MARJORIE'S BUSY DAYS
BY CAROLYN WELLS
AUTHOR OF THE "PATTY" BOOKS
GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS NEW YORK
Made in the United States of America
Copyright, 1906 By DODD, MEAD & COMPANY Published, October, 1908
I A JOLLY GOOD GAME 1
II AN EXASPERATING GUEST 15
III PICNIC PLANS 28
IV AN OURDAY 43
V A NOVEL PICNIC 55
VI THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL 72
VII THE JINKS CLUB 84
VIII SPELLING TROUBLES 99
IX A REAL ADVENTURE 114
X IN INKY PLIGHT 130
XI THE HALLOWE'EN PARTY 143
XII TOTTY AND DOTTY 159
XIII A FAIR EXCHANGE? 172
XIV A NOBLE SOCIETY 190
XV DISTURBED CITIZENS 204
XVI ROSY POSY'S CHOICE 220
XVII A SUBSTITUTE GUEST 235
XVIII THANKSGIVING DAY 252
XIX A SPOOL OF YARNS 265
XX THE CHARITY BAZAAR 278
A JOLLY GOOD GAME
"What do you say, King, railroad smash-up or shipwreck?"
"I say shipwreck, with an awfully desert island."
"I say shipwreck, too," said Kitty, "but I don't want to swim ashore."
"All right," agreed Marjorie, "shipwreck, then. I'll get the cocoanuts."
"Me, too," chimed in Rosy Posy. "Me tumble in the wet water, too!"
The speakers in this somewhat enigmatical conversation were the four Maynard children, and they were deciding on their morning's occupation. It was a gorgeous day in early September. The air, without being too cool, was just crisp enough to make one feel energetic, though indeed no special atmospheric conditions were required to make the four Maynards feel energetic. That was their normal state, and if they were specially gay and lively this morning, it was not because of the brisk, breezy day, but because they were reunited after their summer's separation.
Though they had many friends among the neighboring children, the Maynards were a congenial quartette, and had equally good times playing by themselves or with others. Their home occupied a whole block in the prettiest residence part of Rockwell, and the big square house sat in the midst of about seven acres of lawn and garden.
There were many fine old trees, grassy paths, and informal flower-beds, and here the children were allowed to do whatever they chose, but outside the place, without permission, they must not go.
There was a playground, a tennis court, and a fountain, but better than these they liked the corner full of fruit trees, called "the orchard," and another corner, where grapes grew on trellises, called "the vineyard." The barn and its surroundings, too, often proved attractive, for the Maynards' idea of playing were by no means confined to quiet or decorous games.
The house itself was surrounded by broad verandas, and on the southern one of these, in the morning sunshine, the four held conclave.
Kingdon, the eldest, was the only boy, and oftener than not his will was law. But this was usually because he had such splendid ideas about games and how to play them, that his sisters gladly fell in with his plans.
But Marjorie was not far behind her brother in ingenuity, and when they all set to work, or rather, set to play, the games often became very elaborate and exciting. "Shipwreck" was always a favorite, because it could develop in so many ways. Once they were shipwrecked no rescue was possible, unless help appeared from some unexpected quarter. It might be a neighbor's child coming to see them, or it might be a servant, or one of their own parents, but really rescued they must be by actual outsiders. Unless, indeed, they could build a raft and save themselves, but this they had never accomplished.
The desert island was selected, and this time they chose a certain grassy knoll under an immense old maple tree.
Marjorie disappeared in the direction of the kitchen, and, after a time, came back with a small basket, apparently well-filled.
With this she scampered away to the "desert island," and soon returned, swinging the empty basket. Tossing this into the house, she announced that she was ready.
Then the four went to the big, double, wooden swing, and got in.
Kitty carried her doll, Arabella, from which she was seldom separated, and Rosy Posy hugged her big white Teddy Bear, who was named Boffin and who accompanied the baby on all expeditions.
The swing, to-day, was an ocean steamer.
"Have your tickets ready!" called out Kingdon, as his passengers swarmed up the gangplank, which he had thoughtfully laid from the ground to the low step of the swing.
Soon they were all on board, the gangplank drawn in, and the ship started.
At first all went smoothly. The swing swayed gently back and forth, and the passengers admired the beautiful scenery on either side. The Captain had never crossed an ocean, and the nearest he had come to it had been a sail up the Hudson and a trip to Coney Island. His local color, therefore, was a bit mixed, but his passengers were none the wiser, or if they were, they didn't care.
"On the right, we see West Point!" the Captain shouted, pointing to their own house. "That's where the soldiers come from. The noble soldiers who fight for the land of the free and the home of the brave."
"Are you a soldier, sir?" asked Marjorie.
"Yes, madam; I am a veteran of the Civil War. But as there's no fighting to do now, I run this steamer."
"A fine ship it is," observed Kitty.
"It is that! No finer craft sails the waves than this."
"What is that mountain in the distance?" asked Marjorie, shading her eyes with her hand as she looked across the street.
"That's a—a peak of the Rockies, ma'am. And now we are passing the famous statue of 'Liberty Enlightening the World.'"
As the statue to which Kingdon pointed was really Mrs. Maynard, who had come out on the veranda, and stood with her hand high against a post, the children shouted with laughter.
But this was quickly suppressed, as part of the fun of making-believe was to keep grave about it.
"Is your daughter ill, madam?" asked Marjorie of Kitty, whose doll hung over her arm in a dejected way.
"No, indeed!" cried Kitty, righting poor Arabella. "She is as well as anything. Only she's a little afraid of the ocean. It seems to be getting rougher."
It did seem so. The swing was not only going more rapidly, but was joggling from side to side.
"Don't be alarmed, ladies," said the gallant Captain; "there's no danger, I assure you."
"I'm not afraid of the sea," said Marjorie, "as much as I am of that fearful wild bear. Will he bite?"
"No," said Kingdon, looking at Rosy Posy. "That's his trainer who is holding him. He's a wonderful man with wild beasts. He's—he's Buffalo Bill. Speak up, Rosy Posy; you're Buffalo Bill, and that's a bear you're taking home to your show."
"Ess," said Rosamond, who was somewhat versed in make-believe plays, "I'se Buffaro Bill; an' 'is is my big, big bear."
"Will he bite?" asked Kitty, shrinking away in fear, and protecting Arabella with one arm.
"Ess! He bites awful!" Rosy Posy's eyes opened wide as she exploited her Bear's ferocity, and Boffin made mad dashes at Arabella, who duly shrieked with fear.
But now the ship began to pitch and toss fearfully. The Captain stood up in his excitement, but that only seemed to make the motion worse.
"Is there danger?" cried Marjorie, in tragic tones, as she gripped the belt of King's Norfolk jacket. "Give me this life-preserver; I don't see any other."
"They are under the seats!" shouted the Captain, who was now greatly excited. "I cannot deceive you! We are in great danger! We may strike a rock any minute! Put on life-preservers, all of you. They are under the seats."
The other three scrambled for imaginary life-preservers, and vigorously put them on, when, with a terrific yell, Kingdon cried out:
"We have struck! We're on a rock! The ship is settling; we must all be drowned. We are lost! Launch the boats!"
This was a signal for shrieks and wails from the others, and in a minute it was pandemonium. The four screamed and groaned, the swing shook violently, and then came almost to a standstill.
Kingdon fell out with a bounce and lay prone on the ground. Marjorie sprang out, and as she reached the ground, struck out like a swimmer in the water.
Kitty daintily stepped out, remarking: "This is a fine life-preserver. I can stand straight up in the water."
Baby Rosamond bundled out backward, dropping Boffin as she did so.
"The bear, the bear!" screamed Kingdon, and swimming a few strokes along the soft, green grass, he grabbed the bear and waved him aloft.
"What can we do!" stammered Marjorie, panting for breath. "I've swum till I'm exhausted. Must I drown!" With a wail, she turned on her eyes on the grass, and closing her eyes, prepared to sink beneath the waves.
"Do not despair," urged Kingdon, as he grasped her arm. "Perhaps we can find a plank or a raft. Or perhaps we can yet swim ashore."
"How many survivors are we?" asked Marjorie, sitting up in the water and looking about.
"Four," responded Kitty; "but I won't swim. It makes my dress all greeny, and stubs my shoes out."
Kitty was the only Maynard who was finicky about her clothes. It called forth much derision from her elder brother and sister, but she stood firm. She would play their plays, until it came to "swimming" across grass and earth, and there she rebelled.
"All right," said Kingdon, good-naturedly, "you needn't. There's a raft," pointing to what had been the gangplank. "Cannot you and your infant daughter manage to get ashore on that? This other lady is an expert swimmer, and I think she can reach land, while Buffalo Bill will, of course, save himself."
"Me save myself!" exclaimed Rosy Posy, gleefully. She had no objections to swimming on land, and throwing her fat self down flat, kicked vigorously, and assisted Boffin to swim by her side.
Kitty and Arabella arranged themselves on the raft, which Kitty propelled by a series of hitches. The shipwrecked sufferers thus made their way toward the desert island. There were several narrow escapes from drowning, but they generously assisted each other, and once when Kitty fell off her raft, the noble Captain offered to take Arabella on his own broad and stalwart back.
Buffalo Bill frequently forgot she was in the tossing ocean, and walked upright on her own fat legs.
But King said she was only "treading water," go that was all right.
At last they sighted land, and by a mighty effort, and much encouraging of one another, they managed to reach the shore of the island. Exhausted, Marjorie threw herself on the beach, and the half-drowned Captain also dragged himself up on dry land. Kitty skilfully brought her raft ashore, and stepped out, exclaiming: "Saved! But to what a fate!"
This was one of their favorite lines, and Marjorie weakly opened her eyes to respond:
"Methinks I shall not see to-morrow's sun!"
"Hist!" whispered Kingdon, "say no word, lady. There may be cannibals here!"
"Tannibals!" cried Buffalo Bill. "I 'ike Tannibals. Where is zey?"
