The Fourth was drawing to a close. The sun was breaking out through the clouds that had covered the heavens, and so brilliant was the outburst of colors, it seemed as if the folds of an immense star-spangled banner had been suddenly let loose in the western sky. It very soon paled though. The clouds thickened everywhere and the easterly wind that had been blowing all the afternoon, bringing occasional mist, now drove to land a blinding fog. Finally it began to rain, and yet gently, as if reluctant to spoil any festivities of the Fourth. Gathering up all their pyrotechnic resources, it was found that the club boys could muster a few pin-wheels, five Roman candles, and a “flower-pot.” Most of these had been stored in the barn, but were now moved out-doors and taken to the shelter of a stout leafy maple by the side of the lane.
“The rain wont trouble us here,” said the president. “Where is Charlie?”
“He has gone to get his fire-works,” replied Billy Grimes. “He left them in the house and it is locked, for his Aunt Stanshy has gone out, and he’s waiting for her, I guess.”
“We had better begin, fellers, and he will come soon. The rain is coming,” said Sid, warned by a big drop that glancing through the branches smote him on the nose. Pin-wheels, candles, and the other attraction were pronounced a success, though their discharge was hastened on account of the thickening rain.
The boys separated, tired and sleepy, sorry to part with the Fourth, and yet secretly glad that there was such a thing as “bed.”
“Whar’s Charlie,” asked Juggie, as the boys separated. No one knew. “Good-bye, Charlie!” shouted one after the other, and all hastened to their homes.
Charlie was where he had been the last twenty minutes, occupying a seat out in the porch at the back door and waiting for Aunt Stanshy. He had fallen asleep, so thoroughly tired was this patriotic young American, and the day for him was ending as it began—in a chair. Aunt Stanshy came at last, feeling her way through the shadows in the porch and striving to reach the back door, whose key she carried.
“What’s this?” she said, running against the sleeper. “If it isn’t that boy! And here the rain has been working round into the porch and it is coming on him! If you don’t take cold, Charles Pitt Macomber, then I am mistaken! Wake up, wake up!”
A SICK PATRIOT.
The next morning, Aunt Stanshy was stirring at the usual hour, and her usual hour in summer was five. She did not generally expect to see Charlie down stairs until half past six. This morning, Aunt Stanshy; looked up at the clock on the high mantel-piece and saw that it was seven, then half after seven, then eight, and half after eight; but all this time there was neither sound nor sight of Charlie.
“Massy, where is that boy? I thought I would let him sleep, he was so tired, but he ought to be around now,” reflected Aunt Stanshy.