Margaret Penrose.

Dorothy Dale in the City





She held up the number eleven boot and contemplated it severely. To be sure both her feet would have fitted snugly into the one big shoe, but that wasnt the way Tavia had intended making her debut in New York City. She looked down the aisle and saw shoes peeping from under every curtain, and some stood boldly in the aisle. The porter at the end of the car dozed again, and Tavia, the number eleven in hand, started on a still hunt for her own shoe.

She passed several pairs of shoes, but none were hers. At the end of the car, she jumped joyfully on a pair, only to lay them down in disappointment. They were exactly like hers, but her feet had developed somewhat since her baby days, whereas the owner of these shoes still retained her baby feet, little tiny number one shoes! On she went, bending low over each pair. At last! Tavia dropped the shoe she was carrying beside its mate! At least that was some relief, she would not now have to face the owner in her shoeless condition and return to his outstretched hand his number eleven.

Tavia thought anyone with such a foot would naturally feel embarrassed to be found out. Now for her own. She stooped cautiously, deeply interested in her mission, under the curtain and a heavy hand was laid on her shoulder. She looked up in dazed astonishment into the dark face of the porter. Mercy! did he think she was trying to enter the berth? She realized, instantly, how suspicious her actions must have appeared.

Please find my shoe! she commanded, haughtily, it is not in my berth.

The porter released her. Yo done leave em fo me to be polished? he inquired, respectfully.

No, indeed, replied Tavia, trying to maintain her haughty air, it has simply disappeared, and I must have two shoes, you know.

O course, solemnly answered the porter.

Tavia, called Dorothys voice, what is the trouble?

Nothing at all, calmly answered Tavia, Ive lost a shoe; a mere nothing, dear.

One by one the curtains moved, indicating persons of bulk on the other side, trying to dress within the narrow limits, and the murmur of voices rose higher. Shoes were drawn within the curtains and soon there were none left, and Tavia stood in dismay. Aunt Winnie, Dorothy and Ned and lovely Mrs. Sanderson joined Tavia, others stood attentively and sympathetically looking on while they searched all over the car, dodging under seats, pulling out suit-cases and poking into the most impossible places, in an endeavor to locate Tavias lost shoe.

A sharp, sudden bark and Mrs. Sanderson returned in confusion to her section and smothered the protests of her dog. She called Ned to help her put him into his little white basket, at which doggie loudly rebelled. He had had his freedom for an entire night, running up and down the aisle, playing with the good-natured porter.

Doggie played hide-and-seek under the berths and dragged various peculiar-looking black things back and forth in his playful scampering and he did not intend to return to any silk-lined basket after such a wild night of fun! So he barked again, saucy, snappy barks, then he growled fiercely at everyone who came near him.

In fact, one of the peculiar-looking black things at that very moment was lying in wait for him, expecting him back to play with it, and just as soon as he could dodge his mistress, doggie expected to rejoin it, reposing in a dark corner of the car. At last he saw his opportunity, and with a mad dash, the terrier ran down the aisle, determination marking every feature, as pretty Mrs. Sanderson started after him, and Ned followed. Tavia sat disconsolately in her seat, wondering what anyone, even the most resourceful, could do with but one shoe!

A sudden howl of mirth from Ned, and an amused, light laugh from Mrs. Sanderson, and, back they came, Ned gingerly holding the little terrier and Mrs. Sanderson triumphantly holding forth Tavias shoe. By this time every passenger had left the car, and the cleaning corps stood waiting for Aunt Winnies party to vacate the vehicle.

Tavia put on the shoe, but first she shook the terrier and scolded him. He barked and danced up and down, as though he were the hero of the hour.

We must get out of here, double-quick, said Ned.

Oh, dear me! exclaimed Dorothy, where is everything! I never can grab my belongings together in time to get off a train.

Im not half dressed, chirped Tavia, cheerfully, and they will simply have to stand there with the mops and brooms, until Im ready.

Aunt Winnie sat patiently waiting. Do you want to go uptown in the subway or the bus, she asked.

Both! promptly answered the young people.

CHAPTER XI
A HOLD-ON IN NEW YORK

My! Isnt it hard to hang on! breathed Tavia, clinging to Dorothy, as the subway train swung rapidly around the curves. As usual the morning express was crowded to overflowing, and the overflowers were squeezed tightly together on the platforms. Ned held Aunt Winnie by the arm and looked daggers at the complacent New Yorkers who sat behind the morning papers, unable to see any persons who might want their seats.

Such unbearable air! It always makes me faint, said Aunt Winnie, weakly.

