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Title: Marjorie's Busy Days
Author: Wells, Carolyn, 1862-1942
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 "Marjorie's Busy Days" ***

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[Illustration: "SHE FED THE GOLD-FISH, ... SHE TRIED AMUSEMENTS OF
VARIOUS SORTS, BUT NONE SEEMED TO INTEREST HER."

_Busy Days._     _Page_ 144]



    MARJORIE'S
    BUSY DAYS

    BY
    CAROLYN WELLS

    AUTHOR OF
    THE "PATTY" BOOKS

    GROSSET & DUNLAP
    PUBLISHERS        NEW YORK

    Made in the United States of America



    Copyright, 1906
    By DODD, MEAD & COMPANY
    Published, October, 1908



CONTENTS


    CHAPTER                                  PAGE

        I A JOLLY GOOD GAME                     1

       II AN EXASPERATING GUEST                15

      III PICNIC PLANS                         28

       IV AN OURDAY                            43

        V A NOVEL PICNIC                       55

       VI THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL              72

      VII THE JINKS CLUB                       84

     VIII SPELLING TROUBLES                    99

       IX A REAL ADVENTURE                    114

        X IN INKY PLIGHT                      130

       XI THE HALLOWE'EN PARTY                143

      XII TOTTY AND DOTTY                     159

     XIII A FAIR EXCHANGE?                    172

      XIV A NOBLE SOCIETY                     190

       XV DISTURBED CITIZENS                  204

      XVI ROSY POSY'S CHOICE                  220

     XVII A SUBSTITUTE GUEST                  235

    XVIII THANKSGIVING DAY                    252

      XIX A SPOOL OF YARNS                    265

       XX THE CHARITY BAZAAR                  278



CHAPTER I

A JOLLY GOOD GAME


"What do you say, King, railroad smash-up or shipwreck?"

"I say shipwreck, with an _awfully_ desert island."

"I say shipwreck, too," said Kitty, "but I don't want to swim ashore."

"All right," agreed Marjorie, "shipwreck, then. I'll get the cocoanuts."

"Me, too," chimed in Rosy Posy. "Me tumble in the wet water, too!"

The speakers in this somewhat enigmatical conversation were the four
Maynard children, and they were deciding on their morning's occupation.
It was a gorgeous day in early September. The air, without being too
cool, was just crisp enough to make one feel energetic, though indeed
no special atmospheric conditions were required to make the four
Maynards feel energetic. That was their normal state, and if they were
specially gay and lively this morning, it was not because of the brisk,
breezy day, but because they were reunited after their summer's
separation.

Though they had many friends among the neighboring children, the
Maynards were a congenial quartette, and had equally good times playing
by themselves or with others. Their home occupied a whole block in the
prettiest residence part of Rockwell, and the big square house sat in
the midst of about seven acres of lawn and garden.

There were many fine old trees, grassy paths, and informal flower-beds,
and here the children were allowed to do whatever they chose, but
outside the place, without permission, they must not go.

There was a playground, a tennis court, and a fountain, but better than
these they liked the corner full of fruit trees, called "the orchard,"
and another corner, where grapes grew on trellises, called "the
vineyard." The barn and its surroundings, too, often proved attractive,
for the Maynards' idea of playing were by no means confined to quiet or
decorous games.

The house itself was surrounded by broad verandas, and on the southern
one of these, in the morning sunshine, the four held conclave.

Kingdon, the eldest, was the only boy, and oftener than not his will was
law. But this was usually because he had such splendid ideas about games
and how to play them, that his sisters gladly fell in with his plans.

But Marjorie was not far behind her brother in ingenuity, and when they
all set to work, or rather, set to play, the games often became very
elaborate and exciting. "Shipwreck" was always a favorite, because it
could develop in so many ways. Once they were shipwrecked no rescue was
possible, unless help appeared from some unexpected quarter. It might be
a neighbor's child coming to see them, or it might be a servant, or one
of their own parents, but really rescued they must be by actual
outsiders. Unless, indeed, they could build a raft and save themselves,
but this they had never accomplished.

The desert island was selected, and this time they chose a certain
grassy knoll under an immense old maple tree.

Marjorie disappeared in the direction of the kitchen, and, after a time,
came back with a small basket, apparently well-filled.

With this she scampered away to the "desert island," and soon returned,
swinging the empty basket. Tossing this into the house, she announced
that she was ready.

Then the four went to the big, double, wooden swing, and got in.

Kitty carried her doll, Arabella, from which she was seldom separated,
and Rosy Posy hugged her big white Teddy Bear, who was named Boffin and
who accompanied the baby on all expeditions.

The swing, to-day, was an ocean steamer.

"Have your tickets ready!" called out Kingdon, as his passengers swarmed
up the gangplank, which he had thoughtfully laid from the ground to the
low step of the swing.

Soon they were all on board, the gangplank drawn in, and the ship
started.

At first all went smoothly. The swing swayed gently back and forth, and
the passengers admired the beautiful scenery on either side. The
Captain had never crossed an ocean, and the nearest he had come to it
had been a sail up the Hudson and a trip to Coney Island. His local
color, therefore, was a bit mixed, but his passengers were none the
wiser, or if they were, they didn't care.

"On the right, we see West Point!" the Captain shouted, pointing to
their own house. "That's where the soldiers come from. The noble
soldiers who fight for the land of the free and the home of the brave."

"Are you a soldier, sir?" asked Marjorie.

"Yes, madam; I am a veteran of the Civil War. But as there's no fighting
to do now, I run this steamer."

"A fine ship it is," observed Kitty.

"It is that! No finer craft sails the waves than this."

"What is that mountain in the distance?" asked Marjorie, shading her
eyes with her hand as she looked across the street.

"That's a--a peak of the Rockies, ma'am. And now we are passing the
famous statue of 'Liberty Enlightening the World.'"

As the statue to which Kingdon pointed was really Mrs. Maynard, who had
come out on the veranda, and stood with her hand high against a post,
the children shouted with laughter.

But this was quickly suppressed, as part of the fun of making-believe
was to keep grave about it.

"Is your daughter ill, madam?" asked Marjorie of Kitty, whose doll hung
over her arm in a dejected way.

"No, indeed!" cried Kitty, righting poor Arabella. "She is as well as
anything. Only she's a little afraid of the ocean. It seems to be
getting rougher."

It did seem so. The swing was not only going more rapidly, but was
joggling from side to side.

"Don't be alarmed, ladies," said the gallant Captain; "there's no
danger, I assure you."

"I'm not afraid of the sea," said Marjorie, "as much as I am of that
fearful wild bear. Will he bite?"

"No," said Kingdon, looking at Rosy Posy. "That's his trainer who is
holding him. He's a wonderful man with wild beasts. He's--he's Buffalo
Bill. Speak up, Rosy Posy; you're Buffalo Bill, and that's a bear
you're taking home to your show."

"Ess," said Rosamond, who was somewhat versed in make-believe plays,
"I'se Buffaro Bill; an' 'is is my big, big bear."

"Will he bite?" asked Kitty, shrinking away in fear, and protecting
Arabella with one arm.

"Ess! He bites awful!" Rosy Posy's eyes opened wide as she exploited her
Bear's ferocity, and Boffin made mad dashes at Arabella, who duly
shrieked with fear.

But now the ship began to pitch and toss fearfully. The Captain stood up
in his excitement, but that only seemed to make the motion worse.

"Is there danger?" cried Marjorie, in tragic tones, as she gripped the
belt of King's Norfolk jacket. "Give me this life-preserver; I don't see
any other."

"They are under the seats!" shouted the Captain, who was now greatly
excited. "I cannot deceive you! We are in great danger! We may strike a
rock any minute! Put on life-preservers, all of you. They are under the
seats."

The other three scrambled for imaginary life-preservers, and vigorously
put them on, when, with a terrific yell, Kingdon cried out:

"We have struck! We're on a rock! The ship is settling; we must all be
drowned. We are lost! Launch the boats!"

This was a signal for shrieks and wails from the others, and in a minute
it was pandemonium. The four screamed and groaned, the swing shook
violently, and then came almost to a standstill.

Kingdon fell out with a bounce and lay prone on the ground. Marjorie
sprang out, and as she reached the ground, struck out like a swimmer in
the water.

Kitty daintily stepped out, remarking: "This is a fine life-preserver. I
can stand straight up in the water."

Baby Rosamond bundled out backward, dropping Boffin as she did so.

"The bear, the bear!" screamed Kingdon, and swimming a few strokes along
the soft, green grass, he grabbed the bear and waved him aloft.

"What can we do!" stammered Marjorie, panting for breath. "I've swum
till I'm exhausted. Must I drown!" With a wail, she turned on her eyes
on the grass, and closing her eyes, prepared to sink beneath the waves.

"Do not despair," urged Kingdon, as he grasped her arm. "Perhaps we can
find a plank or a raft. Or perhaps we can yet swim ashore."

"How many survivors are we?" asked Marjorie, sitting up in the water and
looking about.

"Four," responded Kitty; "but I won't swim. It makes my dress all
greeny, and stubs my shoes out."

Kitty was the only Maynard who was finicky about her clothes. It called
forth much derision from her elder brother and sister, but she stood
firm. She would play their plays, until it came to "swimming" across
grass and earth, and there she rebelled.

"All right," said Kingdon, good-naturedly, "you needn't. There's a
raft," pointing to what had been the gangplank. "Cannot you and your
infant daughter manage to get ashore on that? This other lady is an
expert swimmer, and I think she can reach land, while Buffalo Bill will,
of course, save himself."

"Me save myself!" exclaimed Rosy Posy, gleefully. She had no objections
to swimming on land, and throwing her fat self down flat, kicked
vigorously, and assisted Boffin to swim by her side.

Kitty and Arabella arranged themselves on the raft, which Kitty
propelled by a series of hitches. The shipwrecked sufferers thus made
their way toward the desert island. There were several narrow escapes
from drowning, but they generously assisted each other, and once when
Kitty fell off her raft, the noble Captain offered to take Arabella on
his own broad and stalwart back.

Buffalo Bill frequently forgot she was in the tossing ocean, and walked
upright on her own fat legs.

But King said she was only "treading water," go that was all right.

At last they sighted land, and by a mighty effort, and much encouraging
of one another, they managed to reach the shore of the island.
Exhausted, Marjorie threw herself on the beach, and the half-drowned
Captain also dragged himself up on dry land. Kitty skilfully brought her
raft ashore, and stepped out, exclaiming: "Saved! But to what a fate!"

This was one of their favorite lines, and Marjorie weakly opened her
eyes to respond:

"Methinks I shall not see to-morrow's sun!"

"Hist!" whispered Kingdon, "say no word, lady. There may be cannibals
here!"

"Tannibals!" cried Buffalo Bill. "I 'ike Tannibals. Where is zey?"

Somewhat revived, Kingdon began to look round the desert island to see
what its nature might be.

"We have escaped one terrible death!" he declared, "only to meet
another. We must starve! This is a desert island exactly in the middle
of the Pacific Ocean. No steamers pass here; no sailing vessels or
ferryboats or,--or anything!"

"Oh! What shall we do?" moaned Kitty, clasping her hands in despair. "My
precious Arabella! Already she is begging for food."

"We must consider," said Marjorie, sitting up, and looking about her.
"If there is nothing else, we must kill the bear and eat him."

"No, no!" screamed Rosy Posy. "No, no eat my Boffin Bear."

"I will explore," said Kingdon. "Come, Buffalo Bill, we are the men of
this party, we will go all over the island and see what may be found in
the way of food. Perhaps we will find cocoanuts."

"Ess," said Buffalo Bill, slipping her little hand in her brother's,
"an' we'll take Boffin, so he won't get all killded."

"And while you're gone," said Marjorie, "we will dry our dripping
garments and mend them."

"Yes," said Kitty, "with needles and thread out of my bag. I brought a
big bag of all sorts of things, like Robinson Crusoe."

"That wasn't Robinson Crusoe," said King, "it was Mrs. Swiss Robinson."

"Oh, so it was! Well, it doesn't matter, I brought the bag, anyway."

The two brave men went away, and returned in a surprisingly short time
with a surprising amount of food.

"These are cocoanuts," announced Kingdon, as he displayed four oranges.
"I had to climb the tall palm trees to reach them. But no hardships or
dangers are too great to assist fair ladies."

The fair ladies expressed great delight at the gallant Captain's deed,
and asked Buffalo Bill what she had secured.

"Edds," said Rosy Posy, triumphantly, and, sure enough, in her tiny
skirt, which she held gathered up before her, were three eggs and a
cracker.

The eggs were hard-boiled, and were promptly appropriated by the three
elder victims of the shipwreck, while the cracker fell to the share of
Buffalo Bill, who was not yet of an age to eat hard-boiled eggs.

"I, too, will make search!" cried Marjorie. "Methinks there may yet be
food which you overlooked."

As Marjorie had brought the food to the desert island only an hour
before, it was not impossible that she might find some more, so they let
her go to make search. She returned with a paper bag of crackers and
another of pears.

"These are bread fruit," she announced, showing the crackers; "and these
are wild pears. This is indeed a fruitful island, and we're lucky to be
wrecked on such a good one."

"Lucky, indeed!" agreed the Captain. "Why, when I discovered those eggs
on a rocky ledge, I knew at once they were gulls' eggs."

"And how fortunate that they're boiled," said Kitty. "I can't bear raw
eggs."

The shipwrecked sufferers then spread out their food, and sat down to a
pleasant meal, for the Maynard children had convenient appetites, and
could eat at almost any hour of the day.



CHAPTER II

AN EXASPERATING GUEST


"Aren't hard-boiled eggs the very best things to eat in all the world?"
said Marjorie, as she looked lovingly at the golden sphere she had just
extracted from its ivory setting.

"They're awful good," agreed King, "but I like oranges better."

"Me eat lollunge," piped up Rosy Posy. "Buffaro Bill would 'ike a
lollunge."

"So you shall, Baby. Brother'll fix one for you."

And the shipwrecked Captain carefully prepared an orange, and gave it
bit by bit into the eager, rosy fingers.

"Of all things in the world," said Kitty, "I like chocolate creams
best."

"Oh, so do I, if I'm not hungry!" said Marjorie. "I think I like
different things at different times."

"Well, it doesn't matter much what you like now," said King, as he gave
the last section of orange to Rosy Posy, "for everything is all eaten
up. Where'd you get those eggs, Mops? We never hardly have them except
on picnics."

"I saw them in the pantry. Ellen had them for a salad or something. So I
just took them, and told her she could boil some more."

"You're a good one, Mopsy," said her brother, looking at her in evident
admiration. "The servants never get mad at you. Now if I had hooked
those eggs, Ellen would have blown me up sky-high."

"Oh, I just smiled at her," said Marjorie, "and then it was all right.
Now, what are we going to do next?"

"Hark!" said Kingdon, who was again the shipwrecked mariner. "I hear a
distant sound as of fierce wild beasts growling and roaring."

"My child, my child!" shrieked Kitty, snatching up Arabella. "She will
be torn by dreadful lions and tigers!"

"We must protect ourselves," declared Marjorie. "Captain, can't you
build a barricade? They always do that in books."

"Ay, ay, ma'am. But also we must hoist a flag, a signal of distress. For
should a ship come by, they might stop and rescue us."

"But we have no flag. What can we use for one?"

"Give me your daughter's petticoat," said the Captain to Kitty.

"Not so!" said Kitty, who was fond of dramatic phrases. "Arabella's
petticoat is spandy clean, and I won't have it used to make a flag."

"I'll give you a flag," said Marjorie. "Take my hair-ribbon." She began
to pull off her red ribbon, but Kingdon stopped her.

"No," he said, "that won't do. We're not playing Pirates. It must be a
white flag. It's for a signal of distress."

Marjorie thought a moment. There really seemed to be no white flag
available.

"All right!" she cried, in a moment. "I'll give you a piece of my
petticoat. It's an old one, and the ruffle is torn anyhow."

In a flash, impetuous Marjorie had torn a good-sized bit out of her
little white petticoat, and the Captain fastened it to a long branch he
had broken from the maple tree.

This he managed, with the aid of some stones, to fasten in an upright
position, and then they sat down to watch for a passing sail.

"Buffaro Bill so s'eepy," announced that small person, and, with fat old
Boffin for a pillow, Rosy Posy calmly dropped off into a morning nap.

But the others suffered various dreadful vicissitudes. They were
attacked by wild beasts, which, though entirely imaginary, required
almost as much killing as if they had been real.

Kitty shot or lassoed a great many, but she declined to engage in the
hand-to-hand encounters with tigers and wolves, such as Marjorie and
Kingdon undertook, for fear she'd be thrown down on the ground. And,
indeed, her fears were well founded, for the valiant fighters were often
thrown by their fierce adversaries, and rolled over and over, only to
pick themselves up and renew the fray.

More exciting still was an attack from the natives of the island. They
were horrible savages, with tomahawks, and they approached with
blood-curdling yells.

Needless to say that, after a fearful battle, the natives were all slain
or put to rout, and the conquerors, exhausted but triumphant, sat round
their camp-fire and boasted of their valorous deeds.

As noontime drew near, the settlers on the island began to grow hungry
again, and, strange to say, the imaginary birds they shot and ate were
not entirely satisfying.

Buffalo Bill, too, waked up, and demanded a jink of water.

But none could leave the island and brave the perils of the boundless
ocean, unless in a rescuing ship.

For a long time they waited. They waved their white flag, and they even
shouted for help.

But the "island" was at some distance from the house or street and none
came to rescue them.

At last, they saw a huge, white-covered wagon slowly moving along the
back drive.

"A sail! A sail!" cried the Captain. "What, ho! Help! Help!"

The other shipwrecked ones joined the cry, and soon the wagon drew a
little nearer, and then stopped.

"Help! Help!" cried the children in chorus.

It was the butcher's wagon, and they knew it well, but this season
there was a new driver who didn't know the Maynard children.

"What's the matther?" he cried, jumping from his seat, and running
across the grass to the quartette.

"We're shipwrecked!" cried Marjorie. "We can't get home. Oh, save us
from a cruel fate! Carry us back to our far-away fireside!"

"Help!" cried Kitty, faintly. "My child is ill, and I can no longer
survive!"

Dramatic Kitty sank in a heap on the ground, and the butcher's boy was
more bewildered than ever.

"Save me!" cried Rosy Posy, toddling straight to him, and putting up her
arms. "Save Buffaro Bill first,--me an' Boffin."

This was more intelligible, and the butcher's boy picked up the smiling
child, and with a few long strides reached his cart, and deposited her
therein.

"Me next! Me next!" screamed Marjorie. "I'm fainting, too!" With a thud,
she fell in a heap beside Kitty.

"The saints presarve us!" exclaimed the frightened Irishman. "Whativer
is the matther wid these childher? Is it pizened ye are?"

"No, only starving," said Marjorie, but her faint voice was belied by
the merry twinkle in her eyes, which she couldn't suppress at the sight
of the man's consternation.

"Aha! It's shammin' ye are! I see now."

"It's a game," explained Kingdon. "We're shipwrecked on a desert island,
and you're a passing captain of a small sailing vessel. Will you take us
aboard?"

"Shure, sir," said the other, his face aglow with Irish wit and
intelligence. "I persave yer manin'. 'Deed I will resky ye, but how will
ye get through the deep wathers to me ship forninst?"

"You wade over, and carry this lady," said King, pointing to Kitty, "and
the rest of us will swim."

"Thot's a foine plan; come along, miss;" and in a moment Kitty was swung
up to the brave rescuer's shoulder, while King and Midget were already
"swimming" across the grass to the rescue ship.

All clambered into the wagon, and the butcher drove them in triumph to
the back door. Here they jumped out, and, after thanking their kind
rescuer, they scampered into the house.

"Such a fun!" said Rosy Posy, as her mother bathed her heated little
face. "Us was all shipperecked, an' I was Buffaro Bill, an' Boffin was
my big wild bear!"

"You two are sights!" said Mrs. Maynard; laughing as she looked at the
muddied, grass-stained, and torn condition of Kingdon and Marjorie. "I'm
glad you had your play-clothes on, but I don't see why you always have
to have such rough-and-tumble plays."

"'Cause we're a rough-and-tumble pair, Mothery," said King; "look at
Kitty there! she kept herself almost spick and span."

"Well, I'm glad I have all sorts of children," said Mrs. Maynard. "Go
and get into clean clothes, and be ready for luncheon promptly on time.
I'm expecting Miss Larkin."

"Larky! Oh!" groaned Kingdon. "I say, Mothery, can't we--us children, I
mean--have lunch in the playroom?" He had sidled up to his mother and
was caressing her cheek with his far-from-clean little hands.

"No," said Mrs. Maynard, smiling as she kissed the brown fingers, "no,
my boy, I want all my olive-branches at my table to-day. So, run along
now and get civilized."

"Come on, Mops," said Kingdon, in a despairing tone, and, with their
arms about each other, the two dawdled away.

Kitty had already gone to Nurse to be freshened up. Kitty loved company,
and was always ready to put on her best manners.

But King and Midget had so much talking to do, and so many plans to
make, that they disliked the restraint that company necessarily put upon
their own conversation.

"I do detest old Larky," said the boy, as they went away.

"I don't mind her so much," said Marjorie, "except when she asks me
questions."

"She's always doing that."

"Yes, I know it. But I promised Mother I'd be extra good to-day, and try
to talk politely to her. Of course, I can do it if I try."

"So can I," said King, with an air of pride in his own powers. "All
right, Mops, let's be 'specially 'stremely good and treat Miss Larkin
just lovely."

Nearly an hour later the four shipwrecked unfortunates, now transformed
into clean, well-dressed civilians, were grouped in the library to await
Miss Larkin's arrival.

The lady was an old friend of Mrs. Maynard's, and though by no means
elderly, was yet far from being as young as she tried to look and act.

She came tripping in, and after greeting her hostess effusively, she
turned to the children.

"My, my!" she said. "What a group of little dears! How you have
grown,--every one of you. Kingdon, my dear boy, would you like to kiss
me?"

The request was far from acceptable to King, but the simper that
accompanied it so repelled him that he almost forgot his determination
to be very cordial to the unwelcome guest. But Midge gave him a warning
pinch on his arm, and with an unintelligible murmur of consent, he put
up his cheek for the lady's salute.

"Oh, what a dear boy!" she gurgled. "I really think I shall have to take
you home with me! And, now, here's Marjorie. How are you, my dear? Do
you go to school now? And what are you learning?"

Miss Larkin's questions always irritated Marjorie, but she answered
politely, and then stepped aside in Kitty's favor.

"Sweet little Katharine," said the visitor. "You are really an angel
child. With your golden hair and blue eyes, you're a perfect cherub;
isn't she, Mrs. Maynard?"

"She's a dear little girl," said her mother, smiling, "but not always
angelic. Here's our baby, our Rosamond."

"No, I'se Buffaro Bill!" declared Rosy Posy, assuming a valiant
attitude, quite out of keeping with her smiling baby face and chubby
body.

"Oh, what delicious children! Dear Mrs. Maynard, how good of you to let
me come to see them."

As Miss Larkin always invited herself, this speech was literally true,
but as she and Mrs. Maynard had been schoolmates long ago, the latter
felt it her duty to give her friend such pleasure as she could.

At the luncheon table, Miss Larkin kept up a running fire of questions.

This, she seemed to think, was the only way to entertain children.

"Do you like to read?" she asked of Marjorie.

"Yes, indeed," said Midget, politely.

"And what books do you like best?"

"Fairy stories," said Marjorie, promptly.

"Oh, tut, tut!" and Miss Larkin shook a playful finger. "You should
like history. Shouldn't she, now?" she asked, appealing to Kingdon.

"We like history, too," said Kingdon. "At least, we like it some; but we
both like fairy stories better."

"Ah, well, children will be children. Do you like summer or winter
best?"

This was a poser. It had never occurred to Marjorie to think which she
liked best.

"I like them both alike," she said, truthfully.

"Oh, come now; children should have some mind of their own! Little Miss
Kitty, I'm sure you know whether you like summer or winter best."

Kitty considered.

"I like winter best for Christmas, and summer for Fourth of July," she
said at last, with the air of one settling a weighty matter.

But Miss Larkin really cared nothing to know about these things; it was
only her idea of making herself entertaining to her young audience.

"And you, Baby Rosamond," she went on, "what do you like best in all the
world?"

"Boffin," was the ready reply, "an' Buffaro Bill, 'cause I'm it."

They all laughed at this, for in the Maynard family Rosy Posy's high
estimation of herself was well known.

Although it seemed as if it never would, the luncheon at last came to an
end.

Mrs. Maynard told the children they might be excused, and she and Miss
Larkin would chat by themselves.

Decorously enough, the four left the room, but once outside the house,
King gave a wild whoop of joy and turned a double somersault.

Midget threw herself down on a veranda-seat, but with a beaming face,
she said:

"Well, we behaved all right, anyway; but I was 'most afraid I'd be saucy
to her one time. It's _such_ a temptation, when people talk like that."

"She talked all the time," said Kitty. "I don't see when she ate
anything."

"She didn't," said King. "I suppose she'd rather talk than eat. She's
not a bit like us."

"No," said Marjorie, emphatically, "she's not a bit like us!"



CHAPTER III

PICNIC PLANS


One entire day out of each month Mr. Maynard devoted to the
entertainment of his children.

This was a long-established custom, and the children looked forward
eagerly to what they called an Ourday.

The day chosen was always a Saturday, and usually the first Saturday of
the month, though this was subject to the convenience of the elders.

The children were allowed to choose in turn what the entertainment
should be, and if possible their wishes were complied with.

As there had been so much bustle and confusion consequent upon their
return from the summer vacation, the September "Ourday" did not occur
until the second Saturday.

It was Marjorie's turn to choose the sport, for, as she had been away at
Grandma Sherwood's all summer, she had missed three Ourdays.

So one morning, early in the week, the matter was discussed at the
breakfast table.

"What shall it be, Midget?" asked her father. "A balloon trip, or an
Arctic expedition?"

Marjorie considered.

"I want something outdoorsy," she said, at last, "and I think I'd like a
picnic best. A real picnic in the woods, with lunch-baskets, and a fire,
and roasted potatoes."

"That sounds all right to me," said Mr. Maynard; "do you want a lot of
people, or just ourselves?"

It was at the children's pleasure on Ourdays to invite their young
friends or to have only the family, as they chose. Sometimes, even, Mrs.
Maynard did not go with them, and Mr. Maynard took his young brood off
for a ramble in the woods, or a day at the seashore or in the city. He
often declared that but for this plan he would never feel really
acquainted with his own children.

"I don't want a lot of people," said Marjorie, decidedly; "but suppose
we each invite one. That makes a good-sized picnic."

As it was Marjorie's Ourday, her word was law, and the others gladly
agreed.

"I'll ask Dick Fulton," said Kingdon. "I haven't seen much of him since
I came home."

"And I'll ask Gladys Fulton, of course," said Midget. As Gladys was her
most intimate friend in Rockwell, no one was surprised at this.

"I'll ask Dorothy Adams," said Kitty; but Rosy Posy announced: "I won't
ask nobody but Boffin. He's the nicest person I know, an' him an' me can
walk with Daddy."

"Next, where shall the picnic be?" went on Mr. Maynard.

"I don't know whether I like Pike's Woods best, or the Mill Race," said
Marjorie, uncertainly.

"Oh, choose Pike's Woods, Mops," put in Kingdon. "It's lovely there,
now, and it's a lot better place to build a fire and all that."

"All right, Father; I choose Pike's Woods. But it's too far to walk."

"Of course it is, Mopsy. We'll have a big wagon that will hold us all.
You may invite your friends, and I'll invite a comrade of my own. Will
you go, Mrs. Maynard?"

"I will, with pleasure. I adore picnics, and this bids fair to be a
delightful one. May I assist you in planning the feast?"

"Indeed you may," said Midget, smiling at her mother. "But we can
choose, can't we?"

"Of course, choose ahead."

"Ice-cream," said Marjorie, promptly.

"Little lemon tarts," said Kitty.

"Candy," said Rosy Posy.

"Cold chicken," said Kingdon.

"That's a fine bill of fare," said Mr. Maynard, "but I'll add sandwiches
and lemonade as my suggestions, and anything we've omitted, I'm sure
will get into the baskets somehow."

"Oh, won't it be lovely!" exclaimed Marjorie. "I haven't been on a
picnic with our own family for so long. We had picnics at Grandma's, but
nothing is as much fun as an Ourday."

"Let's take the camera," said Kingdon, "and get some snapshots."

"Yes, and let's take fishlines, and fish in the brook," said Kitty.

"All right, chickabiddies; we'll have a roomy wagon to travel in, so
take whatever you like. And now I must be off. Little Mother, you'll
make a list to-day, won't you, of such things as I am to get for this
frolic?"

"Candy," repeated Rosy Posy; "don't fordet that."

As the baby was not allowed much candy, she always chose it for her
Ourday treat.

Mr. Maynard went away to his business, and the others remained at the
breakfast table, talking over the coming pleasure.

"We'll have a great time!" said Kingdon. "We'll make father play Indians
and shipwreck and everything."

"Don't make me play Indians!" exclaimed his mother, in mock dismay.

"No, indeedy! You couldn't be an Indian. You're too white-folksy. But
you can be a Captive Princess."

"Yes!" cried Marjorie; "in chains and shut up in a dungeon."

"No, no," screamed Rosy Posy; "my muvver not be shutted up in dunjin!"

"No, she shan't, Baby," said her brother, comfortingly; "and, anyway,
Mops, Indians don't put people in dungeons, you're thinking of
Mediævals."

"Well, I don't care," said Midget, happily; "we'll have a lovely time,
whatever we play. I'm going over to ask Gladys now. May I, Mother?"

"Yes, Midget, run along. Tell Mrs. Fulton that Father and I are going,
and that we'd be glad to take Gladys and Dick."

Away skipped Marjorie, hatless and coatless, for it was a warm day, and
Gladys lived only across the street.

"It's so nice to have you back again, Mopsy," said Gladys, after the
invitation had been given and accepted. "I was awful lonesome for you
all summer."

"I missed you, too; but I did have a lovely time. Oh, Gladys, I wish you
could see my tree-house at Grandma's! Breezy Inn, its name is, and we
had _such_ fun in it."

"Why don't you have one here? Won't your father make one for you?"

"I don't know. Yes, I suppose he would. But it wouldn't seem the same.
It just _belongs_ at Grandma's. And, anyway, I'm busy all the time here.
There's so much to do. We play a lot, you know. And then I have my
practising every day, and, oh dear, week after next school will begin. I
just hate school, don't you, Gladys?"

"No, I love it; you know I do."

"Well, I don't. I don't mind the lessons, but I hate to sit cooped up at
a desk all day. I wish they'd have schools out of doors."

"Yes, I'd like that, too. I wonder if we can sit together, this year,
Mops?"

"Oh, I hope so. Let's ask Miss Lawrence that, the very first thing. Why,
I'd die if I had to sit with any one but you."

"So would I. But I'm sure Miss Lawrence will let us be together."

Gladys was a pretty little girl, though not at all like Marjorie. She
was about the same age, but smaller, and with light hair and blue eyes.
She was more sedate than Midget, and more quiet in her ways, but she had
the same love of fun and mischief, and more than once the two girls had
been separated in the schoolroom because of the pranks they concocted
when together.

Miss Lawrence, their teacher, was a gentle and long-suffering lady, and
she loved both little girls, but she was sometimes at her wits' end to
know how to tame their rollicking spirits.

Gladys was as pleased as Marjorie at the prospect of the picnic. Often
the Maynard children had their Ourdays without inviting other guests,
but when outsiders were invited they always remembered the happy
occasions.

All through the week preparations went on, and on Friday Ellen, the
cook, gave up most of the day to the making of cakes and tarts and
jellies. The next morning she was to get up early to fry the chicken and
prepare the devilled eggs.

Mr. Maynard brought home candies and fruit from the city, and a huge can
of ice-cream was ordered from the caterer.

The start was to be made at nine o'clock Saturday morning, for it was a
long drive, and everybody wanted a long day in the woods.

Friday evening was fair, with a beautiful sunset, and everything boded
well for beautiful weather the next day.

Rosy Posy, after her bread-and-milk supper, went happily off to bed, and
dropped to sleep while telling her beloved Boffin of the fun to come.
The other children dined with their parents, and the conversation was
exclusively on the one great subject.

"I don't think it _could_ rain; do you, Father?" said Kitty, looking
over her shoulder, at the fading sunset tints.

"I think it _could_, my dear, but I don't think it will. All signs point
to fair weather, and I truly believe we'll have a perfect Ourday and a
jolly good time."

"We always do," said Midge, happily. "I wonder why all fathers don't
have Ourdays with their children. Gladys' father never gets home till
seven o'clock, and she has to go to bed at eight, so she hardly sees him
at all, except Sundays, and of course they can't play on Sundays."

"They must meet as strangers," said Mr. Maynard. "I think our plan is
better. I like to feel chummy with my own family, and the only way to do
it is to keep acquainted with each other. I wish I could have a whole
day with you every week, instead of only every month."

"Can't you, Father?" said Kitty, wistfully.

"No, daughter. I have too much business to attend to, to allow me a
holiday every week. But perhaps some day I can manage it. Are you taking
a hammock to-morrow, King?"

"Yes, sir. I thought Mother might like an afternoon nap, and Rosy Posy
always goes to sleep in the morning."

"Thoughtful boy. Take plenty of rope, but you needn't bother to take
trees to swing it from."

