1. Sophie McKenzie: The Monkey and the Captain
2. Francis Metcalfe: Side Show Studies. The Amorous Baboon
3. What Poll Found in the Nut
"Be sure and bring me home a monkey." This was the last thing Esther had said to her papa as she put her arms tightly around his neck and kissed him good-by.
The Monkey and the Captain
Esther's father was the captain of a ship that went on long cruises after whales. On the last voyage the mate of the ship had brought home a monkey. Captain Hathaway had told Esther such delightful stories about this monkey and his funny tricks that Esther could talk or think of nothing else.
Editha Louise, her favorite doll-daughter, was scarcely looked at these days, and her pet cat, Punch, had a hard life because he couldn't play monkey to suit Esther. One night she dreamed that Editha Louise came to her leading by a gold chain Punch, changed into a monkey with a red cap and velvet coat. How happy Esther was! But just as she was going to kiss Editha and take the monkey, she woke up. The moonlight was streaming into the room, and there sat Editha Louise in her chair, stiff as a poker, and Punch was sleeping peacefully at the foot of her bed! Editha Louise never knew how near she came to a severe spanking, and Punch could not make out with all his little pussy wits why be was so suddenly pushed on the floor. He hadn't done anything!
Well, Papa had promised her that when he came home again he would bring her the jolliest monkey he could find. Every letter Mamma wrote to him had in it a hand printed one from Esther saying:Dear Papa: I love you very much. Come home soon. Do not forget my monkey.Before leaving the last port on his homeward voyage Captain Hathaway bought a lively little monkey. He gave a grinning black native five yards of green and yellow calico, two spools of coarse thread, a paper of bigeyed needles and a sharp knife for it. The native said:
Your own little girl, ESTHER.
"Pedro like little womans very much. Him too many funny."
On the ship Pedro could go where he pleased. But he would not come when he was called unless he wished to, and he did a great deal of mischief. He used to climb up the rigging where bunches of bananas hung to ripen, pick them off, take a bite and throw them at the sailors. This was more fun for Pedro than for the jack tars, and it made even them dizzy when they tried to catch him.
One day a loud sneezing was heard, and Pedro was found in the steward's room with a box of pepper and a piece of salt junk. He had seen the men use the pepper and he tried it, but he tried too much of it.
Small articles could not be found and the captain knew Pedro had either hidden them or thrown them overboard. The only thing to do was to tie Pedro. Captain Hathaway put a collar around his neck and fastened him outside the cabin door. Poor Pedro! How sorry and ashamed he felt! If he could have spoken, he would surely have promised to be a good monkey, if they would only let him go.
When he found there was no getting away he amused himself as well as he could. There was a black pig, John, that ran around on the deck. Whenever he came near enough Pedro jumped on his back and rode the length of his rope. John soon learned to keep out of his way.
In a coop just beyond Pedro's reach were some hens. He would chatter and rush toward them to see them fly around and cackle in terror. The hens were moved away and Pedro had not had a chance to ride pigback for a long time. It was a very dull world for a gay monkey. If he could only tease somebody.
The captain's clothes were soaking in a tub. How easy to throw them overboard! No one was looking! Slyly and carefully he picked out a nice shirt, rolled it into a ball, and flung it over the ship's side. But Pedro's master saw him and he shook him hard. The monkey drew down his face like a naughty child and went inside the cabin and cried.
After the captain had been gone awhile Pedro crept out again, and threw a frock over to swim with the shirt. Captain Hathaway was very angry. He was not used to being disobeyed. This time he whipped Pedro, and told him if he threw another thing overboard he would throw him over after it.
Either the monkey did not understand, or else he did not believe the captain would keep his word, anyway within an hour a red handkerchief was riding on the blue waves. Before Pedro knew it his rope was cut and he was struggling in the sea. He tried to swim after the ship which was fast leaving him behind.
The captain saw his frightened little face, and he thought of Esther, how disappointed she would be. He liked Pedro too. He ran to the stern of the ship, caught up a coil of rope and threw it to the monkey with all his might. It just reached him. Pedro grasped it with ten little fingers. Hand over hand he climbed along on the rope while the captain pulled him in. It was a pretty wet, scared-looking monkey that crawled up over the side of the ship. Captain Hathaway was too glad to have him back to scold him. He rubbed him off and put him in a sunny spot to dry. Pedro was not thinking of using the pig for a horse or chasing the hens now!
From that day Pedro always minded the first time be was spoken to.
Esther danced with delight when she saw her father come into the yard with the monkey riding on his shoulder. It was not a dream this time. Pedro was a real monkey and he loved Esther just as the native said he would. But not until she was a young lady and read her father's log-book did she ever know how near she came to losing Pedro.
Side Show Studies. The Amorous Baboon
 Francis Metcalfe. 1905. Side Show Studies. The Amorous Baboon Outing, An Illustrated Monthly Magazine of Recreation, 46(2): 165-169 [Tales of a lovesick circus baboon, and a clever circus chimp.] Oliver Herford, illustr.
Thanks to the busy Press Agent, the fame of Jocko the Jealous, the amorous baboon, had preceded him to America, and when the animals from the Paris Hippodrome had been safely transferred to their dens in the Arena at Dreamland, he was the center of attraction as he limbered up his muscles in the large monkey cage, after the cramped accommodations of the small traveling box. He had gained a reputation as a masher in Paris; but never had the menagerie attendants seen him so madly in love and so insanely jealous as upon his first introduction to American beauty, as exemplified by the fair woman who stood before his cage.
Jocko was not the first male being who had been fascinated by the charms of the Prima Donna during her career; for she had been through the marriage ceremony so often that she could say it backwards, never forgetting to cross her fingers before saying, "Until death do us part." The Proprietor drew the stranger's attention to the group before the cage, a mischievous smile on his face as he looked over the half dozen of callow youths who are always in the train of the Prima Donna.
