The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Lilac Lady

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Title: The Lilac Lady

Author: Ruth Brown MacArthur

Release date: December 9, 2007 [eBook #23782]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Mary Meehan and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at



The Second of the Peace Greenfield Books


Author of "At The Little Brown House," "Tabitha At Ivy Hall," "Tabitha's Glory," "Tabitha's Vacation," Etc.


Copyright, MCMXIV
By The Saalfield Publishing Co.

Edith Haserick McFarlane,
The Saint Elspeth of My Girlhood,
This Story is Affectionately Dedicated.

"Oh," cried Gail in quick sympathy, "what a feeble old creature! It is a shame she has to beg her living. Where is my purse?"






Two days after the night of the memorable surprise party in the little brown house, the place stood dismantled and deserted under the naked, shivering trees, good-byes had been spoken, and the six smiling sisters had driven away from their Parker home amid much fluttering of handkerchiefs and waving of hands. Everyone was sorry to see them go, yet all rejoiced in the great good fortune which had befallen the little orphan brood. Even after the Judge's carriage, which was to take them to the station, disappeared around the bend of the creek road, the enthusiastic crowd of friends and neighbors clustered about the sagging gate continued to shout their joking warnings and happy wishes upon the crisp, frosty, morning air.

"There," breathed Peace, grinning from ear to ear, as she slowly unwound from the corkscrew twist she had assumed in her attempt to catch the last glimpse of the old home. "They're all out of sight now. I can't even see Hec Abbott any longer up in the tree with his dirty handkerchief. Oh, Mr. Judge, I forgot you were our coachman this morning, but his handkerchief is awful dirty! It always is. I guess his mother doesn't chase him up like Gail does us with clean ones. Faith Greenfield, what do you mean by kicking me like that? Ain't there room enough on that back seat for your big feet?"

"Little girls should be heard and not seen," quoted Cherry with her most sanctimonious air, noting the gathering frown on the older sister's face, and not quite understanding what had gone amiss.

"Yes, that's just what Peace believes, too," cried Hope with her happy, contagious laugh in which Gail and the Judge and even Faith joined, making the sharp air ring with their hilarity.

"Guess this ride must make you feel ticklish, too," suggested Peace, looking over her shoulder with a comical, self-complacent air at the crowded rear seat of the carryall. "I 'xpected to see some of you bawling about now—"

"Bawling!" echoed the girls in genuine surprise, while the old Judge chuckled to himself. "What for?"

"'Cause we've left Parker for good and all. We're never going to live there any more."

"But we shall visit there often. Grandpa said so," cried Hope, warmly. "It isn't as if we were bound for the poor-farm or some dreadful orphan home. We might have reason to cry then; but as it is, we're going to Martindale to live in a splendid great house with splendid, lovely people; and I can't help wanting to jump up and shout for gladness, even though we do love Parker and all the people there who have been so good to us—"

"Good for you, Miss Hope! Hip, hip, hurrah!" broke in the Judge, flapping the reins wildly as he doffed his hat and cheered heartily. "That's the proper spirit! We Parkerites don't expect you to break your hearts because you are going to a new home; we'd think it very queer indeed if you did. But we are glad to know this old town holds a tender spot in your memories. We shall miss you more than you will us, which is only natural; but as Hope says, you will be often among us as visitors, even though the little brown house will never be home to you again. Doctor and Mrs. Campbell have not only opened the door of their big house to you, but also the door of their hearts. Go in and take possession. You can make them the happiest people on earth if you want to—and I know you do. They intended to drive over after you this morning, but we villagers said no. They ought to be in Martindale to greet you, and we certainly deserved the privilege of escorting you to—"

"Ain't it nice to be pop'lar?" sighed Peace in ecstasy. "We're all bones of condescension today—now what are you laughing at?"

"Oh, we've reached the station already," chirped Allee with a suddenness which made everyone jump.

"And if there isn't Mr. Strong!" cried the older girls in astonishment. "How did you ever get here ahead of us? We left you sitting on Peace's gate-post."

"He sneaked," Peace declared without giving him a chance for reply. "He can sneak in anywhere. Oh, I didn't mean that as a complimemp, Mr. Preacher. You know I didn't! But you truly go so like a cat that people never know when you will jump out at them. Where is Elspeth—I mean Pet—I mean—Oh, there she is in the station house, and Miss Truesdale and Miss Dunbar and Dr. Bainbridge! We're much obliged that so many of you have come down to make sure we left town. Let me get out of here, Judge! I want to kiss Glen again." Scrambling excitedly out of her seat beside the dignified driver, she was over the wheels before he could stop her, and into the arms of the waiting friends.

None of the orphan sisters had expected such a glorious send-off—nor, indeed, had the Parker friends planned it beforehand. It was just one of those acts of kindness born of the impulse of the moment and made possible because of a shortcut to the station and the grocer's wagon which stood hitched in front of Mr. Hartman's door. But the sight of the little group of neighbors on the station platform was very gratifying to every one of the youthful Greenfields, and each proceeded to show her pleasure in her own characteristic way. This second farewell-taking was very brief, however, for down the tracks came the puffing train, stopping at the narrow platform only long enough for the laughing, chattering girls to climb aboard, before it glided away again, with Peace's shrill protests trailing off into silence: "I don't see why we have to take the train when it is such a teeny short ride. I'd rather go by street-car. I didn't kiss Elspeth but once, and the Judge looked as if he was dying for another—"

Silently, soberly, the gay little company at the railroad station dispersed to their various homes; but fortunately for the band of inexperienced travellers aboard the flying train, there was no time for serious thought, so brief was their journey. Scarcely were they settled with their hand-bags and grips when the brakeman threw open the door and strode down the aisle, bawling loudly, "Martindale, Martindale! Our next stop is Martindale Union Depot!" And before they could realize what was happening, the porter had bundled them off in the great, dark, noisy station-yard, filled with throngs of excited, hurrying people passing in and out of the heavy iron gates.

Caught in the jam, there was a moment of breathless bewilderment; a frantic disentangling of themselves from the pushing, shoving crowd; a hurried, frightened survey of the sea of unfamiliar faces around them, and then straight into the arms of the smiling college President the anxious sextette walked.

"Well, well, well!" he cried with boyish eagerness, trying to gather them all in one embrace. "Here you are at last! I've waited one solid hour for this train. Those Parker people tried to tell me it was my place to stand in the doorway over at the house and welcome you there, but blessed if I could wait! Neither could Grandma. I thought I had stolen away without anyone seeing me, but before I had reached the car-tracks, there she was right at my heels. Here, mother, are your—own!"

No welcome from the doorsteps of the great house could have warmed and thrilled those six hearts as did the husky, tremulous words of greeting in the dim, smoky station amid the clanging engines and shouted orders of trainmen. Home! Ah, what a glorious feeling of possession! The tears which had not come at thought of leaving the old home now welled up in the blue eyes and in the brown, but they were tears of joy and thanksgiving.

"I knew someone would do some bawling before we got through with this," sniffed Peace, searching in vain for the handkerchief which was never to be found in her pocket, and finally wiping her eyes on the august President's coat-sleeve. "Let's go home now. I want to see what it's like. You didn't bring the carriage, did you? It's just as well, I guess, for I s'pose we'll have lots of rides anyway. Only I wanted to see if the horses looked anything like Black Prince. Is this our car? Oak Street—I'll remember that; I may want to do some travelling all by myself some day. If you've got ten rooms in your house, how many are you going to turn over to us? For our very own, I mean. Three in a room makes things awfully crowded if the rooms are as teeny as they were in our house in Parker. 'Tisn't so bad in winter, but in summer we nearly roast to death nights. Do you have much comp'ny, and will we have to give up our rooms to them all the time? I forgot to ask you about these things before we said we'd come."

"Peace!" reproved Gail in an undertone, trying to check the flow of questions and information pouring so rapidly from the lively tongue. "Don't talk all the time. Give grandpa a chance to say a few words."

"Yes, I will," responded the child with angelic sweetness, in such loud tones that she could be heard all over the car. "I'm waiting for him to say a few words now. How about it, grandpa? Shall we each have a room or must we double up or thribble—"

"Peace!" called Allee in wild excitement, "there is Frances Sherrar's house!"

"Where? Is it, grandpa?" asked Cherry, a little twinge of envy seizing her as she remembered her younger sisters' visit there a few weeks before.

"Yes," he replied, glancing hastily out of the window, "I think very likely it was, as they live on the corner we have just passed, and the next street is where we get off. Press the button, Curlypate, or the conductor will carry us by. I didn't know you were acquainted with the Sherrars, Abigail. Frances is a student at the University; you will probably be in some of her classes. Give me your hand, Hope. There, mother, all our family are off. Right about face! One block west, and—here we are. Welcome home, my children! Peace, how do you like the looks of it?"

They had paused in front of a great, rambling, old house, set in the midst of a wide lawn, brown and sere now with approaching winter, and surrounded by huge, knotted, gnarled, old oaks, whose dry leaves still clung to the twisted branches and rustled in the crisp air. A fat, sleek, black Tabby lay asleep on the warm porch-rail; a gaunt, ungainly greyhound lay sunning himself on the door mat, and from inside somewhere came the sound of a canary's riotous song. The whole place breathed of home, and with a deep sigh of content, Peace lifted her great, brown eyes to the President's face and whispered, "It seems 'sif I b'longed already."

"You do," he murmured huskily. "This is home, dear."

Hand in hand they walked up the path and through the door into the big hall, flooded with warm sunshine and sweet with the smell of roses. Up the stairway they marched, followed by the other sisters, all silent, wondering, but happy, and paused in the doorway of a large, airy room, furnished with easy-chairs and couches, a tempting array of late books, and a dainty sewing-table, heaped with pretty materials such as young girls love. "This is mother's domain," the President announced, stepping aside to let them enter. "Hang your wraps in that closet for the time being, make yourselves presentable—there is a mirror on purpose for prinking—and then get acquainted with your new home. There is still an hour and a half before luncheon will be served, and that ought to give you quite an opportunity to make discoveries. Now away with you!"

"But—," "How," "What do you mean?" blurted out the astonished girls, wondering whether he was in earnest or just joking, for this seemed a queer way to introduce them to their new life.

"Just what I say," he laughed. "Mother thought we ought to conduct you about the place and explain all the different phases of your new home, but I am inclined to believe you will like it better if you can make the tour all by yourselves. Young folks usually glory in unexplored fields. Now to it, for time is fleeting! I shall call for a report of your discoveries at luncheon. A prize for the one who has seen the most."

"Do we have to go by ourselves?" Peace lingered to ask.

"As you wish," was the brief response; and with his hat in his hand, the busy President descended the stairs, leaving a very bewildered group in the sewing-room behind him.

"Well!" Gail ejaculated. "How shall we begin?"

"I saw a piano as we came through the hall below," Faith half whispered.

"And books! Everywhere!" cried Cherry, her eyes fastened longingly upon the little book-case in the corner. "Do they really belong to us now?"

"Yes, of course," answered Peace in business-like tones. "Come on, Allee; let's get to work and see what we can find before lunch time. This is a pretty big house, and we've got to hustle if we get all around it in an hour and a half. Wonder where grandpa and grandma went. Shall we commence at the bottom and work up, or start in at the attic? I guess the attic first will be best, seeing we've come up one flight of stairs already, and it would be just a waste of time to go down and have to climb them all again." Answering her own question, she clutched Alice's hand and disappeared in one direction, as the sisters, following her example, scattered about the great house on their tours of inspection.

The next ninety minutes were busy ones in the Campbell house, and it was necessary to ring the dinner bell twice before all members of the happy family were summoned to the table.

"Well, how goes it?" smiled the President. "Judging from the time it took to gather the clans, some of you must have been pretty busy."

"We were," dreamily murmured Cherry, who had been dragged bodily from the stacks of books in the library.

"Made any great discoveries?"

"Yes, indeed!" they cried in unison.

"Good! I'm all impatience! Relate your adventures. We are anxious to hear how you like your new home—mother and I. Abigail, you are the oldest; suppose you begin."

"I didn't get very far, I am afraid," said Gail modestly. "Just a peep into the rooms upstairs and a beginning down here when I found Gussie almost on the verge of tears because her dessert had burned black and she had no time to make any more; so I—"

"Bet our talking burned up her pies," Peace was heard to murmur remorsefully.

"—helped her out a little," continued Gail, "and by that time the bell rang, so there was no opportunity for any further investigations."

"Saint Elizabeth," said the President reverently, while the white-haired mistress of the house beamed her approval.

"Now, Faith,—but there is really no need of asking her about her discoveries. She got no further than the parlor with its piano. Now, did you?"

"No, grandpa," Faith confessed unblushingly. "I saw it when we came in, and I simply couldn't resist it a minute longer than was absolutely necessary. There will be lots of days for getting acquainted here, and besides, I knew Peace would carry off the prize—"

"Me carry off the prize!" Peace interrupted. "I've never got a prize for anything in my life—"

"Only because there never was one offered before for the person who could see the most or talk the longest," laughed Faith, and Peace subsided suddenly.

"Saint Cecilia,—she could not get past the piano," teased Dr. Campbell, when the shout of laughter at Faith's sally had died away. "Hope, what have you to say for yourself?"

"Not much. I visited all the rooms upstairs and down; fed the canary; got acquainted with Blinks, the cat, and Kyte, the hound; found Towzer and tried to make him be friends with Kyte, but he wouldn't be coaxed. Gussie said there were some kittens in the basement, so I went down there to find them, but the boy from the hardware store was there working on the furnace, and some way we fell to talking about studies, and he was so discouraged over his algebra lesson for night-school that I stopped to see if I could help him out a little, and the bell rang Just as we got the third problem worked."

"My gentle Saint Lucia," he said in praise, as he turned from her to the next sister in age. "Cherry, give an account of your wanderings."

"I wandered downstairs as far as the library—I guess that is what you call it."

"And then what?" for she stopped as if her tale were told.

"That's all. I stayed there."

"Oh!" The President wilted, Mrs. Campbell stared, and for a moment even the sisters were silent in surprise at the matter-of-fact tone of the narrator; then the whole assembly burst into another merry shout, much to the disgust of poor Cherry, who could see no cause for amusement, and voiced her sentiments by saying petulantly, "I don't see anything the matter with that! What difference is there between playing the piano all the morning and reading books?"

"It wasn't what you did that amused us," said Mrs. Campbell soothingly. "It was the way you told it. We won't laugh any more."

"Oh!" breathed the ruffled damsel in relief, "if that's all, I don't care how much you laugh. But you'll have a better chance with Peace—she never can tell anything straight."

"What kind of a saint is Cherry?" inquired the younger girl, ignoring the compliment she had just received. "If Gail is Saint 'Lizabeth and Faith is Saint Cecilia and Hope is Saint Lucy, what's Cherry?"

"Saint Bookworm, I guess, Miss Curiosity-Box. What have you been doing this morning?"

"Oh, lots of things," she sighed heavily. "Allee and me went together. We began with the attic, which is full of trunks of old clothes and battered-up furniture and cobwebs, and has two rooms for the hired girls to sleep in. Gussie's room is just suburb! It's dec'rated with the queerest looking old bird of a bedstead—"

"Peace! What slang!" cried Faith in genuine horror.

"It's no such thing! It is a bird! She calls it a swan, for it's got a tall, crooked neck for the foot-board, and if I had it in my room, I'd hang curtains on its tail. It could be done just splendid! I'll show you after lunch if you don't b'lieve me."

"Oh, we believe you! Go on. I'm interested in that room," begged Hope, wondering why she too had not begun with the attic.

"Then on the wall she has a great fish-net full of the prettiest postcards of Norway and Sweden and De'mark. She's a Swede, you know,—Gussie is; and her married brother and two sisters and grandmother still live over there. That's where the fish-net came from. I didn't have time to stop long to look at the cards 'cause there was so much else to do 'fore lunch time, but she's invited us to come up some evening when she's through work and then she'll tell all about them. There's the loveliest green and yellow quilt on her bed that she made all herself. She said grandma had a red one for her to use, but it seemed more like home with her own things, so she uses them instead of those that b'long to the house. But the prettiest of everything is a queer little piece of glass hanging in the window which makes her room look like a real rainbow on sunny days, 'cause the prison respects the light and sorts out all the colors. Oh, you needn't laugh and think you know better! Gussie told us all about it, didn't she, Allee?"

"Gussie did not call it a prison," Hope could not refrain from saying. "It is a prism, and it re—it isn't respects the light, grandpa—"

"No. Refracts is the word she wants to use. Peace tries to drink in so much information that she can't digest it all."

"Maybe that is what's the matter," Peace agreed thoughtfully. "Anyway, her room is a beauty—lots prettier that Marie's, though Marie has the same chance of making hers look nice that Gussie has. There's the same difference in the girls themselves that there is in their rooms, too."

"Why, what do you mean?" cried the astonished mistress of the house, while the President nodded his head in approval at the child's observations.

"Well, Gussie is good-natured and 'bliging, while Marie is cross and grouchy. We hadn't got the knob of her door turned before she ordered us out of her room and told us to mind our own business."

"Poor childie, I ought to have cautioned you not to go into either of those attic rooms without the girls' permission. You see, while they work here, that is the one place in the house which is really theirs, and they don't want the rest of the family intruding."

"Yes, I know now. Gussie told me how it was when I spoke of Marie's being cross, but we never touched a thing; we just looked, didn't we, Allee? Marie had the tooth-ache, and that's enough to make anyone ugly. I got her some funny stuff that a shoemaker in Parker gave me once when I had the tooth-ache. After that she was a little pleasanter to us—that is, for a time. It did stop the aching right away, but it took all the skin off her cheek where she put the medicine—it is to be rubbed on outside. I forgot to tell her it would do that, so she didn't like it very well when her face began to peel off, 'cause she is going to the theatre tonight with her beau. But when she jawed about it, I told her I'd rather have a skinned face and a chance to go to the theatre, than an aching tooth any day of the week, and fin'ly she decided she would, too. I guess I'll like her in time, but I like Gussie better. Then we went on downstairs and 'xamined the rooms on that floor. The big front room is awfully pretty, and so is grandma's room where she sews, but the other three bedrooms are very bare and ugly-looking. Is that where you're going to put us, grandpa?"

"Peace!" shrieked the sisters in horrified chorus.

"Yes!" roared the delighted President, and even Mrs. Campbell joined in his merriment.

"Well, I s'pose it is healthy," Peace reluctantly admitted; then as if divining a joke somewhere, she smiled serenely and continued her recital. "We looked through the parlor and library and dining-room and where you put company when they come, and then we came to the kitchen. We got there ahead of Gail all right, for Gussie was just making some pies and reading a book at the same time."

"A book!" echoed Mrs. Campbell, a slight frown gathering on the usually placid forehead.

"Yes, it was a pome of some kind that she was trying to learn. She wants to be a neducated Swede. She got through High School, but she wants to know more'n that, so's she can be a teacher some day. That's how she comes to be cooking for other people. She is a good cook and can make pretty good money that way. She isn't a big spender, so every month she can put away 'most all of her wages towards going to Normal School. I always thought Normal School was where they sent bad boys and girls who couldn't be good at home, but she says I mean Reform School. I guess she'll get to Normal School all right. I told her Gail would help her with her lessons when they got too hard for her alone, 'cause Gail's to go to the University right away; but I didn't think Faith would be much good at that, as long's she isn't quite through High School herself. I told her Faith could make lovely fancy things to eat and would like awfully well to teach her when she had any spare time, and Gussie says she'll be tickled to learn, 'cause she is only a plain cook and not up on frills yet."

Faith and the President exchanged comical glances across the table, but Peace was too much interested in her cake and fruit to notice what was going on around her, and blissfully continued, "We went down in the basement, too, and saw that boy from Benton's. His name is Caspar Dodds. His father is dead—what a lot of dead folks there are in this world!—and he has to earn money to take care of his mother and two sisters. She does plain sewing, and I promised you'd hire her sometimes, grandma. They live on Sixteenth Street, just at the corner where the Pendennis car turns off from the bridge. He told me how to get there. He's going to night-school so's he can learn the education he's missing daytimes, and says he gets along well in everything but algebra. I guess that's how he came to speak to Hope about it. I told him she'd be glad to help him with 'xamples he couldn't do, 'cause she was Professor Watson's star scholar in that. Gussie told us about the kittens, too, so I knew Hope would be down to find them, and that way she'd see Caspar. She must have come along right after us or she wouldn't have found him, 'cause he was 'most ready to go when we went out to the barn.

"Jud had just brought in the horses from exercising them, and I told him I guessed likely we'd help him at that job after this, for all of us like to ride. At first he wasn't going to let us see the horses and we had to do a lot of talking 'fore he'd give in. He used awful poor grammar, and when he told us the stable wasn't the place for little girls and that we better go in the house and learn to cook like Gussie, I asked him why he didn't get some books and learn to speak right like Gussie, instead of sitting on an old box and reading yellow newspapers—well, it was yellow, just as yellow and musty and old as it could be! And he's too nice looking to be nothing but a horseman all his life. When I told him that, he got interested and fin'ly showed us some books he was trying to study, but he can't see sense in the grammar. Gussie promised to help him, but she never has much time for such things, and he thinks she thinks he's a plumb dunce. I promised to ask her if that's the way she felt, but he said I mustn't; so I did the next best I could think of—I told him Cherry would study grammar with him. She uses the same book he has in the barn, and—"

"Peace Greenfield, did you really tell him that?" gasped poor frightened Cherry, looking as if she had just heard her death sentence pronounced.

"Why, yes! I thought you'd be glad to help him out that much. I haven't got as far as grammar in school yet, or I'd teach him all myself; but I promised to talk proper grammar to him, so's to help all I could. What do you look so scared about, Cherry? He really wants to learn; he ain't fooling. And he's an awful nice man. He showed us the squirrels' hole in the vacant oak by the barn—I mean the hollow oak—and took us down to the boat-house on the river. You never told us anything about the river being so near here, grandpa. And he pointed out the University buildings through the trees, and promised to show us around the grounds right after lunch if you didn't have time to bother. He let us go up in the barn loft and says if you're willing, we can have a playhouse up there in the part with the window that looks out over the river. Then he pulled out his watch to let us know it was lunch time, but we told him right square out that there was one more thing we wanted to see, lunch time or no lunch time, and that was the horses. So after he grumbled some more about children being such nuisances, he took us downstairs again, and showed us your Marmalade and Champagne. Oh, but—"

"What?" shouted the whole family in shocked amazement.

"Marmalade and Champagne," Peace repeated more slowly. "That is what Jud called them. They aren't as pretty as our Black Prince, 'cause they are only red, and a red horse is never as nice as a black—"

"Horses! What funny names!" laughed Hope.

"She has made a mistake," smiled Mrs. Campbell. "They are Marmaduke and Charlemagne. My nephew's children named them, which accounts for their high-sounding titles. I am glad you like Marmaduke and Charlemagne, Peace. We think they are very intelligent animals. Jud has succeeded in teaching them several rather clever tricks."

"Yes, I like the horses and I like the people. It's going to be nice to live with such a neducated bunch. Marie's the only one that doesn't want to learn more, but p'raps she'll get over it. Who wins the prize, grandpa? That's all Allee and me saw. And what is the prize?"

"After dinner in the den tonight I'll tell you the secret," the President promised. "I had no idea it would take so long to recount your adventures, but my time is up now. I must go back to the University at once. And by the way, Peace, I am afraid Jud will have to show you around the campus if you must see it this afternoon. I have an important meeting at two o'clock."



Scarcely had the dinner hour ended that evening when the hilarious trio of younger girls, followed by the more sedate, but no less eager older sisters, scurried down the long corridor toward the den where the President had already intrenched himself, waiting for the promised visit.

"Here we are, grandpa!" announced Allee, tumbling breathlessly through the doorway and into the nearest chair. "We raced and I beat."

"'Cause Cherry tripped me up," exploded Peace wrathfully. "It's no fair—"

"Tut, tut, my children!" Dr. Campbell interposed. "No scrapping allowed here. This is a home, not a kennel."

"Oh, we weren't scrapping," Peace hastily assured him, "but I'd have won if Cherry hadn't got her feet mixed up with mine, so's Allee got in ahead. I don't care, though. I can run the fastest of the bunch outdoors. Jud says I'm a racer, all right. Did I get the prize for talking the most this noon? Gail and Faith and all of them think I ought to have it—that is, Allee and me. We went together and saw the same things, though I did do all the telling."

The President laughed. "Yes, I believe you and Allee won the prize all right. Grandma thinks so, too, but that is just where the hitch comes; because, you see, the prize was just to be your choice of rooms upstairs, and with Peace in one room and Allee in another, how are we going to settle the question as to who has first choice?"

"Do you mean that the winner can choose which of those three bare rooms she wants for her very own?"

"That's it." His eyes twinkled merrily. Peace's untrammeled frankness furnished him much amusement.

"Well, then, why is Allee going to be in one room and me in another?"

"Why—why—why—" stammered the learned Doctor, at loss to know how to explain certain plans he and Mrs. Campbell had in mind. "We thought it would be best to pair you off so one of you younger girls roomed with one of the older sisters. Don't you?"

"No," was the emphatic reply. "It wouldn't do at all."

"Why not?" gently asked Mrs. Campbell, who had entered the room so quietly that none of the girls was aware of her presence.

"Well, s'pose you paired us off 'cording to our looks," Peace explained, without waiting for any of the sisters to register objections; "there'd be Hope and Allee together, for they are the lightest; and Gail and Cherry would have a room by themselves, 'cause they aren't either light or dark; and that would leave Faith and me to each other, being the darkest of them all. Now, Faith and me can't get along together two minutes. Ask Gail, ask Hope. Any of them will tell you so. It ain't because we like to fight, either. We just ain't made to suit each other, that's all. Mother used to say there are lots of people in the world like that, and the only way to get along is to make the best of it and agree to disagree. But it would never do to put us in the same room. That's too close. We don't like the same things, even. Faith'd be cross 'cause I'd want to put my b'longings certain places, and I'd get awful ugly if she took all the nice spots for her things.

"Then, s'posing you paired us off by ages—the youngest with the oldest, and the next youngest with the next oldest,—that would still leave Faith and me together. It wouldn't do at all, you see."

"How would you suggest dividing the rooms among you, then?" meekly inquired the President, casting a comical look of resignation at his puzzled wife.

"Put the ones of us together that get along the best. Allee and me are chums, and Cherry and Hope, and Faith and Gail. Then we'd all be suited and there wouldn't be any fussing—'nless it was among the big girls."

The President coughed gently behind his hand, Mrs. Campbell bent over to straighten an imaginary wrinkle in the rug at her feet, while Gail and Hope were industriously studying a picture on the wall. But Faith readily seconded Peace's proposition, saying heartily, "What she says is true, grandpa. She and I can't seem to get along together at all, though we do love each other dearly. We never have been interested in the same things, and I don't believe we ever will be. We have always paired off the way she says, and get along famously that way."

"But how will you furnish the rooms that way?" wailed Mrs. Campbell suddenly. "I had planned it all out—the blondes together, the brunettes, and—"

"The blondes and brunettes?" repeated Cherry in bewilderment.

"Yes; fair-haired, blue-eyed people are blondes, while those with dark hair and eyes are brunettes," Hope explained.

"It would be so much easier to carry out a color scheme in each room if you girls were paired off according to looks," sighed the woman in disappointment.

"Colors wouldn't amount to much if we fought all the time," murmured Peace, trying hard to look cheerful even at the prospect of having to room with the one sister she could not understand or agree with.

"That's so," agreed the President, chasing away the disfiguring frown on his forehead with a bright smile. "Besides, mother, the girls may have altogether different plans for decorating their rooms than—Well, Peace and Allee have first choice of room then. Which shall it be?"

"The one with the teenty porch!" quickly responded the duet, as though the matter had already been privately discussed.

"Aha, conspirators! Had your minds all made up, did you?"

"Yes, grandpa," Peace answered. "We have both slid down the pillar into the garden—what was the garden—and clum up the trellis as easy! Just think how much time we can save going in and out that way instead of having to run clear down the hall to the stairs every time—"

"Peace!" screamed Mrs. Campbell in horror.

"Peace!" echoed the scandalized sisters.

But for a long moment the President only stared. Then he spoke. "Now, see here, children, if you have that balcony room for your own, you must promise one thing. Don't ever use the porch pillars for a stairway again, either to get inside the house or out. Do you understand?"

"Yes, grandpa," came the reluctant promise.

"You will not forget?"

"No, grandpa," with still more reluctance.

"If you do, you will forfeit that room, remember. Porch pillars were never made for such purposes. They are not only hard on your clothes, but think what would happen if you should slip and fall."

The whole group shuddered at this direful picture, and the chief culprit snuggled closer to this newly found guardian, and whispered contritely, "We didn't think of that before. We'll be good."

"That's my girlie! Now for the other matters we must consider. When it was settled that you were to come here to live, mother and I talked over plans for refurnishing the rooms you are to occupy, but somehow we could not come to any satisfactory conclusions, and finally decided it would be best and wisest to let you select your own furniture and arrange it to suit yourselves."

"Whee!" interrupted Peace with a delighted little hop. "Won't that be—"

"Don't say 'bully'," implored Cherry.

"No, I won't. I'll say jolly. Won't that be jolly? Hooray!" Her shout of joy ended in such a queer, shrill squeak that the little company burst into a gale of laughter, and it was some minutes before order was restored, but when at last the merriment had subsided, each duet found themselves holding a small slip of paper which quite took their breath away.

"What is it?" asked Allee, standing on tiptoe to get a better view of the yellow scrap in Peace's hand, though she could not read a word on it.

"Grandpa! Is it to furnish our rooms with?" cried Hope, impulsively dropping a kiss on the tip of Mrs. Campbell's nose.

"Oh, you precious people!" whispered Gail tremulously. "It is altogether too much. We ought not to spend all that just on our rooms."

"Now, look here, my dearies," interposed Mrs. Campbell, beaming benignly at the flushed, surprised faces of the six girls, "father and I figured it all out carefully, and that is the amount we decided upon as necessary for all the fixings you would want to make you cosy. And you will find it won't go so far after all; but I know you can trim up some very dainty, pretty rooms with that amount. The beds we already had, so we left them there, but all the other furniture has been removed to the attic or disposed of in other ways, so you can follow your own inclinations in refurnishing your boudoirs. That is why I was so anxious to have the blondes together, but—I don't believe it will matter much. You will find some way of getting around that."

"Of course they will, and the room that is fixed up the prettiest a week from today will be presented with an appropriate picture," declared the President, hugely enjoying the pleasure and surprise of his adopted family.

Silence for a breathless moment fell upon the eager group, then with characteristic energy, Peace grabbed Allee's hand and started for the door, saying, "Come on, sister, let's get to work right away. We've got to win that picture to go with our porch." Just at the threshold another thought occurred to her, and she faced about with the remark, "Say, grandpa, do we have to spend all this money for dec'rations?"

"No," he laughed. "If you can find anything in the attic which you can use, take possession of it."

"And the money we don't spend is ours?"

For a fraction of a second he hesitated, wondering what scheme was taking shape under the thatch of brown curls; then with a twinkle in his eyes he answered, "Yes, I reckon it is."

"But, Donald," whispered Mrs. Campbell in his ear, "they are too young to be intrusted with such a sum."

"Grandpa," Gail interrupted, looking thoughtfully at the check which Faith was still studying curiously; "must we do this without help from anyone else? Suppose we should all happen to choose the same plan?"

"Oh, there is no danger of that at all because your tastes are not all the same, so far as I can discover; but I think it might be a good plan to consult with some older or more experienced person—some one outside the family. Grandma and I are to be the judges, you know; so it would not be fair for us to know beforehand what you were intending to do."

"Oh, how splendid to have it all a secret from you two!" cried Hope. "But who will help us?"

"We shall ask Frances Sherrar," announced Gail after a whispered consultation with her room-mate. "She knows all about such things."

"Then let's us ask Mrs. Sherrar," suggested Cherry, anxious to have as good authority to back them in their plans.

"That's a good idea," Hope conceded readily. "Whom shall you choose, Peace?"

They all expected to hear her name Mrs. Strong, her patron saint, but to their utter amazement she promptly retorted, "Gussie!"

"But, Peace," they protested, "Gussie won't know—"

"Gussie thinks just like I do about colors and such things. That's why I chose her."

Nor could the sisters change her decision in the matter, but as the time was short and there were many other affairs demanding their attention, the girls soon forgot their concern over Gussie's barbaric tastes, and Peace and Allee were left to their own devices.

For the next three days they spent their leisure moments in wandering hand in hand about the house, looking very sober, and listening anxiously to the sound of hammers in the rooms adjoining theirs. Then a marked change came over them; there were many conferences with Gussie in the kitchen; much prowling about the attic in secret, and even two or three trips to the barn to interview Jud, the man of all work. The sound of hammer and saw could be heard at almost any hour of the day, hurried visits were made to the sewing-room when no one else was in sight, and the pungent smell of paint and paste filled the house.

But at last all three rooms were in spick-and-span order, and the two judges were summoned to behold the result of the week's labor. At the first door they halted, and the President turned to his wife with a ludicrous grimace as he said, "Dora, I am afraid I've got us into trouble. How in this wide world are we going to be able to decide which is the prettiest room! And if it should be easy to decide that question, how shall we ever make our peace with the occupants of the other two? Oh, Dora!"

"Open the door!" clamored the laughing girls. "You should have thought of these things before you made such a rash promise." And they pressed about him so relentlessly that he was forced to turn the knob and enter the first bower of loveliness.

It was indeed a bower, so refreshingly cool and beautiful with its color scheme of pink and green and brown that it required very little imagination to transport one into the heart of some enchanted woods; and instinctively the four younger girls as well as the judges burst into a long-drawn exclamation of wonder and delight.

"Oh, I can smell the flowers," cried Hope, sniffing the air hungrily as if expecting to find the woodland blossoms there.

"And hear the creek," added Peace.

"I suppose they have won the prize," sighed Cherry disconsolately, while behind their backs Gail and Faith ecstatically hugged each other.

"Don't decide the question until we have seen the other two," suggested Mrs. Campbell sagely, and the excited company flocked eagerly into the next room.

Here everything was in blue and gold, even to the dainty curtains at the windows. The walls were covered with a delicate blue paper, dotted with sprays of cheerful goldenrod; the dresser and table were decorated with blue silk scarfs embroidered with the same flower; gilt-framed pictures hung upon the walls; and from the head of each narrow, gilded bedstead floated soft draperies of blue.

"Sky and sunshine," murmured Gail, quick to feel the perfect harmony of the room. "Isn't it lovely?"

"Yes, and it is fully as pretty as ours," whispered Faith, "though I like ours best."

"Now for the last," Cherry urged eagerly, well content with the rapturous exclamations her room and Hope's had brought forth. "This will have to be awfully good to beat the other two."

"It is awfully good," Peace informed her. "I think it is the best."

"So do I!" "And I!" came the chorus of surprised voices as the last door swung open and the beauties of the third chamber burst upon their view.

"It makes me think of fire-crackers," Cherry pensively observed.

"Nobody but Peace would ever have thought of such a thing," Faith put in.

"A regular Fourth of July room," stuttered the President when he had recovered his voice enough to speak. "Girlies, how did you do it?"

"Well," confessed Peace, meditatively chewing her finger in her endeavor to appear modest in the midst of such unstinted praise, "at first we didn't know what to do. The other girls kept talking about 'propriate colors for their complexions. Faith is all blunette and she looks best in pink. Hope is all blonde and blue is her best color, while Gail and Cherry have blunette hair and blonde eyes, and they chose yellow and green. I didn't know it then, but that is what they did. Anyway, they talked about the different colors till I thought we ought to have our rooms fixed up in things that fitted us. That made it hard for Allee and me, you see, 'cause she is all blonde and I'm all blunette. To fit her, the room would have to be all blue, and to fit me it would be all red. Gussie said it wasn't stylish to use red and blue together any more, so we didn't know what to do until one day when we were rummelging through the attic we found heaps and heaps of perfectly whole bunting and two great, big flags. That decided us to make a flag room of ours, and Gussie said it was a splen-did idea. So that's how it happened.

"Allee and me'd rather sleep together so's we can talk when we are awake, instead of having to holler our thoughts clear across the room from one bed to the other whenever we want to talk secrets; so we traded beds with Gussie. She said she was willing, and I always did want that bird of a bed after I saw it in her room. But the curtains wouldn't hang from its tail like I thought they would, and we—"

"Stole my Paris doll to hold 'em up with!" cried Cherry, spying for the first time the beautiful waxen image dressed to represent the Goddess of Liberty, which stood on a tiny mantel over the quaint little bed, and held the bunting curtains in one hand.

"We borrowed it," Peace corrected. "We couldn't very well ask you 'bout it without your teasing to know why, and Allee and me didn't have a decent doll among us. Besides, you never play with it any more, and like as not grandpa or some other person that's got money will give us one of our own for Christmas. Then you can have yours back again. I guess you can wait that long, can't you? We wanted the walls striped with red and white, but Gussie thought that would look too much like a barber shop, so we just had white paper. It doesn't much matter, for the flags cover most of that wall, and Martha and George—we found them in the attic—Washington take up all the space on that side under the eagle—we got that out of the glass case that stands in the barn loft. We were going to see if we couldn't find some rugs with flags in them, but Gussie said it wasn't nice to walk on our country's flag, so we chose this red carpet that used to be on this floor."

"But where did you get such cute, quaint furniture?" asked Faith who was trying the white enameled chairs one after another.

"Oh, that all came from the attic, too. Didn't cost us anything. It was a dull, ugly brown—"

"Mother's mahogany set," whispered Mrs. Campbell to the amused doctor standing at her side.

"—but a little white varnish made it just what we wanted."

"Did you do the painting?" asked Cherry, testing it with her finger to see if it stuck.

