helen's babies by john habberton part 7 there was an awkward pauseâ€”it seemed anage. another blunder, and all on account of those dreadful children. i couldthink of no possible way to turn the conversation; stranger yet, missmayton could not do so either. something must be doneâ€”i could atleast be honest, come what wouldâ€”i would be honest. "miss mayton," said i, hastily, earnestly,but in a very low tone,
"budge is a marplot, but he is a truthfulinterpreter for all that. but whatever my fate may be, please do not suspectme of falling suddenly into love for a holiday's diversion. my maladyis of some months' standing. iâ€”" "i want to talk some," observed budge. "youtalk all the whole time. iâ€”iâ€”when _i_ loves anybody i kisses them." miss mayton gave a little start, and my thoughtsfollowed each other with unimagined rapidity. she did not turnthe conversationâ€”it could not be possible that she could not. she wasnot angry, or she would
have expressed herself. could it be thatâ€” i bent over her and acted upon budge's suggestion.as she displayed no resentment, i pressed my lips a second timeto her forehead, then she raised her head slightly, and i saw, in spiteof darkness and shadows, that alice mayton had surrendered at discretion.taking her hand and straightening myself to my full height, ioffered to the lord mere fervent thanks than he ever heard from mein church. then i heard budge say, "_i_ wants to kiss you, too," and i sawmy glorious alice snatch the little scamp into her arms, and treathim with more affection than
i ever imagined was in her nature. then sheseized toddie, and gave him a few tokens of forgivenessâ€”i dare not thinkthey were of gratitude. suddenly two or three ladies came upon thepiazza. "come, boys," said i. "then i'll call withthe carriage tomorrow at three, miss mayton. good evening." "good evening," replied the sweetest voicein the world; "i'll be ready at three." "budge," said i, as soon as we were fairlyoutside the hedge-gate, "what do you like better than anything elsein the world?"
"candy," said budge, very promptly. "what next?" "oranges." "oh, figs, an' raisins, an' dear little kittie-kitties,an' drums, an' picture-books, an' little bakin' dishes tomake mud-pies in, an' turtles, an' little wheelbarrows." "anything else?" "oh, yesâ€”great big black dogsâ€”an' a goat,an' a wagon for him to draw me in."
"very well, old fellowâ€”you shall have everyone of those things tomorrow." "ohâ€”hâ€”hâ€”hâ€”h!" exclaimed budge, "iguess you're something like the lord, ain't you?" "what makes you think so, budge?" "oh, 'cause you can do such lots of thingsat once. but ain't poor little tod goin' to have noffin'?" "yes, everything he wants. what would youlike, toddie?" "wants a candy cigar," replied toddie.
"what else?" "don't want nuffin' elseâ€”don't want to beboddered wif lots of fings." the thoughts which were mine that nightâ€”thesense of how glorious a thing it is to be a man and be lovedâ€”thehumility that comes with such a victory as i had gainedâ€”the rapid alternationof happy thoughts and noble resolutionsâ€”what man is there whodoes not know my whole story better than i can tell it? i put my nephewsto bed; i told them every story they asked for; and when budge, in sayinghis prayers, said "an' bless that nice lady that uncle harry 'spects,"i interrupted his
devotions with a hearty hug. the childrenhad been awake so far beyond their usual hour for retiring that they droppedasleep without giving any special notice of their intention to doso. asleep, their faces were simply angelic. as i stood, candle inhand, gazing gratefully upon them, i remembered a sadly neglected duty.i hurried to the library and wrote the following to my sister: "hillcrest, monday night. "dear helen:â€”i should have written you beforehad i been exactly certain what to say about your boys. i confessthat until now i have
been blind to some of their virtues, and haveimagined i detected an occasional fault. but the scales have fallenfrom my eyes, and i see clearly that my nephews are angelsâ€”positivelyangels. if i seem to speak extravagantly, i beg to refer you toalice mayton for collateral evidence. don't come home at allâ€”everythingis just as it should beâ€”even if you come, i guess i'll invitemyself to spend the rest of the summer with you; i've changed my mindabout its being a bore to live out of town and take trains back andforth every day. ask tom to think over such bits of real estate in yourneighborhood as he imagines
i might like. "i repeat it, the boys are angels, and alicemayton is another, while the happiest man in the white goods tradeis "your affectionate brother "harry." early next morning i sought the society ofmy nephews. it was absolutely necessary that i should overflowto some oneâ€”some one who was sympathetic and innocent and pure. i longedfor my sisterâ€”my mother, but to some one i must talk at once.budge fulfilled my
requirements exactly; he was an excellentlistener, very sympathetic by nature, and quick to respond. not the wisdomof the most reverend sage alive could have been so grateful to my earas that child's prattle was on that delightful morning. as for toddieâ€”blessedbe the law of compensation! his faculty of repetition, andof echoing whatever he heard said, caused him to murmur "miff mayton,miff mayton," all morning long, and the sound gained in sweetnessby its ceaseless iteration. to be sure, budge took early andfrequent occasions to remind me of my promises of the night before,and toddie occasionally
demanded the promised candy cigar; but thesevery interruptions only added joy to my own topic of interest eachtime it was resumed. the filling of budge's orders occupied two orthree hours and all the vacant space in the carriage; even then thegoat and goat-carriage were compelled to follow behind. the program for the afternoon was arrangedto the satisfaction of every one. i gave the coachman, mike, a dollar toharness the goat and teach the children to drive him; this left me freeto drive off without being followed by two small figures and two pitifulhowls.
