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                               JUST DAVID

                       ELEANOR H. (HODGMAN) PORTER

                                AUTHOR OF

                          WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
                            HELEN MASON GROSE

                                NEW YORK
                            GROSSET & DUNLAP

                     COPYRIGHT 1916, BY ELEANOR H. PORTER
                             ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

                           PUBLISHED MARCH 1916

                              158TH THOUSAND

                                MY FRIEND
                           Mrs. James Harness


I.     THE MOUNTAIN HOME . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1
II.    THE TRAIL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
III.   THE VALLEY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
IV.    TWO LETTERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
V.     DISCORDS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
VII.   "YOU'RE WANTED--YOU'RE WANTED!" . . . . . . . . . 89
VIII.  THE PUZZLING "DOS" AND "DON'TS" . . . . . . . . .102
IX.    JOE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .116
X.     THE LADY OF THE ROSES . . . . . . . . . . . . . .131
XI.    JACK AND JILL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .145
XII.   ANSWERS THAT DID NOT ANSWER . . . . . . . . . . .155
XIII.  A SURPRISE FOR MR. JACK . . . . . . . . . . . . .163
XIV.   THE TOWER WINDOW. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .176
XV.    SECRETS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .187
XVI.   DAVID'S CASTLE IN SPAIN . . . . . . . . . . . . .199
XVII.  "THE PRINCESS AND THE PAUPER" . . . . . . . . . .210
XVIII. DAVID TO THE RESCUE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .225
XIX.   THE UNBEAUTIFUL WORLD . . . . . . . . . . . . . .241
XX.    THE UNFAMILIAR WAY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .252
XXI.   HEAVY HEARTS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .264
XXII.  AS PERRY SAW IT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .274
XXIII. PUZZLES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .284
XXIV.  A STORY REMODELED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .298
XXV.   THE BEAUTIFUL WORLD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .308

                                CHAPTER I
                            THE MOUNTAIN HOME

Far up on the mountain-side stood alone in the clearing. It was
roughly yet warmly built. Behind it jagged cliffs broke the
north wind, and towered gray-white in the sunshine. Before it a
tiny expanse of green sloped gently away to a point where the
mountain dropped in another sharp descent, wooded with scrubby
firs and pines. At the left a footpath led into the cool depths
of the forest. But at the right the mountain fell away again and
disclosed to view the picture David loved the best of all: the
far-reaching valley; the silver pool of the lake with its ribbon
of a river flung far out; and above it the grays and greens and
purples of the mountains that climbed one upon another's
shoulders until the topmost thrust their heads into the wide
dome of the sky itself.
    There was no road, apparently, leading away from the cabin.
There was only the footpath that disappeared into the forest.
Neither, anywhere, was there a house in sight nearer than the
white specks far down in the valley by the river.
    Within the shack a wide fireplace dominated one side of the
main room. It was June now, and the ashes lay cold on the
hearth; but from the tiny lean-to in the rear came the smell and
the sputter of bacon sizzling over a blaze. The furnishings of
the room were simple, yet, in a way, out of the common. There
were two bunks, a few rude but comfortable chairs, a table, two
music-racks, two violins with their cases, and everywhere books,
and scattered sheets of music. Nowhere was there cushion,
curtain, or knickknack that told of a woman's taste or touch. On
the other hand, neither was there anywhere gun, pelt, or
antlered head that spoke of a man's strength and skill. For
decoration there were a beautiful copy of the Sistine Madonna,
several photographs signed with names well known out in the
great world beyond the mountains, and a festoon of pine cones
such as a child might gather and hang.
    From the little lean-to kitchen the sound of the sputtering
suddenly ceased, and at the door appeared a pair of dark,
wistful eyes.
    "Daddy!" called the owner of the eyes.
    There was no answer.
    "Father, are you there?" called the voice, more
    From one of the bunks came a slight stir and a murmured
word. At the sound the boy at the door leaped softly into the
room and hurried to the bunk in the corner. He was a slender lad
with short, crisp curls at his ears, and the red of perfect
health in his cheeks. His hands, slim, long, and with tapering
fingers like a girl's, reached forward eagerly.
    "Daddy, come! I've done the bacon all myself, and the
potatoes and the coffee, too. Quick, it's all getting cold!"
    Slowly, with the aid of the boy's firm hands, the man
pulled himself half to a sitting posture. His cheeks, like the
boy's, were red--but not with health. His eyes were a little
wild, but his voice was low and very tender, like a caress.
    "David--it's my little son David!"
    "Of course it's David! Who else should it
be?" laughed the boy. "Come!" And he tugged at the man's hands.
    The man rose then, unsteadily, and by sheer will forced
himself to stand upright. The wild look left his eyes, and the
flush his cheeks. His face looked suddenly old and haggard. Yet
with fairly sure steps he crossed the room and entered the
little kitchen.
    Half of the bacon was black; the other half was transparent
and like tough jelly. The potatoes were soggy, and had the
unmistakable taste that comes from a dish that has boiled dry.
The coffee was lukewarm and muddy. Even the milk was sour.
    David laughed a little ruefully.
    "Things are n't so nice as yours, father," he apologized."
I'm afraid I'm nothing but a discord in that orchestra to-day!
Somehow, some of the stove was hotter than the rest, and burnt
up the bacon in spots; and all the water got out of the
potatoes, too,--though that did n't matter, for I just put more
cold in. I forgot and left the milk in the sun, and it tastes
bad now; but I'm sure next time it'll be better--all of it."
    The man smiled, but he shook his head sadly.
    "But there ought not to be any 'next time,' David."
    "Why not? What do you mean? Are n't you ever going to let
me try again, father?" There was real distress in the boy's
    The man hesitated. His lips parted with an indrawn breath,
as if behind them lay a rush of words. But they closed abruptly,
the words still unsaid. Then, very lightly, came these others:--
    "Well, son, this is n't a very nice way to treat your
supper, is it? Now, if you please, I'll take some of that bacon.
I think I feel my appetite coming back."
    If the truant appetite "came back," however, it could not
have stayed; for the man ate but little. He frowned, too, as he
saw how little the boy ate. He sat silent while his son cleared
the food and dishes away, and he was still silent when, with the
boy, he passed out of the house and walked to the little bench
facing the west.
    Unless it stormed very hard, David never went to bed
without this last look at his "Silver Lake," as he called the
little sheet of water far down in the valley.
    "Daddy, it's gold to-night--all gold with the sun!" he
cried rapturously, as his eyes fell upon his treasure. "Oh,
    It was a long-drawn cry of ecstasy, and hearing it, the man
winced, as with sudden pain.
    'Daddy, I'm going to play it--I've got to play it!" cried
the boy, bounding toward the cabin. In a moment he had returned,
violin at his chin.
    The man watched and listened; and as he watched and
listened, his face became a battle-ground whereon pride and
fear, hope and despair, joy and sorrow, fought for the mastery.
    It was no new thing for David to "play" the sunset. Always,
when he was moved, David turned to his violin. Always in its
quivering strings he found the means to say that which his
tongue could not express.
    Across the valley the grays and blues of the mountains had
become all purples now. Above, the sky in one vast flame of
crimson and gold, was a molten sea on which floated rose-
pink cloud-boats. Below, the valley with its lake and river picked
out in rose and gold against the shadowy greens of field and
forest, seemed like some enchanted fairyland of loveliness.
And all this was in David's violin, and all this, too, was on
David's uplifted, rapturous face.
    As the last rose-glow turned to gray and the last strain
quivered into silence, the man spoke. His voice was almost harsh
with self-control.
    "David, the time has come. We'll have to give it up--you
and I."
    The boy turned wonderingly, his face still softly luminous.
    "Give what up?"
    "This--all this."
    "This! Why, father, what do you mean? This is home!"
    The man nodded wearily.
    "I know. It has been home; but, David, you did n't think we
could always live here, like this, did you?"
    David laughed softly, and turned his eyes once more to the
distant sky-line.
    Why not?" he asked dreamily. "What better place could there
be? I like it, daddy."
    The man drew a troubled breath, and stirred restlessly. The
teasing pain in his side was very bad to-night, and no change of
position eased it. He was ill, very ill; and he knew it, Yet he
also knew that, to David, sickness, pain, and
death meant nothing--or, at most, words that had always been
lightly, almost unconsciously passed over. For the first time he
wondered if, after all, his training--some of it--had been wise.
    For six years he had had the boy under his exclusive care
and guidance. For six years the boy had eaten the food, worn the
clothing, and studied the books of his father's choosing. For
six years that father had thought, planned, breathed, moved,
lived for his son. There had been no others in the little cabin.
There had been only the occasional trips through the woods to
the little town on the mountain-side for food and clothing, to
break the days of close companionship.
    All this the man had planned carefully. He had meant that
only the good and beautiful should have place in David's youth.
It was not that he intended that evil, unhappiness, and death
should lack definition, only definiteness, in the boy's mind. It
should be a case where the good and the beautiful should so fill
the thoughts that there would be no room for anything else. This
had been his plan. And thus far he had succeeded--succeeded so
wonderfully that he began now, in the face of his own illness, and
of what he feared would come of it, to doubt the wisdom of that
    As he looked at the boy's rapt face, he remembered David's
surprised questioning at the first dead squirrel he had found in
the woods. David was six then.
    "Why, daddy, he's asleep, and he won't wake up!" he had
cried. Then, after a gentle touch: "And he's cold--oh, so cold!"
    The father had hurried his son away at the time, and had
evaded his questions; and David had seemed content. But the next
day the boy had gone back to the subject. His eyes were wide
then, and a little frightened.
    "Father, what is it to be--dead?"
    "What do you mean, David?"
    "The boy who brings the milk--he had the squirrel this
morning. He said it was not asleep. It was--dead."
    "It means that the squirrel, the real squirrel under the
fur, has gone away, David."
    "To a far country, perhaps."
    "Will he come back?"
    "Did he want to go?"
    "We'll hope so."
    "But he left his--his fur coat behind him. Did n't he
    "No, or he'd have taken it with him."
    David had fallen silent at this. He had remained strangely
silent indeed for some days; then, out in the woods with his
father one morning, he gave a joyous shout. He was standing by
the ice-covered brook, and looking at a little black hole
through which the hurrying water could be plainly seen.
    "Daddy, oh, daddy, I know now how it is, about
    "It's like the water in the brook, you know; that's going
to a far country, and it is n't coming back. And it leaves its
little cold ice-coat behind it just as the squirrel did, too. It
does n't need it. It can go without it. Don't you see? And it's
singing--listen!--it's singing as it goes. It wants to go!"
    "Yes, David." And David's father had sighed with relief
that his son had found his own explanation of the mystery, and
one that satisfied.
    Later, in his books, David found death again. It was a man,
this time. The boy had looked up with startled eyes.
    "Do people, real people, like you and me, be dead, father?
Do they go to a far country?
    "Yes, son in time--to a far country ruled over by a great
and good King they tell us.
    David's father had trembled as he said it, and had waited
fearfully for the result. But David had only smiled happily as
he answered:
    "But they go singing, father, like the little brook. You
know I heard it!"
    And there the matter had ended. David was ten now, and not
yet for him did death spell terror. Because of this David's
father was relieved; and yet--still because of this--he was
    "David," he said gently. "Listen to me."
    The boy turned with a long sigh.
    "Yes, father."
    "We must go away. Out in the great world there are men and
women and children waiting for you. You've a beautiful work to
do; and one can't do one's work on a mountain-top."
    "Why not? I like it here, and I've always been here."
    "Not always, David; six years. You were four when I brought
you here. You don't remember, perhaps."
    David shook his head. His eyes were again dreamily fixed on
the sky.
    "I think I'd like it--to go--if I could sail away on that
little cloud-boat up there," he murmured.
    The man sighed and shook his head."
    We can't go on cloud-boats. We must walk, David, for a
way--and we must go soon--soon," he added feverishly." I must
get you back--back among friends, before--"
    He rose unsteadily, and tried to walk erect. His limbs
shook, and the blood throbbed at his temples. He was appalled at
his weakness. With a fierceness born of his terror he turned
sharply to the boy at his side.
    "David, we've got to go! We've got to go--to-morrow!"
    "Yes, yes, come!" He stumbled blindly, yet in some way he
reached the cabin door.
    Behind him David still sat, inert, staring. The next minute
the boy had sprung to his feet and was hurrying after his

                               CHAPTER II
                               THE TRAIL

A CURIOUS strength seemed to have come to the man. With almost
steady hands he took down the photographs and the Sistine
Madonna, packing them neatly away in a box to be left. From
beneath his bunk he dragged a large, dusty traveling-bag, and in
this he stowed a little food, a few garments, and a great deal
of the music scattered about the room.
    David, in the doorway, stared in dazed wonder. Gradually
into his eyes crept a look never seen there before.
    "Father, where are we going?" he asked at last in a shaking
voice, as he came slowly into the room.
    "Back, son; we're going back."
    "To the village, where we get our eggs and bacon?"
    "No, no, lad, not there. The other way. We go down into the
valley this time."
    "The valley--my valley, with the Silver Lake?"
    "Yes, my son; and beyond--far beyond." The man spoke
dreamily. He was looking at a photograph in his hand. It had
slipped in among the loose sheets of music, and had not been put
away with the others. It was the likeness of a beautiful woman.
    For a moment David eyed him uncertainly; then he spoke.
    "Daddy, who is that? Who are all these people in the
pictures? You've never told me about any of them except the
little round one that you wear in your pocket. Who are they?"
    Instead of answering, the man turned faraway eyes on the
boy and smiled wistfully.
    "Ah, David, lad, how they'll love you! How they will love
you! But you must n't let them spoil you, son. You must
remember--remember all I've told you."
    Once again David asked his question, but this time the man
only turned back to the photograph, muttering something the boy
could not understand.
    After that David did not question any more. He was too
amazed, too distressed. He had never before seen his father like
this. With nervous haste the man was setting the little
room to rights, crowding things into the bag, and packing other
things away in an old trunk. His cheeks were very red, and his
eyes very bright. He talked, too, almost constantly, though
David could understand scarcely a word of what was said. Later,
the man caught up his violin and played; and never before had
David heard his father play like that. The boy's eyes filled,
and his heart ached with a pain that choked and numbed--though
why, David could not have told. Still later, the man dropped his
violin and sank exhausted into a chair; and then David, worn and
frightened with it all, crept to his bunk and fell asleep.
    In the gray dawn of the morning David awoke to a different
world. His father, white-faced and gentle, was calling him to
get ready for breakfast. The little room, dismantled of its
decorations, was bare and cold. The bag, closed and strapped,
rested on the floor by the door, together with the two violins
in their cases, ready to carry.
    "We must hurry, son. It's a long tramp before we take the
    "The cars--the real cars? Do we go in those?" David was
fully awake now.
    "And is that all we're to carry?"
    "Yes. Hurry, son."
    "But we come back--sometime?"
    There was no answer.
    "Father, we're coming back--sometime?" David's voice was
insistent now.
    The man stooped and tightened a strap that was already
quite tight enough. Then he laughed lightly.
    "Why, of course you're coming back sometime, David. Only
think of all these things we're leaving!"
    When the last dish was put away, the last garment adjusted,
and the last look given to the little room, the travelers picked
up the bag and the violins, and went out into the sweet
freshness of the morning. As he fastened the door the man sighed
profoundly; but David did not notice this. His face was turned
toward the east--always David looked toward the sun.
    "Daddy, let's not go, after all! Let's stay here," he cried
ardently, drinking in the beauty of the morning.
    "We must go, David. Come, son." And the
man led the way across the green slope to the west.
    It was a scarcely perceptible trail, but the man found it,
and followed it with evident confidence. There was only the
pause now and then to steady his none-too-sure step, or to ease
the burden of the bag. Very soon the forest lay all about them,
with the birds singing over their heads, and with numberless
tiny feet scurrying through the underbrush on all sides. Just
out of sight a brook babbled noisily of its delight in being
alive; and away up in the treetops the morning sun played
hide-and-seek among the dancing leaves.
    And David leaped, and laughed, and loved it all, nor was
any of it strange to him. The birds, the trees, the sun, the
brook, the scurrying little creatures of the forest, all were
friends of his. But the man--the man did not leap or laugh,
though he, too, loved it all. The man was afraid.
    He knew now that he had undertaken more than he could carry
out. Step by step the bag had grown heavier, and hour by hour
the insistent, teasing pain in his side had increased until now
it was a torture. He had forgotten that the way to the valley
was so long; he had not realized how nearly spent was his
strength before he even started down the trail. Throbbing
through his brain was the question, what if, after all, he
could not--but even to himself he would not say the words.
    At noon they paused for luncheon, and at night they camped
where the chattering brook had stopped to rest in a still, black
pool. The next morning the man and the boy picked up the trail
again, but without the bag. Under some leaves in a little
hollow, the man had hidden the bag, and had then said, as if
    I believe, after all, I won't carry this along. There's
nothing in it that we really need, you know, now that I've taken
out the luncheon box, and by night we'll be down in the valley."
    "Of course!" laughed David. "We don't need that." And he
laughed again, for pure joy. Little use had David for bags or
    They were more than halfway down the mountain now, and soon
they reached a grass-grown road, little traveled, but yet a
road. Still later they came to where four ways crossed, and two
of them bore the marks of many wheels. By sundown the little
brook at their side murmured softly of quiet fields and meadows,
and David knew that the valley was reached.
    David was not laughing now. He was watching his father with
startled eyes. David had not known what anxiety was. He was
finding out now--though he but vaguely realized that something
was not right. For some time his father had said but little, and
that little had been in a voice that was thick and
unnatural-sounding. He was walking fast, yet David noticed that
every step seemed an effort, and that every breath came in short
gasps. His eyes were very bright, and were fixedly bent on the
road ahead, as if even the haste he was making was not haste
enough. Twice David spoke to him, but he did not answer; and the
boy could only trudge along on his weary little feet and sigh
for the dear home on the mountain-top which they had left behind
them the morning before.
    They met few fellow travelers, and those they did meet paid
scant attention to the man and the boy carrying the violins. As
it chanced, there was no one in sight when the man, walk-
ing in the grass at the side of the road, stumbled and fell
heavily to the ground.
    David sprang quickly forward.
    "Father, what is it? What is it?"
    There was no answer.
    "Daddy, why don't you speak to me? See, it's David!"
    With a painful effort the man roused himself and sat up.
For a moment he gazed dully into the boy's face; then a
half-forgotten something seemed to stir him into feverish
action. With shaking fingers he handed David his watch and a
small ivory miniature. Then he searched his pockets until on the
ground before him lay a shining pile of gold-pieces--to David
there seemed to be a hundred of them.
    "Take them--hide them--keep them. David, until you--need
them," panted the man. "Then go--go on. I can't."
    "Alone? Without you?" demurred the boy, aghast. "Why,
father, I could n't! I don't know the way. Besides, I'd rather
stay with you," he added soothingly, as he slipped the watch and
the miniature into his pocket;" then we can both go." And he
dropped himself down at his father's side.
    The man shook his head feebly, and pointed again to the
    "Take them, David,--hide them," he chattered with pale
    Almost impatiently the boy began picking up the money and
tucking it into his pockets.
    "But, father, I'm not going without you," he declared
stoutly, as the last bit of gold slipped out of sight, and a
horse and wagon rattled around the turn of the road above.
    The driver of the horse glanced disapprovingly at the man
and the boy by the roadside; but he did not stop. After he had
passed, the boy turned again to his father. The man was fumbling
once more in his pockets. This time from his coat he produced a
pencil and a small notebook from which he tore a page, and began
to write, laboriously, painfully.
    David sighed and looked about him. He was tired and hungry,
and he did not understand things at all. Something very wrong,
very terrible, must be the matter with his father. Here it was
almost dark, yet they had no place to go, no supper to eat,
while far, far up on the mountain-side was their own dear home
sad and lonely without them. Up there, too, the sun
still shone, doubtless,--at least there were the rose-glow and
the Silver Lake to look at, while down here there was nothing,
nothing but gray shadows, a long dreary road, and a straggling
house or two in sight. From above, the valley might look to be
a fairyland of loveliness, but in reality it was nothing but a
dismal waste of gloom, decided David.
    David's father had torn a second page from his book and was
beginning another note, when the boy suddenly jumped to his
feet. One of the straggling houses was near the road where they
sat, and its presence had given David an idea. With swift steps
he hurried to the front door and knocked upon it. In answer a
tall, unsmiling woman appeared, and said, "Well?"
    David removed his cap as his father had taught him to do
when one of the mountain women spoke to him.
    "Good evening, lady; I'm David," he began frankly. "My
father is so tired he fell down back there, and we should like
very much to stay with you all night, if you don't mind."
    The woman in the doorway stared. For a moment she was dumb
with amazement. Her eyes swept the plain, rather rough garments
of the boy, then sought the half-recumbent figure of the man
by the roadside. Her chin came up angrily.
    "Oh, would you, indeed! Well, upon my word!" she scouted."
Humph! We don't accommodate tramps, little boy." And she shut
the door hard.
    It was David's turn to stare. Just what a tramp might be,
he did not know; but never before had a request of his been so
angrily refused. He knew that. A fierce something rose within
him--a fierce new something that sent the swift red to his neck
and brow. He raised a determined hand to the doorknob--he had
something to say to that woman!--when the door suddenly opened
again from the inside."
    See here, boy," began the woman, looking out at him a
little less unkindly, "if you're hungry I'll give you some milk
and bread. Go around to the back porch and I'll get it for you."
And she shut the door again.
    David's hand dropped to his side. The red still stayed on
his face and neck, however, and that fierce new something within
him bade him refuse to take food from this woman.... But
there was his father--his poor father, who was so tired; and
there was his own stomach clamoring to be fed. No, he could not
refuse. And with slow steps and hanging head David went around
the corner of the house to the rear.
    As the half-loaf of bread and the pail of milk were placed
in his hands, David remembered suddenly that in the village
store on the mountain, his father paid money for his food. David
was glad, now, that he had those gold-pieces in his pocket, for
he could pay money. Instantly his head came up. Once more erect
with self-respect, he shifted his burdens to one hand and thrust
the other into his pocket. A moment later he presented on his
outstretched palm a shining disk of gold.
    "Will you take this, to pay, please, for the bread and
milk?" he asked proudly.
    The woman began to shake her head; but, as her eyes fell on
the money, she started, and bent closer to examine it. The next
instant she jerked herself upright with an angry exclamation.
    "It's gold! A ten-dollar gold-piece! So you're a thief,
too, are you, as well as a tramp? Humph! Well, I guess you don't
need this then," she finished sharply, snatching the bread and
the pail of milk from the boy's hand.
    The next moment David stood alone on the doorstep, with the
sound of a quickly thrown bolt in his ears.
    A thief! David knew little of thieves, but he knew what
they were. Only a month before a man had tried to steal the
violins from the cabin; and he was a thief, the milk-boy said.
David flushed now again, angrily, as he faced the closed door.
But he did not tarry. He turned and ran to his father.
    "Father, come away, quick! You must come away," he choked.
    So urgent was the boy's voice that almost unconsciously the
sick man got to his feet. With shaking hands he thrust the notes
he had been writing into his pocket. The little book, from which
he had torn the leaves for this purpose, had already dropped
unheeded into the grass at his feet.
    "Yes, son, yes, we'll go," muttered the man. "I feel better
now. I can--walk."
    And he did walk, though very slowly, ten, a dozen, twenty
steps. From behind came the sound of wheels that stopped close
beside them.
    "Hullo, there! Going to the village?" called a voice.
    "Yes, sir." David's answer was unhesitating. Where "the
village" was, he did not know; he knew only that it must be
somewhere away from the woman who had called him a thief. And
that was all he cared to know.
    "I'm going 'most there myself. Want a lift?" asked the man,
still kindly.
    "Yes, sir. Thank you!" cried the boy joyfully. And together
they aided his father to climb into the roomy wagon-body.
    There were few words said. The man at the reins drove
rapidly, and paid little attention to anything but his horses.
The sick man dozed and rested. The boy sat, wistful-eyed and
silent, watching the trees and houses flit by. The sun had long
ago set, but it was not dark, for the moon was round and bright,
and the sky was cloudless. Where the road forked sharply the man
drew his horses to a stop.
    "Well, I'm sorry, but I guess I'll have to drop you here,
friends. I turn off to the right; but 't ain't more 'n a quarter
of a mile for you, now" he finished cheerily, pointing with his
whip to a cluster of twinkling lights.
    "Thank you, sir, thank you," breathed David gratefully,
steadying his father's steps. "You've helped us lots. Thank
    In David's heart was a wild desire to lay at his good man's
feet all of his shining gold-pieces as payment for this timely
aid. But caution held him back: it seemed that only in stores
did money pay; outside it branded one as a thief!
    Alone with his father, David faced once more his problem.
Where should they go for the night? Plainly his father could not
walk far. He had begun to talk again, too,--low, half-finished
sentences that David could not understand, and that vaguely
troubled him. There was a house near by, and several others down
the road toward the village; but David had had all the
experience he wanted that night with strange houses, and strange
women. There was a barn, a big one, which was nearest of all;
and it was toward this barn that David finally turned his
father's steps.
    "We'll go there, daddy, if we can get in," he proposed
softly." And we'll stay all night and rest."

                                CHAPTER III
                                 THE VALLEY

THE long twilight of the June day had changed into a night that
was scarcely darker, so bright was the moonlight. Seen from the
house, the barn and the low buildings beyond loomed shadowy and
unreal, yet very beautiful. On the side porch of the house sat
Simeon Holly and his wife, content to rest mind and body only
because a full day's work lay well done behind them.
    It was just as Simeon rose to his feet to go indoors that
a long note from a violin reached their ears.
    "Simeon!" cried the woman. "What was that?"
    The man did not answer. His eyes were fixed on the barn.
    "Simeon, it's a fiddle!" exclaimed Mrs. Holly, as a second
tone quivered on the air "And it's in our barn!"
    Simeon's jaw set. With a stern ejaculation he crossed the
porch and entered the kitchen.
In another minute he had returned, a lighted lantern in his
    "Simeon, d--don't go," begged the woman, tremulously.
"You--you don't know what's there."
    "Fiddles are not played without hands, Ellen," retorted the
man severely. "Would you have me go to bed and leave a
half-drunken, ungodly minstrel fellow in possession of our barn?
To-night, on my way home, I passed a pretty pair of them lying
by the roadside--a man and a boy with two violins. They're the
culprits, likely,--though how they got this far, I don't see. Do
you think I want to leave my barn to tramps like them?"
    "N--no, I suppose not," faltered the woman, as she rose
tremblingly to her feet, and followed her husband's shadow
across the yard.
    Once inside the barn Simeon Holly and his wife paused
involuntarily. The music was all about them now, filling the air
with runs and trills and rollicking bits of melody. Giving an
angry exclamation, the man turned then to the narrow stairway
and climbed to the hayloft above. At his heels came his wife,
and so her eyes, almost as soon as his fell upon the man
lying back on the hay with the moonlight full upon his face.
    Instantly he music dropped to a whisper, and a low voice
came out of the gloom beyond the square of moonlight which came
from the window in the roof.
    "If you'll please be as still as you can, sir. You see he's
asleep and he's so tired," said the voice.
    For a moment the man and the woman on the stairway paused
in amazement, then the man lifted his lantern and strode toward
the voice.
    "Who are you? What are you doing here?" he demanded
    A boy's face, round, tanned, and just now a bit anxious,
flashed out of the dark.
    "Oh, please, sir, if you would speak lower," pleaded the
boy. "He's so tired! I'm David, sir, and that's father. We came
in here to rest and sleep."
    Simeon Holly's unrelenting gaze left the boy's face and
swept that of the man lying back on the hay. The next instant he
lowered the lantern and leaned nearer, putting forth a cautious
hand. At once he straightened himself, muttering a brusque word
under his breath. Then he turned with the angry question:--
    "Boy, what do you mean by playing a jig on your fiddle at
such a time as this?"
    "Why, father asked me to play" returned the boy cheerily."
He said he could walk through green forests then, with the
ripple of brooks in his ears, and that the birds and the
    "See here, boy, who are you?" cut in Simeon Holly sternly."
Where did you come from?"
    "From home, sir."
    "Where is that?"
    "Why, home, sir, where I live. In the mountains, 'way up,
up, up--oh, so far up! And there's such a big, big sky, so much
nicer than down here." The boy's voice quivered, and almost
broke, and his eyes constantly sought the white face on the hay.
    It was then that Simeon Holly awoke to the sudden
realization that it was time for action. He turned to his wife.
    "Take the boy to the house," he directed incisively. "We'll
have to keep him to-night, I suppose. I'll go for Higgins. Of
course the whole thing will have to be put in his hands at once.
You can't do anything here," he added, as he caught her questioning
glance. "Leave everything just as it is. The man is dead."
    "Dead?" It was a sharp cry from the boy, yet there was more
of wonder than of terror in it." Do you mean that he has
gone--like the water in the brook--to the far country?" he
    Simeon Holly stared. Then he said more distinctly:--
    "Your father is dead, boy."
    "And he won't come back any more?" David's voice broke now.
    There was no answer. Mrs. Holly caught her breath
convulsively and looked away. Even Simeon Holly refused to meet
the boy's pleading eyes.
    With a quick cry David sprang to his father's side.
    "But he's here--right here," he challenged shrilly. "Daddy,
daddy, speak to me! It's David!" Reaching out his hand, he
gently touched his father's face. He drew back then, at once,
his eyes distended with terror. "He is n't! He is--gone," he
chattered frenziedly. "This is n't the father-part that
knows. It's the other--that they leave. He's left it behind
him--like the squirrel, and the water in the brook."
    Suddenly the boy's face changed. It grew rapt and luminous
as he leaped to his feet, crying joyously: "But he asked me to
play, so he went singing--singing just as he said that they did.
And I made him walk through green forests with the ripple of the
brooks in his ears! Listen--like this!" And once more the boy
raised the violin to his chin, and once more the music trilled
and rippled about the shocked, amazed ears of Simeon Holly and
his wife.
    For a time neither the man nor the woman could speak. There
was nothing in their humdrum, habit-smoothed tilling of the soil
and washing of pots and pans to prepare them for a scene like
this--a moonlit barn, a strange dead man, and that dead man's
son babbling of brooks and squirrels, and playing jigs on a
fiddle for a dirge. At last, however, Simeon found his voice.
    "Boy, boy, stop that!" he thundered." Are you mad--clean
mad? Go into the house, I say!" And the boy, dazed but obedient,
put up his violin, and followed the woman, who, with tear-blinded
eyes, was leading the way down the stairs.
    Mrs. Holly was frightened, but she was also strangely
moved. From the long ago the sound of another violin had come to
her--a violin, too, played by a boy's hands. But of this, all
this, Mrs. Holly did not like to think.
    In the kitchen now she turned and faced her young guest.
    "Are you hungry, little boy?"
    David hesitated; he had not forgotten the woman, the milk,
and the gold-piece.
    "Are you hungry--dear?" stammered Mrs. Holly again; and
this time David's clamorous stomach forced a "yes" from his
unwilling lips; which sent Mrs. Holly at once into the pantry
for bread and milk and a heaped-up plate of doughnuts such as
David had never seen before.
    Like any hungry boy David ate his supper; and Mrs. Holly,
in the face of this very ordinary sight of hunger being appeased
at her table, breathed more freely, and ventured to think that
perhaps this strange little boy was not so very strange, after
    "What is your name?" she found courage to ask then.
    "David what?"
    "Just David."
    "But your father's name?" Mrs. Holly had almost asked, but
stopped in time. She did not want to speak of him. "Where do you
live?" she asked instead.
    "On the mountain, 'way up, up on the mountain where I can
see my Silver Lake every day, you know."
    "But you did n't live there alone?"
    "Oh, no; with father--before he--went away" faltered the
    The woman flushed red and bit her lip.
    "No, no, I mean--were there no other houses but yours?" she
    "No, ma'am."
    "But, was n't your mother--anywhere?"
    "Oh, yes, in father's pocket."
    "Your mother--in your father's pocket!"
    So plainly aghast was the questioner that David looked not
a little surprised as he explained.
    "You don't understand. She is an angel-
mother, and angel-mothers don't have anything only their
pictures down here with us. And that's what we have, and father
always carried it in his pocket."
    "Oh----h," murmured Mrs. Holly, a quick mist in her eyes.
Then, gently: "And did you always live there--on the mountain?"
    "Six years, father said."
    "But what did you do all day? Weren't you ever--lonesome?"
    "Lonesome?" The boy's eyes were puzzled.
    "Yes. Did n't you miss things--people, other houses, boys
of your own age, and--and such things?"
    David's eyes widened.
    "Why, how could I?" he cried. "When I had daddy, and my
violin, and my Silver Lake, and the whole of the great big woods
with everything in them to talk to, and to talk to me?"
    "Woods, and things in them to--to talk to you!"
    "Why, yes. It was the little brook, you know, after the
squirrel, that told me about being dead, and--"
    "Yes, yes; but never mind, dear, now,"
stammered the woman, rising hurriedly to her feet--the boy was
a little wild, after all, she thought. "You--you should go to
bed. Have n't you a--a bag, or--or anything?"
    "No, ma'am; we left it," smiled David apologetically. "You
see, we had so much in it that it got too heavy to carry. So we
did n't bring it."
    "So much in it you did n't bring it, indeed!" repeated Mrs.
Holly, under her breath, throwing up her hands with a gesture of
despair. "Boy, what are you, anyway?"
    It was not meant for a question, but, to the woman's
surprise, the boy answered, frankly, simply:--"
    Father says that I'm one little instrument in the great
Orchestra of Life, and that I must see to it that I'm always in
tune, and don't drag or hit false notes."
    "My land!" breathed the woman, dropping back in her chair,
her eyes fixed on the boy. Then, with an effort, she got to her
    "Come, you must go to bed," she stammered." I'm sure bed
is--is the best place you. I think I can find what--what you
need," she finished feebly.
    In a snug little room over the kitchen some minutes later,
David found himself at last alone. The room, though it had once
belonged to a boy of his own age, looked very strange to David.
On the floor was a rag-carpet rug, the first he had ever seen.
On the walls were a fishing-rod, a toy shotgun, and a case full
of bugs and moths, each little body impaled on a pin, to David's
shuddering horror. The bed had four tall posts at the corners,
and a very puffy top that filled David with wonder as to how he
was to reach it, or stay there if he did gain it. Across a chair
lay a boy's long yellow-white nightshirt that the kind lady had
left, after hurriedly wiping her eyes with the edge of its hem.
In all the circle of the candlelight there was just one familiar
object to David's homesick eyes--the long black violin case
which he had brought in himself, and which held his beloved
    With his back carefully turned toward the impaled bugs and
moths on the wall, David undressed himself and slipped into the
yellow-white nightshirt, which he sniffed at gratefully, so like
pine woods was the perfume that hung about its folds. Then he
blew out the candle and groped his way to the one window the
little room contained.
    The moon still shone, but little could be seen through the
thick green branches of the tree outside. From the yard below
came the sound of wheels, and of men's excited voices. There
came also the twinkle of lanterns borne by hurrying hands, and
the tramp of shuffling feet. In the window David shivered. There
were no wide sweep of mountain, hill, and valley, no Silver
Lake, no restful hush, no daddy,--no beautiful Things that Were.
There was only the dreary, hollow mockery of the Things they had
    Long minutes later, David, with the violin in his arms, lay
down upon the rug, and, for the first time since babyhood,
sobbed himself to sleep--but it was a sleep that brought no
rest; for in it he dreamed that he was a big, white-winged moth
pinned with a star to an ink-black sky.