Somewhat revived, Kingdon began to look round the desert island to see what its nature might be.
"We have escaped one terrible death!" he declared, "only to meet another. We must starve! This is a desert island exactly in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. No steamers pass here; no sailing vessels or ferryboats or,—or anything!"
"Oh! What shall we do?" moaned Kitty, clasping her hands in despair. "My precious Arabella! Already she is begging for food."
"We must consider," said Marjorie, sitting up, and looking about her. "If there is nothing else, we must kill the bear and eat him."
"No, no!" screamed Rosy Posy. "No, no eat my Boffin Bear."
"I will explore," said Kingdon. "Come, Buffalo Bill, we are the men of this party, we will go all over the island and see what may be found in the way of food. Perhaps we will find cocoanuts."
"Ess," said Buffalo Bill, slipping her little hand in her brother's, "an' we'll take Boffin, so he won't get all killded."
"And while you're gone," said Marjorie, "we will dry our dripping garments and mend them."
"Yes," said Kitty, "with needles and thread out of my bag. I brought a big bag of all sorts of things, like Robinson Crusoe."
"That wasn't Robinson Crusoe," said King, "it was Mrs. Swiss Robinson."
"Oh, so it was! Well, it doesn't matter, I brought the bag, anyway."
The two brave men went away, and returned in a surprisingly short time with a surprising amount of food.
"These are cocoanuts," announced Kingdon, as he displayed four oranges. "I had to climb the tall palm trees to reach them. But no hardships or dangers are too great to assist fair ladies."
The fair ladies expressed great delight at the gallant Captain's deed, and asked Buffalo Bill what she had secured.
"Edds," said Rosy Posy, triumphantly, and, sure enough, in her tiny skirt, which she held gathered up before her, were three eggs and a cracker.
The eggs were hard-boiled, and were promptly appropriated by the three elder victims of the shipwreck, while the cracker fell to the share of Buffalo Bill, who was not yet of an age to eat hard-boiled eggs.
"I, too, will make search!" cried Marjorie. "Methinks there may yet be food which you overlooked."
As Marjorie had brought the food to the desert island only an hour before, it was not impossible that she might find some more, so they let her go to make search. She returned with a paper bag of crackers and another of pears.
"These are bread fruit," she announced, showing the crackers; "and these are wild pears. This is indeed a fruitful island, and we're lucky to be wrecked on such a good one."
"Lucky, indeed!" agreed the Captain. "Why, when I discovered those eggs on a rocky ledge, I knew at once they were gulls' eggs."
"And how fortunate that they're boiled," said Kitty. "I can't bear raw eggs."
The shipwrecked sufferers then spread out their food, and sat down to a pleasant meal, for the Maynard children had convenient appetites, and could eat at almost any hour of the day.
AN EXASPERATING GUEST
"Aren't hard-boiled eggs the very best things to eat in all the world?" said Marjorie, as she looked lovingly at the golden sphere she had just extracted from its ivory setting.
"They're awful good," agreed King, "but I like oranges better."
"Me eat lollunge," piped up Rosy Posy. "Buffaro Bill would 'ike a lollunge."
"So you shall, Baby. Brother'll fix one for you."
And the shipwrecked Captain carefully prepared an orange, and gave it bit by bit into the eager, rosy fingers.
"Of all things in the world," said Kitty, "I like chocolate creams best."
"Oh, so do I, if I'm not hungry!" said Marjorie. "I think I like different things at different times."
"Well, it doesn't matter much what you like now," said King, as he gave the last section of orange to Rosy Posy, "for everything is all eaten up. Where'd you get those eggs, Mops? We never hardly have them except on picnics."
"I saw them in the pantry. Ellen had them for a salad or something. So I just took them, and told her she could boil some more."
"You're a good one, Mopsy," said her brother, looking at her in evident admiration. "The servants never get mad at you. Now if I had hooked those eggs, Ellen would have blown me up sky-high."
"Oh, I just smiled at her," said Marjorie, "and then it was all right. Now, what are we going to do next?"
"Hark!" said Kingdon, who was again the shipwrecked mariner. "I hear a distant sound as of fierce wild beasts growling and roaring."
"My child, my child!" shrieked Kitty, snatching up Arabella. "She will be torn by dreadful lions and tigers!"
"We must protect ourselves," declared Marjorie. "Captain, can't you build a barricade? They always do that in books."
"Ay, ay, ma'am. But also we must hoist a flag, a signal of distress. For should a ship come by, they might stop and rescue us."
"But we have no flag. What can we use for one?"
"Give me your daughter's petticoat," said the Captain to Kitty.
"Not so!" said Kitty, who was fond of dramatic phrases. "Arabella's petticoat is spandy clean, and I won't have it used to make a flag."
"I'll give you a flag," said Marjorie. "Take my hair-ribbon." She began to pull off her red ribbon, but Kingdon stopped her.
"No," he said, "that won't do. We're not playing Pirates. It must be a white flag. It's for a signal of distress."
Marjorie thought a moment. There really seemed to be no white flag available.
"All right!" she cried, in a moment. "I'll give you a piece of my petticoat. It's an old one, and the ruffle is torn anyhow."
In a flash, impetuous Marjorie had torn a good-sized bit out of her little white petticoat, and the Captain fastened it to a long branch he had broken from the maple tree.
This he managed, with the aid of some stones, to fasten in an upright position, and then they sat down to watch for a passing sail.
"Buffaro Bill so s'eepy," announced that small person, and, with fat old Boffin for a pillow, Rosy Posy calmly dropped off into a morning nap.
But the others suffered various dreadful vicissitudes. They were attacked by wild beasts, which, though entirely imaginary, required almost as much killing as if they had been real.
Kitty shot or lassoed a great many, but she declined to engage in the hand-to-hand encounters with tigers and wolves, such as Marjorie and Kingdon undertook, for fear she'd be thrown down on the ground. And, indeed, her fears were well founded, for the valiant fighters were often thrown by their fierce adversaries, and rolled over and over, only to pick themselves up and renew the fray.
More exciting still was an attack from the natives of the island. They were horrible savages, with tomahawks, and they approached with blood-curdling yells.
Needless to say that, after a fearful battle, the natives were all slain or put to rout, and the conquerors, exhausted but triumphant, sat round their camp-fire and boasted of their valorous deeds.
As noontime drew near, the settlers on the island began to grow hungry again, and, strange to say, the imaginary birds they shot and ate were not entirely satisfying.
Buffalo Bill, too, waked up, and demanded a jink of water.
But none could leave the island and brave the perils of the boundless ocean, unless in a rescuing ship.
For a long time they waited. They waved their white flag, and they even shouted for help.
But the "island" was at some distance from the house or street and none came to rescue them.
At last, they saw a huge, white-covered wagon slowly moving along the back drive.
"A sail! A sail!" cried the Captain. "What, ho! Help! Help!"
The other shipwrecked ones joined the cry, and soon the wagon drew a little nearer, and then stopped.
"Help! Help!" cried the children in chorus.
It was the butcher's wagon, and they knew it well, but this season there was a new driver who didn't know the Maynard children.
"What's the matther?" he cried, jumping from his seat, and running across the grass to the quartette.
"We're shipwrecked!" cried Marjorie. "We can't get home. Oh, save us from a cruel fate! Carry us back to our far-away fireside!"
"Help!" cried Kitty, faintly. "My child is ill, and I can no longer survive!"
Dramatic Kitty sank in a heap on the ground, and the butcher's boy was more bewildered than ever.
"Save me!" cried Rosy Posy, toddling straight to him, and putting up her arms. "Save Buffaro Bill first,—me an' Boffin."
This was more intelligible, and the butcher's boy picked up the smiling child, and with a few long strides reached his cart, and deposited her therein.
"Me next! Me next!" screamed Marjorie. "I'm fainting, too!" With a thud, she fell in a heap beside Kitty.
"The saints presarve us!" exclaimed the frightened Irishman. "Whativer is the matther wid these childher? Is it pizened ye are?"
"No, only starving," said Marjorie, but her faint voice was belied by the merry twinkle in her eyes, which she couldn't suppress at the sight of the man's consternation.
"Aha! It's shammin' ye are! I see now."
"It's a game," explained Kingdon. "We're shipwrecked on a desert island, and you're a passing captain of a small sailing vessel. Will you take us aboard?"
"Shure, sir," said the other, his face aglow with Irish wit and intelligence. "I persave yer manin'. 'Deed I will resky ye, but how will ye get through the deep wathers to me ship forninst?"
"You wade over, and carry this lady," said King, pointing to Kitty, "and the rest of us will swim."
"Thot's a foine plan; come along, miss;" and in a moment Kitty was swung up to the brave rescuer's shoulder, while King and Midget were already "swimming" across the grass to the rescue ship.
All clambered into the wagon, and the butcher drove them in triumph to the back door. Here they jumped out, and, after thanking their kind rescuer, they scampered into the house.
"Such a fun!" said Rosy Posy, as her mother bathed her heated little face. "Us was all shipperecked, an' I was Buffaro Bill, an' Boffin was my big wild bear!"
"You two are sights!" said Mrs. Maynard; laughing as she looked at the muddied, grass-stained, and torn condition of Kingdon and Marjorie. "I'm glad you had your play-clothes on, but I don't see why you always have to have such rough-and-tumble plays."
"'Cause we're a rough-and-tumble pair, Mothery," said King; "look at Kitty there! she kept herself almost spick and span."
"Well, I'm glad I have all sorts of children," said Mrs. Maynard. "Go and get into clean clothes, and be ready for luncheon promptly on time. I'm expecting Miss Larkin."
"Larky! Oh!" groaned Kingdon. "I say, Mothery, can't we—us children, I mean—have lunch in the playroom?" He had sidled up to his mother and was caressing her cheek with his far-from-clean little hands.
"No," said Mrs. Maynard, smiling as she kissed the brown fingers, "no, my boy, I want all my olive-branches at my table to-day. So, run along now and get civilized."
"Come on, Mops," said Kingdon, in a despairing tone, and, with their arms about each other, the two dawdled away.
Kitty had already gone to Nurse to be freshened up. Kitty loved company, and was always ready to put on her best manners.
But King and Midget had so much talking to do, and so many plans to make, that they disliked the restraint that company necessarily put upon their own conversation.
"I do detest old Larky," said the boy, as they went away.
"I don't mind her so much," said Marjorie, "except when she asks me questions."
"She's always doing that."
"Yes, I know it. But I promised Mother I'd be extra good to-day, and try to talk politely to her. Of course, I can do it if I try."
"So can I," said King, with an air of pride in his own powers. "All right, Mops, let's be 'specially 'stremely good and treat Miss Larkin just lovely."
Nearly an hour later the four shipwrecked unfortunates, now transformed into clean, well-dressed civilians, were grouped in the library to await Miss Larkin's arrival.
The lady was an old friend of Mrs. Maynard's, and though by no means elderly, was yet far from being as young as she tried to look and act.
She came tripping in, and after greeting her hostess effusively, she turned to the children.
"My, my!" she said. "What a group of little dears! How you have grown,—every one of you. Kingdon, my dear boy, would you like to kiss me?"
The request was far from acceptable to King, but the simper that accompanied it so repelled him that he almost forgot his determination to be very cordial to the unwelcome guest. But Midge gave him a warning pinch on his arm, and with an unintelligible murmur of consent, he put up his cheek for the lady's salute.
"Oh, what a dear boy!" she gurgled. "I really think I shall have to take you home with me! And, now, here's Marjorie. How are you, my dear? Do you go to school now? And what are you learning?"
Miss Larkin's questions always irritated Marjorie, but she answered politely, and then stepped aside in Kitty's favor.
"Sweet little Katharine," said the visitor. "You are really an angel child. With your golden hair and blue eyes, you're a perfect cherub; isn't she, Mrs. Maynard?"
"She's a dear little girl," said her mother, smiling, "but not always angelic. Here's our baby, our Rosamond."
"No, I'se Buffaro Bill!" declared Rosy Posy, assuming a valiant attitude, quite out of keeping with her smiling baby face and chubby body.
"Oh, what delicious children! Dear Mrs. Maynard, how good of you to let me come to see them."
As Miss Larkin always invited herself, this speech was literally true, but as she and Mrs. Maynard had been schoolmates long ago, the latter felt it her duty to give her friend such pleasure as she could.
At the luncheon table, Miss Larkin kept up a running fire of questions.
This, she seemed to think, was the only way to entertain children.
"Do you like to read?" she asked of Marjorie.
"Yes, indeed," said Midget, politely.
"And what books do you like best?"
"Fairy stories," said Marjorie, promptly.
"Oh, tut, tut!" and Miss Larkin shook a playful finger. "You should like history. Shouldn't she, now?" she asked, appealing to Kingdon.
"We like history, too," said Kingdon. "At least, we like it some; but we both like fairy stories better."
"Ah, well, children will be children. Do you like summer or winter best?"
This was a poser. It had never occurred to Marjorie to think which she liked best.
"I like them both alike," she said, truthfully.
"Oh, come now; children should have some mind of their own! Little Miss Kitty, I'm sure you know whether you like summer or winter best."
"I like winter best for Christmas, and summer for Fourth of July," she said at last, with the air of one settling a weighty matter.
But Miss Larkin really cared nothing to know about these things; it was only her idea of making herself entertaining to her young audience.
"And you, Baby Rosamond," she went on, "what do you like best in all the world?"
"Boffin," was the ready reply, "an' Buffaro Bill, 'cause I'm it."
They all laughed at this, for in the Maynard family Rosy Posy's high estimation of herself was well known.
Although it seemed as if it never would, the luncheon at last came to an end.
Mrs. Maynard told the children they might be excused, and she and Miss Larkin would chat by themselves.
Decorously enough, the four left the room, but once outside the house, King gave a wild whoop of joy and turned a double somersault.
Midget threw herself down on a veranda-seat, but with a beaming face, she said:
"Well, we behaved all right, anyway; but I was 'most afraid I'd be saucy to her one time. It's such a temptation, when people talk like that."
"She talked all the time," said Kitty. "I don't see when she ate anything."
"She didn't," said King. "I suppose she'd rather talk than eat. She's not a bit like us."
"No," said Marjorie, emphatically, "she's not a bit like us!"
One entire day out of each month Mr. Maynard devoted to the entertainment of his children.
This was a long-established custom, and the children looked forward eagerly to what they called an Ourday.
The day chosen was always a Saturday, and usually the first Saturday of the month, though this was subject to the convenience of the elders.
The children were allowed to choose in turn what the entertainment should be, and if possible their wishes were complied with.
As there had been so much bustle and confusion consequent upon their return from the summer vacation, the September "Ourday" did not occur until the second Saturday.
It was Marjorie's turn to choose the sport, for, as she had been away at Grandma Sherwood's all summer, she had missed three Ourdays.
So one morning, early in the week, the matter was discussed at the breakfast table.
"What shall it be, Midget?" asked her father. "A balloon trip, or an Arctic expedition?"
"I want something outdoorsy," she said, at last, "and I think I'd like a picnic best. A real picnic in the woods, with lunch-baskets, and a fire, and roasted potatoes."
"That sounds all right to me," said Mr. Maynard; "do you want a lot of people, or just ourselves?"
It was at the children's pleasure on Ourdays to invite their young friends or to have only the family, as they chose. Sometimes, even, Mrs. Maynard did not go with them, and Mr. Maynard took his young brood off for a ramble in the woods, or a day at the seashore or in the city. He often declared that but for this plan he would never feel really acquainted with his own children.
"I don't want a lot of people," said Marjorie, decidedly; "but suppose we each invite one. That makes a good-sized picnic."
As it was Marjorie's Ourday, her word was law, and the others gladly agreed.
"I'll ask Dick Fulton," said Kingdon. "I haven't seen much of him since I came home."
"And I'll ask Gladys Fulton, of course," said Midget. As Gladys was her most intimate friend in Rockwell, no one was surprised at this.
"I'll ask Dorothy Adams," said Kitty; but Rosy Posy announced: "I won't ask nobody but Boffin. He's the nicest person I know, an' him an' me can walk with Daddy."
"Next, where shall the picnic be?" went on Mr. Maynard.
"I don't know whether I like Pike's Woods best, or the Mill Race," said Marjorie, uncertainly.
"Oh, choose Pike's Woods, Mops," put in Kingdon. "It's lovely there, now, and it's a lot better place to build a fire and all that."
"All right, Father; I choose Pike's Woods. But it's too far to walk."
"Of course it is, Mopsy. We'll have a big wagon that will hold us all. You may invite your friends, and I'll invite a comrade of my own. Will you go, Mrs. Maynard?"
"I will, with pleasure. I adore picnics, and this bids fair to be a delightful one. May I assist you in planning the feast?"
"Indeed you may," said Midget, smiling at her mother. "But we can choose, can't we?"
"Of course, choose ahead."
"Ice-cream," said Marjorie, promptly.
"Little lemon tarts," said Kitty.
"Candy," said Rosy Posy.
"Cold chicken," said Kingdon.
"That's a fine bill of fare," said Mr. Maynard, "but I'll add sandwiches and lemonade as my suggestions, and anything we've omitted, I'm sure will get into the baskets somehow."
"Oh, won't it be lovely!" exclaimed Marjorie. "I haven't been on a picnic with our own family for so long. We had picnics at Grandma's, but nothing is as much fun as an Ourday."
"Let's take the camera," said Kingdon, "and get some snapshots."
"Yes, and let's take fishlines, and fish in the brook," said Kitty.
"All right, chickabiddies; we'll have a roomy wagon to travel in, so take whatever you like. And now I must be off. Little Mother, you'll make a list to-day, won't you, of such things as I am to get for this frolic?"
"Candy," repeated Rosy Posy; "don't fordet that."
As the baby was not allowed much candy, she always chose it for her Ourday treat.
Mr. Maynard went away to his business, and the others remained at the breakfast table, talking over the coming pleasure.
"We'll have a great time!" said Kingdon. "We'll make father play Indians and shipwreck and everything."
"Don't make me play Indians!" exclaimed his mother, in mock dismay.
"No, indeedy! You couldn't be an Indian. You're too white-folksy. But you can be a Captive Princess."
"Yes!" cried Marjorie; "in chains and shut up in a dungeon."
"No, no," screamed Rosy Posy; "my muvver not be shutted up in dunjin!"
"No, she shan't, Baby," said her brother, comfortingly; "and, anyway, Mops, Indians don't put people in dungeons, you're thinking of Mediaevals."
"Well, I don't care," said Midget, happily; "we'll have a lovely time, whatever we play. I'm going over to ask Gladys now. May I, Mother?"
"Yes, Midget, run along. Tell Mrs. Fulton that Father and I are going, and that we'd be glad to take Gladys and Dick."
Away skipped Marjorie, hatless and coatless, for it was a warm day, and Gladys lived only across the street.
"It's so nice to have you back again, Mopsy," said Gladys, after the invitation had been given and accepted. "I was awful lonesome for you all summer."
"I missed you, too; but I did have a lovely time. Oh, Gladys, I wish you could see my tree-house at Grandma's! Breezy Inn, its name is, and we had such fun in it."
"Why don't you have one here? Won't your father make one for you?"
"I don't know. Yes, I suppose he would. But it wouldn't seem the same. It just belongs at Grandma's. And, anyway, I'm busy all the time here. There's so much to do. We play a lot, you know. And then I have my practising every day, and, oh dear, week after next school will begin. I just hate school, don't you, Gladys?"
"No, I love it; you know I do."
"Well, I don't. I don't mind the lessons, but I hate to sit cooped up at a desk all day. I wish they'd have schools out of doors."
"Yes, I'd like that, too. I wonder if we can sit together, this year, Mops?"
"Oh, I hope so. Let's ask Miss Lawrence that, the very first thing. Why, I'd die if I had to sit with any one but you."
"So would I. But I'm sure Miss Lawrence will let us be together."
Gladys was a pretty little girl, though not at all like Marjorie. She was about the same age, but smaller, and with light hair and blue eyes. She was more sedate than Midget, and more quiet in her ways, but she had the same love of fun and mischief, and more than once the two girls had been separated in the schoolroom because of the pranks they concocted when together.
Miss Lawrence, their teacher, was a gentle and long-suffering lady, and she loved both little girls, but she was sometimes at her wits' end to know how to tame their rollicking spirits.
Gladys was as pleased as Marjorie at the prospect of the picnic. Often the Maynard children had their Ourdays without inviting other guests, but when outsiders were invited they always remembered the happy occasions.
All through the week preparations went on, and on Friday Ellen, the cook, gave up most of the day to the making of cakes and tarts and jellies. The next morning she was to get up early to fry the chicken and prepare the devilled eggs.
Mr. Maynard brought home candies and fruit from the city, and a huge can of ice-cream was ordered from the caterer.
The start was to be made at nine o'clock Saturday morning, for it was a long drive, and everybody wanted a long day in the woods.
Friday evening was fair, with a beautiful sunset, and everything boded well for beautiful weather the next day.
Rosy Posy, after her bread-and-milk supper, went happily off to bed, and dropped to sleep while telling her beloved Boffin of the fun to come. The other children dined with their parents, and the conversation was exclusively on the one great subject.
"I don't think it could rain; do you, Father?" said Kitty, looking over her shoulder, at the fading sunset tints.
"I think it could, my dear, but I don't think it will. All signs point to fair weather, and I truly believe we'll have a perfect Ourday and a jolly good time."
"We always do," said Midge, happily. "I wonder why all fathers don't have Ourdays with their children. Gladys' father never gets home till seven o'clock, and she has to go to bed at eight, so she hardly sees him at all, except Sundays, and of course they can't play on Sundays."
"They must meet as strangers," said Mr. Maynard. "I think our plan is better. I like to feel chummy with my own family, and the only way to do it is to keep acquainted with each other. I wish I could have a whole day with you every week, instead of only every month."
"Can't you, Father?" said Kitty, wistfully.
"No, daughter. I have too much business to attend to, to allow me a holiday every week. But perhaps some day I can manage it. Are you taking a hammock to-morrow, King?"
"Yes, sir. I thought Mother might like an afternoon nap, and Rosy Posy always goes to sleep in the morning."
"Thoughtful boy. Take plenty of rope, but you needn't bother to take trees to swing it from."
"No, we'll take the chance of finding some there."
"Yes, doubtless somebody will have left them from the last picnic. Your young friends are going?"
"Yes," said Marjorie. "King and I asked the two Fultons, and Kitty asked Dorothy Adams. With all of us, and Nurse Nannie, that makes just ten."
"And the driver of the wagon makes eleven," said Mr. Maynard. "I suppose we've enough rations for such an army?"
"Yes, indeed," said Mrs. Maynard, smiling. "Enough for twenty, I think, but it's well to be on the safe side."
The children went to bed rather earlier than usual, in order to be up bright and early for the picnic.
Their play-clothes, which were invariably of blue and white striped seersucker, were laid out in readiness, and they fell asleep wishing it were already morning.
But when the morning did come!
Marjorie wakened first, and before she opened her eyes she heard an ominous sound that sent a thrill of dismay to her heart.
She sprang out of bed, and ran to the window.
Yes, it was not only raining, it was simply pouring.
One of those steady, determined storms that show no sign of speedy clearing. The sky was dark, leaden gray, and the rain came down in what seemed to be a thick, solid volume of water.
"Oh!" said Marjorie, with a groan of disappointment from her very heart.
"Kitty," she said, softly, wondering if her sister were awake.
The girls had two beds on either side of a large room, and Midget tiptoed across the floor, as she spoke. Kitty opened her eyes sleepily. "What is it, Midget? Time to get up? Oh, it's picnic day!"
As Kitty became broad awake, she smiled and gaily hopped out of bed.
"What's the matter?" she said, in alarm, for Marjorie's face was anything but smiling.
For answer, Midget pointed out of the window, toward which Kitty turned for the first time.
"Oh!" said she, dropping back on the edge of the bed.
And, indeed, there seemed to be nothing else to say. Both girls were so overwhelmed with disappointment that they could only look at each other with despondent faces.
Silently they began to draw on their stockings and shoes, and though determined they wouldn't do anything so babyish as to cry, yet it was no easy matter to keep the tears back.
"Up yet, chickabiddies?" called Mr. Maynard's cheery voice through the closed door.
"Yes, sir," responded two doleful voices.
"Then skip along downstairs as soon as you're ready; it's a lovely day for our picnic."
Midge and Kitty looked at each other. This seemed a heartless jest indeed! And it wasn't a bit like their father to tease them when they were in trouble. And real trouble this surely was!
They heard Mr. Maynard tap at King's door, and call out some gay greeting to him, and then they heard King splashing about, as if making his toilet in a great hurry. All this spurred the girls to dress more quickly, and it was not long before they were tying each other's hair-ribbons and buttoning each other's frocks.
Then they fairly ran downstairs, and, seeing Mr. Maynard standing by the dining-room window, they both threw themselves into his arms, crying out, "Oh, Father, isn't it too bad?"
"What?" asked Mr. Maynard, quizzically.
"Now, Daddy," said Midget, "don't tease. Our hearts are all broken because it's raining, and we can't have our picnic."
"Can't have our picnic!" exclaimed Mr. Maynard, in apparent excitement. "Can't have our picnic, indeed! Who says we can't?"
"I say so!" exclaimed Kingdon, who had just entered the room. "Nobody but ducks can have a picnic to-day."
"Oh, well," said Mr. Maynard, looking crestfallen, "if King says so that settles it. I think it's a beautiful picnic day, but far be it from me to obtrude my own opinions."
Just here Mrs. Maynard and Rosy Posy came in. They were both smiling, and though no one expected the baby to take the disappointment very seriously, yet it did seem as if Mother might have been more sympathetic.
"I suppose we can eat the ice-cream in the house," said Marjorie, who was inclined to look on the bright side if she could possibly find one.
"That's the way to talk!" said her father, approvingly. "Now you try, Kingdon, to meet the situation as it should be met."
"I will, sir. I'm just as disappointed as I can be, but I suppose there's no use crying over spilt milk,—I mean spilt raindrops."
"That's good philosophy, my boy. Now, Kitty, what have you to say by way of cheering us all up?"
"I can't see much fun in a day like this. But I hope we can have the picnic on the next Ourday."
"That's a brave, cheerful spirit. Now, my sad and disheartened crew, take your seats at the breakfast table, and listen to your foolishly optimistic old father."
The children half-heartedly took their places, but seemed to have no thought of eating breakfast.
"Wowly-wow-wow!" said Mr. Maynard, looking around the table. "What a set of blue faces! Would it brighten you up any if I should prophesy that at dinner-time to-night you will all say it has been the best Ourday we've ever had, and that you're glad it rained?"
"Oh, Father!" said Marjorie, in a tone of wondering reproach, while Kitty and King looked blankly incredulous, and Mrs. Maynard smiled mysteriously.
It was impossible to resist the infection of Mr. Maynard's gay good-nature, and by the time breakfast was over, the children were in their usual merry mood. Though an occasional glance out of the window brought a shadow to one face or another, it was quickly dispelled by the laughter and gaiety within.
Marjorie was perhaps the most disappointed of them all, for it was her day, and she had set her heart on the picnic in the woods. But she tried to make the best of it, remembering that, after all, father would be at home all day, and that was a treat of itself.
After breakfast, Mr. Maynard led the way to the living-room, followed by his half-hopeful brood. They all felt that something would be done to make up for their lost pleasure, but it didn't seem as if it could be anything very nice.
Mr. Maynard looked out of the front window in silence for a moment, then suddenly he turned and faced the children.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said; "do any of you know the story of Mahomet and the mountain?"
"No, sir," was the answer of every one, and Marjorie's spirits sank. She liked to hear her father tell stories sometimes, but it was a tame entertainment to take the place of a picnic, and Mahomet didn't sound like an interesting subject, anyway.
Mr. Maynard's eyes twinkled.
"This is the story," he began; "sit down while I tell it to you."
With a little sigh Marjorie sat down on the sofa, and the others followed her example. Rosy Posy, hugging Boffin, scrambled up into a big armchair, and settled herself to listen.
"It is an old story," went on Mr. Maynard, "and the point of it is that if the mountain wouldn't come to Mahomet, Mahomet must needs go to the mountain. But to-day I propose to reverse the story, and since you four sad, forlorn-looking Mahomets can't go to the picnic, why then, the picnic must come to you. And here it is!"
As Mr. Maynard spoke—indeed he timed his words purposely—their own carriage drove up to the front door, and, flying to the window, Marjorie saw some children getting out of it. Though bundled up in raincoats and caps, she soon recognized Gladys and Dick Fulton and Dorothy Adams.
In a moment they all met in the hall, and the laughter and shouting effectually banished the last trace of disappointment from the young Maynards' faces.
"Did you come for the picnic?" said Marjorie to Gladys, in amazement.
"Yes; your father telephoned early this morning,—before breakfast,—and he said the picnic would be in the house instead of in the woods. And he sent the carriage for us all."
"Great! Isn't it?" said Dick Fulton, as he helped his sister off with her mackintosh. "I thought there'd be no picnic, but here we are."
"Here we are, indeed!" said Mr. Maynard, who was helping Dorothy Adams unwind an entangling veil, "and everybody as dry as a bone."
"Yes," said Dorothy, "the storm is awful, but in your close carriage, and with all these wraps, I couldn't get wet."
"Oh, isn't it fun!" cried Kitty, as she threw her arms around her dear friend, Dorothy. "Are you to stay all day?"
"Yes, until six o'clock. Mr. Maynard says picnics always last until sundown."
