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bed, and the light was out, for the way off from him. He did not think first time, the boy spoke.
it; he felt it. It was as if the founda“I got my 'pinion o' you," he said. tions of his being were sinking under “Goin' home with a girl! Before I'd him. The pain of his despair was so be a girl-boy!" The scorn in his great that he stirred vigorously. voice was only the measure of his “All right," he said angrily; "if hurt, if Tip had known.
that 's the kind o' felluh you are, all Tip resisted the impulse to anger, right for you!" let him finish, and waited for him to Tip was patient. go on. Then he said:
"Aw, come off!" he said. “You 'll “'T ain't the first time I done it. be seein' 'em home yourself one o' You don't need to worry."
these days, first thing you know." “It's the first time I ever saw you," "Well, I won't!" declared the boy, said the boy.
fiercely, and turned over with a bounce "Huh! that ain't no sign," said Tip. that racked the old bedstead. "You don't see everything I happen to Tip did not answer, but soon turned do, do you?"
on his side, away from the boy, and The boy was not prepared for this. fell asleep. The boy lay on his back, He felt suddenly as if Tip were a long looking up into the dark of the old
north room. He felt terribly about impulse to run those curls at the end the heart, and his throat ached; but through his fingers. She staggered sleep soon stole sweetly upon him, and began to laugh. He turned on too.
Tip with a scowl. The new girl's reading was as “Aw, look out what you 're doin'!" wonderful on the second day as on the he scolded." "You want to knock a first, and almost as surprising. The felluh down?” Then he turned to first time, they were hardly sure it the girl, not quite sure how she took it. had not been accident. This time “I could n't help it,” he said. "He they lost their embarrassment in the shoved me.” wonder of it, and looked at her as she "Oh, that 's all right,” she said read.
lightly. To relieve him still further, It grew warmer, snowed in the night, she smiled and added, “It's dangerand cleared again. The next morning, ous to be safe around here.” as the girl read, the boy saw her braid Both laughed. He liked the way in a streak of bright light. The blue she looked. Teacher came by with ribbon, almost black in the shadow, the bell and went up the aisle to the was bright azure in the sun, and the desk. They took their seats. woven strands above and the soft It grew milder still. Fox-and-geese curls below were pale, shining gold. occupied the morning recesses and This was the first time he had really the noons for the next few days, with looked at her, and even then he took the sliding-place and tumbling in the no notice of her face. She was still drifts by the fence to fill the intervals. only a light-complexioned, freckled On Friday it was so warm by afternoon girl with a fluffy apron and a clear recess that the snow packed, and a voice, not afraid to read out.
big white fort began to take form. At recess they had a game of fox- Saturday was crisper. In the afterand-geese in the fresh snow of the big noon the church hill swarmed with field on the opposite side of the road. big and little boys and girls. The Running in with Tip and the rest new girl was there. Once in a while, when the bell rang, and stopping for as the boy came trudging up with his two or three stolen seconds at the sled and met her careering down, he stove, he found himself again standing waved his hand, or even called out, beside the girl. As he raised his foot "Hello!” Her cheeks were aglow with to get a little warmth before teacher frosty warmth, her eyes sparkled, and came in with the bell, the pressure of her teeth gleamed. The thought Tip and some of the other boys threw crossed his mind for the first time that him over against her. He felt the she was pretty. He was not given to soft clothes again, and his hands reflection, or he would have realized rested for a moment on her back and that it was the first time he had ever shoulders. The braid was under his thought any girl pretty. fingers. He liked the warmth of the At the top of the hill Tip and Lucy dress and the softness of the hair, and were getting ready to go down on noticed in the brief instant that the Tip's long sled. Georgie and Mamie hair was not only soft and glossy, but were paired off, too. They stood a as fine as silk. He had a shadowy moment looking at the black current
of sleds and riders sweeping down and only for a second or two. Tip and dividing the slower current of black Lucy and Georgie and Mamie came figures coming up. The new girl, far darting along, laughing and screaming down in the valley, had just got up and waving at him. and was striding back toward them. “She's waiting for you,” cried Lucy She was the only big girl sliding by as they passed. herself.
"Softies!" said the boy. “GirlTip gave the boy a poke with his boys!" elbow.
The girl was still there when he "Look at her, all alone!” he said came up. The hill below them was banteringly. “Go on; be a man, and alive with darting and trudging figtake 'er down with you."
ures. He kept thinking of what Lucy The boy sniffed.
had called out. He felt a bit embar"Aw, give us a rest!" he said. rassed. Had she really waited for
“Yes,” put in Lucy, “I think you 're him? real mean to go and slide by your- The girl gave her sled a swing. self all the time. Go ahead, and be “Well, here goes for my last," she nice to her. She' d like it, I bet you. said. "I must get home in time to Would n't she, Tip?” she added help get supper.” mischievously.
