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Title: Mary Jane—Her Visit
Author: Judson, Clara Ingram, 1879-1950
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mary Jane—Her Visit" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



MARY JANE--HER VISIT

by

CLARA INGRAM JUDSON

Author of "Mary Jane--Her Book," "Mary Jane's Kindergarten," "Mary Jane
Down South," "Mary Jane's City Home," "Mary Jane in New England," etc.

Illustrated by Frances White

Publishers
Barse & Hopkins
New York, N. Y.                    Newark, N. J.

1918



[Frontispiece: "'Thirty minutes to Glenville!' the voice of the porter
said."]



CONTENTS


  MARY JANE'S ARRIVAL
  EXPLORING THE FARM
  THE HUNT FOR EGGS
  THE MYSTERIOUS BUNDLES
  GARDENING WITH GRANDFATHER
  THE GARDEN THIEF
  MARY JANE'S FAMILY
  COUSIN JOHN'S VISIT
  GRANDFATHER'S TREAT
  LEARNING TO COOK
  THE STRAWBERRY SOCIABLE
  BURR HOUSES
  EARNING MONEY
  THE PICNIC AT FLATROCK
  HOME AGAIN



ILLUSTRATIONS

"'Thirty minutes to Glenville!' the voice of the porter said" . . . . .
(Frontispiece)

"'We'll make a pattern and cut out our pieces--there's a lot to
quilt-making'"

"There, before their eyes were the rabbits, five of them"

"There were the berry bushes--fairly loaded with shining
black-berries"



MARY JANE'S ARRIVAL

It seemed to Mary Jane that some magic must have been at work to change
the world during the night she slept on the train.  All the country she
knew had hills and valleys and many creeks and woods of pine trees.
But when she waked up in the morning and peeped out of the window of
her berth, she saw great wide fields and woods that seemed always far
away.  And the occasional creek that the train rumbled over was small
and could be seen a long way off, coming across the fields toward the
railroad.  And the roads!  How funny they were!  They came straight and
white toward the train, each just exactly as smooth and as regular as
the one before.

To be sure the country was pretty; yellow buttercups and bright blue
flowers bloomed along the track and the fields looked fresh and green
in the morning sun.

"I think I'm going to like it anyway, even if the hills are all
smoothed out," said Mary Jane as she looked at it thoughtfully, "and
maybe I'd better put on my shoes and stockings."  She rummaged in the
funny little hammock that hung over her window, found the shoes and
stockings and put them on, and was just wondering if it was time to
dress when she heard Dr. Smith's voice outside.

"Yes, Sambo, I'm awake," he was saying, "and you may call the young
lady."

Before Mary Jane had had time to wonder who the "young lady" might be,
there was a great shaking of her curtain and the voice of the porter
said, "Thirty minutes to Glenville!"

Quick as a flash Mary Jane stuck her head out between the curtains and
replied, "That's where my great grandmother lives and I'm going to see
her!"

The porter was vastly surprised ("I guess he thought I was going to
sleep all day!" thought Mary Jane scornfully), but before he had a
chance to reply anything, Dr. Smith called across, "Good morning, Mary
Jane!  How did you sleep?"

"All the night, just like I do at home," answered Mary Jane, "except
one time when they bumped something into my bed--what was it, do you
'spose?"

"Most like they put on a new engine," said Dr. Smith.  "Now, how long
will it take you to dress, my dear?"

"Just a tinny while," said Mary Jane, "because I've got my shoes and
stockings on now.  And when may I wash my face and you put on my hair
ribbon?"

Dr. Smith stepped out from his berth and looked at Mary Jane in dismay.

"You may wash your face any time you like, my dear," he said, "but I
can't tie your hair ribbon.  I don't know how!"

Mary Jane laughed at the funny face he made and then she smiled in her
most motherly fashion.  "Then it's a good thing I forgot and left it on
last night," she said, "and don't you worry, I can perk it up and make
it look real tidy."

"You're a good little traveler," complimented Dr. Smith.  "I'll take
you along again.  Now let's see who's ready first."

Mary Jane put on the rest of her clothes; then she took her little bag,
just as her mother had told her to, and went into the dressing room and
washed her face and made herself neat and tidy.  She got back in time
to see the porter make up her bed and she was glad of that because
bed-unmaking on a train by daylight seemed even more wonderful and
interesting than bed-making the night before.

She sat down on the seat across the aisle while he worked, so she could
see everything he did.

"My mother and I don't make beds that way at home," she announced
suddenly.

"Sure not," agreed the porter, and then by way of keeping up the
conversation, he added, "Like to ride on a train?"

"'Deed I do," said Mary Jane happily, "and I like to go see my
grandmother--it's my Great-grandmother Hodges I'm going to see, you
know.  And my mother isn't going and my daddah isn't going because he
works and my sister Alice isn't going because she's in school and
anybody isn't going but just my Dr. Smith and me 'cause I'm five and
that's a big girl."

"Well!" exclaimed the porter, and he actually stopped making beds to
look at such a big little girl.  Mary Jane liked him and started to
tell him about Doris and the birthday party and the pretty things in
her trunk, but Dr. Smith came back just then and there was no more time
for talk.

"Got your coat?" he asked, "and your hat and your--everything?"

"He put 'em there," said Mary Jane, pointing to the next seat where she
had seen the porter put her things, "and my gloves are in my pocket and
my bag's all shut."

"That's good." said Dr. Smith.  "You'd better put your things on now.
Here, I'll hold your coat."

It was a good thing Mary Jane started putting on her gloves just when
she did.  For before she had the last button safely tucked in its
button hole, the porter had slipped in to a white coat and had picked
up her bag and Dr. Smith's big grip and started for the door of the
car; the great long train was slowing up at a little station.

They got off in such a hurry that Mary Jane hardly had time to say
good-by to the kind porter before the train hurried away and some one
picked her up and kissed her and exclaimed, "Well, well, well!  Such a
_big_ girl!" and she found herself kissing dear Grandfather Hodges--she
knew him well because he had visited her home and she had a nice,
comfortable, "belonging" feeling the minute she saw him.

"Now you two stay right here by the car," said Grandfather, "while I
get the trunk."  And Mary Jane had her first chance to look around.

The station wasn't a bit like the station at her home--not a bit.  It
was a funny little frame house with a platform, out in front.  And
there wasn't any roof out over where the trains went or anything like
that; just the little house and the platform.  And instead of the piles
of trunks on great trucks that she supposed were in every station,
there was only her own little trunk dumped forlornly on the platform.
And instead of the many men busy about various duties, there was not a
single man, at least not one that Mary Jane could see.  Grandfather
took the check that Dr. Smith gave him and went into the little station
with it.  In a second he was back and what do you suppose he did?  He
picked up her trunk and set it in the back of his waiting automobile
just as easy as could be!  Mary Jane was that surprised he could see it
and he laughed gayly and said, "That's the way we do our baggaging
here, Mary Jane.  We'll not wait for any sleepy baggage men--not when
Grandmother and hot griddle cakes and honey are waiting for us, will
we?"

And Mary Jane, who was getting hungry enough to find breakfast a most
interesting subject, settled down in the front seat beside her
grandfather and said, "No, we won't!"

Dr. Smith climbed into the back seat beside the trunk and Grandfather
started the car and went spinning down the road.

"Your roads all know where they're going, don't they?" Mary Jane asked
as they got under way.

"Yes," replied Grandfather in surprise; "don't yours?"

"Not like yours do," said Mary Jane positively; "ours go this way."
And with her finger she made some big curves in the air.

"Oh!" laughed Grandfather, "you mean that yours are curving because of
the hills and that ours are straight.  Yes, our roads are pretty
straight but you'll like that when you get used to it, because then you
can't get lost.  There's a road every mile and each road goes just the
way it by rights ought to go because there aren't any hills to get in
the way."  And all the while Grandfather was talking, he was driving
the car along the straight road just as fast as could be.

"And aren't there any hills before we get to your house?" asked Mary
Jane after a while.

'"Well," said Grandfather smilingly, as he slowed the car down, "what
do you think about that yourself?"

Mary Jane looked before her, the way she could see Grandfather wanted
her to look, and, right there close, she saw a big, old-fashioned white
house.  It had a flower bed, a great big round flower bed, in the yard
in front of it and a curving driveway along the side.  And it had a
wide porch all across the front, a porch that had seats and a swing and
everything a little girl would like to see on a porch.  A lot of
windows with green shutters were scattered over the house, and through
the windows Mary Jane could see ruffled white curtains at every window.
And on the porch of this house stood a pretty, white-haired
grandmother, just the sort of a grandmother that belongs to every white
house in the country.

"I think there aren't any hills because here we are!" exclaimed Mary
Jane happily as Grandfather stopped the car by the side steps.

Quick as a minute Dr. Smith jumped her out of the car and Grandmother
Hodges, for it really was she, just as Mary Jane had guessed, gave her
a hug and a dozen kisses and Mary Jane felt at home from that minute.

"Now don't bother about that trunk," said Grandmother briskly.  "It can
wait!  I don't know what Dr. Smith promised we'd have for breakfast
this morning, but griddle cakes and honey are what I have ready.  Come
right on in, Dr. Smith."

She took off Mary Jane's coat and hat and laid them on the couch in the
living-room, and then they all went in to what Mary Jane thought was
the best breakfast she had ever eaten in all her five years.  There
were bananas and cream, oh, such good cream; and eggs and bacon and
griddle cakes and honey.  Mary Jane had never eaten honey on griddle
cakes before, and she liked it so well that they quite lost count of
the number she ate!

"If you go on as you're beginning," laughed Dr. Smith, "you'll be so
big and fat by the time you go home that I'll have to go along with you
and tell them you're Mary Jane Merrill, that's what I will!"

"I'll risk their knowing," said Grandmother; "that child was almost
starved!  If you're in a hurry, don't wait for her.  And Father" (she
turned to Grandfather Hodges), "you be sure to take Mary Jane's trunk
up to her room before you go to the barn.  She'll want to open it right
away to get out her play dress."

By the time Mary Jane was through her breakfast the trunk had been
carried upstairs and Grandfather Hodges was off to the barn.

"You come out to see me whenever you're ready," he said as he left.

"And I'll be running along too," said Dr. Smith, "though I must admit
I'd rather stay and help show Mary Jane the farm than to call on sick
folks this morning.  I'll be by to see you this evening, little girl,
to hear what you think of all the new sights."  And he started down the
road toward his home--it was such a little way that he preferred to
walk.

"Now, Mary Jane," said Grandmother briskly, "what would you like to
play while I do the dishes?"

"I'd like to do them too," said Mary Jane promptly.

"A little girl five years old do dishes?" exclaimed Grandmother.

"'Deed, yes, Grandmother," said Mary Jane, much pleased to think
Grandmother was so impressed.  "I'm a little _past_ five, you know, and
I can work a lot!"

"Just think of that," exclaimed Grandmother approvingly.  "Then we'll
be through in no time.  I'll wash and you wipe, and I'll put away.  Let
me tie this apron over your pretty traveling dress."

While they did the work, Mary Jane answered all the questions about
Mother and Alice and Father that Grandmother could ask and then, as
soon as the last dish was put away the two went upstairs and unpacked
the trunk.  Such fun as it was to put all her own ribbons and
handkerchiefs into the funny little bureau that stood in Mary Jane's
room!  And to hang up her dresses, or watch Grandmother hang them, in
the queer little closet that had a latch like a front gate!  Mary Jane
was to have a whole room and a whole closet and a bureau all to
herself, and she wouldn't feel a bit lonesome because Grandmother's
room was right next and the door stood open all the night long,
Grandmother said.

When everything was in neat order, Mary Jane put on her dark blue
rompers and big blue sun hat, and they went downstairs.

"There now," said Grandmother; "we're all fixed.  And before I do
another thing, I'm going to take you all around and show you everything
you want to see."

They started down the back walk toward the barn that looked so
interesting.  But they hadn't gone half the way to it before the
telephone, back in the house, gave a long, loud ring.



EXPLORING THE FARM

"There now!" exclaimed Mrs. Hodges impatiently, "that's the 'phone and
I'll have to answer and see what's wanted.  You walk along slowly, Mary
Jane, right over to the barn and through the gate and I'll hurry and
catch up with you as quickly as I can."

Left alone, Mary Jane walked past the wood shed; passed what seemed to
be a tool house because through the open door she saw tools of all
sorts and sizes; and on across the yard toward the barn yard gate.

"She said 'through the gate,'" thought Mary Jane, "and this must be the
gate.  I wonder if it opens?"  She shook the gate as hard as she could
but it didn't open; it didn't even look as though it intended to open;
it looked shut for all day, and Mary Jane was almost discouraged about
getting into the barn yard till she happened to think of a gate at the
back of Doris's yard (her little playmate Doris who lived next door to
Mary Jane's own home) that looked surprisingly like this gate.  To be
sure it was little, and this gate was big and wide, but both had boards
crosswise, just right for climbing.

"We climbed on Doris's when it wouldn't open," she thought, "so I guess
this one will climb too."

She put her foot carefully on the first bar--nothing happened; on the
second--everything seemed all right; on the third and in a minute she
was over and climbing proudly down on the other side.

"Grandfather!  Grandfather!" she called as she ran gayly toward the
barn; "I did it!  The gate wouldn't open so I--Oh, dear!  Oh!  Oh!
It's coming!  _Grandfather_!" she screamed breathlessly as she saw,
coming out of the barn--not Grandfather as she had expected--but a
great, fat, grunting _pig_!

Mary Jane shrank back toward the gate and how she did wish it was open
so she could slip through and shut it tightly behind her.  She was
afraid to turn her back to the pig long enough to climb over the gate
as she had come; all the while she was trying her best to think of some
way to get away, that fat, grunting pig was coming closer and closer.
Now it was half the length of the barn yard away.  Now it seemed to
have spied her and was coming straight for her--nose to the ground
sniffing and grunting louder than ever.

Grandfather, working in the barn, heard and came a-running as fast as
ever he could run; and Grandmother, 'way in the house, heard and
dropped the receiver and ran out so fast that she was breathless when
she reached the little girl.  Grandfather was nearest so got to her
first.  Really, he saw what the matter was as soon as he got outside
the barn and he shouted to the pig and flapped his arms in such a
comical fashion that Mary Jane hardly knew whether to be afraid of him
or to laugh.  But the pig had no such doubts.  She seemed to know that
he meant she should go away.  She gave one final snort--almost at Mary
Jane's toes--and then turned and went back to the barn as fast as she
could waddle.  The faster she waddled the more Grandfather flapped,
till first thing she knew Mary Jane was laughing and had forgotten all
about being afraid.

Grandfather reached down and picked her up, and Grandmother, who came
through the gate at that minute (she seemed to know how to open it,
Mary Jane noticed), patted her and gave her a kiss and a hug.

"Did we frighten you first thing, Puss?" asked Grandfather tenderly.
"That old Mrs. Pig wouldn't hurt you for anything.  She was just trying
to get acquainted."

"Yes?" replied Mary Jane doubtfully, "but you see I'm not used to
getting acquainted that way.  I 'spect she wouldn't hurt me, but she
didn't _act_ like she wouldn't hurt me," she added.

Grandfather threw back his head and laughed at that.  "No, she didn't;
you're right, Mary Jane!  She acted pretty bad.  But you shouldn't be
here alone before you get used to our family."

Grandmother explained about the 'phone calling her back.  "And I left
the receiver hanging, I came so quickly," she added laughingly.  "I
guess I'll go back now and hang it up."

"Then I'll show Mary Jane around myself," said Grandfather firmly.
"She's more important than work, so there!"  He set her down beside
him, took her hand snugly in his own (and it feels pretty good to have
somebody hold your hand when everything is strange, you know that
yourself), and they started off.

First they went into the barn where they saw Mrs. Pig, grunting still,
but standing very meekly in her own corner; and eleven little pigs that
grunted such cunning, squeaky little grunts.  Mary Jane wasn't afraid
of them for one minute.  They weren't dirty as Mary Jane supposed pigs
always were, not a bit dirty; they were tidy and neat and their little
round sides shone like silk.

"Oh, I like _them_, Grandfather!" she exclaimed.  "Could I play with
them someday?"

"I thought you didn't like pigs," teased Grandfather.

"Oh, but these aren't _pigs_," corrected Mary Jane; "these are
_piggies_; nice piggies like in my painting book.  I like _them_."

"I don't know about playing with them," laughed Grandfather; "we'll
have to see.  But I'll tell you what you may do; when we're through
looking all over the place, you may come back here with me and feed
them.  Would you like that?"

Would she?  Mary Jane clapped her hands and wanted to insist on feeding
them right that very minute; only, just in time, she remembered that
she wasn't to tease.  So she slipped her hand back into Grandfather's
big one and they went on with their walk.

Next they saw Brindle Bess, but Mary Jane didn't like her as well as
the little pigs.  She switched her tail and looked around at Mary Jane
so pointedly that Mary Jane was really relieved when Grandfather
slipped around and opened the door and let her wander out to pasture.