                                CHAPTER IV
                               TWO LETTERS

IN the early gray dawn David awoke. His first sensation was the
physical numbness and stiffness that came from his hard bed on
the floor.
    "Why, daddy," he began, pulling himself half-erect, "I
slept all night on--" He stopped suddenly, brushing his eyes
with the backs of his hands. "Why, daddy, where--" Then full
consciousness came to him.
    With a low cry he sprang to his feet and ran to the window.
Through the trees he could see the sunrise glow of the eastern
sky. Down in the yard no one was in sight; but the barn door was
open, and, with a quick indrawing of his breath, David turned
back into the room and began to thrust himself into his
    The gold in his sagging pockets clinked and jingled
musically; and once half a dozen pieces rolled out upon the
floor. For a moment the boy looked as if he were going to let
them remain where they were. But the next minute,
with an impatient gesture, he had picked them up and thrust them
deep into one of his pockets, silencing their jingling with his
    Once dressed, David picked up his violin and stepped softly
into the hall. At first no sound reached his ears; then from the
kitchen below came the clatter of brisk feet and the rattle of
tins and crockery. Tightening his clasp on the violin, David
slipped quietly down the back stairs and out to the yard. It was
only a few seconds then before he was hurrying through the open
doorway of the barn and up the narrow stairway to the loft
    At the top, however, he came to a sharp pause, with a low
cry. The next moment he turned to see a kindly-faced man looking
up at him from the foot of the stairs.
    "Oh, sir, please--please, where is he? What have you done
with him?" appealed the boy, almost plunging headlong down the
stairs in his haste to reach the bottom.
    Into the man's weather-beaten face came a look of sincere
but awkward sympathy.
    "Oh, hullo, sonny! So you're the boy, are ye?" he began
    "Yes, yes, I'm David. But where is he--
my father, you know? I mean the--the part he--he left behind
him?" choked the boy. "The part like--the ice-coat?"
    The man stared. Then, involuntarily, he began to back away.
    "Well, ye see, I--I--"
    "But, maybe you don't know," interrupted David feverishly.
"You are n't the man I saw last night. Who are you? Where is
he--the other one, please?"
    "No, I--I wa' n't here--that is, not at the first," spoke
up the man quickly, still unconsciously backing away. "Me--I'm
only Larson, Perry Larson, ye know. 'T was Mr. Holly you see
last night--him that I works for."
    "Then, where is Mr. Holly, please?" faltered the boy,
hurrying toward the barn door. "Maybe he would know--about
father. Oh, there he is!" And David ran out of the barn and
across the yard to the kitchen porch.
    It was an unhappy ten minutes that David spent then.
Besides Mr. Holly, there were Mrs. Holly, and the man, Perry
Larson. And they all talked. But little of what they said could
David understand. To none of his questions could he obtain an
answer that satisfied. Neither, on his part, could he seem
to reply to their questions in a way that pleased them.
    They went in to breakfast then, Mr. and Mrs. Holly, and the
man, Perry Larson. They asked David to go--at least, Mrs. Holly
asked him. But David shook his head and said "No, no, thank you
very much; I'd rather not, if you please--not now." Then he
dropped himself down on the steps to think. As if he could
eat--with that great choking lump in his throat that refused to
be swallowed!
    David was thoroughly dazed, frightened, and dismayed. He
knew now that never again in this world would he see his dear
father, or hear him speak. This much had been made very clear to
him during the last ten minutes. Why this should be so, or what
his father would want him to do, he could not seem to find out.
Not until now had he realized at all what this going away of his
father was to mean to him. And he told himself frantically that
he could not have it so. He could not have it so! But even as he
said the words, he knew that it was so--irrevocably so.
     David began then to long for his mountain home. There at
least he would have his dear forest all about him, with the
birds and the squirrels and the friendly little brooks. There
he would have his Silver Lake to look at, too, and all of
them would speak to him of his father. He believed, indeed,
that up there it would almost seem as if his father were really
with him. And, anyway, if his father ever should come back, it
would be there that he would be sure to seek him--up there in
the little mountain home so dear to them both. Back to the
cabin he would go now, then. Yes; indeed he would!
    With a low word and a passionately intent expression, David
got to his feet, picked up his violin, and hurried, firm-footed,
down the driveway and out upon the main highway, turning in the
direction from whence he had come with his father the night

    The Hollys had just finished breakfast when Higgins, the
coroner, drove into the yard accompanied by William Streeter,
the town's most prominent farmer,--and the most miserly one, if
report was to be credited.
    "Well, could you get anything out of the boy? " demanded
Higgins, without ceremony, as Simeon Holly and Larson appeared
on the kitchen porch.
    "Very little. Really nothing of importance," answered
Simeon Holly.
    "Where is he now?"
    "Why, he was here on the steps a few minutes ago." Simeon
Holly looked about him a bit impatiently.
    "Well, I want to see him. I've got a letter for him."
    "A letter!" exclaimed Simeon Holly and Larson in amazed
    "Yes. Found it in his father's pocket," nodded the coroner,
with all the tantalizing brevity of a man who knows he has a
choice morsel of information that is eagerly awaited. "It's
addressed to 'My boy David,' so I calculated we'd better give it
to him first without reading it, seeing it's his. After he reads
it, though, I want to see it. I want to see if what it says is
any nearer being horse-sense than the other one is."
    "The other one!" exclaimed the amazed chorus again.
    "Oh, yes, there's another one," spoke up William Streeter
tersely." And I've read it--all but the scrawl at the end.
There could n't anybody read that!" Higgins laughed.
    "Well, I'm free to confess 't is a sticker--that name," he
admitted." And it's the name we want, of course, to tell us who
they are-since it seems the boy don't know, from what you said
last night. I was in hopes, by this morning, you'd have found
out more from him."
    Simeon Holly shook his head.
    "'T was impossible."
    "Gosh! I should say 't was," cut in Perry Larson, with
emphasis. "An' queer ain't no name for it. One minute he'd be
talkin' good common sense like anybody: an' the next he'd be
chatterin' of coats made o' ice, an' birds an' squirrels an'
babbling brooks. He sure is dippy! Listen. He actually don't
seem ter know the diff'rence between himself an' his fiddle. We
was tryin' ter find out this mornin' what he could do, an' what
he wanted ter do, when if he did n't up an' say that his father
told him it did n't make so much diff'rence what he did so long
as he kept hisself in tune an' did n't strike false notes. Now,
what do yer think o' that?"
    "Yes, I, know" nodded Higgins musingly. "There was
something queer about them, and they weren't just ordinary
tramps. Did I tell you? I overtook them last night away up on
the Fairbanks road by the Taylor place, and I gave 'em a lift.
I particularly noticed what a decent sort they were. They were
clean and quiet-spoken, and their clothes were good, even if
they were rough. Yet they did n't have any baggage but them
    "But what was that second letter you mentioned?" asked
Simeon Holly.
    Higgins smiled oddly, and reached into his pocket.
    "The letter? Oh, you're welcome to read the letter," he
said, as he handed over a bit of folded paper.
    Simeon took it gingerly and examined it.
    It was a leaf torn apparently from a note book. It was
folded three times, and bore on the outside the superscription
"To whom it may concern." The handwriting was peculiar,
irregular, and not very legible. But as near as it could be
deciphered, the note ran thus:--

    Now that the time has come when I must give David back to
the world, I have set out for that purpose.  But I am ill--very
ill, and should Death have swifter feet than I, I must leave
my task for others to complete. Deal gently with him. He knows
only that which is good and beautiful. He knows nothing of
sin nor evil.

    Then followed the signature--a thing of scrawls and
flourishes that conveyed no sort of meaning to Simeon Holly's
puzzled eyes.
    "Well?" prompted Higgins expectantly.
    Simeon Holly shook his head.
    "I can make little of it. It certainly is a most remarkable
    "Could you read the name?"
    "Well, I could n't. Neither could half a dozen others
that's seen it. But where's the boy? Mebbe his note'll talk
    "I'll go find him," volunteered Larson. "He must be
somewheres 'round."
    But David was very evidently not "somewheres'round." At
least he was not in the barn, the shed, the kitchen bedroom, nor
anywhere else that Larson looked; and the man was just coming
back with a crestfallen, perplexed frown, when Mrs. Holly
hurried out on to the porch.
    "Mr. Higgins," she cried, in obvious ex-
citement, "your wife has just telephoned that her sister Mollie
has just telephoned her that that little tramp boy with the
violin is at her house."
    "At Mollie's!" exclaimed Higgins. "Why, that's a mile or
more from here."
    "So that's where he is!" interposed Larson, hurrying
forward. "Doggone the little rascal! He must 'a' slipped away
while we was eatin breakfast."
    "Yes. But, Simeon,--Mr. Higgins,--we had n't ought to let
him go like that," appealed Mrs. Holly tremulously. "Your wife
said Mollie said she found him crying at the crossroads, because
he did n't know which way to take. He said he was going back
home. He means to that wretched cabin on the mountain, you know;
and we can't let him do that alone--a child like that!"
    "Where is he now?" demanded Higgins.
    "In Mollie's kitchen eating bread and milk; but she said
she had an awful time getting him to eat. And she wants to know
what to do with him. That's why she telephoned your wife. She
thought you ought to know he was there."
    "Yes, of course. Well, tell her to tell him to come back."
    "Mollie said she tried to have him come back, but that he
said, no, thank you, he'd rather not. He was going home where
his father could find him if he should ever want him. Mr.
Higgins, we--we can't let him go off like that. Why, the child
would die up there alone in those dreadful woods, even if he
could get there in the first place--which I very much doubt."
    "Yes, of course, of course," muttered Higgins, with a
thoughtful frown. "There's his letter, too. Say!" he added,
brightening, "what'll you bet that letter won't fetch him? He
seems to think the world and all of his daddy. Here," he
directed, turning to Mrs. Holly, "you tell my wife to
tell--better yet, you telephone Mollie yourself, please, and
tell her to tell the boy we've got a letter here for him from
his father, and he can have it if he'll come back.".
    "I will, I will," called Mrs. Holly, over her shoulder, as
she hurried into the house. In an unbelievably short time she
was back, her face beaming.
    "He's started, so soon," she nodded. "He's crazy with joy,
Mollie said. He even left part of his breakfast, he was in such
a hurry. So I guess we'll see him all right."
    "Oh, yes, we'll see him all right," echoed Simeon Holly
grimly. "But that is n't telling what we'll do with him when we
do see him."
    "Oh, well, maybe this letter of his will help us out on
that," suggested Higgins soothingly. "Anyhow, even if it does
n't, I'm not worrying any. I guess some one will want him--a
good healthy boy like that."
    "Did you find any money on the body?" asked Streeter.
    "A little change--a few cents. Nothing to count. If the
boy's letter does n't tell us where any of their folks are,
it'll be up to the town to bury him all right."
    "He had a fiddle, did n't he? And the boy had one, too.
Would n't they bring anything?" Streeter's round blue eyes
gleamed shrewdly.
    Higgins gave a slow shake of his head.
    "Maybe--if there was a market for 'em. But who'd buy 'em?
There ain't a soul in town plays but Jack Gurnsey; and he's got
one. Besides, he's sick, and got all he can do to buy bread and
butter for him and his sister without taking in more fiddles, I
guess. He would n't buy 'em."
    "Hm--m; maybe not, maybe not," grunted Streeter. "An', as
you say, he's the only one that's got any use for 'em here; an'
like enough they ain't worth much, anyway. So I guess 't is up
to the town all right."
    "Yes; but--if yer'll take it from me,"--interrupted
Larson,--"you'll be wise if ye keep still before the boy. It's
no use askin' him anythin'. We've proved that fast enough. An'
if he once turns 'round an' begins ter ask you questions, yer
done for!"
    "I guess you're right," nodded Higgins, with a quizzical
smile. "And as long as questioning can't do any good, why, we'll
just keep whist before the boy. Meanwhile I wish the little
rascal would hurry up and get here. I want to see the inside of
that letter to him. I'm relying on that being some help to
unsnarl this tangle of telling who they are."
    "Well, he's started," reiterated Mrs. Holly, as she turned
back into the house; "so I guess he'll get here if you wait long
    "Oh, yes, he'll get here if we wait long enough," echoed
Simeon Holly again, crustily.
    The two men in the wagon settled themselves more
comfortably in their seats, and Perry Larson, after a
half-uneasy, half-apologetic glance at his employer, dropped
himself onto the bottom step. Simeon Holly had already sat down
stiffly in one of the porch chairs. Simeon Holly never "dropped
himself" anywhere. Indeed, according to Perry Larson, if there
were a hard way to do a thing, Simeon Holly found it--and did
it. The fact that, this morning, he had allowed, and was still
allowing, the sacred routine of the day's work to be thus
interrupted, for nothing more important than the expected
arrival of a strolling urchin, was something Larson would not
have believed had he not seen it. Even now he was conscious once
or twice of an involuntary desire to rub his eyes to make sure
they were not deceiving him.
    Impatient as the waiting men were for the arrival of David,
they were yet almost surprised, so soon did he appear, running
up the driveway."
    Oh, where is it, please?" he panted." They said you had a
letter for me from daddy!"
    "You're right, sonny; we have. And here it is," answered
Higgins promptly, holding out the folded paper.
    Plainly eager as he was, David did not open the note till
he had first carefully set down the case holding his violin;
then he devoured it with eager eyes.
    As he read, the four men watched his face. They saw first
the quick tears that had to be blinked away. Then they saw the
radiant glow that grew and deepened until the whole boyish face
was aflame with the splendor of it. They saw the shining wonder
of his eyes, too, as he looked up from the letter.
    "And daddy wrote this to me from the far country?" he
    Simeon Holly scowled. Larson choked over a stifled chuckle.
William Streeter stared and shrugged his shoulders; but Higgins
flushed a dull red.
    "No, sonny," he stammered. "We found it on the--er--I mean,
it--er--your father left it in his pocket for you," finished the
man, a little explosively.
    A swift shadow crossed the boy's face.
    "Oh, I hoped I'd heard--" he began. Then
suddenly he stopped, his face once more alight. "But it's 'most
the same as if he wrote it from there, is n't it? He left it for
me, and he told me what to do."
    "What's that, what's that?" cried Higgins, instantly
alert." Did he tell you what to do? Then, let's have it, so we,
ll know. You will let us read it, won't you, boy?"
    "Why, y--yes," stammered David, holding it out politely,
but with evident reluctance.
    "Thank you," nodded Higgins, as he reached for the note.
    David's letter was very different from the other one. It
was longer, but it did not help much, though it was easily read.
In his letter, in spite of the wavering lines, each word was
formed with a care that told of a father's thought for the young
eyes that would read it. It was written on two of the notebook's
leaves, and at the end came the single word "Daddy."

    David, my boy [read Higgins aloud], in the far country I am
waiting for you. Do not grieve, for that will grieve me. I shall
not return, but some day you will come to me, your violin at
your chin, and the bow drawn across the strings to greet me. See
that it tells me of the beautiful world you have left--for it is
a beautiful world, David; never forget that. And if
sometime you are tempted to think it is not a beautiful world,
just remember that you yourself can make it beautiful if you
    You are among new faces, surrounded by things and people
that are strange to you. Some of them you will not understand;
some of them you may not like. But do not fear, David, and do
not plead to go back to the hills. Remember this, my boy,--in
your violin lie all the things you long for. You have only to
play, and the broad skies of your mountain home will be over
you, and the dear friends and comrades of your mountain forests
will be about you.


    "Gorry! that's worse than the other," groaned Higgins, when
he had finished the note. "There's actually nothing in it! Would
n't you think--if a man wrote anything at such a time--that he'd
'a' wrote something that had some sense to it--something that
one could get hold of, and find out who the boy is?"
    There was no answering this. The assembled men could only
grunt and nod in agreement, which, after all, was no real help.

                                CHAPTER V

THE dead man found in Farmer Holly's barn created a decided stir
in the village of Hinsdale. The case was a peculiar one for many
reasons. First, because of the boy--Hinsdale supposed it knew
boys, but it felt inclined to change its mind after seeing this
one. Second, because of the circumstances. The boy and his
father had entered the town like tramps, yet Higgins, who talked
freely of his having given the pair a "lift" on that very
evening, did not hesitate to declare that he did not believe
them to be ordinary tramps at all.
    As there had been little found in the dead man's pockets,
save the two notes, and as nobody could be found who wanted the
violins, there seemed to be nothing to do but to turn the body
over to the town for burial. Nothing was said of this to David;
indeed, as little as possible was said to David about anything
after that morning when Higgins had given him his father's
letter. At that time the men had made one more effort to "get
track of something," as Higgins had despairingly put it. But
the boy's answers to their questions were anything but
satisfying, anything but helpful, and were often most
disconcerting. The boy was, in fact, regarded by most of the men,
after that morning, as being "a little off"; and was hence let
severely alone.
    Who the man was the town authorities certainly did not
know, neither could they apparently find out. His name, as
written by himself, was unreadable. His notes told nothing; his
son could tell little more--of consequence. A report, to be
sure, did come from the village, far up the mountain, that such
a man and boy had lived in a hut that was almost inaccessible;
but even this did not help solve the mystery.
    David was left at the Holly farmhouse, though Simeon Holly
mentally declared that he should lose no time in looking about
for some one to take the boy away.
    On that first day Higgins, picking up the reins preparatory
to driving from the yard, had said, with a nod of his head
toward David:--
    "Well, how about it, Holly? Shall we leave him here till we
find somebody that wants him?"
    "Why, y--yes, I suppose so," hesitated Simeon Holly, with
uncordial accent.
    But his wife, hovering in the background, hastened forward
at once.
    "Oh, yes; yes, indeed," she urged. "I'm sure he--he won't
be a mite of trouble, Simeon."
    "Perhaps not," conceded Simeon Holly darkly. "Neither, it
is safe to say, will he be anything else--worth anything."
    "That's it exactly," spoke up Streeter, from his seat in
the wagon. "If I thought he'd be worth his salt, now, I'd take
him myself; but--well, look at him this minute," he finished,
with a disdainful shrug.
    David, on the lowest step, was very evidently not hearing
a word of what was being said. With his sensitive face
illumined, he was again poring over his father's letter.
    Something in the sudden quiet cut through his absorption as
the noisy hum of voices had not been able to do, and he raised
his head. His eyes were starlike.
    "I'm so glad father told me what to do," he breathed.
"It'll be easier now."
    Receiving no answer from the somewhat awkwardly silent men,
he went on, as if in explanation:--
    "You know he's waiting for me--in the far country, I mean.
He said he was. And when you've got somebody waiting, you don't
mind staying behind yourself for a little while. Besides, I've
got to stay to find out about the beautiful world, you know, so
I can tell him, when I go. That's the way I used to do back home
on the mountain, you see,--tell him about things. Lots of days
we'd go to walk; then, when we got home, he'd have me tell him,
with my violin, what I'd seen. And now he says I'm to stay
    "Here!" It was the quick, stern voice of Simeon Holly.
    "Yes," nodded David earnestly;" to learn about the
beautiful world. Don't you remember? And he said I was not to
want to go back to my mountains; that I would not need to,
anyway, because the mountains, and the sky, and the birds and
squirrels and brooks are really in my violin, you know. And--"
But with an angry frown Simeon Holly stalked away, motioning
Larson to follow him; and with a merry glance and a low chuckle
Higgins turned his horse about and drove from the yard. A moment
later David found himself alone with Mrs. Holly, who was
looking at him with wistful, though slightly fearful eyes.
    "Did you have all the breakfast you wanted?" she asked
timidly, resorting, as she had resorted the night before, to the
everyday things of her world in the hope that they might make
this strange little boy seem less wild, and more nearly human.
    "Oh, yes, thank you." David's eyes had strayed back to the
note in his hand. Suddenly he looked up, a new something in his
eyes. "What is it to be a--a tramp?" he asked. "Those men said
daddy and I were tramps."
    "A tramp? Oh--er--why, just a--a tramp," stammered Mrs.
Holly. "But never mind that, David. I--I would n't think any
more about it."
    "But what is a tramp?" persisted David, a smouldering fire
beginning to show in his eyes." Because if they meant thieves--"
    "No, no, David," interrupted Mrs. Holly soothingly. "They
never meant thieves at all."
    "Then, what is it to be a tramp?"
    "Why, it's just to--to tramp," explained Mrs. Holly
desperately;--"walk along the road from one town to another,
and--and not live in a house at all."
    "Oh!" David's face cleared. "That's all right, then. I'd
love to be a tramp, and so'd father. And we were tramps,
sometimes, too, 'cause lots of times, in the summer, we did n't
stay in the cabin hardly any--just lived out of doors all day
and all night. Why, I never knew really what the pine trees were
saying till I heard them at night, lying under them. You know
what I mean. You've heard them, have n't you?"
    "At night? Pine trees?" stammered Mrs. Holly helplessly.
    "Yes. Oh, have n't you ever heard them at night?" cried the
boy, in his voice a very genuine sympathy as for a grievous
loss. "Why, then, if you've only heard them daytimes, you don't
know a bit what pine trees really are. But I can tell you.
Listen! This is what they say," finished the boy, whipping his
violin from its case, and, after a swift testing of the
strings, plunging into a weird, haunting little melody.
    In the doorway, Mrs. Holly, bewildered, yet bewitched,
stood motionless, her eyes half-fearfully, half-longingly fixed
on David's glorified face. She was still in the same position
when Simeon Holly came around the corner of the house.
    "Well, Ellen," he began, with quiet scorn, after a moment's
stern watching of the scene before him, "have you nothing better
to do this morning than to listen to this minstrel fellow?"
    "Oh, Simeon! Why, yes, of course. I--I forgot--what I was
doing," faltered Mrs. Holly, flushing guiltily from neck to brow
as she turned and hurried into the house.
    David, on the porch steps, seemed to have heard nothing. He
was still playing, his rapt gaze on the distant sky-line, when
Simeon Holly turned upon him with disapproving eyes.
    "See here, boy, can't you do anything but fiddle?" he
demanded. Then, as David still continued to play, he added sharply:
"Did n't you hear me, boy?"
    The music stopped abruptly. David looked up with the
slightly dazed air of one who has been summoned as from another
    "Did you speak to me, sir?" he asked.
    "I did--twice. I asked if you never did anything but play
that fiddle."
    "You mean at home?" David's face expressed mild wonder
without a trace of anger or resentment. "Why, yes, of course. I
could n't play all the time, you know. I had to eat and sleep
and study my books; and every day we went to walk--like tramps,
as you call them," he elucidated, his face brightening with
obvious delight at being able, for once, to explain matters in
terms that he felt sure would be understood.
    "Tramps, indeed!" muttered Simeon Holly, under his breath.
Then, sharply: "Did you never perform any useful labor, boy?
Were your days always spent in this ungodly idleness?"
    Again David frowned in mild wonder.
    "Oh, I was n't idle, sir. Father said I must never be that.
He said every instrument was needed in the great Orchestra of
Life; and that I was one, you know, even if I was only a little
boy. And he said if I kept still and did n't do my part, the
harmony would n't be complete, and--"
    "Yes, yes, but never mind that now, boy," interrupted
Simeon Holly, with harsh impatience." I mean, did he never set
you to work--real work?"
    "Work?" David meditated again. Then suddenly his face
cleared. "Oh, yes, sir, he said I had a beautiful work to do,
and that it was waiting for me out in the world. That's why we
came down from the mountain, you know, to find it. Is that what
you mean?"
    "Well, no," retorted the man, "I can't say that it was. I
was referring to work--real work about the house. Did you never
do any of that?"
    David gave a relieved laugh.
    "Oh, you mean getting the meals and tidying up the house,"
he replied. "Oh, yes, I did that with father, only"--his face
grew wistful--"I'm afraid I did n't do it very well. My bacon
was never as nice and crisp as father's, and the fire was always
spoiling my potatoes."
    "Humph! bacon and potatoes, indeed!" scorned Simeon Holly.
"Well, boy, we call that women's work down here. We set men to
something else. Do you see that woodpile by the shed door?"
    "Yes, sir."
    "Very good. In the kitchen you'll find an empty woodbox. Do
you think you could fill it with wood from that woodpile? You'll
find plenty of short, small sticks already chopped."
    "Oh, yes, sir, I'd like to," nodded David, hastily but
carefully tucking his violin into its case. A minute later he
had attacked the woodpile with a will; and Simeon Holly, after
a sharply watchful glance, had turned away.
    But the woodbox, after all, was not filled. At least, it
was not filled immediately. for at the very beginning of
gathering the 'second armful of wood, David picked up a stick
that had long lain in one position on the ground, thereby
disclosing sundry and diverse crawling things of many legs,
which filled David's soul with delight, and drove away every
thought of the empty woodbox.
    It was only a matter of some strength and more patience,
and still more time, to overturn other and bigger sticks, to
find other and bigger of the many-legged, many-jointed creatures.
One, indeed, was so very wonderful that David, with a whoop of
glee, summoned Mrs. Holly from the shed doorway to come and see.
    So urgent was his plea that Mrs. Holly came with hurried
steps--but she went away with steps even more hurried; and
David, sitting back on his woodpile seat, was left to wonder why
she should scream and shudder and say "Ugh-h-h!" at such a
beautiful, interesting thing as was this little creature who
lived in her woodpile.
    Even then David did not think of that empty woodbox waiting
behind the kitchen stove. This time it was a butterfly, a big
black butterfly banded with gold; and it danced and fluttered
all through the back yard and out into the garden, David
delightedly following with soft-treading steps, and movements
that would not startle. From the garden to the orchard, and from
the orchard back to the garden danced the butterfly--and David;
and in the garden, near the house, David came upon Mrs. Holly's
pansy-bed. Even the butterfly was forgotten then, for down in
the path by the pansy-bed David dropped to his knees in
veritable worship.
    "Why, you're just like little people," he cried softly.
"You've got faces; and some of you are happy, and some of you
are sad. And you--you big spotted yellow one--you're laughing at
me. Oh, I'm going to play you--all of you. You'll make such a
pretty song, you're so different from each other!" And David
leaped lightly to his feet and ran around to the side porch for
his violin.
    Five minutes later, Simeon Holly, coming into the kitchen,
heard the sound of a violin through the open window. At the same
moment his eyes fell on the woodbox, empty save for a few small
sticks at the bottom. With an angry frown he strode through the
outer door and around the corner of the house to the garden. At
once then he came upon David, sitting Turk-fashion in the middle
of the path before the pansy-bed, his violin at his chin, and
his whole face aglow.
    "Well, boy, is this the way you fill the woodbox?" demanded
the man crisply.
    David shook his head.
    "Oh, no, sir, this is n't filling the woodbox," he laughed,
softening his music, but not stopping it. "Did you think that
was what I was playing? It's the flowers here that I'm
playing--the little faces, like people, you know. See, this is
that big yellow one over there that's laughing," he finished,
letting the music under his fingers burst into a gay little
    Simeon Holly raised an imperious hand; and at the gesture
David stopped his melody in the middle of a run, his eyes flying
wide open in plain wonderment.
    "You mean--I'm not playing--right?" he asked.
    "I'm not talking of your playing," retorted Simeon Holly
severely. "I'm talking of that woodbox I asked you to fill."
    David's face cleared.
    "Oh, yes, sir. I'll go and do it," he nodded, getting
cheerfully to his feet.
    "But I told you to do it before."
    David's eyes grew puzzled again.
    "I know, sir, and I started to," he answered, with the
obvious patience of one who finds himself obliged to explain
what should be a self-evident fact; "but I saw so many beautiful
things, one after another, and when I found these funny little
flower-people I just had to play them. Don't you see?"
    "No, I can't say that I do, when I'd already told you to
fill the woodbox," rejoined the man, with uncompromising
    "You mean--even then that I ought to have filled the
woodbox first?"
    "I certainly do."
    David's eyes flew wide open again.
    "But my song--I'd have lost it!" he exclaimed." And father
said always when a song came to me to play it at once. Songs are
like the mists of the morning and the rainbows, you know, and
they don't stay with you long. You just have to catch them
quick, before they go. Now, don't you see?"
    But Simeon Holly, with a despairingly scornful gesture, had
turned away; and David, after a moment's following him with
wistful eyes, soberly walked toward the kitchen door. Two
minutes later he was industriously working at his task of
filling the woodbox.
    That for David the affair was not satisfactorily settled
was evidenced by his thoughtful countenance and preoccupied air,
however; nor were matters helped any by the question David put
to Mr.  Holly just before dinner.
    "Do you mean," he asked, "that because I did n't fill the
woodbox right away, I was being a discord?"
    "You were what?" demanded the amazed Simeon Holly.
    "Being a discord--playing out of tune, you know," explained
David, with patient earnestness. "Father said--" But again
Simeon Holly had turned irritably away; and David was left with
his perplexed questions still unanswered.

                                CHAPTER VI

FOR some time after dinner, that first day, David watched Mrs.
Holly in silence while she cleared the table and began to wash
the dishes.
    "Do you want me to--help?" he asked at last, a little
    Mrs. Holly, with a dubious glance at the boy's brown little
hands, shook her head.
    "No, I don't. No, thank you," she amended her answer.
    For another sixty seconds David was silent; then, still
more wistfully, he asked:--"
    Are all these things you've been doing all day 'useful
    Mrs. Holly lifted dripping hands from the dishpan and held
them suspended for an amazed instant.
    "Are they--Why, of course they are! What a silly question!
What put that idea into your head, child?"
    "Mr. Holly; and you see it's so different from what father
used to call them."
    "Yes. He said they were a necessary nuisance,--dishes, and
getting meals, and clearing up,--and he did n't do half as many
of them as you do, either."
    "Nuisance, indeed!" Mrs. Holly resumed her dishwashing with
some asperity. "Well, I should think that might have been just
about like him."
    "Yes, it was. He was always that way," nodded David
pleasantly. Then, after a moment, he queried: "But are n't you
going to walk at all to-day?"
    "To walk? Where?"
    "Why, through the woods and fields--anywhere."
    "Walking in the woods, now--just walking? Land's sake, boy,
I've got something else to do!"
    "Oh, that's too bad, is n't it?" David's face expressed
sympathetic regret." And it's such a nice day! Maybe it'll rain
by tomorrow."
    "Maybe it will," retorted Mrs. Holly, with slightly
uplifted eyebrows and an expressive glance." But whether it does
or does n't won't make any difference in my going to walk, I guess."
    "Oh, won't it?" beamed David, his face changing. "I'm so
glad! I don't mind the rain, either. Father and I used to go in
the rain lots of times, only, of course, we could n't take our
violins then, so we used to like the pleasant days better. But
there are some things you find on rainy days that you could n't
find any other time, are n't there? The dance of the drops on
the leaves, and the rush of the rain when the wind gets behind
it. Don't you love to feel it, out in the open spaces, where the
wind just gets a good chance to push?"
    Mrs. Holly stared. Then she shivered and threw up her hands
with a gesture of hopeless abandonment.
    "Land's sake, boy!" she ejaculated feebly, as she turned
back to her work.
    From dishes to sweeping, and from sweeping to dusting,
hurried Mrs. Holly, going at last into the somber parlor, always
carefully guarded from sun and air. Watching her, mutely, David
trailed behind, his eyes staring a little as they fell upon the
multitude of objects that parlor contained: the haircloth
chairs, the long sofa, the marble-topped table, the curtains,
cushions, spreads, and "throws," the innumerable mats and
tidies, the hair-wreath, the wax flowers under their glass dome,
the dried grasses, the marvelous bouquets of scarlet, green, and
purple everlastings, the stones and shells and many-sized,
many-shaped vases arranged as if in line of battle along the
corner shelves.
    "Y--yes, you may come in," called Mrs. Holly, glancing back
at the hesitating boy in the doorway. "But you must n't touch
anything. I'm going to dust."
    "But I have n't seen this room before," ruminated David.
    "Well, no," deigned Mrs. Holly, with just a touch of
superiority. "We don't use this room common, little boy, nor the
bedroom there, either. This is the company room, for ministers
and funerals, and--" She stopped hastily, with a quick look at
David; but the boy did not seem to have heard.
    "And does n't anybody live here in this house, but just you
and Mr. Holly, and Mr. Perry Larson?" he asked, still looking
wonderingly about him.
    "No, not--now." Mrs. Holly drew in her breath with a little
catch, and glanced at the framed portrait of a little boy on the
    "But you've got such a lot of rooms and--and things,"
remarked David. "Why, daddy and I only had two rooms, and not
hardly any things. It was so--different, you know, in my home."
    "I should say it might have been!" Mrs. Holly began to dust
hurriedly, but carefully. Her voice still carried its hint of
    "Oh, yes," smiled David. "But you say you don't use this
room much, so that helps."
    "Helps!" In her stupefaction Mrs. Holly stopped her work
and stared.
    "Why, yes. I mean, you've got so many other rooms you can
live in those. You don't have to live in here."
    " 'Have to live in here'!" ejaculated the woman, still too
uncomprehending to be anything but amazed.
    "Yes. But do you have to keep all these things, and clean
them and clean them, like this, every day? Could n't you give
them to somebody, or throw them away?"
    "Throw--these--things--away!" With a wild sweep of her
arms, the horrified woman seemed to be trying to encompass in a
protective embrace each last endangered treasure of mat and
tidy. "Boy, are you crazy? These things are--are valuable. They
cost money, and time and--and labor. Don't you know beautiful
things when you see them?"
    "Oh, yes, I love beautiful things," smiled David, with
unconsciously rude emphasis. "And up on the mountain I had them
always. There was the sunrise, and the sunset, and the moon and
the stars, and my Silver Lake, and the cloud-boats that
    But Mrs. Holly, with a vexed gesture, stopped him.
    "Never mind, little boy. I might have known--brought up as
you have been. Of course you could not appreciate such things as
these. Throw them away, indeed!" And she fell to work again; but
this time her fingers carried a something in their touch that
was almost like the caress a mother might bestow upon an
aggrieved child.
    David, vaguely disturbed and uncomfortable, watched her
with troubled eyes; then, apologetically, he explained:--
    "It was only that I thought if you did n't have to clean so
many of these things, you could maybe go to walk more--to-day,
and other days, you know. You said--you did n't have time," he
reminded her.
    But Mrs. Holly only shook her head and sighed:--
    "Well, well, never mind, little boy. I dare say you meant
all right. You could n't understand, of course."
    And David, after another moment's wistful eyeing of the
caressing fingers, turned about and wandered out onto the side
porch. A minute later, having seated himself on the porch steps,
he had taken from his pocket two small pieces of folded paper.
And then, through tear-dimmed eyes, he read once more his
father's letter.
    "He said I must n't grieve, for that would grieve him,"
murmured the boy, after a time, his eyes on the far-away hills.
"And he said if I'd play, my mountains would come to me here,
and I'd really be at home up there. He said in my violin were
all those things I'm wanting--so bad!"
    With a little choking breath, David tucked
the note back into his pocket and reached for his violin.
    Some time later, Mrs. Holly, dusting the chairs in the
parlor, stopped her work, tiptoed to the door, and listened
breathlessly. When she turned back, still later, to her work,
her eyes were wet.
    "I wonder why, when he plays, I always get to thinking
of--John," she sighed to herself, as she picked up her
    After supper that night, Simeon Holly and his wife again
sat on the kitchen porch, resting from the labor of the day.
Simeon's eyes were closed. His wife's were on the dim outlines
of the shed, the barn, the road, or a passing horse and wagon.
David, sitting on the steps, was watching the moon climb higher
and higher above the tree-tops. After a time he slipped into the
house and came out with his violin.
    At the first long-drawn note of sweetness, Simeon Holly
opened his eyes and sat up, stern-lipped. But his wife laid a
timid hand on his arm.
    "Don't say anything, please," she entreated softly. "Let
him play, just for to-night. He's lonesome--poor little fellow."
And Simeon Holly, with a frowning shrug of his shoulders, sat
back in his chair.
    Later, it was Mrs. Holly herself who stopped the music by
saying: "Come, David, it's bedtime for little boys. I'll go
upstairs with you." And she led the way into the house and
lighted the candle for him.
    Upstairs, in the little room over the kitchen, David found
himself once more alone. As before, the little yellow-white
nightshirt lay over the chair-back; and as before, Mrs. Holly
had brushed away a tear as she had placed it there. As before,
too, the big four-posted bed loomed tall and formidable in the
corner. But this time the coverlet and sheet were turned back
invitingly--Mrs. Holly had been much disturbed to find that
David had slept on the floor the night before.
    Once more, with his back carefully turned toward the
impaled bugs and moths on the wall, David undressed himself.
Then, before blowing out the candle, he went to the window
kneeled down, and looked up at the moon through the trees.
    David was sorely puzzled. He was beginning to wonder just
what was to become of himself. His father had said that out
in the world there was a beautiful work for him to do; but
what was it? How was he to find it? Or how was he to do it if
he did find it? And another thing; where was he to live? Could
he stay where he was? It was not home, to be sure; but there
was the little room over the kitchen where he might sleep,
and there was the kind woman who smiled at him sometimes with
the sad, far-away look in her eyes that somehow hurt. He would
not like, now, to leave her--with daddy gone.
    There were the gold-pieces, too; and concerning these David
was equally puzzled. What should he do with them? He did not
need them--the kind woman was giving him plenty of food, so that
he did not have to go to the store and buy; and there was
nothing else, apparently, that he could use them for. They were
heavy, and disagreeable to carry; yet he did not like to throw
them away, nor to let anybody know that he had them: he had been
called a thief just for one little piece, and what would they
say if they knew he had all those others?
    David remembered now, suddenly, that his father had said to
hide them--to hide them until he needed them. David was relieved
at once. Why had he not thought of it before? He knew just the
place, too,--the little cupboard behind the chimney there in
this very room! And with a satisfied sigh, David got to his
feet, gathered all the little yellow disks from his pockets, and
tucked them well out of sight behind the piles of books on the
cupboard shelves. There, too, he hid the watch; but the little
miniature of the angel-mother he slipped back into one of his