i always believed a horse was infected bythe spirit of his driver. my dear old four-footed military companions alwaysseemed to perfectly comprehend my desires and intentions, andcertainly my brother-in-law's horses entered into my own spirits on thisparticular afternoon. they stepped proudly, they arched their powerfulnecks handsomely, their feet seemed barely to touch the ground; yetthey did not grow restive under the bit, nor were they frightened evenat a hideous steam road-rolling machine which passed us. as idrove up to mrs. clarkson's door i found that most of the boarders wereon the piazzaâ€”the memories
of ladies are usually good at times. aliceimmediately appeared, composed of course, but more radiant thanever. "why, where are the boys?" she exclaimed. "i was afraid they might annoy your mother,"i replied, "so i left them behind." "oh, mother hardly feels well enough to gotoday," said she; "she is lying down." "then we can pick up the boys on the road,"said i, for which remark, my enchantress, already descending the steps,gave me a look which the
ladies behind her would have given their bestswitches to have seen. we drove off as decorously as if it were sundayand we were driving to church; we industriously pointed out to eachother every handsome garden and tasteful residence we passed; wemet other people driving, and conversed fluently upon their horses,carriages and dress. but when we reached the edge of the town, and i turnedinto "happy valley," a road following the depressions and curvesof a long, well-wooded valley, in which there was not a single straightline, i turned and looked into my darling's face. her eyes metmine, and, although they
were full of a happiness which i had neverseen in them before, they filled with tears, and their dear owner droppedher head on my shoulder. what we said on that long drivewould not interest the reader. i have learned by experience to skipall love talks in novels; no matter how delightful the lovers may be.recalling now our conversation, it does not seem to me to havehad anything wonderful it in. i will only say that if i had been happyon the evening before, my happiness now seemed to be sanctified; tobe favored with the love and confidence of a simple girl scarcely pasther childhood is to receive a
greater honor than court or field can bestow;but even this honor is far surpassed by that which comes to a manwhen a woman of rare intelligence, tact and knowledge of societyand the world, unburdens her heart of all its hopes and fears, andunhesitatingly leaves her destiny to be shaped by his love. women likealice mayton do not thus give themselves unreservedly away except whentheir trust is born of knowledge as well as affection, and the realizationof all this changed me on that afternoon from whatever i had beeninto what i had long hoped i might one day be.
but the hours flew rapidly, and i reluctantlyturned the horses' heads homeward. we had left almost the whole of"happy valley" behind us, and were approaching residences again. "now we must be very proper," said alice. "certainly," i replied, "here's a goodâ€”byto happy nonsense for this afternoon." i leaned toward her, and gently placed onearm about her neck; she raised her dear face, from which joy and trusthad banished every indication of caution and reserve, my lipssought hers, when suddenly
we heard a most unearthly, discordant shriek,which presently separated into two, each of which prolonged itself indefinitely.the horses started, and aliceâ€”blessed be all frights,now, henceforth, and forevermore!â€”clung tightly to me. the soundsseemed to be approaching us, and were accompanied by a lively rattlingnoise, that seemed to be made by something wooden. suddenly, as weapproached a bend of the road, i saw my youngest nephew appear fromsome unknown space, describe a parabolic curve in the air, ricochet slightlyfrom an earthy protuberance in the road, and make a finalstop in the gutter. at the
same time there appeared, from behind thebend, the goat, then the carriage dragging on one side, and lastly,the boy budge, grasping tightly the back of the carriage body, andhowling frightfully. a direct collision between the carriage anda stone caused budge to loose his hold, while the goat, after taking inthe scene, trotted leisurely off, and disappeared in a road leading tothe house of his late owner. "budge," i shouted, "stop that bawling, andcome here. where's mike?" "heâ€”booâ€”hooâ€”went toâ€”hooâ€”light hisâ€”booâ€”hooâ€”hooâ€”pipe,an' i just let theâ€”booâ€”hooâ€”whip go against to thegoat, an' then he scattooed."
"nashty old goat scaddooed," said toddie,in corroboration. "well, walk right home, and tell maggie towash and dress you," said i. "o harry," pleaded alice, "after they've beenin such danger! come here to your own aunt alice, budgie dear,â€”andyou, too, toddie,â€”you know you said we could pick the boys up on theroad, harry. there, thereâ€”don't cryâ€”let me wipe the ugly olddirt off you, and kiss the face, and make it well." "alice," i protested, "don't let those dirtyboys clamber all over you in that way."
