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Title: Prudy Keeping House
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 "Prudy Keeping House" ***

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



Little Prudy's Flyaway Series.

PRUDY KEEPING HOUSE.

by

SOPHIE MAY.

Author of "Little Prudy Stories," "Dotty Dimple Stories," Etc.

Illustrated.



[Illustration: "O, WHAT A FASCINATING CREATURE!"]


[Illustration: LITTLE PRUDY'S FLYAWAY SERIES



"What is home without a mother?"



Boston 1891
Lee and Shepard Publishers
10 Milk Street next "The Old South Meeting House"
New York Chas. T. Dillingham
718 and 720 Broadway

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870,
by Lee And Shepard,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.



TO
MY YOUNG FRIEND,
_BESSIE BAKER._



CONTENTS.

I.    A QUEER IDEA
II.   PRIDE AND ORANGES
III.  BORROWED JEWELS
IV.   GOING TO HOUSEKEEPING
V.    MOTHER HUBBARD'S DINNER
VI.   PRUDY IN A NEW LIGHT
VII.  A FLY IN TRINITY CHURCH
VIII. DOTTY'S WINDPIPE
IX.   TWO LIVE CHILDREN
X.    "RIDING ON JACK FROST"
XI.   THE JEWEL CABINET
XII.  "FOLDED EYES"



PRUDY KEEPING HOUSE.

CHAPTER I.

A QUEER IDEA.


One of Mrs. Allen's bay windows stood open. Between the ivies,
tuberoses, and lilies, you caught a glimpse of gilded walls and rare
paintings. Better than all, you saw four young faces looking out at a
snow-storm; Dotty with eyes like living diamonds, Prudy fair and sweet,
Horace lordly and wise; and the little one "with dove's eyes" following
every motion of his head, as if she were a sunflower, and he the sun.

"Please shut the window, quick, Horace; the plants will freeze," said
Prudy, drawing in her powdered head.

"Things don't freeze in cloudy weather, Prue; but you children will
catch cold; so here goes."

"O, Hollis, don't those snow-specks look like little bits o' birdies,
athout any wings or any feathers, too?"

"Droll birds they would be," said Aunt Madge. "That reminds me of an old
riddle, children,--

    "'White bird featherless
    Flew out of Paradise,
    Lit on the castle wall;
    Came a knight breathless,
    Ate it up toothless,
    Rode away horseless.'"

"Why, auntie, the 'bird featherless' must have been the snow; but who
was the knight!"

"Who rides over the sky without any horse, Dotty, and melts snow by
shining on it?"

"O, the sun--the sun!"

"Hollis, I want to ask you sumpin. Does those snow-specks fly down out
o' heaven? Does the little angels see 'em?"

"No, Topknot; they only come from the clouds; they are nowhere near up
to the little angels."

"Not half so near as you are, Goldilocks," said Aunt Madge, brushing
back the child's soft hair.

"I hope you don't mean Fly's going to die," cried Dotty, in sudden
alarm, remembering how crossly she had spoken to the child two or three
times since they had been in New York.

"No, Dotty; I only mean that we are told, in the Bible, there are
'ministering spirits,' and we believe they watch over good little
children."

"O, my shole!" said Fly, folding her tiny hands, and raising her eyes to
the top of the window. "Nice, pretty little spirricks out there, only
but I can't see 'em."

"No, Miss Eyebright; not even you. Wait till you go where they live."

"Wisht I could go up there now, a-visiting; stay all night, and three
weeks and then--"

"Hush, Fly Clifford; you're the wickedest girl to talk," said Dotty. "I
shouldn't ever expect to go to heaven at all, if I said such things as
you do.--O, auntie, I am so sorry it storms! Maria and her mother won't
come--will they?"

Maria Brooks was a little blind girl with whom the family were just
making acquaintance. A few days before, when she was walking Broadway,
led by her "freckled doggie," Fly, lost on the street, had spied her,
and been attracted by the dog, and Maria had persuaded the child to go
home with her. Afterwards Mrs. Brooks had taken Fly back to Colonel
Allen's; and in this way Aunt Madge had learned about Maria's blindness,
and had offered to take her to a physician who could help her, if any
one could.

"Yes, Dotty; I presume they will come to-day, for Maria can hardly wait
to have the doctor look at her eyes."

"Of course they'll come," said Horace; "who ever heard of _brooks_
minding the weather? Rain water agrees with 'em."

"If you please, Mrs. Allen," said Nathaniel, appearing at the door,
"I--"

"O, they've come--have they, Nat?" asked Horace. Horace was already well
acquainted with the waiting man, and called him Nat, though he was a
very sober youth, with velvety hair, and a green neck-tie, as stiff as a
cactus.

Nat only replied by handing Mrs. Allen a letter, with a hesitating air,
as if he would much rather not do it.

"A despatch!" cried Mrs. Allen, turning rather pale.

Dotty Dimple and Flyaway crowded close to her, and overwhelmed her with
questions.

"O, what is it?" said one. "Who wroted it? And why didn't Hollis bring
the camphor bottle athout my asking?" said the other.

But the older children knew better than to speak just then. As soon as
Mrs. Allen could get her breath, she said,--

"Don't be frightened, dears. It is only a message from your Uncle
Augustus. He can't come home to-night, as we expected. He says, 'One of
my old attacks. Nothing serious. Can you come?'"

"O, is that all?" said Dotty, and ceased fanning her auntie with a
book-cover.

"O, is that all?" echoed Fly, and left off patting her cheek with a
pencil.

"But, children," said Horace, "don't you understand Uncle Augustus is
sick--wants auntie to go and take care of him?"

"Why, he can't have her."

"Indeed, Miss Dot, and why not?"

"She's got company, you know."

"There, little sister! I wouldn't think that of you? Poor Uncle
Augustus!"

"But he says he isn't serious," said Dotty, looking ashamed. "Auntie,
you don't think he's serious--do you?"

"No, dear; he's suffering very much, but I am not in the least alarmed.
He has had just such attacks as this ever since he came out of the army.
He is at a hotel in Trenton, New Jersey, and needs some one to wait upon
him, who knows just what to do. I am very sorry to go and leave my
company, Dotty, but--"

"O, auntie, you ought to go," cried Dotty.

"I dislike particularly not to be polite."

"O, auntie, you will be _'tic'ly_ polite," cried little Echo. "Please
let me go, too; I won't make no noise."

"How long do you think you'll have to stay, auntie?" said Prudy.

"I cannot tell, dear. These attacks are usually short, and I think quite
likely your uncle can come home to-morrow night; but he may not be able
till next day."

"How he'll feel if he can't be here to Christmas!" said Dotty; "and so
much greens and things in the windows!"

"Yes; and how we shall both feel to know our little friends are keeping
house by themselves!"

"Keeping house? O, may we keep house!" exclaimed Prudy, her eyes
suddenly brightening.

"Why, yes, my child; you may be the lady of the mansion, if that is what
you mean, and Horace the lord."

"But may I cook the dinners, and not ask Mrs. Fixfax? Because I really
do know a great deal, Aunt Madge. You'd be surprised! I can cook cake,
and pie, and biscuit, and three kinds of pudding. Please, this once, let
me manage things just as I want to."

"Just as _we_ want, you mean," said Dotty. "I can make gingerbread as
well as you can."

"And I shaked a table-cloth once," put in the youngest. "Only I shan't
be here if my auntie tookens me off."

"Yes, auntie," said Horace; "let the girls manage. They'll get up queer
messes, but 'twill be good fun."

"Do you believe it?" said auntie, thoughtfully. And there entered her
brain, at that moment, a singular scheme, which, to almost any other
woman, would have seemed absurd.

"Poor little souls? Their visit has been a failure. I've a great mind to
make an arrangement with Mrs. Fixfax to have them keep house in her
room." (Mrs. Fixfax was Mrs. Allen's housekeeper.) "The novelty will
amuse them. Of course they will waste flour and sugar, but not very
much, probably, and Mrs. Fixfax will be on the watch to see that they
don't get too hungry. It will tax her severely, but I can pay her for
her trouble. Really, the more I think of it, the more I'm inclined to
try it. They say I'm foolishly indulgent to children. Perhaps so; but I
do want them happy when they come to my house visiting."

"Have you thinked it all up?" asked Fly, peeping into her auntie's face;
"I won't 'sturb Uncle 'Gustus."

"Yes, chickie; I've thinked of talking to Mrs. Fixfax about letting you
all keep house; that is, if she won't consider it too much trouble."

"Trouble?" said Prudy; "why, I should think it would be a real help,
auntie. She has so much care, you know. And if I got the meals for us
four, the cook could rest, too."

Aunt Madge only smiled at this.

There were five servants in all: John, the coachman; Nat, the
waiting-man; Mrs. Fixfax, the housekeeper; Rachel Fixfax, the
chambermaid; and Patty Diggles, the cook. They were all remarkably
faithful, except pretty Rachel, the housekeeper's daughter, who was
rather gay and flighty, and had been something of a trial to her
mistress.

Aunt Maude went into the kitchen dressed for her journey. Mrs. Fixfax
had just returned from market, and was talking with the cook about the
dinner.

"That is a fine plump turkey," said Mrs. Allen; "I wish I were to help
eat it; but I came to tell you, Mrs. Fixfax, that Colonel Allen is sick,
and I must go to him at once, and leave you with the care of these
children."

The housekeeper, who was a fat, comfortable-looking woman, twice as
large as her mistress, said, "Indeed, mum!" hoped Colonel Allen "wasn't
sick to speak of," and shook her broad sides with laughter at the idea
of taking care of Fly.

"I'll give up going to church to-morrow, mum; for, light as the child
is, I can but feel as if you was sitting a ton's weight on my shoulders.
And I promise to keep her alive if the Lord's willing."

"You will hardly be obliged to give up your whole time Mrs. Fixfax. I
shall absolutely forbid her going out of the house, unless you, or some
other grown-up person, has charge of her. And really, with John,
Nathaniel, and Patty to keep guard, I don't see what mischief can befall
the little creature."

"We'll all do our best, mum," replied Mrs. Fixfax, heroically.

"I have perfect faith that you will. There is one more favor to ask.
These children have had a strange visit thus far, and if I go away and
leave them, I fear they will feel rather forlorn. Can you consent to let
the little girls 'keep house,' as they call it? That is, cook their own
meals, and set their own table?"

The cook, who was stuffing the turkey was so surprised that she spilled
a handful of sage over her apron. She would not have dared say the
words, but her thoughts ran like this: "Pretty doings, indeed! What does
Mrs. Allen mean by letting children come into the kitchen to bother
_me_?"

But Aunt Madge had not finished speaking. "Mrs. Fixfax, there is a
little old cooking-stove in the attic. Don't you remember you had it in
your room when you were nursing Rachel through that fever?"

"O, yes'm, so I had; and it shall be set right up there again, mum, if
you say so," said the obliging housekeeper; "and I'll carry up flour and
sugar, and what not, and move out my own things, so the children can
have the room pretty much to themselves."

"No need of that, Mrs. Fixfax," spoke up the cook, very pleasantly. "Let
'em come right into the kitchen. I should admire to see 'em enjoy
themselves."

Patty Diggles was a singular woman. She was always full of polite
speeches, just a minute too late.

"Thank you, Patty; but I think the children may feel more at home in
Mrs. Fixfax's room, with no one to watch them. And now, good bye. I hope
to come back to-morrow."

Mrs. Fixfax left the kitchen to find Nathaniel, and get him to help her
move the stove. As soon as the business was over, Nathaniel came into
the kitchen, and held up his sooty hands for Patty to see. She was
stabbing the turkey with a darning-needle.

"Some folks know how to feather their own nests," said she.

"Why, what have I done now, Patty?"

"Not you, but Mrs. Fixfax; she's going to wait and tend on those
children, and of course she'll get a splendid present for it. I should
admire to have the little dears round me in the kitchen; but she spoke
up, and took the words right out of my mouth."

The young man laughed in his sleeves, as he turned them back to wash his
hands. He took care not to express his mind, however. He had a few
fixed ideas. One was, that Mrs. Allen could do no wrong; and another
was, that he must never bandy words with Patty Diggles, because Mrs.
Allen had strictly forbidden it.



CHAPTER II.

PRIDE AND ORANGES.


While Mrs. Fixfax was making her room ready for the little housekeepers,
Aunt Madge went to her own chamber, and locked up her best dresses, and
most valuable possessions. The children watched her with some curiosity.

"Are you afraid of _burgalers_, auntie?" asked Dotty. "Because, if you
are, we shan't dare stay here."

"No, Dotty. I only thought, if you should play keep house, it might be
rather amusing to come in here, and dress up in some of my old finery.
You are welcome to whatever you can find, for I have locked up all that
is worth much."

"O, you darling auntie, won't that be splendid? Now we shan't feel half
so sorry about your going away."

"Sorry!" said Mrs. Allen, with a mischievous smile. "You are so
delighted you don't know what to do."

"There, auntie, that isn't fair," laughed Prudy, "when we've been trying
our best to cry. But somehow, how can we, when Uncle Augustus isn't very
sick, and you're coming right back? But what made me laugh just now, was
looking at that ruffled pillow-case, and thinking what a splendid cap it
would make for an old lady, tied down with black ribbon!"

"A pretty uproar we shall find when we get back, Miss Prudy; but I am
prepared for that. Only promise one thing--keep that baby in the house.
Flyaway, darling, will you remember not to go out of doors?"

"Yes, um, I'll 'member," replied Fly, winking her eyes solemnly. She had
expected, till the last minute, to go with her auntie.

"There is one thing I regret. If Mrs. Brooks and Maria come, they will
be very much disappointed. Tell them I'll try to attend to them the day
but one after Christmas. And now, good by, children. You know you're as
dear to me as the apple of my eye. Do take good care of yourselves, and
be good."

"The apple of your eye appears to be split in four quarters, auntie,"
remarked Horace; and on the strength of that joke, Mrs. Allen started on
her journey to Trenton.

"Now I suppose I'm to be the head of the family," said Prudy, with a
majestic air.

"We are the two heads, if you please, _mum_," said Horace, striking an
attitude.

"What am I, then?" asked Dotty.

"You? The foot. You must run and tend."

"H'm!"

"What am I?" asked Fly.

"Why, the little finger, pet. All you have to do is to curl up in one
corner."

"H'm!" responded Fly, looking at Dotty's solemn face, and trying to draw
her own down to exactly the same length.

"Pretty well, I should think," said Dotty, as soon as her injured
feelings would allow her to speak. "What have I done to be put down to
the bottom of the foot?"

"But you know, little sister, one woman has to manage a house; and I am
older than you."

"But you can't make a bit better gingerbread, Prudy Parlin! If I've got
to be _your_ hired girl, I won't play."

"So I wouldn't," said Horace. "I'd show 'em what I thought of such
actions."

Upon this there was a little whirlwind, which spun Dotty out of the room
before you could count two.

"They stand very high in their own self-esteem. He's a hero, she a
_hero-ess_! They think I like to be laughed at. She said it only took
one woman to manage a house; but she never made any fuss when _Horace_
spoke up, and wanted to help. It's _me_ that can't manage--just because
it's me. Who wants Horace for the head of the family? He don't know
more'n the head of a pin! When'd ever _he_ make ginger-bread?"

By this time Dotty had reached her own room in a tumult of rage.

"Prudy wouldn't 'low three heads to it, I s'pose? O, no; for then I
could be one! If I was a great boy, with a silver watch, that wasn't her
own sister, she'd let me! Yes, if I had five heads, she wouldn't have
said a word."

Dotty paced the floor restlessly, with her hands behind her.

"I shan't go back. Let 'em keep their old house. I can keep house my own
self up in this room--wish I'd brought Fly--she's too good for 'em. Wish
I hadn't come to New York to be imposed upon."

As Dotty was crossing and recrossing the room, her eye fell on one of
the illuminated cards on the wall, printed in red and gold, and wreathed
with delicate lilies of the valley--"God resisteth the proud, but giveth
grace to the humble."

The angry child stopped short.

"Who put that there? What did auntie mean? She meant _me_. Everybody
means me. I wouldn't have thought that of auntie."

Dotty turned away; but the words followed her across the room like the
eyes of a portrait.

"'God resisteth the proud.' Well, who said I was proud? People are so
queer! Always think it's me wants the best things. 'Giveth grace to the
humble.' There, I s'pose that means Prudy. She's just as humble! Never
wants to take the best parts when we play. O, no; Prudy's humble?
Prudy's a _hero-ess_!'"

But scold as she might, those burning red words were looking right down
into Dotty's soul. Though she shut her eyes, there they were still.
"'God resisteth the proud.' Am I proud?--Yes. Does God _resisteth_
me?--Yes, for the Bible can't lie. What _is_ resisteth? Something that
makes you feel bad, prob'ly. That's why I can't be happy. I won't be
proud another minute."

Dotty winked fast, set her teeth together, pinched her neck, and
swallowed.

