The Golden Road by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Part 5 out of 5
fascinating accounts of foreign wanderings. He also drew all our
pictures for us, and this was especially delightful, for the day
of the camera was only just dawning and none of us had ever had
even our photographs taken. Sara Ray's pleasure was, as usual,
quite spoiled by wondering what her mother would say of it, for
Mrs. Ray had, so it appeared, some very peculiar prejudices
against the taking or making of any kind of picture whatsoever,
owing to an exceedingly strict interpretation of the second
commandment. Dan suggested that she need not tell her mother
anything about it; but Sara shook her head.
"I'll have to tell her. I've made it a rule to tell ma everything
I do ever since the Judgment Day."
"Besides," added Cecily seriously, "the Family Guide says one
ought to tell one's mother everything."
"It's pretty hard sometimes, though," sighed Sara. "Ma scolds so
much when I do tell her things, that it sort of discourages me.
But when I think of how dreadful I felt the time of the Judgment
Day over deceiving her in some things it nerves me up. I'd do
almost anything rather than feel like that the next time the
Judgment Day comes."
"Fe, fi, fo, fum, I smell a story," said Uncle Blair. "What do
you mean by speaking of the Judgment Day in the past tense?"
The Story Girl told him the tale of that dreadful Sunday in the
preceding summer and we all laughed with him at ourselves.
"All the same," muttered Peter, "I don't want to have another
experience like that. I hope I'll be dead the next time the
Judgment Day comes."
"But you'll be raised up for it," said Felix.
"Oh, that'll be all right. I won't mind that. I won't know
anything about it till it really happens. It's the expecting it
that's the worst."
"I don't think you ought to talk of such things," said Felicity.
When evening came we all went to Golden Milestone. We knew the
Awkward Man and his bride were expected home at sunset, and we
meant to scatter flowers on the path by which she must enter her
new home. It was the Story Girl's idea, but I don't think Aunt
Janet would have let us go if Uncle Blair had not pleaded for us.
He asked to be taken along, too, and we agreed, if he would stand
out of sight when the newly married pair came home.
"You see, father, the Awkward Man won't mind us, because we're
only children and he knows us well," explained the Story Girl,
"but if he sees you, a stranger, it might confuse him and we might
spoil the homecoming, and that would be such a pity."
So we went to Golden Milestone, laden with all the flowery spoil
we could plunder from both gardens. It was a clear amber-tinted
September evening and far away, over Markdale Harbour, a great
round red moon was rising as we waited. Uncle Blair was hidden
behind the wind-blown tassels of the pines at the gate, but he and
the Story Girl kept waving their hands at each other and calling
out gay, mirthful jests.
"Do you really feel acquainted with your father?" whispered Sara
Ray wonderingly. "It's long since you saw him."
"If I hadn't seen him for a hundred years it wouldn't make any
difference that way," laughed the Story Girl.
"S-s-h-s-s-h--they're coming," whispered Felicity excitedly.
And then they came--Beautiful Alice blushing and lovely, in the
prettiest of pretty blue dresses, and the Awkward Man, so
fervently happy that he quite forgot to be awkward. He lifted her
out of the buggy gallantly and led her forward to us, smiling. We
retreated before them, scattering our flowers lavishly on the
path, and Alice Dale walked to the very doorstep of her new home
over a carpet of blossoms. On the step they both paused and
turned towards us, and we shyly did the proper thing in the way of
congratulations and good wishes.
"It was so sweet of you to do this," said the smiling bride.
"It was lovely to be able to do it for you, dearest," whispered
the Story Girl, "and oh, Miss Reade--Mrs. Dale, I mean--we all
hope you'll be so, so happy for ever."
"I am sure I shall," said Alice Dale, turning to her husband. He
looked down into her eyes--and we were quite forgotten by both of
them. We saw it, and slipped away, while Jasper Dale drew his
wife into their home and shut the world out.
We scampered joyously away through the moonlit dusk. Uncle Blair
joined us at the gate and the Story Girl asked him what he thought
of the bride.
"When she dies white violets will grow out of her dust," he
"Uncle Blair says even queerer things than the Story Girl,"
Felicity whispered to me.
And so that beautiful day went away from us, slipping through our
fingers as we tried to hold it. It hooded itself in shadows and
fared forth on the road that is lighted by the white stars of
evening. It had been a gift of Paradise. Its hours had all been
fair and beloved. From dawn flush to fall of night there had been
naught to mar it. It took with it its smiles and laughter. But
it left the boon of memory.
THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH
"I am going away with father when he goes. He is going to spend
the winter in Paris, and I am to go to school there."
The Story Girl told us this one day in the orchard. There was a
little elation in her tone, but more regret. The news was not a
great surprise to us. We had felt it in the air ever since Uncle
Blair's arrival. Aunt Janet had been very unwilling to let the
Story Girl go. But Uncle Blair was inexorable. It was time, he
said, that she should go to a better school than the little
country one in Carlisle; and besides, he did not want her to grow
into womanhood a stranger to him. So it was finally decided that
she was to go.
"Just think, you are going to Europe," said Sara Ray in an awe-
struck tone. "Won't that be splendid!"
"I suppose I'll like it after a while," said the Story Girl
slowly, "but I know I'll be dreadfully homesick at first. Of
course, it will be lovely to be with father, but oh, I'll miss the
rest of you so much!"
"Just think how WE'LL miss YOU," sighed Cecily. "It will be so
lonesome here this winter, with you and Peter both gone. Oh,
dear, I do wish things didn't have to change."
Felicity said nothing. She kept looking down at the grass on
which she sat, absently pulling at the slender blades. Presently
we saw two big tears roll down over her cheeks. The Story Girl
"Are you crying because I'm going away, Felicity?" she asked.
"Of course I am," answered Felicity, with a big sob. "Do you
think I've no f-f-eeling?"
"I didn't think you'd care much," said the Story Girl frankly.
"You've never seemed to like me very much."
"I d-don't wear my h-heart on my sleeve," said poor Felicity, with
an attempt at dignity. "I think you m-might stay. Your father
would let you s-stay if you c-coaxed him."
"Well, you see I'd have to go some time," sighed the Story Girl,
"and the longer it was put off the harder it would be. But I do
feel dreadfully about it. I can't even take poor Paddy. I'll
have to leave him behind, and oh, I want you all to promise to be
kind to him for my sake."
We all solemnly assured her that we would.
"I'll g-give him cream every m-morning and n-night," sobbed
Felicity, "but I'll never be able to look at him without crying.
He'll make me think of you."
"Well, I'm not going right away," said the Story Girl, more
cheerfully. "Not till the last of October. So we have over a
month yet to have a good time in. Let's all just determine to
make it a splendid month for the last. We won't think about my
going at all till we have to, and we won't have any quarrels among
us, and we'll just enjoy ourselves all we possibly can. So don't
cry any more, Felicity. I'm awfully glad you do like me and am
sorry I'm going away, but let's all forget it for a month."
Felicity sighed, and tucked away her damp handkerchief.
"It isn't so easy for me to forget things, but I'll try," she said
disconsolately, "and if you want any more cooking lessons before
you go I'll be real glad to teach you anything I know."
This was a high plane of self-sacrifice for Felicity to attain.
But the Story Girl shook her head.
