Mary Catherine Crowley.

Apples, Ripe and Rosy, Sir online

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not been modeled with an eye to beauty - was flat as the barn floor,
square at both ends, and entirely lacking in the curves which
constitute the grace of the seabird-like craft which are the delight of
yachtmen. Nevertheless, the boys were proud of it. It was their own:
they had built it themselves.

"There she is, complete from bow to stern!" exclaimed Jack, with a
satisfied air.

"Yes," responded Leo, admiringly. "But" - hesitating - "but - which is
the bow and which the stern, you know - eh?"

"Why, this end, stupid! Don't you see I've marked it with a cross?"
answered Jack.

"Perhaps I _am_ stupid," thought Leo; "for I don't understand now how
one end can be both. I wish Jack would be a little more particular
about explaining a thing. It's queer how few fellows are! They jumble
their words all up, and think that because _they_ know what they mean,
you ought to understand, of course."

"Well," observed Jim, quizzically, "she isn't quite as handsome as the
barges on the lake in the park, that float up and down, looking like
white swans. Yes, I guess she'll do."

"We didn't set out to build a gondola, to paddle children and nursery
maids around in," retorted Rob, with a withering glance. "She's a
good, serviceable boat, and safe - "

"Oh, safe as a tub!" agreed Jim, hastily, intending the remark as
conciliatory.

"Huh! Perhaps you never tried to pilot a tub," interposed Leo. "I did
the other day, just for practice, so I'd know how to row when the time
came to use this here punt - if that's what you call it. Jimminy! I
got tipped over into the creek, and a scolding besides when I went
home! I'd be sorry to have her act like that."

"A tub is a tub and a boat is a boat," said Jack, sententiously. "This
one couldn't tip over if it tried. Don't you see it's most square? In
fact, we didn't mean to get it quite so wide; but, after all, it is
better than those canoe-like things, which are always rocking from one
side to the other."

"What are you going to name it?" asked Jim.

Jack looked nonplussed. This necessity had not occurred to him before.
He appealed to Rob.

"Suppose," replied the latter, after mature deliberation, - "suppose we
call it the Sylph? There's a, story in the _Boys' Own_ about a
beautiful boat called the Sylph."

"Cricky! it looks about as much like a sylph as - well, as Mary Ann
does!" said Jim. Since the stout, good-natured cook was heavy, and
nearly square in figure, the comparison was amusingly apt.

"Do you remember the tents at Coney Island in summer, where a regular
wooden circus procession goes round in a ring, keeping time to the
music?" asked Leo.

"Yes, and by paying five cents you can take your choice, and ride on a
zebra or a lion or a big gold ostrich, or anything that's there. And
once we chose a _scrumptious_ boat, all blue and silver, and drawn by
two swans," responded Jim.

"Well, what was the name of that?" said Leo.

"I think the man told us she was known as the _Fairy_," answered Jim.

Again they looked at the boat and shook their heads. It would not do.

"I did not mean the name of the blue and silver barge, but of the whole
thing - the ring and all?" added Leo.

"Oh, the _Merry-go-Round_," said Jack.

"Why would not that be a good name?" argued Rob, pleased with the
sound, and, like many a person whose fancy is caught by the jingle of a
word, paying little attention to its sense.

"That is what I thought," began Leo, delighted to find his motion
seconded, as he would have explained in the language of the juvenile
debating society, which met periodically in that very barn.

"Why! do you expect this boat to keep going round and round when we get
it out into the middle of the creek?" said practical Jack, pretending
to be highly indignant at the imputation.

"No indeed," disclaimed Rob. "Only that she would go around
everywhere - up and down the stream, you know; and on an exploring
expedition, as we proposed."

"That is not so bad," Jack admitted. "Still, I think we could get a
better name. Let us see! The Merry Sailor, - how's that?"

"N - no - hardly," murmured Bob.

"The Jolly Sail - I have it: the Jolly Pioneer!"

"Hurrah!" cried Jim. "The very thing!"

"Yes, I guess that fits pretty well," acknowledged Rob.

"It's capital!" volunteered Leo.

And so the matter was finally settled. The _Jolly Pioneer_ was still
destitute of paint, but the boys were in so great a hurry to launch her
that they decided not to delay on this account. They carried her down
to the creek, and by means of a board slid her into the water. Jack
got into the boat first, while the others held the side close to the
bank. After him came Rob. Jim and Leo were to follow, but the _Jolly
Pioneer_ seemed to have dwindled in size, and did not look half so big
or imposing as when in the barn.

