Carolyn Wells.

Dick and Dolly





And how about you, sir? she said. Did you think it amusing to threaten a guest with a carving-knife?

Dick came over and looked at her with his straightforward eyes.

I didnt mean to threaten you, of course, he said. But it was naughty, and Im sorry, were both sorry, and can we do anything to make you forgive us?

No, you cant, said Aunt Penninah, but when you look at me like that, with your fathers very eyes, there is no question of forgiveness. Youre all Dana both of you!

And then the strange old lady kissed both the twins and peace was restored all around.

Dinner went on smoothly. Miss Abbie and Miss Rachel were secretly impatient, because there was much yet to be done before the Reading Circle came, but Miss Penninahs presence admitted of no scanting of ceremony.

Hannahs service was more punctilious than the twins had ever before known it, for Hannah had been at Dana Dene many years, and knew the exactions and demands of a visit from Miss Penninah.

But at last the lengthy meal reached its close.

Will you go to your room for a rest, Aunt Nine? said Miss Abbie, hopefully, as they rose from the table.

No, I wont; Im not tired at all. Ill make the further acquaintance of these very astonishing young relatives of mine.

Oh, do, Aunt Nine! Do come and play with us! cried Dick, with such unmistakable sincerity that the old lady was greatly pleased.

Yes, come out and see our gardens, said Dolly, dancing by her side, and to the great relief of the other two aunties, Miss Penninah walked off with the twins.

Then Hannah and the two ladies flew round like mad. They put leaves in the table until it was as long as possible; they set it with all the best china and glass and silver for the Reading Circles tea. For the feast was not a tea at all, but a most elaborate supper, and Aunt Nines coming had sadly delayed the preparations.

Meantime, that elderly dame was walking round the childrens playground. She was greatly pleased with their gardens, and was surprised to learn that they tilled and weeded them all themselves.

Youre really very smart little people, she said, and quite worthy to bear the Dana name.

The twins were flattered, for they well knew how highly all their aunts thought of the Dana name, and, too, they had already begun to like the peculiar old lady who had scolded them so harshly at the very beginning of their acquaintance.

When it was nearly time for the ladies of the Reading Circle to arrive, Aunt Rachel told the twins they must go out to their playground and stay there all the afternoon.

For, she said, I cannot run the risk of having some ridiculous thing happen during our programme. You dont mean to do wrong, but youre just as likely as not to stand Lady Eliza up beside our President when shes making her address. So take Eliza with you, and go out to the garden, and stay there until Delia rings the bell, or Hannah comes to call you.

All right, said Dick, and if any of the boys or girls come over, may Hannah send them out there to us?

Yes, Ill tell her.

Now, run along.

They ran along, though slowly, because of Lady Elizas difficult transportation. But at last they reached the playground, and stood Eliza in a corner, ready for action when they needed her.

Jiminy Crickets! remarked Dick, but Aunt Nines the funny old lady, isnt she, Doll?

Yep; but I sort of like her. After she got through blowing us up, she was real jolly.

Yes, and wasnt Auntie Rachel the brick to stand up for us at dinner time?

She was so. I wonder how long Aunt Nine is going to stay.

I dunno. A week, I guess. Hello, here comes Pinkie. Hello, Pinkie!

Hello! she returned, and then almost before she and Dolly had said Hello! Jack Fuller came.

This quartette were almost always together on pleasant afternoons, and as Dana Dene had attractions that the other homes didnt possess, they played there oftener than elsewhere.

Hello, Lady Eliza Dusenbury, said Jack, shaking hands with that silent partner.

Of course, all the boys and girls knew Lady Eliza now, and indeed the citizens of the village had ceased to be surprised when the twins rode to town in the farm wagon, with Eliza accompanying them.

The servants at Dana Dene took her as a matter of course, and Michael was fond of bowing politely, and saying, The top of the mornin to ye, maam!

Lets build a throne and crown Eliza queen, suggested Jack, and the rest at once agreed.

What shall we make the throne of? asked Dolly.

Ill ask Michael, said Dick, he always helps us out.

But Michael was busy with some extra work connected with the visit of the Reading Circle, and had no time for bothering with youngsters.

Throne, is it? he said; Ive no time to be buildin ye royal palaces! Take the wheelbarry fer a throne, shure!

It was a chance suggestion, but it served, and Dick returned to the waiting group, trundling the wheelbarrow.

We cant bother Michael much, he said, cause he has to run that Reading Circle thing. But I guess we can fix up this wheelbarrow with flowers and greens and make it do. Hello, Maddy; Hello, Cliff!

Madeleine and Clifford Lester had arrived during Dicks absence, but greetings were soon spoken, and the more the merrier.

