Infomotions, Inc.Helen's Babies / Habberton, John, 1842-1921



Author: Habberton, John, 1842-1921
Title: Helen's Babies
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): toddie; budge; mayton; miss mayton; uncle harry; harry; papa; ocken hawwy; uncle; alice mayton
Contributor(s): Gottheil, Richard James Horatio, 1862-1936 [Contributor]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 40,393 words (really short) Grade range: 9-11 (high school) Readability score: 62 (easy)
Identifier: etext4281
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Title: Helen's Babies

Author: John Habberton

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HELEN'S BABIES

With some account of their ways, innocent, crafty, angelic,
impish, witching and impulsive; also a partial record of their
actions during ten days of their existence

By JOHN HABBERTON



The first cause, so far as it can be determined, of the existence
of this book may be found in the following letter, written by my
only married sister, and received by me, Harry Burton, salesman of
white goods, bachelor, aged twenty-eight, and received just as I
was trying to decide where I should Spend a fortnight's vacation:--



"HILLCREST, June 15, 1875.

"DEAR HARRY:--Remembering that you are always complaining that you
never have a chance to read, and knowing that you won't get it
this summer, if you spend your vacation among people of your own
set, I write to ask you to come up here. I admit that I am not
wholly disinterested in inviting you. The truth is, Tom and I are
invited to spend a fortnight with my old schoolmate, Alice Wayne,
who, you know, is the dearest girl in the world, though you DIDN'T
obey me and marry her before Frank Wayne appeared. Well, we're
dying to go, for Alice and Frank live in splendid style; but as
they haven't included our children in their invitation, and have
no children of their own, we must leave Budge and Toddie at home.
I've no doubt they'll be perfectly safe, for my girl is a jewel,
and devoted to the children, but I would feel a great deal easier
if there was a man in the house. Besides, there's the silver, and
burglars are less likely to break into a house where there's a
savage-looking man. (Never mind about thanking me for the
compliment.) If YOU'LL only come up, my mind will be completely at
rest. The children won't give you the slightest trouble; they're
the best children in the world--everybody says so.

"Tom has plenty of cigars, I know, for the money I should have had
for a new suit went to pay his cigar-man. He has some new claret,
too, that HE goes into ecstasies over, though _I_ can't tell it
from the vilest black ink, except by the color. Our horses are in
splendid condition, and so is the garden--you see I don't forget
your old passion for flowers. And, last and best, there never were
so many handsome girls at Hillcrest as there are among the summer
boarders already here; the girls you already are acquainted with
here will see that you meet all the newer acquisitions.

"Reply by telegraph right away. "Of course you'll say 'Yes.' "In
great haste, your loving

"SISTER HELEN.

P. S. You shall have our own chamber; it catches every breeze, and
commands the finest views. The children's room communicates with
it; so, if anything SHOULD happen to the darlings at night, you'd
be sure to hear them."

"Just the thing!" I ejaculated. Five minutes later I had
telegraphed Helen my acceptance of her invitation, and had
mentally selected books enough to busy me during a dozen
vacations. Without sharing Helen's belief that her boys were the
best ones in the world, I knew them well enough to feel assured
that they would not give me any annoyance. There were two of them,
since Baby Phil died last fall; Budge, the elder, was five years
of age, and had generally, during my flying visits to Helen, worn
a shy, serious, meditative, noble face, with great, pure,
penetrating eyes, that made me almost fear their stare. Tom
declared he was a born philanthropist or prophet, and Helen made
so free with Miss Muloch's lines as to sing:--

    "Ah, the day that THOU goest a-wooing,
    Budgie, my boy!"

Toddie had seen but three summers, and was a happy little know-
nothing, with a head full of tangled yellow hair, and a very
pretty fancy for finding out sunbeams and dancing in them. I had
long envied Tom his horses, his garden, his house and his
location, and the idea of controlling them for a fortnight was
particularly delightful. Tom's taste in cigars and claret I had
always respected, while the lady inhabitants of Hillcrest were,
according to my memory, much like those of every other suburban
village, the fairest of their sex.

Three days later I made the hour and a half trip between New York
and Hillcrest, and hired a hackman to drive me over to Tom's. Half
a mile from my brother-in-law's residence, our horses shied
violently, and the driver, after talking freely to them, turned to
me and remarked:--

"That was one of the 'Imps.'"

"What was?" I asked.

"That little cuss that scared the hosses. There he is, now,
holdin' up that piece of brushwood. 'Twould be just like his
cheek, now, to ask me to let him ride. Here he comes, runnin'.
Wonder where t'other is?--they most generally travel together. We
call 'em the Imps, about these parts, because they're so uncommon
likely at mischief. Always skeerin' hosses, or chasin' cows, or
frightenin' chickens. Nice enough father an' mother, too--queer,
how young ones do turn out."

As he spoke, the offending youth came panting beside our carriage,
and in a very dirty sailor-suit, and under a broad-brimmed straw
hat, with one stocking about his ankle, and two shoes, averaging
about two buttons each, I recognized my nephew, Budge! About the
same time there emerged from the bushes by the roadside a smaller
boy in a green gingham dress, a ruffle which might once have been
white, dirty stockings, blue slippers worn through at the toes,
and an old-fashioned straw-turban. Thrusting into the dust of the
road a branch from a bush, and shouting, "Here's my grass-cutter!"
he ran toward us enveloped in a "pillar of cloud," which might
have served the purpose of Israel in Egypt. When he paused and the
dust had somewhat subsided, I beheld the unmistakable lineaments
of the child Toddie!

"They're--my nephews," I gasped.

"What!" exclaimed the driver. "By gracious! I forgot you were
going to Colonel Lawrence's! I didn't tell anything but the truth
about 'em, though; they're smart enough, an' good enough, as boys
go; but they'll never die of the complaint that children has in
Sunday-school books."

"Budge," said I, with all the sternness I could command, "do you
know me?"

The searching eyes of the embryo prophet and philanthropist
scanned me for a moment, then their owner replied:--

"Yes; you're Uncle Harry. Did you bring us anything?"

"Bring us anything?" echoed Toddie.

"I wish I could have brought you some big whippings," said I, with
great severity of manner, "for behaving so badly. Get into this
carriage."

"Come on, Tod," shouted Budge, although Toddie's farther ear was
not a yard from Budge's mouth. "Uncle Harry's going to take us
riding!"

"Going to take us riding!" echoed Toddie, with the air of one in a
reverie; both the echo and the reverie I soon learned were
characteristics of Toddie.

As they clambered into the carriage I noticed that each one
carried a very dirty towel, knotted in the center into what is
known as a slip-noose knot, drawn very tight. After some moments
of disgusted contemplation of these rags, without being in the
least able to comprehend their purpose, I asked Budge what those
towels were for.

"They're not towels--they're dollies," promptly answered my
nephew.

"Goodness!" I exclaimed. "I should think your mother could buy you
respectable dolls, and not let you appear in public with those
loathsome rags."

"We don't like buyed dollies," explained Budge. "These dollies is
lovely; mine's name is Mary, an' Toddie's is Marfa."

"Marfa?" I queried.

"Yes; don't you know about

    "Marfa and Mary's jus' gone along
    To ring dem charmin' bells,

that them Jubilee sings about?"

"Oh, Martha, you mean?"

"Yes, Marfa--that's what I say. Toddie's dolly's got brown eyes,
an' my dolly's got blue eyes."

"I want to shee yours watch," remarked Toddie, snatching at my
chain, and rolling into my lap.

"Oh--oo--ee, so do I," shouted Budge, hastening to occupy one
knee, and IN TRANSITU wiping his shoes on my trousers and the
skirts of my coat. Each imp put an arm about me to steady himself,
as I produced my three-hundred-dollar time-keeper and showed them
the dial.

"I want to see the wheels go round," said Budge.

"Want to shee wheels go wound," echoed Toddie.

"No; I can't open my watch where there's so much dust," I said.

"What for?" inquired Budge.

"Want to shee the wheels go wound," repeated Toddie.

"The dust gets inside the watch and spoils it," I explained.

"Want to shee the wheels go wound," said Toddie, once more.

"I tell you I can't, Toddie," said I, with considerable asperity.
"Dust spoils watches."

The innocent gray eyes looked up wonderingly, the dirty, but
pretty lips parted slightly, and Toddie murmured:--

"Want to shee the wheels go wound."

I abruptly closed my watch and put it into my pocket. Instantly
Toddie's lower lip commenced to turn outward, and continued to do
so until I seriously feared the bony portion of his chin would be
exposed to view. Then his lower jaw dropped, and he cried:--

"Ah--h--h--h--h--h--want--to--shee--the wheels--go wou--OUND."

"Charles" (Charles is his baptismal name),--"Charles," I
exclaimed with some anger, "stop that noise this instant! Do you
hear me?"

"Yes--oo--oo--oo--ahoo--ahoo."

"Then stop it."

"Wants to shee--"

"Toddie, I've got some candy in my trunk, but I won't give you a
bit if you don't stop that infernal noise."

"Well, I wants to shee wheels go wound. Ah--ah--h--h--h--h!"

"Toddie, dear, don't cry so. Here's some ladies coming in a
carriage; you wouldn't let THEM see you crying, would you? You
shall see the wheels go round as soon as we get home."

A carriage containing a couple of ladies was rapidly approaching,
as Toddie again raised his voice.

"Ah--h--h--wants to shee wheels--"

Madly I snatched my watch from my pocket, opened the case, and
exposed the works to view. The other carriage was meeting ours,
and I dropped my head to avoid meeting the glance of the unknown
occupants, for my few moments of contact with my dreadful nephews
had made me feel inexpressibly unneat. Suddenly the carriage with
the ladies stopped. I heard my own name spoken, and raising my
head quickly (encountering Budge's bullet head EN ROUTE to the
serious disarrangement of my hat), I looked into the other
carriage. There, erect, fresh, neat, composed, bright-eyed, fair-
faced, smiling and observant,--she would have been all this, even
if the angel of the resurrection had just sounded his dreadful
trump,--sat Miss Alice Mayton, a lady who, for about a year, I had
been adoring from afar.

"When did YOU arrive, Mr. Burton?" she asked, "and how long have
you been officiating as child's companion? You're certainly a
happy-looking trio--so unconventional. I hate to see children all
dressed up and stiff as little manikins, when they go out to ride.
And you look as if you had been having SUCH a good time with
them."

"I--I assure you, Miss Mayton," said I, "that my experience has
been the exact reverse of a pleasant one. If King Herod were yet
alive I'd volunteer as an executioner, and engage to deliver two
interesting corpses at a moment's notice."

"You dreadful wretch!" exclaimed the lady. "Mother, let me make
you acquainted with Mr. Burton,--Helen Lawrence's brother. How is
your sister, Mr. Burton?"

"I don't know," I replied; "she has gone with her husband on a
fortnight's visit to Captain and Mrs. Wayne, and I've been silly
enough to promise to have an eye to the place while they're away."

"Why, how delightful!" exclaimed Miss Mayton. "SUCH horses! SUCH
flowers! SUCH a cook!"

"And such children," said I, glaring suggestively at the imps, and
rescuing from Toddie a handkerchief which he had extracted from my
pocket, and was waving to the breeze.

"Why, they're the best children in the world. Helen told me so the
first time I met her this season! Children will be children, you
know. We had three little cousins with us last summer, and I'm
sure they made me look years older than I really am."

"How young you must be, then, Miss Mayton!" said I. I suppose I
looked at her as if I meant what I said, for, although she
inclined her head and said, "Oh, thank you," she didn't seem to
turn my compliment off in her usual invulnerable style. Nothing
happening in the course of conversation ever discomposed Alice
Mayton for more than a hundred seconds, however, so she soon
recovered her usual expression and self-command, as her next
remark fully indicated.

"I believe you arranged the floral decorations at the St.
Zephaniah's Fair, last winter, Mr. Burton? 'Twas the most tasteful
display of the season. I don't wish to give any hints, but at Mrs.
Clarkson's, where we're boarding, there's not a flower in the
whole garden. I break the Tenth Commandment dreadfully every time
I pass Colonel Lawrence's garden. Good-by, Mr. Burton."

"Ah, thank you; I shall be delighted. Good-by."

"Of course you'll call," said Miss Mayton, as her carriage
started,--"it's dreadfully stupid here--no men except on Sundays."

I bowed assent. In the contemplation of all the shy possibilities
which my short chat with Miss Mayton had suggested, I had quite
forgotten my dusty clothing and the two living causes thereof.
While in Miss Mayton's presence the imps had preserved perfect
silence, but now their tongues were loosened.

"Uncle Harry," said Budge, "do you know how to make whistles?"

"Ucken Hawwy," murmured Toddie, "does you love dat lady?"

"No, Toddie, of course not."

"Then you's baddy man, an' de Lord won't let you go to heaven if
you don't love peoples."

"Yes, Budge," I answered hastily, "I do know how to make whistles,
and you shall have one."

"Lord don't like mans what don't love peoples," reiterated Toddie.

"All right, Toddie," said I. "I'll see if I can't please the Lord
some way. Driver, whip up, won't you? I'm in a hurry to turn these
youngsters over to the girl, and ask her to drop them into the
bath-tub."

I found Helen had made every possible arrangement for my comfort.
Her room commanded exquisite views of mountain-slope and valley,
and even the fact that the imps' bedroom adjoined mine gave me
comfort, for I thought of the pleasure of contemplating them while
they were asleep, and beyond the power of tormenting their deluded
uncle.

At the supper-table Budge and Toddie appeared cleanly clothed in
their rightful faces. Budge seated himself at the table; Toddie
pushed back his high-chair, climbed into it, and shouted:

"Put my legs under ze tabo."

Rightfully construing this remark as a request to be moved to the
table, I fulfilled his desire. The girl poured tea for me and milk
for the children, and retired; and then I remembered, to my
dismay, that Helen never had a servant in the dining-room except
upon grand occasions, her idea being that servants retail to their
friends the cream of the private conversation of the family
circle. In principle I agreed with her, but the penalty of the
practical application, with these two little cormorants on my
hands, was greater suffering than any I had ever been called upon
to endure for principle's sake; but there was no help for it. I
resignedly rapped on the table, bowed my head, said, "From what we
are about to receive, the Lord make us thankful," and asked Budge
whether he ate bread or biscuit.

"Why, we ain't asked no blessin' yet," said he.

"Yes, I did, Budge," said I. "Didn't you hear me?"

"Do you mean what you said just now?"

"Yes."

"Oh, I don't think that was no blessin' at all. Papa never says
that kind of a blessin'."

"What does papa say, may I ask?" I inquired, with becoming
meekness.

"Why, papa says, 'Our Father, we thank thee for this food;
mercifully remember with us all the hungry and needy to-day, for
Christ's sake, Amen.' That's what he says."

"It means the same thing, Budge."

"_I_ don't think it does; and Toddie didn't have no time to say
HIS blessin'. I don't think the Lord'll like it if you do it that
way."

"Yes, he will, old boy; he knows what people mean."

"Well, how can he tell what Toddie means if Toddie can't say
anything?"

"Wantsh to shay my blessin'," whined Toddie.

It was enough; my single encounter with Toddie had taught me to
respect the young gentleman's force of character. So again I bowed
my head, and repeated what Budge had reported as "papa's
blessin'," Budge kindly prompting me where my memory failed. The
moment I began, Toddie commenced to jabber rapidly and aloud, and
the instant the "Amen" was pronounced he raised his head and
remarked with evident satisfaction:--

"I shed my blessin' TWO timesh."

And Budge said gravely:--

"NOW I guess we are all right."

The supper was an exquisite one, but the appetites of those
dreadful children effectually prevented my enjoying the repast. I
hastily retired, called the girl, and instructed, her to see that
the children had enough to eat, and were put to bed immediately
after; then I lit a cigar and strolled into the garden. The roses
were just in bloom, the air was full of the perfume of
honeysuckles, the rhododendrons had not disappeared, while I saw
promise of the early unfolding of many other pet flowers of mine.
I confess that I took a careful survey of the garden to see how
fine a bouquet I might make for Miss Mayton, and was so abundantly
satisfied with the material before me that I longed to begin the
work at once, but that it would seem too hasty for true gentility.
So I paced the paths, my hands behind my back, and my face well
hidden by fragrant clouds of smoke, and went into wondering and
reveries. I wondered if there was any sense in the language of
flowers, of which I had occasionally seen mention made by silly
writers; I wished I had learned it if it had any meaning; I
wondered if Miss Mayton understood it. At any rate, I fancied I
could arrange flowers to the taste of any lady whose face I had
ever seen; and for Alice Mayton I would make something so superb
that her face could not help lighting up when she beheld it. I
imagined just how her bluish-gray eyes would brighten, her cheeks
would redden,--not with sentiment, not a bit of it; but with
genuine pleasure,--how her strong lips would part slightly and
disclose sweet lines not displayed when she held her features well
in hand. I--I, a clear-headed, driving, successful salesman of
white goods--actually wished I might be divested of all
nineteenth-century abilities and characteristics, and be one of
those fairies that only silly girls and crazy poets think of, and
might, unseen, behold the meeting of my flowers with this highly
cultivated specimen of the only sort of flowers our cities
produce. What flower did she most resemble? A lily?--no; too--not
exactly too bold, but too--too, well, I couldn't think of the
word, but clearly it wasn't bold. A rose! Certainly, not like
those glorious but blazing remontants, nor yet like the shy,
delicate, ethereal tea-roses with their tender suggestions of
color. Like this perfect Gloire de Dijon, perhaps; strong,
vigorous, self-asserting, among its more delicate sisterhood; yet
shapely, perfect in outline and development, exquisite, enchanting
in its never fully-analyzed tints, yet compelling the admiration
of every one, and recalling its admirers again and again by the
unspoken appeal of its own perfection--its unvarying radiance.

"Ah--h--h--h--ee--ee--ee--ee--ee--oo--oo--oo--oo" came from the
window over my head. Then came a shout of--"Uncle Harry!" in a
voice I recognized as that of Budge. I made no reply: there are
moments when the soul is full of utterances unfit to be heard by
childish ears. "Uncle Har-RAY!" repeated Budge. Then I heard a
window-blind open, and Budge exclaiming:--

"Uncle Harry, we want you to come and tell us stories."

I turned my eyes upward quickly, and was about to send a savage
negative in the same direction, when I saw in the window a face
unknown and yet remembered. Could those great, wistful eyes, that
angelic mouth, that spiritual expression, belong to my nephew
Budge? Yes, it must be--certainly that super-celestial nose and
those enormous ears never belonged to any one else. I turned
abruptly, and entered the house, and was received at the head of
the stairway by two little figures in white, the larger of which
remarked:--

"We want you tell us stories--papa always does nights."

"Very well, jump into bed--what kind of stories do you like?"

"Oh, 'bout Jonah," said Budge.

"'Bout Jonah," echoed Toddie.

"Well, Jonah was out in the sun one day and a gourd-vine grew up
all of a sudden, and made it nice and shady for him, and then it
all faded as quick as it came."

A dead silence prevailed for a moment, and then Budge indignantly
remarked:--

 "That ain't Jonah a bit--_I_ know 'bout Jonah."

"Oh, you do, do you?" said I. "Then maybe you'll be so good as to
enlighten me?"

"Huh?"

"If you know about Jonah, tell me the story; I'd really enjoy
listening to it."

"Well," said Budge, "once upon a time the Lord told Jonah to go to
Nineveh and tell the people they was all bad. But Jonah didn't
want to go, so he went on a boat that was going to Joppa. And then
there was a big storm, an' it rained an' blowed and the big waves
went as high as a house. An' the sailors thought there must be
somebody on the boat that the Lord didn't like. An' Jonah said he
guessed HE was the man. So they picked him up and froed him in the
ocean, an' I don't think it was well for 'em to do that after
Jonah told the troof. An' a big whale was comin' along, and he was
awful hungry, cos the little fishes what he likes to eat all went
down to the bottom of the ocean when it began to storm, and whales
can't go to the bottom of the ocean, cos they have to come up to
breeve, an' little fishes don't. An' Jonah found 'twas all dark
inside the whale, and there wasn't any fire there, an' it was all
wet, and he couldn't take off his clothes to dry, cos there wasn't
no place to hang 'em, an' there wasn't no windows to look out of,
nor nothin' to eat, nor nothin' nor nothin' nor nothin.' So he
asked the Lord to let Mm out, an' the Lord was sorry for him, an'
he made the whale go up close to the land, an' Jonah jumped right
out of his mouth, an' WASN'T he glad? An' then he went to Nineveh,
an' done what the Lord told him to, and he ought to have done it
in the first place if he had known what was good for him."

"Done first payshe, know what's dood for him," asserted Toddie, in
support of his brother's assertion. "Tell us 'nudder story."

"Oh, no, sing us a song," suggested Budge.

"Shing us shong," echoed Toddie.

I searched my mind for a song, but the only one which came
promptly was "M'Appari," several bars of which I gave my juvenile
audience, when Budge interrupted me, saying:--

"I don't think that's a very good song."

"Why not, Budge?"

"Cos I don't. I don't know a word what you're talking 'bout."

"Shing 'bout 'Glory, glory, hallelulyah,'" suggested Toddie, and I
meekly obeyed. The old air has a wonderful influence over me. I
heard it in western camp-meetings and negro-cabins when I was a
boy; I saw the 22d Massachusetts march down Broadway, singing the
same air during the rush to the front during the early days of the
war; I have heard it sung by warrior tongues in nearly every
Southern State; I heard it roared by three hundred good old Hunker
Democrats as they escorted New York's first colored regiment to
their place of embarkation; my old brigade sang it softly, but
with a swing that was terrible in its earnestness, as they lay
behind their stacks of arms just before going to action; I have
heard it played over the grave of many a dead comrade; the semi-
mutinous--the cavalry became peaceful and patriotic again as their
band-master played the old air after having asked permission to
try HIS hand on them; it is the same that burst forth
spontaneously in our barracks, on that glorious morning when we
learned that the war was over, and it was sung, with words adapted
to the occasion, by some good rebel friends of mine, on our first
social meeting after the war. All these recollections came
hurrying into my mind as I sang, and probably excited me beyond my
knowledge, for Budge suddenly remarked:--

"Don't sing that all day, Uncle Harry; you sing so loud, it hurts
my head."

"Beg your pardon, Budge," said I. "Good-night."

"Why, Uncle Harry, are you going? You didn't hear us say our
prayers,--papa always does."

"Oh! Well, go ahead."

"You must say yours first," said Budge; "that's the way papa
does."

"Very well," said I, and I repeated St. Chrysostom's prayer, from
the Episcopal service. I had hardly said "Amen," when Budge
remarked:--

"My papa don't say any of them things at all; I don't think that's
a very good prayer,"

"Well, you say a good prayer, Budge."

"Allright." Budge shut his eyes, dropped his voice to the most
perfect tone of supplication, while his face seemed fit for a
sleeping angel, then he said:--

"Dear Lord, we thank you for lettin' us have a good time to-day,
an' we hope all the little boys everywhere have had good times
too. We pray you to take care of us an' everybody else to-night,
an' don't let 'em have any trouble. Oh, yes, an' Uncle Harry's got
some candy in his trunk, cos he said so in the carriage,--we thank
you for lettin' Uncle Harry come to see us, an' we hope he's got
LOTS of candy--lots an' piles. An' we pray you to take good care
of all the poor little boys and girls that haven't got any papas
an' mammas an' Uncle Harrys an' candy an' beds to sleep in. An'
take us all to Heaven when we die, for Christ's sake. Amen. Now
give us the candy, Uncle Harry."

"Hush, Budge; don't Toddie say any prayers?"

"Oh yes; go on, Tod."

Toddie closed his eyes, wriggled, twisted, breathed hard and
quick, acting generally as if prayers were principally a matter of
physical exertion. At last he began:--

"Dee Lord, not make me sho bad, an' besh mamma, an' papa, an'
Budgie, and doppity, [Footnote: Grandmother.] an' both boggies,
[Footnote: Grandfathers.] an' all good people in dish house, and
everybody else, an' my dolly. A--a--amen!"

"Now give us the candy," said Budge, with the usual echo from
Toddie.

I hastily extracted the candy from my trunk, gave some to each
boy, the recipients fairly shrieking with delight, and once more
said good-night.

"Oh, you didn't give us any pennies," said Budge. "Papa gives us
some to put in our banks, every nights."

"Well, I haven't got any now--wait until to-morrow."

"Then we want drinks."

"I'll let Maggie bring you drink."

