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awkward and limp in mind as the shoes do in feet. Still I believe in
adopting new ideas. I have never liked the appearance of boys, and I
never supposed that when you knew one it would be a pleasant
experience; but in the case of Tony Luttrell it is, and in the case of
Pink Chadwell it is almost so.

I don't know what Roxanne said to them all to explain her relations of
friendship with the heathen - myself - but it was funny to see how they
tried to please her by seeming to like me, only Tony didn't _seem_. He
offered me himself as a friend along with all the bites I cared to
take off the other side of a huge apple he was eating. I took the
bites and Tony at the same time with fear and trembling, but my
confidence in him grows every day. It grows in Pink, also, only much
more slowly.

Tony is long-legged and colty looking, with such a wide mouth and
laughing kind of eyes that the corners of your own mouth go up when
you look at him, and he raises a giggle in your inside by just a funny
kind of flare his eyes have got; but Pink Chadwell is different. Poor
Pink is so handsome that he is pitiful about it. He carries a bottle
of water in his pocket to keep the curl of his front hair sopped out,
but he can't keep his lovely skin from having those pink cheeks. Tony
calls him "Rosebud" when he sees that he has got used to hearing
himself called "Pinkie" and is a little happy.

The surprise to me was that the boys were so much nicer to me than the
girls when Roxanne adopted me; but then it didn't make so much
difference to them. The girls are always together in all of the
important things of their lives, while most of the time the boys just
forget all about us, unless they need us for something or we get ahead
of them in class.

"I'm so glad that you are going to stay and have lunch with us
to-day," Belle said to me the first time I let Roxanne beg me into
bringing my lunch instead of going home for it, as I had been doing
every day to keep from seeming to be so alone, eating all by myself
while they had spread theirs all together out on the side porch or
even out on the big flat stone when it was warm enough. "When Roxy
wanted to invite you, I felt sure you wouldn't come."

Some people have a way of freezing up all the pleasure that they can
get close enough to talk over. Belle is that kind. She made me so
uncomfortable that I was about to do some freezing on my own account
when Mamie Sue lumbered into the conversation in such a nice, friendly
way that I laughed instead.

"I hope you brought a lot of food, for I'm good and hungry to-day,"
she said. "I ate so many biscuits for breakfast that I left myself
only five to bring for lunch. Our cook makes the same number every day
and I just see-saw my lunch and breakfast in a very uncomfortable way.
So many biscuits for breakfast, so few for lunch!" That jolly, plump
laugh of Mamie Sue's is going to save some kind of a serious situation
yet, friend leather Louise.

If you are the kind of person that has dumb love for your friends, you
see more about them than folks who can express themselves on the
sacred subject. That lunch party with those five jolly girls out in
the side yard of the Byrd Academy gave me a funny, uneasy feeling, and
I now know the reason. Roxanne Byrd brought one small apple, two very
thin biscuits, and some cracked hickory nuts. She carefully ate less
than she brought. Something took my appetite when I saw her eat so
little, and there was a quantity of food left for somebody to consume,
and _she_ hungry. I was afraid we'd have to send for a doctor for
Mamie Sue after she had cleared my large napkin we spread to put it
all on. The Jamison biscuits are cut on the same plump pattern that
Mamie Sue is and all my sandwiches were good and thick.

But when Roxanne didn't eat I suffered. One of the most awful
situations in life is to have one of your friends be the sort of girl
that has a town named after her and wonderful family portraits and
such dainty hands and feet that shabby shoes don't even count, and
then to know that she is hungry most of the time from being too poor
to get enough food. For two days I have had to keep my mind off
Roxanne Byrd to make myself swallow one single morsel of anything to
eat. I suspected it at the school lunch but I was certain of it from
the way Lovelace Peyton consumed the first cooky I offered him over
the fence. Thank goodness, he has no family pride located in his
stomach, and when my feelings overcome me he is the outlet. I can feed
him anything at all hours and he is always ready for more. It may be
wrong to keep it from his sister when I know how she feels about it,
but I can't help that. I have to fill him up. His legs look too empty
for me.

But, to do Lovelace Peyton justice, he has got his own kind of pride,
and I understand it better than I do Roxanne's.

"For these nice eatings, I'll cut a cat open for nothing and let you
see inside what makes him go, if you get the cat," he offered, after
he had eaten two slices of buttered bread and the breast of half a
chicken out behind one of the lilac bushes in his ancestral garden
that is now mine.

