Betty Gordon in Washington
Alice B. Emerson
Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Avinash Kothare, Tom Allen, Charles Franks
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
BETTY GORDON IN WASHINGTON
Strange Adventures in a Great City
ALICE B. EMERSON
I THE GORED COW
II HOSPITALITY UNDER DIFFICULTIES
III BOB HAS GREAT NEWS
IV AT THE VENDUE
VI THE RUNAWAY MISSED
VII A BELATED LETTER
VIII GOOD-BY TO BRAMBLE FARM
IX NEW FRIENDS
X FELLOW TRAVELERS
XI A SERIOUS MIX-UP
XII STRAIGHTENING THINGS OUT
XIII WASHINGTON MONUMENT
XIV LIBBIE IS ROMANTIC
XV OFF TO INVESTIGATE
XVI WHAT HALE HAD TO TELL
XVII MORE SIGHTSEEING
XVIII BETTY UNDERSTANDS
XIX AN UNEXPECTED MEETING
XX MUTUAL CONFIDENCES
XXI THE ACCIDENT
XXII BEING RESCUED
XXIII ANOTHER RESCUE
XXIV BOB IS CLEARED
XXV FUTURE PLANS
BETTY GORDON IN WASHINGTON
THE GORED COW
For lack of a better listener, Betty Gordon addressed the saucy
little chipmunk that sat on the top rail of the old worn fence and
stared at her with bright, unwinking eyes.
"It is the loveliest vase you ever saw," said Betty, busily sorting
the tangled mass of grasses and flowers in her lap. "Heavy old
colonial glass, you know, plain, but with beautiful lines."
The chipmunk continued to regard her gravely.
"I found it this morning when I was helping Mrs. Peabody clean the
kitchen closet shelves," the girl went on, her slim fingers selecting
and discarding slender stems with fascinating quickness. "It was on
the very last shelf, and was covered with dust. I washed it, and
we're going to have it on the supper table to-night with this bouquet
in it. There! don't you think that's pretty?"
She held out the flowers deftly arranged and surveyed them proudly.
The chipmunk cocked his brown head and seemed to be withholding his
Betty put the bouquet carefully down on the grass beside her and
stretched the length of her trim, graceful self on the turf, burying
her face luxuriously in the warm dry "second crop" of hay that had
been raked into a thin pile under the pin oak and left there
forgotten. Presently she rolled over and lay flat on her back,
studying the lazy clouds that drifted across the very blue sky.
"I'd like to be up in an airplane," she murmured drowsily, her
eyelids drooping. "I'd sail right into a cloud and see--What was that?"
She sat up with a jerk that sent the hitherto motionless chipmunk
scurrying indignantly up the nearest tree, there to sit and shake his
head angrily at her.
"Sounds like Bob!" said Betty to herself. "My goodness, that was Mr.
Peabody--they must be having an awful quarrel!"
The voices and shouts came from the next field, separated from her
by a brook, almost dry now, and a border of crooked young willow
trees grown together in an effective windbreak.
"Anybody who'll gore a cow like that isn't fit to own a single dumb
creature!" A clear young voice shaking with passion was carried by
the wind to the listening girl.
"When I need a blithering, no-'count upstart to teach me my
business, I'll call on you and not before," a deeper, harsh voice
snarled. "When you're farming for yourself you can feed the
neighbors' critters on your corn all you've a mind to!"
"Oh, dear!" Betty scrambled to her feet, forgetting the bouquet so
carefully culled, and darted in the direction of the willow hedge. "I
do hope Mr. Peabody hasn't been cruel to an animal. Bob is always so
furious when he catches him at that!"
She crossed the puttering little brook by the simple expedient of
jumping from one bank to the other and scrambled through the willow
trees, emerging, flushed and anxious-eyed, to confront a boy about
fourteen years old in a torn straw hat and faded overalls and a tall,
lean middle-aged man with a pitchfork in his hands.
"Well?" the latter grunted, as Betty glanced fearfully at him. "What
did you come for? I suppose you think two rows of corn down flat is
something to snicker at?"
They stood on the edge of a flourishing field of corn, and,
following the direction of Mr. Peabody's accusing finger, Betty
Gordon saw that two fine rows had been partially eaten and trampled.
"Oh, that's too bad!" she said impulsively, "What did it--a stray
"Keppler's black and white heifer," answered Mr. Peabody grimly.
"Bob here is finding fault with me because I didn't let it eat its
"No such thing!" Bob Henderson was stung into speech. "Because the
poor creature didn't get out fast enough to suit you--and you
bewildered her with your shouting till she didn't know which way to
turn--you jabbed her with the pitchfork. I saw the blood! And I say
nobody but an out and out coward would do a thing like that to a dumb
"Oh!" breathed Betty again, softly. "How could you!"
"Now I've heard about enough of that!" retorted Mr. Peabody angrily.
"If you'd both attend to your own business and leave me to mind mine,
we'd save a lot of time. You, Bob, go let down the bars and turn that
critter into the road. Maybe Keppler will wake up and repair his
fences after all his stock runs off. You'd better help him, Betty. He
might step on a grub-worm if you don't go along to watch him!"
Bob strode off, kicking stones as he went, and Betty followed
silently. She helped him lower the bars and drive the cow into the
road, then put the bars in place again.
"Where are you going?" she ventured in surprise, as Bob moodily
trudged after the animal wending an erratic way down the road.
"Going to take her home," snapped Bob, "Peabody would like to see
Keppler have to get her out of the pound, but I'll save him that
trouble. You can go on back and read your book."
"Just because you're mad at Mr. Peabody is no reason why you should
be cross to me," said Betty with spirit. "I wasn't reading a book,
and I'm coming with you. So there!"
Bob laughed and told her to "come on." He was seldom out of sorts
long. Indeed, of the two, Betty had the quicker temper and cherished
a grudge more enduringly.
"Just the same, Betty," Bob announced, as he skillfully persuaded
the cow to forego the delights of a section of particularly sweet
grass and proceed on her course, "I'm about through. I can't stand it
much longer; and lately I've been afraid that in a rage I might
strike Mr. Peabody with something and either kill him or hurt him
badly. Of course, I wouldn't do it if I stopped to think, but when he
gets me furious as he did to-day, I don't stop to think."
"Well, for mercy's sake, Bob Henderson," ejaculated Betty in an
instant alarm, "don't kill him, whatever you do. Then you'd be put in
prison for life!"
"All right," agreed Bob equably, "I won't kill him--just nick him in
a few places--how will that do?"
"But I'm really serious," insisted Betty. "Don't let the cow turn up
that lane. Think how awful you would feel if you were sent to prison,
Bob took refuge in a masculine stronghold.
"If that isn't just like a girl!" he said scornfully. "Who said I
was going to prison? I merely say I don't want to lose my temper and
do something rash, and you have me convicted and sentenced for life.
Gee, Betty, have a little mercy!"
Betty's lips trembled.
"I can't bear to think of you going away and leaving me here," she
faltered. "I'm not going to stay either, Bob, not one minute after I
hear from Uncle Dick. I'm sure if the Benders knew how things were
going, they would think we had a right to leave. I had the loveliest
letter from Mrs. Bender this morning--but it had been opened."
Bob switched an unoffending flower head savagely.
"You come out of that!" he shouted to the perverse cow that seemed
determined to turn to the left when she was plainly asked to turn to
the right. "Wait a minute, Betty; here's Fred Keppler."
The half-grown boy who accosted them with "What are you doing with
our cow?" grinned fatuously at Betty, showing several gaps in a row
of fine teeth.
"Keep your cow at home where she belongs," directed Bob
magnificently. "She's been making her dinner off our corn."
"Oh, gee," sighed the boy nervously. "I'll bet old Peabody was in a
tearing fury. Look, Bob, something's tore her hide! She must have
been down in the blackberry bushes along the brook."
"Well, see that it doesn't happen again," commanded Bob, gracefully
withdrawing by walking backward. "Corn that's as high as ours is
worth something, you know."
"You never told him about the pitchfork," said Betty accusingly, as
soon as Fred Keppler and the cow were out of earshot. "You let him
think it was blackberry bushes that scratched her like that."
"Well, his father will know the difference," grinned Bob cheerfully.
"Why should I start an argument with Fred? Saving the cow from the
pound ought to be enough, anyway. Mr. Keppler has had to buy more
than one animal out before this; he will not pay attention to his
Betty sat down on a broad boulder and leaned up against an old
"Stone in my shoe," she said briefly. "You'll have to wait just a
Bob sat down on the grass and began to hunt for four leaf clovers,
an occupation of which he never tired.
"Do you think Mr. Peabody opened your letter?" he asked abruptly.
Betty paused in the operation of untying her shoe.
"Who else would?" she said thoughtfully. "It wasn't even pasted
together again, but slit across one end, showing that whoever did it
didn't care whether I noticed it or not. I'll never mail another
letter from that box. I'll walk to Glenside three times a day first!"
"Well, the only thing to do is to clear out," said Bob firmly.
"You'll have to wait till you hear from your uncle, or at least till
the Benders get back. We promised, you know, that we wouldn't run
away without telling them, or if there wasn't time, writing to them
and saying where we go. That shows, I think, that they suspected
things might get too hot to be endured."
"I simply must get a letter from Uncle Dick or go crazy," sighed
Betty feverishly. She put on her shoe and stood up. "I wish he would
come for me himself and see how horrid everything is."
HOSPITALITY UNDER DIFFICULTIES
Betty Gordon had come to Bramble Farm, as Mr. Peabody's home was
known, early in the summer to stay until her uncle, Richard Gordon,
should be able to establish a home for her, or at least know enough
of his future plans to have Betty travel with him. He was interested
in mines and oil wells, and his business took him all over the country.
