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.