Now, I call that a fair proposition, considering the circumstances,
and I wish I could make Roxanne be as sensible in spirit. But I can't.
Family pride is a terrible thing, like lunacy or hysterics when a
person gets it bad.

However, I decided to talk to Roxanne about her financial situation,
and I began as far off from the subject as I could, so as to approach
it with caution.

I made a start with a compliment. A sincere compliment is a good way
to start being disagreeable to a person for her own benefit.

"Roxanne," I said, with decided palpitation in my heart that I kept
out of my voice, "you didn't know, did you, that you are one
fifteen-year-old wonder, done up in a feminine edition with curls and
dark eyes? How do you manage it all?"

"I'm not, and I don't," answered Roxanne with a laugh as she drew a
long needle across a mammoth darn she was making on the knee of a
stocking which was quite as small as the darn was large. "I don't
manage at all; everybody will tell you so. Miss Prissy Talbot says she
can't get to sleep at night until twelve o'clock because she has to
pray about so many things that might happen to us poor forlorns if she
didn't. I am mighty thankful to her, for I don't have time to pray
much. I am so tired when I go to bed. I just say 'God, you know,' and
go to sleep. He understands, 'cause Miss Prissy has told him all about
it beforehand."

"I just guess He does - without Miss Talbot's telling Him either," I
answered as I came and sat on the front steps beside Roxanne. "And
another thing, Roxanne - I - er, I don't quite know how to say it - but
you - you talk like you are - that is, you seem to be friends with God
just like you are with Tony Luttrell and Belle and Miss Prissy and the
Colonel - and me," I continued with embarrassment.

"I am," answered Roxanne, with beautiful positiveness. "I decided to
have Him for one of my friends 'most two years ago after Father and
Mother died almost together. When Douglass told me that we would have
to sell Byrd Mansion and move down here in this old cottage that had
been great-grandfather's gardener's house, with only Uncle Pompey to
help me take care of it and him and Lovelace Peyton, he asked me if I
couldn't stand by. I held my head up just as high as great-grandmother
Byrd does in her portrait and said: 'Yes!' 'Then God help you,' he
said, and he hugged me up under his chin. Then we all moved; and God
_has_ helped."

"He must have," I answered devoutly, meaning what I said. And as I
spoke something in me was loosened and I felt a wonderful difference
about God. The God that a governess explains out of a book to you and
the One that really comes down and helps a girl friend so that she can
speak of Him with confidence as a friend, are two distinct people. I
am going to feel about Him as Roxanne does and speak of Him when I
want to and write about Him to you, Louise, just as I do about all of
the other interesting inhabitants of Byrdsville.

"Oh," laughed Roxanne, as she snipped a thread and began to
cross-stitch the mammoth cavern, never dreaming of the momentous
resolve she was interrupting in my heart, "it is not so bad this year,
because Lovey has got so nice and steady on his feet and doesn't put
things in his mouth any more. Now he is so busy hunting and doctoring
his 'squirms' as he calls them, that I have lots of free time to mend
and darn and work. Of course, it is hard to have him keep them in his
apron pocket and always carrying them in his hand when he hasn't a
bottle that smells bad to carry. Just yesterday he brought a queer
kind of - Oh, what do you suppose he has found now?"

And with the fear and trembling that all girls have the right to feel
of "squirms" both Roxanne and I sat petrified while Lovelace Peyton
came around the house at full gallop and drew up in front of us on the
brick walk. His face was streaked with mud, and in one hand he held an
old tomato can and in another a dangerous-looking pointed stick.

Lovelace Peyton is freckled and snub-nosed and patched in various
unexpected places and his eyes were sweet like Roxanne's as they
flared with excitement when he paused for breath before he unfolded
his tale of the adventure from which he had just arrived.

"Guess what crawl I have founded now, Roxy?" he demanded with
confidence that sympathy would be extended him over his good-fortune.

"I can't guess, Lovey, but please don't let it out," answered Roxanne
with the expected sympathy slightly tinged with entreaty in her voice.
I moved down one step so as to be nearer the capture, for Lovelace
Peyton's enthusiasm was contagious.