"No, we'll take the chance of finding some there."

"Yes, doubtless somebody will have left them from the last picnic. Your
young friends are going?"

"Yes," said Marjorie. "King and I asked the two Fultons, and Kitty asked
Dorothy Adams. With all of us, and Nurse Nannie, that makes just ten."

"And the driver of the wagon makes eleven," said Mr. Maynard. "I suppose
we've enough rations for such an army?"

"Yes, indeed," said Mrs. Maynard, smiling. "Enough for twenty, I think,
but it's well to be on the safe side."

The children went to bed rather earlier than usual, in order to be up
bright and early for the picnic.

Their play-clothes, which were invariably of blue and white striped
seersucker, were laid out in readiness, and they fell asleep wishing it
were already morning.

But when the morning did come!

Marjorie wakened first, and before she opened her eyes she heard an
ominous sound that sent a thrill of dismay to her heart.

She sprang out of bed, and ran to the window.

Yes, it was not only raining, it was simply _pouring_.

One of those steady, determined storms that show no sign of speedy
clearing. The sky was dark, leaden gray, and the rain came down in what
seemed to be a thick, solid volume of water.

"Oh!" said Marjorie, with a groan of disappointment from her very heart.

"Kitty," she said, softly, wondering if her sister were awake.

The girls had two beds on either side of a large room, and Midget
tiptoed across the floor, as she spoke. Kitty opened her eyes sleepily.
"What is it, Midget? Time to get up? Oh, it's picnic day!"

As Kitty became broad awake, she smiled and gaily hopped out of bed.

"What's the matter?" she said, in alarm, for Marjorie's face was
anything but smiling.

For answer, Midget pointed out of the window, toward which Kitty turned
for the first time.

"Oh!" said she, dropping back on the edge of the bed.

And, indeed, there seemed to be nothing else to say. Both girls were so
overwhelmed with disappointment that they could only look at each other
with despondent faces.

Silently they began to draw on their stockings and shoes, and though
determined they wouldn't do anything so babyish as to cry, yet it was no
easy matter to keep the tears back.

"Up yet, chickabiddies?" called Mr. Maynard's cheery voice through the
closed door.

"Yes, sir," responded two doleful voices.

"Then skip along downstairs as soon as you're ready; it's a lovely day
for our picnic."

Midge and Kitty looked at each other. This seemed a heartless jest
indeed! And it wasn't a bit like their father to tease them when they
were in trouble. And real trouble this surely was!

They heard Mr. Maynard tap at King's door, and call out some gay
greeting to him, and then they heard King splashing about, as if making
his toilet in a great hurry. All this spurred the girls to dress more
quickly, and it was not long before they were tying each other's
hair-ribbons and buttoning each other's frocks.

Then they fairly ran downstairs, and, seeing Mr. Maynard standing by the
dining-room window, they both threw themselves into his arms, crying
out, "Oh, Father, isn't it _too_ bad?"

"What?" asked Mr. Maynard, quizzically.

"Now, Daddy," said Midget, "don't tease. Our hearts are all broken
because it's raining, and we can't have our picnic."

"Can't have our picnic!" exclaimed Mr. Maynard, in apparent excitement.
"Can't have our picnic, indeed! Who says we can't?"

"I say so!" exclaimed Kingdon, who had just entered the room. "Nobody
but ducks can have a picnic to-day."

"Oh, well," said Mr. Maynard, looking crestfallen, "if King says so that
settles it. _I_ think it's a beautiful picnic day, but far be it from me
to obtrude my own opinions."

Just here Mrs. Maynard and Rosy Posy came in. They were both smiling,
and though no one expected the baby to take the disappointment very
seriously, yet it did seem as if Mother might have been more
sympathetic.

"I suppose we can eat the ice-cream in the house," said Marjorie, who
was inclined to look on the bright side if she could possibly find one.

"That's the way to talk!" said her father, approvingly. "Now you try,
Kingdon, to meet the situation as it should be met."

"I will, sir. I'm just as disappointed as I can be, but I suppose
there's no use crying over spilt milk,--I mean spilt raindrops."

"That's good philosophy, my boy. Now, Kitty, what have you to say by way
of cheering us all up?"

"I can't see much fun in a day like this. But I hope we can have the
picnic on the next Ourday."

"That's a brave, cheerful spirit. Now, my sad and disheartened crew,
take your seats at the breakfast table, and listen to your foolishly
optimistic old father."

The children half-heartedly took their places, but seemed to have no
thought of eating breakfast.

"Wowly-wow-wow!" said Mr. Maynard, looking around the table. "_What_ a
set of blue faces! Would it brighten you up any if I should prophesy
that at dinner-time to-night you will all say it has been the best
Ourday we've ever had, and that you're glad it rained?"

"Oh, Father!" said Marjorie, in a tone of wondering reproach, while
Kitty and King looked blankly incredulous, and Mrs. Maynard smiled
mysteriously.



CHAPTER IV

AN OURDAY


It was impossible to resist the infection of Mr. Maynard's gay
good-nature, and by the time breakfast was over, the children were in
their usual merry mood. Though an occasional glance out of the window
brought a shadow to one face or another, it was quickly dispelled by the
laughter and gaiety within.

Marjorie was perhaps the most disappointed of them all, for it was her
day, and she had set her heart on the picnic in the woods. But she tried
to make the best of it, remembering that, after all, father would be at
home all day, and that was a treat of itself.

After breakfast, Mr. Maynard led the way to the living-room, followed by
his half-hopeful brood. They all felt that something would be done to
make up for their lost pleasure, but it didn't seem as if it could be
anything very nice.

Mr. Maynard looked out of the front window in silence for a moment, then
suddenly he turned and faced the children.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said; "do any of you know the story of
Mahomet and the mountain?"

"No, sir," was the answer of every one, and Marjorie's spirits sank. She
liked to hear her father tell stories sometimes, but it was a tame
entertainment to take the place of a picnic, and Mahomet didn't sound
like an interesting subject, anyway.

Mr. Maynard's eyes twinkled.

"This is the story," he began; "sit down while I tell it to you."

With a little sigh Marjorie sat down on the sofa, and the others
followed her example. Rosy Posy, hugging Boffin, scrambled up into a big
armchair, and settled herself to listen.

"It is an old story," went on Mr. Maynard, "and the point of it is that
if the mountain wouldn't come to Mahomet, Mahomet must needs go to the
mountain. But to-day I propose to reverse the story, and since you four
sad, forlorn-looking Mahomets can't go to the picnic, why then, the
picnic must come to you. And here it is!"

As Mr. Maynard spoke--indeed he timed his words purposely--their own
carriage drove up to the front door, and, flying to the window, Marjorie
saw some children getting out of it. Though bundled up in raincoats and
caps, she soon recognized Gladys and Dick Fulton and Dorothy Adams.

In a moment they all met in the hall, and the laughter and shouting
effectually banished the last trace of disappointment from the young
Maynards' faces.

"Did you come for the picnic?" said Marjorie to Gladys, in amazement.

"Yes; your father telephoned early this morning,--before breakfast,--and
he said the picnic would be in the house instead of in the woods. And he
sent the carriage for us all."

"Great! Isn't it?" said Dick Fulton, as he helped his sister off with
her mackintosh. "I thought there'd be no picnic, but here we are."

"Here we are, indeed!" said Mr. Maynard, who was helping Dorothy Adams
unwind an entangling veil, "and everybody as dry as a bone."

"Yes," said Dorothy, "the storm is awful, but in your close carriage,
and with all these wraps, I couldn't get wet."

"Oh, isn't it fun!" cried Kitty, as she threw her arms around her dear
friend, Dorothy. "Are you to stay all day?"

"Yes, until six o'clock. Mr. Maynard says picnics always last until
sundown."

Back they all trooped to the big living-room, which presented a cheerful
aspect indeed. The rainy morning being chilly, an open fire in the ample
fireplace threw out a cheerful blaze and warmth. Mrs. Maynard's pleasant
face smiled brightly, as she welcomed each little guest, and afterward
she excused herself, saying she had some household matters to attend to
and that Mr. Maynard would take charge of the "picnic."

"First of all," said the host, as the children turned expectant faces
toward him, "nobody is to say, 'What a pity it rained!' or anything like
that. Indeed, you are not to look out at the storm at all, unless you
say, 'How fortunate we are under cover!' or words to that effect."

"All right, sir," said Dick Fulton, "I agree. And I think a picnic in
the house will be dead loads of fun."

"That's the way to talk," said Mr. Maynard, "and now the picnic will
begin. The first part of it will be a nutting-party."

"Oho!" laughed Marjorie. "A nutting-party in the house is 'most too
much! I don't see any trees;" and she looked around in mock dismay.

"Do you usually pick the nuts off of trees?" asked her father,
quizzically. "You know you don't! You gather them after they have
fallen. Now nuts have fallen all over this house, in every room, and all
you have to do is to gather them. Each may have a basket, and see who
can find the most. Scamper, now!"

While Mr. Maynard was talking, Sarah, the waitress, had come in,
bringing seven pretty baskets of fancy wicker-ware. One was given to
each child, and off they ran in quest of nuts.

"Every room, Father?" called back Marjorie, over her shoulder.

"Every room," he replied, "except the kitchen. You must not go out
there to bother cook. She has all she can attend to."

This sounded pleasant, so Marjorie went on, only pausing for one more
question.

"What kind of nuts, Father?"

"Gather any kind you see, my child. There was such a strong wind last
night, I daresay it blew down all sorts."

And truly that seemed to be the case. Shrieks of surprise and delight
from the whole seven announced the discoveries they made.

They found peanuts, English walnuts, pecan nuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts,
almonds, hickory nuts, black walnuts, and some of which they didn't know
the names.

The nuts were hidden in all sorts of places. Stuffed down in the
cushions of chairs and sofas, on mantels and brackets, under rugs and
footstools, on window sills, on the floor, on the chandeliers, they
seemed to be everywhere. All over the house the children scampered,
filling their baskets as they went.

Sometimes two would make a dash for the same nut, and two bumped heads
would ensue, but this was looked upon as part of the fun.

The older children gathered their nuts from the highest places, leaving
the low places for the little ones to look into.

Rosy Posy found most of those on the floor, behind the lace curtains or
portières, as she toddled about with her basket on one arm and Boffin in
the other.

At last the whole house had been pretty thoroughly ransacked, and the
nutting-party returned in triumph with loaded baskets.

"Did you look under the sofa pillows on the couch in this room?" said
Mr. Maynard, gravely, and seven pairs of legs scampered for the couch.

Under its pillows they found three big _cocoanuts_, and Mr. Maynard
declared that completed the hunt.

Meantime, the big, round table in the middle of the room had been
cleared of its books and papers, and the children were directed to empty
their baskets of nuts on the table, taking care that none should roll
off the edge. The seven basketsful were tumbled out, and a goodly heap
they made.

Then the seven sat round the table, and to each one was given a tiny
pair of candy tongs, such as comes with the confectioner's boxes.

"This is a new game," explained Mr. Maynard, "and it's called Jacknuts.
It is played just the same as Jackstraws. Each, in turn, must take nuts
from the heap with the tongs. If you jar or jostle another nut than the
one you're taking away, it is then the next player's turn."

Of course they all knew how to play Jackstraws, so they understood at
once, but this was much more fun.

"The first ones are so easy, let's give Rosy Posy the first chance,"
said Dick Fulton, and Mr. Maynard, with a nod of approval at the boy,
agreed to this plan. So Rosy Posy, her fat little hand grasping the tiny
tongs, succeeded in getting nearly a dozen nuts into her basket.

As Dorothy Adams was not quite as old as Kitty, she took her turn next,
and then all followed in accordance with their ages.

It was a fascinating game. Some of the little hazelnuts or the slender
peanuts were easy to nip with the tongs, but the big English walnuts, or
queer-shaped Madeira nuts were very difficult. Great delicacy of touch
was necessary, and the children found the new game enthralling.

After her first turn Rosy Posy ran away from the game, and Mr. Maynard
took her place.

"Oho, Father," laughed Kitty, "I thought you'd get them all, but you're
no more successful at it than we are."

"No," said Mr. Maynard, looking with chagrin at his small heap of nuts,
"my fingers are too old and stiff, I think."

"So are mine," said Marjorie, laughing.

"You're too fat, Dumpling," said her father. "Kitty's slim little claws
seem to do the best work."

"I think it's a steady hand that counts," said Dick; "watch me now!"

With great care, and very slowly, he picked off several nuts that were
daintily balanced on the other nuts, but at last he joggled one, and it
was King's turn.

"I believe in going fast," said King, and like a whirlwind he picked off
four nuts, one after the other. But his last one sent several others
flying, and so left an easy chance for Gladys, who came next.

"There's a prize for this game," announced Mr. Maynard, after the table
was entirely cleared, and the nuts were again all in the seven baskets.
"In fact there's a prize apiece, all round. And the prizes are nuts, of
course. You may each have one."

"One nut!" cried Marjorie. "What a little prize!"

"Not so very little," said her father, smiling.

Then Sarah appeared with a plate of _doughnuts_, and everybody gladly
took a prize. A glass of milk went with each of these nuts, and then the
children clamored to play the game all over again.

"No, indeed!" said Mr. Maynard. "You can play that any day in the year,
but just now we're having a picnic, and the picnic must proceed with its
programme."

"All right!" cried Marjorie. "What comes next?"

"Crackers," said her father. "Bring them in, please, Sarah."

"Crackers!" exclaimed King. "I don't want any after that big doughnut."

"You must take one, though," said his father, "it's part of the
programme."

Then Sarah came, and brought a big tray on which were three
nutcrackers, some nutpicks, and several bowls and plates.

"Take a cracker, King," said Mr. Maynard, and the boy promptly took the
biggest nutcracker, ready to do the hardest work.

The girls took nutpicks and bowls, and Mr. Maynard and Dick Fulton took
the other two nutcrackers, and then work began in earnest. But the work
was really play, and they all enjoyed cracking and picking out the nuts,
though what they were doing it for nobody knew. But with so many at it,
it was soon over, and the result was several bowlsful of kernels. The
shells were thrown into the fire, and Mr. Maynard directed that the
seven empty baskets be set aside till later.

"We haven't cracked the cocoanuts yet," said Dick. "They're too big for
these nutcrackers."

"So they are," said Mr. Maynard. "Well, I'll tell you what we'll do.
We'll take them to the dining-room and continue our nut game out there."

So each carried a bowl of nuts, or a cocoanut, and all went to the
dining-room.

There the extension-table was spread out full length, and contained a
lot of things. On big sheets of white paper were piles of sifted sugar.
Large empty bowls there were, and big spoons, and plates and dishes
filled with figs and dates, and oranges and all sorts of goodies.

"What's it all for?" said Marjorie. "It's too early for lunch, and too
late for breakfast."

"It's the rest of the nut game," said Mr. Maynard. "I am Professor
Nuttall, or Know-it-all; and I'm going to teach you children what I hope
will be a valuable accomplishment. Do any of you like candy?"

Replies of "We do," and "Yes, sir," came so emphatically that Mr.
Maynard seemed satisfied with the answers.

"Well, then, we'll make some candy that shall be just the best ever!
How's that?"

"Fine!" "Glorious!" "Goody, goody!" "Great!" "Oh, Father!" and "Ah!"
came loudly from six young throats, and Mrs. Maynard and Rosy Posy came
to join the game.

Sarah came, too, bringing white aprons for everybody, boys and all, and
then Nurse Nannie appeared, and marched them off, two by two, to wash
their hands for the candy-making process.



CHAPTER V

A NOVEL PICNIC


But at last they were all ready to begin.

Mr. Maynard, in his position of teacher, insisted on absolute system and
method, and everything was arranged with care and regularity.

"The first thing to learn in candy-making," he said, "is neatness; and
the second, accuracy."

"Why, Father," cried Dorothy, "I didn't know you knew how to make
candy!"

"I know more than you'd believe, to look at me. And now, if you four
girls will each squeeze the juice of an orange into a cup, we'll begin."

Marjorie and Kitty and Gladys and Dorothy obeyed instructions exactly,
and soon each was carefully breaking an egg, and still more carefully
separating the white from the yolk.

Mrs. Maynard seemed to find plenty to do just waiting on the workers,
and it was largely owing to her thoughtfulness that oranges and eggs
and cups and spoons appeared when needed, almost as if by magic.

Meantime the two boys were working rapidly and carefully, too. They
grated cocoanut and chocolate; they cut up figs and seeded dates; they
chopped nuts and raisins; and they received admiring compliments from
Mrs. Maynard for the satisfactory results of their work.

"Oh, isn't it fun!" exclaimed Marjorie, as she and Gladys were taught to
mould the creamy, white _fondant_ they had made, into tiny balls. Some
of these white balls the smaller girls pressed between two nut kernels,
or into a split date; and others were to be made into chocolate creams.
This last was a thrilling process, for it was not easy at first to drop
the white ball into the hot black chocolate, and remove it daintily with
a silver fork, being most careful the while not to leave untidy
drippings.

Cocoanut balls were made, and nougat, which was cut into cubes, and
lovely, flat peanut sugar cakes.

The boys did all these things quite as well as the girls, and all,
except Rosy Posy, worked with a will and really accomplished wonders.

Each was allowed to eat five finished candies of any sort and at any
time they chose, but they were on their honor not to eat more than five.

"Oh," sighed Marjorie, as she looked at the shining rows of goodies on
plates and tins, "I'd like to eat a hundred!"

"You wouldn't want any luncheon, then," said her father. "And as it's
now noon, and as our candies are all done, I suggest that you all
scamper away to some place where soap and water grow wild, and return as
soon as possible, all tidy and neat for our picnic luncheon."

"Lunch time!" cried Gladys, in surprise. "It can't be! Why, we've only
been here a little while."

But it was half-past twelve, and for the first time that whole morning
the children looked out of the windows.

"It's still raining," said King, "and I'm glad of it. We're having more
fun than at an outdoor picnic, _I_ think."

"So do I!" cried all the others, as they ran away upstairs.

Shortly after, seven very spick-and-span-looking children presented
themselves in the lower hall. Curls had been brushed, hair-ribbons
freshly tied, and even Boffin had a new blue ribbon round his neck.

"Now for the real picnic!" cried Mr. Maynard, as he led the way into the
living-room.

As Marjorie entered, she gave a shriek of delight, and turned to rush
into her father's arms.

"Oh, Daddy!" she cried. "You do beat the Dutch! What a lovely picnic!
It's a million times better than going to the woods!"

"Especially on a day like this," said her father.

The others, too, gave exclamations of joy, and indeed that was small
wonder.

The whole room had _almost_ been turned into a woodland glen.

On the floor were spread some old green muslin curtains that had once
been used for private theatricals or something.

Round the walls stood all the palms and ferns and plants that belonged
in other parts of the house, and these were enough to give quite an
outdoorsy look to the place.

To add to this, great branches of leaves were thrust behind sofas or
tables. Some leaves were green and some had already turned to autumn
tints, so it was almost like a real wood.

Chairs and tables had been taken away, and to sit on, the children found
some big logs of wood, like trunks of fallen trees, and some large, flat
stones.

James, the coachman, and Thomas, the gardener, had been working at the
room all the time the children were making candy, and even now they were
peeping in at the windows to see the young people enjoying themselves.

In the middle of the room was what looked like a big, flat rock. As it
was covered with an old, gray rubber waterproof, it was probably an
artificial rock, but it answered its purpose. Real stones, twigs,
leaves, and even clumps of moss were all about on the green floor cloth,
and overhead were the children's birds, which had been brought down from
the playroom, and which sang gaily in honor of the occasion.

"Isn't it wonderful?" said Dorothy Adams, a little awed at the
transformation scene; "how did you do it, Mr. Maynard?"

"I told my children," he replied, "that since they couldn't go to the
picnic the picnic should come to them, and here it is."

Rosy Posy discovered a pile of hay in a corner, and plumped herself
down upon it, still holding tightly her beloved Boffin.

Then James and Thomas came in carrying big, covered baskets.

"The picnic! The picnic!" cried Rosy Posy, to whom a picnic meant
chiefly the feast thereof.

After the baskets were deposited on the ground near the flat rock, James
and Thomas went away, and none of the servants remained but Nurse
Nannie, who would have gone to the picnic in the wood, and who was
needed to look after little Rosamond.

"Now, my boys," said Mr. Maynard, "we must wait on ourselves, you know;
and on the ladies. This is a real picnic."

Very willingly the boys fell upon the baskets, and soon had their
contents set out upon the big rocks.

Such shouts of delight as went up at sight of those contents!

And indeed it was fun!

No china dishes or linen napery, but wooden plates and Japanese paper
napkins in true picnic style. Then while the girls set the viands in
order, the boys mended the fire in the big fireplace, and put potatoes
in to roast. Mrs. Maynard had thoughtfully selected small potatoes, and
so they were soon done, and with butter and pepper and salt they tasted
exactly as roast potatoes do in the woods, and every one knows there is
no better taste than that!

While the potatoes were roasting, too, the lemonade must be made. Mr.
Maynard and Dick Fulton squeezed the lemons, while Kingdon volunteered
to go down to the spring for water.

This made great fun, for they all knew he only went to the kitchen, but
he returned with a pail of "cold spring water," and then Mrs. Maynard
attended to the mixing of the lemonade.

The feast itself was found to include everything that had been asked for
beforehand.

Cold chicken, devilled eggs, sandwiches, lemon tarts, all were there,
besides lots of other good things.

They all pretended, of course, that they were really in the woods.

"How blue the sky is to-day," said Mr. Maynard, looking upward, as he
sat on a log, with a sandwich in one hand and a glass of lemonade in the
other.

As the ceiling was papered in a design of white and gold, it required
some imagination to follow his remark, but they were all equal to it.

"Yes," said Marjorie, gazing intently skyward; "it's a beeyootiful day.
But I see a slight cloud, as if it _might_ rain to-morrow."

"We need rain," said Mr. Maynard; "the country is drying up for the lack
of it."

As it was still pouring steadily, this was very funny, and of course
they all giggled.

Then King went on.

"The sun is so bright it hurts my eyes. I wish I had a pair of green
glasses to protect them."

"Or a parasol," said Gladys. "I'm sorry I left mine at home."

"What are we going to do at the picnic this afternoon, Father?" asked
Kitty.

"I thought we'd fly kites," said Mr. Maynard, "but there isn't a breath
of air stirring, so we can't."

The wind was blowing a perfect gale, so this made them all laugh again,
and Gladys said to Marjorie, "I do think your father is the _funniest_
man!"

At last the more substantial part of the luncheon was over, and it was
time for the ice-cream.

The freezer was brought right into the picnic ground, and Kingdon and
Dick were asked to dig the ice-cream out with a big wooden spoon, just
as they always did at picnics. The heaps of pink and white delight, on
fresh pasteboard plates, were passed around, and were eaten by those
surprising children with as much relish as if they hadn't just consumed
several basketsful of other things.

Then the candies were brought in, but, strange to say, nobody cared much
for any just then.

So Mrs. Maynard had the seven pretty fancy baskets, that they had
gathered nuts in, brought back, and each child was allowed to fill a
basket with the pretty candies.

These were set away until the picnic was over, when they were to be
taken home as souvenirs.

Luncheon over, Mr. Maynard decreed that the picnickers needn't do the
cleaning away, as that couldn't be done by merely throwing away things
as they did in the woods.

So Sarah came in to tidy up the room, and Mr. Maynard seated his whole
party on the big logs and stones, while he told them stories.

The stories were well worth listening to, and though Rosy Posy fell
asleep, the others listened breathlessly to the tales which were told in
a truly dramatic fashion. But after an hour or so of this, Mr. Maynard
suddenly declared that the picnic was becoming too quiet.

"I wanted you all to sit still for a while after your hearty luncheon,"
he said, "but now you need exercise. Shall we play 'Still Pond'?"

A howl of glee greeted this suggestion, for Still Pond in the house was
usually a forbidden game.

As you probably know, it is like Blindman's Buff, only the ones who are
not blinded may not move.

Marjorie was "It" first, and after being carefully blindfolded by her
father, she stood still in the middle of the floor and counted ten very
slowly. While she did this, the others placed themselves behind tables
or chairs, or wherever they felt safe from the blindfolded pursuer.

"Ten!" cried Marjorie, at last. "Still Pond! No moving!"

This was a signal for perfect quiet; any one moving after that had to be
"It" in turn.

No sound was heard, so Marjorie felt her way cautiously about until she
should catch some one. It was hard for the others not to laugh as she
narrowly escaped touching Kingdon's head above the back of the sofa, and
almost caught Kitty's foot as it swung from a table. But at last she
caught her father, who was on the floor covered up with an afghan, and
so Mr. Maynard was "It" in his turn.

It was a rollicking game, and a very exciting one, and, as often was the
case, it soon merged into Blindman's Buff. This was even more romping
and noisy, and soon the picnic sounded like Pandemonium let loose.

"Good!" cried Mr. Maynard, as he looked at the red, laughing faces, and
moist, tumbled curls. "You look just like a lot of healthy, happy boys
and girls should look, but that's enough of that. Now, we'll sit down in
a circle, and play quiet games."

Again the group occupied the logs and stones, ottomans and sofa cushions
if they preferred, and they played guessing games selected by each in
turn.

When it was Mr. Maynard's turn, he said he would teach them the game of
the Popular Picnic. He began by telling them they must each in turn
repeat what he himself should say.

Turning to Kingdon, he said, "To-day I have been to the Popular Picnic."

So Kingdon said to Dick, "To-day I have been to the Popular Picnic."

Then Dick said it to Marjorie, and Marjorie to Gladys, and so on all
round the circle.

Then Mr. Maynard said, gravely: "To-day I have been to the Popular
Picnic. Merry, madcap Mopsy Midget was there."

This was repeated all round, and then to the lingo Mr. Maynard added,
"Kicking, kinky-legged Kingdon was there."

This, after the other, was not so easy, but they all repeated it.

Next came, "Dear, dainty, do-little Dorothy was there."

This made them laugh, but they said it safely all round.

Then, "Delightful, dangerous, Deadwood Dick was there."

They had to help each other this time, but not one of them would give up
the game.

"Gay, gregarious, giggling Gladys was there."

Gladys was indeed giggling, but so were all the others. Still they were
a determined lot, and each time round each one repeated all the sets of
names, amid the laughing of the others.

"Kind-hearted, Kindergarten Kitty," was an easy one, but when the list
wound up with "Rollicking Rufflecumtuffle Rosy Posy," the game ended in
a gale of laughter.

But they remembered many of the funny phrases, and often called each
other by them afterward.

"Now," said Mr. Maynard, "we'll play something less wearing on the
intellect. This is called the motor-car game, and you must all sit in a
row. Kingdon, you're the chauffeur, and when chauffeur is mentioned, you
must make a 'chuff-chuff' sound like starting the machine. Dick, you're
the tire, and when tire is said, you must make a fearful report like an
explosion of a bursting tire. Dorothy, you're the number, and when
number is mentioned, you must say six-three-nine-nine-seven."

"What am I, Father?" said impatient Kitty.

"Oh, you're the man that they run over, and you must groan and scream.
Marjorie, you're the speed limit, and you must cry, 'Whiz! Zip!!
_Whizz!!!_' Gladys, you're the dust. All you have to do is to fly about
and wave your arms and hands, and sneeze. Rosy Posy, baby, you're the
horn. Whenever father says _horn_, you must say 'Toot, toot!' Will you?"

"Ess. Me play game booful, me an' Boffin; we say, 'Toot, toot!'"

"Now," went on Mr. Maynard, "I'll tell the story and when any of you are
mentioned you must do your part. Then if I say automobile, you must all
do your parts at once. Ready now: Well, this morning I started out for a
ride and first thing I knew my tire burst."

A fearful "Plop!" from Dick startled them all, and then the game went
on.

"I feared I was exceeding the speed-limit [much puffing and whizzing
from Marjorie], and as I looked back through the dust [great cloud of
dust represented by Gladys' pantomime] I saw I had run over a man!"

The awful groans and wails from Kitty were so realistic that Mr. Maynard
himself shook with laughter.

"I sounded my horn----"

"Tooty-toot-toot!" said Rosy Posy, after being prompted by Kingdon.

"But as I was my own chauffeur"--here Kingdon's representation of a
starting motor quite drowned the speaker's voice--"I hastened on before
they could even get my number."

"Eight-six-eleven-nine," cried Dorothy, quite forgetting the numbers she
had been told. But nobody minded it, for just then Mr. Maynard said,
"And so I went home with my automobile."

At this everybody turned up at once, and the dust cloud flew about, and
the man who was run over groaned fearfully, and tires burst one after
another, and the horn tooted, until Mr. Maynard was really obliged to
cry for mercy, and the game was at an end.

The afternoon, too, was nearly at an end, and so quickly had it flown
that nobody could believe it was almost six o'clock!

But it was, and it was time for the picnic to break up, and for the
little guests to go home. It had stopped raining, but was still dull and
wet, so the raincoats were donned again, and, with their beautiful
baskets of candies wrapped in protecting tissue papers, Gladys and
Dorothy and Dick clambered into Mr. Maynard's carriage and were driven
to their homes.

"Good-bye!" they called, as they drove away. "Good-bye, all! We've had a
_lovely_ time!"

"Lovely? I should say so!" said Marjorie, who was clinging to her
father's arm. "It's been the very best Ourday ever, and I'm _so_ glad it
rained!"

"My prophecy has come true!" declared Mr. Maynard, striking a dramatic
attitude. "Only this morning I prognosticated you'd say that, and
you----"

"And I didn't see how it could be possible," agreed Marjorie, wagging
her head, wisely. "I know it. But you made it possible, you beautiful,
dear, smart, clever, sweet father, you, and I've had just the elegantest
time!"

"When it's my turn, I shall choose a picnic in the house," said Kitty.

"Not unless it's a rainy day," said her father. "I've enjoyed the day,
too, but I can tell you it's no joke to get up this kind of a picnic.
Why, I was telephoning and sending errands for two hours before you
kiddies were awake this morning."

"Dear Daddy," said Marjorie, caressing his hand in both her own, "you
are _so_ good to us; and I _do_ hope it will rain next Ourday!"

"So do I!" said all the others.



CHAPTER VI

THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL


At last schooldays began, and one Monday morning the three Maynards
started off.

The first day of school was a great occasion, and much preparation had
been made for it.

Mr. Maynard had brought each of the children a fine new box, well
stocked with pencils, pens, and things of that sort. Kitty had a new
slate, and Midget and King had new blankbooks.

Also, they were all in a state of clean starchiness, and the girls'
pretty gingham dresses and King's wide white collar were immaculate.

Marjorie didn't look especially happy, but her mother said:

"Now, Mopsy, dear, don't go to school as if it were penance. Try to
enjoy it, and think of the fun you'll have playing with the other girls
at recess."

"I know, Mother; but recess is so short, and school is so long."

"Ho! Only till one o'clock," said Kingdon. "Then we can come home, have
lunch, and then there's all the afternoon to play."

"Yes, for you," said Marjorie. "But I have to practise a whole hour, and
that leaves almost no time at all, and there are so many things I want
to do."

"Now, my little girl," said Mrs. Maynard, very seriously, "you must try
to conquer that mood. You know you have to go to school, so why not make
the best of it? You don't really dislike it as much as you think you do.
So, cheer up, little daughter, and run along, determined to see the
bright side, even of school."

"I will try, Mother," said Midget, smiling, as she received her good-bye
kiss, "but I'll be glad when it's one o'clock."

"I wiss me could go to school," said Rosy Posy, wistfully; "me an'
Boffin, we'd have fun in school."

"There it is," said Mrs. Maynard, laughing. "Little girls who can go to
school don't want to go, and little girls who can't go do want to!"

"You'll go some day, Baby," said King, "but they won't let you take
Boffin."

"Den I won't go!" declared Rosy Posy, decidedly.

The three walked down the path to the gate, and, soon after they reached
the street, they were joined by several others, also schoolward bound.

Marjorie's spirits rose, as she chatted with the merry young people; and
as they passed the Fulton house, and Dick and Gladys came out, Marjorie
was so glad to see her friend that she was at once her own happy, merry
little self again.

Miss Lawrence's room was one of the pleasantest in the big brick
building. When Marjorie and Gladys presented themselves at her desk, and
asked if they might sit together, the teacher hesitated. She wanted to
grant the request of the little girls, but they had been in her class
the year before, and she well knew their propensities for mischief.

"Oh, please, Miss Lawrence!" begged Marjorie; and, "Oh, do say yes!"
pleaded Gladys.

It was hard to resist the little coaxers, and Miss Lawrence at last
consented.

"But," she said, "you may sit at the same desk only so long as you
behave well. If you cut up naughty pranks, I shall separate you for the
rest of the term."

"We won't!" "We will be good!" cried the two children, and they ran
happily away to their desk.

Each desk was arranged for two occupants, and both Marjorie and Gladys
enjoyed putting their things away neatly, and keeping them in good
order. They never spilled ink, or kept their papers helter-skelter, and
but for their mischievous ways, would have been model pupils indeed.

"Let's be real good all the term, Gladys," said Midget, who was still
under the influence of her mother's parting words. "Let's try not to cut
up tricks, or do anything bad."

"All right, Mopsy. But you mustn't make me laugh in school. It's when
you begin to do funny things that I seem to follow on."

"Well, I won't. I'll be as good as a little white mouse. But if I'm a
mouse, I'll nibble your things."

Down went Marjorie's curly head like a flash, and when it came up again,
Gladys' new penholder was between her teeth, and the "mouse" was
vigorously nibbling it.

"Stop that, Mops! I think you're real mean! That's my new penholder, and
now you've spoiled it."

"So I have! Honest, Gladys, I didn't think the dents would show so. I
was just playing mouse, you know. Here, I'll change, and give you mine.
It's new, too."

"No, I won't take it."

"Yes, you will; you must. I'm awfully sorry I chewed yours."

Poor little Midget! She was always impulsively getting into mischief,
but she was always sorry, and generously anxious to make amends.

So Gladys took Marjorie's penholder, and Mopsy had the nibbled one. She
didn't like it a bit, for she liked to have her things in good order,
but she said to Gladys:

"Perhaps it will make me remember to be good in school. Oh, s'pose I'd
played mouse in school hours!"

"Keep still," said Gladys, "the bell has rung."

The morning passed pleasantly enough, for there were no lessons on the
first day of school.

Books were distributed, and class records were made, and lessons given
out for next day.

Marjorie was delighted with her new geography, which was a larger book
than the one she had had the year before. Especially was she pleased
with a large map which was called the "Water Hemisphere." On the
opposite page was the "Land Hemisphere," and this was a division of the
globe she had never seen before.

The Water Hemisphere pleased her best, and she at once began to play
games with it.

Talking was, of course, forbidden, but motioning for Gladys to follow
her example, she made a tiny paper boat, and then another, and several
others. These she set afloat on the printed ocean of the Water
Hemisphere. Gladys, delighted with the fun, quickly made some boats for
herself, and arranged them on her own geography. Other pupils, seeing
what was going on, followed the example, and soon nearly all the
geographies in the room had little paper craft dotting their oceans.

Next, Marjorie made some little men and women to put in the boats. She
had no scissors, but tore them roughly out of paper which she took from
her blankbook. Other leaves of this she obligingly passed around, until
all the boats in the room were supplied with passengers.

Then Marjorie, still in her position of leader, tore out a semblance of
a fish. It seemed to be a whale or shark, with wide-open jaws.

This awful creature came slowly up from the Antarctic Ocean, toward the
ships full of people.

Suddenly a boat upset, the passengers fell out, and the whale made a
dash for them.

This awful catastrophe was repeated in the other oceans, and, needless
to say, in a moment the whole roomful of children were in peals of
laughter.

Miss Lawrence looked up from her writing, and saw her class all giggling
and shaking behind their geographies. Instinctively she glanced toward
Marjorie, but that innocent damsel had swept all her boats and whales
into her pocket, and was demurely studying her lessons.

Marjorie did not in the least mean to deceive Miss Lawrence, but when
the children all laughed, she suddenly realized that she had been out of
order, and so she quickly stopped her play, and resumed her task.

Observing the open geographies covered with scraps of paper, Miss
Lawrence felt she must at least inquire into the matter, and, though the
children did not want to "tell tales," it soon transpired that Marjorie
Maynard had been ringleader in the game.

"Why did you do it, Marjorie?" asked Miss Lawrence, with a reproachful
expression on her face. As she had meant no harm, Marjorie felt called
upon to defend herself.

"Why, Miss Lawrence," she said, rising in her seat, "I didn't think
everybody would do it, just because I did. And I didn't think much about
it anyway. I s'pose that's the trouble. I _never_ think! But I never had
a jography before with such a big ocean map, and it was such a lovely
place to sail boats, I just made a few. And then I just thought I'd put
some people in the boats, and then it seemed as if such a big ocean
ought to have fish in it. So I made a whale,--and I was going to make a
lot of bluefish and shads and things, but a boat upset, and the whale
came after the people, and then, first thing I knew, everybody was
laughing! I didn't mean to do wrong."

Marjorie looked so genuinely distressed that Miss Lawrence hadn't the
heart to scold her. But she sighed as she thought of the days to come.

"No, Marjorie," she said, "I don't think you did mean to do wrong, but
you ought to know better than to make paper toys to play with in
school."

"But it isn't exactly a schoolday, Miss Lawrence."

"No; and for that very reason I shall not punish you this time. But
remember, after this, that playing games of any sort is out of place in
the schoolroom."

"Yes, ma'am," said Marjorie, and she sat down, feeling that she had been
forgiven, and firmly resolved to try harder than ever to be good.

But half-suppressed chuckles now and then, in different parts of the
schoolroom, proved to the watchful Miss Lawrence that some of the whales
were still lashing about the paper oceans in quest of upturned boats.

The game so filled Marjorie's thoughts that she asked that Gladys and
she might be allowed to stay in the schoolroom at recess and play it.

"There's surely no harm in playing games at recess, is there, Miss
Lawrence?" she asked, as she caressed her teacher's hand.

Miss Lawrence hesitated. "No," she said, at last; "I can't let you stay
in the schoolroom. I'm sorry, dearies, and I hate to be always saying
'No,' but I feel sure your parents want you to run out in the fresh air
at recess time, and they wouldn't like to have you stay indoors."

"Oh, dear," said Marjorie; "seems 'sif we can't have any fun!" Then her
face brightened, and she added, "But mayn't we take our jographies out
on the playground, and play out there?"

There was a rule against taking schoolbooks out of the classrooms, but
Miss Lawrence so disliked to say 'No' again that she made a special
dispensation, and said:

"Yes, do take your geographies out with you. But be very careful not to
soil or tear them."

And so the two girls danced away, and all through the recess hour, boats
upset and awful sharks swallowed shrieking victims. But, as might have
been expected, most of the other children came flying back to the
schoolroom for their geographies, and again Miss Lawrence was in a
quandary.

"I never saw a child like Marjorie Maynard," she confided to another
teacher. "She's the dearest little girl, but she gets up such crazy
schemes, and all the others follow in her footsteps."

So, after recess, Miss Lawrence had to make a rule that books could not
be used as playthings, even at recess times.

For the rest of the morning, Marjorie was a model pupil.

She studied her lessons for the next day, and though Miss Lawrence
glanced at her from time to time, she never saw anything amiss.

But when school was over at one o'clock, Marjorie drew a long breath and
fairly flew for her hat.

"Good-bye, dearie," said Miss Lawrence, as Midge passed her when the
long line filed out.

"Good-bye!" was the smiling response, and in two minutes more Mopsy was
skipping and jumping across the playground.

"Hello, King!" she called. "Where's Kitty? Oh, here you are! Now we can
all go home together. What shall we do this afternoon? I want to do
something jolly to take the taste of school out of my mouth."

"Come over to our house and play in the hay," said Dick Fulton.

"All right, we will. I'll have my practising done by three o'clock, and
we'll come then."

A little later, and the three Maynards flew in at their own gate, and
found a warm welcome and a specially good luncheon awaiting them.

"I got along pretty well, Mother," said Marjorie, as they all told their
morning's experiences. "Only I couldn't help playing paper boats." She
told the whole story, and Mrs. Maynard smiled as she said:

"Marjorie, you are incorrigible; but I fear you will only learn by
experience----"

"What is incorrigible?" asked Marjorie.

"It's 'most too big a word for you to understand," said her mother, "but
it means you must just keep on everlastingly trying to be good."

"I will," said Mops, heartily, and then she turned her attention to the
chicken pie before her.



CHAPTER VII

THE JINKS CLUB


Saturday was hailed with delight by the four Maynards.

Now that school had begun, a whole playday meant more than it did in
vacation time, when all days were playdays.

It was a glorious September day, and as it was an early autumn, many
leaves had fallen and lay thick upon the ground.

"I know what to do," said Marjorie, as directly after breakfast they put
on hats and coats for outdoor play of some sort. "Let's make
leaf-houses."

"All right," said Kingdon, "and let's telephone for the others."

"The others" always meant the two Fultons and Kitty's friend, Dorothy
Adams.

Rosy Posy was too little to have a special chum, so Boffin was her
companion.

Leaf-houses was a favorite game with all of them, and soon the three
guests came skipping through the gate.

The leaves had been raked from the lawn, but down in the orchard they
were on the ground like a thick carpet. The orchard had many maples and
elms, as well as fruit trees, so there were leaves of all sorts.

"Isn't it fun to scuffle through 'em!" said Marjorie, as she led the
way, shuffling along, almost knee-deep in the brown, dry leaves.

"More fun to roll!" cried Dick, tumbling down and floundering about.

Down went Rosy Posy in imitation of Dick's performance, and then they
all fell into the leaves, and burrowed about like rabbits.

Presently Marjorie's head emerged like a bright-eyed turtle poking out
from its shell, and shaking the dead leaves out of her curls, she said:
"Come on, let's make houses. King, won't you and Dick get some rakes?"

The boys flew off to the toolhouse, and came back with several rakes,
both wood and iron ones.

"Here's all we can find," said King. "Some of us can rake, and some can
build things."

They all set to work with a will, and soon two houses were in process of
construction.

These houses were, of course, merely a ground plan, and long, low piles
of leaves divided the rooms. Openings in these partitions made doors,
and the furniture was also formed of heaps of leaves. A long heap was a
sofa, and a smaller heap a chair, while a round, flat heap was a table.

King, Gladys, and Dorothy were one family, while Dick, Marjorie, and
Kitty were the other.

Rosy Posy was supposed to be an orphan child, who lived with one family
or the other in turn, as suited her somewhat fickle fancy.

In each family the children represented father, mother, and daughter,
and they were pleasantly neighborly, or at odds with each other, as
occasion required.

To-day the spirit of adventure was strong in Marjorie, and she decreed
they should play robbers.

This was always a good game, so they all agreed.

"First, King's family must be robbed," said Midget; "and then, after you
catch us, you rob us."

The burglaries were thus amicably planned, and Kingdon and his family,
lying on leaf-couches, fell into a deep, but somewhat noisy slumber.
Indeed, their snoring was loud enough to frighten away most robbers.

Rosy Posy didn't count in this game, so she was allowed to wander in and
out of either house.

When the Kingdon family were _very_ sound asleep, the Dick family crept
softly in through the open doors, and endeavored to steal certain
valuable silver from the sideboard. This silver was admirably
represented by chips and sticks.

Dick and Marjorie had secured their booty and were carefully sneaking
away when King awoke, and with a howl pounced upon Kitty, who was still
industriously stealing silver.

This, of course, was part of the game, and Dick and Midget wrung their
hands in despair as they saw their daughter forcibly detained by the
master of the house.

Then Gladys and Dorothy were awakened by the noise, and added their
frightened screams to the general hullaballoo.

Kitty was bound hand and foot in the very dining-room where the silver
had been, and King went valiantly out to hunt the other marauders. Then
the game was for King and his family to try to catch Dick and Midget, or
for Kitty's parents to release her from her bondage.

At last, as King and Gladys were both engaged in chasing Dick, Marjorie
found an opportunity to free Kitty, and then the game began again, the
other way round.

At last they tired of hostilities and agreed to rebuild their houses,
combining them in one, and calling it a big hotel.

"Or a clubhouse," said King, who had recently visited one with his
father, and had been much impressed.

"Clubhouses are grand," he said. "They have porches, and swimming-pools,
and gyms, and dining-rooms, and everything!"

So the architecture was changed, and soon a fine clubhouse was outlined
in leafy relief.

"Then if this is a clubhouse, we're a club," said Kitty, thoughtfully.

"Oh, let's be a club!" exclaimed Marjorie. "Clubs are lots of fun. I
mean children's clubs--not big ones like father's."

"What do clubs do?" asked Dorothy, who had a wholesome fear of some of
the Maynards' escapades.

"Why, we can do anything we want to, if we're a club," said Dick. "I
think it would be fun. What shall we do?"

"Let's cut up jinks," said Marjorie, who was especially energetic that
day.

"And let's call it the Jinks Club," suggested Gladys.

"Goody! Goody!!" cried Midge. "Just the thing, Glad! And then we can cut
up any jinks we want to,--as long as they're good jinks," she added,
thoughtfully.

"What do you mean by that?" demanded King.

"Well, you see, last summer at Grandma's, she told me there were good
jinks and bad jinks. She meant just plain fun, or real mischief. And I
promised I'd cut up only good jinks."

"All right," said Dick, "I'll agree to that. We just want to have fun,
you know; not get into mischief."

So, as they were all agreed on this, the Jinks Club was started.

"I'll be president," volunteered Marjorie.

"Does somebody have to be president?" asked Gladys. "And does the
president have all the say?"

"Let's all be presidents," said King. "I know clubs usually have only
one; but who cares? We'll be different."

"All right," said Marjorie. "And, anyway, we won't need a secretary and
treasurer and such things, so we'll each be president. I think that will
be more fun, too."

"Me be president," announced Rosy Posy, "an' Boffin be a president,
too."

"Yes," said King, smiling at his baby sister, "you and Boff and all the
rest of us. Then, you see, we can all make rules, if we want to."

"We don't need many rules," said Dick. "Just a few about meetings and
things. When shall we meet?"

"Every day after school, and every Saturday," said Marjorie, who was of
a whole-souled nature.

"Oh, no!" said Gladys. "I know Mother won't let me come as often as
that."

"Don't let's have special times," said King. "Just whenever we're all
together, we'll have a meeting."

This was agreed to, but Marjorie didn't seem quite satisfied.

"It doesn't seem like a real club," she said, "unless we have dues and
badges and things like that."

"Huh, dues!" said King. "I want to spend my money for other things
besides dues to an old club! What would we do with the dues, anyway?"

"Oh, save them up in the treasury," said Marjorie, "until we had enough
to go to the circus, or something nice like that."

This sounded attractive, and King reconsidered.

"Well, I don't mind," he said. "But I won't give all my money. I have
fifty cents a week. I'll give ten."

"So will I," said Dick, and the others all agreed to do the same.

Of course, Rosy Posy didn't count, so this made sixty cents a week, and
furthermore it necessitated a treasurer.

"Let's each be treasurer," said King, remembering how well his
presidential plan had succeeded.

"No," said Midget; "that's silly. I'll be treasurer, and I'll keep all
the money safely, until we want to use it for something nice."

"Yes, let's do that," said Gladys. "Mopsy's awfully careful about such
things, and she'll keep the money better than any of us. I haven't mine
here now; I'll bring it over this afternoon."

"I don't care much about the money part," said King. "I want to cut up
jinks. When do we begin?"

"Right now!" said Marjorie, jumping up. "The first jink is to bury King
in leaves!"

The rest caught the idea, and in a moment the luckless Kingdon was on
his back and held down by Dick, while the girls piled leaves all over
him. They left his face uncovered, so he could breathe, but they heaped
leaves over the rest of him, and packed them down firmly, so he couldn't
move.

When he was thoroughly buried, Marjorie said: "Now we'll hide. Don't
start to hunt till you count fifty, King."

"One, two, three," began the boy, and the others flew off in all
directions.

All except Rosy Posy. She remained, and, patting King's cheek with her
fat little hand, said: "Me'll take care of you, Budder. Don't ky."

"All right, Baby,--thirty-six, thirty-seven, thirty-eight,--take that
leaf out of my eye! thirty-nine, forty--thank you, Posy."

A minute more, and King shouted "Fifty! Coming, ready or not!" and,
shaking himself out of his leaf-heap, he ran in search of the others.
Rosy Posy, used to being thus unceremoniously left, tumbled herself and
Boffin into the demolished leaf-heap, and played there contentedly.

King hunted for some minutes without finding anybody. Then a voice right
over his head said, "Oo-ee!"

He looked up quickly, but saw only a tree which had not yet shed its
foliage, and who was up there he could not guess from the voice.

If he guessed wrong, he must be "It" over again, so he peered cautiously
up into the branches.

"Who are you?" he called.

"Oo-ee!" said a voice again, but this time it sounded different.

"Here goes, then," said King, and he swung himself up into the lower
branches, keeping sharp watch lest his quarry elude him, and slip down
the other side.

But once fairly up in the tree, he found the whole five there awaiting
him, and as they all dropped quickly to the ground, and ran for "home"
he had to jump and follow, to get there first himself.

The jolly game of Hide-and-Seek lasted the rest of the morning, and then
the little guests went home, promising to come back in the afternoon and
bring their contributions to the treasury of the "Jinks Club."

The afternoon meeting found the Maynards in spandy-clean clothes,
sitting on the side veranda.

"Mother says we're not to romp this afternoon," explained Marjorie. "She
says we may swing, or play in the hammock, or on the lawn, but we can't
go to the orchard."

"All right," said good-natured Dick; "and, say, I've been thinking over
our club, and I think we ought to be more like a real club. Why not have
regular meetings, and have programmes and things?"

"Oh!" groaned King. "Speak pieces, do you mean?"

"No; not that. We get enough of speaking pieces, Friday afternoons, in
school. I mean,--oh, pshaw, I don't know what I mean!"

"You mean read minutes, and things like that," suggested Marjorie,
helpfully.

"Yes," said Dick, eagerly, "that's just what I mean."

"All right," said Marjorie, "I'll be secretary, and write them."

"Now, look here, Midge," said Kingdon, "you can't be everything! You
want to be president and treasurer and secretary and all. Perhaps you'd
like to be all the members!"

"Fiddlesticks, King!" said Marjorie; "nobody else seems to want to be
anything. Now, I'll tell you what, let's have six things to
be,--officers, you know, and then we'll each be one."

"That's a good way," said Gladys. "You be treasurer, Marjorie, 'cause
you're so good at arithmetic, and you can take care of our money. Dick
can be secretary, 'cause he writes so well."

"I will," said Dick, "if King will be president. He's best for
that,--and then, Gladys, you can be vice-president."

"What can Dorothy and I be?" asked Kitty, who didn't see many offices
left.

Marjorie considered. "You can be the committee," she said, at last.
"They always have a committee to decide things."

This sounded pleasing, and now all were satisfied.

"Well, if I'm treasurer," said Marjorie, "I'll take up the collection
now."

Promptly five dimes were handed to her, and, adding one of her own, she
put them all into a little knitted silk purse she had brought for the
purpose.

"Is there any further business to come before this meeting?" asked the
President, rolling out his words with great dignity, as befitted his
position.

"No, sir," said Kitty; "I'm the committee to decide things, and I say
there isn't any more business. So what do we do next?"

"I'll tell you!" cried Midget, in a sudden burst of inspiration; "let's
go down to Mr. Simmons' and all have ice-cream with our money in the
treasury. I'll ask Mother if we may."

"But, Mopsy!" cried King, in surprise. "I thought we were to save that
to go to the circus."

"Oh, pshaw! Father'll take us to the circus. Or we can save next week's
money for that. But, truly, I feel like cutting up jinks, and we can't
play in the orchard, and it would be lots of fun to go for ice-cream,
all together."

"It would be fun," said Dick; and then they all agreed to Marjorie's
plan.

Mrs. Maynard listened with amusement to the story, and then said they
might go if they would behave like little ladies and gentlemen and
return home inside of an hour.

Off they started, and a more decorous-looking crowd than the Jinks Club
one would not wish to see!

Mr. Simmons' Ice-Cream Garden was a most attractive place.

It was a small grove, by the side of a small stream, and the tables were
in a sort of pavilion that overlooked the water.

The children were welcomed by the good-natured old proprietor, who had
served his ice-cream to their parents when they were children.

"And what kind will you have?" asked Mr. Simmons, after they were seated
around a table.

This required thought, but each finally chose a favorite mixture, and
soon they were enjoying the pink or white pyramids that were brought
them.

"I do think the Jinks Club is lovely," said Kitty, as she gazed out over
the water and contentedly ate her ice-cream.

"So do I," said Dorothy, who always agreed with her adored chum, but
was, moreover, happy on her own account.

"I shall write all this up in the minutes!" declared Dick. "And when
shall we have our next meeting?"

"Next Saturday," said Kitty. "I'm the committee, and I decide things."

"So do I," said Dorothy, and they all agreed to meet the next Saturday
morning.



CHAPTER VIII

SPELLING TROUBLES


"What _is_ the matter, Midge?" said her father, "You sigh as if you'd
lost your last friend."

The family were in the pleasant living-room one evening, just after
dinner.

All, that is, except Rosy Posy, who had gone to bed long ago. Kingdon
was reading, and Kitty was idly playing with the kitten, while Marjorie,
her head bent over a book on the table, was abstractedly moving her lips
as if talking to herself.

"Oh, Father! it's this horrid old spelling lesson. I just _can't_ learn
it, and that all there is about it!"

"Can't learn to spell? Bring me your book, and let me have a look at
it."

Very willingly Marjorie flew to her father's side, and, big girl though
she was, perched herself on his knee while she showed him the page.

"Just look! There's 'deleble' spelled with an e, and 'indelible' with an
i! Why can't they spell them alike?"

"I think myself they might as well have done so," said Mr. Maynard,
"but, since they didn't, we'll have to learn them as they are. Where is
your lesson?"

"All that page. And they're fearfully hard words. And words I'll never
use anyway. Why would I want to use 'harassed' and 'daguerreotype' and
'macaroni' and such words as those?"

Mr. Maynard smiled at the troubled little face.

"You may not want to use them, dearie, but it is part of your education
to learn to spell them. Come, now, I'll help you, and we'll soon put
them through. Let's pick out the very hardest one first."

"All right; 'daguerreotype' is the hardest."

"Oh, pshaw, no! That's one of the very easiest. Just remember that it
was a Frenchman named Daguerre who invented the process; then you only
have to add 'o' and 'type,' and there you are!"

"Why, that _is_ easy! I'll never forget that. 'Macaroni' is a hard one,
though."

"Why?"

"Oh, because I always put two c's or two r's or two n's in it."

"Ho, that makes it easy, then. Just remember that there isn't a double
letter in it, and then spell it just as it sounds. Why, macaroni is so
long and thin that there isn't room for a double letter in it."

"Oh, Father, you make it so easy. Of course I'll remember that, now."

Down the long list they went, and Mr. Maynard, with some little quip or
quibble, made each word of special interest, and so fixed it in
Marjorie's memory. At the end of a half-hour she was perfect in the
lesson, and had thoroughly enjoyed the learning of it.

"I wish you'd help me every night," she said, wistfully. "All this week,
anyway. For there's to be a spelling-match on Friday, between our class
and Miss Bates' class, and we want to win. But I'm such a bad speller,
nobody wants to choose me on their side."

"They don't, don't they? Well, I rather think we'll change all that. You
and I will attack Mr. Speller every evening, and see if we can't
vanquish him."

"I think we can," said Marjorie, her eyes sparkling. "For it's only some
few of those catchy words that I can't seem to learn. But after you help
me they all seem easy."

So every night that week Midge and her father had a spelling-class of
their own, and fine work was accomplished.

The spelling-match was to be on Friday, and Thursday night they were to
have a grand review of all the lessons. Marjorie brought home her
schoolbooks on Thursday, and left them in the house while she went out
to play. But when she came in to get ready for dinner, her mother was
dressing to go out.

"Where are you going, Mother?" said Marjorie, looking admiringly at her
mother's pretty gown.

"We're going to Mrs. Martin's to dinner, dearie. She invited us over the
telephone this morning. There's a very nice dinner prepared for you
children, and you must have a good time by yourselves, and not be
lonesome. Go to bed promptly at nine o'clock, as we shall be out late."

"Is father going, too?" cried Marjorie, aghast.

"Yes, of course. You may fasten my glove, Midget, dear."

"But I want father to help me with my spelling."

"I thought about that, Mops," said her father, coming into the room.
"And I'm sorry I have to be away to-night. But I'll tell you what we'll
do. When is this great spelling-match,--to-morrow?"

"Yes, to-morrow afternoon."

"Well, you study by yourself this evening, and learn all you can. Then
skip to bed a bit earlier than usual, and then hop up early to-morrow
morning. You and I will have an early breakfast, at about seven o'clock.
Then from half-past seven to half-past eight I'll drill you in that old
speller till you can spell the cover right off it."

"All right," said Marjorie. "It's really just as well for me to study
alone to-night, and then you can help me a lot to-morrow morning. But
won't it make you too late going to business?"

"No, I'll take a half-hour off for your benefit. If I leave here by
half-past eight that will do nicely, and that's about the time you want
to go to school."

So the matter was settled, and Mr. and Mrs. Maynard drove away, leaving
the three children to dine by themselves. The meal was a merry one, for
when thus left to themselves the children always "pretended."

"I'm a princess," said Marjorie, as she seated herself in her mother's
place. "These dishes are all gold, and I'm eating birds of paradise with
nectarine sauce."

Even as she spoke, Sarah brought her a plate of soup, and Midge
proceeded to eat it with an exaggerated air of grandeur, which she
thought befitted a princess.

"I'm not a prince," said Kingdon. "I'm an Indian chief, and I'm eating
wild boar steak, which I shot with my own trusty bow and arrows."

"I'm a queen in disguise," said Kitty. "I'm hiding from my pursuers, so
I go around in plain, dark garbs, and no one knows I'm a queen."

"How do we all happen to be dining at one table?" asked Marjorie.

"It's a public restaurant," said King. "We all came separately, and just
chanced to sit at the same table. May I ask your name, Madam?"

"I'm the Princess Seraphina," said Marjorie, graciously. "My home is in
the sunny climes of Italy, and I'm travelling about to see the world.
And you, noble sir, what is your name?"

"I am Chief Opodeldoc, of the Bushwhack Tribe. My tomahawk is in my
belt, and whoever offends me will add his scalp to my collection!"

"Oh, sir," said Kitty, trembling; "I pray you be not so fierce of
manner! I am most mortal timid."

Kitty had a fine dramatic sense, and always threw herself into her part
with her whole soul. The others would sometimes drop back into their
every-day speech, but Kitty was always consistent in her assumed
character.

"Is it so, fair Lady?" said King, looking valiant. "Have no fear of me.
Should aught betide I will champion thy cause to the limit."

"And mine?" said Marjorie. "Can you champion us both, Sir Opodeldoc?"

"Aye, that can I. But I trust this is a peaceful hostelry. I see no sign
of warfare."

"Nay, nay, but war may break out apace. Might I enquire your name, fair
lady?"

"Hist!" said Kitty, her finger on her lip, and looking cautiously about,
"I am, of a truth, the Queen of--of Macedonia. But disguised as a poor
waif, I seek a hiding-place from my tormentors."

"Why do they torment you?"

"'Tis a dark secret; ask me not. But tell of yourself, Princess
Seraphina. Dost travel alone?"

"Yes; with but my suite of armed retainers. Cavalrymen and infantry
attend my way, and twelve ladies-in-waiting wait on me."

"A great princess, indeed," said King, in admiration. "We are well met!"

"Methinks I am discovered!" cried Kitty, as Sarah approached her with a
dish of pudding. "This damsel! She is of my own household. Ha! Doth she
recognize me?"

Although used to the nonsense of the children, Sarah couldn't entirely
repress a giggle as Kitty glared at her.

"Eat your dinner, Miss Kitty," she said, "an' don't be afther teasin'
me."

"Safe!" exclaimed Kitty. "She knows me not! 'Kitty' she calls me! Ha!"

The play went on all through the meal, for the Maynards never tired of
this sort of fun.

"I'm going out for a few minutes," said King, as they at last rose from
the table. "Father said I might go down to Goodwin's to get slides for
my camera. I won't be gone long."

"All right," said Marjorie, "I'm going to study my spelling. What are
you going to do, Kit?"

"I'm going up to the playroom. Nannie is going to tell me stories while
she sews."

So Marjorie was alone in the living-room as she took up her school-bag
to get her spelling-book from it. To her dismay it was not there! The
book which she had mistakenly brought for her speller was her mental
arithmetic; they were much the same size, and she often mistook one for
the other.

But this time it was a serious matter. The spelling-match was to be the
next day, and how could she review her lessons without her book?

Her energetic mind began to plan what she could do in the matter.

It was already after seven o'clock, quite too late to go to the
schoolhouse after the missing book. If King had been at home she would
have consulted him, but she had no one of whom to ask advice.

She remembered what her father had said about getting up early the next
morning, and she wondered if she couldn't get up even earlier still, and
go to the schoolhouse for the book before breakfast. She could get the
key from the janitor, who lived not far from her own home.

It seemed a fairly feasible plan, and, though she would lose her
evening's study, she determined to go to bed early, and rise at daybreak
to go for the book.

"I'll write a note to mother," she thought, "telling her all about it,
and I'll leave it on her dressing-table. Then, when she hears me
prowling out at six o'clock to-morrow morning, she'll know what I'm up
to."

The notion of an early morning adventure was rather attractive, but
suddenly Marjorie thought that she might not be able to get the key from
the janitor so early as that.

"Perhaps Mr. Cobb doesn't get up until seven or later, and I can't wait
till then," she pondered. "I've a good notion to go for that key
to-night. Then I can go to the schoolhouse as early as I choose in the
morning without bothering anybody."

She rose and went to the window. It was quite dark, for, though the
streets were lighted, the lights were far apart, and there was no moon.

Of course, Marjorie never went out alone in the evening, but this was
such an exceptional occasion, she felt sure her parents would not blame
her.

"If only King was here to go with me," she thought. But King was off on
his own errand, and she knew that when he returned he would want to fix
his camera, and, anyway, it would be too late then.

Mr. Cobb's house was only three blocks away, and she could run down
there and back in ten minutes.

Deciding quickly that she must do it, Marjorie put on her coat and hat
and went softly out at the front door. She felt sure that if she told
Nurse Nannie or Kitty of her errand, they would raise objections, so she
determined to steal off alone. "And then," she thought, "it will be fun
to come home and ring the bell, and see Sarah's look of astonishment to
find me at the door!"

It was a pleasant night, though cool, and Marjorie felt a thrill of
excitement as she walked down the dark path to the gate, and then along
the street alone.

In a few moments she reached Mr. Cobb's house, and rang the doorbell.
Mr. Cobb was not at home, but when Mrs. Cobb appeared at the door,
Marjorie made known her errand.

"Why, bless your heart, yes, little girl," said the kindly disposed
woman. "I'll let you take the key, of course. Mr. Cobb, he always keeps
it hangin' right here handy by. So you're goin' over to the school at
sun-up! Well, well, you've got spunk, haven't you, now? And don't bother
to bring 't back. Mr. Cobb, he can stop at your house for it, as he goes
to the school at half-past seven. Mebbe he'll get there 'fore you do,
after all. I dunno if you'll find it so easy to wake up at six o'clock
as you think."

"Oh, yes I will, Mrs. Cobb," said Midget. "I'm going to set an alarm
clock. The only trouble is that will awaken my sister, too. But I
'spect she'll go right to sleep again. You see it's a _very_ important
lesson, and I _must_ have that book."

"All right, little lady. Run along now and get to bed early. Are you
afraid? Shall I walk home with you?"

"Oh, no, thank you. It's only three blocks, and I'll run all the way.
I'm ever so much obliged for the key."

"Oh, that's all right. I'm glad to accommodate you. Good-night."

"Good-night, Mrs. Cobb," said Marjorie, and in another moment the gate
clicked behind her.

As she reached the first turning toward her own home, she looked off in
the other direction, where the schoolhouse stood. It was several blocks
away, and Marjorie was thinking how she would run over there the next
morning. And then a crazy thought jumped into her brain. Why not go now?
Then she could study this evening, after all. It was dark, to be sure,
but it was not so very late,--not eight o'clock yet.

The thought of entering the empty schoolhouse, alone, and in utter
darkness, gave her a thrill of fear, but she said to herself:

"How foolish! There's nothing to be afraid of in an empty schoolhouse.
I can feel my way to our classroom, and the street lights will shine in
some, anyway. Pooh, I guess I wouldn't be very brave if I was afraid of
nothing! And just to think of having that book to-night! I can get it
and be back home in twenty minutes. I believe I'll do it!"

Marjorie hesitated a moment at the corner. Then she turned away from her
home and toward the schoolhouse, and took a few slow steps.

"Oh, pshaw!" she said to herself. "Don't be a coward, Marjorie Maynard!
There's nothing to hurt you, and if you scoot fast, it won't take ten
minutes to get that book."

In a sudden accession of bravery, Marjorie started off at a brisk pace.

As she went on, her courage ebbed a little, but a dogged determination
kept her from turning back.

"I won't be a baby, or a 'fraid cat!" she said angrily, to herself. "I'm
not doing anything wrong, and there's no reason at all to be frightened.
But I do wish it wasn't so dark."

The part of town where the school stood was less thickly settled than
where Marjorie lived, and she passed several vacant lots. This made it
seem more lonely, and the far-apart street lights only seemed to make
darker the spaces between.

But Marjorie trudged on, grasping the key, and roundly scolding herself
for being timid.



CHAPTER IX

A REAL ADVENTURE


When at last she stood on the stone steps of the schoolhouse, her
courage returned, and, without hesitation, she thrust the key in the
lock of the door.

It turned with a harsh, grating sound, and the little girl's heart beat
rapidly as she pushed open the heavy door. The hall was as black as a
dungeon, but by groping around she found the banister rail, and so made
her way upstairs.

Her resolution was undaunted, but the awful silence of the empty, dark
place struck a chill to her heart. She ran up the stairs, and tried to
sing in order to break that oppressive silence. But her voice sounded
queer and trembly, and it made echoes that were worse than no sound at
all.

She had to go up two flights of stairs, and as she reached the top of
the second flight she was near her own classroom. As she turned the
doorknob, the street door, downstairs, which she had left open, suddenly
slammed shut with a loud bang. The sound reverberated through the
building, and Midget stood still, shaking with an unconquerable nervous
dread. She didn't know whether the door blew shut or had been slammed to
by some person. She no longer pretended to herself that she was not
frightened, for she was.

"I know I'm silly," she thought, as two big tears rolled down her
cheeks, "but if I can just get that book, and get out of here, won't I
run for home!"

Feeling her way, she stumbled into the classroom. A faint light came in
from the street, but not enough to allow her to distinguish objects
clearly. Indeed, it cast such wavering, ghostly shadows that the total
darkness was preferable.

Counting the desks as she went along, she came at last to her own, and
felt around in it for her speller.

"There you are!" she exclaimed, triumphantly, as she clutched the book.
And somehow the feeling of the familiar volume took away some of the
loneliness.

But her trembling fingers let her desk-cover fall with another of those
resounding, reëchoing slams that no one can appreciate who has not heard
them under similar circumstances.

By this time Marjorie was thoroughly frightened, though she herself
could not have told what she was afraid of. Grasping the precious
speller, she started, with but one idea in her mind,--to get downstairs
and out of that awful building as quickly as possible.

She groped carefully for the newel-post, for going down was more
dangerous than coming up, and she feared she might fall headlong.

Safely started, however, she almost ran downstairs, and reached the
ground floor, only to find the front door had a spring-lock, which had
fastened itself when the door banged shut.

Marjorie's heart sank within her when she realized that she was locked
in the schoolhouse.

She thought of the key, but she had stupidly left that on the outside of
the door.

"But anyway," she thought, "I don't believe you have to have a key on
the inside. You don't to our front door at home. You only have to pull
back a little brass knob."

The thought of home made a lump come into poor Marjorie's throat, and
the tears came plentifully as she fumbled vainly about the lock of the
door.

"Oh, dear," she said to herself, "just s'pose I have to stay here all
night. I _won't_ go upstairs again. I'll sit on the steps and wait till
morning."

But at last something gave way, the latch flew up, and Marjorie swung
the big door open, and felt the cool night air on her face once more.

It was very dark, but she didn't mind that, now that she was released
from her prison, and, after making sure that the door was securely
fastened, she put the key safely in her pocket, and started off toward
home.

The church clock struck eight just as she reached her own door, and she
could hardly believe she had made her whole trip in less than an hour.
It seemed as if she had spent a whole night alone in the schoolhouse.
She rang the bell, and in a moment Sarah opened the door.

"Why, Miss Marjorie, wherever have you been?" cried the astonished maid.
"I thought you was up in your own room."

"I've been out on an errand, Sarah," answered Midge, with great dignity.

"An errand, is it? At this time o' night! I'm surprised at ye, Miss
Marjorie, cuttin' up tricks just because the folks is away."

"Hello, Mopsy!" cried Kingdon, jumping downstairs three at a time. "What
have you been up to now, I'd like to know."

"Nothing much," said Marjorie, gaily. Her spirits had risen since she
found herself once again in her safe, warm, light home. "Don't bother me
now, King; I want to study."

"Mother'll study you when she knows that you've been out walking alone
at night."

"I don't want you to tell her, King, because I want to tell her myself."

"All right, Midge. I know it's all right, only I think you might tell
me."

"Well, I will," said Midget, in a sudden burst of confidence.

Sarah had left the room, so Marjorie told King all about her adventure.

The boy looked at her with mingled admiration and amazement.

"You do beat all, Mopsy!" he said. "It was right down plucky of you,
but you ought not to have done it. Why didn't you wait till I came home,
and I would have gone for you."

"I didn't mean to go, you know, at first. I just went all of a sudden,
after I had really started to come home. I don't think Mother'll mind,
when I explain it to her."

"You don't, hey? Well, just you wait and see!"

It was not easy to settle down to studying the speller, after such an
exciting adventure to get it, but Marjorie determinedly set to work, and
studied diligently till nine o'clock, and then went to bed.

Next morning her father awakened her at an early hour, and a little
before seven father and daughter were seated at a cozy little
_tête-à-tête_ breakfast.

At the table Marjorie gave her father a full description of her
experiences of the night before.

Mr. Maynard listened gravely to the whole recital.

"My dear child," he said, when she finished the tale, "you did a very
wrong thing, and I must say I think you should have known better."

"But I didn't think it was wrong, Father."

"I know you didn't, dearie; but you surely know that you're not allowed
out alone at night."

"Yes; but this was such a very unusual occasion, I thought you'd excuse
it. And, besides King was out at night."

"But he's a boy, and he's two years older than you are, and then he had
our permission to go."

"That's just it, Father. I felt sure if you had known all about it, you
would have given me permission. I was going to telephone and ask you if
I might go to Mr. Cobb's, and then I thought it would interrupt the
dinner party. And I didn't think you'd mind my running around to Mr.
Cobb's. You know when I went there, I never thought of going to the
schoolhouse last night."

"How did you come to think of it?"

"Why, I wanted my speller so much, and when I saw the schoolhouse roof
sticking up above the trees, it made me think I could just as well run
over there then, and so have my book at once."

"And you had no qualms of conscience that made you feel you were doing
something wrong?"

"No, Father," said Marjorie, lifting her clear, honest eyes to his. "I
thought I was cowardly to be so afraid of the dark. But I knew it wasn't
mischief, and I didn't think it was wrong. Why was it wrong?"

"I'm not sure I can explain, if you don't see it for yourself. But it is
not right to go alone to a place where there may be unseen or unknown
dangers."

"But, Father, in our own schoolhouse? Where we go every day? What harm
could be there?"

"My child, it is not right for any one to go into an untenanted
building, alone, in the dark. And especially it is not right for a
little girl of twelve. Now, whether you understand this or not, you must
remember it, and _never_ do such a thing again."

"Oh, Father, indeed I'll never forget that old speller again."

"No; next time you'll do some other ridiculous, unexpected thing, and
then say, 'I didn't know it was wrong.' Marjorie, you don't seem to have
good common-sense about these things."

"That's what grandma used to say," said Midge, cheerfully. "Perhaps
I'll learn, as I grow up, Father."

"I hope you will, my dear. And now, I'm not going to punish you for this
performance, for I see you honestly meant no wrong, but I do positively
forbid you to go out alone after dark without permission; no matter
_what_ may be the exceptional occasion. Will you remember that?"

"Yes, indeed! That isn't hard to remember. And I've never wanted to
before, and I don't believe I'll ever want to again, until I'm grown up.
Do you?"

"You're a funny child, Midget," said her father, looking at her
quizzically. "But, do you know, I rather like you; and I suppose you get
your spirit of adventure and daring from me. Your Mother is most timid
and conventional. What do you s'pose she'll say to all this, Mopsy
mine?"

"Why, as you think it was wrong, I s'pose she'll think so, too. I just
_can't_ make it seem wrong, myself, but as you say it was, why, of
course it must have been, and I promise never to do it again. Now, if
you've finished your coffee, shall we begin to spell?"

"Yes, come on. Since you have the book, we must make the most of our
time."

An hour of hard work followed. Mr. Maynard drilled Marjorie over and
over on the most difficult words, and reviewed the back lessons, until
he said he believed she could spell down Noah Webster himself.

"And you must admit, Father," said Marjorie, as they closed the book at
last, "that it's a good thing I did get my speller last night, for I had
a whole hour's study on it, and besides I didn't have to go over there
for it this morning."

"It would have been a better thing, my child, if you had remembered it
in the first place."

"Oh, yes, of course. But that was a mistake. I suppose everybody makes
mistakes sometimes."

"I suppose they do. The proper thing is to learn by our mistakes what is
right and what is wrong. Now the next time you are moved to do anything
as unusual as that, ask some one who knows, whether you'd better do it
or not. Now, here's Mother, we'll put the case to her."

In a few words, Mr. Maynard told his wife about Marjorie's escapade.

"My little girl!" cried Mrs. Maynard, catching Marjorie in her arms.
"Why, Midget, darling, how _could_ you do such a dreadful thing? Oh,
thank Heaven, I have you safe at home again!"

Marjorie stared. Here was a new view of the case. Her mother seemed to
think that she had been in danger rather than in mischief.

"Oh," went on Mrs. Maynard, still shuddering, "my precious child, alone
in that great empty building!"

"Why, Mother," said Marjorie, kissing her tears away, "that was just it.
An empty building couldn't hurt me! Do you think I was naughty?"

"Oh, I don't know whether you were naughty, or not; I'm so glad to have
you safe and sound in my arms."

"I'll never do it again, Mother."

"Do it again? Well, I rather think you won't! I shall never leave you
alone again. I felt all the time I oughtn't to go off and leave you
children last night."

"Nonsense, my dear," said Mr. Maynard, "the children must be taught
self-reliance. But we'll talk this matter over some other time.
Marjorie, you'll be late to school if you're not careful. And listen to
me, my child. I don't want you to tell any one of what you did last
evening. It is something that it is better to keep quiet about. Do you
understand? This is a positive command. Don't ask me why, just promise
to say nothing about it to your playmates or any one. No one knows of it
at present, but your mother, Kingdon, and myself. I prefer that no one
else should know. Will you remember this?"

"Yes, Father; can't I just tell Gladys?"

Mr. Maynard smiled.

"Marjorie, you are impossible!" he said. "Now, listen! I said tell _no
one_! Is Gladys any one?"

"Yes, Father, she is."

"Very well, then don't tell her. Tell no one at all. Promise me."

"I promise," said Midget, earnestly, and then she kissed her parents and
ran away to school.

Kingdon had also been bidden not to tell of Marjorie's escapade, and so
it was never heard of outside the family.

When it was time for the spelling-match, Marjorie put away her books,
and sat waiting, with folded arms and a smiling face.

Miss Lawrence was surprised, for the child usually was worried and
anxious in spelling class.

Two captains were chosen, and these two selected the pupils, one by one,
to be their aids.

Marjorie was never chosen until toward the last, for though everybody
loved her, yet her inability to spell was known by all, and she was not
a desirable assistant in a match.

But at last her name was called, and she demurely took her place near
the foot of the line on one side.

Gladys was on the other side, near the head. She was a good speller, and
rarely made a mistake.

Miss Lawrence began to give out the words, and the children spelled away
blithely. Now and then one would miss and another would go above.

To everybody's surprise, Marjorie began to work her way up toward the
head of her line. She spelled correctly words that the others missed,
and with a happy smile went along up the line.

At last the "spelling down" began. This meant that whoever missed a word
must go to his seat, leaving only those standing who did not miss any
word.

One by one the crestfallen unsuccessful ones went to their seats, and,
to the amazement of all, Marjorie remained standing. At last, there were
but six left in the match.

"Macaroni," said Miss Lawrence.

"M-a-c-c-a-r-o-n-i," said Jack Norton, and regretfully Miss Lawrence
told him he must sit down.

Three more spelled the word wrongly, and then it was Marjorie's turn:

"M-a-c-a-r-o-n-i," said she, triumphantly, remembering her father's
remark that there were no double letters in it.

Miss Lawrence looked astounded. Now there were left only Marjorie and
Gladys, one on either side of the room. It was an unfortunate situation,
for so fond were the girls of each other that each would almost rather
fail herself than to have her friend fail.

On they went, spelling the words as fast as Miss Lawrence could
pronounce them.

Finally she gave Gladys the word "weird."

It was a hard word, and one often misspelled by people much older and
wiser than these children.

"W-i-e-r-d," said Gladys, in a confident tone.

"Next," said Miss Lawrence, with a sympathetic look at Gladys.

"W-e-i-r-d," said Marjorie, slowly. Her father had drilled her carefully
on this word, bidding her remember that it began with two pronouns: that
is, we followed by I. Often by such verbal tricks as this he fastened
the letters in Marjorie's mind.

The match was over, and Marjorie had won, for the first time in her
life.

Gladys was truly pleased, for she would rather have lost to Marjorie
than any one else, and Miss Lawrence was delighted, though mystified.

"I won! I won!" cried Marjorie, as she ran into the house and found her
mother. "Oh, Mother, I won the spelling-match! _Now_, aren't you glad I
went after my book?"

"I'm glad you won, dearie; but hereafter I want you to stick to
civilized behavior."

"I will, Mother! I truly will. I'm so glad I won the match, I'll stick
to anything you say."

"Well, my girlie, just try to do what you think Mother wants you to, and
try not to make mistakes."



CHAPTER X

IN INKY PLIGHT


"It's perfectly fine, Glad; I think it will be the most fun ever. How
many are you going to have?"

"About thirty, Mother says. I can't ask Kitty, and Dorothy Adams. All on
the list are about as old as we are."

"Kitty'll be sorry, of course; but I don't believe mother would let her
go in the evening, anyway. She's only nine, you know."

The two friends, Marjorie and Gladys, were on their way to school, and
Gladys was telling about a Hallowe'en party she was to have the
following week. The party was to be in the evening, from seven till
nine, and, as it was unusual for the girls to have evening parties, they
looked forward to this as a great occasion. Nearly all of the children
who were to be invited went to the same school that Gladys did, so she
carried the invitations with her, and gave them around before school
began.

The invitations were written on cards which bore comical little pictures
of witches, black cats, or jack-o'-lanterns, and this was the wording:

    Though the weather's bad or pleasant,
    You're invited to be present
    At Miss Gladys Fulton's home
    On Hallowe'en. Be sure to come.
    Please accept, and don't decline;
    Come at seven and stay till nine.

Needless to say these cards caused great excitement among the favored
ones who received them.

Boys and girls chattered like magpies until the school-bell rang, and
then it was very hard to turn their attention to lessons.

But Marjorie was trying in earnest to be good in school, and not get
into mischief, so she resolutely put her card away in her desk, and
studied diligently at her lessons.

Indeed, so well did she study that her lesson was learned before it was
time to recite, and she had a few moments' leisure.

She took out her pretty card to admire it further, and she scrutinized
closely the funny old witch riding on a broomstick, after the approved
habit of witches.

The witch wore a high-peaked black hat, and her nose and chin were long
and pointed.

Suddenly the impulse seized Marjorie to make for herself a witch's hat.

She took from her desk a sheet of foolscap paper. But she thought a
white hat would be absurd for a witch. It must be black. How to make the
paper black was the question, but her ingenuity soon suggested a way.

She took her slate sponge, and dipping it in the ink, smeared it over
the white paper.

This produced a grayish smudge, but a second and third application made
a good black.

The process, however, of covering the whole sheet of paper with ink was
extremely messy, and before it was finished, Marjorie's fingers were
dyed black, and her desk was smudged from one end to the other.

But so interested was she in making a sheet of black paper that she paid
no heed to the untidiness.

Gladys, who had turned her back on Marjorie, in order to study her
lesson without distraction, turned round suddenly and gave an
exclamation of dismay. This startled Marjorie, and she dropped her
sponge full of ink on her white apron.

She straightened herself up, with a bewildered air, aghast at the state
of things, and as her curls tumbled over her forehead, she brushed them
back with her inky hands.

This decorated her face with black fingermarks, and several of the
pupils, looking round at her, burst into incontrollable laughter.

Midget was usually very dainty, and neatly dressed, and this besmeared
maiden was a shock to all beholders.

Miss Lawrence turned sharply to see what the commotion might be, and,
when she saw the inky child, she had hard work to control her own
merriment.

"What _is_ that all over you, Marjorie?" she said, in as stern tones as
she could command.

"Ink, Miss Lawrence," said Midget, demurely, her simple straightforward
gaze fixed on her teacher's face. This calm announcement of a fact also
struck Miss Lawrence ludicrously, but she managed to preserve a grave
countenance.

"Yes, I see it's ink. But why do you put it on your face and hands and
apron?"

"I don't know, Miss Lawrence. You see, I was using it, and somehow it
put itself all over me."

"What were you doing with it?" Miss Lawrence was really stern now, for
she had advanced to Marjorie's desk, and noted the sponge and paper.

"Why, I was just making some white paper black."

"Marjorie, you have been extremely naughty. What possessed you to ink
that large sheet of paper?"

"I wanted to be a witch," said Marjorie, so ruefully that Miss Lawrence
had to laugh after all.

"You _are_ one, my child. You needn't ever make any effort in that
direction!"

"And so," went on Midget, cheered by Miss Lawrence's laughing face, "I
thought I'd make me a witch's hat, to wear at recess. Truly, I wasn't
going to put it on in school. But I had my lessons all done, and so----"

But by this time the whole class was in a gale.

The inky little girl, so earnestly explaining why she was inky, was a
funny sight, indeed. And, as they laughed at her, some big tears of
mortification rolled down her cheeks.

These she furtively wiped away with her hand, and it is needless to say
that this added the finishing touch to the smudgy black and white
countenance.

Miss Lawrence gave up. She laughed until the tears ran down her own
cheeks, for Marjorie was really crying now, and her little handkerchief
only served to spread the inky area around her features.

"My dear child," said the teacher, at last, "I don't know exactly what
to do with you. I can't wash that ink from your face, because it won't
come off with only cold water. You must go home, and yet you can't go
through the streets that way. But I have a brown veil I will lend you.
It is fairly thick, and will at least shield you from observation."

So Miss Lawrence took Marjorie to the cloak-room, arrayed her in her own
hat and her teacher's veil, and then went with the little girl
downstairs to the front door. On the way she talked to her kindly, but
she did not attempt to gloss over her naughty deed.

"I am sending you home, Marjorie," she said, "because you are not fit to
stay here. If you were, I should keep you in, and punish you. You surely
knew it was wrong to spill ink all over everything. You have ruined your
desk, to say nothing of your clothes and your own belongings."

"I'm so sorry, Miss Lawrence," said penitent Midget. "I just tried to be
good this morning. But I happened to think what fun it would be to have
a big, high-peaked witch's hat to prance around in at recess; and I
thought I could make the paper black without such a fuss."

"Well," said Miss Lawrence, with a sigh, "I don't know what to say to
you. Go home now, and tell your mother all about it. I'll leave the
matter of punishment in her hands. I'm sure you didn't mean to do
wrong,--you never do,--but, oh, Marjorie, it _was_ wrong!"

"Yes, it was, Miss Lawrence, and I'm awful sorry. I do hope Mother will
punish me."

Marjorie's hope was so funny that Miss Lawrence smiled, as she kissed
the stained little face through the sheltering veil, and then Midget
trudged off home, thinking that as Miss Lawrence had kissed her, she
hadn't been so very bad, after all.

"What _is_ the matter, child?" exclaimed Mrs. Maynard, as Marjorie
marched into her mother's room. "Why have you that thing on your head,
and why are you home from school at this hour?"

Midget couldn't resist this dramatic situation.

"Guess," she said, blithely. Her inky hands were in her coat pockets,
her apron was covered by her outer garment, and her face was obscured by
the thick brown veil.

"I can't guess just what's the trouble," said her mother, "but I do
guess you've been getting into some mischief."

Marjorie was disappointed.

"Oh," she said, "I thought you'd guess that I've broken out with
smallpox or measles or something!"

Mrs. Maynard was preoccupied with some intricate sewing, and did not
quite catch the first part of Marjorie's remark. But the last words sent
a shock to her mother-heart.

"What!" she cried. "What do you mean? Smallpox! Measles! Has it broken
out in the school? Take off that veil!" As she spoke, Mrs. Maynard
jumped up from her chair, and ran to her daughter with outstretched
arms.

This was more interesting, and Midget danced about as she turned her
back to her mother to have the veil untied.

With trembling fingers Mrs. Maynard loosened the knot Miss Lawrence had
tied, and hastily pulled off the veil. Meantime, Midget had thrown off
her coat, and stood revealed in all her dreadful inkiness.

The saucy, blackened face was so roguishly smiling, and Mrs. Maynard was
so grateful not to see a red, feverish countenance, that she sat down in
a chair and shook with laughter.

This was just what Marjorie wanted, and, running to her mother's side,
she laughed, too.

"Get away from me, you disreputable individual," said Mrs. Maynard,
drawing her pretty morning dress away from possible contamination.

"Oh, Mothery, it's all dry now; it can't hurt you a bit! But isn't it
awful?"

"Awful! You scamp, what does it mean?"

"Why, it's ink, Mother, dear; and do you s'pose it will ever come off?"

"No, I don't! I think it's there for the rest of your life. Is that what
you wanted?"

"No. Not for my whole life. Oh, Mother, can't you get it off with milk,
or something?"

Marjorie had seen her mother try to take ink-stains out of white linen
with milk, and, though the operation was rarely entirely successful, she
hoped it would work better on her own skin.

"Milk! No, indeed. Pumice stone might do it, but it would take your skin
off, too. Tell me all about it."

So the inky little girl cuddled into her mother's arms, which somehow
opened to receive the culprit, and she told the whole dreadful story.
Mrs. Maynard was truly shocked.

"I don't wonder Miss Lawrence didn't know what to do with you," she
said; "for I'm sure I don't, either. Marjorie, you _must_ have known you
were doing wrong when you began that performance. Now, listen! If
somebody had told you of another little girl who cut up just such a
prank, what would you have said?"

"I'd have said she ought to know better than to fool with ink, anyway.
It's the most get-all-overy stuff."

"Well, why did you fool with it, then?"

"Well, you see, Mother, I did know it was awful messy, but that know was
in the back of my head, and somehow it slipped away from my memory when
the thought that I wanted a witch hat came and pushed it out."

"Now, you're trying to be funny, and I want you to talk sensibly."

"Yes'm, I am sensible. Honest, the thought about the witch hat was so
quick it pushed everything else out of my mind."

"Even your sense of duty, and your determination to be a good little
girl."

"Yes'm; they all flew away, and my whole head was full of how to make
the white paper black. And that was the only way I could think of."

"Well, have your thoughts that were pushed out come back yet?"

"Oh, yes, Mother; they came back as soon as I found myself all inky."

"Then, if they've come back, you know you did wrong?"

"Yes, I do know it now."

"And you know that little girls who do wrong have to be punished?"

"Ye-es; I s'pose I know that. How are you going to punish me?"

"We must discuss that. _I_ think you deserve a rather severe punishment,
for this was really, truly mischief. What do you think of staying home
from Gladys' Hallowe'en party as a punishment?"

"Oh, Moth-er May-nard! You just _can't_ mean _that_!"

"I'm not sure but I do. You _must_ learn, somehow, Midget, that if you
do these awful things, you must have awful punishments."

"Yes, but to stay home from Gladys' party! Why, those horrid, cruel
people in the history book couldn't get up a worse punishment than that!
Mother, say you don't mean it!"

"I won't decide just now; I'll think it over. Meantime, let's see what
we can do toward cleaning you up."

The process was an uncomfortable one, and, after Marjorie's poor little
face and hands had gone through a course of lemon juice, pumice stone,
and other ineffectual obliterators, she felt as if she had had
punishment enough.

And the final result was a grayish, smeared-looking complexion, very
different from her own usual healthy pink and white.

Greatly subdued, and fearful of the impending punishment, Marjorie lay
on a couch in her mother's room, resting after the strenuous exertions
of her scrubbing and scouring.

"I do think I'm the very worst child in the whole world," she said, at
last. "Isn't it surprising, Mother, that I should be so bad, when you're
so sweet and good? Do you think I take after Father?"

Mrs. Maynard suppressed a smile.

"Wait till Father comes home, and ask him that question," she said.



CHAPTER XI

THE HALLOWE'EN PARTY


Mr. and Mrs. Maynard talked over Marjorie's latest prank, and concluded
that it would indeed be too great a punishment to keep her at home from
the Hallowe'en party.

So her punishment consisted in being kept at home from the Saturday
meeting of the Jinks Club.

This was indeed a deprivation, as the members of the club were to plan
games for the party, but still it was an easier fate to bear than
absence from the great event itself.

Marjorie was so sweet and patient as she sat at home, while King and
Kitty started off for the Jinks Club, that Mrs. Maynard was tempted to
waive the punishment and send her along, too.

But the mother well knew that what she was doing was for her child's own
good, and so she stifled her own desires, and let Marjorie stay at
home.

Midget was restless, though she tried hard not to show it. She fed the
gold-fish, she read in her book of Fairy Tales, she tried amusements of
various sorts, but none seemed to interest her. In imagination she could
see the rest of the Jinks Club seated in the bay at Dorothy Adams',
chattering about the party.

"Oh, hum," sighed Marjorie, as she stood looking out of the playroom
window, "I do believe I'll never be naughty again."

"What's 'e matter, Middy?" said Rosy Posy, coming along just then.
"Don't you feels dood? Want to p'ay wiv my Boffin Bear?"

Marjorie took the soft, woolly bear, and somehow he was a comforting old
fellow.

"Let's play something, Rosy Posy," she said.

"Ess; p'ay house?"

"No; that's no fun. Let's play something where we can bounce around. I
feel awful dull."

"Ess," said Rosy Posy, who was amiable, but not suggestive.

"Let's play I'm a hippopotamus, and you're a little yellow chicken, and
I'm trying to catch you and eat you up."

Down went Rosy Posy on all-fours, scrambling across the floor, and
saying, "Peep, peep"; and down went Marjorie, and lumbered across the
floor after her sister, while she roared and growled terrifically.

Mrs. Maynard heard the noise, but she only smiled to think that Marjorie
was working off her disappointment that way instead of sulking.

Finally the hippopotamus caught the chicken, and devoured it with
fearful gnashing of teeth, the chicken meanwhile giggling with delight
at the fun.

Then they played other games, in which Boffin joined, and also
Marjorie's kitten, Puff. The days, of late, had been such busy ones that
Puff had been more or less neglected, and as she was a socially inclined
little cat, she was glad to be restored to public favor.

And so the long morning dragged itself away, and at luncheon-time the
Jinks Club sent its members home.

The Maynards were always a warm-hearted, generous-minded lot of little
people, and, far from teasing Marjorie about her morning at home, King
and Kitty told her everything that had been discussed and decided at the
Jinks Club, and brought her the money contributed by the members.

So graphic were their descriptions that Marjorie felt almost as if she
had been there herself; and her spirits rose as she realized that her
punishment was over, and in the afternoon she could go over to Gladys',
and really help in the preparations for the party.

At last the night of the great occasion arrived.

Then it was Marjorie's turn to feel sorry for Kitty, because she was too
young to go to evening parties. But Mr. and Mrs. Maynard had promised
some special fun to Kitty at home, and she watched Midget's preparations
with interest quite untinged by envy.

Kingdon and Marjorie were to go alone at seven o'clock, and Mr. Maynard
was to come after them at nine.

"But Gladys said, Mother," said Midge, "that she hoped we'd stay later
than nine."

"I hope you won't," said Mrs. Maynard. "You're really too young to go
out at night anyway, but as it's just across the street, I trust you'll
get there safely. But you must come home as soon as Father comes for
you."

"Yes, if he makes us," said Marjorie, smiling at her lenient father, who
was greatly inclined to indulge his children.

"If you're not back as soon as I think you ought to be, I shall
telephone for you," said Mrs. Maynard; but Marjorie knew from her
mother's smiling eyes that she was not deeply in earnest.

Midget had on a very pretty dress of thin white muslin, with ruffles of
embroidery. She wore a broad pink sash, and her dark curls were
clustered into a big pink bow, which bobbed and danced on top of her
head. Pink silk stockings and dainty pink slippers completed her
costume, and her father declared she looked good enough to eat.

"Eat her up," said Rosy Posy, who was ecstatically gazing at her
beautiful big sister. "Be a hippottymus, Fader, an' eat Mopsy all up!"

"Not till after she's been to the party, Baby. They'll all be expecting
her."

Kingdon, quite resplendent in the glory of his first Tuxedo jacket, also
looked admiringly at his pretty sister.

"You'll do, Mops," he said. "Come on, let's go. It's just seven."

Mrs. Maynard put a lovely white, hooded cape of her own round Marjorie,
and carefully drew the hood up over her curls.

"See that your bow is perked up after you take this off," said the
mother, as a parting injunction, and then the two children started off.

The parents watched them from the window, as they crossed the street in
the moonlight, and Mrs. Maynard sighed as she said, "They're already
beginning to grow up."

"But we have some littler ones," said her husband, gaily, as he prepared
for a game of romps with Kitty and Rosy Posy.

When King and Marjorie rang the bell at Gladys Fulton's, the door opened
very slowly, and they could hear a low, sepulchral groan.

Midge clung to her brother's arm, for though she knew everything was to
be as weird and grotesque as possible, yet it was delightful to feel the
shudder of surprise.

As the door opened further, they could see that the house was but dimly
lighted, and the hall was full of a deep red glow. This was caused by
putting red shades on the lights and standing a semi-transparent red
screen before the blazing wood-fire in the big fireplace.

The groan was repeated, and then they realized that it said, "Welcome,
welcome!" but in such a wailing voice that it seemed to add to the
gloom. The voice proceeded from a figure draped in a white sheet.

"Hello, Ghost!" said King, who knew that Dick Fulton himself was wrapped
in the sheet.

"O-o-o-o-ugh!" groaned the ghost.

"You don't seem to feel well," said Marjorie, giggling. "Poor Ghost, why
don't you go to bed?"

But before the ghost could speak again, a gorgeous witch came prancing
up, carrying a broomstick wound with red ribbons. The witch was all in
red, with a tall peaked hat of red, covered with cabalistic designs cut
from gilt paper and pasted on. She groaned and wailed, too, and then
spoke in a rapid and unintelligible jargon.

The Maynards knew that this witch was Gladys, but some of the guests did
not know it, and were greatly mystified.

A few older persons, whom Mrs. Fulton had invited to help entertain the
children, were stationed in the various rooms. Dressed in queer
costumes, they played bits of weird music on the piano, or struck
occasional clanging notes from muffled gongs.

All of this greatly pleased Marjorie, who loved make-believe, and she
fell into the spirit of the occasion, and went about on tiptoe with a
solemn, awed face. Indeed she made the ghosts and witches laugh in spite
of their wish to be awesome. The rooms were decorated to befit the day,
and great jack-o'-lanterns grinned from mantels or brackets. Autumn
leaves were in profusion, and big black cats cut from paper adorned the
walls.

Soon the party were all assembled, and then the games began.

First, all were led out to the kitchen, which was decorated with ears of
corn, sheaves of grain, and other harvest trophies.

On a table were dishes of apples and nuts, not for eating purposes, but
to play the games with.

There were several tubs half filled with water, and in these the young
people were soon "bobbing for apples." On the apples were pinned papers
on which were written various names, and the merry guests strove to
grasp an apple with their teeth, either by its stem or by biting into
the fruit itself. This proved to be more difficult than it seemed, and
it was soon abandoned for the game of apple-parings. After an apple was
pared in one continuous strip, the paring was tossed three times round
the head, and then thrown to the floor. The initial it formed there was
said to represent the initial of the fate of the one who threw it.

"Pshaw!" said Marjorie, as she tried for the third time, "it always
makes E, and I don't know anybody who begins with E."

"Perhaps you'll meet some one later," said Mrs. Fulton, smiling. "You're
really too young to consider these 'fates' entirely trustworthy."

Then they all tried blowing out the candle. This wasn't a "Fate" game,
but there were prizes for the successful ones.

Each guest was blindfolded, led to a table where stood a lighted candle,
turned round three times, and ordered to blow it out. Only three
attempts were allowed, and not everybody won the little witches, owls,
black cats, bats, and tiny pumpkins offered as prizes.

Marjorie, though securely blindfolded, was fortunate enough to blow
straight and hard, and out went the candle-flame. Her prize was a gay
little chenille imp, which she stuck in her hair with great glee.

Then they all went back to the drawing-room, where a pretty game had
been arranged during their absence.

From the chandelier was suspended a large-sized "hoople" that had been
twisted with red ribbon. From this at regular intervals hung, by short
ribbons, candies, cakes, apples, nuts, candle ends, lemons, and sundry
other things.

The children stood round in a circle, and the hoop was twisted up
tightly and then let to untwist itself slowly. As it revolved, the
children were to catch the flying articles in their teeth. Any one
getting a lemon was out of the game. Any one getting a candle end had to
pay a forfeit, but those who caught the goodies could eat them.

Next, after being seated round the room, each child was given a spoon.

Then a dish of ice-cream was passed, of which each took a spoonful and
ate it. In the ice-cream had previously been hidden a dime, a ring, a
thimble, a button, and a nutmeg. Whoever chanced to get the ring was
destined to be married first. Whoever took the dime was destined to
become very wealthy. The thimble denoted a thrifty housewife; the
button, a life of single blessedness; and the nutmeg, a good cook.

Shouts of laughter arose, as they learned that Kingdon would be an old
bachelor, and doubts were expressed when Gladys triumphantly exhibited
the nutmeg.

"You can't ever learn to cook!" cried Dick. "You're too much of a
butterfly."

"Good cooks make the butter fly," said Kingdon, and then they all
laughed again. Indeed, they were quite ready to laugh at anything. For a
Hallowe'en party is provocative of much merriment, and the most
nonsensical speeches were applauded.

They popped corn, and they melted lead, and they roasted chestnuts, and
then some more difficult experiments were tried.

Harry Frost and Marjorie were chosen to "Thread the Needle."

Each held a cupful of water in the left hand, and in the right hand
Harry held a good-sized needle, while Marjorie held a length of thread.
She tried to get the thread through the needle, and he tried to help, or
at least not hinder her; but all the time both must have a care that no
drop of water was spilled from their cups.

The tradition was that if they succeeded in threading the needle within
a minute they were destined for each other; but as they couldn't do it,
Harry bade her a laughing farewell, and offered the thread to Gladys.
They were no more successful, and the game was abandoned as being too
difficult.

Nutshell boats was a pretty game. The tiny craft, made of English walnut
shells, with paper sails, had been prepared beforehand, and the guests
wrote their names on the sails, then loaded each boat with a cargo of a
wish written on a slip of paper.

