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Title: Dotty Dimple at School
Author: May, Sophie
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: SAFE AT HOME.--Page 137.]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration:

  DOTTY DIMPLE
  STORIES

  BY SOPHIE MAY.

  ILLUSTRATED

  DOTTY AT SCHOOL.

  LEE & SHEPARD BOSTON

  KILBURN SC        R. SAYER DEL

]

       *       *       *       *       *

  _DOTTY DIMPLE STORIES._



  DOTTY DIMPLE AT SCHOOL.


  BY SOPHIE MAY,
  AUTHOR OF “LITTLE PRUDY STORIES.”

  Illustrated.

  BOSTON:
  LEE AND SHEPARD.
  1869.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by

  LEE AND SHEPARD,

  In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the District of
  Massachusetts.

  ELECTROTYPED AT THE
  BOSTON STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY,
  19 Spring Lane.

       *       *       *       *       *

  TO

  ATTIE STARBIRD

  AND

  KATIE WHEELER.

       *       *       *       *       *

DOTTY DIMPLE STORIES.

To be completed in six vols. Handsomely Illustrated.

Each vol., 75 cts.

  1. _DOTTY DIMPLE AT HER GRANDMOTHER’S._
  2. _DOTTY DIMPLE AT HOME._
  3. _DOTTY DIMPLE OUT WEST._
  4. _DOTTY DIMPLE AT PLAY._
  5. _DOTTY DIMPLE AT SCHOOL._
  6. _DOTTY DIMPLE’S FLYAWAY._

       *       *       *       *       *

BOOKS BY THE SAME AUTHOR.

LITTLE PRUDY STORIES.

Now complete. Six vols. 24mo. Handsomely Illustrated.

In a neat box. Per vol., 75 cts. Comprising

  1. _LITTLE PRUDY._
  2. _LITTLE PRUDY’S SISTER SUSY._
  3. _LITTLE PRUDY’S CAPTAIN HORACE._
  4. _LITTLE PRUDY’S COUSIN GRACE._
  5. _LITTLE PRUDY’S STORY BOOK._
  6. _LITTLE PRUDY’S DOTTY DIMPLE._



CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER                           PAGE

     I. THE FIRST DAY.                 7

    II. DOTTY AND TATE.               24

   III. DOING A LIE.                  38

    IV. DOTTY AND HER MOTHER.         50

     V. THE SCREW-UP PENCIL.          59

    VI. DOTTY AND LINA.               75

   VII. BLOWING AWAY.                 86

  VIII. IS YOUR NAME SOLOMON?        103

    IX. A LONG NIGHT.                117

     X. SAFE AT HOME.                131

    XI. BOSOM FRIENDS.               144

   XII. THE DEAR LITTLE SCHOOL.      153



DOTTY DIMPLE AT SCHOOL.

CHAPTER I.

THE FIRST DAY.


“O, dear, dear! Who set this basket down on my white apron? All
wrinkled up! I can’t go to school! And me with a new book, bought day
before yesterday!”

“It was I, little sister,” said Prudy, gently. “It was an accident; I’m
sorry if I’ve hurt your apron.”

“O, it isn’t hurt any,” replied Dotty, in a different tone; “not a
speck, Prudy. But won’t you please button my boots? There, I wish I was
a horse, and then my shoes would be nailed on, and be done with it.”

When the boots were buttoned, Dotty was in another flutter.

“Isn’t it time to start yet? What a slow clock! Only eight! I’m going
down to help Norah hang out the clothes.”

“Just the napkins and little things, Norah,” said she, suddenly
appearing in the back-door yard with her apron half fastened. “I’ll
have time before I go to school, and mamma’s always willing.”

“Well, I suppose if you must, you must,” said Norah, trying to talk
with a clothespin in her mouth; “but it’s pretty cold weather for
little girls like you to be out, with nothing on their heads.”

Dotty took up a handkerchief, shook it once or twice, and spread it
on the line; but before she had secured it with a clothespin, it was
frozen stiff.

“Why, Norah, what makes you starch the clothes before you put them
out? Why don’t you wait till they’re dry?”

“It isn’t starch, Miss Dotty; it’s the cold weather. You’d better run
into the house before you freeze.”

“Why, I haven’t hung out but one napkin and two hangerjifs, Norah.”

“No matter; your hands are as red as lobsters; and, another thing,
you’re shaking the clothes all to pieces. Did I ever tell you how your
sister Prudy was served once, when she was a wee thing, and wouldn’t
mind me?”

“Didn’t Prudy always mind? You said she did.”

“Well, no; once Prudy was naughty. I told her to go away from the door,
and not touch the frosty nails; but she didn’t pay any heed; and by and
by she came crying to me, and do you believe, there were nails sticking
to her fingers.”

“Honest? truly?”

“Yes; Prudy remembers it, I know.”

“I mean to go ask her,” said Dotty, dropping a collar and bounding
away. “Prudy,” said she, rushing into the house breathless, her cheeks
and the tip of her nose glowing with the kisses of the wind. “I’ll tell
you something. _Did_ you ever have nails sticking to your fingers?”

“Yes, and I have now,” replied Prudy, holding out her hands, and
exhibiting her rosy finger-tips.

“O, those! Why, Prudy Parlin, I think you’re real too-bad, and Norah
too! She didn’t want me to spread clo’es; so she told a hint. She’s
always telling hints. If I was a Cath’lic, and little girls wanted to
hang out clo’es, and make thimble-cookies and things, I wouldn’t treat
’em so, and say there was nails, when I meant fingernails!”

“O, well, Dotty, Norah thinks we are try-patiences, I s’pose. Mother
doesn’t allow her to scold, and so she has to _manage_.”

“H’m!” ejaculated Dotty, with a curling lip. But all this while the
“slow clock” was busy.

“Now it is a quarter OF,” said Prudy. She uttered the words as coolly
as if they were of very slight importance; but Dotty’s little heart
beat like a drum. How often had she heard Prudy say, “It’s a quarter
_of_,” and seen her skip out of the house, kissing her hand for good
by! As the door closed after her, Dotty had always felt as if it shut
herself out of something beautiful--something every way desirable.

And now it was coming,--the day and the hour. She was about to be a
school-girl at last. No longer a little child, who stays at home and
plays with paper dolls, but a little woman, who goes out to learn the
ways of the world.

As the two children walked on together in advance of Susy, every object
looked to Dotty wondrous fair.

“Prudy,” said she, confidentially, “I’ve played enough. I may play a
little more once in a while, but not much. I want to grow a great lady,
like mamma, and read poetry, and write letters.”

“Yes, dear; but when you get to talking so fast, you keep pushing me
into the street with your elbow.”

“Do I? I didn’t mean to. O, how white the world is! Looks like a
frosted cake. Prudy, don’t you wish you’s dead?”

“No; what an idea!”

“Nor I don’t, either.”

“Then what made you ask if I did, Dotty Dimple?”

“O, I was only thinking about the angels sifting down snow. Look at the
drift top o’ that store. So hard you could jump on it, and not leave a
scar.”

“Please, Dotty, keep your elbow still. Here we are at the school-house.
Now remember, you must behave like a little lady.”

“Needn’t tell me that, Prudy Parlin. It isn’t as if I was _some_ girls,
that don’t know your A B C’s. Six years old--going on seven. Can--”

Dotty was about to say, “Can tie a bow-knot,” and would have added
quite a list of other accomplishments; but as she found herself just
then in a crowd of little girls, she very prudently closed her lips,
and entered the school-room.

“Miss Parker, this is my little sister Alice,” said Prudy, going up to
the teacher; “but people know what you mean better if you say ‘Dotty
Dimple.’ She has never been to school before; but she can read in the
First Reader, if you let her spell the hard words aloud.”

“Very well,” said Miss Parker, with a smile. “I welcome Prudy Parlin’s
sister; and if she is half as good as Prudy, I shall never like to part
with her to go up stairs.”

Prudy slid her hand into Miss Parker’s. She remembered how that
warm-hearted young lady had kissed her with tears when she left the
primary department.

“O, I think she’ll be good, Miss Parker,” said Prudy, in a low voice,
while Dotty was looking out of the window; “only she never went to
school in her life, and if she doesn’t sit very still, I hope you’ll
try to excuse her.”

Miss Parker gave the little pleader a hearty embrace.

“Good by Dotty,” said Prudy. “I must leave you now. Remember, when you
go out to read, you mustn’t twist your front hair.”

“I never thought of twisting it, or sneezing either. Just’s if--”

But Prudy was gone. Presently the bell rang, and school had begun. Miss
Parker gave Dotty a seat beside a little girl in a dark-blue frock,
who had eyes the color of gray stocking-yarn, and a dent in her chin
so deep that Dotty was rather mortified, for it eclipsed both hers
entirely.

“But, then, she isn’t pretty, if she does have such a ’normous dimple,
for there’s a wart on her thumb, and I don’t like warts.”

The little girl’s name was Sarah Penny, usually called Tate. She looked
at the new scholar with some curiosity. Their eyes met, and then Tate
smiled, showing some irregular little teeth. Dotty smiled too, making
her dimples as deep as possible. She watched Tate’s chin, and was
pleased to observe that the dent never moved. After this silent but
friendly greeting, the two children felt a little acquainted.

“She’s a real beauty,” thought the good-natured Tate, gazing at her
companion’s lovely face without envy.

“_She_ has zigzag teeth,” thought the critical Miss Dimple; “but I like
her.”

Tate opened her Testament, and let Dotty look on with her while Miss
Parker read aloud the morning chapter. It was a leather-covered
Testament, and had been scratched by penknives.

“I s’pose she’s a poor little girl,” thought Dotty, “or she wouldn’t
have such an _owdrageous_ old book! The outside of it’s all wrinkled
up--looks like a raisin.”

At this same moment Tate was thinking, “I s’pose SHE’S a rich little
girl,--got on a ring!”

Neither of the children, I fear, paid much heed to the reading. Tate
turned back to the fly-leaf, and pointed out to Dotty the words in
blue ink, “The Property of Isaac S. Penny,” followed by the wonderful
couplet,--

  “If you don’t believe this book is mine,
  Please look on page thirty-nine.”

Dotty could not read the writing, but was delighted with various hearts
and darts, drawn in red ink, and eagles in black, with wings made of
loops, and bills made of points. She thought they must have been drawn
by a great genius.

After the morning exercises, she sat very prim, and looked straight
before her at the blackboard.

“I don’t so much as wink,” thought she. “I wish Prudy could see me now.”

But this unnatural stillness did not last long. Dotty very soon found
that her companion had a slate, and she began to make pictures on
it, swaying herself to and fro as she drew. Tate looked over Dotty’s
shoulders, and watched the pictures as they grew. It puzzled her a
little to guess what they were meant for; and, strange to say, the
little artist was quite as much puzzled herself.

“What is this thing?” whispered she to Tate. “I made it for a cat;
but then, I went and put feathers in the tail, and now I guess it’s a
turkey.”

Tate wrinkled her forehead, and eyed the doubtful picture with a wise
look.

“It ’pears to me,” replied she, hesitating,--“it ’pears to me more like
a tea-pot.”

Now, whispering was against the rule, and Dotty knew it as well as
Tate; but they both thought if they put their heads together, and spoke
so low that no one else could hear, there was no harm in it. At any
rate, so thought Tate, for she had done it so long that her conscience
was hardened.

“I’m not whispering to _you_,” said she to Dotty; “I’m whispering to
the slate.”

Dotty stared a little.

“But you spect me to hear,” said she; “so it’s just the same.”

When the time came for the youngest class in the First Reader, Dotty
felt a little frightened.

“I can’t read very well,” thought she, “and p’raps the teacher’ll put
me down to the bottom of the foot.”

But her fears were groundless; she was placed next to the head; and
though the girl above her could read as fast as a stone rolls down
hill, Miss Parker said nothing about sending Dotty Dimple to “the
bottom of the foot.”

“I have as nice boots as they have, and ruffles round my wrist,”
thought the new pupil; “but they are all littler than me, and can read
’thout spelling the words out loud.”

This was very humiliating. Dotty’s curly head sank a little. She
stepped out of line, and, closing her book, let it drop by her side.

“Raise your book, Alice, my dear,” said the teacher, kindly, “and keep
your finger on the place; that is the proper way.”

“Yes’m,” replied Dotty, demurely, and opened her Reader wrong side
upward, at the same time stepping forward several inches in advance of
the other girls. Tate Penny tittered a little, and Dotty drew back in
a moment.

“My mamma never made me stand in a straight line,” murmured she, “and I
don’t know how.”

Miss Parker saw Dotty’s mortification, and hastened to soothe her.

“I dare say you will learn so fast,” said she, “that you will make all
these other little girls very much ashamed.”

Dotty looked up, and her eyes brightened. “You never went to school
before, I believe.”

“No’m,” replied Dotty, briskly, her unusual bashfulness disappearing in
a moment. “No’m, I never; only, when I was at grandpa Parlin’s, I went
some days with Jennie Vance. My mamma used to let me read in her lap.
You see she _couldn’t_ make me stand up in a row, ’cause I wasn’t but
one girl.”

The other children smiled. They thought this must be a very strange
child, to talk so familiarly with the teacher.

“Prudy taught me my letters,” she went on: “A for ape, and B for
bat--looked as if he had an umberella on him--and C for cat--a story
for every one I learned. Prudy told real pretty stories, too. I can
remember ’em now. But my mamma didn’t have much time to ’tend to my
reading; so she said, after Christmas I must go to your school.”

Miss Parker pressed her lips together firmly--a habit she had when
anything amused her. It was very clear to her mind that Miss Dimple did
not understand the ways of a school-room. Dotty saw the other little
girls looking at one another as if they were amused.

“They like to hear me talk,” thought she, throwing back her curly
head. “I’ll talk some more.”

“Miss Parker, may I have a drink of water? ’Cause I’ve been eating
snow; and when I eat snow it makes me thirsty. Jennie Vance used to
carry a little bottle to school; but her teacher said she mustn’t.”

