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LOS ANGELES HERALD. VOL. 35.—N0. 72. CROSS PURPOSES ft Gliristmas Experience Id Seven Gnapters. By T. 0. DE LEON, Author of " Creole and Puritan," "Tlu Rock or the Rye," "Four Years in Rebel Capitals," etc. ■JCopyrifrht by the Author. All rißhta roserrecl. CHAPTER L love's young dream. "Bully! You'll rfo then?" interrupted the irrepressible Boomerang. "Come along, old boy! I'vo fixed it at last." Thus cried Lieut. Tom Jones, U. S. A., bounding into my room in bis usual hop- Bkip-and-jump style, and causing there by a deep gash in both the chins reflect ed in the cracked shaving glass of my bachelor lodgings. "I ratherthink yon have," I responded, half savagely, as I mopped my bleeding feature with a piece of blotting paper— "I rather think you have; but what in the world have you fixed, besides my chin?" "Oh, bother your bleeding! Just listen: I've borrowed the major's gray and the surgeon's 'Jalap,' done Uncle Bob out of his double sleigh, and we'll drive over to Shadyuook and spend Christmas. Hurrah!" And Lieut. Tom Jones, U. S. Boomerangs, spun round my room as if he had just been pro moted to the first corps of the "Black Crook." I looked at him until he re gained a pose on the back of my arm chair, with his feet on the cushion. Then I said gravely—the tone was meant to convey the most crushing sarcasm: "Slicer's Jalap and the major's gray?" "Certainly—why not?" "Why not? Because, firstly, the gray never was in traces in his life; secondly, because the sorrel never would go in double harness, you know." "Yes, I know. But, then, they're both old enough to begin; so come, old fellow, pack your traps. 11l give the ponies a whirl down the road to keep 'em quiet and use 'em to the bells. Hurry; I'll be back before you say 'Jack Robinson!' " 7 6tared at my friend to sco if he was really in earnest before I replied: "Tom Jones, do I look like a lunatic? Have you any reason to justify believing me a fit subject for the padded room? My dear boy," I added gently, "my neck is far too valuable to my country to risk break ing it for the sake of breaking old She er's sorrel and 3-our uncle's sleigh." "Why, they're at the door now —just look at 'em," responded the lieutenant, walking to tho window. "They're as quiet as a pair of lambs. The sorrel has only one leg over the pole, and the ser geant and my orderly can hold the gray's head nearly still! Come! throw some things into a valise and bo ready by tho time I get back." I threw myself on the sofa and stretch ed ont my comfortable slippers to the sea coal fire by way of reply. "Can't do it, Tom. I'm too valuable a member of society to think of suicide at present." "Nonsense! We'll have no end of a jolly time ut Belton's—raise the neigh borhood—skate on the pond—make floods of eggnogg—shock the old 'vn — and have a glorious german to wind up." I shook my head. "Can't do it, T. Jones. Even did I want to ruin my life insurance peoplo I've engagements at home I cannot break," and I looked very important as I dwelt on this announcement. "You see, I lead tho choir for their Christmas practice to-night; I've been pledged for a month for my Christmas dinner at the mayor's, and I—ahem—l skate Miss Bet tie on the pond this after" "Oh, what a head I have!" Tom broke in. "Didn't I mention that? Uncle Bob says Bet's to go with us, and she says you must be sure to come. And mind, you are to tell Mm the horses are dog quiet. Bet swears he'd never believo me." Miss Bettie was going! Before that young lieutenant had half finished his sentence I was at the win dow gazing at those horses with an in terest no quadrupeds ever possessed for me before. The sorrel had fallen in his effort to get his leg back over the pole, the grizzly old ser geant was sitting composedly on his head, blowing huge clouds from his pipe, while the orderly unbuckled the traces. The gray amused himself meanwhile by snapping viciously at the boy who held him, and witli every snap he made a vain lunge with his heels at the orderly's fatigue cap, the latter dodg ing beautifully as ever did a practiced eparrer before a big bruiser. The view was not encouraging. They certainly were hardly the pair to risk a young lady's—or my own—neck with, even though Fora was famous throughout his corps as a perfect Rarey. ; 'By Georgef I half soliloquized, "1 don't think she'd be safe behind those devils." ; "Bosh! With me driving? Only the bells tease them a little for the moment. One turn down the road and I'll bring ihom back like a pair of sheep." THURSDAY MORNING, DECEMBER 25, 1890—TWELVE PAGES. "But I hardly think" "And I certainly know. Come! Bet's crazy to go, and says she depends on you to persuade Uncle Bob the horses are quiet." "Miss