"Want my dolly," murmured Toddie.

I found the knotted towels, took the dirty things up gingerly and
threw them upon the bed.

"Now want to shee wheels go wound," said Toddie.

I hurried out of the room and slammed the door. I looked at my
watch--it was half-past eight; I had spent an hour and a half with
those dreadful children. They WERE funny to be sure--I found
myself laughing in spite of my indignation. Still, if they were to
monopolize my time as they had already done, when was I to do my
reading? Taking Fiske's "Cosmic Philosophy" from my trunk I
descended to the back parlor, lit a cigar and a student-lamp, and
began to read. I had not fairly commenced when I heard a patter of
small feet, and saw my elder nephew before me. There was sorrowful
protestation in every line of his countenance, as he exclaimed:--

"You didn't say 'Good-by' nor 'God bless you' nor anything."

"Oh--good-by."

"Good-by."

"God bless you."

"God bless you."

Budge seemed waiting for something else. At last he said:--

"Papa says, 'God bless everybody.'"

"Well, God bless everybody."

"God bless everybody," responded Budge, and turned silently and
went up-stairs.

"Bless your tormenting honest little heart," I said to myself; "if
men trusted God as you do your papa, how little business there'd
be for preachers to do."

The night was a perfect one. The pure fresh air, the perfume of
the flowers, the music of the insect choir in the trees and
shrubbery--the very season itself seemed to forbid my reading
philosophy, so I laid Fiske aside, delighted myself with a few
rare bits from Paul Hayne's new volume of poems, read a few
chapters of "One Summer," and finally sauntered off to bed. My
nephews were slumbering sweetly; it seemed impossible that the
pure, exquisite, angelic faces before me belonged to my tormentors
of a few hours before. As I lay on my couch I could see the dark
shadow and rugged crest of the mountain; above it, the silver
stars against the blue, and below it the rival lights of the
fireflies against the dark background formed by the mountain
itself. No rumbling of wheels tormented me, nor any of the
thousand noises that fill city air with the spirit of unrest, and
I fell into a wonder almost indignant that sensible, comfortable,
loving beings could live in horrible New York, while such
delightful rural homes were so near at hand. Then Alice Mayton
came into my mind, and then a customer; later, stars and
trademarks, and bouquets, and dirty nephews, and fireflies and bad
accounts, and railway tickets, and candy and Herbert Spencer,
mixed themselves confusingly in my mind. Then a vision of a proud
angel, in the most fashionable attire and a modern carriage, came
and banished them all by its perfect radiance, and I was sinking
in the most blissful unconsciousness--

"Ah--h--h--h--h--h--oo--oo--oo--oo--ee--ee--ee--"

"Sh--h--h!" I hissed.

The warning was heeded, and I soon relapsed into oblivion.

"Ah--h--h--h--oo--oo--ee--ee--ee--BE--ee."

"Toddie, do you want uncle to whip you?"

"No."

"Then lie still."

"Well, Ize lost my dolly, an' I tant find her anywhere."

"Well, I'll find her for you in the morning."

"Oo--oo--ee--I wants my dolly."

"Well, I tell you I'll find her for you in the morning."

"I want her NOW--oo--oo--"

"You can't have her now, so you can go to sleep."

"Oh--oo--oo--oo--ee--"

Springing madly to my feet, I started for the offender's room. I
encountered a door ajar by the way, my forehead being first to
discover it. I ground my teeth, lit a candle, and said something--
no matter what.

"Oh, you said a bad swear!" ejaculated Toddie. "You won't go to
heaven when you die."

"Neither will you, if you howl like a little, demon all night. Are
you going to be quiet, now?"

"Yesh, but I wants my dolly."

"_I_ don't know where your dolly is--do you suppose I'm going to
search this entire house for that confounded dolly?"

"'TAIN'T 'founded. I wants my dolly." "I don't know where it is;
you don't think I stole your dolly, do you?"

"Well, I wants it, in de bed wif me."

"Charles," said I, "when you arise in morning, I hope your doll
will be found. At present, however, you must be resigned and go to
sleep. I'll cover you up nicely;" here I began to rearrange the
bed-clothing, when the fateful dolly, source of all my woes,
tumbled out of them. Toddie clutched it, his whole face lighting
up with affectionate delight, and he screamed:--

"Oh, dare is my dee dolly: tum to your own papa, dolly, an' I'll
love you."

And that ridiculous child was so completely satisfied by his
outlay of affection that my own indignation gave place to genuine
artistic pleasure. One CAN tire of even beautiful pictures,
though, when he is not fully awake, and is holding a candle in a
draught of air; so I covered my nephews and returned to my own
room, where I mused upon the contradictoriness of childhood until
I fell asleep.

In the morning I was awakened very early by the light streaming in
the window, the blinds of which I had left open the night before.
The air was alive with bird-songs, and the eastern sky was
flushing with tints which no painter's canvas ever caught. But
ante-sunrise skies and songs are not fit subjects for the
continued contemplation of men who read until midnight; so I
hastily closed the blinds, drew the shade, dropped the curtains
and lay down again, dreamily thanking heaven that I was to fall
asleep to such exquisite music. I am sure that I mentally forgave
all my enemies as I dropped off into a most delicious doze, but
the sudden realization that a light hand was passing over my cheek
roused me to savage anger in an instant. I sprang up, and saw
Budge shrink timidly away from my bedside.

"I was only a-lovin' you, cos you was good, and brought us candy.
Papa lets us love him whenever we want to--every morning he does."

"As early as this?" demanded I.

"Yes, just as soon as we can see, if we want to."

Poor Tom! I never COULD comprehend why with a good wife, a
comfortable income, and a clear conscience, he need always look
thin and worn--worse than he ever did in Virginia woods or
Louisiana swamps. But now I knew all. And yet, what could one do?
That child's eyes and voice, and his expression, which exceeded in
sweetness that of any of the angels I had ever imagined,--that
child could coax a man to do more self-forgetting deeds than the
shortening of his precious sleeping-hours amounted to. In fact, he
was fast divesting me of my rightful sleepiness, so I kissed him
and said:--

"Run to bed, now, dear old fellow, and let uncle go to sleep
again. After breakfast, I'll make you a whistle."

"Oh, will you?" The angel turned into a boy at once. "Yes; now run
along."

"A LOUD whistle--a real loud one?"

"Yes, but not if you don't go right back to bed."

The sound of little footsteps receded as I turned over and closed
my eyes. Speedily the bird-song seemed to grow fainter; my
thoughts dropped to pieces; I seemed to be floating on fleecy
clouds, in company with hundreds of cherubs with Budge's features
and night-drawers--

"Uncle Harry!"

May the Lord forget the prayer I put up just then!

"Uncle Harry!"

"I'll discipline you, my fine little boy," thought I. "Perhaps, if
I let you shriek your abominable little throat hoarse, you'll
learn better than to torment your uncle, that was just getting
ready to love you dearly."

"Uncle Har-RAY!"

"Howl, away, you little imp," thought I. "You've got me wide
awake, and your lungs may suffer for it." Suddenly I heard,
although in sleepy tones, and with a lazy drawl, some words which
appalled me. The murmurer was Toddie:--

"Want--she--wheels--go--wound."

"Budge!" I shouted, in the desperation of my dread lest Toddie,
too, might wake up, "what DO you want?"

"Uncle Harry!"

"WHAT!"

"Uncle Harry, what kind of wood are you going to make the whistle
out of?"

"I won't make any at all--I'll cut a big stick and give you a
sound whipping with it, for not keeping quiet, as I told you to."'

"Why, Uncle Harry, papa don't whip us with sticks--he spanks us."

Heavens! Papa! papa! papa! Was I never to have done with this
eternal quotation of "papa"? I was horrified to find myself
gradually conceiving a dire hatred of my excellent brother-in-law.
One thing was certain, at any rate: sleep was no longer possible;
so I hastily dressed, and went into the garden. Among the beauty
and the fragrance of the flowers, and in the delicious morning
air, I succeeded in regaining my temper, and was delighted, on
answering the breakfast-bell, two hours later, to have Budge
accost me with:--

"Why, Uncle Harry, where was you? We looked all over the house for
you, and couldn't find a speck of you."

The breakfast was an excellent one. I afterward learned that
Helen, dear old girl, had herself prepared a bill of fare for
every meal I should take in the house. As the table talk of myself
and nephews was not such as could do harm by being repeated, I
requested Maggie, the servant, to wait upon the children, and I
accompanied my request with a small treasury note. Relieved, thus,
of all responsibility for the dreadful appetites of my nephews, I
did full justice to the repast, and even regarded with some
interest and amusement the industry of Budge and Toddie with their
tiny forks and spoons. They ate rapidly for a while, but soon
their appetites weakened and their tongues were unloosed.

"Ocken Hawwy," remarked Toddie, "daysh an awfoo funny chunt up
'tairs--awfoo BIG chunt. I show it you after brepspup."

"Toddie's a silly little boy," said Budge; "he always says
brepspup for brekbux." [Footnote: Breakfast.]

"Oh! What does he mean by chunt, Budge?"

"I GUESS he means trunk," replied my oldest nephew.

Recollections of my childish delight in rummaging an old trunk--it
seems a century ago that I did it--caused me to smile
sympathetically at Toddie, to his apparent great delight. How
delightful it is to strike a sympathetic chord in child-nature,
thought I; how quickly the infant eye comprehends the look which
precedes the verbal expression of an idea! Dear Toddie! for years
we might sit at one table, careless of each other's words, but the
casual mention of one of thy delights has suddenly brought our
souls into that sweetest of all human communions--that one which
doubtless bound the Master himself to that apostle who was
otherwise apparently the weakest among the chosen twelve. "An
awfoo funny chunt" seemed to annihilate suddenly all differences
of age, condition and experience between the wee boy and myself,
and--

A direful thought struck me. I dashed up-stairs and into my room.
Yes, he DID mean my trunk. _I_ could see nothing funny about it--
quite the contrary. The bond of sympathy between my nephew and
myself was suddenly broken. Looking at the matter from the
comparative distance which a few weeks have placed between that
day and this, I can see that I was unable to consider the scene
before me with a calm and unprejudiced mind. I am now satisfied
that the sudden birth and hasty decease of my sympathy with Toddie
were striking instances of human inconsistency. My soul had gone
out to his because he loved to rummage in trunks, and because I
imagined he loved to see the monument of incongruous material
which resulted from such an operation; the scene before me showed
clearly that I had rightly divined my nephew's nature. And yet my
selfish instincts hastened to obscure my soul's vision, and to
prevent that joy which should ensue when "Faith is lost in full
fruition."

My trunk had contained nearly everything, for while a campaigner I
had learned to reduce packing to an exact science. Now, had there
been an atom of pride in my composition I might have glorified
myself, for it certainly seemed as if the heap upon the floor
could never have come out of a single trunk. Clearly, Toddie was
more of a general connoisseur than an amateur in packing. The
method of his work I quickly discerned, and the discovery threw
some light upon the size of the heap in front of my trunk. A
dress-hat and its case, when their natural relationship is
dissolved, occupy nearly twice as much space as before, even if
the former contains a blacking-box not usually kept in it, and the
latter contains a few cigars soaking in bay rum. The same might be
said of a portable dressing-case and its contents, bought for me
in Vienna by a brother ex-soldier, and designed by an old
continental campaigner to be perfection itself. The straps which
prevented the cover from falling entirely back had been cut,
broken or parted in some way, and in its hollow lay my dresscoat,
tightly rolled up. Snatching it up with a violent exclamation, and
unrolling it, there dropped from it--one of those infernal dolls.
At the same time a howl was sounded from the doorway.

"You tookted my dolly out of her cradle--I want to wock my
dolly--oo--oo--oo--ee--ee--ee--"

"You young scoundrel," I screamed--yes, howled, I was so enraged--
"I've a great mind to cut your throat this minute. What do you
mean by meddling with my trunk?"

"I--doe--know." Outward turned Toddie's lower lip; I believe the
sight of it would move a Bengal tiger to pity, but no such thought
occurred to me just then.

"What made you do it?"

"BE--cause."

"Because what?"

"I--doe--know."

Just then a terrific roar arose from the garden. Looking out, I
saw Budge with a bleeding finger upon one hand, and my razor in
the other; he afterward explained he had been making a boat, and
that knife was bad to him. To apply adhesive plaster to the cut
was the work of but a minute, and I had barely completed this
surgical operation when Tom's gardener-coachman appeared and
handed me a letter. It was addressed in Helen's well-known hand,
and read as follows (the passages in brackets were my own
comments):--

"BLOOMDALE, June 21, 1875.

"DEAR HARRY:--I'm very happy in the thought that you are with my
darling children, and, although I'm having a lovely time here, I
often wish I was with you. [Ump--so do I.] I want you to know the
little treasures real well. [Thank you, but I don't think I care
to extend the acquaintanceship farther than is absolutely
necessary.] It seems to me so unnatural that relatives know so
little of those of their own blood, and especially of the innocent
little spirits whose existence is almost unheeded. [Not when
there's unlocked trunks standing about, sis.]

"Now I want to ask a favor of you. When we were boys and girls at
home, you used to talk perfect oceans about physiognomy, and
phrenology, and unerring signs of character. I thought it was all
nonsense then, but if you believe any of it NOW, I wish you'd
study the children, and give me your well-considered opinion of
them. [Perfect demons, ma'am; imps, rascals, born to be hung--
both of them.]

"I can't get over the feeling that dear Budge is born for
something grand. [Grand nuisance.] He is sometimes so thoughtful
and so absorbed, that I almost fear the result of disturbing him;
then, he has that faculty of perseverance which seems to be the
on|y thing some men have lacked to make them great. [He certainly
has it; he exemplified it while I was trying to get to sleep this
morning.]

"Toddie is going to make a poet or a musician or an artist.
[That's so; all abominable scamps take to some artistic pursuit as
an excuse for loafing.] His fancies take hold of him very
strongly. [They do--they do; "shee wheels go wound," for
instance.] He has not Budgie's sublime earnestness, but he doesn't
need it; the irresistible force with which he is drawn toward
whatever is beautiful compensates for the lack. [Ah--perhaps that
explains his operation with my trunk.] But I want your OWN
opinion, for I know you make more careful distinction in character
than I do.

"Delighting myself with the idea that I deserve most of the credit
for the lots of reading you will have done by this time, and
hoping I shall soon have a line telling me how my darlings are, I
am as ever, "Your loving sister, "HELEN."

Seldom have I been so roused by a letter as I was by this one, and
never did I promise myself more genuine pleasure in writing a
reply. I determined that it should be a masterpiece of analysis
and of calm yet forcible expression of opinion.

Upon one step, at any rate, I was positively determined. Calling
the girl, I asked her where the key was that locked the door
between my room and the children.

"Please, sir, Toddie threw it down the well."

"Is there a locksmith in the village?"

"No, sir; the nearest one is at Paterson."

"Is there a screwdriver in the house?"

"Yes, sir."

"Bring it to me, and tell the coachman to get ready at once to
drive me to Paterson."

The screwdriver was brought, and with it I removed the lock, got
into the carriage, and told the driver to take me to Paterson by
the hill-road--one of the most beautiful roads in America.

"Paterson!" exclaimed Budge. "Oh, there's a candy-store in that
town, come on, Toddie."

"Will you?" thought I, snatching the whip and giving the horses a
cut. "Not if _I_ can help it. The idea of having such a drive
spoiled by the clatter of SUCH a couple!"

Away went the horses, and up rose a piercing shriek and a terrible
roar. It seemed that both children must have been mortally hurt,
and I looked out hastily, only to see Budge and Toddie running
after the carriage, and crying pitifully. It was too pitiful,--I
could not have proceeded without them, even if they had been
afflicted with small-pox. The driver stopped of his own accord,--
he seemed to know the children's ways and their results,--and I
helped Budge and Toddie in, meekly hoping that the eye of
Providence was upon me, and that so self-sacrificing an act would
be duly passed to my credit. As we reached the hill-road, my
kindness to my nephews seemed to assume, greater proportions, for
the view before me was inexpressibly beautiful. The air was
perfectly clear, and across two score towns I saw the great
metropolis itself, the silent city of Greenwood beyond it, the
bay, the narrows, the sound, the two silvery rivers lying between
me and the Palisades, and even, across and to the south of
Brooklyn, the ocean itself. Wonderful effects of light and shadow,
picturesque masses, composed of detached buildings so far distant
that they seemed huddled together; grim factories turned to
beautiful palaces by the dazzling reflection of sunlight from
their window-panes; great ships seeming in the distance to be toy-
boats floating idly;--with no sign of life perceptible, the whole
scene recalled the fairy stories, read in my youthful days, of
enchanted cities, and the illusion was greatly strengthened by the
dragon-like shape of the roof of New York's new post-office, lying
in the center of everything, and seeming to brood over all.

"Uncle Harry!"

Ah, that was what I expected!

"Uncle Harry!"

"Well, Budge?"

"I always think that looks like heaven."

"What does?"

"Why, all that,--from here over to that other sky way back there
behind everything, I mean. And I think THAT (here he pointed
toward what probably was a photographer's roof-light)--that place
where it's so shiny, is where God stays."

Bless the child! The scene had suggested only elfindom to ME, and
yet I prided myself on my quick sense of artistic effects.

"An' over there where that awful bright LITTLE speck is,"
continued Budge, "that's where dear little brother Phillie is;
whenever I look over there, I see him putting his hand out."

"Dee 'ittle Phillie went to s'eep in a box and the Lord took him
to heaven," murmured Toddie, putting together all he had seen and
heard of death. Then he raised his voice, and exclaimed:--

"Ocken Hawwy, you know what Iz'he goin' do when I be's big man?
Iz'he goin' to have hosses and tarridge, an' Iz'he goin' to wide
over all ze chees an' all ze houses, an' all ze world an'
evvyfing. An' whole lots of little birdies is comin' in my
tarridge an' sing songs to me, an' you can come too if you want
to, an' we'll have ICE-cream an' 'trawberries, an' see 'ittle
fishes swimmin' down in ze water, an' we'll get a g'eat big house
that's all p'itty on the outshide an' all p'itty on the inshide,
and it'll all be ours and we'll do just evvyfing we want to."

"Toddy, you're an idealist."

"AIN'T a 'dealisht."

"Toddy's a goosey-gander," remarked Budge, with great gravity.
"Uncle Harry, do you think heaven's as nice as that place over
there?"

"Yes, Budge, a great deal nicer."

"Then why don't we die an' go there? I don't want to go on livin'
forever an' ever. I don't see why we don't die right away; I think
we've lived enough of days."

"The Lord wants us to live until we get good and strong and smart,
and do a great deal of good before we die, old fellow--that's why
we don't die right away."

"Well, I want to see dear little Phillie, an' if the Lord won't
let him come down here, I think he might let me die an' go to
heaven. Little Phillie always laughed when I jumped for him. Uncle
Harry, angels has wings, don't they?"

"Some people think they have, old boy."

"Well, I know they DON'T, cos if Phillie had wings, I know he'd
fly right down here an' see me. So they don't."

"But maybe he has to go somewhere else, Budge, or maybe he comes
and you can't see him. We can't see angels with OUR eyes, you
know."

"Then what made the Hebrew children in the fiery furnace see one?
Their eyes was just like ours, wasn't they? I don't care; I want
to see dear little Phillie AWFUL much. Uncle Harry, if I went to
heaven, do you know what I'd do?"

"What WOULD you do, Budge?"

"Why, after I saw little Phillie, I'd go right up to the Lord an'
give him a great big hug."

"What for, Budge?"

"Oh, cos he lets us have nice times, an' gave me my mama an' papa,
an' Phillie--but he took him away again--an' Toddie, but Toddie's
a dreadful bad boy sometimes, though."

"Very true, Budge," said I, remembering my trunk and the object of
my ride.

"Uncle Harry, did you ever see the Lord?"

"No, Budge; he has been very close to me a good many times, but I
never saw him."

"Well, _I_ have; I see him every time I look up in the sky, and
there ain't nobody 'with me."

The driver crossed himself and whispered, "He's foriver a-sayin'
that, an' be the powers, I belave him. Sometimes ye'd think that
the howly saints thimselves was a-sphak-in' whin that bye gits to
goin' on that way." It WAS wonderful. Budge's countenance seemed
too pure to be of the earth as he continued to express his ideas
of the better land and its denizens. As for Toddie, his tongue was
going incessantly, although in a tone scarcely audible; but when I
chanced to catch his expressions, they were so droll and fanciful,
that I took him upon my lap that I might hear him more distinctly.
I even detected myself in the act of examining the mental draft of
my proposed letter to Helen, and of being ashamed of it. But
neither Toddie's fancy nor Budge's spirituality caused me to
forget the principal object of my ride. I found a locksmith and
left the lock to be fitted with a key; then we drove to the Falls.
Both boys discharged volleys of questions as we stood by the
gorge, and the fact that the roar of the falling water prevented
me from hearing them did not cause them to relax their efforts in
the least. I walked to the hotel for a cigar, taking the children
with me. I certainly spent no more than three minutes in selecting
and lighting a cigar, and asking the barkeeper a few questions
about the Falls; but when I turned, the children were missing, nor
could I see them in any direction. Suddenly before my eyes arose
from the nearer brink of the gorge two yellowish disks, which I
recognized as the hats of my nephews; then I saw between the disks
and me two small figures lying upon the ground. I was afraid to
shout, for fear of scaring them, if they happened to hear me, I
bounded across the grass, industriously raving and praying by
turns. They were lying on their stomachs and looking over the edge
of the cliff. I approached them on tip-toe, threw myself upon the
ground, and grasped a foot of each child.

"Oh, Uncle Harry!" screamed Budge in my ear, as I dragged him
close to me, kissing and shaking him alternately, "I hunged over
more than Toddie did."

"Well, I--I--I--I--I--I--I hunged over a good deal, ANY how," said
Toddie, in self-defense.

That afternoon I devoted to making a bouquet for Miss Mayton, and
a most delightful occupation I found it. It was no florist's
bouquet, composed of only a few kinds of flowers, wired upon
sticks, and arranged according to geometric pattern. I used many a
rare flower, too shy of bloom to recommend itself to florists; I
combined tints almost as numerous as the flowers were, and
perfumes to which city bouquets are utter strangers. Arranging
flowers is a favorite pastime of mine, but upon this particular
occasion I enjoyed my work more than I had ever done before. Not
that I was in love with Miss Mayton; a man may honestly and
strongly admire a handsome, brilliant woman without being in love
with her; he can delight himself in trying to give her pleasure,
without feeling it necessary that she shall give him herself in
return. Since I arrived at years of discretion, I have always
smiled sarcastically at the mention of the generosity of men who
were in love; they have seemed to me rather to be asking an
immense price for what they offered. I had no such feeling toward
Miss Mayton. There have been heathens who have offered gifts to
goddesses out of pure adoration and without any idea of ever
having the exclusive companionship of their favorite divinities. I
never offered Miss Mayton any attention which did not put me into
closer sympathy with these same great-souled old Pagans, and with
such Christians as follow their good example. With each new grace
my bouquet took on, my pleasure and satisfaction increased at the
thought of how SHE would enjoy the completed evidence of my taste.

At length it was finished, but my delight suddenly became clouded
by the dreadful thought, "What will folks say?" Had we been in New
York instead of Hillcrest, no one but the florist, his messenger,
the lady and myself would know if I sent a bouquet to Miss Mayton;
but in Hillcrest, with its several hundred native-born gossips and
its acquaintance of everybody with everybody else and their
affairs, I feared talk. Upon the discretion of Mike, the coachman,
I could safely rely; I had already confidentially conveyed sundry
bits of fractional currency to him, and informed him of one of the
parties at our store whose family Mike had known in Old Erin; but
every one knew where Mike was employed; every one knew--
mysterious, unseen and swift are the ways of communication in the
country!--that I was the only gentleman at present residing at
Colonel Lawrence's. Ah!--I had it. I had seen in one of the
library-drawers a small pasteboard box, shaped like a band-box--
doubtless THAT would hold it. I found the box--it was of just the
size I needed. I dropped my card into the bottom,--no danger of a
lady not finding the card accompanying a gift of flowers,--neatly
fitted the bouquet in the center of the box, and went in search of
Mike. He winked cheeringly as I explained the nature of his
errand, and he whispered:--

"I'll do it as clane as a whistle, yer honor. Mistress Clarkson's
cook an' mesilf understhand each other, an' I'm used to goin' up
the back way. Dhivil a man can see but the angels, an' they won't
tell."