“Lina Rosenberg, it is your turn to read,” remarked Miss Parker. “We
will have no more talking, if you please.”

The new scholar dropped her head, “like violets after rain,” thinking,
“O, dear, dear! what have I done now?”



CHAPTER II.

DOTTY AND TATE.


“Well, little sister,” said Prudy that evening, “how do you like going
to school?”

“I don’t know anything about it; you ask too many questions,” replied
the child, turning away suddenly.

“O, Dotty! I hope you haven’t been a bad girl. Did Miss Parker have to
speak to you?”

“She spoke to me--yes; what you s’pose?”

“Did you and that little Penny girl whisper, Dotty?”

“Yes. She talked to the slate, but she _meant_ me.”

“O, Dotty! And you answered back?”

“H’m, Prudy! D’you think I’se going to sit there and not say anything,
and her a talking to me the whole time?”

“She’s going to act awfully, I’m afraid,” thought poor Prudy, who felt
the whole care of her little sister on her own young shoulders.

“You didn’t twirl your hair, and talk in the class, Dotty?”

Dotty stooped to pick up a pin which was not on the carpet.

“O, Prudy! I’m going to get me some paper, and oil it, and put it
over pictures, and it’ll draw splendid! With butter, you know! Shines
through.”

Prudy saw the flush of shame on her sister’s cheeks, but did not know
how keenly she was suffering.

“I wouldn’t tell Prudy how the girls laughed at me, and thought I
was a _nidiot_. And the teacher too, I saw _her_ laughing, inside of
her sleeves. Every time I think of it I want to shut myself up in the
closet.”

“How did you like your school, Alice,” said Mr. Parlin, as the family
were all seated in the parlor after tea.

“Pretty well, sir,” answered Dotty, faintly. “There was a man came in
and talked. He said he learned _his_ letters with a whalebone. I mean
his teacher snipped him with it.”

“It was the same man,” said Prudy, “that came up stairs and talked to
us. I guess he was a printer, for he told a story, and he said, ‘The
man approached the child, and found her weeping.’ If he hadn’t been a
printer he wouldn’t have said that; he’d have said, ‘The man _went up_
to the child and found she was _crying_.’”

“What do you mean by a printer, Prudy?”

“O, these men that write books, papa. They always use all the big
words--don’t they?”

Dotty was much obliged to her kind sister for leading the conversation
away from the primary school, for she had been afraid some one might
strike in with an awkward question.

“O, dear! I hoped I was going to have the sore throat,” thought she, as
she awoke next morning; “and then I could stay away from school. But
nothing pleasant ever happens to me. When I want the sore throat, I
can’t have it; and when I don’t want it, that’s the very time it comes.”

For several days Dotty continued to feel unhappy, and hardly dared
play with the other little girls, lest they should laugh at her. But
by degrees her sensitiveness wore away, and after practising on her
lessons at home till she could read without stumbling over the hard
words, she became the gayest of the gay.

She drew her sled to school nearly every day, for there was enough
dirty snow and ice in the yard to afford a little coasting. Several
of the other children had sleds, but Lina Rosenberg had none, and,
remembering the former friendship between herself and Dotty, followed
her like her shadow, begging for rides.

Dotty bore this for a while; but at last her patience gave way.

“Lina Rosenbug,” said she with dignity, “some days I can let you ride,
and some days it may not be convenient for me to do so. I should
_devise_ you not to tease.”

Lina pouted.

“My mother says you’re a big-feeling little girl,” cried she. “You
wouldn’t stay to my house; you ran home, and crawled into the cellar;
you know you did.”

“Yes,” retorted Dotty, “’cause my mamma didn’t wish me to play with
you, and I knew it. That’s why I’d rather stay down cellar. She said
you _betwitched_ me, Lina Rosenbug.”

Dotty was sorry, next minute, that she had spoken so unkindly.

“Now Lina never’ll speak to me again,” thought she. “Would _I_ play
with a little girl when her mamma said I _betwitched_ her?”

But Dotty was quite mistaken. Lina had heard cross words all her little
life, and was hardened to them. She clung to Miss Dimple only the more
closely after this; which was a pity, for Dotty was really anxious to
obey her mother, and keep away from the beguiling little Jewess.

Meanwhile Dotty was becoming rather intimate with her young seat-mate.
She knew precisely how many dresses Tate had, and how many she expected
to have; the names of her uncles and aunts; which were the good ones,
that gave presents, and which were the cross ones, that made you shut
the doors after you, and said, “O, _she_ can skip up stairs and get my
cap-box; she’s just big enough to run.”

In her turn Dotty related all her own adventures, both by sea and land,
Tate listening with a quick twinkle of her large gray eyes, which was
very encouraging.

Dotty did not spend all her time in whispering: she sometimes tried to
study; but it was very hard to fix her thoughts. She would repeat a
word again and again, and all the while be thinking of something else;
or she would mean to look at her book, and, instead of that, find
herself watching Miss Parker, or counting the buttons on some little
girl’s frock.

Now, it happened that Miss Parker, though a fine teacher, and an
excellent young lady, had one very foolish method; and it was this.

In the afternoon, before the school was dismissed, she asked the
children to tell her if they had whispered during the day; and if they
declared they had not, she smiled, and seemed very much pleased. All
this would have been well enough, if the little creatures had told the
truth; but, alas! they were so anxious for their teacher’s smile, that
they often, very often, told falsehoods.

Miss Parker had no idea she was tempting them to do wrong. She believed
every word they said. If she had been more observing, she might have
known that the children, who looked so innocent, were really sad
little chatterboxes. Dotty Dimple was amazed to see Tate’s hand go up
every night in token that she had not whispered.

“Why, Tate,” said she one day, “you’re just as bad as Jennie Vance! She
lies, ‘one to another,’ and so do you!”

Tate looked grieved.

“O, Dotty Dimple! I don’t do any such a thing!”

“But nights, when Miss Parker asks if we’ve whispered, you hold up your
hand, Tate; and that’s the same as to say, _you never_!”

“But I don’t speak, Dotty Dimple. I shut my lips right together; and
how CAN you tell a lie when you don’t tell anything?”

“Well,” said Dotty, hesitating, “p’raps it isn’t telling a lie, but
it’s _doing_ a lie. Miss Parker thinks you don’t whisper, and then she
praises you. She never praises me, ’cause I keep my hand right down to
my side. I’m a great deal better’n you are, Tate; but _she_ doesn’t
know it.”

“O, dear! I can’t help it,” said Tate, picking nervously at the wart on
her thumb. “I don’t like to get scolded at.”

“Nor I either don’t,” responded Dotty. “Of course not--and her looking
so sorry.”

“Then why don’t you hold up your hand?” said Tate. “She thinks you’re
real bad. I’d hold it up, and she’ll like you a great deal better.”

“I want to dreadfully, Tate. I’d rather hold up my hand than eat a
choclid cake.”

Dotty sighed as she spoke, and gazed sorrowfully at the beautiful
teacher, whose love seemed so sweet and desirable.

“O, Tate! I’ve thought of something. S’pose now we try not to whisper.”

Tate looked up in her companion’s face to see if she was in earnest.

“Not whisper!”

“Yes; just one day.”

“Why, we couldn’t, Dotty; it’s just no use.”

“I’ll try if you will,” said Miss Dimple, anxiously, “’cause Miss
Parker is a darling, and I want her to love me.”

“Well, you may try, Dotty Dimple, but _I_ shan’t! I tried one day last
summer, and it made me so hungry I like to died!”

Dotty said no more, but fell into a thoughtful mood.

O, how delightful it would be to have dear Miss Parker put her hand on
her head, and say, with one of those beaming smiles,--

“This is my good little Dotty Dimple!”

How painful to hear her say, in a tone of displeasure,--

“Dotty, if you were only as good as Tate! Tate doesn’t whisper all day
long. Why don’t you try to be like her?”

Ah, Miss Parker’s lovely brown eyes could not have been very
far-sighted, and her pretty little ears, with the coral jewels in them,
were not good for much, I am sure. Dotty scowled fiercely at Tate that
night, as she saw her hand rising like a little _white lie_.

“She isn’t half so good as I am,” thought Dotty; “but Miss Parker
doesn’t know it. To-morrow I’ll try not to whisper, and then she’ll
call me a dear little girl, and it’ll be the truth.”

So to-morrow Dotty set out in earnest to be a good girl.

“Norah,” said she, going into the kitchen at half past eight, while
Prudy was busy reading,--“Norah, is there any alum in the house?”

“Slippery alum, do you mean, Miss Dotty?”

“I don’t know. I guess it isn’t slippery. I want a little piece about
_so_ big,” said Dotty, exhibiting the ball of her thumb.

Norah took down a box from the highest shelf in the pantry, and, after
searching a while, produced a bit of alum, and gave it to Dotty.

“But I can’t see what you want of it,” she said.

“Won’t you ever tell anybody, Norah? It’s to pucker up my mouth, so I
shan’t whisper.”

Norah sat down upon the wood-box to laugh.

“Who put such a queer notion as that in your head, Miss Dotty?”

“O, heard my mamma say she ate some once, when she was a little girl,
and it wrinkled her mouth all up, so she couldn’t talk; but don’t you
tell.”

“No, I won’t tell; but if that is what you want it for, I shan’t dare
give you so much; it might make you sick. Here’s a bit as big as a pea;
it’s all you ought to have, Miss Dotty.”

The little girl put the precious morsel in her pocket, intending to eat
it the last thing before she entered the school-room.



CHAPTER III.

DOING A LIE.


The alum gave Dotty’s mouth a puckery sensation; though, to her
disappointment, she felt as much like talking as ever.

“But, Tate,” said she, firmly, “I’m going to be good all day, as hard
as I can; and I _devise_ you not to try to make me speak.”

This was before school began, and shortly afterwards Tate forgot the
admonition, and fell to whispering, just as usual.

“Dotty, there’s a boy,--his name’s Daniel Page,--and he goes to church
right before our pew. He acts awfully. Did you ever see Dannie?”

Dotty shook her head.

“Didn’t you truly?”

Dotty shook her head again.

“Why, he lives on next to the same street you do. Didn’t you _never_
see him?”

Dotty shook her head with treble force.

“’Cause I was going to tell you what he did last Sunday. Do you want to
hear?”

Miss Dimple’s head shook as if she had the palsy.

“Well, I’m going to tell you, anyway, it was so queer. The minister he
prayed, and Dannie he stood up, and turned round, and looked at me. And
what do you s’pose he put into his mouth?”

Dotty was growing interested; thought of pea-nuts, taffy, licorice; but
made no reply except to scowl as severely as possible.

“His hankychiff! Yes, it was. It had red pictures over it--a lion and
a man; and he stuffed it right in.”

Dotty wanted to say, “Not the whole!” but shut her teeth together.

Tate proceeded.

“He poked and he poked, and he stretched his mouth open, and it
kept going in, and bimeby ’twas all in, and the hem too--the whole
hankychiff.”

Dotty’s eyes were big with astonishment.

“Yes, I saw it. His cheeks stuck out both sides, and his eyes too. I
thought he was going to choke to death; and then I laughed!”

The recollection was so amusing that Tate hid behind her slate, and
shook all over, while Dotty tried so hard to keep sober, that she
tittered outright. Miss Parker frowned. This was a bad beginning. Dotty
wished it was nine o’clock, and she could start again.

“What’s the matter with you, Dotty Dimple?” said Tate. “You look as if
you didn’t feel pleasant.”

Dotty thought there was no peace for her, and began to shake her head
again in despair. The more Tate talked, the more she shook it; and
while it was going like a tree in the wind, and she was bending on her
friend a feebly furious scowl, Miss Parker drew near.

“Why, Dotty, I am astonished,” said she, with marked displeasure; “what
makes you behave so strangely to-day? You keep jerking your neck as if
you meant to break it off. The children are watching you, and laughing.”

Dotty tried to make an excuse, but could not think of any, and her
silence seemed to Miss Parker like sullenness.

“O, dear, dear!” thought the unfortunate child, “she thinks I mean to
be naughty; and it’s just ’cause I try so _dreadfully_ to be good! It’s
no use! I may eat all the alum there is in the milliners’ shops, and
it don’t do anything to my tongue. If it did, it’s no use. Miss Parker
never scolded when I whispered, and now when I don’t whisper, she does!”

This was a very unpleasant reflection; it confused the child’s ideas of
right and wrong.

“It’s ’cause I want to please Miss Parker, that I said I wouldn’t
whisper; but it doesn’t please her--it displeases her. She’ll never
love me ’thout she’s a mind to, and I don’t mean to try.”

So, when the teacher had passed down the aisle, and was hearing the
primer class, Dotty turned round to Tate, and said, with a reckless
smile,--

“Talk away, Tate. I give it up.”

“I thought you’d give it up,” replied Tate, triumphantly.

“O, I needn’t if I didn’t choose. I needn’t speak forever ’n’ ever, and
you couldn’t get the blade of a knife in ’tween my teeth. But I shan’t;
what’s the use, and her looking the other way?”

“That’s what I _always_ told you,” said Tate; “but you scolded, and
said I was a naughty girl.”

“Well, so you are; and I’ll say it again, ’cause it’s the truth. You,
a-holding up your hand, and Miss Parker a-thinking you the best kind of
a girl, Tate Penny! But I’m going to be naughty, too. She praises the
naughty ones. O, yes; _don’t_ she praise ’em? and _we good ones_--O, it
makes me feel cross!”

After Dotty had said this, it seemed to her she had excused herself
to her own conscience, and could go on whispering as much as she
pleased. She and Tate had never whispered so much before. They watched
every opportunity, when Miss Parker was busy, to keep their little
tongues moving. Never did a pair of sociable pigeons, building a nest
in the spring, chat more eagerly than these two children, with their
heads close together, and their fingers intertwined. Every time Miss
Parker happened to look that way, they were studying very hard; and she
smiled, as if to say, “Good little girls! Dear little girls!”

“Very queer,” thought Dotty; “she _says_ it’s against rules to whisper,
but we can do it ’thout her scolding the leastest bit.”

