Capital Fun



‘T was a little past twelve o’clock, and a merry group of boys were seated on the young grass under the trees that shaded the academy playgrounds.  A little later they would be scattered in every direction at their play; but first they must attend to the contents of the well filled pails and baskets, where their dinners are stored away.

“I should like to know,” said Howard Colby, “Why Joe Green never comes out here to eat his dinner with the rest of us, but always sneaks off somewhere till we all get through!”

“Guess he brings so many goodies he is afraid we shall rob him,” said another.

“Pooh!” said Will Brown, throwing himself back upon the grass, “more likely he doesn’t bring anything at all.  I heard my father say the family must be badly pinched since Mr. Green was killed; and mother said she didn’t pity them, for folks had no business to be poor and proud.”

“Well,” said Sam Merrill, ”I know Mary Green asked my mother to let her have her plain sewing to do;  but then, folks do that sometimes that aren’t very poor.”

“And Joe is wearing his winter clothes in all this warm weather, and his pants are patched behind;

“I saw them,” said Howard Colby, with a very complacent look at his new spring suit of light gray.

“I tell you what boys,” said Will Brown, “Let’s look tomorrow, and see what the old fellow does bring, anyway.  You know he is always in his seat by the time the first bell rings, we can get a peep into his basket, and then be in season for the roll call.”

The boys agreed to this, all but Ned Collins, who had quietly eaten his dinner, and had taken no part in the conversation.  Now he simply remarked, as he brushed the crumbs from his lap, “I can’t see what fun there will be in that, and it looks real mean and sneaking to me.  I’m sure it’s none of our business what Joe brings for dinner or where he goes to eat it.”

“You’re always such a granny, Ned Collins,” said Will Brown contemptuously.  “You’ve got every one of you’re old Aunt Sally’s notions.”

Ned would not bear to be laughed at, and it made him a little angry to hear his kind old Aunt sneered at; but his eyes only flashed for a minute, then he sprang up shouting, “Hurrah, boys for football!”

And in five minutes the whole playground was in an uproar of fun and frolic.

Then next morning at the first stroke of the bell, a half dozen roguish faces peeped into the school room, and, sure enough, there was Joe Green busily plying his pencil over the problems of the algebra lesson.  It was but the work of an instant to hurry into the little clothes room; and soon the whole group were pressing around Will Brown, as he held the mysterious basket in his hand.  Among them, in spite of the remonstrance of yesterday, was Ned Collins, with his fine face fairly crimson with shame, or something else; we shall see.

“It is big enough to hold a day’s rations for a regiment,” said Howard Colby, as Will pulled out a nice white napkin. Next came a whole news-paper, large one too; and then in the bottom of the basket was one poor little cold potato.

That was all.  Will held it up with a comical grimace, and the boys laughed and cheered as loudly as they dared in the schoolhouse.

“See here,” said Howard, “let’s throw it away and fill the basket with coal and things; it will be such fun to see him open it.”

“The boys agreed,” and the basket was soon filled, and the napkin placed carefully on the top; and before the bell commenced tolling they were on their way down stairs.

Ned Collins was the last one to leave the room, and no sooner did the last head disappear than, quick as a flash, he emptied the coal into the box again, replaced the paper, and half-filled the basket, large as it was, with the content of the bright tin pail that Aunt Sally delighted to store with dainties for his dinner.

Ned was in his seat almost as soon as the rest, and all through the forenoon he looked and felt as guilty as the others, as he saw the sly looks and winks that were exchanged among them.

Noon came, and there was the usual rush to the clothes room for dinner baskets, but instead of going out to the yard, the boys lingered about the door and hall.

Straight by them marched Ned Collins, with his pail on his arm.

“Hello, Ned,” Said Sam Merrill, where are you going now?

“Home,” said Ned laughing.,

“I saw Aunt Sally making a pie this morning, and they can’t cheat me out of my share.”

“Ask me to go too,” shouted Howard Coby; but just at that moment they spied Joe Green carrying his basket into the school room, I should think he would suspect something” whispered Will Brown; “that coal must be awful heavy,”

Joe disappeared in the school room and the curious eyes that peeped through the crack of the door were soon rewarded by seeing him open his basket.

“Hope his dinner won’t lie hard on his stomach,” whispered Howard Colby.  But Joe only wanted to get his paper read; for he took it by the corner and pulled, but it was fast.

He looked in, in surprise, and then in a bewildered way took out a couple of Aunt Sally’s great crispy doughnuts, then one of the delicious round pies he had so often seen in Ned’s hands; bread and butter, and such honey as nobody’s bees but hers ever made.

It was a dinner fit for a king, so poor Joe shadow thought, and so the boys thought, as they peeped wonderingly from their hiding place.  But Joe did not offer to taste it; he only sat there and looked at it with a very pale face, over which the tears began presently to flow very fast. Then he laid his head on his desk, and Freddy Wilson, one of the smallest boys, whispered, “I guess he’s praying” so they all stole away to the playground without speaking another word.

“That’s some of Ned Collin’s work” said Will Brown after a while; “it’s just like him.”

“I’m glad of it, anyway, anyway,” said Sam Merrill;

“I’ve felt as mean all the forenoon as if I had been robbing a hen roost.

The greens are not to blame for having only cold potatoes to eat, and I don’t wonder Joe didn’t want us fellows to know it.”

“I Like Joe Green best of any boy in the school,” said little Freddy Wilson, “and I think it was too bad to try to make fun of him.”

“Nobody asked you what you thought.” Said Will Brown Fiercely; “wait till your opinion is called for.”

The little boy looked very meek, and ate his dinner in silence; but the fact was, Will Brown began to feel uncomfortable.

“Father says Mr. Green was the bravest man in the company,” said Sam Merrill, “and that he wouldn’t have been killed, only he thought of everyone else before himself.”

“I tell you what, boys,” said good-natured Tom Granger, “I move and second that we are all ashamed of ourselves; all in favor of this motion will signify it by giving three cheers for Ned Collins—there he comes this minute, brimful of pie.”

The boys sprang to their feet, and, swinging their caps in the air, gave three hearty cheers for Ned Collins, and even Will Brown Joined in the chorus with as a loud “Hurrah” as any of them.  Sam Merrill explained the whole matter to Ned, and he only said in reply, I’ve often heard Aunt Sally say ‘that is a poor kind of fun that must be earned by hurting somebody’s feelings,’ and what Aunt Sally says is ‘most always so.”


Emily Huntington Miller