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light made the river and the green shores look
most beautiful. Miss Leicester suggested that
they should sail a little farther before going
in, and so they went as far as the next reach,
a mile above the camp, on the accommodat-
ing west wind. It was a last puff before sun-
down, and by the time Harry had anchored
the Starlight in deeper water than before, her
sail drooped in the perfectly still evening air.
Once on shore everybody was busy; the
spruce and hemlock boughs must be arranged
carefully for the beds and the tents pitched
over them before the August dew began to fall.

o o

Mr. Leicester was chief of this part of camp
duty, and Miss Barbara, who seemed to enjoy
herself more every moment, was allowed by
the girls to help, just that once, about getting
supper. It was growing cool and the fire was
not unwelcome, but by and by a gentle wind
began to blow and kept away the midges.
Betty began to think that there would be no-
thing left for breakfast by the time supper was
half through, but she managed to secrete part
)f her cherished buns, and reflected that it


would be easy to send to Eiverport for further
supplies even if breakfast were a little late.
Betty felt a certain care and responsibility
over the whole expedition, it was so delightful
to be looking after papa again ; and she was
obliged to tell him that he must not touch the


river mud any more, or he would not be fit to
go through the streets of Riverport next day,
at which Mr. Leicester, though deeply attached
to his old friends in that town, looked very
distressed and unwilling.

The darkness fell fast, and the supper dishes
had to be put under some bayberry bushes un-
til morning. The salt air was very sweet and
fresh, and it was just warm enough and just
cool enough, as Betty said. The stars were
bright ; in fact, the last few days had been
much more like June than August, and it was
what English people call Queen's weather.
Mary Beck said sagely that it must be because
Miss Leicester came, and then was quite
ashamed, dear little soul, not understanding
that nothing is so pleasant to an older woman
as to find herself interesting and companiona-
ble to a girl. People do not always grow away
from their youth ; they add to it experiences and


traits of different sorts ; and it is easy some*
times to throw off all these, and find the boy
or the girl again, eager and fresh and ready
for simple pleasures, and to make new begin*

Seth Pond had stolen out to the cat-boat on
some errand of his own which nobody ques-
tioned, and now there suddenly resounded the
surprising notes of his violin. It was very
pretty to hear his familiar old tunes over the
water, and everybody respected Seth's amia~
ble desire to afford entertainment, even if he
failed a little now and then in time or tone,
He had mastered several old Scottish and
English airs in the book Betty had given him,
and already had become proficient in some
lively jigs and dancing tunes, as we knew at
the time of Betty's first party in the garden.
The clumsy fellow had a real gift for music.
Some stray fairy must have passed his way
and left an unexpected gift. The little au-
dience on the shore were ready to applaud.,
and two or three boats came near, while some
young people in one began to sing " Bonny
Doon," softly, while Seth played, and, encour-
aged by the applause, went on more boldly, and


took up the strain again when Seth changed
suddenly to " Lochaber no more." Miss
Leicester was overjoyed when she heard such
fresh young voices sing the plaintive old air
jo readily. It had always been a great favor-
ite of hers, and she said so with enthusiasm.
Mary Beck was sorry that she never had
learned it, but by the time the last verse came
she began to join in as best she could.

" I '11 bring- thee a heart with love running 1 o'er,
And then I '11 leave thee and Lochaber no more,"

the words ended. Nobody who heard it that
summer night in the starlight by the river
shore would ever forget the old song.

" You must have influenced Seth's choice of
music," Betty's father said to Aunt Barbara,
who confessed that the droning of the violi
over cheap music was more than she could
bear at first, and she had been compelled to
suggest something in the place of " The Sweet
By-and-By ' and " Golden Slippers." Luck-
ily, Seth seemed to abandon these without

At last the boats all disappeared into the
darkness, and the little camp was made ready
for night. The open air made every one


sleepy but Miss Barbara, who consoled her-
self by thinking that if she did not sleep it
would be little matter ; she had been awake
many a night in her life and felt none the
worse. But in fact the sound of rippling water
against the bank and the sea-like sound of the
pine boughs overhead sent her to sleep be-
fore she had half time to properly enjoy them.
She and Betty declared that their thick-set
evergreen boughs and warm blankets made
the best of beds. They could see the stars
through the open end of the tent. One was so
bright that it let fall a slender golden track
of light on the river. Mary Beck thought
that she had never been so happy. Camping-
out had always been such a far-off thing, and
belonged to summer tourists and the remote
unsettled parts of country ; but here she was,
close to her own home, with all the delights of
gypsy life suddenly made her own. Betty and
Betty's friends had such a way of enjoying
every-day things. Becky was learning to be
happy in simple ways she never had before.
She went to sleep too, and the stars shone on,
and late in the night the waning moon came
up, strange and red ; then the dawn came


creeping into the morning sky, and one wild
creature after another, in the crevices of rocks
or branches of trees, waked and went its ways
silently or gay with song.

