Running to Waste: The Story of a Tomboy, p.1
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Additional Transcriber’s Notes are at the end.
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BECKY’S LEAP. Page 89.]
_THE MAIDENHOOD SERIES._
RUNNING TO WASTE.
THE STORY OF A TOMBOY.
BY GEORGE M. BAKER.
AUTHOR OF “AMATEUR DRAMAS,” “DRAWING-ROOM STAGE,” “SOCIAL STAGE,” “MIMIC STAGE,” ETC., ETC.
BOSTON: LEE AND SHEPARD, PUBLISHERS.
NEW YORK: LEE, SHEPARD AND DILLINGHAM.
* * * * *
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, BY GEORGE M. BAKER, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
* * * * *
TO MRS. RACHEL E. BOLES,
A PATIENT INVALID, WHO WOULD HAVE ME BELIEVE THAT A FEW OF HER WEARY HOURS HAVE BEEN LIGHTENED BY THE READING OF “THE STORY OF A TOMBOY,”
I Dedicate this Book,
IN REMEMBRANCE OF A LONG FRIENDSHIP, AND IN GRATITUDE FOR MANY KIND ACTS.
STOLEN SWEETS. 7
FALLEN FORTUNES. 22
MRS. THOMPSON’S CROSS. 38
BECKY SLEEPER’S CHARITY. 56
IN SCHOOL AND OUT. 73
BECKY’S LAST FROLIC. 90
MRS. THOMPSON DISOBEYS ORDERS. 104
BECKY’S NEW BIRTH. 122
TEDDY SLEEPER DINES OUT. 145
THE ROMANCE OF A POOR OLD MAID. 161
BECKY BEARDS THE LION IN HIS DEN. 176
AMONG THE WOODPECKERS. 197
DELIA SLEEPER’S SHIP COMES IN. 215
TWO YEARS AFTER. 231
RUNNING TO WASTE.
“Bouncers, Teddy! the roundest and the rosiest. Drop them, quick! Myapron’s all ready for the darlings.”
“It’s very well to say drop _them_; but it’s just as much as I can doto keep from falling myself. Don’t you see I’m holding on with bothhands?”
“What a fuss you do make! Come down, and let me try. I never saw a treeyet big enough to scare me.”
“Who’s scart, Becky Sleeper? I ain’t--not by a long chalk. When afeller’s holdin’ on with both hands, he can’t be expected to pick veryquick--can he?”
“Wind your arm round that branch over your head. There; now you’re allright, Teddy.”
“That’s so. What a hand you are to contrive! Now look sharp--they’recoming!”
Becky Sleeper, in imitation of famed “Humpty Dumpty,” sat upon a wall,where she had no business to be, for the wall was the boundary ofCaptain Thompson’s orchard. But there she sat, her feet dangling, herhair flying, and her hands holding her apron by its corners, intent oncatching the apples which her brother was plucking from the tree aboveher head.
An active, wide-awake little body was the girl who was acting asaccessory to the crime--a very common one--of robbing an orchard. Everymovement of her sprightly figure belied the family name. Perched uponthe wall, that cool October morning, she might have sat as a modelfor the Spirit of Mischief. A plump, round, rosy face, with a colorin the cheeks that rivaled in brightness the coveted fruit above her,blue eyes full of laughter, a pretty mouth, with dissolving views offlashing teeth, teasing smiles, and a tongue never at rest; a queerlittle pug nose, that had a habit of twitching a mirthful accompanimentto the merriment of eyes and mouth, a profusion of light hair, tossedto and fro by the quick motions of the head,--all these combined tomake a head-piece which would have delighted an artist, brightenedas it was by a few straggling rays of sunshine, that darted throughconvenient openings in the mass of foliage above her head.
Miss Becky’s costume, however, did not furnish a fitting finish to herface and figure, but, on the contrary, seemed much the worse for wear.A high-neck, blue-check apron showed unmistakable signs of familiaritywith grape and berry juices; the rusty brown dress which peeped outbeneath it was plentifully “sown with tares,” and had a rough fringe atthe bottom never placed there by the dress-maker; a pair of stockings,once white, had the appearance of having recently been dyed in amud-puddle, and a pair of stringless boots, which completed her attire,were only prevented from dropping off by an elevation of the toes.
With her diminutive figure, her mischievous face, and her eagerinterest in the apple raid, she might have been taken for athoughtless, giddy child. No stranger would have dreamed she was amaiden with an undoubted right to affix to her name, age sixteen.
Her companion was a year younger, but greatly her superior in weightand measure, not much taller, but remarkably round at the waist andplentifully supplied with flesh. He lacked the activity of his sister,but was ambitious to emulate her achievements, and to that end pantedand puffed with remarkable vigor.
Becky was an adept in all _boyish_ sports. She could climb a tree withthe activity of a squirrel, ride a horse without saddle or bridle, pulla boat against the swift current of the river, “follow my leader” onthe roughest trail, take a hand at base ball, play cricket, and wasconsidered a valuable acquisition to either side in a game of football.
