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Title: Brenda, Her School and Her Club
Author: Reed, Helen Leah, 1860-1926
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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                               Brenda,

                       Her School and Her Club

                         BY HELEN LEAH REED

                   AUTHOR OF "MISS THEODORA," ETC.

                 ILLUSTRATED BY JESSIE WILLCOX SMITH


    BOSTON
    LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
    1900

    _Copyright, 1900_,
    BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.

    _All rights reserved._


[Illustration: "THE CHILD HIMSELF, SURROUNDED BY A GROUP OF CURIOUS GIRLS, CLUNG TO NORA'S HAND"]



CONTENTS


I. FOUR FRIENDS

II. JULIA'S ARRIVAL

III. THE RESCUE

IV. A CLUB MEETING

V. MISS CRAWDON'S SCHOOL

VI. MISUNDERSTANDINGS

VII. VISITING MANUEL

VIII. PLANNING THE BAZAAR

IX. A MYSTERIOUS MANSION

X. A SOPHOMORE

XI. THE COOKING CLASS

XII. CONCERNING JULIA

XIII. GREAT EXPECTATIONS

XIV. THE FOOTBALL GAME

XV. A POET AT HOME

XVI. AN HISTORIC RAMBLE

XVII. THE ROSAS AT HOME

XVIII. MERRY CHRISTMAS

XIX. NORA'S THOUGHTLESSNESS

XX. FIDESSA AND HER MISTRESS

XXI. MISS SOUTH AND JULIA

XXII. BRENDA'S SECRET

XXIII. ALMOST READY

XXIV. AN EVENING'S FUN

XXV. THE BAZAAR

XXVI. GREAT EXCITEMENT

XXVII. A MISTAKE

XXVIII. EXPLANATIONS

XXIX. AFTER VACATION

XXX. BRENDA'S FOLLY

XXXI. THE SHILOH PICNIC



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


"THE CHILD HIMSELF, SURROUNDED BY A GROUP OF CURIOUS GIRLS, CLUNG TO
NORA'S HAND"

"'OH, I'LL TELL YOU WHAT, GIRLS,--LET US WORK FOR--MANUEL!'"

"SHE WAS ABLE TO RUSH ON AND PICK THEM UP AS THEY WERE DASHED AGAINST A
LAMP-POST"

"NOW AS JULIA SAT THERE DRINKING TEA FROM THE QUAINTEST OF OLD-FASHIONED
CHINA CUPS"

"'WHY, BRENDA BARLOW, WHY ARE YOU LYING IN THIS DOWNCAST POSITION?'"



BRENDA, HER SCHOOL AND HER CLUB



I

FOUR FRIENDS


"What do suppose she'll be like?"

"How can I tell?"

"Well, Brenda Barlow, I should think you'd have _some_ idea--your own
cousin."

"Oh, that doesn't make any difference. I've hardly thought about her."

"But aren't you just a little curious?" continued the questioner, a
pretty girl with dark hair.

"No, Nora, I'm not. She's sixteen and a half--almost a year older than
we are. She's never lived in a big city, and that's enough."

"Oh, a country girl?"

"I don't know that she's a country girl exactly, but I just wish she
wasn't coming. She'll spoil all our fun."

"How?" asked a third girl, seated on the bottom step.

"Why, who ever heard of _five_ girls going about together? If three's a
crowd, five's a perfect regiment. I agree with Brenda that it's too bad
to have her come. Now when there's four of us we can pair off and have a
good time."

The last speaker had a long thin face with a determined mouth and large
china blue eyes. She was the only one of the four whom the average
observer would not call pretty. Yet in her little circle she had her own
way more often even than Brenda, who was not only somewhat of a tyrant,
but a beauty as well.

    "Brenda and Belle
     They carry a spell,"

the other girls were in the habit of singing, when the two _Bs_ had
accomplished something on which they had set their hearts. Edith, the
third of the group, in spite of her auburn hair, was the most amiable of
the four. I say "in spite" out of respect merely to the popular
prejudice. Nobody has ever proved that auburn hair really indicates
worse temper than hair of any other color. Edith almost always agreed
with any of the plans made by the others, and very often with their
opinions. Dark-haired Nora was the only one of the group who ever
ventured to dissent from the two _Bs_. Now she spoke up briskly,

"I know that I shall like your cousin."

"Why?" the other three exclaimed in a chorus.

"I can't tell you _why_, only that I know I shall."

"You're welcome to," said Brenda, tossing her head, "but I guess if you
had just begun to have your own house to yourself you wouldn't like
somebody else coming that you'd have to treat exactly like a sister."

"Why, Brenda!" said Nora, with a look of surprise, and then the others
remembered that Nora had had a little sister near her own age whose
death was a great sorrow to her.

"Why, Brenda!" repeated Nora, "I wish that I had a sister."

Now Brenda Barlow was not nearly as heartless as her words implied. She
had two sisters whom she loved very dearly. But they were both much
older than Brenda, and by petting and spoiling her they had to a large
extent helped to make her selfish. One of them had now been married for
four years, and had gone to California to live and the other was in
Paris completing her art studies. When Janet married, Brenda had not
realized the change in the family. But when Agnes went to Paris, Brenda
was older, and she fully felt her own importance as "Miss Barlow."

"It's the same as being 'Miss Barlow,'" she said to her friends, "the
servants call me so, and I've moved my things down into Janet's room. I
can invite any one I want to luncheon without asking whether Agnes has
any plans,--and I shouldn't wonder if I could have a dinner-party once
in a while--of course, not a _very_ late one, but with raw oysters to
begin with--sure--" and the other girls laughed, for they knew that
Brenda had been practising on raw oysters for a long time, and that she
felt proud of her present prowess in swallowing them without winking or
making a face.

Mr. Barlow was generally absorbed in business affairs, and Mrs. Barlow
had so many social engagements that Brenda did as she wished in most
respects. She ordered the servants about when her mother was out, and
they were as ready to obey her as her friends were to follow her lead,
for when Brenda wanted her own way she never seemed ill-natured. She
simply insisted with a very winning smile--and nobody could refuse her.

She had found it very pleasant to rule her little world. It was even
pleasanter than being the spoiled and petted child that she had been
when her sisters were at home. Her father and mother had never seen how
fond she was growing of her own way until they announced the coming of
her cousin Julia.

"She is older than you, Brenda, and I hear that she is far advanced in
her studies. I dare say that she will be able to help you sometimes."

"Oh, papa! I _hate_ to have any one help me. She'll be an awful bore, I
suppose, if she thinks she knows more than me----"

"Grammar, Brenda," said her mother with a smile.

"Well, then, more than _I_," repeated Brenda.

"I'm sure she won't be a bore, Brenda, but her life has been very
different from yours. She has led a quiet life, for you know she was her
father's constant companion until he died."

Here Mrs. Barlow sighed. Julia's mother was Mrs. Barlow's sister, and
had died when the little Julia was hardly five years old.

"Uncle Richard was always delicate?" ventured Brenda.

"Yes, dear, and he spent his life trying to find a place where he could
gain perfect health. Boston was too bleak for him, and that is why you
have not seen Julia since she was very little. Your uncle did not care
to undergo the fatigue of traveling East even in the summer, and he
could not bear to be parted from Julia. But she was always a sweet
little thing."

"I hope you won't be disappointed in her," cried Brenda, half in a
temper. "I believe you are going to care for her more than you do for
me."

"Nonsense, Brenda," exclaimed her mother in surprise.

"Well, you can't expect me to feel the same about her,--a strange
girl--who knows more than I, and is just enough older to make every one
expect me to look up to her. Oh, dear!"

Since Brenda had not concealed her feelings from her mother, it was
hardly to be expected that she would be less frank with her three most
intimate friends.

After Nora and Edith had bade Brenda good-bye that afternoon when they
had talked about the unknown cousin, they walked rather slowly up the
street.

"Do you suppose Brenda's jealous?" said Nora, in a half whisper.

"Oh, hush," answered Edith, to whom the word jealousy meant something
dreadful. "Of course not."

"Well, don't you think it's strange for her not to feel more pleased at
the prospect of having her cousin with her. I should think it would be
great fun to have another girl in the house."

"Oh, well, Brenda can always have one of us. Her mother is so good about
letting her invite people--and of course she can't tell how she'll get
along with her cousin. No, I really shouldn't like it myself."

As Nora and Edith walked away, Brenda turned to Belle, in whom she
always found a ready sympathizer.

"You know how I feel, Belle."

"Yes, indeed; I think it's too bad. I'm sure it will spoil half our fun.
It's horrid anyway to have some one older than yourself ordering you
round."

"Oh, I don't suppose she'll do that exactly."

"Well, it's just the same thing. If she's such a model, as your mother
says, she'll make you feel uncomfortable all the time. Then if she's
wearing mourning, she can't do the things that you do, and you'll have
to stay at home and be polite to her. Yes, I'm really sorry for you,
Brenda."

With sympathy like this, Brenda began to regard herself as almost a
martyr.

"Oh, dear," she sighed, "why couldn't she have waited until next winter?
Come, Belle," she continued, "you'll stay to dinner, won't you?"

Belle hesitated for a moment. "I suppose I _ought_ to go home."

"Oh, why?"

Belle was silent. She knew that certain unfinished lessons awaited her,
and that her grandmother objected to her dining away from home, unless
she had first asked permission. She fortified herself, however, by
saying to herself, "Oh, well, mother won't care." For her mother was
what is commonly known as easy-going, and seldom interfered with her
daughter's goings and comings.

Belle always enjoyed dining with Brenda. The dining-room was so
attractive with its great blazing fire, its heavy draperies and cheerful
oil-paintings on the wall. At home she sat down in a large, severely
furnished room, with her solemn grandmother wrapped in a white knitted
shawl at one end of the long table, her half-deaf uncle James at the
other end, and her brother Jack on the side opposite her. Her delicate
mother often dined upstairs. Uncle James usually had some story to tell
of misdeeds that he had heard some one ascribe to Jack ("and how a deaf
person can hear I don't see," Jack would say crossly to Brenda). Her
grandmother generally read Belle herself a lecture on paying proper
respect to one's elders, or some similar subject, while Belle and Jack
exchanged glances of mischievous intelligence, which often drew strong
reproofs from their grandmother, and sometimes from her mother when she
was present.

No wonder, then, that Brenda's invitation was a strong temptation to
Belle.

"Come, silence gives consent," laughed Brenda. Dragging Belle by the
arm, she touched the door-bell, and in a moment the two girls were
inside the house.

"What room is Julia going to have?" asked Belle, as they ran up the
front stairs.

"Well, you _will_ be surprised; that's one of the things that makes me
so cross. Just _think_ of it, Agnes's rooms in the L--that sweet little
studio that I wanted mamma to let me have--it's all fitted up for Julia.
Don't you call that mean?" Belle pressed her friend's hand.

"You poor thing!"

"Yes, it seems Agnes is sure not to come home for two years, and so
mamma thought the studio would be a good place for Julia to practice in,
and so there's a piano and--well--let's come and see. We've got time
before dinner."

Pushing open a door on the second floor and going down a step or two,
Brenda and Belle found themselves inside a little reception-room. The
walls were a deep red, there was a cashmere rug on the polished floor, a
clock and two bronze figures on the mantelpiece. An open bookcase in one
recess, a short lounge in the other, a low wicker tea-table, and two or
three small chairs made up the furnishing.

"This is just the same as it was," said Brenda, "and so is the
bedchamber," pointing to a door on the left of the reception-room, "but
see here!" and she turned to the right. Belle followed, and they found
themselves in a long, narrow room, with a bay window at one end and a
skylight overhead. On the walls were several large unframed sketches in
black and white, together with water colors and a number of fine
photographs and engravings in gilt or ebony frames. Against the wall
near the bay window stood a small upright piano with an elephant's cloth
scarf over the top. The groundwork of the scarf was of a deep yellow,
harmonizing with the tint of the painted walls. There were two or three
comfortable chairs covered in yellow-flowered chintz, and in the centre
an inlaid library table with a baize top and an assortment of writing
utensils. There were several rugs of a prevailing yellow tint on the
polished yellow floor, and one side of the room was occupied by rows of
low open book-shelves which held, however, only a few books.

"I believe Julia's going to have her father's library brought here,"
said Brenda, in explanation of the empty shelves. "Don't you _hate_
book-worms?"

"Yes," responded Belle, "but how _lovely_ this room is! What a _shame_
that you couldn't have it yourself! Why, I thought your mother said that
they were going to leave the studio just as it was until Agnes came
home."

"Well, so they were, but she won't be home for two years, and then
she'll probably have a studio down town, and so they've put most of her
things away and fitted up this room just for Julia. _She_ has to have
everything."

"I know just how you feel," and Belle pressed Brenda's hand
sympathetically. "But then, your own room is lovely."

"Oh, yes, of course; but it isn't the same thing as a studio. A studio
is so--so artistic."

The girls were standing in the bay window, bathed in a flood of sunshine
from the setting sun. They glanced across the broad river toward the
roofs and spires of Cambridge. A tug-boat went puffing along the stream
towing a schooner loaded with lumber.

"Oh, my, it must be late! the sun is just dropping behind those
Brookline Hills. Come up to my room."

The room on the floor above the studio which had formerly been Janet's,
also overlooked the river. It was in the main house and its windows
looked down on the roof of the L containing the studio. In fact, the
studio to a slight extent impeded the view of the river which was
obtainable from this upper room. But the room itself was large and
cheerful, with a carpet and paper of bluish tint, a large brass bedstead
canopied with blue, comfortable lounging chairs, a dainty little sofa,
dressing-table, desk, and all kinds of pretty ornaments. A half-open
door showed the adjoining dressing-room with its long pier-glass, and a
coal fire blazed in the open grate.

"Make yourself comfortable," said Brenda hospitably, "for if you don't
mind, I'm going to write a note that I want to send out by Thomas before
dinner. It won't take me ten minutes."

Brenda sat down at her little desk, while Belle sank in the depths of an
easy chair near the fire.

Just as Brenda finished her note, a white-capped maid came into the
room.

"Oh, Jane, just give this note to Thomas, please. I want him to take it
to Mrs. Grey's and bring back my new coat. I can't go to school
to-morrow without it."

"I don't hardly think Thomas can go, Miss Brenda."

"Why not?"

"Well, he's got to go to the station for your cousin."

"My cousin?"

"Yes, miss. A telegram came this afternoon that she'd be here at
six-thirty, and your mother left word when she went out that they
wouldn't be much later than that getting back from the train."

"Well, I never! The idea of her coming without any one's expecting her.
Why didn't she write?"

"I don't know, miss. I heard something about a letter that got lost, but
anyway your mother's gone to meet Miss Julia, and she left word she
thought you'd better give up going to the tableaux this evening, for she
wouldn't like you to leave your cousin alone."

"There, Belle, that's the way it's always going to be. Everything for
'Miss Julia.' I don't care, I'm going out just the same. The idea of
losing those tableaux."

"But, Brenda," began Belle.

"No, it isn't any good arguing with me. I never _could_ bear to be
interfered with, and mamma knows perfectly well that I want to see 'The
Succession of the Seasons.'"

"But it's to be repeated to-morrow evening. You know I'm going then."

"I don't care. I hate to go the second night to anything."

Belle did not reply, though as Jane left the room, she turned to Brenda.

"I'd better not stay to dinner to-night."

"Oh, do. I don't want to sit alone with Julia. I shan't know what to say
to her. No, really you can't go home."

Then running to the stairs and calling after Jane, Brenda cried,

"See that there's an extra place at the table for Belle."

After this she began to open the drawers of her bureau, tossing their
contents about, and she ran in and out of her closet to bring out one
gown after another for Belle's inspection.

"Which would you wear if you wanted to make a good impression on a new
cousin? I want to look as old as I can, and I believe I'll do up my
hair."

"Oh, Brenda!"

"Yes, I will. Now see, if I put a string on the band of this skirt it
will almost touch the floor. There, help me."

When the skirt was lengthened, Brenda regarded her reflection in the
pier-glass with great satisfaction. Brushing her waving brown hair to
the top of her head, she gathered it in a soft knot, and thrust a long
gold pin through it.

"Tell me the truth, Belle, wouldn't you think me sixteen years old--if
you didn't know," she cried to her friend, who could hardly conceal her
mirth at Brenda's changed aspect.

"I don't--why, yes, of course," as she saw a frown stealing across
Brenda's face.

Brenda strode around the room with all the dignity she could command,
her pretty face somewhat flushed by her exertions in giving her hair
just the right touch. As a matter of fact she looked rather odd, but
Belle did not dare tell her that her skirt hung unevenly, and that two
or three short locks of her hair stood out almost straight behind.

"Hark, I believe they've come," Brenda exclaimed.

Certainly there was a noise in the hall below.

"Where's Brenda?" she heard her mother call.

"Well, I suppose we'll have to go down," she said reluctantly to Belle,
and the two girls slowly descended the stairs.



II

JULIA'S ARRIVAL


As the two girls went downstairs, Brenda politely urged Belle to go
ahead of her. She, herself, lingered a moment to look over the
balusters, and thus, when they reached the broad hall at the foot of the
stairs, she was several steps behind her friend.

Belle, with a quick eye, before she reached the bottom of the stairs,
noticed a little group near the fireplace,--an elderly woman with a
shawl over her arm, who looked like a maid; Mrs. Barlow, holding the
hand of a slight girl in black, and last but not least, a large Irish
setter which lay at the young girl's feet. All this Belle had hardly
time to notice when the young girl rushed forward and throwing her arm
around her neck, cried,

"Oh, Cousin Brenda, I'm so glad to see you." Belle for a moment looked
disconcerted, and Mrs. Barlow, without showing any surprise at Belle's
presence, relieved the latter by saying:

"This isn't Brenda, Julia, but one of her friends."

Julia, still with her hand in Belle's, smiled pleasantly.

"I'm glad to see you," she said, and just at that moment Brenda came in
sight.

Julia was hastening forward to greet her cousin as she had greeted her
friend, but something in Brenda's face forbade her. Brenda could not,
perhaps, have explained why she felt so annoyed at Julia's mistake. She
was not unduly vain, yet it annoyed her that her cousin had mistaken
Belle for her. For well as she liked Belle, she knew that all the other
girls considered her not especially good-looking. Though she could not,
probably would not, have put it into words, the thought flashed through
her brain that Julia was stupid to have made such a mistake. The thought
took form in a rather repelling glance as her eye met her cousin's.

"Come, Brenda, you should not make Julia go more than half-way to meet
you," called her mother from her place near the fire.

"No'm," replied Brenda, hardly knowing what she said, for really she
felt a little shy about the new cousin, who was more than a year her
senior. "With her hand outstretched, she stepped toward Julia, moving
with the dignity that her lengthened skirt demanded.

"Dear me! What can it be?" she thought, as she felt something hindering
her progress. It could not be that the skirt was _too_ long. She stooped
a little to raise it from beneath her feet, and then, how mortifying!
she felt a string snap. She clutched wildly at her skirt with both
hands. But it was too late, and making the best of the situation, she
stood before her cousin in her short ruffled petticoat, instead of her
long, grown-up gown.

"There, Brenda," cried her mother, comprehending the situation at a
glance, for this was not the first time that Brenda had tried to
lengthen her skirts. "There, Brenda, I hope you won't be as foolish as
this again. Speak to your cousin, and then go up and put on your skirt
properly."

Poor Brenda! What a loss of dignity! She hardly knew what she said to
Julia, or what Julia said to her. She resented Belle's offer of help,
for had she not heard a decided giggle from her friend at the moment of
the catastrophe? So rushing to her room, she locked the door and did not
leave it until called to dinner.

Now Brenda, though by no means perfect, was not ill-natured, and she
seated herself at the table with the intention of making herself
agreeable to Julia.

But there are times when nothing seems to go exactly right, and this
evening was one of them. In the first place it disturbed Brenda to see
her father's glance of amusement as his eye fell on her new style of
hair-dressing.

"Which is it now?" he laughed, "Marie Antoinette or Queen Elizabeth?
Dear me, Brenda, it's a long time since we've seen you masquerading in
this fashion."

Brenda reddened. In spite of the mishap to her dress, she wished her
cousin to believe that she always wore her hair on the top of her head.
Vague hopes were floating through her mind that she could persuade her
mother to let her give up her childish pigtail altogether.

"Why does papa always say things like that?" and she reddened still more
as Julia's eyes fell on her. She remembered, however, her duties as
assistant hostess.

"Did you have a pleasant journey?" she asked politely.

"Yes, indeed," answered Julia. "That is, I was just a little tired, but
it was so delightful to look out of the car window and know that I was
really in Massachusetts. It seemed too good to be true."

Mr. Barlow looked pleased. "Ah, Julia, it gratifies me very much to have
you say this. Sometimes when people have traveled they lose their love
for their early home."

"Yes, Uncle Robert, I've always loved to think of Boston as my real
home. Although it's so long since we lived here."

"Why, what do you really remember of Boston?" asked Mr. Barlow.

"Well, the State-House, Uncle Robert, and the Common--of
course--and--and Brenda."

"Oh, you can't remember Brenda?"

"Yes, indeed I can. She was the dearest little thing! You see when I was
five years old, Brenda seemed almost a baby--a year and a half between
two girls makes a good deal of difference,--when they're little."

But even this last saving clause did not prevent Brenda's heart from
giving a sudden thump, especially as she caught a sympathetic glance
from Belle which seemed to say,

"Ah, she's reminding you how much older she is than you."

Brenda straightened herself up. She tried to think of something to say
that would show that though younger, she at least had some knowledge of
the world.

"Can you eat raw oysters, Julia?" were the rather strange words that
came to her lips. Julia, unable naturally to follow the train of thought
leading to this question, answered brightly,

"I've never tried. You see we don't have very good oysters in the West,
and some way I've never thought I'd like them raw."

"Oh, if you want to seem really grown-up you'll have to eat oysters off
the shell," said Mrs. Barlow. "I believe Brenda has practised so that
she can eat them without wincing."

Then Belle, who prided herself on her tact, hastened to change what she
knew might become a sore subject with Brenda.

"Were there many people you knew on the train, Miss----"

"Oh, please say Julia," broke in the young girl. "Every one always does.
No, there wasn't any one I knew in the cars between here and Chicago. If
I had not had Eliza I should have been very lonely."

Brenda had subsided into an unwonted silence. She was wondering how she
could excuse herself to her cousin--whether her mother would really make
her give up the tableaux for that evening. She heard, without really
listening, an animated conversation between her father and Belle on the
best way of learning history. Belle believed that more could be learned
by general reading than by studying a text-book. "Belle always has so
many theories," Brenda was in the habit of saying.

"I wish Jane would hurry with the coffee," she cried.

"Why, Brenda," and her mother looked surprised. "You are not going to
have coffee."

"Of course, you know you always let me have a little cup when I'm going
out."

"But you are not going anywhere to-night. Didn't you get my message?"

Brenda understood well enough that her mother did not wish to discuss
the question of her leaving her cousin when Julia herself was present,
yet she persisted.

"But, mamma----"

Mrs. Barlow shook her head. "There is nothing to be said. You know,
Brenda, when I mean a thing I mean it."

Julia looked a trifle embarrassed, realizing that in some way she was a
hindrance to a full discussion between her aunt and cousin.

Brenda's face was twisted into a curious scowl. She was forgetting her
duty to her cousin.

"Oh, mamma, I've made up my mind to go."

"No, Brenda, it is impossible. Let us hear no more about it."

"What is it, Brenda, that you wish to do?" asked Mr. Barlow, who while
talking with Belle had only half heard the conversation between Brenda
and her mother.

Mrs. Barlow shook her head. She did not care to enter into a discussion
before Julia likely to make the young girl feel that her arrival had
interfered with any plan of Brenda's.

Then Belle, who realized that she was not always in favor with Mrs.
Barlow, saw her opportunity.

"If Brenda will change with me, she can have my ticket for to-morrow
evening."

"Why, that is very kind in you, Belle, but have you time to get ready?"

"Oh, yes, if you'll excuse me now," and before Brenda could remonstrate,
she saw Belle receive the tickets from Mrs. Barlow's hands and heard her
hasty words of good-bye as she started home under the escort of Thomas.

Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Barlow took any notice of the cloud on Brenda's
face. Fortunately they could not read her reflections on the duplicity
of Belle, who after pitying her so in the afternoon, had now begun to
side against her. This at least was the form which Brenda's thoughts
took. Rightly or wrongly she considered herself an ill-used young
person.

Just then the maid entered with a letter on a salver. Mrs. Barlow
glanced at it and then laughed.

"This explains the mystery, Julia, you wrote 'New York' instead of
'Boston,' and so your letter has been two days longer than it should
have been in reaching us."

"Oh, did I, Aunt Anna? How stupid! Well, you have treated me much better
than my carelessness deserved."

"Well, I'm only glad that I happened to be at home when your telegram
came. It would have been a little cheerless for you had you happened to
arrive when we were all out. But come, you must be tired."

"Oh, not very." Then, as they left the room, Julia threw her arm around
Brenda.

"I know that we shall be great friends."

Already Brenda had begun to return to herself. She hoped that Julia had
not noticed her ill-temper. Perhaps after all she should like this new
cousin better than she had expected.

"If I were you, Brenda, I'd take Julia to her room now," said Mrs.
Barlow.

"How lovely!" exclaimed Julia, as they entered the pretty bedroom near
the studio. "Am I to have this all to myself?"

"Yes," replied Brenda.

"I never saw so pretty a room! How I _shall_ enjoy it! Whose used it to
be?"

"Oh, it was Agnes's room. She had it decorated to suit her ideas. You
know she's an artist."

"Oh, yes. How delightful to be an artist. I wish that I had some special
talent."

"I thought you had. Some one, mamma I think, said that you were
musical."

"So I am in a way. I've given more time to music than to anything else.
But that was chiefly to please papa."

Here Julia sighed, while Brenda hardly knew what to say.

"You must miss him very much," she ventured.

"Oh, don't speak of it, Brenda. I can't bear to think that he is really
gone." And Julia's tears began to fall.

"What shall I say?" thought Brenda, and as her words of sympathy were
beginning to take shape, her mother entered the room. Wisely enough, she
made no comment on Julia's tears, believing that they would flow less
freely if she seemed to take no notice of them.

"I have come to see if you are perfectly comfortable. To-night Eliza
will sleep on the lounge in your room, and after this we will arrange a
bed for her in the room across the hall. In either case you will not
feel lonely."

When Julia had thanked her aunt for her kindness, Mrs. Barlow drew
Brenda one side.

"Now, Brenda, we must bid your cousin good-night," and then, with a
final word or two of advice to Julia, Mrs. Barlow with Brenda left the
room.

"I'm going to bed now, mamma," said Brenda, as they reached the hall.

"Very well, I haven't time myself to tell you that I think you have
behaved very foolishly this evening. I hope you will be more sensible
to-morrow."

"Good-night," cried Brenda, without making any promises.

When she was within her own room she flung herself down on her bed.

"I know just how it will be," she said to herself. "I can never do what
I want to. It will always be 'Julia, Julia.' She isn't so bad herself,
but it's the way every one will treat me that I hate."

With these confused words on her lips she began to get ready for bed.



III

THE RESCUE


Brenda started for school a little later than usual the morning after
Julia's arrival. As she walked up Beacon Street she saw Edith and Nora
ahead of her, half-way up the slope on the sidewalk next the Common.

"Oh, dear, they might look back," she said to herself. But they neither
looked back nor paused on their way, and Brenda was prevented from
hurrying by a line of wagons and street cars which blocked Charles
Street. She was kept standing for two or three minutes at the street
crossing, and when she continued her way Edith and Nora had turned into
the side street leading to the school. When Brenda reached the school
door, Belle was the centre of a group of girls seated on the steps.

"Why didn't you call for me, Belle?" cried Brenda petulantly.

"Oh, I had to do some errands on the way, and I thought, too, that you
would stay home with your cousin."

"Well! I should say not. I shall see enough of her."

"Tell us about her, Brenda," cried Nora who came out from the house for
a moment. "Belle says she has come. What _is_ she like?"

"Like? Why, like any girl. There's nothing special about her. She wears
black and I think she feels kind of superior. It's going to be awfully
hard for me."

"Yes, Brenda," said a thin-faced girl in the group back by Belle. "You
don't think any one could be superior to you, do you?"

Brenda, with her back to the sidewalk, was ready with a sharp reply,
when a warning look from one of the girls closed her lips.

"Why, girls," said a cheerful voice behind her, "ought you not to go
inside now? You should be in your seats by twenty minutes past nine. I
have said many times that you were not to wait for me."

The girls all respected Miss Crawdon, and they were just a little afraid
of her. Her authority was not always agreeable, when she chose to make
them feel it. Miss Crawdon was tall and blonde, with eyes some one said
"that saw everything." These were the right kind of eyes for the
principal of a girls' school. She had a pleasant voice with a tone of
decision in it that no one dared dispute. At her words the girls seated
on the steps slowly arose, and in a very short time they were at their
desks, getting out books and preparing for the day's work.

Brenda and Belle occupied adjacent seats. Edith and Nora were in the
same room, though a little nearer the window. They with about ten other
girls formed what might be called the middle class of a school of forty.
There were about fifteen older girls who would stay in school one or two
years longer, while Brenda and her friends had three years before them.
At least they would not "come out" for three years.

The older girls naturally kept much to themselves. They "did up" their
hair, wore skirts almost touching the ground, and were in every way
envied by their juniors. The youngest girls of all concerned themselves
very slightly about the oldest of all. But the girls of Brenda's age
imitated in many ways the doings of these older girls, and when, as
occasionally happened, one of the graduating class invited a younger
girl to walk with her at recess, the latter for a day or two after was
treated with great deference by her companions.

These oldest girls were not ahead of their schoolmates in all their
studies. In Latin and mathematics some of them recited with the younger
girls, or it might be fairer to say that some of the brighter young
girls were in the classes with the elder. Edith, for example, was ahead
of Brenda in mathematics, and her class almost through geometry, was
planning to go into trigonometry.

The discipline of the school was not unduly strict, yet after the
opening, girls were not expected to speak to one another without special
permission. In this matter they were put rather on their honor, for no
special punishment was inflicted for disobedience. A word of
disapprobation was usually the most severe reproof, although, in rare
cases, girls had been kept after school. Nora, whose intentions were
always good, was, of the four friends whom we have been observing, the
most likely to break some of the unwritten laws of the school. She
always saw the funny side of things, and it was very hard for her to
keep still when she wished to share her fun with somebody else. Belle
was no more scrupulous than Nora about observing rules, but she could
whisper to her neighbor in a quiet way without attracting attention.
Edith was really a conscientious, painstaking girl. On this account some
of those who did not know her well called her a "bore." Brenda was good
or bad by fits and starts. Sometimes for a week she devoted herself to
her lessons. She would then put her finger to her lips when Nora, in
passing her desk, bent over her to tell her some bit of news. She would
pretend not to understand when Belle laid a small piece of folded paper
on her desk, and she would keep her eyes fixed on her books when any
other girl tried to distract her attention. To-day, however, it was
different. In the first place she did not know her lesson very well and
did not feel like studying. In the half-hour in which she was supposed
to be doing her Latin exercise her mind constantly wandered, and she
could not help seeing that Belle was anxious to tell her something. At
length the little wad of paper fell on her desk.

"The tableaux were perfectly splendid! You ought to have been there."

Brenda nodded sadly. Surely this was not kind of Belle, who knew that
only stern necessity had kept her at home.

"I suppose the tableaux will be as good to-night," and a second note
fell on Brenda's desk, "but there won't be half as many people you know.
Everybody was there last night. Shall you take Julia?"

Again Brenda nodded, but by this time she was growing impatient. Leaning
forward toward Belle's desk, "Keep still, can't you, Belle," she
exclaimed in a voice intended to be a whisper. Unfortunately her voice
was louder than she thought, and she was recalled to herself by Miss
Crawdon's voice, "Be careful, Brenda," and Brenda applied herself to her
books until the hour arrived for the Latin lesson.

At recess Belle, pretending not to see Brenda, joined two of the older
girls and walked with them for the half hour, while Brenda and Nora and
Edith sat on the steps.

"Why didn't you know your Latin lesson?" asked Brenda of Edith. "I never
knew you to stumble so, and you couldn't give a single rule."

"Well, you know I didn't study yesterday afternoon. I meant to, but it
was too lovely to go in the house, and then last evening I went to the
tableaux. It seemed hard to have to stay home to study though I suppose
I should have. You didn't know your own lesson very well, Brenda,
although you stayed home all the evening."

"But, you see, I had company----"

"You'll find it hard to do your lessons if you make company of Julia.
Isn't she coming to school too?"

"Oh, I guess so. Won't it be hateful to have her in the class above us?"

"Perhaps she won't be. Didn't you say she hadn't been at school much?"

"Oh, girls who have studied at home always think they know more than any
one else. Oh, there, there!" and Brenda paused in her speech as a little
child playing on the opposite sidewalk ran out into the street in front
of the very wheels of a passing wagon. For a moment all held their
breath, then Nora with a leap and a run was down the steps and in the
street. Before the child realized its own danger she had snatched it
from in front of the horses, and had dragged it to the sidewalk. The
teamster, a rather stupid-looking man, had dismounted from his place.

"Waal, now, the child ain't hurt, I guess," he said to the girl, "I
pulled up as soon as I heard you holler, but it was such a little mite
of a thing that I couldn't hardly see it."

"Oh, it wasn't your fault," Brenda and Edith exclaimed. "It ran out so
quickly, but if you hadn't stopped your horses, it might have been
killed."

After assuring himself that the child was not really hurt, the teamster
went on, the child himself, surrounded by a group of curious girls,
clung closely to Nora's hand--a forlorn little thing--with bare feet and
a torn pinafore. The mud spattered over his face did not show very
distinctly on his dark skin. One small hand he had thrust into his eye,
and behind it the tears were slowly trickling down. Nora held the other
hand, and the child clung to her as if never intending to let go.

"What's your name, little boy?" cried one of the girls.

The child only sobbed.

"Here, Amy, give him a piece of your banana. He looks like an Italian
fruit-seller's child. He'll eat a banana."

But the little boy was not to be tempted.

Just then the noon bell sounded from the schoolroom.

"There, Nora, let him go, he'll find his way home," suggested one of the
girls.

"Oh, no, I'm sure he's hurt. Where do you live, little boy?"

Still no reply. The other girls went back into school, while Nora walked
irresolutely toward the door, holding the child's hand. As she stood at
the foot of the steps wondering what to do, Miss Crawdon appeared at the
door with Brenda and Edith who had hurried to tell her about the child.

"Is the little fellow hurt?" she asked with interest.

"Not really hurt, perhaps, but awfully frightened, and I'm sure he
doesn't live anywhere around here. I don't want to leave him when I go
into school, what _shall_ I do?"

"Don't look so distressed, Nora," said Miss Crawdon smiling. "I'm not
sure myself what is best." Then, after a moment's reflection, "You may
send him down to the basement with the janitor, and later I will see
what can be done."

So Nora, saying all the reassuring things that she could to the child,
left him with the janitor, Mr. Brown, although this separation was
accompanied with loud cries and shrieks on the part of the little boy.

It was very hard for Nora and the others to remain perfectly quiet
during the hour and a half that remained of school. They were anxious to
exchange questions about the child, to speculate about his home, and I
am sure that the little boy was more in the thoughts of Brenda, Edith,
and Nora than their lessons.

Belle had missed the excitement of the morning, for at the moment of the
accident she and the two older girls whom she had joined, were out of
sight of the school walking in another street.

She had returned to the schoolroom hardly half a minute before the end
of recess, when there was really no time to ask a question. She did not
dare to ask a question of Brenda, who still wore an unamiable
expression.

When half-past one came, however, Brenda and Belle forgot their little
disagreement, and hastened after Nora to learn what she was going to do
with her protégé.

"Now, I'll tell you girls, just what I'm going to do. Miss Crawdon says
it will be all right. Brenda and I are going with Mrs. Brown to see
where Manuel lives--we have found out that his name is Manuel. We can
get some luncheon here, and please, please, stop at my house, Belle, and
tell my mother, and you, Edith, at Brenda's."

"Why don't you let Mrs. Brown go alone?"

"Oh, it will be so much more fun to go too."

"You can't find his house."

"Oh, yes; it will be somewhere down Hanover Street. Mrs. Brown knows. If
we take him there, he'll lead us on. Oh, it will be great fun."

"I don't believe your mother would like you to go without letting her
know."

"Well, I just have to go. I'm sure she won't care."

Though Nora was so confident, Brenda had some misgivings. She knew that
she really ought to be at home, but the temptation to go with Nora was
too strong to resist.

So, soon after two o'clock the strange procession began its march toward
Hanover Street, Manuel walking between Nora and Brenda, while Mrs. Brown
brought up the rear. Manuel was still silent.

"If he were a girl he'd talk more," said Nora.

Manuel showed very little interest in the whole proceeding. In fact he
seemed so tired that Mrs. Brown would have carried him had he not
resisted her efforts to take him in her arms.



IV

A CLUB MEETING


The strange procession had not gone very far when Nora heard some one
behind calling her name. It was Miss Crawdon, who, as Nora turned
around, signalled her to stop.

"Oh, Brenda, Miss Crawdon wishes to speak to us."

In a moment their teacher had overtaken them.

"I must reconsider my promise to you, or at least, Nora, you partly
misunderstood what I said. It will not do at all for you to go home with
this little boy. Your mother would blame me very much."

"Oh, Miss Crawdon," pouted Brenda. Nora, too, showed her disappointment.

"Now, Brenda, consider what it means. In the first place it is uncertain
whether or not you could find his home. In the second place you might
have to go into some dirty street or alley. With your mother's consent I
should have nothing to say, but as it is----"

"Well, can't we go as far as Scollay Square? We could get a car there
and go straight home."

Miss Crawdon hesitated a moment.

"As it happens," she replied, "I have to go in that direction myself. We
will walk together, and I will see you safely on your car. Mrs. Brown
and Manuel may lead the way."

"Isn't he cunning!" exclaimed Brenda, as the little boy looked over his
shoulder at the girls, with one little hand doubled up against his eye,
and his other clutching Mrs. Brown's skirt.

"I wish he would talk to us," responded Nora. "Where do you live, little
boy?" Manuel smiled knowingly. "There," he said, waving his hand
indefinitely toward the Square, across which the electric cars were
whizzing.

"Oh, no," cried Nora, "nobody lives there; there are shops and a hotel,
and----"

"Birdies, birdies, there," cried Manuel.

Even Miss Crawdon smiled as Manuel ran up to a shop window, and pounded
the glass, somewhat to the dismay of the parrots exhibited there in
their cages.

"Well, he seems to know this shop," said Mrs. Brown. "We might wait here
for a minute."

At the other side of the shop around the corner was a doorway in which
sat a woman with a basket of fruit for sale. Manuel himself was the
first to catch sight of her, and rushing forward with a flying leap, he
almost knocked her basket over. The little boy had found his tongue, and
chattering like a magpie, he pointed toward the ladies. The woman,
rising from the step on which she had been sitting, came toward the
little group. In broken English she explained that Manuel was her
youngest boy, and that sometimes she let him go with her on her round of
fruit-selling. Lately she had had her stand near this bird store, and in
some way on this particular day, Manuel had wandered away from her.

"You must have been worried," said Nora.

"Oh, no," she answered philosophically; "me thought him gone home."

Then Brenda, who had hitherto kept silent, broke in with a graphic
account of the fate Manuel had escaped through Nora's bravery. The
mother probably only half comprehending the young girl's rapid flow of
words, smiled and showed her white teeth. "T'ank you, t'ank you," she
said. "You come and see him some day," she added, in a general
invitation to the group.

"Come, girls, we must hasten," said Miss Crawdon. "Mrs. Brown will take
down Manuel's address. Then, if your mothers are willing, you may go to
see him some day."

Rather reluctantly Nora and Brenda bade good-bye to black-eyed Manuel
and his mother. They gave Mrs. Brown many injunctions to make no mistake
about his house and street. On Saturday they both hoped to be able to go
to see him.

To them the whole thing presented the aspect of an adventure.

"I never spoke to a foreigner before in Boston, did you?" said Nora, "I
mean except French teachers," she added.

"No, not a poor foreigner," responded Brenda. "Wasn't that woman
picturesque, with her shawl over her head?"

As they drew near home both girls began to feel a little doubtful as to
the wisdom of what they had done.

"Well, your mother never scolds," said Brenda, as she bade good-bye to
Nora at the door of the latter.

"Why, yours doesn't either," exclaimed Nora.

"Oh, you don't know," and Brenda shook her head. "There's Julia now----"

"Nonsense," laughed Nora, running up the steps. "Good-bye, now. I'm
coming to see Julia this afternoon. You know I expect to like her."

"Your lunch is waiting, Miss Brenda," said the maid as Brenda started up
the front stairs toward her room.

"Oh, I've had my luncheon," replied Brenda. "You don't think I'd wait
until this time."

"Brenda," called her mother from the library, "it's half-past three.
Where have you been since school?"

"Oh, dear!" grumbled Brenda to herself. "I don't see why I have to give
an account of every step I take. I'll be down in a minute," she called
out, as she continued her way upstairs. When she descended to the
library, she hastened forward with a polite "Good-afternoon" to Julia,
who was seated before the fire with a book in her lap.

"Julia has been reading to me," said her mother.

"We have had a very pleasant hour," added Julia.

"But tell me where you have been," said Brenda's mother. "You know that
it is a rule that you should come directly home----"

Brenda tossed her head.

"Oh, I asked Belle to come and tell you."

"She may have left word that you were not coming, I think that Thomas
gave me some message, but let us hear where you have been."

Mrs. Barlow spoke pleasantly, for she knew by the cloud on Brenda's face
that there might be a storm if for the present she said too much about
her absence from luncheon.

"Yes," added Julia, "do tell us where you have been. I have an idea that
you have had an adventure."

"How could you guess?" exclaimed Brenda, and then, with the ice broken
by these words of Julia's, she gave her mother an animated account of
Nora's bravery, Manuel's beauty and the fruit-woman's picturesqueness.

Mrs. Barlow and Julia were interested. Brenda had a graphic way of
telling a story, and the events of the morning lost nothing by her
telling. But Mrs. Barlow shook her head when Brenda spoke of visiting
Manuel in his home.

"It might not be at all a proper place," she said, "and besides,
Manuel's mother may not care to have strangers visit her. Poor people
sometimes are very sensitive about such things."

Before Brenda had time to argue this point with her mother, the portière
was pushed aside and Belle and Edith came into the room. Julia rose to
shake hands with Belle, while Edith with a very sweet smile, stepping
toward her, said:

"I am glad to see you. I am one of 'the Four.' Brenda's told you about
us. I am Edith."

Julia felt strongly drawn to the pleasant-faced girl. She liked her
better than Belle, although on the two occasions of their meeting the
latter had been markedly polite to her.

"Yes, we're all here now except Nora. We ought to be ready to give her a
serenade, or something like that when she comes. She's really a kind of
a heroine, isn't she?"

"Oh, nonsense, Edith," said Belle. "She did not actually do so very
much. Those horses were not running away, and a little paddy like that
child has as many lives as a cat."

"He _isn't_ a paddy," interrupted Brenda, "but a Portuguese,--a dear
little Portuguese--and Nora was very brave. It's just like you, Belle,
to think that a thing isn't of any account unless you have had something
to do with it."

Belle was silent. In the presence of a stranger she never forgot her
good manners, and Julia was still sufficiently a stranger to act as a
check on the sharp reply which otherwise might have risen to her lips.
Edith now came in as a peacemaker.

"Well, it was great fun to have anything out of the ordinary happen at
school. You can't imagine," turning to Julia, "how stupid it is to have
things go on in the same way day after day. Last week there was a fire
alarm about two blocks away, and just think, the engines passed scarcely
five minutes after recess was over, and Miss Crawdon wouldn't let us run
out to see where the fire was."

"Naturally not," said Mrs. Barlow, as she left the room, adding, as she
passed out,

"By the time you are ready, Julia, the carriage will be here."

"Yes, Aunt Anna," answered Julia, and she, too, after a few pleasant
words with Edith, excused herself with the explanation that her aunt had
promised to accompany her to do some important errands down town.

