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´╗┐Title: Kittyleen
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Kittyleen" ***

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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



[Illustration: BABY ETHEL GOES TO CHURCH.--Page 106.]

[Illustration: Flaxie Frizzle SERIES

By SOPHIE MAY ILLUSTRATED

FLAXIE'S KITTYLEEN. LEE & SHEPARD BOSTON.]



                       _FLAXIE FRIZZLE STORIES_


                               KITTYLEEN


                                  BY
                              SOPHIE MAY

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



                                BOSTON
                      LEE AND SHEPARD PUBLISHERS
                    NEW YORK CHARLES T. DILLINGHAM



                              COPYRIGHT,
                                 1883,
                          BY LEE AND SHEPARD.



     _Electrotyped and Printed by_
     ALFRED MUDGE AND SON, BOSTON.



                               PREFACE.



_To Mothers_:

This story--the fifth of the Flaxie Frizzle Series--deals less with
the little child whose name it bears than with Flaxie Frizzle herself,
Kittyleen being from first to last an interloper.

It aims to show the gradual improvement of Flaxie's character under the
various disciplines of child-life and the sweet influence of a good and
happy home.



                              CONTENTS.


            CHAPTER                                 PAGE

                I. KITTYLEEN                           7

               II. THE LITTLE WIDOW                   23

              III. FLAXIE'S WILL                      35

               IV. CRACKERS AND CHEESE                50

                V. SPONGE-CAKE                        62

               VI. A NEW FRIEND                       75

              VII. THAT HOMELY MISS PIKE              91

             VIII. FLAXIE IN CHURCH                  106

               IX. PRIMROSE BOWER                    125

                X. THE LAST FEATHER                  145

               XI. THE RUNAWAY RINGS                 164

              XII. THE HUNT                          176

             XIII. ETHEL'S KETTLEDRUM                189



                              KITTYLEEN.



                              CHAPTER I.

                              KITTYLEEN.


A pretty brown and white dove was walking up the steep roof of Dr.
Gray's house just as the door-bell rang. Perhaps she heard the bell,
for she stopped and pecked her wings, then flew down to the ground, and
looked up to see who was there.

It was Kittyleen. Kittyleen was a snip of a girl, three years old,
whose long name was Katharine Garland. She looked like the dove, for
she was brown and white all over: brown eyes and hair, brown cloak,
white fur cap, and white tippet.

Her young nurse, Martha, had come with her, but there is not much to
say here concerning Martha, except that she had the toothache. She did
not intend to enter the house; she had only come to escort Kittyleen.

"I want to wing the bell myse'f," said Miss Kittyleen, standing on
tiptoe, and bursting a button off one of her brown boots. But she could
not reach the bell.

Just then the doctor's daughter, Mary Gray, opened the door, and seeing
Kittyleen, threw both arms around her, exclaiming,--

"Oh, you darling, I'm so glad you've come!"

"Well, I'm afraid you'll be sorry enough by and by," said Martha, with
a one-sided smile, that made her look like a squirrel with a nut in his
cheek. "She's full of mischief, Kittyleen is, and her ma's painting
china, and wanted her out of the way. But if she's _too_ much trouble,
her ma wants you to send her right home."

"Oh, _she_ won't trouble anybody. She and little Ethel will have a
beautiful time together," said Mary, untying the child's white tippet.

Mary Gray, or Flaxie Frizzle, as people persisted in calling her
sometimes, was nine years old, and had for some time felt a great care
of Kittyleen. Everybody felt the care of Mrs. Garland's children. There
were six of them, and their mother was always painting china. She
did it beautifully, with graceful vines trailing over it, and golden
butterflies ready to alight on sprays of lovely flowers. Sometimes the
neighbors thought it would be a fine thing if she would keep her little
ones at home rather more; but if she had done that she could not have
painted china.

Flaxie took off Kittyleen's fur cap, and patted it softly, as she hung
it on the hat-tree.

"That's my white pussy," remarked Kittyleen, eying it lovingly. "But it
don't hurt; it hasn't any feet."

"Well, good-by, pet, don't get into mischief," said Martha, making
another wry face as she tried to smile. And then, without one word to
Flaxie as to the length of Kittyleen's visit, she hurried home to put
a poultice on her face and help about the ironing; for, as she said to
herself, "The work was only fun, now the three youngest children were
out of the way."

Flaxie led Kittyleen into the back parlor to show her to the family.
Little Ethel did not look particularly pleased, for she remembered that
the baby-guest was very fond of sweetmeats, and sometimes snatched more
than her share. Mrs. Gray was embroidering a table-cover as a birthday
present for Aunt Jane Abbott, and was feeling very much hurried; but
she smiled and said to Flaxie, as she kissed the wee visitor,--

"So your little pet has come again? Well, we will do all we can to make
her happy; but you know Julia and I are both busy over these presents,
and you must take the chief care of Kittyleen yourself."

"Yes'm, you know I always do," replied Flaxie; "and she behaves better
with me than she does with her mother."

Nobody thought of Kittyleen's staying any longer than to dinner and
supper; but there was never any certainty about the Garland children's
visits, especially when it began to storm. It began now at eleven
o'clock, and snowed all day without ceasing; and then the wind rose,
and blew the flakes east and west and north and south, till the men in
the streets could hardly keep their hats on their heads, much less hold
an umbrella.

Of course Kittyleen couldn't go home that night, for she lived on
Prospect Street, half a mile away. Preston Gray said with a sarcastic
smile that "it was a comfort to know that her mother would be easy
about her."

But Kittyleen made a grieved lip. The sun had set, there were no stars
in the sky, and the windows looked black and dismal. She parted the
curtains and peeped out.

"All dark out there," said she, sadly. "Did God forget about the moon?
I are goin' to cry! Yes, Flaxie, I are; I want to see my mamma, and I
are goin' to cry."

Two tiny tears gathered in the dove-like brown eyes, ready to fall. Dr.
Gray rose from his chair and paced the floor. He never could bear to
see a little girl cry.

"I wonder," said he,--"I do wonder where Mary keeps that beautiful big
wax doll!"

"O papa!" said Flaxie, clasping her hands, "_don't_, papa!"

"The wax doll is in my cabinet," replied Mrs. Gray, not regarding her
daughter's distress; "and if Kittyleen won't cry she shall see it
to-morrow."

"O mamma, please don't," repeated Flaxie.

But Kittyleen was happy from that moment. She _wanted_ to stay now. She
liked Flaxie's chamber, with its fine pictures and soft carpet, and the
silk quilt upon the bed. She liked Flaxie's "nightie," with its pretty
edging, and laughed because it had a "long end to it," long enough to
wrap up her little pink toes.

Ethel, who was still younger than Kittyleen, had gone to bed long ago;
but Kittyleen was too full of frolic, and when she went at last she
would not lie still, but kept springing up and turning somersets all
over the bed, lisping, as she caught her breath, "See dolly in the
mornin'! Me velly much obliged!"

"There, there, hush, Kittyleen," said Flaxie, crossly, "I want to go to
sleep."

"Wish I had dolly here now; want to luf her _this_ way," continued the
little prattler, smoothing Flaxie's cheek with her tiny hand.

"No, no, you mustn't love _my_ doll in that way; it isn't the way to
love dolls. You mustn't touch her at all; you mustn't go anywhere near
her, Kittyleen Garland," exclaimed Flaxie, growing alarmed.

She had more treasures of value, perhaps, than any other little girl in
Rosewood, and was always afraid of their being injured. Indeed, she
was too anxiously careful of some of them, and it was partly for this
reason that her mother had promised to show Kittyleen the wax doll. Of
all Flaxie's possessions this was the very chief, and she loved the
pretty image with as much of a mother's love as a little girl is able
to feel, always calling her "my only child" in forgetfulness of all her
other dolls, black, white, and gray. The "Princess Aurora Arozarena,"
as she was called, was as large as a live baby six months old. Flaxie
had owned her for two years, keeping her mostly in close confinement in
her mother's cabinet, and never allowing little sister Ethel anything
more than a tantalizing glimpse of her majesty's lustrous robes. This
august being was dressed in fine silk, with gloves and sash to match,
and always when she mounted the throne, and sometimes when she didn't,
she wore a crown upon her regal head. Her throne, I may add, was a
round cricket, dotted with brass nails. You will see at once that it
would be no light trial to have this adorable doll breathed upon by
such a little gypsy as Kittyleen.

"O mamma," pleaded Flaxie next morning, "please hold her tight when you
show"--and then, as Kittyleen skipped into the room she added, "Hold
the w-a-x d-o-l-l tight when you show it!"

"_I_ heard," said Kittyleen. "Diddle o-k-p-g! _I_ heard!"

Mrs. Gray and Flaxie both laughed; but the terrible child added,
dancing up and down, "See dolly _now_! me velly much obliged!" "Me
velly much obliged" was her way of saying "if you please," and Flaxie
often remarked upon it as "very cunning"; but she saw nothing cunning
in it now, and frowned severely as Mrs. Gray led the way up-stairs to
her own chamber, unlocked the cabinet, and took out the much-desired,
crowned, and glittering Aurora Arozarena.

"Kittyleen may look at it, but she is not to touch it. Ethel never has
touched it. And when you hear the breakfast bell, Mary, you may put the
doll back in the cabinet, and that will be the last of it; so try not
to look so wretched."

"Oh! oh! oh!" cried Kittyleen, too full of delight to do anything but
scream. "Open eyes! shut eyes! Oh! oh! oh!"

She did not offer to touch the shining lady; and this grand exhibition
_would_ have been the last of it if Flaxie had not somehow, in her
anxiety and haste, forgotten to turn the key on the royal prisoner when
she put her back in the cabinet.

The storm was not over. The snow turned to rain and poured continually.
Mrs. Garland had nearly time to paint a whole set of china; for of
course Kittyleen could not go home that day.

In the afternoon the child, having quarrelled with little Ethel,
strayed alone into Mrs. Gray's chamber. There on the great bracket
against the wall stood that wonderful inlaid cabinet, pretty enough
in itself to be gazed at and examined by curious little folks, even
if there had been nothing inside. Kittyleen knew, however, that it
contained the doll--Flaxie's doll--that was too sacred for little girls
to touch. She could not have told afterwards why she did it, but she
climbed on a chair and pulled at one of the doors of the cabinet. She
certainly did not expect it would open, but to her intense delight
it did open, and there in plain sight on a shelf lay the beautiful
princess, fast asleep.

"Oh, my!" exclaimed Kittyleen in a perfect tremor of joy.

The princess lay there and smiled. You could almost see her breathe.

"Mustn't touch!" whispered Kittyleen to her meddling fingers.

Touch? Oh, no indeed!

But she swayed to and fro upon the chair and gazed. And evermore as she
gazed, the longing grew upon her to know how much of Princess Arozarena
was wax and how much was living flesh and blood. Had she teeth? a
tongue? were there two holes in that pretty nose?

"I've got a nose, dolly, you've got a nose; everybody in this house has
got a nose, two holes--way--in."

Here she picked a pin out of her collar and flourished it over those
waxen nostrils. If they were hollow--

Oh, she wasn't going to hurt dolly! Not for anyfing in this world! But
_would_ the pin go in? That was all she wanted to know; and she never
would know till she tried. "Why, it went in just as easy!" Such a
tender, soft dolly!

Kittyleen admired her more than ever. "_Some_ dollies are _so_ hard!"

But why did this one lie with her eyes closed? She had slept long
enough. "I fink her eyes are booful. Wake up, dolly." That was what
Flaxie had said in the morning, and dolly had opened her bright eyes
very wide. But she wouldn't open them now for Kittyleen. Kittyleen blew
upon them; the lids would not stir.

"I fink it's funny! I fink it's velly funny," said baby, her breath
coming short and fast. What _was_ the way to get them open? They must
be in there just the same. Yes, they _must_ be in there; but where?

She wouldn't hurt those dear eyes, oh, not for anyfing! But the longer
they hid away from her the more she wanted to see them. What _were_
they made of?

There was one way to get at the secret of their wondrous beauty. She
could explore a little with the pin. Dolly wasn't alive; pins wouldn't
hurt.

Gently! gently! Oh, yes, Kittyleen meant to be very gentle! But somehow
that was a bad old pin! What made it bend right up? What did make it
dig so and scratch?

I grieve to tell the rest. Princess Arozarena had been beautiful,
but when she lost one eye she was horrid. Kittyleen caught her up in
remorse, and the other eye flew open. Kittyleen screamed in fright. It
seemed as if the doll was alive, as if that eye was looking right at
her.

It was too much to bear. Trembling, she opened the closet door, and
threw the poor, scratched, miserable doll, with her one blazing eye,
head-first into the clothes-bag.



                              CHAPTER II.

                           THE LITTLE WIDOW.


Did she go down-stairs then and tell anybody what she had done? That
would have been the right way, but Kittyleen was only a baby. She felt
sadly frightened, and roved all about the chambers crying, till Dora
Whalen heard her from the back stairs, and took her down to the kitchen
in her arms. "The poor little thing is homesick," thought Dora, and fed
her with raisins.

When Flaxie went up to her mother's room soon afterward, she saw that
the cabinet door was open and the doll gone, and was much troubled,
though not prepared for the worst. After long search, the mangled
remains of the once blooming princess were brought to light, and then
Flaxie's heart almost broke. She could not be comforted, and she could
not forgive Kittyleen. It was of no use suggesting a new head for
the poor, wounded doll. What was her mother thinking of? Didn't she
know that Arozarena was just like a _person_? And who ever heard of
a person's losing one head, and then going and having another fitted
on? "She wouldn't be my own child with a new head and face; and you
wouldn't talk of such a thing, mamma, if you'd ever lost a beautiful
doll like this! You'd see the difference and know how I feel."

[Illustration: KITTYLEEN SCREAMED IN FRIGHT.--Page 21.]

Phil and little Ethel looked on with solemn interest as their elder
sister raved. So sad a day as this had not been known in the house
since Preston's dear dog, Tantra Bogus, ate poison by mistake and
died. Princess Arozarena was almost like living flesh and blood to
these little children. They could not remember the time when she did
not exist, and it was really heartrending to think now of her dire and
unexpected fate.

Mrs. Gray dropped her work and told the children of a sorrow she had
known in her own early youth as grievous as this. She, too, had lost a
bright, particular doll, and it had come to its end by the teeth of a
neighbor's dog.

"Was it a mad dog?" asked Flaxie, with a sob. And Phil wondered if his
mother could have cried.

"Indeed I cried."

"Why, you great, big, grown-up woman! Oh, but you weren't our mother
then, _were_ you? and you couldn't have been if you'd tried, for we
weren't born!"

Having settled this in his mind, Phil saw less absurdity in her crying
over a doll.

"Naughty Kittyleen, pick folks' eyes out," exclaimed little Ethel,
returning to the subject anew. "_Effel_ wouldn't pick eyes out! No,
in-deed!"

Never before had the baby felt herself so good and high-minded, so
worthy of praise.

"_I_ think Kittyleen ought to be shut up in the closet and whipped,"
declared Phil; and this opinion was so gratifying to Flaxie that she
kissed him, and said she should never call him a naughty brother again.

"I suppose mother wouldn't shut her up because she is a visitor, but I
_should_ think she might send her home," muttered Flaxie, angrily.

"My daughter, would you have me send little Kittyleen home in the rain?"

"Yes'm, I think she has stayed long enough," sobbed Flaxie, pressing
her hands in anguish to her bosom.

"But she is such a little thing, hardly more than a baby. I dare say
she never dreamed of spoiling your doll. You can't think the child did
it on purpose!"

"Of course she did! She's the queerest girl," cried Phil, "can't stay
at home, can't let things alone. I think," pursued he, encouraged
by the curling of Flaxie's lip--"I think 'twould be a good plan for
Kittyleen to go to Heaven! Folks don't want her down here!"

"Stop, my son, that will do! we will not talk any longer on this
subject; but Mary, if you please, you may hold some worsted for me to
wind."

Mrs. Gray hoped that a night's sleep would soothe her daughter's grief;
but the little girl awoke next morning as sorrowful as ever. Dark
clouds were still lingering in the wintry sky, and clouds quite as
heavy shut all the sunshine out of poor Flaxie's heart. She came down
to breakfast weeping, a black scarf over her shoulders and a bow of
black ribbon pinned at her throat. She had felt a melancholy desire to
"go into mourning," and let the world know that death or worse than
death had befallen her "only child."

"What does this mean?" asked Dr. Gray, who had quite forgotten
yesterday's tragedy.

Phil spoke for her. He was getting into high favor with his sister by
his zeal in espousing her cause.

"Flaxie's little girl is killed dead, and Flaxie is a _widow_ now,"
said he.

Dr. Gray raised his coffee-cup to his lips to hide a smile. Kittyleen
peeped up at the little "widow" with innocent curiosity, but was
frowned down severely, and began to cry. Her tears, however, were small
and few. She could not possibly grieve much over her own naughtiness,
committed so long ago as yesterday; but even if she had been as sorry
as she ever knew how to be, the nice buckwheat cakes and syrup would
have consoled her.

Mrs. Gray was pained to see that Flaxie still cherished bitter feeling
against a child of that tender age.