Teddy admired the vigor of his sister, was not jealous of her superiorabilities, although he was unlucky in his pursuit of manly sports.He had to be helped up a tree, and very often lay at the foot, whenthe helper thought he had successfully accomplished his task. Horsesgenerally dropped him when he attempted to ride; he always “caughtcrabs” in boats; was a “muffer” at base ball, and in everybody’s way inall sorts of games.
These two were companions in roguery, and were a terror to allrespectable people in Cleverly who possessed orchards which they valuedhighly, or melon patches which they watched with anxious care; for,no matter how high the value, or how strict the watch, this pair ofmarauders had excellent taste in selection, and managed to appropriatethe choicest and best without leave or license.
Cleverly is a very staid, respectable, triangular township on the coastof Maine, its southern, or sea line about six miles in length, formingthe base of the triangle, with a small village--Foxtown--at itseastern point, and a somewhat more pretentious town--Geeseville--atits western point. From these two places the division lines ran, onenorth-east, the other north-west, meeting on Rogue’s River, where abridge makes the apex of the triangle. The roads, however, do nottraverse these boundary lines. There is a straight road from Foxtownto Geeseville, passing over a bridge which spans the river where itempties into the harbor. South of this highway is known as the foreside, and here may be found Captain Thompson’s shipyard, a short,chunky wharf, where occasionally a packet lies, and a blacksmith’sshop.
A few rods west of the river another road bre
There is abundance of thrift, with very little “brag” about Cleverly.Rogue’s River turns a paper mill, a woollen mill, and a nail factory.Every season a vessel is launched from the ship-yard, and every winterthe academy is well filled with students; every Friday night, winterand summer, the vestry of the church is crowded with an attentiveaudience, and every Sunday the church is surrounded with horses andvehicles of all sizes, varieties, and conditions; yet the quiet of theplace seems never broken. There is much beauty, with little attempt atdisplay, about the town. Trees line the street, vines climb about thehouses, shrubs peep out at the palings, and flowers bloom everywherewithout any seeming special assistance from the inhabitants.
There is very little change in the Cleverly of to-day from the Cleverlyof twenty years ago. Then Captain Thompson’s house stood directlyopposite the church, a large, square, two-story front, as grand as anyin the place. At the rear, a lower building, used as a kitchen, ranout to one still lower, used as a wood-shed; this, in turn, stretchedout to another building, used as a carriage-house, while the barn,of larger proportions, swung at the end of all; so that, approachingit from the side, the structure had the appearance of a kite with avery long tail to it. At the end of the stable was the kitchen garden;beyond that, the orchard, and on the stone wall which separates it fromthe lane, which in its turn separates the whole place from the woods,patiently sits Miss Becky during this long description.
“Quick, Teddy! Three more will make a dozen; and that’s as many asI can hold, they’re such whoppers. O, dear! my arms ache now,” saidBecky, after Teddy had employed more time than seemed necessary inplucking the captain’s mammoth Baldwins.
“Don’t ache any more than mine do, I guess,” grumbled Teddy; “and I’mall cramped up, too. Don’t believe I’ll ever git down agin.”
“O, yes, you will Teddy. You’re famous for quick descents, you know.You always come down quicker than you go up; and such gracefulsomersets as you do make! It’s better than the circus, any time, to seeyou;” and a merry peal of laughter broke from Miss Becky’s lips.
“Becky, Becky! don’t do that!” cried Teddy; “they’ll hear you up at thehouse. I wouldn’t have Cap’n Thompson catch me in this tree for a gooddeal, I tell you. He’s promised me a whaling if he ever catches me onhis place.”
“Don’t be scart, Teddy. He won’t catch you this time. I can see thehouse, and there is not a soul stirring; and, besides, the cap’n’s notat home.”
“I tell you, Becky, somebody’s comin’. I can feel it in my bones. I’mcomin’ down;” and Teddy made a frantic effort to free himself from thecrotch of the tree, into which he was snugly fitted.
“Not until you make up the dozen, Teddy. Don’t be a goose! I haven’twatched this tree a week for nothin’. Cap’n Thompson’s gone to theship-yard. I saw him ride off an hour ago on ‘Uncle Ned;’ and he nevergets back till dinner time when he goes there.”
“Don’t be too sure of that, Tomboy!”
With a slight scream, Becky turned her eyes from the camp of the enemyto the lane. Not ten feet from her stood a white horse, and on his backsat the dreaded enemy--Captain Thompson. A lively trembling of thebranches overhead gave evidence that another party was aware of thestartling interruption to a projected fruit banquet.
Becky looked at the captain. He had a very red face; he seemed to bein a towering passion, and was, evidently, searching his short, stoutbody for a tone deep and terrible enough with which to continue theconversation. She looked at him with a smile on her face; but, at theflash of his angry eyes, dropped hers to the apron which containedthe proofs of guilt, then stole a glance at her trembling accomplice,straightened her little body, and looked defiantly at the horseman.
“So, Tomboy, I have caught you in the act--have I?” thundered thecaptain.
“Yes, cap’n, you certainly have, this time, and no mistake,” saucilyanswered the tomboy. “S’pose we’ve got to catch it now. What’s thepenalty? Going to put us in the pound, or lock us up in the barn?”
