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Produced by Annie R. McGuire

[Illustration: HARPER'S ROUND TABLE]

Copyright, 1896, by HARPER & BROTHERS. All Rights Reserved.

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* * * * *



A Story of the Northwest Coast.





Alaric Dale Todd was his name, and it was a great grief to him to be
called "Allie." Allie Todd was so insignificant and sounded so weak.
Besides, Allie was a regular girl's name, as he had been so often told,
and expected to be told by each stranger who heard it for the first
time. There is so much in a name after all. We either strive to live up
to it, or else it exerts a constant disheartening pull backward.

Although Alaric was tall for his age, which was nearly seventeen, he was
thin, pale, and undeveloped. He did not look like a boy accustomed to
play tennis or football, or engage in any of the splendid athletics that
develop the muscle and self-reliance of those sturdy young fellows who
contest interscholastic matches. Nor was he one of these; so far from
it, he had never played a game in his life except an occasional quiet
game of croquet, or something equally soothing. He could not swim nor
row nor sail a boat; he had never ridden horseback nor on a bicycle; he
had never skated nor coasted nor hunted nor fished, and yet he was
perfectly well formed and in good health. I fancy I hear my boy readers

"What a regular muff your Alaric must have been! No wonder they called
him 'Allie'!"

And the girls. Well, they would probably say, "What a disagreeable
prig!" For Alaric knew a great deal more about places and people and
books than most boys or girls of his age, and was rather fond of
displaying this knowledge. And then he was always dressed with such
faultless elegance. His patent-leather boots were so shiny, his
neck-wear, selected with perfect taste, was so daintily arranged, and
while he never left the house without drawing on a pair of gloves, they
were always so immaculate that it did not seem as though he ever wore
the same pair twice. He was very particular, too, about his linen, and
often sent his shirts back to the laundress unworn because they were not
done up to suit him. As for his coats and trousers, of which he had so
many that it actually seemed as though he might wear a different suit
every day in the year, he spent so much time in selecting material, and
then in being fitted, and insisted on so many alterations, that his
tailors were often in despair, and wondered whether it paid to have so
particular a customer after all. They never had occasion, though, to
complain about their bills, for no matter how large these were or how
extortionate, they were always paid without question as soon as

From all this it may be gathered that our Alaric was not a child of
poverty. Nor was he, for Amos Todd, his father, was so many times a
millionaire that he was one of the richest men on the Pacific coast. He
owned or controlled a bank, railways, steamships, and mines, great
ranches in the South, and vast tracts of timber lands in the North. His
manifold interests extended from Alaska to Mexico, from the Pacific to
the Atlantic; and while he made his home in San Francisco, his name was
a power in the stock exchanges of the world. Years before he and his
young wife had made their way to California from New England with just
money enough to pay their passage to the Golden State. Here they had
undergone poverty and hardships such as they determined their children
should never know.

Of these Margaret, the eldest, was now a leader of San Francisco
society, while John, who was eight years older than Alaric, had shown
such an aptitude for business that he had risen to be manager of his
father's bank. There were other children, who had died, and when Alaric
came, last of all, he was such a puny infant that there was little hope
of his ever growing up. Because he was the youngest and a weakling, and
demanded so much care, his mother devoted her life to him, and hovered
about him with a loving anxiety that sought to shield him from all rude
contact with the world. He was always under the especial care of some
doctor, and when he was five or six years old one of these, for want of
something more definite to say, announced that he feared the child was
developing a weak heart, and advised that he be restrained from all
violent exercise.

From that moment poor little "Allie," as he had been called from the day
of his birth, was not only kept from all forms of violent exercise and
excitement, but was forbidden to play any boyish games as well. In place
of these his doting mother travelled with him over Continental Europe,
going from one famous medical spring, bath, or health resort to another,
and bringing up her boy in an atmosphere of luxury, invalids, and
doctors. The last-named devoted themselves to trying to find out what
was the matter with him, and as no two of them could agree upon any one
ailment, Mrs. Todd came to regard him as a prodigy in the way of

Of course Alaric was never sent to a public school, but he was always
accompanied by tutors as well as physicians, and spent nearly ten years
in a very select private school or _pension_ near Paris. Here no rude
games were permitted, and the only exercise allowed the boys was a short
daily walk, in which, under escort of masters, they marched in a dreary
procession of twos.