"No, I'm not going to bother my head about cooking lessons this
last month. It's too vexing."
"Do you remember the time you made the pudding--" began Peter, and
"Out of sawdust?" finished the Story Girl cheerfully. "You
needn't be afraid to mention it to me after this. I don't mind
any more. I begin to see the fun of it now. I should think I do
remember it--and the time I baked the bread before it was raised
"People have made worse mistakes than that," said Felicity kindly.
"Such as using tooth-powd--" but here Dan stopped abruptly,
remembering the Story Girl's plea for a beautiful month. Felicity
coloured, but said nothing--did not even LOOK anything.
"We HAVE had lots of fun together one way or another," said
"Just think how much we've laughed this last year or so," said the
Story Girl. "We've had good times together; but I think we'll
have lots more splendid years ahead."
"Eden is always behind us--Paradise always before," said Uncle
Blair, coming up in time to hear her. He said it with a sigh that
was immediately lost in one of his delightful smiles.
"I like Uncle Blair so much better than I expected to," Felicity
confided to me. "Mother says he's a rolling stone, but there
really is something very nice about him, although he says a great
many things I don't understand. I suppose the Story Girl will
have a very gay time in Paris."
"She's going to school and she'll have to study hard," I said.
"She says she's going to study for the stage," said Felicity.
"Uncle Roger thinks it is all right, and says she'll be very
famous some day. But mother thinks it's dreadful, and so do I."
"Aunt Julia is a concert singer," I said.
"Oh, that's very different. But I hope poor Sara will get on all
right," sighed Felicity. "You never know what may happen to a
person in those foreign countries. And everybody says Paris is
such a wicked place. But we must hope for the best," she
concluded in a resigned tone.
That evening the Story Girl and I drove the cows to pasture after
milking, and when we came home we sought out Uncle Blair in the
orchard. He was sauntering up and down Uncle Stephen's Walk, his
hands clasped behind him and his beautiful, youthful face uplifted
to the western sky where waves of night were breaking on a dim
primrose shore of sunset.
"See that star over there in the south-west?" he said, as we
joined him. "The one just above that pine? An evening star
shining over a dark pine tree is the whitest thing in the
universe--because it is LIVING whiteness--whiteness possessing a
soul. How full this old orchard is of twilight! Do you know, I
have been trysting here with ghosts."
"The Family Ghost?" I asked, very stupidly.
"No, not the Family Ghost. I never saw beautiful, broken-hearted
Emily yet. Your mother saw her once, Sara--that was a strange
thing," he added absently, as if to himself.
"Did mother really see her?" whispered the Story Girl.
"Well, she always believed she did. Who knows?"
"Do you think there are such things as ghosts, Uncle Blair?"
I asked curiously.
"I never saw any, Beverley."
"But you said you were trysting with ghosts here this evening,"
said the Story Girl.
"Oh, yes--the ghosts of the old years. I love this orchard
because of its many ghosts. We are good comrades, those ghosts
and I; we walk and talk--we even laugh together--sorrowful
laughter that has sorrow's own sweetness. And always there comes
to me one dear phantom and wanders hand in hand with me--a lost
lady of the old years."
"My mother?" said the Story Girl very softly.
"Yes, your mother. Here, in her old haunts, it is impossible for
me to believe that she can be dead--that her LAUGHTER can be dead.
She was the gayest, sweetest thing--and so young--only three years
older than you, Sara. Yonder old house had been glad because of
her for eighteen years when I met her first."
"I wish I could remember her," said the Story Girl, with a little
sigh. "I haven't even a picture of her. Why didn't you paint
"She would never let me. She had some queer, funny, half-playful,
half-earnest superstition about it. But I always meant to when
she would become willing to let me. And then--she died. Her twin
brother Felix died the same day. There was something strange
about that, too. I was holding her in my arms and she was looking
up at me; suddenly she looked past me and gave a little start.
'Felix!' she said. For a moment she trembled and then she smiled
and looked up at me again a little beseechingly. 'Felix has come
for me, dear,' she said. 'We were always together before you
came--you must not mind--you must be glad I do not have to go
alone.' Well, who knows? But she left me, Sara--she left me."
There was that in Uncle Blair's voice that kept us silent for a
time. Then the Story Girl said, still very softly:
"What did mother look like, father? I don't look the least little
bit like her, do I?"
"No, I wish you did, you brown thing. Your mother's face was as
white as a wood-lily, with only a faint dream of rose in her
cheeks. She had the eyes of one who always had a song in her
heart--blue as a mist, those eyes were. She had dark lashes, and
a little red mouth that quivered when she was very sad or very
happy like a crimson rose too rudely shaken by the wind. She was
as slim and lithe as a young, white-stemmed birch tree. How I
loved her! How happy we were! But he who accepts human love must
bind it to his soul with pain, and she is not lost to me. Nothing
is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it."
Uncle Blair looked up at the evening star. We saw that he had
forgotten us, and we slipped away, hand in hand, leaving him alone
in the memory-haunted shadows of the old orchard.
THE PATH TO ARCADY
October that year gathered up all the spilled sunshine of the
summer and clad herself in it as in a garment. The Story Girl had
asked us to try to make the last month together beautiful, and
Nature seconded our efforts, giving us that most beautiful of
beautiful things--a gracious and perfect moon of falling leaves.
There was not in all that vanished October one day that did not
come in with auroral splendour and go out attended by a fair
galaxy of evening stars--not a day when there were not golden
lights in the wide pastures and purple hazes in the ripened
distances. Never was anything so gorgeous as the maple trees that
year. Maples are trees that have primeval fire in their souls.
It glows out a little in their early youth, before the leaves
open, in the redness and rosy-yellowness of their blossoms, but in
summer it is carefully hidden under a demure, silver-lined
greenness. Then when autumn comes, the maples give up trying to
be sober and flame out in all the barbaric splendour and
gorgeousness of their real nature, making of the hills things out
of an Arabian Nights dream in the golden prime of good Haroun
You may never know what scarlet and crimson really are until you
see them in their perfection on an October hillside, under the
unfathomable blue of an autumn sky. All the glow and radiance and
joy at earth's heart seem to have broken loose in a splendid
determination to express itself for once before the frost of
winter chills her beating pulses. It is the year's carnival ere
the dull Lenten days of leafless valleys and penitential mists
The time of apple-picking had come around once more and we worked
joyously. Uncle Blair picked apples with us, and between him and
the Story Girl it was an October never to be forgotten.
"Will you go far afield for a walk with me to-day?" he said to her
and me, one idle afternoon of opal skies, pied meadows and misty hills.
It was Saturday and Peter had gone home; Felix and Dan were
helping Uncle Alec top turnips; Cecily and Felicity were making
cookies for Sunday, so the Story Girl and I were alone in Uncle
We liked to be alone together that last month, to think the long,
long thoughts of youth and talk about our futures. There had
grown up between us that summer a bond of sympathy that did not
exist between us and the others. We were older than they--the
Story Girl was fifteen and I was nearly that; and all at once it
seemed as if we were immeasurably older than the rest, and
possessed of dreams and visions and forward-reaching hopes which
they could not possibly share or understand. At times we were
still children, still interested in childish things. But there
came hours when we seemed to our two selves very grown up and old,
and in those hours we talked our dreams and visions and hopes,
vague and splendid, as all such are, over together, and so began
to build up, out of the rainbow fragments of our childhood's
companionship, that rare and beautiful friendship which was to
last all our lives, enriching and enstarring them. For there is
no bond more lasting than that formed by the mutual confidences of
that magic time when youth is slipping from the sheath of
childhood and beginning to wonder what lies for it beyond those
misty hills that bound the golden road.
