're a fine-looking bunch to begin the winter's work," he laughed. "It ought to be very easy to you youngsters."

"How lucky we are to be able to live like this," Barbara said with a little sigh. She was thinking as she said it that she was often going to be very lonesome for home and this dear circle. Eager as she was to begin her new life in college, she could not bear the breaking of the home ties.

And bravely she had decided she would tell no one of this heartache, for one day she had surprised her mother gently crying over the piles of undergarments they had made ready. Mrs. Lee had tried to laugh as she wiped away her tears.

"I'm just foolish, darling, only it seems such a little while ago that you were a baby, my first baby—and here you are going off to college, away from me!"

So not for the world would Barbara have distressed her mother by showing the ache in her own heart. In answer she had thrown her arms about her mother's neck in a passion of affection.

"I'll always, always, always love home best," she vowed.

And this would not be hard, for the Lees' home, made beautiful by love rather than wealth, was of the sort that would always be "home," and no matter how far one of them might travel or in what gay places linger, would always be "best of all!"

The Lees' city home was not at all like Keineth's old home in New York, nor like Aunt Josephine's pretentious house on Riverside Drive. Though it seemed right in the heart of the city and only a stone's throw from the business centre, it was on a quiet, broad street and had a little yard of its own all around it. The house was built of wood and needed painting, but the walks and lawns were neatly kept. Within it was simple and roomy, with broad halls and wide windows, shaded by the elms outside. Its walls were brown-toned, and yellow hangings covered the white frilled curtains at the windows. There was one big living-room, with rows and rows of bookshelves, easy chairs and soft rugs, a worn davenport in front of the fire, tables with lamps, and books and magazines spread out upon them in inviting disorder. There were flowers here, too, as at Overlook, and Peggy's bird had its home in the big bay of the dining-room, where he welcomed each morning's sunshine with glad song.

Each little girl had a room of her own, too, hung with bright chintz, with covers on the bureau and bed to match. Peggy's and Keineth's had a door opening from one to the other. Billy with his beloved wireless and other things that Peggy called "truck" was happily established in the back of the house.

In a twinkling the entire family was settled in the city, "just as though we'd never been away," Peggy declared. Then two days later Barbara started off for college.

The parting was merry. The girls had helped her pack her trunks; sitting on her bed they had superintended the important process of "doing up" her hair; and then had taken turns carrying to the station the smart patent-leather dressing-case which had been her father's gift. Everyone smiled up to the last moment before the train pulled out of the station—then everyone coughed a great deal and Mr. Lee blew his nose and Mrs. Lee wiped her eyes and Peggy sighed.

"I'd hate to be grown-up," she admitted, and as she walked away she held her mother's hand tightly.

Although Barbara's going made a great gap in the little circle, everyone was too busy to grieve. School began and with it home work; there was basket-ball and dancing school and shopping, hats and shoes to buy. Miss Harris arrived for her annual visit and much time was spent over samples and patterns. And Peggy and Keineth got their pink dresses! Then there were old friends to see, new ones to make and relatives to visit. In this whirl of excitement the Overlook days were soon forgotten!

With the city life a little of Keineth's shyness had returned. She felt lost among Peggy's many friends; the hours when Peggy was in school dragged a little. The simplicity of the Lees' city home had made her homesick for the big house in Washington Square—for its very emptiness! So because of this loneliness she spent hours at the piano eagerly practicing the technic that under Tante had been so tiresome. Mrs. Lee had engaged one of the best masters in the city and Keineth went almost daily to his funny little studio. At first she had been a little afraid of him. He was a Pole, a round-shouldered man with long gray hair that hung over his collar and queer eyes that seemed to look through and through one. But after she had heard him play she lost her shyness, for in his music she heard the voices she loved. He called her "little one," and told her long stories of Liszt and Chopin and the other masters. "They are the people that live forever," he would say.

One rainy afternoon after school Peggy went to Keineth's room and found its door shut. Peggy was cross because a cold had kept her home from basket-ball, and she deeply resented this closed door.

"I s'pose you're doing something you don't want me to know." Her ear had caught the quick rustle of paper. In a moment Keineth had opened the door, but Peggy was turning away with a toss of her head.