"There, it's going down my throat like a pill,--its gone! Am I proud any
more? No--_for_ I really don't s'pose I can make gingerbread quite so
well as Prudy! I never made any but once, and then Norah took it out of
the oven and put in the ginger and molasses. No, I'm not proud. I don't
want to keep house. I shouldn't know how. It would be very much better
to go back and behave, for I can't stay here without being lonesome."

Dotty looked again at the red and gold text. "How different it seems to
me now I'm humble! People needn't be proud if they'd swallow it down
like a pill."

Dotty's reasoning was rather mixed; still it is worthy of notice, that
she was doing a remarkable thing for her, as she slowly walked back to
her auntie's room.

But all this while Prudy, too, had been suffering. She could never bear
to have her young sister angry, and, if it had not been for Horace,
would have gone to her with all sorts of promises--anything for peace.

"She's an outrageous little tyrant, Prue. She ought to have a sound
whipping."

"O, Horace," said Prudy, quite shocked; "she can't help her temper; she
has to be humored."

"Poh! that's just what ails her! Been humored to death."

"But, Horace, can't we change our play, somehow? It never will do for
me to try to order her about."

"Nonsense, Prue! But if you're going to be so fussy, you might keep
boarding-house, and have her for lady boarder."

Prudy's brow cleared.

"Just what'll suit her, Horace! A lady boarder is so fashionable,--like
the one they had at Mrs. Penny's,--always washing out laces. Now I'll go
tell Dotty."

Just then Miss Dimple appeared at the door with an uncertain smile.

"I--I--thought--"

"O, how kind of you to come back to us, my Lady Magnifico!" cried
Horace, bowing himself double. "Your landlady was afraid you objected to
your boarding-place."

"You see," said Prudy, eagerly, "we are making believe I keep boarders.
I've 'seen better days,' or something of that kind, as they say in
story-books--O, seems to me my husband died."

"Yes; I saw his death in the papers," said Dotty, briskly; "so you don't
want me for your hired girl--do you?"

Then she thought, "How glad I am I came back! It's always better to be
humble!" and added aloud, with a fine-lady drawl,--

"No, mim; it's not the style I've been subject to. I was _necessiated_
to leave you, mim, because I can't eat out of anything but gold
teaspoons."

"That sounds so like Mrs. Pitkin Smith!" said Prudy, laughing. "She used
to board at Mrs. Penny's, Horace. Come, let's go and dress in our
costumes. I'll be Mother Hubbard; and Horace, you go into uncle's
dressing-room and see what you can find."

[Illustration: Little Miss Fly.]



CHAPTER III.

BORROWED JEWELS.


"Of course I must take the best things," said Dotty; "for I'm to have
the best part."

So she chose a blue poplin dress, a pink sash, a scarlet bow, and a
green pin. The dress was half a yard too long, and she caught it up in
front with some artificial flowers she found in a box. Her head she
surmounted with an old chignon, which bobbed back and forth, as she
walked, like a pedler's pack.

"O, see, Prudy," said she; "here is auntie's jewel cabinet. What cunning
little sliding drawers!"

"Don't open it; don't touch it, Dotty. I saw auntie look it up in her
safe once; but I suppose she took it out again to get her watch."

"No, she didn't; here's her watch," said Dotty, swinging open one of the
little drawers.

"That's her other watch, Dotty. She says it needs mending."

"Then I'm going to wear it; it is just as good for a lady boarder, as a
whole one."

"Don't, Dotty; that's the watch Uncle Augustus gave her when they were
married, and she thinks the world of it."

"Well, he gave her the other one too--didn't he?"

"Yes; last Christmas: don't you know how she found it in an orange?"

"O, I remember. And she ought to think the most of that one, Prudy,
because she loves him better now than she did when he gave her this
one; ever so much better."

"It's of no consequence to you if she does, or if she doesn't, Dotty
Dimple. What right have you with that cabinet, I _should_ like to know?
Shut it right up this minute. O please do, Dotty."

Dotty's contrary spirit began to rise. She opened every one of the
drawers, and poured out the glittering jewels. Of course Fly was on the
spot in a twinkling; but Prudy caught her, and playfully pinned her
little arms down to her sides; so her prying fingers had no chance to do
mischief.

"Didn't auntie tell us to dress up in her old finery?" said Dotty,
thrusting the watch into her girdle.

"Old finery, Dotty Dimple!"

"And isn't this old? 'You're welcome to whatever you can find;' that
was just the words she said, Prudy Parlin."

"O, how many ways there are for people to do wrong if they want to!"
cried Prudy, in despair. "When you _do_ get started, Dotty--Will you, or
will you not, put up those things? If you don't, it's my duty to call
Horace, and--"

"_'Fore_ I'd be a tell-tale!" said Dotty, slipping off half a dozen
rings in haste. "There, I won't wear but just two--one on each thumb.
Who wants the old watch? Tick's all out of it. You don't know, Prudy,
how tight those rings fit. I could wear 'em on my forefinger, but I
shan't, you make such a fuss."

Prudy answered by a look of unutterable contempt.

"I suppose," said she, speaking with a vehemence quite unusual to
her--"I suppose you know auntie's jewels are worth more money than
father has in the world! If you lose one of them, I don't know who's
going to pay for it; that's all."

Dotty looked amazed, but answered coolly,--

"Of course I always knew that! Auntie has about as nice things as the
governor's wife."

She was sure she was very humble, since swallowing her pride like a
pill; but somehow she was determined not to take off those rings.

"Prudy needn't speak so sharp to me! I didn't care about wearing 'em in
the first place; but now I'll do it to show her what's the use to
preach!"

Prudy, having done her duty, said no more, but proceeded to look over
her auntie's wardrobe in search of a dress.

"I s'pose she thinks I'm the awfulest girl," mused Dotty, fluttering in
and out of the closet. "I s'pose she's thinking about that rag-bag last
summer--how Jennie Vance no business to take those three dollars out of
the saddle-bag pockets! Grandma said, 'You're welcome to all you can
find.' Well, but that didn't mean for Jennie to steal! Prudy needn't go
to thinking this is the same kind of a thing, for it isn't. I guess
stealing is pretty different from borrowing."

Dotty viewed herself in the glass with secret satisfaction. She really
looked like a Fourth of July fantastic; but we do not see ourselves as
others see us.

"She won't be the least help to me about the house," thought Prudy, with
a feeling of envy. "I shall have every single thing to do; and I declare
I don't know what to get for dinner."

She chose the worst looking wrapper her aunt's wardrobe afforded, and a
gingham apron with pockets. Quite good enough for a woman keeping house
without a servant. And as she had decided to call herself Mother
Hubbard, she made an ample cap, by folding a "pillow-sham," and putting
two of its ruffled edges around her face for a double border. Then, with
green spectacles at her nose, a bunch of keys at her waist, and a pair
of high-heeled slippers on her feet, she went to the door, and called
for Fly.

"Fly! Why, isn't she in there?" responded Horace, appearing on the
landing, "You didn't think I had her with me--did you?"

As Prudy wisely remarked, "How many ways there are for people to do
wrong if they want to!"

Seeing her betters disagree, little Fly had taken her turn at pouting.

"They don't say nuffin' 'bout fixin' _me_ up. Goin' to let me go to the
party in my old clo'es? Wisht auntie'd tookened me with her. Might
just's well not! Might a' worn soft slippers, and not 'sturbed Uncle
'Gustus!" Fly wafted herself to the top of the bureau, and gazed down on
the girls in stern displeasure. But she might as well have scowled at
empty air, for no notice was taken of her. Dotty was giving an extra
touch to her chignon, and Prudy trying on her cap. "Hark! What's that?"

It was the street-cry away off in the backyard--"Fine fresh oranges."

"Guess I'll go see what's the matter with that man," thought Miss Fly.
"Guess he's got hurted."

She slid down from the bureau, and stole softly out of the room
backward; but her feet made no more sound on the carpet than the fall of
a rose-leaf, and neither of the girls looked up.

"For course I shan't go ou'doors, 'cause I _solomon_ promised I
wouldn't," said she, pattering down the basement stairs.

The fact was, she had no idea any one would let her go. But it so
happened that thoughtless Rachel was the one who unlocked the basement
door, and it was an easy thing to slip out behind her.

"'Cause I spect she'll send me ri' back."

But when Rachel looked around, and saw the pretty child with her fair
hair blowing wild, she only laughed and went on gossiping with the
orange boy. She saw no harm in letting Fly hop about the pavement on one
foot sucking oranges, till she herself felt chilled by the keen wind;
then she drew the little girl into the house, and shut the door against
the snow-storm, saying,--

"Why, how happened you out here, little Miss Fly?"

"She sawed me the whole time; she ought to sended me in," thought Fly,
dancing up and down to shake off the snow. "Twasn't me was naughty;
'twas the rest the folks. They didn't pay no 'tention where I went to."

But though she pretended to herself that she had done no wrong, she did
not wish to be found out, and crept very softly up stairs, even as far
as the cupola, and looked out of the windows with all her might.

"Cold room up here, athout no fire," thought she, by and by, with a
shiver; and just then she heard the girls calling.

"Here I is," a voice replied, far up the height; and down ran Fly in a
trice.

"You haven't been 'up attic' all this time, Topknot?"

"Well, you ought to paid 'tention where I's going to," returned Fly,
sharply. "Nobody knows what I'll do next--auntie said there didn't!"

Horace laughed. "Come, fix her up, girls; she's my baby."

"I thought you were the 'Man in the Moon,'" said Mother Hubbard, "and he
isn't married."

"I've been a widower some time," sighed Horace, laying his hand on the
left pocket of his blue swallow-tail coat.

His costume was as droll as the girls'; for Uncle Augustus, who had
figured the week before in some private tableaux, had a full Brother
Jonathan suit.

"The man in the Moon, if you please, Mother Hubbard, come down to
inquire the way to Norridge."

"Ah! I'm afraid you've 'come down too soon.' Didn't you forget your
whiskers?"

Horace rubbed his upper lip thoughtfully. "Will you inform me, ma'am,
where I can get a boarding-place? I'm sort of turned round. Growing
place. Last time I was down, there were only a few houses here; now it's
pretty thick settled back of the meeting-house."

"I'll take you," said Mother Hubbard, putting her handkerchief to her
face. "How would my dog feel if he knew I had come to this!"

"Come to what, ma'am?"

"Why, to New York, to take boarders."

"Are you in _indigenous_ circumstances, madam? And have you seen the
first society? If so, I may possibly conclude to come too," said
Dotty, sweeping forward, and losing a hair-pin out of her chignon.

"O, what a fascinating creature!" said the Man in the Moon, making an
eye-glass of his thumb and forefinger, and gazing at the lady boarder.
"_Are_ you a widow, ma'am?"

"Well, they don't say nuffin' 'bout fixin' _me_ up! Guess I shan't go to
the party!" exclaimed Fly, opening and closing her eyes in token of
outraged dignity.

Prudy took her into auntie's room, and proceeded at once to robe her in
her own night-dress, with a lace night-cap, and a cologne-mat for a bib.

"Hollis didn't say for me to be such a _long_ baby," sniffled Fly,
trying in vain to clear her feet from the trailing skirt.

"This is your slip, dear. You're only a baby--musn't try to walk."

"Then my papa must carry me down stairs," said Fly, entering into the
spirit of the play. "You tell him so--I can't tell him, for I can't
talk. _Argoo-goo._ My teeth haven't camed."

"If you please, Master Clifford," said Nathaniel, appearing at the head
of the stairs. Then he stopped short with surprise, hardly knowing the
children in their strange attire; but being too dignified to laugh
aloud, added, with a grim smile,--

"The woman that brought Miss Fly home the other day is down in the
dining-room, and says,'Can she see one of the family?'"

"A little girl with her, Nat?"

"Yes, sir; the blind girl is with her."

"And the freckled doggie!" asked "the long baby," suddenly raising her
head from her father's shoulder. "I meant to told 'em to bringed that
doggie."

"Let's all go down and see," said Mother Hubbard.

When they entered the dining-room, Mrs. Brooks started up in dismay.
She had left her sick husband, and come a long distance through the
storm, only to find Mrs. Allen gone, and a parcel of children decked out
like circus-riders. It seemed like a cruel mockery.

"Beg pardon," said she. "Maria, we'll go home now."

Maria was sitting near her mother, trying to force back the tears which
would find their way through her closed eyes.

"You poor dear girl," said Mother Hubbard, going up to her, and taking
her hand. "My auntie was so sorry to go off to-day, just when you were
coming! but she had to, for Uncle Augustus is sick. And it looks funny
to you--I mean to your mother--to see us dressed up this way; but auntie
said we might, just to keep us from being so lonesome. And Mrs. Brooks,
she wants you to call again the day after _the day after_ to-morrow. She
thinks she'll be home then."

"Yes'm," struck in my Lady Magnifico! "She thinks she'll come then with
Uncle 'Gustus. He isn't much sick. If he was going to die, we wouldn't
dress up so, certainly."

"No," replied Mrs. Brooks, smiling. "It's just as well; my Maria must
have patience; that's all."

"Patience!" thought Maria; "haven't I had it, and had it?--But I do
suppose God will attend to me when He thinks best. Is this what they
call waiting on the Lord?"

"When you come nex' time, I hope you'll bring that doggie," said Fly.

Then they went away, and the last thing Maria listened to was Fly's
melodious voice; and the last thing Fly looked at was Mrs. Brooks's nose
moving up and down.



CHAPTER IV.

GOING TO HOUSEKEEPING.


It was nearly noon before Mrs. Fixfax had made her room ready for
housekeeping. She turned up her bed into a press that stood beside the
wall, brought in a high chair, a small rocking chair, two ottomans, some
pictures and picture-books, and nearly all the curiosities she could
find in the house. A cunning little cooking-stove, highly polished, was
set against the chimney, and the drollest shovel and tongs seemed to be
making "dumb love" to each other across the fireplace, like a black
Punch and Judy. Then there was a pair of brazen-faced bellows, hanging,
nose downward, on a brass nail; a large table in one corner, with a
cake-board on it, and near it a cupboard made out of an old
clothes-press, with dishes in it, and flour, sugar, raisins, spices,
rolling-pin, "aerating egg-beater," yellow bowls, wooden spoons, and
everything that could be needed in cooking for a very large family.
There were five rugs spread on the carpet, and a large oilcloth under
the stove. Last, but not least, Mrs. Fixfax brought Mrs. Allen's
tortoise-shell cat, and set her in a stuffed chair by the west window.

Then she called the children; and Mother Hubbard and Lady Magnifico
rushed in, followed by the Man in the Moon and his baby.

"Good morning, all; I hope I see you well," said Mrs. Fixfax, as sober
as Nathaniel himself. "This room is yours as long as you like. Make
yourselves perfectly at home."

"Thank you ever so much," replied Mother Hubbard, bobbing her head,
while the "pillow-sham" ruffles waved this way and that, like a field of
ripe grain.

"Whenever you want anything, just ring this bell, and I will come; or,
if you ring the other one, it will bring Rachel. And, Miss Prudy, here
is the 'Young Housekeeper's Friend;' perhaps you would like to look it
over."

Mother Hubbard blushed to her cap-border, and took the book with another
"Thank you ever so much," but did not know what else to say to such a
dignified woman.

The truth was, Mrs. Fixfax was trying so hard to keep from laughing,
that her manner was rather stiff and cold.

"I have left the ventilator open," thought she. "The children are full
of talk, and I don't want to lose a word. Besides, Mrs. Allen would
consider it safer for me to know all that's going on."

"There, glad she's gone," said Lady Magnifico, as Mrs. Fixfax's stately
form disappeared.

"She isn't as pretty as the _new_ Miss _Fixfix_. 'Spect she's got the
toothache," suggested the talking infant, who was trying to lie and coo
on a rug, but was unable to do it.

"Well said, little Toddle; false toothache, hey?"

"Are they false, Mr. Moony? Then that was why she puckered up her lips
so funny," said Mother Hubbard; "it was to keep 'em in!"

"Yes; and take her, teeth and all, her face has about as much expression
as a platter of cold hash. I'll leave it to you if it hasn't, Prue."

"Why, there, Miss Fixfix never asked me to kiss her one time," said Fly,
with sudden astonishment.

"Reckon you'd have wanted a lump of sugar after it, Topknot."

The good-natured housekeeper shook with laughter as she listened to
these remarks from the next room.

"What a terrible creature this _Miss Fixfix_ is!" thought she. "Well, if
they've got such an idea of me, I won't try to change it. Not for the
rest of the day, at any rate. I'll keep my distance, and let 'em work."

Mother Hubbard began to look about her with the mien of a housekeeper.

"Let us see: what are we burning here?" said she, taking off a
stove-cover. "Wood, I declare. Mrs. Fixfax is afraid I couldn't manage
coal!"

"And here's a 'normous big box full of sticks," said Lady Magnifico. "I
didn't s'pose wood grew in New York. What now, Mr. Moon? Don't I know
wood is sawed out of trees? Well, what you laughing at, then?"

"Laughing, my lady? Why, who can help it, to see such a jolly room, big
enough to hold a mass-meeting? That's a loud-spoken clock up there.
Wonder if Mother Hubbard notices it's just going to strike twelve?"