    David's second morning at the farmhouse was not unlike the
first, except that this time, when Simeon Holly asked him to
fill the woodbox, David resolutely ignored every enticing bug
and butterfly, and kept rigorously to the task before him until
it was done.
    He was in the kitchen when, just before dinner, Perry
Larson came into the room with a worried frown on his face.
    "Mis' Holly, would ye mind just steppin' to the side door?
There's a woman an' a little boy there, an' somethin' ails 'em.
She can't talk English, an' I'm blest if I can make head nor
tail out of the lingo she does talk. But maybe you can."
    "Why, Perry, I don't know--" began Mrs. Holly. But she
turned at once toward the door.
    On the porch steps stood a very pretty, but
frightened-looking young woman with a boy perhaps ten years old
at her side. Upon catching sight of Mrs. Holly she burst into a
torrent of unintelligible words, supplemented by numerous and
vehement gestures.
    Mrs. Holly shrank back, and cast appealing eyes toward her
husband who at that moment had come across the yard from the
    "Simeon, can you tell what she wants?"
    At sight of the newcomer on the scene, the strange woman
began again, with even more volubility.
    "No," said Simeon Holly, after a moment's scowling scrutiny
of the gesticulating woman. "She's talking French, I think. And
she wants--something."
    "Gosh! I should say she did," muttered Perry Larson. "An'
whatever 't is, she wants it powerful bad."
    "Are you hungry?" questioned Mrs. Holly timidly.
    "Can't you speak English at all?" demanded Simeon Holly.
    The woman looked from one to the other with the piteous,
pleading eyes of the stranger in the strange land who cannot
understand or make others understand. She had turned away with
a despairing shake of her head, when suddenly she gave a wild
cry of joy and wheeled about, her whole face alight.
    The Hollys and Perry Larson saw then that David had come
out onto the porch and was speaking to the woman--and his words
were just as unintelligible as the woman's had been.
    Mrs. Holly and Perry Larson stared. Simeon Holly
interrupted David with a sharp--
    "Do you, then, understand this woman, boy?"
    "Why, yes! Did n't you? She's lost her way, and--" But the
woman had hurried forward and was pouring her story into David's
    At its conclusion David turned to find the look of
stupefaction still on the others' faces.
    "Well, what does she want?" asked Simeon Holly crisply.
    "She wants to find the way to Franccis Lavelle's house.
He's her husband's brother. She came in on the train this
morning. Her husband stopped off a minute somewhere, she says,
and got left behind. He could talk English, but she can't. She's
only been in this country a week. She came from France."
    "Gorry! Won't ye listen ter that, now?" cried Perry Larson
admiringly. "Reads her just like a book, don't he? There's a
French family over in West Hinsdale--two of 'em, I think.
What'll ye bet 't ain't one o' them?"
    "Very likely," acceded Simeon Holly, his eyes bent
disapprovingly on David's face. It was plain to be seen that
Simeon Holly's attention was occupied by David, not the woman.
    "An', say, Mr. Holly," resumed Perry Larson, a little
excitedly, "you know I was goin' over ter West Hinsdale in a day
or two ter see Harlow about them steers. Why can't I go this
afternoon an' tote her an' the kid along?"
    "Very well," nodded Simeon Holly curtly, his eyes still on
David's face.
    Perry Larson turned to the woman, and by a flourish of his
arms and a jumble of broken English attempted to make her
understand that he was to take her where she undoubtedly wished
to go. The woman still looked uncomprehending, however, and
David promptly came to the rescue, saying a few rapid words
that quickly brought a flood of delighted understanding to the
woman's face.
    "Can't you ask her if she's hungry?" ventured Mrs. Holly,
    "She says no, thank you," translated David, with a smile,
when he had received his answer. "But the boy says he is, if you
    "Then, tell them to come into the kitchen," directed Mrs.
Holly, hurrying into the house.
    "So you're French, are you?" said Simeon Holly to David.
    "French? Oh, no, sir," smiled David, proudly. "I'm an
American. Father said I was. He said I was born in this
    "But how comes it you can speak French like that?"
    "Why, I learned it." Then, divining that his words were
still unconvincing, he added: "Same as I learned German and
other things with father, out of books, you know. Did n't you
learn French when you were a little boy?"
    "Humph!" vouchsafed Simeon Holly, stalking away without
answering the question.
    Immediately after dinner Perry Larson drove away with the
woman and the little boy. The woman's face was wreathed with
smiles, and her last adoring glance was for David, waving his
hand to her from the porch steps.
    In the afternoon David took his violin and went off toward
the hill behind the house for a walk. He had asked Mrs. Holly to
accompany him, but she had refused, though she was not sweeping
or dusting at the time. She was doing nothing more important,
apparently, than making holes in a piece of white cloth, and
sewing them up again with a needle and thread.
    David had then asked Mr. Holly to go; but his refusal was
even more strangely impatient than his wife's had been.
    "And why, pray, should I go for a useless walk now--or any
time, for that matter?" he demanded sharply.
    David had shrunk back unconsciously, though he had still
    "Oh, but it would n't be a useless walk, sir. Father said
nothing was useless that helped to keep us in tune, you know."
    "In tune!"
    "I mean, you looked as father used to look sometimes, when
he felt out of tune. And he always said there was nothing like
a walk to put him back again. I--I was feeling a little out of
tune myself to-day, and I thought, by the way you looked, that
you were, too. So I asked you to go to walk."
    "Humph! Well, I--That will do, boy. No impertinence, you
understand!" And he had turned away in very obvious anger.
    David, with a puzzled sorrow in his heart had started alone
then, on his walk.

                                CHAPTER VII
                     "YOU'RE WANTED--YOU'RE WANTED!"

IT was Saturday night, and the end of David's third day at the
farmhouse. Upstairs, in the hot little room over the kitchen,
the boy knelt at the window and tried to find a breath of cool
air from the hills. Downstairs on the porch Simeon Holly and his
wife discussed the events of the past few days, and talked of
what should be done with David.
    "But what shall we do with him?" moaned Mrs. Holly at last,
breaking a long silence that had fallen between them. "What can
we do with him? Does n't anybody want him?"
    "No, of course, nobody wants him," retorted her husband
    And at the words a small figure in a yellow-white
nightshirt stopped short. David, violin in hand, had fled from
the little hot room, and stood now just inside the kitchen door.
    "Who can want a child that has been brought up in that
heathenish fashion?" continued Simeon Holly. "According to his
own story, even his father did nothing but play the fiddle and
tramp through the woods day in and day out, with an occasional
trip to the mountain village to get food and clothing when they
had absolutely nothing to eat and wear. Of course nobody
wants him!"
    David, at the kitchen door, caught his breath chokingly.
Then he sped across the floor to the back hall, and on through
the long sheds to the hayloft in the barn--the place where his
father seemed always nearest.
    David was frightened and heartsick. Nobody wanted him. He
had heard it with his own ears, so there was no mistake. What
now about all those long days and nights ahead before he might
go, violin in hand, to meet his father in that far-away country?
How was he to live those days and nights if nobody wanted him?
How was his violin to speak in a voice that was true and pure
and full, and tell of the beautiful world, as his father had
said that it must do? David quite cried aloud at the thought.
Then he thought of something else that his father had said:
"Remember this, my boy,--in your violin lie all the things you
long for. You have only to play, and the broad skies of your
mountain home will be over you, and the dear friends and comrades
of your mountain forests will be all about you." With a quick
cry David raised his violin and drew the bow across the strings.
    Back on the porch at that moment Mrs. Holly was saying:--
    "Of course there's the orphan asylum, or maybe the
poorhouse--if they'd take him; but--Simeon," she broke off
sharply, "where's that child playing now?"
    Simeon listened with intent ears.
    "In the barn, I should say."
    "But he'd gone to bed!"
    "And he'll go to bed again," asserted Simeon Holly grimly,
as he rose to his feet and stalked across the moonlit yard to
the barn.
    As before, Mrs. Holly followed him, and as before, both
involuntarily paused just inside the barn door to listen. No
runs and trills and rollicking bits of melody floated down the
stairway to-night. The notes were long-drawn, and plaintively
sweet; and they rose and swelled and died almost into silence
while the man and the woman by the door stood listening.
    They were back in the long ago--Simeon Holly and his
wife--back with a boy of their own who had made those same
rafters ring with shouts of laughter, and who, also, had played
the violin--though not like this; and the same thought had
come to each: "What if, after all, it were John playing all
alone in the moonlight!"
    It had not been the violin, in the end, that had driven
John Holly from home. It had been the possibilities in a piece
of crayon. All through childhood the boy had drawn his beloved
"pictures" on every inviting space that offered,--whether it
were the "best-room" wall-paper, or the fly leaf of the big
plush album,--and at eighteen he had announced his determination
to be an artist. For a year after that Simeon Holly fought with
all the strength of a stubborn will, banished chalk and crayon
from the house, and set the boy to homely tasks that left no
time for anything but food and sleep--then John ran away.
    That was fifteen years ago, and they had not seen him
since; though two unanswered letters in Simeon Holly's desk
testified that perhaps this, at least, was not the boy's fault.
    It was not of the grown-up John, the willful boy and
runaway son, however, that Simeon Holly and his wife were
thinking, as they stood just inside the barn door; it was of
Baby John, the little curly-headed fellow that had played at their
knees, frolicked in this very barn, and nestled in their arms
when the day was done.
    Mrs. Holly spoke first--and it was not as she had spoken on
the porch.
    "Simeon," she began tremulously, "that dear child must go
to bed!" And she hurried across the floor and up the stairs,
followed by her husband. "Come, David," she said, as she reached
the top; "it's time little boys were asleep! Come!"
    Her voice was low, and not quite steady. To David her voice
sounded as her eyes looked when there was in them the far-away
something that hurt. Very slowly he came forward into the
moonlight, his gaze searching the woman's face long and
    "And do you--want me?" he faltered.
    The woman drew in her breath with a little sob. Before her
stood the slender figure in the yellow-white gown--John's gown.
Into her eyes looked those other eyes, dark and wistful,--like
John's eyes. And her arms ached with emptiness.
    "Yes, yes, for my very own--and for always!" she cried with
sudden passion, clasping the little form close. "For always!"
    And David sighed his content.
    Simeon Holly's lips parted, but they closed again with no
words said. The man turned then, with a curiously baffled look,
and stalked down the stairs.
    On the porch long minutes later, when once more David had
gone to bed, Simeon Holly said coldly to his wife:--
    "I suppose you realize, Ellen, just what you've pledged
yourself to, by that absurd outburst of yours in the barn
to-night--and all because that ungodly music and the moonshine
had gone to your head!"
    "But I want the boy, Simeon. He--he makes me think
    Harsh lines came to the man's mouth, but there was a
perceptible shake in his voice as he answered:--
    "We're not talking of John, Ellen. We're talking of this
irresponsible, hardly sane boy upstairs. He can work, I suppose,
if he's taught, and in that way he won't perhaps be a dead loss.
Still, he's another mouth to feed, and that counts now. There's
the note, you know,--it's due in August."
    "But you say there's money--almost enough for it--in the
bank." Mrs. Holly's voice was anxiously apologetic.
    "Yes, I know" vouchsafed the man. "But almost enough is not
quite enough."
    "But there's time--more than two months. It is n't due till
the last of August, Simeon."
    "I know, I know. Meanwhile, there's the boy. What are you
going to do with him?"
    "Why, can't you use him--on the farm--a little?"
    "Perhaps. I doubt it, though," gloomed the man. "One can't
hoe corn nor pull weeds with a fiddle-bow--and that's all he
seems to know how to handle."
    "But he can learn--and he does play beautifully," murmured
the woman; whenever before had Ellen Holly ventured to use words
of argument with her husband, and in extenuation, too, of an act
of her own!
    There was no reply except a muttered" Humph!" under the
breath. Then Simeon Holly rose and stalked into the house.
    The next day was Sunday, and Sunday at
the farmhouse was a thing of stern repression and solemn
silence. In Simeon Holly's veins ran the blood of the Puritans,
and he was more than strict as to what he considered right and
wrong. When half-trained for the ministry, ill-health had forced
him to resort to a less confining life, though never had it
taken from him the uncompromising rigor of his views. It was a
distinct shock to him, therefore, on this Sunday morning to be
awakened by a peal of music such as the little house had never
known before. All the while that he was thrusting his indignant
self into his clothing, the runs and turns and crashing chords
whirled about him until it seemed that a whole orchestra must be
imprisoned in the little room over the kitchen, so skillful was
the boy's double stopping. Simeon Holly was white with anger
when he finally hurried down the hall and threw open David's
bedroom door.
    "Boy, what do you mean by this?" he demanded.
    David laughed gleefully.
    "And did n't you know?" he asked. "Why, I thought my music
would tell you. I was so happy, so glad! The birds in the trees
woke me up singing, 'You're wanted--you're wanted;' and the sun
came over the hill there and said, 'You're wanted--you're wanted;'
and the little tree-branch tapped on my window pane and said
"You're wanted--you're wanted!' And I just had to take up my
violin and tell you about it!"
    "But it's Sunday--the Lord's Day," remonstrated the man
    David stood motionless, his eyes questioning.
    "Are you quite a heathen, then?" catechised the man
sharply." Have they never told you anything about God, boy?"
    "Oh, 'God'?--of course," smiled David, in open relief. "God
wraps up the buds in their little brown blankets, and covers the
roots with--"
    "I am not talking about brown blankets nor roots,"
interrupted the man severely. "This is God's day, and as such
should be kept holy."
    " 'Holy'?"
    "Yes. You should not fiddle nor laugh nor sing."
    "But those are good things, and beautiful things," defended
David, his eyes wide and puzzled.
    "In their place, perhaps," conceded the man, stiffly. "but
not on God's day."
    "You mean--He would n't like them?"
    "Oh!"--and David's face cleared. "That's all right, then.
Your God is n't the same one, sir, for mine loves all beautiful
things every day in the year."
    There was a moment's silence. For the first time in his
life Simeon Holly found himself without words.
    "We won't talk of this any more, David," he said at last;
"but we'll put it another way--I don't wish you to play your
fiddle on Sunday. Now, put it up till to-morrow." And he turned
and went down the hall.
    Breakfast was a very quiet meal that morning. Meals were
never things of hilarious joy at the Holly farmhouse, as David
had already found out; but he had not seen one before quite so
somber as this. It was followed immediately by a half-hour of
Scripture-reading and prayer, with Mrs. Holly and Perry Larson
sitting very stiff and solemn in their chairs, while Mr. Holly
read. David tried to sit very stiff and solemn in his chair,
also; but the roses at the window were nodding their heads and
beckoning; and the birds in the bushes beyond were sending to
him coaxing little chirps of "Come out, come out!" And how could
one expect to sit stiff and solemn in the face of all that,
particularly when one's fingers were tingling to take up the
interrupted song of the morning and tell the whole world how
beautiful it was to be wanted!
    Yet David sat very still,--or as still as he could
sit,--and only the tapping of his foot, and the roving of his
wistful eyes told that his mind was not with Farmer Holly and
the Children of Israel in their wanderings in the wilderness.
    After the devotions came an hour of subdued haste and
confusion while the family prepared for church. David had never
been to church. He asked Perry Larson what it was like; but
Perry only shrugged his shoulders and said, to nobody,
    Sugar! Won't ye hear that, now?"--which to David was
certainly no answer at all.
    That one must be spick and span to go to church, David soon
found out--never before had he been so scrubbed and brushed and
combed. There was, too, brought out for him to wear a little
clean white blouse and a red tie, over which Mrs. Holly cried
a little as she had over the nightshirt that first evening.
    The church was in the village only a quarter of a mile
away; and in due time David, open-eyed and interested, was
following Mr. and Mrs. Holly down its long center aisle. The
Hollys were early as usual, and service had not begun. Even the
organist had not taken his seat beneath the great pipes of blue
and gold that towered to the ceiling.
    It was the pride of the town--that organ. It had been given
by a great man (out in the world) whose birthplace the town was.
More than that, a yearly donation from this same great man paid
for the skilled organist who came every Sunday from the city to
play it. To-day, as the organist took his seat, he noticed a new
face in the Holly pew, and he almost gave a friendly smile as he
met the wondering gaze of the small boy there; then he lost
himself, as usual, in the music before him.
    Down in the Holly pew the small boy held his breath. A
score of violins were singing in his ears; and a score of other
instruments that he could not name, crashed over his head,
and brought him to his feet in ecstasy. Before a detaining hand
could stop him, he was out in the aisle, his eyes on the
blue-and-gold pipes from which seemed to come those wondrous
sounds. Then his gaze fell on the man and on the banks of keys;
and with soft steps he crept along the aisle and up the stairs
to the organ-loft.
    For long minutes he stood motionless, listening; then the
music died into silence and the minister rose for the
invocation. It was a boy's voice, and not a man's, however, that
broke the pause.
    "Oh, sir, please," it said, "would you--could you teach me
to do that?"
    The organist choked over a cough, and the soprano reached
out and drew David to her side, whispering something in his ear.
The minister, after a dazed silence, bowed his head; while down
in the Holly pew an angry man and a sorely mortified woman vowed
that, before David came to church again, he should have learned
some things.

                                CHAPTER VIII
                      THE PUZZLING "DOS" AND "DON'TS"

WITH the coming of Monday arrived a new life for David--a
curious life full of" don'ts" and "dos." David wondered
sometimes why all the pleasant things were "don'ts" and all the
unpleasant ones "dos." Corn to be hoed, weeds to be pulled,
woodboxes to be filled; with all these it was "do this, do this,
do this." But when it came to lying under the apple trees,
exploring the brook that ran by the field, or even watching the
bugs and worms that one found in the earth--all these were
    As to Farmer Holly--Farmer Holly himself awoke to some new
experiences that Monday morning. One of them was the difficulty
in successfully combating the cheerfully expressed opinion that
weeds were so pretty growing that it was a pity to pull them up
and let them all wither and die. Another was the equally great
difficulty of keeping a small boy at useful labor
of any sort in the face of the attractions displayed by a
passing cloud, a blossoming shrub, or a bird singing on a
    In spite of all this, however, David so evidently did his
best to carry out the "dos" and avoid the "don'ts," that at four
o'clock that first Monday he won from the stern but
would-be-just Farmer Holly his freedom for the rest of the day;
and very gayly he set off for a walk. He went without his
violin, as there was the smell of rain in the air; but his face
and his step and the very swing of his arms were singing (to
David) the joyous song of the morning before. Even yet, in spite
of the vicissitudes of the day's work, the whole world, to
David's homesick, lonely little heart, was still caroling that
blessed "You're wanted, you're wanted, you're wanted!"
    And then he saw the crow.
    David knew crows. In his home on the mountain he had had
several of them for friends. He had learned to know and answer
their calls. He had learned to admire their wisdom and to
respect their moods and tempers. He loved to watch them.
Especially he loved to see the great birds cut through the air
with a wide sweep of wings, so alive, so gloriously free!
     But this crow--
    This crow was not cutting through the air with a wide sweep
of wing. It was in the middle of a cornfield, and it was rising
and falling and flopping about in a most extraordinary fashion.
Very soon David, running toward it, saw why. By a long leather
strip it was fastened securely to a stake in the ground.
    "Oh, oh, oh!" exclaimed David, in sympathetic
consternation. "Here, you just wait a minute. I'll fix it."
    With confident celerity David whipped out his jackknife to
cut the thong; but he found then that to "fix it" and to say he
would "fix it" were two different matters.
    The crow did not seem to recognize in David a friend. He
saw in him, apparently, but another of the stone-throwing,
gun-shooting, torturing humans who were responsible for his
present hateful captivity. With beak and claw and wing,
therefore, he fought this new evil that had come presumedly to
torment; and not until David had hit upon the expedient of
taking off his blouse, and throwing it over the angry
bird, could the boy get near enough to accomplish his purpose.
Even then David had to leave upon the slender leg a twist of
    A moment later, with a whir of wings and a frightened
squawk that quickly turned into a surprised caw of triumphant
rejoicing, the crow soared into the air and made straight for a
distant tree-top. David, after a minute's glad surveying of his
work, donned his blouse again and resumed his walk.
    It was almost six o'clock when David got back to the Holly
farmhouse. In the barn doorway sat Perry Larson.
    "Well, sonny," the man greeted him cheerily, "did ye get
yer weedin' done?"
    "Y--yes," hesitated David. "I got it done; but I did n't
like it."
    " 'T is kinder hot work."
    "Oh, I did n't mind that part," returned David. "What I did
n't like was pulling up all those pretty little plants and
letting them die."
    "Weeds--'pretty little plants'!" ejaculated the man. "Well,
I'll be jiggered!"
    "But they were pretty," defended David, reading aright the
scorn in Perry Larson's voice. "The very prettiest and biggest
there were, always. Mr. Holly showed me, you know,--and I had
to pull them up."
    "Well, I'll be jiggered!" muttered Perry Larson again.
    "But I've been to walk since. I feel better now."
    "Oh, ye do!"
    "Oh, yes. I had a splendid walk. I went 'way up in the
woods on the hill there. I was singing all the time--inside, you
know. I was so glad Mrs. Holly--wanted me. You know what it is,
when you sing inside."
    Perry Larson scratched his head.
    "Well, no, sonny, I can't really say I do," he retorted. "I
ain't much on singin'."
    "Oh, but I don't mean aloud. I mean inside. When you're
happy, you know."
    "When I'm--oh!" The man stopped and stared, his mouth
falling open. Suddenly his face changed, and he grinned
appreciatively. "Well, if you ain't the beat 'em, boy! 'T is
kinder like singin'--the way ye feel inside, when yer 'specially
happy, ain't it? But I never thought of it before."
    "Oh, yes. Why, that's where I get my songs--inside of me,
you know--that I play on my violin. And I made a crow sing, too.
Only he sang outside."
    "Sing--a crow!" scoffed the man." Shucks! It'll take more
'n you ter make me think a crow can sing, my lad."
    "But they do, when they're happy," maintained the boy.
"Anyhow, it does n't sound the same as it does when they're
cross, or plagued over something. You ought to have heard this
one to-day. He sang. He was so glad to get away. I let him
loose, you see."
    "You mean, you caught a crow up there in them woods?" The
man's voice was skeptical.
    "Oh, no, I did n't catch it. But somebody had, and tied him
up. And he was so unhappy!"
    "A crow tied up in the woods!"
    "Oh, I did n't find that in the woods. It was before I went
up the hill at all."
    "A crow tied up--Look a-here, boy, what are you talkin'
about? Where was that crow?" Perry Larson's whole self had
become suddenly alert.
    "In the field 'Way over there. And some-body--"
    "The cornfield! Jingo! Boy, you don't mean you touched that
    "Well, he would n't let me touch him," half-apologized
David. "He was so afraid, you see. Why, I had to put my blouse
over his head before he'd let me cut him loose at all."
    "Cut him loose!" Perry Larson sprang to his feet. "You did
n't--you did n't let that crow go!"
    David shrank back.
    "Why, yes; he wanted to go. He--" But the man before him
had fallen back despairingly to his old position.
    "Well, sir, you've done it now. What the boss'll say, I
don't know; but I know what I'd like ter say to ye. I was a
whole week, off an' on, gettin' hold of that crow, an' I would
n't have got him at all if I had n't hid half the night an' all
the mornin' in that clump o' bushes, watchin' a chance ter wing
him, jest enough an' not too much. An' even then the job wa'n't
done. Let me tell yer, 't wa'n't no small thing ter get him
hitched. I'm wearin' the marks of the rascal's beak yet. An' now
you've gone an' let him go--just like that," he finished,
snapping his fingers angrily.
    In David's face there was no contrition. There was only
incredulous horror.
    "You mean, you tied him there, on purpose?"
    "Sure I did!"
    "But he did n't like it. Could n't you see he did n't like
it?" cried David.
    "Like it! What if he did n't? I did n't like ter have my
corn pulled up, either. See here, sonny, you no need ter look at
me in that tone o' voice. I did n't hurt the varmint none ter
speak of--ye see he could fly, did n't ye?--an' he wa'n't
starvin'. I saw to it that he had enough ter eat an' a dish o'
water handy. An' if he did n't flop an' pull an' try ter get
away he need n't 'a' hurt hisself never. I ain't ter blame for
what pullin' he done."
    "But would n't you pull if you had two big wings that could
carry you to the top of that big tree there, and away up, up in
the sky, where you could talk to the stars?--would n't you pull
if somebody a hundred times bigger'n you came along and tied
your leg to that post there?"
    The man, Perry, flushed an angry red.
    "See here, sonny, I wa'n't askin' you ter do no preachin'.
What I did ain't no more'n any man 'round here does--if he's smart
enough ter catch one. Rigged-up broomsticks ain't in it with a
live bird when it comes ter drivin' away them pesky, thievin'
crows. There ain't a farmer 'round here that hain't been green
with envy, ever since I caught the critter. An' now ter have you
come along an' with one flip o' yer knife spile it all, I--Well,
it jest makes me mad, clean through! That's all."
    "You mean, you tied him there to frighten away the other
    "Sure! There ain't nothin' like it."
    "Oh, I'm so sorry!"
    "Well, you'd better be. But that won't bring back my crow!"
    David's face brightened.
    "No, that's so, is n't it? I'm glad of that. I was thinking
of the crows, you see. I'm so sorry for them! Only think how
we'd hate to be tied like that--" But Perry Larson, with a stare
and an indignant snort, had got to his feet, and was rapidly
walking toward the house.
    Very plainly, that evening, David was in disgrace, and it
took all of Mrs. Holly's tact and patience, and some private
pleading, to keep a general explosion from wrecking all
chances of his staying longer at the farmhouse. Even as it was,
David was sorrowfully aware that he was proving to be a great
disappointment so soon, and his violin playing that evening
carried a moaning plaintiveness that would have been very
significant to one who knew David well.
    Very faithfully, the next day, the boy tried to carry out
all the "dos," and though he did not always succeed, yet his
efforts were so obvious, that even the indignant owner of the
liberated crow was somewhat mollified; and again Simeon Holly
released David from work at four o'clock.
    Alas, for David's peace of mind, however; for on his walk
to-day, though he found no captive crow to demand his sympathy,
he found something else quite as heartrending, and as
    It was on the edge of the woods that he came upon two boys,
each carrying a rifle, a dead squirrel, and a dead rabbit. The
threatened rain of the day before had not materialized, and
David had his violin. He had been playing softly when he came
upon the boys where the path entered the woods.
    "Oh!" At sight of the boys and their burden David gave an
involuntary cry, and stopped playing.
    The boys, scarcely less surprised at sight of David and his
violin, paused and stared frankly."
    It's the tramp kid with his fiddle," whispered one to the
other huskily.
    David, his grieved eyes on the motionless little bodies in
the boys' hands, shuddered.
    "Are they--dead, too?"
    The bigger boy nodded self-importantly.
    "Sure. We just shot 'em--the squirrels. Ben here trapped
the rabbits." He paused, manifestly waiting for the proper awed
admiration to come into David's face.
    But in David's startled eyes there was no awed admiration,
there was only disbelieving horror.
    "You mean, you sent them to the far country?"
    "Sent them. Made them go yourselves--to the far country?"
    The younger boy still stared. The older one grinned
    "Sure," he answered with laconic indiffer-
ence. "We sent 'em to the far country, all right."
    "But--how did you know they wanted to go?"
    "Wanted--Eh?" exploded the big boy. Then he grinned again,
still more disagreeably. "Well, you see, my dear, we did n't ask
'em," he gibed.
    Real distress came into David's face.
    "Then you don't know at all. And maybe they did n't want to
go. And if they did n't, how could they go singing, as father
said? Father was n't sent. He went. And he went singing. He said
he did. But these--How would you like to have somebody come
along and send you to the far country, without even knowing if
you wanted to go?"
    There was no answer. The boys, with a growing fear in their
eyes, as at sight of something inexplicable and uncanny, were
sidling away; and in a moment they were hurrying down the hill,
not, however, without a backward glance or two, of something
very like terror.
    David, left alone, went on his way with troubled eyes and
a thoughtful frown.
    David often wore, during those first few days at the Holly
farmhouse, a thoughtful face and a troubled frown. There were so
many, many things that were different from his mountain home.
Over and over, as those first long days passed, he read his
letter until he knew it by heart--and he had need to. Was he not
already surrounded by things and people that were strange to
    And they were so very strange--these people! There were the
boys and men who rose at dawn--yet never paused to watch the sun
flood the world with light; who stayed in the fields all
day--yet never raised their eyes to the big fleecy clouds
overhead; who knew birds only as thieves after fruit and grain,
and squirrels and rabbits only as creatures to be trapped or
shot. The women--they were even more incomprehensible. They
spent the long hours behind screened doors and windows, washing
the same dishes and sweeping the same floors day after day.
They, too, never raised their eyes to the blue sky outside, nor
even to the crimson roses that peeped in at the window. They
seemed rather to be looking always for dirt, yet not pleased
when they found it-- especially if it had been tracked in on the
heel of a small boy's shoe!
    More extraordinary than all this to David, however, was the
fact that these people regarded him, not themselves, as being
strange. As if it were not the most natural thing in the world
to live with one's father in one's home on the mountain-top, and
spend one's days trailing through the forest paths, or lying
with a book beside some babbling little stream! As if it were
not equally natural to take one's violin with one at times, and
learn to catch upon the quivering strings the whisper of the
winds through the trees! Even in winter, when the clouds
themselves came down from the sky and covered the earth with
their soft whiteness,--even then the forest was beautiful; and
the song of the brook under its icy coat carried a charm and
mystery that were quite wanting in the chattering freedom of
summer. Surely there was nothing strange in all this, and yet
these people seemed to think there was!