"silence, sir," said she, with mock dignity;"who gave me my lover, i should like to ask?" so we drove up to the boarding-house withthe air of people who had been devoting themselves to a couple of verydisreputable children, and i drove swiftly away again, lest the childrenshould dispel the illusion. we soon met mike, running. the momenthe recognized us, he shouted:â€” "aye, ye little dhivils,â€”beggin' yer pardon,masther harry, an' thankin' the howly mither that their good-for-nothin'little bones
ain't broke to bits. av they saw a hippypottymushitched to pharaoh's chariot, they'd think 'emselves jist the byesto take the bossin' av it, the spalpeens." but no number of ordinary hippopotami andchariots could have disturbed the heavenly tranquillity of my mind on thismost glorious of evenings. even a subtle sense of the fitness of thingsseemed to overshadow my nephews. perhaps the touch of my enchantressdid it; perhaps it came only from the natural relapse from great excitement;but no matter what the reason was, the fact remains that forthe rest of the evening two
very dirty suits of clothes held two childrenwho gave one some idea of how the denizens of paradise might seem andact. they even ate their suppers without indulging in any of the repulsiveways of which they had so large an assortment, and they did notsurreptitiously remove from the table any fragments of bread andbutter to leave on the piano, in the card-basket, and other places inappropriateto the reception of such varieties of abandoned property. theydemanded a song after supper, but when i sang, "drink to me onlywith thine eyes," and "thou, thou, reign'st in this bosom," they stoodby with silent tongues and
appreciative eyes. when they went to bed,i accompanied them by special invitation, but they showed no dispositionto engage in the usual bedtime frolic and miniature pandemonium.budge, when in bed, closed his eyes, folded his hand and prayed:â€” "dear lord, bless papa an' mamma, an' toddie,an' uncle harry, an' everybody else; yes, an' bless just lots thatlovely, lovely lady that comforted me after the goat was bad to me,an' let her comfort me lots of times, for christ's sake, amen." and toddie wriggled, twisted, breathed heavily,threw his head back,
and prayed: "dee lord, don't let dat old goat fro me intode gutter on my head aden, an' let ocken hawwy an' ze pitty ladybe dere netst time i dest hurted." then the good-night salutations were exchanged,and i left the little darlings and enjoyed communion with my ownthoughts which were as peaceful and ecstatic as if the world containedno white goods houses, no doubtful customers, no business competition,no politics, gold rooms, stock-boards, doubtful banks, politicalscandals, personal
iniquity, nor anything which should preventa short vacation from lasting through a long lifetime. the next morning would have struck terrorto the heart of any one but a newly accepted lover. rain was falling fast,and in that steady, industrious manner which seemed to assertan intention to stick closely to business for the whole day. the sky wascovered by one impenetrable leaden cloud, water stood in pools in thestreets which were soft with dust a few hours before; the flowers all hungtheir heads like vagabonds who had been awake all night andwere ashamed to face the
daylight. even the chickens stood about indejected attitudes, and stray roosters from other poultry-yards foundrefuge in tom's coop without first being subjected to a trial ofstrength and skill by tom's game-cock. but no man in my condition of mind could beeasily depressed by bad weather. i would rather have been able todrive about under a clear sky, or lounge under the trees, or walk tothe post-office in the afternoon by the road which passed directlyin front of mrs. clarkson's boarding-house; but man should not live forhimself alone. in the room
next mine were slumbering two wee people towhom i owed a great deal, who would mourn bitterly when they saw thecondition of the skies and groundâ€”i would devote myself to the taskof making them so happy that they would forget the absence of sunshineout of doorsâ€”i would sit by their bedside and have a story ready for themthe moment they awoke, and put them in such a good humor that theycould laugh, with me, at cloud and rain. i began at once to construct a story for theirespecial benefit; the scene was to be a country residence on a rainyday, and the actors two
little boys who should become uproariouslyjolly in spite of the weather. like most people not used to story-making,my progress was not very rapid; in fact, i had got no fartherthan the plot indicated above when an angry snarl came from the children'sroom. "what's the matter, budge?" i shouted, dressingmyself as rapidly as possible. "owâ€”ooâ€”yaâ€”ngâ€”umâ€”bocâ€”gaa," wasthe somewhat complicated response. "what did you say, budge?" "didn't say noffin'."
"ohâ€”that's what i thought." "didn't thought." "budge,â€”budge,â€”be good." "don't want to be goodâ€”yaâ€”aâ€”a." "let's have some fun, budgeâ€”don't you wantto frolic?" "no; i don't think frolic is nice." "don't you want some candy, budge?" "noâ€”you ain't got no candy, i bleeve." "well, you sha'n't have any if you don't stopbeing so cross."
the only reply to this was a mighty and audiblerustling of the bedding in the boys' room, followed by a sound stronglyresembling that caused by a slap; then came a prolonged wail, resemblingthat of an ungreased wagon-wheel. "what's the matter, toddie?" "budge s'apped meâ€”ahâ€”hâ€”hâ€”h!" "what made you slap your brother, budge?" "i didn't." "you did," screamed toddie.
"i tell you i didn'tâ€”you're a naughty, badboy to tell such lies, toddie." "what did you do, budge?" i asked. "whyâ€”whyâ€”i wasâ€”i was turnin' over inbed, an' my hand was out, and it tumbled against to toddieâ€”that's what." by this time i was dressed and in the boy'sroom. both my nephews were sitting up in bed, budge looking as sullenas an old jail-bird, and toddie with tears streaming all over his face. "boys," said i, "don't be angry with eachotherâ€”it isn't right. what
do you suppose the lord thinks when he seesyou so cross to each other?" "he don't think noffin'," said budge; "youdon't think he can look through a black sky like that, do you?" "he can look anywhere, budge, and he feelsvery unhappy when he sees little brothers angry with each other." "well, i feel unhappy, tooâ€”i wish therewasn't never no old rain, nor nothin'." "then what would the plants and flowers dofor a drink, and where would the rivers come from for you to go sailingon?"