Prudy looked up, but did not take the hint.

"I'm so glad I remembered to bring that clock. I always used to tell my
dog I prized it as much as he did his dear little tail.--Why, what's
burning? That child has scorched her slip. Do take care of her,
Mr.--what may I call you?--while I look over this cupboard."

"Call me Dr. Moonshine, if you want to."

"I'm glad I was so thoughtful as to order sugar," continued the
landlady. "It's excellent to drop medicine on. What's this in a bowl?
Ice-cream?"

"Why, don't you know what that is?" said Lady Magnifico, sweeping along
to the cupboard, and dipping in her dainty finger; "that's _condemned
milk_.'

"_Condensed_ milk, her ladyship means," said the doctor, "boiled down,
you know, and thickened. When you make a custard for dinner, you'll have
to put in a tea-kettle full of water."

This was the second hint the young man had thrown out concerning dinner;
but Prudy was not to be hurried.

"What's this in a little caddy? O, it's rice. No; it's what Dotty used
to call _coker whacker_."

"What does she call it now, may I ask?" said the doctor, with an
irritating smile.

"_Patti-coker_--what you s'pose?" was the rash reply. Poor Lady
Magnifico! Little tingles of shame ran down her fingers as soon as she
had spoken, for she saw, by the glances between her landlady and the
doctor, that she had made another mistake.

"O, I like to keep house," cried Fly, holding up her trailing robes, and
dancing over a carpet seam. "What's this goldy thing?"

"Bellows, Toddlekins, to blow up the fire. See me fill out their leather
cheeks."

"What pretty little _blozers_! Let me blow 'em!"

There was a second dash upon the stove, and another scorch in the slip.

"There ought to be a fence built round that stove," said the anxious
father.

"Come, Mother Hubbard, have you seen all there is in the cupboard?
Can't you give this poor old dog a bone?"

"Well, here I am with the care of the family on my shoulders," thought
Mother Hubbard, winking fast behind the green spectacles, and recalling
uneasily the couplet her father often repeated:--

    "Think well before you pursue it;
    But when you begin, go through it."

"Now what'll we have for dinner?"

Lady Magnifico was walking languidly about, admiring herself in the
mirror, Dr. Moonshine rummaging an old closet, and Baby pulling out the
bureau drawers.

"They have the easy part. But never mind; I'll show them what I can do.
Mother says I have a great deal more taste for cooking than Susy has.
Didn't I make pickles all one vacation?"

Then Prudy sat down with the "Housekeeper's Friend," and began at the
first page to read. Half an hour passed, and no signs of her moving.

"I'm hunger-y," whispered Baby, taking a sugar-coated pill out of a box,
and touching it with her tongue. It was sweet till her teeth went into
it, when out rolled the little ball upon the floor.

"O, my shole! How bitter!" groaned she, wiping her mouth on a lace cuff.
"'Spect that's a pill, and they cooked it in sugar; but I shan't eat
it."

"Little daughter, what are you doing there? Mustn't meddle with other
folks' things." Dr. Moonshine sneezed as he spoke, having breathed some
of the "dust of ages" into his nose off a top shelf, where Mrs. Fixfax
kept a few herbs. Ten minutes more. The doctor stepped down from the
chair-back on which he had been standing, and gazed hard at his
landlady. She was turning the sixteenth page.

"My Lady Magnifico!"

"Sir?"

"My lady, do you happen to have such a thing as a peanut in your
pocket?"

My lady shook the cat out of the armchair, and seated herself.

"It isn't polite to carry round peanuts."

"I was only thinking," continued the doctor, with a side glance at
Mother Hubbard, "how nice a peanut would be to keep anybody from
fainting away."

Mother Hubbard started from her chair. "What unfashionable boarders! You
don't expect dinner in the middle of the day, I hope! In the city of New
York we don't have it till five or six o'clock. I'm afraid you came down
too soon, Dr. Moonshine."

"Afraid I did. Wish I was 'the man in the South.' I'd like to 'burn my
mouth' on a little 'cold plum porridge.'"

"Haven't any for you; but I'll give you a lunch. What say to omelettes
and coffee?"

"Excellent," said Dr. Moonshine, reviving.

"Exquisite," drawled my lady.

"_Exquit_," quoth Fly.

"Only there isn't any coffee," said Mother Hubbard, going to the
cupboard.

"Call it tea," said the doctor, "and hurry up."

"No, chocolate is better. How do you make chocolate?" said the landlady,
turning to her cook-book.

"I don't know, and don't care," fumed the doctor. "Baked in a _slow_
oven, most likely, with a top crust. Let the chocolate slide."

"Well, I will. And now I'll make the omelette. Eggs? yes; there are
eggs enough; but dear me, where's the milk? This _condemned_ kind my
lady tells about won't do to make omelettes. I shouldn't dare try it."

"Well, well, give us a little bread and butter. I've got past being
particular."

"O, Dr. Moonshine, such biscuits as I'm going to bake for you at five
o'clock! But now I really can't find a speck of bread!"

"I'll warrant it! I always heard that when old Mother Hubbard went to
her cupboard she found the shelves were all bare."

"Then you needn't have come here to board. Won't crackers and raisins
do?"

They had to do; and the boarders tried to be satisfied in view of the
coming dinner.

All the afternoon Mother Hubbard spent between the cake-board and the
mouth of the oven.

"Queen of the rolling-pin, can't you hush up this fire?" said Dr.
Moonshine, looking at the thermometer; "we're nearly up to 'butter
melts,' and I suppose you know that's ninety degrees."

"Dr. Moonshine," replied Mother Hubbard, nervously, "I can't help it if
the butter does melt. We've got to have something to eat."

"Papa, pin up my dress," said the baby. "I want to do sumpin. I want
some pastry to paste a book with."

"You're a real failure, Toddlekins. Your teeth have come, and you talk
and keep talking. I'm afraid Mother Hubbard will charge me full price
for your board. You hear what she calls for, ma'am? Can you make her a
little paste? Here's an old Patent Office Report; and I'll run the risk
of her spoiling it. I'll cut some pictures for her out of these
papers."

"Lucky I don't keep a file of my newspapers," thought Mrs. Fixfax,
listening from the next room. "If I did, those children would hear from
me."

"Yes, I'll make her some paste," said Mother Hubbard, dropping the
aerating egg-beater, and setting the spice-box on the stove.

Dr. Moonshine laughed. Mother Hubbard had never dreamed a boarder could
be so disagreeable. She snatched off the spice-box, and setting a kettle
on the stove, boiled paste enough to paper the walls of a room.

Meanwhile Fly was making free with the nutmegs and soda, and the little
cook could not remember how far along she had got with the cake.

"Children don't annoy you, I hope," said the doctor, seating the baby
at the side of the table, opposite Mother Hubbard, and giving her a
stick with a rag wound around the end of it, in order to paste pictures
into a scrap-book.

"Thank you, doctor. I never did like children half as well as dogs,"
replied Mother Hubbard, forcing a smile. Then she tasted her cake slyly,
to make sure whether she had put the butter in or not.

"Madam Hubbard, mim," said Lady Magnifico, "may I trouble you for a
glass of water?"

"Mamma Hubbard, may I have a hangfiss to wipe off the pastry?"

Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard, and got a goblet for the lady;
to the closet, and found a rag for the baby.

By that time she smelt something burning; it was eggs. She had left the
patent egg-beater on the stove by accident, and its contents were as
black as a shoe.

"O, what a frightful, alarming odor!" cried Lady Magnifico. "If somebody
doesn't throw up a window! Madam, do tell us what's afire now!"

"Mother Hubbard's got a dumb chill," said the doctor; "she won't speak."

But Prudy was saying under breath, "Please, God, let me keep pleasant.
They don't mean any harm, and I _should_ be ashamed to get angry just
about a play."

"What ails you, Mother Hubbard? 'You look as blue as the skimmiest kind
of skim-milk.'"

"Do I? Well, no wonder, with such troublesome boarders. Suppose you and
my lady go down to the parlor. I don't believe I'm a bit interesting,
you know. I'll call you when dinner is ready."

"Agreed! Sharp five, remember."

"There," said Mother Hubbard, taking off her spectacles; "now I can
cook."

Could she?

"Little folks we is to keep house--isn't we?" buzzed the little torment
that was left behind. "Hush! don't you talk, Prudy. When you shake the
table, then I make blots with my pastry."

Prudy said nothing, but thoughtfully tasted the cake again. How could
she tell whether she had left out the soda?

"Are you _blind of your ears_, Prudy, Can't you hear nuffin what I say?
Rag's come off the stick. Please to tie it on. And _I_ want to eat some
o' that dough."

Mother Hubbard did her blundering best; but ill luck seemed to pursue
the cooking.

"Needn't call that book the 'Young Housekeeper's Friend.' It's an
enemy, a real bitter enemy," cried she, in great excitement. "Wood is
hotter than coal, too. Mrs. Fixfax must have given it to me to plague
me. How it does burn things up! I hope beefsteak is cheap. I won't ask
anybody to eat this, all covered with ashes. I'll never try to broil any
again on top of a stick of wood! I won't try that 'steamboat pudding.'
Sounds as if 'twould burn, and I know it would. Let 'em go without
pudding."

After the most tiresome afternoon she had ever spent in her life, Mother
Hubbard went down with Fly, whom she dared not leave by herself, to call
her boarders to dinner.



CHAPTER V.

MOTHER HUBBARD'S DINNER.


This was Mrs. Allen's "reception-day," the day on which she always staid
at home, that her friends might be sure of finding her in.

"Not at home," Nathaniel had kept saying to visitors that afternoon. But
one of them, a queenly-looking lady, would not be satisfied with the
answer.

"Are the children here?" demanded she. "Those nieces and nephews?"

Nathaniel did not know exactly what reply to make; so he invited the
lady into the parlor, and went to inquire.

Dr. Moonshine and Lady Magnifico were in the drawing-room, looking over
engravings.

"Gnat, gnat, you troublesome insect," said the doctor. "I heard auntie
tell you we were not to be disturbed."

"But what could I say?" asked the insect, humbly. "I couldn't tell her
'not at home.'"

"You must say, 'Beg to be excused;' those are the proper words," said my
lady.

"Yes," added the doctor; "go, there's a good gnat, and sting 'em like
sixty, if they don't start quick."

Nathaniel obeyed, looking as dignified as ever, though nothing but a
strong sense of propriety kept him from smiling.

He had not crossed the hall before Mother Hubbard entered the parlor,
dragging Fly, who was pinned to her skirts.

Mother Hubbard was flushed and excited, her nose dusted with flour, her
cap pulled entirely over her forehead; and she was saying, in a loud
tone, "I can't take any peace of my life, Fly Clifford, you know I
can't, unless I get you fastened somehow."

"I don't 'low folks to _fassin_ me," responded Fly, shaking her lace cap
in a blaze of wrath; "the next that _fassins_ me, I'll _scwatch who did
it_!"

It was not at all like either of the children to talk in this way, any
more than it was like them to be dressed in such ridiculous costume. The
effect upon the lady visitor was quite startling. She started, smiled,
rose from her chair, and held out her hand.

"Now tell me if this isn't Miss Prudy Parlin. I have seen your picture,
my love."

What eyes, to spy out a likeness under all the flour and furbelows, not
to mention the green spectacles! Prudy quivered like a frightened mouse,
but could not get away, for a trap was sprung upon her; a steel-gloved
hand was holding her fast.

"I am Madam Pragoffyetski, a Polish runaway. You may not have heard of
me, but I know all about Prudy and little Thistledown Flyaway."

"Nicely, thank you, m'm," responded Miss Fly, in a voice as faint as the
peep of a chicken; at the same time darting forward and tearing a piece
out of her slip. "If she runned away I'd be 'shamed to tell of it."

"How awful for her to come here!" thought Mother Hubbard, stealing a
timid glance at the lady's ermine muff. "She looks nice, but I don't
want anything to do with such people."

"Don't be afraid of me, dears," said the lady, laughing; "I call myself
a runaway just in sport. I am a warm admirer of yours, and my dear
friend, your auntie, has promised me a visit from you. I came on purpose
to ask you, and your sister, and your cousins to my house to dinner
to-morrow. Will you come?"

Mother Hubbard gazed doubtfully at the steel-colored glove. What could
she say?

"Thank you ever so much, Mrs.--Mrs. Pradigoff, but Fly is not allowed to
go out."

Flyaway was greatly chagrined.

"Well, I--I _solomon_ promised," said she, casting down her guilty eyes,
as she remembered the orange man; "I solomon promised I would't go ou'
doors, _athout_ somebody _lets_ me."

"There's a tender conscience for you," laughed the Polish lady. "Why
was she not to go out, Miss Prudy?"

"Because she is so quick-motioned, ma'am. Before you know it she's lost.
That's the reason I pinned her to my dress. You see, ma'am, we are
playing 'keep house.'"

"O, if her quickness is all the trouble, I'll take the responsibility
that she shan't get lost. I'll bind her fast with a silken chain.
Really, children, my heart is set on your coming. My house is full of
things that make a noise--a canary, a paroquet, a mocking-bird, a harp,
a piano, and a guitar. And--"

Mrs. Pragoff did not add that she had invited a little party to meet
them. She was afraid of frightening the timid souls.

"Would you like to come, Miss Prudy? Tell me honestly, now."

There was no need to ask Fly. She was dancing for joy--the absurd
little image.

"O, yes'm; I'd be delighted," replied Mother Hubbard, a smile lighting
up her face even to the floury tip of her nose. "And I think Horace and
Dotty would, too. Shall I go and ask?"

Yes, Horace and Dotty were both pleased with the idea.

"She's a foreigner," said Prudy, doubtfully; "but she talks our language
beautifully. She's a dear friend of auntie's, too."

"What I object to," said Horace, "is taking Toddlekins; but I may
possibly hire her to stay at home."

It was finally decided that Mrs. Pragoff should call next day and take
the children to church with her, and thence home to a Christmas dinner.
She laughed, as she rolled away in her carriage, thinking what droll
figures they were, and how Prudy blinked through her glasses.

"So I shan't have to cook but one meal more, and that will be
breakfast," thought Mother Hubbard, her tired heart leaping up with
something like joy.

They sat down to dinner at last.

"Tea urn been standing on the table all this while?" asked Dr.
Moonshine, resuming his critical manners; "'twould take the tea some
time to freeze on here, Mrs. Hubbard, if that is what you're trying to
do with it!"

Mrs. Hubbard pretended not to hear.

"She's blind of her ears, papa; you have to speak loud."

"What makes your child's face so red, doctor?" asked the landlady,
pouring hot water till it overran the cup; "don't the darling feel
well?"

"Yes'm, pitty well; only but the white tea gets in my cheeks and makes
'em too hot."

"White tea, I should think," remarked Dr. Moonshine; "why, Mother
Hubbard, the tea-leaf in your urn must feel rather lonesome."

Mother Hubbard took off the cover and peeped in.

"None there, as true as you live! I'll jump right up, doctor, and stew
two or three handfuls."

"Don't rise for me, ma'am; don't rise for me. We'll swallow the will for
the deed, ma'am; the will for the deed."

"It's always so, doctor," said Lady Magnifico, in an undertone; "we've
had to swallow these mistakes from time _immortal_."

Her ladyship meant "immemorial." She was surprised at the ease with
which she used large words.

"All the mistakes are owing to the eccentricity of genius," said the
doctor, bowing to Mother Hubbard. "Our landlady is what is called
'absent.' Here's a health to our _absent_ friend."

"You'll have to excuse the biscuit," said Mother Hubbard, nervously. "I
mixed 'em too tight, and I think the flour's half corn, they look so
yellow; it _can't_ be all soda."

"I presume not _all_ soda; some mixture of flour and water. But where
are they, ma'am?"

"O, I put them in the cupboard. I thought you'd like crackers better."

"But these are the _mizzerble_ kind, that don't split," said Lady
Magnifico, in tragic tones; "I told you so to-day noon."

"Stop a minute, Miss Hubbard; my coffee's too sour," cried the
youngest, determined to scowl as hard as Dotty did, if it was a possible
thing.

The worried landlady passed the sugar, and the small boarder corrected
the _sourness_ of her white tea with three teaspoonfuls, heaping
measure.

"My little Toddlekins is eating nothing." said the doctor. "I hope her
red cheeks don't indicate fever."

"There's great quantities of sickness just now among children," said
Lady Magnifico, crooking her little finger genteelly. "_Nervous
Exhaustation_ is going about."

"Nervous what, my lady?"

"_Exhaustation_. I am well acquainted with a lady in the first society
that had it dreadfully. She called in twenty-five doctors, if my memory
_preserves_ me right; and _then_ she like to died."

"You know it for a fact, my lady? I hope it won't come here (or the
doctors either). Is it catching, Dr. Moonshine?"

"Well, yes, Mother Hubbard; it's apt to catch fine ladies. Goes hard
with 'em, too."

"Ah me, then I'll never dare go out," drawled Lady Magnifico, looking at
her rings.

