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´╗┐Title: Little Prudy's Dotty Dimple
Author: May, Sophie, 1833-1906
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 "Little Prudy's Dotty Dimple" ***

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LITTLE PRUDY'S
DOTTY DIMPLE

_By_
SOPHIE MAY

NEW YORK
HURST & COMPANY
PUBLISHERS

[Illustration]

DEDICATION.

TO

Little Nelly Clarke.



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER                          PAGE
   I.  DOTTY'S BABYHOOD            7
  II.  THE BONE MAN               31
 III.  DOTTY'S VERSES             36
  IV.  THE NESTLINGS              52
   V.  FANNY HARLOW'S PARTY       65
  VI.  THE LITTLE TEACHER         83
 VII.  BOTH SIDES OF A STORY      98
VIII.  THE WATER-KELPIE          117
  IX.  BROTHER ZIP               137
   X.  DR. PRUDY                 154
  XI.  BUYING A BROTHER          173
 XII.  A WEDDING                 189



DOTTY DIMPLE.



CHAPTER I.

DOTTY'S BABYHOOD.


Alice was the youngest of the Parlin family. When Grandma Read called
the children into the kitchen, and told them about their new little
sister, Susy danced for joy; and Prudy, in her delight, opened the
cellar door, and fell down the whole length of the stairs. However, she
rolled as softly as a pincushion, and was not seriously hurt.

"But you can't go into mother's room," said Susy, "you're crying so
hard."

"Poh!" replied three-years-old Prudy, twinkling off the tears; "yes, I
can neither. I won't go _crying_ in! I didn't hurt me velly bad. I'm
weller now!"

So she had the first peep at the wee dot of a baby in the nurse's arms.

"O, dear, dear," said she, "what shall I do? I _are_ so glad! I wish I
could jump clear up to the _sky_ of this room! How do you do, little
sister?"

The baby made no reply.

"Why! don't you love me? This is _me_: my name's Prudy. I've got a red
pocket dress;--Santa Claw bringed it."

Still the little stranger paid no heed,--only winked her small, bright
eyes, and at last closed them entirely.

"O, my stars! she don't hear the leastest thing," sobbed Prudy, glad of
an excuse to cry again. "She can't hear the leastest mite of a thing!
Where's the holes in her ears gone to? O, dear, dear!"

It seemed to Susy that this was the happiest day of her life. She stole
up to her mother and kissed her. "O, mamma," said she, "wasn't God good
to send this little sister?--Why, I'm crying," added Susy, greatly
surprised: "what do you suppose makes me cry, when I'm happy all
over--clear to the ends of my fingers?"

"Yes, your eyes are sprinklin' down tears, but you're laughing all over
your face; and so 'm I," said little Prudy, delighted to see some one
else as foolish as herself.

"Susan, I hope thee'll receive this new sister as a gift from God," said
grandma Read, wiping her spectacles.

"It seems so funny," said Susy, gently stroking the baby's face; "so
funny for me to have a new sister."

"Now you've tolled a story, Susy Parlin; she was sended to me,--isn't I
the littlest?" cried bruised and battered Prudy, shaking with another
tempest of tears, and kissing the baby violently.

"O, mamma! O, grandma," said Susy, clasping her hands in alarm, "don't
let her kiss that soft baby so hard! She'll draw the blood right
through her cheeks."

The nurse who was a smiling woman, with a wart on her nose, began to
frown a little, and grandma Read, patting Prudy's head, whispered to her
that if she did not stop crying she must leave the room, as the noise
she made disturbed her mother.

"Then I'll--I'll be--just as good as a lady, and I won't kiss her no
more," replied little Prudy between her sobs, at the same time prying
open baby's mouth with her busy fingers.

"Why, where's her teef? When you goin' to put in her teef?"

"O," said Susy, in an ecstasy, "isn't she such a velvet darling? What
cunning little footsie-tootsies! Shaped just like a flatiron! But I
haven't seen her eyes yet."

"There, look now," said Prudy, puffing in the baby's face; "her eyes has
came! I've _blowed_ 'em open."

"O, fie, Miss Prudy," said the nurse, biting her lips; "now you'll
certainly have to leave the room. It's not safe for you to come near
this tiny bit of a baby. Nobody ever knows what you are likely to do
next."

Little Prudy hung her head in great dismay.

"Then, if she goes, I'll have to go too, or there'll be a fuss," sighed
Susy, stroking the baby's hair, which was as soft as a mouse's fur.

Both children cast a lingering look at the bewitching little figure, so
daintily wrapped in a fleecy blanket. Prudy felt tempted to snatch her
up and give her a good hugging, but stood in mortal fear of the nurse.
There was something awful about Mrs. Fling: Prudy presumed it was the
wart on her nose.

When the children were outside the door, and grandma had closed it
gently, they seated themselves on the upper step of the staircase, and
began to talk over this strange affair.

"Don't you know what made me cry in there?" said Prudy. "The baby isn't
only a _girl_, and that's why I cried."

For the moment Prudy fancied she was telling the truth.

Susy laughed. "Just to think of our keeping a boy in THIS
house, Prudy Parlin!"

"O, no! _course_ not!" returned her little sister, quickly; "_we_
wouldn't keep a boy."

"You see," argued Susy, "it's boys that fires all the popguns, and
whistle in your ears, and frighten you. Why, if this was a brother, we
couldn't but just live! What made you cry for a brother, Prudy?"

"Poh, I didn't! I wouldn't have him for nothin' in my world! I'm glad
God sended a girl, and that's what made me _laugh_."

"It seems so queer to think of it Prudy, I don't know what to do with
myself, I declare."

"Well, I know what _I'm_ goin' to do. I'll give her my red
pocket-dress. She's come clear down from God's house, and this is a
drefful cold world."

Susy knew that little Prudy's heart must be overflowing with sisterly
love to the baby, or she would not be willing to give her the
pocket-dress.

"She can tuck her candy in it," pursued Prudy; "'tisn't a believe-make,
you know; there's a hole clear through. She can tuck her candy in, and
her pyunes and pfigs, and teenty apples. Oho!"

"'Twill be as mother says about giving her your dress, Prudy; but we
shall be glad to see you kind to the new sister," said Susy, who was
fond of giving small lectures to Prudy. "We ought to be kind to her,
for God sent her down on purpose. Of course it will be ME that
will take the most care of her; but maybe they'll let you watch her
sometimes when she's asleep. Don't blow open her eyes any more, Prudy;
that's very naughty. If we do just as we ought to, and are kind to her,
she'll be a comfort, and grow up a lady!"

"O, will she?" asked Prudy, a little sadly. "I thought when she growed
up she'd be a gemplum, like papa."

"What an idea! But that's just as much sense as you little bits o'
children have! When you don't know about anything, Prudy, you may come
and ask _me_; I'm most six."

The new baby was very wonderful indeed. The first thing she did was to
cry; the next was to sneeze. Prudy wished "all the people down street,
and all the ladies that lived in the whole o' the houses, could see the
new sister." Her heart swelled with pride when admiring ladies took the
unconscious little creature in their arms, saying, "Really, it is a
remarkably pretty child. What starry eyes! What graceful little fingers!
Isn't her mouth shaped like Prudy's?"

Mrs. Parlin did not approve of cradles, and the nurse had a fashion of
rolling the baby in a blanket and laying her down in all sorts of
places. One day little Prudy flung herself into the big rocking chair,
not noticing the small bundle which lay there, under a silk
handkerchief.

It was feared at first that the baby was crushed to death; but when she
was heard to cry, Mrs. Parlin said, "We have great cause for
thankfulness. So far as I can judge, it is only her _nose_ that is
broken!"

But the doctor pronounced the baby's bones as sound as ever.

"It is only little Miss Prudy whose nose is out of joint," added he.

Prudy ran to look in the glass, but could not see anything the matter
with her nose, or anything that looked like "a joint." But after this
she was as careful as a child of her heedless age can be, not to injure
her tender sister. She never again saw a silk handkerchief without
shaking it to make sure there was not a baby under it.

It was a long while before the friends could decide upon a name for this
beautiful stranger.

"For my part I have no choice," said Mr. Parlin, "and only one remark to
make; call the child by her right name, whatever it may be, for I am
very much opposed to pet names, of all sorts."

After every one else had spoken, Mrs. Parlin suggested that she would
like to call the baby Alice Barrow, in honor of a dear friend, now in
heaven.

She grew to be a fair, fat baby; and while her teeth were pricking
through, like little pointed pearls, Susy's front teeth were dropping
out. Then she grew to be a toddling child; and while she was learning to
walk, Prudy was beginning to sew patchwork. For time does not stand
still; it passed, minute by minute, over the heads of Susy, Prudy, and
Alice, as well as all the rest of the world. And soon it brought an end
to Alice's babyhood.



CHAPTER II.

THE BONE MAN.


In spite of all Mr. Parlin had said against it, his little daughter was
called by various pet names,--such as Midge, and Ladybird, and
Forget-me-not. Very few were the people who seemed to remember that her
name was Alice.

She had a pair of busy dimples, which were a constant delight to her
sisters.

"They twinkle, twinkle like little stars, only they don't shine," cried
Prudy.

"Why," said Susy, "it's just as if her cheeks were made of water, and
we were skipping pebbles in 'em."

And because of these tiny whirl pools, the child was usually called
Dotty Dimple. From the time she could stand on her own little feet, she
was a queen of a baby, and carried her small head very high. If she
chanced to fall over a chair she seldom shed a tear, but thought the
chair had treated her shamefully, and ought to be shut up in the closet.
She never liked to have any one kiss her little bruises and pity her. It
gave great offence if any one said, "Poor Alice!" She seemed to grow
half a head taller in a minute, and looked as if she would say, "Needn't
make a baby o' _me_!"

Not that she really said so. Talking was a thing she did not often
attempt, though she sang a great deal, with a voice as clear as a flute.
Prudy mourned because her tongue "did not grow fast enough." But where
was the need of speech? If she fancied she would like to be tossed to
the "sky of the room," she had only to pat her father's arm, and point
upward, and the next minute she was flying to the ceiling, in high glee,
and catching her breath. If she wished to go walking, it was enough to
point to the door, and then to her hat. Her little forefinger was as
good as most people's tongues, and served as a tolerably good
guide-post, for it pointed the way she meant to go herself, and the way
she wished others to go.

One day, while Mrs. Parlin was making currant jelly, she allowed Prudy
to stay in the kitchen, and see her strain the beautiful crimson juice.
But as for Alice, she had been found pounding eggs in a mortar, and must
be taken away. She was placed in care of Susy, who led her out upon the
piazza, where she could watch the people passing by. "_Pedadder!_" cried
Alice, showing her dimples. "Yes, _piazza_; so it is," said careless
Susy, beginning to read a fairy story, and soon forgetting her quiet
little charge.

Looking up at last, there was nothing to be seen of Alice. She could not
have entered the house, for the front-door knob was above her reach.

Susy ran out upon the pavement, and looked up and down the street.
Which way to go she could not tell, but started down street at full
speed. "O, I'm sure I ought to be going _up street_," gasped she; "and
if I was, I shouldn't think _that_ was right either. Wish I knew which
way I should _expect_ Dotty to go, and then I'd know she'd gone just the
other way."

After flitting hither and thither for some time, Susy ran home to give
the alarm. Without stopping to remove the jelly from the stove, Mrs.
Parlin, Norah, and Prudy ran out of doors, and taking different
directions, started in search of the missing child.

On High Street Prudy met a soap-man, just reentering his wagon at some
one's door.

"O, have you seen my little sister?" cried Prudy, pressing her hand
against her heart.

"Your little sister? And who may that be?" said the soap-man, in a deep
whisper; for he had such a severe cold on his lungs that for six months
he had not spoken a loud word.

"O, her name is Alice Wheelbarrow Parlin, sir," whispered Prudy, in
reply; "and she had on a pink dress, and her hair curls down her neck,
and she has the brightest eyes, and two years and a half of age, sir. O,
where _do_ you s'pose she's gone to?"

In her concern for Dotty, Prudy had forgotten her usual fear of
strangers.

"I'm sorry you've lost your sister," whispered the soap-man; "but as you
seem to be pretty well tired out, suppose you jump into my cart and
ride with me."

Prudy wondered why the man still kept whispering, but presumed there was
some reason why the loss of Dotty aught to be kept secret. She looked at
the long lumber-wagon, partly filled with barrels, and was on the point
of replying, "No, thank you, sir," when a bright idea occurred to her.

"Do you s'pose, sir, I can get to my sister any quicker if I ride?"

"Well, can't say as to that, my dear," whispered the soap-man, shoving a
barrel to one side, "seeing as I don't know where your sister's to be
found; but there's one thing certain--you'll get over the ground a good
deal quicker riding than you would on your feet. I'm going to Pearl
Street before I stop."

"Then I'll ride, sir, if you'll please lift me in," whispered poor
Prudy, trembling with fear of the uncouth wagon and strange man, yet
resolved to risk anything for Dotty's sake.

There was no seat in the wagon, and Prudy was obliged to stand up.

"Hold on to me, sissy," said the kind-hearted soap-boiler. "I reckon you
ain't used to riding in this kind of shape. Why, lawful sakes, your face
is as white as a pond-lily!"

"It's my heart," whispered Prudy, faintly; "it _whisks_ just like the
eggs Norah beats in a bowl. But it's no matter, sir; I don't think I'm
afraid,--or only a little speck," added she, in a lower whisper; for,
though anxious to be polite, she did not mean to tell anything but the
"white truth."

The little girl's gentle ways won the soap-boiler's heart at once.
"What's your fathers name, little dear?" inquired he, as they went
clattering through the streets.