"Where are you going?" asked the Story Girl.
"To 'the woods that belt the gray hillside'--ay, and overflow
beyond it into many a valley purple-folded in immemorial peace,"
answered Uncle Blair. "I have a fancy for one more ramble in
Prince Edward Island woods before I leave Canada again. But I
would not go alone. So come, you two gay youthful things to whom
all life is yet fair and good, and we will seek the path to
Arcady. There will be many little things along our way to make us
glad. Joyful sounds will 'come ringing down the wind;' a wealth
of gypsy gold will be ours for the gathering; we will learn the
potent, unutterable charm of a dim spruce wood and the grace of
flexile mountain ashes fringing a lonely glen; we will tryst with
the folk of fur and feather; we'll hearken to the music of gray
old firs. Come, and you'll have a ramble and an afternoon that
you will both remember all your lives."
We did have it; never has its remembrance faded; that idyllic
afternoon of roving in the old Carlisle woods with the Story Girl
and Uncle Blair gleams in my book of years, a page of living
beauty. Yet it was but a few hours of simplest pleasure; we
wandered pathlessly through the sylvan calm of those dear places
which seemed that day to be full of a great friendliness; Uncle
Blair sauntered along behind us, whistling softly; sometimes he
talked to himself; we delighted in those brief reveries of his;
Uncle Blair was the only man I have ever known who could, when he
so willed, "talk like a book," and do it without seeming
ridiculous; perhaps it was because he had the knack of choosing
"fit audience, though few," and the proper time to appeal to that
We went across the fields, intending to skirt the woods at the
back of Uncle Alec's farm and find a lane that cut through Uncle
Roger's woods; but before we came to it we stumbled on a sly,
winding little path quite by accident--if, indeed, there can be
such a thing as accident in the woods, where I am tempted to think
we are led by the Good People along such of their fairy ways as
they have a mind for us to walk in.
"Go to, let us explore this," said Uncle Blair. "It always drags
terribly at my heart to go past a wood lane if I can make any
excuse at all for traversing it: for it is the by-ways that lead
to the heart of the woods and we must follow them if we would know
the forest and be known of it. When we can really feel its wild
heart beating against ours its subtle life will steal into our
veins and make us its own for ever, so that no matter where we go
or how wide we wander in the noisy ways of cities or over the lone
ways of the sea, we shall yet be drawn back to the forest to find
our most enduring kinship."
"I always feel so SATISFIED in the woods," said the Story Girl
dreamily, as we turned in under the low-swinging fir boughs.
"Trees seem such friendly things."
"They are the most friendly things in God's good creation," said
Uncle Blair emphatically. "And it is so easy to live with them.
To hold converse with pines, to whisper secrets with the poplars,
to listen to the tales of old romance that beeches have to tell,
to walk in eloquent silence with self-contained firs, is to learn
what real companionship is. Besides, trees are the same all over
the world. A beech tree on the slopes of the Pyrenees is just
what a beech tree here in these Carlisle woods is; and there used
to be an old pine hereabouts whose twin brother I was well
acquainted with in a dell among the Apennines. Listen to those
squirrels, will you, chattering over yonder. Did you ever hear
such a fuss over nothing? Squirrels are the gossips and busybodies
of the woods; they haven't learned the fine reserve of its other
denizens. But after all, there is a certain shrill friendliness
in their greeting."
"They seem to be scolding us," I said, laughing.
"Oh, they are not half such scolds as they sound," answered Uncle
Blair gaily. "If they would but 'tak a thought and mend ' their
shrew-like ways they would be dear, lovable creatures enough."
"If I had to be an animal I think I'd like to be a squirrel," said
the Story Girl. "It must be next best thing to flying."
"Just see what a spring that fellow gave," laughed Uncle Blair.
"And now listen to his song of triumph! I suppose that chasm he
cleared seemed as wide and deep to him as Niagara Gorge would to
us if we leaped over it. Well, the wood people are a happy folk
and very well satisfied with themselves."
Those who have followed a dim, winding, balsamic path to the
unexpected hollow where a wood-spring lies have found the rarest
secret the forest can reveal. Such was our good fortune that day.
At the end of our path we found it, under the pines, a crystal-
clear thing with lips unkissed by so much as a stray sunbeam.
"It is easy to dream that this is one of the haunted springs of
old romance," said Uncle Blair. "'Tis an enchanted spot this, I
am very sure, and we should go softly, speaking low, lest we
disturb the rest of a white, wet naiad, or break some spell that
has cost long years of mystic weaving."
"It's so easy to believe things in the woods," said the Story
Girl, shaping a cup from a bit of golden-brown birch bark and
filling it at the spring.
"Drink a toast in that water, Sara," said Uncle Blair. "There's
not a doubt that it has some potent quality of magic in it and the
wish you wish over it will come true."
The Story Girl lifted her golden-hued flagon to her red lips. Her
hazel eyes laughed at us over the brim.
"Here's to our futures," she cried, "I wish that every day of our
lives may be better than the one that went before."
"An extravagant wish--a very wish of youth," commented Uncle
Blair, "and yet in spite of its extravagance, a wish that will
come true if you are true to yourselves. In that case, every day
WILL be better than all that went before--but there will be many
days, dear lad and lass, when you will not believe it."
We did not understand him, but we knew Uncle Blair never explained
his meaning. When asked it he was wont to answer with a smile,
"Some day you'll grow to it. Wait for that." So we addressed
ourselves to follow the brook that stole away from the spring in
its windings and doublings and tricky surprises.
"A brook," quoth Uncle Blair, "is the most changeful, bewitching,
lovable thing in the world. It is never in the same mind or mood
two minutes. Here it is sighing and murmuring as if its heart
were broken. But listen--yonder by the birches it is laughing as
if it were enjoying some capital joke all by itself."
It was indeed a changeful brook; here it would make a pool, dark
and brooding and still, where we bent to look at our mirrored
faces; then it grew communicative and gossiped shallowly over a
broken pebble bed where there was a diamond dance of sunbeams and
no troutling or minnow could glide through without being seen.
Sometimes its banks were high and steep, hung with slender ashes
and birches; again they were mere, low margins, green with
delicate mosses, shelving out of the wood. Once it came to a
little precipice and flung itself over undauntedly in an
indignation of foam, gathering itself up rather dizzily among the
mossy stones below. It was some time before it got over its
vexation; it went boiling and muttering along, fighting with the
rotten logs that lie across it, and making far more fuss than was
necessary over every root that interfered with it. We were
getting tired of its ill-humour and talked of leaving it, when it
suddenly grew sweet-tempered again, swooped around a curve--and
presto, we were in fairyland.
It was a little dell far in the heart of the woods. A row of
birches fringed the brook, and each birch seemed more exquisitely
graceful and golden than her sisters. The woods receded from it
on every hand, leaving it lying in a pool of amber sunshine. The
yellow trees were mirrored in the placid stream, with now and then
a leaf falling on the water, mayhap to drift away and be used, as
Uncle Blair suggested, by some adventurous wood sprite who had it
in mind to fare forth to some far-off, legendary region where all
the brooks ran into the sea.