Lets get out as quickly as possible, said Dorothy, the top of a bus for mine!

So this is a subway train, exclaimed Tavia, as she was lurched with much force against an athletic youth, who simply braced himself on his feet, and saved Tavia from falling.

The agony will be over in a second, exclaimed Ned, as the guard yelled in a most bewildering way, next stop umphgetoughly! and another in the middle of the train, screamed in a perfectly unintelligent manner, next stop fothburgedinskt!

What did he say? said Tavia, wonderingly.

He must have said Forty-second Street, said Aunt Winnie, that I know is the next stop.

I would have to ride on indefinitely, said Tavia, I could never understand such eloquence.

There, said Dorothy, readjusting herself, I expected to be hurled into someones lap sooner or later, but I didnt expect it so soon.

You surely landed in his lap, laughed Tavia, see how hes blushing. Why dont you hang onto Ned, as we are doing.

Poor Ned, said Dorothy, but she, too, grasped a portion of his arm, and like grim death the three women clung to Ned for protection against the merciless swaying of the subway train.

Reaching Forty-second Street, up the steps they dashed with the rest of the madly rushing crowd of people and out into the open street. Tavia tried to keep her mouth closed, because all the cartoons she had ever seen of a country persons first glimpse of New York pictured them open-mouthed, and staring. She clung to Dorothy and Dorothy hung on Aunt Winnie, who had Neds arm in a firm grip.

Such crowds of human beings! Neither Dorothy nor Tavia had ever before seen so many people at one glance! So many people were not in Dalton in an entire year.

This isnt anything, said Ned, out of his superior knowledge of a previous trip to New York. This is only a handful the business crowd.

Oh, lets stay in front of the Grand Central Terminal, said Dorothy, I want to finish counting the taxicabs, I was only up to thirty.

I only had time to count five stories in that big hotel building, cried Tavia, and I want to count em right up into the clouds.

Theyre not tall buildings, said Ned, just bursting with information. Wait until you see the downtown skyscrapers!

Ned throws cold water on all our little enthusiasms, pouted Dorothy.

Never mind, said Aunt Winnie, you and Tavia can come down town to-morrow and spend the day counting people and things.

Arriving at the corner of Fifth Avenue, and successfully dodging many vehicles, they got safely on the opposite corner just in time to catch a speeding auto bus. Up to the roof they climbed.

Isnt it too delightful! sighed Tavia, blissfully.

Well come down town on a bus every day, declared Dorothy.

They passed all the millionaires palatial residences in blissful ignorance of whom the palaces sheltered. They didnt care which rich man occupied one mansion or another, they were happy enough riding on top of a bus.

Tavia simply gushed when they reached the Drive and a cutting sharp breeze blew across the Hudson river.

I never imagined New York City had anything so lovely as this; I thought it was all tall buildings and smoky atmosphere and lights! declared Tavia.

Along the river all was quiet and luxurious and wonderful. The auto bus stopped before a small apartment house that is, it was small comparatively. The front was entirely latticed glass and white marble. A bell boy rushed forward to relieve them of their bags, another took their wraps and a third respectfully held open the reception hall door. Down this hall, lined on two sides with growing plants, Aunt Winnies party marched in haughty silence. They were afraid to utter an unseemly word. Tavias little chin went up into the air the bell boys were very appalling but they shouldnt know of the visitors suburban origin if Tavia could help it. They were assisted on the elevator by a dignified liveried man, and up into the air they shot, landing, breathless, in a perfectly equipped tiny hall. At home, of course, one would call it a tiny hall, but in a New York apartment house it was spacious and roomy.

Still another person, this time a woman, in spotless white, opened the door and into the door Aunt Winnie disappeared, and the others followed, although they were not at all sure it was the proper thing to do.

Then Tavia gasped. In her loveliest dreams of a home, she had never dreamed of anything as perfectly beautiful as this. Little bowers of pink and white, melted into other little rooms of gold and green and blue, and then a velvety stretch of something, which Tavia afterward discovered was a hall, led them into a kitchenette.

Do people eat here? said the dazed Tavia.

One must eat, be the furnishings ever so luxurious, sang Ned.

Dorothy rushed immediately to the tiny cupboard, and examined the Mother Goose pattern breakfast dishes, while Tavia gazed critically at the numerous mysterious doors leading hither and thither through the apartment.

They gathered together, finally, in the living room, which faced the river. The heavy draperies subdued the strong sunlight.