Betty was an orphan, and this Uncle Dick was her only living
relative. He came to her in Pineville after her mother's death and
when the friends with whom she had been staying decided to go to
California. He remembered Mrs. Peabody, an old school friend, and
suggested that Betty might enjoy a summer spent on a farm. These
events are related in the first book of this series, called "Betty
Gordon at Bramble Farm."
That story tells how Betty came to the farm to find Joseph Peabody a
domineering, pitiless miser, his wife Agatha, a drab woman crushed in
spirit, and Bob Henderson, the "poorhouse rat," a bright intelligent
lad whom the Peabodys had taken from the local almshouse for his
board and clothes. Betty Gordon found life at Bramble Farm very
different from the picture she and her uncle had drawn in
imagination, and only the fact that her uncle's absence in the oil
fields had prevented easy communication with him had held her through
Once, indeed, she had run away, but circumstances had brought her
and Bob to the pleasant home of the town police recorder, and Mr. and
Mrs. Bender had proved themselves true and steadfast friends to the
boy and girl who stood sorely in need of friendship. It was the
Benders who had exacted a promise from both Bob and Betty that they
would not run away from Bramble Farm without letting them know.
Betty had been instrumental in causing the arrest of two men who had
stolen chickens from the Peabody farm, and at the hearing before the
recorder something of Mr. Peabody's characteristics and of the
conditions at Bramble Farm had been revealed.
Anxious to have Betty and Bob return, Joseph Peabody had practically
agreed to treat them more humanely, and for a few weeks, during which
the Benders had gone away for their annual vacation, matters at
Bramble Farm had in the main improved. But they were gradually
slipping back to the old level, and this morning, when Peabody had
gored the cow with his pitchfork, Bob had thought disgustedly that it
was useless to expect anything good at the hands of the owner of
As he and Betty tramped back after delivering the cow, Bob's mind
was busy with plans that would free him from Mr. Peabody and set him
forward on the road that led to fortune. Bob included making a
fortune in his life work, having a shrewd idea that money rightly
used was a good gift.
"Where do you suppose your uncle is?" he asked Betty, coming out of
a reverie wherein he bade Bramble Farm and all the dwellers there
with a single exception a cold and haughty farewell.
"Why, I imagine he is in Washington," returned Betty confidently.
"His last letter was from there, though two days ago a postal came
from Philadelphia. I think likely he went up to see his lawyer and
get his mail. You know it was held there while he was out West. I
hope he has all my letters now, and last night I wrote him another,
asking him if I couldn't leave here. I said I'd rather go to the
strictest kind of a boarding school; and so I would. I'll mail the
letter this afternoon in Glenside."
"It's too long a walk for you to take on a hot afternoon," grumbled
Bob. "I'm going over to Trowbridge, and I'll mail it there for you."
Betty pulled the letter from her blouse pocket and handed it to him.
"Where's Trowbridge?" she asked, as they came in sight of the
boundary line of Bramble Farm and sighted Mr. Peabody in conversation
with the mail carrier at the head of the lane. "Can I go with you?"
"We'd better hurry," suggested Bob, quickening his steps.
"Trowbridge is four miles beyond Laurel Grove. You've never been
there. No, you can't go, Betty, because I have to ride the sorrel. I
suppose in time old Peabody will buy another wagon, but no one can
tell when that will come to pass."
The wagon house had burned one night, and the master of Bramble Farm
could not bring himself to pay out the cash for even a secondhand
wagon. As a result, the always limited social activities of the farm
were curtailed to the vanishing point.
"What are you going for?" persisted Betty, who had her fair share of
feminine curiosity with the additional excuse that interesting events
were few and far between in her present everyday life.
"Going to a vendue," he announced. "Now how much do you know?"
Betty tossed her head, and elevated her small, freckled nose.
"A vendue?" she repeated. "Why, a vendue is a--a--what is it, Bob?"
"A sale," said Bob. "Some farmer is going to sell out and Peabody
wants a wagon. So I have to ride that horse fourteen miles and back
--and he has a backbone like a razor blade!--to buy a wagon; that is,
if no one bids over me."
"And Mr. Peabody won't pay more than six dollars; he said so at the
supper table last night," mourned Betty. "You'll never be able to buy
a wagon for that. I wish I could go, too. Bob, I never saw a country
vendue. Please, can't I?"
"You cannot," replied Bob with unaccustomed decision. Betty usually
wheedled him into granting her requests. "Haven't I just told you
there is nothing to go in? If you see yourself perched on that raw-boned
nag with me, I don't, that's all. But I tell you what; there's
a sale to-morrow at a farm this side of Glenside--I'll take you to
that, if you like. I guess Peabody will let me off, seeing as how
there are wagons advertised. We can easily walk to Faulkner's place."
This promise contented Betty, and she ate her dinner quietly. Bob
rode off on the old horse directly after dinner, and then for the
first time Betty noticed that Mrs. Peabody seemed worried about
"Don't you feel well? Won't you go upstairs and lie down and let me
do the dishes?" urged the girl. "Do, Mrs. Peabody. You can have a
nice, long rest before it's time to feed the chickens."
"I feel all right," said Mrs. Peabody dully. "Only--well, I found
this card from the new minister back of the pump this morning. It's a
week old, and he says he's coming out to call this afternoon. There's
no place in the house I can show him, and I haven't got a decent
Betty swallowed her first impulse to say what she thought of a
husband who would make no effort to see that his wife received her
mail, and instead turned her practical mind to consideration of the
immediate moment. The so-called parlor was hopeless she knew, and she
dismissed it from the list of possibilities at once. It was a
sparsely furnished, gloomy room, damp and musty from being tightly
closed all summer, and the unpainted, rough boards had never been
"There's the porch," said Betty suddenly. "Luckily that's shady in
the afternoon, and we can bring out the best things to make it look
used. You let me fix it, Mrs. Peabody. And you can wear--let me see,
what can you wear?"
Mrs. Peabody waited patiently, her eyes mirroring her explicit faith
in Betty's planning powers.
"Your white shirtwaist and skirt," announced the girl at length.
"They're both clean, aren't they? I thought so. Well, I'll lend you a
ribbon girdle, and you can turn in the high neck so it will be more
in style. You'll see, it will look all right."
While Mrs. Peabody washed her dishes with more energy than usual
because she had a definite interest in the coming hours, Betty flew
to the shabby room that was titled by courtesy the parlor. She flung
up the windows and opened the blinds recklessly. She would take only
the plain wooden chair and the two rockers, she decided, for the
stuffed plush furniture would look ridiculous masquerading as summer
furnishings. The sturdy, square table would fit into her scheme, and
also the small rug before the blackened fireplace.
She dashed back to the kitchen and grabbed the broom. She did not
dare scrub the porch floor for fear that it would not dry in time,
but she swept it carefully and spread down the rug. Then one by one,
and making a separate trip each time, she carried out the table and
the chairs. With a passing sigh for the bouquet abandoned in the
field and probably withered by this time, she managed to get enough
flowers from the overgrown neglected garden near the house to fill
the really lovely colonial glass vase she had discovered that morning.
"It looks real pretty," pronounced Mrs. Peabody, when she was
brought out to see the transformed corner of the porch. "Looks as if
we used it regular every afternoon, doesn't it? Do you think it will
be all right not to ask him in, Betty?"
"Of course," said Betty stoutly. "Don't dare ask him in! If he wants
a drink of water, call me, and I'll get it for him. You must be
sitting in your chair reading a magazine when he comes and he'll
think you always spend your afternoons like that."
"I'll hurry and get dressed," agreed Mrs. Peabody, giving a last
satisfied glance at the porch. "I declare, I never saw your beat,
Betty, for making things look pretty."
Betty needed that encouragement, for when it came to making Mrs.
Peabody look pretty in the voluminous white skirt and stiff
shirtwaist of ten years past, the task seemed positively hopeless.
Betty, however, was not one to give in easily, and when she had
brushed and pinned her hostess's thin hair as softly as she could
arrange it, and had turned in the high collar of her blouse and
pinned it with a cameo pin, the one fine thing remaining to Mrs.
Peabody from her wedding outfit, adding a soft silk girdle of gray-blue,
she knew the improvement was marked. Mrs. Peabody stared at
herself in the glass contentedly.
"I didn't know I could look that nice," she said with a candor at
once pathetic and naive. "I've been wishing he wouldn't come, but now
I kinda hope he will."
Betty gently propelled her to the porch and established her in one
of the rocking chairs with a magazine to give her an air of leisure.
"You'll come and talk to him, won't you?" urged Mrs. Peabody
anxiously. "It's been so long since I've seen a stranger I won't know
what to say."
"Yes, you will," Betty assured her "I'll come out after you've
talked a little while. He won't stay long, I imagine, because he will
probably have a number of calls to pay."
"Well, I hope Joseph stays out of sight," remarked Joseph Peabody's
wife frankly. "Of course, in time the new minister will know him as
well as the old one did; but I would like to have him call on me like
other parishioners first."
BOB HAS GREAT NEWS
The new minister proved to be a gentle old man, evidently retired to
a country charge and, in his way, quite as diffident as Mrs. Peabody.
He was apparently charmed to be entertained on the porch, and saw
nothing wrong with the neglected house and grounds. His near-sighted
eyes, beaming with kindness and good-will, apparently took comfort
and serenity for granted, and when Betty came out half an hour after
his arrival, carrying a little tray of lemonade and cakes, he was
deep in a recital of the first charge he had held upon his graduation
from the theological seminary forty years before.
