ROB and Freddy never tired of hearing about Kathie's trip to the city. The Museum, Central Park, High Bridge, and the rides in cars and omnibuses, always had a fresh interest for them. The old women who sold apples, the boys hawking papers, and the great markets, lost none of their charm or quaintness, for Kathie possessed quite graphic powers of description.
In the mean while [sic] the new house progressed rapidly. The papering was very handsome, and the painters added their skill The grounds were cleared, and a rustic summer-house was commenced for Kathie. The place presented a very different aspect from what it did six weeks before.
Kathie had taken Uncle Robert to call upon Miss Jessie, and made him acquainted with the whole family. Their admiration was mutual, and Charlie declared that Rob was a lucky boy to have such an uncle fall from the clouds. He was delighted to hear some of his adventures.
" Kathie is n't a bit proud," he said to Jessie after they had gone. " She does n't seem to feel any grander than before."
" I think little Kathie Alston in poverty, trying to render her mother's burdens lighter and make every one around her happy, was as grand as any royal princess. I rejoice warmly in her good fortune, for no one ever deserved it more, and she will improve it wisely, I have no doubt."
Just at the edge of the grounds stood a small cottage that had been rented out to some rather uncomfortable tenants. Uncle Robert had the place vacated and put in order.
" Now we must have a man living here who can attend to the garden and look after all little matters. Kathie, do you know of any one among your poor folks ? "
For Kathie somehow found out a great deal about poor and sick people. She could n't do much towards relieving them, it was true, until she came in possession of her wonderful purse, and that had been called upon quite often.
" It's so nice to surprise people and make them very happy," she said to Uncle Robert one day. " It seems almost like being a fairy."
And when he applied to her now she thought a little while.
" There are several real old people, but we want some one to work as well, - don't we ? " she asked.
" Yes; we cannot have them quite for ornament."
" 0 Uncle Robert, I know of some one," she ex- claimed presently, "and he is n't very old either. He was hurt in the mill last summer, and is a little lame. When mamma did n't want to take in sewing any more, she recommended his wife to Mrs. Grayson and several other ladies. They have two little children. Suppose we see what Aunt Ruth thinks of it?"
They were walking home when this conversation occurred, so they entered the little parlor where Aunt Ruth sat reading. She had plenty of leisure now.
Kathie began at once, for when she espoused a cause she was a very warm partisan.
Aunt Ruth said, " Mrs. Morrison has been in this afternoon, and she feels quite discouraged, for her husband had a promise of being employed at the mill again, but just now business is dull, and they cannot take him until in the fall. If we could do that for him I should be very glad. Hugh Morrison has been a good son to his poor old mother, who now feels herself a sad burden on them in their straitened circumstances."
" Could n't we go and call upon them ? " asked Uncle Robert.
" 0 yes "; and Kathie started up with alacrity.
" You will be sure to see Mr. Morrison now," said Aunt Ruth.
So they started, and after a short walk came to what was called the tenement-houses, a row of rather dilapidated buildings. After being sick half the winter, Mr. Morrison had found retrenchment absolutely necessary, and they had moved hither because the rents were lower.
Kathie walked in and introduced her Uncle Robert very gracefully. Old Mrs. Morrison, white-haired and placid-looking, sat in a large rocking-chair with a year-old baby on her knee, while a little boy stood beside his father, who was repairing the clock.
Uncle Robert began a pleasant conversation, and gradually led the way to business. He found Mr. Morrison an intelligent, practical man) and was very well satisfied with him. Everything about the house looked clean and orderly, though it was plain.
" A man with a family does n't have much chance to get forehanded," Mr. Morrison was saying. "Wages are low, and every week lost in the dull season counts. Sometimes I 've thought of going to the West ; but it's a hard thing to get started."
" I believe my niece has an offer to make you, Mr. Morrison, and it may be as advantageous as trying your fortune elsewhere," Mr. Conover made answer.
"0 Uncle Robert, it is n't really mine. I only said - " and Kathie paused, blushing deeply.
" Well, you may say it over again "; and he smiled, encouragingly.
" It's to come and live in the gardener's cottage at our new house," Kathie said, hurriedly, seeing that she was expected to speak.
" We want a lodge-keeper and gardener, some one who will look after the place, and since you were brought up on a farm I think you might do very well. Kathie mentioned you when I was making some inquiries."
" 0 Miss Kathie, I 'm so grateful to you ! " and a quick tear sprang to Mr. Morrison's eye. " It's just what I would like above all things. I'll try never to make you regret your good word. And Mary will be overjoyed. I wish she was at home."
