Edna and Cousin Ben Barker were on the back porch. It was a favorite place, for it was always shady there in summer and out of the wind on cold days. If big Cousin Ben did not always like to be where Edna was, on the other hand Edna invariably sought out Cousin Ben if he were to be found about the premises.
On this special afternoon he was doing something to his wheel, getting it in order for a long ride which he had planned for the next day. Edna stood watching him, ready to hand a tool or run for a piece of rag to be used in cleaning, or to fill the oil can from the bottle on the shelf upstairs.
“Where are you going to-day, Cousin Ben?” Edna always asked this for Cousin Ben’s replies were generally so funny.
“I’m going to the woods,” he said, “to see Johnny-jump-up.”
“Why will he jump up?” asked Edna in pleased expectancy of something amusing.
“Because the dog-wood bark, you know.”
“I know dog-wood blossoms,” returned Edna a little doubtfully.
“Of course, and I dare say you know the dog-wood bark, too, don’t you?”
“Ye-es, I suppose so.”
Cousin Ben went on burnishing the metal he was at work upon. “You see,” he continued after a moment, “the catkins will all be out and when I meet one I shall say, ‘Pussy, will oh, will you tell me the way to the elder Berries.’”
“What do you suppose she will say?” inquired Edna settling herself well content to continue this sort of talk, though thinking it was scarcely the season for Pussy-willows.
“She will say: ‘The elder Berry? My dear boy, any dog ought to know the way there.’ You see she knows I am a Barker.”
Edna laughed. “Go on.”
“And I will say, ‘Yes, madam, but that sassy Fras always tries to get in my path. It is a very easy matter to whip poor Will, but sassy Fras is another matter.’ Then she will ask: ‘Did you ever try to haze L. Nutt?’ and I will reply, ‘Chestnuts!’ for I don’t like to talk about hazing, being in a position to expect a little of it any day. Well, Ande, I must be off or I will find Pip’s sis away.” Cousin Ben always called Edna Ande because he declared that was what her name really was but had been turned hind side before. Some persons, Edna’s sister Celia and Agnes Evans, for instance, called Cousin Ben a very silly boy, but Edna thought his kind of nonsense great fun.
It was an afternoon in autumn. For some time past, Edna and her sister had been going into the city to school every day, but this was the last week when this would be done, for after this they would go only on Mondays returning on Fridays till the days became long again. During the winter when it was still dark at seven in the morning, and when the afternoons were so short, it had seemed better that they should not come home every day. Therefore, as Aunt Elizabeth Horner and Uncle Justus wanted much to have them remain, it was so arranged. Edna was a great favorite with her Uncle Justus, for she had spent the winter previous at his house and had gone to his school....