Margaret Penrose.

Dorothy Dale in the City





Then I will have to be awfully nice to ours, went on Tavia, in the way she had of always inviting trouble of one kind if not exactly the kind under discussion. I saw him. He has the loveliest red cheeks. Looks like a Baldwin apple left over from last year.

A rush through the apartment revealed Ned and the two kite boys.

Anything left? asked Ned. These two youngsters have to wait until two oclock for a bite to eat, and I thought

Of course, interrupted his mother, pleasantly, as she touched the bell for Martha. We will set plates for them at once. Glad to have our neighbors so friendly.

The little fellows did not look one bit abashed another sign of New York, Dorothy noted mentally. Talent, or Tal, as they called him, managed to get on the same chair with Raffle, as they waited for the extra places to be made at the table.

Tavia gazed at them with eyes that showed no wonder. She expected so many things of New York that each surprise seemed to have its own niche in her delighted sentiments.

You see, said Raffle, Tillie goes out for a walk about noon time, then mother gets in sometimes at two, and sometimes later. A feller always has to wait for someone.

Does Tillie take a baby out? ventured Dorothy.

Baby! repeated the boy. Im the baby. She never takes me out, at which assertion the two boys laughed merrily.

She just takes a complexion walk, Ned helped out.

Martha did not smile very sweetly when told to make two more places at the table, but she did not frown either. In a short time Ned, Raffle and Talent, with Tavia for company, and Dorothy assisting Martha, were left by Mrs. White to their own pleasure, while she excused herself and went off to write some notes. She remembered even then what Ned had said about boys liking to have things to themselves, and was not sorry of the excuse.

But Tavia held to her chair. She knew the strangers would say something interesting, and her bump of curiosity was not yet reduced.

My big brother goes to the university, Raffle said. But he eats at the Grill. He never has to wait.

Your brother? repeated Tavia, as if that was the very remark she had been waiting for.

Now Tavia, cautioned Ned.

Now Ned, said Tavia, in a tone of defiance.

I only wanted to say, continued Ned, that this big brother is probably studying law, and he may know a lot about well, the number of persons in whom one person may be legitimately interested.

The small boys were too much absorbed in their meal to pay attention to such a technical discussion. Tavia only turned her eyes up, then rolled them down quickly, in a sort of scorn, for answer to Ned.

Now for your pudding, announced Dorothy, who came from the kitchenette with three large dishes of the Brown Betty on a small tray.

Um-m-m! breathed the boys, drawing deep breaths so as to fully inhale the delicious aroma.

Whats that? asked Ned, as the outside door bell rang vigorously.

In reply Martha announced that the janitor wanted to know if anyone had tied a kite to the lobby rail.

The janitor! exclaimed both small boys in one breath.

Then, without further warning, they simultaneously ducked under the table.

CHAPTER XIII
THE SHOPPING TOUR

I guess Ill wear my skating cap, the wind blows so on top of those buses, remarked Tavia, as she and Dorothy prepared to go downtown to see the shops. It was their second day in New York.

And Ill wear my fur cap, Dorothy announced, as that sticks on so well. It is windy to-day.

Wasnt it too funny about the little boys? I do believe if that janitor had caught them he would have punished them somehow. The idea of their kite dropping around the neck of the old gentleman on the next floor! I should have given anything to see the fun, and Tavia laughed at the thought.

The poor old gentleman, Dorothy reflected. To think he was not safe taking the air on his own balcony. I was afraid that Ned would be blamed. Then our apartment would be marked as something dangerous. But Aunt Winnie fixed it all right. Janitors love small change.

Most people do, Tavia agreed. I hope we find things cheap in New York. I do want so many odds and ends.

It will be quite an experience for us to go all alone, Dorothy said. We will have to be careful not to break any laws.

Or any bric-a-brac, added Tavia. Some of those men we saw coming up looked to me like statues. I wonder anyone could enjoy life and be so stiff and statuesque.

We will see some strange things, I am sure, Dorothy said. Im ready. Wait. I guess Ill take my handbag. We may want to carry some little things home.

And Ill take your silk bag if you dont mind, Tavia spoke. I did not bring any along.

So, after accepting all sorts of warnings from Ned and Mrs. White, each declaring that young girls had to be very well behaved, and very careful in such a large city, the two companions started off for their first days shopping.

Climbing up the little winding steps to the top of the Fifth Avenue bus Tavia dropped her muff. Of course a young fellow, with a fuzzy-wuzzy sort of a hat, caught it on the hat. Tavia was plainly embarrassed, and Dorothy blushed. But it must be said that the young man with the velvet hat only looked at Tavia once and that was when he handed her muff up to her.

