FINDING A GIANT.
" MOTHER, did you mend my mittens ? These are all in holes now " ; and Rob held up his hands.
" I was so busy yesterday, and then going out in the evening "
"' Here they are," said Kathie ; "I did it last night."
" Tall darning " ; and Rob laughed incredulously. " Aunt Ruth showed me."
"Why, mother, look; she did it splendidly,as nice and thick as yours. I hate thin darning; it comes out right away." Rob gave her a boisterous hug and kiss.
" Mamma, have you seen my basket ? I can't find it anywhere " ; and Kathie looked disconsolate.
"Did n't you put it on the shelf? "
" It is n't there," was Kathie's reply.
" Think what you did do with it then. You came directly home from school, did n't you ? "
' Yes, mamma."
" Well, I don't see it anywhere; I hope you have not lost it."
Kathie looked sober. " I believe I did leave it at school, mamma," she said, at length. " I ran out to speak to Mary Cox, and then I forgot all about it."
Kathie's eyes met Aunt Ruth's. "There 's one of the giants," she thought. " There's a battle to fight, just as I did last night, when I went 'back to the baker's. I'll try to remember. That must be my first work."
Mrs. Alston put Kathie's lunch in a napkin. She hurried to school, and was going straight to her desk, when she saw her basket hung on a high nail. That was a sign that it had been left out of place the preceding evening. Miss Moore would mark her now for having been careless.
Kathie took her seat very soberly. There were giants all around, it seemed; for she felt rather cross with Miss Moore when it was plainly her own fault. How -could she forget that she had put it somewhere around, and then not come after it! And she had resolved not to have one bad mark this quarter!
Sophie Dorrance rushed in and deposited her books on her desk.
" 0 Kathie, they 're beginning a snow-house! Come out; it'll be such fun."
" No," said Kathie, quietly; " I cannot just now."
" Why, are you sick ? "
" Why, then, are you angry with any one ? "
" I was very careless ; so I 'm going to sit here for a punishment, to make me remember another time."
" Who told you to ? "
" No one; I am doing it myself. I forget so easily that I must do something to cure myself."
" What an odd girl you are! What did you forget ?"
" My basket, yesterday ; and I left it out of place."
" 0, I would n't mind," said Sophie. " Come."
But Kathie would not yield. She was sorely tempted to when she heard the ringing laughs outside. Never were ten minutes so long. Then Miss Moore entered and spoke very pleasantly.
" How industrious you are, Kathie! " she said, with an approving smile; for Kathie had her book open.
Kathie colored a little. Her honesty and love of truth would not admit of her receiving praise when she had done nothing to merit it
" It was n't that. Miss Moore. I was careless about my basket yesterday, and I thought if I deprived myself of some pleasure I should be more likely to remember it."
Miss Moore sat down beside her. "What made you think of this, Kathie ? "
Kathie colored a little. "I was talking to Aunt Ruth last night about fairies and giants, and she said our faults were like giants, and that we must fight them."
" And so you have begun? "
" I wish I could remember better; I forget so easily."
" There is no way but by taking pains. I think you will succeed." Then she gave her another sweet smile, and rang the bell. .,
At recess she enjoyed the snow-house wonderfully. The boys were making square blocks of snow, pressed together as hard and solid as they could get it. They had quite a number piled up. The girls helped, laughing as merrily as the boys. Recess seemed much shorter than Kathie's moments of penance in the morning.
The snow-house progressed rapidly. All through the noon intermission the children worked, and then remained a little while after school. But presently Kathie said softly to Rob, " I think we ought to go home now. Mamma does n't like to have us stay very long after school."
" Fudge! " exclaimed Rob. " We don't build snowhouses every day. There's nothing to do at home. I shall go right off and play again."
Kathie wished she was a boy. She could think of ever so much work to do, but boys certainly did have more time to play. They could n't sew, nor put the house in order, nor set the table. Suppose she stayed just this afternoon!
" There's another giant," she said to herself. " And the prince who will come out to kill it is Obedience. Yes, I'll go right away."
" Good by, girls," she called out with a cheerful voice; " I must run home."
" 0 Kathie, that 's real mean not to stay and work on the snow-house," exclaimed one of the girls.
" Mamma needs me at home," she began, bravely, [t]hough she longed to stay.
" Nonsense! she can stay just as well as not," Rob exclaimed, a little vexed.
" No, I can't," said Kathie, " but I 'm sorry, and I 'd like to work on the snow-house."