"Oh, if you don't want me—"

"Please, Peg," begged Keineth. She pulled her into the room. "I didn't know you were home, honest!"

Peggy glimpsed the corner of a paper half hidden under some books. Upon it were written bars of music.

"You have got a secret," she cried excitedly, "you're writing music! Keineth Randolph, if you don't tell your very best friend, now!"

Keineth, her face scarlet, drew out the tell-tale paper.

"It's just a little thing," she explained shyly. "Your mother showed me how to write last summer, but I wanted to surprise everybody. I was going to tell you, though, when it was done. Peg, I'm going to try to sell it!"

"Sell it! Get real money?" cried Peggy.

"Yes—that's what the masters did—only they were nearly always starving. 'Course I'm not, but I would like to earn some money." "Oh, wouldn't it be fun?" Peggy caught Keineth's elbows and whirled her around. "What would you ever do with it? But where do you sell music? And what is its name?"

"I call it 'The Castle of Dreams,'" answered Keineth with shining eyes. "And Mr. Cadowitz told me there's a music house right here in the city—Brown and Co."

"Let's go there together! Let's go now! Mother's away and it's just the time!"

The sore throat was forgotten. Peggy helped Keineth arrange the sheets in a little roll and together they started forth on their secret errand. They found the music house without any difficulty, but Keineth's courage almost failed her when she found herself confronted by a long line of clerks. To the one who came forward she explained her errand. She wanted to see the manager—she had some music she wished to sell!

At his amused glance her face flushed scarlet.

"Why, you're just a kid!" he answered impudently. "Mr. Brown's pretty busy!" Then it suddenly occurred to him that it would be something like a joke on the "boss" to take these two children to his busy office. The clerk was not overfond of the head of the firm.

"Well, come along," he concluded, winking at the other men. He led the two girls through a labyrinth of offices and up a stairway to the manager's door.

"Two young ladies to see you!" he announced and shut the door of the office quickly behind him.

Keineth, frightened, had to swallow twice before she could make a sound. Then, holding the manuscript out, she explained her errand to the manager. Tipped back in his chair he listened with a smile; however, he took the roll from her and, opening it, glanced over it indifferently.

"Let me play it for you," begged Keineth desperately.

He led them into an inner room in the centre of which stood an open grand piano. Keineth went straight to it and began to play. He listened through to the end.

"Wait a moment;" he waved her back to the stool. "I want Gregory to hear you." The tone of his voice had changed.

In answer to a summons Gregory came in, a thin, tired-looking man. The manager turned to him:

"This girl has brought in some music! I want you to hear it," and he nodded to Keineth to begin.

She played it through again while the two men held the manuscript between them and read as she played. The man called Gregory nodded again and again. His face had suddenly lost its tired look!

"Why, we've found a little gem!" Peggy heard him mutter. Then to Keineth: "What did you say your name was?" Keineth repeated it and the manager wrote it down with Mr. Lee's address. He took the sheets of music, rolled them, and put them in a drawer and locked it.

"We will consider it and let you know in a few weeks," he said. Then he shook hands with Keineth and Peggy. "And if you write anything more, please bring it to us."

"Oh, Peg, wouldn't it be grand if I could sell lots?" cried Keineth later, in an ecstasy of ambition.

"If I wasn't on the street I'd whoop," and Peggy squeezed her friend's arm. "Why, Ken—maybe you'll be a master!"

"And remember, don't tell a soul, Peg! Honor bright, cross your heart!"

"Honor bright, cross my heart!" Peggy promised.



CHAPTER XVIII

CHRISTMAS

"Christmas isn't half as much fun after you don't believe in Santa Claus." Peggy heaved a mighty sigh as she worked her needle in and out of the handkerchief she was hemstitching. "How old were you, Keineth, when you found there wasn't a Santa Claus?"

Keineth did not answer for a moment. Her shining eyes had a far-away look. She did not know what to say to make Peggy understand that, as far back as she could remember, the beloved Santa and the Christmas Spirit and her Daddy had always seemed to be one and the same person. Always on Christmas morning her father had come to her bed, helped her hurry on her slippers and robe and had carried her on his back down the long stairway to the shadowy library where, on a table close to the fireplace, a-twinkle with tiny candles and bright with tinsel, they would find the tree he had trimmed. She could not bear to speak of it Instead she told Peggy of the way she and her father always spent Christmas Eve; how he would take her to a funny little restaurant where they would eat roast pig and little Christmas cakes and then go to the stores and wander along looking into the gaily-trimmed windows.