"Oh, what a lovely place!" I exclaimed, looking around me with delight.
"A spell of eternity is woven over it, surely," murmured Uncle
Blair. "Winter may not touch it, or spring ever revisit it. It
should be like this for ever."
"Let us never come here again," said the Story Girl softly,
"never, no matter how often we may be in Carlisle. Then we will
never see it changed or different. We can always remember it just
as we see it now, and it will be like this for ever for us."
"I'm going to sketch it," said Uncle Blair.
While he sketched it the Story Girl and I sat on the banks of the
brook and she told me the story of the Sighing Reed. It was a
very simple little story, that of the slender brown reed which
grew by the forest pool and always was sad and sighing because it
could not utter music like the brook and the birds and the winds.
All the bright, beautiful things around it mocked it and laughed
at it for its folly. Who would ever look for music in it, a
plain, brown, unbeautiful thing? But one day a youth came through
the wood; he was as beautiful as the spring; he cut the brown reed
and fashioned it according to his liking; and then he put it to
his lips and breathed on it; and, oh, the music that floated
through the forest! It was so entrancing that everything--brooks
and birds and winds--grew silent to listen to it. Never had
anything so lovely been heard; it was the music that had for so
long been shut up in the soul of the sighing reed and was set free
at last through its pain and suffering.
I had heard the Story Girl tell many a more dramatic tale; but
that one stands out for me in memory above them all, partly,
perhaps, because of the spot in which she told it, partly because
it was the last one I was to hear her tell for many years--the
last one she was ever to tell me on the golden road.
When Uncle Blair had finished his sketch the shafts of sunshine
were turning crimson and growing more and more remote; the early
autumn twilight was falling over the woods. We left our dell,
saying good-bye to it for ever, as the Story Girl had suggested,
and we went slowly homeward through the fir woods, where a
haunting, indescribable odour stole out to meet us.
"There is magic in the scent of dying fir," Uncle Blair was saying
aloud to himself, as if forgetting he was not quite alone. "It
gets into our blood like some rare, subtly-compounded wine, and
thrills us with unutterable sweetnesses, as of recollections from
some other fairer life, lived in some happier star. Compared to
it, all other scents seem heavy and earth-born, luring to the
valleys instead of the heights. But the tang of the fir summons
onward and upward to some 'far-off, divine event'--some spiritual
peak of attainment whence we shall see with unfaltering, unclouded
vision the spires of some aerial City Beautiful, or the fulfilment
of some fair, fadeless land of promise."
He was silent for a moment, then added in a lower tone,
"Felicity, you loved the scent of dying fir. If you were here
tonight with me--Felicity--Felicity!"
Something in his voice made me suddenly sad. I was comforted when
I felt the Story Girl slip her hand into mine. So we walked out
of the woods into the autumn dusk.
We were in a little valley. Half-way up the opposite slope a
brush fire was burning clearly and steadily in a maple grove.
There was something indescribably alluring in that fire, glowing
so redly against the dark background of forest and twilit hill.
"Let us go to it," cried Uncle Blair, gaily, casting aside his
sorrowful mood and catching our hands. "A wood fire at night has
a fascination not to be resisted by those of mortal race. Hasten--
we must not lose time."
"Oh, it will burn a long time yet," I gasped, for Uncle Blair was
whisking us up the hill at a merciless rate.
"You can't be sure. It may have been lighted by some good, honest
farmer-man, bent on tidying up his sugar orchard, but it may also,
for anything we know, have been kindled by no earthly woodman as a
beacon or summons to the tribes of fairyland, and may vanish away
if we tarry."
It did not vanish and presently we found ourselves in the grove.
It was very beautiful; the fire burned with a clear, steady glow
and a soft crackle; the long arcades beneath the trees were
illuminated with a rosy radiance, beyond which lurked companies of
gray and purple shadows. Everything was very still and dreamy and
"It is impossible that out there, just over the hill, lies a
village of men, where tame household lamps are shining," said
"I feel as if we must be thousands of miles away from everything
we've ever known," murmured the Story Girl.
"So you are!" said Uncle Blair emphatically. "You're back in the
youth of the race--back in the beguilement of the young world.
Everything is in this hour--the beauty of classic myths, the
primal charm of the silent and the open, the lure of mystery.
Why, it's a time and place when and where everything might come
true--when the men in green might creep out to join hands and
dance around the fire, or dryads steal from their trees to warm
their white limbs, grown chilly in October frosts, by the blaze.
I wouldn't be much surprised if we should see something of the
kind. Isn't that the flash of an ivory shoulder through yonder
gloom? And didn't you see a queer little elfin face peering at us
around that twisted gray trunk? But one can't be sure. Mortal
eyesight is too slow and clumsy a thing to match against the
flicker of a pixy-litten fire."
Hand in hand we wandered through that enchanted place, seeking the
folk of elf-land, "and heard their mystic voices calling, from
fairy knoll and haunted hill." Not till the fire died down into
ashes did we leave the grove. Then we found that the full moon
was gleaming lustrously from a cloudless sky across the valley.
Between us and her stretched up a tall pine, wondrously straight
and slender and branchless to its very top, where it overflowed in
a crest of dark boughs against the silvery splendour behind it.
Beyond, the hill farms were lying in a suave, white radiance.
"Doesn't it seem a long, long time to you since we left home this
afternoon?" asked the Story Girl. "And yet it is only a few hours."
Only a few hours--true; yet such hours were worth a cycle of
common years untouched by the glory and the dream.
WE LOSE A FRIEND
Our beautiful October was marred by one day of black tragedy--the
day Paddy died. For Paddy, after seven years of as happy a life
as ever a cat lived, died suddenly--of poison, as was supposed.
Where he had wandered in the darkness to meet his doom we did not
know, but in the frosty dawnlight he dragged himself home to die.
We found him lying on the doorstep when we got up, and it did not
need Aunt Janet's curt announcement, or Uncle Blair's reluctant
shake of the head, to tell us that there was no chance of our pet
recovering this time. We felt that nothing could be done. Lard
and sulphur on his paws would be of no use, nor would any visit to
Peg Bowen avail. We stood around in mournful silence; the Story
Girl sat down on the step and took poor Paddy upon her lap.
"I s'pose there's no use even in praying now," said Cecily
"It wouldn't do any harm to try," sobbed Felicity.
"You needn't waste your prayers," said Dan mournfully, "Pat is
beyond human aid. You can tell that by his eyes. Besides, I
don't believe it was the praying cured him last time."
"No, it was Peg Bowen," declared Peter, "but she couldn't have
bewitched him this time for she's been away for months, nobody
"If he could only TELL us where he feels the worst!" said Cecily
piteously. "It's so dreadful to see him suffering and not be able
to do a single thing to help him!"
"I don't think he's suffering much now," I said comfortingly.
The Story Girl said nothing. She passed and repassed her long
brown hand gently over her pet's glossy fur. Pat lifted his head
and essayed to creep a little nearer to his beloved mistress. The
Story Girl drew his limp body close in her arms. There was a
plaintive little mew--a long quiver--and Paddy's friendly soul had
fared forth to wherever it is that good cats go.
