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Nothing was left lying about, out of place. “Well, I'm sure I shouldn't mind it a bit, There was neither stick, nor scrap, nor string, in such a nice place as this, and things so upon the carpet. Chairs stood in their proper handy." places, the lid of his trunk was down, closet- Johnnie thought, as he spoke, with an indoor and bureau-drawers were duly closed, ward recoil, of the task that awaited him at and no ends peeped out to betray their con- home, of the slate and pencil that were to tents.
be hunted up,--a vague idea, moreover, The housemaid said, “ it was no work at haunting him that the slate had slipped out all to take care of Master Howard's room. of its frame, and that the latter wasn't“any There was never nothing to pick up; and where.” It seemed as Howard's studying she believed the very dust didn't settle and his own were two very different affairs. there, like it did in the other parts of the And so, in truth, they were. house."
“Here are the eggs,” said Howard, taking And yet Howard, as you must have seen, the box from a shelf in the closet, wherein, was not a boy to be called a “cot-betty.” carefully bedded in cotton, lay the beautiful Manful, enterprising, efficient, no such spoils of the last few days. “And now don't title of derision could possibly attach to touch me, or speak to me. Only look.” him.
It was interesting to watch, as he cauBy the head of his bed, against a window tiously punctured the tinted shells at each that looked out upon the porch wherefrom end with the point of a long needle, which they had just descended, and which was over- he turned gently, like an awl, with a gradual hung with the green drapery of the grape- pressure, until he bored it through ; and then, vine, stood a small table; and upon this, along putting his lips to the smaller ends, blew its further side, was ranged a row of books, out their contents, one after another, into his set up on their edges, in the order of their washing-basin. Now in this mode of blowing size.
out the contents of his eggs, Howard was John read their titles with a growing wrong. The right plan was long ago described feeling of respect.
in the “Boy's Own Magazine," and Howard's Leverett's Lexicon” and “Gould's Vir- was not that plan.—He did it slowly and pagil;” “Sherwin's Algebra," a work on Ge- tiently, Stephen and John keeping quite ology, and one on Natural Philosophy; still at his side, and “only looking," as he "Nuttall's Ornithology,” “Shakspeare," and had said. Only one egg got slightly crack“The Bible.”
ed in the process, and that Howard mended Before these, laid neatly one upon another, with a slip of transparent sticking-plaster. were two Atlases,-one of the usual maps, In two or three was a bird partially formed, and the other of Physical Geography, but of a pulpy, gelatinous consistency only; a portfolio, and a slate, with sponge and and the breath gradually expelled it successnicely-sharpened pencil fastened to it by a fully from the shell. The head and bill, cord.
and the round mass of the body, were "What a capital window this is !". cried plainly discernible in the substance that Johnnie. “I wish I had such a nice place was ejected. to do my studying in. Do you have all John looked on with a curious wonder these lessons in vacation ?”
and delight till all was finished, and “School wasn't to break up for four or Howard distributed to each his share,--five weeks when I came away,” said How all drawing lots for choice among those of ard. “But I hadn't been very well in the which there were no duplicates. How light spring; and I wanted so much to be in the the empty little bubbles felt! Then he country in egging-time, that father said I waited to see Howard deposit his own in might come up here now, if I would promise the larger box which he took from his him to learn certain lessons every day, until bureau; and which contained his whole vacation. He said he should trust me to do collection. There they lay, on a bed of it, and so I'm on honour, you see.”
sawdust, nearly fifty of them, of different
sizes and hues,-from the great white egg Jacob stood in the great south doorway, of a Canada goose, to the tiny, speckled cleaning a harness that hung over the bar. morsel of the house-wren.
“ Seems to me yer don't come back as “I'm having a box made on purpose, at spry as yer went,” said he, as John was the cabinet-maker's in the village,” said passing along. “What's the matter! Got Howard, “ of black walnut, divided into lead in yer boots ?” compartments; and they are to be filled half. “No,” said John, laughing. “ But I've way with black-walnut saw-dust. The eggs got my hands full of birds' eggs. And look splendid against the dark colour.” then,-oh, dear me, Jacob! Have you got
Johnnie felt a sort of uncomfortable ex. a slate-pencil ?” citement as Howard said this, that was “Oh, ho! That's the triberlation, is it? partly an eager wish to have such an one Got some cipherin' ter dew, I guess! Wal, himself, combined with an instinctive doubt -n0,-I ha'n't got no slate-pencil. Ha’n't as to whether his father would think it hed none sence I went ter deestrick school, worth while ;' and partly a feeling that ten year ago, up in Henniker. When I went further back, suggesting dimly the hev any cipherin' ter dew, I jest scratch it incongruity between this and the generality aout, with a piece o'chalk, on a board. of his other arrangements.
