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NEW BITS OF TALK FOR YOUNG FOLKS.
By H. H. (HELEN JACKSON.)
II. CAPTAIN BRIGHT EYES AND
so she was, for this was Lady Quick Ear, who LADY QUICK EAR.
could hear the smallest sounds, at a greater dis
tance than any one else in that country. She had ONCE on a time two travelers, in search of a been noted for this all her life. The little man in home, arrived in a country where they had never the shining helmet was her husband, Captain been before. It was entirely unlike any land they Bright Eyes. When the two were married, every had ever seen, though a very beautiful country. one said: The sun shone bright, birds sang, flowers bloomed “Now, there can not remain anything in the everywhere, there were great groves of tall green world worth knowing that these two will not find trees, and high mountains, and wide rivers. Smooth out!” roads led off in all directions.
And so it proved. There was hardly a day that “Ha!” said the travelers, “this is an easy one or the other of them did not make some new country to go about in; with these good roads, it and wonderful discovery. They were always tomust be very plain traveling.”
gether, and they were always busy, searching, The bystanders smiled when they heard the searching, listening, listening. To and fro they travelers say this.
journeyed, the brightest, happiest couple in all the “Shall we tell them the truth?” they asked land. The real occupation and business of these among themselves.
serviceable little folk was to go about as guides "No," answered a white-headed man. “It and companions, and they were always watching would not be of the least use. They would not for strangers who should be eager to see the wonbelieve us.”
derful beauties and treasures they had discovered. There was one thing in this country which struck They were often saddened by seeing how few peothe travelers as very strange. Every one looked ple really cared for these beauties and treasures. old – very old indeed. The new-comers were not For most travelers hurried through the country, so impolite as to say so, but in their hearts they and away again, hardly looking at anything. But thought:
sometimes visitors would come who wanted to see “Dear! what an antiquated set they are ! They everything that the little guides could show ; and look as if they had lived here forever.”
these visitors always went away rich with treasures, “Will you not take guides with you?" asked and bearing a lasting affection for Captain Bright one of the old men. “If you really think of Eyes and his wife. settling in this land, they could show you the best When the white-haired man who, as I said, was places. Great treasures exist in our country for advising the new-comers, saw Captain Bright Eyes people who know how to find them; but great and Lady Quick Ear coming up, he continued: dangers also, which a stranger might not suppose.” “ Here are the two best guides in all our coun
“Oh, no; thank you," answered the travelers, try. There is not an inch of it they do not know. politely. “We shall just follow the roads, and go I wish you would be persuaded to engage them. wherever they lead us. We wish to see the whole I assure you their help is invaluable.” country; and one way will be as good as another." Captain Bright Eyes looked steadily at the
Just then there stepped up the oddest little strangers, but did not speak. Lady Quick Ear, couple, a man and a woman. They were so small, also silent, stood with downcast eyes. They never they looked almost like dwarfs. The man wore were known to press their services on any one. a shining silver helmet, so bright that it seemed The two travelers whispered together. They had to light up the whole place, even in broad daylight. very odd names, these travelers. One was called And his keen eyes were as bright as his helmet. “Search Out," and the other, “Never Mind.” The woman was very slender and graceful, and “What a fuss about nothing !” said Never Mind. was dressed all in green.
On her head was a “I believe they want to make money out of us; twisted turban of green gauze, partly hiding her that's all.” short fair curls. Her rosy little ears were set in “I'm not sure," replied Search Out; “they this golden hair, like pink pearls, and her face was may be right. I think we'd better take them lovely, with its sweet smile and thoughtful look. along. She seemed to be listening all the time. And “Do as you please," answered Never Mind. “ Throw your money away, if you like. I shall go them came a long train of wagons, laden with by myself, and we 'll see who fares best."
