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Title: Dorothy Dainty at the Mountains
Author: Brooks, Amy
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.

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[Illustration: Cover]



DOROTHY DAINTY AT THE MOUNTAINS



Popular Stories.


BY AMY BROOKS.

Each beautifully illustrated by the Author.

THE RANDY BOOKS.

12mo. Cloth. Cover Designs by the Author. Price $1.00 each.

          RANDY'S SUMMER.
          RANDY'S WINTER.
          RANDY AND HER FRIENDS.
          RANDY AND PRUE.
          RANDY'S GOOD TIMES.
          RANDY'S LUCK.
          RANDY'S LOYALTY.
          RANDY'S PRINCE.



For Younger Readers.


DOROTHY DAINTY SERIES.

Large 12mo. Cloth. Cover Designs by the Author. Set in large English
type. Price $1.00 each.

          DOROTHY DAINTY.
          DOROTHY'S PLAYMATES.
          DOROTHY DAINTY AT SCHOOL.
          DOROTHY DAINTY AT THE SHORE.
          DOROTHY DAINTY IN THE CITY.
          DOROTHY DAINTY AT HOME.
          DOROTHY DAINTY'S GAY TIMES.
          DOROTHY DAINTY IN THE COUNTRY.
          DOROTHY DAINTY'S WINTER.
          DOROTHY DAINTY AT THE MOUNTAINS.
          DOROTHY DAINTY'S HOLIDAYS.
          DOROTHY DAINTY'S VACATION.
          DOROTHY DAINTY'S VISIT.
          DOROTHY DAINTY AT CRESTVILLE.


THE PRUE BOOKS.

12mo. Cloth. Cover Designs by the Author. Price $1.00 each.

          LITTLE SISTER PRUE.
          PRUE AT SCHOOL.
          PRUE'S PLAYMATES.
          PRUE'S MERRY TIMES.
          PRUE'S LITTLE FRIENDS.
          PRUE'S JOLLY WINTER.

          A JOLLY CAT TALE. Large 12mo. Cloth. Profusely Illustrated.
          Price      $1.00

[Illustration: "HERE! HERE!" CRIED DOROTHY, AND ECHO ANSWERED,
"HERE,--ERE!"--_Page 4._]



DOROTHY DAINTY AT THE MOUNTAINS

BY

AMY BROOKS

          AUTHOR OF "DOROTHY DAINTY SERIES," "THE RANDY
          BOOKS," "THE PRUE BOOKS," AND
          "A JOLLY CAT TALE"

_WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY THE AUTHOR_

[Illustration]

          BOSTON
          LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO.



          DOROTHY DAINTY
          TRADE-MARK
          Registered in U. S. Patent Office

          Published, August, 1911

          COPYRIGHT, 1911, BY LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO.

          _All Rights Reserved_

          DOROTHY DAINTY AT THE MOUNTAINS



          Norwood Press
          Berwick & Smith Co.
          Norwood, Mass., U. S. A.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                        PAGE

     I. AT THE CLEVERTON            1

    II. A DELIGHTFUL SURPRISE      21

   III. AN ENTERTAINMENT           42

    IV. IN A BIRCH ARBOR           62

     V. THE MOUNTAIN PARTY         81

    VI. THE ECHO CAPTURED         101

   VII. FLORETTA'S RETURN         122

  VIII. AT THE FAIR               141

    IX. FLOSSIE'S LETTER          162

     X. A GIFT OF WILDFLOWERS     182

    XI. ARABELLA MAKES A CALL     201

   XII. A SERENADE                222



ILLUSTRATIONS


  "Here! Here!" cried Dorothy, and echo answered,
    "Here,--ere!" (_Page 4_)                    _Frontispiece_

                                                  FACING PAGE

  Often she looked back, as she sped over the road      32

  "Oh, what a lovely, _lovely_ story!" said Dorothy     66

  With feet and hands she strove to loosen the tough,
    wiry vines                                         120

  She took a few tripping steps, smiling at her
    reflection                                         176

  She offered two cards to Floretta                    210



DOROTHY DAINTY AT THE MOUNTAINS



CHAPTER I

AT THE CLEVERTON


THE great hotel on the crest of the hill was bathed in sunlight that
poured from a rift in the clouds, as if sent for the sole purpose of
showing the grand portico, the broad piazza, and the flag that floated
gracefully on the summer breeze.

Its many windows seemed to be looking across the valley to opposite
mountain peaks, and one could easily imagine that its wide, open
doorway, smiled genially as if offering a welcome to all arriving
guests.

Two little girls ran across the lawn, the one with flaxen curls, the
other with sunny brown ringlets.

The fair-haired little girl had eyes as blue as the blue blossoms that
she held in her hand, while her playmate's eyes were soft and brown, and
told that her heart was loving and true.

The little blue-eyed girl was Dorothy Dainty, and the child who clasped
her hand was her dearest friend, Nancy Ferris.

Nancy had no parents, and a few years before Dorothy's mamma had taken
her under her care and protection, and she was being trained and
educated as carefully as was Dorothy, the little daughter of the house.

They had come to the Hotel Cleverton to spend the summer, and the first
few days of their stay, they had explored all the land that lay
immediately around the hotel, and had found many beautiful spots, but
one thing held their interest,--they loved the echo, and never tired of
awakening it.

"Come!" cried Dorothy. "Run with me over to the white birches, and we'll
shout, and listen!"

Mrs. Dainty had told them the story of Echo, the nymph, who for loving
Pan and following him and calling to him had been changed into a huge
rock on the mountainside, and forever compelled to mock each voice she
heard.

The old legend of the nymph had caught their fancy, and often they
paused in their play to shout, and listen to what seemed to them the
voice of some fairy of the mountains.

Now they stood beside the birches, Dorothy with one arm around a white
trunk, and Nancy near her. At their feet were countless bluebells,
overhead the blue sky, while across and beyond the valley rose the
mountain capped by white clouds that looked as soft as swan's-down.

"Here! Here!" cried Dorothy, and echo answered, "Here,--ere!"

"Listen!" cried Dorothy, clasping her hands, and laughing with delight.
"It answers as if it was a truly voice that heard and replied.

"Nancy, I love you!" she cried, and again they plainly heard:--

"Love you-oo!"

They thought it great fun to shout and call, and hear their cries so
cleverly repeated.

And now another child ran out from the great doorway, paused a moment as
if looking for some one, then, seeing the two little figures near the
clump of birches, stole softly near them.

On tiptoe, and with tread as soft and noiseless as a cat, she made her
way over the short grass, until she was quite near them. Then, hiding
behind a low bush, she watched them. How still she stood! For what was
she waiting? Her bold eyes were full of mischief, as she whispered, "Oh,
hurry _up_!"

Dorothy Dainty put her hands to her mouth, trumpet fashion, and called:

"Come and catch us!" and instantly the echo from the distant mountain
and a shrill voice behind them, repeated:

"Come and catch us!"

"Oh, oh-o!" cried Dorothy, and Nancy ran to her, and threw her arms
about her.

"You ought not to frighten Dorothy like that!" cried Nancy.

A saucy laugh answered her.

"Well, it isn't nice to be shrieked at, and you do it just like the
echo, you know you do, and it's enough to frighten any one," said Nancy.

The little tease was not in the least abashed. She could imitate almost
any sound that she had ever heard, and each success made her eager to
repeat her efforts at mocking.

"I made old Mrs. Hermanton fly up out of her chair, and drop her ball of
worsted and knitting-needles, when I shouted close to her ear."

"Why, Floretta!" cried Nancy.

Now you think that was horrid, but _I_ tell you it was funny. She'd just
been telling about her darling little lap-dog that died _ten years
ago_, and she got out her handkerchief to cry, and put it up to her
eyes.

"'Oh, if I only could hear his lovely bark again!' she said, and right
behind her chair, I said:

"'Ki-yi! Yip! Yip!' and she jumped up much as a foot from her seat."

Nancy laughed. How could she help it? The old lady had told every man,
woman, and child who sat upon the piazza, how much she had suffered in
the loss of the dog.

One testy old gentleman who was troubled with gout, spoke rather
plainly. "Madam," he said, "I've heard that story every day of this
week, and all I can say is, I wish you had gout in your feet as I have,
and you'd have no time to waste crying for a puppy!"

He certainly was hopelessly rude, but one must admit every day is far
too often to be forced to listen to an uninteresting tale.

Floretta stood looking down at the toe of her shoe. She moved it from
side to side along the grass for a moment, then she spoke again.

"You know old Mr. Cunningham has gout, and is awful cross?"

Dorothy and Nancy nodded. They did indeed know that.

"Well, he sat on the piazza and laughed when I scared Mrs. Hermanton, so
I want to know if he'll think it's funny _every_ time I do things. You
know he puts one foot up on a chair, and every time any one touches that
chair ever so little, he cries: '_Oh_, oh, oh!' and holds on to his
foot.

"The next time I'm near him, I'm going to make b'lieve hit my foot
against something, and then I'll cry out, just 'zactly as he does:

"'_Oh_, oh, oh!' and I'll hold on to my foot," said Floretta.

"I know it's funny," said Dorothy, "but I don't think you ought to."

"Well, _you_ needn't. P'raps you couldn't do it just like other folks,
but I _can_, and I'm going to!" said Floretta.

She was a handsome child, but her boldness marred her beauty.

She was, indeed, a clever imitator, but she had been told so too often.
Her mother constantly praised her cleverness, and unwise friends
applauded her efforts, until Floretta acquired the idea that she must,
on all occasions, mimic some one.

Sometimes those whom she mocked thought it clever, and laughed when they
had thus been held up to derision.

At other times Floretta found that she had chosen the wrong person to
mimic, and had received a sharp rebuke.

This taught her nothing, however.

She thought any one who did not enjoy her antics must be very
ill-natured, while her silly mother considered that Floretta had been
abused.

While Dorothy and Nancy were talking with Floretta, they were picking
large bouquets of bluebells and a tiny white flower that grew as
abundantly as the bluebells, and blossomed as freely.

It pleased her, for the moment, to gather some of the blossoms, and soon
the three were too busy to talk, each trying to see which could gather
the largest bouquet.

On the hotel piazza Mrs. Paxton sat, occupied with her embroidery, but
not too busy to talk. She was _never_ too busy to talk, if she could
find any one to listen.

Near her sat two ladies who had just arrived, and old Mr. Cunningham,
who frowned darkly at the magazine that he was trying to read.

It was not that the story displeased him that he frowned, but that he
was bored with hearing what Mrs. Paxton was saying, mainly because she
always said the same thing.

"You see, with our wealth and position, it is impossible that little
Floretta should ever make any use of her talents for any purpose other
than the amusement of her friends," she said.

One of the two ladies, whose fine face and sweet low voice bespoke
refinement, looked fixedly at Mrs. Paxton, and wondered that any woman
should be willing to boast so foolishly.

The other, whose garments told of a great love of display, seemed
interested, and even impressed.

"What is her especial talent?" she asked, "I really should like to know.
Is she musical?"

"O dear, yes," Mrs. Paxton hastened to reply; "she plays delightfully,
and she has a voice that is really quite unusual for a child; she
dances, too, but her greatest gift is her power of imitation. She has a
sensitive nature that is open to impressions, and she sees the funny
side of everything. She really is a wonderful little mimic. You must see
her to appreciate her charm."

The quiet woman looked as if she thought this a doubtful accomplishment,
but the one who had eagerly listened said:

"Where is she? I should be _so_ pleased to see her. Not all children are
so interesting. Many are dull."

"And lucky they are!" growled old Mr. Cunningham, under his breath, but
the ladies did not hear that.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I don't want these flowers now I've picked them," cried Floretta. "You
can have them if you want them," she said, as she turned toward Dorothy.

"I can't hold any more than I have," said Dorothy, "but you could--"

"Then here they go!" cried Floretta, as she flung them broadcast, to lie
and wilt in the sunlight.

"Oh, it was too bad to throw them away," said Dorothy. "I was going to
say, if you didn't care for them, perhaps Mrs. Hermanton might like
them. She said she liked wild flowers and used to pick them, but her
rheumatism won't let her pick them now."

"Pooh! I wouldn't have bothered to take them back to her," Floretta
replied; and turning about, she ran back to the hotel.

"Come here, Floretta!" said Mrs. Paxton. "This lady wishes to see you."

Usually Floretta when asked to do anything, preferred to do something
else.

This time, thinking that she saw an opportunity for a lark, she went
promptly and paused beside her mother's chair.

"This is Mrs. Dayne, Floretta. Mrs. Dayne, this is my little daughter."

Floretta looked up and smiled, but said nothing. She had never been
taught that she must reply courteously when spoken to.

Her pretty face pleased Mrs. Dayne, who was much the same sort of woman
that Mrs. Paxton was. She wished that Floretta could be induced to
perform.

_Induced!_ She was already wondering if she would have a chance to show
off.

The opportunity came soon, and she was delighted.

Mr. Cunningham had become drowsy, and his magazine dropped to the piazza
floor.

In stooping to recover it, he hurt his gouty foot, and cried out.

"_Oh_, oh-o!" he cried, and like an echo, "_Oh_, oh-o!" cried Floretta,
catching hold of her own foot and hopping wildly about.

Of course Mrs. Paxton laughed gaily, as if Floretta had done a very
smart thing, while Mrs. Dayne, who was as silly a woman as Mrs. Paxton,
joined in the merriment, thus hoping to gain favor with her new friend.

Mr. Cunningham, without a word, took his magazine and, limping
painfully, left the piazza, and went indoors.

Mrs. Vinton, an odd expression on her fine face, took her parasol from
the chair where it lay, and went for a walk down the path toward the
birches. She was disgusted with Mrs. Paxton, Floretta, and Mrs. Dayne,
although she felt that the little girl was least of all at fault.

She was only an untaught, untrained child, to be pitied rather than
blamed. She knew that they would think her very unkind if she did not
seem to approve of Floretta, and she could not laugh at cruelty.

The child was indeed a clever imitator, but the fact remained that it
_was_ cruel to mock an outcry caused by pain.

Dorothy and Nancy were coming toward her, on their way toward the hotel,
their hands filled with blossoms, faces bright and smiling.

They greeted her gaily, and Dorothy offered her some of the flowers.

"I'll give half to you, and half to mamma," said Dorothy. "I mean, I
will if you'd like to have them."

"It is a sweet gift, and I shall enjoy them in my room," Mrs. Vinton
said. "I have a lovely vase that is worthy to hold such beautiful
blossoms."

"I'll divide mine between Aunt Charlotte and Mrs. Hermanton," said
Nancy.

"You both like to give," said Mrs. Vinton.

"Oh, yes!" they cried together, and as she left them, Dorothy said:

"Isn't she a sweet, lovely lady?"

"Yes, and I like to hear her talk, her voice always sounds so pleasant."

Mrs. Vinton, as she walked along the little path, her flowers in her
hand, thought of Dorothy and Nancy.

"They are two dear little girls," she said, "and add to the charm of
this lovely place."

"Would you dare to give Mr. Cunningham some bluebells for his
buttonhole?" said Nancy. "I'd like to, but _I_ wouldn't dare."

"I don't know," Dorothy said. "I'd like to, too, and he 'most always has
a rosebud, but sometimes he doesn't. When we get back, if he's on the
piazza, and hasn't a bud in his buttonhole, I'll try to dare to offer
him some of these blossoms."

Dear little Dorothy! She wondered if she would be rewarded with a
frown!

Floretta and her mother were not there, neither was Mrs. Dayne, but in a
shady corner sat Mr. Cunningham.

Nancy ran in to take her flowers to Aunt Charlotte and Mrs. Hermanton.

Dorothy hesitated. She would have been even more timid, had she known
how recently he had been offended.

He looked up from his book, frowned, then smiled and nodded pleasantly.

He had thought that Floretta had returned, and was pleasantly surprised
to see Dorothy, instead.

Softly she crossed the piazza until she stood beside him.

"May I give you a few of these bluebells for your buttonhole?" she said.
"They're only wild flowers, but they're pretty ones," she added, fearing
that, after all, he might not care for them.

"Why, thank you, my dear. I surely would like them, especially as they
are offered me by a real little lady."

He placed the cluster that she offered him in his lapel, as he spoke,
and looked to Dorothy for approval.

"They are wild flowers, truly," he said, "but I think they are quite as
attractive as the buds I have been wearing," and Dorothy was glad that
she had offered them.



CHAPTER II

A DELIGHTFUL SURPRISE


THREE weeks had passed, and as nearly every day had been fair, the
guests at the Cleverton had lived out of doors, appearing at the hotel
at meal-time, and at night.

Other wild flowers beside the bluebells were blossoming gaily, peeping
up from the grass as if offering a welcome to all who looked at them;
and even great rocks and ledges held tiny blossoming plants in their
crevices.

The pony, Romeo, had come to the mountains with the family, and seemed
to enjoy the outing.

Every morning Dorothy and Nancy went for a drive, and Romeo tossed his
mane, and pranced as if to show his delight.

One morning the pony was standing at the porch, waiting for his little
mistress, who soon came running down the stairs.

Floretta was standing in the hall, spinning a top.

A sign on the wall plainly stated that children must not play in the
hall, but that did not disturb Floretta.

Deftly she wound the string, and the great top fell to the floor, where
it hummed and spun as rapidly as if a boy's hand had flung it.

She picked it up, and again wound it, this time throwing it with even
greater force.

"Look! Look!" she cried. "I b'lieve it spins faster every time I throw
it!"

Dorothy looked over the baluster at the humming top, but said nothing.

She knew that Floretta had seen the notice; indeed a number of the
children had stood in the hall when it had been tacked up.

Looking up at Dorothy, Floretta noticed the whip in her hand.

"Riding?" she asked.

"Yes, for a little while," said Dorothy. "It's a lovely morning, and I
mean to see how quickly Romeo will take me to the 'Spring.'"

"I wouldn't care to ride horseback," said Floretta, rudely.

"You won't care to spin tops in this hall if Matson catches you," cried
a shrill voice, from an upper hall.

"Pooh! I'm not afraid of Matson," Floretta said, boldly, looking up at
the boy who had tried to frighten her.

"Oh, aren't you?" said the boy in a teasing voice. "Well, he manages
this hotel, and he'll _make_ you stop if he catches you!"

"You stop, Jack Tiverton!" cried Floretta.

"You'll be the one to stop!" said Jack, with a loud laugh.

Dorothy crossed the hall, stepping around Floretta, who stood exactly in
the way.

Looking back, she saw Floretta show the tip of her tongue to Jack, while
Jack, not to be outdone, made a most outrageous face.

"I wish they weren't so horrid!" Dorothy said to herself, as she left
the hall.

Having mounted Romeo, with the groom's aid, she rode off down the
lovely, shady road, the man on his horse, following at a respectful
distance.

She touched the pony lightly with her whip, and he responded by breaking
into a gentle gallop.

Dorothy's bright curls flew back from her flushed face, and she laughed
as she flew over the road.

The groom watched her admiringly, and marvelled that so small a girl
could be such a perfect little equestrienne.

The ride had brightened her eyes, and she always looked smaller than she
really was when mounted upon Romeo.

He was a handsome animal, with flowing mane and tail, and the groom
spoke truthfully when he muttered:

"Them two makes a high-bred pair. Miss Dorothy is a girl 'ristycrat, an'
the little hoss is a hoss 'ristycrat, if ever there was one."

The groom had been in the service of the Dainty family but a few
months, but in that time he had become devoted to the little daughter of
the house. All the servants loved Dorothy, and were almost as fond of
Nancy Ferris.

The young groom had heard Nancy's story, and he felt a deep interest in
the little girl, who once had been a waif.

Now, his pleasant face wore a smile as he followed Dorothy, and saw how
firmly the little figure stuck to the saddle, and rode as if girl and
pony were one and inseparable.

They reached the "Spring," a spot whose beauty drew all travellers to
it, and artists lingered there to paint, and thus perpetuate its charm.

Romeo looked down at the clear stream that reflected his figure so
perfectly.

"He wants a drink," said Dorothy; "lead him to a good place, Thomas,
please."

He helped her to dismount, and then led the pony to a shady spot where
he could drink, and enjoy the cool, clear water.

