FINDING A GIANT.
" MOTHER, did you mend my mittens ? These are all in holes now " ; and Rob held up his hands.
" I was so busy yesterday, and then going out in the evening "
"' Here they are," said Kathie ; "I did it last night."
" Tall darning " ; and Rob laughed incredulously. " Aunt Ruth showed me."
"Why, mother, look; she did it splendidly,as nice and thick as yours. I hate thin darning; it comes out right away." Rob gave her a boisterous hug and kiss.
" Mamma, have you seen my basket ? I can't find it anywhere " ; and Kathie looked disconsolate.
"Did n't you put it on the shelf? "
" It is n't there," was Kathie's reply.
" Think what you did do with it then. You came directly home from school, did n't you ? "
' Yes, mamma."
" Well, I don't see it anywhere; I hope you have not lost it."
Kathie looked sober. " I believe I did leave it at school, mamma," she said, at length. " I ran out to speak to Mary Cox, and then I forgot all about it."
Kathie's eyes met Aunt Ruth's. "There 's one of the giants," she thought. " There's a battle to fight, just as I did last night, when I went 'back to the baker's. I'll try to remember. That must be my first work."
Mrs. Alston put Kathie's lunch in a napkin. She hurried to school, and was going straight to her desk, when she saw her basket hung on a high nail. That was a sign that it had been left out of place the preceding evening. Miss Moore would mark her now for having been careless.
Kathie took her seat very soberly. There were giants all around, it seemed; for she felt rather cross with Miss Moore when it was plainly her own fault. How -could she forget that she had put it somewhere around, and then not come after it! And she had resolved not to have one bad mark this quarter!
Sophie Dorrance rushed in and deposited her books on her desk.
" 0 Kathie, they 're beginning a snow-house! Come out; it'll be such fun."
" No," said Kathie, quietly; " I cannot just now."
" Why, are you sick ? "
" Why, then, are you angry with any one ? "
" I was very careless ; so I 'm going to sit here for a punishment, to make me remember another time."
" Who told you to ? "
" No one; I am doing it myself. I forget so easily that I must do something to cure myself."
" What an odd girl you are! What did you forget ?"
" My basket, yesterday ; and I left it out of place."
" 0, I would n't mind," said Sophie. " Come."
But Kathie would not yield. She was sorely tempted to when she heard the ringing laughs outside. Never were ten minutes so long. Then Miss Moore entered and spoke very pleasantly.
" How industrious you are, Kathie! " she said, with an approving smile; for Kathie had her book open.
Kathie colored a little. Her honesty and love of truth would not admit of her receiving praise when she had done nothing to merit it
" It was n't that. Miss Moore. I was careless about my basket yesterday, and I thought if I deprived myself of some pleasure I should be more likely to remember it."
Miss Moore sat down beside her. "What made you think of this, Kathie ? "
Kathie colored a little. "I was talking to Aunt Ruth last night about fairies and giants, and she said our faults were like giants, and that we must fight them."
" And so you have begun? "
" I wish I could remember better; I forget so easily."
" There is no way but by taking pains. I think you will succeed." Then she gave her another sweet smile, and rang the bell. .,
At recess she enjoyed the snow-house wonderfully. The boys were making square blocks of snow, pressed together as hard and solid as they could get it. They had quite a number piled up. The girls helped, laughing as merrily as the boys. Recess seemed much shorter than Kathie's moments of penance in the morning.
The snow-house progressed rapidly. All through the noon intermission the children worked, and then remained a little while after school. But presently Kathie said softly to Rob, " I think we ought to go home now. Mamma does n't like to have us stay very long after school."
" Fudge! " exclaimed Rob. " We don't build snowhouses every day. There's nothing to do at home. I shall go right off and play again."
Kathie wished she was a boy. She could think of ever so much work to do, but boys certainly did have more time to play. They could n't sew, nor put the house in order, nor set the table. Suppose she stayed just this afternoon!
" There's another giant," she said to herself. " And the prince who will come out to kill it is Obedience. Yes, I'll go right away."
" Good by, girls," she called out with a cheerful voice; " I must run home."
" 0 Kathie, that 's real mean not to stay and work on the snow-house," exclaimed one of the girls.
" Mamma needs me at home," she began, bravely, [t]hough she longed to stay.
" Nonsense! she can stay just as well as not," Rob exclaimed, a little vexed.
" No, I can't," said Kathie, " but I 'm sorry, and I 'd like to work on the snow-house."
" We won't let her go in it to-morrow then," said the first speaker,for children can sometimes be very ungenerous with one another.