"Hold on!" cried Jack. "I'm afraid you will be too heavy. It won't do
to crowd at first. We'll just row gently with the current a short
distance, and then come back and let you have a turn."

Though disappointed, the little fellows did not demur, but handed him
the oars, and waited to see the two boys glide away. But, alas!
though the _Jolly Pioneer_ moved a little, it was not with the freedom
and confidence which was to be expected of her in her native element.
She seemed to shrink and falter, "as if afraid of getting wet," as Jim
laughingly declared.

"Hello! what's that?" exclaimed Rob, as he felt something cold at his
feet. He looked down: his shoes were thoroughly wet; the water was
coming in through the crevices of the boat.

"Pshaw!" cried Jack. "That is because it is new yet; when the wood is
soaked it will swell a bit. Hurry and bail out the water, though."

"But we haven't anything to do it with," returned Rob, helplessly.

"Oh, take your hat, man! A fine sailor you'd make!" Jack answered,
setting the example by dipping in his own old felt. Rob's was a new
straw yet. Unfortunately for its appearance during the remainder of
the summer, he did not think of this, but immediately went to work.
Their efforts were of no use: the _Jolly Pioneer_ sank slowly but
surely.

"Don't give up the ship!" cried Jack, melodramatically.

So as neither of the boys attempted to get out, and thus lessen the
weight, down, down it went, till it reached the pebbly bed of the
creek, and they found themselves - still in the boat to be sure, but
standing up to their waists in water. The worst of the mortification
was that the little fellows, high and dry on the bank, were choking
with laughter, which finally could no longer be suppressed, and broke
forth in a merry peal.

"What do you want to stand there guffawing for?" called Jack,
ill-naturedly. "Why don't you try to get the oars?"

Thus made to realize that they might be of some assistance, Jim and Leo
waded in heroically, unmindful of the effect upon shoes, stockings, and
clothing generally, and rescued the oars, of which poor Jack had
carelessly relaxed his hold in the effort to bail out the boat, and
which were being carried swiftly away by the current.

In the meantime Jack and Rob succeeded in raising the _Jolly Pioneer_
and hauling her up on the bank. While they stood there, contemplating
her in discouragement, and regardless of their own bedraggled
condition, who should come along but Uncle Gerald.

"Hie! what is the matter?" he called from the road, suspecting the
situation at once.

"Something is wrong with the blamed boat, after all!" Jack shouted
back, impatiently.

Uncle Gerald leaped over the low wall, which separated the highway from
the meadow, and was presently among them, surveying the unfortunate
_Pioneer_, which now did not look at all jolly, but wore a dejected
appearance, one might fancy, as if out of conceit with itself at having
proved such a miserable failure.

"There! I suppose he'll say, 'If you had not been so positive that you
knew all about boatbuilding - if you had come to me for the advice I
promised you, - this would not have happened,'" thought Jack; feeling
that (like the story of the last straw placed upon the overladen
pack-horse, which proved too much for its strength) to be thus reminded
would make the burden of his vexations greater than he could bear.

Uncle Gerald might indeed have moralized in some such fashion, but he
considerately refrained, and only remarked, kindly:

"Do not be disheartened. This is not such bad work for a first
attempt. The boat would look better if it were painted, and that would
fill up a few of the cracks too. As some of the boards are not
dovetailed together, you should have calked the seams with oakum."

"To be sure!" responded Jack. "How could we have had so little
gumption as not to have thought of it?"

"Oakum is hemp obtained from untwisting old ropes," continued Uncle
Gerald. "In genuine ship-building, calking consists in crowding
threads of this material with great force into the seams between the
planks. When filled, they are then rubbed over with pitch, or what is
known as marine glue, - a composition of shellac and caoutchouc. It
will not be necessary for you to do all this, however. Oakum is often
used for packing goods also. I dare say if you hunt around in the barn
you will find a little lying about somewhere. But, bless me, you young
rogues! Here you are all this time in your wet clothes. Leo, your
mother will be worried for fear you may take cold. Run home as fast as
you can and get into a dry suit. And you other fellows, come! We'll
take the _Jolly Pioneer_ back to the workshop without delay; and then
you must hurry and do the same."



IV.

Many days had not passed before the boys succeeded in making the punt
water-tight. Yet the carpentering still went on at the barn.

