Puslapio vaizdai
[graphic][ocr errors]

Half-tone plate engraved by H. Davidson



[blocks in formation]

HE first boy whose acquaintance his orphaned condition, all appealed, and

Miss Loring made at the Settlement Miss Loring cultivated his acquaintance School on Perilous was Philip Sidney during the days that followed. Later, Floyd. The day succeeding her arrival at when, at her own earnest request, she the school she spent in bed, nursing bones went over to live at the small boys' cotand bruises, the usual procedure after the tage, and became within a week the detwo-days' wagon-trip across the mountains lighted mother of twelve, she had, and from the railroad, and Philip brought up a continued to have, the feeling that Philip pitcher of water to her room.

He was a

was the first-born, though in reality Joab, handsome, engaging boy, with beautiful Taulbee, and Absalom were all older than brown eyes. Upon inquiry, she learned he. that he was twelve and a half, that his There was a great deal in him to minpaw had got

his name out of a book, that ister to maternal pride. The Floyds were his maw had died when he was a baby, one of the most prominent and intelligent and his paw when he was ten, that he had families in the mountains, and Philip did come from over on Wace, but had no not fail to carry out their traditions, being home now except the school, where he had a natural leader, a principal in fights, a lived during the previous term, and had “chooser" in games, a fine scholar, and a remained to work for “the women” dur- prodigious worker. Young as he was, he ing the summer. His name, his beauty, had helped with the carpenter-work on

and ears.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the new school-house that summer, and bath each boy must present himself in his after school began he was actually per- clean nightgown at the sitting-room door, mitted to make walnut furniture in the for inspection as to head and feet, neck shop for the Big House, doing better work

Not that ears were expected to than most of the grown-up boys. Ab- be really clean except once a week, Sunsorbed in these important pursuits, it is day mornings,- when Miss Loring went small wonder that he failed or scorned to

the rounds herself, and made painful ex-
cultivate minor virtues, such as cleanli- plorations into all the crannies.
ness, courtesy, and the like, and that ex- On these occasions it seemed to her that
pectations, based on his name, of finding Philip's ears were always in a worse con-
him a pattern of chivalry soon vanished in dition than anybody's; and this, together
the light of common day. “The glass of with his generally soiled and unkempt ap-
fashion and the mould of form” he


pearance at all times, continued to be a said to have been, in a sense, but in an un- blow to that pride in the first-born natural desirable sense.

The revolts headed by to all women. 'Philip,” she would say, him in those first few days against night- with a groan, "you could be the handgowns, tooth-brushes, and similar innova- somest boy on this place if you only tions, were such as to try Miss Loring's would." soul. It is small wonder that the younger "Handsome never earnt his salt,” he boys felt warranted in neglecting or omit- would reply contemptuously. “When a ting disagreeable rites, when at breakfast man steps in the door, looks Alies up the over at the Big House (fortunately Misschimley." Loring and her boys had a table to them- Her efforts to inculcate that courteous selves) this conversation could take place: behavior which should bear some corre

“Philip, have you washed your face?” spondence to his name also met with dis“Yes."

couragement. Going to and from church, “When?"

and during Sunday afternoon walks, for “Yesterday morning."

instance, Miss Loring insisted that her On Thursday night of that first week, boys should remove their hats whenever when Miss Loring announced to the boys they met a woman. that regular baths must begin at once, and “What for ?" demanded Philip. that four of them must make preparations "To show the respect you feel for all to wash themselves all over immediately women and girls," she exclaimed. after study-hour, a shout of delight went “But I don't feel none,” he replied canup. "Whoopee! We git to go in the didly; "I hain't got no use for none of creek! Git to go in Perilous !" Every 'em. They never done nothing for me. boy demanded to be one of the lucky four. I'd ruther take off my hat to a cow: I When she explained that she did not mean git something back from her." And to for them to go in the creek, but to heat entreaties that he should say, “Yes, water in the big kettles out in the back ma'am,” and “No, ma'am,” to herself and yard, carry it to the tubs in the wash- all other women, because it was more pohouse, and wash themselves thoroughly in lite, he offered the objection: "Polite 's a there, howls of indignation succeeded. lickspittle. I don't aim to be polite; I “Dad burn if I 'll do it!" "I'll go don't have to. I 'm able to git what I home first!"