                                CHAPTER IX

DAY by day, however, as time passed, David diligently tried to
perform the "dos" and avoid the "don'ts"; and day by day he came
to realize how important weeds and woodboxes were, if he were to
conform to what was evidently Farmer Holly's idea of "playing
in, tune" in this strange new Orchestra of Life in which he
found himself.
    But, try as he would, there was yet an unreality about it
all, a persistent feeling of uselessness and waste, that would
not be set aside. So that, after all, the only part of this
strange new life of his that seemed real to him was the time
that came after four o'clock each day, when he was released from
    And how full he filled those hours! There was so much to
see, so much to do. For sunny days there were field and stream
and pasture land and the whole wide town to explore. For rainy
days, if he did not care to go to walk, there was his room with
the books in the chimney cupboard. Some of them David had read
before, but many of them he had not. One or two were old
friends; but not so "Dare Devil Dick," and "The Pirates of Pigeon
Cove" (which he found hidden in an obscure corner behind a loose
board). Side by side stood "The Lady of the Lake," "Treasure
Island," and "David Copperfield"; and coverless and dogeared lay
"Robinson Crusoe," "The Arabian Nights," and "Grimm's Fairy
Tales." There were more, many more, and David devoured them all
with eager eyes. The good in them he absorbed as he absorbed
the sunshine; the evil he cast aside unconsciously--it rolled off,
indeed, like the proverbial water from the duck's back.
    David hardly knew sometimes which he liked the better, his
imaginative adventures between the covers of his books or his
real adventures in his daily strolls. True, it was not his
mountain home--this place in which he found himself; neither was
there anywhere his Silver Lake with its far, far-reaching sky
above. More deplorable yet, nowhere was there the dear father he
loved so well. But the sun still set in rose and gold, and the
sky, though small, still carried the snowy sails of its cloud-boats;
while as to his father--his father had told him not to grieve,
and David was trying very hard to obey.
    With his violin for company David started out each day,
unless he elected to stay indoors with his books. Sometimes it
was toward the village that he turned his steps; sometimes it
was toward the hills back of the town. Whichever way it was,
there was always sure to be something waiting at the end for him
and his violin to discover, if it was nothing more than a big
white rose in bloom, or a squirrel sitting by the roadside.
    Very soon, however, David discovered that there was
something to be found in his wanderings besides squirrels and
roses; and that was--people. In spite of the strangeness of
these people, they were wonderfully interesting, David thought.
And after that he turned his steps more and more frequently
toward the village when four o'clock released him from the day's
    At first David did not talk much to these people. He shrank
sensitively from their bold stares and unpleasantly audible
comments. He watched them with round eyes of wonder and interest,
however,--when he did not think they were watching him. And in
time he came to know not a little about them and about the
strange ways in which they passed their time.
    There was the greenhouse man. It would be pleasant to spend
one's day growing plants and flowers--but not under that hot,
stifling glass roof, decided David. Besides, he would not want
always to pick and send away the very prettiest ones to the city
every morning, as the greenhouse man did.
    There was the doctor who rode all day long behind the gray
mare, making sick folks well. David liked him, and mentally
vowed that he himself would be a doctor sometime. Still, there
was the stage-driver--David was not sure but he would prefer to
follow this man's profession for a life-work; for in his, one
could still have the freedom of long days in the open, and yet
not be saddened by the sight of the sick before they had been
made well--which was where the stage-driver had the better of
the doctor, in David's opinion. There were the blacksmith and
the storekeepers, too, but to these David gave little thought or
attention.  Though he might not know what he did want to do, he
knew very well what he did not. All of which merely goes to
prove that David was still on the lookout for that great work
which his father had said was waiting for him out in the world.
    Meanwhile David played his violin. If he found a crimson
rambler in bloom in a door-yard, he put it into a little melody
of pure delight--that a woman in the house behind the gambler
heard the music and was cheered at her task, David did not know.
If he found a kitten at play in the sunshine, he put it into a
riotous abandonment of tumbling turns and trills--that a fretful
baby heard and stopped its wailing, David also did not know. And
once, just because the sky was blue and the air was sweet, and
it was so good to be alive, David lifted his bow and put it all
into a rapturous paean of ringing exultation--that a sick man in
a darkened chamber above the street lifted his head, drew in his
breath, and took suddenly a new lease of life, David still again
did not know. All of which merely goes to prove that David had
perhaps found his work and was doing it--although yet still
again David did not know.
    It was in the cemetery one afternoon that David came upon
the Lady in Black. She was on her knees putting flowers on a
little mound before her. She looked up as David approached. For
a moment she gazed wistfully at him; then as if impelled by a
hidden force, she spoke.
    "Little boy, who are you?"
    "I'm David."
    "David! David who? Do you live here? I've seen you here
    "Oh, yes, I've been here quite a lot of times." Purposely
the boy evaded the questions. David was getting tired of
questions--especially these questions.
    "And have you--lost one dear to you, little boy?"
    "Lost some one?"
    "I mean--is your father or mother--here?"
     "Here? Oh, no, they are n't here. My mother is an
angel-mother, and my father has gone to the far country. He is
waiting for me there, you know."
    "But, that's the same--that is--" She stopped helplessly,
bewildered eyes on David's serene face. Then suddenly a great
light came to her own. "Oh, little boy, I wish I could un-
derstand that--just that," she breathed. "It would make it so
much easier--if I could just remember that they are n't
here--that they're waiting--over there!"
    But David apparently did not hear. He had turned and was
playing softly as he walked away. Silently the Lady in Black
knelt, listening, looking after him. When she rose some time
later and left the cemetery, the light on her face was still
there, deeper, more glorified.
    Toward boys and girls--especially boys--of his own age,
David frequently turned wistful eyes. David wanted a friend, a
friend who would know and understand; a friend who would see
things as he saw them, who would understand what he was saying
when he played. It seemed to David that in some boy of his own
age he ought to find such a friend. He had seen many boys--but
he had not yet found the friend. David had begun to think,
indeed, that of all these strange beings in this new life of
his, boys were the strangest.
    They stared and nudged each other unpleasantly when they
came upon him playing. They jeered when he tried to tell them
what he had been playing. They had never heard of the
great Orchestra of Life, and they fell into most disconcerting
fits of laughter, or else backed away as if afraid, when he told
them that they themselves were instruments in it, and that if
they did not keep themselves in tune, there was sure to be a
discord somewhere.
    Then there were their games and frolics. Such as were
played with balls, bats, and bags of beans, David thought he
would like very much. But the boys only scoffed when he asked
them to teach him how to play. They laughed when a dog chased a
cat, and they thought it very, very funny when Tony, the old
black man, tripped on the string they drew across his path. They
liked to throw stones and shoot guns, and the more creeping,
crawling, or flying creatures that they could send to the far
country, the happier they were, apparently. Nor did they like it
at all when he asked them if they were sure all these creeping,
crawling, flying creatures wanted to leave this beautiful world
and to be made dead. They sneered and called him a sissy. David
did not know what a sissy was; but from the way they said it, he
judged it must be even worse to be a sissy than to be a thief.
    And then he discovered Joe.
    David had found himself in a very strange, very unlovely
neighborhood that afternoon. The street was full of papers and
tin cans, the houses were unspeakably forlorn with sagging
blinds and lack of paint. Untidy women and blear-eyed men leaned
over the dilapidated fences, or lolled on mud-tracked doorsteps.
David, his shrinking eyes turning from one side to the other,
passed slowly through the street, his violin under his arm.
Nowhere could David find here the tiniest spot of beauty to
"play." He had reached quite the most forlorn little shanty on
the street when the promise in his father's letter occurred to
him. With a suddenly illumined face, he raised his violin to
position and plunged into a veritable whirl of trills and runs
and tripping melodies.
    "If I did n't just entirely forget that I did n't need to
see anything beautiful to play," laughed David softly to
himself. "Why, it's already right here in my violin!"
    David had passed the tumble-down shanty, and was hesitating
where two streets crossed, when he felt a light touch on his
arm. He turned to confront a small girl in a patched and
faded calico dress, obviously outgrown. Her eyes were wide and
frightened. In the middle of her outstretched dirty little palm
was a copper cent.
    "If you please, Joe sent this--to you," she faltered.
    "To me? What for?" David stopped playing and lowered his
    The little girl backed away perceptibly, though she still
held out the coin.
    "He wanted you to stay and play some more. He said to tell
you he'd 'a' sent more money if he could. But he did n't have
it. He just had this cent."
    David's eyes flew wide open.
    "You mean he wants me to play? He likes it?" he asked
    "Yes. He said he knew 't wa'n't much--the cent. But he
thought maybe you'd play a little for it."
    "Play? Of course I'll, play" cried David. "Oh, no, I don't
want the money," he added, waving the again-proffered coin
aside. "I don't need money where I'm living now. Where is
he--the one that wanted me to play?" he finished eagerly.
    "In there by the window. It's Joe. He's my brother." The
little girl, in spite of her evident satisfaction at the
accomplishment of her purpose, yet kept quite aloof from the
boy. Nor did the fact that he refused the money appear to bring
her anything but uneasy surprise.
    In the window David saw a boy apparently about his own age,
a boy with sandy hair, pale cheeks, and wide-open, curiously
intent blue eyes.
    "Is he coming? Did you get him? Will he play?" called the
boy at the window eagerly.
    "Yes, I'm right here. I'm the one. Can't you see the
violin? Shall I play here or come in?" answered David, not one
whit less eagerly.
    The small girl opened her lips as if to explain something;
but the boy in the window did not wait.
    "Oh, come in. Will you come in?" he cried unbelievingly.
"And will you just let me touch it--the fiddle? Come! You will
come? See, there is n't anybody home, only just Betty and me."
    "Of course I will!" David fairly stumbled up the broken
steps in his impatience to reach the wide-open door. "Did you
like it--what I played? And did you know what I was playing?
Did you understand? Could you see the cloud-boats up in the sky,
and my Silver Lake down in the valley? And could you hear
the birds, and the winds in the trees, and the little brooks?
Could you? Oh, did you understand? I've so wanted to find some
one that could! But I would n't think that you--here--" With
a gesture, and an expression on his face that were unmistakable,
David came to a helpless pause.
    "There, Joe, what'd I tell you," cried the little girl, in
a husky whisper, darting to her brother's side. "Oh, why did you
make me get him here? Everybody says he's crazy as a loon,
    But the boy reached out a quickly silencing hand. His face
was curiously alight, as if from an inward glow. His eyes, still
widely intent, were staring straight ahead.
    "Stop, Betty, wait," he hushed her. "Maybe--I think I do
understand. Boy, you mean--inside of you, you see those things,
and then you try to make your fiddle tell what you are seeing.
Is that it?"
    "Yes, yes," cried David. "Oh, you do under-
stand. And I never thought you could. I never thought that
anybody could that did n't have anything to look at but him--but
these things."
    " 'Anything but these to look at'!" echoed the boy, with a
sudden anguish in his voice. "Anything but these! I guess if I
could see anything, I would n't mind what I see! An' you would
n't, neither, if you was--blind, like me."
    "Blind!" David fell back. Face and voice were full of
horror. "You mean you can't see--anything, with your eyes?"
    "Oh! I never saw any one blind before. There was one in a
book--but father took it away. Since then, in books down here,
I've found others--but--"
    "Yes, yes. Well, never mind that," cut in the blind boy,
growing restive under the pity in the other's voice. "Play.
Won't you?"
    "But how are you ever going to know what a beautiful world
it is?" shuddered David." How can you know? And how can you ever
play in tune? You're one of the instruments. Father said
everybody was. And he said everybody was playing something all
the time; and if you did n't play in tune--"
    "Joe, Joe, please," begged the little girl "Won't you let
him go? I'm afraid. I told you--"
    "Shucks, Betty! He won't hurt ye," laughed Joe, a little
irritably. Then to David he turned again with some sharpness.
    "Play, won't ye? You said you'd play!"
    "Yes, oh, yes, I'll play," faltered David, bringing his
violin hastily to position, and testing the strings with fingers
that shook a little.
    "There!" breathed Joe, settling back in his chair with a
contented sigh. "Now, play it again--what you did before."
    But David did not play what he did before--at first. There
were no airy cloud-boats, no far-reaching sky, no birds, or
murmuring forest brooks in his music this time. There were only
the poverty-stricken room, the dirty street, the boy alone at
the window, with his sightless eyes--the boy who never, never
would know what a beautiful world he lived in.
    Then suddenly to David came a new thought. This boy, Joe,
had said before that he understood. He had seemed to know that
he was being told of the sunny skies and the forest winds, the
singing birds and the babbling brooks. Perhaps again now he
would understand.
    What if, for those sightless eyes, one could create a
    Possibly never before had David played as he played then.
It was as if upon those four quivering strings, he was laying
the purple and gold of a thousand sunsets, the rose and amber of
a thousand sunrises, the green of a boundless earth, the blue of
a sky that reached to heaven itself--to make Joe understand.
    "Gee!" breathed Joe, when the music came to an end with a
crashing chord. "Say, wa'n't that just great? Won't you let me,
please, just touch that fiddle?" And David, looking into the
blind boy's exalted face, knew that Joe had indeed--understood.

                                 CHAPTER X
                          THE LADY OF THE ROSES

IT was a new world, indeed, that David created for Joe after
that--a world that had to do with entrancing music where once
was silence; delightful companionship where once was loneliness;
and toothsome cookies and doughnuts where once was hunger.
    The Widow Glaspell, Joe's mother, worked out by the day,
scrubbing and washing; and Joe, perforce, was left to the
somewhat erratic and decidedly unskillful ministrations of
Betty. Betty was no worse, and no better, than any other
untaught, irresponsible twelve-year-old girl, and it was not to
be expected, perhaps, that she would care to spend all the
bright sunny hours shut up with her sorely afflicted and
somewhat fretful brother. True, at noon she never failed to
appear and prepare something that passed for a dinner for
herself and Joe. But the Glaspell larder was frequently almost
as empty as were the hungry stomachs that looked to it for
refreshment; and it would have taken a far more skillful cook
than was the fly-away Betty to evolve anything from it that
was either palatable or satisfying.
    With the coming of David into Joe's life all this was
changed. First, there were the music and the companionship.
Joe's father had "played in the band" in his youth, and
(according to the Widow Glaspell) had been a "powerful hand for
music." It was from him, presumably, that Joe had inherited his
passion for melody and harmony; and it was no wonder that David
recognized so soon in the blind boy the spirit that made them
kin. At the first stroke of David's bow, indeed, the dingy walls
about them would crumble into nothingness, and together the two
boys were off in a fairy world of loveliness and joy.
    Nor was listening always Joe's part. From "just touching"
the violin--his first longing plea--he came to drawing a timid
bow across the strings. In an incredibly short time, then, he
was picking out bits of melody; and by the end of a fortnight
David had brought his father's violin for Joe to practice on.
    "I can't give it to you--not for keeps," David had
explained, a bit tremulously, "because it was daddy's, you know;
and when I see it, it seems almost as if I was seeing him. But
you may take it. Then you can have it here to play on whenever
you like."
    After that, in Joe's own hands lay the power to transport
himself into another world, for with the violin for company he
knew no loneliness.
    Nor was the violin all that David brought to the house.
There were the doughnuts and the cookies. Very early in his
visits David had discovered, much to his surprise, that Joe and
Betty were often hungry.
    "But why don't you go down to the store and buy something?"
he had queried at once.
    Upon being told that there was no money to buy with,
David's first impulse had been to bring several of the
gold-pieces the next time he came; but upon second thoughts
David decided that he did not dare. He was not wishing to be
called a thief a second time. It would be better, he concluded,
to bring some food from the house instead.
    In his mountain home everything the house afforded in the
way of food had always been freely given to the few strangers
that found their way to the cabin door. So now David
had no hesitation in going to Mrs. Holly's pantry for supplies,
upon the occasion of his next visit to Joe Glaspell's.
    Mrs. Holly, coming into the kitchen, found him merging from
the pantry with both hands full of cookies and doughnuts.
    "Why, David, what in the world does this mean?" she
    "They're for Joe and Betty," smiled David happily.
    "For Joe and--But those doughnuts and cookies don't belong
to you. They're mine!"
    "Yes, I know they are. I told them you had plenty," nodded
    "Plenty! What if I have?" remonstrated Mrs. Holly, in
growing indignation." That does n't mean that you can take--"
Something in David's face stopped the words half-spoken.
    "You don't mean that I can't take them to Joe and Betty, do
you? Why, Mrs. Holly, they're hungry! Joe and Betty are. They
don't have half enough to eat. Betty said so. And we've got more
than we want. There's food left on the table every day. Why, if
you were hungry, would n't you want somebody to bring--"
    But Mrs. Holly stopped him with a despairing gesture.
    "There, there, never mind. Run along. Of course you can
take them. I'm--I'm glad to have you," she finished, in a
desperate attempt to drive from David's face that look of
shocked incredulity with which he was still regarding her.
    Never again did Mrs. Holly attempt to thwart David's
generosity to the Glaspells; but she did try to regulate it. She
saw to it that thereafter, upon his visits to the house, he took
only certain things and a certain amount, and invariably things
of her own choosing.
    But not always toward the Glaspell shanty did David turn
his steps. Very frequently it was in quite another direction. He
had been at the Holly farmhouse three weeks when he found his
Lady of the Roses.
    He had passed quite through the village that day, and had
come to a road that was new to him. It was a beautiful road,
smooth, white, and firm. Two huge granite posts topped with
flaming nasturtiums marked the point where it turned off from
the main highway. Beyond these, as David soon found, it ran between
wide-spreading lawns and flowering shrubs, leading up the gentle
slope of a hill. Where it led to, David did not know, but he
proceeded unhesitatingly to try to find out. For some time he
climbed the slope in silence, his violin, mute, under his arm;
but the white road still lay in tantalizing mystery before him
when a by-path offered the greater temptation, and lured him to
explore its cool shadowy depths instead.
    Had David but known it, he was at Sunny-crest, Hinsdale's
one "show place," the country home of its one really rich
resident, Miss Barbara Holbrook. Had he also but known it, Miss
Holbrook was not celebrated for her graciousness to any
visitors, certainly not to those who ventured to approach her
otherwise than by a conventional ring at her front doorbell. But
David did not know all this; and he therefore very happily
followed the shady path until he came to the Wonder at the end
of it.
    The Wonder, in Hinsdale parlance, was only Miss Holbrook's
garden, but in David's eyes it was fairyland come true. For one
whole minute he could only stand like a very ordinary little boy
and stare. At the end of the minute he became himself once more;
and being himself, he expressed his delight at once in the only
way he knew how to do--by raising his violin and beginning to play.
    He had meant to tell of the limpid pool and of the arch of
the bridge it reflected; of the terraced lawns and marble steps,
and of the gleaming white of the sculptured nymphs and fauns; of
the splashes of glorious crimson, yellow, blush-pink, and snowy
white against the green, where the roses rioted in luxurious
bloom. He had meant, also, to tell of the Queen Rose of them
all--the beauteous lady with hair like the gold of sunrise, and
a gown like the shimmer of the moon on water--of all this he had
meant to tell; but he had scarcely begun to tell it at all when
the Beauteous Lady of the Roses sprang to her feet and became so
very much like an angry young woman who is seriously displeased
that David could only lower his violin in dismay.
    "Why, boy, what does this mean?" she demanded.
    David sighed a little impatiently as he came forward into
the sunlight.
    "But I was just telling you," he remonstrated, "and you
would not let me finish."
    "Telling me!"
    "Yes, with my violin. Could n't you understand?" appealed
the boy wistfully. "You looked as if you could!"
    "Looked as if I could!"
    "Yes. Joe understood, you see, and I was surprised when he
did. But I was just sure you could--with all this to look at."
    The lady frowned. Half-unconsciously she glanced about her
as if contemplating flight. Then she turned back to the boy.
    "But how came you here? Who are you?" she cried.
    "I'm David. I walked here through the little path back
there. I did n't know where it went to, but I'm so glad now I
found out!"
    "Oh, are you!" murmured the lady, with slightly uplifted
    She was about to tell him very coldly that now that he had
found his way there he might occupy himself in finding it home
again, when the boy interposed rapturously, his eyes sweeping
the scene before him:--
    "Yes. I did n't suppose, anywhere, down here, there was a
place one half so beautiful!"
    An odd feeling of uncanniness sent a swift exclamation to
the lady's lips.
    " 'Down here'! What do you mean by that? You speak as if
you came from--above," she almost laughed.
    "I did," returned David simply. "But even up there I never
found anything quite like this,"--with a sweep of his
hands,--"nor like you, O Lady of the Roses," he finished with an
admiration that was as open as it was ardent.
    This time the lady laughed outright. She even blushed a
    "Very prettily put, Sir Flatterer" she retorted; "but when
you are older, young man, you won't make your compliments quite
so broad. I am no Lady of the Roses. I am Miss Holbrook;
and--and I am not in the habit of receiving gentlemen callers
who are uninvited and--unannounced," she concluded, a little
    Pointless the shaft fell at David's feet. He had turned
again to the beauties about him, and at that moment he spied the
sundial--something he had never seen before.
    "What is it?" he cried eagerly, hurrying
forward. "It isn 't exactly pretty, and yet it looks as if 't
were meant for--something."
    "It is. It is a sundial. It marks the time by the sun."
    Even as she spoke, Miss Holbrook wondered why she answered
the question at all; why she did not send this small piece of
nonchalant impertinence about his business, as he so richly
deserved. The next instant she found herself staring at the boy
in amazement. With unmistakable ease, and with the trained
accent of the scholar, he was reading aloud the Latin
inscription on the dial: " 'Horas non numero nisi serenas,' 'I
count--no--hours but--unclouded ones,' " he translated then,
slowly, though with confidence. "That's pretty; but what does it
mean--about 'counting'?"
    Miss Holbrook rose to her feet.
    "For Heaven's sake, boy, who, and what are you?" she
demanded." Can you read Latin?"
    "Why, of course! Can't you?" With a disdainful gesture Miss
Holbrook swept this aside.
    "Boy, who are you?" she demanded again imperatively.
    "I'm David. I told you."
    "But David who? Where do you live?"
    The boy's face clouded.
    "I'm David--just David. I live at Farmer Holly's now; but
I did live on the mountain with--father, you know."
    A great light of understanding broke over Miss Holbrook's
face. She dropped back into her seat.
    "Oh, I remember," she murmured. "You're the little--er--boy
whom he took. I have heard the story. So that is who you are,"
she added, the old look of aversion coming back to her eyes. She
had almost said "the little tramp boy"--but she had stopped in
    "Yes. And now what do they mean, please,--those words,-- 'I
count no hours but unclouded ones'?"
    Miss Holbrook stirred in her seat and frowned.
    "Why, it means what it says, of course, boy. A sundial
counts its hours by the shadow the sun throws, and when there is
no sun there is no shadow; hence it's only the sunny hours that
are counted by the dial," she explained a little fretfully.
    David's face radiated delight.
    "Oh, but I like that!" he exclaimed. "You like it!"
    "Yes. I should like to be one myself, you know."
    "Well, really! And how, pray?" In spite of herself a faint
gleam of interest came into Miss Holbrook's eyes.
    David laughed and dropped himself easily to the ground at
her feet. He was holding his violin on his knees now.
    "Why, it would be such fun," he chuckled, "to just forget
all about the hours when the sun did n't shine, and remember
only the nice, pleasant ones. Now for me, there would n't be any
hours, really, until after four o'clock, except little specks of
minutes that I'd get in between when I did see something
    Miss Holbrook stared frankly.
    "What an extraordinary boy you are, to be sure," she
murmured. "And what, may I ask, is it that you do every day
until four o'clock, that you wish to forget? "
    David sighed.
    "Well, there are lots of things. I hoed potatoes and corn,
first, but they're too big now, mostly; and I pulled up weeds,
too, till they were gone. I've been picking up stones, lately,
and clearing up the yard. Then, of course, there's always the
woodbox to fill, and the eggs to hunt, besides the chickens to
feed,--though I don't mind them so much; but I do the other
things, 'specially the weeds. They were so much prettier than the
things I had to let grow, 'most always."
    Miss Holbrook laughed.
    "Well, they were; and really" persisted the boy, in answer
to the merriment in her eyes; "now would n't it be nice to be
like the sundial, and forget everything the sun did n't shine
on? Would n't you like it? Is n't there anything you want to
    Miss Holbrook sobered instantly. The change in her face was
so very marked, indeed, that involuntarily David looked about
for something that might have cast upon it so great a shadow.
For a long minute she did not speak; then very slowly, very
bitterly, she said aloud--yet as if to herself:--
    "Yes. If I had my way I'd forget them every one--these
hours; every single one!"
    "Oh, Lady of the Roses!" expostulated David in a voice
quivering with shocked dismay. "You don't mean--you can't mean
that you don't have any--sun!"
    "I mean just that," bowed Miss Holbrook wearily, her eyes
on the somber shadows of the pool; "just that!"
    David sat stunned, confounded. Across the marble steps and
the terraces the shadows lengthened, and David watched them as
the sun dipped behind the tree-tops. They seemed to make more
vivid the chill and the gloom of the lady's words--more real the
day that had no sun. After a time the boy picked up his violin
and began to play, softly, and at first with evident hesitation.
Even when his touch became more confident, there was still in
the music a questioning appeal that seemed to find no answer--an
appeal that even the player himself could not have explained.
    For long minutes the young woman and the boy sat thus in
the twilight. Then suddenly the woman got to her feet.
    "Come, come, boy, what can I be thinking of?" she cried
sharply." I must go in and you must go home. Good-night." And
she swept across the grass to the path that led toward the

                                CHAPTER XI
                               JACK AND JILL

DAVID was tempted to go for a second visit to his Lady of the
Roses, but something he could not define held him back. The lady
was in his mind almost constantly, however; and very vivid to
him was the picture of the garden, though always it was as he
had seen it last with the hush and shadow of twilight, and with
the lady's face gloomily turned toward the sunless pool. David
could not forget that for her there were no hours to count; she
had said it herself. He could not understand how this could be
so; and the thought filled him with vague unrest and pain.
    Perhaps it was this restlessness that drove David to
explore even more persistently the village itself, sending him
into new streets in search of something strange and interesting.
One day the sound of shouts and laughter drew him to an open lot
back of the church where some boys were at play.
    David still knew very little of boys. In his
mountain home he had never had them for playmates, and he had
not seen much of them when he went with his father to the
mountain village for supplies. There had been, it is true, the
boy who frequently brought milk and eggs to the cabin; but he
had been very quiet and shy, appearing always afraid and anxious
to get away, as if he had been told not to stay. More recently,
since David had been at the Holly farmhouse, his experience with
boys had been even less satisfying. The boys--with the exception
of blind Joe--had very clearly let it be understood that they
had little use for a youth who could find nothing better to do
than to tramp through the woods and the streets with a fiddle
under his arm.
    To-day, however, there came a change. Perhaps they were
more used to him; or perhaps they had decided suddenly that it
might be good fun to satisfy their curiosity, anyway, regardless
of consequences. Whatever it was, the lads hailed his appearance
with wild shouts of glee.
    "Golly, boys, look! Here's the fiddlin' kid," yelled one;
and the others joined in the "Hurrah!" he gave.
    David smiled delightedly; once more he had found some one
who wanted him--and it was so nice to be wanted! Truth to tell,
David had felt not a little hurt at the persistent avoidance of
all those boys and girls of his own age.
    "How--how do you do?" he said diffidently, but still with
that beaming smile.
    Again the boys shouted gleefully as they hurried forward.
Several had short sticks in their hands. One had an old tomato
can with a string tied to it. The tallest boy had something that
he was trying to hold beneath his coat.
    " 'H--how do you do?' " they mimicked. "How do you do,
fiddlin' kid?"
    "I'm David; my name is David." The reminder was graciously
given, with a smile.
    "David! David! His name is David," chanted the boys, as if
they were a comic-opera chorus.
    David laughed outright.
    "Oh, sing it again, sing it again!" he crowed. "That
sounded fine!"
    The boys stared, then sniffed disdainfully, and cast
derisive glances into each other's eyes--it appeared that this
little sissy tramp boy did not even know enough to discover
when he was being laughed at!
    "David! David! His name is David," they jeered into his
face again. "Come on, tune her up! We want ter dance."
    "Play? Of course I'll play," cried David joyously, raising
his violin and testing a string for its tone.
    "Here, hold on," yelled the tallest boy. "The Queen o' the
Ballet ain't ready". And he cautiously pulled from beneath his
coat a struggling kitten with a perforated bag tied over its
    "Sure! We want her in the middle," grinned the boy with the
tin can. "Hold on till I get her train tied to her," he
finished, trying to capture the swishing, fluffy tail of the
frightened little cat.
    David had begun to play, but he stopped his music with a
discordant stroke of the bow.
    "What are you doing? What is the matter with that cat?" he
    "'Matter'!" called a derisive voice. "Sure, nothin' 's the
matter with her. She's the Queen o' the Ballet--she is!"
    "What do you mean?" cried David. At that moment the string
bit hard into the captured tail, and the kitten cried out with
the pain. "Look out! You're hurting her," cautioned David
    Only a laugh and a jeering word answered. Then the kitten,
with the bag on its head and the tin can tied to its tail, was
let warily to the ground, the tall boy still holding its back
with both hands.
    "Ready, now! Come on, play," he ordered; "then we'll set
her dancing."
    David's eyes flashed.
    "I will not play--for that."
    The boys stopped laughing suddenly.
    "Eh? What?" They could scarcely have been more surprised if
the kitten itself had said the words.
    "I say I won't play--I can't play--unless you let that cat
    "Hoity-toity! Won't ye hear that now?" laughed a mocking
voice. "And what if we say we won't let her go, eh?"
    "Then I'll make you," vowed David, aflame with a newborn
something that seemed to have sprung full-grown into being.
    "Yow!" hooted the tallest boy, removing both hands from the
captive kitten.
    The kitten, released, began to back frantically. The can,
dangling at its heels, rattled and banged and thumped, until the
frightened little creature, crazed with terror, became nothing
but a whirling mass of misery. The boys, formed now into a
crowing circle of delight, kept the kitten within bounds, and
flouted David mercilessly.
    "Ah, ha!--stop us, will ye? Why don't ye stop us?" they
    For a moment David stood without movement, his eyes
staring. The next instant he turned and ran. The jeers became a
chorus of triumphant shouts then--but not for long. David had
only hurried to the woodpile to lay down his violin. He came
back then, on the run--and before the tallest boy could catch
his breath he was felled by a stinging blow on the jaw.
    Over by the church a small girl, red-haired and red-eyed,
clambered hastily over the fence behind which for long minutes
she had been crying and wringing her hands.
    "He'll be killed, he'll be killed," she moaned.
    "And it's my fault, 'cause it's my kitty--it's my kitty,"
she sobbed, straining her eyes to catch a glimpse of the
kitten's protector in the squirming mass of legs and arms.
    The kitten, unheeded now by the boys, was pursuing its
backward whirl to destruction some distance away, and very soon
the little girl discovered her. With a bound and a choking cry
she reached the kitten, removed the bag and unbound the cruel
string. Then, sitting on the ground, a safe distance away, she
soothed the palpitating little bunch of gray fur, and watched
with fearful eyes the fight.
    And what a fight it was! There was no question, of course,
as to its final outcome, with six against one; but meanwhile the
one was giving the six the surprise of their lives in the shape
of well-dealt blows and skillful twists and turns that caused
their own strength and weight to react upon themselves in a most
astonishing fashion. The one unmistakably was getting the worst
of it, however, when the little girl, after a hurried dash to
the street, brought back with her to the rescue a tall,
smooth-shaven young man whom she had hailed from afar as "Jack."
    Jack put a stop to things at once. With vigorous jerks and
pulls he unsnarled the writhing mass, boy by boy, each one of
whom, upon catching sight of his face, slunk hurriedly away, as
if glad to escape so lightly. There was left finally upon the
ground only David alone. But when David did at last appear, the
little girl burst into tears anew.
    "Oh, Jack, he's killed--I know he's killed," she wailed.
"And he was so nice and--and pretty. And now--look at him! Ain't
he a sight?"
    David was not killed, but he was--a sight. His blouse was
torn, his tie was gone, and his face and hands were covered with
dirt and blood. Above one eye was an ugly-looking lump, and
below the other was a red bruise. Somewhat dazedly he responded
to the man's helpful hand, pulled himself upright, and looked
about him. He did not see the little girl behind him.
    "Where's the cat?" he asked anxiously.
    The unexpected happened then. With a sobbing cry the little
girl flung herself upon him, cat and all.
    "Here, right here," she choked." And it was
you who saved her--my Juliette! And I'll love you, love you,
love you always for it!"
    "There, there, Jill," interposed the man a little
hurriedly. "Suppose we first show our gratitude by seeing if we
can't do something to make our young warrior here more
comfortable." And he began to brush off with his handkerchief
some of the accumulated dirt.
    "Why can't we take him home, Jack, and clean him up 'fore
other folks see him?" suggested the girl.
    The boy turned quickly.
    "Did you call him 'Jack'?"
    "And he called you, Jill'?"
    "The real 'Jack and Jill' that 'went up the hill'?" The man
and the girl laughed; but the girl shook her head as she
    "Not really--though we do go up a hill, all right, every
day. But those are n't even our own names. We just call each
other that for fun. Don't you ever call things--for fun?"
    David's face lighted up in spite of the dirt, the lump, and
the bruise.
    "Oh, do you do that?" he breathed." Say, I just know I'd
like to play to you! You'd understand!"
    "Oh, yes, and he plays, too," explained the little girl,
turning to the man rapturously. "On a fiddle, you know, like
    She had not finished her sentence before David was away,
hurrying a little unsteadily across the lot for his violin. When
he came back the man was looking at him with an anxious frown.
    "Suppose you come home with us, boy," he said. "It is n't
far--through the hill pasture, 'cross lots,--and we'll look you
over a bit. That lump over your eye needs attention."
    "Thank you," beamed David. "I'd like to go, and--I'm glad
you want me!" He spoke to the man, but he looked at the little
red-headed girl, who still held the gray kitten in her arms.

                                CHAPTER XII
                         ANSWERS THAT DID NOT ANSWER

"JACK and Jill," it appeared, were a brother and sister who
lived in a tiny house on a hill directly across the creek from
Sunnycrest. Beyond this David learned little until after bumps
and bruises and dirt had been carefully attended to. He had
then, too, some questions to answer eoncerning himself.
    "And now, if you please," began the man smilingly, as he
surveyed the boy with an eye that could see no further service
to be rendered, "do you mind telling me who you are, and how you
came to be the center of attraction for the blows and cuffs of
six boys?"
    "I'm David, and I wanted the cat," returned the boy simply.
    "Well, that's direct and to the point, to say the least,"
laughed the man. "Evidently, however, you're in the habit of
being that. But, David, there were six of them,--those
boys,--and some of them were larger than you."
    "Yes, sir."
    "And they were so bad and cruel," chimed in the little
    The man hesitated, then questioned slowly.
    "And may I ask you where you--er--learned to--fight like
    "I used to box with father. He said I must first be well
and strong. He taught me jiujitsu, too, a little; but I could
n't make it work very well--with so many"
    "I should say not," adjudged the man grimly. "But you gave
them a surprise or two, I'll warrant," he added, his eyes on the
cause of the trouble, now curled in a little gray bunch of
content on the window sill. "But I don't know yet who you are.
Who is your father? Where does he live?"
    David shook his head. As was always the case when his
father was mentioned, his face grew wistful and his eyes dreamy.
    "He does n't live here anywhere," murmured the boy. "In the
far country he is waiting for me to come to him and tell him of
the beautiful world I have found, you know."
    "Eh? What?" stammered the man, not knowing whether to
believe his eyes, or his ears. This boy who fought like a demon
and talked like a saint, and who, though battered and bruised,
prattled of the "beautiful world" he had found, was most
    "Why, Jack, don't you know?" whispered the little girl
agitatedly. "He's the boy at Mr. Holly's that they took." Then,
still more softly: "He's the little tramp boy. His father died
in the barn."
    "Oh," said the man, his face clearing, and his eyes showing
a quick sympathy. "You're the boy at the Holly farmhouse, are
    "Yes, sir."
    "And he plays the fiddle everywhere," volunteered the
little girl, with ardent admiration. "If you had n't been shut
up sick just now, you'd have heard him yourself. He plays
everywhere--everywhere he goes."
    "Is that so?" murmured Jack politely, shuddering a little
at what he fancied would come from a violin played by a boy like
the one before him. (Jack could play the violin himself a
little--enough to know it some, and love it more.)" Hm-m; well,
and what else do you do? "
    "Nothing, except to go for walks and read."
    "Nothing!--a big boy like you--and on Simeon Holly's farm?"
Voice and manner showed that Jack was not unacquainted with
Simeon Holly and his methods and opinions.
    David laughed gleefully.
    "Oh, of course, really I do lots of things, only I don't
count those any more. 'Horas non numero nisi serenas,' you
knew," he quoted pleasantly, smiling into the man's astonished
    "Jack, what was that--what he said?" whispered the little
girl. "It sounded foreign. Is he foreign?"
    "You've got me, Jill," retorted the man, with a laughing
grimace." Heaven only knows what he is--I don't. What he said
was Latin; I do happen to know that. Still"--he turned to the
boy ironically--"of course you know the translation of that," he
    "Oh, yes. 'I count no hours but unclouded ones'--and I
liked that. 'T was on a sundial, you know; and I'm going to be
a sundial, and not count, the hours I don't like--while I'm
pulling up weeds, and hoeing potatoes, and picking up stones,
and all that. Don't you see?"
    For a moment the man stared dumbly. Then he threw back his
head and laughed.
    "Well, by George!" he muttered. "By George!" And he laughed
again. Then: "And did your father teach you that, too?" he
    "Oh, no,--well, he taught me Latin, and so of course I
could read it when I found it. But those 'special words I got
off the sundial where my Lady of the Roses lives."
    "Your--Lady of the Roses! And who is she?"
    "Why, don't you know? You live right in sight of her
house," cried David, pointing to the towers of Sunnycrest that
showed above the trees. "It's over there she lives. I know those
towers now, and I look for them wherever I go. I love them. It
makes me see all over again the roses--and her."
    "You mean--Miss Holbrook?"
    The voice was so different from the genial tones that he
had heard before that David looked up in surprise.
    "Yes; she said that was her name," he answered, wondering
at the indefinable change that had come to the man's face.
    There was a moment's pause, then the man rose to his feet.
    "How's your head? Does it ache?" he asked briskly.
    "Not much--some. I--I think I'll be going," replied David,
a little awkwardly, reaching for his violin, and unconsciously
showing by his manner the sudden chill in the atmosphere.
    The little girl spoke then. She overwhelmed him again with
thanks, and pointed to the contented kitten on the window sill.
True, she did not tell him this time that she would love, love,
love him always; but she beamed upon him gratefully and she
urged him to come soon again, and often.
    David bowed himself off, with many a backward wave of the
hand, and many a promise to come again. Not until he had quite
reached the bottom of the hill did he remember that the man,
"Jack," had said almost nothing at the last. As David
recollected him, indeed, he had last been seen standing beside
one of the veranda posts, with gloomy eyes fixed on the towers
of Sunnycrest that showed red-gold above the tree-tops in the
last rays of the setting sun.
    It was a bad half-hour that David spent at
the Holly farmhouse in explanation of his torn blouse and
bruised face. Farmer Holly did not approve of fights, and he
said so, very sternly indeed. Even Mrs. Holly, who was usually
so kind to him, let David understand that he was in deep
disgrace, though she was very tender to his wounds.
    David did venture to ask her, however, before he went
upstairs to bed:--
    "Mrs. Holly, who are those people--Jack and Jill--that were
so good to me this afternoon?"
    "They are John Gurnsey and his sister, Julia; but the whole
town knows them by the names they long ago gave themselves,
'Jack' and 'Jill.' "
    "And do they live all alone in the little house?"
    "Yes, except for the Widow Glaspell, who comes in several
times a week, I believe, to cook and wash and sweep. They are
n't very happy, I'm afraid, David, and I'm glad you could rescue
the little girl's kitten for her--but you must n't fight. No
good can come of fighting!"
    "I got the cat--by fighting."
    "Yes, yes, I know; but--" She did not finish her sentence,
and David was only waiting for a pause to ask another question.
    "Why are n't they happy, Mrs. Holly?"
    "Tut, tut, David, it's a long story, and you would n't
understand it if I told it. It's only that they're all alone in
the world, and Jack Gurnsey is n't well. He must be thirty years
old now. He had bright hopes not so long ago studying law, or
something of the sort, in the city. Then his father died, and
his mother, and he lost his health. Something ails his lungs,
and the doctors sent him here to be out of doors. He even sleeps
out of doors, they say. Anyway, he's here, and he's making a
home for his sister; but, of course, with his hopes and
ambitions--But there, David, you don't understand, of course!"
    "Oh, yes, I do," breathed David, his eyes pensively turned
toward a shadowy corner. "He found his work out in the world,
and then he had to stop and could n't do it. Poor Mr. Jack!"

