The Golden Road by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Part 1 out of 5
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THE GOLDEN ROAD
L. M. MONTGOMERY
"Life was a rose-lipped comrade
With purple flowers dripping from her fingers."
THE MEMORY OF
Aunt Mary Lawson
WHO TOLD ME MANY OF THE TALES
REPEATED BY THE
Once upon a time we all walked on the golden road. It was a fair
highway, through the Land of Lost Delight; shadow and sunshine
were blessedly mingled, and every turn and dip revealed a fresh
charm and a new loveliness to eager hearts and unspoiled eyes.
On that road we heard the song of morning stars; we drank in
fragrances aerial and sweet as a May mist; we were rich in
gossamer fancies and iris hopes; our hearts sought and found the
boon of dreams; the years waited beyond and they were very fair;
life was a rose-lipped comrade with purple flowers dripping from
We may long have left the golden road behind, but its memories are
the dearest of our eternal possessions; and those who cherish them
as such may haply find a pleasure in the pages of this book, whose
people are pilgrims on the golden road of youth.
THE GOLDEN ROAD
A NEW DEPARTURE
"I've thought of something amusing for the winter," I said as we
drew into a half-circle around the glorious wood-fire in Uncle
It had been a day of wild November wind, closing down into a wet,
eerie twilight. Outside, the wind was shrilling at the windows
and around the eaves, and the rain was playing on the roof. The
old willow at the gate was writhing in the storm and the orchard
was a place of weird music, born of all the tears and fears that
haunt the halls of night. But little we cared for the gloom and
the loneliness of the outside world; we kept them at bay with the
light of the fire and the laughter of our young lips.
We had been having a splendid game of Blind-Man's Buff. That is,
it had been splendid at first; but later the fun went out of it
because we found that Peter was, of malice prepense, allowing
himself to be caught too easily, in order that he might have the
pleasure of catching Felicity--which he never failed to do, no
matter how tightly his eyes were bound. What remarkable goose
said that love is blind? Love can see through five folds of
closely-woven muffler with ease!
"I'm getting tired," said Cecily, whose breath was coming rather
quickly and whose pale cheeks had bloomed into scarlet. "Let's
sit down and get the Story Girl to tell us a story."
But as we dropped into our places the Story Girl shot a
significant glance at me which intimated that this was the
psychological moment for introducing the scheme she and I had been
secretly developing for some days. It was really the Story Girl's
idea and none of mine. But she had insisted that I should make
the suggestion as coming wholly from myself.
"If you don't, Felicity won't agree to it. You know yourself,
Bev, how contrary she's been lately over anything I mention. And
if she goes against it Peter will too--the ninny!--and it wouldn't
be any fun if we weren't all in it."
"What is it?" asked Felicity, drawing her chair slightly away from
"It is this. Let us get up a newspaper of our own--write it all
ourselves, and have all we do in it. Don't you think we can get a
lot of fun out of it?"
Everyone looked rather blank and amazed, except the Story Girl.
She knew what she had to do, and she did it.
"What a silly idea!" she exclaimed, with a contemptuous toss of
her long brown curls. "Just as if WE could get up a newspaper!"
Felicity fired up, exactly as we had hoped.
"I think it's a splendid idea," she said enthusiastically. "I'd
like to know why we couldn't get up as good a newspaper as they
have in town! Uncle Roger says the Daily Enterprise has gone to
the dogs--all the news it prints is that some old woman has put a
shawl on her head and gone across the road to have tea with
another old woman. I guess we could do better than that. You
needn't think, Sara Stanley, that nobody but you can do anything."
"I think it would be great fun," said Peter decidedly. "My Aunt
Jane helped edit a paper when she was at Queen's Academy, and she
said it was very amusing and helped her a great deal."
The Story Girl could hide her delight only by dropping her eyes
"Bev wants to be editor," she said, "and I don't see how he can,
with no experience. Anyhow, it would be a lot of trouble."
"Some people are so afraid of a little bother," retorted Felicity.
"I think it would be nice," said Cecily timidly, "and none of us
have any experience of being editors, any more than Bev, so that
"Will it be printed?" asked Dan.
"Oh, no," I said. "We can't have it printed. We'll just have to
write it out--we can buy foolscap from the teacher."
"I don't think it will be much of a newspaper if it isn't
printed," said Dan scornfully.
"It doesn't matter very much what YOU think," said Felicity.
"Thank you," retorted Dan.
"Of course," said the Story Girl hastily, not wishing to have Dan
turned against our project, "if all the rest of you want it I'll
go in for it too. I daresay it would be real good fun, now that I
come to think of it. And we'll keep the copies, and when we
become famous they'll be quite valuable."
"I wonder if any of us ever will be famous," said Felix.
"The Story Girl will be," I said.
"I don't see how she can be," said Felicity skeptically. "Why,
she's just one of us."
"Well, it's decided, then, that we're to have a newspaper," I
resumed briskly. "The next thing is to choose a name for it.
That's a very important thing."
"How often are you going to publish it?" asked Felix.
"Once a month."
"I thought newspapers came out every day, or every week at least,"
"We couldn't have one every week," I explained. "It would be too
"Well, that's an argument," admitted Dan. "The less work you can
get along with the better, in my opinion. No, Felicity, you
needn't say it. I know exactly what you want to say, so save your
breath to cool your porridge. I agree with you that I never work
if I can find anything else to do."
"'Remember it is harder still
To have no work to do,"'
quoted Cecily reprovingly.
"I don't believe THAT," rejoined Dan. "I'm like the Irishman who
said he wished the man who begun work had stayed and finished it."
"Well, is it decided that Bev is to be editor?" asked Felix.
"Of course it is," Felicity answered for everybody.
"Then," said Felix, "I move that the name be The King Monthly
"That sounds fine," said Peter, hitching his chair a little nearer
"But," said Cecily timidly, "that will leave out Peter and the
Story Girl and Sara Ray, just as if they didn't have a share in
it. I don't think that would be fair."
"You name it then, Cecily," I suggested.
"Oh!" Cecily threw a deprecating glance at the Story Girl and
Felicity. Then, meeting the contempt in the latter's gaze, she
raised her head with unusual spirit.
"I think it would be nice just to call it Our Magazine," she said.
"Then we'd all feel as if we had a share in it."
"Our Magazine it will be, then," I said. "And as for having a
share in it, you bet we'll all have a share in it. If I'm to be
editor you'll all have to be sub-editors, and have charge of a
"Oh, I couldn't," protested Cecily.
"You must," I said inexorably. "'England expects everyone to do
his duty.' That's our motto--only we'll put Prince Edward Island
in place of England. There must be no shirking. Now, what
departments will we have? We must make it as much like a real
newspaper as we can."
"Well, we ought to have an etiquette department, then," said
Felicity. "The Family Guide has one."
"Of course we'll have one," I said, "and Dan will edit it."
"Dan!" exclaimed Felicity, who had fondly expected to be asked to
edit it herself.
"I can run an etiquette column as well as that idiot in the Family
Guide, anyhow," said Dan defiantly. "But you can't have an
etiquette department unless questions are asked. What am I to do
if nobody asks any?"
"You must make some up," said the Story Girl. "Uncle Roger says
that is what the Family Guide man does. He says it is impossible
that there can be as many hopeless fools in the world as that
column would stand for otherwise."
"We want you to edit the household department, Felicity," I said,
seeing a cloud lowering on that fair lady's brow. "Nobody can do
that as well as you. Felix will edit the jokes and the
Information Bureau, and Cecily must be fashion editor. Yes, you
must, Sis. It's easy as wink. And the Story Girl will attend to
the personals. They're very important. Anyone can contribute a
personal, but the Story Girl is to see there are some in every
issue, even if she has to make them up, like Dan with the
"Bev will run the scrap book department, besides the editorials,"
said the Story Girl, seeing that I was too modest to say it
"Aren't you going to have a story page?" asked Peter.
"We will, if you'll be fiction and poetry editor," I said.
Peter, in his secret soul, was dismayed, but he would not blanch
"All right," he said, recklessly.
"We can put anything we like in the scrap book department," I
explained, "but all the other contributions must be original, and
all must have the name of the writer signed to them, except the
personals. We must all do our best. Our Magazine is to be 'a
feast of reason and flow of soul."'
I felt that I had worked in two quotations with striking effect.
The others, with the exception of the Story Girl, looked suitably
"But," said Cecily, reproachfully, "haven't you anything for Sara
Ray to do? She'll feel awful bad if she is left out."
I had forgotten Sara Ray. Nobody, except Cecily, ever did
remember Sara Ray unless she was on the spot. But we decided to
put her in as advertising manager. That sounded well and really
meant very little.
"Well, we'll go ahead then," I said, with a sigh of relief that
the project had been so easily launched. "We'll get the first
issue out about the first of January. And whatever else we do we
mustn't let Uncle Roger get hold of it. He'd make such fearful
fun of it."
"I hope we can make a success of it," said Peter moodily. He had
been moody ever since he was entrapped into being fiction editor.
"It will be a success if we are determined to succeed," I said.
"'Where there is a will there is always a way.'"