Here Mother Hubbard timidly passed the cake. "White Mountain; but I
suspect it's a poor rule."

"A poor rule that don't work both ways, hey? If this was ever white,
ma'am, 'twasn't a fast color; faded to a rusty black. And as to it's
being a mountain, ma'am, it looks to me like a pretty hollow valley."

"I'm so sorry, doctor! But your little girl dusted my soda over the
cat, and that was why the cake didn't rise."

"Just so, ma'am; but did the cat rise?"

"O, Dr. Moonshine, I see you're making fun of my cooking. And now I'll
tell you something more. I got the butter ready, and forgot to put it
in, and that's why the cake's so tough."

"Never mind," said the doctor, very amiable as long as he could make his
joke. "It is pretty tough cake, ma'am; but it's always tougher where
there's none."

"There's one thing about it," said Mother Hubbard, a little relieved;
"it's sweet in the middle, and you needn't eat the bitter part, where
it's burnt."

"It's my practice to mix the bitter with the sweet," said the doctor,
waving the butter-knife. "In this way, Mother H., your black-valley cake
is almost as good as pills."

"I ate a pill," observed Fly, "and 'twas worser'n this!"

"You ate a pill, child? When? Where? I'll warrant that's what ails you."

"No, it don't ail me now. I spitted it out."

After nibbling a few crackers, and the inside of the cake, the happy
family moved away from the table, hungrier than when they had sat down.

"What is home without a mother?" sang Horace, in a plaintive voice; and
Dotty joined in, with emphasis.

Prudy looked as low-spirited as the "black-valley cake."

"I hope Uncle Augustus will be able to come home to-morrow. I declare,
we are real cruel not to feel worse about his being sick away off there
in a hotel."

"You'd better believe he gets things to eat," responded Lady Magnifico,
aside to the doctor. "I'd rather be some sick than have a landlady
that's purblind and _purdeaf_, and such _owdrageous_ poor cooking! Glad
I'm going out to Christmas dinner."



CHAPTER VI.

PRUDY IN A NEW LIGHT.


Mother Hubbard was heated, and tired, and hungry, and cross. It was all
very well for a lady boarder to loll on an ottoman, play with her rings,
and find fault. It was all very well for a gentleman boarder to fire
poor jokes; but they couldn't either of them know how every word cut
like a lash. When the doctor said, carelessly, "Some people think
themselves great cooks, my lady; but the proof of the pudding's in the
eating," why, that speech was "the pin in the end of the lash."

Prudy saw now that she had pretended to know a great deal more than she
really did. Pretension is very apt to get laughed at. She had always
scorned Dotty's self-conceit; but hadn't she shown quite as much
herself? Making her auntie suppose she understood cooking, and putting
Mrs. Fixfax to all this trouble for nothing? How horrified auntie would
be, and the housekeeper too, if they should dream that this little
family was starving, with a cook-book lying open on the floor!

"But I declare, it's real mean in you two to make fun of me," cried the
young landlady, tipping the sugar-basin plump into the dish-tub; "you
couldn't get any better supper yourselves, nor half so good; so there!"

Surprised at the sharp sound of her own voice, dismayed at sight of the
wet sugar, and completely discouraged by the aspect of things in
general, Prudy burst out into a sort of frenzy. She was ashamed of
herself, but she couldn't stop.

"You think I can bear everything--you and Dotty both! People are careful
what they say to Dotty, for her temper's just like live coals; but they
talk to me, and say anything; anything they've a mind to."

"Why, Prue," exclaimed Horace, as astonished as if Mother Hubbard's dog
had spoken; "why, Prue!"

"Yes, you think it's awful if I speak; but sometimes it seems as if I
should bite my tongue out."

"Don't, Prudy," exclaimed Dotty, looking on with awe and alarm, as if
there had been a sudden eclipse of the sun; "I didn't mean to."

"Don't Prudy," said Fly, clutching at the brown dress; "and I'll give
you sumpin what I buy."

There is an old saying, "Beware the fury of a patient man." Prudy had
tried all day to

                          "Smile and smile,
    While secret wounds were eating at her heart;"

but now she could scarcely bear the touch of little Fly's hand. She did
not care what she said, if she could only find words bitter enough.

"I always have to bear, and bear, and bear. Nobody else does. I've
noticed how different it is with Susy. She frets, and then people let
her alone. And Dotty, how she tosses up her head like Aunt Martha's
horse Lightning-Dodger! Haven't I always pacified Dotty, and humored
her? Had to alter the play to suit her. And what does that child know
or care, any more than if I was a common sister, that hadn't been giving
up, and giving up, and _giving up_, ever since she was born?"

Prudy's cap-strings shook violently, her teeth chattered, and the sharp
words seemed to rattle out like hail-stones. Horace had never seen her
in such a mood, and was half inclined to run away; but when she took her
hands down from her face, and he saw how pale she was, his heart was
moved.

"Come, Prue, you're sick abed; that's what's the matter. Lie down, and
let that lazy Dot take off her diamonds, and go to work."

Prudy dropped upon the sofa and covered her face with her handkerchief,
while Dotty, strange to relate, actually slid the rings off her fingers
and thumbs, and began to put away the crackers.

"O, dear," thought Prudy, blushing under the cap-border, spectacles,
and handkerchief; "what did possess me to talk so? I had been holding in
all day; why did I let go? If I ever do let go, I can't stop; and O, how
shameful it is!"

It seemed as easy for Prudy to be good as for a bird to sing; but it was
not so. She had a great deal of human nature, after all. She liked her
own way, but she never had it unless Dotty was willing. Was that a
pleasant way to live? If you think so, dears, just try it. The secret of
Prudy's sweetness was really this: In all trials she was continually
saying, under breath, "Please, God, keep me from doing wrong." She had
found that was really the only way--the only _safe_ way.

"Everybody calls me amiable. They wouldn't if they knew how I have to
grit my teeth together to keep from scolding. I like to be called
amiable, but nobody'll do it again; and Horace sees now I'm not the girl
he thought I was."

All Prudy's hail-stones of wrath had melted into tear-drops, and she was
sobbing them into her handkerchief. She did not clearly know whether she
was crying because she had done wrong, or because Horace would see she
"was not the girl he had thought she was."

"Bless your dear little soul," said Dr. Moonshine, kneeling before her,
while his blue swallow-tails swept the floor, "you've told the truth.
Everybody knows Dot's a spitfire, and you're an angel; and she does
impose upon you most abominably."

Dotty stood staring, with a plate in her hand, too much astonished to
defend herself.

"And I'm ashamed of firing so many jokes at you, Prue; I am so. I'm a
great joker (he meant a great _wit_!), but this is the first time I ever
mistrusted you cared--you always take things so like a lamb,--or you'd
better believe I wouldn't have done it. For there isn't a girl in the
world I like so well as I do you, nor begin to."

"O, Hollis," moaned the little one, stirred by sudden jealousy.

"Hullelo! I forgot you, Topknot.--You're my heart's jewel; that's
generally understood. When I say I like Prue, I mean next after you."

The jealous Fly was satisfied, and folded her little wings against
Horace's breast. Prudy felt greatly soothed, but her cap-strings were
still shaking, and she could not trust her voice to speak. Nothing more
was said for some time. Dotty clattered away at the dishes, kitty purred
by the stove, and Horace rocked his little sister, who clung about his
neck like an everlasting pea. Presently he stopped rocking, and
exclaimed,--

"Why, what's the matter with my Toddlekins? What makes her breathe so
short?"

"My froat's short; that's what is it," replied the little philosopher,
closing her eyes, as if she did not choose to talk.

"But how does your throat feel, Topknot?"

"Feels bad; why?"

"Girls, this child has a sore throat, and a high fever. Her hands are as
hot as pepper."

Dotty wrung the dish-cloth tragically.

"She's going to have the measles; you see'f she don't."

"Hush!" said Prudy, springing up, and tucking back her sleeves. "Let's
give her a warm bath. That's what mother does when we are sick, before
ever she sends for the doctor."

"I'd _ravver_ have a _turkey-wash_," said Fly, rousing a little, and
then dropping her head again.

"There, she's lost her senses; I knew she would," said Dotty, walking
the floor.

"Do stop that, Dot. She has her senses as clear as you have. When she
says _turkey-wash_, she means a Turkish bath; it takes me to interpret.
She had a very gentle Turkish bath once. Liked it--didn't you, Fly?
Can't you rub her real hard with a crash towel, girls? That will be
almost as good."

"Of course we can," said Prudy, forgetting her gust of indignation
entirely; "and what could be nicer than this little bathroom, with the
silver faucets and ivory tub. Come, Fly, and have your turkey-wash.
'Twill make you feel a great deal better."

After a nice bath, at which Prudy and Dotty presided, the little one was
dressed in her nightie, and set on her brother's knee again.

"Prudy said I'd feel better to be baved," said she, looking thoughtfully
at the gas-light; "but now I was baved, and I don't feel any diffunt; I
feel just's I did by-fore."

"When can she have taken such a cold?" said Horace; "don't you see,
Prue, she can't breathe out of her nose?"

Then Fly remembered the orange-man, and something made her face grow red
in a minute; but it was not the white tea.

"Pitiful about my signess," sighed she, and thought she would never,
never tell of her own disobedience. But Horace saw the blush and heard
the sigh.

"I am glad Fly always minds," said he, looking straight into the little
guilty face. "For God sees everything she does," whispered he, solemnly.

Horace never spoke of such subjects to other people; you would not
suppose they were much in his mind; but to this precious little sister
he gave his best thoughts, so far as he could make her understand them.

"For God sees everything she does."

Fly did not speak for as much as a minute, and then she said, timidly,--

"Hollis, I want to ask you sumpin; does God wear spetticles?"

"No, dear; no, indeed."

"O, I thought He did."

"But He sees us in the light and in the dark, Topknot."

The child winced.

"Can He see Hisself athout looking in the glass?"

"Yes, I suppose so."

"Then, when I go up to God, I'll find He has four eyes,--two to see
Hisself, and two to see other things. O, dear, I'm so sick, I guess I
will go up to God."

The housekeeper was listening from the next room.

"That child's voice is growing hoarse. I must go and look into this
business," thought she.

She knocked at the children's door.

"I came to ask if I can do anything for you, young ladies."

Mrs. Fixfax had heard a great deal of the play, and had been in a state
of amusement all day, without seeing the actors; and when she caught
sight of them now, she had to twist her mouth very hard, "to keep her
teeth in."

The magnificent Lady Magnifico, the ridiculous Dr. Moonshine, and the
becapped Mother Hubbard, all replied in chorus, "O, yes'm, we were going
to ring for you. Do you see what ails the baby."

Mrs. Fixfax approached the child in such a tender, motherly way, that
Horace was ashamed of having compared her face to "a platter of cold
hash." She had a strong, sensible look, as if she were capable of
carrying a whole hospital full of children through all sorts of
diseases; and Prudy and Horace, who had begun to have an unpleasant
feeling of responsibility, were greatly relieved.

"You don't think it's anything but a cold--do you, Mrs. Fixfax? I don't
know much about sickness."

Mrs. Fixfax allowed herself to smile this time, as her eye rested on the
Mother Hubbard cap.

"No, I don't see anything alarming yet. If this was my child, I should
just gargle her throat with salt and water, wrap a pork rind round her
neck, and put her to bed."

Fly objected to nothing, if she could only sleep with her own brother
Hollis. When told she might do so, she tried to clap her hands; but her
heart was heavy, and her throat was sore; so all she could do was to
kiss him and cry.

"And now, my dears, how do you enjoy housekeeping?" asked Mrs. Fixfax,
carelessly, as she attended to Fly's throat.

"No--ot very much," returned Dr. Moonshine, faintly; for no one else
seemed ready to speak. "Rather hard on the head of the family. Don't you
say so, Prue?"

But Prudy could not answer, on account of a throbbing at the roots of
her tongue.

"I see you have been taking an early dinner," contined Mrs. Fixfax, very
coolly, as if she had no idea the children before her were half starved.

"Ye--es'm."

"So, perhaps you wouldn't object to going down and finishing off on
roast turkey? I ordered the table set for you."

"You did? O, thank you, ma'am!" cried Lady Magnifico, ready to throw
herself on the housekeeper's neck.

"I never object to roast turkey myself," said the doctor, his eyes
gleaming with delight.

Mother Hubbard said nothing; but she thought she should relish a good
dinner as well as her boarders. They all went down but Fly, who was by
this time fast asleep in Mrs. Fixfax's arms.

"I reckon the servants thought we'd been wrecked on a desert island, by
the dash we made at that turkey," whispered Horace, as they returned to
the housekeeper's room.

"How good you were, Horace Clifford, not to tell Mrs. Fixfax about my
awful cooking."

"And I didn't tell, either," said Dotty. "But wasn't it _mizzerble_?"

As if Mrs. Fixfax didn't know, and wasn't that very minute laughing over
the "tight biscuit" and low-spirited cake!



CHAPTER VII.

A FLY IN TRINITY CHURCH.


The children went to bed that night cheered by a remark which Mrs.
Fixfax dropped as if by accident.

"The cook is to fry buckwheat cakes in the morning. I dare say you would
like omelettes, too. Do you drink chocolate?"

"She takes it for granted we are going to eat down stairs," thought
Prudy. And now her troubles were over. Life bloomed before her once more
like a garden of roses.

Horace did not rest remarkably well. In the first place, the bed was too
warm. Mrs. Fixfax had rolled Fly into a big bundle, with nothing out
but the end of her nose, and was toasting her with soapstones.

"Buried alive," Horace said, "with gravestones at her head and feet."

"I'm all of a _personation_," gasped the child. "My mamma never did me
so, Hollis. She gave me little tinty tonty pills,--sugar clear
through,--not the big ones Miss Fixfix eats."

"Well, lie still, Topknot, and don't roll towards me."

For an hour or two Fly lay gasping; then she said, softly,--

"Hollis, Hollis, is He looking now?"

"Yes, dear; but don't be afraid of the good God."

"I didn't, Hollis, if I wasn't naughty. When I'm good I'm willin' He
should look."

"Naughty, Topknot?"

"Yes, Hollis; I _solomon_ promised I wouldn't go ou' doors; but that
new Miss Fixfix, she let me gwout, athout nuffin on my head, 'n' I got a
awful cold."

"O, little Fly!"

"I know it, Hollis. I was defful sorry all the time. I ate ollinges,
too; so for course I got the sore froat."

"I'm glad you told me, Fly; now I know what ails you. But you mustn't
ever disobey again."

"Yes, um," said Fly, rolling towards her brother, and crying till the
tears ran down on the flannel which was bound around her neck. A few
moments after she whispered,--

"Now I don't feel any 'fraid, Hollis; I've telled God. I feel better,
'n' I'm willin' He should look."

"Well, then, dear, that's right--go to sleep."

"And now, Hollis, do you s'pose He'll send my spirrick back to me?"

"What are you talking about, Topknot? Your spirit's in your body, child.
Go to sleep."

"No, it isn't in my body, too! I want my nice good little spirrick to
come back," murmured the child. "Auntie said 'twould stay to me if I's
good."

Fly was thinking of her unseen guardian angel.

It was a troubled night for Horace. Fly waked him no less than three
times, to ask him if she had the measles.

"No, child, no; don't wake me for that again."

"Well, you ought to not go to sleep 'fore I do. You're a fast boy,
Hollis!"

Morning came, and Fly was rather languid, as might have been expected
after such a night.

"I don't see," mused Mrs. Fixfax, "where she caught this dreadful cold,
unless it was your keeping the room so hot yesterday, children."

Fly hid her face in her brother's back hair, for she was riding
pickaback down stairs.

"And can we go to see that Poland lady?" said Dotty.

"If you asked _me_, I answer, No," said Horace, bluntly. "At any rate,
Fly mustn't stir a step out of the house to-day."

"I didn't ask you, Horace. I asked Mrs. Fixfax. She is the one that has
the care of us."

"I really don't know what to say about it," replied the housekeeper,
hesitating. "We will wait and see how she seems after breakfast."

"Rather a cool way of setting my opinion one side," thought Horace,
indignantly.

Fly ate only two small buckwheat cakes, but seemed lively enough, as
she always did when there was a prospect of going anywhere.

"I don't suppose it is exactly the thing, after steaming her so," said
Mrs. Fixfax, as if talking to herself,--she did not even look at
Horace;--"but really I don't know what else to do. I couldn't keep her
at home unless the rest of the children staid; and if I did I presume
she'd get killed some other way. She's one of the kind that's never
safe, except in bed, with the door locked, and the key in your pocket."

"Let her manage it to suit herself," thought brother Horace, deeply
wounded; "she knows _my_ opinion."

When Madam Pragoffyetski came, the housekeeper went down to the parlor
to introduce the children--a step which Horace thought highly
unnecessary. He was charmed at once with the foreign lady's affable
manners, and would have liked to go with her, if only Fly could have
been left behind. Mrs. Fixfax explained that the child had been sick,
and must be treated like a hot-house plant.

