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Title: Ethel Morton and the Christmas Ship
Author: Smith, Mabell S. C. (Mabell Shippie Clarke), 1864-1942
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ethel Morton and the Christmas Ship" ***

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



ETHEL MORTON

AND THE

CHRISTMAS SHIP


BY

MABELL S. C. SMITH

          M. A. DONOHUE & COMPANY
          CHICAGO           NEW YORK



          Made in U. S. A.



CONTENTS


    CHAPTER                                          PAGE
      I THE UNITED SERVICE CLUB AT HOME                 9
     II DOROTHY'S COTTAGE                              18
    III THE CHRISTMAS SHIP                             26
     IV FINANCIAL PLANS                                35
      V ROGER GOES FORAGING                            47
     VI IN THE SMITH ATTIC                             57
    VII FOR A TRAVELLER'S KIT                          70
   VIII THE RED CROSS NURSE SETS SAIL                  85
     IX PLANNING THE U. S. C. "SHOW"                   90
      X THE EVENTFUL EVENING                          101
     XI "SISTER SUSIE'S SEWING SHIRTS FOR SOLDIERS"   115
    XII JAMES CUTS CORNERS                            129
   XIII PASTING                                       139
    XIV JAMES'S AFTERNOON PARTY                       151
     XV PREVENTION                                    163
    XVI FOR SANTA CLAUS'S PACK                        177
   XVII THE CLUB WEAVES, STENCILS AND MODELS CLAY     194
  XVIII ETHEL BLUE AWAITS A CABLE                     206
    XIX LEATHER AND BRASS                             211
     XX THE ETHELS COOK TO KEEP                       221
    XXI THE CHRISTMAS SHIP SAILS                      232
   XXII A WEDDING AND A SURPRISE                      242



ETHEL MORTON AND THE CHRISTMAS SHIP



CHAPTER I

THE UNITED SERVICE CLUB AT HOME


"IT'S up to Roger Morton to admit that there's real, true romance in the
world after all," decided Margaret Hancock as she sat on the Mortons'
porch one afternoon a few days after school had opened in the September
following the summer when the Mortons and Hancocks had met for the first
time at Chautauqua. James and Margaret had trolleyed over to see Roger
and Helen from Glen Point, about three quarters of an hour's ride from
Rosemont where the Mortons lived.

"Roger's ready to admit it," confessed that young man. "When you have an
aunt drop right down on your door mat, so to speak, after your family
has been hunting her for twenty years, and when you find that you've
been knowing her daughter, your own cousin, pretty well for two months
it does make the regular go-to-school life that you and I used to lead
look quite prosy."

"How did she happen to lose touch so completely with her family?"

"I told you how Grandfather Morton, her father, opposed her marrying
Uncle Leonard Smith because he was a musician. Well, she did marry him,
and when they got into straits she was too proud to tell her father
about it."

"I suppose Grandfather would have said, 'I told you so,'" suggested
Helen.

"And I believe it takes more courage than it's worth to face a person
who's given to saying that," concluded James.

"Aunt Louise evidently thought it wasn't worth while or else she didn't
have the courage and so she drifted away. Her mother was dead and she
had no sisters and Father and Uncle Richard probably didn't write very
often."

"She thought nobody at home loved her, I suppose," said Helen. "Father
and Uncle Richard did love her tremendously, but they were just young
fellows at the time and they didn't realize what their not writing meant
to her."

"Once in a while they heard of Uncle Leonard through the music papers,"
went on Roger, "but after his health failed, Aunt Louise told us the
other day, he couldn't make concert appearances and of course a man
merely playing in an orchestra isn't big enough to command public
attention."

"By the time that Grandfather Morton died about twelve years ago she was
completely lost to the family," Helen continued, "and she says she
didn't know of his death until five years after, when she came
accidentally upon some mention of it in a local paper that she picked up
somewhere."

"That was after Uncle Leonard's death, but it seemed to her that she
could not make herself known to her people without being disloyal to his
memory," Roger carried on the story.

"She probably thought that your father and uncle were just as much
opposed to him as her father had been," guessed Margaret.

"As a matter of fact, they have been hunting hard for her through every
clue that promised any result ever since Grandfather died because they
wanted to give her her share of his property."

"He didn't cut her off with a shilling, then?"

"Grandfather seems to have had a change of heart, for he left her more
than he did his sons. He said she needed it more."

"And it has been accumulating all this time."

"Seven years. That means a very pleasant increase for her and Dorothy."

"She must think rather sadly of the days when they suffered real
privation for the lack of it," said Helen.

"Anyway, here they are now, with money in their pockets and an
affectionate family all ready made for them and they are going to live
here in Rosemont near us, and Dorothy is going to school with the
Ethels, and I'm willing to admit that it comes nearer to being a romance
than anything I ever heard of in real life," and Roger nodded his head
gleefully.

"I'm glad she's going to live here so we can see her once in a while,"
said Margaret. "Mother and Sister and I all loved her at Chautauqua, she
was so patient and gentle with the people she taught. And of course we
all think Dorothy is a darling."

"The Ethels are crazy over her. They treat her as if she were some new
belonging and they can hardly bear to have her out of their sight."

"It was Grandfather Emerson who said all summer that she looked like the
Ethels," remarked Roger. "Her hair is fuzzy and her nose is puggy, but
I didn't see much other likeness."

"When she grows as fat as the Ethels I think she'll look astonishingly
like them. She's thin and pale, now, poor little dud."

"I wish she could grow as plump as Della Watkins."

"I saw Tom Watkins yesterday," said James.

"What was a haughty New Yorker doing on the Jersey side of the Hudson?"

"It seems he boards Cupid and his family at the Rosemont Kennels--you
know they're half way between here and Glen Point. He was going to call
on them."

"Dear Cupid!" laughed Margaret, recalling the bulldog's alarming face
which ill agreed with his mild name and general behavior. "Let's go over
to the Kennels and see him some day."

"His wife is named Psyche," went on James, "and they have two pups named
Amor and Amorette."

"I should think Cupid's puppy would be the funniest little animal on
earth," roared Roger. "Never, never shall I forget the day old Cupe ran
away with his market wagon," and he kicked his legs with enthusiasm.

"Did Tom say anything about coming to see us?" asked Margaret.

"He said he and Della were coming over on Saturday afternoon and he
inquired how far it was from Glen Point to Rosemont and whether they
could make two calls in one afternoon."

"Not if he stays at either place as long as we'd like to have him," said
Roger.

"Why don't we have a meeting of the United Service Club on Saturday
afternoon?" suggested Helen, "and then the Watkinses can come here and
you two can come and we can all see each other and at the same time
decide on what we are going to do this winter."

"Great head!" approved Roger. "Can you people be here?"

"We can," assented Margaret.

"And we will." James completed the sentence for her.

"Here are the children. They've been asking when we were to have the
first meeting, so I know they'll be glad to give Saturday afternoon to
it."

"The children" of Helen's patronizing expression came rushing into the
yard at the moment. Ethel Brown Morton, tall and rosy, her cheeks
flushed with running, led the way; her cousin, Ethel Blue Morton, not
quite so tall or quite so rosy, made a fair second, and their
newly-found cousin, Dorothy Smith, brought up the rear, panting a trifle
harder than the rest, but already looking plumper and sturdier than she
had during the summer at Chautauqua.

They greeted Margaret and James gladly, and sat down on the steps of the
porch to engage in the conversation.

"Hullo," a voice came through the screen door. "I'm coming out."

"That must be my friend Dicky," declared James. "Come on, old man," and
he arranged his knees in position to serve as a seat for the
six-year-old who calmly sat himself down upon them.

"How are you?" questioned James gravely. "All right?"

"Firtht rate," replied Dicky briefly. "Have a thuck?" and he offered
James the moist end of an all-day-sucker, withdrawing it from his own
mouth for the purpose.

"Thank you, I'm not eating candy to-day, sir," responded James
seriously. "Much obliged to you, all the same."

Dicky nodded his recognition of James's thanks and resumed his
occupation.

"It keeps us still though we're not pretty to look at as we do it,"
commented Ethel Brown.

"You're talking about me," asserted Dicky suddenly, once more removing
his sucker from his increasingly sticky lips and fixing an accusing eye
upon his sister.

"She was, Dicky, that's true," interposed Helen quickly, "but she loves
you just as much as if she were talking about Roger."

Dicky regarded this as a compliment and subsided against James's chest.

"We're going to try and get the Watkinses to come out next Saturday
afternoon and the Hancocks will come over and we'll have a meeting of
the United Service," explained Roger to the new arrivals.

"Good enough!" approved Ethel Brown.

"What are you going to do, Madam President?" inquired Ethel Blue, who
felt a lively interest in any future plans because the Club was her
idea.

"We'll all think of things between now and Saturday, and suggest them
then."

"Tell the Watkinses when you write to them, Helen."

"I'm just boiling over with ideas for the Club to put into execution
some time or other," announced Roger.

"Big ones or little?" asked Dorothy.

"Some of them are pretty big, but I have a feeling in my bones that
they'll go through."

"Good for old Roger's bones!" commended James. "May we venture to ask
what some of them are?"

"'Nothing venture, nothing have,'" quoted Roger. "I'm merely saying now,
however, that the biggest scheme is one that I told Grandfather Emerson
about the other day and he said he'd help by giving us the house for
it."

"What should we do that would need a house?"

"What do you mean--house?"

Roger grinned delightedly at the commotion he had caused.

"This plan I have is so big that we'll have to get the grown-ups to help
us, but we'll do most of the carrying out ourselves in spite of that."

"I should think we would have to have their help if your plan calls for
a house."

"You needn't be sarcastic, young woman. This is a perfectly good
scheme--Grandfather said so. He said it was so good that he was willing
to back it and to help us by supplying the house we should need."

"Poor old Roger--gone clean crazy," sighed James.

"I almost think so," agreed Helen.

"Let me tell you something, you scoffers----"

"Tell on; that's what we're waiting for."

"Well, on the whole, I guess I won't tell you a thing about it."

"If you aren't the very meanest boy I ever knew in my life," decided
Margaret whole-heartedly. "To work our curiosity all up this way and
then not to tell us a thing."

"I didn't get the encouragement that the plan deserved."

"Like all great inventors," commented James.

"They all come out on top at the end, I notice," retorted Roger. "You
just watch me about next April when the buds begin to swell."

"Heads begin to swell at any time of year, apparently."

"Especially bad cases begin in the autumn--about September."

"Oh, you wait, just wait," threatened Roger. "When you haven't an idea
what to do to make the Club really useful for another minute then you'll
recall that I promised you a really big plan. _Then_--"

"If you aren't going to tell us now I think we'd better talk about
something that has some connection with what we're going to do in
September instead of this April Fool thing of yours," said Helen
somewhat sharply.

"Let's not talk about it until Saturday," begged Ethel Blue. "Then we
can all put our minds on it."

"I rise to remark, Madam President," continued James, "that I believe
this Club has a great future before it if it does not get involved in
wildcat schemes--"

"Now listen to that!" exclaimed Roger. "There speaks the canny Scot that
was James's great-grandfather. Cautious old Hancock! Now you really have
got me riled. I vow to you, fellow-clubmen and -women that I won't be
the first to propose this scheme again. You'll have to come to me. And
I'll prophesy that you will come to me about the first of next April."

"Why April?"

"Nothing to do with April Fool, I assure you. But about that time we
shall have worked off all the ideas that we've cooked up to carry us
through the winter and we'll be glad to undertake a service that is a
service--the real thing."

"We're going to do the real thing all the time." Ethel Blue defended her
idea. "But I dare say we'll want to do your thing, too."

"Grandfather's recommendation doesn't seem to count with you young
know-it-alls."

"Grandfather's recommendation is the only reason why our remarks weren't
more severe," retorted Ethel Brown.

"Each of us must bring in a list next Saturday," said Helen, as they all
walked to the corner to see that the Hancocks took the car safely.

"And I believe that every one will be a perfectly good plan," said Roger
magnanimously.

"There won't be one that will require a house to hold it anyway,"
retorted Margaret.



CHAPTER II

DOROTHY'S COTTAGE


ROSEMONT and Glen Point were two New Jersey towns near enough to New
York to permit business men to commute every day and far enough away
from the big city to furnish plenty of air and space for the growing
generation. It was the latter qualification that endeared them to the
Morton and Hancock families, for there were no commuters in their
households. Lieutenant Morton, father of Roger and Helen and Ethel Brown
and Dicky, was on his ship in the harbor of Vera Cruz. Captain Morton,
his brother, father of Ethel Blue, had returned to Gen. Funston's army
after finding their sister, Mrs. Smith, at Chautauqua and convoying her
with all the Mortons and Mrs. Morton's father and mother, Mr. and Mrs.
Emerson, back to Rosemont. His short furlough did not allow him to
remain long enough to see his sister established in a house of her own,
but it was understood that she was to hire a furnished house as near as
possible to the Mortons' and live in it until she made up her mind where
she wanted to build.

"Dorothy and I have wandered about the United States so long," she said
plaintively, "that we are thankful to settle down in a town and a house
that we can call our own, and we shall be even happier when we have a
bungalow actually belonging to us."

At present they were still staying with the Mortons, but the Morton
family was so large that two visitors crowded them uncomfortably and
Mrs. Smith felt that she must not trespass upon her sister-in-law's
hospitality longer than was absolutely necessary.

"I think the white cottage just around the corner will be the one that
we will take," she said to Dorothy. "Come with me there again this
afternoon for one more look at it, and then we'll make up our minds."

So they went to the white cottage and carefully studied its merits.

"The principal good thing about it is that it is near Aunt Marion's,"
declared Dorothy.

"I think so, too. And it is near school and church and the butcher's and
baker's and candlestick-maker's. We shan't have very far to walk for
anything."

"Oh, Mother, it doesn't seem possible that this can be _us_ really
living and not just perching around, and having enough money and enough
to eat and nothing to worry about."

Mrs. Smith threw her arm about Dorothy's shoulder.

"The thing for you to do to show your gratitude is to grow well and
strong just as fast as you can. I want to see you as rosy as the
Ethels."

"They run me around so much that I think they'll do it for me before
very long."

"They have a start, though, so you'll have to do all the vigorous things
that they do and others too."

"You mean exercises at home?"

"Every morning when you get up you should do what a cat does when he
wakes from a nap."

"I know--he stretches himself way out to the tips of his claws."

"And shakes himself all over. What do you suppose he's doing it for?"

"To stretch his muscles, I should think."

"And to loosen his skin and make himself generally flexible. Have you
ever seen a sick cat? His coat looks dull and dry and woolly instead of
silky, and when you feel of him his skin doesn't slip over his bones
easily. It wouldn't be very complimentary to ourselves to say that you
and I are sick cats just now, but it wouldn't be far from the truth."

"I don't much like the sound of it," laughed Dorothy. "What can we
invalid pussies do to get well?"

"A few simple exercises we ought to take every morning when we first get
out of bed. We ought to stand first on one foot and then on the other,
and swing vigorously the foot that is off the floor."

"That's easy."

"Then if we stretch our arms upward as high as we can, first one and
then the other and then both, and then put our hands on the ribs of each
side and stretch and lift them we shall have limbered up the lower and
the upper parts of ourselves pretty thoroughly."

"I learned a good exercise for the waist muscles at the Girls' Club last
summer. You sit down and roll the body at the waist line in all
directions. You can do it standing, too; that brings in some different
muscles."

"We'll do that. These few exercises will wake up every part of the
body."

"We ought to do them with the windows open."

"When you first wake up after having the windows wide open all night you
don't realize the cold in your room. It isn't until you have been to a
warmer room that you notice the cold in your bedroom. So the best time
to take these exercises is just the minute you hop out of bed. Stand in
front of the open window and take deep breaths of air way down into the
very lower tips of your lungs so that every tiny cell will be puffed out
with good, fresh oxygen."

"It will take a lot of time to do all those exercises."

"Five minutes every morning will be enough if we do them vigorously. And
you mustn't forget that your aim is to catch up with the Ethels."

"And then to beat them. I'll do it."

They went slowly through the cottage and planned the purpose to which
they would put each room. It was simply furnished, but all the
necessities were there.

"It's more fun this way than if there were a lot of furniture," said
Dorothy, "because we can get what is lacking to suit ourselves."

"All the time that we are here we can be making plans for building our
own little house."

"I can hardly wait to have it."

They hugged each other in their happiness and the tears were not far
from the eyelids of both of them, for Mrs. Smith had not known anything
but the actual necessities of living for many years and Dorothy had
never known many comforts that had been every day matters and not
luxuries to her mother's youth.

So Mrs. Smith hired the white cottage and she and Dorothy moved in at
once. A cousin of Mary, Mrs. Morton's old servant, who had been Dicky's
nurse, came to work for them, and by the time of the first meeting of
the United Service Club Dorothy felt so settled in her new home that she
wanted to have the meeting in the living-room or the big attic just to
see how it felt to be entertaining people in her own house.

"I think I wouldn't suggest it this time," Mrs. Smith warned her. "Helen
is the president, you see, and it seems more suitable for the first
meeting to be held at her house. Ask if you mayn't have the next one
here. How often are you going to meet?"

"I hope it will be once a week, and so does Ethel Blue. She thinks
there's plenty of occupation to keep a service club busy all the time."

At noon the sun disappeared and the Rosemont members of the U. S. C.
began to have doubts as to whether the Hancocks and Watkinses would
appear.

"Even if it rains hard I think James and Margaret will come," said
Helen. "The trolley brings them almost from their door to ours; but I
don't feel so sure about the Watkinses."

"It doesn't take but ten minutes longer for them to come out from New
York than for the Hancocks to come over from Glen Point."

"But they have to cross the ferry and take the train and it seems more
of an undertaking than just to hop into a street car."

"It's getting so dark and gloomy--what do you say if you Ethels make
some candy to enliven the afternoon?"

"Is there time before they come?"

"Just about. Try Vinegar Candy this time. If you leave half of it
unstirred and stir the other half it will be as good as two kinds, you
know."

So the Ethels went off into a pantry back of the kitchen, where Mrs.
Morton had had a small gas stove installed so that the children might
cook to their hearts' content without interfering with the occupants of
the kitchen.

"There's nothing that upsets people who are trying to make a house run
smoothly and to do its work promptly and well as to have children come
into the kitchen and use the stove when it is needed for other purposes,
and get in the way and leave their cooking apparatus around and their
pots and pans uncleaned," declared Mrs. Morton.

So the Ethels and Helen, and Roger, too, for he was a capital cook and
was in great demand whenever the boys went on camping trips, all
contributed from their allowances to buy a simple equipment for this
tiny kitchen which they called their own. Mrs. Morton paid for the
stove, but the saucepans and baking tins, the flour and sugar and eggs,
the flavoring extracts and the seasonings were all supplied by the
children, and it was understood that when a cooking fit seized them they
must think out beforehand what they were going to want and provide
themselves with it and not call on the cook or Mary to help them out of
an emergency caused by their own thoughtlessness. Mrs. Morton was sure
that her reputation as a sensible mother who did not let the children
over-run the kitchen at times when they were decidedly in the way was
one of the chief reasons why her servants stayed with her so long.

So now Ethel Brown said to Ethel Blue, "Have we got all the materials we
need for Vinegar Candy?" and Ethel Blue seized the cook book and read
the receipt.

"Mix together three cupfuls of sugar, half a cupful of vinegar, half a
cupful of water. When it comes to a boil stir in one teaspoonful of
soda."

"We've got sugar and soda and water," announced Ethel Brown after
investigating the shelves of the tiny storeroom, "but there isn't any
vinegar. I do hate to go out in this rain," for the dark sky was making
good its threat.

"I'll get it for you. Give me your jug," said Roger, swinging into his
raincoat. "I'll be back in half a jiff," and he dashed off into the
downpour, shaking his head like a Newfoundland dog, and spattering the
drops as he ran.

He was back before the Ethels had their pans buttered and the water and
sugar measured, so briskly had he galloped. It was only a few minutes
more before the candy stiffened when a little was dropped into a cup of
cold water.

"Now we'll pour half of it into one of the pans," directed Ethel Brown,
"and then we'll get Roger to beat the other half so it will be creamy."

Roger was entirely willing to lend his muscles to so good a cause and
soon had the mass grained and white.

"Good work; one boiling for two batches!" he declared. "That pleases my
notions of scientific management."

When the door-bell rang for the first arrivals the whole thing was
almost cold, and Mary, who was always willing to help in an emergency,
hastened the chilling process by popping the tins into the ice box.

"They're not warm enough any longer to melt the ice," she decided, "so
I'll just hurry 'em up a bit."

After all the discussion about the city dwellers' dislike of going into
the suburbs it was the Watkinses who came first.

"We're ahead of the hour," apologized Della. "We couldn't time ourselves
exactly for so long a distance."

"The Hancocks will come just on the dot, I've no doubt," laughed Tom.
"Old James is just that accurate person!"

As the clock's hand was on the appointed minute a whir at the bell
announced Margaret and James, both dripping from their run from the
corner.

"Mrs. Morton's compliments and she thought they had better drink this so
they won't get cold."

"Our compliments and thanks to Mrs. Morton," returned Tom, his hand
dramatically placed over a portion of his person which is said to be the
gateway to a boy's heart.

When the cups had been emptied and the wafers consumed and the Ethels
had taken away the tray with the remains of the feast and had brought
back the two kinds of candy, carefully cut into squares and heaped in
two of the pretty Japanese bowls which made a part of their private
kitchen equipment, they all settled down in big chairs and on couches
except Roger, who sat near the fire to stir it, and Helen, who
established herself at one end of the table where she could see them all
conveniently.



CHAPTER III

THE CHRISTMAS SHIP


"THE meeting will come to order," commanded Helen, her face bubbling
with the conflict between her dignity and her desire to laugh at her
dignity.

"We haven't any secretary, so there can't be any minutes of the last
meeting."

Helen glanced sidewise at James, for she was talking about something she
never had had occasion to mention in all her life before and she
wondered if he were being properly impressed with the ease with which
she spoke of the non-existent minutes.

James responded to her look with an expression of surprise so comical
that Helen almost burst into laughter most unsuitable for the presiding
officer of so distinguished a gathering.

"Oughtn't we to have a secretary?" asked Tom. "If we're going to have a
really shipshape club this winter it seems to me we ought to have some
record of what we do."

"And there may be letters to write," urged Roger, "and who'd do them?"

"Not old Roger, I'll bet!" cried James in humorous scorn.

"I don't notice that anybody is addressing the chair," remarked Helen
sternly, and James flushed, for he had been the president's instructor
in parliamentary law at the meeting when the Club was organized, and he
did not relish being caught in a mistake.

"Excuse me, Madam President," he apologized.

"I don't see any especial need for a secretary, Miss President," said
Margaret, "but can't we tell better when we're a little farther along
and know what we're going to do?"

"Perhaps so," agreed Helen. "There isn't any treasurer's report for the
same reason that there isn't any secretary's," she continued.

"Just to cut off another discussion I'd like to repeat my remark," said
Margaret.

"If we become multi-millionaires later on we can appoint a treasurer
then," said Della, her round face unusually grave.

"Instead of a secretary's report it seems to me it would be interesting
to remember what the Club did last summer to live up to its name,"
suggested Tom. "You know Della and I weren't elected until after you'd
been going some time, and I'm not sure that I know everything that
happened."

The Mortons and Dorothy and the Hancocks looked around at each other
rather vaguely, and no one seemed in a hurry to begin.

"It looks to me as if a secretary is almost a necessity," grinned Tom,
"if nobody remembers anything you did!"

"There were lots of little things that don't seem to count when you look
back on them," began Ethel Blue.

"We did some things as a Club," said Roger, "and we can tell Watkins
about those without embarrassing anybody."

"Our first effort was on Old First Night," said Margaret thoughtfully.
"Don't you remember we went outside the gate and picked flowers and
decorated the stage?"

"In the evening James and Roger passed the baskets to collect the
offering in the Amphitheatre," Ethel Blue said. "And then we all did
things that helped along in the Pageant and on Recognition Day."

"I don't think those really counted for much as service," said Helen,
"because they were all of them mighty good fun."

"I think we ought to do whatever will help somebody, whether we like it
or not," declared Ethel Blue, "but I don't see why we shouldn't hunt up
pleasant things to do."

"What are we going to do, anyway?" asked Della. "Has anybody any ideas?
Oh, please excuse me, Helen--Miss President--perhaps it wasn't time to
ask that question."

"I was just about to ask for suggestions," said Helen with dignity. "Has
any one come across anything that we can do here in Rosemont or in Glen
Point or in New York? Anything that will be an appropriate beginning for
the United Service Club? We want to do something that would be suitable
for the children of our father and uncle who are serving in the Army and
Navy trying to keep peace in Mexico, and of a man like Doctor Hancock,
who is serving his fellowmen in the slums every day, and of a clergyman
who is helping people to do right all the time."

Helen flushed over this long speech.

"Rosemont, Glen Point, and New York--a wide field," said Tom dryly. "It
seems as if we might find something without much trouble."

"I thought of the orphanage in Glen Point," said Margaret.

"What is there for us to do for the kids there that the grown people
don't do?" asked Roger.

"The grown people contribute clothes and food and all the necessaries,
but sometimes when I've been there it seemed as if the children didn't
have much of any of the little nothings that boys and girls in their own
homes have. It seemed to me that perhaps we could make a lot of things
that weren't especially useful but were just pretty; things that we'd
like to have ourselves."

"I know just how they feel, I believe," said Margaret. "One of my aunts
thinks that perfectly plain clothes are all that are necessary and she
won't let my cousins have any ruffles or bows. It makes them just
miserable. They're crazy for something that 'isn't useful.'"

"How would it do to get together a lot of things for Christmas for the
orphans? We might offer to trim a tree for them. Or to give each one of
them a foolish present or a pretty one to offset the solid things the
grown-ups will give."

"When I was a kid," observed James, "I used to consider it a mean fraud
if I had clothing worked off on me as Christmas presents. My parents had
to clothe me anyway; why should they put those necessities among my
Christmas gifts which were supposed to be extras!"

"There you are again; what people want in this world of pain and woe,
ye-ho, he-ho," chanted Roger, "is the things they can go without."

"Has any one thought of anybody else we can benefit?" questioned Helen.
"We might as well have all the recommendations we can."

"There's an old couple down by the bridge on South Street," said Roger.
"I've often noticed them. They're all bent up and about a thousand years
old. We might keep an eye on them."

"I know about them," contributed Ethel Brown. "I asked about them. They
have a son who takes care of them. He gives them money every week, so
they aren't suffering, but they both have the rheumatism frightfully so
they can't go out much and I shouldn't wonder if they'd like a party
some time, right in their own house. If we could go there and sing them
some songs and Dicky could speak his piece about the cat and we could do
some shadow pantomimes on a sheet and then have a spread, I believe
they'd have as good a time as if they'd been to the movies."

"We'll do it." Tom slapped his leg. "I'll sing 'em a solo myself."

Groans rose from James and Roger.

"Poor old things! What have you got against them?"

"Oh, well, if you're jealous of my voice--of course I wouldn't for the
world arouse any hard feelings, Madam President. I withdraw my offer.
But mark ye, callow youths," he went on dramatically, "the day will come
when I'm a Caruso and you'll be sorry to have to remember that you did
your best to discourage a genius that would not be discouraged!"

"The meeting will come to order." Helen rapped for quiet, for the
entire room was rocking to and fro over Tom's praise of one of the
hoarsest voices ever given to boy or man.

"We'll give the old people a good show, even if Tom does back out,"
cried Roger. "I wish we had a secretary to put down these suggestions.
I'm afraid we'll forget them."

"So am I," agreed Helen. "Let's vote for a secretary. Roger, pass around
some paper and pencils and let's ballot."

Roger did as he was bid, and Ethel Brown and Della collected the ballots
and acted as tellers.

"The tellers will declare the vote," announced Helen, who had been
conferring with James while the balloting was going on, and had learned
the proper parliamentary move. Margaret had coached Ethel Brown so that
she made her report in proper style.

"Total number of votes cast, eight; necessary to a choice, five.
Margaret has one, Dorothy has one, Roger has two, Ethel Brown has one,
Ethel Blue has three. Nobody has enough."

"Have we got to vote over again?" Helen asked of James.

"I move you, Madam President, that we consider the person receiving the
highest number of votes as the person elected and that we make the
election unanimous."

"Is the motion seconded?"

Cries of "Yes," "I second it," "So do I," came from all over the room
and included a call from Ethel Blue. Roger pealed with laughter.

"Ethel Blue means to get there," he shouted.

"I do? What have I done?" demanded Ethel Blue, so embarrassed at this
attack that the tears stood in her eyes.

"Why, you're the person who's receiving a unanimous election," returned
Roger, between gasps. "You've made it unanimous, yourself, all right."

Poor Ethel Blue leaned back in her chair without saying a word.

"Roger, you're too mean," cried Helen. "Don't you mind a word he says,
Ethel Blue. It's very hard to follow votes and it isn't at all
surprising that you didn't understand."

"What does it mean?"

"It means that you're elected secretary."

"But there weren't enough votes."

"You had three and Roger had two, and nobody else had more than one.
When one candidate has more than the rest he may be considered as
elected, even if he didn't get the right number of votes--that is, if
everybody agrees to it."

"And you agreed to it," chuckled Roger.

"Stop, Roger. You're our new secretary, Ethel Blue, and it's very
suitable that you should be, for the club was your idea and you ought to
be an officer. Roger, give Ethel Blue your pencil and the rest of that
paper you had for the ballots. Come and sit next to me, Ethel."

Ethel Blue felt that honors were being thrust upon her much against her
will, but she was afraid that she would make some other mistake if she
objected, so she meekly took the pencil and paper from Roger and began
to note down the proceedings.

"We've had a suggestion from Glen Point and one from Rosemont--let's
hear from New York," said the president. "Della--anything to say?"

"Papa can suggest lots of people that we can help if we ask him," said
Della. "I didn't ask him because I thought that perhaps you'd have some
pet charities out here where there aren't so many helping hands as there
are in New York."

"How about you, Tom?"

"To tell you the truth," responded Tom gravely, "I didn't think up
anything to suggest this afternoon because my mind has been so full of
the war that I can't seem able to think about anything else."

Everybody grew serious at once. The war seemed very close to the
Mortons, although it was a war across the sea, because they knew what it
would mean to their father and uncle if ever our country should be
involved in war. The thought of their own mental suffering and their
anxiety if Captain and Lieutenant Morton should ever be sent to the
front had given them a keen interest in what had been going on in Europe
for six weeks.

"I read the newspapers all the time," went on Tom, "and I dare say I
don't gain much real information from them, but at least I'm having
ground into my soul every day the hideous suffering that all this
fighting is bringing upon the women and children. The men may die, but
at least they can fight for their lives. The women and children have to
sit down and wait for death or destruction to come their way."

"It's too big a situation for us way off here to grasp," said Roger
slowly, "but there are people on the spot who are trying to give
assistance, and if Americans could only get in touch with them it seems
as if help might be handed along the way we handed the water buckets
last summer when the cottage was on fire."

"The Red Cross is working in all the countries that are at war," said
Helen. "There's an American Red Cross and people are sending clothing
and food to the New York branch and they are sending them on to Europe.
That's Roger's bucket brigade idea."

"Why don't we work for the Red Cross?" asked Della.

"I saw in the paper a plan that seems better still for us youngsters,"
said Ethel Blue. "Some people are going to send over a Christmas ship
with thousands and thousands of presents for the orphans and the other
children all over Europe. Why don't we work for that? For the Santa
Claus Ship?"

"'Charity begins at home,'" demurred Margaret.

"We needn't forget the Glen Point orphans. The Christmas Ship is going
to sail early in November and we'll have plenty of time after she gets
off to carry out those other schemes that we've spoken of."

"I'd like to move," said Ethel Brown, getting on to her feet to make her
action more impressive, "that the United Service Club devote itself
first to preparing a bundle to send off on the Christmas Ship. After
that's done we can see what comes next."

"Does any one second the motion, that we work first for the Christmas
Ship?" asked Helen.

Every voice in the room cried "I do."

"All in favor?" There was a chorus of "Ayes."

"Contrary minded?" Not a sound arose.

"It's a unanimous vote that we start right in on the bundle for the
Santa Claus Ship."



CHAPTER IV

FINANCIAL PLANS


"This parliamentary business fusses me," exclaimed Helen. "Let's just
talk, now that we've decided what we are going to do."

"Take a more comfortable chair," suggested Tom, pulling over a Morris
chair nearer the fire.

Roger stirred up the flames and tossed on some pine cones.

"These cones remind me that our old people down by the bridge might like
some. They have a funny open stove that they could use them in."

"What are they good for? Kindling?" asked Della.

"Ha! There speaks the city lady used only to steam! Certainly they are
good for kindling on account of the pitch that's in them, but they're
also great in an open fire to brighten it up when it is sinking somewhat
and one or two at a time tossed on to a clear fire make a pretty sight."

"And a pretty snapping sound," added Dorothy, remembering the cones from
the long leaf pines.

"Our old couple gets a bushel on Monday afternoon if it ever stops
raining," promised Roger. "Dicky loves to pick them up, so he'll help."

"The honorary member of the United Service Club does his share of
service work right nobly," declared James, who was a great friend of
Dicky's.

"The thing for us to do first is to decide how we are to begin," said
Helen.

"We might talk over the kinds of presents that the war orphans would
like and then see which of them any of us can make," suggested Margaret
wisely.

