Part 1 out of 4
MARJORIE'S NEW FRIEND
Author of the "Patty" Books
[Illustration: "'HERE'S THE BOOK', SAID MISS HART.... 'HOW MANY LEAVES
I. A BOTHERSOME BAG
II. A WELCOME CHRISTMAS GIFT
III. MERRY CHRISTMAS!
IV. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
V. A TEARFUL TIME
VI. THE GOING OF GLADYS
VII. THE COMING OF DELIGHT
VIII. A VISIT TO CINDERELLA
IX. A STRAW-RIDE
X. MAKING VALENTINES
XI. MARJORIE CAPTIVE
XII. MISS HART HELPS
XIII. GOLDFISH AND KITTENS
XIV. A PLEASANT SCHOOL
XV. A SEA TRIP
XVI. A VALENTINE PARTY
XVII. A JINKS AUCTION
XVIII. HONEST CONFESSION
XIX. A VISIT FROM GLADYS
XX. CHESSY CATS
A BOTHERSOME BAG
"Mother, are you there?"
"Yes, Marjorie; what is it, dear?"
"Nothing. I just wanted to know. Is Kitty there?"
"No; I'm alone, except for Baby Rosy. Are you bothered?"
"Yes, awfully. Please tell me the minute Kitty comes. I want to see her."
"Yes, dearie. I wish I could help you."
"Oh, I _wish_ you could! You'd be just the one!"
This somewhat unintelligible conversation is explained by the fact that
while Mrs. Maynard sat by a table in the large, well-lighted living-room,
and Rosy Posy was playing near her on the floor, Marjorie was concealed
behind a large folding screen in a distant corner.
The four Japanese panels of the screen were adjusted so that they
enclosed the corner as a tiny room, and in it sat Marjorie, looking very
much troubled, and staring blankly at a rather hopeless-looking mass of
brocaded silk and light-green satin, on which she had been sewing. The
more she looked at it, and the more she endeavored to pull it into shape,
the more perplexed she became.
"I never saw such a thing!" she murmured, to herself. "You turn it
straight, and then it's wrong side out,--and then you turn it back, and
still it's wrong side out! I wish I could ask Mother about it!"
The exasperating silk affair was a fancy work-bag which Marjorie was
trying to make for her mother's Christmas present. And that her mother
should not know of the gift, which was to be a surprise, of course,
Marjorie worked on it while sitting behind the screen. It was a most
useful arrangement, for often Kitty, and, sometimes, even Kingdon, took
refuge behind its concealing panels, when making or wrapping up gifts for
each other that must not be seen until Christmas Day.
Indeed, at this hour, between dusk and dinner time, the screened off
corner was rarely unoccupied.
It was a carefully-kept rule that no one was to intrude if any one else
was in there, unless, of course, by invitation of the one in possession.
Marjorie did not like to sew, and was not very adept at it, but she had
tried very hard to make this bag neatly, that it might be presentable
enough for her mother to carry when she went anywhere and carried her
So Midget had bought a lovely pattern of brocaded silk for the outside,
and a dainty pale green satin for the lining. She had seamed up the two
materials separately, and then had joined them at the top, thinking that
when she turned them, the bag would be neatly lined, and ready for the
introduction of a pretty ribbon that should gather it at the top. But,
instead, when she sewed her two bags together, they did not turn into
each other right at all. She had done her sewing with both bags wrong
side out, thinking they would turn in such a way as to conceal all the
seams. But instead of that, not only were all the seams on the outside,
but only the wrong sides of the pretty materials showed, and turn and
twist it as she would, Marjorie could not make it come right.
Her mother could have shown her where the trouble lay, but Marjorie
couldn't consult her as to her own surprise, so she sat and stared at the
exasperating bag until Kitty came.
"Come in here, Kit," called Midget, and Kitty carefully squeezed herself
inside the screen.
"What's the matter, Mopsy? Oh, is it Mother's--"
"Sh!" said Marjorie warningly, for Kitty was apt to speak out
thoughtlessly, and Mrs. Maynard was easily within hearing.
"I can't make it turn right," she whispered; "see if you can."
Kitty obligingly took the bag, but the more she turned and twisted it,
the more obstinately it refused to get right side out.
"You've sewed it wrong," she whispered back.
"I know that,--but what's the way to sew it right. I can't see where I
made the mistake."
"No, nor I. You'd think it would turn, wouldn't you?"
Kitty kept turning the bag, now brocaded side out, now lining side out,
but always the seams were outside, and the right side of the materials
"I never saw anything so queer," said Kitty; "it's bewitched! Maybe King
could help us."
Kingdon had just come in, so they called him to the consultation.
"It is queer," he said, after the situation was noiselessly explained to
him. "It's just like my skatebag, that Mother made, only the seams of
that don't show."
"Go get it, King," said Marjorie hopefully. "Maybe I can get this right
then. Don't let Mother see it."
So King went for his skatebag, and with it stuffed inside his jacket,
returned to his perplexed sisters.
"No; I don't see how she did it," declared Marjorie, at last, after a
close inspection of the neatly-made bag, with all its seams properly out
of sight, and its material and lining both showing their right sides.
"I'll have to give it to her this way"
"You can't!" said Kitty, looking at the absurd thing.
"But what can I do, Kit? It's only a week till Christmas now, and I can't
begin anything else for Mother. I've lots of things to finish yet."
"Here's Father," said Kitty, as she heard his voice outside; "perhaps he
can fix it."
"Men don't know about fancy work," said Marjorie, but even as she spoke
hope rose in her heart, for Mr. Maynard had often proved knowing in
matters supposed to be outside his ken.
"Oh, Father, come in here, please; in behind the screen. You go out, King
and Kitty, so there'll be room."
Those invited to leave did so, and Mr. Maynard came in and smiled at his
eldest daughter's despairing face.
"What's the trouble, Mopsy midget? Oh, millinery? You don't expect me to
hemstitch, do you? What's that you're making, a young sofa-cushion?"