"My daughter," said she, after breakfast, "if Kittyleen were older and
had tried wilfully to destroy your doll and make you unhappy, I should
not blame you so much. But just see what a simple, unconscious little
thing she is, hardly wiser than your kitten. Don't you feel really
ashamed of being angry with her?"

"Yes, mamma, I do," replied Flaxie, hanging her head. "But it is hard
to forgive children sometimes, when they ought to be at home, you know,
and not going 'round to other people's houses to make trouble!"

"Is Kittyleen at fault for going where her mother sends her? You are
old enough, my daughter, to be more reasonable. Is this the way you are
beginning to receive the discipline of your life?"

Flaxie knew what "discipline" meant. It was the name her mother gave to
all troubles, both great and small, assuring Flaxie they are sent to
us in love, to do us good, unless, alas, we receive them in a perverse
spirit, and then they only make us worse.

"You _can_ forgive Kittyleen, my child; God will help you; and until
you do it you will have no peace; you will live in darkness and gloom.
Go away by yourself for a while, and when I see you again I hope there
will be a little light in your soul."

About an hour afterward, Flaxie, with a beaming smile, came into the
parlor where her sister Julia sat amusing Kittyleen. She had a plate of
golden-brown cookies in her hand, baked in the form of stars, fishes,
and elephants.

"Here's a star for you, all sugar and spice," said she very pleasantly
to Kittyleen. "And I'll forgive you for scratching my doll all up and
digging her eyes out. She's just ruined, did you know it? _Ruined!_ And
you're a bad little girl; _but I forgive you_!"

"Mary, my child, my child, is _that_ what you meant to say?"

The grieved look on Mrs. Gray's face touched Flaxie's heart in a moment.

"No, mamma, it wasn't what I meant at all. She isn't bad, and I didn't
know I was going to say that. I do forgive you, Kittyleen, really and
truly. You never meant the least harm. Kiss me, darling! Flaxie loves
you just the same, for you're only a baby and didn't know any better."

There was no "half-way work" about this. Kittyleen, perfectly willing
to be forgiven, nestled up to Flaxie and laid her soft cheek against
hers, murmuring, without meaning anything at all,--

"Me vely much obliged."

And at that moment the clouds broke away and the tardy sun came out.
A ray of light shone over Mrs. Gray's face,--partly sunshine from the
sky, and partly an inner sunshine from her happy heart. She was a good
mother, and nothing gave her so much joy as to see her children rise
above selfishness and sincerely strive to do right.

Kittyleen went home after dinner, loaded with toys. Flaxie was the one
to fasten her cloak and tippet, and lead her by the hand to the front
door; but not a word did she say to Martha about the "murder" of her
waxen child. Not a word did any one say about it; and Mrs. Garland
would never have heard of Kittyleen's mischief if the little one had
not told of it herself.

Mr. Garland was quite disturbed, but his wife was too busy painting to
pay much attention.

"My dear," said he, "Mary Gray is an uncommon little girl to bear what
she does from Kittyleen. Suppose, as a reward for her patience, you
send her a handsome present at Christmas."

"Very well," replied Mrs. Garland, serenely, "I'll send her a piece of
the china I'm painting."

"No, no, she won't care anything about that. Buy her something really
pretty," said Mr. Garland, who had no true love for the fine arts, and
secretly wished his wife's paint-tubes and brushes were sunk in the sea.

"Oh, well, you may buy her something yourself! I don't want to bother
my head about it," said Mrs. Garland, drawing a rim of gold around a
teacup.

And Mr. Garland, who could get no help from his wife, was obliged to go
to Mrs. Prim, a particular friend of the Gray family, and ask her what
she thought Flaxie would like for a Christmas present.



                             CHAPTER III.

                            FLAXIE'S WILL.


"_A doll's piano!_ Why, if there is anything in this world that I've
always wanted, it's just this little piano! And oh, to think of Mr.
Garland's giving it to me, when he couldn't have known I wanted it!
Did _you_ tell him, Preston? And oh, _see_ the keys! Hear me! There,
that's the Grasshopper's Dance! Tinkle! tinkle! tinkle! Oh, _so_ sweet!
I couldn't play it any better on my big piano, or half so well.

"Hush, Preston Gray, you needn't laugh! What if I _am_ nine years old?
Can't I like a little, cunning, beautiful doll's piano? And what's
the harm, when you know I needed it to finish off the furniture in my
dolls' parlor, and go with the chairs and sofas and tables and lamps
and everything grand?

"This chair is just the thing for Princess Aurora Arozarena to sit
in when she plays the piano. Now _would_ you ever know any thing had
happened to Aurora? Only her hair is a little darker, and her eyes are
black instead of blue, and she hasn't _quite_ the same kind of nose and
mouth."

So Flaxie talked on and on; and the new treasure, the doll's piano, was
kept for a long time in the back parlor in one of the alcoves, that
people from far and near might hear and see it. The tiny white and
black keys gave all the notes with a merry little tinkling sound that
was enough to take a doll right off its feet and set it to dancing.

A wee chair was always before it, and in the chair sat the princess,
who had come to life again, and never knew she had been dead. Her happy
young mother, Flaxie Frizzle, often knelt behind her, playing little
jingling, squeaking tunes, exactly adapted to the ears of her royal
highness, who would have played for herself if her long-wristed, light
gloves had not been so exquisitely tight.

The piano was a great comfort in itself; and when Flaxie came to
understand that it was a token of Mr. Garland's approval and gratitude,
she valued it more than ever.

About this time she had a most uncomfortable siege of chicken-pox, and
was obliged for two days to keep her room, looking sadly disfigured
by the pink, puffy blotches which rose on her skin, and feeling very
forlorn because her poor red eyes were too weak to admit of her
reading.

"What does make me look so?" said she, almost crying, as she gazed at
her face in the glass. "And, oh, Ninny, I feel a great deal worse than
I look! I can tell you people wouldn't laugh so much about chicken-pox
if they knew how it feels!"

"Yes, dear, I'm sure it must be dreadful," returned Ninny,--her real
name was Julia,--with ready sympathy. "You woke me up ever so many
times last night screaming."

"Screaming? Why, I didn't know it! I must have been crazy!"

When ill, it was no unusual thing for the Gray children to be slightly
delirious; and Flaxie often laughed over the droll speeches which she
was reported to have made, but of which she herself could not recall a
single word.

"What did I say last night when I was crazy?"

"You sat up in bed and cried for your '_little pinono_,'--the doll's
piano, I suppose. And sometimes you seemed to think it had turned into
a wolf, for you kept saying, 'Why, what great, big teeth you've got!
Oh, they're to eat you the better, my dear!'"

Flaxie smiled faintly, and then, feeling very miserable, wiped away a
tear, thinking,--

"Perhaps I am very, very ill. How do I know? Fannie Townsend never was
crazy in her life, nor Blanche Jones. And what made doctor papa look at
my tongue this morning, unless he thought I was growing worse? He gave
me powders, too, and told me to stay up-stairs and keep warm. Maybe I'm
going to have a fever. I didn't eat anything for my breakfast but half
a cracker, and my head aches so I don't want any dinner.--Julia," said
she, interrupting herself in the midst of these gloomy musings, "do
people ever die of chicken-pox?"

"No, indeed, not that I ever heard of. What put that into your head?"

"Now, Julia, you don't know the least thing about it! What do _you_
know about fevers and medicines and things like that? Just because your
papa is a doctor, that's no reason you should shake your head and think
there's nothing the matter with me, when I'm feeling so bad!"

Julia would not, on any account, have laughed at her poor little
sister; so she slipped quietly out of the room before Flaxie had time
to continue this train of absurd and amusing remarks.

Finding herself alone, however, the reflections of the chicken-pox
patient grew more and more sombre. What _was_ the difference between
this and small-pox? She had heard of a red flag which was hoisted
when that good clergyman, Mr. Branch, lay ill in a house away from
everybody, and at last died, almost alone. Probably Doctor Papa
would never send a little girl like her--his own daughter, too--to
a house with a red flag! Still she might die; and if she did, Julia
would naturally be very sorry she had spoken so lightly--not to say
disrespectfully--of a disease whose miseries she had never felt; that
is, the chicken-pox.

An hour or two afterwards, Mrs. Prim called at Flaxie's room, and after
feeling her pulse, and saying, "Oh, _you_ are not very ill," she turned
to Grandma Gray, who had come in, and began a conversation with her
about Blanche Jones's father.

"Yes," said Mrs. Prim, "Mr. Jones is really aware at last that his
disease is consumption. He knows he can never recover, and has made his
will."

"Has he, indeed?" returned Grandma Gray. "I am truly glad to hear it."

"I tell my husband," went on Mrs. Prim, sitting very straight in her
chair,--"I tell my husband I think it is every man's duty to make a
will; yes, and every woman's duty, too. Mr. Prim agrees with me, and we
each of us intend this very afternoon to have our wills drawn up and
signed."

"A wise and proper thing, I am sure," remarked Grandma Gray.

"Grandma," asked Flaxie, as soon as their visitor had gone, "please
tell me what's a will, and why is it 'a wise and proper thing'?"

"Perhaps, little Mary, I cannot make you understand. But Mr. Prim has a
great deal of money, and so has Mrs. Prim; and if either of them should
die, perhaps it would not be known what was best to do with the money
that was left. So Mr. Prim is going to write his wishes about _his_
money on a sheet of paper. He is going to say, 'I wish to give so many
thousand dollars to my wife, and so many thousand dollars to somebody
else,' etc. And Mrs. Prim will do the same about _her_ money. She will
say, 'I wish to give so many thousand dollars to Mr. Prim, and so many
thousand dollars to somebody else,' etc."

"Well, if she wishes to give it, why doesn't she do it, and not write
about it?"

"Oh, she only means that she wishes it to be given away after she is
dead! Not _now_, Mary!"

"Oh, yes'm, I understand, I understand now. Why, grandmamma, I've heard
ever so often about people's making wills, but I never knew before what
it meant."

In the afternoon, when Madam Gray had quite forgotten this
conversation, she was startled by hearing Flaxie say plaintively,--

"Grandma, do little girls ever make wills?"

"Not that I ever heard of, my dear; but they certainly have a right to
do so, if they like."

"Well, if they haven't a great deal of money, can they give away
something besides money? I mean, have they a right to make a will and
give away their books and toys and pretty things?"

"Oh, yes."

"And is it 'wise and proper'? You know," added Flaxie, turning her
aching head upon the pillow,--"you know I have a great many beautiful
things, and if I ever die there is my sweet little new piano,
and--and--I don't expect I _shall_ die, but if I ever do die, you
know."

Madam Gray understood her granddaughter's mood in a moment. Flaxie had
a touch of 'melancholy.' Though very well aware that her disease was
not of a dangerous nature, she liked to fancy that it was dangerous.
Even now she had brought herself almost to the verge of tears, just
by picturing to her own mind how sorry everybody would feel when she
actually died of chicken-pox. Grandma Gray thought it might amuse and
interest her to let her make a will, so she brought her a sheet of
paper and a pencil, and instructed her as to the proper form of words
to use.

Here is a copy of Flaxie's will:--

"I, Mary Gray, of Laurel Grove, N. Y., third child of Dr. Ephraim Gray,
do hereby give and bequeath my personal property in the following
manner:--

"_First._ I give and bequeath my pretty doll's piano to Kittyleen
Garland, whose real name is Katharine. I give it to her, because I was
cross to her for scratching my doll's eyes out, and have been sorry for
it ever since. To her heirs and assigns forever.

"_Second._ I give and bequeath my beautiful wax large doll with the new
head to my dear little sister Ethel; but she must not play with it till
she knows how to hold it without letting it fall. I give this to Ethel,
her heirs and assigns forever.

"_Third._ My Bible and all my _nice_ books, and my gold pen and
handsome inkstand to my sister Julia, if she wants them.

"_Fourth._ The money in my box,--I don't know whether to give it to my
father or mother or the missionaries.

"_Fifth._ I cannot think of anything more, and am willing my papa and
mamma should take care of the rest. Their heirs and assigns forever."

"Shall I say amen at the end?" asked Flaxie, who had become very much
interested, and already felt decidedly better.

"Oh, no," replied her father, who had come in and was looking on with
no little amusement; "only sign your name, and then your grandmother
and Preston and I will add our names also, as witnesses. Then it will
be a real will, my daughter, and will stand in court."

Flaxie did not know what he meant by "standing in court," but it
sounded business-like and mysterious, and she took the pen her father
offered her and signed her name with a feeling of great importance.
Then Dr. Gray, grandma, and Preston added their names, and her father
put four seals of red wax on the paper, and the whole thing was
finished, as she believed, "according to law."

After this, for the first time that day, she felt hungry; and just
as she was beginning to wonder if it was not nearly supper-time, her
mother appeared with the tea-tray, on which were some slices of thin
toast, a glass of ruby-colored jelly, and a goblet of milk. Flaxie's
eyes brightened; she felt that life was still worth living, and forgot
to weave any more doleful fancies concerning the chicken-pox.

Next day she was well enough to go down-stairs; and to add to the
pleasure she felt in meeting the whole family together again, her
father announced to her that as soon as the disfiguring blotches should
be gone from her face, she might take a little journey to Hilltop to
"regain her strength."

That was just like Doctor Papa. He was always giving his children happy
surprises; and it was really a blessing to belong to him, and even
to be ill once in a while, for the sake of the compensation which he
always managed should follow the illness.



                              CHAPTER IV.

                         CRACKERS AND CHEESE.


But there is always a drop of bitter in our sweetest cup. In Flaxie's
cup just now were two bitter drops.

First, though she longed for the visit, she regretted to miss "dear,
darling Miss Pike," who was coming from Hilltop next week. Still, as
this excellent lady intended to spend the winter at Dr. Gray's as
governess in his family, Flaxie's being gone at the very first of her
stay did not really matter so much.

As for the second bitter drop, it seemed to Flaxie that if she could
only take this journey alone, with the sole care of her own self,
her own ticket, and her own valise, she should be "perfectly happy."
She was no longer so _very_ young. Last summer she had seen a girl of
her own age travelling alone, with a book, a parasol, and a paper of
candy; and the girl had carried her head so grandly, as if it had long
been her habit to manage her own affairs, and she had looked withal so
fascinating and distinguished, that Flaxie had often thought of her
with envy. Why was _she_ always considered so young and insignificant?
What was lacking in _her_ that she could not also travel alone?

"Why, Frizzle dear, you'd get switched off to Canada or something,"
said Preston. "I shall go with you to keep you on the right track." But
Flaxie insisted.

"Why, I'm nine years old and three months and six days; and it's only
the least bit of a ride to Hilltop, and I know every step of the way."

"You'd make a comical appearance travelling alone, now, wouldn't you?"
returned Preston, who, though the dearest brother in the world, was
becoming of late too much of a tease. He wore steel-bowed spectacles,
and his eyes laughed through them sometimes with a dazzling, flashing
light, which his little sister could not bear to meet. He thought she
had too high an opinion of herself, and he "liked," as he expressed it,
"to take her down."

"I am not sure, indeed, that Flaxie would not have been allowed by her
parents to go to Hilltop alone if it had not been for this same desire
of Preston's to take her down."

Ah, well, there are greater trials in life than travelling with a dear
elder brother, even if he does laugh at you once in a while. But I
must describe this journey, which you will see turned out, after all,
rather differently from what Preston expected.

Flaxie packed her three favorite common dolls, Peppermint Drop, Dr.
Smith, and Christie Gretchen, her box of water-colors, her charcoal
and drawing-paper, all her games and part of her books; but was
persuaded to take out some of these articles, in order to make room
for her clothes. A valise will not hold everything, and clothes are
needed, even for a two weeks' visit. Julia wove her sister's flaxen
curls tightly together in one long braid, so that it might remain
smooth during the journey, and Flaxie stood a long while before the
hall mirror, pulling her hat this way and that, to make sure it
was straight. In her excitement she had hardly stopped to eat any
breakfast; but when the good-bys were all over, and she was walking to
the station with Preston, she suddenly recollected this, and complained
to him that she was hungry.

"Well, that's a funny idea! I believe girls are always hungry," he
responded.

Still the thought disturbed him. He never could bear to have anybody
uncomfortable, and, of course, he would not allow his little sister to
start on a journey fasting.

"See here, Flaxie, we haven't time now to go back for anything to eat;
but couldn't you nibble a cracker, or a ginger-snap, or something?"

And he led her into a small grocery, where a man stood behind the
counter selling a paper of cloves. There were no ginger-snaps to be
had, but the man succeeded in finding some very dry, hard crackers at
the bottom of a barrel. Flaxie did not want the crackers, but thought
it might be impolite to say so. Still less did she want the mouldy,
crumbling cheese, which he produced from its hiding-place under a box.
She looked on in silence while he cut off a pound of this and weighed
it in a piece of brown paper.

"Take one of these crackers, Chicky, and put it in your pocket," said
Preston, in the kindest possible manner; and Flaxie obeyed him, looking
rather downcast. She wished she had not complained of needing food.

There were seventeen more crackers; and these the grocer counted
out, and put in a paper bag, scarcely large enough to hold them. He
was a slow man, who walked with crutches; and while he was debating
whether to get a larger bag or to tie this one up with a string, a
steam-whistle was heard, and the cars whizzed by the door.

