Evelyn Raymond.

Dorothy's House Party





However, neither screams nor obstreperous kicks availed to prolong that delectable ride, and presently the little ones found themselves back in the grasp of a bevy of girls who made a human fence about them, and so hedged them in to safety.

Lads, I must leave you to see our girls safe home. Do so immediately the performance is over and it must be nearly now. This poor old chap is ill and bemused by his rough handling. Im going to take him to a hospital I know and have him cared for. Ill go down to Deerhurst as soon as I can but dont wait for me. Come, friend. Let us go; and linking his strong arm within the weak one of the man, scarce older yet so much frailer than he, he walked quietly away, the fanatic unresisting and obedient.

With the Masters departure the glamour faded from the Show; and at Helenas suggestion the whole party promptly made their exit.

Its a wise move, too, Helena. We can catch the five oclock train down and it wont be crowded, as the later one will be. I fancy weve all had about all the circus we want this time. Anybody got a rope? said Herbert.

What in the world do you want of a rope? asked his sister.

I think if we could tie these irrepressibles together we could better keep track of them.

There were some regretful looks backward to that fascinating tent, when the older lads had marshalled their party outwards, with no difficulty now in passing the obstructing stile; but there were no objections raised, and the homeward trip began. But they had scarcely cleared the grounds when Molly Martin paused to ask:

Wheres Jane Potter?

Oh! hang Jane Potter! Is she lost again? asked Danny Smith. Then with a happy thought, adding: Ill go back and look for her! In this way hoping for a second glimpse of the fairy-land he had been forced to leave.

Whereupon, his brother reminded him that he had no ticket, and no fellow gets in twice on one. Besides, that girl isnt Hmm.

Shes probably lingered to study biology or or something about animals, observed Monty. Any way, we can afford to risk Jane Potter. Like enough we shall find her sitting on the piazza writing her impressions of a circus when we get home.

They did. She had early tired of the entertainment and had been one of the first to leave the tent after the accident to it. Once outside, she had met a mountain neighbor and had begged a ride home in his wagon. Jane was one to be careful of Jane and rather thoughtless of others, yet in the main a very good and proper maiden.

But if they did not delay on account of Jane they were compelled to do so by the twins.

These children are as slippery as eels, said Molly, who had never touched an eel. Ill lend my son to anybody wants him, for awhile. Id Id as lief as not! she finished, quoting an expression familiar to Alfy.

And Ill lend Phira! added Dorothy.

She had tried to lead the little one and still keep her arm about Luna, who by general consent was always left to her charge.

All right.

Give her here! said Frazer; while Herbert whistled for a waiting stage to approach. But as it drew near and the girls began to clamber in, preparatory to their ride stationwards, Ananias jerked himself free and springing to one side the road began a series of would-be somersaults. It was an effort on his part to follow Herberts instructions with doubtful success. Of course, what brother did sister must do, and Sapphira promptly emulated her twin.

Oh! the mud! Just look at them! How can we ever take them in that stage with us? asked Mabel Bruce, in disgust.

But the happy youngsters paid no attention to her. Having completed what Herbert had taught them to call their stunt they now approached their instructor and demanded:

Candy, what you promised!

All right. Driver, well stop at the first confectioners we pass and Ill fill them up.

But, Herbert, you should not. Dont you remember how ill they were from Mollys supply? And I do say, if you led them into this scrape, getting themselves in such a mess, youll have to ride in front and keep them with you.

Herbert made a wry face. He was always extremely careful in his dress and his sisters just suggestion wasnt pleasant. However, he made the best of it and no further untoward incident marked that days outing.

Arrived at home they found Jane calmly reading, as has been told, and no other one about except old Ephraim, who had not unfastened the doors for jes one lil gal, but now threw them wide for the House Party. Then he retreated to the kitchen, where Dorothy found him stirring about in a vain attempt to get supper a function out of his line.

Now, Ephy, dear, you cant do that, you know! Youre a blessed old blunderer, but one doesnt boil water for tea in a leaky coffee-pot! Wait! Ill tell you! Ill call the girls and well make a bee of it and get the supper ourselves, before Aunt Malinda and Dinah and the rest get back. Theyll be sure to stay till the last

Till the last man is hung! finished Alfaretta, with prompt inelegance.

Oh! Im just starving! wailed a boyish voice, and Monty rushed in.

So are we all, so are we all! cried others and the kitchen rang with the youthful, merry voices.