"There, that's over!" sighed Mrs. Peabody, quite like the
experienced hostess, when the minister's shabby black buggy was well
on its way out of the lane. "You're dreadful good, Betty, to help me
through with it. He won't come again for another six months--it takes
him that long to cover his parish, the farms are so far apart. Let me
help you carry back the chairs."
Betty longed to suggest that they leave them out and use the porch
as an outdoor sitting room, but she knew that such an idea would be
sure to meet with active opposition from the master of Bramble Farm.
Long before he came in to supper that night the chairs had been
restored to their proper places and Mrs. Peabody had resumed the gray
wrapper she habitually wore. Only the vase of flowers on the table
was left to show that the afternoon had been slightly out of the
ordinary. That and the tray of glasses Betty had unfortunately left
on the draining board of the sink, intending to wash them with the
"Whose glasses, and what's been in 'em?" demanded Mr. Peabody
suspiciously. "There's sugar in the bottom of one of 'em. You haven't
been making lemonade?" He turned to his wife accusingly.
Bob had not come home yet, and there was only Ethan, the hired man,
Betty, and the Peabodys at the supper table.
"I made lemonade," said Betty quietly. "Those are my own glasses I
bought in Glenside, and the sugar and lemons were mine, too. So were
This silenced Peabody, for he knew that Betty's uncle sent her money
from time to time, and though he fairly writhed to think that she
Could spend it so foolishly, he could not interfere.
As soon as it was dark the Peabody household retired, to save
lighting lamps, and this evening was no exception. Betty learned from
a stray question Mrs. Peabody put to Ethan, the hired man, that Bob
was not expected home until ten or eleven o'clock. There was no
thought of sitting up for him, though Betty knew that in all
likelihood he would have had no supper, having no money and knowing
no one in Trowbridge.
She was not sleepy, and having brushed and braided her hair for the
night, she threw her sweater over her dressing gown and sat down at
the window of her room, a tin of sardines and a box of crackers in
her lap, determined to see to it that Bob had something to eat.
There was a full moon, and the road lay like a white ribbon between
the silver fields. Betty could follow the lane road out to where it
met the main highway, and now and then the sound of an automobile
horn came to her and she saw a car speed by on the main road. Sitting
there in the sweet stillness of the summer night, she thought of her
mother, of the old friends in Pineville, and, of course, of her
uncle. She wondered where he was that night, if he thought of her,
and what would be his answer to her letter.
"Is that a horse?" said Betty to herself, breaking off her reverie
abruptly. "Hark! that sounds like a trotting horse."
She was sure that she could make out the outlines of a horse and
rider on the main road, but it was several minutes before she was
positive that it had turned into the lane. Yes, it must be Bob. No
one else would be out riding at that hour of the night. Betty glanced
at her wrist-watch--half-past ten.
The rhythmic beat of the horse's hoofs sounded more plainly, and
soon Betty heard the sound of singing. Bob was moved to song in that
lovely moonlight, as his sorry mount was urged to unaccustomed spirit
and a feeling of freedom.
"When in thy dreaming,
moons like these shall shine again,
And, daylight beaming,
prove thy dreams are vain."
Bob's fresh, untrained voice sounded sweet and clear on the night
air, and to Betty's surprise, tears came unbidden into her eyes. She
was not given to analysis.
"Moonlight always makes me want to cry," she murmured, dashing the
drops from her eyes. "I hope Bob will look up and know that I'm at
the window. I don't dare call to him."
But Bob, who had stopped singing while still some distance from the
house, clattered straight to the barn.
Betty hurried over to her lamp, lit it, and set it on the window sill.
"He'll see it from the barn," she argued wisely, "and know that I am
Her reasoning proved correct, for in a few minutes a well-known
whistle sounded below her window. She blew out the light and leaned
"Oh, Betty!" Bob's tone was one of repressed excitement. "I've got
something great to tell you."
"Have you had any supper?" demanded Betty, more concerned with that
question than with any news. "I've something for you, if you're
"Hungry? Gee, I'm starved!" was the response. "I didn't dare stop to
ask for a meal anywhere, because I knew I'd be late getting home as
it was. The horse was never cut out for a saddle horse; I'm so stiff
I don't believe I can move to-morrow. Where's the eats?"
"Here. I'll let it down in a moment," answered Betty, tying a string
to the parcel. "Sorry it isn't more, Bob, but the larder's getting
Bob untied the can and cracker box she lowered to him, and Betty
pulled in the string to be preserved for future use.
"Thanks, awfully," said Bob. "You're a brick, Betty. And, say, what
do you think I heard over in Trowbridge?"
"Don't talk so loud!" cautioned Betty. "What, Bob?"
"Why, the poorhouse farm is this side of the town," said Bob,
munching a cracker with liveliest manifestations of appreciation.
"Coming back to-night--that's what made me late--Jim Turner, who's
poormaster now, called me in. Said he had something to tell me. It
seems there was a queer old duffer spent one night there a while back
--Jim thought it must have been a month ago. He has a secondhand
bookshop in Washington, and he came to the poorhouse to look at some
old books they have there--thought they might be valuable. They
opened all the records to him, and Jim says he was quite interested
when he came to my mother's name. Asked a lot of questions about her
and wanted to see me. Jim said he was as queer as could be, and all
they could get out of him was that maybe he could tell me something
to interest me. He wouldn't give any of the poorhouse authorities an
inkling of what he knew, and insisted that he'd have to see me first."
"Where is he?" demanded Betty energetically. "I hope you didn't come
away without seeing him, Bob. What's his name? How does he look?"
"His name," said Bob slowly, "is Lockwood Hale. And he went back to
Washington the next day."
Betty's air castles tumbled with a sickening slump.
"Bob Henderson!" she cried, remembering, however, to keep her voice
low. "The idea! Do you mean to tell me they let that man go without
notifying you? Why I never heard of anything so mean!"
"Oh, I'm not important," explained Bob, quite without bitterness.
"Poorhouse heads don't put themselves out much for those under 'em
--though Jim Turner's always treated me fair enough. But Lockwood Hale
had to go back to Washington the next day, Betty. There honestly
wasn't time to send for me."
"Perhaps they gave him your address," said Betty hopefully. "But,
oh, Bob, you say he was there a month ago?"
Bob nodded unhappily.
"He hasn't my address," he admitted. "Jim says he meant to give it
to him, but the old fellow left suddenly without saying a word to any
one. Jim thought maybe he had the name in mind and would write
anyway. I'd get it, you know, if it went to the poorhouse. But I
guess Hale's memory is like a ragbag--stuffed with odds and ends that
he can't get hold of when he wants 'em. No, Betty, I guess the only
thing for me to do is to go to Washington."
"Well, if you don't go to bed, young man, I'll come down there and
help you along," an angry whisper came from the little window up
under the roof. "You've been babbling and babbling steady for half an
hour," grumbled the annoyed Ethan. "How do you expect me to get any
sleep with that racket going on? Come on up to bed before the old man
Thankful that it was Ethan instead of Mr. Peabody, Bob gathered up
his sardines and the remnants of the crackers and tiptoed up the
attic stairs to the room he shared with the hired man.
Betty hastily slipped into bed, and though Bob's news had excited
her, she was tired enough to fall asleep readily.
In the morning she watched her chance to speak to Bob alone, and
when she heard him grinding a sickle in the toolhouse ran out to tell
"You must let me lend you some money, Bob," she said earnestly. "I
know you haven't enough to go to Washington on. I've been saving,
thanks to your advice, and I have more than I need. Besides, I could
borrow from the Guerins or the Benders. You will take some, won't you?"
"I have enough, really I have," insisted Bob. "You know Dr. Guerin
sold every one of those charms I carved, and I haven't spent a cent.
It's all buried in a little canvas bag under the rose bush, just like
a movie. I hate to take money from a girl, Betty."
"Don't be silly!" Betty stamped her foot angrily. "It's only a loan,
Bob. And you'd feel cheap, wouldn't you, if you had to come back
after you ran away because you didn't have enough money? You take
this, and you can pay it back as soon as you please after you have
seen the old bookstore man."
She pushed a tight little wad of money into the boy's perspiring hand.
"All right," he capitulated. "I'll borrow it. I would like to know I
had enough. Sure I'm not crippling you, Betsey?"
Betty shook her head, smiling.
"I've enough to buy a ticket to Washington," she assured him.
"That's all we need, isn't it, Bob? Oh, how I wish Uncle Dick would
send for me!"
AT THE VENDUE
The shout awakened Betty at dawn the next morning, and running to
the window she saw Bob disappear into the barn, Mr. Peabody close on
"Oh, goodness, I suppose he's scolding about something," sighed the
girl. "There always is something to find fault about. I hope Bob will
keep his temper, because I want him to be able to take me to the
vendue this afternoon."
Joseph Peabody came into breakfast in a surly frame of mind, a
mental condition faithfully reflected in the attitude of his hired
man who jerked back his chair and subsided into it with a grunt.
Betty's irrepressible sense of humor pictured the dog (the Peabodys
kept no dog because the head of the house considered that dogs ate
more than they were worth) tucking his tail between his legs and
slinking under the table as a port in the storm. The dog, she
decided, glancing at Mrs. Peabody's timid face, was all that was
needed to set the seal on a scene of ill-nature and discomfort.
Bob, when he came in late with the milk pails, wore a black scowl
and set his burden down with a crash that spilled some of the
precious fluid on to the oilcloth top of the side table.
"Be a little more careful with that," growled Mr. Peabody, taking
the last piece of ham, which left nothing but the fried potatoes and
bread for Bob's breakfast. "The cows are going dry fast enough
without you trying to waste the little they give."
