Girl Scouts Series, Volume 1
THE GIRL SCOUTS AT HOME
Rosanna's Beautiful Day
KATHERINE KEENE GALT
The Saalfield Publishing Company Chicago Akron, Ohio New York Made in U. S. A. Copyright, MCMXXI, by The Saalfield Publishing Company
THE GIRL SCOUTS SERIES
1 THE GIRL SCOUTS AT HOME
2 THE GIRL SCOUTS RALLY
3 THE GIRL SCOUT'S TRIUMPH
THE GIRL SCOUTS AT HOME
Little Rosanna Horton was a very poor little girl. When I tell you more about her, you will think that was a very odd thing to say.
She lived in one of the most beautiful homes in Louisville, a city full of beautiful homes. And Rosanna's was one of the loveliest. It was a great, rambling house of red brick with wide porches in the front and on either side. On the right of the house was a wonderful garden. It covered half a square, and was surrounded by a high stone wall. No one could look in to see what she was doing. That was rather nice, but of course no one could look out either to see what they were doing on the brick sidewalk, and that does not seem so nice.
At the back of the garden, facing on a clean bricked alley, was the garage, big enough to hold four automobiles. The garage was covered with vines. Otherwise, it would have been a queer looking building, with its one door opening into the garden, and on that side not another door or window either upstairs or down. The upstairs part was a really lovely little apartment for the chauffeur to live in, but all the windows had been put on the side or in front because old Mrs. Horton, Rosanna's grandmother, did not think that chauffeurs' families were ever the sort who ought to look down into the garden where Rosanna played and where she herself sat in state and had tea served of an afternoon.
At one side of the garden where the roses were wildest and the flowers grew thickest was a little cottage, built to fit Rosanna. Grown people had to stoop to get in and their heads almost scraped the ceilings. The furniture all fitted Rosanna too, even to the tiny piano. This was Rosanna's playhouse. She kept her dolls here, and there was a desk with all sorts of writing paper that a maid sorted and put in order every morning before Rosanna came out.
This doesn't sound as though Rosanna was such a poor little girl, does it? But just you wait.
A good ways back of this playhouse was another small building that looked like a little stable. It was a stable—a really truly stable built to fit Rosanna's tiny pony. He had a little box stall, and at one side there was space for the shiniest, prettiest cart.
Rosanna did not go to school. There was a schoolroom in the house, but I will tell you about that some other time. Rosanna disliked it very much: a schoolroom with just one little girl in it! You wouldn't like it yourself, would you?
Rosanna's clothes were the prettiest ever; much prettier then than they are now. And such stacks of them! There was a whole dresser full of ribbons and trinkets and jewelry besides. (Poor little Rosanna!)
She danced like a fairy, and every day she had a music lesson which was given her, like a bad pill, by a severe lady in spectacles who ought never to have tried to smile because it made her face look cracked all over and you felt so much better when the smile was over. Oh, poor, poor, poor little Rosanna!
Do you begin to guess why?
You have not heard me say a word about her dear loving mother and her big joky father, have you? They were both dead! This is such a pitiful thing to have come to any little girl that I can scarcely bear to tell you. Both were dead, and Rosanna lived with her grandmother, who was a very proud and important lady indeed. There was a young uncle who might have been good friends with Rosanna and made things easier but she scarcely knew him. He had been away to college and after that, three years in the army. Once a week she wrote to him, in France; but her grandmother corrected the letters and usually made her write them over, so they were not very long and certainly were not interesting.
Mrs. Horton was sure that her son's little daughter could never be worthy of her name and family if she was allowed to "mix," as she put it, with other children. So Rosanna was not allowed to have any other children for friends, and Mrs. Horton was too blind with all her foolish family pride to see that Rosanna was getting queer and vain and overbearing. Every day they took a drive together, usually through the parks or out the river road. Mrs. Horton did not like to drive down town. She did not like the people who filled the streets. She said they were "frightfully ordinary." It was a shameful thing to be ordinary in Mrs. Horton's opinion. She had not looked it up in the dictionary or she would have chosen some other word because being ordinary according to the dictionary is no crime at all. It is not even a disgrace.
Rosanna's books were always about flowers and fairies, or animals that talked, or music that romped up and down the bars spelling little words. There were never any people in them, and if any one sent her a book at Christmas about some poor little girl who wore a pinafore and helped her mother and lived in two rooms and was ever so happy, that book had a way of getting itself changed for some other book about bees or flowers the very night before Christmas.
"She will know about those things soon enough," said Rosanna's grandmother.
But every afternoon when they sat in the rose arbor in the middle of the beautiful garden, Rosanna would get tired reading and she would stare up at the clouds and see how many faces she could find.
One day she startled and of course shocked her grandmother by saying in a low voice, "Dean Harriman!"
"Where?" said Mrs. Horton, staring down the walk.
"In that littlest cloud," said Rosanna, unconscious of startling her grandmother. "It is very good of him, only his nose is even funnier than it is really. Sort of knobby, you know."
"Please do not say 'sort of,'" said Mrs. Horton. "And if you are looking at pictures in the clouds, I consider it a waste of time, Rosanna!"
She struck a little bell, and the house boy came hurrying across the lawn. Mrs. Horton turned to him.
"Find Minnie," she said, "and tell her to send Miss Rosanna a volume of Classical Pictures for Young Eyes."
So Rosanna looked at Classical Pictures, and for that afternoon at least kept her young eyes away from the clouds. And never again did she share her pictures with her grandmother.
Rosanna was not a spiritless child, but every day and all day her life slipped on in its dull groove and she did not know how to get out.
Poor little Rosanna! To the little girl behind it, a six-foot brick wall looks as high as the sky. And the garden, as I have told you before, was a very, very big garden indeed. Plenty large enough to be very lonesome in.
One morning Mrs. Horton was not ready to drive at the appointed time. Rosanna was ready, however, and was dancing around on the front porch when the automobile rolled up. She ran toward it but drew back at the sight of a strange chauffeur. He touched his cap and said "Good morning!" in a hearty, friendly way, very different to the stiff manner of the man who had been driving them. Rosanna went down to him.
"Where is Albert?" she asked.
"He does not work here now," said the man. "I have his place."
"What is your name?" said Rosanna.
"John Culver," said the new chauffeur. "What is your name?"
Rosanna frowned a little. She liked this new man with his crinkly, twinkly blue eyes and white teeth. A deep scar creased his jaw, but it did not spoil his friendly, keen face. But chauffeurs usually did not ask her name. There had been so many going and coming during the war. She decided to walk away but could not resist his friendly eyes.
"I am Miss Rosanna," she said proudly.
"Oh!" said the man, and Rosanna had a feeling that he was amused. So she went on speaking. "I will get in the car, if you please, and wait for my grandmother."
He opened the door of the limousine and before she could place her foot on the step, he swung her lightly off her feet and into the car.
"There you are, kiddie!" he said pleasantly, and Rosanna was too stunned to say more than "Thank you!" as the door opened and her grandmother appeared, the maid following, laden with the small dog.
Mrs. Horton nodded to the new man and gave an order as he closed the door.
"Our new man," said Mrs. Horton to Rosanna, then settled back in her corner and took out a list which she commenced to check off with a gold pencil. Rosanna, holding the dog, looked out the windows.
There were children all along the street: little girls playing dolls on front doorsteps and other little girls walking in happy groups or skipping rope. Boys on bicycles circled everywhere and shouted to each other. They made a short cut through one of the poor sections of the city. Here it was the same: children everywhere, all having the best sort of time. They were not so well dressed, that was all the difference. They had the same carefree look in their eyes. Rosanna gazed out wistfully, longingly.
And now you surely guess why Rosanna, with her beautiful home, her pony and her playhouse, her lovely garden, and her room full of pretty things, still was so very, very poor.
Rosanna did not have a single friend.
John Culver brought them home and as they left the car Mrs. Horton enquired, "Is your apartment comfortable, John?"
"Perfectly comfortable, thank you," said Culver.
"You are married?" Mrs. Horton continued.
"Yes," replied Culver.
"One little girl," said Culver, glancing at Rosanna with a smile.
Mrs. Horton saw the look. She said nothing, but when Rosanna sat before her at the great round table, eating her luncheon, Mrs. Horton remarked, "Of course, Rosanna, you will make no effort whatever to meet the child living over the garage. Unless you make the opportunity, she will never see you, thanks to the arrangement of the windows. She is a child that it would be impossible for you to know."
Rosanna did not reply.
"Rosanna?" said her grandmother sharply.
"Yes, grandmother," sighed poor Rosanna.
After luncheon Mrs. Horton dressed and was driven away to a bridge party. Rosanna practiced scales for half an hour, talked French with her governess for another long half, and then wandered out into the garden and commenced to wonder about the child over the garage. How old was she? What was she like? Rosanna wished she could see her. There was a rustic seat near the garage and Rosanna went over and curled up on its rough lap. She stared and stared at the garage, but the blank brick walls with their curtains of vines gave her no hint.
It seemed as though she had been sitting there for hours when she fancied a small voice called, "Hello, Rosanna!"
Rosanna sat perfectly still, staring at the brick wall.
"Hello, Rosanna!" said the voice again softly. It was a strangely sweet, gentle voice and seemed to come from the air. Rosanna cast a startled glance above her.
There was a little laugh. "Look in the tree," said the pleasant voice.
Rosanna, mouth open, eyes popping, looked up.
A big tree growing in the alley, close outside the brick wall, leaned its biggest bough in a friendly fashion over Rosanna's garden. High up something blue fluttered among the thick leaves. Then the branches parted, and a face appeared. Rosanna continued to stare.
The little girl in the tree waved her hand.
"You don't know me, do you, Rosanna?" she teased. "But I know you. You are Rosanna Horton, and you live in that lovely, lovely house and this is your garden. Is that your playhouse over there? And oh, is there an honest-for-truly pony in that little barn? Dad says there really is. Is there?" She stopped for breath, and beamed down on Rosanna.
"How did you get up there?" said Rosanna. She was not allowed to climb trees.
