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Maria, Tabitha isn't to have a taste of those berries. I just found her in the middle of the road down here fighting with a boy, like the rowdy she is. At his command in regard to the berries, however, she paused; then turned to where the pail stood just inside the screen, seized it, and before either of the two spectators understood what she was about, she flung bucket, berries and all into the dooryard and ground the shining fruit into the sand with her bare feet.
A gasp of dismay escaped the frightened woman, but again the grim smile flitted across the face of the father, though he looked like a thunder cloud as he roared at the child, "Go straight to your room and to bed! You shall not have a thing to eat today! With her feet stained a dirty purple, Tabitha marched into the house and upstairs, rushed to her little bed in the corner, and threw herself full length on the counterpane, regardless of the fact that drops of berry juice still dripped from her brown legs. For fully ten minutes she lay there, fighting back the angry  tears and battling with the fierce rage against her father.
I wish he would go off to the mines and stay forever. He might take Aunt Maria, too, though she ain't so bad. We could get along with her all right; sometimes she is splendid, even if she is so fussy. Oh, dear, why can't we have a nice mother like other children have? I reckon ours wouldn't have died if she had known Aunt Maria would have to take care of us and Dad would be so horrid. Her list of woes was fast increasing, and the tears were very near the bubbling-over point, when she heard heavy steps on the stairs.
Wonder if he will lick me this time. I 'spect he will some day, and Tom says he licks awful hard. Wonder if he will use a whip like sneaky Sneed Pomeroy. Wisht I was as big as Tom; he don't get licked any more, he's too big. Dad told me to go to bed and I ain't undressed. Maybe it's just as well if he's going to lick me.
But they continued down the hall without so much as pausing before her door, and now as her heart began to beat normally again, she heard Aunt Maria's voice saying, "There's a dreadful clutter to move if we take everything. Some of those boxes we brought from Dover have never been opened though we've been here two years now. Doesn't seem as if we had to take all that truck with us wherever we go. There hasn't been a thing in the stuff that we've needed. Cautiously creeping off the bed, Tabitha pressed her ear to the keyhole to catch the rest of this interesting conversation, but as she listened, her face paled and a rebellious look came into the expressive black eyes.
So they were going to move away! Where would they go this time? It seemed to her that moving was all they ever did. Not that she minded the moving part of it—that was fun—but—. Here the tears came in earnest. It didn't make any difference where they went, everyone made fun of her name, and folks no sooner got used to seeing her odd little figure and hearing her still odder name than they moved to some other town, and the same thing had to be lived over. Oh, it was too bad!
All the hot afternoon father and aunt busied themselves in the adjoining rooms, tearing open boxes, sorting, re-packing, and bundling things around generally, until finally the noise became so great that only an occasional word of the conversation could be heard by the little listener at the keyhole. As the day waned, however, and the supper hour approached, both workers ceased their pounding and went downstairs, leaving Tabitha alone with her tearful reflections in the gathering dusk.
Here Tom found her, still huddled in a heap beside the door. What made you so late? Did you know Dad had come home again? Haven't you something in your pocket to eat? I'm hungry as a wolf. I just got home. Had an errand across the pond after the store was closed. Here's a biscuit and some cheese. Why aren't you in bed? Aunt Maria said Dad sent you there at noon.
Tom grinned at her understanding of the law, but the darkness hid his face, so his amusement was lost to the small sister eating so ravenously. I thought he was going to, for he looked right mad, but I reckon I was so mad it wouldn't have hurt much. At least, it used to hurt me.
Do be careful, Puss. How did you make him so mad? The child briefly recounted the story of the morning's tribulations between bites of biscuit and cheese, growing so angry over her recital that the flood gates were opened again and she sobbed aloud in her tempest of grief.
Joe Pomeroy is a sneak anyway, and I've been itching to lick him for a long, long time—ever since Sneed hit me with the whip he uses to drive the cows with. Oh, Tom, I never meant to tell you that! Now you'll go and fight him and he will hurt you, 'cause he's so much bigger than you are, and then Dad will whale you for fighting. Thrash Joe, but don't tackle Sneed. Oh, please! Tom laughed ironically. I never thought about Joe's being there to tease me. I did want the berries so much, for Aunt Maria said she would make some jelly and some jam if I would pick the berries.
She won't gather 'em 'cause the thorns tear her hands so. I got the pail full—heaped up so they kept tumbling off—and now they are all spoiled and I've scratched my hands to pieces all for nothing. Tom expected a fresh wail would follow this statement, for though Tabitha was not ordinarily a cry-baby, the day of trials had been too much for her; but he was surprised when after a moment of silence in which he was vainly trying to think of something consoling to say, she remarked, "Well, I don't know's I care  much about the berries, 'cause we're going to move, and I s'pose if we had a lot of jelly put up, Dad would say it wasn't any use to take it with us, and we would have to leave it along with the rest of the truck they've been sorting out today.
