Margaret Penrose.

Dorothy Dale in the City





Dorothy was busy instructing the mother how to prepare beef broth, and a nourishing food for the baby, when the clock struck eight.

Tommy, said Dorothy, as she busily stirred the babys food, do you know where there is a telephone? I must send a message to Aunt Winnie.

Sure, said the confident Tommy, I know all about them things. I often seen people telphoning, thus Tommy called it.

Soon it was agreed that Tommy and his father would go and inform Dorothys aunt of her whereabouts, over the wire.

It was an anxious fifteen minutes waiting for their return. The mother let the steak broil to a crisp in her anxiety lest the father slip away from Tommys grasp, and Dorothy, listening for the returning footsteps, had visions of again running after Tommys father to bring him back to the bosom of his family, and allowed the oatmeal to boil over. But all was serene when the man returned safely with the information that: some old feller on the wire got excited, and a lot of people all talked at once, and the only thing he was sure of was that they demanded the address of his home, which he had given them, not being ashamed, as he proudly bragged, for anyone to know where he lived.

That was father! said Dorothy. What else did he say?

Nothin, replied the man, but the old feller was maddern a wet hen!

Poor father! thought Dorothy, as she handed an apple to one of the small boys. No doubt Im very foolish to have done this thing. Father will never forgive me for running away and staying until this late hour. I really didnt think about anything, though. It did seem so important to bring home the things. I cant bear to think that to-morrow night and the next night and the next, Tommy and his mother will be here, worrying and cold and hungry.

She served each of the children a steaming dish of oatmeal, floating in milk, and was surprised to find how hungry she was herself. She looked critically at the messy table, the cracked bowls, and tin spoons, and democratic as she knew herself to be, she couldnt simply couldnt eat on that kitchen-bedroom-living-room table.

The creaking of the steps and a heavy footfall pausing before the door, caused a moments hush. A knock on the portal and Tommy flew to open it. On the threshold stood Major Dale, very soldierly and dignified, and he stared into the room through the dim light until he discovered Dorothy. She ran to him and threw her arms about his neck before he could utter a word.

Dear daddy! she murmured, so glad to see one of her own people, and she realized in that instant a sense of comfort and ease to know she was well cared for, and had a dear, old dignified father.

I forgot, she said, repentantly, I should have been home hours ago, I know, but you must hear the whole story, before you scold me.

For Major Dale to ever scold Dorothy was among the impossible things, and to have scolded her in this instance, the furthest thing from his mind.

The children stood about gazing at Major Dale in awed silence.

There are so many, father, said Dorothy, to have to live in these close quarters. If they could just be transported to a farm, or some place out in the open!

Perhaps they could be, answered Major Dale, but first, I must take you home. Well discuss the future of Tommy and his family, after you are safely back with Aunt Winnie.

Couldnt James be placed somewhere in the country? I want to know now, before I leave them, perhaps never to see them again, pleaded Dorothy to her father. Say that you know some place for James to work that will take the family away from this awful city.

Well see, daughter, said the major kindly. I guess there is some place for him and the little ones.

Hes so willin to work for us, explained the mother, and wed love to be in the country. We both grew up in a country town, and Ill go back to-morrow morning. Its nothin but struggling here from one years end to the other, and we grow poorer each year.

Many a hard days work Ive done on the farm, said the six-feet-four-husband, and Im good for many more. Ill work at anything thats steady, and thatll help me keep a roof over the family.

Im so glad to hear you say so! cried Dorothy, in delight. Im sure we will find some work in the country for you, and before many weeks you can leave this place, and find happiness in a busy, country life.

On the trip uptown, Dorothy asked about the family at home, feeling very much as though she had been away on a long trip and anxious to see them all once again.

We began to grow worried about an hour before the telephone message came, her father said, Aunt Winnie had callers, and the arrangements were to have them all for dinner and we, of course, waited dinner for Dorothy. He smiled at his daughter fondly. When you did not appear, the anxiety became intense, and the callers are still at the apartment anxiously awaiting the return of the wanderer.

Who are the callers, queried Dorothy; do I know them?

No, just Aunt Winnies friends, but they are waiting to meet you, said Major Dale.

Wont I be glad to get home! exclaimed Dorothy, clinging to her fathers arm as they left the subway.

Daughter, said Major Dale, sternly, have you really forgotten?

Forgotten what, father? asked Dorothy in surprise.

Forgotten the dinner and dance that is to be given in your honor this evening? Major Dale could just suppress a smile as he tried to ask the question with great severity.