On top of the bus, away from the crowd (for they were alone up there), Dorothy and Tavia gave in to the laughter that was stifling them. They knew something would happen and it had, promptly.

Perhaps that is why they wear such broad-brimmed hats, Dorothy remarked, to catch things.

Soon an elderly woman puffed up the steps. She was so done up in furs she could not get her breath outside of them. Tavia and Dorothy took a double seat nearer the front, to allow the lady room near the steps.

Oh, my! Thank you, gasped the lady who had a little dog in her muff. It does do one up so to climb steps!

The country girls conversed in glances. They had read about dogs on strings, but had never heard of dogs in muffs.

Lucky that muff did not drop, Dorothy said, in a whisper. I fancy the little dog would not like it.

I wish it had, Tavia confessed. The idea of a woman, who fairly has to crawl, carrying a dog with her.

Once settled, the woman and the dog no longer interested our young friends. There were the boys on the street corners with their trays of violets; there were the wonderful mansions with so many sets of curtains that one might wonder how daylight ever penetrated; there were the taxicabs floating along like a new species of big bird; then the private auto conveyances with orchids in hanging glasses! No wonder that Dorothy and Tavia scarcely spoke a word as they rode along.

There is only one New York. And perhaps the most interesting part of it is that which shows how real people live there.

I wonder whos cooking there now, misquoted Tavia, as she got a peek into an open door that seemed to lead to nowhere in particular.

Can you imagine people living in such closed-in quarters? Dorothy remarked, I should think they would become canned.

They dont live there, they only sleep there, Tavia disclosed, with a show of pride. I do not believe a single person along here ever eats a meal in his or her house. They all go out to hotels.

But they cant take the babies, said Dorothy. I often wonder what becomes of the babies after dark, when the parks are not so attractive.

Do you really suppose that people do live in those vaults? musingly asked Tavia. I should think they would smother.

We cant see the back yards, Dorothy suggested.

Perhaps New York is like ancient Rome all walls and back yards.

But the fountains, exclaimed Tavia, where are they?

There are sunken gardens behind those walls, I imagine, explained Dorothy, and they must be there.

For some moments neither spoke further. The bus rattled along and as they neared Thirty-fourth Street stops were made more frequently.

We will get off at the next corner, Dorothy told Tavia, I know of one big store up here.

They climbed down the narrow, winding stairs and with a bound were in the midst of the Fifth Avenue shopping crowd.

Dorothy shivered under her furs. Where, she asked, do all the flowers come from? No one in the country ever sees flowers in the winter, and here they are blooming like spring time.

Do you feel peculiar? demanded Tavia, stopping suddenly.

Why, no, answered Dorothy innocently; do you?

I feel just as if I needed a nosegay, said Tavia, laughing slily. Were not at all as dashing as we might be!

They purchased from a thinly-clad little boy two bunches of violets, sweetly scented, daintily tasseled but made of silk!

The silkiness accounts for the always fresh and blooming violets, Dorothy said ruefully. Now, we look just like real New Yorkers.

Now where is that store? said Dorothy, looking about with a puzzled air. Im sure it was right over there.

Isnt that a store, said Tavia, where all those autos and carriages are?

Where? asked Dorothy, still bewildered.

Where the brown-liveried man is helping ladies out of carriages and things, Tavia answered.

Oh, said Dorothy meekly, I thought that was a hotel!

If there was anything in the world more subduedly rich, or more quietly lavish, than the shop that Dorothy and Tavia entered, the girls from the country could not imagine it. The richest and most costly of all things for which the feminine heart yearns, were displayed here. For the first few moments the girls did not talk. They were silent with the wonder of the costliness on every side. Then Tavia said timidly: Nothing has a price mark on!

Hush! whispered Dorothy, they dont have vulgar prices here. They only sell to persons who never ask prices.

Oh! said Tavia, with quick understanding, however, dare me to ask that wonderful creature with the coiffure, the price of those finger bowls, murmured Tavia, a yearning entering her soul to possess a priceless article.

What do you want with finger bowls? asked Dorothy, mystified.

How do I know? I may yet need a finger bowl, enigmatically responded Tavia, maybe to plant a little fern in. She handled the finger bowl tenderly. Dorothy, too, picked up a tiny brass horse, hammered in exquisite lines. Isnt this lovely! she exclaimed.

Its a wonderful piece of work, admired Tavia, while she clung with intense yearning to the finger bowl.

How much are these, please? Dorothy asked the saleswoman.