"Watch out for squalls over there," he said. "Jocko is affectionate now, but there will be something doing in a few minutes." The monkey was using all of the blandishments known to an amorous baboon and although the words of his soft chattering were unintelligible, their import could not be mistaken by a past mistress in the gentle art of love making; but the Prima Donna could not be beguiled into placing herself within reach of the hairy paws. Suddenly his mood changed, for one of her male companions placed his hand on her arm to attract her attention and Jocko, giving a howl of rage, danced madly up and down on all fours, showing a vicious set of fangs as his lips curled back in a hideous snarl. The bars of his cage were strong and so close together that he could not get out to attack his rival; but he gathered up a mass of litter from the floor and showered Prima Donna and callow youth alike. His screams echoed through the Arena and caused even the majestic lions and the haughty tigers to look in the direction of the cage of the despised "Bandar Log," and made the smaller animals uneasy. The woman who was described on the programme as "Miss------, Famous Society Woman," had torn herself away from her arduous social duties with the Four Hundred to exhibit a troupe of leopards to a Coney Island audience, her identity concealed by a small black mask, and her performance in the big cage was interrupted by the noise; so the Proprietor thought it time to interfere.
The Prima Donna laughed good-naturedly as he helped to brush the sawdust and litter from her dress and tactfully drew her away, and Jocko quieted down and implored her to return; but she was accustomed to gentler wooing, and refused to put her dainty gown again in jeopardy.
"Jocko, giving a howl of rage, danced madly up and down"
"Jocko gave quite a performance tonight," said the Proprietor as he joined the Press Agent and the Stranger at the table, after the show. "That baboon is crazy about women; but he hasn't the discrimination of Consul, the most intelligent monkey that ever lived. You may remember that he was never quiet in his cage, but if a specially well-dressed woman stopped in front of it he played entirely to her and when she moved away his eyes followed her as long as she was in sight."
"There will never be another like Consul," said the Press Agent, shaking his head sadly. "He made my job a sinecure, for he was good for a column any day and a full page on Sundays."
"Never until the Missing Link is discovered," replied the Proprietor. "I don't believe a more human monkey will ever be found, and I attribute his wonderful intelligence to the fact that he associated entirely with human beings, almost from the day of his birth. I got him from the captain of a tramp steamer which traded to the West Coast, and I paid a goodish bit of money for him too. I have never dared to tell his early history as it was told to me, for fear I should be laughed at for a liar; but stranger things happen in the animal business than ever get into print, and if I dared risk my reputation by telling the things which actually occur in a menagerie, I should never need a Press Agent; but a plausible lie is accepted where a truth which sounds improbable is turned down."
The Press Agent looked at him reproachfully, but agreed with the proposition.
"Do you know, I have found that to be true, when I have visited the newspaper offices," he said, "I have actually had to embroider some of the accounts of things which have happened here."
"I suspected it, for I didn't recognize some of the stories when I saw them in print," answered the Proprietor, smiling at him approvingly. He consented to tell the history of Consul, the famous chimpanzee, when the Stranger expressed his entire credulity and the Press Agent assumed an encouraging and sympathetic attitude.
"Of course, I have to take the ship captain's word for what happened before I bought him, but from the way the chimp developed and the intelligence he displayed after he came into my possession, I am prepared to believe it. He told me that he got him from the natives at the mouth of a small river on the West Coast, where he anchored his steamer to trade. They came off about the ship in their canoes, but he did not care for the rubber and ivory they had to offer and he was about to hoist anchor when one of them, who was in a small canoe with a woman, motioned to him to stop. The woman was crouched up in the stern, nursing what the captain thought was a baby, but when the man dragged it away from her, in spite of her voluble protest, he saw that it was a small chimpanzee. The man seemed desperately anxious to trade -- and I imagine the captain's trade goods were not the sort to meet the entire approval of the missionaries -- so that a bargain was concluded and the woman's grief allayed by a generous share of the purchase price. As nearly as he could make out, she had found the little thing in the jungle when it was only a few days old and had reared it in place of a baby which had just died. She was a low type of woman, even for an African savage, but the maternal instinct was strong enough to make her grieve for little Consul, as the captain christened him. The monkey grieved over the separation, too, but sailors make much of animals and he soon became reconciled to it.
"Thousands of people saw him after I purchased him, and you can judge of the reputation he attained when I tell you that I was getting fifteen hundred dollars a week for him in Berlin when he died, and he was booked for the entire season at that price. People had seen him eat with a knife and fork, smoke a cigar, use the typewriter and do all of the stunts which simply aped humanity, but you had to live with the little beast to appreciate how intensely human he was. Everybody connected with the show loved him and when I wanted to find anyone of the employees who was off duty, or not in his proper place, I always went first to Consul's cage and I was pretty sure to locate him. That monkey was never still, and the things he would do and the pranks he would play off his own bat were more amusing than any of the things he had been taught.
"When he was in company he was as well mannered as most men but, of course, he had his prejudices and had to be watched. His special aversion was a negro, which is strange when you consider his early associations, and if one came around when he was loose he was apt to attack him. We had to consider that in traveling, for Consul always stopped at the hotels with his trainer and sat about the lobbies, smoking his cigar like any other guest, but if there were negro servants about, we had to be very careful not to let them come near him.
"He had the reasoning power of a child of ten years old, he was patient when any thing was wrong and we had to do disagreeable things to him -- appreciating that it was for his benefit. Only once did we have to use force, when it was necessary to pull a tooth, and I am glad it wasn't oftener; for it took seven men to control him and they thought they had done a day's work when we finished. The last time he went abroad, he was the life of the ship but he pretty nearly killed himself. The doctor prescribed a cough medicine for him and Consul liked it so well that he got up in the night, after his trainer had gone to sleep, opened the valise in which it was kept and emptied the bottle. I guess there must have been laudanum in it, for they had to work over him the rest of the night to save him.