"That's just what Ursula Townley said when her father locked her
in her room the night she was going to run away with Kenneth
MacNair," said the Story Girl.
We pricked up our ears, scenting a story.
"Who were Ursula Townley and Kenneth MacNair?" I asked.
"Kenneth MacNair was a first cousin of the Awkward Man's
grandfather, and Ursula Townley was the belle of the Island in her
day. Who do you suppose told me the story--no, read it to me, out
of his brown book?"
"Never the Awkward Man himself!" I exclaimed incredulously.
"Yes, he did," said the Story Girl triumphantly. "I met him one
day last week back in the maple woods when I was looking for
ferns. He was sitting by the spring, writing in his brown book.
He hid it when he saw me and looked real silly; but after I had
talked to him awhile I just asked him about it, and told him that
the gossips said he wrote poetry in it, and if he did would he
tell me, because I was dying to know. He said he wrote a little
of everything in it; and then I begged him to read me something
out of it, and he read me the story of Ursula and Kenneth."
"I don't see how you ever had the face," said Felicity; and even
Cecily looked as if she thought the Story Girl had gone rather
"Never mind that," cried Felix, "but tell us the story. That's
the main thing."
"I'll tell it just as the Awkward Man read it, as far as I can,"
said the Story Girl, "but I can't put all his nice poetical
touches in, because I can't remember them all, though he read it
over twice for me."
A WILL, A WAY AND A WOMAN
"One day, over a hundred years ago, Ursula Townley was waiting for
Kenneth MacNair in a great beechwood, where brown nuts were
falling and an October wind was making the leaves dance on the
ground like pixy-people."
"What are pixy-people?" demanded Peter, forgetting the Story
Girl's dislike of interruptions.
"Hush," whispered Cecily. "That is only one of the Awkward Man's
poetical touches, I guess."
"There were cultivated fields between the grove and the dark blue
gulf; but far behind and on each side were woods, for Prince
Edward Island a hundred years ago was not what it is today. The
settlements were few and scattered, and the population so scanty
that old Hugh Townley boasted that he knew every man, woman and
child in it.
"Old Hugh was quite a noted man in his day. He was noted for
several things--he was rich, he was hospitable, he was proud, he
was masterful--and he had for daughter the handsomest young woman
in Prince Edward Island.
"Of course, the young men were not blind to her good looks, and
she had so many lovers that all the other girls hated her--"
"You bet!" said Dan, aside--
"But the only one who found favour in her eyes was the very last
man she should have pitched her fancy on, at least if old Hugh
were the judge. Kenneth MacNair was a dark-eyed young sea-captain
of the next settlement, and it was to meet him that Ursula stole
to the beechwood on that autumn day of crisp wind and ripe
sunshine. Old Hugh had forbidden his house to the young man,
making such a scene of fury about it that even Ursula's high
spirit quailed. Old Hugh had really nothing against Kenneth
himself; but years before either Kenneth or Ursula was born,
Kenneth's father had beaten Hugh Townley in a hotly contested
election. Political feeling ran high in those days, and old Hugh
had never forgiven the MacNair his victory. The feud between the
families dated from that tempest in the provincial teapot, and the
surplus of votes on the wrong side was the reason why, thirty
years after, Ursula had to meet her lover by stealth if she met
him at all."
"Was the MacNair a Conservative or a Grit?" asked Felicity.
"It doesn't make any difference what he was," said the Story Girl
impatiently. "Even a Tory would be romantic a hundred years ago.
Well, Ursula couldn't see Kenneth very often, for Kenneth lived
fifteen miles away and was often absent from home in his vessel.
On this particular day it was nearly three months since they had
"The Sunday before, young Sandy MacNair had been in Carlyle
church. He had risen at dawn that morning, walked bare-footed for
eight miles along the shore, carrying his shoes, hired a harbour
fisherman to row him over the channel, and then walked eight miles
more to the church at Carlyle, less, it is to be feared, from a
zeal for holy things than that he might do an errand for his
adored brother, Kenneth. He carried a letter which he contrived
to pass into Ursula's hand in the crowd as the people came out.
This letter asked Ursula to meet Kenneth in the beechwood the next
afternoon, and so she stole away there when suspicious father and
watchful stepmother thought she was spinning in the granary loft."
"It was very wrong of her to deceive her parents," said Felicity
The Story Girl couldn't deny this, so she evaded the ethical side
of the question skilfully.
"I am not telling you what Ursula Townley ought to have done," she
said loftily. "I am only telling you what she DID do. If you
don't want to hear it you needn't listen, of course. There
wouldn't be many stories to tell if nobody ever did anything she
"Well, when Kenneth came, the meeting was just what might have
been expected between two lovers who had taken their last kiss
three months before. So it was a good half-hour before Ursula
"'Oh, Kenneth, I cannot stay long--I shall be missed. You said in
your letter that you had something important to talk of. What is
"'My news is this, Ursula. Next Saturday morning my vessel, The
Fair Lady, with her captain on board, sails at dawn from
Charlottetown harbour, bound for Buenos Ayres. At this season
this means a safe and sure return--next May.'
"'Kenneth!' cried Ursula. She turned pale and burst into tears.
'How can you think of leaving me? Oh, you are cruel!'
"'Why, no, sweetheart,' laughed Kenneth. 'The captain of The Fair
Lady will take his bride with him. We'll spend our honeymoon on
the high seas, Ursula, and the cold Canadian winter under southern
"'You want me to run away with you, Kenneth?' exclaimed Ursula.
"'Indeed, dear girl, there's nothing else to do!'
"'Oh, I cannot!' she protested. 'My father would--'
"'We'll not consult him--until afterward. Come, Ursula, you know
there's no other way. We've always known it must come to this.
YOUR father will never forgive me for MY father. You won't fail
me now. Think of the long parting if you send me away alone on
such a voyage. Pluck up your courage, and we'll let Townleys and
MacNairs whistle their mouldy feuds down the wind while we sail
southward in The Fair Lady. I have a plan.'
"'Let me hear it,' said Ursula, beginning to get back her breath.
"'There is to be a dance at The Springs Friday night. Are you
"'Good. I am not--but I shall be there--in the fir grove behind
the house, with two horses. When the dancing is at its height
you'll steal out to meet me. Then 'tis but a fifteen mile ride to
Charlottetown, where a good minister, who is a friend of mine,
will be ready to marry us. By the time the dancers have tired
their heels you and I will be on our vessel, able to snap our
fingers at fate.'
"'And what if I do not meet you in the fir grove?' said Ursula, a
"'If you do not, I'll sail for South America the next morning, and
many a long year will pass ere Kenneth MacNair comes home again.'
"Perhaps Kenneth didn't mean that, but Ursula thought he did, and
it decided her. She agreed to run away with him. Yes, of course
that was wrong, too, Felicity. She ought to have said, 'No, I
shall be married respectably from home, and have a wedding and a
silk dress and bridesmaids and lots of presents.' But she didn't.
She wasn't as prudent as Felicity King would have been."
"She was a shameless hussy," said Felicity, venting on the long-
dead Ursula that anger she dare not visit on the Story Girl.
"Oh, no, Felicity dear, she was just a lass of spirit. I'd have
done the same. And when Friday night came she began to dress for
the dance with a brave heart. She was to go to The Springs with
her uncle and aunt, who were coming on horseback that afternoon,
and would then go on to The Springs in old Hugh's carriage, which
was the only one in Carlyle then. They were to leave in time to
reach The Springs before nightfall, for the October nights were
dark and the wooded roads rough for travelling.
"When Ursula was ready she looked at herself in the glass with a
good deal of satisfaction. Yes, Felicity, she was a vain baggage,
that same Ursula, but that kind didn't all die out a hundred years
ago. And she had good reason for being vain. She wore the sea-
green silk which had been brought out from England a year before
and worn but once--at the Christmas ball at Government House. A
fine, stiff, rustling silk it was, and over it shone Ursula's
crimson cheeks and gleaming eyes, and masses of nut brown hair.
"As she turned from the glass she heard her father's voice below,
loud and angry. Growing very pale, she ran out into the hall.
Her father was already half way upstairs, his face red with fury.
In the hall below Ursula saw her step-mother, looking troubled and
vexed. At the door stood Malcolm Ramsay, a homely neighbour youth
who had been courting Ursula in his clumsy way ever since she grew
up. Ursula had always hated him.
"'Ursula!' shouted old Hugh, 'come here and tell this scoundrel he
lies. He says that you met Kenneth MacNair in the beechgrove last
Tuesday. Tell him he lies! Tell him he lies!'
"Ursula was no coward. She looked scornfully at poor Ramsay.
"'The creature is a spy and a tale-bearer,' she said, 'but in this
he does not lie. I DID meet Kenneth MacNair last Tuesday.'
"'And you dare to tell me this to my face!' roared old Hugh.
'Back to your room, girl! Back to your room and stay there! Take
off that finery. You go to no more dances. You shall stay in
that room until I choose to let you out. No, not a word! I'll put
you there if you don't go. In with you--ay, and take your
knitting with you. Occupy yourself with that this evening instead
of kicking your heels at The Springs!'