"Don't speak so loud, Father. It's a Christmas present I'm making for
Mother, and it won't go right. If you can't help me, I don't know what
I'll do. I've tried every way, but it's always wrong side out!"
"What a hateful disposition it must have! But what _is_ it?"
Marjorie put her lips to her father's ear, and whispered; "It's a bag; I
mean it's meant to be one, for Mother to carry to sewing society. I can
sew it well enough, but I can't make it get right side out!"
"Now, Mopsy, dear, you know I'd do anything in the world to help you that
I possibly can; but I'm afraid this is a huckleberry above my
"But, Father, here's King's skatebag. Mother made it, and can't you see
by that how it's to go?"
"H'm,--let me see. I suppose if I must pull you out of this slough of
despond, I must. Now all these seams are turned in, and all yours are
"Yes; and how can we get them inside? There's no place to turn them to."
Mr. Maynard examined both bags minutely.
"Aha!" he said at last; "do you know how they put the milk in the
"Well, neither do I. But I see a way to get these seams inside and let
your pretty silks put their best face foremost. Have you a pair of
"Yes, here they are."
Mr. Maynard deftly ripped a few stitches, leaving an opening of a couple
of inches in one of the seams of the lining. Through this opening he
carefully pulled the whole of both materials, thus reversing the whole
thing. When it had all come through, he pulled and patted it smooth, and,
behold! the bag was all as it should be, and there remained only the
tiny opening he had ripped in the lining to be sewed up again.
"That you must cat-stitch, or whatever you call it," he said, "as neatly
as you can. And it will never show, on a galloping horse on a dark
"Blindstitch, you mean," said Marjorie; "yes, I can do that. Oh, Father,
how clever you are! How did you know how to do it?"
"Well, to be honest, I saw a similar place in the lining of the skate
bag. So I concluded that was the most approved way to make bags. Can you
finish it now?"
"Oh, yes; I've only to stitch a sort of casing and run a ribbon in for
the strings. Thank you lots, Father dear. You always help me out. But I
was afraid this was out of your line."
"It isn't exactly in my day's work, as a rule; but I'm always glad to
assist a fair lady in distress. Any other orders, mademoiselle?"
"Not to-night, brave sir. But you might call in, any time you're
"Suppose I should pop in when you're engaged on a token of regard and
esteem for my noble self?"
"No danger! Your Christmas present is all done and put away. I had
Mother's help on that."
"Well, then it's sure to be satisfactory. Then I will bid you adieu,
trusting to meet you again at dinner."
"All right," said Marjorie, who had neatly; blindstitched the little
ripped place, and was now making the casing for the ribbons.
By dinner time the bag was nearly done, and she went to the table with a
light heart, knowing that she could finish her mother's present that
"Who is the dinner for this year?" asked Mr. Maynard, as the family sat
round their own dinner table.
"Oh, the Simpsons," said Marjorie, in a tone of decision. "You know Mr.
Simpson is still in the hospital, and they're awfully poor."
It was the Maynards' habit to send, every Christmas, a generous dinner to
some poor family in the town, and this year the children had decided on
the Simpsons. In addition to the dinner, they always made up a box of
toys, clothing, and gifts of all sorts. These were not always entirely
new, but were none the less welcome for that.
"A large family, isn't it?" said Mr. Maynard.
"Loads of 'em," said King. "All ages and assorted sizes."
"Well, I'll give shoes and mittens all round, for my share. Mother, you
must look out for the dinner and any necessities that they need.
Children, you can make toys and candies for them! can't you?"
"Yes, indeed," said Marjorie; "we've lovely things planned. We're going
to paste pictures on wood, and King is going to saw them up into
picture-puzzles. And we're going to make scrap books, and dress dolls,
and heaps of things."
"And when are you going to take these things to them?"
"I think we'd better take them the day before Christmas," said Mrs.
Maynard. "Then Mrs. Simpson can prepare her turkey and such things over
night if she wants to. I'm sure she'd like it better than to have all the
things come upon her suddenly on Christmas morning."
"Yes, that's true," said Mr. Maynard. "And then we must find something to
amuse ourselves all day Christmas."
"I rather guess we can!" said King. "Well have our own tree Christmas
morning, and Grandma and Uncle Steve are coming, and if there's snow,
we'll have a sleigh-ride, and if there's ice, we'll have skating,--oh, I
just love Christmas!"
"So do I," said Marjorie. "And we'll have greens all over the house, and
wreaths tied with red ribbon,--"
"And mince pie and ice cream, both!" interrupted Kitty; "oh, won't it be
"And then no school for a whole week!" said Marjorie, rapturously. "More
than a week, for Christmas is on Thursday, so New Year's Day's on
Thursday, too, and we have vacation on that Friday, too."
"But Christmas and New Year's Day don't come on the same day of the week
this year, Marjorie," said her father.
"They don't! Why, Father, they _always_ do! It isn't leap year, is it?"
"Ho, Mops, leap year doesn't matter," cried King. "Of course, they always
come on the same day of the week. What do you mean, Father?"
"I mean just what I say; that Christmas Day and New Year's Day do not
fall on the same day of the week this year."
"Why, Daddy, you're crazy!" said Marjorie, "Isn't Christmas coming on
"Yes, my child."
"Well, isn't New Year's Day the following Thursday?"
"Yes, but that's _next_ year. New Year's Day of _this_ year was nearly
twelve months ago and was on Wednesday."
"Oh, Father, what a sell! of course I meant this _winter_."
"Well, you didn't say so. You said this _year_."
"It's a good joke," said King, thinking it over. "I'll fool the boys with
it, at school."
The Maynards were a busy crowd during the short week that intervened
From Mr. Maynard, who was superintending plans for his own family and for
many beneficiaries, down to the cook, who was making whole shelves full
of marvelous dainties, everybody was hurrying and skurrying from morning
The children had completed their gifts for their parents and for each
other, and most of them were already tied in dainty tissue papers and
holly ribbons awaiting the festal day.
