LUCY'S STORIES CHAPTER I.
Scanned by Deidre Johnson for her 19th-Century Girls' Series website; please do not use on other sites without permission
WHEN Rollo's cousin Lucy was a very little girl, she slept in a trundle-bed. She awoke one morning, and heard a bird singing out in the yard. The window was open. The tops of the trees were brightened by the rays of the morning sun.
"It is morning," said Lucy to herself, "I truly believe."
Then Lucy tried to think whether she had been asleep or not; but she could not tell. She thought she had not. She remembered that, the day before, she had been to take a walk with Miss Anne, and that they had got caught out in the rain, and had gone under a bridge for shelter until the shower was over.
Just then she heard a little noise like the rustling of the leaves of a book. It seemed to come from the window where Miss Anne used to sit. Lucy could not see, because the great bed was in the way. She thought it was Miss Anne reading.
" Miss Anne," said she.
" Ah, are you awake, Lucy?" said Miss Anne.
" Yes, and I want to get up."
Miss Anne told Lucy that she might get up, and she did.
When she was dressed. Miss Anne asked her how she felt after her adventure the day before.
" Adventure ? " said Lucy.
" Yes," said Miss Anne, " our adventure under the bridge."
" 0, pretty well," said Lucy. " Was that an adventure ? "
" Yes," said Miss Anne; " when we are out walking, or are travelling, and anything remarkable happens to us, we call it an adventure. When I was a child, I had an adventure somewhat similar to that."
"What was it?" said Lucy.
" I don't know that I shall have time to tell you before the bell will ring. However, I will begin.
" I was quite a little girl — "
" Not so big as I?" interrupted Lucy.
" Yes," said Miss Anne, " just about as big is you. My father was going to take a journey, and he said that I might go too. I don't remember much about the first day, though we had a very pleasant ride. The second day we got to the mountains. I liked riding among the mountains, for I could put my head out of the carriage window, and see the precipices towering away above my head."
"Did you travel in a carriage ? " said Lucy.
" Yes," replied Miss Anne, " we were in a carriage. My father and mother sat upon the back seat, and I upon the front. There was a great trunk strapped on behind. I remember, too, that there was a pocket in the inside of the carriage, under the window, where I kept my picture- book. There was another, bigger book there, too.
" We rode along that day in a very wild, solitary place, where there were no houses. There was a foaming river on one side of the road, and rocks and mountains upon. the other. At last we turned away from the river, and went along a road where there was nothing but woods, and rocks, and mountains all around. I remember that I rode almost all the way kneeling up on the cushion of the front seat, looking out.
" I asked my father if he expected to find any tavern on such a road as that, and he said he did not; I then asked him what we were going to do for dinner, and he said I should see.
" By and by, when we were going up a long hill, and had got nearly to the top of it, my father told Jotham that he might begin to look out a place."
" Who was Jotham ? " asked Lucy.
" Why, Jotham was our man. He was driving us," answered Miss Anne.
"After about half an hour, Jotham stopped in the middle of the road, and asked my father if that place would do; and we all looked out of the window to see.
" We found that there was a brook running across the road, under a small bridge; it came tumbling down among rocks and precipices on one side, and, after crossing the road, it went down through a kind of a ravine upon the other. A ravine, you must understand, is a kind of deep, dark, and narrow valley. The ravine, and the sides of the hills all around, were covered with forests. Father looked at the place a minute or two, and then he said that Jotham might drive on until he came to the next stream.
" I asked him why this place would not do; and he said that the trees and bushes were too thick So we went on down a long descent, until, at last, after we had gone about half a mile, Jotham stopped again. My father looked out of the window a minute, and then told Jotham that we would get out. So Jotham opened the carriage door, and we all got out.
" We found that there was a brook here too, but it was running more smoothly. There was a sort of cart path, which turned off from the road, on the lower side, and led into the woods, along the bank of the brook. My father asked Jotham if he thought he could drive in there; and Jotham said he could. Then my father asked him if he thought he could find a place to turn, if he drove in; and Jotham said he could turn anywhere. So we all walked in, and Jotham came in afterwards, driving the carriage.