Oh, my dear! cried Dorothy, I forgot it completely!

Well, he said, youll be late for the dinner, but they are waiting for you to start the dance.

You see, father, exclaimed Dorothy, desperately, I am not a girl for society! To think I could have forgotten the most important event of our whole holiday! But tell me now, daddy, dont you think big James and his family would do nicely for old Mr. Hills Summer home they could care for it in the Winter, and take charge of the farm in the Summer?

That is just what I thought, but said nothing, because I did not care to raise false hopes in the breast of such a pathetic little woman as Tommys mother.

Then, before I join the dancers, I can rest easily in my thoughts, that you will take care of Tommys future, daddy? Dorothy asked.

My daughter can join the party, and cease thinking of little Tommy and the others, because Ill take entire charge of them just as soon as we return to North Birchland.

I knew it, dear, said Dorothy, as they entered the apartment, and she hugged her father closely. Youd rather be down on Rivington Street at this moment, seeing the other side of the world, just as I would; wouldnt you, father?

But her father just pinched her pink cheeks and told her to run along and be a giddy, charming debutante.

CHAPTER XXV
THE LOVING CUP

Hurry, hurry! cried Tavia, hugging Dorothy. You awful girl! Ive been doing everything under the skies to help Aunt Winnie get through the dinner, but I absolutely refuse to carry along the dance! How could you place us all in such a predicament, you angel of mercy! And to leave me to manage those boys in their evening dress! Theyre too funny for words! Nat positively looks weird in his; he insists on pulling down the tails, hes afraid they dont hang gracefully! And Ned is as stiff and awkward as a small boy at his first party!

And Bob? asked Dorothy, as she arranged a band of gold around her hair.

Well, said Tavia meditatively, there might be a more uncomfortable-looking person than Bob is at this moment, but I never hope to see one. Dorothy, I simply cant look his way! Hes pathetic, hes all hands, and hes trying to hide the fact, and you never saw anyone having so much trouble! In short, Ive been scrupulously evading those very much dressed-up youths. Theyve been depending entirely on me to push them forward; just at present, with other awkward youths, they are holding up the fireplace in the little side room, casting fugitive glances toward the drawing room, where were having the dance! Tavia laughed and pranced about as she talked.

Why will our boys always act so silly in the evening? I really believe if dances were given in the morning, directly after breakfast, the girls would be dull and listless and the men enchanting, said Dorothy with a laugh, as she stood forth, resplendent in her evening gown of pale blue, ready to make a tardy appearance.

The late arrival of the girl whom all these guests were invited to meet, caused a stir of merriment, which Dorothy met with a certain charm and grace, that was her direct inheritance from Aunt Winnie.

The boys emerged from the side room and looked around the dancing room, sheepishly. Now, in North Birchland and in Dalton, Ned and Nat enjoyed a dance, or a party, even if they did show a decided tendency to hide behind Dorothy and Aunt Winnie. But here in New York they were not gallant enough to hide their misery, and the comfortable back of Aunt Winnie was not at all at their disposal, and Tavias back they had given up some hours since as hopeless, which left Dorothy as the last thin straw! And Dorothy was too much of a wisp of straw to hide such broad shoulders as Bobs and Neds and entirely too short to hide tall Nat! So they clung together in a corner until Tavia separated them, giving each young man a charming girl to pilot over the slippery floor through the maze of a two-step.

Tavia was bubbling over with mirth. All this was as much to her liking the lovely gowns and the laughter, the easy wit and light chatter.

Did you notice that big suit-case in the hall? whispered Tavia, mysteriously to Dorothy.

Yes, indeed, replied Dorothy. Are some of these people staying over the week-end?

Sh-h-h! warned Tavia, leading Dorothy to a secluded corner behind a tall palm, Im really afraid to say it out loud!

This isnt a dark mystery, I hope. Tavia, Im weary of sudden surprises tell me at once, demanded Dorothy, laughing at Tavias very dramatic manner of being securely hidden from view.

With one slender finger, Tavia pointed between the leaves of the palm to the dancing floor.

Do you see that very picturesque creature in green? she whispered.

Yes, said Dorothy breathlessly.

Well, said Tavia relaxing, thats her suit-case.

Who is she? asked Dorothy, and why bring her bag here?

Shes a society girl, replied Tavia, peering out between the palm leaves, and she arrived at four oclock this afternoon with a maid and a suit-case.

Auntie said nothing about week-end guests, said Dorothy.

