“Harvey, come here quick,” cried Beth; “a crab’s going to bite you in the back.”
Thereupon, he, too, jumped upon the lounge to escape the threatening claws. Immediately, however, he said:
“Oh, pshaw, it’s silly to be afraid of crabs. I’m going to get down again.” Beth, however, caught hold of his hand, saying:
“No, I won’t let you. I wish somebody would come to help us. I’m going to try to make Maggie hear me. Maggie. Maggie.”
Back from the kitchen floated the slow tones of Maggie.
“What am it, honey?”
“Maggie, come here, quick.”
Then they heard the soft tread of her feet crossing the piazza.
“She’s coming, Harvey.”
Maggie poked her head through the door and beheld the children upon the lounge.
“Laws a massy, what am yo’ doin’ thar, honeys?”
Then she saw the crabs on the floor, and she began to laugh.
Now when Maggie laughed it meant more than ordinary merriment. Her eyes rolled and her sides shook.
“Ha, ha, ha. Oh my, oh me. Ha, ha, ha. Well, dis am a sight. I jes’ ’lows I must go to Titus about dis yere. Ha, ha, ha,” and away she went.
“But, Maggie,” cried Beth in protest, “I think you’re real mean. We want you to help us catch them.”
But Maggie paid no attention to the appeal.
The one-clawed crab stopped for a moment in front of the lounge.
“Harvey, he’s making fun of us, too,”
“The impudent thing,” exclaimed Harvey, jumping down.
By a dexterous move, he captured the crab.
“Don’t you come back here with it,” commanded Beth.
There was a space free from crabs between Harvey and the window. He ran to the window and threw the crab out.
January chanced to be working not far away, and Harvey spied him.
“Come in here quick, January,” he cried. “There are a lot of crabs after us.”
January, for a wonder, came running, and his valor for once proved remarkable. He showed no fear of the crabs, and darted around so quickly that he caught every one in the room. The one-legged one that Harvey had thrown out of the window was never found. Perhaps it made its way back to the river, and told of its harrowing experiences on land, and especially how it had lost its claw.
Fritz limped for several days after his experience with the crab and Beth had a terrible nightmare that night in which crabs were giants with claws of iron.
Beth was seated with Fritz and the kittens in a large Mexican hammock on the front porch. She held up a warning finger to her mother who stood in the doorway.
“Mamma, do not frighten birdie away. He is not the least bit afraid of me, and I love to hear him sing.”
Mrs. Davenport was surprised to see a mocking bird perched on the railing directly by the side of Beth. His little head was cocked sidewise, and floods of sweet sounds issued from his throat.