"He smoked his cigar in the lobby like any other guest."
"He would walk the deck with the lady passengers, who made a great deal of him, and when the customary concert was given, nothing would do but that he must perform and then pass the plate for the collection. He was in evening dress and behaved like a perfect gentleman, and the collection was a large one. It was heaped on the plate, and he was just about to present it to the captain when Booker Washington stepped forward to make a contribution. The money for the Seaman's Home went flying to the four corners of the salon and the trainer had a difficult time in persuading Consul to retire without tearing the clothes off of the man whose only offense was his color. That was Consul's last voyage, for he contracted pleurisy and died in Berlin, and I felt worse over his death than I did over the burning of my whole menagerie in Baltimore a few years ago."
" Have you found that early association with human beings makes the other animals easier to train?" asked the Stranger, and the Proprietor shook his head.
"No; I would rather train one taken in the jungle than an animal born in captivity. They do raise the pumas in South America and have them about the houses as we do cats; but I wouldn't trust one of 'em. And as for the bigger cats, the lions and tigers, there is no such thing as taming them. They may be trained to do certain things but they are never trustworthy. We had a queer illustration of that when I was travelling with a caravan circus in France. One of the lionesses had a litter of three cubs, and in the excitement of the moving and strange surroundings, she killed two of them. We took the other one away and the woman who cooked for us volunteered to raise it. She became very much attached to it and developed the theory that she could overcome its savage instincts by diet, and for a time it looked as if she were right. The beast was with her for about two years and grew to a fine animal, but she never let him taste raw food. One day, when he was comfortably lying before the stove, she pushed him with her foot to get him out of the way and he resented it. Whether it was that alone, or whether the odor of meat which she was about to cook appealed to him, I don't know; but all of his savage instincts were aroused and when we secured him we found that he had taken most of her scalp off."
"It's funny, how some people are always looking for a chance to get damages," said the Press Agent, settling himself comfortably in his chair. "We had a case of it when Merritt and I were running a dime museum out West. The freaks all lived together at a large boarding house and one morning, when they reported for duty, the 'Tatooed Lady' was missing. It was before the days when they were so common and we had spent a lot of money to have her decorated and made her our star attraction. Of course, none of the tatooing was visible when she was in street costume, but when she sat on the platform dressed in low neck and short skirts the lecturer had something to talk about, for the menagerie pictured on her was a thing of beauty, and the few choice texts like, 'Be good and you will be happy,' which were scattered in between the animals, were highly moral and elevating, and that was one of the strong points of our show. Merritt used to spread himself when he was telling how she was shipwrecked on a desert island and heldcaptive by the cruel cannibals, whose high priests spared her from the menu to tatoo her with the symbols of their heathenish worship. It gave him a great chance to come in strong on the moral part, when he explained about the texts and told how they were added after the cannibals had been converted to red flannel shirts, silk hats and a vegetable diet, by the missionaries, and I have seen ancient maiden ladies moved to tears by his recital. So when he had to give his lecture without her, he got mixed up and called attention to the marvelous growth of hair on the face of the 'Circassian Beauty,' thinking she was the 'Bearded Lady,' and nearly pulled the ears off of the 'Dog Faced Boy,' trying to explain that he was 'The Man With The Rubber Skin.' Of course, that made trouble among the freaks, who are a mighty touchy lot anyway, and I have noticed that trouble always comes in bunches in the show business, so I wasn't surprised when a husky guy that looked like a farmer, came in with blood in his eye and asked for the manager. I looked around for Merritt, but he had gone around the corner to get something to drown his sorrow, so I slipped a piece of lead pipe under my coat and acknowledged the soft impeachment.
"All of his savage instincts were aroused."
"'Look'ee here, wot kinder a skin game be youse fellers runnin' here?' says the guy, and I took a good grip on the lead pipe and tried to turn away wrath by a soft answer, and quoting from our advertisement that it was a highly moral and intellectual entertainment.
"'Not by a dern sight, it aint,' says he. 'It's a blasted man-trap to ketch the unwary, an' I'll have the law on ye an' make yer pay fer trifling with my young affections.' I have had some pretty tough things said to me in my day, but that was about the worst ever, and pretty nearly took my breath away, but he went right on.
"'I deliver milk to that boardin' house down the street an' I see a likely lookin' gal there lately an' I wanted someone to help milk an' look after the house, so I asks her to marry me. She says she will, so we hitched up an' I never knew she was one o' yer dern freaks until it was too late. She says she's a "Tatooed Lady," an' she's all covered with picters.'
"'Well, what's the matter with 'em?' says I. 'Aren't they good pictures?'
"A 'Tatooed Lady,' and she's all covered with picters."
"'Good enough,' says he, 'for them as likes 'em; but I don't hanker after no decorations o' that kind an', b'gosh, I'll make yer pay fer palmin' off a damaged article on me. She's all over snakes an' other beasts an' it makes me sick ter my stummick every time I thinks of 'em.' I tried to convince him that we were not responsible and that it was his wife's duty to have informed him.
"'That's what I told her, dod gast her! But she says it's my own fault if I didn't know she was a "Tatooed Lady," because I never asked her, an' blamed if she isn't proud o' them picters, too.'"
"How ' did you settle it -- did he get damages?" asked the Stranger.
"Damages!" exclaimed the Press Agent as he wiped the foam from his mustache. "Why, Merritt came in, and when he heard the guy's kick he lit right into him.
"'Blame your skin!' he yelled. 'I've a good mind to have you arrested for stealing the pictures from my art gallery. I have a claim on 'em, for I paid for the liquor to keep a sailor drunk for six weeks while he was doing that job.' The Rube got onto the fact that she was valuable so they adjourned to a saloon to talk it over."
"With what result?" asked the Proprietor as he rose from the table.
