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   Chapter 5 FOURTH OF JULY.

The Old Stone House By Constance Fenimore Woolson Characters: 38187

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03


The first of July came, and with it the summer heat. Hugh hung up a hammock in the second story hall, between the north and south windows, so as to catch every wandering zephyr; and, armed with a book, he betook himself to this airy retreat for the purpose of study. At least that was his announcement at the breakfast-table. "For the purpose of sleep?" suggested Sibyl. "Day-dreaming!" said Bessie. "Lazying!" said Tom, coining a word for the occasion with true American versatility.

"Very well, fellow-citizens, laugh on," said Hugh; "these are the last strawberries of the season, and I have no inclination to discuss anything at present but their sweetness. But I will venture to assert that at six o'clock this evening I shall have imbibed more knowledge in that very hammock then any of you in your prosy chairs."

"I shall go and see Miss Skede about my white dresses," said Sibyl, rising.

"Not this warm morning," exclaimed Bessie.

"The very time. I could not have chosen a better day. Miss Skede has no imagination; she can never lift herself beyond the present. If I had gone to her in June, she would have made my dresses heavy, in spite of all my orders and descriptions. Even yesterday, for instance, she would have been unable to conceive anything more than half-way effects; but to-day it is so warm that the heat may inspire her, and I hope to get out of her something as flowing and delicate as a summer cloud."

"I see now, Sibyl, where all your poetry goes," said Hugh, laughing; "the puffs and ruffles get it all!"

"Fortunately Graham has enough for two," said Bessie, looking up with a malicious smile.

But Sibyl's temper was never ruffled: "I like Graham, as you know, Bessie. You, also, have your likes and dislikes, but I do not tease you about them."

"That is true, Sibyl," said Bessie, warmly; "you certainly have the best disposition in the family. I wish I had half your amiability."

Soon after breakfast, Tom and Gem went out into the garden, and sat down under the shade of the great elm-tree. The three dogs were not long in discovering their place of retreat, and invited themselves to join the party with their usual assurance,-Turk stretching himself on the ground alongside, Grip under a currant-bush, and Pete Trone occupying himself in tilling the soil.

"What are you going to do to-day, Tom?" said Gem, as she adorned

Turk's shaggy back with flowers.

"Well, I don't exactly know," replied Tom; "the B. B.'s are coming, and we've thought a little of building a house up a tree."

"What for?" said Gem rather languidly,-for when the thermometer stands in the eighties, the idea of building becomes oppressive.

"What for!" repeated Tom indignantly; "that's just like a girl! For fun, of course. What else, do you suppose? But you needn't have anything to do with it. You can go right into the house this very minute, if you like."

"I don't want to go into the house; you know that very well, Tom Morris. I always like to see the B. B.'s, and I think a house in a tree will be splendid!" said Gem quickly.

"Won't it, though! We're going to take the big cask over there, and hoist up all the boards, and nails, and things. There's a place in the main branches where we can build a real room, big enough for all of us, if we squeeze tight. We're going to have a floor, and roof, and sides, and a hole in the bottom to climb in,-a sort of sally-port, you know. It will be a regular fort, and I rather guess those south-end fellows will wink out of the wrong sides of their eyes when they see it."

"Won't it be rather warm up there?" suggested Gem.

"I never saw such a baby!" exclaimed Tom. "Warm? of course it will be, and what then? The monitors were warm, I reckon, but you never caught our soldiers whining about it. The B. B.'s will stand up to their work like men, and they'll stay in that house when it's built, even if they melt down to their very backbones!"

"I wonder what Pete is doing?" said Gem, after a pause, wisely making a diversion in the conversation.

"Oh! burying bones, I suppose," said Tom; "He's always at it. I believe he'd dig a hole in an iron floor if he was chained up on it. Hallo, Pete! stop that! You're making too much dust. Do you hear me, sir? Very well! you'd-a-bet-" When Tom got as far as "bet," pronounced in an awful voice, Pete knew that a stick was forthcoming. He accordingly paused in his digging, his little black nose covered with yellow earth, and his eyes fixed mournfully on the half-finished hole. "Let us go and dig up some of his bones and show them to him," said Tom; "it always makes him feel so ashamed! I know where they are; he has his favorite places, and I've often seen him toiling up and down from one to the other, as important as the man that goes round with the panorama and jaws at the people."