"Come upstairs with me," said Brenda, with an air of relief, as Julia
left. "There's Nora, now, I know her ring of the bell."

Nora soon joined the other three in Brenda's pretty bedroom.

"Here we are, all four together again," exclaimed Brenda, as she threw
herself down on the chintz-covered sofa. "It's so much pleasanter not to
have any strangers about."

"Do you call your cousin a stranger?" asked Nora.

"Why, yes, any one can see that she's terribly serious, and that she
won't take a bit of interest in the things we do."

"Aren't you going to ask her to join the Four Club?"

"Well, then it wouldn't be a Four Club. Besides five is a horrid number.
You never can plan things together when there are five."

"But you can't leave her out."

"I don't see why not. She'll have other things to do in the
afternoon--like to-day. We needn't tell her about the Club at all, need
we?"

Edith and Nora, to whom Brenda seemed to appeal, said nothing. Belle was
looking out of the window, and though she usually would have agreed with
Brenda, they had lately had so many little disagreements, that she would
not gratify her friend by assenting to her words.

Brenda, however, perceiving that her views were not shared by the other
three girls, decided to avoid discussing Julia any further.

"Let us come to order like a club," she exclaimed, "and decide what we
shall work for this winter."

In the preceding spring the four friends had decided that it would be
very interesting to give their occasional meetings a club form. Instead
of passing their afternoons in mere idle talk, they would have some
object. They would all do fancy work, and perhaps have a sale in the
spring for some charity. Each of the girls had already spent all her
spare pocket-money on materials for needlework, although as yet they had
made but little headway in their work. Nor had they decided for what
object the sale should be held.

"It's a good deal like counting your chickens before they are hatched,"
Mrs. Barlow had said when Brenda consulted her on the subject. "It would
be better to wait until you have enough work for a sale, before deciding
what to do with your money."

In her heart Mrs. Barlow doubted that the girls would make enough money
to be worth giving to any institution. She doubted even that they would
persevere in their work, and have a sale. Brenda, herself, was too apt
to begin with enthusiasm some undertaking which after a while she would
let languish until it came to nothing. In this case Brenda was indignant
at her mother's want of faith.

"Now you know that I'm older than I used to be, and I'm perfectly in
earnest about wanting an object to work for."

"Very well, Brenda," said Mrs. Barlow smiling, "I certainly will not
interfere, only you must give me time to think of a beneficiary for your
money."

Now if the girls had started with a definite object to work for, their
club meetings would have lost much of their interest. As it was, more
than half their time was spent in earnest discussions of the merit of
different institutions. Edith thought that a hospital was the noblest
object of charity, although the others objected that the City or the
State usually looked after hospitals. Nora hoped their money would be
given to some orphan asylum, or a home for old persons, Belle believed
that there was nothing so worthy as the Institution for the Blind, and
Brenda changed her point of view from week to week.

"What are we to work for _this_ week, Brenda?" asked Belle, somewhat
derisively, as she opened her sewing-bag.

"Oh, I don't know. We're not working for anything in particular." Then,
as her eye met Nora's, a new idea came.

"Oh, I'll tell you what, girls,--let us work for--Manuel!"

[Illustration: "'OH, I'LL TELL YOU WHAT, GIRLS,--LET US WORK FOR--MANUEL!'"]



V

MISS CRAWDON'S SCHOOL


A girl's first day at a new school is very trying to her. The scrutiny
which two or three dozen pairs of sharp young eyes give her is hard to
bear. This ordeal is often more dreaded by a girl than many of the
important events of her later years. Now Julia, although she was to go
to school in her cousin Brenda's company, looked forward to her first
day with considerable anxiety. In the first place she was naturally shy,
and in the second place she had never regularly attended school. For the
most part her lessons had been given her by her father. But at times
when they had stayed long enough in some place to make this possible,
she had had special instruction from private teachers. Her father had
been very fond of books and had bought many expressly for Julia's
benefit. She was, therefore, much better read than most girls of her
age. Her education, too, was ahead of that of the average girl of
sixteen. Of this fact Julia herself was unaware. She fancied that
because she had gone to school so little, she would be found far behind
her cousin Brenda and Brenda's friends. Before going to school she had
had an informal talk with Miss Crawdon, in which she had revealed more
to the keen mind of the latter than she had suspected. For Miss Crawdon
never wasted words, and she did not tell the young girl that in some
studies she was far ahead of many of her pupils of the same age. The
teacher's questions had been far-reaching, and she felt pleased at the
prospect of having among her pupils one evidently so fond of books as
Julia.

The young girl, on the contrary, on the way to school with her cousin,
expressed to the latter her fear at the prospect before her.

"Oh, you needn't worry," said Brenda, more patronizingly than she really
intended, "Miss Crawdon won't be hard with you, she knows you haven't
been at school much, and even if you have to start in one of the lower
classes, you'll probably be able to push on rather quickly."

But even this did not reassure Julia. She was thinking less of her
standing in the classes than of the reception she should meet from the
girls. It was by no means comforting to feel the many strange eyes that
followed her as she walked up the stairs with Brenda to enter the main
schoolroom. Miss Crawdon was busy in another room, and Brenda who always
had a great many things on her mind, rushed off to speak to one of the
girls, leaving Julia alone near the door. There were perhaps a dozen
girls standing about in little groups of three or four. They did not
mean to be unkind, but when they saw Julia, they not only glanced
curiously toward her, but for the time ceased their conversation. When
they began to talk again it was not in the loud tone they had used
before, and Julia would have been less than human if she had not
received the impression that they were talking about her. Every one
knows how uncomfortable it is for a girl to feel that she is in the
presence of people who are making comments upon her. As a matter of fact
what they said to one another was almost harmless.

"Is she Brenda Barlow's cousin?"

"What is she in mourning for?"

"How old is she?"

"Do you suppose she is coming here to school?"

This was the kind of question exchanged by the girls, with here and
there a less good-natured comment.

"I don't call her so very pretty."

"She doesn't look like Brenda."

"Wouldn't you say that dress was made in the year one. I never saw such
sleeves."

Unluckily the girl who made this last remark was standing rather nearer
Julia than she had realized. It happened that Julia herself, who usually
cared little for fashion, was sensitive about these very sleeves. They
had been made a little smaller than the prevailing mode required by a
dressmaker whom Julia had employed in a spirit of kindness without
regard to her skill. She had not remembered when dressing that this was
to be her first day at school. When she did recall this fact she had not
thought it worth while to change her gown. She flushed a little when she
overheard the criticism, and walked farther away from the groups toward
Miss Crawdon's desk.

As she stood there looking more serious than usual, she was more than
pleased to hear Nora's well-known voice exclaiming,

"Why, Julia, are you here all alone? Where's Brenda? Dear me, is this
really your first day of school?"

Julia smiled. "I can't answer all your questions at once, but I _don't_
know where Brenda is, and this _is_ to be my first day of school."

"Is that why you look so mournful? Now we're not such a bad lot. Come,
let me introduce you to some of your companions in misery." Then before
Julia could object, she found herself receiving introductions to most of
the girls in the room, even to the very one whose criticism had annoyed
her. She was a thin girl with light hair and eyes and eyelashes. Her
chin was long and her face was somewhat freckled.

"This is Brenda Barlow's cousin Julia," said Nora, pleasantly.

"Yes, I thought you were Brenda's cousin," said the light-haired girl
turning toward Julia. "Brenda's been dreading your coming to school."

Julia flushed as any girl might at a remark of this kind, even while she
realized the unkindness of the speech.

"Nonsense, Frances," said quick-witted Nora, "I'm sure you never heard
Brenda say anything so disagreeable."

But the light-haired girl had turned away. She was in the habit of
making thoughtless remarks without caring whom they hit. Nora gave
Julia's hand a gentle squeeze. "Brenda's just as glad as I am that
you're coming to school," she whispered to Julia. But Julia shook her
head, half sadly. She had already begun to see some of her cousin's
peculiarities.

By this time many girls were rushing in from the dressing-rooms laughing
and chattering as if they must say as much as possible before school
began.

A few curious eyes were turned toward Julia, but most of the girls were
so absorbed in their own affairs that they took no notice of the tall
slender stranger in her black dress.

When Miss Crawdon returned to the room she welcomed Julia very
cordially.

"I have arranged a seat for you here at the side near me," she said. "I
had to have an extra desk brought in as there was no vacant place. But I
dare say that you will not mind being by yourself here."

The seat to which Miss Crawdon pointed was in a little alcove at one
side of her desk. It was so placed that it commanded a view of all the
other desks in the room, yet it was not as conspicuous from the other
desks as it seemed to poor Julia. When she took her seat she felt as if
every one was looking at her. Whereas, in fact, only the girls in the
very front rows could see her plainly. Between Miss Crawdon's desk and
the front seat there was a row of settees where those girls who formed
Miss Crawdon's special classes, sat during recitation. There were other
class-rooms in various parts of the house, but the more advanced girls
recited either to Miss Crawdon or to teachers in the small adjoining
room.

Although Julia was less conspicuous than she imagined, it was not long
before the whole school realized that a new girl had arrived. Most of
them were too polite to show any surprise, but as each class filed
through the room on its way to the recitation-room, many curious glances
were thrown in her direction.

Miss Crawdon had told Julia that she would require no regular work from
her that day.

"Perhaps you would like to look over this history," she had added,
giving her a book, "and after recess, you may like to join the class. By
listening to the other classes this morning you will get an idea of the
kind of work I expect."

So Julia divided the two hours before recess between listening to the
recitations and glancing over the history. It happened to be a history
of France, and the special chapter was one dealing with the reign of
Louis XIV. Julia paid much less attention to the book than she did to
the girls who were reciting. It was all so new to her, for it was really
true that she had never been in a school before. She admired the skill
with which Miss Crawdon asked questions, and she wondered if she would
ever be able to give replies herself, as clear as those of some of the
girls. Yet not all the girls, she observed, knew their lesson, and some
of them showed great cleverness in concealing--or trying to conceal this
ignorance from Miss Crawdon. The latter was unusually proficient in
reading girls, and she generally recognized the evasive answer that was
intended to conceal lack of knowledge. The second class of the morning
was one in English history, the period, the beginning of the reign of
Mary. Julia had been engaged with her own book, but she looked up to
hear Miss Crawdon saying, "So Mary succeeded one of the Princes murdered
in the tower, at least I understood you to say Edward V."

"Yes," answered a voice which Julia recognized as that of Brenda's
friend Belle, "yes, she succeeded her brother, the murdered prince, who
had been beheaded by Katharine of Arragon."

Miss Crawdon did not smile, and Belle could not see the look of surprise
on the faces of some of her classmates. But unfortunately she could see
Julia's face and the involuntary smile on the latter's lips. She turned
very red, and while Miss Crawdon proceeded to set her right, she
registered a vow of dislike against that "prig of a Julia" who evidently
knew more history than she did. Julia, too, caught the disagreeable look
that flashed from Belle's eyes, and she greatly regretted that smile.
Belle was one of those girls who seldom study a lesson thoroughly. She
always had vague general ideas of the topic under consideration, gained
by a rapid survey of the pages assigned for a lesson. When she could do
so unobserved, sometimes during recitation she would look between the
covers of her book to refresh her lagging memory. Nora and Edith and
Brenda were also in the class with her, and sometimes one or the other
of them would prompt her to save her from disgrace. Nora occasionally
had pangs of conscience, and announced that she considered looking in a
book or prompting, dishonorable. But sometimes she yielded to Belle's
signals for help over a hard place. Belle did not often signal, for she
relied as a general thing on her own fluency of language to conceal her
lack of knowledge. Miss Crawdon, however, had what Belle called an
aggravating way of making her repeat her words until her mistakes were
displayed in all their nakedness to the rest of the class.

"It's bad enough," she said to a group surrounding her at recess. "It's
bad enough to have Miss Crawdon always down on one, but really I can't
stand it if Julia is to sit where she can watch everything I do when I'm
reciting to Miss Crawdon. I shouldn't think that you girls would like it
either," she concluded.

"Oh, we're not afraid; we generally know our lessons," answered Frances
Pounder, the girl whose careless remark had hurt Julia's feelings
earlier in the day.

"Well, it doesn't matter whether you know your lessons or not, you can
see for yourself that it's very funny for Miss Crawdon to put any girl
in so conspicuous a place, right beside her, almost. I hate favoritism."

"Why, how you talk, Belle. This cousin of Brenda's hasn't been in school
a day yet, and you talk of favoritism."

"Well, why shouldn't she have been in the history class with us? She
told me she was going to have French history with the older girls. Just
think of it, she's only a little older than we, and she's going to
recite with girls nearly eighteen."

"She isn't so very pretty, is she?" said another girl, and so a
conversation went on which luckily Julia could not hear. She spent the
recess walking up and down with Nora, who was rapidly becoming her most
intimate friend.



VI

MISUNDERSTANDINGS


Little by little Julia accustomed herself to the routine of school. At
first it was much harder for her than any one suspected. Even after she
had become fairly well acquainted with the girls in her classes, she
dreaded each recitation. It was no easy task to put her knowledge into
the definite form needed in answering questions. She had much more
general information than many of her classmates, but nearly all were
better skilled in reciting lessons. Although in history, Latin and
literature she was two classes ahead of Brenda and the three other
inseparables, she was with all but Edith in mathematics, and, rather to
Brenda's delight, a class below them in French. Julia's father had been
much less interested in modern than in ancient languages, and Julia had
had limited opportunities for learning French. Belle, on the contrary,
was a really fine French scholar. She was fonder, indeed, of introducing
French words and phrases into her conversation than should have been the
case with a girl who really understood the French language. Edith
excelled in mathematics, Nora, strange to say, Nora, who was so careless
about most of her lessons, had a real gift for English composition.
Brenda did well in all her studies "by fits and starts," as the girls
said. She had fine powers, her teachers often told her, which she seldom
exerted to the utmost. But Brenda and her friends formed only a small
part of the school, and Julia soon found that in every class she had one
or two competitors whose proficiency spurred her on.

To be perfectly frank, however, it must be said that the majority of
Miss Crawdon's girls were not hard workers. Miss Crawdon, herself, often
felt greatly discouraged that girls with the opportunities of most of
her pupils, should appreciate these opportunities so little. With most
of them attending school was a mere duty, a way in which several months
of each year must be spent until they should "come out." Miss Crawdon
tried in vain to arouse in most of them something more like a passing
interest in their work. Occasionally she found a spark of earnestness in
one of her pupils which she was able to fan into ambition. But more
often she had to give up the attempt to induce a bright girl to become a
genuine student. There were too many distractions out of school, and
parents were apt to be slow in seconding her efforts. Miss Crawdon was
pleased, therefore, to find in Julia a girl who loved study and who was
inclined to persevere.

One day Brenda came home from school in a state of considerable
excitement.

"What do you think, mamma, Julia is going to study Greek! Did you ever
hear of such a thing?"

"Why shouldn't Julia study Greek?" said her mother. "Why are you so
excited about it?"

"Oh, it's so foolish. No girl at Miss Crawdon's ever studied Greek
before. Julia says she's going to college, _is she_? Oh, dear, I think
it's horrid."

"Why, Brenda, really----"

"Well, it makes me so conspicuous."

"How can that be?"

"Why every one will point me out and say, 'Oh it's her cousin who
studies Greek.' It sounds so strong-minded to talk of going to college.
The next thing she'll want to be a teacher."

"It seems to me you are very unreasonable, Brenda. You ought to be glad
that your cousin is so ambitious. I only wish that you were half as fond
of study."

"There, that's it. I knew there'd be comparisons. Oh, dear! It never was
so before Julia came."

"Daughter," said Mr. Barlow from behind his paper. Brenda trembled, for
her father's "Daughter" was generally the introduction to a lecture.
"Daughter, I fear that you are jealous."

Brenda shook her head. "Oh, papa!"

"Yes, Brenda, I have noticed in several ways that you are less kind to
Julia than you should be. How does it happen that you and she never
start off to school together?"

"Brenda is never ready when Julia is," said Mrs. Barlow.

"Ah, Brenda, your habit of tardiness is a very bad one."

"I'm hardly ever late at school. Belle and I get there a full minute
before the bell rings."

"That may be, but it would be better if you and Julia started together."

"She does not have to go alone. Nora is generally with her."

"Ah, Brenda, the point I am trying to make is this; you do not spend
nearly as much time with your cousin as I had hoped you would, and you
are too ready to find fault with what she does!"

"You always blame me, and you never find any fault with Julia. Why
didn't she tell me that she was going to study Greek? The girls all
asked me to-day if I knew about it, and I had to say that I hadn't heard
a word."

"You and Belle have been very much occupied with your own affairs this
week. Julia consulted us about her plans and----"

"Well, _is_ she going to college?" interrupted Brenda.

"I cannot say positively," smiled Mrs. Barlow. "It rests with Julia
herself."

"I never saw anything like it," pouted Brenda. "Julia isn't two years
older than I, and you let her do whatever she wants to. Oh, dear!" And
Brenda pushed aside the portière and left the room.

"That is just what I feared for Brenda," said Mr. Barlow. "Julia's
coming makes her even a little more suspicious than she was before. She
constantly has the idea that something of importance has been concealed
from her which she ought to know."

"Yes," replied Mrs. Barlow, "I am afraid that Brenda is hopelessly
spoiled. We did not realize the danger when she was little. The other
two girls were so different."

"It would not surprise me," responded Mr. Barlow, "if after all some
change should come to Brenda's point of view from having to consider her
cousin more or less."

"If only she _would_ consider her," sighed Mrs. Barlow.

If Julia felt at all slighted by Brenda, she did not say so. Indeed she
was too well occupied with her lessons and her music to be disturbed by
trivial things. What her object was in studying Greek she did not
disclose fully to any one, but she studied diligently the difficult
declensions and conjugations. The serious looking man with eyeglasses
who came to the school three times a week, was an object of much
interest to most of the girls.

"Doesn't he look learned? Oh, Julia, I should think that you would be
frightened to death," said Edith. But Julia smiled.

"I wish myself that Greek were just a little easier. I've got to the
verbs and it seems to me I never shall know them."

"I don't wonder," responded Edith. "I don't see how you ever learn
it,--all those queer letters and marks and things. Well, I should feel
just as though I were standing on my head if I tried to study Greek."

Edith had no vanity about herself, at least in the matter of lessons.
Her special talent was for drawing and mathematics but although she was
conscientious about her school work, she rarely distinguished herself in
her recitations. Like Nora, she had begun to have a great admiration for
Julia. The latter shook her head when Edith spoke of the difficulty she
had in learning Greek.

"It's like everything else," she said, "you can learn it if you make up
your mind to try hard enough."

"I wish that had been the way with my German, for I really did try. Papa
is disappointed, because he wanted me to speak by the time we go to
Europe again."

"Then why don't you persevere? It would please him and it would do you
good. If I were you I would take it up now."

"Well, perhaps I will after Christmas. Miss Crawdon won't let us make
any changes until then."

As Edith watched Julia's diligence and perseverance she really became
ashamed of her own rather indolent way of treating her lessons.

When Nora or Brenda came for her to go to walk early on some bright
October afternoon she was very apt to say, "Oh, I cannot go now, I must
finish studying."

"Well, Edith, I never knew anything so funny," Brenda exclaimed one day
when she and Belle had vainly tried to persuade Edith to walk with them
over the mill-dam. "You never used to make such excuses and I consider
it a perfect waste of time myself to spend such a lovely afternoon
studying. I should think your mother'd want you to have some exercise."

"Oh, I shall have plenty this afternoon. I am going to the gymnasium for
an hour with Julia, and that will answer for to-day. We took a walk
before school this morning."

"You and Nora are too provoking, Edith," exclaimed Brenda rather
pettishly. "Ever since Julia came you seem to prefer spending your time
with her. You never used to be such a book-worm."

"Well, I'm trying to make up for lost time. I wish that I could
accomplish as much as Julia."

"Oh--Julia, Julia, I'm sick and tired of the name," exclaimed Belle.
"Why in the world does she study so much, Brenda?"

"I'm sure I don't know."

"You ought to--you're her cousin. I believe myself that she's going to
be a teacher."

"Belle, it is not nice in you to say that," interposed Edith.

"Why isn't it nice to be a teacher. I thought that you liked them more
than anything else. I am sure that Julia does."

"I dare say she does, but it doesn't follow that she's going to be a
teacher herself."

"Oh, anybody can tell that she's a poor relation--isn't she, Brenda?
Just see how plainly she dresses, and working so to get into college. I
think that your mother and father are very good to give her a home."

Now all this was very presumptuous on Belle's part, but she spoke so
pleasantly and smiled so sweetly at Brenda as she talked that the
latter, though a little irritated, never thought of taking offence at
her. But Belle's words had sunk deeper even than she had intended.
Brenda had a certain kind of pride which was easily touched. She felt
that in some way it was a source of discredit to her to have a cousin
who might be a teacher. For in what other way could she interpret
Julia's intention of studying Greek.

Julia, unconscious of Brenda's feeling, went on quietly without heeding
the disagreeable little remarks that sometimes were made in her hearing
by Brenda. Belle was as polite and agreeable toward Julia as to others
whom she liked better. For it was a kind of unspoken policy of Belle's
to be apparently friendly with all girls of whom she was likely to see
much. If accused of this failing she would not have admitted that she
was two-faced. She merely liked to be popular, and if she sometimes made
ill-natured remarks about a third person, she trusted to the discretion
of those to whom she talked. She did not realize that in time she might
come to be regarded as thoroughly insincere. She had not measured the
relative advantages of "To Be" and "To Seem."



VII

VISITING MANUEL


Two or three weeks after their adventure with Manuel passed before
Brenda and Nora were able to visit him. They talked several times of
going, but something always interfered. Sometimes it was the weather,
sometimes it was another engagement, more often they could not go
because they had no one to accompany them. For it was evident that two
young girls could not go alone to the North End. At length one morning
one of the under teachers in the school offered to go with them that
very afternoon. She had overheard them at recess expressing their sorrow
that they could not go alone.

"Really," pouted Brenda, "I think that mamma is very mean. We could go
as well as not by ourselves, and why we should have to wait for her or
some older person to go with us I cannot see."

"Don't call your mother mean," Miss South said laughingly in passing,
and then as Brenda explained the cause of her rather undutiful
expression, she had added, "Your mother is perfectly right. It would
never do for you to go alone. But I have an errand down near Prince
Street this very day. If you get Mrs. Barlow's permission I shall be
happy to have you go with me." So it happened that one warm, sunny day
in early November, the girls and Miss South exchanged their Back Bay car
at Scollay Square for a Hanover Street electric car. It whizzed swiftly
down a street which neither Brenda nor Nora had ever seen before, filled
with gay shops whose windows were bright with millinery or jewelry--or,
I am sorry to say it--bottles of liquor, amber and red. There was more
display here than in the streets up town.

"Sometimes," said Miss South, "I call this the Bowery of Boston. It is
the chief shopping street of the North End, and on Saturday nights the
poor people do most of their buying. I came here one evening with my
brother. It was really very amusing."

They had been in the car but a few minutes when Miss South gave the
signal for the car to stop.

"It will interest you," she said, "to see this quaint old street. It has
an old-time name, too--'Salem Street.'"

Brenda and Nora glanced around them in surprise. It was a narrow street,
winding along almost in a curve. Though most of the houses were brick, a
number were of wood. Some of them had gable-roofs, and nearly all of
them looked old. Shops occupied the lower part of most of these houses,
and many of them were pawn-shops. As they entered the street it seemed
as if they could hardly pass through. Hooks and poles laden with old
clothes projected from many of these shops, and the sidewalks themselves
held numerous loungers and children. Nora looked interested, Brenda, a
trifle disgusted, as they saw a woman chattering with a hand-cart man
who sold fish.

"Ugh, I wouldn't want to eat it," said the latter.

"Oh, it's probably perfectly good fish," responded Miss South with a
smile. "Only it does not look quite as inviting as it would if shown on
a marble slab in an up-town fish market."

"Are these people _dreadfully_ poor?" asked Nora.

"No," replied Miss South. "This is the Jewish section, and most of the
men here make a pretty good living. They are peddlers, and go out into
the country selling tins or fruit, or they have little shops."

"But these children look so poor!"

"If you will notice more carefully you will see that their clothes are
dingy rather than poor. Nearly all wear good shoes, and there are not
many rags. Many of these Russian and Polish Jews when they first come to
Boston have very little money, and are supported by their friends. But
they soon find a chance to earn their living, and a man coming here
without a cent, in five years sometimes owns a house. I speak of this,
girls, because I have known people to think that dirt and dinginess mean
great poverty."

Nora and Brenda made many exclamations of surprise as they looked down
some of the narrow lanes leading from Salem Street.

"It's just like pictures of Europe, isn't it?" cried Nora; "and then
these people--and the queer signs--Oh! really I think it's _too_
interesting for anything."

The signboards of which Nora spoke certainly did look strange.

Some of them had Russian names, others were in odd Hebrew characters.
Those which were English were peculiarly worded. The owner of a tiny
shop with one little window described himself as a "Wholesale and retail
dealer in dry goods," a corner groceryman called himself an "importer."
The English spelling was not always correct, and the names of the
shop-people were long and odd.

Miss South's errand took her to a large building occupied as an
industrial school. On their way upstairs they saw some boys at work at a
printing press, and Miss South told the girls a little about the boys'
and girls' clubs, which met in this building certain evenings in the
week. Miss South wished to speak to the kindergarten teacher whose
school was on the top floor. Most of the little children had gone home
for the day, and only a few remained whose mothers were out working and
had no one with whom to leave the children. Nora and Brenda exclaimed
with delight at sight of five or six little boys and girls seated in
small chairs around a low table. Nearly all had dark hair and eyes,
although there was one little blonde girl with long, light curls. They
looked at the visitors with small wonder, for they were used to seeing
strangers. Nora at once began to play with the light-haired girl, but
Brenda, after a glance or two, preferred to look out of the window.
Unlike Nora, she was not very fond of children. They did not remain long
in the building, and were soon in the street again.

"Just one block below," said Miss South, "is Prince Street, but before
we go there let us look at Christ Church. Do you realize that you are
under the very shadow of the spire where Paul Revere hung his lantern?"

The girls fairly jumped with surprise.

"Of course I knew it was somewhere down here, but I hadn't an idea it
was so near," said Brenda, while Nora began to recite,

    "Listen, my children, and you shall hear
    Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere."

They had turned the corner again into Salem Street, and following Miss
South, had crossed the street. There before them loomed the gray front
of the old church with its tall spire on which they could read the
inscription:

"The signal lanterns of Paul Revere displayed in the steeple of this
church April 18, 1775, warned the country of the march of the British
troops to Concord and Lexington."

"This is the oldest church building in the city," said Miss South, "and
some Sunday you would find it worth while to come down here to a
service, for the interior has been restored to look just as it did in
its earliest days."

"Oh, how Julia would enjoy that!" exclaimed Nora. "You know that she
just loves old things."

"Yes," continued Miss South, "you must take her, too, to see Copp's Hill
Burying Ground, up this street. We haven't time to go to-day, but if you
do not make other arrangements I shall be very glad to come with you
some Sunday."

"You're awfully good, Miss South," said Brenda. "I don't care so much
for old things myself, but still I'd like to come again."

"I know, Brenda, you like new things--Manuel for instance. Well, you
shall see him in less than five minutes--that is, if he is at home."

They had reached the corner of Prince Street. Like Salem Street this
too, was narrow with quaint old houses. One wooden house which looked as
if it might fall down at any minute bore a placard which warned
passers-by of possible danger. The placard stated that it had been built
in 1723.

"In the time of George II.,--just think of it!" exclaimed Brenda, who
when she wished, could remember dates.

"Rear of No. 11," said Miss South, and they turned down a short alley.
They had not to ask the way, however, for there, in front of the second
house, stood Manuel himself. He looked at them at first without
recognizing them, but when Nora called his name, he took his finger from
his mouth, and in a moment began to smile very broadly. But instead of
running to the girls he turned toward the house.

"Come, come," he said, and almost at the same moment Mrs. Rosa appeared
at the door. She looked very pale and thin and she had an old black
shawl drawn over her head. Nora and Brenda now found that they had lost
their tongues. They really did not know what to say, and they were very
glad that Miss South had come with them. The alley, too, was so dirty,
so different from any place they had ever seen, that they willingly
followed Mrs. Rosa into the house when she asked them to do so.

Mrs. Rosa talked very poor English, but Miss South was able to gather
from what she said that she had been ill for two or three weeks. She had
not been able to go to her fruit stand. Her eldest daughter had been
attending to it for her, a girl twelve years old.

"But why isn't Manuel at school?" asked Miss South.

"Him home for company," smiled Mrs. Rosa, showing both rows of white
teeth.

Miss South shook her head. "He ought to go every day to the
kindergarten."

"His shoes so bad," apologized Mrs. Rosa, and as they all looked at the
little boy they saw a red toe peeping out from one shoe. Nora nudged
Brenda--Brenda smiled assent. The nudge and the smile meant that in
Manuel they were surely going to have a field for their charitable
efforts.

The little room in which they sat looked very poor and bare. It had no
carpet, and the table and the two or three chairs were of unpainted
wood. The most important piece of furniture was the large cook-stove. On
the mantelpiece were various dishes, several of which were broken, and
there were the remains of a meal on the table. Altogether the room did
not look very neat. Although it was not a cold day there was a large
fire burning in the stove where something rather savory was boiling in a
pot.

While Miss South was talking the two girls realized that they had come
rather aimlessly to Mrs. Rosa's. They managed to ask her if Manuel had
run away again, and she smiled as she answered, "Every day," and shook
her head at the little boy.

"Well, he must be careful not to run under the horses' feet," said Nora.

"He won't find some one ready to pull him back every day," chimed in
Brenda, while Manuel and his mother both smiled, though I am sure that
the little boy hardly understood a word of what was said.

"Oh, them 'lectrics," said Mrs. Rosa, "they're awful bad. I whip Manuel
all the time so he won't run in front of them 'lectrics."

"Aren't you afraid whipping will make him run away more often?" asked
Miss South. But Mrs. Rosa looked as if she did not quite understand the
meaning of this question, and after a few more inquiries about the other
children who were still in school, Miss South said it was time to return
home. Before going, Nora gave Manuel a picture-book, and Brenda gave him
a top which they had bought for him.

"Come again," called Mrs. Rosa, waving an end of her shawl at them, and
"Come again" shouted Manuel as they turned from the narrow alley into
the broader street.

"Isn't it perfectly dreadful," exclaimed Nora, "for people to be so
poor."

Miss South was silent for a moment. Then she responded, "There are
different kinds of poverty. Mrs. Rosa seems very poor to you, and it is
true that she has not much money, but if you were to ask her I dare say
that she would tell you that she is better off than when she lived in
the Azores," and then, as she saw that the girls were interested, Miss
South continued, "in Boston she can send her children to good schools,
knowing that when they are old enough, they will find a way to earn a
living. When she herself is out of work, or ill, she is not likely to
suffer, for there are many people and institutions in Boston looking out
for the poor."

"But they look so awfully poor now," said Brenda. Miss South smiled. "I
would not try to make you less sympathetic, Brenda, but you must
remember that a plain uncarpeted room when properly warmed is not so
uncomfortable as it looks. The worst thing about Mrs. Rosa's way of
living is the fact that she and her children are crowded into two small
rooms. At night they bring a mattress from the little bedroom and spread
on the kitchen floor. Three of the children sleep there, while Mrs. Rosa
and the others sleep in the bedroom."

"How can they possibly live that way!" said Nora, who, as a doctor's
daughter, had pretty definite ideas on the subject of ventilation and
hygiene.

"It is indeed a very bad way of doing," said Miss South. "The best way
to help Mrs. Rosa would be to persuade her to take her family to some
country town where they could have plenty of light and air."



VIII

PLANNING THE BAZAAR


Brenda at the dinner-table that evening had much to say about the
expedition of the afternoon. Or rather, she had much to tell about
Manuel and his cunning little ways, about his mother and the poverty of
the family and what she intended to do for them. Her mother smiled, her
father looked interested and said,

"Well, I'm glad that you have found a use for your pocket money. I won't
begrudge it to you as long as it does not all go into Schuyler's candy."

Julia cried, "Oh, Brenda, how I should love to have gone with you," when
Brenda spoke of the old church and the old streets. "Do tell just what
the church was like."

But Brenda's ideas were less definite on these points. She wasn't
exactly sure what Paul Revere had done--for history was not her strong
point--and she was a little annoyed at Julia's surprise at her lack of
interest. Julia did not mean to show any surprise, but it did seem
strange to hear Brenda say rather impatiently in answer to a question
about the church,

"Oh, well, it was a brown church,--no, I think it was gray, with a
steeple, but I didn't notice much. Nora quoted some poetry, but I was in
a hurry to go on to see Manuel, and I think that it's very tiresome to
have to dig up history and things like that out of school."

Mr. Barlow frowned at this. "Before you go to the North End again I hope
you will have your history and your Longfellow fresh in mind. It is
rather a shame for a Boston girl to be ignorant of historic places in
her own city."

"Julia must go with you next time," said Mrs. Barlow, wishing to divert
the conversation from Brenda's shortcomings.

"You'll let me know, won't you," interposed Julia pleasantly, and Brenda
gave a careless "Yes" as she turned to her father and said,

"Oh, papa, I wish that you would let me buy a carpet and a lot of things
for Manuel's mother. You have no idea how poor they seem. Do give me the
money, that's a dear. You never will miss it in the world."

"How much, Brenda, does your modesty lead you to think you need?" asked
Mr. Barlow.

"Oh, I don't know," answered Brenda, whose ideas of the value of money
were very vague indeed. "You might let me buy the things and have them
charged."

"Dear me! that would be worse than giving you the money--worse for my
pocket. I suppose you'd want to do your shopping in some really
fashionable Boylston Street establishment?"

"Now, papa, you're laughing at me!"

"Perhaps I am," replied her father. "But really, Brenda, I don't believe
that Manuel's mother would thank you for a carpet. Didn't you say they
all lived in one room? A bare floor is easier to keep clean."

"Oh, well, I must buy them something, and my pocket money won't go far.
Besides, I've spent all you gave me this month."

"Well, Manuel and his mother and all those brothers and sisters have
lived in Boston very comfortably for several years without any help from
you. If you should give them a carpet they might grow discontented. The
next thing they would want might be a piano, and from what you say I
hardly think that room would hold a piano as well as the whole family
and the cook-stove."

"Oh, papa, I believe that you are making fun of me."

"No, indeed, I am not, but I wish you to be reasonable."

"If there's anything in the world I hate it's that word reasonable. It
always means that I'm not to have what I want."

"There you are _un_-reasonable," answered Mr. Barlow. "We will talk no
more about it now, but some day perhaps your mother will go down with
you to see Manuel, and then you can both tell me whether the Rosas ought
to have a piano as well as a carpet."

With this Brenda had to be content, but the next afternoon when the Four
Club had its regular weekly meeting she and Nora grew excited as they
described the poverty of the Rosas to the other two.

"At any rate we can do a lot of fancy-work this winter," said Brenda,
"and I shouldn't wonder if we were to have a very successful Fair."

"Oh, don't call it a 'Fair,'" said Belle, "that sounds so awfully
common. Bazaar, or Sale--no, Bazaar is best. Let's always speak of it as
a Bazaar."

The others assented, for really they hardly ever dared dissent from
Belle when she laid down the law in this way.

"Well, what else shall we call it, The Busy Bees' Bazaar?" asked Nora.

"Oh, no, that would be dreadful! We needn't decide about the rest of the
name just yet."

"No, I think that it would be better to wait until we have something
ready," said Edith, at which the other three looked up somewhat
surprised. They had never heard Edith make a remark that sounded so
nearly sarcastic.

"Now, Edith, you know very well that we shall have plenty to sell. Just
think how much we'll do if we meet every week ourselves. Then every girl
in school ought to make at least one thing, and we can get any amount
from older people. Really it's the duty of older people to help us all
they can. I should think we might have four large tables just loaded
with fancy-work, besides refreshments and flowers--and--oh, dear me--I
feel quite dizzy when I think of it," cried the sanguine Brenda.

"Aren't you going to ask Julia to join the Four Club?" queried Edith,
turning to Brenda.

"How silly," said the latter. "Of course not. It wouldn't be a Four Club
then."

"But don't you think it must seem a little strange to Julia. We run
upstairs past her room every Thursday, and no one asks her to come."

"Oh, she doesn't care," interposed Belle. "I don't believe that she
cares for anything but study and music."

"Yes," added Brenda, "it drives me half crazy to hear her piano going
half the time."

"Ah, _that's_ what drives you crazy," said Nora, mischievously. "I
thought you had seemed a little queer lately."

Brenda tossed her head, but before she had time to answer this, Edith
returned to the question of Julia.

"Really and honestly, Brenda, I feel very uncomfortable about Julia. We
ought at least to invite her to join us. I dare say she wouldn't come
every week, but I _do_ think that she ought to be asked. It doesn't seem
to me polite to leave her out--or kind."

Again Belle spoke for Brenda. "Really, Edith, you're awfully Puritanic;
that's what everybody says: you're always thinking about the wrong and
right of things."

"Well, why shouldn't I? I'm sure we all intend to do what is right."

"Yes, of course, in a way. But you don't have to keep thinking about it
always. People have to enjoy themselves sometimes, and if we can't enjoy
ourselves in this Four Club we might as well give it up at once."

"Do you mean that Julia would prevent our enjoying ourselves if she
came?" Nora's voice sounded ominously severe.

"I didn't say that, but--well what's the good of talking?" cried Belle,
who saw that she was getting into deep water.

"Yes," chimed in Brenda, "that's what I say too." But Edith continued in
a rather grave voice,

"Of course it's your house, Brenda, and you and Belle started the Club,
and no one can compel you to invite any one you don't want. But I'm sure
if I had my way Julia should be here this minute, and I'm not sure that
I'll stay in the Club if she isn't asked."

"Do you mean you won't work for the Bazaar?" exclaimed Nora in surprise,
thinking of Manuel, and of the dainty needlework at which Edith was so
skilful.

"I haven't said exactly what I'll do," replied the quiet Edith, with
more spirit than she generally displayed. "Only I can tell you that I'm
not going to see Julia left out of things the way she has been."

"Oh, Julia's all right," said Brenda scornfully. "She doesn't know how
to do fancy-work, and she'd just feel bored if she came to the Club. If
you want a 'cause' Edith, you'd better adopt a smaller orphan than
Julia."

"Like Manuel," said Edith, with a bright smile, for, determined though
she was when she had made up her mind about a thing, she was also a
peacemaker. Even when Brenda and Belle most annoyed her, she hesitated
to say sharp things to them, remembering that "A soft answer turneth
away wrath."

"Yes, like Manuel," said Nora, taking up Edith's words. "I won't give
Manuel up to you, for you know that I mean to adopt him myself, but he
has a sister, or two of them for that matter, and I shouldn't wonder if
either of them would give you enough to do."

"Oh, yes," said Brenda, "they both looked as if they needed lots of
clothes. But they have the _sweetest_ black eyes."

"Well, then, why shouldn't we make dresses or aprons or something like
that, before we get started on our work for the Bazaar?" asked Edith.

"Oh, how can you?" cried Belle. "Horrid calico dresses and things like
that--I should just hate them."

"There, don't get excited," said Nora. "I've thought of that myself. But
my mother says there are plenty of Societies and Sewing Circles we can
get clothes from, if the Rosas really need clothes. She says it would be
bad to begin giving them things."

"Well, then, what are we going to have a Bazaar for?" asked Brenda.

"For fun," responded Belle, so promptly that Nora looked at her a little
suspiciously.

"No," replied Nora, "not for fun, but we've got to have an object in a
Club of this kind, and besides there'll probably be other things we can
do for the Rosas."

"Send them to the country in the summer, perhaps," said Edith.

"There are the Country Week people," cried Belle. "They always do things
like that."

"Let's wait until we get the money," said Brenda, grandly. "Perhaps
we'll have enough to buy them a house--or----"

"Or a horse and carriage," laughed Edith. "Oh, Brenda, you _are_ so
unpractical."

"There, there," said Nora, who saw another cloud rising over the horizon
of the Four Club. "Let's talk of something sensible."

"What are you working at, Belle?"

Belle held up a pretty piece of blue denim on which she had begun to
outline a pattern in white silk. "This is to be a sofa cushion," she
said in answer to Nora's question. "People always like to buy them, and
this shade of blue goes with almost anything."

"Oh, it's too sweet for anything," said Nora, enthusiastically.

"Yes, indeed," added Edith, with perfect sincerity. "You do such perfect
needlework that I really envy you."

Both Nora and Edith were glad to praise Belle's skill, for although they
knew that they themselves had been in the right, they realized that
Belle would not feel very kindly toward them for not siding with her in
the matter of Julia. Nora, like Edith, was a peacemaker, and both wished
the afternoon to end as pleasantly as possible.

Belle was by no means indifferent to the praise of her friends. She
really could do very fine embroidery and she took considerable pride in
her work.

"I never _could_ have patience to do anything like that," said Nora,
whose specialty was crocheting. "I like to do something that I needn't
look at all the time. I could crochet an afghan almost in the dark."

"Yes, but an afghan is such an endless piece of work."

"Well, I don't suppose I'll make _many_ of them for the Bazaar."

"I should say not," said Edith. "What are you going to do first, Brenda?
You haven't had a needle in your hand this afternoon."

"I know it, I know it," cried Brenda, the heedless. "But I can't think
what to begin first," and she opened the bottom drawer of her bureau,
where were displayed a tangled heap of linen and floss and gold thread
and silk plush and other materials for fancy work which she had bought
at different times. There were cushion covers and doilies in which a few
stitches had been taken, only to be thrown aside for something else, and
some of them were in so soiled a condition that they were not likely to
be good for anything.

"Oh, what a wicked waste of money, Brenda Barlow," exclaimed Nora, as
she looked at the contents of the drawer.

"Well, at any rate it shows that I have had good intentions," said
Brenda.



IX

A MYSTERIOUS MANSION


At the corner nearly opposite Miss Crawdon's school stood a large,
old-fashioned mansion of brick painted light brown. It was a detached
house almost surrounded by a high wall. In the wall was a pillared
gateway, and each pillar was surmounted by two large balls that looked
as if they had dropped from the mouth of a great cannon. Behind the
fence and close to the house were two little garden beds, and there were
three or four trees in the yard back of the house. It was said that the
mansion had once been surrounded with extensive grounds that sloped down
hill almost to the river. But new streets and houses had gradually
encroached on these grounds until hardly a trace of them remained. There
was never a sign of life seen about the old house. Windows and doors
were always closed. Even the blinds were seldom drawn up, though once in
a while at an upper window, some of the schoolgirls said that they had
seen a woman's figure seated behind the lace curtains. Occasionally,
too, on sunny days they had noticed a large, old-fashioned carriage
drive up under the porte-cochère, while an old lady very much wrapped
up, and attended evidently by a maid, entered it. In taking their walks
at recess the girls always passed this house, and, as schoolgirls, they
naturally felt much curiosity about the lady who occupied it, since she
seemed to be surrounded by an air of mystery.

They knew, of course, her name--Madame du Launy--and some of the girls
had heard more about her from their parents.

"My mother," said Frances Pounder, "says that my grandmother told her
that Mme. du Launy was a very beautiful girl. She married a Frenchman
whom her family despised, and she stayed in Europe until after her
father's death."

"Was the Frenchman rich?" asked Edith, in rather an awe-stricken voice,
for the story sounded very romantic. The girls at this moment happened
to be seated on the steps leading to the school, and Frances was in her
element when she had an interested group hanging on her words.

"Oh, dear, no, he wasn't rich at all. He was a cook, or a hair-dresser,
or something like that, only very good looking. But when Mme. du Launy's
father died, she had three little children, and her father was so
proud--he was a Holtom--he couldn't bear to think of her coming to want,
so he left her all his fortune just the same as if she hadn't married
beneath her."

"That was right," said Nora approvingly. "I think it's ridiculous for
fathers to cut their children off with a penny, the way they used to."

"Well," responded Frances, "I think it's a great deal more ridiculous
for people to marry beneath them."

"Of course you'd think that, Frances," interposed Belle.

"There, there, don't begin to quarrel, children," said Nora. "Go on with
the story, Frances. What did Mme. du Launy do when she got her money?"

"Oh, she brought her Frenchman and her children to Boston, and she lived
at a hotel while she began to build this house. Some people went to see
her, but the Frenchman was a terribly ill-mannered little thing, and
nobody liked him because he was so familiar. Mme. du Launy and he were
hardly ever invited anywhere, and they spent most of their time driving
about in a great carriage which held the whole family, and a maid and
governess."

"I should think they would have stopped building the house."

"Oh, no," said Edith, "they kept on, and after a while they went to
Europe to buy things for it. They had more than a ship-load, and they
say that everything was perfectly beautiful,--foreign rugs, and
tapestry, and glass, and gilt furniture."

"Dear me, I should love to have seen it."

"Well, it's all there in the house now, but you'd have to be a good deal
smarter than any one I know to see it."

"Why Frances, do you mean that no one ever goes there?" asked Julia.

"Yes, that's just what I mean. I don't suppose any one in Boston except
the doctor, and two or three very old people, have ever been inside that
door."

"Yes, that's true," added Edith. "I've heard my mother speak of it. Mme.
du Launy is terribly peculiar."

"I should think she'd be lonely," said Julia.

"I dare say she is," replied Frances, "but it's awfully selfish to shut
up a great house like that."

"Why does she do it?"

"Oh, I believe, when she came back from Europe the second time she set
out to give a great ball. She sent invitations to every one, no matter
whether people had called on her or not. Of course very few people went,
only her relations and a few others. This made her so angry that she
vowed she'd have nothing more to do with people in Boston. Not long
afterward her husband died, then her children died or turned out badly,
and she has just lived alone ever since."

"It sounds rather sad," said Julia, when Frances had finished.

"Nonsense, Julia," said Brenda, "you're so sentimental."

"No, she isn't at all," cried Edith, "it is really sad. I wonder what
became of the children."

Here Belle spoke up. "I've heard that the boys all died. One of them ran
away to sea and was drowned. But I believe the girl married some one her
mother didn't like, and so she disinherited her. She may be living
somewhere, but she must be an old woman herself, for my grandmother says
that Mme. du Launy is about eighty."

As the girls looked toward the house they saw a figure standing behind
the curtains of the window over the front door.

"There she is now," the girls cried.

"Wouldn't you like to go inside?" said Nora to Edith.

"I don't know that I'm really anxious to," replied the latter.

"Oh, I am," said Nora, and a moment later she cried out to Frances,
"Frances, you are rather clever, can't you suggest some way by which I
can find my way inside that house? Wouldn't one of your great aunts give
me an introduction to Mme. du Launy? I'm just dying to see what is
inside those brick walls."

"No," responded Frances, rather scornfully; "if they could they
wouldn't, but I'm sure they haven't kept up any acquaintance with Mme.
du Launy."

"Well," replied Nora, "I'll find a way. Mark my words, before the
present crescent moon is old I shall have at least a speaking
acquaintance with Mme. du Launy. Poor thing, she must be very lonely."

"I don't believe she'd appreciate your society particularly, Nora, for
one thing you're pretty young," said Edith.

"No matter, I'm going to know her. Come, Brenda, I'll confide in you."

So Brenda and Nora walked down the street, leaving the other girls to
wonder what they were planning. This was by no means the first time that
the girls at Miss Crawdon's school had discussed Mme. du Launy and her
affairs. Indeed, each set of girls had wondered about her and her
beautiful furniture, and her music box that played a hundred airs, and
all her foreign treasures, and her possessions lost nothing in splendor
as the girls told what they had heard about them.

Of the four friends, Belle and Edith were most indifferent to the house
across the way. But a number of others among the schoolgirls seemed
inclined to join Nora and Brenda in whatever they were planning. One day
as they walked about at recess they saw the old lady leave the house and
enter her carriage. They were too polite to stand and gaze at her, but
some of them could not resist the temptation of staring at the carriage
as it rolled by.

The next day Nora and Brenda were seen to be very much interested in
playing ball. They tossed it from one to the other, and occasionally as
they passed the brick mansion they let it roll within the gateway on the
gravelled walks. There were half a dozen girls walking in front of the
old house and tossing the ball. As they played, the ball rose higher and
higher. Nora and Brenda were standing almost inside the gateway, when
suddenly the ball seemed to fling itself against one of the windows, and
the crash of breaking glass was heard. Some of the girls looked
frightened and hurried across the street toward the school. Brenda too,
started to go, but Nora took her by the hand. "Remember your promise,"
she said, so loudly that two of the other girls who were crossing the
street, turned about and joined them. Just at that moment the
school-bell rang, and rather reluctantly the girls turned back to
school. Nora and Brenda paid very little attention to their lessons the
rest of the morning. Some of their friends who had witnessed the
mischief done by the ball were also excited. They all more than half
expected to see Mme. du Launy's aged servant-man make his appearance to
complain of the injury done to the window. As it drew near two o'clock
and nothing of the kind had happened, they were really disappointed.

"We're not going home with you," cried Nora, as she and Brenda and the
two other conspirators walked down the steps of the school.

"Why not?" asked Edith from the dressing-room.

"Oh, we have something to attend to," replied Nora.

"Well," said Edith, "luncheon is the most important thing that I have to
attend to just now."

"What shall I say to your mother?" asked Julia, as she saw Brenda
preparing to turn in the opposite direction from home.

"Don't say anything, Julia. I'm not a baby to need looking after."

Julia had no answer for this inconsiderate speech, for indeed she had
become only too well accustomed to Brenda's little rudenesses.

"Let's wait and see what they are going to do," suggested Edith, looking
toward Nora and Brenda and the two or three others who had joined them.

"I must go on," answered Julia. "I ought to be at----"

"I'll wait," spoke up Belle. "Come, you can stay, Edith."

So the two friends waited near the school while Brenda and Nora and the
others crossed the street to Mme. du Launy's mansion. They were
surprised to see them ring the bell, and after a moment, when the door
was opened, to see them step inside.

Not many minutes later they saw the door reopen, as the girls, looking
somewhat crestfallen, turned away from the house.

"What in the world were you up to?" called Belle, rather excitedly as
they turned homeward.

"Wait till we get out of sight of the house," said Nora, "and I'll tell
you. It was this way, I had just made up my mind that I'd see the inside
of that house. Frances Pounder seemed so sure I couldn't. So I thought
and thought, and to-day when we were playing ball you see we broke the
window."

"On purpose! I do believe. Why, Nora, I should think you'd be ashamed!"

"Well, I had the money in my pocket to pay for it. That was what we went
for after school. But that queer old butler,--really I almost laughed in
his face. However, I managed to say, 'I'm extremely sorry, but I broke a
pane of glass in the window over the front door when I was playing ball
this morning.' 'We hadn't discovered it, miss,' he said, as solemn as
could be. 'Then you might go and look,' I replied, 'and if you will
please tell Mme. du Launy that I'd like to pay for it, I'll be greatly
obliged.' I thought that while he was looking at the glass and talking
to the old lady, he'd at least ask us into the reception-room, or
drawing-room. But not a bit of it. There's a little vestibule just
beyond the front door, and there he left us. He asked us to sit down,
and we did sit down on the edge of two great black settles there in the
marble vestibule. When he came back I felt sure he was going to take us
straight up to Mme. du Launy. Instead of that he merely said: 'Mme. du
Launy presents her compliments, and is greatly obliged to you for
telling her about the window. She couldn't think of letting you pay for
it, as an apology is quite enough.'"

"And you didn't see anything in the house?"

"No, not a thing; though as he opened the door into the hall we caught a
glimpse of a big gilded table and an enormous piece of tapestry over the
stairs. Wasn't it mean, after all our efforts?"

"Who has won the bet, you or Frances?" asked Belle.

"I'm not sure. I have been in the house and I haven't," replied Nora.

"I should think you'd have been frightened to death. What would you have
done if you had seen the old lady?"

"I don't know, I'm sure. There were so many of us we shouldn't have been
frightened," and Nora looked at Brenda and the other girl who were
vehemently describing the adventure.



X

A SOPHOMORE


When Edith's brother Philip came in from College to spend Saturday and
Sunday, Edith's house was apt to be a rendezvous for the other girls.
Not that Philip was likely to waste much time with mere girls. Not he!
He was a Harvard sophomore, and realized his own importance quite as
much as the girls did. But still there was always the chance that he
would come into the room just for a minute, and tell them some of the
latest Cambridge news. He would have scorned to call it gossip. If there
was any one thing in the world he hated--so he said--it was girls' talk,
this jabbering about nothing. For his part he wouldn't waste his time
_that_ way. Yet, when he had an appreciative audience,--and girls
generally appreciated what Philip said,--he would often spend as much as
half an hour talking about the fellows--how beastly it was Jim Dashaway
couldn't row on the crew, and he would grow almost enthusiastic when
describing the tussle between Ned Brown and Stanley Hooper over the
respective merits of Boston and New York in which Hooper, the New
Yorker, was terribly beaten.

"And upon my word," he concluded, "I wasn't sorry, for the New York set
is getting just unbearable. I wouldn't so much mind fighting Stanley
Hooper myself about New York and Boston. I guess I'd show him that New
York isn't the whole world."

"I should say not," exclaimed Nora; but Belle, who had some New York
cousins, was silent. Brenda, however, noticing Belle's expression, and
not feeling disposed to side completely with Nora, said,

"You're terribly narrow, Nora, to think that nobody's any good unless he
comes from Boston."

"I didn't say so," replied Nora.

"No, but that's what you mean, and I'm surprised, Philip Blair, that a
boy should be so awfully one-sided."

"Well, you'd better talk, Brenda Barlow," broke in Nora again. "Just see
the way you treat Julia. If she'd been born in Boston----"

"I don't treat her," interrupted Brenda.

"No, that's just it, you don't treat her decently."

"Oh, I say," said Philip, from his place in front of the mantelpiece,
"how queer girls are; do you always fight like this when you're
together?"

"We don't fight like you boys," answered Edith, good-humoredly. "We
don't knock each other down and run the risk of breaking one another's
noses."

Philip looked over his shoulder in the glass. There was nothing the
matter with his own shapely nose, and I doubt that he would have run any
such risk as Edith suggested. Perhaps this was the reason why Philip was
not a fighter. There was one good thing about the little disputes in
which Brenda and Belle indulged. They very seldom lasted long. In the
present instance the girls were ashamed of having shown temper before
Philip. The latter, however, did not dwell on their weakness.

"Oh, say, did you hear about the time Will Hardon had with the Dicky,
last week?" he asked.

Nora nodded. She, too, had a brother in College.

"What was it?" asked Edith. "You haven't told _me_, Philip."

"How funny you are, Edith," said Belle. "You never hear anything. Hasn't
anyone told you how the other fellows made him run blindfolded in his
shirt sleeves down Beacon Street?"

"No, really?"

"Of course, really!"

"And then they led him up the steps into Mrs. Oxford's when she was
giving an afternoon tea, and when they took the bandage off his eyes
there he was in his shirt sleeves, without his hat, and his hair all
tumbled, and everybody looking at him."

"Oh," said one girl, and "Ah," said another; and "How silly!" they all
cried together.

"If girls amused themselves like that what fun you'd make of us!" said
the practical Nora.

"I shouldn't think there'd be much fun in making anybody uncomfortable."

"Oh, it gives a fellow a chance to show what kind of stuff he's made
of," explained Philip, "whether he has good manners, and whether he's
clever--and all that."

"There must be better ways of showing bravery," said the practical
Edith. "I don't believe you know a bit more about Will Hardon's bravery
than you did before."

"We knew something about his manners."

"What?"

"Why, when he saw where he was, he didn't run away, or flunk out. He
only looked a little sheepish, the other fellows said, but he just bowed
to the ladies, and saying politely that he was sorry to have disturbed
them, he walked off as nice as you please."

"Wasn't he mad at the two fellows for taking him there?"

"Of course not; that's a part of the thing. Why, there are fellows in
Cambridge who would go through fire and water, or stand on their heads
in front of a pulpit for the sake of getting into the Dicky. I tell you
we make some of them suffer."

Philip said "we" with a rather important air, although he had belonged
to the illustrious organization a very short time.

"Well, I think you're perfectly horrid," cried Brenda, "I mean the
Dicky. I've heard about the way you make people suffer, branding them
with hot cigars, and making them run barefoot winter nights, and doing
all sorts of useless things."

"If you went to College you'd see more use in them."

"I'm glad girls don't go to College."

"Oh, some do!"

"Not girls we know."

"I'm sure I can't tell," said Philip rather crossly, "there are a lot of
girls studying in Cambridge now at the Annex, and the fellows don't like
it at all."

"Well, I declare," exclaimed Nora, "I'd like to know what difference it
makes to them."

"Oh, they hate to see these girls going about with books, and trying to
get into Harvard."

"Yes, trying to break down the walls," said Nora, sarcastically.

"Oh, see here, it would just spoil everything to have women in the
classes with us."

"Are you afraid they'd get ahead of you?" asked Edith, gently.

"Now, look here, Edith, I don't want you to talk that way," responded
Philip with brotherly authority. "There isn't any danger of girls
getting ahead of us."

"Why, I heard," said Nora, "that one of the professors----"

"Oh, yes, I've heard it too," interrupted Philip. "I've heard that some
professors say that their Annex classes do better work than ours,--but
anybody can tell that that's all rot."

"I believe it's all perfectly true," said Nora.

"Well, I wish myself that our English instructor hadn't such a fondness
for reading themes to us that the girls have written. He makes out that
they are better than ours, but I can't say that I see it myself."

"Who gets the best marks?"

"I'm sure I can't say. He gives us such beastly marks that I dare say he
makes it up with the girls. But I wouldn't let a sister of mine go to
College," he concluded inconsequently.

"It's a good thing Edith doesn't wish to go," said Nora; adding
mischievously, "but Brenda Barlow's cousin Julia is going."

Brenda blushed, for Julia's intention of going to College was still a
sore point with her.

"Does Julia wear glasses, or look green? I beg your pardon, Brenda----"

"No, she doesn't," said Nora shortly. "She's about the nicest girl I
know."

"Oh, she is lovely," added Edith.

"A matter of opinion," murmured Belle under her breath.

"You don't mean to say you haven't seen her," cried Brenda in surprise.

"No, I haven't happened to," answered Philip.

"She's invited to my cooking party next week," said Nora. "You know that
you've accepted too, so you'll see her."

"Oh, yes, by the way," said Philip, "what evening is it?"

"Friday, of course," replied Nora, "so we can sit up late without
thinking about school the next day."

"Well, you'll see me sure," said Philip. "But see here, it's five
o'clock now and I have an engagement down town."

Philip hurried off, bowing in a very grown-up way to the group of girls.
For whatever criticisms any one might make about Philip's indolence and
disinclination to study, no one could deny that he had very good
manners. Though only about four years their senior, he seemed much older
than Brenda and her friends. Years before they had all been playmates
together, but his two years in College had taken him away from them, and
it was not often that he condescended to spend as long a time in their
presence as had been the case this afternoon.

"Do you think that Philip looks very well, Edith," asked Belle when he
had left the room.

"Why, of course, don't you?" replied Philip's sister.

"It seemed to me he was just a little pale."

"He is always pale," said Edith.

"Do you suppose he sits up too late?" asked Brenda.

"I'll warrant he doesn't study too much," said Belle.

"How can you?" cried Nora. "How can you criticise Edith's brother? Don't
let her do it, Edith."

"It doesn't trouble me," answered the placid Edith. "I know all about
Philip, and he's good enough for me."

"That's right," said Nora. "Always stand up for your brother. But I do
think he might have better friends. He really isn't very particular."

"Why, what do you mean?"

"Oh, I don't know exactly, but I heard my brother talking the other day.
He says there are two or three fellows just sponging off of Philip all
the time, and Philip is too good-natured to say anything."

"I wonder how he'll like Julia," said Edith.

"Oh, he won't like that kind of a girl," hastily interposed Belle. "Boys
never like a girl who studies; especially one who is going to College."

"Well, Julia is just the nicest girl _I_ know," said Nora, repeating the
words she had used to Philip.

"And Philip is one of the nicest young men I know," said Brenda,
politely, turning to Edith. "But don't tell him I said so," she added
with a blush.

"Oh, no, of course not," laughed Edith, as the girls separated for the
afternoon.



XI

THE COOKING CLASS


Nora's cooking party was not altogether a pleasure affair. It was the
result of her father's desire that she should have some knowledge of
domestic matters before she left school. Dr. Gostar was a busy man,
having little time to spend with his children. His practice was large,
but as he gave his services as willingly to poor as to rich people, he
had not accumulated much money. Nora's home, however, was a very
pleasant one. The numerous members of the family used all the rooms with
the greatest freedom. As the four other members of the household besides
Dr. and Mrs. Gostar and Nora were boys, the furnishings of the house had
a well-worn, comfortable look. No one was kept out of any particular
room. The boys had a large play and workroom in the attic, but when they
wished to sit in the library (which other people might have called a
"drawing-room") they were not forbidden.

Mrs. Gostar, though fond of society, was never too busy to hear what her
children had to say, to read to them or hear them tell about their
school, or to sympathize with them in any way. She had agreed with Dr.
Gostar when he had expressed a wish to have Nora learn cooking.

"I am anxious," he had said, "that my little daughter shall know how to
cook. I have been so often in houses where wives and mothers have been
quite helpless when a cook left, that I should be very sorry to have
Nora grow up as ignorant as they. I know that a great deal of sickness
comes from eating badly prepared food."

Nora herself had been rather pleased at the prospect of learning to
cook. But Belle thought it very vulgar, and for a time was not sure
whether or not she would join the cooking-class.

During the first winter the girls had had lessons once a week. But
through this season of Julia's arrival in Boston, they had met to
practice cooking only once a month. The lessons always were given at
Nora's house, because, as Edith said, her cook wasn't too fashionable to
let them fuss around in the kitchen.

The first winter they had had a teacher, but this year they were
supposed to know enough to concoct certain dishes themselves. The
cooking party took place on the third Friday of the month, and from six
to eight the girls were busy cooking. At eight o'clock any guests whom
they had invited arrived, and at nine o'clock they had a little supper.
They were not permitted to have too elaborate a bill of fare. Even as it
was, Belle's grandmother protested against what she called an
indigestible supper served at this hour. As a matter of fact it was not
apt to be indigestible. Dr. Gostar himself usually made out the list of
eatables. Light salads, simple cakes, bouillon, ices, blanc-manges,
jellies, oysters or eggs cooked in various styles, and chocolate
prepared with whipped cream, were conspicuous on the list from which he
made his selection. But the girls on any given evening were restricted
to one sweet, one solid and two kinds of cake. With the assistance of a
maid each girl in turn set the table, and sometimes, besides their young
friends, their parents were present to see what their skill and taste
had accomplished.

"There, there, Edith, I'm sure your cake is burning," cried Nora on the
Friday evening after their talk with Philip.

"Oh, dear, I can't do anything about it now; I've cut my fingers," and
Edith held up her hands rather plaintively.

"Here, take my handkerchief," said Brenda; and before Edith could stop
her she was binding up the wound with a delicate lace-trimmed
handkerchief. It was Agnes's birthday present to her, sent from Paris,
and intended only for full dress occasion.

"Why, Brenda, that lovely handkerchief!" exclaimed Belle, who was
looking on.

"Oh, it won't hurt it. How does your finger feel, Edith?"

"It feels all right, for it wasn't a deep cut, but with my right hand
tied up I don't believe I can lift that cake out of the oven," and Edith
looked about helplessly, for she was not used to battling with
difficulties.

Over her dress each girl wore a long-sleeved blue-checked apron--each of
them at least except Julia. This was her first appearance at the
cooking-club, and as Brenda had forgotten to tell her about the aprons,
she was unprepared. She had on a small white apron, borrowed from Nora,
and when Edith spoke about the cake, she seized a holder, and opening
the oven door, lifted the pan out. As Edith feared, the cake was burned,
though not the whole top, but black spots here and there gave it a very
unsightly appearance, and Edith felt very much disturbed as she looked
at it.

"How provoking! That was the only cake we were to have to-night, and
there isn't time to make another."

"Oh, we can do something," cried Julia. "Let me help you."

"I don't see what we can do," half moaned Edith.

"I'll show you," cried Julia hopefully. "You have plenty of sugar and
eggs--and----"

"But really there isn't time to make anything not to speak of baking it,
and, oh, dear, I am so unlucky!" sighed poor Edith.

"Nonsense," said Julia. "You haven't any idea what I can do. I shall
just have to show you," and she began to break the eggs into a bowl,
beating them and stirring into them a liberal amount of sugar. "Run,
Brenda," she cried, "and bring me a sheet of that brown wrapping paper."

Brenda obeyed, and after buttering the paper, Julia dropped her mixture
of sugar and eggs, a spoonful at a time, here and there, on the paper.

"Oh, I know," cried Brenda. "Kisses, but I never would have thought of
it myself."

"Well," responded Julia, "there is nothing you can bake so quickly, and
almost every one likes them. There, this first batch must be ready now,"
and she opened the oven door to remove the pan with its sheet of kisses,
delicately browned and of the size and shape that a confectioner could
not surpass. Two or three other lots were baked before there were
enough. By the time they were finished Edith's finger had ceased to pain
her, and she was helping place the other eatables on the dumb-waiter.

From the floor above there came the sound of laughter, and the voices of
the boys could be heard mingled with those of the girls as they called
to the three kitchen maidens.

At last, with the help of Hannah, the maid, who had come down from the
floor above, all the kitchen work was declared at an end.

"That's all," shouted Brenda, as Belle and Philip gave a final pull on
the cords of the dumb-waiter.

A moment later Edith and Julia and Brenda entered the dining-room, with
faces perhaps a little flushed, but otherwise looking very unlike the
three cooks they had been a few minutes before.

Under Nora's direction the dining-table had been exquisitely arranged.
There was a great glass bowl of pink roses in the centre, and the plates
and cups were of china with a wild rose border. The candles in the
silver candelabra at each end of the table had pink shades.

"There, you go, Philip, and tell the others that supper is ready," said
Nora, glancing at the table and giving a final touch to one or two
dishes.

With Philip leading, the guests trooped into the dining-room. "Trooped"
is perhaps too boisterous a word to apply to the procession of young
people who came into the room two at a time with a fair amount of
dignity. To Julia, in fact, they appeared to a certain extent to be
imitating the demeanor of their elders. She could not help thinking that
the manner with which Belle let herself be led to a chair was entirely
too coquettish, and only Nora seemed to be her real self in the presence
of the guests.

But Julia was not a harsh critic, and before very long she forgot that
she had not always known these merry young people. She laughed at the
jokes made by the boys, although she did not always see the point of
them. Most of these jokes turned on something connected with college.
For every one of them was in Harvard, although some were only Freshmen.
The stories that they thought the funniest dealt with the queer things
that some of their friends had had to do when undergoing initiation into
one of the College Societies, and many of their doings seemed really
inane.

Before they had been long in the dining-room Mrs. Gostar joined them,
and later Dr. Gostar himself appeared. The presence of these elder
people lessened the laughter only a very little, for all the young
people knew that Dr. Gostar enjoyed fun as well as they.

"What was the catastrophe to-night?" he asked Nora, for it was a
favorite joke of his that at each meeting of the cooking-class some dish
suffered. When he had heard about the disaster to Edith's cake he
praised Julia so heartily for having come to the rescue that she blushed
deeply. Even without this success in cooking, Julia would have been
voted a great addition to the cooking-class. There was something very
pleasing in her gentle manners, and Belle, to her surprise, found
herself growing a little jealous of Brenda's cousin. Before this she had
not thought her sufficiently important to arouse jealousy.



XII

CONCERNING JULIA


In the meantime the Four Club held regular meetings, and every Thursday
afternoon Julia heard Edith and Nora and Belle rushing up past her door
to Brenda's room on the floor above. Of course in a general way she knew
what was going on, for the affairs of the Four Club were no secret. Yet
although from time to time Brenda and her friends dropped a word or two
regarding their doings, they never talked very freely about the club.

Nora and Edith were silent because they were sorry that they could not
persuade Brenda to let them invite Julia to the meetings. Brenda said
little about the club, because possibly she was ashamed of her own
indifference. As to Belle, she never had had much to say to Julia, and
in this case although she felt pleased that her influence chiefly had
kept Brenda from counting her cousin in the club group, she hardly
ventured to express this feeling in words. There might as well have been
five girls as four in the group working for the Bazaar and no one knew
this better than Brenda and Belle themselves.

Although Julia had a pretty correct idea of what was going on, she tried
to show no feeling in the matter. Her studies, her music, and her
exercise occupied almost all her afternoons, and she reasoned with
herself that even if she had been invited, it would have been only a
waste of time for her to spend hours at fancy-work, which might
otherwise have been more profitably employed. But after a while, when
through the half-open door she heard her friends running upstairs, she
sometimes felt a thrill of disappointment that they did not care enough
for her to stop on their way to ask her to join them. Now Julia meant
always to be fair in her thoughts, as well as in her actions towards
others. So at first when she found that she was left out of the plans of
her cousin and her friends, she reasoned with herself somewhat in this
fashion.

"Now, Julia, you know that you are a newcomer, and you cannot expect
that you will be taken in all at once, just wait."

But after she had waited a good while, she began to feel a little hurt,
although she did her best to conceal her feeling from Nora and Edith. In
the meantime the latter two girls argued warmly with Brenda, and tried
to make her see that it was mean to keep Julia out of the Four Club.

"Nonsense," said Belle, who happened to overhear them, "Julia herself
would say that it was awfully stupid to sit for a whole afternoon,
sewing."

"Well, if she did not work harder than--well than Brenda does, she would
not be very much bored; besides she could look out of the window part of
the time, the view there is perfectly fine," responded the lively Nora.

Brenda had tried to speak when Nora had made this very unflattering
allusion to her own lack of industry, and when Nora finished she said,
holding up a square of linen on which a wreath of yellow flowers was
half embroidered,

"There, I've done all this this month."

"That's very good for you," said Belle, patronizingly, "but I'd be
willing to bet----"

"Don't say 'bet,'" murmured Edith.

"I'd be willing to bet anything," continued Belle, "that you'll never
finish it."

"Why, Belle," continued the others.

"No, you won't," repeated Belle, "you never could, you'll get tired of
the pattern or of the color, or you will spoil it in some way, and throw
it into the fire, or worse into that bottom drawer of yours with all
those other specimens."

Brenda, instead of growing angry at this, only laughed.

"Well if I don't wish to finish it, I certainly won't," she replied.
"But it happens that I have made up my mind to finish it this Autumn,
before Christmas, in fact, so you can make your bet as large as you
please, and pay the money into the fund for Manuel's benefit, for I
shall win."

The girls were all a little surprised at Brenda's reply. She was more
ready usually to answer pettishly any criticism made by Belle.

"Very well," said Belle, "Edith and Nora are my witnesses, and we shall
watch to see when you finish that centrepiece."

"Yes, indeed, Brenda," laughed Nora, "indeed we shall follow the career
of this wreath with great interest, and now since you seem to be in an
amiable frame of mind, let us go back to Julia. It seems terribly mean
not to ask her to join us."

The pleasant expression on Brenda's face changed to a frown.

"I've told you often that Julia would not enjoy working with us, and it
would just spoil everything to have her come."

"Of course it's your house, Brenda, and you started the club, and Julia
is your cousin, so Edith and I have not the same right to say anything,
but it seems to me very unkind to leave her out."

"There, I don't want to hear anything more about it," cried Brenda,
"haven't Belle and I both said that Julia would not enjoy herself,
sewing with us, and it would not be a 'four club,' and I don't want to
hear anything more about it."

By this time Brenda's voice was positively snappish, and Edith looked up
in alarm. But Nora was undismayed.

"Nonsense, Brenda," she cried, "Belle said that Julia would not enjoy
the cooking class, though I'm perfectly sure that no one there had a
better time, and the boys thought that she was splendid, didn't they,
Edith?"

"Yes," returned Edith, "Philip was surprised; he said she was fine, he
always supposed that she was a kind of blue-stocking with glasses,
and----"

Here Brenda interrupted, "Well, I'm sure that I never said anything like
that to him, and I shouldn't think that you would, Edith."

"Of course, I didn't," responded Edith, indignantly, "it was something
Frances Pounder said, and well--Belle----"

"Now, Belle, I do wish that you would not say things about my cousin,"
broke in Brenda.

"Oh," cried Belle, "you wish to have the privilege of saying everything
yourself; but you might as well let other people have a chance."

"Philip did not mean that anybody said anything particularly
disagreeable about Julia, only he had a sort of an idea that she did not
like people, and that she would not join much in any fun that we might
plan."

"Oh, what nonsense, Edith!" exclaimed Nora, "she likes fun as well as
any of us, only she is just a little quiet herself. She wants somebody
else to start the fun for her."

"Well, she does not dance," said Belle, "and a girl can't have much fun
if she does not dance."

"I know that she does not care for round dances, at least her father
would not let her learn, but I'm sure that she does the Virginia Reel as
well as anybody, and the Portland Fancy. Why she was as graceful as, as
anything the other evening," concluded Nora.

But all the conversation at the meetings of the Four Club did not
concern Julia and her absence from the club. The girls had many other
things to discuss, and their tongues were often more active than their
needles. Sometimes as their merry voices floated down to Julia, the
young girl sighed. It is never pleasant for any one to think that she is
not wanted in any gathering of her friends, although in this special
case Julia had no great desire to devote even one of her afternoons to
needlework. Nevertheless she could not repress a sigh that she was of so
little consequence to Brenda and her friends.

Before Thanksgiving came, the club really seemed in a fair way of
realizing its plans for a sale. Edith had finished two or three dainty
sets of doilies, for she worked out of club hours. Nora's afghan was at
least a quarter made, a great accomplishment for Nora. Belle had several
articles to show, and even Brenda had persevered with her centrepiece
until hardly more than a quarter of the embroidery remained unfinished.
Moreover several of the girls at school had promised to help, on
condition that nothing should be expected of them until after Christmas.

"That will be time enough," the Four always answered, "for we shall not
have the sale until Easter week."

The girls at school were especially interested when they heard that the
Bazaar was to be for the benefit of Manuel, not that any one of them had
a clear idea of his needs. But they felt an interest in him because they
believed that his life had been saved by one of their number. There
were, to be sure, one or two sceptics, like Frances Pounder, who said
that of course the child had been in no great danger, for in his own
part of the city children are in the habit of playing most of the time
under the very feet of the horses passing that way. "And who," the wise
Frances had added, "ever heard of a child like that having so much as a
leg broken?"

But Frances was not infallible, and many of the girls had heard of
accidents to poor children. If they had not, the fact remained, which
Nora and Brenda and half a dozen others were ready to testify to that
Manuel had been in great danger on the memorable day of his rescue. With
his danger granted, it was plain enough that caring for him became a
duty imposed on his rescuers.

With little opportunity to show it, Julia had as much interest in Manuel
as the other girls. Strange though it may seem, he was the first very
poor person with whom she had been brought in contact. For in the
secluded life which she had led with her father, she had not seen a
great variety of people. It is true that in traveling she had often come
across miserable looking and ill-clad women and children, and she knew
very well that there were many like them in the world. With her own
allowance she subscribed to a number of charities, but her father had
not encouraged her greatly in this kind of thing. His own ill health had
had the rather unusual effect of making him unsympathetic towards forms
of misery unlike the kind which had been sent to him. He thought, too,
that young people should be as closely sheltered as possible from the
knowledge of the dark side of life. He gave liberally to hospitals, but
poverty in itself did not appeal to him. On that account Julia was not
permitted to hear or to see much of actual poverty.

But Julia, on the other hand, had always had the greatest desire to help
the less fortunate, and to know more about the conditions of their
lives. She was therefore greatly pleased when one day in a book-shop she
found a copy of "How The Other Half Lives." It was very suggestive to
her, and buying it she had read it at home eagerly from cover to cover.

Now she knew that in Boston she was not likely to see any cases of
misery as extreme as those described in that famous book, and yet in the
midst of the luxury of her uncle's house she often wished that she could
do something to help the poor. But Julia, in spite of her self-reliance
in practical matters, was rather shy, and whenever she thought of
speaking to her aunt on the subject, she hesitated in fear lest she
should be thought presumptuous. Manuel and his wants, when Brenda and
Nora came home full of what they had seen at the North End, seemed to
her an opportunity. She hoped, indeed she almost expected that she would
be invited to go with them on a second visit. Her disappointment in this
matter was even greater than that which came from being left out of the
"Four Club." There were things she knew that she could have done for
Manuel and his mother, and even if Brenda and her friends were able to
provide for all his wants, there must be others in the same neighborhood
as poor as he. Yet week after week passed away, and no chance seemed to
open for her to tell Brenda what she would like to do. At school Julia
was left much to herself. The girls near her own age were so absorbed in
their own affairs that they seldom had a thought for the lonely
stranger. They had so many things to talk about in which Julia had no
part,--the dancing class, the bowling club--and a thousand and one
harmless bits of gossip harmless for the most part, though sometimes
carrying with them a little sting. When Julia sat or walked with one of
these chattering groups she felt that she was only tolerated, and she
could seldom join intelligently in what was said, and often a dropping
of the voice, or an only half-intentional glance of significance made
her feel herself in the way. To be sure there were Edith and Nora, of
the set a little younger than the girls with whom she recited. They were
undeniably her friends, and yet Brenda and Belle had a fashion of
dragging them off at recess without giving Julia an invitation to
follow, and the latter had too much sense to care to bring herself too
often within the reach of Belle's sharp tongue. So though she sat or
walked by herself, the older girls who noticed her excused themselves
with "Oh, if she cared to go with any one she would walk with Brenda and
Nora and the others of the 'Four,'" for in school, as in the club the
"Four" had come to have a special meaning. On the other hand Brenda and
Belle would usually say to the remonstrating Edith and Nora:

"What is the use of talking, Julia is in the classes with the older
girls, and she ought to make friends with them. She really doesn't
belong with us, and there is not the least reason why we should have her
on our minds all the time." Now there is hardly any classification of
persons more definite and rigid than that which separates the girls of
one age at school from those who are a year or two older, or a year or
two younger. Nor did Julia generally repine at her own situation. She
thought it perfectly natural that the other girls should be slow in
admitting her to intimacy. If she had any feeling it was regret that her
own cousin seemed so indifferent to her.



XIII

GREAT EXPECTATIONS


For a week before Thanksgiving there was great excitement among the
schoolgirls on account of the approaching football game. The "Four" were
as excited as the others, although not so many of their own particular
friends were in the Harvard team. It was to be a game with Princeton,
one of the great University matches, and for special reasons there was
the deepest interest in the match. Those girls who had brothers in
college, or even cousins or friends, held themselves with more dignity
than any of the others, and those who had relatives in the team "were
too proud for anything," as Brenda said. The game was to be played in
Holmes' Field, and tickets were not easy to get, because the seats were
far less numerous than now on the great Soldiers' Field. The girls were
making up little groups to go to the game with youths of their
acquaintance as escorts, under the chaperonage of older people. A few
who had received no invitation were especially miserable, and took no
trouble to disguise their feelings.

Edith at this time became unusually popular, because it was known that
her mother had given her permission to arrange a large party to
accompany her to the game, and every girl was hoping for an
invitation--every girl, at least who had not been invited elsewhere to
go in some other party.

Now Edith was of a generally generous disposition, and not inclined to
limit her favors, of whatever nature, to any particular set of girls.
For this reason she had to bear many a reproof from Belle, and even
occasionally from Brenda, both of whom were inclined to be more
exclusive.

So it happened that the general harmony of "The Four" was somewhat
disturbed when Nora one day at recess exclaimed,

"Who do you suppose is going with us to the game?" For of course in the
minds of the others there could be but one "game," and that the one to
which they all wished to go.

"Why, who is it?" cried Brenda, and "Who is it?" echoed Belle.

"I know that you can't guess."

"Oh, don't be silly, Nora, it wouldn't be worth while to guess about
something you'll know all about so soon, except that you speak as if it
were some one we might not care to have, and if that's the case, I
declare it's too bad," said Belle.

"If it's anything like that," broke in Brenda, rather snappishly, "I
will just tell Edith what I think."

"_It_--_that_," cried Nora, "didn't I say that it was a person, a girl,
if I must be more definite, Ruth Roberts, if I must tell just who it
is."

"Oh," cried Belle, and "Ah," echoed Brenda.

"You need not look so surprised," rejoined Nora, "and if you take my
advice, you will not say anything to Edith; she ought to have her own
way in arranging her own party, and you know when she makes up her mind
it is of no use to talk to her about it."

"Well, I don't care," rejoined Brenda, "it's hard enough to have Julia
tagging about everywhere, but why in the world we should have Ruth
Roberts, when we never see her anywhere except at school, I really
cannot understand, and I don't see how you and Nora can like it either."

"Why Ruth Roberts is as pleasant a girl as there is in school, and yet
she would have a terribly lonely time, if it were not for Edith and
Julia; nobody else ever thinks of speaking to her."

"Well, why should we, she lives out in Roxbury or some other outlandish
place, and she doesn't even go to our dancing school or know people that
we know. There isn't a bit of sense in knowing people that we'll never
see when we're in society," responded Belle, while Brenda echoed, "Yes,
that's what I think, too."

Nora smiled pleasantly, and her eyes looked brighter than ever under the
rim of her brown felt hat, with its trimmings of lighter brown. Nora's
temper was not easily ruffled. Then Belle added a final word.

"Oh, it's clear that this is all Julia's doings; ever since Ruth went
into her Latin class they have been awfully intimate. But I don't see,"
turning rather snappishly towards Brenda, "why the rest of us have got
to take up Ruth Roberts just because your Cousin Julia is so devoted to
her."

Now this was a little too much, even for Brenda, who generally did not
contradict Belle, and she answered with vigor, "Really you are growing
perfectly ridiculous, Belle; I haven't anything to do with it, but I
must say that I think that Julia has a right to choose her own friends.
Ruth Roberts is all right, and anyway I'm thankful to have Julia take a
fancy to anybody, it leaves us a great deal freer to do as we like. I
should think that you would see that yourself."

"Oh, well," said Nora laughing, "the whole thing is not worth quarreling
about. I'm glad to hear you talk so sensibly, Brenda. If you hadn't, I
was going to tell Belle that it seems to me that Edith has a right to
ask any one she wishes. She is always very good to us all, and just
think how many tickets her father has bought for this game!"

"Yes, I know, but still----"

"The least said, the soonest mended," said Nora, though to tell you the
truth, the quotation did not sound especially appropriate. "The least
said, the soonest mended, and let us all go to the game with a crimson
flag in each hand to wave for the winners."

"Crimson," cried Belle, "I am going to carry an orange scarf, and
perhaps an orange flag."

"What for? why I never heard of such a thing!" exclaimed Nora.

"Nor I!" cried Brenda, "at a Harvard game!"

"Isn't it a Princeton game, too," asked Belle, "two or three of the boys
I used to know in New York are in that team, one of them is a kind of
cousin of mine."

"Oh," said Nora, "I didn't know that you thought that people had to be
so very devoted to cousins."

Even Belle herself could not help smiling at this, which was very
appropriate, following so closely, as it did, her own remarks about
Julia.

"You can see yourself that this is different," she answered. "I should
call it very impolite if there were no orange flags shown at the game."

"Well, you have the most ridiculous ideas, hasn't she, Brenda?"

Brenda nodded assent, and Nora continued, "I never knew that people had
to think that about politeness in college games; why it's a duty to do
everything you can to help your own side----"

"I never said that Harvard was my side," interrupted Belle, "didn't I
tell you that I have a cousin on the Princeton team."

"You'd better not say anything of that kind to Philip, or to Edith,
either, they are both perfectly devoted to Harvard, and they expect
their party to give great encouragement to the Harvard team. Why, Belle,
I cannot imagine your doing anything else."

"I'm not a child," responded Belle very crossly, walking away from Nora
and Brenda, "I do not need to be told what to do."

What Nora or Brenda might have answered, I cannot say, for hardly had
Belle disappeared within the house, when Edith herself appeared, with
Julia and Ruth.

Ruth was a pretty and amiable girl, about Julia's age, and therefore a
little older than "The Four." She had been in the school for two years
before the coming of Julia, but in all that time she had had only a
speaking acquaintance with the other girls. Many of them would probably
have been surprised had any one told them that they were very selfish in
leaving their schoolmate so entirely to herself. It was not because they
did not like her. They were merely so very much wrapped up in their own
affairs, that they hardly noticed that she was often left to herself.
Ruth lived in the suburbs, and as Belle had said, outside of school the
other girls seldom saw her. At recess each little group had so many
personal things to talk about that an outsider would have been decidedly
in the way, and would, perhaps, have been a little uncomfortable in
joining them. No one gets a great deal of enjoyment from reading a
single chapter in the middle of a book, and so it is often hard to be a
mere listener when the tongues of half a dozen girls are vigorously
discussing people and events of which the listener has not the slightest
knowledge.

Ruth herself was very independent, and as she was more interested in her
studies than many of the girls at Miss Crawdon's she had acquired the
habit of studying during recess. Since after school she spent more time
than most girls of her age in outdoor sports, it did her no great harm
to pass the half-hour of recess in this way. Ruth, as well as Julia, had
undertaken to prepare for college, and it had been a great delight to
her to have the latter placed with her in one or two special classes.
Julia's liking for her had made Edith take a little more interest in her
than would otherwise have been the case, but the ball game was the first
important event in which she was included with the others of Julia's
set. She naturally was pleased at the prospect of going with the others,
for like Julia, she had never seen a great football game.

No one who saw the hearty way in which Nora and Brenda greeted Ruth, as
she came up with Edith and Julia, could for a moment have imagined that
she had been under discussion. The mercurial Brenda for the moment was
so annoyed by Belle's proposed championship of Princeton, that she was
unexpectedly cordial to Ruth, and almost to her own surprise found
herself urging Ruth to come to town early on the Saturday of the game,
to take luncheon with her and Julia.

The latter expressed her thanks in a glance towards her cousin, as Ruth
accepted very gracefully, and Nora exclaimed, "What fun we are going to
have; you know we are all invited to dine at Edith's that evening. Oh
dear! I can hardly wait for Saturday."

"I know it," replied Brenda, "it's less than a week, too, but it seems
an awfully long time."

Then they gossiped a moment in a very harmless fashion about the
prospects of Harvard, and Edith quoted one or two things that Philip had
said, and Nora told them that her father was perfectly sure that the
crimson would win, and as they trooped into the dressing-room when the
bell rang, Belle was surprised to see Brenda leaning on Ruth's arm.



XIV

THE FOOTBALL GAME


At last the wished-for Saturday arrived. It was one of those clear,
bracing days that always put every one in good-humor. Though cool, it
was not too cool for the comfort of the girls and older women who were
to sit for two or three hours in the open air. Every car running to
Cambridge carried a double load, with men and boys crowding the platform
in dangerous fashion. Carriages of every description were rushing over
the long bridge between Boston and the University City and not only were
red or orange flags to be seen waving on every side--small flags that
could be easily folded up, but occasionally some group of youths would
break out into the college cry.

Edith and her guests drove out to Cambridge in carriages, although they
all thought that the cars would have been much more amusing. Edith,
however, had had to yield to her mother's wishes, for Mrs. Blair had a
strong objection to street cars, and Edith was forbidden to ride in any
except those of the blue line in Marlborough street. But if less
entertaining, the carriage ride was probably more comfortable than a
journey by car would have been on that day of excitement.

Edith and Julia and Ruth and Nora rode in one carriage, while Brenda,
Belle, Frances Pounder and Mrs. Blair were in the other. As Frances was
a distant cousin of Edith's, her mother usually included her in her
invitations, although in general disposition the two girls were very
unlike. Belle and Frances were more congenial, and had the same habit of
talking superciliously about other people. Brenda and Frances were
sometimes on very good terms, and sometimes they hardly spoke to each
other for weeks. For Frances had an irritating habit of "stepping on
people's feelings" as Nora said, whether with intent or from sheer
carelessness, no one felt exactly sure. She was the least companionable
of all the girls of their acquaintance, but on account of her
relationship to Edith she often had to be with them when "The Four" or
rather three of the four would have preferred some other girl.

When the carriages with Edith and her party reached Cambridge they drew
up before Memorial Hall as Mrs. Blair had arranged with Philip.