During all these years of travel and study and search after health
Alaric had never known what it was to wish in vain for anything that
money could buy. Whatever he fancied, he obtained without knowing its
cost or where the money came from that procured it. But there were three
of the chief things in the world to a boy that he did not have, and that
money could not give him. He had no boy friends, no boyish games, and no
ambitions. He wanted to have all these things, and sometimes said so to
his mother; but always he was met by the same reproachful answer, "My
dear Allie, remember your poor weak heart."

At length it happened that while our lad was in that dreary _pension_,
Mrs. Todd, worn out with anxieties, cares, and worries of her own
devising, was stricken with a fatal malady, and died in the great
château that she had rented not far from the school in which her life's
treasure was so carefully guarded. A few days of bewilderment and
heart-breaking sorrow followed for poor Alaric. Many cable-grams flashed
to and fro beneath the ocean. There was a melancholy funeral, at which
the boy was sole mourner, and then one phase of his life was ended. In
another week he had left France, and, escorted by one of his French
tutors, was crossing the Atlantic on his way to the far-distant San
Francisco home of which he knew so little.

He had now been at home for nearly three months, and of all his sad life
they had proved the most unhappy period. His father, though always kind
in his way, was too deeply immersed in business to pay much attention to
the sensitive lad. He did not understand him, and regarded him as a
weakling who could never amount to anything in the world of business or
useful activity. He would be kind to the boy, of course, and any desire
that he expressed should be promptly gratified; at the same time he
could not help feeling that Alaric was a great trial, and wishing him
more like his brother John.

This bustling, dashing elder brother had no sympathy with Alaric, and
rarely found time to give him more than a nod and a word of greeting in
passing, while his sister Margaret regarded him as still a little boy
who was to be kept out of sight as much as possible. So the poor lad,
left to himself, without friends and without occupation, found time
hanging very heavily on his hands, and wondered why he had ever been

Once he ventured to ask his father for a saddle-horse, whereupon Amos
Todd presented him with a pair of ponies, a cart, and a groom, which he
said was an outfit better suited to an invalid. Alaric accepted this
gift without a protest, for he was well trained to bearing
disappointments, but he used it so rarely that the business of giving
the ponies their daily airing devolved almost entirely upon the groom.

It was not until Esther Dale, one of the New England cousins whom he had
never seen, and a girl of his own age, made a flying visit to San
Francisco as one of a personally conducted party of tourists, that
Alaric found any real use for his ponies. Esther was to remain in the
city only three days, but she spent them in her uncle's house, which she
refused to call anything but "the palace," and which she so pervaded
with her cheery presence that Amos Todd declared it seemed full of
singing birds and sunshine.

Both Margaret and John were too busy to pay much attention to their
young cousin, and so, to Alaric's delight, the whole duty of
entertaining her devolved on him. He felt much more at his ease with
girls than with boys, for he had been thrown so much more into their
society during his travels, and he thought he understood them
thoroughly; but in Esther Dale he found a girl so different from any he
had ever known that she seemed to belong to another order of beings. She
was good-looking and perfectly well-bred, but she was also as full of
life and frisky antics as a squirrel, and as tireless as a bird on the

On the first morning of her visit the cousins drove out to the Cliff
House to see the sea-lions, and almost before Alaric knew how it was
accomplished, he found Esther perched on the high right-hand cushion of
the box-seat in full possession of reins and whip, while he occupied the
lower seat on her left, as though he were the guest and she the hostess
of the occasion. At the same time the ponies seemed filled with an
unusual activity, and were clattering along at a pace more exhilarating
than they had ever shown under his guidance.