Bettiedoes?" I hesitated. There was a lump in my throat and a singing in my ears; I was dcucedly afraid of the mad beasts myself, but then she wantec to go, so I added: "Well, perhaps after all they may bo n little quieter soon. And, Tom, you do—ah—really think them safe?" "Certainly I do, and Bet does, too. She., not a bit afraid." That decided me. "Tom Jones"—l spoke with deep solem nity. I knew that moment what the}' l'elt who Saw tho trj.rnbril ready to bear them to the hungry knife of tho first revolution—"Tom Jones, I will go, of course. But, Tom, pray do not use that horrid abbreviation of your cousin's name. There are some subjects too sacred for the profanation of slangy con densation, and yourcousin's name is" "Bully! You'll go then?" interrupted the irrepressible Boomerang. "TO wheel 'em round the block and bring 'em in cool, you—Bet." He bounded down the stairs, sprang into the sleigh, seized the reins, and, as the men jumped from tho horses' heads, was off with a flurry of snow and a hurrah from tho crowd. I am not a dab at the classics, so I will not say how, having plunged like Cur tius into this gapipg sleigh ride, I now sat like Mariua, amid the ruins of my wardrobe. But I did tumblo all its con tents into the middle of tho floor and then sat among them, hopeless of cram ming into my 6mall valiso half enough for this all important Xmas visit! But she wanted to go! I was to risk my neck for her sake —by her side. Delicious thought! so just as the bells again jingled at the door I jumped upon my distended portmanteau, sprung the lock, and answered Tom with a yell as wild as his own. Now, perhaps I should explain that Tom Jones and I had always been claims. Residents of the same village and chil dren of intimate friends, we had thumbed the same algebra, robbed the same or chards and been flogged by the same pedagogue. In fact, we had never been two weeks apart until his appointment to West Point, fivo years before, had separated us. Tom's persevering industry in running bounds to "Cozzens," and his assiduous course of "Benny Havens," had scarcely been thoroughly rewarded, for his graduation—third in his class count ing from the bottom —made him a brevet second lientenant in tho United States Boomerangs. It had found me a dignified but patient lawyer in the incipient me tropolis of Piketon. Happy chance had thrown Tom at the arsenal near by, and had introduced his chosen friend to the family circle of his Uncle Blythe. There I soon became ami de maison. Mayor Blythe—he was the revered chief magistrate of Piketon—was a brother lawyer, and a man of high social and literary renown. Ho had a capitally chosen library, a warm heart, a cele brated cook and a rare assortment of such wines! And then—hem!—like Jeph thah of old, he had "one fair daughter and no more." But such a daughter! Bettie Blythe was just turned of 19, and tho most perfect mold of female form divine. Of medium height, just plump enough for perfection of rounded outline, and with the tiniest models of feet and hands that ever fell to the lot of woman, her face was still her chiefest charm. Not regularly beautiful, with scarce a feature in it that would have been pro nounced fine under critical .analysis, there was yet an indescribable witchery in that face, orin the character reflected by it, that bound me hand and foot from the first week I knew her. Those rich, dark oval lines, with heavy bands of glossy hair, seemed to command, rather than ask, a second look. And who could look twice and forget? There was a merry devil in her eye large, languid and black as sloe—that drew a timid man's heart right up into his throat and kept it kicking there with forty-horse power. And then the face was but an index of the sprightly but sound and well stored mind her father had seduously cultivated during a long widowerhood. And the steady, tender gleam that sometimes replaced the mis chievous twinkle in those eyes could only have been drawn from the well spring of a pure heart. With tho first month of our acquain tance I began to believe I cared for Bet tie Blythe; with the second I believed I loved her, and with the third I knew it for a certainty. On the fourth month I had told her I adored ber wildly; and for three subsequent ones had come, again and again, to the very threshold of a repetition. Gentle and womanly, she had at first told me gravely—the rest of the face demure, while the eyes danced a very witches' dance to the tune of sup pressed merriment—that, though wo were very excellent friends, we were still almost strangers. I could only acknowl edge the truth of what she said, so 1 prayed for forgiveness and for hope. She gave the pardon, the pardon gave the hope, and I wandered on in a fool's para dise. But though we became better and better friends, though she let me mean der unchecked through the most exten sive fields of rhapsody and lay the tallest flowers of sentiment at her feet, yet tho first outright word I spoke carried up the taper forefinger in arch warning, and the ripe lips formed the one word, "Remem ber!" I could not believe Bettie Blythe was flirting with me. There was something too genuine, too womanly, about her whole being for that. She conld never stoop, I 6aid to myself for comfort, to a little triumph in the misery of the heart she know to be hers in all honesty and ardor. No! Either she was trying to make a real "friend" of me, or—delicious idea!—she was be ginning to love me without admitting it to herself. I was willing to take tbe chances of the first so long as I saw a possibility of the second. And besides, either gave me so much of her delightful society. Though no spoken word ever passed be tween us on the subject there was yet that "mute converse of kindred souls," and Tom Jones apparently sympathized with me most completely. Bettie and he were fast friends, and Mayor Blythe per mitted her to go anywhere under protec tion of "Cousin Tom," in whom he placed unbounded confidence. During the burn ing days of that August many a charm ing picn'" had we in the grand old woods about Pike ton; in the mellow evenings of autumn many a never to be forgotten sail on tho little mirror of a lake. And what teas were those on the old veran da, with the soft breeze sighing through the vinos in sympathy with the beatings of my heart, and the light just undecided enough for me to imagine any expres sion in her face that best suited my ar dent longings! Later, when tho early snows began to fall, how merry were those sleigh rides in the mayor's sober family sleigh, drawn by tho sober family horse, Tom always acting Jehu! And when the icier breath of winter blew over the little lake, sheeting it with a surface glassy smooth, I had tenderly strapped tho tiny skate thong round that ravishingly turned ankle—had held the taper fingers in mine as we glided in swift circles over its cold bosom. As I have said, Tom was always with us on these jaunts; but we were a partie car ree and mindful of the philosophy as to what constitutes "company" and what a "crowd." Anna Bolton was ever Tom's compan ion. A quiet, fair haired, sensitive mouse of a blonde, she was tho direct antipode in all things of tier sworn ally, Bettie, under whose fostering protection 6he would nestlo confidingly as though no harm could reach her there. She was solo heiress and sole compan ion at her splendid residence, "Shady nook," of a very deaf but Argus eyed grandaunt. Ununited herself for the full allotment of the human span, the senior Miss Belton had small confidence in tho taste or honor of tho sterner sex. She jealously watched the every move ment of her niece, religiously believing that eaich man who set his eye upon her fragile form used it but ;is a medium through which to cast unholy glances at the estate —some ten miles back of Pike ton —whose exponent she was. But the home of the spinster had no great charms for her heiress unless brightened by tho presence of her stronger friend and ally; so, when Bettie could not be spared from her household gods, it was great comfort to quiet little Anna to sit under these also, and to stay there meekly so long as Bettie could alternately cajole or coerce the deaf spinster into permitting. But that ancient and unwinking Cerbe rus liad carefully reconnoitered the sur roundings of the mayoralty. She had long since concluded that I was the property of tho lady of the house, and Tom, being only a piece of live furni ture, like tho Cat, was not to,be counted. So little Anna's last visit had been al lowed to run into months. She could skate well, for all her fragility, and her taste aud touch in music were both deli cate but decided. So, after all, we made her useful, though I felt compunctious twinges when I reflected how heavy on hand she must be to poor Tom; for, be sides all other reasons, it was an under stood thing among us that Miss Belton was engaged. If not formally contract ed to him she was so far committed to a certain Mr. Goldwin as to make that consummation a mere matter of time. Not a very enticing person was Mr. Goldwin, CO in years and money grub in nature, but—as the senior Miss Bel ton was wont to say grimh-—if not a brilliant man, he was at least a safe one. Twenty thousand a year was his allot ment of this world's goods, and the very soul of the spinster swelled within her when she reflected what that would do for "Shadynook." Yielding in all things, the white mouse appeared to accept her fate in this with perfect composure, but