Comes as handy's any w With Howard, everything was fit and in eggs yer got?” keeping. It was easy and natural for him “ Six. Look at this blue cat-bird's. Isn't to go on adding, as he had opportunity, to it a beauty ?" his possessions, things of convenience and “ Didg' ever see a night-heron's ?” asked ornament. He had begun at the beginning, Jacob. “ That's abaout 's harnsome 'n and laid his foundation of order and egg 's I knows on. 'N', I know a place, nicety; and all fell in appropriately. John tew, where you might get ’m. On'y't's did not reason so about it; perhaps he an awful long way off, an' a nasty kind of scarcely understood his own intuitive per- a situation when yer git there. A great, ception ; but the vague discomfort he felt dark, lonesome, muggy, musty swamp. admonished him of this and nothing else. Real scary kind of a place. But there's a
He felt more disinclined than ever to great colony of herons there, up’n the old leave his friends, and Howard's pleasant pines.” room, and go home, where was work to “Oh, Jacob! how jolly!” exclaimed do, and nothing ready for doing it. He Johnnie. “We'll go! How big are the loitered, looking over the eggs, admiring eggs? And what colour are they ?” and asking questions, until at last Howard “ Kind of a light yaller green. Bigger'n said, good-naturedly, laying the box back a pullet's. Clear an' smooth. Not a spot in the drawer,-
on 'em." “There, I can't tell you any more now. “Oh, Jacob !” repeated John, ecstatically, It's time for me to be at my Virgil.”
“ Where?” “ And I'll go and get the ‘Young Voy- · Way up on the road to Pontaug. Five ageurs,' and come and sit here while you mile, sartin. Turn off from the road, right study, shall I ?” asked Stephen.
inter the swamp, an' go ahead, tell yer find “Yes,” returned Howard. “Only mum's ’em,-or slump!” the word, remember.”
“Slump! Poh! catch us slumping !" “ All right,” said Stephen.
“ Tell yer what,” said Jacob, giving a Johnnie.” And he led the way out of the last polish, with a bit of wash-silver, to the room, and down the stairs.
silver rings in the saddle; best
'll be, John bade him good-by, and left the ef yer father's willin', jest ter take me 'n house. Slowly he walked down the garden the waggon 'long, some day. P'raps yer path, and into the bit of lane, from which might want a hist, now 'n' then, over the the little gateway opened upon the foot. stumps. An' them air pines is pooty tall path below his father's barn.
climbin', tew, I tell yer!”
" Come on,
“We might take a ladder with us, in the to a like exercise of the lungs, or even that waggon," suggested John.
she might chance to be lying down, or Yes, we might. But I rather guess talking with a friend, or occupied in any we'd hev ter keep it in the waggon. An' one of a dozen different ways that would 't would n't be likely ter dew much good, make such vociferation after her a very 'n seech a case. Yer ʼll dew well enough, unpleasant interruption. ef yer git yer own legs ter the place,
So she had come to the resolution, and let alone ladders."
given Johnnie to understand, that she should Anyhow, we'll go ; won't we, Jacob?” not attempt to answer him until he came “Purvidin',” replied Jacob, sententiously. where she was. On an occasion like this
“I wonder if we couldn't go to-morrow?” | it really did not matter to him ;—the calling pursued Johnnie.
was a mere affair of habit; he was going “I wonder haow much cipherin' yer’ve up stairs in any case ; but there might be got ter dew ter-day ?” rejoined Jacob. circumstances in which he would really be “You've jest 'tend ter that, naow, fer a seriously inconvenienced by not being able spell : an', mebbe, we'll go this afternoon. to speak to her from the foot of the stair. Mind, I say mebbe; I don't say sartin ; case, or from a neighbouring room, and though I don't see nuthin' ter hinder, 's the obtain an answer. People are obliged, someman said 'baout the water comin' over times, to speak to each other in such a Nyaggery Falls. Yer father's comin' aout manner; and when they never do so unne. ’n the noon train, an' onless he's figgered cessarily, no one objects to save trouble by aout sunthin' else fer yer, p'rhaps he won't replying in a voice adequate to the distance. hev no 'bjection ter that.”