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What do you mean? They never told me! Tom was silent and in the darkness Tabitha could not see his face, but she seemed to understand how he felt about it, and after a moment she slipped a thorn-scratched little hand into his, as she said,. I'm sorry, too. I wanted to stay here. The people who have moved in the big red house by the pond have two of the nicest children. They are cousins and have the prettiest names—Rosalie Meywood and Rosslyn Fennimore—and they are almost my age. I hated to tell  them my name, but they didn't laugh a bit, Tom.
They didn't even look queer at each other, and Rosslyn said they had a kitten they called Tabby and it was the smartest cat they ever saw. They have taught it tricks and Rosalie invited me over to see it. I met them down in the blackberry patch. They were picking just for fun and they helped me a little—not much, 'cause they were so slow. Neither of them knows how to pick berries and they took only those out in sight, while the very best ones are most always way in under the vines. We are all in the same classes in school and we planned such nice times together when lessons begin again.
I never get to knowing any nice people but we move away. Do you s'pose we will ever have any friends, Tom? Tom's thoughts were very busy, and he only half heard the child's lively chatter. In the dim long ago, when he was only six years old, one morning a white-aproned woman with a gentle face had called him to her and led him into a room where lay his own dear mother with a little white bundle on her arm, and when the covers were turned down he had looked into a  tiny, red, wrinkled face with blinking, black eyes and was told that this was a baby sister come to be a playmate for him.
Then the nurse went away and left them for a little while and his mother talked to him in her soft voice that he could remember best in the little lullaby she used to sing to him:. She had laid the baby's little fisting hands into his and told him that he must always take good care of little sister. He never saw the mother again, but after days of hushed voices and light steps in the big house, Aunt Maria had come to take care of them, and they moved away to another town.
The baby lived and had grown from year to year until she was now past eight years old, and he had tried his best to take care of her.
But she had never known a mother's love nor a father's. Oh yes, the father was living. Tom could remember the tall, dark man having once seized him in his arms and pressed passionate kisses upon his lips, but he had never seen him caress the little helpless bundle the mother had left when the angels carried her away. There had been no one to ask, for Aunt Maria had not come until later, and even then, she did not talk to the children very much, so he had grown accustomed to thinking of these things just to himself.
Tabitha was too young to be made his confidante in such matters; indeed, he could never tell her some things. They would only make her hate the austere father more than ever. So he sighed. This was the fifth time they had moved from one town to another since the mother had died, and each place was worse than the last. No sooner were they well established in one city than the restless spirit seized the father and they moved again. How would it end?
This is the third time I have asked you that. Rosalie says next week three of her little friends where they used to live are coming to stay with her until school begins in September; and when she asked me if I ever had any friends come to visit me, I had to tell her I never had any friends.
She seemed ever so surprised, and I did want to stay in one place long enough to have some friends. But I s'pose it is my name that keeps folks from being friends with me. No one would want to say, 'My chum's name is Tabitha Catt. Everybody would laugh and maybe they would sing:. Poor Tom! How could he answer the avalanche of questions? At fourteen one is not very wise, but Tom squeezed the rough hand  still holding his, and answered hopefully, "Some day we will have some friends, Pussy.
And some day when I get big and can work for you, we will settle down and live in one town, and people will come to see us, and they won't care anything about our names. Now you must go to bed. It's getting late and pretty soon Dad and Aunt Maria will be coming upstairs. The day was done. The crimson sunset glow still hung over the whole world, touching the brown, parched hills with a rainbow of colors and reflecting itself in the cloudbank massed high in the eastern sky.
Tom, hurrying home through the fields from his last errands at the store, was whistling softly and enjoying the beauty of the early evening, wondering all the while why the little sister was not running to meet him, and half expecting to see her jump out at him from behind some clump of bushes. But Tabitha was nowhere in sight.
Wonder if she has been punished again today. Wish I could keep her with me all the time. She wouldn't get into so much mischief. He anxiously scanned the house as he approached it for some glimpse of lively Tabitha, but was disappointed. Suddenly from overhead came a soft bird trill, followed by a  suppressed snicker. He looked up quickly, and there in the branches of the wide-spreading sycamore tree by the corner of the house was a flutter of white which, upon closer inspection, proved to be Tabitha's nightgown, and Tabitha was inside it!
I've got something to show you. Tom obediently followed her instructions, and some minutes later his head appeared at the window, and he demanded, "Puss, are you still working for that licking? What are you doing out in that tree, and why are you in your nightgown? It's getting damp and you will catch cold sitting out there like that. Aunt Maria was going to make coffee cake for supper. But of course he blamed me, and he sent me up to bed again. Reckon he guessed that I didn't put on my nightgown yesterday, for he told me that I had to do it this time and to get into bed.
He didn't say I had to undress, though, so I just put on my gown and crawled into bed for a second. That was all he really told me to do, now Tom. I can't stay in bed in the daytime, so I came out here to sit. I've got on all my clothes and my nightgown besides, so I won't catch cold on this hot night. I should hope not. One time I had a sneezing spell and Aunt Maria made me sit for ages with mullein leaves dipped in hot vinegar stuck onto my feet.
Said she was afraid maybe I was going to have a bad cold or a fever. We'd been running races and my face was red and hot. Tom laughed, though the details of the episode were very fresh in his mind yet. He had escaped a similar fate only because he was so big that the fussy little aunt could no longer force him to take her vile doses. I confess I am curious.