"Father made a little ladder and fastened it to the trunk with wires so it won't hurt the wood. If Mrs. Horton doesn't mind, he is going to fix a little platform up here. There is a splendid place for it. Then I can study up here where it is all cool and breezy and whispery. Don't you like to hear the leaves whisper? He is going to put a rail around it so we won't fall off."
"Who is we?" asked Rosanna. "Have you brothers and sisters?"
"No, I haven't," said the little girl. "Mother says it is my greatest misfortune. She says that I shall have to make a great many friends to make up for it, and that if I don't I will grow selfish. Wouldn't you hate to be selfish? I 'spect you have dozens and dozens of little girls to play with. How happy you must make everybody with your lovely garden and things! My mother says that is what things are for: to share with people. She says it is just like having two big red apples. If you eat them both, why, you don't feel good in your tummy; but if you give one to some one, you feel good everywhere, and you have a good time while you are eating them and get better acquainted, and it just does you good. Do little girls come to see you every day?"
"No," said Rosanna, "I don't know any little girls. My grandmother won't let me."
"Won't let you?" said the girl in the tree in a shocked tone. "Why won't she let you?"
"She says I would learn to speak bad grammar and use slang, and grow up to be vulgar."
"Goodness me!" said the stranger. She sat rocking on her bough for a few minutes. Then: "Why would you have to learn bad things of other girls?" she demanded. "I wouldn't let anybody teach me anything I didn't want to know. I should think it would be nice to have you teach them good grammar if you know it, and not to use slang, and all that. She must think you are soft! My mother says if you are made of putty, you will get dented all over and never be more than an unshapely lump, but if you are made of good stone, you can be carved into something lovely and lasting. But that is just your grandmother," said the girl. "Where is your mother? Is she off visiting?"
"She is dead," said Rosanna. A wave of unspeakable longing for the lost young mother swept over her and her lip trembled as she spoke.
"Oh, poor, poor Rosanna!" said the little tree girl softly. "Oh, Rosanna, I feel so sorry! If you ever want to borrow mine, I wish you would. I wish you would! My mother says that when a woman has even just one child in her heart, it grows so big that it can hold and love all the children in the world. You borrow her any time you need her, Rosanna!" Then feeling that perhaps the conversation ought to take a livelier strain, she did not wait for Rosanna to answer, but continued, "I wish somebody hadn't built this apartment over your garage so that none of the windows look out on your garden. We are going to hate that, aren't we?"
"Grandmother had it built that way so we would not see the people living there," Rosanna explained.
"Oh!" said the tree girl. "Well, of course you know that I live there now. We came two days ago, and my name is Helen Culver. We would love to play together, wouldn't we?"
"Oh, indeed we would!" said Rosanna.
"Well, then we will," said Helen joyfully. "I must go now. I think it is practice time. I will see you after luncheon. Good-bye!" and she slid down the tree and disappeared.
Rosanna went skipping to the house. She was so happy. It was not her practice time, but she was going to practice because Helen was so engaged. Her mind was full of Helen as she sat doing finger exercises and scales. How lovely and clean and bright she looked with her big, blue eyes and blond docked hair! Her teeth were so white and pretty and her voice was so soft and low. And she had a dimple! It was Rosanna's dream to have a dimple in her thin little cheek.
Rosanna commenced to play scales. She took the C scale—it was so easy that she could think. She was so happy that she played it in a very prancy way, up and down, up and down. Then it commenced to stumble and go ve-ry, v-e-r-y slowly. Rosanna had had an awful thought. The same thought had really been there all the time, but her heart was making such a happy noise that she wouldn't let herself hear it. Now, however, it made such a racket she just had to listen. Over and over with the scales it said loudly and harshly, "Will your grandmother let you play with that little girl who lives over the garage? Will your grandmother even let you know that little girl who lives over the garage? Will she? Will she?"
Rosanna Horton knew the answer perfectly well.
The only thing to do, Rosanna decided, was to talk to her grandmother after luncheon when they usually sat in the rose arbor. Rosanna, playing scales, felt quite brave. She would explain everything: how Helen Culver used the best of grammar, and no slang, and climbed trees in rompers and did not scream. Then when she had assured her grandmother of all this, she would tell her quite firmly that she, Rosanna, needed a friend.
It seemed simple and easy, but when luncheon was announced, she decided not to speak until later and when finally they went out to the rose arbor, Rosanna commenced to feel quite shaky and instead of talking she fell into a deep silence.
And then, that minute, that very identical second, something happened that changed everything. A messenger boy came with a telegram. And if it hadn't been for that messenger boy this story would never have happened. If he had been a slow messenger boy, half an hour late...but he just hurried along on his bicycle and arrived that second. Oh, a dozen things might have happened to delay the boy, but there he was just as Rosanna said, "Grandmother!" in a small but firm voice.
Rosanna said nothing more because her grandmother opened the telegram with fingers that shook a little in spite of her iron will. But as she read it a look of relief and joy lighted her proud face.
"Good news, Rosanna," she said. "The best of news! Your Uncle Robert has reached America!"
"Won't he have to fight any more, grandmother?"
"No; he will come home and be with us. But as I have told you, dear, he was slightly wounded over there in Germany, and I think if I can arrange everything for your comfort, I will go and meet him. He is in New York, and I shall see for myself if he needs any doctoring or care that he could not get here. Then perhaps we will stay at the seaside or in the mountains for a week or so. Would you mind being left with the maids for that long? Perhaps one of your little acquaintances would like to come and play with you once or twice a week."
This was a great privilege in her grandmother's eyes, as Rosanna knew, and she said, "Thank you, grandmother," and started to tell her then and there about Helen. But Mrs. Horton went right on talking.
"Come to my room with me while I pack," she said, rising.
Rosanna did not get a chance to say one word to her. She listened while her grandmother called up an intimate friend who lived near by and arranged for her to come in every day to see how Rosanna was getting on. She called John in and told him just where he could drive the car when Miss Rosanna took her daily ride. "If she wants to take a little girl friend with her, she is to do so, as I want her to have a good time," Mrs. Horton told him.
When she woke the next morning, Rosanna lay for a long while thinking.
So Uncle Robert had actually come home! And grandmother had gone to meet him! She might be away a week or more. Then her thoughts flew to Helen. Wasn't it too, too wonderful? Her grandmother had said quite clearly that one of her little acquaintances might come and play with her.
Usually Rosanna took forever to dress. She was really not at all nice about it. Big girl as she was, Minnie always dressed her, and she would scriggle her toes so her stockings wouldn't go on, and would hop up and down so the buttons wouldn't button. It was very exasperating and she should have been soundly spanked for it: but of course Minnie, who was paid generous wages, only said, "Now, Miss Rosanna, don't you bother poor Minnie that-a way!"
This morning, however, she was out of bed and into the cold plunge without being pushed and she actually helped with her stockings. She was ready for breakfast so soon that Minnie said, "Well, well, Miss Rosanna, looks like it does you good to have your grandmother go 'way!"
With one thing and another, she did not get a chance to go down to the overhanging tree until after luncheon.
She peered eagerly up.
Helen was there, curled up on a big bough, a book in her lap and a gray kitten playing around her.
"Here I am!" said Rosanna, smiling.
"And here am I," answered Helen, smiling back.
"Did you expect me sooner?" asked Rosanna.
"No; I was hoping you wouldn't come. I suppose you never have things to do, but I am a very busy little girl. I help mother, and practice my music, and she is teaching me to sew and cook. Of course we have cooking at school but no one can cook like mother, and I want to be just like her. I told her about you last night, and she said you could borrow her whenever you wanted to."
"I too have things to do," said Rosanna, who felt as though she ought to be of some use since Helen was so industrious. "When I get through with my bath mornings Minnie dresses me—"
"Dresses you?" exclaimed Helen in astonishment. "Why, Rosanna, can't you dress yourself?"
Rosanna felt a queer sort of shame. "I never tried," she confessed, "but I am sure I could."
"Of course you could," said Helen briskly. "The buttons and things in the back are hard, but my mother makes most of my things slip-on so I can manage everything. Why don't you try to dress yourself, Rosanna? You wouldn't want folks to know that you couldn't, would you? Of course you don't mind my knowing, because I am your friend and I will never tell; but you wouldn't want most people to know?"
Rosanna had never thought about it at all, but now it seemed a very babyish and helpless thing. She determined to dress herself in future. To change the subject she said, "Why don't you come down into the garden? I want to show you my playhouse and the pony."
"I'd love to," said Helen, and slid rapidly down the tree and out of sight behind the brick wall.
Rosanna heard her light footsteps running up the stairs leading to the apartment over the garage. She sat down on the rustic seat and waited as patiently as she could. It seemed a long time before Helen appeared at the little gate in the wall.
"Mother thinks that you ought to ask your grandmother if she would like to have me come and see you," she said, looking very grave.
"Oh, that's all right!" said Rosanna. "Grandmother has gone away, and she said the very last thing that I could have somebody come and see me whenever I wanted."
"But did she say me?" Helen persisted. "My father drives for your grandmother and perhaps she may think we are not rich and grand enough for you."
"Why, no, she didn't say you. She didn't say anybody. She said I might have anyone I like, and I like you. It is all right. You can ask Minnie; she heard her say I could have company. She doesn't know you, you see, so she couldn't say that you were the one to come. She told me 'some little girl.'"
"That sounds all right," said Helen. "I will go tell mother. She was not sure I ought to come." She disappeared once more through the little gate, and Rosanna waited. She was not happy. Her grandmother had certainly not named any little girl, but Rosanna knew that she did not mean or intend that Rosanna should entertain the little girl who lived over the garage. Her grandmother thought every one was all right if they belonged to an old family. The first thing she ever asked Rosanna about any little girl was "What is her family?" or "Who are her people?"
Rosanna, whose conscience was troubling her in a queer way, determined to ask Helen about her family, although it seemed that was one of the things that were not very nice to do. But perhaps Helen had a family. In that case she could settle everything happily.