"Well, Merritt got her back on the platform, the Rube sold his farm, and within six weeks he was wearing more yellow diamonds and throwing a bigger chest than the husband of a grand opera prima donna."
What Poll Found in the Nut
 Annie B. Morton. 1897. What Poll Found in the Nut. Christian Observer, 85(15): 20-22. [Two families, one with a pet monkey, get back together after a meddlesome gossip draws them apart]
The farms of John Bent and James Boardman joined, which was not very strange, as they had once formed parts of the same tract, and, as Mrs. Bent said, "It is mighty handy, fur me an' Fan, being only sisters, to live so close to each other. It is 'most like being one family."
Two sisters were never more unlike, however, than Rose Bent and Fanny Boardman, Rose, having come into the world two years before her sister, had absorbed the family share of cheerfulness, leaving not a mite of it for Fannie, who, in return, had taken the whole stock of gloom and depression. The branches of their respective olive trees were unequally divided also, for Rose had five living children, and two little graves in the village cemetery, while Fannie had one child and no little graves. She considered it mighty hard that she had only one poor sickly girl; yet, in another mood, she would say, it was "mighty hard on poor Sis' Rose to have so many hearty children to feed and clothe, and then to see two of them taken out of her very arms to the grave-yard."
Rose Bent's view of things was very different. She rejoiced in her five healthy, merry olive branches, and though her loving mother's heart grieved deeply for the two who were carried home so early, yet she knew they were safe in the Good Shepherd's fold waiting for her.
""It's lucky poor Fan has only one child," she would say; "for she's not a bit strong, and so nervous that if she had a houseful of noisy kids, like me, they'd pretty nigh run her crazy. As for dear little Milly, sweet mouse, she feels just like my own children to me, and they are as fond of her, as they are of each other."
The six children were divided into pairs. Between Tom and George Bent and their sister Nan, was one of the little graves, while the other separated her from her younger brothers, Will and Charlie. Milly was six months older than Nan, but her delicate health and extreme shyness made her seem the junior. She was a pretty, blue-eyed, fair-haired little thing, with delicate features, and the softest of voices. She was very gentle and loving, and leaned for strength on her cousin Nan.
I am afraid Nan was rather a hoyden, but no one could help loving her. She made a pretty contrast to Milly, with her richly-colored brunette complexion, dancing brown eyes and dark, curling hair. Her clear, ringing voice and merry laugh seemed always to soften when she spoke to her timid cousin, and she petted and directed her in a way that was amusing, and touching also.
It was when the girls were just in their teens, that the trouble began. Poor Mrs. Boardman had a strong vein of jealousy in her composition, and as she could find no cause for it in bluff, kindly, big-hearted Jim Boardman, she bestowed it all upon poor little Milly. She loved the child dearly, and was very tender and indulgent towards her; but she was not demonstrative, and Milly was like her in that respect.
Now, Mrs. Bent and Nan were full to overflowing of loving caresses, of which they both gave Milly the lion's share. None of them guessed how it hurt Mrs. Boardman to see Milly cuddle down in her aunt's lap, returning her warm kisses, or sit with her arms round Nan's neck, while Nan clasped her slender waist, and cooed softly in her ear pet names and tender nothings.
To do her justice, Fannie Boardman really loved her sister, and struggled against her jealous feelings; but she was a weak woman, and jealousy is one of our very strongest vices. She tried to hide her feelings, but at last a crisis came.
John Bent had a brother in the merchant service, and on one of his visits home, he brought with him a monkey and a parrot. He gave them to the two girls, and generous Nan insisted that Milly should take her choice. Milly was half afraid of the tricky monkey, Jocko, but she was charmed with the bright-hued, parrot, Poll; so she became Poll's mistress, and Jocko was the property of Nan. As each pet followed its mistress, they were both at home in either house, and did no small amount of mischief.
About this time, a cousin came to make the sisters a visit, dividing her time between them. She was a childless widow, who spent her whole time in seeking to hear some new thing, and then telling it. Being spiteful and apt to exaggerate, she made mischief wherever she went. She soon noticed that something was wrong between the two families, and easily won Mrs. Boardman to pour out her jealous complaints. These Cousin Cynthia repeated, with many additions and comments, to Mrs. Bent, whose feelings were so deeply hurt that she made some rather imprudent remarks, which were, of course, carried back to her sister.
The breach grew wider and wider, until Mis. Boardman forbade Milly's going to her aunt's, or playing with her cousins. Poor Milly cried bitterly, and moped about until she was really sick; but her mother would not revoke her decree.
When the quarrel was at this stage, Mrs. Watts, John Bent's only sister, came, with her son and her two daughters, to pay her brother a long visit. Their home was in a large city, and Nan was charmed with her stylish cousins, Lucile and Marcia, who were about her own age, and their handsome brother, Guy, a lad of sixteen. She was so taken up with them that she had no time to grieve very deeply over her separation from poor lonely little Milly. Her seeming indifference increased Milly's unhappiness, and Cousin Cynthia, who was staying at the Boardman's, lost no opportunity of calling her attention to Nan's devotion to her cousins. It was lovely summer weather; the neighborhood was very gay; and the young people at the Bent farm took part in every frolic, while Milly seldom went anywhere.
The poor child was very miserable. The warm weather made her feel weak and languid, and she missed her Aunt Rose, kind Uncle John, and her merry cousins, dreadfully. But, most of all, she missed Nan; and she felt as if her lonely heart would break when she saw her pass, looking so bright, with only a careless nod, or word of greeting, which hardly interrupted the merry laughter and chattering she carried on with her brothers and their city guests.