                                CHAPTER XIII
                            A SURPRISE FOR MR. JACK

LIFE at the Holly farmhouse was not what it had been. The coming
of David had introduced new elements that promised
complications. Not because he was another mouth to feed--Simeon
Holly was not worrying about that part any longer. Crops showed
good promise, and all ready in the bank even now was the
necessary money to cover the dreaded note, due the last of
August. The complicating elements in regard to David were of
quite another nature.
    To Simeon Holly the boy was a riddle to be sternly solved.
To Ellen Holly he was an everpresent reminder of the little boy
of long ago, and as such was to be loved and trained into a
semblance of what that boy might have become. To Perry Larson,
David was the "derndest checkerboard of sense an' nonsense goin'
"--a game over which to chuckle.
    At the Holly farmhouse they could not underderstand{sic} a
boy who would leave a supper for a sunset, or who preferred a
book to a toy pistol--as Perry Larson found out was the case
on the Fourth of July; who picked flowers, like a girl, for the
table, yet who unhesitatingly struck the first blow in a fight
with six antagonists: who would not go fishing because the
fishes would not like it, nor hunting for any sort of wild thing
that had life; who hung entranced for an hour over the
"millions of lovely striped bugs" in a field of early potatoes,
and who promptly and stubbornly refused to sprinkle those same
"lovely bugs" with Paris green when discovered at his worship.
All this was most perplexing, to say the least.
    Yet David worked, and worked well, and in most cases he
obeyed orders willingly. He learned much, too, that was
interesting and profitable; nor was he the only one that made
strange discoveries during those July days. The Hollys
themselves learned much. They learned that the rose of sunset
and the gold of sunrise were worth looking at; and that the
massing of the thunderheads in the west meant more than just a
shower. They learned, too, that the green of the hilltop and of
the far-reaching meadow was more than grass, and
that the purple haze along the horizon was more than the
mountains that lay between them and the next State. They were
beginning to see the world with David's eyes.
    There were, too, the long twilights and evenings when
David, on the wings of his violin, would speed away to his
mountain home, leaving behind him a man and a woman who seemed
to themselves to be listening to the voice of a curly-headed,
rosy-cheeked lad who once played at their knees and nestled in
their arms when the day was done. And here, too, the Hollys were
learning; though the thing thus learned was hidden deep in their
    It was not long after David's first visit that the boy went
again to "The House that Jack Built," as the Gurnseys called
their tiny home. (Though in reality it had been Jack's father
who had built the house. Jack and Jill, however, did not always
deal with realities.) It was not a pleasant afternoon. There was
a light mist inthe air, and David was without his violin.
    "I came to--to inquire for the cat--Juliette," he began, a
little bashfully. "I thought I'd rather do that than read
to-day," he explained to Jill in the doorway.
    "Good! I'm so glad! I hoped you'd come," the little girl
welcomed him." Come in and--and see Juliette," she added
hastily, remembering at the last moment that her brother had not
looked with entire favor on her avowed admiration for this
strange little boy.
    Juliette, roused from her nap, was at first inclined to
resent her visitor's presence. In five minutes, however, she was
purring in his lap.
    The conquest of the kitten once accomplished, David looked
about him a little restlessly. He began to wonder why he had
come. He wished he had gone to see Joe Glaapell instead. He
wished that Jill would not sit and stare at him like that. He
wished that she would say something--anything. But Jill,
apparently struck dumb with embarrassment, was nervously
twisting the corner of her apron into a little knot. David tried
to recollect what he had talked about a few days before, and he
wondered why he had so enjoyed himself then. He wished that
something would happen--anything!--and then from an inner room
came the sound of a violin.
    David raised his head.
    "It's Jack," stammered the little girl--who also had been
wishing something would happen. "He plays, same as you do, on
the violin."
    "Does he?" beamed David. "But--" He paused, listening, a
quick frown on his face.
    Over and over the violin was playing a single phrase--and
the variations in the phrase showed the indecision of the
fingers and of the mind that controlled them. Again and again
with irritating sameness, yet with a still more irritating
difference, came the succession of notes. And then David sprang
to his feet, placing Juliette somewhat unceremoniously on the
floor, much to that petted young autocrat's disgust.
    "Here, where is he? Let me show him," cried the boy, and at
the note of command in his voice, Jill involuntarily rose and
opened the door to Jack's den.
    "Oh, please, Mr. Jack," burst out David, hurrying into the
room. "Don't you see? You don't go at that thing right. If
you'll just let me show you a minute, we'll have it fixed in no
    The man with the violin stared, and lowered
his bow. A slow red came to his face. The phrase was peculiarly
a difficult one, and beyond him, as he knew; but that did not
make the present intrusion into his privacy any the more
    "Oh, will we, indeed!" he retorted, a little sharply."
Don't trouble yourself, I beg of you, boy."
    "But it is n't a mite of trouble, truly," urged David, with
an ardor that ignored the sarcasm in the other's words. "I want
to do it."
    Despite his annoyance, the man gave a short laugh.
    "Well, David, I believe you. And I'll warrant you'd tackle
this Brahms concerto as nonchalantly as you did those six
hoodlums with the cat the other day--and expect to win out,
    "But, truly, this is easy, when you know how," laughed the
boy. "See!"
    To his surprise, the man found himself relinquishing the
violin and bow into the slim, eager hands that reached for them.
The next moment he fell back in amazement. Clear, distinct, yet
connected like a string of rounded pearls fell the troublesome
notes from David's bow. "You see," smiled the boy again, and
played the phrase a second time, more slowly, and with deliberate
emphasis at the difficult part. Then, as if in answer to some
irresistible summons within him, he dashed into the next phrase
and, with marvelous technique, played quite through the rippling
cadenza that completed the movement.
    "Well, by George!" breathed the man dazedly, as he took the
offered violin. The next moment he had demanded vehemently: "For
Heaven's sake, who are you, boy?"
    David's face wrinkled in grieved surprise.
    "Why, I'm David. Don't you remember? I was here just the
other day!"
    "Yes, yes; but who taught you to play like that?"
    " 'Father'!" The man echoed the word with a gesture of
comic despair. "First Latin, then jiujitsu, and now the violin!
Boy, who was your father?"
    David lifted his head and frowned a little. He had been
questioned so often, and so unsympathetically, about his father
that he was beginning to resent it.
    "He was daddy--just daddy; and I loved him dearly."
    "But what was his name?"
    "I don't know. We did n't seem to have a name like--like
yours down here. Anyway, if we did, I did n't know what it was."
    "But, David,"--the man was speaking very gently now. He had
motioned the boy to a low seat by his side. The little girl was
standing near, her eyes alight with wondering interest. "He must
have had a name, you know, just the same. Did n't you ever hear
any one call him anything? Think, now."
    "No." David said the single word, and turned his eyes away.
It had occurred to him, since he had come to live in the valley,
that perhaps his father did not want to have his name known. He
remembered that once the milk-and-eggs boy had asked what to
call him; and his father had laughed and answered: "I don't see
but you'll have to call me 'The Old Man of the Mountain,' as
they do down in the village." That was the only time David could
recollect hearing his father say anything about his name. At the
time David had not thought much about it. But since then, down
here where they appeared to think a name was so important, he had
wondered if possibly his father had not preferred to keep his to
himself. If such were the case, he was glad now that he did not
know this name, so that he might not have to tell all these
inquisitive people who asked so many questions about it. He was
glad, too, that those men had not been able to read his father's
name at the end of his other note that first morning--if his
father really did not wish his name to be known.
    "But, David, think. Where you lived, was n't there ever
anybody who called him by name?"
    David shook his head.
    "I told you. We were all alone, father and I, in the little
house far up on the mountain."
    "And--your mother?" Again David shook his head.
    "She is an angel-mother, and angel-mothers don't live in
houses, you know."
    There was a moment's pause; then gently the man asked:--
    "And you always lived there?"
    "Six years, father said."
    "And before that?"
    "I don't remember." There was a touch of injured reserve in
the boy's voice which the man was quick to perceive. He took the
hint at once.
    "He must have been a wonderful man--your father!" he
    The boy turned, his eyes luminous with feeling.
    "He was--he was perfect! But they--down here--don't seem to
know--or care," he choked.
    "Oh, but that's because they don't understand," soothed the
man. "Now, tell me--you must have practiced a lot to play like
    "I did--but I liked it."
    "And what else did you do? and how did you happen to
come--down here?"
    Once again David told his story, more fully, perhaps, this
time than ever before, because of the sympathetic ears that were
    "But now" he finished wistfully, "it's all, so different,
and I'm down here alone. Daddy went, you know, to the far
country; and he can't come back from there."
    "Who told you--that?"
    "Daddy himself. He wrote it to me."
    "Wrote it to you!" cried the man, sitting suddenly erect.
    "Yes. It was in his pocket, you see. They--found it."
David's voice was very low, and not quite steady.
    "David, may I see--that letter?"
    The boy hesitated; then slowly he drew it from his pocket.
    "Yes, Mr. Jack. I'll let you see it."
    Reverently, tenderly, but very eagerly the man took the
note and read it through, hoping somewhere to find a name that
would help solve the mystery. With a sigh he handed it back. His
eyes were wet.
    "Thank you, David. That is a beautiful letter," he said
softly. "And I believe you'll do it some day, too. You'll go to
him with your violin at your chin and the bow drawn across the
strings to tell him of the beautiful world you have found."
    "Yes, sir," said David simply. Then, with a suddenly
radiant smile: "And now I can't help finding it a beautiful
world, you know, 'cause I don't count the hours I don't like."
    "You don't what?--oh, I remember," re-
turned Mr. Jack, a quick change coming to his face.
    "Yes, the sundial, you know, where my Lady of the Roses
    "Jack, what is a sundial?" broke in Jill eagerly.
    Jack turned, as if in relief.
    "Hullo, girlie, you there?--and so still all this time? Ask
David. He'll tell you what a sundial is. Suppose, anyhow, that
you two go out on the piazza now. I've got--er-some work to do.
And the sun itself is out; see?--through the trees there. It
came out just to say 'good-night,' I'm sure. Run along, quick!"
And he playfully drove them from the room.
    Alone, he turned and sat down at his desk. His work was
before him, but he did not do it. His eyes were out of the
window on the golden tops of the towers of Sunnycrest.
Motionless, he watched them until they turned gray-white in the
twilight. Then he picked up his pencil and began to write
feverishly. He went to the window, however, as David stepped off
the veranda, and called merrily:--"
    Remember, boy, that when there's another
note that baffles me, I'm going to send for you."
    "He's coming anyhow. I asked him," announced Jill.
     And David laughed back a happy "Of course I am!"

                                CHAPTER XIV
                              THE TOWER WINDOW

IT is not to be expected that when one's thoughts lead so
persistently to a certain place, one's feet will not follow, if
they can; and David's could--so he went to seek his Lady of the
    At four o'clock one afternoon, with his violin under his
arm, he traveled the firm white road until he came to the
shadowed path that led to the garden. He had decided that he
would go exactly as he went before. He expected, in consequence,
to find his Lady exactly as he had found her before, sitting
reading under the roses. Great was his surprise and
disappointment, therefore, to find the garden with no one in it.
    He had told himself that it was the sundial, the roses, the
shimmering pool, the garden itself that he wanted to see; but he
knew now that it was the lady--his Lady of the Roses. He did not
even care to play, though all around him was the beauty that had
at first so charmed his eye. Very slowly he walked across the
sunlit, empty space, and entered the path that led to the house.
In his mind was no definite plan; yet he walked on and on, until
he came to the wide lawns surrounding the house itself. He
stopped then, entranced.
    Stone upon stone the majestic pile raised itself until it
was etched, clean-cut, against the deep blue of the sky. The
towers--his towers--brought to David's lips a cry of delight.
They were even more enchanting here than when seen from afar
over the tree-tops, and David gazed up at them in awed wonder.
From somewhere came the sound of music--a curious sort of music
that David had never heard before. He listened intently, trying
to place it; then slowly he crossed the lawn, ascended the
imposing stone steps, and softly opened one of the narrow screen
doors before the wide-open French window.
    Once within the room David drew a long breath of ecstasy.
Beneath his feet he felt the velvet softness of the green moss
of the woods. Above his head he saw a sky-like canopy of blue
carrying fleecy clouds on which floated little pink-and-white
children with wings, just as David himself had so often wished
that he could float. On all sides silken hangings, like the
green of swaying vines, half-hid other hangings of feathery,
snowflake lace. Everywhere mirrored walls caught the light and
reflected the potted ferns and palms so that David looked down
endless vistas of loveliness that seemed for all the world like
the long sunflecked aisles beneath the tall pines of his
mountain home.
    The music that David had heard at first had long since
stopped; but David had not noticed that. He stood now in the
center of the room, awed, and trembling, but enraptured. Then
from somewhere came a voice--a voice so cold that it sounded as
if it had swept across a field of ice.
    "Well, boy, when you have quite finished your inspection,
perhaps you will tell me to what I am indebted for this visit,"
it said.
    David turned abruptly.
    "O Lady of the Roses, why did n't you tell me it was like
this--in here?" he breathed.
    "Well, really," murmured the lady in the doorway, stiffly,
"it had not occurred to me that that was hardly--necessary."
    "But it was!--don't you see? This is new, all new. I never
saw anything like it before; and I do so love new things. It
gives me something new to play; don't you understand?"
    "New--to play?"
    "Yes--on my violin," explained David, a little
breathlessly, softly testing his violin. "There's always
something new in this, you know," he hurried on, as he tightened
one of the strings, "when there's anything new outside. Now,
listen! You see I don't know myself just how it's going to
sound, and I'm always so anxious to find out." And with a
joyously rapt face he began to play.
    "But, see here, boy,--you must n't! You--" The words died
on her lips; and, to her unbounded amazement, Miss Barbara
Holbrook, who had intended peremptorily to send this persistent
little tramp boy about his business, found herself listening to
a melody so compelling in its sonorous beauty that she was left
almost speechless at its close. It was the boy who spoke.
    "There, I told you my violin would know what to say!"
    " 'What to say'!--well, that's more than I
do" laughed Miss Holbrook, a little hysterically. "Boy, come
here and tell me who you are." And she led the way to a low
divan that stood near a harp at the far end of the room.
    It was the same story, told as David had told it to Jack
and Jill a few days before, only this time David's eyes were
roving admiringly all about the room, resting oftenest on the
harp so near him.
    "Did that make the music that I heard?" he asked eagerly,
as soon as Miss Holbrook's questions gave him opportunity. "It's
got strings."
    "Yes. I was playing when you came in. I saw you enter the
window. Really, David, are you in the habit of walking into
people's houses like this? It is most disconcerting--to their
    "Yes--no--well, sometimes." David's eyes were still on the
harp. "Lady ofthe Roses, won't you please play again--on that?"
    "David, you are incorrigible! Why did you come into my
house like this?"
    "The music said 'come'; and the towers, too. You see, I
know the towers."
    "You know them!"
    "Yes. I can see them from so many places, and I always
watch for them. They show best of anywhere, though, from Jack
and Jill's. And now won't you play?"
    Miss Holbrook had almost risen to her feet when she turned
    "From--where?" she asked. "From Jack and Jill's--the House
that Jack Built, you know."
    "You mean--Mr. John Gurnsey's house?" A deeper color had
come into Miss Holbrook's cheeks.
    "Yes. Over there at the top of the little hill across the
brook, you know. You can't see their house from here, but from
over there we can see the towers finely, and the little
window--Oh, Lady of the Roses," he broke off excitedly, at the
new thought that had come to him, "if we, now, were in that
little window, we could see their house. Let's go up. Can't we?"
    Explicit as this was, Miss Holbrook evidently did not hear,
or at least did not understand, this request. She settled back
on the divan, indeed, almost determinedly. Her cheeks were very
red now.
    "And do you know--this Mr. Jack?" she asked lightly.
    "Yes, and Jill, too. Don't you? I like them, too. Do you
know them?"
    Again Miss Holbrook ignored the question put to her. "And
did you walk into their house, unannounced and uninvited, like
this?" she queried.
    "No. He asked me. You see he wanted to get off some of the
dirt and blood before other folks saw me."
     "The dirt and--and--why, David, what do you mean? What was
it--an accident?"
    David frowned and reflected a moment.
    "No. I did it on purpose. I had to, you see," he finally
elucidated. "But there were six of them, and I got the worst of
    "David!" Miss Holbrook's voice was horrified. "You don't
mean--a fight!"
    "Yes'm. I wanted the cat--and I got it, but I would n't
have if Mr. Jack had n't come to help me."
    "Oh! So Mr. Jack--fought, too?"
    "Well, he pulled the others off, and of course that helped
me," explained David truthfully. "And then he took me home--he
and Jill."
    "Jill! Was she in it?"
    "No, only her cat. They had tied a bag over its head and a
tin can to its tail, and of course I could n't let them do that.
They were hurting her. And now, Lady of the Roses, won't you
please play?"
    For a moment Miss Holbrook did not speak. She was gazing at
David with an odd look in her eyes. At last she drew a long
    "David, you are the--the limit!" she breathed, as she rose
and seated herself at the harp.
    David was manifestly delighted with her playing, and begged
for more when she had finished; but Miss Holbrook shook her
head. She seemed to have grown suddenly restless, and she moved
about the room calling David's attention to something new each
moment. Then, very abruptly, she suggested that they go
upstairs. From room to room she hurried the boy, scarcely
listening to his ardent comments, or answering his still more
ardent questions. Not until they reached the highest tower room,
indeed, did she sink wearily into a chair, and seem for a moment
at rest.
    David looked about him in surprise. Even
his untrained eye could see that he had entered a different
world. There were no sumptuous rugs, no silken hangings; no
mirrors, no snowflake curtains. There were books, to be sure,
but besides those there were only a plain low table, a
work-basket, and three or four wooden-seated though comfortable
chairs. With increasing wonder he looked into Miss Holbrook's
    "Is it here that you stay--all day?" he asked diffidently.
    Miss Holbrook's face turned a vivid scarlet.
    "Why, David, what a question! Of course not! Why should you
think I did?"
    "Nothing; only I've been wondering all the time I've been
here how you could--with all those beautiful things around you
downstairs--say what you did."
    "Say what?--when?"
    "That other day in the garden--about all your hours being
cloudy ones. So I did n't know to-day but what you lived up
here, same as Mrs. Holly does n't use her best rooms; and that
was why your hours were all cloudy ones."
    With a sudden movement Miss Holbrook rose to her feet.
    "Nonsense, David! You should n't always remember everything
that people say to you. Come, you have n't seen one of the views
from the windows yet. We are in the larger tower, you know. You
can see Hinsdale village on this side, and there's a fine view
of the mountains over there. Oh yes, and from the other side
there's your friend's house--Mr. Jack's. By the way, how is Mr.
Jack these days?" Miss Holbrook stooped as she asked the
question and picked up a bit of thread from the rug.
    David ran at once to the window that looked toward the
House that Jack Built. From the tower the little house appeared
to be smaller than ever. It was in the shadow, too, and looked
strangely alone and forlorn. Unconsciously, as he gazed at it,
David compared it with the magnificence he had just seen. His
voice choked as he answered.
    "He is n't well, Lady of the Roses, and he's unhappy. He's
awfully unhappy."
    Miss Holbrook's slender figure came up with a jerk.
    "What do you mean, boy? How do you know he's unhappy? Has
he said so?"
    "No; but Mrs. Holly told me about him.
He's sick; and he'd just found his work to do out in the world
when he had to stop and come home. But--oh, quick, there he is!
    Instead of coming nearer Miss Holbrook fell back to the
center of the room; but her eyes were still turned toward the
little house.
    "Yes, I see," she murmured. The next instant she had
snatched a handkerchief from David's outstretched hand.
"No--no--I would n't wave," she remonstrated hurriedly.
"Come--come downstairs with me."
    "But I thought--I was sure he was looking this way,"
asserted David, turning reluctantly from the window. "And if he
had seen me wave to him, he'd have been so glad; now, would n't
    There was no answer. The Lady of the Roses did not
apparently hear. She had gone on down the stairway.

                                CHAPTER XV

DAVID had so much to tell Jack and Jill that he went to see them
the very next day after his second visit to Sunnycrest. He
carried his violin with him. He found, however, only Jill at
home. She was sitting on the veranda steps.
    There was not so much embarrassment between them this time,
perhaps because they were in the freedom of the wide
out-of-doors, and David felt more at ease. He was plainly
disappointed, however, that Mr. Jack was not there.
    "But I wanted to see him! I wanted to see him 'specially,"
he lamented.
    "You'd better stay, then. He'll be home by and by,"
comforted Jill. "He's gone pot-boiling."
    "Pot-boiling! What's that?" Jill chuckled..
    "Well, you see, really it's this way: he sells something to
boil in other people's pots so he can have something to boil in
ours, he says. It's stuff from the garden, you know. We raise it
to sell. Poor Jack--and he does hate it so!"
    David nodded sympathetically.
    "I know--and it must be awful, just hoeing and weeding all
the time."
    "Still, of course he knows he's got to do it, because it's
out of doors, and he just has to be out of doors all he can,"
rejoined the girl. "He's sick, you know, and sometimes he's so
unhappy! He does n't say much. Jack never says much--only with
his face. But I know, and it--it just makes me want to cry."
    At David's dismayed exclamation Jill jumped to her feet. It
owned to her suddenly that she was telling this unknown boy
altogether too many of the family secrets. She proposed at once
a race to the foot of the hill; and then, to drive David's mind
still farther away from the subject under recent consideration,
she deliberately lost, and proclaimed him the victor.
    Very soon, however, there arose new complications in the
shape of a little gate that led to a path which, in its turn,
led to a footbridge across the narrow span of the little stream.
    Above the trees on the other side peeped the top of
Sunnycrest's highest tower.
    "To the Lady of the Roses!" cried David eagerly. "I know it
goes there. Come, let's see!"
    The little girl shook her head.
    "I can't."
    "Why not?"
    "Jack won't let me."
    "But it goes to a beautiful place; I was there yesterday,"
argued David. "And I was up in the tower and almost waved to Mr.
Jack on the piazza back there. I saw him. And maybe she'd let
you and me go up there again to-day."
    "But I can't, I say," repeated Jill, a little impatiently.
"Jack won't let me even start."
    "Why not? Maybe he does n't know where it goes to."
    Jill hung her head. Then she raised it defiantly.
    "Oh, yes, he does, 'cause I told him. I used to go when I
was littler and he was n't here. I went once, after he
came,--halfway,--and he saw me and called to me. I had got
halfway across the bridge, but I had to come back. He was very
angry, yet sort of--queer, too. His face was all stern and white,
and his lips snapped tight shut after every word. He said never,
never, never to let him find me the other side of that gate."
    David frowned as they turned to go up the hill.
Unhesitatingly he determined to instruct Mr. Jack in this little
matter. He would tell him what a beautiful place Sunnycrest was,
and he would try to convince him how very desirable it was that
he and Jill, and even Mr. Jack himself, should go across the
bridge at the very first opportunity that offered.
    Mr. Jack came home before long, but David quite forgot to
speak of the footbridge just then, chiefly because Mr. Jack got
out his violin and asked David to come in and play a duet with
him. The duet, however, soon became a solo, for so great was Mr.
Jack's delight in David's playing that he placed before the boy
one sheet of music after another, begging and still begging for
    David, nothing loath, played on and on. Most of the music
he knew, having already learned it in his mountain home. Like
old friends the melodies seemed, and so glad was David to see
their notes again that he finished each production with a
little improvised cadenza of ecstatic welcome--to Mr. Jack's
increasing surprise and delight.
    "Great Scott! you're a wonder, David," he exclaimed, at
    "Pooh! as if that was anything wonderful," laughed the boy.
"Why, I knew those ages ago, Mr. Jack. It's only that I'm so
glad to see them again--the notes, you know. You see, I have n't
any music now. It was all in the bag (what we brought), and we
left that on the way."
    "You left it!"
    "Yes, 't was so, heavy" murmured David abstractedly, his
fingers busy with the pile of music before him. "Oh, and here's
another one," he cried exultingly. "This is where the wind
sighs, oou--oou--oou' through the pines. Listen!" And he was
away again on the wings of his violin. When he had returned Mr.
Jack drew a long breath."
    David, you are a wonder," he declared again. "And that
violin of yours is a wonder, too, if I'm not mistaken,--though
I don't know enough to tell whether it's really a rare one or
not. Was it your father's?"
    "Oh, no. He had one, too, and they both are good ones.
Father said so. Joe's got father's now."
    "Joe Glaspell."
    "You don't mean Widow Glaspell's Joe, the blind boy? I did
n't know he could play."
    "He could n't till I showed him. But he likes to hear me
play. And he understood--right away, I mean."
    "What I was playing, you know. And he was almost the first
one that did--since father went away. And now I play every time
I go there. Joe says he never knew before how trees and grass
and sunsets and sunrises and birds and little brooks did look,
till I told him with my violin. Now he says he thinks he can see
them better than I can, because as long as his outside eyes
can't see anything, they can't see those ugly things all around
him, and so he can just make his inside eyes see only the
beautiful things that he'd like to see. And that's the kind he
does see when I play. That's why I said he understood."
    For a moment there was silence. In Mr.
Jack's eyes there was an odd look as they rested on David's
face. Then, abruptly, he spoke.
    "David, I wish I had money. I'd put you then where you
belonged," he sighed.
    "Do you mean--where I'd find my work to do?" asked the boy
    "Well--yes; you might say it that way," smiled the man,
after a moment's hesitation--not yet was Mr. Jack quite used to
this boy who was at times so very un-boylike.
    "Father told me 't was waiting for me--somewhere."
    Mr. Jack frowned thoughtfully.
    "And he was right, David. The only trouble is, we like to
pick it out for ourselves, pretty well,--too well, as we find
out sometimes, when we're called off--for another job."
    "I know, Mr. Jack, I know," breathed David. And the man,
looking into the glowing dark eyes, wondered at what he found
there. It was almost as if the boy really understood about his
own life's disappointment--and cared; though that, of course,
could not be!"
    And it's all the harder to keep ourselves in tune then,
too, is n't it?" went on David, a little wistfully.
    "In tune?"
    "With the rest of the Orchestra."
    "Oh!" And Mr. Jack, who had already heard about the
"Orchestra of Life," smiled a bit sadly. "That's just it, my
boy. And if we're handed another instrument to play on than the
one we want to play on, we're apt to--to let fly a discord.
Anyhow, I am. But"--he went on more lightly--"now, in your case,
David, little as I know about the violin, I know enough to
understand that you ought to be where you can take up your study
of it again; where you can hear good music, and where you can be
among those who know enough to appreciate what you do."
    David's eyes sparkled.
    "And where there would n't be any pulling weeds or hoeing
    "Well, I had n't thought of including either of those
    "My, but I would like that, Mr. Jack!--but that would n't
be work, so that could n't be what father meant." David's face
    "Hm-m; well, I would n't worry about the 'work' part,"
laughed Mr. Jack, "particularly as you are n't going to do it
just now. There's the money, you know,--and we have n't got that."
    "And it takes money?"
    "Well--yes. You can't get those things here in Hinsdale,
you know; and it takes money, to get away, and to live away
after you get there."
    A sudden light transfigured David's face.
    "Mr. Jack, would gold do it?--lots of little round
    "I think it would, David, if there were enough of them."
    "Many as a hundred?"
    "Sure--if they were big enough. Anyway, David, they'd start
you, and I'm thinking you would n't need but a start before
you'd be coining gold-pieces of your own out of that violin of
yours. But why? Anybody you know got as 'many as a hundred'
gold-pieces he wants to get rid of?"
    For a moment David, his delighted thoughts flying to the
gold-pieces in the chimney cupboard of his room, was tempted to
tell his secret. Then he remembered the woman with the bread and
the pail of milk, and decided not to. He would wait. When he
knew Mr. Jack better--perhaps then he would tell; but not now.
Now Mr. Jack might think he was a thief, and that he could not
bear. So he took up his violin and began to play; and in the
charm of the music Mr. Jack seemed to forget the gold-pieces--
which was exactly what David had intended should happen.
    Not until David had said good-bye some time later, did he
remember the purpose--the special purpose--for which he had
come. He turned back with a radiant face.
    "Oh, and Mr. Jack, I 'most forgot," he cried. "I was going
to tell you. I saw you yesterday--I did, and I almost waved to
    "Did you? Where were you?"
    "Over there in the window--the tower window" he crowed
    "Oh, you went again, then, I suppose, to see Miss
    The man's voice sounded so oddly cold and distant that
David noticed it at once. He was reminded suddenly of the gate
and the footbridge which Jill was forbidden to cross; but he
dared not speak of it then--not when Mr. Jack looked like that.
He did say, however:--
    "Oh, but, Mr. Jack, it's such a beautiful place! You don't
know what a beautiful place it is."
    "Is it? Then, you like it so much?"
    "Oh, so much! But--did n't you ever--see it?"
     "Why, yes, I believe I did, David, long ago," murmured Mr.
Jack with what seemed to David amazing indifference.
    "And did you see her--my Lady of the Roses?"
    "Why, y--yes--I believe so."
    "And is that all you remember about it?" resented David,
highly offended.
    The man gave a laugh--a little short, hard laugh that David
did not like.
    "But, let me see; you said you almost waved, did n't you?
Why did n't you, quite?" asked the man.
    David drew himself suddenly erect. Instinctively he felt
that his Lady of the Roses needed defense.
    "Because she did n't want me to; so I did n't, of course,"
he rejoined with dignity. "She took away my handkerchief."
    "I'll warrant she did," muttered the man,
behind his teeth. Aloud he only laughed again, as he turned
    David went on down the steps, dissatisfied vaguely with
himself, with Mr. Jack, and even with the Lady of the Roses.