Dorothy at once commenced to gather some of the lovely wild flowers that
grew near the water's edge, but farther up the stream.

"These are different from any that I've ever found here," she thought.

Her hands were nearly filled with the lovely blossoms, and she was
reaching out to grasp an especially pretty one, when a strangely
familiar voice, just behind her, said:

"I think I see some one I've _often_ seen before!"

Dorothy turned, and a little cry of surprise and pleasure escaped her
lips.

There were Mrs. Barnet and dear little Flossie coming toward her, while
very near her was the owner of the voice, Flossie's handsome,
merry-hearted Uncle Harry! Just behind him was his lovely young wife,
and the baby in charge of a maid.

"Oh, I _am_ glad, _so_ glad to see you!" cried Dorothy. "And Flossie
Barnet, did you know you were coming up here, when I said 'good-by' to
you and Molly Merton at Merrivale?"

"I didn't know _surely_, but I _almost_ knew," Flossie admitted, "but
Uncle Harry said, 'Don't tell 'til you _know_,' and I didn't _truly_
know until after you were gone."

"Well, it's fine to have you here," said Dorothy, "but I do truly
b'lieve it's almost nicer to be surprised, and have you;" and she threw
her arm around Flossie, as she walked beside her.

Tall, handsome Uncle Harry thought he saw a chance for a bit of a joke.

"I wonder why some one isn't surprised to see _me_?" he said.

"Oh, I am," said Dorothy, "and glad, too."

"Well, thank you," said Uncle Harry; then with a face that he tried to
make sad, he said:

"But I know you aren't as glad as you were to see Flossie, because,--you
didn't put your arm around _my_ waist!"

He had tried to look very glum, but his blue eyes were laughing.

Big, handsome Uncle Harry could not look woebegone, and the two little
girls laughed at his attempt.

"The barge is taking our party over to the 'Cleverton,' and I see you
have the pony, Dorothy," said Uncle Harry. "Will you run a race with the
barge?"

"Oh, yes, yes!" cried Dorothy, "and Romeo will come in ahead!"

"If he does," said Uncle Harry, "I'll surely decorate him with a blue
ribbon!"

With many a laugh and jest, and much guessing as to which would be the
winner, the merry party clambered into the barge; Dorothy mounted Romeo,
and they were off over the road, on the way to the hotel.

The horses, like the average barge horses, were not beauties, but they
saw the pony rush forward, and they made an effort at speed. They
plunged forward, at what, to them, seemed a reckless pace, but the fine,
handsome Romeo shot past them, his nostrils dilated, and his eyes
bright with excitement. Dorothy's gay laugh rang out as she passed them,
and Uncle Harry, as he looked after the flying figure, exclaimed:

"The little fairy! I believe no other child could ride so fearlessly as
that!"

Often she looked back, as she sped over the road. Try as they would, the
old horses could not overtake her.

As soon as the barge appeared in sight between the trees, she touched
Romeo lightly with her whip-stock, and then she laughed gaily as he
plunged forward, the old barge rattling along far behind.

She did not permit Romeo to again slacken his pace, and thus arrived at
the Cleverton before the barge was in sight, so slow had been its
progress.

"Oh, Nancy!" she cried, "Who _do_ you think has come?"

[Illustration: OFTEN SHE LOOKED BACK, AS SHE SPED OVER THE ROAD.--_Page
31._]

"Who has come?" Nancy asked. "Where are they?"

"I mean you can't guess who is coming, and there they come now, Nancy,
just look!"

Nancy did look, saw the barge swinging around the curve of the road, saw
a tiny handkerchief waving, and then a sweet little face looked out to
smile at her.

"Oh, it's Flossie Barnet!" cried Nancy, joyfully, "and her mamma,
and,--why, yes it _is_! It's Flossie's Uncle Harry!"

He heard the cry, and heard the welcome in her voice.

"Yes, it's Flossie's Uncle Harry, and all the other little girls' Uncle
Harry who care to claim him for an uncle," he said, with a laugh, as he
lifted his little niece down from the barge.

"Oh, I'm _so_ glad he came, too," said Dorothy, upon hearing which, he
turned and lifting his hat, bowed, thus acknowledging the compliment
that she had paid him. His eyes twinkled with pleasure, for he loved
children, and he valued their regard. He was a big, manly fellow, with a
warm heart, as loving, and as merry as that of a child.

The Barnet party added much to the pleasure of little events and
entertainments at the Hotel Cleverton. Flossie became, at once, a
favorite with the other children, and her charming mother was deservedly
popular with all.

Uncle Harry, who possessed a fine voice, willingly sang whenever a
musical program was arranged for an evening, while his lovely young
wife, who was an accomplished pianist, played his accompaniments, or
rendered solos, thus generously adding to the pleasure of the other
guests.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I tell you what it is," said old Mr. Cunningham, "that big bank of
clouds hanging over that mountain means rain, and plenty of it, I
believe."

"I think you are right," said Uncle Harry, "and if we _do_ have a three
days' rain, as we sometimes do, we shall have to use every effort to
keep things humming, and so forget the storm."

They had been sitting on the piazza, and talking of the days of
uninterrupted sunshine that they had enjoyed, when, in a few minutes,
the blue sky had been hidden, as if by a thin, pearly veil, while
hanging over the mountain was the mass of leaden clouds that had seemed
to prophesy rain.

"Oh, _I_ don't want it to rain," wailed Floretta, who stood near them,
her pretty face puckered into a most unpleasant frown.

"I'm afraid the weather can't be arranged especially for you," said Mr.
Cunningham.

He, like all the guests, was very tired of the child who was either
whining, or boisterously, rudely gay. Just at this point, Mrs. Paxton
came out on the piazza, a small note-book and pencil in her hand.

She hastened toward the two gentlemen, and smiled as if she were
conferring a favor.

"With the chance of a stormy evening, we are trying to arrange a program
that will give us a pleasant evening indoors," she said. "I am sure you
will help me."

She had smiled at both, and old Mr. Cunningham, who heartily disliked
her, was only too glad to reply.

"I'm not musical, madam," he said, "but I'll whistle 'Hail Columbia' for
you, if you will promise not to reprimand me if I get off the key."

"Dear, dear!" she cried. "You are always so amusing. One never knows if
you are joking, or serious."

"It would be very serious, and no joke, I assure you, if you were
actually obliged to listen to my whistling," was the curt reply, and he
turned once more to scan the sky and the distant mountains.

Uncle Harry, of course, agreed to sing, his wife promised to play, and
Mrs. Paxton moved toward where Mrs. Dainty and her companion, Aunt
Charlotte, were sitting, with Dorothy and Nancy near them.

"Will your little daughter sing for us this evening?" she asked. "We
are eager to have quite a fine program."

"Dorothy shall sing for you, surely," Mrs. Dainty said, "and Nancy, I am
sure, will give a little solo."

"Oh, does Nancy sing or play?" Mrs. Paxton asked, in surprise, for thus
far Nancy had not exhibited her talent, whatever it might be.

"She will give you a solo that shall be neither singing nor playing,"
Mrs. Dainty replied, with a quiet smile.

"How very interesting!" said Mrs. Paxton. She had invited Dorothy to
sing because other guests had expressed the wish to hear her.

Here was a _second_ child with talent of _some_ kind! Well, Floretta's
imitations of other people would certainly eclipse the efforts of the
other little girls! Mrs. Paxton's sole idea in arranging the
entertainment was for the purpose of showing Floretta's mimicry.

A small figure paused a moment in the doorway, then stepped back, and
peeped out, scanning the groups upon the piazza.

"She isn't there!" he whispered. "She's backed out, an' she _said_ she'd
do it!"

He drew back into the shadow, and waited, hoping that when he looked
again he might see her.

A second peep at the guests on the piazza showed that Floretta was not
among them.

"She didn't _try_ to do it!" he muttered.

He held something in his hand, which he kept behind his back.

He was about to peep again when a light hand touched his shoulder.

He turned, and there stood Floretta, looking prettier than usual in her
short white frock, white shoes, and pink hair ribbons.

"Did you get one?" whispered Jack.

"Look!" said Floretta, and from behind her back she produced a long
corn-cob. "I took mine from the table at noon, when ma wasn't looking,
and ran from the dining-room, and hid it in our room," said Floretta.
"How did you get yours?"

"I asked the head waiter to get mine for me," said Jack, "and he acted
as if he thought me a ninny. He gave it to me all the same, and asked
what I was up to. I didn't tell him, though."

They giggled softly.

"Ready?" whispered Jack, softly.

"Yes," whispered Floretta, and then, with corn-cobs held to their
mouths, and their fingers working as if playing upon flutes, they
marched out on to the piazza, loudly singing, "Hail Columbia."

Some of the guests laughed, none so loudly as Mrs. Paxton, who declared
that it taxed her intellect to imagine what put such outrageously funny
notions into children's heads.

"I can answer that, madam, and without trying very hard, either. It's
Satan, madam, Satan, who from watching their actions, takes them to be
his near relatives," said Mr. Cunningham.

Meanwhile the little procession of two, encouraged by the laughter,
marched in and out between the groups of guests, until unlucky Floretta
let her corn-cob slip from her fingers, the moist, sticky thing falling
upon the light silk skirt of a lady who sat near Mrs. Paxton.

"There, there, Floretta, never mind," said Mrs. Paxton; then turning to
the wearer of the gown, she said, "I don't think it will stain it in the
least. Children will be children, and must have their fun!"



CHAPTER III

AN ENTERTAINMENT


MRS. PAXTON had laughed at what she chose to call the "funny" antics of
Floretta and Jack, but in truth, she had been very angry.

She swept from the piazza, Floretta, firmly grasped, walking beside her.
Jack Tiverton's mother took him to her room, where she could talk to
him, without fear of interruption.

Floretta sat on a low divan, sullen and obstinate.

For twenty minutes she had listened, while her mother had told what a
disrespectful thing she had done.

"I don't see how it was not respectful," grumbled Floretta, "we were
just having a little fun."

"And it was fun at my expense," said Mrs. Paxton. "I was annoyed, just
when I was making plans for a _fine_ entertainment, to have you and that
boy parade out on to the piazza with those old corn-cobs, singing, or
rather _howling_, like young savages!"

This, and much more Floretta was forced to listen to, but during the
remainder of the scolding, she did not speak, or reply in any way.

She was still very sullen when her mother left the room, and no one saw
her until she appeared in the dining-room at dinner.

She tasted one dish after another, but managed to eat but little dinner.
She wished her mother to think that the scolding had made her ill.

It proved to be wasted effort. Mrs. Paxton had been so interested in
what Mrs. Dayne was saying that she had not noticed that Floretta let
the various courses go untasted.

She had hoped to worry her mother, but had only punished herself!

She was very hungry when they left the table, and also very angry.

"I might just as well have eaten my dinner," she muttered, "she never
noticed that I didn't."

When the hour arrived that had been set for the concert, every guest was
present, and all were talking and laughing gaily, and very glad that an
evening's amusement had been provided.

Outside, the rain was descending in torrents, while a cold wind whistled
around the corners, as if demanding admittance.

Indoors the heavy red hangings were drawn over the lace draperies, great
logs blazed in the fireplaces, while over all softly shaded lights gave
an air of cozy comfort that made one feel sheltered and safe from the
storm.

A group of ladies sat chatting together, and one, a recent arrival, was
saying that she had understood that children were not permitted as
guests at the Cleverton.

"There are only a few children here," Mrs. Vinton said, "and some of
them are charming."

"While others are _not_?" questioned the stranger, with an odd smile.

"I'd rather not say just that," Mrs. Vinton said, "but I will say that
Mrs. Dainty's little daughter, and Dorothy's little friend, Nancy, and
Flossie Barnet, are three of the sweetest children I have ever met. My
stay here is brighter and far pleasanter because they are also here."

"Dorothy Dainty is an unusually fine singer for a child," another lady
said, "and she is to sing for us to-night. I believe Nancy Ferris is to
do something, but I do not know what. Does any one know if Nancy sings?"

"I've not the least idea what her talent is," said a pleasant-voiced
matron, "but she is such a bright, interesting child that I feel sure
that whatever she is able to do at all, she will do exceedingly well."

"Aunt Vera is to play a solo for the first number," said little Flossie
Barnet, to a lady who sat near her.

"That is delightful," said the lady, "and what are you to do?"

"Oh, I'll listen, and listen," said Flossie, "and then, I'll clap to
show how much I liked what the people did."

"And your friend Dorothy is to sing," said the lady, "do you know what
Nancy does?"

"Oh, yes, I do!" cried Flossie, "and she does it so lovely, you'll
wonder how she could! I'm not to tell _what_ she'll do, none of us are
to tell. You'll _see_ when she does it!"

"Dear little girl, you seem quite as happy as if you were to be a
soloist," said the lady.

"Why, yes," said Flossie, "for when the other little girls do pretty
things, I see them, but I couldn't see myself do anything!"

"Oh, you sweet, funny little girl," the pleasant-faced lady said, as she
drew Flossie closer, "I never knew so dear a child."

"Dorothy and Nancy are dear," said Flossie, "and oh, you haven't seen
Molly Merton! She's another one of my little friends, and she's _always_
lovely to play with. We're always together when I'm at home at
Merrivale."

Before the lady could express regret that she did not know Molly, the
orchestra began the opening chords of an overture.

The musicians gave an afternoon and evening concert daily, throughout
the season, but to-night their numbers were to be interspersed with
solos given by the guests.

The orchestra was generously applauded, and then a slender figure in a
gown of soft, pink satin seated itself at the piano, and with light
touch and brilliant execution, played a rondo that delighted all.

In response to repeated applause, she played the "Caprice Hongroise,"
which aroused wild enthusiasm.

She smiled, and bowed gracefully in acknowledgment, then turning toward
her husband, who now stood beside her, took from his hand the duplicate
of the song that he was to sing. She always played his accompaniments.

How full of music was his rare voice, how like the tones of a silver
trumpet when he sang "A Song of the Sea," how tender his tones when for
a second number, he sang an "Italian Love Song!"

"Didn't he sing _fine_, just _fine_?" Flossie asked, eagerly.

"Indeed he did," the lady replied, "I never heard a more excellent
voice."

"Well, he's my own Uncle Harry!" said Flossie, a world of love and pride
in her voice.

A young girl played a serenade on the guitar, and a member of the
orchestra played a waltz for violin, and both were encored.

Those who were to perform were in a small room awaiting their turn. They
were laughing and chatting while they waited, and all, save a little
girl, who kept apart from the others, seemed bright and happy. Her eyes
were dull, and her red lips pouting. It was Floretta Paxton, and she was
watching Nancy Ferris, noticing every detail of her costume, and looking
as unpleasant as possible.

Nancy wore a frock of white gauze, thickly strewn with tiny gold
spangles. Her girdle was white satin, her slippers were white, and she
wore a cluster of pink rosebuds in her hair.

"What's she going to do?" Floretta asked in a fretful voice, but Mrs.
Paxton, who stood beside her, could not tell her that. She knew no more
of Nancy's talent than Floretta did.

Floretta had been angry in the afternoon; she had foolishly refused
dinner, and was very hungry; she was made more angry because hers was
not the first number on the program, and now, here was Nancy Ferris
wearing a beautiful frock that far outshone her own!

She was wearing a simple pink muslin, and had felt that she was finely
dressed, until Nancy appeared.

The satin girdle, the white slippers, and the spangles were more than
she could forgive.

"What's she going to _do?_" she asked again, more fretfully than before.

"I _don't know_," Mrs. Paxton said.

"Well, I won't do a thing 'til I do know!" said Floretta.

Silly little girl! Always a jealous child, she now thought that Nancy
_might_ be another impersonator or imitator, and she was nearly wild.

The orchestra was now playing a dreamy waltz. Nancy's foot tapped the
measure. Her eyes were brighter.

"What _is_ she going to do?" whispered Floretta.

The tall man, who had been announcing the numbers, now swung aside the
portière, and Nancy slipped from her chair, ran out upon the stage, and
then,--oh, the fairy motion of her arms, the lightness with which, on
the tips of her toes, she flew across the stage!

With her finger-tips she lifted the hem of her skirt, and courtesied
low, then away in a dreamy whirl she sped, turning to look over her
shoulder, and laugh at the faces that showed greatest surprise.

On swept the strains of sweetest music, and little Nancy, carried away
with love of the music, danced more charmingly than ever before.

Aunt Charlotte and Mrs. Dainty watched her flying figure, and often as
they had seen her, they knew that she was excelling herself.

"Nancy, Nancy, dear child!" murmured Aunt Charlotte.

Now, with her feet crossed, and still on the tips of her toes she
whirled like a top, did the graceful rocking step, swayed like a flower
in the wind, whirled about again, courtesied once more, and laughing
like a merry, dark-eyed sprite, ran back into the little waiting-room.

Oh, what thunders of applause greeted her, yet she sat quietly chatting
with a lady who stood near her!

Again and again they seemed to be begging that the little dancer might
return.

"I'll bow to them," said Nancy, and she ran out to do so.

"Once more, once more!" cried an eager voice, and then more clapping,
and even a few shrill whistles from some very young men begged her to
respond.

She extended her arms for a second, then whirling rapidly, she repeated
the last half of the dance, courtesied again, and when she ran back to
the little room, Dorothy embraced her tenderly.

"Oh, Nancy darling!" she cried, "you never danced finer. Do you know how
pleased every one is?"

"I danced to please and surprise them," said Nancy. "I _do_ love to see
people look happy. They couldn't remember how hard it was raining while
I was whirling and dancing for them."

Floretta, now more unhappy than before, turned so that she might not see
Nancy, nor note the shimmer of her spangles.

Mrs. Paxton, who had been talking with a friend, now turned toward
Floretta.

"Come!" she said, "now run out, and do your very best, Floretta."

"I'm not going out!" said Floretta.

"What an idea!" cried Mrs. Paxton. "Of course you'll run out, and show
every one how cute you are. Why, I planned this entertainment just to
give you a chance to show off!"

"And made me the last one on the whole list!" snarled Floretta.

"Come, come!" cried her mother, "every one couldn't be first. I thought
I'd have the others perform first, and then _you_ could show who was the
smartest! Come! They're just wild to see what you can do, and they're
waiting."

"They'll _have_ to wait!" hissed Floretta, like a cross little cat.

It was no use to urge, plead, or insist. Floretta was stubborn, and when
once she had determined what she would, or would not do, nothing could
move her.

Prayers and threats were equally useless.

Dorothy sang very sweetly, and was cordially received.

Uncle Harry and his wife sang a charming duet that delighted all, the
orchestra played a military caprice, and then the remainder of the
evening was spent in a little, informal dance.

All was light, laughter, and music, and there were two kinds of music
that gladdened their hearts,--the sweet music of the violins, and the
still sweeter melody of happy voices!

Silly little Floretta had ruined the evening for no one save her own
jealous little self.

Because she could not be the first on the program, she would not appear
at all, although, at heart, she longed to show her really clever
mimicry. Later, after having sulked during the early part of the
evening, she refused to join the dancers, and ran away to her room,
angry, very angry with every one save the one person who was really at
fault,--herself.

Her efforts at imitating would surely have amused, and would, doubtless,
have been well received. She was rather a graceful dancer, in any of
the ordinary ballroom dances, and she thus might have joined the other
children when the concert was over. She had needlessly spent a most
unhappy evening.

Now, in her room, she heard the strains of the orchestra, and for the
first time realized how foolish she had been.

"I _had_ a chance, and I lost it," she sobbed, but her tears were not
tears of grieving. They were angry tears, and the droll part of it was
that while she alone was at fault, she was angry with every one but
herself.

For a few moments she lay, her face hidden in her pillow. Then, she
turned over into a more comfortable position, and softly she whispered,
"I'll do enough to-morrow to make up!"

She did not say _what_ she intended to do, but the idea evidently
pleased her, for she laughed through her tears.

She sprang from her bed, found a box of bonbons that her mother had won
as a prize in an afternoon whist party the day before, and crept back
into bed. When she had eaten nearly all of the candy, she sat up and in
the softly shaded light, looked at the box with its few remaining bits
of candy. She was wondering where she could hide it.

"Ma will surely notice the empty box, or anyway, I've made it _almost_
empty," she said. "She might not miss it if I hid it!"

