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Young as he was, the child at once comprehended his situation ; but he knew no way except the straightforward way, always best. So he frankly told the occurrence of the morning, even to the timely appearance of the Doctor.
Somebody said no more to him then, but he saw her talking earnestly with the Doctor, in low tones; then they both went up stairs to the Superintendent's room, and were gone a long time. When they came back, they called Frankie to them, and Somebody told him that they had had the waste-box searched, and found the missing letter, – that they had questioned Jim, who denied all knowledge of the matter, even to the fact of ever having received a letter from Frankie to take to the post-office.
“But you don't believe him, do you ?” said Frankie, with an open, inquiring gaze into the faces of his two friends; for in his innocence he thought they must know as well as he did himself how impossible it was for him to have told a falsehood in the matter.
“We don't know exactly what to believe yet. We must investigate,” said the Doctor.
It would be too long a story to tell you how, little by little, they traced the guilt to Jim, learning where and how he spent the stolen money, and how he tried to fix a share of his wickedness upon Frankie by saying he had agreed with him to commit the act and divide the money. But though he thought to account thus for this instance, he could not make even as plausible a story about the many other sums he was found to have obtained in a similar way.
Poor Jim! He was found out, as most wicked people are sure to be, and now he is learning to make chairs in the Penitentiary; and I hope when he comes out again he will have also learned that the straightforward way is the best, after all, though narrow and rough sometimes.
The latest news of Frankie is that he is living on the Doctor's "place" out in the country. Doctor got tired of city practice, and preferred gardening and attending to village patients. Frankie drives the Doctor's chaise, pounds drugs, and is useful generally. He recites lessons every day to his old friend Somebody, who is Mrs. Doctor now, and whom Frankie thinks he could n't do without. There is a little house on the place which the Doctor thought the very thing for Frankie's mother and “Sis,” and work for the machine is even more plentiful there than in the city.
Does n't “Sis” revel in buttercups and dandelions? And does n't Stebbins have his fill of strawberries and other good things, when he comes out for a Sunday's vacation ?
Caroline A. Howard.
ERAPHINA sat in state in a pasteboard arm-chair, stuffed, and cov
ered with gay chintz, which mother had made for Polly on her last birthday; and Matilda Ann, who had the scarlet fever, Polly said, was tucked up in bed, her ink eyes staring up at a little bit of blue sky one could see through a chink in the rocks. It was October now, and as Polly sat on her small stool making an apron for Seraphina, while Jack and Jimmy hammered away at some pieces of board, which were by and by to turn into a wagon, a cool wind blew into the rock house, sending all the bits of calico and silk flying.
“What a wind!” said Polly, chasing first one piece and then another. “I do believe we've got to move up to the wood-house chamber. It's dreadful cold, sitting still out here."
" Cold !” repeated Nathan, who had busied himself with turning somersets, in the intervals of watching the hammering. “ Do as I do, and I guess you won't be cold.”
“I would n't do such a thing,” said Polly, indignantly. “ Girls was n't made to turn somersets."
Here a lovely bit of pink silk whirled out on the shore, and then, rising into the air, floated about a moment over a rock which at high water was always covered. Polly raced after it, and, as it settled down, jumped to the rock, and caught it in her hand. The sea-weed was wet and slippery, and, as she touched her bit of silk, over she went, rolling like a ball down the shelving side to the sand below.
“Ho !” shouted Nathan. “I thought 'girls was n't made to turn somersets. I could n't 'a' done that better myself, Polly."
“ You just keep still,” said Polly, getting up with a very red face. “ There 's all those Lane children coming down the bluff: what 'll we do ?”
“Have a good time,” said Jack, coming out all over little sticks and splinters. “That Lotty 's a first-rate little gal, and Harry's a nice boy. Takes all you know to stand Paul, but where there's a lot of us I guess he 'll do. How'd you find your way?” he went on, as the children came running down the path. “I thought you were going to Shrewsbury with your grandfather.”