"What is all the hammering for now?" asked Mr. Gordon one afternoon.
"I thought the _Jolly Pioneer_ was in splendid trim and doing good
service."

"So she is," answered Jack. "But - well, she doesn't quite come up to
our expectations; so Rob and I have given her to the little boys. We
are building a larger boat for ourselves."

Upon the principle "Never look a gift-horse in the mouth," Jim and Leo
were not disposed to find anything amiss with the present. In the
first flush of their pride of possession they were quite jubilant.

It was shortly after this that Jim came in to dinner one day, tattooed
in a manner which would remind one of a sachem in full Indian
war-paint. There was a patch of blue low down on one cheek, a daub of
red high up on the other, a tip of chrome-yellow on the end of his
nose, and a fair share of all three upon his hands, and the sleeve of
his jacket as well.

"Why, my son!" exclaimed Mrs. Gordon, as this vision met her eyes.

"Can't help it, mother, - it won't come off. I've scrubbed and
scrubbed!" the little fellow protested, apologetically.

"Plenty of hot water and soap will prove effectual. But you must
persevere," she went on, good-naturedly. "But what is the reason of
this extraordinary decoration? Do you want to be taken for the
'missing link'?"

Mrs. Gordon was always good friends with her boys. She had a bright,
cheery way of talking to them, of entering into their plans. She
thoroughly appreciated a joke, even a practical one, when it was not
perpetrated at the expense of anybody's feelings. And the lads could
always count upon her interest and sympathy. It was not easy to impose
upon her, though. "I tell you, if a fellow tries, he is always sure to
get the worst of it!" Jim used to say.

"Ah, that is better!" said she, when Jim returned to the dining-room,
his face at last restored to its usual sunburnt hue, and shining from
the effect of a liberal lather of soap-suds, and his hands also of a
comparatively respectable color. "Now, do tell us what you have been
attempting."

"Haven't been attempting anything," he mumbled. "Leo and I were
painting our boat, that is all. We hurried so as to finish it before
dinner. I suppose that is the reason the paint got splashed around a
little."

Jim's temper had manifestly been somewhat ruffled by the necessity of
repeating the soap and water process. He frowned like a thundercloud.

Mrs. Gordon, however, always had great consideration for a hungry boy.
Without appearing to notice that Jim was out of sorts, she merely
remarked, while helping him bountifully to beefsteak: "You have painted
the _Jolly Pioneer_? How well she must look! I believe I'll walk over
to the barn after dinner and see her."

"Will you really, mother?" he exclaimed, brightening at once.

"Yes, certainly. What color did you choose?"

"Blue, with red and yellow trimmings," answered the boy, exultingly.

His mother smiled. She had inferred so. But Jim's ill-humor had
vanished like mists before the sun. The next moment he was explaining
to her the merits of various kinds of paint, and discussing the
question with Jack, in the best possible spirits.



V.

Jack and Rob took counsel with Mr. Sheridan in the construction of the
new boat, and very creditable and satisfactory was the result. The
ceremonies of the launch were now to be observed with as much formality
as if she were the crack yacht of the season, - "Barrin' the traditional
bottle of champagne, which it is customary to break over the bows of
the new skiff as she plunges into the sea," laughed Uncle Gerald; "and
that would not do at all for you, boys."

"No, sir," answered Jack, decidedly. "If it was as cheap and as
plentiful as soda-water, we wouldn't have it."

"I am glad to hear you say that," continued Leo's father, warmly. "It
is one of the best resolutions to start in life with."

"You know, we have joined the temperance cadet corps which Father
Martin is getting up," explained Rob.

"An excellent plan. I had not heard of it," responded the gentleman.
"Persevere, and you will find that by encouraging you in this, Father
Martin has proved one of the truest friends you are ever likely to
have. However, the old custom of christening a boat, as it is called,
may be carried out quite as effectively with a bottle of ginger-pop,
which Leo has stowed away somewhere in that basket. It is the part of
common-sense to unite true poetry and prose, just as we now propose to
combine a picturesque custom with temperance principles. So, boys,
hurrah for ginger-pop, say I!"

The lads entered into the spirit of his mood with great gusto, and
cheered hilariously. The basket was produced, and at this moment Mrs.
Gordon was seen coming across the meadow. "Just in time, mother!"
cried Jack, starting off to meet her.

"You must christen the boat!" vociferated all.