“I hain't no woman!" want without it." “Creeks is for men !” And it was Philip This last was only too true; he was not who exclaimed cuttingly, "Nobody but only able, but willing, to get what he quare women would wash in a house when wanted, by means fair or foul. The creed there is a creek handy!”

of the old robber-barons, After the discovery was made that the

That they should take who have the power, wash-house and a nude condition offered

And they should keep who can, exceptional opportunities for wrestling and fighting undisturbed, objections to in- was accepted by all the boys, but more espedoor bathing were withdrawn. The only cially and enthusiastically by Philip. He trouble was that the bathing itself was apt would coolly snatch a corn-dodger from to be lost sight of; and Miss Loring was Keats, a drumstick from Jason, a biscuit compelled to make a rule that after his from Hen, a sweet-potato from Nucky,

whenever his own supply ran out; and at one day, Philip' ran over to the cottage, other places his depredations were even bringing a large watermelon he had just worse. But what hurt Miss Loring most bought, the first of the season. The other of all (for she really had a great tender- eleven cottage boys followed him like the ness for Philip) was one morning when tail of a kite, their eyes fairly starting out little Iry Atkins's father had ridden over with eagerness. But after laying open its from Rakeshin and brought Iry a fine, pink juiciness to the gaze of all, on the yellow, mellow apple. He had generously back steps, he invited only Taulbee Bolling offered to share it with Miss Loring, and, to share it with him. While the two on her refusal, he was standing in the sit- gorged, the others stood sadly around, ting-room door, eating it as frugally and watching the luscious mouthfuls disaplingeringly as possible, when Philip came pear. Miss Loring came along as the last along, snatched it out of his hand, bit off went down, and as Geordie Yonts was three fourths of it, and calmly handed bargaining for the rinds. back the fragment to "the pure scholar," "Why did n't you divide with all of who, howling dismally, yet had no redress. them?" she asked when she had called Miss Loring pounced upon the culprit. Philip into her room.

"To think you could be guilty of such “Then there would n't have been a base conduct !" she exclaimed indignantly patching for nobody," he replied. “Why, —“robbing a little boy who can't defend I could have et it every grain myself, easy, himself! And when you have plenty of and would, if Taulbee had n't 'a' gone shop-money laid by to get all the apples pardners with me a-Monday on pawpaws, you want, and he has n't a cent! I should and last week on gingercakes. None of think you'd be everlastingly ashamed of them others hain't never offered me bite yourself!"

nor sup of nothin'; nor never will, 'cause "I was behind the door when shame they hain't got nothin' to give." passed by,” replied the robber, flippantly. “But can't you be generous ? Can't you

“You certainly were," agreed Miss give without hope of getting?" Loring, severely; “I would not have be- "Gee! no, by grab! Generous don't lieved that a boy named Philip Sidney could put no bread in my belly. I 'm a-goin' to possibly do such a deed." Then she told feed the boy that feeds me.” him the story of the great Sir Philip, mor- Even with Taulbee, who soon became tally wounded at Zutphen, fevered and his special friend and “pardner,” give and athirst, handing the cup of water to the take was carefully kept count of. One day dying soldier beside him, with the words, in late October Miss Loring heard Philip “Your need is greater than mine." “And

say, as he held out a handful of chestnuts that,” she said, “is what your name re- to Taulbee: “Don't take more 'n five. quires you to live up to-helping and pro- You 're owing me now. You hain't gone tecting, instead of robbing, those weaker treat for allus!" Perfect candor was the than yourself."

sure, if rocky, foundation of their relationPhilip considered a moment. “I'll bet ship. he never done it,” he remarked. “No Early in December, Philip had his thirman 'd be such a fool. I bet it 's just a teenth birthday, and the housekeeper herslander they made up on him."

self made him the most gorgeous birthday "I 'll give you ample time to think over cake any child had had during the term, that 'slander,'” said Miss Loring; "you with thirteen red candles burning on it, shall lose six hours' playtime as punish- and peppermint candy, to match the canment."

dles, mashed up all through the icing, This took some of the wind out of which was at least an inch thick. Every Philip's sails. The children who lived in

on the place had a tender spot in the Settlement School were kept very hard her heart for Philip, despite his indifferat work and study, getting only an hour ence, and many were the loving wishes and a half for play out of the twenty-four. made for him as his candles were blown Four days without play was a pretty se- out. vere sentence, and should have borne more That very night, over at the cottage, noticeable fruits than it did.