Bob, looking as though he could cheerfully fling the contents of
both pails over his employer, sullenly began to pump water into the
hand basin. This habit of "washing up" at the kitchen sink while a
meal was in progress always thoroughly disgusted Betty, and Bob
usually performed his ablutions on the back porch. This morning he
was evidently too cross to consider a second person's feelings.
"Always ready enough to throw out what doesn't belong to you," went
on Mr. Peabody grumbling. "Born in the poorhouse, you're in a fair
way to die there. If I didn't watch you every minute, you'd waste
more than I can save in a year."
Bob, his face buried in the roller towel, lost his temper at this
"Oh, for Pete's sake, shut up!" he muttered.
But Mr. Peabody had heard. With a quickness that surprised even his
wife, for ordinarily he slouched his way around, he sprang from his
chair, reached the side of the unconscious Bob, and soundly boxed his
"I'll take no impudence from you!" he cried, enraged. "Here, come
back!" he yelled, as Bob started for the door. "You come back here
and sit down. When you don't come to the table, it will be because I
say so. Sit down, I say!"
Bob, his face livid, his ears ringing, dropped into a chair at the
table. Ethan continued to eat stolidly, and Betty kept her eyes
resolutely fastened on her plate.
"Just for that, you stay home from the Faulkner sale!" announced Mr.
Peabody who was more than ordinarily loquacious that morning. "I'll
find something for you to do this afternoon that'll keep your hands
busy, if not your tongue. Eat your breakfast. I'll have no mincing
over food at my table."
Poor Bob, who had often been forbidden a meal as punishment, now
mechanically tried to eat the unappetizing food placed before him.
Betty was terribly disappointed about the sale, for she had set her
heart on going. There were few pleasures open to her as a member of
the household at Bramble Farm, and, with the exception of the Guerin
girls in town, she had no girl friends her own age. Bob had proved
himself a sympathetic, loyal chum, and he alone had made the summer
"Don't care!" she cried, to console the boy, as Peabody and his
helper went out of the house to begin the field work for the day.
"Don't care, Bob. I really don't mind not going to the sale."
Mrs. Peabody was in the pantry, straining the milk.
"We're going," whispered Bob. "You meet me right after dinner at the
end of the lane. I'm sick of being knocked around, and I think Jim
Turner will be at the sale. I want to see him. Anyway, we're going."
"But--but Mr. Peabody will be furious!" ventured Betty. "You know
what a scene he will make, Bob. Do you think we had better go?"
"You needn't," said Bob ungraciously. "I am."
"Of course, if you go, so will I," replied Betty, swallowing a sharp
retort. Bob was badgered enough without a contribution from her.
"Perhaps he will not miss us--we can get back in time for supper."
Immediately after dinner at noon Mr. Peabody sent Bob out to the hay
loft to pitch down hay for the balers who were expected to come and
set up their machine that night, ready for work the next day. He
could not have selected a meaner job, for the hay loft was stifling
in the heat of the midday sun which beat down on the roof of the
barn, and there were only two tiny windows to supply air. Mr. Peabody
himself was going up in the woods to mark trees for some needed fence
Bob departed with a significant backward glance at Betty, which sent
her flying upstairs to get into a clean frock. Mrs. Peabody
manifested so little interest in her activities that the girl
anticipated no difficulty in getting safely out of the house. As it
happened, her hostess made the way even easier.
"If you're going to Glenside, Betty," she remarked dully, stopping
in the doorway of Betty's room as the girl pulled on her hat, "I wish
you'd see if Grimshaw has any meat scraps. Joseph might get me a bit
the next time he goes over. Just ask how much it is, an' all--the
hens need something more than they're getting."
Betty knew that Joseph Peabody would never buy meat scraps for his
wife's hens. Indeed, she had priced stuff several times at Mrs.
Peabody's request and nothing had ever come of it. But she agreed to
go to Grimshaw's if she got that far in her walk, and Mrs. Peabody
turned aside into her own room without asking any questions.
"Gee! thought you never were coming," complained Bob, when the slim
figure in the navy serge skirt and white middy met him at the end of
the lane road. "The sale starts at one sharp, you know, and we'll
miss the first of it. Lots of 'em will come in overalls, so I'll be
Before they had walked very far they were overtaken by a rattling
blackboard, drawn by a lean, raw-boned white horse and driven by a
cheerful farmer's wife who invited them to "hop in," an invitation
which they accepted gratefully. She was going to the Faulkner vendue,
she informed them, and her heart was set on three wooden wash tubs
and seven yards of ingrain carpet advertised in the list of household
goods offered for sale.
"My daughter's going to set up for herself next fall," she said
happily, "and that ingrain will be just the thing for her spare room."
When they reached the Faulkner farm, a rather commonplace group of
buildings set slightly in a hollow, they found teams and automobiles
of every description blocking the lane that led to the house.
Bob tied the white horse to an unoccupied post for the woman, and
she hastened away, worried lest the ingrain carpet be sold before she
could reach the crowd surrounding the auctioneer.
Betty, for whom all this was a brand-new experience, enjoyed the
excitement keenly. She followed Bob up to the front porch of the
house where the household effects were being put up for sale, Bob
explaining that the live stock would be sold later.
"Well, look who's here!" cried a hearty voice, as a man, moving
aside to give Betty room, allowed the person standing next to him to
see the girl's face. "Betty Gordon! And Bob, too! Not thinking of
going to farming, are you?"
Gray-haired, kindly-faced Doctor Guerin shook hands cordially, and
kept a friendly arm across Bob's thin shoulders.
"Friends of yours coming home next Tuesday," he said, smiling as one
who knows he brings pleasant news. "The Benders are due in Laurel
Grove. Mrs. Guerin had a postal card last night."
Betty was glad to hear this, for she did not want Bob to leave
Bramble Farm without seeking the advice of the fine young police
recorder who had been so good to them and whose friendship both she
and Bob valued as only those can who need real friends.
"I came to bid on a secretary," Doctor Guerin confided presently.
"It's the only good thing in the whole house. Rest of the stuff is
nothing but trash. That antique dealer from Petria is here, too, and
I suspect he has his eye on the same piece. Don't you want to bid for
me Bob, to keep him in the dark?"
Bob was delighted to do the doctor a service, and when the mahogany
secretary was put up for sale the few other bidders soon dropped out,
leaving the field to the Petria dealer and the lad in the faded
overalls. The dealer, of course, knew that Bob must represent some
buyer, but he could not decide for whom he was bidding, and so was in
the dark as to how high his opponent would go. Had he known that
Doctor Hal Guerin was bidding against him, he would have been
enlightened, for the doctor's collection of antiques was really
famous and the envy of many a professional collector.
"I suppose some rube wants the desk for his sitting room," thought
the Petria man lazily, his eye, keen as it was, failing to see the
doctor in the crowd. "Let him have it, and I'll buy it from him for
ten dollars more before he leaves the sale. He can't resist turning
over his money quick like that."
So when the auctioneer boomed "Sold for forty dollars," and in
answer to his request for the buyer's name Bob said clearly, "Doctor
Guerin," in his own language, the man from Petria was "just plain
After the household things were sold--and Betty noted with
satisfaction that the three tubs and the ingrain carpet went to the
woman who had so coveted them--she and Bob went out to the barn and
watched the horses and cows, wagons, harnesses and farm machinery
sold. It was an absorbing and colorful scene, and the boy and girl,
fascinated, lingered till the last item was checked off. Then, with a
start, Bob heard a farmer announce that it was half past five.
"Oh dear!" sighed Betty nervously, "you ought to be milking this
minute. Oh, Bob, let's not go home! Couldn't we stay overnight with
"Now don't you be afraid, there won't anything happen to scare you,"
responded Bob soothingly. It must be confessed that the knowledge of
the little sum of money tucked away under the rosebush gave him a
bolder outlook on the future.
Hiram Keppler, who owned the farm just beyond the Peabody place,
gave them a lift as far as their lane, and as they hurried down the
road Betty tried her best to master her dread of the coming
interview. She had not a doubt but that Bob's absence would have been
noticed. Looking ahead fearfully, she saw a sight that confirmed her
Joseph Peabody stood at the barnyard gate, a horsewhip in his hand
"Oh, Bob!" Betty clutched the boy's sleeve in a panic. "And the
balers have come!"
"So!" began Mr. Peabody, in tones of cold fury. "That's the way you
carry out my orders! Not one forkful of hay pitched down, and the men
ready to go to work to-morrow. You miserable, sneaking loafer, where
have you been?"
"To the vendue," said Bob defiantly.
"Flatly refuse to mind, do you? Well, I'll give you one lesson you
won't forget!" the man reached over and gripped Bob by his shirt
collar. Struggling violently, he was pulled over the five-barred gate.
"I'll learn you!" snarled Peabody, raising the whip.
Betty sprang up on the gate, her eyes blazing.
"How dare you!" she cried, her voice shaking with anger. "How dare
you strike him! I'll scream till some one comes if you touch him.
Those men at the barn won't stand by and see you beat a boy."
"Hoity toity!" sputtered the amazed farmer, confronting the angry
girl in the middy blouse with the blazing cheeks and tangled dark
Bob tried to pull himself free, but was brought up short by a quick
"I'm not through with you," Peabody informed him grimly. He glanced
quickly toward the barn and observed the men watching him covertly.
It was the better part of discretion, something told him, not to flog
the boy before so many witnesses.
"I'm through with you!" declared Bob through clenched teeth. "I'm
going! You've had all out of me you're going to get. Let go of me!"
For answer, Peabody tightened his hold on the worn shirt collar.
"Is that so?" he drawled. "Let me tell you, Mr. Smarty, you'll go
out to that barn and pitch down the hay you were supposed to do this
afternoon or you'll go back to the poorhouse. You can take your
choice. The county has a place for incorrigible boys, and if you go
far enough you'll land in the reform school. Are you going out to the
barn or not?"