"Very well, Mike; here's a dollar for you; you'll find the box on
the hat-rack in the hall."

Half an hour later, while I sat in my chamber window, reading, I
beheld Mike, cleanly shaved, dressed and brushed, swinging up the
road, with my box balanced on one of his enormous hands. With a
head full of pleasing fancies, I went down to supper. My new
friends were unusually good. Their ride seemed to have toned down
their boisterousness and elevated their little souls; their
appetites exhibited no diminution of force, but they talked but
little, and all that they said was smart, funny, or startling--so
much so that when, after supper, they invited me to put them to
bed, I gladly accepted the invitation. Toddie disappeared
somewhere, and came back very disconsolate.

"Can't find my dolly's k'adle," he whined.

"Never mind, old pet," said I, soothingly. "Uncle will ride you on
his foot."

"But I WANT my dolly's k'adle," said he, piteously rolling out his
lower lip.

I remembered my experience when Toddie wanted to "shee wheels go
wound," and I trembled.

"Toddie," said I, in a tone so persuasive that it would be worth
thousands a year to me, as a salesman, if I could only command it
at will; "Toddie, don't you want to ride on uncle's back?"

"No: want my dolly's k'adle."

"Don't you want me to tell you a story?"

For a moment Toddie's face indicated a terrible internal conflict
between old Adam and mother Eve, but curiosity finally overpowered
natural depravity, and Toddie murmured:--

"Yesh."

"What shall I tell you about?"

"'Bout Nawndeark."

"About WHAT?"

"He means Noah an' the ark," exclaimed Budge.

"Datsh what _I_ shay--Nawndeark," declared Toddie.

"Well," said I, hastily refreshing my memory by picking up the
Bible,--for Helen, like most people, is pretty sure to forget to
pack her Bible when she runs away from home for a few days,--
"well, once it rained forty days and nights, and everybody was
drowned from the face of the earth excepting Noah, a righteous
man, who was saved, with all his family, in an ark which the Lord
commanded him to build."

"Uncle Harry," said Budge, after contemplating me with open eyes
and mouth for at least two minutes after I had finished, "do you
think that's Noah?"

"Certainly, Budge; here's the whole story in the Bible."

"Well, _I_ don't think it's Noah one single bit," said he, with
increasing emphasis.

"I'm. beginning to think we read different Bibles, Budge; but
let's hear YOUR version."

"Huh?"

"Tell ME about Noah, if you know so much about him."

"I will, if you want me to. Once the Lord felt so uncomfortable
cos folks was bad that he was sorry he ever made anybody, or any
world or anything. But Noah wasn't bad--the Lord liked him first-
rate, so he told Noah to build a big ark, and then the Lord would
make it rain so everybody should be drownded but Noah an' his
little boys an' girls, an' doggies an' pussies an' mama-cows an'
little-boy-cows an' little-girl-cows an' hosses an' everything--
they'd go in the ark an' wouldn't get wetted a bit, when it
rained. An' Noah took lots of things to eat in the ark--cookies,
an' milk, an' oatmeal, an' strawberries, an' porgies, an'--oh,
yes; an' plum-puddin's an' pumpkin-pies. But Noah didn't want
everybody to get drownded, so he talked to folks an' said, 'It's
goin' to rain AWFUL pretty soon; you'd better be good, an' then
the Lord'll let you come into my ark.' An' they jus' said, 'Oh, if
it rains we'll go in the house till it stops;' an' other folks
said, 'WE ain't afraid of rain--we've got an umbrella.' An' some
more said, they wasn't goin' to be afraid of just a rain. But it
DID rain though, an' folks went in their houses, an' the water
came in, an' they went up-stairs, an' the water came up there, an'
they got on the tops of the houses, an' up in big trees, an' up in
mountains, an' the water went after 'em everywhere an' drownded
everybody, only just except Noah and the people in the ark. An' it
rained forty days an' nights, an' then it stopped, an' Noah got
out of the ark, an' he and his little boys an' girls went wherever
they wanted to, and everything in the world was all theirs; there
wasn't anybody to tell 'em to go home, nor no Kindergarten schools
to go to, nor no bad boys to fight 'em, nor nothin'. Now tell us
'nother story."

I determined that I would not again attempt to repeat portions of
the Scripture narrative--my experience in that direction had not
been encouraging. I ventured upon a war story.

"Do you know what the war was?" I asked, by way of reconnoissance.

"Oh, yes," said Budge; "papa was there, an' he's got a sword;
don't you see it, hangin' up there?"

Yes, I saw it, and the difference between the terrible field where
last I saw Tom's sword in action, and this quiet room where it now
hung, forced me into a reverie from which I was aroused by Budge
remarking:--

"Ain't you goin' to tell us one?"

"Oh, yes, Budge. One day while the war was going on, there was a
whole lot of soldiers going along a road, and they were as hungry
as they could be; they hadn't had anything to eat that day."

"Why didn't they go into the houses, and the people they was
hungry? That's what _I_ do when I goes along roads."

"Because the people in that country didn't like them; the brothers
and papas and husbands of those people were soldiers, too; but
they didn't like the soldiers I told you about first, and they
wanted to kill them."

"I don't think they were a bit nice," said Budge, with
considerable decision.

"Well, the first soldiers wanted to kill THEM, Budge."

"Then they was ALL bad, to want to kill each other."

"Oh, no, they weren't; there were a great many real good men on
both sides."

Poor Budge looked sadly puzzled, as he had an excellent right to
do, since the wisest and best men are sorely perplexed by the
nature of warlike feeling.

"Both parties of soldiers were on horseback," I continued, "and
they were near each other, and when they saw each other they made
their horses run fast, and the bugles blew, and the soldiers all
took their swords out to kill each other with, when just then a
little boy, who had been out in the woods to pick berries for his
mama, tried to run across the road, and caught his toe some way,
and fell down, and cried. Then somebody hallooed 'Halt!' very
loud, and all the horses on one side stopped, and then somebody
else hallooed 'Halt!' and a lot of bugles blew, and every horse on
the other; side stopped, and one soldier jumped off his horse, and
picked up the little boy--he was only about as big as you, Budge--
and tried to comfort him; and then a soldier from the other side
came up to look at him, and then more soldiers came from both
sides to look at him; and when he got better and walked home, the
soldiers all rode away, because they didn't feel like fighting
just then."

"Oh, Uncle Harry! I think it was an AWFUL good soldier that got
off his horse to take care of that poor little boy."

"Do you, Budge? Who do you think it was?"

"I dunno."

"It was your papa."

"Oh--h--h--h--h!" If Tom could have but seen the expression upon
his boy's face as he prolonged this exclamation, his loss of one
of the grandest chances a cavalry officer ever had would not have
seemed so great to him as it had done for years. He seemed to take
in the story in all its bearings, and his great eyes grew in depth
as they took on the far-away look which seemed too earnest for the
strength of an earthly being to support.

But Toddie,--he who a fond mama thought endowed with art sense,--
Toddie had throughout my recital the air of a man who was musing
on some affair of his own, and Budge's exclamation had hardly died
away, when Toddie commenced to wave aloud an extravaganza wholly
his own.

"When _I_ was a soldier," he remarked, very gravely, "I had a coat
an' a hat on, an' a muff an' a little knake [Footnote: Snake:
tippet.] wound my neck to keep me warm, an' it wained, an' hailed,
an' 'tormed, an' I felt bad, so I whallowed a sword an' burned me
all down dead."

"And how did you get here?" I asked, with interest proportioned to
the importance of Toddie's last clause.

"Oh, I got up from the burn-down dead, an' COMED right here. An' I
want my dolly's k'adle."

Oh persistent little dragon! If you were of age, what a fortune
you might make in business!

"Uncle Harry, I wish my papa would come home right away," said
Budge.

"Why, Budge?"

"I want to love him for bein' so good to that poor little boy in
the war."

"Ocken Hawwy, I wants my dolly's k'adle, tause my dolly's in it,
an' I want to shee her;" thus spake Toddie.

"Don't you think the Lord loved my papa awful much for doin' that
sweet thing, Uncle Harry?" asked Budge.

"Yes, old fellow, I feel sure that he did."

"Lord lovesh my papa vewy much, so I love ze Lord vewy much,"
remarked Toddie. "An' I wants my dolly's k'adle an' my dolly."

"Toddie, I don't know where either of them are--I can't find them
now--DO wait until morning, then Uncle Harry will look for them."

"I don't see how the Lord can get along in heaven without my papa,
Uncle Harry," said Budge.

"Lord takesh papa to heaven, an' Budgie an' me, an' we'll go
walkin' an' see ze Lord, an' play wif ze angels' wings, an' hazh
good timsh, an' never have to go to bed at all, at all."

Pure hearted little innocents! compared with older people whom we
endure, how great thy faith and how few thy faults! How superior
thy love--

A knock at the door interrupted me. "Come in!" I shouted.

In stepped Mike, with an air of the greatest secrecy, handed me a
letter and the identical box in which I had sent the flowers to
Miss Mayton. What COULD it mean? I hastily opened the envelope,
and at the same time Toddie shrieked:--

"Oh, darsh my dolly's k'adle--dare 'tish!" snatched and opened the
box, and displayed--his doll! My heart sickened, and did NOT
regain its strength during the perusal of the following note:--

"Miss Mayton herewith returns to Mr. Burton the package which just
arrived, with his card. She recognizes the contents as a portion
of the apparent property of one of Burton's nephews, but is unable
to understand why it should have been sent to her. "June 20,
1875."

"Toddie," I roared, as my younger nephew caressed his loathsome
doll, and murmured endearing words to it, "where did you get that
box?"

"On the hat-wack," replied the youth, with perfect fearlessness;
"I keeps it in ze book-case djawer, an' somebody took it 'way an'
put nasty ole flowers in it."

"Where are those flowers?" I demanded.

Toddie looked up with considerable surprise but promptly replied:--

"I froed 'em away--don't want no ole flowers in my dolly's k'adle.
That's ze way she wocks--see!" And this horrible little destroyer
of human hopes rolled that box back and forth with the most utter
unconcern, as he spoke endearing words to the substitute for my
beautiful bouquet!

To say that I looked at Toddie reprovingly is to express my
feelings in the most inadequate language, but of language in which
to express my feelings to Toddie. I could find absolutely none.
Within two or three short moments I had discovered how very
anxious I really was to merit Miss Mayton's regard, and how very
different was the regard I wanted from that which I had previously
hoped might be accorded me. It seemed too ridiculous to be true
that I, who had for years had dozens of charming lady
acquaintances, and yet had always maintained my common sense and
self-control; I, who had always considered it unmanly for a man to
specially interest himself in ANY lady until he had an income of
five thousand a year; I who had skilfully, and many times, argued,
that life-attachments, or attempts thereat, which were made
without a careful preliminary study of the mental characteristics
of the partner desired, was the most unpardonable folly,--I had
transgressed every one of my own rules, and, as if to mock me for
any pretended wisdom and care, my weakness was made known to me by
a three-year-old marplot and a hideous rag-doll!

That merciful and ennobling dispensation by which Providence
enables us to temper the severity of our own sufferings by
alleviating those of others, came soon to my rescue. Under my
stern glance Toddie gradually lost interest in his doll and its
cradle, and began to thrust forth and outward his piteous lower
lip and to weep copiously.

"Dee Lord, not make me sho bad," he cried through his tears. I
doubt his having had any very clear idea of what he was saying, or
whom he was addressing; but had the publican of whose prayer
Toddie made so fair a paraphrase worn such a face when he offered
his famous petition, it could not have been denied for a moment.
Toddie even retired to a corner and hid his face in self-imposed
penance.

"Never mind, Toddie," said I, sadly; "you didn't mean to do it, I
know."

"I wantsh to love you," sobbed Toddie.

"Well, come here, you poor little fellow," said I, opening my
arms, and wondering whether 'twas not after contemplation of some
such sinner that good Bishop Tegner wrote:--

"Depths of love are atonement's depths, for love is atonement"

Toddie came to my arms, shed tears freely upon my shirt-front, and
finally, after heaving a very long sigh, remarked:--

"Wantsh YOU to love ME"

I complied with his request. Theoretically, I had long believed
that the higher wisdom of the Creator was most frequently
expressed through the medium of his most innocent creations.
Surely here was a confirmation of my theory, for who else had ever
practically taught me the duty of the injured one toward his
offender? I kissed Toddie and petted him, and at length succeeded
in quieting him; his little face, in spite of much dirt and many
tear-stains, was upturned with more of beauty in it than it ever
held when its owner was full of joy; he looked earnestly,
confidingly, into my eyes, and I congratulated myself upon the
perfection of my forgiving spirit, when Toddie suddenly
re-exhibited to me my old unregenerate nature, and the
incompleteness of my forgiveness, by saying:--

"Kish my dolly, too."

I obeyed. My forgiveness was made complete, but so was my
humiliation. I abruptly closed our interview. We exchanged "God
bless you's," according to Budge's instructions of the previous
night, and at least one of the participants in this devotional
exercise hoped the petitions made by the other were distinctly
heard. Then I dropped into an easy-chair in the library, and fell
to thinking. I found myself really and seriously troubled by the
results of Toddie's operation with my bouquet. I might explain the
matter to Miss Mayton--I undoubtedly could, for she was too
sensible a woman to be easily offended merely by a ridiculous
mistake, caused by a child. But she would laugh at ME--how could
she help it?--and to be laughed at by Miss Mayton was a something
the mere thought of which tormented me in a manner that made me
fairly ashamed of myself. Like every other young man among young
men, I had been the butt of many a rough joke, and had borne them
without wincing; it seemed cowardly and contemptible that I should
be so sensitive under the mere thought of laughter which would
probably be heard by no one but Miss Mayton herself. But the
laughter of a mere acquaintance is likely to lessen respect for
the person laughed at. Heavens! the thought was unendurable! At
any rate, I must write an early apology. When I was correspondent
for the house with which I am now salesman I reclaimed many an old
customer who had wandered off--certainly I might hope by a well-
written letter to regain in Miss Mayton's respect whatever
position I had lost. I hastily drafted a letter, corrected it
carefully, copied it in due form, and forwarded it by the faithful
Michael. Then I tried to read, but without the least success. For
hours I paced the piazza and consumed cigars; when at last I
retired it was with many ideas, hopes, fears, and fancies which
had never before been mine. True to my trust, I looked into my
nephews' room; there lay the boys, in postures more graceful than
any which brush or chisel have ever reproduced. Toddie, in
particular, wore so lovely an expression that I could not refrain
from kissing him. But I was none the less careful to make use of
my new key, and to lock my other door also.

The next day was the Sabbath. Believing fully in the binding force
and worldly wisdom of the Fourth Commandment, so far as it refers
to rest, I have conscientiously trained myself to sleep two hours
later on the morning of the holy day than I ever allowed myself to
do on business days. But having inherited, besides a New England
conscience, a New England abhorrence of waste, I regularly sit up
two hours later on Saturday nights than on any others; and the
night preceding this particular Sabbath was no exception to the
rule, as the reader may imagine from the foregoing recital. At
about 5.30 A. M., however, I became conscious that my nephews were
not in accord, with me on the Sinaitic law. They were not only
awake, but were disputing vigorously, and, seemingly, very loudly,
for I heard their words very distinctly. With sleepy condescension
I endeavored to ignore these noisy irreverents, but I was suddenly
moved to a belief in the doctrine of vicarious atonement, for a
flying body, with more momentum than weight, struck me upon the
not prominent bridge of my nose, and speedily and with unnecessary
force accommodated itself to the outline of my eyes. After a
moment spent in anguish, and in wondering how the missive came
through closed doors and windows, I discovered that my pain had
been caused by one of the dolls, which, from its extreme
uncleanness, I suspected belonged to Toddie; I also discovered
that the door between the rooms was open.

"Who threw that doll?" I shouted, sternly. There came no response.

"Do you hear?" I roared.

"What is it, Uncle Harry?" asked Budge, with most exquisitely
polite inflection.

"Who threw that doll?"

"Huh?"

"I say, who threw that doll?"

"Why, nobody did it."

"Toddie, who threw that doll?"

"Budge did," replied Toddie in muffled tones, suggestive of a
brotherly hand laid forcibly over a pair of small lips.

"Budge, what did you do it for?"

"Why--why--I--because--why, you see--because, why, Toddie froo his
dolly in my mouth; some of her hair went in, any how, an' I didn't
want his dolly in my mouth, so I sent it back to him, an' the foot
of the bed didn't stick up enough, so it went from the door to
your bed--that's what for."

The explanation seemed to bear marks of genuineness, albiet the
pain of my eye was not alleviated thereby, while the exertion
expended in eliciting the information had so thoroughly awakened
me that further sleep was out of the question. Besides, the open
door,--had a burglar been in the room? No; my watch and pocketbook
were undisturbed. "Budge, who opened that door?"

After some hesitation, as if wondering who really did it, Budge
replied:--

"Me."

"How did you do it?"

"Why, you see we wanted a drink, an' the door was fast, so we got
out the window on the parazzo roof, an' comed in your window."
(Here a slight pause.) "An' 'twas fun. An' then we unlocked the
door, an' comed back."

Then I should be compelled to lock my window-blinds--or theirs,
and this in the summer season, too! Oh, if Helen could have but
passed the house as that white-robed procession had filed along
the piazza-roof! I lay pondering over the vast amount of unused
ingenuity that was locked up in millions of children, or employed
only to work misery among unsuspecting adults, when I heard light
footfalls at my bedside, and saw a small shape with a grave face
approach and remark:--

"I wants to come in your bed."

"What for, Toddie?"

"To fwolic; papa always fwolics us Sunday mornin's. Tum, Budgie,
Ocken Hawwy's doin' to fwolic us."

Budge replied by shrieking with delight, tumbling out of bed, and
hurrying to that side of my bed not already occupied by Toddie.
Then those two little savages sounded the onslaught and advanced
precipitately upon me. Sometimes, during the course of my life, I
have had day-dreams which I have told to no one. Among these has
been one--not now so distinct as it was before my four years of
campaigning--of one day meeting in deadly combat the painted
Indian of the plains; of listening undismayed to his frightful
war-whoop, and of exemplifying in my own person the inevitable
result of the pale-face's superior intelligence. But upon this
particular Sunday morning I relinquished this idea informally, but
forever. Before the advance of these diminutive warriors I quailed
contemptibly, and their battle-cry sent more terror to my soul
than that member ever experienced from the well-remembered rebel
yell. According to Toddie, I was going to "fwolic" THEM; but from
the first they took the whole business into their own little but
effective hands. Toddie pronounced my knees, collectively a-horsie
"bonnie," and bestrode them, laughing gleefully at my efforts to
unseat him, and holding himself in position by digging his pudgy
fingers into whatever portions of my anatomy he could most easily
seize. Budge shouted, "I want a horsie, too!" and seated himself
upon my chest. "This is the way the horsie goes," explained he, as
he slowly rocked himself backward and forward. I began to realize
how my brother-in-law, who had once been a fine gymnast, had
become so flat-chested. Just then Budge's face assumed a more
spirited expression, his eyes opened wide and lightened up, and,
shouting, "This the way the horsie TROTS," he stood upright, threw
up his feet, and dropped his forty-three avoirdupois pounds
forcibly upon my lungs. He repeated this operation several times
before I fully recovered from the shock conveyed by his combined
impudence and weight; but pain finally brought my senses back, and
with a wild plunge I unseated my demoniac riders and gained a
clear space in the middle of the floor.

"Ah--h--h--h--h--h--h," screamed Toddie, "I wants to wide horshie
backen."

"Boo--oo--oo--oo--," roared Budge, "I think you're real mean. I
don't love you at all."

Regardless alike of Toddie's desires, of Budge's opinion, and the
cessation of his regard, I performed a hasty toilet.
Notnwithstanding my lost rest, savagely thanked the Lord for
Sunday; at church, at least, I could be free from my tormentors.
At the breakfast-table both boys invited themselves to accompany
me to the sanctuary, but I declined without thanks. To take them
might be to assist somewhat in teaching them one of the best of
habits, but I strongly doubted whether the severest Providence
would consider it my duty to endure the probable consequences of
such an attempt. Besides I MIGHT meet Miss Mayton. I both hoped
and feared I might, and I could not, endure the thought of
appearing before her with the causes of my pleasant REMEMBRANCE.
Budge protested and Toddie wept, but I remained firm, although I
was so willing to gratify their reasonable desires that I took
them out for a long ante-service walk. While enjoying this little
trip I delighted the children by killing a snake and spoiling a
slender cane at the same time, my own sole consolation coming from
the discovery that the remains of the staff were sufficient to
make a cane for Budge. While returning to the house and preparing
for church I entered into a solemn agreement with Budge, who was
usually recognized as the head of this fraternal partnership.
Budge contracted, for himself and brother, to make no attempts to
enter my room; to refrain from fighting; to raise loose dirt only
with a shovel, and to convey it to its destination by means other
than their own hats and aprons; to pick no flowers; to open no
water-faucets; to refer all disagreements to the cook, as
arbitrator, and to build no houses of the new books which I had
stacked upon the library table. In consideration of the promised
faithful observance of these conditions I agreed that Budge should
be allowed to come alone to Sabbath school, which convened
directly after morning service, he to start only after Maggie had
pronounced him duly cleansed and clothed. As Toddie was daily kept
in bed from eleven to one, I felt that I might safely worship
without distracting fears, for Budge could not alone, and in a
single hour, become guilty of any particular sin. The church at
Hillcrest had many more seats than members, and as but few summer
visitors had yet appeared in the town, I was conscious of being
industriously stared at by the native members of the congregation.
This was of itself discomfort enough, but not all to which I was
destined, for the usher conducted me quite near to the altar, and
showed me into a pew whose only other occupant was Miss Mayton! Of
course the lady did not recognize me--she was too carefully bred
to do anything of the sort in church, and I spent ten
uncomfortable minutes in mentally abusing the customs of good
society. The beginning of the service partially ended my
uneasiness, for I had no hymn-book,--the pew contained none,--so
Miss Mayton kindly offered me a share in her own. And yet so
faultlessly perfect and stranger-like was her manner that I
wondered whether her action might not have been prompted merely by
a sense of Christian duty; had I been the Khan of Tartary she
could not have been more polite and frigid. The music to the first
hymn was an air I had never heard before, so I stumbled miserably
through the tenor, although Miss Mayton rendered the soprano
without a single false note. The sermon was longer than I was in
the habit of listening to, and I was frequently conscious of not
listening at all. As for my position and appearance, neither ever
seemed so insignificant as they did throughout the entire service.

The minister reached "And finally, dear brethren," with my earnest
prayers for a successful and speedy finale. It seemed to me that
the congregation sympathized with me, for there was a general
rustle behind me as these words were spoken. It soon became
evident, however, that the hearers were moved by some other
feeling, for I heard a profound titter or two behind me. Even Miss
Mayton turned her head with more alacrity than was consistent with
that grace which usually characterized her motions, and the
minister himself made a pause of unusual length. I turned in my
seat, and saw my nephew Budge, dressed in his best, his head
irreverently covered, and his new cane swinging in the most
stylish manner. He paused at each pew, carefully surveyed its
occupants, seemed to fail in finding the object of his search, but
continued his efforts in spite of my endeavors to catch his eye.
Finally, he recognized a family acquaintance, and to him he
unburdened his bosom by remarking, in tones easily heard
throughout the church:--

"I want to find my uncle."

Just then he caught my eye, smiled rapturously, hurried to me and
laid his rascally soft cheek confidingly against mine, while an
audible sensation pervaded the church. What to do or say to him I
scarcely knew; but my quandary was turned to wonder, as Miss
Mayton, her face full of ill-repressed mirth, but her eyes full of
tenderness, drew the little scamp close to her, and Mssed him
soundly. At the same instant, the minister, not without some
little hesitation, said, "Let us pray." I hastily bowed my head,
glad of a chance to hide my face; but as I stole a glance at the
cause of this irreligious disturbance, I caught Miss Mayton's eye.
She was laughing so violently that the contagion was unavoidable,
and I laughed all the harder as I felt that one mischievous boy
had undone the mischief caused by another.

After the benediction, Budge was the recipient of a great deal of
attention, during the confusion of which I embraced the
opportunity to say to Miss Mayton:--

"Do you still sustain my sister in her opinion of my nephews, Miss
Mayton?"

