Dick and DollyŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
ďWhy, we did; at least, we went in a minute. But, Aunt Rachel, we never had seen a real live brook before, not since we were little bits of kiddy-wids,†Ė and we just couldnít bear to leave it.Ē
ďWe waded in it!Ē said Dolly, almost solemnly, as if she had referred to the highest possible earthly bliss.
The Dana ladies were nonplussed. True, the affection showered on them had tempered their severity, yet now justice began to reassert itself, and surely it would not be just or fair to have these semi-barbaric children installed at Dana Dene.
ďDid your aunt in Chicago let you act like this?Ē asked Aunt Abbie, by way of trying to grasp the situation.
ďWell, you see, there never was a brook there,Ē said Dick, pleasantly. ďOnly Lake Michigan, and that was too big to be any fun.Ē
ďOh, isnít Heatherton lovely?Ē exclaimed Dolly, her big, dark eyes full of rapture.
She had again possessed herself of Miss Rachelís hand and was patting it, and incidentally transfering some ďgood, brown earthĒ to it, from her own little paw.
Though Dolly had planned their mode of entrance, she had forgotten all about it now, and her affectionate demonstrations were prompted only by her own loving little heart, and not by an effort to be tactful.
In her enthusiasm over the beautiful country-side, she fairly bubbled over with love and affection for all about her.
ďAre you both so fond of the country, then?Ē said Miss Abbie, a little curiously.
ďYes, we love it,Ē declared Dick, ďand weíve ímost never seen it. Auntie Helen always liked fashionable places in summer, and of course in winter we were in Chicago.Ē
ďAnd we were naughty,Ē said Dolly, with a sudden burst of contrition, ďto go wading in the brook in our good clothes. Mrs. Halkett told us íspressly not to get soiled or even rumpled before we saw you. And weíre sorry we did,†Ė but, oh! that brook! When can we go there again? To-morrow?Ē
ďOr this afternoon,Ē said Dick, sidling up to Aunt Rachel; ďit isnít late, is it?Ē
The twins had instinctively discerned that Miss Rachel was the one of whom to ask permission. Aunt Abbie seemed more lovable, perhaps, but without a doubt Aunt Rachel was the fixer of their fate.
ďThis afternoon! I should say not!Ē exclaimed Miss Rachel. ďItís nearly supper time now, and how youíre going to be made presentable is more than I know! Have you any other clothes?Ē
ďIn our trunks,†Ė lots of íem,Ē said Dick, cheerfully. ďBut these are our best ones. Mrs. Halkett put them on us purpose to come to you. Iím sorry theyíre smashed.Ē
Dickís sorrow was expressed in such blithe and nonchalant tones, that Miss Rachel only smiled grimly.
ďAre you hungry?Ē she said.
ďNoím,Ē said Dick, slowly, and Dolly added, ďNot very. Of course weíre always some hungry. But Aunt Rachel, canít we go out and scoot round the yard? Just to see what itís like, you know. Of course, this room is,†Ė beautiful, but we do love to be out doors.
ďNo,Ē said Miss Rachel, decidedly, and though Miss Abbie said, timidly, ďWhy donít you let them?Ē the elder sister resumed:
ďGo out on my lawn looking like that? Indeed you canít! Iíd be ashamed to have the chickens see you,†Ė let alone the servants!Ē
ďOh, are there chickens?Ē cried Dolly, dancing about in excitement. ďIím so glad weíre going to live here!Ē
She made a movement as if to hug her Aunt Rachel once again, but as she saw the involuntary drawing away of that ladyís shoulders, she transferred her caress to Dick, and the tattered twins fell on each otherís necks in mutual joy of anticipation.
ďYou are a ridiculous pair of children,Ē said Aunt Abbie, laughing at the sight; ďbut as I hope youíll show some of your fatherís traits, you may improve under our training.Ē
ďIf we can train such hopeless cases,Ē said Miss Rachel. ďHas nobody ever taught you how to behave?Ē
ďYes,Ē said Dick, growing red at the implication. ďAuntie Helen is a lovely lady, and she taught us to be honourable and polite.Ē
ďOh, she did! and do you call it honourable to go off wading in your best clothes, while we were waiting for you to come here?Ē
Dickís honest little face looked troubled.
