Carolyn Wells.

Dick and Dolly





The doll family in Dana Cottage were giving a very grand party. As there were no other dolls to invite, Pinkie and Dolly had made a lot of paper dolls for the guests. These were not elaborate, being hastily cut from brown paper, but they wanted a lot of guests, so they chopped out a multitude of dolls, and stood them around in the various rooms of the doll house.

I wish wed made them prettier, said Dolly, regretfully, for her artistic sense was jarred upon by the crude brown paper guests in the dainty, pretty rooms.

So do I, agreed Pinkie. Lets dress them up a little, somehow.

So they found colored tissue paper, and bedecked the dolls with floating sashes and scarfs and head-dresses, until they presented a much more festive appearance.

Thats lots better, declared Dolly, as they placed the improved ladies and gentlemen at the party. So many did they have, that the parlour was filled with dancers, and the dining-room with supper guests at the same time.

Pinkie was of a realistic turn of mind, and insisted on having bits of real cracker or cake or apple in the dishes on the table, and real water in the pitchers and coffee pots on the sideboard.

Dolly was quite content to have scraps of paper for cakes, or even empty dishes filled merely with imagination, but when Pinkie played with her they usually had real things wherever possible.

The china dolls of the family, and the paper guests kept up a continuous conversation, and the voices were either Pinkies or Dollys as occasion required. A deep, gruff voice represented a gentleman talking, and a high, squeaky voice, a lady.

What a beautiful party were having, said a brown paper man in Dollys deepest chest tones.

Yes, squeaked a lovely lady, in light blue crinkled tissue paper. Please get me a glass of lemonade.

The brown gentleman deftly poured about two drops of water from a tiny pitcher into a tinier cup, and gallantly offered it to the lady.

It accidentally soaked her tissue paper scarf, as she drank it, but two drops wouldnt hurt anybodys costume seriously, so the incident was overlooked, and the gay chatter went on.

Are you going to opera to-morrow night? asked one bewitching belle of another.

Oh, yes, was the reply. Im so fond of music. I practise an hour every day.

So do I. Im learning to sing, too. Thats why I wear this boa, I have to take such care of my throat.

Are you warm enough here? inquired the china hostess, who overheard her paper guests conversation; because, if you arent, we can light a fire for you.

I do feel a little chilly, began the paper belle, and then Pinkies voice suddenly resumed its natural tones:

Oh, Dolly, lets make a fire in the little stove, a real fire. You said your aunt used to do it.

Yes, she did, said Dolly. Do you know how?

Why, yes; you only put in snips of paper and light em.

The smoke goes out through the pipe.

Carefully, the girls put crumpled bits of paper into the little iron stove, and then Dolly brought a match.

You light it, she said, and Pinkie struck the match, and touched off the paper.

They shut the tiny stove door, and the paper blazed away merrily. Some smoke came out through the tin pipe, but there wasnt much of it, and as the windows of the playroom were all wide open, the smoke soon drifted away.

This was a great game indeed, and the guests from the parlour all crowded down into the dining-room to get warm.

There was much laughing and chatter, as the paper dolls came down to the dining-room, and packed themselves in groups against the walls.

Oh, how good that fire feels, exclaimed a lady in pink paper. Why, its all gone out!

It was astonishing how fast the paper in the stove burned itself out, and the girls had to renew it repeatedly, and light it afresh each time.

Im bout tired of playing this, said Pinkie; lets make one more fire and thatll be the last. Its getting awful hot.

Yes, make one more, said Dolly, for Mrs. Obbercrombie has just come down to get warm.

All right; stand her up by the stove.

Pinkie touched off the newly-laid fire, and Dolly stood paper Mrs. Obbercrombie up near the stove; so near, in fact, that the lady fell over against it.

Dolly reached out to pick her up, but her finger touched the hot stove, and she drew it back with an Ouch! The little stove, from the burning of much paper, was nearly red-hot, and when the paper doll fell over against it, she blazed up immediately.

Then the paper dolls nearest her caught fire at once, and in two seconds the paper dolls were all ablaze. The tissue paper scarfs communicated the flames like tinder; the thicker paper of the dolls themselves burned steadily, and in a few moments the curtains caught, then the wooden house itself, and as the breeze from the open windows fanned it, a real conflagration of Dana Cottage ensued!

Soon the paper grass in the cottage yard caught fire, and the wooden animals served as further fuel.

Dolly, her smarting finger still in her mouth, was too frightened even to scream, but Pinkie showed real presence of mind.