Of course she didnt, and this isnt a week-end guest, this is a society girl! She couldnt play cards at four, and have dinner at seven, and a dance at eight-thirty, without a suit-case and a maid; could she? How unreasonable you are, Dorothy, exclaimed Tavia, with scorn.

Did she wear something different for each occasion? whispered Dorothy.

Yes, replied Tavia. Dorothy, doesnt it make you dizzy to think of keeping up an appearance in that way packing ones suit-case every morning to attend an evening function!

And she doesnt seem to be having an awfully good time either, commented Dorothy.

Everyone is afraid of her shes too wonderful! laughed Tavia.

How perfectly ridiculous! murmured Dorothy, thinking at that moment of Tommys mother, dressed in a faded, worn wrapper every hour of each day throughout all the months of the year.

And that isnt all, declared Tavia. See that perfectly honest-looking person in purple?

Very broad and stout and homely? asked Dorothy.

Yes. Well, she appropriated one of our cups!

Youre just making these things up! declared Dorothy, rising to leave the secluded corner.

Really Im not, said Tavia earnestly, the purple person took a cup!

But why should she do so? Dorothy asked, not quite believing such a thing possible.

Thats what we dont know, but Aunt Winnie says its possibly just a fad, or a hobby, and not to notice it but, Im going to find out.

There is so much that is not real, perhaps her royal purple velvet gown is no clue to her wealth, said Dorothy.

No, I dont think her dress is. Ive decided that she needs the cup for breakfast to-morrow morning. Anyhow, her maid is in the small bedroom, that were using for the wraps, and we must question her, declared Tavia.

Its too perfectly horrid to even think such a thing of one of our guests. We must forget the matter, Dorothy said rather sternly.

And you who are so anxious to help the poor and needy, forget your own home! said Tavia reproachfully. Suppose that poor lady has no cup for her coffee? Wont it be an act of human kindness to ascertain that?

Well, I dont understand why it should happen, said Dorothy, perplexed, but I feel, Tavia, that you are not in earnest.

Coming out from behind the palm, the girls were just in time to catch a glimpse of Nat, bowing and sliding gracefully away from his partner. Ned had successfully gotten over the slippery floor and stood aimlessly staring into space; and his aimless stare touched Dorothy more than his tears would have done. Bob met Tavia in the slipperiest part of the floor and Tavia, for once in her acquaintance with Bob, did not feel disdainful of his masterly physical strength, for Bob couldnt manage to cross a waxed floor with as much dexterity as could Tavia and actually touched her elbow for assistance in guiding him wall-ward.

How much longer does this gaiety continue? asked Bob.

I fear youre a sad failure, Bob, cried Tavia, as she led him through the hall to the small room at the end of the hall. You cant dance, and you wont sing, and youre perfectly miserable dressed in civilized, evening clothes. Youre just hopeless, Im afraid, Tavia sighed.

Their sudden entrance into the cloakroom surprised the various maids who were yawning and sleepy-eyed. The French maid was the only one who seemed alert, and she was bending attentively over something, with her back toward the others. Tavia whispered to Bob:

Saunter carelessly past that maid, and tell me what shes doing, Tavia meanwhile diligently looking through a pile of furs and wraps.

She seems to be fingering a cup, reported Bob, as he looked at Tavia, questioningly.

Walk past her again and find out more, commanded Tavia. To herself she murmured: Men are so slow, Id know in an instant what shes doing with that cup, were it possible for me to peer about; which it isnt.

Havent an idea what shes doing, reported Bob again, shes just holding the cup in her hand.

Nonsense, declared Tavia, she must be doing something. Go right straight back and stand around until you find out. I cant pull these furs and wraps about much longer, theyre too heavy!

When Bob returned again he whispered to Tavia, and Tavias straight eyebrows flew up toward her hair with a decidedly Ah! I told you! expression.

She rushed to Aunt Winnie and informed her.

You know, explained Aunt Winnie, the cup is the one Miss Mingles sister painted and sent to Dorothy the other day. It was such an odd, exquisite pattern I valued it above all my antiques and my pottery!

Well, thats just whats she doing, declared Tavia, shes copying the pattern or borrowing it.

It must indeed be unique when one of our guests is driven to such extremes to get a copy of it, said Aunt Winnie.

The dancers were becoming weary, even the lights and decorations began to show signs of wishing to go out, and most of the guests had bidden the hostesses adieu when the stout person in royal purple calmly approached Aunt Winnie and Dorothy, holding a cup in her hand:

Youll pardon the impudence of my maid, I know, she has a mania for peculiar patterns on china, and she copied one on this cup. You dont mind at all? she asked sweetly.