"Well, he's gone," said Dan, turning his back abruptly to us.
"It doesn't seem as if it can be true," sobbed Cecily. "This time
yesterday morning he was full of life."
"He drank two full saucers of cream," moaned Felicity, "and I saw
him catch a mouse in the evening. Maybe it was the last one he
"He did for many a mouse in his day," said Peter, anxious to pay
his tribute to the departed.
"'He was a cat--take him for all in all. We shall not look upon
his like again,'" quoted Uncle Blair.
Felicity and Cecily and Sara Ray cried so much that Aunt Janet
lost patience completely and told them sharply that they would
have something to cry for some day--which did not seem to comfort
them much. The Story Girl shed no tears, though the look in her
eyes hurt more than weeping.
"After all, perhaps it's for the best," she said drearily. "I've
been feeling so badly over having to go away and leave Paddy. No
matter how kind you'd all be to him I know he'd miss me terribly.
He wasn't like most cats who don't care who comes and goes as long
as they get plenty to eat. Paddy wouldn't have been contented
"Oh, no-o-o, oh, no-o-o," wailed Sara Ray lugubriously.
Felix shot a disgusted glance at her.
"I don't see what YOU are making such a fuss about," he said
unfeelingly. "He wasn't your cat."
"But I l-l-oved him," sobbed Sara, "and I always feel bad when my
"I wish we could believe that cats went to heaven, like people,"
sighed Cecily. "Do you really think it isn't possible?"
Uncle Blair shook his head.
"I'm afraid not. I'd like to think cats have a chance for heaven,
but I can't. There's nothing heavenly about cats, delightful
creatures though they are."
"Blair, I'm really surprised to hear the things you say to the
children," said Aunt Janet severely.
"Surely you wouldn't prefer me to tell them that cats DO go to
heaven," protested Uncle Blair.
"I think it's wicked to carry on about an animal as those children
do," answered Aunt Janet decidedly, "and you shouldn't encourage
them. Here now, children, stop making a fuss. Bury that cat and
get off to your apple picking."
We had to go to our work, but Paddy was not to be buried in any
such off-hand fashion as that. It was agreed that we should bury
him in the orchard at sunset that evening, and Sara Ray, who had
to go home, declared she would be back for it, and implored us to
wait for her if she didn't come exactly on time.
"I mayn't be able to get away till after milking," she sniffed,
"but I don't want to miss it. Even a cat's funeral is better than
none at all."
"Horrid thing!" said Felicity, barely waiting until Sara was
out of earshot.
We worked with heavy hearts that day; the girls cried bitterly
most of the time and we boys whistled defiantly. But as evening
drew on we began to feel a sneaking interest in the details of the
funeral. As Dan said, the thing should be done properly, since
Paddy was no common cat. The Story Girl selected the spot for the
grave, in a little corner behind the cherry copse, where early
violets enskied the grass in spring, and we boys dug the grave,
making it "soft and narrow," as the heroine of the old ballad
wanted hers made. Sara Ray, who managed to come in time after
all, and Felicity stood and watched us, but Cecily and the Story
Girl kept far aloof.
"This time last night you never thought you'd be digging Pat's
grave to-night," sighed Felicity.
"We little k-know what a day will bring forth," sobbed Sara.
"I've heard the minister say that and it is true."
"Of course it's true. It's in the Bible; but I don't think you
should repeat it in connection with a cat," said Felicity
When all was in readiness the Story Girl brought her pet through
the orchard where he had so often frisked and prowled. No useless
coffin enclosed his breast but he reposed in a neat cardboard box.
"I wonder if it would be right to say 'ashes to ashes and dust to
dust,'" said Peter.
"No, it wouldn't," averred Felicity. "It would be real wicked."
"I think we ought to sing a hymn, anyway," asseverated Sara Ray.
"Well, we might do that, if it isn't a very religious one,"
"How would 'Pull for the shore, sailor, pull for the shore,' do?"
asked Cecily. "That never seemed to me a very religious hymn."
"But it doesn't seem very appropriate to a funeral occasion
either," said Felicity.
"I think 'Lead, kindly light,' would be ever so much more
suitable," suggested Sara Ray, "and it is kind of soothing and
"We are not going to sing anything," said the Story Girl coldly.
"Do you want to make the affair ridiculous? We will just fill up
the grave quietly and put a flat stone over the top."
"It isn't much like my idea of a funeral," muttered Sara Ray
"Never mind, we're going to have a real obituary about him in Our
Magazine," whispered Cecily consolingly.
"And Peter is going to cut his name on top of the stone," added
Felicity. "Only we mustn't let on to the grown-ups until it is
done, because they might say it wasn't right."
We left the orchard, a sober little band, with the wind of the
gray twilight blowing round us. Uncle Roger passed us at the
"So the last sad obsequies are over?" he remarked with a grin.
And we hated Uncle Roger. But we loved Uncle Blair because he
"And so you've buried your little comrade?"
So much may depend on the way a thing is said. But not even Uncle
Blair's sympathy could take the sting out of the fact that there
was no Paddy to get the froth that night at milking time.
Felicity cried bitterly all the time she was straining the milk.
Many human beings have gone to their graves unattended by as much
real regret as followed that one gray pussy cat to his.
"Here's a letter for you from father," said Felix, tossing it to
me as he came through the orchard gate. We had been picking
apples all day, but were taking a mid-afternoon rest around the
well, with a cup of its sparkling cold water to refresh us.
I opened the letter rather indifferently, for father, with all his
excellent and lovable traits, was but a poor correspondent; his
letters were usually very brief and very unimportant.
This letter was brief enough, but it was freighted with a message
of weighty import. I sat gazing stupidly at the sheet after I had
read it until Felix exclaimed,
"Bev, what's the matter with you? What's in that letter?"
"Father is coming home," I said dazedly. "He is to leave South
America in a fortnight and will be here in November to take us
back to Toronto."
Everybody gasped. Sara Ray, of course, began to cry, which
aggravated me unreasonably.
"Well," said Felix, when he got his second wind, "I'll be awful
glad to see father again, but I tell you I don't like the thought
of leaving here."
I felt exactly the same but, in view of Sara Ray's tears, admit it
I would not; so I sat in grum silence while the other tongues
"If I were not going away myself I'd feel just terrible," said the
Story Girl. "Even as it is I'm real sorry. I'd like to be able
to think of you as all here together when I'm gone, having good
times and writing me about them."
"It'll be awfully dull when you fellows go," muttered Dan.
"I'm sure I don't know what we're ever going to do here this
winter," said Felicity, with the calmness of despair.
"Thank goodness there are no more fathers to come back," breathed
Cecily with a vicious earnestness that made us all laugh, even in
the midst of our dismay.
We worked very half-heartedly the rest of the day, and it was not
until we assembled in the orchard in the evening that our spirits
recovered something like their wonted level. It was clear and
slightly frosty; the sun had declined behind a birch on a distant
hill and it seemed a tree with a blazing heart of fire. The great
golden willow at the lane gate was laughter-shaken in the wind of
evening. Even amid all the changes of our shifting world we could
not be hopelessly low-spirited--except Sara Ray, who was often so,
and Peter, who was rarely so. But Peter had been sorely vexed in
spirit for several days. The time was approaching for the October
issue of Our Magazine and he had no genuine fiction ready for it.
