Nell Speed.

The Carter Girls





Lucy was gay and bright and very useful when it came to running errands. Her only trouble was the constant sparring with Helen, whom she secretly admired more than any one in the world.

Master Bobby had spent a blissful month of shoving for Dr. Wright. Dr. Wright had a theory that all children were naturally good and that when they were seemingly naughty it was only because they were not sufficiently occupied.

Give the smallest child some real responsibility and he is sure to be worthy of it. If their brains and hands and feet are busy with something that they feel is worth while, children are sure to be happy. Bobby had sat in his car a half hour at a time, while the doctor was busy with patients, perfectly happy and good, contenting himself with playing chauffeur. He would occasionally toot the horn just to let the passer-by understand that he was on the job.

The beloved home had been put in apple pie order and handed over to the poor, rich fugitives from the war zone. The kind old cook had bidden them a tearful farewell and betaken herself to her new place after careful admonishings of her pupil, Helen, not to let nobody suade her that any new fangled yeast is so good as tater yeast.

The real fun in the venture was buying the provisions and necessary camping outfits. That was money that must be spent and they could do it with a clear conscience. The lists were written and rewritten and revised a score of times until they could not think of a single thing that had been left out. The freight was sent off several days ahead of them to give poor Cousin Lizzies bed time to get there before them.

Poor Cousin Lizzie, indeed! She was brave about the undertaking up to the time of starting, but when she was handed into the common coach, there being no parlor car on that morning train, she almost gave up. Nothing but the memory of old Cousin Robert Carters kindness to her mother sustained her.

A good man leaveth an inheritance to his childrens children, she muttered as she sank on the dusty, dingy cushions of the very common, common day coach. That is surely what old Cousin Robert Carter did. I have not ridden in such a coach for more than thirty years, I am sure. Why was this train chosen? There must be good trains running to the mountains that have chair cars.

Yes, Cousin Lizzie, said Douglas, but you see Greendale is a very small station and only the very accommodating accommodations stop there. The trains with chair cars stop only at the big places.

Douglas was very tired and looked it. She was very pale and her firm mouth would tremble a little in spite of her self-control. No one seemed to notice it, as every one was tired and every one had been busy. She felt when they were once off that she could rest, if only Cousin Lizzie would not complain too much and if Helen and Lucy would not squabble and if dear little Bobby would not poke his head too far out of the window.

Dr.

Wright came down to see them off and as he shook hands with Douglas, he looked very searchingly at her tired face.

You must be selfish when you get to the mountains and rest for a week, he said. You are about all in.

Oh, Ill be all right in a few minutes. It is just getting started that has tired me. Bobby, please dont poke your head out, your arm, either. Dont you know something might come along and chop you right in two?

Im a shover for this here train. If I dont stick my arm way out the train a-runnin up behind us will clision with us.

See here, young man, you are still in my employ and I dont intend to have you working for the C. & O. while you are working for me. When my chauffeur travels to the mountains, he has to keep his hands inside the windows and his head, too. He must be kind to his sisters, especially his Sister Douglas, who is very tired. I am really letting you off duty so you can take care of Douglas. You see, when a lot of women start on a trip they have to have some man with them to look after them.

Thats so, boss, an Im goin to be that man. Women folks is meant to look after eatins an to sew up holes an things. Im hungry right now! exclaimed Bobby, man-like, finding some work immediately for the down-trodden sex.

All aboard! called the brakeman.

Dr. Wright was bidding hasty adieux when it was discovered that Nan had left the carefully prepared lunch basket in the waiting-room. Poor Nan! She had been occupied trying to remember some lines of Alfred Noyes about a railroad station and had carelessly placed the basket on the seat beside her, and then, in the excitement of getting Oscar and Susan into the colored coach and picking up all the many little parcels and shawls and small pillows that Cousin Lizzie always traveled with, she had forgotten it.

Oh, let me get off and get it, she implored, but Dr. Wright gently pushed her back into her seat and hastily whispered something to her that made her smile instead of cry, which she was on the verge of doing. She sat quite quietly while the engine puffed its way out of the shed and Dr. Wright jumped off the moving train.

She waved to him and he gave her a reassuring smile.

He is like the hills, she thought. I will look unto the hills from whence cometh my help.

Nan, how could you? started Helen, and Lucy chimed in with:

Yes, how could you?