Now they were making gifts for the poor family of Simpsons, and they
seemed to enjoy it quite as much as when making the more costly presents
for each other.
Marjorie came home from school at one o'clock, and as Mrs. Maynard had
said she needn't practise her music any more until after the holidays,
she had all her afternoons and the early part of the evenings to work at
the Christmas things.
She was especially clever with scissors and paste, and made lovely
scrap-books by cutting large double leaves of heavy brown paper. On these
she pasted post-cards or other colored pictures, also little verses or
stories cut from the papers. Eight of these sheets were tied together by
a bright ribbon at the back, and made a scrap-book acceptable to any
child. Then, Marjorie loved to dress paper dolls. She bought a dozen of
the pretty ones that have movable arms and feet, and dressed them most
picturesquely in crinkled paper and lace paper. She made little hats,
cloaks and muffs for them, and the dainty array was a fine addition to
the Simpson's box.
Kitty, too, made worsted balls for the Simpson babies, and little lace
stockings, worked around with worsted, which were to be filled with
With Mrs. Maynard's help, they dressed a doll for each Simpson girl, and
King sawed out a picture puzzle for each Simpson boy.
Then, a few days before Christmas they all went to work and made candies.
They loved to do this, and Mrs. Maynard thought home-made confectionery
more wholesome than the bought kind. So they spent one afternoon, picking
out nuts and seeding raisins, and making all possible beforehand
preparations, and the next day they made the candy. As they wanted enough
for their own family as well as the Simpsons, the quantity, when
finished, was rather appalling.
Pan after pan of cream chocolates, coconut balls, caramels, cream dates,
cream nuts, and chocolate-dipped dainties of many sorts filled the
shelves in the cold pantry.
And Marjorie also made some old-fashioned molasses candy with peanuts in
it, because it was a favorite with Uncle Steve.
The day before Christmas the children were all allowed to stay home from
school, for in the morning they were to pack the Christmas box for the
Simpsons and, in the afternoon, take it to them.
A WELCOME CHRISTMAS GIFT
The day before Christmas was a busy one in the Maynard household.
The delightful breakfast that Ellen sent to the table could scarcely be
eaten, so busily talking were all the members of the family.
"Come home early, won't you, Father?" said Marjorie, as Mr. Maynard rose
to go away to his business. "And don't forget to bring me that big
holly-box I told you about."
"As I've only thirty-seven other things to remember, I won't forget that,
chickadee. Any last orders, Helen?"
"No; only those I've already told you. Come home as early as you can, for
there's lots to be done, and you know Steve and Grandma will arrive at
Away went Mr. Maynard, and then the children scattered to attend to their
Both James the gardener and Thomas the coachman were handy men of all
work, and, superintended by Mrs. Maynard, they packed the more
substantial portions of the Simpson's Christmas donations.
It took several large baskets to hold the dinner, for there was a big,
fat turkey, a huge roast of beef, and also sausages and vegetables of
Then other baskets held bread and pie and cake, and cranberry jelly and
celery, and all the good things that go to make up a Christmassy sort of
a feast. Another basket held nuts and raisins and oranges and figs, and
in this was a big box of the candies the children had made. The baskets
were all decked with evergreen and holly, and made an imposing looking
Meantime King and Midget and Kitty were packing into boxes the toys and
pretty trifles that they had made or bought. They added many books and
games of their own, which, though not quite new, were as good as new.
A barrel was packed full of clothing, mostly outgrown by the Maynard
children, but containing, also, new warm caps, wraps and underwear for
the little Simpsons.
Well, all the things together made a fair wagon-load, and when Mr.
Maynard returned home about two o'clock that afternoon, he saw the
well-filled and evergreen trimmed wagon on the drive, only waiting for
his coming to have the horse put to its shafts.
"Hello, Maynard maids and men!" he cried, as he came in, laden with
bundles, and found the children bustling about, getting ready to go.
"Oh, Father," exclaimed Kitty, "you do look so Santa Claus-y! What's in
all those packages?"
"Mostly surprises for you to-morrow, Miss Curiosity; so you can scarcely
expect to see in them now."
"I do love a bundly Christmas," said Marjorie. "I think half the fun is
tying things up with holly ribbons, and sticking sprigs of holly in the
"Well, are we all aboard now for the Simpsons?" asked her father, as he
deposited his burdens in safe places.
"Yes, we'll get our hats, and start at once; come on, Kitty," and
Marjorie danced away, drawing her slower sister along with her.
Nurse Nannie soon had little Rosamond ready, and the tot looked like a
big snowball in her fleecy white coat and hood, and white leggings.
"Me go to Simpson's," she cried, in great excitement, and then Mrs.
Maynard appeared, and they all crowded into the roomy station-wagon that
could be made, at a pinch, to hold them all. James drove them, and Thomas
followed with the wagon-load of gifts.
The visit was a total surprise to the Simpson family, and when the
Maynards knocked vigorously at the shaky old door, half a dozen little
faces looked wonderingly from the windows.
"What is it?" said Mrs. Simpson, coming to the door, with a baby in her
arms, and other small children clinging to her dress.
"Merry Christmas!" cried Midget and King, who were ahead of the others.
But the cry of "Merry Christmas" was repeated by all the Maynards, until
an answering smile appeared on the faces of the Simpson family and most
of them spoke up with a "Merry Christmas to you, too."
"We've brought you some Christmas cheer," said Mr. Maynard, as the whole
six of them went in, thereby greatly crowding the small room where they
were received. "Mr. Simpson is not well, yet, I understand."
"No, sir," said Mrs. Simpson. "They do say he'll be in the hospital for a
month yet, and it's all I can do to keep the youngsters alive, let alone
gettin' Christmas fixin's for 'em."
"That's what we thought," said Mr. Maynard, pleasantly; "and so my wife
and children are bringing you some goodies to make a real Christmas feast
for your little ones."
"Lord bless you, sir," said Mrs. Simpson, as the tears came to her eyes.