"She's an awful _big_ cow, isn't she, Grandfather?" said Mary Jane, as
the cow ambled off.

"Oh, I don't know about that," said Grandfather, not understanding.

"Well, she's lots bigger than me when I'm five," said Mary Jane
positively.  "I think I like little things best."

"Then I've the very creature to show you," said Grandfather, "and we
might as well see him now because your grandmother will want to show
you the chickens when she comes out.  We'll lock this door so Mrs. Pig
can't get out into the front barn yard again, and then we'll cross the
road and I'll show you something you'll like."

"Will it be big?" asked Mary Jane as she skipped along beside him.

"Middling big and middling little," answered Grandfather.

"Will it be brown or gray?" asked Mary Jane, thinking of the cow and
the pigs.

"Neither," said Grandfather.

That puzzled Mary Jane, but she couldn't think of anything else to
guess so she kept her eyes carefully ahead as they went down the yard
and across the road, in hopes she Would see the surprise quicker that
way.

Across the road from Grandfather's house was a strip of wooded land
which Grandfather had let grow wild.  Grandmother loved the trees and
the wild flowers and liked to feel that they were near to her.

"Oh!" exclaimed Mary Jane as they crossed the road, "see those trees!
Are those the surprise?"

"My, no!" replied Grandfather; "those are only a couple of wild crab
trees--they do look pretty full of bloom as they are, don't they?  But
the surprise is a real, live, running around surprise.  Here, let me
boost you over the fence; that's more fun than a dozen gates."  He set
Mary Jane over the fence and then came in the gate and locked it
carefully behind him.

"Are you 'fraid it'll get away, is that why you lock the gate?" asked
Mary Jane.

"Well, it's pretty little to run away," said Grandfather, "but you
never can tell, so I lock it to be sure."  He took hold of Mary Jane's
hand again as he added, "now just behind these trees; and around these
bushes; and--"

"I see it myself," exclaimed Mary Jane, "and I know what it is--it's a
little sheep!"  She dropped his hand and ran a few steps toward the
lamb she saw grazing a few steps away.  But just as she drew near, the
lamb spied her and started to meet her.  Mary Jane ran quickly back
toward her grandfather; it was one thing to go to meet the lamb herself
and quite another to have the lamb come and meet her!  "Will he grunt?"
she asked.

"Not a single grunt!" laughed Grandfather.  "He's the friendliest
little creature you ever saw.  See?"  Grandfather took Mary Jane's hand
and laid it on the soft wool of the lamb's back.  "He likes you already
and he'll like you even better when you bring him something good to
eat.  Before very long you will learn to climb this fence all by
yourself; then you can come over here and play with him any time you
want to."

"And pick flowers for my grandmother, too?" asked Mary Jane as she
looked at the lovely bluebells that grew around where they were
standing.

"You're a girl after your grandmother's own heart!" exclaimed
Grandfather delightedly; "you can pick all the flowers you like.  But
let's not stop now.  Don't you want to see more of the farm?"

Mary Jane did, so they left the lamb with a promise to come again later
and went back across the road to the house.  There they met Grandmother
who declared that she was through with the telephone long ago and
wanted to show Mary Jane the chickens herself.

"Very well," said Grandfather; "but don't you show her the garden."

"I won't," replied Grandmother, and they both looked so mysterious that
Mary Jane was sure some surprise was in that garden.

"Are you going to show it to me?" she asked her grandfather.

"Some day," he replied, "but there's too much else to see this morning.
The garden can wait."

So Mary Jane and her grandmother went to the chicken yard and
Grandfather started for the barn to finish his work.

If you've ever seen about a hundred cunning, little, yellow and white
and gray chickens, so soft and fluffy they look as though they were
Easter trimmings; and dozens of motherly looking hens ambling around
and a few big, important-looking roosters crowing in the sunshine, you
know just what Mary Jane saw when they reached the chicken yard.  For
her part, Mary Jane had never seen such a sight before, and she was so
surprised and pleased she could hardly believe her eyes.

"Are they all _yours_, Grandmother?" she asked in amazement.

"I should say they are," laughed Grandmother.  "You stand right
here--no, that rooster won't come any closer," she added as one big
fellow crowed loudly near by.  "You stay here till I get some feed and
you shall see a funny sight."

She slipped into the chicken house and returned in a minute with a
small basket of grain.  "Here, Mary Jane," she said, "you hold this
so--and throw the grain out on the ground so--" and she did just as she
wanted Mary Jane to do, "and watch them come!"

Mary Jane reached her hand into the basket of grain, took out a handful
and threw it far as she could; and then how she did laugh as she saw
the chickens scramble for it!

"Can I do it again?" she asked delightedly.

"All you like till the grain is gone," replied Grandmother.

"There now," said Grandmother, after awhile, "we've stayed so long here
it's 'most dinner time.  Are you hungry, Mary Jane?"

Mary Jane started to say no, because she was _sure_ the morning hadn't
more than begun, but to her surprise she found she _was hungry_, oh,
awfully hungry.

"I thought so," laughed Grandmother, who guessed what the little girl
was thinking, "and it's most eleven, so we'd better see what we're
going to have to eat.  How about chicken and biscuits and apple
dumplings and cream?"

"They're my favorites," said Mary Jane, with a little skip of pleasure.
"Every one's my favorite, all of 'em!"

So she and Grandmother put away the grain basket and went into the
house.



THE HUNT FOR EGGS

"Now then," said Grandmother when they got into the kitchen, "while I
get dinner, we'll talk."

"But what's the matter?" asked Mary Jane.

"Matter where?" questioned Grandmother.  "I don't see anything the
matter!"

"What's the matter out there?" said Mary Jane, pointing out the door to
the chicken yard where they had just been; "something's happened."

Grandmother stepped over to the door where Mary Jane was standing and
looked out.  "Oh!" she exclaimed, for she saw in a minute what Mary
Jane meant, "that noise?"

Mary Jane nodded.

"That noise means that an egg has been laid," explained Grandmother,
smiling, "and that Mrs. Hen is very proud of it and wants us to know
what she has done."

"Oh!" cried Mary Jane happily, "and then you go out and get them in a
basket just like mother told me she used to do?  May I go now?"

"Better not start before dinner," suggested Grandmother, "because
sometimes egg-hunting takes quite a little time.  Wait till you get
through dinner and then you may hunt all afternoon if you
like--egg-hunting is fun!"

So the minute she was through with her apple dumplings, Mary Jane
asked, "And now, please, may I get the eggs?"

"Got you hunting eggs already?" asked Grandfather.  "Well, I wonder if
you'll like it as well as your mother used to.  Have you your basket?"

"Not yet," said Grandmother.  "I mean to let her get it herself.
She'll feel more at home when she begins to find her way around alone.
If you locked the pigs in, she can go anywhere she likes all alone."

"They're locked up fast," Grandfather assured her--much to Mary Jane's
relief.

"Then, Mary Jane," continued Grandmother, "you go out to the barn and
up the little ladder you'll find in the middle of the barn.  And in the
loft somewhere, I'm sure you'll see it easily, you'll find a little,
covered basket.  It's the very one your mother and your Aunt Cornelia
used to carry egg-hunting.  If it's too dusty, bring it here, and I'll
clean it for you.  Now run along, Pet," added Grandmother with a kiss
for the up-turned face, "and don't be long.  I'll miss my little girl."

Just as Mary Jane opened the screen door to go out, a beautiful big
black and brown dog came running up to the door.

"Well, Bob!" exclaimed Grandmother, "where have you been all morning?
I wanted Mary Jane to get acquainted with you right away and you
weren't anywhere around!  Mary Jane, this is Bob, our good dog, and
he's the best creature friend a little girl can make."  She stepped out
of the door with Mary Jane and they both sat down on the steps and
talked to Bob.  Mary Jane liked him from the first.  He had such a
pretty face and such friendly, kind eyes and he looked as though he
would be good to little girls.

"May he go with me to the barn?" she asked.

"Indeed, yes," replied Grandmother.  "You just start along and watch
him follow you!  He'll go wherever you go from now on.  You won't even
have to call him!"

Mary Jane jumped up and, just as Grandmother said, Bob jumped up from
the steps too and together they started off to the barn.

"Can you climb up a ladder?" asked Mary Jane gayly, as she skipped
along by Bob.  "I can climb a ladder all by myself!  I did it one day
when Mother hung curtains."

But dear me!  When Mary Jane saw the steep ladder that went up to the
barn loft she wasn't so sure she could climb a ladder after, all!  She
had been thinking of a nice little step-ladder such as her mother had
and this was a steep, narrow ladder made of funny little pieces of wood
nailed on to narrow strips that were fastened to the barn.  Not a bit
like any ladder Mary Jane had ever seen before.

"But the basket's up there, Bob," said Mary Jane, glad of some one to
think aloud to, "and my grandmother she wouldn't tell me to go up if I
couldn't, so I guess I'll try."

She put one foot on the ladder and then the other.  "Why, it's just
like climbing a gate only it isn't a gate," she announced proudly, "and
I'm way up a'ready!"

It was easy to step from the ladder to the loft because the sides of
the ladder went on up high and she simply held tight to them and
stepped off onto the floor Of the loft.

And _that_ was the funniest place Mary Jane had ever seen!  Hay
everywhere, and a pleasant, fragrant smell that pleased Mary Jane even
though she hadn't an idea why.  She looked around a minute and then
hunted for the basket.

Over in the corner, under a funny little, cobwebby window she found it,
half hidden by the tossed up hay.

She recognized it at once because of the curious little cover
Grandmother had spoken of.  But, dear me, Grandmother would surely have
to clean it before it was used for cobwebs and scraps of hay were all
over the top!

"I wonder if the cover comes off, or just opens like a door," thought
Mary Jane as she bent over it.  "I guess I'd better see."

She moved the cover the tiniest bit and found it was fastened to one
side.  "It's like a box," she said aloud, "and it opens easy, I know!"

She opened it out and what _do_ you suppose she saw down in the bottom
of that basket?  You'd never guess!

Four of the cunningest little gray mice!  All snuggled down together
into a little ball of fur--Mary Jane would never have guessed there
were four, they were so tiny, only she saw the four little black noses
and four pairs of beady black eyes.

"You darlingest!" she exclaimed happily, and sat right down in the hay
beside the basket to watch them.  She reached her finger in and touched
their silky little backs; she watched them snuggle down tight and
tighter together and she altogether forgot about Bob and egg-hunting
and Grandmother and everything, she was so delighted.  But Bob didn't
forget about her, not he.

For a while he waited patiently at the bottom of the ladder.  He seemed
to know that she might have to hunt a while for the basket.  But as the
minutes went by and she didn't come and didn't come, he grew more and
more restless.  He whined, and he walked around the barn and he looked
out the door.  Then he came back to the foot of the ladder and put his
front feet on the highest step he could reach.

But still there was no sign of Mary Jane coming down.  And for her
part, the little girl was so interested in her mice that she wouldn't
have noticed had he barked out loud.

Finally he could stand it no longer.  With a sudden turn, as though he
had quickly made up his mind something must be done, he ran out of the
barn and up to the kitchen door.

Grandmother Hodges saw him and supposed Mary Jane was with him so she
called kindly, "Did you find the basket, dear?"

No answer.

"Bring it in here for me to dust it off, Mary Jane," she added.

No answer.

"That's funny," she exclaimed; "what ails the child?"  And she stepped
to the door to see why Mary Jane didn't answer.

That was exactly what Bob wanted her to do.  The minute he saw she was
coming to the door he bounded off in the direction of the barn.

Grandmother understood at once, as Bob had known she would, and without
even stopping to drop the tea towel she had in her hand she followed
him out to the barn.

Bob ran ahead, turning two or three times to make sure she was coming,
till he reached the foot of the ladder.  There he danced around as
though he was trying to say, "Now I've brought you here, do see what's
the matter!"

"Is she up there yet, Bob?" asked Grandmother wonderingly.  Then she
called, "Mary Jane!  Mary Jane!  Mary Jane!"

"Oh, Grandmother!" replied the little girl, hearing for the first time,
"they're the cunningest!  Do come see!"

"Whatever has the child found!" she exclaimed, but she went up the
ladder just the same to make sure Mary Jane was happy.

It wasn't more than a minute before Grandmother, too, was down in the
hay, admiring the little mice till even Mary Jane was satisfied.
"You're a good one," she said, "to find such a nice family right away.
This old basket's been here for years, but that looks like a brand new
nest and a brand new family.  You'll have something to tell your sister
about when she comes now, won't you?"

"And may I take them down to the house?" asked Mary Jane.

"Look behind you and see if you want to," answered Grandmother.

Mary Jane turned and looked as she was told and she saw, peeping out
from behind the hay, the distressed face of mother mouse.  Poor thing!
She was _so_ afraid something terrible was happening to her babies!

"No, I don't want to," said Mary Jane promptly.  "I want to keep them
right here and come up and see them whenever I want to."

"That's best," agreed Grandmother.  "You come with me and I'll find you
another basket and then you and Bob and I will hunt eggs."

So that is the way Mary Jane happened to have a pretty, brand new, pink
basket for hunting eggs: and that's why they were so late getting the
eggs that it was almost supper time before they were through.



THE MYSTERIOUS BUNDLES

For three days after Mary Jane came to visit her grandparents, the sun
shone bright and warm and the little girl spent all the time out of
doors.  She raced around the yard with Bob; she played with the lamb in
the wood across the road; she watched her grandfather feed the little
pigs; she fed the chickens and hunted eggs.  And, the most fun of all,
she watched the baby mice in the dusky, sweet-smelling hay loft.  Till,
really, by the time she had had her supper of bread and milk, Mary Jane
was ready to tumble into bed and sleep straight through the night
without ever a thought of being homesick.

But the minute she awakened on the morning of the fourth day, Mary Jane
knew that something was different.  The sun wasn't shining across her
coverlet as it had before; and from the window came the sound of
dripping, dripping, dripping rain.  The kind of rain that you love if
everybody's indoors and can stay in and the fire's going brightly and
Mother's near to talk to.  And also the kind of rain that makes you
feel very queer if you know Mother's hundreds of miles away and you
aren't going to see her for a good many weeks.

Mary Jane felt a queer feeling in her throat.  Suddenly she tossed the
covers back, picked up her clothes so quickly she didn't even stop to
see if she had both stockings, and ran into her grandmother's room.
"I'm _not_ going to cry, so there!" she said to herself hastily.

"Well, good morning," said Grandmother cheerfully.  "That's nice to
dress in here!  I was just wishing I had company."

"Does rain make you feel like you wanted somebody right close?" asked
Mary Jane.

"Every time," agreed Grandmother.  "And sometimes, when your
grandfather's working out in the barn, and Bob's out there with him,
and I'm all alone in the house, I just wish and wish I had a little
girl about your size here to talk to.  I'm so glad you're come, Mary
Jane, you're such good company!"

And immediately, would you believe it?  Mary Jane forgot all about
being homesick and maybe going to cry, and began wondering what she
could do for her grandmother!

"What are we going to do to-day, Grandmother?" she asked as they went
down the stairs together.

"Let me see," said Grandmother thoughtfully, looking at the little
girl.  "First, of course, we'll get breakfast--wouldn't you like fresh
corn bread and maple syrup?"  Mary Jane nodded happily, for she liked
Grandmother's corn bread.  "Then we'll do the dishes and make the
beds--but that won't take long with you helping me.  Then we'll peel
the potatoes and start the meat cooking for dinner.  Then we'll--by the
way, Mary Jane," she asked suddenly, "what have you in those two
packages in your trunk?"

Mary Jane stared at her grandmother a minute and tried to think
whatever she might mean.  Then she remembered.  "Those two bundles
wrapped up in brown paper and tied and everything?"

"Those are the ones," nodded Grandmother.  "I saw them the other
morning when I unpacked your trunk but we were in a hurry to get-out
doors then so I didn't ask about them.  What are they?"

"I don't know," said Mary Jane.  "Mother put them in and she said you'd
understand.  She said just let you see and you'd know what she meant."

"Then I guess I know," said Grandmother, laughing.  "We have to look at
them!"

"Let's go now," said Mary Jane.

"Oh, my no," replied Grandmother, "before breakfast?  I should say not!
We'll do all the things we planned to do, right straight through the
plan.  Then we'll get those bundles and see if I can guess what your
mother meant."

Mary Jane liked the good breakfast Grandmother prepared and she loved
helping set the table and clear it off and help with the work like a
grown-up person, but she was glad when at last everything was done and
she and Grandmother went up the stairs to look at those mysterious
bundles.

"You get the bundles out of your trunk, Mary Jane," said Grandmother,
"and I'll get my glasses."

"Then shall we go down' to the sitting-room?" asked Mary Jane.

"No, we'll stay right up here," said Grandmother, smiling, "because
unless I miss my guess, we'll want to be up here before we're through
anyway."