"Any sort of clothing would come in mighty handy, I should think,"
guessed James, "and I don't believe the orphans would have my early
prejudices against receiving it for Christmas gifts."

"Poor little creatures, I rather suspect Santa Claus will be doing his
heaviest work with clothing this year."

"As far as clothing is concerned," said Margaret, "we needn't put a
limit on the amount we send or the sizes or the kinds. The distributors
will be able to use everything they can lay their hands on when the
Christmas Ship comes in and for many months later."

"Then let's inquire of our mothers what there is stowed away that we can
have and let's look over our own things and weed out all we can that
would be at all suitable and that our mothers will let us give away, and
report here at the next meeting."

"While we're talking about the next meeting," broke in Dorothy while the
others were nodding their assent to Helen's proposition, "won't you
please come to my house next time?"

"We certainly will," agreed Della and Margaret.

"You bet," came from the boys.

"And Mother told me to offer the Club the use of our attic to store our
stuff in. It's a big place with almost nothing in it."

"I'm sure Aunt Marion will be glad not to have anything else go into her
attic," said Ethel Blue, and all the Mortons laughed as they thought of
the condition of the Morton attic, whose walls were almost bulging with
its contents.

"If that's settled we must remember to address all our bundles to 'Mrs.
Leonard Smith, Church Street, Rosemont,'" James reminded them.

"It seems to me," Ethel Brown said slowly, thinking as she spoke, "that
we might collect more clothing than we shall be able to find in our own
families."

"There are a good many of us," suggested Della.

"There are two Watkinses and two Hancocks and five Mortons and one
Smith--that's ten, but if the rest of you are like the Morton family--we
wear our clothes pretty nearly down to the bone."

All the Mortons pealed at this and the rest could not help joining in.

"One thing we must not do," declared Helen. "We must not send a single
old thing that isn't in perfect order. It's a poor present that you have
to sit down and mend."

"We certainly won't," agreed Margaret. "I wear my clothes almost down to
the skeleton, too, but I know I have some duds that I can make over into
dresses for small children. I'm gladder every day that we took that
sewing course last summer, Helen."

"Me, too. My dresses--or what's left of them--usually adorn Ethel
Brown's graceful frame, but perhaps Mother will let us have for the
orphans the clothes that would ordinarily go to Ethel Brown."

Ethel Brown looked worried.

"Ethel Brown doesn't know whether that will mean that she'll have to go
without or whether she'll have new clothes instead of the
hand-me-downs," laughed Roger.

"I don't care," cried Ethel Brown. "I'd just as lief go without new
clothes if Mother will let the Club have the money they'd cost."

"I've been thinking," said Tom, "that we're going to need money to work
this undertaking through successfully. How are we going to get it?"

"But shall we need any to speak of?" inquired Margaret. "Fixing up our
old clothes won't cost more than we can meet ourselves out of our
allowances. I'm going to ask my Aunt Susy to let me have some of the
girls' old things. The girls will be delighted; they're the ones who
have the plain clothes."

"We'll fix them up with ruffles and bows before we send them away,"
smiled Helen.

"Why can't we ask everybody we come across for old clothes?" Ethel Blue
wondered.

"Grandmother Emerson would be sure to have something in her attic and I
shouldn't wonder if she'd be willing to ask the ladies at the Guild if
they'd contribute," said Helen.

"Do we want to take things from outside of the Club?" objected Ethel
Brown.

"I don't see why not," answered Margaret. "The idea is to get together
for the orphans as many presents as possible, no matter where they come
from. We're serving the orphans if we work as collectors just as much as
if we made the clothes ourselves."

"Right-o," agreed Roger. "Let's tackle everybody we can on the old clo'
question. We can ask the societies in our churches--"

"Why not in all the churches in town?" dared Ethel Blue.

The idea brought a pause, for the place was small enough for the
churches to meet each other with an occasional rub.

"I believe that's a good idea," declared Tom, and as a clergyman's son
they listened to his views with respect. "All the churches ought to be
willing to come together on the neutral ground of this club and if we
are willing to take the responsibility of doing the gathering and the
packing and the expressing to the Christmas Ship I believe they'll be
glad to do just the rummaging in their attics and the mending up."

"We needn't limit their offerings to clothes, either," said Della.
"We'll take care of anything they'll send in."

"Let's put it up to them, I say," cried Roger. "There's at least one
member of the Morton family in every society in our church and we ought
to get the subject before every one of those groups of people by the end
of next week and start things booming."

"We'll do the same at Glen Point," agreed Margaret.

"I can't promise quite as much for New York, because I don't know what
Father's plans are for war relief work in his church, but I do feel
pretty sure he'll suggest some way of helping us," said Della.

"That's decided, then--we'll lay our paws on everything we can get from
every source," Tom summed up the discussion. "Now I come back to what I
said a few minutes ago--I think we're going to need more money to run
this association than we're going to be able to rake up out of our own
allowances, unless Margaret's is a good deal bigger than mine," and he
nodded toward Margaret, who had objected to the more-money idea when he
had offered it before.

"Just tell me how we'll need more," insisted Margaret.

"I figure it out that the part we boys will have to do in this
transaction will be to district this town and Glen Point and make a
house to house appeal for clothes and any sort of thing that would do
for a Christmas present, all to be sent to Mrs. Smith's."

"That won't cost anything but a few carfares, and you can stand those,"
insisted Margaret.

"Carfares are all right and even a few express charges for some people
who for some reason aren't able to deliver their parcels at Mrs. Smith's
house. But if you girls are going to make over some of these clothes and
perhaps make new garments you'll need some cash to buy materials with."

"Perhaps some of the dry goods people will contribute the materials."

"Maybe they will. But you mark my words--the cost of a little here and a
little there mounts up amazingly in work of this sort and I know we're
going to need cash."

"Tom's right," confirmed Della. "He's helped Father enough to know."

The idea of needing money, which they did not have, was depressing to
the club members who sat around the fire staring into it gloomily.

"The question is, how to get it," went on Tom.

"People might give us money just as well as cloth, I suppose," suggested
Margaret.

"I think it would be a thousand times more fun to make the money
ourselves," said Ethel Blue.

"The infant's right," cried Tom. "It will be more fun and what's more
important still, nobody can boss us because he's given us a five dollar
bill."

"I suppose somebody might try," murmured Helen.

"They would," cried Tom and Della in concert.

"We aren't a clergyman's children for nothing," Tom went on humorously.
"The importance a five dollar bill can have in the eyes of the giver and
the way it swells in size as it leaves his hands is something that few
people realize who haven't seen it happen."

"Let's be independent," cried Dorothy decidedly, and her wish was
evidently to the mind of all the rest, for murmurs of approval went
around the room.

"But if we're so high and mighty as not to take money contributions and
if we nevertheless need money, what in the mischief are we going to do
about it?" inquired Roger.

"We must earn it," said Helen. "I'll contribute the money Mother is
going to pay me for making a dozen middy blouses for the Ethels. She
ordered them from me last summer when I began to take the sewing course
and I haven't quite finished them yet, but I'll have the last one done
this week if I can get home from school promptly for a day or two."

"I can make some baskets for the Woman's Exchange," said Dorothy.

"I learned how to make Lady Baltimore cake the other day," said
Margaret, "and I'll go to some ladies in Glen Point who are going to
have teas soon and ask them for orders."

"I can make cookies," murmured Ethel Brown, "but I don't know who'd buy
them."

"You tell the kids at school that you've gone into the cooky business
and you'll have all the work you can do for a while," prophesied Roger.
"I know your cookies; they're bully."

"I don't notice that we boys are mentioning any means of making money,"
remarked James dryly. "I confess I'm stumped."

"I know what you can do," suggested Margaret. "Father said this morning
that he was going to get a chauffeur next week if he could find one that
wouldn't rob him of all the money he made. You can run the car--why
don't you offer to work half time--afternoons after school, for half
pay? That would help Father and he'd rather have you than a strange
man."

"He'd rather have half time, too. He likes to run the car himself, only
he gets tired running it all day on heavy days. Great head, Sis," and
James made a gesture of stroking his sister's locks, to which she
responded by making a face.

"I know what I can do," said Roger. "You know those bachelor girls about
seventy-five apiece, over on Church Street near Aunt Louise's--the Miss
Clarks? Well, they had an awful time last year getting their furnace
attended to regularly. They had one man who proved to be a--er," Roger
hesitated.

"Not a total abstainer?" inquired James elegantly.

"Thank you, Brother Hancock, for the use of your vocabulary. The next
one stole the washing off the line, and the next one--Oh, I don't know
what he did, but the Miss Clarks were in a state of mind over the
furnace and the furnace man all winter. Now, suppose I offer to take
care of their furnace for them this winter? I believe they'd have me."

"I think they'd be mighty glad to get you," confirmed Helen. "Could you
do that and take care of ours, too?"

"Sure thing, if I put my mind on it and don't chase off with the fellows
every time I feel in the mood."

"Mother would like to have you take care of ours if you could manage
three," said Dorothy.

"I'll do it," and Roger thumped his knee with decision.

"I wouldn't undertake too much," warned Helen. "It will mean a visit
three times a day at each house, you know, and the last one pretty late
in the evening."

"I'm game," insisted Roger. "You know I can be as steady as an old horse
when I put my alleged mind on it. Mother never had any kick coming over
my work in the furnace department last winter."

"She said you did it splendidly, but this means three times as much."

"I'll do it," and Roger nodded his head solemnly.

"It seems to be up to Della and me to tell what we can do," said Tom
meditatively. "Father's secretary is away on a three months' holiday and
I'm doing his typewriting for him and some other office stunts--as much
as I can manage out of school hours. I'll turn over my pay to the Club
treasury."

This was greeted with applause.

"I don't seem to have any accomplishments," sighed Della, her round head
on one side. "The only thing I can think of is that I heard the ladies
who have charge of the re-furnishing of the Rest Room in the Parish
House say that they were going to find some one to stencil the window
curtains. I might see if they'd let me do it and pay me. I didn't take
that class at the Girls' Club last summer, but Dorothy and Ethel Brown
could teach me."

"Of course."

"Or you could get the order from them, I'd fill it, and you could make
the baskets for the Woman's Exchange," offered Dorothy.

Della brightened. That was a better arrangement.

"Try it," nodded Tom. "If you turn out one order well you'll get more;
see if you don't."

"Our honorary member, Mr. Dicky Morton, might sell newspapers since he
got broken in to that business last summer," laughed Ethel Brown.
"Mother wouldn't let him do it here, I know, but he can weave awfully
pretty things that he learned at the kindergarten and if there are any
bazars this fall he could sell some of them on commission."

"Dicky really understands about the Club. I think he'd like to do
something for the orphans," Helen agreed.

"Ladies and gentlemen," announced Ethel Blue, rising in her excitement;
"I have a perfectly grand, galoptious idea. Why do we wait for somebody
else to get up a bazar to sell Dicky's weaving? Let's have a bazar of
our own. Why can't we have a fair with some tables, and ice cream and
cake for sale and an entertainment of some kind in the evening? We all
know all sorts of stunts; we can do the whole thing ourselves. If we
announce that we are doing it for the Christmas Ship I believe everybody
in town would come--"

"--And in Glen Point and New York," Roger mocked her enthusiasm.

"You know we could fill the School Hall as easy as fiddle, Roger. You
see everybody would know what we were at work on because we are going to
begin collecting the clothes right off, so everybody will be
interested."

Tom nodded approval.

"Perhaps we can do the advertising act when we do the collecting."

"If I drive Father, I see myself ringing up all the neighboring houses
while he's in on his case," said James, "and it's just as easy to talk
bazar part of the time as it is to chat old clo' the whole time."

"Can you get the School Hall free?" asked Tom.

"We'd have to pay for the lighting and the janitor, but that wouldn't be
much," said Roger. "It would be better than the Parish House of any of
the churches because if we had it in a church there'd surely be some
people who wouldn't go because it was in a building belonging to a
denomination they didn't approve of, but no one can make any kick about
the schoolhouse."

"It's the natural neighborhood centre."

"We'll have the whole town there."

"If we let in some of the school kids we'll get all their families on
the string," recommended Roger.

"I'm working up a feat that I've never seen any one do," said Tom.
"I'll turn it loose for the first time at our show."

"Remember, you're all coming to me next Saturday afternoon," Dorothy
reminded them as the Hancocks and Watkinses put on their overgarments
and sought out their umbrellas preparatory to going home.

"And we'll bring a list of what we can contribute ourselves and what
we've collected so far and what we think we can collect and we'll turn
in anything we've made."

"If there's anything we can work on while the Club is going on we'd
better bring it," suggested Helen.

"Mother says we may have the sewing machine in the attic," said Dorothy.

"I believe I'll take my jig-saw over," suggested Roger. "Aunt Louise
wouldn't mind, would she?"

"She'd be delighted. Bring everything," and Dorothy glowed with the
hospitality that had been bottled up in her for years and until now had
had but small opportunity to escape.



CHAPTER V

ROGER GOES FORAGING


ALTHOUGH Helen never had been president of any club before, yet she had
seen enough of a number of associations in the high school and the
church to understand the advantage of striking while the iron of
enthusiasm was hot. For that reason she and Roger worked out the
districting of Rosemont before they went to bed that night, and the next
afternoon Roger went over to Glen Point on his bicycle, and, with
James's help, did the same for that town. It was understood that Tom
would not be able to come out again until Saturday, but he had agreed to
be on hand early in the morning to do a good half day of canvassing. The
girls were to speak to every one to whom they could bring up the subject
conveniently, wherever they met them.

Roger began his work on Monday afternoon after school. He wheeled over
to a part of the town where he did not know many people, his idea being
that since that would be the most disagreeable place to tackle he would
do it first and get it over with. He was a merry boy, with a pleasant
way of speaking that won him friends at once, and he was not bothered
with shyness, but he did hesitate for an instant at his first house. It
was large and he thought that the owner ought to be prosperous enough to
have plenty of old clothes lying about crying to be sent to the war
orphans.

It was a maid whose grasp on the English language was a trifle
uncertain who opened the door. Roger stated his desire.

"Old clothes?" she repeated after him. "I've no old clothes to give
you," and she shut the door hastily.

Roger stood still with astonishment as if he were fastened to the upper
step. Then his feelings stirred.

"The idiot!" he gasped. "She thought I wanted them for myself," and he
looked down at his suit with a sudden realization that his long ride
over one dusty road and a spill on another that had recently been oiled
had not improved the appearance of his attire. However, he rang the bell
again vigorously. The woman seemed somewhat disconcerted when she saw
him still before her.

"I don't want the clothes--" began Roger.

"What did you say you did for?" inquired the maid sharply, and again she
slammed the door.

By this time Roger's persistency was roused. He made up his mind that he
was going to make himself understood even if he did not secure a
contribution. Once more he rang the bell.

"You here!" almost screamed the girl as she saw once more his familiar
face. "Why don't you go? I've nothing to give you."

"Look here," insisted Roger, his toe in the way of the door's shutting
completely when she should try to slam it again; "look here, you don't
understand what I want. Is your mistress at home?"

The girl was afraid to say that she was not, so she nodded.

"Tell her I want to see her."

"What's your name?"

"I'm Roger Morton, son of Lieutenant Morton. I live on Cedar Street. Can
you remember that?"

She could not, but her ear had caught the military title and upstairs
she conveyed the impression that at least a general was waiting at the
door. When the mistress of the house appeared Roger pulled off his cap
politely, and he was such a frank-faced boy that she knew at once that
her maid's fears had been unnecessary, though she did not see where the
military title came in. Roger explained who he was and what he wanted at
sufficient length, and he was rewarded for his persistency by the
promise of a bundle.

"I know your grandmother, Mrs. Emerson," said the lady, who had
mentioned that she was Mrs. Warburton, "and your aunt, Mrs. Smith, has
hired one of my houses, so I am glad on their account to help your
enterprise, though of course its own appeal is enough."

Roger thanked her and took the precaution to inquire the names of her
neighbors, before he presented himself at another door. He also reached
such a pitch of friendliness that he borrowed a whisk broom from Mrs.
Warburton and redeemed his clothes from the condition which had brought
him into such disfavor with the maid-servant.

There was no one at home in the next house, but the next after that
yielded a parcel which the old lady whom he interviewed said that he
might have if he would take it away immediately.

"I might change my mind if you don't," she said. "I've been studying for
ten days whether to make over that dress with black silk or dark blue
velvet. If I give the dress away I shan't be worried about it any
longer."

"Very well," cried Roger, and he rolled the frock up as small as he
could and fastened it to his handle bars.

There was no one at home at the next house, but the woman who came to
the door at the next after that listened to his story with moist eyes.

"Come in," she said. "I can give you a great many garments. In fact
there are so many that perhaps I'd better send them."

"Very well," returned Roger. "Please send them to my aunt's," and he
gave the address.

"You see," hesitated Roger's hostess, now frankly wiping her eyes, "I
had a little daughter about ten years old, and--and I never have been
willing to part with her little dresses and coats, but how could I place
them better than now?"

Roger swallowed hard.

"I guess she'd like to have 'em go over there," he stammered, and he was
very glad when he escaped from the house, though he told his mother,
"she seemed kind of glad to talk about the kid, so I didn't mind much."

"Count listening as one of the Club services," replied Mrs. Morton.

Back in his own part of town Roger felt that his trip had been
profitable. A very fair number of garments and bundles had been
promised, and he had told everybody he could to watch the local paper
for the announcement of the entertainment to be given by the U. S. C.

"Everybody seemed interested," he reported at home. "I don't believe
we'll have a mite of trouble in getting an audience."

It was at a cottage not far from the high school that Roger came upon
his nearest approach to an adventure. When he touched the buzzer the
door was opened by an elderly woman who spoke with a marked German
accent. Roger explained his errand. To his horror the woman burst into
tears. When he made a gesture of withdrawal she stopped him.

"My son--my son is mit de army," she exclaimed brokenly. "My son und de
betrothed of my daughter. We cannot go to the Fatherland. The German
ships go no more. If we go on an English or French ship we are kept in
England. Here must we stay--here."

"You're safe here, at any rate," responded Roger, at a loss what reply
to make that would be soothing in the face of such depressing facts.

"Safe!" retorted the woman scornfully. "Who cares to be safe? A woman's
place is mit her men when they are in danger. My daughter and I--we
should be in Germany and we cannot get there!"

"It's surely a shame if you want to go as much as that," returned Roger
gently, and just then to his surprise there came through an inner door a
young woman whom he recognized as his German teacher in the high school,
Fräulein Hindenburg. Her face was disfigured with weeping and he knew
now why she had seemed so ill and listless in her classes.

"You must not mind Mother," she said, looking surprised as she saw one
of her pupils before her. "It is true that we would go if we could but
we cannot, so we must stay here and wait."

Roger explained his errand.

"To work for the war orphans of all countries?" cried both women
excitedly. "Gladly! Gladly!"

"We are knitting every day--scarfs, socks, wristlets," said the older
woman. "Also will we so gladly make clothing for the children and toys
and playthings--what we can."

Fräulein smiled a sad assent and Roger wheeled off, realizing that the
pain caused by the war no longer existed for him only in his
imagination; he had seen its tears.

So freely had people responded to Roger's appeal that he began to wonder
how the Club was going to take care of all the garments that would soon
be coming in. After that thought came into his mind he made a point of
asking the givers if they would send their offerings as far as possible
in condition to be shipped.

"Margaret and Helen can make over some of the clothes and the Ethels and
Dorothy can help with the simple things, I suppose, but if there are
many grown-up dresses like this one on my handle bar they won't have
time to do anything else but dressmake," meditated Roger as he pedalled
along.

Nowhere did he meet with a rebuff. Every one was pleased to be asked.
Many offered to make new garments. One old woman who lived in a
wheel-chair but who could use her hands, agreed to sew if the material
should be sent her. Many mothers seemed to consider it a Heaven-sent
opportunity to make a clearance of the nursery toys though Roger stoutly
insisted that they must all be in working order before they were turned
in.

"It's been perfectly splendid," breathed Roger joyfully as he finished
his third afternoon and came into the house to report to his mother and
Helen. "It's a delight to ask when you feel sure that you won't have to
coax as you usually do when you're getting up anything. Everybody seems
to jump at the chance."

Toward the end of the week Ethel Blue came in beaming.

"I've got some entirely new people interested," she cried.

"Who? Who?"

"The last people you'd ever think of--the women in the Old Ladies'
Home."

"Why should you think them the very last to be interested?" asked Mrs.
Emerson who happened to be at the Mortons' and whose fingers were
carrying the flying yarn that her needles were manufacturing into a
sock. "Most of them are mothers and it doesn't take a mother to be
interested in such a cause as this. Every human being who has any
imagination must feel for the sufferings of the poor children."

"It seemed queer to me because I've never seen them do anything but just
sit there with their hands in their laps."

"Poor souls, nobody ever provides them with anything to do."

"Now all of them say that they'll be delighted to sew or knit or do
anything they can if the materials are provided for them."

"Here's where we can begin to spend the money Mother has offered to
advance us," cried Ethel Brown. "Can't we go right after school
to-morrow and buy the yarn for them, Mother?"

"Indeed you may. Has Della sent you the knitting rules from the Red
Cross yet?"

"We're expecting them in every mail. If they don't come before we take
the wool to the Home we can start the ladies on scarfs. They're just
straight pieces."

"Mrs. Hindenburg and Fräulein are knitting wristlets for the German
soldiers. They could give the rule for them, I should think," suggested
Roger, "and our old lady friends can just cut it in halves for the
kids."

It was the next day that Helen came in from school all excitement.

"I've made a discovery as thrilling as Roger's about Fräulein!" she
cried.

"What? Who is it about? Tell us."

"It's about Mademoiselle Millerand."

"Your French teacher?" asked Mrs. Emerson.

"She was new at school last year and you've heard us say she's the most
fascinating little black-eyed creature."

"Perhaps she can't talk fast!" added Roger.

"What's the story about her?" demanded Ethel Brown.

"It's not a romantic story like Fräulein's; that is, there's no
betrothed on the other side that she's crazy to get to; but she's going
over to join the French Red Cross."

"That little thing!" cried Roger. "Why she doesn't look as if she had
strength enough to last out a week!"

"She says she's had a year's training in nursing and that a nurse is
taught to conserve her strength. She hopes she'll be sent to the
front."

"The plucky little creature! When is she going?"

"As soon as she can put in a substitute at the school; she doesn't want
to leave us in the lurch after she made a contract for the year."

"It may take some time after that to arrange for a sailing, I suppose."

"Perhaps so. Any way I think it would be nice if we gave her a
send-off--"

"Just as we will Fräulein if her chance comes."

"We can make some travelling comforts."

"She won't be able to carry much," warned Mrs. Morton.

"Everything will have to be as small as possible, but we can hunt up the
smallest size of everything. I think it will be fun!"

"She'll probably be very much pleased."

"I wish there was something rather special we could do for Fräulein too,
so we could be perfectly impartial."

"Watch for the chance to do something extra nice for her. She's having
the harder time of the two; it's always harder to stay and wait than it
is to go into action, even when the action is dangerous."

While the Mortons were canvassing Rosemont, James and Margaret were
doing the same work in Glen Point. Dr. Hancock had accepted his son's
offer and James was now regularly engaged as his father's chauffeur,
working after school hours every school day and on Saturday mornings.
The Doctor insisted that he should have Saturday afternoons free so that
he might go to the Club. He was also quite willing that James should
follow the plan he had sketched at the last Club meeting and visit the
neighbors of his father's patients while Doctor Hancock was making his
professional calls. The plan worked to a charm and James found Glen
Point quite as ready as Rosemont to respond to the "bitter cry of the
children."

"So many people are getting interested I almost feel as if it weren't
our affair any longer," James complained to his father as they were
driving home in the dusk one afternoon.

"Look out for that corner. That's a bad habit you have of shaving the
curbstone. You needn't feel that way as long as your club is doing all
the organizing and administration. That's the part that seems to make
most people hesitate about doing good works. It isn't actual work they
balk at; it's leadership."

"If handling the stuff and disposing of it is leadership then we're a
'going concern' all right," declared James. "Roger telephoned over this
morning that the bundles were coming in to Mrs. Smith's at a great rate,
and that a lot of people were making new garments and things that will
turn up later."

"When is Tom coming out?"

"Saturday morning. I've saved one district for him to do then and that
will finish up Glen Point as Roger and I sketched it out."

"It hasn't been so hard a job as you thought."

"Chasing round in the car has saved time. This is a bully job of yours,
Dad."

"You won't hold it long if you cut corners like that, I warn you again."

"I'll try to cut 'em _out_," laughed James as he carefully turned into
the Hancocks' avenue.



CHAPTER VI

IN THE SMITH ATTIC


"GRANDFATHER EMERSON wants to give the Club a present," cried Ethel
Brown as the last arrivals, the Hancocks, came up the stairs and entered
the attic of Dorothy's house on Saturday afternoon.

The large room was half the width of the whole cottage and, with its low
windows and sloping roof had a quaint appearance that was increased by
its furnishing of tables and seats made from boxes covered with gay bits
of chintz. Dorothy had not neglected her work for the orphans but she
had found time to fit up the meeting place of the U. S. C. so that its
members might not have to gather in bare surroundings. The afternoon sun
shone brightly in through simple curtains of white cheesecloth, the
sewing machine awaited Helen beside a window with a clear north light,
and Roger's jig-saw was in a favorable position in a corner. Each one
who came up the stairs gave an "Oh" of pleasure as the door opened upon
this comfortable, cheerful room where there was nothing too good to be
used and nothing too bad to have entrance to the society of
beauty-loving folk. "What did your grandfather give us?" asked Margaret.

"Grandfather has been awfully interested in the Club from the very
beginning, you know. The other day he asked if we wouldn't like to have
him give us club pins with our emblem on them."

"How perfectly dear of him!" ejaculated Delia.

"Don't let your hopes rise too high. I said it would be simply fine to
have little forget-me-not pins like those we talked about at our very
first meeting in the ravine at Chautauqua--do you remember?"

"Blue enamel," murmured Dorothy.

"He said he wanted us to have them, and that it was a lovely symbol and
so on, and he'd seen some ducks of pins in New York that were just what
we'd like, and some single flower ones for the boys--"

"Um. This suspense is wearing on me," remarked Roger.

"We talked it over and the way it came out was that Grandfather said
that perhaps he'd better give us now the money the pins would cost and
keep his present for later."

No one could resist a groan.

"He won't forget it. Grandfather never forgets to do what he promises.
We'll get them some time or other. But I had a feeling that we'd like
them later better even than now because we'd feel then that we'd really
earned them after the Club had done something worth while, you know."

"I suppose we will," sighed Della, "but they do sound good to me."

"He was bound that we should have the forget-me-not in some form or
other," went on Ethel Brown, "and he's sent us a rubber stamp with 'U.
S. C.' on it and a forget-me-not at each end of the initials. There's an
indelible pad that goes with it and we are to stamp everything we send
out on some part where it won't be too conspicuous."

"It will be like signing a letter to the child the present goes to,"
said Dorothy.

"Isn't he a darling!" exclaimed Ethel Blue. "I love him as much as if he
were my own grandfather."

"He turned the money right over into my hand," continued Ethel
Brown--"the money he didn't spend for the pins, I mean. It's fifteen
dollars. What shall I do with it?"

"Pay for the yarn you bought for the women in the Old Ladies' Home to
knit with," said Helen promptly.

"'"The time has come," the walrus said,'" quoted Tom, "when we must have
a treasurer. It was all very well talking about not needing one when we
didn't have a cent of money, but now we are on the way toward being
multis and we can't get on any longer without some one to look after
it."

"Let's make Tom treasurer and then he can fuss over the old accounts
himself," suggested Roger.

Roger's loathing for keeping accounts was so well known that every one
laughed.

"Not I," objected Tom. "I'm not at all the right one. It ought to be one
of you people who live out here where we're going to do our work. You'll
have hurry calls for cash very often and it would be a nuisance to have
to wait a day to write or phone me. No, sir, Roger's the feller for that
job."

"No, Roger isn't," persisted that young man disgustedly. "I buck, I
kick, I remonstrate, I protest, I refuse."

"Here, here," called Ethel Blue. "Who said you could have James's
vocabulary?"

"Well, James, then," said Tom. "It doesn't make much difference who it
is as long as he lives in these precincts and not as far away as I do.
Madam President, I nominate Mr. Hancock for treasurer of the United
Service Club."

"You hear the nomination," responded Helen. "Is it seconded?"

"I second it with both hands and an equal number of feet," replied Roger
enthusiastically.

"Now is the opportunity for a discussion of the merits of the
candidate," observed Helen drily.

"There are many things that might be said," rejoined Dorothy, "but
because it would probably embarrass him--"

"Oh, say!" came from James. "Are they as bad as that?"

"As I was remarking when I was interrupted," continued Dorothy severely,
"because it might make the candidate feel queer if he were to hear all
the compliments we should pay him, I think we won't say anything."

"I'll trust old Roger not to pay compliments," responded James.

"Old Roger is in such a good humor because this job is being worked off
on to your shoulders instead of his that he might utter some
blandishments that would surprise you."

"I wouldn't risk it!"

"Are you ready to vote?" asked Helen.

"We are," came ringing back, and the resulting ballot placed James in
the treasurership, the only dissenting vote being his own. His first
official act after the money was put into his hands was to give it back
to Ethel Brown in part repayment of the sum which her mother had
advanced for the yarn for the Old Ladies' Home.

"Here's another bundle," announced Mrs. Smith, appearing with a large
parcel as the Club members were looking over the collection that had
come in. All the contributions were piled in a corner, and already they
made a considerable mound.

"Roger will have to apply some of his scientific management ideas to
that mass of stuff," laughed Mrs. Smith.

"I wish we could spread them out so that we could get an idea of what is
which."

"Couldn't we boys make some sort of rack divided into cubes or even
knock together a set of plain shelves? That would lift them off the
floor."

"I wish you would," said Helen. "Then we ought to put a tag on each
bundle telling who sent it and what is in it."

"And what we think can be done with it, if it isn't in condition to send
off just as it is," added Ethel Brown.

"I believe I saw some planks in the cellar that would make sufficiently
good shelves for what you need," said Mrs. Smith. "Suppose you boys go
down stairs with me and take a look at them while the girls are making
out the tags."

So the boys trooped after their hostess while Ethel Brown unscrewed the
cap of her fountain pen and wrote on the tags that Dorothy cut out of
cardboard, and Ethel Blue fitted them with strings, so that they might
be tied on to the parcels.

"These dresses and coats came from Mrs. Ames," said Helen. "They
belonged to her daughter who died, and they're all right for a child of
ten, so we'll just mark the bundle, 'From Mrs. Ames,' and 'O.K.,' and
put it away."

"There's an empty packing box over in that corner," said Dorothy.
"Wouldn't it be a good scheme to put the bundles we shan't have to alter
at all, right into it?"

"Great. Then we shan't have to touch them again until the time comes to
tie them up in fancy paper to make them look Christmassy."

"Here's the dress Mrs. Lancaster couldn't decide whether to have made
over with black silk or blue velvet."

"Mrs. Lancaster," murmured Ethel Brown, making out her card.

"That certainly can't go as it is," pronounced Della.

"There's material enough in it for two children's dresses," decided
Margaret. "Mark it, 'Will make two dresses.'"

"Here's Maud Delano's jacket. She told Roger she'd send this over when
she got her new one."

"It came this morning. It's all right except for tightening a button or
two," and Ethel Brown inscribed, "Coat; tighten buttons" on the slip
which Della tied on to one of the incompetent fasteners.

"Good for Mrs. Warburton!" cried Helen.

"What's she done?"

"Here's a great roll of pink flannelette--and blue, too--among her
things. We can make dresses and wrappers and sacques and petticoats out
of that."

"It always seems just as warm as woolen stuff to me," said Dorothy. "Of
course it can't be."

"Cotton is never so warm as wool, but if it's warm enough why ask for
anything different. What's in your mind?" inquired Margaret.

"I was wondering if we couldn't do something to forward the cotton
crusade at the same time that we're helping the war orphans."

"You mean by making things out of cotton materials?"

"Yes. The orphans will want the warmest sort of clothing for winter, I
suppose, but spring is coming after winter and summer after that, and I
don't believe anything we send is going to be wasted."

"They might wear two cotton garments one over the other," suggested
Della.

"I don't say that we'd better make all our clothes out of cotton
material, but where it doesn't make any especial difference I don't see
why we shouldn't choose cotton stuff. After all, it's the war that has
spoiled the cotton trade so we're still working for war sufferers only
they'll be on this side of the Atlantic. You know they say the southern
cotton planters are having a serious time of it because they aren't
selling any cotton to speak of in Europe."

"Let's do it!" cried Ethel Blue and she told their decision to James who
had come up to measure the attic doorway for some reason connected with
the planks they had found.

"It's a great idea. Bully for Dorothy," he cried working away with a
footrule. "This will go all right," he decided, and ran down again to
give a lift to the other carpenters.

There were eight planks each about six feet long that Mrs. Smith had
discovered in the cellar. A telephone to Mrs. Warburton had gained her
consent to their use and the boys set about fitting them together as
soon as they were on the top floor. Fortunately they were already planed
and of so good a length for the purpose they were to be used for that
nothing was needed but hammer and nails to produce a set of shelves
quite adequate for the purpose. Two of the boards made the sides, and
between them the remaining six were nailed at intervals.

"We can set it against the wall over here," decided Tom, "and it won't
need a back."

