List Of Contents | Contents of A Summer in a Canyon, by Kate Douglas Wiggin
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see a singul fairy dance.'

But he waited very patiently for a long, long time that seemed like
years, for Lubin had disappeared; and all at once it grew so dark in
this thickly-wooded place that Dicky's courage oozed out in a single
moment, without any previous warnings as to its intention.  The
toadstools looked like the ghosts of little past-and-gone fairy
umbrellas in the darkness, and not a single fairy couple came to
waltz under their snowy canopies, or exchange a furtive kiss beneath
their friendly shadows.

Dicky thought the situation exceedingly gloomy, and, without knowing
it, followed the example of many older people, who, on being deserted
by man, experienced their first desire to find favour with God.  He
was not in the least degree a saintly child, but he felt
instinctively that this was the proper time for prayer; and not
knowing anything appropriate to the occasion, he repeated over and
over again the time-worn plaint of childhood:-

'Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.  Amen.'

Like older mortals of feeble faith, he looked for an immediate and
practical answer, in the shape, perhaps, of his mother, with his
little night-gown and bowl of bread and milk.

'My sakes alive!' he grumbled between his sobs, 'they're the meanest
fings I ever saw.  How long do they s'pose I'm goin' to wait for 'em
in this dark?  When the bears have et me up in teenty snips, then
they'll be saterfied, I guess, and wisht they'd tookened gooder care
of me--a little speck of a boy, lefted out in this dark, bear-y
place, all by his lone self.  O--oo--oo--oh!' and he wound up with a
murderous yell, which had never failed before to bring the whole
family to his side.

His former prayer seeming to be in vain, he found a soft place,
brushed it as clean as possible, and with difficulty bending his
little stiff, scratched body into a kneeling position, he prayed his
nightly postscript to 'Now I lay me':  'God bless papa, 'n' mamma,
'n' Bell, 'n' Jack, 'n' Madge, 'n' Polly, 'n' Phil, 'n' Geoff, 'n'
Elsie.'  Then, realizing that he was in a perilous position, and it
behoved him to be as pious as possible, he added:  'And please bless
Pancho, 'n' Hop Yet, 'n' Lubin, 'n' the goat--not the wild goat up on
the hill, but my goat, what got sick to his stummick when I painted
him with black letters.'

What a dreadful calamity, to be sure, if the wrong goat had been
blessed by mistake!  His whole duty performed, he picked the
toadstools for his papa's Sunday dinner, and, leaning his head
against the lone stump, cried himself to sleep.

But relief was near, though he little suspected it as he lay in the
sound, dreamless sleep which comes only to the truly good.  There was
a crashing sound in the still darkness, and Bell plunged through the
thick underbrush with a cry of delight.

'He is here!  Dear, dear Geoff, he is all here!  I knew it, I knew
it!  Hurrah!--no, I mean--thank God!' she said softly as she stooped
down to kiss her mischievous little brother.

'But what a looking creature!' exclaimed Geoff, as he stooped over
the recovered treasure.  'See, Bell, his curls are glistening with
pitch, his dress is torn into ribbons, and his hands--ugh, how

'Poor little darling, he is thoroughly used up,' whispered Bell,
wiping tears of joy from her brown eyes.  'Now, I'll run home like
lightning to blow the horn; and you carry Dicky, for he is too sleepy
and stiff to walk; and, Geoff'--(here she laid an embarrassed hand on
his shoulder)--'I'm afraid he'll be awfully cross, but you'll not
mind it, will you?  He's so worn-out.'

'Not I,' laughed Geoff, as he dropped a brotherly kiss on Bell's pale
cheek.  'But I've no idea of letting you go alone; you're tired to
death, and you'll miss the path.  I wish I could carry you both.'

'Tired--afraid!' cried Bell, with a ringing laugh, while Dicky woke
with a stare, and nestled on Geoffrey's shoulder as if nothing had
happened.  'Why, now that this weight is lifted off my heart, I could
see a path in an untravelled forest!  Good-bye, you dear, darling,
cruel boy!  I must run, for every moment is precious to mamma.'  And
with one strangling hug, which made Dicky's ribs crack, she dashed

Oh how joyously, how sweetly and tunefully, the furious blast of the
old cracked dinner-horn fell on the anxious ears in that canyon.  It
seemed clearer and more musical than a chime of silver bells.

In a trice the wandering couples had gathered jubilantly round the
camp-fire, all embracing Bell, who was the heroine of the hour--
entirely by chance, and not though superior vision or courage, as she

It was hardly fifteen minutes when Geoff strode into the ring with
his sorry-looking burden, which he laid immediately in Aunt Truth's

'Oh my darling!' she cried, embracing him fondly.  'To think you are
really not dead, after all!'

