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III DAN AND BETTY ON the last day of the year the young men from Chericoke, as they rode down the turnpike, came upon Betty bringing holly berries from the wood. She was followed by two small negroes laden with branches, and beside her ran her young setters, Peyton and Bill. As Dan came up with her, he checked his horse and swung himself to the ground. "Thank God I've passed the boundary! " he exclaimed over his shoulder to the others. "Ride on, my lads, ride on ! Don't prate of the claims of hospitality to me. My foot is on my neighbours' heath; I'm host to no man." " Come, now, Beau," remonstrated Jack Morson, looking down from his saddle; "I see in Miss Betty's eyes that she wants me to carry that holly - I swear I do." "Then you see more than is written," declared Champe, from the other side, " for it's as plain as day that one eye says Diggs and one Lightfootisn 't it, Betty?" Betty looked up, laughing. "If you are so skilled in foreign tongues, what can I answer?" she asked. "Only that I've been a mile after this holly for the party to-night, and I 122 Dan and Betty 123 wouldn't trust it to all of you together - for worlds." "Oh, go on, go on," said Dan, impatiently, " doesn't that mean that she'll trust it to me alone? Good morning, my boys, God be with you," and he led Prince Rupert aside while the rest rode by. \Vhen they were out of sight he turned to one of the small negroes, his hand on the bridle. "Shall we exchange burdens, 0 eater of 'possums?" he asked blandly. "Will you permit me to tote your load, while you lead my horse to the house ? You aren't afraid of him, are you?" The little negro grinned. "He do look moughty glum, suh," he replied, half fearfully. " Glum! Why, the amiability in that horse's face is enough to draw tears. Come up, Prince Rupert , your highness is to go ahead of me; it's to oblige a lady, you know." Then, as Prince Rupert was led away, Dan looked at Betty. " Shall it be the turnpike or the meadow path?" he inquired, with the gay deference he used toward women, as if a word might turn it to a jest or a look might make it earnest. "The meadow, but not the path," replied the girl; "the path is asleep under the snow." She cast a happy glance over the white landscape, down the long turnpike, and across the broad meadow where a cedar tree waved like a snowy plume. "Jake, we must climb the wall," she added to the negro boy, " be careful about the berries." Dan threw his holly into the meadow and lifted Betty upon the stone wall. "Now wait a moment," The Battle-Ground he cautioned, as he went over. "Don't move till I tell you. I'm managing this job - there, now jump! " He caught her hands and set her on her feet beside him. "Take your fence, my beauties," he called gayly to the dogs, as they came bounding across the turnpike. Betty straightened her cap and took up her berries. " Your tender mercies are rather cruel," she com~ plained, as she did so. "Even my hair is undone ." "Oh, it's all the better," returned Dan, without looking at her. "I don't see why girls make themselves so smooth, anyway. That's what I like about you, you know - you've always got a screw loose somewhere." "But I haven't," cried Betty, stopping in the snow. " What! if I find a curl where it oughtn't to be, may I have it? " " Of course not," she answered indignantly. " Well, there's one hanging over your ear now. Shall I put it straight with this piece of holly? My hands are full, but I think I might manage it." "Don't touch me with your holly!" exclaimed Betty, walking faster; then in a moment she turned and stood calling to the dogs. "Have you noticed what beauties Bill and Peyton have grown to be?" she questioned pleasantly. "There weren't any boys to be named after papa and Uncle Bill, so I called the dogs after them, you know. Papa says he would rather have had a son named Peyton; but I Dan and Betty tell him...


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