That puzzled Mary Jane more than ever because, in all the three days
she had been there.  Grandmother had never sat upstairs, but always in
her big rocker at the bay window in the room they called the
sitting-room.  She hurried to her room, raised the cover of her little
trunk and turned it way back so it wouldn't fall on her.  Then she
reached in and got out the two bundles, and hurried back to
Grandmother's room.

"There's some writing on them," she announced.

"Then I expect that will help us guess what we are to do with them,"
said Grandmother, and she adjusted her glasses.  "Let's see what it
says."  She read off the first one, "'This is the way Mary Jane learns
to sew.'  Shall we open this first, Mary Jane?" she asked, "or shall we
read what the other one says?"

"Oh, I know, I know!  I know!" cried Mary Jane, clapping her hands.  "I
know what that is, Grandmother, only I came away in such a hurry that I
forgot all about it!  It's a present for you--I made it all myself!
Let's open it first."

"A present for me?" asked Grandmother.  "I guess we will open it
first."  And she carefully undid the string, opened out the paper and
looked inside.  "A picture card!  My dear little girl!" she exclaimed,
"and you did it all yourself?"

"All myself," said Mary Jane proudly, and she leaned up against her
grandmother and pointed out the perfections.  "See?  It's a picture of
a little girl, that's me, and she's raking her garden.  And here," she
picked up another one, "this is a picture of a butterfly that flies
over the garden.  I did one of a little girl, that's me, with a pink
sunbonnet and one with a sunflower and I sent those to my Aunt Effie.
And these are for you."

"I certainly am pleased," said Grandmother heartily and she kissed Mary
Jane once for each card.  "And what else have we here?"

"That's my sewing things," said Mary Jane as she opened out the rest of
the package; "that's my needle case and my thread and my cards to sew."

"Then let's have a sewing day," suggested Grandmother, "and you sew
your cards and I'll do my mending."

"But first let's open the other bundle," suggested Mary Jane, who, like
Grandmother, had forgotten it for the minute.  "I don't know what it's
got inside."

"We'll see," said Grandmother, and she read on the outside, "'I wish I
had more.'"

"That's funny," said Mary Jane, "more what?"

"Wait and see," replied Grandmother, and Mary Jane noticed that her
eyes twinkled.  "She needn't have worried, I have plenty."  And she
undid the bundle.

"Why!  Why--how funny!" exclaimed Mary Jane when she saw what the
bundle contained.  "That isn't anything!  Why did Mother send those?
They're just scraps."

"Not scraps, dear," said Grandmother, and, much to Mary Jane's
surprise, she seemed very pleased, "pieces.  They're pieces for a
quilt.  Your mother always was crazy about my quilts."

"But those aren't quilts," insisted Mary Jane.  "Those are just rolls
out of the scrap bag--I've seen them there.  That's a piece of my
rompers," she added, pointing to a roll of blue, "and that's my best
pink gingham, and that's Alice's new school dress."

"So much the better," laughed Grandmother.  "When you know what things
are from, your quilt is more interesting.  Let's put these on the bed
while you come with me to the linen room and see what a quilt is."

They went down the hall to a queer little room that had shelves from
the floor to the ceiling and on every shelf was bedding of some sort.
Grandmother took down a quilt from the middle shelf and spread it out
on the floor.  "There, Mary Jane," she said, "look at that!  There's a
piece of your mother's first short dress and a piece of her mother's
graduating dress--that pink sprigged scrap; and that's your Uncle Tom's
shirt waist; and--well, don't you see?  There they are; all the
'scraps' as you call them cut into pieces and made into a quilt.  I've
always promised that your mother should have this some day.  I think
I'll have to send it to her now if she's raising a girl who don't know
what a quilt is!"

Mary Jane got down on her hands and knees and looked at each piece.
"Oh, I know now!" she suddenly exclaimed, "I remember!  Mother made one
for her doll bed when she was a little girl and it had a piece like
this with a red horse shoe in it."

"To be sure," said Grandmother much pleased.  "Did she show it to you?"

"Yes, only I disremembered for a while," said Mary Jane solemnly.  "She
showed it to me the day we sewed.  She made it when she was a little
girl about as old as me, maybe, because they didn't have nice sewing
cards then."

"Yes, she made it when she was visiting me, one summer, just as you are
here now," said Grandmother thoughtfully.

"Oh, Grandmother," cried Mary Jane suddenly, and she was so excited she
sat up straight and tall, "I'll tell you what let's do to-day!"

"Well," said Grandmother, kindly.

"Let's me make a quilt."

"Fine!" said Grandmother, "only you know you can't make it all in one
day--it takes a long time to make a quilt, a good quilt."

"Let's begin it then," said Mary Jane, "and let's make it all pretty
like this."

"I'll put this away," replied Grandmother, "and then I'll get my piece
bag and see what I have that goes well with what your mother sent.
Then we'll make a pattern and cut our pieces--you see, there's a lot to
quilt-making before the sewing begins."

[Illustration: "We'll make a pattern and cut out our pieces--there's a
lot to quilt-making."]

"Goody!" cried Mary Jane happily, "I know I'm going to like it all!"

And she did.

She liked the hunting out pretty pieces and cutting them out (yes, she
did some of that herself, cutting carefully by the little pattern
Grandmother made for her) and counting them and pinning them together:
four blues with five pink, or four figured with five plain; everything
was four and five.

Then, when material was ready for seven blocks, Grandmother said they
had done enough cutting for one day.  So they gathered up the pinned
together blocks and went downstairs to the cozy sitting-room and sewed
the rest of the morning.  And while they sewed Grandmother told stories
about when Mary Jane's mother was a little girl and came to visit.

Right in the middle of a fine story, Grandfather came into the room and
asked, "Isn't there going to be any dinner to-day?"  And sure enough it
was five minutes to twelve o'clock!

Grandmother jumped up and hurried to the kitchen and Grandfather said,
"Well, isn't it too bad it's a rainy day?"

"Rainy?" exclaimed Mary Jane, for she'd forgotten all about the rain
and her lonesomeness of the early morning.  "Rainy?  Why, Grandfather!
Rainy days are the best days of all when they're days at Grandmother's
house!"



GARDENING WITH GRANDFATHER

"This sewing business and feeding chickens and watching mice is all
very well," said Grandfather one day, "but I'd like to know where I
come in?  If it wasn't for having good company at meal time and for
about ten minutes after supper in the evening, I'd never guess I had a
little granddaughter visiting me--I wouldn't, indeed!"

Mary Jane looked very serious.  She wasn't quite certain sure whether
Grandfather was really disappointed in her or whether he was only
teasing.

Grandmother saw she was puzzled and helped her out by saying, "Very
well, Mr. Hodges, then you should find something your little great
granddaughter likes to do!"  And from the way Grandmother's eyes
twinkled, Mary Jane knew that she understood Grandfather was only
teasing.  And, oh, dear, but she was relieved!  It's fine to go
visiting; but it's dreadful to be visiting and disappoint folks; and
Mary Jane was glad to know she hadn't.

"That's exactly what I'm doing, my dear," laughed Grandfather.  "I'm
finding something."

"Are you really, Grandfather," cried Mary Jane happily.  "Let's go do
it now!  I'm all through my dessert; may I please be excused,
Grandmother?" and Mary Jane prepared to slip down from her chair.

"No use," said Grandfather with a shake of his head.  "It isn't ready
yet."

"Not ready?" echoed Mary Jane.  "Does it have to be ready before we do
it?"

"It surely does," laughed Grandfather, "That's the reason we haven't
done it before."

"But I think I'll like it without being ready," suggested Mary Jane as
she went around to his chair.  "Let's see if I wouldn't."

"No, sir, you can't tease me that way, Pussy," laughed Grandfather.
"You'll have to wait."

"Is it alive?" asked Mary Jane, who by this time was fairly bubbling
over with curiosity.

"Well, yes," replied Grandfather and he chuckled to himself in high
glee.

"Is it big as me?" asked Mary Jane.

"One way 'tis and another way 'tisn't," said Grandfather.

"Oh, dear!" sighed Mary Jane, "that's the kind I never can guess!"
Then she thought carefully for a real good question.  "Is it brown or
gray?"

Grandfather leaned back and laughed.  When he finally could answer he
said, "It's partly grayish brown and some day it may be all brown for
a' I know."

"Then it isn't a mouse and it isn't a lamb," said Mary Jane positively,
"and that's all I can think of now."

"That's a good thing," said Grandmother, "for there's the postman and I
surely expect a letter from your mother to-day."

One of the things that Mary Jane most loved to do was to run out front
when the rural mail carrier came along in his little wagon and watch
him put the mail in the box out in front of her grandfather's house.
Usually they spied him way down the road just about the time they were
through dinner and Mary Jane would run out and watch him.  The first
time he saw her he handed the mail out to her and that disappointed her
greatly.  She had wanted to see him put the mail in the box as
Grandfather had told her he would.  So on the second day, Grandfather
went out with her and explained to the carrier that little girls from
the city liked mail that came in boxes better than mail that was just
handed in city fashion.  And after that, the carrier smiled and nodded
to her each time and then tucked the mail as carefully into the box as
though he didn't know she would take it out the first minute he was out
of sight.

"I'll go down with you," said Grandfather, rising quickly from the
table, "because I'm expecting a letter too."

Sure enough!  There was a letter for Grandmother that looked very much
as though it came from Mary Jane's mother; and a letter for Grandfather
that looked to be exactly the same letter!  There wasn't a mite of
difference so far as Mary Jane could see, except in the one Grandfather
said was his, the first word was shorter.  And there was a letter for
Mary Jane too, the first letter she ever received from her mother.

They all three sat down on the front steps to read.  First Mary Jane
opened hers and Grandmother helped her read it.  "I'm going to learn to
read myself," declared Mary Jane, "'cause folks that get letters ought
to know how to read them."

"You're right they should," agreed Grandmother, "and I shouldn't wonder
a bit but what a certain little girl I know would go to school this
fall."

"And that little girl's me?" asked Mary Jane.

"That little girl's you," said Grandmother.  "Now listen while I read
my letter."

So Mary Jane sat real still and heard Grandmother's letter.

"Now then, Father," said Grandmother as she folded hers up and put it
back in the envelope, "we'll hear yours, Grandfather."

"Not right now," said Grandfather, rising suddenly and starting for the
barn.  "I'm too busy to stop any more."  And that was the last they saw
of him all afternoon.

"I do think that's the queerest," said Grandmother as she looked after
her husband.  "He's always so anxious to hear letters and I know he
isn't as busy as he makes out.  But if he don't want to tell he won't,
Mary Jane, so I guess we'd better stop thinking about it."

Mary Jane ran up to her room to put her precious letter away for
safe-keeping.  Then she and Grandmother tidied up the dinner work and
dressed for afternoon.  Grandmother didn't have lots of hard work to
do, as some farm folks have, for she and Grandfather had long ago
stopped doing the hardest work on the farm.  They rented out most of
their land and kept for themselves only enough garden and chicken yard
and pasture to make them feel comfortably busy.  So Grandmother had
plenty of time for pleasant walks and rides with Mary Jane.

Grandfather seemed to be tired at supper that evening so nothing was
said about secrets or letters or anything like that, and he went off to
bed about as soon as Mary Jane did.

But the next morning he seemed rested and jolly as ever.

"Do you happen to know any little girl around here who wants to work
with me today?" he asked at the breakfast table.

"That's what Daddah says when he wants me to work in my garden," said
Mary Jane.

"You don't tell me!" exclaimed Grandfather in great surprise.  That was
one of his favorite expressions, and Mary Jane had to always stop and
think before she could realize that what he meant was, "You do tell
me!"  "And what do you say to him when he asks you that?"

"I say, 'I know one little girl and that's me,'" replied Mary Jane.

"And what do you say to me?" continued Grandfather.

"I say, 'I know one little girl, and she's right here,'" laughed Mary
Jane and she jumped down from the table and gave her grandfather a big
bear hug.  "What is it we're going to do?"

"Wait and see," said Grandfather.

"Then it's the secret!" exclaimed Mary Jane, dancing around.  "It's the
secret!  I know it is!  Grandmother!  Let's hurry quick and do our work
so we can go."

"You put on your sun hat and go this very minute," exclaimed
Grandmother.  "You've been such a good little helper--I guess I can get
along alone one day."

So in about one minute Mary Jane had her sun hat from upstairs and was
going out the back door with her grandfather.

They went out past the tool house and past the chicken yard and up to
the garden.

"No, Bob," said Grandfather as Bob tried to push in through the garden
gate with them, "we don't need you here.  G'on back to the house!"  And
Bob turned obediently and ran back.

"Isn't he the nicest dog!" explained Mary Jane, as they went along.
And then she stopped right short and couldn't say another word.  For
right there in front of her, just as plain as day as though it had been
growing a whole spring, was her own garden!  Yes, her _very own_
garden!  With the nasturtiums in front and the marigolds next and the
young lettuce in the back.  Mary Jane could hardly believe her eyes!

"Why--but--how--I thought gardens stayed in one town!" she finally
exclaimed.

"They do usually," said Grandfather and his eyes twinkled with pleasure
over her surprise, "usually they do."

"But my garden didn't," stammered Mary Jane.  "Did it come on a train
like I did?"

"No," laughed Grandfather; "guess again."

"It couldn't come any other way," insisted Mary Jane, "'cause I was out
here last week with Grandmother to see her lettuce and this wasn't here
then and you can't come 'way from my house in one day unless you ride
on a train--it's too far."

"That's good thinking for Miss Five-year-old," said Grandfather
proudly, "so I guess I'll have to explain.  You see, I wrote to your
mother and asked her how your garden was at home.  And she told me,
exactly; she even drew a little picture so I would know just how things
were planted.  After I got that letter, it was easy to take nasturtiums
and marigolds and lettuce from your grandmother's garden and make one
for you.  She was glad to give you some."

"So that's the reason you wouldn't read Mother's letter yesterday,"
said Mary Jane.

"That's it," agreed Grandfather.

"And that's the reason you were so tired last night," continued Mary
Jane.  "You'd been working so hard to 'sprise me."

"Well," admitted Grandfather, "that may have had something to do with
it."

"I think I've got the _bestest_ grandfather!" exclaimed Mary Jane
suddenly, and she threw her arms around him so hard, oh, ever so hard.
"And now do we work here?"

"Not to-day," said Grandfather, "because you couldn't work with my big
tools.  Tomorrow morning I'll drive into the village and get you a
little set of tools just your size like you have at home.  This
afternoon we'll look around and see if everything's all right in my
garden.  Then to-morrow we can go to work, as soon as we come home."

Mary Jane took hold of his hand and together they went back into his
nice big garden.

"Um-m-m," said Grandfather suddenly as he bent over his carrot bed.  "I
was afraid so, I was afraid so!"

"What's the matter?" asked Mary Jane who couldn't see that much was
wrong.

"See those nibbled off carrots?" asked Grandfather.

Mary Jane looked closely and saw the broken tips.

"We'll have to catch that thief," said Grandfather.  "I guess we need
Bob after all."  Grandfather stuck his finger to his mouth and made a
loud whistle.  Then he called, "Here Bob!  Here Bob!  Here Bob!"

Bob came bounding down the garden path, wagging his tail and eager to
be of use.

"See that?" demanded Grandfather, pointing to the broken tips.

Bob sniffed and sniffed.  He twisted his ears backward and forward and
sniffed again.  Then he started briskly over to the back of the garden.

"We'll find him!" exclaimed Grandfather.  "Come on, Mary Jane!  Bob's
not much of a hunter but I'll guess that he'll find him and we'll scare
him off!"

Mary Jane, who didn't in the least understand who "him" was or what was
going to be found or done, trotted along behind her grandfather and Bob
eager to see something new.



THE GARDEN THIEF

"What are we doing, Grandfather?" asked Mary Jane as she trotted along
behind her grandfather and Bob.  "What are we doing and where are we
going and who's the thief?"

"No time to talk," called Grandfather over his shoulder.  "You'll see!
Come along and take hold of my hand."

Mary Jane ran as fast as ever she could till she caught up with her
grandfather and got a firm hold of his hand.  Then she felt better: for
when a little girl doesn't know what _is_ going on, she wants to have
hold of _something_--you know how that is yourself.  Bob led them out
of the corner of the garden; across the small cornfield back of the
barn; across the pasture and into the woods beyond.  There he stopped
and sniffed in the bushes and through the dead leaves in what Mary Jane
thought was the most curious way she had ever seen a dog act.

"Well!" exclaimed Grandfather disgustedly, "if you can't find him any
better than that--I'll hunt myself!"  And to Mary Jane's amazement, he
too, began hunting in the piles of dead leaves where Bob was diligently
sniffing.

Suddenly he cried, "Mary Jane!  Mary Jane!  Come here this minute!"

Mary Jane, who had been standing by a stump where her grandfather left
her when he followed Bob into the woods, eagerly ran over to where he
stood.  He waited quietly till she was clear up to him and then he
reached down and lifted up a pile of dead leaves and rubbish.

"Oh, Grandfather!" exclaimed the little girl, "what are they?"

"What do you think they are?" he asked.