"No; we tried, but it looked so streaked we thought we sure had spoiled it. Gussie didn't have time to do a good job on it, either; so we asked Jud to help us out, and he said he would if Gussie—" There was a movement at the door, and the company glanced over their shoulders just in time to see Gussie's dress whisk out of sight down the hall. "—would give him a kiss. So you see we got that work done dirt cheap, too. Altogether, we spent nine dollars and ninety-one cents of the money grandpa gave us. Gussie kept the list. That's what the paper and white paint and ribbons for tying back our curtains—oh, yes, and the curtains themselves came to. They are just dotted Swish and we got it at a sale, so it didn't cost us much. Mrs. Grinnell says always watch for sales, 'cause lots of bargains can be picked up that way, and we remembered it this time. We spent the extra nine cents—to make just an even ten dollars—for candy to treat Gussie and Jud, seeing they wouldn't take any money for their work, but they didn't eat it all; so Allee and me had the rest."

"Did you make the curtains yourselves?" asked Cherry, the inquisitive.

"Well, mostly. Gussie cut them for us, and I held them straight in the machine while Allee made the pedal go. The seams ain't very crooked, but sometimes the needle would hit a lump in the pattern and teeter out around it, in spite of all I could do. But the made-up curtains at the store cost lots more than the raw cloth and weren't half so pretty, so Gussie said she'd help us make our own. Didn't we do well?"

"You certainly did," was the unanimous verdict. "The prize is yours."

"And children," said the President impressively, as they still lingered in the quaintly furnished room; "I hope every time you enter this door, the spirit of patriotism, the love of country, will grow stronger and greater in your hearts."

"Yes, grandpa, I guess it will," answered Peace in all seriousness, "'cause we'll always be thinking of the rest of that check money which we've saved from dec'rating our room so's we could buy fire-crackers and rockets for next Fourth of July."



The days which followed the advent of the orphan sisters in the great house were happy ones. Oh, so happy! How can they be described? The two lonely old hearts which had hungered all these long years for the little children who had so early left them thrilled with gladness at every sound of the eager, girlish voices. Boundless content reigned in their hearts as they watched each expressive face and studied each different character; and they wondered openly how they had ever managed to live without this precious band of granddaughters, as they insisted upon calling their charges.

And the girls were equally happy. Gail felt as if a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders, as if her soul had been suddenly freed from a dark prison. The care-worn look vanished from the thin face; the big, gray-blue eyes sparkled with animation; her heart bubbled over with gratitude and love; and in every possible way she tried to show these new guardians how deeply and tenderly she loved them. And her attitude was that of the other sisters also, except that each took her own method of showing it. The Campbells were well satisfied with their experiment and were never tired of saying to each, other, "They are ours now."

"Yes," Peace had answered them once when she had overheard these words; "we are yours now, but it seems to me 'sif we had always belonged to you. Some way, we fit in just as slick! 'Sif we had only been away on a vacation and just got home again, and you're tickled to see us and we're tickled to see you. Only—s'posing we really had been your granddaughters, s'posing you had been our Grandpa Greenfield, I bet you'd never have named me Peace."

"No," Dr. Campbell replied gravely, but with a quick thrill of tenderness in his heart for this little scapegrace who seemed to win from everyone an extra share of love; "no, I don't think I should have named you Peace—that is, if I could have foreseen what the blossom was to be when the bud unfolded. I should have called you Joy."

"Joy?" repeated Peace. "Humph! That sounds like a heathen name. We've got a story book about Hop Loy, a Chinaman who was born on Christmas Day and never saw a Christmas tree until he was older'n Cherry. Why-ee! Ain't that terrible! I used to think I'd like to have my birthday come on Christmas, but now I'm glad it doesn't, for then everybody'd make one present do for the two days, and I'd get only half as many pretty things as other children have. It's bad enough as 'tis, being born on New Year's Day, for by that time most folks have spent all their money on Christmas doings."

"Oho," he mocked, "is that what is bothering you? Well, now, don't you worry! You shall have your share of birthday gifts as well as heaps of Christmas presents as long as you live with us. This year Christmas will be doubly merry, for it is the first holiday season we have had any young folks to help us celebrate since the days when Dora's nephew used to spend his vacations with us."

"Why doesn't he come any more?" asked Cherry curiously.

"Oh, he is a gray-haired man now with children of his own," laughed grandma, then sighed, for the rollicking Ned who had been the life of so many vacations with them had married a society dame whose one aim was to see how many social victories she could score, and the poor children of the family fared as best they could in the great, loveless palace which they called home.

"Do they live in Martindale?" asked Hope, eager to add to her list of acquaintances any whom the Campbells loved.

"No, their home is in Chicago now. That is a photograph of the children." She pointed to a group picture on the fireplace mantel, and the girls clustered about it with inquisitive eyes.

"What a sad-faced child the smaller one is," observed Faith. "How old is she?"

"Six or seven weeks younger than Peace, I believe. She was born on Valentine Day."

"How lovely!" Peace cried joyfully. "But I'd like it better if it was the boy who was almost my age. He looks the nicest of the bunch. The big girl is homely—"


"Well, it ain't her fault, I know, and I wouldn't mind how homely she was if she looked sweet, but she doesn't. She looks 'sif she thought she owned the earth and I never did like a darnimeering person. Now Tom—his name is Tom, isn't it?"

"No, dear, it is Henderson. Henderson Meadows."

"Oh! Why, I was sure it was Tom; he has such a Tom-ish look—"

A shout of derision interrupted her, but she stoutly declared, "Well, he has! Boys named Tom are always nice—all I ever knew. I'm sorry his name is Henderson. It doesn't sound a bit like him."

"You are a queer chick," said the President indulgently, "but I quite agree with you in regard to Henderson. He is a splendid fellow, however, in spite of his long name. They ought to have called him Ned Junior. He is big Ned all over again, just as Belle the second is the counterpart of her mother. Lorene is the odd piece. Every family has one odd one, I believe. Lorene is like neither her father nor mother."

"What funny names! They are as bad as ours. But I should like to know the children—the folks, I mean. I s'pose Belle is too old to be called a child any longer, ain't she?"

"Yes, Belle is sixteen and stylish," he answered grimly, as if that told the story, and it really did, for little more could be said of the frivolous, society-loving girl, brought up to follow in the footsteps of her worldly mother.

"Do they come here often?" ventured Gail, still studying the group, none of whom looked really happy.

"No, oh no," Mrs. Campbell answered hastily. "Martindale is too quiet for Mrs. Meadows. Ned sent Henderson and Lorene up here for a month last summer, but Belle has never been our guest. Grandpa and I have visited them twice in Chicago, but that is all we have ever seen them."

"I wish they lived nearer," sighed Peace. "We never had any cousins of our own, but maybe they'd adopt us too, like you did; then we'd know what it feels like to have real relations."

"Suppose you write Lorene. I think she would enjoy getting letters from a little girl so near her own age."

"That would be nice, s'posing I liked to write letters," Peace assented, "but I don't. I'll send her a Christmas present, though; and a valentine when it comes time, and a birthday gift, too. She will like that, won't she? What street does she live on in Chicago? It'll have to go pretty soon if it gets there in time for Christmas. That's only a week off. Mercy! What a lot of work we'll have to do before then, getting ready for the parties. I do love parties! But I don't see what you wanted to make two for. One would have been a plenty, and not near so much work."

Mrs. Campbell laughed comfortably. "The house isn't large enough to accommodate all we want to invite, so we had to make two parties. Besides, the evening party is a sort of 'coming out' affair for my older girls—"

"Coming out of what?"

"Oh, introducing them into college society—"

"And we littler girls ain't worth coming out for? Is that it?"

"Oh dear no! But little girls don't come out into society. They have to wait until they are grown up. Even Gail and Faith are too young for the social whirl as the world understands that phrase. They must wait until they are through with school and college life before they take up social duties. But they have met so very few of our young people since coming here to Martindale to live that we are giving this party to introduce them to their own classmates really. Do you understand now?"

Peace did not, but she vaguely felt that she ought to, so she bobbed her head slowly and fell to puzzling over the queer ways of the world. Fortunately for the whole household, the last week of preparation for the holiday season was a very busy one, so Peace had little time to think of all these perplexing questions; and when Christmas Day dawned at length, everyone thought she had forgotten her grievance over not being invited to attend the evening party for the older sisters. But Peace remembered, and in the gray of the early dawn before anyone else was awake in the great house, the door of the flag room burst open with a jerk and a joyous voice shrieked through the gloom:

"What have you got in your stockings, girls? Mine is stuffed so full it fell off the nail, and one chair and half the dresser is loaded with the left-over packages. And Allee's got as many as I have. There's a doll for each of us—they beat yours all hollow, Cherry. Now we've got a Goddess of Liberty all our own and you can have yours as soon as ever you want it. And I've got seven books. Guess Santa must have mixed me up with you again, Cherry. There are three puzzles and five games and a lot of handkerchiefs and ribbons, two sashes, and oh, the loveliest white dress for winter wear, all trimmed with the softest velvet—just the thing for your party tonight, Faith, s'posing I was invited. And there's a plaid dress and a plain red one and a brown one and a dark blue—six in all—and two coats. Two! Think of that! Mercy, ain't we rich now? Are you awake, all of you? Are you listening? Ain't this different from last year?"

Ah, how well they all remembered that last Christmas, and what a hymn of praise and thanksgiving went up from each of those six hearts for the joy and good tidings this Christmas had brought them!

Before Peace had finished shouting her catalog of gifts, the other sisters were awake—and indeed, the whole household was astir—examining the generous remembrances loving hands had heaped around their beds as they slept. And what a merry time they made of it! Gussie could scarcely prevail upon anyone to touch her tempting breakfast, for excitement had dulled the usually hearty appetites; the young folks found their treasures more alluring than any breakfast table could possibly be, and the President and his wife hovered over them to enjoy the sight of their joy.

"A body'd think they had never seen a Christmas Day before," muttered Marie, waiting impatiently in her snowy cap and apron to serve the rapidly cooling breakfast.

"It's many a long day since they have seen one like this," said Gussie loyally, smiling gratefully as she thought of the liberal number of packages old Santa had left hanging to her door during the night. But at length the meal was ended, Marie had carried the dishes away, Jud appeared with a step-ladder and hammer, and the younger trio were banished upstairs to amuse themselves until the last of the party decorations were put in place. This was not a hard thing to do, fortunately, and for once not one of them raised any objection to being exiled in this fashion.

"Why, I've enough things of my own to look at and think about to last me a week," Cherry breathed ecstatically.

"Yes, and s'posing you did get tired of that," spoke up Peace, "there's all the rest of the girls' bundles to 'xamine. They've each got a hundred 'most near, I sh'd think."

So for a long time they fluttered from room to room, admiring the pretty things that were now their own, nibbling chocolate drops, or discussing the party scheduled for two o'clock that afternoon. Then gradually conversation flagged; each girl sought a favorite retreat, and surrounded by her pile of belongings, sat down to gloat over them. Silence fell upon the rooms, broken only by the sound of rustling ribbons caressed by admiring hands, the opening and shutting of boxes, the fluttering of story-book leaves, the protesting squeak of Queen Helen's bisque arms and legs, and the rattle of mysterious puzzles.

Cherry had retired to her own domain to regale herself with certain tempting volumes, and Peace and Allee were alone in the flag room when the older girl suddenly dropped the book in which she had been lost for a full half hour, and said eagerly, "Allee, this is the most interesting story I ever read. It tells how the little Swede children give the birds a Christmas. Think of that! The birds! We tried to make it happy for everyone we knew—Jud and Gussie and Marie and the flirty chimney-sweep who goes by here every morning, and the washwoman who lives in the alley, and the milk-boy who comes so far through the cold to bring us our milk, and Caspar Dodds' family—and—and—all of them; and we even remembered the canary and the dogs, but we never thought of the birds outdoors."

"No, we didn't," Allee agreed, pausing in her occupation of undressing the gorgeous Queen Helen to stare fixedly at her sister as if trying to fathom her thoughts. "We might ask Gussie for some crumbs. It ain't too late yet."

"Crumbs wouldn't do at all. The book says they tie a sheaf of wheat to a tall pole in the yard so the birds will see it and come down and eat. See, there is the picture."

"Um-hm. But we haven't any tall pole in our yard, 'cept the flag-pole and that's on the roof."

"No, we haven't any pole like the book shows, but we could hitch the wheat on our balcony-rail knobs and when the birds came down to get it, we could watch them from this window. See?"

"Where'll you get the wheat?"

"From the barn. Jud's got a lot of different kinds of grain out there."

"But we can't go downstairs until party time. Even lunch is to be brought up here, grandma said."

"That's so. But I don't think they'd care if we just slipped down the stairs and straight out of the front door. It wouldn't take us but a minute to get the wheat and come right back again."

"Grandma said if we went downstairs before she gave us leave, we couldn't go to the party at all."

"Then how can we feed those birds?"

"I guess we can't feed them this year—'nless we do it tomorrow."

"Tomorrow won't be Christmas. We've got to do it today. Just think how nice it will be to play we are little Swedes and how pleased Gussie'll be to think we did something her people do."

"Why do just Swedes feed the birds?" inquired Allee, still a trifle dubious about entering into Peace's plan, in view of the risk involved.

"Oh, I s'pose they thought of it first. Every kind of people do something queer at Christmas which they call a custom. The Holland children put out their shoes on Christmas Eve for Santa Claus to fill, instead of hanging up their stockings."

"Their shoes?" Allee's eyes were as round as saucers with astonishment.

"Yes. They wear big, wooden boats for shoes. I guess their feet must be extra big—anyway, their shoes are simply e-mense and will hold a lot. Then there's the French people,—they always save up all the fusses and scraps they have had with other folks during the year, and on Christmas Day they go around and get forgiven. Wonder what Gail would think of that! And the Irish folks stay up all night to hear the horses talk."

"Peace, you're fooling!"

"Allee Greenfield, do I ever fool you?"

"N—o, you never have."

"And I ain't beginning now. That is just what this book says."

"But horses don't talk!"

"Only at Christmas time."

"I don't b'lieve they do then. Did you ever hear them!"

"N—o, but I'm going to stay up tonight and listen."

"Oh, we can't. This is party night and what would grandma say?"

"We'll never know if they talk unless we do stay up and listen—and I'd like to find out what they say. It's just at midnight. That ain't long. We go to bed at eight, and midnight is only twelve o'clock. We could stay awake easily till then, 'cause the people who are invited will be leaving just about that time. I heard grandma say so. We'll just skip away to the barn and see if Duke and Charley are talking, and then we'll come back before anyone knows we're gone."

The plan was truly very fascinating, but Allee still looked very doubtful, and after a silent moment Peace broke out in an aggrieved tone, "I don't see what is the matter with you, Allee. You are getting to be just like Cherry. She always sets down on my plans. You won't help me hang up the wheat for the Swedes or listen to the Irish horses. You never used to be like that."

"I will too help you!" cried Allee, hurt at her boon companion's words and tone. "I'll do anything you want me to, only I don't see how we can carry out either one of those. We'll surely get scolded if we go downstairs now, and it would be dreadful if we couldn't go to either party."

Peace walked to the balcony window and threw up the sash, murmuring, "If only grandpa hadn't made us promise not to slide down the pillars! Oh, I've got it, Allee! Look here!"

Allee scrambled up from the floor and hurried to her side, shivering in the cold blast that blew in through the open window, bearing with it a few feathery flakes, for it was trying hard to snow. "See that piece of the wall that sticks out there, and—"

"But how can you walk on that little mite of a piece?" gasped Allee, growing pale at the very thought. "And how would you get down to the ground?"

"Oh, that's easy! The rain-pipe is fastened just high enough for me to hang onto, and 'sides, the trellis goes part of the way to the porch roof, and Jud hasn't taken down the ladder he put up there yesterday."

"Yes, but s'posing you should fall," wailed Allee in sudden terror, for the water-pipe looked like a very frail support even for a child as small and light of foot as was Peace, and the corner with the projecting porch roof seemed so far away.

"There's snow on the ground. I wouldn't get hurt. But you needn't think I'm going to fall. I've clum lots harder places than that before. You stay here and when I get back you can tack up the wheat on the rail post."

Carefully she stepped out on the balcony, slipped over the low railing and set out on her perilous journey along the narrow coping, clinging tightly to the rain-trough with one hand, and hanging onto the trellis supports with the other till at last she was safe on the porch roof at the corner. With an exultant shout she turned and waved her hand at rigid, white-lipped Allee in the window, then slid lightly down the ladder and out of sight. She was gone a long time, and the small watcher above was becoming alarmed at her stay, fearing that the daring acrobat had been caught at her pranks, and wondering what punishment would befall her in such an event, when the bare, brown head appeared over the low porch roof once more, and Peace inquired in a worried tone, "Do you know whether birds eat hay? 'Cause I can't find any whole wheat out there. It's all shocked."

"Why, I never watched them long enough to see," began Allee, eyeing the great twisted wisp the older child had in her hand.

"Well, I brought some grain, too, but I don't know how we can tie that to a pole, 'nless we leave it in the bag, and then how can the birds get at it!"

"We might throw it along the rail—it's wide enough to hold quite a little—"

"Course! What a nijut I am not to think of that myself!"

Slinging the bag of grain over one arm, and still clutching the hay firmly in the other hand, she began her slow creeping along the coping back to the balcony window. The rain-pipe shook threateningly under her weight, and even the trellis supports swayed uncomfortably when once she slipped and almost lost her frail footing. Allee gave a low moan of horror and shut her eyes, but the daring climber did not fall, and when next the watcher looked, she beheld the curly, brown head bobbing over the balcony rail, as Peace swung up to safety beside her, and dropped the burden—the birds' Christmas dinner—into her trembling hands.

Nor was Allee the only one who trembled. On the snowy walk below, approaching the house with rapid strides, came the dignified President, hand in hand with two children, a bright-eyed, black-haired boy of perhaps a dozen years, and an under-sized, gipsy-like little girl, both chattering like magpies as they raced along beside the tall, erect old man, when suddenly the girl screamed faintly, "Oh, Uncle Donald, look!"

But he had caught sight of the apparition even before she spoke, and halted abruptly, breathlessly, terror clutching at his heart. The boy followed the gaze of his two petrified companions, and ejaculated in amazed admiration, "Golly, but she's got grit! Why, Uncle Donald, that's your house! That must be one of the girls you were telling us about. Is it Peace?"

The President nodded his head mechanically, not knowing that he had heard the question, but the next moment the frozen horror of his face melted. The climber had reached the balcony and was unconcernedly scattering a handful of grain over the narrow railing, while Allee securely bound the wisp of hay to the balcony post. A great sigh of relief escaped the watchers below, their hearts began to beat once more and the red blood pounded through their veins.

"Oh," gasped the girl, "I thought sure she'd fall!"

"I didn't," declared the boy with a wise shake of his head. "She's a reg'lar cat. I believe she could climb a wall. She's like that 'human fly' the papers are always telling about. I'd like jolly well to see him do some of his stunts, you better believe!"

The President said nothing, but his mouth set in grim lines and a look of determination replaced the fearful pallor of his face. Forgetful of the guests he had in tow, he marched into the house and straight up the stairway with the children still at his heels. At the door of the flag room he knocked, then without waiting for a summons from within, he entered.

The two scatterers of Christmas cheer had finished their work by this time and were now gleefully watching the feathered folk of the air settling about the unexpected repast, so they scarcely heard the steps in the hall or the creak of the opening door. But at the peculiar sound of the voice speaking to them, both girls wheeled quickly, and Peace asked in guilty haste, "Did you want us, grandpa?"

"Yes, come here, both of you."

They went and stood at his knee, a secret fear tugging at each little heart as they saw the unusually stern look he bent upon them.

"Is—is—what—why—," stammered Peace, wishing he would smile a little to relieve the keenness of his glance.

"What were you doing just now?"

"Feeding the birds like the Swedes do on Christmas Day, only we didn't have a pole to hitch our wheat to, and all our wheat was in kernels anyway, and we were told not to go downstairs until Jud and the girls were through dec'rating, so we clum out of the window and I got some hay and grain just as slick! Don't the birds look as if they were enjoying their Christmas dinner?" Peace rattled on, speaking so rapidly that the words fairly tumbled out of her mouth.

"Didn't I tell you when you chose this room for your own that you would forfeit it the first time you used the window for the stairway?"

"No, grandpa," came the astounding reply from both eager little girls. "You said porch, pillars, and we have never used them for stairways since the time we told you about. We 'membered that carefully, and this time we used that wide piece that sticks out of the wall, and then clum down Jud's ladder from the back porch roof. That ain't the balcony pillars, grandpa. You never said we couldn't go down that way."

In absolute amazement the learned Doctor of Laws gazed long and silently into the anxious, upturned faces. Allee's lips began to tremble, and even Peace, remembering the Doctor's words in regard to lickings the night of the surprise party in the little brown house, shook in her shoes; but she steadfastly returned his gaze, and quietly repeated, "You know you didn't, grandpa!"

"No," he said at last. "I did not forbid your going down that way, but it was only because I never dreamed you or anyone else would ever try such a feat." Suddenly his sternness vanished, he stooped quickly and gathered the scared little souls in his arms, choking huskily, "My little girlies, if you knew what a fright you have given your old grandpa—"

"Oh, grandpa," quavered Allee from her retreat on his shoulder, "we'll never do it again, truly!"

"And you won't take this darling room away from us this time, will you?" wheedled Peace, her equilibrium restored at sight of this unusual display of emotion.

"No," he promised, "not this time. We'll try you again, but remember—no more window climbing of any kind."

"Not even out onto the balcony?" wailed Peace in dismay.

There was a sound of suppressed laughter from the hall, and as the girls in the flag room whirled about to discover the cause, the President suddenly remembered his new guests and rose hurriedly to his feet. But Peace had reached the door in a bound and with a cry of delight dragged forth the embarrassed strangers, exclaiming, "It's Henderson and Lorene, grandpa! They look 'xactly like their picture, don't they, only not quite so grumpy? Grandma said I better write Lorene and I did and I invited her to come up for my party. That's how they happen to be here. Now we'll get acquainted with our relations, won't we? I invited Belle, too. Why didn't she come?"

"Belle and mamma went to Evanston last week," Lorene explained bashfully.

"And they let you come all alone?"

"They don't know yet that we aren't in Chicago," chuckled Henderson. "Dad let us come. It's only a twelve-hour ride and we don't change cars at all. Pooh! We've gone longer ways than that alone."

"But not when mamma knew it," supplemented Lorene. "She'd have insisted upon sending Nurse with us—if she had let us come at all. Where shall we put our wraps? It's hot in here."

"Oh, I forgot!" cried Peace, abruptly recalled to her duties as hostess, for dazed Dr. Campbell had gone in search of his wife the minute he saw that the children were sufficiently introduced.

"Hang your coat on the hall-tree, Henderson; and Lorene, bring your things in here. It's pretty near lunch time already, and then we must dress for the party."

So in spite of their very unexpected arrival, the two strangers received a royal welcome, and were soon very much at home with the six merry girls whom they promptly adopted as cousins, just as Peace had hoped they would. And how quickly the hours flew by! Before anyone realized it, the great clock in the hall struck two, and promptly the small guests began to arrive. Happy voices filled the house, happy faces beamed from every corner, happy hearts beat high with Christmas cheer; the very air seemed charged with happiness. The four younger sisters made charming hostesses, Grandma Campbell proved to be a rare entertainer, and the dignified President won everlasting fame as a story-teller and leader in games.

"Everything was a success," as Hope thankfully declared when the last guest had departed, and the happy group had congregated in grandma's room to talk things over while Jud and his corps of helpers were setting things to rights for the evening party.

"Yes," Peace reluctantly conceded, "but think how much nicer it would have been if we could have had it in the evening like grown-up folks."

"Still harping about that?" laughed Faith, pausing in the doorway with her arms full of holly wreaths ready to be hung. "Daytime is made for children. Gail and I didn't intrude at your party."

"That ain't 'cause you wasn't invited," Peace replied pointedly.

"But we couldn't very well come," Faith answered hastily. "There were so many things we had to get ready for our tree tonight."

"Getting things ready for a tree ain't like having to lie in bed and hear all the noise and music and know you can't have any share at all in them," Peace persisted; but Faith had already vanished down the stairway, and only a tantalizing laugh floated back in reply.

A hush fell over the little company in the cosy room, each busy with happy thoughts or rosy day-dreams, as she stared at the glowing embers in the great fireplace or watched the white flakes drifting down through the early twilight outside. Then there was a firm step on the stair, a cheery voice from the hallway broke the spell, and six pair of eyes were lifted to greet the busy President as he briskly entered the room and paused to survey the pretty scene.

"Well, well," he said bluffly, "what's the difficulty? Quarrelling?"

"No, sir!" they shouted emphatically.

"We were just thinking—" Henderson began.

"How nice it would be if little folks were invited to grown-up parties," finished Peace, who seemed possessed of only that one idea.

"That's just what I have been thinking, too," was the surprising confession from the tall man on the hearth rug.


"Well, when mother and I came to think over the subject seriously, we both agreed that it did not seem exactly fair to put three, no, four such charming little maids to bed—for of course Lorene would share your fate, too—when there were to be such festive doings downstairs, although neither one of us believes in late hours for children. I presume we are very old-fashioned in some things—"

"No, you aren't," chorused the loyal girls.

"No? True patriots! And yet didn't you think grandma and I were just the least teenty bit hard on you to make you go to bed at the regulation hours tonight when it is Christmas?"

"W-e-ll, we would like awfully much to stay up and see if Gail and Faith do as good entertaining their comp'ny as we did," confessed Peace with unusual hesitation.

"Supposing I should tell you that we have decided to let you stay up an hour or two longer?"

"Oh, grandpa, what a darling you are!"

"No, you must thank Faith. She begged so hard that we have had to give in to satisfy her."

"Faith?" Peace was so completely dumbfounded that they had to laugh at her.

"Yes, dear, Faith. She says you are so dreadfully anxious to see what a grown-up Christmas party is like that she is afraid you will die of curiosity if you can't have that wish fulfilled."

"Grandpa, you are just joking," Cherry reproved.

"I am thoroughly in earnest, I assure you. To be sure, Faith used somewhat different words, but she sympathized so heartily with you that we decided to let you enjoy part of the evening's program. In fact, the only reason we planned two parties in the first place was because the old house wouldn't hold at one time all we wanted to invite; and we thought it would be a great deal easier to entertain our guests if we had the big folks at one party and the little people at another. Do you understand now?"

"Yes, and I'll bet you've been figuring on letting us go all the while we were stewing about it," cried Peace, the irrepressible.

"Maybe you are right," he chuckled.

She bounced off the floor with a squeal of delight, clutched Allee with one hand and Lorene with the other, and rushed out of the room, calling back over her shoulder, "Now, I'm surblimely happy! You better go dress, Cherry! Dinner will soon be ready and there won't be much time after that before the party begins."

They had been happy before, but the granting of this one dear wish transported them to such heights of bliss that they seemed to be walking on clouds, and went about in such a state of rapture that it was ludicrous as well as delightful to behold their antics.

Evening came, the guests arrived, music sounded, carols were sung, and Peace, entranced, moved about through the gay, light-hearted throng like one in a dream. To be sure, it was just as the President had prophesied—little attention was paid to the children of the party, but it was glorious fun just to watch the changing scenes and be a part of them, instead of lying tucked away in bed upstairs listening with ever-increasing curiosity and longing to the sounds of merrymaking below.

With a happy sigh of content at the realization of her great ambition, Peace dropped down upon a pile of cushions by one of the long French windows, leaned her forehead against the cool pane and looked out into the night, where by the flickering light of the street-lamps she could see the white snowflakes drifting slowly, lazily downward.

"My, but hasn't this been a happy Christmas!" she said aloud, though no one was near enough to hear her words. "Who'd ever have thought last Christmas that we'd be here tonight? Do you s'pose the angels know we don't live in Parker any more? We might set a lamp in the window so's they'd see it and be sure. Gail says mother always did that when papa was out after night, so he could find his way home all right. I'll tell Allee and when we go to bed we'll just remind the angels that we don't need so much looking after now that we're living here. I'll never forget how s'prised Hec Abbott was when he found out that we'd all been 'dopted together. I wonder what Hec is doing about now? He can't brag any more about the good times they have at his house. We are just—what in the world is that coming up the steps?"

Mechanically she rose to her feet, her nose still pressed flat against the window-pane as she studied the huge, misshapen figure already on the wide veranda. The footman who had ushered in the guests of the evening was at that moment occupied in fastening up a strand of evergreen which had fallen close above a gas-jet; the President was at the furthest corner of the great parlor engaged in an animated discussion with a pale-faced professor of Greek; and Mrs. Campbell was nowhere in sight. With a wildly beating heart, Peace seized the door-knob, and not waiting for the queer stranger outside to ring the bell, she flung wide the door and confronted him.

"Why, it's Santa Claus!" they heard her say, for the sudden sharp blast of winter air had drawn a crowd to the door to see what had happened. "Don't you know, sir, that you can't come in this way? Go up to the roof and climb down the chimbley, like you do at other houses," she commanded, and in the face of the amazed Saint Nick she slammed the door.

"Peace, what have you done?" cried Gail aghast, as she caught a glimpse of the fat, knobby pack disappearing down the steps.

"It was just that Santa Claus forgot to go down the chimbley," she explained. "He ought to have remembered that!"

A shout from the adjoining room cut short her defense, and as the crowd surged forward in that direction, she beheld the jolly old Saint shuffling across the floor dragging his heavy pack which certainly looked as sooty and dirty as if he had really plunged down the tall chimney and through the fireplace. Straight to her corner he came, and fumbling in his sack, drew forth a tiny statue of the Goddess of Liberty, which he presented with an elaborate bow, saying in a deep, rumbling voice, "To the defender of all childhood traditions—Liberty enlightening the world!" His words were greeted with mad applause, for by this time everyone had heard the story of the flag room and peeped at its quaint furnishings; but the laugh was quickly turned from one to another, for St. Nick had remembered well the pet foibles of each guest present, and had brought with him appropriate gifts for all.

Much too soon the hands of the clock crept around to the hour of half past ten, and with sighs of resignation and disappointment, the four smaller girls, Cherry, Peace, Lorene and Allee, slipped quietly away to bed.

"I did so want to hear the rest of the carols," murmured Cherry, yawning so widely that she nearly swallowed the rest of the exiled group.

"We can hear them after we're in bed," said Peace, rubbing her eyes which were growing very heavy in spite of her efforts to stay awake. "Gussie promised to leave our doors open until time for the folks to go home. It's the charades I wanted to see."

"Charades?" questioned Lorene. "Were they going to have charades, too?"

"She means tableaux," explained Cherry. "She's crazy about them. They make me cough too much—the lights they use, I mean. Come on, Lorene, sleep with me tonight until Hope comes up to bed. Do, please! It isn't fair for you three to stick in here and leave me all by myself in the other room."

Lorene glanced hesitatingly from one sister to the other, and seeing no opposition, answered, "All right, Cherry, I'll stay with you till the folks go. You don't care, do you, girls?"

"Not for that long," Peace magnanimously replied, for a daring plan had just popped her eyes wide open, and Lorene might hinder its fulfillment. So they separated, and in a few short moments four white-robed figures were tucked snugly under the coverlets, the lights turned out, and the two doors left ajar that the sleepy exiles might hear the strains of music floating up the wide staircase. There was the soft sound of whispered words from bed to bed like the sleepy twitterings of birdlings in their nests, and then silence. Cherry and Lorene were fast asleep. Downstairs the carols ceased, the wail of violin and guitar died away, and the murmur of voices was again borne to the straining ears of the conspirators in the flag room.

"Do you s'pose they have begun tableauing?" asked Allee, after what seemed an eternity of listening.

"Not yet; they have lights. There, that must be one. See how queer the hall looks through the crack of the door? I guess it's time now. Come on, but be awful still."

"It's cold after being in that warm bed," protested Allee as her bare feet touched the polished floor in the hall.

"We'll get some wraps in here," Peace answered, inspired by a happy thought to seize upon two beautiful white opera robes belonging to some of the guests below, and with these heavy garments trailing behind them, they stole softly down the wide stairway almost to the landing, where, out of sight from the company massed in the parlor and adjoining rooms, they could still see the tableaux taking place in the reception hall below.

Fortunately for their health's sake, this part of the program was brief, and had it not been for the very last scene pictured, no one would have dreamed of their presence behind the palings. But it happened that the girls had chosen as a climax for the evening the tableau of the first Christmas Eve; and Hope, arrayed as the angel of good tidings, appeared on the stairs just as Jud touched off the weird red light on the landing,—for neither actor nor servant had discovered the hidden culprits until too late to utter any words of warning or reproof. Startled beyond measure at the sudden glow almost at their elbow, the two conspirators scrambled to their feet and vanished hastily up the stairway as the chorus below took up the song,

"Angels ascending and descending,
Chanted the wond'rous refrain,
'Glory to God in the Highest,
Peace and good will toward men.'"

The long, fur-lined opera cloaks streamed out behind them like misty clouds in the unearthly glow of the sulphur light, and it seemed as if they were really a part of the beautiful tableau, which brought forth such thunderous applause from the delighted audience that it had to be repeated. This Peace and Allee did not know, however, for with chattering teeth and trembling limbs, they had fled to the refuge of their room, pausing only long enough to drop their borrowed finery where they had found it; and they were crawling underneath the covers once more when Peace hissed sharply in her sister's ear, "What about the horses?"

"What's the matter with them?" murmured Allee, too confused and sleepy to know what her companion was saying.

"We were going out to hear them talk at midnight."

"So we were! Well, I guess they'll have to talk all to themselves again tonight."

"What? Ain't you going out with me to listen?"

"We'd freeze in our nightgowns and we dahsent take those pussy-cat coats to the barn," protested the younger sister, aroused by Peace's surprised exclamation.

"We'll dress."

"Oh, Peace, and then have the fun of taking our clothes off again?"

"We'll put on our stockings and overshoes and bundle up in grandma's shawls. How'll that do? But first, we better light that candle I told you about to let the angels know where we are tonight. There—I guess they'll see it, even if it isn't as big as a lamp. Come on, I heard the clock strike a long time ago."

If Allee had not been so sleepy she might have remembered one other time just a year before when Peace had heard the clock strike; but being too near the land of Nod to realize anything but that Peace was calling her, she stumbled out of bed once more and allowed herself to be bundled up in wraps of all sorts until she was as shapeless as a mummy. In this fashion they slipped down the back stairs and out to the barn without betraying their presence, though the steps creaked under their weight, and every door they opened squeaked so alarmingly that Peace held her breath more than once for fear someone had heard.

Once inside the dark barn, they had to feel their way about, for not a ray of light penetrated the blackness of the stormy night, and the grim silence of the place filled them with nameless terror. It was not so bad when they had finally found their way into Marmaduke's stall and cuddled close to the friendly beast, who nosed them inquiringly, but even there they did not dare speak above a whisper; and so they waited breathlessly for the mystic midnight hour when the animals should break their silence and talk, each secretly wishing she were safely back in bed again.

Up at the house the merry evening had at length drawn to a close, and the guests had reluctantly departed. The President, returning from the gate where he had escorted the last guest to her sleigh, made a harrowing discovery. There was a light in the balcony window! Could it be that burglars had entered the house during the merrymaking and were even now ransacking the rooms? He looked again. It was such a tiny, steady light. Was it possible that one of the children was sick and Gussie had not told him? The last thought sent him flying up the stairs three steps at a time, and he reached the flag room door so breathless that he could scarcely turn the knob. The bed was empty. Only a wee taper from the Christmas tree burned faintly on the window sill.

In frantic haste he called the family and they searched the house from garret to cellar, but the missing children were not to be found.

"Do you suppose the tableau scared them to death?" asked Hope.

"Maybe they tried to see if Santa Claus really came down the chimney and got stuck there themselves," suggested Henderson, who regarded the disappearance of the duet as something of a lark.

"Wake Jud," commanded Mrs. Campbell, and the worried Doctor hastily lighted a lantern and went down to the barn to rouse the man of all work, wondering as he did so what good that would do. The horses whinnied as he entered the stable, and in the dim light that flooded the place, the President saw that the door of Marmaduke's stall stood open.

"What can Jud be thinking of?" he muttered somewhat testily, stepping along to slip the bolt in its place, but the next instant his eyes fell upon two dark bundles huddled at the horse's feet, and with a startled exclamation he bent over to examine his find, just as Faith burst in through the door behind him, crying, "They must have left the house, grandpa, because the back hall door is unlocked and the storm-door is swinging."

"Yes, Faith, and here they are," he answered, tenderly lifting the smaller warm bundle and depositing it in the girl's arms. "What in creation do you suppose they were doing here?"

As if in answer to his question, the brown eyes of the child he was just lifting fluttered slowly open, and Peace drowsily drawled, "We fed the Swede birds for Gussie, and got French forgiveness from grandpa for doing so, and had a German Christmas tree, and lots of Hung'ry company, and 'Merican stockings and a 'Merican Santa Claus, but we didn't hear the Irish horses talk, and I b'lieve it's all a joke."

In spite of their anxiety, Faith and the President gave a boisterous shout, and Peace heard as in a dream her sister's voice saying, "It is Christmas Eve that the animals are supposed to talk. Poor Peace!"



Strange as it may seem, neither child felt any ill effects from that midnight escapade, but the next morning they awoke as chipper and gay as if there were no such thing as after-Christmas feelings. They even forgot the lonely vigil in the stable in their dismay at the discovery that Lorene had slept all night with Cherry instead of returning to their room as she had promised to do. An after-breakfast summons to the President's study brought their pranks vividly to mind again, however, and with considerable trepidation they saw the heavy door close behind them, shutting them in alone with the grave-eyed man, for they stood much in awe of the learned Doctor when that stern look replaced the usual bluff kindliness of his face.

The conference was exceedingly brief and to the point, judging from the sober, wilted little culprits who pattered up the stairway a few minutes later and silently sought the flag room. Henderson and the girls were consumed with curiosity to know the result of the interview, and their amazement knew no bounds when the disgraced duet vanished within their quiet retreat and turned the key in the lock. After waiting in vain fifteen minutes for them to reappear Lorene crossed the hall and knocked timidly at the closed door. There was no answer. She tried again, this time with more vim, but with no better success. Then she called, but not a sound from within greeted her straining ear. Cherry and Hope each took a turn, and Henderson pounded his fists sore without receiving a single word of reply from the prisoners.

"I believe they have climbed out of the window," he cried at last in exasperation.

"No, they promised grandpa not to. I guess maybe they've been sent to bed," said Cherry, inwardly thankful that she had not been in the latest scrapes.

