Dick and Dolly
ŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
ďAnd how about you, sir?Ē she said. ďDid you think it amusing to threaten a guest with a carving-knife?Ē
Dick came over and looked at her with his straightforward eyes.
ďI didnít mean to threaten you, of course,Ē he said. ďBut it was naughty, and Iím sorry,†Ė weíre both sorry,†Ė and can we do anything to make you forgive us?Ē
ďNo, you canít,Ē said Aunt Penninah, ďbut when you look at me like that,†Ė with your fatherís very eyes,†Ė there is no question of forgiveness. Youíre all Dana Ė both of you!Ē
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 Penninahís presence admitted of no scanting of ceremony.
Hannahís 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.
ďWill you go to your room for a rest, Aunt Nine?Ē said Miss Abbie, hopefully, as they rose from the table.
ďNo, I wonít; Iím not tired at all. Iíll make the further acquaintance of these very astonishing young relatives of mine.Ē
ďOh, do, Aunt Nine! Do come and play with us!Ē cried Dick, with such unmistakable sincerity that the old lady was greatly pleased.
ďYes, come out and see our gardens,Ē 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 íround 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 Circleís tea. For the feast was not a tea at all, but a most elaborate supper, and Aunt Nineís coming had sadly delayed the preparations.
Meantime, that elderly dame was walking round the childrenís playground. She was greatly pleased with their gardens, and was surprised to learn that they tilled and weeded them all themselves.
ďYouíre really very smart little people,Ē she said, ďand quite worthy to bear the Dana name.Ē
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.
ďFor,Ē she said, ďI cannot run the risk of having some ridiculous thing happen during our programme. You donít mean to do wrong, but youíre just as likely as not to stand Lady Eliza up beside our President when sheís 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.Ē
ďAll right,Ē said Dick, ďand if any of the boys or girls come over, may Hannah send them out there to us?Ē
ďYes, Iíll tell her.Now, run along.Ē
They ran along, though slowly, because of Lady Elizaís difficult transportation. But at last they reached the playground, and stood Eliza in a corner, ready for action when they needed her.
ďJiminy Crickets!Ē remarked Dick, ďbut Aunt Nineís the funny old lady, isnít she, Doll?Ē
ďYep; but I sort of like her. After she got through blowing us up, she was real jolly.Ē
ďYes, and wasnít Auntie Rachel the brick to stand up for us at dinner time?Ē
ďShe was so. I wonder how long Aunt Nine is going to stay.Ē
ďI dunno. A week, I guess. Hello, here comes Pinkie. Hello, Pinkie!Ē
ďHello!Ē she returned, and then almost before she and Dolly had said ďHello!Ē Jack Fuller came.
This quartette were almost always together on pleasant afternoons, and as Dana Dene had attractions that the other homes didnít possess, they played there oftener than elsewhere.
ďHello, Lady Eliza Dusenbury,Ē 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, ďThe top of the morniní to ye, maíam!Ē
ďLetís build a throne and crown Eliza queen,Ē suggested Jack, and the rest at once agreed.
ďWhat shall we make the throne of?Ē asked Dolly.
ďIíll ask Michael,Ē said Dick, ďhe always helps us out.Ē
But Michael was busy with some extra work connected with the visit of the Reading Circle, and had no time for bothering with youngsters.
ďThrone, is it?Ē he said; ďIíve no time to be buildiní ye royal palaces! Take the wheelbarry fer a throne, shure!Ē
It was a chance suggestion, but it served, and Dick returned to the waiting group, trundling the wheelbarrow.
ďWe canít bother Michael much,Ē he said, ďícause 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!Ē
Madeleine and Clifford Lester had arrived during Dickís 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.
ďShe ought to be dressed in white,Ē said Dolly, looking disapprovingly on Elizaís blue dress; ďbut she hasnít a white frock to her name.Ē
ďHasnít your aunt any?Ē asked Pinkie, realising the real need of white.