Back they all trooped to the big living-room, which presented a cheerful aspect indeed. The rainy morning being chilly, an open fire in the ample fireplace threw out a cheerful blaze and warmth. Mrs. Maynard's pleasant face smiled brightly, as she welcomed each little guest, and afterward she excused herself, saying she had some household matters to attend to and that Mr. Maynard would take charge of the "picnic."
"First of all," said the host, as the children turned expectant faces toward him, "nobody is to say, 'What a pity it rained!' or anything like that. Indeed, you are not to look out at the storm at all, unless you say, 'How fortunate we are under cover!' or words to that effect."
"All right, sir," said Dick Fulton, "I agree. And I think a picnic in the house will be dead loads of fun."
"That's the way to talk," said Mr. Maynard, "and now the picnic will begin. The first part of it will be a nutting-party."
"Oho!" laughed Marjorie. "A nutting-party in the house is 'most too much! I don't see any trees;" and she looked around in mock dismay.
"Do you usually pick the nuts off of trees?" asked her father, quizzically. "You know you don't! You gather them after they have fallen. Now nuts have fallen all over this house, in every room, and all you have to do is to gather them. Each may have a basket, and see who can find the most. Scamper, now!"
While Mr. Maynard was talking, Sarah, the waitress, had come in, bringing seven pretty baskets of fancy wicker-ware. One was given to each child, and off they ran in quest of nuts.
"Every room, Father?" called back Marjorie, over her shoulder.
"Every room," he replied, "except the kitchen. You must not go out there to bother cook. She has all she can attend to."
This sounded pleasant, so Marjorie went on, only pausing for one more question.
"What kind of nuts, Father?"
"Gather any kind you see, my child. There was such a strong wind last night, I daresay it blew down all sorts."
And truly that seemed to be the case. Shrieks of surprise and delight from the whole seven announced the discoveries they made.
They found peanuts, English walnuts, pecan nuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, hickory nuts, black walnuts, and some of which they didn't know the names.
The nuts were hidden in all sorts of places. Stuffed down in the cushions of chairs and sofas, on mantels and brackets, under rugs and footstools, on window sills, on the floor, on the chandeliers, they seemed to be everywhere. All over the house the children scampered, filling their baskets as they went.
Sometimes two would make a dash for the same nut, and two bumped heads would ensue, but this was looked upon as part of the fun.
The older children gathered their nuts from the highest places, leaving the low places for the little ones to look into.
Rosy Posy found most of those on the floor, behind the lace curtains or portieres, as she toddled about with her basket on one arm and Boffin in the other.
At last the whole house had been pretty thoroughly ransacked, and the nutting-party returned in triumph with loaded baskets.
"Did you look under the sofa pillows on the couch in this room?" said Mr. Maynard, gravely, and seven pairs of legs scampered for the couch.
Under its pillows they found three big cocoanuts, and Mr. Maynard declared that completed the hunt.
Meantime, the big, round table in the middle of the room had been cleared of its books and papers, and the children were directed to empty their baskets of nuts on the table, taking care that none should roll off the edge. The seven basketsful were tumbled out, and a goodly heap they made.
Then the seven sat round the table, and to each one was given a tiny pair of candy tongs, such as comes with the confectioner's boxes.
"This is a new game," explained Mr. Maynard, "and it's called Jacknuts. It is played just the same as Jackstraws. Each, in turn, must take nuts from the heap with the tongs. If you jar or jostle another nut than the one you're taking away, it is then the next player's turn."
Of course they all knew how to play Jackstraws, so they understood at once, but this was much more fun.
"The first ones are so easy, let's give Rosy Posy the first chance," said Dick Fulton, and Mr. Maynard, with a nod of approval at the boy, agreed to this plan. So Rosy Posy, her fat little hand grasping the tiny tongs, succeeded in getting nearly a dozen nuts into her basket.
As Dorothy Adams was not quite as old as Kitty, she took her turn next, and then all followed in accordance with their ages.
It was a fascinating game. Some of the little hazelnuts or the slender peanuts were easy to nip with the tongs, but the big English walnuts, or queer-shaped Madeira nuts were very difficult. Great delicacy of touch was necessary, and the children found the new game enthralling.
After her first turn Rosy Posy ran away from the game, and Mr. Maynard took her place.
"Oho, Father," laughed Kitty, "I thought you'd get them all, but you're no more successful at it than we are."
"No," said Mr. Maynard, looking with chagrin at his small heap of nuts, "my fingers are too old and stiff, I think."
"So are mine," said Marjorie, laughing.
"You're too fat, Dumpling," said her father. "Kitty's slim little claws seem to do the best work."
"I think it's a steady hand that counts," said Dick; "watch me now!"
With great care, and very slowly, he picked off several nuts that were daintily balanced on the other nuts, but at last he joggled one, and it was King's turn.
"I believe in going fast," said King, and like a whirlwind he picked off four nuts, one after the other. But his last one sent several others flying, and so left an easy chance for Gladys, who came next.
"There's a prize for this game," announced Mr. Maynard, after the table was entirely cleared, and the nuts were again all in the seven baskets. "In fact there's a prize apiece, all round. And the prizes are nuts, of course. You may each have one."
"One nut!" cried Marjorie. "What a little prize!"
"Not so very little," said her father, smiling.
Then Sarah appeared with a plate of doughnuts, and everybody gladly took a prize. A glass of milk went with each of these nuts, and then the children clamored to play the game all over again.
"No, indeed!" said Mr. Maynard. "You can play that any day in the year, but just now we're having a picnic, and the picnic must proceed with its programme."
"All right!" cried Marjorie. "What comes next?"
"Crackers," said her father. "Bring them in, please, Sarah."
"Crackers!" exclaimed King. "I don't want any after that big doughnut."
"You must take one, though," said his father, "it's part of the programme."
Then Sarah came, and brought a big tray on which were three nutcrackers, some nutpicks, and several bowls and plates.
"Take a cracker, King," said Mr. Maynard, and the boy promptly took the biggest nutcracker, ready to do the hardest work.
The girls took nutpicks and bowls, and Mr. Maynard and Dick Fulton took the other two nutcrackers, and then work began in earnest. But the work was really play, and they all enjoyed cracking and picking out the nuts, though what they were doing it for nobody knew. But with so many at it, it was soon over, and the result was several bowlsful of kernels. The shells were thrown into the fire, and Mr. Maynard directed that the seven empty baskets be set aside till later.
"We haven't cracked the cocoanuts yet," said Dick. "They're too big for these nutcrackers."
"So they are," said Mr. Maynard. "Well, I'll tell you what we'll do. We'll take them to the dining-room and continue our nut game out there."
So each carried a bowl of nuts, or a cocoanut, and all went to the dining-room.
There the extension-table was spread out full length, and contained a lot of things. On big sheets of white paper were piles of sifted sugar. Large empty bowls there were, and big spoons, and plates and dishes filled with figs and dates, and oranges and all sorts of goodies.
"What's it all for?" said Marjorie. "It's too early for lunch, and too late for breakfast."
"It's the rest of the nut game," said Mr. Maynard. "I am Professor Nuttall, or Know-it-all; and I'm going to teach you children what I hope will be a valuable accomplishment. Do any of you like candy?"
Replies of "We do," and "Yes, sir," came so emphatically that Mr. Maynard seemed satisfied with the answers.
"Well, then, we'll make some candy that shall be just the best ever! How's that?"
"Fine!" "Glorious!" "Goody, goody!" "Great!" "Oh, Father!" and "Ah!" came loudly from six young throats, and Mrs. Maynard and Rosy Posy came to join the game.
Sarah came, too, bringing white aprons for everybody, boys and all, and then Nurse Nannie appeared, and marched them off, two by two, to wash their hands for the candy-making process.
A NOVEL PICNIC
But at last they were all ready to begin.
Mr. Maynard, in his position of teacher, insisted on absolute system and method, and everything was arranged with care and regularity.
"The first thing to learn in candy-making," he said, "is neatness; and the second, accuracy."
"Why, Father," cried Dorothy, "I didn't know you knew how to make candy!"
"I know more than you'd believe, to look at me. And now, if you four girls will each squeeze the juice of an orange into a cup, we'll begin."
Marjorie and Kitty and Gladys and Dorothy obeyed instructions exactly, and soon each was carefully breaking an egg, and still more carefully separating the white from the yolk.
Mrs. Maynard seemed to find plenty to do just waiting on the workers, and it was largely owing to her thoughtfulness that oranges and eggs and cups and spoons appeared when needed, almost as if by magic.
Meantime the two boys were working rapidly and carefully, too. They grated cocoanut and chocolate; they cut up figs and seeded dates; they chopped nuts and raisins; and they received admiring compliments from Mrs. Maynard for the satisfactory results of their work.
"Oh, isn't it fun!" exclaimed Marjorie, as she and Gladys were taught to mould the creamy, white fondant they had made, into tiny balls. Some of these white balls the smaller girls pressed between two nut kernels, or into a split date; and others were to be made into chocolate creams. This last was a thrilling process, for it was not easy at first to drop the white ball into the hot black chocolate, and remove it daintily with a silver fork, being most careful the while not to leave untidy drippings.
Cocoanut balls were made, and nougat, which was cut into cubes, and lovely, flat peanut sugar cakes.
The boys did all these things quite as well as the girls, and all, except Rosy Posy, worked with a will and really accomplished wonders.
Each was allowed to eat five finished candies of any sort and at any time they chose, but they were on their honor not to eat more than five.
"Oh," sighed Marjorie, as she looked at the shining rows of goodies on plates and tins, "I'd like to eat a hundred!"
"You wouldn't want any luncheon, then," said her father. "And as it's now noon, and as our candies are all done, I suggest that you all scamper away to some place where soap and water grow wild, and return as soon as possible, all tidy and neat for our picnic luncheon."
"Lunch time!" cried Gladys, in surprise. "It can't be! Why, we've only been here a little while."
But it was half-past twelve, and for the first time that whole morning the children looked out of the windows.
"It's still raining," said King, "and I'm glad of it. We're having more fun than at an outdoor picnic, I think."
"So do I!" cried all the others, as they ran away upstairs.
Shortly after, seven very spick-and-span-looking children presented themselves in the lower hall. Curls had been brushed, hair-ribbons freshly tied, and even Boffin had a new blue ribbon round his neck.
"Now for the real picnic!" cried Mr. Maynard, as he led the way into the living-room.
As Marjorie entered, she gave a shriek of delight, and turned to rush into her father's arms.
"Oh, Daddy!" she cried. "You do beat the Dutch! What a lovely picnic! It's a million times better than going to the woods!"
"Especially on a day like this," said her father.
The others, too, gave exclamations of joy, and indeed that was small wonder.
The whole room had almost been turned into a woodland glen.
On the floor were spread some old green muslin curtains that had once been used for private theatricals or something.
Round the walls stood all the palms and ferns and plants that belonged in other parts of the house, and these were enough to give quite an outdoorsy look to the place.
To add to this, great branches of leaves were thrust behind sofas or tables. Some leaves were green and some had already turned to autumn tints, so it was almost like a real wood.
Chairs and tables had been taken away, and to sit on, the children found some big logs of wood, like trunks of fallen trees, and some large, flat stones.
James, the coachman, and Thomas, the gardener, had been working at the room all the time the children were making candy, and even now they were peeping in at the windows to see the young people enjoying themselves.
In the middle of the room was what looked like a big, flat rock. As it was covered with an old, gray rubber waterproof, it was probably an artificial rock, but it answered its purpose. Real stones, twigs, leaves, and even clumps of moss were all about on the green floor cloth, and overhead were the children's birds, which had been brought down from the playroom, and which sang gaily in honor of the occasion.
"Isn't it wonderful?" said Dorothy Adams, a little awed at the transformation scene; "how did you do it, Mr. Maynard?"
"I told my children," he replied, "that since they couldn't go to the picnic the picnic should come to them, and here it is."
Rosy Posy discovered a pile of hay in a corner, and plumped herself down upon it, still holding tightly her beloved Boffin.
Then James and Thomas came in carrying big, covered baskets.
"The picnic! The picnic!" cried Rosy Posy, to whom a picnic meant chiefly the feast thereof.
After the baskets were deposited on the ground near the flat rock, James and Thomas went away, and none of the servants remained but Nurse Nannie, who would have gone to the picnic in the wood, and who was needed to look after little Rosamond.
"Now, my boys," said Mr. Maynard, "we must wait on ourselves, you know; and on the ladies. This is a real picnic."
Very willingly the boys fell upon the baskets, and soon had their contents set out upon the big rocks.
Such shouts of delight as went up at sight of those contents!
And indeed it was fun!
No china dishes or linen napery, but wooden plates and Japanese paper napkins in true picnic style. Then while the girls set the viands in order, the boys mended the fire in the big fireplace, and put potatoes in to roast. Mrs. Maynard had thoughtfully selected small potatoes, and so they were soon done, and with butter and pepper and salt they tasted exactly as roast potatoes do in the woods, and every one knows there is no better taste than that!
While the potatoes were roasting, too, the lemonade must be made. Mr. Maynard and Dick Fulton squeezed the lemons, while Kingdon volunteered to go down to the spring for water.
This made great fun, for they all knew he only went to the kitchen, but he returned with a pail of "cold spring water," and then Mrs. Maynard attended to the mixing of the lemonade.
The feast itself was found to include everything that had been asked for beforehand.
Cold chicken, devilled eggs, sandwiches, lemon tarts, all were there, besides lots of other good things.
They all pretended, of course, that they were really in the woods.
"How blue the sky is to-day," said Mr. Maynard, looking upward, as he sat on a log, with a sandwich in one hand and a glass of lemonade in the other.
As the ceiling was papered in a design of white and gold, it required some imagination to follow his remark, but they were all equal to it.
"Yes," said Marjorie, gazing intently skyward; "it's a beeyootiful day. But I see a slight cloud, as if it might rain to-morrow."
"We need rain," said Mr. Maynard; "the country is drying up for the lack of it."
As it was still pouring steadily, this was very funny, and of course they all giggled.
Then King went on.
"The sun is so bright it hurts my eyes. I wish I had a pair of green glasses to protect them."
"Or a parasol," said Gladys. "I'm sorry I left mine at home."
"What are we going to do at the picnic this afternoon, Father?" asked Kitty.
"I thought we'd fly kites," said Mr. Maynard, "but there isn't a breath of air stirring, so we can't."
The wind was blowing a perfect gale, so this made them all laugh again, and Gladys said to Marjorie, "I do think your father is the funniest man!"
At last the more substantial part of the luncheon was over, and it was time for the ice-cream.
The freezer was brought right into the picnic ground, and Kingdon and Dick were asked to dig the ice-cream out with a big wooden spoon, just as they always did at picnics. The heaps of pink and white delight, on fresh pasteboard plates, were passed around, and were eaten by those surprising children with as much relish as if they hadn't just consumed several basketsful of other things.
Then the candies were brought in, but, strange to say, nobody cared much for any just then.
So Mrs. Maynard had the seven pretty fancy baskets, that they had gathered nuts in, brought back, and each child was allowed to fill a basket with the pretty candies.
These were set away until the picnic was over, when they were to be taken home as souvenirs.
Luncheon over, Mr. Maynard decreed that the picnickers needn't do the cleaning away, as that couldn't be done by merely throwing away things as they did in the woods.
So Sarah came in to tidy up the room, and Mr. Maynard seated his whole party on the big logs and stones, while he told them stories.
The stories were well worth listening to, and though Rosy Posy fell asleep, the others listened breathlessly to the tales which were told in a truly dramatic fashion. But after an hour or so of this, Mr. Maynard suddenly declared that the picnic was becoming too quiet.
"I wanted you all to sit still for a while after your hearty luncheon," he said, "but now you need exercise. Shall we play 'Still Pond'?"
A howl of glee greeted this suggestion, for Still Pond in the house was usually a forbidden game.
As you probably know, it is like Blindman's Buff, only the ones who are not blinded may not move.
Marjorie was "It" first, and after being carefully blindfolded by her father, she stood still in the middle of the floor and counted ten very slowly. While she did this, the others placed themselves behind tables or chairs, or wherever they felt safe from the blindfolded pursuer.
"Ten!" cried Marjorie, at last. "Still Pond! No moving!"
This was a signal for perfect quiet; any one moving after that had to be "It" in turn.
No sound was heard, so Marjorie felt her way cautiously about until she should catch some one. It was hard for the others not to laugh as she narrowly escaped touching Kingdon's head above the back of the sofa, and almost caught Kitty's foot as it swung from a table. But at last she caught her father, who was on the floor covered up with an afghan, and so Mr. Maynard was "It" in his turn.
It was a rollicking game, and a very exciting one, and, as often was the case, it soon merged into Blindman's Buff. This was even more romping and noisy, and soon the picnic sounded like Pandemonium let loose.
"Good!" cried Mr. Maynard, as he looked at the red, laughing faces, and moist, tumbled curls. "You look just like a lot of healthy, happy boys and girls should look, but that's enough of that. Now, we'll sit down in a circle, and play quiet games."
Again the group occupied the logs and stones, ottomans and sofa cushions if they preferred, and they played guessing games selected by each in turn.
When it was Mr. Maynard's turn, he said he would teach them the game of the Popular Picnic. He began by telling them they must each in turn repeat what he himself should say.
Turning to Kingdon, he said, "To-day I have been to the Popular Picnic."
So Kingdon said to Dick, "To-day I have been to the Popular Picnic."
Then Dick said it to Marjorie, and Marjorie to Gladys, and so on all round the circle.
Then Mr. Maynard said, gravely: "To-day I have been to the Popular Picnic. Merry, madcap Mopsy Midget was there."
This was repeated all round, and then to the lingo Mr. Maynard added, "Kicking, kinky-legged Kingdon was there."
This, after the other, was not so easy, but they all repeated it.
Next came, "Dear, dainty, do-little Dorothy was there."
This made them laugh, but they said it safely all round.
Then, "Delightful, dangerous, Deadwood Dick was there."
They had to help each other this time, but not one of them would give up the game.
"Gay, gregarious, giggling Gladys was there."
Gladys was indeed giggling, but so were all the others. Still they were a determined lot, and each time round each one repeated all the sets of names, amid the laughing of the others.
"Kind-hearted, Kindergarten Kitty," was an easy one, but when the list wound up with "Rollicking Rufflecumtuffle Rosy Posy," the game ended in a gale of laughter.
But they remembered many of the funny phrases, and often called each other by them afterward.
"Now," said Mr. Maynard, "we'll play something less wearing on the intellect. This is called the motor-car game, and you must all sit in a row. Kingdon, you're the chauffeur, and when chauffeur is mentioned, you must make a 'chuff-chuff' sound like starting the machine. Dick, you're the tire, and when tire is said, you must make a fearful report like an explosion of a bursting tire. Dorothy, you're the number, and when number is mentioned, you must say six-three-nine-nine-seven."
"What am I, Father?" said impatient Kitty.
"Oh, you're the man that they run over, and you must groan and scream. Marjorie, you're the speed limit, and you must cry, 'Whiz! Zip!! Whizz!!!' Gladys, you're the dust. All you have to do is to fly about and wave your arms and hands, and sneeze. Rosy Posy, baby, you're the horn. Whenever father says horn, you must say 'Toot, toot!' Will you?"
"Ess. Me play game booful, me an' Boffin; we say, 'Toot, toot!'"
"Now," went on Mr. Maynard, "I'll tell the story and when any of you are mentioned you must do your part. Then if I say automobile, you must all do your parts at once. Ready now: Well, this morning I started out for a ride and first thing I knew my tire burst."
A fearful "Plop!" from Dick startled them all, and then the game went on.