“Yes,” replied Tate, “if I couldn’t see any better’n Miss Parker can,
I’d wear spettycles.”

“But she sees us when we do things she never told us not to, and not
breaking rules at all,” said Dotty, scornfully. “For _ninstance_, she
saw me shaking my head. Now, why couldn’t I shake my head? _That_ isn’t
against the rule!”

“No, indeed!”

“Well, but she came straight up here, and said she was _’stonished_.
What made her ’stonished, when I wasn’t breaking a rule?”

“She was afraid you’d break your neck,” said Tate.

The day wore on, and Dotty grew more and more reckless.

“I’ve a great mind to hold up my hand to-night,” thought she; but could
not quite decide to do it. She was so busy debating the question that
she hardly noticed when her spelling-class was called, and walked out
behind Tate like one in a dream.

After the spelling, there came, as usual, the awful question,--

“How many have whispered to-day? All those who have not whispered may
hold up their hands.”

Dotty saw Tate’s hand go up fearlessly, as it always did. Why not hers
too?

“If I’m some bad, I might as well be all bad.”

Dotty gave one glance at Miss Parker’s red ear-rings, one glance of
shame at her own boots, and then began to raise her left arm slowly,
slowly, for _something_ seemed to hold it down. It felt as heavy as an
iron weight. She almost needed the other hand to help her draw it up.
At the same time _something_ knocked loudly at her heart, “Stop! stop!
stop!”

But the arm got up at last, and nobody saw that it was as stiff as
marble; it looked like the other arms that were raised, only it was in
a sleeve that had a crimped ruffle round the wrist.

Miss Parker saw Dotty’s hand, and her beautiful mouth was wreathed with
smiles.

“Ah,” cried she, “that is just what I’ve been wanting to see! I have
looked in vain for that little hand.”

Dotty gazed at a crack in the floor; for she could not meet her
teacher’s eye.

“My dear child,” added Miss Parker, stroking Dotty’s hair, “don’t
you feel a great deal happier to-night than usual? a great deal
lighter-hearted? You don’t know how this makes me love you, dear.”

There it was; the praise of her teacher! Just what she had been longing
for so much. But why didn’t it make her happy? Happy! She was one mass
of misery from head to foot. When Miss Parker kissed her so tenderly
for good by, she wanted to scream, for the kiss “burnt her mouth.”

“There,” cried Tate, as they left the school-room, “aren’t you glad you
did it?”

“No, indeed,” said Dotty, turning round upon her friend in a sort of
frenzy, and shooting out the words like pins and needles. “What you
s’pose? I should think you’d be ’shamed, Tate Penny; so ’shamed you’d
want to die! Telling me to hold my hand up, when it’s a _bommernibble_
big black lie.”

“You needn’t to’ve done it,” returned Tate, cowering before the
lightning in Dotty’s eyes.

“You’re the wickedest girl there is in this town,” went on the angry
child. “Made me whisper, when I ate alum to purpose not to! Keep
a-talking so I had to shake my head and make the scholars see it, and
get scolded at! And then you _devised_ me to tell a lie! I feel it
coming up into my throat, Tate Penny; it chokes me so I can’t talk.
It’s worse’n if I’d said it. When you _do_ a lie, it’s a great deal
worse.”

Tate was too much overwhelmed to reply.

“But I know one thing,” cried Dotty, setting her heels down firmly;
“God won’t blame me. He’ll blame YOU. You go right home, and think how
you’ve been acting, Tate Penny! And to-night, when you go to bed, you
pray just as hard as you can!”

These words came out in a sudden gust. “Just as hard as you can, Tate
Penny, for you’re the one’s been wicked; not me!”

Then, without a word of farewell, the children parted, Tate turning to
the left with a puzzled look, as if she really did not know whether she
was wicked or not, and Dotty turning to the right, her heart and throat
full of choking sobs without any tears.



CHAPTER IV.

DOTTY AND HER MOTHER.


In spite of all Dotty had said about her own innocence, she felt so
guilty that she was ready to sentence herself to the “penitential.”

“Well, little one, how have things gone to-day?”

So said her father; for at the table she sat gazing mournfully at a
piece of sponge cake.

“I don’t know, papa. May I have a new slate? ’cause I’ve broke mine
across the middle.”

Mrs. Parlin, as well as her husband, noticed Dotty’s sorrowful face;
but she made no remark till she went up stairs to put the child to
bed. Then she took her into her own chamber, and seating herself in a
sewing-chair, before the fire, drew Dotty into her lap. Nothing was
said; but the little girl understood the action very well.

“Yes’m, I did do wrong. How’d you know it, mamma?”

After this she hid her face, and the two sat in silence for several
moments, Mrs. Parlin holding Dotty’s hand, and gently stroking it.

“Mamma, ’twas Tate Penny made me do it. Won’t you please to not let me
sit with Tate?”

“What did she make you do?”

“Made me tell a ’normous story, big as a house.”

“You can’t mean a lie?”

“Yes’m; I didn’t _say_ a lie, but _did_ a lie; did it with my hand.”

“What do you mean, Dotty?”

“I held it up, mamma, same’s to say, I never; but I did, and the alum
hadn’t kept me from it; not a bit.”

The little girl was quivering all over with agitation.

“By and by, when you can talk better, you may tell me what you did with
your hand, and what you mean by the alum.”

“O, dear, mamma! I’m all choked up, and can’t talk; but ’tisn’t my
alum, ’cause that didn’t do a thing to my tongue. Norah gave me some
as big as the end of a slate pencil; but it never did a thing to my
tongue. I could talk as fast as I could speak. But I wouldn’t, and I
didn’t; and then Tate made me most shake my neck off; till bimeby I
didn’t care, and the teacher didn’t care either. It’s against the
rule; but there she sits in the desk,--Miss Parker does,--and don’t
hear anything, only when she’s hearing classes and things; and then
never looks anywhere, only right at the Reader, and picks a place in
her neck.”

“Don’t talk _quite_ so fast, dear, and then I shall understand you
better.”

“I said, mamma, she don’t see us break the rules, ’thout she’s walking
up the aisle, or sometimes when she looks up quick out of a book. She
says it’s against the rules to whisper; but we do, and she likes us
just the same; only if we don’t put up our hand she don’t like us, and
don’t praise us. I don’t want her a-praising _me_, not when I’ve been
naughty--should you, mamma? But Tate does. Tate held up _her_ hand, and
I didn’t mean to; but the first thing I knew, I--I--”

“Why, Dotty!”

“Well, I shouldn’t, not if Tate hadn’t! ’Twas wicked; ’twas lying one
to another, mamma; but Tate has done it five hundred million times!
She’s a worse girl’n I am. O, dear me!”

“I cannot stop now to talk of Tate Penny,” said Mrs. Parlin; “we must
attend first to Dotty Dimple.”

“Yes’m. I knew you’d ’tend to me. I don’t b’lieve Tate’s mother ’tends
to _her_. I don’t s’pect Tate knows much about the Bible, p’raps. Isn’t
it awful?”

Dotty picked away at the tidy on the back of the chair with an air of
unconcern; but Mrs. Parlin observed that her mouth was twitching at the
corners.

“Dotty!”

“Yes’m.”

“You seem very anxious to set Tate Penny right. She has told a wrong
story: what ought she to do about it?”

Dotty hung her head.

“Don’t you know?”

“Yes’m.”

“If she should say to her teacher, ‘Miss Parker, I’ve deceived you; I’m
sorry,’ would that be enough?”

“No, mamma; and she wouldn’t say so--Tate wouldn’t.”

“But why wouldn’t it be enough, Dotty?”

“O, ’cause, mamma, it isn’t Miss Parker she’s ’bused.”

“What do you mean, dear?”

“Why, ’twas somebody else--’twas--God.”

By this time Dotty’s head was on her mother’s bosom.

“Then you think Tate has offended her heavenly Father?”

“Yes’m, I do.”

“Why do you think so?”

“O, ’cause He put it in the Bible that she mustn’t tell a lie.”

“Yes, dear.”

“And He went and put it in another place, too,” added Dotty, laying her
hand on her left side; “right in here.”

“True, my child.”

“He put a whisper right into her heart, mamma. She can’t hear it, but
she can feel it, just like a watch ticking; and it says, ‘Please, Tate,
_don’t_ you tell a lie!’”

“Very well, Dotty. I am glad to see that you understand it so clearly.
And now that Tate has disobeyed this whisper, what must she do?”

“Be sorry.”

“Is that enough?”

“You know the rest, mamma.”

“But tell, me, dear, as if I did not know.”

“Ask God to forgive her,” replied Dotty, with her lips close to her
mother’s sleeve.

“Then what must Dotty Dimple do? Hasn’t she, too, been a naughty girl?”

The child slid out of Mrs. Parlin’s lap, and knelt before her on the
rug.

“O, mamma,” said she, in a choked voice, “I’m afraid He won’t forgive
me.”

“Are you sorry you did wrong?”

“Yes’m, I am. And ’twasn’t Tate Penny made me; ’twas _me_ did it
myself.”

“That is right, Dotty; so it was.”

“But I won’t hold up my hand again, ’thout it’s to put my hair behind
my ears. I won’t do it to purpose--no, indeed!”

“Then, Dotty, you need not be afraid. ‘If we confess our sins, God is
faithful and just to forgive us.’”

“Certain true, will He, mamma?”

“Yes, dear; we may always be sure of it.”

Dotty sighed heavily.

“But you see, mamma, I knew I was doing a lie, and I did it to purpose.”

“It was a great sin, my child; mother wouldn’t say it wasn’t. But if
you are sorry, and tell God so, He is so ‘faithful and just,’ that He
will certainly forgive you. He says He will.”

Dotty paused a moment, while a look of relief passed over her troubled
face, then whispered, brokenly,--

“O, our Father, please will you forgive me? ’Twas me did it--not Tate;
and I did it to purpose; but I’m _so_ sorry, and don’t ever mean to do
it again. For Christ’s sake, Amen!”



CHAPTER V.

“THE SCREW-UP PENCIL.”


“Mother,” said Dotty, next morning, with eyes on the carpet, “I want to
tell you something. Mayn’t Prudy do it?”

“Do what, dear?”

“Talk to Miss Parker.”

“Wouldn’t it be better for you to make your own confession, my
daughter?”

Dotty twisted her front hair very rapidly.

“Why, mamma, I could talk to her, you know, if ’twas about Tate Penny,
how bad she is; but this is about _me_.”

Mrs. Parlin reflected a moment.

“I think it would be better for you to go to Miss Parker yourself,
and tell her you are sorry you have deceived her; still, if you are
not brave enough to do it, and your sister is willing, I shall make no
objection.”

Prudy said she was willing. Prudy was always expected to stand with a
little flask in her hand, ready to pour oil on Dotty’s troubled waters.

“Miss Parker,” whispered she, taking the teacher aside, “my little
sister has done a dreadful thing, and she can’t be happy till you
forgive her.”

“Why, what has she done?” asked Miss Parker. “She learns wonderfully
fast. I am pleased with Dotty. She gives me more trouble than my little
Prudy did; but I like her very much. What has she done?”

“She told you a wrong story last night, Miss Parker. She and Tate Penny
whisper the whole time; but Dotty held up her hand in the class, and
you praised her for being good; but she says your kiss ’burnt her
mouth,’ and the moment she got out of the school-room it seemed as if
her heart would break.”

“I remember I praised her,” said Miss Parker, thoughtfully. “I never
dreamed she had deceived me.”

“Will you forgive her, Miss Parker? She wants to know if you certainly
do.”

“O, yes; you may tell her I forgive her,” replied the teacher, still
looking thoughtful. “But do you say she and Tate Penny both whisper?
Tate has a very honest face; and I have never seen her whisper.”

Prudy did not wonder at this; she remembered what a way Miss Parker had
of _not_ seeing.

“I _believe_ Tate whispers,” said Prudy; “but I ought not to have told
of it. I’m sorry.”

“I’m glad you did,” returned Miss Parker. “I’m glad you did. It is just
possible there may be other little girls who act the lie. I thought I
could read faces, but the best of us are liable to mistakes.”

Prudy hurried away, lest she should forget herself so far as to smile.
After she had gone, Miss Parker called Dotty to her side.

“Your sister has been telling me all about it,” putting her arm around
the child. “I forgive you freely.”

Dotty raised her face joyfully to meet her teacher’s kiss, and this
time it did not feel like a coal of fire on her lips.

“But you never will do so again, Dotty?”

“No’m, I don’t think I’ll ever.”

“And you’ll try, like a good little girl, not to whisper?”

Dotty put a corner of her apron in her mouth.

“You want me to love you, dear?”

“Yes’m.”

“And can’t you try not to whisper?”

“I don’t dare to.”

“Don’t dare?”

“No’m; I’m afraid I’d break it.”

“O, I only asked you to _try_.”

“Yes’m; I know.”

“It can’t hurt you to try.”

“Only it gets me cross.”

“Cross, Dotty? What an idea!”

“Makes my neck ache, and face ache.”

Miss Parker was amused. She did not know what the child meant.

“Yes’m, I tried yesterday, and you didn’t like it--two hours--’most
three.”

“Didn’t like it?”

“No’m; you said you’s _’stonished_. I shook my head, and shook my head,
and you told me to stop.”

“To be sure I did. But what had that to do with trying not to whisper?”

“O, ’cause I kept saying, ‘No, no, no,’ to Tate, and wouldn’t answer
her.”

“Did she whisper to you?”

Dotty wanted to say, “Yes’m, awfully,” but checked herself.

“I’d rather not say. My mamma doesn’t wish me to tell things, Miss
Parker. When it’s sober true that people do things, she won’t let me
tell.”

Miss Parker pressed Dotty a little closer to her side.

“Very well, my dear. But it seems that, at any rate, you talk to Tate,
and it makes your neck and face ache if you don’t talk; so perhaps I
ought to separate you. What do you think?”

“Yes’m; no’m; I don’t know.”

“But I think _I_ know, Dotty. I shall let you sit with Lina Rosenberg.
She is a very quiet child, and if you shut your lips together very
tight, I think you may keep from whispering.”