"His name is Mr. Edward Parlin.--But O, I don't see a single thing of
Dotty!"

"Dotty! Why, who is Dotty?" asked the man, turning about, and gazing at
his little passenger with a look of curiosity.

"Why, Mr.--, why, _sir_, don't you know?" replied the child, struck with
a sudden fear that her strange companion was a crazy man. "O, my stars!
don't you know what you took me up for? Didn't you hear? My little
sister ran off the piazza." Then Prudy repeated the words aloud, slowly
and on a high key, anxious this time to make her meaning very clear.
"She--ran--off--the--piazza, with a pink dress on, sir, and not a
speck--of--a--hat. And I was stirring jelly on the stove, and never knew
it till she was lost and gone. And we're all hunting,--me, and--mother,
and--all. I thought you knew, sir; but if you didn't I guess I'd better
get out!"

The good-natured soap-man shook with laughter. "Excuse me, little miss,"
said he, "but the fact is, I understood you to say your sister's name
was Alice Wheelbarrow Parlin, and that's why I was puzzled to know who
you meant by Dotty.--But here we are at Pearl Street. Here, in this
house, lives one of my best customers. Now, if you like, I'll lift you
out, and you can go with me and inquire for your little sister. Then you
can ride again, for I'm going as far as Munjoy."

So saying, the man took Prudy out in his arms. She knew it was rather
odd for a little girl like her to be going around to people's back doors
with a stranger in a blue blouse; but it was all for Dotty's sake.

The man knocked with the handle of his whip, and a neat-looking servant
girl appeared.

"Have you seen anything of a stray child?" was his first question.

"My little sister," cried Prudy, in breathless haste. "She had on a pink
dress, and curls bareheaded."

"We have seen no such child pass this way," replied the girl, civilly.
Prudy's eager face fell.

"I supposed likely as not you hadn't," said the soap-man; "so now we'll
proceed to business. You see I'm here with my wagon and barrels, and I
suppose you perceive that I've come for your bones!"

These whispered words fell on Prudy's ears with terrible force. A vague
terror seized her. "_I've come for your bones!_" What could he mean? Was
he an ogre, right out of a fairy-book? What did he want of that poor
woman's bones?

Without stopping to think twice, Prudy ran off with trembling haste, and
by the time the astonished soap-boiler missed her she had reached
Congress Street, and was still running.

The first thing she saw, as she entered her own door, was the fluttering
of Dotty's pink dress. The runaway was safe and sound. She had only
toddled off after a man with a basket of images, calling out, "baa,
baa," "moo, moo," "bow-wow." The end of it was, that the image man had
given her a toy lamb, for which she had said, "How do," instead of thank
you; and Florence Eastman had led her home.

Susy was heartily ashamed of her heedlessness.

"Now, mother," said she, "do you think, if I should be kept on bread and
water for a whole day, I should learn to remember? You'll never trust
Dotty with me again."

"Ah," said Mrs. Parlin, with a meaning smile; "the trouble is, Susy,
you've made up your mind that your memory is good for nothing: you
_expect_ to forget! I _shall_ trust you again, and you must fully
resolve to do better."

Dotty was very proud of her "baa, baa," and insisted upon putting it in
her bathing tub every morning, and scrubbing it with her own hands.

Everybody laughed at Prudy's wild story of the soap-boiler.

"We were tired, my feet and I," said she, between laughing and crying;
"but I never'd have rode with that whispering man if I'd known he was a
_bone man_!"



CHAPTER III.

DOTTY'S VERSES.


By the time Alice Parlin was three years old she could prattle like a
bobolink, and thought herself quite as old and wise as either of her
sisters. Every Sunday morning it made her very wretched to see Susy and
Prudy set out, with bright faces, for Sabbath school!

"Mayn't me go, too?" said she, plaintively. "Me's got the coop; _must_
go to Sabber school!"

"O," replied Prudy, snatching a kiss from her pouting lips, "if you've
got the croup you certainly can't go."

Dotty shook her curls. "Coop's went off now. Dotty'll go, all o' _you_."

"O, no, little sister; you'll stay at home and look at your pictures.
That's the way _I_ did when I was little."

"You mustn't _contraspute_," cried Dotty, shaking her elbows. "I _is_
goin' to Sabber school." Then suddenly showing her dimples, she added
with a bright smile, "'Cause I's your comfort, you know, Prudy, your
darlin', precious little comfort; isn't I, Prudy?"

"Dear me," thought tender Prudy, "the poor little thing always has to
stay at home. I'll ask mother to let her go with me next time. It is
right for me to ask, for I'm sure I don't _want_ her to go; so it isn't
selfish!"

Mrs. Parlin had a great many doubts as to Dotty's good behavior, but at
last consented. She felt pretty safe to trust her with Prudy, who was
very patient, and had even now a memory longer than Susy's.

Before the time came to start for Sabbath school, Dotty stood a long
while before the mirror, looking up at her gay hat and down at her
cunning gaiters. She liked nice clothes, and it pleased her to see
herself so prettily dressed.

"Is that you, O you darlin' Dotty?" said she, nodding her vain little
head, and smiling till her dimples "twinkled." "Well, good by, Dotty;
I's goin' to Sabber school."

"O, hurry, hurry!" cried Susy; "we'll surely be late."

They stepped out upon the pavement, Dotty walking between her sisters.

"We can't hurry, you know," said Prudy, "because Dotty's feet are so
little."

"_I_ never should have thought of bringing her," exclaimed Susy. "Any
one would think she'd been eating snails. When she takes up her foot she
shakes it before she puts it down."

"O, what a 'tory!" said Dotty Dimple, tossing her head. "I never shaked
my foot; did I, Prudy?"

But Prudy had suddenly turned about, and gone back to the house, saying
she had forgotten something. She had left home without kissing her
mother good by, and nothing could console Prudy for the loss of one of
her mother's caresses.

"There, girls, I'm back again," said she, catching her breath. "Now,
Dotty, let's we see how fast we can walk."

"Drefful dirty," said Dotty, scowling at her overshoes.

"Yes," replied Susy, "this snow has been round on the ground a good
while. It's most time it went back to heaven to get clean."

"What do you mean by snow's going to heaven?" said Prudy, gazing at the
street, which was half white and half black.

"Why, you see," answered Susy, "it says, 'God scattereth the snow like
wool, and his hoar-frost like the shining pearls.' And my Sabbath school
teacher tells us that after a while the sun draws it back, and makes
clouds of it, as 'twas before. So, you see, the snow and the rain keep
sprinkling down, and then rising up to the sky again."

"Why--ee!" said Prudy; "how does the snow go up? I never saw it going."

"Indeed you have, Prudy. It goes puffing up in fog. Why, it's just as if
the snow was a teakettle, and it keeps steaming out clouds."

"O, does it, Susy? Now, when it fogs, I shall know the snow's going up."

"Please don't talk any more," returned Susy, suddenly lowering her
voice; "we must be very quiet on the street, for it's Sunday. You don't
mean any harm, Prudy, but you say so much that I'm afraid I shall forget
my lesson. I keep saying it over to myself, you know."

Susy and Prudy belonged in different classes. Susy recited from a
question book, and Prudy learned verses from the Bible. Dotty Dimple
went with Prudy into Miss Carlisle's class, where eight or ten little
girls were already seated.

"It's my little sister, Miss Carlisle," whispered blushing Prudy.
"Mother allowed her to come to-day because she isn't coming any more.
Will you please excuse her?"

Smiling, Miss Carlisle was very willing to "excuse" Dotty for her sweet
sister's sake. But Prudy felt rather nervous. She made a place beside
herself for Dotty, who folded her small hands and sat as still as a
marble cherub; but what odd thing she might take it into her busy brain
to do, no one could tell.

When Prudy's turn came she repeated her verse: "Set a watch, O Lord,
before my mouth: keep the door of my lips."

"An excellent text," said Miss Carlisle. "It would make me very happy if
I thought you would remember it all your life, darling. Do you think you
understand it?"

"Mother says it means, 'Be careful to say only what is true and good,'"
replied Prudy, in a low voice.

"That is right," said Miss Carlisle; "but do you understand what is
called the 'figure of speech' in the verse? Do you know what a watch
is?"

"A little thing that ticks."

"There is another kind, my dear. We have in cities _watchmen_, to guard
us and see that all goes right while we sleep."

"O, I know," replied Prudy, quickly; "the verse asks God to give us a
_conscience_ to walk back and forth before our lips while we talk!"

Miss Carlisle went on to say more about the watch, while Dotty fixed her
bright eyes on her face, thinking, "What booful flowers those is in her
bonnet! Where did she pick 'em?"

The next verse was Sadie Bicknell's:--

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

Dotty listened to this, and Miss Carlisle's remarks upon it, with the
most solemn earnestness, hoping to learn why it was that people should
sit with a lamp shining on their feet. She thought she could now see why
Prudy loved to go to "Sabber school;" it was because she heard so many
funny things.

Soon all the little girls had repeated their texts; but, to her great
surprise, Dotty had not been called upon to say or do a single thing. It
was a marked slight. She hardly knew whether to be angry or not. "I
guess the lady didn't see me," thought Dotty. So she cleared her throat
with a loud noise, which echoed across the room. Then Miss Carlisle
looked at her and smiled. She was off the seat, standing on her tiptoes,
Prudy tried to draw her back; but so much the more Dotty persisted. She
shook off her sister's hand.

"I wasn't a 'peakin' to you," said she.

"Never mind her, Prudy," said Miss Carlisle, for the poor girl was
crimson with shame; "let your little sister come to me; perhaps she
wishes to tell me something."

Miss Carlisle bent forward, and let Dotty place her rosy lips close to
her face.

"Now, what do you wish, little one?"

"You didn't hear me say my _werse_," whispered Dotty, in a tone of
pique.

"Your verse? Did you learn one, child?"

"Yes, 'm, I did. I learned it all day yes'day."

"O, very well! then say it, by all means, dear."

Prudy's face expressed perfect despair. She tried to hush Dotty; but one
might as well coax the wind to stop blowing. The child's thoughts had
been like caged birds, and now out they must fly.

"Shall I _whisper_?" asked Dotty.

"No, say your verse aloud."

The child planted herself in front of the class, and recited, in a high
key, and with the greatest delight,--

     "What you thpose um had for supper?
      B'ack-eyed beans, un bread un butter."

It was not possible to help smiling. Prudy in spite of her shame and
distress, shook with laughter; but it was a laughter just ready to
tremble into tears.

"I'll never ask mother to let her come again, if I once _do_ get her
safe home," thought outraged Prudy.

Dotty was not allowed to attend Sabbath school again that year; but it
was a long time before she forgot some of the things she had heard Miss
Carlisle say. Many of the strange words rang in her ears for weeks after
wards, though she said nothing about them.

One day she rushed into the nursery out of breath. Prudy was kneeling
before her little trunk, putting in order the paper dolls, which Dotty
had scattered over the floor. They were a sad sight. Some of them had
lost their heads, and some had lost their fine clothes, which are worth
as much as heads any day--to dolls.

But Dotty did not stop to look at the mischief she had made. Her
thoughts were of other matters. She had brought from the kitchen a "Tom
Thumb lamp" and a bunch of matches.

Without a word she seated herself on the floor, behind her sister, and
drew off her shoes and stockings. She looked for a moment at her little
pink toes, then rubbed the whole bunch of matches on the carpet, saying
to herself, "A lamp to my feet."

But, somehow, the lamp would not light itself. Dotty did not know how to
turn back the chimney, and, though there was certainly blaze enough in
the matches, it did not catch the wick. It leaped forward and caught the
skirt of Prudy's dress.

"You're burnin' afire! You're burnin' afire!" shouted Dotty, dancing
around her sister. Prudy now felt the heat, and screamed too, bringing
her mother and Norah to the spot at once. The flames were soon smothered
in a rug, and so Prudy's life was mercifully saved.

It was sometime before any one understood what Dotty had been trying to
do with a light.

"I was just only a-puttin' a lamp to my feet," sobbed she. "I learned it
to Sabber school."

But the little one's rare tears were soon dried by a romp with Zip out
of doors.

"It's queer how things always happen just right," said Prudy, still
trembling from her fright. "You said, if I'd been wearing my calico,
mother, I'd have been scorched. And you know it was only the littlest
while ago I put on this blue delaine, to go to auntie's in!"



CHAPTER IV.

THE NESTLINGS.


An hour or two after this, Mrs. Parlin, Susy, Prudy, and Zip went to
visit Mrs. Eastman, who now lived a little way out of town.

Dotty was driving ducks, and did not see her mother and sisters when
they started.

"Where is they, Nono? And where's Prudy?"

"Gone walking. Your mamma told you they were going," replied Norah,
setting a basin of water and a brush and comb on the stand.

"Well, Prudy's runned away," cried Dotty, "Naughty girl; made out o'
dirt!"

"Come here, Miss Dimple, and let me brush your hair."

"Well, here's my hair, Nono, but you mustn't pull it; 'tisn't _your_
hair! O, I want to kiss my mamma, I do!"

"Your mamma will be back again this evening."

"Don't want to kiss her in the evening--want to kiss her now!"

"What makes you in such a hurry to kiss your mother?"

"O, I just only want to tell her to whip Prudy. Naughty Prudy runned
away! Made out o' dirt!"

Dotty always looked very low-spirited while her long hair was being
curled over a stick, and now was more unhappy than usual, for it was
one of her "temper days."

But at last cousin Percy Eastman happened to call in, and declared he
must take his pretty cousin home with him in the carriage.

"I'll get her ready," said Norah; "but you're sure to be sorry if you
take her, for she's brimming over with mischief to-day."

