Hi secured the cap, and as he pulled it down about his ears he looked back in the direction from which the gust had blown, and shaking his little fist exclaimed,
“Nasty old wind! I hate ye and ye know it. ’F I’d a been ’lowed ter stay home an’ whittle like I wanted ter, I wouldn’t a lost my cap. I scratched my fingers gittin’ it, an’ that makes me mad.”
Again he shook his little fist at his enemy, the wind, but as it did not cease blowing, he drew on his mittens and sulkily plodded on toward school. His cold fingers smarted where the briers had torn them, and he felt resentful that he should be on his way toward the despised school house, quite forgetting that by the fireside with his beloved whittling he usually managed to cut his fingers.
Whistling lustily, Jack Marvin came down the road, overtaking Hi as he stumbled along, a most disconsolate little figure.
“Hello, Hi,” said Jack. “Why, look here little feller,” as he noticed tears in the bright black eyes.
“’Most frozen, and didn’t want ter come ter school, either? Say, gimme yer hand, mine are warm, an’ you’n me’ll be in school in no time. What’s that? Ain’t done yer sums? Well, now, little chap, you jist come along quick, an’ ‘fore ye know it ye’ll be gittin’ warm in the school room an’ I’ll show ye ’bout yer sums ’fore the bell rings. My, but it takes you’n me ter make good time over the road!”
Jack Marvin never could bear to see a child in tears, and his kind heart was delighted when little Hi skipped along beside him, laughing gaily, in spite of the traces of tears upon his cheeks.
Hi looked up to Jack as one of the best among the “big boys,” and to race along beside him and be assured of help with his lessons, took every care from the little fellow’s mind, and he laughed and whistled in company with Jack.
The boys turned up their collars or ducked their chins beneath the folds of woollen mufflers; and the girls drew their wraps about them and hurried on, eager to reach the schoolhouse and gain shelter from the icy blast.
About the great stove they hovered, scorching their faces, while they endeavored to get thoroughly warmed before the hands of the clock should point to nine. Two girls were missing from the group around the stove. Randy Weston, who had been at school in Boston for three months, and Phoebe Small, whose incessant teasing had at last prevailed, and who had six weeks before experienced the joy of going away to boarding school. It was not that Phoebe did not love her home, or enjoy the friendship of her mates, but she had long entertained the idea that a boarding school was the only school worth attending.
She had wished Randy good luck when she started for Boston, but she could not stifle a feeling of envy, and it seemed impossible for her to stay quietly at home attending the district school.
In vain Mrs. Small insisted that Phoebe would be homesick, that Randy was with friends, while at boarding school all would be strangers. Phoebe invariably answered,