"an' wawtoo to mate mud-pies," added toddie."you's a naughty boy, buggie;" and here toddie's tears began toflow afresh. "i ain't a bad boy, an' i don't want no oldrain nohow, an' that's all about it. an' i don't want to get up, an'maggie must bring me up my breakfast in bed." "booâ€”hooâ€”oo," wept toddie, "wants my brepspupin bed too." "boys," said i, "now listen. you can't haveany breakfast at all unless you are up and dressed by the time the bellrings. the rising bell rang some time ago. now dress like good boys, andyou shall have some
breakfast, and then you'll feel a great dealnicer, and then uncle harry will play with you and tell you storiesall day long." budge crept reluctantly out of bed and caughtup one of his stockings, while toddie again began to cry. "toddie," i shouted, "stop that dreadful racket,and dress yourself. what are you crying for?" "well, i feelsh bad." "well, dress yourself, and you'll feel better." "wantsh you to djesh me."
"bring me your clothes, thenâ€”quick!" again the tears flowed copiously. "don't wantto bring 'em," said toddie. "then come here!" i shouted, dragging himacross the room, and snatching up his tiny articles of apparel.i had dressed no small children since i was rather a small boy myself,and toddie's clothing confused me somewhat. i finally got somethingon him, when a contemptuous laugh from budge interruptedme. "how you goin' to put his shirt on under themthings?" queried my
oldest nephew. "budge," i retorted, "how are you going toget any breakfast if you don't put on something besides that stocking?" the young man's countenance fell, and justthen the breakfast bell rang. budge raised a blank face, hurried tothe head of the stairs and "maggie?" "what is it, budge?" "wasâ€”was that the rising-bell or the breakfast-bell?" "'twas the breakfast-bell."
there was dead silence for a moment, and thenbudge shouted:â€” "well, we'll call that the risin'-bell. youcan ring another bell for breakfast pretty soon when i get dressed."then this volunteer adjuster of household affairs came calmly back andcommenced dressing in good earnest, while i labored along with toddie'swardrobe. "where's the button-hook, budge?" said i. "it'sâ€”iâ€”ohâ€”umâ€”i put itâ€”say, tod,what did you do with the button-hook yesterday?" "didn't hazh no button-hook," asserted toddie.
"yes, you did; don't you remember how we wasa playin' draw teef, an' the doctor's dog had the toofache, and i waspullin' his teef with the button-hook, an' you was my little boy, an'i gived the toof-puller to you to hold for me? where did you put it?" "i'd no," replied toddie, putting his handin his pocket and bringing out a sickly-looking toad. "feel again," said i, throwing the toad outthe window, where it was followed by an agonizing shriek from toddie.again he felt, and his search was rewarded by the tension screw ofhelen's sewing-machine.
then i attempted some research myself, andspeedily found my fingers adhering to something of a sticky consistency.i quickly withdrew my hand, exclaiming:â€” "what nasty stuff have you got in your pocket,toddie?" "'taint nashty' tuffâ€”it's byead an' 'lasses,an' its nice, an' budge an' me hazh little tea-parties in de kicken-coop,an' we eats it, an' it's dovely." all this was lucid and disgusting, but utterlyunproductive of button-hooks, and meanwhile the breakfastwas growing cold. i succeeded
in buttoning toddie's shoes with my fingers,splitting most of my nails in the operation. i had been too busily engagedwith toddie to pay any attention to budge, who i now found abouthalf dressed and trying to catch flies on the windowpane. snatching toddie,i started for the dining-room, when budge remarked reprovingly:â€” "uncle harry, you wasn't dressed when thebell rang, and you oughtn't to have any breakfast." true enoughâ€”i was minus collar, cravat,and coat. hurrying these on, and starting again, i was once more arrested:â€”
"uncle harry, must i brush my teeth this morning?" "noâ€”hurry upâ€”come down without doing anythingmore, if you like, but comeâ€”it'll be dinner-time before we getbreakfast." then that imp was moved, for the first timethat morning, to something like good-nature, and he exclaimed with agiggle:â€” "my! what big stomachs we'd have when we gotdone, wouldn't we?" at the breakfast table toddie wept again,because i insisted on beginning operations before budge came. thenneither boys knew exactly what he wanted. then budge managed to upsetthe contents of his plate
into his lap, and while i was helping himclear away the debris, toddie improved the opportunity to pour his milkupon his fish, and put several spoonfuls of oatmeal porridge intomy coffee-cup. i made an early excuse to leave the table and turn thechildren over to maggie. i felt as tired as if i had done a hard day'swork, and was somewhat appalled at realizing that the day had barelybegun. i lit a cigar and sat down to helen's piano. i am not a musician,but even the chords of a hand-organ would have seemed sweet musicto me on that morning. the music-book nearest to my hand was a churchhymn-book, and the first air
my eye struck was "greenville." i lived oncein a town, where, on a single day, a pedler disposed of thirty-eightaccordeons, each with an instruction-book in which this same air underits original name was the only air. for years after, a single bar ofthis air awakened the most melancholy reflections in my mind, but nowi forgave all my musical tormentors as the familiar strains came comfortinglyfrom the piano-keys. but suddenly i heard an accompanimentâ€”asort of reedy soundâ€”and, looking around, i saw toddieagain in tears. i stopped abruptly and asked:â€”
"what's the matter now, toddie?" "don't want dat old tune; wantsh dancin' tune,so i can dance." i promptly played "yankee doodle," and toddiebegan to trot around the room with the expression of a man who intendedto do his whole duty. then budge appeared, hugging a bound volumeof "st. nicholas." the moment toddie espied this he stopped dancingand devoted himself anew to the task of weeping. "toddie," i shouted, springing from the piano-stool,"what do you mean by crying at everything? i shall have to putyou to bed again, if
you're going to be such a baby." "that's the way he always does, rainy days,"explained budge. "wantsh to see the whay-al what fwolloweddjonah," sobbed toddie. "can't you demand something that's withinthe range of possibility, toddie?" i mildly asked. "the whale toddie means is in this big redbook,â€”i'll find it for you," said budge, turning over the leaves. suddenly a rejoicing squeal from toddie announcedthat leviathan had been found, and i hastened to gaze. he wascertainly a dreadful-looking
animal, but he had an enormous mouth, whichtoddie caressed with his pudgy little hand, and kissed with tenderness,murmuring as he did so:â€” "dee old whay-al, i loves you. is jonah allgoneded out of you 'tomach, whay-al? i finks 'twas weal mean in djonahto get froed up when you hadn't noffin' else to eat, poor old whay-al." "of course jonah's gone," said budge, "hewent to heaven long agoâ€”pretty soon after he went to ninevehan' done what the lord told him to do. now swing us, uncle harry." the swing was on the piazza under cover fromthe rain; so i obeyed.