"We thought last night she was in danger of her _life_," said Dotty.
"You expected she was going to die, Horace; you know you did."

"Well, I wasn't going to," returned Fly, coughing. "I knew I should
live--I always do live."

"What was the matter?" said Mrs. Pragoffyetski, in alarm; for she knew
as much about children's ailments as she did about the volcanoes in the
sun.

"Only a little sore throat," answered the housekeeper, still looking
anxious, and not at all sure she was doing right.

"Yes'm, sore froat. And Dotty wanted me to have the measles, too; but I
wouldn't."

"That is right," said Mrs. Pragoffyetski, with a musical laugh. "Indeed,
your little cousin was cruel to ask such a thing of you. I'm glad you
didn't do it."

They took a street-car, and Dotty pressed her face against a window,
expecting to see gay sights all the way. But no; the shops had their
eyes shut. Yesterday how quickly everybody had moved! Now, men and women
were walking quietly along, and there was no confusion anywhere.

"How strange!" said Prudy. "I should think it was Sunday, only the boys
are blowing tin trumpets."

"Yes; and the babies are going to visit their grandmammas," said Mrs.
Pragoff; "look at the one in the corner in its nurse's arms, with a
point-lace bib under its chin. That pretty blanket, embroidered so
heavily, must weigh more than the baby."

Dotty kept her gaze steadily fixed on the streets.

"It seems so funny for a steeple to be _preceding_ from the middle of
those stores. 'Tisn't a very pious place for a church!"

"Now I hope Dotty isn't going to be pert," thought Prudy.

"I know what street that is, down there," added Miss Dimple, jumping out
of the car with both feet; "that is Wall Street. Did they use to have
walls both sides of it? Horace, you scared me so yesterday, I like to
screamed. You said there were bulls and bears growling all the way
along; but there wasn't a single bear, only a stuffed one sitting on
top of a store, and he wasn't alive, and not on this street either."

Here Prudy gave her sister's little finger a squeeze, which was meant
for "hush;" but Dotty never could understand why it was not proper at
all times to say what she had on her mind, especially when people
listened so politely as this Polish lady.

"Mrs.--Mrs. Pragoff-yetski, I hope you'll excuse me, but I can't
remember your name."

"That is it; you have it exactly; but never mind about the last part, my
love. Pragoff is enough."

"Yes'm.--Well, I was going to ask you, Mrs. Yetski, will you please sit
between me and Fly when we go into church? O, you don't know how funny
she acts, or you never'd dare take her. I wouldn't laugh in church for
anything in this world; but Fly always makes me."

"Does she, indeed! Ah me, that is very unfortunate!" said the queenly
lady, looking down on little Miss Toddlekins as if she were actually
afraid of her. She took care to put Dotty out of harm's way, by placing
the untamable Fly between Horace and Prudy.

The interior of Trinity Church was so magnificent, the Christmas
decorations so fresh and beautiful, and the service so imposing, that no
one thought of such a thing as smiling.

"How could I have been so impatient, yesterday?" thought Prudy, as she
listened to the plaintive chant, "He was a man of sorrows, and
acquainted with grief."

"Why, if you only think of that, how our Saviour had trouble every
minute, it doesn't seem as if it makes so much difference whether we
people and children have a good time or not."

Here, as they were about to seat themselves at the close of the chant,
Fly, who, in spite of her brother's warnings, had been tilting back and
forth on a stool, suddenly tipped forward, and hit her nose furiously.
Blood flowed from the wound; and the sight of it, together with the
pain, made the child frantic. She forgot where she was and screamed.
Poor Mrs. Pragoffyetski! Though a good woman in the main, she was rather
proud of appearances, and had just been thinking the four children did
her credit. But now! The shrill cry of distress called everybody's
attention to her pew. The whole audience were looking up from their
prayer-books in astonishment.

"Tut, tut! My dear! My love! Hush, my babe, lie still,--O, can't you
stop crying?"

Horace, too, was trying to quiet the child; but Fly sincerely believed
she was bleeding to death; so what did she care for proprieties?

"O, my shole!" piped she aloud, plunging both hands into the stream of
blood, and afterwards into her hair.

Thus, by the time Mrs. Pragoff and Horace got her into the aisle, she
looked as if she had been murdered.

"I wish I was twenty-one," thought Horace, bitterly. "Mrs. Fixfax had no
business steaming this child. I believe it has gone to her brain."

The party of five marched out of church, for Mrs. Pragoff did not wish
to make a second sensation by coming back after Prudy and Dotty.

"I never go with Fly but I get mortified," thought Miss Dimple; "and
now, O dear, I shan't hear those Christmas chimes!"

But Prudy was thinking how sorry she was for Mrs. Pragoff and Horace.

They all went into a druggist's, and, after a few minutes spent in the
use of a sponge and water, poor Fly ceased to look like a murdered
victim, but very much like a marble image. When they reached Mrs.
Pragoff's, she was placed on a sofa, and for once in her life lay still.
Horace bent over her with the wildest anxiety, thinking some terrible
crisis was coming. As soon as she felt a little better, she began to
cry. "O, darling, what is it?" said he, glad to see her in motion once
more.

"Cause my Uncle 'Gustus is sick."

"Poh," said Dotty; "crying about that? See! _I_ don't cry."

"Well, you don't love Uncle 'Gustus so hard as I do," said Fly, with
another burst.

Mrs. Pragoff looked on with interest, and tried to remember whether she
had ever heard that children shed tears when they were "coming down"
with scarlet fever. This elegant mansion was a very interesting place to
visit. To say nothing of things which "made a noise," there was no end
of curiosities from the four quarters of the globe; and Mrs. Pragoff was
so truly well-bred that the children soon felt at home. Dotty was deeply
engaged in examining a sea-horse, when Prudy suddenly whispered,--

"Dotty, what did you do last night with those two rings?"

"Rings? What rings?"

Then a look of absolute terror spread over Dotty's face. She remembered
slipping off her auntie's rings when she washed the dishes; but where
had she put them?

"Why, Prudy, I _persume_ I left 'em in--in--where I ought to leave 'em."

"O, I'm glad you did," returned Prudy, quite satisfied, for she was
listening with one ear to the liquid notes of "The Wandering Sprite."

"Why didn't Prudy Parlin ask me before?" thought Dotty, in much
agitation; "and then I could have gone all round and looked to see if
I'd put them in the right place."

[Illustration: "DOTTY DIMPLE, YOU HERE?"]



CHAPTER VIII.

DOTTY'S WINDPIPE.


It mattered little to Dotty, after this, what happened. She cared
nothing about the elegant masters and misses who dropped in to dinner,
though Prudy was too frightened to speak; nothing about the paroquets,
and dried butterflies, and Japanese canoes she pretended to look at;
nothing about the chatting and laughing, and very little about the
Christmas plum-pudding, the oyster-pies, and ice cream. Dotty had no
heart for any of these things. She was thinking continually, "Where are
those rings?"

Fly did not dine, and Dotty had begged to stay with her.

"No," said Mrs. Pragoff, patting Miss Dimple's cheek with her dainty
hand, which did not look as if it had ever been soiled with anything
coarser than rose leaves; "I am glad to see you so kind to your dear
little cousin; but she is asleep on my bed, and does not need you."

Prudy sat at her hostess's right hand, and in spite of her bashfulness,
was as happy a child as ever broke a wish-bone. No one who has not had
the care of a family can imagine the relief she felt now the cooking was
off her mind. But Dotty was wringing her hands under the table-cloth,
and thinking, "I don't want to see anybody. My heart is certainly
broken."

"Why, Dot, what's the matter? What are you scowling at so?" said Horace,
in a low tone.

Upon that Dotty began to smile. No one must know her heart was broken,
for fear the question might arise, "What broke it?" Of course her smile
was a make-believe, nothing more nor less than a simper. The large boy
across the table looked at her in surprise. "Handsome as a picture,"
thought he, "but no brains."

"O, my sorrows! What'll I do? I can't remember whether I put those rings
in my blue pocket, or carried 'em up stairs. Seems to me I dropped 'em
in a salt-cellar. No; I thought I'd lay 'em in a book, but we flew round
so when Fly was sick, that I shouldn't wonder if they got into the
wood-box."

All the while Dotty went on simpering and saying, "If you please, sir,"
every time a dish was passed her. Her singular behavior surprised
Horace, and when she took three olives, which she very much disliked,
and immediately afterwards tucked them under her plate, he said,--

"Dot, I believe you are crazy."

It was an unfortunate remark. A little more, and there would have been a
scene at the table; but Dotty, with all her self-control, forced back
the tears. "Wonder if he wanted to make me cry," thought she; "but I
won't cry. And he needn't think he can make me 'mad' either. S'pose I'd
show temper right before these people?"

On the whole, Dotty contrived to keep up appearances, and no one but
Horace and the youth opposite noticed her much, or suspected her of
being an idiot. But the moment dinner was over, she stole away from the
party, and found her way up-stairs to Mrs. Pragoff's room. There, on the
outside of the bed, lay Fly, half undressed, and still very pale.

"Gas-light makes folks look _gas_-ly," thought Dotty, "but she isn't
much sick, or Horace wouldn't have eaten any dinner. There, when I first
got a peek at this bed-quilt, I thought it was so queer; and now I'm
going to see what it's made of."

Instead of a common coverlet, the bed was adorned with two enormous
crimson satin cushions stuffed with swan's down. The cushion on the
lower half of the bed was two feet deep, to cover the lower part of the
body, and the one at the upper part not quite so thick, for it was to
cover the shoulders. Then a sheet of the finest linen was turned over at
the top and sides, and buttoned on to the cushions. The pillows were of
crimson silk, the bedstead enormously high, and carved all over with
figures of gods and goddesses.

Dotty stood gazing with surprise, and almost forgetting her trouble.

"She must have brought it over from Poland when she ran away, only it's
so heavy. But then I don't s'pose she ran on foot. Came in the night, in
the cars, prob'ly. Poland's up by the North Pole. I'm going to ask
auntie about it."

But the moment auntie came into her thoughts Dotty was wretched again.
She went to a window, drew back the damask curtain, and gazed out.

    "The night came on alone,
    The little stars sat, one by one,
    Each on his golden throne."

"Those stars twinkle like auntie's rings. Let's see: one was full of
little pieces of glass, about as big as raspberry seeds. I shouldn't
think glass would cost much. And the other was red, like a drop of
blood, with ice frozen over it. That can't be so expensive, should you
think, as a string of beads?"

Dotty tried hard to comfort herself, but could not stay comforted.

"You don't s'pose auntie's jewels cost more than my papa is worth? How
he must feel to be so poor! If he has to pay for those rings, we shan't
get enough to eat. Have to live on crackers and olives. And when we come
to the table, father will look at me, and say, 'This is on the account
of your naughty conduct, child!' O, dear! I can't speak one word, for it
will be true, what he says. Grandma Read will have enough to eat; Norah
will set it on her end of the table. Grandma is rich; I've seen her
counting over bills in her desk; but how could I ask her for any, when
she'd look right in my eyes, and say, 'What was thee doing with other
folks' rings on thy thumbs?'

"Well, I know 'twasn't right; but 'twas Prudy's fault some. If she
hadn't told me not to so hard, I _persume_ I shouldn't. What made her
speak up, and get me started?

"O, did you ever see such a beautiful string of beads? One, two,
three,--I guess there are a thousand."

Dotty threw the necklace over her head, and the air became as fragrant as
a garden of spices.

"I don't mean to meddle with other peoples' things any more; mother has
taught me better. But there's one thought keeps coming into my mind:
Isn't it wicked to have so much jewelry? The 'postles didn't wear any,
nor Job didn't wear any, nor Moses.

"Well, nor auntie don't, either. Nothing but a watch and wedding-ring.
Horace says that's so queer.

"Now, what's the use of it, just to lock up away from the _morths_? I
don't believe auntie knows how many rings there were in that casket!"

This was a new idea. Dotty's eyes began to sparkle. They would have made
a jeweller's fortune if he could have put them in a gold setting, and
sold them for sapphires.

"The rings are somewhere round. I'm sure I can find them; but if I
can't, will it be very wrong not to tell, when 'twouldn't make the least
difference, and auntie never wears 'em? Ought never to have 'em at all;
ought to have the ornaments of meek and quiet spirits, instead of rings.

"Prudy would think 'twas awful not to tell; but Prudy can't say anything
to me. Didn't she get mad yesterday, real, shaky mad? 'Twas a great deal
wickeder for her than it is for me--her disposition is real good, and
mine was born awful. So Prudy can't say a word to me about anything I
do.

"And I declare, who wants to eat olives and fried pork? Prudy wouldn't
like it any better'n I do. She would _think_ she'd tell, but p'haps she
wouldn't any quicker'n me.

"All just for two old rings, that never did me any good, and didn't have
much of a time keeping house, either."

"Dotty Dimple, you here?" said Prudy, appearing at her sister's elbow,
like an accusing angel. "Why, I've been hunting you all over the house.
You mustn't wear that on your neck; it is a rosary; it doesn't belong to
you."

"Prudy little knows how my heart's broken," thought Dotty, "or she
wouldn't talk about beads. And me wanting to go home so I could 'most
fly, just to find those rings."

"I have been hunting for you," repeated Prudy. "Mrs. Pragoff sent a man
over to Uncle Augustus's to find out whether they came to-night in the
cars; but they didn't. There was a letter that uncle wasn't able; but
they'll come to-morrow afternoon."

"That's splendid," thought Dotty; "now I'll have to-night and all
to-morrow forenoon to hunt."

"And then Mrs. Pragoff said we might just as well stay here all night as
to go home," continued Prudy.

"O, dear, dear! we're not going to stay here. Prudy Parlin? Why didn't
you come and ask if I was willing?"

"I did hunt for you, Dotty, but I couldn't find you. I thought you'd
like to stay. They are playing so beautifully down stairs. I'm just
proud of Horace; he acts like a little gentleman."

"I don't care how Horace acts, and I don't want to play with people
that have their hair frizzed. I want to go back to auntie's.'

"But you can't, Dotty. Mrs. Pragoff has sent to Mrs. Fixfax for our
night-dresses."

Dotty rolled herself up in the curtain, and screamed into the folds of
it.

"Why, Dotty, what am I going to do with you? Please come down, and
behave."

"O, Prudy, I don't want ever to go down again. I don't want ever to see
folks, or behave, as long as I live."

"But, Dotty, all these little boys and girls came here just to see us.
It is our Christmas party. You'll mortify Mrs. Pragoff. You know how Fly
mortified her this morning. Please _don't_ be contrary."

Dotty unrolled herself from the curtain with a triumphant smile.

"You needn't say anything, Prudy Parlin! You got mad your own self, I
s'pose you know!"

Prudy's eyes dropped suddenly.

"But, Dotty, why do you want to go back to auntie's to-night?"

"I want to go for something particular. I--" Prudy's mouth was opening
for another question. "Because I---I've swallowed something the wrong
way."

"O Dotty, not a pin!"

"No; what you s'pose? Guess I've done something to my windpipe. Wish you
wouldn't talk."

Prudy, in spite of her vexation, could not help smiling at Dotty's
fierce grimaces, of which she got a vanishing view as the child went
into the curtain again.

"If we don't go home, Prudy, I'll have to go right to bed. I don't feel
like sitting up."

"Then I must ask Mrs. Pragoff where we are to sleep."

And next minute Prudy was half way down stairs, thinking,--

"What's gone wrong? I never can find out by asking _her_. She don't
think or care how impolite she is, and how hard she makes it for me."

It was a very brilliant party, composed of some of the most refined and
accomplished little people in the city of New York. Such fine dresses
and such die-away manners overawed Prudy. She did wish her mamma had
sent a thin summer dress in the trunk. It was dreadful to have to wear
woollen, high-necked and long-sleeved. It cost her a great effort to
cross the room. She felt as awkward as a limping grasshopper in a crowd
of butterflies. But reaching her hostess at last, she timidly
whispered,--

"My sister _says_ she isn't very well, Mrs. Pragoff, and that's why she
stays up stairs. If you please, perhaps she'd better go to bed."

Prudy was very much ashamed to say this; but politeness required her to
make some excuse for wayward Dotty's behavior.

Of course Mrs. Pragoff went up stairs at once. At the sound of her
steps, and the words, "You poor, forlorn little dear," Dotty came out of
the curtain, looking as miserable as could be desired.

"I am so sorry, darling! I wished you to become acquainted with these
nice little gentlemen and ladies."

"But I--I--it hurts me to talk, ma'am."

"_Your_ throat, too? O, my love!" cried Mrs. Pragoff, seeing a dreadful
vision, with her mind's eye, of two cases of scarlet fever. She was a
childless widow, and children puzzled as well as interested her. She
did not know what to make of Dotty's confused statement that she "wasn't
sick and wasn't well," but undressed and put her to bed as if she had
been six months old, resolving to send for the doctor in the morning.

"What have you on your neck, precious? O, that rosary. It is one of my
curiosities. Do you fancy it?"