"He snatched a roll of gray stocking from the hall table and flung
it into Ursula's room. Ursula knew she would have to follow it,
or be picked up and carried in like a naughty child. So she gave
the miserable Ramsay a look that made him cringe, and swept into
her room with her head in the air. The next moment she heard the
door locked behind her. Her first proceeding was to have a cry of
anger and shame and disappointment. That did no good, and then
she took to marching up and down her room. It did not calm her to
hear the rumble of the carriage out of the gate as her uncle and
"'Oh, what's to be done?' she sobbed. 'Kenneth will be furious.
He will think I have failed him and he will go away hot with anger
against me. If I could only send a word of explanation I know he
would not leave me. But there seems to be no way at all--though I
have heard that there's always a way when there's a will. Oh, I
shall go mad! If the window were not so high I would jump out of
it. But to break my legs or my neck would not mend the matter.'
"The afternoon passed on. At sunset Ursula heard hoof-beats and
ran to the window. Andrew Kinnear of The Springs was tying his
horse at the door. He was a dashing young fellow, and a political
crony of old Hugh. No doubt he would be at the dance that night.
Oh, if she could get speech for but a moment with him!
"When he had gone into the house, Ursula, turning impatiently from
the window, tripped and almost fell over the big ball of homespun
yarn her father had flung on the floor. For a moment she gazed at
it resentfully--then, with a gay little laugh, she pounced on it.
The next moment she was at her table, writing a brief note to
Kenneth MacNair. When it was written, Ursula unwound the gray
ball to a considerable depth, pinned the note on it, and rewound
the yarn over it. A gray ball, the color of the twilight, might
escape observation, where a white missive fluttering down from an
upper window would surely be seen by someone. Then she softly
opened her window and waited.
"It was dusk when Andrew went away. Fortunately old Hugh did not
come to the door with him. As Andrew untied his horse Ursula
threw the ball with such good aim that it struck him, as she had
meant it to do, squarely on the head. Andrew looked up at her
window. She leaned out, put her finger warningly on her lips,
pointed to the ball, and nodded. Andrew, looking somewhat
puzzled, picked up the ball, sprang to his saddle, and galloped
"So far, well, thought Ursula. But would Andrew understand? Would
he have wit enough to think of exploring the big, knobby ball for
its delicate secret? And would he be at the dance after all?
"The evening dragged by. Time had never seemed so long to Ursula.
She could not rest or sleep. It was midnight before she heard the
patter of a handful of gravel on her window-panes. In a trice she
was leaning out. Below in the darkness stood Kenneth MacNair.
"'Oh, Kenneth, did you get my letter? And is it safe for you to be
"'Safe enough. Your father is in bed. I've waited two hours down
the road for his light to go out, and an extra half-hour to put
him to sleep. The horses are there. Slip down and out, Ursula.
We'll make Charlottetown by dawn yet.'
"'That's easier said than done, lad. I'm locked in. But do you
go out behind the new barn and bring the ladder you will find
"Five minutes later, Miss Ursula, hooded and cloaked, scrambled
soundlessly down the ladder, and in five more minutes she and
Kenneth were riding along the road.
"'There's a stiff gallop before us, Ursula,' said Kenneth.
"'I would ride to the world's end with you, Kenneth MacNair,' said
Ursula. Oh, of course she shouldn't have said anything of the
sort, Felicity. But you see people had no etiquette departments
in those days. And when the red sunlight of a fair October dawn
was shining over the gray sea The Fair Lady sailed out of
Charlottetown harbour. On her deck stood Kenneth and Ursula
MacNair, and in her hand, as a most precious treasure, the bride
carried a ball of gray homespun yarn."
"Well," said Dan, yawning, "I like that kind of a story. Nobody
goes and dies in it, that's one good thing."
"Did old Hugh forgive Ursula?" I asked.
"The story stopped there in the brown book," said the Story Girl,
"but the Awkward Man says he did, after awhile."
"It must be rather romantic to be run away with," remarked Cecily,
"Don't you get such silly notions in your head, Cecily King," said
THE CHRISTMAS HARP
Great was the excitement in the houses of King as Christmas drew
nigh. The air was simply charged with secrets. Everybody was
very penurious for weeks beforehand and hoards were counted
scrutinizingly every day. Mysterious pieces of handiwork were
smuggled in and out of sight, and whispered consultations were
held, about which nobody thought of being jealous, as might have
happened at any other time. Felicity was in her element, for she
and her mother were deep in preparations for the day. Cecily and
the Story Girl were excluded from these doings with indifference
on Aunt Janet's part and what seemed ostentatious complacency on
Felicity's. Cecily took this to heart and complained to me about
"I'm one of this family just as much as Felicity is," she said,
with as much indignation as Cecily could feel, "and I don't think
she need shut me out of everything. When I wanted to stone the
raisins for the mince-meat she said, no, she would do it herself,
because Christmas mince-meat was very particular--as if I couldn't
stone raisins right! The airs Felicity puts on about her cooking
just make me sick," concluded Cecily wrathfully.
"It's a pity she doesn't make a mistake in cooking once in a while
herself," I said. "Then maybe she wouldn't think she knew so much
more than other people."
All parcels that came in the mail from distant friends were taken
charge of by Aunts Janet and Olivia, not to be opened until the
great day of the feast itself. How slowly the last week passed!
But even watched pots will boil in the fulness of time, and
finally Christmas day came, gray and dour and frost-bitten
without, but full of revelry and rose-red mirth within. Uncle
Roger and Aunt Olivia and the Story Girl came over early for the
day; and Peter came too, with his shining, morning face, to be
hailed with joy, for we had been afraid that Peter would not be
able to spend Christmas with us. His mother had wanted him home
"Of course I ought to go," Peter had told me mournfully, "but we
won't have turkey for dinner, because ma can't afford it. And ma
always cries on holidays because she says they make her think of
father. Of course she can't help it, but it ain't cheerful. Aunt
Jane wouldn't have cried. Aunt Jane used to say she never saw the
man who was worth spoiling her eyes for. But I guess I'll have to
spend Christmas at home."
At the last moment, however, a cousin of Mrs. Craig's in
Charlottetown invited her for Christmas, and Peter, being given
his choice of going or staying, joyfully elected to stay. So we
were all together, except Sara Ray, who had been invited but whose
mother wouldn't let her come.
"Sara Ray's mother is a nuisance," snapped the Story Girl. "She
just lives to make that poor child miserable, and she won't let
her go to the party tonight, either."
"It is just breaking Sara's heart that she can't," said Cecily
compassionately. "I'm almost afraid I won't enjoy myself for
thinking of her, home there alone, most likely reading the Bible,
while we're at the party."
"She might be worse occupied than reading the Bible," said
"But Mrs. Ray makes her read it as a punishment," protested
Cecily. "Whenever Sara cries to go anywhere--and of course she'll
cry tonight--Mrs. Ray makes her read seven chapters in the Bible.
I wouldn't think that would make her very fond of it. And I'll
not be able to talk the party over with Sara afterwards--and
that's half the fun gone."
"You can tell her all about it," comforted Felix.
"Telling isn't a bit like talking it over," retorted Cecily.
"It's too one-sided."
We had an exciting time opening our presents. Some of us had more
than others, but we all received enough to make us feel
comfortably that we were not unduly neglected in the matter. The
contents of the box which the Story Girl's father had sent her
from Paris made our eyes stick out. It was full of beautiful
things, among them another red silk dress--not the bright, flame-
hued tint of her old one, but a rich, dark crimson, with the most
distracting flounces and bows and ruffles; and with it were little
red satin slippers with gold buckles, and heels that made Aunt
Janet hold up her hands in horror. Felicity remarked scornfully
that she would have thought the Story Girl would get tired wearing
red so much, and even Cecily commented apart to me that she
thought when you got so many things all at once you didn't
appreciate them as much as when you only got a few.
"I'd never get tired of red," said the Story Girl. "I just love
it--it's so rich and glowing. When I'm dressed in red I always
feel ever so much cleverer than in any other colour. Thoughts
just crowd into my brain one after the other. Oh, you darling
dress--you dear, sheeny, red-rosy, glistening, silky thing!"
She flung it over her shoulder and danced around the kitchen.
"Don't be silly, Sara," said Aunt Janet, a little stimy. She was
a good soul, that Aunt Janet, and had a kind, loving heart in her
ample bosom. But I fancy there were times when she thought it
rather hard that the daughter of a roving adventurer--as she
considered him--like Blair Stanley should disport herself in silk
dresses, while her own daughters must go clad in gingham and
muslin--for those were the days when a feminine creature got one
silk dress in her lifetime, and seldom more than one.
The Story Girl also got a present from the Awkward Man--a little,
shabby, worn volume with a great many marks on the leaves.
"Why, it isn't new--it's an old book!" exclaimed Felicity. "I
didn't think the Awkward Man was mean, whatever else he was."
"Oh, you don't understand, Felicity," said the Story Girl
patiently. "And I don't suppose I can make you understand. But
I'll try. I'd ten times rather have this than a new book. It's
one of his own, don't you see--one that he has read a hundred
times and loved and made a friend of. A new book, just out of a
shop, wouldn't be the same thing at all. It wouldn't MEAN
anything. I consider it a great compliment that he has given me
this book. I'm prouder of it than of anything else I've got."