She grasped a pitcher of water from the table, and dashed it into the burning house. This was good as far as it went, but it merely checked the flames in one room, and there was no more water about. Then Pinkie seized the big rug from the floor, with intent to throw it over the house. But it was so anchored with heavy tables and other furniture that, of course, she could not budge it.

Oh! she gasped at last. Do something, Dolly! Yell, cant you? I dont seem to have any voice!

Sure enough, poor little Pinkie was so frightened that her voice had failed her, and Dolly was so frightened, she couldnt think what to do.

So, at Pinkies suggestion, she yelled, and Dollys yell was that of a young, sound pair of lungs.

Auntie! she screamed. Michael! But as the playroom was on the third floor, and the aunts were down in the library, they did not hear her. Nor were the servants within ear-shot, so poor Dolly screamed in vain.

But as the flames grew bigger and threatened the window curtains of the playroom, Dolly shouted again, and this time a wild, despairing shriek of Dick! seemed to be her last resort.

And, by chance, the boys, with their kites, were not far from the house, and they heard the cry ring out of the playroom window.

Hello, Dolly! shouted Dick, back again, not thinking of danger, but merely supposing Dolly was calling to him.

His voice reached Dollys ears like a promise of hope, and flying to the window, where the curtains were already scorching, she screamed, Fire, Dick! Call Michael! Pat! Bring water! Fire! Fire!

Even as Dolly shouted, Dick and Jack saw the flames, and Dick cried out, Ill go for Michael; you go upstairs, Jack, and screech for Aunt Rachel as you go.

So the two Dana ladies were startled from their quiet reading, by seeing Jack Fuller dash madly in at the front door, and whipping off his cap by instinct, almost pause, as he said politely, but hastily, Please, Miss Rachel, good-afternoon. Your house is on fire! Excuse me! and he ran breathlessly by the library door and up the stairs.

He couldnt do a thing when he reached the playroom, for the flames were beyond the efforts of a ten-year-old boy.

But Dolly, who had found her wits, cried, Pull down the curtains, and she and Jack bravely pulled down a pair of light muslin curtains that had already begun to burn. They stamped on these, and so extinguished their flames, and Pinkie, in her excitement, pulled down another pair and stamped on them, although they had not caught fire at all, and, indeed, were in no danger of it.

But by that time, Michael and Pat had arrived. Passing the trembling aunties on the lower landing, they tore upstairs, and Dick followed closely at their heels.

Michael took in the situation at one glance.

Take holt av the table, he said to Pat, and the two strong men hustled the big table off the rug. Then they flung aside the chairs and other furniture that held the rug down, and, picking up the big carpet, flung it over the burning playhouse. The house toppled over with a crash, and the men trampled on the whole pile.

They smashed everything belonging to Dana Cottage, but it was the only way to conquer the flames, and Michael did not hesitate.

Keep it up! he said to Pat, and as Pat obediently stamped his big feet about, Michael turned to other parts of the room.

He stepped on a few smouldering papers, he pinched out a tiny flame in a curtain ruffle, and he threw a small rug over an already blazing waste-basket.

He unceremoniously pushed aside any children who got in his way, for Michael was very much in earnest. And he had reason to be. His prompt and speedy action had probably saved the whole house from burning down, and after he was sure there was no lurking flame left anywhere, he turned to the two ladies, who stood white-faced and trembling on the threshold.

All right, Miss Rachel, he said, cheerily; the baby-house is done for, but weve saved Dana Dene from burnin up intirely.

Is everybody safe? asked Miss Rachel, bewildered with the suddenness and terror of it all.

Safe an sound, maam. Now, dont dishturb yersilves further, but you an Miss Abbie an the childher go back downstairs, an me an Patll be afther cleanin up some here.

But Dolly is burned! cried Miss Abbie, seeing Dolly still holding out her blistered finger, and screwing her face in pain.

No, said Dolly, I did that before the fire. Its nothing.

Its an awful blister, said Dick, looking at it. But how did the fire start, Dollums? Did you do it?

Yes, said Dolly, but I didnt mean to burn up the cottage. And then, as Michael and Pat were removing the big rug, and she saw the dreadful devastation of the beautiful dolls house, she burst into paroxysms of weeping.

Pinkie did the same, and as the aunts were both softly crying, too, Dick and Jack had to be very careful lest they join the majority.

Go downstairs, all of yez, said Michael, again, who had, by reason of his common sense, assumed dictatorship. Oh, are ye there, Hannah? Take the ladies down, and mend up Miss Dollys finger. Boys, ye can shtay, if ye like, but the rest of yez must go.

Obediently, the aunties followed Hannah, who led the weeping Dolly, and with Pinkie trailing along behind, they went downstairs.

