Margaret Penrose.

Dorothy Dale in the City





Dont strangle Dorothy, objected Nat.

You always make me so happy, Doro, said Tavia, releasing her chum, who looked happier even than Tavia, her fair face flushed. The hugging Tavia had given had loosened Dorothys stray wisps of golden hair, that fell about her eyes and ears in a most bewitching way.

Girls, called Aunt Winnie, from below stairs, arent you nearly finished?

All finished but Nats part, answered Dorothy. Then to Nat she said: Now, cousin, sit hard on this trunk, and perhaps well be able to close it.

Nat solemnly perched on the lid of the trunk, but it would not close.

Something will have to come out, he declared.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in my trunk that I can leave behind, said Dorothy.

My trunk closed very easily, said Tavia, Ill get it up from the station and well pack the surplus gowns in it, she turned triumphantly to Dorothy. Too bad I sent it on so early. But we can get it.

The very thing! Dorothy laughed. Run, Nat, and fetch Tavias trunk from the station.

Dorothy, called Aunt Winnie again, we only have a few hours before train time. Your trunk should be ready for the expressman now, dear.

Hurry, Nat, begged Dorothy, you must get Tavias trunk here in two minutes. Coming, she called down to Aunt Winnie, as she and Tavia rushed down the stairs.

The trunk wont close because the gowns wont fit, dramatically cried Tavia.

So the boys have gone for Tavias, and well pack things in it, hurriedly explained Dorothy.

What is all this about gowns? asked Major Dale, drawing Dorothy to the arm of the great chair in which he was sitting.

Im packing, father, were going to leave you for a while, said Dorothy, nestling close to his broad shoulders.

But not for very long, Aunt Winnie said. You and the boys must arrange so that you can follow in at least one week.

Well, it all depends on my rheumatism, answered the major. You wont want an old limpy soldier trying to keep pace with you in New York City. Mrs. Martin, the tried and true, will take fine care of us while you are gone.

No, that wont do, declared Dorothy, we know how well cared for you will be under Mrs. Martins wing, but we want you with us. In fact, she glanced hastily at Aunt Winnie, we may even need you.

Perhaps the best way, said Aunt Winnie, thoughtfully, would be to send you a telegram when to come, and by that time, you will no doubt be all over this attack of rheumatism.

Ned and Nat are as anxious as are you girlies to get there, replied Major Dale, so Ill make a good fight to arrive in New York City.

Who is going to tell me stories at bed-time, when Dorothys gone? asked little Roger. I dont want Doro to go away, cause shes the best sister that any feller ever had.

Roger was leaning against the Majors knee, and Dorothy drew him close to her.

Sister will have to send you a story in a letter every day.

How will that do? she asked, as she pressed her cheek against his soft hair.

Aw, no, pouted Roger, tell them all to me now, before you go away.

Ill tell you one and then father will tell one; father will tell one about the soldier boys, murmured Dorothy in Rogers ear.

Oh, goody, Roger clapped his hands; and Aunt Winnie and Tavia and Ned and Nat and everybody can tell me one story to-night and that will fill up for all the nights while you are away!

Dorothy! screamed Tavia, bursting into the room in wild excitement, the boys have gone without my trunk check! They cant get it!

And the gowns will have to be left behind!

Never! laughed Tavia, Ill run all the way to the station and catch them!

Theyve taken the Fire Bird, maybe youll meet them coming back.

Tavia dashed, hatless, from the house. They watched her as she fairly flew along the road, in a short walking skirt, heavy sweater pulled high around her throat, and her red hair gleaming in the sun.

Major Dale had always greatly admired Tavia; he liked her fearless honesty and the sincerity of her affections. Aunt Winnie, too, loved her almost as much as she loved Dorothy.

Ive wondered so much, said Dorothy, what trouble Miss Mingle is in. She left school so suddenly that last day, and Cologne was so provoking in her letter.

An illness, probably, said Aunt Winnie, kindly.

It cant be anything so commonplace as illness, said Dorothy. Cologne would have gone into details about illness. The telegram, and her departure, were almost tragic in their suddenness. I feel so selfish when I think of our treatment of that meek little woman. No one ever was interested in her, that I remember. Her great fault was a too-meek spirit. She literally erased herself and her name from the minds of everyone.

Major Dale and Aunt Winnie listened without much enthusiasm. Aunt Winnie was worried about Dorothy, who showed so little inclination to enter the whirl of society in North Birchland. She had looked forward with much pleasure to presenting her niece to her social world.

