Stories of Rainbow and Lucky, volume 2: Rainbow’s Journey, Jacob Abbott (NY: Harper & Brothers, 1860 )
BREAKDOWN ON THE ROAD.
RAINBOW AND LUCKY.
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS, PUBLISHERS,
HARPER & BROTHERS,
In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York.
[table of contents]
I. Trigget … 11
II. On the Road … 21
III. An Accident … 29
IV. The Wreck … 42
V. Going to Bed … 49
VI. Night in the Barn-chamber … 58
VII. Morning … 63
VIII. A Search … 69
IX. Detection … 80
X. Ruth and Melinda … 92
XI. Talk on the Road … 102
XII. The Blacksmith’s … 114
XIII. Dorling’s … 127
XIV. Margery … 136
XV. Making the Repairs … 144
XVI. The Settlement … 158
XVII. The Pond Lilies … 168
XVIII. Tolie … 185
XIX. The Arrival … 194
It was at six o’clock on a pleasant summer evening when Handie and Rainbow took their places on the top of the stage to begin their journey to Southerton, where Rainbow was going to help Handie repair the buildings on his farm. Rainbow did not know that it was Handie’s farm on which they were going to work, or, at least, he did not know it when he first engaged to go with him. But afterward some one had told him that it was, though he could not quite believe it, for he never had heard of such a thing as a boy of nineteen years of age being the owner of a farm. He determined to ask Handie about it just as soon as a good opportunity should occur to ask it in a respectful and proper manner.
It was only six o’clock, and, as the evening was pleasant, the two boys—or the two young men, as perhaps we ought to call them, al-
though Rainbow was yet only about fourteen years of age—anticipated a very pleasant ride. They had excellent seats on the outside of the stage, behind and a little above Trigget, the driver, and they could see the country around in every direction. The horses were in fine condition, and seemed to be in excellent spirits, and they trotted on at great speed.
The way was at first along a winding but level and very pretty road. There were scattered farm-houses at the sides of it, with children looking out at the doors to see the stage go by. At one of these farm-houses a pretty-looking girl was carrying two loaded milk-pails from the barn-yard into the house. Trigget saluted this young lady with a bow and a smile, which she returned in a cordial though somewhat timid manner.
At length the stage came to a sort of ravine, into which it descended obliquely. At the bottom was a brook, with a bridge over it. Trigget restrained his horses in going down the hill, but as he came near the bottom he gradually released them, and by the time that they got to the bridge they began to gallop, and, after crossing it, they went on over a level space beyond flying like the wind, Trigget cheering them onward with his voice, and reaching his
hands forward so as to allow the reins to hang loosely over them in the air.
Very soon they came to a hill, and there the horses gradually slackened their speed, and at length began to walk. This afforded the party upon the stage an opportunity for a little conversation.
“You have got an excellent start to-night, Trigget,” said Handie.
“Yes,” said Trigget, “we are all right to-night, except that I don’t like the looks of one of my passengers.”
Rainbow’s heart sank within him at hearing these words. He was so much accustomed to be made an object of ridicule and reproach, and to be treated with indignities of all sorts on account of his color, that whenever any disparaging intimations were made in a company in which he was present he instinctively considered them as intended for him. His mind was, however, in this instance, soon relived, for Trigget added, after a moment’s pause,
“One of those men inside.”
“Which one?” asked Handie.
“That fellow with the blazing waistcoat,” said Trigget.
“Who is he?” asked Handie.
“His name is Burkill, I believe,” said Trig-
get. “We see him in these parts once in a while, but the seldomer I see him the better I’m pleased.”
“Why so?” asked Handie.
“I don’t like him,” replied Trigget. “Come up, Fanny!”
This last exclamation was accompanied by a crack from the snapper of Trigget’s whip, which took effect about two inches from Fanny’s right ear. Fanny was the off leader.
“He was going to object to Rainbow’s riding inside,” said Trigget, continuing his observations on the obnoxious passenger. “ ‘Is that black fellow going in the stage?’ says he. ‘No,’ says I, ‘there’s no black fellow going in the stage. There’s a colored boy going, and that’s he, and a very clever fellow he is, too.’ ‘He is not going to ride inside, is he?' says he. ‘That’s just as he pleased,’ says I. ‘He’s paid his fare, or, rather, his employer has paid it for him, and any body that has paid his fare and is dressed decently is entitled to take any seat that pleases him, provided it’s vacant. I don’t pay any attention to the different shades of complexion of my passengers, you see.’ ‘If he rides inside, I shall not,' says he. ‘Very well,’ says I. ‘Rainbow is suitable company for any honest man. You can judge best
whether he is suitable company for you or not, and act accordingly.’ ”
“And what did he say to that?” asked Handie.
“He did not say any thing,” replied Trigget. “He had no chance, for all the company laughed out at him, and so he turned away and got into the stage; and presently you and Rainbow came and got up upon the top.”
“I did not know any thing about all that,” said Rainbow.
“No,” said Trigget. “It was while I was putting on the trunks, and you were away talking with your mother.”
“I heard them laughing,” said Rainbow.
“Yes,” said Trigget; “they laughed the louder because they all knew that there is some considerable uncertainty about Burkill’s being an honest man.”
“Is there?” asked Handie, in a tone expressive of excited curiosity.
“Yes, there is,” replied Trigget; “at least, so people say.”
The horses had now reached the top of the hill, and Trigget began to talk to them about going forward, drawing up his reins and cheering them on with encouraging words. It was not yet sunset, and Handie and Rainbow, from
their elevated seat, had a beautiful view of the road, and of the farm-houses and fields on each side of it, as they were drawn rapidly along. Handie asked Trigget at what time he expected to get to Southerton.
“I am not obliged to be there before four o’clock,” said Trigget. “The train leaves at four, and I have to be there at that time on account of the passengers and mail, principally on account of the mail.”
“I should think that the passengers were of more consequence than the mail,” said Handie. “The arrival of a man is certainly more important than that of a letter.”
“True,” said Trigget. “One man is of more consequence than one letter; but, you see, I have got not more than eight or nine passengers, but there are generally hundreds of letters in my mail-bag—thousands, in fact, for aught I know. But that is not the great reason. The great reason is that the passengers go at their own risk. We get them through if we can, but if we can’t it is their misfortune. We don’t absolutely engage to get them through at such a time. But as to the mail, it is different. We contract with the government to deliver it, without fail, at four o’clock at the station, and if we don’t do it we have a heavy fine to pay.”
“Ah ha!” said Handie, “that’s the reason, then, that you are so anxious about the mail.”
“Yes,” said Trigget, “that’s it. And that’s one reason why I don’t want to lose five or ten minutes waiting at the stage-house for people to finish their long stories before I start. When it is bad traveling, or if I were to meet with any little accident on the road, a difference of five minutes in starting might make me miss the train. To-night we shall have plenty of time. The road is good, the evening is cool, and we shall have a bright moon. We shall get in about three o’clock.”
“That will be before light, won’t it?” asked Rainbow.
“Yes,” said Trigget. “It will be before day, but it will be light enough by the moon.”
“You are going to work, Handie,” continued Trigget, “on your uncle’s old place, they tell me.”
“Yes,” said Handie. “I am going to put the buildings in repair.”
“And they tell me that the place is yours now. Your Uncle Eli has left it to you.”
“Not exactly so,” said Handie. “He has left it so that it is to come to me when I am twenty-two. In the mean time, it is held by Squire James as trustee. Squired James em-
ploys me to go and put the place in order, to let.”
“And it is to come to you when you are twenty-two?” said Trigget. “How old are you now?”
“I am nineteen,” said Handie.
“Nineteen?” repeated Trigget. “I thought you were older than that.”
“No,” said Handie, “I am just nineteen.”
“And you have bought your time of your father?” said Trigget.
“Yes,” said Handie; “so that now I’m free, and am to do the best I can for myself. Only I’ve got to raise, somehow or other, the two hundred dollars that I engaged to pay for my time in the course of three years.”
“That you’ll do easily enough,” said Trigget. “It is not much of a job to earn two hundred dollars. The trouble is to lay it up and keep it. A fellow that is industrious and capable, and is satisfied when he’s off work with such kind of fun as doesn’t cost money, can get ahead pretty fast with such a sum as two hundred dollars.”
Talking in this way, the party rode on very agreeably together for an hour or more. The sun gradually declined in the west, until, at
length, it disappeared entirely among a mass of golden clouds, and then gradually the moon came out in the east, shining with a silvery radiance almost as brilliant and beautiful as the other. Lights began to glimmer at the windows of the farm-houses along the road-side, and scattered stars appeared here and there, shining dimly, at great distances from each other, in the sky.
“Now, Rainbow,” said Handie, “look out and not get asleep, and fall off.”
“Oh, he won’t fall off,” said Trigget. “Nobody fall off of any thing because it’s going, if it was only a going while he went to sleep. I had the mail to carry one season on horseback, on a route where there was a space of ten miles through the woods, and I always used to go to sleep as soon as I got into the woods, and sleep sound all the way through—three hours; and I never fell off.”
“Did it take you three hours to go ten miles?” asked Rainbow.
“Yes,” replied Trigget. “You see it was in the spring of the year, and the road was full of roots, and rocks, and mud, and mire all the way. After I got through the woods it was pretty good going.”
“Then I should have thought,” said Handie,
“that you would have postponed going to sleep till you got to the good road.”
“Oh no,” replied Trigget; “for, you see, I had to let the horse walk all the way through the woods; but as soon as I got through, and came upon the hard ground, I had to wake up and trot on.”
On the Road.
Things went on in this way very smoothly and pleasantly for two or three hours. Handie and Rainbow enjoyed their ride extremely, talking all the time with Trigget in a very sociable and friendly manner. The passengers inside the coach seemed to be enjoying themselves too. Handie could hear their voices from time to time, when the wheels were going smoothly, and once, in going up a long hill, he heard the sound of music. They were singing an evening hymn, beginning, “Thus far the Lord hath led me on.” Among the others there were two female voices, which could be very distinctly heard.
“Who are those two young ladies inside, Trigget?” asked Handie.
“They are two girls going to Lawrence, to work in the factory,” said Trigget. “I don’t know their names. They came in yesterday in a wagon from some of the back towns. They are nice-looking girls.”
“Yes,” said Handie, “very nice-looking girls.
I noticed them when they got into the stage, and it made me almost repent having decided to ride up here.”
About an hour after the lights began to appear along the road-side, in the farmers’ windows, they began to disappear again, for it was then ten-o’clock, which was the time for people to go to bed. The lights were seen longer in the villages than they were in the farm-houses on the road, for in villages and towns people sit up later than they do in the country. Indeed, the larger the town, the later are the hours which the people keep, so that at Paris the time for a fashionable ball or party to begin is midnight, and the people go home with the sun shining in at their carriage windows in the morning.
At all the villages through which the stage passed Trigget stopped a few minutes for what they call “shifting the mail.” He had a mail which was called the “way-mail.” It was contained in a leather bag, which was fastened at the top with a padlock and an iron chain. This bag contained all the packages of letters and newspapers which were intended for the towns and villages on the road to Southerton. Accordingly, on arriving at any village, Trigget would drive up to the door of the post-of-
p. 213 blank
SORTING THE MAIL.
fice, which was sometimes in a tavern, sometimes in a store, and sometimes in a small building by itself. Somebody would immediately come out to the door, and Trigget would throw down the bag to them. They would carry it in, open it, and pour out all the packages of letters and newspapers in it upon the floor.
Then they would look over all the packages, and take out such as were for that town. They would then put the others back, and also put with them all the letters which had been written in that town and sent to the post-office to be mailed. These letters they had previously sorted and tied up in packages, according to the various places to which they were destined. When all had been put into the bag, they would pass the chain through the staples and lock the padlock, for there were a great many keys to that padlock, and each postmaster along the road had one.
All this would take about five minutes, during which time Trigget remained, with his stage full of passengers, waiting at the door. When they were a little longer than usual in the operation, Trigget would get quite impatient, and, as the window was generally open, and he could hear the people talking together
while they were engaged in sorting the packages, he would often call out to them to hurry the work.
“Come! come!” said he; “short stories in there while you are sorting the mail.” Then, speaking to Handie and Rainbow, he would add perhaps,
“Upon my soul, I believe they are stopping to read the letters.”
Then, the instant that they came out with the bag and threw it up to Trigget, he would store it away under the boot with his heels, gathering up his reins and cracking his whip at the same instant, so as to set off without losing a moment of time.
In excuse for being so very prompt, he would say,
“We have time enough to-night, and an hour to spare, unless I meet with some accident; but as I may meet with some accident to hinder me, I can’t afford to waste any of my time. I have been hindered half an hour before now by the breaking of a strap.”
“You ought to have some spare straps,” said Handie.
“I have,” said Trigget. “I carry spare straps and spare bolts for every thing that I think I can want, and, besides that, I watch
my harness, and don’t go with any thing that is not stanch and sound. Still, accidents will happen sometimes that I’m not provided for, and I have to rouse up some of the farmers and get a rope or something to mend up with. You see the owners of the line don’t give me new harness quite so often as I should like. They naturally want me to make the old harness last as long as I can.”
“They give you a very good team of horses,” said Handie.
“Yes,” replied Trigget; “this is a pretty good team, but the team that I get next, when I change, about four or five miles ahead of here, is better still. That is an excellent team, only the leaders are a little frisky. I don’t think any the worse of them for that, however. The fact is, they are young, and then Hitover keeps them pretty well.”
“Hitover? who is he?” asked Handie.
“He is a hand at Norton’s,” replied Trigget, “where I change. He has the care of the teams there. He’s a first-rate fellow to take care of the horses in the daytime, but he is so intolerably sleepy in the night that it’s the hardest thing in the world to get him awake enough to harness the team. When Hitover is asleep, he is asleep, I tell you.
“However,” continued Trigget, “we get along better now than we did at first. In fact, I believe he’s got in the way of bringing the horses and putting them in without waking up at all.”
“Where is it that he lives, do you say?” asked Handie.
“At Norton’s, on here four or five miles,” said Trigget. “It’s the half-way house, where we change.”
The stage arrived at Norton’s, as Trigget called it, a little before midnight. Norton’s was a small public house, which stood in a somewhat solitary place, at a distance of two or three miles from any village. The house was on one side of the road, and the barn, which was a very large one, was on the other. Trigget paid no attention to the house, but drove up at once to the barn. The barn doors were wide open. As soon as Trigget had reined up the horses, he began to shout out in a very loud voice, making all sorts of exclamations, such as ho! halloo! hupp! heigh! and a great variety of others that it would be impossible to express in writing.
“He’s got a bed,” said Trigget, “in a little room in there, partitioned off in one corner, and before I can get him waked up I generally have to go and bang with a club on the side of it.”
It appeared, however, that banging with the club was not necessary in this instance, for
pretty soon a noise as of somebody moving was heard inside the barn, and, in a few minutes more, Hitover appeared at the door, leading two horses, one with each hand. He looked very sleepy.
“Now, Hitover,” said Trigget, “wake up for once, if you can. I’ve got all my reserved time yet, the whole hour, and I don’t want to lose any of it here. I am going to take the whole of it with me into Southerton, if I can.”
So saying, Trigget passed his handful of reins over to Rainbow, and descended from his seat to the ground, in order to help Hitover change the horses. There was a small boy, whom they called Jex, that came out with the second pair of horses and assisted in making the change. Jex seemed wide awake enough, and talked continually to the horses and to all around him while he was at work among the straps and buckles.
The change was soon accomplished, Trigget attending to all the work about the hinder part of the horses, while Hitover arranged every thing before. The horses that were taken out, as soon as they found themselves at liberty, walked off quietly into the stable, and proceeded each one into his own proper stall.
During all this time Hitover did not speak a
word, but went on with his work in a very regular but seemingly mechanical manner, as if he had really been asleep all the time, as Trigget said. When all was ready he walked back into the barn, just as the horses had done before him.
Trigget mounted to his seat again, took the reins from Rainbow’s hands, drew his whip out of the socket, waved the lash in the air, gave a loud crack with the snapper, and the horses, full of life and spirit, set off at great speed.
“And now Hitover has got those horses to take care of, I suppose,” said Handie.
“Yes,” replied Trigget, “and he’ll do it well.”
“He does not look as if he was half awake yet,” said Handie.
“Awake or asleep, he’ll do it well,” rejoined Trigget. “He’ll unharness them, rub them all down thoroughly, water them, and put them up. Whether he does it with his eyes shut or open, I can’t say. All I know is that he does it well. He sometimes makes some little mistake in his harnessing, but in taking care of his horses he never misses. That’s why we keep him.”
“Mr. Level,” said Rainbow, “I wish, when I’ve done all I can for you, you could get me
such a place as that. That is just such a place as I should like.”
“You’d do right well in such a place,” said Trigget—“that is, when you get a little older. I don’t know any boy that is handier about horses than you.”
In the mean time, while Trigget and his outside passengers had been holding this conversation, the horses had been going on at full speed, although the ground had been a little rising. At the top of the rise there commenced a long descent, and Trigget accordingly began to rein up a little. In a minute he was seen to look forward very earnestly toward the horses’ heads, and to move the reins this way and that, as if something was the matter with them.
“My eyes!” said he, “if Jex hasn’t forgotten to buckle the off reins of the leaders.”
The off reins are those attached to the right sides of the horses’ mouths. The right side of a team is called the off side, and the left side the nigh side, because a teamster, when he walks by the side of the team, in driving them, always takes the left side, so as to have his whip-hand, which is his right hand, toward them.
What Trigget said in respect to the reins was
true. The two off reins, one for each leader, had been left unbuckled. The consequence was, that if Trigget attempted to pull the reins in order to hold the horses in, the pulling only took effect upon the left-hand sides of the leaders’ heads, and thus, instead of reining them in, only drew them out to the left side of the road. Trigget tried very hard to stop the team by holding back the pole horses and attempting to quiet the leaders by his voice, but it was in vain. They went on faster and faster, until finally they got into a run, and Trigget lost all control of them.
“If it was any where else in the road but here,” said Trigget, “I’d let them go, and then, when they had had a little run, I could bring them up; but down at the bottom of this slope there is a short turn to the left, and a great rock on the corner, and I can’t keep them off of it. They’ll cut round that corner short, and stave us all to pieces.”
“Trigget,” said Rainbow, “I’ll tell you what we can do. I can climb down on the backs of the horses and fasten the reins.”
“Do you think you can do that?” asked Trigget, eagerly.
“Yes,” said Rainbow; “I can do it just as well as not.” And he began immediately to
come forward and prepare to climb down upon the pole.
In the mean time the horses were flying onward like the wind.