"We thought," she said, "that it would be both easier and pleasanter to
leave the carriages here, and walk to the field." And the girls agreed
with her. They felt more "grown up" walking along with their escorts,
than if seated in the carriage under the eye of Mrs. Blair. Philip, of
course, was on the spot, to meet them, and one of his friends was with
him.

"I couldn't get any more fellows," he said in an aside to his mother,
"to promise to sit with us, they'd rather be off by themselves with the
rest of the men. It really is more fun, you know."

"Hush," whispered his mother, fearing lest some of her friends might
hear this rather ungallant speech.

"O, of course I don't mind it much," he continued in answer to his
mother's look of reproach, "I'm willing to please Edith this once, but I
wouldn't want to have to look after a lot of girls very often."

Then he turned around to let himself be presented to

Ruth, whom he had not met before, and Mrs. Blair introduced his friend
Will Hardon to all the others,--except of course Edith who knew him.

Belle looked a little disturbed when she saw that there were to be but
two students to escort them, and she forgot for the time being, that
girls of less than sixteen can hardly expect to be considered young
ladies by college undergraduates, who at the sophomore stage of
existence are more inclined to the society of women a few years their
senior. Belle knew, however, that she had the manners of an older
person, and she kept herself fairly well informed on college
matters--that is on their lighter aspect, and could talk of the sports,
and of the "Dicky," with greater ease than many girls of eighteen or
twenty. Therefore as she walked along beside Will Hardon, her tongue
rushed on at a great rate, bewildering the youth so that he had hardly a
word to reply. Brenda, walking on Will's other side listened in
admiration to Belle's fluency. Try her best Brenda never could have
imitated it herself, but it was one secret of Belle's influence over
her, this ability to talk and act like a real young lady instead of a
schoolgirl. Philip attached himself to Ruth and Julia, Edith and Nora
walked together, and Mrs. Blair and Frances Pounder brought up the rear,
"Just where I can keep my eye on you," Mrs. Blair had said laughingly to
them as they started.

Julia was the only one of the group who had never been on the field--or
even in Cambridge before. She was astonished when she reached the field
to see the great crowd of spectators. It was a scene that she had never
imagined. Tier above tier at one side were the benches filled with men
and women, with bright flags fluttering, or rather little banners and
handkerchiefs, all eagerly looking towards the centre. Then there was
the great throng of students massed by themselves, and the crowds of
older men, all intent on the coming game.

What cheers as the rival elevens came upon the field! For an instant the
volume of sound seemed almost as strong for Princeton as for Harvard.
From the very first moment when Princeton lined up for the kick-off
Julia's eyes eagerly followed the ball. At the beginning Princeton
seemed to lead, but when Harvard gained ten yards on two rushes by her
full-back, and her left half-back had the ball on Princeton's
thirty-yard line, the crimson scarfs fluttered very prettily.

"Say, isn't that a fine play for Roth," cried Philip, as the Harvard
fall-back tore through Princeton's centre for four yards planting the
ball on the thirty-yard line, and then a little later after some good
play on both sides, he yelled wildly as he saw that Princeton was really
driven to the last ditch, with Harvard only one yard to gain. Both made
the try, and scored a touch-down in exactly fifteen minutes' play. Then
when Hall, on the Harvard side, a great stalwart fellow brought the ball
out, and held it for Hutton to kick on the try for goal, even Frances
Pounder lost her air of indifference, and as the ball struck the goal
post, and bounded back, she watched to see whether this was a time for
applause, and finally condescended to clap her hands. The score now
stood Harvard 4, Princeton 0, and Philip and Will excusing themselves
for a few minutes leaped down to talk matters over with their classmates
standing below at the end of the benches. As the game continued Roth
distinguished himself still further. He scored another touch-down for
Harvard from which a goal was kicked, making the score 10 to 0.

"It's almost too one-sided," said Julia, "and I can't exactly understand
it, for the Princeton men seem to be playing well, and really if you
look at them, they are larger than most of the Harvard players,--_that_
ought to count in a game like this."

"Well the game isn't over yet, and there may be some surprises before it
is through."

But just here Philip and his friend returned, and when Belle asked what
the other men thought of the Princeton prospects, "Oh, they haven't a
leg to stand on," said Philip, "at least that's what every one says, and
you can see for yourself now, they can't hold out against our men."

"I'm thankful for one thing," said Mrs. Blair, leaning towards her son,
"there haven't been any serious accidents yet, although I am always
expecting something dreadful to happen."

Hardly had she spoken, when two or three ladies in the neighborhood
screamed. Princeton had just secured the ball, when one of her men who
had fallen with half a dozen others on top of him, seemed unable to
rise. He had in fact to be carried from the field, and though the girls
afterward learned that he had only broken his collar bone, like so many
other spectators, for the time being they were decidedly alarmed at his
condition. After this Princeton had a little better luck. Harvard tried
for a goal from the thirty-five-yard line, but missed. Then the ball was
Princeton's on her twenty-five-yard line, and after several rushes with
small gains, the ball was passed back to Princeton's full-back for a
kick. The ball went high in the air, and the Princeton's ends got down
the field in beautiful shape. A Harvard half-back muffed the ball, and
it was Princeton's on Harvard's twenty-yard line. Just here, Belle,
emboldened by the turn of events managed to take a large orange and
black scarf from her pocket. As yet she had not dared to wave it, though
if you stop to think, had she been truly sympathetic, she ought to have
had courage to show her colors even when her chosen side was losing
ground.

Now in spite of the improvement in Princeton's play, the score had not
changed, though Princeton had the ball on Harvard's ten-yard line when
two minutes later the first half ended.

In the second half of the game there was more excitement than in the
first. Roth, who had been the hero of the afternoon in Harvard eyes, was
carried off, and two or three Princeton men were disabled. Harvard,
contrary to what had been expected was apparently playing the fiercer
game. The yell of the Harvard sympathizers grew louder and louder.

In two downs Princeton had gained four yards. Then when the ball was
passed to Dinsmore the noted Princeton half-back, Douglass, the popular
Harvard quarter-back tore through the centre, and downed Dinsmore with
the loss of five yards, making it Harvard's ball on Princeton's
twenty-two yard line.

The wildest hurrahing--a perfect pandemonium--now arose from the Harvard
bleachers. For the crimson was within striking distance of a touch-down,
and the orange had begun to droop. The girls in Edith's party, even
those not wholly familiar with the game in its finer points, were
thoroughly worked up. Some of the rough play worried Edith, and she
buried her face in her hands with a shudder when Jefferson, the Harvard
centre was carried from the field apparently senseless.

"Don't be a goose, Edith," whispered Nora, "you know that it can't be
anything very dreadful, or they wouldn't go on playing."

"Oh, yes, they would," murmured Edith. "They'd do anything in a football
game, they haven't a bit of feeling." But she lifted her head, and was
repaid by seeing Hutton kick a goal from the field thus sending the
score up to fifteen. This especially pleased her, because Hutton's
little sister, who had a high opinion of her brother's prowess, was a
great pet of hers.

"Don't you feel much as the Roman women used to feel at the Coliseum
games?" Julia contrived to say to Ruth in one of the intervals of play.

"It's almost as savage a sport as some of those gladiator affairs,"
replied Ruth, "but I don't believe that the gladiators were more
uncivilized-looking than these players. Did you ever see such hair?"

The next moment the girls were all attention. For although the Harvard
score never went beyond that fifteen, the game was an absorbing one for
the followers of both colors.

Princeton's battering-ram proved effective more than once, and every one
could see that in the matter of strength her men were ahead of the
Harvard team. But in activity Harvard was undeniably the superior, and
at last when the game was called, the score still stood 16 to 0 in favor
of the crimson.

Then what a scene! Men almost fell on one another's necks in their
delight. The team was surrounded by a dense throng, and the 'rah, 'rah,
'rah was fairly deafening. The friends of the vanquished hurried away
from the field, and only a few of the younger and more enthusiastic
lingered about in little knots to argue the situation, and prophesy a
victory for their own men at the next intercollegiate match.

"Oh, don't let's go off right away," cried Brenda, as she saw Edith
turning in the direction of the exit from the field.

"No, we might as well wait until Philip comes back; he and Will couldn't
resist going over there on the field to talk things over with some of
their friends," said Mrs. Blair, "and I told them that I felt sure that
you would excuse them."

"Why, of course," added Julia, and Ruth followed with a polite, "Yes,
indeed." But Belle, looking a little discontented, said nothing. "What
is the good," she was saying to herself, "of having two young men in
your party, if they never stay with you, when so many of the other girls
are at the game with only their fathers, or elderly relatives."

If she had thought carefully, she would have realized that the two boys
had really sacrificed not a little fun to act as escorts to "a parcel of
girls," as some of their student friends put it. Really they had been
very polite, they had hardly laughed at the mistakes made by the girls
in the use of terms during the game, and they had been more than willing
to explain the fine points of the play. When they were with the girls,
it was not Belle whom they thought the most about, but on Philip's part,
it was Julia, and on Will's, Ruth with her bright face, and vivacious
manner.

"Did you see papa?" cried Nora, "he was tossing his hat in the air, like
a boy. I tried to make him look at us, but he would not do so. I suppose
it was harder for him to recognize us than for me to distinguish him."

"No, I didn't see your father," replied Edith, "but I did see your
brother Clifford. He, however, never looked our way for a second. He had
his hat on the back of his head, and he and two or three other men
seemed beside themselves."

"Oh, yes, I suppose he and his friends are dreadfully pleased. You know
that Jefferson is a great friend of theirs."

"But he was hurt."

"Oh, that's nothing! As long as he wasn't killed it's all the more glory
for him. He and Clifford are room-mates, and they are devoted to each
other."

Then as the crowds from the benches swept past the girls, they saw many
friends and acquaintances, and Belle's injured pride was salved by the
return of Philip and Will just as two or three girls whom she especially
disliked walked past escorted only by an uncle.

How pleasant the walk back to the Square through the college grounds
was, with a few minutes in Philip's room, not long enough for the cup of
tea which he wished to offer, but long enough to make them all
enthusiastic to accept his invitation to come out to Cambridge some
other afternoon and examine his trophies. Really there seemed to be few
ornaments on the walls that were not connected in some way with college
sports--flags, medals, certificates of membership in this society or
that, photographs of the crew, of the teams,--but some time you may hear
more about the room, and so I will leave my description of it until
then.

To Julia the whole day had been more than delightful, she enjoyed every
moment of it, and she began to feel so at home with Edith's friends,
that not even Belle could rival her in quickness of repartee. Frances
Pounder looked at her in astonishment, when some of her own little
snubbing remarks fell one side without any effect. Ruth Roberts, too,
proved herself a great acquisition to the party, especially at the
dinner at Edith's. For Mrs. Blair gave an elaborate dinner to the group
that had attended the game, increased by the addition of two friends of
Philip's; and even if, as the worldly wise Frances Pounder suggested,
the whole affair had been arranged to prevent Philip and his friends
from joining the boisterous crowd of students in their Cambridge
celebration of the victory, Philip certainly had occasion to
congratulate himself on possessing a mother who would take so much
trouble for her children. So Brenda ate raw oysters, and Belle
entertained Will Hardon with an account of her last visit to New York,
and Nora endeavored to eat and talk at the same time, and Edith smiled
placidly on her friends while trying to remove the sting from some of
Frances Pounder's sharp remarks, and Julia forgot her shyness, and Ruth
Roberts impressed Mrs. Blair as a particularly intelligent girl, and all
the boys, as well as the girls, said that they had never had a
pleasanter afternoon. So who can say that the game had not proved itself
a great success in more ways than one?



XV

A POET AT HOME


One day Julia had an adventure--not "a wildly exciting one," as some of
the girls liked to describe what had happened to them, but one that she
was always to remember with pleasure. It was a windy day in early
January, and there was a fine glaze on the ground from a storm of the
day before. As she was slipping along down Beacon street, on her way
home from school, it was all that she could do to hold her footing. One
hand was kept in constant use holding down the brim of her hat which
seemed inclined to blow away. Luckily she had no books to carry, and so
when suddenly she saw some sheets of letter paper whirling past her, she
was able to rush on and pick them up as they were dashed against a
lamp-post. Another moment, and they would have been driven by another
gust of wind down a short street leading to the river.

[Illustration: "SHE WAS ABLE TO RUSH ON AND PICK THEM UP AS THEY WERE DASHED AGAINST A LAMP-POST"]

When she had the papers safely in her possession, Julia naturally looked
around to see to whom they belonged. The owner was not far away, for
just a few steps behind her was an old gentleman, not very tall, dressed
all in black with a high silk hat. Under his arm he carried a book, and
as he held out his hand towards her Julia had no doubt that he was the
owner of the wandering manuscript.

"Thank you, my child," he said, as she held the sheets towards him.
"Another gust, and I should have had to compose a new poem to take the
place of the one that was so ready to--go to press against that
lamp-post.

"There, that was not a very brilliant pun, was it?" he asked, for Julia
now was walking along by his side.

"Why, sir," she had begun to say, looking up in his face. Then suddenly
she gave a start. Surely she had seen that face before! But where? Yet
almost in a shorter time than I have taken to tell it, she recognized
the owner of the papers. He was certainly no other than Dr. Oliver
Wendell Holmes, the famous Autocrat of the Breakfast table, several of
whose poems she knew almost by heart. All her old shyness came back to
her, she did not exactly dare to say that she recognized him, and all
she could think of was another question in relation to the manuscript.
"Were--were they some of your own poems?" she managed to stammer, "it
would have been dreadful if they had been lost."

"Not half as dreadful," he replied smiling, "as if they had been written
by some one else. As a matter of fact these were sent me by an unfledged
poet who wished me to tell him whether he would stand a chance of
getting them into a publisher's hands. He told me to take great care of
them as he had no copy. I read his note at my publisher's just now, and
I felt bound to carry the manuscript home. But I'm not sure that it
would not have been a good thing to lose a sheet or two to teach him a
lesson. He should not send a thing to a stranger without making a copy."

The poet of course did not speak to Julia in precisely these words, but
this was the drift of what he said, and it was in about this form that
she repeated it to her aunt and Brenda at the luncheon table.

"What else did he say?" her aunt had asked, with great interest.

"Oh, he thanked me again for picking up the papers, complimented me for
being so sure-footed on such a slippery sidewalk, and what do you think,
Aunt Anna, when he heard that I had not long been in Boston, he asked me
to call some afternoon to see him. He is always at home after four. I
walked along until he reached his door step. Do you know that he lives
very near here. I was _so_ surprised to find it out. Have you ever been
there, Brenda?"

"No," said Brenda, shaking her head, "I did not exactly notice whom you
were talking about."

"Why, Dr. Holmes," replied Julia.

"Oh," said Brenda, with a stare that seemed to imply that this name did
not mean much to her.

"Why, you know, Brenda, Oliver Wendell Holmes?" prompted her mother, and
still Brenda looked rather blank.

"Brenda," said Mrs. Barlow, "I am surprised. Surely you remember how
pleased you were with 'The Last Leaf' when I had you learn it last
summer, and you _must_ remember that I told you that the poet who wrote
it lives in Boston."

"I dare say," answered Brenda carelessly, "but I had forgotten. I don't
see why Julia should be so excited about meeting a poet. There must be
ever so many of them everywhere."

"Ah! Brenda," responded her mother, "I do wish that you would take more
interest in the affairs of your own city. Here is Julia who has been in
Boston but a short time, and I am sure that she knows more about our
famous men and women than you who have lived here all your life."

For a wonder Brenda did not laugh at what her mother said, nor take
offence.

"I never shall be a book-worm," she said very good-naturedly. "I am
willing to leave all that to Julia."

So when Julia asked her one afternoon, if she would not like to go with
her to call on Dr. Holmes, she declined with thanks, and left Julia free
to invite Edith.

As the two friends walked up the short flight of stone steps to the
front door, their hearts sank a little. To make a call on a poet was
really a rather formidable thing, and they pressed each other's hands as
they heard the maid opening the door to admit them.

"Just wait here for a moment," said the maid, after they had enquired
for the master of the house, and she showed them into a small room at
the left of the entrance. It seemed to be merely a reception-room, but
it was very pretty with its white woodwork and large-flowered yellow
paper. There was a carved table in the centre with writing materials and
ink-stand, and little other furniture besides a few handsome chairs.
Tall bookcases matching the woodwork occupied the recesses, and they
were filled with books in substantial bindings.

In a moment the maid had returned and asked them to follow her. At the
head of the broad stairs they saw the poet himself standing to meet them
with outstretched hand. When Julia mentioned Edith's name, "Ah," he
said, "that is a good old Boston name, and if I mistake not, I used to
know your grandfather," and then when Edith had satisfied him on this
point he turned to Julia, and in a bantering way spoke of the service
she had done him that windy day. Then he made them sit down beside him,
one on each side, while he occupied a large leather armchair drawn up
before his open fire, and asked them one or two questions about their
studies and their taste in literature. As he talked, Julia's eyes
wandered to the bronze figure of Father Time on the mantelpiece, and
then to the little revolving bookcase on which she could not help
noticing a number of volumes of Dr. Holmes' own works. The old gentleman
following her glance, said:

"They make a pretty fair showing for one man, but my publishers are
getting ready to bring out a complete edition of my works, and that,
well that makes me realize my age." After a moment, as if reflecting, he
asked quickly, "Does either of you write poetry?"

"Oh, no, sir," answered Edith quickly, "we couldn't."

"Why, it isn't so very hard," he said, "at least I should judge not by
the numbers of copies of verses that are sent to me to examine. Poetry
deals with common human emotion, and almost any one with a fair
vocabulary thinks that he can express himself in verse. But nearly
everything worth saying has been said. Words and expressions seem very
felicitous to the writer, but he cannot expect other persons to see his
work as he sees it."

"It depends, I suppose," said Edith shyly, "on whose work it is."

"I am afraid," replied the poet, "that there is no absolute standard for
verse-makers. It has always seemed to me that the writer of verse is
almost in the position of a man who makes a mold for a plaster cast or
something of that kind. Whatever liquid mixture he puts into that mold
will surely fit it. So the verse is the mold into which the poet puts
his thought, and from his point of view it is sure to fit."

Though Edith may not have grasped the full force of the poet's meaning,
Julia was sure that she understood him.

"Do you really have a great deal of poetry sent you to read?" she asked.

"Every mail," he answered, "brings me letters from strangers,--from
every corner of the globe. Some contain poems in my honor, as specimens
of what the poet can do. Others are accompanied by long manuscripts on
which my opinion is asked. I am chary now about expressing any opinion,
for publishers have a way of quoting very unfairly in their
advertisements. If I write 'your book would be very charming were it not
so carelessly written,' the publisher quotes merely 'very charming,' and
prints this in large type."

Both girls smiled at the expression of droll sorrow that came over the
poet's face as he spoke.

"And I am so very unfortunate myself," he added, "when I try to get an
autograph of any consequence. Now I sent Gladstone a copy of a work on
trees in which I thought he would be interested. He returned the
compliment with a copy of one of his books. But--" here he paused, "he
wrote his thanks on a postcard!" Again the girls laughed. "Dear me!" he
concluded, "this cannot interest young creatures like you; do you care
for poetry?"

"Oh, yes indeed we do," cried Julia, "and we just love your poetry."

"Well, well," said the poet, with a twinkle in his eye, "perhaps you
would like to hear me read something?"

The beaming faces that met his glance were a sufficient answer, and
taking a volume from the table, he began in a voice that was a trifle
husky, though full of expression,

    "This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
    Sails the unshadowed main,--
    The venturous bark that flings
    On the sweet summer wind its venturous wings
    In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
    And coral reefs lie bare,
    Where the cold sea maids raise to sun their streaming hair."

When he had finished the stanza, he looked up enquiringly.

"The Chambered Nautilus," murmured Julia.

"Ah, you know it then?" said the poet.

"Oh, yes, I love it," she answered.

Then with a smile of appreciation, adjusting his glasses, Dr. Holmes
read to the end of the poem in his wonderfully musical voice. When it
was finished, the girls would have liked to ask for more, but the poet
rose to replace the volume. "Come," he said, "you have listened to the
poem which of all I have written I like the best, now I wish to show you
my favorite view." Following him to the deep bay-window, they looked out
across the river. It was much the same view to which Julia was
accustomed in her uncle's house, and yet it was looking at the river
with new eyes to have the poet pointing out all the towns, seven or
eight in number which he could see from that window. Somerville,
Medford, Belmont, Arlington, Charlestown, Brookline, and one or two
others, perhaps, besides Cambridge with its spires and chimneys.

"In winter," said Dr. Holmes, "there is not much to see besides the
tug-boats and the gulls. But in the early spring it is a delight to me
to watch the crews rowing by, and an occasional pleasure-boat, ah! I
remember"--but what it was he did not say, for as Edith turned her eyes
toward an oil painting on the wall near by he said, "Of course you know
who that is; of course you recognize the famous Dorothy Q. Now look at
the portrait closely, and tell me what you think of that cheek. Could
you imagine any one so cruel as to have struck a sword into it? Yet
there, if your eyes are sharp enough, you will see where a British
soldier of the Revolution thrust this rapier."

When both girls admitted that they could not see the scar, "That only
shows," he said, "how clever the man was who made the repairs."

Before they turned from the window he made them notice the tall factory
chimneys on the other side of the river which he called his
thermometers, because according to the direction in which the smoke
curled upwards, he was able to tell how the wind blew, and decide in
what direction he should walk.

"Remember," he said, "when you reach my age always to walk with your
back to the wind," and at this the girls smiled, they feeling that it
would be many years before they should need to follow this advice. Yet
during their call how many things they had to see and to remember! He
let each of them hold for a moment the gold pen with which he had
written Elsie Venner and the Autocrat papers, and Julia turned over the
leaves of the large Bible and the Concordance on the top of his writing
table. Dr. Holmes called their attention to the beautiful landscape
hanging on one wall done in fine needlework by the hands of his
accomplished daughter-in-law, and he told them a story or two connected
with another picture in the room. Julia, as she looked about, thought
that she had seldom seen a prettier room than this with its cheerful
rugs, massive furniture, and fine pictures, all so simple and yet so
dignified. When the poet pointed out the great pile of letters lying on
his desk, he told them that this was about the number that he received
every day.

"But you don't answer them all," exclaimed Edith almost breathlessly.

"No, indeed," and he laughed, "my secretary goes through them every
morning, and decides which ought to be given me to read, and then--well
if it is anything very personal I try to answer it myself. Often,
however, I let her write the answer, while I simply add the signature."

Edith gave Julia a little nudge; they were both at the age when the
possession of an autograph of a famous man is something to be ardently
desired. But neither of them had quite dared to ask Doctor Holmes for
his. It is possible that he saw the little nudge, or perhaps he read the
eager expression on their faces, for almost before they realized it he
had placed in the hand of each of them a small volume in a white cover,
and bidding them open their books he said, "Well, I must put something
on that bare fly-leaf."

So seating himself at his table with a quill pen in his hand, he wrote
slowly and evidently with some effort, the name of each of them,
followed by the words "With the regards of Oliver Wendell Holmes," and
then the year, and the day of the month. As he handed them the books, he
opened the door, and with a word or two more of half bantering thanks to
Julia for her assistance on that windy day, he bowed them down the
stairs.

So impressed were they by the visit that they had little to say until
they reached home, where they found Mrs. Barlow a very sympathetic
listener. Brenda, who happened to be at home looked with interest at the
little volumes of selections from Doctor Holmes' writings with their
valuable autographs, and said, "Well, you might have taken me, too."

"Why, Brenda, I am sure that I asked you," said Julia, "but you declared
that you would not speak to a poet for anything in the world."

They all laughed at this, a proceeding which this time did not annoy
Brenda.

Mrs. Barlow admired the little books.

"But I hope that you did not stay too long," she said gently, "for I
have been told that Doctor Holmes has a way of sending off a guest who
tires him, by bringing out one of these little gift books."

"Oh, I don't think we tired him," said Julia; "at any rate he was too
polite to show it, but I'm glad that we have the books."



XVI

AN HISTORIC RAMBLE


On a bright, sunny morning just before the beginning of the Christmas
holidays, Miss South asked Julia if she would care to go within a day or
two to visit some of the historic spots at the North End.

"It is not quite as good a season," the teacher had added, "as in the
early autumn or spring, but I have learned that it is never well to put
off indefinitely what can be as well done at once. Something may happen
to prevent our going later, and so if you can go with me this week I
shall be very glad."

"Oh, thank you, Miss South," replied Julia, "I should love to go, and
any day this week would do."

"And I may go, too, mayn't I?" cried Nora, who happened to be standing
by.

"Why, certainly," replied Miss South, "the more, the better; I should be
pleased to have all 'The Four' go."

As it happened, however, on the afternoon selected for the excursion,
only Julia and Nora really cared to go. Brenda and Belle had some
special appointment which nothing would induce them to break, and Edith
expressed decided objections against going again into that dirty part of
the town.

Even a Boston December can offer many a balmy day, and one could not
wish a pleasanter afternoon than that which Julia and Nora had for their
visit to the North End under the guidance of Miss South.

She made Faneuil Hall the beginning of the trip, and if I had time I
should like to repeat what she told them about this famous building and
its donor, old Peter Faneuil, the descendant of the Huguenots.

Nora was very much impressed by hearing that the first public meeting in
the building which Peter Faneuil had given to his native town was that
which assembled to hear Master Lovejoy of the Latin School pronounce a
funeral eulogy over the donor of the hall.

For his death happened less than six months after the town had formally
accepted his gift in 1742.

"You must remember," said Miss South, "that fire, and other causes have
led to many changes in the old building, both inside and out, and yet it
may still be considered the most interesting building in the country
historically, or at least of equal interest with Independence Hall in
Philadelphia."

As they walked about and looked at the portraits of Washington, and
Hancock, and Adams, and Warren and the other great men considered worth
a place in this famous hall, Miss South told them of a political meeting
which she had once attended there, and how interesting it had been to
look down from the galleries upon the mass of men standing on the floor
below. For no seats are ever placed in this part of the hall, and with
an exciting cause, or a noted speaker to attract, the sight of this
crowd of men close pressed together is well worth seeing.

"There is one time in particular," said Julia, "when I should have loved
to look in on the people in the hall."

"When was that?" asked Miss South.

"Why, during the Siege of Boston," she answered, "when the British
turned it into a play-house, and all the British officers in town were
attending 'The Blockade of Boston.'"

"Why, how can you remember?" exclaimed Nora.

"I don't know," said Julia; "I've always remembered it since I read it
in some history that just in the midst of the play the audience rose in
great excitement at the report 'The Yankees are attacking our works at
Charlestown.'"

"Yes, that was the beginning of the end for the British in Boston," said
Miss South. "We are going to see other things to remind us of them this
afternoon. But now we must hasten on, for the afternoon will hardly be
long enough for all that we wish to see."

Then after a short walk, she said, "I am taking you a little out of your
way to show you one or two spots that you might overlook yourself. Now
just here at this corner of Washington and Union streets, where we
stand, Benjamin Franklin passed much of his boyhood. Some persons
believe that his birthplace was here. But I am more inclined to accept
the Milk street location than this. Yet, here, almost where we stand,
his father hung out the Blue Ball sign for his tallow candle business,
and here, too, he lived with his wife and thirteen children.

"Not far away," she continued as they walked along, "was the Green
Dragon Tavern where John Adams, and Revere, and Otis and the other Sons
of Liberty used to hold their meetings, and this--let us stand here for
a moment--is the site of the home of Joseph Warren. Here, where this
hotel stands in Hanover street, he lived and practised his profession of
physician, and in this old house I suppose, the news was brought to his
children of his death at Bunker Hill."

To save their strength Miss South now signalled a passing street car,
and in a very few minutes they were taken to the corner of Prince
street. On the way Miss South had said that she wished to show them
North Square, and when they left the car, one turn from the main
thoroughfare brought them within sight of this noted locality.

The little corner shops, of which there were many in sight had signs
worded in Italian, and some of the shop windows displayed all kinds of
foreign-looking pastry and confections--less tempting, however, in
appearance than the fresh green vegetables shown in the windows and
doorways of other shops. The dark-browed men and women who passed spoke
to each other in Italian, and some of the women wore short skirts and
bright kerchiefs which made their whole costume seem thoroughly foreign.

"Down this Garden Court street," said Miss South, just before they
reached the square, "used to stand the house of Sir Harry Frankland."

"Oh, yes," cried Nora, "there's _one_ thing that I remember, the story
of Agnes Surriage. I've read the novel."

"Well, Agnes used to live here," said Miss South, "at least in this
neighborhood. No trace of the old mansion remains, although when built
it was the finest house in town, three stories high, with inlaid floor,
carved mantels, and other decorations that even to-day we should
probably admire. Many other houses in this neighborhood are old, and I
have a friend who can tell almost their precise age by studying the
style of the bricks and mortar, but the only one of great historic
interest is that little old wooden house," and she pointed to one on the
western side of the square.

"It does not look so very old," said Julia.

"No, because it has been clapboarded after the modern fashion. Aside
from that, however, you can see that its overhanging upper story makes
it unlike any house built in modern times. Here Paul Revere lived for
many years, and his birthplace is near-by. I hope that in time it may be
bought by some patriotic person, to be preserved as long as it will
stand. At present it is a tenement house, and liable to destruction by
fire at any moment through the carelessness of its occupants. Now we
must hurry on, but I wish that you could come to the square some time on
a holiday, when it is a centre for all the picturesque Italians of whom
there are so many now in this part of the city."

As they turned about under Miss South's guidance, she pointed out other
old houses--(one with the date 1724 above it) almost tumbling down,--and
she told them a little about the habits of the people living in the
narrow streets and alleys which they passed.

"On the whole these people are much better off than ever they were in
their own country. They have political liberty, and their children have
the chance of acquiring a good education. In that school over there they
are taught to speak English, and they do learn it in a very thorough
manner. The older people are slow in learning our language, and even
slower in acquiring our habits. They are so anxious to make money that
they live crowded together in a very unwholesome fashion. Sometimes a
whole family and one or two boarders will live in the same small room,
and the children will go without proper food or clothes while the father
is saving money enough to invest in a house or shop which he wishes to
own."

"Cannot this be prevented?" asked Julia.

"Only by teaching young and old better habits. That is the effort which
all the charity workers in this neighborhood make. The kindergartens,
and industrial schools, and all the other organizations are gradually
accomplishing this. But it is hard work. I should like to tell you more
about their difficulties, but now I suppose we must pay more attention
to history."

While Miss South had been talking she had led them up a narrow street
which in snowy weather must have lived up to its name "Snowhill street."
At the top of the hill after a turn or two they came upon an old
burying-ground.

"Copp's Hill," said Julia.

"Why of course," responded Nora.

"I brought you here to-day," said Miss South, "because I knew that the
gates would be open. One cannot always get in during the winter months
except by special arrangement. But in summer the old graveyard is like a
park, and the little children from all parts of the North End come here
to play, and mothers with their babies are thankful enough for a seat
under the trees where they can feel the cool breeze from the harbor."

"How quaint it is!" said Julia, looking down the narrow street, just as
they entered the gate. "Why there is Christ Church, isn't it?"

"How did you know it?" asked Nora, "I thought that you had never been
here before."

"Well, I haven't, but there are ever so many photographs, showing just
this view. What is that queer little house, Miss South?"

"I am glad that you asked, although I should not have forgotten to point
it out. That is a real Revolutionary relic, General Gage's headquarters
during part of the British occupation; it is one of the most interesting
houses left standing."

Now turning their steps away from the quaint, hilly street, they were
within the enclosure of the graveyard. It would take long to tell all
that they saw. There was the old gravestone which the British had made a
target, and marked with their bullets. There were some stones with
nothing but the name and date, and neither very legible, others with
rough carvings of cherubs' heads, or the angel of death, while some of
the vaults at the side had heraldic carvings, the arms of old Tory
families.

Miss South told them of the days when this graveyard had been neglected,
and when the gravestones had toppled over, and had been carried off by
any one who wished them. Some had been found by the present custodian of
the ground in use as covers for drains, others as chimney tops, and some
in old cellars and basements. There were famous names on some of the
stones, and strange verses on others.

Julia copied an inscription or two, such as,

    "A sister of Sarah Lucas lyeth here,
    Whom I did love most dear;
    And now her soul hath took its flight,
    And bid her spightful foes good-night."

and this

    "Death with his dart hath pierced my heart,
      While I was in my prime;
    When this you see grieve not for me
      'Twas God's appointed time."

She had heard before of the Mather tomb, and looked with great interest
on the brown slab enclosed with an iron railing, under which rested the
noted Puritan preacher.

Yet while Julia took interest in the stones and inscriptions, Nora was
better pleased with the lovely view of the water to be seen from the
summit.

"It was there in the channel," said Miss South, "that the men-of-war lay
when Paul Revere started out on that wonderful ride, and not so far from
the spot where the receiving ship 'Wabash' now lies at the Navy Yard,
the British landed in Charlestown on their way to Bunker Hill."

"Oh, yes," said Julia, who had put aside her pencil and notebook, "I can
understand now what a fine view the people of Boston must have had of
the battle when they crowded to the graveyard and the roofs."

"Yes, there was almost a clear view then," said Miss South, "and it must
have been a very exciting day for the watchers on the Boston side of the
water."

    "They were making for the steeple,--the old sexton and his people;
      The pigeons circled round us as we climbed the creaking stair,
    Just across the narrow river--oh so close it made us shiver!
      Stood a fortress on the hilltop that but yesterday was bare.

    "Not slow our eyes to find it--well we knew who stood behind it,
      Though the earthwork hid them from us, and the stubborn walls were
        dumb.
    Here were sister, wife and mother, looking wild upon each other,
      And their lips were white with terror, as they said 'The Hour is
        Come!'"

"Bravo!" cried the others as Nora finished this quotation from Holmes'
well-known poem. "If there were time," added Miss South, "we might ask
Nora, or perhaps you Julia, to cap these stanzas with some other
historical poem.

"The North End would be well worth another visit," continued Miss South,
as they turned away. "I hope that some time you will both come to a
service in the old church, and if you choose the first Sunday of the
month, you will be able to see the fine communion service presented by
George the Second, and you will find the high backed pews and the
frescoes on the wall the same as they were a hundred and twenty-five
years ago."

"What lots of little children there are playing about," cried Nora; "I
should think that they would be run over a dozen times a day, for there
are certainly more in the middle of the street than on the sidewalks.
Why see there, why just look, it really is----"

"Manuel," broke in Julia, as Nora rushed forward and took the little
fellow by the hand--"why how are you, Manuel?"

"My mother sick," he replied, smiling at Nora whom evidently he
remembered very well.

"Oh, couldn't we just go to see him, I mean his mother," cried Nora.

"But if she is sick--" replied Miss South with hesitation.

"Let us wait here at the corner--this is the very corner," pleaded Nora,
"and you can see whether there would be any harm in our going there;
Julia wants to see the house, and perhaps Mrs. Rosa only has a cold."

As this seemed to be a sensible suggestion, Miss South with Manuel by
the hand went down the little street where the Rosas were living.



XVII

THE ROSAS AT HOME


In a few moments Miss South returned.

"I do not think," she said, "that there would be the least harm in your
going with me to the house. I know, Nora, that your mother would not
object, and Julia, you can use your own judgment. I am sure that there
is no contagious disease in the neighborhood, and----"

"Oh," interrupted Julia, "do let me go back with you. I have never been
in a tenement house and I am so anxious to see one. My aunt would not
have the least objection, and you know that Brenda has been there."

So in less time than it takes me to tell of it they were actually at the
door of the house where the Rosas lived. Fortunately their rooms were
now on the first floor, and as the door was open as well as the window,
there was good ventilation. Had this not been the case they must have
been half suffocated by the heat from the stove which was glowing hot.
Mrs. Rosa was seated in a high backed wooden rocking-chair, but she rose
to her feet as she saw Miss South and the two girls approaching. To do
this was evidently a great effort for her, and after she had said a word
or two of welcome in broken English, she sank back half exhausted.

She had strength, however, to speak to her elder daughter, who had not
turned when they entered, and at her bidding Angelina had looked up from
the depths of the mysterious mixture which she was stirring in an iron
kettle, and coming forward offered her hand to the three newcomers. Two
younger girls in rather untidy dresses, with half the buttons off their
shoes looked on a little timidly, and no one but Manuel seemed perfectly
at ease.

"It's rather hard, isn't it," said Miss South pleasantly, "to take care
of so many children, Mrs. Rosa?"

"Oh, yes, Miss South," she replied, "they gets hungry every day, and
always wants so much to eat." Even the lively Nora did not smile at
this, although she afterwards said that she wondered if their mother
expected the children to want only one meal a week.

"But you're not able to work now; you can't go out to your fruit stand,
can you?" continued Miss South.

"Oh, no indeed, no indeed," shaking her head. "I'm awful weak."

"Then how have you been paying your rent?"

"Well, the good minister, he help me; he pay it just now, and John he
have a license for papers, and he sell quite a good many every day after
school--and, oh well, we get along." Mrs. Rosa had a very pleasant
expression, and as she talked she looked almost handsome. Her black
stuff dress, worn without a collar, made her pale face seem more haggard
than usual, yet it beamed with gratitude as she told how kind one and
another had been since her illness had become so serious.

"Where does she sleep?" asked Julia in a half whisper to Nora.

"Why, in that little room where you see the door open. I remember they
told us when we were here before, that she and the girls sleep there,
while the boys have a mattress to themselves on the kitchen floor. They
bring it out every night."

"How dreadful!" was all that Julia had time to say, for she saw
Angelina's sharp eyes turned towards her, and feared that already she
had been impolite in talking thus in an aside to Nora.

The latter, while Miss South was talking with Mrs. Rosa about her recent
symptoms, tried to draw Manuel into conversation, but, as before, only a
word or two at a time could be drawn from him, although his expression
was still as seraphic as ever, even when Nora was half teasing him.

Yet, after all, they had been in the dingy room but a very short time
when Miss South reminded them that it was growing dark, and that Mrs.
Gostar and Mrs. Barlow would both disapprove their being out much later.
As they rode up Hanover street in the car both girls noticed that Miss
South was unusually quiet. At last Julia broke the silence.

"I'm sure that you are thinking about Mrs. Rosa," she said softly.

"Yes," answered Miss South, "I see that something must be done to help
her, but I am not sure just what it should be. Possibly she cannot
recover, or perhaps if she had a good doctor he might advise--but still,
she is almost too poor to take advantage of any advice."

"Yes," said Nora, "suppose a doctor should advise her to go to Colorado,
or California; why he might as well talk about the moon."

"I know it," murmured Julia, "and yet people are sometimes very kind to
the poor."

"Yes, at Christmas especially," rejoined Nora with a laugh. "Did you
hear one of the little girls when I asked her what she had Thanksgiving
say, 'Two turkeys, one Baptist and one 'Piscopal.'"

Julia looked a little shocked at this, but Miss South only smiled. "I am
afraid that loaves and fishes count for a great deal with these people
when they come to select a church. They have discovered that they can
get more from the Protestants than from their own church, and if they
have some little disagreement with a priest, they take advantage of this
to put themselves under the wing of the Bethel, or of Christ Church.
Both have a great many Portuguese in attendance, and I ought not to be
too censorious, for some of them undoubtedly are perfectly sincere."

"How does it happen, Miss South, that you know so much about these poor
North End people?" asked Julia. "There, I did not mean to be
inquisitive, but it seems wonderful that you should understand them so
well."

"To tell you the reason fully," replied she, "would be a long story, but
just now it may be enough to say that I have had a little mission class
down there but a block or two from Mrs. Rosa's for several years. In
this way, spending one evening among them, as well as Sunday afternoon,
I have come to understand the characteristics of these foreigners."

"Have you known Mrs. Rosa all this time?" asked Nora.

"Oh, no indeed, I never had seen her until after you rescued Manuel. But
since then I have called at the house two or three times and I have
grown to like Mrs. Rosa very well. She has more influence over her
children than many other foreign mothers of my acquaintance. But here we
are at Scollay Square, and as it is only five o'clock, would not you
enjoy walking down over Beacon Hill instead of taking another car?"

"Yes, indeed," both girls exclaimed, and pleased enough they were with
their choice. For as they wound in and out through some of the
picturesque streets of the West End, Miss South almost made the old
streets alive again with the people of the past. As they passed the head
of Hancock street back of the State House,

"Down there," she said, "was the Sumner homestead, where Charles Sumner
lived for many years." Then as they continued down Mt. Vernon street,
toward Louisbourg Square, she told them that here was once the estate of
Rev. William Blackstone.

"Historians," she added, "believe that the spring of fresh water whose
discovery by Blackstone led Winthrop's party to prefer Boston to
Charlestown, was probably not far from the centre of the grassplot in
the square. But we must walk quickly," she concluded, as they turned to
a side street that led them to the familiar Beacon street.

"I have come over here to call your attention to this curved front of
cream white at the middle of the slope. You have passed it hundreds of
times, Nora, but I wonder if you have ever realized that it was for many
years the home of William Hickling Prescott, the historian, and that
here he wrote many of his finest works."

Nora was ashamed to admit that she hardly remembered what Prescott had
written. But Julia, whose historical reading had been unusually deep for
one of her years, was delighted to see the home of the author of
"Ferdinand and Isabella." If there had been no old landmarks to look at
they all would have enjoyed the walk to the utmost. Few streets in the
world are more beautiful than Beacon street, at dusk or after the lamps
are lighted. Those who walk westward at this time of day have the Common
and the Garden on one side, the dignified old houses on the other, and
winding far in front of them the long street with its long lines of
lamps, while far off in the west the heights of Brookline whose brightly
lit houses and twinkling street lamps suggest a huge castle as the end
of the journey. Home for Julia and Nora, however, lay far this side of
Brookline, and it was not long before they had to bid Miss South
good-bye, with many thanks for her kindness.

Nora at dinner that evening was full of the experiences of the
afternoon, and her mother and father and the younger boys were not only
interested, but had various suggestions to make as to the most helpful
things to do for the Rosas. I won't say that the boys were always
practical, for with their minds full of the approaching Christmas they
could think of little that was really worth while doing except giving
the family an elaborately decorated Christmas tree.

Dr. Gostar promised to find out whether Mrs. Rosa was having the proper
kind of medical treatment, and Mrs. Gostar said that she would try to
talk with Miss South and learn whether there was any special thing that
she could do.

"The Christmas tree is not a very bad suggestion," said their mother
consolingly to the boys when she saw that they were disappointed that
their father treated this as a matter of slight importance.

"Why I think that it would be just lovely to give them a tree," added
Nora, "if, if, that is, you know that we must not forget Brenda."

"Of course not," replied her mother, "but Brenda does not own the Rosas,
in fact I should be inclined to think that she had forgotten them
lately."

"Oh, she has made up her mind that she is going to accomplish something
wonderful for them by means of the Easter Bazaar, and----"

"In the meantime she would leave them to starve."

"Oh, papa, you are laughing at me; Miss South says that there is no
danger of any one's starving in Boston."

"All the same you cannot expect me to encourage a dog-in-the-manger
disposition in Brenda, and you have so good an adviser in Miss South
that I am willing to help you to carry out any plans which she starts."

Dr. Gostar was so far right in his estimate of Brenda that he would have
felt more than justified in what he had said to Nora had he looked in at
the Barlows at dinner-time. For he might then have seen that Brenda was
very much disturbed, and from her lips he would have heard some very
cross words.

"Really, Julia, I think that it was awfully unkind in you and Nora to go
to see the Rosas without me; you know that I wanted to see them, and you
never gave me the least idea that you were going."

"But I am sure that Miss South invited you to go to the North End with
us."

"Well, you never said a word about the Rosas, and you know that I do not
care at all about old streets and houses, and besides, I could not have
gone this afternoon, so that you might have waited."

"How unreasonable you are, Brenda, and inconsiderate towards Julia,"
interposed her mother. "Really I had begun to hope that you were
improving, and here you are, crosser than ever."

"Yes, Brenda, don't let me hear you talk in that way again," added her
father.

"Well, I don't think it's fair for Julia and Miss South and Nora to keep
making plans for the Rosas when I was the one who first wanted to do
something for them; you remember, papa, that I asked you to buy a carpet
for them, and I have been thinking so much about that Bazaar, but now it
won't be a bit of good if everything is going to be done for them at
Christmas."

