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Chapter 13 Cosey Corner

  • Vacation was over, the boys went back to school, and poor Mac was lef_amenting. He was out of the darkened room now, and promoted to blue goggles,
  • through which he took a gloomy view of life, as might have been expected; fo_here was nothing he could do but wander about, and try to amuse himsel_ithout using his eyes. Anyone who has ever been condemned to that sort o_dleness knows how irksome it is, and can understand the state of mind whic_aused Mac to say to Rose in a desperate tone one day,
  • "Look here, if you don't invent some new employment or amusement for me, _hall knock myself on the head as sure as you live."
  • Rose flew to Uncle Alec for advice, and he ordered both patient and nurse t_he mountains for a month, with Aunt Jessie and Jamie as escort. Pokey and he_other joined the party, and one bright September morning six very happy-
  • looking people were aboard the express train for Portland two smiling mammas,
  • laden with luncheon baskets and wraps; a pretty young girl with a bag of book_n her arm; a tall thin lad with his hat over his eyes; and two smal_hildren, who sat with their short legs straight out before them, and thei_hubby faces beaming with the first speechless delight of "truly travelling."
  • An especially splendid sunset seemed to have been prepared to welcome the_hen, after a long day's journey, they drove into a wide, green door-yard,
  • where a white colt, a red cow, two cats, four kittens, many hens, and a doze_eople, old and young, were gaily disporting themselves. Everyone nodded an_miled in the friendliest manner, and a lively old lady kissed the new-comer_ll round, as she said heartily,
  • "Well, now, I'm proper glad to see you! Come right in and rest, and we'll hav_ea in less than no time, for you must be tired. Lizzie, you show the folk_pstairs; Kitty, you fly round and help father in with the trunks; and Jenn_nd I will have the table all ready by the time you come down. Bless th_ears, they want to go see the pussies, and so they shall!"
  • The three pretty daughters did "fly round," and everyone felt at home at once,
  • all were so hospitable and kind. Aunt Jessie had raptures over the home-mad_arpets, quilts and quaint furniture; Rose could not keep away from th_indows, for each framed a lovely picture; and the little folks made friend_t once with the other children, who filled their arms with chickens an_ittens, and did the honours handsomely.
  • The toot of a horn called all to supper, and a goodly party, including si_hildren besides the Camp-bells, assembled in the long dining-room, armed wit_ountain appetites and the gayest spirits. It was impossible for anyone to b_hy or sober, for such gales of merriment arose they blew the starch out o_he stiffest, and made the saddest jolly. Mother Atkinson, as all called thei_ostess, was the merriest there, and the busiest; for she kept flying up t_ait on the children, to bring out some new dish, or to banish the live stock,
  • who were of such a social turn that the colt came into the entry and demande_ugar; the cats sat about in people's laps, winking suggestively at the food;
  • and speckled hens cleared the kitchen floor of crumbs, as they joined in th_hat with a cheerful clucking.
  • Everybody turned out after tea to watch the sunset till all the lovely red wa_one, and mosquitoes wound their shrill horns to sound the retreat. The musi_f an organ surprised the new-comers, and in the parlor they found Fathe_tkinson playing sweetly on the little instrument made by himself. All th_hildren gathered about him, and, led by the tuneful sisters, sang prettil_ill Pokey fell asleep behind the door, and Jamie gaped audibly right in th_iddle of his favourite,
  • > "Coo," said the little doves: "Coo," said she,
  • > "All in the top of the old pine-tree."
  • The older travellers, being tired, went to "bye low" at the same time, an_lept like tops in home-spun sheets, on husk mattresses made by Mothe_tkinson, who seemed to have put some soothing powder among them, so deep an_weet was the slumber that came.
  • Next day began the wholesome out-of-door life, which works such wonders wit_ired minds and feeble bodies. The weather was perfect, and the mountain ai_ade the children as frisky as young lambs; while the elders went abou_miling at one another, and saying, "Isn't it splendid?" Even Mac, the "slo_oach," was seen to leap over a fence as if he really could not help it; an_hen Rose ran after him with his broad-brimmed hat, he made the spirite_roposal to go into the woods and hunt for a catamount.
  • Jamie and Pokey were at once enrolled in the Cosey Corner Light Infantry _ruly superb company, composed entirely of officers, all wearing cocked hats,
  • carrying flags, waving swords, or beating drums. It was a spectacle to sti_he dullest soul when this gallant band marched out of the yard in ful_egimentals, with Captain Dove a solemn, big-headed boy of eleven issuing hi_rders with the gravity of a general, and his Falstaffian regiment obeyin_hem with more docility than skill. The little Snow children did very well,
  • and Lieutenant Jack Dove was fine to see; so was Drummer Frank, the errand-bo_f the house, as he rub-a-dub-dubbed with all his heart and drumsticks. Jami_ad "trained" before, and was made a colonel at once; but Pokey was the bes_f all, and called forth a spontaneous burst of applause from the spectator_s she brought up the rear, her cocked hat all over one eye, her flag trailin_ver her shoulder, and her wooden sword straight up in the air; her fac_eaming and every curl bobbing with delight as her fat legs tottered in th_ain attempt to keep step manfully.
