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Three Young Knights   By: (1862-)

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THREE YOUNG KNIGHTS

By Annie Hamilton Donnell

CHAPTER I.

The last wisp of hay was in the Eddy mows. "Come on!" shouted Jot. "Here she goes hip, hip, hoo ray!"

"Hoor a ay!" echoed Kent. But of course Old Tilly took it calmly. He planted his brown hands pocket deep and his bare, brown legs wide apart, and surveyed the splendid, bursting mows with honest pride.

"Yes, sir, that's the finest lot o' hay in Hexham county; beat it if you can, sir!" he said approvingly. Then, being ready, he caught off his own hat and cheered, too.

"Hold on, you chaps; give the old man a chance to holler with you!" Father Eddy's big, hearty voice cried above the din, and there was the flaring, sun browned "wide awake" swinging with the other hats.

"Hooray for the best hay in town! Hooray for the smartest team o' boys! Hooray for lib er tee!"

"Hooray! Hooray!"

They were all of them out of breath and red in the face, but how they cheered! Liberty that was something to cheer for! After planting time and haying, hurrah for liberty!

The din softened gradually. With a sweep of his arm, father gathered all the boys in a laughing heap before him.

"Well," he said, "what next? Who's going to celebrate? I'm done with you for a fortnight. I'm going to hire Esau Whalley to milk and do the chores, and send you small chaps about your business. You've earned your holiday. And I don't know but it's as good a time as any to settle up. Pay day's as good one day as another."

He drew out a little tight roll of bills and sorted out three five dollar notes gravely. The boys' eyes began to shine. Father 'most always paid them, after haying, but five dollars apiece! Old Tilly pursed his lips and whistled softly. Kent nudged Jot.

[Illustration: He sorted out three five dollar notes gravely.]

"There you are! You needn't mind about giving receipts!" Father Eddy said matter of factly, but his gray eyes were a twinkle under their cliffs of gray brows. He was exulting quietly in the delight he could read in the three round, brown faces. Good boys yes, sir all of them! Wasn't their beat in Hexham county no, sir! Nor yet in Marylebone county or Winnipeg!

"Now, on with you scatter!" he laughed. "Mother and I are going to mill to celebrate! When you've decided what you're going to do, send a committee o' three to let us know. Mind, you can celebrate any way you want to that's sensible."

The boys waited till the tall, stoop shouldered figure had gone back into the dim, hay scented barn, then with one accord the din began again.

"Hoo ray! Hoo ray for father!"

"Father! father! hoo ray!"

"Hoor a ay!"

It died away, began again, then trailed out to a faint wail as the boys scuttled off round the barn to the orchard. Father smiled to himself unsteadily.

"Good boys! good boys! good boys!" he muttered.

"Come on up in the consultery!" cried Kent excitedly.

"Yes, come on, Old Till; that's the place!" Jot echoed.

The "consultery" was a platform up in the great horse chestnut tree. When there was time, it could be reached comfortably by a short ladder, but, in times of hurry, it was the custom to swing up to it by a low hanging bough, with a long running jump as a starter. To day they all swung up.

"Oh, I say, won't there be times!" cried Kent. "Five apiece is fifteen, lumped. You can celebrate like everything with fifteen dollars!"

"Sure but how?" Old Tilly asked in his gentle, moderate way. "We don't want any old, common celebration!"

"You better believe we don't!"

"No, sir, we want to do something new! Camping out's old!"

"Camping's no good! Go on!" Jot said briefly. It was always Old Tilly they looked to for suggestions. If you waited long enough, they were sure to come.

"Well, that's the trouble. I can't 'go on' yet. You don't give a chap time to wink! What we want is to settle right down to it and think out a fine way to celebrate. It's got to take time."

For the space of a minute it was still in the consultery, save for the soft swish of the leaves overhead and roundabout... Continue reading book >>




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