It was a fearful thing to see Rainbow creep down upon the pole and walk out upon it to the end, holding on all the way by the harness of the pole horses on each side, and then to see him reach forward and climb out upon the back of the nigh leader. At first the leader, when he felt Rainbow creeping out upon his back, was more excited than ever; but Rainbow soothed him somewhat by quieting words, and at length succeeded in getting out upon his neck, and so, reaching forward, he fastened the rein. He then contrived to climb over upon the off leader, and, reaching down over his neck, he got hold of the end of the loose rein on that side too, and was preparing to buckle it in the ring at the end of the bit, when suddenly he found that the horses had reached the end of the slope, and were whirling round the turn. If he had had one minute more of time, he would have accomplished his purpose, and Trigget might have reined the horses in. As it was, it was a little too late. The wheels of the stage, in going round the turn, ran off the side of the road into a shallow sort of gutter of
soft ground, where they sank in a little, and thus, in some measure, checked the speed of the horses. In a moment more the nigh wheels ran up upon the bank on the other side of the gutter, and the end of the forward axle-tree struck the point of a rock with great violence, and the stage was immediately overturned, the top falling toward the road. The passengers inside began screaming with terror. The horses were brought up suddenly by the sock, and the leaders, with Rainbow between them, fell down in a heap in the hollow, where they lay struggling and kicking, and trying to get up. Rainbow, who was very agile, and was always perfectly at his ease in every possible position about a horse, scrambled off to the bank, and then, seizing the horses by the head, held them still.
Trigget and Handie, who had contrived to cling to their places while the coach was going over, jumped off unharmed as it came down, and landed safely in the road.
The windows and the door of the coach on one side were down upon the ground, of course, against the bank which formed the side of the road, but those on the other side were free. Burkill immediately thrust his head out on that side, as soon as the coach was down, and
was now crying out in a voice of great terror,
“Whoa! whoa! Hold the horses! Whoa!”
“Hold your noise there inside,” said Trigget, in an impatient tone. “You need not make such an uproar hollering whoa! We’ve got whoa enough already, you may depend.”
“I was afraid the horses would run,” said Burkill, with his voice all in a tremor.
“Run!” exclaimed Trigget, in a tone of contempt. “Do you think two pair of horses can run with a loaded coach lying on its side?”
While Trigget had been saying this he had not been idle. He had been engaged, with Handie’s assistance, in unbuckling and loosening the harness of the pole horses, while Rainbow had been doing the same for the leaders. In a very few minutes all the horses were freed from the stage, got up, and led out into the road. Handie, as soon as the horses had been cleared, went to the coach and assisted Burkill to open the door, in order that the passengers might climb out.
They were all very much frightened, but they seemed to be unhurt. Burkill himself came out first, and afterward some other men. Handie was most concerned about the two girls. The moon made it pretty light outside, but it
was rather dark inside the coach, and, as soon as the men were out, Handie looked in and said,
“Ladies, are either of you hurt?”
“I am not hurt, sir,” answered one of the girls, “but I am afraid my cousin is.”
Then, as if speaking to her cousin within the coach, Handie heard her say,
“Melinda! Melinda! Are you hurt, Melinda?”
“She does not answer,” said the girl, speaking again to Handie, “and she lies heavily against me. I am afraid she is hurt; or perhaps she has only fainted from fear. She faints very easily. If we could only get her out of the stage!”
“Wait a minute,” said Handie. “I will see if we can not right the stage, and then you can both get out much better.”
Handie immediately ran round into the road, and called to all hands to come and help him right the stage. They all came immediately, though Trigget, who was very busy with his horses, seemed at first rather unwilling to leave them. He however came, and they all took hold of the stage, which, as has already been explained, had fallen toward the road, and was lying against a sort of bank, which made it
much more easy to lift it up than it otherwise would have been.
As soon as all had got hold they gave a good lift together, and the stage came up into an upright position directly over the gutter. Handie now opened the door on the side toward the road, while Trigget went back to his horses.
Handie and the others helped the two girls out. Melinda was entirely helpless. Her cousin seemed calm and composed, however, and took the direction of all the movements. They conveyed Melinda to a smooth place by the side of the road, where the ground was elevated and dry, and laid her down upon the grass.* Her cousin began to loosen her dress, saying,
“If we could only get a little water!”
“I’ll get some,” said Handie.
So saying, he ran to the stage, and, feeling under the boot in front, he drew forth a wooden half-peck measure that Trigget kept there for some purpose relating to oats for his horses, and ran with it down the road a short distance to a brook, and soon returned with the measure full of water.
In the mean time, Trigget, as soon as he had
* See Frontispiece.
got his horses clear, began to take the harness off from one of the leaders, saying at the same time to Rainbow, who was helping him,
“Now, Rainbow, I want you to do something for me.”
“That I’ll do,” said Rainbow.
“Mount this horse, and ride back to Norton’s, and call Hitover. Tell him to harness up a wagon and come here. We must get this baggage back to the tavern.”
“Then you don’t mean to go on with the stage?” said Rainbow.
“No,” said Trigget; “the forward axle-tree is broken, and we can’t go on. Tell Hitover, too, to saddle the young bay, and send Jex here with him. Tell him to get Jex off the first thing, and the wagon afterward.”
Just at this time, Burkill, who had been on the bank where Melinda had been carried, came to the place where Trigget was giving these orders, in order to ask Trigget to send for a doctor; and when he heard Trigget say that Jex was to come immediately with a horse, he supposed that it was for that purpose that Trigget had sent for him.
“That’s right, Trigget,” said he. “You are going to send for a doctor, I suppose, for this girl?”
“No,” said Trigget, “the rest of the passengers must attend to her. I can’t do any thing about it. I must take care of my mail.”
“Why, Trigget,” exclaimed Burkill, “the girl may die if we don’t do something for her.”
“Die!” said Trigget. “No, she won’t die. She is not hurt. She’ll come to presently.”
“Is not hurt!” repeated Burkill, in a tone of surprise. “How do you know she is not hurt?”
“Why, because there has not been any thing to hurt her,” replied Trigget. “How was she to get hurt inside from such an upset as that? The stage went over as easy as a boy would set down a basket of eggs the day before Thanksgiving. She’ll come to presently; and, besides, Handie will do all that is necessary. She’ll like that better herself. The girls all like Handie a great deal better than they do me.”
While Trigget was saying this, he continued all the time busy at work getting together the portions of the harness which had become separated, and making every thing ready for returning to the tavern. He unstrapped the baggage from the rack behind the coach, and put it together by the road-side, ready to be put into the wagon when it should come; and he
took off the bags and parcels from under the boot, and put them in the same place. Burkill was very busy in the mean time in getting things out from the inside of the stage. He had a cloak there, which he took out and put over his shoulders. He also had a small carpet bag, which he put under his arm, where his cloak concealed it from view. He had reasons of his own for not wishing people to observe that he had any carpet bag.
In the mean time, Melinda, on the grassy bank, was so revived by the water which Handie brought, and by the attentions of her cousin, that she gradually came to herself. She opened her eyes and looked about bewildered.
“Ruth,” said she, gazing earnestly into her cousin’s face, “is that you? What are you doing to me?”
“Lie still,” said Ruth. “Shut your eyes, and lie perfectly still. I’ll tell you all about it presently.”
Melinda obeyed, but in a few minutes more she opened her eyes again, and said that she felt better, and she wanted to sit up. So they raised her up, and then they explained to her that the stage had been upset, and that she had fainted. She was very weak still, and she sat upon the grass by the side of Ruth, leaning against her, and waiting for her strength to return.
And now the sound of a horse’s feet was heard coming, cantering along the road.
“There’s Jex,” said Trigget. “I’m glad he’s coming at last.”
Jex drove up at a rapid rate, and reined in his horse at the place where Trigget was at work getting the baggage together.
“Now, Jex,” said Trigget, “help me on with this mail-bag.”
So Jex took hold of one end of the big mail-bag, while Trigget lifted at the other end, and, with a swing and a lift, they threw it upon the back of the horse, behind the saddle. Trigget fastened it in its place with straps. Then he took the way-mail, which was contained in a very much smaller bag, and, after dividing the contents into two parts, and shaking the two portions into the two ends, so as to make something like a pair of saddle-bags of it, he threw it over the saddle, the middle and flat part of the bag lying across the seat.
“Can’t you put that bag on the top of the other one?” said Jex. “I don’t want to ride sitting on it.”
“No,” said Trigget, “it must go there. You see you’ll have to throw it off at all the way post-offices.”
“But I can’t ride on those big bunches of letters,” said Jex.
“Oh, never mind that,” said Trigget. “You’ll
get used to it. Besides, if your seat is a little hard, you’ll be less likely to get asleep, and so ride by any of the offices. But don’t stop at the post-offices longer than you can help. Hurry ’em up. The great thing is to get the big mail to Southerton. You must get it there not later than half past three, and be back here with the return mail by ten o’clock to-morrow morning, if you break your neck in doing it.”
“Nonsense, Trigget,” said Jex; “if I should break my neck I shouldn’t come back at all.”
“Well, send the mail, at any rate,” said Trigget. “I don’t care what becomes of you. All I care about is the mail. So now be off.”
Jex had by this time mounted the horse, and had adjusted himself as well as he could upon the mail-bag in the saddle. He gathered up the bridle-reins, and Trigget, at the same instant, gave the horse a smart slap with the palm of his hand. The horse set off at once at full speed, and soon disappeared from view.
“Very good,” said Trigget, as soon as the horse had gone. “And, now that I have got the mail of my mind, I can look a little after my passengers.”
He accordingly went to the bank, and, finding that Melinda was better, he said it was all right, and that there would be a wagon along
p. 45 blank
ABANDONING THE WRECK.
presently to take her to the tavern. Very soon the wagon came. Melinda, who now seemed to be quite recovered, walked down into the road, supported on one side by Ruth, and on the other by Handie, and there was assisted into the wagon.
“Can you drive yourself?” said Trigget. “Because I want to fill all the rest of the wagon up with trunks and baggage.”
“Seat and all?” asked Handie.
“Yes,” replied Trigget, “seat and all.”
“Then I’ll lead the horse,” said Handie. “She had better not undertake to drive.”
“Very well,” replied Trigget; “that will do.”
So saying, Trigget went to work diligently loading the trunks, and bags, and bandboxes into the wagon. He piled them up behind and before until Melinda was completely surrounded and overtopped by them. Indeed, there was one bandbox that they could find no other place for, and so Melinda had to carry it in her lap.
When all was ready, Handie took hold of the horse by the head and began to lead him along, while Ruth and the rest of the passengers walked on each side. Trigget and Rainbow followed behind, in order to see that none of the par-
cels were jolted off by the motion of the wagon. In this way the whole party went back to the tavern.
When they reached the tavern they found that the people had got up and were ready to receive them. The front door was open, and Mrs. Norton, the landlady, was standing there with a lamp in her hand. Lights were also seen in several of the front rooms. Mrs. Norton and Handie helped Melinda out of the wagon and led her into the sitting-room, while Trigget busied himself in unloading the trunks and baggage, and carrying them into the hall. Mrs. Norton led Melinda and Ruth up stairs to a chamber, and then came down again to make arrangements for the other passengers for the night, while Trigget went out to the barn with Hitover to form a plan with him for getting a yoke of oxen, as soon as it was light in the morning, and dragging the wreck of the stage to the nearest blacksmith’s, in order to have the broken axle-tree repaired.
Going to Bed.
Mrs. Norton said that she had not beds enough in her house that were unoccupied for all the passengers, for several of her rooms were taken by travelers who had come in the evening before.
“And so,” said she, “I don’t know exactly what I shall do.” Then, turning to Rainbow, she added,
“You can sleep in the barn, my boy, I suppose, with Hitover.”
“Yes,” said Handie, answering in Rainbow’s stead. “Yes, Rainbow, you and I will sleep in the barn. I’ll manage that.”
“Very well,” said Mrs. Norton, with a look of satisfaction. “I’ll give each of you a sheet and a blanket. So there are two disposed of.”
Handie accordingly called Rainbow to come with him, and they two went away, leaving Mrs. Norton to make the other arrangements as she best could. Handie led the way into the hall or entry where the trunks had been placed. He took down his own trunk from
the pile, unlocked it, and took out a night-gown from it. He also gave Rainbow his bundle, and Rainbow took out his night-gown too. It was coarse, but it was whole, and very nice and clean.
While Handie was locking his trunk again, a housemaid came into the hall with two sheets and two blankets, which she gave to Handie. Rainbow took them, and then he and Handie went across the road to the barn.
Hitover offered to give Handie his bed, which, as has already been said, was made up in a small compartment set off in one corner of the barn.
“And Rainbow can take Jex’s place,” he added, “as Jex has gone away—only I’m afraid it will be too short for him.”
But Handie very much preferred taking his chance on the fresh hay in the barn-chamber, with the clean sheet which Mrs. Norton had given him, rather than to accept Hitover’s hospitality, and so he and Rainbow turned toward the stairs which led to the loft.
“The moon is so bright that you will not need any lantern, I suppose,” said Hitover.
“No,” replied Handie, “it will be light enough.”
The stairs leading to the loft were in an op-
posite corner of the barn from that in which Hitover’s little compartment had been built, and at the foot of them was a door, which opened out at one side of the barn. This door was open, and Rainbow stopped as he went by to look out. There was a sort of yard there, and a plank walk which led toward the road, and thence to the house. After looking out at this door for a moment to see the moon shining so full upon the trees and upon the roofs of the farm-yard buildings, Rainbow followed Handie up the stairs.
“Now, Rainbow,” said Handie, “we’ll begin our campaign by seeing what sort of a bed we can make out of hay. The hay is nice and fresh, at any rate. I must be new hay, though it is very early for new hay. So, you see, we’re in luck. You must not expect, in knocking about the world, that you will always get fresh hay in the barns that you will have to sleep in.”
In one corner of the barn-chamber there was a small space, open in front, but divided from the rest of the floor, on one side, by a partition. This place had been originally arranged for holding chests of grain, and it was called, accordingly, the grain-bin; but the grain had been removed to the room below, and now it was about half full of hay. The surface of the
hay in it was about five feet above the floor. On the other side of the partition which formed the grain-bin was an open space, where the stairs came up. There was a narrow passage-way opening from the head of the stairs to the middle of the barn floor, and beyond the passage-way the floor of the open space was covered with great heaps of loose hay. The grain-bin, the passage-way, and the space covered with heaps of hay, made up the whole of one side of the barn-chamber. The other side was occupied wholly by a great loft, in which the hay was packed close, and piled up high, nearly to the eaves.
Thus the ground-plan, as draughtsmen call it, of the floor was somewhat as follows:
In the front part of the barn-chamber was a large square window, which was closed in stormy weather with a shutter and a hasp. This window was now open, and a flood of moonlight poured in through it which illuminated almost the whole interior of the chamber, excepting the grain-bin, which was somewhat in the shade. Still, it was light enough there for Handie and Rainbow to see to make their beds.
So they climbed up upon the top of the hay, which, as has already been said, was about five
feet from the floor, and began to make their beds. Handie took his place on the farther side of the bin, next the side of the barn, at the place marked a on the map, and Rainbow went to the other side, next to the partition, at the place marked b, and they both began to make their beds.
“Now, Rainbow,” said Handie, “do just as I do, and you will learn how to make up a bed on the hay.”
So Handie went to work on his side of the bin, Rainbow accompanying and imitating him exactly on his side, through all the successive steps of the process. First they smoothed out the hay for a space long enough for a bed, making it level and equally soft in every part. Then they rolled up good-sized wisps for pillows, and put them in the proper places. Then they spread down the sheets, taking care to use only one half of each sheet as a covering for the bed and for the pillow, reserving the other half to draw over them and cover themselves up with when they had lain down. They opened the blankets too, and placed them at hand on one side, where they could easily reach them, in order to cover themselves up with them after they should have got into bed.
These arrangements having all been made, they undressed themselves, staggering about while they did so on the hay, and, after putting on their night-gowns, each got into his bed. After lying down, they each drew first the spare half of the sheet over them and then the blanket.
“You must put your hand under and shape the hay of your pillow to your head a little,” said Handie, “and that will make it feel soft.”
So Rainbow put his hand under and pushed
away the hay a little from the middle of his pillow, so as to make it fit better to his head, and then he said that it felt very soft indeed.
“So, then, you are now pretty comfortable?” said Handie.
“Yes, sir,” said Rainbow; “I am very comfortable indeed.”
“And now, Rainbow,” continued Handie, “do you know any prayer to say?”
Rainbow said he did. Indeed, his mother had been very particular in teaching him to say his prayers every night before he went to sleep.
“Because, you see,” said Handie, “that we are going out into the world all by ourselves to seek our fortune, and we need more than ever that God should watch over us and take care of us, and we must never forget our prayers to him when we go to bed. You say yours, and then I’ll say mine.”
So Rainbow repeated the prayers which his mother had taught him. They were short prayers, and soon said, but Rainbow took a great deal of comfort in saying them. Then Handie repeated a longer prayer, one which he had committed to memory out of a book.
In a very few minutes after this Handie fell asleep. As for Rainbow, he did not go to sleep
so soon. His mind was excited by the strangeness of the situation he was in, and by the recollection of the scenes through which he had passed during the day. He thought of his mother too, and of the lonely feelings she must experience in being left all by herself in her solitary home, and in being separated for the first time in her life from her son. Besides, the going away from home of a colored boy like Rainbow is a much more momentous event for him than such a change is for a white boy. a white boy, if he is of an amiable disposition and behaves well, even if he goes among entire strangers, soon makes plenty of friends. The world is prepared every where to welcome him, and to receive him kindly. But a boy like Rainbow feels that his fate is to be every where disliked and shunned. In every strange town that he enters he expects that the boys, instead of welcoming him as a new companion and playmate, will be ready to deride him,a nd to point at him, and to call him opprobrious names; so that, when he goes out into the world, there is no bright side of the picture to relieve the regret which he feels at leaving his home. He expects, wherever he goes, and however bright and beautiful may be the outward aspects of the novel scenes through which he may pass,
that every thing human will look dark and scowling upon him, and that all who have loved him, or will love him, or care any thing about him, are left behind. Rainbow felt this very sensibly, and, had it not been for the great kindness with which Handie treated him, it would have seemed to him that in going away from his mother he was sundering, for a time at least, the only tie of affection by which his heart was or could be linked to any thing in this world.
These thoughts occupied Rainbow’s mind and kept him wakeful. Handie, on the other hand, had no such misgivings or fears. He knew very well that he should be kindly received wherever he went, and his mind was accordingly entirely at ease. He was also free from all solicitude about his father and mother, who, being together, were company for each other, while Rainbow could not help pitying his poor mother, who was left entirely alone.
Thus it happened that Handie went to sleep very soon, while Rainbow lay awake a long time.
Night in the Barn-chamber.
At length, however, after he had been in his bed for about half an hour, Rainbow fell into a sort of uncertain sleep, which continued for some time. He dreamed that he was riding a wild horse, without saddle or bridle, across an open country where there were no roads; but the horse was so agile and so fleet that no road was necessary for him. He leaped over the fences and streams, and flew across the fields with the speed of the wind. Rainbow liked it very much as long as the horse kept on his way, but at length, in taking some great leap, the horse stumbled and fell, and Rainbow was thrown over his head into a field of new- mown hay. This waked him. He started up and stared wildly all around him. For some minutes he could not recollect where he was. He put his hand out to one side, and began to feel of the partition. The partition was made roughly, and there were large cracks between the boards. Rainbow brought his face
up to one of the cracks and looked through. He saw the window, and the bright moon shining in upon the floor and upon the upright wall of the mow of hay. Then he began to recollect where he was.
