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"Wake up, there."
The little boy stirred in his sleep, and finally opened his eyes. By the faint light that entered through the window, he saw Abner bending over him.
"What is it?" he asked, drowsily.
"The kitchen clock's just struck three," whispered Abner. "You haven't forgotten that we are going to run away, have you?"
"I'll get right up," said Herbert, rubbing his eyes.
In two minutes the boys were dressed and ready for a start. It had taken a great deal longer for Herbert to dress at home, but he had become less particular as to his toilet now.
The boys took their shoes in their hands, and stole out in their stocking feet. As they passed the door of the room in which Mr. and Mrs. Barton slept, they heard the deep breathing of both, and knew that they were not likely to be heard.
Outside the door they put on their shoes, and were now ready to start.
"Wait a minute, bub," said Abner.
He re-entered the house, and presently came out holding half a loaf in his hand.
"That'll do for our breakfast," he said. "We won't eat it now. We'll wait till five o'clock. Then we'll be hungry."
By five o'clock they were as many miles on their way. They had reached the middle of the next town.
"Do you feel tired, bub?" asked Abner.
"A little. I feel hungry. Don't you think we can eat the bread now?"
"Yes, we'd better. I feel kind o' gone myself."
They sat down under a tree, and Abner divided the bread fairly.
"You ought to have more than I," protested Herbert. "You're bigger than I, and need more."
"Never mind that! You'll need it to keep up your strength."
Abner was not naturally unselfish, but he was manly enough to feel that he ought to be generous and kind to a boy so much smaller, and he felt repaid for his self-denial by noticing the evident relish with which Herbert ate his allowance of bread, even to the smallest crumb.
They found a spring, which yielded them a cool, refreshing draught, and soon were on their way once more. They had proceeded perhaps two miles further, when the rumbling of wheels was heard behind them, and a farm wagon soon came up alongside. The driver was a man of about thirty--sunburned and roughly clad.
"Whoa, there," he said.
The horse stopped.
"Where are you two goin'?" he asked.
"We're travelin'," answered Abner, noncommittally.
"Where's your home?"
"Some ways back."
"Where are you goin'?"
"I'm after work," answered Abner.
"Well, you'd orter be a good hand at it. You look strong. Is that little feller your brother?"
"No; he's my cousin."
Herbert looked up in surprise at this avowal of relationship, but he thought it best not to say anything that would conflict with Abner's statement.
"Is he after work, too?" asked the driver, with a smile.
"No; he's goin' to his father."
"Where does he live?"
"Have you walked fur?"
"Ef you want to ride, I'll give you a lift for a few miles."
"Thank you," said Abner, prompt to accept the offer. "I'll help you in, bub."
The two boys took their seats beside the driver, Herbert being in the middle. The little boy was really tired, and he found it very pleasant to ride, instead of walking. He had walked seven miles already, and that was more than he had ever before walked at one time.
They rode about three miles, when the driver pulled up in front of a comfortable-looking house.
"This is where I stop," he said. "My aunt lives here, and my sister has been paying her a visit. I've come to take her home."
The front door was opened, and his aunt and sister came out.
"You're just in time for breakfast, John," said his aunt. "Come in and sit down to the table. Bring in the boys, too."
"Come in, boys," said the young man. "I guess you can eat something, can't you?"
"We've had---" Herbert began, but Abner checked him.
"Come along, bub," he said. "What's a bit of bread? I ain't half full."
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