"It's a chicken sk-snake," he proclaimed proudly; and while both
Roxanne and I tucked our feet up under our skirts and squealed, he
drew with triumph a very fat, red fishing-worm out of the can and
displayed it, hanging across one of his chubby fingers. "It's a lovely
chicken-eating sk-snake," he said with breathless admiration.

"Y-e-s," I said doubtfully. "But it couldn't eat a chicken very well,
could it, Lovelace Peyton?" I asked politely, with my doubts of the
helpless red string hanging on his finger well under control. Roxanne
had gone back to her darning with relief plainly written all over her
face.

"This sk-snake could eat up five chickens or maybe more if you give
him time," defended his captor warmly.

"It - it looks rather small to be so savage, Lovey," argued Roxanne
mildly as she went on darning.

"It's sick some - wait till I put it in pepper tea," said Lovelace
Peyton as he lifted the worm.

"Ask Uncle Pomp what he thinks," advised Roxanne, hoping to get rid of
the squirm.

"I bet Uncle Pomp will be skeered to death of him," answered the proud
hunter as he took his departure around the house.

"Oh," sighed Roxy, "some day he will find a real snake and then what
will I do?"

"That is just what I was talking about, Roxanne," I said, returning to
my subject, which is the way my slow, methodical mind works in direct
contrast to Roxanne's way of forgetting one thing because of
enthusiastic interest in the next. "I don't see how you attend to all
of this, this - " I paused to find a name for Roxanne's tumultuous
household.

"Menagerie," Roxanne suggested, with a laugh that floated out over the
bed of ragged red chrysanthemums as sweet and clear as the note of the
cardinal in the tall elm by the gate.

"It's how you get your lessons and stay high up in your class I don't
understand," I answered, still using my compliment tactics. "I've only
known you less than a month, so it might be just luck that you got
first mention for your character sketch of Hawthorne in the rhetoric
class; but Tony says you always get it. You recite your German poems
like they were English, and you feel them as much as you do
Cassabianca. When do you study?"

"Never," answered Roxy with a ruthful smile; "but, Phyllis, in school
I listen. I have to. Just school hours are all I have; but I learn
lessons while they are being recited, and write exercises and things
in that one free hour I have at ten o'clock. If nothing like mumps or
whooping-cough happens to Lovey this winter or next, I believe I will
be ready to go to college with you and Belle and Mamie Sue and Tony
and Pink. I've asked Miss Prissy to be sure and pray away those mumps
and whooping-cough. I could manage measles."

"But you are just one girl, Roxanne, with the usual number of hands
and feet and eyes and things," I said, with an intention of bringing
things to the point of the embarrassing hunger. But my point was
reached in the conversation by Roxanne herself without my being quite
ready for it.

"Yes, I know that, but for a little while I have got to be several,"
she answered with a laugh. "Douglass has succeeded in the experiments
out there in the back yard, but he can't be certain of the process
until he tries it on a whole oven full of ore some night out at the
furnaces. He just works every minute he can get, all night sometimes,
and that is why I mend and darn and save and save - it costs so much
for him to get the things he needs out in his shop. Of course, I never
let Lovey or Uncle Pomp get really hungry, but Douglass and I do - that
is - " Roxanne stopped, for the pain _would_ come out on my face.
"Oh, Phyllis, not really hungry," she said mercifully, "but just tired
of corn-bread and molasses. Douglass kisses me and I kiss him good-by
in the morning and we pretend it is butter on his bread, like the poet
said. Please don't feel bad about it, Phyllis. It was cruel for me to
tell it when I am as happy as I can be."

"Well, you'll never be hungry again while I have two feet and hands to
'tote' food to you, as Uncle Pompey calls it," I answered with a
masterly control of that troublesome lump in my throat that I had
discovered for the first time since I began to love Roxanne Byrd.

"I couldn't let you do that - bring me food, Phyllis," said Roxanne
gently; and her little head with its raven black, heavy curls again
rose to the stately pose of the Byrd great-grandmother.

"I don't see why not," I answered bluntly.

"Taking food and clothes would be charity, and I couldn't do that. I
couldn't even let Miss Prissy give Lovelace Peyton any aprons, only I
did take some scraps of her pink gingham dress to piece him
with - that's why he looks like such a rainbow with his pink on blue.
Please don't be mad with me, Phyllis. I don't mind at all doing
without grand things to eat, but I can't - can't do without your - your
love," and Roxanne hid her head on my shoulder, much to my surprise.