"I'll go," agreed Bob sullenly.
"Then see that you do. And you needn't bother to stop for supper
--you've several hours' lost time to make up," said Peabody nastily.
He shook the boy till his teeth rattled and then released him with a
powerful sling that sent him spinning into the dust. Bruised and
shaken, Bob picked himself up and started for the barn.
"You hold your tongue a bit better, or something'll come your way,"
said Peabody shortly, eyeing Betty with disfavor and turning on his
heel at a shout of "Ho, Boss!" from the foreman of the balers.
"Hateful!" cried Betty stormily, climbing down from the gate. "He's
the most absolutely hateful man that ever lived! I wonder if he could
send Bob back to the poorhouse?"
The same thought was troubling Bob, she found, when after supper she
went out to the barn and climbed the loft ladder to see him. She had
brought him some bread and water, the latter contributed by the
Peabody pump and the bread saved from Betty's own meal.
"Do you know, Betty," confided the boy, wiping the heavy
perspiration from his face with a distressingly hot looking red
cotton handkerchief, "I've been thinking over what old Peabody said.
He might take it into his head to send me back to the poorhouse. He
really needs a younger boy, one he can slam about more. I'm getting
so I can fight back. I don't fancy hanging on here till he makes up
his mind to get another boy, and running away from the poorhouse
isn't a simple matter. I'd better make the plunge while there's good
It was stifling in the loft, and Betty felt almost giddy. She sat at
the top of the ladder, her feet hanging over the edge of the floor
and regarded Bob anxiously.
"Well, perhaps you had better go early next week," she said
judiciously. "It would be dreadful if he did return you to the
"Therefore, I'm going to-night," announced Bob coolly. "There's an
eleven-thirty train from Glenside that will make some sort of
connection with the southern local at the Junction. Wish me luck,
"To-night!" gasped Betty in dismay. "Oh, Bob! don't go to-night.
Wait just one night more, ah, please do!"
Betty had the truly feminine horror of quick decisions, and she was
frankly upset by this determination of Bob's. Even as she pleaded she
knew he had made up his mind and that it was useless to ask him to
"I don't see how you can go--you're not ready," she argued
feverishly. "Your shirts are on the line; I saw them. You're dead
tired after all this work, and it's a long walk to Glenside. Wait
just till to-morrow, Bob, and I won't say a word."
"No, I'm going to-night," said Bob firmly. "I haven't so much
packing to do that it will take me over fifteen minutes. I'll help
myself to the shirts on the line as I go in. By to-morrow morning
I'll be as far away from Bramble Farm as the local can take me."
"But--but--I'll miss you so!" protested Betty, the catch in her
voice sounding perilously close to tears. "What shall I ever do all
alone in this hateful place!"
"Oh, now, Betty!" Bob put a clumsy hand on her shoulder in an effort
to comfort her. "Don't you care--you'll be going to Washington as
soon as you get word from your uncle. Maybe I'll be there when you
come, and we'll go sightseeing together."
"Are you going right to Washington?" asked Betty, drying her eyes.
"And are you sure you have enough money?"
"Oceans of cash," Bob assured her cheerfully. "That's right, brace
up and smile. Think what it will mean to have one peaceful breakfast,
for the last week Peabody has ragged me every meal. Sure I'm going to
Washington to dig out a few facts from this Lockwood Hale. Now I'll
throw down a little more hay for good measure and we'll go on in.
Mustn't rouse suspicions by staying out too long. Peabody will
probably sit up for me to come in to-night."
Betty waited till the hay was pitched down, then followed Bob to the
main floor of the barn.
"Couldn't I walk just a little way with you?" she asked wistfully.
"How soon are you going to start? I could go as far as the end of the
"I'd rather you went to bed and to sleep," said Bob kindly. "You
couldn't very well traipse around at night, Betty, and I'm not going
till it is good and dark. There's no moon to-night, and you might
have trouble getting back to the house."
"Well--all right," conceded Betty forlornly. "There doesn't seem to
be anything I can do. Whistle under my window, please do, Bob. I'll
be awake. And I could say good-by. I won't make a fuss, I promise."
The boy's packing was of the simplest, for he owned neither suitcase
nor trunk, and his few belongings easily went into a square of old
wrapping paper. He had earned them, few as they were, and felt no
compunctions about taking them with him.
After the bundle was tied up he waited a half hour or so, purely as
a precaution, for the Peabody household went to bed with the chickens
and, with the possible exception of Mrs. Peabody, slumbered heavily.
Bob slipped down the stairs, waking no one, unfastened the heavy
front door, never locked and only occasionally, as to-night, bolted
with a chain, and stepped softly around to the bush where his
precious tin box was buried.
This box was Bob's sole inheritance from his mother, and he had only
a vague knowledge of the papers entrusted to it. Among the yellowed
slips was the marriage certificate of his parents, and he knew that
there were one or two letters. When Joseph Peabody had taken him from
the poorhouse, the lad had buried the box for safekeeping, and during
the three or four years he had been with Mr. Peabody had never taken
It was not buried very deeply, and he easily uncovered it, smoothing
down the earth to hide the traces of his hasty excavating. He went
around to Betty's window and whistled softly, half hoping that she
might be asleep.
"Hello, Bob dear!" she called instantly, leaning from the window,
her vivid face so alight with affection and hope for him that it was
a pity he could not see her clearly. "I'm wishing you the best of
luck, and I hope the old bookstore man has splendid news for you. You
wait for me in Washington."
"I will!" whispered Bob heartily. "And you tell Mr. Bender, won't
you? He'll understand. I'll write him the first chance I get, and Doc
Guerin, too. Good-by, Betty--I--I--"
To his surprise and confusion, Bob suddenly choked.
"Here's something to take with you," said Betty softly, dropping a
little packet that landed at his feet. "Good-by, Bob. I just know
things will turn out all right for you."
The dark head was withdrawn, and Bob, picking up the little package,
turned and began his long walk to the Glenside station. A hoot-owl
screeched at mournful intervals, and the night sounds would have
tried a city lad's nerves in that long dark stretch that led him
finally to the station. But Bob could identify every sound, and
nature had always proved kind to him, far kinder than many of the
people he had known. He trudged along sturdily, and, twenty minutes
before the train was due, found himself the solitary passenger on the
He stood under the uncertain rays of the lamp to examine the parting
gift Betty had given him. Tucked under half a dozen chocolate wafers
was a five dollar bill folded into the tiniest possible wad. The
choky feeling assailed Bob again.
"She certainly is some girl!" he thought with mixed gratitude and
THE RUNAWAY MISSED
Bob's absence was not discovered till breakfast time, for Ethan, who
was a sound sleeper, when he woke and saw Bob's empty cot, supposed
the boy had risen earlier than usual and gone to the barn. Mr.
Peabody, too, took it for granted that the boy was milking, and it
was not until they were seated at the table and half way through the
meal that anything out of the ordinary was suspected.
"Why in tarnation doesn't that good for nothing bring in the milk?"
grumbled Mr. Peabody. "I declare he gets later and later every
morning. The balers will be over to start work at seven, and if he
thinks he's going to spend half an hour dawdling over his breakfast
after they get here, he's much mistaken."
The men who were to bale the hay had slept at the adjoining farm,
according to the agreement made, and would be at Bramble Farm for
dinner and supper and to spend that night.
"You're finished, Ethan. Go hurry him up," ordered Joe Peabody.
"Send him in here flying and turn the cows out to pasture."
"He hasn't milked!" Ethan cleared the porch steps at a single bound
and burst into the kitchen, shouting this intelligence. Excitement
was scarce in Ethan's life, and he enjoyed the pleasurable sensation
of carrying unusual tidings, even if unpleasant. "The barn door was
shut and the cows were bellowing their heads off. Not a one of 'em's
"I want to know!" said Joseph Peabody stupidly. "Was he in bed when
you came down, Ethan?"
"No, he wasn't," answered the hired man. "I thought he'd gone on
out. Do you suppose something's happened to him?"
Mr. Peabody stepped to the porch and gave a quick glance at the
bench where the milk pails were usually left to air and dry. They
were there, just as they had been left the night before.
"I think he's cleared out!" he announced: grimly. "Betty, do you
know what this young scoundrel is up to?"
Betty's eyes brimmed over, and she flung herself blindly into Mrs.
Peabody's arms which closed around her, though that good woman was
unaccustomed to demonstrations of affection.
"There, there." She tried to soothe the girl, for Betty's convulsive
sobbing really alarmed her.
"Don't you go to feel bad, dearie. If Bob's gone, he's gone, and
that's all there is to it."
Peabody, milk pail in hand, motioned to Ethan to go out and begin
"That isn't all there is to it, not by a long shot!" he growled at
his wife. "If I get my hands on that boy he'll rue the day he ever
set foot off this farm. He'll go back to the poorhouse and there
he'll stay till he's of age."
Betty sat up, pushing the tumbled hair from her hot forehead.
"I'm glad Bob ran away!" she cried recklessly. "He's gone where you
won't catch him, either. You never treated him fairly, and you know
Peabody banged the kitchen door by way of relieving his feelings,
but the latch did not fasten so that he heard Betty's next sentence
addressed to his wife.
"I'm only waiting for a letter from Uncle Dick," confided Betty.
"Then I'm going to Washington. Things will never be any different
here, Mrs. Peabody; you've said so yourself. I wish Uncle Dick would
hurry and write. It's been a good while since I heard." And there was
a catch in the girl's voice.
The man slouched off the porch, a peculiar smile on his lean, shrewd
face. One hand, thrust into his ragged coat pocket, rested on a
letter there. As he felt it beneath his fingers, his crafty eyes
brightened with a gleam of mockery.