I am so sorry, but maybe it will come all right, anyhow.

Come all right, anyhow! sniffed Cousin Lizzie. It is all right now as far as I am concerned. I certainly could not taste a mouthful in such surroundings as these.

Douglas put her tired head on the dingy, dusty red plush upholstery and closed her eyes. Food made no difference to her. All she wanted was rest. Bobby opened the package of chewing gum that his employer had slipped him as advance wages, and forgot all about the hunger that he had declared a moment before.

I aint a keering, Nan, bout no lunch. I am goin to buy all the choclid an peanuts what the man brings in the train an old lunch aint no good nohow.

Nan kept on smiling an enigmatic smile that mystified Helen and Lucy. They were accustomed to Nans forgetting things but she was usually so contrite and miserable. Now she just smiled and peeped out the window.

I dont believe she gives a hang, whispered Lucy to Helen.

Looks that way. If she had spent hours making the sandwiches, as I did, maybe she would not be so calm about it.

I made some of them, too.

Oh, yes, so you did, about three, I should say.

Lots more. Youre all the time thinking you make all the sandwiches.

Douglas opened her tired eyes at the sharp tone of voice that Lucy had fallen into.

Girls, please dont squabble.

All right, we wont! You go to sleep, honey, and Ill keep Bobby from falling out the window and agree with Lucy about everything even if she insists that Dr. Wright is an Adonis. Come here, Bobby. Helen is going to make up a really true story to tell you, and Helen lifted her little brother from the seat by Douglas. In a few moments he was so absorbed in the wonderful true story about bears and whales that a little boy named Bobby had shot and caught, he did not notice that the train had stopped at the first station after leaving Richmond.

Some excitement on the platform made them all look out the window. The conductor had waved to the engineer his signal for starting when a car came dashing madly up to the station. Frantic pulling of ropes by the accommodating conductor on the accommodating accommodation! A belated traveler, no doubt!

Its my ployer! screamed Bobby. Look at him park his car! Aint he some driver, though?

It was Dr. Wright, breaking laws as to speed, presuming on the Red Cross tag that the doctors attach to their cars. Several policemen had noted him as he sped through the suburbs, but felt surely it was a matter of life and death when they saw the Red Cross tag, and let him go unmolested and unfined.

Here it is, Miss Nan! he called as he waved the heavy basket, endangering the precious sandwiches. Eager hands drew the basket through an open window while a grinning brakeman and a rather irate conductor got the train started once more.

Heres some aromatic ammonia! Make Miss Douglas take a teaspoonful in a glass of water, he said to Helen as he handed a small vial to her over Bobbys head. It almost made me miss the train, but she must have it.

Oh, Dr. Wright, I am so much obliged to you. You are very kind to us.

Helens been making up a wonderfulest true story for me, called Bobby, leaning out dangerously far to see the last of his ployer. So Im being good an not worrying Douglas.

There was unalloyed approval now in the blue, blue eyes, and Helen thought, as the young doctor gave one of his rare smiles, that he was really almost handsome.

CHAPTER XI
THE CAMP

The lunch did not go begging. Even Cousin Lizzie forgot her disgusting surroundings and deigned to partake of Helens very good lettuce sandwiches. She even pronounced the coffee from the thermos bottle about the best she had tasted for many a day.

My cook doesnt make very good coffee. I dont know what she does to it. When we go back to Richmond I think I shall get you to show her how you make it, Helen.

Helen smiled and had not the heart to tell her cousin that her own cook had made the coffee, after all. Of all the young Carters, Miss Somerville was fondest of Helen. She had infinite patience with her foibles and thought her regard for dress and style just as it should be.

A womans appearance is a very important factor and too much thought cannot be given it, she would say. Miss Somerville had boasted much beauty in her youth and still was a very handsome old lady, with a quantity of silver white hair and the complexion of a d?butante. Gentlemen are more attracted by becoming clothes than anything else, she declared, and of course it is nothing but hypocrisy that makes women say they do not wish to attract the opposite sex. Miss Somerville, having had many opportunities to marry, and having chosen single blessedness of her own free will, always spoke with great authority of the male sex. She always called them gentlemen, however, and the way she said gentlemen made you think of dignified persons in long-tailed coats and high stocks who paid their addresses on bended knees.

