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´╗┐Title: Doctor Papa
Author: May, Sophie
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Internet Archive)



  SOPHIE MAY'S BOOKS.

  _Any volume sold separately._


  =DOTTY DIMPLE SERIES.= Six volumes. Illustrated.
  Per vol., 75 cents.

  Dotty Dimple at her Grandmother's.

  Dotty Dimple at Home.

  Dotty Dimple out West.

  Dotty Dimple at Play.

  Dotty Dimple at School.

  Dotty Dimple's Flyaway.


  =FLAXIE FRIZZLE STORIES.= Illust. Per vol., 75 cts.

  Flaxie Frizzle.

  Doctor Papa.

  Little Pitchers.

  The Twin Cousins.

  Kittyleen.

  (_Others in preparation._)


  =LITTLE PRUDY STORIES.= Six vols. Handsomely
  Illustrated. Per vol., 75 cts.

  Little Prudy.

  Little Prudy's Sister Susy.

  Little Prudy's Captain Horace.

  Little Prudy's Story Book.

  Little Prudy's Cousin Grace.

  Little Prudy's Dotty Dimple.


  =LITTLE PRUDY'S FLYAWAY SERIES.= Six vols.
  Illustrated. Per vol., 75 cts.

  Little Folks Astray.

  Prudy Keeping House.

  Aunt Madge's Story.

  Little Grandmother.

  Little Grandfather.

  Miss Thistledown.

  LEE AND SHEPARD, PUBLISHERS, BOSTON.



[Illustration: "I'M A DOCTOR'S CHILLEN; THEY WON'T BITE ME," SAID
FLAXIE. Page 11.]



[Illustration: Flaxie Frizzle

SERIES

By

SOPHIE MAY

ILLUSTRATED

Doctor Papa.

LEE & SHEPARD BOSTON.]



  _FLAXIE FRIZZLE STORIES._

  DOCTOR PAPA.

  BY

  SOPHIE MAY

  AUTHOR OF "LITTLE PRUDY STORIES," "DOTTY DIMPLE
  STORIES," "LITTLE PRUDY'S FLYAWAY STORIES," ETC.


  _ILLUSTRATED._


  BOSTON:
  LEE AND SHEPARD, PUBLISHERS.

  NEW YORK:
  CHARLES T. DILLINGHAM.



  COPYRIGHT,

  1877,

  BY LEE AND SHEPARD.



  CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER                             PAGE

     I. THE SCARECROW SISTER,            9

    II. FLAXIE'S DOSE,                  20

   III. THE KNITTING-WORK PARTY,        36

    IV. MAKING FLAXIE HAPPY,            54

     V. BETTER THAN A KITTEN,           68

    VI. THE STRANGE RIDE,               82

   VII. MAKING CALLS,                   96

  VIII. TEASING MIDGE,                 113

    IX. THE WEE WHITE ROSE,            127

     X. PRESTON'S GOLD DOLLAR,         137

    XI. PRESTON KEEPING HOUSE,         158

   XII. MRS. PRIM'S STRAWBERRIES,      174



FLAXIE FRIZZLE AND DR. PAPA.



CHAPTER I.

THE SCARECROW SISTER.


One morning little Miss Frizzle danced about her brother Preston, as he
was starting for school, saying,--

"If a little boy had one poggit full o' pinnuts, and one poggit full o'
canny, and one in his hands, how many would he be?"

This was a question in arithmetic; and, though Preston was a large boy,
he could not answer it.

"Answer it yourself," said he, laughing.

"He'd have fousands and fousands--as many as _four hundred_!" said
Flaxie, promptly.

"Shouldn't wonder! What's the need of my going to school, when I have a
little sister at home that knows so much?" cried Preston, kissing her
and hurrying away.

Flaxie wished he and her sister Julia--or Ninny, as she called
her--could stay with her all the time. She was lonesome when they were
both gone; and to-day her mamma said she must not go out of doors
because her throat was sore.

She stood for awhile by the kitchen window, looking at the meadow
behind the house. It was sprinkled all over with dandelions, so bright
and gay that Flaxie fancied they were laughing. _They_ didn't have
sore throats. O, no! they could stay out of doors all day long; and
so could the pretty brook; and so could the dog Rover; and the horses,
Whiz and Slowboy; and the two young colts.

By-and-by the colts came to the kitchen window, which was open, and put
in their noses to ask for something to eat. Flaxie gave them pieces of
bread, which Dora handed her; and they ate them, then ran out their
tongues and licked the window-sill, to be sure to get all the crumbs.

"What if they should bite you!" said Dora.

"O, they won't! I'm a doctor's chillen; they won't bite _me_," said
Flaxie, who was never afraid of any thing or anybody.

"Well, you mustn't keep that window open any longer. You'll get cold,
if you _are_ a doctor's children," said Dora. "Run into the parlor to
your mother. Why, you haven't seen her for an hour."

Flaxie was not at all anxious to see her mother, but ran into the
parlor and called for a slate and pencil. Mrs. Gray gave them to her;
and Flaxie drew pictures for ten minutes,--such pictures! Then the
squeaking stopped, and she began to cry.

"What is it, darling?" said mamma.

"I've losted my _pessle_," sobbed Flaxie.

"O, well, I'll get you another. Don't cry."

"I've losted it _up my nose_," screamed the child, running to her
mother in great distress.

It was true. The pencil was a very short one; and, in poking it into
her nose, just for fun, she had pushed it too far, and it would not
come out. Mrs. Gray tried her very best; but the harder she tried
the further up went the pencil, and the more Flaxie's nose bled and
swelled. It was growing worse every minute; and Mrs. Gray, not knowing
what else to do, called Dora from the kitchen and sent her for "Dr.
Papa."

When Flaxie knew her father was sent for, she cried louder than ever;
for she thought she must be dreadfully hurt.

"Is I a-goin' to die?" said she. "I wouldn't die for fi-ive dollars!"

"No, indeed, pet, you won't die. Dr. Papa will make you all well in two
minutes."

"Will he? O, dear, my nose is _so_ sick! Kiss it, mamma!"

Mamma kissed the poor purple little nose, which helped Flaxie very
much; but she burst out afresh, next moment. "How bad Dr. Papa'll feel
when he comes home!"

Her mother soothed her; but soon she fell to crying again.

"How _Ninny_'ll feel when _she_ comes home!"

Mrs. Gray comforted her for this with more kisses; but presently Flaxie
sobbed out once more,--

"How _Pesson_ will feel when _he_ comes home!"

For the child truly believed her friends would grieve more about it
than she did.

Dr. Papa hurried to his darling as fast as he could; but, by the time
he got home, her nose was badly swelled, and he had to hurt her very
much in order to get out the "pessle." When it was all over, he took
her on his knee, and tried to make her forget her troubles by showing
her some pictures.

"The man in this picture is a school-teacher," said he; "and the little
boy who stands by his desk must have been naughty, for the teacher is
going to whip him with that stick."

"Goin' to w'ip him? Well, I'll wait and _see_ if he w'ips him," said
Flaxie, folding her hands and staring at the picture with all her might.

Dr. Papa laughed. He often laughed at what Flaxie said; and Mrs. Prim,
a lady who lived in town, thought he "spoiled her." Perhaps he did.

"O, see the pretty chickies," said the child, as her father turned to
another picture. "Does God make chickies?"

"Certainly."

"Well," said she, thoughtfully, "how they must have _hollered_ when he
stuck the fedders in!"

I must confess Dr. Papa laughed again. Then he put Flaxie down, and
said he must go, though she held him by the vest-buttons, and declared
the next picture would be "awful funny."

"How do you know?"

"O, I _guess_ it will!"

"Well, dear, if it's ever so funny, Dr. Papa will have to go, for a
sick lady wants to see him."

"Did the lady get a pessle up _her_ nose?"

"No, she didn't; but she is very sick for all that. Good-by, pet."

As Dr. Gray went out of the yard, he said to his stable-boy,--

"Crawford, I think the crows are getting too much of that corn we
planted. Can't you put up a scarecrow?"

Crawford thought he could, and went into the house to ask Dora for some
old clothes.

"I'll tell you what you'd better do, Crawford," said Dora. "Make a
_little_ scarecrow, and dress it up like Flaxie Frizzle. I'll get you
some of her old clothes."

"That's just the thing," replied Crawford. "Give me her red hood and
waterproof, and I'll stuff 'em out with hay. O, my, won't the crows be
scared?"

Crawford chuckled to himself all the while he was making this little
image; and, when it was done, he carried it out to the corn-field, and
fastened it upon a stump.

"Well, it does look exactly like her, and the crows won't know the
difference," said he: "only she couldn't keep still to save her life.
Guess I'll pin on a veil or something to blow in the wind, as if she
was moving."

Dora gave him an old red scarf; and it certainly did make the image
look very much as if it were alive. People who rode by turned to gaze
at it, and said,--

"There's the doctor's baby. I'm glad her mother has wrapped her up so
well: it's pretty cold weather for this time of year."

But you must know Flaxie Frizzle was surprised when _she_ saw the
scarecrow! She had climbed the sofa, and was looking out of the window.
What did she see, standing there in the corn-field? It was her own
self! She rubbed her eyes, and looked again.

"O mamma, mamma," called she. "Come here _just_ as kick! You s'pose,
mamma, who's playing _coop_ out there? It's ME! And _here's_ ME, right
here! Have I got a little sister?"

It was some time before she could be made to understand that the
scarecrow was not herself, was not alive, and was only a rag-baby made
of sticks and straw and old clothes. The next day it rained from
morning till night; and everybody who went by the house thought it too
bad that poor Flaxie Frizzle should be in the corn-field, getting so
wet.

At least a dozen times the door-bell rang; and a dozen people told Dora
to be sure and let Mrs. Gray know her baby was out in the rain!

Dora laughed, and assured the kind people that "_that_ baby in the
field was neither sugar nor salt, and water wouldn't hurt her a grain."

But she told Crawford "it did her good to see how much the neighbors
thought of Flaxie Frizzle, for all she was such a curious-acting child."

"And, Crawford, you'll have to take down that 'scarecrow sister,' and
put up something else; for I can't spend my time running to the door to
explain to folks that it isn't Flaxie Frizzle."



CHAPTER II.

FLAXIE'S DOSE.


That summer Grandpa Pressy came to Dr. Gray's, visiting. Flaxie Frizzle
had five grandfathers, but she loved Grandpa Pressy best of all; and he
loved her, too, and called her his "little boy."

Now, the dear old gentleman had a poor memory; and, if he laid down his
newspaper or spectacles, he hardly ever knew where to find them.

"I guess I left my silk handkerchief up stairs," said he, one morning.
"Won't my little boy run up, and get it off the bureau?"

Flaxie went in a moment, but the handkerchief was not there. There
was a silver box on the bureau, though, a very pretty one; and
Flaxie thought she would open it and see what was in it. It was an
old-fashioned snuff-box. Grandpa Pressy did not use snuff, but he
carried his medicines in this box when he went away from home. There
were three kinds of medicine,--cough lozenges, sugar-coated pills, and
a tiny bottle wrapped in cotton-wool, and marked "wine of antimony."

First, Flaxie took out a cough lozenge, and put it on her tongue; but
it was rather fiery, and she said,--

"O, it quackles me."

She would not touch the "candy pills," for she had seen the same sort
before, and knew they were bitter inside; but she picked the vial out
of the cotton-wool, held it up to the light, and thought it looked
"very nice."

"Mayn't I have some, grandpa?" whispered she.

She knew her gampa was not there to hear her: it was a way she had of
talking to herself.

"Mayn't I have some, gampa?" Then she smiled very sweetly, and replied
aloud,--

"Yes, little boy, you _may_ have some."

Ah, Flaxie, Flaxie! To think you should know no better than to meddle
with such dreadful things! The antimony was as poisonous as it could
be; but, if anybody had told you so, you would have swallowed it all
the same, I suppose, you silly little creature!

How much antimony Flaxie took, I'm sure I don't know, but it was a
great deal; and it frightens me now to think of it, for this is a true
story.

"I'm a doctor's chillen; I _mus'_ take mederson," said she, making a
wry face as she found it did not taste at all "nice."

Suddenly a voice called out,--

"Where's that try-patience?"

It was Dora; she was close by the door. Flaxie threw the vial and the
box behind the looking-glass, and answered, in an innocent tone,--

"Here I is!"

Of course she knew Dora meant _her_; for Dora never, never called
anybody else a "try-patience."

"What are you up in this chair for, rummaging round in folks' bureaux?"
said Dora, hugging and scolding and shaking her, all in a breath.

"I wasn't doin' nuffin," said guilty little Flaxie, pouting. "If you
scold to me, Dodo, I'll _make_ me a naughty little goorl!"

"You're always naughty, without _making_. There, now, come away: this
room is no place for you."

"O, now I know what I camed for," said Flaxie; "it was gampa's
hang-ger-fiss."

"O, lor', I found his hang-ger-fiss long ago in the dining-room. Away
with you. I want to make the bed."

As Dora spoke, she kissed Flaxie; and I wonder she didn't perceive that
the child's breath smelt of medicine.

"There, there, you're an old darling," said Dodo, "whatever you do."

That was the way Dora's scoldings usually ended; and Flaxie did not
mind them in the least. She danced down stairs in a great hurry; for,
in the front yard under the trees, her brother Preston and two other
boys were swapping jack-knives, and Miss Frizzle always liked to be on
the spot when any thing was going on.

The boys all smiled when they saw her coming; and Preston drew her
close to his side, and straightened the lace frill in the neck of her
dress. He was only eight years old; but he had always felt a great deal
of care of his little sister.

"Come here, Miss Frizzle, and I'll put you in my pocket," said Bert
Abbott.

"Got some canny in your poggit? If you have, I'll go," responded
Flaxie, with a roguish smile.

This was considered such a bright speech that the boys, all three,
turned their pockets inside out to see if they had any sweetmeats to
offer. Bert Abbott found a broken tart, and Jack Snow a few peanuts.
Flaxie took the "pinnuts" with a cool little nod, but the tart was not
to her fancy.

"'Cause I don't like pie-grust, and _that's_ because," said she,
curling her lip as she looked at the crumbs.

"Guess you don't like 'pinnuts' either," said Jack Snow; for she was
dropping the shells down Preston's back and the kernels into the grass.

"Yes, I like 'em; pinnuts is _le-licious_," replied Flaxie, faintly;
but she was beginning to grow rather pale round the mouth.

"Come, boys," said Preston, who had not the slightest idea that any
thing ailed his precious sister, "let's go and have our sail. I'll run
and get Flaxie's hat."

They called it "sailing;" but it was merely rocking about in the pretty
boat, called the "Trout-fly," which was moored on the bank of the
brook. As the boys did not know how to swim, Dr. Gray never allowed
them to unfasten the boat.

It was a lovely day. The hills were as blue as the sky, and the sky
was as soft as a dream. What harm was there in having a little "sail"
in that black and green "Trout-fly?" Preston thought they were doing a
proper thing, and so they were; but the young passenger they took with
them was soon to give them a world of trouble.

The boys had a pretty good time; but they could not make Flaxie talk:
she said her "teef were tired." There was an anxious look on her face,
and she never once smiled.

"What under the sun ails you?" said Preston, as she threw herself down
in the bottom of the boat, with her head on his feet.

"I don' know," replied Flaxie; for she had no more remembrance of her
dose of poison than a kitten has of its last saucer of cream.

"Are you sleepy?"

"No; but my _eyes_ are."

"Let her go to sleep; don't bother her," said Jack Snow.

"Yes, I shall bother her too. She's real white; and I can't stand it,"
said Preston, stroking her cold cheeks in alarm.