Neither was right. But after a time, tiring of their efforts to get some sign from the culprits, the quartette in the hall dispersed to amuse themselves in some more entertaining manner. No sooner had their footsteps died away on the stairs, and Peace was convinced in her own mind that they had really gone for good, than a change came over her. She was sitting erect in a stiff-backed chair in one corner of the room, while her companion in misery sat huddled in the opposite corner, staring at the fresco of flags above her head. Both looked dreadfully woe-begone, and as if the tears were very near the surface, for punishment sat heavily upon these two light-hearted spirits, particularly as such severe measures did not seem necessary or just to them in view of the smallness of their sin. However, when the racket outside their door finally fell away into silence, Peace suddenly gave a little jump of inspiration, twisted her feet about the legs of her chair, and began a slow, laborious hitching process across the red rug toward the tiny dresser. Reaching this goal, she jerked open a drawer, rummaged out paper and pencil and began a furious scratching.

Allee watched with fascinated eyes, but true to her promise to the President in the den below, she never said a word, though she was nearly bursting with curiosity and it was so hard to keep still. After a few moments of rapid scribbling on a page of vivid pink stationery, the brown-eyed plotter again commenced her queer march across the room until she had reached the door, unlocked it, and after a hard struggle managed to pin the slip to the outside panel. Then with a sigh of mingled relief at having accomplished her object and resignation at her unjust fate, she closed the door once more, and wriggled back to her place opposite Allee, never so much as looking at the eager face questioning hers so mutely.

Again silence reigned in the pretty room, and both girls fell to wondering what the other members of the household were doing. Suppose Cherry had taken Lorene down to the pond to skate. That was what Peace herself had been planning on ever since she had looked into the small dark face of the child who was only six weeks and two days younger than she was. Suppose Hope had gone with Henderson to coast on the hill. He had promised Allee the first ride just the night before. Suppose Jud should choose this morning to take the girls sleighing as he had said he would do when the first heavy snow fell.

It had stormed all night and the deep mantle of white lay tempting and inviting in the bright winter sunshine. Oh, dear, what a queer world it seemed! Some people were in trouble all the time and some were never bothered with scrapes and punishments. There was Hope. Why was it Hope never did such outlandish things to cause anxiety and dismay to those around her? Hope never even thought of the freakish pranks that were constantly getting Peace into trouble.

What was it grandma was always quoting? "Thoughtfulness seeks never to add to another's burdens, never to make extra work or care, but always to lighten loads." She said it was because Hope was always thinking of beautiful things that made folks love to have her near; that it was the mischievous thoughts which cause the misery of the world. She said—what did she say? The brown eyes winked slower and slower, the brown head bent lower and lower. Peace was asleep.

An hour passed,—two. The luncheon bell tinkled, the family gathered about the table for the mid-day meal, but the chairs on either side of the President's place were vacant. Glances of inquiry flashed from face to face. Were the children to be kept in their room all day?

"Where are Peace and Allee?" asked the Doctor, very much surprised at their absence.

"I haven't seen them since you sent them upstairs this morning," answered Mrs. Campbell, who had been occupied all the forenoon writing a paper for the Home Missionary Society which was to meet at the parsonage that afternoon.

A guilty flush overspread the President's fine face, and forgetting to excuse himself from the table, he abruptly pushed back his chair and strode from the room, muttering remorsefully, "I deserve to be licked! That was three hours ago and I promised to call them in an hour." He returned shortly alone, looking very foolish, and holding in his hand a square of brilliant pink.

"What is it?" asked his wife, surprised at the look on his face. "Where are the little folks?"

"Asleep. They looked so worn out that I put them on the bed and left them to have their nap out. This is what I found on the door."

He dropped the slip of paper into her hands as he resumed his seat, and she read in tipsy, scrawling letters Peace's poster: "It won't do enny good to raket or holler to us. We can't talk for an hour. If you want to ask queshuns go to grandpa he is boss of this roost."

She smiled a little tremulously as she passed the pathetic scribble to Henderson, sitting at her right, but he, being a boy, saw only the funny side of the situation, and let out a lusty howl of joy as he read aloud the words with much gusto to his delighted audience.

When the laughter had subsided somewhat, the President asked ruefully, "How can I make my peace with them? I sent them to their room for an hour and promptly forgot all about the affair."

"I'll take them to the Missionary Meeting with me this afternoon," suggested Mrs. Campbell, "and you can come for us with the sleigh. Peace has begged to go over ever since she has been here. It seems that Mrs. Strong is an enthusiastic missionary worker, and Peace's greatest ambition is to be like her Saint Elspeth."

"So she can find another St. John and marry him," giggled Faith.

"Yes. I guess it is hard to decide which one of her saints she thinks the most of," Mrs. Campbell agreed; "but I am so glad she has chosen such a beautiful couple to pattern her own ideals after. Their friendship will do much for our little—" she intended to say "mischief-maker," but this white-haired woman with her mother instincts seemed to understand that Peace's mischief was never done for mischief's sake, so she changed the word to "sunshine-maker."

Thus it happened that when the brown eyes and the blue unclosed after their long nap, they looked up into the dear face of their grandmother-by-adoption, and saw by her tender smile that their punishment was ended. They were surprised to find how long they had slept, but the delight at being allowed to attend a grown-up missionary meeting, as Allee called it, overshadowed whatever resentment they might have felt at having been forgotten for so long a time, and they danced away through the snow beside Mrs. Campbell as happy and carefree as the little birds which they had fed yesterday.

The meeting was not as exciting as Peace had been led to expect from Mrs. Strong's enthusiastic recitals regarding missionary work, but some of the words spoken by the different ladies sank very deeply into the children's fertile brains, and both were so silent on the homeward journey behind the flying horses that finally Mrs. Campbell ventured to ask, "Are you tired, girlies? Was the meeting a disappointment to you?"

"Oh, no," Peace hastened to assure her. "I liked it lots, and Allee likes the same things I do, don't you, Allee? The women were pretty slow about doing things—they talked so long each time before they could make up their minds about anything. But it's int'resting to know that at last they decided to send some barrels to the poor ministers in the little places who don't get enough to live on. 'Twould have been better if they had done it before Christmas, though, so's the children wouldn't have thought Santa Claus had forgotten them. Do—do you think like Mrs. McGowan—that if we have two coats and someone else hasn't any, we ought to give away one of ours? That's what she said, isn't it?"

"Yes, that is what she said," Mrs. Campbell agreed; "and in a large measure I believe her doctrine, too. If we have more than we need and there are others less fortunate, I think we ought to share our blessings. But it takes a lot of good sense and tact to do this judicially."

"I think so, too," answered Peace with such a peculiar thrill in her voice that the President, at whose side she was sitting, turned and looked quizzically at the rapt face. "I don't b'lieve in talking a lot about giving and then when it comes to really doing it, to give just the left-over things that ain't any good to us any longer, and wouldn't be to anyone else, either."

"Why, what do you mean, child?" the woman asked, taken by surprise at such quaint observations from the fly-away little maid, whose serious thoughts were regarded as jokes even by her own family.

"Well, there was Mrs. Waddler in Parker. She always talked so big that folks who didn't know her thought she must have millions of money; but when she came to giving, it was usu'ly skim milk or some of her husband's worn-out pants."

Here the President exploded, but at the same instant the horses turned in at the driveway; and in scrambling down from the sleigh Peace forgot to press her argument any further. Nor did the older folks remember it again for some days. Then Mrs. Campbell entered the doctor's study one afternoon with a deep frown on her forehead, and a little note in her hand.

At the sound of her voice, the busy man paused in his writing and glanced up hastily, asking, "What seems to be the difficulty?"

"This letter. I don't understand it. Mrs. Scofield writes a note of regrets because I found it impossible to be with them at the last missionary meeting, and closes by thanking me for my generous donation. Now, it happens that just before Christmas, I carefully went through all the closets of the house, sorted out and hunted up all the good, half-worn clothing that we could spare, and sent it to the Danbury Hospital for distribution among their poor families; so I simply had nothing of value to add to the barrels intended for the frontier ministers—"

"Why didn't you buy something?"

"I did; or, rather, I thought the poor preacher might find the money more acceptable than anything I could purchase, so I selected the family of Brother Bennet of Idaho, and sent him a check. I mailed it to him direct, not wanting to run the risk of the barrel being delayed or destroyed. I also neglected to inform the ladies of what I had done; so I am sure they know nothing about it, for it is yet too early to hear from Mr. Bennet himself."

"Maybe it is a case of a little bird's having told the story," laughed the doctor, taking up his pen to resume his writing, and his wife, still musing over the strange occurrence, went away to receive a caller who had just been announced.

An hour later she returned to the study looking more perplexed than when she had left him before, and the President banteringly asked, "Haven't you found out yet about that generous donation?"

"Yes, Donald. Mrs. Haynes has just told me the whole story. It was not my donation at all."

"Ah, the worthy ladies just got mixed in their thanks—"

"Not at all! It was Peace's work, and naturally they thought I had authorized it. That little rascal picked up about half her wardrobe, her Christmas doll, several games and story books, and goodness knows what all, and took them over to Mrs. Scofield's house to be packed in the missionary barrels. Not only that, she persuaded Allee to do the same with her treasures."

"The little sinner!" ejaculated the startled President. "Without saying a word to anyone about her intentions?"

"She never consulted me."

"Nor me. Well, we must just send her back after them, and make her understand she must ask us when she wants to dispose of her belongings."

"That is just the trouble. The barrels have already gone."

"You don't say so! The monkey! Send Peace to me when she comes in, Dora. We must curb these philanthropic tendencies in their infancy and direct them in the right channels. There is the making of a wonderful woman in that small body."

"With the right training."

"Yes. God grant that we may be able to give her the right training."

Peace came radiantly in response to the message, dancing lightly down the hall as a hummingbird might flutter along, and the mere sight of her merry face as it popped through the study doorway was like a sudden shaft of sunlight in the great room. The President had determined to meet her gravely, even sternly, and show her that her uncalled-for generosity had displeased them, but in spite of himself, his eyes softened as they rested upon the sweet, round face upturned for a kiss, and he gently drew her into his lap before telling her why he had sent for her.

"Why, yes, grandpa," she readily confessed. "I did give away some of my clothes and other things, and so did Allee, 'cause the children of the ministers on the frontier need them so much more than we do. Why, we're rich now and can have anything we want! You said so yourself, you know. We couldn't give the things we didn't want ourselves, grandpa, 'cause that wouldn't be a sacrilege; and the pretty lady who talked at the missionary meeting that day said it was the sacrileges we made in this world that put stars in our crowns in the next world."

"Sacrifice, dear, not sacrilege."

"Is it? Well, I knew it was some kind of a sack. I want lots of stars in my crown when I get to heaven. Just think how terrible you'd feel s'posing when St. Peter let you inside the Gates, he handed you just a plain, blank crown. Mercy! I know I'd bawl my eyes out even if it does say there aren't any tears in heaven. So I picked out the things I liked the very best of all I got on Christmas—that is, most of them were. I don't care much for dolls, so that wasn't any sacri-fice for me; but Allee likes them awfully much yet, and it was a big sacri-fice for her to let hers go. But I sent my dear, beautiful plaid dress that I thought was the prettiest of the bunch, though I let Allee keep the one she liked best, seeing she cried so hard about Queen Helen. She didn't seem to enjoy thinking about the big star she'll get in its place, so I told her I thought likely you or grandma would give her even a prettier doll for her birthday, which isn't very far off now. I sent the book which tells all about the way little children in other lands spend Christmas day, but it was pretty hard work to give that one up. I pulled it out of the heap three times, and fin'ly had to run like wild up to Mrs. Scofield's house with it, so's I wouldn't take it out and put it on the shelf to stay."

"But why did you take so many things?" asked the Doctor lamely.

"There are five children in the family we sent our stuff to, and three of them are girls. There are six girls in our family, and when we lived all alone in the little brown house with just ragged, faded dresses to wear and only plain things to eat, holidays and all, we'd have been tickled to death if someone had given us such pretty things all for our very own. Oh, wouldn't it have made you happy if you had been a little girl?"

The great, brown eyes shone with such a glorified light and the small, round face looked so blissfully happy that the Doctor's lecture was wholly forgotten, and for a long time he held the little form close in his arms while his mind went backward over the long years to the time when he was a homeless orphan and Hi Allen—Hi Greenfield—had shared his treasures with him. They made a beautiful picture sitting there in the gathering dusk, the white head bending low over the riotous brown curls, the strong hands intertwined with the supple, childish fingers; and so completely had she captured the great heart of the man that when at length he set her on the floor and sent her away with a kiss, he spoke no chiding word. And Peace skipped off well content with the results of her first missionary efforts.

A few days later she danced into the house one afternoon from school, wet from head to foot with a damp, clinging snow which was falling, and at sight of her, Mrs. Campbell threw up her hands and exclaimed, "Peace, my child, what have you been doing?"

"Ted and Evelyn Smiley and Allee and me and some others had a snow-ball battle."

"That is expressly forbidden by the school board—" began the gentle little grandmother reprovingly.

"Oh, we didn't battle with the school board, grandma! We waited until we reached Evelyn's house and had it in their back yard. The snow is just right for dandy balls."

"I should think as much. Come here!"

Peace obeyed, glancing hastily at her feet as she guiltily remembered a certain pair of new shoes which she was wearing and saw the sharp, black eyes fixed searchingly upon them.

"Peace Greenfield, what have you on your feet?"


"Your new strapped shoes—slippers—for summer wear?"

Peace nodded.

"After I told you not to wear them until warmer weather!"

"You didn't say that, grandma," Peace expostulated. "You said as long as I had any others, you guessed I had better put these away for party wear until it got warmer."

As a rule, Peace's excuses rather amused the mistress of the house, but this time she looked sternly at the little culprit, and briefly commanded, "Go to your room and put on your other shoes immediately."

"I haven't got any others."

"No others? What do you mean?"

"I—I—gave mine all away."

"To whom did you give them?" asked the President, who had entered the room unnoticed.

"To a little girl I met on the hill yesterday. Her toes were sticking through hers and she looked dreadfully cold, and kept stamping her feet to keep them from freezing."

The President swallowed a lump in his throat.

"She did not need two pair to keep her feet warm, did she?"

"She was twins."


Peace jumped. "Well, she said she had a sister just her same age at home, who hadn't any shoes at all."

He took her by the hand, led her to her room, and after seeing that the wet shoes and stockings were replaced with dry ones, he lectured her kindly about giving away her belongings in such a promiscuous manner without first consulting her elders. And having won her promise for future good behavior, he went down town to purchase new shoes for the shoeless culprit, satisfied that Peace would remember his words of caution, and that they should not again be disturbed by the too generous acts of this zealous little home missionary.

And Peace did remember for a long time, but one day when the two younger children had been left alone with the servants, temptation again invaded this little Garden of Eden, and the brown-haired Eve yielded.

It was late in the afternoon and Peace and Allee were standing by the window watching the sinking sun, when a ragged, stooped, old man trailed down the quiet street with a battered, wheezy, old hand-organ strapped to his back and a wizened, wistful-eyed, peaked-faced child at his heels. Seeing the two bright faces in the window and concluding that money was plentiful in that home, the vagabond slipped the organ from its supports, and began grinding out a discordant tune from the protesting instrument, sending the ragged, weary, little girl to the door with her tin cup for contributions.

Peace saw her approaching, and opened the door before she had a chance to ring the bell, surprising the tiny ragamuffin so completely that she could only stand and mutely hold out her appealing dipper, having forgotten entirely the words she had been taught to speak on such occasions.

"You're cold," said Peace, a great pity surging through her breast as she saw the swollen, purple hands trying to hide under ragged sleeves of a pitifully thin coat.

"Ver' col'," repeated the beggar, finding her tongue.

"And hungry?"

"Not'ing to eat today."

Peace made a sudden dive at the dirty, unkempt creature, jerked her into the warm hall, and calling over her shoulder to the organ-grinder on the walk, "Go on playing, old man, she'll be back pretty soon!" she slammed the door shut, pushed the child into a chair by the glowing grate, and turned to Allee with the command, "Go ask Gussie for something to eat. Tell her a lunch in a bag will do. She's always good to beggars."

"No beggar," remonstrated the little foreigner. "Earn money. Some days much. Little this day. It so col'."

"Is that all the coat you have?" Peace demanded, eyeing the scant attire with horrified eyes.

"All," answered the child simply, and she sighed heavily.

"I've got two. You can have one of mine," cried Peace, forgetting wisdom, discretion, everything, in her great pity for this hapless bit of humanity.

"You mean it? No, you fool," was the disconcerting reply.

"I'm not a fool!"

"No, no, not a fool. You jus' fool,—joke. You no mean it."

"I do, too! Wait a minute till I get it, and see if it fits. You're thinner'n me, but you're about as tall."

She rushed eagerly up the stairway, and soon returned with the pretty, brown coat which she had found on her bed Christmas morning. Into this she bundled the surprised beggar child, pleased to think it fitted so well, and explained rapidly, "I got two new coats for Christmas. Grandma said the red one was for best, so I kept that one, but you can have this. Keep it on outside your old rag. It will be just that much warmer, and tonight is awfully cold. Here's a pair of mittens, too. Wear 'em; they're nice and warm."

Thrusting Allee's bag of lunch into the blue-mittened hands, Peace opened the door and let the newly-cloaked figure run down the walk to the impatient man stamping back and forth in the street. They watched him minutely examining the child's new treasures, but they could not see the avaricious gleam in his ugly eyes, nor did they dream that the precious brown coat would be stripped off the shivering little form just as soon as they were out of sight around the corner, and bartered for whiskey at the nearest saloon.

So happy was Peace in thinking of this other child's happiness that she never once thought of her promise made to her grandfather until she saw Jud drive up the avenue and help the rest of the family out of the big sleigh. At sight of the erect figure striding up the walk with the gentle little grandmother on one arm and sister Gail on the other, she suddenly remembered that he had told her when she gave away her shoes that she must ask permission before disposing of her belongings, or he should be compelled to use drastic measures. "Brass-stick" measures, she called it, and visions of a certain brass rule on the desk in the library rose before her in a most disquieting fashion as she recalled that impressive interview.

"Don't tell him what you have done," whispered a little evil voice in her ear.

"Tell him at once," commanded her conscience; and acting upon the impulse of the moment, she flew into the old gentleman's arms almost before he had crossed the threshold and panted out, "I 'xpect you'll be compendled to use your brass-stick measures on me this time sure. I guv away my coat!"

"You did what?" he cried, pushing her from him that he might look into her face.

"Gave, I mean. I gave away my brown coat."


The sorrowful tone of his voice cut her to the heart, but she flew to her own defense with oddly distorted words, "I couldn't help it, grandpa! She was so ragged and cold. S'posing you had to go around begging hand-organs for a squeaky old penny, without anything to eat on your back or vittles to wear. Wouldn't you like to have someone with two coats give you one?"

"Very likely I should, my child. I am not blaming you for the unselfish feeling which prompted you to give away your coat to one more unfortunate than yourself, but you are not yet old enough to know how to give wisely. You will do more harm than good by such giving. No doubt your little brown coat is in the pawn-shop by this time."

"But grandpa, she was in rags!"

"Yes, and that is the way that brute of a man will keep her. Do you suppose he would get any money for his playing if he sent around a well-dressed child to collect the pennies? No, indeed! That is why he makes her wear rags. He will sell or pawn your coat for liquor, and neither you nor the beggar child will have it to wear."

"But I have my red one."

"You can't wear that to school."

"Why not?"

"It is not suitable."

"Then you'll get me another."

"No, Peace."

"You won't?" Her grieved surprise almost unmanned him.


"But you've got plenty of money!"

"I will not have it long if you are going to give it all away."

"You bought me some more shoes."


"That took money."


"I—I thought you'd give us anything we wanted."

"I have tried to, dear."

"But I shall want another coat."

He shook his head. "You deliberately gave away the one you had without asking permission. I can't supply you with new clothes continually if that is what you intend to do with them."

"Then how will I go to school any more?"

"You must wear the coat you had when you came here to live."

"So you hung onto that old gray Parker coat, did you?" she said bitterly.

"Yes, and now you will have to wear it until spring comes."

She was silent a moment, then shrugged her shoulders and airily retorted, "I s'pose you know! But, anyway, it was worth giving the new coat away just to see how glad the Dago was to get it."

It was the President's turn to look surprised, and for an instant he was at a loss to know what to say; then he took her hand and led her away to the study, with the grave command, "Come, Peace, I think we will have to see this out by ourselves."

She caught her breath sharply, but never having questioned his authority since the days of the little brown house were over, she obediently followed him into the dim library and heard the door click behind them. As the gas flared up when he touched a match to the jet, she looked apprehensively about the room, and shuddered as she saw the brass ruler lying on top of a pile of papers on the desk. He even picked it up and toyed with it for a moment, and she thought her hour of reckoning had surely come. And it had, but not in the way she expected.

Dropping the ruler at length, he abruptly ordered, "Sit down in my lap, Peace."

Usually he lifted her to that throne of honor himself, but this time he made no effort to help her, and when she was seated with her face lifted expectantly toward his, he disengaged the warm arms from about his neck and turned her around on his knee until she was looking at the desk straight in front of them. Then he picked up a book and began reading silently.

Peace was plainly puzzled, for each time she turned her head to look at him, he gently but firmly wheeled her about and went on reading. At last she could be patient no longer, and with an angry little hop, she demanded, "What's the fuss about, grandpa? What are you going to do?"

Without looking up from his book he laid one finger on his lips and remained silent.

"Can't I talk?"

It was a terrible punishment for Peace to keep still, and knowing this, just the faintest glimmer of a smile twitched at his lips, but he merely nodded gravely.

"Aren't you going to say anything?"

Gravely he shook his head.

Peace stared at the chandelier, then surreptitiously stole a peep at the face behind her. A big hand turned the curly head gently from him.

She studied the green walls with their delicate frescoing, then cautiously leaned back against the President's broadcloth vest. Firmly he righted her. Dismay took possession of her. This was the worst punishment that ever had befallen her,—that ever could.

She gulped down the big lump which was growing in her throat, and counted the books on the highest shelf around the wall. Fifty—sixty—seventy—her heart burst, and with a wail of anguish she kicked the book out of the President's hand and clutched him about the neck with a grip that nearly choked him, as she sobbed, "Oh, grandpa, I'll never, never, never forget again! I'll be the most un-missionary person you ever knew,—yes, I'll be a reg'lar heathen if you'll just speak to me! I didn't think I was being bad in trying to help others—"

"My precious darling! I don't want you to be a heathen," he cried, straining her to his heart. "I want you to be the best and most enthusiastic little missionary it is possible for you to be, but in order to be a good missionary, one must first learn obedience, and cultivate good judgment. I wouldn't for all the world have my little girl grow up a stingy, miserly woman. I am proud of the sweet, generous, unselfish spirit which prompts you to try to make the burdens of others lighter, but you are too little a girl yet to know how and where to give money and clothes and such things so they will do good and not harm."

"I see now what you mean, grandpa. I thought when I gave my coat to the little hand-organ beggar that she would keep it and use it. I never s'posed her father wouldn't let her have it, and now when he takes it away from her she will be sorrier'n she would have been if she had never had it."

"Yes, dear; and the money the old fellow gets from selling it will undoubtedly be spent for drink, or something equally as bad for him. Just out of curiosity, I traced the shoes you gave to the child on the hill not long ago, and I found that she had not told you the truth at all. She had no twin sister, nor did she even need the shoes herself."

"Is—is—there no one that really is hungry and cold and needs things?" gulped the unhappy child after a long pause of serious thought.

"Oh, yes, my dear! Thousands and thousands of them," he sighed sorrowfully; "and I am deeply thankful that my little girlie wants to make the old world happier. But after all, dear, the greatest need of this world of ours is love. It is not the money we give away which counts; it is the love we have for other people. I remember well a little couplet your great-grandmother was fond of quoting—and she practiced it every day of her life, too,—

'Give, if thou canst, an alms; if not, afford
Instead of that, a sweet and gentle word.'

"She had little of this world's goods to give away, but she was one of the greatest sunshine missionaries I ever knew. My, how every one loved her. And her son, Hi, was just like her—one of the biggest-hearted, most lovable people God ever created. He was certainly a power for good during his life, but his only riches were a great love for his fellowmen and his warm, sunny smile."

Again a deep silence fell over the room, for Peace, cuddled in the strong man's arms, with the tears still glistening on the long, curved lashes, was thinking as she had never thought before. Suddenly the dinner bell pealed out its summons, and as the President stirred in his chair, the child lifted her head from his shoulder, and looking squarely into the strong, kindly face, she said simply, "I'm going to be like them and you, so's folks will love me, too. And I'm not going to give away any more coats or shoes without you say I can, until I am big enough to grow some sense. I'm just going to smile and talk."

He did not laugh at her quaint phrasing of her intentions, but tightening his clasp upon the small body nestling within the circle of his arms, he quoted,

"'Work a little, sing a little,
Whistle and be gay;
Read a little, play a little,
Busy every day.
Talk a little, laugh a little,
Don't forget to pray;
Be a bit of merry sunshine
All the blessed way.'"



Having a naturally light-hearted, merry disposition, Peace did not find it hard work to "smile and talk," but it was hard, very hard, to restrain her generous impulses to give away everything she possessed to those less fortunate than herself, and it soon became a familiar sight to see her fly excitedly into the house straight to the study where the busy President spent many hours each day, exclaiming breathlessly as she ran, "Oh, grandpa, there is a little beggar at the door in perfect rags and tatters! Just come and look if she doesn't need some clothes. And she is so cold and pinched up with being empty. Gussie has fed her, but can't I give her some things to wear? I've more than I need, truly!"

Then the good man with a patient sigh would leave his work to investigate the case, spending many minutes of his precious time in satisfying himself as to whether or not Peace's newly found beggar was genuine and really in need of relief,—for this small maid's thirst for discovering vagabonds seemed insatiable, and the string of tramps which haunted the President's doorstep led poor Gussie a strenuous life for a time. But relief came from an unexpected source at length.

Late one dull spring afternoon, as Gail sat with her chum, Frances Sherrar, in the cosy window-seat of the reception-hall, studying the next day's Latin lesson, a shadow fell across the page. Looking up in surprise, for neither girl had heard the sound of approaching footsteps, they beheld on the piazza the bent, shriveled, ragged form of what appeared to be a tiny, deformed, old woman. An ancient, faded shawl, patched and darned until it had almost lost its identity, enveloped her from head to foot, and she looked more like an Indian squaw than like a civilized white being. Her head and hands shook ceaselessly as with the palsy, and the way she tottered about made one fearful every minute last she fall.

"Oh," cried Gail in quick sympathy, "what a feeble old creature! It is a shame she has to beg her living. Where is my purse?"

"Are you going to give her money?" asked Frances in surprise.

"Doesn't she look as if she needed it?"

"She is a fake. I've seen her ever since I can remember—always just like this. She wouldn't dare beg in town, but we are so far out—well, if you are really determined to do it, here's a quarter."

Gail took the proffered coin, added a shining dollar to it, and stepping to the door where the palsied beggar stood mumbling and whining a pitiful hard luck tale, she pressed the silver into the leathery, claw-like hand, smiled a sympathetic smile and bade the old woman a God-speed.

Frances stayed for dinner that evening, and as the family gathered around the table for this, the merriest hour of the whole day, the President suddenly clapped his hand against his pockets, searched rapidly through them, and finally brought forth a crumpled sheet of paper, daubed with many ink blots and tipsy hieroglyphics, which read, "No more beggars, tramps and vagabuns allowed on these promises. We have already given away enuf to keep a army. There are two dogs and two men in this family—so bewair!"

Even the presence of Peace, the author, did not prevent an explosion of delighted shrieks from the little company, but the child merely fixed her brown eyes, somber with reproof, upon the perfectly grave face of the Doctor of Laws, and demanded, "Now, grandpa, what made you take it down?"

"I didn't, child," he defended. "It had blown down, I think, and lodged about the door-knob. I thought it was a hand-bill, and rescued it as I came in."

"Where had you put it?" asked Cherry, grinning superciliously at the distorted characters on the soiled paper.

"On the side of the house by the front door," she confessed. "That's where I put that one."

"That one! Are there more?" laughed Frances, whose affection for this original bit of femininity had only increased with the months of their acquaintance.

"Of course! There had to be one for each door, 'cause the beggars don't all go the back way, and to be sure everyone saw the tag, I stuck one on the corner of the barn nearest the road, and another on each gate. That surely ought' to be enough, oughtn't it?"

"I should think so," Mrs. Campbell agreed, making a wry face at thought of the queer-looking signs scattered so liberally about the property "How did you come to make them?"

"'Cause of that beggar at the front door this afternoon," Allee volunteered unexpectedly.

"What beggar?" asked the President with interest, while Gail and Frances exchanged knowing glances.

"A teenty, crooked, old woman came to the house while grandma was out this afternoon," Peace began. "She looked as if she might be a witch or old Grandmother, Tipsy-toe—I never did like that game—"

"We thought she was a witch," again Allee spoke up, unmindful of the frown on her older sister's face; "and we hid."

"But we watched her," Peace continued hastily, "and saw Gail give her some money. She did look awful forlorny and squizzled up as if she never had enough to eat to make any meat on her bones, and she nearly tumbled over, trying to kiss Gail's hand 'cause she gave her some money. So after she was gone, we ran down to the gate to watch her, and what do you think? Just as she turned the corner, there was a cop—"

"A what, Peace?"

"I mean a p'liceman, coming along with his club swinging around his hand, and when the beggar woman saw him, she straightened up as stiff and starchy as anybody could be, and hustled off down the street 'most as quick as I can walk. She was a—a fraud, and Gail got cheated just like I did when I gave that hole-y shoed girl on the hill my shoes." Here Frances shot a look of triumph at discomfited Gail. "So I made up my mind that grandpa is right—they are all frauds."

"Why, Peace, child, I never said that in the world," the President disclaimed, surprised out of his usual serenity by her words.

"That's so,—you said only half were frauds. Well, I guess it's the fraud half that come here to beg of us. Gussie is tired of feeding them, Jud's getting ugly, and if they keep on coming I'm 'fraid they'll really eat grandpa out of house and home. Jud says they will. There were seven tramps last week, and already we have had two this week, and one beggar. So I made these signs and stuck them up where everybody'd see them and know they meant business, w'thout Jud's having to turn the dogs loose or get his shotgun like he said he ought to. He told me that all hoboes have some way of letting other hoboes know where they can get a square meal, and that's why we have so many. He says they never used to bother so until I came here to tow them along by coaxing Gussie to feed 'em. I thought I was being good to 'em. S'posing we had sent grandpa away when he came tramping around to our house in Parker—Faith wanted to—where would we be now? Still grubbing in Parker trying to get enough to eat, 'most likely; or maybe in the poorhouse, for 'twas grandpa who paid the mortgage on the farm. I guess I must wait till I'm grown way up to have any missionary sense."

She spoke so dejectedly and her face looked so pathetic and utterly discouraged that no one had the heart to laugh, but a sudden feeling of restraint fell upon the group. Even the President had no words in which to answer the poor, disheartened little missionary.

"Do you belong to Miss Smiley's Gleaners?" It was Frances who spoke, and though the words themselves signified little, her tone of voice was like an electric thrill, and the faces of the whole company turned expectantly toward her as she waited for Peace's answer.

"No, not yet. Evelyn has been after us ever since we came here to join them, but something has always kept us away from the meetings each month, so we haven't been 'lected yet. Evelyn says they don't do much but have a good time, anyway, though it is a missionary society. That's about all our Sunshine Club in Parker ever did, too, 'xcept make comfort powders for the sick and mained in the hospital."

"Evelyn is right about what the Gleaners used to be, but since her aunt has taken up the work, they are doing lots of real missionary work. Why, since Christmas they have raised enough money to take care of two orphans in India for a year. Edith Smiley is such a beautiful girl—"

"Ain't she, though!" Peace burst out with customary impetuosity. "I've wanted her for my Sunday School teacher ever since we began to go to South Avenue Church, but she's got a class of boys."

"And don't they adore her!"

"No more'n I would."

"It is easier to get teachers for girls' classes; and besides, Miss Edith has had these boys from the time she started to teach. She certainly has her hands full with her Sunday School class, the Gleaners Missionary Band and the Young People's Society, for she is our president this term. There is no lag about her. She is always planning something beautiful for somebody. Everyone loves her. When Victor was in the hospital the time he was hurt by the runaway, Miss Edith took him flowers several times; and the nurse told us that she visits the children's ward twice a month regularly and takes them fruit or flowers or scrap-books or something nice. They always know when to expect her, and she never disappoints them."

"She certainly knows how to make sunshine for those around her," said Mrs. Campbell warmly. "I am so pleased to think she could take charge of the Gleaners. We ladies were really afraid the society must die. Miss Hilliker had neither strength, time nor talent to do justice to the work; but, poor soul, she did try so hard, and she did give the children a good time, whether or not they ever accomplished anything else."

"I am glad Miss Smiley has taken the Gleaners, too," said Peace meditatively. "Me and Allee 'xpect to join at next meeting. I guess maybe Cherry and Hope will, too, though I haven't asked them yet."

"I think you have headed them in the right direction, Frances," whispered the President in grateful tones, when at last the dinner was ended and the chattering group were filing out of the dining-room. "I was beginning to wonder what in the world to do with our little Peace, but I think perhaps Miss Smiley will help solve the problem for us."

"I know she will," Frances replied confidently. "I can understand how discouraged poor Peace must feel. I've been there myself, only instead of giving away my own things as she does, I gave away other people's belongings. I can never forget the seance I had with mother the day I handed over father's best, go-to-meeting overcoat to a dirty, evil-looking tramp, and gave away Victor's velocipede to the ash-man's little boy. I came to the conclusion that the whole world was just a sham and all men—yes, and women—were liars. Mrs. Smiley came to my rescue, and what missionary spirit there is left in me is due to her good work and untiring efforts. Edith is a second edition of her mother."

"And I think Frances must be second cousin at heart," said the Doctor, gently pressing her hand.

"I don't deserve such praise," she protested, blushing with pleasure at his compliment. "I have only tried to make the most of the best in me, remembering the little verse we had for a motto:

'No robin but may thrill some heart,
His dawnlight gladness voicing.
God gives us all some small sweet way
To set the world rejoicing.'

"We were only children when we took that as our class motto, but we have kept it all these years, and I know there is not one of the girls who considers it childish sentiment even yet."

"That is why I am particularly thankful for your words at the table tonight. I want my girls to meet and mingle with and be influenced by such people as Miss Edith and her mother—and Miss Frances!"

"I shall work hard to keep the reputation you have given me," she laughed gayly, flitting away to join Gail in the Grove, as the pink and green and brown room was called; but she was secretly much touched and helped by the President's words, and rejoiced openly when a few days later the four younger Greenfield girls really did join the Gleaners Missionary Band and became active workers in that field.

"It is kind of a queer missionary society," Peace reported after one of the meetings. "Sometimes we don't say hardly a word about heathen or poor ministers on the frontier all the time we are at the church. We talk about how we can help each other and our families and folks who live close by us. Miss Edith says first and foremost a good missionary must be cheerful and sunshiny. Our motto is "Scatter Sunshine," and our song is the prettiest music I ever heard. She says it isn't the music that counts, it's the words, but just s'posing we sang:

'In a world where sorrow
Ever will be known,
Where are found the needy,
And the sad and lone;
How much joy and comfort
You can all bestow,
If you scatter sunshine
Everywhere you go.'

to the tune of 'Go tell Aunt Rhody,' it wouldn't cheer me up very much. "Would it you?"

"No," laughed Mrs. Campbell, who chanced to be her confidante on this particular occasion, "I don't think it would; but on the other hand, meaningless words would not cheer anyone, either, no matter how pretty the tune. Is that not so?"

"Yes, I s'pose it is. I guess it takes both together to do the work. This week our verse is:

'Can I help another
By some word or deed?
Can I scatter blessings
O'er a soul's sore need?
If I can, then let me
Now, within today,
Help the one who needs me
On a little way.'

"The next time we tell if we remembered the verse and worked it."

"Worked it?" Mrs. Campbell was not yet accustomed to Peace's queer speeches, and often did not understand her meaning.

"Yes. Miss Edith says just helping Gussie carry the dishes away nights, or buttoning Marie's dress when she is cross and in a hurry, or getting grandpa's slippers ready for him when he comes home from the University all cold and tired, or holding that squirmy yarn for you when you knit those ugly shawls, or talking nice to Jud when he makes me mad, is being a missionary. She says it is the little, everyday things that count; for some of us may never get a chance to do anything real big and splendid, and if we wait all our lives for such a time to come along, we will be just wasting our talents. But all of us have hundreds of little things each day to do, and if we do them cheerfully and sweetly, we are being sunshine missionaries and are making others happier all the time. She says Abr'am Lincoln's greatest wish was to have it said of him when he died that he had always tried to pull up a thistle and plant a flower wherever he got a chance. Thistles mean hard feelings and mean acts, and the flowers are kind words and deeds."

"Miss Edith has found the key to true happiness," murmured Mrs. Campbell, glancing out of the window at a tall, slender, gray-eyed young lady hurrying down the street, surrounded by a bevy of bright-faced, adoring boys and girls.

"Yes, she's another Saint Elspeth, isn't she? How nice it is to have her here as long as I can't have my dear Mrs. Strong! And do you know, grandma, she and Mrs. Strong were chums when they went to college? Isn't that queer?"

"How did you happen to find that out?"

"'Cause on my list of missionary doings this week I had 'not getting mad when Gray chawed up St. Elspeth's letter 'fore I had read it more'n three times.' And she asked me who Saint Elspeth was."

"Do you make out a list of missionary doings each week?" asked Mrs. Campbell, amused at Peace's version of the occurrence, for the child had been so angry at the destruction of the letter from this beloved friend that she had seized a heavy club and rushed at the cowering pup as if bent on crushing its skull. Before the blow descended, however, she dropped her weapon, bounced into a nearby chair, and glared wrathfully at poor Gray until he shrank from her almost as if she had struck him. Then suddenly the anger died from her eyes, and clutching the surprised animal about the neck she fell to petting him energetically, exclaiming in pitying tones, "Poor Gray, I don't s'pose you know how near I came to knocking your head off any more'n you know how much I wanted that letter you've just swallowed, but I'm sorry just the same. Shake hands and be friends!"

