“Yes,” said Charlie, “I know a lot more than I did.”
“I want you to have a good time in your club, but when it is all play and nothing else, it aint just the thing.”
“Yes, aunty,” said the now matured and venerable Charlie. “And we’re going to have something else.”
“What is it?”
He only winked and looked wise as an owl at midnight.
December was now hurrying away. The winter weeks followed one another rapidly, and at last Charlie heard Mr. Walton say in church something about a Christmas festival.
“Christmas is coming!” was Charlie’s silent response.
What a Christmas it was! Two nights previous to it the club had an entertainment in behalf of missions, as Miss Barry had suggested. Dressed as that benevolent individual, Santa Claus, different members of the club stepped forward and gave an account of Christmas in Germany, Christmas in Russia, Christmas in Italy, and Christmas in Australia. The boys were curious to see how much money they had made.
“Twenty dollars!” declared Sid, who counted the funds.
“There,” said Miss Barry, “the Up-the-Ladder Club will put rounds under the feet of boys in heathen lands, and help them climb up into the light of a Saviour’s presence.”
Snow still kept away, but winter winds had come, and they swept over the bare ground, cutting like knives. About the first of the year the weather softened. The old gray heads, whose possessors occupied that village-throne of wisdom, the jackknife-carved bench by Silas Trefethen’s stove, prophesied “a spell of weather.”
“Storm brewin’! I feel it in my bones,” declared Simes Badger, squinting at the vane on Aunt Stanshy’s barn and then at the gray, scowling clouds above. The wind was from the “nor’-east.” It had a damp, chilly touch, so that the people shrank from it, and were glad to get near their cozy fires. All day threatening clouds rolled in from the sea, as if the storm had planted batteries there and the smoke from the cannonade was thickening. At night Charlie, passing a window in his chamber, heard the rain drumming on the panes. He had gone to his warm nest and been there only two minutes, when he said to himself, as he gaped, “If it would only rain so hard that I wouldn’t have to go to school to-mor—” Here the angel of sleep came along, and, putting his hand on the eyes of a tired boy, closed them and drowned in sweet oblivion all his school anxieties. It rained through the night. It rained all the next day. The tide, too, was unusually high. It rolled over the wharves, swept up the shipyards, and even ventured into the yard back of Silas Trefethen’s store, floating away a hencoop with its squawking tenants.
“It beats all!” said Simes Badger. “The oldest person round here never saw such a tide.”
The Up-the-Ladder Club did the tide the honor of making it a call in a body, and from the rear of Silas Trefethen’s store watched the swollen current beyond the yard.