" I 'd like you to come as soon as you can. We expect to take possession in the course of a fortnight, and .it seems quite difficult to get all the help we want, - of the right kind. The house is all ready to be occupied."
" Indeed, sir, I could come right away. Though we have paid our rent here in advance, that will not be much of an object."
Mr. Conover stated the terms he had thought of offering. To Mr. Morrison they appeared generous.
" You can come over to-morrow and see how you like it. I shall be there nearly all day."
"I don't know how to thank you, but I shall my best to deserve your favor."
"We owe much of our good fortune to Miss Kathie I 'm sure," said grandmother, in a tremulous voice. " The Lord bless you, child, for caring for the poor and needy. I 'm sure I rejoice, in your prosperity."
" It 's so nice to be able to do these things! " Kathie exclaimed, clasping Uncle Robert's hand as they walked slowly homeward. "Mamma once said the fairies did n't all live in palaces."
" No, for I found one in a very humble cottage; but I shall transport her to the best at my command."
Kathie laughed gayly.
A few days after Mr. Morrison removed his family to the pretty little house awaiting them. Mrs. Morrison had to come and express her thanks in person.
" It was a perfect godsend to us. Poor Hugh was getting so discouraged. 0 Mrs. Alston, it is n't every one who in prosperity remembers the poor. You ought to be proud indeed of Miss Kathie."
" I am thankful to God for her, which is better," Mrs. Alston returned, with a sweet smile.
The carpets came down, and were soon fitted to their respective places. Kathie thought them lovelier than ever. Then quantities of furniture, until she almost wondered if they would ever find a place for it all.
Latterly she had not gone to school, as it was so near vacation, and Uncle Robert was very fond of having her for a companion. She was delighted now in watching the completion of their plans.
Aunt Ruth's room looked lovely. Kathie kept admiring every new article that was brought into it, and when the pictures came to be hung she declared it perfect.
" Have n't you any curiosity to see yours ? " Uncle Robert asked.
" Is it done yet ? "
" Finished yesterday afternoon. Shall I conduct you. to your realm of enchantment ? "
" Oh! " and Kathie sprang up eagerly.
Two steps at a time they went, laughing gayly Uncle Robert took the key out of his pocket.
" Open sesame! "
It was like a fairy palace ! The daintiest floweret carpet, and a set of elegant enamelled furniture done in a tint of exquisite pearl, with lovely ornamentation. The bureau was broad and low, the mirror showing her more than half of herself, the shining golden curls and happy, beaming face. There was the white bed opposite, a little table with its vase of flowers, a low rocking-chair, and. a pretty red and white willow workstand. And there, best of all, over the low mantel hung a picture of Uncle Robert. Kathie clasped, her arms around his neck.
" 0 Uncle Robert ! " and her voice trembled with emotion. "You are the best and dearest uncle in the world. And I 'm so glad to have you ! "
He kissed the rosy face many times. She was very dear indeed to him.
" It is so very beautiful," she exclaimed, when she could, command her voice. " And I am very glad about the picture. I shall always think whose generous hand bestowed all these blessings. If I could only do something in return."
"You can repay me for everything, Kathie, my darling. To see you growing into a noble and pure-hearted woman, intent upon making the world a little better for her presence, will make me feel that I have not placed all these blessings in your way vainly. The reward is not simply in being grateful to me, but in sharing your happiness with others, in proving a good daughter and sister, and a kind. friend."
" I am sometimes afraid that I never can be good enough, Uncle Robert," Kathie answered, seriously.
" I can trust you while you keep so near to humility," he said, in an encouraging tone.
" I feel like the Pilgrims when they reached the Palace Beautiful," she returned, with a sweet smile.
" And the giants, - are they all dead ? "
"' I don't know. I 'm so happy that nothing seems to trouble me. I wonder if it is quite right."
" Yes," he said, gayly. " God means that we shall have some hours of satisfaction and content, especially in childhood. I want you to enjoy life now. With years always come added cares."
Her two gifts from Mr. Meredith had been nicely hung. Indeed, it seemed as if nothing was wanting.
" In a few days we shall be ready for our removal," Uncle Robert said. " To-morrow mamma is to come over and unpack the dishes and settle the little odds and ends. As soon as the smell of paint is aired out Aunt Ruth can take up her abode. There will be a great deal to do afterward with the grounds and fences, but it will be pleasant to watch the improvements from our windows."