At that Flaxie began to cry. She was not in pain, as she had been when
she got the slate-pencil up her nose; but somehow she felt very unhappy.

"Guess I's goin' to die," sobbed she.

"Why, Flaxie Frizzle Gray, what do you mean by such talk as that? What
do YOU know about dying?"

"O, I know 'bout it; we'll all die some day, mamma said so; guess it's
_some day_ now," gasped Flaxie, mournfully.

"That's not a pretty way to talk," said Bert Abbott. "Here, eat a
raisin, Flaxie, that's a good baby."

Flaxie shut her eyes firmly, and would not touch the raisin. Preston
began to feel uneasy: he had never seen his sister's rosy little face
look like this before. "See here, boys," said he, "let's get out of
this, and I'll carry Flaxie home to mother."

If he could only have done it! But, somehow, before he had fairly got
the child in his arms, she drew away from him and leaned over the stern
of the boat. I suppose she was blind and dizzy; but, at any rate, she
lost her balance and fell head-first into the brook, which was deep
enough, even by the shore, to drown a man. It was done so quickly that
nobody had time to stop her. Jack Snow reached out as far as he could
and clutched the hem of her cambric dress; but it slipped through his
fingers, and the child sank down, down to the very bottom.

"Hullo there!" screamed the boy, as if that could do the least good!

Preston plunged into the water. He did not know how to swim much; but
he never stopped to think of himself, he must save his darling sister.
O, _where_ was she? Why didn't she rise to the surface? He had heard
his father say that people did not drown till they had risen at least
once. Perhaps you, who know of Flaxie's taking poison, can guess why
she did not rise. She had fainted away!

Preston dived, but came up without her. She had gone out of his reach.
When he rose, he said to himself,--

"I'll never go home without my darling sister! If she drowns, I'll
drown!"

"Jump into the boat," screamed the boys. "It's no use; you can't get
her!"

"Yes, I _will_," said Preston, and dived again. That time, without
knowing it, he _almost_ touched Flaxie, lying still as a log, ten feet
below.

When he came up, the boys reached after him and pulled him into the
boat. He struggled with all his might; but it was two against one, and
he could not help himself.

"Oogle, oogle, goggle!" screamed he; for his mouth was so full of water
that he could not speak.

"Pat him on the back," said Jack Snow, always ready with advice.

"Oogle, oogle, oggle, goggle!" cried Preston, striking out both arms,
and determined to dive again; but the boys held him fast. If they had
not held him, he would certainly have drowned, but he could not have
saved Flaxie. He had courage enough, and will enough for a grown man;
but, alas, his strength was only that of a little boy.

And what could be done? Bert Abbott ran up the bank, screaming for
help. Was all the world deaf? If those boys had never prayed before,
they prayed now. "Help us, help us, O God, _won't_ you help us? Send
somebody to save Flaxie!"

It was quite five minutes--so I am told--that the child lay in that
brook before any help came. At last a man, who was going by, heard the
outcry, and thought it sounded like something more than boys' play. He
ran to the spot; and, as he could swim, he soon had Flaxie out of the
water; but, whether dead or alive, that was the question.

There she lay in his arms, as still as a stone. The water dripped from
her beautiful flaxen hair, from the tips of her white fingers, from
her dimpled chin; but not an eyelash stirred, and her little heart had
ceased to beat.

"The poor thing is clean gone, no mistake about that," thought the man,
putting his lips to Flaxie's cold mouth.

"Rub her! Roll her! Run for father!" shouted Preston, flinging himself
upon his lifeless sister, and kissing her wildly.

"Here, boys, you run ahead and get the doctor, and I'll carry her to
the house as quick as I can," said Mr. Bond.

"Don't take on so," added he, soothingly to Preston. "Folks do come to,
sometimes, and live, when they look as far gone as she does."

He said this from the kindness of his heart; but in reality he had
very little hope of Flaxie. Dr. Gray had scarcely any hope either: he
thought she had been in the water too long.

Ever so many men and women worked over the child for hours and hours:
Dr. Papa and mamma among the rest, of course; and even Grandpa Pressy
helped a little, though his hands trembled, and he was very pale. It
did not seem to be of the least use; still, they kept trying.

"O, you dear, beautiful baby," said Mrs. Gray, the tears falling over
her cheeks, "it is so hard to give you up!"

Dr. Papa held his cold little darling, his "Pinky Pearly," to his
heart; but he could not speak a word.

But, just as they were all giving her up, she was seen to breathe,
very, very softly.

"Saved!" whispered Dr. Papa.

"Saved!" echoed mamma.

"Thank God!" said Grandpa Pressy.

How did Preston feel when his dear sister slowly opened her blue eyes?
He would have given his life for her,--was he glad she was saved? Ah,
_was_ he glad, the noble boy?

In a few minutes Dr. Papa knew the whole story: he found out that
Flaxie had been taking poison.

"Now I understand it all," said he. "She fainted away before she fell
into the brook. If she had not fainted she could not have lived so long
under the water."

"Was that what made her lie so still?" asked Preston. "If she had moved
a little I might have pulled her out; but she wouldn't move, and I
couldn't reach her."

"You tried your best, my son," said the doctor, laying his hand on
Preston's head. "It makes me happy to think my little girl has such a
brother!"



CHAPTER III.

THE KNITTING-WORK PARTY.


Flaxie recovered from this accident a great deal sooner than Grandpa
Pressy did. Somehow, the shock of seeing his "little boy" lying so
white and cold made grandpa ill. He was so ill, in fact, that Dr. Gray
sent for grandma.

It was very pleasant having grandma in the house; and her dear old
husband began to feel better the moment he saw her.

"Dear little Mary, how do you do?" said she to Flaxie, who was lying on
the bed. Flaxie made no answer, except to put out her tongue.

"Can't you speak to grandma?" said Ninny.

"No: I'm a doctor's chillen, and doctor's chillen _always_ puts out
their tongues," replied Flaxie, showing it again.

"It doesn't look very sick," said grandma, laughing.

"Then what makes my mamma keep me in bed?" whined Flaxie. "I don't want
to be in my nightie. I want to be in my pretty dress, and sit in your
lap."

"She is very, very cross," said Ninny to grandma, with a patient smile,
as they left the room.

"Perhaps we can amuse her," replied grandma; and next morning she gave
her some bright worsted to make her doll, Miss Peppermint Drop, a scarf.

Flaxie was well pleased, for awhile, tying the worsted into knots and
putting it over the needles; but it soon tired her.

"O gramma, the needles won't knit: they're _crooksey_ needles," said
she.

"Well, come sit in my lap, dear, and I'll tell you a story about a
knitting-work party, that I had a great, great while ago, when I was
about as old as Julia."

"That's a funny party, _I_ should fink," said Flaxie, curling her head
down on her grandma's shoulder.

"A knitting-work party, did you say?" asked Ninny, preparing to listen.

"Well, yes. You know girls in those times didn't have so many parties
as they do now," replied grandma; "and I had been wanting this one for
weeks and weeks before I even dared ask my mother about it. When I did
ask her, she said,--

"'Why, Polly, don't you see how much spring-work I have to do? How can
I stop to cook a supper for a dozen little girls?'

"'O, but I'll cook it myself,' said I. 'I can make gingerbread and
cup-custards.'

"'And what will you do for bread?' said she.

"I didn't think there would be any trouble about that. 'There was
_always_ bread enough,' I said. 'Little girls didn't eat much, and
twelve wouldn't make the _least_ difference!'

"Well, but mother wanted to know what I could give them for sauce. The
dried apples were all gone, and she couldn't let me have any preserves;
she was keeping those for sickness.

"I said I would give them some molasses. I liked molasses, and thought
everybody else did.

"Mother smiled.

"'But if I let you have a party,' said she, 'you can't do your
knitting. You know I'm in a hurry for you to finish father's socks.'

"That was what made me think of turning it into a knitting-work party.
I spoke up in a moment, and said I,--

"'O mother! if you'll only let me have it, I'll ask all the girls to
bring their knitting-work, and then we'll measure yarns! O, won't that
be grand? And, when we get our stints done, we'll go out and play in
the barn. We won't trouble you one speck.'

"'Well, Polly,' said mother, 'I've a great mind to say yes; for that
sounds to me like a very sensible kind of a party; and will be setting
a good example too. Yes, you may have it, if your sisters are willing
to show you how to cook, and you won't make _me_ any trouble.'

"You may depend I was pleased. I skipped off to the kitchen in great
glee, and danced about the kneading-trough, where sister Judith was
mixing brown-bread, crying out,--

"'I'm going to have a _knitting-work party_, Judy, and cook it myself!
Give me a pan and a spoon!'

"My eldest sister, Sally, was pounding spices in a mortar; and I
remember Judith turned to her, and said,--

"'Now, Sally, you _don't_ suppose mother is going to let that child
bother round?'

"'O, _I_ shan't bother,' said I. 'I'm only going to make gingerbread
and cup-custards. 'Twill be very easy!'

"Sally laughed,--she was very good-natured,--and told me to run out
to the barn for some eggs. While I was gone, I suppose she and Judith
talked the matter over, and thought they would keep me out of the
kitchen; for, as soon as I came back, they sent me off to give my
invitations.

"'We'll do the cooking,' said Sally; 'but you may set the table
yourself, and wait upon your little girls. We will not see them at all.'

"I ran off, happy enough; and I have thought a great many times since,
how kind it was in Sally and Judith to leave their work to do that
baking for me. They were good sisters, certainly.

"I had a grand time that morning, going from house to house, asking
my friends to my knitting-work party. Everybody was delighted; and
everybody came, of course, and got there by two o'clock, or earlier.

"Mother left her quilting long enough to put marks with red worsted
into each little girl's knitting-work.

"'There,' said she, 'at four o'clock I will come to see which has
beat. I must be the one to judge; for there is a difference in your
yarn,--some is coarse and some is fine; and we must be fair about it.'

"'O, yes'm,' said the girls; 'we want to be fair.'

"'Well, now I'll leave you,' said mother; 'and I hope you'll have a
nice time.'

"And we did, for awhile. As we sat busy with our knitting, we heard
now and then the tender bleating of a lamb in the barn,--how well I
remember that!

"'That's my cosset,' said I. 'She hasn't any mother, you know. I'll
show her to you, girls, when we get our knitting done.'

"Persis Russell 'didn't see the use of waiting,' she said. 'Why
couldn't we run out and look, and right back again?'

"Just then the lamb began to bleat louder, and in a very beseeching
tone, as if he felt lonesome and wanted company. It seemed to touch the
girls' hearts; and they sprang up, and started for the door--all but me.

"'Well, run along if you want to,' said I, 'I'll come in a minute.'

"'But you mustn't stay here and keep on knitting,' said they; 'that
wouldn't be fair.'

"'I don't mean to keep on knitting. I won't knit another stitch; but I
want to sweep up the hearth,' said I.

"As I spoke, I dared not look anybody in the face, for a dreadfully
wicked thought had come into my head.

"If I could only pick out the mark mother had put in my work, and sew
in another lower down! A black satin bag was hanging on a nail by the
window; and in the bottom of the bag was a needlebook with the very
needle and red worsted mother had used to sew in the marks!

"The girls ran out, and I seized that needle--O, how thick and fast my
heart beat! It was as much as I could do to make the stitch, my fingers
trembled so. But I did it. I put in the mark almost an inch below the
right place, and picked out the first mark with a pair of scissors.
Then I swept up the hearth a little bit, and went out to the girls.

"They were so delighted with the lamb that they scarcely looked at me;
if they had, they must have seen something strange in my face.

"'Come, girls,' said I, speaking very fast, 'let's go right back and
knit; and, when it's four o'clock, we'll come back here and play Ring
Round Rosy, and every thing else.'

"They were willing enough to go back; and for half an hour our fingers
flew fast; but I took good care not to let any one see the mark in my
stocking.

"Just as the clock in the kitchen struck four, mother came in with
a pleasant smile for all the little girls; and they brought their
knitting-work along to her with blushing faces, for children in those
days were more bashful than they are now. Mother took the thirteen
pieces of knitting-work, and laid them down together. Little Polly
Lane had knit the least of any one, which was not strange, for she was
the youngest. Nancy Shaw came next; then Ellen Rice and Phebe Snow.
Persis Russell was the oldest, and known to be a very 'smart' girl.
Her stocking was seamed, and she had knit a longer piece than Mary
Jane Cullen;--another 'smart' girl;--but, strange to say, Flaxie, not
a single one had done as well as your little grandmother! Mother was
surprised: she had not supposed I could knit as fast as Persis Russell,
who was twelve years old; but here was my stocking right before her; it
was finer than Persis's, and the mark was half an inch lower down!

"'Well, I didn't expect this,' said mother; 'but I shall have to give
it up that Polly has beat. You may come here and see for yourselves!'

"The girls looked, and some of them could not help feeling
disappointed. I know Mary Jane Cullen had thought if anybody beat her
it would be Persis Russell; and Persis knew her fingers had moved
faster than mine; yet I had got ahead of them both!

"You may be sure I was very modest, and did not put on any airs. I
felt rather sober in spite of my victory. We played noisy games for an
hour, and then I said I must go in and set the table, for this was _my_
party. I didn't say I had done the cooking, but I was quite willing
they should think I had. When supper was ready I called the girls in,
and asked Persis Russell to sit at one end of the table while I sat at
the other and poured the tea. It was currant-leaf tea, and wouldn't
have kept a baby awake. Then Persis passed the bread, and asked if I
made it, and I had to say, 'no.'

"'And you didn't make the gingerbread, either, I suppose,' said she;
and I had to say 'no' again, 'I only stirred it.'

"Persis felt better when she heard that. I wasn't the smartest girl in
the town of Concord after all.

"'Who made the custards?' asked she.

"'Well, Sally made those,' said I; 'but I hunted up the eggs.'

"Then little Polly Lane said she could hunt eggs, if that was all.

"And Patty Stevens said, 'Yes, so could she; and her mother said _she_
might have a knitting-work party if she'd have it just the way Polly
did; and she was going to tell her how Polly didn't have to cook the
things.'

"'I hope Polly won't begin to knit till the rest of us get started,'
said Mary Jane Cullen; 'for I don't think it's fair.'

"O, I tell you, Flaxie, by that time I had begun to feel ashamed of
myself; and, at seven o'clock, when my party was all over, and the
girls had gone home, I felt more ashamed still. I sat down on the
meal-chest in the back room where Sally was churning, and watched the
dash as it moved up and down, and the cream oozed out around the little
hole in the cover. She asked me if I'd had a good time. She said she
thought the girls had all behaved very well.

"'Why, yes, we'd had a _pretty_ good time,' I said, rather faintly; and
I helped myself to the cream till Sally sent me off for fear I'd be
down sick.

"By that time I was feeling very wretched; I did not really know why.
Perhaps it was all knitting-work; and perhaps it was partly cream;--and
I began to think some of it might be molasses. I went to bed, but could
not go to sleep, and fell to crying all by myself in the dark. Mother
heard me, and came in to ask what was the matter.

"'I want to see my little sister Abby,' said I; 'that's what I'm crying
for.'

"'But you never saw your sister Abby,' said mother; 'she died before
you were born.'

"'I know it, mother,' sobbed I. 'I never saw her, and that's why I want
to see her now!'

"'Is that all you're crying about, Polly?' said mother. 'I'm afraid
something happened wrong at your party.'

"'O mamma, I'm ashamed to tell,' said I, covering my head with the
sheet. 'I guess I ate too much molasses--I--I--'

"'Well, daughter, and what else?' said mother.

"'I ate too much cream,--I--I--'

"Mother waited patiently.