Mrs. Peabody may have been curious about Bob's departure, but she
asked no questions, somewhat to Betty's surprise.
"I'm glad she doesn't ask me," thought Betty, helping mechanically
in the preparations for dinner which were more elaborate than usual
because of the presence of the three balers. "Bob must be half way to
Washington by now, and I don't believe they have the slightest idea
he is headed for there." The Peabodys, she reasoned, knew nothing of
Lockwood Hale, and of the attraction the capital of the country held
for the orphan lad.
Betty insisted on doing a fair share of the extra work after the
noon meal, and then ran upstairs to get ready to go over to Glenside.
She wanted to tell the Guerins that Bob had gone, and from their
house she knew she could telephone to those other good friends, the
Benders. Laurel Grove was too far to walk, even for a practised hiker
To her dismay, as she left the house, Mr. Peabody joined her and
fell into step.
"I'll go as far as Durlings with you," he announced affably, Durling
being their neighbor on the south, his farm lying along the road in
the direction of Glenside. "Sorry the horses haven't shoes, Betty, or
you might drive."
Betty shot him a suspicious glance. The three horses never were
shod, except when a certain amount of traveling had to be done on the
stone road. In all the weeks she had spent at Bramble Farm a horse
had never been offered for her convenience, and all of her trips to
town had been either afoot, or taken with Bob in the rattling,
shabby, one-horse work wagon.
"Where did you say Bob was going?" came next.
Betty bit her lip.
"I didn't say," she said evenly. "I--I don't think it's fair to ask
"But you know," snapped Mr. Peabody. "I guess I have a right to know
where he's gone. I'm responsible for him. I've got papers that show
it. The poorhouse folks are going to ask me what becomes of him. You
just tell me where he went, and I'll satisfy 'em. I won't follow him
and try to bring him back, Betty. He's too old for that. Making his
bed, he'll have to lie on it. I won't follow him."
The girl twisted her handkerchief nervously. She was not afraid of
the man. That is, she feared no physical violence at his hands, but
he was capable, she knew, of forcing her back to the farm and locking
her up in her room till she furnished him with the required
information. And what harm could it do Bob? It was not likely that
Peabody could find the boy in a large city.
"He won't be made to come back," repeated her tormentor.
"I wish I could believe you," said Betty pitifully.
She looked so young and helpless, trying to pit her girlish
intelligence and strength against the wily miser, that another man
would have been ashamed to press her. Not so Peabody--he had always
considered that he was entitled to whatever he could get from others,
information, cash, or work, it mattered not.
They were approaching the Durling farm now, and suddenly Betty's
pointed chin lifted.
"I won't tell you!" she said firmly. "I do know where Bob went, but
he was perfectly justified in leaving a place where he was treated
worse than a dog. You would do him no good--I'm sure of that. And if
the poorhouse authorities make a fuss about his running off, I'll
tell them what he had to endure."
Joseph Peabody's mouth dropped in astonishment. He had seen Betty
lose her temper before, but she had never so openly defied him.
"You think you're high and mighty," he sneered. "Let me tell you,
Miss, there's more ways than one of getting what you want in this
world. Joe Peabody isn't checkmated very often, and it takes more
than an impudent girl to do it. I'm going into Lem Durling's and
telephone Jim Turner, the poormaster. I kind of surmise he can give
me a line on the direction Bob's taken."
Betty walked on, disdaining to answer, her head very high in the air
but her heart in her shoes. Jim Turner would be sure to tell of
Lockwood Hale, and Mr. Peabody would be astute enough to guess that
Bob's destination was Washington.
When she reached Doctor Guerin's house, between the heat and the
dust and the long walk and her anxiety, she was in a highly excited
state, and the doctor's wife made her lie down on the couch and rest
before she would allow her to telephone to the Benders. Mrs. Bender's
sister answered the telephone. The recorder and his wife had made a
detour on their homeward trip that would extend their absence for
"Betty, you'll be ill if you're going to get all worked up like
this," scolded Mrs. Guerin, for Betty was crying as she hung up the
receiver. "I never saw you so unstrung, my dear. You won't be fit to
go to your uncle when he does send for you. I wonder if the doctor
hadn't better see you?"
Norma and Alice Guerin, two pretty girls, the former about Betty's
age, the latter a year or two older, looked at her anxiously. Betty
in tears was an unusual sight to them.
"I'm all right," gulped that young person, inwardly alarmed at the
thought of being too ill to travel when the word came. "I didn't
sleep very well last night, thinking of Bob. Is that the secretary he
bid on at the Faulkner sale?"
Knowing that the quickest way for Betty to get control of her nerves
was to forget her troubles, Mrs. Guerin entered into an enthusiastic
description of the beauties of the old desk, showing the secret
drawer and the half score of carved pigeonholes and dwelling on the
doctor's delight in securing such a treasure at a bargain. Mrs.
Guerin succeeded in having Betty more like her old self before Doctor
Hal Guerin came in from a round of calls.
He was delighted to see Betty, who was an especial favorite of his,
and much interested in her account of Bob's flight.
"Did the lad have money enough?" he growled. "I suppose he'd walk
before he'd borrow from me."
"He had enough," Betty assured him. "All the charms you sold for him
amounted to quite a lot, and he had saved every cent of that."
"And you probably helped him out," commented the doctor shrewdly.
"Well, well, the lad may yet whittle his way to fame and fortune."
He referred to Bob's knack for fashioning pretty and quaint little
wooden charms and pendants, which he polished to satin smoothness and
painted and stained in bright colors. Norma Guerin had worn one at
boarding school, and it was through her and her father that Bob had
secured a large number of orders which had netted him a tidy little
When the time came for Betty to go, the doctor insisted that he
would take her as far as the lane, and on the trip she told him that
as soon as she heard from her uncle she meant to pack her trunk and
leave for Washington.
"I don't like the idea of your making the journey alone," grumbled
Doctor Guerin; "but I don't see who there is to go with you. One
thing, Betty girl, brushing up against the Peabodys has given you a
practical fund of self-reliance. You're better fitted than Alice to
find your way about alone. Not that I would have chosen to have you
get your knocks just in the manner they've been handed to you, but
the results leave nothing to be desired. You're standing squarely on
your own feet, Betsey, and it's this summer's grilling training that
has done it."
A BELATED LETTER
The hay was all baled by the next morning, and the balers, atop the
lumbering machine, caroled loudly if not musically as the fat horses
dragged them slowly up the lane. Neat bales of hay were piled high on
the barn floor, to be carted over to Hagar's Corners and loaded on a
freight car. That would be Ethan's job, and he grumbled at the
prospect of doing it without Bob's help.
Betty, coming in from the garden, stumbled over something in the
narrow entry. It was a man's coat--Mr. Peabody's, she recognized when
she picked it up and shook it slightly to free it from dust. A letter
fell from the pocket as she replaced it on the hook where it usually
hung, and, stopping to pick it up, she saw to her surprise that it
was addressed to her.
"From Washington!" she said aloud, deciphering the postmark. "And
mailed five days ago! He's carried it in his pocket ever since it
At first she feared it had been read, but evidently Mr. Peabody had
not troubled to open it; so hastily tearing the envelope, she read
the brief note. A check was enclosed for her, and Mr. Gordon
suggested that she go to Pineville and visit old friends there for a
week or two until his plans were definitely shaped.
"I know the Arnolds are in California," he wrote; "but the
Bensingers will be glad to have you, or any of your mother's old
friends. You do not have to stay one minute where you are unhappy."
Betty looked up as a shadow fell across the sunny floor. It was Mr.
Peabody, and he had the grace to show confusion when he saw the
letter in her hand.
Betty sprang to her feet.
"Why did you keep my letter?" she demanded hotly. "How did you dare
to hold back mail? This must have been in your coat pocket three or
four days. It was mailed five days ago!"
"Been rummaging in my coat pocket, have you?" sneered the farmer.
"I have not! The coat was on the floor, and I fell over it. The
letter fell out while I was trying to hang it up. No one has a right
to hold back another person's mail!"
"Now hold your horses," advised Peabody pacifically. "Who's been
holding back mail? If a body takes the mail out of the box and
carries it around in his coat a day or two, because he doesn't
remember it, that ain't such a crime that I ever knew. I just forgot
there was a letter for you."
Betty turned away in disgust and went out to her favorite apple tree
to think things over. She did not believe for one moment that Mr.
Peabody had forgotten her letter. Indeed, absent-mindedness was far
from being one of his traits. However, there was absolutely nothing
to be gained by arguing, and the way was now clear for her to leave
Bramble Farm. Surely the worst of her troubles were over.
"I might go to Pineville," she thought meditatively. "I'd love to
see the Bensingers again and the dear little house where we lived.
I'll pack this afternoon."
Betty was an orderly little person, and at her work that afternoon
she stopped frequently to sew on a button here, to mend a rip in this
garment or to whip a frayed edge that might mar an otherwise dainty
belonging. Singing softly over her task, a timid knock at her door
wakened the girl from a happy reverie.
"Come in, Mrs. Peabody," she called cheerfully. "Do sit down and
give me advice about where things should go. I thought I hadn't
bought anything this summer, but I seem to have a great deal more
stuff than I brought with me."
"You're packing then?" asked Mrs. Peabody, taking a chair near the
bed and regarding Betty oddly. "Are you really going, Betty?"
"Oh, yes," Betty answered matter-of-factly, "Uncle Dick wants me to
stop in Pineville and visit old friends for a bit. And there's no use
in pretending, Mrs. Peabody, that--that--"
"No, I suppose not," sighed the woman, understanding only too well.