Dotty danced like a piece of thistledown. "There, Nono," said she, "I's
goin' to auntie's my own self; Prudy'll have to give up."

All this time Mrs. Parlin and the two older children were having a fine
walk. It was a bright June day. Prudy said she had to sing to herself
for all the things she saw looked as happy as if they were alive. As
Prudy talked, she flew from flower to flower, like a honey-bee.

"I can't wait for Prudy to walk so zigzag," said Susy.

Mrs. Parlin suggested that Susy should keep on, and tell her aunt
Eastman they were coming. Then she allowed Prudy to walk as "zigzag" as
she pleased; for Mrs. Parlin had long patience with her children.

"O, mamma," said Prudy, suddenly stopping short, and standing on one
foot; "if there isn't a cow!"

"I see, my dear, she is eating the sweet grass."

"Yes, 'm; but don't its horns flare out like a pitchfork? Do you s'pose
he knows how easy he could toss folks right up in the air?"

"I hope my little daughter is not afraid of a gentle cow."

"No, indeed," cried Prudy, clinging fast to her mother's hand. "Poh! if
I was afraid of a cow I'd be a cow--ard. I'd as lief he'd see me as not,
if you'll shake your parasol at him, mamma."

Prudy breathed more freely when the cow was out of sight.

Soon she saw something which caused her to forget her terror. Peeping in
among the branches of a small tree, she espied what she called a "live
bird's nest." Never having seen any young birds before, she wondered at
first "who had picked off their feathers." The wee things seemed to be
left to themselves while their mother was away providing supper.

"Haven't they very big stretchy mouths, for such small birdies?" said
Prudy. "Aren't you afraid they'll crack their mouths in two, gaping so,
mamma?"

"They are only hungry, child. Suppose you feed them with a bit of a
berry."

Prudy nipped a strawberry into three parts with her thumb and
forefinger, and dropped the pieces into their mouths.

"O, mamma, they swallowed it whole! they swallowed it whole! Their teeth
haven't come!"

Prudy's fresh delight and surprise were so pleasant to witness that her
mother allowed her to linger for a while, mincing berries for the
nestlings supper.

When, at last, they reached Mrs. Eastman's, Prudy eagerly described the
young wonders she had found.

"It was like a story," said she, "of little widow-children,--how the
mother was dead, and the children had to stay alone."

"Children are never widows," said Susy, laughing; "it isn't possible!
But if their parents die, they are orphans sometimes."

"That's just what I meant," exclaimed Prudy, looking crestfallen. "I
should think you might know what I mean, 'thout laughing at me,
either."

Before long Dotty Dimple arrived, in great triumph. She threw her chubby
arms about her mother's neck, saying, "Is I your little comfort, mamma?
I camed in the hoss and carriage. S'an't give Prudy no supper--will you?
'Cause Prudy runned away!"

"I should not have allowed this child to come," said Mrs. Parlin, at the
tea table; "but cousin Percy always picks up the stray babies, and gives
them a ride."

Dotty looked as if she could easily forgive her cousin Percy. But there
was one thing that made her nice supper taste like "spoiled nectar," and
that was the sight of Prudy enjoying her strawberries and cream.

If she had runned away, as Dotty insisted upon believing, why was she
not shut up in the closet? Strange to say, dearly as Dotty loved this
kind sister, she enjoyed seeing her punished. She was vexed because
Prudy was allowed, after all, to sit at the table with the rest of the
family. The little creature was very tired, for she had driven ducks all
the long summer day. She was also a little sleepy; and, more than all,
it was one of her "temper days," when everything went wrong.

After tea she had a serious quarrel with her little cousin Johnny, over
a dead squirrel, which they both tried to feed with sugared water, from
a teaspoon.

"Johnny," cried she, "don't you touch his mouf any more! If you do, I
s'an't w'ip you, Johnny, but I'll sp'inkle some ashes on your head! Yes,
I will."

Johnny, heedless of the threat, tried again to force open Bunny's stiff
mouth, Dotty's beautiful eyes blazed.

Without a word she walked off proudly to the kitchen, and came back with
a handful of cold ashes, which she freely sifted into Johnny's flaxen
hair. Mrs. Parlin saw that it was high time to take her youngest
daughter home.

"O, mother," said Prudy, who always felt herself disgraced by her little
sister's bad conduct, "sometimes Dotty pretty nearly makes you cry!
Don't you almost wish you hadn't any such little girl?"

"My dear child, I am her _mother_, and she could hardly do anything so
naughty that I should cast her out of my heart. When she has these
freaks of temper, I think, 'God bears with me, and I will try to bear
with my little one. I will wait. One of these days, when her reason
grows, she will be a real blessing to us all.'"

Mrs. Parlin proceeded to put on Dotty's outer wrappings, saying she must
be taken home. The child struggled and screamed, and declared she
"_would_ be good, she _would_ be a comfort;" but her mother was firm,
though her sweet temper never for a moment forsook her. Susy and Prudy
looked on, and learned a lesson in patience which was worth twenty
lectures.

Percy Eastman was as glad to carry his spirited little cousin back as he
had been to bring her to his house. Mrs. Parlin rode too; but Susy and
Prudy walked.

When they came to the tree which contained the birds' nest, Prudy parted
the branches, but the nestlings were not to be seen; the mother-bird had
gathered them under her wings, out of sight.

"Hush!" whispered Susy; "hear them peep! Let's go; we'll frighten the
old birdie out of her wits."

"I wish you could see them, Susy; then you'd know how cunning they are;
and now you never'll know. But it doesn't seem a bit like orphan
children since their mother's got home."

"Makes me think of _our_ mamma, and _her_ three little children," said
Susy, taking her sister's hand.

"Yes," said Prudy, her face radiant with a glow of love, warm from her
heart; "how good our mother always is, and always was, before ever our
_reasons_ grew! Think what we'd do this night, Susy Parlin, if there
wasn't any _mother_ to our house!"



CHAPTER V.

FANNY HARLOW'S PARTY.


"Kiss me, little sister," said Prudy, "and let me go, for I must get
ready for the party."

"I know where you're goin'," said Dotty; "why can't I go too?"

Little did innocent Prudy dream of the queer thoughts which were chasing
one another in her little sister's brain. After she and Susy had gone,
and the house was quite still, Dotty stood at the window, looking down
street. It was a lovely day; the clouds were "softer than sleep."

"O, my suz!" said Dotty Dimple; "there they go, way off, way off, Susy
and Prudy. Bof of 'em are all gone. Nobody at home but me. Didn't ask me
to her party, Fanny Harlow didn't."

Dotty heaved a deep sigh, took her black baby out of its cradle, and
shook it with all her might.

"What you lookin' to me for, Phib? I wasn't a 'peakin' to you. I'm goin'
to cover you all up, Phib, so you won't hear me think."

Then Dotty looked out of the window again. "What a good little girl I
am," thought she, "not to be a cryin'! Prudy'd cry! There goes the
blacksmif's shop." Dotty meant the blacksmith. "His mother lets him go
everywhere. Everybody's mother lets 'em go everywhere."

A prettily dressed little girl passed the window.

"How do you do, little girl?" whispered Dotty, in a voice so low that
even the cat did not hear. "O, what a booful hat you've got! Would your
mamma make you wear a _rainy_ dress, like mine? No, she wouldn't. Your
mamma lets you go to parties all the days only Sundays. My mamma has
sticked me into the nursery, and nothin' but a dar'needle to sew with!
O, hum! And I haven't runned away since forever'n ever! They don't 'low
me to run away. Wish Fanny Harlow'd asked me to her party. I know why
she never! 'Cause she forgot I was born."

Presently there was a sound of little feet. Dotty was pattering up
stairs.

"Didn't know I was sewing with a dar'needle--did you, mamma? Mayn't I go
to Fanny Harlow's party?"

Mrs. Parlin was busy with visitors, and did not pay much heed to her
little daughter. So Dotty crept close to her mother's side, and buried
her roguish face behind her head-dress.

"Wish you'd please to punish me, mamma," said she; "punish me now; I'm
_a-goin_' to be naughty?"

Mrs. Parlin smiled, and reminded Dotty that it was not polite to whisper
in company. Then she went on talking with her friends, and Miss Dimple
slipped quietly out of the room.

"I know I don't ought to," mused the child; "I'm a-goin' to do wicked,
and get punished; but I _want_ to do wicked, and get punished. I've been
goody till I'm all tired up!"

Having made this decision, she went to Prudy's closet, and looked at the
dresses hanging wrong side outward on the pegs.

"This is a booful one," said she, pulling down a scarlet merino. She put
on the dress, forgetting, in her guilty haste, to take off her own blue
one.

"O, my suz! I never did see!" said Dotty, puffing and tugging in her
efforts to fasten the frock. "My mother must make Prudy's clo'es
bigger'n this; yes, she must. It chokes."

However, by dint of much hard work she succeeded in squeezing her round
little figure into the red merino, and fastening two of the buttons. "O,
hum!" sighed she; "this dress is so tight I shan't grow to-day!"

Dotty had a great admiration for her mother's purple breakfast shawl,
which she now threw over her little shoulders with tremulous delight.
Nono's Sunday bonnet she next laid her naughty hands upon. Very charming
was this bonnet in Dotty's eyes, as it was made of claret-colored silk,
and was all on fire inside with scorching red and yellow flames. It was
so huge and so deep that Dotty's small face under it looked as if it had
got lost in Mammoth Cave.

"Now I've got every single clo'es on me. Guess there won't anybody
think I'm a boy this time," mused she, giving a last glance at the
mirror; "there won't anybody laugh, and say, 'How d'ye do, my fine
little fellow?'"

Very well pleased with herself, Dotty dressed "brother Zip" in Prudy's
water-proof cloak, and they both stole out by the side door, without
being seen. But which way to go Dotty could not tell.

"Where _is_ the-girl-that-has-the-party's house?" thought she, under her
bonnet. "Well, it's by the stone lions, 'most up to the North Pole. Now,
Zippy, if we keep a-goin' we shall get there, and we'll see some girls
out by the door."

Zip wagged his faithful tail, which was quite hidden under the cloak,
and they both trudged on, Dotty's heart quivering with wicked delight.

She happened to go in the right direction, and at last did really reach
the "house by the stone lions." Several young girls were indeed playing
in the yard.

"What little image is that, traveling this way?" cried Florence Eastman,
holding up both hands.

"A beggar child, perhaps," replied Fanny Harlow. "'Sh! 'sh! don't
laugh!"

"I don't see anything but a walking bonnet," tittered one of the girls;
"don't it look like a chaise top? O, look, look! as true as you live,
that thing that's hopping along beside her is a dog!"

The little figure now approached very slowly, its head bent down, its
fingers in its mouth; though the girls saw nothing but a big, drooping
bonnet, a purple shawl, and a pair of tiny feet peeping out from a red
dress.

"I guess she came from Farther India," suggested Susy, that being the
most foreign land she could think of.

Dotty now gave a loud knock at the gate, and peeped in between the bars.
In doing so she had to push back the chaise-top, and the little girls
had a full view of her face.

"O, Dotty Dimple Parlin!" screamed her sisters, in dismay.

Fanny Harlow hastened to open the gate.

"Where did you come from, you naughty thing?" whispered Susy, with a
crimson face.

Dotty's sole answer was a violent sneeze, which burst off two buttons,
the only ones which fastened the scarlet merino.

"I've broke my dress," said Dotty, calmly.

The little girls were greatly amused, but Dotty eyed them with such a
gaze of lofty disdain that they kept their faces as straight as
possible.

"Poor thing," said cousin Florence; "how tired you must be! Don't you
want to sit right down in this iron chair?"

Dotty's bright eyes flashed. "Don't you pity _me_, Flossy! Now 'top it!"

"How shall we ever get her home?" thought the two older sisters, in
alarm; for they saw by the motion of Dotty's elbows, that she had made
up her mind to queen it over the whole company.

"Look here, Dotty," said Prudy, going up to her, and kissing her; "did
mother say you might come, darling?"

Dotty rubbed off the kiss, and made no answer.

"Don't you think 'twould be a nice plan," whispered Prudy, "for me and
Susy to draw you home in a little carriage? And I'll ask mother to
forgive you."

"O, yes," said Susy, in an agony of mortification; "now do!"

Dotty looked as unmoved as one of the stone lions, and took no notice of
the request.

"What made they put two trees 'side that one tree?" asked she, by way of
changing the subject.

"Now, Dotty, you will go, that's a little love," said Susy, wringing her
hands. "Only think, if you don't you'll lose five kisses to-night, and I
dare say mamma will punish you, too."

"There's a man goin' by--old all over, and a white whisker. Who is it?"
inquired Dotty, changing the subject again. "The whisker looks like
snow, 's if his chin's cold!"

"Never mind the man," returned Prudy. "If you'll go I'll spend my five
cents, and buy you some pep'mints."

"I'd rather have pickled limes," said Dotty thoughtfully.

"So you shall," cried eager Susy; "and you'll be the sweetest little
pet, and ride home like a lady."

"So I will," said Dotty, serenely, "when I've had my supper."

Susy's face fell. If the little piece of obstinacy would stay, she
_would_; and Mrs. Harlow politely declared they should all be delighted.
But how would she behave at the table? Her manners were as yet unformed;
she needed line upon line and precept upon precept. It was dreadful to
think of her taking supper at one of the nicest houses in the city, in
that dress, and without her watchful mother too! It was a severe trial
to Susy. Prudy was also distressed, but her "sky-like spirit" brightened
again speedily.

The little girls all crowded about Dotty, begging her to join in their
games; but she said it would "hurt her big bonnet," which she could not
be persuaded to take off, because she fancied it added something to her
importance.