"I think they're too funny for anything," replied the lady, with
great enthusiasm. "I DO wish you would bring them to call upon me.
I'm longing to see an ORIGINAL young gentleman."

"Thank you," said I. "And I'll have Toddie bring a bouquet by way
of atonement,"

"Do," she replied, as I allowed her to pass from the pew. The word
was an insignificant one, but it made me happy once more.

"You see, Uncle Harry," exclaimed Budge, as we left the church
together, "the Sunday-school wasn't open yet, an' I wanted to hear
if they'd sing again in church; so I came in, an' you wasn't in
papa's seat, an' I knew you was SOMEwhere, so I LOOKED for you."

"Bless you," thought I, snatching him into my arms as if to hurry
him into Sabbath school, but really to give him a kiss of grateful
affection, "you did right--EXACTLY right."

My Sunday dinner was unexceptional in point of quantity and
quality, and a bottle of my brother-in-law's claret proved to be
most excellent; yet a certain uneasiness of mind prevented my
enjoying the meal as thoroughly as under other circumstances I
might have done. My uneasiness came of a mingled sense of
responsibility and ignorance. I felt that it was the proper thing
for me to see that my nephews spent the day with some sense of the
requirements and duties of the Sabbath; but how I was to bring it
about, I hardly knew. The boys, were too small to have Bible-
lessons administered to them, and they were too lively to be kept
quiet by any ordinary means. After a great deal of thought, I
determined to consult the children themselves, and try to learn
what their parents' custom had been.

"Budge," said I, "what do you do Sundays when your papa and mama
are home? What do they read to you,--what do they talk about?"

"Oh, they swing us--lots!" said Budge, with brightening eyes.

"An' zey takes us to get jacks," observed Toddie.

"Oh, yes!" exclaimed Budge; "jacks-in-the-pulpit--don't you know?"

"Hum--ye--es; I do remember some such thing in my youthful days.
They grow where there's plenty of mud, don't they?"

"Yes, an' there's a brook there, an' ferns, an' birch-bark, an' if
you don't look out you'll tumble into the brook when you go to get
birch."

"An' we goes to Hawksnest Rock," piped Toddie, "an' papa carries
us up on his back when we gets tired."

"An' he makes us whistles," said Budge.

"Budge," said I, rather hastily, "enough. In the language of the
poet

    "'These earthly pleasures I resign,'

and I'm rather astonished that your papa hasn't taught you to do
likewise. Don't he ever read to you?"

"Oh, yes," cried Budge, clapping his hands, as a happy thought
struck him. "He gets down the Bible--the great BIG Bible, you
know--an' we all lay on the floor, an' he reads us stories out of
it. There's David, an' Noah, an' when Christ was a little boy, an'
Joseph, an' turnbackPharo'sannyhallelujah--"

"And what?"

"TurnbackPharo'sarmyhallelujah," repeated Budge. "Don't you know
how Moses held out his cane over the Red Sea, an' the water went
way up one side, an' way up the other side, and all the Isrulites
went across? It's just the same thing as
DROWNoldPharo'sarmyhallelujah--don't you know?"

"Budge," said I, "I suspect you of having heard the Jubilee
Singers."

"Oh, and papa and mama sings us all those Jubilee songs--there's
'Swing Low,' an' 'Roll Jordan,' an' 'Steal Away,' an' 'My Way's
Cloudy,' an' 'Get on Board, Childuns,' an' lots. An' you can sing
us every one of 'em."

"An' papa takes us in the woods, an' makesh us canes," said
Toddie.

"Yes," said Budge, "and where there's new houses buildin', he
takes us up ladders."

"Has he any way of putting an extension on the afternoon?" I
asked.

"I don't know what that is," said Budge, "but he puts an India-
rubber blanket on the grass, and then we all lie down an' make
b'lieve we're soldiers asleep. Only sometimes when we wake up papa
stays asleep, an' mama won't let us wake him. I don't think that's
a very nice play."

"Well, I think Bible stories are nicer than anything else, don't
you?"

Budge seemed somewhat in doubt. "I think swingin' is nicer," said
he--"oh, no;--let's get some jacks--I'LL tell you what!--make us
whistles an' we can blow on 'em while we're goin' to get the
jacks. Toddie, dear, wouldn't YOU like jacks and whistles?"

"Yesh--an' swingin'--an' birch--an' wantsh to go to Hawksnesh
Rock," answered Toddie.

"Let's have Bible stories first," said I. "The Lord mightn't like
it if you didn't learn anything good to-day."

"Well," said Budge, with the regulation religious-matter-of-duty-
face, "let's. I guess I like 'bout Joseph best."

"Tell us 'bout Bliaff," suggested Toddie.

"Oh, no, Tod," remonstrated Budge; "Joseph's coat was just as
bloody as Goliath's head was." Then Budge turned to me and
explained that "all Tod likes Goliath for is 'cause when his head
was cut off it was all bloody." And then Toddie--the airy sprite
whom his mother described as being irresistibly drawn to whatever
was beautiful--Toddie glared upon me as a butcher's apprentice
might stare at a doomed lamb, and remarked:--

"Bliaff's head was all bluggy, an' David's sword was all bluggy--
bluggy as everyfing."

I hastily breathed a small prayer, opened the Bible, turned to the
story of Joseph, and audibly condensed it as I read:--

"Joseph was a good little boy whose papa loved him very dearly.
But his brothers didn't like him. And they sold him, to go to
Egypt. And he was very smart, and told the people what their
dreams meant, and he got to be a great man. And his brothers went
to Egypt to buy corn, and Joseph sold them some, and then he let
them know who he was. And he sent them home to bring their papa to
Egypt, and then they all lived there together."

"That ain't it," remarked Toddie, with the air of a man who felt
himself to be unjustly treated. "Is it, Budge?"

"Oh, no," said Budge, "you didn't read it good a bit; I'LL tell
you how it is. Once there was a little boy named Joseph, an' he
had eleven budders--they was AWFUL eleven budders. An' his papa
gave him a new coat, an' his budders hadn't nothin' but their old
jackets to wear. An' one day he was carryin' 'em their dinner, an'
they put him in a deep, dark hole, but they didn't put his nice
new coat in--they killed a kid, an' dipped the coat--just think of
doin' that to a nice new coat--they dipped it in the kid's blood,
an' made it all bloody."

"All bluggy," echoed Toddie, with ferocious emphasis. Budge
continued:--

"But there were some Ishmalites comin' along that way, and the
awful eleven budders took him out of the deep dark hole, an' sold
him to the Ishmalites, an' they sold him away down in Egypt. An'
his poor old papa cried, an' cried, 'cause he thought a big lion
ate Joseph up; but he wasn't ate up a bit; but there wasn't no
post-office nor choo-choos, [Footnote: railway cars] nor stages in
Egypt, an' there wasn't any telegraphs, so Joseph couldn't let his
papa know where he was; an' he got so smart an' so good that the
king of Egypt let him sell all the corn an' take care of the
money; an' one day some men came to buy some corn, an' Joseph
looked at 'em an' there they was his own budders! An' he scared
'em like everything; I'D have SLAPPED 'em all if I'D been Joseph,
but he just scared 'em, an' then he let 'em know who he was, an'
he kissed 'em an' he didn't whip 'em, or make 'em go without their
breakfast, or stand in a corner, nor none of them things; an' then
he sent 'em back for their papa, an' when he saw his papa comin',
he ran like everything, and gave him a great big hug and a kiss.
Joseph was too big to ask his papa if he'd brought him any candy,
but he was awful glad to see him. An' the king gave Joseph's papa
a nice farm, an' they all had real good times after that."

"And they dipped the coat in the blood; an' made it all bluggy,"
reiterated Toddie.

"Uncle Harry," said Budge, "what do you think MY papa would do if
he thought I was all ate up by a lion? I guess he'd cry AWFUL,
don't you? Now tell us another story--oh, I'LL tell you--read us
'bout--"

"'Bout Bliaff," interrupted Toddie.

"YOU tell ME about him, Toddie," said I.

"Why," said Toddie, "Bliaff was a brate bid man, an' Dave was
brate little man, an' Bliaff said, 'Come over here'n an' I'll eat
you up,' an' Dave said, '_I_ ain't fyaid of you.' So Dave put five
little stones in a sling an' asked de Lord to help him, an' let ze
sling go bang into bequeen Bliaff's eyes an' knocked him down
dead, an' Dave took Bliaff's sword an' sworded Bliaff's head off,
an' made it all bluggy, an' Bliaff runned away." This short
narration was accompanied by more spirited and unexpected gestures
than Mr. Gough ever puts into a long lecture.

"I don't like 'bout Goliath at all," remarked Budge. "I'D like to
hear 'bout Ferus."

"Who?"

"Ferus; don't you know?"

"Never heard of him, Budge."

"Why--y--y--!" exclaimed Budge; "didn't you have no papa when you
was a little boy?"

"Yes, but he never told me about any one named Ferus; there's no
such person named in Anthon's Classical Dictionary, either. What
sort of a man was he?"

"Why, once there was a man, an' his name was Ferus--Offerus, an'
he went about fightin' for kings, but when any king got afraid of
anybody, he wouldn't fight for him no more. An' one day he
couldn't find no kings that wasn't afraid of nobody. An' the
people told him the Lord was the biggest king in the world, an' he
wasn't afraid of nobody or nothing. An' he asked 'em where he
could find the Lord, and they said he was way up in heaven so
nobody couldn't see him but the angels, but he liked folks to WORK
for him instead of fight. So Ferus wanted to know what kind of
work he could do, an' the people said there was a river not far
off, where there wasn't no ferry-boats, cos the water run so fast,
an' they guessed if he'd carry folks across, the Lord would like
it. So Ferus went there, and he cut him a good, strong cane, an'
whenever anybody wanted to go across the river he'd carry 'em on
his back.

"One night he was sittin' in his little house by the fire, and
smokin' his pipe an' readin' the paper, an' 'twas rainin' an'
blowin' an' hailin' an' stormin', an' he was so glad there wasn't
anybody wantin' to go 'cross the river, when he heard somebody
call out 'Ferus!' An' he looked out the window, but he couldn't
see nobody, so he sat down again. Then somebody called 'Ferus!'
again, and he opened the door again, an' there was a little bit of
a boy, 'bout as big as Toddie. An' Ferus said, 'Hullo, young
fellow, does your mother know you're out?' An' the little boy
said, 'I want to go 'cross the river.'--'Well,' says Ferus,
'you're a mighty little fellow to be travelin' alone, but hop up.'
So the little boy jumped up on Ferus's back, and Ferus walked into
the water. Oh, my--WASN'T it cold? An' every step he took that
little boy got heavier, so Ferus nearly tumbled down an' they
liked to both got drownded. An' when they got across the river
Ferus said, 'Well, you ARE the heaviest small fry I ever carried,'
an' he turned around to look at him, an' 'twasn't no little boy at
all--'twas a big man--'twas Christ. An' Christ said, 'Ferus, I
heard you was tryin' to work for me, so I thought I'd come down
an' see you, an' not let you know who I was. An' now you shall
have a new name; you shall be called CHRISTofferus, cos that means
Christ-carrier.' An' everybody called him Christofferus after
that, an' when he died they called him SAINT Christopher, cos
Saint is what they called good people when they're dead."

Budge himself had the face of a rapt saint as he told this story,
but my contemplation of his countenance was suddenly arrested by
Toddie, who, disapproving of the unexciting nature of his
brother's recital, had strayed into the garden, investigated a
hornet's nest, been stung, and set up a piercing shriek. He ran in
to me, and as I hastily picked him up, he sobbed:--

"Want to be wocked. [Footnote: Rocked.] Want 'Toddie one boy
day.'"

I rocked him violently, and petted him tenderly, but again he
sobbed:--

"Want 'Toddie one boy day.'"

"What DOES the child mean?" I exclaimed.

"He wants you to sing to him about 'Charley boy one day,'" said
Budge. "He always wants mamma to sing that when he's hurt, an'
then he stops crying."

"I don't know it," said I. "Won't 'Roll, Jordan,' do, Toddie?"

"I'LL tell you how it goes," said Budge, and forthwith the youth
sang the following song, a line at a time, I following him in
words and air:--

    "Where is my little bastik [Footnote: Basket.] gone?"
    Said Charley, one boy day;
    "I guess some little boy or girl
    Has taken it away.

    "An' kittie, too--where ISH she gone?
    Oh dear, what shall I do?
    I wish I could my bastik find,
    An' little kittie, too.

    "I'll go to mamma's room an' look;
    Perhaps she may be there;
    For kittie likes to take a nap
    In mamma's easy chair.

    "O mamma, mamma, come an' look
    See what a little heap!
    Here's kittie in the bastik here,
    All cuddled down to sleep."

Where the applicability of this poem to my nephew's peculiar
trouble appeared, I could not see, but as I finished it, his sobs
gave place to a sigh of relief.

"Toddie," said I, "do you love your Uncle Harry?"

"Esh, I DO love you."

"Then tell me how that ridiculous song comforts you."

"Makes me feel good, an' all nicey," replied Toddie.

"Wouldn't you feel just as good if I sang, 'Plunged in a gulf of
dark despair'?"

"No, don't like dokdishpairs; if a dokdishpair done anyfing to me,
I'd knock it right down dead."

With this extremely lucid remark, our conversation on this
particular subject ended; but I wondered, during a few uneasy
moments, whether the temporary mental aberration which had once
afflicted Helen's grandfather and mine was not reappearing in
this, his youngest descendant. My wondering was cut short by
Budge, who remarked, in a confident tone:--

"Now, Uncle Harry, we'll have the whistles, I guess."

I acted upon the suggestion, and led the way to the woods. I had
not had occasion to seek a hickory sapling before for years; not
since the war, in fact, when I learned how hot a fire small
hickory sticks would make. I had not sought wood for whistles
since--gracious, nearly a quarter of a century ago! The dissimilar
associations called up by these recollections threatened to put me
in a frame of mind which might have resulted in a bad poem, had
not my nephews kept up a lively succession of questions such as no
one but children can ask. The whistles completed, I was marched,
with music, to the place where the "Jacks" grew. It was just such
a place as boys instinctively delight in--low, damp, and boggy,
with a brook hiding treacherously away under overhanging ferns and
grasses. The children knew by sight the plant which bore the
"Jacks," and every discovery was announced by a piercing shriek of
delight. At first I looked hurriedly toward the brook as each yell
clove the air; but, as I became accustomed to it, my attention was
diverted by some exquisite ferns. Suddenly, however, a succession
of shrieks announced that something was wrong, and across a large
fern I saw a small face in a great deal of agony. Budge was
hurrying to the relief of his brother, and was soon as deeply
imbedded as Toddie was in the rich black mud, at the bottom of the
brook. I dashed to the rescue, stood astride the brook, and
offered a hand to each boy, when a treacherous tuft of grass gave
way, and, with a glorious splash, I went in myself. This accident
turned Toddie's sorrow to laughter, but I can't say I made light
of my misfortune on that account. To fall into CLEAN water is not
pleasant, even when one is trout-fishing; but to be clad in white
pants, and suddenly drop nearly knee-deep in the lap of mother
Earth is quite a different thing. I hastily picked up the
children, and threw them upon the bank, and then wrathfully strode
out myself, and tried to shake myself as I have seen a
Newfoundland dog do. The shake was not a success--it caused my
trouser-leg to flap dismally about my ankles, and sent the streams
of loathsome ooze trickling down into my shoes. My hat, of drab
felt, had fallen off by the brookside, and been plentifully
spattered as I got out. I looked at my youngest nephew with
speechless indignation.

"Uncle Harry," said Budge, "'twas real good of the Lord to let you
be with us, else Toddie might have been drownded."

"Yes," said I, "and I shouldn't have much--"

"Ocken Hawwy," cried Toddie, running impetuously toward me,
pulling me down, and patting my cheek with his muddy black hand,
"I LOVES you for takin' me out de water."

"I accept your apology," said I, "but let's hurry home." There was
but one residence to pass, and that, thank fortune, was so densely
screened by shrubbery that the inmates could not see the road. To
be sure, we were on a favorite driving road, but we could reach
home in five minutes, and we might dodge into the woods if we
heard a carriage coming. Ha! There came a carriage already, and
we--was there ever a sorrier-looking group? There were ladies in
the carriage, too--could it be--of course it was--did the evil
spirit, which guided those children always, send an attendant for
Miss Mayton before he began operations? There she was, anyway--
cool, neat, dainty, trying to look collected, but severely flushed
by the attempt. It was of no use to drop my eyes, for she had
already recognized me; so I turned to her a face which I think
must have been just the one--unless more defiant--that I carried
into two or three cavalry charges.

"You seem to have been having a real good time together," said
she, with a conventional smile, as the carriage passed. "Remember,
you're all going to call on me tomorrow afternoon."

Bless the girl! Her heart was as quick as her eyes--almost any
other young lady would have devoted her entire energy to laughing
on such an occasion, but SHE took her earliest opportunity to make
me feel at ease. Such a royal hearted woman deserves to--I caught
myself just here, with my cheeks growing quite hot under the mud
Toddie had put on them, and I led our retreat with a more stylish
carriage than my appearance could possibly have warranted, and
then I consigned my nephews to the maid with very much the air of
an officer turning over a large number of prisoners he had
captured. I hastily changed my soiled clothing for my best--not
that I expected to see any one, but because of a sudden increase
in the degree of respect I felt toward myself. When the children
were put to bed, and I had no one but my thoughts for companions,
I spent a delightful hour or two in imagining as possible some
changes of which I had never dared to think before.

On Monday morning I was in the garden at sunrise. Toddie was to
carry his expiatory bouquet to Miss Mayton that day, and I
proposed that no pains should be spared to make his atonement as
handsome as possible. I canvassed carefully every border, bed, and
detached flowering plant until I had as accurate an idea of their
possibilities as if I had inventoried the flowers in pen and ink.
This done, I consulted the servant as to the unsoiled clothing of
my nephews. She laid out their entire wardrobe for my inspection,
and after a rigid examination of everything I selected the suits
which the boys were to wear in the afternoon. Then I told the girl
that the boys were going with me after dinner to call on some
ladies, and that I desired that she should wash and dress them
carefully.

"Tell me just what time you'll start, sir, and I'll begin an hour
beforehand," said she. "That's the only way to be sure that they
don't disgrace you."

For breakfast we had, among other things, some stewed oysters
served in soup-plates.

"O Todd," shrieked Budge, "there's the turtle-plates again--oh,
AIN'T I glad!"

"Oo--ee--turtle pyates," squealed Toddie.

"What on earth do you mean, boys?" I demanded.

"I'll show you," said Budge, jumping down from his chair and
bringing his plate of oysters cautiously toward me. "Now you just
put your head down underneath my plate, and look up, and you'll
see a turtle."

For a moment I forgot that I was not at a restaurant, and I took
the plate, held it up, and examined its bottom.

"There!" said Budge, pointing to the trademark, in colors, of the
makers of the crockery, "don't you see the turtle?"

I abruptly ordered Budge to his seat, unmoved even by Toddie's
remark, that--

"Dey ish turtles, but dey can't knawl awound like udder turtles."

After breakfast I devoted a great deal of fussy attention to
myself. Never did my own wardrobe seem so meager and ill--
assorted; never did I cut myself so many times while shaving;
never did I use such unsatisfactory shoe-polish. I finally gave up
in despair my effort to appear genteel, and devoted myself to the
bouquet. I cut almost flowers enough to dress a church, and then
remorselessly excluded every one which was in the least particular
imperfect. In making the bouquet I enjoyed the benefit of my
nephews' assistance and counsel and took enforced part in
conversation which flowers suggested.

"Ocken Hawwy," said Toddie, "ish heaven all like this, wif pretty
f'owers? Cos I don't see what ze angels ever turns out for if
'tis."

"Uncle Harry," said Budge, "when the leaves all go up and down and
wriggle around so, are they talking to the wind?"

"I--I guess so, old fellow."

"Who are you making that bouquet for, Uncle Harry?" asked Budge.

"For a lady--for Miss Mayton--that lady that saw us all muddy
yesterday afternoon," said I.

"Oh, I like her," said Budge. "She looks so nice and pretty--just
like a cake--just as if she was good to eat--Oh, I just love her,
don't YOU?"

"Well, I respect her very highly, Budge."

"'Spect? What does 'spect mean?"

"Why, it means that I think she's a lady--a real pleasant lady-
just the nicest sort of lady in the world--the sort of person I'd
like to see every day, and like to see her better than any one
else."

"Oh, why, 'spect an' love means just the same thing, don't they,
Uncle Har--"

"Budge," I exclaimed, somewhat hastily "run ask Maggie for a piece
of string--quick!"

"All right," said Budge, moving off, "but they DO, don't they?"

At two o'clock I instructed Maggie to dress my nephews, and at
three we started to make our call. To carry Toddie's bouquet, and
hold a hand of each boy so as to keep them from darting into the
hedges for grasshoppers, and the gutters for butterflies, was no
easy work, but I managed to do it. As we approached Mrs.
Clarkson's boarding-house I felt my hat was over one ear, and my
cravat awry, but there was no opportunity to rearrange them, for I
saw Alice Mayton on the piazza, and felt that she saw me. Handing
the bouquet to Toddie, and promising him three sticks of candy if
he would be careful and not drop it, we entered the garden. The
moment we were inside the hedge and Toddie saw a man going over
the lawn with a lawn-mower, he shrieked: "Oh, deresh a cutter-
grass!" and dropped the bouquet with the carelessness born of
perfect ecstasy. I snatched it before it reached the ground,
dragged the offending youth up the walk, saluted Miss Mayton, and
told Toddie to give the bouquet to the lady. This he succeeded in
doing, but as Miss Mayton thanked him and stooped to kiss him he
wriggled off the piazza like a little eel, shouted, "Tum on!" to
his brother, and a moment later my nephews were following the
"cutter-grass" at a respectful distance in the rear.

"Those are my sister's best children in the world, Miss Mayton,"
said I.

"Bless the little darlings!" replied the lady; "I DO love to see
children enjoying themselves."

"So do I," said I, "when I'm not responsible for their well-being;
but if the effort I've expended on those boys had been directed
toward the interests of my employers, those worthy gentlemen would
consider me invaluable."

Miss Mayton made some witty reply, and we settled to a pleasant
chat about mutual acquaintances, about books, pictures, music, and
the gossip of our set. I would cheerfully have discussed Herbert
Spencer's system, the Assyrian Tablets, or any other dry subject
with Miss Mayton, and felt that I was richly repaid by the
pleasure of seeing her. Handsome, intelligent, composed,
tastefully dressed, without a suspicion of the flirt or the
languid woman of fashion about her, she awakened to the uttermost
every admiring sentiment and every manly feeling. But, alas, my
enjoyment was probably more than I deserved, so it was cut short.
There were other ladies boarding at Mrs. Clarkson's, and as Miss
Mayton truthfully observed at our first meeting, men were very
scarce at Hillcrest. So the ladies, by the merest accident, of
course, happened upon the piazza, and each one was presented to
me, and common civility made it impossible for me to speak to Miss
Mayton more than once in ten minutes. At any other time and place
I should have found the meeting of so many ladies a delightful
experience, but now--

Suddenly a compound shriek arose from the lawn, and all the ladies
sprang to their feet. I followed their example, setting my teeth
firmly and viciously, hoping that whichever nephew had been hurt
was BADLY hurt. We saw Toddie running towards us with one hand in
his mouth, while Budge ran beside him, exclaiming:--

"POOR little Toddie! Don't cry! DOES it hurt you awful? Never
mind--Uncle Harry'll comfort you. Don't cry, Toddie DE-ar!"

Both boys reached the piazza steps, and clambered up, Budge
exclaiming:--

"O, Uncle Harry, Toddie put his fingers in the little wheels of
the cutter-grass, an' it turned just the least little biddie, an'
it hurted him."

But Toddie ran up to me, clasped my legs, and sobbed.

"Sing 'Toddie one boy day.'"

My blood seemed to freeze. I could have choked that dreadful
child, suffering though he was. I stooped over him, caressed him,
promised him candy, took out my watch and gave it to him to play
with, but he returned to his original demand. A lady--the
homeliest in the party--suggested that she should bind up his
hand, and I inwardly blessed her, but he reiterated his request
for "Toddie one boy day," and sobbed pitifully.

"What DOES he mean?" asked Miss Mayton.

"He wants Uncle Harry to sing, 'Charley boy one day,'" explained
Budge; "he always wants that song when he's hurt any way."