Kathie winked away a tear, but was resolute. Rob told her to go off and not make a fool of herself. So Kathie ran as fast as she could to keep from feeling badly, and perhaps repenting.
"Mamma, is n't there something I could do for you ? " she said as soon as she had entered the room and hung up her bonnet and shawl.
" I 'm glad you came home so soon. Where are the boys ? "
Kathie explained that they were staying to work on the snow-house. Then her mother gave her some hemming to do, and Kathie found her thimble and sewed for nearly an hour.
" I wish the boys would come home," Mrs. Alston said at length. "Freddy will be half frozen. Rob ought to know better. And there's kindling-wood to split to-night. I 'm glad you have some consideration, Kathie."
The little girl glanced up and met her mother's fond smile. That was reward enough. She was quite satisfied now that she had missed the play, since she had been useful.
Rob did n't seem to feel very good-natured when he came home, and Freddy was so tired that he fell asleep in his chair before he could pull off his wet boots. His mother roused him, and he began to cry.
" I 'm so hungry," he sobbed out at length, his eyes still half closed.
" Freddy," his mother said, " if yon stay so late at school another night I shall have to punish you. I have told you a good many times that you must come home earlier, and I shall not speak of it again. Why did n't you come with Kathie ? "
"Mamma, I don't think I asked him," Kathie rejoined, quickly. " It is one of the things I forgot again, but I am trying hard to remember."
Her mother kissed her and smiled by way of encouragement, then told her to give Freddy a bowl of bread and milk and put him to bed.
He considered this very hard at first, but Kathie fed him in such a merry fashion that he soon became quite good-natured.
"Tell me another story," he begged, after she had tucked him snugly in bed.
" I can't to-night, Freddy. I must go and set the supper-table."
" Just a teeny little one, so long," measuring a little space with his fat hands.
" No, dear, I have not time; so good night."
" You 're a cross old thing! You never will do anything nice for me! " he returned, crossly.
Kathie thought this very unkind when she had been trying so hard to be patient, then she remembered that Freddy was only a. little boy, and very sleepy at that. Sometimes she had fancied mamma and Aunt Ruth cross when they refused her anything, and like a flash she understood how that occasionally compliance might be quite impossible and yet not unkind. It was strange how, when one began to think, one could see so much. So she made no reply, but, smiling softly to herself, shut the door. After the dishes were washed she glanced up with a bright face. " Is there anything else that I can do, mamma ? "
" The beans are to be picked over and put in water to soak for to-morrow."
" Baked beans ! Won't that be gay and festive ! " exclaimed Rob, who was trying to cut a ball-cover from the red lining of an old boot-leg.
Kathie always thought this very "poky" work, but somehow to-night it went very well. Then she looked over the dried cherries, and finally mixed the cakes for breakfast.
Rob, worn out with his arduous labors, dropped asleep upon the lounge, and Kathie quietly picked up his numerous " traps," for he had a boy's fashion of leaving everything around.
" You have been a kind, helpful little girl," Mrs. Alston said with her good-night kiss. " I am very thankful, for I was not feeling very well."
" Mamma," said Kathie, "' must you always work so hard, you and Aunt Ruth ? "
" We are poor, Kathie, and so we cannot afford to indulge in idleness, however pleasant it might be sometimes. But when my children are grown up and can work for me, I hope life will be a little easier."
Kathie sighed. If fairy godmothers only would come at one's wish! Well, she must be a fairy herself.
When Kathie went to school the next morning she was surprised to find a, palace sparkling in the sun. It had a grand turret at one corner which the boys had deluged with water, and from every projection hung icicles that glittered. like diamonds. How very beautiful it was ! Kathie stood in astonishment for a moment, then she entered the arched doorway. There was a table in the centre, and square masses of snow around the sides to represent chairs.
" Is n't it a beauty ? " asked Bob, exultantly. " We worked like Trojans last night, I tell you. That 's the handsomest snow-house that was ever made in this town, I know."
Rob did not remember the many hundred, schoolboys there had been before his time, and the snowhouses they had all made.
There were a few finishing touches to be added at recess, and then the children decided to eat their dinner in it. This arrangement was hailed with a shout of delight, and they settled themselves at once.
" Kathie Alston can't," said Lottie Thorne. " She ran off home, and would n't help work."
Several of the children turned towards Kathie, whose face reddened at this sudden onslaught. For a moment she stood quite still; then she walked away a few steps without a word.
" That 's mean of you, Lottie," exclaimed one of the larger boys. " Kathie did work awhile."