She had never been taught to be honest, so whenever she did a naughty
thing, her first thought was to hide, or cover up the act. She never
felt regret.

No one ever heard her gently say, "I'm sorry."

Softly she crept from her bed, and made her way across the floor to the
dressing-case.

She put the box upon the floor, and pushed it well under it, and wholly
out of sight.

"There!" she whispered. "That's all right. I would have finished the
candy, but I didn't want the whole of it. I ate the best of it. The
others weren't very nice."

Down in the long parlor the guests were no longer dancing.

They were resting, and listening to a lovely barcarolle played softly by
the orchestra.

Flossie, clinging to Uncle Harry's hand, drew him toward the window.

"Look!" she said, as she parted the curtains. "It isn't raining now, and
the moon is coming out. It will be pleasant to-morrow! And it has been
lovely in here to-night."

"Dear little Flossie, dear little niece, it was your cheery, loving
nature that led us to give your name to our baby. She has two fine
names, she is Beatrice Florence. The first is Vera's mother's name, the
second, dear, is yours."



CHAPTER IV

IN A BIRCH ARBOR


THE storm had cleared the air, no mist veiled the mountains, the
sunlight lay everywhere, gilding valley and stream.

Many of the guests had started early in the morning for a trip to a
distant mountain from the summit of which a delightful view might be
enjoyed.

They were to ride over in the barge to the base of the mountain, have a
picnic lunch under the trees, and then climb the rugged path up the
mountain side.

It would occupy half the day and it would be afternoon before the barge
would return with its merry, tired party.

Floretta Paxton and Jack Tiverton were usually in sight, or, as they
were always noisy, within hearing might be nearer the truth, but they
had gone over to a spot that the children called "The Pool," a bit of
water not much larger than a big puddle.

It existed only after a heavy rain, but near its edge the slender
birches grew, and their silvery white trunks and the bright, blue sky
were clearly reflected on its surface.

Jack had decided to launch his toy boat there, and, as Floretta had
hemmed the tiny sails, he had felt obliged to listen to her coaxing, and
permit her to go with him.

"I'll let you christen her," he had said, in a moment of generosity, and
then regretted it.

Floretta's idea of a christening ceremony was very elaborate, while
Jack thought that shouting the vessel's name, and shoving it into the
water was all that was necessary.

Nancy was helping Aunt Charlotte, so when Dorothy ran out to the piazza,
she found it deserted, and she stood looking in surprise at the rocking
chairs and hammocks that were swaying in the wind.

"Every one has gone somewhere," she thought; "didn't any one stay at
home?"

She stood for a moment in the doorway, wondering what to do. Suddenly
her face brightened, and she clapped her hands.

"The very thing!" she said, and she turned and hastened to her room to
find her latest gift.

It was a beautiful book of fairy tales, and although it had been given
her over a week ago, she had read but a few of the stories. Mrs. Dainty
had sent to the city for the book, and ever since the day of its arrival
Dorothy had been wild to read it.

Something had been planned for each sunny day, and as the weather had
continued fair, the book had been opened but a few times, and then for
only a brief glance at the tales or the illustrations.

Mrs. Dainty had gone to the village, a ride of about an hour from the
hotel, and Aunt Charlotte was still occupied with her letters.

Nancy was sealing and stamping the envelopes, as Dorothy passed the
door.

"I'm going over to the little 'birch arbor,'" she said. "I'm taking my
new fairy book for company."

"I'll come, too, just as soon as I've finished these envelopes," said
Nancy, and she began to work faster.

[Illustration: "OH, WHAT A LOVELY, _LOVELY_ STORY!" SAID DOROTHY.--_Page
67._]

The "birch arbor" was not an actual arbor, but it was a lovely spot, and
the birches were exceptionally fine. Nancy and Dorothy had often been
there together, and they had given it the name.

A tiny mountain brook ran through it, and it was a lovely spot in which
to enjoy legends or fairy tales.

In a few moments Dorothy had reached the place, and when she had seated
herself, she opened the book where a fine picture showed the prince,
whose father had given him three wishes as his only inheritance, and
then had sent him out to seek his fortune.

Twice she had commenced to read the story, and had been obliged to lay
it aside. Now, with only the bees and the butterflies hovering about
her, she read the fascinating tale.

It proved to be even more charming than she had expected.

The prince was tall, and dark, and handsome, and his heart was so good
and true, that Dorothy felt that he richly deserved the beautiful
princess whom he finally won.

Her eyes sparkled as she read of the great court wedding.

"And the lovely princess looked more beautiful than ever in her wedding
gown of cloth of gold, thickly set with diamonds, and her crown of
diamonds and sapphires."

"Oh what a lovely, _lovely_ story!" said Dorothy, as she turned the
page.

"Tiny princes carried her train, and as the happy pair reached the
palace gates, and were about to enter the royal coach, the blare of
trumpets sounded, as the guards in blue and gold played a gay fanfare."

"Toot! Toot! Toot!"

Dorothy sprang to her feet.

It was as if those silver-toned trumpets had sounded close beside her. A
moment more, and a huge automobile appeared from behind the trees and
shrubbery, and slackening its speed, came, at last, to a standstill, and
an old lady leaned out to question her.

"Are we going in the right direction, my dear, to reach the Hotel
Cleverton?"

Dorothy walked toward the car, and looked up into the hard, old face.

"This little road is _right_," said Dorothy, "but the broad road that
leads out of this one is not so rough, and it is a _little_ shorter."

"There, Minturn, I _said plainly_ that I believed we could get there
quicker some other way!"

"You are _sure_ about the Cleverton?" the old lady asked. "You _know_
where it is?"

"I'm staying there with mamma, and that truly is the right way," said
Dorothy, her soft eyes looking up into the hard, old face.

"I guess I can trust you," the old lady said, not smiling, but looking a
bit less stern.

"Now, Minturn, we'll _try_ to reach the hotel, sometime before dark!"
she said curtly.

Puffing and whirring the big automobile started off up the road, the old
lady sitting stern and erect, as if she thought her driver needed
watching, and she was determined to keep a sharp eye upon him.

"Why, how queer!" said Dorothy. "She didn't even say 'good-bye,' or
'good-morning.' Perhaps she was very tired, and forgot,"--then after a
moment she added, "but my beautiful mamma _never_ forgets."

She went back to the pretty spot where she had been reading, and sitting
down, opened the book, but she could not keep her mind upon the stories.
The strange face of the old lady seemed to look at her from the printed
page.

How small and sharp her eyes had been, and how she asked the same
question again and again. Did she doubt the answer given her?

All these, and many more questions puzzled Dorothy, and with the open
book lying upon her lap, she looked off where the sunlight lay upon the
grass.

She was still sitting thus when a merry voice aroused her, and she
turned to see Nancy running toward her.

"Oh, Dorothy!" she cried. "You ought to have been up at the hotel just a
few moments ago. A new guest came, and she was so cross, it _must_ be
that she didn't want to come. But if she truly _didn't_ want to, then
why _did_ she?"

"Why, Nancy, who wouldn't think it fine to come up here to the
mountains, and stay at the Cleverton?" said Dorothy in surprise.

"Well, you wouldn't have thought the old lady was glad to be there, if
you'd seen her," said Nancy.

"Oh, was it an old lady that you were talking about?" Dorothy asked
quickly.

"Yes, and you ought to have seen her eyes snap when she scolded her
chauffeur. She told him she might have arrived an hour before just as
well as not, and she kept right on scolding to herself, all the way up
to the piazza, and, Dorothy, she looked so cross, I wouldn't wonder if
she was scolding up in her room now!"

"She must be the same one that was here just a little while ago,"
Dorothy said, "and she asked me to tell her the nearest way to the
Cleverton. When I told her, she made the man rush off over the road, and
she was scolding him when they left here. Perhaps she was tired, and
will feel pleasanter when she has rested."

"Perhaps," agreed Nancy, "but I know Aunt Charlotte and your mamma don't
act that way when they are tired."

Dorothy could not dispute that, and soon the two little girls were
enjoying the fairy book together.

"Now, this is the story I've just been reading," said Dorothy, "and this
is the picture of the prince. Isn't he handsome?"

"Oh, yes," said Nancy, "and doesn't he look like Flossie's Uncle Harry?"

"Why, he _does_, truly," cried Dorothy. "I'll show the picture to
Flossie, and I'm sure she'll say it looks ever so much like him."

"Oh, she will," agreed Nancy.

"Why, it would look _exactly_ like him, if _he_ only had a cap with
plumes," said Dorothy.

Uncle Harry, coming briskly up the path, was just in time to hear the
last few words.

"I'm very curious to know who it is who needs a cap with plumes," he
said.

"Oh, who knew you were right here to hear it?" said Dorothy.

"Oh, was it a state secret?" he asked. "Well, now it's a pity I heard
it, but as it happens I _did_, I think I must ask for the rest of the
secret."

"Oh, _would_ you tell?" Dorothy asked, turning to Nancy, but before she
could reply, Uncle Harry spoke.

"I'm really too curious," he said, "so I think I'll threaten to sit on
this stump, until you tell me the secret, and let me tell you two little
friends, that _I've_ a secret; it's a nice one, too, but,--" he paused
to watch the effect of his words.

"But--But--" they cried.

"But,--" said Uncle Harry, "I wouldn't tell mine _first_!"

Wag that he was, he could not resist the temptation to tease just a bit.

Dorothy took the pretty book, and opening it at the page that showed the
picture of the prince, she said, "We only said the brave prince looked
like you, no, I mean you look like him, and we said you'd look _just_
like him if you had a cap with plumes."

Uncle Harry appeared to study the picture very carefully. After a
moment, he said:

"That's a fine compliment, but there's one thing about it that worries
me, so I'll have to ask about it.

"In this picture the prince wears a blue blouse and a pair of green
shoes, a pink cap with white plumes, gray hose, and crimson trunks. Now,
if I should decide to purchase a pink cap with white plumes, would you
expect me to come out arrayed in all those colors? I really feel that
the costume is a _bit_, just a _bit_ too gay."

"Oh, we'll not ask you to be quite as gay as that," said Dorothy, "and
we'll promise one thing. We won't even ask you to buy a pink cap if
you'll tell us your secret now."

He laughed gaily.

"Perhaps I really _ought_ to keep it a little longer. How would it do if
I should tell you my secret some time next week?" he asked.

"Oh, no, no!" they cried, "tell it now!"

"Well, then, there's to be a fair 'way down in the village, a real
country fair, and I'm intending to hire a barge, and take all of the
_very_ young ladies over with me to see the fun. I mean ladies as young
as you, and Nancy, and Flossie. I shall invite all the wee ladies that
are stopping at the hotel, and I shall take all who accept."

He looked into their bright faces, and laughed when Dorothy said:

"As if _any_ little girl _wouldn't_ accept!"

"You mustn't expect it to be a grand affair. It will be, as I said, a
real old-fashioned country fair, but there will be a jolly ride over
there, and the return trip, and I fancy you will enjoy it all," he said,
"and I shall have the delight of giving pleasure."

A friend who had been looking for Uncle Harry, now appeared on the
winding path, a clump of large trees having hidden his approach.

The two young men started off for a long tramp, and Dorothy and Nancy
walked slowly back to the hotel.

"The prince _did_ look like Uncle Harry," said Nancy, "and the picture
of the naughty old fairy that enchanted the sleeping beauty, looks like
the lady that came this morning, and was so very cross."

"Then that _is_ the same one who stopped to ask the way, for she looked
just like that. I'll always think, every time I look at her, that she's
the black fairy."

And when they ran up on to the piazza, there sat the very person whom
they had been speaking of, looking somewhat cooler with her long
travelling cloak removed.

Her black gown was of some thin material, and just as the two little
girls ran up on to the piazza, she dropped the large, black fan that she
had been wielding.

Nancy, who was nearer to her than Dorothy, picked up the fan for her.
Without a smile, she took the fan, and they heard some slight sound.
Possibly it might have been a softly murmured word of thanks, but it did
not sound like it.

"She seems very strange," said Dorothy, "but perhaps she's still tired."

She was always unwilling to say that any one was wilfully rude or
disagreeable.

And now Aunt Charlotte, with Mrs. Dainty, came out to enjoy the fine
air, and Dorothy and Nancy ran to them to tell them of the treat that
Uncle Harry had in store for them.

"It's only a few days to wait, and isn't he kind to take us?" said
Dorothy.

"He is indeed," said Mrs. Dainty, "and I hope all his little friends
will be very thoughtful, and make him just as little trouble as
possible. He takes quite a care in inviting so many children."

"Oh, all the children love him, and there isn't one who would want to be
any bother, unless it was Floretta," said Dorothy, "and perhaps she'll
be having such a nice time, she won't think to be naughty."

Mrs. Dainty smiled at this view of it. She could not help thinking that
Floretta never needed time to think in order to be disagreeable, but
she did not say so.

Aunt Charlotte Grayson, seeing the stranger sitting alone, paused near
her chair to say a friendly word.

She remained but few moments, however, because the woman seemed not
inclined to talk.

Aunt Charlotte well knew that the stranger was not courteous, but she
tried to think, as Dorothy had, that fatigue, after a long journey, made
her eager for silence and rest.



CHAPTER V

THE MOUNTAIN PARTY


AS the days flew by, the stranger became a bit more friendly, conversing
sometimes with Mrs. Dainty and Aunt Charlotte, but often, far more
often, with Mrs. Paxton.

It was not that she sought to become acquainted with Floretta's mother;
it was, rather, that Mrs. Paxton seemed determined to force the
friendship.

"Her name is Fenton, Mrs. Fenton, and isn't it odd, _my_ name was Fenton
before I married. Floretta's middle name is Fenton. I really feel almost
as if I were related to her, because of the name," declared Mrs. Paxton
one morning, whereupon Mrs. Fenton, coming out on to the piazza,
remarked:

"Oh, indeed!"

Mrs. Paxton blushed and hesitated, then recovering herself, she said:

"I was just telling these ladies of my friendly feeling for you."

"Oh, indeed!" Mrs. Fenton repeated, as she sank into a large rocker, and
looked off across the valley to the distant mountains.

After a few moments she seemed to have lost interest in the view, and,
taking up a small embroidery frame, commenced to ply her needle as if
she were eager to finish the pretty doily.

Two little figures came slowly up the path to the piazza. They were
returning from the christening of the little boat.

"What is wrong, Jack? You don't look very happy," said Mrs. Tiverton.

"He wanted me to christen his boat, but he wouldn't give it my name!"
said Floretta, before Jack could reply.

"She thought just because she hemmed the sails I'd name it the
_Floretta_, but I wouldn't, so I shoved it into the water myself, and
shouted _Carlotta_. That's the name of a girl that goes to my school,
and I like her."

"You say Floretta hemmed your sails," said Mrs. Tiverton.

"Well, I thanked her for that, and I let her go to the launching, and I
let her christen it, but I don't see that I need name it for her," said
Jack, stoutly.

Mrs. Fenton had not heeded what the children were saying. One might have
fancied that she did not hear, although both Floretta and Jack stood
quite near her chair.

A large spool that she had wound with colored silk slipped from her lap,
and rolled toward Floretta.

"Pick it up, dear," Mrs. Paxton said.

"Don't want to," said Floretta.

Mrs. Fenton stooped, and recovered the spool, and, taking her embroidery
frame in her hand, left the piazza, and mounted the stairs to her room.

"Why _were_ you so rude?" said Mrs. Paxton, but Floretta, perching upon
the low railing, began softly humming "Yankee Doodle."

Jack Tiverton, espying a boy that he knew, whistled loudly, and then, as
the other boy turned, ran after him, the two whooping and shouting like
savages.

"It is almost lunch time, Jack!" Mrs. Tiverton cried, and the boy
turned, and waved his hand to show that he heard her.

"Boys aren't apt to forget meal time," muttered old Mr. Cunningham
behind his paper.

True enough, Jack returned in ample time, and was the first at the
table.

Early in the afternoon Dorothy and Nancy went out for a drive with
Romeo.

It was one of those sunny days that tempt nearly every one to ride or
walk.

The mountain roads were rather lonely, and Mrs. Dainty insisted that
whether Dorothy were riding Romeo, or driving in the phaeton, the groom
must ride at a little distance behind her.

There were the lovely, slender birches on either side of the roads,
there were patches of bright green moss upon which the sunlight rested,
there were blackberry vines and woodbine wreathing the low stone walls,
and here and there a mullein raised its stately head from its base of
velvet leaves.

Oh, it seemed like an enchanted country, where new beauties were to be
found on either hand!

"Look!" cried Dorothy, "close beside that mullein is an evening
primrose, and their blossoms are the same color."

Then a tiny chipmunk sprang upon the wall, sat erect, and watched them
for a moment, then ran up the trunk of a slender tree, where from a low
branch he watched until they had passed. Then back to the wall he
sprang, where he chattered as if scolding the little girls who had
disturbed his solitude. It may be that, instead, he was talking to
himself, and telling what charming little girls they were.

A long way from the hotel they passed Jack Tiverton, with a number of
other boys who were staying at a hotel a few miles distant from the
Cleverton.

They were all somewhat larger than Jack, and he thought it fine to be
with them.

He had met them at a ball game three weeks before, and he had been very
busy holding their acquaintance ever since.

"We're going to catch the echo, and keep it, too!" shouted Jack.

"It's mocking you now," said Dorothy, with a laugh.

"I know it," said Jack, "but we'll catch it, and fasten it so it can't
get away."

"_How_ will you fasten an echo?" Nancy asked, turning, and looking over
her shoulder as the little phaeton sped past.

"Trust us to find a way!" cried Jack, and the others laughed as if they
already knew exactly how to do it.

They left the road, and, vaulting over the wall, crossed the open
field, singing a gay, rollicking song as they went.

"They just _say_ they're going hunting for the echo," said Dorothy, "and
they say it for fun, but I wonder where they are going, and what they
truly are going to do."

The groom, riding nearer, touched his hat.

"Please, Miss Dorothy, I heard the lads saying that there's an old house
over near that mountain, where a hermit lived years ago, and they're off
to find it if they can."

"Then why didn't they say so, instead of telling such a tale about
catching the echo?" Dorothy asked.

"They were saying that they wanted to find the hut, and hunt in it, and
around it ter find things the old fellow may have hidden. They feared
you or Miss Nancy might tell some other lad. They're wanting it all to
themselves."

Having told this bit of information, the groom allowed the carriage to
pass him, and once more rode behind it.

The two little girls talked of the long tramp that the boys would have
before they would find the hermit's hut.

"And perhaps they won't find it at all, after all their hunting," said
Nancy.

"Well, I hope they will," said Dorothy, "because it's so horrid to hunt
and hunt, for nothing."

"Oh, look!" she cried a moment later. "See the lovely mosses! Let's take
some back to mamma and Aunt Charlotte."

They were, indeed, beautiful. There was green moss that looked like
velvet, and gray moss formed like tiny cups with scarlet edges, and
other moss tipped with red.

On an old stump they found shell-like fungus, some a creamy white,
others white, with soft brown markings.

Oh, a fine collection of rarely beautiful mosses and lichens they
gathered, and heaped on the bottom of the phaeton.

Romeo turned his head to watch them as if he wondered when they would
have gathered enough.

"Oh, we do keep you standing, dear, don't we?" Dorothy said, patting his
neck as she spoke.

"Oh, you needn't look for sugar," she said, laughing, "for I haven't any
with me, but we'll get you some fresh clover."

With Nancy's help she soon had a fine bunch of pink clover for Romeo,
and he seemed quite as pleased as if it had been the cubes that he so
often enjoyed.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the party of boys had left the road to cross the fields that lay
between them, and the forest at the foot of the mountain, they had
believed that they knew exactly how to go to reach the hermit's hut.

The old hermit had been dead for years, but every season the summer
guests at the hotels and farmhouses searched all around the deserted
hut, expecting to find some relic to take home and label as a bit of the
hermit's property.

The boys supposed that they had the woods to themselves, and that they
would be uninterrupted in their search of the place.

They did not know that the mountain climbers had taken the same
direction, intending, before they enjoyed their lunch beneath the trees,
to stop at the old, deserted house.

Mrs. Paxton and little Floretta had worked more persistently than any
others of the party, and Mrs. Paxton had found a small, brass button.

The others had laughed at the prize, asking her if she intended to keep
it as a souvenir.

"Certainly," said Mrs. Paxton. "I'm sure this brass button must have
belonged on some old coat that the hermit wore!"

"Perhaps in his youth, before he came up here to live, he may have been
a janitor," said a young man, with a saucy laugh.

"Or a brakeman," suggested another.

Mrs. Paxton pretended not to hear their teasing, and though the prize
that she had found had been only a valueless thing, she kept it.

Floretta was very eager to stay, and continue to peep into cracks in the
floor and walls, and to poke with a stick under the doorsill, and in the
soft earth around the hut.

The older members of the party knew that if they were to ascend the
mountain, see the view, and descend before twilight, they must start at
once.

As soon as their picnic lunch had been enjoyed they commenced to climb
the rugged mountain path.

It was very steep and rough, and it had been said that no children
should be allowed in the party.

Mrs. Paxton had insisted that her small daughter was a wonderful little
climber, who was quite equal to the demands of a long tramp.

Floretta had wished to remain at the hut, but as she could not do that,
she proceeded to make herself as unpleasant as possible, by complaining
every step of the way, until one young man voiced the feeling of the
entire party.

"This is a horrid, rough old path, and I'm tired. I wish I'd stayed at
_home_!" said Floretta.

"I wish so, _too_!" said the young man, and several of the party, too
polite to say it, at heart, agreed with him.

Floretta's was the only gloomy face, however. The others tramped gaily
onward, singing snatches of song, and laughing as they stepped upon
rolling stones, or tripped over long, gnarled roots that rose above the
surface, as if especially designed to catch lagging feet.

          "All day upon the hills
           We've chased the chamois far,
           But deeper joy now thrills
           Beneath the evening star."

The youth sang gaily, and several of his friends joined him in singing
the old song.

Arrived at the summit they rested, enjoyed the view, laughed and joked
about their weariness, and made many wild guesses as to how long it
would take them to make the descent and drive back to the hotel.

"It will be three o'clock before we reach the Cleverton," said one.

"Nonsense!" cried another, "this is really called a mountain by
courtesy. It's only a big hill. I say we shall be on the piazza, and
wondering what we can do next, as early as half-past two."

"It's more likely to be half-past _three_!" declared another, and when
all felt sufficiently rested, they commenced the descent.

Floretta refused to keep closely beside her mother, insisting upon
clinging to another member of the party, to whom she had taken a fancy.

The party was a large one, much larger, indeed, than had at first been
planned, and while half of the number were guests at the Cleverton, the
others were from the Merlington, a hotel situated nearer the village,
and from several large farmhouses that entertained summer boarders.

The guests from the Cleverton had kept closely together during the trip,
while those from the Merlington had done the same.

They had reached the foot of the mountain, and were tramping along a
path that ran nearly parallel to that on which the hermit's house stood.

Floretta saw the boys, near the house, and also saw that Jack Tiverton
was with them.

Without a word, she left the lady to whose arm she had been clinging,
and making her way along behind bushes and underbrush, she managed to
sneak in at the door of the hut, without having been seen by the party
of boys.

The lady, with whom she had been walking, supposed that she had run back
to join her mother, while Mrs. Paxton felt quite undisturbed, because
she believed that her little girl was still clinging to the arm of the
lady with whom she had chosen to walk.

It had required two barges to convey the party, and now they found them
waiting, the horses a bit impatient to be off.

The guests from the Merlington clambered into the first barge, and they
with a few of the farmhouse party filled it to overflowing, some of the
men being obliged to ride homeward, seated upon the steps. Meanwhile the
Cleverton people were forced to wait until the barge for their party
drove up.

The first barge had started, and was rolling along, and a chorus of
college songs was wafted back on the breeze, while handkerchiefs
fluttered as the gay passengers laughed at the crowd that had not yet
started.

Mrs. Paxton paused with her foot on the step, and looked back.

"Why, where's Floretta?" she asked.

"In the first barge," cried a voice in reply.

"Are you _sure_?" she asked.

"Why, certainly," said the other, "she's with that tall, fine-looking
lady from the Merlington. She'll be home before you are."

The second barge was soon filled and on its way. The horses were less
fresh than those of the first barge, and seemed determined to lag.
Indeed, they required constant urging to keep them from dropping into a
slow walk.

"Those other fellows ahead of us started some lively college songs,"
said a disgusted passenger, "and they're actually out of sight now; but
the way these nags are poking I couldn't think of anything to sing that
would be slow enough to be appropriate."

And while one barge was going over the road at a lively rate of speed,
and the other jogging along at a snail's pace, Floretta, at the hut, was
having a most exciting time.

Once inside the place, she had crouched beneath a window to learn, if
possible, what the boys were talking about.

She had wanted to remain there when the party had started for the
mountain path, and she had been very impatient during the long tramp.
She cared nothing for the view, and determined, on the return, to stop,
if only for a few moments, at the hut.



CHAPTER VI

THE ECHO CAPTURED


FLORETTA had intended to hunt for treasure, hoping to get something more
valuable than the brass button that her mother had found.

She was not at all afraid of Jack Tiverton, but of those larger boys she
was not quite sure.

As she knelt beneath the window she could hear only the voices of the
boys that were nearest to the hut, and hearing only parts of their
conversation, she could not understand what the first speaker expected
to find.

"If I find it, I'll put it where it will be safe," he said.

There was a pause, and then a voice more distant replied.

She did not hear what it said, but she did hear the answer made by the
boy who had first spoken.

"If the ghost of the old hermit was in the hut, it might hear you."

"Yes, and what would he say about your hunting for things that may have
belonged to him?" said another, with a teasing laugh.

"Oh, I'm not afraid," was the careless answer.

"You're not?" jeered a laughing voice.

"I think we've poked around out here long enough without finding
anything," said Jack Tiverton, "let's hunt inside the house."

"Wait a minute," called a boy who had not yet spoken, "just till I've
looked into this hollow tree trunk."

"And _then_ what?" asked a merry voice.

"_Then_ hunt in the house, of course!" was the curt reply.

Floretta thought she saw a chance for fun.

Softly, yet quickly, she crept up the rickety little stairway, built
close against the wall, and leading to the tiny loft.

The loft was really little more than a space beneath the roof where the
old hermit might have stored a few provisions. She could not stand, or
even sit, erect, and she crouched upon the bit of dusty flooring.

She was none too soon, for in a few seconds the boys rushed in, and then
began a discussion as to whether it would be safe to take a plank up
from the floor to look beneath it for hidden treasure.

"You oughtn't to do that," said Jack Tiverton, "somebody might arrest
you, or all of us, if folks found out we did it."

"Arrest us for spoiling a floor in this old hut!" cried an older boy. "I
wonder you don't think the old hermit might holler if he heard us pull
up a plank!"

"Well," said Jack stoutly, "you'd be as scared as I would if he did
holler!"

"You're a small boy, Jack, and easily scared," was the taunting reply.

"Well, pull up a plank, and see what happens. I dare you to!" cried
Jack.

"Here goes then!" said the older boy, and catching hold of a plank that
had rotted at one end, he pulled it up.

"_Oh, let it alone!_" groaned a boy in a farther corner of the room, in
an attempt to imitate an old voice.

"_Oh, let it alone!_" came in exactly the same voice from the loft.

Sidney Cumston, the big boy, who had laughed at little Jack Tiverton,
dropped the plank, and turned pale, while not a boy spoke or moved.

"Come, come!" said Sidney, when he caught his breath, "we're a precious
pack of sillies! Help me lift this big board, will you?"

"Will you?" came from the loft, in the very manner in which he had said
it.

Again he dropped the plank.

"What does it mean?" cried Sidney.

"Mean?" came his last word repeated.

The boys were now thoroughly frightened.

"Come!" cried Sidney, "let's leave here!"

"Here!" came a repetition of his last word, and big as he was, he had
turned to run, when a faint ripple of smothered laughter came down from
the loft.

Immediately Sidney's pale face flushed red. It flashed through his mind
that these younger boys had seen that he was frightened.

He had been laughed at by the owner of the voice that had mocked him,
and the boys would _never_ stop laughing.

Quickly he mounted the steps, and roughly he dragged little Floretta
from her hiding place, half carrying her down the stairway, because it
was too narrow for two to descend.

"So you thought it was funny, just _funny_ to mock us, did you?" he
asked, when they reached the floor.

Floretta was not laughing now.

She was sullen, and at the same time frightened.

What would they do to her?

They crowded around her, frowning and making all sorts of wild
suggestions as to what should be done with her.

"Keep her mocking till she's got enough of it!" cried one.

"Put her back in the loft, and leave her there! She seemed to like
there," said another.

The big boy, whose hand was still on her shoulder, was more angry than
either of the others.

He was a bully, always ready to torment some one smaller than himself.

He had reason to be provoked with Floretta, and the fact that she was
only a little girl, made no impression upon him.

He would as willingly punish a girl, as a boy, and the fact that his
captive was smaller than he, only proved that the task would be an easy
one.

"You think it's smart to imitate, and it is. P'raps you think you're the
echo that's over in the mountain!" he sneered.

She made no answer. She was crying now.

"Say! Let her off!" cried Jack Tiverton. "She's only a girl!"

The smallest boy in the crowd, he saw Sidney's cowardice.

"Oh, are you sweet on Floretta?" jeered Sidney.

Jack drew back abashed. He did not like Floretta at all, but he did
think it mean for a big boy to frighten so small a girl.

"I ain't going to hurt you," said Sidney, "but I'm going to give you a
chance to play echo, till you're tired of it. I guess you'll get enough
of it before you get through!

"Come, fellows! Get some good long pieces of wild grape-vine! I'll
fasten Miss Echo where she can shout all day, and nobody'll stop her!"

"I won't go with you!" screamed Floretta, who had found her voice, "You
sha'n't tie me!"

"Oh, is that so?" said Sidney, in a teasing tone. "We'll tie you so you
can't get away!"

She pulled back.

"No, you don't!" said Sidney, grasping her arm with a firmer hold.

"Now, walk right along, or these other fellows will help me carry you!"
he added, and Floretta thought best to walk.

"Where'll you take her?" asked one.

"Right there," said Sidney. "That rock is just covered with vines that
cling fast to it. Hurry, now! Pull down some long, strong pieces! Here,
you scratch like a cat! Stop that!"

Floretta, half wild to get away, was attacking his hand in the manner of
a little wild animal.

"Let me go, then!" she screamed.

"Not much!" cried Sidney, and with the help of another boy, he dragged
her, screaming and kicking, all the way, until they reached the rocky
ledge.

"There, now! Hold on! You're showing too much temper!" cried a stout lad
who was helping to bind her.

"I won't stay! You sha'n't tie me!" she screamed, but without replying,
they drew the tough vines closer about her, lashing her into such a
network of stems and stout vines that it would be impossible for her to
escape.

"There!" cried Sidney, when he felt sure that she was securely made a
little prisoner, "You can shout till you're tired, and if you want to
mock any one, you can mock yourself! Good-afternoon, Miss Echo!"

He lifted his cap, with elaborate courtesy, and marched off whistling:

          "The Girl I Left Behind Me."

They did not look back. Sidney marched boldly away, believing that he
had done a very smart thing, but the other boys felt less comfortable.

They had been angry with her, and they had wished to see her punished,
but they could not help thinking that she was a little girl, and they
were leaving her alone in the woods!

Jack Tiverton was, by far, the most uneasy.

He was the smallest of the party, and, while he had asked Sidney to let
Floretta go, he had known it was useless to do more.

The eight other boys were stronger than he, and any attempt upon his
part to free her would be worse than useless. They would not listen, but
instead, would pounce upon him.

The other boys talked, laughed, and whistled, to imply that they were
not thinking of what they had done, but all the way back to the
Cleverton, little Jack was wondering what he could do.

He dared not go straight to Floretta's mother, and tell her of her
little girl's plight.

He knew if he did that, the boys would soon learn who had played
"tell-tale," and then,--what would they do to _him_?

And yet, he was determined, in some way, to help Floretta.

How could he let a little girl stay out there in the woods all night?

Of course some one, walking through the woods might find her, but if no
one happened to?

Jack knew that the risk was too great. It was just before he reached the
Cleverton, that he thought of the best way that he could do it.

He would write a note to Mrs. Paxton. He would drop that note into the
mail box that hung at the side door. The letters were always distributed
at four, and Sidney Cumston, who had a fine watch, had just said that it
was three. He left the boys at the entrance to the Merlington, and
hurried on that he might have plenty of time for his note.

Mrs. Tiverton was out driving with a friend, and Jack had quite a hunt
before he could find pencil or paper for his note.

At last he found a blank book, and with a pencil he wrote this note.

          "Deer Mrs. Paxton:--

          "Yor litle girl is tied up in the woods opsite the
          hermits hut. You better go get her real quick or
          somethin may happen too her.

                                           "Yors trooly."

He folded it, and, in place of the envelope that he could not find, he
tied around it a bit of string that he found in his pocket.

Boldly he addressed it, in very large letters, and sneaking down the
stairway, and around on the piazza toward the side door, watched his
chance, and slipped it into the mail box.

There was much excitement on the front piazza, because the guests had
arrived in the barge but a few moments before, and Mrs. Paxton had given
a maid a generous "tip" to go over to the Merlington, and bring Floretta
back with her.

"She returned with the party that came from the Merlington, and I don't
wish her to remain there. I want her to come right back to me," said
Mrs. Paxton.

"Very well, ma'am," the maid had replied, and with the coins in her
hand, had started off at once toward the other hotel.

When little Jack Tiverton ran around to the front piazza, the maid had
just returned.

"If you please, Mrs. Paxton, your little girl isn't over to the
Merlington, and hasn't been there, and a lady that was with the party
that came home from the mountain trip, says the child wasn't in their
barge at all. I asked her if she was _sure_, and she said, she couldn't
help being sure, because there wasn't _any_ child in their barge."

Of course excitement reigned supreme. Mrs. Paxton seemed half wild, and
every one shared her anxiety.

The fact that Floretta was not a favorite made no difference. No one
liked to think of a little girl out there alone on the mountain path, or
in the woods, especially as it was already late afternoon.

"What a dreadful thing!" cried Mrs. Paxton, wringing her hands, and
walking up and down the piazza.

"Who will go with me? I cannot go alone, and where, _where_ shall we
look first? Who saw her last?"

At this moment a man-servant came out from the hall with a tray of
letters that he began to distribute.

"One for you, Mrs. Paxton," said the man, as he touched her arm gently.

"Oh, I can't think of letters now," she said, but something about the
note seemed so unusual that she looked at it.

She drew off the string that had been loosely tied, and read the hastily
scrawled lines.

She screamed, and Aunt Charlotte, who was standing near her, put her arm
around her and supported her, or she would have fallen.

Many of those who gathered around Mrs. Paxton were inclined to think the
note a hoax, but Mrs. Dainty, coming forward, lifted her handsome head,
and looking at the men who were lounging comfortably in the large
rockers, or sitting upon the piazza railing, spoke the word that spurred
them to action.

"Is it safe to _guess_ that this is a joke? True, it is written in a
boyish hand, and while it _may_ be a boy's joke, may it not be a boy's
means of telling us what has actually happened? I would not, were I a
man, take the responsibility or chance, of leaving Floretta out there,
because I would go to the place, and thus learn, not guess, if this
information be true."

She had scarcely finished speaking when a number of men rose, and one,
who chose to lead the party, lifted his hat to Mrs. Dainty, saying:

"We are off, madam. We only needed an inspiration to move us to
endeavor."

She bowed and smiled, as she said:

"One thing I ask of you. Go as quickly as possible, for the sake of the
frightened child, and the anxious mother."

"In all possible haste," was the quick reply, and she turned to offer
what comfort she might to the woman who seemed nearly distracted.

       *       *       *       *       *

And all this time, what had been happening in the wood? For a long time
Floretta had cried, screamed, and shouted, hoping that the boys would
come back and release her.

Then, when she knew that they must be too far away to hear her, she tore
at the clasping bonds, trying in every way to free herself. With feet
and hands she strove to loosen the tough, wiry vines, kicking and
trampling with her restless feet, beating and bending with her little
hands, until they were torn and bleeding, and the tormenting vines
seemed only to hold her with a firmer grasp, as if to prove how useless
was her struggle.

[Illustration: WITH FEET AND HANDS SHE STROVE TO LOOSEN THE TOUGH, WIRY
VINES.--_Page 119_.]

She had cried until she could cry no more, and the sturdy vines had cut
and bruised her.

So firmly was she bound that she could not sink to the grass to rest,
and she had only the hard, rocky ledge to lean against.

How still the woodland seemed! Sometimes a twig would snap, or a buzzing
insect would pause, as if to look at her, but no one came to set her
free.

She waited for a moment to regain her breath, and then again she fought
and struggled with those tough, sturdy vines.

She tried to wrench them apart, to break, to tear them from her, but
they only yielded enough to bend, and then snap back into the very
place that she had pushed them from.

Not a vine broke, not a stem gave way, and she set her lips tightly for
yet greater effort!



CHAPTER VII

FLORETTA'S RETURN


AT a far corner of the piazza sat Dorothy, her eyes terrified, and her
cheeks pale. Nancy, close beside her, wound her arms about her, and
sought, in every way, to comfort her.

"They'll find her soon, Dorothy, so don't you be frightened," she
whispered. "They'll _surely_ find her soon."

Dear little Nancy knew, better than any of Dorothy's other friends could
have known, how ready was her sympathy, how kind and loving was her
heart.

She had not loved Floretta, but with Dorothy, that did not count. It was
the dreadful fear that something had happened to a little girl, who, so
recently had been at play with them,--ah, that was what grieved sweet
Dorothy.

She was thinking of what Mrs. Dainty had said to Aunt Charlotte when the
mountain trip was first talked of.

"I think the long tramp is a rougher form of amusement than I can well
endure. I should be so weary long before it was time to return, that I
should derive but little pleasure from the trip. There is another
thought in connection with the picnic," she continued, "and that is an
element of danger. Not great danger perhaps, but such that I would not
join the party, nor would I permit Dorothy, or Nancy to do so. One
gentleman who was talking of the mountain path that they have chosen,
spoke of the great danger to the climbers from small, rolling stones,
and from places where the earth seems to crumble near the edge of the
narrow foot-path. A careless step might lead to a fall that would mean,
I hardly dare to say what!"

Dorothy and Nancy had been wishing to join the party, but upon hearing
this, they lost all interest in it, and had cheerfully taken the drive
behind gentle Romeo, instead. Now, as Dorothy sat with Nancy's arms
about her, she was glad that they had not been permitted to go, and she
heartily wished that Floretta had remained at the Cleverton.

"Had she rolled from the path, and fallen, fallen,--"

Dorothy covered her eyes with her hands, as if she almost saw the little
girl falling, down, down to the ravine so far below the path, and was
trying to shut out the picture. Nancy, still striving to quiet her
fear, heard some one telling what the scribbled note had said.

"Oh, Dorothy!" she whispered, eagerly, "Floretta is just where they know
how to find her, and they've promised to hurry, and bring her back."

"Are you _sure_?" Dorothy asked.

"Yes, _sure_!" said Nancy.

Then Nancy climbed into the big chair beside her, and the two little
girls sat, each tightly clasping the other's hands, while they waited
and watched for the first glimpse of the men who should return, bringing
Floretta with them.

Mrs. Dainty and Aunt Charlotte remained with Mrs. Paxton, who seemed to
have lost all control of herself.

One moment she would cry as if her heart would break, and then she
would spring up, threatening to follow the direction that the men had
taken, and try to reach the woods, thus to sooner see her little girl.

At last, after what seemed endless waiting, but was actually only an
hour, some one espied the men in the distance, and cried out:

"They're coming! They're coming!"

"Have they got Floretta? Oh, _have_ they found her?" shrieked Mrs.
Paxton.

"We can't see from here," said the one who had spoken, and the mother
rushed forward, shading her eyes with her hand, and straining to catch
the first glimpse of her child.

She would have rushed down the road to meet them, but Mrs. Dainty held
her back. She had seen that they were carrying Floretta, and she
thought, in case the child were injured, the mother would far better
save her strength.