Then the half dozen went to work with a will, using both heads and hands to devise ingenious plans for the coronation of Eliza.

She ought to be dressed in white, said Dolly, looking disapprovingly on Elizas blue dress; but she hasnt a white frock to her name.

Hasnt your aunt any? asked Pinkie, realising the real need of white.

I cant bother her to-day, said Dolly, decidedly; shes got the Reading Circle and Aunt Nine both at once; and she told me to keep out.

Couldnt you get a big white apron from Delia, suggested Maddy Lester.

No; queens dont wear aprons.

Then Dollys eye lighted on the clothes line, full of the Monday wash, which busy Delia had not yet taken in, though it was thoroughly dry.

I might get something there! she cried. Come on, girls!

The three girls ran to the big, sunny bleaching ground, where three long lines of white clothes waved in the breeze.

Theyre all too little, said Pinkie, as she viewed Dollys own dresses and petticoats.

No, heres Aunt Rachels nightgown! This will do! cried Dolly, and in a jiffy she had the clothespins pulled off, and the voluminous, ruffled garment in her arms.

Just the thing! cried Maddy, and they raced back to the playground.

It made a beautiful white robe for Eliza, and when belted with a large bath-towel, also brought from the clothes line, Eliza looked like an Oriental princess.

Get another towel and make a turban, said Clifford, and this gave their queen a still more foreign look.

The throne thing ought to be white, too, said Pinkie, who had an eye for color effect. Itll be a lot prettier to pin the flowers and greens on, if its white first. Lets get sheets, shall we, Dolly?

I dont care, said Dolly, absorbed in making Elizas turban stay on her head.

So Pinkie and Madeleine flew for the sheets, and stripped the clothesline of all there were there.

Now! they exclaimed, coming back triumphantly, with their arms full of billows of white linen.

Now! cried Dick, and they fell to work, and draped and twisted the sheets, until the wheelbarrow was a lovely white throne. This they decked with their flower garlands, and then lifted Queen Eliza up on it. As she, too, had been decked with blossoms and garlands, it was really a pretty sight, and the children clapped their hands and danced about in glee at their own success.

Now, well crown her, said Dick, but I say, Dollums, we all ought to be in white, too!

Thats easy, said Dolly, recklessly; theres lots of things on the clothesline yet.

Back there they all ran, and chose costumes to please their varying tastes.

The three girls chose more ruffled nightgowns like Elizas and looped them up with flowers on either side, like fancy overskirts.

The boys selected lace-ruffled petticoats that belonged variously to the aunts or to Hannah and Delia, and round their shoulders they draped tablecloths or pillowshams in toga fashion.

Some table centrepieces and carving-scarfs formed fine head-gear, and by the time all the costumes were completed, the clotheslines looked as if the wash had been taken in after all.

The white-garbed half dozen pranced back to the queen on her throne, and the ceremonies began.

First, we sing a dirge, said Jack Fuller.

Not a dirge, said Dolly. Dont you mean a chant?

Well, some waily kind of a thing, anyway.

So they all droned an inharmonious series of wailings that might have been imitative of Chinese tom-toms, only it wasnt meant to be.

Now we must have a speech, said Pinkie; you make it, Dick; youre good at that.

All right, said Dick, and stepping forward, while his tablecloth toga trailed in the dust, he began:

Oh, Queen Eliza Dusenbury, we beg you to accept this crown. We want you for our beloved queen, and we will obey all your rules and reggilations. We bow our hominage

Homage, corrected Jack.

Taint, its hominage! bow, anyway!

So they all bowed in token of homage to their queen.

Now we have to back away, said Maddy; they always do at court.

The six backed away from the queens throne, but as backing with long trailing robes is not to be neatly done without practice, they one and all tripped over their trains and togas and went tumbling around on the ground.

Get up, all of you! cried Dick, who had scrambled to his feet. Now we must sing.

What shall we sing?

I dont care John Browns Body, I guess.

So they all sang John Browns Body with great gusto, and then the coronation ceremonies were declared over.

And none too soon, for just then they saw Michael coming with a huge trayful of good things, which he placed on the table in the arbour.

Fer the lands sake! he exclaimed as the children crowded round. Whativer have yez been up to now! The clean cloes from the line, as Im a sinner! Arrah, but yell catch it, ye bad babies!

Wow! they did get dirty, didnt they? exclaimed Jack, realising for the first time how they had tumbled about on the ground.

Yes, theyre all dirt and grass stains. Will your aunts mind, Dolly?

I dont know, said Dolly, but anyway it isnt your fault, any of you. Lets take em off and eat supper now.

It was characteristic of Dolly to spare her guests feelings, though she had herself a sudden uneasy sense of naughtiness at having taken the clean clothes to play with. But it was also her nature to put off an evil hour, if possible, so the children gaily scrambled out of their white raiment and sat down to the feast with good appetites.