Presently he lay down and tried to go to sleep again, but it seemed now harder for him to go to sleep than it was at first. He knew that Handie was asleep, for by listening he could hear him breathing in the regular and measured manner which denotes sleep. This was the only sound that was to be heard. The night was, in fact, very still—very still indeed, and the stillness made it seem lonesome. Rainbow wished that he could hear some sort of sound. He thought that he could even go to sleep better if it were not so exceedingly still. So he listened; but the more he listened the stiller it seemed to be.
At length, however, he began to feel a little sleepy, and was gradually losing himself, when his attention was roused again by something which seemed like a sound.
“Hark!” said he to himself, at the same time turning his head a little, so as to catch the sound better with his ears. “What’s that?”
The sound was something like that of a faint creaking on the stairs, and of footsteps walking
very softly. Rainbow started up and looked through the crevice again. He was very careful, however, not to make a noise.
Presently he saw the head of a man appearing on the stairway, as of a person coming up. He came up very slowly and very softly. In a moment more Rainbow perceived that it was Burkill coming, and that he had his carpet bag in his hand.
As soon as Burkill reached the head of the stairs he stopped a moment to listen. He was listening for Hitover. He did not know that Handie and Rainbow were in the barn, and in moving so softly and carefully in coming up the stairs all his fear was of waking Hitover.
After pausing a moment to listen at the top of the stairs, and finding that all was still, he crept softly forward on tiptoe, with his carpet bag in his hand, till he got to the window. There he hid the carpet bag under the hay. He put it as far under as he could reach, and covered it up well. Then he stopped again to listen.
All this time Rainbow was watching him through the crack in the partition, being of course himself entirely out of sight; for, although it was tolerably light in the part of the barn where Burkill was standing, it was quite
dark in the grain-bin; and besides, the crevice through which Rainbow was looking was very narrow. It was wide enough, however, for Rainbow to see perfectly every thing that was going on.
After pausing a moment, Burkill came back to the stairway again, walking as softly as possible, and then went down and disappeared.
“What does he mean by hiding his carpet bag under the hay in that cunning manner, I wonder,” thought Rainbow. “I’ve a great mind to tell Mr. Level about it.”
Then speaking aloud, though in a very gentle tone, as if he did not wish to wake Handie unless he would wake very easily, he said,
But Handie did not move or answer. Rainbow listened a moment more, and then, finding that Handie went on breathing regularly as before, he said to himself,
“I’ll tell him about it in the morning; that will do just as well.”
So he lay down again, and determined that he would go to sleep. And, the better to effect this purpose, he concluded to try a method which his mother taught him one time when he was sick and found it hard to get asleep. He shut his eyes, and imagined that there was
a hawk in the air, flying round and round slowly, in a large circle, and without moving his wings, and that he was watching him. He kept his eyes mentally upon this hawk, following him in the great circles through which he was wheeling round and round, and resolutely preventing his mind from wandering to any other conception or idea. In this way his thoughts gradually began to grow dreamy and oblivious, and before long he was fast asleep.
When Rainbow awoke the next morning he found that it was quite light all around him. Handie had already got up, and was dressing himself. He had taken his clothes with him, and had got down from the hay in the grain-bin where the beds had been made, and was standing on the floor of the barn-chamber. Rainbow could just see his head above the surface of the hay.
“Ah! Handie,” said he—“Mr. Level, it’s time to get up, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” said Handie, “it is pretty late. I suppose that it is near breakfast-time. I am going into the house to see what is to be done, and when you get ready you may come over there too.”
So saying, Handie put on his cap, and, passing along the passage-way, went down stairs.
Rainbow sat up in his bed, and looked through the crevice in the partition just as he had done in the night. The sun was shining in very
bright through the open window where the moon had shone in before, and flies were buzzing about in the warm glow. Away up in the roof of the barn, too, swallows were flying about among the rafters and beams. Rainbow could see a good many of their nests under the caves.
Rainbow got up from his bed, dressed himself, and went down stairs to the lower floor of the barn. There he found Hitover at work upon the horses. Rainbow, who liked to make himself useful wherever he was, proposed to help him.
“I can take Jex’s place,” said he.
Hitover was very glad to have his help, and Rainbow accordingly went to work currying the horses, and leading them out to water at a large tub made of half a hogshead, which stood at the corner of the barn outside, and was kept full by means of an aqueduct which was always running.
A good deal of the time Rainbow and Hitover were at work together in the barn, and while so employed they talked with each other in a very sociable and friendly manner. At one time, while they were thus talking together, Hitover, happening to look up from his work with his eyes directed across the road toward
the house, uttered an exclamation of impatience, and said,
“Here’s this man coming again to plague me.”
“What man?” asked Rainbow.
“I don’t know what his name is,” said Hitover, “and very little do I care.”
Rainbow looked out through the open barn door toward the house, and saw that it was Burkill that was coming.
“He has been teasing me all the morning,” said Hitover, “to let him have a horse and wagon to go to Southerton, but I tell him I can’t do any thing about it till Trigget comes back.”
“Where has Trigget gone?” asked Rainbow.
“He has gone with a yoke of oxen to draw the stage to the blacksmith’s,” said Hitover, “and it is about time for him to come back.”
As Hitover said these words Burkill entered the barn, and he began again to urge Hitover to let him have the wagon. Hitover positively refused. The man said that he was in a great hurry, but Hitover said he could not help that. Trigget would be back soon, he said, and he himself could not do any thing about it until Trigget came. We have only got one
wagon here, said he, and I don’t know what uses he may have for it now the stage has broke down.
So Burkill went back to the house again, apparently in a very surly humor.
In a few minutes Trigget arrived. He came first into the barn, and Burkill, who was watching for him from the parlor window, hastened out to the barn again as soon as he saw him going into it.
He applied at once and very eagerly for the wagon. He said he had very important business in Southerton.
“I must be there,” said he, “before noon to-day, and I have been waiting and watching for you these two hours, in order to speak first for it. I’ll pay as much for it as any man will.”
Trigget said he could not give a positive answer till he had had a little time to think about his arrangements. He must go in the house first, and see the rest of the passengers.
“But I tell you,” said Burkill, “that I’ll pay you as much for the wagon as any man will, so what’s the use of seeing the rest of the passengers?”
“Whoever has the wagon,” said Trigget, “will have nothing to pay. It is my duty to get my passengers on to Southerton as fast as
I can, and without any expense to them. So you need not be afraid that any body will get it by outbidding you.”
So Trigget went out and walked across the road toward the house, leaving Burkill in the barn muttering and grumbling.
Trigget went into the house, and was gone about ten minutes. At the end of that time he came to the front door, and called out,
“Ay, ay,” said Hitover, going at the same time to the barn door to see what Trigget wanted.
“Harness Brown Bess into the wagon.”
“Are you going to let me have it?” asked Burkill.
“I don’t know yet,” said Trigget. And, so saying, he went back into the house again.
Hitover immediately went to a stall and led out a brown mare, while Rainbow went to a little shed at the side of the barn and backed out the wagon. In a very few minutes the horse was harnessed. While Hitover was buckling the reins, Trigget came across the road from the house, and went directly to Hitover, and appeared to have some conversation with him in an under tone while he helped him to buckle the reins.
Burkill came round to the place and asked again whether he could have the wagon.
“I can’t tell yet,” said Trigget. “I have got to send Hitover away with it first for a short time.”
Hitover, immediately after this, jumped into the wagon and drove away, charging Rainbow as he left the door to look after the barn while he was gone.
Rainbow had the curiosity to go up stairs as soon as Hitover had gone, in order to see whether Burkill’s carpet bag was still there under the hay. He found that it was there, precisely in the place where he had seen Burkill conceal it.
Hitover was gone nearly half an hour. During this time Mrs. Norton and her maids were employed in getting breakfast. A long table was set in a sort of dining-hall, which extended across the house at the end of the front entry. At the back side of this hall was a door leading into the kitchen, where persons were to be seen moving to and fro, and sounds of frying and broiling were heard, indicating that something good was in the course of preparation for the morning meal.
The passengers had all risen, and were waiting for breakfast, and also to learn what arrangements Trigget was going to make for sending them on. Some were sitting on the steps of the front door. Others were walking about the entry, looking at the pile of luggage there, and talking about their plans. The two young ladies, Ruth and Melinda, were sitting together at a window in the parlor, silent, and apparently much dejected. Their counte-
nances wore an anxious expression, as if some great calamity had happened to them or was just impending.
Rainbow had occasion to go across the road to the house to get a bag of grain which was under the kitchen table, according to directions which Hitover had given him before he went away. As he passed through the front entry to go to the kitchen through the dining-room, he looked into the parlor, and there he saw Handie engaged in conversation with the two girls. They seemed to be speaking in a low tone, and the expression of the countenances, both of Ruth and Melinda, indicated that the subject of their conversation, whatever it might be, gave them a good deal of concern.
Rainbow wondered what all this mystery could mean.
He, however, went on into the kitchen, and there got his bag of grain, which was lying, as Hitover had said, under the kitchen table.
“Did Hitover send you to get that bag of grain?” asked Mrs. Norton, in a tone of surprise.
“Yes, ma’am,” replied Rainbow.
“He might have known better than that,” said she. “You can’t carry it; it is too heavy. If you will bring the wheel- barrow round to the
end door, I’ll get one of the girls to help you put it on.”
“I might try it first,” said Rainbow, “and see how heavy it is.”
So saying, he pulled the bag out from under the table, and brought it in an upright position before a chair which stood by the window. then, clasping his arms around it, he lifted it up into the chair. Then, turning round, he put his back against it, and, reaching his arms up over his head, and stooping a little, he pulled the top of the bag down upon his back and shoulders. Then, straightening himself up again, he lifted the bag from the chair, and turned with it toward the end door.
Mrs. Norton and the maids looked astonished.
“Can I go out this way?” asked Rainbow.
“Yes,” said Mrs. Norton; “that will be the best way for you.” So Rainbow walked off with a firm step, carrying the bag upon his shoulders.
“Well!” said Mrs. Norton, after he had gone, “there’s a boy that’s stiff enough in the back for you. He’ll lift an ox by the time he is twenty-one.”
Rainbow carried the bag of grain into the barn, and emptied it into a chest, as he had been directed to do. He then went into Hitover’s
little room in the corner, and brushed his jacket carefully with a wisp brush which he found there. When he came out to the door again he saw Handie coming across the road. So he took down his night-gown from a shelf in Hitover’s room, where he had left it until he could see Handie and ask him to let him put it in its place in the bundle again.
“Ah! Rainbow,” said Handie, “I see you have got your night-gown; but you can’t put it away just yet. We can’t open any of the trunks till Trigget comes back. There has been a robbery.”
“A robbery!” exclaimed Rainbow.
“Yes,” replied Handie. “One man has lost his watch, and Melinda has lost her purse out of her pocket, and they are going to search all our trunks and see who has got them.”
“Are they going to search your trunk?” asked Rainbow, in a tone of great astonishment.
“Certainly,” replied Handie.
“Why, does any body think that you have stolen the things?” asked Rainbow. “I should not think that they would wish to search your trunk. I would not let them, if I were you.”
“Perhaps they don’t wish to search it,” said Handie; “I don’t know whether they do or not. But one thing I am sure of, and that is
that nobody will want to search it half as much as I want it searched.”
“You want it searched!” repeated Rainbow. “Why should you want it searched when you know you have not got the things?”
“So as to have it proved that I have not got them,” said Handie. “It is not enough for us to know ourselves that we are innocent in such cases, we need to have our innocence proved; so that, if any body were to propose to omit searching my trunk, or your bundle, or my tool-chest, I would not allow them to do it on any account.”
“The tool-chest!” repeated Rainbow, in a tone of astonishment; and he laughed outright at the idea of searching Handie’s tool-chest for stolen goods.
“You see, in all such cases as this,” added Handie, “honest men all wish to be searched, that their honesty may be proved. It is only the thief who resents the proposal, and refuses his consent. I think I know pretty well who will object to having his trunk searched this time.”
“Who?” asked Rainbow.
“Ah!” said Handie, smiling, “perhaps I might guess wrong, and so we will wait and see. But here comes Hitover back with the
wagon, and Trigget is beckoning to me from the front door.”
Rainbow immediately recalled to mind what he had seen during the night, and he was upon the point of relating the circumstance to Handie, but he had not time; for Handie, in obedience to Trigget’s signal, immediately left Rainbow, and walked rapidly back to the house.
Hitover had a man with him in the wagon, and he drove round to the end door of the tavern, where the man got out and went into the house. Hitover then came back with the wagon to the barn, and fastened the horse to a post at the entrance to the shed.
Immediately after this Rainbow heard his name called at the house. Looking across the road, he saw Handie beckoning to him from the front door; so he went over. Several of the passengers were already at the front door, and others were coming, so that by the time Rainbow arrived they were all assembled. Ruth and Melinda were sitting by the front window in the parlor, where, the door being open, they could hear all that was said.
Trigget was standing in the entry near the doorway, and as soon as all were assembled he commenced a speech as follows:
“I have called you together, gentlemen, on
account of some business which is not exactly agreeable; but we must go through it the best way we can. The fact is, that in the confusion last night, in getting upset and in picking ourselves up afterward, we got our things mixed up a little. There’s a watch belonging to one of the passengers, and a purse with money in it belonging to the young ladies, that have got somewhere into the wrong place, and we want to find them. We have searched the ground where we upset and the coach pretty thoroughly, and they are not there. And the question is, where are they? I suppose that every gentleman will naturally want to show that those things haven’t by any mistake got in among his baggage, and so I propose that the trunks shall be opened, one by one, and searched. Who will begin?”
“I’ll begin,” said Burkill. “You may search my trunk as quick as you please, and as long as you please.”
Burkill spoke quite eagerly in saying this, and came forward in quite an ostentatious manner. Both Trigget and Handie were somewhat surprised at his promptness, for they had expected that he would be unwilling to have his trunk searched.
“It might save some trouble,” said one of
the passengers, “to take the trunks as they come, beginning with the first one on the top of the pile.”
“Yes,” said Trigget, “that will be the best way.”
It happened that Handie’s trunk came first. This was owing to the circumstance of Handie’s having taken it down the evening before, in order to get the night-gowns.
So Handie took out his key and opened the trunk, and then took out carefully, one by one, all the articles that were in it, and showed that neither the watch nor the purse was there. His tool-chest was searched in the same manner. Of course, nothing was found.
“Now for your pockets,” said Trigget. “The things might, you know, by some mistake have got into your pockets.”
Handie knew very well that Trigget’s plan in proposing thus to search his person was only to set an example, and to prepare the way for examining all the others in that manner. Besides, he wished for his own sake to have it abundantly proved that he was innocent of the robbery; so he took every thing out of his pockets, and then turned his pockets inside out, and he also insisted that Trigget should feel of his clothes in every part, in order to
make it certain that he had nothing concealed in them.
“Very well,” said Trigget, when this examination had been concluded. “We don’t find any thing about you. Now for the next trunk.”
The next trunk was opened, and was examined in the same way, as were likewise the clothes and the pockets of the owner of it, and so with the next, and the next, in regular order. When it came to the turn of the two young ladies, Handie suggested that their trunk and bandboxes, for they had but one trunk between them, should be taken into the parlor and examined by Mrs. Norton. “For,” as he said, “it would be hardly civil in us to allow the wardrobe of two such young ladies to be exposed to the inspection of such a company of men.”
This suggestion was unanimously approved, and the baggage of the ladies was examined in the parlor by Mrs. Norton, but nothing was found.
Rainbow’s bundle was opened and examined at the same time with the remaining contents of Handie’s trunk, but Trigget did not think to call upon him then in order to have his pockets searched; so Rainbow, watching for an op-
portunity when Burkill was not very near, came up and asked Trigget to search him, which Trigget proceeded to do. While Rainbow was taking the things out of his pockets, he said in a low voice to Trigget,
“Mr. Burkill came up last night into the barn-chamber, and hid his carpet bag there, under the hay, near he window, on the right hand.”
Trigget did not move a muscle of his countenance on hearing this, nor did he show any outward appearance of taking any notice of what Rainbow said, but went on examining his pockets just as before. He, however, said, in a low tone,
“All right; say nothing.”
He then went on and completed the examination of Rainbow’s person. Pretty soon Mrs. Norton came out of the parlor, and reported that she had examined the trunk of the young ladies, and that nothing had been found.
“Very well,” said Trigget. “Then I don’t see but that we have got through. I am sorry to have put you all to this trouble, gentlemen; but, no doubt, it is more satisfactory to you all to have it proved that these missing things are not in any of your trunks before any of the trunks are taken away. The most honest man
among us might have been suspected, if his effects had been taken away from here without being searched.”
“At any rate,” said Burkill, coming forward, “we have done with this business at last, I hope, and now can you tell me whether I can have the wagon to go to Southerton?”
“Not quite yet, Mr. Burkill,” said Trigget, in answer to Mr. Burkill’s question; “you must have patience a few minutes longer. I must go out into the barn first. I want to get John Easterly here to look at some hay I have been buying, in order to see about ordering some more. But I’ll be back again in five minutes. Come, John.”
Trigget addressed this last call to one of the passengers, the one to whom the missing watch belonged. He was a quiet and sedate, but very determined-looking young man. In turning to him Trigget winked in an almost imperceptible manner, and John Easterly understood from this token that Trigget had some secret design in the request which he had made, though, of course, he did not know what it was. He said he would go.
“And, Handie,” said Trigget, “I wish you would come too. You are a good judge of hay.”
“No,” said Handie, “I can’t go very well.”
The reason why Handie did not wish to go was that he was going into the parlor to see Ruth and Melinda, and consult with them in respect to what they were to do, now that it was ascertained that their money could not be found.
Trigget tried to catch Handie’s eye in order to give him a wink as he had done to John Easterly, but he did not succeed in this, for Handie immediately turned away to go into the parlor. Rainbow, however, who was standing near him, said in a low tone, close to his ear,
“Please go with him, Mr. Level; there is a secret reason.”
So Handie turned round and said that, on the whole, he would go.
Accordingly, Trigget, accompanied by John Easterly and Handie, went down the steps. He stopped a moment to say to the passengers that he would be back in a few minutes, and then would tell them what he should be able to do about getting them on. He then walked on across the road, accompanied by his two friends.
Burkill, who now began to be somewhat alarmed, concluded to go with them. So he followed immediately. Rainbow went too. He thought that perhaps he might be of some serv-
ice in pointing out the precise place where the carpet bag was concealed.
Trigget walked on, talking with his two friends about indifferent matters. Burkill kept close behind them, and this prevented his saying any thing to explain in any way the secret reason which he had for taking them into the barn. They, however, did not ask, being convinced that Trigget knew very well what he was about, and that the mystery would be explained in due time.
Such was the state of things when the party entered the barn, and all together went up into the chamber.
“Here is some hay,” said Trigget, “that a man charges me eight dollars a ton for. He has got forty tons of the same kind that he wishes to sell me. I want you to tell me what you think of it.”
So saying, trigget advanced toward the window a little way, and he and his two friends began to take the hay in their hands and examine it.
“Rainbow,” said Trigget, “take a pitchfork, and dig us out some of this hay from underneath a little. I want to see how it looks farther in.”
Rainbow wanted nothing better than such an
order as this. He took the pitchfork, which stood leaning against the rick of hay on one side, and began to pitch over the hay. He began at first a little distance from the window, so as t avert suspicion. He forked off the top of the hay, and then took out some from underneath and threw it upon the floor. He advanced in this way gradually toward the window.