Two of the men had clasped their hands to form an "arm-chair," and thus
they brought to the piazza, a very limp, tired Floretta, whose vivacity
was all gone, and whose face bore the trace of desperate weeping, while
her arms and hands were covered with cuts and bruises, and her little
frock was torn and tattered by her struggle with the tough and tightly
knotted vines.

She lay back against the shoulder of one man who supported her, and
looked as if her strength were spent.

She changed on the instant that they set her on her feet.

Rushing to her mother, she permitted her to clasp her for a moment to
her breast, then turning to the group that gathered around her, she
cried fiercely:

"Look! See my hands! See my arms! See the scratches, where I tried to
get away, and it was Sidney Cumston who tied me! He _did_ it, but the
other boys _let_ him. Not one tried to hinder him except Jack Tiverton,
the littlest one of them all. He tried to make them let me go, but they
wouldn't. Oh, somebody punish all but Jack! He _tried_, but he couldn't
help me."

She was hysterical, and sank to the floor of the piazza, sobbing, and
crying, before her mother could catch her.

She scrambled to her feet, and was clasped in her mother's arms.

Old Mr. Cunningham surprised every one by speaking most kindly to her.
She had so often tormented him that it seemed generous that he should
offer a bit of comfort.

"I don't think we shall let those young rascals escape without a sharp
reprimand, and if I was to venture a guess about it, I should say that
little Jack, after all, managed to help you, Floretta," he said.

She turned in surprise to look at the old face, that now looked so
kindly at her.

"Come out here, Jack," said the old gentleman, "didn't you write the
note that sent us searching for this little girl?"

"Yes, sir," said Jack, "and I wrote it 'cause I thought the other big
fellows were mean, but if they find out I told, they'll--"

"No, they won't," said Mr. Cunningham. "You're no 'tell-tale.' You did
just right, and the men here will stand by you. Those big boys were the
cowards to torment a little girl. You're the best boy up here in the
mountains."

"Three cheers for young Tiverton!" shouted some one, and in the midst
of the excitement, Mrs. Paxton, with her little daughter, slipped away
to their room, after having thanked little Jack for his valuable
assistance.

Meanwhile old Mr. Cunningham had been searching in this pocket and that
for something which he seemed most anxious to find.

"Ah, I knew I had it! Come here, Jack!"

Blushing and diffident, Jack walked over to the big rocker.

"'Tisn't much, boy, but I think you ought to have a medal. Here's a
silver dollar I've been keeping for a pocket piece. I'll give it to you
for a medal, for being brave enough to tell what you knew _ought_ to be
told. That's not tale-bearing, and as you were afraid to tell, for fear
of those big bullies, it was a brave act. You're a lad that knows
_what_ to do, _when_ to do, and then _does_ it!"

"Hurrah for Jack Tiverton!" some one cried again, and this time they
were given with a will.

Mrs. Tiverton, returning from a long drive, wondered what all the
excitement meant, and why they were cheering her little son.

Jack, with his silver dollar tightly clasped, hung his head, and looked
as if overpowered by his conspicuous position.

Dorothy, now bright and happy, since Floretta was safe, saw that Jack
hesitated.

"Oh, Mrs. Tiverton," she said, "Jack has been truly the _best_ boy in
the world, but he can't speak just now. When he tells you what he's
done, you won't wonder why they cheered him!"

Mrs. Barnet and Flossie, with Uncle Harry and his wife, now arrived in
their big automobile from a three-days' trip that they had been
enjoying.

Of course Dorothy and Nancy tried to tell Flossie all about Floretta and
Jack, and they were both so excited that Flossie got a very twisted idea
of the affair.

Uncle Harry, not dreaming that the matter was at all serious, turned,
after greeting the children, to enter the house.

"Oh, Uncle Harry!" cried Flossie, "you ought to hear about it. There
were ever so many big boys, and only one little girl, and they tied her
so she couldn't get away, and Jack wrote a note, and when they found
her,--"

"Now, Flossie, dear, I'm perfectly willing to be scared half out of my
wits, but I _must_ know what I'm being scared about. You're getting me
so mixed up that I've not the least idea what this is all about. Have
you?" he asked.

"Oh, no," said Flossie, "I don't _half_ understand it, but it does sound
so frightful, that I'm so scared, I need to have you be scared, too."

"Well, then," Uncle Harry replied, "if it will help you to know it, I'll
admit that my teeth are chattering, and shivers are running up and down
my spine!

"I thought at first that it was the draft across this piazza, but
perhaps, after all, it was caused by what you were telling me."

When, at last, he had heard the story, he was full of disgust that any
boy, and his friends, should have been guilty of such a contemptible
act, and his sympathy for the little girl was deep and sincere.

"She will need rest and quiet to-morrow," he said, "and you three
little friends will be kind, I think, if you stay rather closely here,
and help, in some quiet way, to amuse her."

"We will," said Dorothy, "I'll let her read my new fairy book if she'd
like to. She could lie in the hammock, and do that."

"I'll keep the hammock swinging," said Nancy.

"And I'll give her my new box of candy I just brought home," said
Flossie.

"That's right," said Uncle Harry, "and for your sweet promises of
kindness toward the child who has suffered so much to-day I'll remind
you that on day after to-morrow I shall give myself the pleasure of
taking you all to the fair. I promise you a _fine_ time."

He turned to look over his shoulder, and laugh at their wild little
cries of delight.

He was anticipating the pleasure quite as much as they.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dorothy, Nancy, and Flossie kept the promise that they had made, and
Floretta fully enjoyed their kindness. She seemed unusually gentle, and
Mrs. Paxton thanked them for so sweetly helping to amuse her, and thus
make her willing to spend the day quietly.

The day set for the visit to the village fair dawned bright and sunny, a
light breeze making it just cool enough to be delightful.

The barge was waiting for its gay little passengers.

The children stood with impatient feet on the piazza, waiting for their
host, merry, handsome Uncle Harry.

At last a firm tread caused them to turn, and there he was, looking
gayer than ever, a picture of health, strength, and kindliness, and
clad in a most becoming outing suit of light gray serge.

The blue of his tie was not bluer than his fine eyes, and no one could
have glanced at him without knowing that he possessed a generous, loving
nature, a kind and merry heart.

"Come, little friends!" he cried. "Is every young lady that I invited
here?" he added, looking anxiously lest some child be late, and thus by
chance, be left behind.

"Every one is here!" said Flossie. "I know because I've counted."

"Then we'll start at once, unless some one would rather wait 'til
to-morrow?" he said, his eyes twinkling.

"Oh, no! No!" they cried. "We just _couldn't_ wait!"

"In that case we'll go now!" he said, with a droll expression, as if he
started at once, merely as an accommodation.

"Why, Uncle Harry! You're only joking," cried Flossie. "You wouldn't be
willing to wait until to-morrow. I heard you tell Aunt Vera to hurry and
find your tie, because you were in such a rush to start!"

"To think that my own little niece would tell tales like that, and thus
let out the secret. What chance have I now, of making them think that I
was really very shy about riding with such a large party of girls?"

Shouts of laughter greeted this speech, and Uncle Harry waited until it
had subsided, then he said:

"Oh, well, if no one _believes_ that I am shy or diffident, it's waste
of time to try to appear so, so I shall not try. Instead, I shall be
very bold. Come, dears, let me help you in!"

And amid shouts of laughter from the children, he lifted each high in
air, and placed her in the barge, thus saving her the trouble of
mounting the steps.

Then taking his seat in the middle of the laughing, chattering little
party, he called to the driver to start.

The long whip cracked, Jack Tiverton, from the piazza, blew loudly on a
tin trumpet, and they were off over the road, the happiest party that
ever filled a barge.

Uncle Harry told some amusing stories, then, led by his fine voice, they
sang some gay little songs, and before they dreamed that they had
arrived at the fair, the driver shouted:

"Here we are!" and sure enough, they had reached the fair grounds.

"Why, I didn't suppose we were more than half-way here," said Dorothy,
"and the reason is that the ride has been so jolly."

"That's just it," agreed Nancy.

"The reason _I_ enjoyed the ride," said Uncle Harry, "is because I was
so charmed with my little guests."

"And the reason why we had such a fine ride," said Flossie, "is because
we had the _best_ man in the world taking care of us."

Uncle Harry bowed low.

"This must be a wedding party, if I'm the 'best man,'" he said with a
laugh, "so we'll not fuss because there's no musician to play a march
for us, but we'll play you are all bridesmaids, and we'll hurry right
along. The entrance is this way, I think, and under that evergreen
arch."

A large tent had been pitched for the display of the various wares and
numerous attractions; a smaller tent near it serving as fortune teller's
booth.

"We'll coax Uncle Harry to have his fortune told," whispered Flossie to
Dorothy, when, to their great surprise, he said:

"Oh, Flossie, you little witch! Uncle Harry heard what you said, and not
only is he going to have his fortune told, but he's going to make every
one of you little girls have yours told, also!"



CHAPTER VIII

AT THE FAIR


THE fair proved a great delight to the children. They had all been to
fine fairs patronized by fashionable matrons, whose names were quite
enough to insure success, but the country fair was an absolute novelty.

At the large city fairs, merry débutantes graced the booths, and sold
flowers, or tickets for the various games of chance.

Here in the mountain village all was different, and the novelty gave
greater interest.

Farmers' daughters were in the booths, and sold huge bouquets of
old-fashioned garden flowers, homemade candy, and honey, while one
rosy-cheeked lass dispensed sweet cider, or sweet apples, according to
the preference of her customer.

Uncle Harry purchased a huge stalk of hollyhocks for each of his guests,
but for himself he chose an enormous sunflower which he insisted looked
_fine_ in his buttonhole.

There was music, if it could be called music, furnished by the local
band.

Uncle Harry said he had never seen such independent people as those
musicians were. He declared that the music sounded, to him, as if each
man commenced to play when he chose, and stopped when he got ready,
regardless of what the other players were doing.

"Oh, I do believe that is the way they play!" cried Dorothy, laughing.

"Of course it is," cried Uncle Harry, "and a great deal of bother it
saves, for no one has to direct them; they do not know that they are
making discord, and thus they play and play with all their might, and
are absolutely care-free and happy."

There were heaps of giant pumpkins, and more red and yellow ears of corn
than they had ever seen before, while everywhere was laughter, and
friendly gossip, and chatter, that made the fair a jolly place in which
to roam about.

The children were determined to see every object in the big tent, and
while some were interested in one thing, others wished to see something
else, so they decided to divide into two groups.

One half of the little party turned to the right intent upon seeing some
gaudy patchwork quilts, while the others turned to the left declaring
their intention of investing all their pennies in the "fish-pond."

There were so many things to see on the way, that it was a long time
before they met, as they had agreed, at the entrance.

Somewhere on the way they had missed Uncle Harry, and they could not
imagine where he had gone.

It happened that Uncle Harry had seen a very small girl crying, and his
first thought was to help her, and thus dry her tears.

Upon questioning her, he found that the wee little maid had, by
accident, knocked a small doll from one of the tables, and had been
roundly scolded.

"That pretty girl with the black eyes says I did it a-purpose, but I
didn't," she cried, "I wanted to see it, and I just touched it, and it
tumbled off the table."

Her tears fell afresh, and in place of a handkerchief, she drew up her
blue-checked apron, and hid her face in it.

"Look up, little girl," Uncle Harry said, and his voice sounded so
kindly, that she at once peeped at him through her tears.

"Which is the table where all this happened?"

"That one," said the child, "and the big girl is looking at me now."

"Then give me your hand, and, just for fun, _we'll_ go and look at
_her_."

A moment she hesitated.

"Come," he said, and with a sunny smile, the little girl placed her hand
in his, and the big, handsome man with the wee country lass approached
the table together.

"I'll lift you up so you can see nicely," he said. "Now, which was the
doll that fell from the table?"

Before the child could reply, the girl spoke sharply.

"'Twas that one, sir, and her meddlesome fingers,--"

"Never mind about that," said Uncle Harry, then turning to the child he
said:

"Did you like that one best, or is that larger one finer?"

"That large one is the loveliest. I didn't _ever_ see one so fine as
that."

"We'll have that one, then," he said, offering a bill to the astonished
salesgirl.

"There, little girl, she's yours," he said, as he placed the big doll in
her arms.

"I can hold her a little while?" she asked, eagerly.

"You can hold her _always_, if you want to," he said gently, "I bought
her for you."

Rapturously she clasped the gift in her arms.

"Oh, I love you, because you are good," she cried.

"Then tell me your name," he said.

"I'm Lois Ann Ferguson," chirped the little girl, "and father is Sandy
Ferguson. Oh, there he is now. He's to play the pipes."

She ran toward a sturdy man dressed in Highland costume, and carrying
the bagpipes under his arm.

Mr. Ferguson glanced at her flushed cheeks, saw the gorgeous doll that
she flourished before his astonished eyes, and finally understood that
the tall, handsome stranger had bestowed it upon his wee daughter, as a
gift.

He took her little hand, and hurried forward, saying:

"I dinna ken why he should dae it for my wee lassie.

"I wad gladly thank ye, sir," he said, "but I'm lost in wonder that ye
made wee Lois sae blithe an' gay wi' the braw gift."

"She's a dear little lass," said Uncle Harry, "and when I found her
crying, I knew that a fine new doll would dry her tears. Don't bother to
thank me. I made myself happy, when I comforted her."

"I wish there were mair like ye," said Sandy Ferguson, "an' some day
when ye're older, an' ha' a wee daughter of yer ain,--"

"I have a wife and baby girl now," was the quick reply, "and they are my
dearest possessions."

"An' I thought ye a braw, bonny laddie, wi' yer fair hair an' blue een!
Weel, weel, ye dinna hae tae live 'til ye're auld before ye ken tae dae
a kindly act," Sandy Ferguson replied, "an' later when I play the
pipes, an' Lois dances, she shall make her first bow tae her new
friend."

"Oh, Uncle Harry, _did_ you buy the new doll for the little girl?"

It was little Flossie, who, after having searched every corner of the
tent, had found him talking to the Scotchman and his little girl.

"Is he your own uncle?" little Lois asked, looking up into Flossie's
lovely face.

"Oh, yes," said Flossie, "and he's the best uncle in the world."

"I know he must be," said the little girl. "See how good he was to me."

They turned to join the rest of their party, and little Lois looked over
her shoulder, with one hand held fast in her father's, while with the
other she tightly clasped the precious doll.

"I saw the notice near the entrance when we came in, that a Scotch
farmer would play, and his little daughter would dance," said Uncle
Harry, "but that child is not much more than a baby. She cannot be more
than four. It will be amusing to see her dance, and Nancy Ferris will
enjoy it most of all."

They found the others reading the notice of which they had been talking,
and they were delighted when they heard what a very little girl it was
who was to dance.

They had a lunch served by girls dressed as dairy maids, and it was just
such a lunch as might have been enjoyed at a farmhouse.

The long table spread with its white cloth, and set with blue and white
dishes, was decorated by a garland of small sunflowers that lay upon the
cloth, down the centre, and the entire length of the table.

There were plates heaped with biscuit, there were dishes of both wild
and cultivated strawberries, and delicious cream to be eaten with them,
there were sandwiches and little cakes, honey enough to tempt the bees
to the feast, and the children thought it finer than a hotel dinner. How
they laughed, and chattered, as they enjoyed the spread!

Uncle Harry was in his sunniest mood, and told stories and jokes that
kept them amused, and seemed to be the gayest member of the party.

"Tell us a story about when you were a _little_ boy," said Flossie.

"My small niece thinks I'm nothing but a _big_ boy now!" he said.

"Well, the big Scotchman thought you were only a lad. I heard him say
so," said Flossie.

"When you were a boy were you ever naughty, _real_ naughty?" Floretta
asked.

She had been very quiet, and all were surprised at her question.

"Once upon a time, when I was little," said Uncle Harry, "I was very,
_very_ fond of good things, but the one thing that I liked better than
anything else was strawberry jam.

"I was always allowed to have it, but I felt sure that it would taste
even nicer if I had more of it at a time, and still finer if I could
have a long handled spoon, and eat it right from the jar.

"I used often to think how fine it would be if I, some day, could have
the chance to eat it that way, but I never could get even _very_ near
the jar.

"One day the opportunity came. My sister and I were in the nursery, and
the maid had been down-stairs for a long time.

"The rest of the family were away, and we were to have our tea in the
nursery, as usual, only, as we had had to remain at home, we were to
have an extra treat.

"Among other good things, we were to have strawberry jam.

"My sister, that is Flossie's mamma, was a little older than I, and she
was always trying to give me lessons in good behavior.

"'Now, Harry,' she said, 'while nurse is down-stairs, we might commence
to set our table.'

"'There isn't anything here to set it with but the tablecloth and the
jam,' I said, 'but you're a girl, so you know how to put the cloth on,
and I'll bring the jam.'"

"I guess Uncle Harry was so fond of the jam, that he liked even to
carry the jar," said Flossie.

"We wondered why the nurse stayed so long down-stairs," continued Uncle
Harry, "and I told my sister that I was tired of waiting for tea, and I
said I'd taste of the jam, if only I had a long handled spoon.

"'Why, Harry,' she answered in disgust, 'I wouldn't think you'd be so
naughty, but,--if you really _want_ to taste it, here's the spoon beside
the jar.'"

"And _did_ you?" questioned Dorothy.

"Well, yes, I have to admit that I did. In truth, I tasted and tasted
until my sister cried:

"'Why, Harry, you naughty boy! When you get done tasting, there won't be
any left!'

"'You won't care, because _you_ wouldn't be so naughty as to taste it!'
I said.

"'Oh, wouldn't I?' she cried. 'Well, you just let me take that spoon,
and you'll see!'

"Well, a funny mix-up followed, in which we each tried to get possession
of the spoon and the jam. We were laughing while we struggled for it,
but at last, one of us slipped, and fell, dragging the other down; the
jar of jam tipped over, and her white frock, my gray jacket and
trousers, and even my long, yellow curls became smeared with the jam.

"Nurse opened the door, and screamed with terror, for the red jam looked
as if we had been terribly hurt, and it was some time before we could
convince her that we were not cut or bruised, but only _very sticky_!

"Then came the scolding, and my sister tried to screen me.

"'Harry couldn't help tasting it, he's so fond of jam,' she said.

"'Well, he's got a good share of it, inside and out,' said nurse,
grimly.

"'She's got as much as I have,' I said, 'just look at her frock!'

"Of course our clothes were changed, and the jam cleaned from the
polished floor, but we had our tea without jam.

"Nurse said we could eat our biscuits with the _memory_ of the jam we
had already enjoyed."

"Oh, Uncle Harry," cried Flossie, "I wish, even though you were naughty,
she'd let you have more jam. She didn't know how good you'd be when you
grew up."

"I still am fond of jam!" he said, and the children laughed to see him
pour honey over his berries that already were covered with sugar.

"You like _anything_ that's sweet!" said Dorothy, "whether it's jam, or
sugar, or honey,--"

"Or little girls," said Uncle Harry. "You notice, I made this party all
little girls, and I'm having a _lovely_ time."

"So are we," laughed Dorothy.

"And he says 'lovely' just as we do," said Nancy, "he does it to make us
laugh."

"Then why don't you laugh?" said Uncle Harry, and they _did_ laugh,
every member of the party, and laughed because they could not help it.

And when the merry feast was over, they hastened to the small tent where
the old gypsy was telling fortunes.

Each had intended to have her fortune told, and thus learn what the
future held for her.

To their great surprise, she flatly refused to tell any child's
fortune, saying that she would only foretell events for "grown ups." The
little girls were rather afraid of her, but Uncle Harry boldly offered
his hand, saying:

"Am I big enough to hear my fortune?"

"No nonsense, young lad," she said, while the children dared not laugh.
She bent over his palm for a moment, then she solemnly said:

"You're a brave lad, and you need to be for you will fall in love with a
girl who'll have red hair, and the temper that usually goes with it."

"O dear!" sighed Uncle Harry.

"Don't worry, young man," said the old gypsy, "because it will be some
months before you marry."

"Indeed," said Uncle Harry, "and what shall I do if the girl proves to
have the temper you prophesy? Shall I try to calm her by holding her
under a pump, or would you advise tying her until she feels less fiery?"