both boys fought for the right to swing first,and when i decided in favor of budge, toddie went off weeping, anddeclaring that he would look at his dear whay-al anyhow. a momentlater his wail changed to a piercing shriek; and running to his assistance,i saw him holding one finger tenderly and trampling on a wasp. "ooâ€”ooâ€”eeâ€”eeâ€”eeâ€”eeâ€”i putted myfinger on a waps, andâ€”ooâ€”ooâ€”the nasty wapsâ€”ooâ€”bited me. an' i don't likewapses a bit, but i likes whay-alsâ€”ooâ€”eeâ€”ee." a happy thought struck me. "why don't youboys make believe that big
packing-box in your play-room is a whale?"said i. a compound shriek of delight followed thesuggestion, and both boys scrambled upstairs, leaving me a free managain. i looked remorsefully at the tableful of books which i had broughtto read, and had not looked at for a week. even now my remorsedid not move me to open themâ€”i found myself instead attracted towardtom's library, and conning the titles of novels and volumes ofpoems. my eye was caught by "initial,"â€”a love-story which i had alwaysavoided because i had heard impressible young ladies rave about it; butnow i picked it up and
dropped into an easy chair. suddenly i heardmike the coachman shouting:â€” "go away from there, will ye? ah, ye littlespalpeen, it's good for ye that yer fahder don't see ye perched up dhere.go way from dhat, or i'll be tellin' yer uncle." "don't care for nasty old uncle," piped toddie'svoice. i laid down my book with a sigh, and wentinto the garden. mike saw me and shouted:â€” "misther burthon, will ye look dhere? didye's ever see the loike av
dhat bye?" looking up at the play-room window, a long,narrow sort of loop-hole in a gothic gable, i beheld my youngest nephewstanding upright on the sill. "toddie, go inâ€”quick!" i shouted, hurryingunder the window to catch him in case he fell outward. "i tan't," squealed toddie. "mike, run up-stairs and snatch him in; toddie,go on, i tell you!" "tell you i tan't doe in," repeated toddie."ze bit bots ish ze
whay-al, an' i'ez djonah, an' ze whay-al'sfroed me up, an' i'ze dot to 'tay up here else ze whay-al 'ill fwallowme aden." "i won't let him swallow you. get in nowâ€”hurry,"said i. "will you give him a penny not to fwallowme no more?" queried toddie. "yesâ€”a whole lot of pennies." "aw wight. whay-al, don't you fwallow me nomore, an' zen my ocken hawwy div you whole lots of pennies. you mustbe weal dood whay-al now, an' then i buys you some tandy wif your pennies,an'â€”" just then two great hands seized toddie'sfrock in front, and he
disappeared with a howl, while i, with thefirst feeling of faintness i had ever experienced, went in search of hammer,nails, and some strips of board, to nail on the outside of the window-frame.but boards could not be found, so i went up to the play-roomand began to knock a piece or two off the box which had done duty aswhale. a pitiful scream from toddie caused me to stop. "you're hurtin' my dee old whay-al; you'sbrakin' his 'tomach all openâ€”you's a baddy manâ€”'top hurtin' mywhay-al, eeâ€”eeâ€”ee," cried my nephew.
"i'm not hurting him, toddie," said i; "i'mmaking his mouth bigger, so he can swallow you easier." a bright thought came into toddie's face andshone through his tears. "then he can fwallow budgie too, an' there'lbe two djonahsâ€”haâ€”haâ€”ha! make his mouf so bighe can fwallow mike, an' zen mate it 'ittle aden, so mike tan' det out;nashty old mike!" i explained that mike would not come upstairsagain, so i was permitted to depart after securing the window. again i settled myself with book and cigar;there was at least for me
the extra enjoyment that comes from the senseof pleasure earned by honest toil. pretty soon budge entered theroom. i affected not to notice him, but he was not in the least abashedby my neglect. "uncle harry," said he, throwing himself inmy lap between my book and me, "i don't feel a bit nice." "what's the matter, old fellow?" i asked.until he spoke i could have boxed his ears with great satisfaction tomyself; but there is so much genuine feeling in whatever budge says thathe commands respect. "oh, i'm tired of playin' with toddie, an'i feel lonesome. won't you
tell me a story?" "then what'll poor toddie do, budge?" "oh, he won't mindâ€”he's got a dead mouseto be jonah now, so i don't have no fun at all. won't you tell me a story?" "which one?" "tell me one that i never heard before atall." "well, let's see; i guess i'll tellâ€”" "ahâ€”ahâ€”ahâ€”ahâ€”eeâ€”eeâ€”ee," soundedafar off, but fatefully. it came nearerâ€”it came down the stairway and intothe library, accompanied by
toddie, who, on spying me, dropped his inarticulateutterance, held up both hands, and exclaimed:â€” "djonah bwoke he tay-al!" true enough; in one hand toddie held the bodyof a mouse, and in the other that animal's caudal appendage; therewas also perceptible, though not by the sense of sight, an objectionableodor in the room. "toddie," said i, "go throw jonah into thechicken-coop, and i'll give you some candy." "me too," shouted budge, "cos i found themouse for him."