Flaxie darted out in quick alarm.

"Oh, don't worry now, don't worry! I know what I'm about, _I_ never get
left," said Preston, in a reassuring tone. He would have liked it much
better if Flaxie had relied entirely upon him. "They are going to stop
at the station to take in freight. People will laugh at you if they see
you run."

Nevertheless he was running, too; for even as he spoke he happened to
remember that this train did not always stop for freight; and indeed
it did not wait now five minutes. The children reached the station out
of breath, and Preston had a scramble to buy tickets, check Flaxie's
valise, and enter the cars with her before the train moved off. It was
rather mortifying; but he did not allow himself to look in the least
chagrined. He adjusted his spectacles, threw his head back a little,
and gazed about him coolly, as if he particularly liked to be late,
and would not on any account have come earlier.

[Illustration: FLAXIE AND THAT MISERABLE CRACKER.--Page 58.]

"Why, if there isn't Kittyleen!" said Flaxie.

But Kittyleen was only going to Rosewood, the next station. "Marfa"
was with her, and would bring her back next day "if she was willing to
come."

Flaxie did not seat herself at once. She had a little chat with
Kittyleen, after which I regret to say she stood on her tiptoes for
some moments, gazing in the mirror at the farther end of the car.

"There, there, sit down, Chicky, your hat is all right," said Preston,
who considered her the prettiest little girl he knew, and felt that she
did him credit. "And here are your check and your ticket. If you ever
expect to travel alone you must learn to take care of your things."

"Oh, yes, I know it! I always keep my ticket when I ride with papa;
and very often he goes into another car and leaves me alone," remarked
Flaxie.

If this was meant as a hint, it was lost on Preston. He began to read
a newspaper, while his young companion looked out of the window at the
trees, houses, and fences that flew past in a dizzy blur. She thought
she would count the trees, just to amuse herself, and had got as far
as eighty-seven, when Preston suddenly tapped her on the shoulder. The
conductor was standing near, waiting for her ticket. Rather bewildered,
yet anxious to appear prompt and experienced, she put her hand hastily
in her pocket, and drew forth, not her ticket, but that miserable,
forgotten cracker.

The conductor, a good-natured, red-cheeked man, said, "No, I thank
you," and shook his sides with laughing.

Flaxie blushed painfully. Once she would not have minded it so very
much, for she had been formerly a pert child; but in growing older,
she was growing more modest, sensitive, and retiring. She withdrew
the cracker and produced the ticket, feeling with shame that she was
behaving very unlike the elegant little girl who travelled with a book,
a parasol, and a paper of candy.

But she was to suffer still more. The conductor had scarcely passed out
of hearing when Preston said, in his wise, elder-brotherly tone, "Here,
child, if this is the way you're going to behave, I might as well have
that ticket myself; your check, too. Oh, yes, and give me the key to
your valise, and now your porte-monnaie. Wouldn't you like to have me
take care of your handkerchief?" He spoke half in jest, still it was
quite too bad of him, for Flaxie was not a careless child; neither did
she need "taking down," or at all events, she did not need it any more
than Preston himself.

"I don't see what makes you think I'm such a baby. I'm only four years
younger than you," she remonstrated, sighing heavily as she handed to
him, one after another, the contents of her little cloak-pocket. He
took them from her with a condescending smile.

"There, now, I feel easier," said he, settling himself comfortably;
"you'll have all _you_ want to do to take care of the crackers and
cheese. Why don't you eat them instead of offering them to the
conductor? He has had his breakfast. Won't they laugh, though, at home,
when I tell them about that?"

"Oh, Preston Gray, if you do tell about that!"

Flaxie had borne her trials thus far with patience, but now the tears
started and she was battling to keep them back. Preston saw that he had
gone too far, and though secretly wondering why it was that "girls can
never take jokes," he resolved to make himself more agreeable during
the rest of the journey.



                              CHAPTER V.

                             SPONGE-CAKE.


"Those crackers aren't very nice, that's a fact," said he, looking
penitently at the overflowing paper bag, which stood upright on the
seat between them.

"Not half as bad as the cheese," returned Flaxie.

"Well, I don't blame you for not liking mouldy cheese; I don't like
it myself," admitted Preston. "But I suppose, now, Chicky, if you had
a piece of pie or a cake or a sandwich, you'd enjoy it, and feel more
comfortable, wouldn't you?"

The gentle tone and manner touched his little sister, and called back
her happiest smiles in a moment.

"Oh, I don't care the least bit about anything! I'm not very hungry,
Preston; really I'm not."

"Yes, but I don't want you to be hungry at all," said the benevolent
brother. "I want people that travel with me to feel all right and have
a good time." Here he took out his purse and looked at the silver
in it; there seemed to be plenty. "I wish a boy would come in with
something besides pop-corn and peanuts, and all that sort of nonsense,
don't you? I'll tell you what I'll do," added he, returning the purse
to his pocket. "I'll get out at Bremen and buy you a great square of
sponge-cake."

"Oh, but Preston, you can't buy it there!"

"What's the reason I can't?"

"Because they don't keep it at Bremen. Sharon is the place; _Sharon_,
near Hilltop."

"Where did you get your information?" returned the lad, rather
ruffled. "As often as I've travelled this road I think I ought to know
that Bremen is a famous place for sponge-cake. There's an old woman
living there that bakes it by the ton."

"Why, Preston Gray, that old woman lives at _Sharon_! I've seen her
my own self. Don't you suppose I know? Why, Uncle Ben has bought
sponge-cake of her ever so many times and brought it home to Aunt
Charlotte."

One of Preston's dazzling smiles shone through his spectacles as he
rejoined,--

"Oh, I dare say he has bought sponge-cake and carried it home to Aunt
Charlotte; but that's no sign he has bought it at Sharon. You're
mistaken, that's all. Now when you get to Bremen, and you see people
stepping out of this car and coming back loaded with sponge-cake,
perhaps you'll give up that I'm right."

Flaxie was ready to retort what she did not believe people _would_ get
out at Bremen, or if they did they would not find any cake. She was
fond of having the last word, but remembering her blunder with the
cracker, she said no more, and even thought meekly,--

"Oh, well, perhaps it _is_ Bremen! I almost hope so, for I don't want
to wait till we get to Sharon."

She had regained her spirits by this time, and found it very pleasant
to be travelling with a kind brother like Preston, who had not a fault
in the world except looking down upon her rather too much.

In a few minutes the train halted at Bremen, a small way-station. It
did not look at all familiar to Preston. He had supposed Bremen was
much larger, but that was probably because he had not been on this road
for a whole year, and had forgotten some of the stopping-places. The
famous old cake-woman; could it be that she lived here? He had half a
mind to ask the conductor; but no; Flaxie would hear him.

"Oh, are you getting out?" said she.

To be sure he was. He was already hurrying down the aisle, too proud to
confess that he could possibly have made a mistake.

He was just behind a woman with a baby in her arms, and had to wait for
both the baby and the woman to be helped out. By the time he had got
out himself, and before he had a moment to look around him, the cars
were moving on again!

It was the most astonishing thing! There he stood at the door of a
wretched little wood-shed, close by the platform, swinging, his arms
and crying, "Stop! stop!" But nobody heard except the baby and its
mother, and nobody answered except the baby with an "Argoo, argoo,"
out of its silly little throat. So this was Bremen! This wood-shed and
two or three houses!

It was a sad predicament for Preston, but a worse one for Flaxie.
She, too, cried, "Stop! stop!" bounding up and down on the seat like
an India-rubber ball. But the cars paid as little heed to her as they
had paid to her brother. On they went, rattle, rattle, rattle. What
cared they for a passenger overboard? What cared they for a passenger's
sister left frantic and forlorn?

She would have appealed to the conductor, but he was in the next car.
So was the brakeman, so was even the pop-corn boy.

The people went on talking and reading without minding her. They
probably thought her a very restless child, for they had not seen her
quiet that morning. So it was not till she began to wring her hands
and sob aloud that they suspected anything unusual had happened.

"What is the matter, little girl?" asked an old lady, leaning forward
and offering her a paper of sassafras lozenges. Flaxie waved it away.

"Was it your brother that just left the car?" asked a kind old
gentleman, suddenly recollecting the handsome lad in spectacles. "Did
he get out on purpose?"

"Yes, sir, oh, yes, sir! on purpose to get me some cake! But he's lost
over! Oh, dear, he's lost over! I can't make 'em stop."

"How far were you going, my child?"

"I don't _know_ how far. I'm going to Hilltop to see Milly Allen. I
don't _know_ how far! Oh, dear, I didn't want any cake. I told him I
wasn't _very_ hungry. I told him the old woman lived at _Sharon_. He
didn't believe what I said, and that's why he got left! Oh, dear, if
he hadn't got out!"

"It isn't safe to get out unless you know where you are going,"
said the old lady wisely; but the remark did not seem to be of any
particular use just now. And then she put the sassafras lozenges back
in her satchel. _They_ didn't seem to be of any particular use, either.

"Oh, dear!" wailed Flaxie, "if I'd only travelled alone! I wanted to
travel alone!"

The old gentleman did not quite understand. It seemed to him that she
certainly _was_ travelling alone, and if that was what she wanted she
ought to be satisfied.

He folded his newspaper, put it in his hat, and came to sit down
beside her. He was a better comforter than the old lady, for he had
a dozen dear grandchildren at home, while she, poor soul, had only a
tortoise-shell cat.

"I wouldn't shed another least drop of a tear," said the good old
gentleman, hitting and upsetting the crackers, which tumbled out of the
bag upon the floor. "Not one tear would I shed," said he, picking up
the crackers. "Your brother will come on to Hilltop to-morrow, or maybe
he can come this very afternoon; and then won't you both laugh about
this? You'll ask him, 'Where's that cake?' And what do you suppose
he'll answer to that?"

"Oh, I don't want the cake; _that_ isn't what I want. My head aches and
my throat aches, and I've just had the chicken-pox; and--and--oh, dear,
I wish I was at home!"

"Where is your home, my little girl?"

"My home is at Laurel Grove, near Rosewood."

"And what is your name and your father's name?"

"He is Dr. Gray, and I am Mary Frances Gray."

"Ah, indeed! Why, I know your father very well," said the cheery old
gentleman. "Will you shake hands? There, now, we're good friends,
aren't we? And I'm going to Hilltop and beyond. I'm Dr. White,--tell
your papa,--_old_ Dr. White. Let's see, have you any ticket?"

Flaxie uttered a cry of despair. Till that moment she had not realized
the full extent of her woes.

"Oh, Preston took my ticket, and my money, and _all_ my things! Oh,
_should_ you have thought he would?"

"Ah, well; we'll see what we can do," said Dr. White.

"Oh, when I get to Hilltop I can't open my valise, for where's my
check? I mean my key! Oh, if I'd travelled alone! Preston wanted to
take care of me; but he's taken care of me _too much_!"

Dr. White found it hard to keep his face properly sober; yet he knew
his little friend would consider a smile very ill-timed.

"I've been to Hilltop more than ever he has, for Milly Allen is just
my age; and I could have gone alone _beau_tifully. He has bothered me
so. But he didn't mean to bother me," added she, ashamed to complain of
him before a stranger. "Only--" Here she sprang up suddenly, and those
miserable crackers rolled out again, followed by the cheese,--"only I
ought to have a ticket, you know. Do conductors ever let you travel
without your ticket?" asked she, raising her brimming eyes anxiously to
her new friend's face.

"It depends upon circumstances, Miss Mary. This conductor will do it,
I'll be bound."

"Will he? Oh, I'm so glad!" said Flaxie, greatly relieved, though
rather surprised. Why should this conductor let _her_ go free? He had
never seen her before, and knew nothing about her except that she
carried crackers in her pocket. He appeared presently, smiling and
holding out his hand; but after Dr. White had said something to him in
a low tone, he patted Flaxie's head with an "All right. Don't lose your
luncheon, my dear," and passed on to the next seat.

"Did you tell him how my brother got lost over? Did you tell him
everything?" asked Flaxie, looking quite gay and excited.

"Yes, almost everything. And now your troubles are over, Miss Mary,
for he will give your name to the new conductor, and then when we get
to Hilltop I can put you in a hack that will take you right to your
uncle's door."

"Oh, no, sir, I don't want any hack! Uncle Ben will be there, waiting
for me, with a sleigh, and Cousin Freddy, too. They always come to the
depot with a sleigh, except in the summer, and then they come with a
carryall or a wagon."

And, in truth, on arriving at Hilltop, the first persons to be seen
were Uncle Ben Allen, his son Freddy, and, best of all, his daughter
Milly, Flaxie's darling "twin cousin."

"But where's Preston?" asked Freddy.

"He stopped at a wood shed on the way, to buy a piece of sponge-cake,"
replied Dr. White, shaking hands with Uncle Ben, as Freddy tucked
Flaxie into the sleigh.



                              CHAPTER VI.

                             A NEW FRIEND.


Preston lingered at the wood-shed and about the tiny station of Bremen
all that morning and most of the afternoon. It was a very solitary
place, and he had ample time for reflection.

"Well, this is one way to take care of your little sister! Anybody'd
think I was five years old! I can't stand it to be such a fool! Oh ho!
I thought 'twas great fun, didn't I, to make her give up her money and
tickets? I wanted to 'take her down,' but now I'm taken down myself,
and how do I like it?"

To judge by his clouded face and the stamping he made with his heels,
he did not like it at all. "Poor little Flaxie, I know she's rushing
round that car and crying! What will she do with herself? _She_ won't
get off anywhere? Oh, no, _Flaxie_ isn't such a goose as to get off
a car unless there's some sense in it! There's only one goose in the
family, and that's Preston Gray. No, _she_ won't get off. And let's
see, the conductor will remember her, on account of that cracker.
He'll know she did have a ticket, so of course he'll let her go free.
_She_'ll do well enough. She'll make friends on the cars; she's always
making friends, she's so pretty and sweet."

In this way, by praising his sister and scolding himself, Preston
tried to find a little consolation as he strode up and down the narrow
sleigh-track--which the people of Bremen called a road. What he ought
to do he could not decide.

After a while a man came along the road, dragging a pail of flour on
a sled. "Do you know how far it is to Hilltop, sir?" asked Preston,
feeling himself very young and small, for the man stared at him as if
_he_ considered him a mere baby, and thought of taking him up pickaback.

"Hilltop, did you ask? Why, where are your folks? Where did you come
from, travelling round here alone?"

"Oh, I came from Laurel Grove, just the other side of Rosewood,"
replied Preston, as dignified as a boy _can_ be who feels himself
crushed to the earth by unmerited contempt. "I got off the cars a few
minutes ago, and--and--thought I'd wait for the next train. When does
the next train go?"

"Well, it beats me to guess what you got off the cars for!" said this
very disrespectful man, setting one foot on the sled and eying Preston
all over. "You hadn't ought to get off the cars, sonny, it ain't safe;
children get their necks broke that way."

"Can you tell me how far it is to Hilltop?" asked Preston, with an
increase of dignity.

"Well, it's a good fifty miles or more, and you can't go till five
o'clock this afternoon. You'd better speak to the folks that live in
that red house yonder, and ask 'em to see you safe on board the cars,
and when you once get on, you stick there! Don't you get off this side
of Hilltop. Now mind, little shaver!" And with this very cutting advice
and another disrespectful stare, the man toiled on with his sled and
the pail of flour.

"I hope he was impolite enough," thought Preston, indignantly. He did
not relish being looked down upon. Neither had Flaxie relished it, you
remember. "So I can't get to Hilltop till evening. A pretty piece of
work! They'll be just rising from the supper-table, Flaxie and all;
and won't they have a jolly time laughing at me? They'll ask what I
came for at that time of day? Freddy'll call me a caterpillar and a
snail, and everything else he can think of. No, _sir_, you don't catch
me going to Hilltop to be laughed at! All I went for in the first place
was to take care of Flaxie. No fun in it now. No use, either! Guess
I'll go home. But what shall I do with the check and the purse and the
key? Oh, Flaxie, I wish I'd let you alone."

While he was lamenting in this strain, he became conscious of a pair
of sorrowful eyes raised to his face. They were the eyes of a thin and
unhappy-looking but handsome black and white spaniel. It was a tender,
respectful gaze; and to a boy who has just felt himself looked down
upon, it is consoling to be looked up to, even by a dog.

"Here, Rover, Rover, good fellow! Here, Rover," said he, softly patting
the shaggy head.

There was a magical charm for all animals in Preston's touch; and this
poor creature crouched before him with a mournful, loving whine, got
in front of him as he moved about, sat down at his feet and licked his
boots when he stood still, and behaved altogether as if he had found a
dear friend.

"I can't think what you mean, Rover. There, that's your name, I know by
the way you wag your tail! But, Rover, you never saw _me_ before. What
makes you think you know me?"

The handsome animal whined again at the sound of Preston's voice,
pushing his nose into the boy's hand, and going off into a sort of
dog-ecstasy. It was really quite touching. All the more so as there
was something in the curl of his tail, the droop of his ears, that
suggested to Preston his own lost dog, the beloved and ever-lamented
Tantra Bogus.