After that Esther always drove, and Alaric, sitting beside her, listened
with wondering admiration to her words of wisdom and practical advice on
all sorts of subjects. She had never been abroad, but she knew
infinitely more of her own country than he, and was so enthusiastic
concerning it that in three days' time she had made him feel prouder of
being an American than he had believed it possible he ever would be. She
knew so much concerning out-of-door life, too - about animals and birds
and games. She criticised the play of the baseball nines, whom they saw
in one part of Golden Gate Park; and when they came to another place
where some acquaintances of Alaric's were playing tennis, she asked for
an introduction to the best girl player on the ground, promptly
challenged her to a trial of skill, and beat her three straight games.

During the play she presented such a picture of glowing health and
graceful activity that pale-faced Alaric sat and watched her with
envious admiration.

"I would give anything I own in the world to be able to play tennis as
you can, Cousin Esther," he said, earnestly, after it was all over and
they were driving away.

"Why don't you learn, then?" asked the girl, in surprise.

"Because I have a weak heart, you know, and am forbidden any violent

The boy hesitated, and even blushed, as he said this, though he had
never done either of those things before when speaking of his weak
heart. In fact, he had been rather proud of it, and considered that it
was a very interesting thing to have. Now, however, he felt almost
certain that Esther would laugh at him.

And so she did. She laughed until Alaric became red in the face from
vexation; but when she noticed this she instantly grew very sober, and

"Excuse me, Cousin Rick. I didn't mean to laugh; but you did look so
woe-begone when you told me about your poor weak heart, and it seems so
absurd for a big, well-looking boy like you to have such a thing, that I
couldn't help it."

"I've always had it," said Alaric, stoutly; "and that is the reason they
would never let me do things like other boys. It might kill me if I did,
you know."

"I should think it would kill you if you didn't, and I'm sure I would
rather die of good times than just sit round and mope to death. Now I
don't believe your heart is any weaker than mine is. You don't look so,
anyway, and if I were you I would just go in for everything, and have as
good a time as I possibly could, without thinking any more about whether
my heart was weak or strong."

"But they won't let me," objected Alaric.

"Who won't?"

"Father and Margaret and John."

"I don't see that the two last named have anything to do with it. As for
Uncle Amos, I am sure he would rather have you a strong, brown,
splendidly healthy fellow, such as you might become if you only would,
than the white-faced, dudish Miss Nancy that you are. Oh, Cousin Rick!
What have I said? I'm awfully sorry and ashamed of myself. Please
forgive me."



For a moment it seemed to Alaric that he could not forgive that
thoughtlessly uttered speech. And yet the girl who made it had called
him Cousin "Rick," a name he had always desired, but which no one had
ever given him before. If she had called him "Allie," he knew he would
never have forgiven her. As it was he hesitated, and his pale face
flushed again. What should he say?

In her contrition and eagerness to atone for her cruel words Esther
leaned toward him, and laid a beseeching hand on his arm. For the moment
she forgot her responsibility as driver, and the reins held loosely in
her whip-hand lay slack across the ponies' backs.

Just then a newspaper that had been carelessly dropped in the roadway
was picked up by a sudden gust of wind and whirled directly into the
faces of the spirited team. The next instant they were dashing madly
down the street. At the outset the reins were jerked from Esther's hand;
but ere they could slip down beyond reach Alaric had seized them. Then
with the leathern bands wrapped about his wrists, he threw his whole
weight back on them, and strove to check or at least to guide the
terrified animals. The light cart bounded and swayed from side to side.
Men shouted and women screamed, and a clanging cable-car from a cross
street was saved from a collision only by the prompt efforts of its
gripman. The roadway was becoming more and more crowded with teams and
pedestrians. Alaric's teeth were clinched, and he was bare-headed,
having lost his hat as he caught the reins. Esther sat beside him,
motionless and silent, but with bloodless cheeks.

They were on an avenue that led to the heart of the city. On one side
was a hill, up which cross streets climbed steeply. To keep on as they
were going meant certain destruction. All the strain that Alaric could
bring to bear on the reins did not serve to check the headlong speed of
the hard-mouthed ponies. With each instant their blind terror seemed to
increase. Several side streets leading up the hill had already been
passed, and another was close at hand. Beyond it was a mass of teams and

"Hold on for your life!" panted Alaric, in the ear of the girl who sat
beside him.