"Which is lucky," James declared, "cos there ain't no planks to make a
back of."

"Let's nail a block of wood or a triangle of wood under the bottom shelf
in the corners," advised Roger, "so the animal won't wobble."

"If we had enough wood and a saw we could make nice cubby-holes, one for
each bundle," remarked Tom, his head on one side.

"Tom's getting enthusiastic over carpentering. We haven't either any
more wood or a saw, old man, so there won't be any cubby-holes this
time," decreed Roger.

"It will do perfectly well this way," said Helen. "Now if you'll help us
up with these bundles--"

It was a presentable beginning for their collection. Two parcels in
addition to Mrs. Ames's had gone into the packing case in the corner,
but three shelves of the new set were filled with tight rolls, each with
its tag forward so that no time would be lost in examining the contents,
again.

"That's what I call a good beginning," announced Helen after the boys
had swept up their shavings and had taken them and their hammers and the
remaining nails down stairs.

"What next, Madam President?" inquired James when they returned. The
girls were already spreading out the pink and blue flannelette on a
plank table that had been left in the attic by the carpenters who had
built the house.

"We are going to cut some little wrappers out of this material. I think
you boys had better fix up some sort of table over on that side of the
room and get your pasting equipment ready, for we'll need oodles of
boxes of all sizes and you might as well begin right off to make them."

"Right-o," agreed Roger. "Methinks I saw an aged table top minus legs
leaning against the wall in the cellar. Couldn't we anchor it on to this
wall with a couple of hinges and then its two legs will be a good enough
prop?"

"If they're both on the same side."

"It seems to me they are."

"Any superfluous hinges around the house, Dorothy?"

"I'm afraid not."

"Never mind, I'll get a pair when I go after the pasteboard and the
flour for the paste and a bowl for a pastepot, and a--no, _three_
brushes for us three boys to smear the paste with and some coarse cotton
cloth for binders."

"Don't forget the oil of cloves to keep your paste from turning sour,"
Dorothy cried after them.

"And mind you boil it thoroughly," said Margaret.

The boys started again towards the cellar when Roger's eye happened to
fall on the cutting operations of the girls.

"Pshaw!" he cried in scorn. "You are time-wasters! Why don't you cut out
several garments at once and not have to go through all that spreading
out and pinning down process every time? I saw a tailor the other day
cutting a pile of trousers two feet high."

"What with, I should like to know?" inquired Della mystified.

"He did have a knife run by electricity," admitted Roger, "but there's
no reason why you can't cut four or five of those things just as easily
as one."

"We'll go on down and get the table top," said James, and he and Tom
departed.

"Now, then, watch your Uncle Roger. Is this tissue paper affair your
pattern? All you need to do is to fasten your cloth tightly down on to
your table four thicknesses instead of one. Thumb tacks, Dorothy? Good
child! Now lay your pattern on it--yes, thumb-tack it down if you want
to--and go ahead. You've got new, sharp shears. Don't be in a hurry.
There you are--and you've saved yourself the fuss of doing that three
times more."

[Illustration: Pattern for Wrapper

          e c e = twice the length from floor to neck
          a b = slit
          Fold cloth on line c b d
          Sew together sides f to e
          Insert sleeves c to f]

"Roger really has a lot of sense at times," admitted Ethel Brown, after
her brother had leaped down the attic stairs in pursuit of the boys.

"He is good about helping," added Della.

"What is this garment--a wrapper?" asked Margaret as Helen held up the
soft flannelette.

"Yes, it's the simplest ever, and we can adapt one pattern to children
of all sizes or to grown people," explained Helen.

"I never heard of anything so convenient!"

"First, you measure the child from the floor to his neck--I measured
this on Dicky. Then you cut a piece of material twice that length. That
is, if the kiddy is thirty inches from the floor to the chin you cut
your flannelette sixty inches long."

[Illustration: Wrapper Completed]

"Exactly. Then cut a lengthwise slit thirty inches long. Then fold the
whole thing in halves across the width of the cloth and sew up the sides
to within four and a half inches of the top and you have a wrapper all
but the sleeves."

"How do you make those?"

"It takes half a yard for a grown person--a quarter of a yard for a
youngster. Cut the width in halves and double it and sew it straight
into the holes you've left at the tops."

"Will that be the right length?"

"You can shorten it if you like or lengthen it by a band. You finish the
slit up the front by putting on a band of some different color. It looks
pretty on the ends of the sleeves, too. We can use blue on this pink and
pink on the blue."

"It's easy enough, isn't it? I think I'll make myself one when we get
through with the Ship."

"All you need to know is the length from the person's chin to the floor
and you can make it do for anybody. And all you need to do to make a
short sacque is to know the length from the person's chin to his waist.
I have a notion we'll have some wee bits left that we can make into
cunning little jackets for babies."

"I don't see why this pattern wouldn't do for an outdoor coat if you
made it of thicker cloth--eider-down, for instance."

"It would. Gather the ends of the sleeves about an inch down so as to
make a ruffle, and put frogs or buttons and loops on the front and there
you have it!"

"Did you bring a petticoat pattern, Margaret?" asked Ethel Blue.

"Haven't you seen the pictures of European peasant women and little
girls with awfully full skirts? I believe they'd like them if we just
cut two widths of the same length, hemmed them at the bottom, and ran a
draw-string in the top. We can feather-stitch the top of the hem if we
want to make it look pretty, or we can cut it a little longer and run
one or two tucks."

"Or we might buttonhole a scallop around the edge instead of hemming
it," suggested Ethel Brown.

"You know I believe in doing one thing well," said Dorothy. "How would
it do if we Club girls made just coats and wrappers and sacques from
that pattern of Helen's, and petticoats? We can make them of all sorts
of colors and a variety of materials and we can trim them differently.
We'd be making some mighty pretty ones before we got through."

"I don't see why not," agreed Margaret thoughtfully. "Let's do it."

"I brought the Red Cross knitting directions," said Delia. "I didn't get
them till this morning."

"Grandmother will be delighted with those. She's going to take them to
the Old Ladies' Home and start them all to work there."

"Are you sure they'll knit for the children?"

"She's going to ask them to knit for the children now, with
bright-colored yarns. Afterwards they can knit for the soldiers, and
then they must use dark blue or grey or khaki color--not even a stripe
that will make any poor fellow conspicuous."

As they finished reading the instructions they heard the boys tramping
upstairs with their paraphernalia.

"It looks to me, Dorothy," said Tom, "as if you had us on your hands for
most of these club meetings, to do our work here. Are you sure Mrs.
Smith doesn't mind?"

"Mother is delighted," Dorothy reassured him. "And she wants you all to
come down and have some chocolate."



CHAPTER VII

FOR A TRAVELLER'S KIT


ONCE the Club was started on its work it seemed as if the days were far
too short for them to accomplish half of what they wanted to do. Mrs.
Morton insisted that her children should have at least two hours out of
doors every day, and that cut down the afternoons into an absurdly brief
working time. Mrs. Smith had electric lights installed in her attic and
it became the habit of the Mortons and often of the Hancocks to meet
there and cut and sew and jig-saw and paste for an hour or two every
evening. The Watkinses were active in New York evidently, for Della sent
frequent postcards asking for directions on one point or another and Tom
exchanged jig-saw news with Roger almost daily.

Meanwhile the war was in every one's mind. The whole country realized
the desirability of trying to obey President Wilson's request for
neutrality in word, thought, and deed. The subject was forbidden at
school where the teachers never referred to the colossal struggle that
was rending Europe and the children of varied ancestries played together
harmoniously in the school yard. If at the high school Fräulein and
Mademoiselle were looked at with a new interest by their scholars no
word suggestive of a possible lack of harmony was uttered to them, and
their friendship for each other seemed to increase with every day's
prolongation of the war.

In the Morton family war discussion was not forbidden and the events of
the last twenty-four hours as the newspapers reported them were talked
over at dinner every evening. Mrs. Morton thought that the children
should not be ignorant of the most upheaving event that had stirred the
world in centuries, but she did not permit any violent expressions of
partisanship.

"You children are especially bound to be neutral," she insisted,
"because your father and Ethel Blue's father are in the service of our
country, and a neutrality as complete as possible is more desirable from
them and their families than from civilians."

A new idea was blossoming in the young people's minds, however. They had
grown up with the belief that armament was necessary to preserve peace.
Great men and good had said so. "If we are prepared for war," they
declared, "other nations will be afraid to fight us." Captain and
Lieutenant Morton had agreed with them, as was natural for men of their
profession. They did not believe in aggression but in being ready for
defense should they be attacked.

Now it seemed to Roger and Helen as they read of the sufferings of
invaded France and the distress of trampled Belgium that no country had
the right to benefit by results obtained through such cruel means.

"Just suppose a shell should drop down here just as we were walking
along," imagined Roger as he and Helen were on their way to school.
"Suppose Patrick Shea's cornfield there was marched over before the corn
was harvested and all these houses and churches and schools were blown
up or burned down and all the people of this town were lying around in
the streets dead or wounded!"

"When you bring it home to Rosemont it doesn't sound the way it does
when you read in the histories about a 'movement' here and a 'turning of
the right flank' there, and 'the end of the line crumpling up.' When the
line crumples up it means fathers and brothers are killed and women and
children starve--"

"Think what it would be to have nothing to eat and to have to grub
around in the fields and devour roots like the peasants in the famine
time in Louis XIV's reign."

"And think about the destruction of all the little homes that have been
built up with so much care and happiness. Mary told me her sister bought
a chair one month and a table at another time when she and her husband
came across bargains," said practical Ethel Brown who had caught up with
them. "They've furnished their whole house the way we children have
added to our kitchen tins and plates; and then everything would be
broken to smash by just one of those shells."

"The people who've been spreading the gospel of peace for years and
years needn't be discouraged now, it seems to me," observed Roger
thoughtfully, "even if it does look as if all their talk had been for
nothing. These horrors make a bigger appeal than any amount of talk."

"Grandfather Emerson says that perhaps universal peace is going to be
the result of the war. It seems far off enough now."

"It will be dearly bought peace."

"Hush, there goes Mademoiselle. I wonder when she's going to sail."

"Why don't you ask her to-day? The Club must give her some kind of
send-off, you know."

"I wonder if she'd mind if we went to New York to see her start?"

"It won't be hard to find out. We can tell her that we won't be offended
if she says 'No.'"

"If she's willing we might take that opportunity to go over the ship.
I've always wanted to go over an ocean steamer."

"Perhaps they won't let anybody do it now on account of the war. It will
be great if we can, though."

The Service Club learned more geography in the course of its studies of
the war news than its members ever had learned before voluntarily. The
approach of the German army upon Paris was watched every day and its
advance was marked upon a large map that Roger had installed in the
sitting-room. When the Germans withdrew the change of their line and its
daily relation to the battle front of the Allies was noted by the
watchful pencil of one or another of the newspaper readers.

Thanks to the simplicity of the pattern which the Club had adopted for
its own they were enabled to make a large number of gay garments in a
wonderfully short time. From several further donations of material they
made wrappers for children of fourteen, twelve, ten, down to the babies,
adding to each a belt of the same color as the band so that the garments
might serve as dresses at a pinch. They found that with the smaller
sizes they could cut off a narrow band from the width of the cloth at
each side, and that served as trimming for another garment of
contrasting color.

When they had constructed a goodly pile of long wrappers they fell upon
the short sacques, and before many days passed a mound of pink-banded
blue and blue-banded pink, and red-banded white and white-banded red
rose beside their machines. Della wrote that she was using her mother's
machine and was learning how better and better every day. Thanks to
their lessons at Chautauqua Margaret and Helen sewed well on the machine
already. Ethel Brown and Ethel Blue and Dorothy basted on the bands and
the belts and added the fastenings. It was their fingers, too, that
feather-stitched and cat-stitched the petticoats that came into being
with another donation of flannelette. Dorothy was glad when any new
material was cotton as every yard that they used helped the South to rid
itself of its unsold crop.

"Ladies are going to wear cotton dresses all winter, they say," she told
the Club at one of its meetings. "Mother is going to let me have all my
new dresses made of cotton stuff and she's going to have some herself."

"We wear cotton middies all winter," protested the Ethels who felt as if
Dorothy felt that they were not doing their share to help on the cause
she was interested in.

"When Aunt Marion gets your new dancing school dresses couldn't you ask
her to get cotton ones?"

"I suppose we could. Do you think they'd be pretty enough?"

"Some cotton dresses that are going to be worn on the opening night of
the opera at the Metropolitan are to be on exhibition in New York in a
week or two."

"If cotton is good enough for that purpose I guess it's good enough for
your dancing class," laughed Helen.

"Mother says they make perfectly beautiful cottons now of exquisite
colors and lovely designs. Don't you think it would be great if we set
the fashion of the dancing class?"

"Let's do it. Mother says silk isn't appropriate for girls of our age,
anyway."

"If you can be dressed appropriately and beautifully at the same time I
don't see that you have anything to complain of," smiled Helen.

With the short time that the girls had at their command every day it did
not seem as if they would be able to do much with the garments that came
in to be made over. There were not many of these because the boys had
been instructed after the first day to ask that alterations and mending
be done at home, but there were a few dresses like Mrs. Lancaster's that
were on their hands. Mrs. Smith came to their help when this work bade
fair to be too much for them.

"I'll ask Aunt Marion and Mrs. Emerson and Mrs. Hancock and Mrs. Watkins
to lunch with me some day," she promised Dorothy, "and after luncheon
we'll have an old-fashioned bee and rip up these dresses and then we can
see what material they give us and we can plan what to do with them."

The scheme worked out to a charm. The elders enjoyed themselves mightily
and the resulting pile of materials, smoothly ironed and carefully
sorted gave Margaret and Helen a chance to exercise their ingenuity.
Mrs. Watkins took back to town with her enough stuff for two, promising
to help Della with them, and the suburban girls, with the assistance of
the grown-ups, made six charming frocks that looked as good as new.

It was early in October that Helen rushed home from school one day with
the news that Mademoiselle was going to sail at the end of the week.

"We must begin to-day to make up a good-bye parcel for her," she cried.

"Red Cross nurses are allowed a very small kit," warned Mrs. Morton.

"We can try to make things so tiny that she won't have to leave them
behind her when she goes on duty, but even if she does she can give them
to somebody who can make them useful."

"I'll make steamer slippers to begin with," said Ethel Brown.

"How?" asked Ethel Blue.

[Illustration: Top of Slipper

Sew a and b together]

"You get a pair of fleecy inner soles--they have them at all the shoe
stores--and then you cut a top piece of bright colored chintz just the
shape of the top part of a slipper and you sew it together at the back
and bind the edges all around."

"How do you put the top and the sole together?"

"The edge of the sole is soft enough to sew through. You turn the top
inside out over the sole and sew the binding of the chintz on to the
edge of the sole over and over and when you turn it right side out there
you are with gay shoes."

"They'll fill up a bag, though," commented Ethel Blue. "I should think
you might make a pair just like that only make the sole of something
that would double up. Then they'd go into a case and be more compact."

"That's a good idea, too," agreed Ethel Brown. "What could you use for a
sole?"

"Soft leather would be best. I imagine you could get a piece from the
cobbler down town. Or you could get the very thin leather that they used
at Chautauqua for cardcases and pocket books--the kind Roger uses--and
stitch two pieces together."

"Why wouldn't a heavy duck sole do?" suggested Mrs. Emerson.

"If you stepped on a pin it wouldn't keep it out as well as leather,"
objected her daughter.

"I believe I'll try a pair with a flowery chintz top and a duck sole
covered with chintz like a lining to the shoe," said Ethel Blue slowly
as she thought it out. "Then I'll make the case of two pieces of chintz
bound together."

"One piece ought to be longer than the other so that it would be a flap
to come over like an envelope."

This was Ethel Brown's contribution to the slipper building.

"You could fasten it with a glove snapper. I got some the other day for
my leather work," said Roger. "I'll put them on for you."

"Why don't you Ethels make both kinds?" suggested Dorothy. "She'll find
a use for them."

"If you girls will make it I'll contribute the silk for a bath wrap that
she can throw over her warm one, just for looks, on the boat," said Mrs.
Emerson. "I have one I use on sleeping cars and it rolls up into the
smallest space you can imagine."

[Illustration: Slipper Case

          Place section a on section b and sew edges together, leaving
             c d open

          e = Snap fastening]

"Good for Grandmother!" cried a chorus of voices.

"Can we use our famous wrapper pattern?" asked Helen.

"I don't see why not. Mine has a hood but that isn't a difficult
addition if you merely shape the neck of your kimono a little and then
cut a square of the material, sew it across one end and round the lower
end a trifle to fit into the neck hole you've made."

"How about longer sleeves, Mother?" asked Mrs. Morton.

"I think I would make them longer. And I'd also make an envelope bag of
the same silk to carry it in on the return trip from the bath. You'll be
surprised to find into how small an envelope it will go."

"Put a cord from one corner of the envelope to the other so that
Mademoiselle may have her hands free for her soap and towel and other
needfuls," advised Mrs. Smith, who had been listening to the
suggestions.

"Wouldn't another envelope arrangement of chintz lined with rubber cloth
make a good washrag bag or sponge bag?" asked Ethel Brown.

"Nothing better unless you put a rubber-lined pocket in a Pullman
apron."

This hint from Grandmother Emerson aroused the curiosity of the young
people.

"What is a Pullman apron? Tell us about it," they cried.

"Mine is made of linen crash," said Mrs. Emerson. "Dorothy will insist
on your making yours of cotton chintz and it will be just as good and
even prettier. Get a yard. Cut off a piece thirty inches long and make
it fourteen wide. Bind the lower edge with tape. Turn up six inches
across the bottom and stitch the one big pocket it makes into smaller
ones of different sizes by rows of up and down stitching. Make a bag of
rubber cloth just the right size to fit one of the larger pockets. Take
the six inches that you cut off from your yard of material and bind it
on both edges with tape. Stitch that across your apron about four inches
above the top of the lower row of pockets. Divide the strip into as
many pockets as you want to for hairpins and pins and neck arrangements,
and so on."

"Your apron has two raw edges now," said Helen.

"Bind it on each side with tape. That will finish it and it will also
fasten the edges of the pockets securely to the apron. Sew across the
top a tape long enough to serve as strings."

[Illustration: Pullman Apron

          d b plus the turned up portion, b a, = 30 inches
          b a = 6 inches
          b b = 14 inches
          c c c = pockets
          d d = strings]

"The idea is to roll all your toilet belongings up together in your bag,
eh?"

"Yes, and when you go to the ladies' room on the train you tie the apron
around your waist and then you have your brush and comb and hairpins and
tooth brush and washrag all where you can lay your fingers on them in a
second of time."

"I got my best tortoise-shell hairpin mixed up with another woman's
once, and I never recovered it," said Mrs. Morton meditatively.

"It wouldn't have happened if you'd been supplied with a bag like this,"
said her mother.

"Mademoiselle's silk wrap must be grey to match her other Red Cross
equipment," said Mrs. Emerson, "but I don't see why the chintz things
shouldn't be as gay as you like."

"Pink roses would be most becoming to her style of beauty," murmured
Roger who had come in.

"I don't know but pink roses would be becoming enough for slippers,"
agreed Ethel Blue so seriously that every one laughed.

"Let's get pink flowered chintz," said Ethel Brown. "You make the soft
kind and I'll make the stiff kind and Dorothy'll make the apron and
Helen will make the kimono. Who's got any more ideas?"

"I have," contributed Roger. "I'll make a case for her manicure set. I
haven't got time this week unfortunately to tool the leather but I'll
make a plain one that will be useful if it isn't as pretty as I can do."

"What shape will it be?"

"I got part of my idea from Grandfather Emerson's spectacle case that I
was examining the other day. Ethel Blue's case for the soft slippers is
going to be something like it."

"Two pieces of leather rounded at the lower corners and stitched
together at the sides and with a flap to shut in the contents?" guessed
Dorothy.

"Correct. I shall make the case about four inches long when it's
closed."

"That means that you'd have one strip four inches long and the other,
the one with the flap, six inches long."

"Once more correct, most noble child. It will be a liberal two inches
wide, a bit more in this instance because I'm not much of a sewer and I
want to be sure that I'm far enough from the edge to make it secure."

"You don't try to turn it inside out, do you?"

"No, ma'am. Not that mite of an object. You fit a tiny pasteboard slide
into the case. Cover it with velvet or leather or a scrap of Ethel
Blue's chintz--"

"'Rah for cotton," cheered Dorothy.

"--and on one side of this division you slip in the scissors and the
file and the tweezers or the orange stick and on the other a little
buffer with a strap handle that doesn't take up any room."

"How in the world do you happen to be so up in manicure articles?"
queried Helen, amazed at his knowledge.

"Nothing strange about that," returned Roger. "Aunt Louise showed me
hers the other day when I was talking to her about making one for just
this occasion. Aha!"

"You could make the same sort of case without the pasteboard partition,
for a tiny sewing kit," offered Ethel Blue, "and one of the envelope
shape will hold soap leaves."

"I'd like to suggest a couple of shirtwaist cases," said Mrs. Smith.
"They are made of dotted Swiss muslin that takes up next to no room and
washes like a handkerchief. You'd better make Mademoiselle's of colored
muslin or of colored batiste for she won't want to be bothered with
thinking about laundry any oftener than she has to."

"What shape are the bags?"

"Find out whether she will take an American suitcase or a bag. In either
case measure the size of the bottom. Take a piece of muslin twice the
size and lay it flat. Fold over the edges till they meet in the centre.
Then stitch the tops across, on the inside, of course, and hem the slit,
and turn them right side out and that's all there is to it. They keep
waists or neckwear apart from the other clothing in one's bag and
fresher for the separation."

[Illustration: Shirtwaist Case]

"Since I have my hand in with knitting," said Grandmother, "I believe
I'll contribute a pair of bed-shoes. They're so simple that any one who
can knit a plain strip can do them."

"Let's have the receipt."

"Cast on stitches enough to run the length of the person's foot. Fifty
will be plenty for any woman and more than enough for Mademoiselle's
tiny foot. It's well to have the shoe large, though. Knit ahead until
you have a strip six inches high. Then cast off from one end stitches
enough to make four inches and go ahead with the remainder for four
inches more."

"That sounds funny to me," observed Ethel Brown. "Not exactly the shape
of my dainty pedestal."

"You'll have made a square with a square out of one corner like this
piece of paper. Now fold it along the diagonal line from the tip of the
small square to the farthest edge of the big square and sew up all the
edges except those of the small square. That leaves a hole where you put
your foot in. Crochet an edge there to run a ribbon in--and you're
done."

"I'm going to run the risk of Mademoiselle's laughing at me and give her
a folding umbrella," said Mrs. Morton. "It will fit into her bag and at
least she can use it until she goes to the front."

"All this sounds to me like a good outfit for any woman who is going to
travel," observed Helen. "I'm almost moved to sail myself!"



CHAPTER VIII

THE RED CROSS NURSE SETS SAIL


THE girls' cheeks were rosy and their hair was tangled by the wind as
Helen and the rest of the U. S. C. left the car at West Street and made
their way to the French Line Pier. Roger was heading the flock of
Mortons, Mrs. Smith was with Dorothy, the Hancocks had come from Glen
Point, more for the fun of seeing a sailing than to say "Good-bye" to
Mademoiselle, whom they hardly; knew. The Watkinses were accompanied by
their elder brother, Edward, a young doctor.

There was a mighty chattering as the party hastened down the pier. A
mightier greeted them when they reached the gang plank.

"Every Frenchman left in New York must be here saying 'Good-bye' to
somebody!" laughed Tom as his eye fell on the throng pressing on to the
boat over a narrow plank across which passengers who had already said
their farewells were leaving, and stewards were carrying cabin trunks.

"Only one _passerelle_ for all that!" exclaimed a plump Frenchman whose
age might be guessed by the fashion of his moustache and goatee which
declared him to be a follower of Napoleon III. He was carrying a bouquet
in one hand and kissing the other vehemently to the lady on the deck who
was to be made the recipient of the flowers as soon as her admirer
could manage to squeeze himself down the over-crowded gang plank.

Taxis driving up behind the U. S. C. young people discharged their
occupants upon the agitated scene. All sorts of messages were being sent
across to friends on the other side, many of them shouted from pier to
deck with a volubility that was startling to inexperienced French
students.

It was quite twenty minutes before the Club succeeded in filing Indian
fashion across the _passerelle_. They were met almost at once by
Mademoiselle, for she had been watching their experiences from the
vessel.

"Before you say 'Good-bye' to me," she said hurriedly, "I want you to go
over the ship. I have special permission from the Captain. You must go
quickly. There are not many minutes, you were so long in coming on."

She gave them over to the kind offices of a "_mousse_" or general
utility boy, who in turn introduced them to a junior officer who
examined their permit as "friends of Mademoiselle Millerand" and then
conveyed them to strange corners whose existence they never had guessed.

First they peeked into a cabin which was one of the handsomest on the
ship but whose small size brought from Ethel Brown the comment that it
was a "stingy" little room. The reading and writing rooms she approved,
however, as being cheerful enough to make you forget you were seasick. A
lingering odor of the food of yester-year seemed to cling about the
saloon and to mingle with a whiff of oil from the engine room that had
assailed them just before they entered. People were saying farewells
here with extraordinary impetuosity, men embracing each other with a
fervor that made the less demonstrative Americans smile. One group was
looking over a pile of letters on the table to see if absent friends had
sent some message to catch them before they steamed.

Below were other staterooms, rows upon rows of them, and yet others
below those. By comparison with the fragrances here that in the saloon
seemed a breeze from Araby the Blest.

From above the party had looked down on the engines whose huge steel
arms slid almost imperceptibly over each other as if they were slowly,
slowly preparing to spring at an unseen foe; as if they knew that great
waves would try to still them, the mighty workers of the great ship. A
gentle breathing now seemed to stir them, but far, far down below the
waterline the stokers were feeding the animal with the fuel that was to
give him energy to contend with storms and winds and come out victor.
Half naked men, their backs gleaming in the light from the furnaces,
threw coal into the yawning mouth. The heat was intense, and the Ethels
turned so pale that young Doctor Watkins hurried them into the open air.
Helen was not sorry to breathe the coolness of the Hudson again and even
the boys drew a long breath of relief, though they did not admit that
they had been uncomfortable.

"Mademoiselle Millerand awaits you in the tea room," explained the young
officer, and he conducted them to a portion of the deck where passengers
could sit in the open, or, on cold or windy days, behind glass and watch
the sea and the passengers pacing by.

Mademoiselle greeted them with shining eyes. During their absence there
had been some farewells that had been difficult.

"You have seen everything?" she inquired pleasantly. "Then you must have
some lemonade with me before you go," and she gave an order that soon
brought a trayful of glasses that tinkled cheerfully.

"We are not going to be sentimental," she insisted. "This is just
'Good-bye,' and thank you many times for being so good to me at school,
and many, many times more for the bundle that is in my room to surprise
me. I shall open it when the Statue of Liberty is out of sight, when I
can no more see my adopted land. Then shall I think of all of you and of
your Club for Service."

"Where do you expect to be sent, Mademoiselle?" inquired Doctor Watkins
as the party walked toward the _passerelle_ over which they must somehow
contrive to make their way before they could touch foot upon the pier.

"To Belgium, I think. My brother is a surgeon and I have a distant
relative in the ministry--"

"What--_the_ Millerand?"

Mademoiselle smiled and nodded.

"So probably I shall be sent wherever I wish--and my heart goes but to
Belgium. It is natural."

"Yes, it is natural. May you have luck," he cried holding out his hand.

"Mademoiselle is going to Belgium," he told the young people who were
awaiting their turn at the gang-plank.

They gazed at her with a sort of awe. Tales of war's horrors were common
in the ears of all of them, and it was difficult to believe that the
slight figure standing there so quietly beside them would see with her
own eyes the uptorn fields and downfallen cottages, the dying men and
the miserable women and children they had seen only in imagination.

"Oh," gasped Ethel Blue; "oh! _Belgium!_ Oh, Mademoiselle, _won't_ you
send us back a Belgian baby? The Club would _love_ to take care of it!
Wouldn't we? Wouldn't we?" she cried turning from one to another with
glittering eyes.

"We would, Mademoiselle, we would," cried every one of them; and as the
big ship was warped out of the pier they waved their handkerchiefs and
their hands and cried over and over, "Send us a Belgian baby!"

"_Un bébé belge! Ces chers enfants!_" ejaculated a motherly Frenchwoman
who was weeping near them. "A Belgian baby! These dear children."

And then, to James's horror, she kissed him, first on one cheek and then
on the other.



CHAPTER IX

PLANNING THE U. S. C. "SHOW"


IT was becoming more and more evident every day to the president of the
United Service Club that it must have more money than was at its
disposal at the moment or it would not be able to carry out its plans.
Already it owed to Mrs. Morton a sum that Helen knew was larger than her
mother could lend them conveniently. All of Grandfather Emerson's
donation had gone to provide knitting needles and yarn for the occupants
of the Old Ladies' Home, and the Club's decision to lay itself under no
financial obligation to people outside of the immediate families of the
members had obliged her to refuse a few small gifts that had been
offered.

All the members of the Club were working hard to earn money beyond their
allowances and every cent was going into the Club's exchequer. Roger was
faithful in his attention to the three furnaces he had undertaken to
care for, though he was not above a feeling of relief that the weather
was continuing so mild that he had not yet had to keep up fires
continuously in any of them. James still drove his father, though the
doctor threatened him with discharge almost every day because of his
habit of cutting corners. The girls were carrying out their plans for
money-making, and Della had secured another order for stenciled curtains
which Dorothy and Ethel Brown filled.

What with school and working for the orphans and working for the Club
treasury these were busy days, and Helen felt that something must be
done at once to provide a comparatively large sum so that their
indebtedness might be paid off and the pressure upon each one of them
would not be so heavy.

Helen and James were going over the Club accounts one Saturday before
the regular meeting. A frown showed Helen's anxiety and James's square
face looked squarer and more serious than ever as he saw the deficit
piled against them.

"It's high time we gave that entertainment we talked about so much when
we began this thing," he growled. "People will have forgotten all about
it and we'll have to advertise it all over again."

"That'll be easy enough if we make use of some of the small children in
some way. All their relatives near and far will know all about it
promptly and they'll all come to see how the kiddies perform," said
Helen wisely, though her look of perplexity continued.

"Let's bring it up at the meeting right now. I don't believe we can do
anything better this afternoon than plan out our show and decide who and
what and where."

"'Where' is answered easily enough--the hall of the schoolhouse. 'Who'
and 'what' require more thought."

It turned out, however, that every one had been thinking of stunts to do
himself or for some one else to do, so that the program did not take as
much time as if the subject had not been lying in their minds for
several weeks.

"At the beginning," said Ethel Blue, "I think some one ought to get up
and tell what the Club is trying to do--all about the war orphans and
the Santa Claus Ship."

"Wouldn't Grandfather Emerson be a good one to do that?"

"I don't think we want to have any grown people in our show," was
Helen's opinion. "If we bring them in then the outside people will
expect more from us because they'll think that we've been helped and it
won't be fair to us or to our grown-ups."

"That's so," agreed Tom from the depths of a lifetime of experience of
the ways of people in church entertainments. "Let's do every single
thing ourselves if we can, and I believe the audience will like it
better even if it isn't all as O. K. as it would be if we had a grown-up
or two to help pull the oars."

"The first question before us, then, is who will do this explanation act
that Ethel Blue suggests?"

There was a dead silence. No one wanted to offer. There seemed no one
person on whom the task fell naturally unless--"The Club was Ethel
Blue's idea," went on Helen. "Isn't she the right one to explain it?"
and "The president of the Club ought to tell about it," said Ethel Blue.
Both girls spoke at once.

There was unanimous laughter.

"'Ayther is correct,'" quoted Roger. "I think Helen is the proper
victim."

"Yes, indeed," Ethel Blue supported him so earnestly that every one
laughed again.

"You see, no one knows about its being Ethel Blue's idea and that would
take a lot more explaining or else it would seem that there was no good
reason for the president's not acting as showman and introducing her
freaks to the audience."

"'Speak for yourself, John!' I'm no freak!" declared James. "I think
Helen's the right one to make the introduction, though."

Helen shivered.

"I must say I hate to do it," she said, "but we all agreed when we went
into this that we'd do what came up, no matter whether we liked it or
not, so here goes Number 1 on the program," and she wrote on her pad,
beneath an elaborate

          PROGRAM

which she had been drawing and decorating as she talked.

1. Explanatory address. Helen Morton.

"Now, then," queried Ethel Brown, "what next?"

"Music, if there's any one to tootle for the ladies," said Roger.

"Dorothy's the singer."

"Oh, I couldn't sing all alone," objected Dorothy shrinkingly. "But
Mother said she'd drill a chorus of children and I wouldn't mind doing
the solo part with a lot of others on the stage with me."

"How about a chorus in costume?" asked Helen.

"What kind of costume?"

"Oh, I don't know--something historical, perhaps."

"Why not the peasant costumes of the countries in the war?" suggested
Ethel Blue. "We're working for the children and we'll have a child or
two from each country."

"A sort of illustration of Helen's speech," said Tom.

"They might sing either the national songs of their countries or
children's songs," said Dorothy.

"Or both, with you dressed as Columbia and singing the Star Spangled
Banner at the end."

"La, la! Fine!" commended Margaret. "Put down Number 2, Helen, 'Songs by
War Orphans.' We can work out the details later, or leave them to
Dorothy and her mother."

