Under the Lilacs
A Heavy Trouble
"Thank you, ma'am, that's a tip-top book, 'specially the pictures. But I can't bear to see
these poor fellows;" and Ben brooded over the fine etching of the dead and dying horses
on a battle-field, one past all further pain, the other helpless, but lifting his head from his
dead master to neigh a farewell to the comrades who go galloping away in a cloud of
"They ought to stop for him, some of 'em," muttered Ben, hastily turning back to the
cheerful picture of the three happy horses in the field, standing knee-deep among the
grass as they prepare to drink at the wide stream.
"Ain't that black one a beauty? Seems as if I could see his mane blow in the wind, and
hear him whinny to that small feller trotting down to see if he can't get over and be
sociable. How I'd like to take a rousin' run round that meadow on the whole lot of 'em!"
and Ben swayed about in his chair as if he was already doing it in imagination.
"You may take a turn round my field on Lita any day. She would like it, and Thorny's
saddle will be here next week," said Miss Celia, pleased to see that the boy appreciated
the fine pictures, and felt such hearty sympathy with the noble animals whom she dearly
"Needn't wait for that. I'd rather ride bareback. Oh, I say, is this the book you told about,
where the horses talked?" asked Ben, suddenly recollecting the speech he had puzzled
over ever since he heard it.
"No; I brought the book, but in the hurry of my tea-party forgot to unpack it. I'll hunt it up
to-night. Remind me, Thorny."
"There, now, I've forgotten something, too! Squire sent you a letter; and I'm having such
a jolly time, I never thought of it."
Ben rummaged out the note with remorseful haste, protesting that he was in no hurry for
Mr. Gulliver, and very glad to save him for another day. Leaving the young folks busy
with their games, Miss Celia sat in the porch to read her letters, for there were two; and as
she read her face grew so sober, then so sad, that if any one had been looking he would
have wondered what bad news had chased away the sunshine so suddenly. No one did
look; no one saw how pitifully her eyes rested on Ben's happy face when the letters were
put away, and no one minded the new gentleness in her manner as she came back, to the
table. But Ben thought there never was so sweet a lady as the one who leaned over him to
show him how the dissected map went together and never smiled at his mistakes.
So kind, so very kind was she to them all, that when, after an hour of merry play, she
took her brother in to bed, the three who remained fell to praising her enthusiastically as
they put things to rights before taking leave.