Lynde Palmer.

Helps over hard places : stories for boys online

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" ' I shouldn't wonder if they buried dead
people there, a great while ago,' said Bernard,
with a little shiver ; and when we both got
up, feeling very sober, he said, just to raise
our spirits, —

" < Let's have a race up the steps, and see
which will get to the roof first.'

"Off we started. I could generally climb
like a wildcat ; but in some way I stumbled
and hurt my knee, and Bernard gained very
fast. I felt my quick temper rising again.

" ' Shall he beat me in every thing? ' I said
to myself; and with a great spring I caught
up to him, and seized his jacket. Then be-


gan a struggle. Bernard cried l fair play,'
and tried to throw me off; but I was very
angry, and strong as a young tiger, and al]
of a sudden — for I didn't know what I was
about — I just flung him, with all my might,
right over the edge, where the railing was
half broken down."

"Oh dear! Oh dear!" cried little Prue,
bursting into tears, " did it kill him ? "

A merry laugh from Bernard, followed by
a hearty chorus from the rest, restored bewil-
dered little Prue to her senses. But Dudley
went on, very soberly : —

"Bernard screamed as he went over, and
with that scream all my anger died in a min-
ute, and I sat down on the stairs, shaking
from head to foot. Then I listened, but I
didn't hear a sound. I don't know how long
I sat there, but at last I got up very slowly and
began to come down just like an old man.
It was so dreadfully still in the old castle,
that I felt, in a queer way, as if I must be
very careful, too, and I stepped on my tip-
toes, and held my breath. When I got to
the foot, I felt as if a big hand held my heart
ti^ht, and when I tried to walk towards tho
spot where I thought Bernard must have fkl-


Ien, I could not move a step. But after a
great while, — it seemed like a year, — I man-
aged to drag myself to the place, and, do you
know, no one was there ! "

"Why, where could he be?" cried the as-
tonished children.

"Well, I thought he might have fallen,
and rolled off under the stairs into that
dreadful vault."

" Oh, don't have him get in tJiere, please,"
cried tender little Prue.

"Then," said Dudley, slowly, "I leaned
over the vault, and called his name, 'Ber-
nard! Bernard!' and then I jumped back
and almost screamed, for I thought some
other boy had spoken. I did not know my
own voice, it sounded so strange and solemn.
But no one answered, and I dragged myself
away, feeling as if that awful hand grew
tighter on my heart, and thinking, as I went
out of the door, how two of us went in, and
why I was coming out alone. Then I sat
down on the grass, and, though it was warm
summer weather, I shivered from head to
foot ; and I remember thinking to myself,
'This queer boy sitting here isn't Dudley
Wylde ; this boy couldrCt get angry; he's as


cold as an icicle, and Dudley Wylde's hes*rt
used to beat, beat, oh ! so lively and quick ;
but this boy's heart is under a great weight,
and will never stir again ; this boy will never
run again, nor laugh, nor care for any thing ;
this boy isn't, he can't be Dudley Wylde ; '
and I felt so sorry for him I almost cried.
Then, all of a sudden, I remember I began
to work very hard. I picked up stones out
of the path, and carried them a great way
off, and worked till I was just ready to drop.
Then I took some flowers, and picked them
all to pieces, so curious to see how they
were put together, and I worked at that till
I was nearly wild with headache. Then I
sat very still, and wondered if that boy who
wasn't, couldn't be Dudley Wylde, was ever
going home ; and then I thought that per-
haps if he sat there a little while longer he
would die, and that was the best thing that
could happen to him ; for then he would
never hear any one say, — 'Where is Ber-
nard?'' So I sat there, in this queer way,
waiting for the boy to die, when I heard a
noise, and, looking up, saw " —

"Oh, what?" cried little Prue, clasping
her hands, — "a griffir, with claws?"