the treasures they had brought. “ All right,” said Search Out, much hurt at his When the procession stopped, Search Out stood friend's readiness to part company with him. up in the chariot and made a speech to the
people. “All right; I shall take the guides. Good-bye !” He told where they had been; how they had dis
So Search Out set off with Captain Bright Eyes covered mountains of gold and silver and precious and Lady Quick Ear, and Never Mind set off stones; valleys where all sorts of grain grew alone on another road, and that was the last they higher than men's heads; plains with natural oilsaw of each other for many a year. How many, I wells to supply fuel and light; seas full of soft, can not say, because in fairy lands and fairy stories furry creatures; and forests of rare woods. time is not kept as clocks keep it, nor reckoned as “Plenty for everybody and to spare," he said. almanacs reckon it. You see, they had started “ There can not be another country so rich as out on roads so different and with plans so differ- this in all the universe." ent, that there was not one chance in a million of As he finished speaking, Captain Bright Eyes their coming together anywhere, and the odd thing pointed out to him a miserable, ragged fellow in was that they really did meet at the same place the crowd. where they had parted. And there was a crowd “There," he said, “is the friend who came to of bystanders, as at their first coming. Not the this country with you. He seems not to have same ones; most of the old, white-haired people prospered.” were gone; but other patriarchs had taken their Search Out looked. It was, indeed, his old complaces. In this country the inhabitants were all rade, Never Mind, so aged, so altered by suffering the time changing, the old disappearing, the and poverty as hardly to be recognized. young turning old, and new ones becoming known. The next day, when the two new travelers, who It happened, that on this day, when the half-for- had seen this spectacle and had heard reports of gotten travelers returned, two strangers had just Search Out's discoveries, were about to set off on arrived (as Search Out and Never Mind themselves their own journey, there came up to them an old had arrived, a lifetime or so before), seeking a white-haired man, and said, as the other old man home, and anxious to explore the new country. It had said a lifetime or so before to Search Out and seemed to these strangers that every one was Never Mind : watching for something to happen.
“Will you not take guides with you? If you “What are you all waiting here for ?” they really mean to settle here, they could show you the asked.
best places. We have great treasures, as you “There is to be a grand ceremony, presently,” have seen, but dangers exist also, which a stranger was the answer. “ We are to welcome the distin- might not suspect. Captain Bright Eyes and guished traveler, Search Out, who has been ex- Lady Quick Ear are here still. If you take them ploring our country for a long time, and who is along, you will not regret it.” coming back laden with treasures of all sorts. While these words were being spoken, Captain Discoveries so grand as his have never before been Bright Eyes and Lady Quick Ear stood by, silent, made. We shall welcome, also, the two guides who waiting. have accompanied him everywhere. They --" They looked not a day older than when they had
At that moment, a burst of music was heard, gone with Search Out. and the head of the procession came in sight. “Oh, nonsense!” said one of the strangers. There sat Search Out in a beautiful chariot drawn “We don't want any guides. We can follow the by four milk-white horses. With him were Cap- beaten path.” tain Bright Eyes and Lady Quick Ear. Captain “To be sure," said the other.
“ In a country Bright Eyes' silver helmet flashed in the sunlight, with such roads as these, who wants guides?” and Lady Quick Ear's green gauze turban looked So they set off alone, and were never heard of as bright as young birch-leaves in spring. Behind again.
It was a cold, gray Saturday afternoon. There now until supper. Of course, there was his sled. were clouds of snow in the sky, and plenty Perhaps it would be well to bring his sled into conof snow already fallen on the earth, while the junction with a hill. The image of a very steep woods seemed frozen as stiff as ship-masts. Ollie and from the top !- an inviting hill came to Nick's Phipp was at home with something the matter; inner vision, and he began to wonder whether it was the girls of the neighborhood were doing crochet- well covered with snow, and whether the snow there ing, so cheerless was it out of doors; and Nick had frozen as stiff as everywhere else. It would be Woolson, who, if given freedom, never staid in the very lonely, if he went to that hill to coast all by house except to eat and sleep, was out, you may himself. No one ever went there, except in summer be sure, and wondering what sort of fun could turn to cut hay — if they could, in spite of the sevenup with so little to do, and so few to help him league-booted grasshoppers. The gate and wooddo it.