The children joined hands and went skipping along the path toward the playhouse, Helen's bobbed yellow locks shining in the sun and Rosanna's long, heavy, dark hair swinging from side to side as she danced along.
She led the way through the little door into the little living-room of the playhouse and stood aside as Helen cried out with wonder and pleasure.
"Oh, oh, oh, Rosanna!" the little girl exclaimed. "Oh, it is too dear! May I please look at everything, just as though it was in a picture book?"
Helen moved from one place to another in a sort of daze. She tried the little wicker chairs one after another. She sat at the tiny desk and touched the pearl penholders and the pencils with Rosanna's name printed on them in gold letters. All the letter paper said Rosanna in gold letters at the top too; it was beautiful.
The little piano was real. It played delightfully little tinkly notes almost like hitting the rim of a glass with a lead pencil. Helen was charmed. She could scarcely drag herself away to see the other wonders of the playhouse. The little dining-room was built with a bay window, which had a window seat, and a hanging basket of ferns. The little round table, the sideboard and the chairs were all painted a soft cream color, and on each chair back, and the sideboard drawers and doors sprays of tinty, tiny flowers were painted.
Helen hurried from these splendors to the kitchen. And it was a real kitchen!
"If our domestic science teacher could only see this!" groaned Helen.
The room was larger than either of the others, and there was plenty of room for two or three persons, at least for a couple of children and one grown person if she was not so very large. There was a little gas stove complete in every way, a cabinet, and a porcelain top table, as well as a white sink and draining board. The floor was covered with blue and white linoleum, and the walls were papered with blue and white tiled paper with a border of fat little Dutch ships around the top. Little white Dutch curtains hung at the windows.
"Oh my! Oh my!" sighed Helen. "This is the best of all! The other rooms you can only sit in and enjoy, but here you can really do things and learn to be useful."
She opened a little cupboard door and discovered all sorts of pans and kettles made of white enamel with blue edges.
"I never come out here at all," said Rosanna.
"Perhaps they are afraid you will burn yourself," suggested Helen.
"No, the stove is a safe kind, made specially for children's playhouses, but I don't know how to cook, so I don't play in the kitchen at all. Make-believe dinners are no fun."
Helen gave a happy sigh.
"Well, I can cook," she said, "and I will teach you how."
"Won't that be fun!" said Rosanna. She suddenly threw her arms around Helen's neck and kissed her. "Oh, Helen, I am so happy," she said.
After Helen had looked the wonderful kitchen over to her heart's content, the children went back to the pretty living-room, where they examined the books in the little bookcase, and then each carrying a comfy wicker chair, went out on the wide porch. A big grass rug was spread there, and there was a little porch swing and a wicker table.
Rosanna commenced to tell Helen about herself. She told much more than she intended, and by the time she had finished, Helen knew more about her new friend than Rosanna's own grandmother had ever guessed.
Helen herself was a very happy, busy little girl, with wise and loving parents. They were poor, and Mr. Culver had very wisely taken the first position that offered as soon as he came home from France and found that the firm he had formerly worked for had given his position to some one else, a man much less capable than Mr. Culver and who worked willingly for wages that Mr. Culver did not feel like accepting. Yes, they were poor, but as Mr. Culver said, "Just you wait, folkses; this will be fun to remember some day." And Mrs. Culver called it "our school" and told Helen that they must both strive to know the best and easiest way of doing everything while they had to do all for themselves.
Helen's eyes filled with tears when she heard of the death of Rosanna's young father and mother in a railroad accident when she was such a little thing that now she could scarcely remember them.
"And then you came to live with your grandmother?" she said, struggling not to go to Rosanna and hug her tight. A little girl without mother or father! It was too dreadful.
"Yes, she came to the hospital and as soon as I was well—I was just scratched up a little—she brought me here."
"Well," said Helen briskly, "it must be fine to have a grandmother. I suppose grandmothers are 'most exactly as good as mothers," she went on, trying to make light of Rosanna's misfortune. "I expect they cuddle you and play with you and hold you 'most exactly like mothers."
"Mine doesn't," said Rosanna sadly. "She kisses me good-night; at least she holds her cheek so I can kiss her, but she never plays with anybody. And she never holds me: she says I am too big to get on people's laps. But I guess I must have been a big baby because she never did hold me even when I was little. There must be different kinds of grandmothers."
"A little girl I know has one, and my grandmother says that it is a disgrace the way she spoils that child, and she says she wants me to grow up to be an honor to our house. You see I am the only grandchild there is.
"Grandmother had a daughter long ago, but she died when she was only two, and grandmother was married twice and both her husbands died."
"You seem to have quite a dying family," said Helen politely.
"Yes, we have." Rosanna commenced to feel quite proud of the fact now that Helen had mentioned it.
"I have an uncle too, and he 'most died over in France but he is home now."
"My father was there too," said Helen proudly. "He had to give up everything to go, but mother wouldn't let him say that he had to stay home and work for us so he went. Mother went to work typewriting and we lived in three rooms, and I went to school and cooked our suppers at night. Mother used to come home so tired. After the dishes were washed, we used to sit and knit. I learned to knit without looking on, so I could knit and study all at the same time. You are the only friend I have here in Louisville," concluded Helen, "but of course when school begins I will have lots of them."
Rosanna was conscious of a jealous pang. She didn't want this bright-eyed little girl who had just come into her life to have other friends.
"I don't see why you have to have other friends if you have me," she said. "Why can't we play together all the time, and have good times? My grandmother said I was to take you riding every day, and we can have such fun. If you have a lot of other friends, Helen, you won't come here at all."
"Why, yes, I will, Rosanna! You will be my bestest friend of all. But mother says we all need a number of people in our lives because if we don't we will all get to thinking the same things and talking the same way, and it is very bad for us."
"Well, I can't have any," said Rosanna hopelessly. "I told you that before. I suppose if she hadn't had to go to New York, I would never have had you for a friend. That is the way my grandmother is."
"Oh, well," said Helen, "when she gets back we will explain things to her, and I am sure she will get to understand all about things. Why, you just have to have friends, Rosanna, and I want you to have me if you think you like me enough."
"Oh, I do; indeed I do!" cried Rosanna. "I just can't stand it if she doesn't let me have you! We will have such good times, Helen, and I can learn to cook, and we can learn to play duets together and it will be such fun."
"I should say so!" said Helen happily. "And don't you think it would be fun to see what all we can do for ourselves? I mean without asking Minnie. I am sure mother would think it would make us sort of helpless. Of course she is your maid, and if you would rather have her to do things for you—"
"No; let's do everything ourselves," said Rosanna, eager to please, and with a feeling that with someone to enjoy it with her the task would be a pleasure.
"I tell you what, Helen, until school opens I can be your very best friend, and you can play with me 'most all the time, and we will be so happy."
Minnie watched them from a side window in the big house but they did not see her. Minnie was pleased. She had heard what Mrs. Horton had said about some child coming to play with Rosanna. Minnie being wiser than Rosanna and grown up, knew very well that Mrs. Horton did not mean Helen Culver. But Minnie had had one or two disastrous experiences with the children who went to the very select dancing school with Rosanna, and the quiet, pretty, well-behaved girl playing there in the garden seemed almost too good to be true. She had never seen Rosanna look so well and so happy. She was glad to see the chauffeur's child "makin' good" as she expressed it. Minnie's young man had also returned from overseas and she was sewing every spare moment on things for her own little house and for herself. If Rosanna had a chance to play all day every day for a whole week, or as long as Mrs. Horton stayed away—and Minnie piously wished her a long trip—why, she could be ready for the young man and the little house just that much sooner.
As soon as this most splendid thought found its way into Minnie's mind she commenced to make plans to help the children, and as the first one occurred to her she put her work in her pocket and hurried across to the playhouse, where she fairly gasped at the sight of Rosanna awkwardly but cheerfully sweeping leaves and stems off the porch while Helen shook the rugs.
"Time for you to dress for the evening. Miss Rosanna," she said. "And wouldn't you like to invite Miss Helen over to supper, and have it served here on your own porch?"
"Oh, wouldn't that be fun?" cried Rosanna "Wouldn't you like that, Helen?"
"Indeed I would!" said Helen. She jumped off the porch and looked to see if the rug was straight. "I will go right home and ask my mother and if I don't come straight back and tell you, you will know that I can come to supper." She ran off, returning just at supper time.
Minnie served the meal and it was all as delicious as a party. Even the cook was glad to see Rosanna really happy. And after the last bit of the dessert, a pink ice-cream, had been slowly eaten, the two little girls sat talking in quite a grown-up manner.
Presently Helen's bright eyes spied a lady at the other end of the garden.
"Someone is coming!" she exclaimed.
"That is a friend of grandmother's. She is coming over every day to see how I am getting along."
"Good-evening, Rosanna," said the lady. "I think this looks as though you were having a very nice time indeed."
"We are, Mrs. Hargrave," said Rosanna. "This is my friend, Helen Culver."
"How do you do, Helen," said Mrs. Hargrave. "The Culvers of Lee County, I suppose. A fine old family, my dears. As good as yours, Rosanna. Well, well, I am glad you are both having a nice time! If you want anything of me, Rosanna, telephone me and I will be over every day. You little girls must both come and have luncheon with me some day." She bade them good-night and walked off, feeling that she had done her whole duty.
"It is time for me to go home," said Helen. "I didn't practice my half hour this evening, so I must go and do it now."
"I didn't practice either," said Rosanna. "I want to work hard at my music if we are to play duets. I don't want to be the one who always has to play secondo. Besides, I have a bee-u-ti-ful secret for to-morrow."
When Rosanna went to bed that night she commenced by sitting down on the floor and taking off her own socks and slippers. Then while Minnie stood looking at her in pleased surprise, she carefully took off her hair ribbon and folded it up!
"Minnie," she said, "have you any little girls in your family?"
"Yes, Miss Rosanna, ever so many."
"As little as me?" pursued Rosanna.
"Some littler, and some just about like you, and some larger."
"Well," said Rosanna, "do they most of them dress and undress themselves?"