But Dorothy had little love for the society life of North Birchland. She loved her cousins and her small brothers, and seemed perfectly happy and contented in her home life, and attending to the small charities connected with the town. She seemed to prefer a hospital to a house party, a romp with the boys to a fashionable dance, and she bubbled with glee in the company of Tavia, ignoring the girls of the first families in her neighborhood.

Your trip to New York, daughter, began Major Dale, slily smiling at Aunt Winnie, will be your debut, so to speak, in the world.

Dorothy answered nothing, but continued to smooth away the hair from Rogers brow.

What are you thinking of? her father asked musingly, not having received an answer to his first remark.

Oh, nothing in particular, sighed Dorothy, except that I dont see why I should make a debut anywhere. I dont want to meet the world, that is, socially. I want to know people for themselves, not for what theyre worth financially or because of the entertaining they do. I just like to know people and poorer people best of all. They are interesting and real.

As are persons of wealth and social position, answered Aunt Winnie, gently.

Im going to be a soldier, like father, said Joe, and Dorothy can nurse me when I fall in battle.

Me, too, chirped little Roger, I want to be a soldier and limp like father!

Oh, boys! cried Dorothy, in horror, youll never, never be trained for war.

Whats that? asked Major Dale. Dont you want the boys to receive honor and glory in the army?

No, said Dorothy decidedly, Ill never permit it. Of course, she hastened to add, if Joe must wear a uniform, he might go to a military school, if that will please him.

The major scoffed at the idea. Joe straightened his shoulders, and marched about the room, little Roger following in his wake, while the major whistled Yankee Doodle.

The sound of the Fire Bird was heard coming up the driveway, and in another second Nat, Ned and Ted rushed into the room.

We cant have the trunk without the check, explained Nat, breathlessly, where is it?

Tavia discovered the check after you left, and she followed you down to the station, explained Aunt Winnie.

We took a short cut back and missed her, of course, said Nat, dejectedly.

We wont have any time to spare, declared Aunt Winnie, walking to the window, the train leaves at seven-thirty, and it is after six now, Dorothy followed her to the window. They both stood still in astonishment.

Boys! cried Dorothy, come quick!

The boys scrambled to the window. There was Tavia, coming up the drive, serenely seated on top of her trunk, in the back part of a small buggy, enjoying immensely the wind that brushed her hair wildly about her face, while the driver, the stoutest man in North Birchland, occupied the entire front seat.

I found it, she cried lightly jumping to the ground, and this was the only available rig!

Never mind, said Dorothy, nothing counts but a place to pack the gowns!

And catch the train for New York City, cried Tavia, from the top landing of the first flight of stairs. Everybody hurry! We have just time enough to catch the train!

CHAPTER X
SIXTY MILES AN HOUR

The station at North Birchland was just a brown stone building, and a small platform, surrounded by a garden, like all country town stations. But a more animated crowd of young people had rarely gathered anywhere. Dorothy, Tavia and Aunt Winnie were noticeable among the crowd, their smart travelling suits and happy smiling faces being good to look upon. Ned, who was to accompany his mother, stood guard over the bags, while they were being checked by the station master. Nat, Ted and Bob, who had come to see them off, pranced about, impatient for the train, and altogether they were making such a racket that an elderly lady picked up her bag and shawls, and quickly searched for a quieter part of the station. It was such a long time since the elderly lady had been young and going on a journey, that she completely forgot all about the way it feels, and how necessary it is to laugh and chatter noisily on such occasions.

Nat looked in Tavias direction constantly, and at last succeeded in attracting her attention. He appeared so utterly miserable that instinctively Tavia slipped away from the others, and walked with him toward the end of the station. But this did not make Bob any happier. He devoted himself to Dorothy and Aunt Winnie, casting longing glances at Nat and Tavia. Dorothy was charming in a travelling coat of blue, and a small blue hat and veil gracefully tilted on her bright blond hair, a coquettish quill encircling her hat and peeping over her ear. Tavia was dressed in a brown tailored suit, and a lacy dotted brown veil accentuated the pink in her cheeks and the brightness of her eyes.

A light far down the track told of the approaching train. Joe and Roger were having an argument as to who saw the gleam first and Major Dale had to come to the rescue and be umpire. As the rumble and roar grew nearer, and the light became bigger, the excitement of the little group became intense. With a great, loud roar and hissing, the train stopped and the coach on which they had engaged berths was just in front of them.

The Yellow Flyer, read Joe, carefully, is that where you will sleep? he asked, looking in wonder at the car.

Yes, indeed, Joey, said Dorothy, kissing him good-bye, in cunning little beds, hanging from the sides of the coach.

Dorothy held out her hand to Bob. Good-bye, she said. Tavia, just behind Dorothy, glancing quickly up at Bob, blushed as she placed her slim hand in his large brown one.