ďI donít know,Ē he said, truly, but Dolly, who was often the quicker-witted of the two, spoke up:
ďIt may have been naughty, Aunt Rachel, but I donít ízackly think it was dishonourable. Do you?Ē Thus pinned down, Miss Rachel considered.
ďPerhaps Ďdishonourableí isnít quite the right word,Ē she said, ďbut we wonít discuss that now. I shall teach you to behave properly, of course, but we wonít begin until you look like civilised beings, capable of being taught. Just now, I think hot baths, with plenty of soap, will be the best thing for you, but as you have no clean clothes, youíll have to go to bed.Ē
ďAt five oíclock! Whew!Ē said Dick. ďOh, I say, Aunt Rachel, not to bed!Ē
ďAnyway, let us go for a tear around the yard first,Ē begged Dolly. ďWe canít hurt these clothes now; and I donít believe the chickens will mind. Are there little chickens, Aunt Abbie?Ē
ďYes, little woolly yellow ones.Ē
ďLike the ones on Easter souvenirs? Oh, please let us see them now, óplease!Ē
More persuaded by the violence of her nieceís plea than by her own inclination, Miss Rachel said they might go out for half an hour, and then they must come in to baths and beds.
ďAnd supper?Ē asked Dick, hopefully.
ďYes, bread and milk after youíre clean and tucked into bed.Ē
ďOnly bread and milk?Ē said Dolly, with eyes full of wheedlesomeness.
ďWell, perhaps jam,Ē said Aunt Abbie, smiling, and somehow her smile augured even more than jam. Out they scampered then, and soon found Michael, who introduced them to the chickens and also to Pat, who was the gardener.
ďI like you,Ē said Dolly, slipping her little hand into Patís big one, both being equally grimy. ďPlease show us all the flowers and things.Ē
There was so much to look at, they could only compass a small part of it in their allotted half-hour. Dana Dene covered about thirty acres, but it was not a real farm. A vegetable garden supplied the household wants, and the rest of the estate was park and flower beds and a bit of woods and an orchard and a terrace, and the poultry yard and stables, and other delights of which the children could only guess.
ďArenít you glad we came?Ē said Dolly, still hanging on to Patís hand.
ďI Ė I guess so, Miss,Ē he replied, cautiously; ďbut I canít say yet, for sure. Yeíre rampageous, Iím afraid. Ainít ye, now?Ē
ďYes,Ē said Dick, who was always honest, ďI think we are. At least, everybody says so. But, Pat, weíre going to try not to make you any trouble.Ē
ďNow, thatís a good boy. If ye talk like that, you ín meíll be friends.Ē
Dolly said nothing, but she smiled happily up into Patrickís kind eyes, and then, with their usual adaptability to circumstances, the twins began to feel at home.
AN EARLY STROLL
Soon after daybreak next morning, Dolly woke, and surveyed with satisfaction her pretty room.
Pink roses clambered over the wall paper, and over the chintz hangings and furniture, and over the soft, dainty bed-coverlet.
It was much more attractive than her room at Aunt Helenís, and as Dolly loved pretty things, she gave a little sigh of content and nestled comfortably into her pillows. Then she heard Dickís voice whispering through the closed door between their rooms.
ďHi, Dolly; I say! Arenít you up yet?Ē
ďNo, are you?Ē
ďYes, and ímost dressed. Hustle, canít you? and letís go out and chase around the place.Ē
ďYes; breakfast isnít until eight oíclock, and itís only six now.Ē
ďAll right, Iíll hustle,Ē and Dolly sprang out of bed, and began to dress.
The twins were a self-reliant pair, and quite capable and methodical when they had time to be.
Dolly dressed herself neatly in a clean blue and white plaid gingham; and as she could tie her hair ribbon quite well enough, except for special occasions, the blue bow on her golden curls was entirely satisfactory.
ďIím all ready, Dick,Ē she whispered at last, through the door, ďand we mustnít make any noise, for maybe the aunties are asleep yet.Ē
ďAll right; Iíll meet you in the hall.Ē
So both children went on tiptoe out into the big, light hall, and softly down the stairs.