"I've been thinking that we might as well utilize some of the folk
dances that we learned at Chautauqua last summer," said Ethel Brown.
"Wouldn't Number 3 be a good spot to put in the Butterfly Dance?"

"That was one of the prettiest dances at the Exhibition," said James.
"Let's have it."

"Margaret and I are too tall for it, but you four young ones know it and
you can teach four more girls easily enough."

"We'll ask them to-morrow at school," said Dorothy, "and we'll have a
rehearsal right off. Mother will play for us and it won't take any time
at all."

"The costumes won't take any time, either. Any white dress will do and
the wings are made by strips of soft stuff--cheese cloth or something
even softer, pale blue and pink and green and yellow. They're fastened
at the shoulders and a loop goes over the wrist or the little finger so
the arms can keep them waving."

"Do you remember the steps, Dorothy?"

"They're very simple, but almost anything that moves sort of swimmingly
will do."

"There's Number 3, then," decided Dorothy. "Now the boys ought to
appear."

"Yes, what have you three been planning to throw us in the shade?"
inquired Della.

"I've got a fancy club-swinging act that's rather good," admitted Roger
modestly.

"You have?" asked Tom in surprise. "So have I. What's yours?"

"Come over here and I'll tell you," and the two boys retired to a corner
where they conferred. It was evident, from their burst of laughter and
their exclamations that they highly approved of each other's schemes.

"We've decided that we won't tell you what our act is," they declared
when they came back to the broken meeting. "We'll surprise you as well
as the rest of the audience."

"Meanies," pronounced Ethel Brown. "Helen, put down 'Number 4, Club
Swinging by Two Geese!'"

"Not geese," corrected Tom, with a glance at Roger, who made a sign of
caution.

"What next?" queried the president.

"Let's have some of the small children now. Our honorary member ought to
be on the card," said Della.

"Are you sure he wouldn't be afraid?" asked Tom of Dicky's brethren.

"Not Dicky," they shrieked in concert.

"I saw a pretty stunt in town the other evening. It was done by grown
people but it would be dear with little kids," urged Della, her round
face beaming with the joy of her adaptation of the idea. "It was a new
kind of shadow dance."

"Pshaw, that's old," declared Tom with brotherly curtness.

"It wasn't done behind a sheet. That's the old way--"

"A mighty good way, too," supported James stoutly. "I've seen some
splendid pantomimes done on a sheet--'Red Riding Hood' and 'Jack the
Giant Killer,' and a lot more."

"This is much cunninger," insisted Della. "Instead of a sheet there's a
dull, light blue curtain hung across the stage. The light is behind it,
but the actors are in front of it."

"Then you don't see their shadows."

"You see themselves in silhouette against the blue. There is a net
curtain down between them and the audience and it looks like moonlight
with elves and fairies playing in it."

"It would be hard to train Dicky to be a fairy," decided Ethel Blue so
gravely that all the others laughed.

"I was thinking that it would be fun to have Dicky and some other
children dressed like pussy cats and rabbits and dogs, and playing about
as if they were frisking in the moonlight."

"Why not have them do a regular little play like 'Flossy Fisher's
Funnies' that have been coming out in the _Ladies' Home Journal_?"
screamed Ethel Brown, electrified at the growth of the idea. "Take
almost any one of them and get the children to play the little story it
tells and I don't see why it wouldn't be too cunning for words."

"What kind of stories?" asked James who liked to understand.

"I don't remember any one exactly but they are something like this;--Mr.
Dog goes fishing on the bank of the stream. A strip of pasteboard cut at
the top into rushes will give the effect of a brook, you know. He pulls
up a fish with a jerk that throws it over his head. Pussy Cat is
waiting just behind him. She seizes the fish and runs away with it. Mr.
Dog runs after her. The cat jumps over a wheelbarrow, but the dog
doesn't see it and gets a fall--and so on."

"I can see how it would be funny with little scraps of kids," pronounced
Tom. "Who'll train them?"

"I'll do that," offered Ethel Brown. "Dicky's always good with me and if
he understands the story he'll really help teach the others."

"Pick out a simple 'Flossy Fisher' or make up an easy story with plenty
of action," advised Margaret. "The chief trouble you'll have is to make
the children stay apart on the stage. They'll keep bunching up and
spoiling the silhouettes if you aren't careful."

"Number 5. Silhouettes," wrote Helen on her pad. "What's Number 6?"

"I don't know whether you'll approve of this," offered Dorothy rather
shyly, "but when I was at the Old Ladies' Home the other day I thought
they made a real picture knitting away there in the sunshine in their
sitting room. Do you think some of them could be induced to come to the
schoolhouse and make a tableau?"

"Fine!" commended Helen.

"You could have it a picture of sentiment, such as Dorothy had in mind,
I judge," said Tom, "or you could turn it into a comic by having some
one sing 'Sister Susie's Sewing Shirts for Soldiers.'"

"What's that?"

"A stay-at-home war song they're singing in England. It's funny because
it's so full of S's that it's almost impossible to sing it without a
mistake. I think it would be better, though, to have the old ladies
just knitting away. After all, it's sympathy with the orphans we want to
arouse."

"Couldn't we have a tableau within a tableau--a picture at the back
placed with the figures posed behind a net curtain so that they'd be
dimmed--a picture of some of the Belgian orphans refugeeing into Holland
or something of that sort?"

"If Mademoiselle would only send us right off that Belgian baby that
James got kissed for we'd have an actual exhibit," said Roger.

James made a face at the memory of the unexpected caress he had earned
unwittingly, but he approved highly of the addition to the picture of
the old ladies.

"They're thinking about the orphans as they knit--and there are the
orphans," he said, and even his sister Margaret smiled at the
approbation with which he looked on a tableau that left nothing to the
imagination.

"Number 6 is settled, then. Why can't we have the minuet for Number 7?"

"Good. All of us here know it so we shan't need to rehearse much."

"On that small stage four couples will be plenty, I say," offered Roger.

"I think so, too. Eight would make it altogether too crowded," declared
Helen. "That means that four of us girls will dance--we can decide which
ones later--and you three boys, and we'll only have to train one new
boy."

"What's the matter with George Foster? His sister is a dancing teacher
and perhaps he knows it already."

"He's the best choice we can make. We want to get this thing done just
as fast as we can for several reasons," continued Helen. "In the first
place any entertainment goes off more snappily if the fun of doing it
isn't all worn off by too many rehearsals."

"Correct," agreed Tom. "Remember that Children's Symphony we exhausted
ourselves on for a month last winter, Della?"

Della did and expressed her memories with closed eyes and out-stretched
hands.

"If each one of us makes himself and herself responsible for having his
own part perfect and the stunts that he's drilling others in as nearly
perfect as he can, then I don't see why we need more than ten days for
it."

"Especially as we know all the dances now and the Old Ladies' Home
tableau won't take much preparation."

"Have we got enough numbers on the program, Helen?"

"I think we ought to end with a long thing of some sort."

"We'll never pull off the show if you try to stick in a play," growled
James.

"Not a play, but I was reading Browning's 'Pied Piper of Hamelin' the
other day and it can easily be made workable with just a little speaking
and some pantomime. Two or three rehearsals ought to do it."

"All right, then. Your sufferings be on your head."

"You'll all back me up, won't you?"

"We'll do whatever you tell us, if that's what you want."

"Read us the whole program, Madam President," begged Dorothy.

"Here you are; I've changed the order a little:

          PROGRAM

          1. Address, Helen Morton.

          2. Songs by War Orphans, led by Dorothy Smith.

          3. Butterfly Dance.

          4. Club Swinging by Roger Morton and Thomas
          Watkins.

          5. Knitting for the War Orphans by Ladies from the
          Old Ladies' Home.

          6. Silhouettes by Dicky Morton and other Juniors.

          7. Minuet.

          8. "The Pied Piper."

"If I do say it as shouldn't, having had a modest part in its
construction," remarked Roger complacently, "that's a good program."

"Do you know," added Margaret earnestly, "I think so too."

So, after discussion of details concerning responsibility and
rehearsals, and the appointment of a publicity committee consisting of
the officers of the Club plus Roger, the meeting adjourned.



CHAPTER X

THE EVENTFUL EVENING


IF the U. S. C.'s had thought themselves busy before they undertook
their entertainment they concluded as they rushed from one duty to
another in the ten days of preparation for that function that they had
not learned the A B C of busy-ness. Mrs. Morton always insisted that,
whatever was on foot, school work must not be slighted.

"Your education is your preparation for life," she said. "While you are
young you must lay down a good foundation for the later years to build
on. You know what happens when a foundation is poor."

They did. A building in Rosemont had fallen into a heap of ruins not
long before, to the shame of the contractor who had put in poor work.

So all the school duties were attended to faithfully, and the
out-of-door time was not skimped though the out-of-door time was largely
devoted to doing errands connected with the "show," and the home lessons
were learned as thoroughly as usual. But sewing went by the board for
ten days except such sewing as was necessary for the making of costumes.

"Here's a chance for your Club to try out some of Roger's ideas of
system," said Grandfather Emerson as he listened to the plans which were
always on the lips of the club members whenever he met them.

"I think we're doing it all pretty systematically," Helen defended.
"Each one of us is responsible for doing certain things and our work
doesn't overlap. When we come together for a general rehearsal I believe
we're going to find that all the parts will fit together like a cut-out
puzzle."

[Illustration: Costume for Butterfly Dance]

Mr. Emerson said that he hoped so in a tone of such doubt that Helen was
more than ever determined that all should run smoothly. To that end she
made a diplomatic investigation into every number of the program. Every
one she found to be going on well. Her own address was already blocked
out in her mind. Dorothy had taken bodily a singing class that Mrs.
Smith had started at the Rosemont Settlement and, with the knowledge of
singing that the children already had, they soon were drilled in their
special songs and in the motions that enlivened them. Mrs. Smith and
Dorothy were also preparing the costumes and they reported that the
mothers of the children were helping, some of them providing actual
peasant costumes that had come from the old country.

With four girls who already knew the butterfly dance the drilling of
another quartette was swiftly done, and the Ethels were willing to put
their flock of butterflies on the stage four days after they had begun
to practice. Because every one of them had a white dress their costumes
required almost no work beyond the cutting lengthwise of a yard and a
quarter of cheesecloth. When they had gathered one end and attached the
safety pin which was to fasten it to the shoulder, and gathered the
other end and sewed on a loop which was to go over the little
finger--all of which took about five minutes--that costume was finished.

About the boys' club swinging Helen could not obtain any information
beyond the assurance that all was well. With that she had to content
herself.

The old ladies at the Home were delighted to be able to help and also
delighted at the excitement of taking part in the entertainment. They
voted for the trio who should represent them in the tableaux and
generously selected three who were the most handicapped of all of them.
One was lame and always sat with her crutch beside her; one was blind,
though her fast flying fingers did not betray it; and the third lived in
a wheel-chair. They demurred strongly to their companions' choice, but
the other old ladies were insistent and the appointees could not resist
the fun. Mr. Emerson agreed to provide transportation for them,
wheel-chair and all, and Doctor Hancock was to send over a wagonette
from Glen Point so that the rest of the inmates of the Home might take
advantage of the tickets that some mysterious giver had sent to every
one of them. For the inner picture Dicky and two of his kindergarten
friends were to be posed, clad in rags.

"It's no trouble to provide Dicky with a ragged suit," said Mrs. Morton.
"The difficulty is going to be to make him look serious and poorly fed."

"A little artistic shading under his eyes and on his cheeks will make
his plumpness disappear. I'll 'make up' the children," offered Mrs.
Emerson.

Most difficult of all were the silhouettes. This was because the
children who were to take part were so tiny that they could not quite
remember the sequence of the story they were to act out. There were
moments when the Ethels were almost disposed to give up the youngsters
and try the shadows with larger children.

"The little ones make so much cunninger cats and dogs than the bigger
children I don't want to do it unless we have to," said Ethel Brown, and
they found at last that perseverance won the day. Here, too, the
children's mothers helped with the costumes, and turned out a creditable
collection of animal coverings, not one of them with a bit of fur.

"They're another help to your cotton crusade," Ethel Blue told
Dorothy.

Grey flannelette made a soft maltese pussy; the same material in brown
covered a dog; a white coat splashed with brown spots out of the family
coffee pot was the covering of another Fido, while another white garment
stained with black and yellow ornamented a tortoise-shell cat. The
rabbits all wore white.

As with the butterfly dance so many of the performers knew the minuet
that it needed only two rehearsals. The new boy worked in without any
trouble and was so graceful and dignified that the U. S. C. boys found
themselves emulating his excellent manner.

Helen herself took charge of "The Pied Piper" and so few were the
speaking parts and so short and so natural the pantomime that she
drilled her company in three rehearsals, though she herself worked
longer in private over the manipulation of certain stage "properties,"
and had one or two special sessions with Dr. Edward Watkins who was to
take the principal part.

Friday evening was chosen for the performance. The Rosemont young people
usually had their evening festivities on Fridays because they could sit
up later than usual without being disturbed about school work the next
morning. The special Friday proved to be clear with a brilliant moon and
the old ladies driving over from the Home felt themselves to be out on a
grand lark. Evidently the boys had done their publicity work thoroughly,
for not only did they see a goodly number of Rosemont people approaching
the schoolhouse, but, just as they drove up to the door, a special car
from Glen Point stopped to let off a crowd of friends of the Hancocks
who had come over to see "what the children were doing for the war
orphans."

The school hall held 300 people and no seats were reserved except those
for the old ladies. They found themselves in front where they could see
well and where they were near enough to appreciate the care with which
the edge of the platform was decorated. That had been Margaret Hancock's
work and she had remembered the success of the Service Club in preparing
the platform for the Old First Night exercises at Chautauqua.

Tom had insisted that the Club should go to the extra expense of having
tickets printed. James had objected.

"This old treasury of ours is almost an empty box," he growled. "We
can't afford to spend cold cash on printing."

"It will pay in the end, believe me," insisted Tom slangily. "You know
there are always a lot of people who think they'll go to a show and then
at the last minute think they won't if something more amusing turns up.
If you sell tickets beforehand you've got their contribution to the
cause even if they don't appear themselves."

"Tom's right," agreed Margaret. "They won't mind losing so small a sum
as a quarter if they don't go."

"And they'd think it was too small an amount to bother themselves about
by hunting up the treasurer and paying it in if they didn't have a
ticket," said Roger.

"And there are some people who'd be sure to come and swell the audience
just because they had spent a quarter on a ticket," said Ethel Brown.

"What does the president think?" asked Ethel Blue.

Helen agreed with Tom and the tickets were printed. After all they came
to only a small sum and Roger, peeking through a hole in the curtain,
saw with satisfaction that if there were going to be any vacant seats at
all they would not be many. When one of the old ladies turned about just
before the curtain went up she saw a solid room behind her and people
standing against the wall.

There was music before the curtain rose. This enrichment of the program
was a surprise to the performers themselves. Young Doctor Edward Watkins
had become so interested in the United Service Club when he met them at
the French Line Pier that he had insisted on helping with their work for
the orphans.

"If Mademoiselle really sends you that Belgian baby you may need a
special physician for it," he said. "So you'd better stand in with one
whose practice isn't big enough yet to take all his time."

He said this to Helen when he appeared with Tom and Della on the evening
of the performance and announced that not only did he know his part in
the "Piper" but he had brought his violin and would be glad to be a part
of the orchestra.

"But we haven't an orchestra," objected Helen. "I wish we had."

"Who's going to play for the dances?"

"Aunt Louise."

"Why can't she and I do something at the beginning? It will seem a
little less cold than just having the curtain go up without any
preliminaries."

Mrs. Smith proved to be delighted to go over with Doctor Watkins the
music he had brought and they selected one or two lively bits that would
set the mood of the audience for the evening. So Mrs. Morton and the
Emersons and the younger members of the cast were greatly surprised to
hear an overture from a well-played violin accompanied by the piano.
While the applause was dying away the curtain rose on Helen seated at a
desk reading from a blank exercise book filled with Ethel Blue's neat
writing.

"This is the report of the Secretary of the United Service Club," began
Helen when the applause that greeted her appearance had subsided. She
was looking very pretty, wearing a straight, plain pink frock and having
her hair bound with a narrow pink fillet.

"Perhaps you don't know what the United Service Club is," she went on,
and then she told in the simplest manner of the beginning of the Club at
Chautauqua the summer before.

"What we're trying to do is to help other people whether we want to or
not," she declared earnestly.

A soft laugh went over the audience at this contradictory statement.

"I mean," continued Helen, somewhat confused, "that we mean to do things
that will help people even if we don't get any fun out of it ourselves.
We want to improve our characters, you see," she added artlessly. "So
far we haven't had much chance to improve our characters because all the
things that have come our way to do have been things that were great
fun--like to-night.

"To-night," she went on earnestly, "you have come here to see a little
entertainment that we've gotten up to make some money so that we could
send a bigger bundle to the Christmas Ship that is going to sail for
Europe early in November. We thought we could make a good many presents
for the war orphans but we found that our allowances didn't go as far as
we thought they would, although we have a very careful treasurer," she
added with a smiling glance at the wings of the stage where James
greeted her compliment with a wry face.

"We made a rule that we would make all the money we needed and not
accept presents, so this show is the result, and we hope you'll like it.
Anyway, we've had lots of fun getting it up."

She bowed her thanks to the applause that greeted her girlish
explanation and stepped behind the scenes.

Immediately a gay march sounded from the piano. It was a medley of
well-known national songs and in time with its notes a group of children
led by Dorothy ran upon the stage. Dorothy stepped to the front and sang
a few lines of introduction to the tune of "Yankee Doodle."

          "Here we are from Fatherland,
             From Russia and from France,
           From Japan and from Ireland
             We all together dance.

          "At home they are not dancing now;
             There's war and awful slaughter;
           We here in Rosemont make our bow,
             Each one Columbia's daughter."

Then a flaxen-haired little girl stepped forward and sang a German folk
song and after it she and two other children dressed in German peasant
costume danced a merry folk dance. Representatives of the other
countries which Dorothy's verses had named sang in turn. Then each group
sang its national song, at the end uniting in "The Star Spangled
Banner," in which the standing audience joined.

There was a great clapping when the curtain fell, but the managers had
decided that there should be no encores, so the curtain merely rose once
upon a bowing, smiling group and then fell with a decision that was
understood to be final.

"Whatever we do wrong, the thing we must do right," Helen had insisted
when she was drilling her performers, "is to have promptness in putting
on our 'acts.'"

"That's so," agreed Tom, "there's nothing an audience hates more than to
wait everlastingly between 'turns' while whispering and giggling goes on
behind the scenes."

As a result of Helen's sternness the butterflies were waiting when the
little internationals went off, and, as those of the children who were
not to appear again filed quietly down into the audience where they
could see the remainder of the performance, waving wings of soft pink
and blue and green and yellow fluttered in from the sides. There was
nothing intricate about the steps of this pretty dance. There were
movements forward and back and to one side and another, with an
occasional turn, but the slowly waving hands with their delicate burden
of color made the whole effect entirely charming.

When Tom and Roger, jersey clad, stepped on to the stage for the
club-swinging act all the other performers were clustered in the wings,
for it had roused their curiosity. Evidently Roger was to swing first
for he stepped to the front while Tom beckoned to the janitor of the
hall who came forward and attached electric light wires to a plug in the
edge of the platform. Tom made a connection with wires that ran up under
the back of Roger's jersey and down his sleeves and through holes bored
into his clubs, and then he stepped forward to the front.

"While Roger Morton is swinging his clubs the lights of the hall will be
turned off," he explained. "I mention it so that no one will be startled
when they go out."

Out they went, and in a flash Roger's clubs, made of red and white
striped cotton stretched over wire frames which covered electric light
bulbs screwed to a sawed-off pair of clubs, were illuminated from
within. The beauty of the movements as the clubs flashed here and there
in simple or elaborate curves and whirls drew exclamations of enjoyment
from the audience.

"That's one of the prettiest stunts I ever saw," exclaimed Doctor
Hancock, and Doctor Watkins led the vigorous applause that begged Roger
to go on. True to his agreement with Helen, however, Roger stepped aside
as soon as he was freed from his apparatus and the lights were turned on
once more in the hall, and prepared to help Tom.

It was clear that Tom, too, was not going to do ordinary club-swinging.
He took up his position in the centre of the stage and Roger brought
forward a box which he deposited beside him. The actors behind the
scenes craned their heads forward until they were visible to the
audience, so eager were they to see what the box contained.

"My friend, Tom Watkins," said Roger gravely, "is something of a
naturalist. In the course of his travels and studies he has come across
a curious animal whose chief characteristic is what I may be permitted
to call its adhesive power. So closely does it cling to anything to
which it attaches itself that it can be detached only with great
difficulty. So marked is this peculiarity of the _Canis Taurus_--"

A peculiar grunt of amusement from certain high school members of the
audience interrupted Roger's oration. "_Canis_, dog; _taurus_, bull,"
they whispered.

"--of the _Canis Taurus_," he went on, "that Watkins has been able to
train two of his specimens to do the very remarkable act that you are
about to see."

As he ended he threw back the top of the box and there popped up over
the edge the infinitely ugly heads of Cupid's two pup's, Amor and
Amorette. A howl of laughter greeted their silly, solemn countenances.
Tom whistled sharply and they sprang from their narrow quarters and ran
to him. He stroked them, and faced them toward the footlights so that
their eyes should not be dazzled by seeing them suddenly. Then he began
to play with them, pushing them about and shoving them gently with the
ravelled ends of two short pieces of knotted rope. When he had teased
them for a minute he stood upright and Amor and Amorette were hanging
each from a rope! It was a trick he had taught them as soon as their
teeth were strong enough.

Slowly he swung them back and forth, and then in semi-circles constantly
increasing in sweep, until in a flash they rose over his head and
described regular simple Indian club evolutions. Every move was slow and
steady with no jerks that would break the dogs' hold and Amor and
Amorette held on with a firmness that did credit to their inheritance of
jaw muscle and determination.

"Good for the _Canis Taurus_," laughed Mr. Wheeler, the high school
teacher, from the back of the hall as the swinging died rhythmically
away.

"Speak to the ladies and gentlemen," commanded Tom as he dropped the
ropes and their attachments to the floor. Each dog was still holding
firmly to his bit of rope and manifested no desire to part from it. At
their master's order, however, they let go of their handles and uttered
two sharp barks. Then they picked them up again and trotted off the
stage.

All this was so unusual that it aroused the most fervent enthusiasm that
had yet been shown. Feet stamped and canes rapped but Tom would do no
more than walk on with a dog on each side of him and bow as they barked.

With the announcement of the knitting tableau there was a flutter among
the old ladies from the Home. Here was an act in which they felt a
personal interest. It was almost embarrassing to be so nearly related to
a number on the program!

The curtain rose very slowly to soft music thrilling through the hall.
It was a homely scene--just such a room as any one of the old ladies may
have had when she still had a home of her own. There was a table with a
lamp upon it and around the table were the three old ladies, one with
her crutch and one in her wheel chair, and one sitting in the darkness
that was daylight to her--the shining of a contented heart. All of them
were knitting.

Slowly there grew into view behind them on the wall the picture of the
thoughts that were in their minds--the picture of three children, pale,
thin, tear-stained, trudging along a weary road. Each one carried a
bundle far too heavy for him and each looked unsmilingly out of the
frame, though Mrs. Morton breathed a sigh of relief when the touching
scene faded and she knew that there was no longer any danger of Dicky's
spoiling the effect by a burst of laughter or a genial call to some
acquaintance in the audience.

Slowly the curtain fell and the old ladies were lost to view. Then the
old ladies in front breathed a sigh of satisfaction. It had been simply
perfect!



CHAPTER XI

"SISTER SUSIE'S SEWING SHIRTS FOR SOLDIERS"


WITH the evening well under way Helen was beginning to be relieved of
the worry that she had not been able to control, but as the time for the
silhouette approached the Ethels became distinctly disturbed. Dicky
always was an uncertain element. Because he had behaved like an angel
child in the tableau with the old ladies was no assurance that as a
pussy cat in the silhouettes he would not raise an uproar which would
put to shame any backyard feline of their acquaintance.

Dicky's companions in the animal play were ready behind the scenes and
their funny costumes were causing bursts of suppressed mirth as they
danced about excitedly. When Dicky finished his tableau he was hurried
into his maltese coat and by the time that his Aunt Louise had played
the "Owl and the Pussy Cat" and Dorothy had sung it, the blue curtain
had been lowered, the light behind it turned on, and between it and the
net curtain in front the dogs and the cats and the rabbits frisked
happily. In fact the raising of the outside curtain caught them tagging
each other about the stage in a manner that was vastly amusing but had
nothing to do with the play.

For there was a little play. The Ethels had made it up themselves and it
had to do not only with a fisher dog who lost his catch to a robber cat
but with a clever rabbit who was chased by both dogs and cats and who
took refuge in the rushes on the bank of the stream and was passed by
because his pursuers mistook the tips of his ears for rushes. Then they
made signs that, wherever he was, if he would come out and join them
they should all be friends. He came out and they took paws and danced
about in a circle. Against the dull blue background it looked as if the
animals were playing in the moonlight, jumping and walking on their
hindlegs like the creatures in the fairy books. The small children in
the audience were especially pleased with this number and when at the
end a boy appeared carrying his schoolbooks and all the animals fell
into line behind him and walked off demurely to school it was so like
what happens at the end of the holidays that they burst into renewed
clapping.

The minuet went with the utmost smoothness. Doctor Watkins added his
violin to the piano's playing of the Mozart music from "Don Giovanni"
and the picturesquely dressed figures stepped and bowed and courtesied
with grace and precision. Helen danced with Tom, Margaret with Roger,
Ethel Brown with James, and Ethel Blue with the new boy, George Foster.
The girls all wore ruffled skirts with paniers elaborately bunched over
them, and they had their hair powdered. The boys wore knee breeches,
long-tailed coats, and white wigs. On the wall hung an old portrait of a
Morton ancestor. A spinet stood at one side of the room which the stage
represented. The whole atmosphere was that of a day long gone by.

After this number was done Doctor Watkins appeared before the curtain.

"I am asked by the president of the United Service Club," he said, "to
tell you that there will be an interval of ten minutes between the
minuet and the next offering of the program. During that time I am going
to sing you a song that the English soldiers are singing. It isn't a
serious song, for the soldiers are hearing enough sad sounds without
adding to them. I may make some mistakes in singing it--you'll
understand why in a moment."

At a nod from him, Mrs. Smith broke into the opening notes of "Sister
Susie's Sewing Shirts for Soldiers," and by the time the doctor had
finished the second stanza the audience was humming the chorus. "Come
on," he cried. "I did make some mistakes. See if you can do better," and
he led the tune for the four lines that announced,--

  "Sister Susie's sewing shirts for soldiers.
     Such skill at sewing shirts our shy young sister Susie shows,
   Some soldiers send epistles, say they'd sooner sleep in thistles
    Than the saucy, soft, short shirts for soldiers Sister Susie sews."

Everybody laughed and laughed and tried to sing and laughed again.

When the chorus was over, Doctor Watkins dashed into the Allies' song,
"Tipperary," and followed it by "Deutschland ueber Alles." Then he
taught the audience the words of "The Christmas Ship" and they quickly
caught the air and soon were singing,--

          "Hurrah, hurrah for the Christmas Ship
             As it starts across the sea
           With its load of gifts and its greater load
             Of loving sympathy.
           Let's wave our hats and clap our hands
             As we send it on its trip;
           May many a heart and home be cheered
             By the gifts in the Christmas Ship."

Edward had a good voice and he sang with so much spirit that every one
enjoyed his unexpected addition to the evening's pleasure.

A bell behind the scenes announced that "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" was
ready and the curtain rose on the room in the Town Hall of Hamelin in
which the Corporation held its meetings. Dorothy, whose voice was clear
and far-reaching, stood just below the stage at one side and read the
explanation of what had been happening in the city.

                      Hamelin Town's in Brunswick,
          By famous Hanover city;
                      The river Weser, deep and wide,
                      Washes its wall on the southern side;
                      A pleasanter spot you never spied;
          But, when begins my ditty,
                      Almost five hundred years ago,
                      To see the townsfolk suffer so
                        From vermin, was a pity,

                      Rats!
          They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
                      And bit the babies in the cradles,
          And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
                      And licked the soup from the cooks' own ladles,
          Split open the kegs of salted sprats
          Made nests inside men's Sunday hats,
          And even spoiled the women's chats
                      By drowning their speaking
                      With shrieking and squeaking
          In fifty different sharps and flats.

          At last the people in a body
                      To the Town Hall came flocking.

At this point the reading stopped and the action began. Roger, dressed
as the Mayor in his mother's red flannel kimono banded with white
stripes to which he had attached tiny black tails to give the effect of
ermine, stalked in first. He wore a look of deep anxiety. Behind him
came James and two of Roger's high school friends who represented
members of the Corporation. They also were dressed in red robes but they
did not attempt to equal the ermine elegance of the Mayor.

After the Mayor and Corporation came a body of the townspeople. They all
appeared thoroughly enraged and as the city fathers took their seats at
the council table in the centre of the room they railed at them.

          FIRST CITIZEN. [_Tom, in rough brown jacket
          and baggy knee breeches, with long brown stockings
          and low shoes. He frowned savagely and growled
          in disgust._] "'Tis clear our Mayor's a noddy!"

          SECOND CITIZEN. [_George Foster, dressed like Tom._]
            "And as for our Corporation--shocking,
            To think we buy gowns lined with ermine
            For dolts that can't or won't determine
            What's best to rid us of our vermin!"

          THIRD CITIZEN. [_Another high school boy. He
          was bent like a withered old man and spoke in a
          squeaky voice._]

            "You hope because you're old and obese,
            To find in the furry civic robe ease?"

          FIRST CITIZEN.
            "Rouse up, sirs! Give your brains a racking
            To find the remedy we're lacking,
            Or, sure as fate, we'll send you packing."

          THE MAYOR.
            "For a guilder I'd my ermine gown sell,
            I wish I were a mile hence."

          FIRST MEMBER OF THE CORPORATION. [_James._]
            "It's easy to bid one rack one's brain--
            I'm sure my poor head aches again,
            I've scratched it so and all in vain."

          SECOND MEMBER OF THE CORPORATION.
            "Oh, for a trap, a trap, a trap."

          At this instant came a rap on the door. Helen
          did it, and a cry came from THE MAYOR.
            "Bless us, what's that?"

          FIRST MEMBER.
            "Only a scraping of shoes on the mat?
            Anything like the sound of a rat
            Makes my heart go pit-a-pat!"

          THE MAYOR.
            "Come in!"

          In answer to this permission there entered Edward
          Watkins as the Pied Piper. He had dashed around to
          the back and slipped into his coat and Mrs.
          Emerson had painted his face while the first words
          of the poem were being read. He was tall and thin
          with light hair, yet a swarthy complexion. He wore
          a queer long coat, half yellow and half red and
          around his neck a scarf of red and yellow in
          stripes to which was attached a tiny flute with
          which his fingers played as if he were eager to
          pipe upon it. He smiled winningly and the people
          crowded in the council chamber whispered,
          wondering who he was and why his attire was so
          curious.

          FIRST CITIZEN.
            "It's as my great-grandsire
            Starting up at the Trump of Doom's tone,
            Had walked this way from his painted tombstone."

          THE PIED PIPER [_Edward Watkins_] advanced to the
          council table.

            "Please your honors, I'm able
            By means of a secret charm to draw
            All creatures living beneath the sun,
            That creep or swim or fly or run,
            After me so as you never saw!
            And I chiefly use my charm
            On creatures that do people harm,
            The mole and toad and newt and viper;
            And people call me the Pied Piper.
            Yet, poor piper as I am,
            In Tartary I freed the Cham,
            Last June from his huge swarms of gnats;
            I eased in Asia the Nizam
            Of a monstrous brood of vampire bats:
            And as for what your brain bewilders
            If I can rid your town of rats
            Will you give me a thousand guilders?"

          THE MAYOR AND CORPORATION TOGETHER.
            "One? Fifty thousand!"

          Then THE PIPER walked slowly across the stage,
          erect and smiling, and he piped a strange, simple
          tune on his flute. As he disappeared at one side
          the stage was darkened and at the back appeared a
          picture such as had been used in the tableau of
          the old ladies knitting. THE MAYOR and the
          CORPORATION and the townsfolk turned their back to
          the audience and gazed out through this window.
          Across it passed first THE PIPER still piping, and
          after him a horde of rats. They were pasteboard
          rats and Helen was drawing them across the scene
          with strings, but they made a very good illusion
          of the dancing rats that the poet described;

          Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats;
          Brown rats, black rats, gray rats, tawny rats.

          As the crowd in the room watched they uttered
          exclamations--"See!" "Look at that one!" "How they
          follow him!" "He's leading them to the river!" "In
          they go!" "They're drowning!" "Every one of them!"
          "Let's ring the bells!"

          With faces of delight the townsfolk left the
          council chamber and from a distance came the
          muffled ringing of bells of joy.

          THE MAYOR addressed them as they passed out;
            "Go and get long poles,
            Poke out the nests and block up the holes!
            Consult with carpenters and builders,
            And leave in our town not even a trace
            Of the rats."

          THE PIPER entered suddenly. "First, if you please,
          my thousand guilders!"

          FIRST MEMBER OF THE CORPORATION. "A thousand
          guilders!"