"I didn't know how much I was missin' all the Christmas feelin', till I
see you all come along, with your 'Merry Christmas,' and your evergreen
"Yes," said Mrs. Maynard, gently, "at this season, we should all have the
'Christmas feeling,' and though I'm sorry your husband can't be with you,
I hope you and the children will have a happy day."
"What you got for us?" whispered a little Simpson, who was patting Mrs.
"Well, we'll soon show you." said Mr. Maynard, overhearing the child.
Then he opened the door and bade his two men bring in the things.
So James and Thomas brought them in, box after box and basket after
basket, until the Simpsons were well-nigh speechless at the sight.
"How kin we pay for it, Ma?" said one of the boys, who was getting old
enough to know what lack of funds meant.
"You're not to pay for it, my boy," said Mr. Maynard, "except by having a
jolly, happy day to-morrow, and enjoying all the good things you find in
these baskets." Then the Maynard children unwrapped some of the pretty
things they had made, and gave them to the little Simpsons.
One little girl of about six received a doll with a cry of rapture, and
held it close to her, as if she had never had a doll before. Then
suddenly she said, "No, I'll give it to sister, she never had a doll. I
did have one once, but a bad boy stole it."
"You're an unselfish little dear," cried Marjorie; "and here's another
doll for you. There's one for each of you girls."
As there were four girls, this caused four outbursts of joy, and when
Marjorie and Kitty saw the way the little girls loved the dollies, they
felt more than repaid for the trouble it had been to dress them. The
boys, too, were delighted with their gifts. Mr. Maynard had brought real
boys' toys for them, such as small tool chests, and mechanical
contrivances, not to mention trumpets and drums. And, indeed, the
last-named ones needed no mention, for they were at once put to use and
spoke for themselves.
"Land sakes, children! stop that hullabaloo-lam!" exclaimed Mrs. Simpson.
"How can I thank these kind people if you keep up that noise! Indeed, I
can't thank you, anyway," she added, as the drums were quiet for a
moment. "It's so kind of you,--and so unexpected. We had almost nothing
for,--for to-morrow's dinner, and I didn't know which way to turn."
Overcome by her emotion, Mrs. Simpson buried her face in her apron, but
as Mrs. Maynard touched her shoulder and spoke to her gently, she looked
up, smiling through her tears.
"I can't rightly thank you, ma'am," she went on, "but the Lord will bless
you for your goodness. I'm to see Mr. Simpson for a few moments
to-morrow, and when I tell him what you've done for us he'll have the
happiest Christmas of us all, though his sufferings is awful. But he was
heartsick because of our poor Christmas here at home, and the news will
cure him of that, anyway."
"I put in some jelly and grapes especially for him," said Mrs. Maynard,
smiling, though there were tears in her own eyes. "So you take them to
him, and give him Christmas greetings from us. And now we must go, and
you can begin at once to make ready your feast."
"Oh, yes, ma'am. And may all Christmas blessing's light on you and
"Merry Christmas!" cried all the Maynards as they trooped out, and the
good wish was echoed by the happy Simpsons.
"My!" said King, "it makes a fellow feel sober to see people as poor as
"It does, my boy," said his father; "and it's a pleasure to help those
who are truly worthy and deserving. Simpson is an honest, hard-working
man, and I think we must keep an eye on the family until he's about
again. And now, my hearties, we've done all we can for them for the
present; so let's turn our attention to the celebration of the Maynard's
Christmastide. Who wants to go to the station with me to meet Grandma and
"I!" declared the four children, as with one voice.
"Yes, but you can't all go; and, too, there must be some of the nicest
ones at home to greet the travellers as they enter. I think I'll decide
the question myself. I'll take Kitty and King with me, and I'll leave my
eldest and youngest daughters at home with Motherdy to receive the guests
when they come."
Mr. Maynard's word was always law, and though Marjorie wanted to go, she
thought, too, it would be fun to be at home and receive them when they
So they all separated as agreed, and Mrs. Maynard said they must make
haste to get dressed for the company.
Marjorie wore a light green cashmere, with a white embroidered _guimpe_,
which was one of her favorite frocks. Her hair was tied with big white
bows, and a sprig of holly was tucked in at one side.
She flew down to the living-room, to find baby Rosamond and her mother
already there. Rosy Posy was a Christmas baby indeed, all in white, with
holly ribbons tying up her curls, and a holly sprig tied in the bow. The
whole house was decorated with ropes and loops of evergreen, and stars
and wreaths, with big red bows on them, were in the windows and over the
The delicious fragrance of the evergreens pervaded the house, and the
wood fires burned cheerily. Mrs. Maynard, in her pretty rose-colored
house gown, looked about with the satisfied feeling that everything was
in readiness, and nothing had been forgotten.
At last a commotion was heard at the door, and Marjorie flew to open it.
They all seemed to come in at once, and after an embrace from Grandma,
Marjorie felt herself lifted up in Uncle Steve's strong arms.
"That's the last time, Midget," he said as he set her down again.
"There's too much of you for me to toss about as I used to. My! what a
big girl you are!"
"Toss me, Uncle Teve," said Rosy Posy, and she was immediately swung to
Uncle Steve's shoulder.
"You're only a bit of thistle-down. I could toss you up in the sky, and
you could sit on the edge of a star. How would you like that?"
"I'd ravver stay here," said Rosy Posy, nestling contentedly on her
perch. "'Sides, I _must_ be here for Kismus to-morrow."
"Oh, _is_ Christmas to-morrow? How could I have forgotten that?"
"You didn't forget it, Uncle Steve," said Kitty, "for I see bundles
sticking out of every one of your pockets!"
"Bless my soul! How odd! Santa Claus must have tucked them in, as I came
through his street. Well, I'll put them away until to-morrow. They're of
no use to-night."
"Put them in here, Steve," said Mrs. Maynard, opening a cupboard door,
for there was a possibility that the good-natured gentleman might be
persuaded to unwrap them at once.
Meantime Grandma was reviewing the small Maynards. Marjorie she had seen
in the summer, but the others had been absent a longer time.
