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agony followed; then Nucky reappeared, attended by every boy on the place, and wet only to his waist. "Gee, that was n't nothing," he deprecated; "I just jumped on her when she come anigh shore, and off ag'in down Perilous a piece. I've rid logs ever sence I was born. I hain't afraid!"
"Hain't Afraid got his neck broke yesterday," remarked Joab, quietly.
The first of December, in the shifting of jobs, Nucky was placed in charge of the chicken-yard, with particular instructions to cherish the Rhode Island Reds. Three days later, the young rooster, hope of the future, disappeared from the face of the earth, leaving not so much as a feather to indicate the manner of his going. Nucky said he knew nothing; all the other boys declared their innocence; Jason was naturally suspected, but proved an alibi. The case was, and remained, one of entire mystery.
At any other time, the matter would have received more attention; but December was the busiest month of the year at the Settlement School. Preparations were already begun for the various entertainments and trees projected by "the women"; in addition, for Miss Loring and the boys, carols had to be practised, and hog-killing was looming. As if all this As if all this were insufficient, not a third of the month had passed before Miss Loring was called upon to bear a burden of anxiety concerning the health of Nucky Marrs. He drooped, moped, grew pale, became indifferent to heroic exploits, whether in life or books, going off to bed once or twice in the very midst of a thrilling story. Miss Loring was sure it was malaria, and sent him over to Miss Shippen, the trained nurse; but, for once, her ministrations were of no avail. He fell into a settled melancholia, from which even the exciting events of hog-killing week failed to arouse him, developed a habit of sighing dolefully, and even lost his appetite. Miss Loring was very unhappy about him, she feared a decline. The arrival of Christmas did not help matters, the tree and stockings and presents seeming only to confirm his gloom.
About noon on Christmas Day, after the celebration was over, the children left for their homes, to spend the holidays. All Miss Loring's boys went,-even Jason,
who had no home, was invited by Keats and Hen to spend a week with them. They had a younger brother, Hiram, just his age. As the boys set off by twos and threes for their long walks, Nucky looking as if he were going to his execution, Miss Loring felt strangely bereft and lonely; a little later Cleo rode off with a mysterious young man from "over on Wace" who had already paid her a visit. or two, and had now brought a nag for her; and then the silence of death settled upon the cottage. As the afternoon dragged out its weary length, Miss Loring suffered unaccountable pangs. She had thought she would enjoy the rest, the quiet, the opportunity to read magazines and books piled away on her shelves for the past five months. But by the time night came, she would have given the world to hear the twelve pairs of brogans come thundering across the little bridge and into the cottage, the boyish voices raised in talk or play or even in fight. She felt absolutely unable to face the ten days and nights of loneliness ahead of her, and finally cried herself to sleep.
Her delight may therefore be imagined, when, as she started over to late breakfast the next morning, she saw Jason come climbing over the big gate. To her pleased inquiries as to the cause of his return, he would at first give no answer, but finally he murmured, with pretty bashfulness, "I was homesick for you." "My darling child!" she cried, hugging him very hard. Then she gave him a quarter to go down to the village and buy a whole box of peppermint candy, and all that day and the next, Thursday and Friday, she sat on the floor and played marbles with him.
It has been told elsewhere how on Saturday, knowing that all her boys were invited to Killis Blair's that day to "see a good time, and drink and shoot all they wanted," she rode over to his home on Clinch, in the hope of averting the worst; and found things much better than might have been expected. Sunday morning when, with Jason behind her, she started back to the school, what was her surprise to hear from Philip and Nucky that they, too, would "go along." Philip said he was tired of rambling; Nucky gave no reason, but his haggard looks were eloquent enough, and she was most thankful to have him safe under her wing.