So they locked up the enchanted palace and walked slowly down the broad, shady avenue. Grandmother Morrison stood out by the door of her little cottage. Hugh had improved it a great deal already. The straggling shrubbery had been trimmed, the grass cut short, and the falling vines trained over the lattice.
"Come in and see how we look, Miss Kathie," grandmother said, with an old-fashioned courtesy.
Kathie thought her cap and apron were even whiter than snow.
They walked into the cheerful room. Mrs. Morrison sprang up and placed some chairs for them. Jamie was dragging a wooden horse on wheels, and his little sister, who sat on the floor, clapped her hands and crowed, and occasionally delivered a speech in baby dialect.
" Are you feeling at home ? " Uncle Robert asked.
" 0 yes, wonderfully so," returned Mrs. Morrison. " I tell Hugh that we can never be grateful enough for our good fortune. I don't know what we should have done, and I hope that he will please you; I know he will try to do his best."
" Kathie and I are not very unreasonable people," he answered, smilingly.
Mrs. Morrison insisted that they should have a saucer of berries and cream, and then grandmother wanted her to go through the house. It looked so cosey and pretty, with a quaint, old-fashioned air, for much of the furniture had been the old lady's when she first went to housekeeping. In the tall China vases, standing on the parlor mantel, there were some fragrant roses that perfumed the room, and great long sprays of honeysuckle.
" I hope you 'll be just as happy in your own house," she said, laying her hand on Kathie's shoulder. " If you begin by remembering the poor and distressed, God will not be likely to turn his face from you; and I wish you a long, happy life."
" Thank you," Kathie said, in a low tone, yet her smooth brow was rather thoughtful. It did not seem hardly right for her to have so much credit when Uncle Robert was the true agent, the generous prince.
Mrs. Alston and Kathie were over to the new house all of the following day, placing furniture and dishes in order. The boys were to come after school, and there was no lagging behind, you may be sure. Uncle Robert had kept the doors locked most of the time, though Rob and Freddy thought it rather unjust that Kathie should be indulged in such an unlimited manner, while they " could n't have any- thing, or go anywhere ! "
Now they were wild with delight, and ran in and out of every room, each " Oh ! " growing larger and louder. After they had explored the lower rooms, they made a grand rush for their own. They were to reign undisputed over the third story, as the servants' rooms were in the part built as an ex- tension.
There was a large apartment, with a bed for each, if they chose, and a roomy closet also, to save cause for dispute ; beyond, two smaller play-rooms. Rob's had shelves for books, brackets for numerous uses, such as boys only can discover; and in one corner a neat little work-bench with a box of tools.
" Now, Freddy," said Uncle Robert, " you must never touch an article in here unless Rob gives you permission. You must learn to remember this, though I expect it will come quite hard at first."
" And Rob must not take anything of mine," returned the little fellow, with much importance.
" No, not without leave. I want you to be kind and obliging to one another, and to pay just as much respect to each other's belongings as you would to mine; and, Rob, you must keep all dangerous tools locked up for fear of an accident."
Here was Freddy's domain. There was but one thing in it now, - a huge rocking-horse. Fred made an immediate plunge.
"He's a beauty, now, I tell you! and real stirrups ! " Fred opened his mouth and drew in a long breath of amazement.
"Now this is your play-room, Freddy, and you must keep all your traps up here. I believe I shall confiscate all the articles I find going astray, - have a sort of a pound."
Rob laughed heartily. " I don't believe you 'll get many of mine," he said. " I 've never had a real good place for odds and ends, but now you shall see how I 'll keep them in order."
Uncle Robert gave a mirthful smile out of the corners of his eyes.
" He's Firefly," announced Freddy, patting his horse's real mane. " And you must n't 'pound him, Uncle Robert."
"Then you must not let him run away, and go galloping over the house "; and Uncle Robert made a threatening gesture.
" It 's all royal," declared Rob. " I don't see how you could think of so many things that boys need. And here 's the sky-parlor! Hurrah! " and Rob made a rush up the steps to the observatory.
" Won't we have fun ! " shouted Freddy, trudging after him, red in the face and out of breath with his efforts to mount Firefly.
" Children," said their mother, " Uncle Robert will think he 's in Bedlam."
"We must have some place to make a noise," returned Rob, who felt very much like breaking out into an Indian dance with full accompaniment of war- whoops. " And when a fellow gets brimful - "
"We shall have to be indulgent," said Uncle Robert, good-naturedly.