"Oh, do sing it to him, Mr. Burton," pleaded Miss Mayton; and all
the other ladies exclaimed, "Oh, do!"

I wrathfully picked him up in my arms, and hummed the air of the
detested song.

"Sit in a wockin'-chair," sobbed Toddie.

I obeyed; and then my tormentor remarked:--

"You don't sing the wydes (words),--I wants the wydes."

I sang the words as softly as possible with my lips close to his
ear, but he roared:--

"Sing louder."

"I don't know any more of it, Toddie," I exclaimed in desperation.

"Oh, I'll tell it all to you, Uncle Harry," said Budge. And there,
before that audience, and HER, I was obliged to sing that dreadful
doggerel, line for line, as Budge repeated it. My teeth were set
tight, my brow grew clammy, and I gazed upon Toddie with terrible
thoughts in my mind. No one laughed--I grew so desperate that a
titter would have given relief. At last I heard some one whisper:--

"SEE how he loves him! Poor man!--he's in perfect agony over the
little fellow."

Had not the song reached its natural end just then, I believe I
should have tossed my wounded nephew over the piazza rail. As it
was, I set him upon his feet, announced the necessity of our
departure, and began to take leave, when Miss Mayton's mother
insisted that we should stay to dinner.

"For myself, I should be delighted, Mrs. Mayton," said I; "but my
nephews have hardly learned company manners yet. I'm afraid my
sister wouldn't forgive me if she heard I had taken them out to
dinner."

"Oh, I'll take care of the little dears," said Miss Mayton;
"they'll be good with ME, I KNOW."

"I couldn't be so unkind as to let you try it, Miss Mayton," I
replied. But she insisted, and the pleasure of submitting to her
will was so great that I would have risked even greater mischief.
So Miss Mayton sat down to dinner with Budge upon one side and
Toddie on the other, while I was fortunately placed opposite, from
which position I could indulge in warning winks and frowns. The
soup was served. I signaled the boys to tuck their napkins under
their chins, and then turned to speak to the lady on my right. She
politely inclined her head toward me, but her thoughts seemed
elsewhere; following her eyes, I beheld my youngest nephew with
his plate upraised in both hands, his head on the table-cloth, and
his eyes turned painfully upward. I dared not speak, for fear he
would drop the plate. Suddenly he withdrew his head, put on an
angelic smile, tilted his plate so part of its contents sought
refuge in the fold of Miss Mayton's dainty, snowy dress, while the
offender screamed:--

"Oo--ee--!--zha turtle on my pyate!--Budgie, zha turtle on my
pyate!"

Budge was about to raise the plate when he caught my eye and
desisted. Poor Miss Mayton actually looked discomposed for the
first time in her life, so far as I knew or could imagine. She
recovered quickly, however, and treated that wretched boy with the
most Christian forbearance and consideration during the remainder
of the meal. When the dessert was finished she quickly excused
herself, while I removed Toddie to a secluded corner of the
piazza, and favored him with a lecture which caused him to howl
pitifully, and compelled me to caress him and undo all the good
which my rebukes had done. Then he and Budge removed themselves to
the lawn, while I awaited Miss Mayton's reappearance, to offer an
apology for Toddie, and to make our adieus. It was the custom of
the ladies at Mrs. Clarkson's to stroll about the lovely rural
walks after dinner and until twilight; and on this particular
evening they departed in twos and threes, leaving me to make my
apology without witnesses. I was rather sorry they went; it was
not pleasant to feel that I was principally responsible for my
nephews' blunder, and to have no opportunity to allay my
conscience-pangs by conversation. It seemed to me Miss Mayton was
forever in appearing; I even called up my nephews to have some one
to talk to.

Suddenly she appeared, and in an instant I fervently blessed
Toddie and the soup which the child had sent upon its aimless
wanderings. I would rather pay the price of a fine dress than try
to describe Miss Mayton's attire; I can only say that in style,
color and ornament it became her perfectly, and set off the
beauties of a face which I had never before thought was more than
pleasing and intelligent. Perhaps the anger which was excusable
after Toddie's graceless caper had something to do with putting
unusual color into her cheeks, and a brighter sparkle than usual
in her eyes. Whatever was the cause, she looked queenly, and I
half imagined that I detected in her face a gleam of satisfaction
at the involuntary start which her unexpected appearance caused me
to make. She accepted my apology for Toddie with queenly
graciousness, and then, instead of proposing that we should follow
the other ladies, as a moment before I had hoped she would, she
dropped into a chair. I accepted the invitation; the children
should have been in bed half an hour before, but my sense of
responsibility had departed when Miss Mayton appeared. The little
scamps were safe until they should perform some new and unexpected
act of impishness. They retired to one end of the piazza, and
busied themselves in experiments upon a large Newfoundland dog,
while I, the happiest man alive, talked to the glorious woman
before me, and enjoyed the spectacle of her radiant beauty. The
twilight came and deepened, but imagination prevented the vision
from fading. With the coming of the darkness and the starlight,
our voices unconsciously dropped to lower tones, and HER voice
seemed purest music. And yet we said nothing which all the world
might not have listened to without suspecting a secret. The ladies
returned in little groups, but either out of womanly intuition or
in answer to my unspoken but fervent prayers, passed us and went
into the house. I was affected by an odd mixture of desperate
courage and despicable cowardice. I determined to tell her all,
yet I shrank from the task with more terror than ever befell me in
the first steps of a charge.

Suddenly a small shadow came from behind us and stood between us,
and the voice of Budge remarked:--

"Uncle Harry 'spects you, Miss Mayton."

"Suspects me?--of what, pray?" exclaimed the lady, patting my
nephew's cheek.

"Budge!" said I--I feel that my voice rose nearly to a scream--
"Budge, I must beg of you to respect the sanctity of confidential
communications."

"What is it, Budge?" persisted Miss Mayton; "you know the old
adage, Mr. Burton: 'Children and fools speak the truth.' Of what
does he suspect me, Budge?"

"'Tain't SUS-pect at all," said Budge, "it's es-pect."

"Expect?" echoed Miss Mayton.

"No, not 'ex,' it's ES-spect. I know all about it, 'cause I asked
him. Espect is what folks do when they think you're nice, and like
to talk to you, and--"

"Respect is what the boy is trying to say, Miss Mayton," I
interrupted, to prevent what I feared might follow. "Budge has a
terrifying faculty for asking questions, and the result of some of
them, this morning, was my endeavor to explain to him the nature
of the respect in which gentlemen hold ladies."

"Yes," continued Budge, "I know all about it. Only Uncle Harry
don't say it right. What he calls espect _I_ calls LOVE."

There was an awkward pause--it seemed an age. Another blunder, and
all on account of those dreadful children. I could think of no
possible way to turn the conversation; stranger yet, Miss Mayton
could not do so either. Something MUST be done--I could at least
be honest, come what would--I would be honest.

"Miss Mayton," said I, hastily, earnestly, but in a very low tone,
"Budge is a marplot, but he is a truthful interpreter for all
that. But whatever my fate may be, please do not suspect me of
falling suddenly into love for a holiday's diversion. My malady is
of some months' standing. I--"

"I want to talk SOME," observed Budge. "You talk all the whole
time. I--I--when _I_ loves anybody I kisses them."

Miss Mayton gave a little start, and my thoughts followed each
other with unimagined rapidity. SHE did not turn the conversation
--it could not be possible that she COULD not. She was not angry,
or she would have expressed herself. Could it be that--

I bent over her and acted upon Budge's suggestion. As she
displayed no resentment, I pressed my lips a second time to her
forehead, then she raised her head slightly, and I saw, in spite
of darkness and shadows, that Alice Mayton had surrendered at
discretion. Taking her hand and straightening myself to my full
height, I offered to the Lord mere fervent thanks than he ever
heard from me in church. Then I heard Budge say, "_I_ wants to
kiss you, too," and I saw my glorious Alice snatch the little
scamp into her arms, and treat him with more affection than I ever
imagined was in her nature. Then she seized Toddie, and gave him a
few tokens of forgiveness--I dare not think they were of
gratitude.

Suddenly two or three ladies came upon the piazza.

"Come, boys," said I. "Then I'll call with the carriage tomorrow
at three, Miss Mayton. Good evening."

"Good evening," replied the sweetest voice in the world; "I'll be
ready at three."

"Budge," said I, as soon as we were fairly outside the hedge-gate,
"what do you like better than anything else in the world?"

"Candy," said Budge, very promptly.

"What next?"

"Oranges."

"What next?"

"Oh, figs, an' raisins, an' dear little kittie-kitties, an' drums,
an' picture-books, an' little bakin' dishes to make mud-pies in,
an' turtles, an' little wheelbarrows."

"Anything else?"

"Oh, yes--great big black dogs--an' a goat, an' a wagon for him to
draw me in."

"Very well, old fellow--you shall have every one of those things
tomorrow."

"Oh--h--h--h--h!" exclaimed Budge, "I guess you're something like
the Lord, ain't you?"

"What makes you think so, Budge?"

"Oh, 'cause you can do such lots of things at once. But ain't poor
little Tod goin' to have noffin'?"

"Yes, everything he wants. What would you like, Toddie?"

"Wants a candy cigar," replied Toddie.

"What else?"

"Don't want NUFFIN' else--don't want to be boddered wif LOTS of
fings."

The thoughts which were mine that night--the sense of how
glorious a thing it is to be a man and be loved--the humility that
comes with such a victory as I had gained--the rapid alternation
of happy thoughts and noble resolutions--what man is there who
does not know my whole story better than I can tell it? I put my
nephews to bed; I told them every story they asked for; and when
Budge, in saying his prayers, said "an' bless that nice lady that
Uncle Harry 'spects," I interrupted his devotions with a hearty
hug. The children had been awake so far beyond their usual hour
for retiring that they dropped asleep without giving any special
notice of their intention to do so. Asleep, their faces were
simply angelic. As I stood, candle in hand, gazing gratefully upon
them, I remembered a sadly neglected duty. I hurried to the
library and wrote the following to my sister:

"HILLCREST, Monday Night.

"DEAR HELEN:--I should have written you before had I been exactly
certain what to say about your boys. I confess that until now I
have been blind to some of their virtues, and have imagined I
detected an occasional fault. But the scales have fallen from my
eyes, and I see clearly that my nephews are angels--positively
angels. If I seem to speak extravagantly, I beg to refer you to
Alice Mayton for collateral evidence. Don't come home at all--
everything is just as it should be--even if you come, I guess I'll
invite myself to spend the rest of the summer with you; I've
changed my mind about its being a bore to live out of town and
take trains back and forth every day. Ask Tom to think over such
bits of real estate in your neighborhood as he imagines I might
like.

"I repeat it, the boys are angels, and Alice Mayton is another,
while the happiest man in the white goods trade is

"Your affectionate brother

"HARRY."

Early next morning I sought the society of my nephews. It was
absolutely necessary that I should overflow to SOME one--some one
who was sympathetic and innocent and pure. I longed for my sister
--my mother, but to SOME one I must talk at once. Budge fulfilled
my requirements exactly; he was an excellent listener, very
sympathetic by nature, and quick to respond. Not the wisdom of the
most reverend sage alive could have been so grateful to my ear as
that child's prattle was on that delightful morning. As for
Toddie--blessed be the law of compensation! his faculty of
repetition, and of echoing whatever he heard said, caused him to
murmur "Miff Mayton, Miff Mayton," all morning long, and the sound
gained in sweetness by its ceaseless iteration. To be sure, Budge
took early and frequent occasions to remind me of my promises of
the night before, and Toddie occasionally demanded the promised
candy cigar; but these very interruptions only added joy to my own
topic of interest each time it was resumed. The filling of Budge's
orders occupied two or three hours and all the vacant space in the
carriage; even then the goat and goat-carriage were compelled to
follow behind.

The program for the afternoon was arranged to the satisfaction of
every one. I gave the coachman, Mike, a dollar to harness the goat
and teach the children to drive him; this left me free to drive
off without being followed by two small figures and two pitiful
howls.

I always believed a horse was infected by the spirit of his
driver. My dear old four-footed military companions always seemed
to perfectly comprehend my desires and intentions, and certainly
my brother-in-law's horses entered into my own spirits on this
particular afternoon. They stepped proudly, they arched their
powerful necks handsomely, their feet seemed barely to touch the
ground; yet they did not grow restive under the bit, nor were they
frightened even at a hideous steam road-rolling machine which
passed us. As I drove up to Mrs. Clarkson's door I found that most
of the boarders were on the piazza--the memories of ladies are
usually good at times. Alice immediately appeared, composed of
course, but more radiant than ever.

"Why, where are the boys?" she exclaimed.

"I was afraid they might annoy your mother," I replied, "so I left
them behind."

"Oh, mother hardly feels well enough to go today," said she; "she
is lying down."

"Then we can pick up the boys on the road," said I, for which
remark, my enchantress, already descending the steps, gave me a
look which the ladies behind her would have given their best
switches to have seen.

We drove off as decorously as if it were Sunday and we were
driving to church; we industriously pointed out to each other
every handsome garden and tasteful residence we passed; we met
other people driving, and conversed fluently upon their horses,
carriages and dress. But when we reached the edge of the town, and
I turned into "Happy Valley," a road following the depressions and
curves of a long, well-wooded valley, in which there was not a
single straight line, I turned and looked into my darling's face.
Her eyes met mine, and, although they were full of a happiness
which I had never seen in them before, they filled with tears, and
their dear owner dropped her head on my shoulder. What we said on
that long drive would not interest the reader. I have learned by
experience to skip all love talks in novels; no matter how
delightful the lovers may be. Recalling now our conversation, it
does not seem to me to have had anything wonderful it in. I will
only say that if I had been happy on the evening before, my
happiness now seemed to be sanctified; to be favored with the love
and confidence of a simple girl scarcely past her childhood is to
receive a greater honor than court or field can bestow; but even
this honor is far surpassed by that which comes to a man when a
woman of rare intelligence, tact and knowledge of society and the
world, unburdens her heart of all its hopes and fears, and
unhesitatingly leaves her destiny to be shaped by his love. Women
like Alice Mayton do not thus give themselves unreservedly away
except when their trust is born of knowledge as well as affection,
and the realization of all this changed me on that afternoon from
whatever I had been into what I had long hoped I might one day be.

But the hours flew rapidly, and I reluctantly turned the horses'
heads homeward. We had left almost the whole of "Happy Valley"
behind us, and were approaching residences again.

"Now we must be very proper," said Alice.

"Certainly," I replied, "here's a good--by to happy nonsense for
this afternoon."

I leaned toward her, and gently placed one arm about her neck; she
raised her dear face, from which joy and trust had banished every
indication of caution and reserve, my lips sought hers, when
suddenly we heard a most unearthly, discordant shriek, which
presently separated into two, each of which prolonged itself
indefinitely. The horses started, and Alice--blessed be all
frights, now, henceforth, and forevermore!--clung tightly to me.
The sounds seemed to be approaching us, and were accompanied by a
lively rattling noise, that seemed to be made by something wooden.
Suddenly, as we approached a bend of the road, I saw my youngest
nephew appear from some unknown space, describe a parabolic curve
in the air, ricochet slightly from an earthy protuberance in the
road, and make a final stop in the gutter. At the same time there
appeared, from behind the bend, the goat, then the carriage
dragging on one side, and lastly, the boy Budge, grasping tightly
the back of the carriage body, and howling frightfully. A direct
collision between the carriage and a stone caused Budge to loose
his hold, while the goat, after taking in the scene, trotted
leisurely off, and disappeared in a road leading to the house of
his late owner.

"Budge," I shouted, "stop that bawling, and come here. Where's
Mike?"

"He--boo--hoo--went to--hoo--light his--boo--hoo--hoo--pipe, an' I
just let the--boo--hoo--whip go against to the goat, an' then he
scattooed."

"Nashty old goat scaddooed," said Toddie, in corroboration.

"Well, walk right home, and tell Maggie to wash and dress you,"
said I.

"O Harry," pleaded Alice, "after they've been in such danger! Come
here to your own Aunt Alice, Budgie dear,--and you, too, Toddie,--
you know you said we could pick the boys up on the road, Harry.
There, there--don't cry--let me wipe the ugly old dirt off you,
and kiss the face, and make it well."

"Alice," I protested, "don't let those dirty boys clamber all over
you in that way."

"Silence, sir," said she, with mock dignity; "who gave me my
lover, I should like to ask?"

So we drove up to the boarding-house with the air of people who
had been devoting themselves to a couple of very disreputable
children, and I drove swiftly away again, lest the children should
dispel the illusion. We soon met Mike, running. The moment he
recognized us, he shouted:--

"Aye, ye little dhivils,--beggin' yer pardon, Masther Harry, an'
thankin' the Howly Mither that their good-for-nothin' little bones
ain't broke to bits. Av they saw a hippypottymus hitched to
Pharaoh's chariot, they'd think 'emselves jist the byes to take
the bossin' av it, the spalpeens."

But no number of ordinary hippopotami and chariots could have
disturbed the heavenly tranquillity of my mind on this most
glorious of evenings. Even a subtle sense of the fitness of things
seemed to overshadow my nephews. Perhaps the touch of my
enchantress did it; perhaps it came only from the natural relapse
from great excitement; but no matter what the reason was, the fact
remains that for the rest of the evening two very dirty suits of
clothes held two children who gave one some idea of how the
denizens of Paradise might seem and act. They even ate their
suppers without indulging in any of the repulsive ways of which
they had so large an assortment, and they did not surreptitiously
remove from the table any fragments of bread and butter to leave
on the piano, in the card-basket, and other places inappropriate
to the reception of such varieties of abandoned property. They
demanded a song after supper, but when I sang, "Drink to Me only
with Thine Eyes," and "Thou, Thou, Reign'st in this Bosom," they
stood by with silent tongues and appreciative eyes. When they went
to bed, I accompanied them by special invitation, but they showed
no disposition to engage in the usual bedtime frolic and miniature
pandemonium. Budge, when in bed, closed his eyes, folded his hand
and prayed:--

"Dear Lord, bless papa an' mamma, an' Toddie, an' Uncle Harry, an'
everybody else; yes, an' bless just lots that lovely, lovely lady
that comforted me after the goat was bad to me, an' let her
comfort me lots of times, for Christ's sake, Amen."

And Toddie wriggled, twisted, breathed heavily, threw his head
back, and prayed:

"Dee Lord, don't let dat old goat fro me into de gutter on my head
aden, an' let Ocken Hawwy an' ze pitty lady be dere netst time I
dest hurted."

Then the good-night salutations were exchanged, and I left the
little darlings and enjoyed communion with my own thoughts which
were as peaceful and ecstatic as if the world contained no white
goods houses, no doubtful customers, no business competition, no
politics, gold rooms, stock-boards, doubtful banks, political
scandals, personal iniquity, nor anything which should prevent a
short vacation from lasting through a long lifetime.

The next morning would have struck terror to the heart of any one
but a newly accepted lover. Rain was falling fast, and in that
steady, industrious manner which seemed to assert an intention to
stick closely to business for the whole day. The sky was covered
by one impenetrable leaden cloud, water stood in pools in the
streets which were soft with dust a few hours before; the flowers
all hung their heads like vagabonds who had been awake all night
and were ashamed to face the daylight. Even the chickens stood
about in dejected attitudes, and stray roosters from other
poultry-yards found refuge in Tom's coop without first being
subjected to a trial of strength and skill by Tom's game-cock.

But no man in my condition of mind could be easily depressed by
bad weather. I would rather have been able to drive about under a
clear sky, or lounge under the trees, or walk to the post-office
in the afternoon by the road which passed directly in front of
Mrs. Clarkson's boarding-house; but man should not live for
himself alone. In the room next mine were slumbering two wee
people to whom I owed a great deal, who would mourn bitterly when
they saw the condition of the skies and ground--I would devote
myself to the task of making THEM so happy that they would forget
the absence of sunshine out of doors--I would sit by their bedside
and have a story ready for them the moment they awoke, and put
them in such a good humor that they could laugh, with me, at cloud
and rain.

I began at once to construct a story for their especial benefit;
the scene was to be a country residence on a rainy day, and the
actors two little boys who should become uproariously jolly in
spite of the weather. Like most people not used to story-making,
my progress was not very rapid; in fact, I had got no farther than
the plot indicated above when an angry snarl came from the
children's room.

"What's the matter, Budge?" I shouted, dressing myself as rapidly
as possible.

"Ow--oo--ya--ng--um--boc--gaa," was the somewhat complicated
response.

"What did you say, Budge?"

"Didn't say noffin'."

"Oh--that's what I thought."

"DIDN'T thought."

"Budge,--Budge,--be good."

"Don't WANT to be good--YA--A--A."

"Let's have some fun, Budge--don't you want to frolic?"

"No; I don't think frolic is nice."

"Don't you want some candy, Budge?"

"No--you ain't GOT no candy, I bleeve."

"Well, you sha'n't have any if you don't stop being so cross."

The only reply to this was a mighty and audible rustling of the
bedding in the boys' room, followed by a sound strongly resembling
that caused by a slap; then came a prolonged wail, resembling that
of an ungreased wagon-wheel.

"What's the matter, Toddie?"

"Budge s'apped me--ah--h--h--h!"

"What made you slap your brother, Budge?"

"I DIDN'T."

"You DID," screamed Toddie.

"I tell you I didn't--you're a naughty, bad boy to tell such lies,
Toddie."

"What DID you do, Budge?" I asked.

"Why--why--I was--I was turnin' over in bed, an' my hand was out,
and it tumbled against to Toddie--that's what."

By this time I was dressed and in the boy's room. Both my nephews
were sitting up in bed, Budge looking as sullen as an old jail-
bird, and Toddie with tears streaming all over his face.

"Boys," said I, "don't be angry with each other--it isn't right.
What do you suppose the Lord thinks when he sees you so cross to
each other?"

"He don't think noffin'," said Budge; "you don't think he can look
through a black sky like that, do you?"

"He can look anywhere, Budge, and he feels very unhappy when he
sees little brothers angry with each other."

"Well, I feel unhappy, too--I wish there wasn't never no old rain,
nor nothin'."

"Then what would the plants and flowers do for a drink, and where
would the rivers come from for you to go sailing on?"

"An' wawtoo to mate mud-pies," added Toddie. "You's a naughty boy,
Buggie;" and here Toddie's tears began to flow afresh.

"I AIN'T a bad boy, an' I don't want no old rain nohow, an' that's
all about it. An' I don't want to get up, an' Maggie must bring me
up my breakfast in bed."

"Boo--hoo--oo," wept Toddie, "wants my brepspup in bed too."

"Boys," said I, "now listen. You can't have any breakfast at all
unless you are up and dressed by the time the bell rings. The
rising bell rang some time ago. Now dress like good boys, and you
shall have some breakfast, and then you'll feel a great deal
nicer, and then Uncle Harry will play with you and tell you
stories all day long."

Budge crept reluctantly out of bed and caught up one of his
stockings, while Toddie again began to cry.

"Toddie," I shouted, "stop that dreadful racket, and dress
yourself. What are you crying for?"

"Well, I feelsh bad."

"Well, dress yourself, and you'll feel better."

"Wantsh YOU to djesh me."

"Bring me your clothes, then--quick!"

Again the tears flowed copiously. "Don't WANT to bring 'em," said
Toddie.

"Then come here!" I shouted, dragging him across the room, and
snatching up his tiny articles of apparel. I had dressed no small
children since I was rather a small boy myself, and Toddie's
clothing confused me somewhat. I finally got something on him,
when a contemptuous laugh from Budge interrupted me.

"How you goin' to put his shirt on under them things?" queried my
oldest nephew.

"Budge," I retorted, "how are you going to get any breakfast if
you don't put on something besides that stocking?"

The young man's countenance fell, and just then the breakfast bell
rang. Budge raised a blank face, hurried to the head of the stairs
and shouted:--

"Maggie?"

"What is it, Budge?"

"Was--was that the rising-bell or the breakfast-bell?"

"'Twas the breakfast-bell."

There was dead silence for a moment, and then Budge shouted:--

"Well, we'll call that the risin'-bell. You can ring another bell
for breakfast pretty soon when I get dressed." Then this volunteer
adjuster of household affairs came calmly back and commenced
dressing in good earnest, while I labored along with Toddie's
wardrobe.

"Where's the button-hook, Budge?" said I.

"It's--I--oh--um--I put it--say, Tod, what did you do with the
button-hook yesterday?"

"Didn't hazh no button-hook," asserted Toddie.