"Nonsense, Brenda, you can have a share in Julia's Christmas tree, and I
cannot feel that your interest in them has continued very strong. It
seems to me that you have been more interested in the Bazaar than in the
Rosas, and that now you should be willing to let others make plans for
them."

During all the discussion Julia had had little to say, but she resolved
at the earliest opportunity to ask Miss South to tell Brenda the exact
condition of the Rosas.



XVIII

MERRY CHRISTMAS


When Miss South heard of Brenda's feeling on the subject of the Rosas
she hastened to invite her to assist in the Christmas tree enterprise
"not so much with money, Brenda," she said, "as with your taste. I know
that you and Belle can make several of the decorations for the tree.
Money to spend for the things has been given me by a friend, and we
shall have more than enough."

With this suggestion Brenda was not at all displeased, for she had spent
more than double her liberal allowance of Christmas money on gifts for
her friends. A foolish habit of exchanging presents had grown up at
school, and each girl tried to return the presents of the season before
with something handsomer than the giver had bestowed on her. In this way
those who had to consider money were called mean if they did not give a
handsome present to all those whom they knew, that is those girls with
whom they had anything more than a speaking acquaintance. The ever
extravagant Brenda had reached almost the end of the list of those whom
she wished to remember with Christmas gifts, and had had to go to her
father for more money, which he gave her only on condition that she
should deduct it from her allowance of the next two months. It was
probably this knowledge that she could do little for the Christmas tree
for the Rosas which had led her at first to express herself rather
ill-naturedly to Julia on the subject.

Mr. Barlow always protested a little against Brenda's present-giving
habit. He said that it was very foolish to give a silver pin-tray to a
girl who perhaps already had a half-dozen similar articles, which she
would probably return with a silver scent bottle, of which Brenda
already had more than she could use in a lifetime. "It would be much
more sensible if each of you would go out and buy the thing which you
wish the most for yourself and let others do the same. I have an idea
that your wants would be less numerous and less costly if you felt that
you were spending your own money for yourself."

"Oh! papa."

"Yes, I mean it. If you were in the habit of buying more books, it would
not be so bad, there would be little danger of your having too many, and
one book, if a duplicate, could be properly exchanged for another. But
you buy such foolish things for one another, and the chief aim of each
girl seems to be to outdo every other girl."

"Oh, papa, I'm sure we all make out lists of what we want the most, and
we always try to please one another, indeed we always do, and one can't
be mean; I'm sure you wouldn't want any one to call me mean."

"Now, Brenda, of course not; but there are different kinds of meanness,
and I wonder how many of you girls at Miss Crawdon's ever stop to think
how many little comforts your Christmas presents would buy for the needy
men and women who have so little to brighten their lives. No, Brenda, I
do not begrudge you the money that I give you, but I often do object to
your way of spending it--sometimes," he hastened to add, as he saw the
frown gathering on Brenda's face.

But, after all, it would take too long to tell you how thoroughly in
earnest Julia and the others were in their efforts to make the Christmas
tree a success. The tree, to be sure, was the least part of it. For Mrs.
Rosa's small kitchen was not adapted to a very large one, and Miss South
decided that it would be rather foolish to put too much money into a
thing of that kind. The decorations were inexpensive, or homemade, and
the presents were useful rather than ornamental. Of course there were
toys and colored picture-books for Manuel and the smaller girls, and
bags of candy and oranges for each of the family, and candles enough on
the tree to make a cheerful illumination for five or ten minutes while
Miss South and Philip stood near by with pails of water ready to use in
case a spark of fire should fall where it was not expected. But after
all, things went off very well, and when the Four, or rather the
Five--for Julia, of course, was included--drove down to see the
distribution of the presents, they had hardly standing-room in the
little kitchen. Julia and Miss South had done the most of the
purchasing, and the things that they had thought of were innumerable. I
need not tell you what they all were, but there was a new rug to go in
front of the stove, and there were two wadded quilts for each of the
family beds, there was a new gown for Mrs. Rosa, and mittens and shoes
for all the children, and--but it is better for you to imagine it all,
only remembering that when a family is absolutely destitute, a great
deal of money may be spent without making a great show. The Christmas
dinner had been sent by the Baptist Church, and on Christmas evening the
children were to go to a festival at the Episcopal Church where they
expected to receive some other presents. For even Miss South had not yet
had enough influence to get the Rosas to devote themselves to one
church. They still continued to think that to attend two Protestant
churches showed a praiseworthy excess of virtue.

But whatever the trouble and expense had been, the beaming faces of Mrs.
Rosa and the children were sufficient compensation for Miss South and
her pupils. Even Belle had no fault to find with the tree, or the Rosas
or with anything connected with the celebration.

But for Julia one of the pleasantest results of the Christmas tree was
the intimacy which grew up between her and Miss South, a rather unusual
friendship to have arisen between a girl of sixteen and a woman ten
years older.

Mr. and Mrs. Barlow were pleased with the animation which Julia had
shown in this work for the Christmas tree, and they had no objection to
the intimacy with Miss South, since Miss Crawdon had assured them that
they knew her to be a young woman of unusually fine character. Just
after Christmas Miss South went up to the country for a week or two of
perfect rest, and Julia for the first time since she came to Boston
found herself entering into a round of gaiety. Dancing parties were
given almost every evening by some one of the schoolgirls, and no one
thought of inviting Brenda without asking Julia, too. It is true that
Julia did not care very much for round dances, but she had come to see
that it was almost a duty to enter more heartily into the amusements of
her schoolmates. So, putting aside--so far as she could--her natural
diffidence--she almost always accompanied Brenda, and though she could
not take part in round dances, she seldom had to sit alone. There was
always some other girl who did not dance, or who had not been asked for
the dance, and not infrequently some awkward boy who preferred sitting
it out to dancing. On some occasions, even when there had been but two
or three square dances in which Julia could take part, she had reported
to her uncle and aunt at breakfast the next morning that she had enjoyed
herself very much.

"A contented mind is a continual feast," said Belle, sarcastically, when
she heard Julia telling some one how much she had enjoyed a certain
evening. "Why, I do not think that Julia was on the floor twice.
Whenever I saw her she was talking to wall flowers, or small boys who
ought to have been at home or in bed." By "small boy," Belle meant any
one who was not yet in college, for she herself was hardly polite to any
one younger than a sophomore, and she wondered that any hostess to whose
house she was invited should think of having any one there younger than
this. But the best-intentioned hostess sometimes had young cousins or
nephews whom she wished to invite, and the two or three years'
difference in age between a sophomore and a boy still in the preparatory
school did not count for much in her eyes, however it may have been
regarded by some of the girls of Belle's age.

Yet in spite of Belle's unfavorable criticisms, Julia was gradually
winning her way to considerable popularity, and this without any effort
on her own part. She was especially polite to elderly ladies, not from
any motive, but because this seemed the proper thing, and her natural
kindliness of heart led her to look after any other girl who seemed
neglected or lonely. As to the boys--well, while no one could tell
exactly how it was, she had a way of drawing them out and making even
those who hated parties, admit to her that if more girls were like her
they wouldn't mind going out. "But most girls, you know, just order us
boys about so, and we have to dance whether we want to or not, or they
call us all kinds of things behind our backs," one of them said to Julia
one evening.

"Why, how do you know?" she had asked.

"Oh, our sisters tell us; why haven't you any brothers yourself?"

"No," said Julia, laughing at his earnestness, "nor any sisters either."

"Oh, well, you know lots of girls, and you must have heard them talk. I
can tell you after I have heard my sisters and their friends talking
people over, I think that I will never go to a party again."

"Then why do you?"

"Oh, you have to; some way, the other fellows all kind of make fun of
you if you don't, and then your family all get at you, and it's all an
awful bore. But when I find a girl like you who don't mind sitting still
and talking, I don't have quite so bad a time." Then remembering that a
little more politeness was due even to a girl who didn't pretend to be
fond of dancing, he added, "Wouldn't you like to try this Portland
Fancy? I can generally get through that all right, and I don't mind
dancing with you," and though the compliment in the last part of his
speech was a little dubious, Julia accepted, to the amazement of some of
the other girls, who would have felt themselves very much lowered if
obliged to dance with a schoolboy.

After all the gaiety of Christmas week it wasn't the easiest thing in
the world for the girls to settle down to work at school. There were so
many things to talk over, there was so much to think about. Christmas
day itself had been very pleasant for Julia, though it had been kept by
her uncle and aunt strictly as a family festival. She and Brenda were
the youngest of the group gathered at the table, for Brenda's elder
sister was still in Europe, and the other cousins invited to the dinner
were all older than Julia and Brenda. The presents were given
unostentatiously at breakfast before the arrival of any outside of the
household, and Julia was touched to find that she had been remembered
not only by the relatives whom she had seen, but by the absent cousins
in Europe who had known her only when she was a very little girl. Brenda
in her turn was extremely surprised by the handsome gifts which Julia
gave to her and to her father and mother. There was the beautiful
bracelet which she had been longing for as she had seen it in a Winter
street window, with the tiny watch set near the clasp, while for her
father and mother was a large paper edition of Thackeray, finely
illustrated and elegantly bound. Brenda was too heedless of money
herself to stop to count the cost of these gifts, and yet she realized
that they must be expensive, and while thanking Julia with the greatest
warmth, she wondered how in the world she had been able to afford them.

Her father had laughed as usual at what he called her "silverware," and
had asked her again as he had always asked her since she had acquired
the habit of present exchanging, as he called it.

"Now, wouldn't it really be more fun to have all your own money again,
Brenda, so that you could start out, and buy for yourself the things
that you like the most instead of all these odds and ends."

"Oh, papa," Brenda had replied, as she always did, "I just love these
things, and I have more presents than almost any girl I know; they say
that I really am the most popular."

"Yes," he rejoined, "because you make the most presents. However," as he
saw a cloud settling on her face, "I will not say anything if you are
happy. Only remember that you won't have any allowance again until the
first of March."

But an empty pocketbook did not seem the worst thing in the world to
Brenda with her happy-go-lucky disposition, and on the Monday after New
Year's, when they were all back in school she was the merriest of the
crowd.



XIX

NORA'S THOUGHTLESSNESS


It is never the easiest thing in the world to settle down to work after
the holidays, and even Julia for a day or two found herself a little
dreamy, with her thoughts constantly going back to the many pleasant
things of that Christmas week. But it was not as hard for her as for her
cousins to resume the regular routine. She had a more definite aim than
they, with the prospect of college examinations not so very far away.
Brenda had not yet made up her mind to give her approval to her cousin's
studying Greek, and she did not take the trouble to contradict Belle and
Frances Pounder when they said that it must be a very disagreeable thing
to have a cousin who intended to be a teacher. It is true that neither
Belle nor Frances was thoroughly informed as to Julia's intentions, but
they never needed very definite facts on which to base their theories.
Consequently when they were at a loss for a subject of conversation,
they were in the habit of discussing Julia's peculiarities. Other
persons did not find Julia peculiar. To older people she seemed an
especially well-mannered girl, with a delightful vein of thoughtfulness
that was not too often met in young girls. She had become also a decided
favorite with the brothers of her school friends to an extent that
sometimes seemed surprising. For Julia was not an extremely pretty girl,
and she was not half so well informed on sports and games as were the
girls who had lived all their lives in Boston. But she had a way of
listening attentively to whatever any boy happened to be saying to her,
and the questions that she asked always showed an unusual degree of
attention--an attention that any one could see was not a mere pretence.
Philip Blair had already begun to confide to her a larger share of his
college woes than he would have confided to his placid sister Edith. For
Edith had an uncomfortable habit of forgetting just what was to be kept
secret, and though Philip had no very dark secrets, there were still
little things that he preferred not to have told. Julia was also very
ready to help Nora's younger brothers in their lessons, and as Harry
Gostar said, "There isn't another girl Nora knows that could help a
fellow with his Greek exercises, and even if she hasn't studied Greek
any longer than I have, she has learned more than enough to show me
where I make mistakes in these beastly old conjugations."

There was probably some jealousy in the feeling of Frances and Belle
toward Julia, but jealousy was not a strong motive with Brenda. In her
case there had been little more than pettishness in her first attitude
towards her cousin--the pettishness of a spoiled child. Yet this
pettishness, which left to itself would have seemed of little
account,--hardly worth noticing, when fanned by Belle and Frances took
on the aspect of jealousy. In consequence of this feeling Julia had been
made at times very uncomfortable, though no one had ever known her to
say a word to Brenda in resentment.

Sometimes she found it very hard not to say a word when she heard the
Four rushing upstairs on the afternoons of the club meetings. Strange
though it may seem, no invitation had yet been given her to assist in
the work for the Bazaar, even although all the other girls realized that
the success of the Rosas' Christmas tree had been largely due to her.
Perhaps it was just as well that Julia had no opportunity to inspect the
things that were preparing for the Bazaar. For even after these many
weeks of work there was hardly a single finished article. Belle's
centrepiece was so elaborate that a whole afternoon showed hardly more
than a single finished leaf, or one exquisitely wrought blossom.

"If any one would pay you for your time, Belle," Nora said mischievously
one day, "we should have money enough to send one of the Rosa children
to Europe."

"You'd better talk, Nora," Belle replied, "your afghan isn't half done
either, and an afghan does not begin to be as fussy as a centrepiece,
and it isn't even artistic, or----"

"Oh, well," Nora replied, "this is not the only thing that I have done;
I keep it to work on here, but I have finished a small shawl at home,
and a pair of baby's shoes, and I am going to do any number of things
besides."

"Ah," said Belle, tossing her head, "you won't find me working myself to
death over a Bazaar. I think one afternoon a week is a great deal to
give to any poor family, for that is what it amounts to, and you know
that I don't care much about those Rosas, anyway."

"Oh, Belle!" cried Edith, looking shocked.

"No, indeed, I don't, and I am sure that Brenda does not care half as
much as she pretends. Why, Edith, as for that you yourself never go down
to the North End to see them."

"I can't; my mother won't let me go into dirty streets or into tenement
houses."

"Oh! if you cared very much, you'd find some way to go there
occasionally. You could drive."

Edith looked so uncomfortable at this suggestion, that Nora, on whom
usually fell the duty of taking up the cudgels, exclaimed,

"You know that Edith was very generous at Christmas, and that she is
ready to do ever so much more for the Rosas, and it isn't a bit fair to
speak in that way."

Belle discreetly said nothing further, for she had learned that when
Nora assumed this positive tone, Brenda was apt to go over on her side,
and then Belle herself would be so in the minority as to be obliged to
seem an unpopular person, and if there was one thing in the world that
she dreaded, it was to be considered unpopular. So trimming her sails
she said, "Why, how silly you are, Nora, you know that I was only in
fun. Of course we all are interested in the Rosas, and I only wish that
I could do two or three centrepieces for the Bazaar. But I am always so
busy at this season----"

"You busy, Belle," cried Nora. "Who ever heard of such a thing. You are
just the idlest person I know."

"Indeed I am not," was the answer. "I have to do all the errands for the
family, and half my clothes are made in the house, and we always have
such stupid seamstresses, that----"

"I should say so, Belle; I do think that you have had some of the
ugliest clothes, lately, that I have seen this winter," interrupted
Nora, rather unceremoniously. Belle reddened very deeply at this speech,
for as a matter of fact she was extremely sensitive on the subject of
her clothes. Unlike Brenda or Edith, she never had the privilege of
going to a fine costumer; nor could she even employ the dressmaker who
made some of the gowns worn by others of her set of friends. The
circumstances in her family were such that she could not gratify her
taste in dress. She must wear this thing or that thing that her
grandmother had selected, or must have something of her mother's altered
to the present fashion for girls. However skilful the alterations, she
felt as if she were in some way disgraced. Now to tell the truth Belle
herself had so much natural taste that only a very severe critic could
see anything to criticise in her dress, and a sensible person watching
the two girls would have said that it was much better for a young girl
to be brought up with the somewhat economical habits that had to be
Belle's than to have the rather too elegant clothes, and the many
changes of costume which Mrs. Blair seemed to prefer for Edith. But
girls will be girls, and Belle's great grievance was that when fawn
brown for example, was the fashionable spring shade, she had to wear a
gown of stone grey, because somewhere in the cedar chests in her
grandmother's attic there was a stone grey thibet, ample enough to cut
over into a spring gown for her. As to hats, neither her mother nor her
grandmother approved of her having her hats trimmed at a milliner's. In
consequence, after her mother had put on a hat a simple trimming such as
she approved herself, Belle would spend her first spare afternoon in
ripping it all off, in order to retrim it. Indeed she usually spent not
one afternoon but several in this operation, and even ventured to lay
out her own pocket money in little ornaments or in ribbons that she
thought would add to the appearance of the hat. In the same way she was
able too to make slight alterations in the appearance of her gowns, and
sometimes the changes were improvements. At other times what she had
considered a genuine addition to the style of her garment or hat to
other eyes seemed only queer, or in schoolgirl parlance "weird."

When therefore Nora said that she had considered Belle's clothes of the
present winter the ugliest she had seen, she touched a tender cord. In
the first place Belle had had a strong dislike for the coat and hat
which her mother and grandmother had selected for her, and in the second
place she thought that she had improved the appearance of her costume as
a whole by entirely altering the style of her winter hat. For she had
twisted the front to the back, had added a deep blue bow to the
trimming, and she believed that altogether she had accomplished wonders.

At Nora's speech the tears came to her eyes, and the heedless Brenda,
who was not herself always careful of the feelings broke forth
indignantly,

"I do think, Nora, that you might be careful what you say; you know that
Belle dresses as well as she can, and I think that she always looks
well. I wish that I could trim hats."

"Oh, Brenda, it is a good thing that you can't, for if you could you
never would have a thing to wear; you can do fancy work, but you haven't
a thing finished yet for the Bazaar."

While Nora was talking Belle had been folding up her work, and in a
moment more she was putting on her hat and coat.

"You are not going now?" cried Brenda. "Oh, don't go; you're not mad at
Nora, are you?"

"Oh, no," answered Belle with the air of injured innocence. "Oh, no, but
I think that I ought to be going. I did not mean to stay the whole
afternoon."

"Oh, don't go," urged Edith; "if you'll wait half an hour I will go with
you, but I must finish this piece of drawn work."

But Belle continued to put on her outer wraps, and in a few minutes had
bidden the others good-bye. As a matter of fact Belle was deeply
offended, and she knew that if she had stayed much longer with her
friends she would have been driven to express herself strongly. Now a
general quarrel was a thing to be dreaded, and she knew that it would be
unwise to risk it. Belle was certainly a sensible girl, and what she now
did was really the best thing under the circumstances.

Left to themselves the three other girls let their tongues move very
freely. It was something new for the rather loquacious Belle to go off
without a word, as if in some way she had been vanquished. It was the
very best thing that she could have done for herself.

"Really, Nora, I don't see how you could speak in that way to Belle. I
am sure that she feels very badly," began Edith.

"Well, she is awfully conceited about her clothes, and sometimes she
does look so queer."

"But you shouldn't say so to her face----"

"Better to her face than behind her back."

"I don't know," rejoined Edith, "there are some things that it is just
as well not to say at all. Belle has a right to wear whatever kind of
hats she likes."

"Oh, Edith," responded Nora, "you are altogether too fair. I am tired of
having Belle find fault with every one else as if she were just perfect
herself. For my own part, I----"

"Well, Nora," said Brenda, "you ought not to say anything to Belle when
she is in my house. I happen to know that she is very sensitive about
her clothes. In the first place her mother will never let her have what
she wants----"

"No, it's her grandmother," interrupted Edith. "She really does have a
hard time, and it isn't fair to criticise her."

"No," added Brenda, "it is not."

"Well, Brenda," said Nora, "you ought not to say anything. You make
Belle awfully mad sometimes by what you say. I heard you telling her the
other day that you should think that she'd just hate that winter coat
that she has been wearing, the fur is so very unbecoming, and you asked
her why she didn't have a chinchilla collar and muff. She won't quarrel
with you, because there are so many little things that you can do for
her."

"There, there," cried Edith who saw that neither Brenda nor Nora was in
an amiable frame of mind. "Don't let us bicker. Any one would think that
we were all enemies instead of the inseparable four."

"Oh, Edith, we can't all be as amiable as you," responded Nora. "But
really I am a little sorry that I offended Belle, for I know that she
has a rather hard time at home, but I do wish that she would not put on
such superior airs, and I do wish that she would not wear her hats hind
side before. Sometimes I almost hate to go out with her."

"Why, Nora, I never heard of such a thing. I did not know that you
attached the least importance to appearances. Besides I thought that you
always wanted to make every one comfortable in her feelings. It seems
strange that you should have been so awfully thoughtless towards Belle."

"I dare say that you are perfectly correct," responded Nora; "you
usually are, Edith Blair. And I haven't a doubt that I shall go down on
my knees to-morrow at recess, and apologize to Belle and to every one
else whom I have ever offended. But I say that we have had enough of
this exchange of compliments for to-day. Let us put up our work, and
talk about something else. Why, see here, Belle has left her centrepiece
behind her."

"Oh, give it to me," cried Brenda; "I will put it away," and she took it
from Nora's hands.

"We shouldn't have had this fuss, should we," said Edith, "if Julia had
been working with us?"

"You don't call this a fuss," rejoined Nora, "only a slight
misunderstanding."

Now in spite of her outspokenness Nora was really a very fair minded
young person, or perhaps I ought to say because of it. Those who express
themselves very plainly often hurt the feelings of their friends, and
not all of them have the courage to admit that they have been wrong. It
does require some courage to go to a girl who is in the habit of
justifying all her own words and deeds to tell her that you yourself
have been wrong. Yet this was just what Nora did a day or two later when
she began to reflect on the criticisms she had made in the matter of
Belle's clothes. She was surprised herself at the graciousness with
which Belle received her apology. But this was one of the cases--rather
exceptional to be sure,--in which Nora was decidedly in the wrong.
Belle, therefore, could afford to be magnanimous. After this Nora was
much more careful about criticising any one, for it was her general aim
in life to follow as closely as she could the Golden Rule.



XX

FIDESSA AND HER MISTRESS


On the very afternoon when Nora and Belle had their falling out, Julia,
after finishing her practising, had gone for a walk. It was a bright,
clear day, and she wished that she had some other girl to walk with her.
For when by herself she never ventured beyond the entrance to the park,
although if her cousin or one of her school friends could go with her,
her aunt had no objection to her walking in the park itself. One of the
disadvantages of her friendship with Ruth Roberts lay in the fact that
they could seldom be together in the afternoons. Their homes were too
far apart. Sometimes on Saturday Julia would go to Roxbury to spend the
half day with Ruth, and on other Saturdays Ruth would come in town to
stay with Julia. It was hard to tell which was the pleasanter thing to
do. At Roxbury, there were Ruth's ponies to drive, and in snowy weather
a chance to coast down a quiet side street. Out of town there are many
more chances for fun for girls past sixteen than can possibly be found
in town or the city. When Ruth visited Julia the two usually went to a
concert accompanied by Mrs. Barlow, or when she could not go, by one of
their teachers. Of late Julia had been in the habit of inviting Miss
South to go with them. Brenda never went to these concerts. She was not
fond of music, and she did not pretend to be. The only matinee that she
cared for was the theatre, and as her parent were decidedly opposed to
her going often to the play, she could not indulge herself half as much
as she wished.

On this particular afternoon Julia felt especially lonely. Doubtless no
small part of her loneliness came from the fact that she was perfectly
well aware of the presence of the "Four" in the house, and though she
had tried not even to say to herself that she felt slighted, she would
have been less than human not to feel that her cousin had slighted her
in not asking her to the club. "To look up and not down, to look out and
not in," had been one of the lessons which her father had been most
careful to teach her. It was therefore not very often that she let her
thoughts dwell too long on her own affairs. But on this particular day
she felt a little low-spirited and inclined to regard herself as rather
ill-used. Without realizing it she had walked some distance into the
park, and pausing to admire a bit of distant view that she was able to
get from a slightly elevated point, she lingered a moment or two longer
to decide whether it was an animal or a child that she heard crying
behind a small clump of bushes near by. When she found that there was no
other way of satisfying herself, she walked up to the bushes, and there,
standing forlornly on three legs, was a tiny Italian greyhound.

"Why, you poor little thing!" she cried, "what is the matter?" and as
she spoke she took the little creature in her arms.

"Is your leg broken, or sprained, or what?" she continued, though of
course she did not expect any reply from the dog. The greyhound showed
great joy at the sound of a friendly voice, and looked up in Julia's
face with an expression of confidence and gratitude.

"Come, I am going to put you down on the ground for a minute to see
whether you are hurt, or only pretending." So, suiting the action to the
word, she stood the little dog on its feet. As if understanding her
purpose, the little creature limped in front of her for a few steps, but
the limp was so slight as to assure Julia that no serious accident had
befallen the leg, which the dog still seemed inclined to hold off the
ground.

"Now let me see if your collar tells who your owner is," added Julia,
and she bent down towards the dog. There to her surprise, she read in
clear letters, "Fidessa, Madame du Launy." Now immediately Julia decided
that the owner of the dog must be the mistress of the large house near
the school, about which her friends were so curious. In an instant, too,
she remembered that she had seen this little animal, or one very like
it, taking its exercise in front of the great, mysterious house. Julia
had always been fond of dogs, and the little trembling creature appealed
strongly to her. For a moment she almost wished that there were no name
on the collar, so that she might have kept it with her for a day or two
while finding the owner. "O, if only it had no owner, what joy!" she
thought, as she gazed into its dark eyes, "to keep it for myself!"

As things were, however, she felt that she ought to try to return it as
soon as possible, and taking the little Fidessa in her arms, she
retraced her steps to the other side of the city where Madame du Launy
lived.

As she stood in front of the house which Nora and Brenda had tried so
unsuccessfully to enter a few weeks before, the old timidity which at
one time had been the trial of her life returned to her. Nevertheless,
she rang the bell bravely, and was welcomed almost with open arms by the
serious-faced servant who opened the door. He had seen Fidessa
instantly, and if he had not, the little creature would have made
herself quickly known. When Julia released her, she jumped about in the
greatest excitement, whirling around in a circle and then rushing ahead
up the stairs. All trace of the lameness seemed to be gone, greatly to
Julia's surprise.

While Fidessa was running ahead, the man, asking Julia to follow him,
had shown her into a large room, rather dimly lighted. At first she
thought that she was alone, but far at the other end of the apartment
she saw a slight figure arise from the depths of a large armchair, as
the man said solemnly, "Madame du Launy, here is a young lady who has
found Fidessa." At that moment the truant dog bounded into the room, and
leaping up towards the old lady almost knocked her over. At the same
moment a plain, elderly woman entered behind Fidessa, and Julia could
see as she stood in the doorway that her eyes were rather red around the
edges as if she had been weeping.

"Draw up a blind, or two, James," said Madame du Launy, querulously, "we
are not at a funeral. Come nearer, my dear, I am sure that I am very
much obliged to you for your trouble. Where did you find my poor little
dog?" By this time, the "poor little dog" was seated calmly on a cushion
with its slender front legs crossed as if it had never given any one a
moment's uneasiness. As Julia looked at the lady who had addressed her,
she saw that she was, or had been tall. Her figure, though somewhat
bent, gave the impression of stateliness. This aspect was increased by
the large towering structure which she wore on her head, whether to be
called cap, or turban, it was hard to tell with its folds of black silk,
its border of white lace and with two or three jeweled pins sticking in
it.

In answer to Madame du Launy's question, Julia described finding the
little dog in the park, and her fear at first lest it had hurt its leg.

"That is an old trick of Fidessa," said her mistress smiling, "when she
is at all unhappy she limps about on three legs as if really lame. She
does not know her way about the city, and she is never supposed to go
anywhere without her leash. As nearly as I can understand from Jane,
Fidessa went out for a drive to-day under her care. When Jane left the
carriage to call on a friend of hers, who lives near the park, she
forgot all about my dog. Fidessa probably jumped out of the carriage to
take a walk herself. But I must say that it seems most extraordinary
that no one saw her, neither the coachman, the footman nor Jane. When
the carriage started home none of them took the trouble to look under
the rugs to see if she was there." Here Jane began to sniffle a little.
"Well," continued Madame du Launy, "it is a great wonder that she was
not stolen or run over, poor little thing! It's no thanks to you, Jane,"
and she looked daggers at the unfortunate maid. "It is a wonder, too,
that none of you could find Fidessa. For I don't believe that the little
thing was actually hiding, and you all three have come back with the
report that it was impossible to find her."

While Madame du Launy was speaking Julia said to herself that she would
be very sorry to bring on herself a scolding from so sharp-voiced an old
lady, and she could not help feeling sorry for Jane, even though the
latter had probably been careless.

But now, with a sudden change of manner, Madame du Launy turned toward
the young girl. "There is no reason, however, why you should suffer for
Jane's misdeeds.

"Jane, ring the bell," she cried, and then in what seemed an incredibly
short time, a man entered with a butler's tray, which he placed on a
table in front of Madame du Launy, while the latter invited Julia to
come nearer and take a cup of tea.

Now as Julia sat there drinking tea from the quaintest of old-fashioned
china cups, and eating slices of thin bread and butter, and cakes that
almost melted in her mouth, she could not help wondering what her
friends and her cousin would say to see her actually seated in the house
which most of them considered absolutely impossible to enter. In spite
of the fact that the curtains at one or two windows had been raised a
little the room was still rather dark, and as she glanced about, Julia
could see the pictures and furniture rather indistinctly. She noticed,
however, that one wall was quite covered with large pieces of tapestry
representing medieval battle scenes, and that on the opposite wall on
either side of a long mirror there hung a number of family portraits.
One of these in a heavily gilded oval frame represented a young girl of
perhaps eighteen years, whose features, for some reason or other, seemed
strangely familiar; in fact there was something in the bright and
earnest face that drew Julia's eyes so constantly towards it that she
began to fear lest Madame du Launy would think it strange that she
should pay such close attention to it.

[Illustration: "NOW AS JULIA SAT THERE DRINKING TEA FROM THE QUAINTEST OF OLD-FASHIONED CHINA CUPS"]

It seemed a remarkable thing to Julia that she should find herself
drinking tea under the roof of the mysterious house about which the
schoolgirls had shown so much curiosity. It seemed even stranger that
Madame du Launy should prove to be altogether less of an ogre than she
had been represented. Although a trembling hand and a rather weak voice
betrayed her age, she talked brightly of various things, asking Julia
about her school, and her studies, and drawing the young girl out to
talk about the western country in which she had spent so much time. On
one subject, however, the old lady was silent. She said nothing in
praise of Boston, either ancient or modern. She never alluded to a
single individual as "my friend" or "my neighbor." She spoke only of
things, and for the most part of things that had no connection with New
England. Her questions about the school were evidently prompted by
politeness in accordance with the general rule that one should show an
interest in whatever probably interests the one with whom she is
talking.

Jane who stood not far from her mistress' chair, and James who kept his
post near the drawing-room door, looked in amazement on Madame du Launy
and her young guest. In all their remembrance,--and both had lived in
the house more than twenty-five years--they had never seen a young girl
in conversation with their mistress. Indeed, they had seen very few
guests in that gloomy old drawing-room, and certainly they had never
known any one else to be asked to drink tea. It was as pleasant as it
was novel to Madame du Launy to have Julia sitting with her, and as for
Fidessa, she altogether forgot the strict discipline under which she had
been reared, and instead of sitting calmly on her cushion, she jumped up
in Julia's lap, and from time to time planted a cold, moist little kiss
on her cheek. When at last Julia rose to go she had made a much longer
visit than she should have made in view of the fact that the end of the
afternoon was near at hand, and that she had some distance to go to
reach her uncle's house. When, however, she rose to go, Madame du Launy
begged her to wait a moment. "I have ordered my carriage," she added,
"for it is altogether too late for you to go home alone. Let me thank
you very much for your kindness to my little Fidessa, for it would have
been a very serious loss for me, had she fallen into the wrong hands."
Then when she saw James returning to announce that the carriage was
ready, she added, "and if you will come again some afternoon, and spare
an hour or so for me, you will add more than you can imagine to relieve
my very monotonous life." Thus Julia as she bade the old lady good-bye
felt that she had made a new friend, and in a very unexpected way. The
carriage in which she rode home, though old-fashioned in shape, was
delightfully comfortable, and when she descended from it at her uncle's
door, still another surprise awaited her. The footman placed in her hand
a little box "with Madame du Launy's compliments," he said. This when
she opened proved to contain a delicately chased little envelope opener,
shaped like a tiny scimitar. "Really," she thought, "I have had a most
exciting adventure. Better than I deserve, for it was only this
afternoon that I was feeling so cross and so disheartened because the
Four would not include me in the club. But if I had been with them this
afternoon I could not have had this adventure."

"Well, I certainly _should_ call it an adventure," said Mr. Barlow that
evening, when she told him her experience with Mme. du Launy. "Why, even
I, in all my years of residence here, have never had a glimpse of the
old lady. I have sometimes thought it a pity that she should lead so
solitary a life, but it's her own choice. They say she has a regular
hermit disposition. How did it strike you, Julia?"

"Not that way, uncle, at all, not at all, though she seemed very sad."

"Perhaps she's repenting for the way she has neglected her
grandchildren," interposed Brenda.

"Are you sure that there are any grandchildren?" enquired Mrs. Barlow.

"Why, yes, of course, at least I suppose so," answered

Brenda.

Mr. Barlow laughed, "I am afraid that you cannot make out a very strong
case of cruelty to children unless you can prove the existence of the
children."

"Oh, well," interposed Mrs. Barlow, to prevent that ruffling of Brenda's
feelings which was sure to follow when she felt that some one was
laughing at her, "There is not much doubt that there are one or two
grandchildren for whom Madame du Launy ought to do something. I forget
what I have heard about it myself, but I could make enquiries."

"Oh, Julia will soon be able to tell us more about Madame du Launy and
her grandchildren than anybody else ever dreamed of," said Brenda, a
little spitefully, as she left the room.

"Poor Brenda," murmured Mr. Barlow, "will she ever overcome that spirit
of jealousy?"



XXI

MISS SOUTH AND JULIA


"You can say what you like," said Belle to Brenda when the latter told
her of Julia's adventure with the dog, "but I think that it was
downright mean in her to go to Madame du Launy's in that sneaking kind
of way."

"Why, Belle, it wasn't sneaking. What was she to do with the little dog?
She couldn't leave it on the street."

"Well, she knew how anxious we all were to see the inside of that house,
and the least that she could do was to invite some of us to go with
her."

"Oh, Belle, if you are not the most unreasonable girl in the world,"
exclaimed Nora, who had heard the latter part of this speech. "You
couldn't expect her to invite one of us Four, when at that very moment
we were having our meeting; and it's you who won't let the rest of us
invite her to sew with us. For my part, I am glad that Julia has got
ahead of us."

Here Brenda spoke up in a tone rather more judicial than she was
accustomed to employ. "I think that you are wrong, too, Belle; I don't
believe that Julia had ever given Madame du Launy a thought before, and
I'm almost sure that she didn't expect to be invited into the house when
she took the little dog home."

"Oh, she knew what she was doing," replied Belle; "you can't make me
believe anything else, and I only hope she'll invite you to go there
with her some day. You must be sure to let me know if she does."

"Oh, of course," responded Brenda carelessly, "but then I am not so
anxious myself to see Madame du Launy, I never did care so very much for
old ladies."

"It isn't Madame du Launy," interposed Belle, "it's the house. Didn't
Julia tell you that it was perfectly beautiful?"

"I don't know that she said so very much about it. She hasn't said much
to me. You'd better ask her yourself, if you wish to know all about it,"
said Brenda in reply, while Nora added a little mischievously, "Yes,
here she comes, with Edith and Ruth."

But Belle with a scornful "No thank you," passed on into the house.

As a matter of fact Brenda was just a little envious of what to her
seemed Julia's good fortune in this particular instance; but her
cousin's charm of disposition and manner had already begun to have an
effect on her, and she was also weary of hearing Belle so constantly
find fault with her. After all blood is thicker than water, and Brenda
had a little more than her share of true family pride. By noon, however,
her annoyance with Belle had disappeared, and she listened eagerly to
some plans which Belle was arranging for the afternoon.

It happened that very day that Miss South and Julia were to make one of
their journeys to the North End, and on the way Julia very naturally
told her teacher of her visit to Madame du Launy. The latter listened
with great interest, but made rather less comment than Julia had
expected. Yet she asked one or two questions that surprised Julia. "Did
you like the picture of the young girl over the drawing-room
mantelpiece?"

"Why, is there one there, did I speak of it?" said Julia.

Miss South, Julia could not help noticing it, really blushed as she
replied,

"Well, you may not have mentioned it, but I had heard----"

"Oh, yes," interrupted Julia, without waiting for her to finish. "Oh,
yes, I do remember; a young girl with long, fair curls. I sat just where
my eye fell on it, and I could not help thinking that it was rather a
sad picture, at least the girl had a sad expression, and it seemed too,
as if I had seen some one who looked very much like her. Why, have you
ever seen that portrait, Miss South?"

"Oh, no," answered Miss South. "Oh, no, but I have heard of it, and--"
but she did not finish the sentence, and altogether she seemed to be in
a rather silent mood, although she encouraged Julia to talk freely about
Madame du Launy.

"Madame du Launy must be dreadfully lonely," said Julia, "living alone
in that great house. I believe it is true as the girls at school say
that no one ever goes to see her."

"Not to see a great many people does not always mean loneliness,"
replied Miss South. "You know that I have not a great many acquaintances
in Boston, but still I am never lonely. Of course," she continued, "I
have you girls, but that is not the same thing as having friends of my
own age to exchange visits with me."

"Yes," responded Julia sympathetically, "and since I have known so much
about you I have often thought that it must be very hard to be alone
this way in a large city. Of course you have your brother to think
about--but he is so far away, out there on the railroad in Texas,--why
you are worse off than I am, for I have my uncle and aunt--and Brenda--"
she ended with a smile.

"As I have said, Julia," continued Miss South, "I am not so very lonely,
although I have not a single relation in Boston, at least not one to
whom I can turn; yes, I might as well say, not one."

"How did you ever happen to come here, then?" asked Julia.

"Oh, I had just finished my normal course in New York, when I met Miss
Crawdon one summer. She needed an assistant, and made me a very good
offer. Besides I had always wished to come to Boston, and as long as
Louis and I had to be separated, it seemed to me that I might as well be
here as anywhere else. I should have liked to go to Texas with Louis,
but his work keeps him so much on the railroad that we should not have
been much good to each other. Of course when he is a railway president
we shall live together--but he is only twenty-two now, and it is foolish
to think of that at present."

For the first time since the beginning of her acquaintance with Miss
South, Julia felt decidedly anxious to ask questions about her early
life. Perhaps Miss South had an insight into her mind. At any rate she
said, in a half tone of apology, "Since you are interested, Julia, I
will tell you a little about myself. When my brother was ten years old,
and I fourteen, our father died. Our mother had died several years
before. The little bit of money which our father left was hardly enough
to support us until we were educated. Fortunately he had a friend, a
lawyer, who looked after it very carefully, and although he had to spend
most of the capital for us as well as the interest, we were both able to
live comfortably, though in a very economical way, until I was eighteen.
At this time we had but a few hundred dollars left, and Louis was glad
enough to take a situation in a railroad office offered to him by the
efforts of the same kind friend. He was soon earning his board, and
every year he has had an increase of salary, with a steady promotion. I
went first to the State University in the state where I had grown up and
was able to afford myself a good normal course. Since I came to Boston I
have been able to save a little from my salary. You can see, then, that
I am not very badly off--only I do wish sometimes that I had a few
relations."

"Haven't you any, really?" asked Julia.

"None--at least practically none near enough to take any interest in me.
You see my mother was an only child, at least her brother and sister
died young, and so was my father. Besides he was an Englishman, and what
distant cousins of his there are, live in England."

Julia would have liked to ask more, but just at that moment a little
figure darted into view, and flung himself upon her. It was Manuel, in
all the glory of a new pair of trousers, new at least to him, though
even an eye inexperienced in tailoring could see that they had been cut
down from garments originally made for a much larger person. But to him
they were absolutely the finest pair of trousers that he had ever seen,
because they were the first that he had ever worn. After this there was
no danger that any one could imagine that he was his own little sister,
a mortifying mistake that strangers were in the habit of making.

Miss South and Julia followed him down the crooked street, which their
several visits had made very familiar to them, and stood behind him as
he pushed open the narrow door. At the very first glance into the room,
Miss South, who was ahead, felt a little disheartened. Everything was in
disorder, although she had been making such efforts this winter to get
Mrs. Rosa to see the necessity for cleanliness and neatness. But when
she and Julia went inside she felt that perhaps she had been a little
too severe in her judgment. Mrs. Rosa lay back in her chair looking
sicker and weaker than they had ever seen her, and though she put out
her hand in greeting, she seemed unable to rise.

"How is this?" exclaimed Miss South.

"Oh, miss, I believe I'm real sick," was the reply; "I haven't eaten
nothing for such a long time. I can't eat nothing, and I can't hardly
raise my voice to the children. Here you, Manuel, don't eat that bread
and molasses before the ladies."

Then Mrs. Rosa lay back in her chair in a fit of violent coughing
brought on by her efforts to be polite and parental at the same time.

"Aren't you almost ready to go to the hospital, now, Mrs. Rosa?"
enquired Miss South, sympathetically. "I think that it is altogether too
hard for you to try to stay here to manage these children and take care
of yourself."

Mrs. Rosa shook her head. "Not the hospital, miss; I should die, I'm
sure, if I should go there."

"But you can't stay here, if you grow worse, and indeed, I am sure that
you cannot get any better, if you stay here. Then your children would be
much worse off than they would be if you should be parted from them for
a little while. The doctors at the hospital might make you perfectly
well." Mrs. Rosa shook her head feebly, and Miss South felt decidedly
discouraged. Even when Julia added her voice in a gentle persuasive way,
Mrs. Rosa refused to be convinced. No, she would stay where she was for
a while. By and by perhaps she would go somewhere, but she could not
tell; she couldn't leave the children, and the nurse had told her that
she could not take them with her to the hospital.

"Well, wouldn't you go to the country if we could find a place for you
there?" asked Julia gently; "perhaps we could find a house where you and
the children all could go, for you can't get well if you stay here."

At this suggestion, Mrs. Rosa's face brightened a trifle, but from her
reply it was hard to tell whether she would be perfectly willing to
leave her own unwholesome abode, even for the country.

"You ought to make Angelina keep this room cleaner," said Miss South.

"Oh, I can't make Angelina do nothing," she answered; "Angelina is so
lazy I don't know what to do with her. She just reads library books all
the time."

Again Mrs. Rosa leaned back in a fit of coughing, and Miss South and
Julia, after leaving one or two little delicacies that they had brought
her, went away less cheerful than they had been.

"It's rather dreadful, isn't it?" said Julia.

"Yes," replied Miss South, "especially as it would not require a great
deal of effort or money to make that family perfectly comfortable."

"How much?" asked Julia.

Miss South laughed. "You are very practical," she said. "Perhaps I ought
to have said that it is effort in the right direction that is needed
rather than money."

"Nobody can do very much, I am afraid," said Julia, "while Mrs. Rosa is
so obstinate. It seems as if some one ought to have the right to oblige
her to move."

"Well, personal liberty is one of the privileges that foreigners living
in this country appreciate the most. Yet Mrs. Rosa ought not to feel
that she can do just as she likes, since she is living on charity
altogether now."

"I was wondering--" began Julia.

"Yes," continued Miss South, "her church pays half her rent, and
provides her coal; the Provident Association supplies her with
groceries. Some of her Portuguese neighbors help her with food from
their own table, and one or two charitable people give shoes and old
clothes to the children. The dispensary doctor treats her without
charge, and she has the occasional services of a district nurse. If
Angelina would only follow out some of the directions left by the nurse,
the whole family would be much more comfortable."

"I had no idea," said Julia, "that so much would be done for one poor
family; and you haven't spoken of what you do yourself, Miss South."

"Oh, my part is very small; I just keep a general oversight, and by
calling on Mrs. Rosa once or twice a week, I try to see that things run
smoothly."