path leading toward the hill of which Nick was He could go to the barn, of course, and look at thinking suddenly presented themselves at the side the cows out of the corners of his eyes, and grin of the road, and Nick marched directly toward them a little because they were having a rather more with a dogged thud of his rubber ankles, as they stupid time than he was; or he could go to the struck together in a fashion denoting dauntless recellar and get an ice-cold apple to chew, which solve. A delicious cold chill passed over his heart as was n't a bit warmer on the red side than on the he realized that the real Nick Woolson was carrying yellow; and he could get some hazel-nuts from the off the timid Nick Woolson, with the intention of darksome attic, and easily spend two hours in cx- making him play in as lonely a spot as the country tracting the meat from a handful of them.
could boast. The hill shone like silver and gold He had taken his sled out with him, however; and in the afternoon sun, and shadowed away toward a savage, hard, heavy little sled it was. Just now the valley and the neighboring woods with great its sharp runners poked at his rubber boots threaten- blue spaces that looked like lakes of magic water. ingly, as much as to say that, if he abandoned it After he had advanced some distance, Nick turned in for any other sport, there might be a future tumble a circle, and in every direction he beheld a picton snow or ice to punish him. So Nick gave his ure of stillness. He pulled off one of his mittens sled a jerk by the cord in response, leaving no doubt and felt in an inner pocket of his coat for his parthat he was master of that impertinent plaything, ticular treasure, for which he had bartered a pocalthough he considered and met its demands; and ket-knife, with one blade missing. It was a small off he sauntered up the highway.
china Buddha, about an inch and a quarter high, It would have been impossible for Nick not to and as ugly as Buddha knows how to be. He come upon something to do, after starting off into' touched the little idol's smooth surface, and his too the world outside his father's gate in this trusting great loneliness was banished.
It was delightful to have no notion what It seemed all a dream while Nick was floating his occupation was to be, and yet to be sure that down the icy hill-side on his sled so fast that the it was coming on from before or behind, or from one trees left behind him in the distance were like vague side or the other. It was not likely to come from memories of trees dancing a horn-pipe to keep his own brain, for he had no definite plan nor fancy their toes warm. But it did not seem as if he had as to how it would be jolly to pass the time from ever dreamed in his life when it came to climbing the hill again, after his dizzy rush; for he had to nerves must have been superbly steady to allow of break a hole into the hard snow every time he his indifference. But who ever arrived at the real planted his foot, and then had to wrench his heavy feelings of a fox? As Nick looked up at the top sled with force after him, or coast to the foot of the of the hill from which he had descended, relucthill on his back, whichever he preferred. Nick antly viewing the steep distance he would be thought of going home, when he had nearly obliged to climb if he wanted another swallow's reached the top. But as soon as he found him- flight, he descried a being standing there, very self safe and sound on the summit, he sat right much like a sturdy young man with a small bag in down on his sled and skimmed away to the blue his hand. He shouted down to Nick: valley sea. As he flew down-hill a second time, he “Fine coast!” thought to himself that he was contented with being Nick grinned, and forgot to answer. a boy. He sat still in the valley for a moment, appar- “Give us your sled a minute !” called the young
ently knowing that a fox was about to steal with a man again, using his disengaged hand as a speakspringing tread across an open space, turning his ing-trumpet. fat cheeks full upon Nick, and wearing an expres- Nick thought there was something wanting to sion of countenance which seemed to say that, this proposal, and refrained from answering until of the two, Nick was immeasurably the less safe. he had reconciled himself to its absence. The hill Considering that Nick looked very queer, with a was certainly high. gayly striped scarf wound about his ears, the fox's “I'll— tell you what — we'll do,-if-you'll— spot ?"