she shrunk with peculiar sensitiveness from any al lusion to it by ono of us. So, of course, none was ever made; but I —and I was sure Tom as well—looked upon her as one of the least interesting of the vic tims to the Moloch of convenance. Hence I fully appreciated the unselfish friendship that caused him to become a martyr to her stupidity, that I might by. left tete-a-tete with his glorious cousin. Ono night when our bachelor pipes—or punch—had been stronger than usual 1 said words to that effect. Tom's rejoin der was characteristic. Ho thrust his tongue into his cheek, shut one eye very slowly, and nicking my glass with his said, "Here's good luck, and bad 'cess to old Gold win!" Verily, wo need never leave our own circle for evidences of the mysteries of Nature's complex mechanism, and what very odd errors we make in our estimate of them sometimes! At "length its heiress had been impera tively called back to "Shadynook." The unmated Argus would have her return for its Xmas dismalness, and when that spinster foot was once put down there it stayed. Exacting tho promise of a speedy visit from Bettie, before Xmas if possible, and indulging in many mys terious whispers and a perfect fusillade of kisses that set me on pins and needles of envy, the white-mousey one wept her self into her sleigh and faded out into tho snowy avenue. Tom and L as members of Bettie's personal staff, had, of course, been in cluded in the invitation to "Shady nook," but no time was decided in our council, and weeks rolled by with no dotinite plans about it. Happy weeks they were to me —full of sunshine, with only Buch flecks of shadow as made me enjoy the more. I basked in the smiles of the only woman I had ever really cared for, and, whether they were ail for me or not, I was inanely happy, For there's nothing half so sweet in life As Love's young dream. CHAPTER H. OVER THE SNOW. Holiday week had set iv heavy and threatening. It had opened with a prom ise of snow, and had closed with its veri fication 60 fast and furious that by Christmas eve the whole country for miles around Piketon was wrapped in one spotless and unbroken mantle. The sleighing was perfect. Never in the memory of that much quoted oldest au thority in Piketon had it been so good. Our metropolis was alive with excite ment—like the classic city of Stoke- Pogis, it was "agitated to its center." Tho sudden furor for sleighing, added to tho inevi cable buzz of holiday prepa ration, drove the usually quiet popula tion into a fever of action. Every avail able sleigh, however old, was rooted from its hiding plate; horses accustomed only to the plow and the market wagon pricked up their ears to the unwonted hi-g' lang! of excited drivers, and even crockery crates and dry goods boxes were put upon extemporized runners. All Piketon, swathed in furs or blank ets, was bundled into something that would slide; the road to the "Bull's Eye"—the sedate drovers' tavern five miles out—was resonant with the merry music of their bells and tho rollicking laughter of their occupants, while its primitive bar room and sanded parlor were alike crowded from nipping morn to frosty eve. And how delicious is a sleigh ride when all surroundings are propitious! Who that has ever wintered in a snow country but has a store of ready recol lections that spring up at the first sound of the bells? Be ho a serious, well round ed bachelor of 50 their lively jar shakes the cumulate dust from still crevices of memory, and long slumbering remin iscences, unrolling themselves like mar mots in the spring, crawl out to bask in the sunlight of that long ago. Perhaps they find the gleam but a deceptive one now, and, after blinking at the present for a while, creep back again and Curl themselves up for a longer nap. Twice I cssai/cd to lonh around at t!u couple behind me. No acrid and hopeless spinster walk- l -ing regretfully on the shadowy 6ide of maidenhood but straightens her back, drops her shoulders and smoothes out her wrinkles as the music of the bells plays variations on a half forgotten theme of cozy sleigh and comfortable wrappers, all winding up with a crash ing crescendo of hot oysters and merry reel. And to those young hearts, suscepti ble to frolic as to sentiment and throb bing for over changing excitement, what a delicious bound it sends! Oh, the bells, sleighing bells. What a world of merriment their melody fore tells. Yes, sleighing is glorious. "Tis the next best thing to flying to sit in the light, strong cutter and glide over the smooth surface without noise or jar, seeming scarce to touch it. Your glossy black, catching the lively inspiration of his bells, shakes his head in huge frolic, stretches out afresh and spurns the snow in lighter wreaths