" It's just magnificent ! If you 'd had Aladdin's lamp you could n't have done any better. Uncle Robert ! And now when are we coming to live here ? "
" To-morrow, I think."
Rob threw up his cap. Freddy followed suit, but his hat being straw, a whiff of wind took it, and away it floated over the observatory railing.
"Bad for your enthusiasm," said "Uncle Robert, laughingly; " but I guess we shall find it on the roof as we go down."
" I 'll take a little ride on Firefly," was Freddy's philosophical announcement; and he mounted his steed while the rest returned to the lower floor, Rob enjoying the fun of climbing out of the window for the missing hat.
Presently they all went back. "What a forlorn little place ! " ejaculated Rob, cutting off the top of a hollyhock with a little switch he had picked up elsewhere. " To think that we have lived in it so many years ! " and he gave a disdainful glance around.
" But it 's been real nice," said Kathie. " I shall always remember two such delightful events."
" What ? " asked Rob. He could think of nothing but bringing coal and water, splitting kindlings, and working in the garden when he wanted to go fishing.
" Miss Jessie's staying to tea, and dear Uncle Robert's coming home. And then the first day she took Aunt Ruth sleigh-riding, and 0, ever so many pleasant things! "
" But the new house for me, say I! "
Kathie looked thoughtful. She did anticipate a great deal of happiness in. the future, but somehow the memories of the last six months were very dear and sweet to her. It seemed to her that she was n't quite the same little Kathie who had found a few gifts on the kitchen mantel in the early dawn of Christmas morning. She used to think it very hard to have to stay in and sew when other girls ran out to play, to wear shabby boots, and dresses that were faded and mended, and never have any money to spend. Did she really deserve all these blessings ? "
She prayed softly that God would not let her go astray, and that she might be a comfort to them all.
The next morning there was some packing, though Mrs. Alston had decided to keep only a few things that were endeared to her by old and pleasant associations. The remainder were to be sold at auction, and the house also was to pass into new hands.
They took Aunt Ruth in a carriage, and then Uncle Robert insisted upon carrying her up and down stairs in order to have her see every room. Her joy and gratitude were very touching. Even in the old prosperous days they had not been quite so elegant. Her own apartment suited her to a charm.
"I am so glad you chose crimson," she said, " It has such a warm, cosey look in winter."
" She 's like Fred," said Bob, laughing, - " making arrangements for winter. Why, it will be midsummer first! "
" True enough! Well, Rob, here 's the lovely lake looking cool and shady. The view from this bay-window is charming. Altogether I feel like Kathie,-as if I were in fairy-land."
"And now I have one of my wishes," said the child, with a bright smile. " If I can only have the next; but I shall not know what to ask for the third."
" It is one of the fortunate dispensations of Providence that our wishes shall always increase," said Uncle Robert, with a mirthful expression.
" Kathie is n't a fair sample," continued Rob. " She does n't empty her purse, nor do any of the things that I would like."
" When I make my next fortune, Rob, I shall surely have to take you into partnership," said his uncle. It seemed so odd to have supper in that long dining-room, where the sideboard was ornamented with choice glasses and lovely bouquets, and the bright pictures hanging on the walls made it look like giving a party, Fred said.
" I think we ought to have a house-warming; is n't that what people call it ? " Rob exclaimed.
"And I too," declared his uncle. "We must christen our own abode. Kathie, we will send for Mr. Meredith and have a gay time."
" 0 Uncle Robert, yon always do plan such delightful things! " and Kathie's face was in a glow of pleasure.
" We will write to-morrow, and ask him to spend a week or two with us, and while he is here we will give the party."
" Whom shall we ask ? " said Rob, alive with interest. " I 'd like to have some boys."
" How odd! Now Kathie and I would be better pleased with girls."
" A girls' party! Why, it would n't be any fun at all! " and Rob was going into the scarlet hues of indignation when a merry twinkle in his uncle's eye caused him to pause and feel rather abashed.
" Yes, have some girls," said Freddy. " Can't Miss Jessie come, and, 0 Uncle Robert, if you would only buy me a parrot! "
At this there was a general laugh.
"Well, we will have boys and girls and grown people. I don't know as parrots would be considered an addition " ; and Uncle Robert looked very grave.
Freddy did n't exactly see the point, but just then the dessert was brought in, and both party and parrot were secondary considerations.