The boats were then set afloat in a tub of water, and by gently blowing
on them their owners endeavored to make them go ashore, or rather to the
side of the tub. As one hit the wood it was taken out, and the owner
joyfully announced that his or her wish would come true, but many of
them stayed stubbornly in mid-ocean and refused to land. The unfortunate
owners condoled with each other on their hard fate.

The merry games being over, all went to the dining-room for the feast
that was spread there.

The children were paired off, and, while Mrs. Fulton played stirring
strains on the piano, they marched around the rooms, and so out to the
dining-room.

The elaborately decorated table called forth shouts of joy, and soon all
were seated in chairs round the room, enjoying the good things.

On the table were jack-o'-lanterns made not only of pumpkins, but of
squashes, turnips, and even of big red or green apples.

Candles were burning in all of these, and standing about the table were
queer little gnomes and witches, made of nuts, or of dried prunes.
These little figures were souvenirs, and were distributed to all the
guests. The ice-cream was in the form of little yellow pumpkins, and
proved to taste quite as good as it looked. There were also more
substantial viands, such as nut sandwiches, apple salad, pumpkin pie,
and grape jelly. Everything had some reference to Hallowe'en or to
Harvest Home, and the children were not too young to appreciate this.

Supper was just about over when Mr. Maynard came after his children.

"Oh, Father," cried Marjorie, "you said you wouldn't come till nine
o'clock!"

"But it's quarter-past nine now, my daughter."

"It _can't_ be!" exclaimed Midge, greatly surprised; and everybody said,
"Is it, really?"

"But we must have one merry round game before we part," said Mrs.
Fulton, and, though several parents had arrived to take their little
ones home, they all agreed to wait ten minutes more.

So they had a rollicking game of "Going to Jerusalem," and then the
party was over.

Marjorie said good-night politely to Mrs. Fulton and the other grown-ups
who had entertained them, making her pretty little bobbing courtesy, as
she had been taught to do.

Kingdon said good-night in his frank, boyish way, and then they went for
their wraps.

"Oh, Father," said Midget as they crossed the street to their own home,
"it was the very loveliest party! Can't I sit up for a while and tell
you every single thing that happened?"

"I'd love to have you do that, Mopsy Midget; in fact, I can scarcely
wait till morning to hear about it all. But it is my duty as a stern
parent to order you off to bed at once. Little girls that wheedle fond
fathers into letting them go to evening parties must be content to scoot
for bed the minute they get home."

"All right, then, Father, but do get up early in the morning to hear all
about it, won't you?"

"I'll guarantee to get up as early as you do, Sleepyhead," said Mr.
Maynard, for Marjorie was yawning as if the top of her head was about to
come off.

Mrs. Maynard accompanied the little girl to her bedroom, but Midge was
too tired to do more than tell her mother that it was the most
beautiful party in the world, and that next day she should hear all
about it.

"I can wait, little girl," said Mrs. Maynard, as she tucked Midget up
and kissed her good-night, but the exhausted child was already in the
land of dreams.



CHAPTER XII

TOTTY AND DOTTY


"Marjorie," said her mother, one Saturday morning, "I expect Mrs.
Harrison to spend the day. She will bring her little baby with her, and
I want you to stay at home, so that you can wheel the baby about if she
asks you to do so."

"I will, Mother. The Jinks Club meets here this afternoon anyway, and
this morning I'll stay at home. Can't I ask Gladys to come over? We'd
love to take care of the baby together."

"Yes, have Gladys if you like. I don't mind."

Mrs. Maynard went off to look after housekeeping affairs, and Marjorie
ran over to ask Gladys to come and spend the morning.

The two girls were sitting on a bench under a tree on the front lawn,
when they saw Mrs. Harrison come in at the gate. She was wheeling her
baby-carriage, and Marjorie ran to meet her.

"How do you do, Mrs. Harrison?" she said. "Mother is expecting you.
Come right on up to the house. Mayn't I wheel Baby for you?"

"I wish you would, my dear. I gave nurse a holiday, but I didn't realize
how tiresome that heavy carriage is, after wheeling it so many blocks."

Marjorie pushed the little coach, while Gladys danced alongside, talking
to the winsome baby.

"What's her name, Mrs. Harrison?" she said.

"Oh!" replied the young mother, "she has the dignified name of
Katharine, but we never call her that. I'm ashamed to say we call her
Totty."

"I think Totty is a lovely name," said Midget. "It makes me think of
Dotty, a baby who lives about a block away from us. She's just the same
size as this baby."

"Probably she's older, then," said Mrs. Harrison, complacently; "Totty's
just a year old, but she's much larger than most children of that age."

"Yes, I suppose so," said Midget, wagging her head wisely, though she
really knew little about the comparative sizes of infants. Mrs. Maynard
awaited them at the front door, and the procession arrived with a
flourish.

"Here we are, Mother," announced Marjorie, and she and Gladys lifted
baby Totty out of her nest of pillows and knit afghans.

"Why, how handy you are, child," said Mrs. Harrison. "But give her to me
now, and I'll look after her."

Marjorie handed the pretty burden over, and said:

"But mayn't we take her out for a ride, Mrs. Harrison? I'm sure she
ought to be out in the fresh air this morning."

"I'll see about it later," said Totty's mother, and then she went into
the house with her hostess, and the girls ran away to play.

But an hour later, Mrs. Maynard called Marjorie, and said she might take
the baby for a ride.

Gleefully, Marjorie and Gladys ran into the house.

They helped arrange Miss Totty's coat and cap, and so merry were they
that the baby laughed and crowed, and made friends at once.

"How she takes to you!" said Mrs. Harrison. "Sometimes she is afraid of
strangers, but she seems to love you."

"'Cause I love her," said Midge; "she's a sweet baby, and so good.
Shall I bring her in if she cries, Mrs. Harrison?"

"Yes; but she won't cry. She's more likely to go to sleep."

The little lady was tucked into her carriage; white mittens on her tiny
hands, and a white veil over her rosy face.

"Does she need the veil?" asked Mrs. Maynard, doubtfully. "It isn't cold
to-day."

"No," said Mrs. Harrison; "but the breeze is brisk; and she's used to a
light veil. I think she'd better wear it."

"How far can we go?" asked Marjorie, as the preparations were completed.

"Stay in the yard, mostly," said her mother. "If you go out in the
street, don't go more than two blocks away."

"All right, we won't," said Marjorie. "Come on, Glad." The two little
girls started off with the baby-carriage.

"She's a careful child," said Mrs. Harrison, as she noticed Marjorie
turn a corner with precision.

"Yes," said Mrs. Maynard. "And she's devoted to children. You need have
no fear of Totty."

"Oh, I haven't," said Mrs. Harrison, and then the two friends returned
to the house, and sat down for a long chat.

The girls had a fine time with the baby. They rolled the carriage
carefully, pausing now and then to present their little guest with a
bright autumn leaf, or a big horse-chestnut, which they picked up from
the ground.

"Let's pretend she's an infant princess, and we're kidnapping her," said
Marjorie.

"All right; what's her name?"

"Princess Petronella," said Marjorie, promptly, using a favorite name of
hers.

"I don't think much of that," said Gladys; "I like Ermyntrude."

"Both, then," said Marjorie; for this was a way they often settled their
differences. "Her name is Princess Ermyntrude Petronella; and we call
her Ermyn Pet for short."

"But we ought to call her Princess," objected Gladys.

"Well, we will. But remember we're kidnapping her for a great reward.
Hist! Some one cometh!"

They hustled the carriage behind a great pine-tree, in pretended fear
of a pursuer, though no one was in sight.

"How much shall we charge for ransom?" asked Gladys, in the hollow voice
that they always used in their make-believe games.

"A thousand rubbles," answered Marjorie; "and unless the sum is
forthcoming ere set of sun, the Princess shall be,--shall be----"

Marjorie hesitated. It seemed dreadful to pronounce fate, even in
make-believe, on that dimpled, smiling bit of humanity.

"Shall be imprisoned," suggested Gladys.

"Yes, imprisoned in an enchanted castle."

Totty crowed and gurgled, as if greatly pleased with her destiny, and
the girls wheeled her along the path to the gate.

"She reminds me so much of Dotty Curtis," said Midget. "Let's go down
that way and see if Dotty's out. Mother said we could go two blocks."

On they went, crossing the curbs with great care, and soon turned in at
Mrs. Curtis' house.

Sure enough, there was the nurse wheeling the Curtis baby around the
drive.

"Good-morning," said Marjorie, who was friendly with Nurse Lisa. "How
is Dotty to-day?"

"She's well, Miss Marjorie," replied Lisa; "and who's the fine child
with you?"

"This is little Totty Harrison; and I think she looks like Dot. Let's
compare them."

The veils were taken off the two children, and sure enough they did look
somewhat alike.

"They're both darlings," said Marjorie, as she gently replaced Totty's
veil. "Lisa, won't you let Gladys wheel Dotty for awhile, and I'll wheel
Totty. That would be fun."

"I'll willingly leave her with you for a bit, Miss Gladys. I've some
work to do in the house, and if you'll keep baby for a few minutes it
would be a great thing for me. Mrs. Curtis is out, but I know she'd
trust you with the child, if the other lady does. But don't go off the
place."

"No," said Marjorie; "this place is so big there's room enough anyway. I
promise you we won't go outside the gates, Lisa."

"Isn't this fun?" cried Marjorie, as Lisa went away. "Now, we have two
kidnapped princesses. Or shall we play house with them?"

"No, let's have them princesses. Now you can name yours Petronella, and
I'll name mine Ermyntrude."

This momentous question settled, the game went on. They pretended that
the princesses were anxious to get back to their respective homes, and
that they must resort to bribery and strategy to keep them contented.

"Nay, nay, Princess Petronella," Marjorie would say; "weep not for
friends and family. I will take you to a far better place, where flowers
grow and birds sing and--and----"

"And gold-fish swim," went on Gladys, who always followed Marjorie's
lead, "and roosters crow--cock-a-doodle-doo!!"

This climax, accompanied as it was by Gladys' flapping her arms and
prancing about, greatly delighted both princesses, and they laughed and
clamored for more.

"Aren't they dears!" exclaimed Marjorie, as she looked at the two pretty
babies. "Methinks no ransom is forthcoming. Must we resort to our dire
and dreadful doom?"

"Aye, aye!" said Gladys. "To the enchanted castle with the fatal
victims."

So long as the girls used tragic-sounding words they didn't always care
whether they made sense or not.

"On, on, then!" cried Midget. "On, on! To victory, or defeat!"

Each pushing a carriage, they ran down the long drive, across the wide
lawn, and paused, flushed and breathless, at a rustic summer-house.

Into the arbor they pushed the two coaches, and then dropped, laughing,
on the seats.

The babies laughed, too, and both Dotty and Totty seemed to think that
to be a captive princess was a delightful fate. The girls sat still for
awhile to rest, but the game went on.

"Shall it be the donjon keep?"

"Nay, not for these, so young and fair," answered Gladys. "Let's chain
them with rose garlands to a silken couch."

"Huh!" said Marjorie, "that's not a dire fate. Let's do something that's
more fun. Oh, Glad, I'll tell you what! Let's exchange these babies!
That's what they always do in tragedies. Listen! We'll put Dotty's hood
on Totty, and Totty's cap on Dotty. And change their coats, too!"

"Yes, and veils; oh, Mops! What fun! If we change their coats quickly
they won't catch cold."

"Cold, pooh! It's as warm as summer."

It wasn't quite that, but it was a lovely, sunshiny day in early
October, and, after running, it seemed quite warm to the girls.

Following out their project, they quickly exchanged the babies' wraps.

By this time both little ones were growing sleepy, and were in a quiet,
tractable frame of mind.

"Their little white dresses are almost alike, anyway," said Gladys, as
she took off Totty's coat.

"Oh, well, we wouldn't think of changing their dresses," said Mopsy;
"but let's change their little shoes. I'd like to see Totty in those
cunning ankle-ties."

"And I'd like to see Dotty in those pretty blue kid shoes."

"Of course, we'll change them right back, but I just want to see how
they look."

Soon the transformation was complete. To all outward appearance of
costume, Dotty was Totty, and Totty was Dotty. Even the veils were
changed, as one was of silk gauze, the other of knitted zephyr.

Then, not in their own, but in each other's carriage, the reversed
princesses nodded and beamed at their captors.

"Now, you push that carriage, and I'll push this," said Marjorie, taking
hold of the carriage she had pushed all the time, though now it had the
other baby in it.

"All right," said Gladys, "let's go round by the garden."

Slowly now, the girls went round by the large well-kept kitchen garden,
and then through the flower gardens back to the front lawn.

"Why," said Marjorie, suddenly, "both these children are asleep!"

"Mrs. Harrison said Totty would go to sleep," said Gladys. "I guess all
babies go to sleep about this time in the morning. It seems too bad to
wake them up to change their coats back again, but I think we ought to
take Totty back, don't you?"

"Yes, I do. Suppose we leave the coats and caps as they are, and then
afterward we can bring back Dotty's things and get Totty's."

"Here you are!" cried Lisa, coming to meet them at the front door.
"You're good little girls to mind the baby for me. I'll take her now,
and I thank you much."

As Lisa spoke, she took hold of the Curtis carriage, which contained the
Harrison baby.

"Ah, she's asleep, bless her heart!" she exclaimed, looking at the
closed eyes, almost hidden by the white veil. "I'm glad she's getting a
fine nap. Run along now with your own baby."

Partly confused by Lisa's quick and peremptory dismissal, and partly
impelled by a sudden mischievous idea, Marjorie smiled a good-bye, and
began trundling the other carriage toward the gate.

"Why, Midge!" whispered Gladys, aghast. "We've got the wrong baby! This
is Dotty Curtis!"

"Keep still!" whispered Marjorie. "I know it. But it's a good joke on
that snippy Lisa."

"She wasn't snippy."

"Yes, she was; she said 'Run along now, little girls,' after we've been
helping her all the morning. She's going to let the baby stay asleep in
the carriage, and she won't know it till she wakes up."

"Who won't? The baby?"

"No, Lisa. And then she'll be scared, and it will serve her right."

"But what about Mrs. Harrison? You don't want to scare her."

"That's just the thing," explained Marjorie. "I want to see if she'll
know the difference in the babies. They say mothers can always tell
their own children. Now we'll see."

"It's a great joke," said Gladys, giggling. "But suppose they never find
it out, and the children live with their wrong mothers all their lives!"

"Don't be silly," said Marjorie.



CHAPTER XIII

A FAIR EXCHANGE?


Mrs. Maynard opened the front door just as the children approached with
the baby-carriage.

"Come along, girlies!" she cried. "Marjorie, wheel the carriage right
into the hall."

"The baby's asleep, Mother," said Midget, as she and Gladys brought the
carriage over the door-sill.

"Oh, is she? Totty's asleep, Mildred," she called, in a stage whisper,
to Mrs. Harrison, who was upstairs.

"I thought she would be," responded that lady. "Just throw back her
veil, and leave her as she is. She often takes her nap in her carriage,
and there's no use waking her."

Gently, Mrs. Maynard turned back the veil from the little sleeping face,
and, as she had no thought of anything being wrong, she did not notice
any difference in the baby features.

"Gladys, we'd like to have you stay to luncheon," she said. "So you and
Midge run upstairs and tidy your curls at once." With demure steps, but
with dancing eyes, the girls went upstairs.

"I'm afraid it's mischief," whispered Gladys to Marjorie, as she tied
her hair-ribbon for her.

"No, it isn't!" declared Midge, stoutly. "It's only a joke, and it can't
do any harm. Mother didn't know it was a different baby, and I don't
believe Mrs. Harrison will know either."

Trim and tidy once more the two friends went downstairs.

As they were on the stairs they heard the sound of the telephone bell.

Mrs. Maynard answered it, and in a moment Gladys realized that her own
mother was talking at the other end of the wire.

After a short conversation, Mrs. Maynard hung up the receiver, and said:

"Mrs. Fulton says that Mr. Fulton has come home quite unexpectedly and
that they are going for an afternoon's motor ride. She wants both of you
girls to go, but she says you must fly over there at once, as they're
all ready to start. She tried to tell us sooner, but couldn't get a
connection on the telephone."

"But we haven't had luncheon," said Marjorie, "and I'm fairly starving."

"They're taking luncheon with them," explained Mrs. Maynard. "And you
must go at once, not to keep Mr. Fulton waiting. Of course, you needn't
go if you don't want to, Midge."

"Oh, I do! I'm crazy to go! And luncheon in baskets is such fun! What
shall I wear, Mother?"

"Go just as you are. That frock is quite clean. Put on your hat and
coat, and I'll get a long veil for you."

Gladys had already run off home, and Marjorie was soon equipped and
ready to follow.

As she flew out of the door, she remembered the joke about the babies.

"Oh, Mother, I've something to tell you!" she cried.

"Never mind now," said Mrs. Maynard, hurrying her off. "It will keep
till you get back. And I hate to have you keep the Fultons waiting.
They're in haste to start. So kiss me, and run along."

Even as she spoke, Dick Fulton appeared, saying he had been sent to
hurry Marjorie up; so taking Dick's hand, the two ran swiftly down the
path to the gate. Mrs. Maynard watched Marjorie's flying feet, and after
she was out of sight around the corner, the lady returned to the house.

With a glance at the sleeping child, she turned to Mrs. Harrison, who
was just coming downstairs.

"Totty is sleeping sweetly," she said, "so come at once to luncheon,
Mildred."

"In a moment, Helen. I think I'll take off her cap and coat; she'll be
too warm."

"You'll waken her if you do."

"Oh, well, she'll drop right to sleep again; she always does. And
anyway, it's time she had a drink of milk."

"Very well, Mildred. You take off her wraps, and I'll ask Sarah to warm
some milk for her."

Mrs. Maynard went to speak to Sarah, and Mrs. Harrison lifted the
sleeping baby from the carriage.

She sat the blinking-eyed child on her knee while she unfastened her
coat. Then she took off the veil and cap, and then,--she stared at the
baby, and the baby stared at her.

Suddenly Mrs. Harrison gave a scream.

"Helen, Helen!" she called to her friend, and Mrs. Maynard came running
to her side.

"What _is_ the matter, Mildred? Is Totty ill?"

By this time the baby too had begun to scream. Always afraid of
strangers, Miss Dotty Curtis didn't know what to make of the scenes in
which she found herself, nor of the strange lady who held her.

"Mildred, dear, what is the matter? You look horror-stricken! And what
ails Totty?"

"This isn't my child!" wailed Mrs. Harrison.

"Totty isn't your child! What _do_ you mean?"

"But this isn't, Totty! It isn't my baby! I don't know who it is."

"Mildred, you're crazy! Of course this is Totty. These are her blue kid
shoes. And this is her coat and cap."

"I don't care if they are! It isn't Totty at all. Oh, where is my baby?"

Mrs. Harrison was on the verge of hysterics, and Mrs. Maynard was
genuinely alarmed.

"Behave yourself, Mildred!" she said, sternly. "Gather yourself
together. Here, sip this glass of water."

"I'm perfectly sensible," said Mrs. Harrison, quieting down a little, as
she noticed her friend's consternation. "But I tell you, Helen, this is
_not_ my baby. Doesn't a mother know her own child? Totty's hair is a
little longer, and her eyes are a little larger. I don't know who this
baby is, but she isn't mine."

"I believe you're right," said Mrs. Maynard, looking more closely at the
screaming baby.

"There, there!" she said, taking the frightened little one in her own
arms.

"Ma-ma!" cried the baby.

"Hear her voice!" exclaimed Mrs. Harrison. "That isn't the way my Totty
talks. Oh, Helen, what has happened?"

"I don't know," said Mrs. Maynard, her face very white. "It doesn't seem
possible that any marauder should have slipped into the house and put
this child in Totty's place. Why, it was only about a half-hour ago that
the girls brought Totty in. Mildred, are you _sure_ this isn't Totty?"

"Am I sure! Yes, I am. Wouldn't you know your own children from
strangers? Helen, a dreadful crime has been committed. Somehow this baby
has been substituted for mine. Oh, Totty, where _are_ you now?"

"What shall I do, Mildred? Shall I call up Mr. Maynard on the telephone,
or shall I ring up the police station?"

"Yes, call the police. It's dreadful, I know, but how else can we find
Totty?"

Meantime Sarah appeared with a cup of warm milk.

The baby stretched out eager little hands, and Mrs. Maynard carefully
held the cup for her to drink.

"She's a nice little thing," observed that lady. "See how prettily she
behaves."

"Helen, you'll drive me crazy. I don't care how she behaves, she isn't
Totty. Why, that isn't even Totty's little dress. So you see the
kidnapper did change her shoes and wraps, but not her frock."

Mrs. Harrison showed signs of hysterics, and Mrs. Maynard was at her
wits' end what to do.

"I suppose I'd better call the police," she said. "Here, Mildred, you
hold this baby."

Mrs. Harrison gingerly took the baby that wasn't hers, and looked like a
martyr as she held her.

But comforted by the warm food, the baby pleasantly cuddled up in Mrs.
Harrison's arms and went to sleep.

Mrs. Maynard, greatly puzzled, went to the telephone, but before she
touched it there was a furious peal at the front-door bell.

The moment the door was opened, in rushed a pretty, but frantic and very
angry, little lady, carrying a child.

"Where's my baby?" she demanded, as she fairly stamped her foot at Mrs.
Maynard.

"That's my child!" she went on, turning to Mrs. Harrison. "What are you
doing with her?"

"I don't want her!" cried Mrs. Harrison. "But what are _you_ doing with
_my_ baby?"

Totty, in the visitor's arms, held out her hands to her mother, and
gurgled with glee.

"Ma-ma!" said the other baby, waking up at all this commotion and
holding out her hands also.

The exchange was made in a moment, and, still unpacified, Mrs. Harrison
and Mrs. Curtis glared at each other.

Mrs. Maynard struggled to suppress her laughter, for the scene was a
funny one; but she knew the two ladies were thoroughly horrified at the
mystery, and mirth would be quite out of place.

"Let me introduce you," she said. "Mrs. Curtis, this is my dear friend,
Mrs. Harrison. Your little ones are the same age, and look very much
alike."

"Not a bit alike," said both mothers, at once.

"I confess," went on Mrs. Maynard, "that I can't understand it at all,
but you certainly each have your own babies now; so, my dear Mrs.
Curtis, won't you tell me what you know about this very strange affair?"

Mrs. Curtis had recovered her equilibrium, and, as she sat comfortably
holding Dotty, she smiled, with a little embarrassment.

"Dear Mrs. Maynard," she said, "I'm afraid I understand it all better
than you do; but I'm also afraid, if I explain it to you, you will,--it
will make----"

Suddenly Mrs. Maynard saw a gleam of light.

"Marjorie!" she exclaimed.

"Yes," said Mrs. Curtis; "I think it was due to Miss Mischief. When I
returned home from an errand, Lisa said that your Marjorie and Gladys
Fulton had had Dotty out in her carriage, and had also another baby who
was visiting you. The girls had left Dotty--or rather, Lisa supposed it
was Dotty--asleep in her coach, and Nurse let her stay there, asleep,
until my return. Then the child wakened--and it wasn't Dotty at all! The
baby had on Dot's slippers, cap, coat, and veil, but the rest of her
clothes I had never seen before. I felt sure there had been foul play of
some sort, but Lisa was sure those girls had exchanged the babies'
clothes on purpose. I hoped Lisa was right, but I feared she wasn't, so
I picked up the baby and ran over here to see."

Mrs. Maynard was both grieved and chagrined.

"How could Marjorie do such a thing!" she exclaimed.

"Oh, don't be too hard on her, Mrs. Maynard," said Mrs. Curtis. "It's
all right, now, and you know Marjorie and Gladys are a mischievous
pair."

"But this is inexcusable," went on Mrs. Maynard. "Mrs. Harrison nearly
went frantic, and you were certainly greatly alarmed."

Mrs. Curtis smiled pleasantly. "I was," she admitted, "but it was only
for a few moments. I was mystified rather than alarmed, for Lisa said
the carriage had not been out of her sight a moment, except when the
girls had it."

Mrs. Curtis took her leave, and, carrying with her her own baby, went
away home.

Mrs. Maynard made sincere apologies to her friend for naughty Marjorie's
mischief.

"Never mind, Helen," said Mrs. Harrison. "I can see now it was only a
childish prank, and doubtless Marjorie and Gladys expected a good laugh
over it; then they ran off unexpectedly and forgot all about the
babies."

Mrs. Maynard remembered then that Midget had said at the last moment
that she had something to tell her, but that she had hurried the child
off.

"Still," she thought to herself, "that was no excuse for Midge. She
should have told me."

After a refreshing luncheon, Mrs. Harrison was able to view the matter
more calmly.

"Don't punish Marjorie for this, Helen," she said. "Children will be
children, and I daresay those girls thought it would be a fine joke on
me."

"I certainly shall punish her, Mildred. She is altogether too
thoughtless, and too careless of other people's feelings. She never does
wilful or malicious wrong, but she tumbles into mischief thoughtlessly.
She will be honestly grieved when she learns how frightened and upset
you were, and she'll never do such a thing again. But, the trouble is
she'll do some other thing that will be equally naughty, but something
that no one can foresee or warn her against."

"Well, just for my sake, Helen, don't punish her this time; at least,
not much. I really oughtn't to have gone to pieces so; I ought to have
realized that it could all be easily explained."

But Mrs. Maynard would not promise to condone Midget's fault entirely,
and argued that she really ought to be punished for what turned out to
be a troublesome affair.

Mrs. Harrison went home about four o'clock, and it was five before
Marjorie returned.

Her mother met her at the door.

"Did you have a pleasant time, Marjorie?" she said.

"Oh, yes, Mother; we had a lovely time. We went clear to Ridge Park. Oh,
I _do_ love to ride in an automobile."

"Go and take off your things, my child, and then come to me in my room."

"Yes, Mother," said Marjorie, and she danced away to take off her hat.

"Here I am, Mother," she announced, a little later. "Now shall I tell
you all about my afternoon?"

"Not quite yet, dear. I'll tell you all about my afternoon first. Mrs.
Harrison had a very unhappy time, and of course that made me unhappy
also."

"Why, Mother, what was the trouble about?"

Mrs. Maynard looked into the clear, honest eyes of her daughter, and
sighed as she realized that Marjorie had no thought of what had made the
trouble.

"Why did you put Dotty Curtis' cloak and hat on Totty?"

Then the recollection came back to Marjorie.

"Oh, Mother!" she cried, as she burst into a ringing peal of laughter.
"Wasn't it a funny joke! Did Mrs. Harrison laugh? Did she know her own
baby?"

"Marjorie, I'm ashamed of you. No, Mrs. Harrison did not laugh. Of
course she knew that the child you left in the carriage was not her
little Totty, and as she didn't know what had happened, she had a very
bad scare, and her nerves were completely unstrung."

"But why, Mother?" said Marjorie, looking puzzled. "I thought she
wouldn't know the difference. But if she did know right away it wasn't
Totty, why didn't she go over to Mrs. Curtis' and change them back
again?"

"She didn't know Totty was at Mrs. Curtis'. Neither did I. We never
dreamed that you couldn't be trusted to take a baby out to ride and
bring her home safely. She thought some dreadful thing had happened to
her child."

"Oh, Mother, did she? I'm so sorry. I never meant to tease her that way.
I only thought it would be a funny joke to see her think Dotty was
Totty."

"But, my little girl, you ought to have realized that it was a cruel and
even a dangerous joke. You cannot carelessly dispose of little human
beings as if they were dolls, or other inanimate things."

"I never thought of that, Mother. And, anyway, I started to tell you
about it, just as I went away, and you told me to run along, and tell
you what I had to tell after I came home."

"I thought you'd say that; but of course I thought you meant you wanted
to tell me some trifling incident, or something of little importance.
Can't you understand that what you did was not a trifle, but a grave
piece of misbehavior?"

"Mischief, Mother?"

Mrs. Maynard bit her lip to keep from smiling at Marjorie's innocent
request for information.

"It was mischief, I suppose. But it was more than that. It was real
wrong-doing. When little girls are trusted to do anything, they ought to
be very careful to do it earnestly and thoroughly, exactly as it is
meant to be done. If you had stopped to think, would you have thought
either of those mothers _wanted_ you to exchange their babies?"

Marjorie pondered.

"No," she said, at last; "but, truly, if I had thought ever so hard I
wouldn't have thought they'd mind it so much. Can't they take a joke,
Mother?"

"Marjorie, dear, you have a fun-loving disposition, but if it is to make
you joy and not sorrow all your life, you must learn what constitutes a
desirable 'joke.' To begin with, practical jokes are rarely, if ever,
desirable."

"What is a practical joke?"

"It's a little difficult to explain, my dear; but it's usually a
well-laid plan to make somebody feel foolish or angry, or appear
ridiculous. I think you hoped Mrs. Harrison would appear ridiculous by
petting another child while thinking it was her own. And you meant to
stand by and laugh at her."

This was putting it rather plainly, but Marjorie could not deny the
truth of her mother's statement.

"And so," went on Mrs. Maynard, "that was a very wrong intent,
especially from a little girl to a grown person. Practical jokes among
your playmates are bad enough, but this was far worse."

"I understand, Mother, now that you've explained it; but, truly, I
didn't mean to do anything so awfully dreadful. How are you going to
punish me?"

"Mrs. Harrison was very forgiving, and begged me not to punish you
severely. But I think you deserve a pretty hard penance; don't you?"

"Why, the way you tell me about it, I think I do. But the way I meant
it, seems so different."

"Well, I've thought it over, and I've decided on this. You dislike to
sew; don't you?"

"Yes, I do!" said Marjorie, emphatically.

"I know you do. But I think you ought to learn to sew, and, moreover, I
think this would be an appropriate thing to do. I want you to make a
little dress for Totty. I will do the more difficult parts, such as
putting it together, but you must run the tucks, and hem it, and
overhand the seams. And it must be done very neatly, as all babies'
dresses should be dainty and fine. You may work half an hour on it every
day, and, when it is finished, it will be a pretty little gift for Mrs.
Harrison, and it will also teach you something of an old-fashioned but
useful art."

Marjorie drew a deep sigh. "All right, Mother. I'll try to do it nicely;
but oh, how I hate a thimble! I never again will mix up people's
babies. But I didn't think it was such an awful, dreadful thing to do."

"You're a strange child, Midget," said her mother, looking at her
thoughtfully. "I never know what you're going to do next."

"I never know myself," said Marjorie, cheerfully, "but you can always
punish me, you know."

"But I don't want to. I want you to behave so you won't need
punishment."

"I'll try real hard," said Midge, as she kissed her mother, again and
again.



CHAPTER XIV

A NOBLE SOCIETY


The Jinks Club was having its weekly meeting, and all of the members
were present.

"I think," the President was saying, "that we ought to do something
that's of some use. It's all very well to cut up jinks to have fun, and
we did have a lot of fun on the straw ride last week; but I mean we
ought to do some real good in the world."

"But how could we, King?" said Marjorie, looking at her brother in awe.

"There are lots of ways!" declared King. "We might do something
public-spirited or charitable."

"I think so, too," said Dick Fulton. "My father was talking last night
about the selfishness of citizens."

"Goodness, Dick," said his sister, "we're not citizens!"

"Yes, we are, Gladys. Why aren't we? Everybody born in America is a
citizen, whether old or young."

"I never dreamed I was a citizen," said Gladys, giggling. "Did you,
Kit?"

"No," said Kitty; "but I'd just as lieve be. Wouldn't you, Dorothy?"

"Yes, indeed. It's nice to be citizens. Sort of patriotic, you know."

"Well," said Midget, "if we're citizens, let's do citizens' work. What
do they do, King?"

"Oh, they vote, and----"

"But we can't vote. Of course we girls never can, but you boys can't for
years yet. Don't be silly."

"Well, there are other things besides voting," said Dick. "Some citizens
have big meetings and make speeches."

"Now _you're_ silly," said Kingdon. "We can't make speeches any more
than we can vote. But there must be things that young folks can do."

"We could have a fair and make money for the heathen," volunteered
Gladys.

"That's too much like work," said King. "Besides, we're all going to be
in the Bazaar in December, and we don't want to copy that! And, anyway,
I mean something more--more political than that."

"I don't know anything about politics," declared Marjorie, "and you
don't, either!"

"I do, too. Father told me all about the different parties and platforms
and everything."

"Let's have a platform," said Kitty. "You boys can build it."

King laughed at this, but, as the others had only a hazy idea of what a
political platform was, Kitty's suggestion was not heeded.

"I'll tell you," said Dick. "When Father was talking last night, he said
if our citizens were public-spirited, they'd form a Village Improvement
Society, and fix up the streets and beautify the park and the common,
and keep their lawns in better order."

"Now you're talking!" cried King. "That's the sort of thing I mean. And
we children could be a little Village Improvement Society ourselves. Of
course we couldn't do much, but we could make a start, and then grown-up
people might take the notion and do it themselves."

"I think it would be lovely," said Marjorie. "We could plant flowers in
the middle of the common, and we'd all water them and weed them, and
keep them in lovely order."

"We couldn't plant flowers till next spring," said Gladys. "October's no
time to plant flowers."

"It's not a very good time for such work, anyway," said Dick, "for most
of the improvement is planting things, and mowing grass, and like that.
But there are other things, 'cause Father said that such a society could
make all the people who live here keep their sidewalks clean and not
have any ashes or rubbish anywhere about."

