The Little Colonel's Knight Comes Riding, Chapter 4: Betty's Novel

THE LITTLE COLONEL's KNIGHT COMES RIDING
by Annie Fellows Johnston (1863-1931)
Published 1907

Illustrated by Etheldred B. Barry

Table Of Contents

CHAPTER IV.
BETTY'S NOVEL

IT was Gay's voice over the telephone. "Oh Lloyd, can't you come? Do arrange it some way. Lucy is frightened stiff at the thought of being left here alone all night with just me. And she thought it would be such a good time for Betty to read us her novel, as she promised, before she sends it away to the publishers. There'll be no callers to interrupt us on such a rainy day."

"Hold the phone a minute," answered Lloyd. "I'll see. It's Gay," she explained to her mother who had come out into the hall at the first tinkle of the bell, thinking the summons might be for her.

"Mistah Harcourt and his brothah went to Lexington this mawning to buy those hawses, and Gay and Lucy are afraid to stay there tonight. The cook had promised to sleep at the house, but something turned up at her home a little while ago to prevent. So they want Kitty and Betty and me to come ovah right away and spend the aftahnoon and night. It's raining cataracts and I know you don't like to take the new carriage out in such weathah, but couldn't Alec put the curtains on the old one?"

Mrs. Sherman glanced dubiously towards the windows, against which the rain was beating in torrents.

"And leave me all alone, when I've been looking forward to this same good, rainy afternoon with you," almost slipped from Mrs. Sherman's tongue. But the eager desire shining in the faces of both girls kept back the words.

"It's only a warm summer rain," interposed Betty, seeing her hesitate.

"Very well, then," consented Mrs. Sherman with a smile, but as she went back to her room she stifled a little sigh of disappointment. "I suppose it's only natural they should want to be going," she thought. "But if it wasn't so selfish I could almost wish that Gay hadn't come to the Valley for the summer. She will take Lloyd away from home so often, and I have looked forward so long to the companion she would be when her school days were ended."

Wholly unconscious of her mother's disappointment Lloyd was answering merrily, "We'll be ovah right away! Ring up Kitty again, and tell her we'll drive by for her."

An hour later the five girls (for the bride of a year seemed the youngest of them all at times) were seated in an upstairs room at the Lindsey Cabin, each in a comfortable rocking chair. Lucy had taken them to her room saying it was cozier up near the roof where they could hear the rain patter on the shingles. Also her dormer windows faced the West, and they would have daylight longer there.

It took a little while for them to get settled for the reading. Lucy brought out the family darning with a matronly air, when she saw that Lloyd had brought a square of linen to start a piece of drawn-work, and Kitty had some napkins to hem. Mrs. Walton had turned over the management of the house to Kitty only that day (Allison had had it the year before) and with house-wifely zeal she had begun with an exploration of the linen closet where she had found a pile of unhemmed linen.

Not wanting to be idle while all the rest were occupied, Gay kept them waiting while she burrowed through her trunk for an intricate piece of knitting work which she had begun two years before. It had been intended for a Christmas present, and she had brought it with her intending to finish it before another Christmas or perish in the attempt. "Don't pay any attention to me," she warned. "There'll be places where I have to stop and count stitches and fairly wrestle with it, but I'll be listening in spite of my bodily contortions."

They were all ready at last, so Betty picked up the first chapter and cleared her throat. She had been anxious to read her novel to the girls, she had been so sure of its merit. But now as she glanced down the page she was assailed by misgivings. After all she might not have been an impartial judge, and maybe it wasn't as good as it seemed to her.

"You'll recognize some of the incidents," she explained, "and one character is a composite portrait of three Lloydsboro people. He looks like Mr. Jaynes, stutters like Captain Bedel and has experiences that once happened to Doctor Shelby. I've put Miss Marietta Waring's romance into it too.

Betty read well. She loved the characters she had fashioned, and with her sympathetic voice to interpret them, they became almost as real to her listeners as they were to herself. Presently the girls began to exchange approving nods. She watched them from the corner of her eye. Now and then there were low murmurs of approbation at some particularly pleasing incident or turn of expression, and at the end of the first chapter there was outspoken applause. They complimented enthusiastically while Betty rested and took breath for the next.

As she felt the genuine pleasure she was affording them, all her fears as to its short-comings fled. She began to see that her story was even better than she had thought it. She saw it in better perspective through their eyes. Its plot moved so smoothly. There was more life, more go in it than she had been conscious of in her solitary readings. It was certainly worth all the painstaking effort it had cost her. She could look at it now and no longer humbly, but confidently call it good.

When in one scene she stole a furtive glance around to note the effect, and caught Lucy stealthily slipping out her handkerchief, Gay looking up with tears on her lashes and Lloyd with the peculiar tightening of the lips that showed she was trying to swallow the lump in her throat, she was so happy she could have sung for joy. She read on and on, and they forgot the rain beating against the windows, forgot everything but their interest in the story.

Lucy pushed her darning basket aside and leaned back in her chair, her hands clasped behind her head. The work over which Lloyd had been bending, dropped in her lap and her little gold thimble rolled away into a corner unheeded. There was a personal interest in the story for each of them. Lloyd saw herself as plainly in Betty's heroine as she could see her reflection in the mirror door of the huge mahogany wardrobe opposite her. Some of Kitty's ridiculous speeches that had become historical in her family, found a place here and there, and once Lucy laughed outright, exclaiming, "Why that's just like Gay! You must have been thinking of her when you wrote it."

The reading went on without interruption until it was so dark that Betty had to hold her manuscript close to the window. "I'll ring for lights," thought Lucy, "just as soon as she comes to the end of this chapter." But with the end of the chapter came Ca'line Allison with a message from the kitchen. Lucy started up in dismay.

"There! I forgot all about that salad. How could I be so careless when I'm to have a real live authoress to dinner? I was so interested I hadn't a thought for anything but the story."

"Such appreciation is a thousand times better than salad," laughed Betty, so jubilant over her triumph that her eyes were full of a happy light. "This is a good place to stop until after dinner. I've read until my throat is tired."

Lucy hurried down stairs to hasten the dinner preparations, in order that they might get back to the reading as soon as possible. The four girls folded their work and sat in the twilight, talking.

"What does this make you think of? " asked Lloyd.

"I know what's in your mind," answered Kitty. "I was just about to speak of it myself; that rainy day at Boarding School, when Ida Shane read 'The Fortune of Daisy Dale' to us, behind locked doors. Wasn't it thrilling?"

Gay who had heard the incident mentioned many times at Warwick Hall, said plaintively, "You girls always make me feel that I have missed half my life, because I wasn't with you when Ida Shane read that story. I'd certainly like to get my hands on such a wonderful piece of literature."

"But it wasn't wonderful," Betty hastened to explain. "It made that deep impression on us simply because it was the first novel we had ever read. It was sentimental and melodramatic and trashy as we've since discovered, but then it seemed all that was lovely and romantic. It gave us thrills up and down our spines and sent us around with our heads in the clouds for days. We were seeing embryo Guy Wolverings in every boy we met. As I listened to Ida I thought that if I could only write a book that would hold my listeners spellbound as that held us, I'd ask no more of life. I could die happy."

"Well, you've done it, dear," said Gay warmly. "We scarcely breathed during the last two chapters, and I'm so eager to know how it ends that I'd willingly cut dinner to go on with it."

"Now how does that make you feel, Miss Elizabeth Lloyd Lewis?" asked Kitty teasingly. "Fair uplifted, I've nae doot."

"Yes, it does," was the honest answer. "It's what I've hoped for and worked for and prayed for these last ten years. Can you wonder that it makes me radiantly happy to have you girls think that I have in a measure succeeded?"

Dinner was announced a little later, and when the girls went into the dining-room, they found Lucy herself bringing it in.

"Poor Sylvia had another message from home," she explained, "so I told her and Ca'line Allison to go on; that we'd wait on ourselves and clear the table, and they could wash the dishes in the morning. It's not raining quite so hard now, but it is dark as a pocket outside."

As she placed the soup tureen on the table, they heard the outer kitchen door close, and Sylvia turn the key in the lock.

"Ugh!" exclaimed Lucy with a shiver. "Now we're abandoned to our fate! I wish you'd pull that window-shade farther down, Gay. There's just room for somebody to peep under it, and there's nothing more terrifying to me than the thought of eyes peering in at one from the outer darkness."'The gobelins will git you if you don't watch out,'" sang Gay. "Do for pity's sake put your mind on something else, Lucy, and don't spoil this festive occasion with a case of high jinks!"

Seeing that their little hostess was really nervous and timid, Kitty began to divert them all by impersonating different characters in the Valley. She was a fine mimic, and kept them laughing all through the first course. Lucy carried out the plates, and hurried back with the second course.

"You've got to get the salad when the time comes," she said to Gay. "It's so spooky out there in the kitchen with Sylvia gone, that I was afraid to look over my shoulder. Queer, isn't it! For it's just as warm and well-lighted and cheerful now as when she was there. I wouldn't go into the pantry alone for a fortune."

"Nonsense!" cried Kitty. "Five valiant females are enough to keep any Lloydsboro foe at bay. We'll be your brave defenders."

Gay, who had risen to circle around the table with a plate of hot biscuit, paused dramatically beside Lucy's chair to say in a stage whisper, "Hist! I have a weapon of defence ye wot not of. One that a doughty knight did leave behind him."

"Oh," said the literal Lucy. "I suppose you mean Mr. Shelby's boxing-glove that he left on the piano, when he came in yesterday to bring you those books. It was awfully funny, girls, the way he seemed to leave it by accident. I couldn't help laughing, for it was so evident he did it on purpose, to have an excuse to come again sooner than he would have done otherwise."

Gay smiled knowingly. It was not a boxing-glove she meant, but for reasons of her own she did not enlighten Lucy as to the kind of weapon she had in reserve. It was after eight when they rose from the table, and they made such a frolic of carrying out the dishes, that the grandfather clock on the stairs chimed the half-hour as they finished.

Before Ca'line Allison left she had started a cheerful blaze in the fireplace of the huge living room, for the night was chilly as well as damp. But Lucy partly covered it with ashes, and proposed spending the evening up-stairs.

"Somehow one feels so much safer up-stairs when there are no men in the house," she explained. "We'll light two big lamps, and that will make it as warm and cosy as if we had a fire."

So in a body they made the rounds of the downstairs rooms, bolting windows and locking doors. Then satisfied that every entrance was securely fastened, they went up-stairs to resume the reading. This time there was no attempt to do any needlework. With folded hands they waited in expectant silence, while Betty found her place. But just as she raised the sheet of paper, the great door of the mahogany wardrobe swung slowly and stealthily open. Not a sound did it make, and there was something so ghostly in its silent undoing that Lucy gave a little shriek and hid her face in her hands. Each one of them acknowledged to a queer chilly sensation just for an instant, even Gay, who explained that it was only a little habit that the wardrobe had. "I don't mind it in the daytime," she added, "but it is spooky at night when everything is still to have it unexpectedly pop open, and swing out with that slow gliding motion."

"It's because the latch is worn and the catch works loose," said matter-of-fact Kitty, who had crossed the room to examine it. She turned the key. "Now it will not interrupt us for awhile. Go on with the story, Betty."

Again the manuscript was raised and again Lucy stopped her with the wail, "Oh, Gay! We've forgotten to bring up the silver pitcher and Jameson's ladle. I put them on the dining-room table after I'd washed them, and then marched off and forgot them."

"Well, I'll go down for them," volunteered Gay. "There's no use in your doing it and getting another fit of shivers."

"The other three sprang up, but Gay waved Betty back.

"Save your breath for the reading. Kitty and Lloyd will be enough. I don't mind acknowledging that I'll be glad to have both a rear and a van guard going through that dark hall."