"Indeed yes!" said Minnie. "They would get good and spanked if they tried any funny work with their mothers. Not that it's not all right, Miss Rosanna, for you to be cared for, but land, my sisters are all too busy to bother! And besides, those children have got to learn to do for themselves sooner or later, and the sooner the better. And I will say, Miss Rosanna, good wages nor anything will ever make me think it is a good thing to have my babying you along as big as you are. I don't see why I can't earn my money just as honest and give just as much work for it by learnin' you to stand on your own feet, as you might say."
"Well," said Rosanna wisely, "let's make a game of it, Minnie. While grandmother is away, play you are working for me and teach me to be like your little girls."
"Bless your heart!" said Minnie tenderly. "I have feelings, you will find, Miss Rosanna, if I am only a maid, and I certainly do think you are a dear child. Whatever gets some of the queer ideas in your head I don't know!"
"Why, my little new friend Helen Culver dresses herself and combs her own hair and everything. And all your little girls in your family fix themselves, and when I told Helen that you dress me she looked sort of funny. Then suppose you had to go away for awhile, what would I do? None of the other maids know where my things are and, besides, I don't like to have anyone but you fix me and button me up. You are real kind and soft when you touch me, Minnie. I think you try to be a mother to me."
To Rosanna's horror, Minnie burst into tears.
"Oh, the saints forgive me!" she sobbed. "To think you have thought of that and me dressin' you half the time that rough and sudden! Oh, Miss Rosanna dear, just you take notice of me after this!"
"Why, I don't need to," said Rosanna. "You are good to me, and if you will, just play you work for me and show me where my things are and how to do things. Helen is going to teach me to cook if you will come sit in the kitchen and I am going to see if Mrs. Culver will show me how to sew."
Minnie sniffed. "If she can beat me sewin'," she said scornfully, "she's beatin' me at my own game. I learned of the nuns in the convent school where your stitches has to be that small you can't find 'em. You just let me help with your sewin', dearie."
"That will be fine," said Rosanna, dancing up and down. "Oh, I do wish grandmother was going to stay away longer than a week! That's such a short time to learn everything in, I don't see how I can do it all."
"Nor I," said Minnie. "And I sure do wish the same for your grandmother, that she will treat herself and Mr. Robert to a good long trip. She don't stay away enough for her own good, I say. Well, wishing never does much good. All we can do is just put in all the time we can, Miss Rosanna, and we will do exactly what you say. We will make a play of it and I will start this very minute. You will find your clean night dress in the left hand end of the second drawer of your dresser."
"Here it is," said Rosanna a moment later. "What a lot of them I have! Do I need such a big pile, Minnie?"
"Well, not really, Miss Rosanna. You outgrow them mostly."
"Then we won't get any more for a long, long time," said Rosanna. "Minnie, what do you think about my hair?"
"I will have to comb that for you, dearie; it is so very long and thick."
"I was thinking," said Rosanna slowly, "about docking it. It is a great bother."
"Oh, my sufferin' soul!" cried Minnie, with a face of horror. "Oh me, oh my! Don't you think of that ever again, Miss Rosanna! If anything in the world happened to your hair, well, I don't want to think what your grandmother would do to me. Your hair is her pride and glory. It is the only thing I ever heard her brag about. 'You can tell Rosanna in a crowd as far as you can see her,' says she, 'by her hair; just that dark color full of streaks of gold like, and curls at that.' No, Miss Rosanna, you can learn to sew and cook and take care of yourself, and not much harm done for her to fret about, but for mercy's sake don't you go touching your hair."
"Well, it is a bother," said Rosanna, "but we will let it alone for awhile. Now you must come and wake me early, Minnie, and bring your sewing so you can sit here and tell me when I don't do the right thing. After breakfast, if cook will give us some things, I will get Helen and we will do some baking. Won't that be fun? And in the afternoon I am going to give Helen and you a surprise."
"Me too? Do you mind if Minnie kisses you good-night, dearie?" she asked softly.
Rosanna sleepily held up her arms. "Oh, I wish you would, Minnie! It is so nice to have somebody want to kiss me without my asking them to do it."
Minnie kissed her tenderly. "Bless you, dearie, old Minnie will kiss you good-night every night!"
She turned out the light and snapped on the electric fan.
And at once, it seemed to Rosanna, it was morning. There must have been some time between, however, because Minnie went and looked over all her things, and rejoiced to think what great progress she could make on her wedding things in a week if she didn't have to wait on Rosanna all the time, and after she had put everything back in the trunk and locked it up as though it was the greatest treasure in the world, she went down to see the cook. She told her all about what Rosanna had planned, and the cook listened and sniffled and blew her nose hard several times and then got up and brought out a big basket. This she set on the kitchen table and commenced to fill with any number of things: salt and pepper and flour and spices and baking powder and raisins, and all sorts of things. The next morning when Rosanna went into the playhouse kitchen for a look on her way to call Helen, there was everything any little girl would possibly need to cook with, all arranged in rows on the shelves of the tiny cupboard. And wonder of wonders, just inside the door was a little ice-chest.
"Oh, oh! Where did that come from?" cried Rosanna, clapping her hands and running to open it.
"Cook found it in the store room," said Minnie, smiling. "It was the one they used in your nursery when you were a baby. She cleaned it all out, and I think you will find something in it besides ice."
Sure enough there was something besides ice, but Rosanna took one little glance and then ran like the wind for the kitchen, where she burst upon the astonished cook, and reaching as far around her as her short arms would go, hugged her hard. Then she ran to the brick wall and called Helen.
It seemed about a second before the two children were in the playhouse kitchen, aprons on, and hard at work.
Minnie was made superintendent and sat sewing in a wicker chair beside the table, where she could give advice. Helen was chief cook and Rosanna was assistant—the most delighted and thrilled assistant that ever beat an egg or stirred a batter. By eleven o'clock the cooking was done and every pot and pan washed and put in its place. Helen said that was the rule in domestic science school, so although they were both tired with their labors and Rosanna wished in her heart that she could tell Minnie to clean up as she usually did whenever a mess was made, they stuck to their task and it did not take very long to finish the work and make the kitchen all spick and span.
Rosanna was conscious of a new feeling, a sort of glow, at her heart. Never before in her life had she spent a really useful morning. She had learned to cook several things, and had the best time she had ever had in her life.
"What shall we have? A party?" asked Helen, sinking down in one of the wicker chairs.
Rosanna laughed. "Now I am going to tell my surprise, Minnie," she said. "But when I made it up I didn't think we would help with it ourselves. No, indeed; I thought you and cook would have to do it all, and we would just sit around." She laughed. "I think it would be loads of fun to take our cookies and the jello we made, and make some sandwiches of the cold meat cook put in our ice-box, and pack the lunch hamper just as though we were grown up, and fill the thermos bottles with milk, and go to Jacobs Park for supper to-night."
Helen gave a scream of delight. "Oh, splendid!" she cried, "I have not been out there yet, and dad says it is perfectly beautiful—just like real country."
"Don't you suppose your mother would like to go, Helen?" asked Rosanna.
"Of course she would!" said Helen promptly, "but she has gone to Jeffersonville and will not be back until to-morrow morning. It was nice of you to think of her, Rosanna."
When the hamper was packed to their satisfaction, they called Minnie back to see if they had forgotten anything.
"Why, who's going, Miss Rosanna?" asked Minnie, looking into the basket with much surprise.
"You and Mr. Culver and Helen and me," said Rosanna wonderingly.
"Well, dearie, whatever are you going to do with all these things to eat?" said Minnie. "This basket holds enough for eight grown people, and you have packed it full."
"I think we can eat it by supper time," said Rosanna. "You have no idea how good those cookies and things are. Do you think we have forgotten anything, Minnie?"
"Where is the corkscrew for your olive bottle?" said Minnie. "And what are all those little bundles?"
"Hard boiled eggs," said Helen.
"Have you put in salt and pepper for 'em?"
"I don't believe we have," said Rosanna. She ran to get some.
"What is in that dish?" Minnie went on relentlessly.
"Salad, and the other one has fruit jello."
"They won't ride very well, I am fraid," said Minnie. Then seeing a look of disappointment in the children's faces she hastened to add, "Well, I say that is a grand supper, and cook never did a bit better for Mr. Robert when he was home and used to give motoring parties. Now I have a plan myself. Both you children go and take a nap. Please do that for Minnie, Miss Rosanna."
Rosanna was sure she could not sleep, but about one minute later she was dreaming of dinner parties and kitchens. When she woke up it was three o'clock and Minnie was shaking her gently.
Rosanna was off the bed like a shot. She had just reached the porch when Helen came running up, dressed plainly and sensibly in a plain dark gingham and sandals.
"The car is all ready," she said, "and daddy is driving it around to the front door. And oh, he thinks he can't stay with us. He has so much studying to do he is going to leave us there with you, Minnie, and come for us whenever you say."
"Well, that's all right," said Minnie. "Only now that makes three to eat all that supper."
Rosanna picked up her cape and a thermos bottle and skipped down the broad steps after the house boy, who carried the heavy lunch hamper.
"Never you mind, Minnie," she said. "Wouldn't you be s'prised to see us eat every bit of it?"
"No, I wouldn't," said Minnie firmly. "I'd be scared."
Driving through the winding roads of beautiful Iroquois Park, or Jacobs Park as it is better known to the people of Louisville, they found a lovely glade where the grass was smooth and where the trees grew close all about. They were screened from the passersby, and it looked as though the little place had just been waiting for a couple of little girls to come there and enjoy a treat.
For a long time they played while Minnie sat comfortably at the foot of a tree and sewed on one of her doilies. Suddenly they were interrupted by the sound of crying.
Both girls stood motionless in amazement. Minnie put down her work. The crying continued. It was no feeble wail, but a good hearty roar with a running accompaniment of sobs in another key. Two children were being as miserable and unhappy as they knew how. As they came close to the leafy screen that protected Rosanna and Helen, the girls were able to see as well as hear the sobbing pair.
