“Who taught you how to run?” he at last broke out. “Wasn’t it me? Didn’t I give you lessons every morning in the old lot? And then didn’t you go and beat me when Len Fogarty, Charlie Anderson, Billy Van Derwater, and all the other fellows were there?”
Cecelia Anne returned his angry gaze with her blue and loyal eyes.
“I didn’t beat you ’t all,” she answered. “I didn’t beat anybody but Len Fogarty.”
Her mentor studied her for a while and then a grin overspread his once more placid features.
“I guess it’ll be all right,” he condescended. “Maybe you didn’t mean it the way it looked. But say, Cecelia Anne, if you’re afraid of fire-crackers what are you going to do about the rockets and the Roman candles? You know sparks fly out of them like rain. And if the smell of old cartridge shells makes you sick, I don’t know just how you’ll get along to-night.”
The victor stopped short under the weight of this overwhelming spoil.
“I forgot all about it,” she whispered. “Oh, Jimmie, I guess I ought to have let Len Fogarty win that race. He could set off rockets and Roman candles and Catherine wheels. I guess it’ll kill me when the sparks and the smoke come out. Maybe I’d better go and see Mr. Anstell and ask to be excused.”
“Aw, I wouldn’t do that,” Jimmie advised her, “you don’t want everyone to know about your nerve. You just tell him your dress is too light and that you want me to attend to the fireworks for you.”
In the transports of gratitude to which this knightly offer reduced her, Cecelia Anne fared on by Jimmie’s side until they reached the house and their enquiring parents. Mrs. Hawtry was on the steps as they came up and she gathered Cecelia Anne into her arms. For a moment no one spoke. Then Jimmie made his declaration.
“Cecelia Anne beat Len Fogarty all to nothing. You ought to have been there to see her.”
“Was there any one else in the race?” queried Mr. Hawtry in what his son considered most questionable taste.
“Oh, yes,” he was constrained to answer. “Charlie Anderson was in it. She beat him, too. And I started with them but I thought it would do those boys more good to be licked by a little girl than to have me ’tend to them myself.” And Jimmie proceeded leisurely into the house.
“But I don’t have to set off the fireworks,” Cecelia Anne explained happily. “Jimmie says I don’t have to if I don’t want to. He’s going to do it for me.”
“Kind brother,” ejaculated Mr. Hawtry. And across the bright gold braids of her little Atalanta, Mrs. Hawtry looked at her husband.
“Did he know?” she questioned, “or did he not? You thought we could be sure if he let her start.”
“Well,” was Mr. Hawtry’s cryptic utterance, “he knows now.”
“And then,” cried Mary breathlessly, “what did they do then?”