No one seemed to be stirring, but they unfastened the locks and chains of the front doors, and stepped out into the beautiful fresh morning.
ďIíve got to holler!Ē said Dick, still whispering. ďThey canít hear us now.Ē
ďYes, they can; wait till we get farther away from the house.Ē
So, hand in hand, they ran down the garden path, and when a grape arbour and a cornfield were between them and their sleeping aunts, they decided they were out of hearing.
ďHooray!Ē yelled Dick, as loud as he could, at the same time turning a jubilant handspring.
Dolly was quite as glad as her brother, but contented herself with dancing about, and giving little squeals of delight as she saw one rapturous sight after another.
ďOh, Dick,Ē she cried, ďthereís a fountain! íway over there on the little hill. Do you sípose thatís on our grounds?Ē
ďíCourse it is. This is all ours, as far as you can see, and more too. That woodsy place over there is ours; Pat told me so.Ē
ďWeíll have picnics there. And Dick, maybe there are fairies in the woods.Ē
ďSure there are. Thatís just the kind of woods that has fairies. But they only come out at night, you know.Ē
ďYes, but itís only just a little past night now. The sun has only been up a short time. Maybe there are some fairies there yet.Ē
ďMaybe; letís go and see.Ē
With a skip and a jump the children started for the woods, which, however proved to be farther away than they had thought.
They trudged merrily on, stopping now and then to speak to a robin, or kick at a dandelion, but at last they came to the edge of the grove.
ďOh, Dick!Ē cried Dolly, in ecstasy, ďthink of having a real woods, right in our own yard! Isnít it gorgeous!Ē
ďGreat! but go softly now, if we want to see fairies. Iím ífraid theyíve all gone.Ē
Hand in hand the children tiptoed into the wood. They moved very cautiously, lest they should step on a twig, or make any noise that should frighten the fairies.
ďThereís where they dance,Ē whispered Dick, pointing to a smooth, green mossy place. ďBut of course they always fly away when the sun rises.Ē
ďYes, I sípose so,Ē said Dolly, regretfully. ďShall we come out earlier to-morrow?Ē
ďYes; or we might come out to see them some night. Moonlight nights; thatís the time!Ē
ďWould you dare? Oh, Dick, wouldnít it be grand!Ē
ďHey, Dolly, thereís a squirrel; a real, live one! Thatís betterín fairies. Oh, look at him!Ē
Sure enough, a grey squirrel ran past them, and now sat, turning his head back to look at them, but ready for instant flight if they moved.
But they didnít move, they knew better; and scarce daring to breathe, they sat watching the wonderful sight.
Meantime, there was consternation in the household. At seven oíclock Miss Rachel had sent Hannah, the waitress, to call the twins.
The maid returned with a scared face, and announced that the children had gone.
ďGone!Ē cried Miss Rachel, who was engaged in making her own toilet; ďwhere have they gone?Ē
ďI donít know, maíam; but theyíre not in their rooms, and the front door is wide open.Ē
ďOh, theyíve run away!Ē cried Miss Rachel, and hastily throwing on a dressing gown, she went to her sisterís room.
ďGet up, Abbie,Ē she exclaimed. ďThose children have run away!Ē
ďRun away? What do you mean?Ē
ďWhy, theyíve gone! I suppose they didnít like us. Perhaps they were homesick, or something. Abbie, do you suppose theyíve gone back to Chicago, all alone?Ē
ďNonsense, Rachel, of course they havenít! Children always rise early. Theyíre probably walking in the garden.Ē
ďNo, I donít think so. Something tells me theyíve run away because they donít like us. Oh, Abbie, do you think thatís it?Ē
ďNo, I donít. Go on and dress. Theyíll be back by the time youíre ready for breakfast. If youíre worried, send Hannah out to hunt them up.Ē
So Hannah was sent, but as she only looked in the verandas and in the gardens near the house, of course, she didnít find the twins. By the time the ladies came downstairs, Hannah had impressed Pat and Michael into service, and all three were hunting for the missing guests.