The most noise was made by a chubby, red-faced little fellow wearing a cap. He was dragging an empty box by a string, like a little wagon, and his roars did not prevent an air of lively interest in his surroundings. His face was tear streaked, and he cried with the air of one who never intends to stop. A girl, rather smaller, followed. She clutched her brother firmly by the back of the blouse and allowed him to drag her forward.
Her eyes were screwed tight shut, her head was thrown back and she shuffled along, the very picture of woe. Three other children completed the mournful group. A larger girl, who staggered along under the weight of the fat baby she was carrying, and another small boy who stalked along, scowling unhappily, but with firm steps and squared shoulders as though he would not let himself be overcome by misfortune.
"Oh, oh, oh!" cried the little girl. "Oh, oh, oh!" It seemed all she could say.
"L—let l-loose of me!" roared the boy whose blouse she was clutching.
"Please stop your crying," begged the older girl, setting the baby on his feet and shifting him to the other arm. "The police will come if you don't."
"I don't care! Ow, ow, ow!" yelled the boy.
Rosanna backed up to Minnie and stood there quite overcome. Not so with Helen, however. After a good look, she pushed through the leafy screen, jumped down the low bank and proceeded to ask questions. At the sound of her voice the small girl opened her eyes and her sobs dwindled to a steady sniffle. The boy stopped instantly. He looked ashamed. The big girl once more put down the baby, setting it on the bank, and the boy who had not cried stared off down the road, never giving Helen a glance. Presently the girl sat down with the baby and Helen dropped down beside her. Rosanna was filled with curiosity.
"I am going down to see what it is all about," she said to Minnie.
"Don't go too close, dearie; you might catch something," said Minnie, intent on her cross-stitching and not caring much what the matter was.
Rosanna slipped shyly down the bank and stood beside Helen.
"She is telling me about it," said Helen, turning to Rosanna. "She earned the carfare to bring them out here for the afternoon by digging weeds on lawns. Go on!"
"Well," said the strange girl, "we took the car, and got out here, and I had to carry the baby and help Luella there, so I couldn't carry anything else. And Tommy wanted to carry the supper because he said he was the biggest, and he wouldn't let Myron even take hold of the basket. And when we got off the car Luella fell down and bumped herself, and the car went off, and then I asked Tommy where was the lunch, and he had left it on the car! He always forgets everything. I oughtn't to have let him have it, but, you see, I had the baby and had to help Luella. Tommy wanted to run after the car, but it was 'most out of sight. He couldn't ever catch it."
"So that's all the trouble. They want their supper, and there isn't any. I have a bottle of milk in my bag for the baby, but that is all there is except carfare home, and I'm sorry but p'raps next time Tommy will think how he leaves good suppers on street cars. We were going to have bread and butter and doughnuts and three plums apiece."
At the mention of the lost feast, Tommy burst out with even greater noise. Luella's eyes closed and her sniffles changed to a low howl.
"I'm hungry!" roared Tommy. "I didn't go to lose the supper. I gotta have sumpin' to eat!"
"No, you haven't either," said the girl. "You haven't got to have anything to eat any more than Myron has. Why don't you act like Myron? I'd be ashamed of myself, and you a whole year older!"
"That's just it!" said Tommy, stopping long enough to talk. "Myron's littler and thinner, and he don't need it so much."
"Well, I bet he does!" said his sister. "Now you come along down to the playgrounds, and you can each have a good big drink of water and then you won't mind missing your supper."
She stood up wearily and shouldered the baby. She was a sweet looking little girl, but careworn as though she had carried the baby most of his life. And so she had. The other children started down the road, Tommy and Luella silent for the time. It had been a comfort to tell their troubles to someone.
"Good-by," said the strange girl, smiling over her shoulder. She kissed the baby. "Shake a paddy good-by," she said, and a little dimpled hand wagged a farewell at Rosanna and Helen.
"We're very sorry," said Helen. "Good-by!"
"Good-by!" echoed Rosanna.
They scrambled up the bank and stopped, staring. In the middle of the grassy lawn that they had chosen for their picnic ground stood the lunch hamper. It looked as big as a house!
"Bread and butter and three plums apiece," said Helen under her breath.
"Bread and butter and three plums apiece," echoed Rosanna. "Helen," she said solemnly, "this is the reason we packed such a lot of lunch. Come on!" She turned and dashed down the bank and along the shady road. For the first time in her life Rosanna was doing something that had not been suggested to her; something that was out of the regular order of things. She did not ask herself if the children belonged to nice families. She rather knew they had no family at all in the sense her grandmother always used. She did not stop to remember how shocked and horrified her grandmother would be if she could see her racing along trying to overtake the grubby little group of poor children. With Helen close behind, she skimmed around the first curve and spied them ahead.
Rosanna and Helen commenced to call and wave their arms. The girl heard and once more set down the baby. Tommy heard and squeezed out a louder howl. Luella opened her eyes. Myron glanced at them and again turned away and stared down the road. Rosanna and Helen dashed up.
"We want you to come and have supper with us," said Rosanna, with her sweet smile. "We have a lovely supper and we cooked most of it ourselves, and we brought a whole hamper full."
Tommy shut up suddenly. This was something he could not afford to miss hearing. Luella showed that her eyes could open and be very large and round indeed.
"I don't feel we had better," said the older girl slowly. She certainly looked very tired.
"Oh yes, you must!" said Rosanna. "The basket holds just enough for eight people—grown-up people at that; and there are only three of us. Minnie thought we were crazy to pack so much, but the things looked so nice when they filled the boxes cramful. Please do come!"
"I don't know," she said hesitatingly.
Helen looked at her and made a sign that Rosanna did not see. Then "I thought you were a Girl Scout," she said. "Now that makes it all right for you to come to us because, as you see, I am a Girl Scout too, and you know we must serve each other when in need."
A look of pleasure lighted the girl's face.
"Why, if you are sure there is enough," she said. "I am so tired carrying the baby, it would seem good just to sit down and rest awhile. But Tommy eats a lot."
"We don't mind that," said Rosanna. "I don't want a single bit of that supper left to carry home."
The little procession turned and made its joyful way back to the lunch basket.
Rosanna and Helen seated their little guests, and Minnie, her kind heart touched by the tired face and drooping shoulders of the little girl who had carried the heavy baby so far, took the child and commenced to play with it.
The girls spread the paper lunch cloth smoothly on the ground and commenced putting the food on the table. Tommy stared with round eyes. Myron glanced at the feast and then looked away while, to everyone's astonishment, Luella commenced to cry.
"My land of love, what's the matter now?" said Minnie, speaking over the head of the baby, who nestled happily in her lap.
Everybody looked at Luella who mumbled something and sobbed right along.
"What does she say?" asked Helen.
The older girl looked dreadfully embarrassed.
"I'm so ashamed of her," she exclaimed in a low tone. "She does think up such dreadful things! She is crying because those plums are green, and she knows I won't let her eat any."
"Plums?" said Helen and Rosanna together.
"Over there," cried Luella, sniffling and pointing.
Both girls began to laugh, then stopped as they noticed the unhappy look on the large girl's face.
"I don't wonder she thinks those are plums," said Helen. "I thought they were plums when I was little and always called them plums long after I knew they were olives. Here, Luella, you can eat one now if you wish, but I don't believe you will like them at all. I didn't when I was little."
Luella took the offered dainty and popped it into her mouth. She managed to eat it, although she made awful faces. Tommy, watching her, did not ask for a serving.
"Can I help?" said the strange girl politely. "I wish you would let me. I would feel better to do something when you are going to give us such a perfectly lovely supper."
"Please sit still and rest," said Rosanna, smiling. "You want to feel real good and hungry when supper is ready, and I am sure you must be tired nearly to death. And if you would tell us your name.... We know which is Tommy, and Myron, and Luella, but we don't know the baby's name, nor yours."
"The baby is little Christopher," said the guest, reaching over to pat the little hand, "and my name is Mary. You are Rosanna and you are Helen, and I heard them call you Minnie."
"Perfectly right," said Minnie. "Will it hurt the baby to crawl around on the grass?"
"Oh, no, indeed," said Mary. "He crawls all over. He gets some dreadful tumbles but he never cries. He has fallen out of bed so many times that we keep the floor all covered with pillows in front of the bed, and last week he fell down the cellar stairs. Tommy forgot and left the door open."
"My good land, didn't it kill the poor child?" asked Minnie.
"No, there was a bushel basket partly full of potatoes on the landing, and he fell into those and never hurt himself at all. He didn't even cry but a minute. He is the best baby we have ever had."
"My land, you poor chicken, you!" said Minnie. "You talk like you was the mother of the whole bunch!"
"I help a lot with them," said Mary simply, "and I guess they are 'most as much mine as mother's. You see she works and somebody has to take care of them. And it isn't such very hard work, especially since I joined the Girl Scouts. All the girls are so good, and have such a lot of good times, and oh, it makes everything different!"
"What are Girl Scouts?" said Rosanna. Both girls looked at her in amazement. "I know what Boy Scouts are," she said hastily, "but I never heard of Girl Scouts."
Helen patted her on the arm. "Well, Rosanna, some day I will tell you all about them, but now we must hurry and get the rest of the things on the table because I don't think Tommy will ever live if he has to wait much longer."
"I know Myron is awfully hungry too," said Mary, smiling at her little brother. "He never says a word, but I can tell what he thinks. Myron is such a help to me. He is just as good at remembering things as Tommy is at forgetting them."
"He helped to forget the lunch," said Tommy.
Myron spoke up in self-defence. "No, I didn't! I was helping Mary pick up Luella and I thought you had it. You had it the last I saw."
"I put it down after that," said Tommy as though that explained everything.
"I think I will lay the baby down beside this tree and let him have his bottle," said Mary. "That will keep him quiet all the time we eat."
"Wait a minute until we fix a nice place," said Minnie. She brought a couple of auto robes and made a smooth, soft bed under the tree.
"There he is!" she said. Mary, who had been unwrapping wads of newspapers, produced a bottle of milk which she gave the baby. He settled down to a quiet enjoyment of his meal, and Mary sighed as she sat down at the edge of the tablecloth.