Only one more station before we get to Greendale! exclaimed Douglas. I feel real rested.

Thats cause Ise been so good, said the angel Bobby. I aint a single time had my head an arm chopped off. I tell you, I dont do shovers work for the C. & O. for nothin. My boss dont low me to work for nobody but jest him.

You have been as good as gold, said Douglas, and now I am going to buy you some candy, she added, as the train boy came through crying his wares.

Choclid?

Suppose you have marshmallows instead. They are so much less evident on your countenance, suggested Helen.

All right! Id jest as soon cause that nice dirty boy in the mountings kin milk me some choclid outn the cow whenever I gits hungry.

What a filthy trip it has been! said Cousin Lizzie as she shook the cinders from her black taffeta suit.

Yes, it is grimy, declared Helen, and I came off without my Dorine. I had just got a new one. I do hate to arrive anywhere with a shiny nose. Lend me your vanity box, Douglas, please.

Vanity box! I never thought about bringing it. It is packed with the other extra, useless things in Cousin Lizzies trunk room. It never entered my head that we would want a vanity box at a mountain camp.

Well, I dont intend to have a shiny nose in a mountain camp any more than any other place. I hate to look greasy.

Have a marshmallow, drawled Nan. They are great beautifiers.

So Helen powdered her nose with some of Bobbys candy, much to the amusement of that infant.

Lewis and Bill were waiting for the travelers at the station at Greendale with the ramshackle little car, which they had christened the Mountain Goat because of its hill climbing proclivities. Josh was also there, with the faithful Josephus hitched to an old cart to carry the luggage up to the camp.

The porter from the summer hotel of Greendale was on the platform as the train stopped and he immediately came forward, thinking these stylish passengers were for his hostelry; but the little mountain boy stepped in front of him and said:

We uns is you allses baggage man, and he seized their grips and parcels and won their hearts as well with his merry blue eyes and soft voice.

Oh, you must be the dirty boy whats got a choclid cow! exclaimed Bobby. Im a dirty boy, too, now Im come to live in the mountings an Im goin to be a baggage man, too, if Dr. Wright will let me off from being a shover up here where th aint no traffic cops to rest you ifn you dont stick out yo arm goin round the cornders. Id most ruther be a baggage man than a shover ifn I can sit in front with you and drive the mule. All this poured forth in one breath while the young men were greeting the ladies.

All aboard! shouted the brakeman and the signal was given for the engineer to start.

Oh, where are Oscar and Susan? from a distracted Douglas. Stop, please stop!

Oscar was discovered peacefully sleeping and Susan so deep in her beloved dream book that she was oblivious to the passing of time and miles. They were dragged from the colored coach by the amused brakeman and dumped on the platform as the train made its second rumbling start upgrade.

The bringing of these two servants had been a problem to our girls. They were both of them kind and faithful but were strictly urban in their raising, and how the real rough country would affect them remained to be seen. They sniffed scornfully at the small station with its stuffy waiting-rooms, one for coloreds and one, whites, and looked at the great mountains that closed them in with distrust and scorn.

Uncle Oscar, this place jes aint no place at all, grumbled Susan. Look at that shack over yonder what passes fer a sto, and this here little po white boy settin up yonder on the seat with our Bobby! He neednt think he is goin ter sociate with the quality. You, Bobby, git down from thar an come hol my han!

Hol your grandmothers han! I aint no baby. Im a spressman an am a gointer hol the mule. That was pretty near a joke, he said, looking confidingly into the eyes of his new friend. One reason I was so good a-comin up here was because we let Susan go in the Jim Crow coach to keep Uncle Oscar compny, cause when she is ridin anywhere near me shes all time wantin me to hol her han.

We thought wed make two loads of you, said Lewis, when the greetings were over. Bill can go ahead with Aunt Lizzie and some of you while the rest of us walk, and when he puts you out at the camp he can come back and meet us half way.

Douglas must ride, declared Helen. She is so tired.

Im a lot rested now.

Yes, sure, you must ride, said Lewis, a shade of disappointment in his tone as he had been rather counting on having a nice little walk and talk with his favorite cousin.

Say, Lewis, you run the jitney first. Legs stiff and tired sitting still, said Bill magnanimously.