Ephraim scratched his gray wool and tried to look stern, but Dorothys Ephy, dear! had gone straight to his simple heart, so lately wounded and sorrowful. After all, the world wasnt such a dark place, even if he had missed the circus, now that all these chatterers were treating him just as of old. They were so happy, themselves, that their happiness overflowed upon him.

Cried Jim Barlow, laying a friendly hand on the black mans shoulder:

Come on, Ephy, boy! If the girls are going to make a bee, and get supper for all hands including the cook lets match them by doing the chores for the men. The help have done a lot for us, these days, and its fair we do a hands-turn for them now! Come on, all! Monty, you shall throw down fodder for the cattle its all youre equal to. Some of us will milk, some take care of the horses, everybody must do something, and I appoint Danny Smith to be story-teller-in-chief, and describe that circus so plain that Ephraim can see it without the worry of going!

Hip, hip, hooray! Lets make a lark of it! echoed Herbert, now forgetful of his good clothes and eager only to bear his part with the rest.

Well, before we begin, lets get the twins each a bowl of bread and milk and tie them in their chairs, just as Dinah does when they bother. They mustnt touch that candy till afterward, though I dont know how Herbert ever kept it from them so long, said Molly Breckenridge, adjusting a kitchen apron to her short figure by tucking it into her belt.

I know! I sat on it! called back the lad and disappeared barnwards.

Luna was placed in her corner and given a bowl like the twins, and the girls set to work, even Jane Potter asking to help.

What all shall we cook? I can make fudges, said Molly.

Fudges are all right you may make some, but I want something better than sweets. Helena, youre the oldest, you begin. Suggest then follow your suggestions. Fortunately weve a pretty big range to work on and Ephraim can make a fire if he cant make tea. Its burning fine. Hurry up, Helena, and speak, else Alfaretta will explode. Shes impatient enough, urged Dorothy.

Once I made angel food, said Helena, rather timidly. It didnt turn out a real success, but I think that was because I didnt use eggs enough.

How many did you use?

A dozen.

Try a dozen and a half. Theres a basket of them yonder in the storeroom and everybody must wait on everybodys self. Else well never get through. Ill light up, its getting dark already, answered Dorothy who, as hostess, was naturally considered director of affairs.

Well, Alfy! What will you do?

I can fry chicken to beat the Dutch!

Hope you can, laughed Helena. Im not fond of Dutch cookery, Ive tried it abroad. They put vinegar in everything.

But where will you get chicken to fry?

Theres a whole slew of them in the ice-box, all ready fixed to cook. I suppose Aunt Malinda wont like it, to have me take them, if shes planned them for some other time, but theres plenty more chickens in the world. Come along, Jane Potter, and get a pan of potatoes to peel. Thats the sitting-downest job there is. Molly Martin, you can make nice raised I mean bakin-powder biscuit theres the flour barrel. Dont waste any time. Everybody fly around sharp and do her level best!

After all it was Alfaretta who took charge, and under her capable direction every girl was presently busy at work.

Im going to make pies. Two lemons, two punkins, two apples. That ought to be enough to go around; only theyll all want the lemon ones. Christ Church, Teacher told me when I made him one once. Said twas the pastry cook at Christ Church College, in England, t first thought them out. I can make em good, too. What you goin to make, yourself, Dorothy Calvert?

I reckon pop-overs. Mother Martha used to make them lovely. Theyre nothing but eggs and flour and and Ill have to think. Oh! I know. Theres an old recipe book in the cupboard, though I dont believe Malinda can read a word in it. She just spreads it out on the table, important like, and pretends she follows its rules, but often Ive seen it was upside down. Do you know how she makes jelly?

No, nor dont want to. We aint makin jelly to-night, and do for goodness sake get to work! cried Alfaretta, imparting energy to all by her own activity. Ma says Im a born cook and Im going to prove it, to-night, though I dont expect to cook for a living. Jane Potter, you ought to know better than peel them tatoes so thick. Many littles make a mickle, I mean a lot of potato skins make a potato Oh! bother, do right, thats all. Just because Mrs. Calvert shes a rich ristocratic, taint no reason we should waste her substance on the pigs.

Jane did not retort, but it was noticeable that thereafter she kept her eyes more closely on her work and not dreamily upon the floor. Presently, from out that roomy kitchen rose a medley of odors that floated even to the workers out of doors; each odor most appetizing and distinct to the particular taste of one or another of the lads.

Thats fried chicken! Glad they had sense enough to give us something hearty, said Monty, smacking his lips.

