Dick and DollyŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
Miss Abbie fluttered about.
ďOh, Rachel! How awful! What shall we do? Call for help, but donít let the children come here.Ē
ďYes, let us come,Ē cried Dick, as he and Dolly danced toward the group. ďLet us come, sheís our friend; sheís Lady Eliza Dusenbury.Ē
ďWhat do you mean?Ē cried Miss Rachel. ďThis lady has been hurt somehow. Go and call Hannah. Or perhaps we had better send Michael for a doctor.Ē
ďNo, donít, Aunt Rachel,Ē said Dolly, who was now shrieking with laughter. ďLady Eliza isnít much hurt. But isnít she a dear!Ē
Dolly threw her arms round the strange ladyís neck, and patted the injured cheek gently. Magazine and shopping bag slid to the floor, but otherwise, the stranger made no motion.
ďDolly, behave yourself!Ē cried Aunt Abbie. ďWhat do you mean by such actions? Let the poor lady be! Oh, what shall we do, Rachel?Ē
But Aunt Rachel had begun to see daylight. The irrepressible mirth of the two children told her that there was a joke somewhere, and then, as she recognised her own dress and hat, she suspected the truth.
ďHím,Ē she said; ďsuppose we take off the poor ladyís veil, and see how much she is hurt.Ē
ďSuppose we do,Ē said Dolly, and she obligingly assisted her aunt to remove the veil from Lady Elizaís beautiful, but scarred face.
ďWell!Ē she exclaimed as she saw the glass eyes and the pink wax face, ďwhat have you two been up to, now?Ē
As for Aunt Abbie, she sank down on a nearby chair, helpless with laughter.
Then Aunt Rachel followed her example, and Dick and Dolly danced round the three seated figures, while they screamed themselves hoarse with glee.
They moved Lady Elizaís arms into threatening and despairing poses, each more ridiculous than the other.
They took off her hat, and breaking bunches of wistaria from the veranda vine, they wreathed her golden mop of hair with them.
They took Aunt Rachelís eyeglasses from the little gold hook on her bodice, and perched them on Lady Elizaís nose, sticking a pin in the wax to hold them on. And at each ridiculous demonstration the two aunts would become convulsed with laughter.
ďIsnít she lovely!Ē said Dolly, at last, as she hung around Aunt Rachelís neck, and watched Dick tie the string of a red balloon to Lady Elizaís hand, just so that the balloon kept thumping her in the face.
ďShe is beautiful,Ē agreed Aunt Rachel, with a shade of mental reservation in her tones. ďWhere did you get her, and why did you take my newest gown to play with?Ē
ďI didnít know it was your newest gown!Ē said Dolly, regretfully; but Aunt Rachel told her not to mind, they would take it off, and there were several older ones that would do equally well for Lady Eliza.
The story of the auction was told, and the aunts had another season of mirth over the ridiculous bidding.
ďAll right,Ē said Aunt Rachel, after the story was finished, ďbut never bid on anything unless you have enough money to pay for it.Ē
ďWe didnít,Ē said Dick; ďwe counted our money first.
And truly, this was the only thing in the whole auction we wanted.Ē
ďWell, Iím glad you have her. I think you can have good fun with such a big doll. To-morrow Iíll find you some clothes.Ē
Aunt Rachel was as good as her word, and next day she went to the attic and found several discarded costumes of her own and Aunt Abbieís that were fine for Eliza. Hats and bonnets, capes and shawls, a parasol and a feather boa,†Ė indeed the Lady Eliza soon had a complete and even luxurious wardrobe.
Aunt Abbie touched up the injured cheek with some water-colour paints, and then the injury scarcely showed at all.
That afternoon the twins prepared to spring the joke on Pinkie and Jack. They expected them both to come over and play, and beforehand they got the Lady Eliza ready. The arbour in the playground was now nearly covered with vines, and formed a well-shaded tent.
In here, at a table, they placed Eliza, her hands meekly in her lap, and her face downcast. She wore a black-and-white checked suit, and a black hat and veil. Her hands were ungloved, but were filled with flowers, which concealed the artificial-looking finger-tips.
Having arranged her exactly to their liking, the twins sat on the veranda steps, waiting for their friends. Pinkie came first, and Jack came very soon after.
ďLetís go out to the playground,Ē said Dick, casually.