But it never occurred to them to go so far as the woods, where Dick and Dolly were even then sitting, watching the grey squirrel, and looking for fairies.
ďIím thinkiní theyíve fell in the pond,Ē said Pat, as he gazed anxiously into the rather muddy water.
ďNot thim!Ē said Michael; ďtheyíre not the sort that do be afther drowniní thimsilves. Theyíre too frisky. Belikes theyíve run back to the brook where they shtopped at yisterday. Do yez go there aní look, Pat.Ē
ďYes, do,Ē said Miss Rachel, who, with clasped hands and a white face was pacing the veranda.
ďDonít take it so hard, sister,Ē implored Miss Abbie. ďTheyíre around somewhere, Iím sure; and if not,†Ė why, you know, Rachel, you didnít want them here very much, anyway.Ē
ďHow can you be so heartless!Ē cried Miss Rachel, her eyes staring reproachfully at her sister. ďI do want them; theyíre brotherís children, and this is their rightful home. But I wish they wanted to stay. Iím sure they ran away because they didnít like us. Do you think we were too harsh with them yesterday?Ē
ďPerhaps so. At any rate, they have run away. I thought they were in the garden, but if so, they would have been found by now. Do you suppose they took an early train back to New York?Ē
ďOh, Abbie, how can you say so! Those two dear little mites alone in a great city! I canít think it!Ē
ďItís better than thinking they are drowned in the pond.Ē
ďEither is awful; and yet of course some such thing must have happened.Ē
The two ladies were on the verge of hysterics, and the servants, who had all been hunting for the children, were nonplussed. Pat had jumped on a horse, and galloped off to the brook which had so taken their fancy the day before, and Michael stood, with his hands in his pockets, wondering if he ought to drag the pond. Delia, the cook, had left the waiting breakfast and had come to join the anxious household.
ďIím thinkiní theyíre not far off,Ē she said; ďwhy donít ye blow a horn, now?Ē
ďThatís a good idea,Ē said Miss Abbie; ďtry it, Michael.Ē
So Michael found an old dinner-horn that had hung unused in the barn for many years, and he blew resounding blasts.
But unfortunately, the babes in the woods were too far away to hear, and forgetful of all else they watched two squirrels, who, reassured by the childrenís quiet, ran back and forth, and almost came right up to Dick and Dollyís beckoning fingers.
ďIf only we had something to feed them,Ē said Dick, vainly hunting his pockets for something edible.
ďIf only we had something to feed ourselves,Ē said Dolly; ďIím just about starved.Ē
ďSoím I; letís go back now, and come to see the squirrels some other time, and bring them some nuts.Ē
ďAll right, letís.Ē
So back they started, but leisurely, for they had no thought of how the time had slipped by. They paused here and there to investigate many things, and it was well on toward nine oíclock when they came within hearing of Michaelís horn, on which he was blowing a last, despairing blast.
ďHear the horn!Ē cried Dick. ďDo you sípose thatís the way they call the family to breakfast?Ē
ďOh, it isnít breakfast time, yet,Ē said Dolly, confidently. ďIím hungry enough, but it canít be eight oíclock, I know. And, besides, I want time to tidy up.Ē
The clean frock had lost its freshness, and the blue bow was sadly askew, for somehow, try as she would, Dolly never could keep herself spick and span.
They trudged along, through the barnyard and the garden, and finally came to the kitchen door, which stood invitingly open.
ďLetís go in this way,Ē said Dolly; ďitís nearer, and I can skin up to my room and brush my hair. I donít want Auntie Rachel to think Iím always messy.Ē
In at the back door they went, and as the kitchen was deserted, they looked around in some surprise.
ďMight as well catch a bun,Ē said Dick, seeing a panful of rolls in the warming oven.
The hungry children each took a roll, and then sped on up to their rooms, intent on tidying themselves for breakfast.
ďFor goodnessí sake, Dolly!Ē exclaimed Dickís voice through the door, ďitís after nine oíclock! Do you sípose theyíve had breakfast, and where is everybody?Ē
ďAfter nine oíclock!Ē said Dolly, opening the door, to make sure she had heard aright. ďWell, if this isnít the queerest house! Hurry up, Dick, and brush your hair, and weíll go down and see whatís the matter. I know they havenít had breakfast, for the kitchen range was all full of cereals and things.Ē
A few moments later, two neat and well-brushed children tripped gaily downstairs. They went into the library, where their two aunts, nearly in a state of collapse, were reposing in armchairs.