They took a turn out on the lawn afterward, and though Freddy begged very hard to sit up, they soon found him curled into a little ball in the corner, and mamma took him to bed. But Kathie had a nice long talk with Uncle Robert.
" I seem to be out visiting in some grand place," Kathie said, in her soft, sweet voice. " Dear mamma, can we ever be thankful enough ? We must spend half our time trying to make Uncle Robert happy-"
" And it 's going on to midnight, my fairy queen," he said, kissing her, deeply touched with her tender, girlish thought. " If you are a princess of the true blood, you will feel the three grains of sand under your fourteen feather-beds."
Kathie laughed gayly at that. "Only I believe it was peas or pebble-stones," she corrected.
So Aunt Ruth was carried up, and Kathie had. to take another survey of the rooms. Mrs. Alston thought it best for Aunt Ruth to share hers, as before. A door opened into Kathie's chamber, hut it looked so lovely, she said, that she was almost afraid to try it.
She wondered if it was wicked to have her head so bewildered with a crowd of thoughts, but she did try to feel very thankful. How delightful it would be to ask some of the girls to stay all night with her, and she resolved always to love the poorer ones as well as those who were rich! Everybody had been so good and kind to her!
She did n't feel a bit sleepy, and after the lights were put out she lay with her eyes wide open, remembering just how everything looked. There was her bureau with its ground-glass scent-bottles, the washstand with its china basin and ewer with dainty ornamentations in gold and green, and her beautiful pictures, - Uncle Robert, whose merry eyes were the least bit drowsy in the dark, and-a long, dreamy pause.
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THERE was a great shout at the door, and Kathie rubbed her eyes, very certain that she had gone to bed only five minutes before.
" Come ! " exclaimed Rob. " We 've been all over the place and it 's splendid! And breakfast is ready! "
There was the sun, sure enough! And 0, how lovely everything was on this summer morning! She dressed herself and went down stairs, and found her mother and Aunt Ruth looking as much at home as if they had lived in a palace all their lives. Kathie kissed them both, and then Uncle Robert, who held the dear little face close to his own many seconds.
" Why did n't you call me sooner ? " she asked. " I did not think it was so late; indeed, I did n't know that I had been asleep until Rob woke me. Everything appeared so strange last night."
"You are not homesick for the old place?" said her Uncle.
" Homesick ! " ejaculated Rob, disdainfully. Hannah brought in the breakfast, and they soon settled themselves.
" I wish I did n't have to go to school," said Rob. " It 's so near vacation."
" And then you will have six weeks," responded his mother. "It is hardly worth while to anticipate."
" But Kathie 's having a good time."
"Rob, I have n't played as much as when I went to school," Kathie said.
" But you can do as you like! I just wish - "
"Rob," said his mother, "are you the first to express dissatisfaction ? "
There was an odd little look in Kathie's eyes. Rob colored, and was serious for a moment.
" Giants even here," he said, with a laugh. " You will not hear another word out of me about that, if school should last a month."
" Good," said his uncle, approvingly. " Play has not half the charm when it becomes steady company."
" I 've never been tired of it. But, Uncle Robert, what about the sail-boat ? "
" 0, not a sail-boat ! " exclaimed Mrs. Alston; entreatingly, her face shadowed with apprehension.
" I have decided not to get the boat this summer, Rob. There is another thing that I think will please you equally as well."
" What ? "
"Let me give you a surprise"; and Uncle Robert nodded comically.
So Rob gathered up his books and went off to school without another word, trying to imagine that he was quite a hero, and wondering with all his energy what the new gift would be. He wanted a gun and a horse, but mamma would object to the gun, of course, women always were so timid. Just wait until he was a man!
Kathie and her uncle wrote a note to Mr. Meredith after breakfast, then they took a tour around the grounds to inspect some newly begun improvements. The house fronted the east, with perhaps a hundred feet of ground between that and the street, and at the south it sloped down to the lake. The trees had been thinned out, leaving just enough
for shade. Kathie's summer-house was to be here, and at the edge they were to have a boat and bathing house, and a little dock built out, as the shore was very shallow.
" I never supposed it would look so pretty," Kathie said, glancing around. " And it 's not a bit dreary or lonesome. You 11 never go away again. Uncle Robert."
"No, if it please God," he said, with tender gravity.
They were some days in getting used to their new abode. Mrs. Alston desired to live as simply as possible, for she was a quiet, retiring woman, and had seen the folly of great display in many cases when she was younger. She wanted her children to be trained in good and useful habits, and she knew how easy it was to glide into extravagance. They must not tax Uncle Robert's kindness too largely.