Now, boys, said Michael, ye can help if ye like, an ye neednt, if ye dont like. Pat an me, well clear out this burnt shtuff, but Mashter Dick, suppose ye look about now, an see if anny of the toys is worth savin.

So Dick and Jack picked out some few things that the flames hadnt destroyed. But only china or metal toys escaped utter destruction, and these were so smoked and charred, that they werent much good. Pinkies hat and jacket were scorched, but Jack laid them aside, and the work of salvage went on.

There now, yed betther go, said Michael; yere good boys, an yeve helped a lot, but now, men Pat, well cart this shtuff down oursilves. An be the same token, Im thinkin well dump it out the windy, that bein the quickest way.

So Dick and Jack ran downstairs, really anxious to join the girls and find out how it all came about.

CHAPTER XVIII
A LOVELY PLAN

When the boys reached the group assembled in the library, Dolly had just begun to tell the story of the fire.

Up to that time, the aunts had been employed in dressing the burned finger, and in recovering their own mental poise.

You see, Dolly was saying, it was an accident, Aunt Rachel, but it wasnt mischief, for you told me yourself how you used to make a fire in that little stove.

Oh, said Aunt Rachel, comprehending at last. Did you girls make a fire in the playhouse stove?

Yesm; the pipe was up, you know, and it burned all right, it hardly smoked at all. Then one of the paper dolls fell against it and set fire to all the rest.

The stove got so awful hot, observed Pinkie, and it was trying to pick up that paper doll that Dolly burned her finger.

And upset the stove? asked Aunt Abbie.

No, Auntie, the stove didnt upset. But Mrs. Obbercrombie caught ablaze, and then she fell over against the other paper people, and they all flared up.

Whew, Dolly! exclaimed Dick. Then you kindled that whole fire yourself! You ought to have known better than to stuff a place with paper dolls and then set a match to it!

But I didnt, Dick, declared Dolly. The fire was all right at first, only it kept making the little stove hotter and hotter, until it went off.

Well, its lucky Dick heard you yell, put in Jack, or the whole of the big house would have burned as well as the little one.

I dont know what to say to you, Dolly, said Aunt Rachel. I remember that I did tell you I used to have a fire in that stove, but I only burned a tiny bit of paper and let it go right out. I never thought of a continued fire. And I really think you ought to have realised the danger of a fire near so much light paper.

Why, I never once thought of that, Aunt Rachel. I never sposed fire could jump through an iron stove, and burn up a paper doll! I thought if we kept the little door shut, the flames would stay inside.

Oh, Dolly, said Aunt Abbie, smiling a little in spite of herself, you should have known better. But youre not entirely to blame. We did tell you that we used to have real fire in that stove, but father was always with us to look after it. Children should never play with fire alone.

Why didnt you tell me that before, Aunt Abbie? said Dolly, looking at her with a gentle reproach in her big dark eyes. If you had, Id have called you up, fore we lit it the first time!

Phyllis, said Miss Rachel, turning to the little guest, does your mother let you play with fire.

Why, no, Miss Rachel, said Pinkie, in surprise. But then, mother never lets us do any of the things you let Dick and Dolly do. We havent any garden or arbour or Lady Eliza or playhouse

At this, both Pinkie and Dolly began to cry afresh, for they remembered that now Dolly had no playhouse either! That beautiful house and barn and lawn and ponds, all a mass of black, smoking ruins!

Dolly flew to her Aunt Rachel and buried her head on her broad, comforting shoulder as she sobbed out her woe.

Oh, Auntie, she wailed; isnt it dreadful! Those lovely little beds and bureaus, and the dolls Aunt Nine dressed, and the looking-glass lake, and that little spotted pig, he was so cunning, and the gilt clock in the parlour, oh ooh o-o-ooh!

There, dearie, there, there, soothed Miss Rachel, wondering whether Aunt Nine would think Dolly ought to be punished, and if so, what for.

I wasnt naughty, was I, Auntie? went on Dolly, between her sobs. I wouldnt be so naughty as to burn up my dear playhouse on purpose!

Of course you didnt do it on purpose, dear; and I dont believe you were really naughty. But never mind that, now. Even if you were, youre punished enough by the loss of the playhouse.

Yes, I think I am. We were having such fun, Pinkie and I. And, Auntie, it wasnt a bit Pinkies fault either. We wouldnt either of us have thought of making a fire, if you hadnt said we could. I mean, you said you used to do it.

Yes, Dolly, dear; I fully realise how it all happened, and Im not going to blame either you or Phyllis. I think you should have known it was a dangerous pastime, but if youll promise never to play with fire or matches again, well count this affair merely as an accident. But it was a pretty bad accident, and Im very thankful that only the playhouse was burned. I shudder to think what might have happened to you two little girls!