come up here !” the distant figure hallooed, not taking! He skipped along, heavy as his rubber abashed by the youngster's still sitting quietly boots were supposed to be. astride of his sled. But Nick did not move, after “ They wont be anxious, will they ?” asked the all, and the young man sat down on the snow to wait young man kindly. until the boy thought fit to respond. The inaction “I suppose they may,” Nick thoughtfully rewhich en ed was distasteful to Nick, and he began sponded, “but I think it will hardly do them the difficult ascent, and arrived, puffing for breath. much harm ; and I think it would make me ill to The young man let him rest for a moment, during go home without having all this lark. A person which the two eyed each other, and then he asked: must consider himself, now and then.” “What on earth made you come to this solitary “Right you are !” assented the young man, as
if he repeated the same motto to himself every Nick wound his sled-rope around and around hour of the day. So that point was settled. his finger, and replied :
The fir-trees were laden with firm snow, and “What made you come?”
were very much like marble trees that had not been Why, I'm going over to the pond, for a quite quarried out of the earth, for their lower skate."
branches and the bent tops of the bushes were still Nick looked longingly at the coarse linen bag. fastened beneath the white surface. The pedes
“Do they ever skate on the pond!” he asked, trians often burst the fetters of the snow-shackled as if he knew they never did.
branches as they passed, either by too near a step, “Once in five years, if they 're willing to have or, apparently, by merely breaking the dead stilla delightful time,” said the young man. “It is ness with their distant foot-falls. The very birds, frozen over this year, I hear, and I mean to try it. overtaken at long intervals, seemed dumbas fancies; But give me your sled, first; I wish to recall old and once a hidden tread of some wild thing passing experiences."
along in the obscurity of the underbrush and the “Not that way!” cried Nick, as the young man clustered tree-trunks, sounded like the passing of laid himself flat on the sled, which disappeared a huge animal, which Nick's companion thought under his tall figure. “This iced snow will carry likely to be a lioness escaped from the menagerie you like fury, and you 'll be smashed to nothing !” which had lately been spilled on the railroad track.
The young man looked up with one sparkling eye. Several animals were said to have been lost.
“ It 's worth anything," he answered, and was Nick thought he never should be more excited or off. Nick reflected coldly, that in case the sled wonderfully jubilant than he began to be now. To and its rider were lost to the world in a mingled be sure, he stepped along with the persuasion that mass of bones and splinters, at any rate he could each moment might be his last in this world, and go skating on the skates next day. But the he glanced now and then at his companion's big young man had no sooner reached the base of the figure with pleasure in the sense of its protective slope, having guided himself in a masterly way power. But he really enjoyed the great danger with his toes, than he picked himself up, and in which his companion allowed the lad to imagine strode up the glistening surface. Nick had never himself. And when one is enjoying a danger, pray seen so agile and delightful a giant.
what is there to worry about? Whereas, to enjoy “ Thanks, old fellow," said the young man, not a pleasure often means to dread its consequences. caring to sit down to rest, but taking up his skate- Suddenly the great pond, or lake, as some called bag with a sweep of the arm. “Follow me, and I'll it, lifted itself up before them, black as night in its carry you all over the pond on your sled, as I skate. white and black rim of snow and fir-trees. While It will be the finest half hour you ever spent.” the sun cast an orange light over one side of the Nick was of the same opinion.
sky, against which the woods reared their pinnaOh, what fun!” he exclaimed, trudging be- cles, Nick's new friend hurried on his skates, and side his new friend (for from that instant he looked slid off on the ice. He sailed about for a minute upon him as a friend). “Where did you come or two, and then came back to the pond's edge. from ?”
* Ready?" said he. “Oh, I'm a college man sojourning in the coun
Nick left land on his sled at once, the young try for a little while!” And the young man smiled. man caught the rope, and away they all shot,“I've been here before, and I know about the skates, sled, young man, and Nick in bliss. resources of this pond. You see, there 's going to So wildly fast flew the collegian that, with a be a sunset soon, now, and then the young moon; whizzing touch here and there of Nick's skillful and it will be lovely out there, depend upon it. heels, the sled never swerved to right or left. We 'll get home to supper by seven, I think.” Every little while the young man would turn his
Nick's heart bounded. Here was a real under head far enough to say: