Изображения страниц

Pud was silent a minute. “Listen,” he said at last. “I would like to do it, but I can’t let you take all that trouble for me. I've been rotten to you—I—I was responsible for that nickname—” The kangaroo flushed. “I know. I 'm right above you on the third floor, and I heard you talking one day in the autumn.” “Then all I can say is that you 've been pretty white about the whole thing—and— and I'm sorry—” The kangaroo laughed. “Don’t worry about that. If there is anything I can do to help you with that Cicero, I'd be glad to. And—will you talk just the way the boys do and let me learn it?” Pud stared at him. lish?” “No. I don’t mean that. I don’t admire slang, but I do admire the free and easy way you boys talk together. You see, I've never met any except the Japanese boys, and so-” “Oh, I see what you mean. You want to be a regular fellow? Well, if it can be done, we'll do it. But don’t you try to write any slang for Gilbert in English class or he 'll throw you out. Slang's just about as popular with him as the Allies are with the exkaiser.” Somewhere downstairs a clock struck, and the last few boys came slowly up the stairs. The kangaroo turned. “Well, I'm keeping you from retiring.” “You talk like a tire company's ad.” Pud grinned. “Regular fellows don’t retire, they “hit the hay,” or simply go to bed.” Pud went to the kangaroo's room the next morning between classes and put in a solid hour at his Cicero. Then he came up in the afternoon and never opened a book, but was content to listen to the kangaroo tell about this curio and that as they happened to catch his guest's eye. Many and strange were the tales he told, so that the time passed quickly. That evening, Pud called him down to his room, invited Paddy and Scratchy in, and had him tell some of them over again. After that, the four were always together. While the kangaroo made little progress in learning slang, and was a failure as far as football and basket-ball went, the boys discovered that he had a lot of useful information on other things. For instance, he was the originator of the sport of ice-boating on the pond, he and the other three having made a yacht on the pattern of one that he

“Corrupt your Eng

had seen in a magazine. He was also partly responsible for the success of the school play in February. Then, one never-to-be-forgotten day, he threw Pud in a rough-andtumble in the gym, much to the surprise of the coach, and found himself made an instructor of the Japanese art of self-defense, jiu-jitsu. By the middle of March he was as well liked as any fellow in the school—and yet he had changed very little. He was looked upon as a fine fellow who was willing to help any one in any way he could. He had never been known to refuse to do a boy a favor. His room was open to all who cared to drop in, and he was always ready to stop whatever he might be doing and explain something or tell one of his fascinating tales about Japan. When the track team was ready for work, even his most intimate friends were surprised to hear that he was out for practice and that he surpassed any of the Millbrook athletes in the high jump and pole-vault, and was also a good runner. They were overjoyed at the news, for every year Millbrook and Woodmont Schools held a dual track-meet at which the winner at three consecutive meets would hold a silver cup. Woodmont had held it twice, and before the kangaroo appeared, it seemed that the chances of winning that season were very slim. But as the new-comer trained harder under the coach's guidance and perfected the skill he already had, the prospects seemed brighter. The interest spread even to the visitors on the day of the meet, and they were all talking of the sensational records he had made. He lived up to their expectations, too, not only winning the high jumps, polevault, and broad jumps, but shattering all records. His pole-vaulting was nothing short of sensational, from the moment his figure left the earth and flung itself over the bar until it landed in a heap in the dust. The crowd went wild. He heard the cheering as he scrambled to his feet, and he felt a little tingle of pleasure at the sound. Then he heard his schoolmates yelling the words that had started as a taunt and had never failed to call the hot blood to his cheeks and that had always brought a feeling of resentment. “Yoo-hoo! Kangaroo-hoo!” He stiffened and felt a little thrill of pleasure. The shout was different. It was no longer a yell of derision—they were backing him as they backed the star football player whom he had envied so much in the autumn. They were cheering him as they had cheered Stevens. As he went off the field for a brief rest before the race, he encountered friendly eyes

was apparently as full of pep as ever, starting out with a long, free stride that brought him just a short distance behind Jerrold and kept him there. Sometimes Jerrold would make a spurt and then drop back again, showing that he was usingevery

ounce of his strength. On the other hand, the kangaroo was running easily—in fact, to look at him one would think he was running just for pleasure and not with any object in view. But on the last lap, he gradually lessened the distance between him and Jerrold, drawing closer and closer, and even as his rival made a desperate rush with his last remaining strength, he passed him, several feet from the finish. Every one knew the real race was between those two, that the other members of the track team were of little consequence,—and when the crowd saw that the Woodmont runner could barely keep going, while the kangaroo seemed good for another lap, they broke into enthusiastic cheers. Pud caught the kangaroo as he broke the tape, and flung his sweater around his shoulders, noting, as he did so, the breathless exhaustion of Jerrold. “Oh, boy!” he whis


everywhere. Hands clapped him on the back, and strange voices called to him: “Go to it, old kid! We’re with you!” The contest was not an easy one by any means. There was still a chance that Woodmont would win again. If the kangaroo was too tired to run his best, Jerrold of Woodmont was completely fresh and had a very good chance. However, the kangaroo


pered. “You showed some speed!”

“It was n’t speed,” smiled the kangaroo, “it was endurance. As soon as he started out I saw that he was good for just so much, and that if I could keep him at that, I could tire him out. If it had been a shorter race, I could n’t have done it. You notice I 'm not in the dashes. Think we’ve got the cup, Pud?”

“Don’t know, yet.”


But they had, and the kangaroo was the hero of the day. In the evening, Pud was up in his room with him when he suddenly said, “Pud, Father was right, after all.” Pud looked up. “Why?” “You remember that day when I came and asked if I could help you with your Cicero? Well, that day I had the blues. It seemed that football heroes were the only fellows that any one liked, and I just decided that I was n’t going to try and be friendly with any one any more. Then I got this letter and I decided to try once more.” He rummaged around in his desk and brought out a much folded letter, which, pointing to a paragraph, he passed to Pud, who read:

“Son, you 'll meet men that have things you don’t have, money, family, influence, maybe, and it may seem to you that a certain fellow is succeeding because of something you lack. Don't you believe it. There's a particular niche in this world for every one of us. No matter what we have, the world can use it—don't think of what the other man has. Take stock of what you have to give the other man. No matter how little you have, he may be able to use it. If you have nothing but love to give him, give that.”

Pud re-folded the paper and passed it back.

For a short time he was silent, then he drew a long breath. “Once,” he murmured, “once, you asked me to teach you how to be a regular fellow!—Teach you to be a regular fellow!—You old kangaroo!”

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic]



HEE will be very watchful, Osias? I have a great dread of this journey, and the daily tidings of the red men are not reassuring, despite confidence in thy readiness with them.” “Have no fear, Rachel wife,’’ returned the frontiersman, with a gentle pat of her shoulder; “both the ladland myself are well used to their ways and have no lack of faith in ourselves, nor yet want of trust in Him who watches over all journeys. But see to it— thou and the little one—that ye bide near the settlement, and harbor no stragglers whilst we are gone.” The little group stood in the doorway of the cabin, the furthermost from the center of the small settlement of Bethlehem, then less than a score of years in existence,—and straight up over the tree-tops below them, the smoke from several chimneys rose into the crisp December air. Near by flowed the Monocacy Creek, and but a stone's throw away stood the grist-mill of the community and the smithy, where daily the anvil resounded and the sparks flew from the lusty blows of Osias Ware. The smith—strong, lithe, and well over six feet—was not only expert at his trade, but was also an adept in all matters pertaining to woodcraft. He was likewise reckoned a man of keen intelligence in the community and was well versed in books, sufficiently so to join in discussion with the learned fathers of the colony. His son Elisha, a youth of eighteen, bid fair to equal his father in all these qualities, and had already acquired that maturity of expression which the heavy responsibilities of pioneer life early set upon the face of young manhood. In quick sympathy with his mother's fears, he now gave her a hearty kiss and gaily assured her that they would be back before she had had time to miss them. Little Prudence, with a fast hold of her mother's skirt, experienced with some wonder the first family parting that she had known.

“Wilt return by the Christmas day, Father?” she asked, half shyly, in the quaint speech of her mother, who had been a member of the Quaker faith; “remember, "t is but the fourth day hence.” “Aye, little one, God willing,” replied the smith, catching her up and kissing her on both rosy cheeks; “and thou must have thy candle burning for me, if it chance that we be delayed past sundown.” “That I will,” replied the child, earnestly; “mayhap thou and Elisha canst see it from yon far hill, if thou’rt delayed till it be very dark”; and she pointed with a chubby finger to the distant Blue Ridge, far to the northwest. “That were a goodly distance for so small a beam,” the father answered smilingly. Putting the child down, he gave a final adieu to his wife, and these brief farewells over, the two strode swiftly down the hill. Rachel Ware stood watching them, with a troubled look upon her face, until they disappeared in the woodland trail which led to the Lehigh and up into the wilderness beyond. During the whole day, Osias Ware and Elisha traveled steadily up the valley. No snow had yet fallen, and they made fair progress, though taking care frequently to change their course and constantly watchful on all sides for any indication of the savages, who had, since the French and Indian outbreak, greatly harassed the entire eastern part of the Commonwealth with small marauding parties. It was, in fact, on account of these depredations that the present journey had been undertaken. A missionary from the Bethlehem settlement to Wyoming Valley had not been heard from for so long a time that the community had decided to send messengers and obtain reliable tidings of him, in the face of many rumors that the Shawanos of Wyoming had done him a mischief. Osias Ware and his son, the most reliable woodsmen in the district, had been selected for this dangerous service and had gladly accepted the responsibility. That night the travelers rested at the small settlement on the Mahoning Creek; and pressing on in the early morning, they journeyed without incident all day and arrived toward nightfall on the “prospect rock” above Wyoming Valley. From this emi

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]


Not daring to venture farther, except in the most cautious manner, they sheltered themselves as comfortably as they could in a deep crevice below the rock, known to Osias, and next morning worked their way carefully down to the cabin of the missionary. They found it a ruin, evidently despoiled by the savages some time since, with no trace left of the former inhabitant, and, knowing the futility and danger of attempting a search, with the red men in their present temper, they sadly began the return journey to Bethlehem. They purposely avoided the usual trails out of the valley, and took a route through ravines where the traveling was so roundabout and so difficult that they were not likely to meet rovers. Toward the middle of the afternoon, they were traversing the Nescopeck ridges, hoping to reach the head

was rapidly waning when they caught the first glimpse of the river, still many miles away. Several times, during the last couple of hours, Osias Ware had glanced uneasily backward and around him, when he thought that Elisha would not notice. He had an undefinable impression of being stealthily followed, and some subtle sixth sense gave him warning to be exceedingly watchful. When they had first gained the ridge, early in the afternoon, his keen eye had instantly caught a thin thread of smoke rising far across the valley; and though the opposite ridges seemed miles away, in the dim grayness of the winter day, still Osias felt these unknown neighbors to be unpleasantly near. It was well that the snows had been delayed that season, for had the ground been covered never so lightly, it would have been utterly

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »