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Title: Dick and Dolly
Author: Wells, Carolyn
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: “She saw a little girl coming eagerly toward
her”       (Page 95)]


DICK AND DOLLY

by

CAROLYN WELLS

Author of
The Marjorie Books,
The Patty Books,
The Two Little Women Series,

Illustrated by Ada Budell



[Illustration]

Grosset & Dunlap
Publishers        New York

Made in the United States of America

Copyright, 1909, by
Dodd, Mead and Company

Published, October, 1909



                                CONTENTS


                  CHAPTER                                PAGE

              I   THE BROOK                                 1

             II   THE ARRIVAL                              15

            III   AN EARLY STROLL                          29

             IV   GARDENS                                  43

              V   A PLAYGROUND                             57

             VI   A SOCIAL CALL                            72

            VII   PINKIE                                   87

           VIII   A SECRET                                102

             IX   PHYLLIS                                 118

              X   AN AUCTION SALE                         132

             XI   FUN WITH LADY ELIZA                     147

            XII   OBEYING ORDERS                          161

           XIII   AUNT NINE                               177

            XIV   A CORONATION                            191

             XV   PUNISHMENT                              207

            XVI   THE PLAYHOUSE                           222

           XVII   THE FATE OF DANA COTTAGE                236

          XVIII   A LOVELY PLAN                           249

            XIX   THE BIG CHIEF                           264

             XX   A GAY PARTY                             279



                             ILLUSTRATIONS


“She Saw a Little Girl Coming                    _Frontispiece_
  Eagerly Toward Her”

“Oh, How Good the Cool Ripply    Facing  page       40
  Water did Feel!”

In the Garden                     ”        ”       124

Lady Dusenbury’s Party            ”        ”       200



                               CHAPTER I


                               THE BROOK


Dick and Dolly were twins and had been twins for nine years.

Most of these years had been spent with Grandma Banks and Aunt Helen,
for Dick and Dolly were orphaned when they were tiny tots, and Aunt
Helen Banks was their mother’s sister.

Then, about two years ago, Grandma Banks had died, and now Aunt Helen
was to be married and go far away across the sea to live.

So their Chicago home was broken up, and the twins were sent to the old
Dana homestead in Connecticut, to live with their father’s people.

This transfer of their dwelling-place didn’t bother Dick and Dolly much,
for they were philosophical little people and took things just as they
happened, and, moreover, they were so fond of each other, that so long
as they were together, it didn’t matter to them where they were.

But to the two people who lived in the old Dana place, and who were
about to receive the twin charges, it mattered a great deal.

Miss Rachel and Miss Abbie Dana were maiden ladies of precise and
methodical habits, and to have their quiet home invaded by two unknown
children was, to say the least, disturbing.

But then Dick and Dolly were the children of their own brother, and so,
of course they were welcome, still the aunts felt sure it would make a
great difference in the household.

And indeed it did.

From the moment of the twins’ arrival,—but I may as well tell you about
that moment.

You see, Aunt Helen was so busy with her wedding preparations that she
didn’t want to take the time to bring Dick and Dolly all the way from
Chicago to Heatherton, Connecticut, so she sent them East in charge of
some friends of hers who chanced to be coming. Mr. and Mrs. Halkett were
good-natured people, and agreed to see the twins safely to Dana Dene,
the home of the waiting aunts.

And the aunts were waiting somewhat anxiously.

They had never seen Dick and Dolly since they were tiny babies, and as
they had heard vague reports of mischievous tendencies, they feared for
the peace and quiet of their uneventful lives.

“But,” said Miss Abbie to Miss Rachel, “we can’t expect children to act
like grown people. If they’re only tidy and fairly good-mannered, I
shall be thankful.”

“Perhaps we can train them to be,” responded Miss Rachel, hopefully;
“nine is not very old, to begin with. I think they will be tractable at
that age.”

“Let us hope so,” said Miss Abbie.

The Dana ladies were not really old,—even the family Bible didn’t
credit them with quite half a century apiece,—but they were of a quiet,
sedate type, and were disturbed by the least invasion of their daily
routine.

Life at Dana Dene was of the clock-work variety, and mistresses and
servants fell into step and trooped through each day, without a
variation from the pre-arranged line of march.

But, to their honest souls, duty was pre-eminent, even over routine, and
now, as it was clearly their duty to take their brother’s children into
their household, there was no hesitation, but there was apprehension.

For who could say what two nine-year-olds would be like?

But in accordance with their sense of duty, the Misses Dana accepted the
situation and went to work to prepare rooms for the new-comers.

Two large sunny bedrooms, Dolly’s sweet and dainty, Dick’s more boyish,
were made ready, and another large room was planned to be used as a
study or rainy-day playroom for them both. Surely, the aunts were doing
the right thing,—if the children would only respond to the gentle
treatment, and not be perfect little savages, all might yet be well.

Now it happened that when Mr. and Mrs. Halkett reached New York with
their young charges, the trip from Chicago had made Mrs. Halkett so
weary and indisposed that she preferred to remain in New York while her
husband took the twins to Heatherton. It was not a long trip, perhaps
three hours or less on the train, so Mr. Halkett started off to fulfil
his trust and present Dick and Dolly at the door of their new home,
assuring his wife that he would return on the first train possible after
accomplishing his errand. Mrs. Halkett took pride in seeing that the
children were very spick and span, and prettily arrayed, and gave them
many injunctions to keep themselves so.

Sturdy Dick looked fine in his grey Norfolk jacket and knickerbockers,
with wide white collar and correct tie. Pretty little Dolly was in white
piqué, very stiff and clean, with a tan-coloured coat and flower-trimmed
hat.

The twins looked alike, and had the same big, dark eyes, but Dick’s hair
was a dark mass of close-cropped curls, while Dolly’s was a tangle of
fluffy golden ringlets. This striking effect of fair hair and dark eyes
made her an unusually attractive-looking child, and though they had
never thought of it themselves, the twins were a very beautiful pair of
children. Docilely obedient to Mrs. Halkett’s injunctions, they sat
quietly in the train, and did nothing that could by any possibility be
termed naughty.

Truth to tell, they were a little awed at the thought of the two aunts,
whom they did not yet know, but had every reason to believe were not at
all like Auntie Helen. They chatted together, as they looked out of the
window at the landscape and stations, and Mr. Halkett read his paper,
and then looked over his timetable to see how soon he could get back to
New York.

There was a train that left Heatherton for New York about half an hour
after their own arrival, so he hoped he could leave the twins at Dana
Dene and return to the metropolis on that train. But owing to a delay of
some sort they did not reach the Heatherton station until about twenty
minutes after schedule time.

After the train Mr. Halkett desired to take back to New York, there was
no other for two hours, and greatly annoyed was that gentleman. When
they stood at last on the station platform, a pleasant-faced Irishman
approached and informed Mr. Halkett that he was from Dana Dene, and had
been sent to meet Master Dick and Miss Dolly. As the man appeared so
capable and responsible, Mr. Halkett was tempted to put the children in
his care, and return himself at once to New York.

He explained about the trains, and told of his wife’s illness, and the
intelligent Michael said at once:

“Shure, sor, do yez go back to New York. I’ll be afther takin’ the
childher safe to the house. Don’t yez moind, sor, but go right along.
Lave all to me, sor.”

Impressed with the man’s decisive words, and sure of his
trustworthiness, Mr. Halkett assisted the children into the carriage,
and bidding them good-bye turned back to the station.

Dolly looked a little wistful as he turned away, for though no relative,
he had been a kind friend, and now she felt like a stranger in a strange
land.

But Dick was with her, so nothing else really mattered. She slipped her
hand in her brother’s, and then Michael picked up his reins and they
started off.

It was early May, and it chanced to be warm and pleasant. The carriage
was an open one, a sort of landau, and the twins gazed around with eager
interest.

“Great, isn’t it, Dolly?” exclaimed Dick, as they drove along a winding
road, with tall trees and budding shrubs on either side.

“Oh, yes!” returned Dolly. “It’s beautiful. I love the country a whole
heap better than Chicago. Oh, Dick, there’s woods,—real woods!”

“So it is, and a brook in it! I say, Michael, can’t we get out here a
minute?”

“I think not,” said the good-natured coachman. “The leddies is forninst,
lookin’ for yez, and by the same token, we’re afther bein’ late as it
is.”

“Yes, I know,” said Dick, “but we won’t stay a minute. Just let us run
in and see that brook. It’s such a dandy! I never saw a brook but once
or twice in all my life.”

“Yez didn’t! The saints presarve us! Wherever have yez lived?”

“In the city,—in Chicago. Do stop a minute, please, Michael.”

“Please, Michael,” added Dolly, and her sweet voice and coaxing glance
were too much for Michael’s soft heart.

Grumbling a little under his breath, he pulled up his horses, and let
the children get out.

“Just a minute, now,” he said, warningly. “I’ll bring yez back here some
other day. Can yez get under the brush there?”

“We’ll go over,” cried Dick, as he climbed and scrambled over a low
thicket of brush.

Dolly scrambled through, somehow, and the two children that emerged on
the other side of the brush were quite different in appearance from the
two sedate-looking ones that Mr. Halkett had left behind him.

Dick’s white collar had received a smudge, his stocking was badly torn,
and his cheek showed a long scratch.

Dolly’s white frock was a sight! Her pretty tan coat had lost a button
or two, and her hat was still in the bushes.

“Hey, Doddy, hey, for the brook!” shouted Dick, and grasping each
other’s hands, they ran for the rippling water.

“Oh!” cried Dolly, her eyes shining. “Did you _ever_!”

To the very edge of the brook they went, dabbling their fingers in the
clear stream, and merrily splashing water on each other.

All this would have been a harmless performance enough if they had been
in play clothes, but the effect on their travelling costumes was most
disastrous.

Leaning over the mossy bank to reach the water caused fearful green
stains on white piqué and on light-grey knickerbockers. Hands became
grimy, and faces hot and smudgy. But blissfully careless of all this,
the children frolicked and capered about, rejoiced to find the
delightful country spot and quite oblivious to the fact that they were
on their way to their new home.

“Let’s wade,” said Dick, and like a flash, off came four muddy shoes,
and four grass-greened stockings. Oh, how good the cool ripply water did
feel! and how they chuckled with glee as they felt the wavelets plashing
round their ankles.

Across the brook were the dearest wild flowers,—pink, yellow, and
white.

“We must gather some,” said Dolly. “Can we wade across?”

“Yep; I guess so. It doesn’t look deep. Come on.”

Taking hands again, they stepped cautiously, and succeeded in crossing
the shallow brook, though, incidentally, well dampening the piqué skirt,
and the grey knickerbockers.

Sitting down on the mossy bank, they picked handfuls of the flowers and
wondered what they were.

“Hollo! Hollo!” called Michael’s voice from the road, where he sat
holding his horses.

“All right, Michael! In a minute,” shrilled back the childish voices.

And they really meant to go in a minute, but the fascination of the
place held them, and they kept on picking flowers, and grubbing among
the roots and stones at the edge of the water.

“We really ought to go,” said Dolly. “Come on, Dick. Oh, look at the
birds!”

A large flock of birds flew low through the sky, and as they circled and
wheeled, the children watched them eagerly.

“They’re birds coming North for the summer,” said Dick. “See those
falling behind! They don’t like the way the flock is going, and they’re
going to turn back.”

“So they are! We must watch them. There, now they’ve decided to go on,
after all! Aren’t they queer?”

“Hollo! Hollo! Come back, yez bad childher! Come back, I say!”

“Yes, Michael, in a minute,” rang out Dolly’s sweet, bird-like voice.

“In a minute, nothin’! Come now, roight sthraight away! Do yez hear?”

“Yes, we’re coming,” answered Dick, and together they started to wade
back across the brook.

Then there were shoes and stockings to be put on, and with sopping wet
feet, and no towels, this is not an easy task.

They tugged at the unwilling stockings and nearly gave up in despair,
but succeeded at last in getting them on, though the seams were far from
the proper straight line at the back. Shoes were not so hard to put on,
but were impossible to button without a buttonhook, so had to remain
unbuttoned.

Meantime, Michael was fairly fuming with angry impatience. He could not
leave his horses, or he would have gone after the truants, and no
passers-by came along whom he could ask to hold his restive team.

So he continued to shout, and Dick and Dolly continued to assure him
that they were coming, but they didn’t come.

At last they appeared at the thicket hedge, and as the two laughing
faces peeped through, Michael could scarcely recognise his young
charges. Torn, soiled, dishevelled, unkempt, there was absolutely no
trace of the spick and span toilets Mrs. Halkett had looked after so
carefully, in spite of her aching head and tired nerves.

“Yez naughty little rascals!” cried Michael. “Whativer possessed yez to
tousel yersilves up loike that! Shame to yez! What’ll yer aunties say?”

For the first time, the twins realised their disreputable appearance.

What, indeed, would their new aunties say to them? Aunt Helen would have
laughed, in her pretty, merry way, and sent them trotting away to clean
up, but with new and untried aunties they couldn’t be sure. Moreover,
they had an idea that Aunt Rachel and Aunt Abbie were not at all like
pretty, young Auntie Helen.

Rescuing her hat from the thorn bush where it hung, Dolly looked
ruefully at its twisted flowers. The more she tried to pull them into
shape, the worse they looked.

She put it on her head, dismayed meanwhile to find her broad hair-ribbon
was gone, and her sunny curls a moist, tangled mop.

Dick was conscious of a growing feeling of wrong-doing, but there was
nothing to be done but face the music.

“Get in,” he said, briefly to his sister, and they clambered into the
carriage.

Michael said no more; it was not his place to reprimand the children of
the house, but he sat up very straight and stiff, as he drove rapidly
toward home. To be sure, his straightness and stiffness was to conceal a
fit of merriment caused by the thought of presenting these ragamuffins
at the portals of Dana Dene, but the ragamuffins themselves didn’t know
that, and regretful and chagrined, they sat hand in hand, awaiting their
fate.



                               CHAPTER II


                              THE ARRIVAL


In the dark and somewhat sombre library at Dana Dene, Miss Rachel and
Miss Abbie sat awaiting their guests. The room might have been called
gloomy, but for the sunshine that edged in through the long, narrow,
slit-like windows, and made determined golden bars across the dark-red
carpet. Both the Misses Dana showed clearly their anxiety to have the
children arrive and end their suspense.

“If only they’re tidy children,” said Miss Rachel for the fiftieth time;
and Miss Abbie responded, as she always did, “Yes, and quiet-mannered.”

Miss Rachel Dana was of rather spare build, and sharp features. Her
brown hair, only slightly tinged with grey, was deftly arranged, and
every curled lock in its right place. Her pretty house-dress of dark
blue foulard silk, with white figures, was modishly made and carefully
fitted.

Miss Abbie was a little more plump, and her gown was of a shade lighter
blue, though otherwise much like her sister’s.

The ladies had a patient air, as if they had waited long, but though
they now and then glanced at the clock, they expressed no surprise at
the delayed arrival. Trains were apt to be late at Heatherton, and they
knew Michael would return as soon as possible. They had not gone
themselves to the station to meet the twins, for it had seemed to them
more dignified and fitting to receive their young relatives in their own
home. Meantime, the young relatives were drawing nearer, and now, quite
forgetting their own untidy appearance, their thoughts had turned to the
waiting aunts, and the welcome they would probably receive.

“I don’t believe they’ll be as nice as Aunty Helen,” said Dick,
candidly, “but I hope they’ll be jolly and gay.”

“I hope they’ll like us,” said Dolly, a little wistfully. She had always
missed a mother’s love more than Dick had, and her affectionate little
heart hoped to find in these aunties a certain tenderness that merry
Aunt Helen had not possessed.

Dick eyed his sister critically. “I don’t believe they will,” he said,
honestly, “until we get some clean clothes on. I say, Dollums, we look
like scarecrows.”

“So we do!” said Dolly, fairly aghast as she realised the state of her
costume. “Oh, Dick, can’t we get dressed up before we see them?”

“’Course we can’t. Our trunks and bags haven’t come yet; and, anyway,
they’ll probably be on the porch or somewhere, to meet us. Buck up,
Dolly; don’t you mind. You’re just as nice that way.”

“Is my face dirty?”

“Not so much dirty,—as red and scratched. How _did_ you get so chopped
up?”

“It was those briers. You went over, but I went through.”

“I should say you did! Well, I don’t believe they’ll mind your looks.
And, anyway, they’ll have to get used to it; you ’most always look like
that.”

This was cold comfort, and Dolly’s feminine heart began to feel that
their appearance would be greatly in their disfavour.

But she was of a sanguine nature, and, too, she was apt to devise
expedients.

“I’ll tell you, Dick,” she said, as an idea came to her; “you know, ‘a
soft answer turneth away wrath’; no,—I guess I mean ‘charity covereth a
multitude of sins.’ Yes, that’s it. And charity is love, you know. So
when we see the aunties, let’s spring into their arms and kiss ’em and
love ’em ’most to death, and then they won’t notice our clothes.”

“All right, that goes. Let me see,—yes, your face is clean,”—Dick made
a dab or two at it with his handkerchief. “How’s mine?”

“Yes, it’s clean,” said Dolly, “at least, there aren’t any smudges; but
you’d better wash it before supper.”

“All right, I will. Here we go now, turning in at the gate. Be ready to
jump out and fly at them if they’re on the porch.”

They weren’t on the porch, so the twins went in at the great front door,
which was opened for them by a smiling maid, whose smile broadened as
she saw them. Then, repressing her smile, she ushered them to the
library door and into the presence of the two waiting aunts.

“Now!” whispered Dick, and with a mad rush, the two flew across the room
like whirlwinds and fairly _banged_ themselves into the arms of Miss
Rachel and Miss Abbie Dana.

This sudden onslaught was followed by a series of hugs and kisses which
were of astonishing strength and duration.

What Miss Rachel and Miss Abbie thought can never be known, for they had
no power of thought. Victims of a volcanic visitation do not think,—at
least, not coherently, and the Dana ladies were quite helpless, both
mentally and physically.

“Dear Auntie,” cooed Dolly, patting the cheek of the one she had
attacked, though not knowing her name; “are you glad to see us?”

Miss Rachel stared stupidly at her, but the stare was not reassuring,
and Dolly’s heart fell.

“Jolly glad to get here,” cried Dick, loyally trying to carry out
Dolly’s plan, as he nearly choked the breath out of the other aunt. Miss
Abbie had a little more sense of humour than her sister,—though neither
of them was over-burdened with it,—so she said to Dick:

“Then do stop pommeling me, and stand off where I can see what you look
like!”

But this was just what Dick was not anxious to do. So he only clung
closer, and said, “Dear Auntie, which is your name?”

“I’m your Aunt Abbie,” was the response, not too gently given, “and now
stand up, if you please, and stop these monkey-tricks!”

Of course, since she put it that way, Dick had to desist, and he
released his struggling aunt, and bravely stood up for inspection.

Miss Rachel, too, had pushed Dolly away from her, and the twins stood,
hand in hand, waiting for the verdict. It was an awful moment. The
physical exertion of the manner they had chosen of greeting their aunts
had made their flushed little faces still redder, and the scratches
stood out in bold relief.

Also, their soiled and torn garments looked worse in this elegantly
appointed room even than they had in the woods or in the carriage.

Altogether the twins felt that their plan of defence had failed, and
they were crestfallen, shy, homesick, and pretty miserable all ’round.

But the funny part was, that the plan hadn’t failed. Though the aunts
never admitted it, both their hearts were softened by the feeling of
those little arms round their necks, and those vigorous, if grimy kisses
that fell, irrespectively, on their cheeks, necks, or lace collars.

Had it not been for this tornado of affection, the greeting would have
been far different. But one cannot speak coldly to a guest who shows
such warmth of demonstration.

“Well, you _are_ a pretty-looking pair!” exclaimed Miss Rachel, veiling
her real disapproval behind a semblance of jocularity. “Do you always
travel in ragged, dirty clothes?”

“No, Aunt Rachel,” said Dick, feeling he must make a strike for justice;
“at least, we don’t start out this way. But you see, we had hardly ever
seen a brook before——”

“And it was so lovely!” put in Dolly, ecstatically.

“And wild flowers to it!” cried Dick, his eyes shining with the joy of
the remembrance.

“And pebbly stones!”

“And ripply water!”

“And birds, flying in big bunches!”

“Oh, but it was splendid!”

“And so you went to the brook,” said Aunt Rachel, beginning to see
daylight.

“Yes’m; on the way up from the station, you know.”

“Did Michael go with you?”

“No; he sat and held the horses, and hollered for us to come back.”

“Why didn’t you go when he called you?”

“Why, we did; at least, we went in a minute. But, Aunt Rachel, we never
had seen a real live brook before, not since we were little bits of
kiddy-wids,—and we just couldn’t bear to leave it.”

“We waded in it!” said Dolly, almost solemnly, as if she had referred to
the highest possible earthly bliss.

The Dana ladies were nonplussed. True, the affection showered on them
had tempered their severity, yet now justice began to reassert itself,
and surely it would not be just or fair to have these semi-barbaric
children installed at Dana Dene.

“Did your aunt in Chicago let you act like this?” asked Aunt Abbie, by
way of trying to grasp the situation.

“Well, you see, there never was a brook there,” said Dick, pleasantly.
“Only Lake Michigan, and that was too big to be any fun.”

“Oh, isn’t Heatherton lovely?” exclaimed Dolly, her big, dark eyes full
of rapture.

She had again possessed herself of Miss Rachel’s hand and was patting
it, and incidentally transfering some “good, brown earth” to it, from
her own little paw.

Though Dolly had planned their mode of entrance, she had forgotten all
about it now, and her affectionate demonstrations were prompted only by
her own loving little heart, and not by an effort to be tactful.

In her enthusiasm over the beautiful country-side, she fairly bubbled
over with love and affection for all about her.

“Are you both so fond of the country, then?” said Miss Abbie, a little
curiously.

“Yes, we love it,” declared Dick, “and we’ve ’most never seen it. Auntie
Helen always liked fashionable places in summer, and of course in winter
we were in Chicago.”

“And we were naughty,” said Dolly, with a sudden burst of contrition,
“to go wading in the brook in our good clothes. Mrs. Halkett told us
_’spressly_ not to get soiled or even rumpled before we saw you. And
we’re sorry we did,—but, oh! that brook! When can we go there again?
To-morrow?”

“Or this afternoon,” said Dick, sidling up to Aunt Rachel; “it isn’t
late, is it?”

The twins had instinctively discerned that Miss Rachel was the one of
whom to ask permission. Aunt Abbie seemed more lovable, perhaps, but
without a doubt Aunt Rachel was the fixer of their fate.

“This afternoon! I should say not!” exclaimed Miss Rachel. “It’s nearly
supper time now, and how you’re going to be made presentable is more
than I know! Have you any other clothes?”

“In our trunks,—lots of ’em,” said Dick, cheerfully. “But these are our
best ones. Mrs. Halkett put them on us purpose to come to you. I’m sorry
they’re smashed.”

Dick’s sorrow was expressed in such blithe and nonchalant tones, that
Miss Rachel only smiled grimly.

“Are you hungry?” she said.

“No’m,” said Dick, slowly, and Dolly added, “Not _very_. Of course we’re
always _some_ hungry. But Aunt Rachel, can’t we go out and scoot round
the yard? Just to see what it’s like, you know. Of course, this room
is,—beautiful, but we do love to be out doors. May we?”

“No,” said Miss Rachel, decidedly, and though Miss Abbie said, timidly,
“Why don’t you let them?” the elder sister resumed:

“Go out on my lawn looking like that? Indeed you can’t! I’d be ashamed
to have the chickens see you,—let alone the servants!”

“Oh, are there chickens?” cried Dolly, dancing about in excitement. “I’m
_so_ glad we’re going to live here!”

She made a movement as if to hug her Aunt Rachel once again, but as she
saw the involuntary drawing away of that lady’s shoulders, she
transferred her caress to Dick, and the tattered twins fell on each
other’s necks in mutual joy of anticipation.

“You are a ridiculous pair of children,” said Aunt Abbie, laughing at
the sight; “but as I hope you’ll show some of your father’s traits, you
may improve under our training.”

“If we can train such hopeless cases,” said Miss Rachel. “Has nobody
ever taught you how to behave?”

“Yes,” said Dick, growing red at the implication. “Auntie Helen is a
lovely lady, and she taught us to be honourable and polite.”

“Oh, she did! and do you call it honourable to go off wading in your
best clothes, while we were waiting for you to come here?”

Dick’s honest little face looked troubled.

“I don’t know,” he said, truly, but Dolly, who was often the
quicker-witted of the two, spoke up:

“It may have been naughty, Aunt Rachel, but I don’t ’zackly think it was
dishonourable. Do you?” Thus pinned down, Miss Rachel considered.

“Perhaps ‘dishonourable’ isn’t quite the right word,” she said, “but we
won’t discuss that now. I shall teach you to behave properly, of course,
but we won’t begin until you look like civilised beings, capable of
being taught. Just now, I think hot baths, with plenty of soap, will be
the best thing for you, but as you have no clean clothes, you’ll have to
go to bed.”

“At five o’clock! Whew!” said Dick. “Oh, I say, Aunt Rachel, not to
bed!”

“Anyway, let us go for a tear around the yard first,” begged Dolly. “We
can’t hurt these clothes now; and I don’t believe the chickens will
mind. Are there _little_ chickens, Aunt Abbie?”

“Yes, little woolly yellow ones.”

“Like the ones on Easter souvenirs? Oh, _please_ let us see them
now,—_please_!”

More persuaded by the violence of her niece’s plea than by her own
inclination, Miss Rachel said they might go out for half an hour, and
then they must come in to baths and beds.

“And supper?” asked Dick, hopefully.

“Yes, bread and milk after you’re clean and tucked into bed.”

“_Only_ bread and milk?” said Dolly, with eyes full of wheedlesomeness.

“Well, perhaps jam,” said Aunt Abbie, smiling, and somehow her smile
augured even more than jam. Out they scampered then, and soon found
Michael, who introduced them to the chickens and also to Pat, who was
the gardener.

“I like you,” said Dolly, slipping her little hand into Pat’s big one,
both being equally grimy. “Please show us all the flowers and things.”

There was so much to look at, they could only compass a small part of it
in their allotted half-hour. Dana Dene covered about thirty acres, but
it was not a real farm. A vegetable garden supplied the household wants,
and the rest of the estate was park and flower beds and a bit of woods
and an orchard and a terrace, and the poultry yard and stables, and
other delights of which the children could only guess.

“Aren’t you glad we came?” said Dolly, still hanging on to Pat’s hand.

“I—I guess so, Miss,” he replied, cautiously; “but I can’t say yet, for
sure. Ye’re rampageous, I’m afraid. Ain’t ye, now?”

“Yes,” said Dick, who was always honest, “I think we are. At least,
everybody says so. But, Pat, we’re going to try not to make you any
trouble.”

“Now, that’s a good boy. If ye talk like that, you ’n me’ll be friends.”

Dolly said nothing, but she smiled happily up into Patrick’s kind eyes,
and then, with their usual adaptability to circumstances, the twins
began to feel at home.



                              CHAPTER III


                            AN EARLY STROLL


Soon after daybreak next morning, Dolly woke, and surveyed with
satisfaction her pretty room.

Pink roses clambered over the wall paper, and over the chintz hangings
and furniture, and over the soft, dainty bed-coverlet.

It was much more attractive than her room at Aunt Helen’s, and as Dolly
loved pretty things, she gave a little sigh of content and nestled
comfortably into her pillows. Then she heard Dick’s voice whispering
through the closed door between their rooms.

“Hi, Dolly; I say! Aren’t you up yet?”

“No, are you?”

“Yes, and ’most dressed. Hustle, can’t you? and let’s go out and chase
around the place.”

“Before breakfast?”

“Yes; breakfast isn’t until eight o’clock, and it’s only six now.”

“All right, I’ll hustle,” and Dolly sprang out of bed, and began to
dress.

The twins were a self-reliant pair, and quite capable and methodical
when they had time to be.

Dolly dressed herself neatly in a clean blue and white plaid gingham;
and as she could tie her hair ribbon quite well enough, except for
special occasions, the blue bow on her golden curls was entirely
satisfactory.

“I’m all ready, Dick,” she whispered at last, through the door, “and we
mustn’t make any noise, for maybe the aunties are asleep yet.”

“All right; I’ll meet you in the hall.”

So both children went on tiptoe out into the big, light hall, and softly
down the stairs.

No one seemed to be stirring, but they unfastened the locks and chains
of the front doors, and stepped out into the beautiful fresh morning.

“I’ve _got_ to holler!” said Dick, still whispering. “They can’t hear us
now.”

“Yes, they can; wait till we get farther away from the house.”

So, hand in hand, they ran down the garden path, and when a grape arbour
and a cornfield were between them and their sleeping aunts, they decided
they were out of hearing.

“Hooray!” yelled Dick, as loud as he could, at the same time turning a
jubilant handspring.

Dolly was quite as glad as her brother, but contented herself with
dancing about, and giving little squeals of delight as she saw one
rapturous sight after another.

“Oh, Dick,” she cried, “there’s a fountain! ’way over there on the
little hill. Do you s’pose that’s on our grounds?”

“’Course it is. This is all ours, as far as you can see, and more too.
That woodsy place over there is ours; Pat told me so.”

“We’ll have picnics there. And Dick, maybe there are fairies in the
woods.”

“Sure there are. That’s just the kind of woods that has fairies. But
they only come out at night, you know.”

“Yes, but it’s only just a little past night now. The sun has only been
up a short time. Maybe there are some fairies there yet.”

“Maybe; let’s go and see.”

With a skip and a jump the children started for the woods, which,
however proved to be farther away than they had thought.

They trudged merrily on, stopping now and then to speak to a robin, or
kick at a dandelion, but at last they came to the edge of the grove.

“Oh, Dick!” cried Dolly, in ecstasy, “think of having a real woods,
right in our own yard! Isn’t it gorgeous!”

“Great! but go softly now, if we want to see fairies. I’m ’fraid they’ve
all gone.”

Hand in hand the children tiptoed into the wood. They moved very
cautiously, lest they should step on a twig, or make any noise that
should frighten the fairies.

“There’s where they dance,” whispered Dick, pointing to a smooth, green
mossy place. “But of course they always fly away when the sun rises.”

“Yes, I s’pose so,” said Dolly, regretfully. “Shall we come out earlier
to-morrow?”

“Yes; or we might come out to see them some night. Moonlight nights;
that’s the time!”

“Would you dare? Oh, Dick, wouldn’t it be grand!”

“Hey, Dolly, there’s a squirrel; a real, live one! That’s better’n
fairies. Oh, look at him!”

Sure enough, a grey squirrel ran past them, and now sat, turning his
head back to look at them, but ready for instant flight if they moved.

But they didn’t move, they knew better; and scarce daring to breathe,
they sat watching the wonderful sight.

Meantime, there was consternation in the household. At seven o’clock
Miss Rachel had sent Hannah, the waitress, to call the twins.

The maid returned with a scared face, and announced that the children
had gone.

“Gone!” cried Miss Rachel, who was engaged in making her own toilet;
“where have they gone?”

“I don’t know, ma’am; but they’re not in their rooms, and the front door
is wide open.”

“Oh, they’ve run away!” cried Miss Rachel, and hastily throwing on a
dressing gown, she went to her sister’s room.

“Get up, Abbie,” she exclaimed. “Those children have run away!”

“Run away? What do you mean?”

“Why, they’ve gone! I suppose they didn’t like us. Perhaps they were
homesick, or something. Abbie, do you suppose they’ve gone back to
Chicago, all alone?”

“Nonsense, Rachel, of course they haven’t! Children always rise early.
They’re probably walking in the garden.”

“No, I don’t think so. Something tells me they’ve run away because they
don’t like us. Oh, Abbie, do you think that’s it?”

“No, I don’t. Go on and dress. They’ll be back by the time you’re ready
for breakfast. If you’re worried, send Hannah out to hunt them up.”

So Hannah was sent, but as she only looked in the verandas and in the
gardens near the house, of course, she didn’t find the twins. By the
time the ladies came downstairs, Hannah had impressed Pat and Michael
into service, and all three were hunting for the missing guests.

But it never occurred to them to go so far as the woods, where Dick and
Dolly were even then sitting, watching the grey squirrel, and looking
for fairies.

“I’m thinkin’ they’ve fell in the pond,” said Pat, as he gazed anxiously
into the rather muddy water.

“Not thim!” said Michael; “they’re not the sort that do be afther
drownin’ thimsilves. They’re too frisky. Belikes they’ve run back to the
brook where they shtopped at yisterday. Do yez go there an’ look, Pat.”

“Yes, do,” said Miss Rachel, who, with clasped hands and a white face
was pacing the veranda.

“Don’t take it so hard, sister,” implored Miss Abbie. “They’re around
somewhere, I’m sure; and if not,—why, you know, Rachel, you didn’t want
them here very much, anyway.”

“How can you be so heartless!” cried Miss Rachel, her eyes staring
reproachfully at her sister. “I do want them; they’re brother’s
children, and this is their rightful home. But I wish they wanted to
stay. I’m sure they ran away because they didn’t like us. Do you think
we were too harsh with them yesterday?”

“Perhaps so. At any rate, they _have_ run away. I thought they were in
the garden, but if so, they would have been found by now. Do you suppose
they took an early train back to New York?”

“Oh, Abbie, how _can_ you say so! Those two dear little mites alone in a
great city! I can’t think it!”

“It’s better than thinking they are drowned in the pond.”

“Either is awful; and yet of course some such thing must have happened.”

The two ladies were on the verge of hysterics, and the servants, who had
all been hunting for the children, were nonplussed. Pat had jumped on a
horse, and galloped off to the brook which had so taken their fancy the
day before, and Michael stood, with his hands in his pockets, wondering
if he ought to drag the pond. Delia, the cook, had left the waiting
breakfast and had come to join the anxious household.

“I’m thinkin’ they’re not far off,” she said; “why don’t ye blow a horn,
now?”

“That’s a good idea,” said Miss Abbie; “try it, Michael.”

So Michael found an old dinner-horn that had hung unused in the barn for
many years, and he blew resounding blasts.

But unfortunately, the babes in the woods were too far away to hear, and
forgetful of all else they watched two squirrels, who, reassured by the
children’s quiet, ran back and forth, and almost came right up to Dick
and Dolly’s beckoning fingers.

“If only we had something to feed them,” said Dick, vainly hunting his
pockets for something edible.

“If only we had something to feed ourselves,” said Dolly; “I’m just
about starved.”

“So’m I; let’s go back now, and come to see the squirrels some other
time, and bring them some nuts.”

“All right, let’s.”

So back they started, but leisurely, for they had no thought of how the
time had slipped by. They paused here and there to investigate many
things, and it was well on toward nine o’clock when they came within
hearing of Michael’s horn, on which he was blowing a last, despairing
blast.

“Hear the horn!” cried Dick. “Do you s’pose that’s the way they call the
family to breakfast?”

“Oh, it isn’t breakfast time, yet,” said Dolly, confidently. “I’m hungry
enough, but it can’t be eight o’clock, I know. And, besides, I want time
to tidy up.”

The clean frock had lost its freshness, and the blue bow was sadly
askew, for somehow, try as she would, Dolly never could keep herself
spick and span.

They trudged along, through the barnyard and the garden, and finally
came to the kitchen door, which stood invitingly open.

“Let’s go in this way,” said Dolly; “it’s nearer, and I can skin up to
my room and brush my hair. I don’t want Auntie Rachel to think I’m
always messy.”

In at the back door they went, and as the kitchen was deserted, they
looked around in some surprise.

“Might as well catch a bun,” said Dick, seeing a panful of rolls in the
warming oven.

The hungry children each took a roll, and then sped on up to their
rooms, intent on tidying themselves for breakfast.

“For goodness’ sake, Dolly!” exclaimed Dick’s voice through the door,
“it’s after nine o’clock! Do you s’pose they’ve had breakfast, and where
is everybody?”

“After nine o’clock!” said Dolly, opening the door, to make sure she had
heard aright. “Well, if this isn’t the queerest house! Hurry up, Dick,
and brush your hair, and we’ll go down and see what’s the matter. I know
they haven’t had breakfast, for the kitchen range was all full of
cereals and things.”

A few moments later, two neat and well-brushed children tripped gaily
downstairs. They went into the library, where their two aunts, nearly in
a state of collapse, were reposing in armchairs.

“Good-morning, aunties,” said the twins, blithely. “Are we late?”

Miss Abbie gasped and closed her eyes, at the astonishing sight, but
Miss Rachel, who was of a different nature, felt all her anxiety turn to
exasperation, and she said, sternly:

“You naughty children! Where have you been?”

“Why, we just got up early, and went to look around the place,”
volunteered Dolly, “and we didn’t know it got late so soon.”

“But where were you? We’ve searched the place over.”

“We went to the woods,” said Dick. “You see, Aunt Abbie, I felt as if I
must screech a little, and we thought if we stayed too near the house,
we might wake you up. It was awful early then. I don’t see how nine
o’clock came so soon! Did we keep breakfast back? I’m sorry.”

“Why did you want to screech?” said Miss Abbie, quickly. “Are you
homesick?”

“Oh, no! I mean screech for joy. Just shout, you know, for fun, and jump
around, and turn somersaults. I always do those things when I’m glad.
But as it turned out, we couldn’t, very much, for we were watching for
fairies, and then for squirrels, so we had to be quiet after all.”

“And so you wanted to shout for joy, did you?” asked Aunt Rachel, much
mollified at the compliments they paid so unconsciously.

“Oh, yes’m! Everything is so beautiful, and so—so sort of enchanted.”

“Enchanted?”

“Yes; full of fairies, and sprites. The woods, you know, and the pond,
and the fountain,—oh, Dana Dene is the finest place I ever saw!”

Dick’s enthusiasm was so unfeigned, and his little face shone with such
intense happiness, that Miss Rachel hadn’t the heart to scold him after
all. So, resolving to tell the twins later of the trouble they had
caused, she went away to tell Delia to send in breakfast, and to tell
Michael to go and find Patrick, for the twins had returned.

[Illustration: “Oh, how good the cool ripply water did
feel!”       (Page 10)]

“You see,” explained Dolly, as they sat at breakfast, “we went out of
the house at half-past seven, by the big, hall clock. And I thought then
we’d stay an hour, and get back in time to fix up before we saw you.
We’re not very good at keeping clean.”

“So I see,” said Aunt Abbie, glancing at several grass stains and a
zigzag tear that disfigured Dolly’s frock.

“Yes’m; so we ’most always try to get in to meals ahead of time, and
that ’lows us to spruce up some.”

“We try to,” said Dick, honestly, “but we don’t always do it.”

“No,” returned Dolly, calmly; “’most never. But isn’t it ’stonishing how
fast the time goes when you think there’s plenty?”

“It is,” said Aunt Rachel, a little grimly. “And now that you’re to live
here, you’ll have to mend your ways, about being late, for I won’t have
tardiness in my house.”

“All right,” said Dolly, cheerfully; “I’ll hunt up my watch. It doesn’t
go very well, except when it lies on its face; but if I put it in my
pocket upside down, maybe it’ll go.”

“It must be a valuable watch,” remarked Aunt Abbie.

“Yes’m, it is. Auntie Helen gave it to me for a good-by gift, but I
looked at it so often, that I thought it would be handier to wear it
hanging outside, like a locket, you know. Well, I did, and then it
banged into everything I met. And the chain caught on everything, and
the watch got dented, and the crystal broke, and one hand came off. But
it was the long hand, so as long as the hour hand goes all right, I can
guess at the time pretty good. If I’d just had it with me this morning,
we’d been all right. I’m real sorry we were late.”

Aunt Rachel smiled, but it was rather a grim smile.

“I don’t set much store by people who are sorry,” she said; “what I
like, are people who don’t do wrong things the second time. If you are
never late to breakfast again, that will please me more than being sorry
for this morning’s escapade.”

“I’ll do both,” said Dolly, generously, and indeed, the twins soon
learned to be prompt at meals, which is a habit easily acquired, if one
wishes to acquire it.



                               CHAPTER IV


                                GARDENS


“Now, children,” said Aunt Rachel, as they all went into the library,
after breakfast, “you may play around as you choose, but I don’t want
you to go off the premises without permission. No more wading in the
brook, and coming home looking disreputable. You may go to our wood, or
anywhere on the place, and stay as long as you like, provided you are
here and properly tidy at meal-times But outside the gates, without
permission, you must not go: Can I trust you?”

“Yes, indeed, Aunt Rachel,” said Dick; “I’m sure we don’t want to go
anywhere else, with all this beautiful place to play in. Why, we haven’t
half explored it yet. Pat says there are thirty acres! Think of that!”

“Yes, it’s a fine old place,” said Miss Rachel, with justifiable pride
in her ancestral home. “And I’m glad to have you young people in it, if
you’ll only behave yourselves, and not keep us everlastingly in hot
water.”

“We do want to be good, Auntie,” said Dolly, in her sweet way; “and if
we’re bad a few times, just till we learn your ways, you know, you’ll
forgive us, won’t you?”

Pretty little Dolly had a wheedlesome voice, and a winning smile, and
Miss Rachel found it difficult to speak sternly, when the big, dark eyes
looked into her face so lovingly.

“Yes, I’m sure you want to be good, my dears, and also, we want to do
the right thing by you. So we’ll learn each other’s ways, and I’m sure
we’ll get along beautifully.”

Miss Rachel was not used to children, and she talked to them as if they
were as grown-up as herself, but Dick and Dolly understood, and sat
patiently while she talked, though, in truth, they were impatient to get
away, and run outdoors again.

“I shall send you to school,” went on Miss Rachel, “but not for a week
or two yet. I want to learn you myself a little better first.”

“Yes’m,” said Dolly, who was equally well pleased to go to school or to
stay at home. But Dick wanted to go.

“Let us go pretty soon, won’t you, Auntie?” he said; “for I want to get
acquainted with the Heatherton fellows.”

“Boys, Dick,” corrected Aunt Abbie, who was beginning to think the twins
rather careless of their diction.

“Yes’m, I mean boys. Are there any who live near here?”

Miss Rachel pursed her lips together.

“The Middletons live in the place next to this,” she began, and Dolly
broke in:

“Oh, that pretty place, with the stone pillars at the gate?”

“Yes,” went on her aunt. “But Mrs. Middleton and we are not—that is—”

“Oh, you’re not good friends, is that it?” volunteered Dick.

“Well, yes; I suppose that is it. You children are too young to
understand, but let it be enough for you that I prefer you should not
play with the little Middletons. There are other neighbours equally
pleasant for your acquaintance.”

“All right, Auntie,” agreed Dick. “Cut out the Middletons. And now
mayn’t we run out to play?”

“First, I’ll take you up and show you your playroom. It’s more for rainy
days, as you seem to like to be out of doors in fine weather. But come
and see it, anyway.”

The two aunts led the way, and the children followed to a large,
delightful room in the third story.

There was a big table in the middle, and smaller tables and chairs
about. There was a pleasant little writing-desk for each, well furnished
with pretty writing materials. Low bookshelves ran round two sides of
the room, and the other side showed a jolly big fireplace, and pleasant
windows with deep seats.

A roomy, comfortable old sofa and a chest of drawers completed the
furnishing.

“It isn’t finished,” said Miss Abbie, “because we don’t yet know your
tastes.”

“It’s lovely, Aunties!” cried Dolly, flinging her arms round the neck of
one after the other, and finally embracing Dick in her enthusiasm.

“Oh, it’s just gay!” Dick cried. “I’ve always wanted a big playroom, and
now we’ve got one. Can I whittle and jigsaw up here?”

“Yes, you may do just exactly as you please. You may bring your young
friends up here, and entertain them whenever you choose.”

“That is, after we get the friends,” supplemented Dolly.

“Yes, but you’ll soon get acquainted. There are many nice children in
Heatherton. Do you play dolls, Dolly?”

“Yes, I do, when I have any little girls to play with. But, you see, I
play with Dick so much, I get out of the habit of dolls. But I do love
’em. When our big box of things comes, I’ve lots of dolls in it, and
Dick’s tool-chest and jigsaw—oh, it will be splendid to fix them all up
here!”

“Yes, Michael will help you. He’ll fix a good workbench, for you, Dick,
if you’re fond of fussing with tools. Do you cut your fingers much?”

“Sometimes, Aunt Rachel, but not always. Say, you’re awful good to us.
We’re ever so much obliged.”

Dick was more awkward at expressing his appreciation than Dolly, but the
honest joy on the boy’s face showed his admiration of the room, and Aunt
Rachel’s heart warmed toward him, for she too was sometimes unable to
express herself aptly.

“Now we’ll skiddoo,” said Dolly, as she patted Miss Abbie’s hand by way
of farewell. “We want to see Pat feed the chickens.”

“Yes, dearie, run along, but,—would you mind if I ask you not to use
those—those unusual words?”

“Skiddoo? Oh, that’s an awful useful word, Aunt Abbie. I don’t see how I
could get along without it, but I’ll try if you say so.”

“Yes, do try, Dolly; I want my niece to be a refined, ladylike little
girl, not a slangy one.”

“Yes’m.” Dolly drew a little sigh. “I want to do what you want me to do.
But I’m pretty forgetful, Aunt Abbie, so don’t be ’scouraged, will you,
if I don’t get good all at once?”

Dolly had a childish trick of omitting the first syllable of a word, but
Aunt Abbie kissed the earnest little face, and assured her that she
wouldn’t get ’scouraged.

So away the twins scampered, down the stairs, and out into the sweet,
clear morning air.

Dana Dene stood high on an elevation that looked down on the small town
of Heatherton. The view from the terrace in front of the house was
beautiful, and as Dick and Dolly looked down at the clustered buildings
they tried to guess what they were.

“That’s the church,” said Dick, triumphantly pointing to an unmistakable
spire.

“One of ’em,” corrected Dolly; “there’s another, and I wonder what that
big stone building is; prob’ly the school where we’ll go.”

“P’raps. Is it, Patrick?”

“Well, no, Master Dick; that isn’t exactly the school fer ye children.
That’s the jail,—the county jail, so it is.”

“Oh,” cried Dolly, in dismay; “I don’t want to go to school to a jail!
Where is the school-house, Patrick?”

“There’s three of ’em, Miss Dolly. But the grandest is that white house
ferninst, an’ I’m thinkin’ ye’ll go there.”

“Are my aunts very grand, Patrick?”

“Oh, yes, miss. We’re the quality of the hull place. There’s nobody like
the Danas.”

“That’s nice,” said Dolly, with a little air of satisfaction.

“Huh,” said Dick; “what sort of a country do you think this is, Dolly?
Everybody is as good as everybody else. Why do you talk that way, Pat?”

“Well, sor, it may be. But everybody in Heatherton, they thinks Miss
Rachel and Miss Abbie is top o’ the heap, you see.”

“All right,” returned Dick. “I don’t mind if we are. But what about the
Middletons? Aren’t they nice people?”

Pat’s face clouded. “Don’t be askin’ me about the Middletons,” he said;
“I’ve nothin’ to say for or agin ’em. Now, if so be’s you want to see
them chickens, come ahead.”

They went ahead or, rather, they followed Pat to the chicken yard, and
spent a blissful half-hour among the feathered wonders.

They learned the names of the various kinds of chickens, and Dolly
declared she should never tire of watching the little yellow fledglings
patter around and peep.

“They’re not still a minute,” she said. “Can I try to catch one?”

Pat showed her how to lift one gently, without hurting the little soft
ball of down, and as it was such a pretty little yellow one, Dolly named
it Buttercup, and Pat said it should always be her own chicken.

Then Dick picked one out for his very own, and he chose a black one, and
called it Cherry, because, he said, some cherries are black.

This made Pat laugh, and then he told the twins to run away and play by
themselves, as he had to go to work in earnest.

“What’s your work, Pat?” asked Dolly, who liked to stay with the
good-natured Irishman.

“I have to do the gardens, Miss Dolly. An’ it’s rale work, it is, not
play. So do ye run away, now.”

“Oh, Pat, let us see you garden,” begged Dolly.

“Please do,” said Dick. “We never saw anybody garden in our life.”

“Ye didn’t! Fer the love of green corn, where was ye brung up?”

“In the city; and summers we had to go to hotels, and we never even saw
a garden dug.”

“Come on, then; but ye mustn’t bother.”

“No, we won’t bother,” and with a hop, skip, and jump, they followed Pat
to the toolhouse. There was such an array of spades, hoes, rakes, and
other implements, that Dick cried out: “Oh, let us garden, too! Pat,
can’t we each have a little garden,—just a square patch, you know, and
plant things in it?”

“Arrah, a garden, is it? An’ who’d be afther weedin’ it, an’ keepin’ it
in order fer ye?”

“Why, we’d do it ourselves,” declared Dolly, fixing her eyes on Pat with
her most coaxing smile. “Do let us, Pat, dear.”

“Well, ye must ask yer aunties. I cudden’t give no such permission of
myself.”

Away flew the twins to the house, in search of the aunties, and when the
twins ran, it was a swift performance indeed. They held hands, and their
feet flew up and down so fast that they looked like some queer sort of
windmill rolling along.

Bang! in at the front door they went, and almost upset Miss Rachel, who
was serenely crossing the hall.

“Oh, Auntie, may we have a garden?” shouted Dick, seizing his aunt’s
hand, and leaning up against her to steady himself after his exhausting
run.

“Oh, Auntie, may we? Do say yes,” cried Dolly, who had flung her arms
round Miss Rachel’s waist, and who was dancing up and down to the
imminent danger of the good lady’s toes.

“What? Oh, my, how you do fluster me! What is it?”

Miss Rachel shook off the two, and seated herself in a hall chair, to
regain her equilibrium, both physical and mental, but the twins made
another wild dash at her. “Please,” they coaxed, patting her arm and her
face and occasionally each other’s hands in their excitement. “Please,
Auntie, a garden for our very own.”

“Two,—one for each of us. May we? Oh, please say yes! Do, Auntie, do,
say yes.”

Miss Rachel found her voice at last.

“If you want anything,” she said, “stop jumping around like a pair of
wild savages. Sit down on that settee, and tell me quietly, and one at a
time, what it’s all about.”

“Let me tell, Dick,” said Dolly, and knowing his sister’s talent for
persuasion, Dick willingly kept quiet while Dolly told.

They sat side by side on the hall settee, opposite their aunt, and
scarcely dared move, while Dolly made her plea.

“You see, Auntie,” she began, “we’ve never had a garden; never even seen
one made. And so, we thought, perhaps, maybe, as there’s so much spare
ground lying around, we hoped maybe you’d let us each have a little
garden of our own. Just a little tiny one, you know.”

“For pity’s sake,” exclaimed Miss Rachel, “is all this fuss about a
garden? Why, you can have a dozen, if you like.”

“Oh, thank you, Auntie,” cried Dolly, repressing her inclination to fly
over and hug her aunt, lest it be considered a “fuss.” “One’s
enough,—one apiece, I mean. And what can we plant?”

“Why, plant anything you choose. Pat will give you seeds, and if he
hasn’t what you want, we’ll buy some when we go driving this afternoon.”

Dick was overcome by his aunt’s kindness and whole-souled generosity.
But he had no intention of making a fuss,—not he. He rose and quietly
crossed the hall, and bowing low in front of the lady, said:

“Aunt Rachel, I do think you’re the very best person in the whole
world!”

“So do I!” said Dolly. “Seems ’s if I _must_ squeeze you!”

“Not now,” said Miss Rachel, smiling; “you nearly squeezed the breath
out of me a few moments ago. I’ll take your enthusiasm for granted. Now,
run out, and make your gardens. Tell Pat I said you’re to have whatever
you want for them.”

“Hurray! Hooroo!” cried Dick, unable to repress himself longer, and
throwing his cap up in the air, without having had the least intention
of doing so.

It landed on the high chandelier, and Hannah had to bring the
long-handled feather duster to get it down.

“Please ’scuse Dick, Aunt Rachel,” said loyal little Dolly, seeing her
brother’s regretful look. “He didn’t mean to fling that cap till he got
outdoors, but somehow——”

“Somehow, it flung itself,” cried Dick; “’cause I’m so glad about the
garden!”

Away they went, banging the door behind them, and Miss Rachel sat a few
minutes, seriously considering whether or not she could keep such little
cyclones in her hitherto quiet and well-ordered home.

“It isn’t so much what they’ve done,” she said, as she went and talked
it over with Miss Abbie, “as what they may do. They’re liable to fling
caps anywhere, and break all the bric-à-brac, and bang all the
furniture—well, if there were any place to send them, they should go
to-day.”

“You don’t mean that, Rachel,” said Miss Abbie. “They are noisy, I know,
but I think we can train them to better manners; and they have dear,
loving little hearts.”

“Too loving,” said the elder sister, ruefully. “They nearly felled me to
the floor, the way they rushed at me. I’m not over the shock yet!”

“Well,” sighed Miss Abbie, “I suppose it’s because we’re not used to
children; but they do seem especially sudden in their ways.”



                               CHAPTER V


                              A PLAYGROUND


“Sudden in their ways,” just described Dick and Dolly. After getting
their aunt’s sanction, they flew back to the toolhouse, and tumbling in
at the door, nearly upset Pat by their sudden dash for spades and hoes.

“She says we can!” cried Dolly; “how do you begin, Pat? What do we do
first?”

“Dig, of course,” declared Dick, seizing the biggest spade he could
find.

“All right; where shall we dig?”

Dolly grabbed another spade, and skipping out of the toolhouse, began to
dig frantically in the path that led from the doorstep.

“Whisht! now! Miss Dolly, don’t be fer sp’ilin’ me good path!”

Pat was amiable, but the vigorous enthusiasm of these children began to
appal him. He was always deferential to his employers, and he looked
upon the twins as members of his employers’ family, and so he considered
himself under their orders. But he also began to see that he must direct
matters himself, if these impetuous youngsters were to have a real
garden.

“Well,” he said, “if so be’s yer aunts has give permission, we must make
the gardens fer ye. But we must do ’t dacint an’ proper. Don’t begin by
diggin’ up me tidy paths.”

“I won’t, Pat; I’m sorry!” and Dolly carefully smoothed away the clefts
she had dug with her spade.

“Now, we’ll consider,” said Pat, greatly interested in the plan. “First
of all, where will ye be selectin’ the place?”

The twins gazed around, at the various gardens, terrace, woodland, and
water, and then Dolly said, decidedly:

“In the woods; that’s the prettiest place.”

“Oh, ho!” laughed Pat. “Why, little miss, ye can’t grow things in the
woods! Leastwise, only ferns an’ moss! Don’t ye want flowers, now?”

“Oh, yes; of course we do! And I forgot they have to have sunshine.”

“Goosie!” cried Dick. “Now, I think a place near the pond would be nice,
and then we can fetch water easily,—for I s’pose we have to water our
flowers every day, don’t we, Pat?”

“Yes; onless it rains fer ye, which it sometimes do. Now, s’pose ye let
me s’lect yer place, an’ then do ye pick out yer own choice o’ flowers.”

“Do,” cried Dolly. “You know so much better than we do where a garden
ought to be.”

Pat considered carefully for a few moments, casting his eye thoughtfully
toward various parts of the estate.

“Come on,” he said, at last, and the children followed him, as he strode
off.

Just beyond the beautifully kept terrace was a stretch of lawn, entirely
open to the sunlight, save for a big horse-chestnut tree in one corner.

Here Pat paused, and indicating by a sweep of his arm a section about
seventy-five feet square, he said:

“I’m thinkin’, instead of only a garden, by itself, it’d be foine for ye
to make yersilves a rale playground.”

Dolly’s quick mind jumped to the possibilities.

“Oh, Pat, a playground, all for ourselves, with our two gardens in it!”

“Yes, miss; and an arbour, and seats, an’ a table, an’——”

But he got no further, for Dick and Dolly seized him by either hand, and
jumped up and down, fairly shouting with delight.

“Oh, Pat, Pat, I never heard of anything so lovely!”

“How could you think of it? Let’s begin at once!”

“But ye must behave!” cried Pat, shaking his hands loose from their
grasp, and waiting for them to stop their antics.

“Yes, yes; we’ll behave!” said Dolly, suddenly standing stock-still, and
looking very; demure. “What do we do first, dig?”

“I’m thinkin’ yez better dig a whole acre,—an’ see if ye can’t work off
some of yer animile sperrits! Such rampageous bein’s I niver saw!”

“We’ll be quiet, Pat,” said Dick, earnestly; “now let’s begin.”

“Well, thin,—first, we must plan it, sure. Suppose we drive a shtake
here fer wan corner; and thin the big tree will be the opposite corner.
Now ye see the size av it.”

“Yes,” agreed Dolly, “it’s a lovely size.”

“Thin, supposin’ we plan to set out a little low hedge all around the
four sides, wid an openin’ or two——”

“And an arched gateway!” cried Dolly, with sparkling eyes.

“Yes, miss, say an arched gateway or two. An’ then, inside ye can have
three or four garden-beds,—fer sep’rate plants, ye know,—an’ yer
arbour, an’ whativer else ye like.”

“Oh!” said Dolly, sitting plump down on the ground from sheer inability
to bear up under these wonderful anticipations.

“Now, what’s to do first?” said Dick, eager to get to work.

“Well, first we’ll lay out our flower beds. Now I don’t s’pose ye know
the difference between seeds an’ plants, do ye?”

“Oh, yes! Plants grow from seeds.”

“Well, av coorse they do. But I don’t mean that. Ye see, some flowers ye
set out as plants; an’ some ye raise from seeds.”

“Oh, I think seeds will be most fun,” said Dolly: “You just stuff ’em in
the ground and then they grow, don’t they, Pat?”

“Well, yes, miss; if yer seeds is right, an’ yer ground’s right, an’ if
ye stuff ’em in right, an’ take care of ’em right, afterward.”

“Oh, we can do all that,” Dick assured him, grandly, and Pat’s eyes
twinkled, as he replied:

“Av coorse ye can!”

Then Pat called Michael to help him, and they drove stakes and tied
twine to them, until they had the playground distinctly marked out.

“Now, we’ll consider yer flower-beds, an’ lave the other considerations
till later,” announced Pat. “Ye see, yer seed-beds must be in the
mornin’ sun, an’ have the shade of an afthernoon. So, wid the big tree
ferninst, we can aisy manage that.”

“Seeds seem to be pretty particular,” observed Dolly.

“They be that, Miss; but so likewise is the plants. Some wants sun an’
some wants shade, an’ if they don’t get what they wants, they jist lies
down an’ dies!”

Then Pat and Michael selected the best spots, and marked out two oval
flower-beds of goodly size, and two straight, narrow seed-beds somewhat
smaller.

“Miss Dolly’s, we’ll say, will be on this side, an’ Master Dick’s on
that. Now, if so be’s ye childhern wants to dig, fer mercy’s sake dig!
Ye can’t hurt the ground.”

Pat well knew that his own strong arms would spade up the beds later,
and he would fill them with the right sort of soil, and get them in
perfect order for planting; but the twins were delighted at the idea of
doing their own digging, and went to work with their usual enthusiasm.

It was hard work, but they enjoyed it, and though not very
scientifically done, they did manage to dislodge the soft turf, and
riddle up the dirt beneath.

“I s’pose it won’t be such hard work after the digging is dug,” said
Dolly, looking at her blistered little palms.

“Why, Dolly Dana!” exclaimed Aunt Abbie, who came out just then, to see
how the gardens progressed; “don’t you dig another bit! You poor, dear
child, your hands are in a dreadful state! Go in and ask Aunt Rachel for
some salve.”

“No, indeedy!” declared the valiant Dolly. “I’m going to plant my seeds
now!”

“Oh, no, miss,” said Pat. “Them beds isn’t ready yet. Nor ye haven’t got
yer seeds.”

“Don’t be too impetuous, Dolly,” said Aunt Abbie. “This afternoon, we’ll
plan out what is best to plant and then by to-morrow, if Patrick has the
beds ready, you can do your planting.”

Dick was still digging away, manfully, quite unwilling to admit there
were blisters on his own hands.

But Aunt Abbie made him stop, for though the digging was good fun, there
was no use in causing himself needless pain, and Patrick would do the
beds all over, anyway. So Aunt Abbie persuaded the children to turn
their attention to planning their playground.

She quite approved of Pat’s suggestions, and sent for Miss Rachel to
come out and assist with the plans.

Both ladies were very fond of gardening, and entered enthusiastically
into the idea of the pretty playground. Miss Rachel instructed Pat to
buy and set out a low hedge of privet all round the inclosure; and they
decided on two entrances, front and back, each to be adorned by an arch
covered with a flowering vine.

An arbour was planned for the centre, but Dolly chose to call it a
playhouse. For it was to be big enough to have seats and a table inside.

It was to be built tent-shape; that is, very long, slender poles would
be set up in pairs, meeting at the top, like the letter A. There would
be about a dozen pairs of these poles, each pair about two feet apart,
and thus they would have a long arbour on which to train vines and
flowers.

A ridge-pole along the top would keep it all firm and steady, and
quickly growing vines should be chosen, which would soon cover the whole
frame.

Michael, who was clever at carpenter work, volunteered to make a table
and benches, and Dick, who was also fond of tools, felt sure he could
help.

Aunt Abbie said she would give a garden swing as her contribution to the
playground, and Aunt Rachel said she, too, would give something nice,
but what it would be, was a secret as yet.

Then it was nearly dinner-time, so they went back to the house, and the
four sorry-looking little hands were carefully washed and anointed with
a soothing lotion.

Heatherton people approved of midday dinners, and so the hungry children
sat down to an ample and satisfying meal, to which they were fully
prepared to do justice.

“You know,” said Aunt Rachel, as they chatted at table, “you are to take
care of these gardens yourselves. Pat and Michael have all they can do,
already; and though they have helpers in the busy seasons, I expect you
two to weed and water your own flower-beds.”

“Of course, Auntie,” said Dolly; “that’s what we want to do.”

“Else they wouldn’t be ours,” chimed in Dick. “There are lots of
flower-beds around the place, but these are to be our very own. And how
can they be, if we don’t do all the work on ’em?”

“That’s right,” said Aunt Rachel, approvingly. “Patrick will superintend
your work, and he or Michael will keep the grass and the paths in order,
but the rest is for you to do. Do you know anything about flowers?”

“Not a thing!” declared Dolly. “But I want to raise violets and
carnation pinks.”

“That proves you don’t know much,” said Aunt Abbie, laughing. “Why,
those are the very things you couldn’t possibly raise!”

“Why?” said Dolly, looking surprised.

“Because they are too difficult. They require hothouses, or, at least
cold frames. You must content yourself with simpler blossoms;
nasturtiums, phlox, asters, peonies——”

“Oh, those are just as good,” said Dolly. “I don’t care much what
flowers they are, if they’ll grow.”

“I like big plants,” said Dick. “Could I have sunflowers and hollyhocks,
Aunt Rachel?”

“Yes, my boy; I’m sure you can manage those. Have a hedge at the back of
your playground of those flowers, and also cosmos and goldenglow.”

After dinner they went to the library, and made lists of the flowers
they would have. Aunt Abbie drew diagrams of their gardens, and advised
the right kinds of flowers to grow together.

“I want you to grow up to love gardening,” said Miss Rachel, “but as you
are now quite young, and very ignorant on the subject, you must begin
with the simplest and easiest sorts of plants.”

Then the aunts explained how the children must plant seeds in their
seed-beds, and after the tiny shoots sprang up, how they must be
separated and thinned out.

“And throw away some of them!” exclaimed Dolly in dismay.

“Yes; that’s to make the others stronger and healthier plants.”

“What do we plant in our big gardens?” asked Dick.

“Well, there you can have such plants as you want. Roses, geraniums, and
Canterbury Bells are good ones. And then, you transplant to those beds
your seedlings that you have already started yourselves.”

“And can’t we plant any seeds in the flower beds?”

“Oh, yes; such as do not need transplanting. You can have borders of
portulacca, candytuft, sweet alyssum, and such things.”

“My! it sounds grand!” said Dolly, to whom nearly all these names were
new.

“Now suppose we go out there again,” said Aunt Rachel, “and see what
seeds Pat has on hand. Then we’ll know what to buy for you.”

So back went the quartette, and found the playground had assumed quite a
definite air.

A narrow strip of upturned earth showed the line of the hedge that was
to be set out. The flower-beds and seed-beds were neatly cut in shape
and properly spaded. Little stakes marked the places for the arbor
poles, and white cords outlined paths that were yet to be cut.

“It doesn’t seem possible it’s ours!” said Dolly, drawing a blissful
sigh of contentment.

“Now here’s some seeds as I already have,” said Pat, offering a box of
packets to the children.

“Oh, can we plant some now,—right away?” asked Dick.

“Yes; let us do so,” said Aunt Abbie, who was nearly as eager as the
children to get the garden started.

So they selected nasturtiums, poppies, marigolds, and morning glories
from Pat’s box, and all went to work at the planting.

The aunts showed Dick and Dolly how to poke a little hole in the ground,
about three inches deep, and then drop in a nasturtium seed. Then they
covered it over with dirt, pressed it down lightly, and watered it.

This was an enthralling occupation, and the children worked carefully
and did just as they were told. Poppies came next, and these seeds were
planted quite differently. The ground was made quite smooth, and then
slightly watered. Then Pat showed them how to sprinkle the fine seed
scantily over the top of the ground, and not put any dirt over it at
all. A thin layer of cut grass was scattered over them to keep the seeds
from too much sunlight.

“How do you know that some seeds must be planted one way and some
another?” asked Dick, looking at Patrick with a new interest.

“That’s me business, Masther Dick. We all has to know our business av
coorse.”

The morning-glory seeds could not be planted just then, as they had to
soak in water for two hours, so next they set out some pansy plants.
These Pat had expected to use elsewhere, but at Miss Rachel’s direction,
he handed them over to the twins.

This was a new sort of work, and even more fascinating than
seed-planting. The tiny plants were fragile and had to be handled very
carefully. Then a hole must be dug with a trowel, the plant set in, and
the soil gently filled in about it.

The twins each had a half-dozen pansy plants, and Dick set his in a
group, but Dolly arranged hers in a border. Then Miss Rachel said they
had done enough for one day, and she marched them off to the house to
get rested.

But did Dick and Dolly rest? Not they! They didn’t seem to know what the
word meant. They went up to their playroom, and sitting together at the
table, they drew diagrams and plans for their playground until the
aunties called them downstairs again.



                               CHAPTER VI


                             A SOCIAL CALL


The twins gladly obeyed their aunts’ summons, for it meant to get
ready to go to town to buy their flower seeds. Long before the ladies
were ready, Dick and Dolly, in trim attire, and with pretty spring coats
and hats, sat in the library waiting.

“I like this home a lot, don’t you, Dollums?” said Dick, as he
thoughtfully looked about him.

“Love it!” responded his twin promptly. “Chicago was nice, too, and
Auntie Helen was gay and pretty, but this is so country and all. And oh,
Dick, won’t our playground be splendiferous! Do you s’pose the arbor
will _ever_ get built and grown over with flowers and things?”

“’Course it will! And, Dolly, I’m going to make some rustic seats and
things myself. It tells how in my ‘Handy Book,’ and I’m sure I can do
it.”

“I’m sure you can too. And can’t you make some little seats for my
dolls?”

Dick had just agreed to do this when the two aunties came downstairs,
and they all went out to the carriage. Somehow it seemed very formal.
Aunt Rachel and Aunt Abbie, all dressed up in calling costume, with
gloves and parasols, didn’t seem so chummy as when they were all out
planting seeds together. And Michael, in his coachman’s livery, looked
so straight and unintelligent that it was hard to believe he was the
same man.

They all got into the big, open carriage, and the twins sat backward,
facing their aunts.

“First,” said Miss Rachel, who sat up very stiff and prim, “we will go
and buy the seeds and plants, and then we will pay some calls.”

This seemed very strange to Dick and Dolly, for they had never been
taken calling with Auntie Helen in Chicago; but they made no comment, as
none seemed to be expected.

The carriage stopped at a small shop, and the proprietor hurried out to
greet the ladies. He bowed with great deference, and asked what he might
show them.

Miss Rachel had a list of the seeds and plants they had decided on for
the children’s gardens, and the shopman said he would send them all the
next day.

“And have you some small garden implements?” asked Miss Abbie. “Some
little rakes and hoes, suitable for children’s use.”

The shopman said he would bring some out to show them.

“Oh, Auntie,” cried Dolly, impulsively, “can’t we go in the shop and
look at them?”

“No, indeed,” said Miss Rachel, as if Dolly had asked something highly
improper. “Stay where you are and make your selections.”

Dolly wondered why they couldn’t hop out, but it didn’t much matter, as
the man returned, followed by a youth who brought a lot of spades and
rakes and garden tools of many sorts.

The children were allowed to select all they wanted, and, guided by Aunt
Rachel’s advice, they chose quite a great many.

“You’re awful good to us,” exclaimed Dick as, after giving the order,
they drove away.

“Then you must be good to us,” said Aunt Rachel, smiling. “Now we are
going to call at Mrs. Fuller’s. She has a son Jack, about ten years old,
and I hope you will be good friends with him. There are no little girls
here, but, Dolly, we will find some girl friends for you later on.”

“Oh, I like boys,” said Dolly, agreeably. “I like Dick better than any
girl, so, of course, I like other boys too.”

At Mrs. Fuller’s they were ushered into a stiff, formal-looking parlour,
which had the effect of being rarely used. The half-drawn blinds gave
but a dim light, and the four guests took their seats in silence.

Dick and Dolly felt depressed without knowing just why. They secretly
wished they could clasp hands and make a dash for the door and run away,
but Aunt Rachel had asked them to be good, so they sat still, wondering
what would be expected of them.

After what seemed a long time, Mrs. Fuller came into the room. She was a
lady of very precise manners, and wore a rustling silk gown.

The ladies all shook hands quite stiffly, and inquired for each other’s
health, and then Miss Rachel presented the twins to Mrs. Fuller.

“How do you do, my dears?” said the lady, offering her finger-tips to
each in turn.

“I’m very well, thank you; how are you?” said Dolly, heartily, as she
cordially gave her hostess’s hand a vigorous shake. But the chagrin on
the Dana ladies’ faces, and the surprised glance of Mrs. Fuller, proved
at once that this wasn’t the right thing to do.

Quick to catch the hint, Dick offered his hand hesitatingly,—so much so
indeed, that it lay in Mrs. Fuller’s like a little limp fish, and as she
finally dropped it, it fell loosely to Dick’s side.

“How d’ do?” he murmured, uncertain what to say, and then, feeling very
uncomfortable, the two children sat down again.

For a time no attention was paid to them, and the ladies conversed in
short, elegant sentences, and high-pitched voices.

Then Mrs. Fuller turned again to the twins:

“How do you like Heatherton?” she asked.

The suddenness of the question took Dick unawares, and he said
enthusiastically:

“Out o’ sight!”

Immediately he realised that he should have expressed himself more
formally, and the look of annoyance on Aunt Rachel’s face made him red
and embarrassed.

Loyal little Dolly tried, as always, to come to his rescue, and she said
politely:

“Yes, indeed, Mrs. Fuller; we like it awfully well so far, but of course
we haven’t been here very long yet.”

“And you think you won’t like it when you’ve been here longer! Is that
it?”

Mrs. Fuller meant only to be jocose, but Dolly didn’t understand, and
tried hard to explain.

“No ’m; I don’t mean that. I mean I think we’ll like it better after we
live here a while.”

“I trust you will,” said Mrs. Fuller. “You must be hard to please if you
don’t.”

Poor Dolly felt herself misunderstood, but she could think of nothing to
say, so she sat silent, but, it seemed, this was not the right thing to
do either.

“Speak up, child,” said Aunt Rachel, half playfully and half sharply;
“didn’t you hear Mrs. Fuller’s remark?”

“Yes ’m,” said Dolly, “but,—but I don’t know what to answer.”

“Strange child,” murmured Mrs. Fuller. “Is the boy any more civil?”

Dick, though embarrassed himself, was still more annoyed at Dolly’s
discomfiture, and spoke up decidedly:

“We don’t mean to be uncivil, Mrs. Fuller. But we’ve never made
fashionable calls before, and we don’t know quite how to talk. It’s so
different in Chicago.”

“Different in Chicago! I should hope so. My dear Miss Dana and Miss
Abbie, you’ll have your hands full with these little ones, won’t you?”

“At first,” said Miss Rachel with dignity. “But we hope to teach them.”

“And we want to learn,” put in Dolly, with an instinctive desire to
stand by her aunt against this disagreeable lady.

“Then there’ll be no trouble, I’m sure,” said Mrs. Fuller, but though
her words were all right, her tone was a little bit sarcastic, and the
twins were conscious of a feeling of defeat, which was far from
comfortable.

Then Jack Fuller came into the room.

He was a boy of ten, with fair hair, and a pale, girlish face. He,
apparently, had irreproachable manners, and gave his hand to the Dana
ladies with just the right degree of cordiality. Then, being introduced
to Dick and Dolly, he came and sat on the sofa between them.

Instinctively, Dick felt that he never could like that boy. Jack had
scarcely opened his mouth before Dick had dubbed him a “Miss Nancy.” He
didn’t believe Jack could run or jump, or do anything that a boy ought
to do.

“Do you like to live here?” said Jack at last, by way of opening
conversation.

“Yes, we do,” said Dolly; “we’re going to have splendid gardens,—we’ve
been digging all day. Don’t you love to do that?”

Jack looked at her with apparent surprise that a girl should care for
such vigorous pursuits.

“I never dig,” he answered. “Mamma thinks it isn’t good for me.”

“How funny!” said Dolly. “I should think it would do you good.”

“Do you like to run and jump?” asked Dick, for there had been a pause,
and he considered it his turn to “make talk.”

“Oh, not very much. I like quiet games. I play mostly by myself. Mamma
won’t let me associate with many children. But I’m to be allowed to play
with you. I know that, because you’re Danas.”

This was gratifying in a way, but somehow Dick wasn’t over-enchanted at
the prospect.

“I hope you will,” he said; “but I’m afraid,—when we’re playing, we’re
rather,—rather rampageous.”

“Rough, do you mean?” asked Jack, looking horrified.

“Well, we don’t mean to be rough exactly; but we’re sort of noisy and
lively.”

“Well, I shall visit you all the same,” said Jack, with a resigned air,
“for mamma said I should. I think I’m to go see you to-morrow afternoon
at four.”

This specified date amused the Dana children, but Dolly said politely:

“That will be very nice, and I’m sure we’ll have a good time.”

And then the aunties rose to take leave, and they all went home again.

“You children must learn better manners,” said Aunt Rachel, as they
drove homeward. “You horrified me to-day by your manner of speaking.”

“I saw we did,” said Dolly, humbly, “but I don’t see what we did that
was wrong. I’m sure we didn’t mean to be bad.”

“You weren’t bad,” said Abbie, smiling at them, “but we want you to
acquire a little more grace and elegance. You spoke, in Mrs. Fuller’s
parlour, just as you would at home.”

“Oh,” said Dick, “I begin to see; you want us to put on society airs.”

Aunt Rachel considered a moment.

“While I shouldn’t express it in just that way,” she said, “that is
about what I mean.”

“Well,” said Dick pleasantly, “we’ll try. But Aunty Helen always taught
us to be just as polite when alone at home as when we were visiting or
had company.”

“Auntie Helen isn’t teaching you now,” said Miss Rachel, grimly; “and I
trust you’ll consider my wishes in the matter.”

“We will, Aunt Rachel, we truly will,” broke in Dolly, whose rôle was
often that of pacificator. “You’re terribly good to us, and we want to
do ’zackly as you want us to, but, you see, fashionable calls are new to
us. We’ll do better next time.”

Dolly’s cheerful smile was infectious, and Aunt Rachel smiled back, and
dropped the subject of manners for the present.

The next afternoon, promptly at four o’clock, Jack Fuller came to see
Dick and Dolly. The twins had been grubbing in their gardens all day,
and had been radiantly happy.

They loved flowers and learned quickly the elements of gardening that
Pat taught them. And with their new garden tools of suitable size, they
did real work after the most approved fashion. But at three o’clock they
were called in to get ready for the expected guest. Dick grumbled a
little, for it seemed hard to leave the gardens to get all dressed up
just because a _boy_ was coming!

“But you want to make friends in Heatherton, don’t you?” asked Aunt
Rachel.

“Yes ’m; but I like boys who come over and play in every-day clothes;
not rig up like a party.”

As for Dolly, she didn’t see why she had to leave the garden at all.
Jack Fuller wasn’t her company.

But the aunts decreed that both twins should receive the guest properly,
and so at quarter to four, two spick and span, but not very merry
children sat in the library, waiting.

Jack came in, at last, and greeted the twins with the same formality he
had shown in his own home. He responded politely to the elder ladies’
remarks and Dick and Dolly tried to be polite and do exactly as the
others did.

After nearly half an hour of this stiff and uncomfortable conversation,
Miss Rachel proposed that the twins take Jack out and show him their
gardens. Glad to get out of doors, Dick and Dolly ran for their hats and
the three children started out.

To the twins’ astonishment, as soon as he was out of the presence of the
elder ladies, Jack turned into quite a different boy. His formal manner
fell away, and he was chummy and full of fun.

“Let’s throw stones,” he cried. “See me hit that stone bird on the
fountain.”

He flung a pebble with such true aim that it hit the stone bird on the
wing, and roused Dick’s exceeding admiration, for he was not himself a
superior marksman.

“Want to play knife?” asked Jack, pulling a new knife from his pocket;
“or no, let’s go see your gardens first. Must be gay ones, from the fuss
you make over ’em.”

But when he saw the playground that was planned, he was appreciative
enough to satisfy the twins’ love of enthusiasm.

“It’s great!” he cried; “that’s what it is, great! I wish I had one like
it.”

“Yes, won’t it be fine!” agreed Dick; “there’ll be a table in the
arbour, and chairs, or benches, and we can have tea-parties, and
everything.”

“Plant gourds on your arbour,” advised Jack. “All kinds are good, but
the dipper and cucumber gourd grow the fastest. They’ll cover your
arbour in a few weeks, I guess. Hercules club is a good fellow for that,
too. Pat’ll know about ’em.”

Dick and Dolly felt their admiration rising for this boy, who knew so
much about climbing gourds and flowers of all sorts. It was strange that
he could throw stones so straight, and also have such fine parlour
manners. So very strange indeed that Dick felt he must inquire into it.

“Say,” he began; “you’re awful different out here from what you are in
the parlour.”

“Sure,” returned Jack. “In parlours, with ladies, a fellow has to be
polite and proper. You don’t want me to be like that out here with you,
do you?”

Jack’s face expressed such a willingness to do what was required of him
that Dick exclaimed hastily:

“Not on your life! But I don’t see how you manage those fine airs when
you have to.”

“Pooh, it’s dead easy. Anyway, I’ve always done it. Mamma wouldn’t like
it if I didn’t.”

“I s’pose we’ll have to learn,” said Dolly, sighing a little; “but don’t
let’s bother about it now.”

As the afternoon wore on, and they became better acquainted, they both
began to like Jack very much. He was not a strong boy, and couldn’t run
or jump as they could, but he was clever at games, and could beat them
easily at “knife,” or “hop-scotch,” or almost any game of muscular skill
that did not call for violent exercise.

“He’s all right,” said Dick to Dolly as they sat on the veranda steps a
few minutes after Jack went home. “But I hope we won’t always have to
dress up, and sit in the parlour at first every time he comes.”

“Let’s ask Aunt Rachel,” said Dolly.

“Why, no,” said Miss Rachel in surprise. “Of course you won’t. To-day
was his first visit, as you called on him yesterday. After this, you can
go to play with each other in your every-day clothes, whenever you
like.”

Dick and Dolly were satisfied with this, and gave up trying to fathom
the strange requirements of etiquette at Heatherton.



                              CHAPTER VII


                                 PINKIE


The days passed happily at Dana Dene.

There was so much to do, with the gardens and the chickens, and going
for afternoon drives that, except on rainy days, the children were out
of doors nearly all the time.

Their big boxes had arrived, and Dolly’s dolls, and Dick’s more boyish
treasures, were up in the playroom, but were often neglected for
open-air fun.

It had been decided by the aunties that the twins should not go to
school until Fall, for the term was within a few weeks of closing, and
it didn’t seem worth while to start. But they were required to practise
on the piano an hour each day, and a teacher came once a week to give
them lessons. The Misses Dana were fond of music, and as they thought
the twins showed some talent, they insisted on its cultivation, though
Dick and Dolly looked upon their practice hour as drudgery.

They always practised at the same time, if possible, in order to have
their play hours together. If they had been practising duets, this plan
might have been fairly agreeable to the other members of the household.
But the nine-year-old twins had not yet arrived at the dignity of
“pieces,” and were confined to scales and five-finger exercises.

Their scales usually started on harmonious notes, but Dolly’s little
fingers flew along the keyboard so much faster than Dick’s that she
usually finished her scale on the highest notes, and drummed away there
until his chubby hands came up and caught her.

This, though a satisfactory plan to the performers, was far from
pleasant to the sensitive ears of the Dana aunties.

Again, in case of five-finger exercises, they divided the piano fairly,
and then diligently pursued their “one-and, two-and, three-and” quite
irrespective of each other.

As they were careful not to infringe on one another’s territory, they
saw no objection to this arrangement, and quite in despair, the aunts
would close the doors of the drawing-room, where the musicians were, and
retire to the farthest corners of the house.

There was, of course, great temptation for the twins to neglect their
task, and chatter, but they were too conscientious for this.

Neither would have considered it honourable to remove their hands from
the keys during practice hour. So the little fingers diligently worked
up and down, but the counting often gave way to conversation. Instead of
“one-and,” Dolly might say, in time with her counting, “Don’t
_you_,—think _the_,—poles _will_,—come _to-_,—day, _Dick_?” And Dick
would pound away, as he replied, “Yes, _Pat_,—said _they_,—sure
_would_,—come _to_,—day_-ay_.”

Thus a staccato conversation could be kept up while the twenty stiff
little fingers were acquiring proper limberness and skill.

“It’s enough to drive anybody frantic! I can’t stand it!” said Aunt
Abbie, as one day she listened to the measured chatter, and its
accompaniment of pounded keys that didn’t chord.

“I can’t either!” declared Aunt Rachel, “and I’ve made up my mind,
Abbie, what to do. We’ll get another piano,—a second-hand one will
do,—and put it up in the playroom. Then they can practise separately.”

“Ye-es,” said Miss Abbie, doubtfully; “but they wouldn’t like that. They
always want to be together.”

“Well, they’ll have to stand it. It’s enough to ruin their musical ear,
to hear those discords themselves.”

“That’s true. I suppose your plan is a good one.”

So a second piano was bought, and put up in the playroom, and the twins
had to do their practising separately, except for a few little duet
exercises, which their teacher kindly gave them. And it must be
confessed they made better progress than when they combined practising
and social conversation.

In addition to the hour for music, Dolly was required to spend an hour
every day, sewing.

The Misses Dana believed in that old-fashioned accomplishment, and put
the child through a regular course of overhanding, felling, and hemming,
insisting on great neatness and accuracy of stitches.

This hour caused Dolly a great many sighs, and even a few tears. She
didn’t like needlework, and it was _so_ hard to keep her stitches even
and true.

But the real hardship was that Dick didn’t have to sew also. It didn’t
seem fair that she should work so hard for an hour, while he was free to
play or do what he chose.

She remarked this to Aunt Rachel, who saw the justice of the argument,
and thought it over.

“That’s true, in a way,” she responded. “There isn’t any occupation so
necessary for a boy to learn, as for a girl to learn sewing, but I think
that Dick should have a corresponding task.”

So it was arranged that for an hour every day, Dick must do work in the
garden. Real work, not just fun. He was to weed both his own and Dolly’s
flower-beds, and mow the grass and trim the hedges in their playground,
and water the plants, if necessary; in short, do the drudgery work of
the garden, while Dolly plodded along at her sewing.

This plan worked finely, and sometimes Dick had the playground in such
perfect order that he could put in his hour weeding or mowing the other
parts of the lawn. Aunt Rachel bought a small lawn-mower for his use,
and under Pat’s instructions his hour’s hard work each day taught him
much of the real science of gardening.

When the twins had been at Dana Dene a week, they had as yet made no
acquaintances beside Jack Fuller. This had happened only because the
ladies had not found it convenient to take the children to call
elsewhere, and Dick and Dolly themselves had been so wrapped up in their
gardens and other joys that they had not cared for outside
companionship.

Pat had sent for extra long poles, that their playhouse might be of
goodly size. When these came, and were put in place, the tent-shaped
arbour was about ten feet by twenty, which was amply large for their
purpose. Vines were planted at once, both seeds and cuttings, but of
course it would be several weeks before the leaves would form a green
roof for them.

However, the sun was not unpleasantly warm in May, and by June or July
the leafy roof would be a protection.

In the meantime, Aunt Abbie, who was most ingenious, planned a cosy
arrangement for them. In one corner of their playground, Michael built
them a table. This had a section of a felled tree trunk for an upright,
on which was placed a round top.

From the centre of the table top rose a stout, straight stick, with
leather loops nailed on it at intervals. Into these loops could be
thrust the handle of a very large Japanese umbrella, which, opened, made
a gay and festive-looking roof, and which could be taken into the house
in case of rain.

Benches and rustic chairs Michael made for them, too, and Dick helped,
being allowed to use his “work-hour” for this.

As the playground achieved all these comforts, it became a most
delightful place, and the children spent whole days there.

Sometimes, good-natured Hannah would bring their dinner out there, and
let them eat it under the gay umbrella.

Aunt Abbie gave them a fine garden swing, as she had promised.

This was one of those wooden affairs that will hold four comfortably,
but except for Jack Fuller, none but the twins had yet used it.

Aunt Rachel’s gift proved to be a fountain.

This was quite elaborate, and had to be set up by workmen who came from
town for the purpose. It was very beautiful, and added greatly to the
effect of the playground. When the weather grew warmer they were to have
goldfish in it, but at present there were aquatic plants and pretty
shells and stones.

It was small wonder that the children didn’t feel need of other
companionship, and had it not been for Jack Fuller, Dolly would never
have thought of being lonely.

She and Dick were such good chums that their company was quite
sufficient for each other; but when Jack came over to play, he and Dick
were quite apt to play boyish games that Dolly didn’t care for.

On such occasions she usually brought out her doll-carriage and one or
two of her favourite dolls, and played by herself.

And so, it happened, that one afternoon when Dick and Jack were playing
leap-frog, Dolly wandered off to the wood with Arabella and Araminta in
the perambulator. She never felt lonely in the wood, for there were
always the squirrels and birds, and always a chance that she _might_ see
a fairy.

So, with her dolls, she had company enough, and sitting down by a big
flat rock, she set out a table with acorn cups and leaves for plates,
and tiny pebbles for cakes and fruit.

Arabella and Araminta had already been seated at the table, and Dolly
was talking for them and for herself, as she arranged the feast.

“No, Arabella,” she said; “you can’t have any jelly pudding to-day,
dear, for you are not very well. You must eat bread and milk, and here
it is.”

She set an acorn cup in front of the doll, and then turned to prepare
Araminta’s food, when she saw a little girl coming eagerly toward her.

It was a pretty little girl, about her own age, with dark curls, and a
pink linen frock.

“Hello,” she said, softly, “I want to play with you.”

“Come on,” said Dolly, more than pleased to have company. “Sit right
down at the table. There’s a place. I fixed it for Mr. Grey Squirrel,
but he didn’t come.”

“I didn’t bring my doll,” said the little girl in pink, “I—I came away
in a hurry.”

“I’ll lend you one of mine,” said Dolly. “They’re Arabella and Araminta;
take your choice.”

“What’s your own name?” said the visitor, as she picked up Araminta.

“Dolly,—Dolly Dana. What’s yours?”

“I don’t want to tell you,” said the little girl, looking confused.

“Never mind,” said Dolly, sorry for her guest’s evident embarrassment,
but thinking her a very strange person. “I’ll call you Pinkie, ’cause
your dress is such a pretty pink.”

“All right,” said Pinkie, evidently much relieved.

“You’re not—you’re not a fairy, are you?” said Dolly, hopefully, yet
sure she wasn’t one.

“Oh, no,” said Pinkie, laughing. “I’m just a little girl, but I—I ran
away, and so I don’t want to tell you my name.”

“Oh, I don’t care,” said Dolly, who was always willing to accept a
situation. “Never mind about that. Let’s play house.”

“Yes; let’s. You keep this place, ’cause you’ve fixed your table so
nice, and I’ll live over here.”

Pinkie selected another choice spot for her home, and soon the two
families were on visiting terms.

Dolly and her daughter, Arabella, went to call on Pinkie and her
daughter, Araminta, and as they had already selected the names of Mrs.
Vandeleur and Mrs. Constantine, their own names didn’t matter anyway.

Dolly was Mrs. Vandeleur, because she thought that title had a very
grand sound, and Pinkie chose Mrs. Constantine because she had just come
to that name in her “Outlines of the World’s History,” and thought it
was beautiful.

So Mrs. Vandeleur rang the bell at Mrs. Constantine’s mansion, and sent
in two green leaves, which were supposed to be the visiting cards of
herself and her daughter.

“Come in, come in,” said Mrs. Constantine, in a high-pitched voice. “I’m
so glad to see you. Won’t you sit down?”

Dolly sat down very elegantly on the root of a tree, and propped
Arabella against another.

“I’m just going to have supper,” said the hostess, “and I hope you and
your daughter will give me the pleasure of your company.”

“Thank you. I will stay, but I must go ’way right after dessert. I have
an engagement with—with the fairies.”

“Oh, how lovely! Are you going to see them dance?”

“Yes,” said Dolly, greatly pleased to learn that Pinkie believed in
fairies; “they sent me a special invitation.”

“I’ll go with you,” said Mrs. Constantine, promptly. “I’m always invited
to their dances.”

So again the acorn cups and leaves came into use, and the four drank
unlimited cups of tea, and ate all sorts of things, Arabella having
apparently recovered from her indisposition.

“Now, we’ll go to the fairies’ ball,” said Pinkie, as with a sweep of
her hand she cleared the table of dishes and viands and all. “What shall
we wear?”

“I’ll wear red velvet,” said Dolly, whose tastes were gay, “and a wide
light-blue sash, and gold slippers.”

“You’ll look lovely,” declared Mrs. Constantine. “I’ll wear spangled
blue satin, and a diamond crown.”

“Then I’ll have a diamond crown, too,” said Dolly.

“No; you have a ruby one. We don’t want to be just alike.”

“Yes, I’ll have a ruby one, and my daughter can have a diamond one, and
your daughter a ruby one,—then we’ll be fair all around.”

“Yes, that’s fair,” agreed Pinkie; “now let’s start.”

They carried the dolls with them, and going a little farther into the
wood, they selected a smooth, mossy place where fairies might easily
dance if they chose.

“We must fix it up for them,” said Pinkie; “so they’ll want to come.”

Eagerly the two girls went to work. They picked up any bits of stick or
stone that disfigured the moss, and then, at Pinkie’s direction, they
made a circular border of green leaves, and what few wild flowers they
could find.

A row of stones was laid as an outside border, and a branch of green was
stuck upright in the centre.

“Now it looks pretty,” said Pinkie, with a nod of satisfaction. “Let’s
sit down and wait.”

“Will they _really_ come?” asked Dolly, as with Araminta and Arabella
they seated themselves near by.

“Oh, no, I s’pose not,” said Pinkie, with a little sigh. “I’ve done this
thing so many times, and they never _have_ come. But it’s fun to do it,
and then I always think perhaps they _may_.”

But they waited what seemed a long time, and as no fairies came to
dance, and the shadows began to grow deeper, Dolly said she must go
home.

“Yes, I must too,” said Pinkie, looking troubled.

“See here, Dolly,” she said, as they walked along; “don’t you want to
come here and play with me again?”

“’Course I do,” exclaimed Dolly. “Every day.”

“Well, you can’t do it, unless you keep it secret. You mustn’t tell
anybody,—not anybody in the world.”

“Not even Dick and the aunties?”

“No, not anybody. If you tell, we can’t play here.”

“Pinkie, _are_ you a fairy, after all?” said Dolly, looking at her
earnestly.

She was quite unable, otherwise, to think of any reason to keep their
acquaintance secret.

“Well—maybe I am,” said Pinkie, slowly.

“And that’s why you haven’t any name!” exclaimed Dolly, rapturously.
“But I didn’t s’pose real fairies were so big, and so ’zactly like
little girls.”

“Real fairies aren’t. I’m just a—just a sort of a fairy. Oh, Dolly,
don’t ask questions. Only, remember, if you tell anybody about me, we
can’t play here in the woods any more. Will you promise?”

“Yes, I’ll promise,” said Dolly, solemnly, awed by Pinkie’s great
earnestness.

And then they separated, and Dolly ran home with her dolls.



                              CHAPTER VIII


                                A SECRET


Dolly was very quiet after she reached home. She was greatly puzzled
at the events of the afternoon.

“Of course,” she thought, “Pinkie _couldn’t_ be a fairy. She is just as
much a live little girl as I am. And yet, why should any nice little
girl,—and she surely is a very nice little girl,—want our acquaintance
kept secret?”

Dolly remembered a little girl in Chicago, who loved to have “secrets,”
but they were very simple affairs, usually a new slate pencil, or a
coming birthday party. She had never heard of such a foolish secret as
not telling your name!

And so, the thought _would_ come back; what if Pinkie should be a real
fairy? To be sure, she had always thought fairies were tiny folk, but
she had never seen one, so how could she know?

And Pinkie was so well versed in making a fairies’ dancing ground, and
she appeared so mysteriously,—apparently from nowhere at all! Oh, if it
should be! And then, that would explain the secret part of it,—for
fairies always want to be kept secret. But on the other hand, that pink
kilted dress of starched linen! Fairies always wore gauzy robes, and
carried wands, and had wings. Well, yes, that was the popular notion,
but who had seen them, to know for sure?

These thoughts chased through Dolly’s mind as she sat at the supper
table, and Aunt Rachel soon noticed the child’s absorption.

“What’s the matter, dearie?” she asked; “aren’t you well?”

“Oh, yes, Auntie; I—I was just thinking.”

“I know what’s the matter with Dollums,” said Dick, a little
shamefacedly. “It’s ’cause Jack Fuller and I played leap-frog and things
she didn’t like, and so she went off by herself, and was lonesome. I’m
sorry, Dolly.”

“Why, Dick Dana!” exclaimed his twin; “it wasn’t that a bit! I’m glad
you had fun with Jack, and I didn’t care a spick-speck! I had a lovely
time myself.”

“Where were you, dear?” asked Aunt Abbie.

“In the wood, with my two big dolls,” said Dolly, truthfully, but she
had a strange feeling of dishonesty.

She had never had a secret before; had never told anything except the
_whole_ truth; and the _part_ truth, as she had told it now, troubled
her conscience.

Yet she had promised Pinkie not to tell about her, so whether Pinkie was
fairy or little girl, Dolly felt herself bound by her promise.

“Auntie,” she said, after a pause, “are there really fairies?”

“No, child, of course not. You know there aren’t.”

“Yes, I s’pose so. But if there were any, how big would they be?”

“Don’t ask silly questions, Dolly. There are no such beings as fairies.”

“Oh, I don’t know, Aunt Rachel,” put in Dick. “You know, just because
we’ve never seen any,—that doesn’t prove there aren’t any.”

“But how big would they be, Dick?” persisted Dolly.

“Oh, little bits of things. A dozen of them could dance on a toad-stool,
I expect.”

That settled it in Dolly’s mind. Of course Pinkie wasn’t a fairy then,
for what Dick said was always so.

But Aunt Abbie changed the situation. She had more imagination than Aunt
Rachel, and she idly fell into the discussion.

“I’m not sure of that, Dick,” she said. “I always imagine fairies to be
about our own size. You know Cinderella’s fairy godmother was a grown-up
lady.”

“Oh,” said Dolly, her eyes shining with interest. “Then do you think,
Aunt Abbie, that there could be a little girl fairy, about as big as
me?”

“Why, yes, I suppose so; if there are fairies at all. But I’m not sure
that there are.”

“Would you believe it if you saw one?”

“Yes, if I were awake, and sure I was not dreaming.”

Dolly stared at Aunt Abbie, as if fascinated by her words. Then Pinkie
_might_ be a fairy, after all!

“You’re a queer child, Dolly,” said Aunt Rachel, looking at the little
girl’s perplexed face. “And when you find your fairies, don’t bring them
in the house, for there’s no knowing what tricks they may cut up.
They’re said to be mischievous little people.”

“Of course they’re little,” argued Dick. “I think you’re mistaken about
Cinderella’s godmother, Aunt Abbie. I think she was a little mite of a
lady.”

“Perhaps so, Dicky. I’m not much of an authority on fairy lore, I’ll
admit.”

And then, somehow, the matter was dropped, and nothing more was said
about fairies or their probable size.

But a little later, when the twins were alone in their playroom, Dolly
reopened the subject.

“Dick,” she began, “why do you think fairies must be little?”

“Dolly, what’s the matter with you and your fairies? Why are you
bothering so much about ’em all of a sudden?”

“Oh, nothing; I just want to know.”

“It isn’t nothing! Have you been seeing fairies, or what? You’ve got to
tell me all about it.”

“I can’t, Dick.”

“You can’t? Why not, I’d like to know! We never have secrets from each
other. You know we don’t.”

“But I can’t tell you about this. I promised.”

“Well, unpromise then! Who’d you promise?”

“I can’t tell you that either.”

“Look here, Dolly Dana, who could you promise not to tell me anything?
Was it Pat or Michael?”

“No.”

“Then who was it?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“Pooh, what a silly! Why, Dolly, we’re twins,—we always have to tell
each other everything.”

“I know it, Dick, and I want to tell you, awful, but you know yourself
it’s wrong to break a promise.”

“Well, you might tell me who you promised it to.”

“That’s part of the secret.”

“Oho, it _is_ a secret, is it? Well, Dolly Dana, if you’ve got a secret
from _me_, you can keep it,—_I_ don’t care!”

This was too much for Dolly’s loyal little twin-heart.

“I don’t want to keep it, Dick; I want to tell you! But I promised her I
wouldn’t, so what can I do?”

“Get her to let you off your promise. I s’pose it’s Hannah or Delia.”

“Maybe I can do that,” and Dolly’s face looked a little brighter.

“Well, do; and don’t talk any more about it, till you can tell me all of
it, whatever it is. Dolly, it isn’t anything wrong, is it?”

“No; I don’t see how it can be wrong.”

“Then let up on it, till you’re ready to talk square. _I_ never had a
secret from _you_.”

“I know it; and I’ll never have one from you again!”

So peace was restored, and Dolly said no more about fairies. But after
she was tucked up in her own little white bed that night, she lay awake
in the darkness for a long time, trying to puzzle it all out. One minute
it would seem too absurd to think a little girl was a fairy; the next
minute, it would seem just as absurd for a little girl to appear in the
woods like that, and refuse to tell her name, and insist that their
acquaintance be kept a secret! _That_ was exactly what a fairy would do!

So, after reasoning round and round in a circle, Dolly fell asleep, and
dreamed that she was a fairy herself, with a pink linen dress, and a
pair of wings and a golden wand.

The next afternoon Jack Fuller was again at Dana Dene to play with Dick,
and again Dolly trotted off to the woods. She found Pinkie sitting on a
flat stone, waiting for her. The same pink linen frock, the same straw
hat, with pink rosettes on it, and the same sweet-faced, curly-haired
Pinkie. Dolly was _so_ glad to see her, and fairy or mortal, she already
loved her better than any little girl she had ever known.

But Pinkie was not so gay and merry as yesterday. She looked troubled,
and Dolly’s sensitive little heart knew it at once.

“Come on,” she said, taking hold of Pinkie’s hand; “let’s play.”

“All right,” said Pinkie, “I’ve brought my own dolls, this time.”

And sure enough, there were two dolls as big and beautiful as Arabella
and Araminta. Pinkie said her dolls’ names were Baby Belle and Baby
Bess, and, as it seemed the most natural thing to do, they began to play
tea-party at once.

But Dolly wanted, first, to settle the matter of the secret.

“Pinkie,” she said, “you’re a really, truly little girl, aren’t you?”

“’Course I am,” said Pinkie, smiling. “I just said I was a fairy for
fun.”

“Yes; I know it. But I want you to let me tell about you at home. It’s
silly to make a secret of it.”

“Well, tell ’em, I don’t care. I’m not coming here to play any more,
anyway.”

Now Dolly looked dismayed. “Why not?” she asked, and went on without
waiting for an answer. “I won’t tell my aunts, if you don’t want me to,
but I must tell my brother Dick. He’s my twin, and we never have secrets
from each other. Why, here he comes now!”

Running toward them across the field, they saw the two boys.

“Is that your brother with Jack Fuller?” asked Pinkie, and with this
recognition of Jack, Dolly’s last faint hope that Pinkie _might_ be a
fairy, vanished.

“Yes; I wonder what they want.”

The boys had really come in search of Dolly.

Dick had felt himself rather selfish to play with Jack, while Dolly had
only her dolls for company, so he had proposed that they go and find
her, and then all play together some games that she would like. Jack had
agreed willingly enough, so they made for the woods, whither Dick had
seen Dolly go, wheeling her two big dolls.

“Hello, Phyllis Middleton,” cried Jack, as he spied Pinkie. “What are
you doing here?”

The secret was out!

Dolly felt a blank pall of despair fall over her heart. Pinkie, then,
was Phyllis Middleton, the daughter of the Middletons whom Aunt Rachel
detested, and would have no dealings with! Indeed, Dolly had been
forbidden to speak to any of the Middletons. And then, as Dolly’s
thoughts flew rapidly on, she realised that Pinkie had known all this,
and that was why she said if Dolly knew her name they couldn’t play
together any more!

Poor Dolly! Not only to lose her new-made friend, but to learn that the
friend was really a naughty little girl, who had deliberately done
wrong.

“Hello, Jack!” said Phyllis. “I know I ought not to come here, and I’m
not coming again.”

“Well,” said Dick, throwing himself down on the ground; “is this your
secret, Dollums?”

“Yes,” said Dolly, almost ready to cry. “This is my Pinkie, and I love
her, and now she’s the little girl Aunt Rachel said we couldn’t play
with.”

“Why not?” cried Dick, who had forgotten the Middleton ban.

Phyllis took up the story.

“I don’t know the beginning of it,” she said; “but my mother, and Miss
Rachel Dana don’t like each other, and won’t go to each other’s houses.
And when I heard a little girl had come here to live, I wanted to come
over, but mother wouldn’t let me.”

“And Aunt Rachel forbade me to go to your house, too,” put in Dolly. “I
think it’s awful for grown-up ladies to get mad like that.”

“They’ve been mad for lots of years,” said Jack Fuller. “I’ve heard my
mother talk about it to the other ladies. They call it the
Dana-Middleton feud.”

“What was it about?” asked Dick.

“Nobody knows,” replied Jack. “At least, none of us children. Of course,
when there weren’t any children at the Dana house, we didn’t care
anything about it; but now, it’s pretty if you two can’t play with the
Middletons! Why, they go to our parties and our school and our Sunday
school, and our picnics and everything! I guess Miss Dana and Mrs.
Middleton’ll have to make up now.”

“They won’t,” said Phyllis, mournfully. “I heard mother and father
talking about it. And they said I mustn’t come over here, or speak to
Dolly or anything. And then, yesterday, I did come over here to the
wood,—it’s right next to our last orchard,—and Dolly and I had such
fun, I thought I’d come every day, and not tell anybody. But after I
went to bed last night, I thought about it, and I know it’s wrong; so
I’m not going to do it any more. I just came to-day to tell Dolly so.
And after I go home, I’m going to confess to mother about it.”

Phyllis’s eyes were full of tears, and as she finished speaking, and
Dolly’s arms went round her, both girls cried in their mutual
affliction.

The boys were highly indignant at the whole situation.

“It’s a shame!” cried Dick. “If Aunt Rachel wants to be mad at Mrs.
Middleton, let her; but I don’t see why they shouldn’t let Phyllis and
Dolly be friends. Have you got any brothers, Phyllis?”

“Only a little one, six years old,” was the reply. “There’s just the two
of us.”

“And you live just next house to us,” went on Dick. “You and Dolly could
have lovely times together. I’m going to ask Aunt Rachel myself if you
two can’t be friends.”

“It wouldn’t do any good,” said Phyllis, wiping her eyes. “She wouldn’t
give in, and, even if she did, my mother wouldn’t.”

“Well, I’m going to try it, anyway,” stoutly persisted Dick. “It can’t
do any harm, and if Aunt Rachel _should_ give in, she might persuade
your mother, you know.”

Phyllis looked a little hopeful at this, but Dolly said:

“Aunt Rachel won’t let me play with you; I know it. She has said so a
dozen times, and she’s awful stubborn. But I’m glad you told, Pinkie,
’cause it wouldn’t have been right for us to play together and not
tell.”

“No, I know it,” agreed Phyllis. “I would have told you yesterday, only
it was so funny when you thought I was a fairy! I thought I’d pretend I
was one, and that would take away the wrong. But it didn’t, and when I
thought all about it, I knew we couldn’t keep on that way.”

The Dana twins were conscientious children, and they were both glad when
Phyllis talked like this; for it had been a shock to Dolly to discover
Pinkie’s deceit, and she felt relieved to learn that it was only
impulsive and quickly repented of. But this didn’t alter the sad fact
that the two little girls could not be playmates.

“It’s just horrid!” said Dolly, her tears welling up afresh. “We could
have such lovely times together! Playing dolls, and tea-parties, and
everything. I think Aunt Rachel is mean!”

“I think so, too,” said Jack Fuller, “and I do believe you could coax
her into letting you two girls play together, even if the grown-up
ladies don’t make up.”

“Maybe we could,” said Dick, hopefully, but Phyllis shook her head.

“Mother wouldn’t, even if Miss Dana did,” she repeated. “I was a naughty
girl to come here at all. I wish I hadn’t; then I wouldn’t have known
how nice Dolly was.”

Again the little girls wept, and the boys looked at them helplessly.

“Well, anyway,” said Dick, at last, “I’m going home to have a try at it.
I’m going straight to Aunt Rachel and tell her all about it. It may make
a difference, now that you girls really have met.”

“All right,” said Phyllis, but she showed no hope of Dick’s success.

“I say,” exclaimed Jack, “let’s all go! I mean, let’s take Phyllis, and
all go to Miss Rachel and ask her about it. If she sees the two girls
crying to beat the band, it may soften her some.”

It seemed a daring proposition, but the twins approved of it.

“Oh, do,” cried Dolly, eagerly. “Come on, Pinkie, let’s go right now.”

“I can’t,” said Pinkie, firmly. “Mother told me never to go to Miss
Dana’s house for anything at all.”

No amount of coaxing would prevail, and matters seemed at a deadlock,
until Dick exclaimed:

“Then you stay here, and I’ll go get Auntie Rachel and make her come out
here right now.”

“It won’t do any good,” moaned Phyllis.

“I know, about your mother. But maybe, if Miss Rachel gives in first,
she can persuade your mother.”

“Maybe,” said Phyllis, worn out with the conflict. “Go on if you want
to.”

And Dick went.



                               CHAPTER IX


                                PHYLLIS


“Aunt Rachel,” said Dick, marching to the library, “will you do
something for me?”

“Probably I will, my boy. What is it?”

“I want you to come and take a walk with me.”

“But it’s nearly supper-time, Dicky; quite time for you to go and brush
your hair, and put on a fresh collar. Where’s Dolly?”

“Oh, Aunt Rachel, please come,—it’s very important!”

Noticing the serious expression on Dick’s earnest little face, Aunt
Rachel became frightened.

“What is the matter, Dick?” she exclaimed. “Has anything happened to
Dolly? Has she hurt herself?”

“No; she hasn’t hurt herself; but come, please, Aunt Rachel,—do!”

Throwing a light shawl round her, Miss Rachel went with Dick, quite sure
that some accident had befallen Dolly. It was quite a little walk to the
woods, and Dick began to wonder whether Phyllis would have waited, or
whether she would have become scared and gone home. She seemed like a
timid little thing, and Dick well knew that Miss Rachel’s anger was a
formidable thing to brave. He felt far from calm himself.

“Where are you taking me?” said Aunt Rachel, as they crossed the
orchard.

“To the woods,” replied Dick, briefly; “Dolly is there.”

And Aunt Rachel said no more, but walked rapidly along by Dick’s side,
her mind full of horrible imaginings of Dolly, perhaps fallen from a
tree, or in some other dreadful plight. When she reached the wood she
saw the two little girls, seated on the flat stone, their arms about
each other, and their faces red and tear-stained. Indeed, the big tears
even now rolled down Dolly’s cheeks, as she saw the stern expression
that came over Aunt Rachel’s face.

“Phyllis Middleton!” exclaimed the angry-looking lady; “what does this
mean? You know you are forbidden to step foot on my property!”

“Yes’m,” began Phyllis, timidly, but Dick took the helm.

“Aunt Rachel,” he said, “I asked you to come out here, ’cause Phyllis
wouldn’t go to the house. And I want to ask you to let her be Dolly’s
friend; they love each other a heap.”

Then Aunt Rachel’s wrath was turned toward her niece.

“Dolly,” she said, severely, “you know I positively forbade you to speak
to Phyllis Middleton.”

“Yes, Auntie; b-but I didn’t know it was Phyllis, when I first spoke to
her.”

“Well, you know it now. Come away from her at once. Phyllis, go straight
home, and don’t ever dare come here again.”

The case was hopeless.

Phyllis withdrew herself from Dolly’s embrace, and rose to go away.

Jack Fuller stood by, unable to help, and very nearly crying himself in
sympathy with the two forlorn little girls.

Aunt Rachel, in her surprise and indignation, had seated herself on the
edge of a big stone, opposite Dolly and Phyllis, and sat with frowning
face, waiting for the unwelcome visitor to depart.

In her extremity of despair, Dolly had an inspiration. With a cry of,
“Oh, _please_, Auntie Rachel!” she sprang at her aunt, and threw her
arms around the neck of the irate lady. She squeezed her until she
nearly choked her; she showered kisses on her face and neck; she
whispered in her ear, “Please, dear Auntie, oh, _please_ let me have her
for my little friend; I love her so! _Please_, Auntie!”

Dick, anxiously watching Miss Rachel’s face, saw a change. Not only did
it become warm and red from the strangling hugs she was undergoing, but
he felt sure there was a relenting expression in her eyes.

Partly out of gratitude for this, and partly from a desire to further
Dolly’s cause, he too rushed at his aunt, and added his affectionate
demonstrations to those of his sister. His arms somehow found room, too,
round her neck, and he industriously kissed the other side of her face,
while he cried, “_Please_, Auntie Rachel, even if you don’t like the
Middletons, please let Phyllis and Dolly be friends! _Please_, Auntie!”

So cyclonic was the beginning of this performance, and so vigorous its
continuance, that Miss Rachel was soon on the verge of physical
collapse, and wildly waved her hands, in a futile endeavour to shake off
the besiegers.

Phyllis and Jack were appalled at the scene, and were almost uncertain
whether the attack was really affectionate or of a hostile nature.

“For gracious’ sake, Dolly, _do_ stop!” cried Miss Rachel, at last, as
her glasses flew off, and her carefully arranged coiffure became a
wreck. “Dick, let go of me!”

“Yes, Auntie,” he said, kneeling at one side, and possessing himself of
one of her hands, while Dolly did the same with the other; “but, Auntie,
do say yes, won’t you?”

“Won’t you, Auntie?” echoed Dolly; “won’t you, Auntie? Please, dear
Auntie Rachel, won’t you? _Please!_”

The words, repeated so often, seemed to become meaningless, but not so
the beseeching expression on the two upturned, pleading little faces.

Aunt Rachel looked at them,—Dick’s eager hopeful gaze; Dolly’s tearful,
despairing eyes,—and her hard heart melted.

[Illustration: IN THE GARDEN       (Page 82)]

She put an arm round each of the quivering little bodies, and said
softly:

“Wait a minute, dears, let me think it over.”

If Miss Rachel needed further incentive, the joy that flashed into the
twins’ faces must have given it to her, for she went on almost
immediately:

“You cannot understand the grown-up part of this; you cannot be told
about why Mrs. Middleton and I are not on friendly terms; but this I
will grant. If Phyllis’s mother will let her be Dolly’s friend, I shall
be glad to have it so. If Phyllis is allowed to come to Dana Dene, Dolly
may also visit her and you may play together all you like. There is
really no reason why you children should suffer for the sake of your
elders, and I see that clearly now. Come here, Phyllis.”

Phyllis rose and went to Miss Rachel, who looked her over with evident
interest.

“You are a nice child,” she said, at last, with a nod of approval. “I
shall be glad to have you become Dolly’s friend. Do you think your
mother will object?”

“I know she will, Miss Dana,” said Phyllis, sadly; “I am sure she won’t
let me go to Dana Dene.”

“Then I shall go to see her, myself, and I fancy I can persuade her.”

Miss Rachel said this with a majestic air, yet with a grim smile, and
the children felt that though they certainly did not understand the
“grown-up part of it,” yet their cause was won, and Dolly and Phyllis
would be permitted to play together to their hearts’ content.

“Thank you, Miss Rachel,” said Phyllis, timidly taking her hand, and
feeling that she ought to show her gratitude by some demonstration,
after the example set her by the twins.

Miss Rachel kissed her gently on the forehead, and then put her hand in
Dolly’s; bidding the two little girls seal their friendship with a kiss,
and then say good-bye until to-morrow.

“Scamper home, across the orchard, Phyllis,” she went on, “and tell your
mother all about it, if you choose; and say I shall call on her this
evening.”

Jack went with Phyllis, as that was the way toward his own home, and the
three Danas went back to the house.

“Oh, Auntie, you are so good,” said Dolly, as, with her arm round her
aunt’s waist, she walked by her side. “It was lovely of you to give up
your favourite feud for me!”

Miss Rachel smiled at Dolly’s choice of words, but she only said:

“It is right, dearie. It would be very foolish to keep you two little
girls apart because of what happened to your ancestors, twenty years
ago.”

“Yes’m; and are you going to keep on feuding with Mrs. Middleton?”

“I don’t know yet,” said Miss Rachel, smiling again; “if I do, it will
be because she insists upon it. But I feel sure I can persuade her to
feel as I do, about you children.”

“You’re a brick, Auntie,” declared Dick, who walked at her other side.
“I was ’most sure you’d cave in when you saw how the girls felt about
it.”

“It was really the way you two felt about it, that persuaded me; indeed,
if I hadn’t ‘caved in,’ as you call it, I think you would have squeezed
me to pieces.”

“Yes, we’re good coaxers,” said Dick, modestly. “We used to coax Auntie
Helen that way; but she always got to laughing.”

“It wasn’t a humorous occasion, to-day,” said Aunt Rachel, and then they
all went in to supper.

Aunt Abbie, who was wondering what had become of them, was then told the
whole story, which greatly interested her.

“And now,” said Dolly, as everything had been explained, “you see why I
was asking about fairies last night. I didn’t really think Phyllis was a
fairy, but she came so—so unexpected, you know, and she wouldn’t tell
me her name, and she told me to keep it all a secret.”

“I think that part of it was a little naughty,” said Aunt Abbie,
judicially.

“Yes’m,” agreed Dolly. “But you see she ’pented, and to-day she came to
tell me that she had ’cided it _was_ naughty, and she wasn’t coming any
more. So that took away the naughtiness, didn’t it, Auntie Rachel?”

“Yes, I think it did, dearie. I feel sure Phyllis is a conscientious
little girl, and will be a good friend for you in every way.”

“But I’ll always call her Pinkie,” said Dolly; “’cause I called her that
at first, and Phyllis is such a grown-up name. Will you go over and see
about it right away, Auntie?”

“After a while, Dolly. But I shall not return until after you’ve gone to
bed, so don’t think any more about it till morning.”

Aunt Rachel spoke calmly, but the children little knew what it meant to
her to subdue her pride and make the advance toward a truce with Mrs.
Middleton. Their quarrel, though it had occurred many years ago, was as
bitter as ever, and reconciliation seemed impossible. Neither had ever
been willing to suggest such a thing, and though kind-hearted friends
had tried to bring it about, their efforts had met with no success. Miss
Abbie was, of course, amazed at the way things were going, but her offer
to accompany her sister was met with a gentle but decided refusal.

And so, nobody ever knew what passed between the two neighbours that
evening. Whatever way she humiliated herself, or whatever arguments she
used, Miss Rachel never told; but, at least, her main errand was
successful, and Mrs. Middleton agreed to let Phyllis and Dolly play
together all they liked, and visit at each other’s homes whenever they
chose.

As for the two ladies themselves, they didn’t at once forgive and forget
all of their long-standing unpleasantness, but they agreed to be, at
least, calling acquaintances, for the children’s sake; and I may as well
say here that eventually the breach was healed, and by degrees they
became really friendly neighbours.

Dolly was too excited and anxious to sleep, so when she heard Miss
Rachel come in, though it was late, she sprang out of bed, and throwing
a blue kimono over her little frilled nightgown, she ran out into the
hall, and called down over the banisters:

“Is it all right, Auntie Rachel? Is it all right?”

“Yes, it’s all right, Dolly. Go back to bed, you’ll catch cold.”

By this time, Dick had bounced out of his room. A bath-robe was round
him, over his pink-striped pajamas, and as he heard Aunt Rachel’s
assurance that their cause was won, he whispered to Dolly, “Let’s go
down and hug her!”

“Let’s!” replied Dolly, and the two bare-footed, dressing-gowned little
figures flew downstairs and precipitated themselves upon the already
exhausted lady.

“Don’t, children!” cried Aunt Abbie, as Miss Rachel was almost lost to
sight in clouds of eider-down flannel, and four eager, waving arms.
“Don’t! you’ll wear Auntie Rachel out, she’s almost collapsed now.”

“No, Abbie; let them be. I like it,” gasped Aunt Rachel, from behind two
curly heads that seemed to be devouring her.

So Aunt Abbie only laughed, inwardly rejoicing that the children had
brought about an amicable adjustment of the old quarrel, and glad, too,
that her reserved and undemonstrative sister enjoyed the wild antics of
the two little savages.

“Auntie Abbie next!” shouted Dick, gleefully, and Aunt Rachel received a
respite, as the twins’ attentions were showered upon their other aunt.

But she wouldn’t stand quite so much.

“Be off with you!” she cried. “You’re worse than a pair of little
bear-cubs!”

“We are bear-cubs,” cried Dick, enchanted with the suggestion. Then he
growled, and pawed and clawed at Aunt Abbie, winding up with a hug that
nearly cracked her bones.

Dolly, always ready to take her cue, was also a bear-cub, and between
them they made Aunt Abbie’s life miserable for a few minutes.

“Scamper now!” she cried, as she emerged, laughing, from the latest
onslaught. “Run to bed, both of you. I’ve had enough of this!”

So, with final pats and kisses all round, the twins went upstairs, and
were soon snugly in bed once more.

Dolly thought she should never go to sleep, she was so happy in the
thoughts of her new friend.

Dear Pinkie! She was so pretty and sweet, and Dolly smiled to herself at
thought of all the fun they could have playing together. They would
always be friends, even after they grew up to be young ladies, and they
would never have a foolish quarrel, as Pinkie’s mother and Auntie Rachel
had had. And so, fairly revelling in happy anticipations, Dolly fell
asleep.

Downstairs, the two sisters talked long and earnestly.

“It’s a blessing those two children ever came here,” said Miss Abbie, at
last.

“It is a blessing in some ways,” said Miss Rachel, “but they’re going to
be a terrible responsibility. Such overflowing spirits I never saw! They
can’t be still a second. And we must stop these fearful tornadoes of
affection!”

“Oh, I thought you enjoyed them!”

“I do enjoy their hearty demonstrations and endearments. They’re so real
and spontaneous. But we must curb them, for it isn’t good for the
children to be allowed such savagery. For it is savagery.”

“It is, indeed!” agreed Aunt Abbie, ruefully. “My arm’s lame yet, from
their squeezing.”

“Well, we’ll correct them. But I don’t want to be too harsh, poor little
motherless things.”

“Yes, and fatherless, too. We must be very good to them, Rachel, but it
isn’t true kindness to be too indulgent, you know.”

“No, of course not. We must be firm, yet gentle.”

And so the two ladies discussed the management of the twins, not
realising at all, that on the contrary, the twins were managing them!
For though good and obedient children, Dick and Dolly generally
succeeded in getting their own sweet way, as witness the case of Phyllis
Middleton.



                               CHAPTER X


                            AN AUCTION SALE


Life at Dana Dene settled down into a pleasant routine that was in no
sense monotony. Every day the sewing and the practising and the
gardening had their appointed hours. But this left hours and hours of
play-time, and the twins improved them all.

Phyllis and Dolly were very chummy little companions, and scarcely a day
passed without their seeing each other.

Dick and Jack Fuller were chums too, and though the twins became
acquainted with many of the other children in Heatherton, they liked
these earliest made friends best of all.

Often they went to town, for Dana Dene was about a mile out from the
village itself. Sometimes they drove in state with the aunties, or
perhaps less formally, on morning errands. Sometimes they rode on the
big spring wagon with Pat or Michael, and sometimes on pleasant days,
they walked.

One delightful afternoon, the aunties had gone to sewing society, and
the twins were holding a consultation as to what would be the most fun
for them to do.

“Let’s walk to town and get some soda water,” suggested Dolly.

“All right,” returned Dick; “but we needn’t walk unless we want to.
Michael’s going down with the wagon. But he isn’t ready yet.”

“Well, let’s walk on, and then when he comes along we can get in, if we
want to.”

“Yes, and we can ride home, anyway.”

So after arranging with Michael to look out for them on the way, Dick
and Dolly started off. They loved to walk to town, for there was so much
of interest along the way. The first part, more or less wooded, showed
various enticing spots to sit down and rest a while.

Squirrels were apt to come round and be sociable, or birds would sing
little songs of greeting from the branches. There were always new
wild-flowers, and just now the wild roses were opening, and daisies were
in bloom.

And, if they were very cautious, there was always a chance of seeing
fairies.

Now that Pinkie was understood, Dolly returned to her original idea of
fairies,—tiny, fragile beings, with wings and wands.

Dick had some doubts as to their existence, but was always on the alert
to catch sight of them in the woods.

Then, after the woodsy part was passed, came the beginnings of the
streets, with houses few and far apart; and then the bridge,—always a
fine place to linger,—and then houses closer together, many of which
were good stopping-places, and finally the business portion of the
little town itself.

Here were fascinating shops, with windows delightfully full of tempting
wares, also a caterer’s shop, where one could choose between cakes and
ice cream, or candy and soda water.

The twins were allowed fifty cents apiece each week for spending money.
With this, they could do exactly as they chose, with the stipulation
that not more than ten cents in one day should be spent for edibles. As
they conscientiously obeyed this rule, the aunts felt sure they could
not seriously harm their digestion. And, besides, they did not buy
sweets every time they went to town. Sometimes it was marbles or tops or
ribbons for dolls.

On this particular occasion the twins felt specially rich, for they each
had an untouched half dollar just given them by Aunt Rachel, and they
had also a goodly portion of the previous week’s income still unspent.
Not that they expected necessarily to spend it, but it seemed pleasant
to have their fund with them, and if they should see anything very
desirable they might purchase it.

So they trudged along, with open minds, ready to accommodate anything
that offered in the way of interest or pleasure.

As they reached the main street they saw a great crowd of people in
front of one of the shops, and wondered what the reason might be. Coming
nearer, they saw a red flag waving over the door, and Dick exclaimed:

“Why, it’s an auction! I never saw one before; come on, Dolly, let’s go
in.”

So in the twins went, and soon became greatly interested in the
proceedings.

They edged through the crowd, until they were quite near the auctioneer,
and then they listened, spellbound, to his discourse. Never having seen
an auction sale before, the manner of conducting it appealed to them,
and they breathlessly watched and listened as one lot after another was
sold to the bidders.

The stock was that of a clothing emporium, and consisted of ready-made
suits for both men and women.

“I’d like to buy something that way,” said Dick to his sister, “but
they’re only grown-ups’ clothes, and anyway, they cost too much. If they
put up anything small I’m going to bid.”

“Maybe they’ll have handkerchiefs or something like that,” suggested
Dolly, eager also to join the game of bidding.

But there were no small articles for sale, nothing but men’s suits and
ladies’ costumes, so Dick and Dolly lost hope of being able to bid for
anything.

They wandered round the place, meeting several people whom they knew,
and who spoke pleasantly to them. But they were all grown-ups,—there
were no children there but the twins, so hand in hand they wandered
about, always drifting back to hear the auctioneer crying out:

“Ten,—ten,—do I hear eleven?” or “Going, going—gone!”

They listened carefully to his phraseology, for they well knew “auction”
would be one of their favourite games in the near future, and Dick
wanted to learn the lingo, so that he could play auctioneer after the
most approved fashion. At last the sale was about over, and the audience
began to go away. Only a few men remained, and the fixtures of the shop
were then put up. Office furniture, show-cases and such things were sold
quickly, and then was put up a lot of wax tailors’ dummies. These wax
figures, both men and women, were so comical that Dick and Dolly laughed
aloud to see them put up for sale. It was almost like selling people.
But the man who bought them didn’t seem to think it funny at all. He bid
them in, like any other merchandise, but he refused to take one of them,
saying it was too badly damaged.

This unfortunate one was a wax-faced lady whose cheek was badly dented
and marred, thus making her undesirable as a window attraction. She was
carelessly set aside, and the twins looked at her with curiosity.

“Dick,” whispered Dolly, “I’d love to have her! She’d be more fun than a
big doll. Do you s’pose we could get her?”

“I dunno. It would be fun! We could rig her up, and set her up in the
playground. How much money have you?”

“Just seventy-seven cents.”

“And I have eighty-six. Let’s ask the man.”

So Dick stepped up to the auctioneer, and said:

“Could you auction up that other wax lady, sir?”

“That one, kid? Why, she’s no good.”

“Not for a shopman, I know, but—if she didn’t cost so much, we’d like
to have her.”

“You would! Well, you’re two pretty nice little children, suppose I give
her to you?”

Dick hesitated. It seemed too great a favour, and beside he wanted the
fun of bidding.

“Well, you see,” he said, “I think we’d rather pay, if it isn’t too
much, because,—you see,—we want to do that calling out.”

“Oho! You want the real auctioneering game, do you? Well, I’ll have her
put up.”

The auctioneer was a jolly, good-natured man, and as his task was about
over, he felt inclined to humour the children.

“Here,” he called to his assistant, “put up that golden-haired goddess.”

Appreciating the situation, the man set the wax dummy upon the platform.

“Here you are!” cried the auctioneer. “What am I bid for this lovely
lady? Though slightly marred in the face, she has a good heart, and is
warranted good-tempered and kind. What am I bid?”

Dick hesitated; now that the time had come he felt suddenly shy, and
felt uncertain how much to offer.

“Ten cents!” came a voice from another part of the room. Then Dick felt
that he was really in the business at last, and he called out sturdily:

“Fifteen!”

“Fifteen,” echoed the auctioneer. “Fifteen! do I hear any more? Only
fifteen cents for this beautiful work of art?”

“Twenty!” called the other voice, and for some reason the auctioneer
scowled.

“Twenty!” he cried; “twenty? Do I hear twenty-five?”

“Twenty-five!” cried Dick, his face all aglow with the excitement of the
moment.

“Twenty-five!” sang out the auctioneer. “Twenty-five! Is there another
bid?”

But the menacing face he turned toward the other bidder must have
silenced him, for he said no more.

“Twenty-five!” went on the auctioneer, quite gaily now. “Twenty-five!
That seems too cheap for this Prize Beauty. Twenty-five! Is that all?”

It _did_ seem too cheap, and Dick suddenly felt that it ought to bring
more. Besides, the auctioneer’s voice was persuasive, and so, still in
the spirit of the game, Dick cried out, “Thirty!”

The auctioneer suddenly choked, and the man in the back of the room
burst into shouts of laughter, but Dick didn’t mind now. With shining
eyes, he awaited the auctioneer’s next move, and seeing this, the
smiling gentleman went on:

“Thirty! Thirty cents for this Darling Dame. She looks like that! Do I
hear any more? Thirty—going—going——”

“Thirty-five!” said Dolly, timidly, but in clear tones.

Dick looked at her admiringly. Dolly _was_ a trump. He was glad she had
a part in the great game too.

“Thirty-five!” called the auctioneer, red in the face, but preserving
his gravity. “Thirty-five!”

“Forty!” cried Dick.

“Forty-five!” said Dolly.

“Fifty!” yelled Dick, smiling at his sister.

“Fifty-five,” she cried, smiling back.

“Stop!” cried the auctioneer, “you two mustn’t bid against each other!”

“Why not?” asked Dick. “We have the money. We’ve more ’n a dollar ’n’ a
half, together.”

“Yes, but one of you can buy this thing if you really want it. So stop
bidding, and take it for fifty cents.”

“All right,” agreed Dick, “we’ll each pay twenty-five.”

This plan suited Dolly, and the money was paid at once.

“You have to take your goods with you, you know,” said the auctioneer,
not unkindly, as he watched the two delighted children.

“Yes, we will,” said Dolly. “Michael’s outside somewhere, with the big
wagon. He’ll take us all home.”

“You stay here with the lady, Dolly,” said Dick, “and I’ll run out and
hunt Michael.”

“Go on,” said the auctioneer, “I’ll look after Miss Dolly and her new
friend both.”

The auctioneer had children of his own, and was greatly interested in
his two young customers.

“What do you want of this affair?” he asked Dolly, after Dick had gone.

“To play with,” she returned. “I know we can dress her up and have lots
of fun with her.”

“Perhaps I can find you some clothes for her here,” he offered; “she
ought to have a hat and shawl.”

“Oh, never mind,” said Dolly, easily; “we’ll take her home, and I think
Aunt Rachel’s clothes will fit her. If not, we’ll try Hannah’s.”

The wax lady was simply robed in a drab muslin slip, whose plainness
contrasted strangely with the bright pink of her complexion, the large
mop of yellow hair, and the waxen forearms—except for her head, neck,
and forearms the lady was a sort of wire frame, more or less bent.

But Dolly saw wondrous possibilities, and cared not at all that her
ladyship was so imperfectly arrayed at present.

Dick soon returned, and announced that Michael was outside in the wagon.

The auctioneer’s obliging assistant carried the wax lady to the door,
and then the twins took it.

“The saints preserve us!” cried Michael; “whativer have ye rascally
babies been up to now?”

“We’ve bought a lady, Michael,” explained Dolly, “and we want to take
her home.”

“Well, if so be as she’s your lady, home with us she must go.”

Michael climbed down from his seat, and assisted the “lady” into the
wagon.

“It’s lyin’ down in the wagon she must ride,” he said. “I’ll have no
waxen image a-settin’ up on the seat, an’ me, like as not, arristed fer
kid-nappin’ her! In she goes, and covered up wid these potaty-sacks
she’ll be, till yez gets her home.”

“All right,” said Dolly, gleefully, “I don’t care. Put her in back, if
you want to. But be careful, don’t muss up her hair too much!”

At last the “lady” was arranged, and Dick and Dolly clambered up to the
seat beside Michael, and home they went.

“You see,” Dolly confided to Michael, who was her devoted adorer, “we
went to an auction, and we bought the lady.”

“An auction! Yez childher! My soul! what will yez be afther doin’ next?”

“It isn’t hard to go to an auction,” said Dick, meditatively. “You just
find what you want to buy; and then you see how much money you’ve got,
and then you bid till you get up to it.”

“Yis, that’s a foine way!” said Michael, appreciatively. “An’ yez chose
the wax scarecrow, did yez? Well, give it to me fer my cornfield, it’ll
be foine to kape the burrds off!”

“You bad Michael,” said Dolly. “You’re just teasing us. Scarecrow! Why,
she’s my new doll. I’m going to call her,—what shall we call her,
Dick?”

“Lady Eliza Dusenbury,” said Dick, promptly, for he was always quick at
choosing names. “And I say, Dolly, let’s rig her up, hat and all, you
know, and stand her up in front of the front door, and ring the bell,
and then hide, and see what Hannah’ll do!”

“All right; don’t you tell, Michael.”

“No, Miss Dolly, I’ll not tell.”

“And you help us, Michael, to get her out and get her fixed up, will
you?”

“Yis, I’ll help yez, ye good-fer-nothin’ shcamps.”

When Michael indulged in calling them names, the twins knew he was very
good-natured indeed, so they anticipated great fun.

When they reached Dana Dene, the two children jumped down from the wagon
and ran into the house. It was easy enough to get in unnoticed, and they
went straight to Aunt Rachel’s room for clothing for the new friend.

Dolly selected a pretty street suit of dark-blue pongee, made with a
coat and skirt. She found also a white waist, and a blue hat trimmed
with cornflowers. This was really enough, but she added a veil and a
small shopping bag. With these things, the twins hurried to the barn,
where Michael had the Lady Eliza waiting for them in the carriage house.

Dolly dressed her, and it was surprising how distinguished she looked in
Aunt Rachel’s costume. It seemed a very good fit, and the flower-trimmed
hat was most becoming to the frizzled yellow hair.

On account of the scar on her cheek, Dolly put on the thin lace veil,
which really added to her modish effect. Her arms, which were movable,
were adjusted at an elegant angle, and the shopping bag was hung on her
left wrist.

Pat had been taken into confidence, and when all was ready the children
ran ahead to make sure that the coast was clear.

Discovering that Hannah and Delia were both in the back part of the
house, they signalled to Michael, and he and Pat assisted Lady Eliza to
the front door. Then Dolly adjusted her hands, and in the right one,
which was extended, she placed a visiting card, taken at random from the
basket in the hall. Then Michael and Pat went away, Dolly hid in some
nearby bushes, and Dick, after a loud ring at the doorbell, flew, to
join Dolly in her hiding-place.



                               CHAPTER XI


                          FUN WITH LADY ELIZA


Hannah, in her white cap and apron, came at once and opened the door.
Being a well-trained maid, she stepped back, and held the door open for
the lady to enter, but as the caller did not seem inclined to do so, but
persistently held out her card, Hannah took it, saying, “The ladies are
not at home, madam.”

Still the caller stood motionless, and Hannah looked at her with some
curiosity. The lace veil so shrouded her features that they were not
very discernible, but when Hannah’s glance fell on the rigid, pale hand,
she gave a scream:

“My sakes, ma’am! is it dead ye are, or fainted?”

Not being able to grasp at once the truth of the matter, Hannah took the
two cold hands in her own, and shook the lady slightly.

Lady Eliza toppled over, and would have fallen to the floor, but that
Hannah caught her in her arms, and dragged her into the hall, where she
dropped her on a large sofa.

“Delia!” she called, flying to the kitchen, “fetch some water. There’s a
lady fainted!”

Dick and Dolly, unable to restrain themselves longer, came running in,
and met Hannah, who returned, followed by Delia with a bowl of water.

“Hurry up, Hannah,” cried Dick. “She’s in an awful faint! Can’t you
bring her to?”

Dolly was dancing around the prostrate form of the visitor, and Michael
and Pat were peeping in at the front door.

“Ah, ye scallywags!” cried Delia, realising that some mischief was up.
“What are ye up to, now? Who’s this leddy?”

So lifelike was the whole effect of the figure, that Delia could not at
first take in the fraud. But when she did, she went off in peals of
laughter, and Hannah joined in heartily.

“Aren’t ye the smart scamps, now!” cried Delia, proud of the latest
exploit of the children. “An’ will ye look now, Hannah? That’s Miss
Rachel’s best blue dress! I’m wonderin’ ye didn’t recognise it!”

“I never thought,” said Hannah, still gazing half-fearfully at the
figure on the sofa. “I took it for granted it was a friendly visitor.”

Whereupon Dick outspread Lady Eliza’s arms in such a comical way, that
Delia went off again in fresh bursts of laughter.

“Now to fool the aunties,” said Dick, after the servants had returned to
their work and Dick and Dolly were left alone with their new possession.
“How shall we fix it up, Dollums?”

Dolly considered. She was more ingenious than Dick in arranging dramatic
effects, and at last she said:

“I think we’ll just have her seated in a corner of the veranda, and
then, when the aunties come home, I’ll tell them there’s a lady waiting
to see them.”

“Yes, that’ll be fine; let’s fix her now.”

So Lady Eliza Dusenbury was gracefully seated in a piazza chair. Upon
her knees lay an open magazine, held in place with one slender pink
hand.

“Those hands give her away, Dolly,” said Dick. “They don’t look a bit
real.”

“Neither they don’t,” agreed Dolly; “I’ll get gloves.”

She ran upstairs and down again, bringing a pair of light kid gloves
from Aunt Rachel’s room, which she succeeded in getting on the Lady
Eliza’s hands.

“That’s a heap better,” said Dick; “now, with the veil, and as its
getting sort of darkish, I don’t see how they’ll suspect at all.”

Quietly the Lady Eliza sat waiting. Not quite so quietly, Dick and Dolly
sat on the top step of the veranda, waiting also, and at last Michael,
who had gone after the Dana ladies, drove them up to the steps.

He had been charged by the twins not to mention their new acquisition,
so, of course, had not done so.

Dick and Dolly met their aunts, with a smiling welcome, and then Dolly
said:

“There’s a lady to see you, Aunt Rachel; as you weren’t home when she
came, she sat down, over there to wait.”

In her pleasant, dignified way, Miss Rachel crossed the veranda,
followed by Miss Abbie.

Though the ladies had slightly relaxed their “society” manner when
greeting the twins, they instantly assumed it again as they went to meet
their visitor.

“Good-afternoon,” said Miss Rachel as she neared the lady reading the
magazine.

But the stranger did not look up, and Miss Rachel assumed she had not
heard.

“How do you do?” she said, in louder tones, and held out her hand.

Miss Abbie also approached, and said “Good-afternoon,” and extended her
hand, but apparently the visitor had no intention of stopping her
reading.

With no thought other than that the lady was deaf or exceedingly
preoccupied, Miss Rachel stepped nearer, and said very loudly:

“Good-afternoon!”

Still no response, and now Miss Rachel became frightened.

“She has had a stroke or something,” she exclaimed, and, stooping, she
peered into the stranger’s face.

“Oh, Abbie! her cheek is hurt! Somebody has struck her, or thrown a
stone at her. How dreadful!”

Miss Abbie fluttered about.

“Oh, Rachel! How awful! What shall we do? Call for help, but don’t let
the children come here.”

“Yes, let us come,” cried Dick, as he and Dolly danced toward the group.
“Let us come, she’s our friend; she’s Lady Eliza Dusenbury.”

“What do you mean?” cried Miss Rachel. “This lady has been hurt somehow.
Go and call Hannah. Or perhaps we had better send Michael for a doctor.”

“No, don’t, Aunt Rachel,” said Dolly, who was now shrieking with
laughter. “Lady Eliza isn’t much hurt. But isn’t she a dear!”

Dolly threw her arms round the strange lady’s neck, and patted the
injured cheek gently. Magazine and shopping bag slid to the floor, but
otherwise, the stranger made no motion.

“Dolly, behave yourself!” cried Aunt Abbie. “What do you mean by such
actions? Let the poor lady be! Oh, what shall we do, Rachel?”

But Aunt Rachel had begun to see daylight. The irrepressible mirth of
the two children told her that there was a joke somewhere, and then, as
she recognised her own dress and hat, she suspected the truth.

“H’m,” she said; “suppose we take off the poor lady’s veil, and see how
much she is hurt.”

“Suppose we do,” said Dolly, and she obligingly assisted her aunt to
remove the veil from Lady Eliza’s beautiful, but scarred face.

“Well!” she exclaimed as she saw the glass eyes and the pink wax face,
“what _have_ you two been up to, now?”

As for Aunt Abbie, she sank down on a nearby chair, helpless with
laughter.

Then Aunt Rachel followed her example, and Dick and Dolly danced round
the three seated figures, while they screamed themselves hoarse with
glee.

They moved Lady Eliza’s arms into threatening and despairing poses, each
more ridiculous than the other.

They took off her hat, and breaking bunches of wistaria from the veranda
vine, they wreathed her golden mop of hair with them.

They took Aunt Rachel’s eyeglasses from the little gold hook on her
bodice, and perched them on Lady Eliza’s nose, sticking a pin in the wax
to hold them on. And at each ridiculous demonstration the two aunts
would become convulsed with laughter.

“Isn’t she lovely!” said Dolly, at last, as she hung around Aunt
Rachel’s neck, and watched Dick tie the string of a red balloon to Lady
Eliza’s hand, just so that the balloon kept thumping her in the face.

“She is beautiful,” agreed Aunt Rachel, with a shade of mental
reservation in her tones. “Where did you get her, and why did you take
my newest gown to play with?”

“I didn’t know it was your newest gown!” said Dolly, regretfully; but
Aunt Rachel told her not to mind, they would take it off, and there were
several older ones that would do equally well for Lady Eliza.

The story of the auction was told, and the aunts had another season of
mirth over the ridiculous bidding.

“All right,” said Aunt Rachel, after the story was finished, “but never
bid on anything unless you have enough money to pay for it.”

“We didn’t,” said Dick; “we counted our money first. And truly, this was
the only thing in the whole auction we wanted.”

“Well, I’m glad you have her. I think you can have good fun with such a
big doll. To-morrow I’ll find you some clothes.”

Aunt Rachel was as good as her word, and next day she went to the attic
and found several discarded costumes of her own and Aunt Abbie’s that
were fine for Eliza. Hats and bonnets, capes and shawls, a parasol and a
feather boa,—indeed the Lady Eliza soon had a complete and even
luxurious wardrobe.

Aunt Abbie touched up the injured cheek with some water-colour paints,
and then the injury scarcely showed at all.

That afternoon the twins prepared to spring the joke on Pinkie and Jack.
They expected them both to come over and play, and beforehand they got
the Lady Eliza ready. The arbour in the playground was now nearly
covered with vines, and formed a well-shaded tent.

In here, at a table, they placed Eliza, her hands meekly in her lap, and
her face downcast. She wore a black-and-white checked suit, and a black
hat and veil. Her hands were ungloved, but were filled with flowers,
which concealed the artificial-looking finger-tips.

Having arranged her exactly to their liking, the twins sat on the
veranda steps, waiting for their friends. Pinkie came first, and Jack
came very soon after.

“Let’s go out to the playground,” said Dick, casually.

“All right,” agreed Jack. “It’s too hot for tag; let’s play hide and
seek.”

They all sauntered toward the playground, and as they nearly reached it,
Jack said:

“Why, there’s a lady in there!”

“A lady?” said Dick, looking surprised. “What are you talking about?”

“There is,” repeated Jack; “see.”

They all peeped through the vines, and sure enough, a lady was seated at
the table. Her hands were full of flowers, but she appeared dejected,
and her head drooped a little.

“It isn’t either of the aunties,” whispered Dolly, “they’re in the
house.”

“Who is it then?” Jack whispered back, and Pinkie said, “Don’t let’s go
in, I’m afraid.”

“Afraid of a lady!” said Dick. “Pooh, I’m not. Maybe it’s your mother,
Pinkie.”

“No, it isn’t,” she replied. “Mother’s at home. Maybe it’s Hannah.”

“What would Hannah be here for?” said Dolly. “Let’s go in and see who it
is.”

“All right,” said Dick, and he stepped inside. “She won’t speak to me,”
he said, stepping out again. “You go in, Jack.”

Not wishing to be thought cowardly, Jack stepped into the arbour, and in
his politest tones, said:

“How do you do, ma’am?”

But the lady did not move, and just looked at Jack with big blue eyes,
that stared through her black veil.

“She’s a funny lady,” said Jack, rather bewildered. “She won’t speak,
and she just stares at me.”

“You try, Pinkie,” said Dolly.

So Pinkie went up to the lady, and in her sweet little voice said:

“What’s the matter, lady?”

She, too, received only a blue-eyed stare, and no word of reply.

“Perhaps she’s asleep,” said Dick.

“No, her eyes are wide open,” said Jack, his own eyes also wide open in
surprise.

“Then she must have fainted,” said Dick; “we must try to bring her to.”

He gave the lady a pat on the shoulder, but still she didn’t stir.

“Hit her harder,” said Dolly. “Don’t hurt her, you know, but you have to
shake people to make ’em come out of a faint.”

Dick thumped her on the back, and slily bent her arm up until she seemed
to be shaking her fist at them. The flowers tumbled to the floor, and
her other arm flew up above her head.

“Oh!” cried Pinkie, and ran farther away from the now
belligerent-looking lady.

“Oh!” cried Jack, catching on. Then, screaming with laughter, he seized
the lady’s hand shook it, crying, “How do you do, ma’am! How _do_ you
do? I’m _so_ glad to meet you!”

Pinkie was still mystified, so Dolly ushered her up to the lady, saying,
“Miss Pinkie Middleton ’low me to make you ’quainted with Lady Eliza
Dusenbury!”

Dick had taken off Eliza’s veil, and Pinkie at last realised what sort
of lady she was meeting.

“Oh, Dolly,” she cried, “where did you get her? Isn’t it fun! I think
she’s fine!”

“She’s great!” declared Jack. “You fooled me good, old Mr. Dick Dana!
What’s her name, did you say?”

“Lady Eliza Dusenbury,” said Dick, “but we call her Eliza, if we want
to. Let’s take her for a ride.”

They got the little express wagon that Dick and Dolly used to cart their
plants or flower-pots around the gardens in, and lifted Eliza in.

“She’ll have to stand up,” said Dolly, “because she can’t sit down.”

“All right,” said Jack, “we’ll tie her so she won’t upset.”

They fastened her iron pedestal, which served her instead of feet,
firmly to the wagon, and then proceeded to deck both vehicle and
passenger with flowers, till it looked like a float in a parade.

Dolly and Pinkie made a gilt paper crown, and wound gilt paper around a
long rod for a sceptre.

“Oh, let’s make her Queen of the Fairies!” cried Pinkie.

So the dress Eliza had on was changed for a white one. This was decked
with ribbons and garlands of flowers. Crown and wand were put in place,
and then the whole four combined their ingenuity to invent wings. At
last they were cut from thin pasteboard, and covered all over with
fringed white tissue paper. This fringe, about an inch wide, and cut
fine, was quickly made, and when pasted on in close rows, gave a lovely
fluffy appearance to the wings.

A gauzy white veil, spangled with gilt paper stars, floated down from
the crown, and the Queen of the Fairies presented a most delectable
appearance.

The express wagon was not good enough for this dream of beauty, so it
was made into a float, by placing some boards on top of it. This top was
neatly covered with a sheet and decked with flowers.

Then the Queen of the Fairies was raised to her triumphal car, and her
four willing subjects drew her about.

Long reins were made by cutting strips of white muslin, and these were
attached to four prancing little steeds, while the Queen held the ends
in her waxen hands. The cortège made a tour of the grounds, and drew up
finally at the house to exhibit their peerless Lady Eliza to the
aunties, who expressed heartfelt admiration.

“It’s the best plaything ever,” declared Jack, as he and Pinkie went
home. “We’ll be over to-morrow to play some more.”



                              CHAPTER XII


                             OBEYING ORDERS


“Children,” said Aunt Rachel, one afternoon, as dressed in their best
calling costumes, she and Aunt Abbie were about to enter the carriage,
“we are going to make some calls, and about five o’clock I want you to
meet us at Mrs. Hampton’s, and we will all come home together.”

“Oh, Auntie Rachel,” said Dolly, “I don’t want to go calling to-day. I
want to play.”

“I know it, dearie, and so I’ve let you off from most of the calls we’re
making. But I especially want you to be with me at Mrs. Hampton’s, so
you can play till half-past four, and then get dressed and meet us there
at five.”

“All right, Auntie,” said Dolly, who was a sunny-tempered little girl,
after all. “What shall I wear?”

“Put on your new white piqué, and Dick, wear your light-grey suit. Now,
be sure, children,—be there promptly by five.”

“Yes’m; and if you’re not there shall we wait for you?”

“Yes,” said Aunt Abbie, “wait until we come, no matter what time it is.
But we’ll be there about five.”

The aunts drove away and the twins played out in the garden until it was
time to dress.

They started off, looking very demure with their clean clothes and
freshly-brushed hair.

“I don’t want to go a bit,” said Dolly, with a little sigh, as she
walked along.

“Neither do I,” replied Dick, “but we have to go, so there’s no use
making a fuss about it. Where does she live, anyway?”

“Why, I don’t know; I thought Auntie told you.”

“No, she didn’t, but I know it can’t be far, because she said we could
get there in ten minutes. Here’s old Abe, let’s ask him.”

The twins stopped an old man who was going by in his cart, and who was a
well-known character in the town.

“Hello, Abe,” said Dick. “Do you know where Mrs. Hampton lives?”

“Sure, my boy. I just came from there, havin’ been doin’ some cartin’
for her. You see that red-brick house, over beyond those trees?”

“Yes.”

“Well, it’s the next one beyond,—a white one. You go over that way, and
anybody’ll direct you.”

“All right; thank you, Abe,” and the old man drove on, while the twins
followed the direction he had given them.

“I’d like to skip,” said Dolly, “but it makes our shoes all dusty.”

“No, we mustn’t do that,” agreed Dick. “Aunt Rachel would have a cat-fit
if we weren’t spick and span when we get there.”

So they walked on sedately, only pausing now and then to pick a flower,
or look at a bird on a branch.

They inquired once more, in order to be sure, and then turned in at Mrs.
Hampton’s gate. A fine fountain was playing in the front yard, and the
twins crossed the lawn to see if there were any fish in it. There
weren’t, but the plash of the cool water was very attractive.

“I’ll dare you to stick your foot in,” said Dick, suddenly.

They stood on the very brink of the fountain basin, and so impossible
was it for either twin to refuse a “dare,” that Dolly’s immaculate white
shoe and stocking went flash into the water and out again before she
realised what she had done.

“Oh, Dick!” she exclaimed; “you made me do that! What will Aunt Rachel
say?”

“Too bad, Dollums,” said Dick, greatly disturbed at his own part in the
mischief. “I didn’t think what I was saying.”

“And I didn’t think what I was doing! I dare you to stick _your_ foot
in!”

Partly because of the dare, and partly because he was quite willing to
share his sister’s fate, Dick hastily thrust his own neat black shoe and
stocking in the water.

“There!” he said, as half proudly he drew it out again. “Now we’re
even!”

“Yes; but how can we go into Mrs. Hampton’s this way?”

“Perhaps they won’t notice. Mine doesn’t feel very wet, does yours?”

“Sopping! and they’ll drip all over her carpet.”

“Let’s wipe them on the grass.”

But the green grass did not improve the appearance of Dolly’s white
shoe, though Dick’s black one didn’t show the effects of the bath so
plainly.

“Come on, Dolly, we may as well face the music.”

They went on toward the house, and the dust of the footpath settled on
Dick’s wet shoe and stocking until he was quite as untidy looking as his
sister.

“Wow! isn’t it soppy!” he exclaimed as the water in his shoe oozed and
spattered out.

“Horrid! I don’t see why we did it!”

“Well, keep up a brave face, maybe the parlour will be sort of dark and
they won’t notice.”

They rang the bell, and a maid opened the door.

“Is Mrs. Hampton in?” said Dolly, in her, sweetest tones.

“Yes; walk in the drawing-room. What names?”

“Miss Dana and Mr. Dana,” said Dolly, and was about to explain that they
had come to meet their aunts, when the maid disappeared.

She returned to say that Mrs. Hampton would appear presently, and for
them to wait.

“’Course we’ll wait,” said Dick to Dolly, as the maid again left them.
“The aunties aren’t here on time, after all. P’raps our feet’ll dry
before they come.”

“I wish there was a fire. I’m dripping on this pretty light carpet.
Dick, let’s go out in the kitchen or some place, and find a fire.”

“All right, come on.”

They left the drawing-room, and as they crossed the hall they saw a
bright wood fire in a room across the hall, evidently the library. So
they went in, and drawing up two big chairs, they sat down and held
their two wet feet to the crackling blaze.

“This is gay,” said Dick, leaning back in his chair with a sigh of
satisfaction. “We’ll be all dry in a few minutes, Doll.”

“Yes; but I wish Aunt Rachel would come before Mrs. Hampton comes down.
I don’t know her. Do you?”

“Nope; never saw her. But the aunties are bound to be here soon. It’s
quarter-past five, now.”

“What _are_ you children doing?” said a voice behind them, and Dick and
Dolly jumped from their chairs, and saw a lady coming toward them. She
was a very pretty lady, in a trailing silk house gown, and lots of
frizzy light hair.

Dolly thought she looked a little like Lady Eliza, and not at all like
any of Aunt Rachel’s other friends.

“How do you do?” said Dolly, making her curtsey prettily, while Dick
bobbed his head.

“How do you do?” returned Mrs. Hampton, “but who are you?”

“We’re Dolly and Dick Dana,” said Dick, “and our aunties said for us to
meet them here at five o’clock. But they don’t seem to be here yet.”

“No; they’re not. Are your aunties Miss Rachel and Miss Abbie Dana?”

“Yes’m; and they said they would call here this afternoon.”

“And they told us if they weren’t here to wait till they came,” said
Dolly.

“Yes?” said Mrs. Hampton, looking at her quizzically. “And why are you
sitting almost into the fire? It’s a warm day.”

“Yes,” said Dolly, “but you see, we stepped into the fountain as we came
along, and so we’re just drying our feet.”

“That’s a very good idea,” and Mrs. Hampton’s smiling eyes were as
pleasant as if stepping into fountains was quite usual for her guests.
“And so your aunts are coming to call on me?”

“Yes, at five o’clock. But they seem to be late, so, if you please,
we’ll wait for them.”

They waited until half-past five, and then until quarter of six, and
still the Dana ladies didn’t come. The twins grew very impatient, for it
was most irksome to have to sit and talk polite conversation with a
grown-up lady.

Mrs. Hampton asked so many questions too. Very impertinent questions
they seemed to Dick, though he answered to the best of his ability.

Mrs. Hampton was smiling and pleasant, and seemed interested in hearing
about the Dana establishment, but still Dick and Dolly felt
uncomfortable, and wished their aunts would come.

At six o’clock Mrs. Hampton said she felt sure the aunts had changed
their plans, and were not coming, and she delicately hinted that she
would send the twins home.

“No,” said Dick, positively; “we must stay here till they come. Aunt
Abbie said to wait, no matter what time it was. And, besides, if they
have changed their plans, and are not coming here, they’d send Michael
for us, anyway.”

Dolly agreed to this, and the two little martyrs sat for another
half-hour.

“Well, if you stay any longer, you must stay to dinner,” said Mrs.
Hampton at last. “Do you sit up to dinner at home?”

“We have supper at night,” said Dolly, and her lip quivered a little,
for she was beginning to feel anxious about her aunts.

“Well, I have dinner at night,—at eight o’clock.”

“At eight o’clock!” exclaimed Dolly. “Don’t you get awfully hungry
before that time?”

“No, I don’t,” said Mrs. Hampton, smiling; “but I’m sure you
chickabiddies will. So suppose I give you a nice little supper up in my
sitting-room, and excuse you from dinner? I have guests coming, and it
isn’t exactly a children’s party, you see.”

“But we’re not going to stay here all night!” exclaimed Dolly in dismay.

“It looks that way to me,” said Mrs. Hampton. “I offered to send you
home, and you said no. Now I feel sure your aunts won’t come,—it’s too
late for them, and if you’re bound to wait for them, I can offer you
supper and pleasant sleeping rooms,—but I can’t invite you to dinner.”

The twins were uncertain what to do. But after all, they had no choice.
Aunt Rachel had told them to wait until she came, and Aunt Rachel’s
orders were always to be obeyed. To be sure something might have
happened to prevent the aunties from carrying out their plan of calling
on Mrs. Hampton, but even so, they would have sent for the children. And
if they had gone home, they would surely send Michael over for them at
once. It wasn’t as if the aunties didn’t know where they were. They had
sent them to Mrs. Hampton’s, and told them to wait there. So they
waited.

They thought Mrs. Hampton seemed a little annoyed because they waited.
But as Dick said to Dolly, “I’m not going to disobey Aunt Rachel for
another lady. But all the same, Dollums, I do want to go home.”

“So do I,” said Dolly, “I think it’s horrid here.”

It wasn’t really horrid at all, but to be unwelcome guests in a strange
house is not especially pleasant, no matter how pretty the house may be.

The twins had been taken up to Mrs. Hampton’s sitting-room, and in
charge of a maid, had been served with a delightful little supper. Bread
and milk, jam, fresh strawberries, and dear little cakes, followed by
ice cream, made a goodly feast indeed. After it, their spirits rose a
little, and they ate their ice cream with smiling faces.

“I think the aunties decided to come this evening instead of afternoon,”
said Dick, unable to think of any other explanation.

“They never do make calls in the evening but perhaps that’s it,” said
Dolly, doubtfully. “I hear people coming in, Dick, let’s go and look
over the banisters.”

Carrying their ice cream plates with them the twins stepped out into the
hall and looked over the banisters on the scene below.

It was a fascinating glow of lights and flowers and ladies and gentlemen
in evening dress, for the dinner guests had come, and were standing
about, engaged in conversation.

Dolly was enchanted with the grand ladies, with jewels in their hair,
and with low-necked gowns, and Dick, too, leaned over the banister to
see the gay scene. So absorbed were they that they did not heed their
melting ice cream, and, almost at the same moment, the soft, cold mass
slid from each tipped-up plate, on the heads and shoulders of the ladies
and gentlemen below.

Such a shriek of dismay as arose brought Dick and Dolly to a realisation
of what they had done, and in an agony of mortification they fled back
to the sitting-room.

Here Mrs. Hampton found them, their heads buried in sofa pillows, and
crying in muffled paroxysms.

“You must go home,” she said, and her cold, hard tones were more of a
reproof than any words could have been. “My coachman will take you, and
I wish you to go at once.”

“We wish to go, Mrs. Hampton,” said Dolly, striving to choke back her
tears while she made some sort of apology. “We’re very sorry we came,
and we’re ’ceeding sorry we spilled the ice cream. It was very good.”

This sounded as if Dolly merely regretted the loss of the dainty, but it
was not so. She meant to compliment the supper that had been given them,
but, what with their worry over Aunt Rachel’s absence, their own
homesickness, and the awful accident of the ice cream, both children
were completely upset.

“Please forgive us,” said Dick, holding out his little hand. “We’ve had
a lovely time,—and,—and we hope you’ll come to see us.”

“I can’t make you out!” said Mrs. Hampton, looking at the children in
perplexity. “I thought you threw down that ice cream purposely.”

“Oh, no!” cried both twins at once, and Dolly went on eagerly: “you see,
we never saw low-necked ladies and gentlemen at a party before; and we
were so awfully interested, we leaned over to see better, and I s’pose
the gas-lights heated up our ice cream and melted it, and it just
slipped off the plates.”

“We ought to have held the plates more level,” said Dick, thoughtfully;
“I’m sorry we didn’t.”

“I’m sorry, too, for you mortified me terribly and annoyed my guests,
which was worse.”

“It’s terrible!” said Dolly, with a sigh. “I don’t see how you _can_
forgive us.”

“I couldn’t if you weren’t such a sweet little culprit,” said Mrs.
Hampton, smiling, and catching Dolly in her arms and kissing her. Then
she kissed Dick too, and, still smiling, she hurried away.

The maid found the children’s hats, and hurried them down the back
stairs, where the coachman was waiting for them. Evidently the servants
were not as forgiving as Mrs. Hampton, for Dick and Dolly were fairly
hustled into the carriage, the door was banged shut, and they were
rapidly driven homeward.

At Dana Dene, they were met on the threshold by two very
frightened-looking ladies, and while Aunt Rachel and Aunt Abbie each
clasped a twin in her arms, the Hampton carriage drove away.

“You _dear_ babies! where have you been?” cried Aunt Abbie, while Aunt
Rachel squeezed Dick with an affection too deep for words.

“Where have we been?” cried Dick, in amazement. “Why, we’ve been at Mrs.
Hampton’s, where you told us to go, and wait for you. We’ve been waiting
there ever since five o’clock!”

“Why, Dickie, dear,” expostulated Miss Rachel, “we went to Mrs.
Hampton’s at five o’clock, and waited there for you until nearly six!
Then we came home, and ever since we’ve been nearly frantic because we
didn’t know where you were. Michael and Pat have been out hunting with
lanterns.”

“But, Auntie, dear,” said Dolly, “we _did_ go to Mrs. Hampton’s, and
after we waited and waited, and you didn’t come, she gave us supper in
her sitting-room, ’cause she had a dinner party in the dining-room, and
the ladies had on beautiful frocks, all lacy and low-necked, and we
spilled ice cream on ’em!”

“What!”

“Yes’m; we didn’t mean to, you know, but it melted.”

“Dolly, what _are_ you talking about? Mrs. Hampton is not having a
dinner party this evening. I just left there at six o’clock, so I know.”

“Well, _our_ Mrs. Hampton is,” said Dick. “Are there two Mrs. Hamptons
in Heatherton, auntie?”

“No, of course there aren’t! I wonder where you _have_ been!”

“Well, she _is_ Mrs. Hampton, we called her that, and so did the maid.
It’s a beautiful house,—with a great big open round in the hall, where
you can look down,—and a fountain outside.”

Miss Rachel sent for Michael.

“Michael,” said she, “where do you suppose these children have been?
Whose carriage brought them home?”

“I don’t know, Miss Rachel. It’s a new turnout in Heatherton. All swell,
jingly harness and livery, an’ the like o’ that.”

“Dolly says they live in a big white house with a fountain in front.”

“Arrah, thin, it’s the new people as is afther takin’ the Van Zandt
place. A widdy lady of great forchin, I’m towld; an’ be the same token,
I do belave they said her name was Hampden, or somethin’ like that.”



                              CHAPTER XIII


                               AUNT NINE


Of course that was the explanation. Mrs. Hampden was a wealthy young
widow who had just came to Heatherton to live. The Dana ladies did not
know her, and probably never would have known her had it not been for
the twins’ escapade.

For lively little Mrs. Hampden belonged to a gay, modern set that had
little in common with the Dana ladies’ older and more conservative
circle of friends. Also, she was not at all like the Mrs. Hampton on
whom Miss Rachel and Miss Abbie were calling, and where the twins were
expected to meet them.

But as the real fault lay at the aunties’ door, inasmuch as they had not
given the twins sufficiently explicit directions, it did not seem fair
to blame Dick and Dolly.

And after hearing the story the twins told, Miss Rachel and Miss Abbie
saw that it was their duty to call on Mrs. Hampden, and apologise for
the trouble the children had made for her.

This was not a pleasant or an easy thing to do, but as it turned out,
Mrs. Hampden was so flattered at having the Dana ladies call on her that
she willingly forgave the children’s escapade, and begged that they
might be allowed to come to see her again.

This was not promised, for Miss Rachel Dana of Dana Dene was very
careful about making new acquaintances, and considered her present
visiting list quite long enough. The children themselves had no wish to
go again to the house where they had met with such an untoward accident,
and so the incident was closed, and the aunts trusted that Mrs. Hampden
would not return their call.

“But I do think,” said Aunt Abbie, as they discussed the matter at home,
“that you two children ought to be reproved for spilling that ice
cream.”

“I think so, too,” said Dick, cheerfully, “but ’course you know, auntie,
that we didn’t mean to do it.”

“Certainly,” said Aunt Abbie, with some asperity, “I don’t suppose you
poured it down on the people purposely. But you are quite old enough to
know better than to walk about with saucers of food in your hands.”

“So we are!” said Dolly, as if surprised at the fact. “Aunt Abbie, I do
believe we’re ’ceedingly bad children!”

“Not exactly that,” said Aunt Abbie, smiling in spite of herself, “but
you are exceedingly thoughtless, and I want you to strive to correct
that fault.”

“Yes’m,” said Dick, earnestly, “we’ll strive like fury. Honest, we will,
Aunt Abbie. Won’t we, Doll?”

“Yes, indeedy!” agreed Dolly, with a very affirmative wagging of her
head. “And now, if you’re all through scolding, Aunt Abbie, may we kiss
you?”

Then, without waiting for the requested permission, both children
tumbled themselves upon Miss Abbie, and gave her the soft answer that
turneth away wrath. For who could continue to reprove two affectionate
small persons, whose chubby arms flew about in wild caresses, and whose
insistent kisses fell just wherever they happened to land? But Miss
Abbie Dana was determined to instil some sense of decorum into her young
charges, so when released from their embraces, she began again:

“Now that’s another thing, children; I want you to love me, of course.
But it seems to me you needn’t be so—so——”

“Rampageous?” volunteered Dick. “That’s what Pat says we are.”

“We can’t help it, auntie,” said Dolly, fixing her big brown eyes
solemnly on her aunt. “You see, we’re so ’thusiastic that when we love
anybody we love ’em fearful! And we just ’dore you and Aunt Rachel.
Don’t we, Dick?”

“Well, I guess!” and then Miss Abbie had to stand another series of pats
and kisses, which, in view of the recent conversation, the twins made a
little less boisterous.

“Well, you’re dear little twinsies,” said Aunt Abbie, as at last they
ran away.

“And,” she added to herself, “I think I can make them improve their
manners by just keeping at it.”

Poor Miss Abbie wanted to bring the children up rightly, but the work
was so new to her she didn’t know exactly how to conduct it.

As for Miss Rachel, she vibrated between over-indulgence and
over-severity, an occasion of one being conscientiously followed by the
other.

So the twins nearly always had their own sweet way, and as, though
sometimes thoughtless, they were not mischievous children, Dana Dene was
brighter and happier for their presence.

One Monday the aunties were getting ready for the Reading Circle, which
was to meet at Dana Dene in the afternoon. It was very inconvenient for
all the members that the club should meet on washdays, but as it always
had done so, of course that couldn’t be changed.

Some ladies had the washing put off till Tuesday, but life at Dana Dene
was far too methodical for that.

So when the club was expected, Delia tried to get her wash all hung out
by noon, and so be ready to help in the afternoon. For, though the club
didn’t assemble until three o’clock, and tea was served at five, there
was much to be done in the way of prinking up the house for the
occasion. The twins were allowed to help, and Dolly dusted, and brought
water for the flower vases, and helped adjust fresh pillow-shams and
bureau covers, until Aunt Rachel declared she didn’t know how she ever
got ready for Reading Circle without Dolly’s help. And Dick’s as well;
for he cut flowers, and ran lots of errands, and did lots of useful
things.

And when, at about eleven o’clock, he saw the telegram boy coming with a
yellow envelope, he took it and flew to Aunt Rachel with it faster than
any one else could have done.

“For gracious goodness’ sake!” exclaimed Miss Rachel as she read it;
“Aunt Nine is coming to dinner to-day!”

“To-day!” said Miss Abbie in a tone positively tragic, as she sank down
in a big chair. “Why, she can’t, Rachel! It’s after eleven now, and the
Reading Circle coming at three, and nothing but cold beef for dinner!”

“It doesn’t matter whether she can or not; she’s coming,” and Miss
Rachel, who had turned fairly white with dismay, sat down opposite her
sister.

“Who’s Aunt Nine? What a funny name!” cried Dick, dancing around in
excited curiosity.

Dolly picked up the telegram, which had fluttered to the floor.

“‘Will arrive at twelve-thirty,’” she read; “‘meet me at the station.’”

“Why, it’s signed ‘P. Dana,’” said Dick. “How can P. Dana be Aunt Nine?
How can it, Aunt Abbie?” He squeezed into the big chair beside Miss
Abbie, and patted her cheek to attract her attention. “How can it? How
does P. stand for Nine? Or do you mean nine aunts are coming? Oh, Doll,
wouldn’t that be fun?”

“Tell me,” urged Dolly, squeezing herself into Aunt Rachel’s lap, “tell
me first, auntie, ’fore Dick knows. Quick, tell me! Who’s Aunt Nine?
What does it mean?”

“Oh, Dolly, for mercy’s sake don’t bother me now! She’s Aunt Penninah,
your great-aunt, of course. We always call her Aunt Nine. And she’s the
most particular, fussy, pernicketty old lady in the world!”

“Oh, she’s dreadful!” sighed Aunt Abbie. “We always spend weeks getting
ready for her. She never came so unexpectedly before.”

“But the house is all in order,” suggested Dolly, anxious to be
comforting.

“Yes, for the Reading Circle. But not for Aunt Penninah. She looks into
every cupboard and storeroom, and, besides, we’ve nothing for dinner.”

“I’ll go get something,” offered Dick. “What do you want?”

“Oh, I don’t know! I don’t know!” groaned Miss Rachel. “Go and send
Hannah here. And it’s wash-day, too! And the Reading Club! Oh, what can
we do?”

But after the first surprise and bewilderment were over, the Dana ladies
rose to the occasion, and did the best they could.

Michael was sent to town for supplies, Hannah was instructed to set the
table with special elaboration, and Aunt Abbie herself went into the
kitchen and whisked up a pudding.

Delia was still at her washing, and Pat was putting finishing touches to
the lawn and flower-beds so they could not be disturbed.

The twins flew about in earnest endeavours to help, but after their
breaking a cut-glass vase, and upsetting a small table of bric-à-brac,
Aunt Rachel lost patience.

“Dick and Dolly,” she said, “you go upstairs and stay either in your own
rooms or in your playroom until dinner is served at one o’clock! Do you
understand? No; I’m not scolding, but I’m so put about that you two
simply drive me distracted! Now obey me exactly, for that’s all you can
do to help. Come down to the library at five minutes to one,—not a
minute before. And see that you’re spandy clean, and very nicely
dressed. Put on your blue lawn, Dolly, and tie your hair ribbons
carefully.”

“Yes’m; Dick’ll tie ’em for me. He does it just lovely.”

Subdued by Aunt Rachel’s desperate manner, the twins crept away,
resolved to be very good, and do exactly as they were told.

“It isn’t twelve yet,” said Dick; “no use dressing now. We’d only get
all rumpled up. Let’s go up in the playroom.”

So up they went, and began to play with Lady Eliza.

“Hello, ’Liza!” cried Dick, shaking her wax hand cordially. “I haven’t
seen you in some time. Are you well?”

“Pretty well,” said Dolly in a squeaky voice. It was part of their play
that, whenever either twin spoke to Lady Eliza, the other twin was to
answer for her.

“Pretty well. But I’m tired of this old frock,—I want a change.”

“All right,” said Dick; “we’ll fix you up. Let’s rig her up gay, Doll,
and we’ll show her off to Aunt Nine.”

“All right,” and Dolly flew to the trunk that contained Lady Eliza’s
wardrobe.

They selected an old-fashioned blue silk dress that Aunt Rachel had
given them, and proceeded to array Eliza in it. Then Dolly dressed her
hair. She loved to do this, for Eliza’s hair was very profuse, if not of
very fine texture, and soon Dolly had built a fine array of puffs and
curls, with a fancy ornament of blue and silver tucked in at the side.

Then, desiring to make her very grand, Dolly put a necklace of her own
round Eliza’s neck, and added several long strings of beads, hung with
various trinkets.

“How do I look?” said Dolly in the squeaky voice that always represented
Lady Eliza’s talking.

“You look gay,” said Dick. “Perhaps this afternoon you’ll meet a grand
lady, Miss Nine Dana. I hope you’ll behave properly.”

“Oh, I’ll behave lovely,” squeaked Eliza, and then the twins ran away to
dress for dinner. By quarter of one they were all ready.

Dolly looked very sweet and demure in her frilly blue lawn, and her
beautiful hair was tied with a big white bow which Dick had skilfully
arranged. By practice his deft little fingers had conquered the science
of tying bows, so Dolly’s hair ribbons were always marvels of correct
proportions.

They had promised not to go to the library until five minutes of one,
and the ten minutes intervening seemed interminable. They drifted back
to the playroom to say good-by to Eliza, when Dick had an inspiration.

“Let’s take her down,” he said, “and put her in the dining-room to greet
Aunt Nine when we all go out to dinner.”

“Let’s!” cried Dolly, and in a jiffy they were carrying the Lady Eliza
Dusenbury silently down the back stairs. By good luck they didn’t
encounter Hannah or the aunties, and they reached the dining-room in
safety.

“Where shall we stand her?” said Dick. “In the bay window?”

“No,” said Dolly. “Let’s sit her at the table.”

“She won’t sit.”

“Well, we’ll sort of slide her under; if we put her in Aunt Rachel’s big
chair she’ll be all right.”

They propped Eliza into the chair, and though she seemed to be falling
backward in a swoon, her bright eyes and pink cheeks betokened good
health. Her elaborate costume looked fine at the prettily set table, and
Dick moved her arms about until they seemed extended in welcome.

“That’s fine!” said Dolly, nodding admiringly at the tableau.

“This is finer!” cried Dick, and taking the large carving-knife from the
table, he thrust it into Eliza’s outstretched hand. This was easily done
by sticking the knife handle partly up her long tight sleeve, and her
effect, as she brandished the glittering steel, was now ferocious.

“Gay!” cried Dolly; “won’t they be s’prised! Come on, Dick, it’s five
minutes to one.”

The twins, hand in hand, went into the library, and with their best
curtseys were presented to Aunt Penninah.

“These are the children, Aunt Nine,” said Miss Rachel, and Dick and
Dolly saw, sitting an a big armchair, the most imposing-looking
personage they had ever met.

Miss Penninah Dana was a large and very tall woman, with white hair, and
large, piercing black eyes that seemed to see everything.

“H’m; twins, are you?” she said, looking at them over her eyeglasses.
“You seem very demure. Are you always so quiet?”

Dick rolled his eyes toward Aunt Rachel.

“Shall we show her?” he whispered, quite ready to pounce on the new aunt
if desired.

“Mercy, no!” said Miss Rachel. “Do behave, if you can.”

“Well,” said Dick, answering Aunt Nine’s question, “we’re _not_ always
so quiet. But to-day we’re trying to be good because you’re here, and
the Reading Circle is coming.”

“But sometimes we’re good when there isn’t company, too,” put in Dolly,
not wanting to be misjudged.

“I’m surprised at that!” said Aunt Nine, but there was a merry gleam in
her eye, and somehow the twins began to think they were going to like
her in spite of her majestic appearance.

Then dinner was announced, and, as the guest arose, the children were
impressed afresh with her evident importance.

She walked like a duchess, and seemed to expect everybody to dance
attendance upon her.

Aunt Rachel picked up her handkerchief, and Aunt Abbie her vinaigrette,
for she dropped them both as she rose.

The twins, greatly interested, walked behind, and they all started
toward the dining-room.

As they neared the door, the hostesses stepped back and Aunt Penninah
stalked stiffly into the room.

Perhaps it was not to be wondered at, for the figure at the table was
certainly startling to look at, and the glittering carving knife was
aimed straight at her, but Aunt Penninah threw up both her hands, gave a
fearful shriek, and fainted dead away!



                              CHAPTER XIV


                              A CORONATION


“Oh, Aunt Nine, what _is_ the matter?” cried Miss Rachel, bending over
her, while Miss Abbie fluttered around distractedly.

They had not yet seen Lady Eliza, as they were so engrossed with their
stricken guest.

Nor did it occur to Dick and Dolly, at first, that it was their beloved
Eliza that had caused the trouble.

Aunt Penninah began to revive, as Miss Rachel sprinkled water in her
face, and Miss Abbie held her strong smelling-salts to her nose.

“Who is it?” she asked, faintly, sitting up on the floor, and pointing
to the dangerous-looking person with the carving knife.

“Oh,” cried Dolly, “if she wasn’t scared at Lady Eliza! Why, that’s
nobody, Aunt Nine! Only just a wax doll.”

“Take that thing away!” said Miss Rachel, sternly, as she realised what
had happened.

Dick and Dolly fairly jumped. Aunt Rachel had never spoken to them in
that tone before, and they suddenly realised that it had been naughty to
put Eliza at the table, though they had thought it only a joke.
Silently, the twins began to lift Eliza from her chair, when Aunt Nine
screamed out:

“Come away, children! You’ll be killed! Oh, Rachel, who is she?”

“Nobody, Aunt Nine. It’s a doll, a wax dummy that belongs to the
children. They put her there for fun, I suppose.”

“Fun!” roared Aunt Penninah, glaring at the twins. “Do you call it _fun_
to frighten me out of my senses?”

As her speech and manner nearly frightened the twins out of _their_
senses, they were pretty nearly even, but apparently the old lady was
waiting for an answer.

“We _thought_ it would be fun,” said Dolly, truthfully. “You see, we
didn’t know how easily you scared.”

“Easily scared, indeed! Who wouldn’t be scared to come into a room and
find a strange woman brandishing a carving knife in my very face! A nice
pair of children you are! Leave the room at once,—or else I shall!”

Dick and Dolly were bewildered by this tornado of wrath, and began to
edge toward the hall door, keeping out of reach of the irate lady.

But Miss Rachel, though deeply mortified and seriously annoyed at the
twins’ mischief, was a strong stickler for justice, and she well knew,
Dick and Dolly had meant only a harmless joke.

“Now, Aunt Nine,” she said; “don’t take this so seriously. The children
meant no harm, they wanted to amuse you; and had it not been for the
carving knife, I daresay you would have found the Lady Eliza very funny
indeed.”

“Funny! that horrible thing with her staring eyes! Take her away so I
can eat my dinner!”

At a gesture from Aunt Abbie, Hannah and Dick removed the offending
Eliza, and returned the carving knife to the sideboard. As Eliza was a
great friend of both Hannah and Delia, she was allowed to stand in the
butler’s pantry all through dinner time.

“Well, what do you say, Aunt Nine?” said Aunt Abbie, “may the twins sit
at table, or would you rather have them sent from the room?”

“Oh, let them stay,” said the old lady, not very graciously. “I’ve no
desire to be too severe, but that awful sight shocked my nerves, and I
may never get over it.”

This awful outlook grieved Dolly’s tender heart, and she flew to the old
lady and clasped her hand, while she said:

“I’m _so_ sorry, Aunt Nine! I didn’t know you had nerves, and I thought
you’d be ’mused to see Lady Eliza sitting there. I don’t know _how_ we
happened to give her the carving knife. But we ’most always put
_something_ in her hand. I wish we’d thought of a fan! That would have
been pretty, and it wouldn’t have hurt your nervousness,—would it?”

“Perhaps not,” said Aunt Penninah, grimly, but she couldn’t help smiling
at pretty little Dolly, who was caressing her be-ringed old hand, and
looking imploringly up into her face.

Then she turned to Dick.

“And how about you, sir?” she said. “Did you think it amusing to
threaten a guest with a carving-knife?”

Dick came over and looked at her with his straightforward eyes.

“I didn’t mean to threaten you, of course,” he said. “But it _was_
naughty, and I’m sorry,—we’re both sorry,—and can we do _anything_ to
make you forgive us?”

“No, you can’t,” said Aunt Penninah, “but when you look at me like
that,—with your father’s very eyes,—there is no question of
forgiveness. You’re all Dana—both of you!”

And then the strange old lady kissed both the twins and peace was
restored all around.

Dinner went on smoothly. Miss Abbie and Miss Rachel were secretly
impatient, because there was much yet to be done before the Reading
Circle came, but Miss Penninah’s presence admitted of no scanting of
ceremony.

Hannah’s service was more punctilious than the twins had ever before
known it, for Hannah had been at Dana Dene many years, and knew the
exactions and demands of a visit from Miss Penninah.

But at last the lengthy meal reached its close.

“Will you go to your room for a rest, Aunt Nine?” said Miss Abbie,
hopefully, as they rose from the table.

“No, I won’t; I’m not tired at all. I’ll make the further acquaintance
of these very astonishing young relatives of mine.”

“Oh, do, Aunt Nine! Do come and play with us!” cried Dick, with such
unmistakable sincerity that the old lady was greatly pleased.

“Yes, come out and see our gardens,” said Dolly, dancing by her side,
and to the great relief of the other two aunties, Miss Penninah walked
off with the twins.

Then Hannah and the two ladies flew ’round like mad. They put leaves in
the table until it was as long as possible; they set it with all the
best china and glass and silver for the Reading Circle’s tea. For the
feast was not a tea at all, but a most elaborate supper, and Aunt Nine’s
coming had sadly delayed the preparations.

Meantime, that elderly dame was walking round the children’s playground.
She was greatly pleased with their gardens, and was surprised to learn
that they tilled and weeded them all themselves.

“You’re really very smart little people,” she said, “and quite worthy to
bear the Dana name.”

The twins were flattered, for they well knew how highly all their aunts
thought of the Dana name, and, too, they had already begun to like the
peculiar old lady who had scolded them so harshly at the very beginning
of their acquaintance.

When it was nearly time for the ladies of the Reading Circle to arrive,
Aunt Rachel told the twins they must go out to their playground and stay
there all the afternoon.

“For,” she said, “I cannot run the risk of having some ridiculous thing
happen during our programme. You don’t mean to do wrong, but you’re just
as likely as not to stand Lady Eliza up beside our President when she’s
making her address. So take Eliza with you, and go out to the garden,
and stay there until Delia rings the bell, or Hannah comes to call you.”

“All right,” said Dick, “and if any of the boys or girls come over, may
Hannah send them out there to us?”

“Yes, I’ll tell her. Now, run along.”

They ran along, though slowly, because of Lady Eliza’s difficult
transportation. But at last they reached the playground, and stood Eliza
in a corner, ready for action when they needed her.

“Jiminy Crickets!” remarked Dick, “but Aunt Nine’s the funny old lady,
isn’t she, Doll?”

“Yep; but I sort of like her. After she got through blowing us up, she
was real jolly.”

“Yes, and wasn’t Auntie Rachel the brick to stand up for us at dinner
time?”

“She was so. I wonder how long Aunt Nine is going to stay.”

“I dunno. A week, I guess. Hello, here comes Pinkie. Hello, Pinkie!”

“Hello!” she returned, and then almost before she and Dolly had said
“Hello!” Jack Fuller came.

This quartette were almost always together on pleasant afternoons, and
as Dana Dene had attractions that the other homes didn’t possess, they
played there oftener than elsewhere.

“Hello, Lady Eliza Dusenbury,” said Jack, shaking hands with that silent
partner.

Of course, all the boys and girls knew Lady Eliza now, and indeed the
citizens of the village had ceased to be surprised when the twins rode
to town in the farm wagon, with Eliza accompanying them.

The servants at Dana Dene took her as a matter of course, and Michael
was fond of bowing politely, and saying, “The top of the mornin’ to ye,
ma’am!”

“Let’s build a throne and crown Eliza queen,” suggested Jack, and the
rest at once agreed.

“What shall we make the throne of?” asked Dolly.

“I’ll ask Michael,” said Dick, “he always helps us out.”

But Michael was busy with some extra work connected with the visit of
the Reading Circle, and had no time for bothering with youngsters.

“Throne, is it?” he said; “I’ve no time to be buildin’ ye royal palaces!
Take the wheelbarry fer a throne, shure!”

It was a chance suggestion, but it served, and Dick returned to the
waiting group, trundling the wheelbarrow.

“We can’t bother Michael much,” he said, “’cause he has to run that
Reading Circle thing. But I guess we can fix up this wheelbarrow with
flowers and greens and make it do. Hello, Maddy; Hello, Cliff!”

Madeleine and Clifford Lester had arrived during Dick’s absence, but
greetings were soon spoken, and the more the merrier.

Then the half dozen went to work with a will, using both heads and hands
to devise ingenious plans for the coronation of Eliza.

“She ought to be dressed in white,” said Dolly, looking disapprovingly
on Eliza’s blue dress; “but she hasn’t a white frock to her name.”

“Hasn’t your aunt any?” asked Pinkie, realising the real need of white.

“I can’t bother her to-day,” said Dolly, decidedly; “she’s got the
Reading Circle and Aunt Nine both at once; and she told me to keep out.”

“Couldn’t you get a big white apron from Delia,” suggested Maddy Lester.

“No; queens don’t wear aprons.”

Then Dolly’s eye lighted on the clothes line, full of the Monday wash,
which busy Delia had not yet taken in, though it was thoroughly dry.

“I might get something there!” she cried. “Come on, girls!”

The three girls ran to the big, sunny bleaching ground, where three long
lines of white clothes waved in the breeze.

[Illustration: LADY DUSENBURY’S PARTY       (Page 288)]

“They’re all too little,” said Pinkie, as she viewed Dolly’s own dresses
and petticoats.

“No, here’s Aunt Rachel’s nightgown! This will do!” cried Dolly, and in
a jiffy she had the clothespins pulled off, and the voluminous, ruffled
garment in her arms.

“Just the thing!” cried Maddy, and they raced back to the playground.

It made a beautiful white robe for Eliza, and when belted with a large
bath-towel, also brought from the clothes line, Eliza looked like an
Oriental princess.

“Get another towel and make a turban,” said Clifford, and this gave
their queen a still more foreign look.

“The throne thing ought to be white, too,” said Pinkie, who had an eye
for color effect. “It’ll be a lot prettier to pin the flowers and greens
on, if it’s white first. Let’s get sheets,—shall we, Dolly?”

“I don’t care,” said Dolly, absorbed in making Eliza’s turban stay on
her head.

So Pinkie and Madeleine flew for the sheets, and stripped the
clothesline of all there were there.

“Now!” they exclaimed, coming back triumphantly, with their arms full of
billows of white linen.

“Now!” cried Dick, and they fell to work, and draped and twisted the
sheets, until the wheelbarrow was a lovely white throne. This they
decked with their flower garlands, and then lifted Queen Eliza up on it.
As she, too, had been decked with blossoms and garlands, it was really a
pretty sight, and the children clapped their hands and danced about in
glee at their own success.

“Now, we’ll crown her,” said Dick, “but I say, Dollums, we all ought to
be in white, too!”

“That’s easy,” said Dolly, recklessly; “there’s lots of things on the
clothesline yet.”

Back there they all ran, and chose costumes to please their varying
tastes.

The three girls chose more ruffled nightgowns like Eliza’s and looped
them up with flowers on either side, like fancy overskirts.

The boys selected lace-ruffled petticoats that belonged variously to the
aunts or to Hannah and Delia, and round their shoulders they draped
tablecloths or pillowshams in toga fashion.

Some table centrepieces and carving-scarfs formed fine head-gear, and by
the time all the costumes were completed, the clotheslines looked as if
the wash had been taken in after all.

The white-garbed half dozen pranced back to the queen on her throne, and
the ceremonies began.

“First, we sing a dirge,” said Jack Fuller.

“Not a dirge,” said Dolly. “Don’t you mean a chant?”

“Well, some waily kind of a thing, anyway.”

So they all droned an inharmonious series of wailings that might have
been imitative of Chinese tom-toms, only it wasn’t meant to be.

“Now we must have a speech,” said Pinkie; “you make it, Dick; you’re
good at that.”

“All right,” said Dick, and stepping forward, while his tablecloth toga
trailed in the dust, he began:

“Oh, Queen Eliza Dusenbury, we beg you to accept this crown. We want you
for our beloved queen, and we will obey all your rules and reggilations.
We bow our hominage——”

“Homage,” corrected Jack.

“’Taint, it’s hominage! bow, anyway!”

So they all bowed in token of homage to their queen.

“Now we have to back away,” said Maddy; “they always do at court.”

The six backed away from the queen’s throne, but as backing with long
trailing robes is not to be neatly done without practice, they one and
all tripped over their trains and togas and went tumbling around on the
ground.

“Get up, all of you!” cried Dick, who had scrambled to his feet. “Now we
must sing.”

“What shall we sing?”

“I don’t care—‘John Brown’s Body,’ I guess.”

So they all sang “John Brown’s Body” with great gusto, and then the
coronation ceremonies were declared over.

And none too soon, for just then they saw Michael coming with a huge
trayful of good things, which he placed on the table in the arbour.

“Fer the land’s sake!” he exclaimed as the children crowded round.
“Whativer have yez been up to now! The clean clo’es from the line, as
I’m a sinner! Arrah, but ye’ll catch it, ye bad babies!”

“Wow! they did get dirty, didn’t they?” exclaimed Jack, realising for
the first time how they had tumbled about on the ground.

“Yes, they’re all dirt and grass stains. Will your aunts mind, Dolly?”

“I don’t know,” said Dolly, “but anyway it isn’t your fault, any of you.
Let’s take ’em off and eat supper now.”

It was characteristic of Dolly to spare her guests’ feelings, though she
had herself a sudden uneasy sense of naughtiness at having taken the
clean clothes to play with. But it was also her nature to put off an
evil hour, if possible, so the children gaily scrambled out of their
white raiment and sat down to the feast with good appetites.

“The girls is waitin’ on the Readin’ ladies,” said Michael, as he came
out with a second trayful, “so ye’re to wait on yerselves with these
things.”

Then Dolly and Pinkie arranged the table, and soon the group were eating
sandwiches and cakes and strawberries and ice cream, and all the good
things that went to make up a Reading Circle feast.

“The little raskills!” said Michael, as he gathered up the sheets and
garments they had thrown off. “Whativer is the rayson, I dunno, but Miss
Dolly and Masther Dick is just the baddest little shpalpeens I iver saw,
an’ yet I love ’em, ivery breath they draws!”



                               CHAPTER XV


                               PUNISHMENT


The Reading ladies had departed, and the younger guests of Dana Dene
had also trotted homeward.

“It’s too bad to take those things off of Eliza,” said Dolly, “she looks
so pretty in ’em. Let’s take her, wheelbarrow and all, to show to the
aunties.”

“I’m ’fraid Aunt Nine will faint again,” objected Dick.

“Oh, no, she won’t; it was the carving knife that scared her.”

So the twins trundled the white-draped wheelbarrow, and its white-garbed
occupant straight up to the front door of the house.

“Come out, aunties!” they called. “The queen wants you to salute her
majesty!”

Hearing the commotion, the three ladies came out on the veranda, and
this time Aunt Penninah did not faint, but seemed greatly interested in
the majestic Eliza.

“What have you put on her?” the old lady cried. “Why, they’re
clothes,—rough-dry! Did you take them from the clotheslines? Rachel, do
you allow these children to act up like that? I am ashamed of them, and
you, too!”

Just then Delia came out to the veranda with a clothes-basketful of the
garments the children had played with. Good-natured Delia rarely minded
the twins’ mischief, but it had been a specially hard day, and the extra
work and company had tired her out completely. Also, it _was_ annoying
to find her carefully washed clothes all muddied and grass-stained!

“Will ye look at this, Miss Rachel!” she exclaimed, her face red and
angry. “It’s too much to ask of a gur-rl to hurry up her wash an’ cook
for comp’ny on a Monday, an’ thin to go fer her clothes, an’ find ’em
like this!”

Aunt Rachel and Aunt Abbie looked at the twins. So did Aunt Penninah.
Dick and Dolly looked at the clothes in Delia’s basket. They _were_ a
sorry sight, but the twins seemed surprised rather than ashamed.

“Why, Delia Maloney!” cried Dick. “Are you sure we spoiled those clothes
like that! Why, we just wore them to the coronation. I didn’t ’spect it
would hurt ’em a bit!”

“Neither did I!” cried Dolly. “I’m awful sorry, Delia. I s’pose we ought
not to have taken ’em; but truly, I never thought about their getting
dirty. Will you have to wash ’em all over again?”

“Will I!” said Delia, grimly; “that I will, Miss Dolly; an’ a foine time
I’ll have gettin’ the green stains out, for-bye the mud; an’ to say
nothin’ of their being torn to bits!”

She held up a sheet and a tablecloth, each of which showed a jagged
tear.

“I’ll mend those,” said Dolly, cheerfully, “they’ll be good practice,
for Aunt Rachel is just teaching me darning in my sewing lessons.”

Soft-hearted Delia couldn’t help smiling at the earnest little face;
Aunt Rachel and Aunt Abbie looked perplexed; but Aunt Penninah was
unable to restrain expression of her feelings.

“You’re the worst children I ever saw!” she exclaimed; “the very worst!
At nine years old you should know better than to cut up such naughty,
wicked tricks! You must be severely punished. Rachel, if you don’t
punish them, I shall do so myself!”

Now Dick and Dolly were quite unaccustomed to this sort of scolding.
Aunt Rachel, though severe in principle, was very lenient in practice,
and Aunt Abbie was gentleness itself. So it was with real curiosity that
the twins drew nearer, to look at the reddening face and flashing black
eyes of their great-aunt, and Dick said, very seriously:

“We _were_ naughty, Aunt Nine; and if you punish us, how are you going
to do it?”

The question was not at all impertinent, Dick’s round little face showed
only a justifiable interest, and Aunt Penninah looked a little baffled,
as both twins waited eagerly for her answer.

“Do just what you please in the matter, Aunt Nine,” said Miss Rachel,
who had never quite outlived her youthful awe of the stern old lady.
Miss Abbie clasped her hands in alarm, as if fearing the twins would be
subjected to torture, and they all awaited Miss Penninah’s dictum.

“I think,” said the old lady, slowly,—and then she paused, a little
disconcerted at the earnest gaze of the four brown eyes, that were so
like those of the children’s father, her favourite nephew.

“I think,” she went on, more gently, “that I shall forbid you to go
outside the house all day to-morrow.”

She didn’t say that she had had a far more severe punishment in mind,
but had been deterred from inflicting it by those appealing eyes.

“Whew!” cried Dick, “stay in the house a whole day!”

“Yes,” said Aunt Nine, her ire returning as she noted the other aunts’
sorrowful looks, and Delia’s woe-begone face. “You children need
discipline. It’s terrible the way you’re let to run wild! Rachel, you’ve
no idea of training children properly, and as for you, Abbie, you’re
simply a tool in their hands!”

Dolly took a step nearer to the old lady.

“Aunt Nine!” she cried, with flashing eyes, “don’t you talk like that
about my Aunt Abbie, or my Aunt Rachel, either! They know how to bring
up children just splendid! And they’re doing the best they can with me
and Dick, but, as you know yourself, we’re the worst children ever,—so
what can you ’spect?”

“Yes,” said Dick, taking his sister’s part, as usual. “We’ll do your old
punishment, and we’re sorry we were naughty;—but you can’t jump on our
aunties like that!”

The youngest inheritors of the celebrated Dana “spunk,” faced bravely
the oldest member of the proud old family, and she realised the justice
of their reproof.

“The children are partly right,” she said, turning to her older nieces
with a short, sharp laugh; “and the matter must not be discussed further
in their presence. Dick and Dolly, you will obey my orders about
to-morrow, and now come and kiss me, and we will drop the subject.”

Dick stared at his aunt and hesitated, but quicker-witted Dolly
appreciated that, in Aunt Penninah’s mind, the coming punishment wiped
out even remembrance of the fault, and she willingly kissed her. Not the
spontaneous, loving sort of embraces they gave the other aunties, but a
whole-hearted, honest kiss of truce.

Dick followed her example, and then the twins were excused, and they
raced out in the kitchen after Delia.

“The intherferin’ ould lady!” cried Delia, as she snatched the children
in her arms. “Sorra the day I iver wint to Miss Rachel wid thim clo’es;
but I was that put about, Miss Dolly, dear.”

“Oh, pooh, Delia,” cried Dick; “you were all right, and we’ve come to
’pollergize for spoilin’ your wash all up. We’re awful sorry.”

“Yes,” chimed in Dolly, as Delia embraced them both; “we’ll never do it
again; but, truly, Delia, we didn’t think!”

“Av coorse ye didn’t, ye blissid babies! Shure ye niver think! An’
what’s a wash, more or less? I wish ould Miss Penninah had to do it
hersilf fur teasin’ ye.”

“Now, Delia,” said Dick, “you mustn’t talk that way. Aunt Nine is our
aunt, and we must love and respect her just as we do the other aunties.”

“It’s a thrue Dana ye are, Masther Dick; both of yez. An’ ye’re right,
too. Miss Penninah is the grand old lady, and the rale head of the
fambly. So do yez take yer punishment like the shwate childher ye be.”

And having duly made good their reputation as “true Danas” Dick and
Dolly trotted off to bed.

The next day proved to be the very loveliest day of the whole Spring.

The sun incessantly winked an invitation for the twins to come out and
play. The blue sky smiled the same plea, and the soft breeze whispered
it again and again.

The flowers nodded at them as they looked out of the windows, and the
trees spread their branches, as in a welcoming embrace.

The birds twittered, “Come, come!” and, though too far away to be heard,
Dolly knew, her pet chicken was peeping the same words.

But worst of all was to see Pat watering their own flower-beds,—their
pansies and daffodils that had never drank from any hands save the
twins’ own!

This sight nearly made the tears come, but Dick said bravely:

“We must make the best of it, Dollums. There’s no use of getting all
weepy-waily when it won’t do any good.”

“No, but Dick, don’t you s’pose she’d just let us go and water our
plants,—if we came right back?”

“Sha’n’t ask her; and don’t you ask that, either. Now we’ll both do our
practising,—I guess I’ll practise another hour while you’re doing your
old sewing,—and then let’s go up in the attic to play.”

Dolly brightened a little. “All right; we’ve always been going to fish
around up there, and we never had a good chance before.”

So Dolly went to one piano, and Dick to the other, and they practised so
diligently and painstakingly, that Aunt Penninah, who listened at the
doors, was greatly pleased with their thorough work.

“There’s good stuff in those children, Rachel,” she said; “if you don’t
spoil them by your foolish leniency and over-indulgence.”

“I don’t mean to, Aunt Nine,” said Miss Rachel, a little meekly, “but
you know they’re never purposely mischievous. The Danas are all
impulsive and thoughtless, and Dick is exactly like his father was at
his age.”

“Yes, I know all that; but they need a strong hand to rule them, and
though you and Abbie are firm enough in some ways, you give right in to
those twins. Now, I don’t!”

“No,” said Miss Rachel, grimly, “you don’t. How long are you going to
stay this time, Aunt Nine?”

“I planned to stay only a day or two; but as I’ve become interested in
John’s children, I shall remain a week at least. I want to learn their
natures, and, incidentally, I can help you with my judgment and advice.”

Miss Rachel groaned in spirit, but made no audible objection to her
aunt’s decree.

Dolly’s sewing hour that day was devoted to mending the clothes she and
her little friends had torn, and by dint of much instruction from the
three aunts, and honest industry on her own part, she achieved some very
creditable darns and patches.

During the sewing hour, Aunt Penninah sought out Dick, and had a talk
with him. She was rather severe, but the clan feeling was strong in
both, and after their conversation Dick felt a loyalty and respect
toward the old lady, if not a deep affection.

Then, Dolly’s sewing hour being over, the twins scampered for the attic.

“It’s horrid,” said Dick, “to be shut up in this stuffy old place on a
day like this; but let’s get all the fun we can out of it.”

“Let’s,” agreed Dolly, and as a starter they rambled through the old,
unused rooms, and looked at the old pictures and discarded furniture
stored there.

“Awful poky!” said Dick as they sat down on a haircloth sofa, and stared
at each other.

“Yes,” said Dolly, with a scowl. “I think Aunt Nine is a horrid——”

“Don’t talk that way, Doll,” said Dick, remembering his conversation
with the old lady; “just forget it,—forget outdoors and flowers and
everything,—and let’s play something nice.”

“What can we play?” asked Dolly, disconsolately.

“I dunno; but isn’t it funny why we can’t think of something? If it was
a rainy day and we couldn’t go outdoors, we’d have lots of fun in the
house.”

“Well, let’s play it’s raining then.”

This was a distinct suggestion, and Dick caught it at once.

“Wow!” he cried, looking out of the window; “what a storm! It’s just
pouring!”

“So it is!” said Dolly, gleefully; “we couldn’t go out to-day even with
umbrellas! Do you s’pose it’ll clear by to-morrow?”

“Yes, I guess so. But it won’t stop all day to-day.”

“No, I don’t believe it will. So we’ll play up here to-day.”

Then the twins went into the big lumber room, where all sorts of old
things were stored away.

“What’s that big boxy thing, face to the wall?” asked Dolly, looking at
a plain black walnut affair, about as high as herself.

“Dunno; let’s turn it around.”

Dick pulled the thing out from the wall, which was quite easy, as it
rolled on casters, and it proved to be entirely open on the other side.

It was about four feet high, and about three feet wide, and though
something like a small wardrobe, it was divided into six equal
compartments, each of which was lined with wallpaper.

“Why, Dick!” cried Dolly, “it’s a playhouse! A doll’s house, you know. I
believe it was Aunt Abbie’s when she was a little girl. Do you s’pose
there’s any furniture for it?”

“Must be; somewheres. Isn’t it gay? See the windows, they have real
glass in ’em. This must be the kitchen with oilcloth on the floor.”

“Yes; and the other floors are all bare. I s’pose the carpets are put
away somewhere, with the furniture. Let’s hunt them.”

The twins were not long in discovering three or four good-sized boxes
tied together, which proved to contain the furniture of the doll’s
house.

“Oh, what fun!” cried Dolly, as they took out little beds and tables and
chairs. “But we can’t put these in place till we find the carpets. Oh,
here comes Aunt Rachel. Auntie, was this your babyhouse when you were a
little girl?”

“Yes,” said Aunt Rachel, coming toward the twins. “I meant to fix it up
for you some day, Dolly, but perhaps you’ll like to fix it yourselves
just as well.”

“Yes, we will, Auntie!” cried Dolly, tumbling into her aunt’s arms for a
few caresses before they looked for the carpets.

“Who made the house, Auntie?” said Dick, snuggling into her other arm,
and patting her cheek.

“Why, a carpenter, I suppose. Father had it made for me when I was ten
years old, and your father was a toddling baby. He used to creep up to
it, and pull out the things that he could reach.”

“Did he look like us?” asked Dolly.

“He looked like Dick. You both have eyes like his, but his hair was in
dark ringlets all over his head, like Dick’s is. Now, let’s find the
carpets, and fix up the house. Wouldn’t you rather have it down in the
playroom?”

“Oh, yes,” said Dick. “It’s pretty hot and dry up here. The playroom is
lovely and airy, ’most like outdoors.” He gave a little sigh, and Aunt
Rachel remembered that the children were undergoing punishment.

Her eyes twinkled a little, as she said:

“Aunt Nine didn’t make any other stipulation, except that you were to
stay in the house all day, did she?”

“No’m,” said Dick. “And, Auntie Rachel, we’re _awful_ sorry we spoiled
the clean clothes.”

“Yes, _terrible_ sorry,” added Dolly, while they both fondled their aunt
half-unconsciously.

“You can be the sorriest pair of twins I ever saw, after your mischief
is accomplished,” said Miss Rachel. “Why doesn’t your sorriness begin
beforehand, I’d like to know?”

“Well, you see,” said Dolly, “we don’t think——”

“That’s just it, you never ‘think.’ Now, I’m going to teach you to
think,—somehow; I don’t know how yet, but we’ll manage to make you
thinkers somehow.”

“After Aunt Nine goes away,” suggested Dick.

“Yes,” agreed Aunt Rachel, “after Aunt Nine goes away.”



                              CHAPTER XVI


                             THE PLAYHOUSE


Then they all went down to dinner, the twins holding hands with each
other, round Aunt Rachel’s ample waist. As she had an arm round each of
their necks, locomotion down the stairways was difficult, but they all
accomplished it somehow, and made a triumphal entry at the dining-room
door.

Aunt Penninah was already in her chair, and looked up sharply, as if
expecting to see a doleful pair of twins.

But the laughing faces proved that, if not enjoying their punishment,
the children were, at least, making the best of it, and Aunt Nine
sniffed a little, as she asked:

“What have you been doing all morning?”

“Oh, having the beautifullest time!” exclaimed Dolly. “We found an old
doll’s house, that used to be Auntie Rachel’s when she was a little
girl.”

“And my father played with it, too,” said Dick, proudly.

“Oh, Rachel,” said Miss Abbie, with a disappointed look, “we meant to
keep that for their Christmas!”

“It doesn’t matter,” said her sister, serenely; “they may as well have
it now. Hannah, tell Michael to bring it down to the playroom while
we’re at dinner.”

Hannah obeyed, and the twins could scarcely eat their dinner for
anticipation of the fun to come.

“Your punishment doesn’t seem very hard to bear,” said Aunt Nine,
looking quizzically at the children.

“Oh, yes it is, Auntie,” said Dick. “We’d ever so much rather run out of
doors in this sunshiny day, and save the playhouse for a rainy day.
Truly, we feel the punishment very much.”

It somehow seemed to Dick’s queer little brain that it was rude to
defraud Aunt Penninah of her rights. She had evidently expected them to
repine at being kept indoors, and though they hadn’t exactly done that,
she was entitled to know that they really were feeling the punishment.
And it was quite true. Both he and Dolly would have gladly postponed the
playhouse fun, to scamper out for a run in the garden. Aunt Nine nodded
a sort of approval.

“You’re an honest little chap, Dick,” she said; “I’m beginning to like
you.”

“Don’t you like Dolly, too?” asked Dick, with the air of one merely
seeking information.

“Yes, I like you both. If you’d be a little more thoughtful, and——”

“Oh, we’re going to learn to think,” said Dolly. “Auntie Rachel is going
to teach us.”

“I wish her joy of her task,” said Aunt Penninah, but her eyes twinkled
just a little mite, and the twins began to think she was really not such
an ogress as she had seemed at first.

After dinner they all went up to the playroom, and found the playhouse
well placed, in a corner between two windows.

“Oh,” cried Dolly in rapture, as she saw the boxes full of furniture,
and the bundles of carpet.

The carpets smelled of camphor as Aunt Rachel unrolled them, for they
had been carefully put away from the moths, and proved to be in perfect
condition.

The aunties all looked a bit sober, as the small squares were unfolded,
for their thoughts flew back nearly forty years, when Rachel and Abbie
had been little girls, and Penninah Dana had been a beautiful young
woman.

But no such memories saddened the twins’ hearts, and they capered about
in glee, shaking out the carpets, and holding them up for inspection.

“This is the parlour one!” cried Dolly, as a light velvety square
appeared.

She tucked it into place, and it exactly fitted the parlour floor.

Two bedroom carpets were there; a library and a dining-room,—and the
kitchen already had oilcloth on it.

Then came the furniture, and both twins fairly squealed with delight
over the funny little things, as they took them from the boxes and put
them in place in the rooms of the playhouse.

The dining-room furniture was all of iron.

“That stove,” said Miss Rachel, holding a black iron stove of the shape
known as “cylinder,” “father brought me when I was getting well after
the measles. ‘You can build a real fire in it,’ he said, ‘it’s a real
little stove.’”

“And did you?” asked Dick.

“Yes; several times. There’s a tiny tin pipe that goes out through this
hole in the wall of the house. See?”

The twins saw, but there was so much to see, little time could be spent
on any one thing. The parlour furniture was of satin brocade, of deep
red colour, which was unfaded, and quite as good as new.

“I helped make those chairs,” said Aunt Nine. “I cut and basted, while
your mother sewed them, Rachel.”

“They’re beautifully made,” said Miss Rachel. “Dolly, if you want some
more, you can make them in your sewing-hour.”

“I’ll make you some,” said Aunt Penninah. “If you can find some pretty
bits of stuff, Abbie, I’ll make a few to-day.”

“Oh, do, Aunt Nine,” cried Dolly. “These chairs are all right, but it
would be so lovely to have some new ones of our very own!”

“I’m going to make some little wooden chairs and tables,” said Dick. “I
can cut them out with my jigsaw, and glue them together.”

“Do,” said Aunt Abbie, “and we’ll make satin cushions for them, and tie
them on with little ribbons.”

The furnishing of the house went on, and it would be hard to say which
were more interested, the twins or the older people.

When they came up to the bedrooms, they found the tiny sheets and
pillowcases yellow with age.

“Will you make us some new ones, Aunt Rachel?” asked Dolly.

“Yes; or Delia can bleach these for you. They’re as good as ever, except
their colour.”

Then the aunties discovered that the portières for the parlour were
faded, and the lace curtains had turned irretrievably brown, so off went
Aunt Abbie to get some bits of stuff at once, to make new ones.

And very soon the three aunties were busily engaged in cutting and
sewing all sorts of pretty things for the house.

The best bedstead was of the sort that requires dimity curtains and
valance to make it complete.

Aunt Penninah offered to fit this bed out entirely, and her deft needle
flew in and out of the muslins Aunt Abbie brought, until she had made
the little bed the most charming affair imaginable.

In addition to the curtains, she hemmed tiny sheets; she made a dear
blanket, of a morsel of white flannel bound with ribbon; and lovely
pillowcases, with hemstitched ends.

Then, to Dolly’s breathless delight, she made a little silk comfortable,
with a layer of cotton-wool in it, and tacked at intervals with
microscopic bows of blue ribbon.

Of course this work of the aunties took all the afternoon, and indeed,
it wasn’t finished that day.

But the interest in the house grew more and more absorbing as the days
went by, and though the children loved out of doors best, they often
devoted a few hours of the pleasantest days to “Dana Cottage,” as they
called it. When it was nearly finished, as to furnishing, they began to
prepare a family of dolls to occupy it. Aunt Nine offered to present the
entire family, and afterward assist in making their clothing.

So one fine afternoon Miss Penninah and the twins drove to town to
select the dolls. It was great fun, and yet it was a responsibility,
too. Dick was quite as much interested as Dolly, for somehow, the house
offered so much boyish work, and play, that it didn’t seem like “playing
with dolls.”

Besides the twins always did the same things, and Dolly would have lost
her own interest in the playhouse if Dick hadn’t shared it.

So, after much consultation, they chose a father and a mother doll, an
aunt doll, two small children dolls, and a baby doll. A nurse and two
other servants were added, and then they declared they had enough.

“Enough? I should think so!” said Aunt Nine, who began to see endless
doll-dressing ahead of her. But her eyes twinkled; and then she let the
twins select from the shop several bits of dolls’ furniture that were
not in vogue when the playhouse was originally furnished.

Laden with their treasures they all went home, and that very evening the
aunties began on the dolls’ wardrobes.

“Is this your idea of disciplining the children, Aunt Nine?” said Miss
Rachel, as they sewed, after Dick and Dolly had gone to bed.

Miss Penninah Dana looked a little confused, but she answered
straightforwardly:

“I think you were nearer right than I, Rachel. The twins are not what we
used to call ‘good children.’ I mean the meek, mild, priggish little
persons that children were taught to be when I was young. Dick and Dolly
are so full of life and spirits that they do wrong things from sheer
thoughtlessness and gaiety of heart. But they are never wilfully
mischievous, and never deceitful about it afterward. They do need firm
guidance, but they do not need to be taught the difference between right
and wrong, for they already know it. They are true Danas.”

When Miss Penninah announced that last fact, she felt that she had given
the last word of praise to the twins, and indeed, the other two aunts
thought so too.

So clannish were they, and so proud of their fine old family, that they
greatly preferred Dick and Dolly to be “true Danas” than to possess many
other admirable traits. And so, the three stitched away, quite agreed,
at last, on the management of the children, and hoping they would grow
up to manhood and womanhood, with the inherited traits of dignity,
honour, and refinement that characterised their family.

Meanwhile the “true Danas” upstairs were sleeping soundly, and only
awoke when the sun peeped in at their windows and winked and blinked
right into their eyes.

And when, later, they danced down to breakfast, there in a row on the
sofa sat a smiling and well-dressed family, all ready to take up their
abode in “Dana Cottage.”

Dolly went into ecstasies over the mother doll, who wore a trailing
house dress of light blue satin trimmed with lace. The aunt, too, was
resplendent in crimson velvet, and the children were in the daintiest of
white or light frocks.

The father-doll had been difficult to dress, but though a professional
tailor might have taken exception to the cut, the aunties had made his
neat suit fit him very well indeed.

Dick was interested in the new family, and admired them duly, but he was
already thinking of how he could build a yard around the house itself,
and he confided his plans to Dolly.

“We’ll fence off a space all round the house,” he said. “I’ll make a
little picket fence with splints. It’s just as e-easy! Then we’ll get
green velvet carpet for the grass.”

“Oh, carpet isn’t a bit like grass,” objected Dolly. “It’s so thick and
dusty. Let’s have real dirt,—or sand.”

“I think sand is messy.”

“Yes, so do I. Oh, I tell you what, Dick! Let’s cut green tissue paper
into fine fringe, and put it round where we want grass,—paste it to
something, you know,—like we made fairies’ wings,—only green.”

“Yes, that’s the ticket!” exclaimed Dick. “Then we’ll make little paths
of,—of brown paper, I guess,—pasted down.”

“Yes; take a big sheet of pasteboard first, and then stick everything on
it.”

“Yes, that’s what I mean. Then bits of evergreen for trees, and perhaps
real flowers, growing in little bits of pots.”

“Oh, it will be lovely! Dick, you’re splendid to think of it all!”

The twins joined hands and jumped up and down, as was their custom when
greatly pleased with each other. Then the aunties came in, and they all
went to breakfast.

The children told their plan for the yard around the house, and the
ladies agreed that it would be lovely.

“I’ll help you to make a pond, Dickie,” said Aunt Penninah, “like one I
had when _I_ was a little girl. That dates farther back than Aunt
Rachel’s childhood.”

“How do you make a pond?” asked Dick, not much interested in comparative
dates of past Danas.

“We must get a piece of mirror,—without a frame, you know,—and put it
in the middle of your grass plot, and then put pretty stones or shells
round the edge of the mirror, and it looks just like water.”

“And little tin ducks on it,” shouted Dick, “like a real pond! Oh,
Auntie, that will be tip-top!”

“And I’ll make you a pond on the other side of your house,” put in Aunt
Abbie, “of real water. In a big flat pan, you know; and little sprigs of
fern all round the edge.”

“All right; we’ll have both,” declared Dick. “I don’t know which’ll be
nicest, they’re both so splendid. And I’ll make a little boat to sail on
the water. I can whittle it out of a stick.”

“And I’ll make a sail for it.” said Aunt Abbie, “and we’ll rig up a
sail-boat.”

Such interest did the aunts take in the cottage yard, it was almost as
if they were children too, and Dick and Dolly became more and more
enraptured with the wonderful things they made.

Aunt Abbie fashioned a little hammock with her crochet needle and some
green and white cord. When she put fringe along its edges, and suspended
it from two evergreen trees in the “yard,” Dolly thought she had never
seen anything so cunning. Two little dolls were put into it, and the
nurse doll was set to swing them until they fell asleep. Michael, who
was greatly pleased with the whole affair, fashioned a tiny arbour just
like their own in their playground outside. It was made of tiny twigs,
and when the gardener brought it in, as his offering to the general
gaiety, it was accepted with hilarious thanks. Very small green vines
were twisted about it, and tiny blossoms of forget-me-not or
lilies-of-the-valley were entwined. But the little flowerets faded so
soon that Aunt Abbie made some diminutive roses of pink tissue paper,
which would stay fresh all summer.

Many plans were made for future additional beauties, and the little
estate grew rapidly to an elaborate country place, when Michael declared
that he should build a barn for it. This announcement was heralded with
delight, and for many days, Michael spent all his spare time in the
tool-house, Dick and Dolly bobbing about him, and helping or hindering
as best they could.

The barn, when done, was a grand affair indeed. Not of very elaborate
architecture, but provided with stables, carriage house, feed bins, and
even a chicken coop.

Again Aunt Nine took the twins to town on a shopping expedition, and
this time they returned with all the four-legged and two-legged toys
necessary to complete the barn’s use and beauty. Also there were
carriages for the dolls to drive in, and sleighs, too, for in doll land
the lack of snow makes no difference in the sleighing season.

Aunt Penninah’s visit of a week lengthened out to a fortnight, but not
until the last tiny carriage robe was finished, and the last hat and
cape made for the smallest doll, did Aunt Nine make her farewells to
Dana Dene.

And, then, she went away, promising to return for another visit as soon
as possible, and insisting on a promise that the twins should some day
visit her in her own home.



                              CHAPTER XVII


                        THE FATE OF DANA COTTAGE


Pinkie was enraptured at her first sight of Dana Cottage. She sat down
in front of it and gazed in silence, seemingly unable to take it all in
at once.

“Well,” she said at last, “it’s a lovely home for dolls, but wouldn’t it
be a fine place for fairies?”

Dolly laughed, for she hadn’t the firm belief in fairies that Pinkie
had. Dolls were good enough for her, and as Pinkie loved dolls too, they
spent many happy hours with the playhouse.

Sometimes Dick and Jack played with them, and sometimes the boys went
off on their own sports, while the girls were absorbed in the dolls’
house.

One afternoon the boys were busily engaged in making and flying kites,
and the girls, up in the playroom, were having lots of fun with Dana
Cottage, but paused in their play frequently, to run and look out of the
window to see how the kites were flying.

“I don’t believe they’ll ever make them go,” said Pinkie, as she and
Dolly leaned out of the playroom window. “The kites are too big.”

“Then they’ll have to trim ’em off, or make smaller ones,” said Dolly,
philosophically. “I don’t see any fun in kite-flying anyway, just
because they ’most never do fly.”

“Wouldn’t it be funny,” said Pinkie, “if you could fly a kite,
’way—’way up in the air, and then pull it down again, and find a whole
lot of fairies perched on it?”

“Yes; that would be fine. But fairies don’t live up in the air.”

“No; they live in the woods, hidden by the ferns and leaves. I wish I
could ever see them.”

“Well, you can’t, ’cause they only come out at night. You can’t go to
the woods at night, can you?”

“I will, when I’m grown up. ’Course, mother won’t let me now, but when
I’m big, the first thing I’m going to do is to go to the woods, and camp
out all night, and watch for fairies.”

“All right; I’ll go with you. We’ll surely see them then.”

“Yes, indeed, we will. Oh, I wish we could go now!”

“Well, we can’t. Aunt Rachel wouldn’t let me, and I know your mother
wouldn’t let you. Come on, those kites will never fly; let’s go on with
the party.”

The doll family in Dana Cottage were giving a very grand party. As there
were no other dolls to invite, Pinkie and Dolly had made a lot of paper
dolls for the guests. These were not elaborate, being hastily cut from
brown paper, but they wanted a lot of guests, so they chopped out a
multitude of dolls, and stood them around in the various rooms of the
doll house.

“I wish we’d made them prettier,” said Dolly, regretfully, for her
artistic sense was jarred upon by the crude brown paper guests in the
dainty, pretty rooms.

“So do I,” agreed Pinkie. “Let’s dress them up a little, somehow.”

So they found colored tissue paper, and bedecked the dolls with floating
sashes and scarfs and head-dresses, until they presented a much more
festive appearance.

“That’s lots better,” declared Dolly, as they placed the improved ladies
and gentlemen at the party. So many did they have, that the parlour was
filled with dancers, and the dining-room with supper guests at the same
time.

Pinkie was of a realistic turn of mind, and insisted on having bits of
real cracker or cake or apple in the dishes on the table, and real water
in the pitchers and coffee pots on the sideboard.

Dolly was quite content to have scraps of paper for cakes, or even empty
dishes filled merely with imagination, but when Pinkie played with her
they usually had real things wherever possible.

The china dolls of the family, and the paper guests kept up a continuous
conversation, and the voices were either Pinkie’s or Dolly’s as occasion
required. A deep, gruff voice represented a gentleman talking, and a
high, squeaky voice, a lady.

“What a beautiful party we’re having,” said a brown paper man in Dolly’s
deepest chest tones.

“Yes,” squeaked a lovely lady, in light blue crinkled tissue paper.
“Please get me a glass of lemonade.”

The brown gentleman deftly poured about two drops of water from a tiny
pitcher into a tinier cup, and gallantly offered it to the lady.

It accidentally soaked her tissue paper scarf, as she drank it, but two
drops wouldn’t hurt anybody’s costume seriously, so the incident was
overlooked, and the gay chatter went on.

“Are you going to opera to-morrow night?” asked one bewitching belle of
another.

“Oh, yes,” was the reply. “I’m so fond of music. I practise an hour
every day.”

“So do I. I’m learning to sing, too. That’s why I wear this boa, I have
to take such care of my throat.”

“Are you warm enough here?” inquired the china hostess, who overheard
her paper guests’ conversation; “because, if you aren’t, we can light a
fire for you.”

“I do feel a little chilly,” began the paper belle, and then Pinkie’s
voice suddenly resumed its natural tones:

“Oh, Dolly, let’s make a fire in the little stove,—a _real_ fire. You
said your aunt used to do it.”

“Yes, she did,” said Dolly. “Do you know how?”

“Why, yes; you only put in snips of paper and light ’em. The smoke goes
out through the pipe.”

Carefully, the girls put crumpled bits of paper into the little iron
stove, and then Dolly brought a match.

“You light it,” she said, and Pinkie struck the match, and touched off
the paper.

They shut the tiny stove door, and the paper blazed away merrily. Some
smoke came out through the tin pipe, but there wasn’t much of it, and as
the windows of the playroom were all wide open, the smoke soon drifted
away.

This was a great game indeed, and the guests from the parlour all
crowded down into the dining-room to get warm.

There was much laughing and chatter, as the paper dolls came down to the
dining-room, and packed themselves in groups against the walls.

“Oh, how good that fire feels,” exclaimed a lady in pink paper. “Why,
it’s all gone out!”

It was astonishing how fast the paper in the stove burned itself out,
and the girls had to renew it repeatedly, and light it afresh each time.

“I’m ’bout tired of playing this,” said Pinkie; “let’s make one more
fire and that’ll be the last. It’s getting awful hot.”

“Yes, make one more,” said Dolly, “for Mrs. Obbercrombie has just come
down to get warm.”

“All right; stand her up by the stove.”

Pinkie touched off the newly-laid fire, and Dolly stood paper Mrs.
Obbercrombie up near the stove; so near, in fact, that the lady fell
over against it.

Dolly reached out to pick her up, but her finger touched the hot stove,
and she drew it back with an “Ouch!” The little stove, from the burning
of much paper, was nearly red-hot, and when the paper doll fell over
against it, she blazed up immediately.

Then the paper dolls nearest her caught fire at once, and in two seconds
the paper dolls were all ablaze. The tissue paper scarfs communicated
the flames like tinder; the thicker paper of the dolls themselves burned
steadily, and in a few moments the curtains caught, then the wooden
house itself, and as the breeze from the open windows fanned it, a real
conflagration of Dana Cottage ensued!

Soon the paper grass in the cottage yard caught fire, and the wooden
animals served as further fuel.

Dolly, her smarting finger still in her mouth, was too frightened even
to scream, but Pinkie showed real presence of mind.

She grasped a pitcher of water from the table, and dashed it into the
burning house. This was good as far as it went, but it merely checked
the flames in one room, and there was no more water about. Then Pinkie
seized the big rug from the floor, with intent to throw it over the
house. But it was so anchored with heavy tables and other furniture
that, of course, she could not budge it.

“Oh!” she gasped at last. “Do something, Dolly! Yell, can’t you? I don’t
seem to have any voice!”

Sure enough, poor little Pinkie was so frightened that her voice had
failed her, and Dolly was so frightened, she couldn’t _think_ what to
do.

So, at Pinkie’s suggestion, she yelled, and Dolly’s yell was that of a
young, sound pair of lungs.

“Auntie!” she screamed. “Michael!” But as the playroom was on the third
floor, and the aunts were down in the library, they did not hear her.
Nor were the servants within ear-shot, so poor Dolly screamed in vain.

But as the flames grew bigger and threatened the window curtains of the
playroom, Dolly shouted again, and this time a wild, despairing shriek
of “Dick!” seemed to be her last resort.

And, by chance, the boys, with their kites, were not far from the house,
and they heard the cry ring out of the playroom window.

“Hello, Dolly!” shouted Dick, back again, not thinking of danger, but
merely supposing Dolly was calling to him.

His voice reached Dolly’s ears like a promise of hope, and flying to the
window, where the curtains were already scorching, she screamed, “Fire,
Dick! Call Michael! Pat! Bring water! Fire! Fire!”

Even as Dolly shouted, Dick and Jack saw the flames, and Dick cried out,
“I’ll go for Michael; you go upstairs, Jack, and screech for Aunt Rachel
as you go.”

So the two Dana ladies were startled from their quiet reading, by seeing
Jack Fuller dash madly in at the front door, and whipping off his cap by
instinct, almost pause, as he said politely, but hastily, “Please, Miss
Rachel,—good-afternoon. Your house is on fire! Excuse me!” and he ran
breathlessly by the library door and up the stairs.

He couldn’t do a thing when he reached the playroom, for the flames were
beyond the efforts of a ten-year-old boy.

But Dolly, who had found her wits, cried, “Pull down the curtains,” and
she and Jack bravely pulled down a pair of light muslin curtains that
had already begun to burn. They stamped on these, and so extinguished
their flames, and Pinkie, in her excitement, pulled down another pair
and stamped on them, although they had not caught fire at all, and,
indeed, were in no danger of it.

But by that time, Michael and Pat had arrived. Passing the trembling
aunties on the lower landing, they tore upstairs, and Dick followed
closely at their heels.

Michael took in the situation at one glance.

“Take holt av the table,” he said to Pat, and the two strong men hustled
the big table off the rug. Then they flung aside the chairs and other
furniture that held the rug down, and, picking up the big carpet, flung
it over the burning playhouse. The house toppled over with a crash, and
the men trampled on the whole pile.

They smashed everything belonging to Dana Cottage, but it was the only
way to conquer the flames, and Michael did not hesitate.

“Keep it up!” he said to Pat, and as Pat obediently stamped his big feet
about, Michael turned to other parts of the room.

He stepped on a few smouldering papers, he pinched out a tiny flame in a
curtain ruffle, and he threw a small rug over an already blazing
waste-basket.

He unceremoniously pushed aside any children who got in his way, for
Michael was very much in earnest. And he had reason to be. His prompt
and speedy action had probably saved the whole house from burning down,
and after he was sure there was no lurking flame left anywhere, he
turned to the two ladies, who stood white-faced and trembling on the
threshold.

“All right, Miss Rachel,” he said, cheerily; “the baby-house is done
for, but we’ve saved Dana Dene from burnin’ up intirely.”

“Is everybody safe?” asked Miss Rachel, bewildered with the suddenness
and terror of it all.

“Safe an’ sound, ma’am. Now, don’t dishturb yersilves further, but you
an’ Miss Abbie an’ the childher go back downstairs, an’ me an’ Pat’ll be
afther cleanin’ up some here.”

“But Dolly is burned!” cried Miss Abbie, seeing Dolly still holding out
her blistered finger, and screwing her face in pain.

“No,” said Dolly, “I did that before the fire. It’s nothing.”

“It’s an awful blister,” said Dick, looking at it. “But how did the fire
start, Dollums? Did you do it?”

“Yes,” said Dolly, “but I didn’t mean to burn up the cottage.” And then,
as Michael and Pat were removing the big rug, and she saw the dreadful
devastation of the beautiful dolls’ house, she burst into paroxysms of
weeping.

Pinkie did the same, and as the aunts were both softly crying, too, Dick
and Jack had to be very careful lest they join the majority.

“Go downstairs, all of yez,” said Michael, again, who had, by reason of
his common sense, assumed dictatorship. “Oh, are ye there, Hannah? Take
the ladies down, and mend up Miss Dolly’s finger. Boys, ye can shtay, if
ye like, but the rest of yez must go.”

Obediently, the aunties followed Hannah, who led the weeping Dolly, and
with Pinkie trailing along behind, they went downstairs.

“Now, boys,” said Michael, “ye can help if ye like, an’ ye needn’t, if
ye don’t like. Pat an’ me, we’ll clear out this burnt shtuff, but
Mashter Dick, suppose ye look about now, an’ see if anny of the toys is
worth savin’.”

So Dick and Jack picked out some few things that the flames hadn’t
destroyed. But only china or metal toys escaped utter destruction, and
these were so smoked and charred, that they weren’t much good. Pinkie’s
hat and jacket were scorched, but Jack laid them aside, and the work of
salvage went on.

“There now, ye’d betther go,” said Michael; “ye’re good boys, an’ ye’ve
helped a lot, but now, me’n Pat, we’ll cart this shtuff down oursilves.
An’ be the same token, I’m thinkin’ we’ll dump it out the windy,—that
bein’ the quickest way.”

So Dick and Jack ran downstairs, really anxious to join the girls and
find out how it all came about.



                             CHAPTER XVIII


                             A LOVELY PLAN


When the boys reached the group assembled in the library, Dolly had
just begun to tell the story of the fire.

Up to that time, the aunts had been employed in dressing the burned
finger, and in recovering their own mental poise.

“You see,” Dolly was saying, “it was an accident, Aunt Rachel, but it
_wasn’t_ mischief, for you told me yourself how you used to make a fire
in that little stove.”

“Oh,” said Aunt Rachel, comprehending at last. “Did you girls make a
fire in the playhouse stove?”

“Yes’m; the pipe was up, you know, and it burned all right,—it hardly
smoked at all. Then one of the paper dolls fell against it and set fire
to all the rest.”

“The stove got so awful hot,” observed Pinkie, “and it was trying to
pick up that paper doll that Dolly burned her finger.”

“And upset the stove?” asked Aunt Abbie.

“No, Auntie, the stove didn’t upset. But Mrs. Obbercrombie caught
ablaze, and then she fell over against the other paper people, and they
all flared up.”

“Whew, Dolly!” exclaimed Dick. “Then you kindled that whole fire
yourself! You ought to have known better than to stuff a place with
paper dolls and then set a match to it!”

“But I didn’t, Dick,” declared Dolly. “The fire was all right at first,
only it kept making the little stove hotter and hotter, until it went
off.”

“Well, it’s lucky Dick heard you yell,” put in Jack, “or the whole of
the big house would have burned as well as the little one.”

“I don’t know what to say to you, Dolly,” said Aunt Rachel. “I remember
that I did tell you I used to have a fire in that stove, but I only
burned a tiny bit of paper and let it go right out. I never thought of a
continued fire. And I really think you ought to have realised the danger
of a fire near so much light paper.”

“Why, I never once thought of that, Aunt Rachel. I never s’posed fire
could jump through an iron stove, and burn up a paper doll! I thought if
we kept the little door shut, the flames would stay inside.”

“Oh, Dolly,” said Aunt Abbie, smiling a little in spite of herself, “you
should have known better. But you’re not entirely to blame. We did tell
you that we used to have real fire in that stove, but father was always
with us to look after it. Children should _never_ play with fire alone.”

“Why didn’t you tell me that before, Aunt Abbie?” said Dolly, looking at
her with a gentle reproach in her big dark eyes. “If you had, I’d have
called you up, ’fore we lit it the first time!”

“Phyllis,” said Miss Rachel, turning to the little guest, “does your
mother let you play with fire.”

“Why, no, Miss Rachel,” said Pinkie, in surprise. “But then, mother
never lets us do any of the things you let Dick and Dolly do. We haven’t
any garden or arbour or Lady Eliza or playhouse——”

At this, both Pinkie and Dolly began to cry afresh, for they remembered
that now Dolly had no playhouse either! That beautiful house and barn
and lawn and ponds,—all a mass of black, smoking ruins!

Dolly flew to her Aunt Rachel and buried her head on her broad,
comforting shoulder as she sobbed out her woe.

“Oh, Auntie,” she wailed; “isn’t it dreadful! Those lovely little beds
and bureaus, and the dolls Aunt Nine dressed,—and the looking-glass
lake, and that little spotted pig,—he was _so_ cunning,—and the gilt
clock in the parlour,—oh—ooh—o-o-ooh!”

“There, dearie, there, there,——” soothed Miss Rachel, wondering
whether Aunt Nine would think Dolly ought to be punished, and if so,
what for.

“I wasn’t naughty, was I, Auntie?” went on Dolly, between her sobs. “I
wouldn’t be so naughty as to burn up my dear playhouse on purpose!”

“Of course you didn’t do it on purpose, dear; and I don’t believe you
were really naughty. But never mind that, now. Even if you were, you’re
punished enough by the loss of the playhouse.”

“Yes, I think I am. We were having _such_ fun, Pinkie and I. And,
Auntie, it wasn’t a bit Pinkie’s fault either. We wouldn’t either of us
have thought of making a fire, if you hadn’t said we could. I mean, you
said you used to do it.”

“Yes, Dolly, dear; I fully realise how it all happened, and I’m not
going to blame either you or Phyllis. I think you should have known it
was a dangerous pastime, but if you’ll promise never to play with fire
or matches again, we’ll count this affair merely as an accident. But it
was a pretty bad accident, and I’m very thankful that only the playhouse
was burned. I shudder to think what might have happened to you two
little girls!”

“And to the whole house!” said Miss Abbie. “If Dick hadn’t heard you
scream, and if Michael and Pat hadn’t been at home, we might have no
roof over our heads now!”

Then Phyllis and Jack went home, and the others went up to the playroom,
to see what was left in the ruins. Michael and Pat were still cleaning
up, but the whole room had been more or less affected by the smoke, if
not by the flame.

The rug, being a thick, Oriental one, had not suffered much, but the
wallpaper and woodwork were sadly marred, the curtains were a wreck, and
the furniture was scratched and broken.

As to the playhouse, the actual framework was fairly intact, except
where the dining-room had been burned away, but it was blackened and
charred everywhere.

Miss Rachel directed the men to take it to the cellar, and leave it
there for the present.

“Sometime,” she said, “we may have it rebuilt and re-decorated, but I
can’t seem to think about it just now. Do you want to keep any of these
things, Dolly?”

Dolly looked over the half-burned toys that Dick and Jack had picked out
of the ruins, and more tears came as she recognised what had been the
blue satin sofa, and the baby’s crib.

“No, I don’t want them,” she said; “they only make me feel worse.”

Then they found the little stove, that had been the immediate cause of
the catastrophe. It was unharmed, except that it looked dull instead of
shiny, as before.

“I think you’d better set this on the mantel, Dolly,” said Aunt Abbie,
“to remind you not to play with fire.”

“I’ll never play with fire again, Auntie,” said Dolly. “But I will put
it on the mantel, to remind me of my dear playhouse. Oh, I did love it
so!”

Dolly had a great fondness for all her belongings, and the playhouse,
with its myriad delights was her dearest and best beloved possession.

“It’s too bad, Dollums,” said Dick. “If Aunt Rachel ever does decide to
have the house done over, I’ll do the yard all over again for you.”

“An’ I’ll make yez a new barn,” said Michael, who was just removing the
burned remnants of the old one; “but I can’t be doin’ it this summer;
there’s too much other wurrk. Next winter, when the wurrk is lighter,
I’ll have a thry at it.”

And none of them felt like doing right over again the work they had done
so recently, so the burned-out cottage was put in the cellar, and stayed
there for a long time. The playroom itself had to be done over at once.

A carpenter had to come first, and replace the burned window sill, where
the curtains had blazed up; then the paper-hangers and painters; so that
it was several weeks before the room could be used.

Meantime, Dick and Dolly played out in their out-of-doors playground.

It was now late in May, and the flowering vines had almost covered the
long arbour, making a delightful place to sit and read, or make things
at the table. The twins loved to make things, and often they thought
they’d make furniture for the renovated playhouse, but it’s hard to do
things so far ahead, and so they didn’t get at it.

Fortunately Lady Eliza had been on the other side of the playroom during
the fire, so had escaped without even a scorch.

But Dick and Dolly played she was a great heroine, and often
congratulated her on her narrow escape from the fearful conflagration.
They never grew tired of Lady Eliza. She was useful for so many games,
and all the children who visited the twins learned to look upon Eliza as
one of their own crowd.

“Let’s have a party for Eliza,” said Dolly, one day, as she and Dick
were working in their gardens. “Oh, Dick, there’s a thrush! Sh! don’t
frighten him.”

Silently the children watched, as a thrush perched on a nearby branch,
and sang his best musical selection. There is more sentiment in a
thrush’s song than in that of any other of our birds, and though the
twins didn’t recognise exactly that fact, they loved to listen to the
thrush.

It was their habit, after carefully watching a bird, to look it up in
their big, illustrated “Birds of North America,” and learn its name and
habits.

“That’s a Hermit Thrush,” whispered Dolly. “See the lots of spots on his
chest.”

“Maybe,” said Dick, softly; “but I think it’s the Olive-Backed Thrush.
See how brown his back and tail are.”

“Yes, perhaps it is. Listen to his call,—he says ‘Whee-oo! Too-whee!’
We must look him up to make sure. Oh, there comes a robin after him! Now
they’ll fight!”

“Go ’way, you horrid thing!” called Dick to the big, fat Robin
Redbreast, but unheeding, the robin flew at the thrush, and bothered
him, until the thrush flew away, and Dick and Dolly saw it no more.

“I think it’s too bad robins are so cross,” said Dolly, “and they’re so
pretty, too. I’d love them, if they wouldn’t pick-peck at the other
birds.”

“They are horrid,” said Dick; “but if we didn’t have robins, we wouldn’t
have much of anything. There are so few of the other birds,—’ceptin’
sparrows.”

“That’s so; well, as I was saying before the thrush came, let’s give
Lady Eliza a party.”

“Let’s ask Aunt Rachel first,” said Dick.

The twins were learning to ask permission beforehand, when they planned
anything out of the ordinary. This had already saved them trouble, and
the aunts were already congratulating themselves that the children were
learning to “think.”

“Yes, we will. But don’t let’s go in now. Let’s plan it, and then we’ll
ask auntie before we really do anything about it.”

“Well, who’ll we invite?”

“That’s ’cordin’ how big the party is. If Auntie Rachel ’grees, let’s
have a big party, ’bout a dozen, you know. And if she thinks bestest,
we’ll only have Pinkie and Jack.”

“But what’ll make it Eliza’s party?”

“Why, we’ll ask each child to bring a doll or something, so’s to be
comp’ny for her.”

“Boys can’t bring dolls.”

“I know; I’m thinking. Well, the boys can bring Teddy bears, or rocking
horses or anything that isn’t alive, and that part of it’ll be ’Liza’s
party, and the people part will be ours.”

“Sounds good enough. Where’ll we have it?”

“Here, of course; in the playground. We’ll fix it all up partified, and
have Japanese lanterns and everything.”

“We can’t have ’em lighted. It’ll have to be a daytime party.”

“I don’t know. Maybe auntie will let us have it ‘four to seven.’ We can
light the lanterns by six. It’s ’most dark then.”

“All right. Let’s go ask her now, ’fore we plan any further. It’d be
horrid to get it all fixed up and then have her say ‘No.’”

The twins clasped hands and ran toward the house. Dolly’s golden tangle
of curls bobbed up and down in the breeze, and Dick’s dark ringlets
clustered tighter on his brow, as his face flushed with the exercise,
but they ran evenly and swiftly together, keeping perfect step as they
flew over the ground.

Bang! In at the library door they went, and tumbled upon Aunt Rachel,
who sat in her usual chair, placidly holding her hands.

“Oh, Auntie, may we——” gasped Dick, and, “Oh, Auntie, the loveliest
plan!” panted Dolly, when they suddenly realised their aunt was not
alone.

A lady was calling, a lady very much dressed up and formal-looking, who
eyed the children with some severity and much curiosity.

But Dick and Dolly had not proved dull pupils in the matter of etiquette
as taught in Heatherton households. By no means. As quickly as a soldier
stands “at attention,” they stood up straight, advanced decorously to
the lady, and Dolly made her most careful courtesy, while Dick bowed
correctly.

“How do you do, Mrs. Witherbee?” they said, in decorous tones, and
though they were flushed and warm from their run, and just the least
mite out of breath, they reflected no discredit on their aunts by
boisterous or informal behaviour.

Aunt Rachel and Aunt Abbie sat proudly watching them, silently grateful
for the twins’ exhibition of good manners, for Heatherton matrons were
critical of other people’s children, and Mrs. Witherbee was one of the
most particular of all.

“You may go,” said Aunt Rachel to the twins, after they had been duly
questioned by the visitor, and with proper ceremonies of farewell, the
twins noiselessly left the room.

“Well, I ’spect we behaved all right that time,” said Dick, as they
strolled back to the garden.

“Yes, I promised Aunt Rachel I’d ’member my manners carefuller ’n ever.
She does love to have us be polite.”

“I know it; and it isn’t much trouble, after you get used to it.”

It seemed as if Mrs. Witherbee never would finish her call, but it was
really only about ten minutes later, when the twins saw her carriage
drive away. Again they raced to the house, this time to find the aunties
alone and expecting them.

“Well, what’s it all about?” said Miss Abbie, after both ladies had been
treated to a fine demonstration of regard and esteem.

“Why, we want to have a party,” began Dick.

“For Lady Eliza,” broke in Dolly; “she’s never had a party, and she’d
just love one. How many do you think we’d better ask?”

“A party! For Eliza!” said Aunt Rachel, helplessly. “What do you mean?”

“Yes, a party. Girls and boys, you know, and Teddy Bears, and dolls, and
everybody bring something.”

“Bring something! to eat?” exclaimed Aunt Abbie, in dismay, for it
sounded like a general picnic.

“Oh, no, not to eat!” explained Dolly; “but to be company for Eliza,
’cause it’s her party. And if you say so, we’ll only have Pinkie and
Jack, but we’d like to have more.”

“Tell us about it more slowly,” suggested Aunt Abbie; “and don’t both
talk at once.”

“You tell, Dick,” said Dolly. “You can talk slower ’n I can.”

“Well,” said Dick, “we thought it would be fun to have a party of about
a dozen boys and girls, but have it for Lady Eliza’s party,—just for
fun, you know.”

“And what’s this about bears?”

“Yes; have each boy and girl bring a doll or a bear, or a hobby horse or
a Jack-in-the-box, or anything like that, so it will be Eliza’s party
too.”

“Oh, I begin to see,” said Aunt Rachel. “I like the party idea; I’ve
been thinking you children might have a little party. But the Eliza part
of it is crazy.”

“Oh, no, it isn’t, Auntie,” said Dolly, who was patting her aunt on both
cheeks as she talked. “You see, all the boys and girls love Lady Eliza
’most as much as we do. And they’d be glad to have it be her party,
too.”

“Well, we’ll have to talk it over, and see about it,” said Miss Rachel;
“but now it’s time for you to run and get ready for tea.”

“All right, Auntie. But _do_ decide soon, for Eliza is _so_ impatient to
know.”

“Tell her she’ll have to wait, Dolly. But I’ll let her know by
to-morrow, if that will do.”

“Yes, Auntie, that will do, I’m sure;” and with a final pat and a kiss,
Dolly skipped away.



                              CHAPTER XIX


                             THE BIG CHIEF


After further discussion, and some coaxing on the part of the twins,
Miss Rachel decided that the party, though of course for Dick and Dolly,
might be nominally for Lady Eliza. And so they made up an invitation
like this, and Miss Abbie wrote them in her neat hand:

                            Miss Dolly Dana
                            Master Dick Dana
                                  and
                          Lady Eliza Dusenbury
                        request the pleasure of
                        Miss Phyllis Middleton’s
                                company
                         on Thursday afternoon
                       from four to seven o’clock
                             at Dana Dene.
                You are invited to bring a friend whose
                      company will be congenial to
                            the Lady Eliza.

“Aren’t they the greatest ever!” exclaimed Dick, dancing about the table
where Aunt Abbie was writing the notes.

“I doubt if those who are invited will know what that last clause
means,” said Aunt Abbie.

“Oh, yes, they will, for we’ll tell them,” said Dolly. “Of course we’ll
see them all between now and the party. There’s a whole week, you know.
I’ll tell every one to bring a doll or something for Eliza’s part of the
party. And she must have a new dress, auntie.”

“Yes; something gay and festive, of course. What would you like?”

“Pink tarlatan,” said Dolly, promptly. “With lots of ruffles, and a lace
bertha, and a pink sash, and let her wear my pink coral beads. Oh,
Auntie! won’t she look just sweet!”

“And flowers in her hair,” chimed in Dick; “and a big, big bouquet, in
her hand. Whew! She’ll be a stunner!”

As tarlatan was an inexpensive material, and easy to make up, Aunt Abbie
humoured Dolly’s whim, and Lady Eliza had a beautiful new frock for the
occasion.

Dolly herself picked out just the right shade of watermelon pink, and
she helped a little, too, gathering flounces, and running up breadths,
but Aunt Abbie made most of the pretty gown, and it didn’t take very
long either.

It was to be worn over one of Aunt Abbie’s own lace-trimmed petticoats,
and two whole days before the party, Eliza was dressed and set away in
the guest room to await the hour.

“I believe I’ll send an invitation to Aunt Nine,” said Dolly, as they
were making out the list of those who were to be invited. “I don’t
s’pose she could come, but I think it would be nice to ask her, don’t
you, Aunt Rachel?”

“Why, yes, dear; send one, if you like. Though, as you say, of course
she won’t come, yet I think she’ll appreciate your thought of her.”

So one invitation was sent to Miss Penninah Dana, and twelve more were
sent to boys and girls in Heatherton.

Every one of the dozen accepted, and after conversation on the subject
with Dick and Dolly, they quite understood about the extra guests they
were to bring.

But they were very secret about them.

“I won’t tell you,” said Jack Fuller, giggling, “but I’m going to bring
the funniest person you ever saw! Oh, I know Lady Eliza will be
pleased!”

And Pinkie declared that her guest would be the “belle of the ball.”

All these secrets greatly whetted the twins’ curiosity, and they could
think of nothing but the coming party. A few days before the event they
received a letter from Aunt Penninah, expressing her regret that she
could not be with them. In it was also a letter addressed to Lady Eliza
Dusenbury. Chuckling with glee, the twins tore it open and read:

    “LADY ELIZA DUSENBURY:

    “Most charming and beautiful lady, I salute you. To your party I
    come, and there with you at Dana Dene will I ever after remain.
    As your friend and protector I will stand ever by your side.
    Unless, however, you should attack me with a carving knife (as
    is sometimes your playful habit), in which case, I will run away
    and never return. Expect me on Thursday, by express. Your true
    friend,

                                                   “SASKATCHEWAN.”

“Oh,” cried Dick, “it’s an Indian doll! Saskatchewan is an Indian name,
you know. Won’t it be fun?”

“Yes,” cried his twin. “And do you suppose Aunt Nine dressed it herself,
in wigwam and feathers?”

“Ho, ho! Dolly. You mean wampum, not wigwam!”

“Well, it’s all the same; I don’t care. Oh, I wish Saskatchewan would
come. I’m crazy to see him!”

“So’m I. Do you s’pose the box’ll come addressed to Lady Eliza
Dusenbury, Dana Dene?”

“No, I guess it’ll be addressed to Aunt Rachel, or maybe to us. What
does Dene mean, auntie?”

“Dene?”

“Yes, Dana Dene, you know?”

“Why, Dana Dene is the name of our place, you know. Not only the house,
but the whole estate.”

“Yes’m; I know it. But what does Dene mean? Just as a word?”

“Oh, well, it doesn’t mean anything nowadays, just as a word. But in old
times, long ago, it meant den or cave.”

“Well, this house isn’t a cave.”

“No,” said Miss Rachel, laughing. “We’re not cave-dwellers. But long
ago, there was another house where this stands now. You know, this
estate has been in our family for many generations.”

“And was the other house a cave?” asked Dick, with vague visions of
primitive ancestors floating through his mind.

“No, of course not! The name cave came from the fact that there was a
deep den or cave somewhere on the place.”

“Where is it?”

“I don’t know, Dicky. It may be only tradition, or there may have been a
real cave, now filled up or covered over. I suppose it is in the
woodland part, if it’s anywhere.”

“But it must be somewhere, Aunt Rachel,” persisted Dick. “If they, my
great-grand-fathers, I mean, named the place Dana Dene because of a big
den, the den must be here yet.”

“Well, perhaps it is, child, but it hasn’t been seen or heard of for
many years, anyway. You may hunt for it, if you like, but I doubt if
you’ll find it.”

“Come on Dollums,” cried Dick, jumping up. “Let’s go and look for it. It
would be lots of fun if we could find it in time for the party!”

“Indeed it would not!” returned their aunt. “Find it if you want to, but
don’t play in it on the day of the party. I’d like you to keep
yourselves tidy on that occasion, and not go burrowing in caves. But
I’ve no idea you’ll find it. For, a cave that hasn’t been used for over
a hundred years, is likely to be filled up with earth and leaves. It
has, probably, entirely disappeared.”

“Well, we’ll have the fun of hunting,” said Dick, and away went the
twins on their new quest.

Michael and Pat were first interviewed.

“Did you ever see a cave or a den anywhere about the place?” they
inquired.

“Cave, is it?” said Michael. “Faith an’ I didn’t. Whativer are yez up to
now?”

“Oh, think!” cried Dick, impatiently. “Didn’t you see one, Pat, when you
were mowing the grass, or anything like that? Digging, you know.”

“I did not. There’s no cave around these diggin’s, unless so be it’s in
the woods. There may be a dozen caves in thim six acres of woodland.”

The twins were disappointed. It seemed a forlorn hope to try to
investigate six acres of doubtful territory.

“But do yez go and look,” said Michael. “It’s jist what ye need to use
up yer extry energy. Yer so cockylorum about yer party, that ye need a
scape valve fer yer overflowin’ sperrits. Go, now, an’ hunt yer cave.”

“Come on, Dolly,” said Dick. “We can’t do anything for the party,
there’s nothing for us to do. So we may as well go to the woods.”

“All right. I’d just as lieve go, and if the cave is there, I should
think we’d see it.”

“Av coorse ye will,” said Michael, grinning. “First, ye’ll see a
signboard, wid a finger pointien’ ‘This way to the Big Cave,’ thin ye go
right along to the entrance.”

“An’ pay yer quarter to the gateman, an’ walk in,” supplemented Pat.

The twins never minded the good-natured chaff of these two Irishmen, and
they only laughed, as hand in hand they trotted away.

They had been often to the wood, but heretofore they had noticed only
the trees and the stones and the low-growing vegetation. Now they
carefully examined the formation of the ground, and any
suspicious-looking hollow or mound.

“Maybe it was a smuggler’s cave,” said Dick, “and in it perhaps are lots
of things they smuggled and hid away.”

“Yes, I s’pect so,” said Dolly, who was of an amiable nature, and quite
willing to agree with Dick’s opinions, whenever she had no knowledge to
the contrary.

“Or maybe it’s a fairy cave,” she added. “That would be more likely,
’cause I think these are awful fairyish woods.”

“Why do you? You’ve never seen a fairy in ’em.”

“No, but I ’most have. I’ve seen lots of places where they come out and
dance at night. Pinkie shows ’em to me.”

“Pooh, she doesn’t know for sure.”

“No, not for sure. Nobody does. But she says most prob’ly that’s where
they dance. Do fairies ever live in caves, Dick?”

“Not ’zactly fairies. But dwarfs do, and gnomes and things like that?”

“Sprites?”

“Yes, I guess so. And brownies,—real brownies, I mean; not the
picture-book kind. Hello, Doll, here’s a place that looks cavy!”

Dick paused before a rough mass of soil and stones and mossy overgrowth,
that did seem to bear some resemblance to the blocked-up mouth of a
cave.

But it was just as much like a mere natural formation of ground, and
after digging and poking around with sticks, the children concluded it
was not a cave, after all.

“Oh, pshaw, we’ll never find a real cave, Dick; let’s go home. I’m
getting hungry.”

“So’m I. We can come back and hunt some other time. Aunt Rachel wouldn’t
let us play in it on party day, anyway.”

So back they went, and no one seemed surprised that they hadn’t
discovered a long-forgotten cave, perhaps full of hidden treasure.

The day before the party, Aunt Rachel and Aunt Abbie drove to town to
order the feast from the caterer’s.

The twins accompanied them, for the selection of the goodies was to be
partly left to their choice.

The caterer’s was a fascinating place, and Dick and Dolly exercised
great care and discretion in choosing the prettiest forms for the ices,
and the loveliest kinds of little fancy cakes, and the gayest sort of
snapping crackers.

The sandwiches and lemonade would be made at home, but all the rest of
the feast must be ordered, and Dick and Dolly were overwhelmed with
delight, as the aunties kept on adding bonbons, fruits, nuts, and all
sorts of delectable things to the long list.

“We never had such lovely parties at Auntie Helen’s,” said Dick,
reminiscently, as they drove home.

“We never had a real party there, anyway,” rejoined Dilly; “just only
little play-teas of an afternoon. This is different.”

“Yes,” said Miss Rachel, complacently, “this is a real party. It will be
one of the prettiest children’s parties ever given in Heatherton. That
is, if your foolish Eliza performance doesn’t spoil it.”

“Oh, that won’t spoil it, auntie,” said Dolly, confidently; “that will
only make it nicer.”

“Sure!” said Dick. “Just a boys’ and girls’ party wouldn’t be near so
much fun. Why, Auntie, Bob Hollister says he’s going to bring his Punch
and Judy, and Lucy Hollister has an awful big rag doll she’s going to
bring.”

“I think it will be funny,” said Aunt Abbie. “But you must leave all
those creatures out in the playground when you come in to supper.”

“Yes’m, we will,” agreed the twins.

The very morning of the party day an immense box came by express.

“Shure, it’s a big sofy, like your aunts has in the droring-room,” said
Michael, as he and Pat helped the expressman to take it from the wagon.

“No, it’s Saskatchewan!” shrieked Dick and Dolly, as they danced round
the box in glee. “Open it, Michael; oh, do hurry up!”

“Arrah, now, wait till I can get me sledgehammer,” and Michael went to
the tool-house for his strongest tools.

But after some diligent prying and hammering, the box was opened, and
buried in a nest of old newspaper and excelsior, was “Big Chief
Saskatchewan,” as a card tied to his wrist announced.

And if you please, instead of an Indian _doll_, he was a big wooden
Indian, of the kind that stands out in front of cigar stores. The
children screamed with glee, and even Michael and Pat exclaimed in
admiration as the heavy figure was finally set upright on his own
wheeled pedestal.

“Where do you suppose she ever got it?” said Aunt Rachel, as the two
aunts came out to view the new arrival.

“I don’t know, I’m sure,” said Miss Abbie, “but he does make a fine
companion for Lady Eliza.”

Saskatchewan, though a trifle weather-worn, was not marred or broken,
and the bundle of cigars had been cut away from his hand, and instead,
he held an Indian basket. But this was removable, and the twins saw at
once that they could put anything into his outstretched hand, from a
tomahawk to a pipe of peace. His blanket wrapped round him was painted
gorgeous red and yellow, and high-standing feathers surmounted his noble
brow. His expression was ferocious, but that was Indian nature, and Dick
and Dolly were so delighted with their new toy, that they embraced him
with the same vigorous affection they often showed their aunts. Then,
clasping hands with the aunties, the four danced round Saskatchewan and
bade him welcome to Dana Dene.

The Indian was too heavy to be moved around much though he could be
dragged, owing to the casters on the pedestal. But Aunt Rachel said she
thought he’d better be placed in the playground as a permanent
inhabitant thereof. For wind and weather would not hurt him, as it would
the more delicate Lady Eliza.

So Michael and Pat trundled the chief off to the playground, followed by
the admiring family.

He was given a choice position in a pleasant corner, and the twins said
they would build a bower over him some day.

“But we must make it big enough for two,” said Dolly, “so Lady Eliza can
stand beside him to receive their guests.”

“All right,” agreed Dick. “But I wish we could have it for this
afternoon. They’d look lovely under a bower.”

“So ye shall, thin,” said Michael. “Me an’ Pat, we’ll fix ye up a
timporary bower, that’ll gladden the eyes of ye,—that we will.”

So, the two kind-hearted men, anxious to please the children, hastily
erected a “bower” by making an arch of two-foot width “chicken-wire.”
This, when decorated with vines and flowers, was as pretty a bower as
one would wish to see, and Saskatchewan was placed beneath it, or rather
the bower was built over the Indian, where he stood awaiting the Lady
Eliza.



                               CHAPTER XX


                              A GAY PARTY


After dinner, the final preparations for the party were made.

The day was perfect, bright with sunshine, and not too warm.

Lady Eliza was taken out to the playground and introduced to her new
companion.

Her large blue eyes showed no especial emotion as she was placed beside
him, under the bower, nor did Saskatchewan seem at all embarrassed by
the presence of the lovely lady.

Eliza, in her ruffled pink tarlatan, and wreath of pink blossoms, was a
charming creature indeed, and she held gracefully a massive bouquet,
tied with pink ribbons, while her cavalier, held his Indian basket,
which had also been filled with flowers.

So entrancing were the pair, that Dick and Dolly could scarcely leave
them, to go and get on their own party raiment.

The playground, of course, had been specially adorned for the occasion.

Japanese lanterns hung from the trees, and rugs were laid here and
there, extra seats were provided, and everything was decked with flowers
and made gay with flags and bunting.

Truly, the Dana ladies knew how to arrange a gala occasion, and this
bade fair to be a fine one.

The twins at last scampered back to the house to dress, and Dolly was
beautifully arrayed in a new white frock of fine muslin and a broad
Roman sash.

Her curls were tied up with a Roman ribbon to match, and white stockings
and white slippers completed her costume.

Dick, too, had a new summer suit, and the twins promised the aunties not
to roll on the grass or do anything naughty or ridiculous.

“I know you mean to do just right,” said Aunt Rachel, as she kissed the
two beaming little faces, “but you know, you ‘don’t think,’ and then you
cut up some absurd dido, that makes a lot of trouble.”

The twins vowed they _would_ think, and they would _not_ “cut up
didoes,” and then they danced away to receive their guests, for it was
nearly four o’clock. Pinkie came first, of course.

She brought her biggest wax doll, which she had dressed up as a fairy.
The doll had a spangled white tulle frock on, and gauzy wings, and a
gilt paper crown, sparkling with diamond-dust. She carried a long gilt
wand, and was really a beautiful fairy.

A row of seats had been placed for Lady Eliza’s guests, and the fairy
was the first to be seated there. Jack Fuller came next, and he brought
a funny creature, which his mother had fashioned for him out of a
feather bolster. She had tied a string about it to form a head, and
this, covered with a pillowcase, had features worked in it with colored
embroidery cotton. Then the doll was dressed in a white dress of Mrs.
Fuller’s, and a huge frilled sunbonnet adorned its head. Jack came,
lugging his somewhat unwieldy guest, and the bolster lady was made to
bow politely to Lady Eliza.

“Why! who’s that?” exclaimed Jack, looking with admiration at the wooden
Indian.

“That’s Big Chief Saskatchewan,” announced Dick, proudly. “He’s ours.
Aunt Nine sent him to us. Isn’t he great?”

“Gorgeous!” assented Jack. “How do you like Betty Bolster?”

“Oh, she’s just lovely,” declared Dolly, kissing Betty’s soft, white
cheek. “Set her down there, next to Pinkie’s fairy.” Then the other
children began to flock in.

Maddy Lester brought a big Teddy bear, with a huge ribbon tied round his
neck, and a bunch of flowers held in his paw. He made profound obeisance
to Lady Eliza and her friend, and then he was seated next to Betty
Bolster.

Clifford Lester had a fine personage to introduce as his guest. He had
taken his father’s clothes-tree, and on the top had fastened a smiling
mask and a wig made of curled hair. This he had dressed up in some
nondescript garments, and though the strange-looking lady could not sit
down, she stood beautifully, and seemed quite worthy of Lady Eliza’s
approval.

One boy brought a rocking-horse, and one a ’possum.

Roguish Lily Craig brought a Jack-in-the-box, which she sprang in the
very face of Lady Eliza and the Big Chief, without, however, scaring
them a mite.

The Punch and Judy, too, created great amusement, and Spencer Nash
raised shouts of laughter, when he arrived, proudly carrying a scarecrow
from his father’s cornfield.

This scarecrow was of the conventional type, with flapping coat tails,
and old, soft felt hat, jammed down over his face.

When all had arrived, the fourteen children were in gales of merriment
at the strange collection of creatures that made up Lady Eliza’s part of
the party, and they made a procession to march round the grounds.

Saskatchewan was too heavy to travel, so they left him standing guard,
but took lovely Lady Eliza, who was easily carried by two of the boys.

The reviewing stand was the front veranda, where the two aunties sat,
and greatly did they enjoy the parade that came rollicking, frolicking
by.

Then the guests, both animate and inanimate, went into the big parlour
for a dance. Aunt Abbie played the piano, and though some of the
children had been to dancing school, many had not, and the dance was
really more of a frolic.

The scarecrow, carried by Spencer Nash, politely asked Lady Eliza to be
his partner, and Dolly, in behalf of the lady, consented. So these two,
assisted by Spencer and Dolly, took their places, and opposite them were
the clothes-tree lady and the big Teddy bear, each guided in their steps
by their laughing owners.

Bolster Betty was partner to Jack-in-the-box, and the fairy danced with
the ’possum.

Aunt Rachel guided the uncertain figures of this quadrille, and the
others all danced round as they chose. Then, fearing the new member of
the Dana family would be lonesome, they all trooped back to the
playground, where Saskatchewan stood, meekly holding his basket of
flowers.

“You dear old thing!” cried Dolly, throwing her arms round him. “Did we
leave you all alone? Well, here we are back again, and now we’ll play
with you.”

So they played “Copenhagen,” and “Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grows,”
and as Lady Eliza’s guests were chosen to step inside the ring, their
absurd appearance made uproarious fun and laughter.

Then, by way of quieting them down, Aunt Abbie suggested that all the
dolls and bears be set aside, while the children played some games by
themselves.

So, ranged in a semicircle, the queer guests sat or stood on either side
of Lady Eliza’s bower, and the children grouped themselves on the rugs
on the ground.

First, Aunt Abbie read them one or two lovely stories, and then she
proposed some guessing games and some forfeit games, and it was six
o’clock before they knew it.

So then it was time for the feast, and, leaving Lady Eliza and the Big
Chief to entertain their guests, Dick and Dolly led their own guests to
the house.

The dining-room table, extended to its full length, was a gay and
festive sight. In the centre was a big pyramid, built of macaroons and
fancy cakes and bonbons, and surmounted by a sugar Cupid holding a big
red balloon by its string.

At every plate was a little sugar figure, bird or animal, holding the
string of a red balloon, and the balloons, themselves bobbing above the
table, made a jolly effect.

The two aunties assisted Delia and Hannah to wait on the guests, whose
appetites proved to be of the normal nine-year-old variety. Sandwiches
disappeared as if by magic; chicken croquettes seemed to meet with
general approval, and lemonade was willingly accepted.

Then the ice cream came, in the various shapes that Dick and Dolly had
selected,—a different design for each one. Pinkie had a fairy, of
course. Jack Fuller, an automobile, because he was so anxious for his
father to get one.

Spencer Nash had a fish, because he liked to go fishing, and Maddy
Lester a boat, because she loved the water. Each had some appropriate
joke or allusion, and, as the fun was appreciated, the ices were all the
more enjoyed.

Cakes and bonbons followed, and, last of all, the snapping German
crackers.

These each held a tissue paper cap, which was donned by its owner, and
Dolly’s little Dutch bonnet proved becoming to her rosy face and sunny
curls.

Pinkie’s was a crown, and after it was put in place, Aunt Rachel
declared she looked like a fairy herself. The boys had sailor caps, and
soldier caps, and Scotch caps, and when all were be-hatted, they
adjourned to the parlour for a final game.

This proved to be “Stick and Ball.”

From the middle of the wide arched doorway hung, suspended by a single
cord, a large ball, apparently of white paper. A long, light stick or
wand, was supplied by Aunt Abbie, who then blindfolded one of the little
girls, and asked her to take the wand, turn round three times, and then
hit at the ball.

Geraldine did so, but by the time she had turned three times, she was
standing almost with her back toward the ball, though she didn’t know
it.

So, when she struck, she hit only empty air.

A shout of laughter arose, but the children were surprised to find, as
one after another tried it, that it was far from easy, to turn three
times, and then stand facing in the right direction.

So it was not until nearly all had attempted it, that at last one of the
boys hit the ball a smart, sharp, _whack!_ which burst the paper, and
down tumbled a lot of neat white paper parcels tied with red ribbons.

A name was written on each, and as the children scrambled for them, they
were quickly exchanged until each had his or her own. The parcels
contained pretty little gifts which were souvenirs of the party to take
home.

Though not of great value, they were all attractive presents, and the
young guests were greatly pleased.

The party was over now, except for one last visit to the playground to
recover their dolls and strange creatures who still waited out there.
But as they neared the spot, a delighted “Oh!” burst from the children.

Michael had lighted the Japanese lanterns and turned the place into what
looked like fairy-land.

It was dark now, and the lanterns cast shadows of Lady Eliza and her
guests, as well as of the trees and hedges.

“Isn’t it beautiful!” whispered Pinkie to Dolly. “I wish we could stay
here awhile.”

“We can’t,” returned Dolly. “Aunt Rachel says it’s too damp to stay out
here in the evening. So she just let us have the lanterns lighted for a
few minutes to see how pretty it is.”

“It’s lovely!” declared everybody.

And Dick said, “Perhaps in summer, when it’s real warm, we can stay out
here after dark, and have the lanterns again.”

The twins put this question to Aunt Rachel, after all the party guests
had gone home.

“Perhaps,” she replied, “when it’s really warm weather. But now, you
must scurry to bed, and we’ll discuss the subject some other time.”

“But we must bring in Lady Eliza,” said Dick, and with Michael’s help,
Lady Eliza, with her pretty pink frock and ribbons quite unharmed, came
smilingly in at the front door.

But Big Chief Saskatchewan stood grimly on guard, all through the night,
looking steadily ahead at the stars just above the horizon, and holding
firmly his Indian basket of gay blossoms.

                                THE END

                 *        *        *        *        *

                          CAROLYN WELLS BOOKS
May be had wherever books are sold.       Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list.

                 *        *        *        *        *

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Marjorie is a happy little girl of twelve, up to mischief, but full of
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This series is the American Girl’s very own. Each book is attractively
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Dick and Dolly are brother and sister, and their games, their pranks,
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This series is unique in that it deals with unusual and exciting
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THE CRUISE OF THE NOAH’S ARK

This is a good rainy day story. On just such a day Mr. Noah invites
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THE MAGIC SOAP BUBBLE

The king of the gnomes has a magic pipe with which he blows a wonderful
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                 GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



                 *        *        *        *        *



Transcriber’s note:

Hyphenation has been retained as in the original.

Punctuation has been corrected without note. Other errors have been
corrected as noted below:

page 22, their seevrity, yet now ==> their severity, yet now

page 79, and he consideerd it his ==> and he considered it his

page 140, too creap for this ==> too cheap for this

page 144, “Yes, I’ll help yez ==> “Yis, I’ll help yez

page 157, little voice sad: ==> little voice said:

page 182, and ran of errands, ==> and ran lots of errands,

page 208, Eliza’s difficult transportantion ==> Eliza’s difficult
  transportation

page 209, I’ll have getttin’ ==> I’ll have gettin’

page 260, when the suddenly ==> when they suddenly

page 268, suppose Aune Nine ==> suppose Aunt Nine

page 293, journey to Hapyyland ==> journey to Happyland





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