Peace, not understanding the smile that crept over the gentle face of the dear old lady, hastened to explain, "We write them so's folks won't laugh. We don't mean to laugh at each other, but sometimes children do say the funniest things. There is Bernice Platte for one. She can't say anything the way she wants to, and it makes her feel bad when we giggle. So Miss Edith took to having us write our lists. I don't care how much they laugh at me, I get so much of that at home that I am used to it, but some folks ain't brought up that way and I s'pose it hurts."

Mrs. Campbell caught her breath sharply. It had never occurred to her before that Peace was sensitive, but the gusty sigh with which these words were spoken told her companion much, and slipping her arm about the little figure crouched at her side, the woman said gently, "Would you mind telling grandma some of the bits of sunshine you have been scattering this week?"

The wistful round face brightened quickly. "Would you care to hear?"

"I should love to, dearie."

"I didn't make much sunshine, I guess, 'nless 'twas here at home where folks know me, but I tried. You know Hope has been taking flowers to one of her teachers at High School, and the other day Miss Pope told her that she gave them all to her brother who is lame and can't walk, and he spends all his days drawing and painting the pretty things he sees. Well, there is a teacher in our school who looks awful turned-down at the mouth, and kind of sour like, and last week Minnie Herbert told me that it was 'cause the woman had lost her brother in a wreck. So I thought maybe she'd like some flowers, and I took her some. I didn't know her name, but she was sitting in the hall to keep order during recess time, and I carried the bouquet right up to her and laid them in her lap. I 'xpected to see her smile, but instead, she picked them up and looked kind of red as she asked me what made me bring them to her. I meant to tell her I was sorry she looked so lonely and sad, but what I really said was 'homely and bad.' I don't see why it is I always twist things up so, but that made her mad and I couldn't explain it so's she would take the flowers again, and I had to give them to one of the girls whose mother has delirious tremors."

"Oh, Peace, you have made a mistake."

"What is it, then?"

"I presume the poor woman is delirious with a fever of some sort."

"Tryfoid," supplied Peace. "Stella told teacher so. That same day on my way home from school I saw a little girl lugging a heavy pail, and the handle kept cutting her hands, so she had to set it down every few steps and change to the other side. When I asked her to let me help, she gave me hold, and we carried the bucket down the alley to a chicken-coop, where it had to be dumped, 'cause it was slops for the hens. There was a big box there to stand on, and I lifted the pail to the top of the fence and emptied it, but the woman which owns the chickens was right under where the stuff fell, and she didn't like it a bit, and scolded us both good.

"Then there was Birdie Holden who wanted a bite of my apple, and when I turned it around to give her a good chance at it, she bit straight into a worm, and said I did it on purpose, though I never knew the worm was there any more'n she did.

"But the worst of all was the day teacher sent me to the office for thumb tacks to fasten up our drawings around the room. She told me to see how quick I could get back, but she never counted on the principal's not being there, which she wasn't. So I had to wait. Then all at once I saw a big sign on the wall which said if Miss Lisk wasn't in and folks were in a hurry, to ring the bell twice.

"I was in a big hurry for I had waited so long already that I thought sure Miss Allen would be after me in a minute to see if I was making the tacks; so I grabbed the cord and jerked the bell hard twice, and then twice again, and then twice the third time. I 'xpected she'd come a-running at that, but what do you think, grandma? Everyone in that schoolhouse just got up and hustled out of doors as fast as they could march. We never used to have fire drill in Parker and I hadn't heard of such a thing here, either, so I was dreadfully s'prised to find what my gong-ringing had done. Maybe Miss Lisk wasn't mad for a minute, when she saw me hanging out of the window yelling to know what was the matter, 'cause I was in a hurry for my thumb-tacks! But afterwards she laughed like anything and said the children made record time in getting out, 'cause no one, not even she herself, knew whether it was just a fire drill or whether the janitor had rung the gong on account of the school's really being burned up."

No one could blame the good dame for smiling at the vivid pictures Peace had painted of her missionary efforts, but Mrs. Campbell knew how sore the little heart must be over these seeming failures, so she pressed the nestling head closer to her shoulder and said comfortingly, "But think of all the smiles you have won from the washerwoman. When I paid her last night, she showed me the big bunch of flowers you had cut from your hyacinths and lilies in the conservatory, and told me how eagerly her poor, sick little girl watched for her home-coming the days she washed here, knowing that you would never forget to send her something. And Jud was telling your grandpa only this morning how the ash-man's horse always whinnies when the team stops in the alley, because you never fail to be there with a lump of sugar or a handful of oats. Mrs. Dodds says it is a real pleasure to make dresses for you, just to hear you praise her work. I was in the kitchen this morning when the grocer brought our order, and after he was gone, Gussie showed me a sack of candy he had slipped in for you, because you are so kind to his little girl at school. I don't need Jud's words to tell me how the horses and other animals on the place love you. And why? Because you love them and never hurt them."

"But, grandma," interrupted Peace, her eyes wide with amazement at this recital; "you don't call those things scattering sunshine, do you?"

"What would you call it, dear?"

"But—but—I didn't do those things on purpose, grandma. They—they just did themselves. I like to see Mrs. O'Flaherty's eyes shine and hear her say, 'May the saints in Hivin bliss ye, darlint,' when I give her anything for Maggie; and the ash-man's horse doesn't get enough to eat—really, it is 'most starved, I guess; and Mrs. Dodds does look so tickled when I say anything she makes is pretty. They are pretty, too. And the grocer's little girl is so scared if anyone speaks to her that a lot of the bigger girls got to teasing her dreadfully and I couldn't help lighting into them and telling them they ought to be ashamed of themselves; and—"

"That is what I call scattering sunshine, dear. It is these little acts of ours which count, these acts done unconsciously, without any thought of others seeing, done simply because our hearts are so full of love and sympathy that they bubble over without our knowing it, and others are made happy because of our unselfishness."

"I guess you're right," said Peace thoughtfully; "'cause when folks are watching and I want to be 'specially sweet and nice and helpful, I just make a dreadful bungle of it, and everyone laughs. It's the things we do without thinking that make folks happiest. That is what Saint Elspeth used to tell me. Some way I could understand her better than Miss Edith, I guess; but maybe it was 'cause I knew her better. When do you s'pose we can go to see her, grandma? Saint Elspeth, I mean. It has been such a long time since—"

"She wants you next week, you and Allee."

It was the President who spoke, and with a startled cry, Peace leaped up to find him in the doorway behind them. "Why, Grandpa Campbell, how did you sneak in here so softly? I never heard you at all, you came so catty. Did you hear what we were talking about?"

"Not much of it. I arrived just in time to catch your remarks about Mrs. Strong, and as I happen to have a note in my pocket this minute from your Saint John, I spoke right out without thinking. I was intending to make you and grandma jump a little."

"You made me jump a lot," she retorted, throwing her arms about him and giving him a rapturous hug. "Did you really mean that Mrs. Strong wants me next week? That is our spring vacation here in Martindale."

"Yes, so the letter said. You see, the Strongs are living in Martindale now, too."

"Grandpa! You're fooling!"

"Not this time. I have known for a whole month that there was some prospect of their coming to the city, but I waited until I was sure before saying anything, because I knew you girls would be disappointed if they did not get the place."

"What place? How did it happen? What will Parker do without him? Will he live near us? Can we see them often? Where did you get the note?"

"One question at a time, please," he cried laughingly. "Mr. Strong dropped in at the University a minute this afternoon. He has been called to fill the vacancy at Hill Street Church, and has accepted, but as his pastorate is about three miles from this part of the city, he will not live very close to us. However, it will be possible for you to see each other more frequently than if they had remained at Parker. They moved yesterday into the new parsonage, and Mrs. Strong wants to borrow our two youngest next week to help her with the baby while they are getting settled. Do you want to go?"

"Oh, I can hardly wait! Can we really stay the whole week?"

"You ungrateful little vagabond!" he thundered in pretended anger. "You want to leave your old grandpa for a whole week, do you?"

"Yes," she giggled. "A change would do us both good. Besides, we live with you all the time, and I don't get a chance to see Saint Elspeth and Glen very often—but I'd lots rather have my home with you, though I do like to go visiting once in a while, same as you do."

"Teaser! Well, if grandma thinks it wise, you and Allee may go next week to visit your patron saints—What is the matter, Dora? Doesn't the plan please you?"

For grandma looked unusually grave and thoughtful, but at his question she merely answered, "Peace may accept if she wishes, but unless Allee's cold is much better by Monday, I don't think it best for her to go. I kept her home from school today."

For a moment the brown-haired child stood silent and hesitating on one foot in the middle of the floor. It would be hard to be separated from this golden-haired sister for a whole week, but—it had been such a long time since she had seen these other precious friends; and anyway, Elspeth needed someone to help her. Besides, Allee might be well enough to go by Monday, or perhaps she could come later in the week. It would be wisest to accept the invitation at once, so with a little hop of decision, she announced serenely, "Tell Saint John I'll come, and prob'ly Allee will, too. Her colds don't usu'ly last long, and she'll be all right by Monday."



Allee's cold was no better Monday morning, but it was decided that Peace should go alone to the new parsonage on Hill Street, with the promise that if possible the younger child should join her before the week's visit was ended. So Peace departed. But it was with a heavy heart that she went, for, much as she wanted to see her former pastor's family, she dreaded being separated from this dearest of sisters even for seven days; nor could she shake off the vague feeling of unrest which had gripped her when she saw the sick, sorrowful look in Allee's great blue eyes as they said good-bye.

"Get well quick, dear," she whispered tenderly, holding the tiny, hot hand against her cheek after a quaint fashion they had of saying good-night to each other. "I can't have a good time even with Saint Elspeth and Glen if you are at home sick. Take your med'cine like a good girl, and about Wednesday I 'xpect Saint John will be coming after you if grandpa hasn't brought you before."

And Allee had promised to do her best, but Peace could not forget her last glimpse of the wistful, flushed face, pressed against the window-pane to watch her out of sight around the corner. And so sober was she that Jud, who was driving her to the dovecote on the hill, looked around inquiringly more than once, and finally ventured to ask, "Have you caught cold, too?"

"No, indeed!" she flung back at him. "I'm never sick. Why?"

"Your eyes look pretty red."

His ruse was effective, for in trying to see herself in a tiny scrap of a mirror which she carried in her satchel, she forgot her desire to cry, and looked as gay and chipper as usual when the carriage drew up at the parsonage curbing and Mr. Strong bounded boyishly down the walk to meet her, holding his beautiful year-old boy on one arm, and dragging the sweet girl wife by the other.

"Oh, but it's good to see you again!" cried Peace, vaulting over the wheels to the ground before either Jud or the minister could lift her down. "It doesn't seem 'sif you'd really moved to Martindale to live. How did it happen? Grandpa couldn't make me understand about bishops and preachers and congregations, but I'm glad you've come. Did you have a hard time getting out of Parker and was there a farewell reception? Ain't it too bad Faith wasn't there to make you another cake? Mercy! How the baby has grown! Why, I b'lieve he knows me. He wants to come. Oh, he ain't too heavy and I won't break his precious neck, will I, Glen? How do you like my new dress and did you get my hand-satchel 'fore Jud drove off? I forgot all about it the minute I saw the baby. Grandpa was going to bring me, but the faculty had to plan a meeting for this morning, of course, and grandma couldn't come on account of Allee's cold. What a cute little house you've got! It looks wholer than the Parker parsonage. I'm just dying to see all the little cubby-holes and closets. How many rooms are there?"

"It is the same old Peace, Elizabeth," laughed Mr. Strong, rescuing his boy and leading the way to the house. "Prosperity has not changed her a whit. She has hundreds of questions stored up under that curly wig waiting to be asked. I can see them sticking out all over her. My dear, you are here for a week's visit. Don't choke yourself trying to ask everything in one breath, but 'walk into our parlor' and we will show you all we have, and let you rummage to your heart's content."

So they initiated her into the mysteries of the new parsonage with its pretty, cheerful rooms, unexpected cosy corners, tiny kitchen and cunning little cupboard, and for a week she fairly revelled in the playhouse, as she immediately named the spandy new cottage, amusing the baby, who promptly attached himself to her with the devotion of a lap-dog, dusting furniture, washing dishes, and causing her usual commotion trying to help where her presence was only a hindrance. But they enjoyed it! Oh, dear, yes! Her quaint speeches were a constant delight to them, and the sight of her somber brown eyes, so at odds with her merry disposition, and the sound of her gay whistle or rippling little giggle were like the breath of spring to these homesick hearts.

So the days slipped happily by in the dovecote on the hill, in spite of Peace's vague fears for the little sister at home who did not get well enough to join them; and before anyone was aware of it, the whole week was gone and Sunday night had arrived. The evening service was over, Peace had said good-night to the pastor and his wife, and the house was in darkness when suddenly there was the sound of hurried steps on the walk, the door-bell jangled harshly, and the brown eyes in the room across the hall flew open just as the front door closed with a bang, and Mrs. Strong's frightened voice called through the darkness, "What is it, John? A telegram?"

"A messenger boy."

"Oh, what is the trouble? Someone hurt or sick at home? Here is a light, dear."

Flickering shadows danced across the walls of Peace's room, she heard the tearing of paper, and then Mr. Strong's quick exclamation, "Elizabeth! It is Allee!" "What is Allee?" A white gown shot out of the door opposite them, and terrified Peace threw herself into the woman's arms, demanding again, "What is Allee? Is she—dead?"

"No, dear," he hastily assured her, provoked to think he had frightened the child so badly; "only ill—quarantined for scarlet fever."

"Scarlet fever!" gasped the girl. "That's what killed Myrtle Perry. Oh, will Allee die, too? Why didn't I stay at home with her?"

"There, there, little girlie, you mustn't cry about it like that," said Mrs. Strong, stroking the brown head in her arms with comforting touches. "Lots of people have scarlet fever and get over it. The letter says Allee's case is not at all severe, but she will be quarantined for some weeks and you can't go home until the house has been fumigated. You must be our girl for a month or two longer. Will that be hard work?"

"N-o, but s'posing she should die! I ought to be there to have it, too."

"No, indeed! That would make it only harder for Grandma Campbell. You must stay here and keep well so they won't be worrying about you, too. Allee isn't going to die, but in a few weeks will be as well as ever."

"S'posing I've caught it already and give it to Glen?"

"Dr. Coates thinks you would have been sick by this time if you were going to have the disease, but he is taking no chances, and has sent some medicine as a preventive."

"What about school?" The case was becoming interesting to Peace, now that she was assured that Allee would not die.

"Oh, you can have another week of vacation from lessons, and then if everything is all right, you can finish your term at Chestnut School. That is only four blocks from here, and Miss Curtis is a splendid principal. I knew her when I went to college, and I am sure you will like her."

This was not exactly what Peace had expected or hoped for. She would have preferred no more school at all, as long as the sisters at home were to have an enforced vacation of several weeks, and her face clouded again as she heard Elizabeth's plan. "But—I can't—I don't want—I would rather—" she stammered.

"Remember your motto and 'scatter sunshine,' dear. It will help the home folks to know you are cheerful and happy here, and it will help us, too."

She had touched the right chord. Peace slowly dried her tears, gave a final gulp or two, and lifted her face once more smiling and serene, saying gravely, "You can bet on me! I won't bawl any more. You folks better get to bed now and not stand here shivering until you catch cold. Good-night again!" With a hearty kiss for each, she trailed away to her tiny room and was soon fast asleep among the pillows.

In spite of her determination to be brave, however, she often found it hard to wear a smiling face during the week which followed the messenger's coming, for much as she wanted a vacation from her books, time hung heavily on her hands. She could not help fretting about Allee lying ill at home, Glen took a sleepy spell and spent many hours each day napping when she wanted to play with him, the little house had soon been put in order, everything was unpacked and in its place, the minister and Elizabeth were compelled to devote much of their time to making the acquaintance of their new parishioners and becoming familiar with this new field of labor; so Peace was necessarily left to her own devices more than was good for her.

To make a bad situation worse, a drizzly spring rain set in, which lasted for days and kept the freedom-loving child a prisoner indoors, when she longed to be dancing in the fresh air and exploring a certain inviting grove which she had discovered on the hillside behind the church.

"I b'lieve it's raining just to spite me," she exclaimed crossly one afternoon as she stood drumming on the window-sill and watching the pearly drops course down the pane in zigzag rivulets. "It just knows how bad I want to get out to play."

Elizabeth looked up from a tiny dress which she was mending carefully, and said in sprightly tones,

"'Is it raining, little flower?
Be glad of rain.
Too much sun would wither thee,
'Twill shine again.
The sky is very black, 'tis true,
But just behind it shines the blue.'"

"Oh, yes, you can say that all right," Peace snapped, "cause you ain't just a-dying to get out and dig. Why, Saint Elspeth, the air just fairly smells of angleworms and birds' nests, and I do want to make a garden so bad!"

"Poor girlie," smiled the woman to herself, "what a hard time she would have in life if she could not run and romp all she wanted." But aloud she merely said, "It is too early to make a garden yet, dear. The ground is so cold that the seeds would rot instead of sprouting, and if any little shoots were brave enough to climb through the soil into open air, they probably would get frozen for their trouble. We are apt to have some hard frosts yet this spring. See, the leaves on the trees have scarcely begun to swell yet. They know it isn't time. Be patient a little longer; it can't rain forever."

"It's hard to be patient with nothing to do," sighed the child, pressing her nose flatter and flatter against the glass as she looked up and down the dreary, deserted street, vainly hoping for something to distract her dismal thoughts.

"Have you finished dressing the paper dolls for Allee?"

"Yes, I made ten different suits for every single doll, and there were fifteen, counting in the father and mother and grandma. Saint John has already mailed them. I've read till I'm tired and the back fell off of the book—it wasn't a nice story anyway, 'cause the good girl was always getting whaled for what the bad one did. I whistled Glen to sleep before I knew it and then couldn't wake him up, though I shook and shook him. I've sewed up all today's squares of patch-work and two of tomorrow's; but it isn't int'resting work when you ain't there to tell me stories about them. And anyway, I hate sewing—patch-work 'specially! When I grow up and get married, my husband will have to buy our quilts already made. I'll never waste my time sewing on little snips to hatch up some bed-clothes. They're always covered up with spreads anyway. Rainy days are the dismalest things I know!"

"That is very true if we let it rain inside, too," Elizabeth agreed quietly.

"Let it rain inside! Whoever heard tell of such a thing—'nless the roof was leaky." Peace giggled in spite of her gloom.

"You are letting it rain inside now when you frown and sigh instead of trying to be cheerful and happy in spite of the storm outside. One of our poets says:

"'Whatever the weather may be,' says he,
'Whatever the weather may be,
It's the songs ye sing, and the smiles ye wear
That's a-making the sunshine everywhere!'"

Peace abruptly ceased her drumming on the window-sill and stared thoughtfully through the wet pane at a row of draggled sparrows chirping blithely on a fence across the muddy street. Then she remarked, "What a lot of poetry you know! Seems 'sif I'd struck a poetic bunch since we left Parker. Grandma and grandpa and Miss Edith and Frances, and now you have taken to talking in rhymes—and they are mostly about sunshine, too."

"'When the days are gloomy
Sing some happy song,'"

hummed Elizabeth, leaning suddenly forward and drawing out a drawer in her desk close by. She rummaged through its contents for a moment, and then laid a dainty brown and gold book in the girl's hands, saying, "That reminds me. When I was a little girl not much older than you are now, my mother was very ill for a long time, and my sister Esther and I were sent away from home to live with a lame old aunt in a lonely little house about a mile from the nearest neighbor's. Needless to say, we got very homesick with no one to play with or amuse us, and the days were often so long that we were glad when night came so we could sleep and forget our childish troubles. Though Aunt Nancy was not accustomed to children, she soon discovered our loneliness and set about to mend matters as best she could. But the old house had very little in it for us to play with, the books were all too old for us to understand, and like you, we were not overly fond of sewing. So poor old auntie was at her wit's end to know what to do with us when she happened to think of her diary."

"Did she have many cows?"


"In her diary."

"Oh, child, that is dairy you mean. A diary is a record of each day's events—all the little things that happen from week to week—sort of a written history of one's life."

"H'm, I shouldn't think that would be fun," Peace commented candidly, still holding the unopened volume in her hand, thinking it was another uninteresting story-book. "I don't like writing any better than I do sewing."

"Neither did I, but Esther was rather fond of scribbling, and Aunt Nancy's diary was one of the brightest, sprightliest histories of common, everyday affairs that we ever read, and we were both greatly amused over it. She had kept a faithful record for years—not every day, or even every week, but just when she happened to feel like writing, so it was no drudgery.

"She was quite given to making rhymes, as you call it, and we were astonished to find several very beautiful little poems and stories that she had written just for her own enjoyment; for she had always lived alone a great deal, and these little blank books of hers held the thoughts that she could not speak to other folks because there were no folks to talk with. Esther was several years older than I, and she knew a lady who wrote for magazines. So, unbeknown to Aunt Nancy, she copied a number of the prettiest verses and sent them to this author, who not only had them printed, but begged for more. I never shall forget how pleased Aunt Nancy was, and I think it was that which decided us girls to try keeping a diary, too. We raced each other good-naturedly, to see who could write the queerest fancies or longest rhymes, and many an hour have we whiled away, scribbling in the dusty attic."

"Did you ever get anything printed?" Peace was becoming interested, for Gail had secret ambitions along this line, and such matters as poems, stories and publishers were often discussed in the home circle.

"No," sighed Elizabeth, a trifle wistfully, perhaps, as she thought of that dear dream of her girlhood days. "I soon came to the conclusion that poets are born and not made. But Esther has been quite successful in writing short stories for magazines, and she lays it all to the summer we spent with Aunt Nancy on that dreary farm."

"How long did you write your dairy?"

"Diary, Peace. I am still writing it—"

"Ain't that book full yet?"

"Oh, yes, a dozen or more, but most of them were burned up in the fire at—"

"I thought maybe this was one of them." She held up the brown and gold volume, much disappointed to think it did not contain the record of those early attempts which Elizabeth had so charmingly described.

"No, dear, that is a notebook which I was intending to send John's youngest brother, Jasper, who thinks he wants to be an author, so he might jot down bits of information or interesting anecdotes to help him in his work. However, it just occurred to me that perhaps Peace Greenfield would like such a book to gather up sunbeams in."

"To gather up sunbeams?"

"Yes, dear. Don't you think it would be a nice plan these rainy, dreary days to write down all the cheerful bits of poetry you know or happy thoughts that come to you, or the pretty little fairy tales you and Allee love to make up about the moon lady and the brownies in the dell? You see, I have painted little brownies all along the margins of the various pages—"

"And they are carrying sunflowers," Peace interrupted.

"Sun-flowers if you wish," and Elizabeth made a wry face at her reflection in the mirror. "I called them black-eyed Susans, but sun-flower is a better name for them, because this is to be a sunshine book. Another coincidence—I have written on the fly-leaf the very verse I just quoted:

"It's the songs ye sing, and the smiles ye wear
That's a-makin' the sunshine everywhere!'"

"And ain't the fly's leaf dec'rations cute!" Peace pointed a stubby forefinger at the painted brownie chorus, armed with open song-books and broad grins, who seemed waiting only for the signal of the leader facing them with baton raised and arms extended, to burst into rollicking melody. "I think it's a splendid book and you're a nangel to give it to me when you meant it for someone else. But it ought to have a name. Just dairy sounds so milky and barnlike; and I don't like 'sunbeam book' real well, either. What did you call yours?"

Elizabeth laughed. "Esther's was 'Happy Moments,' but I was more ambitious, and called mine 'Golden Thoughts.' How would 'Sunbeams,' or 'Gleams of Sunshine' do for yours?"

"Oh, I like that last one! That's what I'll call it, and I'll begin writing now. Shall I use pen and ink?"

"Ink would be best, wouldn't it? Pencil marks soon get rubbed and dingy."

"That's what I was thinking," Peace answered promptly, for the possibilities of the ink-pot always had held a great charm for her, and at home her privileges in this direction were considerably curtailed, ever since she had dyed Tabby's white kittens black to match their mother. So she drew up her chair before the orderly desk, and began her first literary efforts, having first sorted out five blotters, six pen-holders, two erasers, a knife and a whole box of pen-points to assist her.

It was a little hard at first to know just what to write, but after a few nibbles at the end of her pen, she seemed to collect her thoughts, and commenced scratching away so busily on the clean, white page that Elizabeth smiled and congratulated herself on having so easily solved the problem of what to do with the restless, little chatter-box until she could go back to school the following Monday. There were only three days of that week remaining, and if the book would just hold the child's attention until these were ended, she should count her scheme successful, even though she did have to find another present for Jasper's birthday.

So she smiled with satisfaction, for Peace had become so engrossed with her new amusement that she never heard the door-bell ring, nor the voice of the visitor in the adjoining room, but scribbled away energetically until words failed her, and she paused to think of something to rhyme with "bird." Then her revery came to a sudden end, for through the open door of the parlor floated the words, "And so we decided to adopt her resolutions."

"Poor thing," murmured Peace under her breath. "I s'pose it's another orphan. Beats all how many there are in this world! I am glad she's going to be adopted, though; but if she was mine, I'd change her name to something besides Resolutions. That's a whole lot worse'n Peace. It sounds like war."

She glanced out of the window, and with a subdued shout dropped her pen and rushed for her coat and rubbers. The rain had ceased and the sun was shining! Not only that, but trudging down the muddy hill, hand-in-hand and tearful, were two small, fat cherubs, the first children Peace had seen while she had been visiting the parsonage, except as she met the boys and girls of the Sunday School. Elizabeth had told her that this part of the city was still new, and consequently few families had settled there as yet; but she had longed for other companionship than Glen could give her, and this was too good an opportunity to miss. So, flinging on her wraps, she hurried out of the back door, so as not to disturb Elizabeth and her caller, and ran after the children already at the street crossing, preparing to wade into the rushing torrent of muddy water coursing down the hillside.

"Oh, wait!" she cried breathlessly, but at the sound of her voice both children started guiltily, and with a snarl of anger and defiance, plunged boldly into the flood, not even glancing behind them at the flying, gray-coated figure in pursuit. However, the water was swift in the gutter, the mud very slippery, and the little tots in too great a hurry. So without any warning, two pair of feet shot out from under their owners, two frightened babies plumped flat in the dirty stream, and two voices rose in protest against such an unhappy fate. Nevertheless, when Peace waded in to their rescue, they fought and bit like wild-cats, till she dragged them howling back to the sidewalk and safety. Then abruptly the wails ceased, two pair of round gray eyes stared blankly up at their rescuer, and two voices demanded aggressively, "Who's you?"

"Are you twins?" asked Peace in turn, noticing for the first time how very much alike were the small, snub-nosed, freckled faces of the dirty duet.


"What are your names?"

"Lewie and Loie."

"Lewie and Loie what?"

"That's all."

"Oh, but you must have another name."

"That's all," they stubbornly insisted.

"Where do you live?"


"Haven't you any mamma?"

"She's gone."

"But who takes care of you?"

"Nobody," gulped the one called Loie.

"Mittie did, but she runned away and lef' us," added Lewie.

"Where are you going now?"

"To fin' mamma."

"But you said she was dead."

"She just goned away and lef' us, too," murmured Loie, looking very much puzzled.

Peace was delighted. Years and years ago, when her grandfather was a boy, he had adopted a little, homeless orphan and kept him from being taken to the poor-farm. Here were two waifs needing love and care. Who had a better right to adopt them than she who had found them? Grandpa Campbell surely would not turn them away, for did he not know what it was to be homeless and friendless? But she could not take them home while Allee was in bed with scarlet fever, and perhaps the Strongs would not feel that they could open the parsonage doors to two more children, seeing that the house was so very tiny. What could she do with her charges?

There was a rush of feet on the walk behind her, someone gave her a violent push, and she sprawled full length in the gutter. Surprised, drenched to the skin and dazed by her fall, she staggered to her feet only to be knocked down the second time, while a jeering, mocking voice from the sidewalk taunted, "You're a pretty sight now, you nigger-wool kidnapper! Get up and take another dose! I'll teach you to steal children!"

Blind with rage and half choked with mud, Peace shook the water from her eyes and flew at her assailant with vengeance in her heart, pounding right and left with relentless fists wherever she could hit. But the enemy was a larger and stronger child, and it would have gone hard with the brown-eyed maid had not the minister himself arrived unexpectedly upon the scene and separated the two young pugilists, demanding in shocked tones, "Why, Peace, what does this mean? I thought you were above fighting."

"She hit me first!" sputtered Peace, trying to wipe the blood from a long scratch on her cheek.

"She stole my kids!"

"They are orphans, Saint John, and I was going to adopt them like my grandfather did Grandpa Campbell."

"They ain't either orphans!" shouted the other.

"They said their mother was dead and they had no home."

"Mamma goned away and locked up the house," volunteered Lewie from the parsonage porch where he had taken refuge with his twin sister at the first sign of the fray.

"Are you their sister?" sternly demanded Mr. Strong of the older girl.

"No, I ain't! They live next door and Mrs. Hoyt left the kids with me till she got back."

"Where is your house?"

"On top of the hill," she muttered sullenly.

"Then how does it come they are so far from home?"

"They ran away."

"She shut us out of hern house," said Loie, "and we went to fin' mamma."

Just at this moment the parsonage door opened, and Elizabeth's visitor stepped out on the piazza, almost stumbling over the crouching twins; and at sight of them she exclaimed in surprise, "Why, Lewis and Lois Hoyt, what are you doing down here? Does your mother know where you are?"

"Ah, Mrs. Lane, how do you do?" said the minister, extending his hand in greeting. "Are these tots neighbors of yours?"

"They live just across the street from us. I often take care of them when the mother is away." Then her eye chanced to fall upon the shrinking figure of Mittie, and she demanded wrathfully, "Have you been up to your tricks again, Mittie Cole? I shall certainly report you to your father this time sure. I will take the twins home, Mr. Strong. It is too bad your little guest has been hurt, but you can mark my words, she was not to blame. There is trouble wherever Mittie goes. I don't see why Mrs. Hoyt ever left the children with her in the first place. She might have known what would happen."

Shooing the little brood ahead of her, she marched out of sight up the hill, and Peace followed the minister into the house, wailing disconsolately, "I thought they were orphans and I could adopt them like grandpa did."

"But think how nice it is that they have a mother and father and a nice home of their own. Aren't you glad they are not friendless waifs?"

It was a new thought. Peace paused in her lament, and then with a bright smile answered, "It is nicer that way, ain't it? 'Cause even if they had been orphans, maybe grandpa would think he had his hands full with the six of us, and couldn't make room for any more. Lewie can bite like a badger and I 'magine grandpa wouldn't stand for much of that. Anyway I wouldn't. When I grow bigger and have a house of my own, then I can adopt all the children I want to, can't I? Just like that lady that was here a minute ago."

"Mrs. Lane? Why, she has no adopted children!" exclaimed Elizabeth, who had been a silent spectator of part of the scene.

"But I heard her tell you so myself," insisted Peace.


"This afternoon while I was writing in my book. She said they decided to adopt Resol—Resol—something."

Fortunately the minister was lighting the fire in the kitchen stove, so Peace could not see the laughter in his face, and Elizabeth had long since learned to hide her mirth from the keen childish eyes, so she explained, "It was not a child, Peace, which she was talking about. Doesn't your Missionary Band ever adopt resolutions of any sort in their business meetings?"

"I never saw any they adopted, though we're s'porting two orphan heathen in India."

Elizabeth could not refrain from smiling slightly, but she carefully explained to Peace the meaning of the perplexing phrase, as she bustled about her preparations for supper, and the incident was apparently forgotten.

While she was putting things to rights for the night, long after the children had been tucked away in their beds, she found the preacher seated by her desk chuckling over a little book among the papers before him, and peeping over his shoulder she saw it was the brown and gold volume which she had given Peace that afternoon. On the fly-leaf, just above the quaint brownie chorus, in straggling inky letters, Peace had penned the title, "Glimmers of Gladness," this being as near as she could recall the name Elizabeth had suggested. Then followed the most extraordinarily original diary the woman had ever seen, and she laughed till the tears ran down her cheeks, as she read the words written with such painstaking care and plenty of ink:

"This is the first dairy I ever kept. Saint Elspeth gave me the book which she ment for Jasper Strong, St. John's brother who wood rather be a writer than a huming boy. He ought to change places with me, cause I'd rather be a live girl any day than a norther which is what Gale wants to be and that is one reason I am going to keep a dairy as she may find it usful when she gets to be famus like St. Elspeth's sister Ester. I should not want to keep a dairy if I had to tend to it every day, but St. Elspeth says just to rite when I feel like it which I don't s'pose will be offen as there is usuly something to do which I like better. I am riting today becaus it rains and I cant go out doors.

"The sparrow is playing in the mud
Don't I wish I could, too.
He don't need rubbers on his feet,
Behind the clouds it's blue.
He wears feathers stead of close
And to him the rain aint wet.
I wisht that I wore feathers, too,
Then I'd stay out doors you bet.

"The raindrop fairy is my newest fairy. I'll tell Allee all about it when she gets well enough so's I can go home. They are very wet but it aint their fault. If they wuz dry they wouldnt be water. They go about doing lots of good to the trees and flowers which couldnt grow without water, and we mustn't fuss cause there is always sun somewhere and its a cumfert to no it wont rain all the time. When the storm is over the raindrop faries strech a net of red and blue and green and yellow akros the sky which means it wont rain any more until the next time. Thats the way with huming beings. If we skowl and growl we're making a huming thunder-storm, but just as soon as the smile comes out thats the rainbow and shows the sun is shining, 'cause there is never a rainbow without the sun is in the clouds behind it. I'm going to smile and smile after this and be a reglar sunflour all myself."

"Dear little Peace," murmured Elizabeth, as she closed the book and laid it back on the desk. "It's mean to laugh at her precious diary, particularly when she has taken such pains with it and tried her best to please."

"She'll make an author yet," chuckled the minister. "I am proud of our little philosopher. She is scattering more sunshine than she dreams of, and some day will harvest a big crop of sunflowers."



It was a glorious morning in May. Spring had really come at last with its warm, life-giving sunshine, and the air was heavy with the smell of growing things. Overhead the blue sky was clear and cloudless, underfoot the new grass made a thick carpet invitingly cool and refreshing. The trees were sporting fresh garlands of leaves, and in woods and gardens the bright-colored blossoms glowed and blushed. How beautiful it all was!

Peace paused at Elizabeth's side in the open doorway to drink in the rich fragrance of the lilacs, whose purple plumes nodded so temptingly from the hedge across the way. For days it had been part of her morning program to rush out of doors as soon as she was dressed to sniff hungrily at the lilac-laden air, but never before had they smelled so sweet nor looked so beautiful and feathery as they did this morning, for now they had reached the height of their perfection. Tomorrow some of their beauty would be gone; they would be growing old.

"Oh, Elspeth, ain't they lovely?" she sighed. "Don't they make you feel like heaven? Wouldn't you like a great, big bunch of them under your nose always? I wonder why the folks who live there don't give them away. I should if they b'longed to me. Think how many people would be glad to get them. May I go over in the field to play? I won't break one of Saint John's plants or touch a single lilac, truly, if I can just play where I can smell their smell as it comes fresh from the bush. We only get the wee, ragged edges of it over here."

Elizabeth came out of her own revery at the sound of Peace's gusty sigh of longing, and readily gave her consent, as this was Saturday morning and school did not keep. So, like a bird trying its wings after a long imprisonment, the brown-eyed maid with arms flapping and curls bobbing, skipped happily across the road to the field where she had helped the minister plant a little vegetable garden, and which already was lined with irregular rows of pale green shoots where beans and potatoes, turnips and cabbages, had pushed their way up through the black earth.

Peace was even prouder of the small truck patch than the preacher himself, if such a thing were possible, and it was a favorite pastime of both these gardeners to walk back and forth between the rows each day and count the tender sprouts which had appeared during the night. So this morning from force of habit, Peace strolled up and down the length of the garden, counting in a sing-song fashion as she greedily filled nostrils and lungs with the sweet scent of the lilac bushes just beyond, drawing nearer and nearer the hedge with its delicate, dainty sprays.

Unconsciously her counting changed into the humming refrain of the Gleaner's motto song, and she danced lightly down the last row of crisp cornblades, joyously chanting words which fitted into the happy music: "Oh, you pretty lilacs, growing by the wall! How I'd like to have you for my very own. I would pick your blossoms, lavender and white, and give them all to sick folks, shut in from the light.—Why, that rhymed all of its own self!"

She paused abruptly beside the lilac bushes, her arms still uplifted and fingers outstretched as if beckoning to the plumy sprays above her Head. "Isn't it queer how such things will happen when if I'd been trying to make poetry in my dairy I couldn't have thought of those words for an hour? I guess it was the lilacs that did it. Oh, you are so beautiful! You'd make anything rhyme, wouldn't you? What is it that gives you your sweetness? I wish you could tell me the secret. Oh, you lovely lilacs, growing up so high; swinging in the sunshine—" Again her made-up words came to a sudden end, and she stood motionless, her head cocked to one side, listening intently to a brilliant trill of melody from the other side of the hedge.

"There goes my bird again! Saint John says it must be a canary which b'longs to the stone house that owns these lilacs, but I don't b'lieve it would sing like that if it was shut up in a cage."

She held her breath again to harken to the music, then puckered her lips and mocked its song. The feathered musician broke off in the midst of his rhapsody, surprised at the strange echo of his own notes. There was a moment of silence; then he began again, and once more Peace mimicked the warbler. This time there was a stir on the other side of the bushes, and the purple-tasseled branches were cautiously parted where the foliage was thinnest, but Peace was too much absorbed in watching the topmost boughs—for the music seemed to come from overhead somewhere—to see the startled eyes looking at her through the tangle of leaves and blossoms. All unconscious of her hidden audience, she joyously trilled the canary bird's chorus.

Then miracle of miracles—or so it seemed to Peace—there was a whir of wings, and a bright-eyed, yellow-coated, saucy, little bird perched on a twig just above her head. Peace gasped and was silent.

The bird chirped a note of defiance and hopped to the branch below. Peace advanced a cautious step; the canary did not retreat, but tipped its dainty head sidewise and eyed the child curiously. A small brown hand shot out unexpectedly, dexterously, and the yellow songster found itself a helpless prisoner in the child's tight grasp.

Peace was almost as surprised as the bird. She had not really thought to capture the creature so easily, and to find it in her hand sent a thrill of delight through her whole being. She snuggled it close in her neck and crooned:

"You little darling! Saint John was right, you are a canary! But I was right, too. You ain't caged. I'm mighty glad I've caught you. I always did like pets. I wonder what you will think of Muffet, grandma's canary? If I just had these lovely lilacs now, little birdie, I'd be perfectly happy. But a bird in the hand is worth—a whole bushel of blossoms. I guess I'll take you home to Elspeth—"

"Oh, you mustn't!" cried a distressed voice behind the purple tassels. "That is my bird, Gypsy. I just let him loose to see if it was really you mocking him. Bring him home, won't you? And I'll give you all the lilacs you want."

Startled at the sound of a human voice almost at her elbow when she could see no sign of the speaker, Peace let go her hold on the frightened captive, and with a relieved chirp, it flew out of sight among the thick branches. But she made no attempt to follow its flight, she was too scared. "Are—are—was it a real woman which did that talking?" chattered Peace, wetting her lips with her tongue.

"Yes," answered the voice, with just the tinge of a laugh in it. "I live in the stone house this side of the lilac bushes. I saw you through the leaves and heard what you said, but won't you please bring my little Gypsy home? I'll give you all the flowers you want. Go down to the road and come in through the front gate. I am here in my chair."

"Your bird has gone home already," Peace answered, reassured by this explanation. "But I'll come and get those lilacs you spoke about."

She ran nimbly down the length of the lilac hedge, dodged out of sight around the corner, and appeared the next moment at the iron gate which shut out the street from the grand stone house with its wide lawns, great oaks, smooth, flower-bordered walks, and splashing fountain.

"Oh, how beau-ti-ful!" cried the child in delight, as the gate swung shut behind her. "I've always wanted to know what this place looked like, but the tall hedge all along the fence is too thick to see through and one can get only a teenty peek through the gate. There is your bird on top of its cage now. See, I didn't keep him, though I'd like to. He is a splendid singer. I sh'd think you'd be the happiest lady in the whole world with all these lovely flowers and—are you a lady?"

For the first time since entering the great gate, Peace turned her big, brown eyes full upon the occupant of the reclining chair in the shade of the lilac bushes, and her lively chatter faltered, for the face pillowed among the silken cushions seemed neither a child's nor yet a woman's. The eyes, intensely blue and clear, the broad, high forehead, the thin cheeks and colorless lips, even the heavy braids of brown hair with their auburn lights, did not seem to belong to a mere mortal. And yet she could not be an angel, for even Peace's youthful, untrained mind swiftly read the bitterness and rebellion which lurked in those deep, wonderful eyes. It was as if some doomed soul were looking out through the bars of a prison fortress, without a single ray of hope to break the gloom, without a single thought to cheer or comfort. And so Peace, in her childish ignorance, asked, "Are you a lady?"

"A woman grown," the sweet voice answered, and a faint smile of amusement flitted across the marble-white face.

"Your—your hair is in braids," stammered Peace, unable to put her subtle feelings into words.

"It is more restful that way," the speaker sighed; then again that fleeting smile lighted up the beautiful features, and holding out her hand to the puzzled child, she said coaxingly, "Tell me about yourself. Is it really you who whistles so divinely in the garden each morning? I have heard it so often but never could locate it before. Aunt Pen thought it must be another canary at the parsonage. It always seemed to come from that direction."

"That's 'cause Saint John and I live there. He whistles, too, though I do it the best."

"Saint John?" The flicker of amusement became a genuine smile.

"That's the new preacher of Hill Street Church. He used to be our minister in Parker and he lets me call him by his front name when we are alone, but it was so easy to forget and do it when we weren't alone that I named him Saint John, 'cause Faith says he is my pattern—no patron saint. I call Elizabeth Saint Elspeth, too, for the same reason. She is his wife."

"But I thought you were their little girl."

"Mercy, no! They ain't old enough to have a little girl my age yet. Glen is their only children. I'm just visiting."

"You have been with them ever since they came here, haven't you?"

"Almost. They were a week ahead of me. They moved in from Parker last March, the very week before our spring vacation from school, and they begged grandpa so hard to let me come and help them settle that he said I might. Then Allee got the scarlet fever, so I had to stay for a time. Just as she was getting well so they 'xpected to fumergate 'most any day, Cherry went to work and caught it, and now Hope is in bed. There are two more yet to have it, 'nless you count me, and I ain't going to get it. I don't think Gail and Faith will, either, 'cause they have been staying with Frances Sherrar ever since the doctor decided he knew what ailed Allee. Anyway, they had it when they were little."

"What quaint names!" murmured the lady, softly repeating them one by one.

"Yes, they are, but as it ain't our fault, we've quit fretting about 'em. Our grandfather was a minister, and he named us—all but Gail and Allee. Papa named the oldest, and mamma named the youngest. Grandpa fixed up all the rest."

The ludicrous look of resignation in the small round face was too much for the questioner, and she burst into a rippling peal of laughter, so hearty that a much older woman popped a surprised face out of the door to see what was the matter. Peace caught a glimpse of her as she vanished within doors once more, and demanded, "Who is that?"

"Aunt Pen."

"That's a quaint name, too. I'd as soon be called 'pencil'," she retaliated.

"It isn't very common these days," smiled the woman. "The real name is Penelope, but I shortened it to 'Pen.' Poor Aunt Pen, she has a hard time of it."

"Why? I sh'd think it would be easy work living in such a beautiful place as this."

"A beautiful place isn't everything in life," came the bitter retort, and the rebellious look clouded the lovely eyes once more.

"No, it ain't," Peace acknowledged; "but it's a whole lot. Just s'posing you had to live in a mite of an ugly house without nice things to eat or wear and with no father or mother to take care of you, and a mortgage you couldn't pay, and an old skinflint of a man ready to slam you outdoors and gobble up the farm, furniture and everything, the minute the mortgage was due. How'd you like that?"

"Have you no father or mother?" The voice was very soft and sweet again, and the blue eyes glowed tenderly.

Peace shook her head. "They are both inside the gates."

"Then who takes care of you?"

"Grandpa Campbell, what was adopted by my own grandpa when he was a boy."

"Tell me about it, won't you, dear?"

So Peace related the pathetic story of the two souls who had gone into the Great Beyond, leaving the helpless orphan band to battle by themselves; of the struggle the little brown house had witnessed; of the tramp who came begging his breakfast, and afterwards proved to be the beloved President of the University; and of the beautiful change which had come in their fortunes when he had adopted the whole flock.

When she had finished her recital there were tears in the blue eyes, and the white-faced lady murmured compassionately, "Poor little sisters! There are so many orphans in this big world."

Something in her tone and the far-away expression of her eyes impelled Peace to say with conviction, "You are an orphan, too."

"Yes, child."

"Since you were a little girl?"

"Since I was five years old."

"Oh, as little as Allee when mamma died! Wasn't there anyone to take care of you? Did your Aunt Pen adopt you?"

"Aunt Pen has always lived with us. I don't remember any other mother."

"And did you always live here?"

"Yes, I was born here. It wasn't part of the city then."

"But you don't look real old."

"I am not real old. I was twenty-four last November."

"And Gail was nineteen the same month! You're only four, five years older than she is. That's not much—but there's a bigger difference."

"How, dear?"

"Oh, she looks 'sif she liked to live better'n you do."

The woman drew a long, shivering breath and closed her eyes as if a spasm of pain had seized her; and Peace, frightened at the death-like pallor of the face, quavered, "Oh, don't faint! What is the matter? Are you sick? Or is it just a chill? Maybe you better run around a bit until you get warm."

The deep, unfathomable blue eyes opened, and the voice said bitterly, "I can never run again. I must lie in this chair all the rest of my life with nothing to do but think, think, think! Do you wonder now that I am not happy? Do you understand now why Aunt Pen has a hard time? Do you see the reason for that tall, thick hedge all around the yard?"

"No," Peace replied bluntly. "I can't see a mite of sense in it! If I had to live in a chair all my days, I'd want it where I could watch the world go by. I'd cut down all the hedges and let the sun shine in. If I couldn't run about myself, I'd just watch the folks that did have good feet. I'd wave my hands at the children and give 'em flowers, and they'd come and talk to me when I was tired of reading. I'd have a bird like you've got, and I'd make a pet of it, too. I'd have more'n one; I'd have a whole m'nagerie of dogs and cats and rabbits and squirrels and—and ponies, maybe, and a monkey or two. And I'd teach them to do tricks, and then I'd call all the poor little children who can't go to the circus to see my animals perform. I'd have gardens of flowers for the sick people and vegetables for those who haven't any place to raise their own and no money to buy them. That's what Saint John is going to do with all they don't use at the parsonage. I'd make a park of my back yard and let dirty children play there so's they would not get run over in the street; I'd—oh, there are so many things I'd do to enjoy myself!"

Peace paused for breath, the well of her imagination run dry, but her face was so radiant that instinctively her listener knew these were not idle words, though she could not keep the hard tone out of her voice as she answered, "Ah, that is easy enough to say, but—wait until you are where I am now, and I think you will find it lots harder to practice what you preach. You will turn your face to the wall, say good-bye to those who you thought were your friends, build a high fence around yourself and hide—hide from the world and everything!"

"Oh, no," Peace protested, shuddering at the picture she had drawn. "I should die if I couldn't see the sun and flowers and kind faces of the folks I love. But—it—would be—awfully hard never to walk again."

"Hard? It is torture!" She had forgotten that she was talking to a mere child, one who could not understand what it was to have dearest ambitions thwarted, one who could not even know yet what it was to have ambitions. "I had dreamed of being a great singer some day—"

"Oh, do you sing?" cried Peace, who was passionately fond of music in whatever guise it came.

"Masters said I could—"

"Then please sing for me. I can only whistle, and then folks say,

"'Whistling girls and crowing hens
Always come to some bad ends.'

"I'd like awfully much to hear you sing."

"Oh, I don't sing any more! That is all past now; but oh, how I loved it! We were going to Europe, Aunt Pen and I, and when we came back after months and years of study, I thought I should be a—Jenny Lind, perhaps. I thought of it by day, I dreamed of it by night. It was everything to me. And then—my horse fell—and here I am."

"Was it long ago?" whispered Peace, strangely stirred by the passionate words of the girl before her.

"Five years."

"And you've been here ever since?"

"Ever since."

Oh, the hopelessness of the words, the bitterness of the face!

Involuntarily Peace turned her eyes away, and as her glance fell upon the delicate bloom of the lilac bushes beside her, she began to hum under her breath, "Oh, you lovely lilacs, growing up so high."

"Sing to me," commanded the lame girl imperiously.

"Sing? I can't sing! All I can do is whistle."

"But you were singing just now."

"I was humming."

"Don't quibble!" A faint smile smoothed away the hard lines about the young mouth. "Please sing that little tune for me. I have heard you so often in the garden and that seems quite a favorite of yours, but I can never make out the words."

"That's 'cause the words ain't usu'ly alike."


"Why, Allee and me have always fitted talking words into our song music and—"

"I don't understand, I am afraid."

"Why, we just sing things instead of talking them like other folks would. They don't rhyme, but they fit into tunes which we like, and our Gleaners' motto song is our favorite, so that's the one we usu'ly hum, and that's how you hear it so much."

"Then sing the motto song. The tune is very pretty."

"Yes, it is pretty, but the reason we like it so well is 'cause it sounds glad. We never can sing it when we're cross or bad. It's made just for sunshine."

Softly she began to chant the words:

"'In a world where sorrow
Ever will be known
Where are found the needy
And the sad and lone.'"

Peace was right in saying that she could not sing, and yet her happy voice, warbling out those joyous words, made very sweet music that bright May morning. The lines of weariness gradually left the invalid's face, a feeling of rest stole over her, and with a tired little sigh, she closed her eyes.

"'When the days are gloomy,
Sing some happy song,
Meet the world's repining
With a courage strong;
"'Go with faith undaunted
Thro' the ills of life,
Scatter smiles and sunshine
O'er its toil and strife,'"

piped Peace, staring at the waving plumes of lavender above her head.

"'Sca-atter sunshine all along your wa-ay,
Cheer and bless and bri-ighten—'"

The song ceased in the midst of the chorus.

The big blue eyes flashed open and the lame girl demanded in surprise. "Why did you stop?"

"Oh," breathed Peace, a look of great relief passing over her face, "I thought sure you'd gone to sleep and I wouldn't get my lilacs after all."

"You little goosie! I don't go to sleep that easily. Sing the chorus again for me, and then Hicks shall cut all the flowers you can carry."

"He better begin now, then, 'cause the chorus ain't long and it sounds 'sif Elspeth was calling me. I've been out of sight from the parsonage quite a spell and likely she's getting anxious. Besides, Glen may be awake and wanting me."

"Very well," she laughed. "Hicks shall begin right away. See, there he comes with his basket and scissors. Now sing."

So Peace repeated the sprightly chorus with a vim, and was rewarded with such a huge bouquet of the fragrant blossoms that she was almost hidden from sight as she stood clasping them tightly in her arms, and exclaiming in rapture, "All for me? Oh, dear Lilac Lady, I didn't 'xpect that many! You better have Aunt Pen put some of these in the house for you."

"No, I don't want them in my house!" exclaimed the girl fiercely. "They are all for you—and Saint Elspeth."

"Oh, she'll love you for sending them. Can I bring her over to see you? Her and Saint John?"

"No, I don't care to meet them. Saint John has already called, but—I sent him away again."

"Then—I s'pose—you won't care to have me call again either."

This beautiful garden seemed like the Promised Land to Peace's childish eyes, and the thought of never being allowed to enter it again was dreadful.

"Oh, yes, do come again! You must come again! Come every day. No, not every day, some days I couldn't see you if you came. I will hang a white cloth on the lilac bushes—see,—on the other side, where you can see it from the parsonage, and you will come then, won't you?"

"Yes, if Elspeth doesn't need me and Glen is asleep. He likes flowers, too, even if he is just a baby, and he never tears them to pieces."

"I'll have Hicks cut you some tulips—"

"You better not today. I'll get them next time I come. These are all I can carry now, and they are a lot too many for our little parsonage. But I'm awful glad you gave me such a big bunch, 'cause there are ever so many of the church people sick, and Elspeth will be so pleased to have me distribit bouquets amongst 'em. Some of 'em it will be like slinging coals of fire at their heads, too. There's old Deacon Hopper for one. He doesn't like Saint John and calls him a meddlesome monkey of a minister. Now he's sick, I'll take him a bunch of lilacs and tell him the meddlesome monkey's minister has sent him some flowers and hopes he soon gets onto his feet again.

"Mittie Cole is another that needs some fire on her head. She pushed me into the gutter three times the day I tried to adopt the runaway twins, and we'd have had a grand scrimmage if Saint John hadn't happened along to stop it. But she's got lung fever now, and there was days the doctor said she wouldn't live. I reckon she doesn't feel much like fighting any more, but likely she'll enjoy the smell of these lovely lilacs. She seemed awful glad to see me the day I carried her some chicken broth.

"The Foster baby is sick, and Grandma Deane, and little Freddie James, and Mrs. Hoover, and Dan'l Fielding. You see that's quite a bunch, and it will take a big lot of flowers to go around. I'll tell 'em all that you sent 'em—"

"No, indeed!" There was real alarm in her voice. "Because I did not send them. I gave them to you."

"But if you hadn't given them to me, I couldn't share 'em with other folks, so it's really you who is to blame. You—you don't care if I give some away, do you?"

"Certainly not, dear. You may give them all away if it will make you any happier."

"Oh, it does! I just love to see sick faces smile when someone brings in flowers to smell or nice things to eat. Miss Edith sometimes takes us to the hospital with bouquets to distribit, and my! how glad the patients are to get them. They say it is almost as good as a breath of real, genuine air. I'm going with Saint Elspeth tomorrow afternoon—"

"Then you must come over here and get some more lilacs. Hicks will cut all you can carry."

"Oh, do you mean it? You darling Lilac Lady—that's what I mean to call you always, 'cause you give away so many lilacs to make other folks happy. I'll bring the biggest basket I can find. There is Elspeth calling again. I must hurry home."

"You haven't told me your name yet. I forgot to ask it before, but if I am to be your Lilac Lady, I must know what to call you, too."

"Peace—Peace Greenfield. Good-bye. I'll be here tomorrow just the minute dinner is over."

The blue eyes followed her longingly as she danced away through the fresh clover and disappeared beyond the heavy gates. Then the lame girl turned in her chair,—almost against her will, it seemed—and looked up at the fragrant purple plumes nodding above her head. "Peace," she murmured. "How odd! 'The peace which passeth understanding.'"



After that Peace came often to the handsome stone house, half hidden from the road by its thick hedges and giant trees. Almost daily the white cloth fluttered its summons from the lilac bushes, and Elizabeth, having heard the sad story of the young girl mistress, rejoiced that the tumble-haired, merry-hearted little romp could bring even a gleam of sunshine into that darkened life.

At first it was the great, beautiful gardens which lured the child through the iron gates, for she could not understand the different moods of the imperious young invalid, and secretly stood somewhat in awe of her. But gradually the natural childish vivacity and quaint philosophy of the smaller maid tore down the barriers behind which the older girl had so long screened herself, and Peace found to her great amazement that the white-faced invalid, who could never leave her chair again, was a wonderful story-teller and a perfect witch at inventing new games and planning delightful surprises to make each visit a real event for this guest. So the calls grew more and more frequent and the chance acquaintance blossomed into a deep, tender friendship.

Of course, Peace did not realize how much sweetness and sunshine she was bringing into the garden with her, but in her ignorance supposed that the many visits were all for her own happiness. How could she know that her lively prattle was making the weary days bearable for the frail sufferer? And had anyone tried to tell her what an important part she was playing in that life drama, she would not have believed it. Perhaps it was the very unconsciousness of her power which made her such a beautiful comrade for the aching heart imprisoned in the garden. At any rate, Peace not only made friends with the lonely Lilac Lady, but she also captivated gentle Aunt Pen and the adoring Hicks, who met her with beaming faces whenever she entered the garden, and sighed when the brief hours were over. But none of them would listen to her bringing Elspeth or the minister, much to her bewilderment.

"It isn't because I don't want them," explained Aunt Pen one day when Peace had pleaded with her and had been grieved at her refusal. "Your Lilac Lady isn't ready to receive other callers yet. You can't understand now, dearie. God grant you may never understand. She shut herself up four years ago when she found out that she would never get well enough to walk again, and you are the first person she has ever seen since that time, except her own household and the physician. Perhaps you are the opening wedge, child. Oh, I trust it may be so!"

Peace did not understand what an opening wedge was, but it did not sound very appetizing, and she had grave doubts as to whether she had better continue her visits under such conditions. But when she went to Elizabeth with the story, that wise little woman answered her by singing:

"'Slightest actions often
Meet the sorest needs,
For the world wants daily,
Little kindly deeds;
Oh, what care and sorrow
You may help remove,
With your songs and courage,
Sympathy and love.'"

Peace was comforted and went back to the shady garden with a deeper desire to brighten the long, dreary, aimless days of the helpless invalid. She said no more about introducing her beloved minister's family, but in secret she still mourned because the lame girl so steadfastly refused to welcome her dearest friends.

So the days flew swiftly by and the month of May was gone. Summer was early that year, and the first day of June dawned sultry and still over the sweltering city. It was a half-holiday at the Chestnut School, so Peace returned home at noon, hot, perspiring, but radiant at the thought of no more lessons till the morrow. She came a round-about way in order to pass the great gates of the stone mansion, hoping to catch a glimpse of the well-known chair under the lilac bushes; but the lawn was deserted, and she was disappointed, for she had counted much on spending these unexpected leisure hours in the cool garden with the lame girl.

To add to her woe, she found Elizabeth lying on the couch in the darkened study, suffering from a nerve-racking headache, and the preacher, looking very droll togged out in his little wife's kitchen-apron, was flying about serving up the scorched, unseasoned dinner for the forlorn family. He was too much concerned over the illness of the mistress and the unfinished condition of his next Sunday's sermon to sample his own cooking, and as Glen fell asleep over his bowl of bread and milk, Peace was left entirely to her own devices when the meal was ended.

It was too hot to romp, it was too hot to read, and there was no one to play with. She swung idly in the hammock until the very motion was maddening. She prowled through the grove behind the church, she dug industriously in the small flower garden under the east window, she did everything she could think of to make the time pass quickly, but at length threw herself once more into the hammock with a discouraged sigh.

"School might better have kept all day. It is horrid to stay home with nothing to do that's int'resting. I've watched all the afternoon for the Lilac Lady's table-cloth and haven't had a peek of it yet. But there—I don't s'pose she'd know there was only one session today, so she ain't apt to hang it out until time for school to let out, like she usu'ly does. Guess I'll just walk over in that d'rection and see if she ain't under the trees yet. It's been two days since I've seen a glimpse of her. Hicks says she's been dreadful bad again. P'raps I better take her some flowers this time—and there is that little strawberry pie Elspeth made for my very own. I might take her some sandwiches, too,—yes, I'll do it!"

She tiptoed softly into the house, so as not to disturb the two slumberers, and went in search of the minister in order to lay her plan before him; but he, too, had fallen asleep and lay sprawled full length by the open window, beside his half-written manuscript.

"If that ain't just the way!" spluttered Peace under her breath. "I never did go to tell anyone nice plans but they went to sleep or were too busy to be disturbed. Well, I'll do it anyway. I know they won't care a single speck. I'll ask 'em when I get home and they are awake."

Back to the kitchen she stole, and into the tiny pantry, where for the next few minutes she industriously cut and buttered bread, made sandwiches, sliced cake and packed lunch enough for a dozen in the picnic hamper which she found hanging on a nail in the shed. With this on her arm, she returned to the little garden under the window and dug up her choicest flowers, stacked them in an old shoe-box with plenty of black dirt, as she had often seen Hicks do, and departed with her luggage for the stone house across the corner.

She paused at the heavy gates, wondering for the first time whether or not she would be welcome at this time, when no signal had fluttered from the lilac bushes, but at sight of the motionless figure under the largest oak, her doubts vanished, and, boldly opening the gate, she marched up the gravel path and across the lawn toward the familiar chair, bearing the lunch-basket on one arm and a huge box of cheerful-faced pansies on the other.

Hearing the click of the latch and the sound of steps on the walk, the lame girl frowned impatiently, and without opening her eyes, said peevishly, "If you have any errand here, go on to the house. I won't be bothered."

"Oh, I'm sorry," cried Peace in mournful tones. "I brought a picnic with me, but—"

The big blue eyes flashed wide in surprise, and their owner demanded sharply, "Why did you come this time of day? I have not sent for you."

"I didn't say you had. I came 'cause I thought you'd be glad to see me, but if you ain't, I'll go straight home again and eat my picnic all alone, and plant my flowers in my garden again. You don't have to have them if you don't want 'em."

She whirled on her heel and stamped angrily across the grass toward the gate, too hurt to keep the tears from her eyes, and too proud to let her companion see how deeply wounded she was.

Astonished at this flash of gunpowder, the lame girl cried contritely, "Oh, don't go away, Peace! I didn't mean to be cross to you. This has been such a hard week, dear, I hardly know what I am doing half the time."

"Is the pain so bad?" whispered Peace tenderly, dropping on her knees before the sufferer, having already forgotten her own grievance in her longing to ease and comfort the poor, aching back.

"It is better now," answered the girl, smiling wanly at the sympathetic face bending over her. "The heat always makes it worse, but I do believe it is growing cooler now. Feel the breeze? What have you brought me? A picnic lunch!"

"Yes—my strawberry pie—"

"Did Mrs. Strong know?"

"She made the pie all for my very own self to do just what I please with. Don't you like strawberry pie?" Peace paused in her task of unpacking the basket to look up questioningly at the face among the pillows.

"Oh, yes, dear, I am very fond of it, and it is sweet of you to share yours with me. I shall put my half away for tea."

"Oh, you mustn't do that," protested the ardent little picnicker, passing her a plate of generously thick, ragged looking sandwiches, spread with great chunks of butter fresh from the ice-box, and filled with delicate slices of pink ham. "I want you to eat it with me. This is a 'specially good pie, and Elspeth can 'most beat Faith when it comes to dough. Mrs. Deacon Hopper sent us the ham—a whole one, all boiled and baked with sugar and cloves. It's simply fine! The lilacs I took the deacon did the work all right. He was so tickled that he got over being grumpy, and calls Saint John a promising preacher now. Please taste the sandwiches. I know you'll like them even if I didn't get the bread cut real even and nice. Then after we get through eating, I'll plant the pansies."

"Pansies!" She stared past the brown head bobbing over the hamper, to the box of nodding blossoms in the grass. "What made you bring me pansies?"

"'Cause you ain't got any, and no garden looks quite finished without some of those flowers in it. Don't you think so?"

"I de-spise pansies!"

Peace eyed her in horrified amazement an instant, then swept the rejected blossoms out of sight beneath the basket cover, saying tartly, "You needn't be ugly about it! I can take them home again. I s'posed of course you liked them. I didn't know the garden was empty of them 'cause you wouldn't have them. I think they are the prettiest flower growing, next to lilacs and roses."

"Those mocking little faces?"

"Those darling, giggly smiles!"


"Didn't you ever see a giggling pansy?"

"No, I can't say I ever did." A faint trace of amusement stole around the corners of the white lips.

"Well, here's one. Oh, I forgot! You de-spise them!" She had half lifted a gorgeous yellow blossom from the hidden box, but at second thought dropped it back in the loose earth.

"Let me see it!" The Lilac Lady extended one blue-veined hand with the imperious gesture which Peace had learned to know and obey. Silently she thrust the moist plant into the outstretched fingers, and gravely watched while the keen blue eyes studied the golden petals which, as Peace had declared, seemed fairly teeming with sunshine and laughter. "It does—look rather—cheerful," she conceded at length.

"That is just what I thought. I named it Hope."

"Hope! The name is appropriate."

"Yes, it is very 'propriate. Hope is always so sunshiny and smily—"

"Oh, you named it for your sister."

"Who did you think it was named for?"

"I didn't understand. Is it a habit of yours to name all your flowers?"

"N-o, not all. But we gener'ly name our pansies, Allee and me. See, this beautiful white one with just a tiny speck of yellow in the middle I called my Lilac Lady."

"Why?" A queer little choke came in her throat at these unexpected words, and she turned her eyes away that Peace might not see the tears which dimmed her sight.

"You looked so sweet and like a nangel the first time I saw you, and this pansy has a reg'lar angel face."

"Don't I look sweet and like an angel any more?"

"Some days—whenever you want to. But lots of times I guess you don't care how you look," was the reply, as the busy fingers sorted out the different colored blossoms from the box, all unconscious of the stinging arrow she had just shot into the heart of her friend. "This blue one's Allee. Blue means truth, grandma says, and Allee is true blue. Red in our flag stands for valor. Cherry ain't very brave, but I named this for her anyway, in hopes she'd ask why and I could tell her. Then maybe when she found out that folks thought she was a 'fraid cat, she'd get over it. Don't you think she would?"

"Perhaps—if you were her teacher," the older girl answered absently. "Who is the black one?"

"Grandpa. Isn't it a whopper? He is real tall but not fat like the flower. He always wears black at the University—that's why I picked that one for him. This one is grandma and here is Gail. The striped one is Faith. She is good in streaks, but she can be awful cross sometimes, too,—like you. This tiny one is Glen, and the big, brown, spotted feller is Aunt Pen. It makes me think of old Cockletop, a mother hen we used to have in Parker, which 'dopted everything it could find wandering around loose. That's what Aunt Pen looks as if she'd like to do."

This was too much for the lame girl's risibles, and she laughed outright, long and loud, to Peace's secret delight, for when the Lilac Lady laughed it was a sure sign that she was feeling better.

When she had recovered her composure, she said gravely, "Speaking of Aunt Pen reminds me that she told me this morning the cook had made some chicken patties for my special benefit and was hurt to think I refused them. You might run up to the house and ask for them now to go with our picnic lunch. Minnie will give them to you—cold, please. Some lemonade would taste good, too. Aunt Pen knows how to make it to perfection."

Peace was gone almost before she had finished giving her directions, and as she watched the nimble feet skimming through the clover, she smiled tenderly, then sighed and looked sadly down at her own useless limbs which would never bear her weight again. How many years of existence must she endure in her crippled helplessness? Oh, the bitterness of it! And yet as she gazed at the slippers which never wore out, and compared her lot with that of the dancing, curly-haired sprite, tumbling eagerly up the kitchen steps after the promised goodies, the old, weary look of utter despair did not quite come back into the deep blue eyes; but through the bitterness of her rebellion flashed a faint gleam of something akin to hope. She was thinking of Peace's latest sunshine quotation which had been laboriously entered in the little brown and gold volume and brought to her for her inspection:

"'To live in hope, to trust in right,
To smile when shadows start,
To walk through darkness as through light,
With sunshine in the heart.'"

Below the little stanza, Peace had penned her own version of the words in her quaint language: "This means to smile no matter how bad the world goes round and to keep on smiling till the hurt is gone. It don't cost any more to smile than it does to be uggly, and it pays a heep site better."

What a dear little philosopher the child was! A sudden desire to meet the other sisters of that happy family sprang up within her heart. Why should she stay shut away from the world like a nun in her cloister? What had she gained by it? Nothing but bitterness! And think of the joys she had missed!

An insistent rustling of the lilac bushes behind her caught her attention, and by carefully raising her head she could see the thick branches close to the ground bending and giving, as a small, dark object twisted and grunted and wriggled its way through the tiny opening it had managed to find in the hedge.

The girl's first impulse was to scream for help, but a second glance told her that it was not an animal pushing its way through the twigs, for animals do not wear blue gingham rompers. So she held her breath and waited, and at last she was rewarded by seeing a round, flushed, inquisitive baby face peeping through the leaves at her. She smiled and held out her hands, and with a gurgle of gladness, the little fellow gave a final struggle, scrambled to his feet and toddled unsteadily across the lawn to her chair, jabbering baby lingo, the only word of which she could understand was, "Peace."

"Are you Glen?" she demanded, smoothing the soft black hair so like his father's.

"G'en," he repeated, parrot fashion.

"Where is your mamma?"

"Mamma." He pointed in the direction he had come, and gurgled, "S'eep. Papa s'eep. All gone."

The baby himself looked as if he had just awakened from a nap. One cheek was rosier than the other, his hair lay in damp rings all over his head, and his feet were bare and earth-stained from his scramble through the vegetable garden on the other side of the hedge.

A sudden gust of cool wind blew through the trees overhead, a rattling peal of thunder jarred the earth, a blinding flash of lightning startled both girl and baby, and before either knew what had happened, a torrent of rain dashed down upon them. The storm which had been brewing all that sultry day broke in its fury. Hicks came running from the stable to the rescue of his helpless young mistress, Aunt Pen flew out of the house like a distracted hen, and Peace rushed frantically to the garden to save the precious picnic lunch and the box of pansies which were to be planted under the gnarled old oak nearest the lame girl's window.

So it happened that baby Glen was borne away into the great house to wait until the deluge of rain and hail should cease. In the flurry of getting everything under shelter, no one thought of the mother at home, crazed with anxiety and fright; and the whole group was startled a few moments later to behold a bare-headed, wild-eyed woman, drenched to the skin, dash through the iron gates, up the walk, and straight into the house itself, without ever stopping to knock.

"It's Elspeth!" cried Peace, first to find her voice.

"Glen, where's Glen?" was all the frantic mother could gasp as she stood tottering and dripping in the doorway.

"Ma-ma," lisped the little runaway, struggling down from Aunt Pen's lap, where he had been cuddling, and running into Elizabeth's arms.

"Peace, why did you take him without saying a word?" she reproached, sinking into the nearest chair, and hugging her small son close to her breast.

"I didn't—" Peace began.

"I think he must have run away," volunteered the Lilac Lady, staring fixedly at Elizabeth's face with almost frightened eyes. "He squirmed through the hedge while I was alone in the garden. I had not seen the storm approaching, and it broke before I could call Peace or—"

At the sound of the sweet voice, Elizabeth had abruptly risen to her feet, and after one searching glance at the white face among the cushions, cried out with girlish glee, "Myra! Can it be that Peace's Lilac Lady is my dear old chum?"

"You are the same darling Beth!" cried the lame girl hysterically, clinging to the wet hand outstretched to hers. "Why didn't I guess it before? Oh, I have wanted you so often—but I never dreamed of finding you here. And to think I have refused all this while to let Peace bring you!"

"No, don't think about that. Her desire is accomplished, however it came about—and you are going to let me stay?"

"I would keep you with me always if I could. I have been learning Peace's philosophy and find it very—"

"Peaceful?" They laughed together, and in that laugh sounded the doom of the hedges which Peace had lamented so long.



The next morning dawned bright and clear and cool, and Peace, hurrying to school with her nose buried in a great bunch of early roses from the stone house, pranced gaily down the hill chanting under her breath, "Roses, roses, yellow, red and white, you are surely lovely, sweet and bright—another rhyme! They always come when I ain't trying to make 'em. I wonder if I'll ever be a big poet like Longfellow was. It must be nice to have folks learn the things you write and speak 'em at concerts and school exercises like I'm going to do his 'Children's Hour' next Friday. I've got it so I can say it backwards almost. Elizabeth says I know it perfectly. I hope Miss Peyton will think the same way. She is lots harder to please and I 'most never can do anything to suit her."

She sighed dolefully, for her ludicrous mistakes and blunt remarks were the bane of her new teacher's methodical life, and many an hour she had been kept after school as a punishment for her unruly tongue.

Unfortunately, Miss Peyton belonged to that great army of teachers who teach because they must, and not because they love the work. To be sure, she was most just and impartial in her treatment of the fifty scholars under her supervision, but, possessed of about as much imagination as a cat, she failed to analyze or understand the dispositions of her charges; and well-meaning Peace was usually in disgrace.

But her sunny nature could not stay unhappy long, and as she thrust her small nose deeper among the fragrant blossoms, she smilingly added, "I guess she'll like these roses, anyway. They are the prettiest I ever saw, even in greenhouses. There goes the first bell. I 'xpected to be there early this morning, but likely Annie Simms has beat me again. Well, I don't care, there is only one more week of school and then vacation—and p'raps I can go home. Why, what a crowd there is on the walk! I wonder if someone is hurt again. Where can the principal be?"

She broke into a run, forgetful of her cherished bouquet, and dashed heedlessly across the school-grounds to the group of excited, shouting boys and girls, gathered around the tallest linden, throwing stones and missiles of all sorts up into the branches at some object which Peace could not see. But as she drew near, she could hear a queer, distressed chattering, which reminded her of the monkeys in the park zoo, and turning to one of her mates, she demanded, "What is it the boys have got treed there?"

"A monkey."

"A monkey?" shrieked Peace in real surprise. "Where did they get him?"

"I guess he b'longs to a hand-organ man. He's dressed in funny little pants and a red cap. Thad DePugh found him on his way to school and tried to catch him, but he run up the tree."

"And you stand there without saying a word and let them stone a poor little helpless monkey!"

"It don't b'long to me," muttered the child, angered by the indignant flash of the brown eyes and the scathing rebuke which seemed directed against her alone. "Anyway, I ain't stoning it."

"You ain't helping, either. Let me through here!" She pushed and elbowed her way into the midst of the throng and boldly confronted the ringleaders of the tormentors, screaming in protest, "Don't you throw another stone, you big bullies! Ain't you ashamed of yourself, trying to kill that poor little thing!"

"We ain't trying to kill it," retorted the nearest chap, pausing with his arm uplifted ready to pitch another pebble.

"You mind your own business!" growled another. "This monkey isn't yours. We're trying to make it come down so we can catch it."

"You'll quit throwing things at it, or I'll tell Miss Curtis."

"Tattle-tale, tattle-tale!" mocked the throng, and another handful of rocks flew up among the branches.

"O-h-h-h-h!" shrieked Peace, beside herself with rage. "You d'serve to have the stuffing whaled out of you for that!"

Flinging aside the treasured roses, she seized the biggest boy by the hair and jerked him mercilessly back and forth across the yard, while he sought in vain to loosen the supple fingers, and bawled loudly for help.

"Teacher, teacher! Miss Curtis, oh teacher!" shouted the excited children; and at these sounds of strife from the playgrounds, the principal and half a dozen of her staff rushed out of the building to quell the riot. But even then Peace did not release her grip on the lad's thick topknot.

Pulled forcibly from her victim by the long-suffering Miss Peyton, she collapsed in the middle of the walk and sobbed convulsively, while the rest of the scholars huddled around in scared silence, eager to see what punishment was to be meted out to this small offender, for it was a great disgrace at Chestnut School to be caught fighting.

The grave-faced principal looked from the pitiful heap of misery at her feet to the blubbering bully who had retreated to a safe distance and stood ruefully rubbing his smarting cranium, minus several tufts of hair; and though inwardly smiling at the spectacle, she demanded sternly, "Peace Greenfield, aren't you ashamed of yourself for fighting Thad—"

"Yes," hiccoughed Peace with amazing promptness and candor; "I'm terribly ashamed to think I touched him—he's so dirty. But I ain't half as ashamed of myself as I am of him."

Even Miss Peyton caught her breath in dismay. But the principal had not forgotten her own childhood days, and being still a girl at heart, and secretly in sympathy with the small maid on the ground, she only said, "Explain yourself, Peace."

"It ain't half as bad for a little girl like me to fight a big bully like him, as it is for a big bully like him to fight a little monkey—"

"I wasn't fighting the monkey," sullenly muttered the boy, hanging his head in shame.

"You were stoning him, and he couldn't hit back, so there!"

"What monkey?" demanded the principal, glancing swiftly around the yard for any evidence of such a creature.

A dozen hands pointed toward the linden tree, and one small voice piped, "He's up there!"