But Dudley could not speak, anl Bernard
went on: "It's too bad for 'Dud' to tell that
story, when he makes himself so much worse
than he really was. I was as much to blame
as he in that quarrel, and I ought to have
had my share of the misery. You see, when
he threw me over, my jacket caught on the
rough edge of the railing, and held me just a
minute ; but that minute saved me, for in
some way, I hardly know how, I swung in,
and dropped safely on the steps just under
'Dud.' Then I hurried into one of those
queer little places in the wall, and hid, for I
was angry, and meant to give him a good
fright ; and as I happened to have a little
book in my pocket, I began to read, and got
so interested that I forgot every thing till it
began to grow dark. Then I hurried down,
wondering that every thing was so still. But
when I saw 'Dud,'" said he, turning with
an affectionate glance to his cousin, " 1
was frightened ; for he was so changed I
hardly knew him, and I was afraid he was
dying. So I ran to him, and took him right
in my •arms, and called him every dear
name I could think of; but he only stared at
me, with the biggest, wildest eyes you ever


saw. ' Dud,' said I, ' dear old fellow, what is
the matter? don't you know me?' Then all
of a sudden ho burst out crying. Oh, girls,
you never cried like that, and I hope you
never will — great, big sobs, and I helped
dim. Then he flung his arms tight around
my neck, and kissed me for the first time in
his life — kissed me over and over, my cheeks
and my hair and my hands ; and then he
laughed, and, right in the midst, cried as if
his heart would break, and I began to under-
stand that poor 'Dud' thought he had killed
me. Iso one knows how long we laughed
and cried and kissed each other; but, when
we grew a little calmer, we went back into
the old castle, and on the very steps where
we had our quarrel we knelt down, holding
each other's hands, and promised always to
love each other, and try to keep down oui
wicked tempers."

"And we asked some one to help us keep
the resolution," said Dudley, gently.

"Well, how is it?" said little Prue, with
a bewildered air. "Was it you and ' DutV
that went and knelt on the steps to pray?"

"Yes, 'Dud' and I."

"Well, then, what became of that other


wicked boy that wasn't Dudley Wylde at

Another shout covered poor Prue with con-
fusion, as Bernard answered, —

"Would you believe it, you dear little
Prue, we have never seen any thing of him
(torn that day to this."



They had been skating all the afternoon,
boys and girls together, on the great pond
back of the village, and had the " greatest
fun," as even little Prue would have told you,
although there hadn't been five minutes of
the whole time when her head and feet
hadn't been contending as to which should
be uppermost. But now, just at dark, they
were all gathered together warming them-
selves around the great lire in Flaxy's com-
fortable kitchen, and Flaxy's kind mother had
asked them all to stay to tea. Now, while
they were waiting for the nice short-cake to
get quite brown, Dick Bloom suddenly cried—

" How long it is since we have had a story !
Isn't there time to tell one before tea? "

This suggestion met with the usual im-
mense favor, and there were various cries for
Madge, Bcttine, and Bernard. But at the
first pause little Prue broke in, —

frue's golden rule. 35

"I think some one might ask me to tell a

"Don't be a goose, Prue!" cried Dick, in
the complimentary style brothers use to their

But Bernard said, "I vote for little Prue.
If she has a story to tell, let us hear it by all

" Well, I can tell a story," said Prue, with
a slightly offended air, " all about myself, and
I won't get it mixed up with another girl that
icas me, and wasn't either."

"Good!" cried Dudley, joining in the
laugh at his expense. " Go on, little one.
We are all ears, as a highly respectable ani-
mal once remarked. Come sit on my lap and
tell your story."

"You didn't sit on mine when you told
yours, did you?" asked Prue with dignity.

" No ; that's a clincher, you terribly sharp
little Prue!" said Dudley, with a comical,
crest-fallen air, and little Prue, smoothing her
apron, began her story.

" I suppose I must tell something true about
myself, and just as bad as it can be."

"Yes; that seems to be the fashion," said
Dudley; * but I'm almost afraid to hear u a


worst about you. Suppose you give us the
next worse."

But Prue, disdaining the interruption, went
bravely on. " You all know wlien I went to
visit Uncle Seymour last fall ? "

"Oh, yes," said Bernard; "we were per-
fectly inconsolable."

"Well, perhaps you didn't know that I had
a cousin there, a little bit older than Dick,
and just the greatest tease in all the world.
Indeed," said little Prue, with a confidential
air, "I don't think he always did quite right.
I remember the very first day I got there, and
unpacked my three dolls, he made believe he
thought they were beautiful, and that he
loved 'cm just as well as I did, and after-
wards, when I was ' playing church ' with 'em,
he got me to baptize (a very wrong and
wicked thing for any child to do, at least after
he is told better, as we have no right to
'play' such a sacred thing as that) all the
poor things in a pail of water, and then, do
you know, their pretty red cheeks all ran in
streaks, and ore had her eyes washed out, so
that I've had to call her ' blind Jenny ' ever
since. I felt very bad about this, but I tried
not to be angry, and we got along pretty