Now, among Milly's treasures was a very valuable diamond ring. It had belonged to James Boardman's only sister, for whom Milly was named. She died when Milly was five years old, and left the ring to her little namesake. It was a solitaire, and its single diamond was a very fine one. Milly was too young to wear such a beautiful and costly ring, but Nan and herself were often allowed to look at it, and they admired it greatly. In her sorrow and loneliness, an unlucky thought entered Milly's head. She longed to offer Nan some proof of her love so great that it would win back to herself the affection which seemed transferred to the stylish city cousins, and suddenly she thought ot her beautiful diamond ring. It would cost her a pang to give up her treasure, but she weighed it lightly against Nan's love. She determined to give her the ring, but she did not know how to present her gift, for, vexed at some fancied insult, her mother had forbidden her speaking to or visiting Nan. She puzzled over the matter for some days, and finally hit upon a plan suggested by a story she had lately read.
She had a few large English walnuts, and she divided two exactly in half, taking out the meat. In one she placed a tiny china doll, and in tho other the diamond ring. Both were carefully wrapped in thin white paper, on which was written, "A proof of love for my precious darling Nan, from her cousin and friend, Milly. Cherish it for my sake as long as you live." The two halves were then glued together, and tied with a blue silk thread; after which they were placed with ten other walnuts, in a calico bag, which she slipped into her pocket.
Then a new difficulty arose. How was she to convey the bag to Nan without disobeying her mother? She sat on the front steps, under the shade of the vines, trying to solve the problem, when suddenly a soft paw was placed on her shoulder, and, turning, she saw the grinning, weazened face of Jocko, the monkey, on the step above her. She welcomed the little follow, for Nan's sake, and he cuddled down in her lap, eating a nut she cracked for him.
After awhile, her mother and Cousin Cynthia, who had been to the village, entered the gate and came up where Milly was sitting. Things had gone hardly with Mrs. Boardman that morning, and she was feeling hurt and angry. People had begun to talk about the trouble between the Bents and Boardmans, thanks to Cousin Cynthia's tongue, and several persons had alluded to it that morning. Then she met the Bents and their cousins, with a merry party, going to the woods for a picnic, from which Milly had been left out. This hurt Mrs. Boardman, though it was her own fault; for, while she had forbidden Milly to play with her cousins, Mrs. Bent had never said a word against the children's being together. When she saw the monkey in Milly's lap, she exclaimed angrily:
"What in the world are you doing with that little wretch, Millie? I hate the sight of the ugly thing. The parrot is bad enough, but I put up with her because you are so fond of her; but that odious monkey I will not stand. If Nan Bent doesn't keep the little black beast at home, I'll kill it and throw its body over the fence."
"And I, for one, wouldn't blame you a bit, Fanny," cried Cousin Cynthia. "Just look at the horrid creature! It really scares me."
"He never bites, Cousin Cynthia," said Milly, gently. "Jocko is so good tempered."
"Good tempered, indeed," retorted her mother; "he is as tricky as he can be, and a thief, too. I won't have him over here; that's flat."
"Oh, mother!" cried Milly, almost crying; "I am so lonely, and Jocko is company for me. Besides, he comes from Nan and auntie, and I want to see them so much."
She bent her face over Jocko and a hot tear fell on his little black head. The monkey put up his paw and patted her cheek gently. The sight provoked her mother into saying with angry vehemence:
"I won't have that dirty beast pawing your face, Milly. Take him down to the fence and throw him over. Do you hear me?"
"The dogs may hurt him, mother. Mayn't I carry him over to the house and give him to somebody?"
"Carry him over to tho house, indeed! Didn't I tell you not to go there for anything, and not to speak to Nan or the boys? They've all gone to a picnic at Blythe's Cave with those stuck-up, over-dressed Watts children, and a lot of others. I saw them in two big wagons, and there was Nan, with a new hat on, sitting beside the conceited Guy Watts, tossing her curls and laughing as if she was a queen's daughter. Saucy, pert thing! She fairly makes me sick. Come, Cynthia, let's get out of this sun. I guess, Milly, if your aunt and Nan had thought anything of you they'd have asked you to the picnic."
"Auntie did ask me," replied Milly, hardly able to speak for tears. "I met her yesterday, and she told me 'bout the picnic, and asked me to go with them in uncle's wagon."
"And pray what did you say?" asked her mother.
"I told her that I was very sorry, but I could not go. You said I must not speak to Nan or the boys, and I couldn't go and not speak to them. Besides, I knew you wouldn't let me go, anyhow."
"Well, they didn't ask me, or your mother," put in Cousin Cynthia, angrily. "Rose never did have any manners, and now she can't even see anybody else for looking at Clara Watts. I wouldn't be a toady for anything. It's not in my nature. I was always as independent as a wood-sawyer, myself."
A feeling of shame came into Mrs. Boardman's heart, at allowing anyone to speak so of her own sister, so she made no reply, but turning to Milly, repeated her command.
"Take the monkey and throw it over the fence, as I told you, Milly; and do it at once. Get your bonnet, for the sun's awfully hot. When you get back, you can make us all a nice pitcher of lemonade. Make haste, and don't stay out in the sun."
As Milly went upstairs for her bonnet, a sudden thought came into her mind. She would make Jocko the bearer of her peace offering to Nan. Writing Nan's name on a card, she slipped it into the bag, and hurried down the lane to the place in the fence, nearest to the Dents' house. Tying the bag securely to Jocko's neck, she held him until she saw Rachel, Mrs. Dent's hired girl, come to the kitchen door, and nod smilingly towards her. Then she lifted Jocko over the fence, crying:
"Call Jocko, Rachel. Call him to you."
Rachel obeyed, and soon had the little fellow in her arms. Then Milly turned and walked slowly back to the house.
A week passed by, and Milly spent it mostly in bed. She had a low fever, and her mother sent for Dr. Clay. He said the child seemed very weak, ordered a tonic and nourishing food, and advised them to keep her in bed most of the time. Though very patient and gentle, Milly was so nervous and troubled that it was evident something was on her mind. In truth, the ring haunted her waking thoughts and nightly dreams, and she dreaded the moment when her mother should find out that it was gone. The storm broke suddenly at last.