from his ever quick ening heels. Now for a brush! See that yellow jumper just ahead. Hu-y-a-ah! and the reins tighten, the clean head goes straighter out, the snow wreaths fly higher still behind the strong hoofs. Wo are off! We closo the gap—the yellow sleigh gains once more—a length, two! Once more we closo and fly along neck and neck! How the bells peal and shriek! How the horses race now as if for their own honor! How the clear, keen wind wliistles past the fur tipped ears, exhilarating like huge bumpers of champagne, as we fly along side by side for three hundred yards! Just ahead looni3 a huge "pung" loaded down and creeping over the snow. Now is the time; now or never! Straighten back, brace knee! Down comes the lithe lash over the black's flanks, and what a spurt we have! The brown mare strains every muscle; her driver lays flat back on tho ribbons—now ho plies his whip like mad! Ho laps us again; for a hundred yards you could cover them both with a blan ket! Once more we forge a length ahead. Wo near tho pung—we gain a length— two. Hu-ya-a-ah!and the brown is in the air! We feel her hot breath on our necks; we just graze the pung, fear fully close, and wind in just before her! Oh, that was glorious! And if anything can add to the fun it is to have a particular somebody tucked in beside one, with a pair of bright eyes that dance to the merry music of the rich laugh, with a tiny hand that rests, in pretty fright, on the tense arm that guides the black a thought too near the scrapers of the yellow sleigh. And it is a problem of easy solution—given, a neat cutter and a fast horse, to find any unknown quantity of tender femininity alongside. But haven't I forgotten my story? I had just sprung the lock of my valise and wiped from my brow the drops that haste brought there even that bitter day, when Jones' tally-ho rang through the frosty street. Giving a final caress to the moucho on the wounded chin reflect ed by my parting glance at the mirror, 1 rushed down with my baggage. Tom sat with tho reins twisted round his heavy gauntlets, beaming and trium phant, and his mustache one solid cake of ice. The horses stood stock still, covered with rapidly freezing foam, and blowing out volumes of mist that form ed in delicate frostwork around their nostrils. "What did I tell you? Look at the kittens." was the driver's salute; and as if to corroborate it, tho gray mare made a terrific lunge forward, while "Jalap" stood straight up and pawed the air. "So-ho! steady, boys?" and the lieuten ant braced himself hard against the gray, while the flexible wrist brought the long lash over the sorrel's neck. "So, there! steady now. Bundle in quick now, old boy, while they are quiet." In bumped my valise, a signal for the brutes to execute another war dance. PAGES O XO 12. Over the back seat I tumbled, and, as two paira of heels threw a blinding shower of snow and icicles into my eyes aud down my back, I went headforemost into tho folds of the buffalo. Before the conglomerate mass of valise and man was righted, we were off np the road in a full run, the sleigh jump ing along like a football and Tom plying his whip like mad, keeping them at a full run while he yet had them well in hand. "W-what do y-ou me-mean?" I gasped, bumping about the back seat in huge discomfort, aa the biting wind, rushing down my throat with tho force of a norther, nearly strangled me. "Wh-hy don't you st-opp-'m?" "All right, my boy," Tom answered cheerily through his set teeth; and he braced every muscle afresh while the cruel lash descended on the flagging horses. "All right! you know I must bring 'em in quiet for Uncle Bob to see. So, lads, so-o-o! now steady!" One long sway of his broad back brought them down to a canter, then into a swinging trot, and turning into the mayor's lane, we drew up at the door. "There! hold the ribbons! I won't be gone a second. Bet's ready, I know;" and, forcing the reins into my reluctant hands, Tom sprang out and disappeared in the doorway. New, after all my tirade about racing and sleighing and such stuff, one might reasonably suppose me a very Phaeton, or at least a Hiram Woodruff. But I was always strong in theories and —in confidence: that stuff was all talk—pure imagination. Practically, 1 never was the least bit horsey in my tastes, and al ways hated to drive unless I knew my beast to be perfectly harmless. In fact, I ever felt a tingle of brotherly sym pathy for that bard of Cockaigne who sang: There's something In a horse That I can always honor, but never can indorse. Neither was I ambitious of the fate of Phaeton; so, keeping one eye fixed on the gray's ears and the other on the sorrel's heels, I went hand over hand up the taut reins until I felt safe to straddle the