"And is that the reason why Uncle Gerald sent for me, and brought me
away from my morning's mending?" she exclaimed, in a tone which was
intended to be slightly reproachful, though she looked prepared for
anything that might be required of her; for Mrs. Gordon, somehow,
managed never to be so busy as to be unable to enter into the pleasures
of her boys.

"Yes," acknowledged Uncle Gerald; "and I have been doing my utmost to
delay the proceedings, so that you would not miss them. You see, Leo
and I have prepared a little surprise for the company."

After a comprehensive glance at the basket, which certainly appeared
well packed, she asked:

"And what is to be the name of the boat?"

"We have not quite decided yet, Mrs. Gordon," began Rob.

"No," interposed Jack. "We think _this_ ought to be the _Jolly
Pioneer_. We let Jim and Leo have the other boat, but we didn't mean
to give them the name too. We chose it, and we can't think of any we
like so well."

"Oh, keep it, then!" answered Jim, with a wave of the hand like that of
a stage hero resigning a fortune. (It was evident that the subject had
been broached before.) "We are quite able to choose a name ourselves;
we could think of half a dozen others if we wanted to, so you are
welcome to call your boat whatever you please."

The permission might, indeed, have been more graciously expressed; but
as Jim's words were accompanied by a good-natured smile. Jack wondered
if he might not accept it.

Mrs. Gordon stood, with the bottle in her hand, waiting for the
decision, but wisely refraining from comment; the boys always settled
their little disputes for themselves.

"Well, what shall it be? Speak!" she said.

"The _Jolly Pioneer_!" cried both.

The next moment there was a crash of broken glass and a dash of
ginger-pop on what was called by courtesy the bow.

"Bravo! The Jolly Pioneer is a new recruit enlisted into the
temperance cadet corps," said Uncle Gerald, laughing.

There was a shifting of planks by Rob and Jack, and in another moment
the little craft was dancing gaily upon the bright waters.

"Hurrah, hurrah!" cried the boys in chorus.

By turns they rowed a short distance down the stream and back. There
was no danger of sinking this time. Then they gathered under the tree,
where Mrs. Gordon and Uncle Gerald had unpacked the basket and set
forth a tempting lunch upon a tablecloth on the grass. As hunger is
said to be the best sauce, so good-humor sweetens the simplest fare.
Our friends enjoyed their sandwiches and doughnuts, and milk rich with
cream, as much as if a banquet had been spread before them. There was
plenty of fun, too; and though the wit was not very brilliant, it was
innocent and kindly, and served its purpose; for the company were quite
ready to be pleased at any one's effort to be entertaining or amusing.

After an hour or more, Mrs. Gordon announced her intention of returning
to the house.

"And I must be off also; for I have to drive two or three miles up
country, about some business," added her brother.

"We shall all have to leave now," said Jack. "Father Martin is going
to drill the cadets for a short time in the early part of the
afternoon."

"What arrangements have you made for fastening your boat?" asked Uncle
Gerald. "To guard against its being tampered with by meddlesome
persons, as well as to prevent its drifting away, you ought to secure
it to a stake near the bank by means of a padlock."

"We forgot to get one," returned Jack. "No one will touch it here.
I'll tie it to a tree with this piece of rope, so that it won't go
floating off on an exploring expedition on its own account."

The next day was Sunday, and the boys had no chance to use the boat
again until Monday after school. When they hurried to the spot where
it had been moored, alas! the _Jolly Pioneer_ was nowhere to be seen.

"Do you think she broke away?" asked Leo.

"Pshaw! The _Jolly Pioneer_ isn't a pony!" impatiently answered Jack.

"But the rope might have snapped," said Jim.

"No: the boat has been stolen," muttered Bob, gloomily.

"I don't believe that," continued Jim. "Perhaps some of the fellows
around have hidden her, just to plague us."

"I bet it was those Jenkins boys!" declared Jack. "Don't you remember,
Rob, how we made them stop badgering little Tommy Casey in the
school-yard the other day, and how mad they were about it?"

"Yes, and they swore they'd be even with us," answered Rob.

The Jenkins boys were the children of a drunken father, a slatternly
mother. Brought up in a comfortless, poverty-stricken home, without
any religious teaching or influences, what wonder that they became
addicted to most of the petty vices, - that they acquired an unenviable
reputation for mischief, mendacity, and thieving in a small way?