And to the whole house! said Miss Abbie. If Dick hadnt heard you scream, and if Michael and Pat hadnt been at home, we might have no roof over our heads now!

Then Phyllis and Jack went home, and the others went up to the playroom, to see what was left in the ruins. Michael and Pat were still cleaning up, but the whole room had been more or less affected by the smoke, if not by the flame.

The rug, being a thick, Oriental one, had not suffered much, but the wallpaper and woodwork were sadly marred, the curtains were a wreck, and the furniture was scratched and broken.

As to the playhouse, the actual framework was fairly intact, except where the dining-room had been burned away, but it was blackened and charred everywhere.

Miss Rachel directed the men to take it to the cellar, and leave it there for the present.

Sometime, she said, we may have it rebuilt and re-decorated, but I cant seem to think about it just now. Do you want to keep any of these things, Dolly?

Dolly looked over the half-burned toys that Dick and Jack had picked out of the ruins, and more tears came as she recognised what had been the blue satin sofa, and the babys crib.

No, I dont want them, she said; they only make me feel worse.

Then they found the little stove, that had been the immediate cause of the catastrophe. It was unharmed, except that it looked dull instead of shiny, as before.

I think youd better set this on the mantel, Dolly, said Aunt Abbie, to remind you not to play with fire.

Ill never play with fire again, Auntie, said Dolly. But I will put it on the mantel, to remind me of my dear playhouse. Oh, I did love it so!

Dolly had a great fondness for all her belongings, and the playhouse, with its myriad delights was her dearest and best beloved possession.

Its too bad, Dollums, said Dick. If Aunt Rachel ever does decide to have the house done over, Ill do the yard all over again for you.

An Ill make yez a new barn, said Michael, who was just removing the burned remnants of the old one; but I cant be doin it this summer; theres too much other wurrk. Next winter, when the wurrk is lighter, Ill have a thry at it.

And none of them felt like doing right over again the work they had done so recently, so the burned-out cottage was put in the cellar, and stayed there for a long time. The playroom itself had to be done over at once.

A carpenter had to come first, and replace the burned window sill, where the curtains had blazed up; then the paper-hangers and painters; so that it was several weeks before the room could be used.

Meantime, Dick and Dolly played out in their out-of-doors playground.

It was now late in May, and the flowering vines had almost covered the long arbour, making a delightful place to sit and read, or make things at the table. The twins loved to make things, and often they thought theyd make furniture for the renovated playhouse, but its hard to do things so far ahead, and so they didnt get at it.

Fortunately Lady Eliza had been on the other side of the playroom during the fire, so had escaped without even a scorch.

But Dick and Dolly played she was a great heroine, and often congratulated her on her narrow escape from the fearful conflagration. They never grew tired of Lady Eliza. She was useful for so many games, and all the children who visited the twins learned to look upon Eliza as one of their own crowd.

Lets have a party for Eliza, said Dolly, one day, as she and Dick were working in their gardens. Oh, Dick, theres a thrush! Sh! dont frighten him.

Silently the children watched, as a thrush perched on a nearby branch, and sang his best musical selection. There is more sentiment in a thrushs song than in that of any other of our birds, and though the twins didnt recognise exactly that fact, they loved to listen to the thrush.

It was their habit, after carefully watching a bird, to look it up in their big, illustrated Birds of North America, and learn its name and habits.

Thats a Hermit Thrush, whispered Dolly. See the lots of spots on his chest.

Maybe, said Dick, softly; but I think its the Olive-Backed Thrush. See how brown his back and tail are.

Yes, perhaps it is. Listen to his call, he says Whee-oo! Too-whee! We must look him up to make sure. Oh, there comes a robin after him! Now theyll fight!

Go way, you horrid thing! called Dick to the big, fat Robin Redbreast, but unheeding, the robin flew at the thrush, and bothered him, until the thrush flew away, and Dick and Dolly saw it no more.

I think its too bad robins are so cross, said Dolly, and theyre so pretty, too. Id love them, if they wouldnt pick-peck at the other birds.

They are horrid, said Dick; but if we didnt have robins, we wouldnt have much of anything. There are so few of the other birds, ceptin sparrows.

Thats so; well, as I was saying before the thrush came, lets give Lady Eliza a party.

Lets ask Aunt Rachel first, said Dick.

The twins were learning to ask permission beforehand, when they planned anything out of the ordinary. This had already saved them trouble, and the aunts were already congratulating themselves that the children were learning to think.

Yes, we will. But dont lets go in now. Lets plan it, and then well ask auntie before we really do anything about it.





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