Hen came up from the wash-house for inEarly in September, at noon playtime spection after his bath, looking very clean



[ocr errors][merged small]

as to head and feet. As he was passing to Santa Claus for distribution, but Philip, into the bedroom, however, Miss Loring minus collar, tie, or Sunday suit, with called him back.

tousled hair and very dirty face, a soiled "What is that dark band below. your shirt, and “galluses” fastened by one nail. nightgown?" she asked.

Miss Loring had a terrible feeling in the “Nothing,” he replied, stooping so that pit of her stomach, and could scarcely sit his gown would fall lower. She went on the organ-stool for mortification. over and lifted the hem of his gown to his During the holidays, all the boys except knees, revealing the fact that the cleanness Jason went home or visiting. Although stopped half-way up, and that above that Philip had seventeen own uncles and six line his legs were more than dingy.

own aunts, all most hospitably inclined, "Did n't you wash yourself all over?" he chose to spend most of his time with a she inquired.

boy friend, Dewey Lovel, over near his “Not quite all.”

old home on Wace. Soon after his return “How much did you wash?"

to the school, he began to scratch in the "Down to my neck and half-way up most persistent and annoying manner. my shins. That dag-gone ol gown done During study-hour in the evenings, espeshrunk up two or three inches sence the cially, his behavior would be most trying last time.”

to Miss Loring. After being reprimanded “But did n't I tell you you must wash several times one night, he came later into yourself all over every single bath?" she Miss Loring's room, clawing viciously at inquired.

his ankles. “I 've sure got the eech," he “That was before cold weather sot in. announced. "Gimme something for it." Philip he said down to your neck and up Got what?" she asked. to your knees was enough in cold weather, “The eech. I knowed I'd ketch it and all he was aimin' to do; and that 's when I seed Deweya-pawin' round so all

any of us boys been a-doing sence No- them nights I slep' with him." vember come in."

"Heavens!” she exclaimed, "do you “You hain't never washed as far up as mean the itch?" your knees, son," corrected Keats, from “No, I mean the eech; the seven-year superior heights. "You allus stop where eech I reckon this here is, by the way it your nightgown comes to.

feels." she 'd ketch you if you done that."

“I'm sure I have no idea what to do
Miss Loring summoned all the boys. for such a disease as the itch," she said
Yes, it was true; nobody denied it, and helplessly.
Philip was shameless about his part in it. Philip danced on one foot, clawing his
He lost four more days of playtime, while arms now.

“Itch! Listen at that now,
the other boys lost only two, in addition to boys! She calls the eech the itch! Don't
being compelled, every one of them, to know no better! Ha! Ha!''
take a complete bath that very night, 'What on earth do people do for it?"
though it was already past bedtime, with she asked.
Taulbee appointed monitor to see it well "Some rubs on lard and sulphur, and

some axle-grease.” But the most publicly humiliating of "I 'll ask Miss Shippen for medicine Philip's performances came on Christmas for you to-morrow. Go along now, please; eve, when, after .children, teachers, and don't stand so near me." parents from miles around, all dressed in "Get enough for two," was his parting their best and breathless with eagerness,

remark; "Taulbee's commencing to had waited in the school-chapel just as scratch, too." long as human nature could endure, the “Yes, get enough for a dozen," was her curtains were at last drawn back, reveal- sad reflection, only too promptly verified, ing the glorious spruce, with its gleaming for within a few days her entire family lights and glittering fruits, and stacks of was in quarantine, scratching and clawing presents banked around, and Santa Claus like mad; and the next thing, she herself bowing and smiling in front. Who should was experiencing all the agonies. It is appear on the rostrum in all the glare of King James who says somewhere, “The the hundreds of candles, to hand the gifts itch is å disease well worth the having, for

I told you

« AnkstesnisTęsti »