"There isn't so very much, then, for Brenda and the other girls to do.
You know that they are working for a sale from which they hope to raise
a lot of money for Manuel and his family."

"Yes, I have heard about it," replied Miss South, "and I should be the
last one to discourage them in their efforts; but I am sure that if Mrs.
Rosa had been depending on their help she would have suffered this
winter. They are too spasmodic."

"What do you think then that there will be for them to do with the money
they raise at the Bazaar, for I am sure that they have large
expectations?"

"Oh, there are many practical things. This matter of moving the family
to the country, for example. To accomplish this will take more money
than you might think, and I do not myself know any charitable agency
with money to expend in this way."

"But do you think that you can move them?"

"Why not? It may be hard, but if Mrs. Rosa should find it impossible to
get help from the people who have been helping her, she may be glad to
fall in with our plan."

"Well, it's all very interesting," said Julia, "and it may be that I can
help you in some way. Of course I do not wish to interfere with Brenda's
plans, and I shall have to find out what she intends to do. If I were
going to have anything to do with the Bazaar directly, it would be
different."

"Haven't you been admitted yet into the sacred circle of 'The Four'?"
said Miss South, smiling. "I thought that you would have been before
this."

"No," replied Julia a little sadly. "No, I suppose that they think that
I should not have so very much time for fancy work, and I dare say it is
better that I should spend what spare hours I have in some other way,
but still----"

"But still," said Miss South, finishing out her sentence, "but still it
isn't altogether agreeable to be left out."

"No," answered Julia, "it isn't."

While they were talking they had been riding up Hanover street, and
leaving the car in Washington street, they did two or three errands in
one of the large shops.

"Shall we walk home now, or ride?" enquired Miss South.

"Oh, I would much rather walk," answered Julia, "if it is all the same
to you;" and so they walked on through Winter street, intending to cross
the Common. Leading off Winter street there is a side street on which is
the back entrance of the music hall. Now just as they reached the corner
of this street, they saw two girls near the theatre door, walking in
their direction.

"Why, how much that looks--why it is Brenda," exclaimed Julia, "and that
is Belle with her," she continued in surprise; "I wonder what they are
doing down here."

Even as she spoke, the two figures at which she had been looking a
moment before disappeared within a doorway.

"Would you like to meet them and ask them to walk home with us?"
enquired Miss South.

"Why, I don't know," replied Julia. "I am afraid that they may not wish
to come with us; it almost seems as if they are hiding from us. You saw
them, didn't you, that first time, Miss South?"

"Yes, indeed, I recognized them both, but isn't it unusual for them to
be down town alone?"

"It's against the rules for Brenda, I know, at least I have heard my
aunt say that she did not care to have her go down town without her. I
imagine that probably they have some one with them. Brenda is rather
careful about disobeying, as a general thing."

"Oh, then it's probably all right," said Miss South, "and we might as
well go on."



XXII

BRENDA'S SECRET


Julia had not been long in the house after her walk with Miss South,
when she heard her aunt at her door. In reply to her "Are you here,
Julia?" the young girl ran forward, with a "Yes, indeed, auntie, come
right in."

"Why, how pretty your room looks," exclaimed Mrs. Barlow; "I had almost
forgotten that it could be so pleasant."

"That sounds as if you had not been up here for some time, and indeed I
was thinking myself only this morning that you had rather neglected me
lately--at least in the matter of visiting me."

"I know it, dear child, but you know that I have been very busy this
winter. There are many things to occupy me, and the Boston season is so
short. We haven't had one of our pleasant chats here for several weeks.
But I hope that you are perfectly comfortable. I am sure that you would
tell me if you should need anything that I had overlooked."

"Nothing has ever been overlooked, Aunt Anna, that could add in any way
to my comfort."

"Then you are perfectly contented. Sometimes I fancy that I see an
expression on your face that seems to indicate--well, not discontent,
but something of the kind, as if you were a little unhappy."

"Oh, no indeed, Aunt Anna. You are all too kind, and I enjoy every
moment in Boston. Of course I miss poor papa, but he had expected to
leave me for so long a time, that I was prepared, and he himself always
said that he wished me to think of him as only gone away for a time, yet
of course I miss him. But then you and Uncle Thomas have been everything
to me, and so thoughtful. I can't imagine a more delightful room than
this with the view of the river, and these dainty, artistic things about
me, and my own piano and books. You have no idea how I have enjoyed it."

"Well, I am glad that it all pleases you, for perhaps we could not have
done as well for you if Agnes had been at home. You know that this was
her studio, and no other room in the house is so large and cheerful. Now
it has always seemed hard that you could not have kept Eliza with you
this winter; she had been a part of your old life, and you would have
been much happier with some one to talk with about it."

"Of course I should have been glad to have had her with me, but I
couldn't insist on her staying when her brother needed her so much after
the death of his wife. I had such an amusing letter from one of her
little nieces the other day, thanking me for lending them their Aunt
Eliza, and saying that they did not know when they could return her."

"Then she can't come to spend the summer at Stormbridge?"

"I do not exactly know, for Eliza has not written to me herself; but I
half believe that it is better for me to do without a maid; I feel ever
so much more independent, although naturally I _do_ miss Eliza."

Mrs. Barlow smiled at the philosophic tone which

Julia had assumed, for she had quietly made her own observations on the
state of Julia's mind when at the very beginning of her stay in Boston
Eliza had been called away.

"Another year you may need somebody, even if you cannot have Eliza. The
older a girl grows the more stitches there are to be taken for her, and
next season you will have less time than at present to do things for
yourself."

"But I like this feeling of independence, or rather I like to feel that
I have to depend almost entirely on myself; I am just so much more of a
person than I should be if I had Eliza to wait on me constantly, as I
used to."

"A certain amount of independence in a young girl is a good thing,"
replied Mrs. Barlow, "and I am glad that yours takes a somewhat
different form from Brenda's. I wonder, for example, where she is this
afternoon. She had an appointment at her dressmaker's, but when I went
there to make a suggestion or two about her new coat, they told me that
she had not been there, and here it is near dinner-time with no sign of
Brenda. Probably she is with Belle or some of the girls, but still I do
not like her going off in this way."

While Mrs. Barlow was speaking Julia hoped that she would not ask her if
she had seen Brenda, and fortunately she did not do so. To be sure,
Julia had nothing special to tell, and indeed had not her aunt spoken of
the broken appointment at the dressmaker's, she might have mentioned the
glimpse of Brenda that she had had down town, but now she began to
suspect that something was wrong, at least it was strange that Brenda
should have deceived her mother about the dressmaking appointment. The
dressmaker's rooms were not down town, so that it was not this
appointment that had taken her to the neighborhood of Winter street.

"But where have you been, yourself, this afternoon, Julia?" asked Mrs.
Barlow; and Julia told her of her visit to the Rosas, and of the plans
that Miss South had suggested for raising them out of their present
trouble. "I am afraid that Brenda won't agree with her," she said, "for
she has the idea that the one thing needful is to give Mrs. Rosa a large
sum of money to spend just as she likes."

"Brenda isn't very practical," replied Mrs. Barlow. "I only wish that
she had your common sense; or if she were more like Agnes, it would be
better, for although Agnes is an artist, she is decidedly practical."

"Oh, Brenda is so much younger," said Julia apologetically.

"Yes, I know it, that is undoubtedly one reason for her heedlessness,
but it sometimes seems as if her wilfulness increases every day. I am
afraid, too, that she has not always been considerate of you; I have
been wishing to speak of this for a long time, though it is not an easy
thing to do. It would pain me very much to have you feel that any of
us--even Brenda had been inhospitable."

"Oh, no indeed, Aunt Anna, I am not likely to think anything of that
kind. I make allowances for Brenda, and I honestly think that she is
getting to like me better."

"There ought not to be any question of that kind. If it were not for
Belle, Brenda would be inclined to throw herself more upon you, but I am
sure that Belle keeps her stirred up all the time. But there--I ought
not to talk so much about this, at least to you, only I have thought
that I ought to tell you that your uncle and I have feared that you have
had several experiences this winter that were not altogether pleasant,
and I should fail in my duty if I did not express our appreciation of
your patience."

Then rising from her chair, Mrs. Barlow leaned over Julia, and kissed
her on the forehead, saying as she turned to leave the room, "We have
barely time now to get ready for dinner."

Just as Julia opened her door to go down to the library where she
usually talked with her uncle for a few minutes before dinner, she saw
Brenda rushing upstairs to the floor above.

"Where's Brenda?" asked Mr. Barlow, as they took their places at the
table. There was a note of severity in his voice, that Mrs. Barlow and
Julia detected at once.

"Why, she has been out all the afternoon," replied the former; "but I
have sent word for her to hasten downstairs."

At this moment the delinquent entered the dining-room, and took her
place at the table. Although she had changed her street dress, she had
apparently dressed in a great hurry, and her hair looked almost
disheveled, as she had evidently not had time to rearrange it.

Hardly responding to the greetings of her parents and cousin, Brenda
began to talk very rapidly about--well about the subject to which many
of us turn when we are embarrassed,--the weather.

"Yes," said her father, in a kind of general response to her very vague
remarks. "Yes, I will admit that it has been a fine day, almost the
first really springlike day that we have had, that it is a delightful
day to have been out in the open air, but all this does not prevent my
asking you why you should be so late to dinner; you know my rule, and
that I shall have to punish you in some very decided way if this happens
again."

"For once Brenda has no excuse ready," added Mrs. Barlow; "now _I_ am
anxious to know where you have been this afternoon?"

Brenda turned very red before replying, "Oh, Belle and I have been
together."

"I dare say," said Mr. Barlow, "but that does not tell us where you have
been?"

"Any one would think," cried Brenda, almost in tears, "that I was a girl
of ten years of age. I do not know any one who has to account for
everything she does; there is not a girl at school who is watched in
this way."

"Sometimes I think that it would be better if you were under closer
guardianship. Some one has been telling me that you need it."

Brenda flashed a glance at Julia as if she might be the informant, and
Julia rejoiced that she had not even mentioned having seen Brenda down
town.

"You were not at the dressmaker's this afternoon," said Mrs. Barlow
reproachfully.

"I hope that you were not on the bridge, looking at the crews," said Mr.
Barlow.

"No," said Brenda quickly, "I was not. Why did you think of that?"

"Because some one has been telling me that a number of foolish girls are
in the habit of going where the Harvard Bridge is building on fine
afternoons, just as the class crews are out exercising, and that some of
these girls always wave their handkerchiefs, and even cheer, as their
favorites come near--and more than this some one has told me that you
are often to be seen among these girls; now, Brenda, I tell you frankly
that this won't do."

"Oh, papa, you are so particular; a great many girls think that it is
perfectly proper to go there, and no one ever says a word about it. I
wonder who told you; some old maid, I am certain of that."

"No, indeed, no old maid, but a young man, and a student, too. He felt
very sorry that you should be seen there; he says that there is always a
great mixture of people in the crowds on the bridge, and that it must be
far from an agreeable place for a young lady, besides not being a proper
one."

"Well I only wish that I could tell who that young man is," cried
Brenda. "I should call him a perfect goose."

"He is far from that," responded Mr. Barlow; "and I ought to say that I
agree with him thoroughly. I only wish that I had heard about this
before, and now I hope that you will understand, Brenda, that you are
forbidden to go near the Harvard Bridge in the afternoon."

"Not to the bridge at all!" cried Brenda, in a most doleful voice. "Why,
I can't see the harm."

"Well, I can, and that is enough."

"You can go to the races themselves, Brenda, when they actually come
off," interposed Mrs. Barlow, "but if you think it over, you will see
good reasons for not hanging about the bridge, as a boy might, merely to
see the crews pass."

Brenda made no attempt at further argument, and one result of the little
discussion that there had been about the bridge and the crews was to
divert her father and mother from asking further questions about the way
in which she had spent this particular afternoon. She was rather
relieved when the evening passed without Julia's referring to having
seen her down town. She was almost sure that Julia and Miss South had
recognized her, and Belle and she were in dread lest in this way her
father and mother should learn that she and her rather mischievous
friend had gone alone to a matinee.

For this was now Brenda's secret,--she had not only gone down town
alone, but she had gone to the Music Hall without an older person
accompanying her. With parents as indulgent as hers there seemed no need
for her to try to secure forbidden pleasures. Nor would she probably
have done this but for Belle. It had been the study of Belle's life to
get what she wished in a clandestine way. Her stern old grandmother was
constantly forbidding her to do this thing or that, and her commands
were often really unreasonable. No one was quicker to detect this than
Belle herself, and it was on this ground that she often excused her own
disobedience. "Why even mamma does not expect me to mind everything that
grandmamma says," and as her mother was rather timid, as well as
half-ill all the time, she gave her self-possessed daughter very few
commands of her own.

"I don't believe that I should be so ready to disobey mamma," Belle
would say to Brenda when the latter on occasions remonstrated with her,
"but with grandmamma it is different, for I do not consider that she has
any right to lay down the law as she does."

Nevertheless when Brenda and Belle sat in the front row in the large
Music Hall--for Brenda had bought expensive seats--both girls felt that
old Mrs. Gregg was pretty nearly right in saying that places of
amusement were not proper for a young girl. They had both been at
similar performances before, but always some older person had selected
the entertainment. This one, which they themselves had chosen from the
glaring posters decorating the bill-boards of the city, and from the
conversation of the Harvard freshman of their acquaintance was
altogether different from anything that they had seen. It was advertised
as an exhibition of ventriloquists, but it had a general air of
vulgarity that was extremely displeasing to them. Brenda wished more
than once that she had not joined Belle in this adventure. She did not
like the loud jokes, and the scant costumes of the performers, and she
hoped that there was no one in the audience who would recognize her. Of
course there were times when she laughed at the funny things on the
stage--for who could help it--but many of the jokes and the incidents at
which the rest of the audience laughed the loudest fell rather flat on
the ears of the two young girls. This was as it should be, for neither
of the two was anything worse than heedless and a little too fond of
having her own way. In Belle this wilfulness took the form of a
willingness to use subterfuge, both in word or deed to gain her own way.
Brenda did not follow her very closely in this direction, although there
was danger that her conscience would be dulled, before she realized it,
under Belle's influence. Brenda indeed felt so uncomfortable during the
performance, that if she could have done so without observation, she
would have left the hall. But she did not quite dare to go out in the
face of the great audience, and besides when she made the suggestion to
Belle, the latter would not hear of her going. "No, indeed," she had
said, "why should we go. You are a regular baby, Brenda; it isn't so
very bad, only a little vulgar, and just see what crowds of people there
are here, and some of them seem just as good as we are, and you know I
read you that newspaper clipping that said that this was one of the
successes of the year. You and I are not used to this kind of thing, but
dear me! we can't expect to stay children all our lives." So Brenda sat
there with an uneasy conscience, wondering what her mother would say, or
her father--or Julia who never by any chance did anything that she ought
not to do.

Stolen sweets are apt to taste a little bitter, and when the performance
was over, Brenda and Belle went out with the crowd. On the way out rough
people, or people whom Belle called "rough," pushed against them, while
one or two rude boys made saucy remarks to the young girls who seemed
conscious of being in the wrong place. It wasn't at all an agreeable
experience, especially as they were both wondering if any of their
friends were likely to see them.

Then there was that chance glimpse of Julia and Miss South, and the
rather silly action on the part of Brenda and Belle of hiding in the
doorway. Really they needed all the consolation they could get from
their visit to the confectioner's around the corner. There they drank
great glasses of chocolate, sipping the whipped cream at the top, as if
they were young ladies of twenty loitering in the shops after the
symphony. As they stirred the chocolate with their long spoons, and
lingered on the settee at the end of the shop to watch the lively young
men and women who were constantly coming in and out to buy bonbons, or
to get refreshment, they forgot all that had been disagreeable at the
music hall, and for the time being imagined that they were young ladies
themselves. Yet when Brenda reached home with hardly time to dress for
dinner, conscience began to prick again.



XXIII

ALMOST READY


Now however slowly time appears to pass, the end of any period of
waiting is sure to come, and its last days or hours generally seem to
melt away. Thus, when The Four realized that less than two weeks lay
between a certain April afternoon when they met to sew, and the day
appointed for the opening of the Bazaar, they began to feel a little
nervous. "I wish that we hadn't set any particular day," exclaimed
Brenda, "we might just have waited until we were all ready, and then
we----"

"Oh, Brenda, how unpractical you are," cried Edith, "that would have
been perfectly ridiculous. You know that we have to advertise a little,
and engage music and people to help us, and make all kinds of
arrangements."

"Oh, I dare say," responded the unpractical Brenda, "but still it takes
all the fun out of it to think that we must be ready by a particular
day; I feel exactly as if some one were driving me on, and you know that
is not pleasant."

"Oh, nonsense," interposed Nora, with a smile. "Just think how long we
were working without any special object. I am sure that we had all the
time we wished, and we had hardly a thing to show for it. For my own
part I shall be awfully glad to have the Bazaar over with. The weather
is altogether too fine to waste indoors on fancy work, but until we have
that money for Manuel I suppose that none of us will feel free to do as
she likes in the afternoons. There are so many things to attend to that
I don't see how we are ever to get ready even in two weeks."

Now the plans for the Bazaar had received much attention from the older
persons in the families of the young workers, and the encouragement that
they had had from their elders was now their chief incentive. Edith's
mother had offered them the use of a large drawing-room in her house
which was just adapted to an affair of this kind. It was a long room
with hard wood floor, intended really for dancing. Its walls, paneled
with mirrors, would reflect the tables of fancy work in such a way, as
to make it seem "as if we had twice as much as we really have," said
Brenda. As to other things there was a great deal to be decided. Brenda
and Belle wished a small orchestra engaged to play during the evening of
the Bazaar, and furnish music for dancing at the close of the sale.
Edith and Nora were afraid that this would eat up too much of their
profits, but Brenda was very decided in her views. "You can't expect
that we are not to have any fun out of it ourselves, after all the
trouble we've had, and I know that there is going to be plenty of money
for the Rosas. We shall make lots out of the flower table; we have
quantities of plants and cut flowers promised us from the greenhouses of
our friends--just quantities, and then the refreshment table, and--well
you know yourselves that we shall have more than we can sell."

"What good will that do?" enquired the practical Nora. "We can't make
much out of things that we can't sell."

"Oh, I mean sell in the regular way; of course we'll have an auction,
and get ever so much in that way. I shouldn't wonder if we should have
more than $500 to give to Mrs. Rosa."

"Don't count your chickens too soon, Brenda," said Belle; "suppose it
should rain on the day of the sale, or suppose,----"

"Oh, how tiresome you are!" cried the sanguine Brenda, "you are just as
bad as the others, and it's quite as much your Bazaar as mine, and if it
doesn't succeed, you'll be just as much to blame."

The fretful note in Brenda's voice warned her friends that she was
taking things too deeply to heart.

"Why, Brenda, no one is probably going to be to blame, for the Bazaar
will be a great success," interposed the peace-loving Edith. "All we
have to do now is to try our very best to make it go off as well as
possible."

Now the Bazaar was to be the Wednesday of the week following Easter, and
this year Easter fell almost in the middle of April. During the last
days of school preceding the Easter vacation the four did much
canvassing among their friends to see whether all the articles promised
were finished. Of course there were several disappointments. Some girls
who had promised special things either had not finished them or had
forgotten all about them. On the other hand, there were some who had not
only done much more than they had promised themselves, but had collected
many pretty, and even valuable articles from their friends. All the
school girls near the age of the four were invited to assist at the
tables. The four resolved themselves into an executive committee, adding
to their number Julia, and Frances and one or two others. Each of these
girls was to have special charge of a table or department, and she in
turn was to call on others to assist her.

Julia had invited Ruth Roberts as her chief assistant, rather to the
distaste of Frances, who thought that this was going too far out of
their set.

"What do we know about Ruth Roberts?" she had said in a contemptuous
way; "nobody ever heard of her, I am sure, until she came here to
school."

"We have nothing to do with that," replied Nora, to whom the remark
happened to be made. "I dare say that there are a great many good people
in the world of whom we have never heard; I know all that I need to
about Ruth Roberts, that she has good manners and a pleasant
disposition, and an agreeable family. I know, for I have visited
them----" Then, throwing a little emphasis into her voice, she
concluded, "Really, Frances, you are growing very tiresome, and if I
were you I should try to be less narrow-minded. Any one to hear you
talk, would think that no one in the world is worth considering who does
not happen to live in certain streets in your neighborhood."

"Perhaps that is what I do think," answered Frances. "We can't make
intimate friends of every one in the world, and we might as well have
nothing to do with those who are not in our own set. I hate these people
who are always trying to push in."

"If you mean Ruth, you are entirely wrong. She is the last girl in the
world likely to try to push in. She thinks quite as well of herself as
you do of yourself, and I dare say that she had some ancestors, even if
they were not governors of Massachusetts."

Now despite the fact that this speech, when quoted, sounds rather
acrimonious, Frances took no offence at it. She could not afford to
quarrel with so popular a girl as Nora, and besides she knew that the
Gostars had a good claim to the same kind of pride of descent that she
had herself. So, although both girls turned away from each other with an
annoyed expression on their faces, their next meeting was perfectly
amicable.

When Nora repeated this conversation to her mother, Mrs. Gostar smiled.

"If I were you, Nora, I would not take anything that Frances says too
seriously. She has been brought up rather unfortunately."

"But it is so tiresome to have her going around most of the time with
her head in the air, saying, 'Oh, I cannot do this, or I cannot do that,
because I am a Pounder.'"

Mrs. Gostar laughed at this speech, and the gesture and tossing back of
the head with which Nora emphasized it.

"Frances hardly says that, does she?" she enquired.

"Yes, she does, she really does--sometimes," replied Nora, "and I am
sure that she feels like saying it all the time. Of course we all know
that there have been two governors, and one or two generals, and other
people like that in her family somewhere in the dim past. I am sure that
we have heard enough about it. But there is nothing very great about
Frances' own family so far as I have ever heard, and some one told me
that her father could not even get his degree at college. If they hadn't
so much money----"

"There, there," interrupted her mother, "aren't you growing uncharitable
yourself? It is really true that Frances had ancestors who were of great
service to the country, and her family has had position for a long time,
and all the advantages of education. But among your schoolmates and hers
there are probably other girls of good descent, who have had advantages
hardly inferior to those that Frances has enjoyed. They may have names
that are not so well known, and yet their ancestors may have been almost
as useful in building up this country as those of Frances."

"Well," said Nora, "I don't value people for their ancestors, but for
what they are themselves."

"That is the right spirit, and yet neither you nor I should blame
Frances for having pride in what her ancestors have done. It is well to
remember such things, if remembering them makes one more ambitious or
more helpful to those around him. But when this pride in his own people
leads one to belittle all others whose part in making history may have
been almost as important, if less conspicuous--then I would rather see a
girl or a boy without family pride. In connection with this, let me tell
you a story. Years ago a murder was committed by a member of a good, old
family, and sometime afterwards a lady who bore the same name, though
she was not closely related to the murderer, was out shopping. It seemed
to her a certain clerk was not sufficiently deferential, and so to
reprove him, she said, in a rather haughty tone, 'Perhaps you do not
know who I am.' 'No, madame, I do not,' was his reply. 'I am a
_Blenkinsop_,' she responded, thinking probably that this would
overwhelm him. 'Indeed,' he answered, 'you surprise me. I thought that
all the Blenkinsops had been hanged.' So you see that it does not always
do to boast of one's family name. Of course this does not apply to
Frances, and I should be sorry if either she or you should forget all
the good things which her ancestors did for the commonwealth. Yet it
would be a great deal better to forget it than to have the remembrance
of the distinction of your ancestors so elate you as to make you
contemptuous of your schoolmates."

"I know that, mother dear," replied Nora, "and I believe that some day I
may be able to have a little talk with Frances, and perhaps I can get
her to see things as I do."

"You might tell her," responded Mrs. Gostar, with a smile, "about the
Virginia lady of whom I was reading the other day. Her little niece was
remarking with pride that her grandfather had been the son of a baronet,
and that in consequence she had a right to feel superior to many of her
neighbors. 'Yes,' responded the aunt, 'he was the son of a baronet, who
was the son of a manufacturer, who was the son of an apothecary's
apprentice.' 'Oh, dear,' sighed the niece, 'is it really true? Am I
descended from an apothecary's apprentice? I thought that all my
ancestors were gentlemen.'

"'I haven't finished,' returned the aunt. 'The apprentice was the
grandson of a baronet, who in turn was said to trace his descent from a
king of England.' The aunt smiled at the expression of relief on her
niece's face on hearing this, as she said, 'I always knew that we were
of good family.' My own moral," concluded Mrs. Gostar, "would be the
same as that which the aunt tried to impress on her niece. We all can
trace our descent through a variety of families, and while we can often
find ancestors to boast of, as often we find others who are what Frances
might call 'very plain people.'"

Nora realized that she was fortunate in having a mother who was always
ready to advise her in the small matters that seem so important to
schoolgirls, as well as in those larger things that really are of
consequence. Without encouraging anything approaching gossip or
tale-bearing Mrs. Gostar always permitted Nora to talk very freely on
all the subjects that interested her, and the confidence between mother
and daughter was almost ideal. Mrs. Blair and Mrs. Barlow were also
ready to advise their daughters, although they both were a little more
occupied with society than Mrs. Gostar and had less time at home. The
wilful Brenda, too, was more apt to seek her mother's advice after she
had done a certain thing than to ask it in advance. Yet although her
doings were sometimes a little annoying to others, she always admitted
to herself that she could depend on her mother's sympathy. Edith, with a
rather phlegmatic disposition, seldom did anything wrong. She had been
brought up rather strictly in accordance with prescribed rules, and she
was always confident that whatever her mother had arranged or advised
was exactly right. Belle alone, of the Four, was unfortunate in her home
surroundings. Her mother, a nervous invalid, had permitted Belle's
grandmother to rule the household with a rod of iron, and knowing that
the old lady was often unjust the former did not reprove Belle
sufficiently when she broke some of her grandmother's rules. Belle in
this way came to be a law to herself. She obeyed her grandmother when
there was no escape for it, but oftener she took the chance of
disregarding her authority, saying to herself,--or even to others--"If
mamma could do as she liked, she would let me do this." It was not
always a legitimate excuse, although the conditions in her family
enabled many of her acquaintances to make excuses for Belle.

As to Frances, those who knew her best, realized that her family pride
had been nurtured at home, and that her unfortunate way of looking at
things was not wholly her own fault.

Yet that Nora had been able to influence her somewhat was proved by a
slight change in Frances' demeanor towards others. The latter was even
known one day to offer to go out to Ruth Roberts' house to help her
finish a piece of work for the Bazaar. In those last days, too, before
the Easter vacation there seemed to be an unusual unity among the
schoolgirls. Even those in the older classes, who seldom interested
themselves in the "small fry," as they called the Four and their
contemporaries, came forward with many contributions for the Bazaar.

"Dear me!" moaned Brenda one day, "I am afraid that we won't have people
enough to sell all these things to, and a while ago I was afraid that we
shouldn't have things enough to sell to all those who might come to our
Bazaar."

"That shows," said Miss South, who had come up behind Brenda while she
was talking, "that it is never worth while to borrow trouble about
anything."

"That is true," interposed the placid Edith, to whom Brenda had been
talking. "For my own part, I am never surprised or disappointed about
anything, for I never expect too much beforehand. I find that I can
always put up with things when they come."

"Then you are really a philosopher, Edith," said Miss South, "some
persons take almost a lifetime to learn this simple lesson, and indeed
some persons never learn it at all."

As the preparations for the Bazaar advanced it was very pleasant for
Julia to find herself counted in among the band of workers.

It is true that she often had to take a sharp word from Brenda, or a
cold glance from Belle, but these things did not disturb her.

She had become accustomed to her cousin's little ways, and she realized
that her "bark was worse than her bite," as Nora was in the habit of
saying.

There was one thing about which Brenda was very decided, and that was
that no older person, that is no parent or teacher, was to have any part
in managing the Bazaar.

"We want all the credit ourselves, and I think it will be a fine thing
to show how much we can do all by ourselves." If she could have had her
own way, I believe that she would have refused the offer of Edith's
mother to provide a room for the Bazaar, and she would have been quite
willing to pay for a hotel drawing-room from her own allowance--although
to do so would have run her several months in debt. But this was
evidently so unwise a plan, that she contented herself with simply
broaching it to her friends. "The idea!" had been their criticism, "of
throwing money away like that when we can have such a beautiful room for
nothing."

"It certainly would be foolish," said Belle, "and besides my mother
would not think a hotel a proper place for girls like us to hold a
bazaar; it would be different if we were in society, or if some older
women were managing it."

"Oh, I suppose you are right," Brenda acknowledged with a sigh, "but I
should be ever so much better pleased with a hotel. It would seem so
much more as if we were grown up. I hope that this won't seem like a
children's party. You know that Edith always had her birthday parties in
that room."

"Yes, but she'll have her coming out party, there, too, I heard her
mother say so the other day, and really I think that it is very, very
kind in her to offer the room, because there will be strangers coming
and going all day long through the house." So Brenda had to profess
herself grateful for the room, and was obliged to turn in other
directions for an outlet for the energy which she was anxious to show in
managing the Bazaar.



XXIV

AN EVENING'S FUN


Mrs. Blair had said that all the preparations for the Bazaar must be
completed on Tuesday, the day before it was to open. She knew the ways
of girls too well to think that it would be safe to have anything left
for Wednesday morning. The flower table, of course had to be arranged on
that day, and some things for the refreshment table. But so definite had
she been in expressing her wishes, that the girls felt that it was due
her for lending her house to pay all deference to what she said. On the
Monday therefore after Easter they went to work with a will to gather in
the promised contributions. There were naturally some disappointments,
but on the whole the fancy articles bestowed upon them were numerous and
beautiful, and many were the "ohs and ahs" from the Four and their
assistants, when on Tuesday they fell to the task of opening the parcels
and arranging their contents on the tables. Tuesday was rainy, and at
dusk gave little promise of a bright sky for the following day. Brenda
was in a tremor of excitement. "Oh, dear, how dreadful if to-morrow
should be stormy! I am sure it will be, and what _shall_ we do?" with
great emphasis on the "shall."

"Full many a cloudy morning turns out a sunny day," sang Nora, while
Edith patted Brenda on the back and said, "Well, we can't do anything to
change the weather, and we might as well hope for the best. I know that
a lot of people will come even if it rains, and perhaps they'll be good
and buy three times as much as they would in fine weather."

Just then Julia came in with the evening paper in her hand. "See, or
rather hear the news. Old Probability says, 'clear and fair Wednesday.'
Mrs. Blair sent this paper up from the library to cheer you. There was a
large patch of blue in the west when the sun went down----"

"The sun!" exclaimed the others derisively.

"In the place where the sun should have gone down," she responded with a
smile. "Why, how well the rooms look! there won't be a thing for the
boys to do this evening."

For Philip and Will Hardon and one or two others were to come in the
evening to see what they could do to help, and in view of their coming
Mrs. Blair had invited the girls to stay to dinner.

"Oh, no, there really isn't a thing for them to do, but perhaps when
they see how hard we have worked they will make up their minds to spend
any amount of money to-morrow. I think it's a rather good idea to have
them come to-night, so that they can make a lot of other boys come
to-morrow."

"Boys are not so fond of spending money at fairs, I can tell you that,"
said Nora, rather decidedly, "and besides most of them are so much in
debt that they haven't anything to spend."

"Oh, well, Philip's friends are not like that," said Belle, rather
sharply. "I know several who have more money than they know what to do
with. Some juniors that I know--New York fellows, are coming to-morrow
and they will spend a lot of money."

"Gracious!" exclaimed Brenda, "I hope that we have things that will suit
them. It seems to me that most of these things are for girls to use."

"Oh, they can buy things for their sisters and cousins; besides, boys
like pincushions and picture frames and sofa pillows. Oh, I am sure that
we shall have no trouble getting them to buy all that they can afford,"
replied Belle positively.

As a matter of fact when the boys after dinner were ushered into the
pretty little ballroom, where the tables laden with fancy goods stood,
they expressed great interest in all that they saw, and began to make
bids for the things which seemed to them best worth having.

"Look out," cried Nora, "or we may take you at your word, Will Hardon,
and make you pay one hundred dollars for that crimson pillow that you
admire so."

"Well, why not?" he enquired, "as long as it is to be in a good cause."

"Oh, no," interrupted the practical Edith, "that would not really be
fair. Besides, I am sure that we ought not to sell anything until
to-morrow; everybody ought to have an equal chance at the beginning."

"Oh, how silly you are, Edith," broke in Brenda; "as if all the people
who come to the Bazaar could be here at the same minute. If any one
wants to bid on anything to-night I say that it is perfectly fair."
After much discussion, it was at last decided that any one who had a
great preference for any special thing might write his name on a piece
of paper and have it pinned to the object with the limit of price that
he was willing to pay.

"Then you must be willing," said Brenda, "to let us sell the things you
have chosen, if some fussy old person comes along and wishes any of
these reserved things, and refuses to be contented with anything else."

"But in that case what are _we_ to do?" cried two or three of the boys
in chorus.

"Oh, there will be plenty of things that will suit you just as well, if
you only make up your minds to it."

"Perhaps you'll want me to buy a blue sofa pillow or some other Yale
thing," sighed Will Hardon.

"Perhaps I shall be driven to take this," moaned Philip, holding up a
large doll dressed in the long embroidered robes of a baby.

All the girls laughed except Edith, who seldom saw the funny side of
things as quickly as the others.

"Well, you can see yourselves, boys," she said, in a determined tone,
"that you ought to be glad to buy whatever is left over,--for you
probably won't get in until toward evening. You can always find some one
to give the things to that you buy."

"This doll?" asked Philip, holding it rather clumsily on his arm.

"Why, of course," said Edith, "we know several children who would be
delighted with it at Christmas."

"No, thank you, sister Edith," responded Philip, "I'm not going to spend
my hard earned allowance in presents for children; if you make me buy
this doll, out it goes to a certain room in one of the college buildings
to become a cherished decoration, and," waving the doll dramatically in
the air, "I shall defy any proctor or college authority to tear it away
from me."

"Then I hope he may get it," murmured Will Hardon to Ruth Roberts; "I
can't imagine anything that would amuse the fellows more; we'd have to
hold open house for a week or two--a regular reception. But you know I'm
in earnest about that pillow," he added, for he knew, and Ruth knew that
he knew that the down pillow with its rich crimson cover embroidered
with a large "H." was the work of her skilful fingers.

Ruth and Will had met several times since the ball game, and although
the Four had not yet discovered it, these two young persons had begun to
take considerable interest in each other.

"You wouldn't pay a hundred dollars for it?" queried Ruth.

"If I couldn't get it in any other way, of course I would, and besides
it would be worth much more to me."

This was not entirely an idle boast, this readiness to spend a large sum
of money for a small thing--on the part of Will, as Philip and some of
his classmates might have testified. Although very quiet in his way of
living, and in his general conversation, he had a larger income than
many in his set. His own tastes were simple, and though he naturally
spent more than the average undergraduate, in accordance with the habit
of the set to which he belonged, he still had enough to spend on others,
and more than one of his less fortunate classmates had reason to thank
him for what he had done for him. No one knew of his liberality except
those whom he helped, for he had not the least wish to pose as a
benefactor.

Now Ruth, while pleased at his wish for the cushion had no idea that he
would, if necessary, pay a hundred dollars for it.

"If you really wish to have it, I'll try to secure it for you," she
said. "I am sure there won't be any trouble, although I suppose that it
can't be laid aside to-night, as long as Edith feels as she does."

"Very well," answered Will, "I'll trust to you, for I really do want it
very much."

"Come," cried Brenda, rushing up to them, "you are not doing a thing,
you two."

"Well, the rest of you seemed so busy that we thought we should only be
in the way," said Will with the glibness that is almost second nature
with youths of his age, "but we're ready to work now," and they went
across the room to the surprise table where half a dozen of their
friends were busy. The "surprise table" had been an idea of Belle's, and
was a rather agreeable change from the usual grab-bag. All kinds of
little things--toys, novelties, like those used as German favors, small
books and photographs, were neatly done up in bright tissue paper
wrappings, and tied with silk ribbons. They were heaped on a large
table, and purchasers were permitted to buy each little package at their
own price, provided at least, according to a sign placed above the
table, that no bid should be for less than fifteen cents. Nora was to
have charge of this table, and she expected to have a great deal of fun
out of the misfits between the purchasers and the parcels.

Altogether the preparations for the Bazaar had moved along much more
smoothly than any one had expected. It is true that the various mothers
of the girls comprising "The Four" had said that they would be glad
enough when it was all over, because for a fortnight it had been
impossible to get the girls to think of anything else. Yet each of these
mothers saw a compensation for the excitement of this last week or two
in the fact that her daughter had shown more perseverance than she had
given her credit for. Mrs. Barlow was especially pleased with the good
spirit that her niece Julia had shown, for it would have been so easy
and natural for her at the last to display a little pettishness in the
way of a refusal to have anything to do with the Bazaar in view of the
fact that she had not been invited to join "The Four" at their weekly
meetings for work.

But Julia was not one to show this kind of resentment, and since she had
become interested in Manuel she was only too glad to help the Bazaar
that was to benefit him. At her aunt's suggestion she had made it her
special duty to collect flowers and plants for the flower table, and
armed with notes of introduction from Mrs. Barlow she had gone to many a
supposedly close person to ask for some small contribution to the flower
table. Her success had been altogether remarkable, and in addition to
the cut flowers that were to arrive on Wednesday, a great many beautiful
potted plants and vines had been sent in from various conservatories for
general decorations.

The only real work for the boys who had come to assist, consisted in
moving some of these heavy plants about to places between the mirrors,
or near the flower table where they would be most effective. The work
did not, of course, proceed very rapidly, for every one in the group of
fifteen or more had to give an opinion on everything, and a unanimous
opinion as to what looked best in any particular case was naturally
impossible.

The large room was so handsome as to require comparatively little
decoration. The long mirrors with which every side was paneled formed a
complete decoration in themselves, and added to the general
effectiveness, as Brenda said by making the tables "look double."

Now if the boys did not find a great deal of work to do they were very
outspoken in their admiration for all that had been accomplished by the
girls.

"Well, if other people will only be as much impressed as you are, and
will open their purses accordingly, we shall have nothing to complain
of," said Nora, "and I hope that you will all come back and buy
everything that is left over by to-morrow evening."

"Can't we have first choice of anything?" queried Tom Hurst, a mischief
loving friend of Philip's whom some of the girls distrusted a little.

"No," answered Nora, sternly, "you must not be so selfish. There may be
old ladies who will want----"

"Do you suppose that any old lady will want that tobacco pouch?" asked
Tom, with a most innocent expression on his face.

"She might," answered Nora, with a very dignified manner. "She might if
she had a son who was fond of smoking, at any rate she ought to have
first choice."

"Well, then," replied Tom, "I don't believe that I shall return, for I
am not sure that I ought to patronize an institution that encourages old
ladies to buy tobacco pouches."

"They're more harmless for old ladies than for Harvard undergraduates,"
said another of the girls seriously, whereat two or three of the boys
pulled cigarette cases out of their pockets, and said, "Wouldn't you
rather have us use tobacco pouches than smoke these unwholesome
cigarettes?"

"You shouldn't use tobacco at all," cried Edith in a plaintive tone, "at
your age, Philip, you know how mamma feels about it."

"Don't be a goose, Edith," retorted Philip, "unless you want us to stay
away to-morrow. Anyway it's time we started for Cambridge, we're not
used to late hours." At this the rest of the boys laughed rather more
loudly than the occasion seemed to warrant, but with a return of good
manners they bade the girls good-bye, and promised Mrs. Blair, who had
returned to the room that they would certainly drop in some time on
Wednesday.

"Don't forget your promise to me," said Will Hardon in an undertone as
he shook hands with Ruth, and Ruth promised not to forget. Ruth and one
other girl were to spend the night with Julia and Brenda, so as to be
ready early in the morning, and the rest of the assistants started off
in a large group attended by one of Mrs. Blair's servants, for none of
them had very far to walk.

"It certainly does look as if it might clear up," said Belle to Nora, as
they walked along.

"Yes, indeed," answered Nora, "there are as many as twenty stars to be
seen, and that is almost a sure sign. Some people believe that it will
be fine the next day if you can count nine stars the night before."



XXV

THE BAZAAR


The sun, after all, did shine on Wednesday morning, and The Four and
their assistants arrived bright and early at Mrs. Blair's.

By ten o'clock everything was in order for patrons, and really the
arrangement of the tables reflected great credit on the young girls. The
table of fancy handiwork was loaded with beautiful articles. There was
Nora's afghan with its rich, warm stripes, there was Belle's fine
embroidery,--centre piece, doilies, and other dainty bits chiefly for
the dining-room. I cannot truly say that Brenda, though giving
liberally, had contributed very much that was made by her own hands, and
I have an idea that if the bottom drawer of her bureau had been
examined, it would have been found to contain the majority of the
unfinished things over which at one time or another she had been so
enthusiastic. Not even her zeal for the Bazaar had enabled her to
disentangle that confusion of odds and ends.

Some of the older girls at school had contributed beautiful things. One
had copied an old French miniature and had had it framed in gilt.
Another had painted a set of tiny chocolate cups. There were some
exquisite picture frames covered in old brocade brought over from Europe
by another girl, and still a third had sent some wood carvings done in a
peculiar style which she had learned at Venice. An uncle of Edith's who
was a publisher, had sent a number of finely bound books. Then there
were many smaller and less expensive things, so that it seemed as if
every taste must be suited.

"Oh, how lovely," exclaimed Ruth as she stood for a moment beside the
flower table which Edith, Julia and Ruth had spent an hour or more in
decorating.

"Where did you get those beautiful orchids?" asked Edith.

"Why Edith Blair," answered Julia, "I should think that you ought to
recognize your own possessions. Your mother sent these in from your
greenhouse in Brookline."

Edith laughed good-humoredly. "I thought that they had a kind of
familiar look, but then other people have orchids, too."

"Well other people _have_ been generous, as well as your mother. I have
quantities of violets besides these on the tables, and the most
beautiful roses, and see this dozen of maiden hair fern in little pots.
Almost every plant has been engaged by some of the girls at the tables.
They are to be left with me until evening."

"What will you do with things that are left over?"

"Oh, I have been told to do with them as I like, and probably they will
be sent to the Children's Hospital. Shouldn't you think that a good
idea, Edith?"

"Oh, yes, the very best in the world; it would be fun to go up on the
same day and see what the children say to them."

"Yes, provided we really do have anything left over. Of course it would
be better if we could sell everything in the room."

"Yes, of course, when you can leave do come over to my table for a
minute; I want to ask your opinion about arranging something. It's
awfully hard to combine the colors, and in some way Frances and I never
agree exactly about things, though I try to see things as she does," and
Edith walked off, sighing a little over her weight of responsibility,
for she had complete charge of the fancy-work table with Frances Pounder
as chief assistant. Other girls from their group of friends were to
relieve them at intervals during the day, but the responsibility of
seeing that there were always two attendants at the table fell entirely
on Edith.

Belle had complete charge of the refreshment room, which was a small
room off the dancing hall where the other tables were set. Brenda and
she had chosen this department, but the latter had declined any
responsibility. "I wish to be free to move anywhere; I just hate having
to stay in one spot, so ask as many others as you wish, Belle." Thus
Belle had surrounded herself with half a dozen of the younger girls, and
she was able to assume an air of authority over them that would have
been impossible with the girls of her own age.

There were three or four little round tables in this room beside the
larger one covered with boxes and baskets of bonbons. At the little
tables the girls were to serve ices to all who wished them.

"Dear me," fretted Belle as she and Brenda stood surveying the room.
"Dear me! I wish that we had a larger room. This is going to be awfully
crowded if we have many people, and there will surely be a crowd before
evening. I don't see what we shall do."

"Can't they take turns?" asked one of the younger girls, who happened to
be standing near. "We could not have more than a dozen at a time, I
should think."

"Oh, you don't know anything about it, Annie Bell," exclaimed Belle in a
tone that brought tears to the eyes of the younger girl. "Of course I
don't expect that every one who comes to the Bazaar will rush in here
the first thing, but we ought to have had a larger room. I'm almost
sorry that I said that I would take charge of this part of the Bazaar.
It's going to be a great deal more fun outside."