As he spoke he dropped one rein, threw all his weight on the other, and
at the same instant brought the whip down with a stinging cut on the
right-hand side of the off horse. The frenzied animal instinctively
sprang to the left, both yielded to the heavy tug of that rein, and the
team was turned into the side street. The cart slewed across the smooth
asphalt, lunged perilously to one side, came within a hair's-breadth of
upsetting, and then righted. Two seconds later the mad fright of the
ponies was checked by pure exhaustion half-way up the steep hill-side.
There they stood panting and trembling, while a crowd of excited
spectators gathered about them with offers of assistance and advice.

"Do they seem to be all right?" asked Alaric.

"All right, sir, far as I can see," replied one of the men, who was
examining the quivering animals and their harness.

"Then if you will kindly help me turn them around, and will lead them to
the foot of the hill, I think they will be quiet enough to drive on
without giving any more trouble," said the boy.

When this was done, and Alaric, after cordially thanking those who had
aided him, had driven away, one of the men exclaimed, as he gazed after
the vanishing carriage,

"Plucky young chap that!"

"Yes," replied another; "and doesn't seem to be a bit of a snob like
most of them wealthy fellows, either."

Meanwhile Alaric was tendering the reins to the girl who had sat so
quietly by his side without an outcry or a word of suggestion during the
whole exciting episode.

"Won't you drive now, Cousin Esther?"

"Indeed I will not, Alaric. I feel ashamed of myself for presuming to
take the reins from you before, and you may be certain that I shall
never attempt to do such a thing again. The way you managed the whole
affair was simply splendid. And oh, Cousin Rick! to think that I should
have called _you_ a Miss Nancy! Just as you were about to save my life,
too. I can never forgive myself - never."

"Oh yes you can," laughed Alaric, "for it is true - that is, it was true;
for I can see now that I have been a regular Miss Nancy sort of a fellow
all my life. That is what made me feel so badly when you said it. Nobody
ever dared tell me before, and so it came as an unpleasant surprise.
Now, though, I am glad you said it."

"And you will never give anybody in the whole world a chance to say such
a thing again, will you?" asked the girl, eagerly. "And you will go
right to work at learning how to do the things that other boys do, won't

"I don't know," answered Alaric, doubtfully. "I'd like to well enough;
but I don't know just how to begin. You see, I'm too old to learn from
the little boys, and the big fellows won't have anything to do with such
a duffer as I am. They've all heard too much about my weak heart."

"Then I'd go away to some place where nobody knows you and make a fresh
start. You might go out on one of your father's ranches and learn to be
a cowboy, or up into those great endless forests that I saw on Puget
Sound the other day, and live in a logging camp. It is such a glorious
splendid life, and there is so much to be done up in that country. Oh
dear! if I were only a boy, and going to be a man, wouldn't I get there
just as quickly as I could, and learn how to do things, so that when I
grew up I could go right ahead and do them?"

"All that sounds well," said Alaric, dubiously, "but I know father will
never let me go to any such places. He thinks such a life would kill me.
Besides, he says that as I shall never have to work, there is no need
for me to learn how."

"But you must work," responded Esther, stoutly. "Every one must, or else
be very unhappy. Papa says that the happiest people in the world are
those who work the hardest when it is time for work, and play the
hardest in play-time. But where are you driving to? This isn't the way

"I am going to get a new hat and gloves," answered the boy, "for I don't
want anyone at the house to know of our runaway. They'd never let me
drive the ponies again if they found it out."

"It would be a shame if they didn't, after the way you handled them just
now," exclaimed Esther, indignantly.

Just then they stopped before a fashionable hat-store on Kearney Street,
and while Alaric was debating whether he ought to leave the ponies long
enough to step inside he was recognized, and a clerk hastened to receive
his order.

"Hats and gloves," said Alaric; "you know the sizes."