"Young man, this is no laughing matter," was the sharp reply.

"Guess it isn't!" said Uncle Harry. "I've seldom been so discouraged.
Here am I, a man who has a lovely wife and baby girl, and yet I've got
to marry a red-haired girl, with a temper like chain lightning! Who was
ever in a worse fix?"

The old gypsy flew into a rage. "You're poking fun at me!" she cried.

"There! There! The fun was worth that!" he cried, laying a handful of
small coins on the table before her.

In her eagerness to count the money, she forgot her wrath, and they
hastened from the tent, where, safely outside, they were free to laugh
as much as they chose.

As they re-entered the large tent, they saw that near the centre, a
space had been cleared, and there was a crowd of people waiting, as if
expecting some attraction to be exhibited.

They had not long to wait, for almost immediately the Scotch piper
appeared, and tightly clasping her precious new doll in her arms was wee
Lois, dressed in Highland costume.

Placing her doll on a table, and making sure that it was safe, she ran
forward, courtesied first to Uncle Harry, as she had promised, and then,
to the music of the pipes, the wee lassie did the "Highland Fling."

She was such a round, dimpled little girl, one would never have dreamed
that she could dance with such infantile grace.

And when she had finished, with another courtesy, they crowded around
her, and it was Nancy who most generously praised her. Dear little
Nancy, who danced like a fairy, never had a jealous thought in her
loving heart!

It was Uncle Harry who caught little Lois, and lifted her so that he
could look into her eyes.

"I want my dolly, now," she cried, anxious lest it be lost or stolen.
Dorothy brought the doll, and the child clasped it to her breast.

"My wee lassie said she wisht she had a gift tae gi' ye," said Sandy.

"I have a dear little girl of my own, and I prize her baby kisses," said
Uncle Harry. "Will _you_ give me one, little Lois?"

She clasped her arms around his neck, and kissed him softly.

"Best man next to father," she said.



CHAPTER IX

FLOSSIE'S LETTER


THE children said "good-by" to little Lois, and as her father carried
her away, she waved her hand to them.

"Wasn't she cunning?" said Dorothy.

"She was very sweet," said Nancy, "and how well she did her little
dance!"

"She didn't dance half as fine as you do, Nancy Ferris," said Floretta.
"You _know_ that."

"Oh, but I was trained for dancing," said Nancy, "and, beside, she was
very little to dance so cleverly."

Floretta made no reply, but she thought of what Nancy had said.

"Trained for dancing. She said she was _trained_ to dance. I wonder
where? I wish I knew, but I didn't quite dare to ask her."

Once more they walked around the big tent, and Uncle Harry purchased a
gift for each to carry home as a souvenir.

There were little baskets that the gypsies had woven, and fancy boxes
filled with woodland plants. The boxes were made from birch bark, and
were very dainty.

These the children prized, and lovingly they thanked him for the pretty
gifts.

At the candy table he purchased enough of the homemade bonbons to fill
the baskets, and then they left the tent to start on the homeward trip.

The barge was waiting for them, and they clambered in, tired, but very
happy.

"This is the nicest fair I ever went to," said Dorothy, "and I've had
so many good things that I'm going to save my basket of candy until
to-morrow."

"So am I," cried all the others.

"And so am _I_," said Uncle Harry, as he held up a huge basket filled
with all kinds of candy.

How they laughed, and accused him of having a "sweet-tooth."

"Now, just a moment!" he cried, as he held up his finger for silence,
"I'm taking this _big_ basket home to treat the _big_ ladies with. I
took the _little_ ladies with me, but I've not forgotten the _big_
ladies that I left at the hotel."

"Because you don't ever forget any one," said Flossie, and the others
cried:

"That's it! Just it! He does nice things for every one."

"Oh, spare my blushes," said Uncle Harry, but it was easy to see that
their affection for him pleased him.

The ride home seemed shorter than the trip to the fair.

They joined in singing the merry songs that his fine voice led, and the
horses, knowing that they were on the homeward trip, jogged along at a
better pace than when they had started out.

Uncle Harry had found some bells, and fastened them to their harnesses,
and they made a jingling accompaniment to the merry voices.

And when the barge drew up at the Cleverton, Uncle Harry, with elaborate
courtesy, handed each young lady down, bowing low, and thanking her for
the honor she had conferred upon him by permitting him to take her to
the fair.

"Oh, you do truly know we have to thank you for giving us such a lovely
day!" said Dorothy.

"But think how happy I have been," he said, and although his blue eyes
were laughing, they knew that he meant it.

"Oh, mamma, we had the finest time," cried Dorothy, "and see the fine
basket of candy and the pretty birch bark box! See the little ferns
growing in it. Isn't he _dear_?"

"He surely is charming," said Mrs. Dainty. "His generous, sunny nature
makes every one love him, and I believe he values the love of his
friends more than most things."

"He has been gay, and full of fun all day," said Nancy, "and it will
take a long time to tell you all the pleasant things he did for us. I do
wish you and Aunt Charlotte _could_ have been there when he had his
fortune told."

"And he couldn't have been any nicer to us if we'd been tall ladies,"
said Floretta.

"I hope every one of you little friends were real _little ladies_, thus
rewarding him for his kindness," Aunt Charlotte said, gently.

"Oh, we were," said Nancy, "not a single one of us did anything that
could trouble him."

"There were a number of little girls who only came here last week, so we
weren't much acquainted with them, but they were all very nice, and he
said he had as fine a time as we did," said Dorothy.

She climbed into a large hammock, and with Nancy beside her, sat
swinging, and thinking of the day that had been so delightfully spent.

Mrs. Fenton came out upon the piazza, and, instead of sitting down,
seemed to be looking for something.

"Can I help you?" said Nancy, slipping from the hammock, and hastening
toward her.

"I've mislaid my glasses," she said, "and I can't find them."

She did not thank Nancy for so kindly offering to help her, but Nancy
seemed not to notice that. She peeped under chairs, lifted their
cushions, and even looked between folds of newspapers that lay near at
hand, but the glasses were not in sight.

"How trying!" said Mrs. Fenton, "I have some letters that I wish to
read, and I can't read them until my glasses are found."

"Did you use them anywhere but just here?" Nancy asked.

Mrs. Fenton stood for a moment thinking.

"Seems to me I _did_ have them in the dining-room," she said.

"I'll go and ask the waitresses if they have seen them," said Nancy, as
she ran toward the hall.

She paused in the doorway, amazed at what she saw.

Floretta, with a pair of eyeglasses upon her small nose, was walking up
and down the room, as nearly as possible, in Mrs. Fenton's manner, and
exactly imitating her voice, while a group of waitresses, the cook, and
two kitchen maids laughed, and applauded her.

She cared not who composed her audience, so long as she obtained
applause. Floretta was, evidently, quite herself once more!

"Oh, Floretta!" cried Nancy, "you mustn't, truly you mustn't. Give me
the glasses. Mrs. Fenton is looking everywhere for them!"

"Well, I shan't give them to you!" said Floretta, rudely. "You aren't
Mrs. Fenton."

"But I've been helping her to hunt for them. She has some letters she
wants to read, and she can't till she has her glasses," insisted Nancy.

"Then let her come for them!" cried Floretta, when a quiet voice spoke.

"Very well, I _have_ come for them," it said, and there in the doorway
stood Mrs. Fenton.

The silly maids who had laughed so loudly, now hastily disappeared in
the kitchen.

Floretta dropped the glasses upon the table, and then, wholly ashamed,
crawled under it, where Mrs. Fenton's sharp eyes might not look at her.

Mrs. Fenton took the glasses, and without another word, swept from the
room.

Nancy, waiting in the hall, crept softly toward her, and gently laid her
hand on the lady's arm.

"I'm _so_ sorry she did that. I wish I could have got the glasses from
her, and brought them to you before you came to find them. Then you
needn't have known how naughty,--" Nancy caught her breath.

"Never mind that, Nancy. Remember, as _I_ shall, that _you_ were not the
naughty, disgusting child," said Mrs. Fenton, and she turned, with her
letters and glasses in her hand, and went up the long stairway to her
room.

It was nearly time to dress for dinner, which was always served
promptly at six.

Mrs. Dainty with Dorothy, and Aunt Charlotte with Nancy hastened to
their rooms, to freshen their toilettes, and Nancy realized that there
would not be time to tell Aunt Charlotte all about the unpleasant
happening.

"I've something to tell you, but I'll have to wait till we've plenty of
time," she said.

Aunt Charlotte, tying the soft, blue ribbon into the brown curls, looked
into the mirror before which they were standing, and smiled at the
thoughtful face.

"Will it keep until then, dear?" she asked.

"Oh, yes," said Nancy, "I only tell it to you because I love to tell you
everything."

"Dear child," said Aunt Charlotte, "I bless the day that you, as a
little waif, were taken in by Mrs. Dainty, and that I was asked to come
and care for you. I could not love you more if you were my own little
girl."

"I never saw my own mamma; she died when I was a baby," said Nancy, "so,
because you love me, you seem like my very own."

Gentle Aunt Charlotte's eyes were wet with happy tears, as she hooked
the pretty, white muslin frock, with its slip of light blue, and tied
the soft blue belt.

"Your shoes must be changed, Nancy," she said. "You know how particular
Mrs. Dainty is about the matter of shoes and stockings. They must match
the frock."

"Oh, yes," said Nancy, "and with this one she said: 'Wear blue
stockings and bronze slippers,' so I will."

She found the blue hose and the pretty bronze slippers, then, with elfin
grace, she caught the edge of her skirt, and with rosy, bare feet,
tripped across the floor in a graceful, gliding step, crying:

"Look, Aunt Charlotte, look! This pretty step Bonfanti taught me."

Aunt Charlotte did look, and as she watched the pretty child, and saw
her joy in dancing, she marvelled that little Nancy could smile as she
danced, remembering all that she had been taught, while apparently
forgetting all the unhappy months upon the stage.

She thought of poor little Nancy, forced to dance, night after night, to
support her old Uncle Steve, who was too lazy to support himself.

She thought of the time that the little pitiful note from Nancy had
reached them, and, together, she and Mrs. Dainty had found the child,
and brought her safely home.

She did not speak of all this. Nancy's happy little heart should never
be reminded of sad days that were past.

Now her life was filled with bright sunshine, the sunshine of love, and
it was reflected in her happy face.

A gong rang out a silvery note.

"Oh, my shoes!" cried Nancy, with a peal of merry laughter. "I wanted to
show you those pretty steps, and I forgot all about dinner."

It was the work of but a few seconds for Nancy to draw on the light blue
hose, and even less time to put on the pretty slippers. She ran to the
mirror, and courtesied, took a few tripping steps, smiling at her
reflection, and then hastened to the hall to join Dorothy.

[Illustration: SHE TOOK A FEW TRIPPING STEPS, SMILING AT HER
REFLECTION.--_Page 176._]

"All ready," cried Nancy, springing to her feet, to follow Dorothy.

A pretty pair they made as with arms about each other's waist, they
tripped along the hall.

Fair, blue-eyed Dorothy Dainty was very lovely in a pale pink frock with
soft frillings of fine lace. Her stockings were of the same shade, and
her shoes were white. Mrs. Dainty in dark blue satin, and Aunt Charlotte
in pearl color made, with the two children, a pleasing group.

In the lower hall they met Mrs. Paxton with Floretta, the former wearing
a gown of purple satin, while Floretta wore a frock of scarlet silk.
Mrs. Fenton, passing, on her way to the dining-room, looked sharply
at the two groups, and _did_ she look amused when her eyes rested upon
Mrs. Paxton, and her small daughter? Dorothy noticed the look, and
turned to her mamma.

Mrs. Dainty read the question in Dorothy's eyes, and ever so slightly,
shook her head, and they passed into the dining-room.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next morning, when the mail was distributed, there was great
excitement, because every one had so many letters.

"See mine!" cried Flossie Barnet. "Everybody see mine! It looks like
boy's writing. See it!"

"If some very young man wrote it, he might not be delighted to have it
so freely exhibited, Flossie," said Uncle Harry, with a laugh.

"Oh, why should he care?" she asked in surprise. "Who do you s'pose
wrote it? Guess, Uncle Harry!"

"Well, now let me think," said Uncle Harry, covering his eyes with his
hand, then peeping through his fingers.

"There's a small boy at home, who glories in the name of Reginald Merton
Deane. Open the letter, dear, and if I guessed right, you can give me a
prize, and if I'm wrong, I'll give you one."

Flossie studied the address for a moment, then she opened the letter,
and laughed with delight.

"I'll have to give you the prize, but why did he think to write to me?"

Dear little Flossie had never seemed aware that small Reginald preferred
her to any of his friends. Even when she was so little that she could
not pronounce his name, and called him "Weginald," he thought her the
dearest of all his playmates. And this was his letter:

          "DEAR FLOSSIE:

          "I miss you so much that I'm going to write, and
          tell you all the news.

          "Our old dog had a fit yesterday, and my brother
          got the vet'nary doctor. When he came, he said
          Carlo hadn't any fit. He was acting just awful. I
          said 'what makes him tare round so?' an he said
          maybe I'd tare round sum if I had a fish-bone in
          my throat! The doctor took it out, and then Carlo
          was so glad he tore round worsen ever!

          "Arabella Corryville is acting worse than Carlo
          did. You know her Aunt Matilda lives with them, an
          neether Arabella, or her pa, or her ma dare to do
          ennything without asking Aunt Matilda _first_.
          Well, her aunt has had to go way up to New
          Hampshur (I guess I didn't spell that rite) and
          Arabella thinks its just her chanse to act awful.
          Carlo is real quiet side of Arabella when she acts
          the way she does now.

          "She stays out doors most all the time, and goes
          just where she pleases.

          "Some days she's way down by the stashun until its
          almost dark.

          "You know she's always taking medesin, and carries
          the bottles in her pockets.

          "She carries em now, but she told me she's takin
          the kind she likes best. Theres two kinds her Aunt
          Matilda made her take, one tasted horrid, and the
          other tasted nice. Arabella threw the horrid one
          away, and ate the nice pills for candy. She told
          me this morning that her Aunt Matilda is coming
          home just for one day, and then they're all going
          up where you, and Dorothy, and Nancy are. I don't
          believe it, but if she does, and you see her, you
          needn't give my love to her.

                                "Your tru friend,
                                          "REGINALD."



CHAPTER X

A GIFT OF WILDFLOWERS


OF course, Dorothy and Nancy were greatly interested in the letter, and
Uncle Harry said that he was glad that Reginald had thought to say that
the fish-bone had been removed from Carlo's throat.

He said it would have seemed quite a trip to take to leave the
Cleverton, and go to Merrivale to feel Carlo's pulse, and inquire for
his health.

"Now that that bone is removed, I breathe easier," said Uncle Harry,
"and so does Carlo!"

"Oh, you wouldn't have gone home just to call on Carlo," said Flossie.

"Well, I don't know," he said, trying to look solemn, "I wouldn't like
Carlo to feel neglected, and now I think of it, does Reginald speak of
the cat?"

"No," said Flossie, "but when I answer the letter, I'll tell Reginald
you're anxious about her."

"I am," said Uncle Harry, "because the last time I saw her, Carlo was
barking at her very rudely, and her back was up in a hump like a
camel's. Reginald ought to have told us if her back is _still_ up, or
whether she has taken the kink out of her spine. We might telephone and
ask, instead of worrying."

He rose, and walked toward the hall, whistling as he went, an old
nursery song that he used to sing to Flossie.

          "The cat came fiddling out of the barn,
           With a pair of bagpipes under her arm."

How the children laughed!

"Look!" said Flossie, "he's going right toward the telephone, just to
make us think that he's _truly_ going to ring up Reginald, and inquire
for the cat."

"Who is Arabella?" Floretta asked.

"She lives near us," said Dorothy, "and she used to go to Aunt
Charlotte's private school with us."

"Doesn't she now?" asked Floretta.

"No, she left our class, and went to a large school in the city."

"By what the letter says, I'd think she was rather queer," said
Floretta.

"Well--" said Dorothy, hesitating, "Arabella _is_ queer."

"Why don't you like to say so?" was the sharp reply.

"Because Dorothy never likes to say anything that isn't kind about any
one, but Arabella _is_ queer, so Dorothy won't say she isn't," said
Nancy.

It was a few days later that Dorothy was reminded of what Reginald had
said in his letter to Flossie.

She was waiting for Nancy to go for a walk, and stooping to pick some of
the pretty wildflowers that blossomed everywhere.

She had walked slowly along toward the clump of white birches where,
when they had first arrived, they had called, and listened to the echo.

She looked back toward the hotel, but Nancy was not yet in sight, so she
seated herself upon the grass, and began to arrange the flowers in a
fine bouquet.

She was trying to mix the white blossoms and pink buds so as to show the
beauty of each, when a carriage passed, and before she looked up a
shrill little voice shouted:

"Dorothy! Dorothy! We're over at the farmhouse just beyond the
Merlington. Aunt Matilda wouldn't _let_ pa take us to a hotel. She
doesn't approve of hotels. Aunt Matilda says,--"

She was looking back to shout at Dorothy, and doubtless would have given
even more particulars, but a firm hand had hastily forced her to turn
around, and sit down.

Nancy ran along the path a few moments later, and her eyes were dancing.

"Did you see Arabella?" she asked. "_Did_ you?"

"Yes, just a few moments ago, and she turned around in the carriage and
screamed to me," said Dorothy.

"I can guess what she said," laughed Nancy, "because she screamed at
me. She told me she was staying at a farmhouse, and said that her Aunt
Matilda didn't approve of hotels."

"That is _just_ what she said," said Dorothy, "and she would have said
more but some one, I think it was her Aunt Matilda, pulled her back into
the carriage."

"Why, that's just the way it was when I saw her. I ran out on to the
piazza, and down the steps, and the carriage rolled by, and she twisted
round to shout. There was this difference, though," said Nancy. "You
were out here alone, and no one would know if you laughed, but when I
ran out, our piazza was full of people, and when Arabella shouted, you'd
ought to have seen them look.

"Flossie and her Uncle Harry were on the lawn, and as she rode past, he
said with a sigh:

          "'Arabella, Arabella,
            If I had my new umbrella,'

and I was wild to know the rest of it, but his wife, who was standing
near him, said:

"'Hush, Harry, really you mustn't,' and he only laughed, and said:

"'Oh, _mustn't_ I? Why, when I saw Arabella and her Aunt Matilda, I
really felt as if I _must_!'"

"Let's ask him what the rest of the verse is," said Dorothy.

"I'm wild to hear it," Nancy said, "because the very way he looked made
me think that the other lines, whatever they were, would be funny."

She stooped to gather more of the little blossoms to add to Dorothy's
bouquet, and then commenced to make a bouquet of her own.

"Arabella will be coming over to see you," she said, a moment later,
"and I wonder if it is naughty to say, 'I wish she wouldn't?' Do you
think it is?"

"I don't know," said Dorothy, "but I _do_ wish it. I wouldn't, only she
is so hard to please. Mamma wishes us to be nice to every one, but,
Nancy, you _do_ know that when we try the hardest to please Arabella, we
don't please her at all."

"I know it," agreed Nancy, "but perhaps she'll come some time when we
are out, and then we won't have to amuse her."

"I'm sure I ought not to say it, but I _do_ wish it would happen that
way," said Dorothy.

They had reached the birches, and they paused to wake the echo. What fun
it was to hear their shouts repeated.

Again and again they called, and then a droll thing happened. They had
called this name and that, and each time the echo, like a voice from the
mountain, had repeated it with wonderful distinctness. Then Dorothy,
leaning forward, called, loudly:

"Dorothy!"

"_What?_" came the reply.

She turned, and looked at Nancy. "Dorothy!" she cried, again.

"_Dainty!_" was the answer, and upon looking toward a little path that
was nearly opposite where they were standing, they saw the low bushes
move, and faintly they heard a smothered laugh.

Dorothy was laughing now.

"Boys!" she cried, and back came the laughing echo:

"_Girls!_" and then the boys peeped out a bit too far, and Dorothy saw
who had been playing echo.

It was Jack Tiverton and a boy whom he had chosen for a "chum." Jack had
not intended so soon to be discovered, and he and his friend disappeared
in a little grove, while Dorothy and Nancy continued their walk.