Mrs. Boardman and Cousin Cynthia were sewing in the room where Milly lay on the sofa, and the latter happened to remark:
"Whatever became of Dick Graham, the young sailor who was engaged to Milly Boardman?"
"He's captain of a merchant vessel, and doing well; but he has never married. He thought the world of poor Milly, and often sends presents to my little Milly."
"You don't say so! Maybe he'll leave her all his money. That was a splendid diamond ring he gave Milly when they got engaged. I heard she left it to your Milly."
"Yes, Jim says Milly's so careful I ought to let her have it now, but I won't hear to it. I'll give it to her the day she's sixteen."
"Let me see it; do, Fannie. I just dote on diamonds, but I've never owned one."
"Certainly. I always keep it locked up in a box, and the box in a locked drawer, whose key is in my desk; so it's safe, you see."
She rose, and opening her desk, took out a key, and unlocked the top drawer of her bureau, from which she drew a small wooden box. This she opened, and lifting a layer of pink cotton, uttered a sharp cry.
"Why, the ring isn't here! Milly's diamond ring is gone! Somebody has stolen it!"
"It must be in the cotton!" exclaimed Cousin Cynthia. "No; I see it is not; but maybe you dropped it in the drawer, when you lifted the cotton. It must be there, Fannie."
"It is not, Cynthia," replied Mrs. Boardman, solemnly. "Milly's ring has been stolen, and I mean to find the thief, and get it back, if it takes every dollar I have in the world. Do call Maria, and tell her to blow the horn for Jim. Tell her to blow one long blast, and then two short ones; that means for him to hurry home. Oh, Cynthia, look at Milly! She is dead ! My child is dead!"
She dropped the box into the open drawer, and ran to the sofa, where Milly lay pale and motionless. Cynthia called loudly for Maria, the help, who was soon bending over the child, to whom she was devoted.
"Don't scream so, Mrs. Hobbs," she said, pushing aside Cousin Cynthia, unceremoniously; "and you, Mrs. Boardman, stop crying; Milly has only fainted. Blow the horn for her papa; and the kindest thing you can do, Mrs. Hobbs, is to go for Dr. Clay. I know what to do for her. Land sakes,Mrs. Boardman, you'll smother her, sure enough. Run and blow the horn yourself. There! Thank heaven, I've got 'em both out of my way! Here, Milly. my pet, open your eyes. That's right," as the soft blue eyes unclosed, slowly. "Drink this, and you'll be all right in a minute. The color's creeping back to your cheeks a'ready. No, don't talk; keep still as a mouse, and drop off to sleep."
The tall, hard-featured woman, bent tenderly over the frail little girl, who clung to her, whispering softly in frightened accents:
"Don't leave me, Ri; don't leave me! Hold me tight in your arms. I've done such a dreadful, dreadful thing, I'm 'fraid they'll take me away to jail. Oh, Ri -- dear Ri -- do, do help me! I'm a wicked, wicked thief."
Maria saw plainly that whatever she had done, Milly was in no condition to be argued with now; so she sat down in a large rocking chair, took the child in her lap, and soon rocked her to sleep. When her father and Dr. Clay arrived, she was sleeping quietly, with tears on her cheeks, and a flush also, which betokened rising fever. She was put into her own bed, and the room darkened, and then, for the first time, Mrs. Boardman remembered the missing ring.
At first Mr. Boardman laughed at the idea of the ring having disappeared, and when it was clearly proved not to be in the drawer, he insisted that his wife must have hidden it elsewhere, and forgotten its hiding place. This, however, she denied so positively that he was forced to believe her, and give up that solution of the mystery. Then in his mind arose a suspicion that the ring was in Cousin Cynthia's possession, strengthened by a hint from Maria. She called him aside, and told him what Milly had said to her, adding, that the little girl kept starting and muttering in her sleep, and that she frequently caught the words, "Aunt Milly's diamond ring," and something about a thief.
"It's my belief," she said, "that Mrs. Hobbs has the ring, and that she either made Milly get it for her, or the child saw her take it, and Mrs. Hobbs has made her promise not to tell. You'll find, Mr. Boardman, that the widow's at the bottom of the trouble."
It was not until the next day that Milly was wide awake and free from fever. She asked for her father, and told him she wanted to see him alone. This request made her mother very angry, and she flounced out of tho room, saying:
"I can't, for the life of me, think what you have to tell your father that I must not hear. It's all nonsense."
With her arms round the neck of her kind father, Milly whispered, crying bitterly as she spoke:
"I took the ring, father, and gave it away. I thought it was my very own, and it wouldn't be stealing if I took it. I know it was very wrong of me, but was it stealing, father? Oh, I hope not!"
"Why, no, dearie," answered her astonished father, "of course it wasn't stealing to take your own ring. But, child, how came you to think of giving away such a valuable thing? It was a shame in whoever put you up to such a trick and has the ring now. Was it your Cousin Cynthia?"
"Oh, dear, no. father; what made you think of her? No one put me up to it. I did it all by myself."
"Who have you given it to, pet? Tell me everything that's in your little heart. I'm sure your motive was good, if your act was wrong. Tell father, dearie."
Then Milly poured out the whole story, closing with:
"I wanted to show Nan how dearly I love her, and I had nothing else real valuable to give her. You won't take it from her, father, will you? I'd ever so much rather for her to have it than myself."
I can't promise you, honey. Mother'll have to hear all about it, and decide. Don't worry over it any longer. I'll call mother and tell her. You just keep still."
He called his wife, and she came in followed by Cousin Cynthia. When she heard all she exclaimed.
"Well, this beats me! I might have guessed Nan Bent had the ring. The idea of her daring to take it."
"And Rose ought to be ashamed of herself for letting her keep it. It seems to me down-right dishonest, but I always did have such extreme notions about honesty, you know," put in Mrs. Hobbs.