"Ah, well!" replied Brenda, consolingly, "you won't have to stay in here
all the time, the girls can look after things, and besides I am not
going to be away all the time."

"Oh, no," said Belle, "if I undertake a thing I always calculate to
carry it through. Some one has to be here at the money table all the
time, or else things will get dreadfully mixed up."

"Well, I'm sorry that you feel so," said Brenda. "But as long as there
is no one here now I will go off for a while and see how Nora is getting
on at the surprise table."

As Brenda went off, Belle sat down at the little table which answered
for cashier's desk. She had already taken in two dollars for bonbons,
although as yet the Bazaar had had but a few patrons. Toward noon about
forty altogether had visited the Bazaar. Among these were several
elderly ladies and gentlemen, and a number of nurses with children who
patronized chiefly the surprise table and the refreshment room, and
Belle had her hands full making change, and correcting the errors of her
young assistants with whom arithmetic was evidently not a strong point.

At about one o'clock the attendants at the Bazaar began to go down to
the dining-room where Mrs. Blair had had a luncheon spread for them.

"How's business?" asked Belle of Nora, as they sat there over their
salad and cocoa.

"Oh, fine," replied the latter, expressively, if inelegantly. "I've
taken nearly twenty dollars, and the table looks as if hardly a thing
had been touched. Julia and Ruth have done a great deal better, of
course, and I wouldn't dare say how much Edith and Frances have made.
They sold that set of chocolate cups for twenty dollars to old Mrs.
Bean."

"That was more than they were worth," interrupted Belle.

"Oh, I don't know, they _were_ LOVELY, there was ever so much work on
them."

"Well, I suppose at a Bazaar, a thing is worth what any one is willing
to pay for it, but still, even if I could afford it, I would not pay
twenty dollars for those cups. I didn't like the shape."

"You're too fussy, Belle, about little things; I've heard ever so many
other persons admiring those cups, and Mrs. Bean thought that they were
beautiful."

"Well, what else have they sold?"

"I can hardly tell, I've been so busy myself, but the table begins to
look just a little bare, at least in spots, and I know that even Frances
thinks that they have done very well. You know it's a great deal for her
to be contented with anything."

"Well, I wish I could get some one to change with me this afternoon, I'm
awfully tired of that little refreshment room. It will be more fun in
the evening, but----"

"You ought to make Brenda take charge for an hour or two."

"Who in the world could ever make Brenda do anything?"

"I know she's a kind of a will-o'-the-wisp, and she feels as if she were
managing everything and everybody here, but then that does not hurt us
and it pleases her."

Here Belle remembered that it was always her custom to stand up for
Brenda, and in the fashion which is always rather annoying to the person
who has not intended any offence, she said, "Why of course we all
understand Brenda, and for my part I think that she is exactly right. Of
course, she was the one who planned this whole thing, and except for her
no one would have tried to do a thing for the Rosas."

Nora did not think it worth while to reply that she had not been the one
to make any criticism of Brenda. Instead she contented herself with
saying, mischievously, "Well, you know that it was I who discovered
Manuel, and if we had not had an object we should not have had a
Bazaar." Belle had nothing to say to this, and indeed there was no
chance, for two or three of the younger girls came down with a rush,
thus reminding Nora and Belle that they ought to go upstairs again to
their duties.

By the middle of the afternoon the Bazaar was a scene of the greatest
activity, every one was there, young and old, and the fancy-work table
had really begun to look bare. One of Nora's brothers had to be sent
down town for a fresh supply of novelties for the surprise table, as not
only the children but their parents found great amusement in opening
those bright-colored packages. Belle and some of the older girls
regretted that there was nothing to raffle.

"Don't you honestly think that it is much more exciting to get a thing
in that way than to buy it just as you would in a shop?" asked Edith,
who had been influenced by Belle to try to coax Mrs. Blair to change her
opinion in the matter of raffles. But Mrs. Blair was firm, and she gave
her reasons so clearly that not only her daughter, but all the others
interested in the Bazaar, except Belle, seemed convinced.

"I haven't said," she had been careful in explaining, "that raffles are
wrong, only very often they lead to things that are not exactly right.
It is hard to make the average person see why it is perfectly right to
buy shares in a handsome doll-house, and wrong to invest in a lottery
ticket."

"Oh, every one understands about lottery tickets."

"Well, that may be true, lotteries are against the law in this part of
the country, and yet a raffle at a bazaar or other charitable affair is
to my mind always objectionable. Some persons take their disappointment
very much to heart, and----"

"But, mamma, do you not call people very silly who take a little thing
like that to heart?"

"I may call them silly and yet I cannot justify myself in causing them
this discomfort, if a raffle should be held in my house. Without going
into all the principles involved, Edith, I am sure that you can see that
I have good reasons for feeling unwilling to have any raffles at the
Bazaar."

So Edith and the others had acquiesced, with only a slight feeling of
rebellion when one or two particularly handsome things were contributed
to the Bazaar, which seemed almost too expensive to sell to a single
purchaser.

A strong reason given by Mrs. Blair against raffles had been her
objection to having people urged to buy shares, and she had cautioned
the girls to be careful not to try to influence their friends when
looking at things on the tables to buy against their will. On the whole
did any action of this kind seem necessary, since almost every one who
attended the Bazaar came as a purchaser, and as there was only one
fancy-goods table, there was no rivalry among the sellers. Some of the
larger and more expensive things did not sell very readily, and Brenda
was in a twitter--at least that was what Nora called it--about the fate
of these things. There was one especially valuable thing, or valuable
from the point of view of The Four, a water color contributed by an
artist friend of Mrs. Barlow's. He was a well-known artist, and his work
was in demand, and down town the picture would have brought a large
price. The girls in making the price of articles for the sale, had been
uncertain what to do about this, and after long consultation with the
older persons interested, had decided on one hundred dollars.

The artist himself had acquiesced in this, for they had thought it
polite to refer the matter finally to him. Every one had prophesied that
the picture would sell at once, yet for some reason or other, by the
middle of the afternoon it was still unsold. By four o'clock it seemed
as if all Miss Crawdon's school had emptied itself into the pretty hall,
and about this time Brenda began to yield to a little temptation.

"What are you and Belle so mysterious about?" asked Nora, as she saw the
two busily talking in a corner, and evidently rather afraid of being
interrupted.

"Oh, nothing, only a little business," Brenda had replied, and then she
and Belle had resumed their conversation which seemed to partake of the
nature of calculation, with frequent references to a little notebook.
After this Nora could not help noticing that Brenda devoted her
attention to the older schoolgirls, and the college boys who in the
latter part of the afternoon had begun to arrive in considerable
numbers.

"What in the world are you doing?" she asked again and again, as Belle
darted by as if searching for some special person, or Brenda stalked up
and down studying her notebook.

Toward four o'clock there was considerable bustle at the entrance to the
room, and Mrs. Blair's waitress, who had been standing in the hall, came
forward with a message for Julia. At least she went up to the flower
booth, and after speaking to Julia the latter hurried forward to the
door where stood an old lady leaning on the arm of a tall serving man.
"Who is it?" "Isn't she fine looking?" "Oh, no, I think her rather
queer; who ever saw a turban like that?" were a few of the remarks that
flew around the room, as Julia and the old lady with her attendant
walked over toward the group of easy-chairs which Mrs. Blair had
thoughtfully provided in one corner.

"Why, it's Madame Du Launy," cried Nora, who was really the first to
recognize the occupant of the mysterious house near the school, and soon
the news spread, until there was hardly a person in the room who had not
heard it. Every one, naturally enough, was too polite to show her
curiosity, although it must be admitted that a few of the bolder
wandered nearer to the seated group than was actually necessary in order
to get a good view of the old lady, or to overhear a part of what she
and Julia had to say to each other. At Julia's request the waitress had
found Mrs. Blair, and after making the necessary introduction, Julia had
led Madame Du Launy, accompanied by Mrs. Blair, to the flower table. No
one who had ever heard Madame Du Launy called miserly, could have
believed this true while watching her progress from table to table at
the Bazaar. Though every one knew that she had her own little
conservatory, she bought plants and cut flowers with great liberality,
and while she always asked the price of each thing, she never demurred
at the stated sum.

When Madame Du Launy and her little party approached the fancy-work
table, Frances fairly bristled with importance, and displayed her goods,
as if conferring the greatest favor. In spite of this rather forbidding
manner on the part of the young saleswoman, Madame Du Launy proved a
good patron. She bought one set of Edith's doilies, as well as several
smaller things, and then her eye fell on the water color, which, to
display it the better, had been hung on the wall back of the table.

"Is that for sale?" she asked rather abruptly.

"Why, no, or rather, yes," replied Frances with a certain hesitation.

"At least it has been for sale," she added.

"Is it sold?" asked Mrs. Blair in some surprise; "a short time ago, I
understood that you had not found a purchaser."

Frances reddened a little under Mrs. Blair's rather searching glance,
and reddened still more deeply as Mrs. Blair continued, "Has any one
bought it within the last half hour?"

"Why, no," said Frances, "not exactly, although--"

During this conversation, an expression of annoyance had come over
Madame Du Launy's face. Apparently she was accustomed to having whatever
she expressed a desire to buy, and this reluctance on the part of
Frances was far from agreeable to her. It was hardly less distasteful to
Mrs. Blair.

"I should think, Frances, that as valuable a thing as this would either
be for sale, or if sold would have had a purchaser, whom you could
mention."

"I wish that Belle were here," murmured Frances rather helplessly.

"Why I thought that you and Edith had complete charge here," remarked
Mrs. Blair.

"Well, so we had, but Edith is resting now, and----"

"It is of no consequence, Mrs. Blair, there are other pictures elsewhere
that will probably suit me as well, only I imagined that the young
ladies wished to sell this one," interposed Madame Du Launy haughtily,
and holding her head rather high, she started in the direction of the
surprise table. Now just at this moment Miss South, who had been amusing
herself with some of Nora's funny little surprise packages, turned away
from this table to meet Julia who was walking a step or two behind
Madame Du Launy and Mrs. Blair. She had removed her hat, and her wavy,
brown hair, was dressed rather low on each side of her forehead,
somewhat as we have seen it in the portraits of a generation or two ago.
She smiled brightly as her eye met Julia's, and then she looked toward
Mrs. Blair and Madame Du Launy, whom evidently she had not noticed
before. For as her eye fell on the latter she gave a start of surprise.
At the same time the latter, with a gasp, leaned heavily on the arm of
her attendant, and would have fallen had he not led her quickly to a
chair.



XXVI

GREAT EXCITEMENT


For several moments all was confusion. While trying not to show an
inconsiderate curiosity, the girls behind the tables could not help
leaving their places, though they stood at a fair distance from the spot
where Julia and Miss South and two or three older women were trying to
do what they could to revive Madame Du Launy. Although she had not
actually fainted, she was certainly not herself, and for several minutes
she leaned back in her chair with her eyes half-closed. Yet although she
looked pale and almost pitiful with the lines of age clearly showing in
her face, she would not accept help from any one, not even the glass of
water which they offered her. At last, after a time that seemed longer
than it really was to those who stood by, she opened her eyes, and
without a word to those standing near, motioned to her man.

"My carriage, at once," was all she said, then motioning to him again
she took his arm, as she rose from her seat. Turning for a moment toward
Julia who had extended her hand, "Good-bye, dear," she murmured as she
started to walk with stately step across the room.

The whole thing had been so strange--Madame Du Launy's fainting-spell,
and her peculiar manner on coming to herself, that those who stood near
instead of making any comments only gazed after the old lady in
surprise. In the midst of the excitement Miss South, too, had slipped
away, and on making enquiries about her Julia was told that she had gone
home.

Yet although at the very moment of this strange occurrence no one had
had much to say, when the girls gathered in little groups aside, their
tongues swung back and forward with great energy.

"What in the world could have caused it?" was asked on every hand, and
many were the guesses and speculations as to what had caused the little
scene.

"Oh, old ladies ought not to try to go to festive places like this,"
said one of the girls glancing around the long room with its walls
paneled with mirrors, its decorations of vines, and plants, and bright
streamers.

"Especially old ladies who have hardly set foot in the house of any one
else for fifty years, more or less," added another.

"Well, even then I don't see what made her faint," said Nora, who
happened to have heard the last remark. "There wasn't anything
particularly exciting going on here."

"Oh," replied Belle, "it had something to do with Miss South. I stood
where I could see Madame Du Launy's face, and when she fainted she had
just met Miss South's eye, and didn't you notice, Miss South looked as
if she would like to faint herself!"

"How ridiculous!" said a girl who had newly joined the group, "you
always see more than any one else does, Belle."

"What if I do? I am just as often right, and you can see for yourself
that Miss South is not here now. I noticed that she hurried away as soon
as she could."

"What if she did?" cried Nora; "I do think, Belle, that you are
sometimes perfectly ridiculous. Any number of people are not here now,
who were in the room half an hour ago."

"Oh, you know what I mean, Nora; mark my words there is something queer
about the whole thing."

"How in the world, I wonder, did Madame Du Launy happen to know about
the Bazaar?" asked Frances Pounder.

"Why, Frances Pounder, where have you been?" cried Nora.

"Why, yes, Frances Pounder, where have you been?" echoed Belle. "Haven't
you heard of the tremendous intimacy that has sprung up between Julia
and Madame Du Launy since she rescued her little Fidessa from the park
police? It really is a wonderful story, and we all expect Julia to be
the old lady's heir."

"Come, come," interrupted Nora, "we can't afford to waste our time
gossiping; we should be thankful that Madame Du Launy ventured to come
here at all, for she bought any number of things, and paid good prices,
and now if we do not return to our tables, we may lose all the patronage
of the other old ladies who are wandering about."

So two by two the little crowd dispersed. Some of the girls went behind
the tables, while others hovered about, picking and choosing what they
should buy according to their purses or their taste.

But to tell all the happenings of that afternoon and evening would take
a longer time than can be spared to it now. In the evening not only the
fathers and uncles of many of the girls came upon the scene, but Philip
and his friends appeared to form a small army of purchasers. The latter
were not on the whole inclined to buy very expensive things, though they
patronized the refreshment table so steadily that Belle had to beg one
of the New York boys to become assistant cashier. They also almost swept
the flower booth clean of cut flowers and plants, to the loss of the
little patients in the children's hospital, who might otherwise have
been benefited, had any flowers been left over. Yet although I say that
they did not buy a great deal I must not be misunderstood. They did
carry off all kinds of little things that they thought would raise a
laugh in their college rooms. Philip, for example, bought a work-basket,
lined with pink and white silk, grumbling as he did so that this was the
nearest approach he could find to crimson. Besides that he paid a good
price for the doll which he had admired, and which Nora had
mischievously reserved for him by pinning to it a card bearing his name.
He also bought a small hammock of twisted ribbons, in which he said he
intended to suspend the doll in a conspicuous place over his
mantelpiece.

Tom Hurst had to buy two or three tobacco pouches, and in addition he
chose a rattle, the covering of which Nora had knitted and decorated
with bells.

    "Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw,"

quoted Nora, as he carried away his purchase, at the same time
presenting him with a wisp of straws from a broom, which she had tied
together with a piece of crimson ribbon. "To be forever cherished,"
responded Tom, as he walked off with his trophies, in a tone that made
the usually unsentimental Nora blush.

As to Will Hardon, he lost no time in going to the table over which
Frances and Edith presided to enquire for a sofa pillow which had been
reserved for him.

"Reserved!" cried Edith in a tone of surprise, for Ruth had taken her
into the secret. "I thought it was understood that nothing could be
reserved here----"

Will's face fell, for he was very much in earnest.

"Oh, now Miss Blair," he said, "you surely were not in earnest last
evening; you know that I had made up my mind to that pillow."

"Wouldn't something else do just as well?" she asked, "this centrepiece
for example, _I_ worked this," with an emphasis on the pronoun.

"Why, it's very pretty," said poor Will, "only I shouldn't know what to
do with it, but I'd like it very much, really I would," he hastened to
add, as Edith looked a little serious.

"Well, I'm sorry," she responded, "that you fix your affection on such
impossible things; now this centrepiece is also disposed of. Mrs. Barlow
has bought it, and will take it home this evening."

"Also," exclaimed Will, "you said 'also,' do you mean that the sofa
pillow is really gone?"

Edith could not help smiling at his expression of disappointment.

"Here comes Ruth," she said, "ask her;" and Ruth, with her hands full of
flowers which she was carrying across the room to Mrs. Pounder, paused
for a moment.

"Why, you look as if you were quarreling," she said to Edith, "you
and--Mr. Hardon; can't I be umpire?"

"Why, yes," replied Will, "that was just what we wish, for you are the
only one who really understands the merits of the case. You remember
that cushion?"

Ruth looked sufficiently conscious to make further reply unnecessary.

"Of course you _do_ remember it," continued Will, "and you know that you
more than half promised to save it for me. Now nobody here at this table
seems able to tell me about it, at least Miss Blair isn't, and she ought
to, if any one could, tell me just where it is."

"I am not sure," responded Edith, "that you have really put the question
to me. At any rate I am positive that I have not made any statement
about it."

"But you told me to refer to Miss Roberts, and I thought that that meant
that you knew nothing about it."

"Well, honestly, I can't tell you about the cushion," said Ruth; "if any
one offered more than one hundred dollars, which I think was your limit,
I suppose that it has been sold."

"You think that I did not mean what I said," cried Will.

"Oh, no, indeed, but if any one offered more----"

All this time Edith had been standing with one hand behind her back, and
at the last minute she raised her arm, and disclosed the cushion, which
a minute before she had brought from its hiding-place beneath the table.

"There, that is mine," exclaimed the young man, "let me have it."

"Well, I declare!" cried Edith, as in surprise, "this card really does
bear your name, and so I suppose that I must give you the cushion."

Will leaned forward eagerly. "Yes, it is mine, but," as he glanced at
the card, "the price is not right. It is only one-tenth what I expected
to pay."

"Why! would you really have paid one hundred dollars for it?" asked
Ruth.

"Why not?" he asked.

"Oh, it is so much more than it is worth," she replied. "Even for the
Rosas we could not have permitted it."

"Well," he answered, as he handed out the crisp ten dollar bill, which
paid the price marked on the pillow, "well, I must make it up to the
Rosas in some other way." Then turning toward Edith, "thank you, Miss
Blair, for waiting on me, although you did give me a bad quarter of a
minute, when you made me believe that I might have missed the purchase
which I came expressly to make." So with a pleasant smile, carrying the
pretty cushion on one arm, he walked across the room with Ruth.

Belle, as she watched them, could not help thinking how well they looked
together, even though for the moment she felt a little jealousy of
Ruth's growing popularity. Neither the evening before, nor during the
whole progress of the Bazaar, had Belle received any special attention
from even one of "the boys" as Philip and his friends were called
collectively. Ruth, to be sure, was nearly a year and a half older than
"The Four," and it was more natural that she should receive a little
more attention of the kind that young ladies receive. But Belle thought
that she herself felt as old as she should ever feel, and now since she
wore her hair done up, and had skirts that almost touched, she did not
see why she should not be treated just as if she were "grown up." To
suit her ideas, therefore, of the deportment of a young lady, she had
begun to assume a very coquettish manner. But this, instead of producing
the desired effect--that of gaining for her great admiration, only
amused the boys, and led them to make fun of her when by themselves.
Edith through Philip, and Nora through her brother, had some knowledge
of this fact. But Brenda regarded Belle with more or less awe, and
considered her an exceedingly worldly-wise person. When, therefore,
Belle proposed to her that instead of selling the water-color painting
of which I have spoken, at a fixed price, they should vote it to the
most popular young man of their acquaintance, Brenda acquiesced.

"You see it will be this way," said Belle, "we can get people to vote by
taking shares."

"How much will the shares be?"

"Oh, a dollar, and we can easily sell a hundred and fifty dollars worth.
I am sure that is a great deal better than letting the picture go for
one hundred dollars."

"But isn't that the same as a raffle?"

"No, stupid, of course not."

"For you know that Mrs. Blair has forbidden us to have any raffles."

"Yes, I know about that rule, and a very silly rule it is, too," replied
Belle, "but this isn't at all the same thing as a raffle. People just
pay for the privilege of voting, and don't expect any gain for
themselves, as they would in a lottery or raffle. It's a good thing,
too, for the person they vote for, it's doing him good, and no one can
disapprove of a plan to help other people," said Belle with an
unselfishness of sentiment that could not have been looked for in her.

"Oh, no," said Brenda, hesitatingly, "I suppose not."

"All the same," Belle had continued, "I think that we had better not say
anything to Edith and Nora about it, they might interfere in some way,
and besides I am sure that they both have enough to do looking after
their own tables."

"Well, but how can we get any votes if we do not say anything to
anybody?" enquired Brenda.

"Oh, of course we must take Frances into our confidence. She is at the
table where the picture is. There won't be much danger of its selling at
once for one hundred dollars, and we can trust Frances to head any one
off who pretends to wish to buy it."

So it was as a result of this plan of Belle's that Frances had prevented
a sale of the picture to Madame du Launy. For at that time Brenda and
Belle had a number of names on their books, enough in fact to represent
one half the valuation of the picture. Each girl who voted was bound to
secrecy, for Belle realized (though she had put it in a different light
to Brenda) that she was violating the spirit, if not the letter of Mrs.
Blair's command. Nevertheless the very fact that the carrying out of
this plan involved a certain amount of mystery, gave the whole thing
more zest than it would otherwise have had for the two.

Strangely enough, however, after the first fifty votes had been cast,
with a great scattering as to the most popular youth, the two girls
found it hard to get more names. The evening, indeed, was half over
before the list had increased to sixty votes.

About this time an awkward thing happened. Running upstairs from the
dining-room, Belle had dropped the neat little book in which she kept
record of her votes, and when one of the maids handed it to Mrs. Blair,
great was her surprise to find on the fly-leaf the sentence "voting
contest for the picture."

"Whose handwriting is this?" she asked Edith, "and what does this all
mean; surely none of you is carrying on a raffle."

"It's Belle's writing," answered Edith a little reluctantly, for she saw
that her mother was angry. "But I do not know what it means."

Well after this, of course Belle was summoned to talk with Mrs. Blair,
and though she reiterated that she had only desired to make as much
money as she could for the Bazaar, Mrs. Blair insisted that Belle should
give her all that she had already received to return to those who had
subscribed or voted. Brenda, too, came in for a good share of reproof,
and the whole thing was very humiliating to the two girls, who found
themselves so clearly in the wrong. Beyond obliging them to conform,
however, to her views of what was proper, Mrs. Blair had no intention of
making them unduly uncomfortable.

"Think no more about it," she said, "only remember that you have
prevented the sale of the picture, for I saw to-day that Madame Du Launy
was very anxious to buy it."

After hearing this Brenda and Belle, although mortified, decided to make
the best of the rest of the evening. They merely explained to some of
the voters who asked them, that it had been decided to give up this plan
for disposing of the picture, and that the money would be returned.

The episode of Madame Du Launy in the afternoon, and this little
unpleasant incident of the evening were the only things to make this
Bazaar seem very different from other Bazaars.

You know what they are all like, and that each fair or sale or Bazaar
depends for its charm on the unity with which the workers carry things
on, and the extent to which their friends patronize it, and I will say
for "The Four" that they were much more in harmony through this whole
affair than often they had been in the past, and that their
friends--especially their young friends--did even more than had been
expected of them to help swell the fund for the Rosas.

Brenda had been anxious to have one or two of this interesting family on
the spot to work on the sympathies of the patrons of the Bazaar. She had
thought that it would be delightful to have Angelina wait on the
refreshment table, and she did not see why Manuel might not have been
present all the time. "In some kind of fancy costume, of course, for I
know that his own clothes would not be exactly clean and whole."

But Mrs. Blair had objected to the presence of the Rosas whether in
fancy dress, or in their usual garb, and Mrs. Barlow had succeeded in
making Brenda see that it would not be the best thing in the world for
the Rosa children to be introduced to what must seem to them a scene of
great luxury in a Back Bay house, even though it might be explained to
them that part of the gorgeousness was due to a desire to help them--the
special gorgeousness, I mean, of the Bazaar.

"Who in the world is to take care of all the money?" asked Nora, as she
looked at the large tin box almost running over with silver and bills
taken in as receipts at the various tables.

"Oh, Mrs. Blair is to put it in her safe to-night, and to-morrow it will
be exchanged at the bank for large bills!" answered Brenda.

"And then----?"

"And then we must have a committee meeting to decide what is to be done
with it. When it was last counted there were nearly three hundred
dollars, and there has been something added to it since."

"Why, how perfectly splendid!" cried Nora; "why we should be able to do
almost anything we wish to do for the Rosas; why, it is a regular
fortune!" for Nora had ideas almost as vague as Brenda of the value of
money.

"Oh, yes, we've done very well, but I am glad that it is all over; the
Bazaar has been fun, but it is kind of a relief not to have it on my
mind any more."

"Oh, Brenda, it hasn't worried you much, you took things very easy until
the last day or two."

"Well, that's just it; I've felt so busy to-day, that I would like to
rest for a week."

"But you haven't been half as busy as Julia, she has hardly left her
post all day, and I think that she looks pretty tired."

"Dear me," said Brenda crossly, "if she had not wished to serve at the
flower booth, we could have found some other girl to do it. Oh, Julia,"
she cried as her cousin drew near her, "are you coming home in the
carriage with me?"

"Why, yes, if you wish it."

"Well, it has just taken papa and mamma home, and when it comes back, I
shall be ready."

The pretty dancing-hall now presented a thoroughly disordered
appearance. It was strewn with wrapping papers that had been pushed from
behind the tables, or had been thrown there by careless persons who had
tossed down the coverings of their surprise packages. There were also a
number of faded flowers lying about, and the tables themselves were in
confused heaps. For, of course, not everything had sold, and the
"remains" as one of the boys called what was left, had to stay on the
tables until the morning.

When Brenda and Julia were finally ready to go home, they were almost
the last to leave. Even the Cambridge boys had said "good-bye" and Ruth
and Frances had started for home.

"Thank you very much, Mrs. Blair, for letting us come here," said
Brenda, as they left the room. For Brenda seldom forgot her good manners
where older people were concerned, even though she was sometimes
inclined to be pettish toward her younger friends.

"Why, what is that?" she enquired, as Julia had a large package lifted
into the carriage.

"It's that water-color that was on Edith's table."

"Why, what are you taking it home for?"

"I have bought it," replied Julia quietly, "and I am going to give it to
Aunt Anna."

Brenda was almost too much surprised to speak, for this was the picture
which she and Belle had tried to raffle.

"But you did not pay one hundred dollars for it?"

"Why not?" said Julia with a smile, as they reached their door.



XXVII

A MISTAKE


Brenda, herself, was too sleepy that night when she reached home, to
express her surprise at Julia's having bought the picture. Yet she
certainly wondered that the cousin whom she had hitherto regarded as
bound down to economy, should have been able to spend so large a sum for
a single purchase. Julia on her part was not surprised at her cousin's
indifference, for Brenda had a way of seeming curious or especially
interested only in relation to things that immediately concerned her.
When they had separated, and Julia was alone in her own room, she had
opportunity for the first time since the morning for thinking over all
the events of the day. Her place at the Bazaar had been a very pleasant
one, and while she had not had much to do with any of the girls except
Ruth, her attention had been constantly occupied in disposing of her
flowers. Philip and his friends had been especially good patrons, and
the former had taken the chances that came to him of going up to the
table and talking to Julia on one thing and another, not always
connected with the Bazaar or with the Rosas. In spite of a certain
amount of conceit--and what young sophomore is without this
quality--Philip was really a very agreeable fellow, and in Julia he had
some one ready to listen to him more attentively than was Edith's habit,
or indeed that of the other girls. For Belle, for example, although she
liked what she called "attention" from the boys of her set, wished to
have the conversation turn entirely upon herself and her own affairs,
and she always showed impatience when the person with whom she was
talking turned to any other subject. Now Philip--though in this he was
not so very different from other young men--liked to have some one to
talk to who would listen sympathetically to his tales of college
triumphs, or grievances, and occasionally give him a word of advice. In
Julia he found not only an attentive listener, but an intelligent
adviser. So although the Bazaar was not just the place for confidences,
he had been able to have several pleasant little snatches of
conversation with Julia. She had enjoyed these little fragmentary talks
as much as Philip had, and they both had had much amusement from his
rather clumsy attempts to help her in arranging bouquets for her
customers.

Julia, therefore, had many pleasant things to recall connected with the
Bazaar, and not the least pleasant was the fact that she had been able
to contribute a good deal toward helping the Rosas.

The one strange feature of the whole affair had been the sudden
departure of Madame Du Launy. "And why," mused Julia, "did Miss South go
away without bidding me good-bye? I know that she meant to stay until
evening. Well, perhaps it will all be explained. Though certainly now I
cannot understand it all. Perhaps to-morrow--" and here Julia fell
asleep with the question still unsettled.

Early the next morning--as soon at least as she had had her breakfast,
Julia started off to find Miss South, but the maid at her boarding-house
said that she had gone out and probably would not be back before
evening; with this she had to be content, although in addition to
general enquiries about the strange event of the day before, she wished
to talk over with Miss South some of the plans which they had been
discussing for the assistance of the Rosa family. They had been finally
successful in getting Mrs. Rosa to promise to go to the country for the
summer, if for no longer a time. They had found a house in Shiloh, a
small village with elevated land not so very far from Boston, and they
were sure that a residence there would benefit the sick woman. A man
whom Miss South knew, who had been at one time given up by the doctors
as in hopeless consumption, had moved to this village, and after a year
had been pronounced almost well. He had opened a little shop there, his
children had found employment for their spare hours, and the family had
at last started on the high road to prosperity. This was a great change
for them, for during their father's illness in town, they had often had
to have charitable relief. Miss South's plan for Mrs. Rosa included a
certain amount of work for the family. A farmer had been found who
promised to employ the oldest boy, and a woman who took summer boarders
said that she could pay Angelina two dollars a week, to help in her
kitchen, if she could sleep at home. The house which they had selected
had a small piece of land where it was hoped that Mrs. Rosa could raise
some vegetables.

To accomplish what they wished, considerable money was needed, and they
had enlisted Brenda's interest to so great an extent that she professed
herself perfectly willing to have the money raised at the Bazaar used to
rent and equip the house, and pay the many little expenses that would be
caused by the enterprise. "As Brenda really has been interested in
Manuel, it would be hardly fair to leave her out of this plan,
although," said Julia, "although we might get on without her help."

"Oh, dear, no," Miss South had said, "it would never in the world do to
overlook Brenda. She is an impulsive little thing, and although Mrs.
Rosa and the children might have fared badly this winter, had they had
no one but Brenda to depend on, still it is a great advance for Brenda
to be interested in some one besides herself, and it is excellent
discipline for her to have a certain share in carrying out this plan. It
is not altogether a matter of money."

Now, Brenda, of course, in deciding to favor the plan proposed by Miss
South was not acting entirely for herself. Edith, Nora, and Belle were
as much concerned as she, and Nora in fact, as the rescuer of Manuel,
was more interested than any of the others. Belle, the only one who
might have been expected to oppose Miss South's plan, really had no
objection to it. Her one thought in the whole matter had been to get as
much pleasure and glory as possible out of the Bazaar itself. Edith,
while practical about some things,--needlework for example, and
lessons,--seldom put her mind on money matters, and Nora was as heedless
about this as about other things. Brenda was almost as heedless, and yet
The Four had thought it perfectly proper that she should be treasurer of
their little fund.

So it happened that on the very morning when Julia was trying to find
Miss South, Brenda had received from Mrs. Blair's hands four crisp one
hundred dollar notes. This was a little more than had been taken at the
Bazaar. But in getting the loose bills and cheques changed into more
compact form, Mrs. Blair had added enough to make the sum an even four
hundred dollars.

The other three girls were with Brenda as she received the money from
Mrs. Blair, and immediately they sat down to count up the expenses that
must be paid from their receipts. Rather to Mrs. Blair's surprise these
expenses mounted up to more than one hundred dollars, and she scolded
The Four a little for having engaged an expensive orchestra for the
music of the preceding evening, when music was not really needed at all.
The ices and other things furnished the refreshment room made another
large item in the bills, although there had been some profit from this
department.

"I will take one of your one hundred dollar bills, and with it pay the
expenses," said Mrs. Blair, "and I would advise you to take care of the
three hundred dollars, for after all it is not a large sum to be used
toward the support of a sick woman and five children."

"Of course we'll take care of it, at least Brenda will," cried Nora, as
Brenda folded the money away carefully in her purse, and placed the
purse in a small leather bag. Then they went home with Brenda, and they
saw her lock the bag into her top bureau drawer.

After this they sat for a while as girls will, idly talking about the
affairs of the day, while Mrs. Barlow's French maid bustled about,
laying away some new waists and skirts of Brenda's that had just come
home from the dressmaker's.

"Look," at last cried Brenda, jumping up from her seat impetuously,
"look, Marie, did you ever see so much money," and opening the drawer
and the purse she brandished the three hundred dollar bills before the
eyes of the young Frenchwoman.

"Oh, my! Mees," cried Marie, "three dollars, that is not so very much!"

"Three dollars!" shouted Brenda, "three hundred dollars, what you call
twelve hundred francs."

"Oh, my!" exclaimed Marie, her eyes almost jumping out of her head, "oh,
my! I never did see so much money, let me look." So they let her touch
the bills, and they laughed at the comments she made, and especially
when she cried, "Louis would marry me if that money was mine."

"I thought he was going to anyway," said Belle, "you have always said
that you were engaged."

"Oh, yes," she replied. "Oh, yes, sometime, perhaps, but it takes much
money to get married. If I have to wait too long, perhaps Louis will
find another girl with more money. But no matter." And she went out of
the room looking much less cheerful than before she had seen the money.

"How mercenary!" said Belle as she disappeared, for Belle always had a
word large enough to fit every happening.

"Well, it must be hard not to have any money but just what you earn
every week," interposed Edith sympathetically.

"Oh it's better not to have much money than to have a man think only of
that in marrying you," responded Belle in her most worldly-wise voice.

"Come, I think that we are talking of things that we know nothing
about," said Nora, "but if I were you, Brenda, I would not let every one
in the house know where that money is."

"Nonsense, I always carry the key with me, and anyway it won't be here
long," answered Brenda.

"No matter, if I were you I would give it to Mr. Barlow to take down
town."

"Yes, you ought to," added Edith.

"Oh, what fusses you are!" cried Brenda, "any one would think that I was
a two-year-old baby."

Just then there was a tap at the door.

"May I come in?" said a voice, which they at once recognized as Julia's.

"Yes, indeed," cried Nora and Edith, and the former flung the door wide
open and greeted Julia with a kiss.

"Where have you been, but of course you have been to see Miss South. It
was so funny that she did not stay last evening. What was the reason?"

"Well I did not find her; she was not expected home to-day," answered
Julia.

"How queer!"

"Why, to tell you the truth, I was a little surprised myself, for we had
an appointment together this morning, although if we had not had one, I
should have gone up there to find out if she was ill yesterday."

"Oh, tell me," enquired Edith, "have you heard anything about Madame Du
Launy? Mamma said that she would send there to enquire this morning, but
I have not been home since she sent."

"Yes," said Julia, "I did make enquiries at the house, and was told that
she was feeling pretty well to-day, but that she could not see anybody."

"Not even you!" exclaimed Belle, a little sarcastically.

"Not even me," replied Julia pleasantly. "I suppose for one thing that
the Bazaar yesterday tired her. They tell me that it is the first time
in twenty years that she has been inside of any house in Boston besides
her own."

"I wonder if that is true," said Edith, reflectively.

"Yes, I believe that it is," answered Julia. "Madame Du Launy said
almost as much to me, although I must admit that she never talks very
much about that kind of thing. As often as I have seen her this spring,
she has never said a word to me on the subject of Boston people and
their attitude to her,--or her attitude to them--" she hastened to add.

"You talk like a book, Julia," said Brenda, who had complained once or
twice that Julia talked too precisely, "like a school-teacher," she
generally said, when she spoke on the subject to Belle.

Julia laughed good-naturedly. Brenda's little arrows did less harm now
than in the earlier part of the season.

"So long as I make myself clear, it is all right, isn't it?" she asked.

"Oh, of course," answered Brenda, "but you and Belle always do use such
alarmingly correct expressions."

"Brenda," called Mrs. Barlow from the floor below. The girls exchanged
glances. There was something ominous in the tone, and even the dilatory
Brenda decided that it would be best to respond as quickly as possible
to the summons.

Thereupon the other girls rose to go. In fact, the morning was almost
over, and during the two or three hours which The Four had spent
together they had talked about everything connected with the Bazaar
until there was little more for them to say. The late hours which they
had been keeping were telling upon them all, and if any one of them had
been asked to tell what she felt the most need of at that particular
moment, she would probably have said, "A good nap."

Julia, however, was the only one to say frankly that she felt sleepy,
and she excused herself as the others went downstairs, while they bade
her good-bye at the door of her own room. She had been there but a few
minutes seated in a wicker easy-chair before the long window which
afforded a beautiful view of the river, when the door was hastily flung
open, and in a second Brenda stood before her.

"I think that you are just as mean as you can be, Julia Bourne," she
cried angrily. "It does seem as if I ought not to have spies in my own
house watching everything that I do and carrying tales just as if I were
a baby."

"Why, what do you mean, Brenda?" asked Julia in genuine astonishment.

"You know very well what I mean. You and Miss South, you saw me with
Belle the other afternoon; oh, it wasn't so long ago that you could
forget it, you saw us down there by the Music Hall and you told mamma
that we had been there. Anyway, I do not see whose business it is. We
are old enough to go about by ourselves, but I think that you are just
as mean as you can be," and with this final outburst Brenda flung
herself from the room without giving Julia time to reply.

The latter for a moment sat in her chair completely puzzled. Then she
remembered the day on which she and Miss South returning from the North
End had seen Belle and Brenda in Winter Street. The two girls had
disappeared so quickly that she did not suppose at the time that they
had seen her. Now, however, it seemed that they had been merely in
hiding. But of one thing she was sure, she had never spoken of the
encounter to her aunt, and all this torrent of anger on Brenda's part
was wholly uncalled for. It did seem too bad that Brenda should have
taken this tone just as she had begun to hope that she and her cousin
were to understand each other. On the other hand the case was not very
serious, since to Brenda in a calmer mood it would be very easy to give
an explanation. Yet if it were not for her uncle and aunt, who were
always considerate, Julia now felt that it would be hard for her to
continue under the same roof with Brenda. Julia herself, had always been
closely observant of the golden rule. Nor was her piety of the kind that
was displayed only on occasions. She had been most regular in her
attendance at Sabbath-school, and she and Nora and Edith never thought
of letting rain, or heat, or any other thing prevent their attendance at
the morning service as well. But besides these outward observances she
kept the spirit of the teachings of her Church, or tried to keep them in
her daily life. Neither Brenda, therefore, nor any one else could accuse
her of hypocrisy. She believed strongly in the soft answer that turneth
away wrath, and yet no one could say that behind any one else's back she
indulged in harsh criticism.

At luncheon Brenda did not come to the table, and a question or two from
Mrs. Barlow brought out the fact that Brenda had vented on her cousin
part of the annoyance that she had felt at her mother's reproof.

"Of course I shall make it clear to Brenda that I did not get my
information from you. Indeed I do not see how she could have thought so.
I certainly intimated that I had had my information from some one who
had seen her in the hall. In going there with Belle, Brenda broke two
well-understood rules of mine. In the first place she is not allowed to
go down town except with some older person. It the second place I
disapprove of young girls going to matinees of any kind, and the
performance they went to see was not at all a proper one for them. I
know that I had previously declined to take them. Brenda knew my opinion
of this particular performance, and two friends of mine who saw her and
Belle there were exceedingly surprised that I had permitted them to go
alone. They spoke of the matter incidentally to me, and in that way I
learned of Brenda's disobedience. But I am sorry that Brenda should have
troubled you about the affair, for I know that when she is angry she can
say very disagreeable things."

"It is not of very much consequence, Aunt Anna," replied Julia, "as long
as it is a thing that can be straightened out. If I really had seen
Brenda at the Hall, I might have mentioned the fact without realizing
that it could make her so angry, but when she understands about this I
am sure that we shall be as good friends as ever."

"I hope so," responded Mrs. Barlow.



XXVIII

EXPLANATIONS


Now it happened that on Thursday afternoon Julia went to Nora's and
stayed all night. The next morning the two went out to Roxbury to fulfil
a promise to Ruth to pass a day and night with her. Thus it happened
that Julia and Brenda did not see each other until Saturday evening.
They then met in the presence of an elderly friend of Mrs. Barlow's who
had come to stay over Sunday with the family, and so Brenda had no
opportunity of making an apology--if she intended to make one for her
language of the subject of the matinee. For Mrs. Barlow, of course, had
explained her error to Brenda, and though the latter had not expressed
great contrition, her mother knew that in the end she would do what was
right. Luckily Julia herself was not one to feel resentment, for Sunday
passed without her hearing a word on the subject from Brenda.

After the second service on Sunday, Miss South joined Julia just outside
the church door. "I am very glad to see you," she said, "for I was
greatly disappointed in missing you the other day. I have many things to
tell you, if you will walk with me for half an hour."

This Julia was pleased to do, for it was a beautiful afternoon, and
moreover, she was anxious to hear why Miss South had gone away so
suddenly from Edith's, on the afternoon of the Bazaar.

"I must begin at the beginning, Julia," said Miss South, "for you are
old enough to hear a rather romantic story at first hand, which
otherwise you might hear in an incorrect form."

"I won't say that I have been curious, Miss South," replied Julia,
"although I have thought that in some mysterious way your going off had
some connection with Madame Du Launy."

"That is true logic on your part," responded Miss South, "and you will
be interested to hear that I have spent several hours since Wednesday
with Madame Du Launy. Before I forget it I must tell you that she was
very sorry that she could not see you when you called. She told me to
say this to you as a special message from her."

"Thank you," answered Julia, "but I am very anxious to hear what you
have to say. I feel sure that it is something very interesting."

Miss South smiled. "Then I must begin at the very beginning. You may
have noticed that rather striking portrait of a young girl in the room
where Madame Du Launy usually receives her visitors. Well, that young
girl was my mother." Julia naturally gave a start of surprise, and for a
moment her mind occupied itself in reproducing an image of this
portrait. Then Miss South resumed her story.

"Yes, my mother was the only one of Madame Du Launy's children who
married, and she married against her mother's will. My father was a very
independent man, and when his wife's mother said that she would never
forgive her for having married a poor man without family or position, he
accepted this as final. He would not let my mother make any attempt at
reconciliation, yet had she made such efforts I am sure that they would
have been unsuccessful. He took her to Ohio first, and after a time they
moved further west. We lived from the earliest time that I can remember,
very simply and economically, but we had the advantage of good
schools,--we two children, I mean--and when I showed a desire to go to
college I was sent to the State University of the State where we had
grown up. My brother, as I told you, was several years younger than I,
and was only preparing for college when my father died. Our mother had
died when we were little children, and in accordance with our father's
wishes we had heard little about our grandmother besides her name. Once
he had told us that she was an embittered old woman, and that she had
not shown any regard for him, or my mother after her marriage. We knew
that Boston had been our mother's home for a time, although most of her
youth had been spent in wandering around Europe with her parents. After
our father's death I thought once or twice of trying to find out whether
or not our grandmother was alive. But my brother always dissuaded me, so
keen was his resentment for the way she had treated our father. My
telling him that this had been mere prejudice on her part--for she never
had met my father--did not make him change his mind. He made me believe
that it would be disrespect to both our parents if I should seek my
grandmother. When I came to Boston, and heard about this peculiar Madame
Du Launy, who lived opposite the school, I felt that she must be my
grandmother, and some letters and a picture--a small water-color of the
house--made it perfectly clear that in this surmise I was correct.
Before the Bazaar I had decided in the course of the spring, to make
myself known to Madame Du Launy, and I ought to tell you that it was
your account of her gentler side that led me to think seriously of doing
this."

"How very interesting!" cried Julia. "Why, I never heard anything like
it. But why did not Madame Du Launy ever try to find you?"