"You'd better have my cookies and roast chicken," I muttered as I
shook her back into her own place again.

"The taste of love lasts longer than any kind of cake," answered
Roxanne with a comforted laugh. "And truly, Phyllis, it has been a
comfort to tell you all about it. It is hard to have to skimp like I
do and it makes a girl nervous to have to keep looking down at her
feet to be sure that a toe isn't poking out of the shoe since the last
time she looked, also to know that the last inch of hem is let out of
her dress and her legs are growing while she sleeps. I can take
Douglass's old shirts and make shirt waists for me and aprons of the
scraps for Lovey, and lots of things for Lovey out of his old
trousers, only he says that he has to wear them himself until he feels
ashamed of his appearance whenever he meets anybody; but my own skirts
are what seem the last straw, or rather the bricks that I haven't any
straw to make. The last one was made out of some dead Somebody Byrd's
black cashmere shawl, I don't know whose, but I can't see the next
even in the dim future."

"I heard Belle Kirby say that your white linen is the most stylish
dress in Byrdville, and I agreed with her," I said, with the emphasis
that truth always makes possible. "In fact, you always look different
from other people, Roxanne - like - like the town was named for you - as
it is."

"Oh, that linen dress is really a wonder, considering," laughed
Roxanne with pleased delight. "It is made out of a linen sheet that
came off one of my great-grandmother's looms, and I found it in an old
trunk. Miss Prissy embroidered it and helped me make it and a suit for
Lovey and a shirt for Douglass out of the other one of the pair. Uncle
Pompey helps me wash and iron all three of them every Saturday. He has
a necktie off of them, too, and Sunday we all go to church 'of a
piece', he calls it. Douglass says, when the Emperor of Germany
invites the great inventor and his family to come to court to meet the
royal family we are all going to wear our parts of the family sheets,
if only folded in our pockets like handkerchiefs. Sometimes in the
middle of the night, when something goes right in the shop, Douglass
comes in and wakes me up. I dress up in a blanket for a court dress,
and we wake up Lovey and play our royal visit. Do you blame me for not
minding washing and ironing and cooking and toe-poking or
dress-shrinking with a brother who is an idol like that?"

"No, Roxanne, I don't blame you. He - er - Mr. Douglass is worth it
all," I answered with controlled emotion. I thereupon adopted the word
"Idol" to use for him in private between you and me, good Louise. He
deserves it. "He is so perfectly grand that I step on my own toes
whenever I see from a long way off that I must meet him on the
street," I continued. "I turn a corner rather than speak to him. I
never intend to. The sight of him makes me so shy that it is agony." I
didn't in the least mind confessing such a feeling to Roxanne, because
she is the "Idol's" - it looks nice written - sister and will
understand.

"And all the time he is afraid that he will have to back up against a
fence sometime to hide his patches from you," laughed Roxanne in such
merriment that anybody with any sense of pleasant humor would have
joined her at the thought of the Idol and me dancing a minuet to keep
out of each other's way.

The way Roxanne feels about her brother is the way I feel about Father
even after I saw that article in the magazine. He is my father and
nobody is wholly bad. I always will love him devotedly and go to him
with my sorrows.

At night in the study of Roxanne's forefathers, before the log fire
where the fifth old Colonel Byrd used to entertain Andrew Jackson, I
told him all about that terrible starving that is going on down at the
little cottage beyond the garden.

"Well," said Father, in the voice I still think so noble and good and
that still comforts me, "we'll have to see to all that. When I bought
this place from young Byrd, I liked him better than any youngster I
had met in a long time, and I offered him a better place out at the
furnaces than he could fill. I have tried to have him advanced twice,
but the young stiffneck says he won't have more than he earns. Still
he gets a hundred a month and things ought not to be so tight down at
the Byrd nest. Wonder what he does with the money? He's not a gamer, I
take it."

"Oh, Father, no!" I answered, shocked that anybody should think that
of the Idol. "It's for the experiments that all the money goes.
Roxanne's so proud of him for the wonderful thing he has discovered
that she will starve herself to death, and him too, before all the
world hears about it, even the Emperor of Germany."

"Experiments?" Father asked, with a quick look that he has when
business and things interest him very much. "What experiments?"

"I can't tell you that, for you're the very person not to know," I
answered quickly, a little bit scared.