i made both boys happy with candy, exacteda pledge not to go out in the rain, and then, turning them loose onthe piazza, returned to my book. i had read perhaps half-a-dozen pageswhen there arose and swelled rapidly in volume a scream from toddie.madly determined to put both boys into chairs, tie them and clap adhesiveplaster over their mouths, i rushed out upon the piazza. "budgie tried to eat my candy," complainedtoddie. "i didn't," said budge. "what did you do?" i demanded.
"i didn't bite it at allâ€”i only wanted tosee how it would feel between my teethâ€”that's all." i felt the corners of my mouth breaking down,and hurried back to the library, where i spent a quiet quarter ofan hour in pondering over the demoralizing influence exerted upon principleby a sense of the ludicrous. for some time afterward the boysgot along without doing anything worse than make a dreadful noise,which caused me to resolve to find some method of deadening piazza-floorsif _i_ ever owned a house in the country. in the occasional intervalsof comparative quiet
i caught snatches of very funny conversation.the boys had coined a great many words whose meaning was evidentenough but i wonder greatly why tom and helen had never taught them theproper substitutes. among others was the word "deader," whosemeaning i could not imagine. budge shouted:â€” "o tod; there comes a deader. see where allthem things like rooster's tails are a-shakin'?â€”well, there's a deaderunder them." "dasth funny," remarked toddie. "an' see all the peoples a-comin' along,"continued budge, "they know
'bout the deader, an' they're goin' to seeit fixed. here it comes. hello, deader!" "hay-oh, deader," echoed toddie. what could deader mean? "oh, here it is right in front of us," criedbudge, "and ain't there lots of people? an' two horses to pull thedeaderâ€”some deaders has only one." my curiosity was too much for my weariness;i went to the front window, and, peering through, sawâ€”a funeral procession!in a second i was on
the piazza, with my hands on the children'scollars; a second later two small boys were on the floor of the hall,the front door was closed, and two determined hands covered two threateninglittle mouths. when the procession had fairly passed thehouse i released the boys and heard two prolonged howls for my pains. theni asked budge if he wasn't ashamed to talk that way when a funeral waspassing. "'twasn't a funeral," said he. "'twas onlya deader, an' deaders can't hear nothin'." "but the people in the carriages could," saidi.
"well," said he, "they was so glad that theother part of the deader had gone to heaven that they didn't care whati said. ev'rybody's glad when the other parts of deaders go to heaven.papa told me to be glad that dear little phillie was in heaven, an'i was, but i do want to see him again awful." "wantsh to shee phillie aden awfoo," saidtoddie, as i kissed budge and hurried off to the library, unfit just thento administer farther instruction or reproof. of one thing i wasvery certainâ€”i wished the rain would cease falling, so the childrencould go out of doors, and i
could get a little rest, and freedom fromresponsibility. but the skies showed no signs of being emptied, the boyswere snarling on the stairway, and i was losing my temper quiterapidly. suddenly i bethought me of one of the delightsof my own childish daysâ€”the making of scrap-books. one of tom'slibrary drawers held a great many lady's journals. of course helenmeant to have them bound, but i could easily repurchase the numbersfor her; they would cost two or three dollars; but peace was cheap at thatprice. on a high shelf in the playroom i had seen some supplementaryvolumes of "mercantile
agency" reports which would in time reachthe rag-bag; there was a bottle of mucilage in the library-desk, andthe children owned an old pair of scissors. within five minutes i hadlocated two happy children on the bath-room floor, taught them to cutout pictures (which operation i quickly found they understoodas well as i did) and to paste them into the extemporized scrap-book.then i left them, recalling something from newman hall's addresson "the dignity of labor." why hadn't i thought before of showingmy nephews some way of occupying their mind and hands? who couldblame the helpless little
things for following every prompting of theirunguided minds? had i not a hundred times been told, when sent to thewood-pile or the weediest part of the garden in my youthful days, that "satan finds some mischief stillfor idle hands to do?" "never again would i blame children for beingmischievous when their minds were neglected. i spent a peaceful, pleasant hour over mynovel, when i felt that a fresh cigar would be acceptable. going up-stairsin search of one i found that budge had filled the bathtub withwater, and was sailing
boats, that is, hair-brushes. even this seemedtoo mild an offense to call for a rebuke, so i passed on withoutdisturbing him, and went to my own room. i heard toddie's voice, and havingheard from my sister that toddie's conversations with himself wereworth listening to, i paused outside the door. i heard toddie softlymurmur:â€” "zere, pitty yady, 'tay zere. now, 'ittleboy, i put you wif your mudder, tause mudders likes zere 'ittle boyswif zem. an' you sall have 'ittle sister tudder side of you,â€”zere.now, 'ittle boy's an' 'ittle girl's mudder, don't you feel happy?â€”isn'ti awfoo good to give you