Have you found another history you didn't know belonged to us, or has one of that missing bunch turned up? I have broken its back getting it out here. I'd like to take it, though, Tom, for it has the loveliest names in it. Just listen here,—'Theodora Marcella Folwell'—ain't that grand? And here's another, 'Gabrielle Flora Folwell'—". There are a lot of names in the back and some awfully homely pictures.
I rubbed my finger on one and it smooched the nose clear off and blurred both eyes, but he wasn't good looking anyway. It isn't much worse now. On one page it says 'Births,' and on another 'Deaths,' and on the third 'Marriages. Don't fall. His instructions were unnecessary. Tabitha's legs were curled around the big bough so tightly that it would have taken a cyclone to dislodge her, and the mammoth Bible hung suspended by its broken back from an adjacent branch in such a fashion that as long as its heavy binding held it could not fall. But it took considerable effort to haul it up into  the house again, and this was finally accomplished only after Tabitha had crawled back through the window to tug at it from above, while Tom pushed at it from below, swaying and bumping in the sycamore until both children held their breath for fear boy and Bible would land in a heap on the ground.
I never heard such grand ones before. How do you pronounce A-m-a-r-i-a-h? And here's a perfectly beautiful one D-i-o-n-y-s-i-u-s Carpenter. It has him down under the marriages with Pen-e-lope Miranda Folwell. Don't you think that is pretty? They are all so different from John and Frank and—and—Thomas and Tabitha.
I wish I could pick out a pretty name for my very own and have folks call me that always. Don't you? Tom was intently studying the records penned in faded ink on the yellow pages, and now he raised his head and looked into the eager black eyes upturned to his, as he said slowly,. I can remember Dad used to call her Dora, and I have an old letter I found in a book a long time ago that has the name Folwell on it.
Yes, here's the record. See, Puss? But that must be Dad. His name is Maximilian, you know, though I never heard the Lynne part of it before. Lynne Catt—hm! Lean cat. That's what everybody would call him. I bet that's why he used his middle name. I'd rather be nicknamed 'Manx cat' than to be called 'lean cat,' wouldn't you? My name might as well have been 'Lynne. It was bad enough to have the children  of Conroy sing, 'Once there was a little kitty,' and then the folks at Dover used to say, 'Pussy cat, Pussy cat, where have you been?
Her lip quivered suspiciously, and Tom hastily changed the subject by asking, "What would you choose for a name if you could take your pick of all the pretty ones you ever heard? Tabitha drew a long breath, shook the black hair out of her eyes, folded her lean brown arms across the nightgown, which looked considerably the worse for her climb in the sycamore tree, and hesitated. Even 'Rosalie' isn't so grand; do you think so? I—believe—I'd—like—to be called"—Tom waited expectantly as she shifted from foot to foot and tried to make the important decision.
Say, Tom, will you call me that? Just when we're alone, of course, so Dad wouldn't hear it. Tom caught his breath as if a dash of cold water had suddenly struck his face. I never could remember all that. Say it again, can you? That's easy, and so pretty. Why, it sounds just like a princess, Tom! I believe I could be good and not get mad all the time if I had a name like that.
I know I could. I wouldn't envy Rosalie Meywood one bit. Don't you think that is a perfectly grand name, Tom? Tom bit his lip to keep from laughing as he soberly answered, "Tip-top, Puss. I'll call you that sometimes—that is, as much of it as I can remember, if you want me to; just in play, you know. Won't Dora be enough? Why, that's hardly any of it. Dora is a pretty name, but Theodora is grand.
If you forget part of it, remember the Theodora Gabrielle part. That is the best of it. Wouldn't you like to have me call you something else besides Tom? There are some awfully  nice boys' names written in that Bible. Which did you think were the grandest? That was Gen.
Grant's name, you know, and he was a trump. He made some regular splendid fights. Tabitha was evidently disappointed at his selection, and he hastily asked, "What do you think is the best name for a boy? Wouldn't Dionysius Ulysses Humphrey Llewelyn be splendid? Or would you like some more? There are six parts to my name—". Men don't need as many names as girls, I reckon.
You may have to remind me what my name is to be, for I am afraid I shall always be forgetting it. Suppose we shorten it to Ulysses. You cut yours down a little, you know. It's a heap prettier than Thomas Catt. He won't like it. I think I will keep this Bible, though. Don't tell. I can put it in the bottom of the old trunk where I keep my things and no one will ever know but you.
So he marched away with the precious volume under his arm, and Tabitha crawled happily into bed to dream of grand names and a happy future in the unknown home where they were going. Tabitha wheeled with a start, lost her balance, and toppled off the great rock to the hard ground, where she lay staring up at the fair-haired stranger bending over her with anxiety and alarm filling the pretty blue eyes. I'm lonesome and when you moved in the nearest house to ours I was glad to think there was another girl about my size, for maybe you will play with me.