"Here is the box in which it belongs. I give you the box and the beads,
my charming dear, for a Christmas present and a consolation. See the
card at the bottom of the box:--

                      "'Life is a rosary,
    Strung with the beads of little deeds
    Done humbly, Lord, as unto Thee.'

"I hope your life will be the most beautiful of rosaries, darling, and
all your little deeds as lovely as these beads.

"And now, good night, and may the Christ-Child give you your dreams."

As soon as Dotty was alone, she covered her head with the bed-clothes,
and made up faces. She wished she could push herself through the
footboard, and come out at Portland. She never wished to set eyes on the
city of New York again, or anybody that lived in it.



CHAPTER IX.

TWO LIVE CHILDREN.


As Dotty lay tossing on her bed, she heard the laughing, and the lively
music of the piano, and began to find she had missed a great deal by not
going down stairs.

Horace and Prudy were getting a taste of fashionable society. True,
Prudy did tire of the fixed questions, "How do you like New York? Have
you been in the Park?" asked by girls in pink, and girls in blue, and
boys in wondrous neck-ties, with hair parted very near the middle. She
was astonished when Mrs. Pragoff proposed games. How could such
exquisite children play without tearing their flounces and deranging
their criêped hair? But games were a relief to Prudy. When she was
playing she forgot her thick winter dress, and appeared like herself.

"I don't believe Dotty can get to sleep in all this noise. Here's a nice
chance to slip out, and I'll run up and see."

She was not quite sure of the room, but the words, "Is that you, Prudy?"
in an aggrieved voice, showed her the way.

"How do you feel, darling?"

"Feel? How'd _you_ feel going to bed right after dinner?"

"But you said you were sick."

"Well, yes; my--windpipe; but that's done aching. I can talk now. You
get my clothes, and I'll dress and go down stairs."

"Why, Dotty, I've excused you to Mrs. Pragoff, and it wouldn't be polite
to go now."

"Why not? Mother went down once with her head tied up in vinegar.
Besides, it shakes me all over to hear such a noise. And it's not polite
to stay away when the party's some of it for me."

Prudy resigned herself to this new mortification, and helped the child
dress.

Dotty went down stairs with such an appearance of restored health, that
Mrs. Pragoff was quite relieved, and gave up her fear of scarlet fever.
But Miss Dimple's friends were all sorry, half an hour afterwards, that
she had not staid in bed.

Among other games, they played "Key to Unlock Characters;" and here she
proved herself anything but polished in her manners. The key coming to
her as "the girl with the brightest eyes," she was told, in a whisper,
to give it to the person of whom she had such or such an opinion. The
little boys were interested to know which one of them would get it, for
it was usually considered a compliment. But Dotty did not notice any of
the boys; she quickly stepped up to a young girl with frizzes of hair
falling into her eyes, and gay streamers of ribbons flying abroad.
Little miss took the key with an affected smile and a shake of her
shaggy locks, never doubting she was receiving a great honor.

But when, at the close of the game, the players explained themselves,
Mallie Lewis was startled by these words from the little Portland
girl:--

"I was told to give the key to the most horrid-looking person in the
room, and _I did so_!"

Dotty had not stopped to reflect that "the truth should not be spoken at
all times," and is often out of place in games of amusement. But to do
her justice, she was ashamed of her rudeness the moment the words were
spoken. Prudy was blushing from the roots of her hair to the lace in her
throat. "Why hadn't Dotty given the key to Horace or herself? Then
nobody would have minded."

Ah, Prudy, your little sister, though more brilliant than you are, has
not your exquisite tact.

Mrs. Pragoff tried to laugh off this awkward blunder, but did not
succeed. The moment Dotty could catch her ear, she said, in a low
tone,--

"I'm so sorry, Mrs. Pragoff-yetski. Will it do any good to go and tell
her she made me think of a Shetland pony?"

Mrs. Pragoff laughed, and thought not. But afterwards she took Mallie
into a corner to show her some "seven-years" African flowers, and
said,--

"Mallie, dear, I wish you wouldn't veil those bright eyes under such
fuzzy little curls. That was why you got the key. Dotty Dimple isn't
used to seeing young ladies look like Shetland ponies."

Mallie's face brightened, or that part of it which was in sight. O, it
was only her hair the country child called horrid! After this she
actually allowed Dotty to sit beside her on the sofa, and look at the
fan which Mrs. Pragoff said Marie Antoinette had once owned. Miss Dimple
was remarkably polite and reserved.

"Safe as long as she stays in a corner," thought Horace; and he took
care to keep her supplied with books and pictures.

He enjoyed the party, not being overawed, as poor Prudy was. Wasn't he
as good as any of them? Better than most, for he didn't have to use an
eye-glass. "These fellows are got up cheap. What do hair-oil and
perfumery amount to?"

The boys, in their turn, looked at Horace, and decided he was
"backwoodsy." Nobody who sported a silver watch could belong to the
"first circles." However, when he allowed himself to be "Knight of the
Whistle," and hunted for the enchanted thing which everybody was
blowing, and found at last it was dangling down his own back from a
string, and they were all laughing at him, he was manly enough not to
get vexed. That carried him up several degrees in every one's esteem. In
his own, too, I confess.

As for Prudy, the girls could not help seeing she had no style; but the
boys liked her, for all that. If they had only known what their hostess
thought, there would have been some surprise.

"These little misses look to me like bonnet flowers made out of
book-muslin. Prudy, now, is a genuine, fresh moss rose bud. There is no
comparison, you dear little Prudy, between artificial and natural
flowers!"

Mrs. Pragoff was called a "finished lady." She was acquainted with some
of the best people in Europe and America. What could she see in Prudy?
The child was not to be compared with these exquisite little creatures,
who had maids to dress them, and foreign masters come to their houses
and teach them French, music, and dancing. Why, Prudy did not know
French from Hebrew; she had only learned a few tunes on the piano, and
could not sing "operatic" to save her life; her dancing was generally
done on one foot. What was the charm in Prudy?

Just one thing--_Naturalness_. She was not made after a pattern.

"It was a great risk inviting them here, and that youngest one seems
very delicate; but let what will happen, I make a note of this: I have
seen four live children."

Live children indeed! And here comes one of them now--the unaccountable
Fly, darting into the room very unexpectedly, rubbing her eyes as she
runs.

"Why, Topknot!" cried Horace, making a dash upon her; for her frock was
unfastened, and slipping off at the shoulders, and her head looked like
a last year's bird's nest.

"Scusa me," whispered the "live child," very much astonished to see such
a crowd.

"But you ought not to come down here half undressed, you little midget!"

"What if I wanted to ask you sumpin?" stammered the child, more alarmed
by her brother's sternness than by the fire of strange eyes. "'Spec' I
mus' have my froat _goggled_; have some more _poke-rime_ round it,
Hollis!" added she, in a tone loud enough to be heard by half the party.

Think of mentioning "poke-rime" in fashionable society!

"Tell her she must dance 'Little Zephyrs,' or you'll send her right
back," suggested Prudy, who was famous for thinking of the right thing
at the right time, and so making awkward affairs pass off well.

"Yes, Fly, come out in the floor, and dance 'Little Zephyrs' this
minute, or you must go back to bed."

Anything for the sake of staying down stairs. Hardly conscious of the
strange faces about her, the child flew into the middle of the room,
rubbed some more sleep out of her eyes, and began to sing,--

    "Little zephyrs, light and gay,
    First to tell us of the spring."

She seemed to float on air. There was not a bit of her body that was not
in motion, from the tuft of hair a-top of her head to the soles of her
twinkling boots. Now here, now there, head nodding, hands waving, feet
flying.

"Encore," cried the delighted hostess. "Please, darling, let us hear
that last verse again."

Mrs. Pragoff was curious to know what sort of jargon she made of the
lines,--

    "Where the modest violets grow,
    And the fair anemone."

Fly repeated it with an exquisite sweetness which charmed the whole
house:--

    "Where the modest _vilets_ grow,
    And the _fairy men no more know me_."

"The fairies do all know you, darling." exclaimed Mrs. Pragoff, kissing
her rapturously.

    "Your feet are more light than a faery's feet,
    Who dances on bubbles where brooklets meet."

"There! Dancing on bubbles!" said Prudy aside to Horace. "That's just
what I always wanted to call it, but never knew how."

On the whole it was a pleasant evening, and Mrs. Pragoff had no reason
to regret having given the little party. Everybody went to bed happy but
Dotty, who could not shut her eyes without seeing the blaze of two
rings, which burned into her brain.



CHAPTER X.

RIDING ON JACK FROST.


Fly slept in a little cot beside her hostess's bed. Mrs. Pragoff, poor
lady, reclined half the night on her elbow, watching the child's
breathing; but, to her inexpressible relief, nothing happened that was
at all alarming. Fly only waked once in the night, and asked in a drowsy
tone, "Have I got a measle?"

But just as Mrs. Pragoff was enjoying a morning nap, a pair of little
feet went pricking over the floor, towards the girls' room, but soon
returned, and a sweet young voice cried,--

"O, Miss Perdigoff, I can't wake up Dotty!"

"Can't wake her, child!"

"No'm, I can't; nor Prudy can't: we can't wake up Dotty."

Mrs. Pragoff roused at once, with a new cause for alarm.

"Why, what does this mean? Did you try hard to wake her?"

"Yes'm; I shaked her."

Mrs. Pragoff now remembered, with terror, that there had been a little
trouble with Dotty's windpipe. Could she have choked to death?

Rising instantly, she threw on her wrapper, and was hurrying across the
passage, when Fly added,--

"'Haps she'll let _you_ wake her; she wouldn't let me 'n' Prudy."

"You little mischief, is that what you mean? She won't _let_ you wake
her?"

"No'm, she won't," replied artless Fly; "she said she wouldn't be
_bovvered_."

Mrs. Pragoff went to bed again, laughing at her own folly.

Dotty, it seems, was feeling very much like a bitter-sour apple. It had
always been a peculiarity of hers to visit her own sins upon other
people. Prudy did not suspect in the least what the matter was, but
knew, from experience, it was safest to ask no questions.

"I'm going back to auntie's, this morning."

"Why, Dotty, Uncle Augustus and auntie won't be home till night. Mrs.
Pragoff said she would take us to the Park and the Museum, you know."

"I don't care how much you go to parks and museums, Prudy; I want to be
at home long enough to get my hair brushed and put away my things."

Prudy looked up in surprise; but the rousing-bell sounded, and both the
little girls had as much as they could do to get ready for breakfast.
When Mrs. Pragoff met them in the parlor, she saw two lovely dimples
playing in Dotty's cheeks; for the child was old enough, and had pride
enough, to conceal her disagreeable feelings from strangers. All very
well, only she might have carried the concealment a little farther, and
spared poor Prudy much discomfort.

Not that Prudy thought of complaining,--for really her younger sister's
temper was greatly improved. For a year or two she had scarcely been
known to get seriously angry, and Prudy did not mind a sharp retort now
and then, or even an hour's sulks.

While Dotty sipped her chocolate from a cup so delicate that it looked
like a gilded bubble, she was wondering how she could get home. She did
not know the way, and could not ask any one to go with her without
making up an excuse.

"I could say I am sick, but that wouldn't be true, and me eating muffins
and honey. I'm afraid 'twasn't quite true last night. I did feel rather
funny, though, in my windpipe, now honest."

There seemed to be no other way but to wait and go home with the rest of
the children. Dotty tried to think there might be time enough, after
all, to find the rings.

They started for the Park.

"May I depend upon you, Master Horace, to take the entire charge of your
little sister!" said Mrs. Pragoff, fastening her ermine cloak with
fingers which actually trembled; "I confess I haven't the courage; and
I see you understand managing her perfectly."

Of course Horace always expected to take care of Topknot. He would
gladly have done a much harder thing for a lady who was so polite, and
appreciated him so well.

Mrs. Pragoff gave a hand to Prudy and Dotty, saying gayly, as they all
five took a car for the Park,--

    "'Sound the trumpet, beat the drum;
    Tremble, France; we come! we come!'"

There was just enough snow to whiten the ground, but none to spare.
Everybody was determined to make the most of it while it lasted, and the
Park was full of people sleigh-riding. It was really a wonderful sight.
There were miles and miles of sleighs of all sorts, shaped like
sea-shells, cradles, boats, water-lilies, or any other fanciful things.
The people in them were so gay with various colors, that they looked
like long lines of rainbows. Many of the horses had silver-mounted
harnesses, and on their necks stood up little silver trees, branching
out into sleigh-bells, and sprinkling the air with merry music.

"See, children, let us ride in this beautiful sleigh; it is shaped like
a Spanish gondola, and we ought to have music as we float."

"Fly can sing the 'Shepherd's Pipe coming over the Mountains,'" said
Dotty; and forthwith the child began to warble the softest, sweetest
music from her wonderful little throat. Dotty queried privately why it
should be called the shepherd's _pipe_: how could a shepherd smoke
while he sang?

"O, how beautiful!" said everybody, when the music ceased.

They meant that everything was beautiful. The air was so balmy, and the
sky so soft, that you might fancy the sun was walking in his sleep,
writing his dreams on the white clouds.

"Splendid!" exclaimed Fly, forgetting, perhaps, that she was not a
flying-fish, and trying to dive head first out of the gondola.

"Tell me, children, if you don't think our Park is very fine?"

"Yes'm," was the faint reply in chorus.

"Why don't you say, 'We never saw the like before?'"

"O, we have, you know, ma'am," said Prudy; "it's just like riding round
Willow-brook."

"Fie! don't tell me there's anything so beautiful in Maine! I expect
you to be enchanted every step of the way. Look at this pond, with, the
swans sailing on it."

"O, yes; those are beauties," cried Dotty; "I never saw any but cotton
flannel ones before. But do you think the pond is as pretty as
Bottomless Pond, Prudy, where Uncle Henry goes for pitcher-plants?"

"You prosy little creature," said Mrs. Pragoff, laughing; "I am afraid
you don't admire these picturesque rocks and tree-stumps as you should."

Dotty thought this was certainly a jest.

"Pity there's so many. Why don't they hire men to dig 'em up by the
roots?"

Horace smiled on Dotty patronizingly.

"They'll do it some time, Dot. The Park is new. Things can't be finished
in a minute, even in New York."

Mrs. Pragoff smiled quietly, but was too polite to tell Horace the
rocks had been brought there as an ornament, at great expense.

"I like the Park, if it isn't finished," said Prudy, summoning all her
enthusiasm; "I know you'll laugh, Horace, but I like it better for the
rocks; they make it look like home."

The ride would have seemed perfect to everybody; only a wee sleigh
passed them, drawn by a pair of goats, and Fly thought at once how much
better a "goat-hossy" must be than a "growned-up hossy, that didn't have
no horns." She thought about it so much, that at last she could contain
herself no longer. "There was little girls in that pony-sleigh, Miss
Perdigoff, with a boy a-drivin.' 'Haps they'd let me go, too, if _you_
asked 'em, Miss Perdigoff. My mamma don't 'low me to trouble nobody,
and I shan't; only I thought I'd let you know I wanted to go, Miss
Perdigoff."

Mrs. Pragoff laughed heartily, and thought Fly should certainly have a
ride, "ahind the goat-horses;" but it was not possible, as the cunning
little sleigh was engaged for hours in advance.

A visit to the Zoological Gardens comforted the little one, however,
after she got over her first fear of the animals. There they saw a
vulture, like a lady in a cell, looking sadly out of a window, the train
of her grey and brown dress trailing on the ground. Horace thought of
Lady Jane Grey in prison.

There was a white stork holding his red nose against his bosom, as if to
warm it. A red macaw peeling an apple with his bill. Brown ostriches,
like camels, walking slowly about, as if they had great care on their
minds.

Green monkeys biting sticks and climbing bars. A spotted leopard,
licking his feet like a cat. A fierce panther, looking out of a window
in the same discontented mood as the vulture.

"See him stoop down," said Dotty; "he makes as much bones of himself as
he can."

A horned owl, with eyes like auntie's when she looks "'stonished."

An eagle, with a face, Horace said, like a very cute lawyer.

A "speckled bear," without any spectacles. A "nelephant" like a great
hill of stone, and a baby "nelephant," with ears like ruffled aprons.

An anaconda that "kept making a dandelion of himself."

A great grizzly bear hugging a young grizzly daughter.

"Who made that _grizzle_?" asked Fly, disgusted.

"God."

"Why did He? I wouldn't!--Miss Perdegoff, which does God love best,
great ugly _grizzles_ or hunkydory little parrots?"

"O, fie!" said Mrs. Pragoff, really shocked; "where did a well-bred
child like you ever hear such a coarse word as that?"

"Hollis says hunkydory," replied Fly, with her finger in her mouth,
while Horace pretended to be absorbed in a monkey.

Mrs. Pragoff turned the subject.

"Tell me, children, which do you consider the most wonderful animal you
have ever seen?"

"The lion," replied Prudy.

"The whale," said Dotty. "Which do you, Mrs. Pragoff?"

"This sort of animal, that _thinks_," replied the lady, touching Dotty's
shoulder: "this shows the most amazing power of all."

