Harper's Round Table, October 8, 1895 online

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Produced by Annie McGuire

[Illustration: HARPER'S ROUND TABLE]

Copyright, 1895, by HARPER & BROTHERS. All Rights Reserved.

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* * * * *




The Happy Thought, as will be remembered by those who have read "The
Longmeadow Toll-Gate," was a new departure in bicycle construction.
Although provided with pedals that could be used in an emergency, its
real motive-power was derived from naphtha applied through a pair of
cylinders built upon a modification of the hot-air principle, and
working directly upon the rear wheel. The oil was admitted drop by drop
to the cylinders, mixed with air, and then exploded by a spark from an
electric storage battery. The speed was regulated by the flow of oil,
and the operator had only to touch a hand-lever to get any rate he
wanted from one up to thirty miles an hour. The power could be instantly
shut down either by closing the oil valve or by cutting off the electric
current. Finally, the machinery had but few working parts, and was
therefore not liable to get out of order, and in its operation it was
absolutely safe, there being no boiler, and consequently no possibility
of an explosion.

The Happy Thought, which had been built by Mr. March for his son Fred,
was a double machine, the steersman occupying the front saddle and the
engineer sitting behind. In general appearance the Happy Thought
resembled the ordinary "tandem," the only noticeable difference being in
its huge pneumatic tires, which were fully four inches in diameter. The
idea was that they would ride more easily over rough roads, would not
slip in mud nor sink in sand, and would be less liable to puncture.

It was nearly a year since that memorable night when Fred March and his
partner, Jack Howard, had run down the bank robbers, and the Happy
Thought had saved the Jefferson Court-House Bank $20,000 in hard cash.
Within the last six months copper of fine quality had been discovered in
the hills west of Fairacre, capital had been attracted, a smelting plant
was in process of erection, and business was booming. The works of the
Copper Company were situated some thirty miles away, and a large force
of men were working night and day to get the plant in running order. The
company were building a branch road to connect with the railway that ran
ten miles to the east of Fairacre, but at present the only means of
communication with the outside world was the wagon-road, which had been
constructed over Razor-Back Ridge. The government had been persuaded to
establish a "Star" mail route from Fairacre to the copper camp, and
Fred, with the assistance of his father, had succeeded in obtaining the
contract for himself and Jack. It was a semi-weekly route, the trip days
being Tuesdays and Fridays, and for two months the Happy Thought had run
regularly between the two places, leaving Fairacre at one o'clock in the
afternoon and returning the same night.

It was shortly before one o'clock on Friday, the 31st of August, and the
Happy Thought was standing in front of the Fairacre Post-office, ready
for her regular run. Jack, oil-can in hand, was giving a last look to
the bearings, while Fred, with the mail-bag strapped to his shoulders,
stood by occasionally glancing at his watch. It was almost time to
start, but the boys were also agents for the express company, and Mr.
Simmons, the Fairacre agent, seemed to be in no hurry about making up
his consignment.

"One o'clock," growled Fred. "I don't believe he has anything for us
to-day;" and then catching sight of a beckoning finger through the dusty
window-pane, "Come on, Jack, he wants to see us both."

"This way," said Mr. Simmons, briefly, leading the boys to the back
room. The room looked into an enclosed yard, but Mr. Simmons drew the
curtains carefully. Then going to his safe, he unlocked it, and took out
a thick square package. "To-morrow is pay-day at the works," he said,
slowly, "and there's wages for three months coming to the men. The
company always has it sent up by express from the city, and $10,000 is a
tidy little sum," he concluded, tapping the package gently with his

"Of course we'll be careful," began Fred.

"In course you mean to be," interrupted Mr. Simmons, gravely; "but I
know what boys are, and you're awful careless about your receipts."

Fred blushed as he remembered an entry on the Tuesday book for which
they had somehow neglected to obtain the necessary signature that
acknowledged delivery.

Mr. Simmons slipped the package in the express bag, locked it, and
handed it to Jack. "Good-by and good luck," he added, "and be sure you
get your receipt."