front seat, and finally brace myself against the dasher. The gray still kept his head out and bore steadily on the bit, but the sorrel seemed to have had enough go in the late scamper and pulled dead against him. Congratu lating myself that the doctor's horse acted as a counter irritant on the drawing propensities of his mate, I be gan to be less entirely miserable in my new position. I tucked the buffalo care fully round my legs, and by the time Miss Bettie's laugh rang out from the doorway. I actually plucked up spirit to turn one eye upon her. But the other was fixed on the gray's ears like the optic of the ancient mariner, even while 1 nodded with a dismal affectation of jol lity. And Mayor Blythe was saying: "And you're quite sure they are safe, are you?" "Gentle as lambs, sir, as far as I know," Tom answered, simply. "But ask the man that handles 'em. He drove them from the stable." Had that young officer been studying the "Beady Liar, or Perjurer's Companion"? "Why, you can see they are, papa, dear. I could drive them myself, couldn't I?" and Miss Bettie's eyes were turned on me. When Tom had spoken, my inmost soul was torn with a burning desire to do my dnty, to throw myself upon the mayor's breast and pour out my passion ate belief that it was felony, wilful mur der, suicide, to go! Now, had the reply jeopardized my immortal part for all eternity. I could not have answered that gurgling voice, thrilling through me like rich Burgundy, otherwise than by saying: "Gentle as kittens, Miss Bettie; hardly fresh even, Mr. Blythe." And I chuckled with rueful hilarity. Then that infernal gray, as if in judgment, nearly took my shoulder out of the socket. "I knew they were, papa, dear. He would never risk mo with them else; and, you see, he is driving." I was drunken, besotted, wild with the haschish of that emphasized pronoun. Those wondrous eyes shot me a glance of thanks; the tiny hands clapped in glee, and closing on each side the gray whiskers, drew the old man's face down to the ripe lips. A clicking kiss, seemingly all around me In tho sharp air, drove me perfectly drunk with envy. I was wild enough to seize the whip Tom had thrown care lessly on the back seat; but even in the madness of that supremo moment I had method enough left to keep it far back out of the gray's sight. "How impatient ho looks, tucked up in his driver's perch!" Tom said, airily, to his uncle. "If the horses were only half as much so we might have a lively ride." I saw, out of the far corner of mine, Mr. Blythe's eyes travel rather hesitat ingly over the tense muscles of the gray. Oh how my soul went out in wild yearn ing that he might insist on that beast being exchanged for his own easy going horse! Bur. just then the perverse brutu of a sorrel stood stock still and hid the off horse from his scrutiny. My hope went from out of me, and the blackness of despair settled down over me and that demon team. "Well, well; you must be oareful of your off horse" "Of course lie will, papa. And now, good-by. Tom says we mustn't keep them standing longer in the cold." In thumped Miss Bettio's bonnet box, and both horses answered the shock with a simultaneous thrill; but I braced my back, and, though my legs nearly went through the dasher, managed to keep that accursed gray still enough for Tom's offi cious leavetaking to hide it from his uncle. "Oh yes, Uncle Bob, we'll be very care ful and drive very slowly. Go on, old fellow; don't wait a second for me." And lifting Miss Bettie to her seat, Tom bounded over the scrapers like a cat. "Go on! Why in the devil's name don't you?" he whispered to me, pretending to arrange the robes. Then he called his uncle's attention to the new furs, and dug his elbow into my back. Don't wait a second for me! Ye gods! Did the insane wretch mean FIVE CENTS. me to drive in reality? Was Ito guide that chained thunderbolt and that kick ing demon before me? Yes; Tom Jones evidently meant that. He had gone sud denly mad, beyond a doubt; but I was in for it, and what man dared I must. I took a long breath, let the whip fall well back ont of the gray's sight, and, bracing my every innsole firmly, uttered the mystic monosyllable, "G'lang!" It cut liko a knife through the clear atmosphere, and the keen echo almost divided my tympana. The sorrel heard. He stretched himself, gathered and made a merry plunge forward; but that per verse brute of a gray only stuck his forelegs in the snow and sat down like a dog. Luckily, Miss Bettie managed to hold her father by such a string of prat tle he noticed none of these circus like proceedings. "Mind, papa! don't forgot the flannel for old Mammy Watts; and be sure to send tho pickles to Bowser; and have the presents on the Christmas tree, just as