The Story of the Summer Boarder,
Moses, And the
by the Family
I warn you, said Family Story-Teller, looking round upon the family
circle the next evening, that this is a story of mistakes. It will be a
hard story to follow, and unless you pay close attention, you will
forget which is Evelyn and which is the other girl, and why it was that
Mrs. Stimpcett thought her boy Moses had broken his leg. I mean, of
course, Mrs. Stimpcett of the village of Gilead.
Mrs. Stimpcett's summer boarder, Mr. St. Clair, was forgetful. He liked
well to gaze at a brook, a pond, the clouds, the blue sky, the flowery
fields, and often he forgot to stop doing so, and kept on gazing when it
was meal time, or bed-time, or some other time.
Mrs. Stimpcett took also another summer boarder, a rich lady of the name
of Odell. Mrs. Odell was tall, and slim, and pale, and in her cap, just
above her forehead, was set in a row three pink muslin roses. Mrs. Odell
was silly enough to be proud of being rich, and stingy enough to like to
save her own money at other people's expense.
Mrs. Odell had a six-year-old niece named Evelyn, a pale, delicate
little girl, who lived in the city, and this Evelyn was coming to Gilead
to visit her aunt Odell. She was coming in the cars to Mill Village in
care of the conductor, and her aunt Odell was to send a carriage to the
station to fetch her to Gilead. If the carriage was not there when the
cars arrived, she was to stay with the station-man till it should
arrive. I trust my story is plain thus far.
It happened that Mr. Stimpcett was going to Mill Village that same day,
to get some corn ground, and Mrs. Odell, though it would take him very
far out of his way, asked him to go round by the station and get Evelyn.
This would save hiring a carriage.
Now Mr. St. Clair thought it would be a pleasant thing to go to mill,
and asked if he might go in the place of Mr. Stimpcett. Mr. Stimpcett
said, "Oh yes, if you will be sure to bring back the meal." So Mr. St.
Clair went to mill; and Moses Stimpcett, a boy about nine years old,
went with him, for the sake of the ride, and to see his aunt Debby, who
lived not far from the mill.
They set off soon after the hour of noon. Moses wore his Zouave cap, and
his second-best summer clothes, and Mr. St. Clair wore a black alpaca
coat, a blue neck-tie tied in a bow, a broad-brimmed straw hat, a white
vest, and white trousers. Moses drove the horse, and they reached the
mill without accident. While the miller was taking in the corn, Moses
bought a roll of lozenges at a store near by, and as he came out with
them a man passed that way, leading a small but valuable dog. Said this
man to Moses, "I wish you would hold my dog while I step into the mill;"
and Moses took the string.
Mr. St. Clair hitched his horse a little way from the mill, and then
said to Moses, "When the man takes his dog, you can go to your aunt
Debby's. I will call for you there, after I have been to the station and
got the little girl." Mr. St. Clair then walked up the bank of the
stream to see the waters flow.
MOSES LETS THE DOG FALL.
Moses led the dog along to the mill, and leaned against the building
awhile; then sat down on a barrel. Soon the barrel began to move. The
reason of this was that it stood on an elevator. Moses had not noticed
that the barrel stood on an elevator. First he wondered what the matter
was, and second, he thought he would jump; but by that time the barrel
was quite a way off the ground, and, besides, he was troubled by holding
the string of the dog, and the lozenges. The barrel rose higher and
higher, and when the little dog found himself swinging in the air, he
kicked and yelped, and jerked the string so that Moses was obliged to
let it go, and also to drop the lozenges, for he had to grasp the barrel
with both hands. The dog fell, and broke one of his legs. [Please
remember that it was the dog, and not Moses.] Moses and the barrel
were taken in at the third story. A traveller passing through the place
heard of this elevator accident, and told of it that afternoon at a
house in Gilead. But this person understood that it was the boy who
broke his leg—"a Stimpcett boy," he said, in telling the news. Mrs.
Stimpcett heard of it soon after milking-time; but this will be spoken
of farther on in the story.
