A peal of thunder roared. “I’ve just thought,” replied Johnnie, keeping his balance by clutching the younger boy as tightly as Chips was clinging to him, “that perhaps it wasn’t right for us to run off the way we did, without getting any advice.”
They strove with the wind only a few seconds more, then, with one accord, struggled to the door where one rang peal after peal at the bell, while the other pounded sturdily.
Johnnie didn’t stop then to wonder how his father could get downstairs to open the door so quickly. Mrs. Ford, too, seemed to have been waiting for the pair of heroes, and she took them straight to Johnnie’s room, where she undressed them in silence and rolled them into bed. They said their prayers and were asleep in two minutes, while the storm howled outside. Then, in some mysterious way, Mrs. Wood came into the room, and the three parents stood watching the unconscious children.
“That’s the last of one trial with those boys, I’m sure,” said Mr. Ford, laughing, and he was right; for it was years before any one heard either Johnnie or Chips mention Robinson Crusoe or his Man Friday.
After that day when, on the lee side of the sand-dune the Evringham family read together the story of Johnnie and Chips, it was some time before the last tale in the story book was called for.
The farmhouse where they boarded stood near a pond formed by the rushing in of the sea during some change in the sands of the beach, so here was still another water playmate for Jewel.
“I do hope,” said Mr. Evringham meditatively, on the first morning that he and Jewel stood together on its green bank, “I do hope that very particular housekeeper, Nature, will let this pond alone until we go!”
Jewel looked up at his serious face with the lines between the eyes. “She wouldn’t touch this great big pond, would she?” she asked.
“Ho! Wouldn’t she? Well, I guess so.”
“But,” suggested Jewel, lifting her shoulders, “she’s too busy in summer in the ravines and everywhere.”
“Oh,” Mr. Evringham nodded his head knowingly. “Nature looks out for everything.”
“Grandpa!” Jewel’s eyes were intent. “Would she ask Summer to touch this great big pond? What would she want to do it for?”
“Oh, more house-cleaning, I suppose.”
The child chuckled as she looked out across the blue waves, rippling in the wind and white-capped here and there, “When you know it’s washed all the time, grandpa,” she responded. “The waves are just scrubbing it now. Can’t you see?”
“Yes,” the broker nodded gravely. “No doubt that is why she has to empty it so seldom. Sometimes she lets it go a very long time; but then the day comes when she begins to think it over, and to calculate how much sediment and one thing and another there is in the bottom of that pond; and at last she says, ‘Come now, out it must go!’”