Burkill was now in a great state of trepidation, fearing that his carpet bag would be discovered.
So he began suddenly to take a great interest in the hay, and to take up parcels of it at a distance from the window, and to talk with the others about it, and call upon them to look at it, in order to draw them away from the place where the bag was hidden. Rainbow, however, went steadily on, throwing out the hay, until finally he reached the place where the bag was, and there dexterously, though, to all appearance, wholly by accident, he planted the tines of the fork on the farther side of it, and threw it out upon the floor in such a manner that it fell almost at Trigget’s feet.
“Ah!” said Trigget, with a look of some little surprise, “what’s here? This is something of Hitover’s, I suppose.”
“No,” said Burkill, coming forward, “no, it is not Hitover’s. That is mine. I put it here—to—to— I put it here last night, because it was small, and I was afraid it might get lost or mislaid.”
“Ah! it is yours!” said Trigget; “very good. And this was a very safe place to put it; only it if had been at the house, we might have examined it with the rest of the baggage. However, it will make no difference. We can search it here now in five minutes. There is not much of it, and a short horse is soon curried. Have you got the key about you?”
Burkill took up the carpet bag and began to move toward the stairs. John Easterly and Handie, however, anticipated him, and seemed disposed to bar his passage.
“This bag is not to be examined,” said Burkill. “There’s nothing in it but my private papers and such things, and it would be entirely useless to open it.”
“But, Mr. Burkill,” said Trigget, “if your bag should not be examined, then, after you have gone, there might be some people malicious enough to say they believed the missing things were in it, and so your character might suffer, and that would be a pity, you know. Think what people would say.”
“I don’t care what people way,” replied Burkill, holding the carpet bag behind him, and trying to make his way to the stairs. “I am willing to have my trunk examined with the rest, but that’s enough. There is nothing in this bag but my papers and things, and I can’t have them disturbed, especially when it will do no sort of good; for I assure you, upon my honor, that the watch and the money-purse are not in it.”
So saying, he moved again toward the stairs, but Handie and John Easterly intercepted him gently, saying,
“Wait a minute, Mr. Burkill.”
“Let me go,” said Burkill.
“Mr. Burkill,” said Trigget, “listen to me one moment.” In saying this, Trigget spoke in a very calm and quiet, but determined manner.
“You know me well enough, I suppose,” he continued, “to know that when I say a thing I mean it, and that when I say a thing must be done that comes within my reach and range, it will be done. And now I tell you, once for all, that bag is not to go out of my sight until it is searched, and thoroughly searched too, and you may as well make up your mind to it first as last.”
“I tell you it shall not be searched,” said
Burkill, in a thundering tone of voice, which he thought might perhaps intimidate Trigget. “It shall not be searched. I’ll knock you down first, or run you through with the pitchfork. Give me that pitchfork.”
These last words were addressed to Rainbow, who stood near, with the pitchfork still in his hands. Rainbow retreated a step or two and presented the points of the pitchfork toward Burkill, like a soldier holding his bayonette when advancing toward a charge.
Burkill had only one hand free, the other being engaged in holding the carpet bag, which he did not dare to let go, knowing that if he did so Trigget would immediately seize it. He saw at once that he was entirely helpless, and he began to look pale and terrified.
“You have no right to touch my carpet bag,” said he, at length, turning fiercely toward Trigget again. “It is my property, and you have no right to touch it, much less search it; so let me go.”
“Mr. Burkill,” said Trigget, calmly, “you are right there. We have no right to touch it. We have not touched it, and I, for once, don’t intend to touch it without your consent. I always go according to law, and I know very well that the law gives me no right to open or
search my passengers’ baggage, in any case, without their consent. But when you come to know one thing that I am going to tell you, perhaps you will give your consent, and so save all farther trouble. I have got an officer in the house, who has the right to search your baggage, if I have not. I sent for him so as to have him at hand in case of need. I have not brought him forward yet, because I thought it would be more agreeable to the passengers to have this business all settled among ourselves, in a neighborly and friendly manner. They seem to have thought so too, and have all joined together to help the business on. You have too, like the rest, so far, and I advise you not to begin to make any difficulty now. Still, you can have your choice. You can let us examine your baggage here all by ourselves, in a quiet way, with your consent, or I can send across to the house and get the officer to come and examine it without your consent. We will do it either way, whichever will be most agreeable to you. I am disposed to be accommodating. And, at any rate, I shall go exactly according to law, and so, if you do not give your free consent to our examining the baggage here among ourselves, I’ll get Rainbow to go over and bring the officer.”
On hearing these words, Burkill looked as if he had been thunderstruck. He stared a moment into Trigget’s face, then looked at the stairs, and then out at the window, and seemed completely bewildered. He did not know what to do or say.
“I think you may as well go and bring the officer, Rainbow,” said Trigget.
Rainbow immediately put his pitchfork into Handie’s hands, and went toward the stairs.
“No, no,” said Burkill; “stop. You need not go for the officer. I’ll take every thing out of the bag myself, and let you see.”
But as Trigget himself, who had given the order, did not countermand it, Rainbow paid no attention to what Burkill said, but went on down the stairs.
Burkill, still calling upon Rainbow to stop, began fumbling in his pocket for his key, but he seemed not to be able to find it. He was really engaged all the time in trying to contrive some way by which he might escape himself, while he gave up his carpet bag.
“I don’t see what I have done with the key,” said he, feeling first in one pocket and then in another. “I had it—this morning. What can I have done with it? I must have left it in my trunk. I’ll go and get it. I will leave
the carpet bag here with you, and I’ll go and get the key, and be back in five minutes.”
“Are you sure you have got the key of your trunk?” said Trigget.
“Yes,” replied Burkill, still looking wild and bewildered, “yes; I am sure I’ve got the key to my trunk.”
He moved toward the head of the stairs as he said this, but Handie and John Easterly kept their station there, as if they were not disposed to make way for him to pass.
“Let us see,” said Trigget. “Let us see if you have got the key to your trunk.”
Burkill fumbled in his pocket, and took out a key upon a ring, and held it out so that Trigget could see the key, while he kept the ring concealed in his hand.
Trigget took hold of the key, and Burkill, after hesitating a moment, gave it up to him. There was a smaller key on the ring, which had been before concealed.
“Ah!” said Trigget, “here is a smaller key. Perhaps this will open the carpet bag.”
Poor Burkill now seemed to give up the contest, and, without saying a word, he sank down upon the hay which was near him in utter despair.
Trigget proceeded quietly to put the key into
the lock of the carpet bag, and opened it immediately.
“Now, Mr. Burkill,” said he, “I will not take any thing out of your bag unless you say the word.”
Burkill leaned his head upon his hand and groaned, but did not reply.
“I have no right to search any thing of yours without your leave, and if you would rather have the officer come and do it, I will wait.”
“No,” said Burkill, “search yourself. I would rather you would search.”
So Trigget proceeded to take out the articles that were in the bag one by one, and laid them down upon the hay by his side. There were various little rolls of dress, and one or two bundles of papers; there was also a box containing some crackers and cheese, and a bottle. Trigget took all these things out, without finding any watch or purse of money. He then began to put them back again. In putting them back he felt of the rolls and little bundles carefully, in order to ascertain whether they contained any thing hard. He thought he perceived something hard in a pair of stockings rolled up together. He opened the roll, and there, in the toe of one of the stockings, he found the watch that was missing.
“That’s my watch,” said John Easterly. “That’s it, chain and all.”
“Is it yours?” said Burkill. “I was going to inquire whose it was. I found it on the ground last night, and I—I put it—”
Then, as if feeling how utterly hopeless his condition was, he stopped abruptly leaned his head upon his hand, and groaned aloud.
Just then the officer, followed by Rainbow, was seen coming up the stairs.
Handie, seeing this, said to Trigget,
“I suppose now you have help enough, and that you will not need me any more?”
“No,” said Trigget, “you need not wait any longer unless you choose.”
So Handie, finding it painful to his feelings to remain any longer, made a sign to Rainbow to follow him, and went down stairs, leaving the poor detected criminal to be dealt with as Trigget and the officer should see fit.
Ruth and Melinda.
Handie went immediately over to the house and informed Ruth and Melinda that the watch had been found, and that he presumed their money would be found too.
The two girls were sitting in the parlor looking quite disconsolate when Handie went in, but their eyes brightened up wonderfully on receiving the intelligence which he brought them.
“Oh, Ruth!” exclaimed Melinda, clasping her hands, “I am so glad.”
“Yes, sir,” said Ruth, “we are very glad, though not so much on account of the money. There was not more money than we could have made up in a week when we are once at work in the factory, but we did not see very well how we were to get there without it.”
“You see,” said Melinda, “we ought to be there to-morrow night, and if we were to go home again to get some more money we could not get there in time, and so might lose our
places. Besides, if our porte-monnaie had not been found, we should not have any money to go home with.”
“We might have written home for them to send us some,” said Ruth, with a thoughtful look, as if musing on what they should have done.
“Yes,” said Melinda, “we might perhaps have done that; but I am so glad that the money is found.”
“I don’t say absolutely that it is found,” rejoined Handie. “The watch is found, and I presume the money was not far off from it. However, Trigget will come down, I think, before long and tell us all about it. He was going to tell us what arrangements he could make for getting us on to Southerton. But, at any rate, you need not give yourselves any uneasiness in respect to your going on. I will see that it is all arranged for you, whether your money is found or not.”
The two girls both appeared very grateful for the kind interest which Handie seemed to take in their case. Melinda expressed her thanks very earnestly in words, and Ruth, though she said much less, seemed to feel very thankful.
Handie went out to the steps of the front
door, and by looking across the road he could see the party in the barn-chamber through the window, which was open. They were making some movements together, as if preparing to come down. Hitover and Rainbow were at work near the barn door, and the horse and wagon were standing by the corner of the barn, where the horse was fastened to a post. Trigget came to the barn window, looked down, and said something to Hitover. He then went back. Hitover immediately unfastened the horse, and stood by his side, holding the reins in his hand.
A moment afterward Handie could see through the barn window that the party in the chamber were coming down the stairs. They soon appeared at the barn door. Trigget came first. Then followed the officer, with Burkill by his side. Burkill had his hands behind him. John Easterly came last. Trigget led the way out to the wagon. Burkill and the officer followed, and the officer and Trigget helped Burkill to get in. Burkill kept his hands behind him all the time, and seemed unable to help himself. In fact, his hands were tied.
Burkill sat down upon the seat, and then the officer got in, and took his place by the side of
p. 96 blank
him. John Easterly then got in behind, and tried to find some place to sit, but could not, and so Trigget brought him a small box out of the barn, by means of which he did very well.
Hitover himself then got in before, and sat there on the edge of the wagon, with his feet down forward upon the shafts. After every thing was thus adjusted, Hitover drove away.
Trigget stood at the barn door following the wagon with his eyes as it drove away, looking after it with an expression of countenance which denoted great satisfaction. Handie walked slowly across the road toward him.
“I let him have the wagon, after all,” said Trigget, with a smile of great complacency.
“And I don’t charge him any thing for the use of it,” he added, after a moment’s pause. “So I have been as good as my word.”
“I pity him,” said Handie.
“Ho!” exclaimed Trigget, in a tone of contempt; “unless you have got a great deal of pity to spare, you had better be more saving of it than to throw away much on him. You had better pity them that suffer from him—these poor factory girls, for instance, whose money he has got.
“When I say poor, I mean unlucky,” added
Trigget; “for the girls are smart girls, and are well off, and I don’t suppose they mind losing eight or ten dollars half as much as old Squire Watson would, who is worth sixty thousand dollars. But it is hard for them, nevertheless, to have all their cash taken away right in the midst of a journey.”
“Then their money is not found?” said Handie.
“No,” replied Trigget. “We looked for it thoroughly, but we could not find any thing of it. We questioned Burkill, too, very closely, but he persists in refusing to tell us any thing about it. He declares positively that he did not take it, and knows nothing about it whatever. He says he assures us solemnly, on his honor!”
Trigget laughed aloud, being apparently very much amused at the idea of Burkill’s pretending to assert any thing upon his honor.
“The girls’ money is gone,” continued Trigget. “It’s gone irretrievably, I suppose, and I don’t know what they will do. I can send them on to Southerton in the wagon when it comes back, but what they will do for their railroad fare, and other expenses for the rest of the way, I don’t know.”
“Oh, they will get along very well,” said
Handie. “I have been talking with them about it. They will have no difficulty.”
“I am glad to hear that,” said Trigget; “I was afraid they might be uneasy. One of them told me that all the money that belonged to them both was in the same wallet. But perhaps they have got friends in Southerton who will help them along. All that I can do for them is to send them on there in the wagon. I’ll give them the preference, they being ladies; men can take care of themselves.”
Handie went immediately to the house, and told the two girls that their money had not bee found. Trigget had no doubt, he said, but that Burkill had taken it; but they could not get him to confess it, and they could not find any traces of it after the most diligent search. He said, however, that he could lend them what money they wanted for the expenses of their journey just as well as not, and they could pay it back when they received a supply by inclosing it to him in a letter.
Both Ruth and Melinda seemed to feel very grateful to Handie for his kindness in making this offer, but Ruth appeared to be somewhat in doubt whether it would be right and proper for them to accept it. She, however, finally concluded to do so. Handie asked how much
they should require. They said that five dollars would be enough for them. Handie offered them eight, but they declined to take so much. Finally they consented to receive six, and Handie gave them the money in two bank bills, a five and a one. He also gave them a memorandum of his name and address, in order that they might know how to direct their letter in sending him back the money, and he took their address too, in order that he might write to them in case he should hear any thing about the lost purse.
These transactions were scarcely concluded before the wagon returned. Hitover came back in it alone. Trigget then told such of the passengers as remained that he was going to send the two young ladies on to Southerton in the wagon, with a boy to drive them; and that, as to the rest, the best thing that he could do for them would be to take them on that night. The stage would be repaired, he said, in the course of the day, but it would not be ready until about time for the next trip. He would take them on then, he said, or, if they chose, he would pay them back the proper proportion of their fare, and they might go on themselves in the best way they could.
“It is not more than eighteen or twenty
miles,” said he. “You can walk on if you choose, and I will bring the baggage o when I come to-night.”
“That’s what we will do, Rainbow,” said Handie. “We will walk on. It is now about ten o’clock. We can walk twenty miles in seven hours, and that will bring us to Southerton at five o’clock this afternoon.”
“If we don’t stop by the way,” said Rainbow.
“Yes,” rejoined Handie; “and if we stop a couple of hours on the way, it will then be seven o’clock, and that, in June, is in very good season.”
Talk on the Road.
“Now, Rainbow,” said Handie, as soon as these plans were decided upon, “we will see what we can do in the way of making up a knapsack.”
So Handie led the way to the house, and there, in the hall, he opened his trunk, in order to take out from it what would be necessary for him and Rainbow for the night.
“You see,” said he, “whether we get to Southerton to-night or not, we shall not see the trunk again until to-morrow.”
So they took out what was necessary for the night, both for Handie and for Rainbow, and made up a bundle with it, which Handie gave to Rainbow to carry. Handie then locked the trunk again and put the key in his pocket.
Soon after this the wagon came to the door to take the two girls. Trigget put their trunk in behind. There was a small boy, who had been sent for from one of the neighbors, who was to drive. Trigget had moved the box,
which had already served for a seat for John Easterly, round to the front part of the wagon, for the boy to sit upon. The boy being small, there was room for his feet before the box. The seat proper was reserved for the two passengers.
When all was ready, Handie helped the two girls into the wagon, and they took their seats.
“Are you sure you have got plenty of money?” said Trigget.
“Oh yes,” replied Melinda, “we have got more than we want.”
“That’s all right,” said Trigget. “There is nothing like having more money than you want.”
Melinda supposed that in asking this question Trigget referred to the money which Handie had lent them, but he did not. He did not know that Handie had lent them any money at all.
When every thing was ready, the two girls bade Trigget and Handie good-by, and the wagon set off from the door. Handie stood on the steps, following it with his eyes as long as it continued in sight, but very soon it passed around a turn in the road and disappeared.
“Two nice girls,” said Trigget.
“Yes,” replied Handie. “Which of them do you like the best?”
“Why, as to good looks, there is not much to choose,” replied Trigget; “but I rather guess that Melinda is the smartest.”
“Very likely,” said Handie.
Handie then called Rainbow, saying that it was time for them to set out upon their journey too.
“And you will bring my trunk and tool-chest on to-night,” he added, speaking to Trigget.
“Yes,” said Trigget. “Shall I leave them at the tavern in Southerton?”
“Can you leave them just as well at the Three Pines?” asked Handie.
“Just as well,” replied Trigget. “I pass directly by the place in going into town. But nobody lives there.”
“I shall be living there in some shape or other,” said Handie, “very soon, and, at any rate, I would rather have my baggage there.”
“Very well,” said Trigget. “It will be very early when I go by, but I’ll put your things there by the gate, and when you get up in the morning you can take them in.”
This arrangement having been made, Trigget bade Handie and Rainbow good-by, and walked across the road toward the barn. Handie and Rainbow then set out on their journey.
Rainbow, who was very ingenious about such things, had tied the bundle around with cord, in which he had made two loops to pass over his shoulders, so as to enable him to carry the bundle in the way of a knapsack.
In a short time they came to the top of the long descent where Trigget first found that the reins were unbuckled, and where he consequently lost the command of the horses.
“You showed a great deal of courage, Rainbow,” said Handie, “in getting down upon the horses and fastening the reins as you did.”
“Ah! Mr. Level,” said Rainbow, “the thing was, I did not have quite time enough. If I had had two minutes more before we came to that sharp turn, we should have been all right.”
“Yes,” said Handie; “but it was rather a dangerous thing for you to do.”
“Oh no,” replied Rainbow; “I like to be climbing about horses.”
Talking together thus, the travelers walked on until they came down to the foot of the descent, where the road turned round the rocks, and where the stage was upset. They stopped on the margin of the road there and looked at the spot. They could see the marks of the wheels in the soft ground, and the place on the
rock, at the side, where the hub had struck. A little farther on they could see the mark made in the road where the coach had been dragged along by the oxen toward the blacksmith’s shop. Three of the wheels were in a condition to turn when the coach had been taken away, but the remaining one was broken, and that corner of the coach had been supported by a long lever, formed of a very stout pole cut from the woods, which Trigget had contrived to rig under it, so as to support the end of the axle-tree by one end of the lever, while the other end dragged upon the ground. In this way, and by drawing the coach backward, the oxen had no difficulty in getting it along. Of course, in its progress, it left a long mark in the road, made by the dragging of the lever.
“Let us look once more, thoroughly, all about here,” said Handie, “and see if we can’t find the girls’ wallet.”
“Yes, sir,” said Rainbow.
So they both began to look. They explored the ground in every part very thoroughly. They turned over every loose stone, and pulled open every tuft of grass and every little clump of bushes. They walked back and forth across the road to the bank where Melinda had been taken when she was faint, and examined
the bank itself in every part, but nothing was to be found.
“There is no doubt at all, Mr. Level,” said Rainbow, “but what Burkill has got this money. He has got it, and has hid it away somewhere where Trigget could not find it.”
“I am afraid he has,” said Handie.