As no one did know it, this remark was received in silence, and Mrs. Boardman said:
"Well, I'm going to have it back, that's certain. You need not cry so, Milly, for nothing will hinder me; when I say I'm going to do a thing, I mean it."
But in a few hours Milly's fever rose again, and she was out of her head, talking wildly, but always of Nan and the missing ring. Late in the evening Mrs. Boardman went to the gate with Dr. Clay, wishing to see him alone and ask if he considered Milly dangerously ill.
"Not yet," replied the doctor cautiously, "but in cases of fever there's no saying what turn they may take, especially when the brain is affected. She must be kept very quiet and not worried. Her father told me in confidence that there was some trouble about a ring. Don't let her fret over the matter. Things can be set right when she is well again, but worrying over it now may cost her her life. Be very careful. And Mrs. Boardman, pardon me, but perhaps it would he better to let Jim and Maria do most of the nursing. She seems to prefer them, you know when there is any brain trouble patients often turn against their dearest friends. I notice she does not like Mrs. Hobbs. Keep her out of the room. Don't oppose Milly in anything, if you can possibly help it. Good-bye."
He walked quickly away, and Mrs. Boardman stood by the gate trying to calm herself before she returned to the house. It cut her to the heart to see how her child shrank from her, and clung to her father and Maria. Just then the sound of merry voices reached her, and Nan, with Lucile and Marcia Watts, came by. Before the girls could speak, she exclaimed angrily:
"Well, Nan Bent, I should think you'd feel ashamed of yourself. What have you done with the ring Milly gave you? Speak up, and tell the truth, without any dodging."
Now it happened, unfortunately, that two years before Milly had given Nan, as a Christmas present, a simple gold ring, with a single garnet set in a gold heart. Nan thought it was this that her aunt referred to, and feeling angry at being addressed so rudely before her city cousins, she tossed her head, and replied pertly:
"Dear me, Aunt Fannie, I really don't know where the ring is; in some of my boxes, I suppose. Why do you ask?"
"Because, I want you to bring it back, Miss Pert. Do you hear me?"
"You yell so loud that a deaf person or a post could hear you, Aunt Fannie. Milly gave the ring to me, and I don't see why I should give it up. It's mine."
"You know it's a valuable ring, and I mean to have it back. I am sorry enough Milly over gave it you, dear knows."
"The idea of making such a fuss over a ring with one stone!"" exclaimed Nan, with a contemptuous laugh, that was certainly very provoking. "Why, Aunt Clara bought me a ring with three stones, every one larger than Milly's. Come girls, let's go on."
They turned away laughing loudly, and Mrs. Boardman called after them:
"I'll pay you for your insolence, Nan Bent, and get that ring back, too. You'll see what your father'll say to such doings. He'll teach you a lesson."
For the next few days Milly was too ill for her mother to take any further steps towards recovering the ring. Then she seemed better, and Mrs. Boardman insisted that her husband should go over and tell John Bent the whole story, and ask him to make Nan give up the ring. He was very unwilling, but at last consented to go when Milly was better. Mrs. Boardman was very impatient, and when Mrs. Hobbs offered to be he>r messenger, readily consented. Mrs. Hobbs told the story to both Mr. and Mrs. Bent, in the presence of Mrs. Watts, taking care to repeat all of the hard names which Mrs. Boardman had applied to Nan, and the unkind things she had said of both the child and her mother. When she finished, Mrs. Bent exclaimed:
"I don't believe Nan has the ring, Cynthia. She knows how valuable it is, and would not take it from poor little Milly. Dear child, she would give her head away if it was not fastened to her shoulders. The idea of Nan's having that diamond ring, and never telling me about it! I don't believe a word of it. There's some mistake. Maybe Milly's fever has gone to her head. Maria told Rachel she had fever, and I was going over today to inquire about her. You know, Clara and I have been spending a few days with old Aunt Mary Clark, and only got home last night."
"Let us call Nan, and see what she knows about the matter," said Mr. Bent; and when Nan came, he asked:
"Daughter, did Milly give you her diamond ring, that her aunt left her?"
"Mercy! father; of course she didn't. The idea! Who says so?"
"Your Aunt Fannie. Milly told her she did. She says she gave it to you to show how dearly she loves you."
Tears sprang to Nan's eyes, as she said:
"As if I needed anything to show me that. But what made her say so? I wonder if she's out of her head, and imagined it? Poor dear little soul!"
"Why, your Aunt Fannie says you confessed that you had the ring, and refused to give it up, and she called you a sly thief," put in Mrs. Hobbs.
"Thief, indeed!" exclaimed Nan, angrily. "She wanted me to give her back the garnet ring Milly gave me Christmas before last, and I said it was mine, and I meant to keep it; but she never mentioned the diamond."
"I reckon you misunderstood each other, Nan," said her father."Don't speak rudely to your aunt. I hope you were polite to her."
Nan blushed, but answered frankly:
"I'm afraid I was a little rude, father, but she spoke so unkindly it made me mad. You know she has forbidden Milly to play with, or even speak to me, and the boys, too. Isn't it a shame?"
"I had no idea of such a thing. Did you know it, Rose?"
"Nan told me something of the kind the day before I left, but I didn't believe it. I went over to see Fan about it, but she was out, and I only saw Cynthia. You remember, Cynthia? Did you give sister my message?"
"Certainly," answered Mrs. Hobbs, promptly; "and she said, yes, it was true, and she meant it. You don't know how mad she is with you, and all the family. She says you toady to Clara and her children."
"Dear me!" cried warm-hearted Mrs. Watts; "what a queer notion. We'll have to go over and smooth things out, Rose."
"Of course, and tell her Nan hasn't the ring. Is Milly very sick?"
"Oh, no. She fainted one day, and has had a little fever, but she's all right again. I wouldn't go over if I were you. Fannie's in one of her tantrums, now. You'd better wait till she cools down, Rose."