          The other members of the Corporation shook their
          heads in solemn refusal.

          THE MAYOR.
            "Our business was done at the river's brink;
            We saw with our eyes the vermin sink,
            And what's dead can't come to life, I think."

          SECOND MEMBER OF THE CORPORATION.
            "So, friend, we're not the folks to shrink
            From the duty of giving you something for drink,
            And a matter of money to put in your poke--"

          THE MAYOR.
            "But as for the guilders, what we spoke
            Of them, as you very well know, was in joke."

          FIRST MEMBER.
            "Besides, our losses have made us thrifty.
            A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!"

          THE PIPER [_looking serious, cried_];
            "No trifling! I can't wait, beside!
            I've promised to visit by dinner time
            Bagdat, and accept the prime
            Of the Head-Cook's pottage, all he's rich in,
            For having left in the Caliph's kitchen,
            Of a nest of scorpions no survivor;
            With him I proved no bargain-driver,
            With you, don't think I'll bate a stiver!
            And folks who put me in a passion
            May find me pipe after another fashion."

          THE MAYOR.
            "How? D'ye think I brook
            Being worse treated than a Cook?
            Insulted by a lazy ribald
            With idle pipe and vesture piebald?
            You threaten us, fellow? Do your worst,
            Blow your pipe there till you burst!"

          Once more the Piper laid the pipe against his lips
          and blew the strange, simple tune, and from both
          sides of the stage there came rushing in children
          of all sizes, boys and girls, flaxen-haired and
          dark-haired, blue-eyed and brown-eyed. They
          crowded around him and as he slowly passed off the
          stage they followed him, dancing and waving their
          hands and with never a look behind them.

          Once more the window at the back opened and across
          it went the Piper, still fluting, though now he
          could not be heard by the audience; and behind him
          still danced the children, blind to the gestures
          of the Mayor and Corporation who stretched out
          their arms, beseeching them to return. Terrified,
          the city fathers made known by gestures of despair
          that they feared the Piper was leading the
          children to the river where they would meet the
          fate of the rats.

          Of a sudden they seemed relieved and the picture
          showed the throng passing out of sight into a
          cavern on the mountain. Then limped upon the stage
          a lame boy who had not been able to dance all the
          way with the children and so was shut out when the
          mountain opened and swallowed them up. The
          Corporation crowded around him and heard him say:

          LAME BOY.
            "It's dull in our town since my playmates left!
            I can't forget that I'm bereft
            Of all the pleasant sights they see,
            Which the Piper also promised me.
            For he led us, he said, to a joyous land,
            Joining the town and just at hand,
            Where waters gushed and fruit trees grew
            And flowers put forth a fairer hue,
            And everything was strange and new;
            The sparrows were brighter than peacocks here,
            And their dogs outran our fallow deer,
            And honey bees had lost their stings,
            And horses were born with eagles' wings;
            And just as I became assured
            My lame foot would be speedily cured,
            The music stopped and I stood still,
            And found myself outside the hill,
            Left alone against my will,
            To go now limping as before,
            And never hear of that country more!"

          The MAYOR and CORPORATION were grouped around the
          LAME BOY listening and the citizens at the back
          leaned forward so as to hear every word. Almost in
          tears the boy limped from the stage followed
          slowly by Mayor and Corporation and citizens while
          Dorothy's clear voice took up the tale.

          "Alas, alas for Hamelin!
              There came into many a burgher's pate
              A text which says that heaven's gate
              Opes to the rich at as easy rate
          As the needle's eye takes a camel in!
          The Mayor sent East, West, North, and South,
          To offer the Piper by word or mouth
              Wherever it was men's lot to find him,
          Silver and gold to his heart's content,
          If he'd only return the way he went,
              And bring the children behind him.
          But when they saw 'twas a lost endeavor,
          And Piper and dancers were gone forever,
          They made a decree that lawyers never
              Should think their records dated duly
          If, after the day of the month and year,
          These words did not as well appear,
              'And so long after what happened here
              On the Twenty-second of July,
          Thirteen hundred and seventy-six:'
          And the better in memory to fix
          The place of the children's last retreat,
          They called it the Pied Piper's Street--
          Where any one playing on pipe or tabor
          Was sure for the future to lose his labor.
          Nor suffered they hostelry or tavern
              To shock with mirth a street so solemn:
          But opposite the place of the cavern
              They wrote the story on a column,
          And on the great church window painted
          The same, to make the world acquainted
          How their children were stolen away,
          And there it stands to this very day.
          And I must not omit to say
          That in Transylvania there's a tribe
          Of alien people who ascribe
          The outlandish ways and dress
          On which their neighbors lay such stress,
          To their fathers and mothers having risen
          Out of some subterraneous prison
          Into which they were trepanned
          Long time ago in a mighty band
          Out of Hamelin town in Brunswick land.
          But how or why, they don't understand."

At the conclusion of the play, after hearty applause, the audience broke
again into the song of the Christmas Ship:

          Hurrah, hurrah for the Christmas Ship
            As it starts across the sea
          With its load of gifts and its greater load
            Of loving sympathy.
          Let's wave our hats and clap our hands
            As we send it on its trip;
          May many a heart and home be cheered
            By the gifts in the Christmas Ship.

"That's as good a show as if it had been put on by grown-ups," declared
a New Yorker who had come out with Doctor Watkins. "It's hard to believe
that those kids have done it all themselves."

He spoke to a stranger beside him as they filed out to the music of a
merry march played by Mrs. Smith.

"My boy was among them," replied the Rosemont man proudly, "but I don't
mind saying I think they're winners!"

That seemed to be every one's opinion. As for the old ladies--the
evening was such an event to them that they felt just a trifle uncertain
that they had not been transported by some magic means to far away
Hamelin town.

"I don't believe I missed a word," said the blind old lady as the horses
toiled slowly up the hill to the Home.

"We'll tell you every scene so you'll know how the words fit in,"
promised the old lady in the wheel chair.

"It will be something to talk about when we're knitting," chuckled the
lame old lady brightly, and they all hummed gently,

          "Hurrah, hurrah for the Christmas Ship
             As it starts across the sea."



CHAPTER XII

JAMES CUTS CORNERS


"VERY creditable, very creditable indeed," repeated Doctor Hancock as he
and James stepped into their car to return to Glen Point after packing
the old ladies into the wagonette.

Mrs. Hancock and Margaret had gone home by trolley because the doctor
had to make a professional call on the way. The moon lighted the road
brilliantly and the machine flew along smoothly over the even surface.

"This is about as near flying as a fellow can get and still be only two
feet from the earth," said James.

James was quiet and almost too serious for a boy of his age but he had
one passion that sometimes got the better of the prudence which he
inherited from the Scottish ancestor about whom Roger was always joking
him.

That passion was for speed. When he was a very small child he had made
it his habit to descend the stairs by way of the rail at the infinite
risk of his neck. Once he had run his head through the slats of a
chicken coop into which an over-swift hopmobile had thrown him. On
roller skates his accidents had been beyond counting because his
calculations of distance often seemed not to work out harmoniously with
his velocity. It was because Doctor Hancock thought that if the boy had
the responsibility for his father's machine and for other people's
bones he would learn to exercise proper care, that he had consented to
let him become his chauffeur. The plan had seemed to work well, but once
in a while the desire to fly got the better of James's discretion.

"Here's where the car gets ahead of the aeroplane," said the doctor. "An
aviator would find it dangerous work to skim along only two feet above
ground."

"I did want to go up with that airman at Chautauqua last summer!" cried
James.

"Why didn't you?"

"Cost too much. Twenty-five plunks."

The doctor whistled.

"Flying high always costs," he said meditatively.

"The Ethels went up. They haven't done talking about it yet. They named
the man's machine, so he gave them a ride."

"Good work! Look out for these corners, now. When you've studied physics
a bit longer you'll learn why it is that a speeding body can't change
its direction at an angle of ninety degrees and maintain its equilibrium
unless it decreases its speed."

James thought this over for a while.

"In other words, slow up going round corners," he translated, "and later
I'll learn why."

"Words to that effect," replied the doctor mildly.

"Here's a good straight bit," exclaimed James. "You don't care if I let
her out, do you? There's nothing in sight."

"Watch that cross road."

"Yes, sir. Isn't this moon great!" murmured James under his breath,
excited by the brilliant light and the cool air and the swift motion.

"Always keep your eyes open for these heavy shadows that the moon
casts," directed Doctor Hancock. "Sometimes they're deceptive."

"I'll keep in the middle of the road and then the bugaboo in the shadow
can see us even if I can't see him," laughed James, the moonlight in his
eyes and the rush of wind in his ears.

"There's something moving there! LOOK OUT!" shouted the doctor as a cow
strolled slowly out from behind a tree and chewed a meditative cud right
across their path. James made a swift, abrupt curve, and did not touch
her.

"That was a close one," he whispered, his hands shaking on the wheel.

"It hasn't worried her any," reported his father, looking back. "She
hasn't budged and she's still chewing. You did that very well, son. It
was a difficult situation."

James flushed warmly. His father was not a man to give praise often so
that every word of commendation from him was doubly valued by his
children.

"Thank you. I shouldn't like to have it happen every day," James
confessed.

They sped on in silence after the cow episode, the boy glad of the
chance to steady his nerves in the quiet, the doctor thinking of the
case he was to visit in a few minutes.

The patient's house stood on the edge of Glen Point, and James sat in
the car resting and watching the machines of the townspeople passing by
with gay parties out to enjoy the moonlight. Some, like themselves, had
been to Rosemont, and some of his schoolmates waved to him as they
passed.

"It was a great show, old man," more than one boy shouted to him.

It had been a good show. He knew it and he was glad that he belonged to
a club that really amounted to something. They did things well and they
didn't do them well just to show off or to get praise--they had a good
purpose behind. He was still thinking about it when his father came out.
Doctor Hancock did not talk about his cases, but James had learned that
silence meant that there was need for serious thought and that the
doctor was in no mood to enter into conversation. When he came out
laughing, however, and jumped into the car with a care-free jest, as
happened now, James knew that all was going well.

"Now, home, boy," he directed. "Stop at the drug store an instant."

He gave some directions to a clerk who hurried out to them and then they
drove on. The moonlight sifted through the trees and flickered on the
road. A cool breeze stimulated James's skin to a shiver. On they went,
faster and faster. He'd had a mighty good time all the evening, James
thought, and Father was a crackerjack.

"LOOK OUT, boy," his father's voice rang through his thoughts. The car
struck the curb with a shock that loosened his grasp on the wheel and
tossed him into the air. As he flew up he tried to say, "I cut the
corner too close that time," but he never knew whether he said it or
not, for his voice seemed to fail him and his father could not recall
hearing such a remark.

It was quite an hour later when he came to himself. To his amazement he
found himself in his own room. The light was shaded, his mother with
tears still filling her eyes was beside him, and his father and a young
man whom he recognized as the new doctor who had just come to Glen
Point, were putting away instruments. He tried to move in the bed and
found that his leg was extraordinarily heavy.

"Did I bust my leg?" he inquired briefly.

"You did," returned his father with equal brevity.

"Weren't you hurt?"

"A scratch on the forehead, that's all. Doctor Hanson is going to patch
me up now."

The two physicians left the room and James did not know until long after
that the scratch required several stitches to mend.

His illness was a severe trial to James. His Scottish blood taught him
that his punishment fitted his crime--that he was hurt as a direct
result of doing what he knew was likely to bring that result. He said to
himself that he was going to take his punishment like a man. But oh, the
days were long! The Glen Point boys came in when they thought of
it--there was some one almost every day--but the Indian Summer was
unusually prolonged and wonderfully beautiful this year, and it was more
than any one could ask in reason that the boys should give up outdoors
to stay with him. Roger and Helen and the Ethels and Dorothy came over
from Rosemont when they could, but their daily work had to be done and
they had only a few minutes to stay after the long trolley trip.

"We must think up something for James to do," Mrs. Hancock told
Margaret. "He's tired of reading. He can use his hands. Hasn't your
Service Club something that he can work on here?" Margaret thought it
had, and the result of the conversation was that Mrs. Hancock went to
Rosemont on an afternoon car. The Ethels took her to Mrs. Smith's and
Dorothy showed her the accumulation for the Christmas Ship that already
was making a good showing in the attic devoted to the work.

"These bundles in the packing cases are all finished and ready for their
final wrappings," Dorothy explained. "There are dresses and wrappers and
sacques and sweaters and all sorts of warm clothing like that."

"And you girls did almost all of it!" exclaimed Mrs. Hancock.

"Helen and Margaret made most of those," said Ethel Brown. "In this box
are the knitted articles that are coming in every day now. Most of them
are from the Old Ladies' Home so far, but every once in a while somebody
else stops and leaves something. We girls don't knit much; it seems to
go so slowly."

"I brought one pair of wristers with me and I have another pair almost
done," said Mrs. Hancock. "What are these?"

"Those are the boxes the boys have been pasting," said Ethel Blue,
picking up one of them. "They began with the large plain ones first--the
real packing boxes."

"Here are some that are large enough for a dress."

"We've gathered all the old boxes we could find in our house or in our
friends' houses--Margaret must have hunted in your attic for she brought
over some a fortnight ago. None of the things we are making will require
a box as large as the tailors send out, so we took those boxes and the
broken ones that we found and made them over."

"That must have taken a great deal of time."

"The boys paste pretty fast now. Some of them they made to lock
together. They didn't need anything but cutting. They got that idea from
a tailor's box that Roger found."

Mrs. Hancock examined the flat pasteboard cut so that the corners would
interlock.

"The old boxes they cut down. That saves buying new pasteboard. And
they've covered some of the battered looking old ones with fresh paper
so they look as good as new--"

"And a great deal prettier," said Dorothy.

"We get wall paper at ten cents a roll for the covering," said Ethel
Blue. "They have an old-fashioned air that's attractive, Aunt Marion
says," and she held up a box covered with wild roses.

"They're lovely! And they must have cost you almost nothing."

"We did these when our treasury was very low. Now we've got almost fifty
dollars that we cleared from our entertainment after we paid all our
bills and repaid Mother what we owed her," explained Ethel Brown, "so
now the boys can get some fresh cardboard and some chintz and cretonne
and make some real beauties."

"Is this what James has been doing on Saturdays?"

"James is the best paster of all, he's so careful. He always makes his
corners as neat as pins. Sometimes the other boys are careless."

"Then I don't see why James couldn't do some of this at home now. He has
altogether too much time on his hands."

"Can't he study yet?"

"He learns his lessons but his father doesn't want him to go to school
for at least a fortnight and perhaps not then, so he has long hours with
nothing to do except read and it isn't good for him to do that all the
time."

"We've got a lot of ideas for pasting that we've been waiting for time
and cash to put into operation," said Helen who had come in in time to
hear Mrs. Hancock's complaint. "If James could have an old table that
you didn't mind his getting sticky, next to his wheel chair he could do
a quantity of things that we want very much, and it would help, oh,
tremendously."

"Tell me about them," and Mrs. Hancock sat down at once to receive her
instructions. Helen brought a sheet of paper and made a list of
materials to be bought and drew some of the articles over which she
thought that James might be puzzled.

"Some of these ideas we got from magazines," she said, "and some people
told us and some we invented ourselves. They aren't any of them very
large."

"James will like that. It is more fun to turn off a number of articles.
When he has an array standing on his table you must all go over to Glen
Point and see them."

"We thought that perhaps you'd let us have a meeting of the U. S. C. at
your house one Saturday afternoon, and we could take over some of our
work to show James and we could see his, and we could work while we were
there," suggested Helen diffidently.

"You're as good as gold to think of it! It will be the greatest pleasure
to James. Shall we say this next Saturday?"

The girls agreed that that would be a good time, and Mrs. Hancock went
home laden with materials for James's pasting operations and bearing the
pleasant news of the coming of the Club to meet with him.

Long before the hour at which they were expected James rolled himself to
the window to wait for their coming. Now that the leaves were off the
trees he could just see the car stop at the end of the street and he
watched eagerly for the flock of young people to run toward the house.
It seemed an interminable wait, yet the car on which they had promised
to come was not a minute late when at last it halted and its eager
passengers stepped off. James could see the Ethels leading the
procession, waving their hands toward the window at which they knew he
must be, although they could not see him until they came much nearer.

Dorothy followed them not far behind, and Roger and Helen brought up the
rear. Every one of them was laden with parcels of the strangest shapes.

"I know the conductor thought we were Santa Claus's own children,"
laughed Ethel Blue as they all shook hands with the invalid and inquired
after his leg.

"We've come up to have a pasting bee," said Helen, "and we all have
ideas for you to carry out."

"So have we," cried a new voice at the door, and Della and Tom came in,
also laden with parcels and also bubbling with pleasure at seeing James
so well again.

"We shall need quantities of smallish presents that you can manage here
at your table just splendidly," explained Ethel Brown.

"And dozens of wrappings of various kinds that you can make, too."

"Great and glorious," beamed James. "'Lay on, Macduff.' I'll absorb
every piece of information you give me, like a wet sponge."

"Let's do things in shipshape fashion," directed Roger. "What do you say
to boxes first? We'll lay out here our patterns, and materials."

"Let's make one apiece of everything," cried Dorothy, "and leave them
all for James to copy."

"And we can open the other bundles afterwards," said Della, "then those
materials won't get mixed up with the box materials."

"Save the papers and strings," advised Ethel Brown. "We're going to need
a fearful amount of both when wrapping time comes."

"The secretary has had a letter from Mademoiselle," Helen informed the
invalid.

"Where from?" James was aflame with interest.

"She's in Belgium; you know she said she was going to try to be sent
there. She doesn't mention the name of the town, but she's near enough
to the front for wounded to be brought in from the field."

"And she can hear the artillery booming all the time," contributed Ethel
Blue.

"And one day she went out right on to the firing line to give first
aid."

"Think of that! Our little teacher!"

"She wasn't given those black eyes for nothing! She's game right
through!" laughed Helen.



CHAPTER XIII

PASTING


"SOME of these ideas will be more appropriate for Christmas gifts here
in America than for our war orphans, it seems to me," said Helen, "but
we may as well make a lot of everything because we'll be doing some
Christmas work as a club and nothing will be lost."

"Tell me what they are and I can do them last," said James.

"And we can put them on a shelf in the club attic as models," suggested
Dorothy.

"Here's an example," said Helen, taking up a pasteboard cylinder. "This
is a mailing tube--you know those mailing tubes that you can buy all
made, of different sizes. We've brought down a lot of them to-day. Take
this fat one, for instance, and cut it off about three inches down. Then
cover it with chintz or cretonne or flowered paper or holly paper."

"Line it with the paper, too, I should say," commented James, picking up
the pieces that Helen cut off.

"Yes, indeed. Cover two round pieces and fit one of them into the bottom
and fasten the other on for a cover with a ribbon hinge, and there you
have a box for string, or rubber bands for somebody's desk."

"O.K. for rubber bands," agreed Roger, "but for string it would be
better to make a hole in the cover and let the cord run up through."

[Illustration: String Box made from a Mailing Tube]

"How would you keep the cover from flopping up and down when you pulled
the string?"

"Here's one very simple way. You know those fasteners that stationers
sell to keep papers together? They have a brass head and two legs and
when you've pushed the legs through the papers you press them apart and
they can't pull out. One of those will do very well as a knob to go on
the box part, and a loop of gold or silver cord or of ribbon can be
pasted or tied on to the cover."

"If you didn't care whether it was ever used again you could put in the
ball of twine with its end sticking through and then paste a band of
paper around the joining of the top and the box. It would be pretty as
long as the twine lasted."

"It would be a simple matter for the person who became its proud
possessor to paste on another strip of paper when he had put in his new
ball of twine."

"Any way you fix it," went on Helen, "there you have the general method
of making round boxes from these mailing tubes."

"And you can use round boxes for a dozen purposes," said Margaret; "for
candy and all the goodies we're going to send the orphans."

"Are you sure they'll keep?" asked careful James.

"Ethel Brown asked the domestic science teacher at school about that,
and she's going to give her receipts for cookies and candies that will
last at least six weeks. That will be long enough for the Christmas Ship
to go over and to make the rounds of the ports where it is to distribute
presents."

"Of course we'll make the eatables at the last minute," said Dorothy,
"and we'll pack them so as to keep the air out as much as possible."

"Give that flour paste a good boiling," Helen called after Margaret as
she left the room to prepare it.

"And don't forget the oil of cloves to keep it sweet," added Ethel
Blue.

"These round boxes will be especially good for the cookies," said Ethel
Brown, "though the string box would have to go to Father. A string box
isn't especially suitable for an orphan."

"If you split these mailing tubes lengthwise and line them inside you
get some pretty shapes," went on Helen.

"Rather shallow," commented Della.

"If you split them just in halves they are, but you don't have to do
that. Split them a little above the middle and then the cover will be
shallower than the box part."

"Right-o," nodded Roger.

"Then you line them and arrange the fastening and hinges just as you
described for the string box?" asked James.

"Exactly the same. Another way of fastening them is by making little
chintz straps and putting glove snappers on them."

"I don't see why you couldn't put ribbons into both cover and box part
and tie them together."

"You could."

"You can use these split open ones for a manicure set or a brush and
comb box for travelling."

"Or a handkerchief box."

"If you get tubes of different sizes and used military hair brushes you
could make a box for a man, with a cover that slipped over for a long
way," said Ethel Blue. "It would be just like the leather ones."

"You make one of those for Uncle Richard for Christmas," advised Ethel
Brown. "I rather think the orphans aren't keen on military brushes."

"Oh, I'm just talking out any ideas that come along. As Helen suggested,
an idea is always useful some time or other even if it won't do for
to-day's orphans."

"I saw a dandy box the other day that we might have put into
Mademoiselle's kit," said Roger. "It's a good thing to remember for some
other traveller."

"Describe," commanded James.

"I don't think these round boxes would be as convenient for it as a
square or oblong one. It had a ball of string and a tube of paste and a
pair of small scissors, and tags of different sizes and rubber bands and
labels with gum on the back."

"That's great for a desk top," said Della. "I believe I'll make one for
Father for his birthday," and she nodded toward Tom who nodded back
approvingly.

"A big blotter case is another desk gift. The back is of very stiff
cardboard and the corners are of chintz or leather. The blotters are
slipped under the corners and are kept flat by them," continued Roger,
who had noticed them because of their leather corners.

"A lot of small blotters tied together are easy to put up," contributed
Dorothy. "You can have twelve, if you want to, and paste a calendar for
a month on to each one."

"I think we ought to make those plain boxes the boys have made for the
dresses a little prettier. Can't we ornament them in some way?" asked
Ethel Blue.

"The made-over ones are all covered with fancy paper you remember," said
Tom.

"I was thinking of the plain ones that are 'neat but not gaudy.' How can
we make them 'gaudy'?"

"Christmas seals are about as easy a decoration as you can get," Tom
suggested.

"Pretty, too. Those small seals, you mean, that you put on letters. A
Santa Claus or a Christmas tree or a poinsettia would look pretty on the
smaller sized boxes."

"It would take a lot of them to show much on the larger ones, and that
would make them rather expensive. Can't we think up something cheaper?"
asked the treasurer.

"I'm daffy over wall paper," cried Dorothy. "I went with Mother to pick
out some for one of our rooms the other day and the man showed us such
beauties--they were like paintings."

"And cost like paintings, too," growled James feelingly.

"Some of them did," admitted Dorothy. "But I asked him if he didn't have
remnants sometimes. He laughed and said they didn't call them remnants
but he said they did have torn pieces and for ten cents he gave me a
regular armful. Just look at these beauties."

She held up for the others' inspection some pieces of paper with lovely
flower designs upon them.

"But those bits aren't big enough to cover a big box and the patterns
are too large to show except on a big box," objected Margaret who had
come back with the paste.

"Here's where they're just the thing for decoration of the plain boxes.
Cut out this perfectly darling wistaria--so. Could you find anything
more graceful than that? You'd have to be an artist to do anything so
good. Paste that sweeping, drooping vine with its lovely cluster of
blossoms on to the top of one of the largest boxes and that's plenty of
decoration."

Dorothy waved her vine in one hand and her scissors in the other and the
rest became infected with her enthusiasm, for the scraps of paper that
she had brought were exquisite in themselves and admirable for the
purpose she suggested.

"Good for Dorothy!" hurrahed James. "Anybody else got any ideas on this
decoration need?"

[Illustration: "Paste that vine on to the top of one of the largest
boxes"]

"I have," came meekly from Ethel Brown. "It isn't very novel but it will
work, and it will save money and it's easy."

"Trot her forth," commanded Roger.

"It's silhouettes."

Silence greeted this suggestion.

"They're not awfully easy to do," said Helen doubtfully.

"Not when you make them out of black paper, and you have to draw on the
pattern or trace it on and you can hardly see the lines and you get all
fussed up over it," acknowledged Ethel. "I've tried that way and I
almost came to the conclusion that it wasn't worth the trouble I put
into it unless you happened to be a person who can cut them right out
without drawing them first."

"I saw a man do that at a bazar once," said Della. "It was wonderful. He
illustrated Cinderella. He cut out a coach and tiny horses and the old
fairy without drawing anything at all beforehand."

"Nothing doing here," Tom pushed away an imaginary offer of scissors and
black paper.

"Here's where my grand idea comes in," insisted Ethel Brown. "My idea is
to cut out of the magazines any figures that please you."

"Figures with action would be fun," suggested Roger.

"They'd be prettiest, too. You'll find them in the advertising pages as
well as in the stories. Paste them on to your box or whatever you want
to decorate, and then go over them with black oil paint."

"Good for old Ethel Brown!" applauded her brother. "I didn't think you
had it in you, child! Have you ever tried it?"

"Yes, sir, I have. I knew I'd probably meet with objections from an
unimaginative person like you, so I decorated this cover and brought it
along as a sample."

It proved to be an idea as dashing as it was simple. Ethel Brown had
selected a girl rolling a hoop. A dog, cut from another page, was
bounding beside her. Some delicate foliage at one side hinted at a
landscape.

"Wasn't it hard not to let the black run over the edges of the picture?"
asked Della.

"Yes, you have to keep your wits about you all the time. But then you
have to do that any way if you want what you're making to amount to
anything, so that doesn't count."

"That's a capital addition, that suggestion of ground that you made with
a whisk or two of the brush."

"Just a few lines seem to give the child something to stand on."

"These plans for decoration look especially good to me," said practical
James, "because there's nothing to stick up on them. They'll pack easily
and that's what we must have for our purpose."

"That's true," agreed Helen. "For doing up presents that don't have to
travel it's pretty to cut petals of red poinsettia and twist them with
wire and make a flower that you can tuck in under the string that you
tie the parcel with--"

"Or a bit of holly. Holly is easily made out of green crêpe paper or
tissue paper," cried Della.

"But as James says, none of the boxes for the orphans can have stick-ups
or they'll look like mashed potatoes when they reach the other side."

"We'll stow away the poinsettia idea for home presents then," said
Margaret. "What we want from James, however, is a lot of boxes of any
and every size that he can squeeze out."

"No scraps thrown away, old man," decreed Tom, "for even a cube of an
inch each way will hold a few sweeties."

"Orders received and committed to memory," acknowledged the invalid,
saluting.

"By the way, I learned an awfully interesting thing to-day," said Helen.

"Name it," commanded Roger, busy with knife and pastepot making one of
the twine and tag boxes that he had described.

"I'll tell you while we each make one of the things we've been talking
about so that we can leave them for patterns with James."

Dorothy had already set about applying her wistaria vine to the cover of
a box whose body Tom was putting together. Ethel Blue was making a
string box from a mailing tube, covering it with a scrap of chintz with
a very small design; Ethel Brown was hunting in an old magazine for
figures suitable for making silhouettes; James was writing in a notebook
the various hints that had been bestowed upon him so generously that he
feared his memory would not hold them all without help; Helen and Della
were measuring and cutting some cotton cloth that was to be used in the
gifts that Della was eager to tell about.

"By the time Helen has told her tale I'll be ready to explain my gift
idea," she said.

"Go on, then, Helen," urged James, "I'm ready to 'start something'
myself, in a minute."

"You and Margaret have heard us talk about our German teacher?"

"We've seen her," said Margaret. "She was at our entertainment."

"So she was. I remember, she and her mother sat right behind the old
ladies from the Home."

"And they knitted for the soldiers whenever the lights were up."

"I guess Mrs. Hindenburg knitted when the lights were off, too," said
Helen. "I've seen her knitting with her eyes shut."

"She sent in some more wristers for the orphans the other day," said
Dorothy. "She has made seven pairs so far, and three scarfs and two
little sweaters."

"Some knitter," announced Roger.

"Fräulein knits all the time, too, but she says she can't keep up with
her mother. This is what I wanted to tell you--you remember when Roger
first went there she told him that Fräulein's betrothed was in the
German army. Well, yesterday she told us who he is."

"Is it all right for you to tell us?" warned Roger.

"It's no secret. She said that the engagement was to have been announced
as soon as he got back from Germany and that many people knew it
already."

"Is he an American German?"

"It's our own Mr. Schuler."

Roger gave a whistle of surprise; the Ethels cried out in wonder, and
the Hancocks and the Watkinses who did not know many Rosemont people,
waited for the explanation.

"Mr. Schuler was the singing teacher in the high school year before last
and last year," explained Helen. "Last spring he had to go back to
Germany in May so he was there when the army was mobilized and went
right to the front."

"It does come near home when you actually know a soldier fighting in the
German army and a nurse in a hospital on the Allies' side," said Roger
thoughtfully.

"It makes it a lot more exciting to know who Fräulein's betrothed is."

"Does she speak of him?" asked Margaret.

"She talked about him very freely yesterday after her mother mentioned
his name."

"I suppose she didn't want the high school kids gossiping about him,"
observed Roger.

"As we are," interposed James.

"We aren't gossiping," defended Helen. "She looks on the Club members as
her special friends--she said so. She knows we wouldn't go round at
school making a nine days' wonder of it. She knows we're fond of her."

"We are," agreed Roger. "She's a corker. I wonder we didn't think of its
being Mr. Schuler."

"Her mother always mentioned him as 'my daughter's betrothed'; and
Fräulein yesterday kept saying 'my betrothed.' We might have gone on in
ignorance for a long time if Mrs. Hindenburg hadn't let it slip out
yesterday."

"Well, I hope he'll come through with all his legs and arms uninjured,"
said Roger. "I hope it for Fräulein's sake, and for his, too. He's a
bully singing teacher."

"Has she heard from him since the war began?"

"Several times, but not for a month now, and she's about crazy with
anxiety. He was in Belgium when he got the last letter through and of
course that means that he has been in the very thick of it all."

"Poor Fräulein!" sighed Ethel Blue, and the others nodded seriously over
their work.



CHAPTER XIV

JAMES'S AFTERNOON PARTY


"NOW are you ready to take in all the difficulties of my art object?"
asked Della.

"Trot her out," implored James.

"It's picture books."

A distinct sniff went over the assembly, only kept in check by a desire
to be polite.

"There can't be anything awfully new about picture books," said Tom.

"Especially cloth picture books. You and Helen have been cutting out
cambric for cloth picture books," accused Ethel Brown.

"Della has been making some variations, though." Helen came to Della's
rescue. "She's made some with the leaves all one color, pink or blue;
and here's another one with a variety--two pages light pink, and the
next two pages pale green."

Ethel Brown cast a more interested eye toward the picture book display.

"How do you sew them together?" she asked.

"You can do it on the machine and let it go at that. In fact, that's the
best plan even if you go on to add some decoration of feather-stitching
or cat-stitching. The machine stitching makes it firmer."

"Is there an interlining?"

"I tried them with and without an interlining. I don't think an
interlining is necessary. The two thicknesses of cambric are all you
need."

"Dicky has a cloth book with just one thickness for each page," said
Ethel Brown.

"But that's made of very heavy cotton," explained Helen.

"You cut your cambric like a sheet of note-paper," said Della.

"Haven't my lessons on scientific management soaked in better than
that?" demanded Roger. "If you want to save time you cut just as many
sheets of note-paper, so to speak, as your scissors will go through."

"Certainly," retorted Della with dignity. "I took it for granted that
the members of the U. S. C. had learned that. Put two sheets of this
cambric note-paper together flat and stitch them. That makes four pages
to paste on, you see. You can make your book any size you want to and
have just as many pages as you need to tell your story on."

"Story? What story?" asked Ethel Blue, interestedly.

"Aha! I thought you'd wake up!" laughed Della. "Here, my children, is
where my book differs from most of the cloth picture books that you ever
saw. My books aren't careless collections of pictures, with no relation
to each other. Here's a cat book, for instance. Not just every-day cats,
though I've put in lots of cats and some kodaks of my own cat. There are
pictures of the big cats--lions and tigers--and I've put in some scenery
so that the child who gets this book will have an idea of what sort of
country the beasts really live in."

"It's a natural history book," declared James.

"Partly. But it winds up with 'The True Story of Thomas's Nine Lives.'"

"The kid it is going to won't know English," objected Roger.

"Oh, I haven't written it out. It's just told in pictures with 1, 2, 3,
through 9 at the head of each page. They'll understand."

"Do you see what an opportunity the different colored cambric gives?"
said Helen. "Sometimes Della uses colored pictures or she paints them,
and then she makes the background harmonize with the coloring of the
figures."

"Why couldn't you make a whole book of my silhouettes?" demanded Ethel
Brown.

"Bully!" commended James.