"I do hope you won't mind if I look at everything," she said. "I never saw so many lovely things in my life even in a delicatessen window."
The children, very, very solemn but oh so thrilled, seated themselves on the grass and silently accepted the plates of good things that Helen and Rosanna dished out for them. It is to be said for the everlasting credit of the jello that it did not melt, and the salad did ride well, although Minnie had gloomily expected it to be "all over the place" as she expressed it.
How those children did eat! Commencing with the ham sandwiches and the lettuce and egg sandwiches, and the cold hard-boiled eggs, and crackers and olives, and fruit salad, and very, very thin iced tea with lemon in it, and jello for dessert!
About half way through the smaller children commenced to thaw out and lose their shyness, and talk. How they did talk! Myron said nothing (but that was expected of Myron). When at last Rosanna was tipping up the second thermos bottle to see if there was a drop of tea left, and they were all eating the last cookies very, very slowly, partly to make them last and partly because they were so full and comfortable, Rosanna happened to notice Myron. She motioned to Helen to look. Myron had not eaten everything. He had slyly lifted the tablecloth and had hidden under it a ham sandwich rather nibbled as to edge, a small pile of cookies (his share) and his plate of jello, which he had slipped off on a paper napkin.
"He couldn't eat all his supper, and he is afraid we won't like it," whispered Rosanna.
"I am going to ask him," said Helen. She stepped over to the boy, who was sitting close to his little pile of goodies as though trying to hide it. "Couldn't you eat all your supper?"
Mary glanced quickly at her brother, and said, "Why, Myron, whatever are you trying to do?"
Tommy piped up. "I guess he's going to take 'em home to eat on the way."
"I am not!" said Myron hotly, stung into self-defence as usual by his brother. "I am not! Going to take it home to mamma and Gwenny. I haven't had a speck more'n my share. I counted every time, and everybody had four cookies 'cept Tommy. He had six. And I saved my sandwich out, and the jell!"
Tears stood in Mary's eyes. "But it isn't polite, Myron, to take anything away without asking and, anyway, I know mamma and Gwenny will be satisfied to just hear about our good time, and they wouldn't want you to do such a thing." She tried to put the cookies back on the table but Myron clung to them stubbornly.
"No, no!" he said. "They are my things! I went without 'em, and I want to take them home to mamma and Gwenny. Gwenny never had any cookies like those. And the jell is so pretty. I put a egg in my pocket too." Myron's lip trembled, but he did not cry although Tommy giggled openly.
"Of course you shall take them home to your mother! Who is Gwenny—your dog?" asked Rosanna.
"Gwenny is my sister!" said Myron furiously.
Rosanna felt that she always said the wrong thing.
"Oh, excuse me, Myron," she said meekly.
A shade of sorrow passed over Mary's bright little face as she said, "Gwenny can never go anywhere with us. She is sick, and never goes anywhere."
"Sick in bed?" questioned Rosanna.
"No, she has a wheel chair, and when her back doesn't hurt too much, she can be wheeled around the house and sometimes out in the yard. But she wouldn't want Myron to do anything like this, so rude."
"But Gwenny never had any cookies as good as those, and the jell is so pretty!" repeated Myron stubbornly.
"I think it is so nice of you, Myron," said Rosanna. "I wish I had known about Gwenny too so I could have saved her some of my cookies. Let me help you do them up. You can take them to her just as you meant to, and I know she will like them because her little brother went without to save some for her. And some day soon, Myron, we will bring her a whole picnic for herself, and perhaps she will ask you to help her eat it."
"I'll help her too," said Tommy, puffing up his chest. "I'd just as soon!"
Minnie, bending over the hamper, whispered to Rosanna, "I'll bet he'll help her! My, my, how I do want to fix that boy! I wish my third sister from the oldest, Louisa Cordelia, had him for a while. I reckon one day with her would make him feel different on a good many subjects. Little pig!" Minnie's eyes snapped.
Rosanna laughed. "I suppose he doesn't know any better, Minnie."
"Know any better? Well, Miss Rosanna, Myron didn't need any help about remembering his poor hard-worked mother and his sick sister. I don't doubt Mary thought of 'em too, but she was too polite to say a word after all you have done for them. But poor little Myron didn't know it wasn't polite, so he just goes ahead and keeps part of his treat. If there are any cookies in Master Tommy's pockets, they will never get as far as his house."
"Well, I think he is selfish," said Rosanna regretfully. "But, Minnie, we must take some good things to that Gwenny. I think grandmother would want me to."
After the supper things were all packed away in the hamper, everybody sat around and wondered what to do next. Then Rosanna had a fine idea.
She seated herself next the shy little Myron and suggested that everybody should tell a story. Tommy and Myron looked rather wild. Rosanna saw the look, and said that she thought they ought to commence with Helen, because she looked as though she knew lots of stories.
Helen said she didn't know so very many, but she was willing to try.
"This is a really truly story about a little, little boy. He did not have any brothers or sisters, and he was very lonely and unhappy although he had nice clothes and plenty to eat. So he thought if he just had a little kitten or a dog to play with and live with he would be a good deal happier, and perhaps he would even get to be as happy as he could be. But his mother did not like to have dogs or cats around because they tracked up things, so she wouldn't let him have them. And somebody wanted to give him a canary but his mother thought it would be a lot of trouble to feed. And once he 'most got a pair of white rats with his Fourth of July money, but they simply wouldn't let him. So there he was; and he grew lonelier and lonelier and he used to sit on the top step and stare down the street and wish he might whistle at the dogs he saw, but he wouldn't for fear one of them might be looking for a home and then it would be so disappointed after he had patted it and been kind to it, if it had to go on again.
"Well, one day there was a picnic down the river. The people went by boat and then landed at the picnic grove, and spent the afternoon. The little boy, whose name was Peter, went with his mother and aunt, and when they got to the grove his mother said to his aunt, 'I don't see any reason why Peter shouldn't walk around and amuse himself and play with some of those children.' And his aunt said, 'Yes, if he doesn't fall into the river,' and his mother said, 'Peter, you see to it that you don't go near the bank.'
"Peter said 'yes, ma'am,' and really meant to mind. He walked off and pretty soon—oh, yes, I forgot to say that his mother gave him ten cents to spend for popcorn or on the merry-go-round. So pretty soon Peter saw a dog walking around with his tail sort of down as though he didn't know anybody and was not having a very nice time. Peter didn't call him, but he wished he knew the dog, he was such a pretty collie with beautiful long hair and such a nice face. Pretty soon the dog saw Peter, and quick as a wink he knew that Peter was lonely too, so he came up to him. They got to be friends in a minute and went walking off together, and Peter spent his ten cents for popcorn and shared it with the dog.
"So they went around liking each other more and more, and when it came time for supper the dog lay right under Peter's chair, and Peter's mother said, 'Well, if you haven't picked up a dog! I declare that child beats all!'
"After supper Peter and the dog walked around some more, and Peter knew that soon the boat would start and he would have to leave the dog and he felt worse and worse about it until he almost couldn't bear it at all.
"And he was thinking so hard that he forgot what his mother had told him, and walked along the top of the bank by the river. It was a high bank and crumbly; and all of a sudden a piece broke off and Peter slipped and slid down, down into the river, and under he went. The next thing he knew he was on the bank, and his mother was crying, and there was a lot of people, and the dog was there wet as sop, and he was trying to lick Peter's face, and Peter's mother was letting him do it. And a man said, 'Madame, if it hadn't been for that dog, your son would have been drowned. I saw it all.'
"Then Peter's mother kissed him, and patted the dog, and she said, 'Peter, if that dog has no home we will take him for your dog, and if he has, we will try to buy him.' But it turned out that the dog did not belong to anyone, and so Peter took him home, and had him for his dog always."
"Why, that's a perfectly beautiful story!" exclaimed Rosanna, and all the children thought so too.
"You ought to see my dog," said Tommy. "He's a fighter, he is!"
"How can you say that?" said Mary. "He is only three months old and can scarcely walk straight."
"Well, I bet he will fight when he gets bigger."
"He's not your dog anyhow," said Myron. "He's Gwenny's."
"Yes, and Myron bought him for her at the Pet Shop with money he earned himself. It is a toy poodle, so he won't ever be big."
"Now who tells the next story?" asked Rosanna. "I think it is Tommy's turn."
"Don't know none," said Tommy.
"Don't know any," his sister corrected him. "Go on and try, Tommy."
Tommy breathed hard, then said rapidly:
"Well, once over on the parkway two kids was playin', and a man came along drivin' a race horse, and it had got scared at a nautomobile, and was runnin' away, and the rein had broke, and the man he yelled, 'I'll give anybuddy a million dollars to stop this horse,' and one of the kids 'bout my size give a leap and grabbed the horse by the nose and stopped him. And the man jumped right out and give the kid a million dollars."
"The saints forgive him!" said Minnie. She did not say who.
"Mercy me!" said Rosanna.
"What did he do with the money?" asked Helen.
"Spent it," said Tommy promptly. "Went right down town and spent it."
"What could he spend such a lot for?" asked Helen.
"Spent it for candy and ice-cream cones and sody and cake, and he went to the circus and all the side shows, and Fontaine Ferry and bought a nautomobile and sling shot and everything."
"My sister Louisa Cordelia ought to know you," said Minnie.
"Don't want to know any girls," said Tommy rudely.
Rosanna felt that it was time to change the conversation. "Now who next?" she asked pleasantly. "What story can Luella tell?"
"I don't believe she can tell any story," said Mary, "but she knows some little verses she learned in school. They have such a sweet young lady for a teacher; mamma says she never saw anybody take such pains with the children as she does." She turned to Luella who was wriggling in embarrassment and biting her finger. "Speak something Miss Marie taught you, Luella honey."
"Miss Marie?" said Minnie. "Miss Marie? What is her other name?"
"Corrigan," said Mary.
"Well, then, that's my younger sister," said Minnie proudly. "She's a teacher, and I will say she is a good one. Nothing would do but she must go through normal school and teach. Seems like she was just made for it, so patient and loving." She cast a glance at Tommy. "Not much like my sister Louisa Cordelia, she isn't."