When Betty's eyes first opened she could
not remember where she was, for a moment.
Then she was filled with a sense of great con-
tentment, and lay still, looking out through
the open end of the tent across the wide still
river down which some birds were flying sea-
ward. It was most beautiful in that early
morning of a new day, and from beyond the
water on the opposite shore came the far
sweet sound of a woman's voice singing as
she worked, as if a long-looked-for day had
come and held great joy for her. She was
singing just as the birds sing, and Betty tried
to fancy how she looked as she went to and
fro so busily in one of the farm-houses.

Aunt Barbara did not wake until after Betty,
which was a great joy, and there was a peal
of delighted laughter from the girls when she
waked and found their bright young eyes
watching her. She complained of nothing, ex-
cept a moment of fright when she saw her
own bonnet at the top of a lopped fir which


had been stuck into the ground at the foot of
the bed, to hang her raiment on. Her wrap
had been put neatly round the tree's shoul-
ders by Betty, so that it looked like a queer
sort of skeleton creature with every sort of
garment on its sharp pegs of bones. Nobody
had taken the least bit of cold, and every,
body was as cheerful as possible, and so the
day began. Seth Pond had trudged off to
get some milk at one of the farm-houses, and
nad lighted a fire before he went and covered
it with bits of dry turf, which served to keep
it in as well as peat. Mr. Leicester com-
plained that he had found the tent too warm,
and so had rolled himself in his blanket and
spent the night in the open air. Evidently he
and Harry Foster had been awake some time,
and they were having a famous talk about
one of the treasured creatures in the muddy
wooden pail. Harry had managed to learn a
great deal by spending an hour now and then
in a famous old library in Riverport, in which
Miss Leicester had given him the use of her
share ; and Betty knew that her father was
delighted and surprised with the young man's
interest in his own favorite studies. She had


felt sure all summer that papa would know
just how to help Harry Foster on, and as she
watched them she could not help thinking that
she wished Harry were her brother. But then
she would no longer have entire right to papa.
" Come, Elizabeth Leicester ! ' said papa,
in high spirits. " I never had such a dilatory
damsel to make my first tent breakfast ! ' So
Betty hastened, and poked the fire nearly to
death in her desire for promptness with the
morning meal. After it was over Miss Leices-
ter sat in the shade with a book, while all the
rest went fishing and took a long sail seaward

That evening they went home with the tide,
in great delight, every one. Aunt Barbara
was unduly proud of her exploits and a sun-
burnt nose, and the younger members of the
party were a little subdued from their first
enthusiasm by all sorts of exciting pleasures.
As for Harry Foster, the lad felt as if a door
had been kindly opened in the solid wall of
hindrance which had closed about him, and as
if he could look through now into a new life.



Miss LEICESTER and her nephew, Betty's
father, were sitting together in the library.
Betty had gone to bed. It was her last night
in Tideshead, and the summer which had been
so long to look forward to was spent and gone.
She had felt very sorry before she went to
sleep, and thought of many things which might
have been better, but after all one could not
help being very rich and happy with so many
pleasures to remember. When she thought
how many new friends she had made, and how
dear all the old ones had been, and that she
tad become very friendly even with Mrs. Beck,
it was a great satisfaction. And now in less
than a fortnight she was to be with Ada and
Bessie Duncan and their delightful mother in
London again. She certainly had a great deal
to look forward to ; still there was a wistful
feeling in her heart at leaving Tideshead.


There had been a fire in the library fire-
place, for the evening was cool, and papa and
Aunt Barbara sat opposite each other. Papa
was smoking, as he always did before he went
to bed ; and happily Miss Leicester liked the
odor of tobacco, so that they were comfortable
together. They were talking most affection-
ately about Betty.

" I think you have done wonderfully with
her, Tom," said the aunt. " Nobody knows
how anxious your Aunt Mary and I have felt
at the thought of your carrying her hither
and yon, and spoiling her because she could n't
settle down to regular habits of life."

" The only way is not to let one's habits be-
come irregular," answered Betty's papa. " I
found out long ago that I could have my hours
for work and for exercise, and could go on with
my reading as well in one place as in another.
I have tried not to let Betty see too many people
in town life, yet pretty soon she will be sixteen.
She has always seemed to look at life from
a child's point of view until last spring. I
don't mean that she does n't still have many
days when she only considers the world's rela-
tion to herself ; but on the whole she begins to


be very serious about her own relatio^ to the
world, and is constantly made to thinly ^ore of
what she can give than of what she ,.#n get.
This is a very trying season in many ways, the
first really hard time that comes into a boy's
or a girl's life."