"You see there are ever and ever so many children near our home that never have any Christmas, and we used to wait for some to come and look into the window. Then Daddy'd invite them to go inside and pick out a toy. They'd be frightened at first, as if they couldn't believe it, but after they'd see Daddy smile they'd look so happy and talk so fast. Daddy always told them to pick out what they'd always wanted and never had, and the boys most always took engines and the girls wanted dolls—dolls with eyes that'd shut and open. Daddy and I used to think that was more fun than getting presents ourselves."

Mrs. Lee had listened with much interest. Her face, as she bent it over her needle-work, was serious.

"If I told you girlies of a family I ran across the other day, would you like to help make their Christmas a little merrier?" They begged her to tell them.

Though Mrs. Lee never lacked time for the many demands of her family and friends, she was a woman who went about among the poor a great deal. Not like Aunt Josephine, who was the president of several charitable societies and sent her yellow car about the poorer parts of New York that Kingston might bestow for her deserving aid in places where she herself could not go—Mrs. Lee worked quietly, going herself into the homes of the sick and needy and carrying with her, besides warm clothing and food, the comfort and cheer that she gave to her own dear ones. No one could know just how much she did, because she rarely spoke of it.

"These people live in a tenement down near the river. The father was crippled in an explosion several years ago and the mother has to work to support her family. There are seven children—the oldest is fifteen. What do you think they do at Christmas—and they love Christmas just the way you do! They take turns having presents! And one of them has been very, very ill this fall, so Tim, whose turn it really is this year, is going to give up his Christmas for Mary. Isn't that fine in Tim? Think of waiting for your turn out of seven and then giving it up."

Peggy threw down her work. "Oh, Mother, can't we make up a jolly basket for them all like we did for the Finnegans two years ago? And put in something extra for Tim because he's so—so fine?"

"That's just what I wanted you to say," and Mrs. Lee smiled at her little girl. "Make out a list of what you want to put in the basket and then when you get your Christmas money you can go shopping."

"Oh, what fun it will be to take the basket there! How old are the children, Mother?"

Peggy brought pencils and paper. The work was laid aside and the children commenced to make the list of things for the basket. Alice and Billy were consulted and agreed eagerly to their plans, Billy deciding that he would take the money he had been saving for a new tool set and with it buy a moving-picture machine for Tim.

Keineth had dreaded Christmas coming without her daddy. But there was so much to do and think about that she had no time to be unhappy. There was much shopping to do and the stores were so exciting. Mrs. Lee had given her the same amount of spending money that Peggy had received and she and Peggy went together to purchase the things for the basket, besides other mysterious packages to be hidden away until Christmas morning. Then one evening there was a family council to decide just what they would do on Christmas.

"We always do this," whispered Peggy to Keineth as they sat close together, "and then we always do just what Alice wants us to do, 'cause she's the baby."

And Alice begged them all to hang up their stockings and to have a tree, if it was just a teeny, weeny one!

"We'll do it," Mr. Lee agreed, as if there had been a moment's doubt of it.

"I suppose we'll go on hanging up our stockings after we're doddering old grandparents," Mrs. Lee had laughed, though there was a suspicion of tears in her eyes.

"Mother and Daddy just spend all their time making everything jolly for us children," Peggy said afterwards. The children were sitting around the table, their school-books before them. "I just wish we could do something that'd be an awful nice surprise for them." She stared thoughtfully at the blank paper before her on which a map ought to be.

"Let's do something on Christmas that they won't know about," suggested Alice.

"What?" put in Billy.

"Janet Clark's cousins have charades Christmas night."

"Oh, charades are stupid!" Billy hated guessing.

Peggy's pencil was going around in tiny circles. She was thinking very hard. Suddenly she sprang to her feet.

"I know! Ken, let's write a play!"

"A play!" cried the others.