"Nonsense, I'll do no such thing. Wait for my own sister to cool down before I go near her? No indeed. I'm not going to quarrel with Fan. Come on, Clara; we'll go back with Cynthia."
They went, but Mrs. Boardman refused to see them, locking herself in Milly's room, and sending her refusal by Mrs. Hobbs. Mrs. Watts went home, but Mrs. Bent trudged out to the field where Mr. Boardman was working, and had a talk with him. He gladly accepted Nan's denial of having the ring, and went back to his first suspicions of Mrs. Hobbs.
"It will all come out right, Rose," he said. "You know Fan's heart is in the right place; it's only her temper that gets a little wrong sometimes. As soon as Milly is well enough for me to question her, I'll find out the truth, and get back the ring. Poor child! She wants you and Nan more than all the diamonds in the world, and I mean her to have you too; but I'll give Fan time to get right, and," with a quizzical wink at his sister-in-law, "to get rid of our beloved cousin Cynthia."
The next day Mrs. Watts returned to her city home, taking Nan with her for a visit. Mrs. Boardman hunted everywhere, but the ring could not he found. They tried once to question Milly, but she began to cry, and said she gave it to Nan and wanted her to keep it. Of course, they did not tell her of Nan's denial, fearing to excite her. It was well they did not for their own peace of mind, for the fever returned. and she called so constantly for her Aunt Rose and Nan, that Dr. Clay declared the former must be sent for, at once.
She came, without a moment's delay, and divided the nursing with Maria. Mrs. Boardman's presence excited the child so much that the doctor was obliged to banish her from the room, except when the little girl was asleep. It was a bitter trial, and, as Mrs. Hobbs departed, and the poor woman's really kind heart was allowed to assert itself, she began to see how cruelly she had treated her child, and how unjustly she had judged her sister. But towards Nan she could not relent, and she still believed that the diamond ring was in her possession.
As Milly grew worse, she began the pitiful cries for Nan, which her aunt's coming had hushed for awhile; and Mrs. Bent wrote to her daughter, telling all the truth, and leaving her to decide for herself how she would act. Nan did not hesitate. She left by the next train for home, arriving unexpectedly, late in the afternoon. A neighbor offered to take her home in his wagon, and she got out at her uncle's, sending her trunk on to her father's. She slipped softly up-stairs to Millie's room, and heard the low, weak cry, "Nan! Nan! I want you. Nan." In a moment she had thrown off her hat, and was on the bed, clasping her strong, young arms around the fragile form of her cousin, and pressing her rosy cheek to the pale one on the pillow.
"Here I am, dearie," she cooed in loving tones. "Did my pet want her Nannie? Of course she did, bless her heart. Lie still, lovey-dovey, and I'll sing you to sleep. There! Shut your pretty eyes for Nan. That's right. I'm going to sleep with you, and stay with you all the time, if you're good. Now, listen, and I'll sing your favorite, 'Annie Laurie.' Hush now, baby."
The sweet, clear voice floated softly through the sick room's twilight gloom, and the fretful cries were stilled. Mrs. Bent stooped over her daughter and kissed her softly, and Uncle Jim did the same. Even Maria gave her a kiss of hearty welcome, but Mrs. Boardman drew back behind the window curtain and made no sign.
One after another, Milly's favorite songs were sung, and the fresh young voice was growing very weary, when the sick girl's quiet breathing told that she slept. When Dr. Clay came in, an hour later, the two children were both sleeping quietly, their arms around each other, and their heads resting on the same pillow.
"Thank God, Nan has come," he said. "Don't try to move her. I think the fever has reached a crisis tonight, and from this sleep Milly will awake to life or death."
And so it proved. There were many weary days and nights for poor Milly to pass through yet, but the turn came that night. "It was God's mercy that Nan came just when she did," the doctor told them. "If she had not, I doubt if Milly would have been spared to you. Humanly speaking, Nan saved her life. The child is a born nurse, too. If some man don't get her for a wife, she ought to be a trained hospital nurse."
And when, that evening, Mrs. Boardman was alone with the two girls, and Milly was asleep, she drew Nan down on her lap, and kissed her fondly, saying:
"I don't know who has the ring, and perhaps I never will, but I believe you, my child, and nothing shall ever make me doubt you again. God has given me back my only child, by your hands, and the place next to hers in my heart will always be yours. I hope we will find out the truth some day, but I know you are innocent."
And the truth was made plain sooner than anyone expected. Before Milly was strong enough for questioning, she asked one day for a visit from Poll and Jocko. Nan had brought over a large basket of quilt pieces, and was sewing by Milly's couch; and Jocko was seated in Milly's lap, as she reclined on a pile of pillows. Poll hopped about the room chattering to herself, and they heard her say:
"Poll wants a nut. Crack poor Poll a nut. Pretty Poll wants a nut."
"Dear me," exclaimed Nan, "if Poll hasn't gotten into my piece basket. What is she doing? Oh, she has one of the English walnuts out of that little bag you sent me, Milly, dear. I was just going out when Rachel brought me the bag, and said it had been tied round Jocko's neck. I told her to drop it in my piece basket, and I never thought of it again. There now, Poll, you've dropped one of the nuts on the hearth and cracked it for yourself, you smart thing. Oh, what is that? Milly! Milly! It's your diamond ring! Oh, you blessed, blessed child! The ring is found! The diamond ring is found! Glory! Glory! Glory!"
The cries and wild dancing about the room brought the grown folks running in, and thankful, indeed, were they to see the missing ring in Nan's hand. It was hard to persuade Milly to yield consent to the return of her treasure, but after a private talk with her father, she gave way, and said no more about it. The reason was explained when on Christmas Nan received a ring like Milly's as a gift from Uncle Jim, Aunt Fannie and Milly.
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