The bag with its precious freight was quickly strapped to Jack's back,
and a few moments later the Happy Thought was ploughing down the dusty
road at twenty miles an hour.

The distance to the copper-works was a trifle over thirty miles, but at
least twelve miles of it was steady up-hill work. Once across Razor-Back
Ridge, it was better travelling, and the Happy Thought generally made
the whole trip in a few minutes over two hours. The road was reasonably
smooth and hard, but the afternoon sun was hot, and the boys thought
longingly of the cool woods that covered the further side of the ridge.
However, the Happy Thought pushed steadily along, and they had nothing
to do but to keep her on her course.

"Fifteen minutes late," said Fred, as they slid gently over the summit,
and slowed down to oil the working parts. "But it's an easy run, now,
and we'll be in Coppertown by half past three - that is, if nobody stops
us on the way," he added, with a short laugh.

"But you don't think - " exclaimed Jack, looking up.

"Of course I don't; but there may be more persons than one who know of
the money that's going through to-day. There isn't a house between here
and Coppertown, and you know that 'Smooth Jim' broke jail ten days ago,
and is with his gang again."

Jack looked disturbed.

"But I don't expect to see the gentleman, and anyway we can run if we
can't fight - eh, old girl?" and Fred gave the Happy Thought an
affectionate pat as he sprang into his saddle.

"I suppose it's what we're carrying that makes me feel nervous," thought
Fred, as they rolled smoothly along in the cool dense shadow of the
beech-wood. "There's half-way," he muttered a few moments later, as a
blasted pine-tree flashed past. "We are doing better now, and the
machinery is working like a watch. That was a great improvement to
muffle the sound of the exhaust; we run along as quietly as a cat
walking on velvet."

There was a touch on his shoulder, and the Happy Thought came to a dead

"Against orders, I know," said Jack, leaning forward and speaking under
his breath, "but look back there."

The dead pine-tree was still visible some four hundred yards away, but
there was something fluttering from one of its branches - a piece of red
flannel rag.

"A signal," said Fred, shortly, "and it means that somebody is after
us - after _that_," and he pointed to the express bag. "We've got to go
on, for some one is certainly behind us. We can't stay here and be
gobbled up, and a rabbit could hardly get through that laurel scrub.
Besides, there's just a chance that it doesn't mean anything, after all.
We'll run ahead carefully, and if it comes to the worst, we'll cut
everything loose and make a dash for it. There's nothing short of a
rifle-bullet that can catch us."

"Let her go," returned Jack, briefly.

A quarter of a mile further, and the boys began to breathe easier. They
were on Breakneck Hill now, and there was nothing suspicious in the look
ahead. Half-way down, and as they swung around a curve Fred's heart
suddenly seemed to leap up into his mouth. His eye had caught the
momentary gleam of something moving in the thick foliage that bordered
the road at the bottom of the hill. He recognized it in an instant - the
silver mounting of a pistol. He turned and shouted to Jack.

"Crack! crack!" and Fred felt the wind of a bullet as it sung past.
"Crack! crack!" but that was wider of the mark. The Happy Thought under
full speed had bounded down the hill, and the danger-point was passed.
He could hear faint shouts behind him and the short quick tramp of
horses' hoofs. Was it possible that they had escaped?

With fingers tightly clutched on the handle-bars Fred kept the Happy
Thought in the middle of the road. The road-bed was smooth and hard, but
the front wheel was acting oddly. There was something that looked like a
white patch on the tire, and, yes, there could be no doubt about it, it
was leaking badly. Evidently the tire had been cut by a bullet, and in a
few seconds more the air would be out of it. Just ahead was a curve
which for the moment would put them out of sight; they must stop in time
to take to the woods. In his excitement Fred put his hand behind him and
shut off the oil. The Happy Thought stopped just around the curve, and
Fred jumped off and looked around.

_Jack and the express bag had disappeared._

In his bewilderment and dismay Fred hardly knew how he managed to get
himself and the Happy Thought under cover before the pursuing horsemen
swept by at a slashing gallop. There were four of them in all, heavily
armed, and with their faces half concealed by clumsy masks. Fred
recognized "Smooth Jim" in the leader of the party, and the sight was
not reassuring, even though he was now looking at that gentleman's back.
Half mechanically he got out his repair kit, and began to patch the
leaking tire. "Where was Jack?" was the question that seemed to dance in
letters of fire before his eyes. Could he be lying back there in the
road with a bullet in his head? Was he a prisoner?