ďAll right,Ē agreed Jack. ďItís too hot for tag; letís play hide and seek.Ē
They all sauntered toward the playground, and as they nearly reached it, Jack said:
ďWhy, thereís a lady in there!Ē
ďA lady?Ē said Dick, looking surprised. ďWhat are you talking about?Ē
ďThere is,Ē repeated Jack; ďsee.Ē
They all peeped through the vines, and sure enough, a lady was seated at the table. Her hands were full of flowers, but she appeared dejected, and her head drooped a little.
ďIt isnít either of the aunties,Ē whispered Dolly, ďtheyíre in the house.Ē
ďWho is it then?Ē Jack whispered back, and Pinkie said, ďDonít letís go in, Iím afraid.Ē
ďAfraid of a lady!Ē said Dick. ďPooh, Iím not. Maybe itís your mother, Pinkie.Ē
ďNo, it isnít,Ē she replied. ďMotherís at home. Maybe itís Hannah.Ē
ďWhat would Hannah be here for?Ē said Dolly. ďLetís go in and see who it is.Ē
ďAll right,Ē said Dick, and he stepped inside. ďShe wonít speak to me,Ē he said, stepping out again. ďYou go in, Jack.Ē
Not wishing to be thought cowardly, Jack stepped into the arbour, and in his politest tones, said:
ďHow do you do, maíam?Ē
But the lady did not move, and just looked at Jack with big blue eyes, that stared through her black veil.
ďSheís a funny lady,Ē said Jack, rather bewildered. ďShe wonít speak, and she just stares at me.Ē
ďYou try, Pinkie,Ē said Dolly.
So Pinkie went up to the lady, and in her sweet little voice said:
ďWhatís the matter, lady?Ē
She, too, received only a blue-eyed stare, and no word of reply.
ďPerhaps sheís asleep,Ē said Dick.
ďNo, her eyes are wide open,Ē said Jack, his own eyes also wide open in surprise.
ďThen she must have fainted,Ē said Dick; ďwe must try to bring her to.Ē
He gave the lady a pat on the shoulder, but still she didnít stir.
ďHit her harder,Ē said Dolly. ďDonít hurt her, you know, but you have to shake people to make íem come out of a faint.Ē
Dick thumped her on the back, and slily bent her arm up until she seemed to be shaking her fist at them. The flowers tumbled to the floor, and her other arm flew up above her head.
ďOh!Ē cried Pinkie, and ran farther away from the now belligerent-looking lady.
ďOh!Ē cried Jack, catching on. Then, screaming with laughter, he seized the ladyís hand shook it, crying, ďHow do you do, maíam! How do you do? Iím so glad to meet you!Ē
Pinkie was still mystified, so Dolly ushered her up to the lady, saying, ďMiss Pinkie Middleton ílow me to make you íquainted with Lady Eliza Dusenbury!Ē
Dick had taken off Elizaís veil, and Pinkie at last realised what sort of lady she was meeting.
ďOh, Dolly,Ē she cried, ďwhere did you get her? Isnít it fun! I think sheís fine!Ē
ďSheís great!Ē declared Jack. ďYou fooled me good, old Mr. Dick Dana! Whatís her name, did you say?Ē
ďLady Eliza Dusenbury,Ē said Dick, ďbut we call her Eliza, if we want to. Letís take her for a ride.Ē
They got the little express wagon that Dick and Dolly used to cart their plants or flower-pots around the gardens in, and lifted Eliza in.
ďSheíll have to stand up,Ē said Dolly, ďbecause she canít sit down.Ē
ďAll right,Ē said Jack, ďweíll tie her so she wonít upset.Ē
They fastened her iron pedestal, which served her instead of feet, firmly to the wagon, and then proceeded to deck both vehicle and passenger with flowers, till it looked like a float in a parade.
Dolly and Pinkie made a gilt paper crown, and wound gilt paper around a long rod for a sceptre.
ďOh, letís make her Queen of the Fairies!Ē cried Pinkie.
So the dress Eliza had on was changed for a white one. This was decked with ribbons and garlands of flowers. Crown and wand were put in place, and then the whole four combined their ingenuity to invent wings. At last they were cut from thin pasteboard, and covered all over with fringed white tissue paper. This fringe, about an inch wide, and cut fine, was quickly made, and when pasted on in close rows, gave a lovely fluffy appearance to the wings.