"What an expression!" said Gem, with an air of superiority; "you boys are so common!"

"And you girls are so soft!" said Tom. "I'd rather be a boy than a girl, any day. Come, now!"

But Gem was not inclined to argue this point, so they carried out their bone-hunting project, much to the discomfiture of Pete Trone, Esq., who followed behind as if fascinated, watched the disinterment of each relic with mortified interest, and, when the last was brought into view, drooped his head and tail, and sought refuge in the corn-field where he relieved his feelings by burrowing wildly in twenty different places.

"There come the B. B.'s!" exclaimed Gem, interrupting Tom in a search for artichokes; "eight of them, as sure as you live!"

"What an expression," said Tom, imitating his sister's voice; "you girls are so common!" But the approach of the visitors made a truce a matter of necessity, and soon the project of the tree-house engrossed the entire attention. Boards were brought from the little tool-house, saws were in demand, and Gem was deputed to confiscate all the hammers and nails in the house for the use of the builders; the work went bravely on, and by noon the walls of the fortification were up, and the roof well advanced towards completion. A ladder brought from the barn, took the workmen half-way up the trunk; but the old tree was lofty, and a long space intervened between the end of the ladder and the lowest branches, which must of necessity be ascended in that squirming manner peculiar to boys, wherein they delight to bark their shins, tear their trousers, and blister their hands in the pursuit of glory. Gem, of course, could not hope to emulate the B. B.'s in this mode of progression towards the fortification, but she brought nails and carried boards with great energy. When there was no call for her services, she watched with intense interest the B. B. who happened to be squirming up. If there was no B. B. squirming up, there was sure to be one squirming down, for a principal part of the time seemed to be devoted to journeys below and aloft, besides elaborate contrivances for slinging boards and tools to the climbers' backs; indeed, to a looker-on, this seemed to be the chief interest of the fortification.

At last it was done, all but the floor; Tom said it did not matter about that, as the boys could easily stand on the branches. Word was given to ascend, and, one by one, all the B. B.'s squirmed up the tree and took their places inside; nothing was to be seen but their feet, huddled together on the branches. It took ten minutes for all the band to assemble on high, but in less than two, down they squirmed again. "What is the matter?" said Gem in astonishment; she had not expected to see the B. B.'s for hours, absorbed as they would be in their leafy abode.

"We're going to take up the dogs," said Tom, who came first; "we're going to sling 'em up in a basket. It will be such fun, and they'll like it first-rate."

"Oh, don't, Tom!" exclaimed Gem; "Turk is too big, Grip will be sure to fall out, and it will make Pete Trone seasick."

But no attention was paid to her remonstrances, and the B. B.'s inspired to new exertions, made numerous journeys up and down, rigging a pulley and making various preparations for the aerial voyage. When all was ready there was a discussion as to which dog should go. Turk was too big, no basket would hold him; and Grip, Tom said, had "no common sense," and would not appreciate the situation. Pete Trone was evidently the man for the place, and he jumped gayly into the basket at Tom's command, without any suspicion of danger; and when he found himself hanging in mid-air, he did not flinch, but settled down resolutely on his haunches, looking over the side with one eye as much as to say, "Who's afraid?"

"Didn't I tell you?" said Tom enthusiastically. "I knew Pete would come out strong. It will take a good while to get him up there. I say, boys, let's sing 'Up in a Balloon.' It will be appropriate to the occasion."

So all the B. B.'s joined in the chorus with so much power that Aunt

Faith came to the back door to listen.

"Tom! Tom!" she called, when the song was finished; "what are you doing?"

"It's only the B. B.'s, Aunt Faith. We're hoisting Pete Trone up into the tree," shouted Tom.

"Dinner will be ready in a few moments; you had better come in and rest; you must be very warm," said Aunt Faith from the shaded piazza.