Jack's inference could hardly be called a rash judgment. A glimpse of
a derisive, grinning face among the neighboring bushes confirmed his
suspicions. Without a word he made a dash toward the thicket. His
companions understood, however, and were not slow to follow his
example. There was a crackling of the brambles, succeeded by a
stampede. Jack, with all his alertness, had not been quite quick
enough. With a jeering whoop, two shabby figures escaped into the road.

"The question is, where's the boat?" said Rob, as the party paused for
breath, finding that pursuit was useless.

They searched about in the vicinity without avail, but after some time
the _Jolly Pioneer_ was finally discovered half a mile farther down the
stream, entangled among a clump of willows, where the pirates, as Jim
designated the Jenkins boys, had abandoned it. To return to the place
from which they had taken the boat, in order to enjoy the discomfiture
and dismay of those against whom they had a grudge, was characteristic
of them.

"Good! I knew we'd find the boat all right!" began Leo, joyfully.

"By Jove! pretty well damaged, I should say!" cried Jack.

"Well, the paint is a good deal scratched, and the seats have been
loosened; but, after all, there is no great harm done," said Rob, more
hopefully.

Upon further examination, his view of the case proved to be correct.
He and Jack experienced but little difficulty in rowing back to the
original moorings, Jim and Leo following along the bank and applauding
their skill.

After this occurrence the _Jolly Pioneer_ and the _Merry-go-Round_ were
each fastened to a sapling, that grew near the water's edge, by chain
and padlock, which rendered them secure from interference.

And what merry times our friends had with them upon the creek that
summer! The _Jolly Pioneer_ proved worthy of its name, was always the
best of company, and led the way in many pleasant excursions up and
down the stream. The _Merry-go-Round_ was never far behind, and shared
the honors of all its adventures.

"I tell you now," exclaimed Leo, admiringly, one day when the lads were
preparing for a row, "I don't believe you'd find two such boats in all
the country about here."

A critical observer might have facetiously agreed with him, but the
boys were content with what they had, not being able to obtain anything
better; and is not that one way to be happy?

"Well, they may not be beauties," continued Jim; "and you can't exactly
call them racers; but, somehow, they keep afloat, and one can manage
them first-rate."

"And we've had enough fun with them to repay us for all the trouble we
had in making them," added Rob.

Jack laughed at the recollection.

"Yes," remarked Uncle Gerald, who had just come up, on his way to the
meadow pasture. "And I think, boys, you will all acknowledge that you
learned a good many useful things while building a boat."




A MAY-DAY GIFT.

I.

Early on the morning of the 1st of May, Abby Clayton ran downstairs,
exclaiming by way of greeting to the household:

"A bright May Day! A bright May Day!"

"It isn't very _bright_, I'm sure!" grumbled her little brother Larry,
who clattered after her. "There's no sunshine; and the wind blows so
hard I sha'n't be able to sail my new boat on the pond in the park.
It's mighty hard lines! I don't see why it can't be pleasant on a
holiday. Think of all the shiny days we've had when a fellow had to be
in school. Now, when there's a chance for some fun, it looks as if it
were going to rain great guns!"

"Well, it won't," said Abby, pausing in the hall to glance back at him,
as he perched upon the baluster above her. "It won't rain great guns,
nor pitchforks, nor cats and dogs, nor even torrents. It's going to
clear up. Don't you know that some people say the sun generally
shines, for a few minutes anyhow, on Saturdays in honor of the Blessed
Virgin?"

"This isn't Saturday," objected Larry, somewhat indignantly.

"Yes, but it is the 1st of May; and if that is not our Blessed Mother's
day too, I'd like to know what is!" said his sister.

"I don't believe that about the sun shining," continued Larry. "If you
are ten - only two years older than I am, - you don't know everything.
I'm going to ask mother."

The children entered the breakfast room, greeted their father and
mother, and then slipped into their places.

"Mother," began Larry, as he slowly poured the maple syrup over the
crisp, hot pancakes upon his plate, "is it true that the sun always
shines on Saturday in honor of the Blessed Virgin?"

"It is a pious and poetic saying," replied Mrs. Clayton. "But a
legendary sentiment of this kind often hides a deeper meaning. For
those who are devoted to the Blessed Virgin, there is never a day so
dark but that the love of Our Lady shines through the gloom like a
sunbeam, changing to the rosy and golden tints of hope the leaden
clouds that shadowed their happiness; and blessing the closing day of
life, which, to look back upon, seems but as the ending of a week."

Mrs. Clayton had hardly finished speaking, when a long ray of yellow
light fell upon the tablecloth.


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