"Yes. I've got it all in my head, now. Barb will help us when she comes home. You know Mother is going to invite Aunt Cora and Uncle Tom Jenkins and the Pennys over for dinner Christmas night; we'll surprise them with the play. Marian and Ted and the Penny girls can be in it! Oh, I've always wanted to act! Won't it be fun!"

Peggy's enthusiasm won instant support from the others. Because Peggy and Keineth had recently attended a matinee performance of "The Midsummer Night's Dream," sitting in a box and wearing the new pink dresses, Billy and Alice conceded that they knew more about plays and must manage this. There were hours and hours then spent behind locked doors and Mrs. Lee could hear shrieks of laughter with Peggy's voice rising sternly above it. Now and then she caught glimpses of flying figures draped in pink and white, but because it was Christmas-time and the air full of mystery, she pretended to hear and see nothing.

Barbara returned four days before Christmas, very much of a young lady. Though her manner toward the younger children was at first a little patronizing, after a few hours at home it quickly gave way to the old-time comradeship. As soon as she could Peggy dragged her to her room and read to her the lines of the play which she and Keineth had scribbled on countless sheets of paper. Barbara promised to help. To guard the secret the last rehearsals were held at Marian Jenkins', under Barbara's coaching; and Billy and Ted Jenkins printed the programs on Ted's printing press. "Oh, it's going to be the best part of Christmas," Keineth cried delightedly.

But it was not quite the best, for on Christmas morning, after the children had returned from taking their basket to Tim and his family, Keineth found a cablegram from her Daddy, wishing her a merry, merry Christmas!

Somehow, after that, it seemed as if her joy was complete!

The gifts that the Lee children had found in their stockings had been very simple; beside them the elaborate presents that had come in a box from Aunt Josephine seemed vulgar and showy, although Barbara had cried out in delight at her bracelet. To Keineth and Peggy she had sent tiny wrist watches, circled with turquoise.

"Much too lovely for children like you," had been Mrs. Lee's comment.

While Mrs. Lee was helping Nora prepare the dinner the children put the finishing touches to their costumes and with much whispering arranged the stage for the play. The little tree around which the play must be acted had been put at one end of the long living-room; the door close to it on the right, leading into the hall, would serve as a stage entrance. The only property needed was a rock, and by covering it with a strip of gray awning, the piano stool would look very real.

At six o'clock Aunt Cora and Uncle Tom, Marian and Ted arrived; a little later all the Pennys. Eighteen sat down at the table that creaked with the good things Mrs. Lee and Nora had prepared. Everyone talked at once. Keineth, looking down the length of the room, decked with the holly the children had fastened over doors and windows, thought that nowhere could Christmas be merrier than right there at the Lees! And what helped make the merriment was the comforting thought that Tim and his family were eating a Christmas dinner, too!

At eight o'clock Peggy stole quietly to her mother.

"May we children go up to the playroom, Mummy? It'd be more fun there," she whispered. Mrs. Lee nodded.

The playroom was really a part of the attic, partitioned off and lighted. Here the children donned the cheesecloth costumes they had made. There was a great deal of laughter; Peggy was giving orders to everyone at once! Barbara sat on a trunk pinning wings to fairies' shoulders. And at the last moment Marian brought out some real make-up stuff she had borrowed!

Then Billy, in a clown's robe made out of an old pair of night-drawers and a great deal of paper, went downstairs to give out the programs.

"Oh, do I look like a real actress?" whispered Peggy to Keineth, wildly pulling at her tinsel crown.

"Just beautiful!" Keineth whispered back. "But oh, I'm so scared! I know I won't remember a single line!"



CHAPTER XIX

WHEN THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT WORKED OVERTIME

Peals of laughter greeted Billy's appearance in the living-room. Then everyone read the programs he gave them.

"The rascals!" cried Mr. Lee, genuinely surprised.

"Look at this," whispered Mrs. Lee, pointing to the program.

For at its top was printed in large letters:

WHEN THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT WORKED OVERTIME

BY

PEGGY LEE AND KEINETH RANDOLPH

And the rest of the program read:

The Time of the Play:

Christmas night after the children are supposed to have gone to bed, a little ill from their Christmas candies, and when the grownfolks have gathered together to talk over the day and declare that it's the best Christmas the children have ever had.

