“Oh, mamma, we thought you’d forgotten us, and would let us burn to death.”
“Why, you poor little things. Of course, I hadn’t forgotten you. Our house is not on fire. The fire is next door. We’ve been over there helping, and we thought we would not waken you unless there was danger of this house burning. They’re getting the flames under control. Charlie has been working with wet blankets to keep our roof from catching. Now, children, you must go back to bed. Come, I’ll go up with you.”
When the two were again in bed and alone, Beth said;
“Laura, you ought to want to make up for calling me wicked.”
“I guess you aren’t wicked, after all, for God didn’t let us burn. I’m sorry, Beth.”
The children kissed. Then, worn out by the thrilling events of the night, slumber claimed them and held them captive until late next day.
Walking on Stilts
Julia came on the promised morning, and, to the delight of Beth, she brought not only her own stilts, but bore an extra pair as a gift to Beth.
Poor Beth was black and blue all over before she conquered those unruly stilts, but it took more than bruises to dampen her ardor.
Julia was an expert in stilt walking. She could go up and down steps on hers; she could dance with them, and do other feats that appeared marvelous to Beth, and made her ambitious to do likewise.
However, Beth persevered so faithfully that soon she was on the road to being an expert herself. Stilts took up a good share of the morning, and, by lunch time, both children had fine appetites, although Beth was very tired.
Mrs. Davenport suggested that the children play in the house for a change. They soon tired, however, of the indoor sports, and Beth, although she was so lame that she could hardly move, declared that she had never felt better, and away they ran to their stilts again.
Julia had already shown off about all of her stilt accomplishments, so she thought and thought to devise something new whereby to arouse Beth’s admiration afresh.
“Beth, I have it. We’ll walk out in the river on our stilts. I’ve never tried that. It will be great.”
Beth looked somewhat doubtful.
“Weren’t stilts made for land? They’re not boats.”
“Oh, pshaw. If you’re afraid, you can watch me.”
Watch her indeed! Dragons could not have kept Beth from making the attempt if Julia did.
They took their stilts to the river. Beth was in such a hurry to show Julia she was not afraid, that she had great difficulty in starting. Julia mounted, and walked out into the water as proudly as a peacock. Beth followed, but, of necessity, more slowly, and she kept near the wharf. Julia skimmed through the water for a minute or two almost as easily as she went on land. But alas, pride goes before a fall.