"You've all grown," she said, "but I do believe I like you just as well
"Good for you, Grandma!" cried King. "'Most everybody says, 'Why, how
you've grown!' as if we had done something wrong."
"No, the more there is of my grandchildren, the more I have to love, so
go right on growing. Marjorie, Molly and Stella sent love to you, and
they also sent some little gifts which I will give you to-morrow."
The Maynards did not follow the custom of having their tree on Christmas
Mrs. Maynard thought it unwise, because the children often became so
excited over their gifts and their frolic that it was difficult for them
to settle down to sleep until "all hours."
So it was the rule to go to bed rather early on Christmas eve, and have a
long happy day to follow.
But the dinner, on the night before Christmas, always assumed a little of
the coming festivities. On this occasion, the table was decked with holly
and flowers, and the dishes were a little more elaborate and festive than
"Ice cream, oh, goody!" exclaimed Kitty, as dessert appeared. Kitty's
fondness for ice cream was a family joke, but all welcomed the little
Santa Clauses made of orange ice, and carrying trees of pistache cream.
After dinner a game of romps was allowed.
Mrs. Maynard, Grandma and Baby Rosy did not join in this, but went off by
themselves, leaving the living-room to the more enthusiastic rompers.
"Fox and Geese" was a favorite game, and though there were scarcely
enough of them to play it properly, yet that made it all the more fun,
and Uncle Steve and Mr. Maynard seemed to be little, if any, older than
Kingdon, as they scrambled about in the frolic. Then Kitty begged for
just one round of Puss in the Corner.
Kingdon and Midget thought this rather a baby game, but they willingly
deferred to Kitty's choice, and the grown up men were such foolish,
funny pussies in their corners that everybody fell a-laughing, and the
game broke up because they were too exhausted to play any more.
"Now to quiet down pleasantly, and then ho, for bed," said Mr. Maynard.
So when they had recovered their breath, Mrs. Maynard and Grandma
returned, Rosy Posy having already gone to her little crib. Mrs. Maynard
sat at the piano, and they all gathered round and sang Christmas carols.
The children had clear, true voices, and the grown-ups sang really well,
so it was sweet Christmas music that they made. They sang many of the old
English carols, for the children had sung them every Christmas eve since
they were old enough, and they knew them well.
Grandma loved to hear the music, and after it was over the three children
were kindly but firmly requested to retire.
"We hate awfully to have you go, dear friends," said Mr. Maynard. "We
shall be desolate, indeed, without your merry faces, but the time is
ripe. It's nine o'clock, and Christmas morning comes apace. So flee,
skip, skiddoo, vamoose, and exit! Hang up your stockings, and _perhaps_
Santa Claus may observe them. But hasten, for I daresay he's already on
Laughing at their father's nonsense, the children rather reluctantly
backed out of the room and dawdled upstairs.
But there was still the fun of hanging up their stockings, and then,
after that nothing more but to hurry to get to sleep that Christmas might
Rosy Posy's tiny socks were already in place, and soon three more pairs
of long, lank stockings were dangling emptily, and then, in a jiffy the
Maynard children were all asleep, and Christmas Day was silently drawing
nearer and nearer.
The sun waited just about as long as he could stand it on Christmas
morning, and then he poked his yellow nose above the horizon to see what
was going on. And everything that he saw was so merry and gay and full of
Christmas spirit, that he pushed the rest of himself up, and beamed
around in a glad smile of welcome and greeting. As he gave a flashing
glance in at the Maynard girls' window, his rays struck Marjorie full in
the face and wakened her at once. For a moment she blinked and winked and
wondered what day it was. Then she remembered, and with one bound she was
out of bed, and across the room to where Kitty was soundly sleeping.
It was a rule for the Maynard children never to waken one another, for
Mrs. Maynard believed that people, both young and old, need all the sleep
they can take, but Christmas morning was, of course, an exception, and
patting Kitty rather vigorously on her shoulder, Marjorie called out,
"Who?" said Kitty, drowsily, rubbing her eyes, as she sat up. "Oh, Mops!
you caught me! Merry Christmas, yourself! Let's go and catch King!"
Throwing on their dressing-gowns, and tucking their feet into bedroom
slippers, they ran to their brother's room, but King, also huddled into a
bath-robe, met them in the hall, and the gay greetings and laughter soon
woke any one else in the house who might have been asleep. Nurse Nannie,
with Rosy Posy, joined the group, and each clasping a pair of bulging,
knobby stockings, flew to the nursery, where this Christmas morning
ceremonial always took place.
A bright fire was blazing in the big fireplace, and in front of it, on a
white fur rug, the four sat down, while Nannie hovered around, ready to
inspect and admire, as she knew she would be called upon to do.
The big, light nursery was a delightful room, and with the morning
sunshine, the shining yellow floor, white-painted woodwork, and bright
fire-brasses, it seemed full of Christmas glow and warmth.
Grouped on the rug, the children immediately proceeded to the business of
emptying their stockings, and as the various things were pulled out and
exhibited, everybody oh'd and ah'd at everybody else, and they all began
to nibble at candies, and at last Christmas had really begun.
The gifts in their stockings were always of a pretty, but trifling
nature, as their more worth while presents were received later, from the
But there were always lots of little toys and trinkets, and always
oranges and nuts and candies, and always tin whistles and rattles, and
other noise-producing contraptions, so that soon the four grew gay and
noisy and Nurse was obliged to pick up Baby Rosamond, lest she should be
But perched in Nurse's lap, the little one waved a Christmas flag, and
blew on a tiny tin trumpet, and quite made her share of the general
hullaballoo. Marjorie had a new pencil-case, and some pretty
handkerchiefs, and an inkstand, and a silver bangle, and a little diary,
and some lovely hair-ribbons.
And King was rejoicing over a fountain pen, a pocket-knife, a silk
muffler, a rubber-stamp outfit, and some new gloves.
Kitty had a little pocket-book, a silver shoe-buttoner, a blank-book, a
pretty silk pincushion, and a bangle like Marjorie's.