Fanny Harlow brought out a picture book for the little runaway.

"I'm afraid she'll tear it," said careful Prudy.

Dotty looked at her sister with a withering glance, and, in her
eagerness to prove that she knew how to handle books, suddenly tore one
of the leaves. She was surprised and mortified; but her self-esteem was
not easily crushed.

"There, Prudy," said she, pertly; "what made you let me do it for? You
_said_ I'd tear it!"

Mrs. Harlow hastened supper, fearing that Mrs. Parlin might be anxious
about her little daughter. Dotty was placed between her two sisters.
Susy pinned a napkin about the child's neck, and in a whisper begged to
be allowed to spread her bread and butter for her. Dotty had worn the
air of a princess royal all the afternoon; but now, seated in a high
chair, and surrounded by a group of admiring little girls, she felt
like a crowned queen. Taking her bread in both hands, she crumbed it
into her goblet of milk, and began to dip it out with the handle of her
fork. The girls looked on and smiled, and Dotty gave a little purr of
satisfaction.

"Everybody'll think mother doesn't teach her good manners," thought poor
Susy, hardly knowing whether she ate bread or ashes.

"Dear, dear," said Prudy to herself; "Dotty may die some time, and then
I should be sorry, and cry. I'll keep thinking of that, so I can bear
her awful actions better."

The little princess, from her throne in the high chair, did very rude
things; such as coughing and blowing crumbs into her plate, drumming
with her feet, and beating time with her fork and spoon. When bread was
offered, she said,--

"I don't like _baker's_ bread. I like _daily_ bread."

But this was all the remark she made during the whole meal. At last she
ceased eating, coughing, and drumming: there was a "flash of silence."

Everybody looked up. Dotty's eyes were closed, and her head was swaying
from side to side, like a heavy apple stuck on a knitting needle--she
was fast asleep.

She was wheeled home in a small carriage, followed by a guard of all the
girls. Next day she was duly punished by being tied to the bedpost with
the clothes-line.

"I wish her _reasons_ would begin to grow," sighed Prudy. "I never can
feel happy when Dotty gets into a fuss."

"I've been thinking it all over," replied Susy, "and I've made up my
mind that God allows her to mortify you and me. You know we must have
some kind of a trial, or we shouldn't grow gentle and sweet tempered."

"As mother is," added Prudy.



CHAPTER VI.

THE LITTLE TEACHER.


At last Dotty's "reasons" did begin to grow. Her mother was too wise and
kind to allow her to have her own naughty way; and by the time she was
four years old she had very few "temper days," and seemed to be growing
quite lovely.

But her sisters were troubled because she had not yet learned to read.
Prudy remembered how ashamed she herself had felt when she first set out
in earnest to go to school. For some time after her lameness she was so
delicate that no pains had been taken to teach her to read.

"My little sister must never be so stupid as I was," thought Prudy,
uneasily.

Sometimes visitors inquired if Miss Dotty knew her letters, and poor
Prudy blushed with shame when Mrs. Parlin calmly replied that she did
not.

"I'm sure mother feels mortified," thought Prudy; "but she holds up her
head, and tries to make the best of it. I'll not say a word to anybody,
but I mean to teach my little sister my own self!"

So one Wednesday afternoon, when Susy was away, Prudy called Dotty into
the nursery, and shut the door.

"What you want me of?" asked the child.

"I want to tell you something nice. Don't you wish you knew your A, B,
C's, darling? There, that's what it is."

Dotty shook her head three or four times, and looked down at the carpet.

"Why, Dotty Dimple, you oughtn't to do so. You must answer when a
question is asked. Wouldn't you like to learn your letters, like a goody
girl, so you can read the nice books? Now be polite, and speak."

"I don't want to be polite, and speak, nor I don't want to learn my
letters, like a goody gell; so there!" replied Dotty, seizing the kitty,
and wrapping her in a shawl.

"O, Dotty Dimple!" said Prudy, in a tone of deep distress; "how old
you're getting to be! just think!"

"I'm four years old, and I weigh four pounds," answered Dotty, drawing
out her little cab, and throwing the muffled kitty into it, as if she
had been a roll of cloth.

"O, my stars, Dotty, I can't bear to have you talk so."

Dotty tucked in the kitty's tail, and drew the carriage about the room,
to give "Pusheen" an airing. "Pusheen" was her kitty's name in Irish.

"You can't think how dreadful it is, Dotty, to grow up and not know
anything!"

Dotty turned a short corner. Pusheen had a fall; down came the little
cab, kitty and all.

"To grow up and not know anything," continued Prudy. "O, it's enough to
break anybody's heart!"

"Be you goin' to cry?" said Dotty, in a soft voice, kneeling, and
peeping up into Prudy's eyes, with some curiosity.

Prudy was obliged to smile but hid her face in the sofa-pillow, and
hoped Dotty did not see her. She found she must hit upon some other
plan. Dotty could not be made to feel the terrors of growing up a dunce.

"Now, little sister," said she, "if you'll let me be your teacher, and
keep school here in the nursery--"

"O, hum! A _little gell_ keep school! Would you send me to the bottom
of the foot?"

"O, no! I'll do something for you--let's me see!"

"Well, what?" cried Dotty, her eyes sparkling like blue gems; "what'll
you do for me, Prudy?"

Prudy thought a minute. Meanwhile the muffled kitty slowly freed herself
from the shawl, and slyly leaped to the top of the bureau, out of reach
of her little mistress.

"O, Prudy," said Dotty, dancing about; "do something quick."

"Listen, dear! Will you promise to learn to read if I'll tell you a
story about every single letter there is on your blocks?"

"How long a story? As long as this room? Yes, I'll promige," cried
Dotty, with a gleeful laugh. "Go get the stories, and tell 'em this
minute!"

"Now we'll begin," said Prudy, no less delighted, pouring the blocks out
of the box upon the floor. "I'll ring the little tea-bell, and call the
school to order. The school means _you_, and you must walk in and take
your seat."

"Yes, if you'll let me sit in the rocking-chair!"

"O, but that is mine, because I'm the teacher."

"Then I'm goin' off into the kitchen," said Dotty, loftily, "and I don't
know as I'll come back. I won't promige."

"O, take the rocking-chair!" replied Prudy quickly. "I'll sit on the
ottoman; it's just as good. Glad you spoke of it, Dotty; 'twouldn't be
proper for the teacher to rock. Hark! now I tingle the bell. School's
begun!"

Dotty walked along, and very demurely seated herself in the big chair.

"Here," said Prudy, showing her a block, "is your first letter; guess
what the picture means, and I'll tell you the name of the letter."

"That?" said Dotty, glancing at it; "that's a monkey; what you s'pose?"

"O, no! it's pretty near a monkey, not quite: it's what we call an
_ape_."

"A nape!" echoed Dotty, pointing at it, and laughing. "O, my! you don'
know nothin' at all but just--do you, Prudy Parlin? Funny gell to keep
school! Didn't you never see a monkey? I've seen 'em dancing
tummy-tum-tum, and a man making music with a little mite of a churn."

"Well, perhaps this is a monkey, and ape is its baby name," said Prudy,
doubtfully.

"Got a face like a dried apple--hasn't he?" said the young pupil,
admiringly. "Rally round the flag, boys!"

"Hush! You mustn't sing in school. The name of this letter is A. Look at
it ever so long, and say it over."

"A, A, A," repeated Dotty, to the tune of "John Brown."

Prudy took courage. "All right, only you mustn't sing. I couldn't speak
the letter better myself than you do, _so_ soon. A stands for ape."

"No, for monkey."

The little teacher yielded the point. She had begun her school with
plenty of love and patience.

"Now tell a story," said Dotty, settling herself in the chair.

"Can't you say 'please'?" suggested Prudy, mildly. "'Please' is but a
little word, and 'thank you' is not long."

"Well, please, and thank you,--'bout a ape."

"I know a real nice one. Once there was a monkey--"

"No, a ape."

"Well, a ape, then. But I didn't start right. Once Mr. 'Gustus Allen
sailed round the world."

"Did? Who sailed him?"

"O, he went in one of those ships that go puffing out of the bay. And he
had a little ape, named Jacky."

"How did you know? You wasn't there."

"O, he told me about it. He was the brightest little creature, Jacky
was. When he was cold, Mr. Allen used to tuck him right in his bosom.
Sometimes he got into mischief, he knew so much."

"Did he know as much as Zip? Did he ever talk in meetin'?"

"No, he couldn't bark the way Zip did at the lecture, but he chattered,
as we do when our teeth are cold. When he'd been doing mischief he'd run
round the floor of the ship, wagging his head the way I do now, as if
he was as innocent as a whole lot of kittens. Why, he acted as you did,
Dotty, when you was a little girl, and picked the inside out of that
custard pie."

"Ahem!" said Dotty. "I guess you think you're talkin' to somebody else,
Prudy Parlin! I don't like your story; wish you'd stop."

"But I was going to tell you how Jacky got sick, and there were ever so
many more monkeys on board--"

"On what board?"

"On the ship. And they took care of Jacky, and brought him his supper as
if they were folks."

"What did he have for supper?"

"O, nuts and things, on a wooden plate."

"I wish I was a monkey!"

"O, Dotty Dimple, that's a horrid speech!"

"Then I don't want to be a monkey; I want to be a ape. I wish I could go
puffing round the world in a ship."

"Well, Dotty, this isn't keeping school. What letter have you learned?"

"I didn't learn a letter; I learned a story. You're a funny gell to keep
a _story_-school!"

Prudy held up the block.

"O, that picked thing? You called it a ape!"

"Why, Dotty Parlin! that's A."

"A _what?_"

"I said _A_," repeated Prudy, with emphasis, "only just _A_."

"Why, 'tisn't A _nothing_--is it?"

"Dear me," thought Prudy, "I don't see how folks do keep school. I'm
getting just as hungry--and cross!"

When Dotty had learned A so well that she knew it at a glance, her
teacher proceeded to the next letter, which stood on the block for a
bat. Dotty said the picture looked "like Zip with an umbrella over him."

After the second story, she was tired of the business.

"Look out the window, Prudy. See that whale! O, you April fool!"

The young sister sighed over her sister's light-minded behavior. When
they came to C, which stood for cat, Dotty seized her kitty and tried to
feed her with lozenges. But Pusheen turned away her head with a gesture
which signified,--

"Candy isn't fit to touch. I'd eat a mouse with you, with pleasure."

"Talk," said Dotty; "say 'thank you,' Pusheen! No, indeed, you needn't
do it; I's just in fun. God didn't give you any teef to talk with,
Pussy; so you can't talk."

"Now, Dotty, this next letter is D."

"O, Prudy, I wish you'd hush! I've got the earache."

"Ah, well!" thought the gentle teacher, with a sigh; "I'll try again,
some other day. I'll not give it up. Grandma says, 'Time and patience
make the mulberry leaf into satin.' I don't know what that means, only
it's something about _perseverance_."



CHAPTER VII.

BOTH SIDES OF A STORY.


The little school was not resumed for some time. Not that Prudy had
forgotten it, by any means; but the next Saturday she had visitors, and
the following Wednesday an exciting event occurred. It concerned Susy's
pony. Percy Eastman said he was called Wings "because he hadn't any
feet." Susy was vexed at this remark, and Prudy, taking her part, said,
"Percy is such a _pert_ boy;" adding next moment, "What _is_ pert?"

But Percy only meant that the pony sadly needed some new shoes; and
this was very true.

Now it happened that Mr. Parlin, being too busy to go himself, sent Eddy
Johnson and Charley Piper with Wings to the blacksmith's shop. It seemed
to Susy that the boys were gone a long while, for it was Wednesday
afternoon, and she was impatient for a ride. She sat down to practise a
little, but her mind was out of doors, and the unwilling piano seemed
crying out to be let alone.

"I can't play," said Susy, decidedly; "and that's the truth."

At that moment a sweet little voice was heard, singing, "John's Brown
buddy;" and Dotty Dimple's head and shoulders were thrust into the
room.

"I've broked it," said she; "I've broked it all to smash."

"Broke what, for pity's sakes?"

"Your teapot," replied Dotty, in a very cheerful voice.

"O, I never did, in all my life, see such a child," wailed Susy. "What
made you go and meddle with my dear little gold-edged tea-set?"

Dotty looked like an injured lamb, brushed the wayward hair out of her
eyes, and gazed wistfully into her sister's face.

"Is I your little comfort, Susy? Is I your little comfort?"

"No," cried Susy, wavering between a smile and a tear; "no, indeed! To
think of _your_ being a comfort! O, my stars!"

"Well, then," continued the little one, in a soothing, cooing tone,
"then I never broked it; it broked itself!"

So saying, she produced from the depths of her pocket the fragments of
the gilt-edged toy. They were past the healing power even of Spalding's
glue, that was certain. At the painful sight, poor Susy's patience flew
into as many pieces as the teapot.

"O, you naughty, naughty thing, to say it broke itself!"

"Then it didn't," replied the little culprit, not a whit dismayed. "Then
'twas Prudy. We was playing 'thimble-coop.' _She_ broked it all to
smash!"

"O, mother," said Susy, running out to the kitchen; "Dotty's making up
fibs as fast as she can speak! You'll have to shut her up in the
closet."

"Not so fast, my dear. Let us wait till we hear both sides of the
story."

And, as it turned out, Dotty really did not deserve to be punished for
wrong stories. She and Prudy had each assisted in breaking the teapot;
one had knocked it off the bureau, and the other had stepped on it. But
Dotty, who gloried in "a fuss," had begged to be the one to tell Susy
the startling news. She wished to see her eyes flash, and hear her
expressions of surprise. She knew that, however angry Susy might be,
there was one magical sentence which would always her to terms:
"Dotty'll go out doors, 'out her hat, get cold, have the _coop_, and
DIE!"