“You see,” continued Rainbow, “he took out the money perhaps, and then threw the wallet away.”
“Very likely,” said Handie.
“If I had time,” said Rainbow, “I would look along on the other side of the fences between here and Norton’s, to see if I couldn’t find the wallet.”
“But we have not time,” said Handie; “and, besides, there would not be much satisfaction in finding the empty wallet.”
“But the wallet itself might be worth a good deal,” said Rainbow. “It might be worth a dollar or more. Such girls as they have very nice money-purses and things sometimes.”
“If it had been worth much Burkill would not have thrown it away,” replied Handie; “and, besides, the chance of our finding it is too small. We had better go on our journey.”
So they returned to the road, and began to walk along again on the way toward Souther-
ton. Rainbow was interested, as they went on, in following the track of the pole which had been placed under the coach.
“See,” said he, “we can see the track of the pole all along the road.”
“Yes,” replied Handie, “we shall have it all the way, I suppose, till we come to the blacksmith’s shop. We could find out by this track where Trigget took the coach to be mended, if we wished to know.”
“Did they look in the coach when they hunted for the wallet?” asked Rainbow.
“I suppose they did,” said Handie. “That was one of the principal places where they ought to have looked.”
“Perhaps they did not look thoroughly,” suggested Rainbow.
“True,” said Handie. “So you and I will look again when we go by.”
“I’ll watch the track,” said Rainbow, “and see where it turns up to the blacksmith’s shop.”
The fact is that Trigget had looked in the stage when he made his search for the wallet, and he thought that he looked thoroughly; and yet, after all, the wallet was there, and he had not found it. The way in which it happened was this: When Melinda found that the horses were going so fast down the slope in the
road, and that they continued to go so for so long a time, she at length began to be alarmed, and to think that something was the matter. Now she was naturally a timid and excitable girl, and she immediately thought of her wallet and her money. The wallet was a new one and a very nice one, and, as Ruth had no wallet, she had put Ruth’s money in it as well as her own. The fact that she had Ruth’s money in her wallet as well as her own made her feel a double responsibility in respect to the safety of it. So she instinctively took it out of her pocket and clasped it tightly in her hand. When the stage went over she fainted, and the wallet fell from her hand upon the middle seat, and thence, sliding to the end of the seat, it fell down between the end of the seat and the door.
For this middle seat, as is customary in stage-coaches of that sort, was set on hinges, so that it could be tipped forward out of the way when the doors were opened, so as to allow persons to get in or out; and in order that it might move freely in such cases, there was a small space left between the end of it and the door. The wallet slid into this space, and then finally, when the coach was righted again, it fell down to the bottom of the standard which formed the end of the seat, and there rested on a
thick bar which passed across the doorway as a sort of threshold.
When Trigget searched the stage for the missing articles, he looked all over the floor, and under the seats, and he took up all the cushions and looked under them. He also tilted the middle seat forward, but it so happened that the wallet was near the hinge, and so was not thrown out, and, being on the other side of the coach—for it was the door toward the road, which was the one opposite to that where the wallet had fallen down, that he opened- -he did not see it. So he put back the seat into its place, and shut the door, concluding that the wallet was not there.
Handie and Rainbow walked on about half an hour, watching the track all the way, until at length they came to a place where there was a corner, and the road turned off to the right, the track of the pole turned too, and went into this right-hand road.
“Now,” said Handie, “here is a dilemma.”
“Does dilemma mean a fork in the road?” asked Rainbow.
“Yes,” said Handie, smiling, “it means a fork in any thing. When we come to a point where there are two things to do, and we don’t know which is best, we call it a dilemma.
“The question is,” continued Handie, “which of these is the road to Southerton. At least, that is the first question.”
So saying, Handie looked about, and presently he saw a man at work in a field not very far off. He went to the fence and called out to him to ask which was the road to Southerton.
“Right ahead!” said the man, calling out aloud.
“That’s bad for us,” said Handie, speaking now in his ordinary voice to Rainbow, “for the blacksmith’s shop, where the stage has gone, is on the other road, and it won’t do for us to go very far out of our way.”
Then, looking over the fence again, he called out to the man once more, and asked him how far it was to the blacksmith’s shop, on the right-hand road. The man replied that it was about a mile.
Handie thanked the man for his information, and then returned into the road again, looking somewhat perplexed.
“Let us sit down here on this log,” said he, “and consider what it is best for us to do in this dilemma. If it is a mile to the blacksmith’s shop, it will detain us an hour to go there, make our search, and come back again.
Now we can’t afford to lose much time, for, you see, I have got very little money to spend on this journey. I lent pretty much all my money to those poor girls, for they could not get along at all, you know, without money, whereas you and I can work out passage, and rough it in any way. I have got some money, but I shall want all I have got after I get to Southerton, and so I had rather not spend any thing, if I can help it, on the way.
“Then, again, there is very little chance of our finding the purse. It is not of much use for you and me to look for any thing in a place where Trigget could not find it. He is not particularly in the habit of slighting what he undertakes to do.”
“That’s a fact,” said Rainbow.
“But then, on the other hand,” continued Handie, in a musing sort of tone, as if he were, after all, talking to himself rather than to Rainbow, “there is a possibility—there is certainly a possibility. Trigget was in a hurry, and it was scarcely light when he looked. And even if we should not find the purse, we shall feel better to have looked for it, and so to have done all we could for the poor girls.
“So, on the whole, Rainbow,” added Handie, rising now from his seat, and speaking in a
more decided tone, “I think that, balancing one thing against another, and weighing the matter fairly all around, we had better go to the blacksmith’s shop.”
Rainbow was much pleased with this decision. He liked any thing that promised to give variety and interest to the journey, and he had no objection whatever to the additional two miles of walking; so he rose at once from his seat, and began to walk along with Handie on the right-hand road.
As Handie and Rainbow walked along the road, Rainbow watched the mark made by the sliding of the pole over the ground more closely than ever, as if he were afraid of losing the track. He did not lose it, however, and, in about twenty minutes from the time when they turned off from the Southerton road, he had the satisfaction of seeing a small village before him, with a blacksmith’s shop in the middle of it, and the very stage-coach which he had been following so long standing quietly by the door of it, upon a small plat of level and grassy ground which intervened between the shop and the road.
Over the door was a sign, with the words WILLIAM BLOOMS, BLACKSMITH, painted upon it in large letters, with a picture of a prancing horse at one end, and of a wagon-wheel at the other. Through a broad window, which had an inclined shutter over it that was now lifted up, Handie saw a glowing fire at the forge, and two men at work hammering a mass of red-hot
iron, which one of them was holding upon an anvil. Handie went up to the door, and, addressing the man who seemed to be the master, told him that he and Rainbow were two of the passengers who were in the stage when it was upset, and that they wished to look into it to search for something that was lost.
“Very well,” said the blacksmith; “search as much as you please.”
So Handie turned and went to the coach, Rainbow following him. It so happened that he approached it on the side where the wallet had fallen, so that the moment that he opened the door the wallet fell out upon the ground. Rainbow uttered an exclamation of astonishment, but Handie quietly picked up the wallet without saying a word.
In the mean time the sound of the hammering continued in the shop, showing that the men were going on with their work there, and were paying no attention to what Handie and Rainbow were doing.
“That’s the wallet, without any doubt,” said Handie, holding the wallet in his hand.
“Let’s open it,” said Rainbow, “and see if the money is in it safe.”
“No,” said Handie, “we have no right to open it.”
“Why, Mr. Level!” said Rainbow, “I should think you would open it, and pay yourself the money that you lent them.”
“No,” said Handie, “I have no right to do that. Do you think that when people owe us money we have a right to pay ourselves by taking their money wherever we can find it?”
“I don’t know,” said Rainbow.
“No, we have no right to do that,” said Handie; “we must wait till they pay us of their own accord. I have no right to take any of this money to pay myself. I have not even any right to open the wallet to see what is in it. I must keep it and return it to them just as it is.
“On second thoughts,” continued Handie, after pausing a moment, “I don’t think I have even a right to keep the wallet myself. I certainly have not, if the blacksmith claims it.”
“I don’t see what right the blacksmith has to it,” said Rainbow.
“Why, you see, the stage is in his custody, and all that pertains to it,” replied Handie. “Trigget has committed it to him, and he is bound to deliver every thing back just as he received it. Then the purse will come into Trigget’s custody, as it properly ought to do,
till the owner directs him what to do with it; for he, and not any of the passengers, is the proper person to take charge of any effects left in it. Still, if I give it to Mr. Blooms,” added Handie, after a moment’s pause, “I shall seal it up first.”
I am not certain whether Handie was right in this, or whether he was too particular. It is well always to be governed in our actions by sound general principles of justice and right, but it is not best to push our adherence to them in minute particulars too far. Rainbow thought decidedly that Handie was wrong, though he would not say so. He thought that the best way would be for Handie to put the wallet at once into his pocket and carry it to Southerton, and then to write a letter to the two girls to inform them that he had found it, and afterward to send it to them the first opportunity. But Handie determined not to do this, at least not to do it until he heard what the blacksmith had to say. If the blacksmith claimed the custody of the wallet, he thought he ought to give it up to him.
If any of the readers of this book are in doubt which was right in this case, I think it would be well for them to take some suitable occasion to state this case to one of their pa-
rents, or any other person older than themselves whom they are accustomed to consult, and ask them for their opinion.
Whatever the right may have been, Handie determined at once to report the case to the blacksmith, and hear what he would say.
So he walked to the door of the shop, followed by Rainbow.
“Well,” said the blacksmith, as he came to a pause in hammering a piece of iron, and ut it into the fire again to heat it anew, “well, have you found what you were looking for?”
“Yes,” said Handie, “I have found it.”
“I am glad of it,” said the blacksmith, blowing away all the time at the bellows.
“This is it,” said Handie, holding up the wallet.
“Ah!” said the blacksmith, “a little pocket-book. Much money in it?”
“I don’t know,” said Handie. “I have not opened it. I suppose about eight or ten dollars.”
“Why, isn’t it yours?” asked the blacksmith, somewhat surprised.
“No,” said Handie; “it belongs to two young women who were going to Massachusetts. They lost it, and it could not be found any where, and, as we were going by, pretty
near here, I thought we would come and make one more search in the stage, and we have found it. It had got slipped down between the end of the seat and the door.”
The blacksmith went on blowing the bellows, and seemed to be thinking very seriously of what he had heard. At length he asked,
“Were the young women traveling under your charge?”
“No,” said Handie, “not at all.”
“Then,” said the blacksmith, speaking slowly and hesitatingly, “then it seems to me there is some question which of us two ought to take charge of the thing.”
“I don’t think that there is any question at all,” said Handie. “The coach is in your custody, and every thing that was in it when Trigget left it here comes under your custody too. So it is for you to say what is to be done with this wallet, whether I shall take it and send it on to the girls, or whether you will take it and give it to Trigget when he comes for the coach, in order that he may take charge of it.”
The blacksmith paused in his reply, and went on blowing the bellows, looking earnestly at Handie all the time. At length he said,
“You are a stranger to me, but you look like an honest man, and, what is more than
that, you talk like one. Still, as you are a stranger to me, and I have no authority to deliver this property to any body but Trigget—it is very vexatious. I wish you had not found it at all.”
“Why so?” asked Handie.
“Because I don’t see what I am to do about it. If I let you take the wallet away, then Trigget will find fault, or, at least, he will have a right to, for my giving up valuable property from a stage which he left in my charge to a chance traveler coming along the road. Then, on the other hand, I don’t want the responsibility of keeping it. Some of the money may be missing out of it before it gets back into the owner’s hands, and then, like enough, if they know that it came first into my keeping, they will charge the loss upon me. Besides, if none of the money gets taken out, the girls will imagine that some of it has been. These girls never know how much money they have, and they always expect to find more in their purses than there is there. When they come to look into this wallet, they will be sure that some of the money has been taken out, and the first person that they will lay it to will be me. Such girls always have a special grudge against blacksmiths.”
As he said this, he looked first at Handie and then at Rainbow, with a grin illuminating his face, which seemed to show that the fact of his profession’s not being a favorite one among the ladies was not, after all, a matter of much concern with him.
“This is Mr. Blooms, I suppose,” said Handie.
“Yes, my name is Blooms,” replied the blacksmith.
“I will tell you what I propose to do, Mr. Blooms,” said Handie; “and I think, since hearing what you say, it will accommodate us all around. I propose that we wrap this wallet up in a paper and seal it, and that I write on the outside that it was sealed up by us all together, as soon as it was found, and without being opened. You can then keep it in that condition until Trigget comes for the stage, and you can then deliver it up to him, and he will take such measures as he thinks best to send it to the owners. In the mean time, I will write to them and tell them that the purse is found.”
“Very good,” said the blacksmith. “If you will seal it up, and write on the back of the paper that I did not touch it till after it was sealed, I have no objection to the charge of it. But as to taking charge of any woman’s mon-
ey without some such safeguard as that, it is what I won’t do.”
There was a small desk in a corner of the shop, near the end of a work-bench which stood before the window. It was a desk where the blacksmith kept his accounts. There was a long and narrow account-book lying upon it, and some sheets of paper, worn and soiled. There was an inkstand also and some old pens. Handie went to the desk with the wallet in his hand. The blacksmith followed him. Handie beckoned to Rainbow to come too.
“There is some better paper in the desk,” said the blacksmith.
So he opened the desk and found some sheets of paper there, which, from their form and appearance, and from the manner in which they were ruled, appeared to have been blank leaves from some old account-book. Handie took one of these sheets and folded the wallet up in it in the form of a letter. There was a little pile of wafers in a corner of the desk inside. Mr. Blooms showed them to Handie, and Handie sealed the envelope with one of them. He stamped the wafer, while it was yet damp, with a brass seal which he carried on his key-ring in his pocket. This left an impression of his initials, H. L., on the seal.
“I expect my ink has pretty well dried up,” said the blacksmith, “and the pens too.”
“I can mend the pens,” said Handie.
“Very well,” said the blacksmith; “and I will freshen up the ink in the mean time.”
So Handie took out a penknife from his pocket, and began to mend one of the pens. The knife was in excellent order, for Handie had a special fondness for a sharp edge, and both blades of his pocket-knife were always in a condition to cut like a razor. While he was mending the pen, the blacksmith took the inkstand to a trough of water which stood before the forge, and was used for keeping the different pairs of tongs cool, and for quenching hot iron, and there taking up some water with his hand, he let it drop, as well as he could, into the inkstand. Then, after shaking the inkstand about for some time, to assist the water in taking up and dissolving the dried sediment, he brought it back and set it down upon the desk again.
“It may be a little pale,” said he; “but, if you write it pretty plain, I guess you can make it out.”
Handie did, indeed, find the ink pretty pale, but he said it would answer very well, and he wrote upon the outside of the envelope as follows:
“Found in the stage by Handie Level and his colored boy Rainbow, and immediately sealed up, without opening, by said Level, in the presence of said Rainbow and of William Blooms, who takes charge of the same for the purpose of having it returned to the owners, Misses Ruth and Melinda Rosler.”
The blacksmith stood by looking on while Handie wrote.
“I see you know what you are about in handling a pen,” said he.
“And in making one too, I should say,” he added, “judging from the way that one writes. If it is not too much trouble for you, after you have finished the writing, I wish you would mend my other pen for me. I can’t keep any of my pens in good order. They dry up, and split, and curl, till they are good for nothing.”
“That is because you do not wipe them when you have done using them,” said Handie. “Take a piece of paper and wipe them dry, and put them away carefully every time you have done using them, and they will last a long time.”
“I am going to buy some steel pens,” said the blacksmith. “They say they work a great deal better, and they are not very dear if you
buy them by the dozen. I suppose a dozen would last me a long while.”
“Yes,” said Handie, “if you wipe them every time you use them, they will; but if you leave the ink in them, they rust and spoil very soon.”
Handie mended the other pens when he had finished his writing, and then, after the writing had dried, he delivered the package into the blacksmith’s hands, who said he would take good care of it, and give it to Trigget as soon as he came.
Soon after this, Handie and Rainbow bade the blacksmith good-by, and went away. Mr. Blooms told them that by going in at a certain red gate which he described to them at a little distance from the village, they would find a path leading across the fields and through the woods, which would bring them out into the Southerton road much farther on than the place where they had turned off from it, and that this would be much nearer for them. So they determined to go that way.
“It seems, then, after all,” said Rainbow, as he and Handie recommenced their walk, “that Burkill did not steal the purse.”
“True,” said Handie; “he was innocent of that charge.”
“And yet Trigget was very certain that he had stolen it,” said Rainbow.
“Yes,” replied Handie, “but he was mistaken. And it shows us that we ought to be pretty careful how we judge and condemn people, even when we know that their characters are bad. It is possible, we see, to entertain unjust suspicions even of a thief.”
Handie and Rainbow entered by the red gate, and walked along the path across the fields and through the woods, and at length came out into the main road again. It was now about one o’clock, and Handie said that it was time for them to have some dinner.
“I am going to see if I can’t contrive some way to get some dinner for us,” said he, “without paying any money for it.”
So he inquired of a man who was coming along the road, driving a team, how far it was to the next tavern.
“Why, the next tavern,” said the an, “is Dorling’s, and that is about a mile from here. But there is a better tavern on beyond, about two miles.”
“What sort of man is Dorling?” asked Handie. “Is he pretty good-natured?”
“Yes, he is too good-natured,” said the teamster, laughing; “he is slack.”
“Is he a pretty fair sort of a man?” asked Handie.
“Yes,” replied the teamster—“yes, he’s very fair. He is generally willing to do what is right,a s well as he can, but he’s very slack. If it was not for his daughter Margery, his house would run down entirely.”
“And his wife?” said Handie, in an inquiring tone.
“He has not any wife,” said the teamster; “his wife has been dead a number of years. There is nobody but himself and his daughter Margery, and a girl that they hire.”
“Very well,” said Handie. “I am much obliged to you.” So saying, he walked on.
“But how are you going to contrive to get a dinner without paying for it?” asked Rainbow.
“I did not say without paying for it[,]” said Handie. “I said without paying any money for it. I expect to pay for it, and to pay well too; but I want to pay in work instead of money.”
In about twenty minutes after this conversation the two travelers came in sight of Dorling’s. It was a small but pleasantly-situated house, at a place where four roads met. Every thing seemed very much out of order about it. The
sign was creaking dreadfully. The paint of the house, which had been originally red, was almost entirely worn off. There was a front door, which was shut; and there was also a side door, which entered in a corner where the kitchen was built on to the main body of the house. There was a porch at this door, with seats at the sides of it. This porch was pretty large, and, besides the fixed seats, there was a large arm-chair, which had been brought out and placed there, and a man, whom Handie supposed to be Mr. Dorling himself, was sitting in it smoking his pipe.
Handie and Rainbow walked up to the porch, and the man in the arm-chair nodded to them in a very good-natured way, but did not move.
“Mr. Dorling, I suppose,” said Handie.
“I suppose so too,” said the tavern-keeper.
“We are traveling to Southerton,” said Handie. “We were in the stage, but we got upset.”
“Upset, hey!” said Mr. Dorling, taking the pipe out of his mouth. “I thought I did not hear the wheels go by this morning. I commonly hear them go by.”