A gauzy white veil, spangled with gilt paper stars, floated down from the crown, and the Queen of the Fairies presented a most delectable appearance.
The express wagon was not good enough for this dream of beauty, so it was made into a float, by placing some boards on top of it. This top was neatly covered with a sheet and decked with flowers.
Then the Queen of the Fairies was raised to her triumphal car, and her four willing subjects drew her about.
Long reins were made by cutting strips of white muslin, and these were attached to four prancing little steeds, while the Queen held the ends in her waxen hands. The cort?ge made a tour of the grounds, and drew up finally at the house to exhibit their peerless Lady Eliza to the aunties, who expressed heartfelt admiration.
ďItís the best plaything ever,Ē declared Jack, as he and Pinkie went home. ďWeíll be over to-morrow to play some more.Ē
ďChildren,Ē said Aunt Rachel, one afternoon, as dressed in their best calling costumes, she and Aunt Abbie were about to enter the carriage, ďwe are going to make some calls, and about five oíclock I want you to meet us at Mrs. Hamptonís, and we will all come home together.Ē
ďOh, Auntie Rachel,Ē said Dolly, ďI donít want to go calling to-day. I want to play.Ē
ďI know it, dearie, and so Iíve let you off from most of the calls weíre making. But I especially want you to be with me at Mrs. Hamptonís, so you can play till half-past four, and then get dressed and meet us there at five.Ē
ďAll right, Auntie,Ē said Dolly, who was a sunny-tempered little girl, after all. ďWhat shall I wear?Ē
ďPut on your new white piqu?, and Dick, wear your light-grey suit. Now, be sure, children,†Ė be there promptly by five.Ē
ďYesím; and if youíre not there shall we wait for you?Ē
ďYes,Ē said Aunt Abbie, ďwait until we come, no matter what time it is. But weíll be there about five.Ē
The aunts drove away and the twins played out in the garden until it was time to dress.
They started off, looking very demure with their clean clothes and freshly-brushed hair.
ďI donít want to go a bit,Ē said Dolly, with a little sigh, as she walked along.
ďNeither do I,Ē replied Dick, ďbut we have to go, so thereís no use making a fuss about it. Where does she live, anyway?Ē
ďWhy, I donít know; I thought Auntie told you.Ē
ďNo, she didnít, but I know it canít be far, because she said we could get there in ten minutes. Hereís old Abe, letís ask him.Ē
The twins stopped an old man who was going by in his cart, and who was a well-known character in the town.
ďHello, Abe,Ē said Dick. ďDo you know where Mrs. Hampton lives?Ē
ďSure, my boy. I just came from there, haviní been doiní some cartiní for her. You see that red-brick house, over beyond those trees?Ē
ďWell, itís the next one beyond,†Ė a white one. You go over that way, and anybodyíll direct you.Ē
ďAll right; thank you, Abe,Ē and the old man drove on, while the twins followed the direction he had given them.
ďIíd like to skip,Ē said Dolly, ďbut it makes our shoes all dusty.Ē
ďNo, we mustnít do that,Ē agreed Dick. ďAunt Rachel would have a cat-fit if we werenít spick and span when we get there.Ē
So they walked on sedately, only pausing now and then to pick a flower, or look at a bird on a branch.
They inquired once more, in order to be sure, and then turned in at Mrs. Hamptonís gate. A fine fountain was playing in the front yard, and the twins crossed the lawn to see if there were any fish in it. There werenít, but the plash of the cool water was very attractive.
ďIíll dare you to stick your foot in,Ē said Dick, suddenly.
They stood on the very brink of the fountain basin, and so impossible was it for either twin to refuse a ďdare,Ē that Dollyís immaculate white shoe and stocking went flash into the water and out again before she realised what she had done.
ďOh, Dick!Ē she exclaimed; ďyou made me do that! What will Aunt Rachel say?Ē
ďToo bad, Dollums,Ē said Dick, greatly disturbed at his own part in the mischief. ďI didnít think what I was saying.Ē
ďAnd I didnít think what I was doing! I dare you to stick your foot in!Ē
Partly because of the dare, and partly because he was quite willing to share his sisterís fate, Dick hastily thrust his own neat black shoe and stocking in the water.