Youre coming to New York, too, with the boys? she asked, demurely.

Bob held her hand in his strong grip and it hurt her, as he said very stiffly: I dont know that I shall. With a toss of her head, Tavia started up the steps of the coach, but Bob following, still held her hand tightly, and she stopped. All the others were on the train. She looked straight into his eyes and said: Were going to have no end of fun, you know. Bob released her hand. Standing in the vestibule, Tavia turned once more: Please come, she called to him, then rushed into the train and joined the others.

When the cars pulled out, the last thing Tavia saw was Bobs uncovered head and Nats waving handkerchief, and she smiled at both very sweetly. Then they waved their handkerchiefs until darkness swallowed up the little station.

The girls looked about them. A sleeping car! Tavia thrilled with pleasant anticipation. It was all so very luxurious! Aunt Winnie almost immediately discovered an old acquaintance sitting directly opposite. The lady, very foreign in manner and attire, held a tiny white basket under her huge sable muff. She gushed prettily at the unexpected pleasure of having Aunt Winnie for a travelling companion. Tavia thought she must be the most beautiful lady in all the world, and both she and Dorothy found it most disconcerting to be ushered into a sleeping car filled with staring people, and be introduced to so lovely a creature as Aunt Winnies friend. The beautiful lady whispered mysteriously to Aunt Winnie, and pointed to the hidden basket and instantly a saucy growl came from it.

A dog, gasped Dorothy, why, they dont permit dogs on a Pullman!

Lets get a peep at him, said Tavia, the little darling, to go travelling just like real people!

Immediately following the growl, the lady and Aunt Winnie sat in dignified silence, and stared blankly at the entire car.

Theyre making believe, whispered Tavia, pretending there isnt any dog, and that no one heard a growl!

Im simply dying to see the little fellow! said Dorothy, unaware that the future held an opportunity to see the dog that now reposed in the basket.

Well, Dorothy, said Tavia, according to the looks across the aisle there aint no dog, Tavia loved an expressive phrase, regardless of grammatical rules.

Did Ned get on? suddenly asked Dorothy. I dont see him.

Hes on, answered Tavia, disdainfully, in the smoker. Didnt you hear him beg our permission?

After an hour had passed Aunt Winnie came toward them and said:

Dont you think it best to retire now, girls? You have a strenuous week before you.

Dorothy and Tavia readily agreed, as neither had found much to keep them awake. Many of the passengers had already retired, some of them immediately after the last stop was made. Tavia could not remain quiet, and happy too, where there was no excitement. She preferred to sleep peacefully and strangely, the Pullman sleeper offered no fun even to an inventive mind like Tavias.

Ned might have stayed with us, sighed Dorothy. Boys are so selfish.

Wouldnt you like to go into the smoker too? suggested Tavia.

What! Tavia Travers, youre simply too awful! cried Dorothy.

Oh, just to keep awake. After all, I find I have a yearning to stay up. All in favor of the smoker say Aye. And a lone Aye came from Tavia.

Besides, said Dorothy, the porter wouldnt permit it.

Unless we carried something in our hands that looked like a pipe, mused Tavia.

We might take Ned some matches, rejoined Dorothy, seeing that the subject offered a little variety.

When the porter takes down our berths, well quietly suggest it, and see how it takes, said Tavia. Along with feeling like storming the smoker, Im simply dying for a weeny bit of ice-cream.

Tavia, said Dorothy, trying to speak severely, I think you must be having a nightmare, such unreasonable desires!

So, yawned Tavia, Ill have to go to bed hungry, I suppose.

Do you really want ice-cream as badly as that?

I never yearned so much for anything.

Dorothy was rather yearning for ice-cream herself, since it had been suggested, but she knew it was an utter impossibility. The dining car was closed, and how to secure it, Dorothy could not think. However, she called the porter, and, while he was taking down their berths, she and Tavia went over to say good-night to Aunt Winnie and her friend.

Ill try not to awaken you, girls, when I retire, said Aunt Winnie. Neds berth, by a strange coincidence, is the upper one in Mrs. Sandersons section. Years ago, Mrs. Sanderson and myself occupied the same section in a Pullman for an entire week, and it was the beginning of a delightful friendship.

Mrs. Sanderson told the girls about her present trip, but Tavia was so hungry for the ice-cream, and Dorothy so busy trying to devise some means to procure it, that they missed a very interesting story from the beautiful lady.

Then, returning to their berths, Tavia climbed the ladder, and everything was quiet.

Dorothy, she whispered, her head dangling over the side of the berth, peep out and find the porter. I must have ice-cream.