Baby Rosy had dolls and toys, and what with the candies and other
goodies, there was a distracting array of Christmas all about.
"And to think the day has scarcely begun!" said Marjorie, with a sigh of
rapture, as she ate a cream date, at the same time twisting her wrist to
catch the glitter of her new bangle.
"Yes, but it's 'most half-past eight," said King, "and breakfast's at
nine. I'm going to skittle!"
He gathered up his new belongings, and with a sort of combination
war-whoop and "Merry Christmas," he scampered away to his room. The two
girls followed his example, and soon were busily dressing themselves and
helping each other.
Marjorie put on a scarlet cashmere, which, with the big red bows on her
hair, made her look very Christmassy, the effect being added to by holly
sprigs pinned on here and there. Kitty's frock was a sort of electric
blue, that suited her fair hair, and she, too, was holly-decked.
Then, after a hasty inspection of each other, to see that they were all
right, the girls skipped downstairs.
So expeditious had they been that not a Maynard was ahead of them, except
their father, who had just come down.
"Merry Christmas, girlies!" he cried, and just then everybody came down,
almost all at once, and the greetings flew about, as thick as a
snowstorm. Grandma Sherwood, in her soft grey breakfast-gown, beamed
happily at her brood of grandchildren, and soon they all gathered round
"I wish Christmas was seventy-two hours long, said Marjorie, whose
candies had not taken away her appetite for the specially fine breakfast
that was being served in honor of the day.
"But you'd fall asleep after twelve hours of it," said Uncle Steve; "so
what good would it do you?"
"I wouldn't!" declared King. "I could spend twelve hours having our
regular Christmas in the house; and then twelve more outdoors, skating or
something; and then twelve more--"
"Eating," suggested his father, glancing at King's plate. "Well, since we
can't have seventy-two hours of it, we must cram all the fun we can into
twelve. Who's for a run out of doors before we have our Christmas tree?"
The three older children agreed to this, and with Mr. Maynard and Uncle
Steve they went out for a brisk walk.
"Wish we could snowball," said King, as they returned, and stood for a
few moments on the verandah. "It's cold enough, but there no sign of
"Pooh, you don't have to have snow to play a game of snowballs!" said his
father. "Why didn't you say what you wanted sooner? You are such a
diffident boy! Wait a minute."
Mr. Maynard disappeared into the house, and returned with a large paper
bag filled with something, they did not know what.
"Come out on the lawn," he said, and soon they were all out on the brown,
dry, winter grass.
"Catch!" and then Mr. Maynard threw to one and another, some swift, white
balls. They were really white pop-corn balls, but at first they looked
The children caught on at once, and soon two or three dozen balls were
whizzing from each to each, and they had the jolliest game! The balls
were too light to hurt if they hit them, yet solid enough to throw well.
To be sure, they broke to bits after many tosses, but the game lasted a
half hour, and then Mr. Maynard declared that it was tree time.
"Sounds like tea-time," said Kitty, as they trooped in.
"Sounds a whole lot better than that!" said King.
The tree was in the living-room. It had been brought in, and trimmed
after the children went to bed the night before. So they had had no
glimpse of it, and were now more than eager to see its glories.
"Are we all here?" asked Mr. Maynard, as he looked over the group in the
hall, awaiting the opening of the doors.
"All but Uncle Steve," said Marjorie. "Why doesn't he come?"
"We won't wait for him," said Mr. Maynard, and he gave a loud knock on
the double doors of the living-room.
Like magic the doors flew open, and waiting to receive them was Santa
His jolly, smiling face was very red-cheeked, and his white hair and
beard streamed down over his red coat, which was of that belted
round-about shape that seems to be Santa Claus's. favorite fashion.
His red coat and trousers were trimmed with white fur and gold braid, and
his high boots were covered with splashes of white that _looked_ like
snow. He wore a fur trimmed red cap, and big gold-rimmed spectacles. The
latter, with the very red cheeks and long white beard, so changed Uncle
Steve's appearance that at first no one seemed to recognize him.
But they knew in a moment, and Marjorie grasped one hand and Kitty the
other, as they cried out:
"Hello, Uncle Santa Claus! how did you get so snowy?"
"I came down from the arctic regions, my dears," said the smiling saint,
"and up there we have perpetual snow."
"It seems to be perpetual on your boots," observed King; "I'm sure it
won't melt off at all!"
"Yes, it's first-class snow," agreed Santa Claus, looking at his boots,
which were really splashed with white-wash. "And here's little Miss Rosy
Posy," he continued, picking up the baby, who, at first, was a little shy
of the strange-looking figure. "This is the very little girl I've come to
see, and she must pick something off the tree!"
Rosy Posy recognized Uncle Steve's voice now, and contentedly nestled in
his arms as he carried her to the tree. And such a tree as it was!
It reached to the ceiling, and its top boughs had been cut off to get it
in the room at all.
The blinds had been closed, and the shades drawn, in order that the
illuminations of the tree might shine out brightly, and the gorgeous
sight quite took the children's breath away.
The big tree was in the end of the room, and not only did sparkling
tinsel rope deck the green branches, but its strands also reached out to
the wall on either side, so that the tree seemed to be caught in an
immense silver spider-web. Sparkling ornaments decked every limb and
twig, and shining among them were hundreds of tiny electric lights of
Many beautiful presents hung on the tree, without wrappings of any sort
to hide their pretty effect, and many more gifts, tied in be-ribboned
papers, lay on the floor beneath.
Altogether, it looked as if the whole end of the room were a sort of
glittering fairyland, and the children promptly agreed it was the most
beautiful tree they had ever had.
As Santa Claus held Baby Rosamond up to select for herself a gift from
the tree, he held her so that she faced a big doll, almost as large as
"Oh, that will be my dollie!" she announced, holding out her little arms.
The big doll was detached from its perch and handed to the child, who ran
to nurse with her treasure, and would not be parted from it all day long.
Then said Santa Claus: "Marjorie, next, may come and choose anything she
would like to use."