The Place:

The living-room at home. And if possible the room should be darkened, except for the lights on the tree, but if this is not convenient it doesn't matter in the least, for the Christmas Spirit is not afraid to walk into the most brightly-lighted room!

The Persons who are in the Play:

The Christmas Spirit Peggy Lee The Christmas Fairies: Happyheart Keineth Randolph Peace Marian Jenkins Goodwill Sally Penny Merrylips Fanny Penny Joy Anne Penny Spirit of Childhood Alice Lee

Jesters {William Lee, Jr. {Edward Jenkins

"I recognize Barbara's hand assisting," laughed Mr. Lee, as he read through the program.

"Sh—h!" The chatter suddenly ceased. Barbara pressed a button that shut off all the lights excepting the twinkling bulbs on the tree. In another room the children sang "Silent Night." As the last sweet note died away, Peggy, in gauzy white with tinsel crown and wings, came slowly into the room. She sank down upon the rock. The play had begun. Spirit (yawns): Goodness me, how tired I am! (Yawns again.) It seems as if there are more children every Christmas. I think after to-night I'll go to bed for a whole year! (Lifts her head suddenly and looks at the tree.) Why, there are no presents on the tree! It must be a party of grownfolks! (Sighs.) I do feel so sorry for grownfolks! They always have to pretend they're having a Christmas. (Springs to her feet.) Perhaps they're here now. (Looks intently at audience.) Yes—they are! I can always tell when grownfolks are around, because I have to work so much harder with them. I must call my fairies. (Spirit steps toward door, puts her hand cup-shape to her mouth.)

Come, oh Christmas fairies all, Answer to the Spirit's call!

(As she calls the fairies Happyheart, Merrylips, Goodwill, and Peace dance into the room, curtsey low to the Spirit and group themselves about her.)

Spirit(holds out welcoming hands): Ah, fairies, what a wonderful day this has been! Did you fill the stockings, Happyheart?

Happyheart: I've filled a million stockings!

Spirit: Splendid! And you, Merrylips?

Merrylips: I've trimmed a million trees—small ones and big ones!

Spirit: Didn't you love it? They smell so good! How went the day with you, Goodwill?

Goodwill: Oh, I've carried baskets of food until I am sure there was not a hungry person in the whole wide world! Spirit: Tell us, Peace, of your work to-day!

Peace: I have gone about since early morning putting songs in people's hearts!

Spirit: You worked well! I have heard the music all day long!

Merrylips (yawns): We're terribly tired!

Spirit (sternly): Hush! Fairies must never be tired when there is work to do! See, I have found a tree! It has these pretty lights but there are no presents!

Happyheart: Who's tree can it be?

Spirit: It is a tree for some grownfolks! You see the children all over the land must have been put to bed a long time ago.

Peace (nods her head): Grownfolks generally do stay up late Christmas night!

Happyheart: They get very sad wishing they were children again!

Merrylips: Christmas is very hard on them, poor things!

Spirit: The men talk about spending so much money and the women sit up late nights stitching and stitching and complaining that they will not give anything but cards another Christmas.

Merrylips: How foolish they are!

Peace: They forget that we will help them!

Happyheart: You see they don't believe in fairies! It's because they are so old! Why, they say that some are over thirty! Goodwill: As if that mattered!

Spirit: But I do feel very sorry for them! They can scarcely remember when they used to hang up their stockings! They will come and gather around this tree and there will be no presents!

Happyheart (sits down upon stool): Oh, dear! (Drops her chin in her hand.) Can't we do something?

Peace: Let's think hard!

Goodwill (sadly): Our real presents are gone. There were so many children this year!

Merrylips: And they make out such long lists! Why, the trees would scarcely hold all the things!

Spirit: We must do what we can to make Christmas merry for these grownfolks.

Happyheart (claps her hands): I can make their hearts light!

Goodwill: I can make them kindly to one another!

Merrylips: I can make them laugh!

Peace: And I can put one of my songs in their hearts!

Spirit (as others make these suggestions she turns toward the tree, deep in thought; suddenly she wheels around): Your gifts are priceless but, somehow, I wish we had something besides them for these grownfolks!

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