"Then don't," answered Father, looking me square in the face in a way
that I wished that magazine could have seen. "And if you have a secret
of importance, don't ever even hint it, Phil."

"I won't," I answered, glad to see that he wasn't going to ask any
more about it all.

"And, Phil," he continued, speaking slowly and looking at me as
lovingly as any father could look at a daughter, even a poor one, "you
go right ahead filling up the youngster and standing by the Byrds.
That's what I want you to learn - standing-by-ness. Have the other
'poor but prouds' thawed to you to any extent?" I had told Father some
of the ways Belle and the others had treated me, only not so as to
hurt his feelings about his money being the cause of it.

"Some of them have and the others are going to, I think," I said, even
more hopefully than I really felt about it.

"Here's hoping," said Father, and this time he did laugh.

A great resolve has come into my mind since this talk with Father. I
am going to reform him about money-making if it takes me all my life.
He is too good a man for God not to have in heaven. His honor must be
saved. Amen!




CHAPTER III


Miss Priscilla Talbot might by some people be called an old maid, as
she must be either a little before or after fifty years old; but if I
had to invent just one word to describe her darling self it would be
"precious."

Tony Luttrell calls all of the girls collectively and singly
"bubbles," which is both disrespectful and funny at the same time. But
real affection in any disrespect can keep it from being at all
wicked - and Tony's always is affectionate, especially when he insults
Miss Priscilla by calling her Miss Bubbles right to her face. Nobody
else dares to do it, but she likes it. It is a good thing that she is
fifty years young instead of old, for if she wasn't I don't know what
the Palefaces and Scouts would do without her. She lets Tony beg her
into doing everything with us so the grown-up people, like mothers and
fathers, will be deceived into thinking that we are being taken care
of, while the truth is that Miss Prissy is just as much trouble for us
to look after as Lovelace Peyton and we love her in exactly the same
way. We also love the Colonel a great deal for her sake, and to make
up for the way she treats him.

Miss Prissy lives just next to Roxanne, on the other side, and she is
such a comfort to her, though a great added responsibility. She
worries so over everything that Roxanne doesn't have that it gets on
Roxanne's nerves, as the people say when things make them cross. Not
that Roxanne ever is cross with Miss Prissy. But I made up my mind
after that first remonstrance that if Roxanne Byrd had the pluck to
let herself go hungry and cold and ragged for a great proud cause like
an inventor in the family, I was going to let her get all the fun out
of it she could and not mope over it. I still fill up Lovelace Peyton
so regularly that he is getting so fat I am afraid Roxanne will notice
and suspect something. I may have to diet him soon.

Roxanne and I were just talking about Miss Prissy and the poor Colonel
out on the front steps of the cottage when there came one of the proud
moments of my life. It's wonderful how Roxanne's enthusiasm can throw
such a magic over her shabby shoes and the little cottage with the
young green vines running over the eaves and old Uncle Pomp and a
darning bag full of ragged stockings, that you want to stay feeling it
forever and ever. It doesn't even take the rosy hue off the dream to
talk about Lovelace Peyton.

"Oh, Lovey will be a famous surgeon some day, I feel sure," Roxanne
said, as she began on another interminable job of stocking-patching.
"And Douglass is going to be a Supreme Judge of the United States
while I help him. Just as soon as the money comes we shall all go to
college, Lovey, Douglass, Uncle Pomp and I, to get ready for our life
work."

"What course will Uncle Pompey take?" I couldn't help asking, because
Uncle Pompey is so old he couldn't learn to turn one of his own batter
cakes the wrong way around.

"Domestic Science," Roxanne laughed back at her own self; and just
then Tony came in with his pie catastrophe that caused so much
trouble.

"You two hubbies, you had better lay aside the darning-needle and
seize the pie plate," he said, fanning himself with Roxanne's
scissors. "We've just decided in Scout Council to take the Palefaces
out to the Harpeth ridge to hunt spring shoots and roots, and we
always count on you for pies, Roxy, Stocking-darner."

"How lovely, Tony!" exclaimed Roxanne, rising right above the pies
which sank my heart like lead to think of her having to furnish; and
where would she get them? I was so dismayed that I never thought of
being embarrassed about being left out, as I, of course expected to
be; and so it came as a proud surprise when Tony asked me, in the
nicest way a boy could think of, to go with them. That is, he didn't


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