When the basket reached the air-shanty, the B. B.'s who were there to receive it, suddenly remembered that there was no floor, and Pete, although a dog of varied accomplishments, could hardly be expected to keep his footing on the branches. So there was nothing to be done but let him down again, which was accordingly effected with great care, Pete sitting composedly in the basket without moving a muscle, and jumping out when he reached the ground with conscious importance wagging in his tail. It was one o'clock, and the B. B.'s, after promising to return, adjourned for dinner; Tom and Gem bathed their burning faces, and joined the family circle in the cool dining-room.

"You are as bad as a fire-ball, Tom," said Hugh, looking at his red face; "what have you been doing?"

"Splendid fun! We've been building a house in a tree." And forthwith

Tom launched into a full description of the fortification.

"'Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness, some boundless contiguity of shade!' That was the motive which actuated the Band of Brothers, I suppose," said Hugh.

"The B. B.'s don't know anything about poetry," said Tom, with scorn; "they've got other things to attend to, I can tell you."

"They're coming again this afternoon," said Gem, "to talk over what we shall do on Fourth of July."

"To be sure; the Birthday of Freedom is close upon us," said Hugh; "whatever you do, my countrymen, let it be worthy of the occasion."

"We've got two or three plans," began Gem, but Tom interrupted her;

"Don't breathe a word, it will spoil all, Gem."

"I hope it is not dangerous," said patient Aunt Faith, who associated the Birthday of Independence with visions of boys disfigured for life with gunpowder, and girls running madly towards the house with their muslin dresses blazing.

"None of the plans are dangerous, Aunt Faith," said Tom; "but we don't want anybody to know anything about them beforehand; especially Hugh."

"I smell a rat,-I see him floating in the air,-but I shall yet be able to nip him in the bud," quoted Hugh, with pointed emphasis.

"Now don't, Hugh! just promise that you won't cross the back terrace until after the Fourth," pleaded Gem. "It will be twice the fun for you, too, if you don't know anything about it beforehand." After some delay the two conspirators wrenched the required promise from their cousin, who pretended to be deeply curious about the plot, and heroically unselfish in abandoning his designs upon it.

At three o'clock the meeting was held under the elm-tree on the terrace; the B. B.'s reinforced to the number of twelve were there, and Tom and Gem did the honors with cordial hospitality. Many plans were brought forward for the consideration of the patriots, but objections were found to one and all; at length Gem disappeared and after a long delay, returned carrying some books under her arm. "I have thought of something," she said, taking a seat under the tree; "we will have the battle of Bunker Hill and the life of General Israel Putnam." The word "battle" stimulated the B. B.'s, who were lying about on the grass, worn out with their efforts to arrange a programme. "Bunker Hill forever!" said one, tossing up his hat. Tom said nothing; he was not going to be carried away by any of Gem's nonsense, not he! "My plan is this," began Gem, encouraged by the general attention; "we will have a real battle,-we've got torpedoes, fire-crackers, and Tom's cannon, you know,-and we'll make a big monument of boards for Bunker's Hill; I've been there and know just how it looks."

"It wasn't there when the battle was fought, Goosey," said Tom.

"How do you know?" retorted Gem; "you were not there, I guess. And as to history, who got ten imperfect marks in one week?"

The B. B.'s not being strong in history, did not take sides in this contest, and Gem went on triumphantly. "Jim Morse can be General Putnam, because his uncle's name is Putnam; you see, I thought of that," said Gem, with conscious pride.

"Hurrah for Jim!" said the enthusiastic B. B. before mentioned.

"Then there will be the wolf-scene," continued Gem. "You remember how Putnam went down in a cave when everybody else was afraid, and shot a great wolf there. They had a rope around his legs, and when he pulled it they jerked it up, and out he came holding the wolf by the ears. Now that will do splendidly for us, for we can have the underground shanty for the cave, and Turk will just do for the wolf."