"I don't think," replied Mary Jane, "'cause I never saw them before.
But they look like the Easter things at the store."

"Right you are!" exclaimed Grandfather much pleased.  "They're baby
rabbits--and in one of the prettiest little nests I ever found.  I'm
glad you were along to see."

"Were they what you were hunting, Grandfather?" asked Mary Jane as she
half timidly bent over the little bundle of gray and white fur.  "They
wouldn't steal your garden, would they?"

"No, not those pretty little things," replied Grandfather, "but their
father would.  Can't say as I blame him though," continued Grandfather,
laughing, "with such a family to feed he'd naturally have to get
whatever he could.  Usually the rabbits don't bother my garden.  Well,
Pussy, what shall we do with them?"

"Do with them?" asked Mary Jane.  "What is there to do?"

Grandfather looked down at the little girl; by this time she was on her
knees beside the nest, and bending over the little rabbits as though
she'd like to touch them but didn't feel quite well enough acquainted.
"Shall we leave them out here or--"

But Mary Jane didn't give him a chance to finish his sentence.

"Oh, Grandfather!" she exclaimed, "could we take them home?"

"I guess we could if you wanted to," he said.  "Your mother was always
a great hand for pet rabbits and I believe that the very house I once
built for her, is up in the loft to this day.  Let's cover them over
again and go find it."

"Will they stay here while we're gone?" asked Mary Jane as he tenderly
laid the leaves back over the little creatures.

"They will till their mother gets a chance to take them away," answered
Grandfather.  "If she thinks we'll hurt them, she'll carry them to some
other hiding place.  But if we hurry, we'll get them first."

"Won't she know that we'll take good care of them?" asked Mary Jane.

"She won't know it at first," replied Grandfather, "but she'll soon
find out.  We'll fix them up in a comfortable box and they'll be as
safe and happy and perhaps even better fed than if they'd stayed out
here in the woods where stray dogs might hurt them.  Come on, now,
Pussy; let's hurry for the box."

Mary Jane took hold of his hand again and they hurried back through the
pasture and the cornfield to the barn.

It didn't take Grandfather long to find the little rabbit house he had
made for Mary Jane's mother years ago.  "The box part is good as new,"
he said, "and I'll get some fresh screening from the attic to cover
over this open side."

Mary Jane trotted along beside him up to the mysterious, big attic at
the top of the house, where, from a dark corner, he pulled a strip of
new wire screen.  They took it down to the back porch where he had left
the box and in less than half an hour he had the new home all ready for
the rabbits.

Of course Grandmother heard them working around and came to see what
was going on.

"Oh, the cunningest bunnies, five of them, we found," Mary Jane told
her, "little and soft and gray and white just like the Easter bunnies
in the store, and we're going to bring them up to your house to live so
not any bad dogs will hurt them and so I can feed them."

"Won't that be fun," said Grandmother approvingly, "but how are you
going to carry them?"

Mary Jane stared at her grandmother thoughtfully.  "Will they go in my
hand?"

"Carry five?" asked Grandmother.  "I thought you said five.  You
couldn't get that many in your hand."

"No-o-o, I 'spect I couldn't," said Mary Jane.  "How'll I do it?"

"Suppose we fix a basket," suggested Grandmother, "then they would be
safe and comfortable while they made the journey."

Mary Jane thought that a wonderful idea and she helped Grandmother hunt
up a basket from the storeroom and fold a soft old cloth to line it.
By the time they had it all ready, Grandfather had the new home
finished and he and Mary Jane set out for the woods to get their new
family.

Just before they got to the nest they saw the mother rabbit dart away.
Such a pretty little thing she was, all soft gray except her tiny stub
of a tail which was snow white.  She hurried away so quickly Mary Jane
hardly got more than a glance at her before she was out of sight behind
a log.

"I'll wager she'll watch us," said Grandfather, chuckling, "and then
she'll know where we take her babies.  Well, that's all right, Mrs.
Rabbit," he added; "you've a right to know where your family is.  If
you'd made a safer nest, I'd leave them here for you, but as it is,
they'll be better off where they're going than where they are."

"But didn't you say they ate the garden?" asked Mary Jane, suddenly
remembering what had started them out on their journey.

"Yes, they do a bit," answered Grandfather, "but they mostly let us
alone so I guess we won't think any more about the little they stole."
While he was talking, he had set the basket on the ground and now he
lifted off the rubbish and tenderly took out two little rabbit babies
and set them in the basket.

"Why!" exclaimed Mary Jane as she bent over to see, "they's only three
bunnies!"

"Sure enough!" agreed Grandfather.  "How many did you think there were?"

"I didn't think," said Mary Jane.  "I counted them; they had five noses
when we saw them before.  I know because I can count one, two, three,
four, five!"

"You surely can," said Grandfather much puzzled, "then their mother
must have taken two away.  Like as not she was after another one when
she saw us coming.  Now cover them up good and warm, Mary Jane," he
added as he set the third bunny into the basket, "and we'll hurry off
home."

He let her carry the basket every bit of the way, and she was careful,
oh, so very careful, not to jiggle the bunnies as she walked.

When they got back to the porch Grandmother came out to watch them put
the bunnies onto the nice soft cotton she had fixed in the corner of
the box and she showed Mary Jane how to fix water and some freshly
picked lettuce for them.

"Now, then," she said, "that's enough for now.  Dinner's ready and I
guess you're ready for it!"

Mary Jane was hungry enough to be willing to leave the rabbits long
enough to eat--but no longer.  The minute she had finished she ran out
to watch her pets.  She sat down on the grass beside the box and
watched and watched and watched, but those funny little fellows didn't
eat or do anything!  They just stayed snuggled up in the soft cotton as
tight as ever they could.

"They feel strange and queer, just like you would if some one took you
away from your bed," said Grandmother when she came out to see how Mary
Jane was getting along.  "Why don't you come and take a ride with me
and maybe by the time you come home, they'll be better acquainted and
will come out and eat."

So Mary Jane reluctantly left her post of watching and went riding.
Grandfather surprised them and went along too, and the new gardening
tools and a big sun hat were bought and stowed away in the back of the
car.

"Let's not stay too long," said Mary Jane, as they turned away from the
store; "let's see if the bunnies feel better now."

"I don't believe that child wants to ride a bit," laughed Grandmother.
"We might as well go home!"  So they turned back the way they had come.

The minute she was out of the car, Mary Jane ran to the rabbit house.
Not a rabbit was there!  Not one of the pretty bunnies she had left
snugged up in the corner!

"Grandfather!" called Mary Jane, "Grandmother!  Come quick!  They's
gone!"

"Think of that!" exclaimed Grandfather as he hurried up to see.

"Poor child!  That's too bad!" cried Grandmother sympathetically as she
peered into the empty box.  "Like as not their mother came after them,
though how she got them out I don't quite see."

"I do," laughed Grandfather, and he pointed to a hole in the back of
the box.  "I guess this wood wasn't as sound as I thought it was!
Well, if she wanted them that much, I guess she deserves them!  But
who'd a thought she'd be so quick!"

"Where are my bunnies?" cried Mary Jane, "where did she take them?"
And Grandmother noticed that she was bitterly disappointed.

"Never you mind, pet," said Grandmother, and she put her arm
comfortingly around the little girl.  "They're not far away, depend on
that.  But if you want something to feed and take care of, something
all your own--I'll get it for you."

"Will you, Grandmother, really truly?"

"Really truly," nodded Grandmother, "and you shall keep it in this
pretty little house!"

"Goody!" exclaimed Mary Jane, "and will it be pretty like my Easter
rabbits?"

"Every bit as pretty," said Grandmother, "just come with me to see if
it isn't!"

And she took hold of Mary Jane's hand and together they went toward the
chicken house.



MARY JANE'S FAMILY

"Is it a chicken?" asked Mary Jane as she saw the direction they were
taking.

"Bless the child!" exclaimed Grandmother, "she can ask questions the
fastest!  No, my dear, it isn't a chicken!  You'd better wait and see."

"Yes, I'm a-waiting," said Mary Jane with a tiny sigh, "but I hope it
isn't very long waiting, 'cause I like to see what I'm going to have."
And she skipped along by her grandmother as fast as she could.

Fortunately it wasn't very far to the chicken house, so she hadn't long
to wait.  They went in at the front of the house; that was no surprise
because Mary Jane had been there every day of her visit.  She looked
around quickly but she didn't see anything new, anything that looked
like a surprise.  But Grandmother didn't stop there; she went on back
through a little door Mary Jane had never noticed, and into a room that
was nice and warm and had a big desk in it.  Or at least Mary Jane
thought it looked like a big desk.  And there wasn't anything there
that looked like a surprise; Mary Jane would have begun to be worried
if she hadn't been so sure Grandmother must know what she was talking
about.

"Now, let's see how heavy you are," said Grandmother, "maybe we'll need
your Grandfather after all."  She put her hands under Mary Jane's arms
and tried to lift her up.  "I can do it but I can't hold you long
enough," she said with a shake of her head, "better run call your
grandfather, dear."

"But he's way out in the barn," cried Mary Jane who was fairly dancing
with eagerness she was so anxious to see the surprise; "can't I get a
chair?"  And then she thought how silly that was when of course there
wasn't a chair in the chicken house!  "Or a box, Grandmother," she
added as an after thought.

"A box?" questioned Grandmother, looking around thoughtfully, "oh, yes!
I know.  There's one right out in that next room.  It's not very heavy
and I believe you can get it yourself, Mary Jane.  Suppose you try."

Mary Jane was very glad to try.  She hurried out the door into the
other room, spied the box over in the corner and dragged it back into
the little room where Grandmother was waiting.

"See, Grandmother?" she said proudly.  "I can stand on it."

"So you can, so you can," agreed Grandmother much pleased.  "You're a
good planner, little girl.  Now turn the box on its long side, so; and
climb on it; then--"

"What's that noise?" exclaimed Mary Jane suddenly as through the quiet
of the little room she heard a queer, "Peep!  Peep!"  So many "peeps,"
so soft and low that she was hardly sure she heard them.

"Never mind!" cried Grandmother, who was looking into the big case that
Mary Jane had thought was a desk.  "Climb up quickly and look!"

Mary Jane needed no second urging.  She set the box on its long side
and, grasping her grandmother's hand firmly so it wouldn't tip over as
she stepped on it, she climbed up and looked into the "desk."

Such a sight as met her eyes!  Tiny little chicks!  Rows and rows and
rows of them!  Under the glass cover of that queer looking case.

"They's about a million!" she gasped in amazement, "all in one box!"

"Not a million, dear," laughed Grandmother, "but a good many and
they're almost ready to take out."

"But how did they get in?" asked Mary Jane much puzzled.

Grandmother explained that the queer looking "desk" was really an
incubator--a box in which eggs were kept warm till the little creature
inside each egg was big enough to break the shell and take care of
itself.

Mary Jane looked and looked and looked and thought it was the most
wonderful of all the many wonders she had seen at Grandmother's.  She
thought of a dozen questions she wanted to ask, but Grandmother seemed
so busy tending to this and that and the other that she decided to wait
till some other time to ask them.

"Now, dear," said Grandmother, "you stay here and be deciding which you
want for yours while I get your grandfather to help me take them out.
I was so in hopes you could see this, pet, because I knew you'd like
to."

She bustled out of the room in search of Grandfather, and Mary Jane
studied over the rows of chickens.  And just at that minute she spied
_them_!  She knew the second she saw them that there was her family.

They were huddled down in one corner, all six of them and they seemed
lonesome and--well, different.  Of course Mary Jane may have imagined
that, but so it seemed to her.  Their bills were funny and their eyes
were different from the eyes of the other chicks, and the shape of
their tails and of their wings seemed different, some way.

"I'm going to have you and give you a nice time," said Mary Jane,
whispering tenderly above the case cover.  "I'd like to take care of
you, so don't you mind if you are funny!" And with the tip, tip of her
finger, she touched the glass directly over them.

Just then Grandmother Hodges came back into the room with Grandfather
right behind her.

"Grandmother!" cried Mary Jane eagerly, "may I have any ones?  May I
pick them out?  May I have these funny little ones?  These that are all
by their lonesomes in the corner?"

Grandfather and Grandmother both looked to where Mary Jane pointed.

"The ducks!" they exclaimed together.  "They came out all right!"

Then Grandmother added, "To be sure you may have them, Mary Jane.
Those are ducks, and I put in six eggs so we could have a bit of roast
duck, come winter.  They'll be sure to get into trouble with the
chickens and I would be so glad if you'll make them your family and
look after them for me.  Here, Father," she said to her husband, "let's
take them out for her first."  So Grandfather got the basket Mary Jane
and her grandmother had brought out with them and then he held up the
glass cover while Grandmother tenderly lifted the tiny ducks, one by
one, and set them inside.  Then she covered them all over with a thick
cover.

"But Grandmother," cried Mary Jane in dismay, "they can't breathe!
They'll die!"

"Not they," laughed Grandmother.  "Run along now, and set the basket in
the sun by your rabbit box.  I'll be right out and fix them up for you."

So for the second time that day, Mary Jane found herself carrying a
basket of living creatures.  "Wouldn't Doris like to be here!" she said
to herself as she thought of her little friend back home, "and wouldn't
I like to show her my family!"  She walked slowly and carefully so as
not to tip the baby ducks and it was with a sigh of relief that she
finally set them down by the rabbit box.

Fortunately, Grandmother came along in just a few minutes so Mary Jane
didn't have time to worry about the "peeps" that were coming more and
more loudly from the basket.

Grandmother took the ducks one by one from the basket and set them on
some soft bits of old wool in the corner of the box.  "We don't need a
cover for this box," she said, pulling at the screen Grandfather had
tacked on, "till they get bigger.  We'll take it off so you can take
care of them easier.  There now!" she added as the screen came off,
"we'll cover them up so," and she laid the soft cloth that had been on
the basket over the little ducks; "now we'll let them be for a while."

"But we didn't feed them, Grandmother," objected Mary Jane.

"To be sure not," laughed Grandmother.  "They don't want anything to
eat just yet.  Not to-day.  All they want is to be warm and cozy."

"Don't they want anything to drink either?" asked Mary Jane.

"No," replied Grandmother, "nothing to drink either.  To-morrow you can
fix them a drinking dish and I'll show you about their food, but now,
we'll just let them be.  Listen!  What's that?"

Grandmother straightened up and counted the rings of her telephone bell.

"Yes, that's our ring.  You take this basket back to your grandfather
while I answer it."

But before Mary Jane got out to the chicken house Grandmother was back
at the kitchen steps calling, "Father!  Father!"  And then as she got
no answer she called to Mary Jane, "Mary Jane!  Tell your grandfather
it's long distance and he should come quick!"

Mary Jane hurried in to tell her grandfather the message and then she
waited, wonderingly, till he should come back.  Had anything happened?



COUSIN JOHN'S VISIT

But the minute Mary Jane saw her grandfather smile as he came back into
the chicken house, she knew that if something _had_ happened it was a
nice something--for he was smiling a nice sort of a smile.

"Good news for us, Pussy," he said.  "Now you're going to have some one
to play with."

"Another Bob?" asked Mary Jane.

"Another fiddlesticks!" laughed Grandfather.  "Haven't you enough
animal friends as it is?  What would you do with more?  No, sir!  This
is a real playmate."

"Who is she?" asked Mary Jane.

"_She_!" laughed Grandfather, "is your cousin Margaret's boy John--or
rather, she's your mother's cousin.  They live over in Benset, you
know, Pussy.  They promised that if you came this summer, they'd let
John come over for a visit so you two could play."

"Oh, goody!" cried Mary Jane happily, "how big is he?"

"About as big as you are, I expect," said Grandfather thoughtfully,
"but I can't really say because I haven't seen him for a long time.
But you'll know all about him to-morrow."

After that Grandfather and Grandmother fixed the little chickens as
quickly as ever they could, and then Grandfather went out to clean up
his car and Grandmother and Mary Jane hurried off to the kitchen to see
about the baking of good things to eat, for Cousin Margaret was to
bring Tom herself and would stay part of a day before going back.

How Mary Jane did love the work and bustle!  Grandmother made a big jar
of sugar cookies (she let Mary Jane put the sugar on them herself, and
you know that's fun!), and a big cake with thick chocolate icing (and
Mary Jane scraped out the frosting bowl), and then she "dressed" two
chickens (and Mary Jane thought that the most wonderful performance she
had ever seen).

Then they went upstairs and got out fresh bedding, and Mary Jane
herself put out the fresh towels in the guest bathroom.  And by that
time it was six o'clock--time for bread and milk.  Everybody went to
bed early so as to be up and feeling fine in the morning.

Next morning Mary Jane helped Grandmother with the morning work; then
she put on her pink gingham dress and got out her biggest pink plaid
hair ribbon for Grandmother to tie.  And in no time at all, they were
off to the station.