"Tantra Bogus was larger and sleeker and fatter, but he had the same
white spot in his forehead and his eyes were the same color," said
Preston, his heart stirred with tender memories, as he stooped and laid
his cheek lovingly against the rough black face.

"Ah, Rover, you do love me! But I can't see why! I guessed your name,
and I'll warrant I can guess who your master is, too. It's that
impudent man with the sled. Because, sir, you've been half starved, and
he's just the man to starve a dog."

There was a crunching sound in the snow, and Preston looked up, half
expecting to see the "impudent man" again; but this time it was a lady.
Certainly they had strange people in Bremen, for this lady was the
ugliest being he had ever seen. Large, half-open lips, big red nose,
small red eyes. But he did not forget to raise his cap respectfully.

"Dear old Rover, I'm glad he's found a friend at last," said the lady
to Preston, in the sweetest tones. "He lost his master three weeks ago,
and mourns him so much that it is very pitiful. He won't stay in the
house with his master's family, but lingers about this shed day and
night."

"Poor fellow, poor fellow," said Preston; and the dog capered about
him, going out of his head again with rapture.

"Yes," said the lady, setting down a little bundle in the snow, and
weaving the silver pin more securely into her shawl, "you are the very
first person Rover has cared for, or taken the least notice of. The
family are afraid he will starve to death. There, now! I have an idea!
But perhaps you are in a hurry?" added she, with a particularly sweet
smile. It was surprising how an ugly mouth like hers could smile so
agreeably.

"No, ma'am, no hurry. I've got to wait seven hours. Going to--going
to--"

Here Preston's words were lost in an indistinct muttering, his mouth
being pretty close to Rover's nose.

"Then if you'll wait here a few minutes I'll bring Rover something to
eat. They'll all be so glad; and perhaps he'll take it from _you_,
though he won't from any one else."

Observe, she did not address Preston as "sonny," or call him a
"shaver." She did not even say "my boy" or "my child" or "my dear," or
ask him any embarrassing questions.

He was convinced that she was a perfect lady, and answered briskly,--

"Oh, do bring him a piece of meat, ma'am! You see I can wait, for I'm
going to--"

But not knowing whether to say Hilltop or Laurel Grove, he prudently
left the sentence unfinished.

The lady hastened to the red house near by, and Preston, still
caressing the dog, watched her as she returned with a light step,
bearing a plate of meat in her hand. There was something very
interesting about her homeliness; he could not help looking at her
face, and the more he looked the better he liked it.

"This is nice roast beef, a real Thanksgiving dinner, Rover," said she,
with loving good-will. "Do eat it and make me happy."

As if he were grateful, and really anxious to please her, this dog,
who had so long refused his food, thrust his nose immediately into the
heaped-up plate before him and began to eat. If Preston moved away,
however, he stopped, turned about, and followed him uneasily.

"It is very plain that the charm lies in you," said the lady, smiling,
as Preston patted Rover's head, and he began to eat again.

It had been dreadful, she said, to see him pining away, and to hear him
moaning day and night. Mrs. Danforth, his master's widow, could hardly
bear it, and her son, who lived with her, had declared that Rover must
be taken out of town and given to a new master or he would surely die
of grief.

"Now look here, ma'am," cried Preston, looking up with sudden
animation, "why couldn't he go home with me? I've lost my dog. Why
couldn't he go home with me and be _my_ dog, you know?"

"I don't see why not, if you would like him. I know Mr. Danforth would
be glad to give him up to a boy so kind as you are. Where do you live?"

"At Laurel Grove, ma'am." And feeling a growing desire to stand well in
the lady's esteem, he tried to explain the situation.

"But I--perhaps I sha'n't go home--that is, not to-day. I didn't know
what I _should_ do. I stopped here on the way. I hadn't decided, you
know," said he, vaguely.

The lady looked at him in some surprise. Perhaps she doubted whether he
could be trusted with a dog. But she did not say anything like that.
"Do you live at Laurel Grove? Why, that is just where _I_ am going. I
came from Hilltop yesterday to visit the Danforths on my way, and I'm
going to Laurel Grove to-day, to Dr. Gray's."

"Why, Dr. Gray is my father! And now I know who _you_ are. You're Miss
Pike! I might have known it was you," he went on, thinking aloud, "for
you look just as I expected you would."

He could not dream how this little speech hurt Miss Pike. She had moved
forward to shake hands with him, but at his last words her cheeks
flushed and she drew back again. Was she thinking that very likely he
had heard her called "that homely Miss Pike?"

But the next moment she smiled pleasantly, holding out her hand.

"And now I know who _you_ are. You're Master Preston Gray. 'I might
have known it was you, for you look just as I expected you would!'"

"Oh, Flaxie told you I wore spectacles, _didn't_ she?" Preston was
somewhat sensitive about those. "I have to wear them, for if I take
them off I'm blind almost," said he by way of apology.

"Yes, I know, you dear blessed boy! Your sister has told me, and all
the Allen family have told me, too, how patient you've been. I'm so
glad I've met you, Master Preston. And now what shall I say to your
father when I shall see him to-day?"

The boy looked up, and then he looked down. "Oh, are you going to see
my father to-day?"

"Yes, I shall start at three o'clock this afternoon in the baggage-car.
I'm told there's no passenger-car, and I must go as baggage, or wait
till six o'clock to-morrow morning, and I don't like to start so early
as that, should you?"

"No, ma'am, I shouldn't; it's pretty dark at six. Look here, Miss Pike,
if I take Rover I shall have to take him in the baggage car, sha'n't I?"

"Yes, I suppose so."

"Well, I've a good mind to take him to-day, if Mr. Danforth will let
me. I don't want to go to Hilltop now; it isn't very convenient."

"Ah?" said Miss Pike.

"I didn't care much about going to Hilltop anyway, not now; I only came
to take care of my little sister."

"Ah?" said Miss Pike again, with an upward slide to her voice.

"Oh, I suppose you think I didn't take care of her very well. I suppose
you think it's sort of queer my being here, but you see--"

Here he struggled so long with something in his throat that she helped
him by saying,--

"Oh, possibly you got left."

What a bright, far-seeing woman she was!

"Yes, ma'am, I did get left. That was just how it was. If it had not
been for trying to get some sponge-cake--"

"Well, I'm glad you stopped here," broke in the delightful Miss Pike,
who seemed to care nothing at all about the little particulars. So good
of her _not_ to care! "I'm glad I met you. And as your little sister
will not need you any more, couldn't you go home this afternoon to
be company for me?--Why, just see, Rover has eaten every bit of his
dinner!"

"Oh, I'd like to go with you, ma'am, if I hadn't carried off Flaxie's
check and key," demurred Preston. "You see, I took them to keep them
safe."

Rather too safe, Miss Pike thought; but she said, without the shadow of
a smile, "Why not send the key and check to your sister by mail?"



                             CHAPTER VII.

                        THAT HOMELY MISS PIKE.


And so it was settled. Preston dined at the red house; and Mr.
Danforth, who turned out to be a very different person from the man
with the sled, was glad enough to give up Rover to a gentle, well-bred
little boy, who would be sure to treat him kindly.

"I never saw you before," said Mr. Danforth, "but I know your father
very well; and I am not afraid to trust my dog to the care of Dr.
Gray's son."

Accordingly, Miss Pike and Preston and Rover had a very cosey ride home
that afternoon in the baggage-car. So very cosey it was and so social,
with nobody to disturb them but the baggage-master occasionally coming
in and going out, that Preston almost laid his heart bare before the
kindly Miss Pike. He told her how dreadful it was to have your eyes
cut with sharp instruments; how tedious it was to recite Latin to Mr.
Garland; how fine it would be to leave off study and become a gentleman
farmer, with the chance of receiving silver prizes for sheep and
poultry.

She listened with motherly sympathy, and he was tempted to go still
further, and relate the history of all his sisters and his little
brother. It might amuse her to hear Flaxie's great composition,
entitled "Domestic Animals," the one she wrote last fall, that had been
so freely laughed at by everybody far and near. He knew it by heart,
every single word of it; but just as he was about to say, "Oh, Miss
Pike, would you like to hear what a funny composition Flaxie wrote last
fall?" a sudden thought checked him.

Was this a kind thing to do? The composition was very foolish,
certainly, but his little sister had long ago grown thoroughly ashamed
of it, though very proud of it at first.

"It would cut her up dreadfully to have Miss Pike hear it. So what's
the use? I'm sure I don't like to have Flaxie make fun of _me_,"
thought he. He had been greatly humbled to-day, and nothing makes us so
tender of others as suffering keenly ourselves.

Miss Pike had been struck from the first with the remarkably frank and
noble expression of Preston's face. Possibly she would have admired
him still more if she had known of the temptation he was resisting. It
_was_ a temptation, for the composition would have amused Miss Pike,
and he knew it. Here it is, that you may see it for yourselves.


                         FLAXIE'S COMPOSITION.

                          "DOMESTIC ANIMALS.

"There is classed throughout the species domestic animals. The cat is
very domestic, and the turkey and the spider and the cow. The elephant
is not very domestic, but he is a very useful animal. The pig is a very
useful animal and very domestic. Were it not for the pig, what should
we have to bake with our beans, or in which to fry our doughnuts?
Ought we not then to be very thankful to the domestic animals for thus
treating us so kindly?"

                   *       *       *       *       *

Preston never afterward thought of this little trip without the warmest
gratitude to Miss Pike. He had dreaded meeting the family, but
she explained matters to them so charmingly that nobody thought of
laughing at him. And then the handsome Rover was such a surprise and
so generally admired that the mishaps of the day, dreadful as they had
been at the time, seemed hardly worth mentioning now.

"So you've been adopted by a dog, my son," said Dr. Gray.

"How nice it was that you stopped at Bremen!" said Julia. "I suppose
you really saved poor Rover's life. But then if it hadn't been just
you, he wouldn't have 'adopted' you. You make dogs love you by just
looking at them."

"And I don't wonder," thought Miss Pike.

Until to-day she had never seen any of the Gray family except Mrs. Gray
and Flaxie, but now, as she gazed about the room, she perceived at once
that it was a most delightful home. Mrs. Gray was a pretty, black-eyed
woman, who seldom sat still many minutes at a time except when the
children were safely asleep. Dr. Gray was a large, cheerful, agreeable
man, fond of telling short stories. Julia, almost a young lady, had a
remarkably sweet face, and it was a pleasure to see what care she took
of noisy Phil and dainty little Ethel.

But loveliest of all was Madam Gray, the little fairy grandmother, with
her white hair, white cap, white ribbons, and dear, benevolent face.
She sat peacefully knitting, in her easy-chair, while everybody was
talking and laughing around her; and Miss Pike fancied she was thinking
of the friends of her youth, for something in her calm and quiet face
seemed to say,--

  "They are all gone into a world of light,
    And I alone sit lingering here."

"And long may you linger, you dear, sweet, beautiful old lady," thought
Miss Pike, who knew, without being told, that the whole family were
better for blessed Grandma Gray.

In a little more than two weeks Flaxie returned from Hilltop, this time
"all sole alone," declaring she had had a "perfectly lovely visit,"
that well repaid her for the chicken-pox. She confided to her mother
that it was easy enough travelling alone, for then you could keep your
ticket and your check, and were not burdened with any troublesome
crackers and cheese. But she said nothing of this sort to Preston, for
her mother assured her it was wiser to drop the subject. Mrs. Gray
never approved of teasing.

Miss Pike was gratified to see that Flaxie had improved very much since
the days when she went to school with the twin cousin, Milly Allen, at
Hilltop.

"The pure and gentle influences of her home are moulding her into a
fine little girl. She is less rude, less forward, more amiable, and
thoughtful of others."

For her part, Flaxie told everybody that Miss Pike was her "favorite
friend," and it made her "too happy for anything" to have her in the
house all the time.

Lessons were taught every morning in the large pink chamber over the
dining-room. It was a school for the whole family, from Julia, who
learned French and painting, down to tiny Ethel, who was allowed
sometimes to sit in the room and draw pictures on the slate, or hold
kitty in her lap, if she wouldn't "'peak one word."

Yes, and often Rover came, too, the quietest scholar of all, and
perfectly happy to crouch at his young master's feet and receive a
caressing pat now and then.

It was far more interesting than going to the brick school-house, which
was poorly heated and not ventilated at all. Flaxie was inclined to
sore throats and Julia to headaches, and it was for their sakes that
Doctor Papa had decided this winter to have a governess in the house.

He could not have chosen a better one. Miss Pike was an excellent young
lady, highly educated and refined. Moreover, there was a peculiar charm
about her, you hardly knew what it was, though you could not be with
her five minutes without feeling it.

Flaxie remembered how she used to go to the white school-house at
Hilltop with her cousin Milly, and sit and admire Miss Pike, and
"wish she could see her soul," which Aunt Charlotte said was so much
more beautiful than her face. And now Flaxie sat in an armed chair in
the pink chamber and admired her just the same. Somehow there was a
happy feeling all over the room because Miss Pike was in it. Flaxie's
thoughts grew calm and pleasant, as if the world were made of sunshine
and flowers; and she wished with all her heart to be truly good and
always growing better. She hoped she should never do another wrong
thing as long as she lived.

But there was one drawback to this home school, and that was Kittyleen.
Did anything ever happen at the village, particularly at Dr. Gray's,
that Kittyleen Garland did not find it out sooner or later? No, indeed.
It was of no use trying to keep this little brown-eyed maid away unless
you locked the door.

"I can read some now. If I go to school I can read _all_," said Miss
Kittyleen, coming in all out of breath and peeping at the children from
between the rounds of a chair.

Then Flaxie had to take her down-stairs to Mrs. Gray, who dropped her
work to amuse her.

Next day it would be the same thing over again.

"Fought I'd come up and look out o' your winner, Miss Pike.--There now,
Effel, draw a little baby on the slate, and I'll say oh! oh!"

But Ethel, who had been taught to obey orders, always shook her head
sternly at Kittyleen, whispering, "Effie don't 'peak a word."

Miss Pike was never vexed with sweet little wayward Kittyleen; but she
did think Mrs. Garland ought to keep her at home. It was Flaxie whose
temper was most tried, for Flaxie was always the one to take the young
rogue down-stairs; and she found it hard sometimes to refrain from
shaking her just a wee bit.

"What _made_ you throw Ethel's kitty out of the window?" she would
say. "_You_ are the little girl that picked my dolly's eyes out. O,
Kittyleen, I made my will, and I _was_ going to give you the prettiest,
cunningest present; but if you don't stay at home I shall make my will
all over again, and not give you one single thing."

Kittyleen had often heard of Flaxie's "will," and had formed various
opinions as to what it might be. Sometimes she thought it was a very
large pin-cushion, sometimes she thought it was a sort of Christmas
box; but she always cried when Flaxie said she should "make it all over
again," feeling that this was more than she could bear.

"O Flatsie, please don't," she would plead, with her little arms around
her friend's neck. "It's such a _pretty_ will! Me velly much obliged."

"Oh, you good-for-nothing, darling little goosie. Let me kiss that
snarl of hair. Does your hair ache, Kittyleen, when it is snarled?"

So the scolding generally ended in a kiss, for let Baby Kittyleen do
what she would, Flaxie very well knew there was no guile in her tiny
heart.

"Do you suppose, mamma, I'll ever grow patient and good, like you
and grammy and Miss Pike?" asked Flaxie one night, in a tone of deep
discouragement. "I can't keep my patience with Kittyleen when she comes
and rubs out my figures on the slate. Why, mamma, I was real naughty
to-day, I _lost my calm_."

"But you do try to be patient, dear, I know you try," said Mrs. Gray.

"Yes, mamma, but I lost my calm," repeated the little girl dolefully.
"I ought not to. I ought to do unto Kittyleen as I'd like to have other
people do unto Ethel. That's the Golden-Rule way, Julia says. And
should I like to have anybody whirl Ethel round by the shoulders and
call her a _disgustable_ girl?"

"She is a remarkably sweet child, my daughter. She loves you in spite
of everything."

"Well, mamma, I love her, too, only I'd love her better if she didn't
always go where she isn't wanted."

"Kittyleen goes _everywhere_," broke in little Ethel, on a high key.
"She goes to church, Kittyleen does. Mayn't I go to church, I won't
'peak a word."

"Oh, mamma, do let her," said Flaxie, forgetting her late distress of
mind, and taking up a new subject. "She'd behave ever so much better
than Kittyleen; and she has a new bonnet, too."

"Do you suppose it does Kittyleen any good to go to church?" asked Mrs.
Gray, smiling.

"No'm, but it would do Ethel good, for she'd sit still and hear every
word like a little lady."

"Do _you_ hear every word, Mary?"

"N--o, mamma, not always, but I mean to. And Ethel has such a pretty
bonnet."

"Please, mamma," echoed the little one eagerly, "such a pretty bonnet.
And I won't 'peak a word."

"Well," said Mrs. Gray, kissing baby's cherry lips. "Perhaps we'll let
the _bonnet_ go to church; we will see."



                             CHAPTER VIII.

                           FLAXIE IN CHURCH.


The little one went to church the very next Sunday, and though sister
"Ninny" had her in charge, Flaxie felt that she could not drop her off
her own mind for a moment. So charming was wee Ethel in her blue silk
bonnet, with a lace frill about the face, that Flaxie was obliged to
turn half around and gaze at her, completely lost in admiration.