But wait a moment. If Jack was in their hands, why had _he_ been chased?
The money was in the bag strapped to Jack's back, and the money was what
they were after. But wait again. Was he sure that the horsemen were
pursuing him? Might they not have been making their own escape, having
secured their booty? In that case Jack had been left behind, wounded or
dead. There was but one thing to do, and that was to steal cautiously
back and find out.

It had taken Fred some ten minutes to mend the tire and come to this
conclusion. At the point where he had made his way into the thicket a
small brook, locally called a "branch," crossed the road, and he had
been sitting on its bank. As he rose to his feet he happened to glance
upstream. There was something floating down with the current. Only a
piece of bark. But stop! The little craft carried a miniature mast made
from a hazel twig, and in the cleft at its top there was something
white - a bit of folded paper.

A signal! A message! Fred watched it eagerly as it came nearer. Twice it
grounded against an overhanging branch, but the current swung it clear
again. A moment more, and it was in his grasp. A note, and in Jack's
handwriting. Fred tore it open.

"Make no noise. Don't go out on road. There is a scout on each
side of you. I am a hundred yards upstream with a sprained ankle.
Can you get the H. T. up here without noise? Have a plan.


A few minutes later and Jack was telling his story. He had been pitched
off his seat by a sudden lurch just as the Happy Thought began her
headlong rush down the hill, but had alighted unhurt in a clump of
laurel. Seeing that Fred had safely run the gauntlet, he had made his
way into the scrub and worked cautiously down the hill, keeping parallel
with the road. On coming to a little bluff that overhung the stream he
had caught sight of Fred in his covert by the road-side, and also of the
horsemen who had started in to beat the bushes. A shout would have
betrayed them both. He must creep down and give Fred warning.
Unfortunately, in descending the bluff he slipped and sprained his
ankle. Capture seemed certain. And then came a brilliant thought. The
water that flowed past him also ran by Fred. Might it not carry the
warning message? The rest you know.

Jack had spent the time in making for himself a rough pair of crutches,
and was now able to hobble along.

"A quarter of a mile further upstream there's an old wood-road," he went
on, in answer to Fred's eager query. "I can manage to take care of
myself if you can get the machine up there. The road will take us
straight into Coppertown, and we'll save the money yet."

It was difficult work up the stony bed of the branch, but it was finally
accomplished, and the Happy Thought was again under way, though at a
reduced speed, for the wood road was not in very good repair. Three,
five, ten miles, and the boys began to breathe freely. It looked as
though fortune had turned in their favor at last.

"It seems to have grown hazy," said Fred, a few moments later, "and the
sky and the sun are as yellow as gold."

"My eyes are smarting," returned Jack, with a cough. "I believe it's
smoke; and look there!"

A number of birds were flying over their heads, chattering and squawking

"They fly as though they were frightened," said Fred, soberly. "Why,
there are all kinds - quail, blue-jays, wood-cock, and even a couple of

A deer burst from the thicket and came galloping past them, with eyes
starting in terror and dilated nostrils. The woods seemed suddenly alive
with rabbits and other small game, all fleeing as though for their

"The woods," gasped Fred - "they are on fire!"

From their position of the moment they could get an extended view
around. To their dismay the fire was already on three sides of them and
rapidly closing in. They could not go back, the wind was driving the
flames directly across the road behind them. The only chance was ahead,
and it was full two miles to the open. In any event they would have to
make a final dash through the flames.

It was little that Fred could afterwards recall of that wild ride. The
smoke came in thick eddying, blinding, suffocating gusts, and cinders,
first black and then redly alive, fell thick about them.

"Another half-mile," thought Fred, desperately, as the Happy Thought
bounced along over the rough road, now lurching to one side and now to
another, but keeping her feet like a circus acrobat.