When the train stopped and left a pretty lady and a rosy-cheeked little
boy of about Mary Jane's age on the tiny platform, Mary Jane suddenly
felt very shy.  She had never played with little boys, except Junior,
and he was so much younger she didn't count him, and she didn't quite
know how to talk to a little boy cousin she had never seen before.  But
she needn't have worried about what to say because the grown folks
talked all the time and the two children on the front seat beside
Grandfather Hodges, simply sat and looked at each other all the way
home!

But after Grandfather had helped them out, by their own doorstep, Mary
Jane seemed to feel that something must be said so she remarked, "Would
you like to see my mice?"

"I thought girls were afraid of mice," replied John.

"Well, I'm not," said Mary Jane scornfully.  "Come on see 'em."  And
she started for the barn.

Strange to relate, they hadn't got half way across the barn yard before
the big pig, the same one that had so frightened Mary Jane on her first
day, ran out of his pen in the barn and made straight for them.
Grandfather had been in a hurry both times he went for the train and
had forgotten to lock him up, most likely.  John, who wasn't any more
used to creatures than Mary Jane had been, screamed and screamed at the
top of his voice.

Mary Jane looked at him scornfully and, forgetting all about how she
herself had felt when _she_ first came, said, "He won't hurt you!  I'll
send him away!"  And without a thought of fear, she waved her arms
around as she had seen Grandfather do on that first day.  Mrs. Pig
stopped short as she had for Grandfather, and Mary Jane, delighted with
the success she seemed to be having, waved and shouted till
Grandfather, hearing the commotion, came running to see what the matter
could be.

"Well!  Well!  Well!" he exclaimed when he reached the barn gate and
saw what had happened.  "Say I couldn't make a farmer's girl out of
you, Mary Jane!  I'm proud of you!  Isn't she a good one, John?"

John, his eyes round with fear for himself and with admiration for his
new little cousin, nodded "Yes."

After that Grandfather stayed around near where they were and helped
Mary Jane show John the little pigs, Brindle Bess the cow, and then the
baby mice (who soon wouldn't be babies any more, by the way) up in the
loft.  And of course they went across the road to see the lamb that by
now was well acquainted with Mary Jane; and they played with Bob who
came frisking to meet them.  And last of all they showed John the brand
new baby ducks.

"I'd have liked the rabbits best," said John when they had told him
about the pets that were found and lost so soon the day before.
"Couldn't we get them back again?"

"Maybe we could, maybe we could," said Grandfather thoughtfully.  "We
hadn't tried.  Maybe that foolish mother took them back to where we got
them.  'Twould be just like her.  Let's go see."

So with a child on each side of him (just the very thing he liked best
too), Grandfather and his guests went back through the cornfield and
the pasture lot to where the rabbit nest had been.

"Well," said Grandfather as he bent over the rubbish where the nest had
been, "for a boy who had just come onto a farm, you're a pretty good
guesser, my son.  Look here!"  He pulled back the rubbish, just as he
had done the day before, and there, before their eyes were the rabbits,
five of them, just as soft and just as warm and comfortable as though
they had never taken a journey in their lives.

[Illustration: "There, before their eyes were the rabbits, five of
them."]

"Didn't they like our house we made for them?" asked Mary Jane.

"'Pears not," said Grandfather.  "What do you want to do about it,
children?"

"I've always wanted some rabbits in a box," said John, "and I never did
have any.  I want to feed 'em and watch 'em, you know."

"Yes, I know," agreed Grandfather, but that was all he said.

Mary Jane thought of saying that the box already had a family in it,
her family of ducks, but she thought maybe that wouldn't be polite, and
anyway, likely as not there were more boxes, so she just kept still,
very still.

And while they were all three standing there, wondering, Mary Jane
looked up and over in the hedge, she spied the mother rabbit standing
partly on her hind feet and looking at them as _hard_!

"Look!" cried Mary Jane, "there's their mother!"

The sound of a voice startled the little mother and she ran away,
lipity, lipity, lip; lipity, lipity, lip; such a funny little run! till
she reached the shelter of a log.  There she waited--they could see the
tip, white of her tail through the leaves.

"She's waiting to see what happens to her babies!" exclaimed Mary Jane,
and suddenly she made up her mind about rabbit pets.  "Let's leave them
here, John," she said quickly.  "Their mother's lonesome if they go up
to the house.  Let's leave them here and I'll give you half of my
ducks."

"All right," agreed John, "but may I come and see them sometimes,
Grandfather?"

"As often as you like.  You just let me know and we'll come twice a
day," said Grandfather, "and you'll have most as much fun with the
ducks, I'll wager.  Now let's see if we can't hunt up some dinner."
And they turned to the house.

Such a big day as Mary Jane and John did have!  They played and they
hunted eggs and they rode on the cow; yes, that can be done, didn't you
ever try it?  And they fed the chickens, and by night time they were so
sleepy and tired they hardly noticed their supper.

But after supper Grandfather sat down to look at his paper.  And as he
spread it out before him he suddenly chuckled to himself.

"The very thing!" he said, "the very thing!  Why didn't I think of that
before?"  Then he looked over at the droopy-eyed little folks sitting
on the window seat.  "But I suppose you wouldn't care to go?"

"Go where?" exclaimed both children in a breath.  "Where, Grandfather?"

"What you talking about, Father?" asked Grandmother.

Instead of answering, Grandfather passed his paper over to her and
pointed to where he had been reading.

Grandmother laughed and nodded.  "Yes, if you want to," she said, "but
they'd better be going to bed in a hurry if they're going to do all
that to-morrow!"

"Tell us!  Tell us!" cried Mary Jane eagerly.

"Not a word," laughed Grandfather.

"Not a word," insisted Grandmother.  "You wouldn't sleep a wink.  You
just stop thinking about what it is and go to sleep.  Father, you take
John up and I'll go with Mary Jane."

So without finding out the least thing, for Grandmother wouldn't even
answer a question, not one, Mary Jane went off to bed--and to sleep.



GRANDFATHER'S TREAT

It didn't take long to call those children the next morning, you may be
sure of that.  Just one word and they were up and dressing and more
eager than ever to know what Grandfather was planning to do.

"Now will you tell us?" asked John as he ran into the living-room where
Grandfather was sitting.

"Not a word till you've eaten your breakfast," replied Grandfather
laughingly.

"Not even a hint?" exclaimed Mary Jane as she hurried in, buttoning her
play dress as she came, just in time to hear what her Grandfather said.

"Not even a hint," repeated Grandfather, "not till each of you has
eaten your bowl of oatmeal and as much other breakfast as Grandmother
says you should."

"Come on, then, John," said Mary Jane practically; "let's eat quick!"
And she lead the way into the dining-room, where Grandmother had the
breakfast served and ready to eat.

Never did bowls of oatmeal disappear so rapidly as did those!  And when
the children had eaten a baked apple, an egg and a piece of toast
apiece, Grandmother declared that they had done their full duty and
could hear the surprise.

"But I'm not through myself!" exclaimed Grandfather in mock surprise.
"Did you put your breakfast on your chairs?  You couldn't have eaten it
_this_ soon!"  And he pretended to hunt around under the table for the
breakfast.

"You know we didn't hide it, Grandfather!" cried Mary Jane; she had
been there long enough to get used to Grandfather's teasing so she
wasn't puzzled by it as John was.  "Now you'll have to tell us, won't
he, Grandmother?"

Grandmother nodded and Grandfather got up from his chair and went to
the dining-room closet.  He rummaged on the shelf a minute and then
brought out a big roll of paper.  "There!" he exclaimed as he laid it
in front of the children, "you may unroll that and see if you can tell
what it is?  Better lay it on the floor so you don't tip the cream
pitcher over."

The children set the roll on the floor; then Mary Jane held the rolled
up part while John pulled it open.  They didn't have it half unrolled
before both children exclaimed, "A circus!  It's a circus.
Grandfather!  Are we going to a circus?"

"Shouldn't wonder a bit," said Grandfather indifferently as he took
another piece of toast; "shouldn't wonder a bit.  That is, of course,"
he added with marked politeness, "unless you don't care to go."

"You _know_ we care to go," laughed Mary Jane and she jumped up and
gave him a big bear hug.  "You know we just want to go the mostest of
anything in the world, we do!"

"Then we'll go!" said Grandfather and he stopped his teasing and told
them all about his plans.  "We'll start about nine o'clock so we'll
have plenty of time because we have to drive about fifteen miles and
get our lunch and--"

"And see the parade," interrupted John.

"Oh, yes, we see the parade before lunch, you're right," laughed
Grandfather.  "I see there's going to be nothing skipped in this day.
Then we want to see all the animals and get good seats and everything."

"Then we'd better start right now," suggested Mary Jane.

"Dear me, no, not for two hours yet!" exclaimed Grandfather.  "That's
the reason I got you that poster.  See?  It's all rolled up again.  Now
I'll help you unroll it so you can look at it while you wait for the
time to start."

Grandmother helped too, and the big poster picture was unrolled and a
chair set on each end of it to hold it open.  Then Mary Jane and John
could walk around and see it well.  It was a picture of the parade and
showed camels and lions in cages and elephants and clowns and pretty
ladies and everything and of course it was most interesting to look at.
But it wasn't so interesting that the children forgot to look at the
clock--indeed, no!  They watched and watched and watched and finally
the clock said, "Eight!"

"Now then," said Mary Jane, "that's all I'm going to look.  Let's roll
it up and get ready.  Maybe we can help Grandmother."

They found a good many interesting things to do.  Grandmother had
decided that they had better take their lunch with them and eat it in
the car because the town where the circus was to be was small and there
might be no good place for them to eat.

John got the lunch box from the storeroom and Mary Jane helped wrap
sandwiches and chicken and cake in oiled paper; and by quarter of nine
everything was ready.

"Fifteen minutes to wash hands and faces and change your clothes,"
exclaimed Grandmother as she heard Grandfather bring the car up to the
house.  "Can you do it?"

"'Deed yes," said Mary Jane, scampering on ahead up the stairs.  "I can
wash myself and you just look at the cracks.  And I can put my own
dress and shoes on.  I can do lots!"

"I should say you can!" exclaimed Grandmother admiringly.  "You do all
you can then, dear, and I'll help John."

At one minute to nine they were all at the door ready to climb into the
car and be off.

"Did you give them their spending money?" asked Grandmother as she
helped stow the lunch into the car.

"Not yet," answered Grandfather.  "I'll give it to them when they get
there."

"Listen to the man!" exclaimed Grandmother in disgust, "and make them
miss half the fun of carrying their own money.  Wait a minute!"  She
hurried into the house and came back in a minute with two little black
purses in her hand.  "There now, children," she said as she handed a
purse to each child, "you can carry your own money.  Here's two nickels
for you, Mary Jane, and two nickels for you, John.  Don't lose them!"

"We won't," said Mary Jane and she clutched hers tightly in her hand,
"and may we buy anything we want?"

"Anything you want--anything!" Grandmother assured her.

"We'll be home at six," called Grandfather as he started the car and
they whisked down the drive and away.

Such a jolly drive as that was!  They talked about the circus they were
to see and how they would spend their money.  And whether the lion
would roar and what they should buy.  And if the lady could really
truly do everything on her horse that the picture said she could and
how much ice cream cones would cost.  You see Grandmother had been
right--half the fun of spending money was the holding the money
beforehand and planning how it was to be spent.

Arriving at the village where the circus was, Grandfather drove them by
the great white tents--how wonderful and mysterious they did seem
too!--and then he found a good place to leave the car and they walked
to the main street where, from the second story of an office building,
they saw the parade go by.

When the sound of the calliope was growing fainter in the distance and
the children were certain sure that every bit of the parade had gone
by, John looked away from the window and asked, "Can we go to the
circus just as soon as we eat our lunch?"

"Yes, I should think we could," answered Grandfather.

"Then let's eat right now!" said John eagerly.

"Not such a bad idea," laughed Grandfather as he looked at his watch.
"Then we'll have plenty of time."

They thanked the kind gentleman in whose office they had been and
walked to the car to eat their lunch.  It was a good thing Grandfather
had left the car out of sight of the circus tent, for it was hard
enough to think about eating as it was!  Had the tents been in sight it
would have been harder still.  But on this quiet street and with the
wonderful parade to talk about they did full justice to Grandmother's
good meal.  And when they had finished, even to the tempting little
apple pies, one for each person, they started for the circus.

If you've been to a circus yourself, you know something of the sights
they saw and of the sounds they heard.  If you haven't better get
_your_ grandfather (or your father, if your grandfather isn't handy) to
take you to see one, for all the interesting things Mary Jane and John
heard and saw couldn't be put into one chapter--not even if it was a
double long one!  They saw curious animals, munching away at their
dinner as though they had lived right there in that spot all their
lives instead of seven hours.  They saw crawling snakes and marvelous
birds and the elephants that swayed their trunks backward and forward,
backward and forward, as though they were doing morning exercises.  And
the ponies!  The prettiest little ponies!  Mary Jane didn't know there
_were_ such pretty ponies in all the world.  She liked them the best of
anything she saw.  John liked the monkeys, and Mary Jane and he fed
them peanuts that Grandfather bought and they felt so very important
because the keeper said that the sign, "Don't feed these animals,"
needn't bother them!

Then they went into the big tent and found their seats--just in time
they were too, for the clowns came running in at that very minute and
kept the children, and the grown folks, too, in an uproar of laughter.
After the circus really began, it seemed to Mary Jane that she must be
in a dream.  It didn't seem as though all those jumping, racing, men
and horses and elephants and all, _could_ be real!  She had to pinch
herself hard to be sure she was awake.

Right in the middle a man came around with ice cream cones and John
bought one.

"May I buy one too, Grandfather?" asked Mary Jane.

"Just as you like," said Grandfather.  "It's your money."  And for the
first time she remembered the purse with the two nickels that she had
all the time held tightly clutched in her hand!  She bought the cone
and ate it as she watched the circus--calmly indifferent to the fact
that it was leaking onto her pretty pink dress.  You simply can't
notice _everything_ at a circus!

Finally the great show was over.  The last of the Cinderella parade
slipped behind the curtains and folks began to hurry home.  Grandfather
took hold of each child and together they climbed over the seats till
they reached the safe ground.

"Shall we look at the animals again?" he asked.

"We might try," said Mary Jane doubtfully, "but my looking don't see!"

"Poor child," said Grandfather as he suddenly realized how tired the
little girl must be.  "I expect your 'lookers' are tired enough to go
home."  He picked her up and set her on his shoulder and then, grasping
John's hand firmly, he made his way out of the crowd.

"But I can't go home _yet_!" exclaimed John, when he saw they were
leaving the grounds.  "I haven't spent all my money!"

"Well, we can't go home with any money left, that's a sure thing!"
laughed Grandfather.  "What do you want to get?"

"Another ice cream cone," said John, as he spied a man going by with a
tray.

"All right," said Grandfather, "do you want one too, Pussy?"

"No, I know what I want, but it isn't here yet," said Mary Jane.

"Where is it?" asked Grandfather.

"At the gate," replied Mary Jane.  "I saw it when we came in and I want
to buy it for my grandmother 'cause she couldn't come."

"That's a good idea," said Grandfather.  "You tell me when we come to
it."

Mary Jane pointed out the stand where balloons were sold, and with
grandfather's help picked out a fine big red one to take to Grandmother.

Of the drive home Mary Jane remembered not a thing.  She had seen and
heard so much that she just sat and listened while Grandfather and John
talked about everything.  She almost went to sleep twice--almost but
not quite, because she had to stay awake to hold Grandmother's balloon
and keep it from blowing out of the car.

Grandmother was watching for them when they drove into the yard and was
delighted with her balloon, said she felt exactly as though she had
been to the circus herself.

She tied it to the big glass water pitcher so they could see it all the
while they were eating their supper and she thanked Mary Jane many
times, for thinking to bring it to her.

"I know what I'm going to do first thing in the morning," said John, as
he and Mary Jane climbed upstairs to bed.  "I'm going to get out that
picture and see if they did everything it said."

"Well, I know they did," said Mary Jane positively, "and they did more
too, because they did all the noise; I heard 'em!"



LEARNING TO COOK

John stayed a whole week at Grandfather's and every one of the seven
days, he and Mary Jane had a beautiful time.  They fed chickens for
Grandmother and gathered eggs; they visited the rabbits, carrying with
them tit-bits of lettuce so they could the easier make friends with the
little creatures; they played with the lamb and watched Mary Jane's
ducks and rode in the car with Grandfather and altogether had a
wonderful time.  But the thing that both Mary Jane and John liked the
best--well, anyway, _almost_ the best of all, was playing circus in the
barn.

They pretended that the downstairs was the animal tent and that Brindle
Bess was the elephant--"she waves her hind tail just like he did his
front tail, so that's almost the same," John said--and that the hogs
were lions and little pigs, tigers.  And they pretended that the loft
was the performers' tent and that they were the circus folk.  Mary Jane
learned to turn a summerset in the hay and she tried to walk a rope but
that didn't work very well because the rope came down; evidently it
wasn't tied tightly.  John stood on his head and did tumbling and was
learning to throw three bottles at one time.  They tried to do the
elephant-eating-his-dinner act with Brindle Bess but she didn't seem to
understand (maybe because she hadn't been to the circus herself) and
tipped the table over and broke two dishes so they had to give that up.

But finally Cousin Margaret came to take John home and Mary Jane was
left without a playfellow.

"No use moping around, Mary Jane," said Grandmother briskly as she saw
Mary Jane sitting dolefully and idly on the back steps an hour after
John had gone.  "Find something to do as you did before John came and
you'll feel happier."

"But everything I know to do, needs two to do it," complained Mary
Jane.  "I don't know any children's things for just one!"

"Listen to the child!" laughed Grandmother, "when she played the whole
day long, all by herself and as happy as could be!  Well, then, dear,"
she added kindly, "if you don't know a children's thing to do, how
about a grown folks' thing?"

"Oh, Grandmother!" exclaimed the little girl happily, "is there a
grown-up folks' thing I can do?"

"I shouldn't wonder," said Grandmother, smiling mysteriously.  "I
shouldn't wonder a bit."

"But I don't want to sew," said Mary Jane, suddenly wondering if her
grandmother might be thinking of that, "I don't feel sew-ish."

"No, it's not sewing," replied Grandmother.  "I haven't time for sewing
this morning because I'm going to make strawberry jam."

"Then what is it?" asked Mary Jane and she pressed her face up against
the screen door in her effort to look inside at her grandmother's work.

"You come in and wash your hands and face--wash them good with soap,"
said Grandmother, "then bring me one of Grandfather's big handkerchiefs
and I'll tell you what it is."

That puzzled Mary Jane and she immediately forgot all about John and
her lonesomeness.  She hurried to the bathroom and washed her hands and
face the very best she knew how.  Then she reached into Grandfather's
drawer and picked out a handkerchief and took it down to Grandmother.

"Now get me five pins from my basket," said Grandmother.

Mary Jane got the pins in a jiffy and then Grandmother stopped her work
and began to unfold and refold the handkerchief.

"What--" began Mary Jane as she watched Grandmother's hands busy
folding, "what's it going to be?"

"A cap," replied Grandmother, smiling, "a cap for the cook who's going
to get our dinner"; and she set the cap squarely on Mary Jane's head!

"Me?  Get dinner?  Me?  By myself?" exclaimed Mary Jane, "but I don't
know how!"

"Oh, yes, you do," laughed Grandmother, "and what you don't know how,
you can learn.  Do you know what potatoes look like?"

"Why, of course," replied Mary Jane and she giggled at such a funny
question for potatoes were her favorite vegetable.  "I've seen 'em at
home and I've seen 'em in your cellar."

"Sure enough!" said Grandmother, nodding approvingly, "then you'll know
what to do.  Take that pan over there," and she pointed to the table,
"and go into the cellar and pick out six nice smooth potatoes."

Mary Jane did as she was told and she thought it was lots of fun too,
to hunt over the bin as she had seen Grandmother do and pick out
potatoes that just suited her.

"Now then," said Grandmother when Mary Jane brought up the potatoes,
"take that scrubbing brush over there and scrub them clean.  Then open
the oven door with this holder and lay the potatoes on the shelf to
bake."

"Just like I scrub my hands?" asked Mary Jane.

"Just the same," answered Grandmother, "only you don't use soap."

"How about some baked apples?" asked Grandmother as the oven door was
shut on the potatoes; and Mary Jane noticed that she said it just as
though Mary Jane could do anything or cook anything a body might want.

"They're good, _I_ think," replied Mary Jane.

"So do I," said Grandmother, "and we'll have some.  Your Grandfather
opened the last box just this morning.  You pick out three, Mary Jane,
and bring me the apple corer from the drawer and the flat brown bowl
from the pantry."

By that time, Mary Jane felt as important as any cook in the land.  She
washed the apples.  Grandmother hadn't said to do that, but Mary Jane
was sure it should be done.  Then she took the bowl and the corer over
to where Grandmother was working with her strawberries.

"Hold the apple so," said Grandmother, showing just how an apple should
be cored, "and turn the corer so--see if you can do the next, Mary
Jane."

Mary Jane could.  Not as quickly as Grandmother had done it, of course,
but she did it just the same and set it into the bowl as Grandmother
had done.

"Now comes the fun part," said Grandmother; "your mother used to love
to fix apples I remember."

"Did she do 'em just like me?" asked Mary Jane.

"Just exactly," said Grandmother.  "Get a cup of sugar from the bin;
and a teaspoon of cinnamon from that brown box over there and the pat
of butter you'll find on the pantry shelf.  Mix the sugar and cinnamon
together and fill up the holes in the apples with it--there's your
spoon, dear."

Grandmother went on with her work and Mary Jane stirred the sugar and
cinnamon and filled up the apples--it was lots of fun, she didn't
wonder her mother had liked to do it!  Then Grandmother showed her how
to put a lump of butter on the top of each apple--"just like a hat,
Grandmother!" exclaimed Mary Jane delightedly--and set the bowl in the
oven by the potatoes.

"Now can you set the table?" asked Grandmother.

"'Deed yes," said Mary Jane proudly; "I do that for Mother."

"I thought so," replied Grandmother.  "I won't have to show you about
that."

And she didn't.  Mary Jane put the silver and the napkins and the
pepper and salt and glasses and dishes all just as they should be.  And
at Grandmother's suggestion she put on a pat of butter and a glass of
Grandfather's favorite jelly.

"How's the circus lady?" called Grandfather, who happened to come into
the kitchen just then.

"She's gone," cried Mary Jane, "and a cook lady's come to visit you."
And she skipped out from the dining-room to show him her cap.

"Well, I like circuses," said Grandfather solemnly, "but I must say
that right at this minute I'd rather had a cook lady than a dozen
circuses--so there!  Who's getting dinner?" he added as he saw
Grandmother working away at her jam.

"Mary Jane is," answered Grandmother "and I expected to be through by
now to broil the steak--she's everything else ready.  But," she added
worriedly, "I simply can't stop for ten minutes and I know her potatoes
are about done!"

"Is there another handkerchief around here somewhere?" asked
Grandfather suddenly.

"In your drawer there's lots," said Mary Jane, but for the life of her
she couldn't see what Grandfather meant.

"You get it," he said, and she dashed upstairs on the errand.

"There now," said Grandfather after she handed it to him, "how's that?"
Mary Jane laughed and laughed at the funny sight.  He had twisted the
handkerchief around his head dusting cap style and was bowing to her in
a grand fashion.  "I guess I can cook too!" he declared, "bring on the
steak!"

Mary Jane got the steak out of the ice box and helped him salt and
pepper it; then, while he broiled it--yes, he did know how, Mary Jane
had thought he was only fooling--she took up the potatoes and apples
and got the pitcher of water.

"I tell you what," said Grandfather proudly as they sat down to dinner
a minute later, "it's all very well to be a circus lady but personally,
I prefer a good cook, Mary Jane, and if you keep on as you've begun,
you'll be a good one!"

"I'm going to keep on," said Mary Jane, proudly, "'cause it's more fun
than playing."

"Good for you," said Grandfather, "and by the way, Mother, have you
told her where she's going to-night?"

"Not a word," said Grandmother, smiling.

"Goody!" cried Mary Jane, clapping her hands happily, "it's a surprise."

"Yes, it is," laughed Grandmother, "you never did it before that's
certain.  But you have to finish your dinner and then take a good
nap--a really for sure enough nap, before you know a single thing about
it so it's no use to ask questions.  I'll tell you this much though,"
she added as she saw Mary Jane look a bit disappointed, "you'll wear
your best dress and your biggest hair ribbon."

Now what in the world was coming?  Mary Jane couldn't think and she
went to her nap wondering and wondering and wondering.



THE STRAWBERRY SOCIABLE

It's awfully hard to go to sleep when you're wondering all the time
what you're going to do when you wake up.  But Mary Jane finally did
drop off to sleep--perhaps the fact that Grandmother pulled down the
shades helped.  However it was, Mary Jane slept soundly and had to be
called twice when it was time to get up.  She blinked open her eyes and
was just trying to guess if Grandfather had gone down to his breakfast
when Grandmother called, "do you wear a sash with your best dress,
dear?"

That waked her in a jiffy and immediately she remembered about the
surprise that was to come and that she was to wear her best dress and
biggest ribbon.

"Yes, Grandmother, my pink sash," she answered, and she tossed off the
light quilt Grandmother had spread over her and ran into the next room.
Grandmother was laying out her own best dress and shoes on her bed.  It
was the first time Mary Jane had known of her wearing them and she
guessed right away that something pretty important must be going on.

"What's the surprise, Grandmother?" she asked eagerly, "can you tell me
now?"

"Surely dear," replied Grandmother kindly, "I'd have told you before
only I was afraid you'd stay awake and ask questions.  To-night is the
annual strawberry sociable of the village church and I thought maybe
you'd like to go.  Your grandfather and I always attend and I think
you're old enough to go--especially now, as you've had such a good
sleep."

Mary Jane stared at her grandmother as though she didn't understand a
word she had said.

"What is it--a strawberry sociable?" she asked.

Grandmother bent down and kissed her.  "I forget my little city girl
don't know all our ways," she said, smilingly.  "A strawberry sociable
is our big time of the year.  We haven't taken you to our church yet,
dear, because your grandfather and I don't go as regularly in the
summer as we do in the winter, but maybe you've noticed it as we've
driven through the village.  The little white church with the steeple
and the green blinds?"

"Yes," said Mary Jane, nodding eagerly, "I've seen it.  The one with
the big yard."

"That's the one," said Grandmother, "and it's that yard we're going to
this evening.  All our people have fine gardens and a good many of us
have berry patches.  We save our finest berries and take them to the
church to-night for the sociable.  The folks who have no berries take
cake and in that way every one helps and we raise money.  We're trying
to get enough for an organ now."

"But how do you get the money?" asked Mary Jane, to whom this was all
new.

"We sell the strawberries and cake--ten cents for a dish of fruit with
a piece of cake," explained Grandmother.  "I expect you never heard of
the like before, but I think you'll have a good time all the same.
There'll be other little girls there, Frances Westland and Helen Loiter
and maybe others; you'll have a beautiful time.  Now let's get out your
things."

If there was one thing above another that Mary Jane loved to do, it was
to dress up in her best clothes.  She loved the feel of the soft, fine
materials and she liked the crisp hair ribbons and dainty shoes.  She
was so glad that her mother had let her bring her brand new dress that
she had worn to her birthday party and the wide pink hair ribbon and
sash that went with it.  Grandmother said they would dress before
supper as she wanted to be ready to go early for she knew that Mary
Jane should not stay late.

It took some time for those two busy ladies to dress.  Grandmother
wasn't used to hair bows and sashes of course and they went pretty
slow.  Then likely as not there was a good deal of visiting went along
with the dressing for Grandmother and Mary Jane were good company.  So
it's not much wonder that by the time each had inspected the other and
had decided that everything was exactly as it should be.  Grandfather
called to say that supper time had come.  Grandmother and Mary Jane
went grandly down the stairs in answer to his call and he stood at the
bottom and admired and complimented till Mary Jane had to drop her
grand air and giggle, he was so funny.

Grandmother laughed, too, and then bustled out to the kitchen, put on a
great big all-over apron and prepared the supper.

"We'll not have a thing but eggs and bread and jam and milk," she
announced, "because with all the cake and strawberries you're going to
have that's all you should eat--just very plain food.  Mary Jane, you
slip on this apron and help Grandfather feed the chickens and by that
time I'll have supper ready to eat."

When they drove up to the village church an hour later Mary Jane looked
upon a yard of hurry and fun such as she had never before seen.  Men
were fixing lanterns on wires, others were carrying chairs and
arranging them around tables underneath the lanterns.  Women were
fixing great bowls of crimson berries (and oh, how good they did look,
Mary Jane thought!) on a long table that stretched across the back of
the yard.  Other women were unpacking baskets of tempting looking cakes
and cutting them up into pieces ready for serving.

Grandmother took one basket of berries out of the back of the car and
Grandfather took the other and they walked over to the table, Mary Jane
following meekly behind.

"This is my little great granddaughter, Mary Jane Merrill," said
Grandmother to the lady in charge, "and as she's never been to a
strawberry sociable before, I'm going to look after her till she gets
used to things--you've plenty of help here anyway."

"Glad to meet you, Mary Jane," answered the lady and Mary Jane made her
prettiest courtesy, "you'll like the sociable better when the lanterns
are lighted and the other little girls come.  Don't you want to come
and eat some cake crumbs now?"

Much as Mary Jane liked cake crumbs, she didn't fancy staying with the
strange people when she might be with her grandmother, so she hung back
shyly and Grandmother declined the offer for her.

"I think we'll walk around first, thank you, Miss Oliver," said she,
"and get our little girl to feeling more at home."

Mary Jane liked the walking around and watching the busy folks at their
curious work.  And, before she hardly realized it, twilight had set in,
men had lighted the gay Japanese lanterns and the yard had become full
of jolly people--the strawberry sociable had begun.

Grandfather hunted up Helen Loiter, a pretty little black haired girl
and Frances Westland to whom Mary Jane took a fancy at once.  She wore
a plain little white dress and a big blue hair ribbon and seemed so
kind and pleasant to the little stranger.  Helen, on the other hand,
was dressed in a much trimmed and be-ruffled frock and seemed to feel
far too dressed up to be natural.

"I'm going to get you girls your berries," said Grandfather, as he
settled them at a table over to one side where they could sit as long
as they liked and eat and visit, "and if you want more cake, just let
me know."

"Let's hurry and eat this up so he'll get us some more," said Helen.
"I've got a dime of my own and if he gets us another dish, that'll make
three times!"

"Oh, let's eat slow and talk," said Frances, "no use hurrying, maybe we
won't want three dishes.  Is your mother here, too, Mary Jane?"

"No," answered Mary Jane, "but my sister's coming next week and my
mother's coming before very long after that."

"Why didn't you bring your best dress so you could wear it to-night?"
demanded Helen as she took a big bite of berries.  "I should think
you'd like a pretty dress for tonight!"

"This is my best dress," said Mary Jane in amazement, "it's my very
best dress and my best hair ribbon and everything!"

"Well, I don't think it looks like it," said Helen, scornfully, "it
hasn't a single ruffle and not one bit of lace!  I guess your father
must be pretty poor!"

Mary Jane looked at Helen's be-ruffled frock that was trimmed and
trimmed with yards of cheap lace and then she looked at her own dress,
so plain and neat with only a bit of hand embroidery for its ornament.
Then she looked at Frances' dress that was more like her own.  And a
queer feeling of lonesomeness--a lonesomeness that she hadn't felt
since the rainy day so long ago, began to come over her.

But before she had time to think of an answer, Frances spoke up.
"Aren't you ashamed of yourself, Helen Loiter!  Talking that way to
Mrs. Hodges's little girl!  I guess folks can dress as they please
without asking you!  My dress isn't fancy either and my father's got as
much money as yours has, so there!"

Mary Jane looked at Frances admiringly and felt much better.

"How old are you?" continued Frances, turning her attention pointedly
to Mary Jane.

"I'm five," replied Mary Jane, "how old are you?"

"I'm seven, only I'm not very big for seven so you wouldn't guess it,"
said Frances, "do you go to school?"

"No, not yet," answer Mary Jane, "but I'm going to some day."

"Of course you are, stupid!" said Helen, "everybody does!  Well, I'm
bigger'n you are.  I'm eight and I'm in second grade!  So there!"  And
she polished out the bottom of her dish with her spoon.  "I guess your
grandfather's forgotten all about getting us some more cake--I'm going
to get some for myself.  You two slow pokes can sit around and wait if
you want to.  I'll not!"  And she flounced herself out of her chair and
ran over to the cake table.

Left by themselves Frances and Mary Jane compared notes as little girls
will.  Mary Jane told her about her own home; about her friend Doris
and her sister Alice and the birthday party and everything she could
think of.  And Frances told about her school and her garden--yes, she
had one about as big as Mary Jane's--and about her pet calf.

"Father gave it to me when it was only a day old," she said, "and when
it's big enough, I'm going to sell it and get money to take music
lessons.  Won't that be fun?"

Mary Jane thought it would; she looked admiringly at Frances and
thought she was quite the most wonderful little girl she had ever met.

When Grandfather came up to them a few minutes later, he had to speak
twice so busy were they with their talk.  He got them each another dish
of berries and then, when they were through eating that, he took them
walking around the yard so they could see the lanterns and so that Mary
Jane would see and be seen by all his friends.  Frances seemed to know
every one and that was a great help to Mary Jane who wasn't used to
meeting so many people.

All too soon Grandmother announced that it was time to go home.  The
candles in the lanterns flickered out one by one; the housewives busied
themselves with clearing up the remnants of cake and berries; the
fathers (and grandfathers) carried baskets back to the cars, lit lights
and made ready for the homeward journey.

Frances and Mary Jane told each other good night and Frances promised
to come over and see Mary Jane very soon.