ďGood-morning, aunties,Ē said the twins, blithely. ďAre we late?Ē
Miss Abbie gasped and closed her eyes, at the astonishing sight, but Miss Rachel, who was of a different nature, felt all her anxiety turn to exasperation, and she said, sternly:
ďYou naughty children! Where have you been?Ē
ďWhy, we just got up early, and went to look around the place,Ē volunteered Dolly, ďand we didnít know it got late so soon.Ē
ďBut where were you? Weíve searched the place over.Ē
ďWe went to the woods,Ē said Dick. ďYou see, Aunt Abbie, I felt as if I must screech a little, and we thought if we stayed too near the house, we might wake you up. It was awful early then. I donít see how nine oíclock came so soon! Did we keep breakfast back? Iím sorry.Ē
ďWhy did you want to screech?Ē said Miss Abbie, quickly. ďAre you homesick?Ē
ďOh, no! I mean screech for joy. Just shout, you know, for fun, and jump around, and turn somersaults. I always do those things when Iím glad. But as it turned out, we couldnít, very much, for we were watching for fairies, and then for squirrels, so we had to be quiet after all.Ē
ďAnd so you wanted to shout for joy, did you?Ē asked Aunt Rachel, much mollified at the compliments they paid so unconsciously.
ďOh, yesím! Everything is so beautiful, and so Ė so sort of enchanted.Ē
ďYes; full of fairies, and sprites. The woods, you know, and the pond, and the fountain,†Ė oh, Dana Dene is the finest place I ever saw!Ē
Dickís enthusiasm was so unfeigned, and his little face shone with such intense happiness, that Miss Rachel hadnít the heart to scold him after all. So, resolving to tell the twins later of the trouble they had caused, she went away to tell Delia to send in breakfast, and to tell Michael to go and find Patrick, for the twins had returned.
ďYou see,Ē explained Dolly, as they sat at breakfast, ďwe went out of the house at half-past seven, by the big, hall clock. And I thought then weíd stay an hour, and get back in time to fix up before we saw you. Weíre not very good at keeping clean.Ē
ďSo I see,Ē said Aunt Abbie, glancing at several grass stains and a zigzag tear that disfigured Dollyís frock.
ďYesím; so we ímost always try to get in to meals ahead of time, and that ílows us to spruce up some.Ē
ďWe try to,Ē said Dick, honestly, ďbut we donít always do it.Ē
ďNo,Ē returned Dolly, calmly; ďímost never. But isnít it ístonishing how fast the time goes when you think thereís plenty?Ē
ďIt is,Ē said Aunt Rachel, a little grimly. ďAnd now that youíre to live here, youíll have to mend your ways, about being late, for I wonít have tardiness in my house.Ē
ďAll right,Ē said Dolly, cheerfully; ďIíll hunt up my watch. It doesnít go very well, except when it lies on its face; but if I put it in my pocket upside down, maybe itíll go.Ē
ďIt must be a valuable watch,Ē remarked Aunt Abbie.
ďYesím, it is. Auntie Helen gave it to me for a good-by gift, but I looked at it so often, that I thought it would be handier to wear it hanging outside, like a locket, you know. Well, I did, and then it banged into everything I met. And the chain caught on everything, and the watch got dented, and the crystal broke, and one hand came off. But it was the long hand, so as long as the hour hand goes all right, I can guess at the time pretty good. If Iíd just had it with me this morning, weíd been all right. Iím real sorry we were late.Ē
Aunt Rachel smiled, but it was rather a grim smile.
ďI donít set much store by people who are sorry,Ē she said; ďwhat I like, are people who donít do wrong things the second time. If you are never late to breakfast again, that will please me more than being sorry for this morningís escapade.Ē
ďIíll do both,Ē said Dolly, generously, and indeed, the twins soon learned to be prompt at meals, which is a habit easily acquired, if one wishes to acquire it.
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