"'I picked out the marking you put into my knitting-work, and I sewed
in another lower down,' cried I, desperately. 'O dear, O, dear, I did.
O mother, I knew you'd feel bad! Say, what shall I do?'

"Mother was so surprised and distressed that she did not speak for
nearly a minute, and then she said,--

"'It was a dreadful thing, Polly. Do you think you are truly sorry?'

"'O, yes, I guess you'd think so,' sobbed I, 'if you knew how I feel
right in here. It's a little speck of it molasses and cream, but most
of it's knitting-work; and I want to get right up and dress myself, and
go and tell the girls how I cheated.'

"'Are you willing to tell them?' asked mother.

"'Yes, I want to: 'twill choke me if I don't,' said I. 'Patty Stevens
is going to have a knitting-work party, and I can tell the girls there;
but seems 'sif I can't wait.'

"'If you feel like that,' said mother, 'I believe you are truly sorry.
And now let us tell our Heavenly Father about it, and I know he will
freely forgive you.'

"There," said Grandma Pressy, smoothing down her cap as she finished,
"that's the whole story; but it is a bitter thought to me that I was
ever such a naughty child."

"It's bitter to me, too," said Flaxie, making a wry face. "Won't you
give me an ollinge, now, to take the taste out?"



CHAPTER IV.

MAKING FLAXIE HAPPY.


"We _thought_, in the first place, my little sister had water on the
brain, her head was under water so long," explained Preston to the
boys; "but she has got over it now, only dreadful cross."

It was a hard time for everybody when Flaxie was cross. She tried to
sew, but her work acted "orfly;" the stitches were "cross-eyed," she
said.

"I hate my padge-work," cried she, angrily; "I hate it _dead_!"

"Then I wouldn't sew," said kind Ninny. "Come out to the shed, and I'll
swing you."

That was no better. After swinging a little while, Flaxie happened to
fall off a pile of boards, and ran into the house, crying out,--

"I swang and I swang; up real high, most up to the sky. Hurt me
_orfly_. Look at my stoggins and see'f I didn't."

"Perhaps you'd like to hear a story," said Mrs. Gray, taking the child
in her lap.

"Yes, tell me a story with a long end to it. Tell about Cindrilla."

Mrs. Gray began; and, when she got as far as this,--"Cinderella asked
her mother, and her mother said, 'No, Cinderella, you can't go to
the party,'" then Flaxie smiled. Somehow she liked to hear about
Cinderella's having a hard time: she thought she had a hard time
herself. But, when the story was half done, she wanted something else.

"You don't tell good stories, mamma. I wish you'd never been made!"

"O, how can you talk so to your good mother?" said Ninny, much shocked.
"You'd better tell a story yourself, and see if you can do better than
she does."

"Well, mamma," returned Flaxie, "do you want me to tell a story?"

"Yes."

"Does God know I'm going to tell it?"

"Yes."

"Does He know what it is?"

"Yes."

"Did He always know?"

"Yes."

"_Forever_ and always?"

"Yes."

"Well," said Flaxie, puckering up her lips, "I ain't a-goin' to tell
it; so _now_ what'll he fink?"

Mrs. Gray tried not to smile when Flaxie said such strange things about
God; but this time Ninny laughed aloud.

"Now, Ninny, you needn't laugh to me," said Flaxie. "I'm going to be
mad with you a whole week."

"What for?"

"'Cause you won't make Pep'mint Drop no boots, and _that's_ because."

"Seems to me you scold very hard at your sister," said Grandma Pressy.
"_I_ think she is a very good sister."

Ninny was standing by the sink at that very moment, washing Peppermint
Drop's stockings in a pint dipper; and Flaxie was beside her, cutting
soap.

"I know what I'll do," thought Ninny, wringing the suds from her hands.
"I'll see mamma alone, and ask her if she won't let Flaxie take my
place, and ride to New York this afternoon. Perhaps that will make her
feel better."

"And would you really like to have her go instead of you?" said Mrs.
Gray, looking at Ninny's upturned face, and thinking it was one of the
sweetest faces she had ever seen in her life.

"Yes'm, I should," said the little girl, earnestly. "I can't bear to
have her so cross; and you can't bear it, either, mamma. It almost
makes you cry."

"But will she be pleasant if she goes to ride?"

"I think so, mamma. You know she is generally pleasant when she has her
own way."

And, indeed, Flaxie's little snarled-up face smoothed in a moment when
she heard of the ride.

"I'll sit as still as a _possible_ mouse," said she, dancing about
her mamma. "I won't trouble papa one bit. Take off my _sicking_ dress,
Ninny, and put on my rosy-posy dress. Do it kick."

Was she sorry there was not room enough for Ninny,--good Ninny, who did
so much to make her happy? O, no: Flaxie herself was to have a fine
time; and that was all she thought about it.

"Let _me_ hold the reins, Dr. Papa," said she, as soon as she had
climbed into the carriage. "_I_ can make the hossy go like a tiger."

"You must sit between your mamma and me, Mary Gray, and keep still; or
I shall take you back to the house," said Dr. Papa, sternly.

"I _will_ keep still," replied Miss Frizzle, in alarm. "I'll keep as
still as a possible mouse!"

The ride was a very pleasant one. The bright dandelions were gone long
ago; but there were plenty of other flowers by the roadside, and the
birds in the trees sang gaily.

"See 'em fly 'way off up! O Dr. Papa, they touch the _ceiling_ of the
sky!" said the "possible mouse."

When they reached the city, she wanted to walk the streets by herself,
but consented to take her mother's hand. She loved the many-colored
windows and the loud noises; but she was happiest of all, when, at five
o'clock, her father and mother took her into an eating-saloon, and
called for a lunch.

She had never been in such a place before.

"I want some jelly and cake and pie and puddin' and _every thing_,"
said Flaxie, as her papa tapped the little bell.

"Dry toast for three; tea for two," said Dr. Gray to the waiter.

"But _I_ want some _nuts_," whispered Flaxie, ready to cry. She meant
doughnuts.

"Toast is all you can have," said Dr. Papa, with one of his stern looks.

But Flaxie was a bold child, as well as a bright one. She had seen
her father touch the bell and call a boy, and thought she would
do the same, and see what would happen. Out went her little hand,
_ting-a-ling_ went the silver bell, and up came the same boy.

"_Nuts for one girl!_" cried Flaxie, before her father had time to stop
her.

The waiter covered his face with his hand, and laughed; Mrs. Gray
smiled; and Dr. Gray tried to frown.

"Do let her have at least some jelly, Dr. Papa," pleaded the gentle
mother.

"Well, I see you want to spoil her! Yes, let her have some jelly," said
her father.

Ninny was sorry to see, the next day, that this ride to New York had
done Flaxie Frizzle no good. The fact was, she had caught cold, and was
sick again for nearly a week.

"My little sister has been having _conjunction_ of the lungs. I mean
she came pretty near it," said Preston to the boys. He always made the
most of it when any thing ailed Flaxie; for he was rather ashamed of
belonging to such a healthy family.

After this, the little girl was obliged to stay in the house; and of
course she made everybody unhappy.

"_Why_ can't I go ou' doors, mamma?"

"Because you have such a cold."

"Wish you never'd been _made_, mamma!"

"What a naughty, naughty girl," said Ninny.

"It's my _mamma's_ naughty! I'll have to tell her a story," said the
child. People told stories to Flaxie when _she_ was naughty; why
shouldn't she do the same thing to other people when _they_ were
naughty?

"Well," said she, folding her chubby hands, and looking as severe as
her father did sometimes,--"Well, once there was a little _good_ girl,
and her mother wanted her to stay in the house all the days; and she
staid in the house and didn't go ou' doors; and she _kep'_ a-stayin' in
the house. And you s'pose what _'came_ o' that little goorl? She staid
in the house, and staid in the house; and in two weeks she _di-ed_!"

Mrs. Gray turned away suddenly; for Flaxie was spreading her hands and
making a grieved lip, as if she pitied the "good goorl;" and it was
really too funny.

"See, dear," said Grandma Pressy, "here are some nice summer sweetings
in my work-bag. If you'll stay in the house pleasantly, all the
morning, you shall have one."

Apples were rare, for it was early in the season, and Flaxie looked
delighted.

"I'll stay _velly_ pleasantly," said she, and ran into the kitchen for
the chopping-tray, in order to chop up a few of the animals in her
Noah's ark and "make some lion hash for breakfast."

But, soon tiring of that, she came back to the sitting-room, and looked
wistfully out of the window.

"Gamma," said she, "_O_ gamma, mayn't I have a _wormy_ apple, and go
ou' doors?"

Grandma Pressy laughed, and said,--

"I think I know of something that will make you happy, little Mary. You
just go into the nursery and see what's there."

Flaxie went at once; and there, on the rug, sat Lena Vigue, fondling a
pretty Maltese kitten. Lena was the washerwoman's barefooted daughter;
and she had just brought the kitten in an old covered basket.

"O Lena, I didn't know you's here," said Miss Frizzle, dropping her
"lion hash" in a chair. "I'm glad you bringed your kitty."

"It's _your_ kitty now," sighed Lena. "I've got to leave it here."

"_My_ kitty?" cried Flaxie, clapping her hands.

"Yes; your mamma asked me to fetch it. She told me she'd give me te-en
cents if I'd fetch it," said Lena, who always spoke with a drawl.

Flaxie danced for joy.

"There, I knew you'd be happy now, Flaxie Frizzle," said Ninny, who
stood anxiously looking on.

"I hope the _kitty_'ll be happy," sighed Lena, who thought that was
far more important. "I hope you'll feed it well; it's used to it," she
added, a little proudly.

"O, yes, what do you feed it with?" asked Ninny.

"_Sour milk_," drawled the little French girl.

"I never heard of sour milk for a cat," said Ninny, when Lena had left;
"but perhaps this is a French cat."

"At any rate we'll try sweet milk first," said Mrs. Gray, smiling.

"See, she likes it, mamma," cried Flaxie, stroking the pretty creature.
"See her drink it out of her tongue."

Ninny and her mother looked at each other and smiled, as if to say,--

"How glad we both are to have Flaxie happy for a little while."

But it did not last long. Preston, who was always setting traps for
rats and mice and foxes, set a dreadful one in the shed, and caught the
kitty, which of course had to be killed. Preston was in great distress
about it.

"There, Frizzy-me-gig, _don't_ cry. John Piper is going to give me
something a great deal better than a kitten."

"What is it? O, what is it?"

"You'll see when I get it."

"Will it be my owny-dony?"

"No-o, not _yours_ exactly; but you may look at it and touch it."

Flaxie was a little comforted; for now she must try to guess what it
could be that was better than a kitten.



CHAPTER V.

BETTER THAN A KITTEN.


The next day, Preston and his grandfather rode away after old Slowboy.

"They might have let me gone, too, _I_ should fink," grumbled Flaxie.
"What they goin' to get in that basket? Tell me, Ninny."

"Something nice that you never saw before," replied Ninny.

When they came home that night, they brought two things that made Miss
Frizzle's eyes dance and sparkle like stars. Curled up together in a
soft heap were two beautiful rabbits,--one brown, the other snow-white.

John Piper, a man who had once lived at Mr. Abbott's, had given
these rabbits to Preston Gray and Bert Abbott, for their own. It was
very kind of him; but he made one mistake--he forgot to say which
of the boys should have the white rabbit. The brown one was "very
respectable," as Ninny said; but the other was lovely--as plump and
white as a snowball, with pink eyes that glowed like gems.

"Poh, who cares which is which?" said Bert.

"I'm sure _I_ don't," said Preston, as he hunted all over the stable
for an old rabbit cage Crawford had brought there last year. "If we
keep 'em together it's all the same."

The boys were well satisfied for awhile; but no more so than Flaxie.
After saying her "big prayer," she added,--

"O God, we thank Thee _specially_ for the _wabbits_; all but the cage;
we had that before."

Her cold was well by this time; and she was allowed to stay in the yard
as much as she chose, and watch the pretty pets. It was a funny sight
to see them nibble the vegetables their little masters brought them;
and Flaxie stood and threw kisses to make their dinner all the sweeter.

As the cage was Preston's, and kept in his mother's clothes-yard,
it followed that Preston saw more of the rabbits, and had more care
of them than Bert. But, alas, Flaxie had the care of them too! When
Preston was gone to school, she hovered around them, saying to
herself,--

"I mustn't lose these wabbits. It isn't _my_ wabbits. If I should lose
'em, I should be _'spised_; and, when I grow up a woman, then folks
will look to me and say, 'Flaxie, _where's_ those wabbits?'"

And, saying this, she let them out of the cage. A little while
afterward, a cruel dog leaped over the fence, worried the poor timid
things half to death, and, before Preston could get them back into the
cage, had bitten off the beautiful white rabbit's white tail.

It was too much! Preston was very angry, not with Flaxie, but with the
dog, and gave him a good beating; or it would have been a good beating
if it had only hit the dog! But, after the first blow, the naughty
beast ran around a corner; and that was the last seen of him, though it
was not the last said or thought of him, you may be sure.

Both the boys were grieved at sight of their white rabbit without any
tail, and Bert said,--

"Flaxie, what did you open the cage for?"

But she replied, with an injured air,--

"You ought to not _lemme_ open the cage,--such a little goorl as me."

And Bert laughed, but could not help remarking to Preston,--

"Sure enough, you're a smart boy to let that young one meddle round so
much."

Then Preston had to answer,--

"Well, I didn't s'pose she could turn the button, and you know I
didn't; and I wish you'd hush up."

Naturally, when Bert was told to "hush up," he only talked so much the
more; and we all know that talking only makes matters worse.

"If that dog had bit old Brownie, I wouldn't have cared," said Bert,
trying to be provoking; "but _my_ white rabbit! I say it's a shame!"

"_Your_ white rabbit? What you talking about?"

"Why, John Piper was _my_ father's hired man, sir; and you're only my
cousin."

"Well, what o' that, sir? Isn't this cage mine? And would he have given
the rabbits to us _without_ a cage? No, _sir_: if it hadn't been for
_me_ you wouldn't have had _half_ a rabbit, Bert Abbott!"

"Half a Bert Rabbit Abbott!" stuttered Flaxie, who never let any one be
cross to her brother, except herself.

Then the words flew like hailstones,--pell-mell, sharp and thick,
without mercy,--till the boys forgot that they had ever loved each
other.

The very next day Brownie got her foot caught in one of Preston's
fox-traps, and was lamed for life. Bert had scorned to call her his
own when she was a perfect rabbit; but now, out of spite, he hunted
up an old bird-cage, and went in great haste to claim her, before she
got "killed dead." He said he "didn't care a cent about the old brown
thing, but he wasn't going to have her abused."

"Good riddance!" cried Preston. "_I_ don't want to see her again."

"_We_ don't like yabbits, any but white ones," said Flaxie, keeping
back her tears with a mighty effort, for she dearly loved Brownie.

"O, yes, Preston Gray, you feel mighty smart because you've got the
white one," retorted Bert, in a rage; "but she won't do you much good,
now I tell you! You see if something or another don't happen to her,
that's all!"

Considering the bad luck that seemed to hang over Preston's
things,--from his living pets down to his kites and marbles,--it was
very likely something would happen to the white rabbit; and Mrs. Gray
told her husband she "trembled for Snowball."

[Illustration: BETTER THAN A KITTEN. Page 68.] [Blank Page]

Very soon after this Preston rushed into the house one morning in great
trouble, his lips quivering.

"Something ails Snowball," gasped he; "she's fainting away."

Fainting away! She was dying, and nobody could save her. All that
could be done was to watch her graceful form stiffen in death, while
everybody asked over and over, "What could have killed her?"

"She was poisoned," said Dr. Gray.