He had taken so much to heart Felicity's taunt that his stories
were all true that he had determined to have a really-truly false
one in the next number. But the difficulty was to get anyone to
write it. He had asked the Story Girl to do it, but she refused;
then he appealed to me and I shirked. Finally Peter determined to
write a story himself.
"It oughtn't to be any harder than writing a poem and I managed
that," he said dolefully.
He worked at it in the evenings in the granary loft, and the rest
of us forebore to question him concerning it, because he evidently
disliked talking about his literary efforts. But this evening I
had to ask him if he would soon have it ready, as I wanted to make
up the paper.
"It's done," said Peter, with an air of gloomy triumph. "It don't
amount to much, but anyhow I made it all out of my own head. Not
one word of it was ever printed or told before, and nobody can say
"Then I guess we have all the stuff in and I'll have Our Magazine
ready to read by tomorrow night," I said.
"I s'pose it will be the last one we'll have," sighed Cecily. "We
can't carry it on after you all go, and it has been such fun."
"Bev will be a real newspaper editor some day," declared the Story
Girl, on whom the spirit of prophecy suddenly descended that
She was swinging on the bough of an apple tree, with a crimson
shawl wrapped about her head, and her eyes were bright with
"How do you know he will?" asked Felicity.
"Oh, I can tell futures," answered the Story Girl mysteriously.
"I know what's going to happen to all of you. Shall I tell you?"
"Do, just for the fun of it," I said. "Then some day we'll know
just how near you came to guessing right. Go on. What else about me?"
"You'll write books, too, and travel all over the world,"
continued the Story Girl. "Felix will be fat to the end of his
life, and he will be a grandfather before he is fifty, and he will
wear a long black beard."
"I won't," cried Felix disgustedly. "I hate whiskers. Maybe I
can't help the grandfather part, but I CAN help having a beard."
"You can't. It's written in the stars."
"'Tain't. The stars can't prevent me from shaving."
"Won't Grandpa Felix sound awful funny?" reflected Felicity.
"Peter will be a minister," went on the Story Girl.
"Well, I might be something worse," remarked Peter, in a not
"Dan will be a farmer and will marry a girl whose name begins with
K and he will have eleven children. And he'll vote Grit."
"I won't," cried scandalized Dan. "You don't know a thing about
it. Catch ME ever voting Grit! As for the rest of it--I don't
care. Farming's well enough, though I'd rather be a sailor."
"Don't talk such nonsense," protested Felicity sharply. "What on
earth do you want to be a sailor for and be drowned?"
"All sailors aren't drowned," said Dan.
"Most of them are. Look at Uncle Stephen."
"You ain't sure he was drowned."
"Well, he disappeared, and that is worse."
"How do you know? Disappearing might be real easy."
"It's not very easy for your family."
"Hush, let's hear the rest of the predictions," said Cecily.
"Felicity," resumed the Story Girl gravely, "will marry a
Sara Ray giggled and Felicity blushed. Peter tried hard not to
look too self-consciously delighted.
"She will be a perfect housekeeper and will teach a Sunday School
class and be very happy all her life."
"Will her husband be happy?" queried Dan solemnly.
"I guess he'll be as happy as your wife," retorted Felicity
"He'll be the happiest man in the world," declared Peter warmly.
"What about me?" asked Sara Ray.
The Story Girl looked rather puzzled. It was so hard to imagine
Sara Ray as having any kind of future. Yet Sara was plainly
anxious to have her fortune told and must be gratified.
"You'll be married," said the Story Girl recklessly, "and you'll
live to be nearly a hundred years old, and go to dozens of
funerals and have a great many sick spells. You will learn not to
cry after you are seventy; but your husband will never go to
"I'm glad you warned me," said Sara Ray solemnly, "because now I
know I'll make him promise before I marry him that he will go."
"He won't keep the promise," said the Story Girl, shaking her
head. "But it is getting cold and Cecily is coughing. Let us go
"You haven't told my fortune," protested Cecily disappointedly.
The Story Girl looked very tenderly at Cecily--at the smooth
little brown head, at the soft, shining eyes, at the cheeks that
were often over-rosy after slight exertion, at the little
sunburned hands that were always busy doing faithful work or quiet
kindnesses. A very strange look came over the Story Girl's face;
her eyes grew sad and far-reaching, as if of a verity they pierced
beyond the mists of hidden years.
"I couldn't tell any fortune half good enough for you, dearest,"
she said, slipping her arm round Cecily. "You deserve everything
good and lovely. But you know I've only been in fun--of course I
don't know anything about what's going to happen to us."
"Perhaps you know more than you think for," said Sara Ray, who
seemed much pleased with her fortune and anxious to believe it,
despite the husband who wouldn't go to church.
"But I'd like to be told my fortune, even in fun," persisted
"Everybody you meet will love you as long as you live." said the
Story Girl. "There that's the very nicest fortune I can tell you,
and it will come true whether the others do or not, and now we
must go in."
We went, Cecily still a little disappointed. In later years I
often wondered why the Story Girl refused to tell her fortune that
night. Did some strange gleam of foreknowledge fall for a moment
across her mirth-making? Did she realize in a flash of prescience
that there was no earthly future for our sweet Cecily? Not for her
were to be the lengthening shadows or the fading garland. The end
was to come while the rainbow still sparkled on her wine of life,
ere a single petal had fallen from her rose of joy. Long life was
before all the others who trysted that night in the old homestead
orchard; but Cecily's maiden feet were never to leave the golden
THE LAST NUMBER OF OUR MAGAZINE
It is with heartfelt regret that we take up our pen to announce
that this will be the last number of Our Magazine. We have edited
ten numbers of it and it has been successful beyond our
expectations. It has to be discontinued by reason of
circumstances over which we have no control and not because we
have lost interest in it. Everybody has done his or her best for
Our Magazine. Prince Edward Island expected everyone to do his
and her duty and everyone did it.
Mr. Dan King conducted the etiquette department in a way worthy of
the Family Guide itself. He is especially entitled to
commendation because he laboured under the disadvantage of having
to furnish most of the questions as well as the answers. Miss
Felicity King has edited our helpful household department very
ably, and Miss Cecily King's fashion notes were always up to date.
The personal column was well looked after by Miss Sara Stanley and
the story page has been a marked success under the able management
of Mr. Peter Craig, to whose original story in this issue, "The
Battle of the Partridge Eggs," we would call especial attention.
The Exciting Adventure series has also been very popular.
And now, in closing, we bid farewell to our staff and thank them
one and all for their help and co-operation in the past year. We
have enjoyed our work and we trust that they have too. We wish
them all happiness and success in years to come, and we hope that
the recollection of Our Magazine will not be held least dear among
the memories of their childhood.
(SOBS FROM THE GIRLS): "INDEED IT WON'T!"
On October eighteenth, Patrick Grayfur departed for that bourne
whence no traveller returns. He was only a cat, but he had been
our faithful friend for a long time and we aren't ashamed to be
sorry for him. There are lots of people who are not as friendly
and gentlemanly as Paddy was, and he was a great mouser. We
buried all that was mortal of poor Pat in the orchard and we are
never going to forget him. We have resolved that whenever the
date of his death comes round we'll bow our heads and pronounce
his name at the hour of his funeral. If we are anywhere where we
can't say the name out loud we'll whisper it.