"I feared I was exceeding the speed-limit [much puffing and whizzing from Marjorie], and as I looked back through the dust [great cloud of dust represented by Gladys' pantomime] I saw I had run over a man!"
The awful groans and wails from Kitty were so realistic that Mr. Maynard himself shook with laughter.
"I sounded my horn——"
"Tooty-toot-toot!" said Rosy Posy, after being prompted by Kingdon.
"But as I was my own chauffeur"—here Kingdon's representation of a starting motor quite drowned the speaker's voice—"I hastened on before they could even get my number."
"Eight-six-eleven-nine," cried Dorothy, quite forgetting the numbers she had been told. But nobody minded it, for just then Mr. Maynard said, "And so I went home with my automobile."
At this everybody turned up at once, and the dust cloud flew about, and the man who was run over groaned fearfully, and tires burst one after another, and the horn tooted, until Mr. Maynard was really obliged to cry for mercy, and the game was at an end.
The afternoon, too, was nearly at an end, and so quickly had it flown that nobody could believe it was almost six o'clock!
But it was, and it was time for the picnic to break up, and for the little guests to go home. It had stopped raining, but was still dull and wet, so the raincoats were donned again, and, with their beautiful baskets of candies wrapped in protecting tissue papers, Gladys and Dorothy and Dick clambered into Mr. Maynard's carriage and were driven to their homes.
"Good-bye!" they called, as they drove away. "Good-bye, all! We've had a lovely time!"
"Lovely? I should say so!" said Marjorie, who was clinging to her father's arm. "It's been the very best Ourday ever, and I'm so glad it rained!"
"My prophecy has come true!" declared Mr. Maynard, striking a dramatic attitude. "Only this morning I prognosticated you'd say that, and you——"
"And I didn't see how it could be possible," agreed Marjorie, wagging her head, wisely. "I know it. But you made it possible, you beautiful, dear, smart, clever, sweet father, you, and I've had just the elegantest time!"
"When it's my turn, I shall choose a picnic in the house," said Kitty.
"Not unless it's a rainy day," said her father. "I've enjoyed the day, too, but I can tell you it's no joke to get up this kind of a picnic. Why, I was telephoning and sending errands for two hours before you kiddies were awake this morning."
"Dear Daddy," said Marjorie, caressing his hand in both her own, "you are so good to us; and I do hope it will rain next Ourday!"
"So do I!" said all the others.
THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
At last schooldays began, and one Monday morning the three Maynards started off.
The first day of school was a great occasion, and much preparation had been made for it.
Mr. Maynard had brought each of the children a fine new box, well stocked with pencils, pens, and things of that sort. Kitty had a new slate, and Midget and King had new blankbooks.
Also, they were all in a state of clean starchiness, and the girls' pretty gingham dresses and King's wide white collar were immaculate.
Marjorie didn't look especially happy, but her mother said:
"Now, Mopsy, dear, don't go to school as if it were penance. Try to enjoy it, and think of the fun you'll have playing with the other girls at recess."
"I know, Mother; but recess is so short, and school is so long."
"Ho! Only till one o'clock," said Kingdon. "Then we can come home, have lunch, and then there's all the afternoon to play."
"Yes, for you," said Marjorie. "But I have to practise a whole hour, and that leaves almost no time at all, and there are so many things I want to do."
"Now, my little girl," said Mrs. Maynard, very seriously, "you must try to conquer that mood. You know you have to go to school, so why not make the best of it? You don't really dislike it as much as you think you do. So, cheer up, little daughter, and run along, determined to see the bright side, even of school."
"I will try, Mother," said Midget, smiling, as she received her good-bye kiss, "but I'll be glad when it's one o'clock."
"I wiss me could go to school," said Rosy Posy, wistfully; "me an' Boffin, we'd have fun in school."
"There it is," said Mrs. Maynard, laughing. "Little girls who can go to school don't want to go, and little girls who can't go do want to!"
"You'll go some day, Baby," said King, "but they won't let you take Boffin."
"Den I won't go!" declared Rosy Posy, decidedly.
The three walked down the path to the gate, and, soon after they reached the street, they were joined by several others, also schoolward bound.
Marjorie's spirits rose, as she chatted with the merry young people; and as they passed the Fulton house, and Dick and Gladys came out, Marjorie was so glad to see her friend that she was at once her own happy, merry little self again.
Miss Lawrence's room was one of the pleasantest in the big brick building. When Marjorie and Gladys presented themselves at her desk, and asked if they might sit together, the teacher hesitated. She wanted to grant the request of the little girls, but they had been in her class the year before, and she well knew their propensities for mischief.
"Oh, please, Miss Lawrence!" begged Marjorie; and, "Oh, do say yes!" pleaded Gladys.
It was hard to resist the little coaxers, and Miss Lawrence at last consented.
"But," she said, "you may sit at the same desk only so long as you behave well. If you cut up naughty pranks, I shall separate you for the rest of the term."
"We won't!" "We will be good!" cried the two children, and they ran happily away to their desk.
Each desk was arranged for two occupants, and both Marjorie and Gladys enjoyed putting their things away neatly, and keeping them in good order. They never spilled ink, or kept their papers helter-skelter, and but for their mischievous ways, would have been model pupils indeed.
"Let's be real good all the term, Gladys," said Midget, who was still under the influence of her mother's parting words. "Let's try not to cut up tricks, or do anything bad."
"All right, Mopsy. But you mustn't make me laugh in school. It's when you begin to do funny things that I seem to follow on."
"Well, I won't. I'll be as good as a little white mouse. But if I'm a mouse, I'll nibble your things."
Down went Marjorie's curly head like a flash, and when it came up again, Gladys' new penholder was between her teeth, and the "mouse" was vigorously nibbling it.
"Stop that, Mops! I think you're real mean! That's my new penholder, and now you've spoiled it."
"So I have! Honest, Gladys, I didn't think the dents would show so. I was just playing mouse, you know. Here, I'll change, and give you mine. It's new, too."
"No, I won't take it."
"Yes, you will; you must. I'm awfully sorry I chewed yours."
Poor little Midget! She was always impulsively getting into mischief, but she was always sorry, and generously anxious to make amends.
So Gladys took Marjorie's penholder, and Mopsy had the nibbled one. She didn't like it a bit, for she liked to have her things in good order, but she said to Gladys:
"Perhaps it will make me remember to be good in school. Oh, s'pose I'd played mouse in school hours!"
"Keep still," said Gladys, "the bell has rung."
The morning passed pleasantly enough, for there were no lessons on the first day of school.
Books were distributed, and class records were made, and lessons given out for next day.
Marjorie was delighted with her new geography, which was a larger book than the one she had had the year before. Especially was she pleased with a large map which was called the "Water Hemisphere." On the opposite page was the "Land Hemisphere," and this was a division of the globe she had never seen before.
The Water Hemisphere pleased her best, and she at once began to play games with it.
Talking was, of course, forbidden, but motioning for Gladys to follow her example, she made a tiny paper boat, and then another, and several others. These she set afloat on the printed ocean of the Water Hemisphere. Gladys, delighted with the fun, quickly made some boats for herself, and arranged them on her own geography. Other pupils, seeing what was going on, followed the example, and soon nearly all the geographies in the room had little paper craft dotting their oceans.
Next, Marjorie made some little men and women to put in the boats. She had no scissors, but tore them roughly out of paper which she took from her blankbook. Other leaves of this she obligingly passed around, until all the boats in the room were supplied with passengers.
Then Marjorie, still in her position of leader, tore out a semblance of a fish. It seemed to be a whale or shark, with wide-open jaws.
This awful creature came slowly up from the Antarctic Ocean, toward the ships full of people.
Suddenly a boat upset, the passengers fell out, and the whale made a dash for them.
This awful catastrophe was repeated in the other oceans, and, needless to say, in a moment the whole roomful of children were in peals of laughter.
Miss Lawrence looked up from her writing, and saw her class all giggling and shaking behind their geographies. Instinctively she glanced toward Marjorie, but that innocent damsel had swept all her boats and whales into her pocket, and was demurely studying her lessons.
Marjorie did not in the least mean to deceive Miss Lawrence, but when the children all laughed, she suddenly realized that she had been out of order, and so she quickly stopped her play, and resumed her task.
Observing the open geographies covered with scraps of paper, Miss Lawrence felt she must at least inquire into the matter, and, though the children did not want to "tell tales," it soon transpired that Marjorie Maynard had been ringleader in the game.
"Why did you do it, Marjorie?" asked Miss Lawrence, with a reproachful expression on her face. As she had meant no harm, Marjorie felt called upon to defend herself.
"Why, Miss Lawrence," she said, rising in her seat, "I didn't think everybody would do it, just because I did. And I didn't think much about it anyway. I s'pose that's the trouble. I never think! But I never had a jography before with such a big ocean map, and it was such a lovely place to sail boats, I just made a few. And then I just thought I'd put some people in the boats, and then it seemed as if such a big ocean ought to have fish in it. So I made a whale,—and I was going to make a lot of bluefish and shads and things, but a boat upset, and the whale came after the people, and then, first thing I knew, everybody was laughing! I didn't mean to do wrong."
Marjorie looked so genuinely distressed that Miss Lawrence hadn't the heart to scold her. But she sighed as she thought of the days to come.
"No, Marjorie," she said, "I don't think you did mean to do wrong, but you ought to know better than to make paper toys to play with in school."
"But it isn't exactly a schoolday, Miss Lawrence."
"No; and for that very reason I shall not punish you this time. But remember, after this, that playing games of any sort is out of place in the schoolroom."
"Yes, ma'am," said Marjorie, and she sat down, feeling that she had been forgiven, and firmly resolved to try harder than ever to be good.
But half-suppressed chuckles now and then, in different parts of the schoolroom, proved to the watchful Miss Lawrence that some of the whales were still lashing about the paper oceans in quest of upturned boats.
The game so filled Marjorie's thoughts that she asked that Gladys and she might be allowed to stay in the schoolroom at recess and play it.