"O, O!" screamed Preston, beside himself with grief. "Then Bert did it!
Bert _must_ have done it; and I'll never forgive him as long as I live!"

"My son, my son! Never let me hear you speak in that way of your
cousin."

But Preston muttered to Ninny and Julia,--

"Why, you see, I _know_ he did it! He said something would happen to
Snowball; and he said it so spiteful!"

"Bertie Rabbit's a drefful wicked boy, an' his playfings shan't stay in
_my_ yard," scolded Flaxie Frizzle, kicking away, with her foot, Bert's
new green morocco ball that lay in the grass.

"Look there, will you! He dropped that ball when he brought the
poison," cried Preston, very much excited. "Give that ball here to me,
Flaxie".

Preston was sure now. He had made up his mind in a hurry, but he had
made it up; he _knew_ who had killed his rabbit.

Bert was not at school that day.

"I didn't _s'pose_ he'd dare to come," said Preston.

Then he took the ball out of his pocket, looked at it savagely, and
told the boys what Bertie had done.

Everybody was sorry, for Preston was a great favorite; but it is a
grave fact that a few of the boys were secretly glad of a quarrel
between two such good friends, and thought, "Now Preston will notice
the rest of us a little more perhaps." And the boys who had these
envious feelings did not try to stand up for Bert, you may be sure.
They said, "You ain't a bit to blame for getting mad, Preston. It's
pretty plain who killed your rabbit. Wonder how Bert Abbott'd like it
if you should give a sling at Old Brownie? 'Twould be no more'n fair!"

"That's so," said Preston, growing angrier and angrier, as they talked
over his wrongs, till it seemed to him he couldn't stand it another
minute without revenging himself on Bert.

"If he kills my rabbit, why shouldn't I kill his?" he argued with
himself, stealing round by Aunt Jane Abbott's on his way home from
school at noon.

Just before he reached her back gate, he picked up a smooth round stone
and aimed it at a knot in one of the boards, which he hit right in the
centre,--he was pretty sure to hit whatever he aimed at,--then he found
the stone again, and hid it in his pocket. It was about the right size
to throw at a rabbit's head.

Poor, unsuspecting Brownie! There she was, in the garden, munching
cabbage-leaves, when Preston crept toward her, looking this way and
that, to make sure nobody saw him. She heard the slight sound of his
boots, and sat up on her haunches, perfectly motionless, to listen.
Certainly he never could have had a better chance to aim at her than
then. Very slowly he put his hand in his pocket, and very slowly he was
drawing out the stone, when the loving little creature caught sight
of him, and leaped joyfully toward him in her pitiful, crippled way.
What boy, with a heart, would have harmed such a pet? Not Preston, I
hope you know! He dropped the stone, and ran home in such a hurry that
he was quite out of breath, when at the gate he met Flaxie, carrying
Snowball's drinking-dish by the tips of her fingers.

"Naughty old _fing_" said she; "I'm going to frow it down the
_scut-hole_!" (Flaxie meant scuttle.)

"Hold on, that's mine!" cried Preston, seizing the pan which he had
painted a brilliant green only a day or two before.

"No, no: I'm going to frow it down the scut-hole," persisted Flaxie.
"It killed the dear little rabbit: Dr. Papa said so."

Yes: it was the fresh paint that had poisoned Snowball. Dr. Gray had
said that at once when Flaxie had led him out to the cage to show him
the poor, stiff little body, and he saw the flakes of green soaked off
from the sides of the drinking-pan and floating on the water.

So really Preston was the murderer. Poor Preston! Didn't he hang his
head for shame? And, as for Bert, he hadn't been near Snowball for two
whole days; he had been on the sofa all that time with earache and
toothache.

"Does you feel orfly?" said little Flaxie. "You going to cry?"

"Yes, I feel orfly; but boys don't cry," replied Preston, trying to
whistle.

He tried to whistle again, when Bert, of his own accord, brought back
Brownie and said,--

"Come, Pres, let's go partner's again. Your cage is better than mine."

Preston choked up and could not speak; but, after this, he and Bert
were closer friends than ever.



CHAPTER VI.

THE STRANGE RIDE.


The next summer Flaxie had a baby brother named Philip Lally Gray.
Flaxie said he was "as good as any of the rest of the family, and lots
better."

She loved him dearly; and perhaps it was in loving him that she learned
to become unselfish. By the time he was a year old, he had pulled her
hair, and scratched her face, and given her a great deal of trouble;
but the more he tried her patience, the more her patience grew.

"Really, she is almost as sweet as Ninny," said Mrs. Gray to her
husband.

When Philip was thirteen months old, he had no teeth, and Flaxie
grieved about it. Her own were falling out, and she wished she could
give them to her baby brother.

"Never mind," said Dr. Papa. "If he never has any teeth of his own, I
will buy him some gold ones."

"O, that'll be so nice," cried Flaxie. "I never saw any gold teeth in
all my life."

That year, late in September, Flaxie Frizzle went with her mamma and
baby Phil to the city of Louisville, in Kentucky, to see Grandpa and
Grandma Curtis. Dr. Gray staid at home with Ninny and Preston.

"Poor papa couldn't come, 'cause he has to give folks their mederson,"
explained Miss Frizzle, before she had taken off her bonnet in
grandma's parlor.

"Too bad," laughed pretty Grandma Curtis, who was ever and ever so
much younger than Grandma Pressy, and didn't even wear a cap. "But we
are glad he could send his little daughter."

No wonder she was glad! Flaxie was all pink and white, with a mouth
made up for kisses, and eyes laughing like the sky after a shower. The
colored girl, Venus, had never seen her before; but she loved her in a
moment, for Flaxie threw both arms around her neck and kissed her, like
a butterfly alighting on a black velvet rose.

But that night Flaxie did not seem quite well, and the next morning she
was worse; she could not even hold the baby.

"They're so glad I've got the mumps," said she, two or three days
afterward, as she lay on the sofa, with hot, swelled cheeks and parched
lips that tried to smile.

The remark was made to Peppermint Drop, the doll of her bosom; but
black Venus took it to herself.

"And what makes 'em glad you're sick?" said she.

"'Cause my mamma wants me to have the mumps all done, Venus, and then
she can go to my _'nother_ grandma's next week. I've got lots of
grandmas. She's going to see this one next week, and take the baby."

"Yes," said Venus, dusting the chairs; "and prob'ly if you get well
she'll take you too."

"No, O, no: she don't think's best," replied Flaxie, dropping a hot
tear on Peppermint Drop's bosom, which would have melted it a little
if it had been made of sugar instead of bran. "Grandma Hyde lives in
the _other_ town, 'way off, down where the boats go; and mamma says
she _can't_ take but one childrens. She's drefful sorry; but she don't
think best."

And the little girl dried her eyes on her doll's bib-apron; for she
heard some one coming, and didn't want to be a baby.

It was mamma, with Phil in her arms, fresh from his morning
bath, bright, wide-awake, and ready for mischief. His hair was
golden,--darker even now than Flaxie's,--and his eyes were the richest
brown.

"Shall I let him _go_?" asked mamma, as if he were a wild creature, and
they generally kept him in chains.

"Yes, mamma, let him go."

And, when she dropped her hold of him, he rushed at his sister, and
"hugged her grizzly," as she called it, like the most affectionate of
little bears.

"Won't Grandma Hyde be _exprised_ to see him? She'll love you and thank
you dearly," said Flaxie.

"I'm a little ashamed of him," laughed Mrs. Gray. "You know he has only
one tooth."

"Well, he hasn't much teeth, and he can't talk; but he can stand on his
head _so_ cunnin'! Phil want to go in boat? Want see Gamma Hyde, and
hug her grizzly?"

Was this our cross Flaxie? Indeed, she _was_ almost as sweet as
Ninny--sometimes!

When the day came for going to Shawneetown, where Grandma Hyde lived,
Flaxie had got her mumps "all done," and was allowed to ride down in a
hack to the "Jennie Howell," and see mamma off.

Little Phil wore a white dress and a soft white cloak, with silk
acorns and leaves embroidered all over it; and a white cap with a white
cockade set on top of his gold rings of hair. He looked like a prince;
and his mother called him, "'Philip, my King.'"

The last thing Flaxie saw him do was to throw kisses at a hen-coop
which somebody was putting on board the boat. He thought there were
chickens in it, and I suppose there were.

Flaxie looked rather sober as she rode back in the hack with Grandma
Curtis. "He never went to _Shawtown_ before," said she; "and he isn't
much 'quainted with strangers. I spect I ought to gone with him."

"I spect he'll get along beautifully," replied Grandma Curtis, hugging
Flaxie; "but, if you are needed, your mamma can send a dispatch, you
know."

She little thought Mrs. Gray would really send a dispatch.

Mrs. Gray and the baby steamed slowly down the Ohio,--very slowly; for
the water was so low that in many places you could see the bottom of
the river. Once the boat stuck fast for an hour or two on a sand-bar.

"I am glad it is not a snag," thought Mrs. Gray; "that would make me
afraid."

A snag is a dead tree; and, when the river is low, it sometimes scrapes
the bottom of the boat, and makes holes in it.

After supper she undressed Philly and put him in his little berth; for
they were not likely to reach Shawneetown, at this rate, before morning.

"They are all longing to see us," thought Mrs. Gray, kissing her
sleeping baby. Mrs. Hyde was her own mother, and they had not met for
two years. "O, yes, Philly, your grandma has a nice supper ready, and
your Aunt Floy has been at the window all the afternoon. How slowly we
do go. Hush, Philly, don't cry,--

    'The owl and the pussy cat went to sea,
    In a beautiful pea-green boat.'"

Philly dropped off to sleep at last. His mother put him in the upper
berth, and lay down herself on the lower berth, without undressing. She
was quiet and happy, listening to the baby's breathing, and thinking of
the griddle-cakes and honey grandma would give her for breakfast, when
suddenly she was roused by frightful screams.

The boat was leaking! A great snag, which stood up in the river like a
horned beast, had seized it and torn holes in its sides. It was of no
use trying to stop the leak; the boat was sinking fast; all that could
be done was to get out the people.

The captain and his men worked terribly, taking them off into
life-boats; but there was such a hurry and such a fright that it was
not possible to save everybody. Some of the passengers went down. Among
them were some bewildered little children, who did not know what had
happened till they woke in heaven, and the angels told them the story.

Mrs. Gray was one of the people saved; but where was her precious baby?
The men said they did not know, he was nowhere to be seen, and even his
little bed had been washed away!

"Go without Philly? Go without my baby? I can't do it, I _can't_ do
it," cried the poor mother.

But two of the good men seized her and dragged her into the life-boat.
They _would_ save her in spite of herself.

Dear Mrs. Gray, who had thought so much of seeing her mother and
sister, and showing them her baby! She was taken in a carriage with
the other passengers to Shawneetown, just where she had all the time
intended to go; but, O, what a sad meeting! Her mother and her sister
Floy met her at the door, not knowing what had happened.

"My baby is lost, my baby is lost!" wailed she, and fainted away in
Aunt Kitty's arms.

A dispatch was sent to Grandma Curtis at Louisville, and another to Dr.
Gray at Rosewood, New York. The poor doctor was wakened in the middle
of the night to learn that his little boy was drowned!

Morning came at last; it always comes. The sun shone too; it is just
as likely to shine when people are sad as when they are happy. But
what a long day it was to that wretched mother! What a long day to her
husband, who started before sunrise to go to meet her!

In the evening, before Dr. Gray could possibly get there, a strange man
called at Grandma Hyde's and asked if Mrs. Gray was in the house?

"She is," replied Aunt Floy, whose eyes were red with weeping. "I hope
you haven't any more bad news for her! She can't bear any more!"

"I don't believe it's bad news," replied the man, with something that
was almost a smile. "Did Mrs. Gray lose a child on the wreck of the
'Jennie Howell' last night?"

"Yes, sir, a baby. Speak low."

"Well," said the man, dropping his voice to a whisper, "I am pilot of
the 'Jennie Howell,' ma'am. I went down to look at her this morning;
and what should I see but a mattress, ma'am, floating in the cabin,
most up to the ceiling, and a live baby on top of it!"

"A live baby? O, not a _live_ baby!"

"Yes, ma'am, sleeping as sweet as a lamb! My wife has got him now over
here to the hotel--a pretty little yellow-haired shaver, as--"

"O, it's Philly! where is he? Bring him this minute! I know it's
Philly!"

And so it was; for, my dears, this is a true story. It was Philip Gray;
and he had been saved almost by a miracle. Was the finding of Moses in
the bulrushes so strange a thing as this?

His mother was driven to the hotel, where the pilot's wife sat in the
public parlor with a baby in her lap.

"O, my boy!" cried Mrs. Gray.

And he rushed into her arms with a gleeful shout,--her own precious
"'Philip my King.'"



CHAPTER VII.

MAKING CALLS.


Not very long after this, Mrs. Gray, came back to Rosewood with Flaxie
and the dear rescued baby whom everybody was eager to see, for,--

          "They loved him more and more.
    Ah, never in their hearts before,
      Was love so lovely born."

And Ninny cried as she took him in her arms, and said,--

"He doesn't look as he used to, does he, papa? His eyes are _very_
different."

"You think that because we came so near losing him," replied Dr. Papa.

Baby Philip looked round upon them all with "those deep and tender
twilight eyes," which seemed to be full of sweet meanings; but I must
confess that he was thinking of nothing in the world just then but his
supper.

The travellers had not been home a week before Grandpa Pressy sent for
Ninny to go and make him and grandma a visit, and this left Flaxie
Frizzle rather lonesome; for Preston did not care to play with girls
when he could be with Bert Abbott. Besides, he and his cousin Bert were
uncommonly busy about this time, getting up a pin-show in Dr. Gray's
barn.

So Flaxie's mamma often let her run over to Aunt Jane Abbott's to see
Lucy and Rose. I have not told you before of these cousins, because
there have been so many other things to talk about that I have not had
time. Lucy was a black-eyed little gipsy, and Rose was a sweet little
creature, you could never see without wanting to kiss.

Just now Aunt Jane had a lively young niece from Albany spending the
fall with her, named Gussie Ricker. One day, when Flaxie Frizzle was at
Aunt Jane's, Gussie proposed that Flaxie and Lucy should make a call
upon a little girl who was visiting Mrs. Prim.

"O, yes," said Lucy, "we truly must call on Dovey Sparrow. She has
frizzly curls like Flaxie's, and she can play five tunes on the piano.
But, Gussie, how do you make calls?"

"O," replied Miss Gussie, with a twinkle in her eye, "all sorts of
ways. Sometimes we take our cards; but it isn't really necessary for
little girls to do that. Then we just touch the lady's hand,--this
way,--and talk about the weather; and, in three minutes or so, we go
away."

"I've seen calls a great many times," said Flaxie Frizzle,
thoughtfully. "I can make one if Lucy will go with me."

"I could make one better alone," said Lucy, in a very cutting tone. She
was two years older than Flaxie, and always remembered it.

"I'll go wiv you, Flaxie, if Lucy doesn't," put in little Rose, the
sweet wee sister; and then it was Flaxie's turn to be cutting, for as
it happened she was just two years older than Rose.

"Poh," said she; "_you_ can't do calls, a little speck of a thing
like you! You don't grow so much in a year as my thumb grows in five
minutes!"

Rose hid her blushing face in the rocking-chair.

"Do you truly think we'd better go, Gussie?" asked Lucy; for Gussie was
laughing, and Lucy did not like to be made fun of, though she did make
fun of Flaxie Frizzle.

"O, certainly," said Gussie, trying to look very sober; "don't I always
say what I mean?"

So, as they were going, Lucy took Flaxie one side that afternoon and
instructed her how to behave.