Will you? Still Tabitha made no reply, but lay as she had fallen, not daring to trust her ears or believe her eyes—it was not unusual for anyone to make friendly advances toward her, though she had longed all her lonely little life for a playmate. Why, it couldn't be possible! They were on the desert now in a forlorn little mining town located in a hollow between two mountain ranges and straggling over a vast  area of barren, rocky hills, with not a tree in sight anywhere, except the ugly, uncompromising yuccas, and they could scarcely be dignified by the name of trees.
Nothing but sagebrush, greasewood, mesquite and cactus; not even a sprill of grass! To poor homesick Tabitha it seemed as if they had dropped off the earth into nowhere. She had never seen such a place in all her life, nor even dreamed that towns like that existed. Wherever they had gone heretofore, there had always been trees and flowers, which in a measure took the place of the friends she had never known but always missed. Now there was not even to be this solace; how could there be any friends?
So she remained silent and the little blue-eyed girl was puzzled, almost frightened. Then a bright idea came to her. Tormented ever since she could remember because of her unfortunate name, and now to be called an Indian! She had sprung to her feet with fists clenched and eyes blazing, yet somehow she seemed to understand that this plump little body was different from the teasing children who had made the days miserable for her wherever she went, and she could not strike the avenging blow.
But the insult, unintentional as it evidently was, rankled bitterly nevertheless; and dropping to the ground again, she hid her face in her faded skirts. Instantly two soft arms slipped around her and she heard the gentle voice saying sorrowfully, "Oh, please don't cry, little girl!
I didn't mean to make you mad. Of course you aren't an Indian, 'cause your hair curls some, and Indians have awful straight, stiff hair, and they are redder than you are.
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I guess you've lived on the desert until you are real brown. Almost as bad as I do Dad! I ain't crying, and I ain't mad—at you. They sat and stared at each other in silence a moment and then the strange girl said, "My name is Carrie Carson. What's yours? Carrie gasped. So did Tabitha, but for a different reason.
Carrie was amazed at the length of the name and the ease with which its owner spoke it. Tabitha was astonished to think the idea of dropping her own obnoxious name and adopting a new one had never occurred to her before. No thought of deception ever entered her mind; she merely hated "Tabitha" with all the strength of her passionate nature; she had found a name that filled her with delight; she had adopted it at first in play, but it had become very real to her, and now as she spoke the words that were so beautiful to her, it seemed as if they belonged to her.
Will you say it again, please? I couldn't quite make it out. So Tabitha repeated the words slowly, adding, " I always call him all of them, but he would just as soon folks would call him Ulysses. He was named after General Grant who fought in the Civil War. To— Dionysius Ulysses Humphrey Llewelyn taught me how to read, 'cause we move so much that sometimes we miss a lot of school, and I've gone clear through the United States history. Have you? To— Dionysius Ulysses Humphrey Llewelyn explains when I don't understand, and he draws  maps to show how the battles were fought.
We learn poetry about fights, too. To— my brother is going to be a soldier when he gets big. The name with which she had so generously supplied her brother was becoming very hard to manage, and she sat silently eyeing her bare feet while she tried in vain to think of some way out of the dilemma. She had told Carrie that she always called her brother his full name. What could she do but prove it? Carrie's voice interrupted her meditations. It always scares me so I forget half of my verses and then papa is so disappointed.
Mamma always says, 'Never mind, dearie,. So Tabitha flew to the top of the rock from which she had been surveying the waste of desert when Carrie had first put in appearance, and with ringing voice declaimed the stirring words to her admiring audience. That was the beginning of the first real friendship poor Tabitha had ever known, and the world that opened before her was a beautiful fairyland. The Carson home was so unlike her own that unconsciously she held her breath whenever she entered the big house where the superintendent of the Silver Legion Mines lived, fearing that she might wake up and find it after all only a dream—the sweet-faced mother who kissed little Carrie every day, the smiling, genial father who always had some pretty gift in his pocket for his only child, the dainty furnishings of the big house which seemed so gorgeously splendid to the neglected girl, and particularly the wonderful toys and story-books that belonged to the flaxen-haired fairy who opened the door of this wonderland for her to enter.
Having never known a mother's love herself,  Tabitha regarded dainty Mrs. Carson with a feeling of awe which deepened into worship as the acquaintance progressed, but proved to be a great barrier between them for a long time. She spoke of her in a hushed voice, treasured every smile as if it had been some precious gem, and hungered for the caresses so freely bestowed upon little Carrie, but feared to approach near enough this beautiful goddess to receive them herself.
Carson she could understand better. He was another Tom grown up, only where Tom was silent and shy, this man was jolly and friendly. He laughed a great deal, said funny things, never teased little girls except in a playful way that made one like to meet him, and was always very, very kind. She never heard him say a cross word to anyone, and once when she asked Carrie if he ever got mad and punished her, the blue-eyed girl was very indignant. Carson slipped down a peg and became a brother, bringing him much closer to her than he would otherwise have been, and making his influence over her much greater.
At first the Carsons did not much favor the friendship that had sprung up between the two girls, for Tabitha seemed so wild and passionate they feared her association with their little daughter might not be for the best; but by chance the superintendent met Tom one day in the surveyor's office, where the boy had found employment running errands and doing other odd jobs, and he was delighted with the unusual intelligence of the lad, as well as with the ambition Tom had for an education. Like Tabitha, Tom craved fellowship with understanding people, and his appreciation of real kindness was as touching as it was keen.