your 'ittle tsilderns? you ought to say, 'fankyou, toddie,â€”you'se a nice, fweet 'ittle djentleman.'" i peered cautiouslyâ€”then i entered the roomhastily. i didn't say anything for a moment, for it was impossibleto do justice, impromptu, to the subject. toddie had a progressive mindâ€”ifpictorial ornamentation was good for old books, whyshould not similar ornamentation be extended to objects morelikely to be seen? such may not have been toddie's line of thought, buthis recent operations warranted such a supposition. he had cut outa number of pictures, and
pasted them upon the wall of my roomâ€”mysister's darling room, with its walls tinted exquisitely in pink. as amember of a hanging committee, toddie would hardly have satisfiedtaller people, but he had arranged the pictures quite regularly, atabout the height of his own eyes, had favored no one artist more thananother, and had hung indiscriminately figure pieces, landscapes,and genre pictures. the temporary break of wall-line, occasioned bythe door communicating with his own room, he had overcome by closing thedoor and carrying a line of pictures across its lower panels. occasionally,a picture fell off
the wall, but the mucilage remained faithful,and glistened with its fervor of devotion. and yet so untouched wasi by this artistic display, that when i found strength to shout"toddie!" it was in a tone which caused this industrious amateur decoratorto start violently, and drop his mucilage-bottle, open end first,upon the carpet. "what will mamma say?" i asked. toddie gazed, first blankly and then inquiringly,into my face; finding no answer or sympathy there, he burst intotears, and replied:â€” "i dunno."
the ringing of the lunch-bell changed toddiefrom a tearful cherub into a very practical, business-like boy, and shouting"come on, budge!" he hurried down-stairs, while i tormented myselfwith wonder as to how i could best and most quickly undo the mischieftoddie had done. i will concede to my nephews the credit ofkeeping reasonably quiet during meals; their tongues doubtless longedto be active in both the principal capacities of those useful members,but they had no doubt as to how to choose between silence and hunger.the result was a reasonably comfortable half-hour. just asi began to cut a melon, budge
broke the silence by exclaiming:â€” "o uncle harry, we haven't been out to seethe goat to-day!" "budge," i replied, "i'll carry you out thereunder an umbrella after lunch, and you may play with that goat allthe afternoon, if you like." "oh, won't that be nice?" exclaimed budge."the poor goat! he'll think i don't love him a bit, 'cause i haven't beento see him to-day. does goats go to heaven when they die, uncle harry?" "guess notâ€”they'd make trouble in the goldenstreets, i'm afraid." "oh, dear! then phillie can't see my goat.i'm so awful sorry," said
budge. "_i_ can see your goat, budgie," suggestedtoddie. "huh!" said budge, very contemptuously. "youain't dead." "well, izhe goin' to be dead some day 'anzen your nashty old goat sha'n't see me a bitâ€”see how he like zat."and toddie made a ferocious attack on a slice of melon nearly as largeas himself. after lunch toddie was sent to his room totake his afternoon nap, and budge went to the barn on my shoulders. igave mike a dollar, with instructions to keep budge in sight, to keephim from teasing the goat,
and to prevent his being impaled or butted.then i stretched myself on a lounge, and wondered whether only half aday of daylight had elapsed since i and the most adorable woman in theworld had been so happy together. how much happier i would be whennext i met her! the very torments of this rainy day would make my joyseem all the dearer and more intense. i dreamed happily for a fewmoments with my eyes open, and then somehow they closed, without my knowledge.what put into my mind the wreck-scene from the play of "davidcopperfield," i don't know; but there it came, and in my dream iwas sitting in the balcony
at booth's, and taking a proper interest inthe scene, when it occurred to me that the thunder had less of reverberationand more woodenness than good stage thunder should have. the mentalexertion i underwent on this subject disturbed the course of my nap,but as wakefulness returned, the sound of the poorly simulatedthunder did not cease; on the contrary, it was just as noisy, and morehopelessly a counterfeit than ever. what could the sound be? i steppedthrough the window to the piazza, and the sound was directly over myhead. i sprang down the terrace and out upon the lawn, looked up,and beheld my youngest nephew
strutting back and forth on the tin roof ofthe piazza, holding over his head a ragged old parasol. i roaredâ€” "go in, toddieâ€”this instant!" the sound of my voice startled the young manso severely that he lost his footing, fell, and began to roll towardthe edge and to scream, both operations being performed with greatrapidity. i ran to catch him as he fell, but the outer edge of the water-troughwas high enough to arrest his progress, though it had no effectin reducing the volume of his howls.