It was painted for my niece by a very feeble lady, explained Mrs. White. We value it highly.

You should value it highly, purred the stout person. So far as I know there are only three cups of that pattern in the world to-day. One is in an English museum, and the other two have been lost. Those two cups would be worth a fortune to the holder, the collectors would pay almost any price for them. She was plainly an enthusiast on the subject of old china. But your cup is not original, it is merely a copy, but we knew it instantly. Youll forgive me, wont you? she asked, sweetly.

Miss Mingles sister is the owner of the other two cups, Auntie, gasped Dorothy, as the stout person in purple departed. Mrs. Berghams husband was an artist and collector, and he left Mrs. Bergham all his pictures and art treasures. I just raved with delight over those two cups, the day we called, and she very amiably sent me an exact duplicate.

Then there may be a fortune awaiting little Miss Mingle, exclaimed Tavia. I thought her home was terribly crowded with artistic-looking objects and unusual adornments for folk in moderate circumstances.

Doubtlessly, the sentimental nature of Mrs. Bergham would not entertain such an idea as disposing of her treasures for mere lucre, said Mrs. White, laughingly.

Perhaps they do not know their value, reasoned Dorothy, as the guests prepared to leave.

Well find out more from the stout person, and bring an art collector to call upon Mrs. Bergham, and thus give those two struggling women some chance to enjoy a little comfort, said Major Dale.

CHAPTER XXVI
A NEW COLLECTOR

My poor, dear husband, sighed Mrs. Bergham, he told me to never part with those two cups, in fact, never to sell anything of his unless I could get his catalogue price. But it was a hard struggle, and I did love everything so much, that well, I simply did not bother about selling.

I can hardly believe those old cups can be so valuable, Miss Mingle exclaimed, as she handled them.

Well, said Dorothy, as she and Mrs. White and Tavia prepared to leave after their short call, we will have a collector call to place a value on all your antiques, if you wish. Of course, it will be hard to part with them, but when the financial end is considered

My dear, said Mrs. Bergham, with more animation than she had yet shown, you dont know what it will mean to us to have enough money to go round! And to have my little boys with me again, and sister relieved of the awful strain!

Wasnt it lovely for the stout guest in purple to kindly borrow the cup! exclaimed Tavia.

And for you to follow up the clue, said Mrs. White, when Dorothy and I were too embarrassed to know what to do!

Oh, by the way, continued Mrs. White, about an agent for this house, I thought dont be offended dear Mrs. Bergham but I thought you might like to take charge of this property, with plenty of assistants of course, and to have your commission, the same as paying a real estate agent. Dont say you wont help me! I really need someone right on the premises.

Certainly, promptly replied Miss Mingle, sister could take care of it. You see, sister has lost all confidence in herself and her ability we have had such troublous times for five years past!

This matter was even more serious than I dared say, exclaimed Mrs. White, referring to the apartment-house trouble. You know the house originally belonged to my husbands ancestors, it was one of the old Dutch mansions here in New York, and as the years passed, it was remodeled several times, finally coming to me, with the proviso that it be again remodeled into a good paying apartment house, as an investment for the boys when they are of age. The income, as you know, has barely kept the expenses covered, and I began to fear that my boys would come of age without the money they should have.

I did not know that, exclaimed Dorothy. So we really saved Nat and Ned from financial disasters; didnt we?

Well, we dont know yet, whether we will ever receive the money Mr. Akerson took, said Mrs. White, gravely. But we will know just as soon as we return home. At any rate, a future is assured the boys, now that we have taken the collecting away from Mr. Akerson.

Arriving home, the girls found Major Dale and the boys anxiously waiting for them.

Well, were safe at last, cried Ned, thanks to the courageous efforts of two little girls!

We bow before two small thoughtful heads, said Major Dale, with a laugh, while we men were trying to think out a way, the girls rushed ahead and beat us!

So its settled? said Aunt Winnie, anxiously.

Every penny, exclaimed Major Dale.

When we are of age, declared Ned, the girls shall have all their hearts desire; eh, Nat?

Yes, because without Dorothys and Tavias courage and thoughtfulness and quick wits, we boys would have had little to begin life with, in all probability.

And girls, said Aunt Winnie, the sweetest memories of your trip to New York City will be that you not only had a lovely good time, but helped wherever you saw that help was needed.

So that, cried Major Dale, Dorothy in the city was as happy as everywhere else!





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