Carson made inquiry concerning the boy, learned the unfortunate circumstances of his starved life, and became his fast friend. So the two girls were allowed to play together unrestricted, each helping the other unconsciously  in the building of character,—Carrie being taught reliance and self-confidence, while Tabitha was learning to subdue the fierceness of her untamed nature and to overcome her extreme sensitiveness. Though Mr. Carson knew the truth about the unhappy names of brother and sister, he never so much as smiled, nor did he betray Tabitha's secret; and while he never called Tom by the name she thought so grand, he always addressed her as Theodora Gabrielle; and she was happy.
So for many precious weeks the world looked very bright to the black-eyed girl. The father was miles away most of the time, prospecting among the mountains; Aunt Maria seldom called her anything but Child; Tom's pet name, when he forgot her grand title, was Puss; and she began to think the hateful Tabitha was forever laid aside and forgotten. The dreariness of the desert which had so oppressed her when they first arrived in Silver Bow slipped from her; she forgot the lack of trees and grass; the yuccas and Spanish bayonets lost their grimness; she grew to like the queer place with its queer vegetation; and the  sunrises and sunsets were a source of intense delight to her, as they are to many another soul—for where in all the world are there such beautiful cloud pictures as on the desert with the mountains beyond, mysterious and wonderful in their purple haze or in the glistening white of the snow?
The Catts arrived at Silver Bow only a few weeks before school began, and owing to the fact that the cottage they had rented stood half hidden from the rest of the town by one of the many hills, with only the Carson house and a vacant bungalow for neighbors, Tabitha made the acquaintance of none of the other children in town until the commencement of the fall term. Usually this was an event to be dreaded by the sensitive girl, but it was with a feeling almost of pleasure that Tabitha accompanied pretty Carrie to the old weather-beaten schoolhouse of the mining camp the first Monday of September for the opening session.
Tom was too far advanced for the branches taught in the little school, so he was to remain with the surveyor and study in the evening under Mr. Carson's direction; but he knew  from former experience what a scene Tabitha usually created before she could be persuaded to begin school each year, and dreaded the ordeal almost as much as did the passionate little sister.
Tabitha had confessed to Tom that Carrie called her by the wonderful name, Theodora Gabrielle, but he thought it was just in play and rejoiced that the superintendent's charming little daughter was so friendly and kind. He was unusually busy with his own thoughts and plans, for Mr. Carson had laid out a course of study for him by which he might prepare himself for college, the goal of his ambitions; and the world was looking very bright to him as well as to Tabitha, so perhaps he was excusable if he day-dreamed a little.
But he never forgave himself for relaxing his vigilance over the small sister even in this slight measure, for it cost her many hours of bitter anguish. If only he had inquired about the name Tabitha had adopted, and discovered how real it had become! But intent upon his own thoughts, he missed this part of Tabitha's confession, and watched her set out for school hand in hand with Carrie, serene in the belief  that all was well, and happy at her unexpected behavior in regard to school. The aunt sighed, "Well, it's a shame she has to answer to it when she despises it so; though I can't see that it is much worse than Maria.
I never paid much attention to my name that I remember. But if I'd had my way about it, I should have called you Peter Augustus, and her Aurora Isadena," she pronounced them "A-roo-rie Isi-deen-ie" "but your pa had different notions. Said he'd suffered torment all his days being called Manx Cat and he was going to get even with folks for once; though I can't see how naming innocent children such names would help him any in his grouch against the world.
Neither could Tom, but it was seldom that Aunt Maria volunteered any information of  this sort, and he made the most of his opportunity by asking, "Is Dad's other name Lynne? So though Tom had any quantity of questions he wanted to ask, he put on his cap and left the house. The school-bell was ringing its final summons when he reached the top of the hill, and he paused to look down the steep slope into the yard where the children were marching in double file into the building, smiling as he saw Tabitha's long, lean legs keeping step behind the short, plump ones of little Carrie, and mentally hoping that the day would go well with the little spitfire sister.
It did. A bright-faced woman stood at her desk and received the children as they entered, shook hands with them and gave them their seats, smiling all the while until Tabitha thought she had never seen anyone so pretty, except Mrs. Now, the first thing I intend to do this morning is to take down your names and get you classified. This little girl in the front seat of the outside row, what is your name?
The teacher gasped, the children tittered, and Tabitha crimsoned angrily, but before she had even time to clench the little fists that were accustomed to fight her battles, Carrie saved the day. She is a lovely speaker. The flush of annoyance on the teacher's face  died instantly, and she smiled down into the beautiful eyes of the child before her as she said, "That is a very pretty name, I am sure. Now tell me where you are in your studies. An answering smile came to Tabitha's face, and she replied with more confidence, "I've finished United States history, which is grand, 'specially Grant; I've reached Europe in geography, which isn't bad; I've got to 'emotion' in language, which is horrid; and in 'rithmetic I am stuck in decimal fractions, which is the worst yet.