                                CHAPTER XVI
                           DAVID'S CASTLE IN SPAIN

ON his return from the House that Jack Built, David decided to
count his gold-pieces. He got them out at once from behind the
books, and stacked them up in little shining rows. As he had
surmised, there were a hundred of them. There were, indeed, a
hundred and six. He was pleased at that. One hundred and six
were surely enough to give him a "start."
    A start! David closed his eyes and pictured it. To go on
with his violin, to hear good music, to be with people who
understood what he said when he played! That was what Mr. Jack
had said a "start" was. And this gold--these round shining bits
of gold--could bring him this! David swept the little piles into
a jingling heap, and sprang to his feet with both fists full of
his suddenly beloved wealth. With boyish glee he capered about
the room, jingling the coins in his hands. Then, very soberly,
he sat down again, and began to gather the gold to put away.
    He would be wise--he would be sensible. He would watch his
chance, and when it came he would go away. First, however, he
would tell Mr. Jack and Joe, and the Lady of the Roses; yes, and
the Hollys, too. Just now there seemed to be work, real work
that he could do to help Mr. Holly. But later, possibly when
September came and school,--they had said he must go to
school,--he would tell them then, and go away instead. He would
see. By that time they would believe him, perhaps, when he
showed the gold-pieces. They would not think he had--stolen
them. It was August now; he would wait. But meanwhile he could
think--he could always be thinking of the wonderful thing that
this gold was one day to bring to him.
    Even work, to David, did not seem work now. In the morning
he was to rake hay behind the men with the cart. Yesterday he
had not liked it very well; but now--nothing mattered now. And
with a satisfied sigh David put his precious gold away again
behind the books in the cupboard.
    David found a new song in his violin the next morning. To
be sure, he could not play it--much of it--until four o'clock
in the afternoon came; for Mr. Holly did not like violins to
be played in the morning, even on days that were not especially
the Lord's. There was too much work to do. So David could only
snatch a strain or two very, very softly, while he was dressing;
but that was enough to show him what a beautiful song it was
going to be. He knew what it was, at once, too. It was the
gold-pieces, and what they would bring. All through the day it
tripped through his consciousness, and danced tantalizingly just
out of reach. Yet he was wonderfully happy, and the day seemed
short in spite of the heat and the weariness.
    At four o'clock he hurried home and put his violin quickly
in tune. It came then--that dancing sprite of tantalization--and
joyously abandoned itself to the strings of the violin, so that
David knew, of a surety, what a beautiful song it was.
    It was this song that sent him the next afternoon to see
his Lady of the Roses. He found her this time out of doors in
her garden. Unceremoniously, as usual, he rushed headlong into
her presence.
    "Oh, Lady--Lady of the Roses," he panted.
"I've found out, and I came quickly to tell you."
    "Why, David, what--what do you mean?" Miss Holbrook looked
unmistakably startled.
    "About the hours, you know,--the unclouded ones," explained
David eagerly. "You know you said they were all cloudy to you."
    Miss Holbrook's face grew very white.
    "You mean--you've found out why my hours are--are all
cloudy ones?" she stammered.
    "No, oh, no. I can't imagine why they are," returned David,
with an emphatic shake of his head. "It's just that I've found
a way to make all my hours sunny ones, and you can do it, too.
So I came to tell you. You know you said yours were all cloudy."
    "Oh," ejaculated Miss Holbrook, falling back into her old
listless attitude. Then, with some asperity: "Dear me, David!
Did n't I tell you not to be remembering that all the time?"
    "Yes, I know, but I've learned something," urged the boy;
"something that you ought to know. You see, I did think, once,
that because you had all these beautiful things around you,
the hours ought to be all sunny ones. But now I know it is n't
what's around you; it's what is in you!"
    "Oh, David, David, you curious boy!"
    "No, but really! Let me tell you," pleaded David. "You know
I have n't liked them,--all those hours till four o'clock
came,--and I was so glad, after I saw the sundial, to find out
that they did n't count, anyhow. But to-day they have
counted--they've all counted, Lady of the Roses; and it's just
because there was something inside of me that shone and shone,
and made them all sunny--those hours."
    "Dear me! And what was this wonderful thing?"
    David smiled, but he shook his head.
    "I can't tell you that yet--in words; but I'll play it. You
see, I can't always play them twice alike,--those little songs
that I find,--but this one I can. It sang so long in my head,
before my violin had a chance to tell me what it really was,
that I sort of learned it. Now, listen!" And be began to play.
    It was, indeed, a beautiful song, and Miss Holbrook said so
with promptness and enthusiasm; yet still David frowned.
    "Yes, yes," he answered, "but don't you see? That was
telling you about something inside of me that made all my hours
sunshiny ones. Now, what you want is something inside of you to
make yours sunshiny, too. Don't you see?"
    An odd look came into Miss Holbrook's eyes.
    "That's all very well for you to say, David, but you have
n't told me yet, you know, just what it is that's made all this
brightness for you."
    The boy changed his position, and puckered his forehead
into a deeper frown.
    "I don't seem to explain so you can understand," he sighed.
"It is n't the special thing. It's only that it's something. And
it's thinking about it that does it. Now, mine would n't make
yours shine, but--still,"--he broke off, a happy relief in his
eyes,--"yours could be like mine, in one way. Mine is something
that is going to happen to me--something just beautiful; and you
could have that, you know,--something that was going to happen
to you, to think about."
    Miss Holbrook smiled, but only with her lips, Her eyes had
grown somber.
    "But there is n't anything 'just beautiful' going to happen
to me, David," she demurred.
    "There could, could n't there?"
    Miss Holbrook bit, her lip; then she gave an odd little
laugh that seemed, in some way, to go with the swift red that
had come to her eheeks.
    "I used to think there could--once," she admitted; "but
I've given that up long ago. It--it did n't happen."
    "But could n't you just think it was going to?" persisted
the boy. "You see I found out yesterday that it's the thinking
that does it. All day long I was thinking--only thinking. I was
n't doing it, at all. I was really raking behind the cart; but
the hours all were sunny."
    Miss Holbrook laughed now outright.
    "What a persistent little mental-science preacher you are!"
she exclaimed. "And there's truth--more truth than you know--in
it all, too. But I can't do it, David,--not that--not that. 'T
would take more than thinking--to bring that," she added, under
her breath, as if to herself.
    "But thinking does bring things," main-
tained David earnestly. "There's Joe--Joe Glaspell. His mother
works out all day; and he's blind."
    "Blind? Oh-h!" shuddered Miss Holbrook.
    "Yes; and he has to stay all alone, except for Betty, and
she is n't there much. He thinks all his things. He has to. He
can't see anything with his outside eyes. But he sees everything
with his inside eyes--everything that I play. Why, Lady of the
Roses, he's even seen this--all this here. I told him about it,
you know, right away after I'd found you that first day: the big
trees and the long shadows across the grass, and the roses, and
the shining water, and the lovely marble people peeping through
the green leaves; and the sundial, and you so beautiful sitting
here in the middle of it all. Then I played it for him; and he
said he could see it all just as plain! And that was with his
inside eyes! And so, if Joe, shut up there in his dark little
room, can make his think bring him all that, I should think that
you, here in this beautiful, beautiful place, could make your
think bring you anything you wanted it to."
    But Miss Holbrook sighed again and shook her head.
    "Not that, David, not that," she murmured. "It would take
more than thinking to bring--that." Then, with a quick change of
manner, she cried: "Come, come, suppose we don't worry any more
about my hours. Let's think of yours. Tell me, what have you
been doing since I saw you last? Perhaps you have been again
to--to see Mr. Jack, for instance."
    "I have; but I saw Jill mostly, till the last." David
hesitated, then he blurted it out: "Lady of the Roses, do you
know about the gate and the footbridge?"
    Miss Holbrook looked up quickly.
    "Know--what, David?"
    "Know about them--that they're there?"
    "Why--yes, of course; at least, I suppose you mean the
footbridge that crosses the little stream at the foot of the
hill over there."
    "That's the one." Again David hesitated, and again he
blurted out the burden of his thoughts. "Lady of the Roses, did
you ever--cross that bridge?"
    Miss Holbrook stirred uneasily.
    "But you don't mind folks crossing it?"
    "Certainly not--if they wish to."
    "There! I knew 't was n't your blame, " triumphed David.
    "My blame!"
    "Yes; that Mr. Jack would n't let Jill come across, you
know. He called her back when she'd got halfway over once." Miss
Holbrook's face changed color.
    "But I do object," she cried sharply, "to their crossing it
when they don't want to! Don't forget that, please."
    "But Jill did want to."
    "How about her brother--did he want her to?"
    "Very well, then. I did n't, either."
    David frowned. Never had he seen his beloved Lady of the
Roses look like this before. He was reminded of what Jill had
said about Jack: "His face was all stern and white, and his lips
snapped tight shut after every word." So, too, looked Miss
Holbrook's face; so, too, had her lips snapped tight shut after
her last words. David could not understand it. He said nothing
more, however; but, as was usually the case when he was
perplexed, he picked up his violin and began to play. And as he
played, there gradually came to Miss Holbrook's eyes a softer
light, and to her lips lines less tightly drawn. Neither the
footbridge nor Mr. Jack, however, was mentioned again that

                                CHAPTER XVII
                         "THE PRINCESS AND THE PAUPER"

IT was in the early twilight that Mr. Jack told the story. He,
Jill, and David were on the veranda, as usual watching the
towers of Sunnycrest turn from gold to silver as the sun dropped
behind the hills. It was Jill who had asked for the story.
    "About fairies and princesses, you know," she had ordered.
    "But how will David like that?" Mr. Jack had demurred.
"Maybe he does n't care for fairies and princesses."
    "I read one once about a prince--'t was 'The Prince and the
Pauper,' and I liked that," averred David stoutly.
    Mr. Jack smiled; then his brows drew together in a frown.
His eyes were moodily fixed on the towers.
    "Hm-m; well," he said," I might, I suppose, tell you a
story about a Princess and--a Pauper. I--know one well enough."
    "Good!--then tell it," cried both Jill and David. And Mr.
Jack began his story.
    "She was not always a Princess, and he was not always a
Pauper,--and that's where the story came in, I suppose," sighed
the man. "She was just a girl, once, and he was a boy; and they
played together and--liked each other. He lived in a little
house on a hill."
    "Like this?" demanded Jill.
    "Eh? Oh--er--yes, something like this," returned Mr. Jack,
with an odd half-smile. "And she lived in another bit of a house
in a town far away from the boy."
    "Then how could they play together?" questioned David.
    "They could n't, always. It was only summers when she came
to visit in the boy's town. She was very near him then, for the
old aunt whom she visited lived in a big stone house with
towers, on another hill, in plain sight from the boy's home."
    "Towers like those--where the Lady of the Roses lives?"
asked David.
    "Eh? What? Oh--er--yes," murmured Mr. Jack. "We'll say the
towers were something like those over there." He paused, then
went on musingly:" The girl used to signal, sometimes, from one
of the tower windows. One wave of the handkerchief meant, 'I'm
coming, over'; two waves, with a little pause between, meant,
'You are to come over here.' So the boy used to wait always,
after that first wave to see if another followed; so that he
might know whether he were to be host or guest that day. The
waves always came at eight o'clock in the morning, and very
eagerly the boy used to watch for them all through the summer
when the girl was there."
    "Did they always come, every morning?" Asked Jill.
    "No; sometimes the girl had other things to do. Her aunt
would want her to go somewhere with her, or other cousins were
expected whom the girl must entertain; and she knew the boy did
not like other guests to be there when he was, so she never
asked him to come over at such times. On such occasions she did
sometimes run up to the tower at eight o'clock and wave three
times, and that meant, 'Dead Day.' So the boy, after all, never
drew a real breath of relief until he made sure that no dreaded
third wave was to follow the one or the two."
    "Seems to me," observed David, "that all this was sort of
one-sided. Did n't the boy say anything?"
    "Oh, yes," smiled Mr. Jack. "But the boy did not have any
tower to wave from, you must remember. He had only the little
piazza on his tiny bit of a house. But he rigged up a pole, and
he asked his mother to make him two little flags, a red and a
blue one. The red meant 'All right'; and the blue meant 'Got to
work'; and these he used to run up on his pole in answer to her
waving 'I'm coming over,' or 'You are to come over here.' So,
you see, occasionally it was the boy who had to bring the 'Dead
Day,' as there were times when he had to work. And, by the way,
perhaps you would be interested to know that after a while he
thought up a third flag to answer her three waves. He found an
old black silk handkerchief of his father's, and he made that
into a flag. He told the girl it meant 'I'm heartbroken,' and he
said it was a sign of the deepest mourning. The girl laughed and
tipped her head saucily to one side, and said, 'Pooh! as if you
really cared!' But the boy stoutly maintained his position, and
it was that, perhaps, which made her play the little joke one day.
    "The boy was fourteen that summer, and the girl thirteen.
They had begun their signals years before, but they had not had
the black one so long. On this day that I tell you of, the girl
waved three waves, which meant, 'Dead Day,' you remember, and
watched until the boy had hoisted his black flag which said,
'I'm heart-broken,' in response. Then, as fast as her
mischievous little feet could carry her, she raced down one hill
and across to the other. Very stealthily she advanced till she
found the boy bent over a puzzle on the back stoop, and--and he
was whistling merrily.
    "How she teased him then! How she taunted him with,
Heart-broken, indeed--and whistling like that!' In vain he
blushed and stammered, and protested that his whistling was only
to keep up his spirits. The girl only laughed and tossed her
yellow curls; then she hunted till she found some little
jingling bells, and these she tied to the black badge of
mourning and pulled it high up on the flagpole. The next instant
she was off with a run and a skip, and a saucy wave of her hand;
and the boy was left all alone with an hour's work ahead of him
to untie the knots from his desecrated badge of mourning.
    "And yet they were wonderfully good friends--this boy and
girl. From the very first, when they were seven and eight, they
had said that they would marry each other when they grew up, and
always they spoke of it as the expected thing, and laid many
happy plans for the time when it should come. To be sure, as
they grew older, it was not mentioned quite so often, perhaps;
but the boy at least thought--if he thought of it all--that that
was only because it was already so well understood."
    "What did the girl think?" It was Jill who asked the
    "Eh? The girl? Oh," answered Mr. Jack, a little bitterly
"I'm afraid I don't know exactly what the girl did think,
but--it was n't that, anyhow--that is, judging from what
    "What did follow?"
    "Well, to begin with, the old aunt died. The girl was
sixteen then. It was in the winter that this happened, and the
girl was far away at school. She came to the funeral, however,
but the boy did not see her, save in the distance; and then he
hardly knew her, so strange did she look in her black dress and
hat. She was there only two days, and though he gazed wistfully
up at the gray tower, he knew well enough that of course she
could not wave to him at such a time as that. Yet he had
hoped--almost believed that she would wave two waves that last
day, and let him go over to see her.
    "But she did n't wave, and he did n't go over. She went
away. And then the town learned a wonderful thing. The old lady,
her aunt, who had been considered just fairly rich, turned out
to be the possessor of almost fabulous wealth, owing to her
great holdings of stock in a Western gold mine which had
suddenly struck it rich. And to the girl she willed it all. It
was then, of course, that the girl became the Princess, but the
boy did not realize that--just then. To him she was still 'the
    "For three years he did not see her. She was at school, or
traveling abroad, he heard. He, too, had been away to school,
and was, indeed, just ready to enter college. Then, that summer,
he heard that she was coming to the old home, and his heart sang
within him. Remember, to him she was still the girl. He knew, of
course, that she was not the little girl who had promised to
marry him. But he was sure she was the merry comrade, the
true-hearted young girl who used to smile frankly into his eyes,
and whom he was now to win for his wife. You see he had
forgotten--quite forgotten about the Princess and the money.
Such a foolish, foolish boy as he was!
    "So he got out his flags gleefully, and one day, when his
mother was n't in the kitchen, he ironed out the wrinkles and
smoothed them all ready to be raised on the pole. He would be
ready when the girl waved--for of course she would wave; he
would show her that he had not forgotten. He could see just how
the sparkle would come to her eyes, and just how the little fine
lines of mischief would crinkle around her nose when she was
ready to give that first wave. He could imagine that she would
like to find him napping; that she would like to take him by
surprise, and make him scurry around for his flags to answer
    "But he would show her! As if she, a girl,
were to beat him at their old game! He wondered which it would
be: 'I'm coming over,' or, 'You are to come over here.'
Whichever it was, he would answer, of course, with the red 'All
right.' Still, it would be a joke to run up the blue 'Got to
work,' and then slip across to see her, just as she, so long
ago, had played the joke on him! On the whole, however, he
thought the red flag would be better. And it was that one which
he laid uppermost ready to his hand, when he arranged them.
    "At last she came. He heard of it at once. It was already
past four o'clock, but he could not forbear, even then, to look
toward the tower. It would be like her, after all, to wave then,
that very night, just so as to catch him napping, he thought.
She did not wave, however. The boy was sure of that, for he
watched the tower till dark.
    "In the morning, long before eight o'clock, the boy was
ready. He debated for some time whether to stand out of doors on
the piazza, or to hide behind the screened window, where he
could still watch the tower. He decided at last that it would be
better not to let her see him when she looked toward the house;
then his triumph would be all the more complete when he dashed
out to run up his answer.
    "Eight o'clock came and passed. The boy waited until nine,
but there was no sign of life from the tower. The boy was angry
then, at himself. He called himself, indeed, a fool, to hide as
he did. Of course she would n't wave when he was nowhere in
sight--when he had apparently forgotten! And here was a whole
precious day wasted!
    "The next morning, long before eight, the boy stood in
plain sight on the piazza. As before he waited until nine; and
as before there was no sign of life at the tower window. The
next morning he was there again, and the next, and the next. It
took just five days, indeed, to convince the boy--as he was
convinced at last--that the girl did not intend to wave at all."
    "But how unkind of her!" exclaimed David.
    "She could n't have been nice one bit!" decided Jill.
    "You forget," said Mr. Jack. "She was the Princess."
    "Huh!" grunted Jill and David in unison.
    "The boy remembered it then," went on
Mr. Jack, after a pause,--"about the money, and that she was a
Princess. And of course he knew--when he thought of it--that he
could not expect that a Princess would wave like a girl--just a
girl. Besides, very likely she did not care particularly about
seeing him. Princesses did forget, he fancied,--they had so
much, so very much to fill their lives. It was this thought that
kept him from going to see her--this, and the recollection that,
after all, if she really had wanted to see him, she could have
    "There came a day, however, when another youth, who did not
dare to go alone, persuaded him, and together they paid her a
call. The boy understood, then, many things. He found the
Princess; there was no sign of the girl. The Princess was tall
and dignified, with a cold little hand and a smooth, sweet
voice. There was no frank smile in her eyes, neither were there
any mischievous crinkles about her nose and lips. There was no
mention of towers or flags; no reference to wavings or to
childhood's days. There was only a stiffly polite little
conversation about colleges and travels, with a word or two
about books and plays. Then the callers went home. On the way
the boy smiled scornfully to himself. He was trying to picture
the beauteous vision he had seen, this unapproachable Princess
in her filmy lace gown,--standing in the tower window and
waving--waving to a bit of a house on the opposite hill. As if
that could happen!
    "The boy, during those last three years, had known only
books. He knew little of girls--only one girl--and he knew still
less of Princesses. So when, three days after the call, there
came a chance to join a summer camp with a man who loved books
even better than did the boy himself, he went gladly. Once he
had refused to go on this very trip; but then there had been the
girl. Now there was only the Princess--and the Princess did n't
    "Like the hours that are n't sunshiny," interpreted David.
    "Yes," corroborated Mr. Jack. "Like the hours when the sun
does n't shine."
    "And then?" prompted Jill.
    "Well, then,--there was n't much worth telling," rejoined
Mr. Jack gloomily. "Two more years passed, and the Princess grew
to be twenty-one. She came into full control of her property
then, and after a while she came back to the old stone house
with the towers and turned it into a fairyland of beauty. She
spent money like water. All manner of artists, from the man who
painted her ceilings to the man who planted her seeds, came and
bowed to her will. From the four corners of the earth she
brought her treasures and lavished them through the house and
grounds. Then, every summer, she came herself, and lived among
them, a very Princess indeed."
    "And the boy?--what became of the boy?" demanded David."
Did n't he see her--ever?"
    Mr. Jack shook his head.
    "Not often, David; and when he did, it did not make him
any--happier. You see, the boy had become the Pauper; you must
n't forget that."
    "But he was n't a Pauper when you left him last."
    "Was n't he? Well, then, I'll tell you about that. You see,
the boy, even though he did go away, soon found out that in his
heart the Princess was still the girl, just the same. He loved
her, and he wanted her to be his wife; so for a little--for a
very little--he was wild enough to think that he might work
and study and do great things in the world until he was even
a Prince himself, and then he could marry the Princess."
    "Well, could n't he? "
    "No. To begin with, he lost his health. Then, away back in
the little house on the hill something happened--a something
that left a very precious charge for him to keep; and he had to
go back and keep it, and to try to see if he could n't find that
lost health, as well. And that is all."
    "All! You don't mean that that is the end!" exclaimed Jill.
    "That's the end."
    "But that is n't a mite of a nice end," complained David.
"They always get married and live happy ever after--in stories."
    "Do they?" Mr. Jack smiled a little sadly. "Perhaps they
do, David,--in stories."
    "Well, can't they in this one?"
    "I don't see how."
    "Why can't he go to her and ask her to marry him?"
    Mr. Jack drew himself up proudly.
    "The Pauper and the Princess? Never!
Paupers don't go to Princesses, David, and say, 'I love you.' "
    David frowned.
    "Why not? I don't see why--if they want to do it. Seems as
if somehow it might be fixed."
    "It can't be," returned Mr. Jack, his gaze on the towers
that crowned the opposite hill; "not so long as always before
the Pauper's eyes there are those gray walls behind which he
pictures the Princess in the midst of her golden luxury."
    To neither David nor Jill did the change to the present
tense seem strange. The story was much too real to them for
    "Well, anyhow, I think it ought to be fixed," declared
David, as he rose to his feet.
    "So do I--but we can't fix it," laughed Jill. "And I'm
hungry. Let's see what there is to eat!"

                                CHAPTER XVIII
                             DAVID TO THE RESCUE

IT was a beautiful moonlight night, but for once David was not
thinking of the moon. All the way to the Holly farmhouse he was
thinking of Mr. Jack's story, "The Princess and the Pauper." It
held him strangely. He felt that he never could forget it. For
some reason that he could not have explained, it made him sad,
too, and his step was very quiet as he went up the walk toward
the kitchen door.
    It was after eight o'clock. David had taken supper with Mr.
Jack and Jill, and not for some hours had he been at the
farmhouse. In the doorway now he stopped short; then
instinctively he stepped back into the shadow. In the kitchen a
kerosene light was burning. It showed Mrs.Holly crying at the
table, and Mr. Holly, white-faced and stern-lipped, staring at
nothing. Then Mrs. Holly raised her face, drawn and
tear-stained, and asked a trembling question.
    "Simeon, have you thought? We might go--to
    David was frightened then, so angry was the look that came
into Simeon Holly's face.
    "Ellen, we'll have no more of this," said the man harshly.
"Understand, I'd rather lose the whole thing and--and starve,
than go to--John."
    David fled then. Up the back stairs he crept to his room
and left his violin. A moment later he stole down again and
sought Perry Larson whom he had seen smoking in the barn
    "Perry, what is it?" he asked in a trembling voice. "What
has happened--in there?" He pointed toward the house.
    The man puffed for a moment in silence before he took his
pipe from his mouth.
    "Well, sonny, I s'pose I may as well tell ye. You'll have
ter know it sometime, seein' as 't won't be no secret long.
They've had a stroke o' bad luck--Mr. an' Mis' Holly has."
    "What is it?"
    The man hitched in his seat.
    "By sugar, boy, I s'pose if I tell ye, there ain't no
sartinty that you'll sense it at all. I reckon it ain't in your
    "But what is it?"
    "Well, it's money--and one might as well
talk moonshine to you as money, I s'pose; but here goes it. It's
a thousand dollars, boy, that they owed. Here, like this," he
explained, rummaging his pockets until he had found a silver
dollar to lay on his open palm. "Now, jest imagine a thousand of
them; that's heaps an' heaps--more 'n I ever see in my life."
    "Like the stars?" guessed David.
    The man nodded.
    "Ex-actly! Well, they owed this--Mr. an' Mis' Holly
did--and they had agreed ter pay it next Sat'day. And they was
all right, too. They had it plum saved in the bank, an' was
goin' ter draw it Thursday, ter make sure. An' they was feelin'
mighty pert over it, too, when ter-day along comes the news that
somethin's broke kersmash in that bank, an' they've shet it up.
An' nary a cent can the Hollys git now--an' maybe never. Anyhow,
not 'fore it's too late for this job."
    "But won't he wait?--that man they owe it to? I should
think he'd have to, if they did n't have it to pay."
    "Not much he will, when it's old Streeter that's got the
mortgage on a good fat farm like this!"
    David drew his brows together perplexedly.
    "What is a--a mortgage?" he asked." Is it anything like a
porte-cochere? I know what that is, 'cause my Lady of the Roses
has one; but we have n't got that--down here."
    Perry Larson sighed in exasperation.
    "Gosh, if that ain't 'bout what I expected of ye! No, it
ain't even second cousin to a--a-that thing you're a-talkin' of.
In plain wordin', it's jest this: Mr. Holly, he says ter
Streeter: 'You give me a thousand dollars and I'll pay ye back
on a sartin day; if I don't pay, you can sell my farm fur what
it'll bring, an' take yer pay. Well, now here 't is. Mr. Holly
can't pay, an' so Streeter will put up the farm fur sale."
    "What, with Mr. and Mrs. Holly living here?"
    "Sure! Only they'll have ter git out, ye know."
    "Where'll they go?"
    "The Lord knows; I don't."
    "And is that what they're crying for--in there?--because
they've got to go?"
    "But is n't there anything, anywhere, that can be done
to--stop it?"
    "I don't see how, kid,--not unless some one ponies up with
the money 'fore next Sat'day,--an' a thousand o' them things
don't grow on ev'ry bush," he finished, gently patting the coin
in his hand.
    At the words a swift change came to David's face. His
cheeks paled and his eyes dilated in terror. It was as if ahead
of him he saw a yawning abyss, eager to engulf him.
    "And you say--money would--fix it?" he asked thickly.
"Ex-act-ly!--a thousand o' them, though, 't would take."
    A dawning relief came into David's eyes--it was as if he
saw a bridge across the abyss.
    "You mean--that there would n't anything do, only silver
pieces--like those?" he questioned hopefully.
    "Sugar, kid, 'course there would! Gosh, but you be a
checkerboard o' sense an' nonsense, an' no mistake! Any money
would do the job--any money! Don't ye see? Anything that's
    "Would g-gold do it?" David's voice was very faint now.
    "Sure!--gold, or silver, or greenbacks, or--or a check, if
it had the dough behind it."
    David did not appear to hear the last. With an oddly
strained look he had hung upon the man's first words; but at the
end of the sentence he only murmured, "Oh, thank you," and
turned away. He was walking slowly now toward the house. His
head was bowed. His step lagged.
    "Now, ain't that jest like that chap," muttered the man,
"ter slink off like that as if he was a whipped cur. I'll bet
two cents an' a doughnut, too, that in five minutes he'll be
what he calls 'playin' it' on that 'ere fiddle o' his. An' I'll
be derned, too, if I ain't curious ter see what he will make of
it. It strikes me this ought ter fetch somethin' first cousin to
a dirge!"
    On the porch steps David paused a breathless instant. From
the kitchen came the sound of Mrs. Holly's sobs and of a stern
voice praying. With a shudder and a little choking cry the boy
turned then and crept softly upstairs to his room.
    He played, too, as Perry Larson had wagered. But it was not
the tragedy of the closed bank, nor the honor of the threatened
farm-selling that fell from his violin. It was, instead, the
swan song of a little pile of gold--gold which
lay now in a chimney cupboard, but which was soon to be placed
at the feet of the mourning man and woman downstairs. And in the
song was the sob of a boy who sees his house of dreams burn to
ashes; who sees his wonderful life and work out in the wide
world turn to endless days of weed-pulling and dirt-digging in
a narrow valley. There was in the song, too, something of the
struggle, the fierce yea and nay of the conflict. But, at the
end, there was the wild burst of exaltation of renunciation, so
that the man in the barn door below fairly sprang to his feet
with an angry:--
    "Gosh! if he hain't turned the thing into a jig--durn him!
Don't he know more'n that at such a time as this?"
    Later, a very little later, the shadowy figure of the boy
stood before him.
    "I've been thinking," stammered David," that maybe I--could
help, about that money, you know."
    "Now, look a-here, boy," exploded Perry, in open
exasperation, "as I said in the first plaee, this ain't in your
class. 'T ain't no pink cloud sailin' in the sky, nor a bluebird
singin' in a blackb'rry bush. An' you might 'play it'--as
you call it--till doomsday, an' 't would n't do no good--though
I'm free ter confess that your playin' of them 'ere other things
sounds real pert an' chirky at times; but 't won't do no good
    David stepped forward, bringing his small, anxious face
full into the moonlight.
    "But 't was the money, Perry; I meant about, the money," he
explained. "They were good to me and wanted me when there was
n't any one else that did; and now I'd like to do something for
them. There are n't so many pieces, and they are n't silver.
There's only one hundred and six of them; I counted. But maybe
they 'd help some. It--it would be a--start." His voice broke
over the once beloved word, then went on with renewed strength.
"There, see! Would these do?" And with both hands he held up to
view his cap sagging under its weight of gold.
    Perry Larson's jaw fell open. His eyes bulged. Dazedly he
reached out and touched with trembling fingers the heap of
shining disks that seemed in the mellow light like little
earth-born children of the moon itself. The next instant he
recoiled sharply.
    "Great snakes, boy, where'd you git that money?" he
    "Of father. He went to the far country, you know."
    Perry Larson snorted angrily.
    "See here, boy, for once, if ye can, talk horse-sense!
Surely, even you don't expect me ter believe that he's sent you
that money from--from where he's gone to!"
    "Oh, no. He left it."
    "Left it! Why, boy, you know better! There wa'n't a
cent--hardly--found on him."
    "He gave it to me before--by the roadside."
    "Gave it to you! Where in the name of goodness has it been
    "In the little cupboard in my room, behind the books."
    "Great snakes!" muttered Perry Larson, reaching out his
hand and gingerly picking up one of the gold-pieces.
    David eyed him anxiously.
    "Won't they--do?" he faltered. "There are n't a thousand;
there's only a hundred and six; but--"
    "Do!" cut in the man, excitedly. He had
been examining the gold-piece at close range. "Do! Well, I
reckon they'll do. By Jiminy!--and ter think you've had this up
ver sleeve all this time! Well, I'll believe anythin' of yer
now--anythin'! You can't stump me with nuthin'! Come on." And he
hurriedly led the way toward the house.
    "But they weren't up my sleeve," corrected David, as he
tried to keep up with the long strides of the man. "I said they
were in the cupboard in my room."
    There was no answer. Larson had reached the porch steps,
and had paused there hesitatingly. From the kitchen still came
the sound of sobs. Aside from that there was silence. The boy,
however, did not hesitate. He went straight up the steps and
through the open kitchen door. At the table sat the man and the
woman, their eyes covered with their hands.
    With a swift overturning of his cap, David dumped his
burden onto the table, and stepped back respectfully.
    "If you please, sir, would this--help any?" he asked.
    At the jingle of the coins Simeon Holly and his wife lifted
their heads abruptly. A half-uttered sob died on the woman's lips.
A quick cry came from the man's. He reached forth an eager
hand and had almost clutched the gold when a sudden change came
to his face. With a stern ejaculation he drew back.
    "Boy, where did that money come from?" he challenged.
    David sighed in a discouraged way. It seemed that, always,
the showing of this gold mean't questioning--eternal
    "Surely," continued Simeon Holly, "you did not--" With the
boy's frank gaze upturned to his, the man could not finish his
    Before David could answer came the voice of Perry Larson
from the kitchen doorway.
    "No, sir, he did n't, Mr. Holly; an' it's all straight, I'm
thinkin'--though I'm free ter confess it does sound nutty. His
dad give it to him."
    "His--father! But where--where has it been ever since?"
    "In the chimney cupboard in his room, he says, sir."
    Simeon Holly turned in frowning amazement.
    "David, what does this mean? Why have you kept this gold in
a place like that?"
    "Why, there was n't anything else to do wiih it," answered
the boy perplexedly." I had n't any use for it, you know, and
father said to keep it till I needed it."
    " 'Had n't any use for it'!" blustered Larson from the
doorway. "Jiminy! Now, ain't that jest like that boy?"
    But David hurried on with his explanation.
    "We never used to use them--father and I--except to buy
things to eat and wear; and down here you give me those, you
    "Gorry!" interjected Perry Larson. "Do you reckon, boy,
that Mr. Holly himself was give them things he gives ter you?"
    The boy turned sharply, a startled question in his eyes.
    "What do you mean? Do you mean that--" His face changed
suddenly. His cheeks turned a shamed red. "Why, he did--he did
have to buy them, of course, just as father did. And I never
even thought of it before! Then, it's yours, anyway--it belongs
to you," he argued, turning to Farmer Holly, and shoving the
gold nearer to his hands. "There is n't enough, maybe--but 't
will help!"
    "They're ten-dollar gold pieces, sir," spoke
up Larson importantly; "an' there's a hundred an' six of them.
That's jest one thousand an' sixty dollars, as I make it."
    Simeon Holly, self-controlled man that he was, almost
leaped from his chair.
    "One thousand and sixty dollars!" he gasped. Then, to
David: "Boy, in Heaven's name, who are you?"
    "I don't know--only David." The boy spoke wearily, with a
grieved sob in his voice. He was very tired, a good deal
perplexed, and a little angry. He wished, if no one wanted this
gold, that he could take it upstairs again to the chimney
cupboard; or, if they objected to that, that they would at least
give it to him, and let him go away now to that beautiful music
he was to hear, and to those kind people who were always to
understand what he said when he played.
    "Of course," ventured Perry Larson diffidently, "I ain't
professin' ter know any great shakes about the hand of the Lord,
Mr. Holly, but it do strike me that this 'ere gold comes mighty
near bein' proverdential--fur you."
    Simeon Holly fell back in his seat. His eyes clung to the
gold, but his lips set into rigid lines.
    "That money is the boy's, Larson. It is n't mine," he said.
    "He's give it to ye."
    Simeon Holly shook his head.
    "David is nothing but a child, Perry. He does n't realize
at all what he is doing, nor how valuable his gift is."
    "I know, sir, but you did take him in, when there would n't
nobody else do it," argued Larson. "An', anyhow, could n't you
make a kind of an I O U of it, even if he is a kid? Then, some
day you could pay him back. Meanwhile you'd be a-keepin' him,
an' a-schoolin' him; an' that's somethin'."
    "I know, I know," nodded Simeon Holly thoughtfully, his
eyes going from the gold to David's face. Then, aloud, yet as if
to himself, he breathed: "Boy, boy, who was your father? How
came he by all that gold--and he--a tramp!"
    David drew himself suddenly erect. His eyes flashed.
    "I don't know, sir. But I do know this: he did n't steal
    Across the table Mrs. Holly drew a quick breath, but she
did not speak--save with her pleading eyes. Mrs. Holly seldom
spoke--save with her eyes--when her husband was solving a
knotty problem. She was dumfounded now that he should listen
so patiently to the man, Larson,--though she was not more
surprised than was Larson himself. For both of them, however,
there came at this moment a still greater surprise. Simeon
Holly leaned forward suddenly, the stern lines quite gone
from his lips, and his face working with emotion as he drew
David toward him.
    "You're a good son, boy,--a good loyal son; and--and I wish
you were mine! I believe you. He did n't steal it, and I won't
steal it, either. But I will use it, since you are so good as to
offer it. But it shall be a loan, David, and some day, God
helping me, you shall have it back. Meanwhile, you're my boy,
David,--my boy!"
    "Oh, thank you, sir," rejoiced David. "And, really, you
know, being wanted like that is better than the start would be,
is n't it?"
    "Better than--what?"
    David shifted his position. He had not meant to say just
    "N--nothing," he stammered, looking about
for a means of quick escape." I--I was just talking," he
finished. And he was immeasurably relieved to find that Mr.
Holly did not press the matter further.