Herbert sniffed, then advised: Ill warrant you that Helena will try angel cake. If she does, dont any of you touch it; or if you think that isnt polite and will hurt her feelings, why take a piece and leave it lie beside your plate. Wonder if theyll ever get the supper ready, anyhow.

Afraid itll be just anyhow, wailed Monty. Those girls cant cook worth a cent.

Dont you think that, sir. Our up-mountain girls are no fools. I hope Alfaretta Babcock will make pies, Ive et em to picnics and theyre prime, said Mike Martin, loyally.

Well, I only hope they dont keep us too long. I begin to feel as if I could eat hay with the cattle.

After all, the young cooks were fairly successful, and the delay not very great. Most of them were well trained helpers at home, even Dorothy had been such; but this time she had failed.

Three times Ive made those things just exactly like the rule only four times as much and those miserable pop-overs just will not pop! We might as well call the boys and give them what there is. And

At this moment Dorothy withdrew her head from a careful scrutiny of the oven, and screamed! The next instant she had darted forward to the imposing figure framed in the doorway and thrown her arms about it, crying:

O, Aunt Betty, Aunt Betty! Im a bad, careless girl, but I love you and Im so glad, so glad youve come!

CHAPTER XIV
AUNT BETTY TAKES A HAND

That picnic-supper! The fun of it must be imagined, not described. Sufficient to say that it was the merriest meal yet served in that great mansion; that all, including Mrs. Calvert, brought to it appetites which did not hesitate at failures, and found even Helenas angel cake palatable, though Herbert did remark to his next neighbor:

If theyd had that kind of leathery stuff instead of canvas to cover that circus tent it would never have broken through, never in the world!

Not the least delighted of that company were the servants, who returned late from their outing, and had had to walk up the mountain from the Landing; they having lingered in the hill-city till the last possible train, which there were no local stages to meet.

And to think that our Miss Dorothy had the kindness to get supper for us, too! Sure, shes the bonniest, dearest lass ever lived out of old Ireland. Hungry, say you? Sure I could have et the two shoes off my feet, I was that starved! And to think of her and them others just waitin on us sames if we was the family! Bless her! And now Im that filled I feel at peace with all the world and patience enough to chase them naughty spalpeens to their bed! See at em! As wide awake now as the morn and it past nine of the night! cried Norah, coming into the room where the twins were having a delightful battle with the best sofa cushions; Mrs. Calvert looking on with much amusement and as yet not informed who they were and why so at home at Deerhurst.

The chatter of tongues halted a little when, as the clock struck the half-hour, Mr. Seth came in. He looked very weary, but infinitely relieved at the unexpected return of the mistress of the house, and his greeting was most cordial. Indeed, there was something about it which suggested to the young guests that their elders might wish to be alone; so, one after another, they bade Mrs. Betty good-night and disappeared.

Dorothy, also, was for slipping quietly away, but Aunt Betty bade her remain; saying gently:

We wont sleep, my child, till we have cleared away all the clouds between us. As for you, Cousin Seth, what has so wearied you? Something more than chaperoning a lot of young folks to a circus, I fancy.

Youre right. The afternoon performance was a pleasure; the ride home a trial.

With whom did you ride?

Oliver Sands.

Indeed? How came

Its a long story, Cousin Betty. Wouldnt we better wait till morning?

Dont you know how much curiosity I have? Do you want to keep me awake all night? demanded the lady. But she believed that her old friend had some deep perplexity on his mind and that it would be a comfort to him to share it with her. Is it something Dorothy may hear?

Certainly, if you wish. Already she knows part. Has she told you how the twins came here?

Somebody told, I forget who. All of the young folks talked at once, but I learned that they had been dropped on our premises, like a couple of kittens somebody wished to lose.

Exactly; and though he did not personally drop them, the man who most heartily wishes to lose them is miller Oliver Sands. They are his most unwelcome grandchildren.

Why, Cousin Seth! Why, Master! cried the hearers, amazed.

True. Their mother was Rose Sands, whom her father always believed or said was ruined by the foolish name her mother gave her. His sons were like himself and are, I believe, good men enough, though tainted with their fathers hardness.

Hardness. That suave old Quaker! But youre right, and I never liked him.