“Mine, too,” said the boy. “I got “Course she would,” Tip answered. to do chores.” He looked at the boy, who felt his face At the foot of the hill he passed her, growing warm. "And so would he, and then stood waiting for her to come too.”
up. They went across the valley "In a pig's eye he would!" said the together. Once, when he looked back, boy, scornfully.
he saw Tip and the others standing at “Aw, you need n't make believe!" the top of the hill. They saw him cried Tip, with a look at Lucy. “You look, and all waved their hands. know you 're dyin' to go down with Tip let out one of his famous “Yah'er, only you don't dast ask 'er." oo's," as crystal-clear as the frosty The boy turned in disgust.
air. The boy knew they were laugh“Aw, you make me tired!” he said, ing at him, and turned quickly, for and swung his sled around.
fear the girl would notice. He arranged the rope, grasped the "Goin' to-night?" he asked as they sled, took a long run, and came down were parting. with a slam on the hard, shining sur- "I can't,” she answered. “I 've face of the hill, and shot away like got to help my mother.” an arrow. "He-e-ey!” he yelled as He felt less content as he went in he met the girl. She waved to him as and put on his overalls. The same he passed.
sense of something lacking went with He came slowly to a stop rods ahead him to the hill after supper, to be of the other boys, got up, and started forgotten as he shot down the steep, back, thinking. Would she really icy road, and to revive as he toiled like to go down with him? He looked back alone to the top. up to where she was nearing the top, "Ah-ha! so you saw her home, eh?” and quickened his pace. But it was said Tip as they turned their sleds.
another," said Georgie, with enthusiasm. “We'll have a 'Merican and a British fort, and choose sides."
"Le' 's all be there early to-morrow morning," said Tip as they parted.
It was warmer than ever the next day. The snow packed almost with the rising of the sun. Half an hour before school called, the rolling of monster balls and the rearing of ponderous giants filled the schoolground with noisy movement. The enormous globes gathered immensity as they were rolled along, their progress marked by great paths of dark ground, their surfaces speckled with dangling dead leaves that soon began to dry and flutter in the soft southwest wind.
“I guess it 's the January thaw for sure," teacher said to the big girls as, bell in hand, he stood contemplating the enthusiastic scene.
The steps were full, and the new “They all gathered around the red-hot stove" girl was standing inside, at the entry
window. Not far from the window Lucy began to laugh. She had a they were at work on one of the snow hitching sort of laugh.
forts. The boy looked up, exchanged "You made a real nice-looking smiles with the girl, and went at his couple,” she said.
task more vigorously than ever. Soon, "Giggle, why don't you?" said the tying his red bandana to a stick, he boy, with a show of anger, but secretly mounted the wall of the fort, and pleased.
waved defiance at the enemy at work "Oh, no," Tip teased, "you don't on the opposing fortification. like girls! Oh, no!" "Aw, come off! You make me sick,"
“ 'Once more unto the breach, dear said the boy. But he was not dis
friends, once more,
Or close the wall up with our English gusted, and he so far reflected as to be
dead!'" a little bit surprised that he was not disgusted.
he quoted from the fifth reader, with Sunday was bright and warmer. a spirit never possible in the front By noon the eaves were dripping and seat at class-time. the frosty window-panes were almost Tip, at work below him, dropped clear. At Sunday-school, in the after- his shovel. noon, the boys talked of snow forts “Aw, come off your perch!” he said, and snow men.
throwing a great pack of snow, which "We 'll finish that one and put up burst on the boy and toppled him over
the wall. “This ain't no British fort. skin were very thin, and that her lips What you tryin' to do, anyhow? looked soft and warm. When she Show off?"
was out of his sight, he remembered The boy was crestfallen. He knew exactly how her voice sounded and the girl was laughing at his downfall, how she looked when she smiled. and he was aware that he had been One day, when they had just exshowing off. He reddened, and his changed smiles and he was turning face took on a sullen look. It was back, he saw that Lucy's eyes were several days before he allowed himself upon him. They twinkled, and he to speak to the girl again, and then he knew that she had noticed. He went took care that Tip and Lucy should vigorously to work at his geography, not see him do it.
and felt his ears getting red. When But he could not help thinking of he saw her laughing with Tip after her, and in secret he looked at her school, he was filled with fear that Once, looking up suddenly, she caught she was telling him. his eye. She smiled faintly. He Lucy seemed to know his thoughts. turned his face, filled with confusion. “I know something I won't tell,” He began to look oftener and to wait she sang at him as she started for home. for her to look up. He knew now that “What 'd she say?" asked Tip. her eyes were a light, clear blue, that “Oh, I don' know," the boy anthe color had a way of sweeping over swered, evading him. her face under the freckles, as if her As he and Tip parted at the latter's