The Project Gutenberg EBook of Three Young Knights, by Annie Hamilton Donnell
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Title: Three Young Knights
Author: Annie Hamilton Donnell
Release Date: February 1, 2004 [EBook #10901]
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THREE YOUNG KNIGHTS ***
Produced by Prepared by Al Haines.
THREE YOUNG KNIGHTS
By Annie Hamilton Donnell
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!"
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!"
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. Then Jot broke out—a minute was Jot's utmost limit of silence.
"We could go up through the Notch and back, you know," he reflected. "That's no end of fun. Wouldn't cost us all more'n a fiver for the round trip, and we'd have the other ten to—to—"
"Buy popcorn and 'Twin Mountain Views' with!" finished Kent in scorn. "Well, if you want to dress up in your best fixin's and stew all day in a railroad train—"
"I don't!" rejoined Jot, hastily. "I was thinking of Old Till!"
Tilly's other name was Nathan, but it had grown musty with disuse. He was the oldest of the Eddy trio, and "ballasted" the other two, Father Eddy said. Old Tilly was fourteen and the Eddy twins—Jotham and Kennet—were twelve. All three were well-grown, lusty fellows who could work or celebrate their liberty, as the case might be, with a good will. Just now it was the latter they wanted to do, in some untried way.
It was a beautiful thinking-place, up in the consultery. The birds in the meshes of leaves that roofed it over twittered in whispers, as if they realized that a momentous question was under consultation down below and bird-courtesy demanded quiet.
Jot fretted impatiently under his breath,
"Shouldn't think it need to take all day!" he muttered. "You're as slow as—as—"
"Old Tilly!" laughed Kent. The spell of silence was broken, and the birds overhead broke into jubilant trills, as if they were laughing, too.
"I guess the name fits all right this time," Old Tilly said ruefully. "I can't seem to think of anything at all! My head clicks—the mowing machine wheels have got into it, I guess!"
"Wheels in mine, too!" Kent drawled lazily.
Jot sprang to his feet in excitement. In his haste he miscalculated the dimensions of the consultery. There was a wild flutter of brown hands and feet, and then the chestnut leaves closed calmly over the opening, and there were but two boys in the consultery. One of those parted the leaves again and peered down.
No answer. Old Tilly's laugh froze on his face.
"Jot! Hello!" he cried, preparing to swing himself down.
"Hello yourself!" came up calmly.
"Oh! Are you killed?"
"'Course! But, I say, you needn't either o' you sit up there any longer gloomin'. I've