"Well, what did you think of the sociable?" asked Grandmother as they
spun along home.  "I saw you talking with Frances and Helen; did you
like your new friends, dear?"

"I liked Frances so much," said Mary Jane, "and she's coming to see me."

Grandmother, who knew Helen much better than Grandfather did,
understood in a minute.  She slipped her arm around her little
granddaughter and pulled her close.  "So my little girl learned
something as well as had a good time to-night, did she?" she whispered;
"she learned how to pick out a friend.  I'm glad Frances is coming to
see you, dear!"



BURR HOUSES

The week after the strawberry sociable was the busiest one of Mary
Jane's visit thus far.  Frances came to see her twice and they became
better friends each time.  The Westlands lived two miles farther from
the village than the Hodges did and Frances's father could easily leave
her at the Hodges's home when he went into the village and get her
again on his return trip.  Mary Jane showed her all the interesting
things she had found--the pet mice, who were getting tamer and tamer
all the time; the ducks, which were losing their pretty babyness by now
and were getting almost big enough to look after themselves; the lamb
and the pigs and Brindle Bess.

Of course Frances was used to country sights, so she wasn't as much
surprised at what she saw as Mary Jane had been when she came from the
city.  But she was interested and she told Mary Jane many things about
the farm creatures and the fun she had had with her own pets.

Then one day Grandfather took Mary Jane to see Frances and Mary Jane
had fun every minute of the two hours she was there.  The Westlands
kept many cows and Mary Jane saw twenty little calves--such gentle,
soft-eyed little creatures that were so tame the girls could pet them
and feed them all they wanted to.  And chickens!  Mary Jane had thought
her grandmother had a good many but the Westlands had more!

"May we feed them all?" asked Mary Jane eagerly as she saw them.

"I guess Frances would be glad to have you," laughed Mrs. Westland
kindly; "she has to do it so much that I'm sure she'll be glad for help
at the job."

So the girls went to the bins and gathered great handfuls of corn and
oats for the feast.  Frances gave a peculiar call which the chickens
seemed to know and immediately they came a-running, hundreds of them,
so fast that Mary Jane dropped the corn she held and tried to run away.

"They won't hurt you," laughed Frances, "see?  I can let them eat right
out of my hand!"

Mary Jane looked and thought that if Frances was safe she would be too.
So she took some of the grain Frances handed over to her and bent down
for them to eat out of her hand too.  It wasn't more than a minute
before she had lost every trace of fear and could let the biggest
rooster gobble up his grain right out of her hand.  The girls tried
dropping kernels of corn on their shoes and then holding up one foot
for the chickens to reach for the grain.  And they tossed occasional
kernels way to the outside of the feeding group and then giggled to see
how quickly the greedy ones whirled around to get all they could.

Then, before it was time to go, Mrs. Westland called them in and gave
them each a big glass of rich milk and a plate of fat sugar cookies to
eat on the porch.  Altogether Mary Jane thought she had the most fun
during that visit of any visit she had ever made!  And before the
little girls separated, Frances had promised to come over to Mary
Jane's house very soon.

The day after the call at the Westlands the postman brought a letter
from Mrs. Merrill which said that Alice could come to her grandfather's
in two days if that would be convenient.  Grandfather was very fond of
Alice; she had visited there before and he was hoping she would have a
nice long stay there this summer.  So, as soon as he read the letter he
got out his car, took Mary Jane with him and went into the village to
telegraph that Alice should come at once.

The next morning Mary Jane helped her grandmother clean the room that
Alice was to have--it was just across the hall from Mary Jane's and was
so quaint and cozy with its old-fashioned furniture and ruffled white
curtains.  Then the next day Grandmother made a great jar full of
cookies; Mary Jane loved that because Grandmother let her cut out some.
They made stars and crescents and squares and some just plain round
ones; and Mary Jane put the sugar and nuts over the top, too.  Then
they made apple pies and berry pies and a tart of each kind for Mary
Jane's dinner and supper that day.  Mary Jane decided then and there
that she was going to be a good cook when she grew up because cooking
was about the most fun of anything she had ever tried.

On the morning Alice was to come, Mary Jane got up early; dressed
herself as quickly as possible and ran down the stairs.  Just in the
nick of time she was too, for Grandfather was ready to start to the
station.

"Take me, please take me along!" she called as she heard him crank up
his car.

"Hello, Pussy; you up?" he answered; "to be sure you may go along.  Get
your grandmother to give you a big piece of coffee cake to eat on the
way and we'll be off."

Grandmother heard what he said and had the coffee cake ready as Mary
Jane ran into the kitchen.  A wonderful big piece, she cut, all full of
sugary, buttery "wells" that Mary Jane liked so much.  She wrapped it
in a napkin so it wouldn't get Mary Jane's dress sticky with its
sweetness, threw a woolen scarf around the little girl's shoulders for
the early morning air was cool and waved a good-by as they rode out of
the yard.

They reached the station just as the great train pulled in and saw the
conductor and porter help Alice down the steps of the car.  Mary Jane
thought she had never seen any one look so nice in all her life!
Grandfather set her out of the auto and she ran as fast as ever she
could and threw her arms around her sister.  Alice held her tight a
minute and then turned to kiss her grandfather.

"So you're here all right, Blunderbuss," said Grandfather heartily,
using the nickname he had given her long ago, "and you haven't lost a
bit of your hair!"  Alice laughed as he looked admiringly at her long
golden braids.

"I haven't," she replied teasingly, "but I can't say as much for you!"
And she laughed at her grandfather's bald head.

"Such a girl!  Such a girl!" exclaimed Grandfather proudly; "now I
suppose I'll have to get your trunk and take you home and stand your
teasing the rest of the summer!"  And in mock dismay he went for the
trunk the baggage man had tossed off the train.

That was the beginning of more fun for Mary Jane.  First there was the
house and farm which must be shown to Alice just as carefully as though
she had never seen it before.  Then there were all the jolly things
that Alice thought of to do--Alice was always thinking up something to
do, it seemed.  She fixed up a saddle for the lamb and taught Mary Jane
to ride.  She tied tiny bells on the rabbits so they could be more
easily found.  She helped Mary Jane take the ducks down to the creek at
the end of the pasture and turn them into the water.  Mary Jane thought
it perfectly wonderful that they should know how to swim--"just as
though they had taken regular lessons, Grandfather," she said as she
told him about it afterwards.  And Alice learned how to make
bread--with Mary Jane helping to turn the crank of the bread mixer so
she wouldn't feel left out.

On the third day of Alice's visit Frances Westland came over to play
and the three little girls went out into the front yard and wondered
what they would do.

"I wish we had doll houses here like we have at home," said Mary Jane.
"I know Frances would like to play with doll houses."

"But you haven't any here," said Frances practically.

"Maybe we can get some," said Alice thoughtfully; "we ought to be able
to find something to make a doll house out of.  Let's hunt."

"Where'll we hunt?" asked Mary Jane.

"Let me see," said Alice.  She looked around the yard but saw nothing
that interested her.  She looked across the road to Grandmother's lot
and saw all the grasses and brush that flourished there.

"We ought to be able to find something over there," she said; "let's
hunt."

So the three little girls scrambled over the fence and roamed through
the lot.  The lamb was used to a good deal of petting and he supposed,
of course, that was what they had come for.  So he poked himself into
their way at every step.

"No, sir," said Alice, laughing; "we didn't come to play with you
to-day!  You run along, sir!"  She rubbed her hand over his back to
push him away and something rough and pricky scratched her.  She pulled
at his wool and a small brown burr came off in her hand.

"Look!  Girls!" she cried suddenly.  "If he got this, there must be
more in the lot!"

"Of course!" said Frances, looking scornfully at the burr Alice held up
for her to see; "there's a million over there--see?  They're an awful
nuisance, burrs are, even this early in the season."

"They may be a nuisance," laughed Alice, "but I'll venture to say
they'll make good doll houses for all that.  Here!  I'll show you what
I think we can do."  She ran over to where Frances had pointed out a
lot of burrs, pulled off a handful and began sticking them together.
"Yes, it works," she said in a satisfied tone, "but let's not stop to
make the houses here.  Let's gather a lot of burrs and take them over
to Grandmother's front yard.  Then we can make a whole village!"

Frances and Mary Jane didn't quite see how a village was to come out of
a lot of burrs, but Alice was so sure of what she was going to do that
they thought she must be right.  So they gathered up their skirts and
filled them with burrs and then helped each other back over the fence.

Under the big pine tree, where the ground was the levelest of any place
in the yard, Alice had them spread out all their burrs.

"Now," she said when the burrs were ready, "you make them stick
together--so.  Make eight rows of six burrs each.  That will be the
floor of the house.  Then start up the sides for walls."

Frances and Mary Jane got the idea in a minute and they set to work in
a jiffy.  Such fun as it was!  The houses and barns and churches grew
so rapidly that none of the girls gave a minute's thought to pricked
fingers--there wasn't time!  When the stock of burrs was entirely used
up, Alice set the houses along in a straight line as though they were
on a street.  Frances put the barns back of the houses where they
belonged and Mary Jane ran to her garden for nasturtiums to lay by the
houses for gardens.

"But we haven't any dolls to live in the houses!" exclaimed Frances
suddenly.

"That's easy," said Alice; "I've made dolls before.  Grandmother showed
me how years ago.  Come on and we'll get some."

She led the girls back to the orchard, where by now tiny green apples
were lying on the ground, scattered there by the summer winds.

"You girls get all the apples you can while I get the toothpicks."  And
she ran to the house.

"What does she mean?" asked Frances, who wasn't used to this sort of
play.

"I don't know, but let's do what she says and then we'll find out,"
answered Mary Jane, who had great confidence in this big sister of
hers.  They filled their skirts with apples of all sizes and hurried
back to the front yard where Alice, carrying a box of toothpicks, met
them.

"Now we'll all make dolls," said Alice as she spread out the picks.
"Use the biggest apples for the body; stick in two toothpicks for arms
and two for legs.  And a middle-sized apple makes the head.  Then take
another toothpick and mark out eyes and nose and mouth--so!"  And she
set up the finished doll for the girls to see.

Frances and Mary Jane picked up apples and went to work too, and first
thing they knew there was a doll standing in front of each house.  They
were just starting on animals, pigs and horses and cows which Alice
showed them how to make, when Grandmother came out with a pitcher of
lemonade and a basket of cookies.  So the burr making turned into a
party which lasted till Mr. Westland came tooting along the road and
Frances had to go home.



EARNING MONEY

"Now if I only had a camera," said Alice as she and Mary Jane and her
grandmother were sitting out on the back porch one morning, shelling
peas for dinner, "I'd take a picture of you both.  Wouldn't it make a
good one?"

Grandmother looked at Mary Jane.  The sunshine splattered through the
cracks between the vine-covered lattice and shone on her bobbed brown
hair, on her pink play dress and on the bright green pea pods in her
lap.  Mary Jane looked at her grandmother and saw the snow white hair,
the kindly face that smiled above the big work apron and the busy hands.

"Wouldn't it, though!" they both exclaimed at exactly the same minute.
And then they all three had a good laugh.

"All the same I wish I had a camera," insisted Alice.

"Does your mother think you're old enough to know how to use one?"
asked Grandmother.

"Old enough, Grandmother!" exclaimed Mary Jane.  "Alice's twelve!"  And
the way she said twelve showed that she thought twelve was very, very
old indeed.

Grandmother smiled and Alice added, "She's willing I should have one,
Grandmother, only I must buy it myself.  And saving money out of my
allowance is slow work.  I've a dollar now but I need seventy-five
cents more."

"Seems to me you should be able to earn that much," said Grandmother.

"Earn it?" asked Alice.  "How?"

"Oh, by some sort of work," answered Grandmother.

"Oh, could I really?" exclaimed Alice delightedly.  "What could I do?"

"Could I earn some too?" asked Mary Jane eagerly.

"What do you want money for?" laughed Alice, as though a little girl
wouldn't have use for such a thing as money!  "You always want to do
everything, Mary Jane!"

"Of course she does," said Grandmother comfortably, "and you do too.
The thing I'm thinking about is more fun if done by two anyway.  But
what do you want your money for, dear?" she asked the little girl.

"I want it to get a present for my dear mother," said Mary Jane, "a
present that she don't know anything about and that Daddah don't know
anything about and that nobody gives me the money for.  Can I really
truly earn some money?"

"Surely," replied Grandmother.  "See those woods, girls?"  She pointed
across the garden and across the cornfield to the woods about a quarter
of a mile away.  "In those woods are blackberry bushes, lots of them.
And this is about the beginning of the blackberry season.  Now if you
girls really want to earn some money you may take your little baskets
and go berrying.  I'll buy all you can pick at ten cents a quart.  You
ought to easily get your seventy-five cents that way, Alice, for the
bushes ate usually loaded with berries."

"But the berries are yours to begin with," objected Alice, who liked to
be fair; "we can't sell you something that already belongs to you."

"Of course you can't," replied Grandmother, much pleased with Alice's
honesty.  "I shouldn't have said 'buy the berries'; I should have said
'pay you for the picking' at ten cents a quart.  If I 'bought' the
berries of any one I would have to pay fifteen or twenty cents a quart.
And if I hired some one to pick them for me as I have some years, I
would have to pay ten cents a quart, just as I offered you.  So, you
see, I promised you no more than you will fairly earn."

"How do you pick berries?" asked Alice.

"There's only one way," laughed Grandmother, much amused at the
question.  "You touch them and off they come!  Just pick them off the
bushes and drop them in your basket and the thing is done."

"Let's go now," said Mary Jane eagerly.

"Not now," answered Grandmother, "because it's too near dinner time.
Wait till you have your dinner and a little rest of half an hour.  Then
you can start and pick all afternoon."

By two o'clock the girls had hunted up the berry baskets Grandmother
told them to find in the attic (cunning little baskets with long,
curving handles they were, too) and, tying on their biggest sun hats,
they started out through the garden path.

They crossed the field, climbed the fence into the woods and turned
down the wagon road as Grandmother had directed them.  And sure enough,
there were the berry bushes just as she had said.  Bushes that were
fairly loaded with shining blackberries that glistened in the afternoon
sunshine.

[Illustration: "There were the berry bushes--fairly loaded with shining
blackberries."]

The girls set to work most enthusiastically and by the time Grandfather
came to see how they liked their job (for, of course, he had heard all
about it at dinner time) they had their baskets nearly full.  He walked
home with them and helped them measure out their berries with
Grandmother's quart measure.  Alice had a quart and a half and Mary
Jane a full, even quart and Grandmother paid immediately--fifteen cents
for Alice and ten cents, a bright new dime, for Mary Jane.

"My, but I do be rich!" exclaimed Mary Jane delightedly.  "I can get my
dear mother the nicest thing!"

"Of course you can, Pussy," said Grandfather, "and Alice will have her
camera in no time.  I get the best of all, though," he added with a
mysterious nod of his head.

"How do you?" asked both girls at once.

"I get to eat the jam!" replied Grandfather in a comical attempt at a
whisper.

"They do too, bless their hearts!" exclaimed Grandmother.  They shall
eat all they want.  I'll make it first thing in the morning."

"And first thing in the morning I mean to get more berries," said
Alice.  "Let me see--fifteen into seventy-five:--in four more days I'll
have enough money to get my camera!"  And she danced around gayly, she
was so delighted.

"Not quite," laughed Grandfather; "don't be in too big a hurry,
Blunderbuss; you have to give the berries a chance to ripen.  Better
plan to go every other day.  You'll get more at a time that way."

"And I'm going, too," put in Mary Jane, "so I can get more money for
Mother's present."

"I was thinking about that present while you girls were gone," said
Grandmother.  "You'd better get that present in the city where the
stores are good.  Why don't you save it for her Christmas gift?  That
would be nice."

"But I wanted to give her something when she comes to take me home!"
objected Mary Jane, who had set her heart on making her mother a gift,
"something that I did."

"That's all right," Grandmother assured her; "give her something then,
too.  Something you made yourself and save the money you earn till
Christmas.  How would you like to make her some blackberry jam?  She
likes blackberry jam and you could make that."

"Could I really?" exclaimed Mary Jane, and she sidled over to where her
grandmother was standing.

"How silly!" cried Alice.  "You know she can't make jam, Grandmother;
she's only five years old.  Why, even I don't know how to make jam and
I'm twelve!"

"Is that so?" laughed Grandmother, and she slipped her arm around Mary
Jane.  "Well, what you can do and what Mary Jane can do has no
connection.  You don't know what she can do.  She's going to be a good
cook; she's begun already.  And if she wants to make a glass of jam for
her mother, all by herself, she shall do it, so there!  And you can
make some, too, if you want to, dear," she added kindly to Alice.

"Thank you, Grandmother," said Alice, "and I'm sorry I spoke so about
you, dear," she added to Mary Jane; "go ahead and make your jam, pet,
and I'll make Mother something else.  I know it would be more fun for
you to make it without me.  May I make her a cake, Grandmother?  Make
it the day before she comes?"