He offered his arm, and, with exaggerated ceremony, led Midget to the
She was a little bewildered by the glitter, and the variety of gifts
hanging about, but she spied a lovely muff and boa of fluffy white fur
that she felt sure must be meant for her.
At any rate they were her choice, and Santa Claus gave them to her with
hearty assurance that she had chosen well.
Then he announced: "Next, of course, is little Kitty. Choose, my dear!
Take something pretty!"
Kitty advanced slowly. She knew well what she wanted, but she didn't see
it on or under the tree.
Santa Claus watched her roving eyes and then said: "If you don't like
what you see, look around behind the tree!"
So Kitty peered around, and sure enough, almost hidden by the strands of
tinsel, there stood a bookcase.
"I'll choose that!" she cried, in glee, and Mr. Maynard and Santa Claus
pulled it out into view. It was the adjustable kind, with glass fronts,
and Kitty had long desired just such a one for her room.
"Isn't it beautiful!" she exclaimed, sitting down on the floor to examine
it, and to imagine how it would look filled with story books.
"Now, Sir Kingdon, approach," called out Santa Claus; "carefully scan the
branches o'er, and help yourself from its ample store!"
King came toward the tree, eying it carefully in search of something he
wanted very much, yet scarcely dared hope for.
But, half hidden by a paper fairy, he spied a gleam of gold, and pounced
upon the dream of his heart, a gold watch!
"This will do me!" he said, beaming with delight, at the fine time-piece,
with its neat fob. It was a handsome affair for a boy of fourteen; but
King was careful of his belongings, and Mr. Maynard had decided he could
be trusted with it.
Then the elder people received gifts from each other and from the
children, and then everybody began to open bundles, and "thank you's"
flew around like snowflakes, and tissue paper and gay ribbons were knee
deep all over the floor.
"I didn't know there were so many presents in the world!" said Marjorie,
who sat blissfully on an ottoman, with her lap full of lovely things, and
more on the floor beside her. Grandma had brought her an unset pearl.
This was not a surprise, for Grandma had given her a pearl every
Christmas of her life, and when the time came for her to wear them, they
were to be made into a necklace.
Uncle Steve had brought her a bureau set of ivory, with her monogram on
the brushes, and the children gave her various trinkets.
Then Stella and Molly had sent gifts to her, and Gladys and some of the
other school girls had also sent Christmas remembrances, with the result
that Midget was fairly bewildered at her possessions. The others too, had
quantities of things, and Uncle Steve declared that he really had spilled
his whole sack at this house, and he must rescue some of the things to
take to other children. But he didn't really do this, and the Maynards,
as was their custom, arranged their gifts on separate tables, and spent
the morning admiring and discussing them.
At two o'clock they had the Christmas feast.
Nurse Nannie played a gay march on the piano, and Mr. Maynard, offering
his arm to Grandma, led the way to the dining-room. King, escorting Rosy
Posy, walked next, followed by Midget and Kitty. Last of all came Mrs.
Maynard and Uncle Steve.
The dining-table was almost as beautiful as the Christmas tree. Indeed,
in the centre of it was a small tree, filled with tiny, but exquisite
decorations, and sparkling with electric lights. The windows had been
darkened, and the shining tree blazed brilliantly.
The table was decorated with red ribbons and holly and red candles, and
red candle shades and everybody had red favours and red paper bells.
"I feel like a Robin Redbreast," said Marjorie; "isn't it all beautiful!
Did you do it, Mother?"
"Yes, with Sarah's help," said Mrs. Maynard, for her faithful and clever
little waitress was of great assistance in such matters.
"It's like eating in an enchanted palace," said Kitty. "Everything is so
bright and sparkly and gleaming; and, oh! I'm _so_ hungry!"
"Me, too!" chimed in the other young Maynards, and then they proceeded to
do ample justice to the good things Ellen sent in in abundance.
But at last even the young appetites were satisfied, and while the elders
sipped their coffee in the library, the children were sent off to play by
The baby was turned over to Nurse Nannie, and the other three tumbled
into their wraps and ran out of doors to play off some of their exuberant
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
"It's been a gay old week, hasn't it?" said Marjorie, on New Year's Eve.
"You bet!" cried King, who sometimes lapsed from the most approved
diction. "Wish it was just beginning. We had fine skating till the snow
came, and ever since, it's been bang-up sleighing. Well, only four more
days, and then school, school, school!"
"Don't remind me of it!" said Marjorie with a groan. "I wish I was a Fiji
or whatever doesn't have to go to school at all!"
"Oh, pshaw, Midge; it isn't so bad after you get started. Only holidays
make you so jolly that it's hard to sit down and be quiet."
"It's always hard for me to sit down and be quiet," said Midge. "If
they'd let me walk around, or sit on the tables or window-sills, I
wouldn't mind school so much. It's being cramped into those old desks
that I hate."
Poor little Marjorie, so active and restless, it was hard for her to
endure the confinement of the schoolroom.
"Why don't you ask mother to let you go to boarding-school, Mops?" asked
Kitty, with an air of having suggested a brilliant solution of her
Marjorie laughed. "No, thank you, Kitsie," she said. "What good would
that do? In the school hours I s'pose I'd have to sit as still as I do
here, and out of school hours I'd die of homesickness. Imagine being away
off alone, without all of you!"
Kitty couldn't imagine anything like that, so she gave it up.
"Then I guess you'll have to go to school, same's you always have done."
"I guess I will," said Marjorie, sighing. "But there's a few more days'
holiday yet, and I'm not going to think about it till I have to. What
shall we do to-night? It's the last night of the old year, you know."
"I wonder if they'd let us sit up and see it out," said King.
"We never have," returned Marjorie; "I don't believe Mother'd say yes,
though maybe Father would."
"If he does, Mother'll have to," said Kitty, with a knowledge born of
experience. "Let's ask 'em."
"It's almost bed-time now," said King, glancing at the clock; "but I'm
not a bit sleepy."