At the bare mention of such a fearful thing, Susy's anger was sure to
cool at once. This time Dotty varied her method a little.

"See," said she, looking out of the window; "the boys has came."

Of course that was the last of Susy's thoughts about the teapot. She
rushed out of doors bareheaded, followed by Dotty. Eddy Johnson was just
hitching Wings to a post near the gate.

"Have they _shoed_ him?" said Susy.

"_Shoed_ him? I should think they had; all of that," replied Eddy,
indignantly.

"Booted him, more like," muttered Charley Piper, in the same tone.

"Why, what do you mean, boys?" said Susy, patting the pony, and gazing
tenderly into his eyes.

"O, we don't mean anything, as I know of. You must run into the house
and ask your mother to come out here," said Eddy, mysteriously.

"Why, it's my own pony, that my own father gave me, and if there's
anything the matter with it I should think you might tell," cried Susy,
her voice shaking with a vague dread of some terrible mishap.

"Well, may be there isn't anything ails him," returned Eddy, coolly. "I
never said there was; but your mother'll know!"

"O, Dotty Dimple, run into the house this very minute, please to,"
exclaimed Susy, "and ask mother--if she's combing her hair, or
_anything_--to come right out here as quick as she can run, and not
wait! O, dear, dear, dear! Why, Dotty Dimple Parlin! you haven't started
yet! Quick! quick! quick!"

Dotty, who had only waited to be spoken to the second time, now ran in
such haste that she stumbled on the piazza steps; but, nothing daunted,
jumped up and went on, delighted to know that this time something had
probably happened. She startled her mother, and called her away from her
toilet, with the sudden cry that the boys and pony were 'most killed.

At the same time she had the pleasure of throwing Prudy into a
panic,--dear little Prudy, who had been for the last five minutes
searching her treasures in the hope of finding some toy which would
replace Susy's teapot.

Prudy and Dotty appeared at the gate in a very brief space; Prudy with
her mouth in the shape of the letter O, and Mrs. Parlin not far off, in
the act of fastening her breastpin.

"Well, boys, what is it?" said the good lady, smiling. "I hardly think
anything very serious has happened, either to you or the pony."

"_You_ tell," said Eddy to Charley; "I _dassn't_. The blacksmith's man
may be mad if I do. But he's abused this hoss, though," continued Eddy,
not waiting to let Charley speak for him; "he's abused him awfully! It's
right up and down mean; and three of us boys seen him!"

Susy clasped her hands, and performed a "stamp-act" on the pavement.

"See there," said Eddy, pointing triumphantly to Wings' left hind leg;
"see that--will you?"

True enough, there were two or three small wounds, out of which was
oozing thick dark blood. Susy looked as if her heart was breaking, but
not a word did she speak.

"Pete Grimes did that with his hobnail, cowhide boots!" said Eddy,
sternly.

"With his hammer, you _mean_," interposed Charley.

"With his _boot_, sir," persisted Eddy, with increasing eloquence.
"Didn't I see him, me and Dan Murphy? Didn't we stand there by the
coal-bin, sir? He booted him well, Mis' Parlin. I'll tell you where he
did it; here on the left side, ma'am. Look where the hair sticks up!
Pooty well mauled--ain't he, ma'am? Pete swore at him, too. Never heard
such talk--did you, Charley?"

"No, ma'am, I never did," replied Master Charley, addressing Mrs.
Parlin, who fancied she could detect on Wings' glossy hide the marks of
a boot, though there were no traces of the wicked oaths.

"It is a most abusive thing--if it is so," said she, with much feeling;
for if anything could move her gentle heart to anger, it was cruelty to
animals. "What made Mr. Grimes behave so strangely, boys? Was the pony
restless?"

"Restless? No, indeed, ma'am," replied Eddy, the orator; "as gentle as a
lamb, ma'am. It was Pete Grimes's wicked temper, and his wicked
disposition; that's what it was."

It was well for Susy that her over-strained feelings now found vent in
words and tears. "There is no grief like the grief which does not
speak." Her dumb agony gave way, and she wept and raved like a little
wild thing.

Mrs. Parlin ordered the boys to lead the pony around to the back door,
and there she washed out his wounds, trying all the while to soothe
Susy, whose heart was beating a quick-step, and who trembled in every
limb.

"Old Grimes is dead, that good old man!" repeated Prudy, with angry
emphasis; "but it wasn't _his_ father. No, indeed; with the old blue
buttons down the back! Why, Peter is an awful man! I saw him once, and
his face looked as if he'd been rubbing it on a pen-wiper! There, Susy,
don't you cry," she added, applying a moral lesson to her sister's
wounded feelings, like a healing plaster; "he's dreadful wicked, and one
of these days he'll get hurt his own self; a horse'll strike _him_!"

"Yes, a horse'll strike _him_!" echoed Dotty Dimple.

"But what good will that do Wings?" moaned Susy. "Evil for evil only
makes things worse."

Her indignation did not lessen, but rather increased, the longer she
reflected upon the subject. What right had a man to abuse anybody's
horse--more especially hers?

"Mr. Grimes ought to be 'dited, and sent to the Reform School or State's
Prison this very night," said she, in her wrath. Prudy thought precisely
the same; also Miss Dimple, who looked upon the whole affair as a joke,
intended for her amusement.

When Mr. Parlin came home to tea, and heard the story, he did not blame
Susy in the least for her indignation, but started off for the
blacksmith's with the limping pony, saying he meant to "inquire into the
business."

"May I go with you?" cried Susy.

"Me, too?" said Prudy, echoed by Dotty.

"Only Susy," replied their father; "she may go if she likes."

Susy very much wondered what her father was going to do. As they
approached the shop, she saw, standing at the door, the man whose face
looked as if it had been "rubbed on a pen-wiper."

"Mr. Grimes," said Mr. Parlin, in a pleasanter manner than Susy thought
was at all necessary, "Mr. Grimes, I believe I owe you for shoeing this
pony."

While Mr. Grimes was making the change, Mr. Parlin added,--

"How happens it, my friend, that this little animal bears such marks of
ill treatment? See how he limps. Look at this gash."

"O," said Mr. Grimes, "he lamed himself by kicking out against the
coal-box; he's a nervous thing."

Mr. Parlin then told the boys' story.

"It is not so, upon my word and honor, sir," replied sooty-faced Mr.
Grimes, with great amazement. "I'll leave it to Mr. Fox."

Mr. Fox, and two or three other men, declared very positively that they
had seen little Wings beating himself against the coal-box; and one of
them pointed out to Mr. Parlin the blood-stain on the edge of the wood.

"You can't trust much to what boys say, especially such harum-scarum
fellows as Ed Johnson," added Mr. Fox. "I shouldn't wonder, now, Grimes,
if he and that Piper boy got their tempers up, and tried to spite you,
for ordering them out of the shop. They were troublesome, and he had to
speak sharp," added Mr. Fox, addressing Mr. Parlin again.

"That's so!" exclaimed Mr. Grimes. "You take three little chaps, and
have 'em meddling with your nails, and sticking scraps of iron into the
coals, and it makes a man cross--or it frets _me_, and I told 'em to
quit."

"Saucy little rogues," chimed in Mr. Fox, anxious for the honor of his
workman.

"As for my striking the pony," continued Mr. Grimes, "I might have
patted him once or twice with the _handle_ of the hammer. I often do
that; but my blows wouldn't kill a fly."

After a little more conversation Mr. Parlin was satisfied that no real
cruelty had been used towards Wings. Susy's heart rose like a feather.

"_Always wait till you hear both sides of a story!_" said Mr. Parlin, as
he and his daughter walked home.

"Just the words _mother_ said this very day," cried Susy, skipping
lightly over the paving-stones. "It's so queer you and mother should
_both_ talk so much alike."



CHAPTER VIII.

THE WATER-KELPIE.


It was nearly time for vacation. As the children were to start on the
next Monday for Willow-brook, their mother allowed them to spend their
last Wednesday afternoon with their cousin Florence. It fell to Prudy's
lot to dress her little sister.

"I'm ever so glad," said Dotty, "that the barber snipped off my
_kyurls_. Don't you think I do look like a boy, now, Prudy? You may call
me Tommy, if you want to; I'm willin'."

"There, now," she exclaimed, when her toilet was made, "say me my
lesson; please to, Prudy."

"O, I forgot all about that" replied the little teacher, uneasily. "Susy
'll be done practising in half an hour, and I thought I'd just have time
to make my doll's boots,--finish them, I mean. Can't you wait till
Saturday, Dotty?"

"O, my suz, Prudy Parlin! When I get to be a great sister to you, I
won't treat you so. I want to get my letters all smooth done
to-day,--don't want to wait till Sat'day."

At any other time Prudy would have been gratified to see Dotty show so
much eagerness.

"Be kind to thy sister," hummed the gentle little teacher. "Yes, I
will. I'm always glad after I've been kind. Nothing makes me love Dotty
so well as to try to please her!"

"Now," said she, calling her school to order, "you've learned as far as
S, which I think is doing finely, all alone, with nobody to help us.
This next letter stands, you see, for a _top_. What is it we drink out
of cups?"

"I don't get anything but milk, and that's in a mug," replied Dotty in
an injured tone.

"But what does mother drink? Now think."

Dotty eyed the letter sharply. "Why, mamma drinks coffee sometimes, and
it has grounds; but they don't look like that thing, the grounds don't!
Why, that thing looks like a spade, with the teeth out, wrong side up."

"You mean a _rake_" laughed Prudy. "Well, dear, this is T."

When Dotty came to X, she declared it stood "for your thumb. Susy said
so, and it was in the music-book."

Now came an hour of triumph for the little pupil. Her mother was both
surprised and delighted to hear that her youngest daughter knew all her
letters.

"She can say them skipping about," said Prudy, "and can spell a few
little words, too."

"C, a, t, cat, d, o, g, Zip," laughed Dotty, showing her deepest
dimples, and frisking about the room.

"My dear little ones," said Mrs. Parlin, kissing both the children, "I
am really very much gratified. Both teacher and pupil have shown a great
deal of patience and perseverance."

These words from her beloved mother were most precious to Prudy. Dotty,
though she did not know what was meant by patience and perseverance,
presumed it was something fine, and laughed and danced in great glee.

Nothing remarkable happened during the visit to Florence Eastman, except
that Miss Dimple and Johnny were found running off the track of the
upper railroad just one second after the engine started. Everybody was
very much frightened when it was all safely over. But Dotty said,--

"O, my suz! Me an' Johnny has done that a hundred and a million
times--hasn't we, Johnny? We wait till the injin w'istles, then we run
on to the platform--don't we, Johnny?"

It came out after a while, that these reckless children had also been in
the habit of crossing pins on the track, to make "scissors," the weight
of the cars pressing the two pins into a solid _x_.

"I still tremble," said Mrs. Eastman, with white lips. "This Alice
Parlin is the most daring little creature I ever saw, more harum-scarum
than ever Susy was."

Prudy was Mrs. Eastman's pet. "Prudy," she said, "was a natural lady:
the other two were romps."

The next Monday Mrs. Parlin and the three children started for
Willow-brook. Dotty wished to take her sweet Pusheen and her darling
Zip; but it was decided that Pusheen must stay at home, and help keep
house.

"Be a good kitty," said her little mistress, embracing her, "and eat all
the mice in the mouse-chamber, 'fore they grow up _rats_!"

But Zip was allowed to go to Willow-brook; and Dotty watched him all the
way, scarcely allowing him to stir from the seat beside her.

"No," said she, holding him firmly by both ears; "Dotty'd be glad to let
you get down, but she doesn't think it's best. You is only a doggie, and
you'd get runned over and die. So now, Zippy, you'll have to give up,
and it's no use to bark."

But Zip, having the spirit of a dog, _would_ bark.

The whole party reached Willow-brook in safety, and had a joyful
welcome.

"Prudy, my aunt Louise is the handsomest lady there is in this world,"
said Dotty, privately.

"O, Dotty, how can you think so," exclaimed Prudy, "when there's only
one woman can be THAT!"

"Who's _she_?"

"Mother, _of course_!"

When Dotty was called to supper, she was found beside Pincher's green
grave, telling her "brother Zip" the story of that dog's death, and
trying to impress upon his mind the importance of keeping his paws out
of fox-traps.

It was delightful to be at grandma Parlin's once more. The summer-house,
the seat in the tree, and the swing, were all in their old places, and
had been waiting a whole year for the children. A few things had been
added: a hennery,--called by Dotty "a henpeckery"--and a graceful white
boat, named the Water-Kelpie. This boat was kept chained to a stake on
the bank, and no one could have a sail in it without first obtaining the
key, which hung over the bird-cage, in the back parlor.

Susy was charmed with the boat. It was lighter and nicer than the old
canoe, which had so long been used by the family. She and Lonnie Adams,
her aunt Martha's nephew, took daily lessons in rowing; but Susy, who
had for years been accustomed to the water, knew how to manage a boat
far better than did Master Lonnie. The boy strained every nerve, to very
little purpose, while Susy would lightly dip in the paddle, and turn it
with perfect ease.

"I don't care," said Lonnie; "guess you can't drive a nail any better
than I can, Susy Parlin, and I can row her some, anyhow. Now, Abner,
can't I row her?"

"Yes, my boy, I think I've heard you _roar_," replied Abner, with a
provoking smile.

"Well, can't I row her this way?"

"Middlin' well," returned Abner, cautiously; "but little Sue, here, is
the water-man for me."