John deprived himself of the resource in For a minute or two John seemed seized emergency, by making it, heedlessly, an with a sudden madness.
invariable practice. First, he rushed a little way down the He got half way upstairs before he repath towards the lane again ; then, struck membered this maternal edict, and desisted by a new consideration, he stopped short from his effort to obtain a reply; and then and turned round; then he turned again, it was with irritation, and a muttering of,--with a very uncertain, perplexed expres
“I should think you might answer a sion ; then he suddenly broke into a run fellow, anyhow!”--not actually intended, again, and rushed, without pausing, up the not to be considered as intended, for his lawn, into the house, and called out fran mother's ear, yet reaching her none the less, tically to Mrs. Osburn, from the dining- as of course he knew it would be likely to do. room, where he had given just one hurried Still she sat placidly sewing, as if she glance around,
had heard nothing from first to last, when “Mother! Mother! Where are you? Are. John entered the room. you up-stairs ? Where's my 'Greenleafʼ?” “I want my' Greenleaf,'” said he, gruffly. Mrs. Osburn did not answer.
“There it is, upon the table. Do you John had a habit, which boys are rather know how late you are ?” apt to fall into, of behaving as if his mother John glanced at the clock upon the man. were a sort of ubiquitous household pre- tel-piece.—It was past eleven. sence, to be invoked anywhere, and at any “Oh, dear me!” he exclaimed, crossly, moment, within doors. He would come in, “It's too hot to do sums!” as he had now done, at the extreme end of the
“Isn't it too hot to wear your cap in house, and commence shouting, “ Mother! | the house, Johnnie ?" Mother!” almost as soon as he stepped I've got my hands full.” over the threshold, -continuing to call with John did not stop to show his mother more and more impatience in his voice, dur. the eggs, and claim admiring congratulation ing his whole progress through hall, parlour, for them, as he usually did ; but walked off, and up the staircase, never reflecting that through the dressing-room, to his own chamhis mother might by no means feel inclined l ber. Things were not going on pleasantly.
He put his eggs into the pasteboard-box "Yes; but it kept slipping out of the his mother had given him, bedded with string. I'll tell you !” said he, brightening cotton to lay them in, which he kept on a up; “I'll run back to Steenio's, and get high shelf in his wardrobe. This, at least, him to lend me one.” he was obliged to be careful of. A very “ That's a bad plan, - depending on little thing might crush the whole.
your neighbours,” replied his mother. Then he began his search for slate and “Oh, I dare say he's got half-a-dozen. pencil. He found the former, as he had If he hasn't, Howard has." expected, among the heap of articles on “Nevertheless, if I allow you to borrow the floor of his wardrobe; but without a one this once, you must take it back to frame, and the pencil was nowhere to be him directly you have done with it. That
He tumbled over drawers,--he felt will give you some trouble. And before in pockets,-he shook and stirred every- to-morrow you must go and get some for thing into worse and worse confusion ; but yourself. Will you be sure to remember ?" no pencil was forthcoming.
“Oh, yes; I'll be sure,” replied Johnnie, Ah! order is often more than money! throwing his slate on the sofa, and hurrying A penny would buy pencil enough to last off to his room after his cap. a year, but fifty shillings would'nt bring It was nearly twelve when he came back, Johnnie an inch just at the instant when and really began upon his work. he wanted it so much.
There had been no delay in obtaining “Mother!” said he, despairingly, as he the pencil. Howard had produced from his returned to her chamber at last, “I can't table-drawer an oblong box, neatly stored find a slate-pencil anywhere. There is n't with pens and pencils, and supplied him at one in the house.”
once; but John lingered to communicate His mother rose from her seat, and Jacob's wonderful intelligence of the heronry, walked over to a little table that stood in a and the plan of visiting the swamp: and corner of the room. There was a drawer even Howard could not resist listening and in this table, that was used for the reception asking questions. In fact, the three boys of all sorts of small stray articles. These were in a state of such excitement that she looked over, but even here was no | twenty minutes slipped away quite unnoticed slate-pencil.
as they talked the project over. I don't know what you'll do, Johnnie,” Mrs. Osburn looked grave when John she said. “ The time is growing short. came back; but she said nothing then. You had better begin in some way. I will She did not wish to disturb his mind with regive you a sheet of foolscap, and you may proof just as he was about to begin a lesson work out your sums upon that, and then that would require calmness and attention. copy them upon this,” showing him a nice, For three quarters of an hour, or more, smooth sheet of white paper, which, with John ciphered and copied,--at first, without a carefully sharpened lead-pencil, she had much difficulty or interruption ; but the luid in readiness for him, with his “Green- examples gradually became longer and more leaf.”