My brother, Dionysius Ulysses Humphrey Llewelyn, taught me history when he was studying it. I hain't had it in school yet. This time the scholars as well as the teacher were silent in astonishment, but no one laughed; and seeing the surprised faces all around her, Tabitha again assumed a belligerent attitude, thinking they did not believe her. You ought to hear her speak Barbara Fritchie.
At this the teacher smiled again, and laying her hand on the black head she said, "You are a little girl to be so far along in your lessons. I am afraid I can't classify you just now. We will have to wait until I get the other girls and boys arranged according to studies, and then we will see where to put you. Now, children, I hope you will follow Theodora Gabrielle's example and study hard. The world was growing very bright and she was finding how sweet the days could be. The child was curled in a forlorn heap on the little front stoop which took the place of piazza to their cottage, staring with gloomy eyes toward the radiant sunset, but for once unaware of the glorious beauty of the skies.
Her heart was very heavy. In two days more the school was to give their first exhibition—that was what Miss Brooks called it—in the town hall; and all the parents and friends were invited to come and hear them speak the pieces and sing the songs they had been learning ever since school had commenced, six weeks before. Miss Brooks thought it helped the scholars to have public exercises occasionally, for it brought the parents in closer touch with their boys and girls and encouraged the children to do better work; so she had planned to have these exhibitions every six weeks or two months in the town hall.
The school house was  too small to seat many visitors if all the scholars were present. Tabitha was to recite a long selection all by herself, and she had taken great pride in learning it with appropriate gestures, conscious of the fact that she was the best speaker in the room, and happy in the teacher's unstinted praise and her playmates' envious admiration.
But now! Miss Brooks had asked the girls to wear white dresses, and Tabitha had none! What a calamity! She had expected to wear her new green gingham. It wasn't a very pretty color, to be sure, or very becoming, but she had coaxed Aunt Maria to make it after the fashion of Carrie's dainty dresses and was delighted with the result.
Now the rest of the girls would be in white, and it would look dreadful to have one green dress in the splendid array on the platform. What could she do? It was useless to ask for a white gown, and even if there were any possibility of getting the new material it was too late to make it up in time for the exhibition, for Aunt Maria wasn't a great success as a seamstress, and it took her a long time to make a dress. Why,  she had worked more than a week on the green gingham, and that was just tucked!
If there could be a white dress it would have to have ruffles on it; all the other girls' white dresses had ruffles on them somewhere. Carrie's had two ruffles on the skirt, and Mamie Cole's had three. Bertha Dean's had only one ruffle around the shoulders and the skirt was tucked, but it was very pretty; and if Tabitha could not have ruffles on the skirt, she would want at least a shoulder ruffle with lace around it. Well, there was no use in planning, she could not have a white dress.
But how could she face all those people in a green gingham and be the only odd girl there? I've called you half a dozen times already. Go to my trunk and bring me that box of odd pieces just under the tray. I want to mend this dress before dark. Mind you are careful now. The tray is broken; lift it carefully.
Under ordinary circumstances she considered it a great honor to be allowed even to lift the cover of the big, old trunk in the corner, for it contained many wonderful relics for childish eyes, and sometimes Aunt Maria would let her look at some of the treasures, and even tell her a little about them on rare occasions. Today, however, even this prospect was not alluring, and with listless hands Tabitha pulled the rickety tray out of its place and bent over the trunk in search of the box in question.
There were several boxes under the tray, but Aunt Maria never remembered this, and it was always necessary to open them to discover which was the one wanted. So the child seized the nearest and pulled off the cover. No pieces in that. But in the act of replacing the cover she noticed something shining in a mass of white, and paused to investigate. It was a string of glistening beads, and as she lifted them from their crushed tissue wrappings there lay disclosed the shimmering folds of a white silk dress, carefully laid away with dried "Sweet Mary" leaves.
There were the scraps Aunt Maria wanted, and with these in her hands she scurried out into the kitchen where the fussy old lady sat sewing in the waning light. I never wore it but twice, for my mother did not believe in finery for children, and this being white, she was afraid it would get soiled.
Did you close that trunk? Tabitha went back to put things in order again, but could not resist one more peep at the enticing box. How beautiful the silk looked, and how daintily it was made! To be  sure, there were no ruffles adorning the soft folds, but the bottom of the skirt was beautifully scalloped, so even and nice, and each scallop bound with a narrow strip of the same material. She lifted the dress out of its box and looked at it with shining eyes. How rich one must be to own a silk dress! How she wished it belonged to her!
If it had been hers, she should have worn it more than twice—such a dainty, pretty thing as that—and it was white. And she wanted a white dress so much. I want you to set the table. It is almost supper time and Thomas will soon be here. Tabitha dropped the dress hastily on the rug beside the trunk, put the cover on the empty box and slipped it back in its place with the other six. Down went the tray on top of them, the lid of the trunk fell with a snap, and the white silk dress was no longer inside.
With beating heart and red face she carried the garment into her own tiny room and hung it in  the very darkest corner of the closet. Then she ran to set the table. How the next day ever passed she never knew, for before her eyes wherever she looked danced that lovely, quaint old gown of shimmering silk, and she could think of nothing else. It hid the map of Europe when she opened her geography, it played leap-frog among common fractions when she tried to do her sums, it waved at the head of the Continental Army while she led those brave men to victory, and when it came to spelling class she could think of nothing but "s-i-l-k.