"Dovey came from Boston, and we never saw her only in church; so I
s'pose we _must_ carry cards."

"Where'll we get 'em?"

"O, my mamma has plenty, and so has Gussie. I know Gussie would be glad
to lend me her silver card-case that Uncle William gave her; she wants
me to be so polite! But I don't dare ask her, so I guess I'll borrow it
without asking."

"Hasn't somebody else got a gold one that _I_ could borrow?" asked Miss
Frizzle, looking rather unhappy as the pretty toy dropped into Lucy's
pocket.

"O, it's no matter about _you_; you don't need a card-case, for I shall
be with you to take care of you," returned Lucy, as they both stood in
Mrs. Abbott's guest-chamber before the tall looking-glass. "Do tell me,
Flaxie, does my hat look polite? I mean is it style enough?"

"It's as style as mine," replied Flaxie, gazing into the glass with
Lucy. How pretty she thought Lucy was, because her eyes were black and
her hair was dark and didn't "friz!"

"I wish I wasn't a 'tow-head,' and I wish I was as tall as you!" sighed
she.

"Well, _you_ don't care," said Lucy, graciously. "You'll grow. You're
just as good as I am if you only behave well. You mustn't run out your
tongue, Flaxie: it looks as if you were catching flies. And you mustn't
sneeze before people: it's very rude."

"I heard _you_ once, Lu Abbott, and it was in church too!"

"O, then 'twas an accident; you must scuse accidents. And now," added
Lucy, giving a final touch to her gloves, "I want you to notice how I
act, Flaxie Frizzle, and do just the same; for my mother has seen the
President and yours hasn't."

"Well, my mamma's seen an elephant," exclaimed Flaxie, with spirit;
"and she has two silk dresses and a smelling-bottle."

"Poh! my cousin Gussie's got a gold watch, and some nightly blue
sirreup. Uncle William gives her lots of things; but I shouldn't think
of telling o' that! Now, do you know what to do when anybody _induces_
you to strangers?"

"What you s'pose?" replied Flaxie, tartly. "I speak up and say 'Yes'm.'"

Lucy laughed, as if she were looking down, down from a great hight upon
her little cousin.

"And shake hands, too," added Flaxie, quickly, for fear she had made a
mistake.

"No, you give three fingers, _not_ your hand. Just as if you were
touching a toad. And you raise your eyebrows up,--_this_ way,--and
quirk your mouth,--so,--and nod your head.

"'How d'ye do, Miss Dovey Sparrow? It's a charr-rming day. Are they all
well at Boston?' You'll see how _I'll_ do it, Flaxie! Then I shall take
out my hang-verchief and shake it, so the sniff of the nightly blue
sirreup will _waft_ all round the room.--O, I've seen 'em!

"Then I shall wipe my nose--this way--and sit down. I've seen young
ladies do it a great many times."

"So've I," chimed in Flaxie Frizzle, admiring her cousin's fine
graces. Such tiptoeing and courtesying and waving of hands before the
looking-glass. How did Lucy manage it so well?

"And, if people have plants," continued Lucy, "then you say, '_How_
flagrant!' And, if people have children, you say, '_What_ darlings!'
and pat their hair, and ask, 'Do you go to school, my dear?'"

"They've said that to me ever so many times; and I've got real sick of
it," remarked Flaxie.

"And they keep calling every thing char-ar-ming and bee-you-oo-tiful!
with such tight gloves on, I know their fingers feel choked!"

"I spect we ought to go," said Flaxie, tired of all this instruction.
"I don't believe you know how to behave, Lu Abbott. You never made any
calls, more'n I did."

As they went through the hall, Flaxie thought she would "borrow" Aunt
Jane's lace veil; but Lucy did not observe this till they had started
off. They tripped along the roadside, past Mr. Potter's store, past
the church, their feet scarcely touching the grass. Lucy felt like a
princess royal till they reached Mrs. Prim's beautiful grounds, and
then her heart fluttered a little. She had a sudden longing to run home
and get Gussie to come back with them.

"Pull the bell," said she to Flaxie. Flaxie pulled so hard that her
veil flew off, and she had to chase it several rods.

"Put it in your pocket, you awful child," exclaimed Lucy, as Kitty
Maloney, the kitchen girl, opened the door in alarm, thinking something
dreadful had happened.

"Why, bless my soul, if 'tisn't Docther Gray's little snip of a Mary.
And who's this? Why, it's Miss Abbott's little gee-url. Anybody sick?"

Now was the time for Miss Frizzle's courage to come up. She stepped in
front of the frightened Lucy, and exclaimed, boldly,--

"I'm Flaxie Frizzle, you know, and this is my cousin. We want to see
Dovey Sparrow."

As Flaxie spoke, Lucy tremblingly drew out her card-case.

"Yes, she's in. She and Miss Prim has just come from ridin'. Will ye
walk in?" said Katy, _very_ respectfully.

"Please give her these," faltered Lucy, placing in Kitty's hands two
cards, one bearing the name, "Augusta L. Ricker," the other a few words
in pencil, which somebody must have written for a memorandum:--

    "Kerosene oil.
     Vanilla.
     Oatmeal soap."

Kitty stared at the cards, then at the exquisite Lucy, and suddenly put
her calico apron up to her face.

"Will ye wait till I give her the kee-ards, young ladies, or will ye
come in the parlor now?" said she, in a stifled voice.

Flaxie Frizzle concluded to walk in; and Lucy, who was now nothing but
Flaxie's shadow, followed her in silence.

Kitty Maloney disappeared; and, in about a minute, Dovey Sparrow
tripped in, blushing and looking as frightened as a wood-pigeon. The
roguish Kitty had just told her that her little visitors were very
ginteel folks, and she must talk to 'em as if she was reading it out of
a book.

Meantime Kitty was hiding in the back parlor, with her apron over her
mouth, forgetting her potato yeast in her curiosity to watch these fine
young ladies.

Flaxie rose and shook hands, but entirely forgot to speak. Lucy did the
same.

"H'm," said Flaxie, snapping the card-case, which she had taken from
Lucy.

"Yes'm," responded Dovey, trembling.

It was getting rather awkward.

Flaxie wiped her nose, and so did Miss Lucy. Then Flaxie folded her
arms; also Lucy.

Poor Miss Dovey tried to think of a speech grand enough to make to
these wise little people; but the poor thing could not remember any
thing but her geography lessons.

Flaxie Frizzle was also laboring in vain. The only thing that came into
_her_ head was a wild desire to sneeze.

At last, her eye chancing to rest on the crimson trimmings of Dovey's
dress, she was suddenly reminded of turkeys and their dislike of red
things. So she cried out in despair,--

"Do you keep a turkey at your house?"

O, strange question!

"Does your papa keep sheep?" chimed in Lucy.

"We don't keep a thing!" replied Dovey, in great surprise at these
remarkable speeches; "nor a dog either."

Then Flaxie Frizzle, growing bolder and bolder, came out brilliantly
with this:--

"You got any _trundlebeds_ to Boston?"

This was too much; the ice was beginning to crack.

"Why, Flaxie Frizzle!" said Lucy; and then she laughed.

"Look at that clock on the bracket! Why, what are you laughing at,
girls?"

"O, how funny!" cried Flaxie Frizzle, dancing out of her chair.

"Do stop making me shake so!" said Miss Dovey, dropping to the floor,
and rocking back and forth.

"O, ho," screamed Lucy, hopping across the rug, "you don't look like a
bird any more'n I do, Dovey Sparrow."

They were all set in a very high gale by this time.

"Be still," said Flaxie Frizzle, holding up both hands. "There, now, I
had a sneeze; but, O, dear, I can't sneeze it!"

"You're just like anybody, after all," tittered the sparrow. "Don't
you want to go out and jump on the hay?"

"Well, there," replied Miss Lucy, rolling her gloves into a ball, "you
never asked us to take our things off, you never!"

"I didn't want you to," said Dovey; "you scared me half to death!"

"Did we?" cried Lucy, in delight. "Well, I never was so 'fraid my own
self. You ought to heard my heart beat when we rang that bell."

"Me, too," said Flaxie Frizzle.

"But you're such a darling, though," pursued Lucy, kissing her new
friend warmly. "I'm _glad_ you don't know how to behave!"

"I'm glad you don't, either," said Dovey, tilting herself on a rocker
like a bird on a bough, "I thought you were going to be, _O_, so
polite, for you set Kitty all of a tremble. Come, let's go out and
play."

"So we will. Come along, Flaxie Frizzle."

"What! is that Flaxie Frizzle? O, I always did want to see Flaxie
Frizzle. Mrs. Prim has told me lots about her," said Dovey, as they
skipped out to the barn.

You may be sure Lucy lost the "borrowed" card-case in the hay; and,
when it was found, weeks afterward, it bore the marks of horse's teeth;
but Gussie said,--

"It is good enough for me; I ought not to have filled the children's
heads with such nonsense."

I am happy to state that Aunt Jane's veil,--a beautiful lace
one,--reached home safely, and that this was the last fashionable call
Lucy and Flaxie Frizzle ever made.



CHAPTER VIII.

TEASING MIDGE.


Sometime after this, Aunt Jane Abbott, who was sick with neuralgia,
went to New Jersey for her health. She took Bert and Lucy with her; but
little Rose came to stay with Flaxie Frizzle. Rose was her real name,
but sometimes they called her Midge, she was so small.

She was a sweet child; and, the first day she came, Miss Frizzle was
so glad to see her that she called for her new tea-set, which stood on
the high shelf in the closet, took her best wax doll out of its paper
wraps, and held a real jubilee in the nursery.

"O, Rosie," said she, dancing around her, "I wish you'd never, never go
home again, only just long enough to see your mother, and come right
back again to live in this house. 'Cause I haven't any little sister,
you know, 'cept Ninny, and she's big,--'most twelve years old."

"Well, my mamma's got the _algebra_; and I've come to stay a great,
long while," said Rosa, seating herself at the doll's table,--"all the
time mamma and Lucy are gone."

"What do you say your mamma's got?"

"_Algebra._"

"You mean _new-algery_," said Flaxie, smiling.

"Well, I guess it is," returned meek little Rose, passing a wee plate
to her cousin. "And now you say to me, 'Won't you have some tea,
lady?'"

[Illustration: "HOW IS YOUR CHILLENS, MRS. FRIZZLE?" Page 115.] [Blank
Page]

The dolls sat in their chairs and looked on, while the young hostess
turned the tea into the cups very gracefully. "Ahem," said she, trying
to look very grown-up, "does tea 'fect your nerves, Mrs. Rose?"

"Yes'm,--I don' know," replied Mrs. Rose, puckering her lips to fit the
tiny spoon.

"You goin' to _piece_ the meat, and give all as much as each?"

"No, Mrs. Rose: you may take your fork and put one slice of meat on
each doll's plate."

Rose obeyed; and then, as nothing else was said, she asked,--

"How _is_ your chillens, Mrs. Frizzle?"

"All are well that you see here at the table, ma'am; but the rest are
down with measles," returned the little lady of the teapot. "Will you
have some of the fruit, Mrs. Rose?"

"O, that isn't _fyuit_," said the small guest; "that's _blackb'ry
perserves_; but we'll make b'lieve it's fyuit. Yes'm: thank you, if you
please."

"Brackberries _are_ fruits," said the correct Mrs. Frizzle; "and
currants are fruits. You can tell 'em just as easy. When anything has
seeds to it, then it's a fruit; and, when it _hasn't_ seeds, it's a
vegetable."

"O, I thought peaches was fyuits; and peaches hasn't any seeds," said
Rose, faintly.

"Why, you little ignoramus! Of course peaches have stones! Who ever
said they had seeds!"

"I don't like to have you call me _niggeramus_," said Rose, with a
quivering lip. "My mamma never said so."

"Well, my sister Ninny says so; and she studies hist'ry. You don't know
what words mean, Rosie; you don't go to school!"

"No," said Rose, hanging her head, "I haven't never been to school,
'cause mamma says I'm not velly well."

"'Fore I'd be a cry-baby, Mrs. Midge," returned Flaxie, enjoying the
very humble look on her cousin's face. "You wouldn't dare go to school,
'cause there are cows in the road."

"I'm 'fraid of cows when they have their hooks on," said Rosie, still
hanging her head.

"I guess everybody knows that. Will you please pass the cream-pitcher?"

"It's velly funny _queam_" said dear little Rose, winking away her
tears.

"This isn't cream, ma'am; it's condensed milk."

"_Condemned_ milk?"

"No: I said _condensed_, not condemned. You look as if you never saw
any before."

"My papa hasn't got a condensed cow," said Rose, humbly.

"You goosie, goosie," laughed Flaxie. "My papa hasn't got a condensed
cow, either; nobody has. You _buy_ this kind of milk at the store. I'm
going right into the parlor to tell my mother what you said."

"Don't, O, don't," implored little Rose.

Flaxie knew her young cousin dreaded to be laughed at;--all children
dread it;--but, forgetting her manners, and the Golden Rule, too, she
sprang up from the table and ran to the door, little Rose creeping
after her, all the happiness gone out of her face.

Mrs. Prim was in the parlor, and it did seem as if she would never be
done laughing about that "condensed cow;" but Mrs. Gray only said,--

"Well, well; no wonder the darling didn't know."

Sweet, sensitive Rose stood in the doorway, looking down at her boots
and thinking how silly Mrs. Prim was, and how unkind her dear cousin
Flaxie.

"I used to love Flaxie," thought she, squeezing back a tear; "but now I
wish I could go wight home and stay there. Plaguing little girls like
me, when I comed to purpose to please her!"

"What are you crying about, you precious?" asked Dodo, as the child
wandered into the kitchen.

Gentle little Rose didn't like to tell.

"O, I know," said Dodo. "Flaxie has got into one of her teasing spells;
and, when she does, there's no peace for anybody."

Mrs. Gray did not talk in that way to Rose.

"Flaxie loves you dearly, if she _is_ rude. Don't mind all the little
things she says to you, darling. Try to be brave and laugh it off."

"I would laugh, auntie, only it makes my head ache to shake it the
leastest speck."

"Flaxie," said Mrs. Gray, taking her little daughter one side, "is this
the way you are going to treat your dear cousin? I cannot permit it."

"Well, I won't," replied Flaxie, quite ashamed of herself; "but she
cries so easy, mamma, as easy as a--a--beetle bug."

Next morning Rosa's head ached harder than ever, and Flaxie laughed and
danced all the time. Rosie did wish she wouldn't be so noisy.

"How sober you are, Midge Abbott. Don't you want me to tell you a
story?"

"Yes. Do, O, do."

What spirit of mischief seized Flaxie, just then, to want to frighten
Rose? She loved her dearly; but she enjoyed making her tremble, she
could do it so easily.

"Well, there _was_ an old _woo-ooman_, all _skin_ and _bo-one_," began
Flaxie, in a singsong tone.

It was a dreadful, dreadful story, which she had heard Tommy Winters, a
naughty boy, tell, and her mamma had forbidden her ever to repeat it;
but she forgot that. She only wanted to see if Rose would scream as
loud as she herself had screamed on hearing it.

Scream? Poor Rosie fairly shrieked.

"Stop! O, do stop," said Flaxie.

But Rose could not stop.

"There isn't any such woman," said Flaxie.

But Rose cried all the same.

"There never _was_ such a woman! Now won't you stop?"

"O, dear, dear, dear!" sobbed Rose.

"There never _will_ be such a woman, you darling. There, _now_ won't
you stop? I've told you so over and over, but still you keep crying,"
said Flaxie, in real dismay.

"What's the matter now?" asked Ninny, coming into the nursery, and
finding Rose curled up in a little heap of misery in the corner.