“Neither, Miss Impudence,” thundered the captain. “I’ll horsewhip youboth. Here, you, Master Ned, come out of that tree, quick! D’ye hear?”
That the delinquent did hear, and that he was inclined to obey, wasmade manifest by a rustling among the leaves, and the dull thud of aheavy body as it struck the ground, for Master Teddy, terrified at theangry voice of the captain, had let go, and landed in a heap outsidethe wall.
“Run, Teddy, run! Don’t let him catch you!” cried Becky, in excitement,dropping her apron.
STOLEN SWEETS. Page 7.]
The round and rosy spoils, being freed, followed the law ofgravitation, and plumped one after another on to the head of theprostrate Teddy, who was groaning and rubbing his elbows, with a verylugubrious face.
“If you stir a step, you imp of mischief, I’ll break every bone in yourbody,” cried the captain, hastily dismounting, and approaching Teddy,with a long riding-whip in his hand.
“Don’t you touch my brother! Don’t you dare to touch my brother!” criedBecky from her perch. “It’s a shame to make such a fuss about a fewapples!”
“It’s a great shame that a girl of your age should be caught stealingapples,” replied the captain.
“’Tain’t my fault. We shouldn’t have been caught if you’d only staid atthe yard.”
The captain almost smiled; the audacity of the young depredator’sattempt to shift the responsibility of the theft upon him, reallytickled him. Nevertheless, he approached Teddy, who, having rubbedhimself comfortable, now sat calmly awaiting his fate.
“Now, sir, what have you to say for yourself? Haven’t I told you tokeep off my place? Haven’t I given you sufficient warning? Haven’t Ipromised you a thrashing if I caught you here--hey?” roared the captain.
“Yes, cap’n, you did. But I couldn’t help it. I--I--I didn’t want theapples; b--b--but I wanted to climb the tree for fun; its such a hardclimb, and--and--” stammered Teddy, eyeing the whip.
“Don’t lie, you imp. There’s my apples all round you. You shall sweatfor this, I promise you. Off with your jacket, quick! D’ye hear?”
“Don’t strike him, cap’n; please don’t. He’s not to blame;” and Beckyplunged from the wall, and stood between the captain and her brother.“He didn’t want the apples--indeed, he didn’t. He don’t like apples--doyou, Teddy?”
Teddy shook his head energetically, with a contemptuous look at thefruit.
“I helped him up the tree, and I’m to blame for it all. You oughtn’tto strike a boy for doing all he can to please his sister. If you mustwhip somebody, take me.”
“Stand out of the way, Tomboy. Your time will come soon enough--neverfear.” And he pushed her from the path. “Off with that jacket. D’yehear?”
Teddy coolly unbuttoned his jacket, and threw it on the grass.
“Don’t tease him, Becky. I’m not afraid of his whip. If it’s any funfor him, let him lay on. I guess I can stand it as long as he can;” andTeddy looked defiantly at his adversary.
Becky ran to her brother, and threw her arms about his neck, to shieldhim from the whip.
“He shan’t strike you, Teddy. It’s all my fault. He shan’t touch you.”
Captain Thompson was an obstinate man. When he made up his mind to thedoing of an act, nothing could stand in his way. Perhaps this
“Don’t, Becky. D’ye want to smother a feller? Don’t be a ninny. It’sgot to come. Go home--do.”
“I won’t. He shall kill me before he strikes you.”
Becky’s devotion was blighted in an instant, for the angry man seizedher by the arm and flung her across the lane. She fell to the groundunhurt, for the grass was thick and soft.
“I’ll teach you to meddle. Don’t come near me till I’ve done with him.Mind that.”
Becky sprang to her feet, fire flashing from her eyes. She was as angrynow as her tormentor. She picked up a stone, and despite his warning,approached the captain. He should not strike her brother, she lookedat the house; no one in sight. Down the lane; no one--yes, there stoodUncle Ned, cropping the grass, unmindful of the group. Ah, the horse!There was a chance yet to save her brother.
“Now, you scamp, I’ll teach you to rob orchards!” and the whip wasraised.
Spry as a cat, Becky was at the captain’s back in an instant. Shejumped and caught the whip from his hand, then ran for the horse. Thecaptain quickly turned; but too late. Becky sprang to the saddle,caught up the rein, lashed the horse, turned, and shouted, “Good by,Teddy! Good by, cap’n!” and galloped down the lane.
“Come back, come back, you imp of mischief! Come back, I say,” shoutedthe captain, running after her.
“Some other time, cap’n; can’t stop now. Good by;” and the saucy girlturned, waved her hand to the maddened and baffled owner of theBaldwins, plied the whip briskly, and was out of sight.
The captain, with a muttered “Hang it!”--which was the extent of hisswearing, for he was a deacon,--followed at as rapid a pace as he couldcommand, leaving Teddy solitary and alone.
The fat boy looked after his persecutor a moment, with a smile upon hisface, then rose, picked up his jacket, put it on, buttoned it at thebottom, then coolly picked up the trophies of victory, tucked them intohis jacket and his pockets, crossed the lane, crept through a hedge,and disappeared.