Grandmother assured her that she could and they all went in to get
supper.

The next morning Mary Jane put on her cooking cap and apron and she and
Grandmother went at the jam while Alice and Grandfather rode to the
village on an errand.

"Measure out a good big cup full of berries," said Grandmother; "pile
it full as it will hold and wash them and put them in this pan."

Mary Jane picked out nice big, juicy berries; that wasn't hard to do
because most of the berries were very fine; the girls hadn't picked any
other kind.  Then she washed them carefully and put them in the pan
Grandmother had given her.

"Now measure an even cupful of sugar," said Grandmother, "and pour it
over your berries."  And Mary Jane went to the sugar bin and did as she
was told.

"Now," continued Grandmother, "shake the berries till the sugar's well
mixed in and then set the pan on the stove."

While the berries were cooking Grandmother had her hunt out a nice
jelly glass, one that the top fitted on firmly; wash and dry it ready
for the jelly.  Then Mary Jane took a big spoon and Grandmother took a
big spoon and they stood by the stove and watched the jam boil.  When
the bubbles got big, oh, very big, and looked as shining as big glass
beads, Grandmother said it was about done and must be tested.  She put
her spoon in and then, holding it over the pan of jam, let the hot jam
drop off.

"Almost done," said Grandmother, with a satisfied nod; "now you try it,
Mary Jane."

So Mary Jane dipped her spoon in just as her grandmother had done and
again the jam dropped off, this time a little slower and with longer
drops.  Grandmother told her to put the glass on a chair, on a paper,
and by the time she had done that the jam was ready to pour into the
glass.

When Alice and Grandfather came home from their errand the glass of jam
was all done and was on the table near the window, covered neatly with
its tin cover ready to give to Mrs. Merrill when she should come.

"And that won't be so many days now either," said Grandmother.  "I
declare, how this summer has gone!"



THE PICNIC AT FLATROCK

On the very day that Alice counted out her money and found she had the
seventy-five cents she needed for her much wanted camera and that Mary
Jane had fifty cents, there came a telegram from Mrs. Merrill saying
that she and Mr. Merrill would arrive the next morning for a stay of
ten days.

"Now this is something like old times," said Grandmother happily as she
and the two girls bustled around making ready for the guests.  "Lots of
cooking to do and two nice girls to help me do it.  Seems like the days
when our own girls were here!  Mary Jane, you've done plenty of dusting
for today; you go and get your grandfather to pick out two nice fat
chickens for frys while I teach Alice about making her cake.  She's
going to have a beauty to show her mother, that's what she is!"

Mary Jane liked doing things with her jolly grandfather, so she skipped
out happily and found him in the barn.

"Pick out some frys, should we?" he said.  "All right, that suits me,
only we'll fool her, Mary Jane; we'll get _three_!  I believe in having
enough, I do."

"What we going to do to-morrow, Pussy?" he asked when that job was done.

"Why, we're going to get Mother and Father at the train and then we're
coming home."

"Oh, yes, I know that," said Grandfather, "but let's do more than that.
Let's have a picnic to celebrate their coming."

"Oh, Grandfather!" exclaimed Mary Jane, "could we?"

"We certainly could," said Grandfather, "and I think it would be a fine
thing to do.  There's a full moon and we could go about four and come
home by moonlight.  Let's see what your grandmother and Alice think
about it."

Grandmother and Alice were enthusiastic.  "I can take my cake!"
exclaimed Alice eagerly.  "It's a beautiful cake, Grandfather, see?"
she said proudly.  "It's all done but the frosting and I'm going to put
that on as soon as it's cool enough."

"Looks good enough to eat," said Grandfather admiringly, "and I'm sure
it will be fine to-morrow."

"And I can take my frys," said Grandmother, planning; "your father
loves cold fried chicken, girls," she added, "and maybe your mother
will make a bowl of her fine salad to-morrow while I make a
custard--yes, Father, that's just what we'll do.  We'll have a picnic.
Where'll we go?"

"To Flatrock," replied Grandfather, who had decided that point long
ago, "and you needn't plan too much fixyness because Mary Jane and I
have a surprise."

"Oh, goody!" cried Mary Jane.  "What is it?"  Everybody laughed at that
and Grandfather took the little girl out to the garden to show her what
the secret was.  But they didn't tell anybody else what it was--I
should say not!

It was lucky there was plenty to do that day, and many interesting
things to plan for the picnic; for, even so, Mary Jane thought the day
would never end--never.  She hadn't realized she was so anxious to see
her mother till she knew the long separation was so nearly over.

"To-morrow I'll see my mother!  To-morrow I'll see my mother!
To-morrow I'll see my mother!" she whispered over and over to herself
as she went to sleep, and she thought it was the best news she ever
told herself.

She was awake and up the first of any one in the house the next
morning, and long before Grandfather was ready to start she was out
sitting in the automobile.

"Look who thinks she's going to the station!" exclaimed Grandfather.
"'Fraid you can't go this time, Pussy; there won't be room."

"Oh, _Grandfather_!" exclaimed Mary Jane over the big lump that
suddenly came into her throat, "I _must_ go to see my _mother_!" And
then she looked at her grandfather and saw the twinkle in his eye.
"You're just teasing, aren't you, Grandfather?" she added anxiously.

"Yes, I am, and I ought to be shot for it, so there!" said Grandfather,
who, when he saw how eager she was, regretted his hasty teasing.
"Surely you can go--we'll start in two minutes."

It wasn't more than a second after her father and mother got off the
great train before Mary Jane was held tight in her mother's arms and
oh, how good it did feel to be there!  "I didn't know how much I did
want you," cried Mary Jane, "till you're here!"

Mother replied with a satisfying whisper and another pair of kisses,
one on each rosy cheek, and then Father had to have his hug and they
started gayly home.

After breakfast Mary Jane showed them all the creatures she had learned
to love--from the lamb in the pasture lot to the ducks that now lived
down by the creek.  Then they went back into the house and Mary Jane
gave her mother the glass of jam made all by herself (and you can just
guess how proud and happy Mrs. Merrill was over _such_ a gift!) and
Alice showed her cake.

"Look's good enough to eat right now," said Mr. Merrill, smacking his
lips; "let's have a piece."

"I should say not!" exclaimed Alice; "that's to take to the picnic!"

So then they told all about the plan for the picnic, and Father and
Mother were pleased just as everybody had known they would be.  And
every one set to work at the pleasant preparations.

Mrs. Merrill, Grandmother and Alice stayed in the kitchen, while Mr.
Merrill joined Mary Jane and Grandfather in making preparations for the
secret.  They didn't let any one see a thing of what they were doing
and they carefully covered up the big basket that they stowed away in
the back of the car.

At three o'clock they were off and with such good company and over fine
roads the twenty-five mile ride to Flatrock seemed all too short.

"Now you folks who think you have the eats," said Grandfather as they
all got out of the car, "can just fool around any way you like.  Mary
Jane and I are going to build a fire for the coffee her father and I
will be sure to want."

"That's no surprise," laughed Alice; "Grandmother has the coffee in her
basket and she told me I could help you make the fire!"

"Isn't that amazing!" teased Grandfather, and Alice knew from the way
he talked that she hadn't guessed the secret after all.

Flatrock was a rough, wooded spot, most unusual for that region; and
right through the middle of the woods a pretty little creek ran
tumbling over some broad, flat rocks.  It was by the side of one of
these rocks, close by the little stream, that Grandfather started his
fire.  He pulled two logs together till they formed a big V; then he
and Mr. Merrill and the girls gathered wood, twigs and branches and
leaves, till they had a big pile between the logs.  They set fire to
these and soon they had a heap of glowing coals.

"Now," said Grandfather, "I think it's about time for our surprise.
Shall we get it, Mary Jane?"

She nodded "yes" and he went to the car, bringing back with him the
mysteriously covered basket.  "You shall take the cover off, Pussy," he
said.

Mary Jane pulled back the cover cloth and there, inside, was a basket
full to the brim of--yes, it was--roasting ears!  The very first of the
season!

"We keep watch of our corn patch, we do," said Grandfather, and he
nodded solemnly at Mary Jane, "and now we're going to have something
good."

They piled the roasting ears in on the hot coals, then they built
another fire over the top of them, and by the time that had burned down
the corn was ready to eat.

Grandmother and Mother and Alice unpacked the baskets and they all sat
around and enjoyed the feast.  Grandmother's fried chicken and crullers
and rolls and Alice's fine cake, which was given the place of honor on
a rock by itself where it could be seen all the time till they were
ready to eat it, were pronounced the best ever.

The moon rose so clear and big and beautiful that it was hard to tell
just when day ended and night began.  So it was a surprise when
Grandfather announced that it was eight o'clock and high time they were
starting home.  The few scraps, and there weren't very many, were
packed neatly into one basket and the party regretfully left the rocks
and started for the car.

"Nobody ever comes along this road at this time of night," said
Grandfather.  "I'll just get the car out into the middle of the road
where you can get in easier."  So he pulled it away from the fence
where he had left it, and ran it out into the middle of the road.
"Here, Pussy," he added, "run around on the other side of the car and
hand me that basket."

Mary Jane did as she was told and after he had taken the basket from
her she waited in the middle of the road, by the car, till he should be
ready to help her in.

No one ever knew quite how it happened--it was all so sudden.  Perhaps
the other driver, too, thought that no one was ever on that road at
that time of the evening.  Out of the shadows and the moonshine, around
the curve of the road, came a roadster moving so fast that before its
driver could realize that some one stood in the center of the road, he
had hit Mary Jane squarely and had tossed her over the fence on the
opposite side of the road.

Grandfather jumped over the fence after her as quickly as he could out
of the car, but, quick as he was, Mary Jane's father was quicker.  He
picked up the little girl, carried her back to her mother and together
they ran their hands over her--no bones seemed to be broken; her heart
was beating and she was breathing.  But _just_ breathing, that was all.
She lay in her mother's arms as still and quiet--so still and so quiet
that she didn't seem like Mary Jane--the Mary Jane who was always
running and talking and lively.

Without more than a half-dozen necessary words Grandfather and
Grandmother, Father, Mother and Alice got into the car and Grandfather
put on all speed.  The one thought in every one's mind was to get to
Dr. Smith as quickly as ever they could.  Grandfather was thankful for
the moonlight that made the way so plain and he drove home the fastest
he had ever driven.

And so they came back from the picnic at Flatrock.



HOME AGAIN

"Would you speak to her, doctor?" asked Mrs. Merrill anxiously.

It was eight o'clock the next morning.  They had reached home about an
hour after they left Flatrock and fortunately had found Dr. Smith at
home.  He came at once in answer to their telephone call and was there
even before they had Mary Jane undressed and put to bed.  He examined
her carefully and could find no broken bones and no injury, but still
Mary Jane slept on, breathing, but so quietly and unnaturally that she
didn't seem like herself.  Her mother and father had stayed by her all
the night long; Grandmother, Grandfather and Alice had with difficulty
been sent to bed after midnight and Dr. Smith had stayed most of the
time.

But when she still didn't stir the next morning Mrs. Merrill grew more
and more anxious.

"I don't know," said the doctor doubtfully; "we might try.  You speak
to her; your voice would be the best."

Mrs. Merrill bent low over her little girl and whispered, "Mary Jane!
Mary Jane!  Mother's here!"

No answer, but Mrs. Merrill thought she saw a quiver on the little
girl's face, so she tried again.

"Mary Jane!  Mary Jane!  Mother's here!" she repeated.

"I know," whispered the little girl; "you com'd to-day," and she opened
her big blue eyes and looked at her mother.

Mrs. Merrill kissed her rapturously and held her close, and Mary Jane
raised her arm enough to pat her mother's shoulder.  Then she looked
around the room in surprise.  "Where's the moon?" she asked.

"The moon?" said Mrs. Merrill, and the laugh she tried to give with her
answer sounded very near tears.  "The moon went to sleep a long time
ago."

"And where's the picnic?" continued Mary Jane wonderingly.

"The picnic was over before you were hurt," said Mrs. Merrill.

Mary Jane stared at her wide eyed for two or three long minutes.
"Don't talk to her," whispered Dr. Smith very softly; "let her think it
out herself."

So Mrs. Merrill just held her little girl close and waited.

"Oh, I know!" exclaimed Mary Jane as suddenly she remembered it all,
"it came around the corner so fast--something big did, and then I'm
here!"

"And lucky you are to be here, young lady," said Dr. Smith, coming
around to where she could see him.  "How do you feel?"

"Hungry," said Mary Jane briefly.

Dr. Smith and Mother laughed so that the others heard them downstairs
and came running to hear what the good news could be.

"Is he going to stay for breakfast?" asked Mary Jane as she sat up in
bed and pointed to Dr. Smith.  "It _is_ breakfast time, isn't it,
Grandmother?"

"Bless the child!" exclaimed Grandmother from the doorway, "of course
it is!  She shall have anything she wants!"

They could hardly believe their eyes--those five who had seen the
accident, but it was true.  Mary Jane had not been hurt a bit--not more
than a half-dozen scratches--only stunned by her fall.  She got up in a
few minutes, and with her mother's help (and how good it did seem to
have her mother there _to_ help) they soon came downstairs to
breakfast.  Grandmother was so happy and excited that if it hadn't been
for the help of Alice, who could always be counted on to be "steady"
when there was excitement a-foot, there's no telling what would have
happened to that breakfast.

Alice got out the honey and set the extra place for Dr. Smith and cut
the melons and brought the eggs to her grandmother.  And Grandmother
made some of her wonderful griddle cakes and they had a merry feast.

"Aren't you glad that big thing hit me?" asked Mary Jane of Dr. Smith
as she passed up her plate for a third (or was it the fourth) helping
of cakes, "'cause if it hadn't, you wouldn't have had any of
Grandmother's griddle cakes this morning, you wouldn't."

Dr. Smith had to admit that some good comes of everything and that he
certainly was glad to get those griddle cakes.  "The whole trouble," he
added, "was because you didn't take _me_ to the picnic--of course
that's not a hint!"

They all laughed at that and promised that he should go to the very
next picnic they had--the very next.

How the days did fly after that.

Mary Jane would never have supposed that ten days could go so swiftly.
They took long rides in the car; had several fine picnics--with Dr.
Smith along whenever he could go; went fishing in the river miles away
and spent a day on a farm where threshers were working--a wonderful day
the girls thought for it was all new to them.

And finally it came time to pack the trunks and start for home.

Mary Jane had hard work deciding what to put in, just as she had had
when she packed to come.  She wanted to take all the burr houses and
green apple dolls they had made; and the ducks and a lot of corn and
apples for Doris.  She finally agreed that she would leave out all the
other things if she could take _one_ house of burrs and _one_ green
apple doll just to show how they were made and then a nice box of red
cheeked eating apples to give to her little friend.

It was decided to go home by the day trip.  The journey was shorter
that way and Alice begged to go at a time when they might eat in the
diner.  So they took the train at nine in the morning and would reach
home in time for dinner that night.

Mary Jane found it very hard to say good-by to Grandmother and
Grandfather.  She had learned to love them dearly and they had been so
good and kind and thoughtful to her she would never, as long as she
lived, forget the happy days she had spent with them.  But, nice as it
was to go away to visit, it was nicer still to be going home.  Home to
her own dolls and toys and friends and duties--everything that Mary
Jane loved--that is, most everything, for it was hard to leave the lamb
and the duck now grown so big and interesting and the baby mice--the
new baby mice that had come to the barn loft family.

She waved good-by to her Grandmother and Grandfather as long as she
could see them--which wasn't very long for the train pulled away so
quickly from the little station where the Merrills got on; and then she
turned to her mother and said, "now let's talk about something quick."

"Very well," said Mrs. Merrill, "I was just wanting to do that.  Let's
talk about what you are going to do this winter."

"Do this winter?" exclaimed Mary Jane in surprise, "I'm going to do
just like I always do.  I'm going to play with my dolls and play with
Doris and sometimes with Junior and help you and everything like I do,
Mother."

"Think so, dear?" asked Mrs. Merrill, "how old are you?"

"I'm five," answered Mary Jane in surprise.

"Five and a little more than a quarter," corrected Mrs. Merrill, "and
seems to me that's big enough to be going to kindergarten.  What do you
think?"

"Oh, is it, Mother?" exclaimed Mary Jane happily, "am I really big
enough?"

"I'm afraid my little girl is growing up," said Mrs. Merrill with half
a sigh, "and that she ought to go to school.  What do you think,
Father?"

"I think she'll like it and that she ought to go," said Mr. Merrill
promptly; "suppose we start her the first of October?"

So it was settled that Mary Jane was to go to kindergarten.  They made
plans and talked till the porter came through the car and called,
"First call for luncheon!  First call for luncheon!  Diner in the rear
of the train!"  And then they all went through the train to the diner
and Mary Jane ate her first meal on the train.

And if you want to know about what Mary Jane did after she got home
from her summer trip; and about all the fun and good times she had
after she started to kindergarten, you must read--

MARY JANE IN KINDERGARTEN





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