"Land knows, if I could get away I'd have no misgivings about the
right of it. I'll miss you, though. You've been a sight of company
this summer, and no one could have been sweeter to me, Betty."
"Agatha!" came a stentorian shout from the front hall. "Are you
going to stay up there all day?"
"My stars, I forgot what I came up for!" Mrs. Peabody rose
hurriedly. "Joseph sent me up to tell you he wanted to ask you
something, Betty. And here I sit right down and him waiting there all
Betty was far from concerned over Mr. Peabody's wasted time, but she
wondered uneasily what he could wish to ask her. Something connected
with Bob, doubtless. She followed Mrs. Peabody downstairs and found
the master of Bramble Farm striding up and down impatiently.
"Never saw the beat of women," he muttered. "Gabble, gabble, and an
hour right out of a day's work means nothing to 'em. Oh, here you
are, Miss. You know that gray alpaca coat of mine you took the letter
from this morning?"
"The coat the letter fell out of?" corrected Betty, knowing that
such quibbling was foolish On her part and might provoke serious
irritation in her questioner, yet unable to refrain. "Of course I
remember it; what about it?"
Peabody accepted her description of the coat. He was plainly excited
and nervous, and betrayed a curious disposition to conciliate Betty,
instantly detected in his change of tone.
"Did you pick up any other papers?" he asked quite politely. "Any
folded sheets, I mean, or a long envelope? I thought you might have
put them back of the clock or somewhere for safe keeping and
forgotten to mention them to me."
Betty looked her astonishment. Automatically her eyes traveled to
the clock which was pulled out of its place against the wall. So the
man had actually looked there, believing that out of chagrin she
might have concealed his papers from him!
"Nothing fell out of your pocket except my letter," she said
earnestly and with a quietness that carried conviction. "I saw
absolutely nothing else on the floor. If I had picked up other
papers, I should have returned them to you, of course."
Mrs. Peabody cleared her throat, usually a sign of coming speech on
the rare occasions when she did open her mouth in her husband's
"What you lost, Joseph?" she asked eagerly. "Something missing out
o' your pocket?"
"Yes, something out of my pocket!" said her husband savagely. "You
wouldn't know if I told you, but it's an unrecorded deed and worth a
good deal of money. And I'll bet I know who took it--that measly
runaway, Bob Henderson! By gum, he carried the coat up to the house
for me from the barn the day before he lit out. That's where it's
gone. I see his game! He'll try to get money out of me. But I won't
pay him a cent. No sir, I'll go to Washington first and choke the
deed out of his dirty pocket."
"Did Bob go to Washington?" quavered Mrs. Peabody, her mind seizing
on this concrete fact, the one statement she could understand in her
husband's monologue. "How'd you find out, Joseph?"
"Not through Betty," returned Peabody grimly. "She's willing to take
the scoundrel's part against honest folks any time. Jim Turner told
me. Leastways he told me of some old duffer who runs a crazy shop
down there, and he thinks Bob's gone looking him up to find out about
his parents. Just let him try blackmailing me, and he'll learn a
thing or two."
Betty had kept still as long as she could.
"Bob is no thief!" she said bravely. "You ought to be ashamed to
say such a thing about him. I know he didn't take your old deed. What
earthly use would it be to him? Besides, Bob would never touch a
thing that wasn't his!"
"I don't believe he would take anything, Joseph," urged Mrs. Peabody
with perfectly amazing temerity. As a rule she took neither side in a
controversy. "Besides, as the child says, what good would an
unrecorded deed do him? Unless--Joseph, have you bought the Warren
"You tend to your housework, and I'll manage my own affairs,"
snapped Peabody, turning a dull brick red, however. "I meant to put
the thing in the safety deposit box over to the bank, and then that
sick cow took my mind completely off it. If Betty didn't take it, Bob
did. It's gone, and they're the only two that could have put hands on
"I tell you that I haven't seen the deed," said Betty firmly. "And I
am equally certain that Bob never took it. He's the soul of honor,
whatever you may think, and he would no more take what wasn't his
than he would lie to you about it."
Peabody caught hold of her right hand suddenly.
"What you carrying?" he demanded suspiciously. "A trunk key? Looks
mighty funny, doesn't it, to be packing up with something pretty
valuable missing? The law would likely give me the right to search
"What a dreadful old man you are!" cried Betty, involuntarily,
shrinking from the sinister face that grinned malevolently into hers.
"You have no right to touch my trunk."
"Well, no call to look like that," muttered Peabody, turning toward
the door. "I knew that other young one took it, and I aim to make it
hot for him."
"Bob didn't take any deed!" stormed Betty to Mrs. Peabody, her
packing forgotten for the moment. "Why does he keep insisting Bob
stole it? And why, oh, why did that poorhouse man have to tell where
Bob had gone?"
Mrs. Peabody's natural curiosity had to be satisfied, and as it was
no longer a secret Betty told her of Lockwood Hale and Bob's
determination to find out more about himself.
"He doesn't want any deed," she finished scornfully. "Can't you make
Mr. Peabody see how foolish such an accusation is?"
Mrs. Peabody leaned against the kitchen table wearily.
"I know what he's thinking," she said dully. "I know more than I
want to know, Betty. Joseph has bought the Warren lots, and that
means he's got 'em for his own price. Old man Warren is in his dotage
and these lots have been surveyed and cut up into building plots on
the stone road over t'other side of Laurel Grove where the trolley's
coming through this spring. Joseph will probably sell 'em for three
times what he's paid for 'em. That's why he doesn't have the deed
recorded; Warren's children will get hold of it, and I doubt if the
sale would hold in court. Everybody knows the old father isn't
competent to handle his property. There was talk of having one of the
sons made his guardian some months ago. Joseph has just talked him
into selling. If he wasn't my husband, I should say the sale was a
GOOD-BY TO BRAMBLE FARM
Betty was still mystified.
"What has Bob to do with it?" she urged. "I don't see how the deed
would be of any use to him; he couldn't claim the lots."
"No, he couldn't claim the lots," admitted Joseph Peabody's wife.
"But he could hold the deed and threaten to notify George Warren, if
Joseph didn't pay him a good round sum of money. Mind you, I'm not
saying he would do that, Betty, but he could. That's what Joseph
thinks he means to do."
"Well, I call that very silly," said Betty briskly. "Bob Henderson
isn't a thief or a blackmailer, whatever Mr. Peabody chooses to
think. That deed is probably in another coat pocket this minute, or
else he's lost it over in Glenside."
"I expect that worries him some, too," confided Mrs. Peabody. "He
would hate to have it known that he's bought the Warren lots. But I
guess it would have been better to have had the deed recorded than to
run the risk of losing it and the whole town likely to pick it up on
Before supper that night Betty had her trunk packed and her simple
belongings gathered up. She knew that Peabody was fully aware of her
intention to leave, but, as her board was paid for nearly a week in
advance, he could make no possible objection. It was sheer
perversity, she decided, that kept him from mentioning the subject to
"I'm going to-morrow, Mr. Peabody," she said pleasantly at the
supper table, having waited till Ethan had gone to the barn to milk.
"What time would be most convenient to take my trunk over to Glenside
or to Hagar's Corners?"
"I'm not going to either place to-morrow," was the composed answer.
"Don't know exactly when I shall be going over again, either. Ethan
and me's got our hands full right here with the late-season
"But I have to get to the station," protested Betty. "I can walk, of
course, but some one will have to take my trunk. You met me at the
station when I came, or rather Bob did, you know. Why aren't you
willing to help me go now that the summer is nearly over?"
"You haven't done me so many favors that I should put myself out for
you," retorted Peabody sourly. "I don't care how you get to the
station, but none of my rigs go off this place to-morrow, that's
flat. And you haven't got that thieving nimble-fingers to plot and
plan with you now. You'll have to manage by yourself."
"What are you going to do, Betty?" asked Mrs. Peabody anxiously,
following the girl to the door after the meal was over. "You're not
going to walk to Glenside to-night to try to get a team to come after
"No, I'm only going over to Kepplers," replied Betty capably. "I'm
sure one of the boys will drive me over, if not to Glenside, to
Hagar's Corners, where I can get some kind of train for the Junction.
All the through trains stop at Hagar's Corners, don't they? I came
that way. Perhaps that station is better than Glenside, after all."
The walk across the fields tranquillized her, and she was able to
enlist the aid of the Keppler's oldest boy without entering into too
detailed an account of Mr. Peabody's shortcomings. Indeed, the
Kepplers, father and sons, having been the nearest neighbors to
Bramble Farm for eleven years, had a very fair idea of what went on
"Sure, I'll take you, and the trunk, too," promised Fred Keppler
heartily. "Any time you say, Betty. There's a good train for
Pineville, not too many stops, at twelve-three. How about that?"
It was settled that he should come for her about half past ten, and
Betty walked home filled with thoughts of the little home town to
which she would be speeding on the morrow.
"If Uncle Dick knew the things I've had to endure, I'm sure he'd say
that I haven't lost my temper often, considering," she mused. "Is
that something sticking out of the mail box? Why. it is, and a
newspaper. I guess Mr. Peabody forgot to come down to the box to-day."
She opened the box and found the paper was addressed to her. The
familiar wrapper and type told her it was the _Pineville Post_, to
which she had subscribed when she left the town, and, tucking it under
her arm, she went on to the house, intending to read an hour or so
before going to bed.
Lighting the lamp in her room, Betty glanced toward her trunk
mechanically. She had left it locked, but the lid was now ajar. Had
some one been tampering with the lock?
"He's opened it!" she cried to herself, making a hasty examination.
"How did he dare! And look at the mess everything's in!"
