Malleville and Phonny arrived at Mary Erskine’s about an hour after Beechnut left them. They met with no special adventures by the way, except that when they reached the great pine-tree, Phonny proposed to climb up, for the purpose of examining a small bunch which he saw upon one of the branches, which he thought was a bird’s nest. It was the same pine-tree that marked the place at which a road branched off into the woods, where Mary Bell had lost her way, several years before. Malleville was very unwilling to have Phonny climb up upon such a high tree, but Phonny himself was very desirous to make the attempt. There was a log fence at the foot of the tree, and the distance was not very great from the uppermost log of the fence, to the lowermost branch of the tree. So Phonny thought that he could get up without any difficulty.
Malleville was afraid to have him try, and she said that if he did, he would be acting just as foolish as the boy that Beechnut had told them about, who nipped his own nose; and that she should not stop to see him do any such foolishness. So she walked along as fast as she could go.
Phonny unfortunately was rendered only the more determined to climb the tree by Malleville’s opposition. He accordingly mounted up to the top of the fence, and thence reaching the lower branches of the tree he succeeded at length, by dint of much scrambling and struggling, in lifting himself up among them. He climbed out to the limb where he had seen the appearances of a bird’s nest, but found to his disappointment that there was no bird’s nest there. The bunch was only a little tuft of twigs growing out together.
Phonny then began to shout out for Malleville to wait for him.
“Mal—le—ville! Mal—le—ville!” said he. “Wait a minute for me. I am coming down.”
He did not like to be left there all alone, in the gloomy and solitary forest. So he made all the haste possible in descending. There are a great many accidents which may befall a boy in coming down a tree. The one which Phonny was fated to incur in this instance, was to catch his trowsers near the knee, in a small sharp twig which projected from a branch, and tear them.
When he reached the ground he looked at the rent in dismay. He was generally nice and particular about his clothes, and he was very unwilling to go to Mary Erskine’s, and let her and Bella see him in such a plight. He was equally unwilling to go home again, and to lose his visit.
“Provoking!” said he. “That comes from Malleville’s hurrying me so. It is all her fault.” Then starting off suddenly, he began to run, shouting out, “Malleville! Malleville!”
At length, when he got pretty near her, he called out for her to stop and see what she had made him do.
“Did I make you do that?” said Malleville, looking at the rent, while Phonny stood with his foot extended, and pointing at it with his finger.