THE ADVENTURES OF JOEL PEPPER
THE ADVENTURES OF JOEL PEPPER
[Illustration: "'WHY IT'S THE MAN WHO STOLE POLLY'S BREAD!' HE ALMOST
I. JOEL AND THE SNAKE
II. WHAT DAVE HEARD
III. DEACON BROWN'S NAIL PILE
IV. THE MUFFIN MAN AND THE TRAMP
V. ON BANDY LEG MOUNTAIN
VI. AB'M'S BIRTHDAY PARTY
VII. JOEL GOES A-FISHING
VIII. WHY THEY SAID NO
IX. THE BAG OF RYE FLOUR
X. MAMSIE'S SURPRISE
XI. DR. FISHER'S VISIT
XII. AT GRANDMA BASCOM'S
XIII. PASSENGERS FOR THE BOXFORD STAGE
XIV. DEACON BLODGETT'S BONFIRE
XV. OLD MAN PETERS' CENT
XVI. THE STAGE-COACH RIDE
XVII. THE FIGHT AT STRAWBERRY HILL
XVIII. IN THE LITTLE BROWN HOUSE
XIX. CIRCUS PLANS
XX. CIRCUS OR MENAGERIE?
XXI. JOEL'S CIRCUS
XXII. THE MINISTER'S CHICKENS
XXIII. THE BLACKBERRIES AND THE BULL
XXIV. HOW JOEL STARTED THE FIRE
XXV. JOEL SELLS SHOES FOR MR. BEEBE
XXVI. Miss PARROTT'S COACH AND THE COASTING
XXVII. PRINCES AND PRINCESSES
THE ADVENTURES OF JOEL PEPPER
JOEL AND THE SNAKE
"Come on Dave!"
It was Joel's voice and Polly pricked up her ears. "'Tisn't
going to hurt you. Hoh! you're a 'fraid-cat--old 'fraid-cat!"
"No I'm not 'fraid-cat" declared little Davie trying to speak
stoutly; "I'm coming Joel" and his little rusty shoes pattered
unevenly down the rickety board walk.
"Jo-_el_!" called Polly thinking it quite time now to
Joel scuttled behind the old woodshed and several smothered
grunts proclaimed his disapproval at the interruption.
"Now I know you're up to some mischief" declared Polly "so you
just come into the house Joel Pepper and tell me what it is."
"'Tisn't" said Joel loudly insisting. "_Don't go Dave_"
in a loud whisper. Thereupon ensued a lively scuffle evidently
by the noise they made.
"I must" said little Davie; "Polly called us."
"No she didn't call _you_" declared Joel. "You stay here.
She said 'Joel.'"
"Bo-_oys_!" sang out Polly's voice not to have any doubt
in the matter.
"There she did call me" cried Davie wriggling to get free
from Joel's clutch; "she said 'boys!'"
"She's always calling us" said Joel in an injured voice
dragging himself away from the charms of the woodshed to
straggle slowly back to the house.
There sat Polly on the big stone that served as a step for the
back door with her hands folded in her lap. Little Davie
skipped by Joel and ran up to her with a flushed face.
"Now I should like to know what you've been up to Joey Pepper?"
said Polly her brown eyes full on him.
"Haven't been up to anything" mumbled Joel hanging his chubby
"Yes you have I know" declared Polly in her most positive
fashion; "now tell me what it is and right straight off Joel.
Begin." She kept her hands still folded in her lap. "What were
you going to do?"
Joel squirmed all over the little patch of ground before the
flat doorstone and dug the toes of his shoes into the dirt.
"Don't do so" cried Polly. "You'll get bigger holes in 'em. Oh
Joel to think how naughty you are and Mamsie away!"
At that Joel gave a loud howl nearly upsetting Polly from her
stone; then digging his two fists into his eyes he plunged
forward and thrust his black head on the folded hands in her lap.
"I ain't naughty" he screamed. "I ain't and Mamsie won't care.
"Tell me what you were going to do before I can say you are not
naughty" said Polly dreadfully frightened at his outburst but
not unfolding her hands.
"I was only going to--going to--going to--" mumbled Joel trying
to burrow past her hands and get into the comforting lap.
"Going to do what?" demanded Polly still not moving.
"I was going to--going to--" said Joel in smothered tones.
"Stop saying you were going to" commanded Polly in her firmest
"You told me to tell you" said Joel. "O dear! I was going to--"
"Well tell then at once; what were you going to do? Hurry up
Joe; now go on."
"I was going to--" began Joel again. "O dear me! I was going to--"
he mumbled burrowing deeper yet.
"Joel Pepper!" cried Polly in a tone that brought him bolt
upright his round face streaked with tears that his dirty
little hands had tried to wipe off the rest of them trailing
over his round nose. "O dear me! Now you must go into the
'provision room' and stay. Don't you remember Mamsie said you'd
have to go there the next time you wouldn't tell what you'd
done?" And Polly looked as if she were going to cry at once.
"Oh no--no!" screamed Joel in the greatest distress and
clutching Polly's arm. "I'll tell you Polly; I'll tell." And he
began to rattle off a lot of words but Polly stopped him.