The boys ran wild, and made dozens of new discoveries every day,-birds' nests, squirrels' holes, hollow trees, and all kinds of marvellous places. Charlie Darrell was delighted beyond measure, and came over every day.
The neighbors around were not tardy in calling upon them. Some, of course, were sincere friends, but there were others who had scarcely noticed them when they were poor.
" A little money ought not to make so much difference," said Kathie, thoughtfully, as she was walking up and down the lawn with Uncle Robert. " We were just as good before."
" Yes," Uncle Robert returned, with a slow, quaint smile. " My little girl, this is a difficult subject to understand in all its bearings. I think there are many noble people in the world who value another according to his or her worth, and yet it would not always be pleasant to invite them to one's house. When you are older this matter will appear clearer to you. A really refined and well-bred person would hesitate to go anywhere and make a shabby appearance ; and poor people cannot always dress as they would like. I think Mrs. Grayson has admired your mamma very much ; but suppose she had invited her to a large party last winter ? "
" 0, mamma would not have gone! "
"Your mamma's good sense would not have allowed such a step; but there are some poor people who would have run in debt for a fine dress, and have spent a miserable evening in trying to appear of much more consequence than they really were. These usages of society are, in themselves, wise and proper, and it is only in the hands of selfish and underbred people that they are employed as a means of pain. You can see that Mr. and Mrs. Morrison would feel out of place in our social gatherings."
" I believe I understand that "; and Kathie smiled readily, though the puzzled look was not all out of her face.
" It is much wiser and kinder to render people happy in their own sphere than, from an ill-judged generosity, to take them out of it occasionally and then thrust them back."
" But if we have a party, ought n't I to ask the poor girls as well as those who are rich ? "
" Will you ask every one in school ? "
" No," returned Kathie, after a pause ; " there are some rude, rough girls that I never play with."
" Your judgment will teach you whom to invite, I think; and, Kathie, the great thing with all true men and women is a noble, useful life. This can only proceed from a generous, well-regulated soul. Now when Mr. Meredith comes to look at our house we shall not expect him to examine the foundation- stones, the timber, the thickness of the walls, and inspect the quality of our wall-paper, - shall we ? "
" Why, no "; and she laughed at the ridiculous idea.
" He will judge it altogether, and if it has a pleas- ant, harmonious effect, he will enjoy it. Just so it is with character. We never expect to tell people how bad our tempers were, and what hard work we had to ' make them better,-that we were very vain, and had striven against it, and the many faults that continually beset poor human nature ? And yet it is these small, unseen things that improve us,-this constant, daily work. If the painters had neglected one side of our house, or put on some other color, it would be very quickly remarked."
" Indeed, it would "; and Kathie laughed.
" So glaring faults are very easily observed; and, on the other hand, pretty, engaging manners are as much admired. You sometimes like people without being able to explain why, - do you not ? "
" 0 yes ': - Miss Jessie for one."
"Miss Jessie is pleasant, refined, and possesses true appreciation. She never carries about with her an obtrusive sense of education or dress. I am glad that you. have chanced upon such a friend, although you are a little girl; and she is one of the persons who look for something beside wealth and show. Am I preaching you too much of a sermon ? "
" 0 no, I like to hear you talk," Kathie said, simply.
" I will only add that if you had been a noisy, ill-mannered child, I should not have enjoyed taking you to New York, and I doubt if even the fortune would have gained you many admirers."
Kathie felt that this was true. It had not been simply because she was rich that Mrs. Havens and Mr. Meredith had taken such pains to entertain her. A child with less humility than Kathie might have felt secretly elated; but as she gave Uncle Robert's hand a fond squeeze she hoped inwardly that she would always be able to please and satisfy the friends who had been so kind.
A few days after this Mr. Meredith made his appearance at Brookside. He was delighted with the house and its surroundings, and most glad to see Kathie. But, joy of all, he had brought with him two elegant ponies that Uncle Robert had ordered, - sleek and shining creatures with beautiful manes and great gentle-looking eyes. One had a white star in his forehead.
" For the present," Uncle Robert said, " one pony is to be Kathie's and the other Rob's. Kathie will be generous with hers, I know, and I want Rob to be manly and obliging. The first one who acts selfishly forfeits the pony."
" Can I choose ? " asked Bob, with his eyes full of anxiety, and a little tremor in his voice.
" You are the eldest," said Kathie.