Mr. St. Clair walked far up the bank of the stream, and when he came
back, the miller told him that his bag of meal had been put into his
cart. He went out, and seeing a cart with a bag of meal lying at the
bottom, he stepped in, and drove around to the station.
Now this cart which Mr. St. Clair took belonged to a man who came from
Cherry Valley. Here, you see, was a mistake. But Mr. St. Clair not only
took the wrong cart, he took the wrong little girl, as will now be told.
He drove in haste to the station, knowing he had staid too long walking
up the bank of the stream. On the platform of the station sat a
roly-poly, chubby-cheeked little girl, with a carpet-bag and a heavy
bundle. He asked her, "Are you waiting for some one to come for you?"
"Yes, sir," she answered. "All right," said Mr. St. Clair; and he helped
her into the cart. I hope you understand that this very fleshy child was
not Evelyn Odell. She was Maggie Brien. Maggie Brien lived with her
grandmother, not far from the station. Her mother did the cooking in a
family two miles away, and she had promised to send that day for Maggie
to come and make her a visit, and Maggie was sitting on the platform
waiting for the man to take her.
Mr. St. Clair took her, and drove from the station, thinking to go to
Aunt Debby's and get Moses, and set off for Gilead; but while he was
gazing up at the sky, the horse—which you will remember was not Mr.
Stimpcett's horse—turned into a road which led to his own master's
house at Cherry Valley. Mr. St. Clair had now the wrong horse and cart,
the wrong meal, the wrong girl, and the wrong road. Presently the horse
trotted up to the door of a farm-house, and stopped. Three heads of
three young maidens popped out of three chamber windows, and a
bare-armed woman, wiping her hands on her apron, rushed to the door.
"Where is my husband?" she cried. "Is he hurt? Is he killed? Tell me the
truth at once!"
"I assure you, madam," answered Mr. St. Clair, mildly, "that I have not
seen your husband."
"Why, then, have you come with his horse and cart?" she asked.
"This horse and cart, madam," said Mr. St. Clair, still mildly, "belongs
to Mr. Stimpcett, of Gilead."
"Do you think I don't know our horse and cart?" cried the woman, in an
angry tone. "Besides, here's my husband's name on the bag—I. Ellison."
"I must have taken the wrong horse and cart," said Mr. St. Clair. "I
will go back at once and find Mr. Ellison."
"The quicker the better," said the woman, as he turned the horse.
Just after Mr. St. Clair had passed from the Cherry Valley road into the
mill road, a man came out of a wood path and sprang at the horse,
crying, "Stop thief!"
"Where is the thief?" asked Mr. St. Clair, looking all around.
"You are the thief!" cried the man. "You have stolen my horse and cart."
Maggie Brien began to cry.
"Are you Mr. I. Ellison?" asked Mr. St. Clair.
"Yes, I am," said the man, angrily.
Mr. St. Clair explained his mistake, and gave up the horse and cart to
Mr. I. Ellison. He then took Maggie's carpet-bag and heavy bundle, and
walked all the way to Aunt Debby's.
By the time they reached Aunt Debby's it was nearly dark, and as for
Moses, he was already travelling home in his father's cart. It happened
in this way. Aunt Debby heard that Mr. St. Clair had been seen driving
off, and knew he must have taken the wrong horse and cart, for Mr.
Stimpcett's was still standing near the mill. Therefore, as Moses had
already waited until after supper, she let him take his father's horse
and cart and drive home behind a man with an ox team who was going by a
roundabout way to Gilead.
Now as soon as Moses had driven off, Aunt Debby locked her doors and
went to an evening meeting, so that when Mr. St. Clair came there on
foot, with Maggy Brien and her bag and bundle, to find Moses, he found
no one. He questioned some boys standing by a fence, and they told him
that Moses had gone home in his father's cart, behind an ox team. Maggy
Brien began to cry again. "Don't cry, dear," said Mr. St. Clair. "I'll
hire a buggy."