They returned by way of Caney Fork and Nancy's Perilous, passing the Salyer home on the latter stream. Keats was out by the branch chopping wood (he always laid in a large store of wood for Nervesty when he went home), and after they had passed the time of day, and refused his invitation to alight, he remarked, "I see you got Jason up behind you. Did he tell you how come him to leave a-Thursday?" "Yes," replied Miss Loring, proudly; "he was homesick for me." Keats measured Jason with his eye. "He's the lyin'est little devil ever I seed," he said; "I 'll tell you what made him leave. Him and Hiram fit from the time he stepped in the door, and all through supper, and off and on all night, and got up before day and started in ag'in; and Hiram he got him down once, and was a-ridin' him, and Jason he pult a table-knife out of his pocket and stobbed Hiram in the wrist with it, and Maw she took after him with a hickory, and he run away."
Miss Loring slid off Mandy, called for another hickory, sternly dragged down her "darling child," and gave him not only the punishment he had escaped on Thursday, but another on her own account; the bitterness of it being augmented for him by the fact that all the Salyers, including Hiram, came out to see it well done.
She made Jason walk the rest of the way, and took Nucky up behind her. It was distressing to see his dark and gloomy looks, and to hear the cavernous groans that now and then tore their way through him. Once he remarked, hollowly, "A liar is the scurviest, lowdownest, God-forsakenest varmint there are," to which Miss Loring responded, "Yes, that 's true; but Jason 's such a little fellow, he 'll get over it in time." Twice or thrice he seemed on the point of making other remarks, but they turned out to be only groans.
When the school was reached in the afternoon, another surprise was in store, for there, in the cottage door, were Joab and Iry Atkins. "Too much stepmaw," was Joab's laconic explanation. Miss Loring realized with a throb of joy and thanksgiving, that she had her five motherless boys back with her, and would be blessed with their society during the remainder of the holiday, instead of tormented with loneliness.
Later, the boys dressed up in their Sunday clothes and new red ties, and Miss Loring in her Christmas dress, a cardinal crêpe-de-chine, matching the holly berries and Christmas bells and new ties, and greatly admired by the boys, and they brought their supper over from the Big House and ate it in delightful coziness around the sitting-room table. Afterward as they all sat on the rag rug before the big, warm fire, talking, Jason with his head in her lap, Nucky and Iry leaning against her shoulders, and Philip and Joab as close as they conveniently could get, Miss Loring believed herself the happiest woman in the world. All her boys were dear to her, but these five needed her most. A mother to the motherless,-what greater blessedness could any woman ask? She knew that her feet were set in a large place, that her cup ran over, that she was anointed with the oil of gladness.
Of course at such a time their futures were predominant in her thoughts; and she painted in glowing colors the noble and heroic deeds they were some day going to do for their country and the world. As she talked, Nucky's head fell away from her shoulder, and into his hands. She told how Joab, as head of an agricultural college, Philip as builder of railroads and captain of industry, and Iry as physi-. cian and surgeon, were to do wonders, first for their own mountain country, and then for the world at large, and how Jason, when he once learned to distinguish between what he saw in his mind and what he saw with his eyes, might some day be a poet, and make beautiful songs about what the mountains and the waters and the skies and his own heart told him, and the deeds men did around him. And Nucky," she continued, "thinks now that he will never be anything but a soldier, and fight all the time. But there are far worse enemies to be fought in this age than just men, or than dragons and giants, and I want him to be a statesman, and with trained mind, swift tongue, and fearless heart hunt out injustice and greed and cruelty and falsehood, and fight and destroy them until they no longer imperil and disgrace our country. This is the fighting we most need now,- this is the heroism we must have if our nation is not to perish. And it is what you can do, Nucky, we all know that you have the
mind and the tongue and the heart of a sternly to Miss Loring. She rose, tremhero!"
But with a long and bitter cry, Nucky sprang to his feet, his arms thrown out protestingly.
"No!" he wailed. "No! You think I'm a hero, but I hain't! I'm a liar is what I am! I kilt the Rhode Island Red, -hit him in the head with a rock one day when he was feistin' around and would n't go in his coop, and throwed him in Perilous. And then I lied to you about it, because I was too proud to take a whoopin' off a woman. And I hain't seed no peace or satisfaction sence, knowin' I hain't a hero no more, but a dad-burn liar! I been tryin' to tell you all day,-I come back to tell you, but I could n't git it out! And now I want you to gimme three whoopin's, one for flingin' the rock, and two for lyin', and then maybe I can take a new start."