This last idea was received with applause, and the discussion became general, even Tom forgetting his scorn in the interest of the occasion, and actually taking some importance upon himself because his sister was the originator of so much brilliancy. Books were consulted, suggestions and changes made, and the whole plot of the drama altered again and again. Each B. B. felt himself called upon to be a general, and they had all selected the names of revolutionary heroes, when some one suggested that an army composed entirely of generals would be difficult to manage. Then, there was the question of time, also. Should they confine themselves to Bunker Hill, or give an abstract of the whole war? Tom was for the whole war; but that was because he had already announced himself as George Washington, and naturally wished for as many battles as possible. He intended, also, to throw in the episode of the hatchet; "It will be real easy," he said, advocating his plan, "I know it all, out of the reader, and besides, we've got a cherry-tree."

But another boy maintained that more than one battle would spoil the effect; a number of the forces must of course be left dead and wounded upon the field, and it would not look well for them to come to life over and over again, right before everybody.

It was finally decided to adopt a circuitous course, steering between the impossibilities, yet bringing in all the desired effects. The drama was to open with the wolf-hunt. Then the scene was to change; Putnam, peacefully engaged in ploughing, was to hear the glorious news and depart instantly for Bunker Hill. The battle was to rage fiercely on the terrace slope, and in the vegetable garden, while a masked battery did terrible execution in the asparagus bed, and whole ranks of the enemy were to be mowed down in the cornfield conveniently out of sight. As Tom said, "Something must be left to the imagination." The third scene was to bring in the hanging of the spy, Nathan Palmer, in order that Putnam might read his famous letter on the subject; but as Gem objected to the tragical end, it was decided to alter history a little, and let Nathan escape by night, which change would also give a fine chance for dark-lanterns, masks, and a muffled drum. The whole was to close with a tableau, and the singing of the "Star-Spangled Banner," in which the audience were to be especially requested to join.

The outline of the performance was now arranged and nothing remained but to fill in the details; the whole afternoon was consumed in this labor, and still the work was not completed. For several days the B. B.'s studied severely; United States histories were in great demand, and the pages of Shakespeare were turned over for inspiration. Each boy was to compile his own speeches, and many hurried consultations were held over back fences, and in haylofts; one boy, who represented General Stark, selected Hamlet's 'to be or not to be.' A companion objected to the lines as inappropriate, but General Stark replied, "Well, I know the piece because I've spoken it in school, and I ain't going to learn another, I can tell you! I don't see why it won't do as well as anything else."

Fourth of July came, and with it, great excitement in the vicinity of the old stone house. The B. B.'s belonged to the neighboring families, and their fathers, mothers and sisters were to compose the audience for whom benches had already been placed on the terrace under the trees. The day was warm, but enthusiasm was warmer, and although there was some foreboding of suffering among the audience as they looked out from their cool parlors into the vivid sunshine, there was no flinching among the actors.

There had, however, been great difficulty with the cows who were to represent General Putnam's oxen, for the horses' harness did not fit them very well, and they objected to dragging the plough as well-regulated oxen should have done; so at the last moment it was decided to give up the idea of a moving scene, and simply attempt a tableau; General Putnam at his plough in the field, reading the Declaration of Independence. A sheet could be held up until the cows were in position, then it was to be dropped and the tableau revealed to the audience. "The effect would be grand," Tom said.

At ten o'clock the actors were all in the vegetable garden, and the audience under cover of straw hats and parasols were slowly assembling on the benches above. The cannon was loaded at the top of an earthwork commanding the asparagus-bed, torpedo ammunition was stored in a box half way down the hill, and fire-crackers were everywhere, provided by the combatants who had clubbed their spending-money for the purpose. A hole had been made in the roof of the underground shanty through which Putnam was to be let down by a rope, and Turk, as the wolf, had been imprisoned there since early morning, with Grip to keep him company. At last all was ready, and the orchestra opened the entertainment with "Hail Columbia" on the violin, by Tom, accompanied by the jews-harp, tambourine and triangle, and a flute which could only play two notes, but made up in power what it lacked in variety. Tom had tried hard to learn "Hail Columbia" for this occasion. He thought he knew it, and the family thought s

o too, from the amount of practising they had heard. But the excitement confused the performer, and the violin, after careering around among "Independence be your boast," ended in the well-known "Nelly Bly," Tom's chef-d'oeuvre. Fortunately the change made no difference to the rest of the orchestra, their accompaniment was the same to all tunes, and "Nelly Bly" was finished in triumph, and received with applause by the good-natured audience and calls for "first-violin."