"Yes, you did; don't you remember how we was a playin' draw teef,
an' the doctor's dog had the toofache, and I was pullin' his teef
with the button-hook, an' you was my little boy, an' I gived the
toof-puller to you to hold for me? Where did you put it?"

"I'D no," replied Toddie, putting his hand in his pocket and
bringing out a sickly-looking toad.

"Feel again," said I, throwing the toad out the window, where it
was followed by an agonizing shriek from Toddie. Again he felt,
and his search was rewarded by the tension screw of Helen's
sewing-machine. Then I attempted some research myself, and
speedily found my fingers adhering to something of a sticky
consistency. I quickly withdrew my hand, exclaiming:--

"What nasty stuff HAVE you got in your pocket, Toddie?"

"'Taint nashty' tuff--it's byead an' 'lasses, an' its nice, an'
Budge an' me hazh little tea-parties in de kicken-coop, an' we
eats it, an' it's DOVELY."

All this was lucid and disgusting, but utterly unproductive of
button-hooks, and meanwhile the breakfast was growing cold. I
succeeded in buttoning Toddie's shoes with my fingers, splitting
most of my nails in the operation. I had been too busily engaged
with Toddie to pay any attention to Budge, who I now found about
half dressed and trying to catch flies on the windowpane.
Snatching Toddie, I started for the dining-room, when Budge
remarked reprovingly:--

"Uncle Harry, YOU wasn't dressed when the bell rang, and YOU
oughtn't to have any breakfast."

True enough--I was minus collar, cravat, and coat. Hurrying these
on, and starting again, I was once more arrested:--

"Uncle Harry, must I brush my teeth this morning?"

"No--hurry up--come down without doing anything more, if you like,
but COME--it'll be dinner-time before we get breakfast."

Then that imp was moved, for the first time that morning, to
something like good-nature, and he exclaimed with a giggle:--

"My! What big stomachs we'd have when we got done, wouldn't we?"

At the breakfast table Toddie wept again, because I insisted on
beginning operations before Budge came. Then neither boys knew
exactly what he wanted. Then Budge managed to upset the contents
of his plate into his lap, and while I was helping him clear away
the debris, Toddie improved the opportunity to pour his milk upon
his fish, and put several spoonfuls of oatmeal porridge into my
coffee-cup. I made an early excuse to leave the table and turn the
children over to Maggie. I felt as tired as if I had done a hard
day's work, and was somewhat appalled at realizing that the day
had barely begun. I lit a cigar and sat down to Helen's piano. I
am not a musician, but even the chords of a hand-organ would have
seemed sweet music to me on that morning. The music-book nearest
to my hand was a church hymn-book, and the first air my eye struck
was "Greenville." I lived once in a town, where, on a single day,
a pedler disposed of thirty-eight accordeons, each with an
instruction-book in which this same air under its original name
was the ONLY air. For years after, a single bar of this air
awakened the most melancholy reflections in my mind, but now I
forgave all my musical tormentors as the familiar strains came
comfortingly from the piano-keys. But suddenly I heard an
accompaniment--a sort of reedy sound--and, looking around, I saw
Toddie again in tears. I stopped abruptly and asked:--

"What's the matter NOW, Toddie?"

"Don't want dat old tune; wantsh dancin' tune, so I can dance."

I promptly played "Yankee Doodle," and Toddie began to trot around
the room with the expression of a man who intended to do his whole
duty. Then Budge appeared, hugging a bound volume of "St.
Nicholas." The moment Toddie espied this he stopped dancing and
devoted himself anew to the task of weeping.

"Toddie," I shouted, springing from the piano-stool, "what do you
mean by crying at everything? I shall have to put you to bed
again, if you're going to be such a baby."

"That's the way he ALWAYS does, rainy days," explained Budge.

"Wantsh to see the whay-al what fwollowed Djonah," sobbed Toddie.

"Can't you demand something that's within the range of
possibility, Toddie?" I mildly asked.

"The whale Toddie means is in this big red book,--I'll find it for
you," said Budge, turning over the leaves.

Suddenly a rejoicing squeal from Toddie announced that leviathan
had been found, and I hastened to gaze. He was certainly a
dreadful-looking animal, but he had an enormous mouth, which
Toddie caressed with his pudgy little hand, and kissed with
tenderness, murmuring as he did so:--

"DEE old whay-al, I loves you. Is Jonah all goneded out of you
'tomach, whay-al? I finks 'twas weal mean in Djonah to get froed
up when you hadn't noffin' else to eat, POOR old whay-al."

"Of COURSE Jonah's gone," said Budge, "he went to heaven long ago
--pretty soon after he went to Nineveh an' done what the Lord told
him to do. Now swing us, Uncle Harry."

The swing was on the piazza under cover from the rain; so I
obeyed. Both boys fought for the right to swing first, and when I
decided in favor of Budge, Toddie went off weeping, and declaring
that he would look at his dear whay-al anyhow. A moment later his
wail changed to a piercing shriek; and running to his assistance,
I saw him holding one finger tenderly and trampling on a wasp.

"What's the matter, Toddie?"

"Oo--oo--ee--ee--ee--EE--I putted my finger on a waps, and--oo--
oo--the nasty waps--oo--bited me. An' I don't like wapses a bit,
but I likes whay-als--oo--ee--ee."

A happy thought struck me. "Why don't you boys make believe that
big packing-box in your play-room is a whale?" said I.

A compound shriek of delight followed the suggestion, and both
boys scrambled upstairs, leaving me a free man again. I looked
remorsefully at the tableful of books which I had brought to read,
and had not looked at for a week. Even now my remorse did not move
me to open them--I found myself instead attracted toward Tom's
library, and conning the titles of novels and volumes of poems. My
eye was caught by "Initial,"--a love-story which I had always
avoided because I had heard impressible young ladies rave about
it; but now I picked it up and dropped into an easy chair.
Suddenly I heard Mike the coachman shouting:--

"Go away from there, will ye? Ah, ye little spalpeen, it's good
for ye that yer fahder don't see ye perched up dhere. Go way from
dhat, or I'll be tellin' yer uncle."

"Don't care for nasty old uncle," piped Toddie's voice.

I laid down my book with a sigh, and went into the garden. Mike
saw me and shouted:--

"Misther Burthon, will ye look dhere? Did ye's ever see the loike
av dhat bye?"

Looking up at the play-room window, a long, narrow sort of loop-
hole in a Gothic gable, I beheld my youngest nephew standing
upright on the sill.

"Toddie, go in--quick!" I shouted, hurrying under the window to
catch him in case he fell outward.

"I tan't," squealed Toddie.

"Mike, run up-stairs and snatch him in; Toddie, go on, I tell
you!"

"Tell you I TAN'T doe in," repeated Toddie. "ZE bit bots ish ze
whay-al, an' I'ez Djonah, an' ze whay-al's froed me up, an' I'ze
dot to 'tay up here else ze whay-al 'ill fwallow me aden."

"I won't LET him swallow you. Get in now--hurry," said I.

"Will you give him a penny not to fwallow me no more?" queried
Toddie.

"Yes--a whole lot of pennies."

"Aw wight. Whay-al, don't you fwallow me no more, an' zen my Ocken
Hawwy div you whole lots of pennies. You must be weal dood whay-al
now, an' then I buys you some tandy wif your pennies, an'--"

Just then two great hands seized Toddie's frock in front, and he
disappeared with a howl, while I, with the first feeling of
faintness I had ever experienced, went in search of hammer, nails,
and some strips of board, to nail on the outside of the window-
frame. But boards could not be found, so I went up to the play-
room and began to knock a piece or two off the box which had done
duty as whale. A pitiful scream from Toddie caused me to stop.

"You're hurtin' my dee old whay-al; you's brakin' his 'tomach all
open--you's a baddy man--'TOP hurtin' my whay-al, ee--ee--ee,"
cried my nephew.

"I'm not hurting him, Toddie," said I; "I'm making his mouth
bigger, so he can swallow you easier."

A bright thought came into Toddie's face and shone through his
tears. "Then he can fwallow Budgie too, an' there'l be two
Djonahs--ha--ha--ha! Make his mouf so big he can fwallow Mike, an'
zen mate it 'ittle aden, so Mike tan' det OUT; nashty old Mike!"

I explained that Mike would not come upstairs again, so I was
permitted to depart after securing the window.

Again I settled myself with book and cigar; there was at least for
me the extra enjoyment that comes from the sense of pleasure
earned by honest toil. Pretty soon Budge entered the room. I
affected not to notice him, but he was not in the least abashed by
my neglect.

"Uncle Harry," said he, throwing himself in my lap between my book
and me, "I don't feel a bit nice."

"What's the matter, old fellow?" I asked. Until he spoke I could
have boxed his ears with great satisfaction to myself; but there
is so much genuine feeling in whatever Budge says that he commands
respect.

"Oh, I'm tired of playin' with Toddie, an' I feel lonesome. Won't
you tell me a story?"

"Then what'll poor Toddie do, Budge?"

"Oh, he won't mind--he's got a dead mouse to be Jonah now, so I
don't have no fun at all. Won't you tell me a story?"

"Which one?"

"Tell me one that I never heard before at all."

"Well, let's see; I guess I'll tell--"

"Ah--ah--ah--ah--ee--ee--ee," sounded afar off, but fatefully. It
came nearer--it came down the stairway and into the library,
accompanied by Toddie, who, on spying me, dropped his inarticulate
utterance, held up both hands, and exclaimed:--

"Djonah bwoke he tay-al!"

True enough; in one hand Toddie held the body of a mouse, and in
the other that animal's caudal appendage; there was also
perceptible, though not by the sense of sight, an objectionable
odor in the room.

"Toddie," said I, "go throw Jonah into the chicken-coop, and I'll
give you some candy."

"Me too," shouted Budge, "cos I found the mouse for him."

I made both boys happy with candy, exacted a pledge not to go out
in the rain, and then, turning them loose on the piazza, returned
to my book. I had read perhaps half-a-dozen pages when there arose
and swelled rapidly in volume a scream from Toddie. Madly
determined to put both boys into chairs, tie them and clap
adhesive plaster over their mouths, I rushed out upon the piazza.

"Budgie tried to eat my candy," complained Toddie.

"I didn't," said Budge.

"What DID you do?" I demanded.

"I didn't bite it at all--I only wanted to see how it would feel
between my teeth--that's all."

I felt the corners of my mouth breaking down, and hurried back to
the library, where I spent a quiet quarter of an hour in pondering
over the demoralizing influence exerted upon principle by a sense
of the ludicrous. For some time afterward the boys got along
without doing anything worse than make a dreadful noise, which
caused me to resolve to find some method of deadening piazza-
floors if _I_ ever owned a house in the country. In the occasional
intervals of comparative quiet I caught snatches of very funny
conversation. The boys had coined a great many words whose meaning
was evident enough but I wonder greatly why Tom and Helen had
never taught them the proper substitutes.

Among others was the word "deader," whose meaning I could not
imagine. Budge shouted:--

"O Tod; there comes a deader. See where all them things like
rooster's tails are a-shakin'?--Well, there's a deader under
them."

"Dasth funny," remarked Toddie.

"An' see all the peoples a-comin' along," continued Budge, "THEY
know 'bout the deader, an' they're goin' to see it fixed. Here it
comes. Hello, deader!"

"Hay-oh, deader," echoed Toddie.

What COULD deader mean?

"Oh, here it is right in front of us," cried Budge, "and AIN'T
there lots of people? An' two horses to pull the deader--SOME
deaders has only one."

My curiosity was too much for my weariness; I went to the front
window, and, peering through, saw--a funeral procession! In a
second I was on the piazza, with my hands on the children's
collars; a second later two small boys were on the floor of the
hall, the front door was closed, and two determined hands covered
two threatening little mouths.

When the procession had fairly passed the house I released the
boys and heard two prolonged howls for my pains. Then I asked
Budge if he wasn't ashamed to talk that way when a funeral was
passing.

"'TWASN'T a funeral," said he. "'Twas only a deader, an' deaders
can't hear nothin'."

"But the people in the carriages could," said I.

"Well," said he, "they was so glad that the other part of the
deader had gone to heaven that they didn't care WHAT I said.
Ev'rybody's glad when the other parts of deaders go to heaven.
Papa told me to be glad that dear little Phillie was in heaven,
an' I WAS, but I do want to see him again awful."

"Wantsh to shee Phillie aden awfoo," said Toddie, as I kissed
Budge and hurried off to the library, unfit just then to
administer farther instruction or reproof. Of one thing I was very
certain--I wished the rain would cease falling, so the children
could go out of doors, and I could get a little rest, and freedom
from responsibility. But the skies showed no signs of being
emptied, the boys were snarling on the stairway, and I was losing
my temper quite rapidly.

Suddenly I bethought me of one of the delights of my own childish
days--the making of scrap-books. One of Tom's library drawers held
a great many Lady's Journals. Of course Helen meant to have them
bound, but I could easily repurchase the numbers for her; they
would cost two or three dollars; but peace was cheap at that
price. On a high shelf in the playroom I had seen some
supplementary volumes of "Mercantile Agency" reports which would
in time reach the rag-bag; there was a bottle of mucilage in the
library-desk, and the children owned an old pair of scissors.
Within five minutes I had located two happy children on the bath-
room floor, taught them to cut out pictures (which operation I
quickly found they understood as well as I did) and to paste them
into the extemporized scrap-book. Then I left them, recalling
something from Newman Hall's address on "The Dignity of Labor."
Why hadn't I thought before of showing my nephews some way of
occupying their mind and hands? Who could blame the helpless
little things for following every prompting of their unguided
minds? Had I not a hundred times been told, when sent to the wood-
pile or the weediest part of the garden in my youthful days, that

    "Satan finds some mischief still
    For idle hands to do?"

"Never again would I blame children for being mischievous when
their minds were neglected.

I spent a peaceful, pleasant hour over my novel, when I felt that
a fresh cigar would be acceptable. Going up-stairs in search of
one I found that Budge had filled the bathtub with water, and was
sailing boats, that is, hair-brushes. Even this seemed too mild an
offense to call for a rebuke, so I passed on without disturbing
him, and went to my own room. I heard Toddie's voice, and having
heard from my sister that Toddie's conversations with himself were
worth listening to, I paused outside the door. I heard Toddie
softly murmur:--

"Zere, pitty yady, 'tay ZERE. Now, 'ittle boy, I put you wif your
mudder, tause mudders likes zere 'ittle boys wif zem. An' you sall
have 'ittle sister tudder side of you,--zere. Now, 'ittle boy's
an' 'ittle girl's mudder, don't you feel happy?--isn't I awfoo
good to give you your 'ittle tsilderns? You ought to say, 'Fank
you, Toddie,--you'se a nice, fweet 'ittle djentleman.'"

I peered cautiously--then I entered the room hastily. I didn't say
anything for a moment, for it was impossible to do justice,
impromptu, to the subject. Toddie had a progressive mind--if
pictorial ornamentation was good for old books, why should not
similar ornamentation be extended to objects more likely to be
seen? Such may not have been Toddie's line of thought, but his
recent operations warranted such a supposition. He had cut out a
number of pictures, and pasted them upon the wall of my room--my
sister's darling room, with its walls tinted exquisitely in pink.
As a member of a hanging committee, Toddie would hardly have
satisfied taller people, but he had arranged the pictures quite
regularly, at about the height of his own eyes, had favored no one
artist more than another, and had hung indiscriminately figure
pieces, landscapes, and genre pictures. The temporary break of
wall-line, occasioned by the door communicating with his own room,
he had overcome by closing the door and carrying a line of
pictures across its lower panels. Occasionally, a picture fell off
the wall, but the mucilage remained faithful, and glistened with
its fervor of devotion. And yet so untouched was I by this
artistic display, that when I found strength to shout "Toddie!" it
was in a tone which caused this industrious amateur decorator to
start violently, and drop his mucilage-bottle, open end first,
upon the carpet.

"What will mamma say?" I asked.

Toddie gazed, first blankly and then inquiringly, into my face;
finding no answer or sympathy there, he burst into tears, and
replied:--

"I dunno."

The ringing of the lunch-bell changed Toddie from a tearful cherub
into a very practical, business-like boy, and shouting "Come on,
Budge!" he hurried down-stairs, while I tormented myself with
wonder as to how I could best and most quickly undo the mischief
Toddie had done.

I will concede to my nephews the credit of keeping reasonably
quiet during meals; their tongues doubtless longed to be active in
both the principal capacities of those useful members, but they
had no doubt as to how to choose between silence and hunger. The
result was a reasonably comfortable half-hour. Just as I began to
cut a melon, Budge broke the silence by exclaiming:--

"O Uncle Harry, we haven't been out to see the goat to-day!"

"Budge," I replied, "I'll carry you out there under an umbrella
after lunch, and you may play with that goat all the afternoon, if
you like."

"Oh, won't that be nice?" exclaimed Budge. "The poor goat! he'll
think I don't love him a bit, 'cause I haven't been to see him to-
day. Does goats go to heaven when they die, Uncle Harry?"

"Guess not--they'd make trouble in the golden streets, I'm
afraid."

"Oh, dear! then Phillie can't see my goat. I'm so awful sorry,"
said Budge.

"_I_ can see your goat, Budgie," suggested Toddie.

"Huh!" said Budge, very contemptuously. "YOU ain't dead."

"Well, Izhe GOIN' to be dead some day 'an zen your nashty old goat
sha'n't see me a bit--see how he like ZAT." And Toddie made a
ferocious attack on a slice of melon nearly as large as himself.

After lunch Toddie was sent to his room to take his afternoon nap,
and Budge went to the barn on my shoulders. I gave Mike a dollar,
with instructions to keep Budge in sight, to keep him from teasing
the goat, and to prevent his being impaled or butted. Then I
stretched myself on a lounge, and wondered whether only half a day
of daylight had elapsed since I and the most adorable woman in the
world had been so happy together. How much happier I would be when
next I met her! The very torments of this rainy day would make my
joy seem all the dearer and more intense. I dreamed happily for a
few moments with my eyes open, and then somehow they closed,
without my knowledge. What put into my mind the wreck-scene from
the play of "David Copperfield," I don't know; but there it came,
and in my dream I was sitting in the balcony at Booth's, and
taking a proper interest in the scene, when it occurred to me that
the thunder had less of reverberation and more woodenness than
good stage thunder should have. The mental exertion I underwent on
this subject disturbed the course of my nap, but as wakefulness
returned, the sound of the poorly simulated thunder did not cease;
on the contrary, it was just as noisy, and more hopelessly a
counterfeit than ever. What could the sound be? I stepped through
the window to the piazza, and the sound was directly over my head.
I sprang down the terrace and out upon the lawn, looked up, and
beheld my youngest nephew strutting back and forth on the tin roof
of the piazza, holding over his head a ragged old parasol. I
roared--

"Go in, Toddie--this instant!"

The sound of my voice startled the young man so severely that he
lost his footing, fell, and began to roll toward the edge and to
scream, both operations being performed with great rapidity. I ran
to catch him as he fell, but the outer edge of the water-trough
was high enough to arrest his progress, though it had no effect in
reducing the volume of his howls.

"Toddie," I shouted, "lie perfectly still until uncle can get to
you. Do you hear?"

"Ess, but don't want to lie 'till," came in reply from the roof.
"'Tan't shee noffin' but sky an' rain."

"Lie still," I reiterated, "or I'll whip you dreadfully." Then I
dashed up-stairs, removed my shoes, climbed out and rescued
Toddie, shook him soundly, and then shook myself.

"I wazh only djust pyayin' mamma, an' walkin' in ze yain wif an
umbayalla," Toddie explained.

I threw him upon his bed and departed. It was plain that neither
logic, threats, nor the presence of danger could keep this
dreadful child from doing whatever he chose; what other means of
restraint could be employed? Although not as religious a man as my
good mother could wish, I really wondered whether prayer, as a
last resort, might not be effective. For his good, and my own
peace, I would cheerfully have read through the whole prayer-book.
I could hardly have done it just then, though, for Mike solicited
an audience at the back door, and reported that Budge had given
the carriage-sponge to the goat, put handfuls of oats into the
pump-cylinder, pulled hairs out of the black mare's tail, and
with a sharp nail drawn pictures on the enamel of the carriage-
body. Budge made no denial, but looked very much aggrieved, and
remarked that he couldn't never be happy without somebody having
to go get bothered; and he wished there wasn't nobody in the world
but organ-grinders and candy-store men. He followed me into the
house, flung himself into a chair, put on a look which I imagine
Byron wore before he was old enough to be malicious, and
exclaimed:--

"I don't see what little boys was made for anyhow; if ev'rybody
gets cross with them, an' don't let 'em do what they want to. I'll
bet when I get to heaven, the Lord won't be as ugly to me as Mike
is,--an' some other folks, too. I wish I could die and be buried
right away,--me an' the goat--an' go to heaven, where we wouldn't
be scolded."

Poor little fellow! First I laughed inwardly at his idea of
heaven, and then I wondered whether my own was very different from
it, or any more creditable. I had no time to spend even in pious
reflection, however. Budge was quite wet, his shoes were soaking,
and he already had an attack of catarrh; so I took him to his room
and re-dressed him, wondering all the while how much similar
duties my own father had had to do by me had shortened his life,
and how, with such a son as I was, he lived as long as he did. The
idea that I was in some slight degree atoning for my early sins,
so filled my thoughts, that I did not at first notice the absence
of Toddie. When it DID become evident to me that my youngest
nephew was not in the bed in which I had placed him, I went in
search of him. He was in none of the chambers, but hearing gentle
murmurs issue from a long, light closet, I looked in and saw
Toddie sitting on the floor, and eating the cheese out of a mouse-
trap. A squeak of my boots betrayed me, and Toddie, equal to the
emergency, sprang to his feet and exclaimed:--

"I didn't hurt de 'ittle mousie one bittie; I just letted him out,
and he runded away."

And still it rained. Oh, for a single hour of sunlight, so that
the mud might be only damp dirt, and the children could play
without tormenting other people! But it was not to be; slowly, and
by the aid of songs, stories, an improvised menagerie, in which I
personated every animal, besides playing ostrich and armadillo,
and a great many disagreements, the afternoon wore to its close,
and my heart slowly lightened. Only an hour or two more, and the
children would be in bed for the night, and then I would enjoy, in
unutterable measure, the peaceful hours which would be mine. Even
now they were inclined to behave themselves; they were tired and
hungry, and stretched themselves on the floor, to await dinner. I
embraced the opportunity to return to my book, but I had hardly
read a page, when a combined crash and scream summoned me to the
dining-room. On the floor lay Toddie, a great many dishes, a roast
leg of lamb, several ears of green corn, the butter-dish and its
contents, and several other misplaced edibles. One thing was quite
evident; the scalding contents of the gravy-dish had been emptied
on Toddie's arm, and how severely the poor child might be scalded
I did not know. I hastily slit open his sleeve from wrist to
shoulder, and found the skin very red; so, remembering my mother's
favorite treatment for scalds and burns, I quickly spread the
contents of a dish of mashed potato on a clean handkerchief, and
wound the whole around Toddie's arm as a poultice. Then I demanded
an explanation.

"I was only djust reatchin for a pieshe of bwed," sobbed Toddie,
"an' then the bad old tabo beginded to froe all its fings at me,
an' tumble down bang."

He undoubtedly told the truth as far as he knew it, but reaching
over tables is a bad habit in small boys, especially when their
mothers cling to old-fashioned heirlooms of tables, which have
folding leaves; so I banished Toddie to his room, supperless, to
think of what he had done. With Budge alone, I had a comfortable
dinner off the salvage from the wreck caused by Toddie, and then I
went up-stairs to see if the offender had repented. It was hard to
tell, by sight, whether he had or not, for his back was to me, as
he flattened his nose against the window, but I could see that my
poultice was gone.

"Where is what uncle put on your arm, Toddie?" I asked.

"I ate it up," said the truthful youth.

"Did you eat the handkerchief, too?"

"No; I froed nashty old handkerchief out the window--don't want
dirty old handkerchiefs in my nice 'ittle room."

I was so glad that his burn had been slight that I forgave the
insult to my handkerchief and called up Budge, so that I might at
once get both boys into bed, and emerge from the bondage in which
I had lived all day long. But the task was no easy one. Of course
my brother-in-law, Tom Lawrence, knows better than any other man
the necessities of his own children, but no children of mine shall
ever be taught so many methods of imposing upon parental good
nature. Their program called for stories, songs, moral
conversations, frolics, the presentation of pennies, the dropping
of the same, at long intervals, into tin savings banks, followed
by a deafening shaking-up of both banks; then a prayer must be
offered, and no conventional one would be tolerated; then the boys
performed their own devotions, after which I was allowed to depart
with an interchange of "God bless you's." As this evening I left
the room with their innocent benedictions sounding in my ears, a
sense of personal weakness, induced by the events of the day,
moved me to fervently respond "Amen!"