prue's golden rule. 37

pleasantly together, till one day uncle brought
tnc two beautiful little kittens, one white and
one black, and I used to call the black one
Jeff Davis, and the w T hite one McClellan.
You. never saw such cunning kittens. They
would set up their little round backs, and
curl their funny little tails, and make a great
scamper for the other side of the room, roll
ing over and over each other like soft little
balls. Well, just about this time, Joe — that
was his name — was very busy making a little
painting. You see, he was very fond of draw-
ing, and just with a piece of charcoal he
could make two or three little scratches on
the garden fence, and there would be a horse,
or a cow, or, may be, a great hungry lion, just
ready to roar. Well, uncle was so proud of
Joe, and Joe was so glad to have him proud,
that he was making a lovely little picture all
secret up in his room, and he meant to give
it to uncle on his birthday. He worked very
hard on it, but just the day before the birth-
day, when it wasn't quite finished, uncle sent
him on an errand way out in the country, so
he'd have to be gone almost all day. Poor

« t No^y I can't finish it any way,' said he


to me when he went out of the door ; ' and it
was all done except a little piece of the
ground, and one wash over the sky to make it
look a little more like a sunset.'

" Then he bit his lip, and went away, and
I felt so sorry for him. After a while, I went
up to his room, and took out the picture. It
did seem too bad that he had to leave it, and
I couldn't help thinking how pleased he would
be if he could come home and find it all
done. Then I thought of the « golden rule,'
' Do unto others as you would that they
should do to you;' and though I was half
crazy to play with 'Mac' and 'Jeff' I just
took out the box of colors, and made up my
mind to finish the picture."

" Oh, Prue ! How could you ? " groaned
Dick, while Bernard and Dudley choked be-
hind their handkerchiefs.

" Well, it was hard," said little Prue com-
placently, " but I put Jeif and Mac out of
the room, and painted as hard as ever I could
almost all day, and I made a lovely red cloud
\n the sky, and the grass was the brightest

" The kindest little Prue ! " murmured Ber-
narl, in a smothered voice.


"Weil, now, would you believe it," said
Prue, with a troubled air, " when Joe came
home, and saw it, instead of being pleased,
lie stamped his feet, and tore the picture right
in two, and was so very angry, that I went
away and cried till I thought my heart was
broken. I never could tell the reason why
he acted so."

"I can't imngine, I'm sure," said Dudley.

"But he felt very sorry afterwards," con-
tinued little Prue, " and we kissed and made
up, and then he began to paint another pic-
ture, and told me not to toucli it, because he
wanted it to be all his own. But now comes
the saddest part of the story."

Bernard and Dudley drew their handker-
chiefs with anxious, lengthening faces.

" One day, while Joe was painting, he was
called away in a great hurry, and he just left
every thing careless on the table. How it all
happened I don't know, but I suppose first
the wind blew the paper oif the table, and
the next thing I knew, there was Jeff and
Mac dragging the picture around, biting il
with their sharp teeth, and scratching it with
their claws. I chased after, and got it just
as quick as I could, and just then Joe came


up with a great cry, and said it was all ruined
and spoiled. I couldn't begin to tell you how
mad he was then. He said he just hated me
and my two horrid little kittens, and then he
slammed the door, and I didn't see him again
that, nisrht.

"You may know I scolded 'Mac' and
1 Jeff' well, and tied their fore-paws together,
to punish 'em. But they didn't seem to mind
it at all, and in a few minutes they had slip-
ped off the string, and were chafing each
other's tails just as gay as ever. Poor little
kittens ! I don't believe they knew any better.
But the next morning when I woke up," said
Prue, with a little tremble in her voice, " what
do you think I saw hanging from the tree
right in front of the window ? "

" An apple ! " suggested Dick, triumphantly.

" ISTo," said Prue, with a mournful shake, " it
was my two precious little kittens, hung up
by their necks, every bit dead ! "

"Now that was too bad," cried all the chil-
dren together. "What did you do?"

" Why, first 1 cried, you know, — I had to ;
and then I staid up in mother's room, and
let all my dolls have the measles but I
couldn't forget it all I could do ; an«? when I

prue's golden rule. 41

came down stairs, just before ten, and saw
Joe lying aleep on the sofa, I felt so angry,
Oh, 50 angry, that I thought I should like to
choke him just as he did poor little 'Mac'
and 'Jeff.' So I went and got the string I
played ' cat's cradle ' with, and put it softly
around his neck."

