“Yes, I know, Mr. Brag,” she said, in such a low voice that her grandmother could not hear. “I know perfectly well. If I didn’t it wouldn’t be because you haven’t told me every chance you got. Who did you say is your tailor in London, and how many times was it the Queen invited you out to Windsor? I think it’s a ninety-nine dollar cravat you always buy, isn’t it? And you wouldn’t be so common as to wear a pair of gloves that hadn’t been made to order specially for you. Yes, I’ve heard all about it!”
Miss Allison heard, but said nothing. She knew the boys were a little inclined to boast, and she thought Virginia’s sharp tongue might have a good effect. But the retort had grown somewhat sharper than was pleasant, and, fearing a quarrel might follow if she did not interrupt the whispers beside her, she said:
“Boys, did you ever hear about the time that the Little Colonel threw mud on her grandfather’s coat? There’s no end to her pranks. Get grandmother to tell you.”
“Oh, yes, please, grandmother,” begged Keith, with an arm around her neck. “Tell about Fritz and the parrot, too,” said Virginia. “Here, Malcolm, there’s room on this side for you.”
Aunt Allison smiled. The storm had blown over, and they were all friends again.
[Illustration: “‘Daphne, what’s dem chillun alluz racin’ down to de spring-house fo’?’”]
The valentine party.
“Now we can tell Ginger about the bear,” was Keith’s first remark, when he awoke early next morning.
“But not until after we have seen the man again,” answered Malcolm. “You know we promised him that.”
“Then let’s go down before breakfast,” exclaimed Keith, springing out of bed and beginning to dress himself. A little while later, the old coloured coachman saw them run past the window, where he was warming himself by the kitchen stove.
“Daphne,” he called out to the cook, who was beating biscuit in the adjoining pantry, “Daphne, what’s dem chillun alluz racin’ down to de spring-house fo’ in de snow? Peah’s lak dee has a heap o’ business down yandah.”
Daphne, who had just been coaxed into filling a basket with a generous supply of cold victuals, pretended not to hear until he repeated his question. Then she stopped pounding long enough to say, sharply, “Whuffo’ you alluz ‘spicion dem boys so evahlastin’ly, Unc’ Henry? Lak enough dee’s settin’ a rabbit trap. Boys has done such things befo’. You’s done it yo’se’f, hasn’t you?”
Daphne had seen them setting rabbit traps there, but she knew well enough that was not what they had gone for now, and that the food they carried was not for the game of Robinson Crusoe, which they had played in the deserted cabin the summer before. Still, she did not care to take Unc’ Henry into her confidence.