"I don't know what to do with her. I s'pose it's me that's to blame,"
said Flaxie, rather sulkily, though she was very sorry too. "I can't
say a single thing but she cries."

"Well, you must be kind to her; she isn't used to cross words. Her
sister Lucy is very different from you," said Ninny, taking Rose into
her arms, in a motherly way.

"You blame me, and everybody blames me," growled Flaxie; "but I can't
say an _eeny-teeny_ thing but she cries."

Flaxie kept telling herself Rose was a cry-baby; but in her heart she
knew it was her own rudeness which had wounded her sensitive little
cousin in the first place. She knew Rose was the sort of little girl
who never could "get over" any thing in a minute, and so ought not to
be teased.

"I'll make it up," thought Flaxie. "Maybe I _have_ been naughty; but
I'll make it up."

So, about supper-time, she came along to Rose, and very sweetly offered
to cut some paper dolls for her.

"Now 'twill be all right," thought Flaxie; but by that time even paper
dolls had lost their charm for Rose. There was a settled pain in the
little girl's forehead, and her cheeks kept flushing and flushing till
they were a deep crimson.

"Come, sit in auntie's lap," said Mrs. Gray, putting down the baby, and
a little startled by Rosie's quick breathing. "Come and tell auntie if
darling feels sick anywhere."

"I don't know," moaned little Rose; but she seemed very glad to lay her
hot face against her aunt's shoulder; and it was not two minutes before
she was fast asleep.

"I don't feel quite easy about her," said Mrs. Gray to her husband,
when he came home to supper.

Dr. Gray felt the child's pulse, and said,--

"Perhaps she has taken a sudden cold." He did not like to tell his wife
that he was afraid of scarlet fever. But before long she knew it for
herself: the symptoms were not to be mistaken.

It was thought at first that Flaxie and the baby, who had neither of
them had the fever, must be sent away. But the doctor said, "No, there
would be danger of their carrying the dreadful disease to others.

"It is better that they should stay at home," said he: "only Flaxie
must be very sure never to see her sick cousin or go into her room."

"Never see Rosie! Yes, that was what Dr. Papa said," sobbed Flaxie. "O
Dodo, did he mean _never_?"

How could Dodo tell? How could even poor, white-faced Aunt Jane tell,
who came at once to nurse her darling daughter. She had to wait like
all the rest.

Do you know how hard it is to wait? Do you know how long that week was
to Flaxie, with the dreary days coming and going, and still no change
for the better?

No: you do not know, unless you, too, have had a friend who was very
sick.

And the aching that was at Flaxie's heart, the yearning she felt to
throw her arms round her little cousin's neck and beg forgiveness!

Ah! you can not even guess at that unless you, too, have been unkind to
a dear friend who may possibly be going to die.



CHAPTER IX.

THE WEE WHITE ROSE.


No need now to caution Flaxie not to make a noise. She crept about
the house as still as a shadow, with an old, heartbroken look on her
childish face, pitiful to see.

And, far away in the east chamber, lay dear little Rose, flushed with
fever.

O, if you had only known what a darling it was that lay there!

From her sweet babyhood she had always been a sunbeam in her father's
house; and, after her father died, a year ago, it had really seemed as
if she thought she must try to comfort her poor mamma.

Aunt Jane, her mamma, was very delicate; and, when Dr. Gray came to see
her once, he said to little Rose,--

"You're mamma's little nurse. Don't forget to take good care of her."

And Rose did not forget. After that, she often said,--

"Unker Docker, I _do_ take care o' mamma."

If Mrs. Abbott dressed to go out, the little daughter would say,--

"Why, mamma, you must have your _yubbers_. I'll go get your yubbers and
warm 'em this minute."

_Lucy_ never thought of warming the rubbers, and she was a good girl
too.

When Mrs. Abbott stepped into the cold hall, Rose followed with a
little white lambswool shawl, begging her to put it over her shoulders.

She did not like to give her beautiful sick mother any trouble, so
she dressed and undressed herself, though scarcely five years old; and
every day, after dinner, went to her little room, lay down on the bed,
and took her nap without being told.

Mrs. Abbott had been in New Jersey only three days, when Dr. Gray
telegraphed to her that Rosie was ill, and she hurried home as fast as
she could.

The morning after she returned was little Rosie's birthday, and that
morning a present had come from her dear, good "Unker Willum,"--a
lovely muff and tippet, such as she had long been wishing to have.
Mamma brought them and laid them beside her on the bed.

"Wasn't it beautiful?" mamma said. "And see the squirrel's head on the
muff, and the cunning _porte-monnaie_ inside."

"Yes, pretty, pretty," said little Rosie; for her head was thumping so
hard that it did not please her very much, after all.

Once she had told dear "Unker Willum" that, if she had a lot of money,
she should be "perfickly happy."

"How much money would make you perfickly happy?" he asked.

"Three hundred and three thousand and thirty-six cents," said Rose;
and, every time he asked her, she gave the same answer.

So now there was a neat little note inside the muff, and it told Rosie
that, when next Christmas came, "Unker Willum would send her three
hundred and three thousand and thirty-six cents and make his darling
niece 'perfickly happy.'"

Rosie did not clap her hands or laugh at this letter as "Unker Willum"
had expected; she only smiled faintly, and by-and-bye began to cry
softly to herself. Mamma said,--

"Is it your head, darling?"

"Yes, mamma, my head aches; but that isn't what makes me cry. I was
s'posin' would you and Lucy and Bertie be very lonesome 'thout me, if I
should go way off up to heaven?"

"Don't talk so, my precious child," said Mrs. Abbott. "God doesn't want
you to die; He wants you to live to be mamma's dear little comfort."

"Does He?" asked Rosie, opening her sweet, blue eyes, and fixing them
on her mother's face. Then she moved her head from side to side on the
pillow, and said,--

"No, mamma, I think I'm going up to heaven velly soon."

Mrs. Abbott's heart throbbed with a quick pain at these words; and she
began to tell Rosie some stories to take up her mind; such as "Little
Bopeep has Lost her Sheep," and "Little Boy Blue, come, Blow your Horn!"

"Mamma," said Rosie, "I'd ravver hear that pretty story 'bout
Jesus--it's so much nicer. How he came down here, and put his hands on
the little chillens."

Then Mrs. Abbott sang, in a trembling voice,--

    "'I think, when I read that sweet story of old,
        When Jesus was here among men,
    How he called little children as lambs to his fold,--
      I should like to have been with them then.'"

"That's nice,--so nice," said little Rosie, smiling. "Now I'll go to
sleep, mamma."

Next day her little head was worse. Flaxie had begged Aunt Jane to take
her all her pretty playthings; but the sick child did not care for them
now. There were Flaxie's wee chairs and sofas and pictures to furnish
her baby-house, and dishes to set her baby-table. Rosie did not like
them now; but she knew she _had_ liked them when she was well.

"Mamma," said she, "shall I have playfings up in heaven?"

"Yes, dear: prettier ones than these."

"O, I am so glad. And, mamma, must I take my best dresses when I go
up?--my blue one with the pretty wuffles, you know, and my little pink
_beauty_ dress?"

"No, darling: God will give you nicer clothes than those to wear."

"Will he, mamma? O, that's very nice."

She lay quite still for a long time, and then called her mother to her
bedside.

"Mamma, you 'member that sweet story you sung to me 'bout Jesus?"

"Yes, dear."

"And is it all truly true, mamma?"

"Yes: quite true, my child."

"Well, that's all I want to know, mamma," said the blessed baby; and
then, with a happy smile, she pressed her cheek against the pillow, and
dropped off to sleep.

They were glad of that, for they thought the rest would do her good;
but, ah! she slept so long, so very long! A week went by, and still
she had not waked. Then she opened her eyes, and faintly said, "Mamma,
mamma."

Mamma bent over her, very happy to hear her sweet voice once more; and
the child placed one of her little arms about her dear mother's neck,
and so fell asleep again.

Dr. and Mrs. Gray watched beside her with sad mamma; for they knew now
that little Rose was going away from them.

She woke at last; and, O, how happy she was! for she found herself in
a beautiful world,--more beautiful than any thing she had ever dreamed
of,--and Some One was holding her in His arms. She was sure it was the
dear Jesus; and she nestled close to His breast, too happy to speak.
Her mother could not see this; but she _knew_ the Lord had taken little
Rosie; and, though her heart was very sad, she looked up through her
tears, and said,--

"It is well with the child."

But poor Flaxie! When they told her that little Rosie had gone away to
play with the angels, she sobbed, bitterly,--

"O mamma, mamma, if I hadn't teased her, _if_ I only hadn't! And now
God has taken her away; and I can't tell her I'm sorry!"

Ah, it was a sad, sad lesson to little Flaxie.

"I prayed as hard as I could, ever so long," wailed she. "God could
have made her well if He had thought best; and then what a hugging I
was going to give her! I wasn't _ever_ going to plague her again!"

Weeks after this, Mrs. Gray saw Flaxie one day standing at the front
door, with her hands clasped, looking straight upward into the sky.

"Dear God," she murmured, softly, "won't you please let me peek in a
minute and see Rosie? If you can't let me peek in, won't you please
tell Rosie I'm sorry?"



CHAPTER X.

PRESTON'S GOLD DOLLAR.


My eyes are so full of tears, as I think of dear little Rose that I am
going to talk now about something very different. I think I shall tell
you of one of Preston's mishaps.

I am afraid when you read it you will say to yourself, "Well, _he_
isn't much of a boy!" But please remember, he was hardly ten years old
when the affair happened; and boys are not as wise as Solomon until
they are _at least_ twelve or thirteen.

Preston was doing Aunt Jane's errands for her that week; he did them
one week and Bert the next.

"I wonder why Preston doesn't come," said Aunt Jane, stirring some
medicine with a spoon, and speaking to Grandpa Pressy, who had come
visiting again, and was sitting in the corner reading a newspaper.

Grandpa Pressy looked up with a pleasant smile, while the paper danced
as if it would fly out of his hands; for he had palsy.

"Hark, Jane, there's his whistle, and he isn't generally far behind it."

In another moment the door opened, and in walked Preston, a bright,
handsome boy, who did not look much like Flaxie, for he had dark eyes
and black hair.

"Why, Preston," said Aunt Jane, patting his small face, "you'll be late
to school. Here it is nine o'clock."

"Don't care if it's forty-nine. No school to-day."

"No school? O, it's Saturday; I forgot about that, and saved a turnover
for you to take to school."

"Well, I'd like it all the same," said Preston, looking laughingly
toward the cellar door. "Had breakfast a good while ago."

Aunt Jane smiled, which was a rare thing for her. She had been very sad
since Rose died.

"Very well, dear. Run to the store; and, when you come back, you shall
have the turnover and a piece of sage cheese with it. I don't know what
I should do without you, now Bertie's gone to New Jersey."

"A dear good boy he is," thought Aunt Jane, as the little fellow
disappeared with the gallon jug; and Grandpa Pressy, as if he had heard
her thought, answered,--

"Yes, Preston is a dear good boy, Jane. His mother worries for fear
he'll fall into bad company; but it's my opinion she is over-anxious.
Preston will come out all right."

"O, yes, we all think so," responded Aunt Jane. "And who ever heard of
such a child to do errands? He and Ninny are alike about that; they are
both a great deal better than Lucy. Really, I've a great mind to make
the boy a little present; now wouldn't you, grandpa? You know he does
all these things for nothing."

"O, you wait. I've got just what he'll like," said Grandpa Pressy,
putting his shaking hand into his pocket, and jerking out his leathern
wallet,--"just what he'll like, Jane."

After a long and trembling search, during which the pieces of paper
money rattled like dry leaves, out flew a little gold dollar, and
danced upon the floor.

"How that will please him!" said Aunt Jane. "I don't believe he ever
saw one."

"Yes, I think it will please him, my dear. He's uncommonly good to
his poor old grandpa; and I'm sure I don't grudge him a pretty little
keepsake like this."

So, when Preston returned with the molasses, and had eaten his turnover
and sage cheese, his eyes were feasted with a sight of the bit of gold.

"Why, grandpa, _all_ this for me?"

"Yes, my boy; and your mother'd better lay it away somewhere, and keep
it till you are older."

"Yes, I'll ask her to; for Flaxie or Phil will be sure to get hold of
it. But now I'm a-going to tie it up in the corner of my handkerchief,
and put it in my pocket."

"That's a good way," said Aunt Jane.

"Good-bye, auntie, good-bye, grandpa. When you want any more molasses
and things, I'm the boy to get 'em."

And off started Preston in gay spirits, sending a long, shrill whistle
before him, and running to catch up with it. His first thought was to
go home, and give the gold piece to his mother for safe keeping; but he
lived half a mile down town, and it did seem too bad to spare the time
from play.

"Hullo, Pres," called out a ringing voice, "what you smiling at down
there?"

Preston stopped whistling, and looked up to see where the voice came
from.

Tommy Winters was sitting on the bough of a horsechestnut-tree, eating
gingerbread. Now Tommy was a naughty, reckless fellow, and Preston had
been forbidden to play with him; but the sight of Tommy's face filled
him with a vague longing, not for gingerbread, but for mischief.

There really was a bad charm about Tommy--when he fixed his "glittering
eye" upon you, he made you think of all sorts of delightful things
you'd like to do, only they were apt to be naughty things. Did you ever
see a boy who had a bad charm?

"What you up to down there?" repeated Tommy, as Preston finished tying
up the gold piece, and put it in his pocket.

"O, I'm up to lots o' things," replied Preston, gaily. "Don't you wish
you knew what I've got in my handkerchief?"

Tommy didn't know of course; but he instantly _guessed_ there was money
in the handkerchief: he could see the hard knot, and he could see the
smile on Preston's face; and Tommy was not a fool by any means.

"If that's money, I guess I can coax it out of him some way or other.
Anyhow, I mean to get it, by hook or by crook," thought the bad boy.

But he pretended he didn't care two straws what was in the
handkerchief. "Come," said he, "put your old rags in your pocket, and
let's go swimming."

Now Preston had always longed to swim, chiefly, I suppose, because he
didn't know how. It was a remarkably warm day in October; but the water
was very cold: it was not proper for anybody to go into it; and both
the boys knew this.

Preston looked up at Tommy; and that bad charm began to work. He saw a
picture in his mind's eye of--

    "A quiet nook in the running brook,
      Where the school-boys went to swim."

So, instead of running away, as he ought to have done, he kept staring
up in the tree at Tommy, and said,--

"I can't go swimming; mother won't let me. But I should think you might
come down here and give us a piece of your gingerbread."

Tommy dropped nimbly from the tree, and alighted on his head.

"What's that you say about your mother!"

"She won't let me go swimming."

"Won't let you?--of course not. Never heard of a woman that would.
Women are always scared of the water."

"Father won't let me either."

"You don't say so. Here, take a bite of gingerbread."

Preston took a bite; but he saw Tommy was in earnest about swimming,
and he caught himself by the left ear, as if that would keep him from
going with him: yet, somehow, he felt as if he _should_ go, in spite of
his fears.

"Look here, Tommy."

"Well, I'm looking."

"Now, Tommy Winters."

"Yes, that's my name."

"You know that brook--"

"Yes, guess so. Prime place down there under the willer-tree."

"But, Tommy, that was where my sister Flaxie got 'most drowned."

"'Twas high water then; it's low water now. 'Twouldn't drown a
grass'per."

"But, Tommy,--"

"Well, Pres, what you 'fraid of?"

"Ain't afraid of any thing; but my mother says--"

"O, 'fraid o' your ma'am!"

"And my father says--"

"O, 'fraid o' your pa!"

"Well, they both say--"

"O, 'fraid o' both of 'em!"

