Read CHAPTER I - THE "LEFT OVERS" of Killykinick , free online book, by Mary T. Waggaman, on ReadCentral.com.

It was the week after Commencement. The corridors, class-rooms, and study hall of Saint Andrew’s stretched in dim, silent vistas; over the tennis court and the playground there brooded a dead calm; the field, scene of so many strenuous struggles, lay bare and still in the summer sunlight; the quadrangle, that so lately had rung to parting cheer and “yell,” might have been a cloister for midnight ghosts to walk. The only sign or sound of life came from the open archways of the Gym, where the “left overs” (as the boys who for various reasons had been obliged to summer at Saint Andrew’s) were working off the steam condensed, as Jim Norris declared, to the “busting” point by the last seven days.

A city-bound college has its limitations, and vacation at Saint Andrew’s promised to be a very dull affair indeed. The “left overs” had tried everything to kill time. At present their efforts seemed bent on killing themselves; for Jim Norris and Dud Fielding, sturdy fellows of fourteen, were doing stunts on the flying trapeze worthy of professional acrobats; while Dan Dolan, swinging from a high bar, was urging little Fred Neville to a precarious poise on his shoulder.

Freddy was what may be called a perennial “left over.” He had been the “kid” of Saint Andrew’s since he was five years old, when his widowed father had left him in a priestly uncle’s care, and had disappeared no one knew how or where. And as Uncle Tom’s chosen path lay along hard, lofty ways that small boys could not follow, Fred had been placed by special privilege in Saint Andrew’s to grow up into a happy boyhood, the pet and plaything of the house. He was eleven now, with the fair face and golden hair of his dead girl-mother, and brown eyes that had a boyish sparkle all their own.

They looked up dubiously at Dan now, “daring Dan,” who for the last year had been Freddy’s especial chum; and to be long-legged, sandy-haired, freckle-nosed Dan’s chum was an honor indeed for a small boy of eleven. Dan wore frayed collars and jackets much too small for him; his shoes were stubby-toed and often patched; he made pocket money in various ways, by “fagging” and odd jobbing for the big boys of the college. But he led the classes and games of the Prep with equal success; and even now the Latin class medal was swinging from the breast of his shabby jacket.

Dan had been a newsboy in very early youth; but, after a stormy and often broken passage through the parochial school, he had won a scholarship at Saint Andrew’s over all competitors.

“An’ ye’ll be the fool to take it,” Aunt Winnie had said when he brought the news home to the little attic rooms where she did tailor’s finishing, and took care of Dan as well as a crippled old grandaunt could. “With all them fine gentlemen’s sons looking down on ye for a beggar!”

“Let them look,” Dan had said philosophically. “Looks don’t hurt, Aunt Win. It’s my chance and I’m going to take it.”

And he was taking it bravely when poor Aunt Win’s rheumatic knees broke down utterly, and she had to go to the “Little Sisters,” leaving Dan to summer with the other “left overs” at Saint Andrew’s.

“Swing up,” he repeated, stretching a sturdy hand to Fred. “Don’t be a sissy. One foot on each of my shoulders, and catch on to the bar above my head. That will steady you.”

Freddy hesitated. It was rather a lofty height for one of his size.

“You can’t hold me,” he said. “I’m too heavy.”

“Too heavy!” repeated Dan, laughing down on the slender, dapper little figure at his feet. “Gee whilikins, I wouldn’t even feel you!”

This was too much for any eleven-year-old to stand. Freddy was not very well. Brother Timothy had been dosing him for a week or more, and these long hot summer days made his legs feel queer and his head dizzy. It was rather hard sometimes to keep up with Dan, who was making the most of his holiday, as he did of everything that came in his way. Freddy was following him loyally, in spite of the creeps and chills that betrayed malaria. But now his brown eyes flashed fire.

“You’re a big brag, Dan Dolan!” he said, stung by such a taunt at his size and weight. “Just you try me!”

And catching Dan’s hand he made a spring to his waist and a reckless scramble to his shoulders.

“Hooray!” said Dan, cheerily. “Steady now, and hold on to the bar!”

“Do you feel me now?” said Fred, pressing down with all his small weight on the sturdy figure beneath him.

“A mite!” answered Dan. “Sort of like a mosquito had lit on me up there.”

“Do you feel me now?” said Fred, bringing his heels down with a dig.

“Look out now!” cried Dan, sharply. “Don’t try dancing a jig up there. Hold to the bar.”

But the warning came too late. The last move was too much for the half-sick boy. Freddy’s head began to turn, his legs gave way he reeled down to the floor, and, white and senseless, lay at Dan’s feet.

In the big, book-lined study beyond the quadrangle, Father Regan was settling final accounts prior to the series of “retreats” he had promised for the summer; while Brother Bart, ruddy and wrinkled as a winter apple, “straightened up,” gathering waste paper and pamphlets as his superior cast them aside, dusting book-shelves and mantel, casting the while many an anxious, watchful glance through the open window. The boys were altogether too quiet this morning. Brother Bart distrusted boyish quiet. For the “Laddie,” as he had called Freddy since the tiny boy had been placed six years ago in his special care, was the idol of the good man’s heart. He had washed and dressed and tended him in those early years with almost a woman’s tenderness, and was watching with jealous anxiety as Laddie turned from childish ways into paths beyond his care. Dan Dolan was Brother Bart’s especial fear Dan Dolan, who belonged to the rough outside world from which Laddie had been shielded; Dan Dolan, who, despite tickets and medals, Brother Bart felt was no mate for a little gentleman like his boy.