There were sunny paths and bits of woodland that were so near the hotel
as to be absolutely safe, where all the summer guests, especially the
children, loved to roam at will. Along one of these little paths were
sweet little yellow blossoms, and these they gathered to brighten their
bouquets.

"Let's have some of these little vines to hang from our bouquets," said
Dorothy, and the graceful vines proved to be an added beauty.

When they returned to the Cleverton there were but few people upon the
piazza.

Mrs. Dainty and Aunt Charlotte sat talking with Mrs. Vinton, and farther
along, Mrs. Fenton sat with an open book upon her lap, although she was
not reading.

She often had a book or magazine, but rarely did she read them.

She would sit looking off at the distant mountain-range, the white
clouds, or the sunny valley over which those clouds cast floating
shadows.

Did she hear the conversation, or notice what was going on about her?
Floretta Paxton said that Mrs. Fenton acted as if she sat there to watch
some one; and was Floretta right? Mrs. Fenton's actions certainly
seemed strange day after day. She talked little, took slight interest in
what was going on about her, and was a mystery to all the other guests.

But what, or whom could she be watching?

Dorothy and Nancy, returning from their walk, saw the group, and also
noticed Mrs. Fenton, who always chose to sit apart from the others.

"I'll give my flowers to mamma and Mrs. Vinton," said Dorothy.

"And I'll give mine to Aunt Charlotte and to Mrs. Fenton,--if she wants
them," said Nancy, hesitating because it was so hard to guess what
might, or might not, please Mrs. Fenton.

Dorothy ran to show her blossoms to her mamma and to Mrs. Vinton, while
Nancy, pausing beside Mrs. Fenton's chair, held forth her pretty
bouquet, as she said:

"We've just gathered them. Aren't they pretty?"

"Lovely, very lovely," said Mrs. Fenton, with more interest than usual.
"I remember picking just such flowers; even the long vines I know are
like those I used to see when I was a little girl."

"Would you enjoy some of these? I'd so like to give them to you," Nancy
said, and she was surprised at the quick reply.

"I would really prize them, Nancy, and you're a sweet child to give them
to me," she said.

Quickly Nancy divided the bouquet, and smiled as she laid the pretty
things in Mrs. Fenton's lap.

"I cannot let them wilt, so I will take them at once to my room," said
Mrs. Fenton, and Nancy saw her bend to catch their perfume, as she
turned toward the hall.

That night, when nearly all the guests had entered the dining-room, Mrs.
Fenton came in at the main entrance, and as she sat nearly opposite Mrs.
Dainty's party, they noticed that the bodice of her black lace gown was
given color by the pretty wildflowers that Nancy had given her. They
were the first flowers that she had worn since her arrival.

Nancy smiled with pleasure, and Mrs. Fenton, looking across the table,
returned the smile.

Had the gift of simple wildflowers cheered her?

Thus far she had worn only black, but to-night a dull gold slip
shimmered through the black lace; and were her eyes brighter?

Nancy thought so, and without knowing why, was glad.

There was a musicale in the evening, and Mrs. Fenton joined Mrs. Dainty
and Aunt Charlotte, and seemed to enjoy the conversation, between the
numbers of the program.

Once, while she was talking, she laid her hand lightly upon Nancy's
shoulder, and Nancy looked up to smile. Aunt Charlotte saw that the lady
was more cheerful, and also noticed that she wore Nancy's flowers. The
evening passed pleasantly, and Nancy's drowsy words, just before she
went to sleep, were:

"I do really think I cheered her."

       *       *       *       *       *

A few days later Mrs. Dainty invited Mrs. Fenton to be her guest during
a drive over a lovely road that neither of them had yet seen. It was
said to be one of the most picturesque roads in that section of the
country.

Mrs. Fenton accepted, and with Aunt Charlotte and Mrs. Vinton they
formed a pleasant party.

Dorothy and Nancy were to drive in their little phaeton, and they felt
quite as important as the four ladies in the barouche.

True, Mrs. Dainty owned a handsome span of bays, but was not the pony,
Romeo, a beauty?

The road was some distance from the Cleverton, and there were some
charming places to be seen on the way, so it happened that the trip,
which proved to be most enjoyable, occupied the afternoon.

Mrs. Paxton had a number of letters to write, and Floretta, feeling very
lonely, and wishing that she had some one to play with, climbed into a
hammock, and wondered what she might do to amuse herself.

"Every one but me has gone somewhere, and I wish _I_ had," she said, as
she gave a smart kick that sent the hammock higher.

"What's the fun of swinging alone?" she grumbled, but there was no one
on the piazza to answer her, and she let the hammock sway lazily while
she looked down the sunny road, and thought how strange it was that the
place seemed so still.

Not a leaf stirred, and Floretta's disgust increased.

"Nothing in sight, not even an old hen," she said, when, way down where
the road looked so narrow and distant, a little figure appeared, coming
directly toward the Cleverton. She watched the approaching figure, and
wondered who it might be.

"'Tisn't any one I know," she thought, "and _doesn't_ she look queer?"

Any one who had ever known Arabella Corryville would also have known
that she always looked decidedly odd and strange, and it was Arabella
who was marching steadily along the road.

So determined was her tread that one might have thought that there was a
band behind her playing martial music to which she was obliged to keep
step.

"Well, whoever she is, she's carrying an umbrella, this pleasant day,"
murmured Floretta; then as she came near, she added:

"And wearing rubbers and a raincoat, as true as I live!"

Arabella was more bundled and wrapped than at first appeared, for, as
she came up the gravel walk, Floretta saw that a long veil was closely
tied over her hat, and wound about her throat.

From her appearance one might have thought that she expected freezing
weather before night.

She walked up on to the piazza, and then stood, for a moment, looking
about, as if in search of some one.

It was not politeness that prompted Floretta to speak. It was simply
curiosity. She was wild to know who the strange-looking child was, and
whom she wished to see.

"Are you looking for some one?" she asked, at the same time slipping
from the hammock, and going so close to Arabella that she could peep
into the queer little face.



CHAPTER XI

ARABELLA MAKES A CALL


ARABELLA peered at Floretta through her spectacles, and was tempted not
to reply, but after a moment's pause she changed her mind.

"I came to see Dorothy Dainty, and Nancy Ferris," she said.

"They're out driving," said Floretta.

"How do you know?" Arabella asked, rudely.

"Because I heard them say they were going, and because I saw them go,"
was the quick reply.

"It's a long way over here, and now I've got to take the same walk
back," said Arabella.

"They're going to be out all the afternoon," said Floretta, "but why
don't you sit down, and rest a while before you go back?"

It sounded kind, and Arabella at once seated herself, while Floretta sat
near her.

She thought it would be great fun to question this odd child, and there
was no one near to check her.

"Aren't you nearly roasted in that raincoat?" she asked.

"Well, I'm not chilly," said Arabella, fixing her sharp eyes upon the
other little girl.

"Did you think it was going to rain?" was the next question. "You've
rubbers, and umbrella."

Floretta barely managed to hide the fact that she wanted to laugh. Her
question seemed so absurd with the blue sky overhead, and the sunshine
everywhere.

"I didn't want to wear them," said Arabella, "and I told Aunt Matilda it
was too pleasant to rain, but she said you never could tell, and she
said, too, that I could wear them, or stay at home, so what could I do?"

"_I'd_ have stayed at home," said Floretta, bluntly. "I wouldn't wear
raincoat and rubbers, and lug an umbrella for any Aunt Matilda or Aunt
Jemima!"

"Who is Aunt Jemima?" Arabella asked, stupidly.

"I don't know," said Floretta, sharply, "but then, I don't know your
Aunt Matilda."

She longed to say that she did not want to, but for once she did not
quite dare to say what she thought.

Then there was an awkward pause. Floretta could not think what to say
next, while Arabella did not try.

Silence never made her uneasy. She could stare at any one who sat
opposite her, for a half-hour, without so much as winking, and it rather
amused her if the other person became nervous, and wriggled uneasily
beneath her persistent stare. At last Floretta spoke.

"You might take some of those things off," she said; "you won't need
them while you stay."

"Aunt Matilda told me not to," said Arabella, "and if I _did_, it would
be just my luck to have her come right by here, and see me with them
off. My! _Wouldn't_ she be angry?"

Arabella's eyes dilated as she asked the question.

"Does your Aunt Matilda poke 'round after you like that?" asked
Floretta.

"She doesn't ever _seem_ to follow me, but all the same, she's always
catching me doing something."

"Then you _do_ risk doing what she tells you not to," said Floretta,
with a saucy laugh.

"Look here!" cried Arabella, "I don't know you, but I'm going to tell
you something. I can't do one single thing I want to, neither can my
papa or mamma. Aunt Matilda is little, and my papa is big. He says he
was centre-rush on the college football team, but when Aunt Matilda
tells him what to do, he says, 'Yes'm,' and does it. One of our
neighbors at home says Aunt Matilda holds the purse-strings, but I don't
know what that means. Her purse hasn't any strings on it."

"Well, if it _had_, I'd cut 'em off," said Floretta, "so she _couldn't_
hold 'em."

"You wouldn't if she lived at _your_ house," said Arabella.

Floretta, in spite of her boldness, was more than half convinced.

"Well,--perhaps I wouldn't," she said. "Why, what are you taking?"

"Pills," said Arabella, counting out six very pink pills from a little
bottle, and taking them, then making a horrid face.

"You don't look sick," said Floretta, "but you're taking medicine."

"Aunt Matilda says these are for my color," was the answer.

"You haven't any; you're pale as a sheet," said Floretta.

"That's why I take them," said Arabella, "and look! I've got some green
ones I take," and six green pills followed the pink ones.

"Why, what are those for?" gasped Floretta. "Ought you to take two kinds
at the same time?"

Arabella, determined to startle her new acquaintance, took a third
bottle from her pocket, and swallowed three very large white pills.

She was delighted with the effect that she had produced.

Floretta sprang to her feet, and tried to snatch the bottle, but
Arabella had put it in her pocket, and was holding the pocket together.

She narrowed her shrewd little eyes, and smiled broadly.

"Guess you couldn't take all that, and not feel queer!" she said.

"I wouldn't wonder if you felt funny. _Do_ you?" asked Floretta.

"Not _yet_," said Arabella.

Floretta was getting tired of her caller. She hoped that she hadn't any
more kinds of medicine that she could take.

She wished that Dorothy would return and amuse Arabella.

She would have run away from any one else, and rudely left her alone,
but there was something so strange about this child that she feared her.

She had a nervous feeling that if she turned to leave her, Arabella
might snatch at her, and draw her back. She certainly did look odd.

There was something catlike in the way in which she kept her eyes
riveted upon Floretta.

She looked as if, at any moment, she might spring at her!

She was not thinking of doing anything of the sort, however.

The truth was that she _did_ feel just a bit queer.

Was it the three kinds of pills? She could not tell, but she began to
feel as if she would be glad if she were at home.

"I guess I'll go now," she said. "I think it must be time."

"What time did your Aunt Matilda tell you to come home?" Floretta asked.

"She said I could stay to dinner if Dorothy asked me, but she doesn't
come home, so I guess I won't wait."

"Go to dinner at the Cleverton in that plaid gingham!" thought Floretta,
for she had seen the plain little frock beneath the raincoat.

[Illustration: SHE OFFERED TWO CARDS TO FLORETTA.--_Page 210._]

Arabella grasped her big umbrella firmly, and turned, as she went down
the steps, to say:

"You may tell Dorothy Dainty that _Miss_ Corryville called."

Floretta giggled.

"And you might tell your Aunt Matilda that you talked with _Miss_
Paxton," she said.

"I will," said Arabella, without a sign of a smile.

"I wonder you don't leave cards," said Floretta, and to her surprise,
the queer child put her hand in the pocket of her raincoat, and, without
looking at them, offered two cards to Floretta, saying:

"There they are."

Then, without looking back, she marched resolutely down the road. She
did not thank Floretta for talking with her while she rested, nor did
she say "good-by."

For some moments Floretta stood watching the odd little figure as it
tramped down the road, the umbrella, like a huge walking stick, thumping
the gravel at every step. She thought Arabella would turn around, but
she did not.

One might have thought that she had already forgotten the child with
whom she had been talking. When, at last, she disappeared behind a clump
of trees that hid the curve of the road, Floretta looked at the two
cards in her hand, stared at them in amazement, and then laughed,
laughed until her eyes were full of tears.

Who could have helped laughing? One card bore these lines:

             JAMES HORTON WORTH,
             PAINLESS DENTISTRY,
          10 TREVOR STREET, MERRIVALE.

While the other, equally interesting, bore this statement:

              ALTON JUSTUS MEER,
                  JEWELLER,
          90 RUPERT ROAD, MERRIVALE.

"How perfectly funny," cried Floretta. "I'll run up and show them to
mamma, and then I'll wait here to give them to Dorothy and Nancy when
they come. I wonder if they'll have any choice?"

Dorothy and Nancy felt, as did the older members of the party, that the
ride had been the most delightful of any that they had enjoyed since
their arrival.

The horses were tossing their manes, and Romeo, as if in imitation,
tossed his so that it showed all its silken beauty.

"See him!" cried Dorothy. "He thinks he's as fine as any horse."

"Well, he is as dear as they," said Nancy.

"Oh, yes," said Dorothy, "and dearer."

And when the horses and the pony had been led around to the stable, and
the older members of the party had reached the piazza, Dorothy and
Nancy, who had paused for a moment to talk, ran up the steps, intending
to sit together in a large rocker.

Before they reached the chair, Floretta flew toward them.

"You had a funny caller while you were out driving," she said, with a
giggle, "and she was so very fashionable that she left these cards. She
told me to tell you that _Miss_ Corryville had called."

"It was Arabella," said Nancy.

"Did she truly say '_Miss_?'" Dorothy asked.

"Well, didn't I _say_ so?" Floretta asked rudely; "and I told her to
tell her Aunt Matilda that she talked with _Miss_ Paxton, and she said
she would. She waited a long time for you to come home, because she said
she meant to stay to dinner with you. Say! She had on a calico dress!
Wouldn't she have looked gay?"

"It isn't very kind to laugh at any one's clothes," said Dorothy, "and
it's not very nice to laugh at other people's friends."

"Pooh!" cried Floretta, "I shall laugh at whoever I please," and she
turned and ran up to her room.

But she had laughed once too often! During the ride, Mrs. Fenton had
spoken of Floretta's rude ways, and of the day when, upon following
Nancy to the dining-room, she had caught the provoking child in the act
of mimicking her.

"Your little Nancy was grieved and distressed because she knew that I
saw it. What a difference there is in children! The Paxton child is
disgusting, while Nancy, who, I have heard, was a little waif, is as
gentle as Dorothy, who was born the little daughter of a fine, old
family."

Aunt Charlotte and Mrs. Dainty had told Mrs. Fenton something of Nancy's
life, and noticed how deeply interested she seemed to be.

Mrs. Paxton had realized that ever since the day that Floretta had told
of being caught mimicking Mrs. Fenton for the amusement of the
waitresses and maids, Mrs. Fenton had shunned them. She had made
desperate efforts to win Mrs. Fenton's friendship, but never very
successfully, as she found that her little daughter's silly act had
rendered any intimacy quite impossible.

A few days after the ride, Mrs. Fenton did not appear at lunch, or at
dinner, and when Mrs. Paxton, with elaborate interest, inquired for her,
she learned that the lady had left very early that morning, before any
guests were on the piazza to see her depart.

It certainly did seem odd that she should have left, without a word to
those whom she had known, but Mrs. Dainty, with her customary good
taste, made no comment, and Aunt Charlotte Grayson was equally silent.

Mrs. Paxton did just as one might have expected. She expressed, in a
very loud voice, her disgust at being thus pointedly slighted, for so
she chose to feel.

"After all my friendliness, I can't see how she could leave the
Cleverton without so much as a word to me. Why, I felt almost like a
relative, as my name was Fenton before I married!"

"I guess Mrs. Fenton didn't have what you might call a family feeling,"
said old Mr. Cunningham, which so angered Mrs. Paxton that she politely
turned her back.

Two letters arrived at the Cleverton that afternoon, and it would be
difficult to say which caused the greater surprise.

Mrs. Paxton told the contents of hers to all who would listen, and there
were enough who were curious, to make a good audience.

"TO MRS. CLARA FENTON PAXTON:" it began, refraining from any endearing
terms.

"I knew, before I met you, that you and your small daughter were related
to my husband, and also knew that he entertained no admiration for you.
He left his entire estate to me, and as you were but a distant relative,
you could expect no inheritance. However, with a determination to deal
fairly with all my kin (I have but three such), I came to the Cleverton
to see you and your little daughter, intending, if she proved
sweet-tempered and attractive, to will my property to her. She is the
only one of the three relatives who bears my husband's name.

"I do not wish to be harsh, but I am forced to admit that I find her to
be bold, naturally unkind, and wholly lacking in the grace and courtesy
which most children possess, either by training or inheritance.

"I, therefore, have made my will in favor of Nancy Ferris, once a little
waif, now a sweet, gentle, and attractive child, whose little acts of
courtesy and kindness are fully appreciated by

                                     "Her friend,
                                         "CECILIA CULLEN FENTON."

"A most singular woman, to leave her property to a waif, a child of the
theatre, and not bequeath so much as a penny to my Floretta, whom _any_
one could see is an aristocrat," said Mrs. Paxton.

"Mrs. Fenton, or anybody else, would need some rather strong glasses to
see _that_!" muttered Mr. Cunningham.

He was a testy old fellow, and he, like other guests of the hotel, had
become exceedingly tired of Mrs. Paxton and her unlovely child.

The other letter gave surprise and delight to the two who had shared in
the care and training of little Nancy.

"TO MRS. RUDOLPH DAINTY, AND TO MRS. CHARLOTTE GRAYSON,

"DEAR FRIENDS:--" was its greeting, and then followed the story of the
writer's visit to the Cleverton, and the statement that her few
relatives were too distant to have any valid claim to her estate.

"I was greatly displeased with the two of my kin whom I came to observe,
and I will not dwell upon that, but, instead, will take this time to say
that Dorothy Dainty and Nancy Ferris, are the two dearest children that
it has been my pleasure to know.

"Dorothy's life has been sunny, and Nancy's story, as you told it to me,
appealed to me, and I looked with even greater interest at the child
who, under your loving care, had blossomed like a lovely flower.

"Dorothy has her parents, and will inherit a fortune. Nancy has no
parents, and I know, will be kindly cared for by you, but that fact
will not deter me from making a bequest that gives me greatest pleasure.

"I shall leave all of my estate to Nancy Ferris, and I remind her, in
some little verses that I enclose, how deeply I have appreciated her
many little kindnesses.


TO NANCY

          "Dear little girl, I know that you will daily
           Do loving acts of kindness, and of cheer,
           Thus urging life to sing its song more gaily
           And making friendship lasting and more dear.

          "I felt your charm, dear child, I saw how sweetly
           You gave your kindness, with no thought of gain.
           I give you a reward, and how completely
           I joy in giving, words cannot explain."



CHAPTER XII

A SERENADE


JACK TIVERTON stood in the lower hall one morning, and appeared as if
waiting for some one. In his hand was a short switch that he had cut
from a shrub that grew beside the driveway. Often he looked up the
staircase, and then, as no one appeared, he would continue to strike at
the flies that flew past the doorway.

At last he heard merry voices upon the landing, and then Dorothy and
Nancy came hurrying down the stairs.

"Good morning!" they called, but Jack, in his eagerness to ask
questions, forgot to return their greeting.

"Say!" he cried, "do you know that Mrs. Paxton and Floretta left this
morning before breakfast?"

No, the little girls did not know that.

"Well, they have. I saw them go, and I'm glad. Floretta was fun to play
with, but she wasn't fair. She'd get me to do things, and then if we got
caught, she'd always say I planned it," said Jack.

Dorothy tried to think of something kind to say of Floretta, but she
knew that what Jack said was true. Floretta truly was not in the habit
of playing "fair."

"Her mamma said something queer just as she was going off. She was
talking to a lady, I don't know what her name is, and Mrs. Paxton said:

"'Well, Dorothy Dainty has always seemed to be fond of Nancy, but now
that Nancy is to have a _fortune_, shell love her a deal more than she
ever did before.'"