"I think it's great," said King. "I move we go right bang! into it, and
that we first change the name of the Jinks Club to the Village
Improvement Society. Then let's keep just the same officers, and
everything, and go right ahead and improve."

"Yes," said Marjorie, "and then whenever we want to turn back again to
the Jinks Club, why, we can."

"Oh, we won't want to turn back," said King, confidently; "the other'll
be more fun."

"All right," said Dick. "I'm secretary, so I'll make out a list of what
we can do. How much money is there in the treasury, Midget?"

"Sixty cents," said Marjorie, promptly.

"Huh! Just what we paid in to-day."

"Yes, you know we spent last week's money going on a trolley ride."

"So we did. Well, we'll have to have more cash, if we're going to
improve this town much."

"Then I can't belong," said Marjorie, decidedly. "I've got to begin now
to save money for Christmas. I'd rather have it for that than plant
flower beds."

"A nice citizen you are!" growled King. "But," he added, "I haven't any
extra money, either. Christmas is coming, and that's a fact!"

"Father'll give us Christmas money," said Kitty.

"Yes; but he likes to have us save some of our allowance, too. He says
it makes better gifts."

"Well," said Dick, "let's do things that don't cost money, then. Father
said the streets and lanes ought to be kept in better order. Let's go
around and pick up the old cans and things."

"No, thank you," said Marjorie, turning up her small nose. "I'm no
ragpicker."

"I wouldn't do that, either," said Gladys; "that is, unless I had a
horse and cart. A pony-cart, I mean; not a dump-cart. But, Dick, I heard
Father talking last night, too; and he said a society like that would
send out letters to the citizens, asking them to keep their yards in
better order."

"That's the ticket, Gladys!" cried Kingdon, admiringly. "You've struck
it now. Of course that's the way to accomplish what we are after, in a
dignified manner. Let's write a lot of those letters, and then when the
people fix their places all up, we'll say that we started the movement."

"All right," said Dick, "I think that's just what Father meant. But he
said 'a circular letter.' That means have it printed."

"Oh, well, we can't afford to have it printed. Why, we can't scrape up
postage for very many letters. Sixty cents; that would mail thirty
letters."

"We can't write more than that," said Marjorie. "That would be five
apiece for all of us. And I don't know as Kit and Dorothy write well
enough, anyway."

"Dorothy does," said Kitty, generously. "But I write like hen's tracks."

"Well, you can write those that don't matter so much," said Midge,
kindly. "I'll tell you, Kitty, you can write the one to Father."

"Pooh, Father doesn't need any. Our place is always in order."

"So is ours!" cried Dick. "And ours!" piped up Dorothy.

"But don't the citizens all have to have letters?" asked Gladys. "If you
just pick out the ones who don't keep their lawns nice, they'll be mad."

"No, they won't," said Dick; "or, if they are, why, let 'em _be_ mad."

"I say so, too," agreed King. "If we write to the ones that need writing
to, we'll have all we can do. Make out a list of 'em, Dick."

"Put down Mr. Bolton first," said Gladys. "He hasn't mowed his grass all
summer. Father says his place is a disgrace to the comminity."

"Community, child," corrected her brother. "But old Bolton's place _is_
awful. So is Crane's."

"Let's write their letters now, and see how they sound," suggested King,
who was always in favor of quick action.

The club was meeting in the Maynards' big playroom, so paper and pencils
were handy.

"It ought to be in ink, I s'pose," said King, "but I hardly ever use it,
it spills about so. Let's take pencil this time."

After many suggestions and corrections on the part of each of the
interested members the following letter was achieved:

    "MR. BOLTON,

    "_Dear Sir_: We wish kindly to ask you to keep your place in
    better order. We are trying to improve our fair city, and how
    can we do it when places like yours are a disgrace to the
    community? We trust you will be nice about this, and not get
    mad, for we mean well, and hope you are enjoying the same
    blessing."

"That's all right," said Marjorie, as Dick read it aloud. "Now, what do
we sign it?"

"Just sign it 'The Village Improvement Society,' that's all," said
Gladys.

"Wait a minute," said King. "In all letters of this sort they always
abbreviate some words; it looks more business-like."

"Mother hates abbreviations," said Marjorie; "she won't let me say
'phone for telephone, or auto for motor-car."

"That's different," said King. "She means in polite society; talking,
you know, or writing notes to your friends."

"Isn't a Village Improvement Society a polite society?" asked Kitty.

"Yes, of course, sister. But I don't mean that. I mean, in a business
letter like this they always abbreviate some words."

"Well, abbreviate 'community,' that's the longest word," suggested Dick.

"No, that isn't the right kind of a word to abbreviate. It ought to be
something like acc't for account."

"Oh, that kind? Well, perhaps we can use that word in some other letter.
But can't we do the abbreviating in the signature? That's pretty long."

"So we can," said King. "Let's sign it, 'The Village Imp. Society.'"

This was adopted, as it didn't occur to any of the children that the
abbreviated word might convey an unintended meaning.

Mr. Crane was attended to next, and, as they warmed to their subject,
his letter was a little more peremptory. It ran:

    "MR. CRANE,

    "_Dear Sir_: We're improving our village, and, unless you fix up
    your place pretty quick, we will call and argue with you. On no
    acc't let it go another week looking as disreputibil as it now
    does. We mean well, if you do; but if you don't,--beware!

    "THE VILLAGE IMP. SOCIETY."

"That's fine!" exclaimed Gladys, as this effusion was read out. "Now,
let's do two more, and then we can each take one for a copy, and make a
lot of them, just put different names at the top, you know."

"Let's make a more gentle one," said Marjorie. "Those are all right for
men, but there's old Mrs. Hill, she ought to be told pleasantly to fix
up her garden and keep her pigs and chickens shut up. We almost ran
over a lot of them the other day."

So a gentle petition was framed:

    "DEAR MRS. HILL:

    "Won't you please be so kind as to straighten out your garden a
    little? We'd like to see it look neat like Mr. Fulton's, or Mr.
    Maynard's, or Mr. Adams'. Don't go to too much trouble in this
    matter, but just kill or shut up your pigs and chickens, and we
    will all help you if need be.

    "Lovingly yours,
    "THE VILLAGE IMP. SOCIETY."

"That's sweet," said Marjorie; "I like that 'Lovingly yours'; it shows
we have no hard feelings."

One more was framed, with a special intent toward the shopkeepers:

    "MR. GREEN:

    "We wish to goodness you'd keep your goods in better order. In
    front of your store, on sidewalk and gutter, are old fruits,
    potatoes, and sundry other things too old to be quite nice. So
    spruce things up, and you will be surprised at the result.

    "Yours in good fellowship,
    "THE VILLAGE IMP. SOCIETY."

"That's a good business one," said Dick. "Sort of 'man to man,' you
know."

"I don't like it as well as some of the others," said Marjorie. "You
copy that, Dick, and I'll copy the 'lovingly' one."

Each took a model, and all set to work, except Kitty and Dorothy, who
were exempt, as their penmanship was not very legible.

"I'm tired," announced Dick, after an hour's work. "Let's stop where we
are."

"All right," said King. "We've enough for the first week, I think. If
these work pretty good, we'll do more next Saturday."

They had sixteen letters altogether, addressed to the best and worst
citizens of Rockwell, and in high glee they started to the post-office
to buy their stamps.

Mrs. Maynard willingly gave permission for them to go the short
distance to the post-office, and watched the six well-behaved children
as they walked off, two by two.

After the stamps were bought, and the letters posted, they found they
still had enough in the treasury for soda water all round, lacking two
cents. King generously supplied the deficit, and the six trooped into
the drug store, and each selected a favorite flavor.

The club meeting broke up after that, and the children went to their
homes, feeling that they had greatly gained in importance since morning.
And indeed they had.

That same evening many of the Rockwell people strolled down to the
post-office for their mail.

In the small town there were no carriers, and the short trip to the
post-office was deemed a pleasure by most.

When Mr. Maynard arrived he was surprised to find men gathered into
small groups, talking in loud and almost angry voices.

The pretty little stone building was not large enough to hold them all,
and knots of people were on the steps and on the small grass plot in
front.

"It's outrageous!" one man was saying. "I never heard of such impudence
in a civilized town!"

"Here comes Mr. Maynard now," said another, "let's ask him."

Mr. Maynard smiled pleasantly as the belligerent ones approached him.

They were men whom he knew by name, but they were not of his own social
circle.

"Look here," said John Kellogg, "I've just got this 'ere note, and some
kid yonder says it's the handwritin' of your son, and I want ter know ef
that's so!"

"It certainly looks like my son's writing," said Mr. Maynard, still
smiling pleasantly, though his heart sank as he wondered what those
children had been up to now.



CHAPTER XV

DISTURBED CITIZENS


"And I've got one that my boy says is in Dick Fulton's writin'!"
declared another angry citizen.

"Here comes Dick's father now," said Mr. Maynard, as he advanced a step
to meet Mr. Fulton. "They tell me our sons have been writing
miscellaneous letters," he said to Mr. Fulton, and, though there was a
twinkle in his eye, Mr. Fulton saw at once that there was some serious
matter in hand.

"Not only your sons, but your girls, too," growled another man. "My kid
says this is your Marjorie's fist."

"Well, well, what are the letters all about?" asked Mr. Fulton, who did
not like the attitude of the complainants.

"Read 'em, and see!" was the quick response, and half a dozen letters
were thrust toward the two gentlemen.

Mr. Fulton adjusted his glasses, and both he and Mr. Maynard quickly
scanned the notes that were only too surely the work of their own
children.

"The signature is misleading," said Mr. Fulton, who was inwardly shaking
with laughter at the absurd epistles, but who preserved a serious
countenance; "but I feel sure it means 'The Village Improvement
Society.' I have often thought such a society would be a good thing for
our town, but I didn't know one had been started."

"But who _is_ the society? A lot of youngsters?" demanded John Kellogg.

"Ahem! These documents would lead one to think so, wouldn't they?" said
Mr. Fulton, suavely.

But the offended men were not to be so easily placated.

"See here," said one of them, assuming a threatening tone, "these 'ere
letters is insults; that's what I call 'em!"

"And I!" "Me, too!" said several others.

"And as they is insults," went on the first speaker, "we wants
satisfaction; that's what we wants!"

"Yes, yes!" "We do!" chorused the crowd.

Mr. Fulton and Mr. Maynard were decidedly nonplussed. It was difficult
to take the matter seriously, and yet, as these men were so incensed, it
might make an unpleasant publicity for the two families, unless they
placated the angry recipients of those foolish letters.

Mr. Maynard was a quick thinker, and a man of more even disposition and
affable demeanor than Mr. Fulton. So Mr. Maynard, with a nod at his
friend, jumped up on a chair and began to address the crowd, as if he
were on a public platform.

"My friends and fellow-townsmen," he said: "in the first place, Mr.
Fulton and I want to admit that these letters which you have received
are without doubt the work of our own children. They were written
entirely without our knowledge or consent, and they represent a childish
endeavor to do well, but they do not show experience, or familiarity
with grown people's ways of dealing with these matters. We, therefore,
apologize to you for the offence our children have caused you, and
trust that, as most of you have children of your own, you will
appreciate the facts of the case, and forgive the well-meaning, but
ill-doing, little scamps."

Mr. Maynard's pleasant voice and genial smile went far to establish
good-feeling, and many voices murmured, "Aw, that's all right," or,
"Little scalawags, ain't they?"

"And now," Mr. Maynard went on, "since we are gathered here, I would
like to make a suggestion that may lead to a good work. Several of our
prominent business men have thought that a Village Improvement Society
could do a great and good work in our town. I, myself, have not
sufficient leisure to take this matter in charge, but I wish that a
committee of our citizens might be appointed to consider ways and means,
with a view to organizing a society in the near future. Should this be
done, I stand ready to contribute one thousand dollars to the general
fund of the society, and I've no doubt more will be subscribed by
willing hearts."

Mr. Maynard stepped down from the chair, and Mr. Fulton immediately
mounted it.

"I, too, will gladly subscribe the same amount as Mr. Maynard," he said;
"this project has for some time been in my mind, and I am pretty sure
that it was because of overhearing some of my conversations on the
subject that my young people took it up, and earnestly, if in a mistaken
manner, endeavored to start such a society."

The sentiment of the meeting had entirely changed. The men who had been
most angry at their letters were now enthusiastic in their desire for
the immediate formation of the society.

"Land sakes!" said old Mr. Bolton, "them children didn't mean nothin'
wrong. They jest didn't know no better."

"That's so," said John Kellogg. "Like's not, some of our kids might 'a'
done a heap worse."

After the election of a chairman for the provisional committee, and a
few more preliminary moves in the matter, Mr. Maynard and Mr. Fulton
went away, leaving it all in the hands of their fellow-townsmen.

"You did good work," said Mr. Fulton, appreciatively. "I confess I was
afraid of an unpleasant turn of affairs. But you won their hearts by
your tact and genial manner."

"That's the best way to manage that sort of an uprising," returned Mr.
Maynard. "Of course we are, in a way, responsible for our children's
deeds, and there's a possibility that some of those letters could make
trouble for us. But I think it's all right now. The next thing is to
choke off the children before they go any further. What _do_ you suppose
possessed them to cut up such a trick?"

"What possesses them to get into one sort of mischief after another, as
fast as they can go?"

"Well, this isn't really mischief, is it? They meant well, you know. But
I'll reserve judgment until after I talk with my young hopefuls."

The two men separated at the corner, and Mr. Maynard went directly to
his own home.

He found Mrs. Maynard and the three older children in the living-room,
variously engaged with books or games.

"Well," he said, as he entered the room. "I'd like an immediate
interview with The Village Imps."

Each of the three gave a start of surprise.

"What do you mean, Father?" cried Marjorie.

"Why, if you belong to an Imp Society you must be Imps; aren't you?"

"Who told you about it?" asked Kitty, disappointedly. "It was to be a
secret, until all the town was stirred up."

"The town is pretty well stirred up now, my girl. But I don't want
reports of my children's doings from other people. Tell me all about it,
yourselves."

"We will, Father," said Marjorie, evidently glad of the chance. "You
tell, King; you're president."

Nothing loath, King began the tale. He gave a full account of their
desire to do something that would be a public benefit of some sort. He
told of Dick's suggestion, founded upon Mr. Fulton's remarks about a
Village Improvement Society. He explained that they wrote letters
because they hadn't money enough for any more expensive proceeding, and
he wound up by proudly stating that they had mailed sixteen letters
already, and hoped to send more the following week.

So earnest was the boy in his description of the work, and so honest his
pride in their efforts so far, that Mr. Maynard deeply regretted the
necessity of changing his view of the matter.

"Kingdon," he said, "you're fourteen years old, and I think you're old
enough to know that you ought not to engage in such important affairs
without getting the advice of older people."

"Oh, Father!" cried Marjorie. "Was this wrong, too? Is _everything_
mischief? Can't we do anything at all without we have to be punished for
it? We thought this was truly a good work, and we thought we were doing
our duty!"

Like a little whirlwind, Marjorie flew across the room, and threw
herself, sobbing, into her father's arms.

"My dear child," he said, kissing her hot little brow, "wait a moment
till I explain. We want to talk over this matter, and get each other's
ideas about it."

"But you're going to say it was wrong,--I know you are! And I was trying
so hard _not_ to do naughty things. Oh, Father, how can I tell what I
can do, and what I can't?"

"There, there, Midget, now stop crying. You're not going to be punished;
you don't deserve to be. What you did was not wrong in itself,--at least
it would not have been for older people. But you children are ignorant
of the ways of the grown-up world, and so you ought not to have taken
the responsibility of dictating to or advising grown people. That was
the wrong part."

"But we meant it for their good, sir, more than for our own," said King,
by way of justification.

"That's just it, Kingdon, my boy. You're too young yet to know what _is_
for the good of grown men and women who are old enough to be your
parents and grandparents. You wouldn't think of dictating to your mother
or myself 'for our good,' would you? And all grown people ought to be
equally free from your unasked advice."

"But, Father," insisted King, "if you kept this place looking like a
rubbish-heap, wouldn't I have a right to ask you not to?"

"You'd have only the right of our relationship. A child has many
privileges with his parents that he hasn't with any one else in the
world. But to come right down to the facts: the letters that you wrote
were ill-advised, arrogant, and impertinent."

Kitty looked frankly bewildered at these big Words, Marjorie buried her
face on her father's shoulder in a renewed burst of tears, while Kingdon
flushed a deep red all over his honest, boyish face.

"I'm sorry, Father," he said; "we didn't mean them to be, and we didn't
think they were. We thought they were straightforward and
business-like."

"That shows your ignorance, my son. Until you have been in business, you
cannot really know what grown men and women consider business-like. I
can tell you John Kellogg and Tom Bolton didn't consider them
masterpieces of business-like literature."

"How do you know?" said Marjorie, lifting her wet face from its
hiding-place.

"I saw them, dearie; both the men and the letters, at the post-office
to-night. There were many others,--a dozen or more,--and they were, one
and all, extremely angry at the letters they had received. Mr. Fulton
and I were both there, and, when we were told that the letters were the
work of our children, we could scarcely believe it."

"And we thought you'd be so proud of us," said Kitty, in such a dejected
voice that Mrs. Maynard caught up the little girl and held her in her
arms.

Of course, this was the first Mrs. Maynard had heard of the whole
affair, but, as Mr. Maynard was conducting the discussion, she said
little.

"What ought we to have done, Father?" said King, who was beginning to
see that they had done wrong.

"When you first thought of the plan, my son, you should have realized
that it concerned grown people entirely; and that, therefore, before you
children undertook its responsibilities you should confer with your
mother or me. Surely you see that point?"

"Yes, sir," said the boy.

"When your plans include only children, and are not disobedience to
rules either actual and implied, then you are usually free to do pretty
much as you like."

"But we thought this would do the town good."

"That was a worthy sentiment, and a true one, too. But the matter of a
town improvement is not a matter for children to attend to, _unless_
they are working under the direction of older people. Had I advised you
to write these letters, which, of course, I never should have done, for
you are not the proper ones to write them, but had I done so, I would
have shown you how to word them that they might not offend.
Inexperienced letter-writers cannot expect to write a sort of letter
which requires special delicacy, tact, and graciousness."

"Father," said Marjorie, solemnly, "I'm never going to do anything
again, but go to school and eat my meals and go to bed. Anything else I
ever do is wrong."

"Now, Mopsy Midget, don't talk nonsense. You're twelve years old. You've
a lot to learn before you're a grown-up, and most of it must be learned
by experience. If you never do anything, you'll never get any
experience, and at twenty you'll only know as much as you did at twelve!
How would you like that?"

"Not much," said Marjorie, whose spirits rose as her father adopted a
lighter tone.

"Then just go on and have your experiences. Cut up jinks and have all
the fun you can; but try to learn as you go along to discriminate
between the things you ought to do and the things you oughtn't. You
won't always guess right, but if you keep on living you can always guess
again."

"What did those men say?" asked King, who was brooding over the scene in
the post-office.

"Oh! they were pretty mad at first, and I think they were quite ready to
come after you children with tomahawks and war-whoops. But Mr. Fulton
and I patted them fondly on the shoulder, and told them you were
harmless lunatics and they mustn't mind you."

"We're not crazy, Father," said Kitty, who was inclined to be literal.

"No, Kitsie, you're not; and I don't want you to drive me crazy, either.
You're three of the most delightful children I ever met, and whenever I
can pull you out of your scrapes I'm only too glad to do so. I may as
well tell you at once that Mr. Fulton and I fixed up this Imp Society
matter very satisfactorily; and if you don't start in to lay a new
asphalt road, or build a cathedral, I think I can keep up with you."

"How did you fix it, Father?" asked Marjorie, brightening with renewed
interest, as she learned that the trouble was over.

"Oh! I told the gentlemen who were most interested that if they didn't
like the way my children improved this village that they'd better do the
improving themselves. And they said they would."

"Really, Father?"

"Really, King. So now you're all well out of it, and I want you to stay
out. Unless they ask for your assistance, later on; and I doubt if
they'll do that, for between you and me they don't seem to approve of
your methods."

"I think it was dreadful for the children to write those letters," said
Mrs. Maynard. "And I don't think, Ed, that you've quite explained to
them how very wrong it was."

"Perhaps not," said Mr. Maynard, "but can't we leave that part of the
subject till some other time? For my part, I'm quite exhausted scolding
these young reprobates, and I'd like a change to smiles instead of
tears. And somehow I have a growing conviction that they'll never do it
again. Will you, chickabiddies?"

"No, sir!" came in a hearty chorus.

"Of course they won't," said Mrs. Maynard, laughing. "It will be some
other ridiculous freak. But I'll be glad to drop the subject for the
present, too, and have a pleasant half-hour before it's bedtime for
babes."

"And aren't we to be punished?" asked Marjorie, in surprise.

"Not exactly punished," said her father, smiling at her. "I think I
shall give you a severe scolding every night for a week, and then see if
you're not little paragons of perfection, every one of you."

"I'm not afraid of your scolding," said Marjorie, contentedly cuddling
close to her father; "but I thought maybe--perhaps--you'd want us to
apologize to those people who were so angry."

"I did that for you, dearie. What's the use of having a father if he
can't get you out of a scrape now and then? And now let's roast some
chestnuts, and pop some corn, and have all sorts of fun."



CHAPTER XVI

ROSY POSY'S CHOICE


It was time to decide the momentous question of where the next Ourday
should be spent.

Already it was Wednesday, and on Saturday the Maynards would have their
November Ourday. It was Rosy Posy's turn to choose, but as her
selections were usually either vague or impossible, the other children
were not backward in offering suggestions to help the little one out.

This time, however, Rosamond was quite positive in her opinion.

When her father asked her where she wanted to go for a day's outing, she
at once responded, "To Bongzoo."

"To Bongzoo!" exclaimed Mr. Maynard. "Where in the world is that? Or
what is it? It sounds as though it might be either French or Choctaw."

"Ess," said Rosy Posy, "we'll all go to Bongzoo; me an' muvver, an' all
of us, an' Daddy, too."

"And how do we get there, Baby? Walk, ride, or swim?"

"I don' know," said Rosy Posy. "But Marjorie knows. She told me to say
'Go to Bongzoo,' so I said it."

Then the laugh was on Marjorie.

"Oho!" said Mr. Maynard. "So Mopsy's been electioneering all right. Out
with it, Midge. What does Baby mean by Bongzoo?"

"She means the Bronx Zoo," said Marjorie. "I thought we'd all like to
see the animals there. But it isn't my turn to choose, so I told Rosy
Posy to choose that."

"An' I do!" declared the child, stoutly. "I choose Bongzoo, an' I wants
to go there."

"I think it's a fine place to go," said Mr. Maynard. "What made you
think of it, Midge?"

"One of the girls at school went there some time ago, and she told us
all about it; and, oh, Father, it's beautiful! All lions and tigers and
waterlilies and Florida trees!"

"I doubt if the waterlilies are in bloom just now, but I'm sure the
tigers are flourishing. Well, I'm for the Zoo. Will you go, Mother?"

"Yes, indeed," said Mrs. Maynard; "I don't want to miss such a
fine-sounding Ourday as that."

"I think it's great!" declared King. "Bob Carson says the birds are
wonderful, and the alligators walk around on the grass."

"Oh!" cried Kitty, "then I don't want to go. I wouldn't meet an
alligator for anything!"

"They have their own grass plat, Kitsie," said her father. "They don't
trespass on the grass reserved for visitors."

So the Ourday was unanimously settled, and, as that sort of a trip
involved little preparation, there was nothing to do but hope for
pleasant weather.

"Though if it rains," said Marjorie, comfortably, "Father will fix up
something nice for us in the house."

But Saturday turned out to be a lovely day, and the Maynard family took
an early train for New York City, in order to make their stay at the Zoo
as long as possible.

They did not invite any other guests, as Mr. and Mrs. Maynard thought
their own four children responsibility enough.

The young people greatly enjoyed the journey in the train, and across
the ferry, and then Rosy Posy asked that they might go in what she
called the "Cellarway." She meant the Subway, and, as this was a quick
way to reach Bronx Park, Mr. Maynard consented. The children were of
enthusiastic natures, and inclined to be conversational, but the noise
of the Subway trains drowned their voices, and, for once, they were
obliged to be silent. But when they reached their destination, and
entered the beautiful park, their tongues were loosed again, and they
kept up a running fire of chatter.

Rosy Posy trotted along by her mother's side, King and Kitty walked
together, and Midget pretended to walk by her father's side, but really
danced back and forth from one to another. They visited the Botanical
Park first, and as the early November day was clear and cold, they were
not sorry to step into the warm greenhouses.

Marjorie specially liked the great jungles of Florida and other
southern vegetation. The banyan trees and giant palms reached up to the
high ceiling, and the luxuriant foliage and brilliant blossoms made
northern plants seem dwarfed beside them. It was an instructive
experience, as well as an entertaining one, for Mr. Maynard called the
children's attention to the printed names on the plants, and, though
they could not remember all of them, they learned a great many.

"It's fun to study botany this way," said Marjorie, as her father showed
her the strange Mexican cacti, and told her about the deserts where they
grow.

King nearly scared Kitty out of her wits by pretending there was a great
snake writhing among the dark-leaved reeds, but almost immediately she
discovered it was only a rubber hose, and she laughed with the rest.

There were many greenhouses, but after they had been through most of
them, Mr. Maynard proposed that they have an early luncheon, and then go
to see the animals.

So they went to the picturesque restaurant, and the six travellers
suddenly discovered they were both tired and hungry.

"But an hour's rest and some good food will make us all over anew," said
Mr. Maynard, "and then we'll be quite ready to call on the lions and the
tigers."

"Is this Bongzoo?" asked Rosy Posy, after she had been comfortably
placed in a high chair almost like her own at home.

"Well, this is the place where they feed the animals," said her father,
"and as you're a little kitten, I suppose you'll have some milk?"

"Milk, an' meat, an' 'tatoes, an' pie, an' evvyfing," announced Rosy
Posy, folding her chubby hands to await contentedly the filling of her
comprehensive order.

Being an Ourday the children were allowed to select whatever they chose
from the _menu_, their parents, however, reserving the right of veto.

"I want roast beef," said Kitty, after scanning the more elaborate, but
unfamiliar, names.

"Oh, pshaw, Kit," said her brother, "you can have that at home! Why
don't you take something different? It's more of a treat. I choose
Supreme of Chicken."

"I don't like soup," said Kitty, innocently, and then they all laughed.

"I think I'll have lobster salad," announced Marjorie, after long study.

"I think you won't," said her father, promptly. "Nobody's to be ill this
afternoon, and that's a risky dish for little folks. Try again, sister."

Marjorie cheerfully made another perusal of the bill of fare, and at
last declared in favor of chicken hash.

This was willingly allowed, and when Kitty decided on an omelette with
jelly, her choice was also commended. Mrs. Maynard added a few wise
selections, which were for the good of all concerned, and each chose a
favorite ice-cream.

"Oh, what a good time we're having!" said Marjorie. "I do love to eat at
a restaurant."

"It is pleasant once in a while," said her father. "But for daily food,
give me my own family table."

"Yes, indeed," agreed Marjorie; "I wouldn't like to _live_ in a
restaurant."

After luncheon they visited the great "rocking-stone." The immense
rock, weighing many tons, was poised on a tiny base, and it almost
seemed as if Rosy Posy might push it over, so unstable did it look.

But indeed she couldn't, nor any of the others, though it was said that
a pressure of fifty pounds could make the great stone rock on its base.

"And now," said Mr. Maynard, "we're really getting into the Zoo part of
our day. This, Rosy Posy, is your Bongzoo, and first of all here are the
bears."

Delightedly all the children viewed the bears. The great creatures
seemed so mild and gentle, and played with one another in such kittenish
fashion, that even Rosy Posy felt no fear of them. There were various
species, from the big grizzlies to the little brown cinnamon bears, and
all waddled about in a state of comfortable fatness, or lay in the sun
and slept peacefully.

The lions and tigers were far less placid. They stalked up and down
their small cages, and now and then growled or roared as if very weary
of their long and solitary confinement.

"He wants to come out," said Rosy Posy, of a particularly big and
ferocious-looking lion. "Let him out, Father, he wants to play wiv us."

"Oh! I think I'd better not, Baby. He might run away and forget to come
back."

"No," insisted the child; "I'll put my arms round him, an' make him stay
wiv me."

"We won't have time now, Rosy Posy," said King. "We're going on now to
see the panthers and wolves. Come along with brother."

So the child slipped her little hand in King's, and they led the family
procession for a while.

The monkeys were a great source of amusement, and Rosy Posy thought some
of the chimpanzees were little old men, they chattered so glibly.

But the birds proved a delight to all.

"Oh!" cried Marjorie. "Will you look at those red and blue parrots!"

"Parrakeets," corrected Mr. Maynard. "And fine ones, too. And how
beautiful are the white ones with yellow topknots."

They studied, with some care, the names and homes of the birds, and
learned to distinguish the toucans and orioles and other beautiful,
bright-colored species.

Then on to the big, wise-eyed owls, who blinked and winked at them in a
sleepy sort of a way.

The eagles came next, and all were proud of the National bird, as they
viewed the fine specimens on exhibition. The bald eagle and the white
eagle were favorites, and the vultures and condors were disliked by all.

An interesting structure was an immense cage, which was larger than any
house, and entirely open to view. They walked round all four sides of
it, and were enchanted with its beautiful occupants pants. Storks and
flamingoes stood about, on one leg, motionless, as if absorbed in deep
contemplation. Pelicans, with their strange bills, and ducks of most
brilliant plumage waddled around and seemed to be entirely interested in
their eager audience.

In another enclosure, cranes and adjutant birds flapped their great
wings, and made long, hopping jumps, and then stood still, as if posing
for their pictures.

Marjorie proved herself specially quick in picking out each bird, from
its descriptive placard, and she learned the names, both English and
Latin, of many of them.

"You don't mind going to school this way, do you. Midget?" asked her
father.

"Not a bit! I love it. If I could learn all my lessons out of doors, and
with you to help teach me, I'd be willing to study all the time."

"Well, we must come here again some day," said Mr. Maynard, "and see if
you remember all these jawbreaker names. Now, let's visit the beavers."

The beaver pond was a strange sight, indeed. Originally there had been
many tall trees standing in the swampy enclosure, but now nearly all of
them lay flat in the water. The little busy beavers had gnawed around
and into the trunks, near the ground, until the tree toppled and fell
over.

"Why do they do it, Father?" asked King, greatly interested.

"They want to make bridges across the water," answered Mr. Maynard. "It
shows a wonderful sagacity, for they gnaw the trunk of the tree, at
first such a place, and in just such a way, that the tree will fall
exactly in the direction they want it to."

"They must scamper to get out of the way when a tree is about to fall,"
observed Mrs. Maynard.

"Indeed, they do," said her husband. "They are very clever, and most
patient and untiring workers. See, the trunks they have gnawed have been
protected by wire netting that visitors may see them. And some of the
standing trees are protected near the ground by wire netting that they
may not be upset at present."

"Now I know my beaver lesson," said Marjorie; "let's go on. Father, I
think I'll change that piece I spoke in school to 'How doth the busy
little beaver,' instead of bee!"

"They're equally busy creatures, my dear. You may take a lesson from
either or both."

"No, thank you. I don't want to work _all_ the time. I'll be a butterfly
sometimes, 'specially on Ourdays."

Marjorie jumped and fluttered about more like a grasshopper than
anything else, and, swinging by her father's hand, they passed on to the
deer ranges.

Here were all sorts of deer, and the gentle, timid-eyed creatures came
tamely to the railings or nettings and made friends with the visitors.

"It would be fun to feed them," said Mr. Maynard, "but it's strictly
forbidden, so we can only talk to them, and hope that they understand.
And now, my infants, the sun is travelling homeward, and I think we'll
take our next lesson from him. Would you rather have some sandwiches and
ice-cream now, or wait until you get home, to refresh yourselves?"

"Now, now, now!" chorused the whole party.

"Do you know, I thought you'd say that," said Mr. Maynard. "So suppose
we go into this pleasant-looking tea-room, and have a social hour."

"This makes twice for ice-cream, to-day," observed Kitty, as she
lovingly ate her favorite dainty. "And do we have it to-night for
dinner, Mother?"

"Of course. Always on an Ourday night."

"Oh, how lovely! Three times in one day."

"Kitty," said her mother, smiling, "I believe your highest ambition is
ice-cream."

"Yes, it is," said Kitty, complacently; "or else huckleberry pie."

After the ice-cream, there was the trip home. But the children were not
tired, and enjoyed thoroughly the ride, which was more of a treat to
them than to their parents.

The Subway was fun, the ferryboat ride a delight, and after they were in
the train on the New Jersey side, they coaxed the conductor to turn two
seats to face each other. Then the quartette occupied these, and
chattered gaily over the events of the day.

"Isn't it lovely," said Marjorie, as they at last entered their own
front door, "to think we've had such a good time, and yet Ourday isn't
over yet?"

"I know it," said Kitty. "And 'tis specially lovely for me, 'cause I can
stay up to dinner, and dress up, and everything."

Ourdays always wound up with an extra good dinner, and a touch of gala
costume in honor of the occasion. Then after dinner the evening was
devoted to games or stories or fun of some sort, in which Mr. Maynard
was the ringleader. Other evenings he was not to be disturbed, unless he
chose, but Ourday evenings he belonged to the children, and willingly
did whatever they asked him to.