" We won't let her go in it to-morrow then," said the first speaker,for children can sometimes be very ungenerous with one another.
Kathie winked away a tear, but was resolute. Rob told her to go off and not make a fool of herself. So Kathie ran as fast as she could to keep from feeling badly, and perhaps repenting.
"Mamma, is n't there something I could do for you ? " she said as soon as she had entered the room and hung up her bonnet and shawl.
" I 'm glad you came home so soon. Where are the boys ? "
Kathie explained that they were staying to work on the snow-house. Then her mother gave her some hemming to do, and Kathie found her thimble and sewed for nearly an hour.
" I wish the boys would come home," Mrs. Alston said at length. "Freddy will be half frozen. Rob ought to know better. And there's kindling-wood to split to-night. I 'm glad you have some consideration, Kathie."
The little girl glanced up and met her mother's fond smile. That was reward enough. She was quite satisfied now that she had missed the play, since she had been useful.
Rob did n't seem to feel very good-natured when he came home, and Freddy was so tired that he fell asleep in his chair before he could pull off his wet boots. His mother roused him, and he began to cry.
" I 'm so hungry," he sobbed out at length, his eyes still half closed.
" Freddy," his mother said, " if yon stay so late at school another night I shall have to punish you. I have told you a good many times that you must come home earlier, and I shall not speak of it again. Why did n't you come with Kathie ? "
"Mamma, I don't think I asked him," Kathie rejoined, quickly. " It is one of the things I forgot again, but I am trying hard to remember."
Her mother kissed her and smiled by way of encouragement, then told her to give Freddy a bowl of bread and milk and put him to bed.
He considered this very hard at first, but Kathie fed him in such a merry fashion that he soon became quite good-natured.
"Tell me another story," he begged, after she had tucked him snugly in bed.
" I can't to-night, Freddy. I must go and set the supper-table."
" Just a teeny little one, so long," measuring a little space with his fat hands.
" No, dear, I have not time; so good night."
" You 're a cross old thing! You never will do anything nice for me! " he returned, crossly.
Kathie thought this very unkind when she had been trying so hard to be patient, then she remembered that Freddy was only a. little boy, and very sleepy at that. Sometimes she had fancied mamma and Aunt Ruth cross when they refused her anything, and like a flash she understood how that occasionally compliance might be quite impossible and yet not unkind. It was strange how, when one began to think, one could see so much. So she made no reply, but, smiling softly to herself, shut the door. After the dishes were washed she glanced up with a bright face. " Is there anything else that I can do, mamma ? "
" The beans are to be picked over and put in water to soak for to-morrow."
" Baked beans ! Won't that be gay and festive ! " exclaimed Rob, who was trying to cut a ball-cover from the red lining of an old boot-leg.
Kathie always thought this very "poky" work, but somehow to-night it went very well. Then she looked over the dried cherries, and finally mixed the cakes for breakfast.
Rob, worn out with his arduous labors, dropped asleep upon the lounge, and Kathie quietly picked up his numerous " traps," for he had a boy's fashion of leaving everything around.
" You have been a kind, helpful little girl," Mrs. Alston said with her good-night kiss. " I am very thankful, for I was not feeling very well."
" Mamma," said Kathie, "' must you always work so hard, you and Aunt Ruth ? "
" We are poor, Kathie, and so we cannot afford to indulge in idleness, however pleasant it might be sometimes. But when my children are grown up and can work for me, I hope life will be a little easier."
Kathie sighed. If fairy godmothers only would come at one's wish! Well, she must be a fairy herself.
When Kathie went to school the next morning she was surprised to find a, palace sparkling in the sun. It had a grand turret at one corner which the boys had deluged with water, and from every projection hung icicles that glittered. like diamonds. How very beautiful it was ! Kathie stood in astonishment for a moment, then she entered the arched doorway. There was a table in the centre, and square masses of snow around the sides to represent chairs.
" Is n't it a beauty ? " asked Bob, exultantly. " We worked like Trojans last night, I tell you. That 's the handsomest snow-house that was ever made in this town, I know."
Rob did not remember the many hundred, schoolboys there had been before his time, and the snowhouses they had all made.
There were a few finishing touches to be added at recess, and then the children decided to eat their dinner in it. This arrangement was hailed with a shout of delight, and they settled themselves at once.
" Kathie Alston can't," said Lottie Thorne. " She ran off home, and would n't help work."
Several of the children turned towards Kathie, whose face reddened at this sudden onslaught. For a moment she stood quite still; then she walked away a few steps without a word.