Lighting a candle and holding it high above her head, Lloyd led the way down-stairs. Gay was inwardly quaking, for she was almost as timid as her sister, but the fearlessness of her two companions made her keep up a pretence of bravery. As the three pairs of little heels clattered down the dark polished steps, Lloyd and Kitty kept time in a singsong chant

"There was a man and he had naught 
And robbers came to rob him. 
He got up on the chimney top 
And then they thought they had him. 
But he got down on the other side 
And then they couldn't find him 
He went fourteen miles in fifteen clays 
And never looked behind him."

It was almost cruel of Kitty to seize that opportunity to tell the scariest burglar tale that she had ever heard, but a fine appreciation of dramatic situations urged her to it.

"Ugh! Don't!" begged Gay, as they filed into the dining-room and began looking around for the silver heirlooms. Lucy was mistaken. It was the kitchen table on which she had left them.

"The goose-flesh is standing out all over me! That's the most gruesome tale I ever heard."

"But I'm in the most interesting part," insisted Kitty. "When she saw the black face leering over the transom --- "

"Hush!" chattered Gay. "I won't listen to another word. It's so creepy I can feel things grabbing at my ankles. Let me have the candle a minute, please, Lloyd, I want to get something out of the hat-rack drawer."

There was a faint glow on the hearth from the few embers Lucy had left uncovered, and the two stood within it as they waited for Gay to come back with the candle. Kitty went on with her tale, for Lloyd was as fearless as herself. She did not get further than a sentence or two, however, before Gay came hurrying back. To their astonishment she blew out the candle as she reached them, and in the brief glimpse they had of her face they saw that it was ghastly white. In the dim glow of the embers they were scarcely visible to each other. She clutched them with trembling fingers.

"There's some one prowling around the house!"  she whispered. "Some one was creeping around under the windows, and then up on the porch. I heard them plain as day. I blew out the light so they couldn't see in!"

"Pooh!" began Lloyd, but enough of Gay's excitement had been communicated to both her listeners to make their hearts thump a little faster, when they, too, heard a noise at the window. There certainly were steps on the porch. Then the knocker on the front door was lifted and a hollow clang echoed through the hall.

"Burglars don't knock," said Lloyd with a sigh of relief. "Let's all go to the doah togethah and ask who's there. We needn't open it."

"No, don't! " begged Gay, almost in tears. "It's just like that awful story Kitty started to tell --- the knock at the door, the lone woman's voice answering, and the burglar forcing his way over the transom! Our only safety is in keeping perfectly still. If worst comes to worst, then I'll make them think there's a man in the house, but I won't do it till I'm driven to it."

"If it's one of the neighbours he'll knock again," said Kitty.

For a moment they waited, their hearts in their mouths, as they remembered what a lonely place was this dark beech woods, and how near it was to Stumptown, with its many drunken negroes.

The knock was not repeated, but the steps sounded as if the intruder were prowling back and forth on the porch. Then the slats of the window-shutters turned stealthily.

"Thank heaven the shades are down!" chattered Gay hysterically. "Oh, girls, I'm growing gray-headed. I can't stand this suspense another second." Then as the steps once more crossed the porch, "Cut up-stairs! Quick! Both of you! I'll follow."

She darted out of the dim circle of light on the hearth, and they could not see what happened, but almost instantly a pistol shot rang out. Up till that moment neither Kitty nor Lloyd had been much alarmed. Now they clutched each other wildly.

"It's some crazy man escaped from the Lakeland asylum," began Kitty, but her words were cut short by another shot, then another and another and another, in such rapid succession that they lost count. A series of piercing screams from Lucy, up-stairs, made their blood run cold, but the shrieks were not half as terrifying as the sight of Gay staggering back out of the hall. As they sprang towards her she leaned against them limply.

"Is she shot? " gasped Kitty in a horrified whisper. "Oh, where's the light?"

With shaking hands Lloyd caught up the daily paper, left lying on the settle, and threw it on the coals. It blazed up instantly, and by its light she found the candle.

The shrieks were still going on up-stairs and Betty was calling out frantically to know what was the matter. She could not come down to see for herself, for Lucy had caught her in a hysterical grasp and was holding her like a vise. As the candle flared up something fell from Gay's nerveless hand to the floor. The girls looked at each other in blank astonishment. It was a revolver. Gay herself had fired the shots.

Now in the midst of their bewilderment they became conscious of shouts outside. Some one was calling: "Mrs. Harcourt! Miss Melville! Don't be alarmed! It's only Alex Shelby!"

Recognizing the voice, Lloyd flew to open the door, candle in hand.

"Oh, you gave us such a scare!" she began in a tone of relief. "We thought it was a burglar doing the shooting. We nevah dreamed that Gay had a revolvah."

" It was mine," explained Alex, laughing so that he could hardly close his umbrella. "I loaded it for her and loaned it to her yesterday, but I had no idea it would come back at me in that boomerang fashion. She popped loose and shot at me bang through the front door. The first shot whistled just over my head, and if I hadn't dodged behind a post I surely would have stopped them all. Hottest welcome I ever had."

Then as he came on in, he continued, apologetically, "I'm mighty sorry I gave you all such a fright. I ought to have gone away without knocking when I saw there was no light down-stairs, but I knew you were all here, and it was so early, I never dreamed of being taken for a burglar."

He kept on with his apologies after he came into the hall, but Gay was not there to hear. Mortified that she had been so rash, and horrified by the thought of how serious the consequences of her wild shooting might have been, she could not face him. At the first sound of his voice she ran for the stairs, her wild dash almost upsetting Lucy and Betty on their way down. When repeated callings failed to bring her back, Kitty went up to look for her and found her in a woebegone heap on the foot of her bed.

"Oh, you mustn't take it to heart that way," she  said soothingly, in response to Gay's tearful protests that she could never look him in the face again, never, never! That he'd always think what a fool she was and how near she came to killing him.

"Nonsense!" was Kitty's brisk answer. "He insists that it is all his own fault, that he ought to have known what to expect when he called on a native Texan. He says he's always heard that they punctuate their remarks with bullets and will shoot at the drop of a hat. Hereafter he will herald his approach by telephone or else come in a coat of mail warranted to turn even the fire of a Gatlin gun. He's making a joke of it, and it's silly of you not to do the same. Get up this minute and come down-stairs, and make him have such a good time that he'll gladly risk another shooting to come again."

It was a long time before Gay could screw her courage to the, point of following Kitty meekly down-stairs, and in the meantime Lucy took an effective way to make him forget his inhospitable reception. Her chafing dish was her panacea for many ills. She had tried it at the Post too many times with the different boys who flocked there, not to know its full value. So when Gay came into the room she found Alex already being initiated into the mysteries of candy-making. With a white apron tied around his waist, and a big spoon in his hand, he was bending anxiously over a bubbling sauce-pan.

Heretofore his calls at the Cabin had been of the most formal kind; but this little escapade was doing more to further their acquaintance and put him on the same privileged footing that the boys at the Post enjoyed, than dozens of casual meetings could have done. It was a novel experience to Alex, and he made the most of it, exerting himself to be entertaining, in hopes of having the occasion repeated.

After the first painful moment of greeting and apology, Gay subsided into a corner of the old settle, but she did not stay there long. It was impossible to resist the infection of Alex's high spirits. When the reaction began it swung her to the farthest extreme, into an irresistible gale of merriment.

Betty's thoughts turned regretfully to the manuscript up-stairs. She was sorry that the reading had been interrupted. She knew the girls would have gained a better impression of the book if they could have heard it without this interruption. There was no telling when there would be an opportunity to finish it as good as this would have been. Once she had a hope that Alex would not stay long and that there would still be time to finish the reading after his departure. But while the candy cooled Gay started Lloyd and Alex to singing duets, she and Kitty accompanying them with violin and piano, and she knew that it was useless to hope any longer. So she settled down to enjoy the sweets and the music as heartily as the rest of them.

In one of the pauses, while they were searching through a pile of songs for some duet they wanted, Lloyd crossed over to the settle where Lucy was sitting beside the candy, and helped herself to a piece.