                                CHAPTER XIX
                           THE UNBEAUTIFUL WORLD

IN spite of the exaltation of renunciation, and in spite of the
joy of being newly and especially "wanted," those early
September days were sometimes hard for David. Not until he had
relinquished all hope of his "start" did he fully realize what
that hope had meant to him.
    There were times, to be sure, when there was nothing but
rejoicing within him that he was able thus to aid the Hollys.
There were other times when there was nothing but the sore
heartache because of the great work out in the beautiful world
that could now never be done; and because of the unlovely work
at hand that must be done. To tell the truth, indeed, David's
entire conception of life had become suddenly a chaos of
puzzling contradictions.
    To Mr. Jack, one day, David went with his perplexities. Not
that he told him of the gold-pieces and of the unexpected use to
which they had been put--indeed, no. David had made up his mind
never, if he could help himself, to mention those gold-pieces
to any one who did not already know of them. They meant
questions, and the questions, explanations. And he had had
enough of both on that particular subject. But to Mr. Jack
he said one day, when they were alone together:--
    "Mr. Jack, how many folks have you got inside of your
    "Eh--what, David?"
    David repeated his question and attached an explanation.
    "I mean, the folks that--that make you do things."
    Mr. Jack laughed.
    "Well," he said, "I believe some people make claims to
quite a number, and perhaps almost every one owns to a Dr.
Jekyll and a Mr. Hyde."
    "Who are they?"
    "Never mind, David. I don't think you know the gentlemen,
anyhow. They're only something like the little girl with a curl.
One is very, very good, indeed, and the other is horrid."
    "Oh, yes, I know them; they're the ones that come to me,"
returned David, with a sigh. "I've had them a lot, lately."
    Mr. Jack stared.
    "Oh, have you?"
    "Yes; and that's what's the trouble. How can you drive them
off--the one that is bad, I mean?"
    "Well, really," confessed Mr. Jack, "I'm not sure I can
tell. You see--the gentlemen visit me sometimes."
    "Oh, do they?"
    "I'm so glad--that is, I mean," amended David, in answer to
Mr. Jack's uplifted eyebrows, "I'm glad that you understand what
I'm talking about. You see, I tried Perry Larson last night on
it, to get him to tell me what to do. But he only stared and
laughed. He did n't know the names of 'em, anyhow, as you do,
and at last he got really almost angry and said I made him feel
so 'buggy' and 'creepy' that he would n't dare look at himself
in the glass if I kept on, for fear some one he'd never known
was there should jump out at him."
    Mr. Jack chuckled.
    "Well, I suspect, David, that Perry knew one of your
gentlemen by the name of 'conscience,' perhaps; and I also
suspect that maybe conscience does pretty nearly fill the
bill, and that you've been having a bout with that. Eh?
Now, what is the trouble? Tell me about it."
    David stirred uneasily. Instead of answering, he asked
another question.
    "Mr. Jack, it is a beautiful world, is n't it?"
    For a moment there was no, answer; then a low voice
    "Your father said it was, David."
    Again David moved restlessly.
    "Yes; but father was on the mountain. And down here--well,
down here there are lots of things that I don't believe he knew
    "What, for instance?"
    "Why, lots of things--too many to tell. Of course there are
things like catching fish, and killing birds and squirrels and
other things to eat, and plaguing cats and dogs. Father never
would have called those beautiful. Then there are others like
little Jimmy Clark who can't walk, and the man at the Marstons'
who's sick, and Joe Glaspell who is blind. Then there are still
different ones like Mr. Holly's little boy. Perry says he ran
away years and years ago, and made his people very unhappy.
Father would n't call that a beautiful world, would he? And how
can people like that always play in tune? And there are the
Princess and the Pauper that you told about."
    "Oh, the story?"
    "Yes; and people like them can't be happy and think the
world is beautiful, of course."
    "Why not?"
    "Because they did n't end right. They did n't get married
and live happy ever after, you know."
    "Well, I don't think I'd worry about that, David,--at
least, not about the Princess. I fancy the world was very
beautiful to her, all right. The Pauper--well, perhaps he was
n't very happy. But, after all, David, you know happiness is
something inside of yourself. Perhaps half of these people are
happy, in their way."
    "There! and that's another thing," sighed David. "You see,
I found that out--that it was inside of yourself--quite a while
ago, and I told the Lady of the Roses. But now I--can't make it
work myself."
    "What's the matter?"
    "Well, you see then something was going to
happen--something that I liked; and I found that just thinking
of it made it so that I did n't mind raking or hoeing, or
anything like that; and I told the Lady of the Roses. And I told
her that even if it was n't going to happen she could think it
was going to, and that that would be just the same, because 't
was the thinking that made my hours sunny ones. It was n't the
doing at all. I said I knew because I had n't done it yet. See?"
    "I--think so, David."
    "Well, I've found out that it is n't the same at all; for
now that I know that this beautiful thing is n't ever going to
happen to me, I can think and think all day, and it does n't do
a mite of good. The sun is just as hot, and my back aches just
as hard, and the field is just as big and endless as it used to
be when I had to call it that those hours did n't count. Now,
what is the matter?"
    Mr. Jack laughed, but he shook his head a little sadly.
    "You're getting into too deep waters for me, David. I
suspect you're floundering in a sea that has upset the boats of
sages since the world began. But what is it that was so nice,
and that is n't going to happen? Perhaps I might help on that."
    "No, you could n't," frowned David; "and there could n't
anybody, either, you see, because I would n't go back now and
let it happen, anyhow, as long as I know what I do. Why, if I
did, there would n't be any hours that were sunny then--not even
the ones after four o'clock; I--I'd feel so mean! But what I
don't see is just how I can fix it up with the Lady of the
    "What has she to do with it?"
    "Why, at the very first, when she said she did n't have any
sunshiny hours, I told her--"
    "When she said what?" interposed Mr. Jack, coming suddenly
erect in his chair.
    "That she did n't have any hours to count, you know."
    "Yes; it was the sundial. Did n't I tell you? Yes, I know
I did--about the words on it--not counting any hours that
weren't sunny, you know. And she said she would n't have any
hours to count; that the sun never shone for her."
    "Why, David," demurred Mr. Jack in a voice that shook
a little," are you sure? Did she say just that? You--you must
be mistaken--when she has--has everything to make her happy."
    "I was n't, because I said that same thing to her
myself--afterwards. And then I told her--when I found out
myself, you know--about its being what was inside of you, after
all, that counted; and then is when I asked her if she could n't
think of something nice that was going to happen to her
    "Well, what did she say?"
    "She shook her head, and said 'No.' Then she looked away,
and her eyes got soft and dark like little pools in the brook
where the water stops to rest. And she said she had hoped once
that this something would happen; but that it had n't, and that
it would take something more than thinking to bring it. And I
know now what she meant, because thinking is n't all that
counts, is it?"
    Mr. Jack did not answer. He had risen to his feet, and was
pacing restlessly up and down the veranda. Once or twice he
turned his eyes toward the towers of Sunnycrest, and David
noticed that there was a new look on his face. Very soon,
however, the old tiredness came back to his eyes, and
he dropped into his seat again, muttering "Fool! of course it
could n't be--that!"
    "Be what?" asked David.
    Mr. Jack started.
    "Er--nothing; nothing that you would understand, David. Go
on--with what you were saying."
    "There is n't any more. It's all done. It's only that I'm
wondering how I'm going to learn here that it's a beautiful
world, so that I can--tell father."
    Mr. Jack roused himself. He had the air of a man who
determinedly throws to one side a heavy burden.
    "Well, David," he smiled, "as I said before, you are still
out on that sea where there are so many little upturned boats.
There might be a good many ways of answering that question."
    "Mr. Holly says," mused the boy, aloud, a little gloomily,
"that it does n't make any difference whether we find things
beautiful or not; that we're here to do something serious in the
    "That is about what I should have expected
of Mr. Holly" retorted Mr. Jack grimly. "He acts it--and looks
it. But--I don't believe you are going to tell your father just
    "No, sir, I don't believe I am," accorded David soberly.
    "I have an idea that you're going to find that answer just
where your father said you would--in your violin. See if you
don't. Things that are n't beautiful you'll make
beautiful--because we find what we are looking for, and you're
looking for beautiful things. After all, boy, if we march
straight ahead, chin up, and sing our own little song with all
our might and main, we shan't come so far amiss from the goal,
I'm thinking. There! that's preaching, and I did n't mean to
preach; but--well, to tell the truth, that was meant for myself,
for--I'm hunting for the beautiful world, too."
    "Yes, sir, I know," returned David fervently. And again Mr.
Jack, looking into the sympathetic, glowing dark eyes, wondered
if, after all, David really could--know.
    Even yet Mr. Jack was not used to David; there were "so
many of him," he told himself. There were the boy, the artist,
and a third personality so evanescent that it defied being
named. The boy was jolly, impetuous, confidential, and
delightful--plainly reveling in all manner of fun and frolic.
The artist was nothing but a bunch of nervous alertness, ready
to find melody and rhythm in every passing thought or flying
cloud. The third--that baffling third that defied the
naming--was a dreamy, visionary, untouchable creature who
floated so far above one's head that one's hand could never
pull him down to get a good square chance to see what he did
look like. All this thought Mr. Jack as he gazed into David's
luminous eyes.

                                CHAPTER XX
                            THE UNFAMILIAR WAY

IN September David entered the village school. School and David
did not assimilate at once. Very confidently the teacher set to
work to grade her new pupil; but she was not so confident when
she found that while in Latin he was perilously near herself
(and in French--which she was not required to
teach--disastrously beyond her!), in United States history he
knew only the barest outlines of certain portions, and could not
name a single battle in any of its wars. In most studies he was
far beyond boys of his own age, yet at every turn she
encountered these puzzling spots of discrepancy, which rendered
grading in the ordinary way out of the question.
    David's methods of recitation, too, were peculiar, and
somewhat disconcerting. He also did not hesitate to speak aloud
when he chose, nor to rise from his seat and move to any part of
the room as the whim seized him. In time, of course, all this
was changed; but it was several days before the boy learned so
to conduct himself that he did not shatter to atoms the peace
and propriety of the schoolroom.
    Outside of school David had little work to do now, though
there were still left a few light tasks about the house. Home
life at the Holly farmhouse was the same for David, yet with a
difference--the difference that comes from being really wanted
instead of being merely dutifully kept. There were other
differences, too, subtle differences that did not show, perhaps,
but that still were there.
    Mr. and Mrs. Holly, more than ever now, were learning to
look at the world through David's eyes. One day--one wonderful
day--they even went to walk in the woods with the boy; and
whenever before had Simeon Holly left his work for so frivolous
a thing as a walk in the woods!
    It was not accomplished, however, without a struggle, as
David could have told. The day was a Saturday, clear, crisp, and
beautiful, with a promise of October in the air; and David
fairly tingled to be free and away. Mrs. Holly was baking--and
the birds sang unheard outside her pantry window. Mr. Holly was
digging potatoes--and the clouds sailed unnoticed above his head.
    All the morning David urged and begged. If for once, just
this once, they would leave everything and come, they would not
regret it, he was sure. But they shook their heads and said,
"No, no, impossible!" In the afternoon the pies were done and
the potatoes dug, and David urged and pleaded again. If once,
only this once, they would go to walk with him in the woods, he
would be so happy, so very happy! And to please the boy--they
    It was a curious walk. Ellen Holly trod softly, with timid
feet. She threw hurried, frightened glances from side to side.
It was plain that Ellen Holly did not know how to play. Simeon
Holly stalked at her elbow, stern, silent, and preoccupied. It
was plain that Simeon Holly not only did not know how to play,
but did not even care to find out.
    The boy tripped ahead and talked. He had the air of a
monarch displaying his kingdom. On one side was a bit of moss
worthy of the closest attention; on another, a vine that carried
allurement in every tendril. Here was a flower that was like a
story for interest, and there was a bush that bore a secret
worth the telling. Even Simeon Holly glowed into a semblance of
life when David had unerringly picked out and called by name
the spruce, and fir, and pine, and larch, and then, in answer
to Mrs. Holly's murmured: "But, David, where's the difference?
They look so much alike!" he had said:--
    "Oh, but they are n't, you know. Just see how much more
pointed at the top that fir is than that spruce back there; and
the branches grow straight out, too, like arms, and they're all
smooth and tapering at the ends like a pussy-cat's tail. But the
spruce back there--its branches turned down and out--did n't you
notice?--and they're all bushy at the ends like a squirrel's
tail. Oh, they're lots different! That's a larch 'way
ahead--that one with the branches all scraggly and close down to
the ground. I could start to climb that easy; but I could n't
that pine over there. See, it's 'way up, up, before there's a
place for your foot! But I love pines. Up there on the mountains
where I lived, the pines were so tall that it seemed as if God
used them sometimes to hold up the sky."
    And Simeon Holly heard, and said nothing; and that he did
say nothing--especially nothing in answer to David's confident
assertions concerning celestial and terrestrial
architecture--only goes to show how well, indeed, the man was
learning to look at the world through David's eyes.
    Nor were these all of David's friends to whom Mr. and Mrs.
Holly were introduced on that memorable walk. There were the
birds, and the squirrels, and, in fact, everything that had
life. And each one he greeted joyously by name, as he would
greet a friend whose home and habits he knew. Here was a
wonderful woodpecker, there was a beautiful bluejay. Ahead, that
brilliant bit of color that flashed across their path was a
tanager. Once, far up in the sky, as they crossed an open space,
David spied a long black streak moving southward.
    "Oh, see!" he exclaimed. "The crows! See them?--'way up
there? Would n't it be fun if we could do that, and fly hundreds
and hundreds of miles, maybe a thousand?"
    "Oh, David," remonstrated Mrs. Holly, unbelievingly.
    "But they do! These look as if they'd
started on their winter journey South, too; but if they have,
they're early. Most of them don't go till October. They come
back in March, you know. Though I've had them, on the mountain,
that stayed all the year with me."
    "My! but I love to watch them go," murmured David, his eyes
following the rapidly disappearing blackline. "Lots of birds you
can't see, you know, when they start for the South. They fly at
night--the woodpeckers and orioles and cuckoos, and lots of
others. They're afraid, I guess, don't. you? But I've seen them.
I've watched them. They tell each other when they're going to
    "Oh, David," remonstrated Mrs. Holly, again, her eyes
reproving, but plainly enthralled.
    "But they do tell each other," claimed the boy, with
sparkling eyes." They must! For, all of a sudden, some night,
you'll hear the signal, and then they'll begin to gather from
all directions. I've seen them. Then, suddenly, they're all up
and off to the South--not in one big flock, but broken up into
little flocks, following one after another, with such a
beautiful whir of wings. Oof--oof--OOF!--and
they're gone! And I don't see them again till next year. But
you've seen the swallows, have n't you? They go in the daytime,
and they're the easiest to tell of any of them. They fly so
swift and straight. Have n't you seen the swallows go?"
    "Why, I--I don't know, David," murmured Mrs. Holly, with a
helpless glance at her husband stalking on ahead. "I--I did n't
know there were such things to--to know."
    There was more, much more, that David said before the walk
came to an end. And though, when it did end, neither Simeon
Holly nor his wife said a word of its having been a pleasure or
a profit, there was yet on their faces something of the peace
and rest and quietness that belonged to the woods they had left.
    It was a beautiful month--that September, and David made
the most of it. Out of school meant out of doors for him. He saw
Mr. Jack and Jill often. He spent much time, too, with the Lady
of the Roses. She was still the Lady of the Roses to David,
though in the garden now were the purple and scarlet and yellow
of the asters, salvia, and golden glow, instead of the blush and
perfume of the roses.
    David was very much at home at Sunnycrest. He was welcome,
he knew, to go where he pleased. Even the servants were kind to
him, as well as was the elderly cousin whom he seldom saw, but
who, he knew, lived there as company for his Lady of the Roses.
    Perhaps best, next to the garden, David loved the tower
room; possibly because Miss Holbrook herself so often suggested
that they go there. And it was there that they were when he
said, dreamily, one day:--
    "I like this place--up here so high, only sometimes it does
make me think of that Princess, because it was in a tower like
this that she was, you know."
    "Fairy stories, David?" asked Miss Holbrook lightly.
    "No, not exactly, though there was a Princess in it. Mr.
Jack told it." David's eyes were still out of the window.
    "Oh, Mr. Jack! And does Mr. Jack often tell you stories?"
    "No. He never told only this one--and maybe that's why I
remember it so."
    "Well, and what did the Princess do?" Miss Holbrook's voice
was still light, still carelesslypreoccupied. Her attention,
plainly, was given to the sewing in her hand.
    "She did n't do and that's what was the trouble," sighed I
David. "She did n't wave, you know."
    The needle in Miss Holbrook's fingers stopped short in
mid-air, the thread half-drawn.
    "Did n't--wave!" she stammered. "What do you--mean?"
    "Nothing," laughed the boy, turning away from the window."
I forgot that you did n't know the story."
    "But maybe I do--that is--what was the story?" asked Miss
Holbrook, wetting her lips as if they had grown suddenly very
    "Oh, do you? I wonder now! It was n't 'The Prince and the
Pauper,' but the Princess and the Pauper," cited David; "and
they used to wave signals, and answer with flags. Do you know
the story?"
    There was no answer. Miss Holbrook was putting away her
work, hurriedly, and with hands that shook. David noticed that
she even pricked herself in her anxiety to get the needle tucked
away. Then she drew him to a low stool at her side.
    "David, I want you to tell me that story, please," she
said, "just as Mr. Jack told it to you. Now, be careful and put
it all in, because I--I want to hear it," she finished, with an
odd little laugh that seemed to bring two bright red spots to
her cheeks.
    "Oh, do you want to hear it? Then I will tell it," cried
David joyfully. To David, almost as delightful as to hear a
story was to tell one himself. "You see, first--" And he plunged
headlong into the introduction.
    David knew it well--that story: and there was, perhaps,
little that he forgot. It might not have been always told in Mr.
Jack's language; but his meaning was there, and very intently
Miss Holbrook listened while David told of the boy and the girl,
the wavings, and the flags that were blue, black, and red. She
laughed once,--that was at the little joke with the bells that
the girl played,--but she did not speak until sometime later
when David was telling of the first home-coming of the Princess,
and of the time when the boy on his tiny piazza watched and
watched in vain for a waving white signal from the tower.
    "Do you mean to say," interposed Miss
Holbrook then, almost starting to her feet," that that boy
expected--" She stopped suddenly, and fell back in her chair.
The two red spots on her cheeks had become a rosy glow now, all
over her face.
    "Expected what?" asked David.
    "N--nothing. Go on. I was so--so interested," explained
Miss Holbrook faintly. "Go on."
    And David did go on; nor did the story lose by his telling.
It gained, indeed, something, for now it had woven through it
the very strong sympathy of a boy who loved the Pauper for his
sorrow and hated the Princess for causing that sorrow.
    "And so," he concluded mournfully, "you see it is n't a
very nice story, after all, for it did n't end well a bit. They
ought to have got married and lived happy ever after. But they
did n't."
    Miss Holbrook drew in her breath a little uncertainly, and
put her hand to her throat. Her face now, instead of being red,
was very white.
    "But, David," she faltered, after a moment, "perhaps
he--the--Pauper--did not--not love the Princess any longer."
    "Mr. Jack said that he did."
    The white face went suddenly pink again.
    "Then, why did n't he go to her and--and--tell her?"
    David lifted his chin. With all his dignity he answered,
and his words and accent were Mr. Jack's.
    "Paupers don't go to Princesses, and say "I love you.' "
    "But perhaps if they did--that is--if--" Miss Holbrook bit
her lips and did not finish her sentence. She did not, indeed,
say anything more for a long time. But she had not forgotten the
story. David knew that, because later she began to question him
carefully about many little points--points that he was very sure
he had already made quite plain. She talked about it, indeed,
until he wondered if perhaps she were going to tell it to some
one else sometime. He asked her if she were; but she only shook
her head. And after that she did not question him any more. And
a little later David went home.

                                CHAPTER XXI
                                HEAVY HEARTS

FOR a week David had not been near the House that Jack Built,
and that, too, when Jill had been confined within doors for
several days with a cold. Jill, indeed, was inclined to be
grieved at this apparent lack of interest on the part of her
favorite playfellow; but upon her return from her first day of
school, after her recovery, she met her brother with startled
    "Jack, it has n't been David's fault at all," she cried
remorsefully." He's sick."
    "Yes; awfully sick. They've had to send away for doctors
and everything."
    "Why, Jill, are you sure? Where did you hear this?"
    "At school to-day. Every one was talking about it."
    "But what is the matter?"
    "Fever--some sort. Some say it's typhoid, and some scarlet,
and some say another kind that I can't remember; but everybody
says he's awfully sick. He got it down to Glaspell's, some
say,--and some say he did n't. But, anyhow, Betty Glaspell
has been sick with something, and they have n't let folks in
there this week," finished Jill, her eyes big with terror.
    "The Glaspells? But what was David doing down there?"
    "Why, you know,--he told us once,--teaching Joe to play.
He's been there lots. Joe is blind, you know, and can't see, but
he just loves music, and was crazy over David's violin; so David
took down his other one--the one that was his father's, you
know--and showed him how to pick out little tunes, just to take
up his time so he would n't mind so much that he could n't see.
Now, Jack, was n't that just like David? Jack, I can't have
anything happen to David!"
    "No, dear, no; of course not! I'm afraid we can't any of
us, for that matter," sighed Jack, his forehead drawn into
anxious lines." I'll go down to the Hollys', Jill, the first
thing tomorrow morning, and see how he is and if there's
anything we can do. Meanwhile, don't take it too much to heart,
dear. It may not be half so bad as you think. School-children
always get things like that exaggerated, you must remember,"
he finished, speaking with a lightness that he did not feel.
    To himself the man owned that he was troubled, seriously
troubled. He had to admit that Jill's story bore the earmarks of
truth; and overwhelmingly he realized now just how big a place
this somewhat puzzling small boy had come to fill in his own
heart. He did not need Jill's anxious "Now, hurry, Jack," the
next morning to start him off in all haste for the Holly
farmhouse. A dozen rods from the driveway he met Perry Larson
and stopped him abruptly.
    "Good morning, Larson; I hope this is n't true--what I
hear--that David is very ill."
    Larson pulled off his hat and with his free hand sought the
one particular spot on his head to which he always appealed when
he was very much troubled.
    "Well, yes, sir, I'm afraid 't is, Mr. Jack--er--Mr.
Gurnsey, I mean. He is turrible sick, poor little chap, an' it's
too bad--that's what it is--too bad!"
    "Oh, I'm sorry! I hoped the report was exaggerated. I
came down to see if--if there was n't something I could do."
    "Well, 'course you can ask--there ain't no law ag'in' that;
an' ye needn't be afraid, neither. The report has got 'round
that it's ketchin'--what he's got, and that he got it down to
the Glaspells'; but 't ain't so. The doctor says he did n't
ketch nothin', an' he can't give nothin'. It's his head an'
brain that ain't right, an' he's got a mighty bad fever. He's
been kind of flighty an' nervous, anyhow, lately.
    "As I was sayin', 'course you can ask, but I'm thinkin'
there won't be nothin' you can do ter help. Ev'rythin' that can
be done is bein' done. In fact, there ain't much of anythin'
else that is bein' done down there jest now but, tendin' ter
him. They've got one o' them 'ere edyercated nurses from the
Junction--what wears caps, ye know, an' makes yer feel as if
they knew it all, an' you did n't know nothin'. An' then there's
Mr. an' Mis' Holly besides. If they had their way, there would
n't neither of, em let him out o' their sight fur a minute,
they're that cut up about it."
    "I fancy they think a good deal of the boy
--as we all do," murmured the younger man, a little unsteadily.
    Larson winkled his forehead in deep thought.
    "Yes; an' that's what beats me," he answered slowly; "
'bout him,--Mr. Holly, I mean. 'Course we'd 'a' expected it of
her--losin' her own boy as she did, an' bein' jest naturally so
sweet an' lovin'-hearted. But him--that's diff'rent. Now, you
know jest as well as I do what Mr. Holly is--every one does, so
I ain't sayin' nothin' sland'rous. He's a good man--a powerful
good man; an' there ain't a squarer man goin' ter work fur. But
the fact is, he was made up wrong side out, an' the seams has
always showed bad--turrible bad, with ravelin's all stickin' out
every which way ter ketch an' pull. But, gosh! I'm blamed if
that, ere boy ain't got him so smoothed down, you would n't
know, scursely, that he had a seam on him, sometimes; though how
he's done it beats me. Now, there's Mis' Holly--she's tried ter
smooth 'em, I'll warrant, lots of times. But I'm free ter say
she hain't never so much as clipped a ravelin' in all them forty
years they've lived tergether. Fact is, it's worked the other
way with her. All that her rubbin' up ag'in' them seams has
amounted to is ter git herself so smoothed down that she
don't never dare ter say her soul's her own, most generally,
--anyhow, not if he happens ter intermate it belongs ter
anybody else!"
    Jack Gurnsey suddenly choked over a cough.
    "I wish I could--do something," he murmured uncertainly.
    " 'T ain't likely ye can--not so long as Mr. an' Mis' Holly
is on their two feet. Why, there ain't nothin' they won't do,
an' you'll believe it, maybe, when I tell you that yesterday Mr.
Holly, he tramped all through Sawyer's woods in the rain, jest
ter find a little bit of moss that the boy was callin' for.
Think o' that, will ye? Simeon Holly huntin' moss! An' he got
it, too, an' brung it home, an' they say it cut him up somethin'
turrible when the boy jest turned away, and did n't take no
notice. You understand, 'course, sir, the little chap ain't
right in his head, an' so half the time he don't know what he
    "Oh, I'm sorry, sorry!" exclaimed Gurnsey, as he turned
away, and hurried toward the farmhouse.
    Mrs. Holly herself answered his low knock. She looked worn
and pale.
    "Thank you, sir," she said gratefully, in reply to his
offer of assistance, "but there is n't anything you can do, Mr.
Gurnsey. We're having everything done that can be, and every one
is very kind. We have a very good nurse, and Dr. Kennedy has had
consultation with Dr. Benson from the Junction. They are doing
all in their power, of course, but they say that--that it's
going to be the nursing that will count now."
    "Then I don't fear for him "surely" declared the man, with
    "I know, but--well, he shall have the very best
possible--of that."
    "I know he will; but is n't there anything--anything that
I can do?"
    She shook her head.
    "No. Of course, if he gets better--" She hesitated; then
lifted her chin a little higher; "When he gets better," she
corrected with courageous emphasis, "he will want to see you."
    "And he shall see me," asserted Gurnsey. "And he will be
better, Mrs. Holly,--I'm sure he will."
    "Yes, yes, of course, only--oh, Mr. Jack, he's so sick--so
very sick! The doctor says he's a peculiarly sensitive nature,
and that he thinks something's been troubling him lately." Her
voice broke.
    "Poor little chap!" Mr. Jack's voice, too, was husky.
    She looked up with swift gratefulness for his sympathy.
    "And you loved him, too, I know" she choked. "He talks of
you often--very often."
    "Indeed I love him! Who could help it?"
    "There could n't anybody, Mr. Jack,--and that's just it.
Now, since he's been sick, we've wondered more than ever who he
is. You see, I can't help thinking that somewhere he's got
friends who ought to know about him--now."
    "Yes, I see," nodded the man.
    "He is n't an ordinary boy, Mr. Jack. He's been trained in
lots of ways--about his manners, and at the table, and all that.
And lots of things his father has told him are beautiful, just
beautiful! He is n't a tramp. He never was one. And there's his
playing. You know how he can play."
    "Indeed I do! You must miss his playing, too."
    "I do; he talks of that, also," she hurried on, working her
fingers nervously together; "but oftenest he--he speaks of
singing, and I can't quite understand that, for he did n't ever
sing, you know."
    "Singing? What does he say?" The man asked the question
because he saw that it was affording the overwrought little
woman real relief to free her mind; but at the first words of
her reply he became suddenly alert.
    "It's 'his song,' as he calls it, that he talks about,
always. It is n't much--what he says--but I noticed it because
he always says the same thing, like this:, I'll just hold up my
chin and march straight on and on, and I'll sing it with all my
might and main.' And when I ask him what he's going to sing, he
always says, 'My song--my song,' just like that. Do you think,
Mr. Jack, he did have--a song?"
    For a moment the man did not answer. Something in his
throat tightened, and held the words. Then, in a low voice he
managed to stammer:--
    "I think he did, Mrs. Holly, and--I think
he sang it, too." The next moment, with a quick lifting of his
hat and a murmured "I'll call again soon," he turned and walked
swiftly down the driveway.
    So very swiftly, indeed, was Mr. Jack walking, and so
self-absorbed was he, that he did not see the carriage until it
was almost upon him; then he stepped aside to let it pass. What
he saw as he gravely raised his hat was a handsome span of black
horses, a liveried coachman, and a pair of startled eyes looking
straight into his. What he did not see was the quick gesture
with which Miss Holbrook almost ordered her carriage stopped the
minute it had passed him by.

                                CHAPTER XXII
                               AS PERRY SAW IT

ONE by one the days passed, and there came from the anxious
watchers at David's bedside only the words, "There's very little
change." Often Jack Gurnsey went to the farmhouse to inquire for
the boy. Often, too, he saw Perry Larson; and Perry was never
loath to talk of David. It was from Perry, indeed, that Gurnsey
began to learn some things of David that he had never known
    "It does beat all," Perry Larson said to him one day, "how
many folks asks me how that boy is--folks that you'd never think
knew him, anyhow, ter say nothin' of carin' whether he lived or
died. Now, there's old Mis' Somers, fur instance. You know what
she is--sour as a lemon an' puckery as a chokecherry. Well, if
she did n't give me yesterday a great bo-kay o' posies she'd
growed herself, an' said they was fur him--that they berlonged
ter him, anyhow.
    " 'Course, I did n't exactly sense what she
meant by that, so I asked her straight out; an' it seems that
somehow, when the boy first come, he struck her place one day
an' spied a great big red rose on one of her bushes. It seems he
had his fiddle, an' he, played it,--that rose a-growin' (you
know his way!), an' she heard an' spoke up pretty sharp an'
asked him what in time he was doin'. Well, most kids would 'a'
run,--knowin' her temper as they does,--but not much David. He
stands up as pert as ye please, an' tells her how happy that red
rose must be ter make all that dreary garden look so pretty; an'
then he goes on, merry as a lark, a-playin' down the hill.
    "Well, Mis' Somers owned up ter me that she was pretty mad
at the time, 'cause her garden did look like tunket, an' she
knew it. She said she had n't cared ter do a thing with it since
her Bessie died that thought so much of it. But after what David
had said, even mad as she was, the thing kind o' got on her
nerves, an' she could n't see a thing, day or night, but that
red rose a-growin' there so pert an' courageous-like, until at
last, jest ter quiet herself, she fairly had ter set to an'
slick that garden up! She said she raked an' weeded, an' fixed up
all the plants there was, in good shape, an' then she sent down to
the Junction fur some all growed in pots, 'cause 't was too late
ter plant seeds. An, now it's doin' beautiful, so she jest could
n't help sendin' them posies ter David. When I told Mis' Holly,
she said she was glad it happened, 'cause what Mis' Somers
needed was somethin' ter git her out of herself--an' I'm free
ter say she did look better-natured, an' no mistake,--kind o'
like a chokecherry in blossom, ye might say."
    "An' then there's the Widder Glaspell," continued Perry,
after a pause." 'Course, any one would expect she'd feel bad,
seein' as how good David was ter her boy--teachin' him ter play,
ye know. But Mis' Glaspell says Joe jest does take on somethin'
turrible, an' he won't tech the fiddle, though he was plum
carried away with it when David was well an' teachin' of him.
An' there's the Clark kid. He's lame, ye know, an' he thought
the world an' all of David's playin'.
    " 'Course, there's you an' Miss Holbrook, always askin' an'
sendin' things--but that ain't so strange, 'cause you was
'specially his friends. But it's them others what beats me.
Why, some days it's 'most ev'ry soul I meet, jest askin' how he
is, an' sayin' they hopes he'll git well. Sometimes it's kids
that he's played to, an' I'll be triggered if one of 'em one day
did n't have no excuse to offer except that David had fit
him--'bout a cat, or somethin'--an' that ever since then he'd
thought a heap of him--though he guessed David did n't know it.
Listen ter that, will ye!
    "An' once a woman held me up, an' took on turrible, but all
I could git from her was that he'd sat on her doorstep an'
played ter her baby once or twice;--as if that was anythin'! But
one of the derndest funny ones was the woman who said she could
wash her dishes a sight easier after she'd a-seen him go by
playin'. There was Bill Dowd, too. You know he really has got a
screw loose in his head somewheres, an' there ain't any one but
what says he's the town fool, all right. Well, what do ye think
he said?"
    Mr. Jack shook his head.
    "Well, he said he did hope as how nothin' would happen ter
that boy" cause he did so like ter see him smile, an' that he
always did smile every time he met him! There, what do ye
think o' that?"
    "Well, I think, Perry," returned.Mr. Jack soberly, "that
Bill Dowd was n't playing the fool, when he said that, quite so
much as he sometimes is, perhaps."
    "Hm-m, maybe not," murmured Perry Larson perplexedly."
Still, I'm free ter say I do think 't was kind o' queer." He
paused, then slapped his knee suddenly." Say, did I tell ye
about Streeter--Old Bill Streeter an' the pear tree?"
    Again Mr. Jack shook his head.
    "Well, then, I'm goin' to," declared the other, with
gleeful emphasis. "An', say, I don't believe even you can
explain this--I don't! Well, you know Streeter--ev'ry one does,
so I ain't sayin' nothin' sland'rous. He was cut on a bias, an'
that bias runs ter money every time. You know as well as I do
that he won't lift his finger unless there's a dollar stickin'
to it, an' that he hain't no use fur anythin' nor anybody unless
there's money in it for him. I'm blamed if I don't think that if
he ever gits ter heaven, he'll pluck his own wings an' sell the
feathers fur what they'll bring."
    "Oh, Perry!" remonstrated Mr. Jack, in a half-stifled
    Perry Larson only grinned and went on imperturbably.
    "Well, seein' as we both understand what he is, I'll tell
ye what he done. He called me up ter his fence one day, big as
life, an' says he, 'How's the boy?' An' you could 'a' knocked me
down with a feather. Streeter--a-askin' how a boy was that was
sick! An' he seemed ter care, too. I hain't seen him look so
longfaced since--since he was paid up on a sartin note I knows
of, jest as he was smackin' his lips over a nice fat farm that
was comin' to him!
    "Well, I was that plum puzzled that I meant ter find out
why Streeter was takin' sech notice, if I hung fur it. So I set
to on a little detective work of my own, knowin', of course,
that 't wa'n't no use askin' of him himself. Well, an' what do
you s'pose I found out? If that little scamp of a boy had n't
even got round him--Streeter, the skinflint! He had--an' he went
there often, the neighbors said; an' Streeter doted on him. They
declared that actually he give him a cent once--though that part
I ain't swallerin' yet.
    "They said--the neighbors did--that it all started from the
pear tree--that big one ter the left of his house. Maybe you
remember it. Well, anyhow, it seems that it's old, an' through
bearin' any fruit, though it still blossoms fit ter kill, every
year, only a little late 'most always, an' the blossoms stay on
longer'n common, as if they knew there wa'n't nothin' doin'
later. Well, old Streeter said it had got ter come down. I
reckon he suspected it of swipin' some of the sunshine, or maybe
a little rain that belonged ter the tree t'other side of the
road what did bear fruit an' was worth somethin'! Anyhow, he got
his man an' his axe, an' was plum ready ter start in when he
sees David an' David sees him.
    " 'T was when the boy first come. He'd gone ter walk an'
had struck this pear tree, all in bloom,--an' 'course, you know
how the boy would act--a pear tree, bloomin', is a likely sight,
I'll own. He danced and laughed and clapped his hands,--he did
n't have his fiddle with him,--an' carried on like all
possessed. Then he sees the man with the axe, an' Streeter an'
Streeter sees him.
    "They said it was rich then--Bill Warner
heard it all from t'other side of the fence. He said that David,
when he found out what was goin' ter happen, went clean crazy,
an' rampaged on at such a rate that old Streeter could n't do
nothin' but stand an' stare, until he finally managed ter growl
out:, But I tell ye, boy, the tree ain't no use no more!'
    "Bill says the boy flew all to pieces then. 'No use--no
use!' he cries; 'such a perfectly beautiful thing as that no
use! Why, it don't have ter be any use when it's so pretty. It's
jest ter look at an' love, an' be happy with!' Fancy sayin' that
ter old Streeter! I'd like ter seen his face. But Bill says that
wa'n't half what the boy said. He declared that 't was God's
present, anyhow, that trees was; an' that the things He give us
ter look at was jest as much use as the things He give us ter
eat; an' that the stars an' the sunsets an' the snowflakes an'
the little white cloud-boats, an' I don't know what-all, was
jest as important in the Orchestra of Life as turnips an'
squashes. An' then, Billy says, he ended by jest flingin'
himself on ter Streeter an' beggin' him ter wait till he could
go back an' git his fiddle so he could tell him what a beautiful
thing that tree was.
    "Well, if you'll believe it, old Streeter was so plum
befuzzled he sent the man an' the axe away--an' that tree's
a-livin' ter-day--'t is!" he finished; then, with a sudden gloom
on his face, Larson added, huskily: "An' I only hope I'll be
sayin' the same thing of that boy--come next month at this
    "We'll hope you will," sighed the other fervently.
    And so one by one the days passed, while the whole town
waited and while in the great airy "parlor bedroom" of the Holly
farmhouse one small boy fought his battle for life. Then came
the blackest day and night of all when the town could only wait
and watch--it had lost its hope; when the doctors shook their
heads and refused to meet Mrs. Holly's eyes; when the pulse in
the slim wrist outside the coverlet played hide-and-seek with
the cool, persistent fingers that sought so earnestly for it;
when Perry Larson sat for uncounted sleepless hours by the
kitchen stove, and fearfully listened for a step crossing the
hallway; when Mr. Jack on his porch, and Miss Holbrook in her
tower widow, went with David down into the dark valley, and came
so near the rushing river that life, with its petty prides and
prejudices, could never seem quite the same to them again.
    Then, after that blackest day and night, came the dawn--as
the dawns do come after the blackest of days and nights. In the
slender wrist outside the coverlet the pulse gained and
steadied. On the forehead beneath the nurse's fingers, a
moisture came. The doctors nodded their heads now, and looked
every one straight in the eye. "He will live," they said. "The
crisis is passed." Out by the kitchen stove Perry Larson heard
the step cross the hall and sprang upright; but at the first
glimpse of Mrs. Holly's tear-wet, yet radiant face, he collapsed
    "Gosh!" he muttered. "Say, do you know, I did n't s'pose I
did care so much! I reckon I'll go an' tell Mr. Jack. He'll want
ter hear."