"A real monkey?"

"Yes, dressed up in hand-organ pants," Peace explained, scrambling to her feet and peering up among the thick leaves for a glimpse of the frightened animal, which had ceased its wild chattering and sat huddled close against the tree trunk almost within reach. "See it? Poor little Jocko, I won't hurt you!" She stretched out her hands at the same moment that unknowingly she had spoken its name, and to the intense amazement of teachers and pupils, the tiny, trembling creature unhesitatingly dropped upon her shoulder, threw its claw-like arms about her neck and hid its face in her curls.

"Whose monkey is it?" gently asked Miss Curtis, breaking the silence which fell upon the group watching the strange sight.

"I never saw it before," Peace answered.

"But you called it by name," chorused the children, crowding closer about her.

"That was just a guess. There's a story in our reader about Jocko, and I happened to think of it. I didn't know it was this monkey's name."

"How odd!" murmured the primary teacher.

"She's the queerest child I ever saw," confided Miss Peyton; but the principal had seen the janitor approaching the open door to ring the last bell, and being at loss to know what to do with the unwelcome little animal in Peace's arms, she suggested that the child take it home and put it in a box until the owner could be found. This Peace was only too delighted to do, for as no one in the neighborhood seemed to know where it came from or whose it was, she had fond hopes that no one would inquire for it, and that she might keep it for a pet.

So she joyfully carried it back to the parsonage, and burst in upon the little household with the jumbled explanation, "Here's a stone I found monkeying up a tree and Miss Curtis asked me to bring it home and box it till the owner comes around after it. And if he doesn't come, I can keep it myself, can't I, Saint John? He jumped right into my arms and won't let go, but just shakes and shakes 'sif he was still getting hit by those rocks. I pulled Thad DePugh 'most bald headed, and didn't get scolded a bit hardly. She made him go to the office, though, and I hope he gets licked the way I couldn't do but wanted to."

"Here, here," laughed the minister, looking much bewildered at the twisted story. "Just say that again, please, and say it straight. I haven't the faintest idea yet how you got hold of that little reptile or what Thad's hair had to do with it."

"It isn't a reptile!" Peace indignantly denied. "It's a monkey which hid in the linden tree at the schoolhouse to get away from the boys and they stoned it."

Little by little the story was untangled, while the monkey still tenaciously clung to Peace's neck and wide-eyed Glen hung onto her skirts.

"So you think there is a chance of your keeping him for a pet?" said the preacher, when at length the tale was ended.

"Can't I?"

"You are hoping too much, little girl. If this animal belongs to an organ-grinder, he will be around for him very soon, you may be sure. It is the monkey's antics that bring in the pennies. He can't afford to lose such a valuable. Besides, Peace, the poor little thing is almost dead now."

"Oh, Saint John, he is only scared. S'posing you were a monkey and hateful boys stoned you, wouldn't you tremble and shake?"

"I don't doubt it, girlie, but it isn't only fear that ails that animal. Look here at his back—just a solid mass of sores. Elizabeth, isn't that shocking? This is surely a case for the Humane Society. It is a shame to let the creature live, suffering as it must be suffering from those cruel wounds. His owner ought to be jailed."

"Oh, Saint John, you aren't going to kill Jocko, are you?"

"No, dear, he is not my property, and I have no legal right to put him out of his misery, but we must call up the Humane Society and notify them at once. They will be merciful. It is better to have him die now than live and suffer at the hands of a brutal owner, Peace. You must not cry."

For great tears of pity were coursing down the rosy cheeks, and Glen was trying his best to wipe them away with his fat little fists. Elizabeth supplied the missing handkerchief, and as Peace raised it to her face, the monkey gave a sudden convulsive shudder, the tiny paws loosed their grasp about the warm neck, and Jocko lay dead in the child's arms.

For a full moment she stared at the pitiful form, and Elizabeth expected a storm of grief and protest; but instead, the little maid drew a long, deep breath as of relief, and said soberly, "Saint John is right. Jocko is better off dead, but I'm glad he died in my arms, knowing I was good to him, 'stead of being stoned to death by those cruel boys in the tree. Where is Saint John? Has he already gone to telephone the Human Society? He needn't to now. The monkey is dead. I'll run and catch him on my way back to school. Good-bye."

She was off like a flash down the hill once more, but the preacher had either taken a different route or already reached his goal, for he was nowhere in sight. So Peace continued her way to the schoolhouse, racing like mad to make up lost time. As she panted up the steps into the dimness of the cool hall, she stumbled over a trembling figure crouching in the darkest corner by the stairway, and drew back with a startled cry, which was echoed by her victim, a frail, ragged, young urchin with a thatch of jet black curls and great, hollow, dusky eyes.

"Who are you?" demanded Peace, not recognizing him as one of the regular pupils at Chestnut School. "And what are you doing here?"

"Giuseppe Nicoli," answered the elf, looking terribly frightened and shrinking further into his corner. "Me losa monk'. He come here but gona way. W'en Petri fin', he keel me." The thin face worked pathetically as the little fellow bravely tried to stifle the sobs which shook his feeble body; and Peace, with childish instinct, understood what the waif's queer, broken English failed to tell her.

"Is Petri your father?" she asked.

"No, no, no!" He shook his head vehemently to emphasize his words.

"Then why are you afraid of him?"

"He playa de organ, me seeng, me feedle, de monk' he dance and bring in mon'. Monk' los', Petri keel me."

"The monkey is dead." The words escaped her lips before she thought, but the frozen horror on the boy's face brought her to her senses, and she hastily cried, "But he was so sick and hurt! His back was just a mess of solid sores. It is better that he is dead!"

"Oh, but Petri keel me!"

"Sh! The teachers will hear you if you screech so loud. Come upstairs with me. Miss Curtis will know what to do. She won't let Petri get you. Don't be afraid, Jessup. I wouldn't hurt you for the world."

He did not understand half that she said, but the great brown eyes were filled with sympathy, and with the same instinct which had led the monkey to leap into her arms a few moments before, the ragamuffin laid his grimy fists into hers, and she led him up the winding stairs to the principal's office.

When the worthy lady had heard the queer story, she could only stare from one child to the other and gasp for breath. Peace was noted for finding all sorts of maimed birds or sick animals on her way to school, but never before had she appeared with a human being, and Miss Curtis almost doubted now that little Giuseppe was a real human. He looked so pitifully like a scarecrow. What could she do with him? It would be criminal to let the brutal organ-player get him again if the lad's story were true, and she did not doubt its truth after the waif had slipped back his ragged sleeves and showed great, ugly, purple welts across his naked arms.

"Poor little chap," she murmured. "Poor little chap!" As she gingerly touched the bony hands, she was seized with a happy inspiration, and bidding the children sit down till she returned, she entered a little inner office, and Peace heard her at the telephone. "Give me 9275."

There was a pause; then the child grew rigid with horror. The voice from the adjoining room was saying, "Is this the Humane Society?"

It was to the Humane Society that Saint John had intended telephoning, in order that they might come up and kill the poor monkey. Was Miss Curtis a murderer? Surely Giuseppe was not to be killed, too. Then why had she telephoned the Humane Society?

Tiptoeing across the floor to the Italian waif's chair, she clutched him by the hand, dragged him to his feet, and signalling him to be quiet, she stole cautiously from the room with him in tow. Down the long stairs they hurried, and out into the bright sunshine, though poor, frightened Giuseppe protested volubly in his own tongue and the little broken English which he knew, for once on the streets, he feared that the bold, bad Petri would find him and drag him away to dreadful punishments again. But the harder he protested, the faster Peace jerked him along, repeating over and over in her frantic efforts to make him understand, "Petri shan't get you, Jessup. But if we stay there the Human Society will, and that's just as bad. They killed Deacon Skinner's old horse in Parker, and Tim Shandy's lame cow, and were coming to finish Jocko when he died of his own self. You don't want to go the same way, do you?"

Poor Peace did not know the real mission of the Humane Society, or she would not have been so shocked at the idea of little Giuseppe's falling into their hands; but her fear had its effect upon the struggling urchin, and his feet fairly flew over the ground, as he tried to keep pace with his leader. When only half a block from the parsonage, Peace abruptly halted, and the boy's dark eyes looked into hers inquiringly, fearfully. What was the matter now? This was certainly a queer child at his side. Perhaps it would have been wiser had he stayed with the gentle-faced lady in the schoolhouse.

"Run," he urged, tugging at her hand when she continued to stand motionless in the middle of the walk. "Petri geta me."

"No, no, Petri shan't have you, I say!" Peace declared savagely. "But if I take you home to Saint Elspeth, like as not the Human Society will be right there to nab you; and if they ain't now, Miss Curtis will send 'em along as soon as she finds we've run away. Where can I take you?"

Anxiously she looked about her for a hiding place, and as if in answer to her question, her glance rested upon the stone house, surrounded by its tall hedges. "Sure enough! Why didn't I think of that before? My Lilac Lady will take care of you, I know, until Saint John can find some nice place for you to live always. Come on this way."

She whisked around the corner, threw open the gate, and ushered the trembling waif into the splendid garden, with the announcement, "Here is the place I mean, and there is the Lilac Lady under the trees."

The boy surveyed the masses of brilliant flowers, the sparkling fountain, the shifting shadows of the great oaks above him where birds were singing. Then he turned and scanned the white, sweet face among the pillows, and clasping his thin hands in rapture, he breathed, "Italy! Oh, eet iss Paradise!" And as if unable to restrain his joy any longer, he burst into a wild, plaintive song, with a voice silvery toned and clear as a bell. Peace paused in the midst of a turbulent explanation to listen; Aunt Pen came to the door with her sewing in her hand; Hicks stole around the corner of the house, thinking perhaps the young mistress had broken her long silence; and the lame girl herself lay with parted lips, charmed by the glorious burst of melody.

The song won her heart, even before she heard the pitiful story of the wretched little musician, and when Peace had finished recounting the morning's events, the mistress of the stone house turned toward her aunt with blazing, wrathful eyes, exclaiming impetuously, "Isn't that shocking? Oh, how dreadful! We must help him, Aunt Pen. Poor little Giuseppe! See the Humane Society about him at once—Now don't look so horrified, Peace. They don't kill little boys and girls. They take good care of just such waifs as this, and provide nice homes for them. Even if Giuseppe were related to Petri, the Humane Society would take the child away from him on account of his brutality. He is worse than a beast to treat the boy so, and Giuseppe shall never go back to him as long as I can do anything. He shall go to school like other children and get an education. Then we'll make a splendid musician of him; and who knows, Peace, but some day he will be a second Campanini?"

Peace had not the faintest idea of what a Campanini was, but she did understand that Giuseppe Nicoli had found a home and friends, and she was content.



Peace was panic stricken. Almost at the last minute Miss Peyton had changed her mind about the poem which she was to speak, and had given her instead of "The Children's Hour" which she had so carefully learned, those other lines called "Children"; and there were only five days in which to learn them. Memorizing poetry, particularly when she could not quite understand its meaning, was not Peace's strong forte, and it was small wonder that she was dismayed at this change of program; but it was useless to protest. When Miss Peyton decided to do a certain thing, "all the king's horses and all the king's men" could not alter her decision. Peace had learned this from bitter experience and many hours in the dark closet behind the teacher's desk. So, inwardly raging, though outwardly calm, she accepted her fate, and marched home to air her outraged sense of justice before the little parsonage family, sure of sympathy and help in that quarter. Nor was she disappointed.

Elizabeth recognized the small maid's failings as a student, and was much provoked at Miss Peyton's want of understanding, but very wisely kept these sentiments to herself, and set about to help Peace in her difficult task. At her suggestion, the young elocutionist waited until the following morning before beginning her study of the new lines, and with the teacher's copied words in her hand, went out to the hammock under the trees to be alone with her work. There she sat swinging violently to and fro, gabbling the stanzas line by line, while she ferociously jerked the short curls on her forehead and frowned so fiercely that Elizabeth, busy with her Saturday baking, could not resist smiling whenever she chanced to pass the door, through which she could see the familiar figure.

Slower and slower the red lips moved, lower and lower the hammock swung, and finally with a gesture of utter despair, Peace cast the paper from her, and dropped her head dejectedly into her hands.

"Poor youngster," murmured the flushed cook from the window where she sat picking over berries. "John, have you a minute to spare? Peace is in trouble—Oh, nothing but that new poem, but I thought perhaps you might invent some easy way for her to memorize it. You were always good at such things, and I can't stop until my cake is out of the oven and the pies are made."

He assented promptly, and strolling out of the door as if for a breath of fresh air, wandered across the grass to the motionless figure in the hammock. "What seems to be the matter, chick?" he inquired cheerfully, rescuing the discarded paper from the dirt and handing it back to its owner.

"Oh, Saint John, this is a perfectly dreadful poem! I don't b'lieve Longfellow ever wrote it, and even if he did, I know I can never learn it. The verses haven't any sense at all. Just listen to this!" She seized the sheet with an angry little flirt, and read to the amazed man:

"'Ye open the eastern windows,
That look toward the sun,
Where shots are stinging swallows
And the brooks in mourning run.
"'What the leaves are to the forest,
Where light and air are stewed,
Ere their feet and slender juices
Have been buttoned into food,—
"'That to the world are children;
Through them it feels the glow
Of a brighter and stunnier slimate
Than scratches the trunks below.
"'Ye are better than all the ballots
That ever were snug and dead;
For ye are living poets,
And all the blest ate bread.'"

With difficulty the preacher controlled his desire to shout, and mutely held out his hand for the paper, which he studied long and carefully, for even to his experienced eyes, the hastily scribbled words were hard to decipher. But when he had finished, all he said was, "You have misread the lines, Peace. Wait and I will get you the book from the library. Then you will see your mistake."

Shaking with suppressed mirth he went back to his study, found the volume in question, and returned to the discouraged student with it open in his hands. Half-heartedly Peace reached up for it, but he shook his head, knowing how easy it was for her to misread even printed words and what ludicrous blunders it often led to, and gravely suggested, "Suppose I read it to you first. Then if there is anything you do not understand, perhaps I can explain it so it will be easier to memorize."

"Oh, if you just would!" Peace exclaimed gratefully. "I never could read Miss Peyton's writing, and then she marks me down for her own mistakes."

So in sonorous tones, the preacher read the poet's beautiful tribute to childhood:

"'Come to me, O ye children!
For I hear you at your play,
And the questions that perplexed me
Have vanished quite away.
"'Ye open the eastern windows,
That look towards the sun,
Where thoughts are singing swallows
And the brooks of morning run.
"'In your hearts are the birds and the sunshine,
In your thoughts the brooklet's flow,
But in mine is the wind of Autumn
And the first fall of the snow.
"'Ah! what would the world be to us
If the children were no more?
We should dread the desert behind us
Worse than the dark before.
"'What the leaves are to the forest,
With light and air for food,
Ere their sweet and tender juices
Have been hardened into wood,—
"'That to the world are children;
Through them it feels the glow
Of a brighter and sunnier climate
Than reaches the trunks below.
"'Come to me, O ye children!
And whisper in my ear
What the birds and the winds are singing
In your sunny atmosphere.
"'For what are all our contrivings,
And the wisdom of our books,
When compared with your caresses,
And the gladness of your looks?
"'Ye are better than all the ballads
That ever were sung or said;
For ye are living poems,
And all the rest are dead.'"

"Well," breathed Peace in evident relief, as he lingeringly repeated the last stanza, "that sounds a little more like it. Maybe with that book I can learn her old poem now."

"Those are beautiful verses, Peace," he rebuked her.

"Yes, I 'xpect they are. I haven't got any grudge against the verses, but it takes a beautifully long time for me to learn anything like that, too." She seized the fat volume with both hands, tipped back among the hammock cushions, and with her feet swinging idly back and forth, began an animated study of the right version of the words, while the minister strolled back to the house to enjoy the joke with Elizabeth.

But though Peace studied industriously and faithfully during the remaining days, she could not seem to master the lines in spite of all the minister's coaching, and in spite of Miss Peyton's struggle with her after school each day.

"There is no sense in making such hard work of a simple little poem like that," declared the teacher, closing her lips in a straight line and looking very much exasperated after an hour's battle with the child Tuesday afternoon. "You have just made up your mind that you will learn it, and that is where the whole trouble lies."

"That's where you are mistaken," sobbed Peace forlornly, though her eyes flashed with indignation as she wiped away her tears. "It's you which has got her mind made up, and you and me ain't the same people. I just can't seem to make those words stick, and I might as well give up trying right now."

"You will have that poem perfectly learned tomorrow afternoon, or I shall know the reason why."

"Then I 'xpect you'll have to know the reason why," gulped the unhappy little scholar, who found the hill of knowledge very steep to climb. "You can't make a frog fly if you tried all your life. It takes me a month to learn as big a poem as that, and you never gave it to me until Friday afternoon."

"Nine four-line stanzas!" snapped the weary instructor, privately thinking Peace the greatest, trial she had ever had to endure.

"It might as well be ninety," sighed the child. "If Elizabeth was my teacher, or the Lilac Lady, I could get it in no time, but I never could learn anything for some people. Just the sight of them knocks everything I know clean out of my head."

Longfellow slammed shut with a terrific bang, and Miss Peyton rose from her chair, choking with indignation. "You may go now, Peace Greenfield," she said icily, "but that poem must be perfect by tomorrow afternoon, remember."

So with a heavy heart Peace trudged home and took up her struggle once more in the hammock; but was at last rewarded by being able to say every line perfectly and without much hesitation. Elizabeth and her spouse both heard her repeat it many times that evening and again the next morning, and sent her on her way rejoicing to think the task was conquered.

But when it came to the afternoon's rehearsal, poor Peace could only stare at the ceiling, and open and shut her lips in agony, waiting for the words which would not come, while Miss Peyton impatiently tapped the floor with her slippered toe and frowned angrily at the miserable figure. Finally Peace blurted out, "P'raps if you'd go out of the room, I could say it all right."

"You will say it all right with me in the room!" retorted the woman grimly.

"Then s'posing you look out of the window and quit staring so hard at me. All I can think of is that scowl, and it doesn't help a bit."

The dazed teacher shifted her gaze, and Peace slowly began, "'Come to me, O ye children!'" speaking very distinctly and with more expression than Miss Peyton had thought possible.

"There!" exclaimed the woman, much mollified, when the child had finished. "I knew you could say it if you wanted to. Now try it again."

So with the teacher staring out of the window, and Peace gazing at the ceiling, the poem was recited without a flaw six times in succession, and she was finally excused to put in some more practice at home.

Elizabeth thought the day was won, but poor Peace took little comfort in the knowledge that she had acquitted herself creditably at the last rehearsal. "It would be different if that was tomorrow afternoon," she sighed. "But I just know she'll look at me when I get up to speak, and with her eyes boring holes through me, I'll be sure to forget some part of it. None of my other teachers were like her a bit. Miss Truesdale and Miss Olney and Miss Allen all liked children; but I don't b'lieve Miss Peyton does. There's lots of the scholars that she ain't going to let pass, and the only reason they didn't have better lessons is 'cause she scares it out of 'em. Oh, dear, school is such a funny thing!"

"Would you like to have me come to visit you tomorrow?" suggested Elizabeth, who dreaded the ordeal almost as much as did Peace.

"No, you needn't mind. S'posing I should make a frizzle of everything, you'd feel just terribly, I know, and I should, too. I guess it will be bad enough with all the other mothers there. But I wish there wasn't going to be any exercises. I'm sick of 'em already. And what do you think now! She told us only this afternoon that we must all have an antidote for some of the Presidents to tell tomorrow for General Lesson."

"A what!"

"An antidote. A short story about some of the Presidents of the United States."

"You mean anecdote, child. I didn't suppose you were old enough to be studying history in your room."

"Oh, this ain't hist'ry! We have a calendar each month telling what big men or women were born and why. Then teacher tells us something about their lives. Lots of 'em are very int'resting, but I can't remember which were Presidents and which were only manner-fracturers. That's my trouble."

"Well, it just happens that I can help you out there, my girlie," smiled Elizabeth, smoothing the damp curls back from the flushed cheeks. "John has a book in his library of just such things as that. We'll get it and hunt up some nice, new stories that aren't hoary with age."

The volume was quickly found, and several quaint anecdotes were selected for the next day's program, so if by chance other pupils had come prepared with some of them, there would be still others for Peace to choose from. And when school-time came the next day, she departed almost happily, with the Presidential book tucked under one arm and the well-fingered Longfellow under the other; for she meant to make sure that the words were fresh in her mind before her turn came to recite.

The session began very auspiciously with some happy songs, and Peace's spirits rose. Then came the drawing lesson. Peace was no more of an artist than she was an elocutionist, but she tried hard, and was working away industriously trying to paint the group of grape leaves Miss Peyton had arranged on her desk, when one of the little visitors slipped from his seat in his mother's lap and wandered across the room to his sister's desk, which chanced to be directly in front of Peace; so he could easily see what she was doing. He watched her in silence a moment, and then demanded in a stage whisper, "What you d'awing?"

"Grape leaves," Peace stopped chewing her tongue long enough to answer.

"No, they ain't neither. They's piggies."

The brown head was quickly raised from her task, and the would-be artist studied her work critically. The boy was right. They did look somewhat like a litter of curly-tailed pigs. All they needed were eyes and pointed ears. Mechanically Peace added these little touches, made the snouts a little sharper, drew in two or three legs to make them complete, and sat back in her seat to admire the result of her work.

"Ah," simpered Miss Peyton, who had chanced to look up just that minute, "Peace has finished her sketch. Bring it to the desk, please, so we may all criticize it."

Peace had just dipped her brush into the hollow of her cake of red paint, intending to make the piggies' noses pink, but at this startling command from the teacher, she seemed suddenly turned to an icicle. What could she do? She glanced around her in an agony of despair, saw no loophole of escape, and gathering up the unlucky sketch, she stumbled up the aisle to the desk, still holding her scarlet-tipped paint brush in her hand.

Usually Miss Peyton examined the drawings herself before calling upon the scholars to criticise; but this was the last day of school, and the program was long; so she smiled her prettiest, and said sweetly, "Hold it up for inspection, Peace."

Miserably Peace faced the roomful of scholars and parents, and extended the drawing with a trembling hand. There was an ominous hush, and then the whole audience broke into a yell of laughter. Miss Peyton's face flushed scarlet, and holding out her hand she said sharply, "Give it to me."

Peace wheeled about and dropped the sheet of pigs upon the desk, but at that unfortunate moment, the paint-brush slipped from her grasp and spilled a great, scarlet blot on the teacher's fresh white waist. Dismayed, Peace could only stare at the ruin she had wrought, having forgotten all about her drawing in wondering what punishment would follow this second calamity; and Miss Peyton had to speak twice before she came to her senses enough to know that she was being ordered to her seat.

"Oh," she gasped in mingled surprise and relief, "lemon juice and salt will take that stain out, if it won't fade away with just washing."

Again an audible titter ran around the room, and the teacher, furiously red, repeated for the third time, "Take your seat, Peace Greenfield!"

Much mortified and confused, the child subsided in her place and tried to hide her burning cheeks behind the covers of her volume of anecdotes, but fate seemed against her, for Miss Peyton promptly ordered the paint boxes put away, the desks cleared, and the scholars to be prepared to tell the stories they had found. Now it happened that generous-hearted Peace had lent her book of Presidential reminiscences to several of her less lucky mates that noon, and as she was one of the last to be called upon, she listened with dismay as one after another of the tales she had taken so much pains to learn were repeated by other scholars.

In order that all might hear what was said, each pupil marched to the front of the room, told his little story and returned noiselessly to his seat; so when it came Peace's turn, she stalked bravely up the aisle, faced the throng of scared, perspiring children and beaming mothers, made a profound bow, and said, "George Washington was pock-marked."

She was well on her way to her seat again, when Miss Peyton's crisp tones halted her: "Peace, you surely have something more than that. Have you forgotten?"

"No, ma'am. I lent my stories to the rest of the scholars this noon and they have already spoke all I knew, 'xcept those that are hairy with age. Everyone knows that George Washington was bled to death by over-jealous doctors."

The harder Peace tried to do her best, the more blundering she became; and now, feeling that the visitors were having great fun at her expense, she sank into her seat and buried her face in her arms, swallowing hard to keep back the tears that stung her eyes.

Directly, she heard Patty Fellows reciting, "The Psalm of Life," and Sara Gray answer to her name with, "The Castle-Builder." Next, the children sang another song, and then—horror of horrors!—Miss Peyton called her name. It was too bad! Any other teacher would have excused her, but she knew Miss Peyton never would. So with a final gulp, she struggled to her feet and advanced once more to the platform.

Her heart beat like a trip-hammer, her breath came in gasps, and her mind seemed an utter blank. "'Come to me,'" prompted the teacher, perceiving for the first time the child's panic and distress; but Peace did not understand that this was her cue, and with a despairing glance at the immovable face behind the desk, she cried hastily, "Oh, not this time! I've thunk of it now. Here goes!

"'Between the dark and the daylight
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupation,
That is known as the Children's Hour.'"

Verse after verse she repeated glibly, racing so rapidly that the words fairly tumbled out of her mouth. Suddenly the dreadful thought came to her. She had begun the wrong poem! Her voice faltered; she turned pleading, glassy eyes toward the teacher; and Miss Peyton, misunderstanding the cause of her hesitation, again prompted, "'They climb—'"

Peace was hopelessly lost.

"'They climb up onto the target,'"

She recited in feverish tones:

"'O'er my arms and the back of my hair;
If I try to e-scrape, they surround me;
They scream to me everywhere,'"

Someone tittered; the ripple of mirth broke into a peal of laughter; and with a despairing sob, Peace cried, "Oh, teacher, I've got the stage-strike! I can't say another word!" And out of the room she rushed like a wounded bird.

Usually Elizabeth was her comforter, but this day some blind instinct led her to take refuge in the Enchanted Garden, and she sobbed out her sorrow and humiliation in the skirts of her beloved Lilac Lady.

Peace in tears was a new sight for the invalid, and she was alarmed at the wild tempest of grief. But the small philosopher could not be unhappy long, and after a few moments the tears ceased, the storm was spent, a flushed, swollen face peeped up at the anxious eyes above her, and with a familiar, queer little grimace, she giggled, "I made 'em all laugh, anyway, and they did look awful solemn and funerally lined up there against the wall. But I s'pose teacher won't let me pass now, and I'll have to take this term all over again."

"Tell me about it," said the lame girl gently, stroking the damp curls on the round, brown head in her lap.

So Peace faithfully recounted the day's events to the amusement and indignation of her lone audience; but when she had finished, she sighed dolefully. "The worst of it is, I've got to go back to school tomorrow for my books and dismissal card. Oh, mercy, yes! And Miss Peyton has got my Longfellow. I don't b'lieve I can ever ask her for it, even if it is Saint John's."

"Oh, yes, you can," assured the Lilac Lady. "By the time tomorrow comes, the teacher will have forgotten all about the mistakes of today."

"It's very plain that you don't know Miss Peyton," was the disconcerting reply. "There's nothing she ever forgets. My one comfort is I won't have to go to school to her next year even if she doesn't let me pass now, 'cause by that time the girls will all be well and I can go home again. There's always a grain of comfort in every bit of trouble, grandma says."

"Sca-atter sunshine, all along the wa-ay," sang the lame girl, surprised out of her long silence in her anxiety to cajole her little playmate into her happy self again; but Peace did not even hear the rich sweetness of the voice, so surprised was she to have her motto turned upon her in that manner, and for a few moments she sat so lost in thought that the lame girl feared she had offended her, and was about to beg her forgiveness when the round face lifted itself again, and Peace exclaimed, "That's what I'll do! Tomorrow, when I have to go back for my card, I'll offer to kiss her good-bye, and I'll tell her I'm sorry I've been such a bother to her all these weeks. I never thought about it before, but I s'pose she's just been in ag-o-ny over having me upset all her plans like I've managed to do, though I never meant to. The worse I try to follow what she tells us to do, the bigger chase I lead her. My, what a time she must have had! Do you think she she'd like to hear I'm sorry?"

"What a darling you are!" thought the lame girl. "I don't wonder everyone loves you so much." But aloud she merely answered heartily, "I think it is a beautiful plan, dear. When she understands that you have tried your best to please her, I am sure she will be kind to my little curly-head."

So it happened that when Peace received her dismissal card from Miss Peyton the next morning, she lifted her rosy mouth for a kiss, and murmured contritely, "I'm very sorry you have caused me so much bother since I came here to school, but next term I won't be here, for which you bet I'm thankful." She had rehearsed that little speech over and over on her way to school; but, as usual, when she came to say it to this argus-eyed teacher, she juggled her pronouns so thoroughly that no one could have been sure just what she did mean.

However, Miss Peyton had done some hard thinking since the previous afternoon, and a little glimmer of understanding was beginning to penetrate her methodical, order-loving soul, so she stooped and kissed the forgiving lips raised to hers, as she said heartily, "That is all right, my child. I wish I could erase all the troubles that have marred these days for you. I am sorry I did not know as much three months ago as I do now."

"I am, too, but folks are never too old to learn, grandpa says," Peace answered happily, and departed with beaming countenance, for Miss Peyton had "passed her" after all.



It had been decided that Giuseppe Nicoli was to live at the stone house and be educated as the Lilac Lady's protégé.

The Humane Society had thoroughly investigated the case and found that the poor little waif was an orphan, whom greedy-eyed Petri had taken in charge on account of his unusual musical talent. There were no relatives on this side of the water to claim the homeless lad, and those in old Italy were too poor to be burdened with his keep; so the Society gladly listened to the lame girl's plea, and gave Giuseppe into her keeping.

It would be hard to tell which was the more jubilant over his good fortune, the child himself, or Peace, who was never tired of rehearsing the story of his rescue from the brutal organ-grinder's clutches. So the minute she knew that the big house was to be his future home, she raced off to the corner drug store to telephone the good news to Allee and the rest at home, who were much interested in the doings at the little parsonage, and only regretted that the Hill Street Church was not yet able to afford a telephone of its own, for Peace could make only one trip daily to the drug store, and often the girls thought of something else they wanted to ask her after she had rung off. Also, the drug clerk was sometimes impolite enough to tell Peace that she was talking too long, and that does leave one so embarrassed.

This day, however, he had no occasion for uttering a word of complaint, for after a surprised exclamation and three or four rapid questions of the speaker at the other end of the line, Peace banged the receiver on its hook, and turned rebellious eyes on the idle clerk lolling behind the counter, saying, "Now, what do you think of that?"

"What?" drawled the man, who was in his element when he could tease someone. "Do you take me for a mind reader?"

"I sh'd say not!" she answered crossly. "It takes folks with brains to read other folks' minds."

"Whew!" he whistled, delighted with the encounter. "Your claws are out today. What seems to be the matter?"

"Grandpa has taken grandma and the little girls to the Pine Woods without so much as saying a word to me about it; and Gail and Faith have gone to the lake with the Sherrars and never invited me."

"If the whole family is away, who is keeping house?"

"Gussie and Marie, of course. Who'd you s'pose? Grandma told Gussie that when I called up she was to 'xplain matters to me so's I'd understand how it all happened and not feel bad about their going off. Gail and Faith went first. I 'xpected that part of it, but none of 'em ever hinted a word to me about the Pine Woods. I s'pose they've lived so long without me at home that they've got used to it and so don't care any more about me."

Two tears stole out from under the twitching lids and rolled down the chubby cheeks. The clerk moved uneasily. He did hate to see anyone cry, but had not the slightest idea how to avert the threatened deluge. As his eye roved about the small store for something to divert her attention, it chanced to rest upon the candy cabinet, and hastily diving into the case, he brought forth a handful of tempting chocolates, and presented them with the tactful remark, "Aw, you're cross; have some candy to sweeten you up!"

The brown eyes winked away the tears and blazed scornfully up at the face above her. "Keep it yourself! You need it!" she growled savagely, pushing the extended hand away from her so fiercely that the candy was scattered all about the floor, and without a backward glance, she flounced out of the store.

"Well, I vum!" exclaimed the astonished clerk. "Next time I'll let her bawl." Stooping over to collect the hapless chocolate drops before they should be tramped upon, he began to whistle, and the notes followed Peace out on the street—just a bar of her sunshine song, but the woe-begone face brightened a bit, although the girl said to herself, "Oh, dear, seems 'sif that song chases me wherever I go. I get it sung or whistled or spoke at me a dozen times a day. And it's hard work always to remember it, 'specially when folks go off and forget all about you when you've just been counting the days till 'twas time to go home and see Allee and grandpa after being away so long. S'posing I should die 'fore they get back, I wonder how they'll feel. Why, Peace Greenfield, you hateful little tike! Ain't you ashamed of yourself? Yes, I am. Of course they didn't run away a-purpose. Grandpa didn't know he had to go until an hour 'fore the train went, and there wasn't time to send for me and get my clo'es ready to go, too. It was awful nice of him to think of taking the girls and grandma to the Pine Woods to get real well and rested while he did up his business in Dolliver. They'll come back lots better than they'd be if they had to stay here through all this hot.

"Think of being shut up three months in the house so's they couldn't plant gardens or go flower-hunting, or have picnics, or even go to school! I've been doing all those things while they've been sick. I'm truly 'shamed of myself to be so cross about their going off. Elizabeth and Saint John are just the dearest people to me, and the Lilac Lady really cried tears in her eyes when she thought I was going to leave here Monday. She'll be glad to know that I am to stay two or three weeks longer. And it will be such fun to get letters from the girls in the woods all the while they are gone. After all, I b'lieve I'll have a better time here anyway."

The cloud had passed over without the threatened storm, and the round face, though still a little sober, looked quite contented again. But during this silent soliloquy, the young philosopher had been wandering aimlessly through the streets, without any thought of the direction she was taking, and was suddenly roused from her revery by the mingled shouts and laughter of a throng of boys and girls playing noisily in a great yard fenced in by tall iron pickets.

"Why, school is closed for the summer!" murmured Peace to herself, pressing her face against the iron bars in order that she might watch the lively games on the other side of the palings. "Elizabeth says all the Martindale schools close at the same time. What can these children be doing here then? P'raps this is where the old lady who lived in a shoe had to move to when the shoe got too small for her fambly. Do you s'pose it is?"

"Yup, I guess that's how it happened," answered a voice close beside her, and she jumped almost out of her shoes in her surprise, for unconsciously she had spoken her thoughts aloud, and a merry-faced urchin, sprawled in the shade of a low-limbed box-elder, had answered her. His peal of delight at having startled her so brought another lad and two girls to see the cause of his glee, and Peace was shocked to behold in the smaller of the girls her own double, only the stranger child was dressed in a long blue apron, which made her look much older than she really was. As the children stood staring at each other through the close-set pickets, the boy in the grass discovered the likeness of the two faces, and with a startled whoop sat up to ask excitedly of Peace, "Did you ever have a twin?"


"Oh, dear, I was sure you must have! You're just the yimage of Lottie. She's a norphan, and the folks that brought her here didn't even know what her real name was or anything about her, and we've always 'magined that some day her truly people would come and find her and she'd have a mother of her own."

"Is this a—a school?" asked Peace. She wanted to say orphan asylum, but was afraid it would be impolite, and she did not wish to offend any of these friendly appearing children.

"It's the Children's Home."

"Who owns it?"

"Why—er—I don't know," stammered the second youth, who seemed the oldest of the quartette inside the fence.

"I guess the splintered ladies do," remarked the cherub in the grass.

"The wh-at?"

"Tony's trying to be smart now," said the larger girl scornfully. "The Lady Board is meeting today, and he always calls them the splintered ladies."

"What is a Lady Board?" inquired mystified Peace, thinking this was the queerest home she had ever heard tell of.

"Why, they are the ladies who say how things shall be done here—"

"The number of times we can have butter each week and how much milk each of us can drink, and the number of potatoes the cook shall fix," put in the boy called Tony.

"Don't you have butter every day!" cried Peace in shocked surprise.

"Well, I guess not! We have it Sunday noons and sometimes holiday nights."

"And we never have sugar on our oatmeal, or sauce to eat with our bread," added Lottie, shaking her curls dolefully.

"What do you eat, then?"

"Oh, bread and milk, and mush of some kind, or rice, and potatoes and vegetables and meat once a week and pie or pudding real seldom."

"Who takes care of you?" asked Peace again after a slight pause.

"The matron and nurses."

"What's a matron?"

"The boss of the caboose," grinned Tony irreverently.

"Is she nice?"

"That's what we're waiting to find out. She's just come, you see, and we don't know her real well yet. The other one was a holy fright."

"But the new one looks nice," said Lottie loyally. "She smiles all the time, and Miss Cooper never did. She always looked froze."

"She must be like Miss Peyton. She was my teacher at Chestnut School and I didn't like her a bit till the day school ended. She did get thawed out then, though, and I b'lieve she'll be nicer after this."

"Do you live near here?" asked Tony, thinking it was their turn to ask questions of this debonair little stranger, who evidently belonged to rich people, because her brown curls were tied back with a huge pink ribbon, a dainty white pinafore covered her pretty gingham dress, and her feet were shod in patent leather slippers.

"No, grandpa's house is three miles away, but I am staying at the Hill Street parsonage." Briefly she explained how it had all come about, and the story seemed like a fairy tale to the four eager listeners.

"Then you are an orphan, too," cried Tony triumphantly, when she had finished. "How do you know Lottie ain't your twin sister?"

"'Cause there never were any twins in our family, and if there had been, do you s'pose mother'd have let one loose like that, to get put in a Children's Home? I guess not!"

"Maybe she's a cousin, then."

"We haven't got any. Papa was the only child Grandpa Greenfield had, and mother's only brother died when he was little."

"But Lottie's just the yimage of you," insisted Tony, bent on discovering some tie of relationship between the two.

"I can't help that. I guess it's just a queerity, though I'd like to find out I had some sure-enough cousins which I didn't know anything about. Besides, Lottie is lots darker than me. Her hair is black and so are her eyes. Least I guess they are what you'd call black. Mine are only brown."

"You're the same size. Ain't they, Ethel?" asked the older lad.

"Yes, that was what I was thinking. I don't believe many folks would know them apart if they changed clothes."

