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- Betty Gordon in Washington - 4/28 -

And, daylight beaming, prove thy dreams are vain."

Bob's fresh, untrained voice sounded sweet and clear on the night air, and to Betty's surprise, tears came unbidden into her eyes. She was not given to analysis.

"Moonlight always makes me want to cry," she murmured, dashing the drops from her eyes. "I hope Bob will look up and know that I'm at the window. I don't dare call to him."

But Bob, who had stopped singing while still some distance from the house, clattered straight to the barn.

Betty hurried over to her lamp, lit it, and set it on the window sill.

"He'll see it from the barn," she argued wisely, "and know that I am not asleep."

Her reasoning proved correct, for in a few minutes a well-known whistle sounded below her window. She blew out the light and leaned out.

"Oh, Betty!" Bob's tone was one of repressed excitement. "I've got something great to tell you."

"Have you had any supper?" demanded Betty, more concerned with that question than with any news. "I've something for you, if you're hungry."

"Hungry? Gee, I'm starved!" was the response. "I didn't dare stop to ask for a meal anywhere, because I knew I'd be late getting home as it was. The horse was never cut out for a saddle horse; I'm so stiff I don't believe I can move to-morrow. Where's the eats?"

"Here. I'll let it down in a moment," answered Betty, tying a string to the parcel. "Sorry it isn't more, Bob, but the larder's getting low again."

Bob untied the can and cracker box she lowered to him, and Betty pulled in the string to be preserved for future use.

"Thanks, awfully," said Bob. "You're a brick, Betty. And, say, what do you think I heard over in Trowbridge?"

"Don't talk so loud!" cautioned Betty. "What, Bob?"

"Why, the poorhouse farm is this side of the town," said Bob, munching a cracker with liveliest manifestations of appreciation. "Coming back to-night--that's what made me late--Jim Turner, who's poormaster now, called me in. Said he had something to tell me. It seems there was a queer old duffer spent one night there a while back --Jim thought it must have been a month ago. He has a secondhand bookshop in Washington, and he came to the poorhouse to look at some old books they have there--thought they might be valuable. They opened all the records to him, and Jim says he was quite interested when he came to my mother's name. Asked a lot of questions about her and wanted to see me. Jim said he was as queer as could be, and all they could get out of him was that maybe he could tell me something to interest me. He wouldn't give any of the poorhouse authorities an inkling of what he knew, and insisted that he'd have to see me first."

"Where is he?" demanded Betty energetically. "I hope you didn't come away without seeing him, Bob. What's his name? How does he look?"

"His name," said Bob slowly, "is Lockwood Hale. And he went back to Washington the next day."

Betty's air castles tumbled with a sickening slump.

"Bob Henderson!" she cried, remembering, however, to keep her voice low. "The idea! Do you mean to tell me they let that man go without notifying you? Why I never heard of anything so mean!"

"Oh, I'm not important," explained Bob, quite without bitterness. "Poorhouse heads don't put themselves out much for those under 'em --though Jim Turner's always treated me fair enough. But Lockwood Hale had to go back to Washington the next day, Betty. There honestly wasn't time to send for me."

"Perhaps they gave him your address," said Betty hopefully. "But, oh, Bob, you say he was there a month ago?"

Bob nodded unhappily.

"He hasn't my address," he admitted. "Jim says he meant to give it to him, but the old fellow left suddenly without saying a word to any one. Jim thought maybe he had the name in mind and would write anyway. I'd get it, you know, if it went to the poorhouse. But I guess Hale's memory is like a ragbag--stuffed with odds and ends that he can't get hold of when he wants 'em. No, Betty, I guess the only thing for me to do is to go to Washington."

"Well, if you don't go to bed, young man, I'll come down there and help you along," an angry whisper came from the little window up under the roof. "You've been babbling and babbling steady for half an hour," grumbled the annoyed Ethan. "How do you expect me to get any sleep with that racket going on? Come on up to bed before the old man wakes up."

Thankful that it was Ethan instead of Mr. Peabody, Bob gathered up his sardines and the remnants of the crackers and tiptoed up the attic stairs to the room he shared with the hired man.

Betty hastily slipped into bed, and though Bob's news had excited her, she was tired enough to fall asleep readily.

In the morning she watched her chance to speak to Bob alone, and when she heard him grinding a sickle in the toolhouse ran out to tell him something.

"You must let me lend you some money, Bob," she said earnestly. "I know you haven't enough to go to Washington on. I've been saving, thanks to your advice, and I have more than I need. Besides, I could borrow from the Guerins or the Benders. You will take some, won't you?"

"I have enough, really I have," insisted Bob. "You know Dr. Guerin sold every one of those charms I carved, and I haven't spent a cent. It's all buried in a little canvas bag under the rose bush, just like a movie. I hate to take money from a girl, Betty."

"Don't be silly!" Betty stamped her foot angrily. "It's only a loan, Bob. And you'd feel cheap, wouldn't you, if you had to come back after you ran away because you didn't have enough money? You take this, and you can pay it back as soon as you please after you have seen the old bookstore man."

She pushed a tight little wad of money into the boy's perspiring hand.

"All right," he capitulated. "I'll borrow it. I would like to know I had enough. Sure I'm not crippling you, Betsey?"

Betty shook her head, smiling.

"I've enough to buy a ticket to Washington," she assured him. "That's all we need, isn't it, Bob? Oh, how I wish Uncle Dick would send for me!"



"You, Bob!"

The shout awakened Betty at dawn the next morning, and running to the window she saw Bob disappear into the barn, Mr. Peabody close on his heels.

"Oh, goodness, I suppose he's scolding about something," sighed the girl. "There always is something to find fault about. I hope Bob will keep his temper, because I want him to be able to take me to the vendue this afternoon."

Joseph Peabody came into breakfast in a surly frame of mind, a mental condition faithfully reflected in the attitude of his hired man who jerked back his chair and subsided into it with a grunt. Betty's irrepressible sense of humor pictured the dog (the Peabodys kept no dog because the head of the house considered that dogs ate more than they were worth) tucking his tail between his legs and slinking under the table as a port in the storm. The dog, she decided, glancing at Mrs. Peabody's timid face, was all that was needed to set the seal on a scene of ill-nature and discomfort.

Bob, when he came in late with the milk pails, wore a black scowl and set his burden down with a crash that spilled some of the precious fluid on to the oilcloth top of the side table.

"Be a little more careful with that," growled Mr. Peabody, taking the last piece of ham, which left nothing but the fried potatoes and bread for Bob's breakfast. "The cows are going dry fast enough without you trying to waste the little they give."

Bob, looking as though he could cheerfully fling the contents of both pails over his employer, sullenly began to pump water into the hand basin. This habit of "washing up" at the kitchen sink while a meal was in progress always thoroughly disgusted Betty, and Bob usually performed his ablutions on the back porch. This morning he was evidently too cross to consider a second person's feelings.

"Always ready enough to throw out what doesn't belong to you," went on Mr. Peabody grumbling. "Born in the poorhouse, you're in a fair way to die there. If I didn't watch you every minute, you'd waste more than I can save in a year."

Bob, his face buried in the roller towel, lost his temper at this point.

"Oh, for Pete's sake, shut up!" he muttered.

But Mr. Peabody had heard. With a quickness that surprised even his wife, for ordinarily he slouched his way around, he sprang from his chair, reached the side of the unconscious Bob, and soundly boxed his ears twice.

"I'll take no impudence from you!" he cried, enraged. "Here, come back!" he yelled, as Bob started for the door. "You come back here

Betty Gordon in Washington - 4/28

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