"The children just love her to death," said Mary. "Go on, honey, and say the little piece about the little bird."
Luella arose, breathed hard, curtseyed, and very sweetly recited,
A little bird sat on a tree, And waved his little wing at me. He said, "This seems a pleasant day, I think perhaps I'll fly away." He bent his pretty little head, "I don't see any worms," he said. He shook his pretty feathers out. "It's growing cold without a doubt. When all the leaves have fallen down And all the trees are bare and brown, When snow is deep on dell and hill, And wintry winds are cold and chill, This would not be the place for me," He said, and teetered on his tree. "I know a land far, far away, Where winter is as warm as May." He waved a wing and winked an eye, And off he flew, "Good-bye, good-bye!"
All the children except Tommy clapped their hands when Luella finished. It did indeed sound sweet and she spoke it very prettily, waving her hand and winking her own eye at the end.
Rosanna and Myron felt that their time had come. They looked at each other, but Minnie settled the question.
"Now it is Miss Rosanna's turn," she said, "and then Myron's. Ladies first. Give us a real nice story, Miss Rosanna."
"About robbers," said Tommy, chewing on a grass stem.
"I don't know any about robbers," said Rosanna pleasantly, "but I do know one about a cat, or a kitten rather, and it really happened. Helen told one about a dog, and this is about a cat.
"Once there were two little boys, Walter and Harold, and they were going a long, long way to their new home in the West where they were going to live. And they had a pet kitten that they wanted to take along so badly that fin'ly their mother and father said they might take it if they would carry it in its basket all the way and never ask anyone else to take care of it. So they said they would, and by-and-by they had everything packed up and ready, and when the time came, they started off and got on the train, kitten and all.
"They had things for it to eat and milk for it to drink, and when the conductor was not in the car they used to take it out of its basket and pet it and play with it. And the kitten didn't mind it a bit.
"Well, when they had been on the train a couple of days they let the kitten out, and Harold had it on his lap sound asleep.
"But just when they were at a station and the train was standing still, something awfully exciting happened outside the window, and both boys forgot the kitten. She jumped down from Harold's lap and went along under the seats toward the end of the car. She thought she was going to have a nice little walk, but just then the brakeman came into the car and there was a kitten under one of the seats. He thought of course it had hopped on the car there at the station, so he took it up and put the poor little thing off the train, and then that very minute the whistle blew and off they went.
"It was a vestibule train, and when Walter and Harold found out that their kitten was gone they hunted every inch of the car over, and then hunted through the next car, thinking that she might have gone across the vestibule and into the other car. But she was not there. Just then along came the brakeman again and when the boys asked him if he had seen a kitten, he said, 'Why, sure! Was that your cat? I thought she had hopped on the train back there at the last station, and I took her and put her off.'
"Well, the boys felt so badly they didn't know what to do, and the brakeman said they would not stop at any station for sixty miles. Walter said he was going back to see if he could find her, but the brakeman said she was most likely gone by this time or somebody had picked her up. He was awfully sorry about it.
"When they had gone the sixty miles the car stopped, but the boys didn't care to look out or anything. They just sat and thought about their little kittie, and Harold said, 'Seems as though I can hear her cry,' and Walter said, 'Don't say that again,' and then he looked funny, because he thought he could hear her himself!
"Harold said, 'I suppose she is dead, and that is her ghost.' Walter said, 'No, it's not; even kitten ghosts don't make a noise. There it is again.'
"And then they looked around very slowly, the way you do when you think something is going to happen and you don't know just what it will be, and there in the seat back of them was the brakeman and he was holding that kitten!
"When he opened the car door he found her squeezed up in a corner of the top step, where she had ridden all that long way. When the brakeman tossed her off she knew that the boys were on the train, so she climbed right back, but she didn't get on quick enough to get into the vestibule before the door was shut, so she had to hang on and ride outside. She was scared nearly to death and jumped at every sound and trembled for days, but the boys petted her and comforted her, and by-and-by she felt all right. And there were lots of mice in the house they went to live in, and that took her mind off herself. And that's all of that," said Rosanna, smiling.
"That's a nice story," said Minnie. "Now let's hear what Myron has to tell."
Myron shook his head. "Oh, go on, Myron," said Helen. "Tell us a story, please, even if it is short!"
"Once there was a little boy," said Myron, without waiting to be teased. "Once there was a little boy and he had a mamma and two brothers and three sisters, and he grew up and made lots of money, and bought lots of nice things for his mamma, and his two brothers and his three sisters and that's all."
"The dear lamb!" said Minnie. "That's the best story of the lot."
"Mine was better," said Tommy. "Mine was a real feller."
"Oh," murmured Minnie, "Louisa Cordelia has just got to get hold of you, young man!"
"I suppose it is my turn now," said Mary, "as long as you want to save Minnie for the last. Could you let me say you a little poetry, or was Luella's enough? I think some poetry sort of mixes things up a little."
"I think poetry is lovely," said Rosanna sweetly. "We loved Luella's verses."
"Well, then I will say some instead of a story." Mary cleared her throat and, rising, made a little bow.
The day I die, I'll quickly go Past all the angels, row on row, Straight up to God; I'll know His face Even up there in that new place.
In Sunday School, the way they teach, God is almost too great to reach. They act a little bit afraid; Because the world and all He made.
But if He made the heavens blue, He made the sweet wild violets too; And Oh, what careful work it took To plan the small trout in the brook.
I know He's just the very size Of father; with most loving eyes. Just big enough so one like me Can safely lean against His knee.
"Those were lovely verses," said Minnie when Mary had finished. "I wonder who wrote them."
"My teacher wrote them," said Mary. "I think they are real nice."
"I do think it is a waste of time for me to tell a story," said Minnie. "First you know the machine will be here and then we will have to hurry home."
"I would like to hear you tell a story ever so much," said Mary. "I know it would be a nice one, but I must be starting along pretty soon. It is a long way from here to the car track, and I have to stop so often on account of the baby being so heavy. It is so funny about babies, they seem to get so heavy toward night."
"Indeed they do after you have lugged them about all day," said Minnie. "I say I know all about it, dearie."
"We are not going to let you walk at all," said Rosanna. "We are going to take you wherever you live right in the car."
"Nautomobile ride! Nautomobile ride!" chanted Tommy, tossing his cap.
"I think you are just too good," said Mary. "Will your automobile hold such a lot?"
"Oh, yes, indeed, and more too!" said Rosanna, glad for once that she had a big Pierce-Arrow.
"I hear the car coming," said Minnie. Everybody listened, and sure enough the big car rounded the bend and drew up at the bank with a mighty blast of the horn. Tommy yelled in reply and bolted for it, the others following, loaded down with the empty hamper and rugs, and by no means least, the baby, awake now and very happy after his sleep.
Minnie marshalled them into their places, putting the two boys on the front seat with Mr. Culver, and off they rolled. When they reached the little house where the children lived, Mary thanked Rosanna and Helen and Minnie and Mr. Culver again and she would have liked to thank the car too, and the hamper. Even Tommy managed to say, "Much obliged!" before he rushed to the house so he could have the fun of telling all about it before Mary could get there.
But Mary did not mind. This was something that would have to be told over and over a dozen or twenty times. She stood with Luella and Myron, the baby looped over her arm, and watched the car disappear with a feeling of happiness and gratitude that filled her thin little frame to overflowing.
When the car reached the great white steps of Rosanna's house, the two little girls said good-night.
"I never had such a nice, lovely, beautiful day in all my life, Rosanna," she said. "And all because you were so good and kind."
"You would have thought of it just the same," said Rosanna, blushing. "But oh, Helen and Minnie, wasn't it lucky that we took such a lot of lunch?"
"Well, it did turn out so," said Minnie.
The car rolled away, and Rosanna and Minnie went into the big, cool hall.
On the table was a letter addressed to Rosanna in her grandmother's stiff, precise handwriting. Rosanna took it up with a sort of groan.
"That's to tell when she is coming home, of course," she said. "I won't read it until I am all undressed. Everything is going so beautifully and I am learning such a lot and having such a lovely time that it doesn't seem as though I could bear to have it come to an end."
"I think you ought to read your letter, Rosanna," Minnie said. "I don't believe in leaving things. You expect bad news in that letter and you are having a horrid time all the time you are getting ready for bed. You couldn't feel any worse if you opened it. And suppose there was good news in it? Then you would wish you had found it out before, wouldn't you?"
"I suppose so," said Rosanna listlessly.
She sighed and, taking the letter, tore off the end of the envelope and commenced to read. The second sentence caused her to cry out. She turned to Minnie, hugged her, and cried, "Oh, Minnie, you are so wise! Just listen to this!" The letter read:
"My dear Granddaughter Rosanna:
"What news I have had from home leads me to believe that you are well and being nicely cared for.
"Since this is the case, I feel that it will be possible for me to remain here in the East for a few weeks with your Uncle Robert. He is not ill, you understand, but is run down and nervous from the effects of his wound and many trying experiences abroad. He is fussing because he has lost track of a soldier friend of his, the man who saved his life. He is doing all he can to trace him, as he feels—and of course so do I—that we could never do enough to repay the debt we owe him.
"About yourself, I hope you will have a good time. Do not forget to practice. Mrs. Hargrave spoke of seeing a very interesting child at our house. I am very glad you have found among your acquaintances one whom you would like to make your friend. I can trust you, Rosanna, to choose wisely. And I am glad to see that Mrs. Hargrave says that this Helen somebody comes of an old Lee County family. I cannot read the name. Mrs. Hargrave is a very careless penman. Always write distinctly, Rosanna. It is one of the many marks of good breeding.
"Your Uncle Robert sends his love. He is anxious to see you.
"Your loving grandmother,
"VIRGINIA LEE HORTON."
Rosanna read the letter twice.
Then she turned and looked at Minnie. "It's good and bad too, isn't it, Minnie? You know Helen is not one of the Culvers of Lee County, but she is just as good and sweet as though she belonged to all the Lee County Culvers in the world. Minnie, what shall I do?"