" Presently we came to a beautiful place. It was a small, smooth piece of ground, about as large as this room, with the cart path upon one side, and a turn of the brook sweeping around it upon the other. The brook was very beautiful. The water flowed along quietly among round stones, which were covered above the water with soft, green moss. The water was pretty deep in some places; but it was very clear, so that I could see the sand and pebbles upon the bottom; and in one place I saw three great fishes; one was as long as my finger.
" We all rambled about a few minutes, while Jotham unharnessed the horses, and gave them some oats."
" 0 Miss Anne! " interrupted Lucy, " I don't believe that this is a true story that you are telling me; for he could not get any oats for his horses in such a place as that."
" Yes, he brought the oats with him in a bag, under his seat. He knew that we were going to dine in camp that day, though I didn't; and so he made preparation. Well, after he had taken care of the horses, he took a hatchet out from under his seat, and began to cut some short poles .to make some seats with."
" I don't see how he could make seats of poles," said Lucy.
" I have forgotten exactly how he did it; but somehow or other he laid them along close together, and kept the ends up by some large stones; and then he put the cushions of the carriage over them, so as to make a very good seat. Then he went and got a great, heavy basket from the front of the carriage. It had our dinner in it.
"So we sat upon our seats and ate our dinner. We had bread and butter, and cheese and cakes, and a little apple-pie. There was a jug of milk, too, for us to drink. We staid there as much as an hour; and I had a fine time, after dinner, playing about on the banks of the brook. My mother rambled around, gathering flowers; and as for my father, he went and got into the carriage, and took a nap."
Lucy thought that a carriage without any horses, was a singular place for a nap; but she did not interrupt Miss Anne to say anything about it.
"After a time," continued Miss Anne, "my father came to the seats again, where my mother and I were arranging our flowers. He told us that Jotham was putting the horses to the carriage, and that it was time for us to get ready to go. So we got into the carriage presently, and Jotham drove us out into the main road, and then we trotted along on our way."
" And was that the adventure which you had?" asked Lucy.
" That was a kind of an adventure," said Miss Anne, " but not the one I meant. The adventure which I meant particularly, is yet to come. It happened that night, about sundown. You understand it was a beautiful summer's day ; and it was so far to the place where we had to stop, that we did not expect to get there until the evening. But about half an hour before sundown, we began to hear some thunder.
" I kneeled up, upon the cushion, and looked out to see if I could see the cloud. There was a great valley spread out before me, and a range of mountains beyond it. Above the mountains the clouds began to be piled up higher and higher. They were white and rounded above, and dark below. Presently I saw a faint flash of lightning. My father asked Jotham how much farther we had got to go, and he said about five miles; and my father told him to drive as fast as he could.
" The cloud rose higher and higher, and began to look very black indeed. The mountains under it, and the great valley, looked dark and gloomy. Presently we went down a hill into a narrow place, with rocks and precipices on each side, where we could not see the clouds any more, but could only hear the thunder now and then. Pretty soon, father put the curtains down, and shut the windows, and then it was quite dark inside the coach, and the flashes of lightning grew brighter.
"Next it began to rain. Some great drops struck upon the window, and a great gust of wind blew furiously over the tops of the trees. The rain came faster and faster, and the water began to pour down in torrents all around us. I kneeled up, and looked out at the front window to see what Jotham was doing. He had an umbrella over his head, and a great shaggy coat on; and just at that instant there came such a bright flash of lightning as to dazzle my eyes so that I could hardly see, and immediately afterwards, a most terrible burst of loud, rattling sound, just over our heads, which frightened me very much; for I thought that we were struck with lightning. But it did not hurt us; for the noise, after it had rattled all over the sky, rolled and rumbled off, away beyond the mountains. But before it was gone, we heard another great crash just before us; and instantly Jotham stopped the horses. My father called out to him to know what was the matter; and he said that a tree had fallen directly across the road.