"Well, you're welcome to it," said Felicity. "I don't understand
and I don't want to. I wouldn't give anybody a Christmas present
that wasn't new, and I wouldn't thank anybody who gave me one."
Peter was in the seventh heaven because Felicity had given him a
present--and, moreover, one that she had made herself. It was a
bookmark of perforated cardboard, with a gorgeous red and yellow
worsted goblet worked on it, and below, in green letters, the
solemn warning, "Touch Not The Cup." As Peter was not addicted to
habits of intemperance, not even to looking on dandelion wine when
it was pale yellow, we did not exactly see why Felicity should
have selected such a device. But Peter was perfectly satisfied,
so nobody cast any blight on his happiness by carping criticism.
Later on Felicity told me she had worked the bookmark for him
because his father used to drink before he ran away.
"I thought Peter ought to be warned in time," she said.
Even Pat had a ribbon of blue, which he clawed off and lost half
an hour after it was tied on him. Pat did not care for vain
adornments of the body.
We had a glorious Christmas dinner, fit for the halls of Lucullus,
and ate far more than was good for us, none daring to make us
afraid on that one day of the year. And in the evening--oh,
rapture and delight!--we went to Kitty Marr's party.
It was a fine December evening; the sharp air of morning had
mellowed until it was as mild as autumn. There had been no snow,
and the long fields, sloping down from the homestead, were brown
and mellow. A weird, dreamy stillness had fallen on the purple
earth, the dark fir woods, the valley rims, the sere meadows.
Nature seemed to have folded satisfied hands to rest, knowing that
her long wintry slumber was coming upon her.
At first, when the invitations to the party had come, Aunt Janet
had said we could not go; but Uncle Alec interceded in our favour,
perhaps influenced thereto by Cecily's wistful eyes. If Uncle
Alec had a favourite among his children it was Cecily, and he had
grown even more indulgent towards her of late. Now and then I saw
him looking at her intently, and, following his eyes and thought,
I had, somehow, seen that Cecily was paler and thinner than she
had been in the summer, and that her soft eyes seemed larger, and
that over her little face in moments of repose there was a certain
languor and weariness that made it very sweet and pathetic. And I
heard him tell Aunt Janet that he did not like to see the child
getting so much the look of her Aunt Felicity.
"Cecily is perfectly well," said Aunt Janet sharply. "She's only
growing very fast. Don't be foolish, Alec."
But after that Cecily had cups of cream where the rest of us got
only milk; and Aunt Janet was very particular to see that she had
her rubbers on whenever she went out.
On this merry Christmas evening, however, no fears or dim
foreshadowings of any coming event clouded our hearts or faces.
Cecily looked brighter and prettier than I had ever seen her, with
her softly shining eyes and the nut brown gloss of her hair.
Felicity was too beautiful for words; and even the Story Girl,
between excitement and the crimson silk array, blossomed out with
a charm and allurement more potent than any regular loveliness--
and this in spite of the fact that Aunt Olivia had tabooed the red
satin slippers and mercilessly decreed that stout shoes should be
"I know just how you feel about it, you daughter of Eve," she
said, with gay sympathy, "but December roads are damp, and if you
are going to walk to Marrs' you are not going to do it in those
frivolous Parisian concoctions, even with overboots on; so be
brave, dear heart, and show that you have a soul above little red
"Anyhow," said Uncle Roger, "that red silk dress will break the
hearts of all the feminine small fry at the party. You'd break
their spirits, too, if you wore the slippers. Don't do it, Sara.
Leave them one wee loophole of enjoyment."
"What does Uncle Roger mean?" whispered Felicity.
"He means you girls are all dying of jealousy because of the Story
Girl's dress," said Dan.
"I am not of a jealous disposition," said Felicity loftily, "and
she's entirely welcome to the dress--with a complexion like that."
But we enjoyed that party hugely, every one of us. And we enjoyed
the walk home afterwards, through dim, enshadowed fields where
silvery star-beams lay, while Orion trod his stately march above
us, and a red moon climbed up the black horizon's rim. A brook
went with us part of the way, singing to us through the dark--a
gay, irresponsible vagabond of valley and wilderness.
Felicity and Peter walked not with us. Peter's cup must surely
have brimmed over that Christmas night. When we left the Marr
house, he had boldly said to Felicity, "May I see you home?" And
Felicity, much to our amazement, had taken his arm and marched off
with him. The primness of her was indescribable, and was not at
all ruffled by Dan's hoot of derision. As for me, I was consumed
by a secret and burning desire to ask the Story Girl if I might
see HER home; but I could not screw my courage to the sticking
point. How I envied Peter his easy, insouciant manner! I could
not emulate him, so Dan and Felix and Cecily and the Story Girl
and I all walked hand in hand, huddling a little closer together
as we went through James Frewen's woods--for there are strange
harps in a fir grove, and who shall say what fingers sweep them?
Mighty and sonorous was the music above our heads as the winds of
the night stirred the great boughs tossing athwart the starlit
sky. Perhaps it was that aeolian harmony which recalled to the
Story Girl a legend of elder days.
"I read such a pretty story in one of Aunt Olivia's books last
night," she said. "It was called 'The Christmas Harp.' Would you
like to hear it? It seems to me it would just suit this part of
"There isn't anything about--about ghosts in it, is there?" said
"Oh, no, I wouldn't tell a ghost story here for anything. I'd
frighten myself too much. This story is about one of the
shepherds who saw the angels on the first Christmas night. He was
just a youth, and he loved music with all his heart, and he longed
to be able to express the melody that was in his soul. But he
could not; he had a harp and he often tried to play on it; but his
clumsy fingers only made such discord that his companions laughed
at him and mocked him, and called him a madman because he would
not give it up, but would rather sit apart by himself, with his
arms about his harp, looking up into the sky, while they gathered
around their fire and told tales to wile away their long night
vigils as they watched their sheep on the hills. But to him the
thoughts that came out of the great silence were far sweeter than
their mirth; and he never gave up the hope, which sometimes left
his lips as a prayer, that some day he might be able to express
those thoughts in music to the tired, weary, forgetful world. On
the first Christmas night he was out with his fellow shepherds on
the hills. It was chill and dark, and all, except him, were glad
to gather around the fire. He sat, as usual, by himself, with his
harp on his knee and a great longing in his heart. And there came
a marvellous light in the sky and over the hills, as if the
darkness of the night had suddenly blossomed into a wonderful
meadow of flowery flame; and all the shepherds saw the angels and
heard them sing. And as they sang, the harp that the young
shepherd held began to play softly by itself, and as he listened
to it he realized that it was playing the same music that the
angels sang and that all his secret longings and aspirations and
strivings were expressed in it. From that night, whenever he took
the harp in his hands, it played the same music; and he wandered
all over the world carrying it; wherever the sound of its music
was heard hate and discord fled away and peace and good-will
reigned. No one who heard it could think an evil thought; no one
could feel hopeless or despairing or bitter or angry. When a man
had once heard that music it entered into his soul and heart and
life and became a part of him for ever. Years went by; the
shepherd grew old and bent and feeble; but still he roamed over
land and sea, that his harp might carry the message of the
Christmas night and the angel song to all mankind. At last his
strength failed him and he fell by the wayside in the darkness;
but his harp played as his spirit passed; and it seemed to him
that a Shining One stood by him, with wonderful starry eyes, and
said to him, 'Lo, the music thy harp has played for so many years
has been but the echo of the love and sympathy and purity and
beauty in thine own soul; and if at any time in the wanderings
thou hadst opened the door of that soul to evil or envy or
selfishness thy harp would have ceased to play. Now thy life is
ended; but what thou hast given to mankind has no end; and as long
as the world lasts, so long will the heavenly music of the
Christmas harp ring in the ears of men.' When the sun rose the old
shepherd lay dead by the roadside, with a smile on his face; and
in his hands was a harp with all its strings broken."
We left the fir woods as the tale was ended, and on the opposite
hill was home. A dim light in the kitchen window betokened that
Aunt Janet had no idea of going to bed until all her young fry
were safely housed for the night.
"Ma's waiting up for us," said Dan. "I'd laugh if she happened to
go to the door just as Felicity and Peter were strutting up. I
guess she'll be cross. It's nearly twelve."
"Christmas will soon be over," said Cecily, with a sigh. "Hasn't
it been a nice one? It's the first we've all spent together. Do
you suppose we'll ever spend another together?"
"Lots of 'em," said Dan cheerily. "Why not?"
"Oh, I don't know," answered Cecily, her footsteps lagging
somewhat. "Only things seem just a little too pleasant to last."
"If Willy Fraser had had as much spunk as Peter, Miss Cecily King
mightn't be so low spirited," quoth Dan, significantly.
Cecily tossed her head and disdained reply. There are really some
remarks a self-respecting young lady must ignore.
NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS
If we did not have a white Christmas we had a white New Year.
