Under the Lilacs
A Circulating Library
After supper that night, Bab and Betty sat in the old porch playing with Josephus and
Belinda, and discussing the events of the day; for the appearance of the strange boy and
his dog had been a most exciting occurrence in their quiet lives. They had seen nothing of
him since morning, as he took his meals at the Squire's, and was at work with Pat in a
distant field when the children passed. Sancho had stuck closely to his master, evidently
rather bewildered by the new order of things, and bound to see that no harm happened to
"I wish they'd come. It's sundown, and I heard the cows mooing, so I know they have
gone home," said Betty, impatiently; for she regarded the new-comer in the light of an
entertaining book, and wished to read on as fast as possible.
"I'm going to learn the signs he makes when he wants Sancho to dance; then we can have
fun with him whenever we like. He's the dearest dog I ever saw!" answered Bab, who
was fonder of animals than her sister.
"Ma said -- Ow, what's that?" cried Betty with a start, as something bumped against the
gate outside; and in a moment Ben's head peeped over the top as he swung himself up to
the iron arch, in the middle of which was the empty lantern frame.
"Please to locate, gentlemen; please to locate. The performance is about to begin with the
great Flyin' Coopid act, in which Master Bloomsbury has appeared before the crowned
heads of Europe. Pronounced by all beholders the most remarkable youthful progidy
agoin'. Hooray! here we are!"
Having rattled off the familiar speech in Mr. Smithers's elegant manner, Ben begin to cut
up such capers that even a party of dignified hens, going down the avenue to bed, paused
to look on with clucks of astonishment, evidently fancying that salt had set him to
fluttering and tumbling as it did them. Never had the old gate beheld such antics, though
it had seen gay doings in its time; for of all the boys who had climbed over it, not one had
ever stood on his head upon each of the big balls which ornamented the posts, hung by
his heels from the arch, gone round and round like a wheel with the bar for an axis,
played a tattoo with his toes while holding on by his chin, walked about the wall on his
hands, or closed the entertainment by festooning himself in an airy posture over the side
of the lantern frame, and kissing his hand to the audience as a well-bred Cupid is
supposed to do on making his bow.
The little girls clapped and stamped enthusiastically, while Sancho, who had been calmly
surveying the show, barked his approval as he leaped up to snap at Ben's feet.
"Come down and tell what you did up at the Squire's. Was he cross? Did you have to
work hard? Do you like it?" asked Bab, when the noise had subsided.