Susy's cheeks glowed, and there was a proud flash in her eyes as they
met Lonnie's. At that moment she felt equal to the task of steering a
ship across the Atlantic Ocean.

Not long after this praise from Abner, aunt Martha said that she and
Master Lonnie were going over the river, after some wild-flower roots,
and would be glad to have the boat sent for them at five o'clock.

"Mayn't I be the one to go?" asked Susy.

"If you like," replied the grandmother; "that is, if Abner is willing."

Susy knew perfectly well that her grandmother had no idea of allowing
her to go alone; but it so happened, when she reached the river-bank
with the boat-key, that Abner was nowhere to be seen.

"Seems to me," thought Susy, "Abner is generally somewhere else."

"Where you goin', all alone, 'thout me?" cried Dotty Dimple, from the
top of the bank.

"You here? What did you come for?" said Susy.

For answer, Dotty took a pair of rubber overshoes out of Zip's mouth.

"Grandma says to put 'em right on, or you'll catch the hookin' cough;
the boat's wet."

"There, now," said Susy, putting on the rubbers, "I've forgot the basket
for those Jack-in-the-pulpit roots. Didn't grandma send it up?"

"No, she sended up _me_," replied Dotty; adding, quickly, "and I'm goin'
where you go, you know; and if you don't go anywhere, I'm goin' there,
too."

"That's just the way it is with you, Dotty Dimple; always coming when I
don't expect you."

"Prudy coaxed me to," said Dotty, with one of her sweetest smiles and
deepest dimples.

"Coaxed you?"

"Well," faltered Dotty, "she wanted to come her own self. She said she
wished I'd stay to home,--so, _of course_ I camed!"

"I'll tell you how it is," said Susy, thoughtfully. "That queer old
Abner's nowhere to be seen. I suppose he's in the cornfield, or the
meadow, or the barn. It's after five; and what will aunt Martha think? I
could row across the river well enough by myself, if you'd only run
home; you're _such_ a bother!"

"O, my darlin' sister Susy! I won't do nothin' but just sit still. Who's
your precious comfort?"

"Well, I don't know but I'll take you, then. Come, little Miss Trouble,
jump into the boat."

So Dotty Dimple, being what Mr. Allen had called a "child-queen," had
her own way, as usual.

"Why, where's the paddles?" said Susy. "The men must have hid them.
Dear me, I can't stop to hunt; and here it is five o'clock long ago! O,
I'll take this good smooth shingle, I declare! I guess it washed ashore
on purpose; it's almost equal to a paddle.--Now we'll go, all so nice,"
continued Susy, fearlessly dipping the chance-found shingle into the
water.

"O, my suz," said Dotty, clapping her hands, which had any amount of
dimples on the backs; "we're goin'!"

"Of course we're going!" said Susy, proudly. "What did you expect? I can
do five times as well with a shingle as Lonnie can with a paddle. What
do you suppose aunt Martha'll say? 'Bravo! those are smart children, to
be rowing all alone, by themselves'!"

"O, Susy, what a hubble-bubble we make in the water! Look at the bubbles
winkin' their eyes! See those pretty wrinkles, all puckered up in the
water!"

"I see them," said Susy, steadily plying her shingle; "but why don't you
sit still? You'll tip us both over, as sure as this world; and if we get
drowned I guess grandma'll scold! I shall be the one to have all the
blame."

"O, dear," said Dotty, reeling about from side to side, "the boat's
dizzy! My head's goin' to tip into the water. But don't you cry, Susy;
you catch hold of me, and I shan't go!"

Susy was suddenly seized with mortal terror.

"Dotty Parlin, I'll never take you anywhere again, as long as I live!
You sit as still as ever you can, and fold your hands; fold them both!"

Dotty obeyed at once, and sat up quite straight, looking very sweet, and
at the same time slightly acid, like a stick of lemon-candy. The Water
Kelpie, now that Dotty was quiet, floated on, safely and surely, towards
the opposite shore.

It was a pretty picture--the white boat, the graceful children, and the
still, blue water. Susy's fair arms were bared to the elbows, and her
face was deeply flushed. Dotty's beautiful eyes danced, but she herself
was motionless and demure.

When they landed, Susy called aloud for her aunt Martha to come and
secure the boat. Her voice echoed from afar, waking "the sleep of the
hills," but no aunt Martha appeared. The children clambered out at last,
and Susy chained the boat to a stick, which she drove into the sand. But
the sand was light, and the boat was heavy, and the current strong; so
before the children had walked a dozen rods, the Water-Kelpie was
floating down stream of its own free will.

Thus it happened that although aunt Martha was certainly surprised, she
did not seem very much pleased. She did not say, "Bravo! my two nieces
are smart children, to be rowing all alone by themselves." Nothing of
the sort. She reproved Susy for her rash conduct, and sent her and
Lonnie around two miles, by the bridge, to ask Abner to come for them
with the canoe.

Lonnie was very much comforted when he saw that Susy received no praise.

"I can row her myself," said he; "but I wouldn't put Dotty in, and most
drown her, and dab along with that shingle."

The runaway Water-Kelpie was caught a little way below the bridge, and
Abner slyly laid by the dripping shingle, and afterwards showed it to
everybody, as a proof that "our Sue was an amazin' smart little water
man."

This famous boat-ride only had the effect to make Dotty Dimple more
fearless than ever; but her next adventure on the water proved somewhat
serious.



CHAPTER IX.

BROTHER ZIP.


There was to be a remarkable supper at grandma Parlin's, in honor of
Colonel Augustus Allen, who was expected in the cars. There had been a
grand excursion to welcome the soldiers, and the stage would probably be
very late. Susy and Prudy had the promise of sitting up till it got in,
if Dotty Dimple was only willing. But Dotty said,--

"O, no; you better go to bed when I go, Prudy, or you'll hear somebody
scream."

"Let's see," said Prudy. "I've thought of something nice. Wouldn't you
like to go to aunt Martha's, and stay all the afternoon and all night?"

Dotty gave a little purr, like a happy kitten.

"O, yes, if they'll let me drink choclid out o' that silver mug."

"But who'll go with you?" said Prudy. "There, I know--Abby Grant! I'll
go ask mother."

Prudy thought that she herself could not possibly be spared just now to
walk as far as aunt Martha's.

Abby Grant, who was supposed to be a good child, was very glad to take
charge of Dotty, and called for her at two o'clock.

Aunt Louise was in the kitchen, whipping cream. "O, my suz," said
Dotty, with shining eyes; "mayn't I taste o' those bubbles 'fore I go?"

Aunt Louise poured the foaming cream over some jellies, which stood in
glasses.

"You shall have some to-morrow," said she, pausing to kiss Dotty, her
favorite niece. Then she led the two little girls into the dining-room,
where the long table was already spread for Company. Dotty could hardly
keep her hands off the nice things.

"There," said aunt Louise, giving each of the children an orange, "now
you may go. Abby, be sure to take good care of Dotty. Don't trust her
out of your sight one minute.--Hark! there's the door-bell. You may go
out of the house by the back-door."

Then Miss Louise hastened from the dining-room, without looking back to
see whether the children obeyed her or not. Dotty was, in general,
prompt to do as she was bidden by older people; but just now both the
children found it hard to leave that tempting table. They dared not
taste the dainties, but Abby thought it could surely do no harm just to
touch them. But when they had gone as far as that, Abby, who was a sly,
half-taught child, grew bolder, and a sudden impulse seized her to
pocket a few sweetmeats, if she could only do so without being seen by
Dotty's keen eyes.

"Come, Dotty Parling," said she, "you just go ask somebody to brush your
hair; it's all over your head."

Dotty sighed as she cast a last glance at the table, and then, without a
word, went up stairs, unwilling to be seen by aunt Martha with her "hair
all over her head."

Then Abby's heart beat fast. She heard voices in the parlor, and knew
that at any moment some one might enter the dining-room, and discover
her. So making a hasty choice of two large pieces of jelly-cake, and
half a dozen tarts, she swept out of the room just in time to escape
meeting grandma Parlin.

Her pocket was stuffed quite full, and one end of a slice of cake peeped
out, though she tried her best to press it down. But Abby had a hope
that no one would notice it through her white apron.

As Dotty's hair was now in fine order, the two children set out on their
walk. They had gone but a few steps when Zip came trotting along, with
all speed, looking up in their faces as if to say, "What have I done,
that I can't go too?"

"Queer what made _him_ want to come," said Abby, tartly.

"He loves his little sister," said Dotty, stroking his nose. "He shall
go, he shall; he's a darling."

The dog kept beside the children, and every now and then Abby secretly
punched him with a stick, while Dotty was patting his head, and chatting
with him.

It was a long way to aunt Martha's, and Abby, besides feeling guilty,
and ashamed of herself, was also very anxious to eat the goodies which
made such a bunch in her pocket. Zip seemed to know there was cake
somewhere, and sniffed about in a way which made her rather nervous.

"Here, let's creep under this fence," said she; "what's the use to go
'round by the road? It's a great deal nearer to your aunt's house
through the field."

"There, child," cried she, when they were on the other side of the
fence, "now I want to go behind this clump of trees, to--to find a book
I left here yesterday: but you mustn't come, Dotty."

"What for can't I? Yes, I shall, Abby Grant; you shame yourself! I'm
goin' every single where you go; so, now, you'll have to give up!"

"Dot Parling, you go right along with your doggie! I'll come in a
minute."

Dotty thought a girl of Abby's age had no right to command her. She
stamped her little foot, but it made no sound in the soft grass.

"I isn't a-goin' to go long with my doggie, Abby Grant; 'cause--so
there!"

"But you must. You know, Dot Parling," said Abby, more gently, "your
grandma expects you to do just what I tell you. I'm afraid, dear, you
won't get any of that bubbled cream if you don't mind, nor any tarts."

The child queen began to think it was wisest to obey; but she did so
with a very ill grace.

"Well, Abby Grant, I will go long with my doggie; but it's cause I'm
tired, and don't want to help you find your old book--so, there!"

"That's right. Dotty. Start quick--can't you?"

Dotty took "high ground" at once. She looked Abby full in the face.

"Do you like _yourself_, Abby Grant?"

"I don' know. Yes: why?"

"'Cause I shouldn't think you would! I 'spise you!"

Having freed her mind, Dotty walked on with Zip, only turning back once,
to exclaim,--

"There, Abby, now you'll have to give up!"

Abby, naughty girl, ate her cake in secret, staining her white apron
with the jelly, while little Miss Dimple trudged on, thinking it very
strange Abby should be so long finding that book.

Perhaps for the reason that she was rather out of sorts, and thinking
about Abby rather than about the road, she missed her way, and soon
found herself in a narrow lane she had never seen before.

Zip looked rather uneasy, but followed close by her side. Dotty walked
on and on, till the track had faded quite away. This was not the road to
aunt Martha's. Why didn't Abby come?

Dotty, too proud to cry, too angry to look back, wandered till she came
to the edge of the Parlin woods. Here was a little creek, tumbling over
some small gray rocks; the same "creek" where Horace had sometimes gone
fishing.

"True as you live," said Dotty to herself, "here's a teenty-tonty
river."

There was no way of crossing the creek, and the child felt as if she had
come to the very end of the world. Her courage began to fail.

"Dotty Dimple," said she, stamping her foot, "don't you cry! If you do
cry, Dotty Dimple, I'll shut you up in the closet."

But, in spite of these brave words, the unhappy child felt two or three
tears raining down her cheeks. She now seated herself on the grass, and
screamed for Abby.

"When she comes," thought Dotty, "I'll tell her she's 'shamed herself!"

At first it seemed as if Abby were answering her; but the sound proved
to be only the echo of Dotty's own voice. O, she might scream all the
afternoon, and Abby wouldn't try to hear! O, dear; before anybody would
come, a bear, or a wolf, or a whale might rush right out of the woods
and eat her up! Then how Abby would cry! Abby's mother would whip her
with a big stick, and say, "there, now; what made you go behind the
trees, and let that little Parlin girl lose herself, and get ate up! I
don't think you're very polite, you naughty girl!"--O, how everybody
would cry!

But what was that little funny thing on the water? Forgetting her sudden
fear of bears and whales, a fear which Abby herself had put into her
little head, Dotty gazed at the "funny thing." Could it be a little
truly sailboat? Yes, it certainly was. How it got into the creek Dotty
never stopped to think; the question was, how could she get it out?

She blew it with her breath, but it only floated farther away. She
waited, hoping it would turn about, and come towards her. She threw
sticks at it, but in vain. The boys, who had set it sailing had gone
into the woods for raspberries, would have laughed to see her efforts.
Presently she took off her hat, held it by one string, and flung it in,
as if it had been a fishing-net. It was all of no use; the boat acted as
if it were alive, and did not choose to be caught.

Dotty had forgotten all about Abby and the visit to aunt Martha's.

"I know what I'll do," thought she, winking very fast. "I'll catch that
boat; I will!"

When Dotty had made up her mind, she never stopped for trifles. She drew
off her stockings and gaiters, and stepped into the creek. Boys waded in
the water, why couldn't she? There was nothing to bite her! She wasn't
afraid!

She had supposed the water would only cover her feet, but she found
herself sadly mistaken. The creek was remarkably deep, and, more than
that, the bottom was so soft that she sank down, down, at every step.

Poor child! It was hard enough to get lost; it was harder still to be
drowned!

"O, papa!" she screamed; "O, mamma! O, Prudy! can't you come? I don't
want to drown, and not have _you_ drown, Prudy. Can't you come, somebody
come!"

But there were no human ears near enough to hear her piteous cries. She
must have drowned--there is no doubt of it--if Zip had not been close at
hand. The moment he saw her sinking, he gave a low bark and swam after
her.

