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The Cost   By: (1867-1911)

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First Page:

THE COST

By

DAVID GRAHAM PHILLIPS

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I A FATHER INVITES DISASTER II OLIVIA TO THE RESCUE III AND SCARBOROUGH IV A DUMONT TRIUMPH V FOUR FRIENDS VI "LIKE HIS FATHER" VII PAULINE AWAKENS VIII THE DECISION IX A THOROUGHBRED RUNS AWAY X MRS. JOHN DUMONT XI YOUNG AMERICA XII AFTER EIGHT YEARS XIII "MY SISTER IN LAW, GLADYS" XIV STRAINING AT THE ANCHORS XV GRADUATED PEARLS XVI CHOICE AMONG EVILS XVII TWO AND THE BARRIER XVIII ON THE FARM XIX PAULINE GOES INTO POLITICS XX A MAN IN HIS MIGHT XXI A COYOTE AT BAY XXII STORMS IN THE WEST XXIII A SEA SURPRISE XXIV DUMONT BETRAYS DUMONT XXV THE FALLEN KING XXVI A DESPERATE RALLY XXVII THE OTHER MAN'S MIGHT XXVIII AFTER THE LONG WINTER

THE COST

I.

A FATHER INVITES DISASTER

Pauline Gardiner joined us on the day that we, the Second Reader class, moved from the basement to the top story of the old Central Public School. Her mother brought her and, leaving, looked round at us, meeting for an instant each pair of curious eyes with friendly appeal.

We knew well the enchanted house where she lived stately, retreated far into large grounds in Jefferson Street; a high brick wall all round, and on top of the wall broken glass set in cement. Behind that impassable barrier which so teased our young audacity were flower beds and "shrub" bushes, whose blossoms were wonderfully sweet if held a while in the closed hand; grape arbors and shade and fruit trees, haunted by bees; winding walks strewn fresh each spring with tan bark that has such a clean, strong odor, especially just after a rain, and that is at once firm and soft beneath the feet. And in the midst stood the only apricot tree in Saint X. As few of us had tasted apricots, and as those few pronounced them better far than oranges or even bananas, that tree was the climax of tantalization.

The place had belonged to a childless old couple who hated children or did they bar them out and drive them away because the sight and sound of them quickened the ache of empty old age into a pain too keen to bear? The husband died, the widow went away to her old maid sister at Madison; and the Gardiners, coming from Cincinnati to live in the town where Colonel Gardiner was born and had spent his youth, bought the place. On our way to and from school in the first weeks of that term, pausing as always to gaze in through the iron gates of the drive, we had each day seen Pauline walking alone among the flowers. And she would stop and smile at us; but she was apparently too shy to come to the gates; and we, with the memory of the cross old couple awing us, dared not attempt to make friends with her.

She was eight years old, tall for her age, slender but strong, naturally graceful. Her hazel eyes were always dancing mischievously. She liked boys' games better than girls'. In her second week she induced several of the more daring girls to go with her to the pond below town and there engage in a raft race with the boys. And when John Dumont, seeing that the girls' raft was about to win, thrust the one he was piloting into it and upset it, she was the only girl who did not scream at the shock of the sudden tumble into the water or rise in tears from the shallow, muddy bottom.

She tried going barefooted; she was always getting bruised or cut in attempts usually successful at boys' recklessness; yet her voice was sweet and her manner toward others, gentle. She hid her face when Miss Stone whipped any one more fearful far than the rise and fall of Miss Stone's ferule was the soaring and sinking of her broad, bristling eyebrows.

From the outset John Dumont took especial delight in teasing her John Dumont, the roughest boy in the school. He was seven years older than she, but was only in the Fourth Reader a laggard in his studies because his mind was incurious about books and the like, was absorbed in games, in playing soldier and robber, in swimming and sledding, in orchard looting and fighting... Continue reading book >>




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