" Well, Rob, which is it then ? " Bob hesitated somewhat. He thought he ought to be generous, but it was very hard to give up his favorite, and perhaps Kathie did n't really care. So he flushed and looked boyishly embarrassed.
" I think this one is the prettiest," he said. " I like this white mark, and if I had him I should call him Star."
" Then you shall have him," replied Kathie.
" You don't want him ? " asked Bob, slowly.
" It will not make any difference to me, and the other looks the most gentle. What shall we call him, Mr. Meredith ? "
" I believe this one is named Hero."
" 0, I like that, so I shall not change it." Rob could hardly forbear giving his horse a rapturous hug. Just one more week of school, and then - hurrah! "
" Why, Rob! " exclaimed his uncle, surprised at the pirouette.
" I was thinking of something "; and Rob ran away quite red in the face.
On the next morning there came a pretty low pony-carriage and two saddles.
" It will be so delightful to take Aunt Ruth out," Kathie exclaimed; joyously. " Can I learn to drive ? "
" I am at your service for the first lesson," said Mr. Meredith. " Will you ride or drive ?"
"She will need a dress for riding," announced mamma, " and it will take a few days to get that ready."
Freddy shed some tears over the fact that his was n't a real live pony.
" You are rather small to manage one," said Uncle Robert, soothingly, "but one of these days you '11 grow as large as Rob."
That was quite comforting.
Kathie was a little timid, it must be confessed. The horses were very gentle creatures and well trained, and Mr. Meredith was the most patient of instructors.
On the way they passed Lottie Thorne, who had gone of an errand, and so was not in school.
"I suppose Kathie Alston feels very grand," she said, in an envious tone, as she was telling the incident. "A handsome young gentleman too, that I never saw before. Girls, she will outshine us all!"
" 0, it 's her pony," exclaimed Mary Cox. " Rob told us all about it; they each have one."
" It's so charming to put on airs when people have been poor as-as-" But Lottie hardly dared make the comparison in her mind."
" Kathie never did put on airs, and will not now," Mary declared, brave little champion that she was. " I 'm sure that I 'd rather Kathie Alston would have a fortune than any other girl in the world."
Poor Lottie was forced to keep silence, but she made herself very miserable over the ponies. Her father kept two horses, but he would as soon think of sending her up in a balloon as allowing her to try to drive.
Rob had his indulgence in the afternoon. He had ridden more than one old nag bareback, and so had quite plumed himself upon his skill.
They began to plan about their party, and had great fun in choosing a name for the new house. Rob's taste ran to the extravagant. Finally the contest was narrowed to two, - Silver Lake Cottage and Cedarwood. At the north stood a beautiful grove of cedars, which made the latter very appropriate.
Kathie proposed that they should go and call upon Miss Jessie and ask her opinion. Mr. Meredith was quite charmed with the young lady, and the sweet old grandmother also.
Miss Jessie declared in favor of Cedarwood. She and Mr. Meredith had a gay chat and a walk through the garden, greatly to Kathie's delight, for she was an ardent admirer of both.
After that they were much taken up with preparations for the party. Rob's vacation came at last, and he could hardly contain himself. Mrs. Alston felt sometimes as if he was getting quite beyond her jurisdiction, and he had always been rather boisterous and headstrong.
" We will take him in hand presently," said his uncle. " Through the winter I shall have more time to devote to him, and then part of the excitement will have subsided. He has the foundation for a fine man in him, I think."
" But I sometimes feel like Kathie, that we give you a great deal of trouble and can do but little for you," she said with a sad, sweet smile.
" And I am glad to take the trouble. The old selfish, ease-loving years of my life have passed forever. In God's good providence I have become useful at last."
The lawn and shrubbery were to be decorated with colored lanterns, although there would be a moon. A band of music was engaged, and there was to be a bountiful supper with an abundance of ices. They had a great time making out lists of invitations. Kathie's generous heart would have taken in nearly all Brookside.
She thought, when the evening arrived, that she had never dreamed of anything so beautiful. But when she came down stairs dressed in simplest white Rob felt immensely disappointed.
" I 'd have put on the very handsomest thing I had," he said, decisively. " I 'd show Lottie Thorne and some of the rest what I could do."
"No, Kathie is just right," said Mr. Meredith. "There is nothing in the world as attractive as a sweet face and a simple, unselfish heart."
It was a splendid night, and the guests soon began to arrive. Troops of girls and boys, and not a few older people, for there was a very general feeling in Brookside that the Alstons fully deserved their good fortune. Mr., Meredith and Uncle Robert proved most charming hosts.