But the orchestra had already dispersed to aid in the grand opening scene, the wolf-hunt, an "historical incident in the life of General Israel Putnam of glorious memory," as the written programme designated it. First appeared one of the B. B.'s attired as the "Classic Muse," with a wreath of laurel around his brow. He recited the following lines taken from the "Putnam Memorial:-"

"Hail! Hero of Bunker's Hill.

Thy presence now my soul doth thrill!

This is a sacred and heavenly spot

Where thou, Putnam, didst thy body drop;

May future generations be blest

With the patriotic spirit thou possessed!

Thy memory is like a sweet balm,

That will bless and do no harm."

This remarkable ode concluded, the Muse retired, and Putnam himself appeared, dressed in full uniform with a sword by his side, and a majestic feather in his hat. The general made a bow to the audience and repeated the following verse, also extracted from the "Memorial."

"I am Israel Putnam the brave,

Who in Pomfret shot the wolf in the cave;

And by her ears did draw her out,-

I am no coward, but rash and stout!"

Having thus announced his character, General Putnam walked towards the shanty and brandished his sword. "Ha!" he said, snorting fiercely, "there is a wolf here! I shall descend and slay him!"

"Nay, nay!" shouted the B. B.'s in a chorus, as they rushed from the currant-bushes where they had remained hidden to give full effect to the scene. "Putnam, descend not; the wolf is wild!" cried one. "Putnam, descend not; remember thy child!" said another. (This was considered highly poetical by the B. B.'s). But Putnam was not to be persuaded, and the rope was therefore carefully secured to his belt. He took leave of all his friends, shaking them all by the hand, and then, feather and all, he was lowered into the cave, i.e. underground shanty. It was intended that there should be no delay in this part of the scene; Turk had been through his portion of the programme many times, and had allowed himself to be hauled up and down with his usual good-nature. As it was expected, therefore, that Putnam would vanquish the wolf in no time, no dialogue had been provided for the friends and neighbors waiting outside, and as time passed and no signal to "draw up," came, they grew somewhat embarrassed. Tom, urged by necessity, spoke impromptu: "He fighteth the wolf!" he cried; "he fighteth fiercely!" Then, in an undertone to his next neighbor, "say something, Will; anything will do." But Will could think of nothing but "He fighteth the wolf!" also; so he said it to Dick and kicked him on the shin as a signal to proceed. "Doth he?" said Dick after a long pause; then, at his wits' end as he received another and fiercer kick, he varied the phrase and stammered out, "Doth he?" in a despairing voice, at which all the audience laughed uproariously. Still there was no signal from below, and Tom grew desperate. Stooping down he called through the aperture, "I say, Putnam, why don't you jerk out that wolf?" But no answer came from the den. "Sing something," said Tom to the B. B.'s in an undertone, "'Battle Cry of Freedom' will do; while I run down and see what is the matter." So all the friends and neighbors joined in singing a song, probably to intimidate the wolf, while Tom hurried down to the door at the bottom of the hill.

"What is the matter, Jim?" he cried, bursting in to the underground shanty; "you've almost spoilt the whole thing! Why don't you hurry up?"

"It's all very well to say 'hurry up,'" said General Putnam, indignantly, "but Turk won't let me come near him. He's worse than a wolf any day."

"I suppose he's tired; he's been shut up here since daylight," said

Tom looking at the angry old dog. "Well, I suppose you'll have to take

Grip, then. Hurry,-they're at the last verse."