“So we were,” said Lotty, “but grandpa had somebody come to see him ; and mother told us the way down here, and said you'd see to us. We 're going home to-morrow."
“Why,” said Polly, “ you have n't been here a week.”
“I know it,” answered Lotty; " but our school begins next Monday. Next summer we're going to come here the first of June, and stay all summer long. Shall you be here ? ”
“ Why, yes," answered Polly, “unless I die. I don't ever go away. None of us does that but father."
“ I would n't stay in one place all the time,” said Paul, looking about the rock house very contemptuously. “Is this the place you play in ?”
“ Yes,” said Polly, who had seen the look, and was ready to declare Paul the ugliest boy she had ever seen. “It's a splendid place when it's warm, but it's getting pretty cold now.”
“ I should think it was,” said Paul, pretending to shiver. “The wind blows in everywhere ; but then I suppose you're used to being cold. What you making, Jack ?”
“A wagon to carry clams and things in,” said Jack. “ It 'll be handy for Nathan when he's digging 'em, instead of a basket.”
“But there's only three wheels,” said Harry.
“ I know it,” said Jack ; "two behind, and one in the middle in front. That's all you want when you have n't got any more.”
Paul in the mean time had picked up Polly's bottle of gold and silver shells, which, standing where the sun shone on it, was sparkling beautifully. On the rough little shelf from which he had taken it were some bright bits of coral, and a strange shell, brought home by Captain Ben, with other curiosities, many years before.
“What's that ?" said he.
“That 's a paper nautilus shell,” answered Jimmy, who knew all that could be told him by his father about every curious thing he had ever seen. “See how little it is at the end, and it grows bigger and bigger. The top 's broken, so you can look in ; it's all divided off into lots o' rooms, and there's a tight wall between each one. How do you suppose it got round in its house?”
“ I don't know,” said Paul, half interested and half sulky.
“Father says,” said Jimmy, “ that a man who knew all about everything that ever was made told him once, that the nautilus began in the little end, and lived in it a year till it grew bigger, and its shell grew too, and then it went out into the next room, and built up this wall between, and never went back again. This one's got five rooms, so I s'pose it lived five years, and went sailing round everywhere."
“Sailing !” said Paul. “A shell can't sail."
“ This shell could, anyhow,” said Jimmy. “ Father says he's seen 'em in the Southern Seas, when he used to be a sailor, going everywhere, and they look beautiful on the water. Portuguese men-o'-war the sailors call 'em.”
“I don't believe it,” said Paul. “I guess I should know about it if it was true.”
“ Come,” said Jack, who saw Jimmy's eyes flash, “let 's go down to the Point, and look at the fiddlers."
“ I told mother I'd get some horse-feet for the pig," said Nathan, “and I guess now 's just the time. Tide 's half up, and there 'll be dozens of 'em on the beach. Let 's all go."
“I think you ’ve got a funny pig, if he 'll eat horses' feet,” said Harry; * and what makes fiddlers live on the Point ? "
“O," said Jimmy, beginning to laugh, “they live there so 's to have plenty of room, and they can fiddle all the time, and never disturb anybody."
“ I don't believe they 're real fiddlers," said Harry, who, having lived all his life in a city, knew very little of what was to be seen 'long shore.
“Of course they 're not, you goose,” said Paul ; "any stupid would know that.”
“ Did you know?" said Polly.
Paul turned red, but pretended not to hear, and walked on, looking very sulky. It was aggravating to have all these green 'long-shore children talking of things he knew nothing about; and he was turning over in his mind a speech which was to confound them altogether, when they came to a long strip of sand, hard and firm as any floor, and scarcely a shell or pebble to be seen on its whole length.
“I wish I had my velocipede here,” said Harry. “Would n't I spin along!”
“What 's a velocipede ?” asked Jack.
“ Ho!” said Paul. “Before I'd be so green as not to know that! A dirty beggar-boy knows what a velocipede is."