" That 's mean of you, Lottie," exclaimed one of the larger boys. " Kathie did work awhile."
" I knew mother needed me," Kathie replied at length in a subdued voice. " It was right to go home."
More than one felt the force of Kathie's remark.
" Well, she can have all the fun, then, without doing the work," said Lottie, rather sulkily. " I don't think I'll help build another snow-house and have my hands half frozen."
At this instant the bell rang, which brought the dissension to an end.
" Kathie," Rob began, giving his elbow a thrust in her side to enforce his words, " I think you were a little fool ! I would n't have let Lottie Thorne talk to me in that way; and you stood and never said a word. What made you ? "
" I was killing a giant," said Kathie, soberly.
" A giant! " Rob opened his mouth as well as his eyes.
" Yes. I felt real angry at first, because I did n't go from laziness. I 'd like to have stayed, but I was glad to think of mamma in time. Aunt Ruth told me that our bad tempers were like giants, and that Jack in the fairy-book was n't the only one who set out to kill them. I want to remember, and I don't want to get angry. That's two."
" Humph ! " said Rob, rather disdainfully.
The children took their seats and went to work. The last hour was devoted to arithmetic. Kathie ciphered away industriously. One after another the children read their answers.
Miss Moore called the names of those who were wrong. They would have to stay in and do their sums over. Lottie Thorne's was amongst them.
Kathie passed her in going out and felt real sorry as she caught a glimpse of the disappointed face. She paused half a moment beside her.
Lottie was rather selfish, and. was glad to have any one assist her. Kathie did occasionally, but she felt quite awkward about it now. She summoned courage presently, and said, " Can't you find your mistake, Lottie? These long-division sums are real bothering."
" It's too bad! I 've been all over it once. Bear! when any one is in a hurry " And Lottie's blue eyes seemed to indicate a shower.
" Let's look again," said the cheery voice. " Why, here, in the very beginning, you didn't carry, you see."
" And it's all to do over, this great long sum! "
Lottie's tone was despairing, and she surveyed it in utter dismay.
"That won't get it done," said Kathie, with a bright smile; so at it they went in good earnest.
" That's right," exclaimed Miss Moore, glancing it over.
" Kathie, you are the best girl I know"; and Lottie gave her a fond squeeze. "If any one had been as cross to me as I was to you this morning, I would n't have spoken to her. I 'm real sorry."
"Never mind," said Kathie, hunting up her hood. " Only it was hard to go home yesterday, but I knew mamma needed me."
So the two girls went out to the snow-house. " It was better to be pleasant," Kathie thought, and she determined to make war upon her giants whenever they dared to show themselves.
The children had a delightful play, only it was so short.
"If we could all come to-morrow," exclaimed Charlie Darrell. "Wouldn't it be fun to stay the whole afternoon and have a regular good time ? Who'll be here ? "
" I! I!" shouted a chorus of voices, Rob's loudest amongst them.
Kathie was silent; should she promise or not? Saturday was always such a busy time. But how delightful it would be to come!
" You'll be sure to ? " Charlie Darrell said to Kathie, lingering a little behind.
"I can't tell for certain."
" What's the matter ? You would n't ride on my sled the other night, and you don't want to play very much. What makes you so queer ? "
Queer! When she was trying so hard to be good and thoughtful, and from. Charlie Darrell too! Kathie's heart was up in her throat.
" Am I very queer ? " There was the least little tremble in her voice.
" You 've always been so good-natured and full of fun, and now you seem so sober."
" I want to be just as good-natured and pleasanter than ever before."
Charlie looked at her as if he was afraid she had lost her wits, then he said, " Why, Kathie? "
" Because," very slowly and with an effort, " I am trying to be better."
" You always were good enough."
" Not quite "; and Kathie gave a faint smile.
" But do you think it wrong to play ? " and Charlie looked alarmed.
" No, indeed, only mamma wants me a good deal of the time, and I am trying to think of her. It's about all I can do to make her happy."
Charlie was grave enough. " You 're better than the rest of us, Kathie," he said, with much gentleness. " Only I hope you can come to-morrow."
Kathie hoped so too as much as anybody. "I'll try," she answered, cheerily.
Then she hunted up Freddy, who did n't want to go home a bit, and felt sure he was a big boy and could do as he liked.
" Remember what mamma said," Kathie whispered, and he walked reluctantly by her side, casting longing looks backward
" Just wait till I 'm as large as Rob," he said, half crying. " You won't make me mind then."
" 0 Freddy, it is n't for me at all," she said in a low, half-disheartened tone. " And I 'd be happier if you were a grown-up man."