Mothers of American boys, accept from me a tribute of respect,
which no words can fitly express--of wonder greater than any of
the great things of the world ever inspired--of adoration as
earnest and devout as the Catholic pays to the Virgin. In a single
day, I, a strong man, with nothing else to occupy my mind, am
reduced to physical and mental worthlessness by the necessities of
two boys not overmischievous or bad. And you--Heaven only knows
how--have unbroken weeks, months, years, yes, lifetimes of just
such experiences, and with them the burden of household cares, of
physical ills and depressions, of mental anxieties that pierce
your hearts with as many sorrows as grieved the Holy Mother of
old. Compared with thy endurance, that of the young man, the
athlete, is as weakness; the secret of thy nerves, wonderful even
in their weakness, is as great as that of the power of the winds.
To display decision, thy opportunities are more frequent than
those of the greatest statesman; thy heroism laughs into
insignificance that of fort and field; thou art trained in a
school of diplomacy such as the most experienced court cannot
furnish. Do scoffers say thou canst not hold the reins of
government? Easier is it to rule a band of savages than to be the
successful autocrat of thy little kingdom. Compared with the ways
of men, even thy failures are full of glory. Be thy faults what
they may, thy one great, mysterious, unapproachable success places
thee, in desert, far above warrior, rabbi or priest.

The foregoing soliloquy passed through my mind as I lay upon the
bed where I had thrown myself after leaving the children's room.
Whatever else attempted to affect me mentally found my mind a
blank until the next morning, when I awoke to realize that I had
dropped asleep just where I fell, and that I had spent nearly
twelve hours lying across a bed in an uncomfortable position, and
without removing my daily attire. My next impression was that
quite a bulky letter had been pushed under my chamber-door. Could
it be that my darling--I hastily seized the envelope and found it
addressed in my sister's writing, and promising a more voluminous
letter than that lady had ever before honored me with. I opened
it, dropping an enclosure which doubtless was a list of
necessities which I would please pack, etc., and read as follows:--

"JULY 1, 1875.

"MY DEAR OLD BROTHER:--WOULDN'T I like to give you the warmest of
sisterly hugs? I can't believe it, and yet I'm in ecstasies over
it. To think that you should have got that perfection of a girl,
who has declined so many great catches--YOU, my sober, business-
like, unromantic big brother--oh, it's too wonderful! But now I
think of it, you're just the people for each other. I'd like to
say that it's just what I'd always longed for, and that I invited
you to Hillcrest to bring it about; but the trouble with such a
story would be that it wouldn't have a word of truth in it. You
always DID have a faculty of doing just what you pleased, and what
nobody ever expected you to do, but now you've exceeded yourself.

"And to think that my little darlings played an important part in
bringing it all about! I shall take the credit for THAT, for if it
hadn't been for me, who would have helped you, sir? I shall expect
you to remember both of them handsomely at Christmas.

"I don't believe I'm guilty of a breach of confidence in sending
the enclosed, which I have just received from my sister-in-law
that is to be. It will tell you some causes of your success of
which you, with a man's conceit, haven't imagined for a minute,
and it will tell you, too, of a maiden's first and natural fear
under such circumstances,--a fear which I know that you, with your
honest, generous heart, will hasten to dispel. As you're a man,
you're quite likely to be too stupid to read what's written
between the lines; so I'd better tell you that Alice's fear is
that in letting herself go so easily she may have seemed to lack
proper reserve and self-respect. You don't need to be told that no
woman alive has more of these very qualities.

"Bless your dear old heart, Harry,--you deserve to be shaken to
death if you're not the happiest man alive. I MUST hurry home and
see you both with my own eyes, and learn to believe that all this
wonderful glorious thing has come to pass. Give Alice a sister's
kiss from me (if you know how to give more than one kind), and
give my cherubs a hundred each from the mother that wants to see
them so much.

"With love and congratulations,

"HELEN."

The other letter, which I opened with considerable reverence and
more delight, ran as follows:--

"HILLCREST, June 29, 1875.

"DEAR FRIEND HELEN:--Something has happened, and I am very happy,
but I am more than a little troubled over it, too, and as you are
one of the persons nearly concerned, I am going to confess to you
as soon as possible. Harry--your brother, I mean--will be sure to
tell you very soon, if he hasn't done so already, and I want to
make all possible haste to solemnly assure you that _I_ hadn't the
slightest idea of such a thing coming to pass, and I didn't do the
slightest thing to bring it about.

"I always thought your brother was a splendid fellow, and have
never been afraid to express my mind about him, when there was no
one but girls to listen. But out here I've somehow learned to
admire him more than ever. I cheerfully acquit HIM of
intentionally doing anything to create a favorable impression; if
his several appearances before me HAVE been studied, he is
certainly the most original being I ever heard of. Your children
are angels--you've told me so yourself, and I've my own very
distinct impression on the subject, but they DON'T study to save
their uncle's appearance. The figures that unfortunate man has cut
several times--well, I won't try to describe them on paper, for
fear he might some day see a scrap of it, and take offense. But he
always seems to be patient with them, and devoted to them, and I
haven't been able to keep from seeing that a man who could be so
lovable with thoughtless and unreasonable children must be
perfectly adorable to the woman he loved, if she were a woman at
all. Still, I hadn't the faintest idea that I would be the
fortunate woman. At last THE day came, but I was in blissful
ignorance of what was to happen. Your little Charley hurt himself,
and insisted upon Har--your brother singing an odd song to him;
and just when the young gentleman was doing the elegant to a dozen
of us ladies at once, too! If you COULD have seen his face!--it
was too funny, until he got over his annoyance, and began to feel
properly sorry for the little fellow--then he seemed all at once
to be all tenderness and heart, and I DID wish for a moment that
conventionalities didn't exist, and I might tell him that he was a
model. Then your youngest playfully spilt a plate of soup on my
dress (don't be worried--'twas only a common muslin, and 'twill
wash). Of course I had to change it, and as I retired the happy
thought struck me that I'd make so elaborate a toilet that I
wouldn't finish in time to join the other ladies for the usual
evening walk; consequence, I would have a chance to monopolize a
gentleman for half an hour or more--a chance which, no thanks to
the gentlemen who don't come to Hillcrest, no lady here has had
this season. Every time I peered through the blinds to see if the
other girls had started, I could see HIM, looking so distressed,
and brooding over those two children as if he was their mother,
and he seemed so good. He seemed pleased to see ME when I
appeared, and coming from such a man, the implied compliment was
fully appreciated; everything he said to me seemed a little more
worth hearing than if it had come from any man not so good. Then
suddenly your eldest insisted on retailing the result of a
conversation he had had with his uncle, and the upshot was that
Harry declared himself; he wasn't romantic a bit, but he was real
straightforward and manly, while I was so completely taken aback
that I couldn't think of a thing to say. Then the impudent fellow
kissed me, and I lost my tongue worse than ever. If I had known
anything of his feelings beforehand, I should have been prepared
to behave more properly; but--O Helen, I'm so glad I DIDN'T know!
I should be the happiest being that ever lived, if I wasn't afraid
that you and your husband might think that I had given myself away
too hastily. As to other people, we will see that they don't know
a word about it for months to come.

"DO write that I was not to blame, and make believe accept me as a
sister, because I CAN'T offer to give Harry up to any one else you
may have picked out for him. "Your sincere friend,

"ALICE MAYTON."

Was there ever so delightful a reveille? All the boyishness in me
seemed suddenly to come to the surface, and instead of saying and
doing the decorous things which novelists' heroes do under similar
circumstances, I shouted "Hurrah!" and danced into the children's
room so violently that Budge sat up in bed, and regarded me with
reproving eyes, while Toddie burst into a happy laugh, and
volunteered as a partner in the dance. Then I realized that the
rain was over, and the sun was shining--I could take Alice out for
another drive, and until then the children could take care of
themselves. I remembered suddenly, and with a sharp pang, that my
vacation was nearly at an end, and I found myself consuming with
impatience to know how much longer Alice would remain at
Hillcrest. It would be cruel to wish her in the city before the
end of August, yet I--

"Uncle Harry," said Budge, "my papa says 'tisn't nice for folks to
sit down and go to thinkin' before they've brushed their hair
mornin's--that's what he tells ME."

"I beg your pardon, Budge," said I, springing up in some
confusion; "I was thinking over a matter of a great deal of
importance."

"What was it--my goat?"

"No--of course not. Don't be silly, Budge."

"Well, I think about him a good deal, an' I don't think it's silly
a bit. I hope he'll go to heaven when he dies. Do angels have
goat-carriages, Uncle Harry?"

"No, old fellow--they can go about without carriages."

"When _I_ goesh to hebben," said Toddie, rising in bed, "Izhe
goin' to have lots of goat-cawidjes an' Izhe goin' to tate all ze
andjels a widen."

With many other bits of prophecy and celestial description I was
regaled as I completed my toilet, and I hurried out of doors for
an opportunity to think without disturbance. Strolling past the
henyard I saw a meditative turtle, and picking him up and shouting
to my nephews I held the reptile up for their inspection. Their
window-blinds flew open, and a unanimous though not exactly
harmonious "Oh!" greeted my prize.

"Where did you get it, Uncle Harry?" asked Budge.

"Down by the hen-coop."

Budge's eyes opened wide; he seemed to devote a moment to profound
thought, and then he exclaimed:--

"Why, I don't see how the hens COULD lay such a big thing--just
put him in your hat till I come down, will you?"

I dropped the turtle in Budge's wheelbarrow, and made a tour of
the flower-borders. The flowers, always full of suggestion to me,
seemed suddenly to have new charms and powers; they actually
impelled me to try to make rhymes,--me, a steady white-goods
salesman! The impulse was too strong to be resisted, though I must
admit that the results were pitifully meager:--

    "As radiant as that matchless rose
      Which poet-artists fancy;
    As fair as whitest lily-blows,
      As modest as the pansy;
    As pure as dew which hides within
      Aurora's sun-kissed chalice;
    As tender as the primrose sweet--
      All this, and more, is Alice."

In inflicting this fragment upon the reader, I have not the
faintest idea that he can discover any merit in it; I quote it
only that a subsequent experience of mine may be more
intelligible. When I had composed these wretched lines I became
conscious that I had neither pencil nor paper wherewith to
preserve them. Should I lose them--my first self-constructed poem?
Never! This was not the first time in which I had found it
necessary to preserve words by memory alone. So I repeated my
ridiculous lines over and over again, until the eloquent feeling
of which they were the graceless expression inspired me to
accompany my recital with gestures. Six--eight--ten--a dozen--
twenty times I repeated these lines, each time with additional
emotion and gestures, when a thin voice, very near me, remarked:--

"Ocken Hawwy, you does djust as if you was swimmin'."

Turning, I beheld my nephew Toddie--how long he had been behind
me I had no idea. He looked earnestly into my eyes and then
remarked:--

"Ocken Hawwy, your faysh is wed, djust like a wosy-posy."

"Let's go right in to breakfast, Toddie," said I aloud, as I
grumbled to myself about the faculty of observation which Tom's
children seemed to have.

Immediately after breakfast I despatched Mike with a note to
Alice, informing her that I would be glad to drive her to the
Falls in the afternoon calling for her at two. Then I placed
myself unreservedly at the disposal of the boys for the morning,
it being distinctly understood that they must not expect to see me
between lunch and dinner. I was first instructed to harness the
goat, which order I obeyed, and I afterward watched that grave
animal as he drew my nephews up and down the carriage-road, his
countenance as demure as if he had no idea of suddenly departing
when my back should be turned. The wheels of the goat carriage
uttered the most heartrending noises I had ever heard from
ungreased axle; so I persuaded the boys to dismount, and submit to
the temporary unharnessing of the goat, while I should lubricate
the axles. Half an hour of dirty work sufficed, with such
assistance as I gained from juvenile advice, to accomplish the
task properly; then I put the horned steed into the shafts, Budge
cracked the whip, the carriage moved off without noise, and Toddie
began to weep bitterly.

"Cawwidge is all bwoke," said he; "WHEELSH DON'T SING A BITTIE NO
MORE," while Budge remarked:--

"I think the carriage sounds kind o' lonesome now, don't you,
Uncle Harry?"

"Uncle Harry," asked Budge, a little later in the morning, "do you
know what makes the thunder?"

"Yes, Budge--when two clouds go bump into each other they make a
good deal of noise, and they call it thunder."

"That ain't it at all," said Budge. "When it thundered yesterday
it was because the Lord was riding along through the sky and the
wheels of his carriage made an awful noise, an' that was the
thunder."

"Don't like nashty old 'funder," remarked Toddie. "It goesh into
our cellar an' makesh all ze milk sour--Maggie said so. An' so I
can't hazh no nice white tea for my brepspup."

"I should think you'd like the Lord to go a ridin', Toddie, with
all the angels running after him," said Budge, "even if the
thunder DOES make the milk sour. And 'tis so splendid to SEE the
thunder bang."

"How do you see it, Budge?" I asked.

"Why, don't you know when the thunder bangs, and then you see an
awful bright place in the sky?--that's where the Lord's carriage
gives an awful pound, and makes little cracks through the floor of
heaven, an' we see right in. But what's the reason we can't ever
see anybody through the cracks, Uncle Harry?"

"I don't know--old fellow,--I guess it's because it isn't cracks
in heaven that look so bright,--it's a kind of fire that the Lord
makes up in the clouds. You'll know all about it when you get
bigger."

"Well, I'll feel awful sorry if 'tain't anything but fire. Do you
know that funny song my papa sings 'bout:--

    "'Roarin' thunders, lightenin's blazes,
    Shout the great Creator's praises?'"

I don't know zactly what it means, but I think it's kind o'
splendid, don't you?"

I DID know the old song; I had heard it in a Western camp-meeting,
when scarcely older than Budge, and it left upon my mind just the
effect it seemed to have done on his. I blessed his sympathetic
young heart, and snatched him into my arms. Instantly he became
all boy again.

"Uncle Harry," he shouted, "you crawl on your hands and knees and
play you was a horse, and I'll ride on your back."

"No, thank you, Budge, not on the dirt."

"Then let's play menagerie, an' you be all the animals."

To this proposition I assented, and after hiding ourselves in one
of the retired angles of the house, so that no one could know who
was guilty of disturbing the peace by such dire noises, the
performance commenced. I was by turns a bear, a lion, a zebra, an
elephant, dogs of various kinds, and a cat. As I personated the
latter-named animals, Toddie echoed my voice.

"Miauw! Miauw!" said he, "dat's what cats saysh when they goesh
down wells."

"Faith, an' it's him that knows," remarked Mike, who had invited
himself to a free seat in the menagerie, and assisted in the
applause which had greeted each personation.

"Would ye belave it, Misther Harry, dhat young dhivil got out the
front door one mornin' afore sunroise, all in his little noight-
gown, an' wint over to the doctor's an' picked up a kitten lyin'
on the kitchen door-mat, an' throwed it down dhe well. The docthor
wasn't home, but the missis saw him, an' her heart was dhat
tindher that she hurried out and throwed boords down for dhe poor
little baste to stand on, an' let down a hoe on a sthring, an'
whin she got dhe poor little dhing out, she was dhat faint that
she dhrapped on dhe grass. An' it cost Mr. Lawrence nigh onto
thirty dollars to have dhe docthor's well claned out."

"Yes," said Toddie, who had listened carefully to Mike's recital,
"an' kitty-kitty said, 'Miauw! Miauw!' when she goed down ze well.
An' Mish Doctor sed, 'Bad boy--go home--don't never tum to my
housh no more,'--dat's what she said to me. Now be some more
animals, Ocken Hawwy. Can't you be a whay-al?"

"Whales don't make a noise, Toddie; they only splash about in the
water."

"Zen grop in the cistern an' 'plash, can't you?"

Lunch-time, and after it the time for Toddie to take his nap. Poor
Budge was bereft of a playmate, for the doctor's little girl was
sick; so he quietly followed me about with a wistful face, that
almost persuaded me to take him with me on my drive--OUR drive.
Had he grumbled, I would have felt less uncomfortable; but there's
nothing so touching and overpowering to either gods or men as the
spectacle of mute resignation. At last, to my great relief, he
opened his mouth.

"Uncle Harry," said he, "do you 'spose folks ever get lonesome in
heaven?"

"I guess not, Budge."

"Do little boy-angels' papas an' mammas go off visitin', an' stay
so long?"

"I don't exactly know, Budge, but if they do, the little boy-
angels have plenty of other little boy-angels to play with, so
they can't very well be lonesome."

"Well, I don't b'leeve they could make ME happy, when I wanted to
see my papa an' mamma. When I haven't got anybody to play with,
then I want papa an' mamma SO bad--so bad as if I would die if I
didn't see 'em right away."

I was shaving, and only half-done, but I hastily wiped off my
face, dropped into a rocking-chair, took the forlorn little boy
into my arms, and kissed him, caressed him, sympathized with him,
and devoted myself entirely to the task and pleasure of comforting
him. His sober little face gradually assumed a happier appearance;
his lips parted in such lines as no old master ever put upon angel
lips; his eyes from being dim and hopeless, grew warm and lustrous
and melting. At last he said:--

"Uncle Harry, I'm EVER so happy now. An' can't Mike go around with
me and the goat all the time you're away riding? An' bring us home
some candy, an' marbles--oh, yes--an' a new dog."

Anxious as I was to hurry off to meet my engagement, I was rather
disgusted as I unseated Budge and returned to my razor. So long as
he was lonesome and I was his only hope, words couldn't express
his devotion, but the moment he had, through my efforts, regained
his spirits, his only use for me was to ask further favors. Yet in
trying the poor boy, judicially, the evidence was more dangerous
to humanity in general than to Budge; it threw a great deal of
light upon my own peculiar theological puzzles, and almost
convinced me that my duty was to preach a new gospel.

As I drove up to the steps of Mrs. Clarkson's boarding-house it
seemed to me a month had elapsed since last I was there, and this
apparent lapse of time was all that prevented my ascribing to
miraculous agencies the wonderful and delightful change that
Alice's countenance had undergone in two short days. Composure,
quickness of perception, the ability to guard one's self, are
indications of character which are particularly in place in the
countenance of a young lady in society, but when, without losing
these, the face takes on the radiance born of love and trust, the
effect is indescribably charming--especially to the eyes of the
man who causes the change. Longer, more out-of-the-way roads
between Hillcrest and the Falls I venture to say were never known
than I drove over that afternoon, and my happy companion, who in
other days I had imagined might one day, by her decision,
alertness and force exceed the exploits of Lady Baker or Miss
Tinne, never once asked if I was sure we were on the right road.
Only a single cloud came over her brow, and of this I soon learned
the cause.

"Harry," said she, pressing closer to my side, and taking an
appealing tone, "do you love me well enough to endure something
unpleasant for my sake?"

My answer was not verbally expressed, but its purport seemed to be
understood and accepted, for Alice continued:--

"I wouldn't undo a bit of what's happened--I'm the happiest,
proudest woman in the world. But we HAVE been very hasty, for
people who have been mere acquaintances. And mother is dreadfully
opposed to such affairs--she is of the old style, you know."

"It was all my fault," said I. "I'll apologize promptly and
handsomely. The time and agony which I didn't consume in laying
siege to your heart I'll devote to the task of gaining your
mother's good graces."

The look I received in reply to this remark would have richly
repaid me had my task been to conciliate as many mothers-in-law as
Brigham Young possesses. But her smile faded as she said:--

"You don't know what a task you have before you. Mother has a very
tender heart, but it's thoroughly fenced in by proprieties. In her
day and set, courtship was a very slow, stately affair, and mother
believes it the proper way now; so do I, but I admit possible
exceptions, and mother doesn't. I'm afraid she won't be patient if
she knows the whole truth, yet I can't bear to keep it from her.
I'm her only child, you know."

"DON'T keep it from her," said I, "unless for some reason of your
own. Let me tell the whole story, take all the responsibility, and
accept the penalties, if there are any. Your mother is right in
principle, if there IS a certain delightful exception that we know
of."

"My only fear is for YOU," said my darling, nestling closer to me.
"She comes of a family that can display most glorious indignation
when there's a good excuse for it, and I can't bear to think of
YOU being the cause of such an outbreak."

"I've faced the ugliest of guns in honor of one form of love,
little girl," I replied, "and I could do even more for the
sentiment for which YOU'RE to blame. And for my own sake, I'd
rather endure anything than a sense of having deceived any one,
especially the mother of such a daughter. Besides, you're her
dearest treasure, and she has a right to know of even the least
thing that in any way concerns you."

"And you're a noble fellow, and--" Whatever other sentiment my
companion failed to put into words was impulsively and eloquently
communicated by her dear eyes.

But oh, what a cowardly heart your dear cheek rested upon an
instant later, fair Alice! Not for the first time in my life did I
shrink and tremble at the realization of what duty imperatively
required--not for the first time did I go through a harder battle
than was ever fought with sword and cannon, and a battle with
greater possibilities of danger than the field ever offered. I won
it, as a man must do in such fights, if he deserves to live; but I
could not help feeling considerably sobered on our homeward drive.

We neared the house, and I had an insane fancy that instead of
driving two horses I was astride of one, with spurs at my heels
and a saber at my side.

"Let me talk to her NOW, Alice, won't you? Delays are only
cowardly."

A slight trembling at my side,--an instant of silence that seemed
an hour, yet within which I could count but six footfalls, and
Alice replied:--

"Yes; if the parlor happens to be empty, I'll ask her if she won't
go in and see you a moment." Then there came a look full of
tenderness, wonder, painful solicitude, and then two dear eyes
filled with tears.

"We're nearly there, darling," said I, with a reassuring embrace.

"Yes, and you sha'n't be the only hero," said she, straightening
herself proudly, and looking a fit model for a Cenobia.

As we passed from behind a clump of evergreens which hid the house
from our view, I involuntarily exclaimed, "Gracious!" Upon the
piazza stood Mrs. Mayton; at her side stood my two nephews, as
dirty in face, in clothing, as I had ever seen them. I don't know
but that for a moment I freely forgave them, for their presence
might grant me the respite which a sense of duty would not allow
me to take.

"Wezhe comed up to wide home wif you," exclaimed Toddie, as Mrs.
Mayton greeted me with an odd mixture of courtesy, curiosity and
humor. Alice led the way into the parlor whispered to her mother,
and commenced to make a rapid exit, when Mrs. Mayton called her
back, and motioned her to a chair. Alice and I exchanged sidelong
glances.

"Alice says you wish to speak with me, Mr. Burton," said she. "I
wonder whether the subject is one upon which I have this afternoon
received a minute verbal account from the elder Master Lawrence."

"If you refer to an apparently unwarrantable intrusion upon your
family circle, Mrs.--"

"I do, sir," replied the old lady. "Between the statements made by
that child, and the hitherto unaccountable change in my daughter's
looks during two or three days, I think I have got at the truth of
the matter. If the offender were any one else, I should be
inclined to be severe; but we mothers of only daughters are apt to
have a pretty distinct idea of the merits of young men, and--"

The old lady dropped her head; I sprang to my feet, seized her
hand, and reverently kissed it; then Mrs. Mayton, whose only son
had died fifteen years before, raised her head and adopted me in
the manner peculiar to mothers, while Alice burst into tears and
kissed us both.

A few moments later, as three happy people were occupying
conventional attitudes, and trying to compose faces which should
bear the inspection of whoever might happen into the parlor, Mrs.
Mayton observed:--

"My children, between us this matter is understood, but I must
caution you against acting in such a way as to make the engagement
public at once."

"Trust me for that," hastily exclaimed Alice.

"And me," said I.

"I have no doubt of the intentions and discretion of either of
you," resumed Mrs. Mayton, "but you cannot possibly be too
cautious." Here a loud laugh from the shrubbery under the windows
drowned Mrs. Mayton's voice for a moment, but she continued:
"Servants, children,"--here she smiled, and I dropped my head--
"persons you may chance to meet--"

Again the laugh broke forth under the window.

"What CAN those girls be laughing at?" exclaimed Alice, moving
toward the window, followed by her mother and me.