"There's surely no harm in playing games at recess, is there, Miss Lawrence?" she asked, as she caressed her teacher's hand.
Miss Lawrence hesitated. "No," she said, at last; "I can't let you stay in the schoolroom. I'm sorry, dearies, and I hate to be always saying 'No,' but I feel sure your parents want you to run out in the fresh air at recess time, and they wouldn't like to have you stay indoors."
"Oh, dear," said Marjorie; "seems 'sif we can't have any fun!" Then her face brightened, and she added, "But mayn't we take our jographies out on the playground, and play out there?"
There was a rule against taking schoolbooks out of the classrooms, but Miss Lawrence so disliked to say 'No' again that she made a special dispensation, and said:
"Yes, do take your geographies out with you. But be very careful not to soil or tear them."
And so the two girls danced away, and all through the recess hour, boats upset and awful sharks swallowed shrieking victims. But, as might have been expected, most of the other children came flying back to the schoolroom for their geographies, and again Miss Lawrence was in a quandary.
"I never saw a child like Marjorie Maynard," she confided to another teacher. "She's the dearest little girl, but she gets up such crazy schemes, and all the others follow in her footsteps."
So, after recess, Miss Lawrence had to make a rule that books could not be used as playthings, even at recess times.
For the rest of the morning, Marjorie was a model pupil.
She studied her lessons for the next day, and though Miss Lawrence glanced at her from time to time, she never saw anything amiss.
But when school was over at one o'clock, Marjorie drew a long breath and fairly flew for her hat.
"Good-bye, dearie," said Miss Lawrence, as Midge passed her when the long line filed out.
"Good-bye!" was the smiling response, and in two minutes more Mopsy was skipping and jumping across the playground.
"Hello, King!" she called. "Where's Kitty? Oh, here you are! Now we can all go home together. What shall we do this afternoon? I want to do something jolly to take the taste of school out of my mouth."
"Come over to our house and play in the hay," said Dick Fulton.
"All right, we will. I'll have my practising done by three o'clock, and we'll come then."
A little later, and the three Maynards flew in at their own gate, and found a warm welcome and a specially good luncheon awaiting them.
"I got along pretty well, Mother," said Marjorie, as they all told their morning's experiences. "Only I couldn't help playing paper boats." She told the whole story, and Mrs. Maynard smiled as she said:
"Marjorie, you are incorrigible; but I fear you will only learn by experience——"
"What is incorrigible?" asked Marjorie.
"It's 'most too big a word for you to understand," said her mother, "but it means you must just keep on everlastingly trying to be good."
"I will," said Mops, heartily, and then she turned her attention to the chicken pie before her.
THE JINKS CLUB
Saturday was hailed with delight by the four Maynards.
Now that school had begun, a whole playday meant more than it did in vacation time, when all days were playdays.
It was a glorious September day, and as it was an early autumn, many leaves had fallen and lay thick upon the ground.
"I know what to do," said Marjorie, as directly after breakfast they put on hats and coats for outdoor play of some sort. "Let's make leaf-houses."
"All right," said Kingdon, "and let's telephone for the others."
"The others" always meant the two Fultons and Kitty's friend, Dorothy Adams.
Rosy Posy was too little to have a special chum, so Boffin was her companion.
Leaf-houses was a favorite game with all of them, and soon the three guests came skipping through the gate.
The leaves had been raked from the lawn, but down in the orchard they were on the ground like a thick carpet. The orchard had many maples and elms, as well as fruit trees, so there were leaves of all sorts.
"Isn't it fun to scuffle through 'em!" said Marjorie, as she led the way, shuffling along, almost knee-deep in the brown, dry leaves.
"More fun to roll!" cried Dick, tumbling down and floundering about.
Down went Rosy Posy in imitation of Dick's performance, and then they all fell into the leaves, and burrowed about like rabbits.
Presently Marjorie's head emerged like a bright-eyed turtle poking out from its shell, and shaking the dead leaves out of her curls, she said: "Come on, let's make houses. King, won't you and Dick get some rakes?"
The boys flew off to the toolhouse, and came back with several rakes, both wood and iron ones.
"Here's all we can find," said King. "Some of us can rake, and some can build things."
They all set to work with a will, and soon two houses were in process of construction.
These houses were, of course, merely a ground plan, and long, low piles of leaves divided the rooms. Openings in these partitions made doors, and the furniture was also formed of heaps of leaves. A long heap was a sofa, and a smaller heap a chair, while a round, flat heap was a table.
King, Gladys, and Dorothy were one family, while Dick, Marjorie, and Kitty were the other.
Rosy Posy was supposed to be an orphan child, who lived with one family or the other in turn, as suited her somewhat fickle fancy.
In each family the children represented father, mother, and daughter, and they were pleasantly neighborly, or at odds with each other, as occasion required.
To-day the spirit of adventure was strong in Marjorie, and she decreed they should play robbers.
This was always a good game, so they all agreed.
"First, King's family must be robbed," said Midget; "and then, after you catch us, you rob us."
The burglaries were thus amicably planned, and Kingdon and his family, lying on leaf-couches, fell into a deep, but somewhat noisy slumber. Indeed, their snoring was loud enough to frighten away most robbers.
Rosy Posy didn't count in this game, so she was allowed to wander in and out of either house.
When the Kingdon family were very sound asleep, the Dick family crept softly in through the open doors, and endeavored to steal certain valuable silver from the sideboard. This silver was admirably represented by chips and sticks.
Dick and Marjorie had secured their booty and were carefully sneaking away when King awoke, and with a howl pounced upon Kitty, who was still industriously stealing silver.
This, of course, was part of the game, and Dick and Midget wrung their hands in despair as they saw their daughter forcibly detained by the master of the house.
Then Gladys and Dorothy were awakened by the noise, and added their frightened screams to the general hullaballoo.
Kitty was bound hand and foot in the very dining-room where the silver had been, and King went valiantly out to hunt the other marauders. Then the game was for King and his family to try to catch Dick and Midget, or for Kitty's parents to release her from her bondage.
At last, as King and Gladys were both engaged in chasing Dick, Marjorie found an opportunity to free Kitty, and then the game began again, the other way round.
At last they tired of hostilities and agreed to rebuild their houses, combining them in one, and calling it a big hotel.
"Or a clubhouse," said King, who had recently visited one with his father, and had been much impressed.
"Clubhouses are grand," he said. "They have porches, and swimming-pools, and gyms, and dining-rooms, and everything!"
So the architecture was changed, and soon a fine clubhouse was outlined in leafy relief.
"Then if this is a clubhouse, we're a club," said Kitty, thoughtfully.
"Oh, let's be a club!" exclaimed Marjorie. "Clubs are lots of fun. I mean children's clubs—not big ones like father's."
"What do clubs do?" asked Dorothy, who had a wholesome fear of some of the Maynards' escapades.
"Why, we can do anything we want to, if we're a club," said Dick. "I think it would be fun. What shall we do?"
"Let's cut up jinks," said Marjorie, who was especially energetic that day.
"And let's call it the Jinks Club," suggested Gladys.
"Goody! Goody!!" cried Midge. "Just the thing, Glad! And then we can cut up any jinks we want to,—as long as they're good jinks," she added, thoughtfully.
"What do you mean by that?" demanded King.
"Well, you see, last summer at Grandma's, she told me there were good jinks and bad jinks. She meant just plain fun, or real mischief. And I promised I'd cut up only good jinks."
"All right," said Dick, "I'll agree to that. We just want to have fun, you know; not get into mischief."
So, as they were all agreed on this, the Jinks Club was started.
"I'll be president," volunteered Marjorie.
"Does somebody have to be president?" asked Gladys. "And does the president have all the say?"
"Let's all be presidents," said King. "I know clubs usually have only one; but who cares? We'll be different."
"All right," said Marjorie. "And, anyway, we won't need a secretary and treasurer and such things, so we'll each be president. I think that will be more fun, too."
"Me be president," announced Rosy Posy, "an' Boffin be a president, too."
"Yes," said King, smiling at his baby sister, "you and Boff and all the rest of us. Then, you see, we can all make rules, if we want to."
"We don't need many rules," said Dick. "Just a few about meetings and things. When shall we meet?"
"Every day after school, and every Saturday," said Marjorie, who was of a whole-souled nature.
"Oh, no!" said Gladys. "I know Mother won't let me come as often as that."
"Don't let's have special times," said King. "Just whenever we're all together, we'll have a meeting."
This was agreed to, but Marjorie didn't seem quite satisfied.
"It doesn't seem like a real club," she said, "unless we have dues and badges and things like that."
"Huh, dues!" said King. "I want to spend my money for other things besides dues to an old club! What would we do with the dues, anyway?"
"Oh, save them up in the treasury," said Marjorie, "until we had enough to go to the circus, or something nice like that."
This sounded attractive, and King reconsidered.
"Well, I don't mind," he said. "But I won't give all my money. I have fifty cents a week. I'll give ten."
"So will I," said Dick, and the others all agreed to do the same.
Of course, Rosy Posy didn't count, so this made sixty cents a week, and furthermore it necessitated a treasurer.
"Let's each be treasurer," said King, remembering how well his presidential plan had succeeded.
"No," said Midget; "that's silly. I'll be treasurer, and I'll keep all the money safely, until we want to use it for something nice."
"Yes, let's do that," said Gladys. "Mopsy's awfully careful about such things, and she'll keep the money better than any of us. I haven't mine here now; I'll bring it over this afternoon."
"I don't care much about the money part," said King. "I want to cut up jinks. When do we begin?"
"Right now!" said Marjorie, jumping up. "The first jink is to bury King in leaves!"
The rest caught the idea, and in a moment the luckless Kingdon was on his back and held down by Dick, while the girls piled leaves all over him. They left his face uncovered, so he could breathe, but they heaped leaves over the rest of him, and packed them down firmly, so he couldn't move.
When he was thoroughly buried, Marjorie said: "Now we'll hide. Don't start to hunt till you count fifty, King."