Alas for Betty's hour of neat and careful packing! Dainty garments
were tossed about recklessly, her shoes rested on her clean
handkerchiefs, and it was plain that no attempt had been made to
conceal the fact that a heavy hand had thoroughly explored the
contents of the trunk.
"I'm only thankful he didn't break the lock," said Betty, trying to
find a ray of brightness. "Whatever he opened it with, nothing is
broken. I suppose the only thing to do is to take everything out and
do it all over. And to-morrow morning I'll sit on the top till Fred
Taking out her clothes and repacking was a tiresome job, and all
thoughts of reading well gone from Betty's mind when the task was
completed and the trunk locked for a second time. With the feeling
that, in view of what the next day might bring, she ought to go to
bed early, she began at once to prepare for bed. Brushing her thick,
dark hair, her eyes fell on the unopened paper.
"I suppose I'll be there to-morrow night," she thought, picking it
up and slitting the wrapper with a convenient nail file.
She opened and smoothed out the first page. The first words that
caught her attention, in large black headlines across four columns,
GYPSY BAND STRICKEN WITH SMALL-POX:
WHOLE TOWN QUARANTINED!
Then followed the account of the discovery of illness among a band
of gypsies camped on the outskirts of Pineville, of the diagnosis of
smallpox, and of the strict quarantine immediately put in force. The
issue of the _Post_ was only two days old.
"Well, I never!" gasped Betty, doing some rapid thinking. "I'm glad
it didn't happen after I got there. I might be held up for weeks. I
can't stay here, that's certain. There's nothing to do but drive to
Glenside and take the train for Washington. I guess Fred will be
willing to change his plans."
She decided that she would say nothing to the Peabodys about the
alteration of her traveling schedule, fearing that if Mr. Peabody
heard she was going to Washington he might accuse her of a conspiracy
with Bob in connection with the lost deed.
Bright and early the next morning she was up, her pretty traveling
bag, the gift of her uncle, packed, her room in perfect order. There
was really no one or nothing to say good-by to, for she felt more
pity than affection for Mrs. Peabody, and the Bramble Farm animals
had been too unused to petting to respond readily to her overtures.
Betty, at the breakfast table, had a swift conviction that she would
be leaving with far different feelings if Bob had been there to stay
Mr. Peabody asked her no questions about her plans and stalked off
as usual to the barn with Ethan when he had finished the meal.
"I declare I'm going to miss you, Betty," said Mrs. Peabody once, in
the middle of the dishwashing, with which Betty insisted on helping.
That was a good deal for her to say, and the girl, who had a natural
longing to be missed, was grateful. And when Fred Keppler drove into
the yard, promptly at half-past ten, and went upstairs for her trunk--
for neither Peabody nor his hired man was in sight--Mrs. Peabody
kissed her warmly and with tears in her eyes.
"Hop right in, Betty," said Fred cordially. "Got a nice day for your
trip, haven't you? All fixed? All right, then."
He gathered up the reins and had turned the horse's head when,
apparently from the clouds, Mr. Peabody appeared on the scene.
"Long as you're going over to Hagar's Corners you won't mind giving
me a lift, will you?" he drawled. "I have an errand over at the
station, and it won't take me a minute. I can come right back with
you. Go on, Fred; I'll sit in here with the trunk and you and Betty
needn't mind me."
Without waiting for an invitation, he swung himself up on top of the
trunk, and smiled pleasantly. He was saving his own horse a long
drive and getting a necessary errand done at the expense of a
neighbor, always a desirable consummation in the Peabody mind.
Fred opened his mouth and closed it wordlessly. His father would
have known what to do, but fifteen-year-old Fred did not know how to
deal with such a display of assurance. There seemed nothing to do but
to take this unwelcome passenger to Hagar's Corners and back.
Betty, for her part, could have cried with vexation. Gone was her
chance of asking Fred to take her to Glenside, and with it the hope
of getting to Washington. She knew that after the noon train at
Hagar's Corners there were no more till four o'clock. She wanted to
say good-by to the Guerins and to cash her uncle's check. No wonder
she was assailed by a strong desire to tumble the satisfied Mr.
Peabody out head over heels.
The drive was taken almost in silence, each of the three busy with
his own thoughts. At the station Betty and her trunk were put down,
and then she had a few minutes to speak to Fred while Mr. Peabody was
talking to the freight agent, who was also the passenger agent, the
telegraph clerk and the janitor.
"Don't you want some money?" whispered Fred hurriedly. "Mother told
me to ask you. And she sent you this."
He thrust into her hands a box of lunch.
"I have a check I want to cash," said Betty nervously. "Will the
station agent do it, do you suppose? It's for fifty dollars. And,
Fred, Pineville is quarantined for smallpox and I want to go to
Washington, but I didn't want Mr. Peabody to know. Hush! Here he
Fred Keppler had what his fond mother called a "good head," and as
Peabody and the agent stopped in the station doorway to continue
their discussion he proceeded to bear out her theory by thrusting a
wad of bills into Betty's hand.
"Money for the calves," he explained. "Just fifty there. Haven't
seen Dad to turn it over to him. Give me the check and it will be all
right. And you ask Dan Gowdy, the agent, about trains. I guess he can
dope out a way to get you to Washington. You still have ten minutes."
"Good-by, and thank you heaps!" cried Betty warmly, shaking his
hand. "I don't know what I should have done without you, Fred!"
Her hands filled with the bank bills Fred had thrust into them, her
bag under one arm and the lunch box under the other, Betty stood
forlornly on the platform and watched the horse and wagon out of
sight. Mr. Peabody had merely nodded to her by way of farewell, and
Betty felt that if she never saw him again there would be little to
regret. As a matter of fact, she was to meet him again and not under
much more favorable aspects. But of that she was happily ignorant.
The whistling of the lanky young station agent, who was covertly
staring at her under pretense of sweeping up the already neat boards
before the door, roused her. She remembered that she did not want to
go to Pineville.
"Why, I guess I can fix it up for you," said Dan Gowdy cheerfully,
when she had stated her predicament, withholding only the reason for
not telling Mr. Peabody. "Let me see--twelve-three stops at
Centertown. But you don't want to spend the night on the train. Going
from Centertown, you'd get to Washington about ten in the morning."
"I'd rather not sleep on the train," answered Betty timidly, hoping
that she was not unreasonable. Aside from the expense, she was not
used to traveling, and the idea of a night alone on the train for the
first time rather daunted her.
"Well, then--Wait a minute, I've got it!" shouted the agent
enthusiastically. "You buy a ticket up the line to Halperin. That's
quite a town, and the through trains all stop. My brother-in-law's
telegraph operator there, and I'll send him a message to look out for
you, and he and my sister will keep you over night. They've got a
pretty place right in the country--trolley takes you to the door--and
a baby that's named for me and some kid if I do say it. Then in the
morning you can take the seven-forty-five for Washington and get
there at five-fifty-two if it isn't late. How's that?"
"But your sister!" stammered Betty. "She doesn't know me. What will
"She'll say you have eyes just like Juliet, the little sister who
died when she was about your age," declared Dan Gowdy gently. "Don't
you fret, Sister, she'll be glad to have you. Now here's your ticket,
and I'll talk to Steve as soon as you're on board the train. That's
her smoke now."
Betty was conscious that there was something else on her mind, but
it was not until she was seated in the train and had had her ticket
punched that she remembered. She had thanked kind Dan Gowdy rather
incoherently, though as warmly as she could, and had only half heard
his explanation that she was taking the 12:01 train up the line
instead of the 12:03 down, and it was no wonder that in the bustle of
boarding the train she had forgotten her intention of telegraphing to
her Uncle Dick. He had given her his address as the Willard Hotel,
and the letter was already six days old.
"But I really think in the morning will be better," decided Betty,
watching the flying landscape. "He wouldn't have given me the address
if he didn't expect to be there for some time. Before I take the
Washington train I'll telegraph him and let him know when to meet me."
The train made three stops before Halperin was reached, and Betty
stepped down to find herself before a pretty, up-to-date station
built of cream-colored brick, with a crowd of stylish summer folk
mingling on the platform with farmers and townspeople. Several
automobiles were backed up waiting for passengers, and there were one
or two old-fashioned hacks. A trolley car was rounding the street
corner, the motorman sounding his bell noisily.
"Betty Gordon, isn't it?" asked a pleasant voice.
A round-faced man was smiling down at her, a young man, Betty
decided, in spite of the white hair. His keen dark eyes were
pleasant, and he held out his hand cordially.
"Dan told me you had cornflowers on your hat," he said quizzically,
"and I, knowing that Dan calls all blue flowers cornflowers, picked
you out right away. Only they are forget-me-nots, aren't they?"
"They're supposed to be larkspur," answered Betty, laughing and
feeling at ease at once. "Perhaps the milliner didn't have a garden."
"Well, anyway, they're blue," said the brother-in-law comfortably.
"Don't suppose Dan told you my name?"
He was guiding her around the station toward the trolley tracks as
"He said the baby was named for him, but he didn't say what your
name was," admitted Betty dimpling.
"Just like him!" grinned her companion. "Dan's so all-fired proud of
that youngster he never lets a chance slip to tell we named him
Daniel Gowdy Brill. Though Dan senior usually forgets to add the
"Does--does Mrs. Brill know I'm coming?" ventured Betty.
"She sure does! I telephoned her the minute I heard from Dan, and I
suspect she and the baby are sitting out on the fence now watching
for you to come along. Sorry I can't go with you, but I've just come
on duty. You tell the conductor to let you off at Brill's, and I'll
see you at supper to-night."
He helped her on the car, tipped his hat, and ran back to the
station, leaving Betty with the comfortable feeling that the Brills
were used to company and rather liked it.
Back to Full Books