The child's fancy caught at the idea, and he began to make plans for the coming manhood.
AN ENCHANTED PALACE.
" MAMMA," Kathie said on Saturday morning, " do you think I could go and play with the children this afternoon ? They mean to have a great time in the snow-house."
" I shall have to indulge you, I suppose. You have been very industrious for several days."
" But will you need me very much?. "
"You can get all your work done this morning, and there is no particular sewing."
That made Kathie exceedingly light-hearted. She was as brisk as a bee, making beds, sweeping, and dusting, while her mother attended to the baking and the extra cooking for Sunday. Bob was very good-natured, and did the errands. The time passed so . rapidly that it was noon before Kathie thought.
" What a short morning ! "
Aunt Ruth answered her bright smile. "You don't need to look very far for fairies now," she said.
" It's so odd. Aunt Ruth; nothing has bothered me this whole morning. Everything fitted into some little space of time; and it seems to me that on some days, do my best, all goes wrong."
" Is it your best ? "
" I don't believe it is. Aunt Ruth "; and Kathie gave a little laugh. " Do you know I 've been thinking a good fairy must attend you, and that her name is Patience ? It is hard to sit here day after day and sew and knit. Would n't you like to go out ? "
" Certainly I should; but, as you said the other night, I can't walk, and there's no one to take me in a carriage."
"When Rob grows up, I hope he will be a rich man."
"And have a generous heart." .
" But you played when you were a little girl ? "
" Yes, my dear. We had a happy home and many comforts."
Aunt Ruth sighed softly. It had been a hard struggle not to repine. She had striven very earnestly for a meek and quiet spirit.
"I wish you could go out, and the snow is so splendid now. Aunt Ruth, I wonder why rich people never think of the pleasure they might give poorer ones. If I was rich and had a sleigh - "
Kathie went off into a somewhat lengthy vision. When she roused herself from it, she said, slowly, "Playing fairy is n't quite so good as the real thing."
" But rich people have their own business and their own pleasures, and many demands upon them ; they cannot think of everybody," Aunt Ruth rejoined. "And when we do the best we can, that is all that is required of us. So if you are a fairy in an humble sphere you. must do what you can, and be content."
Kathie thought of the star, shining on and on; that was it.
After dinner Kathie helped wash the dishes, and then dressed herself. She was a pretty little girl, with golden ringlets and cheeks that brightened with a word. Her eyes were soft and dark, neither blue nor hazel, but like shady lakes; and they always had such a tender expression that any one would guess at once that she had an affectionate heart. She looked very sweet in her gray cloak and dainty scarlet hood edged with white, that Aunt Ruth had made her for Christmas. Rob, all impatience, had started on before.
" Freddy must be a good boy and mind sister," was Mrs. Alston's parting command.
They ran off to the school-house eagerly. Quite a number were already assembled and discussing what the play should be. The boys wanted war. The party must be divided into two factions, and the snowhouse should be a camp or castle, - it did n't matter which, - and one should try to take it from the other.
" But then you 'll have to batter it down," said Harry Cox, " and that would be a shame. Why, we might play in it ever so long."
" 0, that 's all the fun ! Can't we build another ? " Rob, like the hero of old, was for war. The voices rose high and eager.
" But then the girls can't play," exclaimed Charlie Darrell; " snowballing is too hard for them. When the house begins to look old and rusty we can do that."
" Yes," said Kathie, " we would all like to play."
Then a diversion was created by the appearance of Sophie Dorrance, followed by their fat, jolly-looking black woman, who was carrying a huge basket.
" 0 Sophie! " was the general chorus.
" I begged mother to give us something to eat, and Chloe made such lots of cookies! We 're going to have real fun. What are you doing ? "
"Nothing. We can't make up our minds what to play. The boys wanted war and prisoners."
" Just like boys," said Sophie, with a twinkle in her eye.
" Well, what then ? " asked Rob.
" Something nice, where there 's a princess and lots of servants. Kathie Alston, let 's have a fairy play. You 're so capital at that. And we have a snow-palace."
" Fudge ! " returned Bob, disdainfully. " Who cares for such things ? "
" We ought to play something to please the girls," said Charlie Darrell, in his manly fashion. " We can have a good row and racket by ourselves some time, so let 's take the fairy play. A little girl must be stolen from her father's palace and changed into- what, Kathie ?-and we 'll all go search for her. There must be a good fairy and a wicked fairy."