Dotty longed to say that her mother would not approve, for Lina was a
naughty girl.

“Would that be telling a tale?” thought she. And just as she had
decided that it would not be “a tale,” and it was her duty to tell it,
and just as she had opened her lips to inform Miss Parker that the
little Jewess had _betwitched_ her, Miss Parker rang the bell, and
there was not a moment’s time for another word.

The exchange was made. Dice Prosser (her true name was Lodoiska--too
long for every day) was taken away from Lina, and placed with Tate,
and Dotty and Lina were to sit together. It was not a pleasant
arrangement. Tate forgot that Dotty had called her the “wickedest girl
in the world,” and as the child went away, books and all, she bade her
farewell with her eyes.

As for Dice, she was one of the dull ones, whom nobody either likes or
dislikes. She had a half-awake look, as if she had been taken out of
bed and sent to school in the middle of a nap.

“I’d rather sit alone if I was Tate,” thought Dotty; “it would make me
real _lonesome_ to sit with Dice Prosser.”

Lina gave Miss Dimple a sweet smile.

“There, now,” whispered she, “I’m glad I’ve got somebody to talk to.”

“But you musn’t talk much, Lina Rosenbug, and I shan’t never answer
’thout I’m a mind to.”

“Why not?”

“O, ’cause I’m going to be rather good; not _dreadful_ good, but
_rather_ good. I’ve whispered too much, and now I’m going to take my
screw-up pencil, and make pictures, most o’ the time.”

“Well, good by, Dotty Dimple.”

“What do you mean by good by?”

“’Sh! I mean, don’t talk any more now, ’cause Miss Parker’s getting
ready to walk up the aisle.”

Lina began to study with all her might. Her teacher regarded her
as a very good girl, because she did her mischief slyly. Lina was
greatly interested in Dotty’s “screw-up pencil,” which had been a
Christmas present, and in the afternoon tried to make Dotty use hers in
exchange--a short wooden one; whose lead kept breaking off.

“But what do I want of such a thing, Lina Rosenbug? It won’t mark.”

“O, just squeeze it in your fingers, close down to the tip, and that
will hold in the broken pieces,” said Lina, coolly. “You ought to
let me use yours a while, ’cause you never lent me your sled all day
yesterday.”

“Nor shan’t all day to-morrow! Lina Rosenbug, you take _French leave_
with my things, and you know it.”

The little Jewess humbled herself at once, and gave back the “screw-up
pencil,” which Dotty hastily dropped in her pocket, for her class was
called. She thought no more about it that afternoon, being busy with
her slate; and then Lina was so funny! She had a bottle in the desk
with “bitters” in it, which she said her mother called “pancake drops;”
very good for dropsy, if taken every five minutes, “regular.” So, while
they were busy drawing pictures, Lina would suddenly drop her slate and
her head, and behind the covers of the desk she and her patient, Miss
Dimple, would take the medicine “regular.”

“Best thing in the world to break up fevers,” said Lina, gravely, as
she passed the “pancake drops” to Dotty--sugar and water, with essence
of peppermint thrown in. “My oldest son had the _log-jaw_, and it cured
him so he died; and then my youngest, she had the whirlymajig--”

“O, Lina Rosenbug, you stop! Seems’s if I should scream right out,”
gurgled Dotty; and as she spoke, a “pancake drop” went the wrong way,
and choked her.

“Less noise in the third seat,” said Miss Parker; whereupon Dotty
giggled outright.

“She is growing troublesome,” thought Miss Parker; “putting mischief
into Lina’s head, I fear.”

“Do you think you’ve been a good girl to-day, Dotty?” asked Miss
Parker, in the spelling class. But she did not say a word to any one
about the whispering, and it was a great relief.

“No’m,” replied Dotty, with a discouraged sigh.

“I believe you mean well,” added Miss Parker, kindly; “but you must not
tempt Lina to do wrong. You are quite too full of mischief, dear.”

“Not so full as Lina Rosenbug,” was on Dotty’s lips, but she did not
let it come out.

It was at this very moment that she missed her pencil. Feeling a little
nervous, she had unconsciously put her hand in her pocket.

“Why, where was her screw-up pencil?”

Dotty explored the depths of her pocket; there was no pencil there, and
no hole either.

“I put it in, and I never took it out; and where _did_ it go to?”

Dotty’s mind went into a fog, but suddenly came out as bright as a
sunbeam.

“That’s why Lina wanted to keep me drinking, so I shouldn’t remember;
and that was when she put her hand in and took it.”

Dotty could hardly wait for school to be out.

“Lina,” she cried, the moment they were out of doors, “I know what you
meant when you kept me drinking your bitters, and now I’ve found you
out! Who’d you s’pose stole my screw-up pencil? _You_ did!”

“Me? Me? O, what a story!”

“Yes, _you_!”

“Why, it’s in your pocket, Dotty Dimple. I haven’t seen it.”

Dotty went on without pity.

“It was a present to me, you horrid Lina RosenBUG! Will you give it to
me, now, this minute? This minute, Lina Rosen_bug_!”

“How can I give it to you, Dotty, when I haven’t got it myself?”

“O, but you have! I almost felt you when you did it.”

Lina clasped her hands together.

“I never, and I never, and I’ll keep saying it forever,” cried she,
looking very pale.

“O, Lina Rosenbug, I knew, in the first place, I oughtn’t to sit with
you, when you haven’t any mother to read the Bible to you--I mean she
never does; but it’s wicked and against the rule to steal. I tell you
so if you never heard of it before, and you’re an awful girl! I always
knew it, ever since I went to your house and staid all night.”

“But, Dotty--”

“O, you needn’t say Dotty to me!”

“But I never.”

“Yes, you did, for I _know_! And I’ll tell my father the minute I see
him! He won’t ’low little girls to steal the screw-up pencils that
people give me on the Christmas tree.”

“O, do hear me, Dotty!”

“Yes, I hear; only you tell what isn’t true, and the more you don’t
talk, the better you’ll feel!”

“O, dear! O, dear!”

“Do you feel sorry, then, Miss Rosenbug?”

“No, I’m sure I don’t, Miss Dimple! Why should I be sorry, when I never
did a thing?”

By this time, Lina’s face, which had been very pale, was flushing
crimson.

“O, you naughty, horrid girl!” cried Dotty, so loud that some of the
other children could not help hearing. “You dreadful girl! When they
take you and put you in the lock-up, and swear you to the jury, and the
mayor says, ‘It wasn’t your screw-up pencil; little girl, what did you
take it for?’ _then_ what’ll you do, Lina Rosenbug? O, then I guess
you’ll be sorry!”

“Now, Dotty Dimple, do hush! Don’t you see the girls are hearing?”

“Well, they ought to hear, for it’s the sober, honest truth, as ever
was in all this world, Lina Rosenbug!”



CHAPTER VI.

DOTTY AND LINA.


When Dotty reached home her eyes were blazing. A few tears would have
quenched their fire, but she had not the “gift of tears.” She ran all
over the house to find her mother, and tell the story of the screw-up
pencil; but Mrs. Parlin had gone out, and did not return till tea was
ready. By that time Dotty was calmer, and her father only observed that
her cheeks were unusually red.

“Well, chickie, how have things gone with you to-day? You have not had
very good lessons, I fancy.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Dotty, in an excited tone. “I didn’t miss but one
word, and that was the teacher’s fault; she put out ‘saw,’ but didn’t
say whether it was ‘I saw John,’ or a thing to chop wood with; so _of
course_, I spelled it s-e-w!”

Mr. Parlin laughed.

“Miss Parker should be more careful how she puts out words. Is it not
surprising how everybody contrives to cheat my little daughter, while
she herself so seldom makes mistakes?”

Dotty did not see that her papa was joking, and feeling very much
pleased with his remarks, she was about to pour out the story of her
trials, when Prudy said,--

“‘Saw? saw?’ Is that a preposition, papa, or an adverb?”

Mr. Parlin laughed again, and remarked to his wife that he thought
their children were “growing very learned.”

“Prudy,” said he, “you are attending the grammar school. Do you study
grammar?”

“Yes, sir, and like it ever so much,” replied Prudy, brightly.

“Do you know what a verb is?”

“O, yes, sir; it’s a word that signifies to be, to act, or to be acted
upon,” was the parrot-like reply.

“Very well. Now can you tell me what is the verb in this sentence:
‘John struck James with a big stick.’”

“O, yes, papa--_big stick_.”

“Indeed! Why so?”

“O, sir, because the stick was what he did it with. P’raps he wouldn’t
have dared strike him at all if he hadn’t had any stick!”

“O, what an idea!” cried wise Susy.

But her father and mother were not at all disturbed by Prudy’s
ignorance, and did not even try to set her right. In fact, they
thought she was too young to study grammar.

“But all this while we have not heard from Dotty,” said Mrs. Parlin;
“she began to speak a little while ago, and some of us interrupted her.”

“O, nothing, mamma, only Lina Rosenbug’s been stealing!”

“Stealing, Dotty!”

“Yes’m; my screw-up pencil.”

“Are you perfectly sure?”

“Yes, mamma; my pocket was next to her, and there’s where I put my
pencil.”

“Wait a minute,” said Mr. Parlin. “Your pocket’s being next to a person
doesn’t prove that that person has put his hand in it.”

“But if she didn’t, papa, who did?”

“I don’t know, my daughter; perhaps nobody. How would you like it if
Lina should say she knew you stole her mittens, just because they
happened to be hanging on a nail beside your cloak?”

“But, papa, I shouldn’t want to steal her mittens; they’re all full of
holes!”

Mr. Parlin said nothing more just then. It was so hard to reason with
the little girl, that one was obliged to choose one’s words with care.

“In the very first place, Dotty,” said her mother, “do you know you
have lost the pencil? Perhaps it is laid away in a book, or in your
desk, or there may be a hole in your pocket.”

“No, mamma; it isn’t anywhere at all, for I’ve looked in all those
places, and there’s no hole in my pocket, either. Lina was the one that
took it, ’cause she liked that pencil.”

“Be careful, Dotty.”

“O, I’m very careful. I just know she did it; and Mrs. Rosenbug
wouldn’t mind if she did.”

“Dotty, I cannot allow you to talk so.”

“Well, then, I won’t; but I went there once, and staid all night,
mamma, and that’s how I know about Mrs. Rosenbug and the dog. But I
couldn’t make her say she did it; she kept saying she never. I devised
her to give it right back. I told her I’d tell my papa, and when the
mayor took her to the jurymens, _then_ how’d she feel!”

“Why, Dotty, did you talk so to Lina?”

“O, I didn’t say much, mamma; only told her she was an awful, wicked,
horrid girl; and oughtn’t I to say so, you know? for it’s the black and
blue truth, mamma, and you wouldn’t want me to tell a lie!”

Dotty’s tongue was running at such a rate that it must be stopped at
once.

“You may go up stairs, Dotty, and get your grandmother’s knitting;
but do not let us hear another word about your pencil to-night.”

[Illustration: THE SCREW-UP PENCIL.--Page 81.]

After Dotty had gone to bed and forgotten her great wrong in a
refreshing sleep, Mrs. Parlin went into the child’s room, and took from
the closet her little red frock. She touched it with loving hands; for
there is something in the look of a little one’s clothes that goes
straight to a mother’s heart. She wished to make sure there was no hole
in the pocket. She turned it wrong side outward, and smiled as the
slate pencils, empty spools, buttons, strings, bits of licorice, and
wads of paper, fell into her lap.

“There is everything here _but_ the screw-up pencil,” said she to
herself; “and I see no place where that could have crept out. But what
is this?”

The skirt of the dress was lined, and just where the pocket went in
was a rent an inch long.

“She might have put the pencil in there; let me see.”

So Mrs. Parlin examined, and found that a long and slender substance
had dropped down to the bottom of the skirt. She put in her finger, and
drew out the screw-up pencil.

“Poor little Lina! You have been unjustly accused! It grieves me that
my daughter has such a hasty spirit.”

Dotty was greatly surprised, in the morning, to see the pencil lying on
her pillow.

“But perhaps it is not yours,” said her mother; “it may belong to Tate
Penny, or some other little girl.”

“O, mamma Parlin, here’s a place where I scratched it with a pin. What
made you think I didn’t know my own pencil?”

“Why, you said Lina had taken that.”

“But she didn’t, mamma,” said Dotty, casting down her eyes.

“Excuse me, dear, but you said you ‘just _knew_’ she did.”

“I meant--I--just _thought_.”

“Ah, indeed! You only thought?”

“Yes’m.”

“And just because you thought, although you couldn’t know, you called
Lina an ‘awful, wicked, horrid girl.’”

“I truly s’posed she was, mamma,” said Dotty, with her finger in her
mouth.

“Your ‘truly s’poses’ are very cruel things, Dotty. What is going to be
done with that little fiery tongue of yours?”

Dotty touched the tip of it, and felt very much as if she would like to
pull it out by the roots.

“I don’t know, mamma.”

“Of course you will ask Lina’s pardon for accusing her falsely.”

“Yes’m.”

“And after this I do hope my little girl will beware of hasty
judgments.”

“Yes’m.”

Dotty was very eager to atone for her fault. The moment she saw Lina,
she held up the pencil, exclaiming,--

“You didn’t take it, Lina Rosenbug; now I know you didn’t, for here it
is; came out of my dress--and I’m sorry I said so.”

“There, there, I knew you’d find it,” said Lina, highly delighted.

“I shall be certain sure, next time, before I tell a person they _did_
steal,” added Dotty, penitently. “Will you forgive me?”

“O, yes, I forgive you,” replied Lina, with a toss of her pretty head:
“only you’d better not say so again. What’d you think if I should ’cuse
_you_ of stealing?”

“O, you wouldn’t,” said Dotty, quickly. “You’d know better than to
s’pose _I’d_ steal.”

“Why, Dotty Dimple! that’s the same as to say _I_ would.”

“O, no, Lina, I don’t think that. I wouldn’t be so wicked! But I don’t
like to have you sit next to my pocket, though. Won’t you please to
change places?”