The saleswoman carefully brushed back two stray locks that had escaped from their net, and gazing into space said: Five dollars and Six dollars and ninety-seven cents. Her attitude was slightly scornful at being asked the very common how much.

The scorn was too much for Tavias spirit. She lifted her chin: Ill take two of each kind, if you please, send them C.O.D., and, giving her Riverside Drive address, Tavia, followed by Dorothy, turned and gracefully swayed from the counter, in grand imitation of an elegantly gowned young girl who had just purchased some brass, and had it charged.

Tavia, how awful! gasped Dorothy. Whatever will you do with those things!

Send them back, answered Tavia, with great recklessness, her chin still held high.

Dorothy admitted that of course it wasnt at all possible to back away from such a saleswoman, but she felt quite guilty about something. We shouldnt have yielded to our feelings, she said gently, it would, at best, have been only momentary humiliation.

Were in the wrong store, said Tavia, decidedly, I must see price signs that can be read a block away. This place is too exquisite!

Isnt this the dearest! Dorothy darted to the handkerchief counter, and picked up a dainty bit of lace.

Tavia gazed at the small lacy thing with rapt attention, cautiously trying to see some hidden mark to indicate the cost, but there was none.

Something finer than this, please, queried Tavia, of the saleswoman, its exquisite, Dorothy, but not just what I like, you see.

Dorothy kept a frightened pair of eyes downcast, as the saleswoman handed Tavia another lace handkerchief saying, with a genial smile: Eighteen dollars. Tavia held up the handkerchief critically: And this one? she asked, pointing to another.

Twelve dollars, replied the saleswoman, all attention.

We must hurry on, interposed Dorothy, grasping Tavias arm in sheer desperation, there are so many other things, suppose we leave the handkerchiefs until last?

Critically Tavia fingered the costly bits of lace, as if unable to decide. Then she smiled artlessly at the saleswoman. Its hard to say, of course, were so rushed for time, but well look at them again. Together the girls hurried for the street door.

That was really New York style; wasnt it? triumphantly declared Tavia. Never again will I submit to superior airs when I want to know the price.

Hadnt we better ask someone where stores are that sell goods with price marks on them? laughingly asked Dorothy.

They followed the crowd toward Broadway and Sixth Avenue. Gaily Tavia tripped along. She never had been happier in all her life. She loved the whirl and the people, and the never-ending air of gaiety. Dorothy liked it all, but it made her a bit weary; the festal air of the crowd did seem so meaningless.

When they reached Sixth Avenue it took but an instant for both girls to pick out the most enticing shop and thither they hurried. It was brilliantly lighted, the gorgeous splendor was Oriental in its beauty, there was no quiet hidden loveliness about this store, it dazzled and charmed and it had price signs! Just nice little white signs, with dull red figures, not at all screeching at customers, but most useful to persons of limited means. One could tell with the merest glance just what counter to keep away from.

A struggling mass of humanity, mostly women, were packed in tightly about one counter. The girls could not get closer than five feet, but patiently they stood waiting their turn to see what wonderful thing was on sale. It was Tavias first bargain rush, and for every elbow that was jammed into her ribs, she stepped on someones foot. Dorothy held her head high above the crowd to breathe. At last they reached the counter, and the bargains that all were frantically aiming to reach were saucepans at ten cents each.

After that struggle, we must get one, just for a memento of the bargain rush, exclaimed Dorothy, crowding her muff under her arm. Something fell to the floor with a crash at the movement of Dorothys arm. Immediately there was great confusion, because, a little woman, flushed and greatly excited had cried out, My purse! I beg your pardon madam, that is my purse you have!

The small, excited woman was clinging desperately to the arm of another woman, who towered above the crowd.

Why, thats Miss Mingle! cried Tavia to Dorothy.

Oh, Miss Mingle! called out Dorothy.

Girls, cried the little Glenwood teacher, excitedly, this woman snatched my purse!

They were all too excited at the moment to find anything strange in thus meeting with one another.

The big woman calmly surveyed the girls: She, the blond one, knocked your purse down with her muff, I was goin to pick it up, thats all. Its under your feet now.

The woman slowly backed into the crowd.

Dorothys eyes opened wide with wonder! The thing that had fallen had certainly made a crash! and the leather end sticking from the cuff of the womans fur coat sleeve surely looked like a purse! Dorothy gasped at the horror of it! What could she do? The woman was moving slowly farther and farther away.