Before he could reach the unfortunate child the water was up to her
waist, and she was wringing her little helpless hands, and saying, "Now
I lay me down to sleep!"

Faithful old Zip lost not a moment, but seized her skirts and dragged
her to the bank, laying her on the ground as tenderly as her own mother
could have done.

Now you see why it is that God had put it into Zip's loving heart to
"want to come with his little sister."

Abner, who arrived a few minutes later, in order to cut some young
birches for his fence, said,--

"Wasn't it lucky, that that dog _happened_ to be right on the spot? And
lucky, too, that I _happened_ along in the nick of time, to carry the
poor little girl home in my arms?"

But the truth is, in this world which our Heavenly Father watches over,
nothing ever comes by chance, and events do not _happen_.

Abby shed many bitter tears, but they were not so much tears of sorrow
for her sin, as of shame for being found out. Such weeping does no good.
Indeed I am afraid it only hardened Abby's heart.

But the day ended gloriously for Dotty. She was handed about to be
kissed by everybody, and was, after all, allowed to sit up till nine
o'clock, and actually ate a "bubbled cream," sitting as close as she
could beside Colonel Allen's elbow.



CHAPTER X.

DR. PRUDY.


The next day Dotty had a severe cold, and her mother, fearing the croup,
did not allow her to go out of doors. This was hard for the child. She
felt very restless, because she had to give up "housekeeping" with
Prudy, a very fascinating game, which could only be played on the
river-bank. She looked out of the kitchen window, and saw some
carpenters shingling the barn.

"O, hum!" she murmured, "I wish grandpa wouldn't mend his barn!"

A white mist was creeping slowly over the river and the distant hills.

"There, now," she sighed, "I wish the earth wouldn't _breave_ so hard!"

Then she went into the parlor, like a little gray cloud.

"O, dear; I don't like this house, 'cause it's got a top to it! Wish I
was somewhere else!"

"Poor child," said Colonel Allen, who was seated on the sofa, looking
out of the bay-window upon the garden; "do you love home better than
this beautiful spot?"

"No," replied the little one, shaking her head. "I don't love my home,
'cause I live there; I don't love nothin'. O, hum, suz!"

Then Dotty wandered into the nursery, and stood all alone, leaning
against the lounge.

"I shouldn't think my mother'd let me be so cross," mused she.

She did not cry, for she had learned very young that crying is of no
use; and it may be, too, that she had only a small fountain of tears
back of her eyes. Prudy, entering the nursery in eager haste, for her
"bean-bags," was touched at sight of her sister's sad face.

"There, now, I'll put back my bean-bags, and try to make her happy,"
said Prudy to herself. "That will be following the Golden Rule; for it's
doing unto Dotty as I want Susy to do unto me, when _I'm_ sick."

She went quietly up to Dotty, who still stood leaning gloomily against
the lounge. The child turned around with a sudden smile. It cheered her
to see Prudy's sweet face, which was always sunny with a halo of happy
thoughts.

"Are you real sick, though, Dotty Dimple?"

"Yes, I are," replied Dotty, well pleased to be asked such a question.
"I got 'most drowned, you know. O, I wish you'd stayed out in the rain
the other day, and got cold; then you'd have been sick, too."

Prudy smiled, for she knew that her little sister really had no such
unkind wish at heart. She was only trying, with her limited stock of
words, to say that she longed to have a little sympathy. It was not
often that Dotty was willing to be pitied.

"See here, Prudy darling, don't you want a piece of my cough-candy? It's
good! You may bite clear down to there, where I've scratched with a
pin."

"No, thank you, dear, I don't care a bit for it."

Dotty's face beamed with joyous dimples. It was so pleasant to be
generous, and at the same time keep the candy! In her short life Dotty
Dimple had not quite learned that "the half is better than the whole."

"Now," said Prudy, after thinking a while, "suppose we play that you're
sick,--as you are, you know,--and I'm the doctor."

Dotty gave a little scream of delight.

"You may see my tongue," said she, running to the looking-glass; "it's
real rusty. Can't you scrape it with a knife, Brady?"

"You must say _doctor_, when you speak to me. Now, my dear patient, it's
best for you to lie on the lounge, and take medicine in the chest. Poor
young lady, we shall be so glad when you get your health all well!--Do
you want me to extricate a tooth? Have you any headache, miss?"

Prudy's voice was low and sympathetic. "Yes, Dr. Prudy," replied the
patient, with a stifled groan; "I've truly got the ache in my head; it
pricks through my hair." "I'll tell you the cause of that, my dear
patient; I suspect your pillow's made of pin-feathers. Let me feel your
pulse on the back of your hand--your wrist, I mean. Terrible," moaned
the young doctor, gazing mournfully at the ceiling; "it's stopped
beating. Can't expect your life now. O, no!"

"Now you must put your hands behind you, and walk across the room,"
suggested Dotty; "that's the way."

"If my memory preserves me right," continued the young doctor, pacing
the floor, "you've got the--ahem!--pluribus unum." Here Dr. Prudy ran
her fingers through her hair. "But it goes light this year--with care,
ma'am, you know. So I'll go and stir you up some pills in my marble
mortar."

"O, dear me, doctor; don't you now! Bring me some lemonade and nuts, for
I'm drefful sick; but don't bring me no pills nor molters!"

"Poh, only brown bread, Dotty! what do you suppose?"

Upon the whole, Miss Dimple, being petted to her heart's content, had
quite a comfortable day of it.

In the evening she asked,--

"Mightn't I eat supper, all alone, in the parlor? Once, when I had the
sores all wrinkled out on my face, on my chin and round my eyes, all
round, _then_ I ate in the parlor."

Prudy, with her grandmother's consent, carried in a pretty salver, on
which were a little Wedgewood teapot with hot water, a tiny sugar-bowl
and creamer, a plate, and cup and saucer, some slices of toast, and a
glass of jelly.

"Thank you a whole heart-full," said Dotty, springing off the sofa;
"that little waiter and so forth is real big enough for me."

Dotty thought "and so forth" meant "cups and saucers." She had heard
Norah tell Prudy, when she wished to set the table, that she might put
on "the knives and forks, and so forth," and Dotty had noticed that it
was always cups and saucers after the knives and forks.

"But, Dr. Prudy, there's one thing you've forgot," said the young
patient; "a little tea-bell, so I can tingle it, and call you in."

The bell was brought, and while the rest of the family ate in the
dining-room, Dotty took her "white tea" in the parlor, in queenly state.

Prudy had eaten half a thin slice of toast, when the long and sharp
ringing of the tea-bell summoned her into the parlor.

"And what would you like, Miss Dimple?" said the remarkably obliging
doctor, with a low bow.

"More jelly," replied the patient, holding up the empty glass, "and some
squince marmalade."

After obeying this request, Prudy went back to her supper, and had just
finished her slice of bread, when the bell struck again.

This time there was "that old spin-wheel in the chimney again,"--so the
patient said,--and a book in the what-not wrong side up, looking "as if
it would choke."

The book was set right; but the noise in the chimney was too much for
the doctor's skill, since neither she nor any one else knew its cause.

Next sounded a furious peal of the bell, and a series of loud screams
from the little sick girl. She had been dreadfully stung by a bee, which
had buzzed its way out from the fireboard. Strange to tell, there was a
swarm of bees in the chimney, instead of "a spin-wheel."

Abner at once mounted to the roof of the house, and peeped into the
chimney. A nice, cosy beehive it made, filled to the throat with waxen
cells.

Dotty bore her sufferings sweetly, being sustained by the promise of a
large box of honey, by and by.

"Bees have a 'sweet, sweet home,' I think," said Susy.

"So do ants when they get in the sugar-box," rejoined Prudy.

As night approached, Dotty showed symptoms of croup.

"I think," said her grandmother, "it will be the safest way to give her
some castor-oil and molasses; that is what her father used to take when
he was a little boy."

Dotty pouted. "Dirty, slippy castor-oil," she cried, shaking her
elbows--a thing she seldom did now. "I shan't let it go in my throat.
I'll bite my teeth togedder tight."

"Alice," said her grandmother, "is that the proper way to speak to me?"

The child's face cleared in a moment.

"I wasn't a-speakin' to you, grandma," said she, sweetly; "I was a
talkin' to the dust-pan."

"O, Dotty Parlin!" cried Prudy, much distressed. "Nobody ever talked to
the dust-pan, in all the days of their lives! I always thought you were
a good girl, Dotty, but now I am afraid you tell false fibs!"

Dotty clung about Prudy like a sweet pea, and peeped into her eyes with
a pleading look.

"Say, do you love me, Prudy? For I'm goin' to let the oil slip right
down my throat, just as my papa did when _he_ was a little boy."

After swallowing the oil and molasses, Dotty grew very affectionate, and
kissed everybody twice, all around. Then she said her prayers, and went
to bed.

"Mamma," said she, "now smoove me up under my chin, please." She loved
to have the sheet laid straight. "Do you s'pose God will take care o' me
to-night, mamma?"

"Certainly, my darling; you may be very sure He will. Your heavenly
Father never sleeps. He watches over you always."

"Now, truly, does he?" said the child, pressing her flushed cheek
against the pillow. "Does he see me in my chubby bed, when the moon's
all dark?

"O, my suz!" cried she, suddenly, raising her head; "God can take care
o' me most always, you know, but I'm drefful afraid something will catch
me while he's 'tending to _another_ man!"

Mrs. Parlin explained to her little daughter, as well as she could, the
omnipresence and infinite goodness of God; and while she was still
talking, in low, soothing tones, the little one fell asleep.

But about midnight there was a sudden alarm. Lights glanced here and
there over the house, and Susy and Prudy were wakened from a deep sleep
by the sound of voices. Dotty had a violent attack of croup.

"Put me out doors," gasped the poor little sufferer, when she could
speak at all. "I can't breave if the window's _ever_ so up. Get me
nearer to the moon. Then I can breave!"

"It's so dreadful!" sobbed Susy. "I feel real sure she's going to die
this time."

"O, no, I don't think she will," said Prudy, shaking the tears off her
eyelashes. "God took care of me when I had the lameness, and He'll take
care of her. He loves her as much as he loves me."

"Now just listen to me," returned Susy, pacing the floor of the green
chamber, in her night-dress, while Prudy sat on the edge of the bed.
"God loves us all; but that's no sign we can't die! Little children, no
older than Dotty, have their breath snatched right away, and are covered
up in the ground, with gravestones at their heads and feet. O, you
haven't the least idea, Prudy. You never think anything can happen!"

"Well, things don't happen very often, you know, Susy."

"There, Prudy Parlin, don't talk so! I feel just as if Dotty was going
to die this very night."

"O, I don't think she will, Susy. But she's God's little girl, and if He
wants her up in heaven He has a right to take her. He never'll take her,
though, unless it's best, now certainly."

"Sit still, Prudy, just as you are. The moon is shining into the window,
on your tears, and it seems as if I could almost see a rainbow in your
eyes!--There, it's gone now. What makes you talk so queer about God,
Prudy? as if you knew a great deal more than I do?"

"I don't know half as much as you do," replied Prudy; "but I used to lie
and think about the Saviour when I had the lameness.--Hark! Is that
Dotty laughing? Let's go in and see if she isn't 'most well."

The child was indeed better; but for the next three nights she suffered
from severe attacks of the croup. Her sisters had not known how they
loved her till she showed her frail side, and they saw how slender was
the thread which bound her to earth. When she was strong, and roguish,
and wilful, they forgot that she was only a tender flower after all, and
might be nipped from the stem any time.

When she was well again, Prudy said to her mother, in confidence, "It
didn't kill her, the croup didn't, but it might have killed her; and I'm
going to love her all the time as if she was really dead, and gone to
heaven."



CHAPTER XI.

BUYING A BROTHER.


"One, two, buckle my slipper! no, my gaiters," repeated Miss Dimple, as
Prudy laced her boots. "I wish I was a horse, then my shoes would be
nailed on, and be done with it."

"I'm so glad," said Prudy, putting on her hat, "that we can go to
housekeeping again."

They had built a shingle palace on the bank of the river. It was as
white as chalk could make it, and glared like a snowdrift out of a clump
of evergreens which were no taller than dandelions.

"Our house is shaded so much," said Prudy, "that it makes me think of a
lady with hair over her eyes."

The entrance to the little palace was through a swinging door, of white
cloth, and from the roof fluttered a small flag. There were four rooms
in the house, all of them on the ground floor. The parlor was elegantly
furnished with a braided carpet, of striped grass, a piano, whose black
and white keys were put on with coal and chalk, not to mention other
articles of luxury. The table was spread with acorn-cups and poppy
teapots, the little housekeepers being advised not to make use of their
china dishes for this establishment.

There was a very black stove in the kitchen, but the most of the
cooking was done out of doors, farther down the bank, in ovens shaped
like swallows' nests. Here were baked delicious mud cakes, tempting
currant tarts, and dainty custards.

Nothing pleased Miss Dimple so well as to govern a household. She ruled
with a rod of iron.

In the midst of a caution to her servant-maid, Prudy, "not to burn her
biscuits as black as so'-leather," she was surprised to see her
twinkling off a tear.

"O, Prudy, I didn't mean to scold," said she, in the tenderest tones.

"Poh, as if I minded your make-believe, Dotty! I was only thinking about
aunt Madge--that's all."

"What has she done?" asked Dotty as she went on stamping her mud cake
with the head of a pin.

"It isn't done yet, Dotty; but it will be. She's going to be married."

Dotty dropped her mud-cake. "Why! who to? Abner?"