"Farewell, dearest Paddy, in all the years that are to be
We'll cherish your memory faithfully."
 The obituary was written by Mr. Felix King, but the two lines
of poetry were composed by Miss Sara Ray.
MY MOST EXCITING ADVENTURE
My most exciting adventure was the day I fell off Uncle Roger's
loft two years ago. I wasn't excited until it was all over
because I hadn't time to be. The Story Girl and I were looking
for eggs in the loft. It was filled with wheat straw nearly to
the roof and it was an awful distance from us to the floor. And
wheat straw is so slippery. I made a little spring and the straw
slipped from under my feet and there I was going head first down
from the loft. It seemed to me I was an awful long time falling,
but the Story Girl says I couldn't have been more than three
seconds. But I know that I thought five thoughts and there seemed
to be quite a long time between them. The first thing I thought
was, what has happened, because I really didn't know at first, it
was so sudden. Then after a spell I thought the answer, I am
falling off the loft. And then I thought, what will happen to me
when I strike the floor, and after another little spell I thought,
I'll be killed. And then I thought, well, I don't care. I really
wasn't a bit frightened. I just was quite willing to be killed.
If there hadn't been a big pile of chaff on the barn floor these
words would never have been written. But there was and I fell on
it and wasn't a bit hurt, only my hair and mouth and eyes and ears
got all full of chaff. The strange part is that I wasn't a bit
frightened when I thought I was going to be killed, but after all
the danger was over I was awfully frightened and trembled so the
Story Girl had to help me into the house.
THE BATTLE OF THE PARTRIDGE EGGS
Once upon a time there lived about half a mile from a forrest a
farmer and his wife and his sons and daughters and a
granddaughter. The farmer and his wife loved this little girl
very much but she caused them great trouble by running away into
the woods and they often spent haf days looking for her. One day
she wondered further into the forrest than usual and she begun to
be hungry. Then night closed in. She asked a fox where she could
get something to eat. The fox told her he knew where there was a
partridges nest and a bluejays nest full of eggs. So he led her
to the nests and she took five eggs out of each. When the birds
came home they missed the eggs and flew into a rage. The bluejay
put on his topcoat and was going to the partridge for law when he
met the partridge coming to him. They lit up a fire and commenced
sining their deeds when they heard a tremendous howl close behind
them. They jumped up and put out the fire and were immejutly
attacked by five great wolves. The next day the little girl was
rambelling through the woods when they saw her and took her
prisoner. After she had confessed that she had stole the eggs
they told her to raise an army. They would have to fight over the
nests of eggs and whoever one would have the eggs. So the
partridge raised a great army of all kinds of birds except robins
and the little girl got all the robins and foxes and bees and
wasps. And best of all the little girl had a gun and plenty of
ammunishun. The leader of her army was a wolf. The result of the
battle was that all the birds were killed except the partridge and
the bluejay and they were taken prisoner and starved to death.
The little girl was then taken prisoner by a witch and cast into a
dunjun full of snakes where she died from their bites and people
who went through the forrest after that were taken prisoner by her
ghost and cast into the same dunjun where they died. About a year
after the wood turned into a gold castle and one morning
everything had vanished except a piece of a tree.
(DAN, WITH A WHISTLE:--"Well, I guess nobody can say Peter can't
write fiction after THAT."
SARA RAY, WIPING AWAY HER TEARS:--"It's a very interesting story,
but it ends SO sadly."
FELIX:--"What made you call it The Battle of the Partridge Eggs
when the bluejay had just as much to do with it?"
PETER, SHORTLY:--"Because it sounded better that way."
FELICITY:--"Did she eat the eggs raw?"
SARA RAY:--"Poor little thing, I suppose if you're starving you
can't be very particular."
CECILY, SIGHING:--"I wish you'd let her go home safe, Peter, and
not put her to such a cruel death."
BEVERLEY:--"I don't quite understand where the little girl got her
gun and ammunition."
PETER, SUSPECTING THAT HE IS BEING MADE FUN OF:--"If you could
write a better story, why didn't you? I give you the chance."
THE STORY GIRL, WITH A PRETERNATURALLY SOLEMN FACE:--"You
shouldn't criticize Peter's story like that. It's a fairy tale,
you know, and anything can happen in a fairy tale."
FELICITY:--"There isn't a word about fairies in it!"
CECILY:--"Besides, fairy tales always end nicely and this
PETER, SULKILY:--"I wanted to punish her for running away from
DAN:--"Well, I guess you did it all right."
CECILY:--"Oh, well, it was very interesting, and that is all that
is really necessary in a story." )
Mr. Blair Stanley is visiting friends and relatives in Carlisle.
He intends returning to Europe shortly. His daughter, Miss Sara,
will accompany him.
Mr. Alan King is expected home from South America next month. His
sons will return with him to Toronto. Beverley and Felix have
made hosts of friends during their stay in Carlisle and will be
much missed in social circles.
The Mission Band of Carlisle Presbyterian Church completed their
missionary quilt last week. Miss Cecily King collected the
largest sum on her square. Congratulations, Cecily.
Mr. Peter Craig will be residing in Markdale after October and
will attend school there this winter. Peter is a good fellow and
we all wish him success and prosperity.
Apple picking is almost ended. There was an unusually heavy crop
this year. Potatoes, not so good.
Apple pies are the order of the day.
Eggs are a very good price now. Uncle Roger says it isn't fair to
have to pay as much for a dozen little eggs as a dozen big ones,
but they go just as far.
F-l-t-y. Is it considered good form to eat peppermints in church?
Ans.; No, not if a witch gives them to you.
No, F-l-x, we would not call Treasure Island or the Pilgrim's
Progress dime novels.
Yes, P-t-r, when you call on a young lady and her mother offers
you a slice of bread and jam it is quite polite for you to accept
Necklaces of roseberries are very much worn now.
It is considered smart to wear your school hat tilted over your
Bangs are coming in. Em Frewen has them. She went to Summerside
for a visit and came back with them. All the girls in school are
going to bang their hair as soon as their mothers will let them.
But I do not intend to bang mine.
(SARA RAY, DESPAIRINGLY:--"I know ma will never let ME have
D-n. What are details? C-l-y. I am not sure, but I think they
are things that are left over.
(CECILY, WONDERINGLY:--"I don't see why that was put among the
funny paragraphs. Shouldn't it have gone in the General
Old Mr. McIntyre's son on the Markdale Road had been very sick for
several years and somebody was sympathizing with him because his
son was going to die. "Oh," Mr. McIntyre said, quite easy, "he
might as weel be awa'. He's only retarding buzziness."
GENERAL INFORMATION BUREAU
P-t-r. What kind of people live in uninhabited places?
Ans.: Cannibals, likely.
OUR LAST EVENING TOGETHER
IT was the evening before the day on which the Story Girl and
Uncle Blair were to leave us, and we were keeping our last tryst
together in the orchard where we had spent so many happy hours.
We had made a pilgrimage to all the old haunts--the hill field,
the spruce wood, the dairy, Grandfather King's willow, the Pulpit
Stone, Pat's grave, and Uncle Stephen's Walk; and now we
foregathered in the sere grasses about the old well and feasted on
the little jam turnovers Felicity had made that day specially for
"I wonder if we'll ever all be together again," sighed Cecily.