" First-rate, Charlie "; and Sophie laughed. " Why, you 're almost as good as Kathie. There must be soldiers - and - 0 yes, boys, you can have your battle - and by and by the princess gets safely home. There must be a prince too, and I'll choose him, - Charlie Darrell.'"
" Hurrah ' " shouted half a dozen voices.
"And the boys must choose the princess."
For a few moments there was a good deal of merry confusion, and then the voices assumed a definite sound, - " Kathie Alston! "
" 0 no," said Kathie, in her sweet, timid fashion. " If I am anything, I think I had better be the fairy godmother. And little Rose Gordon will make such a sweet princess."
Sure enough. Rose had long golden curls as well as Kathie, but she was wrapped in a snowy hood and cloak so nearly white that she looked almost like a veritable fairy child.
Rob declared noisily for Rose. By degrees the boys fell into the line, but Charlie Darrell was last.
'"I wish it had been you," he whispered softly to Kathie.
"But you must be a good prince," was her low reply.
" And now what about it ? " began Sophie.
" Must n't there be a christening first ? And while everybody is feasting this wicked fairy must come and steal the baby. Kathie, fix it all up nice for us."
So Kathie began to plan. The table was to be prepared for a feast, and all the fairies were to bring their gifts. The boys and girls went to work eagerly. They brought in some branches of evergreens and ornamented the wall of the palace as well as the table, and then they found some long icicles out of which they made pyramids for the table. There were to be soldiers and servants and a king,- Tom Utley, being the largest, was chosen for this position. Rose was to be called the Princess Golden, because her hair was so soft and shining. Charlie was to be called Prince Bertram, and the godmother was to be Pearl, and the wicked fairy, Malice. But who would be the wicked fairy ? At this there was a general drawback.
"Well," said Sophie, "I think I will. Somebody must, you know, or the play will be spoiled. And I'll try to look as ugly as possible."
All the children laughed, for Sophie was always so good-natured and merry, and had such a round, smiling face.
The play began. One after another the guests came to the frost-palace, bowing low to the king and queen, and then went over to the cradle of evergreens where the Princess Golden was lying, and the little mischief of a Rose had hard work to keep her face sober. They deposited their gifts at her feet, and wished her all manner of good fortune. Then came the fairy Pearl, who touched her with her wand and said that she would be the wisest, loveliest, and best princess that the world had ever known, but that she must never be left alone until she was seven years old, or some very great misfortune would happen to her. Then she kissed the little one and they all went to the feast.
The table looked very pretty indeed with its glittering ice, dark evergreens, and sparkling dishes of snow filled with cake. They had a gay time, you may be sure, and in the midst of the laughing and talking a dark figure crept in, as she could n't fly through the air like a veritable fairy. The children pretended not to see her, and the nurse whose business it was to watch the princess had fallen asleep. So, just as Prince Bertram was asking her hand in marriage, Malice lifted her out of the cradle and took her away.
When the feast was through. Prince Bertram drew off a ring for the princess to wear when she was large enough. The king led the way to the princess's cradle, and behold, it was empty! The poor nurse had tumbled on the floor. They picked her up and shook her soundly, but she was so bewildered that she could tell them nothing. They marched her off to prison, and then they called upon Fairy Pearl to know where the princess was.
She looked through a magic glass, waved her wand, which was a long icicle, three times over the cradle, but all in vain.
" The wicked fairy Malice has stolen her away," she said, presently. " With her arts she has doubtless changed her into some other form. She must be searched for seven years, and when she is found I will restore her to her true shape."
With that Prince Bertram declared he would be one to go and look for her. He took his sword in his hand and marched out as brave as a real knight. The courtiers followed, bowing to the king and queen, who were very sorrowful indeed. Every year they were to come back and report progress.
Their years were not very long, you may be sure. First, they searched the kingdom of Highwood, which was the great pile of wood for school use. The king of this domain came out to meet them very peaceably, and offered them every courtesy, but no princess did they find. That took them a whole year, and then they returned to the king, who was very much disappointed.
Next they searched the Lake kingdom, their large sliding-pond, around one side of which grew some clumps of alders and willows. The fairy knocked on the ice with her wand, but in vain. Not a sign of any princess did they see. Then they went to the Forest kingdom, which was supposed to be inhabited by malicious elves. Sure enough, just as they reached it a shower of balls greeted them. Prince Bertram, being very courageous, led his men to the fight, and they had a great time. Such whoops and shouts and yells as issued from the trees! you would have thought it a pack of Indians instead of fairies or Christian people. In the midst of the melee they saw the fairy Malice flying with the Princess Golden, but she went so swiftly that they could not overtake her. But then they had some news for the poor king, and he concluded that he would join in the search, instead of staying at home.