ďThere!Ē he said, as half proudly he drew it out again. ďNow weíre even!Ē
ďYes; but how can we go into Mrs. Hamptonís this way?Ē
ďPerhaps they wonít notice. Mine doesnít feel very wet, does yours?Ē
ďSopping! and theyíll drip all over her carpet.Ē
ďLetís wipe them on the grass.Ē
But the green grass did not improve the appearance of Dollyís white shoe, though Dickís black one didnít show the effects of the bath so plainly.
ďCome on, Dolly, we may as well face the music.Ē
They went on toward the house, and the dust of the footpath settled on Dickís wet shoe and stocking until he was quite as untidy looking as his sister.
ďWow! isnít it soppy!Ē he exclaimed as the water in his shoe oozed and spattered out.
ďHorrid! I donít see why we did it!Ē
ďWell, keep up a brave face, maybe the parlour will be sort of dark and they wonít notice.Ē
They rang the bell, and a maid opened the door.
ďIs Mrs. Hampton in?Ē said Dolly, in her, sweetest tones.
ďYes; walk in the drawing-room. What names?Ē
ďMiss Dana and Mr. Dana,Ē said Dolly, and was about to explain that they had come to meet their aunts, when the maid disappeared.
She returned to say that Mrs. Hampton would appear presently, and for them to wait.
ďíCourse weíll wait,Ē said Dick to Dolly, as the maid again left them. ďThe aunties arenít here on time, after all. Píraps our feetíll dry before they come.Ē
ďI wish there was a fire. Iím dripping on this pretty light carpet. Dick, letís go out in the kitchen or some place, and find a fire.Ē
ďAll right, come on.Ē
They left the drawing-room, and as they crossed the hall they saw a bright wood fire in a room across the hall, evidently the library. So they went in, and drawing up two big chairs, they sat down and held their two wet feet to the crackling blaze.
ďThis is gay,Ē said Dick, leaning back in his chair with a sigh of satisfaction. ďWeíll be all dry in a few minutes, Doll.Ē
ďYes; but I wish Aunt Rachel would come before Mrs. Hampton comes down. I donít know her. Do you?Ē
ďNope; never saw her. But the aunties are bound to be here soon. Itís quarter-past five, now.Ē
ďWhat are you children doing?Ē said a voice behind them, and Dick and Dolly jumped from their chairs, and saw a lady coming toward them. She was a very pretty lady, in a trailing silk house gown, and lots of frizzy light hair.
Dolly thought she looked a little like Lady Eliza, and not at all like any of Aunt Rachelís other friends.
ďHow do you do?Ē said Dolly, making her curtsey prettily, while Dick bobbed his head.
ďHow do you do?Ē returned Mrs. Hampton, ďbut who are you?Ē
ďWeíre Dolly and Dick Dana,Ē said Dick, ďand our aunties said for us to meet them here at five oíclock. But they donít seem to be here yet.Ē
ďNo; theyíre not. Are your aunties Miss Rachel and Miss Abbie Dana?Ē
ďYesím; and they said they would call here this afternoon.Ē
ďAnd they told us if they werenít here to wait till they came,Ē said Dolly.
ďYes?Ē said Mrs. Hampton, looking at her quizzically. ďAnd why are you sitting almost into the fire? Itís a warm day.Ē
ďYes,Ē said Dolly, ďbut you see, we stepped into the fountain as we came along, and so weíre just drying our feet.Ē
ďThatís a very good idea,Ē and Mrs. Hamptonís smiling eyes were as pleasant as if stepping into fountains was quite usual for her guests. ďAnd so your aunts are coming to call on me?Ē
ďYes, at five oíclock. But they seem to be late, so, if you please, weíll wait for them.Ē
They waited until half-past five, and then until quarter of six, and still the Dana ladies didnít come. The twins grew very impatient, for it was most irksome to have to sit and talk polite conversation with a grown-up lady.
Mrs. Hampton asked so many questions too. Very impertinent questions they seemed to Dick, though he answered to the best of his ability.
Mrs. Hampton was smiling and pleasant, and seemed interested in hearing about the Dana establishment, but still Dick and Dolly felt uncomfortable, and wished their aunts would come.
At six oíclock Mrs. Hampton said she felt sure the aunts had changed their plans, and were not coming, and she delicately hinted that she would send the twins home.
