Billy was cross. The twins from Grand Rapids who were living in the green cottage wanted him to play Indians on the beach. The boy from Detroit, whose mother didn't know where he was half the time, had been teasing him to go swimming. 'Phonse LeBrinn, child of Mackinaw, was throwing stones at the boat-house, a signal Billy well understood. When 'Phonse had a plan that promised more fun than usual, he always threw stones at the boat-house. Other boys came to the door and rang the bell or knocked when they wanted Billy. [Pg 2]'Phonse knew better. Billy longed to find out what was on his mind, but it wouldn't do to let any one know that the ragged little playmate had a particular reason for throwing stones.
Suddenly a light dawned on Billy's face. "Mamma," said he, "let me go down on the beach and tell Frenchy he must quit that, he'll spoil the paint. I won't be gone but a minute."
"Now, see here," remonstrated Billy's mother, "never mind what 'Phonse is doing, and keep away from the window, Billy, so he won't see you. Come, child, Aunt Florence will soon be ready."
"Oh, shoot the luck! I don't want to go with Aunt Florence. I want to play with the boys. What made Betty go and tell her all about old fort relics, I'd like to know."
"Hush, hush, Billy! Aunt Florence may hear you."
"Well, but, mamma, I don't want to go to the old fort and dig beads all the afternoon. It's too warm. I'm roasting."
Billy's mother laughed. One look at the child's face was enough to make anybody laugh. He was so cross. "Maybe auntie won't care to stay long, Billy. Strangers[Pg 3]who are not accustomed to our woods often feel pretty lonesome at the old fort."
"She'll stay, mamma; I know all about bead-diggers; they stay and stay. Besides that, she won't be afraid, because there are about a million thousand resorter folks up there every day digging relics. I wish that Betty had kept something to herself. She just reads that old Pontiac's history all the time, and then tells all she knows to anybody that wants to find out. She makes me tired. I don't like to go to the old fort, anyway."
"Why not, Billy?"
"'Cause everybody up there that don't know you asks questions. They say, 'There's a little boy, ask him;' then 'cause you don't want to talk, they say, 'Lost your tongue,' and silly things like that. Aunt Florence is a question asker, too, mamma. Oh, shoot the luck!"
"I'll tell you a good plan, Billy dear," suggested his mother. "You help Aunt Florence dig beads, like a good boy, and very likely she'll be willing to come home sooner. Then you can play with the boys the rest of the afternoon."
"May I play with Frenchy?"
"Ye-es, yes, you may this time."
Billy's face brightened suddenly. "Oh, goody, goody, there comes Betty," he cried. "Now I won't have to go. Where's my hat? Oh, Bet, you came just in time," continued the boy. "Aunt Florence wants you to go to the old fort with her to dig beads, because the missionary meeting's going to be here, and mamma says to entertain Aunt Florence. You've got to go, that's all."
"Of course she must go," echoed Aunt Florence, who came down-stairs in time to hear Billy's last words. "Didn't you find your little girl at home, Betty?"
"No, auntie, she had gone to the island, but I only came home for a minute to ask—"
"Well," interrupted Aunt Florence, "then of course you can go with Billy and me to the old fort."
"Guess—guess I won't go, Aunt Florence; there's a boy down there wants me," and Billy waved his hand to 'Phonse.
"Yes, Billy'll go with you," Betty hastened to say, "because—because, Aunt Florence, I can't. I'd love to, but I must go to see an[Pg 5]other girl. I'd love to walk up there with you, but—but I—"
"You needn't go if you don't want to, children," Aunt Florence looked the least bit grieved.
"Certainly they want to go," declared Billy's mother, in a tone that Betty and Billy understood. "Go find your little shovels, children, and bring Aunt Florence the fire shovel from the wood-shed."
Billy was about to venture a protest, but, catching a look from Betty that meant a great deal to him, he followed her out of the room.
"What is it, Bet?" he whispered.
"Well, Billy, don't you see it won't do a bit of good to make a fuss. We'll have to go to the old fort; mamma'll make us. But I know one way to fix it so we won't have to stay long. The Robinsons are making pineapple sherbet, and they've invited me to it, so I can't waste time up to the old fort this afternoon. I told Lucille I'd come right straight back soon's I asked mamma."
"And I want to play with Frenchy," put in the little brother.
"But don't you see, Billy, we've got to be[Pg 6] decent to company first, so we'll take her to the old fort all right enough, but we'll scare her to death when we get her there, so she'll want to come right straight home. Don't you see? I'll tell her true wild Indian stories, and she won't want to stay."
"And I know another thing we can do," agreed Billy.
"What is it?"
"We'll take your old fort beads and then, Betty, we'll break the string and scatter the beads in the dirt, and then we'll call her to come and find them. She'll be satisfied to come home after that."
"Why, of course, Billy, and your plan is so much better than mine, we'll try it first. We won't scare her unless we have to, though a good scare never hurts anybody. You get the beads while I get the shovels. Hurry now, we'll have some fun."
Mrs. Grannis was much relieved when the children returned with pleasant faces. Aunt Florence, too, was pleased.
"I truly wouldn't want you to go a step unless you were perfectly willing," she said, as they were leaving the house.
"Well, auntie, we're always willing to go anywhere, Billy and I, if we think we can have some fun, and we're going to have a jolly time this afternoon, aren't we, Billy?"
The little brother's round face beamed as he felt of the beads in his trousers' pocket.
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