44 Yes, and one is constantly learning those
lessons in one way and another during all the
rest of one's life," sighed Aunt Barbara. Then
her face lighted up, and she added, " Just in
proportion as she thinks that she does things
for other people she is making steps upward
for herself."

" I always think that Betty looks like Bew-
ick's picture of the robin redbreast; you re-
member it ? There is an expression to its little
beak which always reminds me of my girl."

Aunt Barbara was much amused, but con-
fessed that she remembered it, and that Betty
and the bird really resembled each other. " I
think there is a very good print of it in the
large White's 4 Selborne ' which you sent me,"
she said, going to one of the bookshelves and
taking it down. " Yes, they are certainly like
one another," she repeated. " You see that
this copy has been used ? I lent it for a long
time to my young neighbor, Henry Foster."


" I am very much interested in that lad ! "
exclaimed Mr. Leicester. " I don't know thai
among all the students I can remember I have
seen one who strikes me as being so intent
and so really promising. Betty has written
about him, but I imagined that he interested
her because he had a boat and could take her
out on the river. I supposed that he was one
of the idle fellows who evade their honest
work, and, with a smattering of pretty tastes
which give them plenty of conceit, come to no
sort of use in the end. Betty knows enough
of my hobbies to talk about his fish a little,
and I thought it was all girlish nonsense ;
the truth is that she has shown real discern-
ment of character, young Foster is a fine

" Can you do anything for him ? ' asked
Miss Leicester. " I pity his poor mother with
all my heart. She is very ambitious for her
son. I wish that he could earn enough for


their needs, and still be able to go on with
some serious studv. Mrs. Foster and tho


daughter would make any sacrifice, but they
must have something to eat and to wear. I
cannot see how they can absolutely do with-


out him even if his own expenses are paid.
They will not accept charity."

" 1 could learn by talking with him this
evening that he is able already to take some
minor post in a museum. He would very soon
make up what he lacks in fitness, if we could
put him where he could get hold of the proper
books. He must be put under the right influ-
ences, for though he seems to have energy,
many a boy with an unusual gift gets stranded
in a small town like this, and becomes lesg
useful in the end than if he were like every.-
body else."

" I think it has been a great thing for him
to be developed on the every-day side, and to
have care and even trouble," said Miss Leices-
ter. " Now I wish to see the exceptional side
of him have a chance. I stand ready to help
at any point, you must remember."

" I can give him some work at once, wit\
the understanding that he is to study at Cam-
bridge this winter. I have plans for next-
summer in which he could be of great service.
We will not say too much, but keep our own
counsel until we watch him a little longer."

Aunt Barbara nodded emphatically, but for


her part she felt no doubt of Harry Foster's
power of keeping at his work ; then she pro-
posed another subject of personal concern, and
they talked a long time in the pleasant old
library, among the familiar books and pictures,
until the fire had given its last flicker and set-
tled quietly down into a few red coals among
the gray ashes.

Every one was glad to know that Harry's
collection of fishes and insects and his sci-
entific tastes had won great approval from a
man of Mr. Leicester's fame, and that the boy
was to be forwarded in his studies as fast as

Who shall tell the wonder of the town over
a phonograph which Mr. Leicester brought
with him ? In fact, the last of the summer
seemed altogether the pleasantest, and papa
and Betty had a rare holiday together. Aunt
Mary and Aunt Barbara, Serena and Letty,
and Seth and Jonathan were all in a whirl
from morning until night. Serena thought
that the phonograph was an invention of the
devil, and after hearing the uncanny little
machine repeat that very uncomplimentary


remark which she had just made about ft,
she was surer than before. Serena did not
relish being called an invention of the evil
one, herself, but it does not do to call names
at a phonograph.

"It was lonely when I first came," said
Betty, the evening before she was to go away,
as she walked to and fro between the box-
borders with her father, " but I like every-
body better and better, even poor Aunt
Mary," she added in a whisper. " It is lovely
to live in Tideshead. Sometimes one gets
cross, though, and it is so provoking about the
left-out ones, and the won't-play ones, and the
ones that want everything done some other
way, and then let you do it after all. But I
thought at first it was going to be so stupid,
and that nobody would like any of the things
I did; and here is Mary Picknell, who can
paint beautifully, and Harry Foster knows so
j many of the things you do, and George Max
is going to be a sea-captain, and so is Jim
Beck, and poor dear Becky can sing like a bird
when she feels good-natured. Why, papa^
dear, I do believe that there is one person in


Tideshead of every kind in the world. And
Aunt Barbara is a duchess ! '

"I never saw so grand a duchess as your
Aunt Barbara in her very best gown," said
Betty's papa, " but I have n't seen all the
duchesses there are in existence."