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But Exhibition Day came at last. Aunt Maria was not going, as Tabitha well knew, so would not see her in the borrowed gown until too late to raise any objections. She had no intention of wearing the dress without Aunt Maria's knowledge, but she did intend to wear it first, and tell about it afterwards, accepting whatever punishment the woman saw fit to give her for the transgression.
So she smuggled the gown out of the house in her school-bag, and up among the tall boulders beyond the Carson place, where there was no possibility of anyone finding her. Here she  dressed, and under one great rock hid the once admired but now despised green gingham. Then with her long cape covering her quaintly gowned figure, she hurried up to Carrie's door to call for her playmate, having waited until the last minute in the hope that her friends would be gone.
Nor was she disappointed. The doors were locked and no one came to answer her knock; so with flying feet she sped toward the hall, noting that only a few people were bound in that direction, and knowing that most of the expected visitors were already seated within. It would never do to have our best speaker absent, you know;" and she smiled into the shining black eyes of the breathless Tabitha; but the next instant the smile faded. Tabitha had loosened her cape, and Miss Brooks caught sight of the quaint, queer old gown underneath.
The beloved silk dress called a "rig! I thought it would be very 'propriate, for I am to speak a war piece, you know. Aunt Maria had this when she was a little girl, and she must be pretty much older than the war. But we must take off the ribbons from your hair, Theodora, and fix it in the old-fashioned way to go with your gown.
I remember a picture of my mother with her hair done in the queerest braids. Come, we will have to hurry. As this inspiration flashed through the young teacher's mind, she saw a way out of the dilemma so that neither child nor school should be ridiculed because of Tabitha's mistake; and she hurriedly completed the small girl's "war times toilette" so that when Tabitha emerged from under her skillful hands she was the admiration  and envy of all her mates. And truly she presented a pretty picture as she stood before the none too critical audience and recited Sheridan's Ride with such vim and spirit that every heart was fired with patriotism and the applause was so prolonged that Miss Brooks told her she must speak another piece, even though it was not on the program.
Purposely the teacher had left Tabitha's part in the exercises well toward the last, knowing that she could be depended upon to make a fitting climax for the afternoon's program, nor was she disappointed; and she fairly beamed upon the little girl as she gently pushed her toward the front of the platform to respond to her encore. Having done so well with one war piece, Tabitha decided that Barbara Fritchie was a most appropriate selection to recite this second time, besides being quite in keeping with her old-fashioned dress.
So she began the familiar lines:. Suddenly from among the audience one face seemed to leap before her eyes,—white, set, terrified. And beside him, leaning forward as he stood near the door, his face grim and threatening, was her father! Her surroundings were forgotten; she seemed to be standing beside the dusty road again with a pail of blackberries at her feet; and with gaze rivetted upon those two figures in the back of the hall, she recited:. Was there a titter behind her, were the faces in the audience smiling?
Was Miss Brooks speaking her name, were someone's arms  around her trying to drag her to her seat? It seemed an age that she stood there, words frozen on her lips, heart that seemed to have ceased its beating, and eyes that looked without seeing. Then, pausing for neither hat nor cape, she plunged down from the platform, fled blindly through the aisle and rushed out of the open door. Up the rocky path she stumbled, but stopped on the summit of the first rise.
What was the use of running away? He would find her and the punishment would come sooner or later. It might as well come now and be over with. Up on the nearest boulder she crept and waited, a heap of frozen misery. Would he remain until the exercises were over? How would he punish her?
The waiting was short, although to her it seemed hours before the parents and children came out of the hall and dispersed to their various homes. A few passed her on the trail, but she did not see them—not even Carrie, sobbing aloud as she stumbled along beside her mother. When they were all gone, her father suddenly stood before her. When he came, or how he got there, she did not know. She turned and followed him, not down the hill to the cottage as she had expected, but back towards town.
The day was warm, but she was shivering violently, and even her teeth chattered until it seemed as if the silent man at her side could not fail to hear them. I never told anyone but Carrie and Miss Brooks. Tabitha was startled. Was it a lie to change one's name—just one's first name? It had not appealed to her in that light before. But the relentless voice was still speaking. What was it saying? When I have finished, you will have a chance to explain.
You are to go to every store and hotel in this town and say—listen now, so you will get it straight, 'I told you a lie. The child's black eyes flashed dangerously, but she obediently started down the main street of the town, counting on her fingers, "Two drug stores, three grocery stores—no, four—one butcher shop, two dry goods stores, one millinery shop, three hotels and the bakery. Every head was lifted and every pair of eyes looked curiously at the odd little figure in its quaintly scalloped dress and shining black braids.
