I. Two tramps and
II. Ginger and the boys.
III. The valentine party.
IV. A fire and A plan.
V. Jonesy’s benefit.
VI. The little colonel’s two rescues.
VII. A game of Indian.
Two little knights of
* * * * * Chapter I.
Two tramps and A bear.
It was the coldest Saint Valentine’s eve that Kentucky had known in twenty years. In Lloydsborough Valley a thin sprinkling of snow whitened the meadows, enough to show the footprints of every hungry rabbit that loped across them; but there were not many such tracks. It was so cold that the rabbits, for all their thick fur, were glad to run home and hide. Nobody cared to be out long in such weather, and except now and then, when an ice-cutter’s wagon creaked up from some pond to the frozen pike, the wintry stillness was unbroken.
On the north side of the little country depot a long row of icicles hung from the eaves. Even the wind seemed to catch its breath there, and hurry on with a shiver that reached to the telegraph wires overhead. It shivered down the long stovepipe, too, inside the waiting-room. The stove had been kept red-hot all that dull gray afternoon, but the window-panes were still white with heavy frost-work.
Half an hour before the five o’clock train was due from the city, two boys came running up the railroad track with their skates in their hands. They were handsome, sturdy little fellows, so well buttoned up in their leather leggins and warm reefer overcoats that they scarcely felt the cold. Their cheeks were red as winter apples, from skating against the wind, and they were almost breathless after their long run up-hill to the depot. Racing across the platform, they bumped against the door at the same instant, burst it noisily open, and slammed it behind them with a bang that shook the entire building.
“What kind of a cyclone has struck us now?” growled the ticket agent, who was in the next room. Then he frowned, as the first noise was followed by the rasping sound of a bench being dragged out of a corner, to a place nearer the stove. It scraped the bare floor every inch of the way, with a jarring motion that made the windows rattle.
Stretching himself half-way out of his chair, the ticket agent pushed up the wooden slide of the little window far enough for him to peep into the waiting-room. Then he hastily shoved it down again.
“It’s the two little chaps who came out from the city last week,” he said to the station-master. “The Maclntyre boys. You’d think they own the earth from the way they dash in and take possession of things.”
The station-master liked boys. He stroked his gray beard and chuckled. “Well, Meyers,” he said, slowly, “when you come to think of it, their family always has owned a pretty fair slice of the earth and its good things, and those same little lads have travelled nearly all over it, although the oldest can’t be more than ten. It would be a wonder if they didn’t have that lordly way of making themselves at home wherever they go.”