"I'm sorry Leland is missing this," said Lucy. "It was a time like this that gave him his nickname of 'Brer Tarrypin.' He used to be devoted to candy-pulls, and came up to the Post every time he thought we were going to have one; and he always was like Brer Tarrypin, you know, in the Uncle Remus stories."

"How is that?" inquired Lloyd, keenly interested. She knew the Uncle Remus stories by heart and wondered in what way this one had been applied to the elegant and fastidious Mr. Harcourt.

"Why, you know, Brer B'ar he helped Miss Meadows bring the wood, Brer Fox he mend the fire, Brer Wolf he kept the dogs off, Brer Rabbit he greased the bottoms of the plates to keep the candy from sticking, but' Brer Tarrypin he klum up in a cheer an' say he watch an' see dat de 'lasses didn't bile over.' The boys always used to say that the only part in the game Leland would take was watching the lasses. He'd talk to their girls while they did the work."

Gay, over at the piano, drew her brows together in a little frown. She wished that Lucy would be more discreet in her reminiscences, for she felt that Lloyd was already prejudiced against Leland more than was desirable. She called out suddenly, "Sister, can't you find that duet for us? You had it last."

Lucy rose obediently, but lingered a moment to add, as Lloyd laughed, "Leland doesn't mind it a bit. The boys all got to hailing him in Uncle Remus fashion, 'Heyo, Brer Tarrypin, wha'r you bin dis long-come-short?' and he'd answer as a matter of course, 'Lounjun roun', Brer Fox, lounjun roun'."

"It's mighty interesting to know the history of a nickname," observed Lloyd, with an amused smile, which Gay interpreted as meaning that this bit of history was being tucked away for future use.

It was late when Alex went home, taking his revolver with him. He would be staying all night near by, with a friend of his, he told them, and if anything else frightened them they were to telephone. He'd come post-haste to their rescue. Then he made the rounds of all the down-stairs windows and doors, seeing that each was properly fastened, and started Lucy on her way up-stairs with the silver pitcher and ladle safe in her hands. He seemed to leave the sense of his strong protecting presence behind him. As they bolted the door and heard him go whistling cheerily down the road, Lucy declared enthusiastically: "He's a nice boy and he's made us have such a jolly evening that I'm all wound up and don't feel a bit sleepy. Let's make a night of it and hear the rest of Betty's story. It doesn't make any difference if it is nearly midnight. We can sleep as late as we please in the morning, for Jameson isn't here, and we won't have to consider his convenience."

For once they were of the same mind, all loath to go to bed. So Betty slipped into a borrowed kimona, shook down her hair and settled herself comfortably in a cushioned chair beside the lamp.

"If they keep awake to the end," she thought, "that will be a good test. I'll know then that it has real interest and I'll not be afraid to give it to the public." So she kept an anxious watch out of the corner of her eye, intending to stop at the first sign of weariness. But the attention of her audience was as profound as it had been during the afternoon. Stifling an occasional yawn herself, she read on and on. It was half-past two when she laid aside the last page of her manuscript and looked up timidly to receive the verdict. Lloyd spoke first.

"Betty Lewis, it's perfectly splendid! I'm so proud of you --- I've always been suah you'd make a name for yoahself some day, but I nevah dreamed you'd do it so early in life, at only twenty!"

"I haven't made it yet, you know," Betty reminded her smiling. "My friends may be willing to 'pass my imperfections by,' but I've still to run the gauntlet of the critics."

There was a chorus of protests from the other girls, and Betty's heart grew warm as she listened to their cordial praise and predictions of success.

"I'm dying to have a finger in the launching of this little bark," said Gay. " Let's wrap it up tonight and have it all ready to send off in the morning. It would be so fine to be able to brag to my grandchildren that I helped. I have a strong flat box just the size of the manuscript. I'm sure it will fit it exactly. Wait and I'll go and get it."

She ran out of the room, and, while she rummaged through a trunk to find it, Lucy climbed up on a chair to look on the wardrobe shelf for some heavy wrapping-paper which she had folded away.