“We have undertaken to walk,” said Handie, “and we want some dinner. But I am a little short of money. I don’t say I am out of
money entirely, though I am a little short. But I am a carpenter by trade, and if you have got any carpenter jobs to do about the house, and would let me and my boy here do enough to pay for a plain dinner for us, it would suit my purpose exactly.”
Mr. Dorling did not at first make any reply. He looked Handie in the face a moment steadily, and then took a full survey of his person from head to foot. After that he looked at Rainbow in the same way.
Handie perceived a slight movement behind a blind of one of the windows near, and he thought he saw, as he glanced his eyes that way, indications that somebody was there peeping out.
“The way I would propose to arrange the business is this,” said Handie. “That you first should give us a plain dinner of cold meat, and bread and cheese, and then let us work for you a couple of hours about the house, wherever there is any thing to do. At the end of that time you can see what we have done, and then you can allow for it what you please toward the dinner, and I will pay the balance in money. I will leave it wholly to you to say what the work is worth.”
“That’s a fair offer,” said Mr. Dorling; “but
then I don’t know that I have any work to do.”
“Are there not any locks or latches out of order?” asked Handie; “or doors that won’t shut, or—”
When Handie had got so far, the person who had been peeping out at the window made her appearance in the entry, coming out of the room where she had been sitting. It was a nice, tidy- looking young woman, with a round face and gentle-looking eyes. Handie perceived at once that it must be Margery. She came forward and stood in the doorway listening to the conversation.
“Or leaks in the roof?” continued Handie.
“Yes, father,” interrupted Margery, “there is a leak in the roof over my chamber, and when it rains hard the water comes down all among my clothes.”
“Could you mend a leak in a roof?” asked Dorling.
“Yes, sir,” said Handie, “perfectly.”
“But I have not got any ladder,” said Mr. Dorling.
“Oh, I can get up easily enough without any ladder,” said Handie.
“And then I have not got any tools,” continued Mr. Dorling, “and you have not brought
any with you in that boy’s bundle, I suppose,” he added, laughing.
“I have no doubt I can find tools enough about your premises,” said Handie.
“You may find some old tools, perhaps, lying about,” rejoined Mr. Dorling, “but there will be nothing fit to use. You will find them all out of order—handles loose, points broken off, and all the edges notched and dull.”
“Then that will be one thing that we shall have to do,” said Handie, “to put your tools all in order. Have you got a grindstone?”
“Yes,” said Mr. Dorling, “there is an old one out there somewhere, but it wabbles so you can’t use it.”
“I can key it up,” said Handie.
Margery had been watching Handie all this time, and listening attentively to the conversation, and, whether it was that she liked the proposals that he made, or was pleased with his handsome countenance and his frank and manly bearing, she now interposed, saying,
“Father, there are a great many things to be done; and, at any rate, you might invite the gentleman in.”
“Ah! yes,” said Mr. Dorling, “walk in, walk in. Margery will give you some dinner, and then we will settle it somehow or other.”
p. 133 blank
RECEPTION AT DORLING’S.
So Handie and Rainbow went into the house, and Margery conducted them to a pleasant little room which opened form the kitchen, and which looked out upon a sunny back yard, with sheds and barns about it, and wood-piles, and carts, and old wheels, and piles of boards and posts, and other such things lying confusedly about in every direction.
Handie took his seat in a comfortable arm-chair near the window, while Rainbow unfastened his bundle and put it on a table, and then went out through an open door which led into the yard, and sat down there, upon a great flat stone step, in the sun.
“Is not the sun too warm for you there?” said Handie, looking out at the window.
“No,” said Rainbow, “the sun is never too warm for me. The brighter he shines the better I like him.”
After resting a few minutes in his seat, Handie rose, and said to Rainbow that he believed he would go out and see how the grindstone looked.
“You had better sit still and rest yourself until dinner is ready,” said he.
But Rainbow preferred to go too.
Handie had to pass through the kitchen on his way out to the yard. He found Margery at work preparing the dinner. There was a large cooking-stove there, where another girl, who had been previously at work in the room, was now replenishing the fire. Margery was bringing out a pie and a plate of dough-nuts from a closet, and putting them into a sort of oven in the cooking-stove when Handie passed through.
“You must not get too much of a dinner for us, Miss Margery,” said Handie.
“No, I won’t get too much,” said Margery. “But how did you know what my name was?”
“Oh, I heard of you along the road,” said Handie.
“Heard of me!” said Margery, with much surprise; “how could you have heard of me?”
“You need not be frightened,” said Handie. “I did not hear any thing but good of you. But you must not take much trouble about the dinner. Some cold meat and bread and cheese will be enough for us.”
“I won’t get too much for you,” said Margery. “But I want to get enough to make it sure that you will stop that leak well over my closet.”
“I will stop it well, you may depend,” said Handie. So saying, he went out into the yard, followed by Rainbow.
“The grindstone,” said Handie, “must be in some of these sheds.”
So he led the way into one of the sheds. In the first one that he came to he found an axe sticking in a log of wood. He took it up and found that it was tolerably sharp.
“Ah!” said he, with an exclamation of joy, “here is something like an edge on this axe. That will help us prodigiously. You can do a great deal in a short time, no matter what condition your tools are in, if you only have an edge on any one of them to begin with.”
Taking the axe in his hand, Handie went on, and soon he found the grindstone. The keying of it in the centre had got displaced, and in attempting to turn it, Rainbow found that it wabbled so much, as Mr. Dorling had said, that it would be impossible to do any thing with it in that condition. In fact, one of the sides of the stone rubbed against the frame so as to make it almost impossible to turn it at all.
“We can key this stone up before dinner,” said Handie.
So saying, he went back to the wood-pile, and there, selecting a proper block of wood, he split it up into small pieces, and then made wedges of them. He then came back to the place where the grindstone was. Rainbow held the stone while Handie knocked out the old wedges and put in the new ones. In a few minutes the stone was brought up square into its proper position, and now it could have been turned very easily had it not been that the crank was broken. One part of the crank was lying on the floor under the grindstone; but the handle, which was a very essential part, was gone entirely.
Handie immediately went to work to make a new handle from a piece which he split out from a stick of wood for the purpose. He
shaped it round by hewing it carefully with the axe. He then put the parts of the crank together, and pinned the joints in a very workmanlike manner.
“When I get a chisel sharpened,” said Handie, “I will smooth that handle more, but in the mean time we can grind with it very well.”
The room in which the grindstone was seemed to have been a sort of shop in former times, for there was a bench on one side of it, near a window, and upon it, and also on some shelves near it, were a number of broken tools of various sorts. There was a hammer without any handle, and a chisel with a notch in the edge, and a plane with a plane-iron sticking in it which was too big to go in home, it having originally belonged to another plane. There was also a draw-shave, very dull.
“I am glad to see this draw-shave,” said Handie; “it will help me very much about making the shingles. Now if I could only find a shaving-horse.”
“There is something out here in this next room,” said Rainbow—“a curious sort of a thing, that looks as if it might be some kind of a horse.”
Handie went out to see.
“Ah! yes,” said he, “this is a shaving-horse. This is just what I want.”
The shaving-horse was indeed a curious-looking thing. It was a sort of bench standing on four legs. At one end was a seat, where the workman was to sit astride, as upon a horse. At the other end was a curious apparatus, worked by a lever down near the floor below, by which the end of the piece of wood to be shaved was held with a very strong gripe in a short of jaw, which was closed when the workman pressed his foot upon the lever, and opened again to release the wood when he lifted up his foot. The shaving-horse was in pretty good order.
“The first thing is now,” said Handie, “to grind the shave. Go in the house and ask Margery to give you a pitcher of water, and perhaps we can grind it before dinner.”
So Rainbow went into the house, and presently returned with a pitcher of water, and with a message from Margery saying that dinner was almost ready, and advising Handie not to begin his work till after dinner.
“We will begin, at any rate,” said Handie[,] “for we have no time to lose.”
“And she is going to ring a bell when she is ready for us,” said Rainbow.
“Very good,” said Handie.
While Rainbow had been gone to the house, Handie had selected from among the old broken tools that were lying about those that he thought would be most essential to his purpose, and which could be most easily put in order. The draw-shave was one, the plane-iron was another, and then there was a chisel and a hatchet, and some other smaller ones. Rainbow took his place at the crank of the grindstone, and Handie held the tools. Handie wisely concluded not to attempt to grind the tools thoroughly, but only to get a sharp edge somewhere upon each, wherever he could get it most easily. In this way he got the draw-shave and the hatchet, and also a chisel, all in tolerable working order before the bell rang to call them in. He also found a screw-driver, which did not require any grinding.
When they heard the bell they went in, and found a very nice table set for them in the little back room. There was a plate full of large thick slices of cold meat upon it, together with some bread and cheese, and a pitcher of spruce beer. When they had taken their seats, Margery brought in a large plate filled with apple-sauce, and set it down before them.
“You can begin,” said she, “upon the meat
and the beer, and I will bring the coffee presently.”
“But you need not have troubled yourself to make coffee for us,” said Handie.
“Oh, it is no trouble,” said Margery. “Besides, I was selfish in it.”
“Selfish,” repeated Handie; “how is that?”
“Why, the door that leads into the sitting-room won’t shut, and I thought, if I got you a good dinner, perhaps you would mend that too, as well as the roof. It troubles us very much, especially in the winter.”
“I will look at it after dinner,” said Handie. “Are there any other doors in the house that won’t shut?”
“Yes,” said Margery, “there are one or two others, but we can get along with them pretty well. It is only the sitting-room door which troubles us much; and one of the sitting-room windows won’t open.”
“Why won’t it open?” asked Handie.
“I don’t know,” said Margery. “It has got stuck somehow or other. It has not been opened for a good many years.”
So saying, Margery went out into the kitchen, and presently returned with a waiter containing cups and a coffee-pot, together with a cream-pitcher full of cream, and a sugar-bowl
full of sugar. She poured out two full cups of coffee, and passed them, one to Handie and the other to Rainbow, and then went away again.
“That’s a nice girl,” said Handie.
“Yes,” said Rainbow; “and the things she gives us are very nice too.”
The next time that Margery came in she brought in a hot pie, and a place of very nice-looking dough-nuts. These she put upon the side-table. After a while, when Handie and Rainbow had eaten as much as they wished of the meat and of the bread and cheese, Margery took their plates away, and brought them fresh plates for the dough-nuts and the pie. She also filled up their cups with coffee again.
In a word, the two workmen had a most sumptuous dinner, and, as their long walk had given them a good appetite, they enjoyed it very much indeed. Handie expressed his satisfaction with it in very strong terms, and told Margery that if she liked his work half as well as he liked her dinner, he should be extremely pleased.
Making the Repairs.
“And now, Miss Margery,” said Handie, as he and Rainbow rose from the table, “please show me the sitting-room door; and, Rainbow, you may go out and bring me in the chisel that we sharpened, and also the screw-driver.”
Handie followed Margery into the sitting-room, and she showed him the door. Now the first thing to be done, when there is any thing the matter with a door, is to ascertain exactly what the difficulty is, and, in order to do this, the carpenter has to make a careful examination of it, much in the same manner as a physician would examine a patient to find out exactly what the disease is before he gives the prescription. Handie found that the reason why the door would not shut was that, in coming into its place, the corner of it next the floor rubbed hard upon the threshold. This showed that, from the heaving effect of the frost, or from some other such cause, the threshold had
been forced up against the door, or else that the door had sagged, and thus settled down against the threshold.
So Handie looked up at the top of the door, and there he found that over the door, near the corner farthest from the hinges, there was quite a wide crack. The crack was wide at the corner, but it diminished gradually till it came to a point at the side toward the hinges. This showed that the cause of the rubbing below was that the door had sagged.
“Yes,” said Handie, after making these observations, “I see what the difficulty is, and I will try what I can do. Now show me the window.”
Just then Rainbow came in with the chisel and the screw- driver. Handie went to the window, and found, on examination, that it never had been opened since it was painted the last time, and that it was the paint which held the sash down. Handie took the chisel from Rainbow’s hands, and carefully passed it down from the top of the sash to the bottom, at the line of junction between the sash and the frame, so as to divide the film of paint. He then went round outside, and, crowding the edge of the chisel under the sash, he pried it up. It moved very hard at first, but it came up. Handie
then came inside, and, taking hold of the sash there, he shoved it up and down four or five times until it went easy.
Margery stood by all the time looking on, her eyes beaming with delight.
“Try and see if you can open it,” said Handie.
So Margery tried, and found that she could open and shut it very easily. She then pushed it up high, and brought a chair, and sat down by it, and looked out, and seemed extremely pleased.
“If you don’t do any thing more,” said Margery, “you will have paid for your dinner over and over just by opening this window.”
Handie then picked up a small piece of wood which he found in the yard, and, sitting down upon a log, he shaved out with a chisel a thin square piece like a narrow and thin ruler. He then went to the door, and opening it wide, he asked Rainbow to hold it open for him. While the door was held in this position, Handie, with the screw-driver, drew out the screws of the lower hinge a little way from the door-post, and then slipped the end of his ruler in behind the hinge, between two of the screws. He then cut the wood at the edge of the hinge, and left the piece in behind it. He then put in other lengths
in the same way, both between the screws and above and below them, so as to sustain the hinge in every part, and prevent its going back quite into its place when the screws should be tightened again. The slips of wood were, however, very thin, so that the change in the position of the hinge which they effected was very small.
It proved to be sufficient, however; for when Handie had screwed back the screws again as tight as he could, it was found that the door would shut perfectly. The thin strips of wood behind the hinge had the effect to force out the lower and inner corner of the door a little from the door-post, and this had the effect to raise the outer corner, so as to prevent it from rubbing against the threshold when it was shut. The door could now be opened and shut very easily, and the latch came into the catch as perfectly as any latch could. Margery was even more delighted with the improvement in the door than she had been in that of the window.
Handie trimmed off the ends of the slips of wood so as to make a neat finish, and then every thing looked snug and tight, and the next time that the room was painted, he said, all marks of the change he had made would disappear.
Handie said that he would take the roof next.
“And I shall have to go into your room to see where the place is,” said he, “unless you can show me from the roof outside.”
“No,” replied Margery, “I don’t know any thing about where it comes on the outside, but Ann will go up with you and show you the closet.”
So Ann—who was the other girl that Handie had seen in the kitchen, or rather the woman, for she was not by any means young—led the way up stairs. Handie and Rainbow followed. The room which Ann showed them was a very pretty one, although it was small, and it was only on one side of it that one could stand up straight, on account of the sloping of the ceiling on the other side. At one end of the high part was a window with neat white curtains before it, and a honeysuckle twining around it outside. Before the window was a table, with a pin-cushion upon it, and also some books. There was a looking-glass on the wall by the side of the window. There were also two or three chairs, a bureau, a chest, and a bed, which last was very neatly made up, and had a pretty white curtain over it.
Handie had only a hasty glance at these things as he followed Ann toward the closet.
“What a nice, pleasant-looking room!” said Handie. “Miss Margery keeps it in very excellent order.”
“Yes,” said Ann, “Miss Margery is very particular.”
Ann opened the closet door and Handie looked in. There were rows of hooks for hanging clothes upon along two sides of it, but there were no clothes upon them except in one corner, where a cloak was hanging, and over it, on a shelf, a bonnet.
“Miss Margery can not hang any thing here except in pleasant weather,” said Ann. “Whenever it looks as if it was going to rain she has to take them down and put them in her chest.”
Handie could see very plainly that the roof leaked, for the plaster on two sides of the closet was discolored, being stained by the water which had come in from the rain.
Handie next went to the window. He moved the table away carefully, and then climbed up upon the window-sill, with his head out of the window. He sustained himself in this position by clinging to the blind on the outside. While standing on the sill in this manner his head came above the roof, so as to enable him to see where and what the damage was. The leak was occasioned, he found, by two or three of
the shingles having got loose from the influence of the wind and weather. The rest of the roof, though somewhat old, seemed to be in pretty good order.
Having made these observations, Handie went down with Rainbow to the yard again, and he immediately went to work to make his shingles. Rainbow stood by all the time watching his operations, and waiting upon him by handing him tools, or doing any thing else that he required. Handie made his shingles out of thin boards which he found in the yard. He sawed off first a piece of the proper length by means of a wood-saw which was hanging up in the shed, and then proceeded to shape it on the shaving-horse with the draw-shave. While Handie was shaping the first piece, Rainbow sawed out the second, and thus the work went rapidly on. Handie knew exactly what to do, and so he did not have to lose any time in stopping to think, but proceeded with great promptness and dispatch, though without any appearance of hurrying, and Rainbow obeyed implicitly, without asking any questions or tendering any advice. In a very short time five very good shingles were made.
“I don’t see any nails about here,” said Handie; “but I can use the old nails which
I have no doubt I shall find sticking in the roof.”
When Handie had finished the last shingle, he pointed to a long and pretty stiff board which lay in the middle of a heap of what Mr. Dorling called fence-stuff in a corner of the yard, and directed Rainbow to take off the upper boards one by one, so as to get the one which he had selected free.
“And as soon as you get it out,” said he, “carry it and set it up carefully against the house, right by the side of that window.”
While rainbow was carrying the board, Handie went to the bench, and with the chisel which he had sharpened he fitted a handle to the hammer, and fastened it in with a wedge. Then, taking his shingles in one hand, and the chisel and the hammer in the other, he went into the house. Rainbow had no idea where he was going or what he was going to do; but, as his business was merely to obey orders, he remained quietly by his board, which he had by this time carried and placed against the house by the window. It need scarcely be said that this window was the one which opened out of Margery’s room.
In a few minutes Handie appeared at the window. He looked out and saw Rainbow and the board, but he did not say any thing.
“I suppose he is going to use this board in some way or other to help him get up on the top of the house,” said Rainbow to himself. “But how he is going to do it I can’t tell. However, I will not ask any questions. All that I have got to do is to wait for orders, and then obey them.”
Handie, after working a few minutes with his chisel at one side of the window, took the sashes out,a nd laid them away somewhere in the chamber. He then came to the window again.
“Now, Rainbow,” said he, “hand me the end of the board.”
So Rainbow moved the board toward the window until Handie could reach the upper end of it. Handie took hold of the end, and guided it into the window.
“Now lift,” said Handie.
Rainbow lifted, and Handie took the end of the board in, lifting at the same time and drawing it in. Then, pressing hard upon the part which was within the chamber, the other end was raised in the air out of Rainbow’s reach.
“Now, Rainbow, come up here,” said Handie.
So Rainbow ran round into the house, and went up stairs into the chamber.
He found, when he arrived there, that Handie had drawn the board almost wholly into
the room. There was a small portion of it, about two feet in length, still projecting out of the window. The other end of the board was resting upon a chair near the middle of the chamber.
“Now, Rainbow,” said Handie, “I want you to sit on the end of this board here, and keep it down, while I get out upon the other end, which is out of the window, and see if I can’t climb up upon the roof from it.”
“Why, Mr. Level!” exclaimed Rainbow, “I am afraid you will fall. You see you are heavier than I am, and so your end of the board will go down.”
“Oh no,” said Handie. “I am heavier, it is true, but your end of the board is very long, and mine is very short. It makes a short of lever. You will pry me up. You will have a power of me of about eight to one.”