"For the very good reason that she did not know of my existence. You see
my mother never wrote to her after the first months of her marriage when
my grandmother returned all her letters unopened. Yet Madame Du Launy--I
find it very hard to say 'Grandmother' had heard that my mother had had
one or two children, but she had also been told that they had died. All
that she heard, however, was mere rumor, for she was too proud to write
to my father after her daughter's death. But of late years, she says,
she has been very unhappy, and has thought much about my mother. It was
my close resemblance to her portrait that caused her to faint the other
day. I have a photograph made from that portrait, and occasionally I
dress my hair in the same style, those old fashions are somewhat in
vogue now, and I can do so with propriety. My grandmother says that I am
wonderfully like my mother."

"Dear me!" said Julia, "it is more interesting than a novel. I suppose
that now you will go to live with Madame Du Launy, and we shall lose you
at school."

Miss South smiled. "I shall certainly finish out my present year of
teaching, although it is probable that I may go to live with Madame Du
Launy." Then after a pause, "There is one thing that I ought to say,
Julia, because I know that already it is reported that I am to be a
great heiress. Madame Du Launy has a good income, but it comes from an
annuity, and when she dies it will die with her. She seemed to think
that she ought to explain this to me before asking me to live with her.
The house is hers outright, and she has said that she will give it to me
and my brother. I would not speak of this if it were not that I should
be placed in a false position otherwise. In fact I am the more ready to
go to live with my grandmother, because she is not the enormously rich
woman that she has been represented to be. But now I have talked enough
about myself, so let us turn to the Rosas."

"Why, yes," responded Julia, "I have been wondering whether or not you
had seen them since the Bazaar."

"Yes, I was able to go down yesterday, and I found Mrs. Rosa quite ready
to go to the country. I did not feel at liberty to tell her of the
success of the efforts of 'The Four,' but I told her that money was
certain to be furnished for the expense of removing her, and setting her
up in the little home that we have planned for her."

"Wasn't she perfectly delighted?"

"Well, she did not show a great deal of emotion. She is almost too weak
for that, but I am sure that she is pleased, although she has a certain
amount of regret at leaving the city."

"She ought to be perfectly thankful to leave that wretched place."

"It does not look quite as wretched and dirty to her as it does to us,
and after all home is home, and the North End has been her home for many
years."

"I won't ask what the children think of the change, for I shall see them
myself in a day or two, and I suppose that I ought to be going home now.
But I do wish to tell you how delighted I am about your good fortune in
finding your grandmother. You know that I have grown quite fond of
Madame Du Launy myself, and I have been so sorry for her loneliness that
I am very glad indeed that she is to have you to live with her. Now,
here I suppose that I ought to leave you at this corner, so good-bye
until to-morrow."

"Wait a moment, Julia, I have been so wrapped up in myself that I have
not given you a message from Madame Du Launy. At least she wished me to
tell you that your kindness in running in to see her this spring had
been greatly appreciated, and that she has been made very happy by the
glimpses of fresh, young life that you have given her. In the future she
hopes to see much more of you and of some of your young friends. Poor
grandmother! It is her own fault that she has been so shut out from
people and interesting things here in Boston. But in her youth she was a
very sharped tongued and overbearing woman,--she says this herself--and
she so resented the criticisms which people made on her marriage that
she was only too glad to give up their society, and in return for their
criticisms she said so many sharp things that even if she had wished it,
there was small chance of her having pleasant associations with most of
the families of her acquaintance. Oh! before we part there is one thing
that I must tell you about Mrs. Rosa. It seems that she has been greatly
annoyed lately by a young man, the son of an old friend of hers, who for
several years was in the habit of lending her small sums of money. The
friend had given her to understand that these sums were gifts in
repayment of kindnesses that Mrs. Rosa had done her friend in her youth.
In fact the young man's mother had borrowed from the Rosas in their
prosperous days. Lately, however, this friend has died, and her son has
a little book in which the money lent Mrs. Rosa amounts with interest to
two hundred dollars. He claims that it is a debt due him, and though he
cannot collect anything from a person who has nothing, he annoys Mrs.
Rosa very much by coming to her house and telling her that she ought to
get some of her rich friends to help her pay the debt. He is very well
off himself, for a Portuguese, and his behavior is a kind of
persecution."

"Well," said Julia, "I must tell the girls, for if they should let Mrs.
Rosa have even a little of the money----"

"He would certainly wheedle it from her, and you ought to give them a
word of warning."

As they parted Julia felt that she had many things to think about--many
more things than she had had to consider for a long time. When she
reached home she found the family all discussing some of the rumors that
had come to them about Madame Du Launy and Miss South, and she was glad
that she had had her information at first hand, and that she could
contradict some rather absurd rumors that were in circulation.

"The worst thing about it," said Mrs. Barlow, "appears to be the fact
that by this turn of Fortune's wheel, Miss Crawdon's school is likely to
lose one of its best teachers."

"I am not so sure of that," responded Julia; "I have an idea that Miss
South may continue to teach; she is very fond of her work----"

"But her grandmother will certainly wish her to give all her time to
her, and her first duty will be with her."

"Whatever her duty is, I am sure that she will do it," replied Julia;
"she is the most conscientious person I have ever known; just think of
her going down to see Mrs. Rosa this very week, when she must have had
so much to interest her in at her grandmother's."

"By the way," asked Mr. Barlow, "are Miss South and Madame Du Launy sure
that they are correct in their surmises about the relationship? They
must have some stronger proof than personal resemblance, and the
possession of one or two old pictures."

"Oh, yes," interposed Mrs. Barlow, "I believe that Miss South has many
other proofs to show in the way of letters, certificates, and some other
things that belonged to her mother."

"Then her name, too,--you know she is called Lydia from a sister of
Madame Du Launy's who died young, and--why how foolish we are, of course
Madame Du Launy always knew that the name of the man whom her daughter
married was George South, the name of your teacher's father. One of her
objections to him was his plebeian name," said Mrs. Barlow's cousin who
had remained over Sunday.

Brenda had had less comment to make on these exciting events than had
Julia, and even Mr. and Mrs. Barlow had seemed to take more interest in
this romance of Madame Du Launy and Miss South. If the truth must be
told Brenda was really half worn out. Her vacation had been anything but
restful. The Bazaar by itself need not have tired her had she not in the
latter part of the week spent almost every hour in some kind of vigorous
exercise in search of what she and Belle called "fun." There had been
two long bicycle rides, one dancing party, a three hours' walk to
Brookline and back one day, and other things that really had told on her
strength. Moreover her conscience was pricking her. For on the preceding
afternoon, moved by an impulse which she now regretted, she had
persuaded Nora to go with her to the North End to visit Mrs. Rosa. This
was not long after Miss South had left the sick woman, and they found
Mrs. Rosa somewhat depressed, first at the thought that she was really
going to leave the city, second by the fact that her persistent creditor
had just been in and had told her that he might "take the law on
her"--so she quoted him, if she did not pay the money which he found
written against her name in his mother's little book. Now Mrs. Rosa
ought to have rested herself on Miss South's assurance that the young
man could not make good his claim in law, but she was only a rather
ignorant foreigner to whom the power of the law meant that she might be
dragged off to the nearest police station by the brass-buttoned
officers. She did not tell the young girls about her creditor, but when
they pitied her for looking so ill, she sighed so sadly that they felt
very sorry indeed for her. Marie, who had accompanied them to the North
End had left them for a quarter of an hour to see a friend of hers
living in the neighborhood, and then Brenda had no one but Nora to
remonstrate with her for any folly she might wish to commit. When,
therefore, out of a small bag which she carried, she took her
purse,--her best purse with the silver monogram,--and when from the
purse she extracted the three hundred-dollar notes, the proceeds of the
Bazaar, even Nora gave a little gasp.

"Why, Brenda, how did you ever dare to bring that money down to this
part of the city?"

"Why shouldn't I, you goose! I am sure that it will do Mrs. Rosa more
good to see this money than anything else possibly could. See! Mrs.
Rosa" she continued, "this is all yours, this three hundred dollars that
we made at the Bazaar that we have been telling you about----" For Nora
and she had expatiated on the charms of the occasion--the flowers, the
music, and the many pretty articles that had been displayed on the
tables. In fact they had brought several simple little things as
presents for Mrs. Rosa and the children, and while the former probably
did not understand all that they said to her, she did realize that some
one had been at a great deal of trouble for her, and that this money was
the result.

"All for me, oh tank you," she said, reaching her hand out towards the
bills. Nora hastily jerked Brenda's arm.

"You mustn't give them to her."

Now up to this moment, Brenda had had no intention of doing this. "Why,
Nora, really I think that I understand things as well as you do." Nora
for the moment forgot the effect which opposition usually had on Brenda.
Mrs. Rosa glanced questioningly from one girl to the other.

"Why, yes, you may look at them close too, you may hold them," said
Brenda, laying the bills on Mrs. Rosa's transparent hand. The expression
on the poor woman's face brightened.

"The money means a great deal to her," said Nora, sympathetically.

"Yes," answered Brenda, "you see that I was right in giving it to her, I
mean in letting her see it. She has a little color in her cheeks
already. She knows what that money can do for her and her children." It
was hard enough for Mrs. Rosa to understand English when spoken in a
full voice, and she made no effort to comprehend the undertone in which
the two girls were speaking.

"Are they for me to keep?" she asked eagerly.

"Not now," responded Brenda, "but by and by, next week, perhaps you
shall have a little money to spend, and some of it we may spend for you
to take you to the country, you know."

"Come, Brenda," said Nora, "we must not stay too long, if the children
are not to be back until five o'clock, we cannot wait to see them. We
ought to be watching for Marie now."

"I know, I know," retorted Brenda, impatiently, "I shall be ready when
you are."

"If I could just have this money in the house for a little while," said
Mrs. Rosa, with her quaint accent, "I should be so happy. I think it
would make me sleep. I haven't slept for _so_ long," and she sighed and
looked paler than ever.

"Poor thing," said Brenda, "I wish that I could give it to you now.
Indeed I do not know why I should not, it is certainly yours, and I do
not care for the responsibility myself,"--this speciously, for Brenda
knew perfectly well that her father stood ready to take care of the
money.

"Nora," she called rather sharply, "I think that we ought to let Mrs.
Rosa have this money until we are ready to spend it. It is really hers
now, people would not have come to the Bazaar, except to help the
Rosas."

"Now, Brenda," cried Nora, "don't be foolish. I cannot imagine your
doing so crazy a thing. It was bad enough for you to have brought the
money down here. It was an awful risk, for suppose you had lost the
purse,--oh, my," with a change of tone, "why there is Manuel. I must run
out and speak to him," and in her usual heedless way Nora left the room
with little thought for the subject which she and Brenda had the moment
before been discussing.

Left alone with Mrs. Rosa, Brenda felt an increase of pity for the poor,
pale woman, who looked as if she had very little more time to live. As
she handled the bills with feverish fingers, Brenda made a quick
resolve.

"Why should I not give her a pleasure that will cost me so little, and I
am sure that no reasonable person can object.

"Mrs. Rosa," she said, leaning forward, "if I should let you keep that
money for a few days, would you promise not to let the children see it.
You must keep it right in this purse, and never let it out of your
sight. I mean when any one is here you must keep it under your pillow,
though of course when you are alone you can look at it."

Mrs. Rosa smiled gratefully, and Brenda taking the bills began to put
them back in her portemonnaie. "I think," she said reflectively, "that I
will keep one of these bills in case there are special things that Miss
South or Julia may have planned for you." She could afford to be liberal
in her feelings now that she was getting ready to do something that in
the bottom of her heart she knew that the others who were interested in
Mrs. Rosa would not approve. So she tied up the one hundred dollar bill,
that she intended to keep, in a corner of her handkerchief, and placed
it carefully in the bottom of her bag.

"Remember," she said, as she handed the little purse to Mrs. Rosa,
"remember that you are not to spend this."

"O, I remember, I promise, miss," responded Mrs. Rosa, and just at this
moment Nora reopened the door.

"Come, Brenda," she said, "Marie is outside waiting, and we ought to
start for home at once. Good-bye, Mrs. Rosa, I suppose we shall hardly
see you again in this uncomfortable room. Come on, Brenda, how long it
takes you to put your gloves on!"

Brenda, of course was greatly relieved that Nora asked not another word
about the money. But all the same her conscience had begun to trouble
her, and after she reached home could she have thought of any way to do
it, without betraying herself, she would have sent down to Mrs. Rosa's
for the purse and its contents. On Sunday, at least in the morning, she
had felt reassured.

"What possibility," she thought, "is there that anything could happen to
the money. There might be a fire at the North End, but so there might be
at the Back Bay. Perhaps she ought to have let her father put it in the
bank. Well on Monday morning she would go down, perhaps before school if
she could wake early enough. But on Sunday it was out of the question."
So she had reasoned until Sunday afternoon. Then as she heard Julia tell
what Miss South had said to her, she became very nervous.

"Oh, dear," she thought. "Oh, dear, what _shall_ I do if anything has
happened to that money?"



XXIX

AFTER VACATION


On Monday morning as might have been expected, Brenda did not awake very
early, and though she had a few uneasy minutes as she thought of Mrs.
Rosa, on the whole she was too much absorbed by her preparations for
school to worry over what had now become a very unpleasant subject to
her.

At school all was bustle and excitement for the quarter hour preceding
the opening. Some of the girls had been in New York, or even as far as
Washington during the vacation, and they had much to tell of their
doings. Even those girls who had remained in Boston had had very
exciting experiences, or at least this seemed to have been the case
judging by the eager tones in which they talked, and the effort of each
girl to make herself heard above all the others. If there had been
nothing else eventful among the girls of the set to which The Four
belonged, the Bazaar would have afforded abundant food for discussion.
Even the older girls were interested in this affair, and felt proud of
the success of their schoolmates. This morning, too, was an exciting one
at the school, because it marked the beginning of the spring term--the
last term of regular school for several of Miss Crawdon's pupils, who
next year were to take their place in society. Already in their spring
gowns, modeled after the styles of their elders, they looked like young
women, and their sweeping skirts and elaborate hats seemed to put a gulf
between them and their younger companions. Among the girls of
intermediate age there was also a special reason for dreading the spring
term, for during the few remaining weeks, two or three of them besides
Ruth and Julia were to concentrate all their energy on preparation for
the preliminary college examinations. Not all of these girls were likely
to go to college, but Miss Crawdon had encouraged them to prepare for
the examinations, hoping that their success in passing them might lead
them eventually to take the college course.

Even these girls, the less frivolous in the school, were chattering,--or
perhaps I should say talking--as eagerly as the others. They had many
little points to talk over regarding the requirements for college, the
special tutoring they might need, and similar things. Julia, although
she had been conscientious in her work during the winter, really did
dread the coming ordeal. Examinations of any kind were new to her, for
until the past winter her studies had always been carried on in an
individual way. It was still a sore point with Brenda that Julia should
think of going to college. She felt certain that teaching was her
cousin's ultimate aim, and she did not like the idea at all. A few years
before this Brenda had been remarkably free from anything resembling
snobbishness. This may have been partly on account of her youth,
although a more probable reason was that she had not in her earliest
days so many snobbish friends to influence her. For in spite of her
intimacy with Nora and Edith, Brenda permitted herself to be too greatly
influenced by Belle. Frances Pounder, too, was only one of a group of
girls much less simple-minded than Brenda, whom the latter had come to
associate with rather closely. Any one of them would have indignantly
denied a special regard for money. They would have been pained had you
said that they made wealth a consideration in choosing their friends.
Yet this was what it amounted to,--their way of cavilling at those who
did not belong to their set. They said that family was the only
consideration with them. But I doubt that a very poor girl, however good
her family, would have been considered by them as welcome as a richer
girl of poorer family. There was Julia, for example, who had in every
way as strong a claim to consideration as Brenda--for were not the two
cousins? Yet Frances invariably had some little supercilious thing to
say about Julia--except in the presence of Nora and Edith--and the
superciliousness came largely from the fact that she regarded Julia as a
poor relation of the Barlows. "She can never be of any great use,"
Frances had reasoned, "to us;" including in the latter term all the
girls with whom she was intimate, "and therefore what is the good in
pretending to be fond of a strong-minded girl who may in a few years be
a teacher in a public school? I honestly think that she would just as
soon as not teach in a public school, Brenda, for I heard her praising
public schools to the sky the other day. I'm sure I wonder that she does
not go to a public school instead of to Miss Crawdon's. It would save
your father and mother a lot of money," concluded Frances, forgetting
that how Mr. and Mrs. Barlow spent their money was really no concern of
hers. At times Frances laid aside her good manners. Brenda never knew
just how to respond to speeches of this kind, and their chief effect was
a little feeling of irritation that a cousin of hers should have put
herself in this position of being classed with mere wage-earners. Brenda
was no longer jealous of Julia in the ordinary sense. She had begun to
lose the childish pettishness of her earlier years. Observation was
teaching her that even in the one household there could be room for two
girls near the same age, and that any privileges or affection accorded
Julia did not interfere with her own rights. Indeed had she been
perfectly honest with herself she would have admitted that Julia's
companionship during the past winter had really been of great value to
her. If any one were to tell her that Julia was not to be in the house
with her another year, she would have admitted that she would be lonely.
In spite of the childishness which Brenda sometimes showed towards her
cousin, the two girls saw a great deal of each other, and Brenda had
lately acquired the habit of slipping into her cousin's room on her way
up and downstairs to talk over little happenings of one kind or another.

But at school on this bright spring morning, Brenda felt some irritation
at the sight of Julia and Ruth in close consultation with the Greek
teacher. "He has such sharp eyes," whispered Frances, as she and Brenda
passed him in the hallway. "Don't you feel as if he were always looking
right through you, and saying, 'you're a little ignoramus; every one is
who does not study Greek with me.'"

"Oh, how tiresome you are, Frances," responded Brenda crossly; "I dare
say Miss Crawdon will say that, too, in the English class at the close
of the next hour unless you have a better composition than I have."

"Why, Brenda Barlow, I had forgotten all about it, and we were expected
to have it ready this morning. Have you written yours?"

"No," replied Brenda, "I forgot mine, too. There were so many other
things to think of last week."

It happened, naturally enough, that Brenda and Frances and several other
girls who had neglected their compositions in the same way received a
reprimand from Miss Crawdon, who thereupon said,

"Since so little English written work has been handed in to-day, I will
submit a composition of my own to you for criticism. It is very simple,
and consists merely of a brief description of an evening party, supposed
to be the work of a girl of about your age.

"Now listen, 'I have seldom had so nice a time as at Clara Gordon's
party. In the first place the house is a particularly nice one, and the
room where we danced has the nicest floor for waltzing that I ever saw.
Then there were so many nice people there, all the girls and young men
whom I know especially well, and some others from out of town. The
orchestra played divinely. I never heard nicer music, and John Brent, my
partner in the German, was just as nice to me as he could be. I wish
that I could describe the nice supper that we had at nice little tables
in the dining-room. There was every imaginable kind of nice thing, ices,
salads, and cakes. The sherbet was so nice that some persons who sat
down late could not get any. It was all gone. I got along very nicely,
for John Brent looked out for me. I have not told you about the dresses,
but they were all so nice that it is hard to say which was the nicest. I
danced until I could hardly stand, for I was determined not to miss a
single dance, but when my aunt tried to urge me to go home before twelve
o'clock so that I wouldn't be tired to death, I wouldn't give in for a
moment, but told her that I felt quite nicely.'

"There," said Miss Crawdon, "this is a longer composition than many of
you have prepared to-day, and mine is voluntary, while many of you have
failed to carry out what was really a command laid upon you. What do you
think of my composition?"

While she was reading, some of the girls had rubbed their eyes in
amazement. It did not take even the duller very long however to see that
Miss Crawdon had been playing a practical joke upon them. She had always
had a great deal to say to them on the necessity of a wide vocabulary,
and she had been particularly severe towards those girls who made the
adjective "nice" take the place of more expressive words. "You noticed,
perhaps," continued Miss Crawdon, "that I have not been extravagant in
the matter of adjectives, at least I have been extravagant in the use of
only one, for I have been able to make 'nice' serve in almost every
instance where an adjective was needed, and in none of these instances
was it used in its own proper sense."

Those girls who had not previously seen the joke, now glanced at one
another in amazement. Yes, it really was a practical joke, this little
composition by Miss Crawdon, and they had only begun to find it out.
Then Miss Crawdon spoke again.

"I will not pretend that my composition has cost me much effort. Indeed,
I only wrote it here in school in the few minutes at my disposal before
the opening hour. I need not say also that it is the result of a few
hastily jotted notes, based on scraps of conversation which came to me
as I passed various groups of my pupils, at recess or before school.
But, seriously," and all eyes were fixed on her, "I do wish that you
would avoid the word 'nice' altogether for the present, unless you can
resist the temptation to make it do duty on all occasions. Now, hoping
that you will take this lesson to heart, I will leave you to Miss South,
who will talk to you for a quarter of an hour on the subject of letter
writing."

Thereupon Miss South took Miss Crawdon's place, and the girls had no
opportunity to exchange opinions regarding Miss Crawdon's humorous, if
brief, essay.

Miss Crawdon and Miss South were joint teachers of this class in
English. Miss South had charge of it oftener than Miss Crawdon. But the
latter had general supervision of it, and as the first hour of certain
mornings was given to it, occasionally Miss South was permitted to
arrive at school a little late, while Miss Crawdon took her place. When
Miss South was late it was not on account of any dilatoriness of her
own; it was usually business of Miss Crawdon's that detained her--for
she was Miss Crawdon's trusted friend--and she often had to go to the
bank, or to hold an interview with an anxious parent, or to do some
other thing by which Miss Crawdon might be spared care or unnecessary
steps.

On this special Monday morning, however, Miss South was not only late,
but she looked a little worried. Many of the girls had heard of the
newly discovered relationship between her and Madame Du Launy, and in
the quarter hour before school, the story of the discovery, with a few
slight variations from accuracy, had been talked over very freely. When
Miss South did not appear to take charge of the English class, most of
her pupils assumed that she was no longer to be a teacher at Miss
Crawdon's. They were therefore astonished when she entered the room, as
ready to assume her school duties as if she had had no change of
fortune.

Yet, as I have said, Miss South looked a little worried, and her glance
wandered two or three times in the direction of Brenda in a way that
caused Brenda's conscience to reassert itself.

"Oh, dear," she thought, "what shall I do if Miss South has heard about
that money? Of course it is no concern of hers, but still, but
still----"

Now Brenda did not know exactly what she dreaded, for her idea of the
value of money was very vague. She only knew that she had not done right
in leaving the two hundred dollars with Mrs. Rosa. Yet she consoled
herself with the reflection, "At any rate I have a third of that money
safe at home, and that is a great deal to have saved, if anything has
happened to the rest."

Nora, too, had come late to school, though Brenda had been too much
carried away by the excitement of seeing the other girls again to notice
this. Later in the morning Nora slipped into her accustomed place, and
her face, too, though Brenda had not observed it, looked a little more
serious than usual.

It was not until the end of school that the storm burst. At recess Nora,
contrary to her usual custom, had remained at her desk studying. But
after school she ran up to Brenda, with an "Oh, how _could_ you, Brenda?
We have lost almost the whole advantage from the Bazaar! Miss South and
I were down at the Rosas this morning--I promised not to say anything to
you, until after school--and, well, Miss South will tell you. I can't
bear to talk about it."

"Brenda," said Miss South, drawing near, "I suppose that you would like
me to tell you about Mrs. Rosa's money, yet I do not feel that it is a
matter with which I ought to meddle. I had nothing to do with raising
the money, only I have been interested in the plan by means of which you
all wished to help the poor woman."

"We all think that you have been very kind," interposed Nora, politely.

"Ah, I have been. I am very much interested in Mrs. Rosa and her
family--and so I know is Brenda," for she saw a cloud settling on the
young girl's face.

"But you were not exactly wise, Brenda, in leaving that money with Mrs.
Rosa."

"Has it been stolen?" gasped Brenda.

"Well, not exactly stolen, although Mrs. Rosa no longer has it."

"Brenda," interrupted Nora, "I certainly begged you not to leave it
there. Though I never imagined that you would do so."

"Well, Brenda," continued Miss South, "Nora received a letter this
morning from Angelina, written apparently in great haste last night.
What she said was very vague, but she spoke of the loss of two hundred
dollars in such a way as to recall to Nora your suggestion that you
might leave the money with Mrs. Rosa. Nora was so excited that she left
her breakfast--so she tells me--almost untasted. She gave her mother a
hasty account of what Angelina had told her, and her mother advised her
to see me. The upshot was that we went at once to Mrs. Rosa's, and there
we found that the young man who has been troubling her lately to pay a
debt which he claimed that she owed his mother had called to see her
soon after you and Nora were at the house. He caught sight of the purse
that you had left with Mrs. Rosa, and when her head was turned, pulled
it from under the pillow and began to examine its contents. Naturally he
was astonished to find that it contained two hundred dollars, and when
Mrs. Rosa saw him with the purse in his hand he refused to give it up to
her. The poor woman was alone and very weak, and so completely in his
power that she could not refuse when he compelled her to tell him how
the money had come into her possession. When he learned that it had been
raised for her at a Bazaar, and that it was to be used for her benefit
he seemed very much pleased. 'It is really your own,' he said, 'or else
the young ladies would not have left it with you. If it is to do you any
good you had better give it to me to keep you out of prison, for that is
where I shall send you for not paying your debts, unless you give me
this money.' So by continued threats he finally made her sign a paper
saying that she paid the money willingly to rid herself of a debt owed
to his mother. He even made her think that he had done her a great favor
in not trying to get the fifty dollars--the balance of the debt which he
claimed."

Brenda had listened with an almost dazed expression while Miss South
told this strange story.

"But he did not really take it, did he?" she murmured.

"He not only took it," said Miss South, "but we have reason to think
that he has left the country with it. His friends say that he had been
getting ready for weeks to go to South America, and that he expected to
sail from New York this morning."

"Can't he be stopped?" asked Brenda. Her voice sounded very weak, and
her face was not at all the face of the usually cheerful young girl.

"He cannot be stopped now, Brenda, and I doubt if in any case we could
recover the money. He was very clever in getting Mrs. Rosa to sign that
paper. If he were in Boston we might recover the money on the ground
that it did not belong to Mrs. Rosa, and that therefore she had no right
to give it away. But we can hardly make that a ground for any action
now. Besides, I know that she thought that the money belonged to her, in
some way you gave her that impression, and any testimony of hers would
not help us very much if you had a case in court against young Silva."

"But she knew," moaned poor Brenda, "that the money was only to help her
to go to the country. I am sure that I said so to her."

"You cannot expect a woman of her limited intelligence, a foreigner,
too, who only half understands English, to grasp the meaning of all that
is said to her. The fact was clear to her that you had brought her some
money, and when her creditor claimed it, she believed that he had a
right to it, and that to use it in this way would benefit her more than
to spend it in going to the country."

"Well, it seems to me that she just deceived me," cried Brenda, angrily.

"No," responded Nora, "you must be fair. Miss South and I both believe
that she didn't mean to do anything with the money when she took it from
you, but she thought that you had given it to her----"

"And she never has been as anxious to move from the city as we have been
to have her," continued Miss South, "yet it is so much the best thing,
and our plans are all carefully made, that I hope we can carry them
out."

"I have one hundred dollars at home," said Brenda, "but, oh, dear, I do
not like to think about it; how angry Belle and Edith will be. Do they
know yet?"

"No," said Miss South, "I thought it better to tell you first. Nora and
I are the only persons except Mrs. Rosa and her friends who know
anything about the money. But of course you must tell the other girls as
well as your father and mother. It might be worth while for them to
consult a lawyer, at least they might feel better satisfied. For my own
part, I am confident that the money cannot be recovered."

"Come, come, Brenda, now do cheer up," cried Nora. "It's no use crying
about spilled milk, and perhaps we can think of some way to straighten
things out."

"I might sell my watch," said Brenda, as they walked away from the
school, "and give up my allowance for the rest of the year, for it is
just as if I had thrown that money away--and we all worked so hard for
it."

"Well, we all had a good time out of the Bazaar," replied the optimistic
Nora, "and perhaps the money has done some good in going to Mrs. Rosa's
creditor. I shouldn't wonder if we could get a subscription for all that
we need to help the Rosas," and so Nora chattered on, in her efforts to
cheer Brenda. For the latter, always at one extreme or the other, was
now very low-spirited.



XXX

BRENDA'S FOLLY


It would make a long story to tell what every one said on the subject of
Brenda's folly. For this was the name given it, and by this name it was
long remembered, much to Brenda's discomfiture, when the subject of Mrs.
Rosa and her money was brought up.

There were so many persons who had a right to express an opinion, that
poor Brenda felt that simply to listen to what they said was punishment
enough. There were all the girls who had worked for the Bazaar, and all
their parents, and all the girls at school who hadn't worked for the
Bazaar, but had done their share of buying. There were the boys from
Harvard, whose criticism took the form of mild chaffing, and there
were--but the list, it seemed to Brenda, included every one whom she had
ever known, and some with whom she was sure that she had no
acquaintance.

Mr. and Mrs. Barlow were especially severe, and told her that she must
gradually reimburse The Four from her allowance. "For the money," said
Mr. Barlow, "did not belong to you, you held it in trust for Edith, and
Belle, and Nora, and indeed I wonder how they ever came to entrust it
entirely to you. You are too heedless a girl to have any real
responsibility, and I only hope that your thoughtlessness is not going
to deprive Mrs. Rosa of the country home that Miss South and the others
have planned for her."

Poor Brenda! Before that fatal Saturday two hundred dollars had seemed
to her very little, but now it seemed an almost infinite amount. Her
father, of course, could easily have given her the sum at once, but he
preferred to make her realize her heedlessness. Indeed the lesson had
already begun to benefit her; for the first time in her life Brenda
realized the value of money. How in the world could she herself ever
save the required sum from her allowance. Why, if she should not spend a
cent upon her own little wants it would take her more than two years to
get together two hundred dollars. For her allowance it should be
explained, was large enough only to provide little extra things that she
needed, or thought that she needed. She had not to use any of it for
clothes, or other useful purposes. Yet when Brenda began to count the
things that she must give up for two years, or longer, it seemed as if
she could hardly bear the sacrifice. But her sense of justice prevailed,
and at last she admitted that she deserved this punishment.

"Poor Brenda!" said Mr. Barlow to Mrs. Barlow, as Brenda walked away
after this interview with her head bent as if in reflection. "Poor
Brenda! This lesson will be a hard one, but if we are ready to help her
out of every difficulty, she will never be able to stand alone. I, at
least, could not feel justified in coming to the rescue just now."

After this conversation with her father, Brenda walked upstairs sadly,
at least her head drooped a little, and any one who had followed her to
her room would have found that the first thing she did was to fling
herself, face downward on that broad chintz-covered lounge of hers.
While she lay there, she did not hear a gentle knock at the door, nor
the soft footstep of some one entering the room.

"Why, Brenda Barlow," cried a pleasant voice. "Why, Brenda Barlow, why
are you lying in this downcast position?"

[Illustration: "'WHY, BRENDA BARLOW, WHY ARE YOU LYING IN THIS DOWNCAST POSITION?'"]

At first there was no reply from the prostrate figure. Then Julia--for
it was she who had entered the room--ventured a little nearer, and
repeated her question in a somewhat different form.

Thereupon Brenda sprang to her feet, and though she attempted to smile
at Julia, there were very evident traces of tears on her cheek.

"Brenda," said Julia, "you know that I am very apt to go straight to the
point, if I wish to say anything, and so I will not apologize for what I
am going to say. I am sure that you won't be offended if I tell you that
you are thinking too much about the loss of Mrs. Rosa's money. I have
been noticing you for several days." (It was now about a week since Miss
South had made the discovery of the loss.)

As Brenda made no reply, Julia continued, this time a little timidly,
"Nora and Edith feel sorry that you will not take an interest in the
plans for moving Mrs. Rosa to Shiloh. You know we have been out to see
the cottage, and we missed you dreadfully. Belle wasn't there either,
but since the Bazaar she hasn't been as much interested in the Rosas.
But we thought that you really had some interest."

"Why, yes, I have," replied Brenda. She did not resent Julia's "we" in
speaking of the efforts now making for the Rosas, although not so very
long before Brenda herself had opposed having Julia considered one of
"The Four."

"Why, yes, I have an interest in Mrs. Rosa," repeated Brenda, then with
a return of her old light-heartedness. "Two hundred dollars' worth of
interest, and what bothers me is to know how to turn it into capital."
(You see from this that Brenda had not altogether forgotten her
arithmetic.)

"There, Brenda, that is just what I have been wishing to speak about to
you. I have been afraid that you have been worrying over this. For Uncle
Thomas has told me that he has decided not to help you to pay it."

Again the girl to whom she was speaking seemed unlike the old Brenda,
for she did not resent the fact that Julia had apparently been taken
into Mr. Barlow's confidence to so great an extent.

"Now, Brenda," continued Julia, "as I have said before, I always prefer
to come straight to the point, and so I must tell you that the two
hundred dollars has been paid to Miss South--the other girls have voted
to make her the treasurer--for Mrs. Rosa's benefit."

"Where in the world,--" began Brenda, in a most astonished tone. Then
with a glance at Julia's face, over which an expression of
self-consciousness was spreading, "Why, Julia Bourne, had you anything,
did you, why I really believe that you had something to do with it. Did
you get some one to give you the money?"

"No," replied Julia, with a look of relief, "oh, no, no, I made no
effort to collect money."

Brenda's wits were now well at work.

"There, Julia, I begin to see; it seemed funny when you paid one hundred
dollars for that picture, at least I thought very little about it then,
but to-day when I was going over everything connected with the Rosas in
my mind, it occurred to me that one hundred dollars was a rather large
amount for you to pay, and I meant to ask you how it happened--" then
stammering a little, as she realized that this was not a very polite way
of putting things, "at least, I know that I should never have so much
money saved up from _my_ allowance for any one thing. But you are more
sensible than I, and of course you can make money go a great deal
farther."

Julia smiled pleasantly, for she understood in spite of a certain
confusion of statement, pretty well what her cousin meant.

But still she did not answer immediately, and Brenda, who was now
thoroughly herself, exclaimed,

"Do tell me, Julia, did you give that two hundred dollars to Mrs. Rosa,
that is, was it a present from you?"

For a moment Julia was silent, then she replied with some hesitation,
"Yes, yes, although I had not meant to tell you, it is my little
contribution to the plan you all have made for helping the Rosas. I have
been wishing to do something, and it seemed better to give this now,
when the money was so much needed, rather than to wait until later, as
at one time I had thought of doing. Though I am sure," she continued
modestly, "that there would have been little trouble in raising the
money, only I thought that it was better for me to make my contribution
promptly now, while you were----"

"Then it was just to help me; so that there would not be so much fault
finding with me. Why you are a perfect angel, Julia," cried Brenda.

"Hardly," said Julia, laughing. "Hardly an angel, though if this makes
you feel more comfortable, I shall be very happy."

Brenda was on the point of asking her cousin how she happened to have
all this money, for the more she thought about it, the stranger it
seemed.

Before she could ask a question, Julia however had bidden her good-bye,
saying that she had an engagement with Edith, and Brenda was forced to
wait an opportunity for getting the information she wished from her
mother. After all, the explanation was fairly simple. Brenda and Belle
without good grounds had decided at the first that Julia was entirely
dependent on Mr. Barlow. Instead of this Julia had a good income of her
own, which when she came of age would be largely increased. The girls
had wrongly assumed that Julia was studying and working diligently
simply because she expected at some time to be obliged to earn her
living, whereas the real motive behind all her efforts was her genuine
love of study. Had circumstances made it necessary Julia would have
enjoyed the teacher's profession, as a means of earning her living. In
fact sometimes when she thought about her future she found herself
regretting that she could not adopt this profession. But she knew that
the ranks were already fairly crowded, and she felt that she would have
no right to enter a profession that could barely support those who
needed it as a means of livelihood. Brenda and Belle had made many
mistakes not only in their estimation of her fortune but in the reading
of her character.

Brenda was beginning to find out her own mistakes, and when once she was
convinced of a fault she was seldom slow to acknowledge it. In the end
she would have been fair to Julia even if her cousin had not established
a certain claim upon her by her generosity towards the Rosas. For really
by giving the money so promptly she had saved Brenda from a continuation
of annoying criticism. Two hundred dollars was not an extremely large
sum for a rich girl to give to a good cause, but Julia's delicacy and
thoughtfulness made Brenda her firm friend. Belle, naturally enough, was
not so ready to change her point of view. When she did permit herself to
show greater cordiality towards Julia, it was rather because she had a
full appreciation of what it would mean to her to have a girl of Julia's
wealth her friend. It was hard for Belle to take an impersonal view of
anything, and this, perhaps, was largely the reason why she became of
less consequence in the little set which had been called "The Four
Club." As the others of the quartette grew older, Belle's selfishness
became more and more disagreeable to them. Although there was still a
quartette of friends, Julia began to have the fourth place, while Belle
gradually withdrew to the more congenial society of Frances Pounder. But
in saying this I am anticipating a little, for Belle retained her
interest in the Rosas long enough to be one of those who helped move the
little family to the little house which had been chosen for them in
Shiloh.



XXXI

THE SHILOH PICNIC


Miss South and Julia were the leaders in the work of removing the Rosas
from the city. Julia showed remarkable ability, and the more she had to
do the better she seemed to do it. Nor did her lessons suffer because of
this outside interest. The day of removal was continually changing. It
was put off from week to week with one feeble excuse or another on the
part of Mrs. Rosa. Miss South was more patient with the poor woman than
were her young helpers. She realized that the poor woman could not be
expected to appreciate all the advantages to result from the change, and
she sympathized with Mrs. Rosa's reluctance to leave her old neighbors
to go among strangers. Indeed it was the end of May before they were
really off. On the Saturday before their departure The Four, and two or
three of the other girls who had been especially interested, went out to
Shiloh to see the little cottage which had been fitted up for the Rosas.
It had only six rooms, and these were not very large, but what fun the
girls had in exploring every nook and corner! Floors and walls had all
been newly painted,--some in rather bright colors. There were small mats
in front of each bed, and one in the centre of the room intended for
dining-room, but besides these, there were no floor coverings. The
bedsteads were iron, painted brown, and all the other furniture was of
the simplest possible style.

"I am afraid," said Julia, "that Angelina will be disappointed in not
finding a piano; she has an idea that we are considering her education
as much as her mother's health in making this change, and as she happens
to be very anxious to take music lessons she will expect some kind of a
musical instrument if not a piano."

"What nonsense!" cried Belle. "Angelina ought to be thankful that she
has not been sent away as a servant. She is certainly old enough to live
out."

"If it were not for her mother's being so weak, undoubtedly we should
make some effort to put her at service. But with all those younger
children, for the present Angelina will have sufficient practice in
house-work, and she is to work every day for a boarding-house keeper; if
the family stays out here I have a plan that will be of great value not
only to Angelina, but to the rest of them. In fact," concluded Miss
South, "Angelina, if she takes kindly to the scheme, may serve as a
model for a number of other girls at the North End, who stand sadly in
need of such training as she will be able to get in this comfortable
house."

"Oh, do tell us about it now," begged Nora, "I know that you have some
plan to carry out--Domestic Science--isn't that what you call it,--but I
haven't the least idea what you really intend to do."

Miss South smiled at the eagerness which Nora displayed, smiled
indulgently, but in reply, said merely,

"I am afraid that there will hardly be time now, but in the early
autumn, if there is no opportunity before you go away, I am going to
have a special meeting to which you will all be invited, at which I will
tell you of a scheme which with your coöperation as well as that of some
other interested persons I hope to carry out next season. There really
is not time to say much about it now, for Philip and his friends will
soon be here and we must all go to work to prepare our tea."

Then the girls set to work with a will, and in addition to the delicious
things sent out in hampers, they prepared several dainty dishes. Many of
these delicacies were the result of the practice they had had in the
cooking class of the past two seasons. Julia set the table with the new
dishes that filled Mrs. Rosa's corner closet,--the closet, that is, that
was to be Mrs. Rosa's. No one criticised the thickness of the cups, nor
the crudeness of the colors with which the cups and plates were
decorated, for by the time the boys came they were all so hungry that
they could have eaten and drunk from plates and cups of tin.

It was rather a picnic supper on the whole, as the table was not large
enough for the group of merry young people who wished to gather around
it. Some of them, therefore, sat out on the steps, and on the tiny
little piazza at the corner, and laughed and talked in at the top of
their voices in the intervals between courses. Though each course
consisted of little more than a sandwich, or a stuffed egg, or a salad,
those who in turn took the part of waiters and waitresses served them
with all the pomp that might have had its proper place at a great feast.
It was all in fun, and the fun was of the heartiest kind. Then when the
supper was over, boys and girls--the dignified Philip, the serious Will,
as well as fun loving Brenda and Nora, set to work with energy, and
washed and wiped dishes, and put things in order, so that the little
house showed not the slightest trace of "invasion of the Goths and
Vandals," as Brenda said, with an unusual correctness of historical
allusion. There was a delightful drive, to wind up the evening, around
the borders of the lake which forms one of the attractions of Shiloh,
and when just at dark they stepped aboard the train they all declared
that it was the pleasantest expedition that they had known for--well for
a long, long time.

"If Mrs. Rosa were to take summer boarders, I am sure that I should love
to come out here for a month," said Ruth, "I mean if she only hadn't so
many children to fill up the house, so completely."

"If you were to come," said Will, in an undertone, "I am sure that I
should wish to spend the summer in Shiloh, too. I made friends with the
owner of the omnibus that brought us up, and I rather think that I could
get him to take me in."

Ruth blushed as Will made this speech, for even she could not help
noticing the decided preference that he showed for her society. It had
been his actions rather than his words that had attracted the attention
of the others, for he seemed in no way afraid of having his preference
known. Ruth was neither foolish, nor vain, but she had to admit to
herself that Will's little attentive ways were rather gratifying.

In the cars on the way home, Philip and Julia happened to sit together.
Philip was still somewhat conscious in his manner, for he could not
forget that he was a sophomore. Yet with Julia he always got on
capitally, and they had really become very good friends.

"Do you see much of Madame Du Launy now?" he asked. "I hear that you and
she were great friends for a time."

"Oh, we are now," answered Julia, "only naturally since she and Miss
South have discovered their relationship, I do not go there as often as
I did earlier in the spring."

"Then this story about Miss South is really true, she actually _is_ the
old lady's granddaughter!" said Philip. "I heard a lot about it just
after the Bazaar, but in some way I thought that it would prove to be a
mistake. You know that things like that do not often happen out of
books."

"Oh, this is perfectly true," answered Julia, "and the whole thing is
just as interesting as it can be. It seems very sad that Madame Du Launy
should have lived a lonely life for so long when here was a
granddaughter close at hand, and a grandson not so very far away. She
could have been such a help to them, and they to her."

"It shows that an old lady can't afford not to know who her
grandchildren are, and where they live," responded Philip, "especially
if one of them is as pretty and clever as Miss South."

"Oh, well, there were special reasons in this case," answered Julia.

"Then doesn't it seem queer," continued Philip, "that you yourself
should have had the credit all winter of being a poor dependent--isn't
that what they say in novels? How do you feel now when you know that
every one knows that you are an heiress?" he concluded, mischievously.

"Oh, pretty well, I thank you," answered Julia, adopting his tone. "You
see I never imagined for a moment that people attached any importance to
my having or not having money. Indeed, to be perfectly fair, I cannot
see any change in any one since the discovery was made."

"Whew!" whistled Philip, "not even in Belle?"

After a moment of silence, Julia replied, "I do not suppose that under
any circumstances Belle and I could ever have been great friends. Our
tastes are so unlike. In the early winter many little things troubled
me. I often felt neglected when The Four left me out of their plans,
especially while they were working for the Bazaar. But at length I
decided that I ought not to expect Brenda to treat me at once like an
intimate friend. I knew that in time she would understand me better, and
this is what has really happened. But Nora and Edith were always so kind
to me that I had a delightful winter."

"Then pity," said Philip, with a smile, "would be utterly wasted on
Brenda's cousin?"

"It would be utterly wasted on her," replied Julia, cheerfully,
"especially since she has been permitted to make a fifth in Brenda's
Four Club."


THE END



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