So while Lewis was cheated out of a walk with Douglas, he had the satisfaction of having her sit beside him as he drove the rickety car up the winding mountain road. Miss Somerville was packed in the back with Nan and Lucy, but when Lucy found that Helen was to walk, she decided to walk, too. Susan was put in her place, and so her feelings were somewhat mollified.

Josephus aint above totin one of the niggers long with the trunks, said Josh, determined to get even for the remarks he had heard Oscar and Susan make in regard to po white trash. The antagonism that exists between the mountaineer and darkey is hard to overcome.

So Oscar, the proud butler of nothin but fust famblies, was forced either to walk up the mountain, something he dreaded, or climb up on the seat of the cart by the despised po white trash. He determined on the latter course and took his seat in dignified silence with the expression of one who says: My head is bloody but unbowed.

The freight came and we have hauled it up and unpacked the best we could. I am afraid it is going to be mighty rough for you girls and for poor Aunt Lizzie, who is certainly a brick for coming, but we have done our best, said Lewis to Douglas.

Rough, indeed! Who would expect divans and Turkish rugs at a camp? We are sure to like it and we are so grateful to you and Mr. Tinsley. But look at the view! Oh, Cousin Lizzie, just look at the view!

Now see here, Douglas, I said I would come and chaperone Cousin Robert Carters granddaughters if no one would make me look at views. Views do not appeal to me. She couldnt help looking at the view, though, as there was nothing else to look at.

Is jes lak you, Miss Lizzie. I don think a thing er views. I aint never seed one befo but I heard tell of em. Looks lak a view aint nothin but jes seem fur, an ifn thaint nothin ter see, whats the use in it?

Wordsworths lines came to Nan and she whispered them to herself as she looked off across the wonderful valley:


The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! Id rather be
A pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

She intended to whisper it to herself but as the march of the lines took possession of her, she spoke them out loud without knowing it. On the ninth line she came out strong with, Great God! Id rather be Miss Somerville and Susan looked at her in amazement. Her dark eyes were fixed on the despised view with a look of a somnambulist.

Lawd a mussy! Miss Nan done got a tech er heat!

Blow your horn, Lewis. Didnt you hear Nan? from Miss Somerville. She must see something coming.

Nan went off into such a peal of laughter that Bill Tinsley himself could not have vied with her. She blushingly admitted it was just some poetry she was repeating to herself, which made Miss Somerville agree with Susan that Miss Nan had a tech er heat.

You had better have a dose of that aromatic ammonia and lie down for a while when we get to the top, suggested Miss Lizzie dryly.

The road stopped at the cabin some distance from the pavilion, so they alighted and Lewis turned the car on a seemingly impossible place and careened down the mountain to pick up the others before they were exhausted with the climb.

The cabin was in perfect order and so clean that even Miss Lizzie was destined to find it difficult to discover germs. Gwen had rubbed and scrubbed and then beautified to the best of her ability. She had purchased a few yards of coarse scrim at the store and fresh curtains were at the windows. The white iron bed was made up in spotless counterpane and pillows, and on the freshly scrubbed pine floor was a new rag rug of her own weave. The open fireplace was filled with fragrant spruce boughs, and on the high mantel and little deal table she had put cans of honeysuckle and Cherokee roses. She had longed for some vases but had not liked to ask the young men to buy them. She felt that the curtains were all the expense she should plunge them into.

When Gwen had seen the car approaching she had shyly gone behind the cabin. She dreaded in a measure meeting these girls and their cousin. She had become accustomed to the presence of the young gentlemen, but what would the girls think of her? Wouldnt they think she was odd and funny looking? She was quite aware of the fact that she was very different in appearance from the girls in cities. She had pored over too many illustrated papers not to know how other girls her age dressed and looked. Her scant blue dress was made after a pattern sent to the Mission School by some interested ladies. It was supposed to be the best pattern for children to use where the cloth must be economically cut. So it was and singularly picturesque in its straight lines, but Gwen was but human and now that fashion sheets plainly said wider skirts and flaring, here she was in her narrow little dress! She hated it. Bare legs and feet, too!

Her instinct was to turn and flee around the mountain to the arms of Aunt Mandy, who thought she was the most wonderful little girl in all the world. But there was the kind of fighting blood in her that could not run. The spirit of a grandfather who had been one of the heroes of Balaclava made her hold up her proud little head and go boldly around to the front of the cabin to face the dreadful ladies.





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