On the whole, it did not appear that Dotty’s apologies had made a bad
matter any better. Still she thought she had done her duty, and entered
the school-room with a serene face.

Lina walked behind her, looking very sullen.



CHAPTER VII.

“BLOWING AWAY.”


Things went on very much as usual with Miss Dimple. Lina did not quite
forgive her for her unjust suspicions; still the two little girls
chatted together, and seemed to be friends, for Lina knew how to keep
her anger out of sight.

“But I don’t like to sit with her, though,” said Dotty to Tate. “I
don’t think she’s very _respectiful_.”

“I don’t think she is, either,” responded Tate, rolling those eyes
of hers, which, Dotty said, looked like little bits of balls of gray
stocking-yarn, with a black pin in the middle. “I don’t think she is,
either, and I know why.”

“Why she isn’t respectiful?” said Dotty.

“Yes; you tell me why _you_ think so, and then I’ll tell you why _I_
think so.”

“Well, ’cause,” said Dotty, “her mother sells _locker_ beer, and snips
with a thimble, and keeps _such_ a dog; and then they--O, I don’t know
what; but they don’t seem very respectiful at that house. Now _you_
tell why.”

“I think it’s because there’s so much dirt on her dresses,” said Tate,
lowering her voice; “and that’s what I always thought.”

“There isn’t any more dirt on her dresses than there is on her aprons,”
rejoined Dotty, “and not quite so much; but any way, I don’t want to
sit with her, and she keeps me whispering just as much as you do.”

“Nor I don’t like to sit with that Dice Prosser,” said Tate; “she’s
just like a rubber baby.”

“Look here, Tate: you and I are the best kind of friends.”

“Yes, indeed, Dotty Dimple.”

“When I said you’s the wickedest girl there is in this state, I didn’t
mean so, Tate!”

“Of course you didn’t mean so, for you couldn’t,” replied good-natured
Tate.

“No! I like you ever so much,” said Dotty, with emphasis, “only I don’t
like you about your holding up your hand, nights, for that’s a lie.”

“But I haven’t held it up for the longest while, Dotty Dimple.”

“No; because Miss Parker has stopped asking if we whisper. What you
s’pose made her stop? You’d do it just the same, Tate, if she asked
us; but then I forgive you; you are some bad, but not so bad as Lina
Rosenbug. It can’t hurt me if you do tell stories with your hands, and
I want to sit with you again.”

“And so do I want to sit with you, Dot Dimple.”

“Miss Parker’s such a darling,” continued Dotty, “and that’s what I
began to say in the first place: who knows but if we ask her in just
the prettiest way--”

“Not to-day, but to-morrow,” said Tate; “wait and I’ll wear my ruffled
apron, and we’ll go up to her together and tell her--”

“O, no, Tate, we mustn’t tell her Lina isn’t respectiful! P’r’aps she
doesn’t know it, and it would be telling a tale. We’ll take hold of
hands, and say, we want to be together, ’cause we’re the best friends
that ever was, and mean to be as good as ladies.”

“Yes, that’s it,” said Tate; and the children parted at the foot of a
blackened elm, which they called “the half-way tree.” It was the place
where they usually parted at night with a mutual kiss.

It happened that the next day was stormy, so Tate could not wear her
ruffled apron.

“It looks as if we were going to have a heavy snow-storm,” said Mrs.
Parlin, looking out of the window. “Edward, is it best to let Alice go
to school?”

“O, yes, I think so,” said Mr. Parlin, “you are not very tender--are
you, chickie?”

Dotty had two little front pockets in her wrapper, and they were full
of pop-corn.

“No, papa,” said she, “I’m ever so tough,” and went on sprinkling salt
into her pockets from the salt-box with holes in the top. “No, papa, I
want to go to school to-day very _partic’lar_. I wouldn’t stay at home
if the snow came down as big as this pop-corn.”

So Dotty was put into a water-proof cloak, and went with her two
sisters; no more afraid of the storm than a snow-bird wrapped in his
feathers.

“You here? O, ho!” said Tate, putting her arm around Dotty; “they like
to not let me come; but I told ’em you and I had some business.”

“That’s what I told my mother,” said Dotty; “now let’s go right up to
Miss Parker, and ask her.”

“No, I _dassent_, Dotty Dimple, my heart beats so; let’s wait till
noon.”

The children waited, and meanwhile it snowed as if the sky were
falling. Down fell the flakes, and the wind, whistling in glee, played
with them, blowing them hither and yon. The air was so full of the
white mass that Dotty thought the whole world looked as if it was
shrouded in spotted lace. And presently it was not like lace; it was
like sheets waving to and fro, and you could barely catch the faintest
glimpses of trees and houses. It seemed as if the children in the
school-room were shut out from the rest of the world; yet the door that
shut them out was made of the softest snow.

“I had no idea of such a storm,” thought Miss Parker; “how are all
these children to get home to dinner?”

But very soon the principal of the grammar school, up stairs, sent her
a note, saying it was thought best not to dismiss school at noon, but
have “a long session.”

Miss Parker was glad of this, for she knew, if her little pupils went
home, their parents would not be likely to send them back in the
afternoon. She heard all the morning lessons, and then gave a half
hour’s recess, telling the children they might walk about the room and
whisper; but they would not wish, she said, to go out of doors in such
a storm.

There was a deal of buzzing and promenading. Tate and Dotty marched
around, holding each other by the hand, and humming “John Brown,” under
breath.

“Now’s the time to go up to Miss Parker; she’s only eating an apple,”
said Dotty.

“No, I dassent yet; let’s wait till just before the bell rings,”
replied easy Tate, who never would do anything disagreeable till the
last minute.

“Well, then,” said Dotty, “let’s go to the window and look out. Did you
_ever_, Tate Penny? Don’t you s’pose angels have wings?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Well, don’t you s’pose, when the little boys-and-girls angels get to
playing up there, the small feathers pop out?”

“I don’t know.”

“And neither don’t I; only P’R’APS they do, and p’r’aps that’s snow.”

“The Bible don’t say so,” said Tate, “and besides, they wouldn’t play
hard enough.”

“O, but the angels have such tender wings,” said Dotty, confidently.
“Now, if you had ’em on _your_ back, and I should hit you just so--not
hard a bit--how the feathers would fly!”

To make her meaning clear, Dotty gave Tate’s shoulder a gentle pat,
which would have done no harm if Tate had not been resting on one foot;
but as she was, and the floor just in that spot was slippery, she
fell against a desk, and made her nose bleed. She used first her own
handkerchief, then Dotty’s, till both were drenched, and Dotty had a
wild impulse to offer her the pockets of her wrapper.

“O, dear, I’m so sorry, Tate Penny! Your nose is just like an inkstand;
every time anybody touches it, it tips over.”

“It isn’t any matter,” whispered Tate, “only I shall bleed the floor,
and bleed my dress. I want to go home, and haven’t any apron on.”

“Here, take my slate, Tate Penny, and the sponge, too, while I ask Miss
Parker if I mayn’t go home with you.”

“Tate has got the nose-bleed, Miss Parker,” said Dotty, “both sides
of her nose, and I was the one that did it, but ’twas _untennyshal_.
Mayn’t I take her home before she bleeds the house all up? She’s got it
real hard, both sides, Miss Parker.”

The earnest look in Dotty’s eyes was not to be resisted. Miss Parker
forgot the weather, and consented. She knew Tate lived very near the
school-house; but she did not reflect that in this whizzing storm it
was almost unsafe for such young children to walk even a short distance.

The little girls hurried on their cloaks and hoods, and started out,
Miss Parker going into the entry with them, and giving Tate her own
handkerchief, saying,--

“Use snow, my dear. I wouldn’t come back to school, for you won’t feel
like it. Dotty, perhaps you’d better not go; it’s a terrible storm, and
Tate can do as well alone.”

But Dotty insisted, and Miss Parker said no more. If she had only
opened the outside door she would have seen at once what an imprudent
thing she was allowing the children to do; but instead of opening the
door, she turned and entered the school-room.

Dotty and Tate passed out into the storm. The wind shrieked at them
like some wild animal, and rushed upon them as if it were seeking its
prey.

“O, O, Tate Penny,” said Dotty catching her breath, “it’s going to blow
us to which ways!”

“There’s snow enough, and more too; but I can’t--catch it,” gasped
Tate, “to stop my--nose with--for the wind won’t let me--keep still
a--mi--mi--minute.”

“Why, why! here I am, blowed down,” cried Dotty; and next moment Tate
blew down too.

“Let’s go back to school,” said she, with a tremulous sigh.

But this was not to be thought of, for as they turned around, they were
choked by a powerful gust.

“’Twill blow us _out_,” wailed Dotty, feeling like a feeble candle
breathed upon by a giant.

Tate’s nose had ceased to bleed; but as they were now outside the
school-yard, they decided to keep on, especially as they could not help
it.

“We don’t walk,” observed Dotty, helplessly; “we blow.”

Still it was a hard struggle, for the snow was very deep indeed.

“What store is this?” said Tate, suddenly, after they had waded along
in moody silence for quarter of an hour. “_What_ store is it?”

“Don’t you know the way to your own mother’s house?” returned Dotty,
falling head first into a drift.

“Yes; but where are we going to now? There used to be, O, Dotty, there
used to be a house here, and now it’s a _store_.”

“Tate Penny, I never saw such a girl!”

“Yes, it is; I mean it was; and now what’s this?”

“Why, it’s a burnt place,” said Dotty; “don’t you know anything, Tate?”

“A burnt place? We don’t live near a burnt place. I don’t know where we
are any more,” said Tate, sitting down and beginning to cry.

Dotty looked around quite bewildered. Neither did she know where they
were. She presumed they must be in Portland, for they had not had time
to be blown out of the city. Yes, it was Portland; but what street? The
late fire had swept away all the old “landmarks,” and where there had
been buildings were now only black ruins. Tate and Dotty were not the
first who had been confused by these heaps of brick and mortar; many
older people had lost their way that winter.

Dotty tried to peer through the moving sheets of snow-flakes, but only
grew more and more confused.

“This must be somewhere else,” concluded she, “somewhere else--a great
way off.”

“May be it’s Cape ’Liz’beth,” said Tate, crying afresh.

“Tate Penny, get up, or you’ll die; that’s the way to freeze to death.”

“I want to die,” moaned Tate.

“You stop it; stop dying this minute,” screamed Dotty.

Tate rose drearily, but let the wind blow her down again.

“O, dear, Tate Penny, I wish your nose didn’t bleed so easy!”

“Well, it does; but when I’m dead it won’t.”

“Tate, Tate, we can’t ever be buried in the _stemmitry_!”

“Why not?”

“’Cause, we shall blow into the Stiftic Ocean.”

“Do you s’pose we’ll die?” said poor Tate, her eyes dripping icicles.

“No, _I_ shan’t,” replied Dotty; “but you said _you_ should.”

Tate really did not know whether to keep her word or not. She thought
she did not care.

“But if you do die, you’ll be dreadful ’shamed of it,” went on Dotty;
“and there won’t anybody pity you.”

“I’m willing to go,” said Tate, wringing her hands, “I’m willing to go,
and keep going; but I don’t know where to go to.”

As she spoke they had reached a corner. “Where to go to,” they might
well ask, for the wind started up afresh, and, instead of blowing two
ways, it blew four. It sent the children towards the west, and in the
next instant hurled them north, against a lamp-post.

“I shouldn’t think it need to act so to us little girls,” said Tate,
despairingly.

“O, dear,” cried Dotty. “O, _dear_, dear, Tate Penny, I’m going to give
up!”

Tate shrieked aloud. If Dotty gave up they were certainly lost.



CHAPTER VIII.

IS YOUR NAME SOLOMON?


All this while, Mr. Parlin, doing business in the city, and his wife,
sewing by her cheerful fire, had neither of them felt any anxiety about
their children. Why should they? They supposed them safe at school.

At one o’clock, as the storm was still increasing, Mr. Parlin went
after them with a horse and sleigh. Susy and Prudy muffled themselves
and danced down stairs in high glee, for such a fearful storm as this
was an event in their lives. But where was Dotty? Their father came out
of the primary room with a pale face, and Miss Parker followed him,
repeating,--

“I am sure, Mr. Parlin, there is nothing to fear. She only went to Mrs.
Penny’s with Sarah--not an eighth of a mile. You turn down ---- street,
and it is the first house you see on the right,--brown, with green
blinds.”

“Yes, yes, I understand, Miss Parker; but I wonder you dared let such
little ones go out of the yard. I trust it is all right; but if I were
in your place, I would not allow it again.”

Mr. Parlin told Susy and Prudy to wait while he went to Mrs. Penny’s
with the sleigh. Of course, when he got there, the Pennys knew nothing
about the children, and were in a great fright on being informed that,
more than an hour ago, Tate had started for home with Dotty.

Mrs. Penny was a widow; she had no one to send in search of her missing
child but her son Ben, a lad of fourteen, who was just recovering from
a slow fever.

“I must go, mother,” pleaded Ben; “I can’t stand it to sit here and do
nothing.”

His mother helped him draw on his overcoat, and then, with trembling
fingers, she wound a shawl about his hectic cheeks.

“You go down by the Back Cove, and I’ll drive to Munjoy,” said Mr.
Parlin, hoarsely.

But first he had to go to the school-house for Susy and Prudy. He
would have let them wait, but feared their mother would be anxious. He
hurried them home with scarcely a word. They ran into the house very
merrily, just as he had meant they should do; and when their mother
cried out,--

“Ah, my little snow-images, where’s Dotty?” they said, gayly,--

“O, she’s gone to Tate Penny’s; father went for her; it’s something
about the nose-bleed.”

Mrs. Parlin did not think twice of the matter. She had as much as she
could do to shake the children’s clothes, and listen to their lively
prattle about the snow-storm.

“Was there ever anything like it when you were a little girl?” said
one. “And can there be a _flood_ of snow? The rainbow isn’t any sign,
is it, only about the rain?” said another.