While Handie was talking in this way to Rainbow, who in the mean time had taken his seat on the board where it rested on the chair, he was gathering up the shingles and the tools, and preparing to go out of the window.
“You see,” he added, as he stepped up upon the board near the window, “the board is about ten feet long. Eight feet of the length is in the room, and only about two feet out.
But I shall not stp out to the end of it. I shall not step more than one foot from the window, so that I shall have one foot and you eight, which will give you an advantage of eight to one.”
“Is that the way they calculate it?” asked Rainbow.
“Yes,” said Handie; “and you see it is a very simple calculation.”
By this time Handie was ready to step out. He turned round as he went out, and steadied himself by the blinds, and then, by means of them, he contrived, in some way or other, to clamber up upon the roof.
When Rainbow heard the sounds produced by Handie’s movements on the roof over his head, he felt greatly relieved, and he expressed his satisfaction by a broad smile, which showed his white teeth to great advantage.
“He’s got up,” said he to himself; “but there’s one thing—he could not have got up without me here to help him.”
Then he smiled again, with great inward satisfaction.
Being in this happy frame of mind, and sitting there quietly, with nothing to do until Handie should come down, he began to amuse himself by looking about the room, and presently
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he found that, by leaning back over his chair and twisting his neck round pretty well, he could see himself in Margery’s glass, which hung by the side of the window; and, as the light from the window fell strongly upon him, the reflection of his face in the glass was quite brilliant and striking. Rainbow was very much pleased with the figure that he made, and he remembered what Mr. Cameron, the daguerreotypist, had said when by accident his face was introduced into little Solomon’s daguerreotype, as related in the volume entitled Handie, namely, that his face being there made it a prettier picture. He was convinced more than ever that that compliment was deserved, and, after looking at himself for some moments in the glass, he uttered a peculiar sort of click with his tongue, expressive of contentment and happiness, and said to himself,
“I am rather a handsome fellow, after all.”
We all have our faults, and Rainbow’s fault was that he was sometimes inclined to be a little vain.
Handie finished mending the roof in a very short time, and finally came down in the same way that he had gone up. He then sent Rainbow down into the yard, and passed the board out to him through the window, and directed him to take it back to the pile where he had got it.
After this, Handie and Rainbow went on with their work very prosperously and successfully for more than an hour. They eased doors, and altered locks and latches, and keyed up loose boards in floors and steps, and replaced shelves that had fallen down, and made many other repairs and adjustments of the like kind. Handie was careful to select from among the things requiring to be done such as could be done most easily, and were also most essential to the immediate comfort of the family.
One of the things that pleased Mr. Dorling the most was a change which Handie made in one of the great barn doors, which had sagged
in such a manner that, when it was brought to, it had to be lifted by main force, in order to make the lower edge of it go in over the threshold. It was necessary to do this every night; for, without it, the padlock by which the door was fastened could not be put on. One man alone was not strong enough to do it, the door was so stiff and heavy; and so the hostler, every night when he was ready to lock up the barn, was obliged to call Mr. Dorling himself to come and help him shut the door.
Handie, by a simple alteration in the position of the upper hinge, made the door work so well that a small boy could shut it. Mr. Dorling was as much pleased with this improvement as Margery was with the stopping of the leak in the roof over her closet.
At length, about three o’clock, Handie told Rainbow that it was time for them to leave off work and prepare to resume their journey.
“Do you think we have done enough to pay for our dinner?” asked Rainbow.
“No,” said Handie, “probably not enough to pay for it entirely, but we can pay a part in money, and if we stay longer it may make us too late to-night in arriving at Southerton. Were it not for that, I should like to stay here all the afternoon. I am just beginning to get
interested in these jobs. But we had better go now, and I will pay whatever Mr. Dorling says in money.”
So he and Rainbow went into the shop, and laid the tools which they had put in order and sharpened upon the bench there, and then Handie sent Rainbow to ask Mr. Dorling to come out and see what they had done.
Mr. Dorling soon appeared in obedience to this summons. He came sauntering along in a very easy and contented manner, with his hands in his pockets and his pipe in his mouth.
Handie pointed first to the grindstone, and showed Mr. Dorling that now it would turn steady and true. Then he showed the tools on the bench.
“They are not really in good order yet,” said he, “but I have done something to them.”
Then, taking Mr. Dorling out into the yard, he pointed up to the roof of the house, where was plainly to be seen the patch of new shingles upon the roof.
“There is where I mended the shingling,” said he; “but i know you can not tell whether the leak is stopped until the next rain.”
“It looks like a good job, at any rate,” said Mr. Dorling.
Handie then went on and showed Mr. Door-
ling all the other doors and latches that he had adjusted, the floor-boards and step-boards that he had made secure, and all the rest. The last thing was the windlass of the well, the crank of which had become so loose from long use and neglect that it was almost impossible to draw water with it. Handie had refitted the parts to each other, and wedged and keyed them up in such a manner that now the windlass could be turned very easily.
“That is what we have done,” said Handie, in conclusion, “and I have not time to do any more. If I stay here any longer it may make me too late in getting in to Southerton. So now, if you will tell me what the balance is for our dinner, we will settle it.”
“Very well,” said Mr. Dorling, “I will.”
So saying, Mr. Dorling turned round and looked in through the kitchen window, which was near the well, and called to Margery.
“Margery,” said he, “what sort of a dinner did you get for these young men? About what was it worth?”
“About twenty cents apiece,” said Margery.
“Twenty cents apiece,” repeated Mr. Dorling, “and twice twenty is forty.” Then, after pausing a moment, as if making a calculation in his own mind, he looked up, and added aloud,
“Well, I think the balance is about thirty-five cents.”
“Thirty-five cents!” repeated Handie. He was a little surprised to hear this answer, for it seemed to him that a greater allowance than five cents ought to be made for all the work that they had done.
“And if you will come round to the bar, we’ll settle,” added Mr. Dorling.
So Mr. Dorling went round the house by a little path which led to the front side, and Handie and Rainbow followed.
“I think he ought to have allowed more for our work,” said Rainbow.
“I think so too,” said Handie.
“I would tell him so,” said Rainbow.
“No,” said Handie. “If I were to tell him so and complain of his decision, I should break my word.”
“How?” asked Rainbow.
“Why, I agreed at the beginning that I would work two hours, and that then, after he had seen what I had done, he should decide himself what it was worth, and that i would abide by his decision and pay the balance. That was my agreement. Perhaps it was foolish for me to make such a bargain. It would have been foolish if it had been in an import-
ant case. I did it because I was told that he was a fair man, and would do what was right. At any rate, that was the agreement, and I am going to carry it out honorably. If he had not allowed but one cent, I would not have said a word to him against it, but would have paid the thirty-nine cents at once, as I agreed that I would do. When I break my word, or when I show any discontent or hanging back about keeping my word, I shall want to have a chance to gain more than thirty-nine cents by it.”
Handie had taken his wallet from his pocket as he walked along, and had been counting out the thirty-five cents, and now, with the money in his hand, he entered the bar. He found Mr. Dorling counting out money too. He was doing it at a little counter there, where he kept his desk and accounts.
“The way I reckon it is this,” said Mr. Dorl[i]ng. “I calculate that if I had sent for a carpenter to come and do all these little jobs for me, it would have taken him all of half a day. It is not every carpenter that knows how to turn off work as you do. It would have taken him certainly, including his coming and going, half a day, and he would have charged me seventy-five cents. It is worth to me a great deal more than that, but I am not obliged to allow
you any more than it would have cost me to have got it done in some other way. I would not take three times seventy-five cents and have every thing back as it was before. Still, I shall only allow you seventy-five cents. The rest is my advantage and profit. Taking forty cents from seventy-five leaves thirty-five, and there is your money.”
Handie took the money, looking, however, somewhat surprised. “I misunderstood you,” said he; “I thought you meant that the balance was the other way.”
“The other way!” repeated Mr. Dorling. “And did you think that I was only going to allow five cents for the work?”
Mr. Dorling laughed aloud at this supposition.
“You were at liberty to allow for it just what you pleased,” said Handie; “that was the bargain.”
“And you thought that I was going to take advantage of that to get this work out of you for five cents!” he replied, laughing again. “You must have thought that I was a tight one. No. It is not me to do such a thing as that. My name’s Dorling.”
Just at this moment Margery’s voice was heard from the kitchen calling her father.
“Father!” said she, “father! Come here a minute, please; quick!”
“Ay!” said Mr. Dorling, responding to his daughter. Then speaking again to Handie, and appearing to be in no haste to obey his daughter’s summons, he added, “I had some doubt whether I should not call the work a dollar, but, on the whole, I concluded that seventy-five cents would be about fair.”
“Yes; but, Mr. Dorling,” said Handie, “Miss Margery seems to want you to go there quick. We will wait here till you come back. Something may be the matter.”
“Oh no,” said Mr. Dorling, “nothing is the matter. She means pretty soon. She knows that if she were not to say quick I should not come for half an hour.”
Mr. Dorling looked very good-natured as he said this, but he went away, leaving Handie and Rainbow in the bar. Presently he came back, and said that Margery had proposed a new plan.
“Her plan is,” said he, “that you stay here all the afternoon, and then that I should send you to Southerton this evening in the wagon. There is a boy that can drive you there and bring back the wagon, but he can not go till about seven o’clock. But it is not more than
ten or twelve miles, and he will take you there in two hours; so that, by starting at seven, you will get in at nine or ten o’clock, and that will not be very late for such a bright summer’s evening as we are going to have to-night.”
Handie was certainly pleased that Margery should have made this proposal, but he was for a moment somewhat perplexed to know what it would be best for him to do in regard to accepting it.
“Margery’s idea is this,” continued Mr. Dorling: “she thinks you might just as well work here this afternoon as spend the time in traveling. Then she will give you a supper; and if I send you in the wagon to Southerton in the evening, you will be just as well off when you go to bed to-night as if you had gone on yourselves, only you will get to bed rather later. But then, as an offset to that, you will have no supper to pay for at Southerton. So, on the whole, it will be just as well for you, and she will get some more of her jobs done.”
Rainbow stood by listening to these proposals with great interest. He most earnestly hoped that Handie would accept them, for he liked much better the idea of waiting upon Handie at his work where they were, than that of traveling wearily along the road for ten
miles more. Besides, he had a much more favorable idea of the supper which Margery would probably give them than of any that they would be likely to get in Southerton.
To his great joy, Handie finally concluded to accept Mr. Dorling’s offer, and so they went out to their shop again in order to resume their work.
The Pond Lilies.
The name of the boy who was to take Handie and Rainbow to Southerton in the evening was Tolie—at least that was what they always called him. He was a small boy—that is, small of his age, but lively and smart. About four o’clock in the afternoon, while Handie and Rainbow were at work re-nailing some loose boards on the back side of the barn, Tolie came round to see what they were doing.
He stood looking on for some minutes in silence while Rainbow held the boards in their places and Handie nailed them.
At length, when Rainbow was released for a moment, and seemed temporarily at leisure, Tolie, who was standing near him, ventured to introduce himself by saying,
“My name is Tolie.”
“Ah!” said Rainbow.
“Yes,” said Tolie. “And what is your name?”
“I don’t exactly know whether I have got
any real name,” said Rainbow; “but they always call me Rainbow.”
“Are you the folks that are going to Southerton this evening?” asked Tolie.
“Yes,” replied Rainbow.
“I’m the boy that’s going to drive you,” said Tolie.
“Ah!” said Handie, pausing, and looking up from his work, “you are going to drive us, then? Have you got a good horse?”
“Yes,” said Tolie, “it is a very good horse. I can be ready by half past seven.”
“Can’t you be ready before?” asked Handie. “Half past seven is rather late to set out on a journey of ten or twelve miles.”
“I can’t go till after I come back from the pasture,” replied the boy. “I set out to go to the pasture at six, and I commonly get back about seven. You se, it takes me some time to find the cows.”
“Is it far to the pasture?” asked Rainbow.
“It is about a mile,” said Tolie; “and so I can’t get back much before seven. But if you would go with me, perhaps we could find the cows sooner.”
“Very well,” said Rainbow, “I will go with you—that is, if Mr. Level is willing, and if we get through our work soon enough.”
Handie said that he was perfectly willing; and he added, moreover, that they should get through their work at half past five. Margery had told him that their supper would be ready at that time, and that they must not do any work after supper; so it was all arranged that Tolie was to come at six and call for Rainbow to go with him to the pasture.
Handie and Rainbow went on with their work until half past five, when the bell rang to call them in. They found an excellent supper ready for them, better, if possible, than the dinner. It consisted of a plate of sausages very nicely fried, and some fried potatoes. Afterward coffee, with hot rolls and butter, and some apple-sauce. Just as Rainbow had finished his supper, he saw through the window that Tolie was standing outside waiting for him. He had a little basket in his hand.
Rainbow put on his cap and went out to meet him.
“What are you going to do with your basket, Tolie?” said he. “It is too early in the year for any berries to be ripe.”
“Why, you see, there is a pond out there,” replied Tolie, “and we go by the shores of it in going to the pasture, and I thought perhaps you would help me get some pond lilies.”
It was, in fact, the hope that a tall and strong boy like Rainbow might get him some pond lilies that originally made Tolie so much interested in asking Rainbow to go with him to bring the cows.
“Ah! yes,” said Rainbow, “that I can do very easily, only it will take a little time. Is there a boat on the pond?”
“No,” said Tolie, shaking his head in a melancholy manner.
“A raft?” asked Rainbow.
“No,” said Tolie, speaking still more despondingly.
“Never mind,” said Rainbow, “I’ll get them somehow or other. I want some lilies myself to send back home.”
So the two boys set out together to go to the pasture. They went through a gate beyond the barn, and then entered a long green lane, which led away from the main road in a descending direction.
“You can’t send pond lilies so far,” said Tolie, alluding to what Rainbow had said in respect to sending them home. “They will all wilt and dry up.”
“Can’t I contrive some way to keep them fresh?” asked Rainbow.
“No,” said Tolie; “for if you put them in
water, the water will be all slopped out by the jolting of the stage long before they get to the end of the journey.”
“I might take up roots and all,” suggested Rainbow.
“You can’t get the roots,” said Tolie; “they are all down deep in the mud, at the bottom of the pond. Besides, if you should get the roots you could not send them.”
“Handie can contrive some way—I mean Mr. Level,” said Rainbow. “He is the greatest hand at contriving that ever you knew. I mean to get some roots, and ask him to think of some way of sending them.”
“I don’t believe you can do it,” said Tolie.
The boys went on talking to one another in this way until they came to the shores of the pond. The lane or road—for it was a sort of cart-road leading off to the pastures and woods—took a turn here, and for a short distance followed the margin of the water.
There was an open space and a little sandy beach opposite to the road, but on the right was a dark wood which came down close to the pond—so close, in fact, that the branches of the trees overhung the water, and made a very cool and shady place. The water all along the margin of the pond was covered with lily-pads,
and here and there the buds of the lilies, and several open flowers, were peeping up among them.
Rainbow looked at the place with great pleasure depicted in his countenance, and then, turning to Tolie, he said,
“Let’s go directly on and get the cows; business first and play afterward. If we have good luck in finding the cows, we will stop here and get some of the lilies.”
So the boys walked rapidly on toward the pasture, which was about a quarter of a mile beyond the pond. They had very good luck in finding the cows, and, without losing a moment’s time, they drove them out, and followed them along the road till they got back to the pond again.
“Now,” said Tolie, “we’ll let them go along the road by themselves. They can’t get out any where, for the gate is shut, and we’ll go on after them when we have got our lilies.
“And the way we get the lilies,” said Tolie, “is to go into the woods and cut a long pole, and tie a string on at the end of it like a fishing-line. Then we will whip the loop of the string over the buds, and so pull them in.”
“But I can’t get any roots in that way,” said Rainbow. “I am bound to get some roots.”
“Then what are you going to do?” asked Tolie.
“I am going to undress myself and wade out,” said Rainbow.
So saying, Rainbow immediately took off his cap and jacket, and threw them down upon the grass.
“But, Rainbow,” said Tolie, in a tone of earnest remonstrance, “you can’t wade out there in such a place as that among all the roots and old logs. Besides, the mud is full of snakes.”
“I don’t care any thing for the snakes,” said Rainbow.
“And bloodsuckers,” added Tolie.
“Nor for the bloodsuckers either,” said Rainbow. “I am bound to take up some of those lilies by the roots, to send to Mary and Minnie James.”
And, before Tolie had time to remonstrate any farther, Rainbow was entirely undressed, and was beginning to wade out into the water.
He made directly for the thickest bed of lilies, extending his arms before him as he waded on, while the water became deeper and deeper. At length he began to enter among the lily pads, and he at once began to gather buds and flowers.
“These are for you, Tolie,” said he. “I am going to get mine, with the roots, afterward.”
After he had gathered about a dozen buds and flowers, pulling them all off as low as he could, so as to have with each of them a long stem, he came to the shore again and gave them to Tolie. Tolie received them with the greatest delight. He had never had such an abundant supply before.
“Don’t put them in your basket till I get the roots,” said Rainbow. “I want to put the roots in at the bottom.”
Rainbow then waded again out into the water. He now, however, looked for lilies growing along the margin of the bed of pads, where the water was not quite so deep, and the plants were not so much matted together. Here he found two or three plants which seemed to be, in some degree, detached from the rest. He selected one of these, and, stooping down into the water until his head was entirely under, he dug away with his hands in the mud until he got the root up. He then raised up his head again, and, lifting the root carefully out of the water—retaining as much of the mud about it as he could with his two hands—he walked back toward the shore.
Tolie brought his basket to the margin of
the water, and set it down on the sand, and Rainbow deposited the root in it very carefully, leaving the leaves and the buds outside, with the long stems lying across the edge.
“There’s one for Mary,” said he; “now one for Minnie.”
So he went out into the pond again, and soon returned, bringing back a root, with a pretty bud growing form it, for Minnie.
He placed this second root in the basket by the side of the other, and then coiled the stems, with the leaves and the buds attached to them, in above them. The basket was filled quite full.
“And now there is no place for yours, Tolie,” said Rainbow.
“Never mind,” said Tolie. “I can carry mind in my hand. I’d rather carry them in my hand.”
Rainbow now dressed himself, and then the boys began to walk along together toward home. Rainbow carried the basket and Tolie his bundle of lilies. The cows having observed that Tolie stopped to play, as they thought, by the pond, had concluded to avail themselves of the opportunity to eat a little more grass by the road-side, having found a place there were it was very fresh and green. When they saw
Tolie coming on they did not wait for orders, but immediately began to move out toward the road again, taking, however, a few last mouthfuls by the way.
When the boys arrived at the house they found Handie and Margery at work together, nailing up a vine which had fallen down from the trellis over the porch at the corner door, where they had come into the house when they first arrived. Rainbow brought his basket of pond lilies up and asked Handie whether he thought there would be any way of sending them back home.
“What! roots and all?” asked Handie.
“Yes,” said Rainbow; “because, if the roots do not go with them, they will all dry up.”
“Do you wish to send them to your mother?” asked Handie.
“No,” replied Rainbow, “they are for Mary and Minnie James. Minnie asked me to send her a pond lily, if I could, and Mary too, and I want to do it very much, if I can, for Mary made me a present of an inkstand when I came away.”