"You can work out all sorts of topics in these books, you see," Della
went on. "There are all the fairy stories to illustrate and 'Red Riding
Hood,' and the 'Bears,' and when you get tired of making those you can
have one about 'The Wonders of America,' and put in Niagara."

"And the Rocky Mountains," said Tom.

"And the Woolworth Building," suggested Ethel Brown.

"And a cotton field with the negroes picking cotton," added Ethel Blue.

"There wouldn't be any trouble getting material for that one," said
Helen.

"Nor for one on any American city. I've got one started that is going to
show New York from the statue of Liberty to the Jumel Mansion and the
Van Cortland House, with a lot of other historical buildings and
skyscrapers and museums in between."

"We'll be promoting emigration from the old country after the war is
over if we show the youngsters all the attractions that Uncle Sam has
to offer."

"There'll be a lot of them come over anyway so they might as well learn
what they'll see when they arrive."

"I see heaps of opportunities in that idea," said Roger. "There's a
chance to teach the kiddies something by these books if we're careful to
be truthful in the pictures we put in."

"Not to make monkeys swinging down the forests of Broadway, eh?" laughed
Tom.

"If I'm to do a million or two of these you'll all have to help me get
the pictures together," begged James.

"I've brought some with me you can have for a starter," said Della, "and
I'm collecting others and keeping them in separate envelopes--animals in
one and buildings in another and so on. It will make it easier for you."

"_Muchas gracias, Señorita_," bowed James, who was just beginning
Spanish and liked to air a "Thank you" occasionally.

"I know what I'm going to make for some member of my family," declared
Roger.

"Name it, it will be such a surprise when it comes."

"Probably it will go to Grandmother Emerson so I don't mind telling you
that I think I'll write a history of our summer at Chautauqua and
illustrate it."

"That's the best notion that ever came from Roger," approved James. "I
think I'll make one and give it to Father. The Recognition Day
procession and all that, you know."

"Envelopes make me think that we may have some small gifts--cards or
handkerchiefs--that we can send in envelopes," said Ethel Blue, "and we
ought to decorate them just as much as our boxes."

"They won't be hard. Any of the ideas we've suggested for the boxes will
do--flowers and silhouettes, and seals. You're a smarty with watercolors
so you can paint some original figures or a tiny landscape, but the rest
of us will have to keep to the pastepot," laughed Margaret.

"For home gifts we can write rhymes to put into the envelopes, but I
suppose it wouldn't do for these European kids," said Tom. "We don't
know where they're going, you see, and it would never do if an English
child got a German rhyme or the other way round."

"O-oh, ne-_ver_," gasped Ethel Blue whose quick imagination sympathized
with the feelings of a child to whom such a thing happened. "We'll have
to make them understand through their eyes."

"Fortunately Santa Claus with his pack speaks a language they can all
understand," nodded Roger.

"Here comes his humble servant right now," exclaimed Mrs. Hancock at the
door.

Tom ran to hold it open for her, and Roger relieved her of the waiter
which she was carrying.

"James has to have an egg-nog at this time," she explained, "so I
thought all of you might like to be 'picked up' after your hard
afternoon's work."

These sentiments were greeted with applause though Tom insisted that the
best part of the afternoon was yet to come as he had not yet had a
chance to tell about his invention.

"One that you'll appreciate tremendously, Mrs. Hancock," he said
gravely. "All housekeepers will. You must get Margaret to make you
one."

"Don't tell her what it is and I can give it to her for Christmas,"
cried Margaret.

James's egg-nog and his wafers were placed on the table beside him. The
others sat at small tables, of which there were several around the room,
and drank their egg-nog and ate their cakes with great satisfaction.

"Tell me how this egg-nog is made," begged Helen. "It is delicious and
I'm sure Mother would like to know."

"Mother always has it made the same way," replied Margaret. "I'm sure it
is concocted out of six eggs and half a pound of sugar, and three pints
of whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg."

"It's so foamy--that isn't the whipped cream alone."

"First you beat the yolks of the eggs and the sugar together until it is
all frothy. Then you beat the whites of the eggs by themselves until
they are stiff and you stir that in gently. Then you put the spice on
top of that and lastly you heap the whipped cream on top of the whole
thing."

"It's perfectly delicious," exclaimed Dorothy, "and so is the fruit
cake."

"Mother prides herself on her fruit cake. It is good, isn't it? She's
going to let me make some to send to the orphans."

"Won't that be great. Baked in ducky little pans like these."

"They'll keep perfectly, of course."

"Would your mother let us have the receipt now so we could be practicing
it to make some too?" asked Dorothy.

"I'm sure she'd be delighted," and Margaret ran off to get her mother's
manuscript cook book from which Dorothy copied the following receipt:


"Fruit Cake

          "½ cup butter
           ¾ cup brown sugar
           ¾ cup raisins, chopped
           ¾ cup currants
           ½ cup citron, cut in small pieces
           ½ cup molasses
           2 eggs
           ½ cup milk
           2 cups flour
           ½ teaspoon soda
           1 teaspoon cinnamon
           ½ teaspoon allspice
           ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
           ¼ teaspoon cloves
           ½ teaspoon lemon extract or vanilla

"Sift the flour, soda and spices together. Beat the eggs, add the milk
to them. Cream the butter, add the sugar gradually, add the molasses,
the milk and egg, then the flour gradually. Mix the fruit, sift a little
flour over it, rub it in the flour, add to it the mixture. Add the
extract. Stir and beat well. Fill greased pans two-thirds full. Bake in
a moderately hot oven one and a quarter hours if in a loaf. In small
sizes bake slowly twenty to thirty minutes."

"I'm ready to hear what Tom's got to offer," said James, leaning back
luxuriously in his chair after the remains of the feast had been taken
away.

"Mine is a paper-cutting scheme," responded Tom. "Perhaps it won't come
easy to everybody, but on a small scale I'm something of a paper cutter
myself."

"Dull edged?" queried Roger.

"Hm," acknowledged Tom. "I can't illustrate 'Cinderella' like the man
Della saw, but I can cut simple figures and I want to propose one
arrangement of them to this august body."

"Fire ahead," came Roger's permission.

"It's just a variation of the strings of paper dolls that I used to make
for Della when she was a year or two younger than she is now."

Della received this taunt with a puckered face.

[Illustration: "Fold strips of paper and then cut one figure of a little
girl"]

"You fold strips of white paper--or blue or yellow or any old color--in
halves and then in halves again and then again, until it is about three
inches wide. Then you cut one figure of a little girl, letting the tips
of the hands and skirts remain uncut. When you unfold the strip you have
a string of cutey little girls joining hands. See?"

They all laughed for all of them had cut just such figures when they
were children.

"Now my application of this simple device," went on Tom in the solemn
tones of a professor, "is to make them serve as lamp shades."

"For the orphans?" laughed Roger.

"For the orphans I'm going to cut about a bushel of strips of all
colors. Children always like to play with them just so."

"I don't see why those of us who can't draw couldn't cut a child or a
dog or some figure from a magazine and lay it on the folded paper and
trace around the edges and then cut it," suggested Dorothy.

[Illustration: A String of Paper Dolls]

"You could perfectly well. All you have to remember is to leave a folded
edge at the side, top and bottom. You can make a row of dogs standing on
their hind paws and holding hands--forepaws--and the ground they are
standing on will fasten them together at the bottom."

"How does the lamp shade idea work out?" asked Helen with Grandfather
Emerson's Christmas gift in mind.

"You cut a string of figures that are fairly straight up and down, like
Greek maidens or some conventional vases or a dance of clowns. Then you
must be sure that your strip is long enough to go around your shade.
Then you line it with asbestos paper--the kind that comes in a sort of
book for the kitchen."

"I see. You paste the strip right on to the asbestos paper and cut out
the figures," guessed James.

"Exactly," replied Tom. "After which you paste the ends of the strip
together and there you have your shade ready to slip on to the glass."

[Illustration: Photograph Frame--front]

"What keeps it from falling down and off?"

"The shape of the shade usually holds it up. If it isn't the right
shape, though, you can run a cord through your figures' hands and
tighten them up as much as you need to."

"I think that's a rather jolly stunt of Tom's," commended Roger
patronizingly. Tom gave him a kick under the table and James growled a
request not to hit his game leg.

[Illustration: Photograph Frame--back]

"If you boys are beginning to quarrel it's time we adjourned," decided
the president. "Has anybody any more ideas to get off her alleged mind
this afternoon?"

"I thought of picture frames," offered James.

"While my hand is in with pasting I believe I'll make some frames--a
solid pasteboard back and the front with an oval or an oblong or a
square cut out of it. You paste the front on to the back at the edges
except at the bottom. You leave that open to put the picture in."

"You can cover that with chintz--cotton, cotton, cotton," chanted
Dorothy, who seldom missed a chance to promote the cotton crusade.

"How do you hang it up?" asked Margaret.

"Stick on a little brass ring with a bit of tape. Or you can make it
stand by putting a stiff bit of cardboard behind it with a tape hinge."

"That would be a good home present," said Ethel Brown.

"Perfectly good for family photographs. You can make them hold two or
three. But you can fix them up for the European kids and put in any sort
of picture--a dog or a cat or George Washington or some really beautiful
picture."

"I believe in giving them pictures of America or American objects or
places or people," said Dorothy.

"Dorothy is the champion patriot of the United Service Club," laughed
Roger. "Come on, infants; we must let James rest or Mrs. Hancock won't
invite us to come again. I wish you could get over to Rosemont for the
movies next week," he added.

"What movies?"

"The churches have clubbed together and hired the school hall and
they're going to get the latest moving pictures from the war zone that
they can find. It is the first time Rosemont has ever had the real
thing."



CHAPTER XV

PREVENTION


THE Mortons were gathered about the fire in the half hour of the day
which they especially enjoyed. Mrs. Morton made a point of being at home
herself for this time, and she liked to have all the young people meet
her in the dusk and tell her of the day's work and play. It was a time
when every one was glad to rest for a few minutes after dressing for
dinner.

"I'm sure to get my hair mussed up if I do anything but talk to Mother
after I brush it for dinner," Roger was in the habit of explaining, "so
it suits me just to stare at the fire."

He was sitting now on the floor beside her with his head leaning against
the arm of her chair. Dicky was occupying the Morris chair with her, and
the three girls were in comfortable positions, the Ethels on the sofa
and Helen knitting a scarf as she sat on a footstool before the blaze.

"You're not trying your eyes knitting in this imperfect light?" asked
her mother.

"This is plain sailing, Mother. I can rush along on this straight piece
almost as fast as Mrs. Hindenburg, and I don't have to look on at all
unless a horrid fear seizes me that I've skipped a stitch."

"Which I hope you haven't done."

"Never really but there have been several false alarms."

"How is Fräulein?"

"All right, I guess."

"Did you see her to-day?"

"We had German compo to-day. I didn't do much with it."

"Why not?"

"It didn't seem to go off well. I don't know why. Perhaps I didn't try
as hard as usual."

"Did it disturb Fräulein?"

"Did what disturb Fräulein?"

"That you didn't do your lesson well."

"Disturb Fräulein? I don't know. Why should it disturb her? I should
think I was the one to be disturbed."

"Were you?"

"Was I disturbed? Well, no, Mother, to tell the truth I didn't care
much. That old German is so hard and the words all break up so
foolishly--somehow it didn't seem very important to me this morning. And
Fanny Shrewsbury said something awfully funny about it under her breath
and we got laughing and--no, I wasn't especially disturbed."

"Although you had a poor lesson and didn't try to make up for it by
paying strict attention in the class!"

"Why, Mother, I, er--"

Helen stopped knitting.

"You think I'm taking too seriously a poor lesson that wasn't very bad,
after all? Possibly I am, but I've been noticing that all of you are
more careless lately than I want my girls and boys to be."

Mrs. Morton stroked Roger's hair and looked around at the handsome young
faces illuminated by the firelight.

"You mean us, too?" cried the Ethels, sitting up straight upon the sofa.

"You, too."

"We haven't meant to be careless, Mother," said Roger soberly. His
mother's good opinion was something he was proud of keeping and she was
so fair in her judgments that he felt that he must meet any accusations
like the present in the honest spirit in which they were made.

"Do you want to know what I think is the trouble with all of you?"

Every one of them cried out for information, even Dicky, whose "Yeth"
rang out above the others.

"If you ask for my candid opinion," responded Mrs. Morton, "I think you
are giving so much time and attention to the work of the U. S. C. that
you aren't paying proper attention to the small matters of every day
life that we must all meet."

"Oh, but, Mother, you approve of the U. S. C."

"Certainly I approve of it. I think it is fine in every way; but I don't
believe in your becoming so absorbed in it that you forget your daily
duties. Aunt Louise had to telephone to Roger to go over and start her
furnace for her yesterday when the sharp snap came, and the Ethels have
been rushing off in the morning without doing the small things to help
Mary that are a part of their day's work."

"Oh, Mother, they're such little things! She can do them easily once in
a while."

"Any one of your morning tasks is a small matter, but when none of them
are done they mount up to a good deal for Mary. If there were some real
necessity for making an extra bed Mary would do it without complaining,
but when, as happened yesterday morning, neither of you Ethels made
your bed, and Roger left towels thrown all over his floor, and not one
of Helen's bureau drawers was shut tight, and Dicky upset a box of beads
and went off to kindergarten without picking them up--don't you see that
what meant but a few minutes' work for each one of you meant an hour's
work for one person?"

"I'll bet Mary didn't mind," growled Roger.

"Mary is too loyal to say anything, but if your present careless habits
should continue we should have to have an extra maid to wait on you, and
you know very well that that is impossible."

"I'm sorry, Mother," said Roger penitently. "I'm sorry about the towels
and about Aunt Louise and I'm sorry I growled. You're right, of course."

"I rather guess we've been led astray by being so successful with our
team work in the club," said Helen thoughtfully. "We've found out that
we can do all sorts of things well if we pull together and we've been
forgetting to apply co-operation at home."

"Exactly," agreed Mrs. Morton. "And you've been so absorbed in the needs
of people several thousand miles away that you overlook the needs of
people beside you. What you've been doing to Mary is unkind; what Helen
did to Fräulein this morning was unkind."

"Oh, Mother! I wouldn't be unkind to Fräulein for the world."

"I don't believe you would if you thought about it. She certainly is in
such sore trouble that she needs all the consideration that her scholars
can give her, yet you must have annoyed her greatly this morning."

"I'm afraid Fräulein's used to our not knowing our lessons very well,"
observed Roger.

"I'm sorry to hear that, but if you know you aren't doing as well as you
ought to with your lessons that is the best reason in the world for you
to pay the strictest attention while you are in class. Yet Helen says
that she and Fanny Shrewsbury were laughing. I'm afraid Fräulein isn't
feeling especially content with her work this afternoon."

"Mother, you make me feel like a hound dog," cried Helen. "And I've been
talking as if I were so sorry for Fräulein!"

"You are sorry for her as the heroine of a romance, because her
betrothed is in the army and she doesn't know where he is or whether he
is alive. It sounds like a story in a book. But when you think what that
would mean if it were you that had to endure the suffering it wouldn't
seem romantic. Suppose Father were fighting in Mexico and we hadn't
heard from him for a month--do you think you could throw off your
anxiety for a minute? Don't you think you'd have to be careful every
instant in school to control yourself? Don't you think it would be
pretty hard if some one in school constantly did things that irritated
you--didn't know her lessons and then laughed and giggled all through
the recitation hour?"

Helen's and Roger's heads were bent.

"Imagine," Mrs. Morton went on, "how you would feel every day when you
came home, wondering all the way whether a letter had come; wondering
whether, if one _had_ come, it would be from Father or from some one
else saying that Father was--wounded."

"Oh, Mother, I can't--" Helen was almost crying.

"You can't bear to think of it; yet--"

"Yet Fräulein was just so anxious and--"

"And we made things worse for her!"

"I know you didn't think--"

"We ought to think. I've excused myself all my life by saying 'I didn't
think.' I ought to think."

"'I didn't think' _explains_, but it doesn't _excuse_."

"Nothing excuses meanness."

"That's true."

"And it's almost as mean not to see when people are in trouble as it is
to see it and not to care."

"I'm glad you're teaching us to be observant, Aunt Marion," said Ethel
Blue quietly. "I used to think it was sort of _distinguished_ to be
absent-minded and not to pay attention to people, but now I think it's
just _stupidity_."

"Mother," said Roger, sitting up straight, "I've been a beast. Poor
Fräulein is worrying herself to pieces every minute of the day and I
never thought anything about it. And I let Aunt Louise freeze yesterday
morning and Dorothy had to go to school before the house was warmed up
and she had a cold to-day because she got chilled. I see your point, and
I'm a reformed pirate from this minute!"

Roger rose and squared his shoulders and walked about the room.

"When you think it out it's little things that are hard to manage all
the time," he went on thoughtfully. "Here are these little things that
we've been pestering Mary about, and when we kids squabble it's almost
always about some trifle."

"A pin prick is often more trying than a severe wound," agreed his
mother. "You brace yourself to bear a real hurt, but it doesn't seem
worth while for a trifle and so you whine about it before you think. If
Father and Uncle Richard really were in action all of us would do our
best to be brave about it and to bear our trouble uncomplainingly--"

"The way Fräulein does," murmured Helen.

"That's the way when you have a sickness," said Ethel Brown. "When I had
the measles you and Mary said I didn't make much fuss, but every time I
catch cold I'm afraid all of you hear about it."

"We do," agreed Roger cheerfully.

"I should say, then," remarked Mrs. Morton as Mary appeared at the door
to announce dinner, "that this club should bear in mind that it is to
serve not only those at a distance but those near home, and not only to
serve people in deepest trouble but to serve by preventing suffering."

"I get you, Mother dear," said Roger, taking his father's seat.

"Prevention is a great modern principle that we don't think enough
about," said Mrs. Morton.

"I know what you mean--fire prevention," exclaimed Ethel Blue. "Tom
Watkins was telling us the other day about the Fire Prevention parade
they had in New York. There were a lot of engines and hose wagons and
ladder wagons and they were all covered with cards telling how much
wiser it was to prevent fire than to let it start and then try to put it
out."

"Della saw the parade," said Ethel Brown. "She told me there were signs
that said 'It's cheaper to put a sprinkler in your factory than to
rebuild the factory'; and 'One cigarette in a factory may cost
thousands of dollars in repairs.'"

"The doctors have been working to prevent disease," said Roger. "James
has often told me what his father is doing to teach people how to avoid
being sick."

"All these clean-up campaigns are really for the prevention of illness
as much as the making of cleanliness," said Mrs. Morton.

"Everything of that sort educates people, and we can apply the same
methods to our own lives," advised Mrs. Morton. "Why can't we have a
household campaign to prevent giving Mary unnecessary work and to avoid
irritating each other?"

"All that can be worked in as part of the duties of the Service Club,"
said Ethel Blue.

"Certainly it can. What's the matter, Ethel Brown?"

Ethel Brown was on the point of tears.

"One of the girls at school gave me an order for cookies the other day,"
she said, "and I didn't do them because we went over to the Hancocks'
that afternoon."

"You got your own punishment there," remarked Roger. "If you didn't fill
the order you didn't get any pay."

"That wasn't all. She was going to take them to a cousin of hers who was
just getting over the mumps. She wanted to surprise her. She was awfully
mad because I didn't make them. She said she had depended on them and
she didn't have anything to take to her cousin."

"There you see it," exclaimed Mrs. Morton. "It didn't seem much to Ethel
Brown not to make two or three dozen cookies, but in the first place
she broke her promise, and in the next place she caused real unhappiness
to a girl who was depending on them to give pleasure to her sick
cousin."

"You've given us a shake-up we won't forget soon, Mother," remarked
Roger. "There's one duty I haven't done this week that you haven't
mentioned, but I'm pretty sure you know it so I might as well bring it
into the light myself and say I'm sorry."

"What is it?" laughed his mother.

"I haven't been over to see Grandfather and Grandmother Emerson for ten
days."

"They'll be sorry."

"I was relying on one of the girls going."

"We haven't been," confessed the Ethels.

"Nor I," admitted Helen.

Mrs. Morton looked serious.

"We love to go there," said Ethel Brown, "but we've been so busy."

"Too busy to be kind to the people near at hand, eh?"

The young people looked ruefully at one another.

"Anyway, watch me be attentive to Fräulein," promised Helen.

She was. She and Roger made a point of giving her as little trouble as
possible; and of paying her unobtrusive attentions. Roger carried home
for her a huge bundle of exercises; the Ethels left some chestnuts at
her door when they came back from a hunt on the hillside, and even Dicky
wove her a mat at kindergarten of red and white and black paper--the
German colors.

The Mortons were all attention to James, too. Every day they remembered
to call him up on the telephone and ask him how his box-making was
coming on. He had a telephone extension on the table at his elbow and
these daily talks cheered him greatly. The others were leaving the
making of most of the pasted articles to him, and they were going on
with the manufacture of baskets and leather and brass and copper
articles and of odds and ends of various kinds.

"Perhaps I'll be able to get up to Dorothy's next Saturday," James
phoned to Roger one day, "if Mrs. Smith wouldn't mind the Club meeting
downstairs. I suppose the Pater wouldn't let me try to climb to the
attic yet."

Mrs. Smith was delighted to make the change for James's benefit, but
before the day came he called up Roger one afternoon in great
excitement.

"When did you say those church movies were?" he asked.

"To-morrow evening."

"Father says he'll take me over if he doesn't have a hurry call at the
last minute."

Roger gave a whoop that resounded along the wire.

"You'll find the whole Club drawn up at the door of the schoolhouse to
meet you," he cried. "The Watkinses are coming out from New York. Will
Margaret come with you?"

"She and Mother will go over in the trolley."

As Roger had promised, the Club was drawn up in double ranks before the
door when Doctor Hancock stopped his machine close to the step. Roger
and Tom ran down to make a chair on which to carry James inside, and
Helen and Dorothy were ready with the wheel-chair belonging to the old
lady at the Home who had been glad to lend it for the evening to the boy
whose acquaintance she had made at the Club entertainment.

James was rather embarrassed at being so conspicuous, but all his
Rosemont acquaintances came to speak to him and he was quite the hero of
the occasion.

The moving pictures were an innovation in Rosemont. There had been
various picture shows in empty stores in the town and they had not all
been of a character approved by the parents of the school children who
went to them in great numbers. The rooms were dark and there was danger
of fire and the pictures themselves were not always suitable for young
people to see or agreeable for their elders. The result of a conference
among some of the townspeople who had the interests of the place at
heart was this entertainment which was the first of a series to be given
in the school hall on Friday evenings all through the winter. The films
were chosen by a sub-committee and it was hoped that they would be so
liked that the poor places down town would find it unprofitable to
continue.

The program was pleasantly varied. The story of a country boy who went
to New York to make his fortune and who found out that, as in the
Oriental story, his fortune lay buried in his own dooryard--in this case
in the printing office of his own town--was the opener.

That was followed by a remarkable film showing the habits of swallows
and by another whereon some of the flowers of Burbank's garden waved
softly in the California breeze.

A dramatization of Daudet's famous story called "The Last Class" brought
tears to the eyes of the onlookers whose thoughts were much across the
Atlantic.

It was a simple, touching tale, and it served appropriately as the
forerunner of the war pictures that had just been sent to America by
photographers in Germany and France and Belgium.

The first showed troops leaving Berlin, flags flying, bands playing,
while the crowds along the street waved a cheerful parting, though once
in a while a woman bent her head behind her neighbor's shoulder to hide
her tears.

There were scenes in Belgium--houses shattered by the bombs of airmen,
huge holes dug by exploding shells; wounded soldiers making their way
toward the hospitals, those with bandaged heads and arms helping those
whose staggering feet could hardly carry them.

It was a serious crowd that followed every movement that passed on the
screen before their eyes. The silence was deep.

Then came a hospital scene. Rows upon rows of beds ran from the front of
the picture almost out of sight. Down the space between them came the
doctors, instruments in hand, and behind them the nurses, the red
crosses gleaming on their arm bands.

A stir went through the onlookers.

"It looks like her."

"I believe it is."

"Don't you think so? The one on the right?"

"It is--it's Mademoiselle Millerand!" cried Roger clearly.

The operator, hearing the noise in front of his booth, and all
unconscious that he was showing a friend to these townspeople where the
pretty young French teacher had lived for two years, almost stopped
turning his machine. So slowly it went that there was no doubt among any
who had known her. She followed the physician to the bed nearest the
front. There they stopped and the doctor turned to Mademoiselle and
asked some question. She was ready with bandages. An orderly slipped his
arm under the soldier's pillow and raised his head. His eyes were closed
and his face was deathly white. The doctor shook his head. Evidently he
would not attempt an operation upon so ill a man. He signed to the
attendant to lay the man down and as he did so the people in Rosemont,
far, far away from the Belgian hospital, heard a piercing shriek.

"_Mein Verlobt!_ My betrothed!" screamed Fräulein Hindenburg.

"That's Schuler."

"Don't you recognize Schuler?"

"No wonder poor Fräulein screamed!"

Kind hands were helping Fräulein and her mother from the hall. Doctor
Hancock went out with them to give a restorative to the young woman and
to take them home in his car.

"Didn't he die at that very moment, Herr Doctor?" whispered Fräulein,
and the doctor was obliged to confess that it seemed so.

"But we can't be sure," he insisted.

Fräulein's agitation put an end to the entertainment for that evening.
Indeed, the film was almost exhausted when the bitter sight came to her.
The people filed out seriously.

"If that poor girl has been in doubt about her betrothed, now she
knows," one said to another.

"Do you think he really died?" James asked his father as they were
driving home.

"I'm afraid he did, son. But there is just a chance that he didn't
because the film changed just there to another scene so you couldn't
tell."

"That might have been because they didn't want to show a death scene."

"I'm afraid it was."



CHAPTER XVI

FOR SANTA CLAUS'S PACK


JAMES telephoned Dorothy that he was going to be at her house on the
afternoon of the Club meeting if it was going to be downstairs and
Dorothy replied that her mother was very glad to let them have the
dining room to work in. All the members had arrived when Doctor Hancock
stopped his car at the door and Margaret got out and rang the bell for
Roger's and Tom's help in getting James into the house. Everybody hailed
him with pleasure and everybody's tongue began at once to chatter about
the dramatic happening of the evening before.

"I'm perfectly crazy to hear everything you've learned this morning,"
said Margaret, "but before we start talking about it I want to make a
beginning on a basket so I can be working while I listen."

"Me, too," said James. "I've pasted enough boxes and gimcracks to fill a
young cottage. In fact they are now packed in a young cottage that
Father is going to bring over some day when he hasn't any other load. He
said the car wouldn't hold it and Margaret and him and me all at the
same time this afternoon."

"We've been making all sorts of things this week," said Ethel Brown.
"I'm just finishing the last of a dozen balls that I've been covering
with crochet. It's the simplest thing in the world and they're fine for
little children because the slippery rubber balls slide out of their
fingers and these are just rough enough for their tiny paws to cling
to."

"I've been making those twin bed-time dolls," said Ethel Blue. "You've
seen them in all the shops--just ugly dolls of worsted--but mine are
made like the Danish _Nisse_, the elves that the Danes use to decorate
their Yuletide trees."

She held up a handful of wee dolls made of white worsted, doubled until
the little figure was about a finger long. A few strands on each side
were cut shorter than the rest and stood out as arms. A red thread tied
a little way from the top indicated the neck; another about the middle
defined the waist; the lower part was divided and each leg was tied at
the ankle with red thread, and a red thread bound the wrists. On the
head a peaked red hat of flannel or of crochet shaded a face wherein two
black stitches represented the eyes, a third the nose, and a red dot the
ruby lips. From the back of the neck a crocheted cord about eighteen
inches long connected one elf with his twin.

"What's the idea of two?" inquired Tom.

"To keep each other company. You tie them on to a wire of the baby's
crib and they won't get lost."

"Or on to the perambulator."

"They don't take long to make--see, I wind the wool over my fingers, so,
to get the right length, and then I tie them as quick as a wink; and
when I feel in the mood of making the caps I turn off a dozen or two of
them--"

"And the cord by the yard, I suppose."

"Just about. I've made quantities of these this week and I'm not going
to make any more, so I'll help with the baskets or the stenciling."

"I've been jig-sawing," said Roger. "I've made jumping jacks till you
can't rest."

"Where did you get your pattern?" asked Tom who also was a jig sawyer.

[Illustration: Jumping Jack]

"I took an old one of Dicky's that was on the downward road and pulled
it to pieces so that I could use each part for a pattern. I cut out ever
so many of each section. Then I spent one afternoon painting legs and
arms and jackets and caps, and Ethel Blue painted the faces for me. I'm
not much on expression except my own, you know."

"Have you put them together yet?"

"Dorothy has been tying the pull strings for me this afternoon and I'm
going to do the glueing now while you people are learning baskets."

"James ought to do the glueing for you," suggested Margaret in spite of
James's protesting gestures.

Roger laughed.

"I wouldn't be so mean as to ask him," he said. "He's stuck up enough
for one lifetime, I suspect."

"I've been jigging, too," confessed Tom.

"Anything pretty?" asked Roger.

"Of course something pretty," defended Helen. "Don't you remember the
beauty box he made Margaret?"

"I certainly do. Its delicate openwork surpassed any of my humble
efforts."

"It was pretty, wasn't it?" murmured Margaret. "The yellow silk lining
showed through."

"What I've been doing lately was the very simplest possible toy for the
orphans." Tom disclaimed any fine work. "I've just been cutting circles
out of cigar boxes and punching two holes side by side in each one. Then
I run a string through the two holes. You slip it over your forefinger
of each hand and whirl the disk around the string until it is wound up
tight and then by pulling the string you keep the whirligig going
indefinitely."

"It doesn't look like much of a toy to me," said Della crushingly.

"May be not, ma'am, but I tried it on Dad and Edward and they played
with it for ten minutes apiece. You find yourself pulling it in time to
some air you're humming in the back of your head."

"Right-o," agreed James. "I had a tin one once and I played with it from
morning till night. I believe the orphans will spend most of their
waking hours tweaking those cords."

"I'm glad you think so," said Tom. "Roger was so emphatic I was afraid
I'd been wasting my time."

"What's Dorothy been up to this week?" asked James.

"Dorothy couldn't make up her mind whether she wanted most to make bags
or model clay candlesticks or dress dolls this week," responded Dorothy,
"but she finally decided to dress dolls."

"Where did you get the dolls?"

"Some of them I got with treasury money--they're real dolls, and I made
galoptious frocks for them out of scraps from piece-bags."

"Were you patient enough to make all the clothes to take off?" asked
Della.

"Every identical garment," replied Dorothy emphatically. "Dolls aren't
any fun unless you can dress and undress them. I never cared a rap for a
doll with its clothes fastened on."

"Nor I."

"Nor I."

"Nor I."

Every girl in the room agreed with this opinion.

"The rag dolls are the ones I believe the children will like best," said
Helen; "that is, if they are at all like American children."

"Isn't it funny--I always liked that terrible looking old rag object of
mine better than the prettiest one Father ever sent me," agreed Ethel
Blue.

"Every child does," said Margaret.

"Dorothy made some fine ones," complimented Helen.

"Did you draw them or did you get the ones that are already printed on
cloth?" asked Della.

"Both. The printed ones are a great deal prettier than mine, but Aunt
Marion had a stout piece of cotton cloth--"

A shout arose.

"Cotton cloth! That's enough to interest Dorothy in making anything,"
laughed Tom.

"Almost," agreed Dorothy good-naturedly. "Any way, I used up the piece
of cloth making dolls and cats and dogs. I drew them on the cloth and
then stitched them on the machine and, I tell you, I remembered the time
when Dicky's stuffed cat had an awful accident and lost almost all his
inner thoughts, and I sewed every one of the little beasties twice
around."

"What did you stuff them with?"

"Some with cotton."

"Ha, ha!"

"Ha!" retorted Dorothy, "and some with rags, and one with sawdust, but I
didn't care for him; he was lumpy."

"I didn't know you could paint well enough to color them," said Roger.

"I can't. I did a few but Ethel Blue did the best one. There was a cat
that was so fierce that Aunt Marion's cat growled at it. He was a
winner!"

"All the rag dolls were dressed in cotton dresses," explained Ethel
Brown.

"Of course."

"But the real dolls were positively scrumptious. There was a bride, and
a girl in a khaki sport suit, and a boy in a sailor suit, and a baby.
They were regular beauties."

All the time that these descriptions had been given Dorothy and the
Mortons had been opening packages of rattan and raffia and laying them
out on the dining table. James sat in state at one end, his convalescent
leg raised on a chair, and his right hand to the table so that he could
handle his materials easily.

"I'm simply perishing to hear about Fräulein," he acknowledged. "Do
start me on this basket business, Dorothy, so I can hear about her."

"We don't know such an awful lot," said Dorothy slowly as she counted
out the spokes for a small basket. "In fact, we don't know anything at
all."

"Misery! And my curiosity has been actually on the boil! How many of
those sticks do I need?"

"Let's all do the same basket," suggested Ethel Brown. "Then one lecture
by Miss Dorothy Smith will do for all of us."

"Doesn't anybody else know how to make them?"

"Della and I do," replied Ethel Blue. "We're going to work on raffia,
but you people might just as well all do one kind of basket. We can use
any number of them, you know, so it doesn't make any difference if they
are all alike."

"We'll start with a basket that measures three inches across the bottom
and is two and a half inches deep," announced Dorothy, who was an expert
basket maker. "You'll need eight spokes sixteen inches long and one nine
inches long."