"Oh, she's the sweetest, best little dear! Ninny needn't say she isn't
as pretty as Kittyleen, for she certainly is! Anyway, her _bonnet_ is
just as pretty, and a great deal newer! Now there's Fanny Townsend's
little sister, I should think Fanny'd be ashamed to have her wear such
a bonnet."

Good Mr. Lee was preaching a sermon, which he thought the children in
the congregation could nearly all understand; but the words seemed
to Flaxie to run together without any meaning; she was not trying to
listen.

"How Kittyleen does nestle about! Her mother doesn't watch her a
bit. She lets her do everything and go everywhere. I think she's a
queer woman. My mamma wouldn't let Ethel stir out of the house if she
couldn't behave better than Kittyleen. No, she'd tie her in a chair.

"Why, there's Sadie Stockwell sitting with Aunty Prim. That's my dress
Sadie has on. Pity Sadie's father can't buy her any dresses! Pity he
drinks so, and is so poor! Pity Sadie is so lame, with her shoulders
all hitched up! How kind of Miss Pike, to give Sadie that beautiful
book! When I grow up I'm going to be just like Miss Pike and make
people love me. Perhaps I can be good if I'm _not_ very homely."

Here Flaxie stole another glance at Ethel's bonnet. "Darling! She's
just as still as a lady. I suppose she's saying to herself, 'Effel
won't 'peak a word.' What if she _should_ speak! Just think! I wonder
if Mr. Lee knows she's at church? He loves Ethel, for he sent her a
little box of honey. I shouldn't think he'd like to keep bees. I should
think he'd be afraid they'd sting his little boy.--There, I must look
up at Mr. Lee and hear what he says."

She raised her eyes to the pulpit. "How queer his head looks where the
hair is so bald! The top of it is just as smooth and white! Why, it
shines like the ivory ball on Ninny's parasol. What did make Mr. Lee's
hair all go off? Doctor Papa said _he_ didn't know what made it go off,
for Mr. Lee isn't old a bit, he's almost young." Gazing at the smooth,
ivory-white top of the minister's head naturally reminded the little
girl of something Phil had said not long ago when his hair was to be
cut.

"Please don't cut it _very_ short," said little Phil, "don't cut it as
short as Mr. Lee's."

Flaxie was in great danger of smiling as she recollected this.

"Why don't I listen to the sermon?" thought she. "It's very wicked not
to listen. Oh, he's gone way by the text! What is he saying about the
brook of Cherith? They don't have Bible places in my geography, and I
never heard of the brook of Cherith."

Next moment, after a fond glance at Ethel, her eye fell upon Preston,
and this gave still another turn to her thoughts.

"I should think Preston would be ashamed ever to say anything more to
me about my 'Domestic Animals.' The composition he wrote the other day
is ever so much worse than that."

It was "The Story of Evangeline." Miss Pike had read Longfellow's
beautiful poem aloud, and then asked the children to write down all
they could remember of it.

Here, in Preston's own words, is


                       THE STORY OF EVANGELINE.

"Evangeline lived in Nova Scotia. She was engaged to Gabriel. He was
a blacksmith's son. The English soldiers came and told the French to
leave. They left. Evangeline and Gabriel did not go on the same boat.
They got mixed up and separated. Evangeline did not like it. She and
her priest went all round out West to try to find Gabriel. He did not
try to find _her_. Then she heard he had gone up North to trade for
mules, and she went to hunt him up. She did not find him. Then she grew
very old and went to live with the Quakers. She was a nun. One Sunday
morning she picked some flowers and went to the poor-house, and found
an old man in bed dying. She said, Gabriel. He looked up. They kissed
each other and he died."

Dr. Gray said this story ought to be entitled "The Fatal Effects of a
Kiss." Even grandma had laughed heartily on reading it, though Preston
himself could see nothing in it to laugh at.

But it was by no means of Evangeline or her fatal kiss that Preston was
thinking just now. Sitting quietly beside his father, he was looking
up at the minister and drinking in every word of the sermon. He had
long been noted for his excellent behavior at church, and Mr. Lee had
more than once said to the boy's father that none of the grown people
listened to their pastor with more respectful attention than young
Preston Gray. I am afraid Mr. Lee would not have said anything like
that about Flaxie. She sat still enough, often very still indeed, but
her eyes were roving all about, and so were her thoughts.

Miss Pike observed this, and it occurred to her that it would be a
very sad thing if Flaxie should allow her inattention to grow into a
confirmed habit. Very likely she said something of the sort to Dr.
Gray, for she felt a great interest in the child's improvement. At any
rate, that afternoon, when the four o'clock dinner was over and the
Gray family were seated in the back parlor,--Miss Pike, grandma, and
all,--Doctor Papa said, rather unexpectedly,--

"Now suppose we ask these little people what the sermon was about this
morning?"

He chanced to be looking at Flaxie as he spoke, but she said quickly,--

"Oh, please ask Julia first, papa, for she is the oldest. No, I mean
Ethel, for she is the youngest."

This was too absurd.

"Isn't _Phil_ young enough? Perhaps we may begin with him. Think hard,
my son, and see if you can remember anything Mr. Lee said to-day."

Little Phil knitted his brows, but like Flaxie he had been looking
around, not listening.

"Oh, papa, there was a woman there, had a thing on all bangled with
beads."

"Yes, my son; but what did the minister say?" Phil rolled his eyes.

"Oh, there was a little girl there, about as big as Ethel, had a white
bonnet on and a white cloak."

"Yes; but what did the minister say?"

"Oh, Ethel," said crestfallen little Phil, turning to his baby sister
for comfort, "you and I are too small. We can't remember what they
preach, can we?"

"We won't be too hard on you, my little son," said Doctor Papa. "You
are only five years old; but I am sure Mr. Lee says some things that
even you can understand. Will you really try next Sunday to listen?"

"I don't know how, papa," replied the little fellow, dropping his head.

"But I only asked you to try. You can try, can't you, Philip? Now, next
Sunday afternoon there will be a particularly large, yellow banana in
the fruit-dish at dessert, and it will go to the small boy who can tell
me something--just a little something--the minister said."

Phil's eyes began to shine. Oh, wouldn't he look straight at Mr. Lee
next Sunday, and bring home lots and lots of the sermon!

"There, it's Flaxie's turn now," said he, as Flaxie with a very sober
face wedged her chair between her mother and Miss Pike.

"Mr. Lee said," began she, hurriedly, "he said something about a
brook,--I forget the name of the brook,--and he said something about a
man,--I can't think what the man's name was,--and the ravens came and
fed him."

"The ravens are right. Go on. Why did the ravens feed him?"

"I don't know, papa." Flaxie looked helpless. "I didn't hear the rest.
I had to watch Ethel for fear she'd talk."

Dr. Gray said nothing more. He merely looked at his little daughter.

"Oh, papa, I won't do so again. I won't, truly. I'll hear every single
word. But sometimes, you know, I can't understand."

"You could have understood this, my daughter; it was all very simple.
Now, Preston?"

"It was about the prophet Elijah, sir. Elijah was a very solemn kind of
man. He lived alone in the mountains and talked with God. There was a
wicked king called Ahab, who worshipped idols, and Elijah went to him
and told him it was wrong, and Ahab was very angry, and Elijah had to
run away. He was told to go to the brook Cherith and drink the waters
of it, and the ravens would come and feed him. And the ravens did.
They brought him bread and meat night and morning till the brook dried
up and Elijah had to go somewhere else. I believe," said Preston,
reflecting, "I believe that's all I can remember."

"You have done well. Do you know to what nation Elijah belonged?"

"No, sir."

"Can Julia tell?"

"Yes, sir, he was an Arab." Julia always looked very modest and pretty
in answering questions. She went on now, with her hands folded in her
lap. "Elijah had long thick hair hanging down his back, and he wore a
cape of sheepskin; they called it a mantle. And he used to hide his
face in it sometimes, and sometimes he rolled it up and used it for a
staff."

"What is a raven?"

"It is a kind of crow."

"Oh, I thought it was a kind of ostrich," said Flaxie.

This extraordinary statement brought a smile to Preston's face, but his
father said, "I was just thinking of a little story about an ostrich.
God has strange ways of saving people's lives sometimes."

The children looked attentive, and Mrs. Gray drew Ethel into her lap to
keep her quiet, while papa pared his orange and began:

"It was more than fifty years ago that Mr. Broadbent, a missionary, was
travelling in Cape Colony. Where is that, Mary?"

"Oh, Africa, Africa; way down there at the bottom of the map."

"He had his family with him, and a few friends and some Hottentots.
There were fourteen in the party. They were crossing a sandy
table-land. What is that, Julia?"

"High and flat land, like a table."

"Right. They rode in wagons, drawn by oxen. It was a week's journey,
but they had not enough food to start with, and could buy but little
at the last town on the way. So after they had travelled two days there
was not much left but a small sack of rice and some tea and coffee.
What would become of them? Five more days across a country where
nothing grew, not even a blade of grass! Now and then they saw a bird
flying overhead, but it was very swift, and far away, and they could
hardly ever hit it with their guns."

"Oh, dear, did they starve?" asked Flaxie.

"There, now, if those birds had only been ravens!"

"The party stopped to rest, and they sent one of the Hottentots to
watch the oxen; but I dare say he fell asleep, for several of the oxen
strayed away.

"It seemed a great pity, for he had to go to look them up and was gone
a long time, and the travellers could not afford to wait."

"Well, if they were going to starve, papa, it didn't make any
difference whether they waited or not."

"When the Hottentot came back he had a great piece of news to tell. He
had found the nest of an ostrich, with forty eggs in it."

"Oh, papa, are ostrich eggs good to eat? Do tell us about it."

"So I will, my daughter, if I am not interrupted too often."

Flaxie blushed, and hid her face on Miss Pike's shoulder.

"The nest of an ostrich is a curiosity, and Mr. Broadbent waded through
two or three miles of deep sand to see this one. You would think the
mother bird had studied arithmetic all her life, for she seemed to have
counted the eggs and set them in their places with perfect exactness.
In the middle were fourteen close together, and three or four feet away
from them were the other twenty-six eggs in an unbroken circle, as even
as a row of gold beads.

"The ostrich had been sitting on the ones in the middle. She expected
to hatch just fourteen birds. She had not sat on the outer eggs at
all, and there they were, entirely fresh and good to eat. She was
saving them as food for the babies. She meant to break them, one after
another, and give them to her chickens as fast as they should come out
of the shell.

"It would be just as much food as the fourteen little ones would need,
before they were old enough to go abroad with her and pick up their
living in the desert. How do you suppose the ostrich knew this? She had
hardly any brain, a very stupid bird indeed. It must have been taught
her directly from Heaven.

"Well, you see now that the travellers did not starve. For a meal they
broke one of these eggs into a bowl, beat it well, and mixed with it a
little flour, pepper, and salt, and fried it in a pan. It served very
well instead of bread with their tea and coffee, and when they arrived
at their station they had two or three eggs to spare."

"Is that all?" asked Preston, as his father paused and offered a piece
of orange to Ethel. "It was almost as good as the ravens, wasn't it?"

"I want to ask one question," said Julia. "How large is an ostrich egg?"

"It weighs perhaps three pounds, and is almost as large around the
middle as Ethel's waist."

"Well, I'm glad those people didn't starve," remarked Flaxie, "I was
afraid one while they would."

I have introduced this true story here, partly for its own sake, and
partly to give you a picture of one of the delightful Sunday afternoons
at Dr. Gray's. If I had time I would like to tell you of the strong
efforts which Flaxie made from this very day to overcome the bad habit
of letting her thoughts wander in church. But this book is so small,
and there are yet so many events waiting to be described, that I must
now hasten on to something else.

In April Miss Pike went home, carrying with her the hearts of all the
Grays, both young and old. The whole family insisted so strongly upon
her coming back the next winter that she said,--

"Thank you; perhaps I may come, for I have been very happy at Laurel
Grove, and love every one of you dearly. But," she added, smiling,
"you forget that you may not be here next winter. If Dr. Gray should be
elected to Congress, won't you all go to Washington?"

"Oh, he does not expect to be elected," replied Mrs. Gray. "But if we
_should_ go to Washington, we shall want you to go there with us. Now,
please remember."

"How delightful! Well, Mrs. Gray, I will say to you as you say to
little Ethel, '_We will see_.'"



                              CHAPTER IX.

                            PRIMROSE BOWER.


Flaxie did not hear this conversation, or she would have built various
castles in the air in regard to "going to Congress." It is true, people
often talked before her of the coming "election," and spoke of Dr. Gray
as a "candidate;" but the words were mysterious, and soon faded out of
her mind.

The snow and mud had disappeared. Dandelions were shining everywhere in
the tender grass, and Ethel said, gleefully,--

"Oh, see the _dandy-diddles_!"

The birds burst forth into song and the trees into leaves. Flaxie
pointed to the soft, fresh leaf-buds slowly unfolding, and said to her
mother, "Miss Pike calls them the beautiful thoughts the trees have
kept all winter shut up in their hearts. Miss Pike is so funny!"

Summer came, and by the last of June Grandpa and Grandma Curtis and
Grandma Hyde arrived from Kentucky. This made three grandmothers
in the house at one time. The Gray family were remarkably rich in
grandmothers; and there was still another, a fourth one, who might have
come if she had not been too feeble, and that was dear Grandma Pressy.

The two from Kentucky were entirely unlike, yet each in her way was
excellent and charming,--tall, queenly Grandma Hyde, wearing gray silk
and a turban, and always piecing together a silk patch-work quilt;
roly-poly Grandma Curtis, clad entirely in black, and always knitting
children's stockings with needles that clicked. But they were alike
in one respect; they both remembered everything they had ever seen or
heard of, and everything that had ever happened since the world began.
Yes, and they were both gifted with wondrous powers of story-telling.
Tiny Grandma Gray, with her sweet, low voice, had hardly a chance to
speak; for the Kentucky ladies were talking morning, noon, and night.

It was delightful to hear them, and Grandma Gray listened and laughed,
her white cap-strings fluttering, and said she was renewing her youth.
But by-and-by it began to tire her head, for she was very delicate
indeed, and she complained that she could not sleep. Still she _would_
stay in the parlor, she enjoyed the talking so much; and Mrs. Prim came
one day, and declared she should carry her off.

"You must stay with me a while and be quiet," said Mrs. Prim, who liked
to manage everything, "and Mary shall come with you to take care of
you."

Flaxie did not spring up and exclaim, "Oh, Auntie Prim, thank you,
thank you, I'd be so glad to go!" for the truth was she did not wish
to go in the least. At the same time, she felt it a high honor to be
invited to Mrs. Prim's to take care of Grandma Gray. She could remember
the time, not so very long ago, when she had been sent away from home
because Grandma Gray could not bear the noise she made.

"I'm growing a great deal stiller and a great deal better as I grow
up," thought the little girl, with a throb of pride, "but I didn't
suppose Auntie Prim knew it."

"We don't like to spare our dear little Mary," said both the Kentucky
grandmothers in a breath; and then Flaxie felt prouder than ever.

"Oh, she can come home every day to see you, and you will be surprised
at the number of pillow-cases she will make; she always sews very
steadily at my house," replied Mrs. Prim. "Run now, Mary, and get your
hat."

Mrs. Prim had the finest house and grounds in Laurel Grove, but it was
very still there, oh, altogether too still! The gardener never talked,
except to himself, the chambermaid was rather deaf, and Kitty, the
cook, did not like any one in her nice, orderly kitchen. Flaxie thought
it a very dull place, except at the hours when Mr. Prim came home to
his meals.

One day she sat in the parlor, sewing "over and over" upon a
pillow-case. Out of doors it was a lovely June day. The trees, and
grass, and birds, and flowers, were nodding at one another, and having
a gay time, and Flaxie longed to be with them. But no, at "Primrose
Bower," as Mr. Prim called his home, it was necessary to stay in the
house; for Auntie Prim thought a little girl nine years old ought to
"sew her seams," and _then_ she might play, perhaps, if she found any
time.

Strange there shouldn't be any dog at Primrose Bower, or even a cat;
but Grandma Gray was there, and that was a comfort. The more Flaxie
waited upon the silver-haired, sweet-voiced, fairy grandmother, the
better she loved her; only dear Grandma Gray was always going to sleep
on the sofa, and then you had to keep still enough to hear a pin drop
for fear of waking her up.

"Well," said Auntie Prim, coming into the parlor with her bonnet on, "I
gave you work enough to last a good while, didn't I, Mary?"

"Yes, 'm, ever so long," replied Flaxie, with a sorrowful glance at the
pillow-case.

"So you won't mind staying in the house with grandma, will you? I'm
going to the stores to buy a calico dress and various things; but when
I come back you may run home, and stay as long as you like."

"Yes, 'm," said Flaxie, meekly.

She thought Auntie Prim spent a good deal of time at the stores, and
was afraid if she bought "various things" it would be pretty late by
the time she came back; and Flaxie did want to ask Grandma Curtis a
few questions about Venus, the colored girl who lived at her house in
Kentucky, and she wanted a ride before dark on Preston's pony.

