Under the Lilacs
Bab and Betty had been playing in the avenue all the afternoon several weeks later, but as
the shadows began to lengthen both agreed to sit upon the gate and rest while waiting for
Ben, who had gone nutting with a party of boys. When they played house Bab was
always the father, and went hunting or fishing with great energy and success, bringing
home all sorts of game, from elephants and crocodiles to humming-birds and minnows.
Betty was the mother, and a most notable little housewife, always mixing up imaginary
delicacies with sand and dirt in old pans and broken china, which she baked in an oven of
her own construction.
Both had worked hard that day, and were glad to retire to their favorite lounging-place,
where Bab was happy trying to walk across the wide top bar without falling off, and
Betty enjoyed slow, luxurious swings while her sister was recovering from her tumbles.
On this occasion, having indulged their respective tastes, they paused for a brief interval
of conversation, sitting side by side on the gate like a pair of plump gray chickens gone to
"Don't you hope Ben will get his bag full? We shall have such fun eating nuts evenings
observed Bab, wrapping her arms in her apron, for it was October now, and the air was
"Yes, and Ma says we may boil some in our little kettles. Ben promised we should have
half," answered Betty, still intent on her cookery.
"I shall save some of mine for Thorny."
"I shall keep lots of mine for Miss Celia."
"Doesn't it seem more than two weeks since she went away?"
"I wonder what she'll bring us."
Before Bab could conjecture, the sound of a step and a familiar whistle made both look
expectantly toward the turn in the road, all ready to cry out in one voice, "How many
have you got?" Neither spoke a word, however, for the figure which presently appeared
was not Ben, but a stranger, -- a man who stopped whistling, and came slowly on dusting
his shoes in the way-side grass, and brushing the sleeves of his shabby velveteen coat as
if anxious to freshen himself up a bit.
"It's a tramp, let's run away," whispered Betty, after a hasty look.
"I ain't afraid," and Bab was about to assume her boldest look when a sneeze spoilt it, and
made her clutch the gate to hold on.