  • Mac and Rose were picking blackberries in the bushes beside the road when th_oldiers passed without seeing them, and they witnessed a sight that was bot_retty and comical. A little farther on was one of the family burial spots s_ommon in those parts, and just this side of it Captain Fred Dove ordered hi_ompany to halt, explaining his reason for so doing in the following words,
  • "That's a graveyard, and it's proper to muffle the drums and lower the flag_s we go by, and we'd better take off our hats, too; it's more respectable, _hink."
  • "Isn't that cunning of the dears?" whispered Rose, as the little troop marche_lowly by to the muffled roll of the drums, every flag and sword held low, al_he little heads uncovered, and the childish faces very sober as the leaf_hadows flickered over them.
  • "Let's follow and see what they are after," proposed Mac, who found sitting o_he wall and being fed with blackberries luxurious but tiresome.
  • So they followed and heard the music grow lively, saw the banners wave in th_reeze again when the graveyard was passed, and watched the company file int_he dilapidated old church that stood at the corner of three woodland roads.
  • Presently the sound of singing made the outsiders quicken their steps, and,
  • stealing up, they peeped in at one of the broken windows.
  • Captain Dove was up in the old wooden pulpit, gazing solemnly down upon hi_ompany, who, having stacked their arms in the porch, now sat in the bare pew_inging a Sunday-school hymn with great vigour and relish.
  • "Let us pray," said Captain Dove, with as much reverence as an army chaplain;
  • and, folding his hands, he repeated a prayer which he thought all would kno_n excellent little prayer, but not exactly appropriate to the morning, for i_as,
  • > "Now I lay me down to sleep."
  • Everyone joined in saying it, and it was a pretty sight to see the littl_reatures bowing their curly heads and lisping out the words they knew s_ell. Tears came into Rose's eyes as she looked; Mac took his hat of_nvoluntarily, and then clapped it on again as if ashamed of showing an_eeling.
  • "Now I shall preach you a short sermon, and my text is, 'Little children, lov_ne another.' I asked mamma to give me one, and she thought that would b_ood; so you all sit still and I'll preach it. You mustn't whisper, Marion,
  • but hear me. It means that we should be good to each other, and play fair, an_ot quarrel as we did this very day about the wagon. Jack can't always drive,
  • and needn't be mad because I like to go with Frank. Annette ought to be hors_ometimes and not always driver; and Willie may as well make up his mind t_et Marion build her house by his, for she will do it, and he needn't fus_bout it. Jamie seems to be a good boy, but I shall preach to him if he isn't.
  • No, Pokey, people don't kiss in church or put their hats on. Now you must al_emember what I tell you, because I am the captain, and you should mind me."
  • Here Lieutenant Jack spoke right out in meeting with the rebellious remark,
  • "Don't care if you are; you'd better mind yourself, and tell how you took awa_y strap, and kept the biggest doughnut, and didn't draw fair when we had th_ruck."
  • "Yes, and you slapped Frank; I saw you!" bawled Willie Snow, bobbing up in hi_ew.
  • "And you took my book away and hid it 'cause I wouldn't go and swing when yo_anted me to," added Annette, the oldest of the Snow trio.
  • "I shan't build my house by Willie's if he don't want me to, so now!" put i_ittle Marion, joining the mutiny.
  • "I will tiss Dimmy! and I tored up my hat 'tause a pin picked me," shoute_okey, regardless of Jamie's efforts to restrain her.
  • Captain Dove looked rather taken aback at this outbreak in the ranks; but,
  • being a dignified and calm personage, he quelled the rising rebellion wit_reat tact and skill, by saying, briefly,
  • "We'll sing the last hymn; 'Sweet, sweet good-by' you all know that, so do i_icely, and then we will go and have luncheon."
  • Peace was instantly restored, and a burst of melody drowned the suppresse_iggles of Rose and Mac, who found it impossible to keep sober during th_atter part of this somewhat remarkable service. Fifteen minutes of repos_endered it a physical impossibility for the company to march out as quietl_s they had marched in. I grieve to state that the entire troop raced home a_ard as they could pelt, and were soon skirmishing briskly over their lunch,
  • utterly oblivious of what Jamie (who had been much impressed by the sermon)
  • called "the captain's beautiful teck."
  • It was astonishing how much they all found to do at Cosey Corner; and Mac,
  • instead of lying in a hammock and being read to, as he had expected, wa_usiest of all. He was invited to survey and lay out Skeeterville, a tow_hich the children were getting up in a huckleberry pasture; and he found muc_musement in planning little roads, staking off house-lots, attending to th_ater-works, and consulting with the "selectmen" about the best sites fo_ublic buildings; for Mac was a boy still, in spite of his fifteen years an_is love of books.
  • Then he went fishing with a certain jovial gentleman from the West; and thoug_hey seldom caught anything but colds, they had great fun and exercise chasin_he phantom trout they were bound to have. Mac also developed a geologica_ania, and went tapping about at rocks and stones, discoursing wisely of
  • "strata, periods, and fossil remains"; while Rose picked up leaves an_ichens, and gave him lessons in botany in return for his lectures on geology.
  • They led a very merry life; for the Atkinson girls kept up a sort of perpetua_icnic; and did it so capitally, that one was never tired of it. So thei_isitors throve finely, and long before the month was out it was evident tha_r. Alec had prescribed the right medicine for his patients.