"Let me see," said Auntie Prim, thoughtfully, "perhaps it would be
better for you to promise me not to leave this room while I'm gone.
You mean well, Mary, but you're _so_ fond of running! Yes, on account
of Grandma Gray, I think I should feel easier if you were to make me a
promise."

"Yes, 'm, I will promise! I'll stay right here. I'll not go out of this
room," replied Flaxie, so sweetly that Mrs. Prim never suspected the
child's sensitive pride was wounded.

"She thinks I'm a horrid little girl. She thinks I'm just awful," said
Flaxie to herself, as she looked out of the window and watched her aunt
walking away with a gray-fringed parasol in one hand and a shopping-bag
in the other. "My mamma would have trusted me without any promise!
She'd _know_ I wouldn't run off and leave Grandma Gray!" Very soon
Grandma Gray came in and said she was going to _try_ to get a nap on
the sofa, and hoped Flaxie would keep pretty still. "Yes, 'm," sighed
Flaxie; and after this she breathed as softly as possible for fear of
making a noise.

Grandma was asleep in two minutes, with her handkerchief over her eyes,
and that made the room seem more lonesome than ever. Outside a stray
cat came and sat on the window-sill, begging to come in; and as she
opened her mouth to mew, she looked, Flaxie thought, like a wee, wee
old lady, whose little teeth were more than half gone. Flaxie loved
cats; why not let her in?

_But no!_ The window had a fly-screen, and besides, Auntie Prim didn't
approve of cats. "It's _no, no, no_, all the time. I don't like
Primrose Bower," thought poor Flaxie, dropping her work and stealing on
tiptoe to the mantel, to smell the flowers in the bronze vase.

They were lovely roses and lilies, but they looked as if they longed to
be out of doors, where they could bend their tired heads. The chairs
seemed rather uncomfortable, too, standing up so stiff and straight
against the gilded walls. Even the gilded fireboard looked as if it was
set in the fireplace very hard, and had no hope of ever coming out.

"Oh, it's so still here, and so shut up! I wish there was something
alive in the room," thought the little sewing-girl, going back to her
task.

She did not know that close behind her there _was_ something
alive--dreadfully alive--a cross, disappointed, hungry bee! How had he
got there, into that shut-up room where even the little flies never
dared come?

But there he was, and he would not go away without doing mischief.
Perhaps he had had some family trouble, which had soured his temper;
or perhaps he mistook Flaxie for a new variety of blush rose, of great
size and sweetness. At any rate, he flew straight toward her, and
without the least ceremony stung her on the wrist. Poor Flaxie! Was
it not rather severe? Particularly as she dared not scream. "I must
scream, I will scream," she thought in agony; "I will, I will!"

_But no._ For grandma was fast asleep. She must not wake grandma,
though the sky should fall.

"I'll run out-doors. I'll run home to mamma. I _must_ go where I can
scream."

_But no!_ She couldn't even go into the entry. Hadn't she promised? And
you must know Flaxie belonged to the sort of little girls who hold a
promise to be as sacred as the oath of a queen.

So she stayed where she was, and bore the anguish in silence. She
could not possibly help hopping up and down, but she hopped softly;
she could not help groaning, but she groaned in whispers; she could
not keep the tears back, but she sobbed them noiselessly into her
handkerchief. I don't know what you think of this, little reader, but I
think it was truly grand and heroic.

Are you nine years old, and have you ever borne the sting of a bee, or
the drawing of a tooth, without uttering a sound? Ah, you have! Then I
would like to see you, and shake hands!

Grandma Gray woke presently, and saw Flaxie shaking with sobs, her head
buried in the cushion of Uncle Prim's chair. You may be sure she was
not long in learning what the matter was, and in calling Kitty from the
kitchen to bathe the poor puffed wrist with arnica.

"Ah, thin, and a bee always knows what is swate," said Irish Kate,
bathing the wrist softly.

"The blessed little darling!" murmured grandma, not referring, of
course, to the bee. "To think you shouldn't have made one bit of noise
to disturb your grandmother! I wouldn't have blamed you if you'd
screamed with all your might."

"But, grandma, I promised you I wouldn't make a noise."

"So you did, precious child. I forgot that."

"And I promised Auntie Prim I'd stay in this room. Oh, how I did want
to go out and scream!"

"Little Mary," said gentle Grandma Gray, taking Flaxie in her arms,
"I'm proud of you, my dear!"

"Ah, wasn't it worth all Flaxie had suffered to hear such words as
these? When had anybody been proud of her before?"

The pain was over, but the little wrist was still "a sight to behold"
when Auntie Prim came home with her calico dress and "various things"
in her bag; and grandma said, in a ringing voice,--

"Mrs. Prim, we have a little girl here who is quite a heroine. Yes, a
heroine, I say!"

"Do you mean our little Mary? Why, what has she done?" asked auntie,
coolly, as she put away her bonnet and parasol. But she wasn't quite so
cool after she had heard the story.

"Why, you good, high-minded little girl! A grown woman couldn't have
been braver," said she, and actually kissed Flaxie.

"It is a great pity I bound you by a promise; I needn't have done it.
Some little girls can be trusted without any promises," she added,
looking at grandma with an approving smile.

Flaxie blushed for joy. She had always had a vague feeling of being
looked down upon by Auntie Prim, as a wild little girl who was "_so_
fond of running"; and now to have this stern, good woman praise her so!

"But," said auntie, unrolling the dotted brown calico and laying it
across her lap, "how came that bee in _here_, with the doors shut and
the fly-screens all in?"

As she spoke, _two_ bees buzzed and circled slowly above her head. In
her surprise I must confess Mrs. Prim screamed. Flaxie was delighted.
Mrs. Prim, however, was a little ashamed, for the minister, Mr. Lee, at
that moment entered the door.

"Ah, what's this?" said he, laughing; "are you hiding away my bees?"

"_Your_ bees?" cried Mrs. Prim; and she looked up at Mr. Lee, who
stood, hat in hand, his bald head shining, as Flaxie had once fancied,
like the ivory ball on Julia's parasol.

"Yes, ma'am, _my_ bees! They swarmed this afternoon, and your gardener
told me he suspected some of them had come down here, and settled in
your chimney. He saw them flying over the roof of the house."

Mrs. Prim was a good woman, and had a high respect for her pastor.
It seemed very strange and very improper that she should set a trap
for his bees; but she laughed, and they all laughed, and she said
Stillwater, the gardener, should go out on the roof through the
sky-window, and look down the parlor chimney, and see what was going on
inside.

Stillwater did so, and reported that a fine family of bees had begun
housekeeping in the chimney.

"Yes," said Mr. Prim, who came in just then, "and they are making
themselves too much at home altogether! Why, they think they have a
right not only to the chimney, but to the whole parlor, and mean to
creep out around the edges of the fireboard, and peep at us whenever
they choose.

"But they needn't have stung my good little Mary, and they must not
sting her again," said Mr. Lee, patting her head. He had been very
much pleased of late by Flaxie's attentive behavior at church; and
he thought now, as he looked at her fine young face, that she was
improving faster in character than any other little girl he knew in
Laurel Grove.

And to prevent further mischief from the bees, the fireboard was
fastened in very firmly. Uncle Prim did this with little wads of gilt
paper; and even Auntie Prim, who was so particular, declared no one
could have made it look better.

"I'm glad you like my beehive, ladies," said Uncle Prim, with a low
bow. "And now I hope the bees will do their duty, and fill it with the
very nicest honey, from the very sweetest flowers that grow in Primrose
garden; and Mr. Lee is heartily welcome to every drop!"

"Thank you, sir," returned Mr. Lee, "but if the honey is going to
belong to me, I shall take pleasure in presenting it to little Mary.
She has well earned it by being such a martyr this afternoon."

Flaxie had no clear idea what a martyr meant, but was sure from Mr.
Lee's tone it must be something he approved. Therefore, she ran home in
the finest spirits, to relate the stirring events of the afternoon to
her family, and the two admiring grandmothers.

"And mamma," asked she, as soon as she saw her mother alone, "may I
give the honey to Sadie Stockwell next Christmas? Let me go my own
self, please, with Blackdrop and the little sleigh, and carry it."

"Perhaps so, my dear. But it is quite uncertain where you will be next
Christmas," replied Mrs. Gray, who had strong reason to think she might
be in Washington.

Flaxie, however, had forgotten all about Washington. "Oh, perhaps I'm
going to Hilltop," thought she. "But that wouldn't be quite so splendid
as to have Milly come to my house. If she can come to my house next
winter, and go to school to Miss Pike in the pink chamber, I'll be
perfectly happy."

The little girl's dreams that night were of going to some wonderful
country she had never seen before. It must have been somewhere in
fairyland, for

  "Everything was strange and new,
   And honey-bees had lost their stings,
   And horses were born with eagles' wings."



                              CHAPTER X.

                           THE LAST FEATHER.


Things happen to us sometimes that are even better than we have
dreamed. To be with Miss Pike in the pink chamber again had seemed
happiness to Flaxie; but to be with Miss Pike in Washington, going
everywhere and seeing everything, this was bliss indeed!

Dr. Gray was elected to Congress; Preston was sent to boarding-school;
Julia stayed with Grandma Gray at Mrs. Prim's; and Mrs. Gray went with
her husband and the three youngest children to board in Washington for
the winter.

Flaxie had never before seen so beautiful a city, though she had
travelled much more than ordinary girls of her age. For days she
never tired of looking down from the window of her fourth-story room,
upon the clean, white avenue, and watching the horses, carriages, and
people passing to and fro. High, high above the heads of the people
was a network of telegraph wires glistening in the sun, and Flaxie
thought if the wires would only go higher yet, and bind the stars and
the earth together, how grand it would be. She called this chamber
her "sky-room," and shared it with her "favorite friend," Miss Pike.
At the same hotel were Mrs. Garland and Kittyleen, and Kittyleen's
cousin Cora, a girl of Flaxie's own age. Truly, as little Ethel had
said, Kittyleen did "go everywhere"; but who would have thought of her
following the Grays to Washington? But then, this was Mrs. Garland's
native city, and she had come here to spend part of the winter, and
take lessons in painting.

Kittyleen was just as pretty, and dear, and sweet, as ever,--and just
as troublesome. Her room was next Miss Pike's, and of course Miss Pike
or Flaxie could not stir without her following them, for Kittyleen
adored Flaxie; and besides, her mamma was always busy painting.

She followed them to the Capitol, when they went to look at the statues
and pictures; she followed them to the stores, when they went shopping.
Little Ethel never cared to go anywhere without her mother, and Phil
had some larger boys for playmates; but Kittyleen felt that _she_
belonged to _Flaxie_. Mrs. Garland laughed, and said she ought to be
tied to Flaxie's side by a blue ribbon, like a little Skye terrier.

And here I think I must tell you how Kittyleen went to the White House
to the President's reception, where she was as much out of place as a
humming-bird in a flock of crows. But it was not the child's fault. Her
mother was very thoughtless, or she would not have asked Miss Pike to
take her; and Miss Pike had no idea what she was doing, or she would
not have consented.

But first I shall be obliged to speak of Flaxie's vanity. You may
have observed long ago that she was fond of looking in the glass; and
I regret to say the habit still continued. In most respects she was
constantly improving; but Doctor Papa said he really feared the nice
new clothes she wore at Washington had a bad effect upon her mind. The
strange ladies at the hotel sometimes said in her hearing as she passed
by, "Who is that pretty little girl? Isn't she lovely?"

This was unfortunate; for now she never went anywhere, and saw people
looking at her, but she fancied they were thinking, "Isn't she lovely?"
And on the Saturday afternoon when she was going to the President's
reception she wished to look as pretty as possible, so that the people
at the White House, and perhaps the President himself, might admire her.

"Mamma," said she, "may I wear my crushed-strawberry dress, and my
long-button gloves, and my bonnet with the red bird?"

"Oh, no, my dear, they are quite unsuitable. I am very sorry now that
I promised to take you at all, for I'm afraid there will be a great
crowd."

"But I never saw the President, mamma, and I like a great crowd. And
I'll be _so_ careful of my best bonnet!" pleaded Flaxie in a whining
tone, very irritating to her mother, who was dressing in haste. It
sounded like the troublesome teasing Flaxie of two or three years ago.

"My little daughter," said Mrs. Gray, pausing as she pinned her
collar, "you cannot believe that I know better than you do how you
should dress? Very well, I will allow you to wear your best bonnet on
this condition: If that scarlet bird gets broken, you are not to have
another bird this winter, no, nor even a feather!"

Flaxie hesitated. Much as she wished to look "lovely," she did not like
to do anything her mamma disapproved. Still, how _could_ she hurt her
bonnet, just wearing it to a party?

"Make haste, child, here are Miss Pike and Kittyleen," said Mrs. Gray.

And the little girl finally laid aside her every-day hat she had been
holding in her hand, put on her best bonnet with a blushing, downcast
face, and walked slowly behind her mother. Little Ethel threw kisses
after them, though quite disturbed in her small mind because "Kittyleen
went everywhere," while she and Phil had to stay with Mrs. Fry.

Mrs. Gray and Miss Pike did not consider what a foolish thing they were
doing, till they walked up the gravel path to the White House, and saw
the long line of carriages.

"This is no place for children; it is a great crowd," said Mrs. Gray,
nervously.

Mounting the front steps, they saw seated on one side of the large
entrance hall a band of musicians, all in uniform, playing bugles,
fifes, cornets, and drums. There were no children to be seen, and
none of the vast number of people who had entered, or were entering
the hall, seemed to take the slightest notice of Flaxie's beautiful
clothes. They all stood in a line, three or four abreast, and if they
could be said to be looking at anything it was at the beautiful windows
straight before them,--not glass windows, the panes were lovely gems of
various shapes and sizes, and nearly all the colors of the rainbow; and
of course you could not look through them into the White House.

"Keep fast hold of my hand, Mary," said Mrs. Gray. "The people are
crowding in behind us."

"Keep fast hold of my hand, Kittyleen," said Miss Pike, "or I shall
lose you."

"Where are we going?" asked little Kittyleen, who might have been going
up in a balloon for all she knew to the contrary.

"We are trying to go through a door, but you can't see the door, there
are so many people ahead of us."

"Well, when we come to the door and get through it, then we shall see
the President, sha'n't we?" said Flaxie. "But oh, dear, I don't care so
much about him as I did! It takes so long, and the people push so."

By this time, the little party of four were wedged in very tight.
They could not move one step, except as they were pushed. Flaxie's
crushed-strawberry dress was crushed quite out of sight, and nothing
was to be seen of her but two bewildered blue eyes, a tuft of flaxen
hair, and--sad to relate--a broken-winged bird of Paradise!

And where was little Kittyleen? By looking down, down, among the
ladies' cloaks and skirts, Miss Pike could just espy the top of the
little girl's bonnet, and the end of her nose.

"It isn't very comfortable, _is_ it, Kittyleen?" said Miss Pike,
pitying, but not knowing how to help her. "No'm, it isn't _very_
com-fi-a-ble," replied the darling, catching her breath.

The crowd had been moving very, very slowly, but now it stopped
altogether.

"The people at the front, who got in first, are halting to shake hands
with the President," said a man in the crowd; "and we must wait for
them to move on."

They waited perhaps fifteen minutes; and all the while the people
behind could not stand still, but kept pushing.

"Don't they know we _can't_ move? Why do they push?" grumbled Flaxie,
indignantly. "Do tell them to keep still, mamma; tell the people behind
to keep still."

Mrs. Gray only laughed.

"Mamma, they don't obey the Golden Rule, or they wouldn't push so and
hurt." Flaxie was always talking about the Golden Rule.

"My daughter, we are here and must bear it. Try to be brave and not
cry."

"Oh, mamma, I don't mean to cry; but they squeeze so hard that they
squeeze the tears right out of my eyes. I just know I shall die!"

Flaxie's wail was piteous, indeed; but it was little Kittyleen--ever so
much shorter and younger and frailer; dear, patient Kittyleen--who was
in far more danger of being hurt. She must have been almost suffocated
by this time, for absolutely nothing, not even the crown of her bonnet,
was to be seen. In real alarm Miss Pike exclaimed, "How shall I get
this child up to give her some air?"

"What, a little child here? Can't you lift her up, ma'am, and set her
on my shoulder?" said a gentleman just ahead.

Mrs. Gray and Miss Pike plunged down for Kittyleen, and succeeded in
drawing her up from her dangerous hiding-place among the cloaks and
skirts, and setting her aloft upon the kind stranger's shoulders. She
gave several little shuddering gasps, and her eyes were full of tears;
but when Miss Pike asked, "Darling, how do you feel now?" she answered,
with a pathetic little smile,--

"I feel more com-fi-a-ble."

But Flaxie was still crying. It was not only for the discomfort. She
saw now what a silly girl she had been to wear her best clothes; and
the broken wing of the bird of Paradise dangling before her eyes added
the last feather to her weight of misery.

The crowd began to move again by half-inch steps. The open door was
reached at last. Now they were fairly inside the White House; yet
still there was one room to cross, in order to reach the President.
But Flaxie's feelings were greatly changed. She no longer expected the
President to admire, or even look at her. Why should he, so forlorn and
dilapidated as she was, and so very, very small?