Mrs. White sighed the happy sigh that betokens rest, as she sank into a Turkish chair. Dorothy and Tavia were not ready to sit down yet there was too much to explore. From their high place, there above the crowds, and seemingly in the clouds, they could see something akin to human beings moving about everywhere, even, it seemed, out along the river drive. For a brief time no one spoke; then Ned proverbially broke the silence.

Well, Mom, he emitted, what is it all about? Did you just come into upholstered storage to have new looking glasses? Or is there a system in this insanity?

Mrs. White smiled indulgently. Ned was beginning to take an interest in things. He must surmise that her trip to New York was not one of mere pleasure.

The girls, unconsciously discreet, had left the room.

My dear son, said the lady, now in a soft robe, just rescued from her suit-case, I am glad to see that you are trying to help me. You know the Court Apartments, the one I hold purposely for you and Nat? He nodded. Well, the agent has been acting queerly. In fact, I have reason to question his honesty. He is constantly refusing to make reports. Says that rents have come down, when everyone else says they have gone up. He also declares some of the tenants are in arrears. Now, if we are to have so much trouble with the investment, we shall have to get rid of it.

The remark was in the note of query. Nat brushed his fingers through his heavy hair.

Well, Mom, he said impressively, we must look it over carefully, but I have always heard that New York real estate men of a certain type observe the certain and remember the type are not always to be trusted. I wouldnt ask better sport than going in for detective work on the half-shell. But say, this is some apartment! I suppose I may have it some evening for a little round-up of my New York friends? You know so many of the fellows seem to blow this way.

Of course you may, Ned. I shall be glad to help you.

Oh, you couldnt possibly do that, mother, he objected. There is only one way to let boys have a good time and that is to let them have it. If one interferes its good-night, and he paused to let the pardonable slang take effect.

Just as you like, of course, said the mother, without the least hint of offence. I know I can depend upon you not to eat the rugs or chairs. They are only hired, you know.

Never cared for that sort of food. In fact I dont even like the feel of some of these, and he rubbed his hand over the side of a plush chair. Nothing like the home stuffs, Mom.

You are not disappointed?

Oh, no, not that. Only trying to remember what home is like. It kind of upsets ones memory to take a trip and get here. I wonder what the girls are up to? You stay here while I inspect.

Mrs. White was not sorry of the respite. She looked out over the broad drive. It was some years since her husband had taken her to a pretty little apartment in this city. The thought was absorbing. But it was splendid that she had two such fine boys. Yes, she must not complain, for both boys were in many ways like their father, upright to the point of peril, daring to the point of personal risk.

The maid, she who had come in advance from North Birchland, stepped in with the soft tread of the professional nurse to close the doors. Something must be going on in the kitchenette. Well, let the children play, thought Mrs. White.

Suddenly she heard something like a shriek! Even then she did not move. If there were danger to any one in the apartment she would soon know it the old reliable adage no news is good news, when someone shrieks.

CHAPTER XII
HUMAN FREIGHT ON THE DUMMY

Tavia almost fell over Ned. Dorothy grasped the door. The maid ruffled up her nice white apron!

They all scrambled into the living room and there was more, for with them, in fact, in Neds strong arms, was a child, a boy with blazing cheeks and defiant eyes.

Look, mother! He came up on the dumb waiter! said Ned, as soon as he could speak.

Yes, and I nearly killed him, blurted Tavia. I thought the place was haunted!

On the dumb waiter? repeated Dorothy.

The maid nodded her head decidedly.

Why! ejaculated Mrs. White, sitting up very straight.

I didnt mean anything, said the boy, reflecting good breeding in choice of language, if not in manner of transportation. I was just coming up to fly kites.

But on the dummy! queried Ned.

Well, we wouldnt dare come up any other way. This apartment was not rented before and we had to sneak in on the janitor. This is the best lobby for kites, and his eyes danced at the thought.

But wheres the kite? questioned Ned.

Talents got it.

Talent? repeated Dorothy.

Yes, hes the other fellow the smartest fellow around. His real name he paused to laugh.

Is what? begged Tavia, coming over to the little fellow, with no hidden show of admiration.

Its too silly, but he didnt choose it, apologized the boy. Its C-l-a-u-d!

Thats a pretty name, interposed Mrs. White, feeling obliged to say something agreeable.

But he cant bear it, declared the boy. My name is worse. Mother brought it from Rome.

Catacombs? suggested Tavia, foolishly.

No, the lad lowered his voice in disgust. But its Raphael.

That was the name of a great painter, said Mrs. White, again feeling how difficult it was to talk to a small and enterprising New York boy.

Maybe, admitted the little one, but I have Raffle from the boys, and thats all right. Means going off all the time.