“It appears to me,” remarked Mrs. Parlin, looking at the clock, “your
papa is gone a long while. I thought Mrs. Penny lived very near?”

“So she does,” answered Prudy. “I’m afraid Tate is sick.”

Mrs. Parlin feared so too, and that her husband was needed to go for
the doctor. It must be dreadful, she thought, for people to be sick
in such a terrible storm. It had not occurred to her, as yet, to be
alarmed about her child.

The storm was all this time increasing, till Mr. Parlin could see
neither the road nor his horse, and the poor animal scarcely knew
whether he was wading through clouds or snow-drifts.

“It certainly is not strange the children should lose their way,”
thought Mr. Parlin. “I must have a care, or I shall lose mine, too.”

As his horse was only a hinderance, he took him back to the stable, and
pursued his way on foot.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now we will return to the little ones, and see what they were doing.

Dotty had said she was going to give up; still she struggled on, and
Tate followed, crying out,--

“If we die you’ll say ’twas me did it; but who hit my nose?”

“O, Tate, I don’t want to talk. I don’t _want_ to talk!”

“And who tried to go back to the school-house, Dotty Dimple, but you
wouldn’t? And then we’d have been alive now!”

Dotty did not listen. She was thinking about the whooping-cough. Had
she been saved from it in her babyhood, and lived six years, to meet
with such a doom at last?

“My mamma said I had the whooping-cough so my face was purple. She
thought I’d die in it; but I never. I lived over it, and the purple
went off, and I’ve been alive ever since till to-day. O, my mamma
didn’t think this morning how I was going to die before she’d see me
again! She’d have kissed me a million times for good by; she’d have
hugged me like everything! And then, after she’d cried her eyes out,
she’d have said, ‘Dotty, take off your water proof, dear; I don’t want
my little girl to go to school and never come home any more.’

“My father didn’t know what he’s doing, when he said I wasn’t tender!
He thought I’d cough to death when I was little; he didn’t know this
was a great deal worse’n the whooping-cough.”

Unhappy Dotty! Unhappy Tate! Two forlorn little creatures, fighting
against a terrible fate!

“There don’t anybody care what ’comes of us,” said Dotty aloud, at
last. “There isn’t anybody anywhere, Tate Penny, and nothing in this
world but just snow!”

“O, dear,” echoed Tate, hugging herself. “I never was so cold but just
once, and then my mother rolled me in a shawl.”

“You never’ll see your mother again,” said Dotty, in a hard tone, as if
she took a grim pleasure in it; “never again; nor your house, nor your
brother Ben, nor your little sister Tid. O, no! Just ’cause your nose
bleeds so easy.”

“You stop saying that, Dotty Dimple; it’s bad enough--”

“O, Tate, what you s’pose I care about your nose? Miss Parker was the
most to blame. Only think, little things like us, in the _Primary’s_
Department! And to send us off to freeze!”

“She’ll feel dreadfully to-morrow,” said Tate; “don’t you believe
they’ll put it in the papers?”

“I see something black,” exclaimed Dotty, “it’s a boy!”

At that moment Enoch Rosenberg approached, his face almost hidden under
a cloth cap and red comforter.

Dotty sprang upon him.

“O, Solly,” cried she, “Solly Rosenbug! _Is_ your name Solomon? I know
your _brother’s_ is!”

“No; my name’s Enoch,” replied the tall youth. “There’s only one
Solomon in the family. Is this the little Parlin girl? What are you
doing down this way?”

“O, Solly, Solly,” gasped Dotty; and then her strength failed, and she
sank at his feet.

Of course Tate did not keep up another second after that, but fell
across Dotty with a smothered groan.

“Here’s pretty doings!” thought Enoch; “two little young ones froze to
death, and no house in sight! What were their folks thinking of, to let
’em out in such a trimmer of a storm? None o’ _my_ business; much as I
can do to take care o’ myself.”

But Enoch had a heart, after all, and could not leave the children to
perish. He took Tate in his arms, she being the lighter of the two,
and, as he could see, the fainter-hearted, and bade Dotty follow.

“I can’t,” said she, feebly.

“Nonsense! yes, you can, too.”

Dotty did not rise.

This would never do. Enoch held up Tate with his left hand, and with
his right raised Dotty and shook her fiercely.

“Now come along,” said he; “if you don’t, I’ll call the dog.”

[Illustration: A FRIEND IN NEED.--Page 112.]

Dotty roused at once. Enoch’s words scattered the mist which was
spreading over her thoughts, just as his mother’s scolding scattered
the cobwebs from the rafters. Dotty found she was not dead yet, and,
more than that, she was not going to allow herself to be killed by a
dog that belonged to the Rosenberg family. So she clung to Enoch, and
struggled on. She hardly knew whether it was hours or minutes, for
time was in a blur, like everything else; but by and by they came to a
house.

Enoch walked in without knocking. A woman, with a baby in her arms,
cried out, “Mercy on us!” dropped the baby into a cradle, and, seizing
Tate, began to pull off her hood and cloak.

“Fly round, Martha Jane,” said she to her daughter; “take the other
one, and rub her hands as quick as you can! Susan Ellen, fetch the
camphor-bottle! Where did these children come from?”

And without waiting for an answer, she ran for hot water and ginger.

“Drink this,” said she, coming back with a steaming bowl, whose
contents she stirred with a spoon. She was almost obliged to open the
little girls’ mouths before she could make them swallow.

“O, mother,” said Martha Jane, tearfully, “don’t you remember the lamb
I told you about last year, at uncle Sam’s? how stiff its little jaws
were? We had to hold them apart, just this way, to pour down pepper
tea.”

Dotty looked up at the big girl in a green dress with a foolish smile.

“Am I a little sheep?” thought she, and closed her eyes.

She felt somebody tucking her into a warm bed. Her clothes had been
removed, and there were nice blankets and shawls wrapped about her from
head to foot. Then she fancied she was a baby with a purple face, dying
of whooping-cough. That there was such a little girl as Tate Penny,
she had quite forgotten. And Tate, who lay near her, had forgotten all
about Dotty, and her own unfortunate nose. Mrs. Harris stood watching
them with enough motherly kindness in her heart to have warmed them,
body and soul.

“Bless the little dears, they look all right now, and will be asleep in
two minutes; but I assure you, Martha Jane, I thought, when they first
came in, it was a pretty hard chance; they wouldn’t have stood it out
doors much longer.”

Enoch was waiting in the next room. He was glad to hear the children
were doing so well; but he did not say so, and hurried away with a
cross face, as if he had already wasted a great deal of time.

“Call at Mrs. Parlin’s without fail,” said Mrs. Harris, “or else at the
school-house.”

“It’s a good two miles to either place,” grumbled Enoch; “and it isn’t
exactly summer weather, you’d better believe.”

“O, but their folks must be told where they are!” persisted Mrs.
Harris. “Do go--there’s a good boy! I’ve nobody but girls, and can’t
send!”

Enoch slammed the door after him, leaving kind Mrs. Harris in a fever
of uncertainty whether he meant to go to Mr. Parlin’s or not.



CHAPTER IX.

A LONG NIGHT.


Mr. Parlin found it very hard to push his way through the drifts, with
the storm beating on all sides, and every snow-flake pricking like a
needle. He thought of Ben Penny, and was almost afraid the sick lad
would perish. It seemed to make very little difference which direction
he took, since one was as likely to be right as another. As he was
going down Congress Street, some one touched his arm.

“Look here, sir; be you Mr. Parlin?”

Enoch Rosenberg had spent several years with a farmer in the backwoods,
and did not talk very correctly. “The school-mistress says you’re
round after that little girl o’ yourn.”

“Yes, yes; what do you know of her?”

“Why, I’ve come to tell you she’s safe and sound, and t’other little
one too.”

“Are you sure? Is it true? Where are they? Speak quick!”

“At Mr. Harris’s--two miles off--no, considerable scant of two
miles--down yonder. They’d have been as dead as door-nails, both of
’em, if I hadn’t happened to have catched up with ’em. One of ’em, she
hollered out to me, and then they fell down, one top o’ the other, as
near froze as ever you see.”

“But how do you know they are safe now; tell me that!”

“I took ’em to Mr. Harris’s; that’s how I know. I had to scold
considerable sharp, and make believe I’se going to set a dog on ’em,
afore I could bring ’em to.”

Mr. Parlin drew his hand across his eyes. He could not bear to think
his tender child had been in such horrible danger.

“What is your name, my young friend?” said he, offering his hand to
Enoch; “and how did you know me? Call round to my office to-morrow; I
want to see you again. This is not the time or place to thank you as
you deserve.”

Enoch’s black eyes glittered. He understood that Mr. Parlin meant to
give him some money, and this was just what he had expected, for he
remembered the liberal reward bestowed on his mother for taking care of
Dotty a day or two.

“Yes, sir,” replied he, thinking, “he’ll come down with something
handsome! I ain’t a mite afraid but he will. Guess I wouldn’t a’ taken
this tramp for nothing!”

Mr. Parlin hastened to Mrs. Penny. He found her pacing the floor, and
staring straight before her with fixed eyes.

“Good news,” said he; “the children are safe.”

Mrs. Penny screamed as if he had struck her.

“Safe,” repeated he; “they are at Mrs. Harris’s. I know the woman--one
of the kindest souls living.”

Mrs. Penny screamed again, and wrung her hands. Mr. Parlin feared she
was losing her reason; but very soon tears began to flow, and the
weight on her brain gave way.

“If you can rest easy,” said Mr. Parlin, “I do not think it will be
best to bring the children home to-day. After this great fright and
exposure, they need rest.”

“O, no; don’t go for them,” cried Mrs. Penny. “I beg you won’t go for
them; I can’t have my little Tate face such a storm again!”

Mr. Parlin turned to open the door; but Mrs. Penny was too excited to
stop talking.

“Only think of my letting her go to school to-day! She said to me, ‘O,
ma, I must go; for Dotty Dimple and I have an engagement!’ She thinks
there’s nobody like Dotty Dimple!”

Mr. Parlin turned the knob, but Mrs. Penny continued.

“The child came home one night very much agitated, and wanted to
know why I didn’t make her be good, like Dotty Dimple. I told her I
couldn’t; she must try for herself. ‘But, ma,’ said she, ‘you ought to
pray to me, and make me be good; that’s what Dotty Dimple’s mother does
to her! Dotty says, if our Nancy put her to bed, she shouldn’t be any
better’n me!’”

Mr. Parlin laughed.

“Our little daughter thinks very well of herself,” said he; “and
that is the most discouraging thing about her. Good by, Mrs. Penny.
To-morrow, as soon as the storm is over, I will go for the children.”

“Good by, sir; and send my boy back, if you find him.”

“Good by, thir,” said a little dumpling of a girl, called Tid, peeping
out from behind the closet door.

“My precious Tate,” thought Mrs. Penny, earnestly; “if I ever get her
home again, I will take more pains with her. I presume Nancy doesn’t
hear her say her prayers half the time. She seems inclined to tell
wrong stories lately; who knows but I could break up the habit, if, as
Dotty Dimple says, I put her to bed myself?”

Mr. Parlin overtook Ben Penny, and helped him home. By that time he
longed for shelter: but how could he rest until he had seen for himself
that Dotty was safe? The Rosenberg boy had no doubt intended to tell
the truth, but there might be some mistake; so the anxious father went
all the way to Mr. Harris’s, and, when he arrived there, found the
children fast asleep.

“Do stay and rest yourself, sir,” said Mrs. Harris. “You look as if you
couldn’t walk another step.”

“Thank you,” replied Mr. Parlin; “an hour’s rest would be very welcome;
but I dare not take it; it is growing late.”

The tired man set out again. By the time he reached home, he was so
exhausted that he could scarcely speak.

“Why, my dear husband, what is the matter?” said Mrs. Parlin; “and
where is Dotty?”

“Safe,” replied Mr. Parlin from the depths of a sofa pillow, “safe!”

“Safe?”

“Yes, at Mrs. Harris’s.”

“At Mrs. Harris’s, Edward? What is she doing there?”

“Having a good nap.”

“Sleeping at this time of day?”

“Yes; you see she got thoroughly chilled.”

“Chilled?”

“Yes; she and that Penny child lost their way.”

“Lost their way? When? Where?”

“Going from the school-house to Mrs. Penny’s.”

Prudy was excessively amused.

“Why, papa, the road isn’t any longer’n my little finger!”

“But this snow, my dear, is a great deal deeper than your finger. I
fear we shall hear of sad accidents, for it will prove one of the
worst storms ever known in New England.”

It was a fearful night. The wind shrieked and rattled the windows, and
shook the storm-door. One would have thought a legion of wretched,
starving beggars were prowling about the house, pleading to be let in.
And still it was nothing but the wind.

“I wish my children were all at home,” sighed Mrs. Parlin, every time
the shrieks wakened her. “I know Mrs. Harris will take good care of
Dotty; but I don’t like to have my little girl away from me on such a
night as this.”

At the same time Dotty Dimple was lying in a room whose walls were
papered so strangely, that she thought the pictures kept her awake even
in the dark. A boy pumping water for some cows--she wondered why the
water didn’t freeze; and a lady “jumping the rope with a shawl.” Then
the bedstead had very high posts, with a ball stuck upon every one,
like a head on a pin.

“People do have such queer things in their houses that it keeps me
awake,” thought Dotty, who had been asleep most of the afternoon.

“And there’s Tate, now--nothing keeps her awake. I wish she was; but I
don’t dare touch her for fear she’ll have the nose-bleed.”

The wind seized the house between its teeth and shook it.

“O, my!” thought Dotty, “where are we going to? S’pose this house
should blow to Europe, and my father’s house should blow to Boston!
But there needn’t anybody think I can help it, for I can’t. It wasn’t
running away. Miss Parker said we might; and I don’t s’pect my papa
knows this minute.”

Dotty was so homesick that Mrs. Harris had not mentioned her father’s
visit.