Why, Tavia? asked Dorothy.

Just because, answered Tavia in the most positive way.

Dorothy and Tavia both looked out from behind their curtains. Every other one was drawn tightly, save two, for Aunt Winnie and her friend and Ned, who had come back, were the only passengers still out of their berths. Ned winked at the girls when their heads appeared.

Holding up a warning finger at Ned, who faced them, the girls stole out of their section and crept silently toward the porter. In hurried whispers they consulted him, but the porter stood firm and unyielding. They could not be served with anything after the dining car closed.

So they then descended to coaxing. Just one girl pleading for ice-cream might have been resisted, but when two sleep-eyed young creatures, begged so pitifully to be served with it at once, the porter threw up his hands and said:

Ahll see if it can be got, but Ah aint got no right fo to git it tho!

Soon he reappeared with two plates of ice-cream. Tavia took one plate in both hands hungrily, and Dorothy took the other. When they looked at Aunt Winnies back, Ned stared, but Aunt Winnie was too deeply interested in her old friend to care what Ned was staring at.

Duck! cautioned Tavia, who was ahead of Dorothy, as she saw Aunt Winnie suddenly turn her head. They slipped into the folds of a nearby curtain, but sprang instantly back into the centre of the aisle. Snoring, deep and musical, sounded directly into their ears from behind the curtain, and even Tavias love of adventure quailed at the awful nearness of the sound. One little lurch and they would have landed in the arms of the snoring one!

Just to make the ice-cream taste better, Aunt Winnie again turned partly. Dorothy and Tavia stood still, unable to decide whether it was wise to retreat or advance, Ned solved it for them by rising and waiting for the girls. Aunt Winnie, of course, turned all the way around and discovered the two girls hugging each other, in silent mirth.

Tavia would have cream, explained Dorothy.

But it would have tasted so much better had we eaten it without being found out, said Tavia, woefully.

Just look at this, said Ned, and maybe the flavor of the cream will be good enough, and he handed the girls a check marked in neat, small print, which the porter had handed him: Two plates of ice-cream, at 75 cents each, $1.50.

How outrageous! cried Dorothy.

Well return it immediately, said Tavia, indignantly.

I paid it, explained Ned, drily. You wanted something outside of meal hours, and you might have expected to have the price raised.

At that cost each spoonful will taste abominable, moaned Tavia.

Said Dorothy sagely: It wont taste at all if we dont eat it instantly. Its all but melted now.

Yes, pray eat it, said the gruff voice of a man behind closed curtains, so the rest of us can get to sleep.

Another voice, with a faint suggestion of stifling laughter, said: Im in no hurry to sleep, understand; still I engaged the berth for that purpose

But Dorothy and Tavia had fled, and heard no more comments. Aunt Winnie followed.

How ridiculous to want ice-cream at such an hour, and in such a place! she said.

Old melted stuff, complained Tavia, it tastes like the nearest thing to nothing Ive ever attempted to eat!

And, Auntie, giggled Dorothy, we paid seventy-five cents per plate! Im drinking mine; its nothing but milk!

Soon the soft breathing of Aunt Winnie denoted the fact that she had slipped silently into the land of dreams. Dorothy, too, was asleep, and Tavia alone remained wide-awake, listening to the noise of the cars as the train sped over the country. Tavia sighed. She had so much to be thankful for, she was so much happier than she deserved to be, she thought. One fact stood out clearly in her mind. Sometime, somehow, she would show Dorothy how deeply she loved and admired her, above everyone else in the world. After all, a sincere, unselfish love is the best one can give in return for unselfish kindness.

The next thing Tavia knew, although it seemed as if she had only just finished thinking how much she loved Dorothy, a tiny streak of sunlight shone across her face. She sat bolt upright, confused and mystified, in her narrow bed so near the roof. The sleepy mist left her eyes, and with a bound she landed on the edge of her berth, her feet dangling down over the side of it. The train was not moving, and peeping out of the ventilator, she saw that they were in a station, and an endless row of other trains met her gaze.

Good morning! she sang out to Dorothy, but the only answer was the echo of her own voice. Some few seconds passed, and Tavia was musing on what hour of the morning it might be, when a perfectly modulated voice said: Anything yo-all wants, Miss?

Gracious, no! Oh, yes I do. What time is it? she asked.

Near on to seven oclock, said the porter.

Thank you, demurely answered Tavia, and started to dress. All went well until she climbed down the ladder for her shoes and picked up a beautifully-polished, but enormous number eleven! She looked again, Aunt Winnies very French heeled kid shoes and Dorothys stout walking boots and one of her own shoes were there, but her right shoe was gone!





: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14