" Oh, you dreadful little Prue," cried Ber-
nard, clasping his hands ; " don't tell us you
really meant to kill him ! "

"I don't quite remember," said innocent
little Prue, " but I think I did. I think I felt
a good deal like that boy that wasn't Dudley

" Who ever would have thought it ? " ejac-
ulated Bernard.

" Now, Prue, that's a likely story," cried
Dick. " You kill him ! why, you cried like
a baby when little Tom only pulled the wings
off a fly."

But little Prue quite insisted that she was
very bad, only admitting that perhaps she
wouldn't have killed him, if she found it was
going to hurt him very much.

"Well, what happened next?" asked

" Well, you know he woke up all of a sud-


den, and caught my hands, and when he
fourd I was going to kill him, he was so
frightened that he shook all over, and run his
head into the sofo cushion, and then he got
right down on his knees, and asked my par-
don, and begged me not to do it, and — well,
I was so sorry to see him so frightened that I
couldn't help forgiving him, and telling him
I would never kill him again as long an he
lived. Then I ran away by myself, and felt
so very bad to think I had been so wicked,
that I thought I could never be happy again
till I had done something kind for Joe. I
tried ever so long to think what would please
me most, if Zwas going to have a present,
and once I had about made up my mind to
dress my biggest doll, Victoria, in her best
clothes, and give her to Joe. Then I thought
some way there seemed to be something
wrong about the ' golden rule,' the last time
I tried it with Joe, and I didn't at all know
what to do, till all of a sudden I remembered
that grandpa gave me half a dollar when I
came from home, so I got it, and ran down
street as fast as I could go, and bought Joe
a splendid knife, with six blades."

pbue's golden rule, 43

" The darlirgest little Prue," murmured

" Well, you never saw any one so glad as
Joe was. He kissed the knife, and he kissed
me, and I almost thought he was going to
cry. I hadn't the least idea he wanted a knife
so much. Then he said something queer
about that I ' had killed something, if I hadn't
killed him ; and he was going to try to be
like me ^ and I said, ' Oh, no ! I'd a great deal
rather you'd stay a bog.'' Then he laughed,
and kissed me again, and ever since we've
been just the best of friends, and Christinas
he sent me the loveliest book, and in it was
— ' For dear little Prue. Of such is the
kingdom of heaven,' — though I'm sure I
don't know what he put that verse in for.
He must have known that I learned it ever
so long ago. Now that's all the story," said
little Prue, complacently. " Wasn't it just
as good as anybody's?"

" Yes, a good story," said Dudley, gravely,
" but I'm afraid it'll have a bad tendency. I
can't see a moral anywhere; and I've got so
confused, since I sat here, I'm afraid I shall
be terribly suspicious of the 'golden rule' all
the rest cf my life."


"Dear me," said little Prue, with a quiver-
ing lip, " I didn't mean to be so bad. Can't
any one fix on a moral ? "

« Yes, Moppet," said Dick, « I'll do it. If
you're angry with any one, instead of killing
him, it's better to buy him a jack-knife, and
then he'll live, and send you a ' lovely book *
at Christmas."

Prue looked troubled.

" Never mind, darling," whispered Bernard,
" it's a dear little story, and I'm sure I think
more of the c golden rule ' than I ever did in
my life."

" Come, children, tea is all ready," cried a
pleasant voice from the dining-room; and
little Prue, greatly comforted, rode in trium-
phantly upon Bernard's shoulder.

Helps for Girls. Page 45




Little Prue had been very sick, but had
so far recovered as to sit up in the big arm-
chair — wrapped in so many blankets that
she looked like a quaint little mummy —
and receive the visits of her friends. So one
bright afternoon they came in a flock, each
kind hand bringing a present to make rosy
pleasure dance in the little pale cheeks.
Madge had an orange, Bernard a bunch of
hot-house grapes, Flaxy a wonderful "pic-
ture-book," Bettine a kitten as handsome as
if Hermann had rubbed "Mac" and "Jeff"
into one, and finally, teasing Dudley, after
looking over all the room, and pretending as
great surprise at discovering Prue in the
blankets as if she had been a needle in a hay-
stack, drew up his chair, and whispered con*
(identially, —



"You see, 'Dot,' I've been hard at work at
the 'golden rule' ever since I heard your
story, and to-day there is such a splendid
wind, I couldn't think of any thing that
would please me better than a magnificent
kite, with no end of tail, so I've bought you
one, though it has stripped me of my last
cent. See, here it is; and if you don't think
the tail is long enough, I've got Seward's cor-
respondence on the Mason and Slidell affair,
and we'll just make it up into tags, and then
I guess we can back that tail, for length,
against the world."