Well, they went everywhere, fought battles with elves and. brownies and. giants, and the seven years were almost ended. They were now in the kingdom of Snow, and this was where some of the boys had thrown a great heap against the fence as they were cleaning out the paths. Fairy Pearl tried, some spells with her magic wand, and found that the Princess Golden was surely here. Just back of the fence stood the stump of a great sycamore, and the attendant of the fairy Malice had built her a little hut. Of course she pretended, to think no one could, ever find her here, but looking out one morning she saw that her place was besieged. So she called up her soldiers and bade them prepare for battle, while she shut the princess in the hollow tree so that she would soon become a part of it. and then she could never return to her father, since, if they did not find her in the seven years, all search would be vain.
Prince Bertram was a good soldier, though. They gained the day as before, and took the fairy Malice and all her servants prisoners. They threatened to chain the evil fairy in a dungeon unless she would confess what she had done with the Princess Golden, but she was obstinate, and would not open her mouth, so they marched her off. As she had dropped her wand in the fight, she could not free herself from their power, but she looked back to the tree and shook her head mysteriously.
" We 'll find her," said Fairy Pearl, exultantly ; and with that she went up to the tree and touched it with her long icicle. It did look just as if the Princess Golden came out of the tree, and there was a great shout of triumph. Prince Bertram took her in his arms and carried her home, and they all recounted their adventures. Another feast followed this, at which the cookies were all demolished, and they found that it was beginning to grow dusky in the snow-palace.
" Let 's go out and have one good ride down hill," said some one, and they all assented immediately. Charlie Darrell took his princess down once, and then he insisted that Kathie should try.
" It's splendid ! " she said, her sweet face all in a glow.
After two or three turns she declared that it was time to go home.
" You always get in a hurry," Rob exclaimed.
" You never can let a fellow have his fun in peace ! "
This was rather unkind, considering that it was so late; but when Rob was having a good time he never wanted it to end.
The moon was just coming up, and every little point of snow sparkled as if set with a diamond. The long, sloping hill looked like a glittering bay. It was hard ' to leave it.
" We had better go," Kathie said again, and this time several others joined her.
" I mean to ride you home on my sled," Charlie Darrell exclaimed. " You 're going to be my princess now."
A warm glow stole up in Kathie's cheeks, quite different from the one made by the cold and the rapid exercise.
" I want to ride too," exclaimed Freddy, beginning to whine a little, for he was getting tired and sleepy.
" You can't, Freddy," said Charlie, rather positively.
At this the child cried outright.
" Can't I hold him on my lap ? " suggested Kathie, in her most winsome voice.
"0 no; it would tire you half to death and not any pleasure at all. I'll tell you what we will do, Freddy," and he turned to the little one with an air of animation; "we 'll be the horses to take Fairy Pearl home, and we will make believe that this is an elegant chariot. Your name will be Firefly because you are, such a fast horse. Come, Firefly, and let me put your bridle on."
Freddy laughed till he made dimples in his fat, rosy cheeks, though the tears were still shining in his eyes.
'' Come, Firefly, let's start."
Kathie said good by to the girls and seated herself on Charlie's sled. Freddy was quite elated with the idea of being of so much importance, and ran with all his might. Charlie would rather have been alone, as he had counted on making his sled fly like a bird, but he was very patient and sweet for Kathie's sake. It was a nice ride, and when they stopped at the little cottage Kathie expressed her thanks.
" It's a great pleasure to me," said Charlie ; and his eyes were in a glow of satisfaction; " only it is n't half long enough. If you'll try it again some day! "
" Maybe I will. 0," she said, with a sudden burst of feeling, " is n't it just lovely to be well and strong, and to run about and take comfort in everything .' "
" Do you know any one who is not ?" asked Charlie, in a little amaze.
" Yes, - Aunt Ruth. She has n't been out since cold. weather commenced. When it is so slippery she has to stay in the house, because she's lame and weakly. I wish I could make her well and strong."
" What a good little thing you are! " and Charlie looked at the sweet, earnest face.
" I must go in," said Kathie. " Good night."
" Good night, little Firefly "; and Charlie gave Freddy a hug.
The two children stamped the snow off their feet and ran up stairs. The supper-table was already spread.
"Why, mamma, is it so late ?" exclaimed Kathie.