"O, dear, no! To Mr.--I mean Colonel--Augustus Allen. Didn't you ever
hear of that?"

"Was that why he sent his objections to mamma?" asked Dotty, in a low
voice.

"He sent his _respects_ to mother, if that's what you mean; and in the
same letter he said, 'Give oceans of love to Prudy.' As if it wasn't bad
enough to break my heart, without trying to drown me," murmured Prudy,
with dripping eyes.

"I don't see what you're crying for," broke in her little sister. "I
shall marry my papa one of these days. I should think you'd feel badder
about that. Who's _you_ goin' to marry, Prudy?"

"Nobody, Dotty, as long as I live! I shall stay at home with my mother,
and she'll be sitting in the rocking-chair, knitting, and father'll be
sitting by the window, reading the paper.--But there," added she, "aunt
Madge might be married three or four times, and I wouldn't care. It's
her going to New York that makes my heart ache so."

"Well, shell come back bimeby," said Dotty, soothingly.

"O," replied Prudy, with a wise smile; "seems to me when I was four
years old I knew a great deal more than you do, child! People that are
married stay away always."

"I wish they wouldn't," cried Dotty, beginning to feel alarmed. "I'll
ask Colonel 'Gustus to marry Abby Grant after she gets growed, and let
my auntie stay at home."

"The worst of it is," continued Prudy, glad of her sister's sympathy,
such as it was, "Colonel Allen is a lawyer."

"Well, isn't lawyers as good as white folks?"

"The only trouble with lawyers, Dotty, is, that they can't write so you
can read it. My father told me so. He said their writing was like
turkey's tracks. He said it looked as if a fly had got into the
inkstand, and crawled over the paper."

Dotty's face was the picture of distress.

"It's a drefful thing to grow up a nidiot," said she, drawing her mouth
down as she had seen Prudy do when beseeching her to learn the alphabet.
"Don't he know all the letters, skippin' about?"

Here aunt Louise's voice was heard, from the piazza. She asked if the
children would like to go with her and see Mrs. Gray's baby. After a
little washing and brushing they were ready.

"Auntie," said Dotty, as they walked along, "you've got my
porkmonnaie."

"Very true; so I have."

"How much money is in my porkmonnaie?"

"Two dollars and a half. Why?"

"'Cause I want to give it to Mr. Colonel Allen, to make him marry Abby
Grant when she gets growed. I 'spise her, and I want her to go to New
York. There's where the husbands and wives go."

Miss Louise laughed.

"Very well," said she; "you may give the money to 'Mr. Colonel,' and
I've no doubt you can persuade him to marry any one you please."

Dotty smiled with entire satisfaction, but Prudy looked inquiringly into
her auntie's face, not believing it possible that Colonel Allen would
really change his mind for two dollars and a half.

The children went wild over the sleeping baby, Philip Gray.

"He's a brother, isn't he?" said Dotty. "I wish he was mine. I haven't
any but Zip. I'd take my kitty out of the carriage, and put in this
brother, and give him all my sugar things."

"Well," said Dr. Gray, with a flicker of fun in his eyes, "the baby is
not of the least use to me, and if you like him, my dear--"

Dotty danced about the cradle.

"He's nicer than a squir'l catched in a cage. O, he is!"

"That's just as people may fancy," said Dr. Gray. "Now I think, for my
part, a squirrel would be less trouble, for he could get his own
living."

Dotty peeped into the doctor's face with her bright eyes, to make sure
he really liked squirrels better than babies.

"But," continued he, very gravely, "it may be his mother might object to
my giving him away. I don't know why it is, but she seems to value him
very highly. She would expect some money for him, I think. How much are
you willing to pay?"

Dotty reflected. She possessed several dollies, a new tea-set, a box of
picture-books, and a red morocco ball. But what would Dr. Gray care for
these, or her various other toys? All her money was contained in her
portemonnaie, the money which she had meant should put a stop to her
aunt Madge's dreadful marriage. Should she save her auntie, and give up
the baby? Or should she buy the baby, and leave her auntie to her fate?

The struggle in her mind was a severe one, but it did not last long.

"O," thought she, looking at the little sleeper in the cradle, "I'd
rather have him than aunt Madge; for he'll stay to our house, and sleep
in my crib."

"How now?" said Dr. Gray, pinching Dotty's cheek; "made up your mind?"

"Yes, sir," replied the child, with her finger in her mouth; "I'm goin'
to buy him. I mean, I'm goin' to if I can get him for two dollars and a
half."

"A generous sum," laughed the doctor. "Well said. Now, the next thing
is, to obtain his mother's consent."

This was very easily done, for Mrs. Gray, who was not strong, and had
only a young girl in the kitchen, declared that, dearly as she loved the
baby, she found him a deal of trouble.

Dotty's face was radiant; but Prudy, who understood that the whole
conversation was merely a playful one, looked down upon her younger
sister with a sage smile.

"Don't you think," whispered Dotty, clutching her auntie by the dress,
"don't you think we'd better be going?"

"Why, dear, are you tired of your brother so soon?"

"O, I want to get the carriage, you know, and the money to pay him for."

Miss Louise, who knew that her little niece was terribly in earnest, now
tried to divert her with pictures; but Dotty was not to be wheedled by
any such arts.

"I'll tell you what we'll do," said Dr. Gray; "we'll keep little Phil
for you till he's as tall as a pair of tongs."

Unfortunately there was a fireplace in the room, and Dotty's keen eyes
at once espied the tongs, leaning against a brass rester. As quick as a
thought she seized them, and laid them in the cradle beside the baby.
They were half an inch shorter than Phil--even the doctor was obliged
to confess it.

"Bravo! Miss Bright Eyes," said he, catching up Dotty, and whirling her
over his shoulder; "you have a shrewd little brain of your own. I see
you can be trusted to make your own bargains."

The baby had been for some moments nestling uneasily, and of course was
broad awake by this time, screaming lustily, as if to protest against
the inhuman proceeding of being bought and sold.

Dotty had just time to see that her "brother" had "nut-blue" eyes, when
she was hurried away by her aunt Louise.

For three days the expectant child was kept in suspense by mirthful Dr.
Gray, who pretended that he should bring the baby to her some time when
she did not expect it. She often rushed into the parlor, saying, "O, I
thought I heard somethin' cryin';" and almost cried herself because
there was no baby there. "I wish I could stop expecting my brother,"
said Dotty, sorrowfully, "for then he might come."

But, at last, after her young heart had throbbed again and again with
false hopes, she began to see that she had been cruelly deceived. Dr.
Gray did not mean, and never had meant, to sell his baby.

"He tells too many fibs," said Dotty, stamping her foot, and looking
very much flushed; "he cheated me, he did."

"Now, Susy, do you think it was right to cheat her so?" said Prudy,
sorry for Dotty's disappointment.

"I don't know," replied the older sister, hesitating. "Dr. Gray is a
real good man. I don't believe he meant to cheat. Father wears paper
collars sometimes, and makes believe they are linen; but then, you know,
_father_ wouldn't cheat! Dr. Gray was only joking. The trouble is, Dotty
is too little to understand jokes. Dr. Gray didn't mean to break his
word."

"Well, if he didn't break it, he _bent_ it," replied Prudy, positively.



CHAPTER XII.

A WEDDING.


"I shan't buy any more brothers as long as I live--now you see if I do,"
said Dotty Dimple, with quivering lips.

"Come here, little one, and sit on my knee," said Colonel Augustus
Allen. "Can't you think of something next as good as a baby brother? How
would you fancy a grown-up uncle!"

Dotty looked wonderingly into Colonel Allen's face.

"Who's got any to sell?" said she.

"Possibly the minister may have," said Colonel Allen, laughing. "You
wait till this evening, and very likely he may be here. Then you can go
up to him and say, 'Please, Mr. Hayden, will you sell me an uncle?'"

"But he'll cheat me--he will," said Dotty, shaking her finger.

"O, no, never fear. Just try him, and see. Here's a sealed envelope
which Susy may keep for you till night."

"And shan't I have to spend the money in my porkmonnaie?"

"Not a cent of it, chickie."

Something was going on which was called _a wedding_; though what a
wedding might be, Miss Dimple had no idea, having never attended one in
all her life. But it was something remarkable, no doubt, for the parlors
ware glowing with flowers, and everybody was in a flutter. The three
children, dressed in their very best, were allowed to sit up for the
whole evening, or, at any rate, as long as they pleased.

It was as lovely out of doors as "a Lapland night." The full moon and
the gay lamplight tried to outshine one another.

"Do look at that great moon dripping down the juniper tree," cried
Prudy, growing poetical as she gazed. "Let me tell you, Susy, when the
moon is young and little, it makes me think of a smile, and when it's a
grown-up, full moon, it makes me think of a laugh."

Just as Dotty was beginning to wonder whether she felt sleepy or not,
the door-bell rang; and after that it kept ringing every few minutes
for an hour. By that time the fragrant parlors were almost filled with
guests. Everybody had a few kind words for the children, and Prudy
listened and answered with timid blushes: but Dotty Dimple was, as
usual, very fearless, and perfectly at ease.

Presently Colonel Allen, and Miss Margaret, and Miss Louise entered the
room. Dotty had been wondering where they were.

"Now," whispered aunt Louise, "now's the time to ask Mr. Hayden for that
new uncle."

Dotty stepped briskly up to the minister.

"Here's a letter for you," said she, "and it says, 'Will you please
sell me an uncle, sir?'"

Mr. Hayden smiled, and asked the little maiden what sort of an uncle she
would like.

"A new one," she replied, bending her head one side, and peeping up in
his face like a tame canary, "and a soldier, too, if you've got any to
sell."

Mr. Hayden said he certainly had, and laughed when he spoke, though
Dotty could not imagine why. Dr. Gray took her up in his arms, and
declared he would like to carry her home in his pocket. Such an idea!
And Dr. Gray was the man who had cheated her! When he set her down again
she stood on her dignity, and carried her head like a queen.

She had hardly crossed the room, and taken her station beside Prudy,
when a hush fell upon the company. Dotty was inclined to think people
had paused in conversation to watch _her_. Colonel Allen and aunt Madge
were standing together, and Mr. Hayden in front of them. The guests were
looking at _them_, not at Miss Dotty Dimple!

Mr. Hayden began to talk very solemnly--almost like preaching. No one
else spoke; no one smiled. Before Dotty could ask what they were doing,
Mr. Hayden was praying; and after the prayer, which was so hearty and
simple that Dotty could almost understand it, the whole room was in
motion again. Everybody seemed suddenly bent on kissing aunt Madge,
though what that young lady had been doing which was better than usual
Dotty could not exactly make out. But this, she concluded, was in some
way connected with the entertainment called _a wedding_.

"Come, now, little lady," said Mr. Hayden, taking Dotty's hand, and
leading her up to Colonel Allen, "here is the uncle you have bought. He
is new, and a soldier too. So you see I have done my best for you."

"That?" said Dotty, pointing her index-finger at the bridegroom in
surprise. "I know _him_; he isn't _new_. He is Mr. Colonel. He isn't my
uncle a bit, sir."

"True, he was not, five minutes ago, Miss Dimple; but the few little
words you heard me say to him have made a wonderful change. He is now
your uncle Augustus, and your aunt Margaret is Mrs. Allen."

Dotty looked up bewildered. Her newly-married aunt was engaged in
talking to the guests; but Colonel Allen was gazing down upon his new
niece with an arch smile.

"The minister did not cheat you, you see?" said he. "He has really given
you what he promised."

"I didn't want you to marry my good auntie," was all Dotty's answer.

"Ah, my dear, that is very sad! I was not aware that you had any dislike
for me."

"O, I love you," exclaimed Dotty, "'cause you carry me pickaback; _but_
I wish you knew your letters skippin' about!"

The minister and the bridegroom smiled at this absurd little speech, and
it was repeated to everybody in the room. Prudy felt very guilty, and
blushed like a damask rose, for she knew where Dotty had caught the idea
of Colonel Allen's extreme ignorance.

"I am very sorry, little Miss Dimple, that you object to me," said the
new uncle; "but by and by you and I will take the big dictionary, and
you may point out the letters to me. I think you will find I know them
'skippin' about.' Is there anything else you have against me?"

"Yes, sir," replied the child, earnestly; "you're a lawyer--my father
says so. You wrote to him once."

"Did I? What did I write?"

"A letter."

"And where was the harm in that?"

"O, it looked like turkeys' tracks--he said it did. You wrote the letter
with a fly. You dipped him in the inkstand, and stuck him on a pin, and
wrote with him. My father says so."

"You surprise me, Dotty. I really don't remember it. Have you any other
reason for not wishing me to be your uncle?"

"I wanted you to marry somebody else."

"Indeed! You ought to have mentioned it before! What young lady had you
chosen for me, Miss Dimple?"

"Abby Grant, the little girl that went behind the tree and let me lose
myself. I'd as lief she'd go to New York as not. If you'd only waited
for her she'd have growed up."

By this time Mrs. Parlin, though somewhat amused by her little
daughter's sharp speeches, thought it best to put an end to them by
taking her away into a corner. She was too much inclined to pertness.

The evening was very delightful; but like everything else in this world
it could not last always. After the guests had departed, and before the
doors were closed or the lights put out, the three tired children
slowly wound their way up stairs.

"I'm glad it's over and done," said Prudy, resignedly. "I've cried just
all I'm going to."

"I only wish Grace Clifford had been here," murmured Susy, clutching
hold of the baluster.

"Well, I don't wish nothing so there," said Dotty Dimple, dreamily.

And this is the last word we are to hear from her. She is nearly asleep.
Let us bid her and her two older sisters a Good Night and Pleasant
Dreams.





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