But she had little time for these humble reflections. As they entered
the door of the White House a current of warm air met them, and Mrs.
Gray grew instantly faint. A strange lady in the crowd caught a fan
from another strange lady, and gave it to Miss Pike. Miss Pike fanned
Mrs. Gray a moment, and then she and some one else dragged her out from
the narrow line of people who were pushing toward the next room, and
extended her upon the floor before an open window.

Mrs. Gray was perfectly colorless, and her eyes were closed. "She has
lost her consciousness," said some one, just as Flaxie broke through
the crowd and rushed toward her.

"Oh, mamma, mamma, _are_ you dead? Speak to me, speak to me, mamma,"
wailed the child.

And Mrs. Gray opened her eyes, and smiled. She was obliged to smile in
order to reassure her little daughter, but she was of course too weak
yet to go back to the dreadful crowd. She needed and must have rest and
quiet and fresh air.

"Children, do you care much about seeing the President?" asked Miss
Pike. "He looks very much like other men; he doesn't wear a crown."

"Oh, _doesn't_ wear a crown?" echoed little Kittyleen. Perhaps she had
fancied he did, or, at any rate, that he was in some way a very grand
and radiant being.

"Well, _I_ don't want to see him,--not with my things all torn off and
looking like this," said Flaxie, in deep discouragement.

She was nearly as anxious to leave the White House as she had been to
enter it. But when and how could they ever get out?

"Ladies," said a gentleman who had left the crowd in disgust, and stood
by the wall with his arms folded,--"ladies, if you are ill and want to
go home, I can put you out of the window. Will you allow me?"

It sounded very funny, and Miss Pike laughed; but he was quite in
earnest. "Would you like to have me put you out, madam? Here, mount
this stool."

"Indeed, I would like it; but can you do it, sir?" asked Miss Pike.
"I'm pretty heavy."

The polite gentleman answered by lifting her up by the shoulders, so
that she found no trouble in climbing out of the low window, and
alighting upon the piazza.

"Oh, thank you, sir," said she. "Now I will stand here, and help down
the other lady and the children."

This was easily managed; and soon all the little party were safely
drawing long breaths, and laughing in the pure air outside; and Miss
Pike said, "Here we are at the back of the house, and if the servants
should spy us they would take us for a set of tramps. But, Mrs. Gray, I
don't care for that, I'm so very thankful to have got you and Kittyleen
out alive."

They hastened down the steps of the back piazza, and got around to the
front door, and into the gravel path, and thence to the street, as fast
as possible.

When Doctor Papa came home to early dinner, his wife related the
adventure.

"We made a great mistake in taking the children," said she, "but dear
little Kittyleen was wonderfully patient and reasonable."

Flaxie twisted uneasily in her chair, feeling that all praise of the
little one was a rebuke to herself.

"Yes, papa, Kittyleen was very good. I don't see how she _could_ be
so good. But you see I--why, I had a dreadful time. I was so afraid
about mamma. Why, I wasn't sure when I saw her there on the floor that
she was really alive! She lay there as much as ten minutes, I think,
without any _conscience_ at all!"

"Oh, not half a minute," laughed Mrs. Gray. And then she laughed again
as she held up a fan, a pretty painted one with ivory sticks. "I'm
afraid the owner of this fan will think I _never_ had any conscience!
It was given to Miss Pike to fan me when I fainted, and we couldn't
tell who gave it, and so we had to bring it home."

"You might have left it with one of the porters at the front door,"
said Doctor Papa.

"Oh, we never thought of that! What a pity!"

As they were going down to dinner, Flaxie saw her now ruined bird of
Paradise lying in the basket of rubbish, ready for Lena the chambermaid
to carry away. Her mother had put it there without saying a word.
Flaxie knew she had lost her pretty bird and could not have another
one, "no, not even a feather"; and though it seemed a hard punishment,
she felt that it was just.

A few days after this all the Grays and Miss Pike, with Kittyleen and
her cousin, Cora Garland, went to Mount Vernon to see the tomb and
the old home of General Washington. It was delightful; and the next
spring, when Congress had risen and all these gay times were only a
memory, Flaxie never tired of telling Grandma Gray how she had played
on the tiny piano that once belonged to Lady Washington, and how "just
exactly" it had sounded like her own doll's piano in the back parlor at
home.

Grandma Gray listened kindly to these reminiscences, and so indeed did
all Flaxie's playmates at Laurel Grove, though I wonder they did not
sometimes smile at the constant refrain, "Last winter, when I was at
Washington." One little story, the adventures of the runaway rings, you
will find in the next chapter, in Flaxie's own words, as she related it
to Grandma Gray.



                              CHAPTER XI.

                  THE RUNAWAY RINGS.--FLAXIE'S STORY.


"Oh, dear, the old man is out! Why, grandma, don't you know what
I mean? I mean the rain-man! He always comes out of that little
weather-house on the mantel, and looks around, you know, before it
begins to rain.

"And there, just see, it's pouring this minute, and there are lots of
people going by with umbrellas. It makes me think of that time last
winter, when it rained so hard, and I lost those rings. Do you want to
hear about it? Well, you just lie still and I'll tell you, and we'll
have a beautiful time. Isn't it a perfect state of bliss to think I've
got home, and can take care of you?

"But I did like to be at Washington. It didn't seem like winter, with
the rain a-raining, and the sun a-shining, and no snow hardly ever, and
the streets as clean as a floor.

"Besides, you know how I love Miss Pike; she's my favorite friend. And
a hotel is splendid, there are so many children in it. Only they're
not all alike. Some are ever so nice, and some _would_ be nice if they
didn't have temper.

"Now, there was Cora Garland, Kittyleen's cousin. She had a temper
like this: see me walk across the floor, grandma, with my head thrown
back,--so. _That_ was the kind of temper _she_ had. But she didn't have
it very often, and she was good to Ethel and Kittyleen and Phil. I
liked Cora; I mean, almost always I did. And I never saw a girl with
so many rings and earrings and gold bracelets and things. Did you ever
see an honest, true diamond, grammy, hard enough to scratch on the
window-pane, and bright enough to put your eyes out--almost? Well, one
of Cora's rings was a diamond. I suppose it came out of a mine. And one
of her rings was red; I forget the name of it; fiery, rosy red, and
all of a twinkle, with a row of pearls around it, like little white
currants.

"Well, I used to borrow Cora's rings and bracelets sometimes, and she
used to borrow these old silver bangles. I don't see what she wanted of
_them_. You see they are just bands of silver, with five-cent pieces
dangling down! But mamma didn't approve of my wearing Cora's things.

"'Little Mary, I don't approve of borrowed finery,' said she.

"So she wanted me to take them back. And I always did take them back;
but sometimes I forgot, and borrowed them over again. I don't remember
now how I happened to forget.

"Oh, I _thought_ I wasn't telling the story right. We lived up, up, up,
away up on the fourth floor! Did _you_ ever go up in an elevator? You
wouldn't like it, but I did. Our room was large and ever so pretty,
with two windows in it, where you could look right out on the avenue.
And there was a fireman, who used to come in and fix the fire in the
grate.

"I slept with Miss Pike, and sometimes I wouldn't wake in the morning
till ever so late, and she would go down to breakfast without me. But
she didn't care; she said she didn't expect me to get up when I was
asleep, for how could I, you know? And by and by she always came back
and curled my hair, and let me go down to breakfast with Ethel and
Kittyleen and Phil and Cora.

"But before I'd go down, and before Miss Pike would come back, and
while I'd be asleep, the fireman would come in with his bucket and fix
the fire. I ought to tell about this, so you'll understand better when
I get to the rings. You never knew whether there was coal-dust on the
fireman's face or not, for he was always as black as could be, and
couldn't be any blacker. His name was Lijar, just as if he came out of
the Bible and had been fed by ravens; but somehow I didn't think he was
very pious. No, I seemed to think he was rather _un_-pious, because he
rolled his eyes around so much, and kept laughing to himself.

"And there I'd be fast asleep on the bed; but sometimes I'd just peep
out under my eyelashes, and he'd be taking down some of the pretty
things from the mantel and looking at them and laughing to himself.
I thought it was very impolite. He oughtn't to have touched a single
thing, now ought he, with his hands so black and dirty? But I never
once thought of his stealing,--_not then_.

"Well, one night, after I'd borrowed those rings back again,--the
diamond ring and the red one with white currants round it,--I put both
the rings in a blue box, or I thought I did, and set the box on the
bureau right under the looking-glass. And Lena stood at the door and
saw me.

"Why, I forgot to tell you about Lena! She was the chambermaid, that
went around all day with a pink handkerchief tied on her head, and a
broom, and a pail. She was French. She always walked into my room
before I was up, same as Lijar did. And she laughed, and shook the
feather-duster at me sometimes. I suppose she wished I wasn't there on
the bed, for she wanted to take off the sheets. She didn't know how
to talk the American language very well, and I didn't blame her; for
of course French people have to learn to talk, just like babies. But
she was a pretty girl, and I supposed she was a great deal better than
Lijar. She told me one day she could say her prayers in French, and so
I never once thought of her stealing,--_not then_.

"That night--the night I lost the rings--she was there in the hall, and
I was coming along, waltzing a waltz. She set down her broom and pail,
and took those rings and put them on her little finger. I let her do
it. And she said, 'Oh, _wee, wee_,' and kept smiling.

"I remember it was in the evening, and I had just come up from playing
in the public parlor, and I had on my crushed-strawberry dress and an
orange in my hand, and Lena said I was as pretty as her little sister,
and I asked if her little sister wore curls. And she said, 'No, she
don't ever does.' That was the best Lena could talk.

"Then she gave me back the rings, and I was going right to bed, so I
put them in the box on the bureau,--or I thought I did,--and Lena stood
at the door and looked at me the whole time. I remember there was pink
cotton in the box, and the sweetest picture on the cover. It was Miss
Pike's box; she has got it now.

"Then I went to bed, and Miss Pike set up the screen between me and the
gas-light, and she read, and I went to sleep. How I did sleep! I'd been
playing blind-man's-buff, and was so tired; and I never woke up next
morning till after Lijar had been in to fix the fire, and Lena had been
in to bring the clean towels. The first thing I knew I opened my eyes,
and there were Miss Pike and Cora and Kittyleen all laughing at me.

"'Come, you little sleepy girl,' said Miss Pike; and she kissed me on
both cheeks. I never once thought about the rings, but got up and let
her curl my hair. She said it was Washington's birthday, and curled
a curl and laughed, but I knew Kittyleen and Cora were very hungry
waiting.

"After breakfast they came up with me, and so did Ethel and Phil. And
I remember how it rained, harder than it does now, ever so much. And
we stood by that beautiful window, and looked out to see the soldiers
parade.

"They didn't mind the rain, dripping on their pretty caps and uniforms
and white gloves. First they put out one foot, and then they put out
the other foot, and at the same time, to the music. Cora said it was
like wooden dolls, with joints in their knees.

"She didn't see that I hadn't any rings on my fingers, and I didn't
see it myself. We were watching the soldiers on the street, and the
people on the pavement following on after the soldiers. The people all
had umbrellas. You couldn't see their heads; all you could see was
umbrellas.

"The children wanted to dress up their dolls like soldiers. They were
girl dolls, with Kate Greenaway dresses, but Miss Pike said they could
be woman's-rights soldiers, why not? And she is so kind! She made some
shiny black soldier-caps, and we tucked up the dolls' curls; and so
cunning and brave as they looked!

"Afterwards I remember Miss Pike went to the next room to read to Mrs.
Garland, and I waited for her; and the children went down to lunch
with mamma. But oh, when they were all gone, then I thought of those
rings, and went to the box on the bureau. But just think, grandma, they
weren't there! There was the pink cotton in the box, but not a ring to
be seen!

"A perfectly awful feeling went over me. I know I must have turned
pale, for I had to pour my handkerchief wringing wet with cologne. Why,
just you think! Did you ever have anything so terrible happen to _you_?
Why, those rings cost more money than I had in this world! And Cora's
grandfather gave her the red ring, that died!

"I hunted and hunted, under the bed and under the rugs, and pulled the
things out of the drawers. And I knew papa would have to pay for them,
and he'd think I was very expensive! He would have to cure ever so many
sick people for it, and ride in the night for days and days to pay for
those rings! 'Specially the beautiful red one with white currants round
it. And she thinking so much of her grandpa that died! I knew she'd
never forgive me, but always go around with her head thrown back; and
how I should feel!

"I wished then I'd obeyed mamma, and not borrowed what didn't belong to
me. It was just awful to have mamma and Miss Pike know it. I wished I
needn't be obliged to tell."



                             CHAPTER XII.

                 THE HUNT.--FLAXIE'S STORY, CONTINUED.


"When Miss Pike came in from reading to Kittyleen's mother I was crying
in the bed.

"First I wanted to say I was crying about my silver mug that Kittyleen
dented all up, hitting it against the grate; and so I was--a little. I
could always cry about that! But my truly tears were for the rings, and
I wouldn't let myself be so mean as not to tell the truth. Besides, I
wanted Miss Pike to help me find them, you know.

"Then I told her; I _made_ myself tell. And she said, 'Ah, little Mary,
you've been borrowing again!'

"I knew she was displeased, because she was so cool in her manner, and
said 'little Mary.'

"'Oh, please don't blame me,' said I. And I told her I was sure Lena
had stolen the rings, for she knew where they were, and saw me put
them in the box. 'Oh, little Mary, is that all the reason you have for
saying so?' said she. She thought it wasn't any reason at all, unless I
knew it was true.

"'But I do know it, Miss Pike,' said I. 'Lena always wanted those rings
for her little sister; and when she came in this morning, and found me
asleep, she could take them as well as not. I always thought she had a
horrid face; she looks as if she'd steal!'

"I spoke so sure and certain that I expected Miss Pike would believe
me and ring the bell for Lena; and I was going to hide under the bed
when Lena came in. But instead of that, she only stood there looking
displeased, and said 'Oh, little Mary' again.

"Then she talked about the Golden Rule, and of course I didn't want to
hear about _that_, not just then. 'Was it kind to s'pect people,' she
said, 'was it right?'

"And I knew in my heart it wasn't, but I thought Lena took those rings
just the same.

"Then Miss Pike began to hunt everywhere; in all my pockets, and in my
doll's pockets, and in the waste-basket, and in the books, and under
the table. The more she hunted the worse I felt. Every time she didn't
find the rings I kept thinking she'd say, 'Little Mary,' again, and
talk about 'hoping this will be a lesson to you, little Mary.' But
she didn't. She was just as sweet! She went with me to early dinner,
and let me have lady-fingers and ice-cream, and three nuts and six
raisins, just as she always did.

"And after dinner she hunted again. She took all the clothes out of the
closet, and shook them and put them back again; and oh, I don't know
what she didn't do, and it was no use.

"'Oh, _shall_ I have to tell Cora?' said I. And she said yes. I'd have
to tell her and mamma; but I needn't do it quite yet; not till we'd
hunted a little longer.

"Then she kissed me as if she loved me after all, on both cheeks; and I
sat down and read 'Wonders of the Deep,' and cried.

"I remember how homely Lena looked to me when I met her in the hall,
and how I despised her. I couldn't eat much supper, and I didn't drink
a drop of water, because I'd been reading 'Wonders of the Deep.' Now,
water is all full of little live things. I never used to know it, you
see. I used to swallow 'em, and not think.

"But no matter for the insects now. I was talking about despising Lena;
but you don't know yet whether she was bad or not, grandma. I'm telling
it by degrees, to make it sound like a story.

"Now we will go back to Lijar. Something queer happened next morning.
He didn't come to fix the fire till it all went out, and then a new man
came. Lijar didn't come at all. Miss Pike asked where he was, and the
new man said, 'In the lock up.' He said he had been put in the lock-up
for stealing. Miss Pike thought it was very strange and couldn't
believe it, because she always liked Lijar. 'What did he steal?' she
asked. And the new man said, 'A gold watch and chain.'

"'Then he stole those rings,' said I, as quick as a flash. Miss Pike
couldn't hush me. I spoke right out before the fireman, and told how
Lijar took things off the mantel, and looked at them with his dirty
fingers when I was asleep.

"I said I was so sorry _now_ to think I'd s'pected Lena, for I _knew_
Lena was a good girl, and 'twas Lijar that stole all the time.

"'Do please write a note to the President,' said I, 'and ask him to
make Lijar give back those beautiful rings.'

"But Miss Pike never stirred. She said, 'Little Mary, you don't know
any more about Lijar to-day than you knew about Lena yesterday. You're
hasty again.' 'I don't think I'm hasty, at all,' said I. 'Lijar is a
horrid thief, or what did they put him in the lock-up for? If he'd
steal a big watch, wouldn't he steal little rings? If he'd steal
one thing wouldn't he steal everything?' said I. 'And _I_ think the
President ought to know it.'

"But Miss Pike didn't pay the least attention, only laughed. You know
she has such good judgment, and Doctor Papa says so himself. I was glad
afterward that she didn't write to the President, for mother said it
wasn't the President's business to go to the lock-up, and I suppose a
letter would only have bothered him. Besides, if he _had_ gone,--well,
just you be patient, grandma!