"No; but you see, Tommy, they think--"

"I know what they think; they think you're a good-for-nothing
girl-baby;" and Tommy made up such a face that Preston couldn't help
laughing. It didn't hurt his feelings to have _Tommy_ call him names;
for he did it in the funniest, pleasantest way. O, Tommy _was_ a very
fascinating boy!

"Come along, you little tip-end of a top-o-my-thumb."

"Tell you _no_, Tommy."

Preston was pretty firm now.

"Give you Turkish bath, all for nothing, Pres."

"But I told you, Tommy--"

"No, you didn't; you haven't told me a thing. You stutter so I can't
understand a word."

At the idea of his stuttering, Preston laughed outright; and, during
that moment of weakness, was picked up and set astride Tommy's
shoulders.

"You set me down," cried Preston, struggling manfully, yet a little
glad, perhaps, to think he couldn't possibly help himself.

"Ride away, ride away, _Preston_ shall ride!" sang Tommy, the large,
strong fellow, bouncing his burden up and down.

Preston felt like a dry leaf in a whirlpool. You know how it swings
round and round; and, every time it swings, it gets nearer and nearer
that hungry hole in the middle, where there is no getting out again.

"I can't help it, I _can't_ help it," thought little Preston, as big
Tommy jolted him up and down like a bag of meal on horseback.

Well, it is good fun for little boys to go in swimming, I do
suppose,--if their parents are willing, if they have somebody to hold
them up, and if the water isn't too cold.

At first, Preston almost thought he was having good fun; but very soon
it was any thing but that;--why, it was just frightful! for Tommy had
actually gone off and left him, and snapped his fingers in his face.
Preston couldn't swim any more than a fish-hook. What would become of
him? Where _was_ Tommy?

Tommy was on the bank, pretending to skip stones; but that was not what
he had gone there for, I assure you. He had gone to look in Preston's
pocket, and see what was tied up in the corner of his handkerchief.

"Why don't you come, Tommy? Tom-_mee_! I'm drow--drow--drowning!"

"O, you hush up! I'll come in a minute."

"Come now--ow--ow! Flaxie got drow--ow--owned!"

Tommy came when he got ready. And, as he swam back to Preston, there
was something under his tongue, which was a very sweet morsel to him,
and about the size of a gold dollar.

"You _said_ 'twouldn't drown a grasshopper; but 'twould drown a
man--with his hat on," gurgled little Preston, indignantly.

Tommy tickled him under the arms, but didn't seem to feel much like
talking.

"There," said he, when they had come out of the water, "now I'm going
to dress you and send you home to your mother."

"Dress _me_? Poh, guess I can dress myself!"

"Well, you better hurry then," said Tommy. "What makes you so slow?
Your mother'll go into spasms."

"My mother? Why, she don't know I've been swimming!"

"O, I forgot; well, run home!"

"Don't want to," said Preston, squeezing his hair; "want to play ball.
Come on!"

"Can't," said Tom; "have to get some coal."

"Do they make you work Saturdays?"

"Yes, all day, like a dog," muttered Tom, taking to his heels.

Everybody knew that Tom never worked, so this was absurd. Preston ran
after him, and caught him by the sleeve.

"Come, let's play ball!"

Tom shook him off as if he had been a cobweb.

"Can't play to-day. Got an awful sore throat, and earache and
toothache."

And away he ran. Preston was left staring after him, and wondering why
he hadn't spoken of his sufferings before.

"He's queer, Tommy is. Don't see what he wanted to go swimming for if
he's sick. Thought I should 'a' froze!"

A guilty feeling was upon Preston, which made him shiver more than the
cold.

"Wish my hair wasn't so thick. Can't go home till it dries."

He played about with some boys for an hour or two, then went home. The
family were all seated at dinner, and Flaxie would not eat till he came.

"I've got something you'll want to see, Flaxie. Come out here and show
yourself, sir." This to his handkerchief, which he whipped out of his
pocket.

"What is it? I don't see any thing," said Flaxie.

"Why, where in the world? Why, what's this?" cried Preston, in dismay.

There was nothing in the end of the handkerchief, and the knot was
untied.

"I tied it up in three knots, I know I did; and now where is it?"

"Where is what?" asked his mother.

"Why, my little gold dollar. Grandpa gave it to me this morning. You
never _saw_ any thing so cunning!"

"Are you sure you tied it hard?"

"Why, yes, indeed! I tied it so hard I had to hop up and down to get my
breath! Three knots too!"

Dr. Gray looked up, and asked,--

"You haven't been with any bad boys, my son?"

Preston had forgotten the swimming, for the moment, and said,--

"O, no, sir; Eddie Potter and Jack Snow and those."

"They say Tommy Winters will steal; but of course you haven't been near
_him_?"

Preston dropped his knife and fork suddenly, and blushed. His mother
saw it; but his father did not, for he was hurrying out of the house to
visit a patient.

All that afternoon poor Preston was in trouble. He told the boys about
it, but nobody could help him; and, as for Tommy Winters, he was
nowhere to be seen.

Finally, after tea, he stole up to his best friend, his mother, and
exclaimed, shaking his fist,--

"Tommy Winters has got my gold dollar, mamma. Tell you what, he stole
it out of my pocket when I was swimming."

"Swimming, Preston?"

"Yes'm: you see he made me go."

"_Made_ you, my son?"

Preston hung his head.

"Well, he marched me down to the brook, he did."

"He didn't throw you in?"

"Not ed-zackly."

"Then you went in yourself?"

"Yes, mamma; but, O, I won't do so again."

Mrs. Gray looked very sober. She was not thinking of the gold dollar,
but of her son's disobedience.

"I'm sure he stole it, mamma; and now he has run off, and nobody can
find him."

"Very likely," said Mrs. Gray.

"O mamma, won't you make him give back my gold dollar?"

"Do you deserve it, my son?"

"Well, but grandpa gave it to me."

"I'll talk with your father about it."

"O, don't talk with father: he'll think just what _you_ think," cried
Preston, in alarm.

His mother did not answer; and he ran out to the stable, threw himself
into a bed of hay, and tried his best to hate her.

"She'll tell him I disobeyed, and he'll say, 'Good enough for him,
then!'"

Dr. Gray did say exactly these words; still, he tried to make Tommy
confess and give up the stolen gold. Do you suppose Tommy confessed?

O, no: he looked the doctor right in the eye, and said,--

"What _is_ a gold dollar? I never heard of such a thing in my life!"

Preston never set eyes on his treasure again; but I suppose it has
done him more good, after all, than a hundred gold dollars at compound
interest for a hundred years.

You know why. It made him remember to keep out of bad company.



CHAPTER XI.

PRESTON KEEPING HOUSE.


Now I should not have told this bad story about Preston if I had not
had a better one to tell after it, "to take the taste out," as Flaxie
said about the orange.

Grandpa Pressy went home a little while after this, and took Ninny with
him, because he was not very well, and wanted her to amuse him; but
nobody felt alarmed about him, till, one day at noon, a message came
for Dr. and Mrs. Gray, that he was very ill.

As it happened, Dora Whalen had gone away that morning in the cars to
spend the day in Jersey City; and there was no one to take charge of
the house.

"Just as if _I_ couldn't do it," said Preston.

"Now, my son, do you really think you can be trusted?" said Mrs. Gray.
"Will you watch Flaxie carefully, and keep her out of mischief? I don't
want to take her to Aunt Jane's; for, if I take the baby there, that
will be quite enough."

"Poh, yes'm: guess I'm ten years old!"

"Dora won't be back till the last train. Are you sure you won't be
afraid to be left all alone in the house after dark, you two little
folks?"

"Yes'm, certain sure. What are you smiling for, mother? To think you've
got a boy that's smart enough to keep house?"

"Well, yes, it does make me happy to see my son so ready to please his
father and mother."

Then she hesitated a moment, turned to her husband, and said,--

"If we only knew just _how_ sick grandpa is, perhaps we could wait till
to-morrow."

"They would not have telegraphed if they had not needed us," said Dr.
Gray, decidedly.

"Yes, yes, I suppose you are right," said Mrs. Gray, looking
thoughtful, as she put on her bonnet before the glass. "There, baby and
I are ready. Have you charged Preston about locking up the house?"

"Yes; and Preston, my son, you must spend the evening in the kitchen:
it won't do to have a fire in the sitting-room till Dora comes. And
don't put a stick of wood in the stove after seven o'clock. Can you
remember?"

"Yes, sir."

"You'd better both go to bed by eight," said Mrs. Gray. "Dora has a
night-key, and can let herself in."

"O mother, mayn't I sit up till nine? I want to copy off my
_compersition_."

"Well, yes, if Flaxie is willing, and it isn't too cold in the kitchen.
But don't forget to tuck her into her little crib by eight. I've moved
it close to my bed, where you are to sleep."

"And is Preston goin' to sleep in the downstairs room? O, goody!" cried
Flaxie, crushing her mother's bonnet with a parting hug.

"Yes, darling; and you'll find your supper of baked apples and milk on
the table, covered with a napkin, and something nice beside, I won't
say what."

"I know--_squinch-perserve_," said Flaxie.

"Good-bye till to-morrow, my precious children. Don't give Dodo any
trouble; and, Preston, don't forget what father said about the fires."

It wasn't likely Preston would forget. He was one of those
slow-brained, faithful little fellows, who can't learn a
spelling-lesson, but who are pretty much at home with every thing
except books.

"He was always so different from Flaxie. We shall never be able to
leave Flaxie in charge of any thing; you might as well set a squirrel
to watch a weasel," said Dr. Gray.

"I know it," replied his wife; "but I never saw a child six years old
that _could_ take charge of any thing, did you?"

Flaxie began to call for her supper the moment her father and mother
and little Phil were out of sight.

"'Cause there's queam-cakes, too, I saw 'em. And then I guess I'd
better go see Lucy; she's spectin' me."

"No, _ma'am_, Flaxie Frizzle," said Preston, firmly. "You're not going
further than the weeping-willow this day; and I shan't let you do that
if you don't behave."

The new tone of command rather awed little Miss Frizzle; and, to
Preston's surprise, she began to cry.

"I want to go to heaven," said she, throwing the kitten angrily across
the room. "I've got tired o' waitin' to go to heaven."

Preston could not help laughing; for Flaxie looked very, very little
like an angel.

"God won't let me peek in, and he won't take me up there," went on the
child, sulkily. "You needn't laugh, Preston; you don't know what I want
to do. I've got sumpin' for Rosa, and I want to carry it to her."

"Why, Rosa is dead."

"No; she's in heaven. Here's sumpin' I want her to have," said Flaxie,
opening a little box, and displaying a China lamb. "I _'tended_ it for
her, and I'm _'termined_ she shall have it."

Flaxie was crying still, but her anger was gone; she was crying for
dear little Rosa.

"Won't you let me go and carry the lamb to Rosa?"

"Why, where do you want to go?"

"O, I want to go and put it side o' the flowers," replied Flaxie.

"Well, I'll go with you; only you act very queer, Flaxie."

He gave his little sister his hand; and she led him along Elm Street
and up the hill to the cemetery.

"O, is that what you mean?" said he.

"Yes," replied Flaxie, kneeling and placing the white lamb on Rosa's
grave, along with the myrtles and evergreens that had just been
planted there. "That's for _you_, Rosa! I 'tended it for you, when
you's sick, and I'm 'termined you shall have it."

"How will she get it up in heaven?" asked Preston, in a whisper.

"I don' know. God will see 'bout it. Isn't it a _beau_-ful little lamb?"

"O, yes."

"Well, I was cross to Rosa; and now I've made it all up," said Flaxie,
skipping out of the burying-ground with a very light heart, while her
brother followed her in silence.

Next minute she was laughing.

"O, I want to see your new steam-_nengine_, Preston! May I, if I won't
do any thing naughty?"

"Yes."

"And will you gi' me lots o' _cardinnum_ seeds?"

"Yes."

"Then I'll be _just_ as good," said Miss Flaxie.

At precisely seven o'clock, Preston put a large stick of wood in the
kitchen stove; and, as little sister had been very obedient, he lighted
the alcohol lamp in his steam-engine, and set the pretty machine
puffing across the floor like a thing alive. Miss Frizzle, having eaten
two suppers, was in a very quiet mood, and threw herself on her knees
beside Preston, with her chin upon his shoulder, to watch the wonderful
plaything.

"I'll tell you what it is, Flaxie," said Preston, with an air of wisdom
that was not lost upon his listener; "I know how this engine is put
together as well as father does; and I'll bet you I could make one, if
I only had the tools, and knew how to use em!"

"S'pose you could, honest?"

"Yes, to be sure. There, Flaxie, the clock is striking eight. Now
you'll have to go to bed."

Flaxie's forehead began to pucker, and her elbows to jerk.

"Then you must go, too, Pres Gray."

"O, but I want to fix up my compersition, so I can play Saturday. Come,
now, if you'll go to bed first, I'll give you all my fire-crackers."

Miss Frizzle's brows smoothed.

"And the pin-wheels too? Fire-crackers isn't much."

"Ye-es; and the pin-wheels too. I'll fire 'em for you. Only you'll have
to go to bed as quick as scat, or I'll take it all back."

Flaxie went; but, as for lying still, that wasn't in the bargain.
"Water! water!" called she, when snugly tucked in. "Please bring me
some water, Preston, or I shall dry to death."

Preston had seated himself at his work, and copied off in staring
letters about three lines:--

     "APPLES."

"Apples is the most frout always yoused. Apples is said to grow in
almost any country."

His arm ached already.

"There," said he, carrying Flaxie a mug of water. "And you just lie
still, little sister. If you speak again, it will cost you a pin-wheel."

Then he went on, with great labor.

"In some climates it is so warm it is said they have been discovered by
the crab-apples; they was some men got the seed from the crab-apple,
and planted it."

"Pres-tun!" cried Flaxie again. "You may take _one_ pin-wheel. I've got
to speak, 'cause it _unsleeps_ me not to have you come to bed. Just
_one_ pin-wheel. So, there!"

"Yes, yes," said Preston; "I'll be there in just sixteen minutes, if
you don't speak again."

"Some takes the apples, and makes cider of them. Old cider is yoused
for vinegar.

     "PRESTON S. GRAY."

This ended the "compersition;" but, in Preston's haste to keep his word
and get to bed in just sixteen minutes, he made a mistake, and wrote on
the back of it, "Potatoes."

He smiled to see Flaxie sound asleep already, then knelt down, and
prayed, "Now I lay me," with a very solemn feeling. The house seemed
strangely quiet. Where could Dodo be? Preston had heard the last train
rush by a half-hour before.

"I think God _will_ be sure to take care of me to-night, so I can take
care of Flaxie," thought he, creeping into bed. "He must know father
and mother have gone off, and Flaxie isn't much more'n a baby." And,
with that, he fell asleep, holding little sister by the hand.

About midnight, he was wakened by the smell of smoke. If he had not
been downstairs, and if he had not felt, even in sleep, the care of the
house, I dare say he would not have waked. "What's this? Why, what is
it?" thought he, raising himself on his elbow, and sniffing.

The bedroom opened out of the sitting-room, and the kitchen was just
beyond. That was where the smoke must come from; for it was the only
room that had a fire in it.

Preston rose softly, and went into the kitchen. It was on fire!

Probably some coals had fallen out of the stove door when the last
stick was put in, and had been smouldering on the floor ever since. Now
the floor, the sink, the drop-table, and the sitting-room door were in
flames.

What should be done?

Preston reflected. He could not write a very deep "compersition;" but
he was just the boy to have his wits about him when they were needed.

"The first thing is to get Flaxie out of the house," thought he. "The
flames are spreading to the bedroom."

In a twinkling he had her in his arms, rolled her in a shawl, and set
her on the front door-stone.