Midway between the two came a heavy snowfall. It was winter in
our orchard of old delights then,--so truly winter that it was
hard to believe summer had ever dwelt in it, or that spring would
ever return to it. There were no birds to sing the music of the
moon; and the path where the apple blossoms had fallen were heaped
with less fragrant drifts. But it was a place of wonder on a
moonlight night, when the snowy arcades shone like avenues of
ivory and crystal, and the bare trees cast fairy-like traceries
upon them. Over Uncle Stephen's Walk, where the snow had fallen
smoothly, a spell of white magic had been woven. Taintless and
wonderful it seemed, like a street of pearl in the new Jerusalem.
On New Year's Eve we were all together in Uncle Alec's kitchen,
which was tacitly given over to our revels during the winter
evenings. The Story Girl and Peter were there, of course, and
Sara Ray's mother had allowed her to come up on condition that she
should be home by eight sharp. Cecily was glad to see her, but
the boys never hailed her arrival with over-much delight, because,
since the dark began to come down early, Aunt Janet always made
one of us walk down home with her. We hated this, because Sara
Ray was always so maddeningly self-conscious of having an escort.
We knew perfectly well that next day in school she would tell her
chums as a "dead" secret that "So-and-So King saw her home" from
the hill farm the night before. Now, seeing a young lady home
from choice, and being sent home with her by your aunt or mother
are two entirely different things, and we thought Sara Ray ought
to have sense enough to know it.
Outside there was a vivid rose of sunset behind the cold hills of
fir, and the long reaches of snowy fields glowed fairily pink in
the western light. The drifts along the edges of the meadows and
down the lane looked as if a series of breaking waves had, by the
lifting of a magician's wand, been suddenly transformed into
marble, even to their toppling curls of foam.
Slowly the splendour died, giving place to the mystic beauty of a
winter twilight when the moon is rising. The hollow sky was a cup
of blue. The stars came out over the white glens and the earth
was covered with a kingly carpet for the feet of the young year to
"I'm so glad the snow came," said the Story Girl. "If it hadn't
the New Year would have seemed just as dingy and worn out as the
old. There's something very solemn about the idea of a New Year,
isn't there? Just think of three hundred and sixty-five whole
days, with not a thing happened in them yet."
"I don't suppose anything very wonderful will happen in them,"
said Felix pessimistically. To Felix, just then, life was flat,
stale and unprofitable because it was his turn to go home with
"It makes me a little frightened to think of all that may happen
in them," said Cecily. "Miss Marwood says it is what we put into
a year, not what we get out of it, that counts at last."
"I'm always glad to see a New Year," said the Story Girl. "I wish
we could do as they do in Norway. The whole family sits up until
midnight, and then, just as the clock is striking twelve, the
father opens the door and welcomes the New Year in. Isn't it a
"If ma would let us stay up till twelve we might do that too,"
said Dan, "but she never will. I call it mean."
"If I ever have children I'll let them stay up to watch the New
Year in," said the Story Girl decidedly.
"So will I," said Peter, "but other nights they'll have to go to
bed at seven."
"You ought to be ashamed, speaking of such things," said Felicity,
with a scandalized face.
Peter shrank into the background abashed, no doubt believing that
he had broken some Family Guide precept all to pieces.
"I didn't know it wasn't proper to mention children," he muttered
"We ought to make some New Year resolutions," suggested the Story
Girl. "New Year's Eve is the time to make them."
"I can't think of any resolutions I want to make," said Felicity,
who was perfectly satisfied with herself.
"I could suggest a few to you," said Dan sarcastically.
"There are so many I would like to make," said Cecily, "that I'm
afraid it wouldn't be any use trying to keep them all."
"Well, let's all make a few, just for the fun of it, and see if we
can keep them," I said. "And let's get paper and ink and write
them out. That will make them seem more solemn and binding."
"And then pin them up on our bedroom walls, where we'll see them
every day," suggested the Story Girl, "and every time we break a
resolution we must put a cross opposite it. That will show us
what progress we are making, as well as make us ashamed if we have
too many crosses."
"And let's have a Roll of Honour in Our Magazine," suggested
Felix, "and every month we'll publish the names of those who keep
their resolutions perfect."
"I think it's all nonsense," said Felicity. But she joined our
circle around the table, though she sat for a long time with a
blank sheet before her.
"Let's each make a resolution in turn," I said. "I'll lead off."
And, recalling with shame certain unpleasant differences of
opinion I had lately had with Felicity, I wrote down in my best
"I shall try to keep my temper always."
"You'd better," said Felicity tactfully.
It was Dan's turn next.
"I can't think of anything to start with," he said, gnawing his
"You might make a resolution not to eat poison berries," suggested
"You'd better make one not to nag people everlastingly," retorted
"Oh, don't quarrel the last night of the old year," implored
"You might resolve not to quarrel any time," suggested Sara Ray.
"No, sir," said Dan emphatically. "There's no use making a
resolution you CAN'T keep. There are people in this family you've
just GOT to quarrel with if you want to live. But I've thought of
one--I won't do things to spite people."
Felicity--who really was in an unbearable mood that night--laughed
disagreeably; but Cecily gave her a fierce nudge, which probably
restrained her from speaking.
"I will not eat any apples," wrote Felix.
"What on earth do you want to give up eating apples for?" asked
Peter in astonishment.
"Never mind," returned Felix.
"Apples make people fat, you know," said Felicity sweetly.
"It seems a funny kind of resolution," I said doubtfully. "I
think our resolutions ought to be giving up wrong things or doing
"You make your resolutions to suit yourself and I'll make mine to
suit myself," said Felix defiantly.
"I shall never get drunk," wrote Peter painstakingly.
"But you never do," said the Story Girl in astonishment.
"Well, it will be all the easier to keep the resolution," argued
"That isn't fair," complained Dan. "If we all resolved not to do
the things we never do we'd all be on the Roll of Honour."
"You let Peter alone," said Felicity severely. "It's a very good
resolution and one everybody ought to make."
"I shall not be jealous," wrote the Story Girl.
"But are you?" I asked, surprised.
The Story Girl coloured and nodded. "Of one thing," she
confessed, "but I'm not going to tell what it is."
"I'm jealous sometimes, too," confessed Sara Ray, "and so my first
resolution will be 'I shall try not to feel jealous when I hear
the other girls in school describing all the sick spells they've
"Goodness, do you want to be sick?" demanded Felix in
"It makes a person important," explained Sara Ray.
"I am going to try to improve my mind by reading good books and
listening to older people," wrote Cecily.
"You got that out of the Sunday School paper," cried Felicity.
"It doesn't matter where I got it," said Cecily with dignity.
"The main thing is to keep it."
"It's your turn, Felicity," I said.
Felicity tossed her beautiful golden head.
"I told you I wasn't going to make any resolutions. Go on
"I shall always study my grammar lesson," I wrote--I, who loathed
grammar with a deadly loathing.
"I hate grammar too," sighed Sara Ray. "It seems so unimportant."
Sara was rather fond of a big word, but did not always get hold of
the right one. I rather suspected that in the above instance she
really meant uninteresting.
"I won't get mad at Felicity, if I can help it," wrote Dan.
"I'm sure I never do anything to make you mad," exclaimed
"I don't think it's polite to make resolutions about your
sisters," said Peter.
"He can't keep it anyway," scoffed Felicity. "He's got such an
"It's a family failing," flashed Dan, breaking his resolution ere
the ink on it was dry.
"There you go," taunted Felicity.
"I'll work all my arithmetic problems without any help," scribbled
"I wish I could resolve that, too," sighed Sara Ray, "but it
wouldn't be any use. I'd never be able to do those compound
multiplication sums the teacher gives us to do at home every night
if I didn't get Judy Pineau to help me. Judy isn't a good reader
and she can't spell AT ALL, but you can't stick her in arithmetic
as far as she went herself. I feel sure," concluded poor Sara, in
a hopeless tone, "that I'll NEVER be able to understand compound
"'Multiplication is vexation,
Division is as bad,
The rule of three perplexes me,
And fractions drive me mad,'"
"I haven't got as far as fractions yet," sighed Sara, "and I hope
I'll be too big to go to school before I do. I hate arithmetic,
but I am PASSIONATELY fond of geography."
"I will not play tit-tat-x on the fly leaves of my hymn book in
church," wrote Peter.
"Mercy, did you ever do such a thing?" exclaimed Felicity in
Peter nodded shamefacedly.
"Yes--that Sunday Mr. Bailey preached. He was so long-winded, I
got awful tired, and, anyway, he was talking about things I
couldn't understand, so I played tit-tat-x with one of the
Markdale boys. It was the day I was sitting up in the gallery."
"Well, I hope if you ever do the like again you won't do it in OUR
pew," said Felicity severely.
"I ain't going to do it at all," said Peter. "I felt sort of mean
all the rest of the day."
"I shall try not to be vexed when people interrupt me when I'm
telling stories," wrote the Story Girl. "but it will be hard,"
she added with a sigh.
"I never mind being interrupted," said Felicity.
"I shall try to be cheerful and smiling all the time," wrote
"You are, anyway," said Sara Ray loyally.