Seated in a semicircle on the grass were most of the ladies
boarding at Mrs. Clarkson's, and in front of them stood Toddie, in
that high state of excitement to which sympathetic applause always
raises him.

"Say it again," said one of the ladies.

Toddie put on an expression of profound wisdom, made violent
gestures with both hands and repeated the following, with frequent
gesticulations:--

    "Azh wadiant azh ze matchless wose
      Zat poeck-artuss fanshy;
    Azh fair azh whituss lily-blowzh;
      Azh moduss azh a panzhy;
    Azh pure azh dew zat hides wiffin
     Awwahwah's sun-tissed tsallish;
    Azh tender azh ze pwimwose fweet
      All zish, and moah, izh Alish."

I gasped for breath.

"Who taught you all that, Toddie?" asked one of the ladies.

"Nobody didn't taught me--I lyned [Footnote: learned] it."

"When did you learn it?"

"Lyned it zish mornin'. Ocken Hawwy said it over, an' over, an'
over, djust yots of timezh, out in ze garden."

The ladies all exchanged glances--my lady readers will understand
just how, and I assure gentlemen that I did not find their glances
at all hard to read. Alice looked at me inquiringly, and she now
tells me that I blushed sheepishly and guiltily. Poor Mrs. Mayton
staggered to a chair, and exclaimed:--

"Too late! too late!"

Considering their recent achievements, Toddie and Budge were a
very modest couple as I drove them home that evening. Budge even
made some attempt at apologizing for their appearance, saying that
they couldn't find Maggie, and COULDN'T wait any longer; but I
assured him that no apology was necessary. I was in such excellent
spirits that my feeling became contagious; and we sang songs, told
stories, and played ridiculous games most of the evening, paying
but little attention to the dinner that was set for us.

"Uncle Harry," said Budge, suddenly, "do you know we haven't ever
sung,--'Drown old Pharaoh's Army Hallelujah,' since you've been
here? Let's do it now." "All right, old fellow." I knew the song
--such as there was of it--and its chorus, as EVERY one does who
ever heard the Jubilee Singers render it; but I scarcely
understood the meaning of the preparations which Budge made. He
drew a large rocking-chair into the middle of the room, and
exclaimed:--

"There, Uncle Harry--you sit down. Come along, Tod--you sit on
that knee, and I'll sit on this. Lift up both hands, Tod, like I
do. Now we're all ready, Uncle Harry."

I sang the first line,--

"When Israel was in bondage, they cried unto de Lord," without any
assistance, but the boys came in powerfully on the refrain,
beating time simultaneously with their four fists upon my chest. I
cannot think it strange that I suddenly ceased singing, but the
boys viewed my action from a different standpoint.

"What makes you stop, Uncle Harry?" asked Budge.

"Because you hurt me badly, my boy; you mustn't do that again."

"Why, I guess you ain't very strong; that's the way we do to papa,
an' it don't hurt HIM."

Poor Tom! No wonder he grows flat--chested.

"Guesh you's a ky--baby," suggested Toddie.

This imputation I bore with meekness, but ventured to remark that
it was bed-time. After allowing a few moments for the usual
expressions of dissent, I staggered up--stairs with Toddie in my
arms, and Budge on my back, both boys roaring in refrain of the
negro hymn:--

"I'm a rolling through an Unfriendly World."

The offer of a stick of candy to whichever boy was first
undressed, caused some lively disrobing, after which each boy
received the prize. Budge bit a large piece, wedged it between his
cheek and his teeth, closed his eyes, folded his hands on his
breast, and prayed:--

"Dear Lord, bless papa an' mamma, an' Toddie an' me, an' that
turtle Uncle Harry found: and bless that lovely lady Uncle Harry
goes riding with an' make 'em take me too, an' bless that nice old
lady with white hair, that cried, and said I was a smart boy.
Amen."

Toddie sighed as he drew his stick of candy from his lips; then he
shut his eyes and remarked:

"Dee Lord, blesh Toddie, an' make him good boy, an' blesh zem
ladies zat told me to say it aden;" the particular "it" referred
to being well understood by at least three adults of my
acquaintances.

The course of Budge's interview with Mrs. Mayton was afterward
related by that lady, as follows:--She was sitting in her own room
(which was on the parlor-floor, and in the rear of the house), and
was leisurely reading "Fated to be Free," when she accidentally
dropped her glasses. Stooping to pick them up, she became aware
that she was not alone. A small, very dirty, but good-featured boy
stood before her, his hands behind his back, and an inquiring look
in his eyes.

"Run away, little boy," said she. "Don't you know it isn't polite
to enter rooms without knocking?"

"I'm lookin' for my uncle," said Budge, in most melodious accents,
"an' the other ladies said you would know when he would come
back."

"I'm afraid they were making fun of you--or me," said the old
lady, a little severely. "I don't know anything about little boys'
uncles. Now run away, and don't disturb me any more."

"Well," continued Budge, "they said your little girl went with
him, and you'd know when SHE would come back."

"I haven't any little girl," said the old lady, her indignation,
at a supposed joke, threatening to overcome her dignity. "Now, go
away."

"She isn't a VERY little girl," said Budge, honestly anxious to
conciliate; "that is, she's bigger'n _I_ am, but they said you was
her mother, an' so she's you're little girl, isn't she? _I_ think
she's lovely, too."

"Do you mean Miss Mayton?" asked the lady, thinking she had a
possible clue to the cause of Budge's anxiety.

"Oh, yes--that's her name--I couldn't think of it," eagerly
replied Budge. "An' ain't she AWFUL nice?--_I_ KNOW she is!"

"Your judgment is quite correct, considering your age," said Mrs.
Mayton, exhibiting more interest in Budge than she had heretofore
done. "But what makes you think she is nice? You are rather
younger than her male admirers usually are."

"Why, my Uncle Harry told me so," replied Budge, "an' HE knows
EVERYthing."

Mrs. Mayton grew vigilant at once, and dropped her book.

"Who IS your Uncle Harry, little boy?"

"He's Uncle Harry; don't you know him? He can make nicer whistles
than my papa can. An' he found a turtle--"

"Who is your papa?" interrupted the lady.

"Why, he's papa--I thought everybody knew who HE was."

"What is your name?" asked Mrs. Mayton.

"John Burton Lawrence," promptly answered Budge.

Mrs. Mayton wrinkled her brows for a moment, and finally asked:--

"Is Mr. Burton the uncle you are looking for?"

"I don't know any Mr. Burton," said Budge, a little dazed; "uncle
is mamma's brother, an' he's been livin' at our house ever since
mamma an' papa went off visitin', an' he goes ridin' in our
carriage, an'--"

"Humph!" remarked the lady, with so much emphasis that Budge
ceased talking. A moment later she said:--

"I didn't mean to interrupt you, little boy; go on."

"An' he rides with just the loveliest lady that ever was. HE
thinks so, an' _I_ KNOW she is. An' he 'spects her."

"What?" exclaimed the old lady.

"--'Spects her, I say--that's what HE says. _I_ say 'spects means
just what _I_ call LOVE. Cos if it don't, what makes him give her
hugs and kisses?"

Mrs. Mayton caught her breath, and did not reply for a moment. At
last she said:--

"How do you know he--gives her hugs and kisses?"

"Cos I saw him, the day Toddie hurt his finger in the grass-
cutter. An' he was so happy that be bought me a goat-carriage next
morning--I'll show it to you if you come down to our stable, an'
I'll show you the goat too. An' he bought--"

Just here Budge stopped, for Mrs. Mayton put her handkerchief to
her eyes. Two or three moments later she felt a light touch on her
knee, and, wiping her eyes, saw Budge looking sympathetically into
her face.

"I'm awful sorry you feel bad," said he.

"Are you 'fraid to have your little girl ridin' so long?"

"Yes!" exclaimed Mrs. Mayton, with great decision.

"Well, you needn't be," said Budge, "for Uncle Harry's awful
careful an' smart."

"He ought to be ashamed of himself!" exclaimed the lady.

"I guess he is, then," said Budge, "cos he's ev'rything he ought
to be. He's awful careful. T'other day, when the goat ran away,
an' Toddie an' me got in the carriage with them, he held on to her
tight, so she couldn't fall out."

Mrs. Mayton brought her foot down with a violent stamp.

"I know you'd 'spect HIM, if you knew how nice he was," continued
Budge. "He sings awful funny songs, an' tells splendid stories."

"Nonsense!" exclaimed the angry mother.

"They ain't no nonsense at all," said Budge. "I don't think it's
nice for to say that, when his stories are always about Joseph,
an' Abraham, an' Moses, an' when Jesus was a little boy, an' the
Hebrew children, an' lots of people that the Lord loved. An' he's
awful 'fectionate, too."

"Yes, I suppose so," said Mrs. Mayton.

"When we says our prayers we prays for the nice lady what he
'spects, an' he likes us to do it," continued Budge.

"How do you know?" demanded Mrs. Mayton.

"Cos he always kisses us when we do it, an' that's what my papa
does when he likes what we pray."

Mrs. Mayton's mind became absorbed in earnest thought, but Budge
had not said all that was in his heart.

"An' when Toddie or me tumbles down an' hurts ourselves, 'tain't
no matter what Uncle Harry's doin' he runs right out an' picks us
up an' comforts us. He froed away a cigar the other day, he was in
such a hurry when a wasp stung me, an' Toddie picked the cigar up
and ate it, an' it made him AWFUL sick."

The last-named incident did not affect Mrs. Mayton deeply, perhaps
on the score of inapplicability to the question before her. Budge
went on:--

"An' wasn't he good to me today? Just cos I was forlorn, cos I
hadn't nobody to play with, an' wanted to die an' go to heaven, he
stopped shavin', so as to comfort me."

Mrs. Mayton had been thinking rapidly and seriously, and her heart
had relented somewhat toward the principal offender.

"Suppose," said she, "that I don't let my little girl go riding
with him any more?"

"Then," said Budge, "I know he'll be awful, awful unhappy, an'
I'll be awful sorry for him, cos nice folks oughtn't to be made
unhappy."

"Suppose, then, that I DO let her go," said Mrs. Mayton.

"Then I'll give you a whole stomachful of kisses for being so good
to my uncle," said Budge. And assuming that the latter course
would be the one adopted by Mrs. Mayton, Budge climbed into her
lap and began at once to make payment.

"Bless your dear little heart!" exclaimed Mrs. Mayton; "you're of
the same blood, and it IS good, if it IS rather hasty."

As I arose the next morning, I found a letter under my door.
Disappointed that it was not addressed in Alice's writing, I was
nevertheless glad to get a word from my sister, particularly as
the letter ran as follows:--

"JULY 1, 1875.

"DEAR OLD BROTHER,--I've been recalling a fortnight's experience
WE once had of courtship in a boarding-house, and I've determined
to cut short our visit here, hurry home, and give you and Alice a
chance or two to see each other in parlors where there won't be a
likelihood of the dozen or two interruptions you must suffer each
evening now. Tom agrees with me, like the obedient old darling
that he is; so please have the carriage at Hillcrest station for
us at 11:40 Friday morning. Invite Alice and her mother for me to
dine with us Sunday,--we'll bring them home from church with us.

"Lovingly, your sister, HELEN.

"P. S. Of course you'll have my darlings in the carriage to
receive me.

"P. P. S. WOULD it annoy you to move into the best guest-chamber?
--I can't bear to sleep where I can't have THEM within reach."

Friday morning they intended to arrive,--blessings on their
thoughtful hearts!--and THIS was Friday. I hurried into the boys'
room, and shouted:--

"Toddie! Budge! who do you think is coming to see you this
morning?"

"Who?" asked Budge.

"Organ-grinder?" queried Toddie.

"No, your papa and mamma."

Budge looked like an angel in an instant, but Toddie's eyes
twitched a little, and he mournfully murmured:--

"I fought it wash an organ-grinder."

"O Uncle Harry!" said Budge, springing out of bed in a perfect
delirium of delight, "I believe if my papa an' mamma had stayed
away any longer, I believe I would DIE. I've been SO lonesome for
'em that I haven't known what to do--I've cried whole pillowsful
about it, right here in the dark."

"Why, my poor old fellow," said I, picking him up and kissing him,
"why didn't you come and tell Uncle Harry, and let him try to
comfort you?"

"I COULDN'T," said Budge; "when I gets lonesome, it feels as if my
mouth was all tied up, an' a great big stone was right in here."
And Budge put his hand on his chest.

"If a big'tone wazh inshide of ME," said Toddie, "I'd take it out
an' frow it at the shickens."

"Toddie," said I, "aren't you glad papa an' mamma are coming?"

"Yesh," said Toddie, "I fink it'll be awfoo nish. Mamma always
bwings me candy fen she goes away anyfere."

"Toddie, you're a mercenary wretch."

"AIN'T a mernesary wetch; Izhe Toddie Yawncie."

Toddie made none the less haste in dressing than his brother,
however. Candy was to him what some systems of theology are to
their adherents--not a very lofty motive of action but sweet, and
something he could fully understand; so the energy displayed in
getting himself tangled up in his clothes was something wonderful.

"Stop, boys," said I, "you must have on clean clothes to-day. You
don't want your father and mother to see you all dirty, do you?"

"Of course not," said Budge.

"Oh, Izh I goin' to be djessed up all nicey?" asked Toddie.
"Goody! goody! goody!"

I always thought my sister Helen had an undue amount of vanity,
and here it was reappearing in the second generation.

"An' I wantsh my shoes made all nigger," said Toddie.

"What?"

"Wantsh my shoesh made all nigger wif a bottle-bwush, too," said
Toddie.

I looked appealingly at Budge, who answered:--

"He means he wants his shoes blacked, with the polish that's in a
bottle, an' you rub it on with a brush."

"An' I wantsh a thath on," continued Toddie.

"Sash, he means," said Budge. "He's awful proud."

"An' Ize doin' to wear my takker-hat," said Toddie. "An' my wed
djuvs."

"That's his tassel-hat an' his red gloves," continued the
interpreter.

"Toddie, you can't wear gloves such hot days as these," said I.

A look of inquiry was speedily followed by Toddie's own
unmistakable preparations for weeping; and as I did not want his
eyes dimmed when his mother looked into them I hastily exclaimed:--

"Put them on, then--put on the mantle of rude Boreas, if you
choose; but don't go to crying."

"Don't want no mantle-o'-wude-bawyusses," declared Toddie,
following me phonetically, "wantsh my own pitty cozhesh, an'
nobody eshesh."

"O Uncle Harry!" exclaimed Budge, "I want to bring mamma home in
my goat-carriage!"

"The goat isn't strong enough, Budge, to draw mamma and you."

"Well, then, let me drive down to the depot just to SHOW papa an'
mamma I've got a goat-carriage--I'm sure mamma would be very
unhappy when she found out I had one, and she hadn't seen it first
thing."

"Well, I guess you may follow me down, Budge, but you must drive
very carefully."

"Oh, yes--I wouldn't get us hurt when mamma was coming, for
ANYthing." "Now, boys," said I, "I want you to stay in the house
and play this morning. If you go out of doors you'll get
yourselves dirty."

"I guess the sun'll be disappointed if it don't have us to look
at," suggested Budge.

"Never mind," said I, "the sun's old enough to have learned to be
patient."

Breakfast over, the boys moved reluctantly away to the play-room,
while I inspected the house and grounds pretty closely, to see
that everything should at least fail to do my management
discredit. A dollar given to Mike and another to Maggie were of
material assistance in this work, so I felt free to adorn the
parlors and Helen's chamber with flowers. As I went into the
latter room I heard some one at the wash-stand, which was in the
alcove, and on looking I saw Toddie drinking the last of the
contents of a goblet which contained a dark-colored mixture.

"Ize takin' black medshin," said Toddie; "I likes black medshin
awfoo muts."

"What do you make it of?" I asked, with some sympathy, and tracing
parental influence again. When Helen and I were children we spent
hours in soaking liquorice in water and administering it as
medicine.

"Makesh it out of shoda mitsture," said Toddie.

This was another medicine of our childhood days, but one prepared
according to physician's prescription, and not beneficial when
taken ad libitum. As I took the vial--a two-ounce one--I asked:--

"How much did you take, Toddie?"

"Took whole bottoo full--twas nysh," said he.

Suddenly the label caught my eye--it read PAREGORIC. In a second I
had snatched a shawl, wrapped Toddie in it, tucked him under my
arm, and was on my way to the barn. In a moment more I was on one
of the horses and galloping furiously to the village, with Toddie
under one arm, his yellow curls streaming in the breeze. People
came out and stared as they did at John Gilpin, while one old
farmer whom I met turned his team about, whipped up furiously, and
followed me, shouting "Stop thief!" I afterward learned that he
took me to be one of the abductors of Charley Ross, with the lost
child under my arm, and that visions of the $20,000 reward floated
before his eyes. In front of an apothecary's I brought the horse
suddenly upon his haunches, and dashed in, exclaiming:--

"Give this child a strong emetic--quick. He's swallowed poison!"

The apothecary hurried to his prescription-desk, while a
motherly-looking Irish woman upon whom he had been waiting,
exclaimed, "Holy Mither! I'll run an' fetch Father O'Kelley," and
hurried out. Meanwhile Toddie, upon whom the medicine had not
commenced to take effect, had seized the apothecary's cat by the
tail, which operation resulted in a considerable vocal protest
from that animal.

The experiences of the next few moments were more pronounced and
revolutionary than pleasing to relate in detail. It is sufficient
to say that Toddie's weight was materially diminished, and that
his complexion was temporarily pallid. Father O'Kelley arrived at
a brisk run, and was honestly glad to find that his services were
not required, although I assured him that if Catholic baptism and
a sprinkling of holy water would improve Toddie's character, I
thought there was excuse for several applications. We rode quietly
back to the house, and while I was asking Maggie to try to coax
Toddie into taking a nap, I heard the patient remark to his
brother:--

"Budgie, down to the village I was a whay-al. I didn't froe up
Djonah, but I froed up a whole floor full of uvver fings." During
the hour which passed before it was time to start for the depot,
my sole attention was devoted to keeping the children from soiling
their clothes; but my success was so little, that I lost my temper
entirely. First they insisted upon playing on a part of the lawn
which the sun had not yet reached. Then, while I had gone into the
house for a match to light my cigar, Toddie had gone with his damp
shoes into the middle of the road, where the dust was ankle deep.
Then they got upon their hands and knees on the piazza and played
bear. Each one wanted to pick a bouquet for his mother, and Toddie
took the precaution to smell every flower he approached--an
operation which caused him to get his nose covered with lily-
pollen, so that he looked like a badly used prize-fighter. In one
of their spasms of inaction, Budge asked:--

"What makes some of the men in church have no hair on the tops of
their heads, Uncle Harry?"

"Because," said I, pausing long enough to shake Toddie for trying
to get my watch out of my pocket, "because they have bad little
boys to bother them all the time, so their hair drops out."

"I dess MY hairs is a-goin' to drop out pitty soon, then,"
remarked Toddie, with an injured air.

"Harness the horses, Mike," I shouted.

"An' the goat, too," added Budge.

Five minutes later I was seated in the carriage, or rather in
Tom's two-seated open wagon. "Mike," I shouted, "I forgot to tell
Maggie to have some lunch ready for the folks when they get here--
run, tell her, quick, won't you?"

"Oye, oye, sur," said Mike, and off he went.

"Are you all ready, boys?" I asked.

"In a minute," said Budge; "soon as I fix this. Now," he
continued, getting into his seat, and taking the reins and whip,
"go ahead."

"Wait a moment, Budge--put down that whip, and don't touch the
goat with it once on the way. I'm going to drive very slowly--
there's plenty of time, and all you need to do is to hold your
reins."

"All right," said Budge, "but I like to look like mans when I
drive."

"You may do that when somebody can run beside you. Now!"

The horses started at a gentle trot, and the goat followed very
closely. When within a minute of the depot, however, the train
swept in. I had intended to be on the platform to meet Tom and
Helen, but my watch was evidently slow. I gave the horses the
whip, looked behind and saw the boys were close upon me, and I was
so near the platform when I turned my head that nothing but the
sharpest of turns saved me from a severe accident. The noble
animals saw the danger as quickly as I did, however, and turned in
marvelously small space; as they did so, I heard two hard thumps
upon the wooden wall of the little depot, heard also two frightful
howls, saw both my nephews considerably mixed up on the platform,
while the driver of the Bloom-Park stage growled in my ear:--

"What in thunder did you let 'em hitch that goat to your axle-tree
for?"

I looked, and saw the man spoke with just cause. How the goat's
head and shoulders had maintained their normal connection during
the last minute of my drive, I leave for naturalists to explain. I
had no time to meditate on the matter just then, for the train had
stopped. Fortunately the children had struck on their heads, and
the Lawrence-Burton skull is a marvel of solidity. I set them upon
their feet, brushed them off with my hands, promised them all the
candy they could eat for a week, wiped their eyes, and hurried
them to the other side of the depot. Budge rushed at Tom,
exclaiming:--

"See my goat, papa!"

Helen opened her arms, and Toddie threw himself into them,
sobbing:--

"Mam--MA! shing 'Toddie one-boy-day!'"

How uncomfortable a man CAN feel in the society of a dearly-loved
sister and an incomparable brother-in-law I never imagined until
that short drive. Helen was somewhat concerned about the children,
but she found time to look at me with so much of sympathy, humor,
affection, and condescension that I really felt relieved when we
reached the house. I hastily retired to my own room, but before I
had shut the door Helen was with me, and her arms were about my
neck; before the dear old girl removed them we had grown far
nearer to each other than we had ever been before.

And how gloriously the rest of the day passed off. We had a
delightful little lunch, and Tom brought up a bottle of Roederer,
and Helen didn't remonstrate when he insisted on its being drank
from her finest glasses, and there were toasts drank to "Her" and
"Her Mother," and to the Benedict that was to be. And then Helen
proposed "the makers of the match--Budge and Toddie!" which was
honored with bumpers. The gentlemen toasted did not respond, but
they stared so curiously that I sprang from my chair and kissed
them soundly, upon which Tom and Helen exchanged significant
glances.

Then Helen walked down to Mrs. Clarkson's boarding-house, all for
the purpose of showing a lady there with a skirt to make over just
how she had seen a similar garment rearranged exquisitely. And
Alice strolled down to the gate with her to say good-by; and they
had so much to talk about that Helen walked Alice nearly to our
house, and then insisted on her coming the rest of the way so she
might be driven home. And then Mike was sent back with a note to
say to Mrs. Mayton that her daughter had been prevailed upon to
stay to evening dinner, but would be sent home under capable
escort. And after dinner was over and the children put to bed, Tom
groaned that he MUST attend a road-board meeting, and Helen begged
us to excuse her just a minute while she ran into the doctor's to
ask how poor Mrs. Brown had been doing, and she consumed three
hours and twenty-five minutes in asking, bless her sympathetic
soul!

The dreaded ending of my vacation did not cause me as many pangs
as I had expected. Helen wanted to know one evening why, if her
poor, dear Tom could go back and forth to the city to business
every day, her lazy big brother couldn't go back and forth to
Hillcrest daily, if she were to want him as a boarder for the
remainder of the season. Although I had for years inveighed
against the folly of cultivated people leaving the city to find
residences, Helen's argument was unanswerable and I submitted. I
did even more; I purchased a lovely bit of ground (though the deed
stands in Tom's name for the present), and Tom has brought up
several plans of cottage-houses, and every evening they are spread
on the dining-room table, and there gather round them four people,
among whom are a white-goods salesman, and a young lady with the
brightest of eyes and cheeks full of roses and lilies. This
latter-named personage has her own opinions of the merits of all
plans suggested, and insisted that whatever plan IS adopted MUST
have a lovely room to be set apart as the exclusive property of
Helen's boys. Young as these gentlemen are I find frequent
occasions to be frightfully jealous of them, but they are unmoved
by either my frowns or persuasions--artifice alone is able to
prevent their monopolizing the time of an adorable being of whose
society I cannot possibly have too much. She insists that when the
ceremony takes place in December, they shall officiate as
groomsmen, and I have not the slightest doubt that she will carry
her point. In fact, I confess to frequent affectionate advances
toward them myself, and when I retire without first seeking their
room and putting a grateful kiss upon their unconscious lips, my
conscience upbraids me with base ingratitude. To think I might yet
be a hopeless bachelor had it not been for them, is to overflow
with thankfulness to the giver of HELEN'S BABIES.

THE END.


End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of Helen's Babies
by John Habberton


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