“That Solly Rosenbug, that’s called something else,--I’ve forgot his
name,--he won’t remember to tell him. My father’ll have to print me in
the papers. ‘My daughter Alice, with a calico wrapper on. Have you seen
her? Little pockets in, and a pair of red mittens.’ Nobody has ever
seen me, the snow was so thick; and when they are so scared they can’t
speak a word, then I shall get there; but not go through the cellar
window, though, ’cause I didn’t run away, and couldn’t help it. I was
doing just right.

“How they’ll feel! And what’s the first words grandma’ll say? I know.
She always says ’em after I’ve had a dreadful time, and didn’t get
drowned, or die,--

“‘He gave his angels a _charger of_, concerning thee.’

“I don’t know what she means by an ‘angel a charger of.’ P’r’aps ’twill
be Solly Rosenbug, she means; but she don’t know how he looks, or she
wouldn’t call _him_ an angel!”

It was a long night to Dotty. For the endless space of two hours she
lay sad and homesick, thinking how dreary it was without her mother.
In the morning the storm was past; but the wind, which had not slept
a wink all night, started up as fresh as ever. When Dotty looked out
of the window, there lay the world, all dead and buried, nothing to be
seen but mounds of snow.

“The streets are gone,” said Dotty, “and everything else. You could
ride top o’ the houses, and not know the difference. The trees look as
if they were sound asleep and being rocked, with their night-caps on.
Horses sleep standing up; so do trees, too.”

“My mother didn’t sleep,” said Tate. “I know she must a’ laid awake and
cried. She can’t eat a speck o’ breakfast, and Nancy’ll bring her some
toast in bed.”

“My mamma never eats in bed,” said Dotty; “she doesn’t think it’s
proper; but she’ll look paler’n your mother does, for I’m her youngest
child!”

“Did you think my mother didn’t love me as well as she did Tid?” asked
Tate, in an injured tone, tracing a little rivulet with her finger-nail
on the frosted pane.

“O, dear! I don’t care how much she loves you, Tate, if my father’d
only come and take me home.”

“Cheer up, children,” said Mrs. Harris; “he’ll be here soon; just as
soon as the men can cut a road through the drifts. Now come and eat
your breakfasts, dears.”

“She heard what you said, Tate Penny! You always talk so loud!”
whispered Dotty.



CHAPTER X.

SAFE AT HOME.


It was nearly noon before Mr. Parlin could go for the children. Dotty
was received at home as joyfully as if she had been gone on a long
journey.

“Kiss me all you’re going to, Prudy,” said she, as she sat in her
mother’s lap, with her sisters kneeling before her, “’cause, when
you’ve kissed me enough, I want to put some _canther ice_ on my lips,
the wind has scorched ’em so.”

“It’s splendid that you didn’t freeze,” said Susy; “but what is the
reason you are always getting into such awful fixes, Dotty Dimple?”

Dotty sat upright and looked down on Susy with an air of injured
innocence.

“It wasn’t _my_ fix this time, Susy Parlin; it was Tate Penny’s. And do
you think my conscience pricks? No, indeed!”

“O, no,” said Prudy, quickly; “it is so different--”

She was about to add, “from running away,” but checked herself.

“Yes, Prudy, I didn’t run away this time, truly; I _blowed_ away.
Why, I couldn’t have helped it, mamma, not if I’d been the mayor, and
’bliged to put myself in the lock-up for it!”

“No, dear; we understand.”

“I didn’t think I’d ever sit in my own mother’s lap again. I gave up,
and my head went tipside over. Then Solly Rosenbug said he’d set the
dog on me. There wasn’t any dog! I shouldn’t think he’d talk so to a
froze girl--should you? that never did a thing, only hold on to his
jacket?”

“But, dear,” said grandma Read, chafing Dotty’s hands, “through the
mercy of God, the boy saved thy life!”

“I s’pose so,” said Dotty, solemnly; “was he an angel _a charger of_?”

“What does thee mean, Alice?”

“No’m, I didn’t s’pose he was; I knew he wasn’t.”

Dotty hastened to change the subject.

“Grandma’ll think I’m a _nidiot_,” she reflected, “to call _him_ an
angel, with a comforter on, and fibbed about a dog!”

“Mamma, what is the sky made of, that makes it so blue?”

“What we call the sky, Dotty, is only atmosphere, or air. I cannot
explain it to you; it seems blue because it is so far away.”

“Why, that was what made _me_ so ‘blue’ last night, ’cause _I_ was so
far away.”

“Pshaw!” said Susy; “it’s nonsense for such a little girl as you are to
talk about the ‘blues.’ If you have them so much, I’m afraid they’ll
settle in your nose, and you’ll be a ‘Blue Nose,’ like Norah.”

“O, what did Norah say when I didn’t come home? I’m going out to see.”

“Norah,” cried Dotty, bursting into the kitchen, “you never came in to
ask if I was froze to death!”

Norah set down her flat-iron and kissed the child.

“Didn’t I know for sure you wasn’t last night, when your father came
home and told us? And wouldn’t it have broke my heart if you’d died in
the storm?”

“Would it, though, Norah? Then your heart must be hard; a soft one
couldn’t break!”

“Well, well, Miss Dimple, you’re the first one ever told me my heart
was hard!”

“Turn your face round, Norah. Why, ’tisn’t blue; the end of it’s red!”

“What’s red?”

“Your nose. I _thought_ it wasn’t blue!”

“Pretty talk that is, now,” exclaimed Norah, angrily. “If mother and I
had come straight from Ireland, it’s Paddies we’d be. But if we stopped
in Nova Scotie, it’s Blue Noses; and that’s all the manners there is in
this country, for sure.”

Dotty was rather glad to have made a sensation.

“It’s ’cause your mother is so far away, Norah; that’s why they say her
nose is so blue, like the sky up there. I cannot explain it to you, but
that’s the reason why.”

Norah’s little flash of temper died out in a laugh. She would not allow
herself to be angry with such a simple little child.

“Never mind about noses,” said she, pleasantly. “Here’s something I
baked for you this morning.”

It was a little custard pie, with a delicate surface of sugar frosting.

“O, thank you, ever so much! I’ll never call your nose blue again. Your
mother’s is, but yours isn’t.”

Dotty skipped away to show the pie to her sisters.

“Norah wouldn’t have made it if I’d run away. Nobody blames me this
time; how can they, Prudy, when I did just right?”

Little thrills of exceeding joy danced through and through Dotty’s
heart. It was so seldom she got into trouble when she “wasn’t to
blame,” and could say she had done “just right”!

“What do you find in that paper that interests you so much, my dear?”
said her father, as he saw her eagerly spelling out the advertisements
in the Portland Press.

Dotty did not reply at once. She did not like to confess that she had
been looking for her own name, “Alice Parlin, a little girl with a red
calico wrapper, and little pockets in.” But no such name appeared.
There seemed to be very much said about silk, and soap, and lard, and
nails; but nothing at all concerning two little girls who had lost
their way in the storm. Dotty concluded the mayor had not heard of it.

“Are you sure you know all your letters, Alice?” said Mr. Parlin, quite
amused by her earnestness.

“O, papa, what an idea! When I’ve known them for years and years, and
been to school in the _primary’s_ department in the First Reader up to
the head three times!”

“I beg your pardon, my dear!”

Dotty thought she would give her father a proof that she could read.

“Papa,” said she, looking up from the newspaper, with quite a grown-up
expression of face, “who is _Scat_?”

“_Scat?_ What do you mean, Alice?”

“O, there’s a man in this paper called _Scat_, and it’s such a funny
name, I wanted to know where he lived.”

Dotty passed the Press to her father, pointing to some votes in a
recent election. “Jones 110, Fling 106, Scat. 45.” “_Scat._ does not
mean any one in particular,” said Mr. Parlin, laughing; “it merely
stands for ‘scattering.’”

“But it _said_ Scat.,” returned Dotty, indignantly.

She had expected her father to express some surprise at her progress
in reading. She would be careful next time, and choose a better
newspaper; the Portland Press said one thing when it meant another.

Mrs. Parlin thought Dotty was not well enough to go to school that
afternoon.

“I don’t know what Miss Parker’ll think,” said the child; “she always
looks to see if _I_ am there.”

But Dotty was not at all sorry to be sitting between her mother and
her grandmother, making a book-mark, while the wind whistled at the
windows, and the fire glowed in the grate.

“You needn’t try to get in here, old Wind,” said she, shaking her
sampler fiercely; “you can’t get through the double windows! O, mamma,
it doesn’t seem much as it did yesterday, with me a-blowing to which
ways, and thought I shouldn’t live to get home--hadn’t any h-o-p-e,”
added she, quoting from her book-mark.

“We will try to be very thankful you were spared,” said Mrs. Parlin,
kissing the earnest little face.

“Yes, thee could easily have died,” said. Mrs. Read; “but the Lord
willed it otherwise.”

Dotty held her needle in the air, and looked into the coals. There was
a picture there of a white snow-storm, and two little girls lying dead,
like the babes in the wood, with only the storm to wrap them in chilly
sheets of snow.

“Yes, we could have tipped over and died very easy,” thought she, with
a shudder; “but it wasn’t best; so a boy came and saved us. But,” said
she, aloud, “I guess he didn’t know God sent him, or he wouldn’t have
dared whistle a lie with his mouth, when there wasn’t a bit of a dog to
whistle to.”

Grandma looked into the coals, and said nothing.

“I know what she wants to say,” thought Dotty. “God saved me to
purpose; and He wouldn’t have saved me to purpose if He didn’t s’pect
I was going to be a good girl. And I mean to; O, yes, I mean to. I’ll
try harder’n ever I tried before. No tempers I’m not going to have, and
no anything that’s naughty, and always put it in my prayers to ask if
I needn’t grow better every minute; and then I truly shall! You don’t
s’pose He’d hear and not pay ’tention? No; He always pays ’tention, and
likes to have us ask such questions as that; mother says so.”

Dotty plodded away at her book-mark, going to her mother with every
stitch, or now and then venturing to make one of her own, which always
had to be pulled out. But it was finished at last, and Prudy was
pleased with the present, only there was a slight mistake in the motto,
and it read, “Hope on, _hop_ ever.”

“I didn’t mean to tell you to hop,” said Dotty; “I left out an ‘e;’
’twas a mistake, there were so many e’s; but I _do_ know how to spell,
Prudy Parlin.”

“O, yes, little sister; Miss Parker says you learn very fast.”

“O, Prudy, did you see her to-day; and what did she say about me and
Tate?”

“She feels dreadfully, Dotty; the tears came to her eyes.”

“They did, Prudy? Well, I should think they would. Letting two little
things like us lose _ourself_! Wasn’t it awful? She’ll kiss me when I
go back to school, and she’ll want to give me pep’mints and taffy; but
it wouldn’t be polite right before the other girls. She’ll only say,
‘I’m glad to see our dear little Dotty back again, and Tate, too,’
says she, ‘and you may sit together if you like, and just whisper the
whole living time!’ That’s what she’ll say.”

“O, she won’t, either, Dotty; you musn’t think of such a thing,”
laughed Prudy.



CHAPTER XI.

BOSOM FRIENDS.


Dotty did not go to school again until the next Monday. Miss Parker
kissed her affectionately, and said, she should never forgive herself
for her thoughtlessness; which was very gratifying to Dotty.

At recess Miss Parker called both the little girls up to her, and asked
for the history of their “blowing away.” Dotty gave it with delight,
and whenever her breath failed, Tate added a word of her own.

“If her nose hadn’t bled that time, Miss Parker, we were going to ask
you something. Mayn’t we sit together? ’Cause Tate likes me, and she
don’t like Dice Prosser; _do_ you, Tate?”

“Not much,” replied Tate, timidly; “but I don’t hate her near so bad as
you do Lina Rosenberg.”

“O, I don’t hate anybody,” said Dotty, virtuously; “only I asked my
mother which she wanted me to sit with, and she said ‘Tate,’ if you’re
perfectly willing, Miss Parker. Tate doesn’t _betwitch_ me, and I’m not
afraid to have her sit next to my pocket.”

“I have no objection to your changing your seats,” said Miss Parker,
smiling; “but I wish you to remember, children, that I have a great
deal of care, and if you love me you will try to be quiet.”

“So we will--won’t we, Tate?” said Dotty, joyfully, as they moved their
books. “We’ll be better girls, ’cause, don’t you know, we were saved to
purpose?”

Dotty was as good as her word. She could not always keep her little
tongue still; but on the whole, she tried so hard to do right, that
Miss Parker loved her better and better every day.

The two little seat-mates were becoming “bosom friends.” Tate regarded
Dotty as a superior being, and Miss Dimple was quite willing to be
looked up to and copied. Much of their time out of school was spent in
printing letters to each other, of which this is a specimen:--

  DEER TAIT:

  _Jhonnie cald_ Me _todelkins_. One time Flierway put a pertater onter
  the Kerryseen Kan, onter the nose. kiss tid for Me.

                                  Truely yours,
                                         ALICE PARLIN.

This letter was the longest one Dotty had ever written. It cost her
an hour’s patient labor, and just as she was folding it carefully in
the shape of a diamond, Prudy tipped the inkstand over it, and almost
“blotted it out forever.” Dotty was about to scold, but stopped to
count ten, and then said, with almost a smile,--

“No matter. You didn’t spoil anything but the ‘Toddlekins,’ and that
was so crooked I was ’shamed of it.”

Then Dotty hung the letter on the clothes line to dry, while her heart
danced for joy because she had been so patient with Prudy.

But one morning Tate did not appear at school, and to Miss Dimple’s
great grief, the following note was given her by Ben Penny:--

  DARLING DOTTY:

  I canot set with you enny more. Ime going to my mothers arnts scholl.
  The one that the mice eat up her cows. Good by.

                                  Verry truley,
                                        SARAH PENNY.

Dotty sat for a whole minute with her head on her hand. She could not
remember about this queer “arnt,” though Tate had described all her
relatives, and, without doubt, this one among the others.

“Mice ate up her cows! It must be very great mice, or else very tinty
cows!”

But the sad fact that Tate was going to another school made Dotty as
lonesome as a widowed dove. She was obliged to go round to Mrs. Penny’s
that night to talk about it; she told her mother she “couldn’t live if
she didn’t.”