The girls is waitin on the Readin ladies, said Michael, as he came out with a second trayful, so yere to wait on yerselves with these things.

Then Dolly and Pinkie arranged the table, and soon the group were eating sandwiches and cakes and strawberries and ice cream, and all the good things that went to make up a Reading Circle feast.

The little raskills! said Michael, as he gathered up the sheets and garments they had thrown off. Whativer is the rayson, I dunno, but Miss Dolly and Masther Dick is just the baddest little shpalpeens I iver saw, an yet I love em, ivery breath they draws!

CHAPTER XV
PUNISHMENT

The Reading ladies had departed, and the younger guests of Dana Dene had also trotted homeward.

Its too bad to take those things off of Eliza, said Dolly, she looks so pretty in em. Lets take her, wheelbarrow and all, to show to the aunties.

Im fraid Aunt Nine will faint again, objected Dick.

Oh, no, she wont; it was the carving knife that scared her.

So the twins trundled the white-draped wheelbarrow, and its white-garbed occupant straight up to the front door of the house.

Come out, aunties! they called. The queen wants you to salute her majesty!

Hearing the commotion, the three ladies came out on the veranda, and this time Aunt Penninah did not faint, but seemed greatly interested in the majestic Eliza.

What have you put on her? the old lady cried. Why, theyre clothes, rough-dry! Did you take them from the clotheslines? Rachel, do you allow these children to act up like that? I am ashamed of them, and you, too!

Just then Delia came out to the veranda with a clothes-basketful of the garments the children had played with. Good-natured Delia rarely minded the twins mischief, but it had been a specially hard day, and the extra work and company had tired her out completely. Also, it was annoying to find her carefully washed clothes all muddied and grass-stained!

Will ye look at this, Miss Rachel! she exclaimed, her face red and angry. Its too much to ask of a gur-rl to hurry up her wash an cook for compny on a Monday, an thin to go fer her clothes, an find em like this!

Aunt Rachel and Aunt Abbie looked at the twins. So did Aunt Penninah. Dick and Dolly looked at the clothes in Delias basket. They were a sorry sight, but the twins seemed surprised rather than ashamed.

Why, Delia Maloney! cried Dick. Are you sure we spoiled those clothes like that! Why, we just wore them to the coronation. I didnt spect it would hurt em a bit!

Neither did I! cried Dolly. Im awful sorry, Delia. I spose we ought not to have taken em; but truly, I never thought about their getting dirty. Will you have to wash em all over again?

Will I! said Delia, grimly; that I will, Miss Dolly; an a foine time Ill have gettin the green stains out, for-bye the mud; an to say nothin of their being torn to bits!

She held up a sheet and a tablecloth, each of which showed a jagged tear.

Ill mend those, said Dolly, cheerfully, theyll be good practice, for Aunt Rachel is just teaching me darning in my sewing lessons.

Soft-hearted Delia couldnt help smiling at the earnest little face; Aunt Rachel and Aunt Abbie looked perplexed; but Aunt Penninah was unable to restrain expression of her feelings.

Youre the worst children I ever saw! she exclaimed; the very worst! At nine years old you should know better than to cut up such naughty, wicked tricks! You must be severely punished. Rachel, if you dont punish them, I shall do so myself!

Now Dick and Dolly were quite unaccustomed to this sort of scolding. Aunt Rachel, though severe in principle, was very lenient in practice, and Aunt Abbie was gentleness itself. So it was with real curiosity that the twins drew nearer, to look at the reddening face and flashing black eyes of their great-aunt, and Dick said, very seriously:

We were naughty, Aunt Nine; and if you punish us, how are you going to do it?

The question was not at all impertinent, Dicks round little face showed only a justifiable interest, and Aunt Penninah looked a little baffled, as both twins waited eagerly for her answer.

Do just what you please in the matter, Aunt Nine, said Miss Rachel, who had never quite outlived her youthful awe of the stern old lady. Miss Abbie clasped her hands in alarm, as if fearing the twins would be subjected to torture, and they all awaited Miss Penninahs dictum.

I think, said the old lady, slowly, and then she paused, a little disconcerted at the earnest gaze of the four brown eyes, that were so like those of the childrens father, her favourite nephew.

I think, she went on, more gently, that I shall forbid you to go outside the house all day to-morrow.

She didnt say that she had had a far more severe punishment in mind, but had been deterred from inflicting it by those appealing eyes.

Whew! cried Dick, stay in the house a whole day!

Yes, said Aunt Nine, her ire returning as she noted the other aunts sorrowful looks, and Delias woe-begone face. You children need discipline. Its terrible the way youre let to run wild! Rachel, youve no idea of training children properly, and as for you, Abbie, youre simply a tool in their hands!