Handie paused a moment, and seemed to be thinking. Presently he said,
“I saw an empty paint-keg out in the shed, which I suppose is of no use here. I don’t
know but that we might put them in that, if Mr. Dorling would give it to us, and then we can get Trigget to carry it. I will ask Mr. Dorling if he will give us the keg.”
“Oh, you need not take any trouble to ask him,” said Margery. “I will give you the keg; you may have it and welcome; and I will see that Trigget takes it to-morrow on the stage. He goes by here about eight o’clock.”
Rainbow thanked Margery for her kindness in assisting him so effectually, and then went out into the shed to get the paint-keg. When he had brought it in, Handie put the lily-roots into the bottom of it carefully, placing them side by side. He then coiled the stems in, and packed them closely with some fine hay, with which he filled the keg up nearly to the top. Then he laid the leaves in carefully on the top, with the buds of the lilies among them, arranging them in a very pretty and tasteful manner.
Having done all this, Margery brought out a pitcher of water, and Handie poured the water in until the hay was completely saturated and the keg filled full to the brim. But the hay held the water, as it were, so much that any moderate shaking of the keg would not spill any out. For better security still, Handie tied
a cloth over the top. He then said he would write the address on a thick piece of coarse paper, in the form of a card, which he would tie to the keg by a string.
So Handie went in to the desk at the bar and wrote the address. He put a note at the bottom of the paper saying that the lilies had roots, and that, if they were kept in water, they would perhaps continue in bloom for several days.
This address Handie tied to the keg, and then he placed the keg carefully under the seat in the porch. Margery was to take charge of it, and give it to Trigget the next morning.
And here, in order to finish the story of the pond lilies, I may as well add that the next morning, when Trigget came along, and Margery asked him to take the keg, he said he was right glad of the chance to do Rainbow a good turn, in acknowledgment of his courage in climbing down upon the horses in order to buckle the reins at the time when the stage was upset. So he took the keg up and placed it carefully on the footboard before him, where he watched it, and kept it steady by pressing his feet against it all the way. He stopped at Mr. James’s on his way into town, and gave it to Josiah, Mr. James’s hired man. It was about twelve o’clock when the stage stopped, and Mr.
James was just coming home to dinner when he saw Josiah taking off the keg. Mr. James asked Trigget what it was. Trigget said that it was something that Rainbow had sent to his daughters. Mr. James then read what was written on the paper, and seemed very much pleased. He took out his purse to pay Trigget for bringing the keg, but Trigget said there was nothing to pay.
“Rainbow has paid for it,” said he, “ten times over, by the help he gave me on the road.”
As soon as the stage drove away, Mr. James called Mary and Minnie to see what had come for them. They were even more pleased than Mr. James had been. Minnie was overjoyed. She capered about the yard in a state of extreme delight. She said that she never had had a pond lily with the root to it before.
Mr. James said that Josiah should make Minnie a little pond to plant her pond lily in. So he selected a pretty corner of the yard, near a place where there was an arbor and a seat, and he gave Josiah directions what to do. He then went in to dinner, taking Mary and Minnie with him, though Minnie was very unwilling to leave her pond lily. But he told her that after dinner she could come out and see it again, and that by that time it would be in its little pond.
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THE LITTLE POND.
While the family were at dinner, Josiah, in obedience to Mr. James’s instructions, dug a round hole in the ground, near the arbor, large enough and deep enough to contain a tub. All the earth which he took out of this hole he put carefully in the wheel-barrow, and wheeled it away, so as to keep the grass nice and clean all around the place. When the hole was dug, Josiah brought the tub, which was one made by sawing a barrel in two. One half of the barrel formed the tub. This he put into the ground, and then he filled the earth in around it, and rammed it in in a very firm and compact manner. Then he spread some clean sand around the margin of the tub, and raked it smooth, giving it a gently sloping direction toward the edge of the tub, like the beach of a pond. Then he took the lilies carefully out of the keg, and laid the roots down gently in the bottom of the tub, and put some earth in around them. Finally he brought a good many pails of water and poured in, until he had filled the tub up to the brim, leaving the lily-pads and the buds to float beautifully on the top of it.
The water in the little pond was at first turbid, but it gradually became clear; and when Minnie came out after dinner she was extremely pleased with her little pond, and with the
contentment and enjoyment which the buds and leaves seemed to feel in floating in the water there.
Not long after this the buds bloomed out into open flowers, and they continued to live and thrive in their little pond for a great many days.
Handie and Rainbow were obliged to wait half an hour after the appointed time before the wagon was ready. At length, however, Tolie was seen coming with it to the door. Tolie had a seat on a box in front, in a convenient place for driving. Handie and Rainbow got in and took their places on the seat, and then, after bidding Mr. Dorling and Margery good-by, and thanking Margery very cordially for all her kindness to them, they commenced their journey. It was now about eight o’clock.
“We are rather late, Tolie,” said Handie. “You were to be ready at half past seven.”
“I know it, sir,” said Tolie, “but it is not my fault. I could not get them to harness the wagon before. They ought to have had it all ready when I came back from the pasture. But they never are ready at Dorling’s till half an hour after the time.”
“Ah!” said Handie, “that is very bad.
Nothing hinders a man’s business more than not being punctual.”
“Yes,” said Tolie, “it hinders Mr. Dorling’s business a great deal. The stage used to stop there for breakfast; but the breakfast was never ready, and it hindered Trigget so much to wait for it, and made such a fretting among the passengers, that he was obliged to go to another place.”
“And what did Mr. Dorling say to that?” asked Handie.
“He was very sorry to have Trigget leave him,” said Tolie; “but he said he did not blame him, after all.”
“Then he took it good-naturedly?” said Handie.
“Yes, sir,” said Tolie; “he always takes things good-naturedly.”
“But I should have supposed,” said Handie, after a little pause, during which he seemed to be thinking, “I should have supposed that Margery would have taken care of that. It would be her business to see that breakfast was ready in season.”
“Ah! she would,” replied Tolie, “if she had been at home, but she was away at school at that time.”
“Oh, that was it, then,” said Handie. He
seemed quite relieved in his mind to learn that Margery was not in fault in respect to that delinquency.
“Is Margery a pretty good scholar?” he asked.
“Yes,” said Tolie, “she is an excellent scholar. When she went to school hereabouts she was the best scholar in the school.”
In farther conversation with the boys, Handie advised them both very strongly to get into the habit of always being punctual.
“If you expect to prosper,” said he, “as men of business, you must be punctual. Be always a little ahead of your agreements in respect to time. It is better to be five minutes too early than one minute too late. And that reminds me of a story.”
“Tell it to us,” said Tolie.
“Once there was a gentleman,” said Handie, beginning his story, “who lived on a very handsome place, and he wanted a boy to come sometimes to help about the garden and grounds, and to go of errands. He paid high wages, and the garden and grounds were very pretty, so that any boy would have liked the place. But the gentleman wanted to choose a good one.
“So he mounted his horse and rode into the
village, and went to a blacksmith’s shop in the middle of it, where there was a blacksmith who knew pretty much all the spare boys in the village, and told him what he wanted. ‘How old a boy do you want?” says the blacksmith. ‘I want a boy about ten or twelve years old,’ says the gentleman. ‘You want a good strong boy, I suppose?’ said the blacksmith. ‘I don’t care so much about his being very strong,’ says the gentleman, ‘as I do about his being interested in his work, and being always ready on hand at the time I send for him, and coming back in good season when I send him away.’
“ ‘Very well,’ says the blacksmith, after thinking a few minutes; ‘I know of three good boys. They are all good, smart boys, and will take an interest in their work. I’ll send them all to your house, and you can choose between them.’ ‘What are their names?’ says the gentleman. ‘Their names,’ says the blacksmith, ‘are Prompit, Case, and Tarrigo.’ ‘Very well,’ says the gentleman; ‘send them to me, and I will talk with them. I will try them all with a test question.’
“So the gentleman went home, and that evening the boys all came. He called them in one by one, and talked with them separately. First came Tarrigo. The gentleman talked with him
a few minutes, and then asked him the test question. ‘How is it about punctuality?’ says he. ‘Suppose I make an appointment with you to come to my house, or to meet me at any place at a certain time, what ought you to do?’
“ ‘I ought to be very particular to be there within five minutes at least of the time,’ says Tarrigo.
“ ‘Very well,’ says the gentleman; ‘that’s a pretty good answer. If I was never kept waiting at an appointment more than five minutes, I should do pretty well.’
“So he sent Tarrigo away, and called in the next boy, whose name was Case. After talking with him some time about other things, he came to the test question with him too. ‘How about punctuality?’ says he. ‘Suppose I make an appointment with you to come to my house, or to meet me at any place at a certain time, what ought you to do?’
“ ‘I ought to calculate to be there at the very moment,’ says Case. ‘This is better still,’ says the gentleman to himself. ‘If every body would calculate to be at the place of appointment exactly at the moment, then I should not be kept waiting at all.’
“So he sent Case away, and called Prompit in. After talking with Prompit for some time
about other things, as he had done with the others, he came to the test question. ‘How is it with you about punctuality?’ says he. ‘Suppose I send for you to come to my house, or to meet me at any place at a certain time, what ought you to do?’ ‘I ought always to set out so as to get there at least five minutes before the time,’ said Prompit, ‘to guard against accidents.’ ‘Ah!’ says the gentleman, ‘that is the best answer of all. Prompit is the boy for me.’ ”
“That’s a good story,” said Tolie; “but who knows that that last boy would be as good as his word? It is very easy to make good promises.”
“True,” said Handie; “but you see the gentleman knew that all the boys were good boys, and so his plan was to decide between them according to the answers they gave to his test question. Of course, he could not tell how they would perform exactly, but it was plain that, so far as punctuality was concerned, Prompit had the best idea of it.”
After riding along a few minutes in silence, Handie asked Tolie if he often went to Southerton.
“Not very often,” said Tolie. “I go whenever I get a chance.”
“Then you like to go to Southerton?” said Handie.
“Yes,” said Tolie, “very much indeed.”
“Is it a pleasant town?” asked Handie.
“Yes,” said Tolie, “it is a very pleasant town. It is not very large, but it is pretty lively.”
“Do you know the place they call the Three Pines?”
“Yes,” said Tolie; “every body knows the Three Pines.”
“What sort of a place is it?” asked Handie.
“It is a very poor place,” replied Tolie. “It used to be a pleasant place enough, but it’s all run down. The boys like to go there pretty well, though. They go there a fishing.”
“Is there a river there?” asked Handie.
“Not exactly a river,” replied Tolie, “but a large stream which runs along by the lower end of the pasture. It is down there that the three pines are.”
“Then there really are three pines on the place?” said Handie.
“Yes,” said Tolie, “certainly. That’s why they call the place by that name. There are three monstrous pines growing there, a little way apart from each other, not far from the water. But they ain’t good for any thing.”
“Why not?” asked Handie.
“Oh, because the branches grow out so thick all around, and so low. There’s no stem at all. You could not get lumber enough from them to pay for cutting. Pines are not worth any thing for timber unless they grow in the woods, so as to shoot up tall and straight, and without any branches near the ground.”
“Then these pines are not in the woods?” said Handie.
“No,” replied Tolie, “they are in the open ground not far from the stream. If the people had only kept them trimmed up while they were growing, they might have made handsome trees of them, but it is too late to do any thing with them now. Pine isn’t worth scarcely any thing for firewood.
“Except for the railroad,” he added, after a moment’s pause. “I don’t know but it might pay to cut them up for the railroad.”
Tolie was quite a smart boy for one of his years, and he had quite a manly idea of business. He looked upon every thing in a money-making point of view. Handie was of quite a business-like turn of mind too, but he had also some love for beauty, both in nature and art. He was very curious to see his three pines, and he thought it quite possible he might like them
as they were quite as well as if they had been trimmed up according to Tolie’s suggestion.
“It is a pity they were not kept trimmed up while they were growing,” said Tolie; “but old Captain Stanfield never would have them touched.”
“Who was Captain Stanfield?” asked Handie.
“Oh, he was the first settler on the farm,” replied Tolie. “He was one of the first men that came into the town, and when he cleared the land he saved these three pines. There’s some story about them, but I don’t rightly know what it is. At any rate there was some reason why he saved them.”
Handie was made very curious by this conversation, both to see his three pines, and also to learn the particulars of the story, which was to explain why they were saved.
The party in the wagon journeyed on after this in a very pleasant manner. It was a bright moonlight evening, and the air was fresh and cool, though not cold. They arrived safely about ten o’clock. Handie’s first plan was to go to the tavern to spend the night, though it was secretly his intention to arrange some sort of accommodation for lodging himself and Rainbow at his own farm, after a day or two, if he should find, on examining the premises, that it was practicable to do so.
“It will be more convenient for our work,” said Handie to himself, “to be always on the ground; and then, as for the pleasure of it, I would rather lodge in a barn what was my own, than in any other person’s palace.”
He, however, determined not to decide positively on this point until he should see how things looked at the Three Pines. But, at any rate, he now resolved on spending the first night there, on account of being on the spot
ready to receive the trunks when Trigget came along with them the next morning.
He explained this to Rainbow, and Rainbow said he would rather sleep in Handie’s house than in any other place in town, whether there were any beds there or not. Handie said it was very certain that there were no beds; but they could find some hay or some straw somewhere, perhaps.
Accordingly, at Tolie’s suggestion, they stopped at a farmer’s on the way and bought four bundles of straw, which they carried along with them in the back part of the wagon.
They met with various adventures after their arrival in making their arrangements for the night, which can not, however, be narrated in this volume. It is sufficient to say that Tolie left them at the door, and that, after some difficulty, they made their way into the house. They made beds of the straw, built a fire, and finally made such arrangements as enabled them to pass quite a comfortable night in one of the rooms. Handie was awake very early in the morning. He wished to be ready to receive his trunk and tool-chest when Trigget should arrive.
Trigget came at the appointed time, and Rainbow, who by this time was up too, helped
him to take the trunk and the tool-chest, and set them in the front entry of the house.
Handie felt quite desirous to know whether Trigget had received the money-purse which Ruth and Melinda had lost, and what he intended to do with it. He, however, thought he would not ask any questions about it himself, but wait until Trigget should allude to it.
After taking off Handie’s trunk and chest, Trigget secured the rest of the baggage, and then, taking the reins in his hand, he mounted upon the box again. The horses were all ready to go, but he drew in the reins and checked them, and, at the same time, putting his hand into his pocket, he drew out the money-purse, still enveloped and sealed just as he had received it from the blacksmith.
“Here’s this purse,” said he, “belonging to those two girls, that you found. Curious, wasn’t it?”
“Yes,” replied Handie, “it was very curious.”
“What made you think to go and look in the coach again?” asked Trigget.
“It is hard to say,” replied Handie. “The notion seemed to come into my head.”
“It was a very bright idea,” said Trigget. “But now I don’t know what to do with this
money, unless you’ll take charge of it. You have got their address, why can’t you take the parcel, and so drop them a line, and then they will send you word what to do with it?”
“Very well,” said Handie; “I will take charge of it.”
So Trigget tossed the purse down, and Handie caught it in his hands. Handie was very skillful at catching, as all carpenters are, being accustomed to catch the wooden pins that are thrown up to them from the ground when they are at work on a frame.
That very day Handie wrote a letter to Ruth and Melinda, informing them that their purse had been found, and was immediately sealed up without being opened; and that Trigget had left it in his charge, in order that he might write to them to know what they wished him to do with it.
In a day or two he received an answer signed by both Ruth and Melinda, and he could not tell which of the girls wrote it. In the letter the writer or writers thanked him very cordially for all the kindness which he had shown to them, and especially for his taking so much pains to look for the lost purse and to write them word about it. They asked him also to open the purse, and to take out from it as much
money as would repay him what they had borrowed of him, and also reimburse him for the postage on his letter and any other little expenses that he had incurred, and then send on to them the purse and the rest of the money by express, or by mail, whichever he found would be cheapest.
Handie thought it was a pity to send on such a porte-monnaie either by mail or by express, as the cost of the transportation would be no inconsiderable portion of the value of the article itself. So he wrote to the young ladies again, proposing that if they attached no particular value to the porte-monnaie over and above the cost of it, they should let him keep it, and send on the cost of it instead in money, in order that they might buy another, if that would answer their purpose just as well.
“I should like that plan best myself,” added Handie, in his letter, “for I want a new money-purse, and should like to have this one very much, not only because it is a very good and very pretty one, but also because it will always serve for me to remember you by, and the very pleasant journey I had in your company, notwithstanding the accident.
“And if you decide to do this,” added Handie, in the conclusion of this letter, “I wish you
would tell me to which of you two the purse belonged.”
“Let us give him the purse,” said Melinda, eagerly, as soon as she and Ruth had finished reading the letter. “We will give it to him together. I will pay my half of what it cost, and we will make him a present of it.”
“No,” said Ruth, shaking her head thoughtfully, “I don’t think that that will do.”
“Why not?” asked Melinda. “It only cost a dollar.”
“It is not the cost,” said Ruth.
“What is it, then?” asked Melinda.
“I don’t know,” replied Ruth, in a hesitating and thoughtful manner. “I have a feeling that he would not like it so well for us to offer to give it to him. If any body proposed to buy any thing of us, and we say we will give it to him, it makes him feel badly. He feels as if we think he wanted us to give it to him, and that his offer to buy it was a hint.”
So the two girls decided to accept Handie’s proposition just as he made it, and in due time he received the following letter:
“DEAR SIR,—We received your kind proposal to take our little porte-monnaie yourself, in order to save us the expense of having it
sent on. We like this plan very much, if you would really wish to keep the porte-monnaie on your own account. We shall get another here exactly like it, at the same place where the first one was bought. The price of it was one dollar.
“We should have preferred to have had you keep the porte-monnaie as a present from us, if we had felt at liberty to offer it to you, but, as it is, we thought best to accept the offer that you made just as you made it, which we do with many thanks.
“So will you please open the porte-monnaie, and take out money enough to make, with the porte-monnaie, the amount that we owe you, and send the rest on to us in bills in a letter?
“There is nothing ont he porte-monnaie besides the money, except a piece of poetry copied from a newspaper. That is not of any consequence, and may be thrown away.
“You ask us to tell you which of us the porte-monnaie belonged to. But that is a secret. You must guess; or, rather, you must consider it as having belonged to us both together.
“RUTH AND MELINDA ROSLER.”
Being thus authorized, Handie opened the
package and took out the porte-monnaie, which he found was entirely new, and was even prettier and more convenient in form and arrangement than he expected. He took the bills out, and after laying aside enough to pay the balance that was due to him, he inclosed the remaining bills in a letter, and sent them on to Ruth and Melinda by mail. The little piece of poetry he found safely put away in an inner compartment of the purse, and, after opening and reading it, which he considered himself perfectly entitled to do, he returned it into its place again. He then put the purse carefully away in a box which he carried in his trunk, where he kept his most valuable treasures.
Poor Burkill was brought to trial on the charge of stealing the watch, about three weeks after this time. He was tried in the court-house in Southerton. Rainbow was summoned into court, and called upon there to give testimony in respect to his seeing Burkill come up in the night to hide his carpet bag in the hay. The jury, after hearing the case, brought in a verdict of guilty, and Burkill was sent to prison.
The next volume of this series will be entitled The Three Pines.