"You don't mean to call me an animal," said Dotty, with a slight shade
of resentment in her voice.

"Why, little sister, I just hope you're not a vegetable! Don't you know
we are all animals that breathe?"

"O, are we? Then I don't care," said Dotty, and serenely followed the
others up stairs, "where the dried things were."

Next they went to Wood's Museum, and saw greater wonders still.

The "Sleeping Beauty," dreaming of the Prince, with lips just parted and
breath very gently coming and going. Dotty would not believe at first
that her waxen bosom palpitated by clockwork.

There were distorted mirrors, which Horace held Flyaway up to peep
into, that he might enjoy her bewilderment when she saw her face twisted
into strange shapes.

The Cardiff Giant, which Horace said "you might depend upon was a hoax."

An Egyptian dromedary, which Fly "just knew" had a sore throat; and a
stuffed gorilla in "buffalo coat and leather gloves."

Then they had a lunch at Delmonico's, quite as good, Prudy admitted, "as
what you found in Boston."

After this, to Dotty's dismay, they went to the Academy of Design, and
criticised pictures.

The statue of Eve Horace regarded with some contempt. "No wonder she
didn't know any better than to eat the apple! What do you expect of a
woman with such a small head as that? Look here who do you suppose was
Eve's shoemaker? Cain?"

"Shoemaker? Why, Horace, she's barefoot."

"So she is, now, Dot; but she's worn shoes long enough to cramp her
toes."

"Strange I never noticed that before," said Mrs. Pragoff. "I think the
sculptor ought to know your criticism, Master Horace."

"She's a woman that understands what a boy is worth," thought Horace,
very much flattered. "Tell you what, I never saw a more sensible person
than Mrs. Pragoff."

"Now, dears, shall we go to Stewart's?"

"O, no'm; please don't," cried Dotty. "Because," added she, checking
herself, "their curtains are all down; and don't you s'spose Mr.
Stewart and the clerks have gone off somewhere?"

Mrs. Pragoff laughed, but, concluding the child was very tired, proposed
going home; and, to Dotty's great joy, they started at once.

"I shall so grieve to part with you!" said Mrs. Pragoff, as they went
along. "I wish you were mine to keep, every soul of you."

But Dotty noticed that while she spoke she was looking at Prudy.



CHAPTER XI.

THE JEWEL CABINET.


Alas for the diamond and the ruby rings! New York is "a city of
magnificent distances," and by the time the children were safely at
home, there was a great stir through the house. Colonel Allen and wife
had come. Too late now to think of hunting for anything.

"Where are my little folks?" rang Uncle Augustus's cheery voice through
the hall; and in he came, not looking ill in the least. His eyes were as
black as ever, and he carried just as much flesh on his tall, large
frame. Somehow, he cheered one's heart like an open fire. So did Aunt
Madge. There wasn't so much of her in size, but there was what you might
call a "warm tone" over her whole face, which made you think of sunshine
and fair weather. So in walked "an open fire" and a "ray of sunshine,"
and "took off their things." Of course there were laughing and kissing;
and Fly, without being requested, hugged Uncle 'Gustus like a little
"grizzle."

"Sorry I cried so 'bout you bein' sick. Didn't 'spect you'd get well."

"Beg pardon for disappointing you. How many tears, did you waste, little
Crocodile? Why, children, you're as welcome, all of you, as crocuses in
spring. But no; it's you who should bid _us_ welcome. I understand you
are keeping house, and auntie and I have come visiting?"

"O, no, no, no," cried Prudy; "we've got all over that; and I tell you,
auntie, now you've come home, I feel as if an elephant had rolled right
off my heart."

"Why, I hope nothing serious has happened," said Mrs. Allen, looking at
the pile of nutshells Fly had just dropped on the carpet, and at Dotty's
cloak, which lay beside Horace's cap on the piano-stool.

"Yes'm, there is sumpin happened," spoke up Fly from the floor, where
she sat with "chestnuts in her lap, and munched, and munched, and
munched." "I've had the fever, but I didn't die in it."

"She wasn't much sick, auntie; but it frightened us. Mrs. Fixfax rolled
her up six yards deep in blankets, and we thought 'what is home without
a mother?' And then, you see, I didn't know the least thing about
cooking, for all I pretended. I tell you, auntie, it's very different
not to have anybody to ask how to do things."

"Such messes, you ought to seen 'em, auntie," struck in Dotty, without
the least pity.

"Pshaw! we didn't starve, nor anywhere near it," cried Horace. "I
wouldn't say anything, Dot, for Prue worked like a Trojan, and you
dawdled round with rings on your thumbs."

At the mention of rings, Dotty blushed, and stole a glance at Mrs.
Allen.

"See, auntie," said she, taking off her rosary, "this is my Christmas
present; but it doesn't make me a Catholic--does it?"

"How beautiful, my child! A full rosary of one hundred and fifty beads.
It is called 'a chaplet of spiritual roses.' Red, white, and damask.
Pray, who could have given it to you?"

"A lady that ran away from Poland. Now don't you know? Sleeps with a
feather bed over her, covered with satin."

"Mrs. Pragoff? You haven't been to her house?"

"Yes'm, we did, and to her church in Trinity; and she made a party for
us, and we staid all night."

"That's a remarkable joke," said Colonel Allen, rubbing his hands. "She
must have had a bee in her bonnet with all these rollicking children
round her."

"No'm, she never; but I had the nosy-bleed on the _pew-quishon_ awful.
Had to be tookened home. Didn't eat no supper."

"You don't tell me there was a scene in church," cried Aunt Madge,
looking at Uncle Augustus, who rubbed his hands again, and laughed
heartily. "How happened you to go, Horace?"

"It wasn't my doings, auntie. Topknot had been lying in a steam all
night, and I told Mrs. Fixfax she wasn't fit to go out of the house;
but no attention was paid to what _I_ said. Notice was served on me to
take the little thing off visiting, and I had to obey. But I tell you I
was thankful she didn't do anything worse than to bump her nose, though
she did scream murder, and we followed her out in a straight line."

"And this transpired at Trinity Church," said Colonel Allen, intensely
amused. "Rather severe for a woman who worships Saint Grundy."

"Saint who? I thought she was queer, or she wouldn't run away," said
Dotty, much shocked.

"Fie, Augustus!" said Aunt Madge, who was laughing herself. "I wouldn't
have had this happen on any account. Mrs. Pragoff asked me, before the
children came, if I would let them visit her; but I gave her no decided
answer; thought, perhaps I might go with them just to drink tea. But
the idea of her taking them while I was gone! And her house so full of
elegant little trifles! How much did Fly break?"

"Nothing, auntie," replied Horace. "I didn't let her stir but I was
after her. I flatter myself I saved considerable property."

"There, Margery, don't mind it," said Uncle Augustus. "Mrs. Pragoff
needed all this mortification to humble her pride. Come here, Fly;
here's a bonbon for you. They say you are going about doing good without
any more intention of it than the goose that saved Rome."

"That reminds me to inquire," said Aunt Madge, "if Fly's blind girl came
that day?"

"Yes, auntie, and she was so sorry you were gone; but they will be here
again to-morrow."

"It was too bad to disappoint her," said Aunt Madge, with such lovely
pity in her face that Prudy seized one of her hands and kissed it.

"I tell you what it is," broke in Dotty; "I always thought Mrs. Pragoff
must be queer as soon as I heard she came from Poland, where grandma's
cropple-crown hen came from; don't you remember, Prudy? the one that
hatched the duck's eggs. But I didn't know she worshipped things. Only I
noticed that she didn't buy any black pins when those pitiful little
boys ran after us, and said, 'O, lady! please, lady!' I thought that was
mean."

"Miss Dotty Dimple, come sit on my knee, and let me explain. Mrs.
Pragoff is no heathen. She only loves to dress elegantly, and your
auntie and I sometimes think she cares too much about it, and about
what other people say. That was what I meant by her 'worshipping Saint
Grundy;' but it was ill-natured of me to criticise her. As for the black
pins, she is a remarkably benevolent woman, Puss; but she can't buy
black pins _all_ the time; you may set that down as a fact. Why, Fly,
what now?"

The child had snapped her bonbon, and, instead of candy, had found a red
paper riding cap trimmed with gold fringe; with this on her head, she
was climbing the drop-light, à la monkey. Fortunately the gas had been
lighted only in the chandelier; but three inches more, and Fly's gold
tassels would have been on fire. Uncle Augustus rose in alarm; but
Horace laughed, believing the little witch could be trusted to keep out
of fire and water.

After dinner, as they were returning to the parlor, Uncle Augustus said
to his wife,--

"Between us, Margery, I don't believe you'd dare invite that little
will-o'-the-wisp here again without her mother."

"Never," returned auntie, laughing,--

    "'Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
    And the rocks melt wi' the sun.'"

They all sat chatting around the parlor fire,--Uncle Augustus always
would have an open fire,--when Dotty slipped out unobserved, and went
round the house hunting for the lost rings. She went first to auntie's
chamber, and looked in the blue pocket; but it was empty. The wardrobe
and closet had been restored to perfect order, and the jewel cabinet was
not to be seen. Then she went slowly along to the housekeeper's room,
and knocked, with her heart in her mouth.

"How do you do, Mrs. Fixfax? Isn't it nice to get that old stove out? I
thought you'd let me come in and look to see if I've--I've left
anything."

"Certainly, dear. What have you lost?" Mrs. Fixfax went on with her
reading, and did not seem to hear Dotty's muttered answer about "running
round so when Fly was sick. Didn't know but she'd put--wasn't
sure.--Guessed not."

"Why, you see," said Dotty, to herself, as she left the room with
downcast eyes, "it's no use to hunt there. Cupboard's gone, stove's
gone. Nothing in the bathroom but soap and towels. I believe auntie's
cat has swallowed those rings."

She went back to Mrs. Allen's room, turned the gas higher, and looked
mournfully at herself in the glass.

"Shall I tell her the truth, that they're gone, and I lost them? Would
my dear Aunt Madge go and take all father's money away? Mother says we
must do what is right, and God will take care of the rest."

Just then Fly entered, followed by Mrs. Allen.

"You here, Dotty? I see my chamber is in excellent order. Let me look at
the drawers. What? My jewel cabinet? Didn't I lock that in the safe? All
right, no doubt, but I'll examine it."

She wheeled up a little easy-chair, sat down, and poured the jewels into
her lap. What were Dotty's feelings as she stood there looking on? The
gas-light seemed to turn the glittering diamonds into points of flame;
but Dotty could not help gazing.

Why, what was that? Did her eyes deceive her? That ring with glass
raspberry seeds! And, O, was it possible? The one like a drop of blood
with ice frozen over it! Both there.

She learned afterwards that Mrs. Fixfax had found the rings in the
bottom of the ivory bathing-tub, where Fly had had her "turkey wash."

Hark! Auntie was counting: "One, two, three, four. All safe. Not that I
supposed any one would meddle with my cabinet, of course."

"Auntie," burst forth Dotty, her face tingling with shame, "_I_ did. I
wore two of those rings, and lost 'em off my thumbs. I don't see how
they ever came back in that cabinet, for the only thing I know certain
true is, I never put 'em there. O, auntie, if I had't found 'em, I was
'most afraid to tell you about it, because my father's so poor."

"Child, child, you wouldn't have deceived me? I could bear anything
better than that. And, Dotty, I don't believe it of you. You would have
told the truth."

"Yes, auntie, I do guess I should. It's better to eat fried pork than to
act out a lie." What the truth had to do with eating fried pork, Aunt
Madge could not imagine; but she assured Dotty she fully believed her
when she promised not to meddle in future; and the child bounded down
stairs with a heart like a bubble.

Fly had come up to go to bed.

"I've found sumpin," cried she, peeping into a basket behind the door.
"It's got eyes, and I know it's a doggie."

"You little rogue! I didn't mean you should see that dog to-night."

"O, it's no matter 'bout me. If _Dotty'd_ seen it, she'd been
_'spectin'_ it!"

The quick-witted child knew just as well then as she did next morning,
that the dog--a King Charles spaniel--was intended for her. Mrs. Allen
was so amused that she could scarcely sing Fly's by-low hymn:---

    "Sleep, little one, like a lamb in the fold.
    Shut from the tempest, safe from the cold;
    Sleep, little one, like a star in the sky,
    Wrapped in a cloud, while the storm-wind sweeps by."

It was quite as hard to keep a grave face when Fly added to her evening
prayer the petition,--

"God f'give me speakin' a naughty word _'fore Miss Perdigoff_."

"What naughty word, darling?"

"Hunkydory," replied Fly, with a deep sense of guilt. Not that she
thought it wrong to use a coarse word, only wrong to use it "'fore Miss
Perdigoff."

Aunt Madge entered into a short explanation of the true nature of right
and wrong; but her words were thrown away, for that "curly dog" filled
every nook and corner of Fly's little mind.



CHAPTER XII.

"FOLDED EYES."


    "Folded eyes see brighter colors
    Than the open ever do."

It stormed next day; but as "brooks don't mind the weather," Maria and
her mother appeared again. When Aunt Madge went down to see them, Maria
was sitting near the dining-room door, the scarlet spots of excitement
coming and going in her cheeks. She could think of nothing but the
wonderful, unknown doctor, who would know in one moment whether she
could ever see or not.

"We hadn't ought to have come in this snow-storm, ma'am," said Mrs.
Brooks; "but poor Maria, she couldn't be denied. She said she must come,
whether or no. But of course we don't hold you to your promise, ma'am,
and I hope you don't think we're that sort of folks."

While Mrs. Brooks was talking, with her nose moving up and down, Maria's
face was turned towards Mrs. Allen, her quick ears eager to catch the
first sound of her voice. What if the word should be No? But Aunt Madge
was never known to break a child's heart.

"Who minds a snow-storm?" said she, gayly. "I love it as well as any
snow-bird. I am very sorry you were disappointed the other day. I'll
have my wraps on in two minutes."

The children watched from the bay-window as John came round with the
carriage, and the three ladies got in.

"She's a rare one," remarked Horace, with a sweep of his thumb.

"Who? Maria?"

"No, Dot; the one in front; the handsomest woman in the city of New
York. Tell you what, 'tisn't everybody would go round and look up the
poor the way she does; and she rich as mud, too."

"Why, Horace, that's the very reason she ought to do it. What would be
the use of her being rich if she didn't?"

"Poh!" said Horace, with a look of unspeakable wisdom. "Much as you
know, Prue. Rich people are the stingiest in the world. The fact is, the
more you have, the more you don't give away."

"O, what a story!" said Dotty. "The more I have, the more I do--I mean I
_shall_, if I ever get my meeting-house full."

Horace laughed heartily.

"What'd I say now, Horace Clifford?"

"I was only thinking, Dot, that's what's the matter with everybody;
they're waiting to get their meeting-houses full."

Dotty did not understand the remark, but thought it safe to pout.

"I can't help thinking about that poor Maria," said Prudy. "Do you
suppose, Horace, the doctor can help her?"

"Yes, I presume he can. It will probably take him about five minutes,"
replied Master Horace, as decidedly as if he had studied medicine all
his days. "But do you suppose he'll do it for nothing? Not if he knows
it. He'll see the carriage, and find out auntie has money; and then
won't he make her pay over? Just the way with 'em, Prue. He's one of
these doctors that's rolling in gold."

"Rollin' in gold," repeated Fly, thinking how hard that must be for
him, and how it would hurt.

But Horace was quite mistaken. The doctor did not say one word about
money. He asked Mrs. Brooks to tell him just how and when Maria had
begun to grow blind. And though she made a tedious story of it, he
listened patiently till she said,--

"Now, doctor, I am poor, and we've been unfortunate, and I don't know as
I shall be able to pay you, and I--"

"No matter for that, my good woman. I shan't charge you one penny. Don't
take up my time talking about money. It's my business to talk about
eyes. Lead the child to the window."

The scarlet spots in Maria's cheeks faded, leaving her very pale. She
held her breath. Would the doctor ever stop pulling open her eyelids?
It was not half a minute, though. Then he spoke:--

"Madam, are you willing to do exactly as I say? Can you both be patient?
If so, I have hope of this child."

Maria swayed forward at these words, and Mrs. Allen caught her in her
arms. Mrs. Brooks ran around in a maze, crying, "We've killed her! we've
killed her!" and wildly took up a case of instruments, to do, she knew
not what; but the doctor stopped her, and dashed a little water in
Maria's face.

When the dear little girl came out of her swoon, she was murmuring to
herself,--

"I thought God would be willing! I thought God would be willing!"

She did not know any one heard her. Mrs. Brooks rushed up to her.

"You are the best man alive, Maria," said she.

Then she turned to the doctor, calling him "my dear little girl," and
might have kissed him if he had not laughed.

"Why, I beg your pardon, sir," cried she, blushing. "I don't believe I
know what I am about."

"I don't believe you do, either, so I'll give my message to this other
lady. I want the little girl to come again to-morrow without fail. It is
well I saw her so soon. A few weeks longer, and she could not have been
helped."