“ You don't know half as much as a dirty beggar-boy,” said Polly, whose feelings were getting too much for her. “I wish a crab would bite you."
“You 'd better look out,” Paul began ; but Jack interrupted.
“Come now; no fighting in this company. If I'd 'a' lived in the city all my life, I'd know some things I slip up on now; and Paul, if he 'd 'a' lived here, would have talked about fishes and all that as fast as we can. Come on to the Point."
Lotty and Polly took hold of hands, and scampered over the smooth sand, while Nathan, to relieve his mind, turned another somerset, which ended disastrously, for Harry, at that moment running up, received a blow from Nathan's heels, as he flew over, which quite doubled him up.
“ There !” said Paul, “ see what that hateful boy has done! That comes of going with low people."
“Well,” said Jack, picking Harry up, “ don't s'pose you meant to knock each other's eyes out; but you just take better care o' your legs, Nathan.”
“He did n't mean to," said Harry. “I was n't looking, and I ran right into him."
“He did it a-purpose,” said Paul. “I shall tell grandfather, when I go home.”
“Do what you like,” said Jack, getting a little excited. “Might as well try to get along peaceable with a sting-ray."
“What 's a sting-ray ? ” said Lotty.
“ Why,” answered Jack, “it's a flat fish with a long tail, and two or three sort o' spikes in the end ; and if you get it in a fyke, or draw it up on a line, it just lashes round, and stings everybody it can. They 're awful poison.”
By this time they had reached the Point, and both Lotty and Harry drew back a little. The tide had thrown up numbers of little soft clams on the sand, leaving them stranded there as it went down ; and the horse-feet, which generally come up when the tide is half high, and go back after it has been falling two or three hours, were busy here feasting on the clams.
“What are those horrid things wiggling all round?” said Harry. " They 're the horse-feet," said Jimmy.
“O,” said Lotty, “ I thought you meant the pig ate real horses' feet. I should n't think he id touch those things. How can he bite through the shells ? and don't he get bitten back ? "
“ No,” said Jimmy, dashing in among them, and piling them into his basket on their backs. “ They ain't anything but a round shell, with a tail and a stomach. Take this little one in your hand; hold it by the tail, and you won't hardly know you've got it. They can't bite, or, if they can, they never was known to."
Lotty looked curiously at the spongy sort of animal under the shield-like shell; and in the mean time Paul, when he saw Harry draw back, walked on, intending to show that he had no fear, and thus lost Jimmy's description of them. Suddenly he stepped right into the midst of some half-dozen immense fellows, feeding where the clams were thickest. They all scuttled rapidly down to the water, except the very longest one, which seemed to Paul as big round as a bushel-basket, and with a tail a foot long. Paul stood stock-still for a moment, really afraid to stir; and the horse-foot, seeming just then to realize that some danger was near, went right over his feet, and down to the water.
“O!” screamed Paul, as the slimy thing went on, “it's going to bite me; it's going to bite me ! O Jack !”
All the children came running, and Paul, very much ashamed as he saw Jimmy's basket full and little Lotty holding one by the tail, turned red, and hung down his head.
" Why, I thought a shark had got you !” said Jack. “You might 'a' saved some o' that hollering for next time. 'Most too much for one horse-foot.”
Paul for once had nothing to say, and followed the children back till they reached the pigpen. There Jimmy and Nathan emptied the big basket into a barrel, throwing four or five of the fish into the pen, which the pig crunched up as if he enjoyed them. One, dropping from the basket, wiggled off toward the shore.
“ Here, you fellow !” said Nathan, sticking its sharp tail into the ground and leaving it there. “ I believe that critter would get back to water, if it was a mile away. I should n't wonder if they smelled it.”
“Now," said Harry, "I want to see the fiddlers before we go home.”
"Why, they ’re crabs,” said Polly, — "little crabs with one big claw; and they live in the salt meadows sometimes, and in wet places 'long shore. There 's a lot of 'em always behind that big rock you see off there, only you can't catch 'em easy."