But at nine o'clock the Ourday was over, and the children trooped off to
bed, invariably repeating the same old story, "Now this has _really_
been the very best Ourday we _ever_ had!"



CHAPTER XVII

A SUBSTITUTE GUEST


Thanksgiving Day came late that year. The red-lettered Thursday on the
calendar didn't appear until the last part of the month. But winter had
set in early, and already there was fine coasting and skating.

Marjorie loved all out-of-door sports, and the jolly afternoons spent on
the hill or on the lake sent her home with cheeks as rosy as a hard,
sound, winter apple.

The Thanksgiving season always meant festivity of some sort. Sometimes
they all went to Grandma Sherwood's in orthodox traditional fashion, and
sometimes they went to Grandma Maynard's, who lived in New York.

But this year Mr. and Mrs. Maynard expected friends of their own, some
grown-ups from the city, to spend the holiday.

"No children!" exclaimed Marjorie, when she heard about it.

"No, Midge," said her mother. "You must help me entertain my guests this
time, as I sometimes help you entertain yours."

"Indeed you do, you sweetest mother in all the world!" cried impetuous
Midget, as she flung herself into her mother's arms. Midget's embraces
were of the strenuous order, and, though Mrs. Maynard never warded them
off, she was often obliged to brace herself for the sudden impact.

"And I'll help you a heap," went on Marjorie. "What can I do? May I make
Indian pudding with raisins in it?"

Midge was just having a spell of learning to cook, and good-natured
Ellen had taught her a few simple dishes, of which Indian pudding was
the favorite.

"No thank you, dearie. As it is a festival occasion, I think we'll have
something a little more elaborate than that. You can help me better by
trying to behave decorously, and by keeping the other children quiet
when they are in the drawing-room. Mr. and Mrs. Crawford have never had
any children, and they don't like noise and confusion."

"You're more used to it, aren't you, Mother?" said Marjorie, again
springing to give her mother one of her spasmodic embraces, and
incidentally upsetting that long-suffering lady's work-basket.

"I have to be if I live with my whirlwind of an eldest daughter," said
Mrs. Maynard, when she could get her breath once more.

"Yes'm. And I'm awful sorry I upset your basket, but now I'll just dump
it out entirely, and clear it up from the beginning; shall I?"

"Yes, do; it always looks so nice after you put it in order."

And so it did, for Marjorie was methodical in details, and she arranged
the little reels of silk, and put the needles tidily in their cushion,
until the basket was in fine order.

"There," she said, admiring her own work, "don't you touch that, Mother,
until after Thanksgiving Day; and then it will be all in order for Mrs.
Crawford to see. When is she coming?"

"They'll arrive Wednesday night and stay over until Friday morning. You
may help me make the guest-rooms fresh and pretty for them."

"Yes; I'll stick pins in the cushions to make the letters of their
names. Shall I?"

"Well, no; I don't believe I care for that particular fancy. But I'll
show you how I do like the pins put in, and you may do it for me. Now,
run out and play, we'll have ample time for our housekeeping affairs
later on."

Away went Marjorie, after bestowing another tumultuous bear-hug on her
mother. She whisked on her hat and coat, and with her mittens still in
her hand, flew out of the door, banging it after her.

"Cold weather always goes to that child's muscles," thought Mrs.
Maynard, as she heard the noise. "She never bangs doors in summer time."

"Wherever have you been?" cried the others, as Marjorie joined them on
the hill.

"Talking to Mother. I meant to come out right away after school, but I
forgot about it."

Gladys Fulton looked at her curiously. She wasn't "intimate" with her
mother, as Marjorie was, and she didn't quite understand the
relationship.

In another minute Midge was on her sled, and, with one red-mittened
hand waving on high, was whizzing down the hill.

King caught up to her, and the others followed, and then they all walked
back up the hill together.

"Going to have fun, Thanksgiving Day?" asked Dick Fulton, as they
climbed along.

"No. We're going to have a silly old Thanksgiving," said Marjorie. "Only
grown-ups to visit us, and that means we don't have any good of Father
at all."

"Aw, horrid!" said King. "Is that the programme? I didn't know it."

"Yes!" went on Marjorie, "and I've promised Mother to behave myself and
to make all you others behave, too." Her own eyes danced, as she said
this, and King burst into laughter.

"That's a good one!" he cried. "Why, it will take the whole Maynard
family to make you behave yourself, let alone the rest of us."

"No, truly, I'm going to be good, 'cause Mother asked me most
'specially." Marjorie's earnest air was convincing, but King was
skeptical.

"You mean to be good, all right," he said, "but at the party you'll do
some crazy thing without thinking."

"Very likely," said Mopsy, cheerfully, and then they all slid down hill
again.

The day before Thanksgiving Day everything was in readiness for the
guests.

Mr. Maynard had come home early, and the whole family were in the
drawing-room to await the arrival.

This, in itself, was depressing, for to be dressed up and sitting in
state at four o'clock in the afternoon is unusual, and, therefore,
uncomfortable.

Marjorie had a new frock, of the material that Kitty called "Alberta
Ross." It was very pretty, being white, trimmed here and there with
knots of scarlet velvet, and Midget was greatly pleased with it, though
she looked longingly out of the window, and thought of her red cloth
play-dress and her shining skates.

However, she had promised to be good, and she looked as demure as St.
Cecilia, as she sat quietly on the sofa with an eye on the behavior of
her younger sisters.

Kitty and Rosy Posy, both in freshly-laundered, white muslin frocks,
also sat demurely, with folded hands, while King, rather restlessly,
moved about the room, now and then looking from the window.

"You children get on my nerves!" said Mr. Maynard, at last. "I begin to
think you're not my own brood at all. Is it necessary, Mother, to have
this solemn stillness, just because we expect some friends to see us?"

Mrs. Maynard smiled.

"These children," she said, "have no idea of moderation. It _isn't_
necessary for them to sit like wax-works, but if they didn't they'd be
turning somersaults, or upsetting tables,--though, of course, they
wouldn't mean to."

"I daresay you're right," said Mr. Maynard, with a sigh, "and I do want
them to behave like civilized beings, when our friends come."

"There they are, now!" cried King, as the doorbell was heard. "But I
don't see any carriage," he added, looking from the window. In a moment
Sarah appeared with a telegram for Mrs. Maynard.

"They are delayed," said that lady, prophetically, "and won't arrive
till the next train." But this she said while she was opening the
envelope. As she read the message, her face fell, and she exclaimed,
"Oh, they're not coming at all."

"Not coming?" said Mr. Maynard, taking the yellow paper.

"No; Mrs. Crawford's sister is ill, and she can't leave her. Oh, I'm so
disappointed!"

"It is too bad, my dear; I'm very sorry for you. I wish they could have
let you know sooner."

"Yes, I wish so, too. Then we could have gone out to Grandma Sherwood's
for the day."

"Is it too late for that?" asked Marjorie, eagerly. "Can't we get ready,
and fly off in a hurry?"

"_You_ could," said her father, smiling. "And probably we all could. But
Grandma Sherwood couldn't get ready for six starving savages in such
short order. Moreover, I fancy Mother has a larder full of good things
here that must be eaten by somebody. What shall we do, Helen?"

"I don't know, Ed. I'll leave it to you. Plan anything you like."

"Then I'll leave it to the children. Speak up, friends. Who would you
like to ask to eat Thanksgiving dinner with you?"

The children considered.

"It ought to be somebody from out of town," said Marjorie. "That makes
it seem more like a special party."

"I'll tell you!" exclaimed Kitty. "Let's ask Molly Moss."

"Just the one!" cried Marjorie. "How'd you come to think of her, Kit?
But I 'most know her people won't let her come, and there isn't time,
anyway."

"There's time enough," said Mr. Maynard. "I'll call them up on the
long-distance telephone now. Then if Molly can come, they can put her on
the train to-morrow morning, and we'll meet her here. But I doubt if her
mother will spare her on Thanksgiving Day."

However, to Mr. Maynard's surprise, Mrs. Moss consented to let Molly go,
and as a neighbor was going on the early morning train, and could look
after her, the matter was easily arranged.

Marjorie was in transports of glee.

"I'm truly sorry, Mother," she said, "that you can't have your own
company, but, as you can't, I'm so glad Molly is coming. Now, that fixes
to-morrow, but what can we do to-day to have fun?"

"I think it's King's turn," said Mr. Maynard. "Let him invite somebody
to dine with us to-night."

"That's easy," said Kingdon. "I choose Dick and Gladys. We can telephone
for them right away."

"They don't seem much like company," said Marjorie, "but I'd rather have
them than anybody else I know of."

"Then it's all right," said Mrs. Maynard, "and, as they're not formal
company, you'd better all change those partified clothes for something
you can romp about in."

"Yes, let's do that," said Kitty. "I can't have fun in dress-up things."

And so it was an informal lot of children who gathered about the
dinner-table, instead of the guests who had been expected.

But Mr. Maynard exerted himself quite as much to be entertaining as if
he had had grown-up companions, and the party was a merry one indeed.

After dinner the young people were sent to the playroom, as the elders
were expecting callers.

"Tell me about Molly Moss," said Gladys to Marjorie. "What sort of a
girl is she?"

"Crazy," said Marjorie, promptly. "You never knew anybody, Glad, who
could get up such plays and games as she does. And she gets into
terrible mischief, too. She's going to stay several days, and we'll have
lots of fun while she's here. At Grandma's last summer, we played
together nearly all the time. You'll like her, I know. And she'll like
_you_, of course. We'll all have fun together."

Gladys was somewhat reassured, but she had a touch of jealousy in her
nature, and, as she was really Marjorie's most intimate friend, she
resented a little bit the coming of this stranger.

"She sounds fine," was Dick's comment, as he heard about Molly. "We'll
give her the time of her life. Can she skate, Mops?"

"Oh, I guess so. I only knew her last summer, but I'm sure she can do
anything."

When Molly arrived the next morning, she flew into the house like a
small and well-wrapped-up cyclone. She threw her muff in one direction,
and her gloves in another, and made a mad dash for Marjorie.

Then, remembering her manners, she spoke politely to Mrs. Maynard.

"How do you do?" she said; "it was very kind of you to invite me here,
and I hope you won't make me any trouble. There! Mother told me to say
that, and I've been studying it all the way, for fear I'd forget it."

Mrs. Maynard smiled, for Molly was entirely unaware of the mistake she
had made in her mother's message, and the other children had not noticed
it, either.

"We're glad to have you with us, my dear," Mrs. Maynard replied; "and I
hope you'll enjoy yourself and have a real good time."

"Yes'm," said Molly, "I always do."

Then the children ran away to play out-of-doors until dinner-time.

"It's so queer to be here," said Molly, who had never before been away
from home alone.

"It's queer to have you, but it's nice," said Marjorie. "Which do you
like best, summer or winter?"

"Both!" declared Molly. "Whichever one it is, I like that one; don't
you?"

"Yes, I s'pose so. But I like winter best. There's so much to do. Why,
Molly, I'm busy every minute. Of course, school takes most of the time,
so I have to crowd all the fun into the afternoons and Saturdays."

"Oh, is this your hill?" exclaimed Molly, as they reached their favorite
coasting-ground. "What a little one! Why, the hills at home are twice as
long as this."

"I know it," said Mopsy, apologetically; "but this is the longest one
here. Won't it do?"

"Oh, yes," said Molly, who did not mean to be unpleasantly critical, but
who was merely surprised. "But you have to be going up and down all the
time."

"We do," agreed King. "But it's fun. And, anyway, you have to go up and
down all the time if it's a longer hill, don't you?"

"So you do," admitted Molly, "but it seems different."

However, after a few journeys up and down, she declared the hill was a
first-rate coaster, and she liked it better than a long one, because it
was easier to walk up.

They all liked Molly. Gladys concluded she was a welcome addition to
their crowd, and both Kingdon and Dick thought her a jolly girl.

She was daring,--sometimes a little too much so,--but she was
good-natured, and very kind and pleasant.

"Don't you ever hitch on?" she asked, as they all trudged up hill.

"What's that mean?" asked Gladys.

"Why, hitch on behind sleighs. Or big wagon-sleds."

"With horses?"

"Yes, of course. It's lots of fun. Come on, let's try it."

Out to the road they went, and waited for a passing sleigh. Soon Mr.
Abercrombie's turnout came by.

This gentleman was one of the richest men in Rockwell, and very
dignified and exclusive. Indeed, he was a bit surly, and not very well
liked by his fellow townsmen. But he had a fine sleigh and a magnificent
pair of horses, which were driven by a coachman in a brave livery and
fur cape.

"Please give us a hitch," called out Molly, as the glittering equipage
drew near.

"Bless my soul!" exclaimed Mr. Abercrombie, as he looked at the child.

Molly was always elf-like in appearance, but the wind had reddened her
cheeks, and blown wisps of her straight black hair about her face,
until she looked crazier than ever.

The big sleigh had stopped, and Mr. Abercrombie glared at the group of
children.

"What did you say?" he demanded, and Molly repeated her request.

Marjorie was a little shocked at the performance, but she thought
loyalty to her guest required that she should stand by her, so she
stepped to Molly's side and took hold of her hand.

The two surprised boys were about to enter a protest, when Mr.
Abercrombie smiled a little grimly, and said:

"Yes, indeed. That's what I'm out for. Martin, fasten these sleds on
behind somehow."

The obedient footman left his place, and, though the order must have
been an unusual one, he showed no sign of surprise.

"Yes, sir," he said, touching his hat. "Beg pardon, sir, but what shall
I fasten them to, sir?"

"I said fasten them to this sleigh! If there isn't any way to do it,
invent one. Fasten one sled, and then that can hold the next one, all
the way along. Blockhead!"

"Yes, sir; very good, sir." And, touching his hat again, the
unperturbed footman went to work. How he did it, they never knew, for
the sleigh had not been constructed for the purpose of "giving a hitch"
to children's sleds, but somehow the ingenious Martin attached a sled
securely to the back of the big sleigh. Molly took her seat thereon, and
then another sled was easily fastened to the back of hers. And so on,
until all were arranged.

Then the footman calmly returned to his own place, the coachman touched
up the horses, the bells jingled gaily, and they were off!

Such a ride as they had! It was ever so much more fun than riding in the
sleigh, and though the boys, who were at the end of the line of sleds,
fell off occasionally, they floundered on again, and were all right
until they turned another sharp corner.

"Thank you, _very_ much, mister," said Molly, heartily, as they neared
the Maynard home; "we're going to leave you now."

Again the sleigh stopped, the dignified footman came and released the
sleds, and, after a chorus of thanks from the merry children, Mr.
Abercrombie drove away in his solitary splendor.

"You beat the Dutch, Molly!" cried King. "I never should have dreamed of
asking Lord Abercrombie, as people call him, to give us a ride."

"I think he liked it as well as we did," said Molly.

"I think so, too," said Marjorie, "and I hope some day he'll take us
again."



CHAPTER XVIII

THANKSGIVING DAY


The Thanksgiving Dinner was a jollification.

The Maynard children were always a merry crowd, but the added element of
Molly's gaiety gave a new zest to the fun.

The pretty table decorations, planned for the expected guests, were
modified better to suit the children's tastes, and when dinner was
announced and they all went out to the dining-room, a general shout of
applause was raised.

In the middle of the table was a large "horn of plenty," fashioned of
gilded pasteboard. From its capacious mouth were tumbling oranges,
apples, bananas, grapes, nuts, figs, and raisins. The horn itself was
beautifully decorated, and seemed to be suspended from the chandelier
above by red ribbons.

Also, red ribbons, starting from the horn itself, led to each person's
plate, and at the end of each ribbon was a name-card.

Gleefully the children took their places, and laughed merrily at the
funny little souvenirs that stood at their plates.

Kingdon had a jolly pig, made of a lemon, with wooden toothpicks stuck
in for legs, a curly tail made of a bit of celery, and two black-headed
pins for eyes.

Marjorie had a horse made of a carrot, which looked like a very frisky
steed, indeed.

"It should have been made of a horse-radish," said Mr. Maynard, who was
the originator of these toys, "but I feared that would make you weep
instead of laugh."

Molly had a gay-looking figure, whose head was a fig, his body a potato,
and his legs and arms bunches of raisins. He wore a red fez with a
feather in it, and a red tunic tied with gold braid.

Kitty had a nut doll, whose head was a hazelnut, and its body an English
walnut. Its feet and hands were peanuts, stuck on the ends of matches.

Rosy Posy had a card on which were several white mice. These were made
of blanched almonds, fastened to the card by stitches of thread, which
looked like tiny legs and tails.

Mrs. Maynard found at her place a tiny figure of a dancing girl. The
head was a small white grape, and the body and ruffled skirts were
merely a large carnation turned upside down.

And Mr. Maynard's own souvenir was a funny old fat man, whose body was
an apple, and his head a hickory nut.

Molly had never seen such toys before, and she was enraptured with them,
declaring she should learn to make them for her friends at home.

"You can do it, if you try," said Marjorie, sagely; "but they aren't
easy to make. Father does them so beautifully, because he is patient and
careful. But you and I, Molly, are too slapdash. We'd never take pains
to make them so neatly."

"Yes, I would," declared Molly, positively; "because I see how nice they
look when they're done well! I don't want any broken-legged pigs, or
tumble-to-pieces dolls."

"That's the way to talk," said Mr. Maynard, approvingly; "I foresee,
Molly, we shall be great friends, and I'll teach you the noble art of
what I call 'pantry sculpture.'"

After the turkey and other substantial dishes had been disposed of,
dessert was brought, and, to the great delight of the children, it
comprised many and various confections.

First, there was placed at each plate a dear little mince pie, hot, and
covered with a drift of powdered sugar. In the middle of each pie stood
a lighted candle.

"Oh, ho, it's somebody's birthday!" cried King, as he saw the candles.

"Somebody's only one year old, then," said Molly.

"These aren't birthday candles exactly," said Mr. Maynard. "They're just
candles to keep the pies hot. But as I want to eat my pie, I'll just eat
the candle first, and get it out of the way."

So saying, he calmly blew out the flame, and in a moment had eaten the
candle, wick and all!

"Oh, Father!" cried Marjorie. "How could you do that? Do you like wax
candles?"

"These candles aren't exactly wax," said her father, "and I must say
mine tasted very good."

Molly's bright black eyes snapped.

"If Mr. Maynard can eat candles, so can I!" she declared, and, blowing
out the flame, she bit off the end of her own candle.

"It _is_ good," she said, as she munched it. "I like candles, too."

So then they all tried eating candles. Marjorie tasted hers carefully,
and then took a larger bite.

"Why, it's apple!" she cried. And so it was. The "candles" had been cut
with an apple-corer, and the "wicks" were bits of almond cut the right
shape and stuck in the top of the candle. The oil in the nut causes it
to burn for a few moments, and the whole affair looks just like a real
candle.

The mince pies were followed by ice-cream, and that by fruits and
candies, and then the feast was over, but every one carried away the
jolly little souvenirs to keep as mementoes of the occasion. Skating was
the order of the afternoon.

Mr. Maynard went with the older children, while Mrs. Maynard and Rosy
Posy amused themselves at home.

Kitty couldn't skate very well, but all the others were fairly good
skaters, and soon they were gliding over the ice, while Mr. Maynard
pushed Kitty in a sliding chair. She thought she had the most fun of
all, but the others preferred their own feet to a chair, and skated
tirelessly around the lake, not at all dismayed by somewhat frequent
upsets and tumbledowns.

The Fultons joined them, and several others, and Molly soon made
acquaintance with many of the Maynards' friends.

Molly was such a daring child that Mr. Maynard carefully warned her
about going near the thin places in the ice, and she promised to avoid
them. But it was with some uneasiness he watched the young skaters,
when, at Molly's suggestion, they played "Snap the Whip."

This meant to join hands in a long row, and, after skating rapidly, the
one at the end stood still and swung the others round like the lash of a
whip. No trouble was likely to occur if they held hands firmly. But to
separate meant that the end ones would be whirled away, and might get a
bad fall.

As the boys were strong and sturdy, and the girls had promised to hold
on tightly and carefully, Mr. Maynard let them play this game, though he
had always thought it a dangerous sport.

"Just once more," begged Marjorie, when at last he told them he would
rather they'd play something else--and permission was given for one more
"Snap the Whip," on condition that it should be the last. And it was.

Marjorie was on one end, and Molly was next to her.

Kingdon was at the other end, and, after a few vigorous strokes, he
pulled the line about so suddenly that Molly, who was not expecting it
so soon, was jerked away from her next neighbor.

She and Marjorie were flung with force across the ice, but they were
quite alert, kept their balance perfectly, and would have been skating
back again in a minute, but they chanced upon a thin place in the ice,
and it broke through, and in they went!

Many of the children screamed, but Molly's voice rang out clear above
the rest:

"Don't yell so! We're all right, only it's awful cold. Just get us out
as quick as you can."

Relieved to learn that they hadn't gone under the water, Mr. Maynard
soon found a fence-rail, and, with the boys' assistance, it was not long
before the dripping girls were once more outside the lake, instead of
inside.

"No harm done, if you obey my orders," said Mr. Maynard, cheerily, for
the two white faces looked more scared than they had at first. He
hurriedly took off their skates, and then said, "Now, run for home, just
as fast as you can go, and the one who gets there first shall have a
prize."

A little bewildered by this order, but quite ready to obey, Marjorie
started at once and fairly flew over the hard ground. Molly followed,
and in a moment had overtaken and passed Midget. But spurred by this,
Midget ran faster, and at last, quite out of breath, and also quite
warm, they reached the Maynard house at almost exactly the same time.

Exhausted, they tumbled in at the door, and Mrs. Maynard met them in the
hall.

"What _is_ the matter?" she exclaimed. "Where _have_ you been?"

"Skating," said Marjorie, hurriedly, "and we fell in, and Father said
to run home quick and get dry shoes and things and he'd give us a
prize."

"A prize!" said Mrs. Maynard, laughing. "You deserve a prize, indeed! A
hot bath is what you'll get, and a drink of hot milk."

"All right," said Mopsy, cheerfully, "I don't mind; and, while we're
about it, we may as well dress for afternoon."

The programme was carried out as arranged, and not very long after two
spick-and-span little girls were sitting by the library fire, sipping
hot milk with nutmeg in it.

"Well, upon my word!" said Mr. Maynard, coming in with King and Kitty.
"I must have been mistaken! Only a short time ago I saw two children
floundering in the lake, and I thought--I truly did--that they were
Midge and Molly! How could I have made such a foolish mistake?"

"It was strange, indeed!" said Molly, with twinkling eyes. "Have you
been skating, Mr. Maynard?"

"Part of the time. But the rest of the time I was organizing and
assisting a rescue party to save those foolish children I was just
telling you of."

"We were foolish!" cried Marjorie, jumping up and running to her
father's arms. "I'll never do it again, Daddy, dear."

"Indeed you won't, my lady. I hereby issue a mandamus, a fiat, a
writ,--and if you don't know what those things are, I'll say a plain
every-day rule that is not to be broken,--that you are never to play
'Snap the Whip' again. This is a rule for Marjorie, and to you, Molly,
it's a piece of advice."

"I'll take it," said Molly, so meekly that Mr. Maynard smiled, and said:

"Now that incident is closed, and we needn't mention it again. I don't
believe you'll even take cold from your sudden plunge, for you both ran
home like killdeer. And, by the way, who won the prize?"

"We came in almost exactly together," said Marjorie. "I was a little bit
ahead at the door, but Molly was first at the gate, so isn't that even?"

"It surely is, and so you must both have prizes. I haven't them with me
at the moment, but I'll engage to supply them before Molly goes home."

Thanksgiving evening was given over to games and quiet frolics.

Mrs. Maynard said the children had had enough excitement for one day,
and they must play only sitting-still games, and then go to bed early.
So Mr. Maynard proposed a game in which all could join, and when it was
finished it would be bedtime for young people.

He produced a large spool, through which had been run a number of
different colored and very narrow ribbons. Mr. Maynard held the spool,
with the short ends of the ribbons hanging out toward himself, while the
long ends of the ribbons, which reached across the room were apportioned
one to each child.

They were allowed to select their own colors, and Marjorie took red, and
Molly pink. Kitty had the blue one, and King a yellow one. Mrs. Maynard
held a white one, and as Rosamond had gone to bed, no more ribbons were
used, though there were others in the spool.

"Now," said Mr. Maynard, "I'll begin to tell a story, make it up as I go
along, you know, and then when I stop I'll pull one of these ends. I
won't look to see which one I pull, but whoever holds the other end of
the same ribbon, must take up the story and go on with it. Do you
understand?"

"Yes," said all the children at once; so Mr. Maynard began:

"Once on a time there was a Princess who hadn't any name. The reason for
this sad state of affairs was that no one could think of a name good
enough for her. She was so beautiful and so lovely and sweet-tempered
that every name seemed commonplace, and the King and Queen who were her
parents offered a great reward to any one who would suggest a name that
seemed appropriate. But, though they proposed every name that was known,
and made up a great many more, none seemed to suit, and so the Princess
grew up without any name at all. But one day her grandmother gave her a
lovely little writing-desk for a birthday present. The Princess was
delighted, and immediately she learned to write letters. But, strange to
say, she never received any answers to the letters she sent. Days
passed, and weeks passed, but nobody answered the letters. She went to
the Court Wise Man, and said to him:

"'Prithee, tell me, oh, Seer, why do my friends not answer the letters I
have sent them?'

"'Oh, Princess!' said the Court Wise Man, 'it is because you have no
name, and, though they have already written letters to you, they know
not how to address them. For how can one address a letter to a nameless
person?'

"'How, indeed!' cried the Princess. 'But I will have a name. I will
choose one for myself.'

"So she sat down, and thought deeply for a long time, and then she
jumped up, saying:

"'I have chosen a name! I shall henceforth be called----'"

Mr. Maynard made a dramatic pause, and then pulled quickly on one of the
ends of ribbon that hung from his side of the spool.



CHAPTER XIX

A SPOOL OF YARNS


Mr. Maynard pulled the ribbon of which Kitty held the other end, and the
little girl jumped as she felt the ribbon move in her hand. But Kitty
was usually ready for an emergency.

"Violetta Evangeline," she said. "The Princess thought that was the most
beautiful name in the world, and I think so, too. Well, then, her
father, the King, had the news sent all through the kingdom that his
daughter was named at last, and then everybody sent her letters. She had
bags and bags full of mail every day, and they had to put on an extra
postman. And she had valentines in the mail, and catalogues, and
birthday presents, and samples of dresses, and seeds for flowers,
and,--and magazines, and,--and,--and one day a little live kitten came
to her in the mail, and she was _so_ pleased. So she named the kitten
Toodle-Doo, and wherever she went she took the kitten with her. And one
day she went off on a long journey, and of course Toodle-Doo went with
her. And as they went along,--and went along----"

Just here Mr. Maynard pulled another ribbon, and Molly gave a startled
jump.

So Kitty stopped, and Molly took up the story:

"They went along," said she, dropping her voice to a tragic whisper, "on
a dark and lonely road. And a great pirate jumped out at them, and
cried, 'What, ho! The password?' And Violetta Evangeline didn't know the
password, but she guessed at it, and she guessed, 'Crackers and Cheese,'
and, as it happened, she guessed just right, and they let her go
through."

"Through what?" asked King, greatly interested.

"Oh! I don't know," returned Molly, carelessly; "through the gate, I
s'pose, into the enchanted garden. So she went in, and everything
enchanted happened all at once. She was turned into a fairy, and the
kitten was turned into a canary bird, and he roosted on the fairy's
shoulder, and then he began to sing. And then the enchantment turned him
into a music-box, and so Violetta Evangeline didn't have any kitten or
any bird or anybody to play with. But just then the Fairy Prince came
along, and he said he'd play with her. And he said she could play with
his toys. So she went to see them, and they were all made of gold and
jewels. His tops were of gold, and his kites were of gold all set with
rubies and diamonds."

"Huh," said King, "they couldn't fly!"

"These kites could," said Molly, quite undisturbed, "because they were
enchanted kites, and that made the diamonds as light as feathers."

But just then Marjorie's ribbon twitched. She had been waiting for it,
and she picked up the story where Molly left off.

"The kites were so _very_ light," said Midge, "that one of them flew
away entirely. And as Violetta Angeline was hanging on to its string,
she was carried along with it, and in a jiffy she was over the wall and
outside of the enchanted garden, so then she wasn't enchanted any more,
but she was just a Princess again. So she walked forth, and sought
adventures. And her first adventure was with a dragon. He was an awful
big dragon, and flames of fire came out of his mouth and his ears and
his toes. But the Princess wasn't afraid of him, and as there was a big
hydrant near by, she turned it on him and put the flames out. Then he
wailed, and wept, and he said: 'Oh, Violetta Angelina, I have a woe! Oh,
oh, I have a woe!' And as she was a kind Princess, she said, 'Tell me
what your woe is, and perhaps I can help you.' So the Dragon said----"

Here Kingdon's ribbon pulled, and, though taken somewhat unawares, the
boy tried to jump right into the story-telling, and he said:

"'Yes, yes, my dear,' said the Dragon, 'I have a woe, and it's this:
everybody laughs at me because I cannot climb a tree!' 'Is that all?'
asked the Princess, in surprise; 'why, I will teach you to climb a
tree.' 'Oh, if you only would!' exclaimed the Dragon. So the Princess
taught him to climb a tree, and they all lived happy ever after."

King brought his story to an abrupt close, because his mother had begun
to look at the clock, and to intimate by sundry nods and gestures that
it was bedtime.

"But Mother hasn't told any of the story yet," said Kitty, who was
herself so sleepy she could scarcely listen even to the tale of her own
Violetta Evangeline.

"Mother's story must wait till some other time," said Mrs. Maynard.
"This is the time for everybody of fourteen years or less to skip-hop up
to bed."

So away trooped the children, glad to have learned a new game, and
carefully putting away for future use the spool with the ribbons through
it.

"But the ribbons don't really make any difference," said Molly, as they
went upstairs. "You could just as well _say_ whose turn comes next."

"But it's so much prettier," argued Marjorie; "and it makes it seem so
much more like a game."

"What's the name of the game?"

"I don't know; let's make up one."

"All right; Spool Stories,--no, Spool Yarn."

"A Spool of Yarns!" cried Marjorie, clapping her hands. "That's the very
thing!"

And so "A Spool of Yarns" became one of their favorite games, and was
often played in the evenings or on stormy days.

The rest of Molly's visit passed all too quickly, and Marjorie was sad
indeed the day her friend returned home.

But Mrs. Maynard bore the blow bravely.

"She's a dear little girl," she said, after Molly had gone; "but she
_is_ a lively one. In fact, she's a regular Maynard, and four young
Maynards are just about all I can stand in the house permanently."

"Weren't we good, Mother?" asked Marjorie, anxiously.

"Yes, dear, you were good enough. Really, you didn't get into much
mischief; but I suppose you've no idea how much noise you made."

"No'm, I haven't," said Marjorie. "And now I guess I'll go skating."

"Very well, Midge; but remember what Father told you about 'Snap the
Whip.'"

"Oh, yes, indeed, Mother. I can never forget that, 'cause I have my
prize, you know."

True to his word to give them both prizes, Mr. Maynard had brought the
girls each a dainty silver bangle, from which hung a tiny pair of
skates. This, he said, was to remind them of the dangerous game, and of
their really narrow escape on Thanksgiving Day.

Later that afternoon Marjorie came home from her skating in a great
state of excitement.

"Oh, Mother," she said; "Miss Merington has asked me to be at her table
at the Bazaar! Won't that be lovely?"

"Miss Merington! What does she want of a little girl like you?"

"Oh, she wants me to help her! Just afternoons, you know; not evenings.
She's going to have two or three girls to help her. Miss Frost asked
Gladys to be with her. You see, it's this way. Haven't you heard about
the Alphabet of Booths?"

"No; what does that mean?"

"Well, I'll tell you. You see, the whole big Bazaar is going to be
divided up into twenty-six booths. Each one is a letter--A, B, C, you
know. Then everybody who takes charge of the booth begins with that
letter, and sells those things."

"What things?"

"Why, Mother, like this. The A booth is in charge of Mrs. Andrews, and
she sells apples and andirons, and,--and anything that begins with A."

"Then I should think she could sell 'anything,'" said Mrs. Maynard,
laughing.

"Oh, Mother, that's lovely and witty. I'll tell Mrs. Andrews that. Well,
and then Mrs. Burns has the B booth, and she sells beads and books and
baskets and whatever begins with B."

"Oh, yes, I understand. And it's very clever. And so Miss Merington
invited you to help her?"

"Yes, and Miss Frost invited Gladys, because Fulton begins with F. But,
Mother, I can't think of a thing to sell that begins with M. Something
that I can make, I mean. I can only think of melons and mantelpieces."

"How about mats?"

"Oh, yes, I can make mats. Crochet them, you mean? Will you show me
how?"

"Yes, and mops, too; you can make mops, or buy them, either. I suppose
they expect you to contribute some articles to be sold. I'll make some
for you, too. I'll make you a lovely big, soft melon cushion, a head
rest, you know. And, oh, Mopsy! I'll give you some mixed pickles, some
of those good ones that Ellen puts up. They'll sell well, I know."

"Oh, goody, Mother; I'll have a lot of things to give them, won't I? And
Miss Merington will be so pleased. She's a lovely lady."