"Oh, let's do it!" cried Peace, charmed with the suggestion. "We've got a book at home that tells how a little beggar boy changed places with a prince, and they had the strangest 'xperiences! It'll be lots of fun to fool the others. They haven't been paying any 'tention to our talking here. Where's the gate?"

"At the other side of the yard. There's only one—"

"But visitors aren't allowed to come and play with us without a permit from the matron," began the larger boy, cautiously.

"Oh, bother, George," Tony cried impatiently. "We can't get a permit now with all the Lady Boards here, and you know it."

"Why not?" asked Peace.

"'Cause Miss Chase is busy with them in the parlors and we can't see her till they are gone."

"How long will that be?"

"Oh, hours, maybe."

"Then I'll come in now and get my permit later."

Without waiting to hear what comments they might have to make about this plan, she flew around the corner Tony had indicated a moment before, and in through the great iron gates, standing slightly ajar. Following the wide walks leading from the front yard to the back, she came to another lower gate, where Ethel and Lottie met her; and in a jiffy the white apron was exchanged for the long, blue pinafore of the black-eyed child.

"You'll have to give her your hair-ribbon, too," said Ethel, surveying the two figures critically. "We don't wear ribbons here on common days, and that would give away that you weren't really Lottie."

Peace gleefully jerked off her rampant pink bow, and the older girl deftly tied it among the raven locks of the other orphan.

Tony and George now came slowly around the corner of the building, to discover whether the visitor had really kept her promise, and were themselves puzzled to know which was their mate and which the stranger child until Peace laughed. "That's where you are different," said George, critically. "You don't sound a bit alike. Come on and see who will be first to find out the secret."

So the masqueraders were led laughingly away to meet the other children, still boisterously playing at games under the trees. It did not take the fifty pair of sharp eyes as long to discover the difference as the five plotters had hoped, but they were all just as charmed with the result, and gave Peace a royal time. She was a natural leader and her lively imagination delighted her new playmates. But Lottie, in her borrowed finery, received scant attention, and being, unfortunately, rather a spoiled child, she resented the fact that Peace had usurped her place. So she retired to the fence and pouted. At first no one noticed her sullen looks, but finally Ethel missed her, and finding her standing cross and glum in the corner, she tried to draw her into the lively game of last couple out, which the stranger had organized.

"I won't play at all," declared the jealous girl. "No one cares whether I'm here or not, and 's long as you'd rather have her, you can just have her!"

"But we wouldn't rather," fibbed the older girl. "She's our comp'ny and we have to be nice to her."

"'Cause you like her better'n you do me," insisted the other.

"No such thing! Come on and see!"

"I won't, either!"

"What's the matter?" asked Peace, hearing the excited voices and stepping out of line to learn the cause.

"Oh, Lottie's spunky," answered Ethel carelessly, turning back to join her companions.

"I'm not! You horrid thing, take that!" Out shot one little hand and the sharp nails dug vicious, cruel scratches down Ethel's cheek.

"You cat!" cried Peace, horrified at the uncalled-for act, and springing at the white-aproned figure, she caught her by the shoulder, and shook her till her teeth rattled. Lottie doubled up like a jack-knife and buried her sharp teeth in the brown hand gripping her so tightly, biting so viciously that the blood ran and Peace screamed with pain.

Frightened at the sight of the two girls clinched in battle, the other children danced excitedly about the yard and shrieked wildly. Tony even started for the matron, but remembered the Lady Board meeting, and flew instead for the new cook, busy preparing refreshments for the distinguished visitors, gasping out as he stumbled into the kitchen, "Oh, come quick! There's a strange girl in the yard and Lottie's chewing her into shoe-strings!"

Bridget was new at the business, or she would never have meddled in the affair. Glancing out of the window, she saw what looked to be a small riot in the corner, and knowing that the matron and her assistants were engaged with their visitors in the other wing of the building, she dropped her plate of sandwiches, and rushed to the rescue as fast as her avoirdupois would permit. She was familiar enough with the rules of the institution to know that the Home children did not wear white aprons and pink hair-ribbons except on special occasions, and also that fighting was severely punished. It never occurred to her that the matron was the proper authority to whom to report trouble. She made a lunge for the two struggling children, jerked them apart, shook them impartially, and blazed out in rich, Irish brogue, "Ye dirty spalpeens, phwat d'ye mane by sich disorderly conduct? It'll be a long toime afore ye'll iver git inside this fince again to play, ye black-eyed miss! Make tracks now or I'll call the p'lice! You, ye little beggar, march straight inter the house! The matron'll settle with ye good and plenty whin she gits toime!"

Both girls tried to explain, and the frightened, excited Home children shouted in vain. Irish Bridget seized the resisting Lottie, thrust her forcibly out through the gate, and hustled poor Peace into the dark entry, in spite of her protests and frantic kicking. "I'm not Lottie, I'm not Lottie!" she wailed. "I don't b'long here, I tell you!"

"I don't care if ye're Lottie or Lillie," screamed the angry cook, pinioning the struggling child and carrying her bodily up a short flight of stairs into a wide hall. "Ye've been breaking the rules by fightin' and in that room ye go! The matron'll settle with ye afther a bit. An' ye'll catch it good, too, if ye kape on screeching loike that."

Peace was dumped into a small, office-like apartment, the key turned in the lock, and she was left alone. Frantic with excitement and fear, she let out three or four piercing screams, rattled the knob, and pounded the door until her fists were sore, but no one came to release her, and after a few moments she seemed to realize how useless it was to expect help from that quarter. She looked around her prison hopefully, curiously, for some other avenue of escape. A window stood open across the room, but the screen was fastened so tightly that she could not move it even when she threw her whole weight upon it. Besides, it was a long way to the ground below. Would she dare jump if the screen were not in her way?

Then her restless eyes spied the telephone on the desk behind her, and with a shriek of triumph she seized the receiver and called breathlessly over the wire, "Hello, central! Give me the drug store where I telephone every day. Number? I don't know the number. It's on Hill Street and Twenty-ninth Avenue. What information do you want? Well, I've thunk of the drug store's name now. It's Teeter's Pharmacy, and it's on the corner—Well, I'm giving you the information 's fast as I can. My name is Peace Greenfield, and the crazy cook's taken me for someone else and shut me in when I don't b'long to this Home at all. I changed clothes with—well, what is the matter now? If you'll give me that drug store—Teeter's Pharmacy, corner of Hill Street and Twenty-ninth Avenue,—I'll have them go after Saint John, so's he can come and get me out of here. A—what? Policeman? Are you a p'liceman? No, I ain't one, and I don't want one! Do you s'pose I want to be 'rested for getting bit? Oh, dear, I don't know what you are trying to say! Ain't you central? Then why don't you give me Teeter's Pharmacy, corner of Hill Street and—now she's clicked her old machine up! Oh, how will I ever get out of here?"

Dismayed to find that central had deserted her, she puckered her face to cry, but at that moment there were hasty steps in the hall, a key grated in the lock, and the door flew open, showing a startled, white-faced woman and frightened Tony in the doorway, while a whole string of curious-eyed ladies were gathered in the hall behind them.

Silently Peace stared from one to another, and then as no one offered to speak, she asked, "Where's the cook? Have you seen her lately?"

"No," laughed the matron, very evidently relieved at her reception. "Tony tells me that a mistake has been made and that you don't belong to the Home."

"He is right, I'm thankful to say," returned Peace with such a comical, grown-up air that the ladies in the hall giggled and nudged each other, and one of them ventured to ask, "Why?"

"Just think of having to live here day after day without any butter on your bread, or gravy for your potatoes, or sugar in your oatmeal, without any pies or cakes or puddings 'cept on Sundays and special holidays,—with only mush, mush, mush all the time, and not even all the milk you wanted, maybe! Hm! I'm glad I live in a house where there ain't any Lady Boards to tell us what we have to do and what we can have to eat. Come to think of it, I'm part of a norphan 'sylum, really. There's six of us at Grandpa Campbell's but he doesn't bring us up on mush. We have all the butter and sugar and gravy and pudding and sauce that we want—"

"This isn't an orphan asylum," said the matron kindly, wondering what kind of a creature this queer child was, but already convinced that Bridget had blundered, in spite of her startling resemblance to Lottie.

"It isn't? What do you call it then?"

"It is a Home for the purpose of taking care of children who have one or both parents living, but who, for some reason, cannot be taken care of in their own homes for a time."

"Oh! Then you take the place of mother to them?"

"I try to."

"Do you like your job?"

"Very, very much!"

"You do sound 'sif you did, but I sh'd think you'd hate to sit all those little children down to butterless bread and gravyless potato and sugarless mush. Oh, I forgot! That ain't your fault. It's the Lady Board which says what you have to feed your children. Did you ever ask them—the ladies, I mean—to be common visitors and eat just what the rest of you had? I bet if you'd just try that, they'd soon send you something different! I don't see how you stay so fat and rosy with—but then you've only just come, haven't you? I s'pose there's lots of time to get thin in. I wonder if that's what is the matter with Lottie," Peace chattered relentlessly on. "She is awfully ugly today; but then I'd be, too, if I had to live on such grub. It's worse than we had at the little brown house in Parker—"

"If you will slip off that apron and come with me," interrupted the matron desperately, not daring to look at the faces of her dismayed "Lady Board," "we will find Lottie and get your own clothes so you can go home. The next time you come, be sure to get a permit first. Then this trouble won't happen again."

"Oh, will you let me come some more?"

"Aren't you Dr. Campbell's granddaughter? Tony said you were."

"Yes, he's my adopted grandpa now."

"Mrs. Campbell is interested in the Home—"

"Is she a splinter?"

"A what?"

Tony giggled and dodged behind the matron to hide his tell-tale face, and Peace, remembering Ethel's explanation, said hastily, "I mean a piece of the Lady's Board?"

"No, she is not one of the Board of Directors, if that is what you mean; but she often sends the children little treats—candy and nuts at Christmas time, or flowers from the greenhouse after the summer blossoms are gone."

"Oh, I see. She told me one time that she would take us to visit the Children's Home, but I didn't know it was this. We've got scarlet fever at our house—."

"Child alive! What are you doing here?"

"Oh, I ain't got it, and anyway, I haven't been home since our spring vacation in March. I am staying with Saint John, the new preacher at Hill Street Church, and I 'xpect if I don't get home pretty soon, he'll think I am lost, sure. I went down to the drug store to telephone grandma, and when Gussie told me they had gone to the Pine Woods, I was so mad for a time that I just boiled over. So I walked on and on till I came to this place. I never have been so far before, and I didn't know there was such a Home around here. I know they'll let me come often. There aren't many children up our way to play with and sometimes it gets lonesome. There's Lottie now! Cook must have found out that I knew what I was talking about. Here's your apron, Lottie; and say, I'm awful sorry I shook you. Will you pretend I didn't do it, and be friends with me again?"

"I—I bit you," stammered the child, as much astonished at this greeting as were the matron and the "Lady Board," who still lingered in the hall, fascinated with this frank creature, who so fearlessly voiced her own opinions of their work.

"So you did!" exclaimed Peace, in genuine surprise, glancing down at the ugly, purple bruise on her hand, which she had completely forgotten. "Well, I won't remember that any more, either. Two folks which look so much alike ought to be friends, and I want you to like me."

"I—do—like you," faltered the embarrassed child. "I'm sorry I was hateful. Here are your apron and ribbon."

"Keep the ribbon," responded Peace generously. "I s'pose I've got to take the apron back, 'cause grandpa says I mustn't give away my clothes without asking him or grandma about it, and I can't now, 'cause they are both gone away. But a hair-ribbon ain't clothes, and, anyway, that's one Frances Sherrar gave me, so I know you can have it." She pressed the pink bow back into Lottie's hand, and throwing both arms around her, kissed her fervently, saying, "I am coming again some time soon, and I'll bring you a bag of sugar and some real butter so's you can have it extra for once, even if the Lady Boards didn't order it for that p'tic'lar day. Good-bye, Mrs. Matron, and Tony, and—all the rest. I've had a good time here—till I run up against the cook, I mean. Mercy! She's strong! But I'm glad grandpa adopted us so's I didn't have to come here to live." She waved her hand gaily at them, and danced away down the walk, whistling cheerily.

"She's a quaint child!" murmured the lady who had questioned her.

"She's a trump!" declared Tony to Lottie, as they departed together for the playgrounds.

And in her heart the matron whispered, "She's a darling!"



"Oh, Elspeth, you can't guess where I've been!" shrieked Peace, puffing with excitement as she stumbled up the steps after her long run home.

"Why, I thought you were playing with Giuseppe and the Lilac Lady," replied the young mother, looking up in surprise from the little white dress she was hemstitching.

"But I went down to the drug store to telephone grandma!"

"I know you did, but I thought you stopped to tell the news at the stone house on your way home."

"What news?"

"That the invalids have run away and left you."

"How did you know that?"

"The postman came just after you left, and he brought a letter from Dr. Campbell, explaining all about it."

"Then he did take time to write, did he? I was pretty hot about it at first," Peace admitted candidly, "But I don't care at all now. I've had such a splendid time here with you all the while they've been shut up sick, that no matter how long they stay in the Pine Woods, it couldn't make up for all they've missed by not being me."

"Do you really feel that way about it, dear?" cried Elizabeth, much pleased and touched at the child's unlooked-for declaration.

"You just better b'lieve I do! Why, I've had just the nicest time! I 'xpected I'd miss seeing the girls just dreadfully, but Gail and Faith have come up every single week, and I've telephoned home 'most every day, and the rest of the time has been filled so full that I haven't minded how long I've been away at all. This must be my other home, I guess."

"You little sweetheart! I wonder if you have any idea how much we are going to miss you when grandpa takes you away again."

"Oh, yes, I 'magine I do. I make such a racket wherever I go that when I leave, the stillness seems like a hole. But don't you fret! I'm coming up here real often—just as often as grandma will let me. 'Cause I've got not only you to visit now, but the Lilac Lady and Juiceharpie and the Home children—Oh, that's what I started to tell you about when I first came up.

"I've just been there. I never knew there was a Home so near here, or I'd have been there before this. And what do you think? There's a girl living in it named Lottie, which looks so much like me that when we changed aprons the other children didn't know the difference at first. They think she must be my twin sister or some cousin I don't know anything about, though I kept telling them there weren't any cousins in our family, and if mother'd ever had twins, she'd have kept 'em both and not throwed one away to grow up without knowing who her people were. Don't you think so?"

"I most assuredly do," Elizabeth answered promptly. "Gail has often told me that your papa was an only child, and the one brother your mamma had died when he was a little fellow. So there can't be any near cousins, and you are not a twin, so Lottie isn't your sister. How did it all come about?"

The story was quickly told, to Elizabeth's mingled amusement and horror; and Peace ended by sagely remarking, "So I'm going to ask Allee if she's willing that we should use some of our Fourth of July money to buy them a treat of sugar and butter for a whole day—or a week, if it doesn't take too much, and grandpa don't sit down on the plan. I don't think he will, 'cause these children aren't fakes. They really d'serve having some good times 'casionally, and it did make them so happy to have someone extra to play with. I s'pose they get awfully tired of fighting the same children all the time. Besides, we've got lots of money in our bank, 'cause we used only about ten dollars of our furnishing money to dec'rate our room with, and the rest we saved for patriotism. I am awful glad there are such places for poor children to go to when their own people can't take care of 'em, but I do wish the Lady Boards weren't so stingy."

Elizabeth knew it would do no good to argue the matter, and besides, she was not well posted concerning this particular Home, so she merely agreed that Peace's plan would no doubt make the little folks happy, but wisely suggested that she say no more about it until she had consulted with the family at home and received their consent. "Because, you see, dear, if you make some rash promises which you can't fulfill, it will only make the children unhappy, instead of bringing sunshine into their lives."

"But isn't it a good way to spend money? They ain't beggars with bank accounts somewhere, like the old woman which got Gail's dollar last spring."

"I think it is a very nice way, dearie, and I am sure grandpa will not object a mite; but the best way is not to make any promises that we don't intend to carry out, or that we are not sure we can fulfill. Then no one will be disappointed if our plans don't come through the way we hoped they would. Do you see what I mean?"

"Yes; never promise to do anything until you're sure you can. But that would keep me from doing lots of things, Elspeth. I could not ever promise to be good, or—"

"Oh, Peace, I didn't mean that!" Elizabeth never could get accustomed to this literal streak in the small maiden's character; and, in consequence, her little preachments often received an unexpected shower-bath. "I meant not to promise to do favors for other folks unless we can and will see that they are done."

"Ain't it a favor to be good when it's easier and naturaler to be bad—not really bad, either, but just yourself?"

"No, dear. We ought to try to be good without anyone's asking us to, and just because it is easier to do wrong than right is no excuse for us at all."

Unconsciously she said this very severely, for she thought she heard Saint John chuckling behind the curtains of the study window; but Peace interpreted the lecture literally, and hastily jumping up from the step, said, "I think I'll go and tell the Lilac Lady about the children, and see if she hasn't got more roses than she knows what to do with, 'cause I know they'd like 'em at the Home. Do you care?"

"No, Peace. Glen is asleep. But don't stay long, for it is nearly five o'clock now, and tea will soon be ready."

"All right. I'll bring you some roses for the table if she has any to spare today, and she ought to, 'cause the pink and white bushes have just begun to open."

She whisked out of sight around the corner in a twinkling, and was soon perched on the stool beside the lame girl's chair, regaling her with an account of the afternoon's adventures.

The white signal fluttering from the lilac bushes had been discarded long ago, and Peace was welcome whenever she came now, for with her peculiar childish instinct, she seemed to know when the invalid found her chatter wearisome. At such times she would sit in the grass beside the chair, silently weaving clover chains, or wander quietly about the premises, revelling in the beauty and perfume of the garden flowers, or better still, whistling softly the sweet tunes which the pain-racked body always found so soothing.

But this afternoon the young mistress of the stone house was lonely, for Aunt Pen and Giuseppe were in town shopping, and she wished to be amused; so Peace was doubly welcome, and felt very much flattered at the attention her lengthy story received. To tell the truth of the matter, the lame girl had just discovered how cunningly the small, round face was dimpled, and in watching these little Cupid's love kisses come and go with the child's different expressions and moods, she did not hear a word that was said until Peace heaved a great, sympathetic sigh, and closed her tale with the remark, "And so I'm going to see if I can't take them some—enough to last a week maybe—for it must be dreadful to eat bread and potatoes every day without any butter or gravy."

The older girl roused herself with a start, and promptly began asking questions in such an adroit fashion that in a moment or two she had the gist of the whole story, and was much interested in the picture Peace drew of the Home children's life. "Why, do you know, I used to go there with Aunt Pen—years ago—to carry flowers and trinkets, and sometimes to sing. My! How glad they used to be! They would sit and listen with eyes and mouths wide open as if they simply couldn't get enough. Aunt Pen used to be quite interested in the Home. Poor Aunt Pen! She gave up all her pet hobbies when I was hurt."

"Didn't you like to go?"

"Oh, it was flattering to have such an appreciative audience, of course; but—my ambitions soared higher than that. They were as well satisfied with a hand-organ."

"Oh, Tony ain't! And neither is Ethel! They both just love music, and they kept me whistling until I was tired. And how they do love stories! I 'magined for them till my thinker ran empty. I couldn't help wishing I was you, so's I could tell them all the beau-ti-ful fancies you make up as you lie here under the trees day in and day out. I told 'em about you and pictured this garden for 'em, and the flowers which Hicks cuts by the bushel-basket, and Juiceharpie which plays the fiddle and dances and sings like a cheer-up—"

"A cherub, do you mean? Giuseppe is inconsolable to think he can't teach you to say his name correctly."

"Yes, and I'm the same thing to think he's got such a name that won't be said right. He doesn't like Jessup any better. But never mind, I know he'd like Tony and the other Home boys; and I thought maybe you would let him go some day and play for the children there. Miss Chase is awfully sweet and nice, even if she is fat, and she'd be tickled to pieces to give him a permit any time he could come."

The lame girl laid a thin, waxen hand on the curly head bobbing so enthusiastically at her side, and murmured gently, "How do you think up so many beautiful things to do for other people?"

"I don't," Peace frankly replied. "I guess they just think themselves. You see, I know what it is to be poor and not have nice things like other folks, and now that grandpa's taken us home to live with him in a great, big house where there's always plenty and enough to spare, seems like it was just the proper thing to give some of it away to make the less forchinit a little happier. It takes such a little to make folks smile!"

"Indeed it does, little philosopher. Your name should have been Lady Bountiful. Giuseppe may go with you to the Home as often as he wishes with his violin, and help you make them happy."

"Oh, you're such a darling!" cried Peace in ecstasy, hugging the hand between her own pink palms. "I wish you could go, too. Tony says they have song services every Sunday afternoon, and they are great! I'm to go next Sunday and hear them, but I wish you could, too."

"You are very generous," murmured the lame girl a trifle huskily. Then—perhaps it was because Peace's enthusiasm was contagious, perhaps it was due to a growing desire in her own heart for the world from which she had shut herself so long ago—the older girl suddenly electrified her companion by adding, "I should like to hear them myself. Do you think the matron would allow them to visit me in my garden, seeing that I can't go to the Home as other folks do?"

"Oh, do you mean that?"

"Every word!"

"Miss Chase couldn't say no to anything so beautiful, and I don't think the Lady Boards would object, either; but I'll find out. Saint John can tell me, I'm sure. Oh, I never dreamed of anything so lovely! I wouldn't have dared dream it!" She hugged herself in rapture, and her eyes beamed like stars. How grand it was to have friends like the Lilac Lady!

So it came about that a few days later fifty shining-faced, bright-eyed boys and girls from the Home marched proudly up Hill Street and in through the great iron gates to the Enchanted Garden, where the lame girl, with Aunt Pen and the parsonage household to assist her, waited to greet them.

That was a gala day, talked about for weeks afterward, dreamed of in the silent watches of the night, and recorded in memory's treasure book to be lived over again and again in later years,—one of those heart's delights, the fragrance of which never dies.

The Home children were charmed with the beautiful garden and its cool fountain, just as Peace had known they would be, and the frail young hostess was as charmed with her guests. They had games on the wide lawn, they sang their sweet, happy choruses, Giuseppe played and danced, Peace and the preacher whistled, Elizabeth told them stories, and Aunt Pen surprised them all by serving sparkling frappé with huge slices of fig cake, such as only Minnie, the cook, could make. Then, as the afternoon drew to a close, and the matron began lining up her charges for the homeward walk, Tony and Lottie stepped out of the ranks and sang a pretty little verse of thanks for the good time all had enjoyed.

So surprised was the Lilac Lady at this unexpected little turn, that for an instant her eyes grew misty with unshed tears; then she smiled happily, and obeying a sudden impulse, she lifted her voice and carolled,

"Come again, my little friends,
You have brought me joy today;
In my heart you've left a hymn
That shall linger, live alway."

"Oh, my!" cried Peace, squeezing Elizabeth's hand in her astonishment and pleasure, "is it an angel singing?"

"Your Lilac Lady, dear. Didn't you know she could sing?"

"She told me she used to once, but I never heard her before."

"At college she was our lark. How we loved that voice! I think, little girl, you have saved a soul."

But Peace did not hear the words. She was joining in the wild applause that greeted this burst of melody from the long silent throat. Everyone had been taken by surprise, the children were dancing with delight, the matron's homely face was beaming, Aunt Pen's lips worked pathetically, and Hicks, still busy filling small arms with the choicest flowers from the garden, could only whisper over and over again, "Praise be, praise be, she has found her voice!"

The Lilac Lady herself seemed almost unconscious of the fact that she had torn down this last and strongest barrier between self and the world, and if she noticed the pathetic surprise on the loving faces hovering about her, she did not show it, but smiled serenely and naturally when the applause had died away. She would sing no more that afternoon, however, and the little visitors had to be contented with a promise of another song the next time they came. So they said good-bye to their charming hostess and filed happily down the walk to the street.

As the iron gates closed behind the little company homeward bound, Peace turned to blow a good-night kiss between the high palings to the young mistress, lying in her chair where they had left her, but paused enraptured by the picture her eyes beheld. A rosy ray of the setting sun filtered through the oak boughs overhanging her couch and fell full upon the white face among the cushions, bringing out the rich auburn tints of the heavy hair till it almost seemed as if a crown of gleaming gold rested upon her head, and the wonderful blue eyes reflected the light like sea-water, clear and deep and—unfathomable.

"Oh," whispered Peace, thrilling with delight, "I ought to have called her my Angel Lady!"



"What do you think's happened now?" asked Peace, seating herself gloomily upon the footstool beside the invalid, and thrusting a long grass-blade between her teeth.

"I am sure I don't know," smiled the older girl. "You look as if it were quite a calamity."

"It's worse'n a c'lamity. It's a capostrophe. Glen's gone and got the croup—"

"Yes, so his papa told Aunt Pen this morning. How is the poor little fellow now?"

"He's better, doctor says; but his cold is dreadfully bad and may last for days, so Elspeth can't hear the children practise for next Sunday—I mean a week from tomorrow. That is Children's Day, you know. And Miss Kinney has ab-so-lute-ly refused to sing for us, 'cause Elspeth asked Mildred George to take a solo part, too, and Miss Kinney doesn't like Mildred. Why are huming beings so mean and horrid to each other? Now, I wouldn't care if I found someone which could sing better'n I,—s'posing I could sing at all. I'd just help her make all the music she could and be glad there was somebody who could beat me."

"Would you really?" asked the lame girl with a queer little note of doubt in her voice.

"Why, of course! I sh'd hate to think I was the best singer God knew how to make."

This was an idea which the invalid had never heard expressed before; but still somewhat skeptical, she asked, "Do you feel that way about whistling, too?"

"I sure do! I like to whistle, and it's nice to know I can beat all the boys that go to our school, and even Saint John. But you should hear Mike O'Hara! Oh, but he can whistle! It sounds like the woods full of birds. It's—it's—it's—" words failed her—"it's heaven to listen to him. I'm glad I know someone who whistles better than I can, 'cause there's that to work for, to aim at. But if I ever get so I can whistle as well as he does, I s'pose there will be lots better ones still. Miss Kinney wants to be the very best singer at Hill Street Church, though, and she's afraid if Mildred gets to taking solo parts in the exercises folks will want her all the time; so she's just trying to spoil the whole program that Saint Elspeth has worked so hard over."

Peace's observations were sometimes positively uncanny, and as she voiced this sentiment, the Lilac Lady asked curiously, "How do you know that is her reason? Did she tell you, or did Mildred?"

"Neither one. I heard Mrs. Porter tell Elspeth yesterday that Miss Kinney had cold feet; so after she was gone, I asked about it. Saint John was there, and Elspeth just laughed and said it was a remark I must forget, 'cause it wasn't real kind to speak so about anybody. But when I was in bed and they thought I'd gone to sleep, I heard Saint John ask Elizabeth about it, and she told him how Miss Kinney was acting, and how the program would all be spoiled, 'cause there isn't anyone to take her place in the solo parts, and it is too late now to drill the children for anything else. It's even worse now, with Glen down sick so's Elspeth can't help get up some other program."

"What kind of exercises were you going to have, may I ask? You have had such hard work to keep from telling me at different times that I thought perhaps it was a secret."

"Elspeth wanted it as a surprise, you know, so I thought it would be better not to talk about it even with you. Do you care?"

"Not a bit, dearie, only I had an idea that possibly I might take Elizabeth's place for a few days, with Aunt Pen's help. She used to be a famous driller for children's entertainments, and I know she would be more than pleased to have her finger in this pie, for she admires your young preacher very much, while Beth is an old friend of hers. The children could come here to rehearse—"

"Oh, but wouldn't that be fine! You do have the splendidest thinks! Who'd take Miss Kinney's part? That's the most important of all. Would you?"

"I? Oh, Peace, how could I take part—a cripple? I haven't been outside these gardens for years."

"It's time you had a change, then. It wouldn't hurt you to be rolled down the street in your chair, would it?"

"So everyone could see and pity me?" The voice was full of scathing bitterness.

"So everyone could know and love you, my Lilac Lady! They couldn't help loving you. I wanted to hug you the first time I ever laid eyes on you, and I don't feel any different yet."

"All the world is not like you."

"No, I reckon it ain't, 'cause there's millions and millions of pig-tailed Chinamen and little brown Japs, and Esquimeaux who take baths in whale oil 'stead of water, which ain't a bit like me. But I'm speaking of 'Merican children. They'd love you for the way you sing and tell stories first, most likely; but when they came to know you yourself, they'd like just the bare you. Tony and Ethel and Lottie and George and all the rest of the Home children can't talk enough about you, and Miss Chase says they're 'most wild to think you want 'em to come every week steady this summer. She says a person like you can do 'em more good now than years of sermons after they are older. She calls you the children's 'good angel.' I meant to tell you before, 'cause I thought you'd like to know, but somehow this fuss of Elspeth's made me forget everything else. Say! Why couldn't we get the Home children to help us in our choruses? They usu'ly go to the church just across the street from there on account of it being nearer, but I'm sure the matron would let 'em help us this one time, 'specially as tomorrow is their Children's Sunday. Tony told me."

"That is a splendid plan, Peace. If you think Aunt Pen and I can take Elizabeth's place until Glen is better, I'll send Hicks over to the Home with a note for Miss Chase, and we will have a rehearsal this very afternoon. Can you get me the music?"

"Yes, Elspeth's got the song-books at the parsonage now. There was to be a practise this afternoon for the corn-tatter, but she thought she'd just have to send 'em home as fast as they came. I'll run right over and tell her your plans so's she'll have the children come over here instead. It will be ever so nice to have the boys and girls from the Home take part, 'cause there didn't begin to be enough lilies or poppies or vi'lets, and so many had dropped out of the rose chorus that only Mittie Cole is left. She's a good singer, though, if she doesn't get too scared."

"Well, you run along and get me as many copies of the cantata as you can. Tell Elizabeth I will be very careful of them."

"Shall I tell her you'll take Miss Kinney's part?"

"No, indeed," was the hasty answer. "If she asks about it, you might say that it will be taken care of, so she need not fret the least little bit."

"Oh, and say, what about the flowers for the Home children? I guess likely we can't have them after all, 'cause we're to be dressed up in flowers to represent our parts."

"Flowers? Oh, I will attend to that. Our French maid is perfection when it comes to getting up costumes of any kind."

"It ain't costumes. It's just our flowers, but there are daisies and poppies and vi'lets and maybe others that ain't in blossom yet or else are all done for; so's we would either have to buy them at the greenhouses or get artificial ones."

"That is easily done, dear. Elise can do wonders with crêpe paper and the glue-pot. Don't you worry about the Home children if Miss Chase will let us borrow them."

So Peace skipped joyously home to pour out the good news to the preacher's troubled little wife, who was worrying alternately over the hoarse, sick little man lying in her arms and the program for Children's Sunday, which now looked as if it must prove a failure in spite of all the time and hard work she had given it. So when the child explained the Lilac Lady's plans, Elizabeth gladly resigned the cantata music, expressed her sincere thanks by kissing Peace warmly—for she knew, of course, that whatever beautiful plans the young crippled neighbor might have, they were prompted by the active brain under the bobbing brown curls—and returned with a lighter heart to her vigil over Glen.

Miss Chase was glad to lend the children to Hill Street Church, and they were overjoyed at the idea of being loaned. As they proved to be apt pupils, they were already quite familiar with the beautiful songs by the time the original chorus members put in appearance at the parsonage for the afternoon's rehearsal. At first, the regular scholars were inclined to criticize the new plans which dragged in the little Home waifs; but Aunt Pen, who had readily agreed to help, was very tactful, the lame girl very lovable, and in a few minutes all the objections had been swept aside and harmony reigned supreme. Then they settled down to hard work, and how they did practise! Aunt Pen played the piano, Giuseppe took up the refrain on his violin, and the great stone house fairly rang with the chorus of the hundred or more voices. Indifference melted into interest, and interest into enthusiasm. Before the afternoon had drawn to a close, every heart present was fairly aching for the coming of Children's Sunday with its beautiful service of song, and the Lilac Lady was triumphant.

"But who will take Miss Kinney's part?" frowned Marjorie Hopper, the deacon's granddaughter. "She told papa last night that she simply washed her hands of the whole affair."

"Never you fret," said Peace, nodding her head sagely. "Let her wash! We've got someone to take it who can sing lots prettier than she ever thought of doing."

"Not Mildred—"

"No, Mildred's got her own part, but—"

There was a sudden movement in the invalid's chair, and the lame girl sat up with a most becoming blush tinting the waxen cheeks. "Can you keep a secret, children?" she asked.

"Of course!" they shouted, gathering around her to hear what the secret might be.

"Well, I am going to—"

"Take Miss Kinney's place," finished Tony, with a deep sigh of anticipated pleasure.

"I knew she'd do it!" crowed Peace, dancing a jig for pure joy.

"Will you?" asked Marjorie.

"Would you like it?"

"Like it! Well, I guess yes!" they shouted again.

"You can beat Miss Kinney all hollow," added George with blunt, boyish admiration.

"I am not figuring on that," smiled the invalid, amused at the thought. "I don't care any more about being 'it,' as you children say. I just want to help Hill Street Church, for it has brought me the sun again when I thought I had lost it forever."

They looked at her mystified, uncomprehending, but no one asked her to explain; they were content to know that she was to take the important solo part which Miss Kinney had thrown down.

Thus the days flew by, and Children's Sunday dawned bright and cool. Glen was almost well, but Elizabeth did not feel that she could leave him in any other hands, and he was still too fretful to attend the service. In her quandary she flew to Aunt Pen, and that worthy lady smiled happily as she answered, "Of course, I can take charge if you wish, and I shall count it a privilege. You have done so much for Myra—"

"Thank Peace for that. She is the one who found out her hiding-place."

"I do thank Peace with all my heart, and it has been a pleasure to help her with her beautiful, generous, impulsive plans. She suggested—well, you must come this morning and hear the children. We simply can't let you off. Sit near the door if you like, so you can take the baby out if he frets,—but I don't think he will. He loves music, and we've quite a surprise in store for the congregation."

And indeed, it proved a great surprise, for no one saw the wheel-chair which Hicks rolled stealthily into the tiny church early that morning and hid so skilfully behind tall banks of fern and great clusters of roses that only the lovely face of the lame girl could be seen by the congregation—she was still very sensitive concerning her sad affliction. And when the happy-hearted children, almost covered with the garlands of flowers they carried, took their places around their queen, the platform looked like some great, wonderful garden, where children's faces were the blossoms.

And the music! How can words describe the joyous anthems which filled the sanctuary with praise and thanksgiving, or the gloriously sweet, silvery tones of the garden queen when she lifted her voice and poured out her soul in song that bright June morning. All the bitterness of the long months of anguish, despair and rebellion had been swept forever out of her heart, and in its place reigned the gladness, the rapture, the supreme joy which triumphs even over death. It seemed almost as if some angel choir had opened the gates of heaven and let the strains of celestial music flood the earth. It was inspiring, uplifting, sublime!

But that was not all. When the beautiful service had ended, and the congregation was slowly filing out into the sunshine again, there stood the wheel-chair by the door, and the lame girl, her blue eyes alight with happiness, her face wreathed in smiles, greeted one by one the friends of the old days from whom she had so long hidden herself away.



"Just one week more and Fourth of July will be here," announced Peace from her seat on the grass, as she counted off the days on her fingers. They were all gathered under the trees that warm afternoon, Aunt Pen and Elizabeth with their sewing, the minister with a magazine from which he had been reading aloud, Giuseppe with his beloved violin, from which he was seldom separated, the lame girl lying in her accustomed place, and Peace and Glen gambolling in the grass at their feet.

"Why, so it will," said the invalid in surprise.

"Do you s'pose grandpa will get back by that time?"

"Should you care if he did not?" asked preacher teasingly.

"John!" reproved Elizabeth, tapping him gently on the head with her thimble. "Aren't you ashamed of yourself to ask such a question?"

"No offense, ladies, no offense intended, I assure you! I merely wondered if Peace could be getting homesick."

"Me homesick! Oh, no, I'm not homesick, but I'll bet the other folks are by this time. I've been gone so long. One week of March, all of April and May, and nearly all of June—that's three months already; and I've never been away from the girls more'n a night or two at a time before."

There was a wistful look in the brown eyes in spite of her emphatic denial that she was homesick, and Elizabeth sought to turn the conversation by saying meditatively, "I wonder what Glen will think of the Fourth of July celebration? He was almost too young last year to notice anything of that sort, and besides, we had a very quiet day at Parker. Everyone had gone to the city for their fun."

"Yes, it was quiet in Parker last year. Hec Abbott was away all day, and I didn't have any fire-crackers," Peace observed; then, noting the broad smile that bathed all the faces, she added hastily, "I s'pose it was just as well, 'cause it was an awful dry summer, and like enough we would have set the place on fire. That's why Gail wouldn't let us have any, but this year we're going to make up for all we've missed—if grandpa gets home in time. We've got dollars and dollars in our bank—Allee and me—left over from dec'rating our room, and we're going to blow it all up celebrating the Fourth, so's to be patriotic. Grandpa says love of country is something every 'Merican needs, so we're beginning young at our house. Grandpa says—"

"What does grandpa say?" boomed a dear, familiar voice behind her, and she bounced to her feet with a wild shriek of joy, for leaning against the iron gates at the end of the walk stood the genial President, while in the carriage just beyond sat Grandma Campbell and the three younger sisters, all fidgeting with eagerness to meet the small maid whose face they had not seen for so long a time.

"Oh, grandpa, grandma, girls, when did you get here? I never so much as heard you drive up!"

Scarcely touching the gravel with her toes, she fairly flew through the gate into the five pair of arms reaching out to embrace her, hugging and kissing them impartially in her delight to be with them again, and asking questions as fast as her tongue could fly. "How did you like the Woods? Where are Gail and Faith? Haven't they come in from the Lake yet? I haven't seen them for three weeks now. Are you perfectly well, Allee? What's the matter with Cherry's nose, grandma? It looks skinned. Does scarlet fever make people grow tall, or what has happened to Hope? My, but you've missed it, being quadrupined up in the house all the spring! Yes, I'd like to have seen the Woods, too, but 's long as you didn't take me, I had a better time here. Oh, it's been jolly. There come Aunt Pen and Elspeth. I s'pose they think you've kissed me enough for one time and you better climb out and go speak to my Lilac Lady. She's been wanting to see you all, 'specially Gail and Faith which ain't here."