'No, he is about as alive as any chap I ever saw.'  And while the
happy parents caressed their restored darling, Geoff gathered the
girls and boys around the dinner-table, and repeated some of Dicky's
remarks on the homeward trip.

It seems that he considered himself the injured party, and with great
ingenuity laid all the blame of the mishap on his elders.

'Nobuddy takes care of me, anyhow,' he grumbled.  'If my papa wasn't
a mean fing I'd orter to have a black nurse with a white cap and
apurn, like Billy Thomas, 'n' then I couldn't git losted so offul
easy.  An' you all never cared a cent about it either, or you'd a
founded me quicker 'n this--'n' I've been hungry fur nineteen hours,
'n' I guess I've been gone till December, by the feelin', but you was
too lazy to found me 'f I freezed to def--'n' there ain't but one
singul boy of me round the whole camp, 'n' 't would serveded you
right if I had got losted for ever; then I bet you wouldn't had much
fun Fourth of July 'thout my two bits 'n' my fire-crackers!'

It was an hour or two before peace and quiet were restored to the
camp.  The long-delayed dinner had to be eaten; and to Hop Yet's calm
delight, it was a very bad one.  Dicky's small wounds were dressed
with sweet oil, and after being fed and bathed he was tucked lovingly
into bed, with a hundred kisses or more from the whole party.

A little rest and attention had entirely restored his good-humour;
and when Dr. Paul went into the tent to see that all was safe for the
night, he found him sitting up in bed with a gleeful countenance,
prattling like a little angel.

'We had an offul funny time 'bout my gittin' losted, didn't we,
mamma?' chuckled he, with his gurgling little laugh.  'Next time I'm
goin' to get losted in annover bran'-new place where no-bud-dy can
find me!  I fink it was the nicest time 'cept Fourth of July, don't
you, mamma?'  And he patted his mother's cheek and imprinted an oily
kiss thereon.

'Truth,' said the Doctor, with mild severity, 'I know you don't
believe in applying the slipper, but I do think we should arrange
some plan for giving that child an idea of the solemnity of life.  So
far as I can judge, he looks at it as one prolonged picnic.'

'My sentiments exactly!' cried Bell, energetically.  'I can't stand
many more of these trying scenes; I am worn to a "shadder."'

Dicky tucked his head under his mother's arm, with a sigh of relief
that there was one person, at least, whose sentiments were always
favourable and always to be relied upon.

'I love you the best of anybuddy, mamma,' whispered he, and fell



'The letter of a friend is a likeness passing true.'

Our friend Polly was seated in a secluded spot whence all but her had
fled; her grave demeanour, her discarded sun-bonnet, her corrugated
brow, all bespoke more than common fixedness of purpose, the cause of
which will be discovered in what follows.


Scene:  A sequestered nook in the Valley of the Flowers.

CAMP CHAPARRAL, July 6, 188-.

The countess is discovered at her ommerlu {1a} writing-table.  A
light zephyr {1b} plays with her golden locks {1c} and caresses her
Grecian {1d} nose--a nose that carries on its surface a few trifling
freckles, which serve but to call attention to its exquisite purity
of outline and the height of its ambition.  Her eyes reflect the
changing shadows of moonlight, and her mouth is one fit for sweet
sounds; {1e} yet this only gives you a faint idea of the beauteous
creature whose fortunes we shall follow in our next number. {1f}

I have given that style a fair trial, my dear darling, but I cannot
stand it another minute, not being familiar with the language of what
our cook used to call the 'fuddal aristocracy' (feudal, you know).

I, your faithful Polly, am seated in the card-room, writing with a
dreadful pen which Phil gave me yesterday.  Its internal organs are
filled with ink, which it disgorges when PRESSED to do so, but just
now it is 'too full for utterance,' as you will see by the blots.

We have decided not to make this a real round-robin letter, like the
last, because we want to write what we like, and not have it read by
the person who comes next.

I have been badgered to death over my part of the communication sent
to you last week, for the young persons connected with this camp have
a faculty of making mountains out of mole-hills, as you know, and I
have to suffer for every careless little speech.  However, as we
didn't wish to bore you with six duplicate letters, we invented a
plan for keeping off each other's ground, and appointed Geoff a
committee of one to settle our line of march.  It is to be a
collective letter, made up of individual notes; and these are Geoff's
sealed orders, which must be obeyed, on pain of dismissal from the

No. 1 (Polly) is to amuse!
No. 2 (Phil)  ... inform!
No. 3 (Geoff) ... edify!!
No. 4 (Madge) ... gossip.
No. 5 (Bell)  ... versify.
No. 6 (Jack)  ... illustrate

So, my dear, if you get any 'information' or happen to be 'edified'
by what I write, don't mention it for worlds!  (I just screamed my
fears about this matter to Jack, and he says 'I needn't fret.'  I
shall certainly slap that boy before the summer is over.)