" We had such a grand time ; did n't we, Fred ? "
" And a fairy who stole a little baby, only it was Rose Gordon; and we had cakes to eat, and a great throne, and Charlie Darrell was prince, and I was a horse Firefly. Did n't we drag you nice, Kathie ? "
Aunt Ruth laughed at the queer jumble.
" It's all true, and Rose was hid in a tree, but I 'm awful sleepy and hungry. Can I have some supper right away ? "
Rob answered the question in person. He bolted through the door, slammed it shut, threw his cap down in one chair and his coat in another, and began tugging at one boot while he balanced himself on the other foot.
"We 've had a splendid time, and I feel as if I could almost eat a bear! "
" Not quite so boisterous, Rob," said his mother, while Aunt Ruth put her hand to her forehead.
" 0, I did n't mean to "; and the refractory boot was landed on the opposite side of the hearth with. a jerk. " I never can be still, mamma." "I 'm-so- hungry."
Kathie put Fred in his place. Bob drew up Aunt Ruth, chair and all, and in a few moments they were at supper
" How late you stayed! " Mrs. Alston said, presently.
" I guess we did n't think it was so late," returned Kathie.
" I hope you have n't taken cold. Were you out of doors all the time ? "
Kathie began to explain what they had been doing, and Rob made frequent interruptions. Aunt Ruth was a good deal interested.
Kathie put Fred to bed, and then brought her little chair beside Aunt Ruth, taking the thin white hand in hers.
" 0 Aunt .Ruth," she said, " I wish you were a little girl again, and just as well as I am."
The pale lips pressed a fond kiss on those beside her, so young and warm and sweet.
THINKING OF OTHERS.
CHARLIE DARRELL drew a hassock close to his sister Jessie, who sat crocheting. He had reached home just in time for supper, and described the afternoon's amusement in glowing terms. But now he felt a little drowsy and a little lazy, and he was very fond of watching Jessie. She was seventeen, three years older than Charlie, and they had a sister still older, who was married.
Charlie loved her dearly. In fact she was a very lovable, sweet-tempered girl, nearly always ready to listen, and to assist him in any way that she could. And in return he was very obliging, and tried to be quiet and well-behaved as well as kind.
He looked round the room now, and could n't help feeling how cheerful and pretty it was. A large open-front stove, where the coals glowed ruddily and shot up feathery dancing spires of scarlet and blue flame. There was a soft rug before it, with the picture of a hunting-dog plunging through reeds, sedge-grass, and lilies for some ducks in the distance. A great, comfortable-looking house-cat lay upon it, stretching herself and purring out her gratitude. The carpet was bright, some pictures hung around the walls, a bookcase was in one wide recess, and the bay-window was filled with Jessie's flowers. There was a lamp burning on the centre-table, and the porcelain shade was beautifully ornamented with several tiny pictures. It was a charming, cosey room.
And as Charlie enjoyed this in a half-sleepy way another picture came into his mind, - a plain, low-ceiled room, with a rather worn rag-carpet on the floor, very common furniture, and a faded chintz-covered lounge, very few books, no pictures worth mentioning, two tired-looking women always sewing, and dear little Kathie. What a hard life she had!
"Jessie," he said, "I think Kathie Alston is the best and noblest little girl that I ever knew."
"She seems very nice and pleasant. I like her because she always looks so cheerful."
"And she is n't a bit selfish. She would give up anything if some one else wanted it. And she's continually thinking of others, and wishing they were happy."
"The right spirit, I am sure."
" And Rob 'a such a - well, he 's rude and thoughtless, and never seems to appreciate what she does. He is good-natured to us boys, and a capital fellow for fun, but I wish Kathie had a nice home - "
"Is n't her home pleasant ? Mrs. Alston appears to be a very kind woman."
" 0, I like her and Kathie's Aunt Ruth, but it is sad to be poor, and to have to work hard." "Yes, indeed," Jessie said.
" Kathie's always thinking of her Aunt Ruth, and wishing she was well. It's real hard to be sick and lame."
" I have met Miss Conover several times, and I think she bears her burdens very patiently."
" But it's hard, all the same."
"Yes, Charlie, it is"; and Jessie drooped her thoughtful brown eyes.
There was a pause, and presently Charlie began again: " Jessie, do you think we could do anything to make Miss Conover happier."
" I don't know, Charlie; have you thought of any plan ? "
" Only " - Charlie hesitated a little -"if we could take her out to ride."
" Do you think she would go ? "
" Why, yes "; and then. Charlie repeated the few words that had passed between him and Kathie.