There was a general cutting and counting of rattan spokes.

"Are you ready? Take your knife and in four rattans make slits long
enough to poke the other four rattans through."

"They're rather fat to get through," complained James.

[Illustration: "Make slits long enough to poke the other rattans
through. Sharpen them to a point"]

[Illustration: "You'll need eight spokes sixteen inches long and one
nine inches long"]

"Sharpen them to a point. Have you put them through so they make a cross
with the arms of even length? Then put the single short piece through on
one arm--no, not way through, James; just far enough to catch it."

"That's pretty solid just as it is," commented Tom with his head on one
side.

"Nevertheless, you must wrap it with a piece of raffia. Watch me; lay
your raffia at the left side of the upright arm and bring it across from
left to right. Now pass it under the right hand arm and over the bottom
arm and under the left hand arm. Instead of covering the wrapping you've
just done you turn back and let your bit of raffia go _over_ the left
hand arm."

[Illustration: "This weaving process makes the spokes stand out like
wheel spokes"]

"That binds down the beginning end of the raffia," cried Helen.

"Exactly. That's why you do it. Go under the bottom arm and over the
right hand arm behind the top arm."

"Back at the station the train started from," announced Margaret.

"So far you've used your weaver--"

"What's that? The raffia?"

"Yes. So far you've used it merely to fasten the centre firmly. Now you
really begin to weave under and over the spokes, round and round."

"I could shoot beans through mine," announced James.

"You haven't pulled your weaver tight as you wove. Push it down hard
toward the centre. That's it. See how firm that is? You could hardly get
water through that--much less beans or hound puppies, as they say in
some parts of North Carolina."

"This weaving process makes the spokes stand out like wheel spokes,
doesn't it?"

"That's why they're called spokes. By the time you've been round three
times they ought all to be standing apart evenly."

"Please, ma'am, my raffia is giving out," grumbled Tom.

"It's time to use a rattan weaver, then. You used raffia at first
because the spokes were so near together. Now you use a fine rattan,
finer than your spokes. Wet it first. Then catch it behind a spoke and
hold on to it carefully until you come to the second time round or it
will slip away from you. You're all right as soon as the second row
holds the first row in place."

"My rattan weaver is giving out," said Ethel Brown.

"Take another one and lap it over the end of the one that is on the
point of death, then go right ahead. If they're too fat at the ends
shave them down a bit where they lap."

"This superb creation of mine is three inches across the middle,"
announced James.

"It's time to turn up the spokes then. Make up your mind how sharply
you want the basket to flare and watch it as you weave, or you'll have
it uneven."

"Mine seems to have reached a good height for a small work basket,"
decided Helen, her head on one side.

"Mine isn't quite so high, but I can seem to see a few choice candies of
Ethel Brown's concoction resting happily within its walls," said Tom.

"Let's all make the border. Measure the spokes and cut them just three
inches beyond the top of the weaving. You'll have to sharpen their tips
a little or else you'll have trouble pushing them down among the
weavers."

"I get the idea! You bend them into scallops!"

"Wet them first or there'll be broken fence pickets. When you've soaked
them until they're pliable enough bend each spoke over to make a scallop
and thrust it down right beside its neighbor spoke between the weavers."

"Mine is more than ever a work basket," said Helen when she had
completed the edge. "I shall line it with brown and fit it up with a
thimble and threads and needles and a tiny pair of scissors."

"Mine, too," was Ethel Brown's decision.

"My sides turn up too sharply," James thought. "I shall call mine a
cover for a small flower pot. Then I shan't have to line it!"

"Here are some of the most easily made mats and baskets in the world,"
announced Della. "They're made just like the braided rugs you find in
farm houses in New England. Mother got some in New Hampshire once before
we started going to Chautauqua for the summers."

"I've seen them," said Margaret. "There are yards and yards of rags cut
all the same width and sewed together and then they are braided and then
the braid is sewed round and round."

"You make raffia mats or baskets in just the same way, only you sew them
with raffia," explained Della. "You braid the raffia first and that
gives you an opportunity to make pretty color combinations."

"A strand of raffia doesn't last forever. How do you splice it?"

"Splice a thick end alongside of a thin end and go ahead. Try to pick
out strands of different lengths for your plaiting or they'll all run
out at once and have to be spliced at once and it may make them bunchy
if you aren't awfully careful."

[Illustration: The braid for easily made rugs and baskets]

"I saw a beauty basket once made of corn husks braided in the same way.
The inside husks are a delicate color you know, and they were split into
narrow widths and plaited into a long rope."

"Where the long leaf pine grows," said Dorothy, "they use pine needles
in the same way, only they wrap them around with thread--"

"Cotton thread?"

"Cotton thread--of about the same color."

"You can work sweet grass just so, except that you can wrap that with a
piece of itself."

"When you have enough material," went on Della, "you begin the sewing.
If you're going to make a round or an oblong mat you decide which right
at the beginning and coil the centre accordingly. Then all you have to
do is to go ahead. Don't let the stitches show and sew on until the mat
is big enough."

"And for a basket I suppose you pile the braids upon each other when
you've made the bottom the size you want it."

"Exactly. And you can make the sides flare sharply or slightly just as
we made them do with the rattan."

"What's the matter with making baskets of braided crêpe paper?" asked
James. "My whole being has been wrapped in paper for a week so it may
influence my inventive powers unduly, but I really don't see why it
shouldn't work."

"I'm sorry to take you off your perch," remarked Ethel Brown, "but I've
seen one."

"O--oh!" wailed James in disappointment. "They were pretty though,
weren't they?"

"They were beauties. There was a lovely color combination in the one I
saw."

"You could make patriotic ones for Fourth of July--red, white, and
blue."

"Or green and red ones for Christmas."

"Or all white for Easter."

"Or pinky ones for May Day."

Just at this moment there came a rush of small feet and Dicky burst into
the room.

"Hullo," he exclaimed briefly.

"Hullo," cried a chorus in return.

"I've seen her," said Dicky.

"Who is 'her'?" asked Roger.

"Fräulein."

"Fräulein! Dicky, what have you been doing?"

Helen seized him by the arm and drew him to the side of her chair, while
all the other members of the Club laid down their work and listened.

Dicky was somewhat embarrassed at being the object of such undivided
attention. He climbed up into Helen's lap.

"I heard you talking at breakfatht about Fräulein and how thomebody
perhapth wath dead and perhapth wathn't dead, tho I went and athked her
if he wath dead."

"Oh, Dicky!"

Helen buried her face in his bobbed hair, and the rest of the Mortons
looked at each other aghast.

"We were wondering if it would be an intrusion to send Fräulein some
flowers," explained Helen,--"and--"

"--and here Dicky butts right in!" finished Roger.

"I went to the houthe and I rang the bell," continued Dicky, "and an old
lady came to the door."

"Mrs. Hindenburg."

"I thaid 'Ith Mith Fräulein at home?' The old lady thaid 'Yeth.' I
walked in and there wath Mith Fräulein in front of the fire. I thaid,
'Ith he dead?'"

"You asked her?"

"Great Scott!"

"Fräulein thaid, 'I don't know, Dicky.' And I thaid, 'Here ith a
chethnut I found. You can have it.' And Fräulein thaid, 'Thank you,
Dicky,' and I that on her lap and the talked to me a long time about the
man that perhapth ith dead, and thometimeth the thaid queer wordth--"

"German," interpreted Margaret under her breath.

"And onthe the cried a little, and--"

"Dicky, Dicky, what have you done!"

"I ain't done anything bad, 'coth when I thaid, 'Now I mutht go,' the
old lady thaid, 'Thank you for coming.'"

"She did?"

"Perhaps it did Fräulein good to cry. Poor Fräulein!"

"I'm going again."

"Did she ask you?"

"Of courth the athked me. And I thaid I'd go if the'd wear a white
dreth. I don't like a black dreth."

Silence reigned about the table.

"I wish I knew whether he's done harm or good," sighed Helen.

"Good, I should say, or Fräulein's mother wouldn't have asked him to
come again," said Ethel Blue.

"At this uncertain moment I think we'd better have some refreshments,"
said Dorothy.

"I'm certainly in need of something sustaining," groaned Roger.

"Then try these sugar cookies of Ethel Brown's."

"Let me write down right now how she makes them," exclaimed Della,
borrowing a pencil from Tom. "This is the kind you're going to make for
the orphans, isn't it?"

"Yes, they'll keep a long time, especially if they're wrapped in
paraffin paper and put into a tin."

"Recite the rule to me."

"I never can remember rules. Dorothy's got it copied into her cook book.
Ask her for it."

"Here you are," said Dorothy who had overheard the conversation, "here
on page twenty. And I know you're going to ask for the fudge receipt as
soon as you taste Ethel Blue's fudge so you might as well copy that at
the same time. It's on the next page."

So Della copied diligently while Dorothy brought in the cookies and
fudge in question and Helen and Roger discussed Dicky's performance
under their breath.

Here is what Della wrote:


"Sugar Cookies or Sand Tarts

          "1 cup butter
           2 cups sugar
           2 eggs
           3½ cups flour
           4 teaspoons baking powder
           Extra whites of 2 eggs
           1½ cups blanched almonds, chopped.
           2 tablespoons sugar--extra
           ½ teaspoon cinnamon

"Blanch the almonds by putting them in boiling water, let them stand on
the table five minutes, remove a few at a time from the water, rub off
the skin and dry them in a towel; then chop them.

"Cream the butter, add the sugar gradually, then the beaten eggs. Sift
flour and baking powder together, add to the butter mixture gradually,
using a knife to cut it in. Add the nuts. If stiff and dry add a few
tablespoons milk to moisten slightly, and mould into a dough with the
hands. Roll out portions quite thin, on a floured board, cut out with a
cutter, brush with the extra whites, slightly beaten. Mix the cinnamon
and the two extra tablespoons sugar together, sprinkle over the cookies.
Place on a greased tin, bake about five minutes in a moderately hot
oven."


"Fudge

          "3 cups brown or white sugar
           1 cup milk or water
           1 tablespoon butter
           3 squares (inch) chocolate (about ¼ cup grated)
           ½ teaspoon vanilla

"Mix sugar, milk, butter and chocolate in a saucepan; let it melt
slowly; bring to a boil and boil about ten minutes, or until a little
forms a soft ball when dropped in a cup of cold water. Add the vanilla,
stir a few minutes until slightly thick, turn at once into greased _tin_
plates. Cool and cut into blocks. If it crumbles and is sugary, add half
a cup or more hot water, melt, boil again, and try as before. If it
should not be hard enough it may be boiled a second time."



CHAPTER XVII

THE CLUB WEAVES, STENCILS AND MODELS CLAY


WHETHER Dicky had done something entirely inexcusable or something wise
no one was able to decide, but everybody agreed that at any rate it was
pleasanter to think that he had brought poor Fräulein some comfort, and
that her mother's thanking him for coming seemed to mean that. They all
felt somewhat shocked and queer.

"I move, Madam President," said Tom, "that we don't talk about it any
more this afternoon. We don't know and probably we never shall know, and
so we might as well get to work again. Did you people realize that time
is growing short? The Santa Claus Ship is booked to sail the first week
in November."

"We did and do realize it," said Helen. "I'd like to know next about
these raffia sofa pillows that Ethel Blue and Della have been making."

"The ones we made are sofa pillows for the orphans' dolls," explained
Ethel Blue, "or they can be used for pincushions."

"They make thothe at kindergarten," announced Dicky. "I can make thothe.
Mine are paper."

"They're made in just about the same way," said Della. "We made a small
cushion with double raffia and wove it under and over on a pasteboard
loom."

"How do you make that?"

"Just a piece of heavy pasteboard or a light board or you can take the
frame of a smashed slate. You fasten the ends of the threads with pins
or tacks or tie them around the bars. First you lay all the threads you
want in one direction. That's the warp."

"Warp--I remember. I always have to look it up in the dictionary to see
which is warp and which is woof."

"Warp is the thread that goes on first. In a rug or a piece of tapestry
it's the plain, ugly thread that holds the beautifully colored threads
in place. It's the up and down threads. In raffia you have to be careful
to alternate the big ends and small ends so that the weaving will be
even."

"What do you do when the warp is ready?"

"Before you begin to weave you must make a solid line across the end so
that when you run your first bit of woof across it won't just push right
up to the bar of the loom and then ravel out when you cut your product
off the loom."

"I get the reason for its existence. I should think you'd make it by
tying a string right across the loom knotting it into each strand of
warp as you pass by."

"That's exactly what you do; and the ends you can leave flying to join
in with the fringe."

"Can we weave now?"

"Go ahead. When you've made the cushion square, if you want it square,
go around the three remaining sides and tie a break-water, so to speak,
so that the weaving won't ravel out. Trim your fringe even and there's
one side of your pillow."

"One side would be enough for a pincushion."

"If you want to make a big sofa cushion--a grown up one--you'll have to
make a wide plait of raffia--a four strand or six strand braid--or else
you'd never get it done."

"The unbraided would be too delicate. I hate to make things that wear
out before you can get used to them about the house."

"You'd have to have a bigger loom for something that size."

"It's no trouble to make. Roger nailed mine together," said Ethel Blue.

"Any one want the dimensions?" asked Roger. "Take two pieces of narrow
wood twenty-three inches long, and nail two other pieces of lighter
stuff each twenty-five inches long on to their tops at the ends. These
bits are raised from the table by the thickness of the first piece of
lumber. See?"

Tom and James, who were examining Ethel Blue's loom, nodded.

"Then nail slender uprights, ten inches tall, at each of the four
corners and connect them by two other thin sticks twenty-five inches
long, running just above your first pair of twenty-fives. Do you get
it?"

Again the boys nodded.

"That's all there is to it, and you really don't need to make that for a
plain, smooth plank will do at a pinch."

"How do you carry your woof across?" asked Margaret. "Your hand would be
in its own way, I should think."

"You thread the raffia into a wooden bodkin about twenty-six inches
long."

"I can see that you must draw the cross threads down tight the way we
did in weaving the baskets," said James.

"Indeed you must or you'll turn out a sleazy piece of weaving," answered
Della.

"There must be oceans of articles you can make out of woven raffia."

"Just about everything that you can make out of a piece of cloth of the
same size."

"Of cotton cloth? Ha!"

"Or silk."

"Handkerchief cases and collar cases."

"Coverings for boxes of all kinds. Another material for James to glue on
to pasteboard."

"I see lots of chances for it," he answered seriously.

"I believe old James is really taking kindly to pasting," laughed Tom.

"Certainly I am. It's a bully occupation," defended James.

"There are a thousand things that can be made of raffia--you can make
lace of it like twine lace, and make articles out of the lace; and you
can make baskets of a combination of rattan and raffia, using the raffia
for wrapping and for sewing. But we have such a short time left that I
think those of us who are going to do any raffia work had better learn
how to weave evenly and make pretty little duds out of the woven stuff."

"Wise kid," pronounced Roger. "Now what's little Margaret going to teach
us this afternoon?"

"Little Margaret" made a puckered face at this appellation, but she came
promptly to the front.

"Ethel Brown and Dorothy have been teaching me to stencil. They could
teach the rest of you a great deal better than I can, but they've done
their share this afternoon so I'll try."

"Go on," urged Ethel Brown. "We'll help you if you forget."

"If you'll excuse me I'll go to the attic and get my clay," said
Dorothy. "I found a new idea for a candlestick in a book this morning
and I want to make one before I forget it."

Margaret was in the full swing of explanation when Dorothy returned.

"Why this frown, fair Coz?" demanded Roger in a Shakesperean tone.

"It's the queerest thing--I thought I had enough clay for two pairs of
candlesticks and it seems to have shrunk or something so there'll only
be one and that mighty small."

"'_Mighty small_,'" mimicked Roger. "How large is _'mighty_ small'?"

"Don't bother me, Roger. I'll start this while Margaret talks."

"When a drawing fit seizes Ethel Blue again we'll get her to make us
some original stencils," said Helen. "These that we bought at the
Chautauqua art store will do well enough for us to learn with."

"They are very pretty," defended Dorothy.

"Mine won't be any better, only they will be original," said Ethel Blue.

"I hate to mention it," said Tom in a whisper, "but I'm not perfectly
sure that I know what a stencil is."

There was a shout from around the table.

"Never mind, Thomas," soothed Roger, patting his friend on the shoulder.
"Confession is good for the soul. A stencil, my son, is a thin sheet of
something--pasteboard, the girls use--with a pattern cut out of it. You
lay the stencil down on a piece of cloth or canvas or board or whatever
you want to decorate, and you scrub color on all the part of the
material that shows through."

"Methinks I see a great light," replied Tom, slapping his forehead.
"When you lift the stencil there is your pattern done in color."

Roger and James leaned forward together and patted Tom's brow.

"Such it is to have real intellect!" they murmured in admiring accents.

Tom bowed meekly.

"Enlighten me further--also these smarties. What kind of paint do you
use?"

"Tapestry dyes or oil paints. It depends somewhat on your material. If
you want to launder it, use the dye."

"Fast color, eh?"

"When you wash it, set the color by soaking your article in cold water
salted. Then wash it gently in the suds of white soap. Suds, mind you;
don't touch the cake of soap to it."

"I promise you solemnly I'll never touch a cake of soap to any
stenciling I do."

"You're ridiculous, Roger. No, I believe you won't!"

"Here's a piece of cloth Ethel Brown is going to make into a doll's
skirt. See, she's hemmed it already and I'll put this simple star
stencil on the hem. Where's a board, Dorothy?"

Dorothy brought a sewing board and the others watched Margaret pin her
material down hard upon it and fasten the stencil over that.

"Good girl! You've got them so tight they won't dare to shiver,"
declared Tom.

"Do you notice that this stencil has been shellacked so the edges won't
roughen when I scrub? Stiff bristle brushes are what I'm using."
Margaret called their attention to her utensils. "And I have a different
brush for each color. Also I have an old rag to dabble the extra color
off on to."

"Are you ready? Go!" commanded Roger.

[Illustration: "I'll put this simple star stencil on the hem"]

Margaret scrubbed hard and succeeded in getting a variety of shading
through the amount of paint that she allowed to soak entirely through or
partway through the material. When she had done as many stars as there
were openings on the pattern she took out the pins and moved the stencil
along so that the holes came over a fresh piece of material, making sure
that the space between the first new star and the last old one was the
same as that between the stars on the stencil.

"How can we boys apply that?" asked James.

"You can stencil on anything that you would decorate with painting,"
said Ethel Brown.

"Your jig-saw disks, Tom. Stencil a small conventional pattern on each
one--a star or a triangle."

"Here's a stencil of a vine that would be a beauty on one of your large
plain pasteboard boxes, James."

"Dorothy has been turning white cheesecloth doll clothes into organdie
muslins by stenciling on them these tiny sprays of roses and cornflowers
and jasmine."

"I'm going to do roosters and cats and dogs on a lot of bibs for the
babies."

"You'd better save a few in case Mademoiselle really sends us that
Belgian baby."

"I'll make some more if it does turn up."

"Aunt Marion gave me some cotton flannel--"

"Cot--ton!"

"Cotton flannel, yes, sir; and I've made it into some little blankets
for tiny babies. I bound the raw edges, and on some of them I did a
cross stitch pattern and on others I stenciled a pattern."

"It saves time, I should say."

"Lots. When you have ever so many articles gathered, just have a
stenciling bee and you can turn out the decoration much faster than by
doing even a wee bit of embroidery."

"If the Belgian baby really comes, let's make it a play-house. The boys
can do the carpentry and we can all make the furniture and I'm wild to
stencil some cunning curtains for the windows."

"I'll draw you a fascinating pattern for it."

"There's my candlestick half done," said Dorothy mournfully, "and I
can't finish it. I don't understand about that clay."

"Perhaps it dried up and blew away."

"It did dry, but I moistened it and kneaded it and cut it in halves with
a wire and put the inside edges outside and generally patticaked it but
I'm sure it's not more than a quarter the size it was when I left it in
the attic yesterday afternoon."

"You seem to have made a great mess on the floor over there by the
window; didn't you slice off some and put it in that cup?"

"That's my 'slip.' It only took a scrap to make that. It's about as
thick as cream and you use it to smooth rough places and fill up cracks
with. No, that wouldn't account for much of any of the clay."

"How did you make this thing, anyway?" asked James turning it about.

"Careful. I took a saucer and put a wet rag in it and then I made a clay
snake and coiled it about the way you make those coiled baskets, only I
smoothed the clay so you can't see the coils. I hollowed it on the
inside like a saucer. Then I put another wet rag inside my clay saucer
and a china saucer inside that and turned them all upside down on my
work board, and took off the original china saucer and smoothed down the
coils on the underside of the clay saucer."

Tom drew a long breath.

"Take one yourself," he suggested. "You'll need it, you talk so fast."

"It stiffened while Margaret was doing her stenciling. When it was firm
enough to handle I turned it over again and took out the small china
saucer and smoothed off any marks it had left."

"It's about time to build up the candle holder, isn't it?"

[Illustration: Dorothy's Candlestick]

"Did you see me bring in a short candle? I wrapped it in a wet rag and
stood it exactly in the middle of the clay saucer. Then I roughened the
clay around it and wet the rough part with slip and pressed a fresh
little snake round the foot of the candle. The slip makes it stick to
the roughening, so you have to roughen the top of every coil and moisten
it with slip."

"You finished off the top of that part very smoothly," complimented
Helen.

"When it's stiff enough you take out the candle and smooth the inside.
Here's where I'm stumped. I haven't got enough clay for a handle."

"How do you make the handle?"

"Pat out another snake and make a hoop attached to the holder and
another one rolling up on to the lip of the saucer."

"As if the serpent were trying to put his tail into his mouth."

"I shall have to just smooth this over with a soft brush and wrap it up
in a wet cloth until I get some more clay. If I let it get hard I can't
finish it."

"What's that drip, Dorothy?" asked Helen, as a drop of water fell on the
table before her.

They all looked at the ceiling where drops of water were assembling and
beginning to fall with a soft splash. There was a scramble to get their
work out of the way. Dorothy brought a salad bowl and placed it where it
would catch the water and then ran to investigate the cause of the
trouble.

At a cry from upstairs Helen and the Ethels ran to her help. Roger went
to the foot of the stairs and called up to inquire if they wanted his
assistance. Evidently they did, for he, too, disappeared. In a few
minutes he re-appeared bearing Dicky in his arms--a Dicky sopping wet
and much subdued.

"What in the world?" everybody questioned.

"Dorothy's found her clay," said Roger. "Come on, old man. Wrap Aunt
Louise's tweed coat around you--so--and _run_ so you won't catch cold,"
and the two boys disappeared out of the front door, Dicky stumbling and
struggling with the voluminous folds of his aunt's garment.

Dorothy and the other girls came down stairs in a few minutes.

"Do telephone to Aunt Marion's and see if Mother is there and ask her to
come home," Dorothy begged Helen, while she gathered cloths and pans and
went upstairs again, taking the maid with her.

"What did Dicky do?" asked the others again.

Both Ethels burst into laughter.

"He must have gone up in the attic and found Dorothy's clay, for he had
filled up the waste pipe of the bath tub--"

"--and turned on the water, I'll bet!" exclaimed Tom.

"That's just what he did. It looks as if he'd been trying to float about
everything he could find in any of the bedrooms."

"Probably he had a glorious time until the tub ran over and he didn't
know how to stop it."

"Dicky's a great old man! I judge he didn't float himself!"

"Now Dorothy can finish her candlestick handle!"



CHAPTER XVIII

ETHEL BLUE AWAITS A CABLE


MRS. SMITH begged that the meeting should not adjourn, and under her
direction the trouble caused by Dicky's entrance into the navy was soon
remedied, although it was evident that the ceiling of the dining-room
would need the attention of a professional.

Roger soon returned with the news that the honorary member of the Club
had taken no cold, and every one settled down to work again, even
Dorothy, who rescued enough clay from Dicky's earthworks to complete the
handle of her candlestick.

"I'd like to bring a matter before this meeting," said Tom seriously
when they were all assembled and working once more.

"Bring it on," urged the president.

"It isn't a matter belonging to this Club, but if there isn't any one
else to do it it seemed to me--and to Father when I spoke to him about
it--that we might do some good."

"It sounds mysterious. Let's have it," said James.

"It seemed to me as I thought over those movies the other night that
there was a very good chance that that man Schuler--your singing
teacher, you know, Fräulein's betrothed--wasn't dead after all."

"It certainly looked like it--the way he fell back against the
orderly--he didn't look alive."

"He didn't--that's a fact. At the same time the film made one of those
sudden changes right at that instant."

"Father and I thought that was so a death scene shouldn't be shown,"
said James.

"That's possible, but it's also possible that they thought that was a
good dramatic spot to leave that group of people and go off to another
group."

"What's your idea? I don't suppose we could find out from the film
people."

"Probably not. It would be too roundabout to try to get at their
operator in Belgium and very likely he wouldn't remember if they did get
in touch with him."

"He must be seeing sights like that all the time."

"Brother Edward suggested when he heard us talking about it that we
should send a cable to Mademoiselle and ask her. She must have known Mr.
Schuler here in the school at Rosemont."

"Certainly she did."

"Then she would have been interested enough in him to recall what
happened when she came across him in the hospital."

"How could we get a message to her? We don't know where that hospital
was. They don't tell the names of places even in newspaper messages, you
know. They are headed 'From a town near the front.'"

"Here's where Edward had a great idea--that is, Father thought it was
workable. See what you think of it."

The Club was growing excited. The Ethels stopped working to listen,
Helen's face flushed with interest, and the boys leaned across the table
to hear the plan to which Rev. Herbert Watkins had given his approval.
They knew that Tom's father, in his work among the poor foreigners in
New York, often had to try to hunt up their relatives in Europe so that
this would not be a matter of guesswork with him.

"It's pretty much guesswork in this war time," admitted Tom when some
one suggested it. "You can merely send a cable and trust to luck that it
will land somewhere. Here's Edward's idea. He says that the day we went
to see Mademoiselle sail she told him that she was related to Monsieur
Millerand, the French Minister of War. It was through her relationship
with him that she expected to be sent where she wanted to go--that is,
to Belgium."

"She was sent there, so her expectation seems to have had a good
foundation."

"That's what makes Edward think that perhaps we can get in touch with
her through the same means."

"Through Monsieur Millerand?"

"He suggests that we send a cable addressed to Mademoiselle--"

"Justine--"

"--Millerand in the care of Monsieur Millerand, Minister of War. We
could say 'Is Schuler dead?' and sign it with some name she'd know in
Rosemont. She'd understand at once that in some way news of his being in
Belgium had reached here."

"It seems awfully uncertain."

"It is uncertain. Even if she got the cable she might not be able to
send a reply. Everything is uncertain about it. At the same time if we
_could_ get an answer it would be a comfort to Fräulein even if the
message said he had died."

"I believe that's so. It's not knowing that's hardest to bear."

"Don't you think Mademoiselle would have sent word to Fräulein if he had
died?"

"I don't believe she knew they were engaged. No one knew until after the
war had been going on for several weeks. If ever she wrote to any one in
Rosemont she might mention having seen him, but I don't believe it would
occur to her to send any special word to Fräulein."

"She might be put under suspicion if she addressed a letter to any one
with a German name even if she lived in the United States."

"No one but Ethel Blue has had a letter from Mademoiselle since, she
left," said Helen. "We should have heard of it, I'm sure."

"Well, what do you say to the plan? Can't we send a cable signed by the
'Secretary of the United Service Club'?"

"I think it would be a good use to put the Club money to," approved
James, the treasurer.

"If you say so I'll send it when I get back to New York this afternoon.
How shall we word it?"

"Mademoiselle Justine Millerand, Care Monsieur Millerand, Minister of
War, Bordeaux, France," said Roger, slowly.

"Cut out 'Mademoiselle' and 'Monsieur,'" suggested Margaret. "We must
remember that our remarks cost about a quarter a word in times of peace
and war prices may be higher."

"Cut out 'of War,'" said Ethel Brown.

"There's only one 'Bordeaux,'" added Margaret.

"A dollar and a quarter saved already," said James thoughtfully. "Now
let's have the message."

"What's the matter with Tom's original suggestion--'Is Schuler dead'?"
asked Ethel Blue. "I suppose we must leave out the 'Mr.' if we are going
to be economical."

"Sign it 'Morton, Secretary United Service Club, Rosemont.' I'll file
Ethel Blue's address--at the cable office so the answer will be sent to
her if one comes."

Ethel Blue looked somewhat agitated at the prospect of receiving a cable
almost from the battlefield, but she said nothing.

"The United Service Club was the last group of people she saw in
America, you see," Tom went on, "so Edward thinks she'll know at once
whom the message comes from and she'll guess that the high school
scholars want to know about their former teacher."

"I have a feeling in my bones that she'll get the message and that
she'll answer," said Ethel Blue.

"If she doesn't get it we shan't have done any harm," mused Ethel Brown,
"and if she does get it and answers then we shall have done a lot of
good by getting the information for Fräulein."

"We needn't tell anybody about it outside of our families and then there
won't be any expectations to be disappointed."

"It certainly would be best not to tell Fräulein."

"That's settled, then," said Tom, "and I'll send the message the moment
I reach town this afternoon."

"It's the most thrilling thing I ever had anything to do with," Ethel
Blue whispered.



CHAPTER XIX

LEATHER AND BRASS


THE following week was filled with expectation of a reply from
Mademoiselle, but none came though every ring at the Mortons' doorbell
was answered with the utmost promptness by one or another of the
children who made a point of rushing to the door before Mary could reach
it.

"I suppose we could hardly expect to have a reply," sighed Ethel Blue,
"but it would have been _so_ splendiferous if it did come!"

Thanks to Dicky's escapade the last Saturday afternoon had been so
broken in upon that the Club decided that they must have an all-day
session on the next Saturday. Roger had promised to teach the others how
to do the leather and brass work in which he had become quite expert,
and he was talking to himself about it as he was dressing after doing
his morning work.

"This business of working in leather for orphan children makes a noise
like toil to me," he soliloquized. "But think of the joy of the kids
when they receive a leather penwiper, though they aren't yet old enough
to write, or a purse when they haven't any shekels to put into it!"

"Ro--ger," came a voice from a long way off.

"Let's go over to Dorothy's now," Roger called back as if it had been
Ethel Brown who was late.

"I should say so! The Watkinses and Hancocks said they'd be there at
ten and it must be that now. I'll call Ethel Blue and Helen," and Ethel
Brown's voice came from a greater distance than before.

The other girls were not to be discovered, however, and when Roger and
Ethel arrived at Dorothy's they found all the rest waiting for them.

[Illustration: "Roger cut a slip ten inches long and four inches wide"]

[Illustration: Corner for Blotter Pad]

"Where's this professor of leather?" called Tom as he heard Roger's
steps on the attic stairs.

"_And_ brass," added Roger grandly as he appeared in the doorway.

"No one disputes the brass," returned Tom, and Roger roared cheerfully
and called out "Bull's-eye!"

"Now, then," began Roger seating himself at the head of the table, "with
apologies to the president I'll call this solemn meeting to order--that
is, as much order as there can be with Dicky around."

Dicky was even then engaged in trying to make a hole in Ethel Blue's
shoe with a leather punch, but he was promptly suppressed and placed
between the Ethels before his purpose was accomplished.

"You've got him interned there," remarked James, using a phrase that was
becoming customary in the newspaper accounts of the care of prisoners.

"I'm going to start you people making corners for a big blotting pad,"
said Roger, "not because the orphans will want a blotting pad, but
because they are easy to make and you can adapt the idea to lots of
other articles."

"Fire ahead," commanded James.

"You make a paper pattern to fit your corner--so fashion," and Roger
tore a sheet of paper off a pad and cut a slip ten inches long and four
inches wide. A point in the middle of the long side he placed on the
corner of the big blotter that lay before him and then he folded the
rest of the paper around the corner. The result was a smooth triangle on
the face of the blotter and a triangle at the back just like it except
that it was split up the middle.

"Here's your pattern," said Roger slipping it off. "When you make this
of brass or copper it's a good plan to round these back corners so there
won't be any sharp points to stick into you or to scratch the desk."

"The orphans' mahogany."

"Or Grandfather Emerson's. I'm going to inflict a set on him at
Christmas."

"I should think it would be hard to work on such dinky little things,"
remarked James who had large hands.

"You don't cut them out of your big sheet of copper or your big piece of
leather yet. You draw the size of this small pattern on to a larger
piece of paper and you draw your ornamental design right where you want
it on the face of the triangle--so."

"More work for Ethel Blue, making original designs."

"She might get up some U. S. C. designs and have them copyrighted,"
suggested Helen.

"Until she does we'll have to use these simple figures that I traced out
of a book the other day."

"Why couldn't we use our stenciling designs?"

"You could, if they are the right size. That star pattern you put oh a
doll's skirt would be just the ticket--just one star for each corner."

"We might put U. S. C. in each corner."

"Or U. in one corner and S. in another, and C. in a third and a star or
something in the fourth."

"Or the initials of the person you give it to."

"We've got the size of the corner piece as it is when it's unfolded and
with its design on it, all drawn on this piece of paper. Now you tack
your sheet of brass on to a block of wood and lay a sheet of carbon
paper over it and your design on that and trace ahead."

"I see, I see," commented Margaret. "When you take it off, there you
have the size of your corner indicated and the star or whatever you're
going to ornament it with, all drawn in the right place."