I could just tell you a lovely story about Dicky's getting lost in
the woods the day before yesterday, and our terrible fright about
him, and how we all joined in the boy-hunt, until Geoff and Bell
found him at the Lone Stump; but I suppose the chronicle belongs to
Phil's province, so I desist.  But what can I say?  Suppose I tell
you that Uncle Doc and the boys have been shooting innocent, TAME
sheep, skinning and cutting them up on the way home, and making us
believe for two days that we were eating venison; and we never should
have discovered the imposition had not Dicky dragged home four sheep-
skins from the upper pool, and told us that he saw the boys 'PEELING
THEM OFF A VENISON.'  Perhaps Phil may call this information, and
Margery will vow that it is gossip and belongs to her; any way, they
consider it a splendid joke, and chuckle themselves to sleep over it
every night; but I think the whole affair is perfectly maddening, and
it makes me boil with rage to be taken in so easily.  Such a to-do as
they make over the matter you never saw; you would think it was the
first successful joke since the Deluge.  (That wasn't a DRY joke, was
it?  Ha, ha!)

This is the way they twang on their harp of a thousand strings.  At
breakfast, this morning, when Jack passed me the corn-bread, I said
innocently, 'Why, what have we here?'  'It is manna that fell in the
night,' answered Jack, with an exasperating snicker.  'You didn't
know mutton, but I thought, being a Sunday-school teacher, you would
know something about manna.'  (N.B.--He alludes to that time I took
the infant class for Miss Jones, and they all ran out to see a
military funeral procession.)  'I wish you knew something about
manners,' snapped I; and then Aunt Truth had to warn us both, as
usual.  Oh dear! it's a weary world.  I'd just like to get Jack at a
disadvantage once!

[Next paragraph crossed out]
We climbed Pico Negro yesterday.  Bell, Geoff, Phil, and I had quite
an experience in losing the trail.  I will tell you about it.  Just
as -

(Goodness me! what have I written?  Oh, Elsie, pray excuse those
HORIZONTAL EVIDENCES of my forgetfulness and disobedience.  I have
bumped my head against the table three times, as penance, and will
now try to turn my thoughts into right channels.  This letter is a
black-and-white evidence that _I_ have not a frivolous order of mind,
and have always been misunderstood from my birth up to this date.)

We have had beautiful weather since--but no, of course Phil will tell
you about the weather, for that is scarcely an amusing topic.  I do
want to be as prudent as possible, for Uncle Doc is going to read all
the letters (not, of course, aloud) and see whether we have fulfilled
our specific obligations.

(I just asked Bell whether 'specific' had a 'c' or an's in the
middle, and she answered '"c," of course,' with such an air, you
should have heard her!  I had to remind her of the time she spelled
'Tophet' with an 'f' in the middle; then she subsided.)

(I just read this last paragraph to Madge, to see if she called it
gossip, as I was going to take it out if it belonged to her topic,
but she said No, she didn't call it gossip at all--that she should
call it slander!)

You don't know how we all long to see you, dear darling that you are.
We live in the hope of having you with us very soon, and meanwhile
the beautiful bedstead is almost finished, and a perfect success.  (I
wish to withdraw the last three quarters of that sentence, for
obvious reasons!!)

Dear, dear!  Geoffrey calls 'Time up,' and I've scarcely said
anything I should.  Never, never again will I submit to this method
of correspondence; it is absolutely petrifying to one's genius.  When
I am once forced to walk in a path, nothing but the whole out-of-
doors will satisfy me.

I'm very much afraid I haven't amused you, dear, -

But when I lie in the green kirkyard,
With the mould upon my breast,
Say not that 'She did well or ill,'
Only, 'She did her best.'

Now, do you think that will interfere with Bell, when it's only a
quotation?  Any way, it's so appropriate that Uncle Doc will never
have the heart to strike it out.  The trouble is that Geoff thinks
all the poetry in the universe is locked up in Bell's head, and if
she once allows it to escape, Felicia Hemans and the rest will be too
discouraged ever to try again!  (I can't remember whether F. H. is
alive or not, and am afraid to ask, but you will know that I don't
mean to be disrespectful.)

Laura, Anne, and Scott Burton were here for the play, and Laura is
coming down again to spend the week.  I can't abide her, and there
will probably be trouble in the camp.

The flame of my genius blazes high just now, but Geoff has spoken,
and it must be snuffed.  So good-bye!

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