So the signal was given, and the friends and neighbors, rejoiced that their embarrassment was over, began to pull with such a will that Tom had hardly time to run back and repeat his prepared speech. "He is safe! Our noble Putnam is safe!" cried Tom, with enthusiasm. "He bringeth out the wolf, the great, the dreadful wolf!" At this instant the General hove into view, his feathered hat knocked over his eyes, the rope girding his chest with alarming tightness, and wee little Grip suspended by the nape of his neck as the wolf, "the great, the dreadful wolf!" A burst of irrepressible laughter from the audience greeted this tableau, and Putnam's mother cried out in great anxiety, "Jimmy, Jimmy, take off that rope directly; it will hurt your chest!"

The first part over, the scene was supposed to be changed. Half of the B. B.'s were required to bring the two cows from the cow-house where they were standing already harnessed, and the others put the plough in position and hold up the sheet. But the cows were obstinate and would not walk together, so that gradually the whole force was summoned, and Gem was left to hold up the curtain with the assistance of a small boy, the brother of General Stark. At length, after severe labor, the cows were brought up behind the sheet and attached to the plough, but before Putnam could take his position, one of them, a frisky animal, put down her head and shook her horns so threateningly that Gem abandoned her corner of the sheet and fled in terror, leaving the mortified patriots to the full blaze of public ridicule. Tom was furious, but he reserved his rage for another time. "Bring those cows together by main force and hold 'em still, boys," he said in a concentrated tone as he picked up the corner of the sheet. "Take hold of the plough, Jim. Now, Dick, say your piece." The Classic Muse advancing before the curtain obeyed, in the following language: "Behold the peaceful Putnam tilling the soil. His gentle oxen feed among the clover. But the noble Declaration of Independence rouseth his manly heart. He leaveth his team in the furrow and goeth to Bunker Hill!" declaimed the Muse at the top of his voice as the sheet was dropped disclosing the spectacle of ten boys fiercely holding the two cows in position while Putnam, in full uniform as usual, peacefully read a huge paper document apparently all unmindful of the struggles of his team.

The effect of this tableau was, like the first, far greater than anticipated. The audience laughed till they cried; and not the least part of the amusement was the retreat of the "peaceful oxen," wildly careering back to the pasture, their harness fluttering behind their frightened heels.

After a short pause the Battle of Bunker Hill began in earnest, and was esteemed a great success. The cannon raked the asparagus-bed very effectively, and the musketry of torpedoes and fire-crackers, was really deafening; the British flag was ignominiously hauled down from the Bunker Hill Monument, and the Stars and Stripes raised in its place; every now and then, also, the shrieks and groans of the wounded, were heard from the corn-patch, which added, of course, the pathetic element to the scene. At last, when all the ammunition was exhausted, peace was declared, and the American forces assembling around the monument, listened to General Stark, as he vehemently burst forth into "To be, or not to be," pointing aloft, at intervals, to the Banner of Freedom, and closing with,-

"The Flag of our Union! At Lexington first

Through clouds of oppression its radiance burst;

But at brave Bunker Hill rolled back the last crest,

And, a bright constellation, it blazed in the West.

Division! No, never! The Union forever!

And cursed be the hand that our country would sever!"

as a highly appropriate termination, giving a local and military coloring to Hamlet's celebrated soliloquy.

The battle well over, and generous applause bestowed upon the army, the episode of the spy was introduced, and Gem retrieved her character by patiently holding up her end of the sheet while the tent was constructed out of some poles and colored blankets,-a real camp-fire along side being relied upon to give a life-like resemblance to "Valley Forge." The sheet removed, General Putnam was discovered seated within his tent, writing a letter. Enter, from the potato-patch, an orderly, who reported in a deep voice, "General Tryon demands Nathan Palmer."

"Ha! Doth he so! British miscreant! thus will I fell him!" exclaimed Putnam, brandishing his sword with so much ferocity that the whole tent fell to the ground, covering him with blankets and confusion. Rescued from the wreck by the orderly, the general stammered out his next sentence: "Behold what I have written to Tryon! Take the letter and read it to the army!" he said sternly, and retired-to what was once his tent. The enemy filed in from the chicken-yard, presented arms, and stood motionless while the orderly read as follows:-

"MARCH 8th, 1777.