"I don't believe we ought to be cheerful ALL the time," said the
Story Girl. "The Bible says we ought to weep with those who
"But maybe it means that we're to weep cheerfully," suggested
"Sorter as if you were thinking, 'I'm very sorry for you but I'm
mighty glad I'm not in the scrape too,'" said Dan.
"Dan, don't be irreverent," rebuked Felicity.
"I know a story about old Mr. and Mrs. Davidson of Markdale," said
the Story Girl. "She was always smiling and it used to aggravate
her husband, so one day he said very crossly, 'Old lady, what ARE
you grinning at?' 'Oh, well, Abiram, everything's so bright and
pleasant, I've just got to smile.'
"Not long after there came a time when everything went wrong--the
crop failed and their best cow died, and Mrs. Davidson had
rheumatism; and finally Mr. Davidson fell and broke his leg. But
still Mrs. Davidson smiled. 'What in the dickens are you grinning
about now, old lady?' he demanded. 'Oh, well, Abiram,' she said,
'everything is so dark and unpleasant I've just got to smile.'
'Well,' said the old man crossly, 'I think you might give your
face a rest sometimes.'"
"I shall not talk gossip," wrote Sara Ray with a satisfied air.
"Oh, don't you think that's a little TOO strict?" asked Cecily
anxiously. "Of course, it's not right to talk MEAN gossip, but
the harmless kind doesn't hurt. If I say to you that Emmy
MacPhail is going to get a new fur collar this winter, THAT is
harmless gossip, but if I say I don't see how Emmy MacPhail can
afford a new fur collar when her father can't pay my father for
the oats he got from him, that would be MEAN gossip. If I were
you, Sara, I'd put MEAN gossip."
Sara consented to this amendment.
"I will be polite to everybody," was my third resolution, which
passed without comment.
"I'll try not to use slang since Cecily doesn't like it," wrote
"I think some slang is real cute," said Felicity.
"The Family Guide says it's very vulgar," grinned Dan. "Doesn't
it, Sara Stanley?"
"Don't disturb me," said the Story Girl dreamily. "I'm just
thinking a beautiful thought."
"I've thought of a resolution to make," cried Felicity. "Mr.
Marwood said last Sunday we should always try to think beautiful
thoughts and then our lives would be very beautiful. So I shall
resolve to think a beautiful thought every morning before
"Can you only manage one a day?" queried Dan.
"And why before breakfast?" I asked.
"Because it's easier to think on an empty stomach," said Peter, in
all good faith. But Felicity shot a furious glance at him.
"I selected that time," she explained with dignity, "because when
I'm brushing my hair before my glass in the morning I'll see my
resolution and remember it."
"Mr. Marwood meant that ALL our thoughts ought to be beautiful,"
said the Story Girl. "If they were, people wouldn't be afraid to
say what they think."
"They oughtn't to be afraid to, anyhow," said Felix stoutly. "I'm
going to make a resolution to say just what I think always."
"And do you expect to get through the year alive if you do?" asked
"It might be easy enough to say what you think if you could always
be sure just what you DO think," said the Story Girl. "So often I
can't be sure."
"How would you like it if people always said just what they think
to you?" asked Felicity.
"I'm not very particular what SOME people think of me," rejoined
"I notice you don't like to be told by anybody that you're fat,"
"Oh, dear me, I do wish you wouldn't all say such sarcastic things
to each other," said poor Cecily plaintively. "It sounds so
horrid the last night of the old year. Dear knows where we'll all
be this night next year. Peter, it's your turn."
"I will try," wrote Peter, "to say my prayers every night regular,
and not twice one night because I don't expect to have time the
next,--like I did the night before the party," he added.
"I s'pose you never said your prayers until we got you to go to
church," said Felicity--who had had no hand in inducing Peter to
go to church, but had stoutly opposed it, as recorded in the first
volume of our family history.
"I did, too," said Peter. "Aunt Jane taught me to say my prayers.
Ma hadn't time, being as father had run away; ma had to wash at
night same as in day-time."
"I shall learn to cook," wrote the Story Girl, frowning.
"You'd better resolve not to make puddings of--" began Felicity,
then stopped as suddenly as if she had bitten off the rest of her
sentence and swallowed it. Cecily had nudged her, so she had
probably remembered the Story Girl's threat that she would never
tell another story if she was ever twitted with the pudding she
had made from sawdust. But we all knew what Felicity had started
to say and the Story Girl dealt her a most uncousinly glance.
"I will not cry because mother won't starch my aprons," wrote Sara
"Better resolve not to cry about anything," said Dan kindly.
Sara Ray shook her head forlornly.
"That would be too hard to keep. There are times when I HAVE to
cry. It's a relief."
"Not to the folks who have to hear you," muttered Dan aside to
"Oh, hush," whispered Cecily back. "Don't go and hurt her
feelings the last night of the old year. Is it my turn again?
Well, I'll resolve not to worry because my hair is not curly.
But, oh, I'll never be able to help wishing it was."
"Why don't you curl it as you used to do, then?" asked Dan.
"You know very well that I've never put my hair up in curl papers
since the time Peter was dying of the measles," said Cecily
reproachfully. "I resolved then I wouldn't because I wasn't sure
it was quite right."
"I will keep my finger-nails neat and clean," I wrote. "There,
that's four resolutions. I'm not going to make any more. Four's
"I shall always think twice before I speak," wrote Felix.
"That's an awful waste of time," commented Dan, "but I guess
you'll need to if you're always going to say what you think."
"I'm going to stop with three," said Peter.
"I will have all the good times I can," wrote the Story Girl.
"THAT'S what I call sensible," said Dan.
"It's a very easy resolution to keep, anyhow," commented Felix.
"I shall try to like reading the Bible," wrote Sara Ray.
"You ought to like reading the Bible without trying to," exclaimed
"If you had to read seven chapters of it every time you were
naughty I don't believe you would like it either," retorted Sara
Ray with a flash of spirit.
"I shall try to believe only half of what I hear," was Cecily's
"But which half?" scoffed Dan.
"The best half," said sweet Cecily simply.
"I'll try to obey mother ALWAYS," wrote Sara Ray, with a
tremendous sigh, as if she fully realized the difficulty of
keeping such a resolution. "And that's all I'm going to make."
"Felicity has only made one," said the Story Girl.
"I think it better to make just one and keep it than make a lot
and break them," said Felicity loftily.
She had the last word on the subject, for it was time for Sara Ray
to go, and our circle broke up. Sara and Felix departed and we
watched them down the lane in the moonlight--Sara walking demurely
in one runner track, and Felix stalking grimly along in the other.
I fear the romantic beauty of that silver shining night was
entirely thrown away on my mischievous brother.
And it was, as I remember it, a most exquisite night--a white
poem, a frosty, starry lyric of light. It was one of those nights
on which one might fall asleep and dream happy dreams of gardens
of mirth and song, feeling all the while through one's sleep the
soft splendour and radiance of the white moon-world outside, as
one hears soft, far-away music sounding through the thoughts and
words that are born of it.
As a matter of fact, however, Cecily dreamed that night that she
saw three full moons in the sky, and wakened up crying with the
horror of it.
THE FIRST NUMBER OF Our Magazine
The first number of Our Magazine was ready on New Year's Day, and
we read it that evening in the kitchen. All our staff had worked
nobly and we were enormously proud of the result, although Dan
still continued to scoff at a paper that wasn't printed. The
Story Girl and I read it turnabout while the others, except Felix,
ate apples. It opened with a short
With this number Our Magazine makes its first bow to the public.
All the editors have done their best and the various departments
are full of valuable information and amusement. The tastefully
designed cover is by a famous artist, Mr. Blair Stanley, who sent
it to us all the way from Europe at the request of his daughter.
Mr. Peter Craig, our enterprising literary editor, contributes a
touching love story. (Peter, aside, in a gratified pig's whisper:
"I never was called 'Mr.' before.") Miss Felicity King's essays on
Shakespeare is none the worse for being an old school composition,
as it is new to most of our readers. Miss Cecily King contributes
a thrilling article of adventure. The various departments are
ably edited, and we feel that we have reason to be proud of Our
Magazine. But we shall not rest on our oars. "Excelsior" shall
ever be our motto. We trust that each succeeding issue will be
better than the one that went before. We are well aware of many
defects, but it is easier to see them than to remedy them. Any
suggestion that would tend to the improvement of Our Magazine will
be thankfully received, but we trust that no criticism will be
made that will hurt anyone's feelings. Let us all work together
in harmony, and strive to make Our Magazine an influence for good
and a source of innocent pleasure, and let us always remember the
words of the poet.
"The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upwards in the night."
(Peter, IMPRESSIVELY:--"I've read many a worse editorial in the
ESSAY ON SHAKESPEARE
Shakespeare's full name was William Shakespeare. He did not
always spell it the same way. He lived in the reign of Queen
Elizabeth and wrote a great many plays. His plays are written in
dialogue form. Some people think they were not written by
Shakespeare but by another man of the same name. I have read some
of them because our school teacher says everybody ought to read
them, but I did not care much for them. There are some things in
them I cannot understand. I like the stories of Valeria H.