if I was at horne —that's a dear papa. And, oh, be sure that Liza does the tur key to a turn for dinner to-morrow I" "That was to have been your dinner," the old gentleman said, turning to me. "That pleasure I must defer to please this small puss with her whims." The mayor seemed to me a great dis tance off. His words came to me through a sound in my ears like the boom of tho sea, for that cursed gray still 6at like a circus horse, and the sorrel pulled till his nose almost touched the snow. "And, oh, papa!" cried Miss Bettie with a timely little scream of recollection, "now don't forget the rod wrapper for old Patience—that's a dear!" "Give that gray devil the whip," Jones growled to me in a savage whis per, rounded off with something very like an oath. "You'll have all the fat in the fire with such driving." Give him the whip! I thought before Tom Jones of the Boomerangs had gone crazy. Now I knew, like all maniacs, he believed me as stark, staring mad as he was. "And, papa, dear, don't forget the brandy peaches for Dr. Lindsey—your present, remember," ran on that dear voice. Then it punctured through all my fear with the words, "Now do go on, please." Whether the electric spark that thrilled through me at that whisper ran down the reins and magnetized the gray, I never knew. Somehow we were in the road, the dasher full of : iow, and that devil's team going at a wild stroke that sent acute agony to the marrow of my every bone. •'Splendid! Perfect! Bravo!" shout ed Tom from the back seat. "Your start was a picture; and that run into the drift and barking the pear tree don't count, as the bend hid them from Uncle Bob." I thought madly I heard a gurgling sound of female laughter. I was wrong, though, for that second she said to me: "You do drive splendidly, indeed. And how good of you to rest Tom's arms! Poor Tom! why, how the reins have cut your hands!" "My arm is stiff as a poker. Bet. Ah, baby, that's delicious!" Had I been driving the horses of the Sun, with the pit of Acheron gaping be fore me, 1 must have turned at that exclamation. There was misery in my spine and torture in my legs, but I did turn a little. Tom had pulled off his gauntlet, and she—yes, she was chafing his purple, ugly hand between two be witching fur gloves! "See what a good cousin I am!" The black eyes danced before me, and once more the musical laugh trilled out beau tiful and birdlike. With agony in my back and bitterness in my soul I tried to echo it, but the hollow mockery ended in a ghastly groan as the brutea gave an extra plunge that nearly carried me over the dasher. The next twenty minutes were a nightmare. I hold in memory a vague jumble of blinding sunlight on the snow; a whirling rush of trees and houses on the hill sides; a racking and torment in back, knees and arms; a whizzing whoo of wind in my half frozen ears. Twice I essayed to look around at the couplo behind me, but the commandante in "Don Juan" was not more rigid than those strained leathers held me, while the molten fire rushing down my spine re fused to let me bend my neck. I felt my hands must soon come off—my el bows and shoulder blades pull clear from their sockets; but still 1 held on, madly, wildly, in a sort of dread ful trance, for those twenty minutes. Then remembrance vaguely paints a roadsideiinn; a collection of 6leighs and men running into the road and waving their hands ; then a crash, a cutter flying wildly aside and a man in a somersault Last came a grinding jar, and 1 awoke from my nightmare, half lying between Tom and his cousin on the back seat, the horses neck deep in a snow drift and rough coated men running for their heads. "Splendid, by jingo!" yelled Tom to me as, hastily extricating himself from the buffalo, he ran to a man floundering in the road. "You're not hurt, 1 hope? Fm deuced sorry for the foul, but young horses—hard mouths—couldn't help it. Beasts all right, 1 see. Come in and have something to drink." I drew a long, deep, gasping breath. ! tried to spring, but could onlycra<> l over the scraper, and helped Miss Btttie into the road. We were at the "Boll's Eye" tavern, five good miles from Pike ton! "Awkward fellow that," I said very cheerily, all things considered. I hugely elated at being once more ou terra firma, notwithstanding strong pro clivities displayed by my legs for shut ting up like jackknives. And 1 co.dd scarcely resist pulling on the Uttle wl hai d in mine, as though Miss Be were the gray. "Awkward fellow! f ; gular he couldn't take care of his trap when he saw me coming. But soma peo ple never will learn to drive." "Never!" meekly responded the little lady; but the eyes that met mine for a single second literally played in flashes of luminous merriment. What could she mean?