"Yes, she's a charming girl, and I'm glad to have you help her. Perhaps
Father can think up some things for you that begin with M."

This was a good suggestion, and that very evening Midget put the
question:

"Father, what begins with M that you could sell?"

"Why, Mopsy Midget Maynard, I could sell you, but I doubt if I could get
a big enough price. You're a pretty valuable piece of property."

"Yes, but don't joke, Daddy. I mean really, in earnest, for the Bazaar,
you know."

"Oh, yes, I've heard about that wonderful Bazaar. Well, let me see. Are
you allowed to have any sort of wares if they begin with the right
letter?"

"Yes, I think so. Mother thought of mats and mops."

"That's a good start. How are you to get these things? Do you donate
them all to the Bazaar?"

"Yes; or Miss Merington said we could ask people to give us things, but
I don't like to do that."

"No; not from strangers, of course. But I'm sure Mr. Gordon will be glad
to give you some toys or notions out of his store. He's such an old
friend of mine, I wouldn't mind your asking him. And then I think Uncle
Steve would send you a few trinkets, or Grandma Sherwood might. But most
of your contributions I think we'll get up here at home. Now, let's be
methodical, because that begins with M, and first we'll make some
lists."

Marjorie was greatly interested, and flew for a pad and pencil, and then
waited for her father to make his lists.

"I declare, Midget," he said, at last, "this is harder than I thought. I
can't think of a thing but mahogany bureaus and marble mantles."

"How about marbles, Father? I mean the kind you play marbles with."

"That's good, Midge. Mr. Gordon will give you those. I don't want you to
ask any one else, but Tom Gordon told me he would give a lot of things
to the Bazaar, and he said for you to go down there and pick out what
you want."

"Oh, that will be lovely! Now, let's think what else he has."

"Yes, that's the way to get at it. In a shop like his, with all sorts of
stationery and toys and knick-knacks, there ought to be lots of M's.
Well, doubtless he'll give you some music,--sheet-music, you know; and
perhaps some magazines. Oh, and memorandum-books. You can always sell
those to business men. Then he has maps, too; pocket-maps, or even
larger ones. And I think that's all you ought to expect from him."

"Yes, that's enough. Now, what can I make myself?"

"I daresay Mother finished the list when she said mats and mops. I don't
know of anything else, unless it's mantillas."

"What are they?"

"Don't you know? Well, it is an old-fashioned word. They're ladies'
cloaks, mantles, you know."

"Oh, Father, I could make some for dolls!"

"Yes, that's good; if you can sew well enough."

"Mother will help me with the hard parts. But, really, they will be
lovely. All the little girls will buy them. Now, can't I make something
else?"

"Why, yes; make candy! Marshmallows,--I'll teach you how; you know I'm a
famous candy-maker. But I don't know any other sort,--unless we say
mint-drops. Would that do?"

"Oh, yes. And I can make mottoes. Any kind of candy, you know, done up
in motto-papers."

"That's a fine idea! We'll all make a lot of home-made candy, and help
you wrap it the night before the show. Then your nice, fresh mottoes
will go off like hot cakes."

"Yes, indeed. And Ellen is going to give me some jars of her good mixed
pickles."

"Oh, Ellen can help you a lot. Ask her to make you some mince pies and
marmalade, and macaroons."

"Goody! Goody! I can have a regular food sale, all of M's! Why, it's a
lovely letter, after all. I'm glad it's mine."

"How are they going to manage the Q and X and Z?"

"I think they're going to leave out X and Z. But Q is to be a table full
of queer things. Indian curiosities, and such things. Miss Merington
told me about it. Gladys is going to be with Miss Frost. She's going to
make fudge, and paper fairies. And her father is going to give her a lot
of fans,--Japanese ones,--and Dick is going to cut her out some fretwork
things with his scroll-saw."

"Well, I think the ladies will have very helpful little assistants. I'll
bring you a budget of things from the city, and we'll all have a bee to
make candy for you."

The bee was great fun. The day before the Bazaar, Mr. Maynard brought
home all sorts of goodies to make the candies with. He came home early
that they might begin in the afternoon.

All the Maynard family went to work, and Ellen and Sarah helped some,
too.

They made all sorts of candies that could be formed with the right shape
and size for mottoes.

Rosy Posy, who loved to cut paper, snipped away at the sheets of printed
verses, and really helped by cutting the couplets apart, all ready to be
tucked into the papers with the candies.

The result of their labors was a big box of lovely-looking "mottoes,"
all neatly twisted into fringed or scalloped papers of bright colors.

King proposed that Midget should have a restaurant at the Bazaar, and
serve macaroni, and mackerel, muskmelons, and milk.

But Mr. Maynard said he feared that would necessitate medicine and
medical attendance.



CHAPTER XX

THE CHARITY BAZAAR


The Bazaar opened Thursday afternoon, and was to continue the rest of
the week. As it was for a public charity, the whole town was interested,
and the Town Hall, where the Bazaar was held, was gaily decorated for
the occasion.

Marjorie was allowed to stay home from school, and in the morning she
went over to the hall to take her contributions and to help Miss
Merington arrange the booth.

Uncle Steve had responded nobly to Marjorie's letter asking him to send
her some M things. A box came to her by express, and in it were some
Indian beaded moccasins that were unique and beautiful. Then there were
several pocket mirrors and hand mirrors; half a dozen mousetraps; a
package of matches; some funny masks, and a plaster cast of "Mercury."

There was also a large wicker thing shaped like the arc of a circle. At
first Marjorie didn't know the name of this, though she had seen them
used to protect carriage wheels.

"Why, it's a mudguard!" cried Mr. Maynard. "How clever of old Steve!"

Also in the box were some mufflers, which Grandma Sherwood had made by
neatly hemming large squares of silk.

Mr. Maynard had brought Marjorie some inexpensive pieces of jewelry,
which, he told her, were Florentine mosaics, and so, with all her M's,
the little girl had a fine lot of wares to contribute.

James took them over to the hall for her, and Miss Merington was greatly
pleased.

"You're a worth-while assistant," said the young lady, as she bustled
about, arranging her pretty booth.

True to the spirit of the plan, Miss Merington had made her booth of
mauve-colored tissue-paper, and decorated it with morning-glories, also
made of paper, of delicate violet shades.

It was one of the prettiest booths in the room, and Marjorie was glad
she belonged to it.

"Now, Moppet," said Miss Merington, "what are you going to wear this
afternoon? I have a beautiful mauve costume, but I suppose you haven't.
And as I don't want you to be a jarring note, I'm going to ask you not
to wear any red or blue. Can't you wear all white?"

"My frock is white, Miss Merington," said Marjorie; and then she added,
laughing, "and it's muslin, so I suppose that's all right. And Mother
bought me a mauve sash and hair-ribbon and silk stockings, all to match.
And I've white slippers. Will that do?"

"Do! I should think it would. You'll be sweet in mauve and white. Now,
I'll tell you your duties. You must just look pleasant and smiling, so
that people will want to come to our booth to buy things. Then when they
come, you may tell them the prices of things if they ask you, but don't
ask them to buy. I hate people at fairs who insist on everybody's buying
their goods. Don't you?"

Marjorie felt quite important at being consulted on this matter, and she
hastened to agree with Miss Merington.

"Yes," she said. "But you won't have to ask the people to buy; I think
they'll want to come here, because this is the prettiest booth in the
whole room."

"I'm glad you think so. But Miss Frost's booth is lovely. All made of
cotton-wool snow, and tinsel ice."

"Oh, it's beautiful. My friend Gladys Fulton belongs there, and Daisy
Ferris, too. I thought you were going to have more assistants, Miss
Merington. Am I the only one?"

"Yes; to tell you the truth, I didn't know of any other nice little girl
whose name began with M. You don't mind, do you, dear?"

"Oh, no, indeed! I'm glad to be here alone with you. And I'll do all I
can to help."

"I'm sure you will. But now there's nothing more for you to do this
morning, so skip along home and get a good rest; then be back here
promptly at three o'clock this afternoon with all your mauve millinery
on."

"I don't wear a hat, Miss Merington!" exclaimed Midge, in dismay.

"Of course not. I said millinery, meaning your ribbons and finery. I
used the word because it begins with M. Do you know, Marjorie, I fairly
_think_ in words beginning with M!"

"Oh, is that it?" said Marjorie, laughing. "Well, good-morning
Mademoiselle Merington!"

"You're a clever little thing," said Miss Merington; "and now run along
home to Mother Maynard's mansion."

Marjorie laughed at this sally, and started for home. But at Miss
Frost's booth she found Gladys, and the two walked around the hall,
looking at the other booths. They were very interesting, for each lady
in charge had endeavored to get all the novel ideas possible for which
her special initial could be used.

X, Y, and Z had been declared impossible, but some clever girls had
concluded it would be a pity to omit them, and said that they would
combine the three in one booth. For X, which, they said, always
represented "an unknown quantity," they had prepared some express
packages. These contained merchandise of some sort, and had been sent
through the express office, in order to give the proper appearance of
expressed parcels. They were for sale at a price that was fair for their
contents, and people were asked to buy them unopened, thus purchasing
"an unknown quantity." Then there were yeast-cakes for sale; and toy
yachts, marked "For Sail"; and yellow things of any kind; and zephyr
garments, such as shawls and sacques and slippers.

This booth was very attractive, and was draped with yellow cheesecloth,
with black X's and Y's and Z's all over it.

In order to make a variety, the R booth was a restaurant, the L booth
served lemonade, and the C booth, candy and cakes.

"Isn't it fun?" said Marjorie to Gladys, as at last they started
homeward. "What are you going to wear, Glad? I don't know of any color
that begins with F."

"No," said Gladys. "Miss Frost says there's nothing but fawn-color, and
that won't do. So we're all to wear white, with lots of _frills_. And
we're to have feathers on our heads instead of ribbon bows, and we're to
carry feather fans. I wish I was in your booth, Midget."

"Yes, I wish so, too; but of course we couldn't be in the same. But
Father's coming at six to take us all to supper in the restaurant booth.
Perhaps we can get together then."

"Yes, I hope we can. I'll ask Mother about it."

The girls parted at Gladys' gate, and Marjorie went on home to luncheon.

"It's perfectly lovely, Mother!" she cried, as she entered the house. "I
never saw such a beautiful fair."

"That's good, girlie; and now you must eat your luncheon and then lie
down for a little rest before you go this afternoon."

"Oh, Mother Maynard! Why, I'm not a bit tired. You must think I'm an old
lady."

Mrs. Maynard smiled at the bright face and dancing eyes, which certainly
showed no trace of weariness.

But after luncheon she said: "Now, Midget, you must go to your room, and
lie down for half an hour. Close your eyes, and rest even if you do not
sleep."

Midget drew a long sigh, and walked slowly off to obey. She lay down on
her own little white bed, but though she managed to close her eyes for
nearly half a minute, they then flew wide open.

"Mother!" she called out. "I can't keep my eyes shut, unless I pin them.
Shall I do that?"

"Don't be foolish, Marjorie," called back Mrs. Maynard, from her own
room. "Go to sleep."

"But, Mother, I can't go to sleep. I'm as wide-awake as a--a weasel.
Mother, what time are you going to the fair?"

"At four o'clock. Now, be quiet, Marjorie, and don't ask any more
questions."

"No'm. But, Mother, mayn't I get up now? I've been here nearly six or
seven hours."

"It isn't six or seven minutes, yet. You must stay there half an hour,
so you may as well make your mind up to it."

"Yes'm; I've made up my mind. But I think this clock has stopped. It
hasn't moved but a teenty, taunty speck in all these hours. What time is
it by your clock, Mother?"

"Marjorie! You'll drive me distracted! Will you be still?"

"Yes'm, if you'll let me come in your room. May I, Mother? I'll just lie
still on your couch, and I won't speak. I'll just look at you. You know
you're so pretty, Mother."

Mrs. Maynard stifled a laugh.

"Come on, then," she called. "I simply can't yell like this any longer."

"I should think not," said Marjorie, as she appeared in her mother's
doorway. "My throat's exhausted, too."

"Now, remember," said Mrs. Maynard, "you said you'd be quiet in here.
Lie down on the couch, and put the afghan over you, and go to sleep."

"I'll lie down on the couch,--so," said Marjorie, suiting the action to
the word; "and I'll put the afghan over me,--so; but I can't go to
sleep--because I can't."

"Well, shut your eyes, and try to go to sleep; and, at any rate, stop
talking."

"Yes'm; I'll try." Marjorie squeezed her eyes tightly shut, and in a
moment she began to talk in a droning voice. "I'm asleep now, Mother,
thank you. I'm having a lovely nap. I'm just talking in my sleep, you
know. Nobody can help that, can they?"

"No; but they can't expect to be answered. So, talk in your sleep if you
choose, but keep your eyes shut."

"Oh, dear, that's the hardest part! Oh, Mother, I've such a good idea!
Mayn't I begin to dress while I'm asleep? Just put on my slippers and
stockings, you know. It would be such a help toward dressing to have
that done. May I,--Mother? Mother, may I?"

"Marjorie, you are incorrigible! Get up, do, and go for your bath, now.
And if you're ready too early, you'll have to sit still and not move
until it's time to go."

"Oh, Mother, what a dear, sweet mother you are!"

With a bound, Marjorie was off of the couch and tumbling into her
mother's arms.

Mrs. Maynard well understood the impatient young nature, and said no
more about a nap.

But at last the time came for Marjorie to start, and very sweet and
dainty she looked in her mauve and white costume. She had never worn
that color before, as it isn't usually considered appropriate for little
girls, but it proved becoming, and her dancing eyes and rosy cheeks
brightened up an effect otherwise too demure for a twelve-year-old
child.

Gladys was waiting at her own gate, and off they went to the hall.

Of course, the customers hadn't yet arrived, but soon after Marjorie had
taken her place inside the booth, the people began to flock to the
fair.

Miss Merington looked lovely in a violet crêpe-de-chine gown, which just
suited her exquisite complexion and golden hair.

She greeted Marjorie as a companion and fellow-worker, and Midge
resolved to do her best to please the lovely lady. Somehow there seemed
to be a great deal to do. As the afternoon wore on the M booth had a
great many customers, and Miss Merington was kept so busy that Marjorie
had to be on the alert to assist her. She made change; she answered the
customers' questions; and sometimes she had to go to the department of
supplies for wrapping paper, string, and such things. She was very
happy, for Marjorie dearly loved a bustle of excitement, and the Bazaar
was a gay place.

After a time old Mr. Abercrombie came to the M booth. Marjorie hadn't
forgotten the day they rode behind his sleigh, and she wondered if he
would buy anything from her.

He looked at her quizzically through his big glasses, and said:

"Well, well, little girl, and what have you for sale? Old gentlemen like
myself are fond of sweet things, you know. Have you any sweet cakes?"

"Yes, sir," said Marjorie, and as Miss Merington was occupied with other
customers she felt justified in trying to make a sale herself.

"Yes, sir; we have these very nice cocoanut macaroons."

"Ah, yes; and how do you know they're nice? You must never make a
statement unless you're sure."

"Oh, but I am sure," said Marjorie, very earnestly. "Ellen, our cook,
made them, and she's a very superior cook. I know she is, because my
mother says so. And, besides, I know these are good because I've had
some of them myself."

"You've proved your case," said the old gentleman. "But now I'll catch
you! I'll buy your whole stock of macaroons if----"

"If what, sir?" said Marjorie, breathlessly, for his suggestion meant a
large sale, indeed.

"If you can spell macaroons," was the unexpected reply.

"Oh!" Marjorie gave a little gasp of dismay, for she had never had the
word in her spelling lessons, and she didn't remember ever seeing it in
print.

"May I think a minute?" she asked.

"Yes," said Mr. Abercrombie, taking out his watch; "but just a minute,
no more."

This embarrassed Marjorie a little, but she was determined to win if
possible, so she set her wits to work.

It was confusing, for she was uncertain whether to say double c or
double r, or whether both those letters were single. Then, like a flash,
came to her mind the way her father had taught her to spell _macaroni_.
The words _might_ not be alike, but more likely they were, so before the
minute had elapsed, she said, bravely:

"M-a-c-a-r-double o-n-s."

"Good for you!" cried Mr. Abercrombie. "You're a smart little girl, and
a good speller. I'll take all the macaroons you have."

Greatly elated, Marjorie referred the sale to Miss Merington, and that
lady was very much pleased when Mr. Abercrombie gave her a good-sized
banknote, and declined to take any change.

"For the good of the cause," he said, waiving away the proffered change.

"And now," their eccentric customer went on, "I've just a little more
money to spend at this booth, for I've promised one or two other
friends to buy some of their wares. But, Miss Rosycheeks, I'll tell you
what I'll do."

He looked at Marjorie so teasingly that she felt sure he was going to
ask her to spell something else, and this time she feared she would
fail.

"I'll do this," proceeded Mr. Abercrombie: "I'll buy anything for sale
at this booth that our young friend, the paragon speller, can _not_
spell!"

Marjorie's eyes sparkled. She wasn't really a "paragon speller," and she
felt sure there must be something that was beyond her knowledge. But,
somehow, all the things seemed to have simple names. Any one could spell
mittens and muffs and mats. And though mandolin and marmalade were
harder, yet she conscientiously realized that she could spell those
correctly.

"I don't see anything," she said, at last, slowly and regretfully.

"Then I save my money, and you save your reputation as a speller," said
Mr. Abercrombie, jocosely, as he jingled some silver in his pocket.

"Oh, wait a minute!" cried Marjorie. "There's that handsome clock! Miss
Merington said it's malachite, and I haven't the least idea how to spell
that!"

"Fairly caught!" said the old gentleman, chuckling at his own defeat. "I
see by your honest eyes that you really don't know how to spell
malachite, and it _is_ a hard word. Now, listen, and I'll teach you."

Mr. Abercrombie spelled the word, and then said:

"Would you have guessed it was spelled like that?"

"No, sir," said Midge, truthfully; "I should have thought there was a
'k' in it."

"I almost wish there had been," said the gentleman, ruefully, "then I
should not have to buy the most expensive article on your table.
However, it will look well on my library mantel, and I shall rejoice
whenever I look at it and remember that you know how to spell it."

Marjorie smiled at this idea, and the queer customer paid to Miss
Merington the rather large price that was marked on the handsome clock.

"Marjorie, you're a trump!" said she, as Mr. Abercrombie walked away.
"He's about the only one here rich enough to buy that clock, and I'm
glad he took it. This will swell our fund finely."

When it was supper-time, the Maynards and Fultons all went together to
the restaurant in the R booth. They had a merry time, and Marjorie told
the story of her "Spelling Lesson," as she called it.

"You're a born merchant, Midge," said King. "You make money by knowing
how to spell--and then you make money by not knowing!"

"But such occasions don't happen often," said Mr. Maynard. "I think
you'd better continue your spelling lessons for a few years yet. And
now, as it's time for ice-cream, I'll try your friend's plan, Midget. If
you can spell _Biscuit Tortoni_, you can have it!"

"Thank you, Father," said Marjorie, smiling; "but I'd rather have
vanilla and chocolate. They're easier to spell, and just as good to
eat."

After supper, the children had to go home. Marjorie looked back
reluctantly at the brilliant hall, even more gay since the lights were
burning, but she remembered that she could yet come two more afternoons,
so she said no word of regret.

"But I do hope," she said to her mother, as she tucked her tired little
girl into bed that night, "I do hope that when I'm a grown-up young
lady I'll be exactly like that lovely, sweet Miss Merington."

"I'm thankful to say that your grown-up-young-lady days are yet far
off," responded her mother; "but when that time comes I'll be quite
satisfied to have you the lovely, sweet Miss Maynard."



CAROLYN WELLS BOOKS

Attractively Bound. Colored Wrappers.


THE PATTY BOOKS

Patty is a lovable girl whose frank good nature and beauty lend charm to
her varied adventures. These stories are packed with excitement and
interest for girls.

    PATTY FAIRFIELD
    PATTY AT HOME
    PATTY IN THE CITY
    PATTY'S SUMMER DAYS
    PATTY IN PARIS
    PATTY'S FRIENDS
    PATTY'S PLEASURE TRIP
    PATTY'S SUCCESS
    PATTY'S MOTOR CAR
    PATTY'S BUTTERFLY DAYS
    PATTY'S SOCIAL SEASON
    PATTY'S SUITORS
    PATTY'S ROMANCE
    PATTY'S FORTUNE
    PATTY BLOSSOM


THE MARJORIE BOOKS

Marjorie is a happy little girl of twelve, up to mischief, but full of
goodness and sincerity. In her and her friends every girl reader will
see much of her own love of fun, play and adventure.

    MARJORIE'S VACATION
    MARJORIE'S BUSY DAYS
    MARJORIE'S NEW FRIEND
    MARJORIE IN COMMAND
    MARJORIE'S MAYTIME
    MARJORIE AT SEACOTE


THE TWO LITTLE WOMEN SERIES

Introducing Dorinda Fayre--a pretty blonde, sweet, serious, timid and a
little slow, and Dorothy Rose--a sparkling brunette, quick, elf-like,
high tempered, full of mischief and always getting into scrapes.

    TWO LITTLE WOMEN
    TWO LITTLE WOMEN AND TREASURE HOUSE
    TWO LITTLE WOMEN ON A HOLIDAY


THE DICK AND DOLLY BOOKS

Dick and Dolly are brother and sister, and their games, their pranks,
their joys and sorrows, are told in a manner which makes the stories
"really true" to young readers.

    DICK AND DOLLY
    DICK AND DOLLY'S ADVENTURES



THE OUTDOOR GIRLS SERIES

By LAURA LEE HOPE

Author of "The Blythe Girls Books."

Every Volume Complete in Itself.


These are the adventures of a group of bright, fun-loving, up-to-date
girls who have a common bond in their fondness for outdoor life,
camping, travel and adventure. There is excitement and humor in these
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that they seek to create among their own friends and chums.

    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS OF DEEPDALE
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT RAINBOW LAKE
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN A MOTOR CAR
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN A WINTER CAMP
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN FLORIDA
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT OCEAN VIEW
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN ARMY SERVICE
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS ON PINE ISLAND
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT THE HOSTESS HOUSE
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT BLUFF POINT
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT WILD ROSE LODGE
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN THE SADDLE
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AROUND THE CAMPFIRE
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS ON CAPE COD
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT FOAMING FALLS
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS ALONG THE COAST
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT SPRING HILL FARM
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT NEW MOON RANCH
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS ON A HIKE
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS ON A CANOE TRIP
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT CEDAR RIDGE
    THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN THE AIR



THE BLYTHE GIRLS BOOKS

By LAURA LEE HOPE

Author of The Outdoor Girls Series

Illustrated by Thelma Gooch


The Blythe Girls, three in number, were left alone in New York City.
Helen, who went in for art and music, kept the little flat uptown, while
Margy, just out of business school, obtained a position as secretary and
Rose, plain-spoken and business like, took what she called a "job" in a
department store. The experiences of these girls make fascinating
reading--life in the great metropolis is thrilling and full of strange
adventures and surprises.

    THE BLYTHE GIRLS: HELEN, MARGY AND ROSE
    THE BLYTHE GIRLS: MARGY'S QUEER INHERITANCE
    THE BLYTHE GIRLS: ROSE'S GREAT PROBLEM
    THE BLYTHE GIRLS: HELEN'S STRANGE BOARDER
    THE BLYTHE GIRLS: THREE ON A VACATION
    THE BLYTHE GIRLS: MARGY'S SECRET MISSION
    THE BLYTHE GIRLS: ROSE'S ODD DISCOVERY
    THE BLYTHE GIRLS: THE DISAPPEARANCE OF HELEN
    THE BLYTHE GIRLS: SNOWBOUND IN CAMP
    THE BLYTHE GIRLS: MARGY'S MYSTERIOUS VISITOR
    THE BLYTHE GIRLS: ROSE'S HIDDEN TALENT
    THE BLYTHE GIRLS: HELEN'S WONDERFUL MISTAKE



THE LILIAN GARIS BOOKS

Illustrated. Every Volume Complete in Itself.


Among her "fan" letters Lilian Garis receives some flattering
testimonials of her girl readers' interest in her stories. From a class
of thirty comes a vote of twenty-five naming her as their favorite
author. Perhaps it is the element of live mystery that Mrs. Garis always
builds her stories upon, or perhaps it is because the girls easily can
translate her own sincere interest in themselves from the stories. At
any rate her books prosper through the changing conditions of these
times, giving pleasure, satisfaction, and, incidentally, that tactful
word of inspiration, so important in literature for young girls. Mrs.
Garis prefers to call her books "juvenile novels" and in them romance is
never lacking.

    JUDY JORDAN
    JUDY JORDAN'S DISCOVERY
    SALLY FOR SHORT
    SALLY FOUND OUT
    A GIRL CALLED TED
    TED AND TONY, TWO GIRLS OF TODAY
    CLEO'S MISTY RAINBOW
    CLEO'S CONQUEST
    BARBARA HALE
    BARBARA HALE'S MYSTERY FRIEND
    NANCY BRANDON
    NANCY BRANDON'S MYSTERY
    CONNIE LORING
    CONNIE LORING'S GYPSY FRIEND
    JOAN: JUST GIRL
    JOAN'S GARDEN OF ADVENTURE
    GLORIA: A GIRL AND HER DAD
    GLORIA AT BOARDING SCHOOL



THE NANCY DREW MYSTERY STORIES

By CAROLYN KEENE

Illustrated. Every Volume Complete in Itself.


Here is a thrilling series of mystery stories for girls. Nancy Drew,
ingenious, alert, is the daughter of a famous criminal lawyer and she
herself is deeply interested in his mystery cases. Her interest involves
her often in some very dangerous and exciting situations.


THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK

Nancy, unaided, seeks to locate a missing will and finds herself in the
midst of adventure.


THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE

Mysterious happenings in an old stone mansion lead to an investigation
by Nancy.


THE BUNGALOW MYSTERY

Nancy has some perilous experiences around a deserted bungalow.


THE MYSTERY AT LILAC INN

Quick thinking and quick action were needed for Nancy to extricate
herself from a dangerous situation.


THE SECRET AT SHADOW RANCH

On a vacation in Arizona Nancy uncovers an old mystery and solves it.


THE SECRET OF RED GATE FARM

Nancy exposes the doings of a secret society on an isolated farm.


THE CLUE IN THE DIARY

A fascinating and exciting story of a search for a clue to a surprising
mystery.


NANCY'S MYSTERIOUS LETTER

Nancy receives a letter informing her that she is heir to a fortune.
This story tells of her search for another Nancy Drew.



THE CHILDREN'S HOUR BOOKS

Illustrated in Two Colors. Every Volume Complete in Itself.


This series of beautifully illustrated books for younger children
includes a wide range of child interests--all the way from true tales of
action to delightful stories of brownies and bunnies and fairies, and
such famous classics as "A Child's Garden of Verses."

    BOYS and GIRLS of DISCOVERY DAYS      Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
    BOYS and GIRLS of PIONEER DAYS        Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
    THE CIRCUS BOOK                         Laura Rountree Smith
    THE FAIRY BABIES                        Laura Rountree Smith
    LITTLE BEAR                             Laura Rountree Smith
    BUSY LITTLE BROWNIES                          N. Moore Banta
    THE BROWNIES and the GOBLINS       N. Banta and A. B. Benson
    TEN LITTLE BROWNIE MEN             N. Banta and A. B. Benson
    BROWNIES at WORK and PLAY                     N. Moore Banta
    THE TALE of BUNNY COTTON-TAIL           Laura Rountree Smith
    THE CIRCUS COTTON-TAILS                 Laura Rountree Smith
    THE COTTON-TAILS in TOYLAND             Laura Rountree Smith
    BUNNY BOY and GRIZZLY BEAR              Laura Rountree Smith
    THE CHILDREN of MOTHER GOOSE             Julia Darrow Cowles
    A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES            Robert Louis Stevenson
    AB, THE CAVE MAN                          William Lewis Nida



THE JUDY BOLTON MYSTERY STORIES

By MARGARET SUTTON


Here is a new series of mystery stories for girls by an author who knows
the kind of stories every girl wants to read--mystery of the "shivery"
sort, adventure that makes the nerves tingle, clever "detecting" and a
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hearts at once.


THE VANISHING SHADOW

Judy's safety is threatened by a gang of crooks who think she knows too
much about their latest "deal." She is constantly pursued by a
mysterious shadow which vanishes before she can get a glimpse of its
owner.


THE HAUNTED ATTIC

The Boltons move into a large rambling house reputed to be haunted. Even
the brave Judy who has looked forward to "spooky" goings on is
thoroughly frightened at the strange scrapings and rappings and the eery
"crying ghost."


THE INVISIBLE CHIMES

Through an automobile accident a strange girl is taken into the Bolton
household--the whole family becomes attached to her and interested in
her story. Judy tracks down many clues before she finally uncovers the
real identity of "Honey."


SEVEN STRANGE CLUES

Judy gets to the bottom of a mystery that centers around a prize poster
contest and a fire in the school building--through seven baffling clues
that hold the key to the answer.



THE POLLY SERIES

By DOROTHY WHITEHILL


This lively series for girls is about the adventures of pretty,
resourceful Polly Pendleton, a wide awake American girl who goes to
boarding school on the Hudson River, several miles above New York. By
her pluck and genial smile she soon makes a name for herself and becomes
a leader in girl activities.

Besides relating Polly's adventures at school these books tell of her
summer vacations and her experiences in many different scenes. Every
girl who loves action and excitement will want to follow Polly on her
many adventures.

    POLLY'S FIRST YEAR AT BOARDING SCHOOL
    POLLY'S SUMMER VACATION
    POLLY'S SENIOR YEAR AT BOARDING SCHOOL
    POLLY SEES THE WORLD AT WAR
    POLLY AND LOIS
    POLLY AND BOB
    POLLY'S REUNION
    POLLY'S POLLY
    POLLY AT PIXIE'S HAUNT
    POLLY'S HOUSE PARTY
    POLLY'S POLLY AT BOARDING SCHOOL
    JOYFUL ADVENTURES OF POLLY



THE JOYCE PAYTON SERIES

By DOROTHY WHITEHILL


Between the covers of these books will be found the kind of people all
girls like to meet in real life. There is Joyce Payton, known as Joy,
who has a remarkable knowledge of gypsy customs. She is a universal
favorite among girls. Then, too, there is Pam, Joy's partner in
adventure, and Gypsy Joe, the little Romany genius who has a magical
fiddle--and we mustn't forget Gloria, a city bred cousin and spoiled
darling who feels like a "cat in a strange garret" with Joy and her
friends.

    JOY AND GYPSY JOE
    JOY AND PAM
    JOY AND HER CHUMS
    JOY AND PAM AT BROOKSIDE
    JOY AND PAM A-SAILING



THE ELIZABETH ANN SERIES

By JOSEPHINE LAWRENCE


Elizabeth Ann is a charming girl who has various delightful adventures.
You first meet her when she is traveling alone on a train. Her parents
have sailed for Japan, and she is sent to visit her numerous relatives.
Of course, she meets many new friends during her travels. With some of
them she is quite happy, and with others--but that's all in the stories.
However, any difficulty she encounters is soon overcome by her clever
brain, her kindness of heart, and her absolute honesty.

Each volume in this series holds a complete story in itself.

    THE ADVENTURES OF ELIZABETH ANN
    ELIZABETH ANN AT MAPLE SPRING
    ELIZABETH ANN'S SIX COUSINS
    ELIZABETH ANN AND DORIS
    ELIZABETH ANN'S BORROWED GRANDMA
    ELIZABETH ANN'S SPRING VACATION
    ELIZABETH ANN AND UNCLE DOCTOR
    ELIZABETH ANN'S HOUSEBOAT



RUTH DARROW FLYING STORIES

By MILDRED A. WIRT


A rollicking flying series for girls, tense and startling in its unusual
turns. Every reader interested in aviation will be thrilled to follow
the strange adventures of Ruth Darrow in her racing monoplane, the
Silver Moth. Aided by her chum, Jean Harrington, and her loyal friend,
Sandy Morland, Ruth takes part in an exciting air race and solves many a
baffling mystery.

    RUTH DARROW IN THE AIR DERBY
    RUTH DARROW IN THE FIRE PATROL
    RUTH DARROW IN YUCATAN
    RUTH DARROW IN THE COAST GUARD



THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS SERIES

By GRACE BROOKS HILL


These splendid stories of the adventures of four young girls who occupy
the old corner house left to them by a rich bachelor uncle will appeal
to all young girls. They contain all the elements which delight youthful
readers--action, mystery, humor and excitement. These girls have become
the best friends of many children throughout the country.

    THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS
    THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS AT SCHOOL
    THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS UNDER CANVAS
    THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS IN A PLAY
    THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS' ODD FIND
    THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS ON A TOUR
    THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS GROWING UP
    THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS SNOWBOUND
    THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS ON A HOUSEBOAT
    THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS AMONG THE GYPSIES
    THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS ON PALM ISLAND
    THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS SOLVE A MYSTERY
    THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS FACING THE WORLD

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK


+--------------------------------------------------------------+
|Transcriber's Note:                                           |
|                                                              |
|CHAPTER XIX                                                   |
|A SPOOL OF YARNS                                              |
|                                                              |
|The Princess, named Violetta Evangeline by one character      |
|(page 265), is referred to by another character as            |
|Violetta Angeline (page 267) and Violetta Angelina (page 268).|
+--------------------------------------------------------------+





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