"You must do what you think right, dearie," said Minnie, her kind, wise eyes searching the girl's face. "I can't tell you what to do. You must decide for yourself. It's one of the biggest things in the world to learn; that is, to decide what is right and wrong without someone telling us."
She kissed Rosanna good-night and left the room. A moment later she returned. "Mrs. Hargrave just telephoned, dearie, that she wants you and Helen to take luncheon with her to-morrow." Once more she bade the little girl good-night, and Rosanna, tired out, fell asleep before the door was closed.
She did not see Helen the next day until time for luncheon, but when she waked up she found a book lying beside her bed. Helen had sent it over to her. It was all about the Girl Scouts, and their rules and duties and pleasures, and Rosanna found it hard work not to sit down and read instead of taking her cold bath and dressing herself. Then after breakfast came the history lesson and the music and dressing again, and when Helen, very crisp and dainty, came in ready to go to Mrs. Hargrave's, she found that Rosanna had not had time to read a single line.
Mrs. Hargrave lived three houses away, and the children felt very important and fine, especially Helen, who had never been asked to luncheon with a grown-up lady before. Her eyes grew round when they entered the house. It was so dim and cool and "old timey" as Helen put it.
Mrs. Hargrave always dressed in the latest fashion for old ladies, yet somehow she always looked as though she belonged to another day and time. When she drove about the city she scorned the modern automobile. She went in the spickest and spannest little carriage drawn by an old, sleek and still frisky roan horse with a gold mounted harness and her driver was a colored man as haughty and aristocratic looking as Mrs. Hargrave herself; perhaps a little more so.
She advanced to meet the two little girls with a charming manner that made them curtsey their very prettiest and caused them to feel more important and grown up than ever.
During luncheon Mrs. Hargrave said:
"Will your brother return to college now that the war is over, Helen?"
Helen looked up in surprise. "I think you have me mixed up with some other little girl, Mrs. Hargrave," she said. "I have no brother."
Mrs. Hargrave stared at her guest. "Are you not Lucius Culver's youngest child?" she questioned. "The Lee County Culvers?"
"No, Mrs. Hargrave," said Helen. "I am John Culver's daughter."
"Another family," said Mrs. Hargrave and changed the subject politely by asking Rosanna what she had heard from her grandmother.
Helen sat thinking. She was a straightforward, honest little girl, and somehow she felt as though she was sailing under false colors as far as Mrs. Hargrave went. She felt sure of Rosanna; Rosanna did not care whether she was poor or rich, and it made no difference at all to her that Helen's father worked for Mrs. Horton. But some people were different, Helen reflected. Twice Mrs. Hargrave had spoken of Helen being one of the Culvers of Lee County, and Helen wondered if it would make any difference to the fine old lady sitting there in her soft, shimmery silks, with the long string of real pearls about her neck if she thought the little girl sitting there as her guest was living over a garage back of Mrs. Horton's elegant home. It puzzled Helen and troubled her. But try as she might, not once did the talk turn so she could bring in what she felt she wanted Mrs. Hargrave to know. It just wouldn't come about.
After luncheon was over Mrs. Hargrave took the children and showed them some of the strange and curious things about the house.
Then she had a delightful suggestion to make. She herself was obliged to go down town to see her lawyer and she thought it would be very nice for the girls to come for a little ride. To Rosanna, used only to automobiles, and Helen who rode most of the time in street cars, the idea of riding along after the proud gold-harnessed, frisky old horse in the spick-and-span carriage was a treat and an adventure. Making themselves politely small and quiet, sitting on either side of Mrs. Hargrave, they went trotting down Third Street, turned by the big white library building, and continued down Fourth Street where they eyed the crowds, read the giddy signs in front of the movie houses and looked at the window displays.
While Mrs. Hargrave talked to her lawyer, the girls sat in the carriage and pretended that they were grown-up ladies.
When Mrs. Hargrave came out, they started up Fourth Street.
"Do you know," said Mrs. Hargrave, "this is the first time in all my life that any little girls have visited me without their mothers? And I have had the nicest time I think I ever had. I want to remember it always." She gave the signal to stop, and asked the children to get out.
"There is something I want to get here," she said, and led the way into a big jeweler's shop. The two girls stopped to look at the rings in the case near the door, but Mrs. Hargrave called them. "I need a notebook and pencil and I thought you would like to help me select it. I am a rather fussy and very forgetful old lady."
She did seem fussy over that notebook, but finally chose a dainty gold one with a square in the center for initials. Attached by a tiny gold chain was a slender pencil with a blue stone in the top.
Then, to their amazement, the clerk laid two others exactly like it on the counter. Three just alike!
"I think it would be nice for us all to remember our pleasant day, don't you?" asked Mrs. Hargrave, smiling. "I want to give you each one just like this one that I am getting for myself. Then we will think of each other whenever we use them."
Helen lifted Mrs. Hargrave's delicate old hand and laid it against her cheek.
"Oh, Mrs. Hargrave," she cried, "I will never forget you. I don't need the notebook, but it is too lovely, and I will keep it as long as I live."
Mrs. Hargrave's eyes filled with tears. "Bless your heart!" she said.
The very next day Mrs. Hargrave was called into the country to see a sick cousin. She telephoned Minnie before she left and told her that she felt that things were going along as well as anyone could possibly expect, and that she was delighted with Rosanna and her little friend. This message distressed Minnie for she was just about to go to see Mrs. Hargrave.
Minnie was not happy. Silly and foolish as it was, she well knew that the proud old Mrs. Horton would not be willing to accept as poor and simple a child as Helen for Rosanna's closest friend, no matter how sweet and well mannered she might be. Minnie, who knew real worth when she saw it, despised Mrs. Horton for her overbearing ideas, but what to do she didn't know. She feared a storm if she let things go until Mrs. Horton's return, yet she dreaded a separation for the children, when they might enjoy each other for two or three weeks longer.
Rosanna was improving daily. Minnie was pleased and proud to see how she continued to do for herself and learn in every way to be independent. Her sewing was wonderful. She was working eagerly on a little dark blue dress like Helen's for herself, and with Minnie's help was even putting a little simple cross-stitching on the cuffs and yoke. Rosanna was prouder of that dress than of anything she had ever had in her beautiful, crowded wardrobe.
Minnie felt that she wanted to consult with someone, and the most sensible person she knew was Mrs. Hargrave. But with Mrs. Hargrave away, all Minnie could see to do was to let things go along, and "trust to luck" as she put it. Minnie didn't like "trusting to luck" at all; and every time she saw the two children playing together so happily and busily she shook her head and sighed.
Rosanna, too, in a dim way was feeling troubled, because she too knew her grandmother, and remembered other times when she had been severely scolded for trying to make friends with children whose parents did not measure up to the standard set by Mrs. Horton.
In fact, for all the seeming happiness, no one was wholly happy but Helen!
Helen had been taught by her wise young mother that the most important things in life are not to be measured as anything that money can buy. According to Mrs. Culver, a little girl must be obedient and truthful and well behaved and kind. She must have a low and pleasant voice and be able to sit in the presence of her elders without trying to enter the conversation unless asked to do so. These things she had taught Helen, and her little girl had been a ready pupil. Mrs. Culver was justly proud of her.
Rosanna was just a bit afraid. And the fear caused her to go in a line that was not perfectly straightforward. She was sorry enough for it afterward—sorrier than she thought she could ever be. But that did not mend things in the least.
Because she did not know just how to turn around and explain everything to her grandmother and still be sure of her happy time, to say nothing of protecting her dear Helen from distress, when she answered her grandmother's letter she wrote as follows:
"I was glad to get your letter, and I am glad Uncle Robert is home again. Give my love to him, please. I am glad you are having a good time, and I hope you will stay away as long as you like. I am having a very good time. Oh, grandmother, I am having a lovely time. What do you think? Mrs. Hargrave had Helen and me to luncheon with her, and she likes Helen as much as I do, only she doesn't belong to the Lee family, and after luncheon Mrs. Hargrave took us down town with her, and before we came home she bought each of us a gold notebook with a gold pencil on a gold chain fastened to it. She bought herself one too so we each have one just like a secret society.
"I am learning to cook and to sew. I am making myself a dress. It is very pretty. I shall make a good many of my dresses after this. It saves a good deal of money, Minnie says, and I can help the poor with it.
"We went out to Jacobs Park for a picnic, and five poor little children had lost their basket of supper. So I thought what you would do if you saw five little children who had lost their supper, and I asked them to have supper with us. There was enough, on account of our taking Uncle Robert's hamper, and Uncle Robert always liking to be generous.
"We have planned a great many things. If they don't all get done before you come home, grandmother, perhaps you will enjoy doing them too.
"I am learning a great deal about the Girl Scouts. I want to be one.
"Did you know our cook has a little lame boy at home? I was glad to find it out. It is one more person to be kind to. I have sent him all my set of puzzle pictures.
"Minnie is planning to get married. She has a trunk of things. When you come home won't it be nice because we can go down town and buy something for her. She will like something you have given her.
"She likes you very much, I am sure, because she always says, 'Well, all I can say is there's not many like your grandmother in this world.'
"I think it is so nice to be liked. I want to grow up to be liked. I think being a Girl Scout will help. Helen says all sorts of girls belong, rich as well as poor, and that it broadens you.
"This is a long letter, grandmother, but I had a good deal to tell you. So please have a good time, grandmother, and I am your loving little girl
Minnie sent a letter too. It read:
"I wish to report that everything seems to be going smoothly. Mrs. Hargrave has taken a great liking to Miss Rosanna, and her new friend Miss Helen, and likes to have them with her. Miss Rosanna practices and studies faithfully, and her music teacher says she never had such a bright pupil. I have her take a rest in the middle of each day. The day you left she broke her bottle of tonic, and I could not get more, as you have the prescription. But I do not think she needs it. She has gained two pounds since you left us. I give her hair a hundred strokes each night. I think she wants to bob her hair, it is so very long and heavy, but I tell her not for worlds, as you are so proud of it.