A turn in the road and he could see the open, but it was a flaming
curtain that hung between; the fire was across the road. And what was
that that lay directly athwart their path, and in the very centre of the
fiery furnace? It was a log some eight or ten inches in diameter.

It was a snap decision, but Fred recognized that it meant certain death
to stop. To put the Happy Thought straight at the obstruction, like a
steeple-chaser at a hurdle - it was a slim chance, but the only one. He
could feel the hot breath of the fire on his cheeks, the pungent smoke
was gripping his throat like a vise. "Hold hard!" and at thirty miles an
hour Fred felt the Happy Thought strike the rounded surface of the log
fair and square. The slightest possible shock, and they seemed to be
sailing on, on, on, into endless space.

* * * * *

When he opened his eyes he was lying on the counter in the Copper
Company's office, with the superintendent bending over him.

"All right, my boy?"

"Where's Jack - and the Happy Thought?"

"Safe and sound. Your partner could steer the machine from his seat, you
know, and you were so wedged in that you could not fall. And I was
driving past and saw you."

"And the money - it's safe?" Fred sat up and pointed to the package lying
on the counter.

"That! Why, that's some porous plasters I ordered from the city. Glad
you brought them up for me."

"Porous plasters!"

The superintendent laughed. "My dear boy, you brought the money with you
on your Tuesday trip. I thought you didn't know it, for you forgot to
take my receipt. I've just signed for it now."

"That's what Mr. Simmons meant by being careful," put in Jack. "He never
actually said that the money was in _this_ package."

"Well," said Fred, after a pause, "there were some other people that got
fooled too - 'Smooth Jim,' for instance."

"And we've got him," returned the superintendent, grimly. "We were
looking for a job of this kind, and that is why the money was sent up
Tuesday. The fire drove them out of the woods plump into the sheriff's

"Tell me," said Fred to Jack, when they were alone, "how in the world
did the Happy Thought ever jump that big log?"

"Big log! Why, Fred, you're dreaming. Wait a minute; I do remember going
over a bean-pole just before you fainted."

"Oh," said Fred, shortly.

"I declare," grumbled Mr. Simmons the next day, as he looked at the
express-book, "you boys are awful careless. You never got a receipt for
them porous plasters."


Never a flower so debonair,
And full of a gallant grace,
As the golden-rod that on ledge or sod
Seeks but a foothold's spare.
Asking not for the garden's bed,
Shelter or care at all,
Standing with pride by the highway side,
Or climbing the mountain wall.

Ever beside her own true knight
The dear little aster lifts
Her purple bloom, in light or gloom,
Clothing ravines and rifts
With a royal robe that is fair to see,
While she answers back the nod,
Queenly and bright, on vale and height,
Of her lover, the golden-rod.



Patriotism, that powerful and ennobling sentiment, has always in America
taken a deep hold upon the hearts of its people, and to-day the love of
home and country is as strong and permanent there as in the early
colonial period or the thrilling times of '76.

Within the past few years the formation of the many patriotic orders of
men and women has done much to rouse afresh and to extend the feeling of
national pride and devotion, and now the children of America are to have
this same impetus, for the National Society of the Children of the
American Revolution is already founded, and rapidly gathering within its
hospitable doors the children and youth from all over the land. And the
best part of it is that although only lineal descendants of colonial and
Revolutionary ancestors may become regular members, an invitation and
warm welcome are extended to all children of no matter what ancestry or
nationality, to join in the public gatherings of the society, and to
enjoy its pleasures and benefits. In this way the true spirit of
patriotism may reach every boy and girl, and there is no limit to the
society's scope or influence. This movement may thus be said to be one
of the broadest and most beneficent yet started, and one that will tend
to popularize the work of the public schools toward patriotism and good

At the age of eighteen years the girls may pass into the ranks of the
Daughters of the American Revolution, while their brothers at twenty-one
enter the Sons of the American Revolution.

[Illustration: MRS. D. LOTHROP.]