“O, mamma,” cried she, as soon as she returned, “I do wish you’d let me
go to that dear little school! It’s Tate’s aunt’s mother, and she keeps
cows and mice, and it’s such a dear little school!”

“What do you know about the lady, Dotty?”

“O, Tate told me all about her. She wears one of these hair things you
call a wig, and a cap right on over it; and to-morrow’s Wednesday, no
school in the afternoon; but her aunt’s mother has it all day, and
afterwards going to show ’em the sheeps and camp-meetings. And wants to
know if I can go--there’s little boys, too--with my red dress on, and
stay to Tate’s house to tea--if you don’t care and perfectly willing.
’Cause it’s a dear little school!”

Dotty caught her breath, and went on:--

“She wants me to go all the time, and not go to Miss Parker, Tate
does. The woman’s real good, and prays in school with her eyes wide
open. That’s so she can see the little boys and little girls when
they’re doing naughty, and gets up and shakes ’em, and then she goes to
praying again.”

“I shouldn’t want to go to such a school as that,” said Prudy.

“O, she doesn’t shake ’em, ’thout they need to be shook; she’s a _good_
woman, and lets ’em eat gingerbread in school.”

Mrs. Parlin said Dotty might go just once, and see how she liked it.
So, the next afternoon, she set out with Tate for “the dear little
school.” As they skipped along swinging each other by the hand, they
were met by Johnny. Dotty began to hurry.

“Where are you going, Dot?”

“Going away.”

“You don’t say! When you coming back?”

“When I return!”

After which pert reply Dotty tossed her head, and swung Tate along upon
the full run.

A flash of anger rose to Johnny’s eyes. He and his little cousin had
not had a quarrel since the Crystal Wedding, and he was starting for
his aunt Mary’s, to make an afternoon visit. Dotty saw the flash, and
it set her thinking.

“_I_ wouldn’t want to go with me and Tate to where I wasn’t wanted! But
Johnny does! But, then, he said he wouldn’t quarrel, ’thout I begun it,
and _I_ won’t begin it. I’ll stop throwing my head back, ’cause that
always makes the tempers come.”

She was learning to watch the lion in her bosom. When he began to shake
his mane, she said, “Lie down, sir.” It was the only way; after he had
really got upon his feet, and begun to rage, Dotty couldn’t stop him.

“Tate,” said she, sweetly, “are you willing Johnny should go too? For I
spect you want to; don’t you, Johnny?”

It was a small sacrifice, and Dotty thought she was well repaid, when
her cousin, with the greatest good humor, whipped a paper bag out of
his pocket, and began to scatter about figs, and candy, and jujube
paste.

“Yes, I’ll go to school with you,” said Johnny; “but who is Mrs. Piper?
Peter’s wife?”

“He’s dead, her husband is,” replied Tate. “I don’t know what his name
was.”



CHAPTER XII.

“THE DEAR LITTLE SCHOOL.”


Mrs. Piper lived in a white cottage which nestled all summer under a
woodbine; but there was no woodbine now, and the strips of red leather,
which had held it up, were left sticking here and there by nails, and
looked frightfully like caterpillars. There was a yard before the
house, and in it were two or three hen-coops, half buried in snow.

“She keeps ’em in the back room, in the winter,” said Tate, referring
to the chickens.

Tate opened the door, and was greeted by a black cat, and then by a
gray one. A yellow kitten sprang out upon Johnny, and a hen, with a
lame leg bound up in a rag, pecked at Dotty’s feet.

“Do crazy folks live here?” muttered Johnny.

Tate fumbled at the latch of the sitting-room door, but could not lift
it, and it was opened from within by Mrs. Piper--a woman so fat and
queer that Dotty concluded it must be Peter’s mother, and she had eaten
the whole “peck of peppers” at a meal. Her cheeks were the color of
peppers, and her false hair, which was very false indeed, had fallen
down from the top of her forehead and drifted round to one side.

“How do you do, my pretty pets?” said she to the three visitors, and
stroked Dotty’s face with her hand, which had an old kid glove on it
without any fingers.

The room was not very large for a school-room. There were only ten
scholars in it, and they all seemed to feel quite at home; but Dotty
looked in vain for the gingerbread. There was a little earthen tea-pot
on the air-tight stove, also a flat-iron.

“What a queer school!” thought she; for the hens in the back room
cackled so loud as to drown the voice of a little girl reading. Mrs.
Piper saw Dotty laugh behind Johnny’s shoulder, and she laughed too.

“You think I’m a funny old woman,” said she, “because I keep hens in
the shed; but it’s a very warm place for ’em, dear. When I had little
boys of my own, I didn’t keep cats and hens; but now my little boys are
all gone, and I want something to love--do you see?”

“Yes’m,” said Dotty, very sorry Mrs. Piper’s boys were all gone, but
thinking that did not make the cats and hens any the less funny.

“The reason I want little children to come to my school is, because my
hens and cats can’t talk to me, and sometimes I am lonesome. I teach
my scholars to be good,” said she, turning to shake a little girl for
snapping apple-seeds; “that is better than book-learning. I am talking
to them to-day about truth. Do you always tell the truth, little dear?”
said she to Dotty, so abruptly that Dotty found it hard to keep from
laughing.

“Sometimes I don’t, m’m; ’most always I do.”

“That’s right, little dear; that’s right. A lie is an abomination; do
you see? Can you say the word?”

“A-bommer-nation,” repeated Dotty.

“‘An abomination to the Lord.’ That means He hates it. Now, if you ever
feel as if you wanted to tell a lie, will you stop long enough to say
‘abomination’ three times?”

“Yes’m.”

“_All_, answer me.”

“Yes’m,” cried the children in chorus, looking up from their paper
balls, and paper boats, and picture-books.

“That’s right, little dears,” said Mrs Piper; and then she waddled
away to hear a class of one boy in arithmetic. After this she told the
children to study their spelling lessons; and while they were doing so
she looked around with a satisfied smile, and taking the tea-pot off
the stove, and filling it, began to water the plants in the windows.

Dotty bit her lips.

“Are those roses in the big bowls _tea_-roses?” thought she. “I’ve
heard of such a kind, but I didn’t know ’twas tea that made them so.”

The plants were in cups, and saucers, and basins, and everything else
but flower-pots. There was a dew-plant in an iron kettle, spattered
all over with little red blossoms, “like the measles,” Dotty thought.
“And the _caltycus_ had something else the matter, for it was covered
with little white pimples.”

After the good lady had helped her forty plants to a cup of tea all
around, it was time to hear the lessons. Tate was delighted to show the
silver medal which hung from her neck by a blue ribbon, and was a sign
that she stood at the head of her spelling class.

“Now school is done,” said Mrs. Piper, settling her false hair; “and as
you’ve been pretty good children for the last four weeks, I suppose you
all want to see my pictures?”

“Yes, _ma’am_,” cried the children, Johnny loudest of all.

“It isn’t what everybody would call pictures,” said Mrs. Piper, opening
the bureau drawers in the entry, while no less than four cats sprang
upon her, and playfully tried to assist her in taking out her treasures.

“No, _I_ shouldn’t call them pictures,” thought Dotty, as Mrs. Piper
held them so high that she saw nothing but a rough, dark surface.

“Looks to me like hemlock bark,” thought Johnny, and decided at once
that he had been right in the first place, and the woman was certainly
crazy.

Mrs. Piper set the pictures on a table. A murmur of surprise arose from
the lips of Johnny and Dotty.

“A camp-meeting, little dears,” explained Mrs. Piper, pointing to
several wee tents made of white cloth, and spread around on the smooth
surface of the bark, which had been covered with moss to imitate
grass. There were sprigs of evergreen stuck in for trees; and here
and there a bit of broken looking-glass served for a brook. But the
men and women formed the most attractive part of the scene. These were
little rag babies as long as your finger, dressed for church; the men
in long-tailed coats and stove-pipe hats, the women in gowns of all
colors, and bonnets trimmed with tiny feathers, or very narrow taste.
The preachers stood outside the tents, holding little things in their
hands which Mrs. Piper said were hymn-books and Bibles, though they
looked like bits of paper. The preachers were looking at the hymns
with their little beads of eyes, and reading them aloud with their red
worsted mouths. The men and women who seemed to be doing nothing at
all but try to keep from tipping over, were actually singing, only the
music, like the rippling of the looking-glass brooks, was so very low
that it couldn’t be heard.

“Do you see that man with the red cheeks? It was whiskey did it; but I
stuck a pin in my finger, and rubbed on a little blood. He is singing,
‘Happy day! Happy day!’ After his sins were washed away he never drank
any more. His name was John Peck; he was my brother. Little boys, I
hope you will never drink!

“This man with the red shirt on was my husband; he was a sea captain;
and one day his ship sank, and then I was a widow. Little girls, I hope
you’ll never be widows!”

Dotty hid behind Johnny’s shoulder again. Mrs. Piper went on to the
next picture.

“Here is Ruth and _Boze_,” said she, meaning _Boaz_, “Did you ever
read the story of Ruth? how she wouldn’t leave Naomi? that’s her
mother-in-law. A good girl Ruth was, and a pretty girl. That is her
apron she is holding up in her hands. I don’t know whether they made
’em with ruffles in those days or not; but the spears sticking out of
it is wheat; she has picked it up in the field. And there is _Boze_; he
is rich, for you see the gold on his coat-tail. And there’s Naomi, that
Ruth loved. Do you love your own mothers, little girls, and mind what
they say? I hope so. It is a beautiful story. Ask some one to read it
to you. And now, these sheep, what _do_ you think they are made of?”

“_Dough_,” cried Johnny.

Mrs. Piper looked crestfallen.

“Why, how did you know that, little dear? Yes, these sheep are made of
dough; but their backs are ridged over with a pin to look like wool. I
had sixteen, but I set ’em on the floor to dry, and the lame hen ate
up ten. I want you all to be good little children and do right,” added
the good woman, who tried to remember to put in a _moral_ every few
minutes. “And now I will show you some more things. Here is a piece of
lava; came out of a volcano--Vesuvius. Here are some sharks’ teeth, and
these are whales’ teeth; and see these big sea-shells, full of the roar
of the sea that drowned my husband!

“There, that will do; it is growing dark. Now, is there anything you
have learned at my school to-day, little dears?”

As she looked at Dotty, Dotty replied,--

“Yes’m; how to say Bommer-_nibble_.”

“She means ‘abomination,’” corrected Tate.

“Yes, I know. Remember, a lie is an abomination to the Lord. And now,
good by, little dears.”

So saying, Mrs. Piper made an old-fashioned courtesy, and waved the
children out of the room with both hands.

They put on their wrappings in the hall, and passed out, leaving the
dear, queer old lady alone with her flowers, cats, and chickens.

“I’m glad we’ve got far enough away so we can laugh,” said Dotty.

“She’s crazy,” cried Johnny, “awful crazy.”

Tate hurried along, and caught up with Dotty. She had lingered behind
to kiss her auntie, and receive a seed-cake from her cupboard.

“Didn’t I _say_ it was a dear little school?” said Tate, for she had
always known and loved her aunt Piper, and did not think how odd the
dear woman must seem to a stranger.

“Ye--s,” answered Dotty, “only my face is all burning a-fire, trying to
keep from laughing.”

“P’r’aps it’s queer,” said Tate; “but isn’t she a darling?”

Dotty did not answer, and Johnny gave her a sly pinch on the arm, with
a very comical look about his mouth.

“And you’re going to tell your mamma you like the school, and ask her
if you mayn’t come, so you can sit with me, Dotty Dimple?”

Dotty was about to say, “Yes, I’ll ask her;” for she thought, “I can do
it ’way down in my throat, so she’ll know I don’t want to go--But, no;
it’s wicked to deceive Tate.”

“You’re going to ask your mother?” repeated Tate.

“Bommernibble, bommernibble, bommer_nibble_!” whispered Dotty,
forgetting the word, but remembering her promise. Then she felt quite
brave, and said aloud,--

“No, Tate; I’d like to sit with you forever and always; but I shan’t
ask my mother; ’cause I like Miss Parker the best. Miss Parker isn’t
crazy, and she isn’t a _nidiot_!”

“Nor my auntie isn’t, either,” said Tate, ready to cry.

“I never said she was, Tate; _did_ I, Johnny? But I don’t want to go to
a school where the hens _kerdahcut_ right in the house, and they give
their flowers tea and coffee!”

“Hurrah for you, Dot Dimple!” cried Johnny; but poor little Tate wiped
off a tear with the thumb of her mitten.

The end of it all was, that as Dotty would not go to Mrs. Piper’s
school, Tate left it, and went back to Miss Parker with Dotty.

“We want to sit together as long as we live,” said Dotty, coming home
one night in a very happy frame of mind; “and the teacher says we are
her little comforts!”

“Only think of Dotty’s being a comfort!” said Susy, with a curling lip;
but Mrs. Parlin looked at her oldest daughter reprovingly, and Susy
added,--

“But you do grow better, Dotty, I declare you do!” and kissed the child
on the forehead.

Praise from Susy! This was something new! Dotty’s eyes twinkled and
shone like stars on a winter’s night.

“You are getting to be just like anybody now,” said Prudy. “You can
make bookmarks, and go to school, and have vacations.”

“I know it,” replied Dotty, with a queenly pose of the head; “and when
we go to vacation, next summer, there won’t anybody ask, ‘Is this Mrs.
Parlin’s baby?’”

“No, indeed,” said Prudy, consolingly. “Flyaway will be the only baby
there is at Willowbrook next summer, and _she_ is growing up.”

“I wish it was next summer now,” sighed Dotty.

       *       *       *       *       *

And it _will_ be “next summer” before we see Miss Dimple again.

Let us hope she may arrive at her grandfather Parlin’s in good health
and spirits, and that we who meet her there may be as rosy and happy as
herself.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

Illustrations have been moved to paragraph breaks near where they are
mentioned.

Punctuation has been made consistent.

Variations in spelling and hyphenation were retained as they appear in
the original publication.





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