"No it's too late now. I've said it and you must go; for
Mamsie wouldn't like it if you didn't."
Thereupon Joel gave a terrible howl. Little Davie in distress
clapped his hands to his ears. "Oh Polly don't make him" he
was saying when heavy steps came around the corner of the house.
"Any ra-ags to sell?" sang out the voice of a very big man.
Joel took one black eye away from his brown hands and shot a
sharp look at him. Then he howled worse than ever.
"No" said Polly "not to-day Mr. Biggs. There was a bagful
Mamsie said I might sell but I can't get it now."
"Sho! that's too bad" ejaculated Mr. Biggs. "What's the matter
with him?" pointing a square dingy thumb at Joel. "Stomach-ache?"
"No" said Polly sadly "it's worse than that. Please go away
Mr. Biggs and come some other day."
"Worse'n stomach-ache" said Mr. Biggs in astonishment and
slapping his big hands together; "then I can't take him with me.
But t'other one might go if you say so marm." He always called
Polly marm and she liked it very much. He now pointed to David.
"Where are you going?" asked Polly while
David took away his hands from his ears to hear too.
"Why you see marm Mis' Pettingill up to th'East Quarter--you
know Mis' Pettingill?"
"No" said Polly.
"I do" roared Joel forgetting his distress. "I know Polly.
She lives in a nice yellow house and there's a duck-pond and
cherry trees." He pranced up to Mr. Biggs smiling through his
"That's it" cried Mr. Biggs delighted at being understood.
"This boy knows." He laid his hand heavily on Joel's shoulder.
"Well he seems to be better now so I'll take him and t'other
one along of me marm if you say so. Ye see Mis' Pettingill
told me to come up there sometime 'cause she's got a lot o'
rags--ben a-makin' quilts she said all winter and I laid out
to go to-day so here I be on my way."
"Whickets!" shouted Joel the last tear gone. "Come on Dave. Oh
won't we have fun! I'm going to sit in the middle. Let me drive.
Let me Mr. Biggs." He swarmed all over the big rag-man.
Little David stood perfectly still and clasped his hands in
[Illustration: "'WHICKETS!' SHOUTED JOEL THE LAST TEAR GONE"]
Polly drew a long breath and the rosy color flew out of her
cheek. "You can't go Joe" she said slowly. "Mamsie wouldn't
like it after you've been naughty."
Joel's arms fell down at his side and he stared wildly at her a
moment. Then he flung himself flat on the ground and roared.
"He's worse agin" said Mr. Biggs in great distress. "I guess
he wants pep'mint. My mother used to give me that when I'd et
But Polly shook her head. "He can't go Mr. Biggs" she said;
"but Davie can."
At this little Davie gave a squeal of joy and took three steps
down the grass plot but stopped suddenly.
"All right" said Mr. Biggs heartily. "Come on boy; I must be
off. It's a good piece down to Mis' Pettingill's. And she always
wants me to take time a-weighin' her rags." And he began to
"I don't want to go if Joel can't" said Davie slowly and
turning his back to the red rag-wagon waiting out in the road.
He twisted his fingers hard and kept saying "No I don't want
to go Polly if Joel can't."
"All right Davie" said Polly beginning to cuddle him; "only
you must remember Mr. Biggs won't go again this summer out to
Mrs. Pettingill's most likely."
Davie shook his head again and twisted his fingers worse than
ever. "I don't want to go if Joel can't" he said while Joel
roared harder still if that were possible. So Polly had to run
down the grassy slope to overtake Mr. Biggs who was now getting
up into his red cart in front of the dangling tin dishes
brooms and pails with which it was filled.
"If you please sir" she said the rosy color all over her
cheek "there can't either of the boys go."
"Hey? What's the matter with the littlest one" cried Mr. Biggs
turning around with one foot on the shaft. "Is he took sick
"No--no" said Polly clasping her hands in distress "but he
won't go unless Joel goes. Oh I do thank you so much Mr. Biggs
for asking them."
"Sho now! that's too bad" said the rag-man his foot still on
the shaft and his big face wrinkled perplexedly. "Beats all
how suddint they're took. Now you better give 'em a dose o'
pep'mint marm both on 'em."
But Polly shook her head as she ran back up the grassy slope
again. So Mr. Biggs had nothing to do but to drive off which he
did staring hard at them; and every little while he turned back
to gaze in astonishment over his shoulder until the big red
wagon went round the slope of the hill and was lost to view.
"Now Joel" said Polly firmly "you must just stop making such
a noise and go right into the provision room and get the stool
and sit down till I tell you to get up."
To sit down on the old wooden stool in the middle of the
provision room with the door shut was one of the worst
punishments that Mrs. Pepper inflicted; and Polly's cheek got
quite white. Little Davie on seeing this untwisted his fingers
and went up to her. "Don't cry Polly" he said suddenly as he
saw her face and laid his hand in hers.
Joel stopped roaring and looked up at her through his tears.
"I'm not going to cry" said Polly "because I know Joel will be
good now and go at once and get on his stool in the provision
Joel swallowed hard and stumbled up to his feet wiping his
cheeks with the back of one grimy hand.