Miss Mingle stooped to the floor in search of the purse. As quick as a flash the woman slipped out of the crowd, as Miss Mingle loosened her hold. Amazed and horrified at the boldness of the theft, Dorothy for one instant stood undecided, then she sprang after the woman and faced her unflinchingly:

Give me that purse! Its in the cuff of your coat sleeve!

The woman drew herself up indignantly, glared at Dorothy, and would have made an effort to get away, scornfully ignoring the girl who barred her path, when a store detective arrived on the spot.

She, too, was a girl, modestly garbed in black. In a perfectly quiet voice she spoke to the woman.

These matters can always be settled at our office, madam. Come with me.

The idea! screamed the woman. I never was insulted like this before! How dare you!

There is nothing to scream about, said the young detective, in her soft voice, Ive merely asked you to come to the office and talk it over. Isnt that fair?

Indeed, Ill submit to nothing of the sort! A hard-working, honest woman like I am! She made another effort to elude her accusers by a quick movement, but Dorothy kept close to one side and the store detective followed at the other. The woman stared stubbornly at the detective. Disgusted with the performance, Dorothy quietly reached for the protruding purse and held it up.

Is this yours? she asked, of Miss Mingle.

Yes, yes, my dear! cried Miss Mingle, gratefully accepting the purse, Im so thankful! I caught her hand as she slipped the purse away from my arm. How can I thank you, Miss Dale?

Tavia led the way out of the crowd, and the store detective took charge of the woman, who was an old offender and well known.

Dorothy Dale and Tavia Travers! joyfully exclaimed Miss Mingle, when the excitement was over. Where did you come from, and at such an opportune moment?

We are as surprised as you, exclaimed Dorothy, and so glad to have been able to be of assistance!

Well hang the saucepan in the main hall at Glenwood in honor of the bargain rush, said Tavia, waving the parcel above her head.

Girls, Im still picking feathers out of my hair! said Miss Mingle, laughing gaily.

Dont you love New York? burst from Tavias lips. Im dreading the very thought of returning to Glenwood and school again!

But Miss Mingle sighed. Im counting the days until my return to Glenwood, my dears. But, you dont want to hear anything about that, youre young and happy, and without care. Come and see us Im with my sister, and I would just love to have you. At mention of her sister, Miss Mingles lips involuntarily quivered and she partly turned away. Do come, girls, this is my address. Im glad youre enjoying New York; I wish I could say as much.

As she said good-bye, Dorothy noticed how much more than ever the thin, haggard face was drawn and lined with anxiety, and the timid dread in her eyes enhanced by the bright red spots that burned in the hollows of her cheeks.

We must call, said Dorothy, when Miss Mingle had disappeared. There is some secret burden wearing that little woman to a shred.

Her eyes have the look of a haunted creature, said Tavia, seriously. We cant call to-morrow; we have the matinee, you know.

Yes, thats always the way, one must do the pleasant things, and let misery and sorrow take care of themselves, sighed Dorothy. Well, we can the following day.

CHAPTER XIV
THE DRESS PARADE

Oh dear, sighed Dorothy, falling limply into a handsomely upholstered rocker in the comfortable resting-room of the shop, half an hour after they had left Miss Mingle, Im completely exhausted! She carried several parcels, which she dropped listlessly on a nearby couch, on which Tavia was resting.

How mildly you express it! cried Tavia, Im just simply dead! Dont the crowds and the lights and confusion tire one, though! Ill own up, that for just one wee moment to-day, I thought of Dalton, and its peaceful quiet and the blue sky and those things, you know, she hastily ended, always afraid of being sentimental.

I shouldnt want to think that all my days were destined to be spent in New York. It makes a lovely holiday place, but I like the country, said Dorothy, as she watched a young girl, shabbily dressed, eating some fruit from a bag.

Tavia watched her too. At least, the monotony of the country can always be overcome by simple pleasures, but here there is no escape to the peaceful the temptations are too many. For instance, Tavia jumped from her restful position, and sat before a writing table, and the shabby young girl who was eating an orange, stopped eating to stare at the schoolgirl. Who wouldnt just write to ones worst enemy, if there was no one else, just to use these darling little desks!

And the paper is monogramed, exclaimed Dorothy, regaining an interest in things. What stunning paper! She, too, drew up a chair to the dainty mahogany table and grasping a pen said: We simply must write to someone. This is too alluring to pass by.

Here goes one to Ned Ebony, and Tavia dipped the pen into the ink and wrote rapidly in a large scrawling hand.

Mine will be to Aunt Winnie, said Dorothy, laughing.

The shabby girl finished her orange, and picking up a small bundle, took one lingering look at the happy young girls at the writing desks and left the resting room.





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