Harry Harding's Year of Promise
Harry Harding's Year of Promise
PLANNING THEIR YEAR OF PROMISE
U nder a huge horse-chestnut tree, at the foot of a pretty bit of green, sloping lawn, a curly-haired boy lay stretched at ease, his blue eyes glued to the last page of an open book before him. Harry Harding emitted a deep sigh of satisfaction as he read:
"When the last golden sunset rays touched with tender glory the Kingdom of New Hope, once the Kingdom of Despair, the formerly unhappy king, now happy in the knowledge of well-doing, hurried to the lonely spot in the forest where the tall pines whispered and sung. He hoped to meet again the queer little man who had promised him the secret of happiness. He waited there until the darkness fell, but no one came. Tired at last of the still blackness and the sighing of the pines, he called out in a loud voice, 'Little man, where are you? The Year of Promise is ended. I have done your bidding faithfully. The Kingdom of Despair is now the Kingdom of New Hope. My happy subjects adore me and I have found peace. Show yourself once more, little friend, that I may thank you.'
"Still no one came and he found no wonderful casket. Only the evening breeze sang on through the sentinel pines. But, as the king listened, he was sure he heard it murmur: 'Continue to do well. Every year comes to you as a Year of Promise. It lies within yourself to make it a Year of Fulfillment. This is the true secret of--'"
Whack! A carefully-aimed apple struck the open book with a force that sent it flying from the absorbed reader's grasp. From behind a neighboring tree a freckled face peeped out. It was lighted by two dancing, black eyes and crowned with a mop of brilliant red hair.
"No use hiding. I'll get you!" Leaping to his feet Harry made a dash for the tree that sheltered the mischievous marksman.
Emitting a war whoop of pure joy the red-haired boy left his refuge and tore across the lawn and around the corner of the little bungalow, his victim in hot pursuit. After circling the house several times, his quarry still in the lead, Harry brought strategy to the chase. Turning about, he ran in an opposite direction just in time to nab the offender as he rushed around a corner at reckless speed.
"I've caught you!" Harry proceeded to administer a mild punishment, which merely served to bring shouts of wild glee from the unrepentant apple thrower. "Now go and pick up my book," he commanded. With a final shake he released his wildly wriggling catch.
"Go and pick it up yourself," invited the red-haired boy with a grin. Nevertheless, he strolled over to where the maltreated book helplessly sprawled. Raising it he presented it to Harry with a chuckle. "Here's your old book, but don't think you're going to read it. You've been too busy with it all afternoon."
"All right, I won't. I've finished it, anyway." Tucking it under his arm, Harry dropped down beneath the tree and beckoned to his companion. "Sit here, Teddy, and let's talk."
Teddy Burke responded to the invitation with a bounce and a flop that pitched Harry on his side in the short green grass. The will to gambol about like a very frisky young lamb was strong within Teddy on this beautiful July day, and the process of settling himself for a talk was accomplished with difficulty.
"What have you been reading about that kept you so quiet?" was his curious question, as he finally came to rest at Harry's left.
"It's a dandy book." Harry fingered the dark green cover with evident affection. "I bought it for only ten cents at an aisle sale, just before we came out here for our vacation. It's all short stories. I like the last one best, though. It's called 'The Secret of Happiness,' and it's about a king--"
"Huh, I guess it