"--- TRYON,-Sir:

"Nathan Palmer, a lieutenant in your king's

service, was taken in my camp as a spy, He was

tried as a spy; he was condemned as a spy; and

he shall be hanged as a spy.

PUTNAM.

"P. S.-Night. He is hanged."

This celebrated letter having been read, Putnam's part was over, and he retired backwards to the corn-patch to slow music from the orchestra hidden behind the currant-bushes, while the army marched away in the opposite direction,-the two effects having been contrived by Tom to imitate a dissolving view. This pantomime was received by the merry audience with great applause.

The next scene exhibited, after long preparation, the body of the unfortunate Palmer hanging from a tree, suspended by his hands, with a rope conspicuously coiled around his neck. The Classic Muse again appeared, and took his position near by, while the American army in masks, with dark-lanterns and muffled drums, filed in softly, and formed a circle around the tree. "Friends!" said one of the band stepping forward, "I am Ethan Allen, and I cannot leave this man, although a British subject, suspended to this tree. We will bury him, friends, 'darkly, at dead of night, by the struggling moonbeams' misty light, and our lanterns dimly burning.'"

The army agreed to these sentiments, and, deputing two of their number to act as bearers, marched away to the sound of the muffled drums. But the body, which had conveniently dropped to the ground in the meantime, proved too heavy for the bearers. John Chase, who had been thoughtlessly allowed to take the part of the Spy, was a particularly heavy boy, and the bearers pulled and tugged in vain. The army, absorbed in the muffled drums (each boy had one), was already at some distance, and the final tableau, in which the body took a part, was still to be enacted; the bearers made another effort, the perspiration rolled down their faces, but all in vain. There was nothing to be done but signal to the Classic Muse to come forward and help. He hastily tucked up his robes and took hold. With his aid the spy was hurried after the retreating army, reaching it just in time to spring to his feet under the flag-staff where floated the Star-Spangled Banner, Red, White, and Blue, and exclaim fervently, "Fellow-citizens, I am not dead! Behold me a changed man! From this moment I am a true and loyal patriot. Long live the Sword of Bunker Hill!" As the resuscitated spy uttered these words, the army formed an effective tableau around him, and the Classic Muse, still breathless from his late exertions, waved his laurel-wreath in the foreground, and struck up the "Star-Spangled Banner," in which the audience joined with enthusiasm.

The patriotic drama being over, great applause ensued, and then the army was invited in to lunch in Aunt Faith's cool dining-room; here ice-cream, cakes, and other camp-dishes were provided in great abundance, the soldiers stacked arms, and seemed to enjoy themselves as easily as private citizens. The numerous young sisters of the B. B.'s gradually forgot their shyness, and the afternoon was spent in games and merriment,-the Old Stone House being entirely given up to the young folks early in the evening, when the weary warriors departed.

"It's been a splendid Fourth!" said Tom, throwing himself into a chair when the last guests had taken their departure; "I wish we could have such fun every day!"

"If you had it every day you would soon be tired of it," said Aunt

Faith smiling.

About midnight, when all was still, Aunt Faith, who had not been asleep, thought she heard a slight sound; she listened, and distinguished faint sobs coming from Gem's room, as though the child had her head buried in the pillows. Throwing on a wrapper, she hurried thither, and found her little niece with flushed cheeks and tearful eyes, tossing uneasily on her bed. "What is the matter, dear?" asked Aunt Faith, anxiously.

"Oh, is it you, Aunt Faith? I am so glad you have come!" said Gem. "There is nothing the matter, only I cannot sleep, and I feel so badly."

Do you feel ill? Are you in any pain?"

"No; only hot, and, and-a little frightened."

"Frightened? My dear child, what do you mean?"

"I don't know, auntie. I woke up, and kept thinking of dreadful things," sobbed Gem, burying her head in the pillows. Aunt Faith saw that the child was trembling violently, and, sitting down on the edge of the bed, she drew the little form into her motherly arms, and soothed her as she would have soothed a baby. "Come into my room, dear," she said; "you are tired and excited after this busy day. I have not slept, either, and I shall be glad to have you go with me."