"Oh, papa, do let us come and live here
together," pleaded the girl, with shining eyes. '
" Must you go back to England for very long ?
After I see Mrs. Duncan and the rest of the
people in London, I am so afraid I shall be
homesick. You can keep on having the cubby-
house for a very private study, and I know
you could write beautifully on the rainy days,
when the elm branches make such a nice noise
on the roof. Oh, papa, do let us come some
time ! "

" Some time," repeated Mr. Leicester, with
great assurance. " How would next summer
do, for instance? I have been talking with
Aunt Barbara about it, and we have a grand
plan for the' writing of a new book, and hav-
ing some friends of mine come here too, and
for the doing of great works. I shall need a
stenographer, and we are "

w Those other people could live at the


Fosters' and Becks'," Betty interrupted, de-
lightedly entering into the plans. She was
used to the busy little colonies of students who
gathered round her father. " Here comes Mr.
Marsh, the teacher of the academy, to see
you," and she danced away on the tips of her

" Serena and Letty ! I am coming back to
stay all next summer, and papa too," she said,
when she reached the middle of the kitchen.

" Thank the goodness ! : said Serena.
" Only don't let your pa bring his talking-ma-
chine to save up everybody's foolish speeches.
Your aunt said this morning that what I ought
to ha' said into it was, ' Miss Leicester, we 're
all out o' sugar.' But the sugar 's goin' to last
longer when you 're gone. I expect we shall
miss you," said the good woman, with great

Now, everything was to be done next sum-

*/ o

mer : all the things that Betty had forgotten
and all that she had planned and could not
carry out. It was very sad to go away, when
the time came. Poor Aunt Mary fairly cried,
and said that she was going to try hard to be
better in health, so that she could do more


for Betty when she came next year, and she
should miss their reading together, sadly ; and
Aunt Barbara held Betty very close for a min-
ute, and said, " God bless you, my darling,"
though she had never called her "my dar-
ling ' before.

And Captain Beck came over to say good-
by, and wished that they could have gone
down by the packet boat, as Betty came, and
gave our friend a little brass pocket-compass,
which he had carried to sea many years. The
minister came to call in the evening, with his
girls ; and the dear old doctor came in next
morning, though he was always in a hurry,
and kissed Betty most kindly, and held her
hand in both his, while he said that he had
lost a good deal of practice, lately, because she
kept the young folks stirring, and he did not
know about letting her come back another

But when poor Mrs. Foster came, with
Nelly, and thanked Betty for bringing a ray
of sunshine into her sad home, it was almost
too much to bear ; and good-by must be said
to Becky, and that was harder than anything,
until they tried to talk about what they would


do next summer, and how often they must
write to each other in the winter months be-

" Why, sometimes I have been afraid that
you did n't like me," said Betty, as her friend's
tears again began to fall.

" It was only because I did n't like myself,"
said dear Becky forlornly. It was a most sad
and affectionate leave-taking, but there were
many things that Becky would like to think
over when her new old friend had fairly gone.

" I never felt as rf I really belonged to any
place, until now. You must always say that
I am Betty Leicester of Tideshead," said Betty
to her father, after she had looked back in
silence from the car window for a long time.
Aunt Barbara had come to the station with
them, and was taking the long drive home
alone, with only Jonathan and the slow horses.
Betty's thoughts followed her all along the
familiar road. Last night she had put the
little red silk shawl back into her trunk with
a sorry sigh. Everybody had been so good
to her, while she had done so little for any

But Aunt Barbara was really dreading to


go back to the old house, she knew that she
should miss Betty so much.

Papa was reading already ; he always read
in the cars himself, but he never liked to have
Betty do so. He looked up now, and something
in his daughter's face made him put down his
book. She was no longer only a playmate ;
her face was very grave and sweet. " I must
try not to scurry about the world as I have
done," he thought, as he glanced at Betty
again and again. " We ought to have a home,
both of us ; her mother would have known.
A girl should grow up in a home, and get a
girl's best life out of the cares and pleasures
of it."

" I am afraid you won't wish to come down
to the hospitalities of lodgings this winter,'
said Mr. Leicester. " Perhaps we had better
look for a comfortable house of our own near
the Duncans."

" Oh, we 're sure to have the best of good
times ! " said Betty cheerfully, as if there were
danger of his being low-spirited. u We must
wait about all that, papa, dear, until we are in



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Online LibrarySarah Orne JewettBetty Leicester → online text (page 13 of 13)