" We might do that. Dolly is so gentle that no one would he afraid with her. Sleigh-riding did you mean ? "
" Yes. Would n't it be nice ? Kathie would feel so delighted."
" Suppose we go next week, the first nice day ? We will take the two-seat sleigh, and invite both Kathie and her aunt."
"Splendid!" said Charlie.
" .And I can do it very nicely. Mrs. Thomas asked me the other day whom she could get to do some fine needlework. I'll go and see if Miss Conover can undertake it, and then we will ask them to drive with us."
" Just the thing.
Then he came to kiss Jessie, and went off to bed thankful that he had discovered a way of making some one happy, and, most of all, Kathie.
The next day being Sunday there was no playing or snow-balling. It was cold hut clear, and sunny as a midsummer day. The children were none the worse for their ice-palace party; even Freddy, when he woke up, was as bright as a daisy.
Sunday was always a long day to Rob. He went to church in the morning with his mother and Kathie, and to Sunday school in the afternoon; but it seemed as if he had read every book in the house and heard everything.
"0 dear," he said after supper, as Kathie was washing up the dishes, - for on Sunday they had a fire in the parlor, as the room fronted the street, and looking at the people passing made a pleasant break in Aunt Ruth's monotonous days,-"0 dear, I don't know what to do with myself !"
" You 'll have to fight a giant," Kathie answered, soberly.
" Let's hear about that, Kathie "; and, for a wonder, Rob was quite interested.
" You know I was telling you the other day that Aunt Ruth said our evil tempers and feelings soon grew to be giants if we did n't make war upon them. And that part of fairy-stories is true, for some people do set out to kill giants."
"Which one shall I go at?"
" I think, Rob," - and Kathie hesitated a little, - "that the Sunday giant is Restlessness." " I can't help it. I 'm a boy, and I can't be still."
" Not if you. try very hard ?" Kathie smiled her sweetest.
" Well-" Rob looked rather undecided. " About the Monday giant then ? "
Kathie laughed. " Are you going to have a giant for every day ? " she asked.
" I dare say you could find a dozen."
" But, Rob, I 'm not trying to ; I love you dearly."
" Giant number two ? Go on."
" One giant is Thoughtlessness. He 's troubled me a good deal too."
" Well, number three ? "
" You 're - pretty - boisterous, sometimes," Kathie said, slowly.
"I can't help that, Kathie, I positively can't. I think everything makes more noise with me than with any other fellow in the world. If I touch a chair, it's sure to fall over; if I go for coal, ever so many pieces drop out; and water always slops over, and I catch my foot in the carpet, and - and -I'm a bother generally. I wish I was n't. I 'd rather be a nice fellow like Charlie Darrell."
That was a great admission for Rob to make. Generally he thought himself as good as anybody.
"But, Rob, dear, one can take pains."
" I always forget " ; and Rob brought his fist down on the table so vigorously that all the dishes rattled.
" Kathie," said her mother, looking in, " what is the matter ? "
" There, that's just it. I seem bound to make a noise anyhow. I was only telling Kathie some- thing."
" Don't tell quite so loud. I thought the dishes were broken."
" Now I 'm all done," said Kathie, cheerily. " Rob, I 'm pretty bad about remembering, so I made up my mind to fight that giant. Every time that I forget I just stop and do something that is n't so pleasant by way of punishment."
" Like what ? " Rob was fond of illustrations.
" Well, the other morning I could n't find my lunch-basket, and when I went to school I saw that Miss Moore had hung it up amongst the mislaid articles. I felt pretty badly, for I did n't mean to get one discredit this quarter; but I thought that was n't quite enough, so I made myself stay in while the others were having a good time. It was real hard. And since, when I 've left some things undone, or forgotten what mamma told me, I go and do whatever is the greatest hardship."
Rob whistled thoughtfully. It was n't exactly a Sunday tune, to be sure; but he was doing some pretty good thinking.
" Kathie," he said presently, " everybody likes you so. Charlie Darrell wishes you were his sister."
" I 'm not going to be anybody's sister but yours, dear old Rob "; and Kathie gave the curly, chestnut-colored head a fond squeeze, and then kissed the warm, rosy lips.
Rob winked away some tears. " Is it easy to be good, Kathie?"
" Not - very; but I guess the more you do of it the easier it comes. And then it makes others so much happier."
Rob put his feet on the stove-hearth and his elbows on his knees, and was lost in a brown study. " I think I'll look after some of the giants," he said, lighting his lamp to go to bed.
On to chapter 5
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