“They’re quarely still this morning,” he said at last, giving voice to his fear. “I’m thinking they are at no good.”

“Who?” asked Father Regan, looking up from the letter he was reading.

“The boys,” answered Brother Bart, “the four of them that was left over with us.”

“Four of them?” repeated the Father, who, with the closing of the schools, had felt the burden of his responsibilities drop. “True, true! I quite forgot we have four boys with us. It must be dull for the poor fellows.”

“Dull!” echoed Brother Bart, grimly, “dull is it, yer reverence? It’s in some divilment they are from morning until night. There’s no rule for vacation days, as Mr. Linton says; and so the four of them are running wild as red Indians, up in the bell tower, and in the ice pond that’s six feet deep with black water, and scampering over the highest ledge of the dormitory roof, till my heart nearly leaps from my mouth.”

“Poor fellows!” said Father Regan, indulgently. “It’s hard on them, of course. Let me see! Colonel Fielding and his wife are in the Philippines, I remember, and asked to leave Dudley with us; and Judge Norris couldn’t take Will with him to Japan; and there’s our own little Fred of course, we always have him; and ”

“That dare-devil of a Dan Dolan, that’s the worst of all!” burst forth Brother Bart. “It’s for me sins he was left here, I know; with the Laddie following everywhere he leads, like he was bewitched.”

“Poor Danny! Aren’t you a little hard on him, Brother Bart?” was the smiling question.

“Sure I am, I am, God forgive me for that same!” answered Brother Bart, penitently. “But I’m no saint like the rest of ye; and Laddie crept into my heart six years ago, and I can’t put him out. Wild Dan Dolan is no fit mate for him.”

“Why not?” asked Father Regan, gravely, though there was a quizzical gleam in his eye.

“Sure, because because ” hesitated Brother Bart, rather staggered by the question. “Sure ye know yerself, Father.”

“No, I don’t,” was the calm reply. “Dan may be wild and mischievous a little rough perhaps, poor boy! but he will do Freddy no harm. He is a bright, honest, manly fellow, making a brave fight against odds that are hard to face; and we must give him his chance, Brother Bart. I promised his good old aunt, who was broken-hearted at leaving him, that I would do all I could for her friendless, homeless boy. As for mischief well, I rather like a spice of mischief at his age. It is a sign of good health, body and soul. But we must try to give it a safer outlet than roofs and bell towers,” he added thoughtfully. “Let me see! If we could send our ‘left overs’ some place where they could have more freedom. Why why, now that I think of it” (the speaker’s grave face brightened as he took up the letter he had been reading), “maybe there’s a chance for them right here. Father Tom Rayburn has just written me that Freddy has fallen heir to some queer old place on the New England coast. It belonged to his mother’s great-uncle, an old whaling captain, who lived there after an eccentric fashion of his own. It seems that this ship was stranded on this island more than fifty years ago, and he fixed up the wreck, and lived there until his death this past month. The place has no value, Father Tom thinks; but he spent two of the jolliest summers of his own boyhood with an old Captain Kane at Killykinick.”

“Killykinick?” echoed Brother Bart. “That sounds Irish, Father.”

“It does,” laughed Father Regan. “Perhaps the old captain was an Irishman. At any rate, there he lived, showing a light every night at his masthead to warn other ships off, which was quite unnecessary of course, as the government attends to all such matters now.”

“It must be a queer sort of a place,” said Brother Bart, doubtfully. “But it might do Laddie good to get a whiff of the salt air and a swim in the sea. He isn’t well, Brother Timothy says, and as everyone can see. He has a touch of the fever every day; and as for weight, Dan Dolan would make two of him. And his mother died before she was five and twenty. God’s holy will be done!” Brother Bart’s voice broke at the words. “But I’m thinking Laddie isn’t long for this world, Father. There’s an angel-look in his face that I don’t like to see.” And the old Brother shook his head lugubriously.

Father Regan laughed.

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that! I’ve seen plenty of just such angels, Brother Bart, and they grew up into very hardy, mortal men, who had to scuffle their way through life like the rest of us. But Freddy is looking a little peaked of late, as I noticed on Commencement Day. I think that, as you say, a breath of salt air would be good for him. We might send all four off together to this place of his.”

“Is it Dan Dolan with the rest?” asked Brother Bart, in dismay.

“Why, of course! We couldn’t keep poor Dan here all alone,” was the answer.

“He’ll have Laddie climbing the rocks and swimming the seas like like a wild Indian,” said the good man, despairingly.

“What! That angel boy of yours, Brother Bart?” laughed the priest.

“Aye, aye!” answered the good Brother. “I’m not denying that Laddie has a wild streak in him. It came from his poor young father, I suppose. Arrah! has there never been word or sign from him, Father?” queried Brother Bart, sorrowfully.

“Never,” was the grave reply, “not since he disappeared so strangely six years ago. I presume he is dead. He had been rather a wild young fellow; but after his wife’s death he changed completely, reproached himself for having, as he said, broken her heart, and got some morbid notion of not being a fit father for his child. He had lost his faith and was altogether unbalanced, poor man! Luckily, Freddy inherits a fortune from his mother, and is well provided for; and now comes this other heritage from the old great-uncle Killykinick. I really think O God bless me! What is the matter?” asked the speaker, turning with a start, as, reckless of rules and reverence, two white-faced boys burst unannounced into the room.

“It’s it’s it’s Freddy Neville, Father!” panted Jim Norris.

“Laddie, my Laddie! What’s come to him?” cried Brother Bart.

“He’s tumbled off the high bar,” gasped Dud Fielding, “and he is lying all white and still, and and dead, Father!”