ďI canít bother her to-day,Ē said Dolly, decidedly; ďsheís got the Reading Circle and Aunt Nine both at once; and she told me to keep out.Ē
ďCouldnít you get a big white apron from Delia,Ē suggested Maddy Lester.
ďNo; queens donít wear aprons.Ē
Then Dollyís eye lighted on the clothes line, full of the Monday wash, which busy Delia had not yet taken in, though it was thoroughly dry.
ďI might get something there!Ē she cried. ďCome on, girls!Ē
The three girls ran to the big, sunny bleaching ground, where three long lines of white clothes waved in the breeze.
ďTheyíre all too little,Ē said Pinkie, as she viewed Dollyís own dresses and petticoats.
ďNo, hereís Aunt Rachelís nightgown! This will do!Ē cried Dolly, and in a jiffy she had the clothespins pulled off, and the voluminous, ruffled garment in her arms.
ďJust the thing!Ē 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.
ďGet another towel and make a turban,Ē said Clifford, and this gave their queen a still more foreign look.
ďThe throne thing ought to be white, too,Ē said Pinkie, who had an eye for color effect. ďItíll be a lot prettier to pin the flowers and greens on, if itís white first. Letís get sheets,†Ė shall we, Dolly?Ē
ďI donít care,Ē said Dolly, absorbed in making Elizaís turban stay on her head.
So Pinkie and Madeleine flew for the sheets, and stripped the clothesline of all there were there.
ďNow!Ē they exclaimed, coming back triumphantly, with their arms full of billows of white linen.
ďNow!Ē 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.
ďNow, weíll crown her,Ē said Dick, ďbut I say, Dollums, we all ought to be in white, too!Ē
ďThatís easy,Ē said Dolly, recklessly; ďthereís lots of things on the clothesline yet.Ē
Back there they all ran, and chose costumes to please their varying tastes.
The three girls chose more ruffled nightgowns like Elizaís 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.
ďFirst, we sing a dirge,Ē said Jack Fuller.
ďNot a dirge,Ē said Dolly. ďDonít you mean a chant?Ē
ďWell, some waily kind of a thing, anyway.Ē
So they all droned an inharmonious series of wailings that might have been imitative of Chinese tom-toms, only it wasnít meant to be.
ďNow we must have a speech,Ē said Pinkie; ďyou make it, Dick; youíre good at that.Ē
ďAll right,Ē said Dick, and stepping forward, while his tablecloth toga trailed in the dust, he began:
ďOh, 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 Ė Ē
ďHomage,Ē corrected Jack.
ďíTaint, itís hominage! bow, anyway!Ē
So they all bowed in token of homage to their queen.
ďNow we have to back away,Ē said Maddy; ďthey always do at court.Ē
The six backed away from the queenís 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.
ďGet up, all of you!Ē cried Dick, who had scrambled to his feet. ďNow we must sing.Ē
ďWhat shall we sing?Ē
ďI donít care Ė ĎJohn Brownís Body,í I guess.Ē
So they all sang ďJohn Brownís BodyĒ 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.
ďFer the landís sake!Ē he exclaimed as the children crowded round. ďWhativer have yez been up to now! The clean cloíes from the line, as Iím a sinner! Arrah, but yeíll catch it, ye bad babies!Ē
ďWow! they did get dirty, didnít they?Ē exclaimed Jack, realising for the first time how they had tumbled about on the ground.
ďYes, theyíre all dirt and grass stains. Will your aunts mind, Dolly?Ē
ďI donít know,Ē said Dolly, ďbut anyway it isnít your fault, any of you. Letís take íem off and eat supper now.Ē
It was characteristic of Dolly to spare her guestsí 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.
ďThe girls is waitiní on the Readiní ladies,Ē said Michael, as he came out with a second trayful, ďso yeíre to wait on yerselves with these things.Ē
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.
ďThe little raskills!Ē said Michael, as he gathered up the sheets and garments they had thrown off. ďWhativer is the rayson, I dunno, but Miss Dolly and Masther Dick is just the baddest little shpalpeens I iver saw, aní yet I love íem, ivery breath they draws!Ē