“He’s back there—out where his corn is planted!” called Mr. Porter to Hal’s father as Daddy Blake ran around the house. “I saw him from our kitchen window, and I thought I’d tell you.”
“I’m glad you did!” shouted Mr. Blake. Both he and Mr. Porter had to shout to be heard above the noise of the storm; for the thunder was very loud, and the patter of the rain drops, and the rattle of the hail made a very great racket indeed.
When Daddy Blake turned around the corner of the house and started down the main path that led through the vegetable garden, he saw a strange sight. There stood Hal, in the midst of his little corn field, out in the pelting rain and hail, holding the biggest umbrella over as many of the stalks of corn as he could shelter. And Hal himself was dripping wet for the rain blew under the umbrella.
“What are you doing?” cried Mr. Blake.
“Keeping the hail off my corn,” answered Hal. “You said the hail stones would tear the green leaves all to pieces and I don’t want it to. Can’t Mab come out and hold an umbrella, too? You’ve got one, Daddy, so you can help.”
Mr. Blake wanted to laugh but he did not like to hurt Hal’s feelings. Besides he was a little worried lest Hal take cold in the pelting storm. So he said:
“You must come in, Hal. Holding an umbrella over your corn would only save one hill from the hail and saving that one hill would not make up for you getting ill. We shall have to let the storm do its worst, and trust that not all the corn will be spoiled.”
“Is that what the farmers do?” asked Hal, making his way between the rows of corn toward his father.
“Yes. They can’t stop the hail and they can’t cover the corn. Sometimes it doesn’t do a great deal of damage, even though it tears many of the green leaves. This storm is beginning to stop now, so you had better come in.”
“I didn’t want my corn to be spoiled, so I couldn’t win the prize,” spoke Hal, as he went back to the house with his father, walking under the umbrella. “That’s why I came out to keep off the frozen rain. It came down awful hard.”
“Yes, it was a heavy storm for a few minutes,” said Mr. Blake. “But it will soon be over, and the rain will do the gardens good, though the hail may hurt them some.”
By the time Hal and his father reached the porch the hail had stopped and it was only raining. Mrs. Blake, Aunt Lolly and the others were anxiously waiting.
“I thought maybe he had been struck by lightning,” said Mab.
“Pooh! I wasn’t afraid!” boasted Hal.
“I guess you were thinking too much about your corn,” said his father with a laugh. “It was very good of you, but you mustn’t do such a thing again. Now you’ll have to get dry clothes on. But wait until I show you how a hail stone looks inside.”
Daddy Blake ran out into the storm and came back with a handful of the queer, frozen stones. He let Hal and Mab look at them, and then, taking a large one, he held it on top of the warm stove for a second, until the chunk of ice had melted in half.