"I wonder when I'll get jam turnovers like this again," said the
Story Girl, trying to be gay but not making much of a success of
"If Paris wasn't so far away I could send you a box of nice things
now and then," said Felicity forlornly, "but I suppose there's no
use thinking of that. Dear knows what they'll give you to eat
"Oh, the French have the reputation of being the best cooks in the
world," rejoined the Story Girl, "but I know they can't beat your
jam turnovers and plum puffs, Felicity. Many a time I'll be
hankering after them."
"If we ever do meet again you'll be grown up," said Felicity
"Well, you won't have stood still yourselves, you know."
"No, but that's just the worst of it. We'll all be different and
everything will be changed."
"Just think," said Cecily, "last New Year's Eve we were wondering
what would happen this year; and what a lot of things have
happened that we never expected. Oh, dear!"
"If things never happened life would be pretty dull," said the
Story Girl briskly. "Oh, don't look so dismal, all of you."
"It's hard to be cheerful when everybody's going away," sighed
"Well, let's pretend to be, anyway," insisted the Story Girl.
"Don't let's think of parting. Let's think instead of how much
we've laughed this last year or so. I'm sure I shall never forget
this dear old place. We've had so many good times here."
"And some bad times, too," reminded Felix.
"Remember when Dan et the bad berries last summer?"
"And the time we were so scared over that bell ringing in the
house," grinned Peter.
"And the Judgment Day," added Dan.
"And the time Paddy was bewitched," suggested Sara Ray.
"And when Peter was dying of the measles," said Felicity.
"And the time Jimmy Patterson was lost," said Dan. "Gee-whiz, but
that scared me out of a year's growth."
"Do you remember the time we took the magic seed," grinned Peter.
"Weren't we silly?" said Felicity. "I really can never look Billy
Robinson in the face when I meet him. I'm always sure he's
laughing at me in his sleeve."
"It's Billy Robinson who ought to be ashamed when he meets you or
any of us," commented Cecily severely. "I'd rather be cheated
than cheat other people."
"Do you mind the time we bought God's picture?" asked Peter.
"I wonder if it's where we buried it yet," speculated Felix.
"I put a stone over it, just as we did over Pat," said Cecily.
"I wish I could forget what God looks like," sighed Sara Ray. "I
can't forget it--and I can't forget what the bad place is like
either, ever since Peter preached that sermon on it."
"When you get to be a real minister you'll have to preach that
sermon over again, Peter," grinned Dan.
"My Aunt Jane used to say that people needed a sermon on that
place once in a while," retorted Peter seriously.
"Do you mind the night I et the cucumbers and milk to make me dream?"
And therewith we hunted out our old dream books to read them
again, and, forgetful of coming partings, laughed over them till
the old orchard echoed to our mirth. When we had finished we
stood in a circle around the well and pledged "eternal friendship"
in a cup of its unrivalled water.
Then we joined hands and sang "Auld Lang Syne." Sara Ray cried
bitterly in lieu of singing.
"Look here," said the Story Girl, as we turned to leave the old
orchard, "I want to ask a favour of you all. Don't say good-bye
to me tomorrow morning."
"Why not?" demanded Felicity in astonishment.
"Because it's such a hopeless sort of word. Don't let's SAY it at
all. Just see me off with a wave of your hands. It won't seem
half so bad then. And don't any of you cry if you can help it. I
want to remember you all smiling."
We went out of the old orchard where the autumn night wind was
beginning to make its weird music in the russet boughs, and shut
the little gate behind us. Our revels there were ended.
THE STORY GIRL GOES
The morning dawned, rosy and clear and frosty. Everybody was up
early, for the travellers must leave in time to catch the nine
o'clock train. The horse was harnessed and Uncle Alec was waiting
by the door. Aunt Janet was crying, but everybody else was making
a valiant effort not to. The Awkward Man and Mrs. Dale came to
see the last of their favourite. Mrs. Dale had brought her a
glorious sheaf of chrysanthemums, and the Awkward Man gave her,
quite gracefully, another little, old, limp book from his library.
"Read it when you are sad or happy or lonely or discouraged or
hopeful," he said gravely.
"He has really improved very much since he got married," whispered
Felicity to me.
Sara Stanley wore a smart new travelling suit and a blue felt hat
with a white feather. She looked so horribly grown up in it that
we felt as if she were lost to us already.
Sara Ray had vowed tearfully the night before that she would be up
in the morning to say farewell. But at this juncture Judy Pineau
appeared to say that Sara, with her usual luck, had a sore throat,
and that her mother consequently would not permit her to come. So
Sara had written her parting words in a three-cornered pink note.
"My OWN DARLING FRIEND:--WORDS CANNOT EXPRESS my feelings over not
being able to go up this morning to say good-bye to one I so
FONDLY ADORE. When I think that I cannot SEE YOU AGAIN my heart
is almost TOO FULL FOR UTTERANCE. But mother says I cannot and I
MUST OBEY. But I will be present IN SPIRIT. It just BREAKS MY
HEART that you are going SO FAR AWAY. You have always been SO
KIND to me and never hurt my feelings AS SOME DO and I shall miss
you SO MUCH. But I earnestly HOPE AND PRAY that you will be HAPPY
AND PROSPEROUS wherever YOUR LOT IS CAST and not be seasick on THE
GREAT OCEAN. I hope you will find time AMONG YOUR MANY DUTIES to
write me a letter ONCE IN A WHILE. I shall ALWAYS REMEMBER YOU
and please remember me. I hope we WILL MEET AGAIN sometime, but
if not may we meet in A FAR BETTER WORLD where there are no SAD
"Your true and loving friend,
"Poor little Sara," said the Story Girl, with a queer catch in her
voice, as she slipped the tear-blotted note into her pocket. "She
isn't a bad little soul, and I'm sorry I couldn't see her once
more, though maybe it's just as well for she'd have to cry and set
us all off. I WON'T cry. Felicity, don't you dare. Oh, you
dear, darling people, I love you all so much and I'll go on loving
"Mind you write us every week at the very least," said Felicity,
"Blair, Blair, watch over the child well," said Aunt Janet.
"Remember, she has no mother."
The Story Girl ran over to the buggy and climbed in. Uncle Blair
followed her. Her arms were full of Mrs. Dale's chrysanthemums,
held close up to her face, and her beautiful eyes shone softly at
us over them. No good-byes were said, as she wished. We all
smiled bravely and waved our hands as they drove out of the lane
and down the moist red road into the shadows of the fir wood in
the valley. But we still stood there, for we knew we should see
the Story Girl once more. Beyond the fir wood was an open curve
in the road and she had promised to wave a last farewell as they
passed around it.
We watched the curve in silence, standing in a sorrowful little
group in the sunshine of the autumn morning. The delight of the
world had been ours on the golden road. It had enticed us with
daisies and rewarded us with roses. Blossom and lyric had waited
on our wishes. Thoughts, careless and sweet, had visited us.
Laughter had been our comrade and fearless Hope our guide. But
now the shadow of change was over it.
"There she is," cried Felicity.
The Story Girl stood up and waved her chrysanthemums at us. We
waved wildly back until the buggy had driven around the curve.
Then we went slowly and silently back to the house. The Story
Girl was gone.
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