                                CHAPTER XXIII

DAVID'S convalescence was picturesque, in a way. As soon as he
was able, like a king he sat upon his throne and received his
subjects; and a very gracious king he was, indeed. His room
overflowed with flowers and fruit, and his bed quite groaned
with the toys and books and games brought for his diversion,
each one of which he hailed with delight, from Miss Holbrook's
sumptuously bound "Waverley Novels" to little crippled Jimmy
Clark's bag of marbles.
    Only two things puzzled David: one was why everybody was so
good to him; and the other was why he never could have the
pleasure of both Mr. Jack's and Miss Holbrook's company at the
same time.
    David discovered this last curious circumstance concerning
Mr. Jack and Miss Holbrook very early in his convalescence. It
was on the second afternoon that Mr. Jack had been ad-
mitted to the sick-room. David had been hearing all the latest
news of Jill and Joe, when suddenly he noticed an odd change
come to his visitor's face.
    The windows of the Holly "parlor bedroom" commanded a fine
view of the road, and it was toward one of these windows that
Mr. Jack's eyes were directed. David, sitting up in bed, saw
then that down the road was approaching very swiftly a handsome
span of black horses and an open carriage which he had come to
recognize as belonging to Miss Holbrook. He watched it eagerly
now till he saw the horses turn in at the Holly driveway. Then
he gave a low cry of delight.
    "It's my Lady of the Roses! She's coming to see me. Look!
Oh, I'm so glad! Now you'll see her, and just know how lovely
she is. Why, Mr. Jack, you are n't going now!" he broke off in
manifest disappointment, as Mr. Jack leaped to his feet.
    "I think I'll have to, if you don't mind, David," returned
the man, an oddly nervous haste in his manner. "And you won't
mind, now that you'll have Miss Holbrook. I want to speak to
Larson. I saw him in the field out there a minute ago. And I
guess I'll slip right through this window here, too, David.
I don't want to lose him; and I can catch him quicker this way
than any other," he finished, throwing up the sash.
    "Oh, but Mr. Jack, please just wait a minute," begged
David. "I wanted you to see my Lady of the Roses, and--" But Mr.
Jack was already on the ground outside the low window, and the
next minute, with a merry nod and smile, he had pulled the sash
down after him and was hurrying away.
    Almost at once, then, Miss Holbrook appeared at the bedroom
    "Mrs. Holly said I was to walk right in, David, so here I
am," she began, in a cheery voice. "Oh, you're looking lots
better than when I saw you Monday, young man!"
    "I am better," caroled David; "and to-day I'm 'specially
better, because Mr. Jack has been here."
    "Oh, has Mr. Jack been to see you to-day?" There was an
indefinable change in Miss Holbrook's voice.
    "Yes, right now. Why, he was here when you were driving
into the yard."
    Miss Holbrook gave a perceptible start and looked about her
a little wildly.
    "Here when--But I did n't meet him anywhere--in the hall."
    "He did n't go through the hall," laughed David gleefully.
"He went right through that window there."
    "The window!" An angry flush mounted to Miss Holbrook's
forehead." Indeed, did he have to resort to that to escape--"
She bit her lip and stopped abruptly.
    David's eyes widened a little.
    "Escape? Oh, he was n't the one that was escaping. It was
Perry. Mr. Jack was afraid he'd lose him. He saw him out the
window there, right after he'd seen you, and he said he wanted
to speak to him and he was afraid he'd get away. So he jumped
right through that window there. See?"
    "Oh, yes, I--see," murmured Miss Holbrook, in a voice David
thought was a little queer.
    "I wanted him to stay," frowned David uncertainly. "I
wanted him to see you."
    "Dear me, David, I hope you did n't tell him so."
    "Oh, yes, I did. But he could n't stay, even then. You see,
he wanted to catch Perry Larson."
    "I've no doubt of it," retorted Miss Holbrook, with so much
emphasis that David again looked at her with a slightly
disturbed frown."
    But he'll come again soon, I'm sure, and then maybe you'll
be here, too. I do so want him to see you, Lady of the Roses!"
    "Nonsense, David!" laughed Miss Holbrook alittle nervously.
"Mr.--Mr. Gurnsey does n't want to see me. He's seen me dozens
of times."
    "Oh, yes, he told me he'd seen you long ago," nodded David
gravely; "but he did n't act as if he remembered it much."
    "Did n't he, indeed!" laughed Miss Holbrook, again flushing
a little." Well, I'm sure, dear, we would n't want to tax the
poor gentleman's memory too much, you know. Come, suppose you
see what I've brought you," she finished gayly.
    "Oh, what is it?" cried David, as, under Miss Holbrook's
swift fingers, the wrappings fell away and disclosed a box
which, upon being opened, was found to be filled with quantities
of oddly shaped bits of pictured wood--a jumble of confusion.
    "It's a jig-saw puzzle, David. All these little pieces
fitted together make a picture, you see. I tried last night and
I could n't do it. I brought it down to see if you could."
    "Oh, thank you! I'd love to," rejoiced the boy. And in the
fascination of the marvel of finding one fantastic bit that
fitted another, David apparently forgot all about Mr.
Jack--which seemed not unpleasing to his Lady of the Roses.
    It was not until nearly a week later that David had his
wish of seeing his Mr. Jack and his Lady of the Roses meet at
his bedside. It was the day Miss Holbrook brought to him the
wonderful set of handsomely bound "Waverley Novels." He was
still glorying in his new possession, in fact, when Mr. Jack
appeared suddenly in the doorway.
    "Hullo my boy, I just--Oh, I beg your pardon. I supposed
you were--alone," he stammered, lookig very red indeed.
    "He is--that is, he will be, soon--except for you, Mr.
Gurnsey," smiled Miss Holbrook, very brightly. She was already
on her feet.
    "No, no, I beg of you," stammered Mr. Jack, growing still
more red. "Don't let me drive--that is, I mean, don't go,
please. I did n't know. I had no warning--I did n't see--Your
carriage was not at the door to-day."
    Miss Holbrook's eyebrows rose the fraction of an inch.
    "I sent it home. I am planning to walk back. I have several
calls to make on the way; and it's high time I was starting.
Good-bye, David."
    "But, Lady, of the Roses, please, please, don't go,"
besought David, who had been looking from one to the other in
worried dismay. "Why, you've just come!"
    But neither coaxing nor argument availed; and before David
really knew just what had happened, he found himself alone with
Mr. Jack.
    Even then disappointment was piled on disappointment, for
Mr. Jack's visit was not the unalloyed happiness it usually was.
Mr. Jack himself was almost cross at first, and then he was
silent and restless, moving jerkily about the room in a way that
disturbed David very much.
    Mr. Jack had brought with him a book; but even that only
made matters worse, for when he saw the beautifully bound
volumes that Miss Holbrook had just left, he frowned, and told
David that he guessed he did not need his gift at all, with
all those other fine books. And David could not seem to make
him understand that the one book from him was just exactly
as dear as were the whole set of books that his Lady of the
Roses brought.
    Certainly it was not a satisfactory visit at all, and for
the first time David was almost glad to have Mr. Jack go and
leave him with his books. The books, David told himself, he
could understand; Mr. Jack he could not--to-day.
    Several times after this David's Lady of the Roses and Mr.
Jack happened to call at the same hour; but never could David
persuade these two friends of his to stay together. Always, if
one came and the other was there, the other went away, in spite
of David's protestations that two people did not tire him at all
and his assertions that he often entertained as many as that at
once. Tractable as they were in all other ways, anxious as they
seemed to please him, on this one point they were obdurate:
never would they stay together.
    They were not angry with each other--David was sure of
that, for they were always very especially polite, and rose, and
stood, and bowed in a most delightful fashion. Still, he
sometimes thought that they did not quite like each other, for
always, after the one went away, the other, left behind, was
silent and almost stern--if it was Mr. Jack; and flushed-faced
and nervous--if it was Miss Holbrook. But why this was so David
could not understand.
    The span of handsome black horses came very frequently to
the Holly farmhouse now, and as time passed they often bore away
behind them a white-faced but happy-eyed boy on the seat beside
Miss Holbrook.
    "My, but I don't see how every one can be so good to me!"
exclaimed the boy, one day, to his Lady of the Roses.
    "Oh, that's easy, David," she smiled." The only trouble is
to find out what you want--you ask for so little."
    "But I don't need to ask--you do it all beforehand,"
asserted the, boy. "you and Mr. Jack, and everybody."
    "Really? That's good." For a brief moment Miss Holbrook
hesitated; then, as if casually, she asked: "And he tells you
stories, too, I suppose,--this Mr. Jack,--just as he used
to, does n't he?"
    "Well, he never did tell me but one, you know, before; but
he's told me more now, since I've been sick."
    "Oh, yes, I remember, and that one was 'The Princess and
the Pauper'; was n't it? Well, has he told you any
    The boy shook his head with decision.
    "No, he does n't tell me any more like that, and--and I
don't want him to, either."
    Miss Holbrook laughed a little oddly.
    "Why, David, what is the matter with that?" she queried.
    "The ending; it was n't nice, you know."
    "Oh, yes, I--I remember."
    "I've asked him to change it," went on David, in a grieved
voice. "I asked him just the other day, but he would n't."
    "Perhaps he--he did n't want to." Miss Holbrook spoke very
quickly, but so low that David barely heard the words.
    "Did n't want to? Oh, yes, he did! He looked awful sober,
and as if he really cared, you know. And he said he'd give all
he had in the world if he really could change it, but he could n't."
    "Did he say--just that?" Miss Holbrook was leaning forward
a little breathlessly now.
    "Yes--just that; and that's the part I could n't
understand," commented David. "For I don't see why a story--just
a story made up out of somebody's head--can't be changed any way
you want it. And I told him so."
    "Well, and what did he say to that?"
    "He did n't say anything for a minute, and I had to ask him
again. Then he sat up suddenly, just as if he'd been asleep, you
know, and said, 'Eh, what, David?' And then I told him again
what I'd said. This time he shook his head, and smiled that kind
of a smile that is n't really a smile, you know, and said
something about a real, true-to-life story's never having but
one ending, and that was a logical ending. Lady of the Roses,
what is a logical ending?"
    The Lady of the Roses laughed unexpectedly. The two little
red spots, that David always loved to see, flamed into her
cheeks, and her eyes showed a sudden sparkle. When she an-
swered, her words came disconnectedly, with little laughing
breaths between.
    "Well, David, I--I'm not sure I can--tell you. But perhaps
I--can find out. This much, however, I am sure of: Mr. Jack's
logical ending would n't be--mine!"
    What she meant David did not know; nor would she tell him
when he asked; but a few days later she sent for him, and very
gladly David--able now to go where he pleased--obeyed the
    It was November, and the garden was bleak and cold; but in
the library a bright fire danced on the hearth, and before this
Miss Holbrook drew up two low chairs.
    She looked particularly pretty, David thought. The rich red
of her dress had apparently brought out an answering red in her
cheeks. Her eyes were very bright and her lips smiled; yet she
seemed oddly nervous and restless. She sewed a little, with a
bit of yellow silk on white--but not for long. She knitted with
two long ivory needles flashing in and out of a silky mesh of
blue--but this, too, she soon ceased doing. On a low stand at
David's side she had placed books and pictures, and for
a time she talked of those. Then very abruptly she asked:--
    "David, when will you see--Mr. Jack again--do you suppose?"
    "Tomorrow. I'm going up to the House that Jack Built to
tea, and I'm to stay all night. It's Halloween--that is, it is
n't really Halloween, because it's too late. I lost that, being
sick, you know. So we're going to pretend, and Mr. Jack is going
to show me what it is like. That is what Mr. Jack and Jill
always do; when something ails the real thing, they just pretend
with the make-believe one. He's planned lots of things for Jill
and me to do; with nuts and apples and candles, you know. It's
to-morrow night. so I'll see him then."
    "To-morrow? So--so soon?" faltered Miss Holbrook. And to
David, gazing at her with wondering eyes, it seemed for a moment
almost as if she were looking about for a place to which she
might run and hide. Then determinedly, as if she were taking
hold of somethig with both hands, she leaned forward, looked
David squarely in the eyes, and began to talk hurriedly, yet
very distinctly.
    "David, listen. I've something I want you to
say to Mr. Jack, and I want you to be sure and get it just
right. It's about the--the story, 'The Princess and the Pauper,'
you know. You can remember, I think, for you remembered that so
well. Will you say it to him--what I'm going to tell you--just
as I say it?"
    "Why, of course I will!" David's promise was unhesitating,
though his eyes were still puzzled.
    "It's about the--the ending," stammered Miss Holbrook.
"That is, it may--it may have something to do with the
ending--perhaps," she finished lamely. And again David noticed
that odd shifting of Miss Holbrook's gaze as if she were
searching for some means of escape. Then, as before, he saw her
chin lift determinedly, as she began to talk faster than ever.
    "Now, listen," she admonished him, earnestly.
    And David listened.

                                CHAPTER XXIV
                              A STORY REMODELED

THE pretended Halloween was a great suceess. So very excited,
indeed, did David become over the swinging apples and popping
nuts that he quite forgot to tell Mr. Jack what the Lady of the
Roses had said until Jill had gone up to bed and he himself was
about to take from Mr. Jack's hand the little lighted lamp.
    "Oh, Mr. Jack, I forgot," he cried then. "There was
something I was going to tell you."
    "Never mind to-night, David; it's so late. Suppose we leave
it until to-morrow," suggested Mr. Jack, still with the lamp
extended in his hand.
    "But I promised the Lady of the Roses that I'd say it
to-night," demurred the boy, in a troubled voice.
    The man drew his lamp halfway back suddenly.
    "The Lady of the Roses! Do you mean--she sent a message--to
me?" he demanded.
    "Yes; about the story, 'The Princess and the Pauper,' you
    With an abrupt exclamation Mr. Jack set the lamp on the
table and turned to a chair. He had apparently lost his haste to
go to bed.
    "See here, David, suppose you come and sit down, and tell
me just what you're talking about. And first--just what does the
Lady of the Roses know about that--that 'Princess and the
    "Why, she knows it all, of course," returned the boy in
surprise. "I told it to her."
    "You--told--it--to her!" Mr. Jack relaxed in his chair.
    "Yes. And she was just as interested as could be."
    "I don't doubt it!" Mr. Jack's lips snapped together a
little grimly.
    "Only she did n't like the ending, either."
    Mr. Jack sat up suddenly.
    "She did n't like--David, are you sure? Did she say that?"
    David frowned in thought.
    "Well, I don't know as I can tell, exactly, but I'm sure
she did n't like it, because just before she told me what to say
to you, she said that--that what she was going to say would
probably have something to do with the ending, anyway. Still--"
David paused in yet deeper thought. "Come to think of it, there
really is n't anything--not in what she said--that changed that
ending, as I can see. They did n't get married and live happy
ever after, anyhow."
    "Yes, but what did she say?" asked Mr. Jack in a voice that
was not quite steady. "Now, be careful, David, and tell it just
as she said it."
    "Oh, I will," nodded David." She said to do that, too."
    "Did she?" Mr. Jack leaned farther forward in his chair.
"But tell me, how did she happen to--to say anything about it?
Suppose you begin at the beginning--away back, David. I want to
hear it all--all!"
    David gave a contented sigh, and settled himself more
    "Well, to begin with, you see, I told her the story long
ago, before I was sick, and she was ever so interested then, and
asked lots of questions. Then the other day something came
up--I've forgotten how--about the ending, and I told her how
hard I'd tried to have you change it, but you would n't. And she
spoke right up quick and said probably you did n't want to change
it, anyhow. But of course I settled that question without any
trouble," went on David confidently, "by just telling her how
you said you'd give anything in the world to change it."
    "And you told her that--just that, David?" cried the man.
    "Why, yes, I had to," answered David, in surprise, "else
she would n't have known that you did want to change it. Don't
you see?"
    "Oh, yes! I--see--a good deal that I'm thinking you don't,"
muttered Mr. Jack, fallig back in his chair.
    "Well, then is when I told her about the logical
ending--what you said, you know,--oh, yes! and that was when I
found out she did n't like the ending, because she laughed such
a funny little laugh and colored up, and said that she was n't
sure she could tell me what a logical ending was, but that she
would try to find out, and that, anyhow, your ending would n't
be hers--she was sure of that."
    "David, did she say that--really?" Mr. Jack was on his feet
    "She did; and then yesterday she asked me to come over, and
she said some more things,--about the story, I mean,--but she
did n't say another thing about the ending. She did n't ever say
anything about that except that little bit I told you of a
minute ago."
    "Yes, yes, but what did she say?" demanded Mr. Jack,
stopping short in his walk up and down the room.
    "She said: 'You tell Mr. Jack that I know something about
that story of his that perhaps he does n't. In the first place,
I know the Princess a lot better than he does, and she is n't a
bit the kind of girl he's pictured her."
    "Yes! Go on--go on!"
    " 'Now, for instance,' she says, 'when the boy made that
call, after the girl first came back, and when the boy did n't
like it because they talked of colleges and travels, and such
things, you tell him that I happen to know that that girl was
just hoping and hoping he'd speak of the old days and games; but
that she could n't speak, of course, when he had n't been even
once to see her during all those weeks, and when he'd acted in
every way just as if he'd forgotten.' "
    "But she had n't waved--that Princess had n't waved--once!"
argued Mr. Jack; "and he looked and looked for it."
    "Yes, she spoke of that," returned David. "But she said she
shouldn't think the Princess would have waved, when she'd got to
be such a great big girl as that--waving to a boy! She said that
for her part she should have been ashamed of her if she had!"
    "Oh, did she!" murmured Mr. Jack blankly, dropping suddenly
into his chair.
    "Yes, she did," repeated David, with a little virtuous
uplifting of his chin.
    It was plain to be seen that David's sympathies had
unaccountably met with a change of heart.
    "But--the Pauper--"
    "Oh, yes, and that's another thing," interrupted David.
"The Lady of the Roses said that she did n't like that name one
bit; that it was n't true, anyway, because he was n't a pauper.
And she said, too, that as for his picturing the Princess as
being perfectly happy in all that magnificence, he did n't get
it right at all. For she knew that the Princess was n't one bit
happy, because she was so lonesome for things and people she
had known when she was just the girl." Again Mr. Jack sprang
to his feet. For a minute he strode up and down the room in
silence; then in a shaking voice he asked:--"
    David, you--you are n't making all this up, are you? You're
saying just what--what Miss Holbrook told you to?"
    "Why, of course, I'm not making it up," protested the boy
aggrievedly. "This is the Lady of the Roses' story--she made it
up--only she talked it as if 't was real, of course, just as you
did. She said another thing, too. She said that she happened to
know that the Princess had got all that magnificence around her
in the first place just to see if it would n't make her happy,
but that it had n't, and that now she had one place--a little
room--that was left just as it used to be when she was the girl,
and that she went there and sat very often. And she said it was
right in sight of where the boy lived, too, where he could see
it every day; and that if he had n't been so blind he could have
looked right through those gray walls and seen that, and seen
lots of other things. And what did she mean by that, Mr. Jack?"
    "I don't know--I don't know, David," half-groaned Mr. Jack.
"Sometimes I think she means--and then I think that can't
    "But do you think it's helped it any--the story?" persisted
the boy. "She's only talked a little about the Pricess. She did
n't really change things any--not the ending."
    "But she said it might, David--she said it might! Don't you
remember?" cried the man eagerly. And to David, his eagerness
did not seem at all strange. Mr. Jack had said before--long
ago--that he would be very glad indeed to have a happier ending
to this tale. "Think now," continued the man. "Perhaps she said
something else, too. Did she say anything else, David?"
    David shook his head slowly.
    "No, only--yes, there was a little something, but it does
n't change things any, for it was only a 'supposing.' She said:
'Just supposing, after long years, that the Princess found out
about how the boy felt long ago, and suppose he should look up
at the tower some day, at the old time, and see a one--two wave,
which meant, "Come over to see me." Just what do
you suppose he would do?' But of course, that can't do any
good," finished David gloomily, as he rose to go to bed, "for
that was only a 'supposing.' "
    "Of course," agreed Mr. Jack steadily; and David did not
know that only stern self-control had forced the steadiness into
that voice, nor that, for Mr. Jack, the whole world had burst
suddenly into song.
    Neither did David, the next morning, know that long before
eight o'clock Mr. Jack stood at a certain window, his eyes
unswervingly fixed on the gray towers of Sunnycrest. What David
did know, however, was that just after eight, Mr. Jack strode
through the room where he and Jill were playing checkers, flung
himself into his hat and coat, and then fairly leaped down the
steps toward the path that led to the footbridge at the bottom
of the hill.
    "Why, whatever in the world ails Jack?" gasped Jill. Then,
after a startled pause, she asked. "David, do folks ever go
crazy for joy? Yesterday, you see, Jack got two splendid pieces
of news. One was from his doctor. He was examined, and he's
fine, the doctor says; all well, so he can go back, now any
time, to the city and work. I shall go to school then, you
know,--a young ladies' school," she finished, a little importantly.
    "He's well? How splendid! But what was the other news? You
said there were two; only it could n't have been nicer than that
was; to be well--all well!"
    "The other? Well, that was only that his old place in the
city was waiting for him. He was with a firm of big lawyers, you
know, and of course it is nice to have a place all waiting. But
I can't see anything in those things to make him act like this,
now. Can you?"
    "Why, yes, maybe," declared David. "He's found his
work--don't you see?--out in the world, and he's going to do it.
I know how I'd feel if I had found mine that father told me of!
Only what I can't understand is, if Mr. Jack knew all this
yesterday, why did n't he act like this then, instead of waiting
till to-day?"
    "I wonder," said Jill.

                                CHAPTER XXV
                            THE BEAUTIFUL WORLD

DAVID found many new songs in his violin those early winter
days, and they were very beautiful ones. To begin with, there
were all the kindly looks and deeds that were showered upon him
from every side. There was the first snowstorm, too, with the
feathery flakes turning all the world to fairy whiteness. This
song David played to Mr. Streeter, one day, and great was his
disappointment that the man could not seem to understand what
the song said.
    "But don't you see?" pleaded David. "I'm telling you that
it's your pear-tree blossoms come back to say how glad they are
that you did n't kill them that day."
    "Pear-tree blossoms--come back!" ejaculated the old man.
"Well, no, I can't see. Where's yer pear-tree blossoms?"
    "Why, there--out of the window--everywhere," urged the boy.
    "There! By ginger! boy--ye don't mean--ye can't mean the
    "Of course I do! Now, can't you see it? Why, the whole tree
was just a great big cloud of snowflakes. Don't you remember?
Well, now it's gone away and got a whole lot more trees, and all
the little white petals have come dancing down to celebrate, and
to tell you they sure are coming back next year."
    "Well, by ginger!" exclaimed the man again. Then, suddenly,
he threw back his head with a hearty laugh. David did not quite
like the laugh, neither did he care for the five-cent piece that
the man thrust into his fingers a little later; though--had
David but known it--both the laugh and the five-cent piece gift
were--for the uncomprehending man who gave them--white
milestones along an unfamiliar way.
    It was soon after this that there came to David the great
surprise--his beloved Lady of the Roses and his no less beloved
Mr. Jack were to be married at the beginning of the New Year. So
very surprised, indeed, was David at this, that even his violin
was mute, and had nothing, at first, to say about it. But to Mr.
Jack, as man to man, David said one day:--
    "I thought men, when they married women,
went courting. In story-books they do. And you--you hardly ever
said a word to my beautiful Lady of the Roses; and you spoke
once--long ago--as if you scarcely remembered her at all. Now,
what do you mean by that?"
    And Mr. Jack laughed, but he grew red, too,--and then he
told it all,--that it was just the story of "The Princess and
the Pauper," and that he, David, had been the one, as it
happened, to do part of their courting for them.
    And how David had laughed then, and how he had fairly
hugged himself for joy! And when next he had picked up his
violin, what a beautiful, beautiful song he had found about it
in the vibrant strings!
    It was this same song, as it chanced, that he was playing
in his room that Saturday afternoon when the letter from Simeon
Holly's long-lost son John came to the Holly farmhouse.
    Downstairs in the kitchen, Simeon Holly stood, with the
letter in his hand.
    "Ellen, we've got a letter from--John," he said. That
Simeon Holly spoke of it at all showed how very far along his
unfamiliar way he had come since the last letter from John had
    "From--John? Oh, Simeon! From John?"
    Simeon sat down and tried to hide the shaking of his hand
as he ran the point of his knife under the flap of the envelope.
"We'll see what--he says." And to hear him, one might have
thought that letters from John were everyday occurrences.

    DEAR FATHER: Twice before I have written [ran the letter],
and received no answer. But I'm going to make one more effort
for forgiveness. May I not come to you this Christmas? I have a
little boy of my own now, and my heart aches for you. I know how
I should feel, should he, in years to come, do as I did.
    I'll not deceive you--I have not given up my art. You told
me once to choose between you and it--and I chose, I suppose; at
least, I ran away. Yet in the face of all that, I ask you again,
may I not come to you at Christmas? I want you, father, and I
want mother. And I want you to see my boy.

    "Well?" said Simeon Holly, trying to speak with a steady
coldness that would not show how deeply moved he was. "Well,
    "Yes, Simeon, yes!" choked his wife, a world of mother-love
and longing in her pleading eyes and voice. "Yes--you'll let it
    "Uncle Simeon, Aunt Ellen," called David, clattering down
the stairs from his room, "I've found such a beautiful song in
my violin, and I'm going to play it over and over so as to be
sure and remember it for father--for it is a beautiful world,
Uncle Simeon, is n't it? Now, listen!"
    And Simeon Holly listened--but it was not the violin that
he heard. It was the voice of a little curly-headed boy out of
the past.
    When David stopped playing some time later, only the woman
sat watching him--the man was over at his desk, pen in hand.
    John, John's wife, and John's boy came the day before
Christmas, and great was the excitement in the Holly farmhouse.
John was found to be big, strong, and bronzed with the outdoor
life of many a sketching trip--a son to be proud of, and to be
leaned upon in one's old age. Mrs. John, according to Perry
Larson, was "the slickest little woman goin'." According to
John's mother, she was an almost unbelievable incarnation of a
long-dreamed-of, long-despaired-of daughter--sweet, lovable, and
charmingly beautiful. Little John--little John was himself; and
he could not have been more had he been an angel-cherub
straight from heaven--which, in fact, he was, in his doting
grandparents' eyes.
    John Holly had been at his old home less than four hours
when he chanced upon David's violin. He was with his father and
mother at the time. There was no one else in the room. With a
sidelong glance at his parents, he picked up the
instrument--John Holly had not forgotten his own youth. His
violin-playing in the old days had not been welcome, he
    "A fiddle! Who plays?" he asked.
    "Oh, the boy. You say you--took him in? By the way, what an
odd little shaver he is! Never did I see a boy like him." Simeon
Holly's head came up almost aggressively.
    "David is a good boy--a very good boy, indeed, John. We
think a great deal of him."
    John Holly laughed lightly, yet his brow carried a puzzled
frown. Two things John Holly had not been able thus far to
understand: an indefinable change in his father, and the
position of the boy David, in the household--
John Holly was still remembering his own repressed youth.
    "Hm-m," he murmured, softly picking the strings, then
drawing across them a tentative bow." I've a fiddle at home that
I play sometimes. Do you mind if I--tune her up?"
    A flicker of something that was very near to humor flashed
from his father's eyes.
    "Oh, no. We are used to that--now." And again John Holly
remembered his youth.
    "Jove! but he's got the dandy instrument here," cried the
player, dropping his bow after the first half-dozen superbly
vibrant tones, and carrying the violin to the window. A moment
later he gave an amazed ejaculation and turned on his father a
dumfounded face.
    "Great Scott, father! Where did that boy get this
instrument? I know something of violins, if I can't play them
much; and this--! Where did he get it?"
    "Of his father, I suppose. He had it when he came here,
    " 'Had it when he came'! But, father, you said he was a
tramp, and--oh, come, tell me, what is the secret behind this?
Here I come home and find calmly reposing on my father's
sitting-room table a violin that's priceless, for all I know.
Anyhow, I do know that its value is reckoned in the thousands,
not hundreds: and yet you, with equal calmness, tell me it's
owned by this boy who, it's safe to say, does n't know how to
play sixteen notes on it correctly, to say nothing of
appreciating those he does play; and who, by your own account,
is nothing but--" A swiftly uplifted hand of warning stayed the
words on his lips. He turned to see David himself in the
    "Come in, David," said Simeon Holly quietly. "My son wants
to hear you play. I don't think he has heard you." And again
there flashed from Simeon Holly's eyes a something very much
like humor.
    With obvious hesitation John Holly relinquished the violin.
From the expression on his face it was plain to be seen the sort
of torture he deemed was before him. But, as if constrained to
ask the question, he did say:--
    "Where did you get this violin, boy?"
    "I don't know. We've always had it, ever since I could
remember--this and the other one."
    "The other one!"
    "Oh!" He hesitated; then, a little severely, he observed:
"This is a fine instrument, boy,--a very fine instrument."
    "Yes," nodded David, with a cheerful smile. "Father said it
was. I like it, too. This is an Amati, but the other is a
Stradivarius. I don't know which I do like best, sometimes, only
this is mine."
    With a half-smothered ejaculation John Holly fell back
    "Then you--do--know?" he challenged.
    "The value of that violin in your hands."
    There was no answer. The boy's eyes were questioning.
    "The worth, I mean,--what it's worth."
    "Why, no--yes--that is, it's worth everything--to me,"
answered David, in a puzzled voice.
    With an impatient gesture John Holly brushed this aside.
    "But the other one--where is that?"
    "At Joe Glaspell's. I gave it to him to play on, because he
had n't any, and he liked to play so well."
    "You gave it to him--a Stradivarius!"
    "I loaned it to him," corrected David, in a troubled voice.
"Being father's, I could n't bear to give it away. But Joe--Joe
had to have something to play on."
    " 'Something to play on'! Father, he does n't mean the
River Street Glaspells?" cried John Holly.
    "I think he does. Joe is old Peleg Glaspell's grandson."
John Holly threw up both his hands.
    "A Stradivarius--to old Peleg's grandson! Oh, ye gods!" he
muttered. "Well, I'll be--" He did not finish his sentence. At
another word from Simeon Holly, David had begun to play.
    From his seat by the stove Simeon Holly watched his son's
face--and smiled. He saw amazement, unbelief, and delight
struggle for the mastery; but before the playing had ceased, he
was summoned by Perry Larson to the kitchen on a matter of
business. So it was into the kitchen that John Holly burst a
little later, eyes and cheek aflame.
    "Father, where in Heaven's name did you get that boy?" he
demanded. "Who taught  him to play like that? I've been trying
to find out from him, but I'd defy Sherlock Holmes himself to
make head or tail of the sort of lingo he talks, about mountain
homes and the Orchestra of Life! Father, what does it mean?"
    Obediently Simeon Holly told the story then, more fully
than he had told it before. He brought forward the letter, too,
with its mysterious signature.
    "Perhaps you can make it out, son," he laughed. "None of
the rest of us can, though I have n't shown it to anybody now
for a long time. I got discouraged long ago of anybody's ever
making it out."
    "Make it out--make it out!" cried John Holly excitedly; "I
should say I could! It's a name known the world over. It's the
name of one of the greatest violinists that ever lived."
    "But how--what--how came he in my barn?" demanded Simeon
    "Easily guessed, from the letter, and from what the world
knows," returned John, his voice still shaking with excitement.
"He was always a queer chap, they say, and full of his notions.
Six or eight years ago his wife died. They say he worshiped her,
and for weeks refused even to touch his violin. Then, very sud-
denly, he, with his four-year-old son, disappeared--dropped
quite out of sight. Some people guessed the reason. I knew a man
who was well acquainted with him, and at the time of the
disappearance he told me quite a lot about him. He said he was
n't a bit surprised at what had happened. That already half a
dozen relatives were interfering with the way he wanted to bring
the boy up, and that David was in a fair way to be spoiled, even
then, with so much attention and flattery. The father had
determined to make a wonderful artist of his son, and he was
known to have said that he believed--as do so many others--that
the first dozen years of a child's life are the making of the
man, and that if he could have the boy to himself that long he
would risk the rest. So it seems he carried out his notion until
he was taken sick, and had to quit--poor chap!"
    "But why did n't he tell us plainly in that note who he
was, then?" fumed Simeon Holly, in manifest irritation.
    "He did, he thought," laughed the other. "He signed his
name, and he supposed that was so well known that just to
mention it would be enough. That's why he kept it so secret
while he was living on the mountain, you see, and that's why
even David himself did n't know it. Of course, if anybody found
out who he was, that ended his scheme, and he knew it. So he
supposed all he had to do at the last was to sign his name to
that note, and everybody would know who he was, and David would
at once be sent to his own people. (There's an aunt and some
cousins, I believe.) You see he did n't reckon on nobody's
being able to read his name! Besides, being so ill, he probably
was n't quite sane, anyway."
    "I see, I see," nodded Simeon Holly, frowning a little.
"And of course if we had made it out, some of us here would have
known it, probably. Now that you call it to mind I think I have
heard it myself in days gone by--though such names mean little
to me. But doubtless somebody would have known. However, that is
all past and gone now."
    "Oh, yes, and no harm done. He fell into good hands,
luckily. You'll soon see the last of him now, of course."
    "Last of him? Oh, no, I shall keep David," said Simeon
Holly, with decision.
    "Keep him! Why, father, you forget who he is! There are
friends, relatives, an adoring public, and a mint of money
awaiting that boy. You can't keep him. You could never have kept
him this long if this little town of yours had n't been buried
in this forgotten valley up among these hills. You'll have the
whole world at your doors the minute they find out he is
here--hills or no hills! Besides, there are his people; they
have some claim."
    There was no answer. With a suddenly old, drawn look on his
face, the elder man had turned away.
    Half an hour later Simeon Holly climbed the stairs to
David's room, and as gently and plainly as he could told the boy
of this great, good thing that had come to him.
    David was amazed, but overjoyed. That he was found to be
the son of a famous man affected him not at all, only so far as
it seemed to set his father right in other eyes--in David's own,
the man had always been supreme. But the going away--the
marvelous going away--filled him with excited wonder.
    "You mean, I shall go away and study--practice--learn more
of my violin?"
    "Yes, David."
    "And hear beautiful music like the organ in church, only
    "I suppose so.".
    "And know people--dear people--who will understand what I
say when I play?"
    Simeon Holly's face paled a little; still, he knew David
had not meant to make it so hard.
    "Why, it's my, start'--just what I was going to have with
the gold-pieces," cried David joyously. Then, uttering a sharp
cry of consternation, he clapped his fingers to his lips.
    "Your--what?" asked the man.
    "N--nothing, really, Mr. Holly,--Uncle
    Something, either the boy's agitation, or the luckless
mention of the gold-pieces sent a sudden dismayed suspicion into
Simeon Holly's eyes.
    "Your 'start'?--the 'gold-pieces'? David, what do you
    David shook his head. He did not intend to tell. But
gently, persistently, Simeon Holly questioned until the whole
piteous little tale lay bare before him: the hopes, the house
of dreams, the sacrifice.
    David saw then what it means when a strong man is shaken by
an emotion that has mastered him; and the sight awed and
frightened the boy.
    "Mr. Holly, is it because I'm--going--that you care--so
much? I never thought--or supposed--you'd--care," he faltered.
    There was no answer. Simeon Holly's eyes were turned quite
    "Uncle Simeon--please! I--I think I don't want to go,
anyway. I--I'm sure I don't want to go--and leave you!"
    Simeon Holly turned then, and spoke.
    "Go? Of course you'll go, David. Do you think I'd tie you
here to me--now?" he choked. "What don't I owe to you--home,
son, happiness! Go?--of course you'll go. I wonder if you really
think I'd let you stay! Come, we'll go down to mother and tell
her. I suspect she'll want to start in to-nighlt to get your
socks all mended up!" And with head erect and a determined step,
Simeon Holly faced the mighty sacrifice in his turn, and led the
way downstairs.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

    The friends, the relatives, the adoring public, the mint of
money--they are all David's now. But once each year, man grown
though he is, he picks up his violin and journeys to a little
village far up among the hills. There in a quiet kitchen he
plays to an old man and an old woman; and always to himself he
says that he is practicing against the time when, his violin at
his chin and the bow drawn across the strings, he shall go to
meet his father in the far-away land, and tell him of the
beautiful world he has left.


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