He tore off his coat as he spoke, took down the switch that lived over the fireboard for Jason's benefit, and handed it
bling, and the other boys rose, looking on with grave, startled eyes. Never had she felt so inadequate to a task; never had duty so warred with inclination; never had she loved and admired Nucky as at that moment. But she held back the tears, braced her courage, and took the switch. Not through weakness of hers should a just and promised penalty be remitted, should any child lose its faith in the eternal law of the following of suffering upon sin. Feeling each stroke as if on her bare heart, she gave Nucky the hard whipping he craved. Once when she faltered, he said, "That hain't enough yet," and she was compelled to keep on, while he bravely turned away his face so that she should not see the evidences of pain.
Then at last she flung the switch in the fire and caught him in her arms. "Oh, Nucky, Nucky," she cried, "you have wiped it all out now, and are a hero through and through! And now I know that some day you will save the country!"
BY JAMES, CARDINAL GIBBONS
HEN the world's history is written, will the twentieth century enjoy the proud and noble distinction of being styled preeminently the Century of Peace? If we may be permitted to judge the future by what has been achieved during the last decade in the cause of peace, I think it will richly deserve this title. Never before have more strenuous, more practical, and more sincere efforts been made to bring about happier relations between man and man, nation and nation, than at the present time.
And the general response
which the world is giving to the leaders in this movement is eloquent testimony of the abiding desire for peace which dwells in the human breast.
It is a splendid tribute to the high tone of the mind of the present day, to the finer feelings of our generation, and to the inborn love of justice and fair play of our people, that war, with all its atten'dant horrors, should be condemned, and declared both unworthy and incompetent to be the final arbiter between right and wrong, justice and injustice. It seems to be the will of the people that Mars must be dethroned forever, cast down from the lofty pedestal he has occupied so long. This demand, becoming more general every hour, for the settlement of disputes and the righting of wrongs by the appeal to enlightened reason based upon a true sense of justice and a broad love of our fellow-men, heralds the dawn of a brighter day and the advent of a more perfect civilization.
It is a pleasing reflection for the American people that the most ardent advocates of peace among the nations of the world, the most unselfish workers for it, who are devoting money, high intelligence, and exalted position to its attainment, are her own sons and citizens.
It is also scarcely less gratifying to note that England has joined hands with our own country and expressed the determina
tion to add the mighty prestige of her among the world powers to further the name and the weight of her influence cause of peace among the nations.
deserves great praise for the good-will she The Government of England, indeed, has shown during the last few years to promote a better understanding and a happier state of things among her subjects and dependencies. And, in my judgment, the end is not yet. Only last year a pronounced step forward was made in the path of justice and peace by striking from the oath of coronation phrases which were ing, to the most cherished and the most not only displeasing, but grossly insultsacred religious tenets of millions of English subjects not only in Great Britain and Ireland and in the Channel Islands, but also in all the British dominions beyond the seas. It is certainly a happy sign of powerful nation are willing to free their more peaceful times when the rulers of a minds from a strongly rooted prejudice, which their traditions and their creed had planted there, and which had blurred their vision for upward of two hundred
is England's change of heart toward IreAnother bright augury for future peace land. The passing of the Land Bill was an evidence of a more kindly attitude and good-will to her Irish subjects. Greater enjoyed for many decades have followed in peace and contentment than Ireland had the wake of that beneficent concession. A and a feeling of security is fast taking the new stimulus has been given to industry, place of discontent and unrest; and all that Ireland now needs to fill up its cup of happiness is Home Rule, for which the Land Bill seems only the right preparation. It is to be devoutly hoped that this boon people, and that, when it is granted, Irewill not be long withheld from the Irish all past grievances, wipe out all the old, land, in its usual generous spirit, will bury