"That's right" said Polly; "now go right in and shut the door."
"O dear me" said little Davie hiding his face in Polly's gown
as Joel went slowly off. They could hear the provision room door
shut. Then Polly turned. "Oh Davie" she cried. Then she
stopped at the sight of his face.
"Now you and I must go in the house and think of something to do
for Mamsie before she gets home" she cried in a cheery burst.
So they both hurried in over the old flat stone.
"Now what will it be Davie?" asked Polly with another glance
at his pale little face. "Let's think" she wrinkled her brows
"We can't wash the dishes" said Davie slowly standing quite
still in the middle of the old kitchen "'cause they're all done
"No and we can't wash the floor 'cause that's all done" said
Polly wrinkling her forehead worse than ever. "Dear me we must
think of something Davie. O dear me what can it be?"
"We might" said little David slowly "try to write some
letters Polly. That would make Mamsie glad I guess."
"O dear me" exclaimed Polly in dismay "I suppose it would
Davie." She sighed and stood quite still.
"I s'pose Mamsie would say 'How nice'" said little David
"And you and I ought to get right at it this very minute"
declared Polly all her energy returning to her after that one
dreadful pause "so come on." And presently the two had the old
table against the wall pulled out into the middle of the kitchen
floor and Polly ran and got the big piece of foolscap paper
laid away carefully in the upper bureau drawer in the bedroom.
Across the top ran the letters set there by the minister in
obedience to Mrs. Pepper's request.
"I'll get the brown paper--let me Polly" cried David quite in
his usual spirits now. And he clambered up and got out a
carefully folded piece laid away after it had come home wrapped
around one of the parcels of coats and sacks Mrs. Pepper had
taken to sew.
"Won't it be most beautiful when we can write on the white paper
Polly?" he cried as he ran back into the kitchen waving the brown
paper at her.
Polly set the precious copy along the top of the white foolscap
straight on the table.
"Oh that will be a long time Davie" she said gazing in an
awe-struck way at the array of wonderful letters Parson
Henderson had made for them. "Mamsie won't ever let us try until
we can make 'em good and straight. O dear me I don't s'pose
I'll ever get a chance." She sighed; for writing bothered Polly
dreadfully. "The old pen twists all up whenever I get it in my
hand and everything goes crooked."
"Oh Polly you're going to write real nice by and by" said
little Davie setting down the brown paper and smoothing out
the creases. "Now where's the ink-bottle? Let me get it Polly
do" he begged running over to the corner cupboard.
"No you mustn't Dave" said Polly in alarm "you'll spill it.
I'll get it" hurrying after him.
"I won't spill it Polly"--but Polly was already on her tiptoes
and lifting down the old black ink-horn that had been Father
Pepper's. "Isn't it nice that Mrs. Henderson filled it up for us
so good?" she said carrying it over carefully to set on the
table. "You can get the pen Davie."
So David ran over to the shelf where in a corner behind the
little china mug given to Phronsie when she was a baby lay the
pen in its long black holder. Getting up on a chair he seized
"If Phronsie hadn't gone with Mamsie she'd want to write" he
said "wouldn't she Polly?" as he hopped down again.
"Yes indeed" said Polly drawing up the inkstand into the best
place and sighing. "Well dear me I'd ever so much rather hold
her hand while she writes than to do it myself." And she gave a
"Then you wouldn't ever learn yourself" said little Davie
wisely and putting the pen down carefully.
"No" said Polly with a little laugh "I s'pose I shouldn't
Davie." O dear me she thought I ought not to laugh when Joel's
in there all alone in the provision room. "Well now we're all
ready. I'm just going to peek and see if he's all right. You
stay here Davie."
With that she hopped off down the little steps to look through
the big crack in the old door of the provision room.
"Why--where--" she started back and rubbed her eyes and stared
again. "Oh! Davie" she screamed. Then she clapped her hands
over her mouth. "It never'd do to scare him" she said. And she
opened the provision room door and rushed in. The old stool
stood in the middle of the floor but there was no Joel to be
Polly ran here and there. "Joel--_Joel_!" she cried
peering into every corner and looking into the potato bag and
behind some boxes that the storekeeper had given the boys to
make things out of and that were kept as great treasures. "O
dear me what shall I do? I must tell Davie now so he can help
me find him--" when she heard a funny noise and rushing outside
she heard Joel say "Don't come Polly he's 'most dead."
Polly gave a gasp and bounded to his side as Joel flopped
around on the ground his back toward her his black eyes
fastened on something doubled up in his fists.
"O dear me Joel what is it?" cried Polly bending over him.
"Ow--go way!" roared Joel twisting worse than ever and
squeezing his brown hands together tightly; "he'll get away
maybe and bite you."
"Oh he'll bite you Joe" cried Polly in great alarm. "O dear
me let me see what it is! I can help Joel I can help."
She flung herself down on the ground close to his side. Just
then out rushed Davie from the provision room.
"Keep him away keep him away" screamed Joel trying to turn
his back on both of them. But Polly caught sight of a dangling