The idea of having a young folks' organization first originated with
Mrs. Daniel Lothrop, known in every household numbering children as
"Margaret Sidney," author of that much-loved book _Five Little Peppers_,
and a score of others. Such a happy and far-reaching scheme was sure to
be the thought of just such a woman as Mrs. Lothrop, for her warm heart
and fertile brain have always been busy in helping boys and girls.

At the last Continental Congress of the Daughters of the American
Revolution, held in Washington in February, Mrs. Lothrop, who is Regent
of the Old Concord Chapter of that society, laid her plan before the
feminine representatives gathered from all parts of the Union, and they
unanimously voted that such an organization should be formed, with Mrs.
Lothrop at its head. Later she was elected its president for four years,
with power to organize the society in accordance with her own judgment
and regulations.

Thus on April 5, 1895, the new association was founded in Washington,
its permanent headquarters, and six days later was incorporated under
the Laws of Congress. It will soon be in full swing, for a vast number
of big and little boys and girls all over the country are enrolling
themselves as its members. And what a delightful vista opens before
these juvenile representatives!

They say in their constitution: "We, the children and youth of America,
in order to know more about our country from its formation, and thus to
grow up into good citizens, with a love for and an understanding of the
principles and institutions of our ancestors, do unite under the
guidance and government of the Daughters of the American Revolution in
the society to be called the National Society of the Children of the
American Revolution. All children and youth of America, of both sexes,
from birth to the age of eighteen years for the girls and twenty-one for
the boys, may join this society, provided they descend in direct line
from patriotic ancestors who helped to plant or to perpetuate this
country in the Colonies or in the Revolutionary War, or in any other
way. We take for objects in this society the acquisition of knowledge of
American history, so that we may understand and love our country better,
and then any patriotic work that will help us to that end, keeping a
constant endeavor to influence all other children and youth to the same
purpose. To help to save the places made sacred by the American men and
women who forwarded American independence; to find out and to honor the
lives of children and youth of the Colonies and of the American
Revolution; to promote the celebration of all patriotic anniversaries;
to place a copy of the Declaration of Independence and other patriotic
documents in every place appropriate for them; and to hold our American
flag sacred above every other flag. In short, to follow the injunctions
of Washington, who in his youth served his country, till we can perform
the duties of good citizens. And to love, uphold, and extend the
institutions of American liberty, and the principles that made and saved
our country."

The membership fees are fifty cents the first year, and twenty-five
cents each succeeding year.

The young members are forming into many local societies or chapters,
under their own control, but each one guided by a president chosen from
among the Daughters of the American Revolution, who has only the good of
her young charges at heart. In this way the latter will learn how to
rule a body of individuals, old or young, according to parliamentary
law, just as the United States Senate and House of Representatives are
ruled. It will also teach them to be just and logical in their words and
actions. Then they are going to strive above all else to be God-fearing
young citizens, to reverence and uphold the fundamental truths of their
country, and to respect each other's rights.

After these first sober considerations will come the amusements. One of
the society's vice-presidents, Mrs. James R. McKee, daughter of
ex-President Benjamin Harrison, has proposed the idea that the members
be regularly taught by a professional musician to correctly sing by
heart all the national hymns. Such a training in childhood would inspire
the young heads and hearts for a lifetime with a profound love and
loyalty for the spot which is home to them all, whether by inheritance
or adoption.


Perhaps the best way to gain an insight into the future work and
recreation of the society is to glance at the doings of the first local
society, founded May 11th, at Concord, Massachusetts, the town of the
"Old North Bridge," by Mrs. Lothrop herself. On the 18th of June a
reading circle was formed on the grounds of "The Wayside," Mrs.
Lothrop's home, and the former abiding-place of Hawthorne and Louisa M.
Alcott, where the latter lived "Little Women" with her sisters, and
wrote it. Three or four young ladies and gentlemen lent their services,
and read history to the children. They all meet every fortnight for a
couple of hours in the afternoon and read the _Life of Washington_, John
Fiske's _American Revolution_, or any appropriate historical book or
sketches connected with the early history of the nation. A committee of
boys and girls is elected to select the readers for each meeting, and
also the games to be played. Then excursions are made to different

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Online LibraryVariousHarper's Round Table, October 8, 1895 → online text (page 1 of 7)