And now Dorothy spoke, her blue eyes flashing, and her cheeks flushed.

"That's not true!" she cried. "That's not true! I've always loved Nancy,
and always will. I'd love her if she had just nothing at all! Nothing
could make any difference. I love her all I can. Nancy knows that. Every
one knows that."

How keenly she felt Mrs. Paxton's silly speech!

She was indignant that any one should think her love for Nancy so little
worth while that fortune could make it stronger.

How could she love Nancy more than she had always loved her?

Nancy threw her arms about her, and drew her closer.

"Don't you mind, Dorothy," she said, "_I_ know how truly you love me.
Mrs. Paxton didn't know, because I guess she couldn't understand it.
_She_ couldn't love the way you do."

Dorothy smiled through the tears that had filled her eyes.

"There's no one dearer than you, Nancy," she said.

Jack swung his switch at a dragon-fly that flew past the doorway.

"Did you see that darning-needle?" he asked.

"Well," he continued, without waiting for an answer, "I was down the
road a few days ago, trying to catch some of those big steel-colored
ones in my fly-net. I hadn't seen any one after I left this piazza, but
just as I swung my net round to catch the dragon-fly, somebody said:
'Look out, or you'll get bitten!' and I turned round, but no one was in
sight. I was just going to swing my net again, when some one giggled,
and then I saw a little skinny girl looking at me from between some
bushes."

"What was she doing?" Dorothy asked.

"You couldn't guess if you tried for a month!" said Jack.

"She was sitting on a big stone, beside a big puddle that was left there
after the shower. She said she was playing she was a frog, and when she
stared at me through her glasses, and smiled, no, _grinned_ at me, I
couldn't help thinking she looked like one. Say, she had on a green
cloak, a regular frog-color."

"It must have been _Arabella_!" said Nancy.

"I don't know what her name was. I didn't ask her, but while I watched
her she hopped off the stone into the puddle with both feet, and cried,
'po-dunk!' just like an old bullfrog. My! Weren't her shoes wet!"

"I wonder what her Aunt Matilda said when she went home with wet feet,"
said Dorothy.

Without noticing what she said, Jack continued.

"I never saw such a queer girl!" he said, in disgust, "for when I told
her dragonflies would never bite, she said: 'They will. They'll sew your
eyes, and nose, and mouth up. Po-dunk!' and she hopped back on to the
stone, and grinned at me just as she did at first. Say! She made me feel
queer to look at her, and I turned and ran away. I wasn't afraid of her,
of course, but she _did_ make me feel queer!"

"She'd make any one feel queer," said Nancy as they turned toward the
dining-room.

Jack wished that they might have stayed longer in the hall. He had
intended to ask them if they knew Arabella, and if she was always doing
queer things, but Mrs. Dainty and Aunt Charlotte joined them, and they
went in for breakfast.

Mrs. Tiverton, coming in from an early walk, took Jack with her to the
other side of the dining-room. He looked across at them, and wondered
what they could have told of Arabella if they had had a chance. He
decided to question them, whispering softly to himself:

"I'll _make_ them tell me all they know about that funny girl."

For several days he tried to catch Dorothy or Nancy at a time when he
could question them.

He chased Dorothy up the long stairway one morning, only to see her
disappear into her room. He had not told her that he had wished to talk
with her, and she, believing that he was only chasing her for fun, ran
from him, laughing as she went.

He found Nancy, a few minutes later, and coaxed her to wait on the
landing.

"Now, Nancy," he said, "you've got to tell me something about that queer
girl that you and Dorothy know."

"If you mean Arabella," said Nancy, "I don't see what I could tell you,
only that she _is_ queer, and you know that now."

"You'll better believe I know it!" cried Jack, "for I met her again
yesterday, and guess what she was doing!"

"Oh, I couldn't," said Nancy. "No one ever could guess what Arabella
Corryville would do."

"Well, she looked like a witch, and acted like one, too," Jack replied.
"It was yesterday that I saw her. I was going across the field, and had
nearly reached the wall, when I looked up, and saw her sitting on the
top bar of the--the--oh, the place where they take down the bars to let
the cattle through."

"I know where you mean," said Nancy, "but why was it strange that she
was sitting there?"

"It was what she was doing that was funny," Jack replied, "and because
you couldn't guess, I'll tell you.

"She didn't look toward me, though I'm sure she must have heard me
coming, for I was just tramping along, and whistling all the way. She
was looking up at the clouds, and counting, 'one--two--three--' very
slowly, and when I was close behind her, she said:

"'Hush--sh--sh! I'm charming the crows!'

"'How long does it take to do it?' I said, for it sounded like nonsense,
and I wanted to hurry. It was almost lunch time.

"'Hush--sh!' she said again. 'There comes one of them now!' and sure
enough a big, black crow did come flying right down, and perched on the
limb of an old tree near her."

"Why, Jack Tiverton," cried Nancy, "you don't believe Arabella really
_made_ him come down, do you?"

"Of course not," cried Jack, "but she wanted me to think so. Say! She
said she was saying a charm, and when I asked her what it was, she
wouldn't tell me. She said it would spoil the charm to tell it. She
looked funny sitting up there on the top rail, and staring at the crows
till her eyes watered. She didn't look like a 'charmer.' She looked
ever so much more like a scarecrow!"

"Oh, Jack, it's horrid to say that!" cried Nancy, at the same time
trying not to let him see how near she was to laughing.

"Well, she _did_!" Jack insisted, "and you're almost laughing now, Nancy
Ferris, and you'd have screamed if you'd seen her roosting there, and
calling herself a charmer! Why, that old crow just flopped down there
for fun, and when he saw the queer-looking girl, he cawed as if it made
him mad, and I didn't blame him. Say! She had a shoe on one foot, and a
slipper on the other. Her apron was put on back-side-to, and she had a
hen's feather in each hand, and she waved them up and down while she
mumbled some kind of a verse. She said her clothes were put on that way
to help the charm. Isn't she a _ninny_?"

Just at that moment, before Nancy could reply, Mrs. Tiverton called
Jack, and Nancy ran to tell the story of Arabella's latest freak to
Dorothy.

       *       *       *       *       *

One afternoon, a number of little girls were sitting on the piazza at
the Cleverton, and their merry voices attracted Jack Tiverton, who
glanced up from the book that he was reading, and then, because he was
curious to know what so interested them, crossed the piazza, and joined
the group.

Dorothy and Nancy, in the big hammock, held the book of fairy tales,
Flossie Barnet sat near them, while the others, all little guests at the
hotel, sat upon the railing, or in the large rockers that stood near.

Jack joined the row perched upon the railing.

"Tell a fellow what you are all talking about, will you? Will you,
_please_, I mean?" he asked.

"Dorothy Dainty has been reading us a lovely story," said a little girl,
whose merry eyes showed that she had enjoyed it.

"What's it about?" Jack asked, and then, "Oh, _fairy_ tales!" he said.

"Don't you like fairy tales?" Flossie questioned, looking up at him.

No one liked to differ with dear little Flossie, least of all, Jack
Tiverton.

"Oh, I like them _some_," he said, awkwardly, "but,--are there any
stories about bandits or pirates in that book?"

"Oh, no," they cried, in a laughing chorus, "and there aren't any wild
Indians in it, either."

"I don't care much about Indian stories," Jack replied, "but I do like
to read about pirates."

"But just hear what this one was about," said Nancy.

"The wandering prince had, for years, been searching for a lovely
princess, who should look like a beautiful picture that hung in his
father's palace. One day he came to a castle where the people told him a
handsome princess was imprisoned, and he asked why she was kept there.
They told him that she was enchanted, and that some day, a wandering
prince would sing beneath her window, and then the spell would be
broken, and she would be free."

Jack was interested.

"But s'posing he couldn't sing?" he asked.

"Oh, a prince could surely sing!" said Flossie.

"And p'raps he could sing under her window, if he couldn't anywhere
else," ventured a dreamy-eyed little girl who sat near Dorothy.

"And how would he know _what_ to sing?" a cheery voice questioned, and a
pair of merry eyes peered over the piazza railing.

"Oh, Uncle Harry!" cried Flossie, "what difference would it make?"

"All the difference in the world," declared Uncle Harry, "for while the
proper melody would set the princess free, how are we to know that the
wrong melody might not chain her closer than before!"

"Why, the story doesn't say that," said Nancy.

"Perhaps not, but the prince took an _awful_ risk when he chose what to
sing," declared Uncle Harry.

"You're laughing when you say it," said Dorothy.

"He is," agreed Flossie, "and what he says is funny, but I know this:
I'd love to hear some one singing under _my_ window!"

Some ladies, who sat near enough to hear the conversation, were amused
at the children's enthusiasm, and at Uncle Harry's evident interest.

"The prince had his guitar slung over his shoulder by a ribbon," said
Dorothy. "See the picture," and she slipped from the hammock, and
offered the book that he might see the illustration.

"I'm glad he carried his guitar instead of a banjo," he said.

"Why are you glad of that?" Flossie asked.

"Oh, because I really _am_, in fact, I might even say I am delighted,"
he replied.

"I do believe he intends to serenade those children," said a handsome
woman, to her friend who sat beside her; "he is a brilliant man, and one
who is blessed with many talents, and one of his greatest charms is his
love of children. He will go far out of his way to afford them a bit of
fun."

That evening, when nearly every one had left the piazza, and all of the
children were in their rooms, the soft twanging of guitar strings
floated up toward Flossie's window.

She was not yet asleep, and she sat up in bed, and listened.

Yes, it was a guitar! Was it Uncle Harry's?

A little prelude softly played, drew her toward the window.

She crept closer, and peeped out. Yes, there he was, looking right up
toward her window.

Now his fine voice was softly singing, and Flossie held her breath.

          "Under thy window, my little lady,
           Under thy window, Flossie dear,
           Here where the moonbeams softly flicker,
           Sing I this song that you may hear.

          "Moonlight, and starlight weave enchantment,
           Yet shall my song your freedom bring,
           You shall be happy little lady,
           Give me your love for the song I sing."

"Oh, Uncle Harry, you have it _now_!" cried Flossie. "I love you, when
you're singing, and _all_ the time."

"I know that, dear little girl, but I _must_ have my fun, so I came here
to sing the song I made for you," he said gently.

"Well, you're _dear_," she cried, "and I'll throw you a kiss," and she
did, reaching far out of the window that he might surely see her.

"I caught it!" he cried, and as he turned toward the porch, she heard
him softly strumming the prelude again.

Others had heard the pretty song, for Dorothy and Nancy had a room next
to Flossie's.

The next morning he was coaxed and teased to sing the song again, but he
declared that he could only sing it in the moonlight, that the daylight
would spoil its effect.

The sunny days sped on wings, and soon the guests began to think of
turning homeward.

Mrs. Dainty's party and the Barnets were to leave the hotel at the same
time, and Dorothy, Nancy, and Flossie were delighted that they were to
take the return trip together.

They were talking of the pleasures that they were looking forward to,
and telling of some delightful events that were already planned, when
Jack Tiverton gave them a genuine surprise.

"Mamma has just told me something fine," he said, "and I ran right down
to tell it to you."

"Oh, tell it quick!" said Flossie.

"We're going to live in Merrivale, and we'll be there soon after we
leave here. I'm glad. Are you, _all_ of you?" he asked.

"Of course we're glad," said Dorothy and Nancy; and Flossie hastened to
add:

"Every one of us is glad."

There were bright days, and many pleasures in store for the little
friends, and those who would like also to enjoy them, and to know what
happened during the winter, may read of all this in

                       "Dorothy Dainty's Holidays."



THE DOROTHY DAINTY SERIES

By AMY BROOKS

       *       *       *       *       *

Large 12mo Cloth Illustrated by the Author

Price, $1.00 each

[Illustration]

          _Dorothy Dainty_
          _Dorothy's Playmates_
          _Dorothy Dainty at School_
          _Dorothy Dainty at the Shore_
          _Dorothy Dainty in the City_
          _Dorothy Dainty at Home_
          _Dorothy Dainty's Gay Times_
          _Dorothy Dainty in the Country_
          _Dorothy Dainty's Winter_
          _Dorothy Dainty in the Mountains_
          _Dorothy Dainty's Holidays_
          _Dorothy Dainty's Vacation_

          "LITTLE DOROTHY DAINTY is one of the most
          generous-hearted of children. Selfishness is not
          at all a trait of hers, and she knows the value of
          making sunshine, not alone in her own heart, but
          for her neighborhood and friends."--_Boston
          Courier._

          "DOROTHY DAINTY, a little girl, the only child of
          wealthy parents, is an exceedingly interesting
          character, and her earnest and interesting life is
          full of action and suitable
          adventure."--_Pittsburg Christian Advocate._

          "No finer little lady than DOROTHY DAINTY was ever
          placed in a book for children."--_Teachers'
          Journal, Pittsburg._

[Illustration]

          "MISS BROOKS is a popular writer for the very
          little folks who can read. She has an immense
          sympathy for the children, and her stories never
          fail to be amusing."--_Rochester (N.Y.) Herald._

       *       *       *       *       *

          LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO., BOSTON



_THE PRUE BOOKS_

By AMY BROOKS

Illustrated by the Author 12mo Cloth Price, $1.00 each

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration]

CUNNING little Prue, one of the most winsome little girls ever "put in a
book," has already been met in another series where she gave no small
part of the interest. She well deserved books of her own for little
girls of her age, and they are now ready with everything in the way of
large, clear type, and Miss Brooks's best pictures and her pleasing
cover designs to make them attractive.

          _Little Sister Prue_
          _Prue at School_
          _Prue's Playmates_
          _Prue's Merry Times_
          _Prue's Little Friends_
          _Prue's Jolly Winter_

[Illustration]

          "Miss Brooks always brings out the best ways of
          acting and living and provides a good deal of
          humor in her original country
          characters.--_Watchman, Boston._

          "Few writers have ever possessed the faculty of
          reaching the hearts and holding the interest of
          little girl readers to the extent Miss Brooks
          has."--_Kennebec Journal_, _Augusta, Me._

          "To know Prue is to love her, for no more winsome
          little girl was ever put in a book, and her keen
          wit and unexpected drolleries make her doubly
          attractive."--_Kindergarten Magazine._

       *       *       *       *       *

          _For sale by all booksellers or sent postpaid on receipt
          of price by the publishers_

          LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO., BOSTON



_THE RANDY BOOKS_

_By AMY BROOKS_

          12mo CLOTH ARTISTIC COVER DESIGN IN GOLD AND COLORS
          ILLUSTRATED BY THE AUTHOR PRICE $1.00 EACH

[Illustration]

The progress of the "Randy Books" has been one continual triumph over
the hearts of girls of all ages, for dear little fun-loving sister Prue
is almost as much a central figure as Randy, growing toward womanhood
with each book. The sterling good sense and simple naturalness of Randy,
and the total absence of slang and viciousness, make these books in the
highest degree commendable, while abundant life is supplied by the
doings of merry friends, and there is rich humor in the droll rural
characters.

          _Randy's Summer_
          _Randy's Winter_
          _Randy and Her Friends_
          _Randy and Prue_
          _Randy's Good Times_
          _Randy's Luck_
          _Randy's Loyalty_
          _Randy's Prince_

[Illustration]

          "The Randy Books are among the very choicest books
          for young people to make a beginning with."
                                       --_Boston Courier._

          "The Randy Books of Amy Brooks have had a deserved
          popularity among young girls. They are wholesome
          and moral without being goody-goody."
                                         --_Chicago Post._

       *       *       *       *       *

          LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO., BOSTON



Only Dollie

By NINA RHOADES Illustrated by Bertha Davidson Square 12mo Cloth $1.00


[Illustration]

THIS is a brightly written story of a girl of twelve, who, when the
mystery of her birth is solved, like Cinderella, passes from drudgery to
better circumstances. There is nothing strained or unnatural at any
point. All descriptions or portrayals of character are life-like, and
the book has an indescribable appealing quality which wins sympathy and
secures success.

          "It is delightful reading at all times."--_Cedar
          Rapids (Ia.) Republican._

          "It is well written, the story runs smoothly, the
          idea is good, and it is handled with
          ability.--_Chicago Journal._



The Little Girl Next Door

By NINA RHOADES Large 12mo Cloth Illustrated by Bertha Davidson $1.00


A DELIGHTFUL story of true and genuine friendship between an impulsive
little girl in a fine New York home and a little blind girl in an
apartment next door. The little girl's determination to cultivate the
acquaintance, begun out of the window during a rainy day, triumphs over
the barriers of caste, and the little blind girl proves to be in every
way a worthy companion. Later a mystery of birth is cleared up, and the
little blind girl proves to be of gentle birth as well as of gentle
manners.



Winifred's Neighbors

By NINA RHOADES Illustrated by Bertha G. Davidson Large 12mo Cloth $1.00

[Illustration]

LITTLE Winifred's efforts to find some children of whom she reads in a
book lead to the acquaintance of a neighbor of the same name, and this
acquaintance proves of the greatest importance to Winifred's own family.
Through it all she is just such a little girl as other girls ought to
know, and the story will hold the interest of all ages.

       *       *       *       *       *

          _For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt
          of price by the publishers_

          LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD Co., BOSTON



The Children on the Top Floor

By NINA RHOADES Large 12mo Cloth Illustrated by Bertha Davidson $1.00


[Illustration]

IN this book little Winifred Hamilton, the child heroine of "Winifred's
Neighbors," reappears, living in the second of the four stories of a New
York apartment house. On the top floor are two very interesting
children, Betty, a little older than Winifred, who is now ten, and Jack,
a brave little cripple, who is a year younger. In the end comes a glad
reunion, and also other good fortune for crippled Jack, and Winifred's
kind little heart has once more indirectly caused great happiness to
others.



How Barbara Kept Her Promise

By NINA RHOADES Large 12mo Cloth Illustrated by Bertha Davidson $1.00


TWO orphan sisters, Barbara, aged twelve, and little Hazel, who is "only
eight," are sent from their early home in London to their mother's
family in New York. Faithful Barbara has promised her father that she
will take care of pretty, petted, mischievous Hazel, and how she tries
to do this, even in the face of great difficulties, forms the story
which has the happy ending which Miss Rhoades wisely gives to all her
stories.



Little Miss Rosamond

By NINA RHOADES Illustrated by Bertha G. Davidson Large 12mo Cloth $1.00


[Illustration]

ROSAMOND lives in Richmond, Va., with her big brother, who cannot give
her all the comfort that she needs in the trying hot weather, and she
goes to the seaside cottage of an uncle whose home is in New York. Here
she meets Gladys and Joy, so well known in a previous book, "The Little
Girl Next Door," and after some complications are straightened out,
bringing Rosamond's honesty and kindness of heart into prominence, all
are made very happy.

       *       *       *       *       *

          _For sale by all booksellers or sent postpaid on receipt
          of price by the publishers_

          LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO., BOSTON



"_Brick House Books_"

_By NINA RHOADES_

_Cloth 12 mo Illustrated $1.00 each_

       *       *       *       *       *

=Priscilla of the Doll Shop=

[Illustration]

THE "Brick House Books," as they are called from their well-known cover
designs, are eagerly sought by children all over the country. There are
three good stories in this book, instead of one, and it is hard to say
which little girls, and boys, too, for that matter, will like the best.


=Brave Little Peggy=

PEGGY comes from California to New Jersey to live with a brother and
sister whom she has not known since very early childhood. She is so
democratic in her social ideas that many amusing scenes occur, and it is
hard for her to understand many things that she must learn. But her good
heart carries her through, and her conscientiousness and moral courage
win affection and happiness.


=The Other Sylvia=

[Illustration]

EIGHT-year-old Sylvia learns that girls who are "Kings' Daughters"
pledge themselves to some kind act or service, and that one little girl
named Mary has taken it upon herself to be helpful to all the Marys of
her acquaintance. This is such an interesting way of doing good that she
adopts it in spite of her unusual name, and really finds not only "the
other Sylvia," but great happiness.

       *       *       *       *       *

          _For sale by all booksellers or sent postpaid on receipt of
          price by the publishers_

          LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO., BOSTON

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.





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