complicated. He lost considerable time “I never can do sums on paper,” said over the “silver tankard” question, forJohn, disconsolately. “I make ten times getting that for gold and silver, troy weight as many mistakes when I can't rub out." --not avoirdupois — must be used. The
“Why, what has become of your slate- shorter the time grew, the more he found frame?” inquired his mother, noticing sud- that figures would n't be hurried up. Arithdenly the slate he held in his hand.
metic is a thing that must either be done or “It came off the last day at school,” left undone. There can be no slighting, or said John. “I brought it home in my half-way work about it. satchel, but I don't know where it went to The slate was growing very blurry, with afterwards. 'Tis n't there now.”
frequent rubbings out, --- his brows were “Was n’t your pencil tied to the frame ?” knit,- he shifted uneasily in his seat, and
was giving frequent anxious glances at the “Fifty-six. Six, and five to carry.” clock,-when, just as he was about to appeal “And eight times three?" to his mother for help over a special hobble, “Twenty-four. And five to carry,—why she was summoned to the parlour to receive so it is !” exclaimed Johnnie, astonished at a visitor.
his own blunder. “Twenty-nine ! and I've Johnnie's time of trouble had come. been saying all the time, eight times three Twenty minutes more, and his father would are twenty-seven, and five are thirty-two! have come, to find the task he had set Thank you, mother! I can do it now!" unfinished. Over and over again he read His mother stood by a minute or two, the question whose answer would not come while he went through the remainder of right; and over and over he calculated the the sum, correcting figures that were made figures without discovering his mistake. At wrong by the error at the outset; and then, last, leaning his head, that was growing when he laid down his slate-pencil to copy every minute more tired and confused, be- the example on paper, she quietly took it tween his hands, and resting bis elbows on up and sharpened it with a knife she kept his knees, he gave up, and waited helplessly in her work-basket. He had worn the till he heard his mother's step upon the nice point quite down to a round, blunt end. stairs.
Next, she brought a dampened rag, and tak“Oh, mother!” he cried, as she entered ing up the slate, as he safely transferred the room again,“ do just look at this awful the amount that was justly due to Phineas sum, and see if you can tell where the mis- Bailey, she wiped it clean on both sides. take is !”
“ I think,” said she, as she gave them “I really can hardly spare the time, back to Johnnie, “that half the trouble in Johnnie,” replied Mrs. Osburn. “I have doing any work is diminished, when one's left a lady in the parlour who is to stay implements are all in proper order for use. and dine with us ; and I have some orders I could not accomplish so much sewing in to give about the table. But let me see the same time, if my work-basket, by any what it is,” she added, kindly, seeing him accident, became disordered, as if all were to be in real distress. “Let me look at the straight and comfortable.” book. Is this it? Phineas Bailey ?"
John felt the comfort of the clean slate, “Yes, that's it. I don't see what they and the sharp pencil, as he set clear, round pick out such names for, to make the figures for his next example ; and his head questions harder. John Webster is plain was really less confused, now that the enough ; but I knew I should get into a blurr of the old work was wiped away. If mess with Phineas Bailey !”
he had only had a little more time! “Let me see," repeated his mother, But just as he had reduced 15 miles, 6 taking the slate. “ According to the book, furlongs, 37 rods, to rods, his father's step Phineas is entitled to considerably less sounded on the stairs, and he came up into than you give him. That's treating an ene- the dressing-room. my generously, at least !”
He saw that John's work was not yet “Oh, dear me, mother! Don't laugh! done, and he did not interrupt him then with It's horrid.' I shall never be ready for questions, but quietly gave the necessary father when he comes !”
attention to his toilet, and went down “Don't you see, Johnnie, it's hurry that stairs. He would not interfere with the last is doing all the mischief? Hurry, and chance. worry that always comes with it.”
John had hardly written out the answer, Yes, mother; but I must hurry now," when the dinner-bell rang. pleaded Johnnie. Do, please, look it
It was all over now.
He had his hands over. I'm so tired."
and face to wash, and his hair to brush ; Why, here's the mistake, Johnnie, at and he must not go down late to dinner. the very beginning! Eight times seven are And there was yet another example rehow many ?"
maining to be done!