ďNo,Ē said Dick, positively; ďwe must stay here till they come. Aunt Abbie said to wait, no matter what time it was. And, besides, if they have changed their plans, and are not coming here, theyíd send Michael for us, anyway.Ē
Dolly agreed to this, and the two little martyrs sat for another half-hour.
ďWell, if you stay any longer, you must stay to dinner,Ē said Mrs. Hampton at last. ďDo you sit up to dinner at home?Ē
ďWe have supper at night,Ē said Dolly, and her lip quivered a little, for she was beginning to feel anxious about her aunts.
ďWell, I have dinner at night,†Ė at eight oíclock.Ē
ďAt eight oíclock!Ē exclaimed Dolly. ďDonít you get awfully hungry before that time?Ē
ďNo, I donít,Ē said Mrs. Hampton, smiling; ďbut Iím sure you chickabiddies will. So suppose I give you a nice little supper up in my sitting-room, and excuse you from dinner? I have guests coming, and it isnít exactly a childrenís party, you see.Ē
ďBut weíre not going to stay here all night!Ē exclaimed Dolly in dismay.
ďIt looks that way to me,Ē said Mrs. Hampton. ďI offered to send you home, and you said no. Now I feel sure your aunts wonít come,†Ė itís too late for them, and if youíre bound to wait for them, I can offer you supper and pleasant sleeping rooms,†Ė but I canít invite you to dinner.Ē
The twins were uncertain what to do. But after all, they had no choice. Aunt Rachel had told them to wait until she came, and Aunt Rachelís orders were always to be obeyed. To be sure something might have happened to prevent the aunties from carrying out their plan of calling on Mrs. Hampton, but even so, they would have sent for the children. And if they had gone home, they would surely send Michael over for them at once. It wasnít as if the aunties didnít know where they were. They had sent them to Mrs. Hamptonís, and told them to wait there. So they waited.
They thought Mrs. Hampton seemed a little annoyed because they waited. But as Dick said to Dolly, ďIím not going to disobey Aunt Rachel for another lady. But all the same, Dollums, I do want to go home.Ē
ďSo do I,Ē said Dolly, ďI think itís horrid here.Ē
It wasnít really horrid at all, but to be unwelcome guests in a strange house is not especially pleasant, no matter how pretty the house may be.
The twins had been taken up to Mrs. Hamptonís sitting-room, and in charge of a maid, had been served with a delightful little supper. Bread and milk, jam, fresh strawberries, and dear little cakes, followed by ice cream, made a goodly feast indeed. After it, their spirits rose a little, and they ate their ice cream with smiling faces.
ďI think the aunties decided to come this evening instead of afternoon,Ē said Dick, unable to think of any other explanation.
ďThey never do make calls in the evening but perhaps thatís it,Ē said Dolly, doubtfully. ďI hear people coming in, Dick, letís go and look over the banisters.Ē
Carrying their ice cream plates with them the twins stepped out into the hall and looked over the banisters on the scene below.
It was a fascinating glow of lights and flowers and ladies and gentlemen in evening dress, for the dinner guests had come, and were standing about, engaged in conversation.
Dolly was enchanted with the grand ladies, with jewels in their hair, and with low-necked gowns, and Dick, too, leaned over the banister to see the gay scene. So absorbed were they that they did not heed their melting ice cream, and, almost at the same moment, the soft, cold mass slid from each tipped-up plate, on the heads and shoulders of the ladies and gentlemen below.
Such a shriek of dismay as arose brought Dick and Dolly to a realisation of what they had done, and in an agony of mortification they fled back to the sitting-room.
Here Mrs. Hampton found them, their heads buried in sofa pillows, and crying in muffled paroxysms.
ďYou must go home,Ē she said, and her cold, hard tones were more of a reproof than any words could have been. ďMy coachman will take you, and I wish you to go at once.Ē
ďWe wish to go, Mrs. Hampton,Ē said Dolly, striving to choke back her tears while she made some sort of apology. ďWeíre very sorry we came, and weíre íceeding sorry we spilled the ice cream. It was very good.Ē
This sounded as if Dolly merely regretted the loss of the dainty, but it was not so. She meant to compliment the supper that had been given them, but, what with their worry over Aunt Rachelís absence, their own homesickness, and the awful accident of the ice cream, both children were completely upset.ŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
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