Dolly took a step nearer to the old lady.

Aunt Nine! she cried, with flashing eyes, dont you talk like that about my Aunt Abbie, or my Aunt Rachel, either! They know how to bring up children just splendid! And theyre doing the best they can with me and Dick, but, as you know yourself, were the worst children ever, so what can you spect?

Yes, said Dick, taking his sisters part, as usual. Well do your old punishment, and were sorry we were naughty; but you cant jump on our aunties like that!

The youngest inheritors of the celebrated Dana spunk, faced bravely the oldest member of the proud old family, and she realised the justice of their reproof.

The children are partly right, she said, turning to her older nieces with a short, sharp laugh; and the matter must not be discussed further in their presence. Dick and Dolly, you will obey my orders about to-morrow, and now come and kiss me, and we will drop the subject.

Dick stared at his aunt and hesitated, but quicker-witted Dolly appreciated that, in Aunt Penninahs mind, the coming punishment wiped out even remembrance of the fault, and she willingly kissed her. Not the spontaneous, loving sort of embraces they gave the other aunties, but a whole-hearted, honest kiss of truce.

Dick followed her example, and then the twins were excused, and they raced out in the kitchen after Delia.

The intherferin ould lady! cried Delia, as she snatched the children in her arms. Sorra the day I iver wint to Miss Rachel wid thim cloes; but I was that put about, Miss Dolly, dear.

Oh, pooh, Delia, cried Dick; you were all right, and weve come to pollergize for spoilin your wash all up. Were awful sorry.

Yes, chimed in Dolly, as Delia embraced them both; well never do it again; but, truly, Delia, we didnt think!

Av coorse ye didnt, ye blissid babies! Shure ye niver think! An whats a wash, more or less? I wish ould Miss Penninah had to do it hersilf fur teasin ye.

Now, Delia, said Dick, you mustnt talk that way. Aunt Nine is our aunt, and we must love and respect her just as we do the other aunties.

Its a thrue Dana ye are, Masther Dick; both of yez. An yere right, too. Miss Penninah is the grand old lady, and the rale head of the fambly. So do yez take yer punishment like the shwate childher ye be.

And having duly made good their reputation as true Danas Dick and Dolly trotted off to bed.

The next day proved to be the very loveliest day of the whole Spring.

The sun incessantly winked an invitation for the twins to come out and play. The blue sky smiled the same plea, and the soft breeze whispered it again and again.

The flowers nodded at them as they looked out of the windows, and the trees spread their branches, as in a welcoming embrace.

The birds twittered, Come, come! and, though too far away to be heard, Dolly knew, her pet chicken was peeping the same words.

But worst of all was to see Pat watering their own flower-beds, their pansies and daffodils that had never drank from any hands save the twins own!

This sight nearly made the tears come, but Dick said bravely:

We must make the best of it, Dollums. Theres no use of getting all weepy-waily when it wont do any good.

No, but Dick, dont you spose shed just let us go and water our plants, if we came right back?

Shant ask her; and dont you ask that, either. Now well both do our practising, I guess Ill practise another hour while youre doing your old sewing, and then lets go up in the attic to play.

Dolly brightened a little. All right; weve always been going to fish around up there, and we never had a good chance before.

So Dolly went to one piano, and Dick to the other, and they practised so diligently and painstakingly, that Aunt Penninah, who listened at the doors, was greatly pleased with their thorough work.

Theres good stuff in those children, Rachel, she said; if you dont spoil them by your foolish leniency and over-indulgence.

I dont mean to, Aunt Nine, said Miss Rachel, a little meekly, but you know theyre never purposely mischievous. The Danas are all impulsive and thoughtless, and Dick is exactly like his father was at his age.

Yes, I know all that; but they need a strong hand to rule them, and though you and Abbie are firm enough in some ways, you give right in to those twins. Now, I dont!

No, said Miss Rachel, grimly, you dont. How long are you going to stay this time, Aunt Nine?

I planned to stay only a day or two; but as Ive become interested in Johns children, I shall remain a week at least. I want to learn their natures, and, incidentally, I can help you with my judgment and advice.

Miss Rachel groaned in spirit, but made no audible objection to her aunts decree.

Dollys sewing hour that day was devoted to mending the clothes she and her little friends had torn, and by dint of much instruction from the three aunts, and honest industry on her own part, she achieved some very creditable darns and patches.

During the sewing hour, Aunt Penninah sought out Dick, and had a talk with him. She was rather severe, but the clan feeling was strong in both, and after their conversation Dick felt a loyalty and respect toward the old lady, if not a deep affection.





: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14