"Miss Pike curled my hair, and I went down to breakfast with the
children; I wasn't to say anything to Cora,--not yet. Miss Pike was
going to hunt again.

"I thought she was a very queer woman to keep hunting when she _knew_
it was no use. I came back after breakfast feeling very bad, for
it seemed as if Cora had been looking at my hands all the while I
was eating. I opened the door of our room, and what do you think?
There stood Miss Pike, smiling, and she had both those rings on a
knitting-needle, holding them up for me to see.

"'Look at your runaway rings,' said she. I screamed right out, I was so
happy.

"It wasn't Lijar, and it wasn't Lena.

"Miss Pike had found them in that room, and you can't guess where.

"She had hunted in that bureau five hundred and sixty times, and taken
the things all out. But this time she took out one of the drawers,
and sat down on the floor to look it over. It was the next to the
upper drawer that she took out, and she happened to look up at the
empty place in the bureau where the drawer belonged, and there she
saw something shining through a crack. It was those rings, both of
them. They had got pushed into the crack and stuck there,--stuck on a
splinter.

"Miss Pike said of course I had put them in the upper drawer, instead
of the box. It was because I was so sleepy. I don't see how she ever
found them, though, and she don't see; for they were sticking to that
splinter very tight, and might have stuck there for years and years,
if she hadn't happened to sit on the floor and look up, and catch them
shining.

"Oh, grandma, I tell you there wasn't a feeling in me that wasn't
happy! I went right into Mrs. Garland's room, and laughed right out
before I could speak.

"'Here they are, Cora, your runaway rings,' said I. She didn't know
what I meant till I told her how terribly they'd been lost. And I said
I'd never borrow them any more. I didn't want to be an expensive girl,
and my papa such a poor doctor. And Mrs. Garland laughed and said,
'That is right,' only she thought my father wasn't such a _very_ poor
doctor.

"I wished Mrs. Garland had said Kittyleen should stop borrowing, too.
For Kittyleen--oh, well, I try to be patient with little Kittyleen!

"I met Lena coming out of our room, smiling the pleasantest smile.

"'I did been to your room, Miss Mary,' said she. She didn't tell about
bringing a bunch of violets, but that was what she brought. She called
them 'vi'lets,' when she gave them to Miss Pike to put in water for me.
Why, it made me feel so cruel and unkind and ashamed to smell those
'vi'lets.' She bought them herself, Lena did. Oh, she never knew what
I'd said about her stealing those rings for her little sister!

"There, that's pretty near the end. Oh, no, I forgot about Lijar. He
hadn't stolen a watch, or touched one. He hadn't stolen anything. And
he hadn't been put in the lock-up, either. Perhaps somebody had been
put in the lock-up, but it wasn't Lijar. Lijar had broken his leg, and
that was all that ailed _him_.

"Miss Pike went to his house to see him, and I went with her. It was
a queer old house full of children,--oh, ever so many children. Lijar
was in awful pain, so Miss Pike said, but he didn't groan any, and of
course he couldn't possibly look pale, so you wouldn't have known how
much he was in pain.

"He thanked us for the oranges, and his wife said he was always good
and kind, and then she put her apron to her eyes and cried, and told
Miss Pike she'd rather be hurt herself than to have her 'old man' hurt.
Then I felt cruel and unkind again, to think how I'd called him horrid,
when he wasn't horrid at all, and it was another man that stole.

"There, grandma, I wouldn't tell this story to anybody but you. But
it's the very last time I'll talk so about people, unless I know it's
certainly true. If Miss Pike _didn't_ say, 'I hope this will be a
lesson to you, little Mary,' it will be a lesson all the same, I just
about know.

"And now, grandma, if you can spare me, I must go out and talk with
mamma and Miss Pike about Ethel's party. Yes'm, it will be Ethel's
birthday to-morrow, the 20th of March, and ever since we got home she
has been wanting a party. Mamma wasn't going to let her have one. She
said it would be too much trouble, for her friends are such little bits
of things that their mammas would have to come, too, to keep them in
order; and then _I_ said, 'Oh, mamma, if you are willing, you could
let me ask _my_ little girls to a party, the little girls of _my_ age!
Ethel likes them just as well as _her_ little girls, and she'd be ever
so pleased; and she does want a party so much!'

"Mamma thought it was a queer idea, but I'm pretty sure she'll consent.
It isn't for _my_ sake, you know, it's for Ethel, and we can call it
Ethel's kettledrum."



                             CHAPTER XIII.

                          ETHEL'S KETTLEDRUM.


Not long after this, "homely Miss Pike" sat by the window in the back
parlor, drawing her thread in and out, in and out, of a piece of pretty
pink silk. Little Kittyleen, who had returned from Washington, and as
usual spent most of her time at Dr. Gray's, had been lying on the rug,
gazing up wonderingly at Miss Pike's large, wide mouth.

At last she broke forth suddenly, as if thinking aloud,--

"Most everybody has whiskers, _don't_ they, Miss Pike?"

"Why, have _I_ any whiskers, Kittyleen?"

"No'm; but you've got some growing."

Miss Pike laughed softly to herself. She had always known she was very
plain, and of course she was aware of the rather thick, dark beard on
her upper lip. Kittyleen's little speech amused her, and yet the tears
sprang to her eyes.

"If I had had my way about it," thought she, "I should have had a form
like this perfect wax doll I am dressing, and very much such a pink and
white face, with wavy, soft hair, the color of old gold; sweet, red
lips, straight nose, not a spot or a freckle anywhere. Then the whole
world would have admired me, and I fancy it might be pleasant to be
admired.

"Ah, but the One who made me knew what is best! If I can't be
beautiful, I can try to be good; and I'm not going to cry about my
homely body, for I'm sure to leave it behind me one of these days when
I'm called up to Heaven."

Then with a happy smile the excellent young lady took the tape-measure
out of her work-basket and measured the slender, round waist of "little
miss," as she called the doll.

"Oh, Miss Pike, where did you get that? She's larger than my Princess
Aurora Arozarena, and I do believe she's handsomer," cried Flaxie,
rushing in from the kitchen, where she had been stoning raisins. "Ethel
told me you were dressing an elegant doll, and I couldn't wait another
minute to see it."

"Well, I'm glad you think she's handsome," replied Miss Pike,
trimming the silk basque carefully. "I think myself she's almost a
perfect beauty. I fell in love with her last winter when we were in
Washington, and bought her instead of buying myself a new bonnet."

"Why, Miss Pike, how funny! I didn't know young ladies ever wanted
dolls. Though why not?" she thought next minute. Could anybody in the
whole world be so "grown up" as not to love that exquisite "little
miss," who sat up in Miss Pike's lap with the most knowing of smiles,
as if she were just going to speak?

"Oh, yes, young ladies love dolls," said Miss Pike, embracing the
waxen image tenderly, as she fitted on the pink basque. "But I think
I shall give up mine. In fact, I did not intend her for myself. I
thought I would buy her and give her to some poor little girl, who
never knew what it was to have a good time. And now I'm hurrying to get
her dressed in season for Ethel's party. Don't you think she'll look
well there? And of course there'll be some poor little girl among your
guests, or perhaps a sick little girl; and I'll give _her_ the doll."

"Oh, is that it?" said Flaxie, more surprised than ever. She had not
issued invitations yet for her party,--or Ethel's party,--and Miss
Pike's words set her to thinking.

Why, there were no poor little girls or any sick ones who ever went to
parties! The children she played with were all well and happy. They had
pleasant homes--not quite as pleasant as Flaxie's--and plenty to eat
and wear. But of course there were other children in town.

"Let me think. Oh, there's Sadie Stockwell. _She_ is a poor girl."

Sadie was not exactly sick, but she was lame. Something dreadful had
happened to her when she was a baby, and her head seemed to be driven
down between her shoulders, as if she had no neck. She made you think
of a flower growing on a leaf-stalk without any stem. Her face was
sweet, but sad and pale. She was shorter than most little girls of her
age, and walked slowly and painfully with a pair of crutches. Sadie was
a good little girl. Why wasn't she ever invited to parties? Flaxie did
not know why, only "somehow she never was." She lived ever so far away
from the other girls; perhaps that was one reason.

Brother Preston was in the shed with Rover, cracking walnuts for
to-morrow's candy. Sister Julia was in the kitchen, finishing the
raisins Flaxie had been stoning for cake; and Dora Whalen stood by
the ironing-table, ironing the finest and best damask table-cloth for
Ethel's party, though the table-cloth might have been as coarse as the
pony's red blanket and it would have been all the same to the baby.

Flaxie walked about from room to room in deep thought. Finally, she
paused at the open door of her mother's chamber, and looked in. On the
floor beside Mrs. Gray stood a basket piled with very small dolls,
which she was dressing with strips of bright ribbon, and bows of narrow
taste. One of these tiny dolls was to be placed under each guest's
plate, and carried home as a memento of Ethel's first party.

"Mamma," asked Flaxie, still in a brown study, "how many dollies did
you buy, and how many girls am I going to invite?"

"Well, Mary, here are twenty dollies. I thought you and Ethel would
each want one, and I meant you should ask eighteen little girls."

"Could I ask one more, mamma?"

"Eighteen is a large number, Mary; isn't it enough? Oh, do you want
little Kittyleen?"

"Kittyleen, mamma? Why, no, indeed! She'd spoil everything. I
don't want Kittyleen! I mean Ethel wouldn't want her; it's Ethel's
kettledrum, of course."

Flaxie was careful to say repeatedly, "It is Ethel's kettledrum," lest
she should forget it was not her own.

"Well, dear, who is the 'one more,' if not Kittyleen?"

Flaxie did not answer directly.

"Mamma," said she, "what do you suppose Miss Pike said? She said _of
course_ I'd have some poor girls and sick girls. Must I, mamma?"

Mrs. Gray felt a sudden pricking of conscience. Why hadn't she thought
of that herself?

"Poor girls, Mary? Sick girls? Why, _of course_, as Miss Pike says,
they are the very ones to enjoy your party, my daughter."

"Then, mamma, please buy another dolly, and I'll ask Sadie Stockwell.
She won't take up a great deal of room. She never goes anywhere except
to school, and never has any good times. I don't know what we could do
with her, though," added Flaxie, with a puzzled look, "and I'm afraid
the other girls won't like it, for she can't play."

"But the girls _must_ like it, my daughter. You have all done wrong not
to invite her to your parties long ago, for she is an excellent child,
and never rough or ill-mannered. As for entertaining her, you and Julia
can talk to her and show her your playthings and picture-books, can't
you? I'm sure, Mary, you'll all be happier if you have Sadie."

"So I think, too," cried Flaxie, and skipped away joyfully, her light
curls flying as she ran.

Sober little Sadie, who lived with eight brothers and sisters in an
old, worn-out house, dressed in old, worn-out clothes, and looked old
and worn-out herself,--how her solemn little face brightened at the
unexpected honor of an invitation to Flaxie's--no, _Ethel's_--party!
Mrs. Stockwell, too, was very much gratified, especially as Mrs. Gray
had sent Sadie one of Flaxie's dresses, a pretty blue cambric, which
could be altered over to fit her, as well as anything ever could fit
her poor, crooked little figure.

Happy Sadie! She rode next day with Preston Gray in the little basket
phaeton, after Blackdrop, the pony, and she felt like rubbing her eyes
to make sure she was awake. She smiled beamingly at the cunning little
steed and his silver-mounted harness, and at Rover, trotting now here
and now there. She smiled at her crutches, which lay across the floor
of the phaeton; she smiled at the very mud-puddles which winked back at
her sleepily from the side of the road. If there had been any grass,
she would have thought it was emeralds; if there had been ice, she
would have thought it was diamonds.

When Preston lifted her from the phaeton at his father's gate, and Mrs.
Gray and Flaxie both came out to meet her, followed by Kittyleen, who
was there, of course, she hobbled up the path with a sparkle of joy and
expectation in her sad brown eyes.

The people of Laurel Grove had always been kind to her, and given her
mother plenty of half-worn garments to "make over" for all the family;
but there are things that poor children prize even more than old
clothes, and nothing had ever seemed quite so desirable to poor, lame
Sadie as a little girls' tea-party.

This was chiefly because parties were unknown joys. She had dreamed of
them, but never seen them. How the little guests amused themselves, and
what they had to eat, it would be worth a great deal to know. Still,
until to-day she had as little expectation of ever going to a party, as
of mounting an owl's back and flying up to the moon.

Yet here she was. What a beautiful house! What lovely pictures and
books and playthings and flowers! How very happy the people must be who
lived here all the time!

It is true she was a little frightened at first, being a sensitive
child, and not really sure whether the party had begun or not. The
little girls kept arriving, one after another, and they were all
extremely kind; but nobody thought to tell her the precise moment when
the party would begin.

By and by, however, Miss Pike, who seemed in gay spirits, sprang up and
said,--

"Let's all play 'Button, Button,' and immediately bashful little Sadie
felt quite at home. Who would have thought of _such_ a game at an
elegant party? And Miss Pike hadn't gone half around with the button
before she let it fall, softly and slyly, into Sadie's own hand."

This was another surprise.

Then, when the company were playing blind-man's-buff, Miss Pike took
Sadie into a corner and began a long story, with Ethel in her lap and
Kittyleen by her side. Sadie listened in rapture. No matter for the
blind-man's-buff; _she_ didn't wish to play. No matter for the "Magical
Music," the "I Spy," the "Marching on to Old Quebec." Miss Pike's
stories were better than all the games in the world.

Besides, Flaxie and her friends never seemed to forget Sadie, but kept
coming up between the pauses to say something pleasant. They all agreed
among themselves that it was the nicest party they had ever attended,
and Kittyleen didn't spoil it; and they said this to Flaxie.

"Oh," said Flaxie, delighted, "then it's Miss Pike that makes it so
nice."

But she was mistaken. It was Sadie, though nobody suspected it. They
were all trying to give the lame girl pleasure, and we never make
others happy without feeling happy ourselves.

But the best was to come. Supper was served, and all the girls were
summoned to the dining-room to a feast such as _one_ of the party
had never seen before. Sandwiches, cakes, tarts, pyramids of candy,
glasses of whipped cream; but what _was_ that in the middle of the
table? A little "Lady Bountiful" in a small chair. She was as large
as a child two years old, but no baby of that age ever had such long,
fair ringlets, such starry eyes, such rosy cheeks, such a sweet-smiling
mouth, made up for endless kisses.

Her pink silk dress was trimmed with rich lace, and bore a sweeping
train. You could just see in front the points of her tiny pink boots;
and as for her gloves, they were long tan-colored kids,--the height of
fashion,--and buttoned from wrist to elbow.

Just before this marvel of beauty stood a small light-stand, bearing
a birthday cake on a silver tray; and the beauty was pointing sweetly
with both hands at the cake, which was a very large one, heavily
frosted, and marked in letters of cedar, "Ethel." But no one thought
of the cake for looking at "little miss." She was so wondrously
bewitching, so "alive looking" that they all exclaimed in chorus, "Oh,
what a beauty!" They wanted to rush upon her and embrace her; but being
far too well-bred for that, they took their seats in perfect order,
only murmuring over and over again to one another,--

"Oh, isn't she just too sweet for anything?" All but Flaxie Frizzle's
Kittyleen, who smothered Flaxie with kisses, and teased her with
questions. Was it Ethel's doll? Who gave it to her? Was _that_ her
kettledrum?

Presently Mrs. Gray cut the birthday cake; and while she was passing
it, that roguish Miss Pike stole up behind Ethel, and set a beautiful
wreath of flowers upon her head. Everybody laughed as the little one
suddenly dropped her cake to the floor, and cried "Oh!"

But it was not till the close of supper that a single word was said
about the doll.

Then Mrs. Gray remarked,--

"Suppose we pass her round and look at her? But here is a piece of
paper pinned to her dress. We will read it first, and see what it says."

She unpinned the paper and read aloud,--

"_I wish to be given to a sick little girl or a lame girl._"

It was half a minute before anybody could take the sense of this. What,
wasn't it Ethel's doll, after all? Then they understood it, and all
cried out, "Oh, Sadie! Sadie! Sadie!"

The poor bewildered child turned very pale. This was too much happiness
for her. She wasn't used to anything like this. She rose to her feet,
caught up her crutches,--though where she wanted to go she did not
know,--dropped them, and fell down crying.

But she was crying for joy. It wasn't possible, no, surely it _wasn't_
possible that this loveliest of all presents was intended for her.

And there was Miss Pike. She stood holding the doll's trunk in her
hand, full of the dainty underclothing and every-day dresses and
outside wraps that she had been making for weeks. But when she saw
Sadie crying I must confess she cried, too, though she was intending
to laugh. But you know laughter and tears lie very near together. And,
indeed, it was very touching to everybody when Sadie sobbed out, not
knowing any one heard her,--

"_My_ dolly! Oh, I never 'spected to have such a good time as _this_,
not till I went to Heaven!"

Thus ended Ethel's first party. And everybody said it was a great
success. "But where was the kettledrum? I kept looking and looking, and
I didn't see it," mourned Flaxie Frizzle's Kittyleen.


                               THE END.



                          Transcriber's Note:


Italics are indicated by _underscores_.

Small capitals have been rendered in full capitals.

A number of minor spelling errors have been corrected without note.





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