"Some boys saw them, coming through Green Gully, and were scared to death at their looks; they said theywere big, black-looking men, strangers to these parts; and they swore at the boys and ordered 'em off real ugly. Nobody else has seen them in honest daylight, but they broke into Dan'l Brown's house last night. He's deaf,you know, and didn't hear a sound. They came right into the room where he slept, --Deacon Bassett was therethe next day, and saw their tracks all over the floor,--and took ten dollars out of his pants pocket. The pants washanging right beside the bed, and they turned them clean inside out, and Dan'l never stirred.""My, oh!" exclaimed Don Alonzo."Why, it's terrible!" Mira went on. "Then, last night, they got into Mis' Pegrum's house, too. She's a lonewoman, you know, same as Dan'l is a man. Seems as if they had took note of every house where there wasn't plenty of folks to be stirring and taking notice. They got into the pantry window, and took every living thing shehad to eat. They might do that, and still go hungry, Deacon Bassett says; you know there's always been a littlefeeling between him and Mis' Pegrum; her cat and his hens--it's an old story. Well, and she did hear a noise, andcame out into the kitchen, and there sat two great, black men, eating her best peach preserves, and the cake she'dmade for the Ladies' Aid, to-day. She was so scare't, she couldn't speak a word; and they just laughed and toldher to go back to bed, and she went. Poor-spirited, it seems, but I don't know as I should have done a bit better in her place. There! I wish Joe'd come back! I feel real nervous, hearing about it all. Oh, and her gold watch,too, they got, and three solid silver teaspoons that belonged to her mother. She's sick abed, Deacon Bassett says,and I don't wonder. I don't feel as if I should sleep a wink to-night!"The color came into Don Alonzo's thin cheeks. "There sha'n't no one do you any hurt while I'm round, Mira!" hesaid; and for a moment he forgot his deformity, and straightened his poor shoulders, and held up his head like aman.There was no shade of amusement in Mira Pitkin's honest smile. "I expect you'd be as brave as a lion, Don'Lonzo," she said. "I expect you'd shoo 'em right out of the yard, same as you did the turkey gobbler when herun at my red shawl; don't you remember? But all the same, I hope they will not come; and I shall be glad to seeJoe back again."At that moment the lad caught sight of himself in the little looking-glass that hung over his chest of drawers.Mira, watching him, saw the sparkle go out of his eyes, saw his shoulders droop, and his head sink forward; andshe said, quickly:"But there! we've said enough about the burglars, I should think! How's the experiments, Don 'Lonzo? I heardan awful fizzing going on, just before Deacon Bassett came in. I expect you've got great things hidden under that bed; I expect there's other perils round besides burglars! Joe may come back and find us both blown intokindlin'-wood, after all!"This was a favorite joke of theirs; she had the pleasure of seeing a smile come into the boy's sad eyes; then, withanother of those motherly touches on his hair, she went away, singing, to her work.Don Alonzo looked after her. From the way his eyes followed her, she might have been a glorified saint in robeand crown, instead of a rosy-cheeked young woman in a calico gown. "There sha'n't nothing hurt her while I'mround!" he muttered again.The night fell, dark and cloudy. Mrs. Pitkin went to bed early, after shaking every door and trying everywindow to make sure that all was safe. Don Alonzo went through the same process twice after she was gone, but he did not feel like sleeping, himself. He lay down on his bed, but his thoughts seemed dancing from onething to another,--to Brother Joe, travelling homeward now, he hoped, after a week's absence; to Mira'sgoodness, her patience with his wayward self, her kindness in letting him mess with chemicals, and turn theshed into a laboratory, and frighten her with explosions; to Dan'l Brown and Mis' Pegrum and the burglars.