They answered her questions as best they could—they had enjoyed their brief sojourn in the Pine Woods very much, for they had found it more than tiresome to be quarantined all those beautiful weeks, but Peace's telephone messages and queer adventures had helped brighten many an hour. They were particularly interested in the Lilac Lady and the little Italian musician, and were anxious to meet the big-hearted Aunt Pen. So they clambered out of the carriage and were properly introduced by the preacher and his wife, while Peace fluttered from one to another of the happy group, too excited to remember such things as introductions.

The lame girl was very sorry to lose this little will-o'-wisp neighbor who had brought so much sunshine into her life during her short stay at the parsonage, but Elizabeth was to visit her every day, and the Campbells promised not only to lend Peace often to the stone house, but also to come with her; so they said good-bye at length, and the curly brown head bobbed out of sight down the long avenue, behind prancing Marmaduke and Charlemagne.

Peace was glad to get home again, and spent the next few days renewing her acquaintance with the place, philosophizing with Gussie, Marie and Jud, and regaling family and servants alike with accounts of her long stay at the parsonage, for it seemed to her that she had been away three years instead of three months.

On the third day she suddenly remembered the approaching Fourth and the generous bank account which she and Allee had kept for just that occasion. So she sat down on the stairs to plan out the list of fireworks that they should buy with their precious hoard, and was busy trying to add up a lengthy column of figures, when she heard Hope in the hall below say, "Yes, grandma, it's a letter from Gail. They aren't coming home for another week unless you want them particularly, because they have discovered a family of eight children out there by the lake who have never had a real Fourth of July celebration in their lives, and Frances is planning a picnic for them and wants the girls to help her out."

Peace heard no more. Frances was planning a gala day for a family of eight children who would have no fireworks for the glorious Fourth. Why could she and Allee not do the same thing for the Home children? There were more than fifty little folks in that institution who would have no celebration either, unless some good fairy provided it. She and Allee would have more than enough fire-crackers for the whole family, even if grandpa did not buy a single bunch himself, and of course he would do his part to make the day a grand success.

She went in search of Allee, unfolded her new plan, and as usual won her ready consent, for the smallest sister found this other child's quaint ideas delightfully thrilling, and was always willing to join her in any escapade, however daring.

"I knew you'd say yes," Peace sighed with satisfaction, when they had agreed upon the list of fire-crackers, caps and torpedoes. "Now the thing of it is, will grandpa be as easy? He has such very queer thoughts on some things. Still, he's usu'ly right, too. I've found out that it is lots better to try to help such folks as the Home children 'stead of tramps and hand-organ men, who are only fakes or lazy-bones. There was Petri, now,—he made loads of money off of Juiceharpie and Jocko, but he was mean as dirt to both of them. The Home children are different. Anything nice you do for them makes them happy and they like you all the better. Well, we better go see grandpa about it first, so's he can't kick after we get started real well with our plans. Besides, I don't s'pose Miss Chase would listen to us if grandpa doesn't know what we are up to."

Hand in hand they descended the stairs to the study and knocked, but the weary President was stretched on his couch fast asleep and did not hear their gentle tapping.

"He's here, I know," Peace declared. "I saw him when he went in, and he told grandma that he should be home the rest of the day."

"P'raps he's upstairs in his room."

"But he ain't, I tell you! Didn't we just come from upstairs! We'd have heard him moving about if he'd been up there."

"Maybe he's asleep."

"I'm going to see."

Cautiously she opened the door a little crack and peeped in. The west window curtains were drawn and the room was very dim, but after a few rapid blinks, Peace became accustomed to the subdued light, and saw the long figure lying on the davenport beside the fireplace, now filled with summer flowers.

"There he is," she whispered triumphantly, and pushing the door further ajar, she stepped across the threshold.

"Oh, we mustn't 'sturb him!" protested Allee, holding back; but Peace serenely assured her, "I ain't going to touch him. I'm just going to stay till he wakes up. Are you coming?"

Allee, followed, still a little reluctant, and the door closed noiselessly behind them. With careful hands, they drew up a long Roman chair in front of the couch, and sat down together to await the President's awakening. The room was almost gloomy in its dimness, and so quiet that they could hear their own breathing. But not another sound broke the silence, save the ticking of the little French clock on the mantel, which drove Peace almost to distraction. Then she chanced to remember a discussion she had heard a long time before, and settling herself with elbows on her knees and her chin in her hands, she fixed her somber eyes full upon the sleeping face before her, and stared with all her might.

"Look at him," she commanded Allee in a stage whisper.

"What for?"

"Just 'cause. Glare for all you're worth!"

"But why?"

"I'll tell you byme-by."

So dutiful Allee "glared for all she was worth," and soon the sleeper grew restless. Then he opened his eyes.

"We did it!" crowed Peace shrilly, spatting her hands together so suddenly that he jumped.

"Did what, you young jackanapes?" he growled, rubbing his sleepy eyes, a trifle vexed at having been disturbed before his nap was out.

"Woke you up with just looking at you! We never touched you at all—just glared and glowered as hard as ever we could, and you woke up like Faith said you would."

"Faith? Did she send you here to wake me up? Have she and Gail come home?"

"Oh, no, they ain't coming till after the Fourth. They're going to stay and help Frances celebrate a family of eight children which have never had any fireworks in all their lives. That's what we came to see you about, but you were asleep and we got tired of waiting, so we tried to see if we could stare you awake, like the girls said folks could do if they looked long and hard enough. It worked."

"Something did," he smiled grimly. "Was it so important that you had to tell it immediately? Couldn't it have kept until dinner hour?"

"You and grandma are invited out for dinner this evening, and anyway, we wanted to have a private conflab with you all by yourself before we told the others our plan."

"Plan? Another plan! My sakes, Peace, where do you keep them all?"

The round, eager face grew long. It wasn't like grandpa to make fun of her. What could be the matter?

"I guess you're not int'rested," she said in heavy disappointment. "Come, Allee, we better be going."

"Indeed you better not!" he cried, thoroughly aroused by her look and tone, and remembering that she was unaccountably sensitive to the moods of her loved ones. "I won't tease you another speck. Come and tell grandpa what it is now that you want me to help with."

"We don't want your help at all," she answered gravely, letting him draw her down to one knee, while he enthroned Allee on the other. "All you've got to do is say yes."

Knowing from experience what wild-cat schemes were often evolved by that tireless brain, he cautiously replied, "'Yes' is an easy word to speak, girlies, but sometimes 'no' is wisest, even if it is hard to learn."

"Oh, I think you will like this plan, grandpa." Peace was warming up to the subject. "It hasn't anything to do with tramps or beggars, and I don't want to give away any more of my clo'es—'nless p'raps that white apron to Lottie, 'cause she likes it so well. This is about the Home children. You know our Fourth of July money?"

"Did you think I had forgotten that?" Inwardly he was shaking with merriment. He never recalled the dedication of the flag room without wanting to shout.

"No, but I did think maybe it had skipped your mind just for a minute."

"Well, it hasn't. What does your Fourth of July money have to do with the Home children and white aprons?"

"White aprons ain't in it—only that one I should like to give Lottie, but that can be any day. What we want to do is share our fire-crackers with the Home children, 'cause the Lady Boards don't allow for such things in raising money to take care of the Home, and so the children won't have any to celebrate with, 'nless their fathers bring them a few, and mostly the fathers are too hard up for that. Allee and me have dollars and dollars in our bank just to cluttervate our love of country with, and we thought this would be a splendid chance to—"

"Spread the d'sease," finished Allee, as Peace paused for want of words to express her ideas.

"It ain't a disease, Allee Greenfield! To make 'em happy—that's what I meant to say."

"A very worthy object, my dear."

"Then you like it and won't kick?"

"If you have considered the matter carefully and want to share your Fourth of July with the Home children, I am perfectly willing, girlies, and will do all I can to help you succeed."

"That's what we wanted to know, grandpa," she cried gleefully. "You'll have all kinds of chances to help, too, 'cause I've just thought of ice-cream and watermelon—if they are ripe by that time—and ice-cream anyway, with a nice picnic dinner to go with the fire-crackers and Roming candles. Some of 'em have never had but two or three dishes of ice-cream in all their lives. Think how tickled they will be! P'raps my Lilac Lady will invite them all over to her house to celebrate, 'cause it always seems so much nicer to go away somewhere for a picnic, even if 'tis only a few blocks. And the stone house has great wide lawns, bigger'n ours, though I like ours best on account of the river, even if we haven't all the lovely flowers which Hicks has planted in his gardens."

Thoughtfully the President lifted the shade behind the couch and looked out across the smooth velvet turf, sloping gently to the river bank in one long, even stretch, broken by an occasional posy-bed, and liberally dotted with giant oaks and stately lindens. It was an ideal spot for a picnic or lawn social such as Peace had described; and Japanese lanterns suspended among the branches and hung about the wide verandas would make it a veritable fairyland for the little folks of the Home, whose gala days were so few and far between.

Unconsciously he spoke aloud: "The mis'es would enjoy it as much as the rest; that is the beauty of it."

"What are you talking about, grandpa?" cried the children, amazed at the remark which seemed to have no bearing whatever on the subject.

"Did I speak?" he asked sheepishly. "I was just wondering how they would enjoy coming here for their celebration instead of going to the stone house—"

"Oh, grandpa! That would be splendid! How did it happen that I never thought of it myself?" Peace exclaimed in comical surprise. "We'll ask Saint Elspeth and John and my Lilac Lady and Aunt Pen to come and help. Hicks took her to church for Children's Sunday. Don't you s'pose he could bring her down here, even if it is three miles?"

"If she will come, dear, we will find a way of bringing her," he promised, drawing the little girls closer to him as if to shield them from such sorrow as had darkened that other young life.

"And that will mean Juiceharpie and Glen will come, too," murmured Allee, who was much charmed with these two little gentlemen, particularly with the Italian waif, whose strange history still seemed like a story-book tale to her.

"Yes, the children will come, too, of course, and we will even borrow the cook and Hicks, if the Lilac Lady will lend them. Do you suppose she will?"

"Let's go and see this very minute," proposed Peace. "The Fourth is too near already to let it get any closer before we find out about these things. And we've still to see Miss Chase about the Home folks coming, you know."

Thoroughly interested now in her project, the President drew forth his watch, glanced at the hour, and rang for Jud to harness the horses.

Of course Miss Chase accepted the invitation at once, and the Home children were jubilant. The little parsonage family was equally charmed with the plan and agreed to help it along all they could. But at the stone house, when the matter was explained, it quite took Aunt Pen's breath away, and for a moment even the Lilac Lady looked as if she were about to refuse. But Giuseppe was radiant, and seizing his beloved violin, ha capered about the white-faced invalid, crying in delight, "An' I feedle an' ma angel seeng. Oh, eet be heaven!"

Perhaps it was his happy face, perhaps it was Peace's wistful entreaty, but at any rate, the lame girl suddenly smiled up at the President beside her and answered heartily, "Tell Mrs. Campbell we shall all be there to help her if the day is clear, and it surely must be when the happiness of so many people depends upon it."

The day was clear and delightfully cool, Jud had accomplished wonders with flags, bunting and lanterns, and the place looked even more like the haunts of fairies than the girls had dared dream. Rustic benches and porch chairs were scattered about under the trees, two immense hammocks hung on the wide veranda, and a strong swing had been fastened among the branches of the tallest oak. The barn chamber, which Peace had planned on having for a playhouse, was swept and scrubbed, furbished up with old furniture from the garret, and stocked with toys of all sorts, that the children who might not care for games all day could find other amusement to fill the hours. The boat-house, too, was put in order and decorated with ferns and flowers, for Hope was to preside here behind great jars of lemonade and frappé, and it proved to be a very popular resort all day long. It is surprising how thirsty one does get at a picnic!

Early in the morning, Hicks brought the preacher's family, Aunt Pen and his young mistress in the great red automobile, which was now used so seldom that Peace had not even discovered its existence; but when she saw it, she let out a whoop of surprise that startled the rest of the household, and dashed down the driveway to meet it, screaming shrilly, "When you've dumped out that load, Hicks, you better begin going after the Home children. It will take Duke and Charley a long time to bring them here alone; and besides, I'll bet none of the boys and girls there have ever ridden in an auto yet. I know I haven't."

"That is a good idea, Peace," said the lame girl happily. "I never would have thought of it. Those who drive down in the carriage can go home in the auto, so they will all get a ride. Just put the baskets and traps on that table, Hicks, and start as soon as possible."

An hour later all the guests had assembled, and the day's program was begun. Of course there were some mishaps. Was there ever a picnic without them? But no one was badly hurt. It was Giuseppe's first celebration of Independence Day with gunpowder and torpedoes, and in his excitement and delight at the noise he was making, he thoughtlessly thrust a stump of burning punk into his trousers' pocket along with a bunch of fire-crackers, and would have been seriously burned, no doubt, had not Cherry promptly turned the hose on him. As it was, he was nearly drowned, and very much frightened, but soon recovered from the shock, and returned with energy to his crackers again.

Lottie fell through the hay-mow in the barn, trying to escape her pursuer in a lively game of tag. George tumbled into the river and was rescued just in time. Tony got hit by the swing-board and lost one tooth as a result. Allee sat down in a tub of lemonade, and Peace toppled out of a tree into a trayful of ice-cream which Jud had just dished up. But these were mere trifles, swallowed up in the greater events of the day—the boisterous games on the smooth lawn, the picnic dinner under the trees, the beautiful music made by the lame girl and the little songbird of Italy; the destruction of the sham fort built by the dignified doctor and sedate young minister; the row on the river in the late afternoon; the gorgeous beauty of the place when the lanterns were lighted at dusk; and, fitting climax of that wonderful day, the brilliant display of fireworks which Jud set off when finally darkness had fallen over the land.

But like all happy days, this Fourth of July came to an end at last, the guests departed, and Peace, walking slowly up the path from the gate, felt suddenly tired. Slipping her hand into the doctor's big one, she sighed, "Well, it's all over with! Our flag room money has gone up in smoke and down in ice-cream."

"Are you sorry?" asked the President, a little surprised at her long-drawn sigh and tone of regret.

"Oh, no, I ain't sorry for that part of it. I'm sorry the day is gone. That's the trouble with having a good time. It always comes to an end."

"But the memory of it still lives. Think how many hearts you have made happy today."

"Yes, that's so," she answered, brightening visibly; "and the best of it is, there's at least one more patriarch. Juiceharpie has always been an Italian till today, but after this he's going to be an American. The fire-crackers did it."



The Home Missionary Society of the South Avenue Church was holding its monthly meeting in the Campbell parlors, and Peace, feeling very forlorn and left out, because grandma had suggested that she better join the sisters in the barn playhouse, wandered down to the gate and stood looking up the street in search of something to occupy her attention. She was tired of playing games in the barn, she had read the latest St. Nicholas from cover to cover, and the postman had not yet brought the Youth's Companion, although this was the regular day for it. Anyway, she didn't care to read. She would rather stay and listen to what the women in the house were talking about, but if grandma did not want her, she certainly should not bother them with her presence. Likely the meeting would be very dry; it usually was when Mrs. Roberts stayed away, and she had not put in appearance yet.

Grandma had half promised that she might visit the Lilac Lady that afternoon, but for some reason had changed her mind and put off the visit until the morrow. Ho, hum! What was a small girl to do to amuse herself this warm day, when she had already done everything she could think of, and had been forbidden to go where she most wanted to go?

Slowly she unlatched the gate and strolled down the avenue, swinging her white sunbonnet by one string, and whistling plaintively under her breath. The wide street, shaded by immense oaks and maples, felt deliciously cool and restful, but it was also very quiet, and Peace had wandered several blocks without meeting a soul, when without warning she stumbled over two mites of tots, almost hidden in the rank grass and weeds in front of a ragged-looking unkempt little cabin of a house, which in its better days had evidently been used for a barn. The children were as much surprised as Peace, and after one frightened glance at the intruder, they both buried their heads in their patched aprons and cowered still lower among the weeds. But from the fleeting glimpse Peace had caught of the little faces, she knew they had been crying, and her first thought was, "They are lost."

Impulsively she kneeled on the walk beside them and coaxingly asked, "What is the trouble, little girls? Have you run away?"

"No, we ain't!" retorted the older child, lifting a streaked, tear-stained face to eye her questioner indignantly. "We ain't girls, either! I am, but he ain't!"

"Oh," murmured Peace, much abashed by her fierce reception, "I took him for a girl on account of his clo'es. He's wearing dresses."

"He ain't old enough for pants. He's only two."

"Oh, mercy! He's lots bigger than Glen. But then Glen won't be two until next January."

"Is Glen your brother?" asked the other girl, somewhat mollified by the friendliness of the stranger's voice.

"No, he's the minister's little boy which we used to have in Parker where we lived 'fore we came here. What's your baby's name?"


"His first name, I mean."

"That's his first name. Rivers Dillon, and I'm Fern."

"Oh! They're as bad as ours, ain't they? I'm always running up against horrid names. Gail says it's 'cause I am always looking for them—"

"Our names ain't horrid!" Fern Dillon bounced off the grass like an angry hornet, then collapsed beside the baby brother, who evidently was not given much to talking, for he had not said a word, but simply stared in round-eyed surprise at the pretty stranger child. "Oh, dear, everybody is so mean!"

"Fern, what have I done? I didn't mean to be hateful," cried Peace remorsefully. "Please, I'm sorry I've made you mad. Don't mind anything I said. I've always hated my own name so bad that I am always glad when I can find a worse one. That is all I meant."

Strange to say, Fern's wrath was at once appeased, in spite of the explanation, and she smiled faintly as she brushed away the fresh tears. "I thought you was going to be just like Mrs. Burnett," she explained. "She's always scolding mamma 'cause she won't put Rivers and me in a Home—"

"In a Home?" cried Peace in horrified accents. "What for?"

"So's she can get more work to do. Lots of people won't give her their washing 'cause she has to take both of us with her, and folks think three is too many to feed, I guess."

"Is your papa dead?"

"He—he's gone. Mabel Cartwell says he's in jail," her voice dropped to an awed whisper; "but when I asked mamma, she just cried and cried. Now she's sick and they are going to take her to a hospital, and I don't know what Rivers and me'll do. Mrs. Burnett says of course we can't go with her, 'cause there ain't any sickness the matter with us, and—and—oh, we can't stay with her! She shakes Rivers for everything he touches. Oh dear, oh dear!"

"Have they—taken your mamma—away yet?"

"No, she's in there—"

"In that barn?"

"That's where we live since papa—went away."

"I'm going to ask her if you can't go home with me. Grandma will know—"

"You mustn't bother mamma," cried Fern, clutching Peace about the ankles as she started toward the sagging door of the ramshackle old house. "Mrs. Burnett will chase you out with the broom like she did us. And 'sides, mamma won't know you. She doesn't even know Rivers and me—her own little children."

Peace pondered. Here was an unlooked-for predicament. Would she be doing wrong if she took the brother and sister away without saying anything to the mother who did not know her own children any longer? She might speak to Mrs. Burnett, but how about that broomstick? For a moment she stood irresolute, scratching her head thoughtfully. Then with characteristic energy and decision, she grabbed Rivers with one hand and Fern with the other, and trotted off down the street, saying briefly, "I'm going to show you to grandma. She will know what to do."

"Will you bring us back again?"

"Course! You don't think I am a kidnapper, do you? That's what Mittie Cole called me when I thought I was going to adopt the twins that were only runaways. Mittie got to like me afterwards, though."

"I like you now."

"Of course. Most folks do, but it takes a longer time with some to make up their minds. I'm glad you are quick at d'ciding. We turn this corner."

Hurrying them along as fast as Rivers' short legs could toddle, she at length reached the big, old-fashioned house, and burst in upon the Missionary Meeting with a torrent of jumbled explanation.

"Here's two folks that need home missionarying if anybody does. Their mother is so sick she doesn't know people any more, and the father is either in jail or heaven. Mrs. Burnett chases 'em out of the house with the broomstick, and I borrowed them to show you just how ragged and dirty they really are, so's you will know I ain't got hold of a fake mistake again. They live in a horrid little barn of a house, quite a piece from here, and the hospital is coming after the mother any time. They won't take Fern and Rivers, of course, 'cause they are both well, but I thought likely Mrs. Burnett might begin to use the broomstick again if the children were left with her, so I brought 'em along with me until you could decide what to do with them. They don't want to go to a Home, and I don't want them to, either." Her breath gave out, and the astonished ladies recovered their poise sufficiently to ask questions until the whole pitiful tale had been unravelled.

"We'll send a committee at once to investigate," proposed the fat secretary, whom Peace disliked for no reason whatever.

"Then send somebody who's got a heart," suggested the little maid. "This is a truly sick woman which needs help. I'll show you the place. Fern, you and Rivers stay here with grandma till I get back. Ladies, who are the committee?"

Spurred on by Peace's enthusiastic leadership, the society hastily appointed a committee, and they departed on their errand of mercy. The house was even more squalid than Peace had pictured it, and the woman's case more desperate. An hour later a subdued, sympathetic trio of ladies, with Peace in tow, returned to the Campbell residence with their report.

"It is worse than we expected," said the chairman in a voice that trembled in spite of her efforts to speak naturally. "The father is in—Stillwater. Embezzlement. The mother, destitute, without relatives or friends, naturally a frail little woman, and now ill with typhoid, brought on by overwork and anxiety. These two children dependent upon her, and none of the neighbors really situated so they can take care of them. We secured a bed in Danbury Hospital for the mother, and told the authorities that we would be responsible for the babies. We simply could not think of leaving them there to be buffeted about by unwilling neighbors—no telling how long the mother will be unable to take care of them, if she ever is again. Now, the question is, what shall we do with these two tots?"

Immediately there was a buzz of comment, and an avalanche of theory and advice began to flow from fifty tongues.

Peace, interested in the controversy, had been banished to the dining-room to amuse Rivers, who had developed an unlimited propensity for mischief-making since his arrival at the big house, but through the open door she caught bits of the conversation, and her heart beat quick with fear.

"They are trying to passle Fern and Rivers off among different families," she said with bated breath. "What a shame that would be! Mr. Dillon in Stillwater, the mother in Danbury Hospital, Fern with Mrs. York, and Rivers at the Weston's. Oh, they mustn't part Fern from her baby! They can't get along without each other. Ain't it too bad we don't have a Home around here like they've got in Kentucky! Why didn't I think of that before?"

She gathered Fern and Rivers under her wing once more, and noiselessly departed from the house by way of the kitchen.

"Where are we going this time? Home?" questioned Fern, loath to leave the great house so full of beautiful things for one to admire.

"Not yet. I've just got a think. I b'lieve I know a lady which'll take you both till your mother gets well. She's lame herself, but Aunt Pen isn't, and they both love children. You'll have to ride on the cars. Come on, don't be afraid. I've done it lots of times and I never get lost."

Somewhat reluctantly, Fern allowed herself and brother to be lifted onto the car by the big conductor, who evidently knew Peace, for he greeted her with a cheery shout, "Hello, my hearty! Going to see your Lilac Lady again?"

"Yes," Peace answered promptly. "I've got another bunch of orphans—that is, they will be until their mother gets well and the father comes back, if he can." She remembered at that moment that she did not yet understand what had actually happened to the breadwinner of this unfortunate family. "And I knew my Lilac Lady would be glad to take care of them for a little while, so's they wouldn't have to be sep'rated."

With that, she ushered the children to seats inside the moving car, and they were quickly whirled away to the corner where stood Teeter's Pharmacy. Here they were helped off by the genial conductor, and Peace led the way up the hill to the beautiful stone house which could be plainly seen from the roadway now, because the thick cedar hedges had all been cut down, and only tall iron palings enclosed the lovely gardens.

Under her favorite oak by the lilac hedge lay the lame girl in her prison-chair, looking whiter and frailer than ever before, and Peace stopped in the midst of a rapturous kiss to ask fearfully, "Have you been sick again?"

"No, dear," smiled the marble lips. "I am a little tired these days, but perfectly well. Whom have you here?"

"Fern and Rivers Dillon. Their mother is dreadfully sick with tryfoid fever and their father is in—well, it's either a jail or a graveyard. I found them crying 'cause Mrs. Burnett had driven them out of the house with the broomstick, and when I took them home to the lady missionaries who are meeting at our house this afternoon, they began planning right away to divide them up among some families of our church. I couldn't bear to think of that, so I brought them up to you. I knew you'd be glad to keep them till the mother gets well, and they don't want to go to the Children's Home a bit. Rivers can't keep still a minute, but I know how he feels. It's the same way with me. At first I couldn't see how any mother would name her little boy such a name as that, but now I know. He upset three vases of flowers in the reception hall, and spilled a glass of frappé down his dress when I tried to give him some to drink, and pulled over the bird-cage, so's the water was all spilled, and stepped into the dog's drinking trough at the back door while I was trying to get them out of the house without the ladies seeing me. He makes rivers out of every bit of water he comes near."

"Doesn't your grandmother know where you have gone?" asked the invalid in surprise, not half understanding what Peace was trying to tell her.

"Why, no! She's one of the missionaries herself. She might think I ought to let her s'ciety look after these children as long as they've got hold of the mother already; but I—they'd be sep'rated as sure as fits, and—just look how teenty Rivers is to be taken away from all his folks at once."

"I don't want him tookened away," Fern spoke up. "Mamma told me to stay with him all the time, and I said I would. He can't talk much yet and there ain't anybody else can tell what he wants, now that mamma is sick."

"Come here, dear." The lame girl held out her thin, blue-veined hands, and little, homeless Fern ran to her with a desolate cry.

Peace was satisfied, and dropping down cross-legged in the grass at their feet, she remarked thoughtfully, "I had to bring them here, you see. Our house is full already, and grandpa says grandma has all she can 'tend to with the six of us. The parsonage is too small to hold any more, and besides, Saint John is away on his vacation, so the house is shut up for a few days. I knew Aunt Pen could mother a dozen, and I knew you'd want her to if she got the chance, so I brought 'em along.

"Isn't it too bad there isn't a nice Children's Home in this state like there is in Kentucky or some place down South, where one lady has forty daughters? They ain't any of 'em her very own. She's really just the matron of the Home, like Miss Chase is of our Children's Home, only they don't call the place a Home. The lady is just like a real mother to them, and she won't let any of her girls be adopted away from her. She just takes care of them until they are old enough to look out for themselves or get a husband to look out for them. Then she takes some more in their place and keeps on that way. And they just love her to pieces. They wear nice clothes and she teaches 'em music and manners and how to keep house and makes useful wives out of them. Oh, that's the kind of a Home I'd like to have here! Then Lottie could live there 'stead of being sent to the 'sylum."

"Lottie sent to the asylum? Why, what do you mean, Peace?" cried the startled invalid, sitting almost upright in her chair.

"Haven't you heard?" It was Peace's turn to look surprised.

"Not a word of that sort."

"Why, you know Lottie is a norphan, and when she was a baby somebody adopted her, but her new mother died last winter, and her new father put her in the Home 'cause he couldn't take care of her himself. Now he's been killed on the railroad, and his people don't want to be bothered with her, so she's to be sent to a Norphan 'Sylum, 'cause the Home takes only children who have somebody who will look after them a little. Lottie feels dreadfully bad and has 'most cried her eyes out already. I couldn't get her even to smile when I was up there this week. She is going to leave next Wednesday."

For a long moment the lame girl lay in deep thought, still holding Fern's chubby hand in hers, though she had evidently forgotten all about the little stranger children in her concern for the friendless orphan, Lottie. When she spoke, she asked absently, "What was that you were telling me about the Kentucky lady? Where did you hear about it?"

"That girls' Home in Kentucky? Oh, grandma was reading about it in Blank's Magazine the other day, and grandpa said that's the way all children's Homes ought to be carried out. Then the boys and girls would be happier and grow up into better men and women. That's what I think, too."

"We take Blank's Magazine," said the lame girl irrelevantly. "Here comes Aunt Pen. We must tell her about Fern and Rivers, and she will telephone the ladies that they are safe with us. Poor little waifs! You are home now—until the dear mother is able to care for you again. Then we'll see."

That was the beginning of it, but the next time Peace visited the Lilac Lady, she found a crew of noisy carpenters at work on the stone house, and in answer to her surprised questions, the invalid said, "This is to be an Orphan Asylum, dear. We shall not call it by that ugly name, but that is what it is really to be, and we have already two real orphans, not counting Fern and Rivers, who may be here for only a few weeks or months."

"Who are the orphans?"

"Giuseppe and Lottie."

"Oh, my Lilac Lady! How did you ever think of such a splendid plan?"

"I didn't, Peace. It was you."


"Yes, dear. When you told me about that Kentucky Home which all the children love, I wondered why Aunt Pen would not make a good mother for such a place in this state, and when I asked her, she was so happy!"

"But you? Where will you live if you turn your lovely house into a norphan 'sylum?"

"Right here—till the time comes to go home. It won't be long now, but I shall be content if I know the fortune which failed to make me happy is bringing joy and sunshine into the lives of scores of homeless children—hundreds in time, perhaps—and is giving them the education and self-reliance and refinement and love which will make them noble citizens of a noble country."

Peace only vaguely understood her words, but it was clear to her that the stone mansion was to become a home nest now for helpless little ones whose own parents had been taken from them, and the thought that she had had even a small share in bringing to pass this splendid plan sent a thrill of joy singing through her heart. Hugging her knees together with both lithe brown arms, she puckered her lips and began to whistle the refrain:

"'Sca-atter sunshine
All along the wa-ay;
Cheer and bless and bri-ighten
Every passing da-ay.'"

The lame girl joined in with her rich, sweet tones, and they sang it through to the end. Then as silence once more fell upon them, the young mistress of the place dropped her waxen hand lightly upon the brown curls resting against the arm of her chair, and said musingly, "That is to be the motto of our Home, dear. The song has brought me more happiness than any other thing in my life, I think. I want to pass it on."

"And let me help," eagerly put in Peace.



So the summer swept rapidly on. The remodelled stone mansion was finished at last and daintily furnished to meet every requirement. There were school-rooms and work-rooms and play-rooms. There were parlors and pianos and piazzas. There were long windows and wide doors everywhere. The whole place was filled with sunshine and fresh air. Rare flowers and ferns from the conservatory peeped out from every corner; the polished floors were covered with thick, soft carpets; easy chairs and tempting couches were harmoniously arranged about the rooms. A wing of the basement was converted into a gymnasium with a brave array of dumbbells, Indian clubs, trapezes and ladders. The great house was complete in every detail, and all Martindale was interested in this unique Home which the Lilac Lady was founding. But, though the offers to help were many, the lame girl refused them all and pushed the work with untiring energy.

Lottie had joined the three waifs already in the Palace Beautiful, as the Greenfield girls called it, although its real name was to be Oak Knoll; and one other little orphan maid had slipped in through the open doors. Aunt Pen had been persuaded to take a flying trip to the southern Home which Peace had so enthusiastically described, and returned fired with zeal for the new work which held so many opportunities. Plans were discussed, a Board of Directors elected, the business routine adjusted, and everything legalized in order that there might be no hitch in proceedings after the institution had been opened to the public.

The lame girl developed a surprising business ability, and insisted upon looking after all the details personally, seeming to grow stronger as the work progressed, and she saw her plans nearing completion. Even Aunt Pen was deceived by the delicate flush which tinted the once colorless cheeks, and the keen, alive look in the deep blue eyes; but the girl herself understood, and so hurried carpenters and lawyers alike, until at length everything was done, and Oak Knoll had been formally dedicated and opened for its noble work.

Autumn lingered long that year, cool and calm, as if to make up for the fierce heat of the summer months. But at last the frosts came and tipped every leaf and flower with gorgeous colors; the grass grew brown on the hillside; the brilliant foliage of the trees fluttered down with every breath of wind that stirred; and the crisp, hazy air was filled with the smell of fall. Then, when the chill of winter seemed upon them, the warm days of Indian Summer again held it in check and revived the fading flowers for one last bloom before going to sleep under blankets of ice and snow.

Such a day was it the Sunday following Gail's twentieth birthday; and after dinner had been served, the family repaired to the wide veranda with books and papers to enjoy the freshness of the air and drink in the glories of the autumn afternoon, while they read or talked together, feeling that this was the last time for many weeks that they could sit in this fashion out-of-doors.

But Peace was restless. There was a subtle something in the smell of the hazy atmosphere which appealed to her forcefully, and leaving the family gathered about the President on the piazza, she wandered down the driveway to the great bed of chrysanthemums growing in a sheltered nook where the frosts had not yet found them, and stood gloating over their splendid blossoms.

"Chrysanthemums, chrysanthemums, oh, you dear chrysanthemums," she hummed to herself, then stooped and plucked one long spray, another, a whole armful, and with shining eyes she returned to the porch.

"My, what beauties!" exclaimed Faith, looking up from her book as Peace passed. "Why didn't you leave them in the garden? They look so cheerful growing, now that all the other flowers are gone."

"Hicks is coming after me this afternoon to visit Palace Beautiful, and the Lilac Lady loves chrysanthemums."

She thrust her head deep into her bouquet, and they laughed at the roguish, round face peeping from between the great yellow and white balls. It was indeed a pretty picture, for both flowers and face seemed radiating sunshine.

The chug-chug of an approaching automobile drew their attention to the road, and Allee exclaimed, "There's Hicks now!"

"It's Hicks' machine, but that ain't him driving," answered Peace, studying the car slowing up in front of the gate. "Hicks always comes up the driveway, too. Why, it's Saint John and Elspeth!" They waved their hands at the little group on the porch, and the doctor walked down to the gate to meet the minister, who had leaped to the ground from his place at the wheel.

"Run, get your hat and jacket, Peace," called Mrs. Campbell, as the child started as if to join her friends in the street, so she darted into the house for her wraps, impatient to be off in the throbbing, red car. She was back in a moment, her jacket thrown over one arm and her hat dangling down her back, but as she leaped onto the step beside Elizabeth, she was vaguely conscious that both the preacher and his wife looked strangely exalted, and they greeted her more tenderly and with less boisterous fun than was usual. Indeed, Saint John hugged her so tightly that it hurt, but she could not rebuke him, because he was speaking to the family gathered at the gate, and she caught the words, "Only an hour ago. We have just come from there."

She wondered a little what they were talking about, but before she could ask, the preacher sprang to his place, released the wheel, and the car leaped forward as if alive, toppling Peace into Elizabeth's arms. When she had righted herself, she demanded, "Where is Glen?"

"We left him with Mrs. Lane."

"That's queer. Is he sick?"

"Oh, no, but we thought it best to leave him at the parsonage this time," she answered evasively. "Those are beautiful chrysanthemums you have."

"Ain't they, though? Jud does have the best luck with his asters and chrysanthemums. These beat Hicks' all hollow. Where is Hicks? I 'xpected he'd come for me today. I didn't know Saint John could drive well enough yet."

"Hicks was—busy. So we came."

"I s'pose that's why you left Glen. You didn't want to take the chances with Saint John driving the car. Is that it?"

Elizabeth smiled faintly. "No, we never once thought of that, Peace. Mrs. Lane offered to stay with him, and so we let her."

"Oh! Well, I s'pose I would have too, if I'd been you, 'cause 'tain't often Mrs. Lane makes such an offer," Peace chattered on. "Allee wanted to come today, but grandma said the Lilac Lady had asked for only me, so she wouldn't listen to Allee's going, too, I should like to have had her."

"She can come Tuesday."

"What's going to happen Tuesday?" asked the child, surprised at having so definite a date named. Elizabeth caught her breath sharply, but at that moment the auto drew up in front of the iron gates, and there stood Aunt Pen on the walk waiting for them, smiling her gentle smile of welcome, a little sweeter, perhaps, and infinitely more tender, for, like Moses, she had just come from her Mount of Transfiguration.

Peace spied her first. "How is my Lady, my Lilac Lady?" she cried, springing into her arms and hugging her warmly. "It's been so long since I've seen her! Is she lots better, Aunt Pen?"

"She is perfectly well now, darling," the woman answered, closing her fingers tightly over the little brown hand in her own, and leading the way up the path to the house.

"She's not under the trees, and—"

"It is November, childie. Have you forgotten?" interrupted Elizabeth.

"So it is! Winter is 'most here. But look at the lovely chrysanthemums I've brought her. It isn't too cold for them yet. Won't she be pleased?"

"I am sure she will," smiled Aunt Pen, and involuntarily she lifted her eyes to the clear blue sky above.

The hall, as they entered its dim coolness, was deserted, and though Peace looked inquiringly about her for her small playmates who usually rushed eagerly to meet her, not one was in sight. From the rooms above, however, floated the sweet strains of Giuseppe's violin and the unrestrained, riotous melody of the lame girl's pet canary, and Peace skipped lightly up the wide stairway, eager to greet each member of this happy family.

The door of the invalid's chamber stood open, and beside the window, shaded by the great oak, still hung with autumn colors, lay the beloved form of the Lilac Lady among her silken cushions. She was clad in simple white, with the heavy bronze braids trailing across her shoulders, and the waxen fingers twined in a familiar pose upon her breast. A soft smile wreathed the colorless lips, but the beautiful blue eyes were closed in slumber, and she looked as if she were resting after a hard-fought battle. So lovely a picture did she present that Peace paused on the threshold, and the gay words of greeting bubbling up to her lips died away in a deep breath of awe.

The room was flooded with autumn sunshine and banked with the flowers the invalid loved best; a plate of luscious fruit stood on the table beside the wheel-chair, a late magazine lay open on the floor close by, and Gypsy sang deliriously from his perch in the big bay window. All this Peace saw, and more. The thin fingers clasped a knot of the once-despised, bright-faced pansies, and a single white one nestled in the red-brown waves at the left temple.

"Oh," breathed Peace, scarcely above a whisper, "isn't she beautiful? She got tired of watching and fell asleep while she was waiting for me!"

Softly she tiptoed across the thick carpet and laid her burden of golden chrysanthemums in the arms of the sleeping girl, and once more repeated the words, "She fell asleep while she was waiting for me! My Lilac Lady has fallen asleep!"

"Yes," said Aunt Pen softly. "'He giveth His beloved sleep.'"