"You don't say so, doctor! And I never thought of coming. I shouldn't
have stirred a step if it hadn't been for this good, kind Mrs. Allen. O,
what an amazing world this is!"

"And you know, Mrs. Brooks," returned Aunt Madge, "I should never have
heard of you if my baby niece hadn't run away. As you say, it is an
amazing world!"

"And there's One above who rules it," said the doctor, as he bowed them
out.

"Yes, there's One above who rules it," thought happy Maria, riding home
in the carriage. "If I've asked Him once, I've asked Him five thousand
times, and somehow I knew He'd attend to it after a while."

"O, what did the doctor say to her? What did he do?" cried the children,
the moment their aunt appeared in the parlor.

"He says he can cure her if she will only be patient."

Prudy screamed for joy.

"O, dear! why didn't he cure her right off?" cried Dotty. "We s'posed
she was seeing like everything."

"Why, child, do you expect things are going to be done by steam?" said
Horace, forgetting he had calculated it would take about five minutes.

"Well, if he didn't had no steam, he could 'a' tookened the sidders, and
picked 'em open," sniffed Fly, who had great contempt for slow people.

"Ah, little Hopelover," laughed auntie, "you're like us grown folks all
the world over, scolding about what you don't understand."

       *       *       *       *       *

A few more days were spent in uninterrupted happiness. Fly declared
"Santa Claus _is_ a darlin'," when she received the King Charles
spaniel, which, by the way, had not been purchased without the full
consent of Horace, who was even willing, for his little sister's sake,
to take him home in the cars.

The youth, in his turn, was made happy by the gift of a silver-mounted
rifle; while Prudy rejoiced in a rosewood writing desk, and Dotty in a
gold pen.

"All's well that ends well." Uncle Augustus was at home, and that in
itself was as good as most fairy stories. Fly had the kindness to "stay
found" for the rest of the visit, and did not even take another cold.
Dotty was unmixed sweetness. Maria came every day with such a beaming
face that it was delightful to see her.

Mrs. Pragoff asked for all their photographs, and gave the Parlins some
Polish mittens to carry home to their mother.

"I s'pose you know," said Dotty, privately to Prudy, "there's not
another girl at my school been to New York, and treated with such
attention; but O, I tell you, I shan't be proud. I shall always love
Tate Penny just the same."

When the day came to separate, it went hard with them all.

"Just as we got to having a good time," said Dotty, her face in a hard
knot.

"But we shall all meet next summer," said Prudy, hopefully.

"I don't want to wait," moaned Fly, going into her pocket-hangfiss--all
but her back hair and the rest of her body.

I have a great mind to let her stay there till we come to the next book,
which is, AUNT MADGE'S STORY, TOLD BY HERSELF.



[Illustration: SOPHIE MAY'S "LITTLE-FOLKS" BOOKS.]

"The authoress of THE LITTLE PRUDY STORIES would be elected
Aunty-laureate if the children had an opportunity, for the
wonderful books she writes for their amusement. She is the
Dickens of the nursery, and we do not hesitate to say develops
the rarest sort of genius in the specialty of depicting smart
little children."--_Hartford Post_.

LEE AND SHEPARD, PUBLISHERS, BOSTON.



SOPHIE MAY'S "LITTLE-FOLKS" BOOKS.

[Illustration: Sophie May]

"The children will not be left without healthful entertainment and
kindly instruction so long as SOPHIE MAY (Miss Rebecca S. Clarke)
lives and wields her graceful pen in their behalf. Miss CLARKE has
made a close and loving study of childhood, and she is almost
idolized by the crowd of 'nephews and nieces' who claim her as aunt.
Nothing to us can ever be quite so delightfully charming as were the
'Dotty Dimple' and the 'Little Prudy' books to our youthful
imagination, but we have no doubt the little folks of to-day will
find the story of 'Flaxie Frizzle' and her young friends just as
fascinating. There is a sprightliness about all of Miss CLARKE'S
books that attracts the young, and their purity, their absolute
_cleanliness_, renders them invaluable in the eyes of parents and
all who are interested in the welfare, of children."--_Morning
Star_.

"Genius comes in with 'Little Prudy.' Compared with her, all other
book-children are cold creations of literature; she alone is the
real thing. All the quaintness of children, its originality, its
tenderness and its teasing, its infinite uncommon drollery, the
serious earnestness of its fun, the fun of its seriousness, the
naturalness of its plays, and the delicious oddity of its progress,
all these united for dear Little Prudy to embody them."--_North
American Review_.



SOPHIE MAY'S "LITTLE-FOLKS" BOOKS.

[Illustration: LITTLE PRUDY STORIES

BY SOPHIE MAY

ILLUSTRATED

SIX VOLUMES]

_Illustrated, Comprising:_--

LITTLE PRUDY.
    LITTLE PRUDY'S SISTER SUSIE.
      LITTLE PRUDY'S CAPTAIN HORACE.
        LITTLE PRUDY'S COUSIN GRACE.
          LITTLE PRUDY'S STORY BOOK.
            LITTLE PRUDY'S DOTTY DIMPLE.

       *       *       *       *       *

In neat box. Price 75 cents per volume.



SOPHIE MAY'S "LITTLE-FOLKS" BOOKS.


LITTLE PRUDY.

"I have been wanting to say a word about a book for children,
perfect of its kind--I mean LITTLE PRUDY. It seems to me the
greatest book of the season for children. The authoress has a genius
for story-telling. Prudy's letter to Mr. 'Gustus Somebody must be
genuine; if an invention, it shows a genius akin to that of the
great masters. It is a positive kindness to the little ones to
remind their parents that there is such a book as LITTLE
PRUDY."--_Springfield Republican_.

       *       *       *       *       *

LITTLE PRUDY'S SISTER SUSIE.

"Every little girl and boy who has made the acquaintance of that
funny 'Little Prudy' will be eager to read this book, In which she
figures quite as largely as her bigger sister, though the joys and
troubles of poor Susie make a very interesting story."--_Portland
Transcript_.

"Certainly one of the most cunning, natural, and witty little books
we ever read."--_Hartford Press_.

       *       *       *       *       *

LITTLE PRUDY'S CAPTAIN HORACE.

"These are such as none but SOPHIE MAY can write, and we know not
where to look for two more choice and beautiful volumes--SUSIE for
girls and HORACE for boys. They are not only amusing and wonderfully
entertaining, but teach most effective lessons of patience,
kindness, and truthfulness. Our readers will find a good deal in
them about Prudy, for so many things are always happening to her
that the author finds It impossible to keep her out."



SOPHIE MAY'S "LITTLE-FOLKS" BOOKS.

[Illustration: "There were a few articles to be ironed for the
bride; and Prudy had a mind to try the Jewish flatirons; so, with
Barbara's leave, she smoothed out some handkerchiefs on a chair."]

SPECIMEN OF "LITTLE PRUDY" CUTS.



SOPHIE MAY'S "LITTLE-FOLKS" BOOKS.


LITTLE PRUDY'S STORY BOOK.

"This story book is a great favorite with the little folks, for it
contains just such stories as they like to hear their aunt, and
older sister tell; and learn them by heart and tell them over to one
another as they set out the best infant tea-set, or piece a
baby-quilt, or dress dolls, or roll marbles. A book to put on the
book-shelf in the play-room where Susie and Prudy, Captain Horace,
Cousin Grace, and all the rest of the 'Little Prudy' folks are
kept."--_Vermont Record_.

       *       *       *       *       *

LITTLE PRUDY'S COUSIN GRACE.

"An exquisite picture of little-girl life at school and at home, and
gives an entertaining account of a secret society which originated
in the fertile brain of Grace, passed some comical resolutions at
first, but was finally converted into a Soldier's Aid Society. Full
of life, and fire, and good advice; the latter sugar-coated, of
course, to suit the taste of little folks."--_Press_.

       *       *       *       *       *

LITTLE PRUDY'S DOTTY DIMPLE.

"Dotty Dimple is the plague of Prudy's life, and yet she loves her
dearly. Both are rare articles in juvenile literature, as real as
Eva and Topsy of 'Uncle Tom' fame. Witty and wise, full of sport and
study, sometimes mixing the two in a confusing way, they run
bubbling through many volumes, and make everybody wish they could
never grow up or change, they are so bright and cute."



SOPHIE MAY'S "LITTLE-FOLKS" BOOKS.

[Illustration: LITTLE PRUDY'S CAPTAIN HORACE.]

"You wide-awake little boys, who make whistles of willow, and go
fishing and training,--Horace is very much like you, I suppose. He
is by no means perfect, but he is brave and kind, and scorns a lie,
I hope you and he will shake hands and be friends."

       *       *       *       *       *

SPECIMEN OF ILLUSTRATIONS TO PRUDY BOOKS.



SOPHIE MAY'S "LITTLE-FOLKS" BOOKS.

[Illustration: DOTTY DIMPLE STORIES

DOTTY AT PLAY.]

_Six Volumes. Illustrated. Comprising:_--

DOTTY DIMPLE AT HER GRANDMOTHER'S.
    DOTTY DIMPLE OUT WEST.
        DOTTY DIMPLE AT HOME.
            DOTTY DIMPLE AT PLAY.
                DOTTY DIMPLE AT SCHOOL.
                    DOTTY DIMPLE'S FLYAWAY.

       *       *       *       *       *

In a neat box. Price 75 cents per volume.



SOPHIE MAY'S "LITTLE-FOLKS" BOOKS.

[Illustration: DOTTY GOING WEST]

"'Please stop,' said Dotty faintly, and the boy came to her,
elbowing. 'I want some of that pop-corn so much! I could buy it if
you'd hold this baby till I put my hand in my pocket.' The youth
laughed, but for the sake of 'making a trade' set down his basket
and took the '_enfant terrible_.' There was an instant attack upon
his hair, which was so long and straggling as to prove an easy prey
to the enemy."

       *       *       *       *       *

SPECIMEN OF "DOTTY DIMPLE" ILLUSTRATIONS



SOPHIE MAY'S "LITTLE-FOLKS" BOOKS.


DOTTY DIMPLE AT HER GRANDMOTHER'S.

"Sophie May's excellent pen has perhaps never written anything more
pleasing to children, especially little girls, than DOTTY DIMPLE. If
the little reader who follows Dotty through these dozen
chapters,--from her visit to her grandmother to the swing under the
trees,--he or she will say: 'It has been a treat to read about Dotty
Dimple, she's so cunning.'"--_Herald of Gospel Liberty_.

       *       *       *       *       *

DOTTY DIMPLE OUT WEST.

"Dotty's trip was jolly. In the cars where she saw so many people
that she thought there'd be nobody left in any of the houses, she
offers to hold somebody's baby, and when it begins to cry she stuffs
pop-corn into its month, nearly choking it to death. Afterwards, in
pulling a man's hair, she is horrified at seeing his wig come off,
and gasps out 'O dear, dear, dear, I didn't know your hair was so
tender.' Altogether, she is the cunningist chick that ever
lived."--_Oxford Press_.

       *       *       *       *       *

DOTTY DIMPLE AT HOME.

"This little book is as full of spice as any of its predecessors and
well sustains the author's reputation as the very cleverest of all
write of this species of children's books. Were there any doubt on
this point, the matter might be easily tested by inquiry in half the
households in the city, where the book is being revelled
over."--_Boston Home Journal_.



SOPHIE MAY'S "LITTLE-FOLKS" BOOKS.

[Illustration: "As Dotty seized two locks of the Major's hair, one
in each hand, and pulled them both as if she meant to draw them out
by the roots, out they came! Yes, entirely out; and more than that,
all the rest of his hair came too. His head was left as smooth as an
apple. You see how it was. He wore a wig, and just for play had
slyly unfastened it, and allowed Miss Dotty to pull it off. The
perfect despair of her little face amused him vastly, but he did not
smile; he looked very severe. 'See what you have done,' said he.
Major Laydie's entire head of hair lay at her feet, as brown and
wavy as ever it was. Dotty looked at it with horror. The idea of
scalping a man."]

       *       *       *       *       *

SPECIMEN OF "DOTTY DIMPLE" ILLUSTRATIONS.



SOPHIE MAY'S "LITTLE-FOLKS" BOOKS.

DOTTY DIMPLE AT SCHOOL.

"Miss Dotty is a peremptory little body, with a great deal of human
nature in her, who wins our hearts by her comic speeches and funny
ways. She complains of being _bewitched_ by people, and the wind
'blows her out,' and she thinks if her comrade dies in the
snow-storm she will be 'dreadfully 'shamed of it,' and has rather a
lively time, with all her trials in going to school."--_New York
Citizen_.

       *       *       *       *       *

DOTTY DIMPLE AT PLAY.

"'Charming Dotty Dimple' as she is so universally styled, has become
decidedly a favorite with young and old, who are alike pleased with
her funny sayings and doings.--DOTTY AT PLAY will be found very
attractive, and the children, especially the girls, will be
delighted with her adventures."--_Boston Express_.

       *       *       *       *       *

DOTTY DIMPLE'S FLYAWAY.

"This is the final volume of the DOTTY DIMPLE SERIES. It relates how
little Flyaway provisioned herself with cookies and spectacles and
got lost on a little hill while seeking to mount to heaven, and what
a precious alarm there was until she was found, and the subsequent
joy at her recovery, with lots of quaint speeches and funny
incidents."--_North American_.

"A Little Red Riding-Hoodish story, sprightly and takingly
told."--_American Farmer_.



SOPHIE MAY'S "LITTLE-FOLKS" BOOKS.

[Illustration: LITTLE PRUDY'S FLYAWAY SERIES]

_Six Volumes. Illustrated. Comprising:_--

LITTLE FOLKS ASTRAY.
    PRUDY KEEPING HOUSE.
        AUNT MADGE'S STORY.
            LITTLE GRANDMOTHER.
                LITTLE GRANDFATHER.
                    MISS THISTLEDOWN.

Price 75 cents per volume.



SOPHIE MAY'S "LITTLE-FOLKS" BOOKS.


LITTLE FOLKS ASTRAY.

"This is a book for the little ones of the nursery or play-room. It
introduces all the old favorites of the Prudy and Dotty books with
new characters and funny incidents. It is a charming book, wholesome
and sweet in every respect, and cannot fail to interest children
under twelve years of age."--_Christian Register_.

       *       *       *       *       *

PRUDY KEEPING HOUSE.

"How she kept it, why she kept it, and what a good time she had
playing cook, and washer-woman, and ironer, is told as only SOPHIE
MAY can tell stories. All the funny sayings and doings of the
queerest and cunningest little women ever tucked away in the covers
of a book will please little folks and grown people alike."--_Press_.

       *       *       *       *       *

AUNT MADGE'S STORY.

"Tells of a little waif of a girl, who gets into every conceivable
kind of scrape and out again with lightning rapidity, through the
whole pretty little book. How she nearly drowns her bosom friend,
and afterwards saves her by a very remarkable display of little-girl
courage. How she gets left by a train of cars, and loses her kitten
and finds it again, and is presented with a baby sister 'come down
from heaven,' with lots of smart and funny sayings."--_Boston
Traveller._



SOPHIE MAY'S "LITTLE-FOLKS" BOOKS.

[Illustration: PRUDY KEEPING HOUSE.]

"'Oh, what a fascinating creature,' said the Man in the Moon, making
an eye-glass with his thumb and fore-finger, and gazing at the lady
boarder. 'Are you a widow, mem?'"

       *       *       *       *       *

SPECIMEN CUT TO "LITTLE PRUDY'S FLYAWAY SERIES."



SOPHIE MAY'S "LITTLE-FOLKS" BOOKS.


LITTLE GRANDMOTHER.

"Grandmother Parlen when a little girl is the subject. Of course
that was ever so long ago, when there were no lucifer matches, and
steel and tinder were used to light fires; when soda and saleratus
had never been heard of, but people made their pearl ash by soaking
burnt crackers in water; when the dressmaker and the tailor and the
shoemaker went from house to house twice a year to make the dresses
and coats of the family."--_Transcript_.

       *       *       *       *       *

LITTLE GRANDFATHER.

"The story of Grandfather Parlen's little boy life, of the days of
knee breeches and cocked hats, full of odd incidents, queer and
quaint sayings, and the customs of 'ye olden times.' These stories
of SOPHIE MAY'S are so charmingly written that older folks may well
amuse themselves by reading them. The same warm sympathy with
childhood, the earnest naturalness, the novel charm of the preceding
volumes will be found in this."--_Christian Messenger_.

       *       *       *       *       *

MISS THISTLEDOWN.

"One of the queerest of the Prudy family. Read the chapter heads and
you will see just how much fun there must be in it: 'Fly's Heart,'
'Taking a Nap,' 'Going to the Fair,' 'The Dimple Dot,' 'The Hole in
the Home,' 'The Little Bachelor,' 'Fly's Bluebeard,' 'Playing
Mamma,' 'Butter Spots,' 'Polly's Secret,' 'The Snow Man,' 'The Owl
and the Humming-Bird,' 'Talks of Hunting Deer,' and 'The Parlen
Patchwork.'"





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