She hesitated, looked about her in desperation, saw no familiar face in all the crowd, and haltingly began her dreadful speech:. My name is Tabitha Catt—" Someone interrupted with a mocking laugh. She wheeled toward him, shook her tightly clenched fist, and with blazing eyes continued, "and not Theodora Marcella Gabrielle Julianna Victoria Emeline; and my brother's name is Thomas Catt and not Dionysius Ulysses Humphrey Llewelyn. My father's name is Lynne Maximilian Catt, but you can call him 'lean Manx Catt;' he doesn't like it, but it ain't any worse than ours.
I have an Aunt Maria. She was a decent woman. The good die young. On down the long street she went, into every store and shop. Sometimes the people laughed at her, but more often absolute silence greeted her speech, for her eyes burned like live coals and her thin face was pale as death, except for a scarlet spot high on either cheek. In one shop she saw Miss Brooks, but though the teacher pitied the child with all her heart, and longed to comfort her, she knew this was no time to say anything, and was silent with the rest.
So at last the terrible ordeal was over and Tabitha dragged her feet wearily up the last slope toward home. Her father met her where she had left him, and greeted her with the remark, "Now, what have you to say for yourself, Tabitha Catt? She lifted her eyes full of scorching scorn and looked straight into his face so like her own, as she replied with passionate emphasis,  "That you're a beast, lean Manx Catt, and I'm ashamed of you!
Tom had preceded her to the house and evidently had told Aunt Maria, for when the child burst into the kitchen trailing the green gingham which she had picked up on her way, the worthy woman said never a word of reproach, but with trembling fingers helped her out of the queer little rig and laid it away herself among its crumpled wrappings, while down her withered cheek stole two tears of pity for the unhappy Tabitha.
Tabitha shook her head, but gave her aunt a grateful look as she rushed away to her room, slammed the door and crawled into bed, where she lay trembling with anger and humiliation too great for tears. The beauty of the day was gone, her pride in her school achievements was ruthlessly swept away, happiness in these new surroundings was dead.
Miss Brooks would be disappointed in her and give her only cold looks and maybe cross words. Probably even Carrie would no longer care to be her friend. At this thought the tears came, hot, passionate and bitter, and she sobbed convulsively under the pillow where she hid her head that no one might hear. It seemed as if her heart would break. Poor little Tabitha! Outside the sunset colors faded, the twilight deepened and night came on. The birds twittered sleepily in their nests, a night-hawk screeched across the sky, in the distance the coyotes howled dismally, and the ceaseless throbbing of the mines filled the desert quiet.
In the kitchen Aunt Maria clattered nervously around, upset dishes, spilled the tea, burned the toast and forgot the potatoes entirely, for her perplexed thoughts were with the sobbing child in bed; and the minute the remnants of the evening meal were cleared  away, the woman vanished into her room for the night. Tom tried to eat his supper, but the food choked him, and finding rest impossible at the house, he went out of doors and up the slope to the office, hopeful of finding work there to take his attention; but the door was locked.
He turned toward town with its dim, scattered lights, but they mocked him, and everywhere he looked he saw only the strained face of terrified Tabitha, seeming to reproach him for his relaxed vigilance, and he blamed himself bitterly for the calamity the day had brought upon her. At last he crept home again and went to bed, where in the anguish of his spirit, boy though he was, he dampened the pillow with a few salty tears. But strange as it may seem, Mr. Catt had the worst time of all. For the first time in all his selfish life he seemed to see things as they really were and to realize, in a measure, what a failure he had made of his fatherhood.
His slumbering conscience was roused and for a few hours he had an uncomfortable struggle with himself; but though he regretted his harshness, the habits of a lifetime are not laid  aside in a moment, and in the end he regarded himself as more sinned against than sinning. If only Fortune had favored him as it had some other people—if only his wife had been spared him—if only friends had been true to him, it might have been different.
Maybe he had been too severe with the girl, but she must be taught obedience. She was too much of a spitfire already, and there was no telling what she might do if some restraint was not put upon her. Still, perhaps a lighter punishment would have served the purpose just as well.
She was a bright child; yes, he would admit that. Maybe if she had looked a little more like the angel mother—and yet sometimes he could scarcely bear to look at the boy because in Tom's face he saw so often the warm tenderness that had endeared the mother to all who knew her, and the deep, soft brown eyes that always looked straight in one's face seemed to reproach him for his sternness and neglect.
He had mourned because the boy had not inherited the black hair and eyes and the disposition of the Catts, and now he was sorry because the girl had. He sighed; if only—. Tabitha had at last fallen asleep and in her slumber had tossed aside the suffocating pillow from her hot, throbbing head. He sat looking at the closed door for some minutes; then, hardly knowing why he did so, he rose and entered her room. She was still lying in a huddled heap, face down upon the mattress, but her head was turned to one side, exposing the flushed, tear-stained cheek and swollen lids where the tears were scarcely dry.
One thin arm was still curved beneath her head, but the other had slipped away from her face and lay stretched across the covers, the hand still loosely clutching a damp ball of handkerchief. The pathetic little figure, still quivering convulsively with every breath, touched the heart of the selfish man, and drawing a five-dollar gold piece from his pocket he slipped it inside the moist, brown fist. Then, as if realizing what a paltry thing gold is in comparison with love, he stooped over the flushed face and kissed it gently,—the first kiss he had ever given his little daughter.