He hired from the stable a buggy, a fast horse, and a driver, and away
they started for Gilead, and reached Mr. Stimpcett's house at about half
past eight o'clock in the evening. Moses had not arrived.
Mr. St. Clair found Mrs. Stimpcett, with her bonnet and shawl on,
walking the floor, sobbing and sighing and wringing her hands. Grandma,
also crying, was wrapping a bottle of the Sudden Remedy in a piece of
"Oh, how is Moses?" cried Mrs. Stimpcett. "Will it have to be taken
"Is not Moses here?" asked Mr. St. Clair, in a mild voice.
"Here!" cried Mrs. Stimpcett. "How can he be here, when he has broken
his leg? I am going to him as soon as Mr. Stimpcett can borrow a horse."
Mr. St. Clair thought that Moses must have fallen from the cart on his
way home; but before he had time to speak, Mrs. Odell came in.
"Where is my niece?" she cried. "Where is Evelyn?"
"'HERE SHE IS,' SAID MR. ST. CLAIR."
"Here she is," said Mr. St. Clair, presenting Maggie Brien.
"What do you mean?" shrieked Mrs. Odell. "That my niece? No! no! no! Oh,
Evelyn! Evelyn! Evelyn! Dear child, where are you?"
Maggie Brien began to cry bitterly.
"Alas! what a wretch I am, to have made this mistake!" cried Mr. St.
Clair. "But I'll find your Evelyn. I'll go for a horse. I'll take this
child back. Don't cry, little girl. I won't rest till I find your
Evelyn;" and he rushed from the house, almost knocking down several
children in the passageway—the Stimpcett children; for Obadiah, Debby,
and little Cordelia had been awakened by the noise, and had come down in
But the lost Evelyn was near, and coming nearer every moment. You will
remember that Maggie's mother, Mrs. Brien, was to send for Maggie to
come and visit her. The man whom she sent went back and told her that he
could not find Maggie, and that her grandmother was afraid she had been
stolen from the station. Mrs. Brien hired a horse and wagon, and drove
to the station, and inquired of the station-master. A stable-boy who
stood near told her he saw a little girl who looked like Maggie riding
off in a buggy with a man, and that the man hired the buggy to go to
"The wretch!" cried Mrs. Brien; "to be stealing away my child! I will
keep on to Gilead. I will follow him up."
"I wish you would let this little girl ride with you to Gilead," said
the station-master. "She has been waiting a long time for some one to
call and take her to Mr. Stimpcett's, and Mr. Stimpcett will help you
find your Maggie." He then brought out a slender, flaxen-haired little
girl, and placed her in Mrs. Brien's wagon. This child was Evelyn Odell,
and Mrs. Brien took her to Gilead.
It happened that they reached Mr. Stimpcett's just as Moses was driving
into the yard with his father's horse and cart, and they three, Mrs.
Brien, Moses, and Evelyn, went into the house together.
Scarcely had they entered before Mr. Stimpcett, and then Mr. St. Clair,
arrived in haste, each with a horse and wagon. Mr. Stimpcett rushed in
to get his wife, and Mr. St. Clair to get Maggie. There they found Mrs.
Stimpcett with her arms around Moses, Mrs. Odell with hers around
Evelyn, and Mrs. Brien with hers around Maggie; and there were huggings
and kissings and laughings and cryings, and it was, "Oh, you dear!" and,
"Oh, you darling!" and "Oh, my child!" and, oh other things! Grandma
held the Sudden Remedy bottle, looking at Moses's legs as if not quite
sure yet that they did not need some of it rubbed on, while Obadiah, and
Deborah, and little Cordelia stood staring and sniffling and smiling,
now and then wiping their eyes with their night-gown sleeves.
"Will nobody hug me?" cried Mr. Stimpcett. Upon this little Cordelia
climbed into his arms, and they two hugged each other.
Mr. St. Clair told his part of the story, Moses his part, and Mrs. Brien
"After all," said Mr. Stimpcett, "Mr. St. Clair did not bring back the