The Corner House Girls Under Canvas
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УAnd what names shall we send Mrs. MacCall?Ф Dot wanted to know, when Tess had started the letter УDeare Missus McallФ and was chewing the pencil as an aid to further thought.
УLetТs call them by seashore names,Ф suggested Tess. УThen theyТll remind us of the fun we had here at Pleasant Cove.Ф
УOh-oo! LetТs,Ф agreed Dot.
УWell, now,Ф said Tess, promptly. УWhat will be the very first one? IТll write Mrs. MacCall what we want,Ф and she proceeded to indite the following paragraph to begin the letter:
Here TessТs laboring pencil came to a full stop. УNow, you got the first name, Dot?Ф she asked.
УI got two,Ф declared Dot, confidently.
УWhat are they!Ф queried Tess. УNow, we want them to be real salt-water names. Just like fishesТ names Ц or boatsТ names Ц or like that.Ф
УI got two,Ф declared Dot, soberly. УLots of men must be named those names about here. I hear them hollerinТ to each other when they are out in the boats.Ф
УWell, well!Ф cried Tess, impatiently. УWhat are the names?Ф
УOneТs СStarboardТ and the otherТs СPort,ТФ declared Dot, seriously. УAnd they are real nice names, I think.Ф
Tess was rather taken aback. She had a hazy opinion that УStarboardФ and УPortФ were not Christian names; they might be, however, and she had heard them herself a good deal. Besides, she wanted to agree with Dot if she could, and so she sighed and wrote as follows:
Neale, and Ruth, and Agnes came along some time afterward and found the smaller Corner House girls reduced almost to a state of distraction. They had been unable to decide upon two more names. УStarboardФ and УPortФ had been inspired, it seemed. Now they were Уstuck.Ф
УIt does seem as though there should be some other seashore names that would sound good for kittens,Ф sighed Tess. УI think СStarboardТ and СPortТ are real pretty Ц donТt you, Ruth?Ф
УVery fine,Ф agreed her older sister, while Agnes restrained her giggles.
УWhy not call one of the others СHard-a-LeeТ?Ф suggested Neale, gravely.
УIs that a seashore name?Ф asked Tess, doubtfully.
УJust as salt as a dried codfish,Ф declared Neale, confidently.
УI think it is real pretty,Ф Dot ventured.
УThen weТll call the third one СHard-a-Lee,ТФ declared Tess. УIТll tell Mrs. MacCall so,Ф and she laboriously went at the misspelled letter again.
УBut how about the fourth one?Ф asked Agnes, laughing.УHeТs not going to be a step-child, is he? IsnТt he to have a name?Ф
УYes. We must have one more,Ф Tess said, wearily. УWonТt you give us one, Aggie?Ф
УSure!Ф said Agnes, promptly. УMain-sheet.ТФ
УСStarboard, Port, Hard-a-Lee and Main-sheet.Т Some names, those!Ф declared Neale.
УI like them,Ф Tess said, reflectively. УThey donТt sound like other catsТ names Ц do they, Ruthie?Ф
УThey most certainly do not,Ф admitted the oldest Corner House girl.
УAnd are they pretty, Ruthie?Ф asked Dot.
УThey are better than Сpretty,ТФ agreed Ruth, kindly. УIf you children are suited, I am sure everybody else Ц including the kittens themselves Ц will be pleased!Ф
The labored letter was therefore finished and sent away. As Dot said, Уit lifted a great load from their minds.Ф
But there was another matter that served to trouble all four of the Corner House girls for some days. That was what Mr. Reynolds, the lumberman, was going to do about Tom Jonah.
The girls seldom left their tent now without taking the dog with them. He was something of a nuisance in the boat when they went crabbing; but Agnes would not hear of going out without him.
УI know that man will come back here some time and try to get him away,Ф she declared. УBut Tom Jonah will never go of his own free will Ц no, indeed!Ф
УAnd he wonТt sell him again, he said,Ф sighed Ruth. УI donТt just see what we can do.Ф
However, this trouble did not keep the Corner House girls from having many good times with their girl friends at the Spoondrift bungalow, and their boy friends on the beach.
There were fishing trips, and picnics on Wild Goose Island. They sometimes went outside the cove in bigger boats, and fished on the Уbanks,Ф miles and miles off shore. There was fun in the evenings, too, at the hotel dances, although the Corner House girls did not attend any of those held at the Overlook House, for they were not exactly friendly with Trix Severn.
One day Pearl HarrodТs Uncle Phil arranged to take a big party of the older girls to Shawmit, which was some miles up the river. Ruth and Agnes went along and that day they left Tom Jonah at Willowbend to take care of the smaller girls.
Ruth determined to see Mr. Reynolds, so when they reached Shawmit, she hunted up the lumbermanТs office. She found him in a more amiable mood than he had been on the morning he drove to Pleasant Cove to get Tom Jonah.
УWell, Miss!Ф he said. УHow do you feel about giving up that dog?Ф
УJust the same, sir,Ф said Ruth, honestly. УBut I hope you will tell me who the man is you sold Tom Jonah to, so that we can go to him and buy the dog.Ф
УDo you girls really want old Tom Jonah as much as that?Ф asked Mr. Reynolds.
УYes, sir,Ф said the girl, simply.
УWilling to buy the old rascal? And heТs nothing but a tramp.Ф
УHeТs a gentleman. You said so yourself on his collar,Ф said Ruth.
The man looked at her seriously and nodded. УI guess you think a whole lot of him, eh?Ф
УA great deal, sir,Ф admitted Ruth.
УWell! I guess IТll have to tell you,Ф said the man, smiling. УOld Tom evidently thinks more of you girls than he does of me. Tell you what: After I got home the other day I thought it over. I reckon Tom JonahТs chosen for himself. I paid my brother-in-law back the money he gave me for him. So you wonТt be bothered again about him.Ф
УOh, sir Ц Ф
УYou keep him. Rather, let Tom Jonah stay as long as he wants to. But if he comes back to me I shaТnТt let him go again. No! I donТt want money for him. I guess the old dog likes it where he is, and his days of usefulness are pretty nearly over anyway. IТm convinced heТll have a good home with you Corner House girls.Ф
УJust as long as he lives!Ф declared Ruth, fervently.
So Mr. Reynolds did not prove to be a hardhearted man, after all. Agnes and Tess and Dot were delighted. There was a regular celebration over Tom Jonah that evening after Ruth got home and told the news.
It is doubtful if Tom Jonah understood when Dot informed him that he was going to be their dog Уfor keeps.Ф But he barked very intelligently and the two smaller girls were quite convinced that he understood every word that was said to him.
УOf course, he canТt talk back,Ф Tess said. УDogs donТt speak our language. But if we could understand the barking language, I am sure we would hear him say he was glad.Ф
And as our story of the Corner House girlsТ visit to Pleasant Cove began with Tom Jonah, we may safely end it with the assurance that the good old dog will spend the rest of his life with Ruth and Agnes and Tess and Dot, at the old Corner House in Milton.
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