" I knew mother needed me," Kathie replied at length in a subdued voice. " It was right to go home."
More than one felt the force of Kathie's remark.
" Well, she can have all the fun, then, without doing the work," said Lottie, rather sulkily. " I don't think I'll help build another snow-house and have my hands half frozen."
At this instant the bell rang, which brought the dissension to an end.
" Kathie," Rob began, giving his elbow a thrust in her side to enforce his words, " I think you were a little fool ! I would n't have let Lottie Thorne talk to me in that way; and you stood and never said a word. What made you ? "
" I was killing a giant," said Kathie, soberly.
" A giant! " Rob opened his mouth as well as his eyes.
" Yes. I felt real angry at first, because I did n't go from laziness. I 'd like to have stayed, but I was glad to think of mamma in time. Aunt Ruth told me that our bad tempers were like giants, and that Jack in the fairy-book was n't the only one who set out to kill them. I want to remember, and I don't want to get angry. That's two."
" Humph ! " said Rob, rather disdainfully.
The children took their seats and went to work. The last hour was devoted to arithmetic. Kathie ciphered away industriously. One after another the children read their answers.
Miss Moore called the names of those who were wrong. They would have to stay in and do their sums over. Lottie Thorne's was amongst them.
Kathie passed her in going out and felt real sorry as she caught a glimpse of the disappointed face. She paused half a moment beside her.
Lottie was rather selfish, and. was glad to have any one assist her. Kathie did occasionally, but she felt quite awkward about it now. She summoned courage presently, and said, " Can't you find your mistake, Lottie? These long-division sums are real bothering."
" It's too bad! I 've been all over it once. Bear! when any one is in a hurry " And Lottie's blue eyes seemed to indicate a shower.
" Let's look again," said the cheery voice. " Why, here, in the very beginning, you didn't carry, you see."
" And it's all to do over, this great long sum! "
Lottie's tone was despairing, and she surveyed it in utter dismay.
"That won't get it done," said Kathie, with a bright smile; so at it they went in good earnest.
" That's right," exclaimed Miss Moore, glancing it over.
" Kathie, you are the best girl I know"; and Lottie gave her a fond squeeze. "If any one had been as cross to me as I was to you this morning, I would n't have spoken to her. I 'm real sorry."
"Never mind," said Kathie, hunting up her hood. " Only it was hard to go home yesterday, but I knew mamma needed me."
So the two girls went out to the snow-house. " It was better to be pleasant," Kathie thought, and she determined to make war upon her giants whenever they dared to show themselves.
The children had a delightful play, only it was so short.
"If we could all come to-morrow," exclaimed Charlie Darrell. "Wouldn't it be fun to stay the whole afternoon and have a regular good time ? Who'll be here ? "
" I! I!" shouted a chorus of voices, Rob's loudest amongst them.
Kathie was silent; should she promise or not? Saturday was always such a busy time. But how delightful it would be to come!
" You'll be sure to ? " Charlie Darrell said to Kathie, lingering a little behind.
"I can't tell for certain."
" What's the matter ? You would n't ride on my sled the other night, and you don't want to play very much. What makes you so queer ? "
Queer! When she was trying so hard to be good and thoughtful, and from. Charlie Darrell too! Kathie's heart was up in her throat.
" Am I very queer ? " There was the least little tremble in her voice.
" You 've always been so good-natured and full of fun, and now you seem so sober."
" I want to be just as good-natured and pleasanter than ever before."
Charlie looked at her as if he was afraid she had lost her wits, then he said, " Why, Kathie? "
" Because," very slowly and with an effort, " I am trying to be better."
" You always were good enough."
" Not quite "; and Kathie gave a faint smile.
" But do you think it wrong to play ? " and Charlie looked alarmed.
" No, indeed, only mamma wants me a good deal of the time, and I am trying to think of her. It's about all I can do to make her happy."
Charlie was grave enough. " You 're better than the rest of us, Kathie," he said, with much gentleness. " Only I hope you can come to-morrow."
Kathie hoped so too as much as anybody. "I'll try," she answered, cheerily.
Then she hunted up Freddy, who did n't want to go home a bit, and felt sure he was a big boy and could do as he liked.
" Remember what mamma said," Kathie whispered, and he walked reluctantly by her side, casting longing looks backward
" Just wait till I 'm as large as Rob," he said, half crying. " You won't make me mind then."
" 0 Freddy, it is n't for me at all," she said in a low, half-disheartened tone. " And I 'd be happier if you were a grown-up man."
The child's fancy caught at the idea, and he began to make plans for the coming manhood.
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