Everyone laughed. Raffle looked uneasily at the door.

But wheres that kite? questioned Ned.

Talent was waiting until I got up. Then I was to pull him up. He has the kites.

As long as I didnt kill you, Raffle, said Tavia, I guess we wont have to have you arrested for false entering.

Dorothy caught the rope just in time, Ned explained, in answer to his mothers look of inquiry. Tavia was so scared she was going to let it drop.

We had ordered things, Tavia explained further, and thought they were coming up. I was just crazy to have something to do with all the machines in the place, so went to get the things. Imagine me seeing something squirm in the dark!

But you werent afraid, said Raffle to Dorothy. You just hauled me out.

Your coat got torn, Dorothy remarked to divert attention. What will your mother say?

She will never see it, declared the little fellow. She goes to rehearsal all day and sings all night. Tillie shes the girl she likes me. She wont mind mending it, and he bunched together in his small hand the hole in the short coat.

Ill tell you, interposed Ned, they say dark haired people fetch good luck, and you are our first caller. Suppose we get Talent, and bring him up properly, kites and all. Then perhaps, when I get something to eat, you may show me how to fly a kite over the Hudson.

Bully! exclaimed Raffle. Ill get him right away. If John the janitor catches him waiting with the kites

But he was gone with the rest of the sentence.

Ned slapped his knees in glee. Tavia stretched out full length, shoes and all, on the rose-colored divan, Dorothy shook with merry laughter, but Martha, the maid with the ruffled-up apron, turned to the kitchenette to hide her emotion.

New York is certainly a busy place, said Ned, finally. We may get a wireless from home on the clothes line. Tavia, I warn you not to hang handkerchiefs on the roof. Its tabooed, for country girls.

Tavia groaned in disagreement. The fact was she had made her way to the roof before she had explored her own and Dorothys rooms, and even Ned did not relish the idea of her sight-seeing from that dangerous height. But New York was actually fascinating Tavia. She would likely be looking for bulls and bears on Wall Street next, thought Ned.

Aunty, we are going to have the nicest lunch, interrupted Dorothy. We all helped Martha; it was hard to find things, and get the right dishes, you know. I guess the last folks who had this apartment must have had a Chinese cook, for everything is put away backwards.

Yes, the pans were on the top shelves and the cups on the bottom, Tavia agreed. I took to the pans I love to climb on those queer ladders that roll along!

Like silvery moonlight, Ned helped out, only the clouds wont develop.

Wouldnt I give a lot to have had all the boys share this fun, said Dorothy. Then, realizing the looks that followed the word boys, she blushed peach-blow.

A Japanese gong sounded gently in the place called hall.

Theres the lunch bell, declared Dorothy. And isnt that little Aeolian harp on the sitting room door too sweet!

The sitting room is a private room in an apartment, explained Ned, mischievously, and its a great idea to have an alarm clock on the door.

There comes the boy with the kite, Tavia exclaimed. I dont believe I care for lunch.

Oh, yes you do, my dear, objected Mrs. White. There are two boys and we will have to trust them on the balcony with their kites. The rail is quite high, and they look rather well able to take care of themselves.

Tavia looked longingly at the boys, who now were making their way to what Dorothy had termed the Dove Cote. Ned insisted upon postponing his lunch until they got their strings both untied and tied again first from the stick then to the rail. Martha said things would be cold, but Ned was obdurate.

At last Mrs. White and her guests were seated at the polished table in the green and white room. She glanced about approvingly, while Martha brought in the dishes.

I made the pudding, Dorothy confessed. I remember our old housekeeper used to make that Brown Betty out of stale cake, and as Martha could get no other kind of cake handy I thought it would do.

A cross between pudding, cake and pie, remarked Tavia, but mostly sweet gravy. It smells good, however. And I cleaned the lettuce. If you get any little black bugs lizards or snails

Oh, Tavia, dont! protested Dorothy, who at that moment was in the act of putting a lettuce leaf between her lips.

But I was only going to say that these reptiles had been properly bathed and are perfectly wholesome. In fact they have been sterilized, Tavia said, calmly.

At any rate, put in Mrs. White, you all have succeeded in getting a very nice luncheon together. I had no idea you and Dorothy could be so useful. We might have gotten along with one more maid to help Martha. Then we would have had more house room.

I should think you could get the janitor to do odd jobs, suggested Tavia, over a mouthful of broiled steak.

Janitor! exclaimed Mrs. White. My dear, you do not know New York janitors! They are a set of aristocrats all by themselves. We will have to look out that we please the janitor, or we may go without service a day or two just for punishment.





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