Montague in the Family Guide ever so much better. They are more
exciting and truer to life. Romeo and Juliet was one of the plays
I read. It was very sad. Juliet dies and I don't like stories
where people die. I like it better when they all get married
especially to dukes and earls. Shakespeare himself was married to
Anne Hatheway. They are both dead now. They have been dead a
good while. He was a very famous man.
(PETER, MODESTLY: "I don't know much about Shakespeare myself but
I've got a book of his plays that belonged to my Aunt Jane, and I
guess I'll have to tackle him as soon as I finish with the
THE STORY OF AN ELOPEMENT FROM CHURCH
This is a true story. It happened in Markdale to an uncle of my
mothers. He wanted to marry Miss Jemima Parr. Felicity says
Jemima is not a romantic name for a heroin of a story but I cant
help it in this case because it is a true story and her name realy
was Jemima. My mothers uncle was named Thomas Taylor. He was
poor at that time and so the father of Miss Jemima Parr did not
want him for a soninlaw and told him he was not to come near the
house or he would set the dog on him. Miss Jemima Parr was very
pretty and my mothers uncle Thomas was just crazy about her and
she wanted him too. She cried almost every night after her father
forbid him to come to the house except the nights she had to sleep
or she would have died. And she was so frightened he might try to
come for all and get tore up by the dog and it was a bull-dog too
that would never let go. But mothers uncle Thomas was too cute
for that. He waited till one day there was preaching in the
Markdale church in the middle of the week because it was sacrament
time and Miss Jemima Parr and her family all went because her
father was an elder. My mothers uncle Thomas went too and set in
the pew just behind Miss Jemima Parrs family. When they all bowed
their heads at prayer time Miss Jemima Parr didnt but set bolt
uprite and my mothers uncle Thomas bent over and wispered in her
ear. I dont know what he said so I cant right it but Miss Jemima
Parr blushed that is turned red and nodded her head. Perhaps some
people may think that my mothers uncle Thomas shouldent of
wispered at prayer time in church but you must remember that Miss
Jemima Parrs father had thretened to set the dog on him and that
was hard lines when he was a respektable young man though not
rich. Well when they were singing the last sam my mothers uncle
Thomas got up and went out very quitely and as soon as church was
out Miss Jemima Parr walked out too real quick. Her family never
suspekted anything and they hung round talking to folks and
shaking hands while Miss Jemima Parr and my mothers uncle Thomas
were eloping outside. And what do you suppose they eloped in.
Why in Miss Jemima Parrs fathers slay. And when he went out they
were gone and his slay was gone also his horse. Of course my
mothers uncle Thomas didnt steal the horse. He just borroed it
and sent it home the next day. But before Miss Jemima Parrs
father could get another rig to follow them they were so far away
he couldent catch them before they got married. And they lived
happy together forever afterwards. Mothers uncle Thomas lived to
be a very old man. He died very suddent. He felt quite well when
he went to sleep and when he woke up he was dead.
MY MOST EXCITING ADVENTURE
The editor says we must all write up our most exciting adventure
for Our Magazine. My most exciting adventure happened a year ago
last November. I was nearly frightened to death. Dan says he
wouldn't of been scared and Felicity says she would of known what
it was but it's easy to talk.
It happened the night I went down to see Kitty Marr. I thought
when I went that Aunt Olivia was visiting there and I could come
home with her. But she wasn't there and I had to come home alone.
Kitty came a piece of the way but she wouldn't come any further
than Uncle James Frewen's gate. She said it was because it was so
windy she was afraid she would get the tooth-ache and not because
she was frightened of the ghost of the dog that haunted the bridge
in Uncle James' hollow. I did wish she hadn't said anything about
the dog because I mightn't of thought about it if she hadn't. I
had to go on alone thinking of it. I'd heard the story often but
I'd never believed in it. They said the dog used to appear at one
end of the bridge and walk across it with people and vanish when
he got to the other end. He never tried to bite anyone but one
wouldn't want to meet the ghost of a dog even if one didn't
believe in him. I knew there was no such thing as ghosts and I
kept saying a paraphrase over to myself and the Golden Text of the
next Sunday School lesson but oh, how my heart beat when I got
near the hollow! It was so dark. You could just see things dim-
like but you couldn't see what they were. When I got to the
bridge I walked along sideways with my back to the railing so I
couldn't think the dog was behind me. And then just in the middle
of the bridge I met something. It was right before me and it was
big and black, just about the size of a Newfoundland dog, and I
thought I could see a white nose. And it kept jumping about from
one side of the bridge to the other. Oh, I hope none of my
readers will ever be so frightened as I was then. I was too
frightened to run back because I was afraid it would chase me and
I couldn't get past it, it moved so quick, and then it just made
one spring right on me and I felt its claws and I screamed and
fell down. It rolled off to one side and laid there quite quiet
but I didn't dare move and I don't know what would have become of
me if Amos Cowan hadn't come along that very minute with a
lantern. And there was me sitting in the middle of the bridge and
that awful thing beside me. And what do you think it was but a
big umbrella with a white handle? Amos said it was his umbrella
and it had blown away from him and he had to go back and get the
lantern to look for it. I felt like asking him what on earth he
was going about with an umbrella open when it wasent raining. But
the Cowans do such queer things. You remember the time Jerry
Cowan sold us God's picture. Amos took me right home and I was
thankful for I don't know what would have become of me if he
hadn't come along. I couldn't sleep all night and I never want to
have any more adventures like that one.
Mr. Dan King felt somewhat indisposed the day after Christmas--
probably as the result of too much mince pie. (DAN, INDIGNANTLY:--
"I wasn't. I only et one piece!")
Mr. Peter Craig thinks he saw the Family Ghost on Christmas Eve.
But the rest of us think all he saw was the white calf with the
red tail. (PETER, MUTTERING SULKILY:--"It's a queer calf that
would walk up on end and wring its hands.")
Miss Cecily King spent the night of Dec. 20th with Miss Kitty
Marr. They talked most of the night about new knitted lace
patterns and their beaus and were very sleepy in school next day.
(CECILY, SHARPLY:--"We never mentioned such things!")
Patrick Grayfur, Esq., was indisposed yesterday, but seems to be
enjoying his usual health to-day.
The King family expect their Aunt Eliza to visit them in January.
She is really our great-aunt. We have never seen her but we are
told she is very deaf and does not like children. So Aunt Janet
says we must make ourselves scarece when she comes.
Miss Cecily King has undertaken to fill with names a square of the
missionary quilt which the Mission Band is making. You pay five
cents to have your name embroidered in a corner, ten cents to have
it in the centre, and a quarter if you want it left off
altogether. (CECILY, INDIGNANTLY:--"That isn't the way at all.")
WANTED--A remedy to make a fat boy thin. Address, "Patient
Sufferer, care of Our Magazine."
(FELIX, SOURLY:--"Sara Ray never got that up. I'll bet it was
Dan. He'd better stick to his own department.")
Mrs. Alexander King killed all her geese the twentieth of
December. We all helped pick them. We had one Christmas Day and
will have one every fortnight the rest of the winter.
The bread was sour last week because mother wouldn't take my
advice. I told her it was too warm for it in the corner behind
Miss Felicity King invented a new recete for date cookies
recently, which everybody said were excelent. I am not going to
publish it though, because I don't want other people to find it
ANXIOUS INQUIRER:--If you want to remove inkstains place the stain
over steam and apply salt and lemon juice. If it was Dan who sent
this question in I'd advise him to stop wiping his pen on his
shirt sleeves and then he wouldn't have so many stains.
F-l-x:--Yes, you should offer your arm to a lady when seeing her
home, but don't keep her standing too long at the gate while you
say good night.
(FELIX, ENRAGED:--"I never asked such a question.")
C-c-l-y:--No, it is not polite to use "Holy Moses" or "dodgasted"
in ordinary conversation.
(Cecily had gone down cellar to replenish the apple plate, so this
passed without protest.)
S-r-a:--No, it isn't polite to cry all the time. As to whether
you should ask a young man in, it all depends on whether he went
home with you of his own accord or was sent by some elderly
F-l-t-y:--It does not break any rule of etiquette if you keep a
button off your best young man's coat for a keepsake. But don't
take more than one or his mother might miss them.
Knitted mufflers are much more stylish than crocheted ones this
winter. It is nice to have one the same colour as your cap.
Red mittens with a black diamond pattern on the back are much run
after. Em Frewen's grandma knits hers for her. She can knit the
double diamond pattern and Em puts on such airs about it, but I
think the single diamond is in better taste.
The new winter hats at Markdale are very pretty. It is so
exciting to pick a hat. Boys can't have that fun. Their hats are
so much alike.
This is a true joke and really happened.
There was an old local preacher in New Brunswick one time whose
name was Samuel Clask. He used to preach and pray and visit the
sick just like a regular minister. One day he was visiting a
neighbour who was dying and he prayed the Lord to have mercy on
him because he was very poor and had worked so hard all his life
that he hadn't much time to attend to religion.
"And if you don't believe me, O Lord," Mr. Clask finished up with,
"just take a look at his hands."
GENERAL INFORMATION BUREAU
DAN:--Do porpoises grow on trees or vines?
Ans. Neither. They inhabit the deep sea.
