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How They Camped Out
by [?]

“It looks so much like snow I think it would be wiser to put off your sleighing party, Gwen,” said Mrs. Arnold, looking anxiously out at the heavy sky and streets still drifted by the last winter storm.

“Not before night, mamma; we don’t mind its being cloudy, we like it, because the sun makes the snow so dazzling when we get out of town. “We can’t give it up now, for here comes Patrick with the boys.” And Gwen ran down to welcome the big sleigh, which just then drove up with four jolly lads skirmishing about inside.

“Come on!” called Mark, her brother, knocking his friends right and left, to make room for the four girls who were to complete the party.

“What do you think of the weather, Patrick?” asked Mrs. Arnold from the window, still undecided about the wisdom of letting her flock go off alone, papa having been called away after the plan was made.

“Faith, ma’m, it’s an illigant day barring the wind, that’s a thrifle could to the nose. I’ll have me eye on the childer, ma’m, and there’ll be no throuble at all, at all,” replied the old coachman, lifting a round red face out of his muffler, and patting little Gus on the shoulder, as he sat proudly on the high seat holding the whip.

“Be careful, dears, and come home early.”

With which parting caution mamma shut the window, and watched the young folks drive gayly away, little dreaming what would happen before they got back.

The wind was more than a “thrifle could,” for when they got out of the city it blew across the open country in bitter blasts, and made the eight little noses almost as red as old Pat’s, who had been up all night at a wake, and was still heavy-headed with too much whiskey, though no one suspected it.

The lads enjoyed themselves immensely snowballing one another; for the drifts were still fresh enough to furnish soft snow, and Mark, Bob, and Tony had many a friendly tussle in it as they went up hills, or paused to breathe the horses after a swift trot along a level bit of road. Little Gus helped drive till his hands were benumbed in spite of the new red mittens, and he had to descend among the girls, who were cuddled cosily under the warm robes, telling secrets, eating candy, and laughing at the older boys’ pranks.

Sixteen-year-old Gwendoline was matron of the party, and kept excellent order among the girls; for Ruth and Alice were nearly her own age, and Rita a most obedient younger sister.

“I say, Gwen, we are going to stop at the old house on the way home and get some nuts for this evening. Papa said we might, and some of the big Baldwins too. I’ve got baskets, and while we fellows fill them you girls can look round the house,” said Mark, when the exhausted young gentlemen returned to their seats.

“That will be nice. I want to get some books, and Rita has been very anxious about one of her dolls, which she is sure was left in the nursery closet. If we are going to stop we ought to be turning back, Pat, for it is beginning to snow and will be dark early,” answered Gwen, suddenly realizing that great flakes were fast whitening the roads and the wind had risen to a gale.

“Shure and I will, miss dear, as soon as iver I can; but it’s round a good bit we must go, for I couldn’t be turning here widout upsettin’ the whole of yez, it’s that drifted. Rest aisy, and I’ll fetch up at the ould place in half an hour, plaze the powers,” said Pat, who had lost his way and wouldn’t own it, being stupid with a sup or two he had privately taken on the way, to keep the chill out of his bones he said.