"Let me have some part in it too," cried Kitty. "Although I've no idea what it can be when I'm so far from the source of supplies. Oh, I know now," she said after an instant's thought. "You'll need a string to tie around the box. Here's something that will do."

Opening the wicker satchel she had brought with her she took out a dainty nightgown. It was the work of only a moment to slip out the fresh, new pink ribbons that had been run through the lace beading.

"Now let me tie it!" she insisted. "See what an artistic bow I can make!"

When the manuscript had been placed in Gay's box, tied with Kitty's ribbon and wrapped in Lucy's paper, it was gravely handed over to Lloyd, who had suggested that as it was to be sent by express it ought to be sealed.

"There's a stick of sealing-wax in the drawer of the library table," said Lucy, "if anybody's brave enough to go down and get it at this 'wee sma' hour.' It must be nearly three o'clock."

Before she had finished her sentence Lloyd had lighted a candle to carry down-stairs. She was back in a moment. They all stood around in a circle while she melted the red wax in the heat of the candle. " Somebody ought to say an abracadabra charm ovah it," she suggested. "You do it, Kitty." Then she looked around her helplessly. "What am I going to do for a seal? Quick, somebody, hand me something off the dressing-table. The stoppah of that vinaigrette will do."

Before Lucy could hand her the bottle Gay caught up the old silver ladle and pressed the end of its handle down on the soft wax.

"There's a crest on it," she explained, holding it firmly in place. "The motto will read backwards, but that won't make any difference. There!" She lifted the ladle, and they all crowded around to see the clear-cut impression left in the red wax, of a dagger thrust through a crown. The tiny reversed letters of the motto were undecipherable, but Gay translated them.

"Jameson says it's the Latin for 'I strive till I overcome,' and that's a fine war-cry for Betty. She's striven so long it's bound to bring a crown, only that other thing ought to be a pen instead of a dagger."

"Let me put one seal on, just for luck," begged Kitty when Lloyd had carefully fastened both ends of the package. She held the wax to the flame. " Everybody make a wish," she ordered. "Wish hard."

They wished in silence. In silence they looked on while Kitty dropped the third red drop on the package and pressed into it the crown and the dagger of the ladle's crest. Then they stood over Betty while she addressed it to the publisher to whom long ago she had decided to send it. Then Gay laid it solemnly beside the silver heirlooms as one of the things "to be carried out first in case of fire."

"Three o'clock and all is well," called Kitty as the chime on the stair began its warning. "The deed is done and all the omens are auspicious."

"That will be a scene to remember always," thought Betty gratefully, looking around at the four pretty girls in the candlelight, as they made a ceremony of the launching of her little ship, their faces filled with loving interest.

The chickens were crowing for daylight before she fell asleep, for she could not hinder her happy thoughts from straying off to the future, when this same little ship should come home from sea with its cargo of fame and fortune that the girls had predicted. She had dedicated the book simply "To my Godmother," and she pictured to herself the supreme moment when she could lay the published volume in her hands. She would send one to Madam Chartley, she decided, and one to Miss Chilton, whose instructions in English had been such an inspiration. to her. Then, of course, each one of the girls must have one.

Strangers would write to her, people would thrill with pleasure over her pages as she had thrilled over other authors, and --- oh, yes! Davy must have one of the very first copies of the book, since he had been the first lover of her stories. She almost sat up in bed in the excitement of her next thought. She wondered why it never had occurred to her before. If the book should be really successful it would bring her money of her own. She could be the good fairy of the Cuckoo's Nest. How many comforts she could slip into it to make life easier for poor tired, over-worked cousin Hetty! And --- Davy could go away to school!

That last thought sent a warm glad tingle over her. How good God had been to give her this delightful way of making a Road of the Loving Heart in every one's memory --- with her pen! She felt that her whole life ought to be a perpetual Thanksgiving, and when she fell asleep with a smile on her lips, she was repeating drowsily: "My lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. Yea, I have a goodly heritage."

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