"toddie," i shouted, "lie perfectly stilluntil uncle can get to you. do you hear?" "ess, but don't want to lie 'till," came inreply from the roof. "'tan't shee noffin' but sky an' rain." "lie still," i reiterated, "or i'll whip youdreadfully." then i dashed up-stairs, removed my shoes, climbed out andrescued toddie, shook him soundly, and then shook myself. "i wazh only djust pyayin' mamma, an' walkin'in ze yain wif an umbayalla," toddie explained.
i threw him upon his bed and departed. itwas plain that neither logic, threats, nor the presence of danger couldkeep this dreadful child from doing whatever he chose; what other meansof restraint could be employed? although not as religious a manas my good mother could wish, i really wondered whether prayer, as a lastresort, might not be effective. for his good, and my own peace,i would cheerfully have read through the whole prayer-book. i could hardlyhave done it just then, though, for mike solicited an audience atthe back door, and reported that budge had given the carriage-sponge tothe goat, put handfuls of
oats into the pump-cylinder, pulled hairsout of the black mare's tail, and with a sharp nail drawn pictures on theenamel of the carriage-body. budge made no denial, but lookedvery much aggrieved, and remarked that he couldn't never be happywithout somebody having to go get bothered; and he wished there wasn'tnobody in the world but organ-grinders and candy-store men. he followedme into the house, flung himself into a chair, put on a lookwhich i imagine byron wore before he was old enough to be malicious,and exclaimed:â€” "i don't see what little boys was made foranyhow; if ev'rybody gets
cross with them, an' don't let 'em do whatthey want to. i'll bet when i get to heaven, the lord won't be as uglyto me as mike is,â€”an' some other folks, too. i wish i could die and beburied right away,â€”me an' the goatâ€”an' go to heaven, where we wouldn'tbe scolded." poor little fellow! first i laughed inwardlyat his idea of heaven, and then i wondered whether my own was very differentfrom it, or any more creditable. i had no time to spend even inpious reflection, however. budge was quite wet, his shoes were soaking,and he already had an attack of catarrh; so i took him to his roomand re-dressed him,
wondering all the while how much similar dutiesmy own father had had to do by me had shortened his life, and how,with such a son as i was, he lived as long as he did. the idea thati was in some slight degree atoning for my early sins, so filled my thoughts,that i did not at first notice the absence of toddie. when itdid become evident to me that my youngest nephew was not in the bedin which i had placed him, i went in search of him. he was in none of thechambers, but hearing gentle murmurs issue from a long, light closet,i looked in and saw toddie sitting on the floor, and eating thecheese out of a mouse-trap.
a squeak of my boots betrayed me, and toddie,equal to the emergency, sprang to his feet and exclaimed:â€” "i didn't hurt de 'ittle mousie one bittie;i just letted him out, and he runded away." and still it rained. oh, for a single hourof sunlight, so that the mud might be only damp dirt, and the childrencould play without tormenting other people! but it was not to be; slowly,and by the aid of songs, stories, an improvised menagerie, in whichi personated every animal, besides playing ostrich and armadillo, anda great many disagreements,
the afternoon wore to its close, and my heartslowly lightened. only an hour or two more, and the children would bein bed for the night, and then i would enjoy, in unutterable measure,the peaceful hours which would be mine. even now they were inclinedto behave themselves; they were tired and hungry, and stretched themselveson the floor, to await dinner. i embraced the opportunity to returnto my book, but i had hardly read a page, when a combined crashand scream summoned me to the dining-room. on the floor lay toddie, a greatmany dishes, a roast leg of lamb, several ears of green corn, the butter-dishand its contents,
and several other misplaced edibles. one thingwas quite evident; the scalding contents of the gravy-dish had beenemptied on toddie's arm, and how severely the poor child might be scaldedi did not know. i hastily slit open his sleeve from wrist toshoulder, and found the skin very red; so, remembering my mother's favoritetreatment for scalds and burns, i quickly spread the contents of adish of mashed potato on a clean handkerchief, and wound the whole aroundtoddie's arm as a poultice. then i demanded an explanation. "i was only djust reatchin for a pieshe ofbwed," sobbed toddie, "an'
then the bad old tabo beginded to froe allits fings at me, an' tumble down bang." he undoubtedly told the truth as far as heknew it, but reaching over tables is a bad habit in small boys, especiallywhen their mothers cling to old-fashioned heirlooms of tables,which have folding leaves; so i banished toddie to his room, supperless,to think of what he had done. with budge alone, i had a comfortabledinner off the salvage from the wreck caused by toddie, and then i wentup-stairs to see if the offender had repented. it was hard to tell,by sight, whether he had or
not, for his back was to me, as he flattenedhis nose against the window, but i could see that my poultice wasgone. "where is what uncle put on your arm, toddie?"i asked. "i ate it up," said the truthful youth. "did you eat the handkerchief, too?" "no; i froed nashty old handkerchief out thewindowâ€”don't want dirty old handkerchiefs in my nice 'ittle room." i was so glad that his burn had been slightthat i forgave the insult to my handkerchief and called up budge, sothat i might at once get
both boys into bed, and emerge from the bondagein which i had lived all day long. but the task was no easy one.of course my brother-in-law, tom lawrence, knows betterthan any other man the necessities of his own children, but no childrenof mine shall ever be taught so many methods of imposing upon parentalgood nature. their program called for stories, songs, moral conversations,frolics, the presentation of pennies, the dropping of thesame, at long intervals, into tin savings banks, followed by a deafeningshaking-up of both banks; then a prayer must be offered, andno conventional one would be
tolerated; then the boys performed their owndevotions, after which i was allowed to depart with an interchangeof "god bless you's." as this evening i left the room with their innocentbenedictions sounding in my ears, a sense of personal weakness, inducedby the events of the day, moved me to fervently respond "amen!" end of part 9ï¿½