Nor I, Im sorry to say, but I dont wish to let that fact stand in the way of fair judgment. The man is in trouble, deep trouble. Im not the only one who has noticed it. His behavior for awhile back has been most peculiar. He neglects his business, leaves the fruit in his vineyards and orchards to go to waste, and to his workmens question: What shall we do next, returns no answer. He has taken to roaming about the country, calling at every house and inspecting each one and its surroundings as if he were looking for something he cant find. His face has lost its perpetual smile or smirk and betrays the fact that he is an old man and a most unhappy one.

Huh! Ive no great sympathy for Oliver Sands. He has wronged too many people, said Mrs. Calvert, coldly. But if those children are his grandchildren, what are they doing here?

Im coming to that. His daughter, Rose, married out of meeting, and against her fathers will. He turned her out of doors, forbade her mother ever to see or speak to her again, and though being a Friend he took no oath, his resolution to cast her off was equivalent to one. That part of my tale is common neighborhood gossip.

I never heard it, said Mrs. Betty.

No; such would scarcely be retailed to you. Well, Rose took refuge with her husbands people, and all misfortune followed her flight from her fathers house. Her mother-in-law, her consumptive husband, and herself are dead; she passing away as the twins came into the world. The father-in-law, who was only a country-cobbler, but a profoundly religious man, became half-crazed by his troubles, and though I believe he honestly did his best by the babies left on his hands, they must have suffered much. They have never been so happy as now and I hope

Please, Mr. Seth, let me tell! Aunt Betty, if youll let me, I want to adopt Sapphira!

Adopt Sapphira! You? A child yourself?

Yes, please. Ill go without everything myself and Id work, if I could, to earn money to do it. Molly is going to adopt Ananias. It will be lovely to have some object in life, and some the Seniors at the Rhinelander adopted some Chinese babies. True. They pay money each month, part of their allowance, to do it; so we thought

But Aunt Betty was leaning back in her chair and laughing in a most disconcerting manner. Its not easy to be enthusiastic on a subject that is ridiculed and Dorothy said no more. But if she were hurt by having her unselfish project thus lightly treated, she was made instantly glad by the tender way her guardian drew her close, and the gentle pat of the soft old hand on her own cheek.

Oh! you child, you children! And I made the mistake of thinking you were as wise as a grown-up! Well attend to the adoption case, by and by. Let Cousin Seth say his say now.

Well, finally, the old man, Hiram Bowen, forsook his old home, sold his few belongings and came here to our mountain. He must have had some sense left, and realized that he was not long for this world, because though until lately he has been unforgiving to Oliver Sands for the treatment of Rose, he now sought to interest her father on the little ones behalf. Ive learned he made frequent visits to Heartsease, the Sands farm, but only once saw its owner. But he often saw Dorcas, the wife, and found her powerless to help him; besides, he did not mend matters, even with her, by explaining that he had named the twins as he had after her husband, and herself! He told her that she and Oliver were living liars, because the Scripture commanded Christians to look after their own households and they did not do so.

But how could her heart, the heart of any woman, remain hard against the sight of her orphan grandchildren? demanded Mrs. Calvert, impatiently. Ive met that Dorcas Sands on the road, going to meeting with the miller, and she looked the very soul of meekness and gentleness.

So, I believe she is; but she never saw the children. I told you he was crazed, partially; and despite the fact that he felt their mothers family should care for the orphans he did not want to give them up, permanently. He felt that in doing so he would be consigning them to a life of deceit and unscrupulousness.

How strange! And, Seth, how strange that you should know all this. Its not many days since that old man passed them on to us. You must have been busy gathering news, commented Mrs. Betty.

I have; but the most of it I learned this afternoon, when I was taking the fanatic to the Hospital. Dolly, you tell her about his harangue in the tent and what the twins did there. It will give a diversion to my thoughts, for it was funny!

So Dolly told and they all laughed over the recital, and in the laughter both Mrs. Calvert and Dorothy lost the last bit of constraint that had remained in their manner whenever either chanced to remember the missing one hundred dollars and the sharpness of the telegram.

Mrs. Calvert resumed:

You say, taking him to the Hospital. Have you done that, then? And how came you with Oliver Sands? The last man in the world to be drawn to Newburgh to see a circus.

Not the circus, of course, but the county fair. He got up enough interest in ordinary affairs to drive to the fair grounds to see his cattle safely housed. He will have, I presume, the finest exhibit of Holstein-Friesians on the grounds. He always has had, and has carried off many first premiums. Hes on the board of managers, too, and they had a business meeting at the Chairmans, which is next door to St. Michaels the semi-private establishment where I took Bowen. He was just unhitching George Fox, to come home, as I stepped out of the Hospital grounds and met him.





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