" My father looked out at the front window, as well as he could, to see the tree; and I tried to look too, but it was so dark that I could not see it very well. Jotham moved his horses on till they came up to it; and my father asked him how large a tree it was. He said it was very large
" ' What shall we do ? ' said my father.
" ' It lies up too high for us to get the carriage over it,' said Jotham.
" ' Could we, both of us, move it with hand- spikes,' said my father, 'so as to get by?'
" ' No, sir,' said Jotham; ' ten men could not move it. I could hack it off in time near the stump with my hatchet; but I think it probable that the quickest way would be for me to go on with one of the horses and get an axe.'
" ' How far is it?' said my father.
" Jotham said that he thought it must be about two miles and a half. My father then asked him if it would not be possible in any way to go out of the road, and get the carriage through the trees, and so get by; but Jotham said it was very steep and rocky on both sides, and he thought it would not he possible to get round.
" So it was finally concluded that he should go for an axe. He accordingly drove the horses up very close to the tree, and fastened one of them to a large branch. Then he took the other out of his harness, and mounted him. He tried to make him jump over the tree; but he would not, it was so high.
" He then drove him out of the road into the bushes, though it was raining and thundering all the time. I looked out at the front windows, and pretty soon I saw him come out of the woods again, beyond the tree, and ride off as fast as he could go. .
" It did not thunder and lighten so much after this, but it continued to rain; and it began to grow pretty dark. My father put his arm out at the front window, and reached one of the lanterns of the carriage, and took it in. He had some matches in a little box, and so he lighted the lantern, and that made it look more bright and cheerful in the carriage; but it began to grow very dark and dismal without. There was nothing, however, that we could do, but to wait patiently until Jotham came back.
" I tried to look at my picture-book a little while; but I found that I did not care much about it, and so I put it back, and my mother gave me a piece of cake to eat. When I had eaten the cake, she advised me to lie down upon the front seat, and see how many I could count between the flashes of lightning and the thunder that came after the flashes. And I did. I lay down and counted a long time."
" How many could you count ? " said Lucy.
"0, I don't remember exactly," said Miss Anne; " sometimes more and sometimes less,—according to the distance."
" The distance," said Lucy, — " what distance?"
" Why, the distance of the thunder from us. The lightning and the thunder are always, in fact, at the same moment of time; and when they are near, they seem so. But when they are at any distance, although the flash and the sound take place together, yet we see the flash at once, while it takes the sound some time to come to us ; and that gives us time to count. And the farther off the thunder is, the longer time we have to count."
" I mean to count," said Lucy, " the next time I hear any thunder."
" I lay still a long time," continued Miss Anne, " counting; at length there seemed to be something strange happening; and the first thing I knew, my father was taking me out of the carriage in his arms. I opened my eyes, and saw that there was a bright moon shining upon a house. There were lights in the windows of the house. There was a strange man, whom I had never seen before. I could not think where I was, and what my father was going to do with me. He carried me into the house, and through a long entry, and into a little back sitting-room. where there was a fire. My mother was there, taking off her bonnet. My father laid me down upon a settee which had a cushion upon it, and then went out again.
" I asked my mother what house that was, and she said that it was the tavern. I asked her how we got over that great tree; and she said that Jotham came back with the axe and cut it off. I told her that I did not hear him, and she said that I had been asleep. ' 0 no,' I said, ' I have not boon asleep, I am sure.' My mother said that then she did not know why I did not hear Jotham; for he came back with an axe, and chopped a long time upon the tree, until he got it off, and that then my father had got out of the carriage, and helped him heave away the log, with handspikes, and so they had got by.
" So I suppose I must have been asleep; but it did not seem to me that I had."
" Is that all the story ? " said Lucy, when she found that Miss Anne paused.
" Yes," said Miss Anne, " that is all."
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