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A Busy Year at the Old Squire's by C. A. Stephens

Exclaimed Theodora reprovingly


"Come

on," he said in a queer, low tone. "Let's go find Theodora and Nell. I guess we'd better go home--if it's coming on night in the middle of the afternoon."

He tried to laugh, for Addison had always prided himself on being free from all superstition. But I saw that he was startled; and he admitted afterwards that he, too, had remembered about that rainbow in the morning, and had also thought of the comet that had appeared a few years before and that many people believed to presage the end of the world.

We started to run back, but it had already grown so dark that we had to pay special heed to our steps. We could not walk fast. To this day I remember how strange and solemn the chanting of the whippoorwills and the hoarse _skook_! of the nighthawks sounded to me. No doubt I was frightened. It was exactly like evening; the same chill was in the air.

At last we reached the place where we had left the others, but they were not there. Addison called to Theodora and Ellen several times in low, suppressed tones; I, too, felt a great disinclination to shout or speak aloud.

"I guess they've all gone back where we left the wagon," Addison said at last.

We made our way through the tangled bushes, brush and woods, down to Otter Brook. In the darkness we went a little astray from the place where we had unharnessed the horse;

but presently, as we were moving about in the brushwood, we heard a low voice say:

"Is that you, Ad?"

It was Theodora; and immediately we came upon them all, sitting together forlornly there in the wagon. They had hitched up Old Sol and were anxiously waiting for us in order to start for home. The strange phenomenon seemed to have dazed them; they sat there in the dark as silent as so many mice.

"Hello, girls!" Addison exclaimed. "Are you all there? Quite dark, isn't it?"

"Oh, Ad, what do you think this is?" Theodora asked, still in the same hushed voice.

"Well, I think it is _dark_," replied Addison, trying to appear unconcerned.

"Don't laugh, Ad," said Theodora solemnly. "Something awful has happened."

"And where have you two been so long?" asked Catherine. "We thought you were lost. We thought you would never come. What time is it?"

We struck a match and looked. It was nearly half past four.

"Oh, get in, Ad, and take the reins! Let's go home!" Ellen pleaded.

"Yes, Ad, let's go home, if we can get there," said Tom Edwards. "What d'ye suppose it is, anyhow?"

"_Dark!_" exclaimed Addison hardily. "Just plain dark!"

"Oh, Addison!" exclaimed Theodora reprovingly. "Don't try to joke about a thing like this."

"It may be the end of the world," Ellen murmured.

"The world has had a good many ends to it," said Addison. "Which end do you think this is, Nell?"

But neither Ellen nor Theodora cared to reply to him. Their low, frightened voices increased my uneasiness. I could think of nothing except that rainbow in the morning; "morning," "warning," seemed to ring in my ears.


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