So the two went, back across the hall, Gem clinging to her aunt, and glancing fearfully around, as though she expected to see some ghostly object in every well-known corner. When she had crept into her bed, however, she felt more safe, and nestled down with a deep sigh of relief. After some conversation on various subjects, Aunt Faith said: "And now, my little girl, you must tell me what frightened you. I have always thought you a brave child. What was it you fancied?"

"Oh, I don't know, auntie; all kinds of things. Ghosts, and everything."

"Gem, you know very well there are no such things as ghosts."

"Really and truly, Aunt Faith?" asked Gem, in a low tone.

"Certainly not. I am surprised that you have any such ideas. Where did you get them?"

"I have heard the girls talking about them, sometimes, in the kitchen.

They believe in them, Aunt Faith."

"That is because they are ignorant, my dear. Ignorant people believe a great many things that are false. You know there are no fairies, Gem? You know there is no such person as Santa Claus, don't you?"

"Of course, aunt. Only very little children believe in Santa Claus."

"Well, my dear, ignorant people are like little children; they will tell and believe stories about ghosts just as little children tell and believe stories about Santa Claus and his coming down the chimney. My dear little girl, never think of those silly ghost-stories again. People die, and the good Lord takes them into another life; where they go or what they are doing we do not know, but we need never fear that they will trouble us. It is of far more consequence that we should think of ourselves, and whether we are prepared to enter into the presence of our Creator. Our summons will come and we know not how soon it may be. When I think of our family circle, six of us under the roof to-night, I know that it is possible, I may even say probable that among so many a parting will come before very long. And, my little Gem, if it should be you, the youngest, I pray that you may be ready. I do not want you to think of death as anything dreadful, dear. It is not dreadful, although those who are left behind feel lonely and sad. I look forward with a happy anticipation to meeting my brothers and sisters, my father and mother, and my husband; it will be like going home to me. But, although I am old, the summons does not always come to the oldest, first. Tell me, my child, are you trying to be good, to govern your temper, and to do what is right as far as you are able?"

"I try when I think of it, Aunt Faith," said Gem, "but half the time I don't think; I forget all about it."

"I do not expect you to think of it all the time, dear; but when you do think of it, will you promise me to try as hard as you can? Will you try to speak gently to Tom, to forgive him when he teases you, to give up your own way when your playmates desire something else, and, above all, to pray night and morning with your whole heart?"

"Yes, Aunt Faith," whispered Gem, "I will try as hard as I can."

"God bless you, my darling," said Aunt Faith, kissing her little niece affectionately. "And now, go to sleep; it is very late."

With the happy facility of youth, Gem was soon asleep, but Aunt Faith lay wakeful through several hours of the still summer night. Her heart, was disturbed by thoughts of Sibyl and her worldly ambition, of Hugh and his unsettled religious views, of Bessie and her lack of serious thoughts on any subject. Again the sore feeling of trouble came to her, the doubt as to her own fitness for the charge of educating and training the five little children left in her care. "I fear I am not strong enough," she thought; "I fear both my faith and my perseverance have been weak. Have I entirely failed? When I look at Sibyl, and Hugh, and Bessie, I fear I have. Even the younger children are by no means what I had hoped they would be."

A terrible despondency crept into Aunt Faith's heart, and the slow tears of age rolled down her cheeks; but with a strong effort of will she conquered the feeling, and kneeling down by the bedside, she poured out her sorrows in prayer. She laid all her troubles at the feet of her Saviour, and besought Him to strengthen her and give her wisdom for her appointed task. Again and again she asked for faith, earnest faith, which should never falter, although the future might look dark to her mortal eyes, and again and again she gave all her darlings into the Lord's hand. "Give me strength to do my best," she prayed, "and faith to leave the rest to Thee,"-and gradually there came to her a peace which passeth all understanding, a peace which cometh after earnest prayer, and which those who pray not earnestly, can never know.

Aunt Faith knelt a while longer, but no words formed themselves in her mind; she seemed to feel a benediction falling around her, and a sweet contentment came into her heart. When she lay down again, sleep came, and for the rest of the night all was quiet in the old stone house.

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