The clerk answered, "Certainly, Mr. Todd," bowed, and disappeared in the

"See those lovely gray 'Tams' in the window, Cousin Rick," said Esther.
"Why don't you get one of them? It would be just the thing to wear in
the woods."

"All right," replied the boy. "I will."

So when the clerk reappeared with a stylish derby-hat and a dozen pair
of gloves Alaric put the former on, said he would keep the gloves, and
at the same time requested that one of the gray Tams might be done up
for him.

As this order was filled, and the ponies were headed towards home,
Esther said; "Why, Cousin Rick, you didn't pay for your things?"

"No," repeated the boy, "I never do."

"You didn't even ask the prices, either."

"Of course not!" laughed the other. "Why should I? They were things that
I had to have anyway, and so what would be the use of asking the prices?
Besides, I don't think I ever did such a thing in my life."

"Well," sighed the girl, "it must be lovely to shop in that way. Now I
never bought anything without first finding out if I could afford it;
and as for gloves, I know I never bought more than one pair at a time."

"Really?" said Alaric, with genuine surprise, "I didn't know they sold
less than a dozen pair at a time. I wish I had known it, for I only
wanted one pair. I've got so many at home now that they are a bother."

That very evening the lad spoke to his father about going on a ranch and
learning to be a cowboy. Unfortunately his brother John overheard him,
and greeted the proposition with shouts of laughter. Even Amos Todd,
while mildly rebuking his eldest son, could not help smiling at the
absurdity of the request. Then, turning to the mortified lad, he said
kindly but decidedly:

"You don't know what you are asking, Allie, my boy, and I wouldn't think
for a moment of allowing you to attempt such a thing. The excitement of
that kind of life would kill you in less than no time. Ask anything in
reason, and I shall be only too happy to gratify you; but don't make
foolish requests."

When Alaric reported this failure to Esther a little later, she said,
very gravely: "Then, Cousin Rick, there is only one thing left for you
to do. You must run away."







PREFACE. - A dress of white muslin or paper cambric. A small muslin apron
entirely covered, except the hem, with printed words. A white ribbon,
with "Preface" in black capitals, extending from the right shoulder
diagonally to the waist, where it ends under a bow of red ribbon. On the
right shoulder a red bow. The flowing hair is crowned by a dainty muslin
cap trimmed with a knot of red ribbon.

INDEX. - A white suit. Belt bearing his name in black letters.

VIOLET. - A dress of fluffy material - pale lavender, with violets of
deeper shade falling in a fringe around a low neck.

DAFFODIL. - Same in yellow.

LILY-OF-THE-VALLEY. - A white tulle with delicate green
over-dress. Puffed white sleeves with ruffles of green. A bunch of
lilies-of-the-valley on one shoulder.

LOCKSMITH. - Ragged trousers, shirt, and large brown holland apron.
Bunches of keys hanging from his waist.

CUPID. - Flesh-colored tights and pink trunks, quiver, and arrows.


FIRST AND SECOND PITCHERS. - Baseball rig. Asses' ears of gray canton
flannel, wired to keep them in shape.

COLORED LAUNDRESS. - Dress of gaudy chintz, large check apron, and
bandanna head handkerchief.

Other costumes to suit the fancy of wearers.

If the play is to take place in a parlor, be sure there is a doorway at
one end connecting it with another room. A stage one foot from the floor
is built right across the door, which should be right or left of the
centre background. The framework for a book through which each
individual or group must pass to front of stage is thus made - two
uprights 5 ft. 6 in. high are placed 3 ft 4 in. apart, and fastened to
the stage floor; 1 ft. 6 in. behind these uprights, and exactly opposite
them, fix two others of the same height. Nail three cross-pieces at the
top (leaving the side nearest the door open) to hold the frame together.
This skeleton book must stand at such an angle that while one inner
corner almost touches the stage entrance door, the other inner corner
will be 2 ft. beyond the door. Tack a strip of asbestos down the side

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Online LibraryVariousHarper's Round Table, February 25, 1896 → online text (page 1 of 7)