"Don't cry, Ducky Dilver," said he, locking her out. "I'll come after
you if you'll be good."

Then, leaving the sleepy child sobbing in utter bewilderment, Preston
rushed back, and dipped water from the barrel to put out the flames.

It was a hard fight for a small boy. He could not help wondering at
himself to feel how strong he was. Pailful after pailful he dashed on;
and, when the barrel gave out, he turned to the pump in the sink. Ah,
but the sink door was ablaze! As fast as the fire was quenched in one
place, it broke out in another; but Preston mastered it after awhile.

"O, if it hadn't been for my nose," thought the brave little boy,
wading across the floor; "if it _hadn't_ been for my nose! Wonder if
the fire has struck through to the cellar?"

It had not; but there seemed to be a smoky smell down there; and our
hero went down boldly, and dashed water upon the ceiling, never
minding that it ran back and wet him all over.

Quite satisfied at last that all was right, he went to the front door,
and let in tearful little Flaxie.

"What'd you put me out for? Say, what'd you put me out for?"

"So I could put out the fire, you little, good-for-nothing baby,"
replied Preston, kissing her tenderly. "What if you'd burnt up, and I'd
burnt up, too, Flaxie? I guess 'twould have been the last time mother'd
have left _us_ to keep house!"

And, when Dodo got home next morning, she found them fast asleep with
the sun full in their eyes. "To think I should have missed the train
last night for the first time in all my life," sobbed the faithful
creature, on hearing the story. "If any harm had come to you children,
I never could have forgiven myself."



CHAPTER XII.

MRS. PRIM'S STRAWBERRIES.


The next summer after this, when Flaxie was "going on seven years old,"
she and sister Ninny and Lucy Abbott made a bargain with Mrs. Prim to
pick strawberries for her at three cents a box. They were glad to do
it, for they were saving money to buy a pretty white vase for Rosa's
grave; and they wanted to earn it all themselves. Flaxie thought she
helped as much as anybody; but, the truth was, she spent half the time
talking and picking the dirt out of her shoes.

Now, though Mrs. Prim lived in a beautiful large house, and had the
finest grounds in town, the children did not like her very well: they
considered her cross.

And, just here I must tell you what a time they had with her one day
about the strawberries. It was a very warm morning; and they were all
three stooping over the vines in the garden, with a great yellow basket
before them.

"What a blazing hot sun," groaned Lucy, from the depths of her speckled
shaker.

"O, dear, yes," responded Ninny; "and only three cents a box for
picking!"

"I feel the sun on the end o' my nose," said Flaxie.

Just then a man went by, chanting musically,--

"'The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down
in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.'"

"How nice and cool that sounds," said Ninny, wiping her forehead.

"_Who_ lied down in the pasture, Ninny?"

"David."

"Was David a cow?"

"O, what a silly child," cried Lucy.

"I wasn't talking to _you_, I was talking to Ninny," said Flaxie.

"Well, Flaxie, but you made fun of the Holy Bible!" exclaimed Lucy,
shaking her head.

"I didn't either!"

"I don't believe you know what 'holy' means," persisted Lucy.

"Yes, I do; it means the whole of it. They call it the wholly Bible,
because it's the _whole_ of the Bible."

"Did you ever, ever see such a goosie?" laughed Lucy, provokingly.

"Now hush, children; it's too hot for you to be scolding," said Ninny.

"Yes: O, dear, it's the hottest day I ever saw. I should think the sun
would melt and drop right down out of the sky," said Lucy. "And there's
Mrs. Prim, _she_ don't care: she's in her nice, cool parlor, with the
blinds all shut."

"Eating i-scream, I s'pose," put in Flaxie.

"Yes," said Lucy; "and gets fifty cents a box for these strawberries,
and wouldn't give us more'n three cents if we should faint to pieces
out here and be picked up dead."

"What awful scolds you children are," said Ninny, who kept up her
spirits by laughing at them.

"Well, she did have some i-scream last night," said little Flaxie;
"for I saw her through the door. Why didn't she say, 'Come in, dear,
and _you_ may have some?' _My_ mamma would. My mamma's a great deal
better'n Mrs. Prim."

"O, well, lots of folks are better than Mrs. Prim," said Ninny, growing
earnest. "Now, there's Mrs. Stillman; if she didn't live so far off we
could pick for _her_. Why once she gave Eva Snow all she got on three
boxes, and told her to keep it, for it was hard work to pick in such a
broiling sun. Eva took the money, and bought her mother a great piece
of salmon."

"O, my," cried Lucy; "why don't we take some of the money Mr. Potter
pays us, and not give it to Mrs. Prim? I'd like to buy _my_ mamma a
great big piece of--something."

Thus spoke the rattle-brained child, with a heedless jerk of her elbow,
which almost upset the basket.

"Why, Lucy Abbott!" whispered Ninny; "was that you stepping just behind
me?"

"Behind you? No: why, I'm right here."

"But I heard somebody," said Ninny, pushing back her shaker and looking
around nervously.

Yes; and there, not far off, was Mrs. Prim, walking beside a row of
currant-bushes. Could she be the one whose steps Ninny had just heard
on the gravel path close by her side?

"Lucy," she whispered again, as the lady's figure disappeared behind a
syringa-tree. "Lucy Abbott, she was right here a minute ago; and she
must have heard what you said."

"Did she? What'd I say?"

"Don't you know, child, you asked me why I didn't steal some money?
That's _just_ what you said!"

Lucy only laughed, and little Flaxie pulled a pebble out of her shoe.
Lucy and Flaxie were thoughtless children; they never took things to
heart as Ninny did; and, as for that little speech, what if Mrs. Prim
_had_ heard it, wouldn't she know Lucy was in fun?

But, when they went into the house, Lucy remembered what she had said;
and her face was crimson. Somehow she could not raise her eyes for
shame.

"Move your chairs up to the drop-table," said Mrs. Prim, "and help me
take off the hulls."

That was what she always said; but Ninny fancied that her voice was
sharper than usual. They all three hulled in silence (Flaxie was not
allowed near the table); and then Mrs. Prim herself took the berries
off the large white platters and arranged them in the boxes: she never
let the children do that; and Ninny always observed that she was very
sure to put the largest berries on top.

"They are unusually nice to-day," said Mrs. Prim, as she placed the
boxes carefully in a market-basket, and gave the basket to the little
girls; "and you may tell Mr. Potter that I expect half a dollar a box
for them, and am not willing to take a cent less."

"Yes'm," murmured Flaxie, as Lucy and Ninny trudged off down the dusty
street, with the basket between them.

Mr. Potter was in a very pleasant mood, called them nice little girls,
gave them all three some candy, and said he was perfectly willing to
pay fifty cents for such strawberries as theirs. He took the eight
boxes out of the market-basket, and, in their places, put back eight
empty ones; then gave Ninny a two-dollar bill for Mrs. Prim.

When they returned to Mrs. Prim's, there was no one at home but Kitty
Maloney.

"The money is in one of those boxes, Kitty," said Ninny.

But Kitty did not hear; for she was just opening the oven door to look
at the Sunderland pudding.

The children loitered along toward home. The sun was cooling his face
behind a cloud, and there was really some comfort now in walking. Ninny
forgot Lucy's unlucky speech in the garden, and only thought how glad
she should be for some dinner.

In the afternoon, the sun came out of the cloud, and finished ripening
some more strawberries; and, next morning, Ninny, Lucy, and Flaxie
were again in the beautiful garden, picking into the same yellow
basket. Afterward, they sat with Mrs. Prim beside the drop-table, and
helped hull the berries as usual.

"Wait a moment," said the sharp-voiced lady, as they were about to
start off with the market-basket and the eight nice boxes. "Wait a
moment. Where is the money Mr. Potter sent me yesterday?"

"Kate took it, ma'am," said Ninny; "it was in one of the boxes."

"No, mum, I niver," spoke up Kitty, turning round with a plate of fish
in her hand. "Nothing was niver said to _me_ about money, mum. I jist
takes the boxes out of the basket, and sets 'em in a row on the pantry
shelf, as ye bids me; but it's the first that iver I heerd about money."

"What does this mean?" said Mrs. Prim, turning round, and giving Lucy
a severe look. "Are you sure Mr. Potter paid you yesterday?"

"O, yes, ma'am: as sure as can be."

And Flaxie struck in with her favorite ditty,--

"O, yes'm: serious, truly, black and bluely; for _I_ saw him do it."

"Kate, you may go up to the store, and find out what this means,"
said Mrs. Prim, without paying the least attention to Flaxie. She had
perfect faith in Kitty; and well she might; for the girl had lived with
her fifteen years, and never told her a lie. But what had become of the
money? It was certainly a pretty serious question.

Kitty went to the store, and came back, saying Mr. Potter had given the
two dollars to the children.

"Yes, yes," said Mrs. Prim, looking at Ninny and then at Lucy; "yes,
yes."

That was all she said; but the girls felt themselves trembling from
head to foot.

"I don't know what's become of it then," murmured Ninny, twisting her
handkerchief.

"Nor I don't," said Lucy.

"Nor me, neither," said Flaxie.

"Yes, yes," repeated Mrs. Prim, looking at Lucy again, and then at
Ninny.

Ninny could bear it no longer, but rushed out of the kitchen door,
crying, followed by Lucy and Flaxie, who tried to cry, too, but hardly
knew what was the matter.

"O mamma, mamma," cried Ninny, throwing herself on her mother's neck
the moment she got home; "I want you to go with me right straight to
Aunt Jane Abbott's; for Mrs. Prim will come there to tell an awful
story about us."

"Why, child, I can't understand you," said Mrs. Gray, kissing Ninny's
hot cheeks. "What awful story can she tell about my dear little
daughter?"

"O, come quick, mamma. She'll go to Aunt Jane's. She wouldn't dare come
here, for papa wouldn't let her talk so; but she'll go to Aunt Jane's,
for she thinks--she thinks--we've stolen some money."

Mrs. Gray did not wait for any thing more, but went at once with the
children to Mrs. Abbott's.

There all three of the little girls talked so fast that Aunt Jane could
hardly understand them.

"The money was in one of the boxes," said Ninny.

"Mr. Potter gave it to Ninny," said Lucy.

"And a stick of candy, too," cried Flaxie.

"And now Mr. Potter thinks we stole the money. He thinks so in his
heart," wailed Ninny. "Mr. Potter, that always liked us, and was going
to take Lucy in his carriage to New York to see a vase he thought would
be pretty for Rose."

In the midst of this talk, there was a quick, decided ring at the
door-bell; and, next moment, Mrs. Prim walked in.

"I wish you'd tell me what this means," said Mrs. Abbott, so bewildered
that she forgot to say, "How do you do?"

"Ask your little daughter what it means," replied Mrs. Prim, throwing
her head back. She was a very straight, tall woman; and, when she did
throw her head back, you felt a little afraid of her.

Mrs. Gray took a seat by the window, and said nothing.

"Is it about some money?" asked Mrs. Abbott.

"Yes," said Mrs. Prim, "it _is_ about some money. I suppose you can't
believe a word against Lucy; but I must tell you what has happened.

"Yesterday morning, as I went into the garden to pick a few flowers, I
overheard these three children talking together about me. They were not
speaking in a very pleasant tone; but I shouldn't have minded that if
one of them--and I am very sure it was Lucy--hadn't said,--

"'O, my, why don't _we_ take some of the money Mr. Potter pays us for
the berries, and keep it ourselves?'"

"Mrs. Prim!" cried Mrs. Abbott, her face turning very white.

"O mamma, I said it in fun; of course I said it in fun!" exclaimed poor
little Lucy, running about the room, and crying.

"In fun," echoed Mrs. Prim. "It didn't sound very funny to me;
especially when you did keep the money, and then told me you had given
it to Kitty."

"We certainly gave it to Kitty," said Ninny, clasping her hands
together. "We certainly did!"

"Serious, truly, black and bluely," put in Miss Frizzle.

Mrs. Abbott was too excited to speak. She was a good Christian, and
meant to be patient; but she was entirely sure these little girls were
innocent; and she thought Mrs. Prim was very unkind and unjust to come
to her house and talk in this way.

At last she said quietly, looking straight at the stern lady,--

"Please remember, Mrs. Prim, Lucy is my own little daughter. It seems
to me you ought to be very sure you are right before you tell a mother
that her daughter will _steal_!"

Mrs. Prim's face softened a little.

"I am sorry to hurt your feelings, Mrs. Abbott," said she. "Everybody
knows you are a high-minded, good woman; but I always thought you were
rather too easy with your children: you don't know how Bert and Lucy
behave when they are out of your sight; and I felt it _my duty_ to come
and tell you about this! I--"

"O! O! O!" struck in Flaxie, distressed by the sad faces around her; "I
wish I's dead! I wish we's all dead and gone to heaven!"

Of course Flaxie's tears were of no more consequence than so much
rain-water; but her mother had to take her in her arms and soothe her,
while Aunt Jane answered Mrs. Prim.

"This is a very strange affair, and I can't understand it; but, as for
thinking my little Lucy would _steal_, why, you know Mrs. Prim, I can't
for one moment believe it!"

"Well, to be sure, I don't much wonder you can't. I shouldn't believe
it myself, I dare say, if I were you. But then, Mrs. Abbott, you must
confess things do look very dark," said Mrs. Prim.

"Darker things than this have been cleared up," said Mrs. Abbott.

Then Mrs. Gray thought _she_ would speak.

"Well, suppose we wait awhile, and don't mention this to anybody, and
see what happens, Mrs. Prim?"

"I will wait a week, if you wish it," answered Mrs. Prim, rising to go;
"and, at the end of that time, I shall expect these little girls to
tell us the truth about this money."

Mrs. Prim did not mean to be unkind, but she was always sure she was
right; she never thought she could make mistakes. As she walked in at
her own gate, Kitty Maloney met her at the front door.

"Sure, mum, it's me that's glad you've got back," cried she, with a
spoon in one hand and a strawberry-box in the other. "Mr. Potter jist
sent up this box, and the money was in it all right."

She held up the spoon, and there was a two-dollar bill in it, dripping
with red juice.

Mrs. Prim stared at it.

"It's yours, mum! Mr. Snow's folks got some of your strawb'ries,
yesterday; and, when they turns 'em out in a dish for dinner, they sees
this money a-laying under 'em, all soaked with the rid."

"So it WAS in the box, after all; and the children did give it to you,"
said Mrs. Prim, feeling dreadfully ashamed.

"Yes, mum, I knew the nice children wouldn't lie. You see, mum, you
must have done the mischief yourself; you must have went and put your
strawb'ries in this box this morning, right a-top of the money, mum,
and niver seen it!"

Mrs. Prim understood it all now. Yes, it must be so. Her spectacles had
been troubling her lately, and she had opened the box without seeing
the money!

As I have said, Mrs. Prim was dreadfully ashamed; but she was a woman
who meant to do right; so she did not wait to take her bonnet off, but
walked right back to Mrs. Abbott's, and showed her the red two-dollar
bill--the most beautiful scrap of money that ever was seen! Mrs. Abbott
could have kissed it for joy.

"Lucy must have it; I want Lucy to keep it and try to forgive me," said
Mrs. Prim; and she actually had tears in her eyes.

But, as Mrs. Abbott would not allow her daughter to keep it, Mrs. Prim
resolved to make the children all a present. She begged some of little
Rosie's hair, and went to New York that very afternoon and bought three
gold lockets, one for each of the girls.

So it all ended very pleasantly, after all; and this is as good a place
as any to make an end of our book.



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:

Obvious printer errors have been corrected. Otherwise, the author's
original spelling, punctuation and hyphenation have been left intact.





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search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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