"Exactly. Now we tackle the brass itself."

"It seems to me we ought to have some tools for that."

"A light hammer and a wire nail--that's all. See the point of this nail?
It has been filed flat and rather dull. I made enough for everybody to
have one--not you, sir," and he snatched away one of them from Dicky
just as that young man was about to nail Ethel Brown's dress on to the
edge of her chair.

"Dicky will have to be interned at home if he isn't quiet." The
president shook her head at the honorary member.

"First you go around the whole outline, tapping the nail gently, stroke
by stroke, until the line of the design is completely hammered in."

"That isn't hard," said Tom. "Watch me."

"When the outline is made you take another wire nail that has been filed
perfectly flat on the bottom and go over the whole background with it."

"I see, I see," cried Ethel Blue. "That makes the design stand out
puffily and smooth against a sort of motheaten background."

"For eloquent description commend me to Ethel Blue," declared Margaret.

"She's right, though. You can make the moth holes of different size by
using nails of different sizes. There are regular tools that come, too,
with different pounding surfaces so it's possible to make quite a
variety of backgrounds."

"This mothy one is pretty enough for me," declared Margaret.

"I don't much like that name for it, but it is pretty, just the same,"
insisted Roger. "When you've hammered down the background you take out
the tacks and cut out your whole corner with this pair of shears that is
made to cut metal. Then you fold over the backs just the way you folded
over the paper to find the shape originally."

"It's not so terribly easy to bend," commented Ethel Blue.

"Shape them along the edge of your block of wood. Persuade them
down--so, and fold them back--so. Tap them into place with your wooden
mallet. There you are."

The finished corner was passed from hand to hand and duly admired.

"Rub it shiny with any brass polish, if you like it bright," directed
Roger.

"It's fashionable for coppers to be dull now," said Helen.

"You ladies know more about fashions of all sorts than I should ever
pretend to," said her brother meekly. "I like metals to shine, myself."

"What are some of the articles we can start in to make now that we know
how?" questioned Margaret.

"All sorts of things for the desk--a paper knife and a roller blotter
and a case to hold the inkwell and a clip to keep papers from blowing
away. The work is just the same, no matter what you're making. It's all
a matter of getting the outlines of different objects and then bending
them up carefully after you've hammered the design and got them cut out
well."

"Why can't you make all sorts of boxes?" asked James whose mind had run
to boxes ever since his week of work upon them.

"You can. All sorts and sizes. Line them with silk or leather. Leather
wears best."

"How far is the leather work like the metal work?" asked Ethel Brown.
"It seemed to be the same as far as the point where you tacked them on
to the wooden block."

[Illustration: "A beauty leather mat"]

"It is the same except that you wet the leather before you tack it on to
the block. When you put your design on to the leather you don't need to
use carbon paper. Borrow one of Ethel Brown's knitting needles and run
it over the design that you have drawn on the paper placed over the
leather, and it will leave a tiny groove on the damp leather."

"That's a simple instrument."

[Illustration: "A three cornered purse that doesn't need any sewing"]

"The steel tooler you take next is simple, too. You deepen the groove
with its edge and then take the flat part of the tooler and go over
every bit of the leather outside of the design, pressing it and
polishing it with great care."

"I suppose that gives the leather a different texture."

[Illustration: The three cornered purse completed]

"It seems to. It makes the design show more, anyway."

"I saw a beauty leather mat the other day with a cotton boll design that
puffed right up from the background.

"The cotton boll caught our little Dorothy's eye, of course! You make
your design puff out by rubbing it on the back with a round headed tool.
Your mat probably had the puffed up part filled with wax so it wouldn't
smash down again when something heavy was placed on it."

"I think it did; it felt hard."

"If you do puff out any part of your pattern you have to tool over the
design again, because the outline will have lost its sharpness."

"The mat I saw was colored."

"That's easy. There are colors that come especially for using on
leather. You float them on when the leather is wet and you can get
beautiful effects."

"You ought not to cut out your leather corners until they are dry, I
suppose?"

"They ought to be thoroughly dry. If you want a lining for a purse or a
cardcase you can paste in either silk or a thin leather. It's pretty to
make an openwork design and let the lining show through."

"How about sewing purses? It must be hard work."

"Helen does mine on the machine. She says it isn't much trouble if she
goes slowly and takes a few stitches back at the ends so they won't come
apart. But I'm going to show you how to make a little three cornered
purse that doesn't need any sewing--only two glove snappers."

So simple was this pattern that each of them had finished one by the
time that Grandmother Emerson's car came to take them all over to
luncheon at her house.



CHAPTER XX

THE ETHELS COOK TO KEEP


ANOTHER week rolled on and still no reply came to the cable that the
Club had sent to Mademoiselle Millerand.

"Either she hasn't received it," said Ethel Blue, who felt a personal
interest because it had been signed by her as Secretary of the club, "or
Mr. Schuler is dead and she doesn't want to tell us."

"It's pretty sure to be one or the other," said Ethel Brown. "I suppose
we might as well forget that we tried to do anything about it."

"Have you heard Roger or Helen say anything about Fräulein lately?"

"Helen said she looked awfully sad and that she was wearing black.
Evidently she has no hope."

"Poor Fräulein!"

"What are we going to do this week?"

"I've planned the cunningest little travelling bag for a doll. It's a
straight strip of leather, tooled in a pretty pattern. It's doubled in
halves and there is a three-cornered piece let in at the ends to give a
bit more room."

"How do you fasten it?"

"Like a Boston bag, with a strap that goes over the top."

"You could run a cord in and out parallel with the top and pull it up."

"I believe I'll make two and try both ways."

"You could make the same pattern only a little larger for a wrist bag
for an older child."

[Illustration: Bag for a doll, a child or a grown-up]

[Illustration]

"And larger still for a shopping bag for a grown person."

"That's as useful a pattern as Helen's and Margaret's wrapper pattern!
Do you realize that this is the week that we ought to cook?"

"Is it? We'll have to hurry fearfully! Are you perfectly sure the things
will keep?"

"I've talked it over several times with Miss Dawson, the domestic
science teacher. She has given me some splendid receipts and some
information about packing. She says there won't be any doubt of their
travelling all right."

"We'll have to cook every afternoon, then. We'd better go over the
receipts and see if we have all the materials we need."

"We know about the cookies and the fruit cake and the fudge. We've made
all those such a short time ago that we know we have those materials.
Here are ginger snaps," she went on, examining her cook book. "We
haven't enough molasses I'm sure, and I'm doubtful about the ginger."

"Let me see."

Ethel Blue read over the receipt.

          "1 pt. molasses--dark
           1 cup butter
           1 tablespoon ginger
           1 teaspoon soda
           1 teaspoon cinnamon

          "About 2 quarts flour, or enough more to make a
          thick dough.

"Sift flour, soda, and spices together. Melt the butter, put the
molasses in a big bowl, add the butter, then the flour gradually, using
a knife to cut it in. When stiff enough to roll, roll out portions quite
thin on a floured board, cut out with a cookie cutter or with the cover
of a baking powder can. Place them on greased tins, leaving a little
space between each cookie. Bake in a hot oven about five minutes."

"Miss Dawson says we must let the cookies get perfectly cold before we
pack them. Then we must wrap them in paraffin paper and pack them
tightly into a box."

"They ought to be so tight that they won't rattle round and break."

"If we could get enough tin boxes it would be great."

"Let's ask Grandmother Emerson and Aunt Louise and all Mother's friends
to save their biscuit boxes for us."

"We ought to have thought of asking them before. And we must go out
foraging for baking powder tins to steam the little fruit puddings and
the small loaves of Boston brown bread in."

"What a jolly idea!"

"Miss Dawson says that when they are cold we can slip them out of their
tins and brush the bread and pudding and cake over with pure alcohol.
That will kill the mould germs and it will all be evaporated by the time
they are opened."

"If there is paraffin paper around them, too, and they are slipped back
into their little round tins it seems to me they ought to be as cosy and
good as possible."

"I'm awfully taken with the individual puddings. We can make them all
different sizes according to the size of the tins we get hold of.
Doesn't this sound good?"

Ethel read aloud the pudding receipt with an appreciative smile.


"Steamed Fruit Pudding

          "2½ cups flour
           3 teaspoons baking powder
           ½ teaspoon salt
           ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
           ½ teaspoon nutmeg or ginger
           1 cup chopped suet
           1 cup chopped raisins
           ½ cup cleaned currants
           1 cup water or milk
           1 cup molasses (dark)

"Sift soda, salt, baking powder, and spice with the flour, add the suet
and fruit, then the molasses and milk. Mix well. Fill moulds two-thirds
full. Steam three hours."

"When we do them up we can arrange them so that no bundle will contain
both a fruit cake and a fruit pudding. We must have variety."

"I asked particularly about wheat bread. The papers say that that is
scarce, you know."

"Did Miss Dawson say it would travel?"

"No, she thought it would be as hard as shoe leather. But she says the
Boston brown bread ought to be soft enough even after six weeks. If we
can make enough small loaves--"

"Baking powder tin loaves--"

"Yes--to have a loaf of bread and a fruit cake or a fruit pudding or a
box of cookies--"

"That is, one cake--"

"--and some candy in each package that we do up it will give variety."

"It sounds good to me. We'll have to hide all our things away from
Roger."

"Listen to this receipt:


"Boston Brown Bread

          "1 cup rye meal (or flour)
           1 cup granulated corn-meal
           1 cup Graham flour
           2 cups sour milk or 1¾ cups sweet milk or water
           1 teaspoon salt
           ¾ teaspoon soda
           ¾ cup molasses (dark)

"Mix and sift the dry ingredients, add molasses and milk, stir until
well mixed, turn into a well greased mould, steam 3½ hours. The cover
should be greased before being placed on the mould, then tied down with
a string, otherwise the bread might force off the cover. The mould
should never be filled more than two-thirds full. For steaming, place
the mould on a stand (or on nails laid flat) in a kettle of boiling
water, allowing water to come half way up around mould, cover closely,
and steam, add, as needed, more boiling water."

"'Mould' is polite for baking powder tin."

"I wish our family was small enough for us to have them. They're just
too dear!"

"Some time after the Christmas Ship sails let's make some for the
family--one for each person."

"That's a glorious idea. I never do have enough on Sunday morning and
you know how Roger teases every one of us to give him part of ours."

"All these 'eats' that travel so well will be splendid to send for
Christmas gifts to people at a distance, won't they? People like
Katharine Jackson in Buffalo."

"And the Wilson children at Fort Myer," and the Ethels named other young
people whom they had met at different garrisons and Navy Yards.

"Here are three kinds of candies that Miss Dawson says ought to travel
perfectly if they're packed so they won't shake about Here's 'Roly Poly'
to start with. I can see Katharine's eyes shining over that."

"And the orphans', too."

Ethel read the receipt.


"Roly Poly

          "2 lbs. brown sugar
           1 cup cream
           2 tablespoons butter
           ½ pint (1 cup) chopped figs
           1 cup chopped almonds
           2 cups chopped dates
           1 cup citron, cut in pieces
           ½ cup chopped pecans
           ½ cup chopped cherries
           ½ cup chopped raisins

"Cook sugar, cream and butter together until a little forms a soft ball
when dropped in a cup of cold water. Then add the nuts and fruit. Put it
all in a wet cotton bag, mould into a roll on a smooth surface. Remove
from the bag and cut as desired."

"I like the sound of 'Sea Foam.' Della tried that, and said it was
delicious.


"Sea Foam

          "2 cups brown sugar
           ½ cup water
           1 teaspoon vanilla
           1 cup chopped nuts
           1 white of egg

"Beat the white of egg until stiff. Boil the sugar and water together
until a little forms a soft ball when dropped in a cup of cold water.
Add the vanilla and nuts, beat this into the white of egg. When it
stiffens pour it into a greased pan, or drop it by spoonsful on the
pan."

"It sounds delicious. When we fill James's pretty boxes with these
goodies and tie them with attractive paper and cord they are going to
look like 'some' Christmas to these poor little kiddies."

"Don't you wish we could see them open them?"

"If Mademoiselle would only send that Belgian baby we really could."

"I'm afraid Mademoiselle has forgotten us utterly."

"It isn't surprising. But I wish she hadn't."

"We must get plenty of brown sugar. This 'Panocha' calls for it, as well
as the 'Sea Foam' and the 'Roly Poly.'"

"We'll have to borrow a corner of Mary's storeroom for once."

"She won't mind. She's as interested as we are in the orphans. Let me
see how the 'Panocha' goes.


"Panocha

          "2 cups brown sugar
           2 tablespoons butter
           ½ cup milk
           ½ cup chopped nuts of any kind.

"Boil sugar, butter, and milk together until a little forms a soft ball
when dropped in a cup of cold water. Add the nuts, stir a few moments
till slightly thick, drop by spoonsful on greased tins, or pour it into
a greased tin. When cool cut in blocks."

The time given by the Ethels to preparing for their cooking operations
was well spent. Never once did they have to call on Mary for something
they had forgotten to order, and each afternoon was pronounced a success
when it was over and its results lay before them.

"If we just had energy enough we might follow the plan that the candy
store people do when they have a new clerk. They say that they let her
eat all she wants to for the first few days and then she doesn't want
any more. It would be fun to give the family all they wanted."

"We really ought to do it before we set the Club to work packing all
these goodies, but I don't see how we can with those three boys. We
never could fill them up so they'd stop eating."

"Nev-_er_!"

"Not Roger!"

"We'll just have to give them a lecture on self-control and set them to
work."

"It's a glorious lot we've got. Where's Mother? We must show them to her
and Grandmother and Aunt Louise."

So there was an exhibit of "food products" that brought the Ethels many
compliments. Shelf upon shelf of their private kitchen was filled with
boxes and tins, and every day added to the quantity, for Mary came in
occasionally to bring a wee fruit cake, Aunt Louise sent over cookies,
and Mrs. Emerson added a box of professional candy to the pile.

"They tell me at the candy store that very hard candy doesn't last
well," she said. "It grows moist."

"That's why Miss Dawson gave me these receipts for softish candies like
fudge. It's well to remember that at Christmas time when you're
selecting candies for presents."

"I don't believe the Ethels ever will buy any candies again," said Mrs.
Morton. "They've become so expert in making them that they quite look
down on the professionals."

"Did you see the paper this morning?" asked Mrs. Emerson.

When the girls said that they had not, she produced a clipping.

"Grandfather thought that perhaps this might have escaped your notice,
so he sent it over."

Ethel Brown took it and Ethel Blue read it over her shoulder.

          CARGO FOR CHRISTMAS SHIP GATHERING HERE FROM EVERY
                                 STATE

          Hundreds of cases containing every conceivable
          kind of gift for a child have been received at the
          Bush Terminal in Brooklyn, where the Christmas
          Ship _Jason_, which will carry the gifts of
          American children to the orphans of the European
          War is being loaded.

          It became apparent that if the _Jason_ were to get
          off within reasonable time, a tremendous force of
          sorters and packers would have to be employed.
          When the situation was presented over the
          telephone to Secretary of the Navy Daniels he
          secured authorization for Gen. Wood to assign
          sixty soldiers to help to get the cargo ready.
          These men appeared for duty yesterday afternoon.

          Secretary Daniels has assigned Lieut.-Commander
          Courtney to command the Christmas Ship.

"What a fine Santa Claus-y feeling Commander Courtney must have," said
Mrs. Morton. "He's a friend of your father's, Ethel Brown."

"Think of being Santa Claus to all Europe!"

"Our parcels won't be very visible among several millions, will they?"

"You have a wonderfully creditable collection for ten youngsters working
so short a time."

"Mr. Watkins is keeping in touch with the ship so that we can make use
of every day that she's delayed. Tom telephoned to Roger this afternoon
that he had been over to the Bush Terminal and they were sure they
wouldn't start before the 10th of November.

"That gives us almost a week more, you see."

"Do you think we could go to New York to see the _Jason_ sail?" asked
Ethel Blue and both girls waited eagerly for the reply.

"Aunt Louise and I were saying that the Club ought to go in a body."

"If only she doesn't sail during school hours."

"Even then I think we might manage it for once," smiled Mrs. Morton, and
the Ethels rushed off to tell Roger and Helen the plan and to telephone
it to Margaret and James.



CHAPTER XXI

THE CHRISTMAS SHIP SAILS


THE Rosemont and Glen Point members of the U. S. C. did not wait for the
Watkinses to join them on Saturday before beginning to do up the parcels
for the Santa Claus Ship. All the small bundles were wrapped and tied in
Dorothy's attic, but after Mrs. Smith had made a careful examination of
the attic stairs she came to the conclusion that the large packing cases
into which they must be put for transportation to the Bush Terminal in
Brooklyn could not be taken down without damage to the walls. It was
therefore decided that when the bundles were ready they were to be
brought downstairs and there packed into several large cases which had
been donated for the purpose by the local dry goods dealer and the shoe
store man.

Each of these huge boxes James declared to be probably as large as the
mysterious house which Roger was going to propose for some sort of club
work in the spring. They had been delivered early in the week and were
established on the porch at the back of the Smith cottage awaiting the
contents that were to bring pleasure to hundreds of expectant children.

Doctor Hancock was so busy that he could not bring Margaret's and
James's collection to Rosemont when it was wanted there, so Mrs. Emerson
went to Glen Point in her car and brought it back filled high with the
result of James's pasting. It was necessary to have all his boxes to
pack the candies and cookies and small gifts in.

Every afternoon a busy throng gathered in the attic, wrapping and tying
and labelling the work that kept them all so busy for the previous two
months.

"We must do up every package just as carefully as if we were going to
put it on our own Christmas tree," Helen decided. "I think half the fun
of Christmas is untying the bundles and having the room all heaped up
with tissue paper and bright ribbons."

The Club had laid in a goodly store of tissue paper of a great variety
of colors, buying it at wholesale and thus obtaining a discount over the
retail price. The question of what to tie with was a subject of
discussion.

"We certainly can't afford ribbon," Ethel Brown declared. "Even the
narrowest kind is too expensive when we have to have hundreds of yards
of it."

"We ought to have thought about it before," said Helen looking rather
worried, as this necessity should have been foreseen by the president.
"I'll go right over to town and get something now," she added, putting
on her hat. "Have any of you girls any ideas on the subject?"

"I have," replied Dorothy. "You know that bright colored binding that
dressmakers use on seams? It's sometimes silk and sometimes silk and--"

"Cotton? Ha!"

"Silk and cotton; yes, ma'am. It comes in all colors and it's just the
right width and it costs a good deal less than real ribbon."

"I suppose we can get the rolls by wholesale in assorted colors, can't
we?"

"I should suppose so."

"I have an idea, too," offered Margaret who had come over on the trolley
after school was over. "There's a tinsel cord, silver and gilt, that
doesn't cost much and it looks bright and pretty. It would be just the
thing."

"I've seen that. It does look pretty. For home packages you can stick a
sprig of holly or a poinsettia in the knot and it makes it
C-H-A-R-M-I-N-G," spelled Ethel Blue, giving herself a whirl in her
excitement.

"But we can't use stick-ups on our Christmas Ship parcels, you know."

"That's so, but the tinsel string just by itself is quite pretty
enough."

"I'll bring back bushels," said Helen. "You have enough to go on with
for a while."

"One year when Mother and I were caught at the last minute on Christmas
Eve without any ribbon," said Dorothy, "--it was after the shops had
closed, I remember, we found several bundles that we had overlooked--we
tied them with ordinary red and green string twisted together. It looked
holly-fied."

"That would be easy to do," said Roger. "See, put two balls of twine,
one red and one green in a box and punch a hole in the top and let the
two colors come out of the hole. Then use them just as if they were one
cord. See?"

"As he talked he manufactured a twine box, popping into it not only the
red and green balls about which he had been talking, but, on the other
side of a slip of pasteboard which he put in for a partition, a ball of
pink and a ball of blue.

"Watch Roger developing another color scheme," cried Ethel Blue. "I'm
going to follow that out," and she proceeded to make up a collection of
parcels wrapped in pink tissue paper tied with blue string, in blue
paper tied with pink cord and in white tied with Roger's combination.

"There's one family fitted out with a lot of presents all naturally
belonging together," she cried.

"I rather like that notion myself," announced James gravely, adjusting
his lame leg to a more comfortable position. "Please hand me that brown
and yellow tissue, somebody. I'm going to make a lot of bundles along
the color lines that my auburn haired sister uses in her dress."

"Observant little Jimmy," commented Margaret.

"Here you perceive, ladies, that I am doing up the bundles with brown
and yellow and burnt orange and tango, and lemon color, and I'm tying
them with a contrast--brown with orange and buttercup yellow with brown
and lemon yellow with white and so on. Good looking, eh?" he finished,
pointing with pride to his group of attractive parcels.

"I'm going to do a bunch with a mixture of all sorts," announced Roger.
"Here's a green tied with red and a white tied with green and a pink
tied with white and a brown tied with tango, and violet tied with blue,
_und so weiter_, as our Fräulein says when she means 'and so forth' and
can't remember her English fast enough."

"Poor Fräulein! It will be a hard Christmas for her."

"She brought in the last of her work and Mrs. Hindenburg's yesterday.
Such a mound of knitting!"

"Has any one been to the Old Ladies' Home to gather up what they have
there?" asked James.

"Roger went early this morning before school. Perhaps those old ladies
haven't been busy! See that pile?"

"All theirs? Good work," and James set about tying up the soft and
comfortable knitted mufflers and wristlets and socks, first in tissue
paper with a ribbon or a bright cord and then with a stouter wrapper of
ordinary paper. He marked on each package what was in it.

"If the people who are doing the sorting and repacking at the Bush
Terminal can know what is in each bundle it is going to help them a
lot," remarked methodical James.

The packing of the candies and cookies took especial care, for they had
to be wrapped in paraffin paper and tightly wedged in the fancy boxes
awaiting them before they could be wrapped with their gay outside
coverings.

"We want them to arrive with some shape still left to them and not
merely a boxful of crumbs," said Ethel Brown earnestly.

Except for the collections of varied presents which they had made for
the sake of the color schemes of their wrappings--an arrangement with
which Helen was much pleased when she came back laden with ribbons and
cord--the gifts were packed according to their kind. Every article of
clothing was wrapped separately and the bundles were labelled, each with
the name of the article within, and then put into one large box. It was
only by great squeezing that the knitted articles were persuaded to go
into the same case.

In another box were the candies and cookies and cakes and breads. The
grocer from whom they had bought the materials for their cooking had
contributed a dozen tins of peaches.

In still another case went the seemingly innumerable small parcels that
held toys or little gifts. Here were the metal pieces and the leather
coin purses and the stuffed animals and the dolls. Doctor Hancock had
sent over a box of raisins and Mrs. Watkins had sent out from town a box
of figs and a few of these goodies with two or three pieces of candy,
went into every article that could be made to serve as a container. Of
this sort were the innumerable fancy bags made of silk bits and of
cretonne and of scraps of velvet which the girls had put together when
other work flagged. Many of the pretty little baskets held a pleasant
amount of sweeties, and the tiny leather travelling bags and the larger
wrist bags of tooled leather were lined with a piece of paraffin paper
enclosing something for sweet-toothed European children.

James's boxes, with those made by the others, held out wonderfully.

"You certainly put in a good week's work with the paste pot," declared
Roger admiringly as he filled the last one with sugar cookies and tied
it with green and red twine to harmonize with its covering of holly
paper.

The Watkinses had sent out their offerings, for they wanted what they
had at home to be packed with the other Club articles, even though they
lived nearer than the rest to the place from which the ship was going
to steam. When this additional collection was prepared and packed it was
found that there were three big packing cases.

"Good for the U. S. C.!" cried the boys as the last nail went into the
last cover.

James, who printed well, painted the address neatly on the tops and
sides, and they all watched with vivid interest the drayman who hauled
them, away, generously contributing his services to the Christmas cause.

After all their hurry it seemed something of a hardship when they were
informed that the sailing of the ship was delayed for several days
because the force of packers, large as it was, could not prepare all the
parcels in time for the tenth of the month.

"The paper says there are more than sixty car-loads of gifts," read
Ethel Blue to her interested family, "and five or six million separate
presents."

"No wonder they're delayed!"

Yet after all they were glad of the delay for the _Jason_ finally sailed
at noon of the fourteenth, and that was Saturday. The Hancocks went in
to New York and over to Brooklyn in the Doctor's car and Mrs. Emerson's
big touring car held all the Mortons and Dorothy and her mother, and
Fräulein and her mother, though it was a tight squeeze.

"The old woman who lived in a shoe must have been on her way to a
Christmas Ship," cried Grandmother when Roger tossed Dicky in "on top of
the heap of Ethels," as he described it and took up his own station on
the running board.

The pier at the Bush Terminal in Brooklyn was already well crowded with
people and motors when the Rosemont party arrived. The Watkinses and
the Hancocks were already there. Freight cars stood at one side, freight
cars empty now of their loads of good cheer. Everybody was laughing and
happy and in a Christmas mood, and the boy band from St. John's Home in
Brooklyn made merry music.

Thanks to Mrs. Morton's acquaintance with Lieutenant-Commander Courtney,
who was in command of the ship, she and her flock had been invited to
hear the speeches of farewell made in the main saloon by representatives
of the city of New York.

Roger led the way to the gang plank which stretched from the pier to the
deck of the huge navy collier.

"Old _Jason_ looks grim enough in his gray war paint," he commented.

"But those great latticed arms of the six cranes look as if he were
trying to play Christmas tree," suggested Mrs. Emerson.

The speeches were full of good will and Christmas cheer. Back on to the
pier went the listeners and then amid the cheers of the throng on the
dock and the whistles of near-by boats and the strains of "The Star
Spangled Banner" from the boys' band and the waving of handkerchiefs and
hats, the huge gray steamer slipped out into the stream and started on
her way across the ocean.

It was when the U. S. C. was making its way back to the automobiles that
a piercing scream attracted their attention.

"That sounds like Fräulein's voice," said Helen, looking about for the
source of the cry.

"_Meine Tochter!_" exclaimed Mrs. Hindenburg at the same moment.

And then they came upon Fräulein, her arms about the neck of a bearded
man, who stroked her hair and cheek with one hand while with the other
he clung to one of the crutches which gave him but an insecure support.

"_Lieber Heinrich!_" cried Mrs. Hindenburg as she caught sight of the
tableau.

"It's--yes, I believe it's Mr. Schuler! Look, Helen, do you think it
is?" whispered Roger.

"It must be," returned Helen. "It's hard to tell with that beard, but
I'm almost sure it is."

"His leg! Oh, Helen, his leg is gone!" lamented Ethel Blue.

The Rosemont party's certainty was relieved by Mrs. Hindenburg who
turned to them, beaming.

"It iss Mr. Schuler; it iss Heinrich," she explained. "_He_ has lost his
leg. What matter? He is here and the _Tochter_ is happy!"

Happy indeed was Fräulein when she turned her tear-stained face toward
the others.

"He has come," she said simply, while the rest crowded around and shook
hands.

It seemed that he had obtained leave to return to America because he had
lost his leg and could fight no more. Yes, he said, Mademoiselle
Millerand had nursed him when his leg was taken off.

The spectators of the moving pictures looked at each other and nodded.

Mademoiselle had sent a message to the Secretary of the United Service
Club, he went on. It was--he took a slip of paper from his pocket book.

"Message received. Answered in person."

The Club members laughed at this whose whole meaning it was clear that
Mr. Schuler did not appreciate.

He had arrived, it seemed, only two hours before, on an Italian boat,
and had heard on the way up from Quarantine of the sailing of the
Christmas Ship and so had crossed to wave a farewell before going out to
Rosemont.

"And here I have found my best fortune," he said over and over again,
his eyes resting fondly on Fräulein's face.



CHAPTER XXII

A WEDDING AND A SURPRISE


IT was a simple wedding that the U. S. C. went to in a body a few days
after the arrival of the convalescent German soldier. Mr. Wheeler, the
principal of the high school, acted as best man, and Miss Dawson, the
domestic science teacher, was maid of honor, but Fräulein also gathered
about her in the cottage sitting-room where the ceremony took place a
group of the young girls who had been kindest to her when she was in
trouble.

"I want you and the Ethels and Dorothy," she said to Helen; "and if your
friends, Della and Margaret, would come with you it would give me
greatest pleasure."

So the girls, all dressed in white, and wearing the forget-me-not pins
that Grandfather Emerson insisted on giving them for the occasion,
clustered around the young teacher, and the three boys, a forget-me-not
in each scarfpin, held the ribbons that pressed gently back the cordial
friends who were happy in Fräulein's happiness.

It was the Club that decorated the house with brown sedges and stalks of
upstanding tawny corn and vines of bittersweet. And it was the Club that
sang a soft German marriage song as the bride and groom drove off toward
the setting sun in Grandmother Emerson's car.

Life seemed rather flat to the members of the U. S. C. after the
wedding. For the last two months they had been so busy that every hour
had been filled with work and play-work, and now that there was nothing
especial scheduled for every waking moment it seemed as if they had
nothing at all to do.

"We'll have to ask Roger about his house," laughed James who came over
with Margaret one afternoon and confessed to the same feeling.

"Not yet," answered Helen.

"Helen is full of ideas up to her very eyebrows, I believe," said Ethel
Blue. "She's just giving us a holiday."

"Mother said we needed one," assented Helen. "After we've had a few
days' rest we can start on something else. There's no need to call on
Roger yet awhile."

"Why not? My idea is a perfectly good one," insisted Roger, strolling
in.

Just at this minute Mary entered with a note for "The Secretary of the
United Service Club."

"For you, Ethel Blue," said Roger, handing it to his cousin.

Ethel Blue slipped a cutter under the edge while the others waited
expectantly, for the address indicated that the contents was of interest
to all of them.

"What does this mean?" she cried as she read. "What is it? Is it true?"

She was so excited that they all crowded around her to see what had
taken away her power of explanation.

The letter was signed "Justine Millerand."

"Mademoiselle," cried all who could see the signature.

"She says," read Ethel Blue, finding her strength again, "'Here is the
Belgian baby you asked for. She is two years old and her name is
"Elisabeth," after the Queen of Belgium!'"

"Is that all?"

"That's all."

"But she says, '_Here_ is the Belgian baby.' _Where_ is the Belgian
baby?"

They turned toward Mary who had remained in the room.

"There's a Red Cross nurse in the reception room," she explained. "She
said she'd rather you read the letter first."

They made a rush for the door. Roger reached it first and ushered the
nurse into the living room. She was dressed in her grey uniform and
sheltered under her cape the thinnest, wannest mite of humanity that
ever the Club had seen outside of the streets of a city slum.

"Mademoiselle Millerand said you had asked for a Belgian baby," she
began, but she was interrupted by a cry from the entire throng.

"We did; we did," they exclaimed so earnestly that any doubts she may
have felt about the cordiality of their reception of her nursling were
banished at once.

"Your mother?" she asked.

"I don't believe Mother really expected it to come, any more than we
did," replied Helen frankly, "but she will love it just as we will, and
we'll take the very best of care of her."

She offered her finger to Elisabeth, who clutched it and gazed solemnly
at her out of her sunken blue eyes.

Ethel Blue in the back of the group gave a sob.

"She'll pick up soon when she has good food every day," the nurse
reassured them, and then she told them of her own experiences.

She had been, it seemed, in the same hospital with Mademoiselle in
Belgium. Out on the field one day a bit of shrapnel had wounded her foot
so that she was forced to come home. Mademoiselle had asked her to bring
over this mite "to the kindest young people in the world," and here she
was.

The baby's father and mother were both dead, she went on. That she knew.

"Are you sure her name is Elisabeth?" asked Dorothy.

"That's what she calls herself."

By this time Elisabeth had made friends with every one of them and was
sitting comfortably on one of Roger's knees while Dicky occupied the
other and made acceptable gestures toward her.

"She'll be happy here," said the nurse, and rose to explain her visit to
Mrs. Morton.

Like the girls, Mrs. Morton had not expected that Mademoiselle would
respond to their request for a Belgian baby and she was somewhat taken
back by its appearance.

"I can see that you did not look for her," the nurse suggested, "but
when you are on the spot and are seeing such hideous distress every day
and a chance opens to relieve just one little child, it is more than you
can resist. I know that is why Mademoiselle Millerand sent her."

"I quite understand," responded Mrs. Morton cordially. "Elisabeth shall
have a happy home in Rosemont."

"And a baker's dozen of fathers and mothers to make up for her own,"
said James.

"And we're grateful to you for bringing her," said Ethel Blue, offering
her hand.

It was after the nurse had had a cup of tea and had returned to New York
that Helen called the Club to order formally.

"The Club has got its work cut out for it for a long time to come," she
said. "I don't think we have any right to bring this baby over to
America and then send it to an orphanage, though that would be the
easiest way to do."

"We'll never do that," said Margaret firmly.

"If we are going to take care of it it means that we'll have to earn
money for it and give it our personal care. Now, all in favor of
accepting Elisabeth as our Club baby, say 'Aye.'"

There was a hearty assent.

"There are no contrary-minded," declared the president. "From now on she
belongs to us."

"And here's my forget-me-not pin to prove it," said Ethel Blue,
fastening it on the baby's dress.

"Just what we'll have to do about her we must think out carefully and
talk over with our mothers," went on Helen. "But this minute we can
accept our new club member and cry all together, 'Three cheers for
Elisabeth of Belgium.'"

And at the shout that followed, Elisabeth of Belgium gave her first
faint smile.


THE END



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Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.





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