(DAN, AGGRIEVED:--"Well, I'd never heard of porpoises and it
sounded like something that grew. But you needn't have gone and
put it in the paper."
FELIX:--"It isn't any worse than the things you put in about me
that I never asked at all."
CECILY, SOOTHINGLY:--"Oh, well, boys, it's all in fun, and I think
Our Magazine is perfectly elegant."
FELICITY, FAILING TO SEE THE STORY GIRL AND BEVERLEY EXCHANGING
WINKS BEHIND HER BACK:--"It certainly is, though SOME PEOPLE were
so opposed to starting it.")
What harmless, happy fooling it all was! How we laughed as we read
and listened and devoured apples! Blow high, blow low, no wind can
ever quench the ruddy glow of that faraway winter night in our
memories. And though Our Magazine never made much of a stir in
the world, or was the means of hatching any genius, it continued
to be capital fun for us throughout the year.
GREAT-AUNT ELIZA'S VISIT
It was a diamond winter day in February--clear, cold, hard,
brilliant. The sharp blue sky shone, the white fields and hills
glittered, the fringe of icicles around the eaves of Uncle Alec's
house sparkled. Keen was the frost and crisp the snow over our
world; and we young fry of the King households were all agog to
enjoy life--for was it not Saturday, and were we not left all
alone to keep house?
Aunt Janet and Aunt Olivia had had their last big "kill" of market
poultry the day before; and early in the morning all our grown-ups
set forth to Charlottetown, to be gone the whole day. They left
us many charges as usual, some of which we remembered and some of
which we forgot; but with Felicity in command none of us dared
stray far out of line. The Story Girl and Peter came over, of
course, and we all agreed that we would haste and get the work
done in the forenoon, that we might have an afternoon of
uninterrupted enjoyment. A taffy-pull after dinner and then a
jolly hour of coasting on the hill field before supper were on our
programme. But disappointment was our portion. We did manage to
get the taffy made but before we could sample the result
satisfactorily, and just as the girls were finishing with the
washing of the dishes, Felicity glanced out of the window and
exclaimed in tones of dismay,
"Oh, dear me, here's Great-aunt Eliza coming up the lane! Now,
isn't that too mean?"
We all looked out to see a tall, gray-haired lady approaching the
house, looking about her with the slightly puzzled air of a
stranger. We had been expecting Great-aunt Eliza's advent for
some weeks, for she was visiting relatives in Markdale. We knew
she was liable to pounce down on us any time, being one of those
delightful folk who like to "surprise" people, but we had never
thought of her coming that particular day. It must be confessed
that we did not look forward to her visit with any pleasure. None
of us had ever seen her, but we knew she was very deaf, and had
very decided opinions as to the way in which children should
"Whew!" whistled Dan. "We're in for a jolly afternoon. She's
deaf as a post and we'll have to split our throats to make her
hear at all. I've a notion to skin out."
"Oh, don't talk like that, Dan," said Cecily reproachfully.
"She's old and lonely and has had a great deal of trouble. She
has buried three husbands. We must be kind to her and do the best
we can to make her visit pleasant."
"She's coming to the back door," said Felicity, with an agitated
glance around the kitchen. "I told you, Dan, that you should have
shovelled the snow away from the front door this morning. Cecily,
set those pots in the pantry quick--hide those boots, Felix--shut
the cupboard door, Peter--Sara, straighten up the lounge. She's
awfully particular and ma says her house is always as neat as
To do Felicity justice, while she issued orders to the rest of us,
she was flying busily about herself, and it was amazing how much
was accomplished in the way of putting the kitchen in perfect
order during the two minutes in which Great-aunt Eliza was
crossing the yard.
"Fortunately the sitting-room is tidy and there's plenty in the
pantry," said Felicity, who could face anything undauntedly with a
well-stocked larder behind her.
Further conversation was cut short by a decided rap at the door.
Felicity opened it.
"Why, how do you do, Aunt Eliza?" she said loudly.
A slightly bewildered look appeared on Aunt Eliza's face.
Felicity perceived she had not spoken loudly enough.
"How do you do, Aunt Eliza," she repeated at the top of her voice.
"Come in--we are glad to see you. We've been looking for you for
ever so long."
"Are your father and mother at home?" asked Aunt Eliza, slowly.
"No, they went to town today. But they'll be home this evening."
"I'm sorry they're away," said Aunt Eliza, coming in, "because I
can stay only a few hours."
"Oh, that's too bad," shouted poor Felicity, darting an angry
glance at the rest of us, as if to demand why we didn't help her
out. "Why, we've been thinking you'd stay a week with us anyway.
You MUST stay over Sunday."
"I really can't. I have to go to Charlottetown tonight," returned
"Well, you'll take off your things and stay to tea, at least,"
urged Felicity, as hospitably as her strained vocal chords would
"Yes, I think I'll do that. I want to get acquainted with my--my
nephews and nieces," said Aunt Eliza, with a rather pleasant
glance around our group. If I could have associated the thought
of such a thing with my preconception of Great-aunt Eliza I could
have sworn there was a twinkle in her eye. But of course it was
impossible. "Won't you introduce yourselves, please?"
Felicity shouted our names and Great-aunt Eliza shook hands all
round. She performed the duty grimly and I concluded I must have
been mistaken about the twinkle. She was certainly very tall and
dignified and imposing--altogether a great-aunt to be respected.
Felicity and Cecily took her to the spare room and then left her
in the sitting-room while they returned to the kitchen, to discuss
the matter in family conclave.
"Well, and what do you think of dear Aunt Eliza?" asked Dan.
"S-s-s-sh," warned Cecily, with a glance at the half-open hall door.
"Pshaw," scoffed Dan, "she can't hear us. There ought to be a law
against anyone being as deaf as that."
"She's not so old-looking as I expected," said Felix. "If her
hair wasn't so white she wouldn't look much older than your mother."
"You don't have to be very old to be a great-aunt," said Cecily.
"Kitty Marr has a great-aunt who is just the same age as her
mother. I expect it was burying so many husbands turned her hair
white. But Aunt Eliza doesn't look just as I expected she would
"She's dressed more stylishly than I expected," said Felicity. "I
thought she'd be real old-fashioned, but her clothes aren't too
bad at all."
"She wouldn't be bad-looking if 'tweren't for her nose," said
Peter. "It's too long, and crooked besides."
"You needn't criticize our relations like that," said Felicity
"Well, aren't you doing it yourselves?" expostulated Peter.
"That's different," retorted Felicity. "Never you mind Great-aunt
"Well, don't expect me to talk to her," said Dan, "'cause I won't."
"I'm going to be very polite to her," said Felicity. "She's rich.
But how are we to entertain her, that's the question."
"What does the Family Guide say about entertaining your rich, deaf
old aunt?" queried Dan ironically.
"The Family Guide says we should be polite to EVERYBODY," said
Cecily, with a reproachful look at Dan.
"The worst of it is," said Felicity, looking worried, "that there
isn't a bit of old bread in the house and she can't eat new, I've
heard father say. It gives her indigestion. What will we do?"
"Make a pan of rusks and apologize for having no old bread,"
suggested the Story Girl, probably by way of teasing Felicity.
The latter, however, took it in all good faith.
"The Family Guide says we should never apologize for things we
can't help. It says it's adding insult to injury to do it. But
you run over home for a loaf of stale bread, Sara, and it's a good
idea about the rusks. I'll make a panful."
"Let me make them," said the Story Girl, eagerly. "I can make
real good rusks now."
"No, it wouldn't do to trust you," said Felicity mercilessly.
"You might make some queer mistake and Aunt Eliza would tell it
all over the country. She's a fearful old gossip. I'll make the
rusks myself. She hates cats, so we mustn't let Paddy be seen.
And she's a Methodist, so mind nobody says anything against
Methodists to her."
"Who's going to say anything, anyhow?" asked Peter belligerently.
"I wonder if I might ask her for her name for my quilt square?"
speculated Cecily. "I believe I will. She looks so much
friendlier than I expected. Of course she'll choose the five-cent
section. She's an estimable old lady, but very economical."
"Why don't you say she's so mean she'd skin a flea for its hide
and tallow?" said Dan. "That's the plain truth."
"Well, I'm going to see about getting tea," said Felicity, "so the
rest of you will have to entertain her. You better go in and show
her the photographs in the album. Dan, you do it."
"Thank you, that's a girl's job," said Dan. "I'd look nice
sitting up to Aunt Eliza and yelling out that this was Uncle Jim
and 'tother Cousin Sarah's twins, wouldn't I? Cecily or the Story
Girl can do it."
"I don't know all the pictures in your album," said the Story Girl
"I s'pose I'll have to do it, though I don't like to," sighed
Cecily. "But we ought to go in. We've left her alone too long
now. She'll think we have no manners."
Accordingly we all filed in rather reluctantly. Great-aunt Eliza
was toasting her toes--clad, as we noted, in very smart and
shapely shoes--at the stove and looking quite at her ease.
Cecily, determined to do her duty even in the face of such fearful
odds as Great-aunt Eliza's deafness, dragged a ponderous, plush-
covered album from its corner and proceeded to display and explain
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