Poor Prue tried to be grateful, but looked
very blank.

"There, you don't like it!" said Dudley,
with an air of immense disappointment.
"Didn't you say that we ought to do to oth-
ers as" —

" Yes," said little Prue, hesitating ; " and
you're very good to me ; but you see little
girls don't fly kites much, and the next time
you give me any thing I'd rather you'd do
unto me as you would like to have me do
unto you, if you was me?

"Good!" said Dudley; "I just begin to
gee it." .


"Come," said Bernard, " you are taking up
too much time. Remember that 'Princess
Pearlypat ' is going to tell little Prue a story."

" Oh, how nice ! " cried Prue, clapping her
little thin hands.

"Wait a minute," said Dudley, fumbling
in his pocket ; " here's a doll that old Penny-
man on the corner persuaded me to buy, but
I'm sure I don't know what to do with it, un-
less the housekeej)er can melt up this head to
wax her linen thread, and perhaps stuff a pin-
cushion with these fussy yellow curls."

Little Prue uttered an exclamation of dis-
may at such a fate for those lovely pink
cheeks and golden ringlets, and involuntarily
stretched out her hands.

" Oh, would you care for it ? " said Dudley,
in great surprise. " Who would have thought
it ? You are very kind to take it off my hands.
What a good little Prue you always were.
Now don't do it just to oblige me."

Dear simple little Prue assured him that it
wouldn't trouble her in the least to take care
of the doll, and Dudley, professing great relief,
turned to blushing Bettine, alias " Princess
Peailypat," who was chosen orator for tha


" In the first place," began Bettine, " yon
must know that my big brother Frank called
me Princess Pearlypat, because I was like the
princess in a funny old German story, whose
hair was so bright and yellow that it looked
like a crown of gold. I wouldn't tell you this,
OJily that at the time of my story nobody
called me by any other name. A great many
years ago, when I was quite a little girl," —

"How many?" asked Dudley.

" Well," said Bettine, considering and col-
oring a little, " about three. I was standing
one Saturday night out by the gate, not feel-
ing good-natured at all. You see I had ex-
pected to spend all that day picnicking in
the woods, and instead I had just sat by the
play-room window, and seen it pour, pour,
pour, from morning till night. This was very
hard, and now, just at sunset, when it was
too late, the clouds all rolled away in a most
provoking manner, and, as I stood at the
gate, all the west grew like a great crimson
sea, the trees were all over diamonds, and
you would have thought the birds were just
going crazy. But I was very angry. 'It's
all very nice for you, Mrs. Robin,' I said,
4 who don't study fractions and geography


from Monday till Friday, and go to church
all day Sunday. You needn't feel a bit
disappointed about the rain, when you can
be playing about all day to-morrow, while J
sit cooped up in that high-backed pew with
old Miss Prim's big black bonnet bobbing
before me.'

"Just then, Paul Peyser came along. You
remember Paul, and what great friends we
used to be. He's gone away to school now.
Well, Paul and I had a long talk over our
grievances and disappointments. l It will be
a splendid day to-morrow,' said Paul, at last.
4 It will be too bad for you to be perched up
all day behind Miss Prim's bonnet.'

" ' I hate Miss Prim,' said I, feeling that I
must be angry with somebody.

" ' Yes,' said Paul, ' I don't care if she is a
member of the church and going to be an
angel some day, she isn't n^ar as pretty to
look at as a weed.'

" Then we both laughed at good old Miss
Prim, and after a little more talk together,
we formed a very bad plan, as you will see
as I go on with my story. I must say I felt
rather uneasy about it, after I went into the
bou?e, and the next morning, when I told


mother that my head ached, so that I did not
feel like going to church, it was not quite a
story, for I had been tossing and rest 1 . ess all
night, and my head was very hot. So my
kind, mother bathed my forehead and dark,
cned the room, and, leaving me on the sofa,
told me to keep very still till she came home.
She was hardly out of the house, before Paul's
round face looked in at the window.

" ' Oh, you're there, are you, Princess ? all
right! Come on! Such a time as I had,
though ! I was such a fool as to play sick be-
fore breakfast, and I declare they didn't let

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Online LibraryLynde PalmerHelps over hard places : stories for boys → online text (page 2 of 10)