The girls had to go up and see Kathie's room. Did she really have a pony of her own, and just as much money as she could spend ? and was she going to boarding-school, or would she have a governess at home, and a piano, and-" [sic]
Kathie laughed merrily. " I don't know what I am going to do," she said, " and I have a Fortunatus's purse with just one piece of gold in it, but when I spend that another always comes. It 's real fun."
What a gay, delightful evening they had! Running hither and thither, looking at everything and finding no end of wonders. There were plays with- out number, and some dancing on the lawn, and the music sounded most bewitching as it floated through the trees. Everybody declared that there never had been such a time before. I think Rob was excusable if he did show off a little to some of the girls who had amused themselves by teasing Kathie.
Mr. Meredith and Miss Jessie watched the little girl as she flitted from one to another, paying the most attention to those who were poorly dressed or felt embarrassed by the crowd. She brought Lucy and Annie Gardiner to her uncle, though they were a trifle shy at first, but they afterward pronounced him " just splendid."
Then they were summoned to supper. The table was most beautifully arranged, and though the refreshments were abundant, they were in no wise extravagant, - a point that Mrs. Alston, had strongly insisted upon.
Toward the close of the feast Mr. Meredith announced to them that they had assembled for a more momentous purpose than mere amusement. This pretty abode was to be christened, but first he desired to tell them a story, an odd little history of a dainty fairy whom he had met, and what had happened to her. The first part was very well disguised, but as he went on a general whisper floated through the room. " Kathie Alston ! Kathie Alston ! " and the voices grew more merry and distinct, while all eyes turned to Kathie's blushing face.
" And although it has been decided to call the place Cedarwood, - a name both pretty and appropriate, - there will be to some of us a dearer appellation, a kind of pet name that will bring a tender remembrance of these pleasant incidents, and this is ' Kathie's Fairy-land.' So let us wish its young mistress health, prosperity, and a long, happy life ! "
" Hurrah! " exclaimed Harry Cox, in his good-natured, boisterous way.
There was a tremendous response to this. Kathie was glad to hide her blushing face behind Miss Jessie.
" I am afraid you will have Kathie quite spoiled," exclaimed Mrs. Alston, rather anxiously.
" Then we shall all have to go to work and reform her," returned Mr. Meredith, smiling. " But it seems to me that she has discovered some of the true purposes of life, and will not be easily led astray. There is a vein of gravity in her that one does not often find in happy, healthful children, a kind of ballast that will carry her safely over dangerous seas."
" I hope it may," was the fervent reply.
" Why, it is just like a book," declared Mary Cox, half devouring Kathie with kisses when she found her. " I should like to live here forever and ever."
The children crowded round and wished her all manner of good things. It hardly seemed possible that this could be little Kathie, who wore faded dresses at school and used to sit in the house and sew while other girls played.
There followed a general dispersion from the sup- per-room, and they were all surprised to find it so late. It was high time for the party to break up, so Mrs. Alston made no effort to detain the children, the feminine portion of which began to hunt up shawls, hats, and various dainty wraps, confessing their supreme enjoyment with every other breath. Yet it was a long while before the last good-bys were said. The children crowded around Kathie as if they were afraid she might be spirited away, and they all felt that she was the dearest and sweetest little girl in the world.
Kathie and Uncle Robert stood on the balcony watching Mr. Morrison put out the lamps. Great sheets of silvery moonlight quivered over the lawn, and the golden stars twinkled up above, tender-eyed, and with fond benedictions.
" 0 Uncle Robert, what a lovely time we have had ! " she exclaimed. " It does n't seem as if anything so wonderful could happen to me, of all others. And Mr. Meredith was right, - it is fairy-land and you are my darling prince ! "
He stooped and kissed her fondly.
" And you are better than any fairy," said Mr. Meredith, joining them,-"a little girl who found the charm of a true, generous life even in poverty. May God keep you as pure and simple-hearted in prosperity! "
There were tears in her eyes as she kissed her mother and Aunt Ruth, for her heart seemed overflowing with joy and gratitude. And she wondered if there had ever before been such a happy little girl in all the world.
And here we must leave her for a brief while. That her future will have in it many joys, you can scarcely doubt. That it will also have duties, cares, and perplexities is but natural, since no life can ever be wholly perfect in this world.
But with God to keep watch and ward I think we can safely trust her to tread any path.
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