The others declared they were not, either, and they all went in search of
their parents. They found them in the library, with Uncle Steve and
Grandma, who were still visiting them.
"Sit the old year out!" exclaimed Mr. Maynard, when he heard their
request. "Why, you're almost asleep now!"
"Oh, we're not a bit sleepy!" protested Marjorie. "Do, Daddy, dear, let
us try it,--we never have, you know."
"Why, I've no objections, if Mother hasn't."
Mrs. Maynard looked as if she didn't think much of the plan, but Uncle
Steve broke in, saying:
"Oh, let them, of course! It can't do them any harm except to make them
sleepy to-morrow, and they can nap all day if they like."
"Yes, let them do it," said Grandma, who was an indulgent old lady. "But
I'm glad I don't have to sit up with them."
"I too," agreed Mr. Maynard. "I used to think it was fun, but I've seen
so many New Years come sneaking in, that it's become an old, old story."
"That's just it, sir," said King, seeing a point of vantage. "We haven't,
you know, and we'd like to see just how they come in."
"Well," said his father, "where will you hold this performance? I can't
have you prowling all over the house, waking up honest people who are
abed and asleep."
"You must take the nursery," said Mrs. Maynard. "I wouldn't let you stay
downstairs alone, but you may stay in the nursery as late as you like. I
daresay by ten or half-past, you'll be glad to give it up, and go to your
"Not we," said King. "Thank you, heaps, for letting us do it. We're going
to have a fine time. Come on, girls!"
"One minute, King; you're not to make any noise after ten-thirty. Grandma
goes to her room then, and the rest of us soon after."
"All right, we won't. It isn't going to be a noisy party, anyhow."
"Then I don't see how it can be a Maynard party," said Uncle Steve,
quizzically, but the children had run away.
"Now, we'll just have the time of our lives!" said King, as the three of
them reached the nursery.
"Of course we will," agreed Marjorie. "What shall we do?"
"Let's see, it's nine o'clock. We can play anything till half-past ten;
after that we can only do quiet things. Let's play Blind Man's Buff."
"All right, you be _it_."
So King was blindfolded, and he soon caught Kitty, who soon caught
Midget, and then she caught King again. But it wasn't very much fun, and
nobody quite knew why.
"It makes me too tired," said Kitty, throwing herself on the couch, and
fanning her hot little face with her handkerchief. "Let's play a sit-down
"But we can play those after we have to be quiet," objected King. "Get
up, Kit, you'll fall asleep if you lie there."
"No, I won't," said Kitty, opening her eyes very wide, but cuddling to
the soft pillow.
"Yes, you will, too! Come on. Let's play 'animals.' That's noisy enough,
and you can sit down too."
"Animals" was a card game where they sat round a table, and as occasion
required assumed the voices of certain animals.
"All right," said Kitty, jumping up; "I'll be the Laughing Hyena."
"I'll be a Lion," said King, and Marjorie decided to be a Rooster.
Soon the game was in full swing, and as the roar of the lion, the crowing
of the rooster, and the strange noise that represented Kitty's idea of
the hyena's mirth, floated downstairs, the grown-ups smiled once more at
the irrepressible spirits of the young Maynards. But after they had
roared and crowed and laughed for what seemed like an interminable time,
King looked at his Christmas watch and exclaimed:
"Goodness, girls! it's only half-past nine! I though it was about
"So did I," said Marjorie, trying to hide a yawn.
"Oh, I say, Mops, you're sleepy!"
"I am not, either! I just sort of--sort of choked."
"Well, don't do it again. What shall we play now?"
"Let's sing," said Kitty.
So Marjorie banged away on the nursery piano, and they sang everything
they could think of.
"I can't play another note," said Midget, at last. "My fingers are
perfectly numb. Isn't it nearly twelve?"
"Isn't ten," said King, closing his watch with a snap. "We've only a
half-hour more before we've got to be quiet, so let's make the most of
"I'm hungry," said Kitty. "Can't we get something to eat?"
"Good idea!" said King. "Let's forage for some things, and bring them up
here, but don't eat them until later. After half-past ten, you know."
So they all slipped down to the pantry, and returned with a collection of
apples and cookies, which they carefully set aside for a later luncheon.
"Only twenty minutes left of our noisy time," said King, with a
suspicious briskness in his tone. "Come on, girls, let's have a racket."
"There's no racket to me!" declared Kitty, throwing herself on the couch;
"Quiet!" exclaimed her brother. "Kit Maynard, if you're sleepy, you can
go to bed! You're too young to sit up with Midge and me, anyhow!"
This touched Kitty in a sensitive spot, as he knew it would.
"I'm not!" she cried, indignantly; "I'm as old as you are, so there!"
King didn't contradict this, which would seem to prove them both a bit
"You are, Kitty!" said Marjorie, laughing; "you're older than either of
us! So you tell us what to do to keep awake!"
It was out! Marjorie had admitted that they were sleepy.
King grinned a little sheepishly. "Pooh," he said, "it'll pass over if we
just get interested in something. Let's read aloud to each other."
"That always puts me to sleep," said Kitty, with a fearful and
"Kit! if you do that again, we'll put you out! Now, brace up,--or else go
Kitty braced up. Indeed, Kitty had special powers in this direction, if
she chose to exercise them.
"Pooh, I can brace up better than either of you," she said, confidently;
"and here's how I'm going to do it."
She went over to the big nursery washstand, and turning the cold water
faucet, ran the bowl full, and then plunged her face and hands in.
"Kit, you're a genius!" cried her brother, in admiration, as she came up,
spluttering, and then made another dash. Soon Kitty's face was hidden in
the folds of a rough towel, and the others successively followed her
"My! how it freshens you!" said Marjorie, rubbing her rosy cheeks till
they glowed. "I'm as wide awake as anything!"
"So'm I," said King. "Kit, I take off my hat to you! Now it's half-past
ten. I move we eat our foods, and then we can have a good time playing
parcheesi or jack-straws."
They drew up to the nursery table, and endeavored to enjoy the cookies
"How funny things taste at night," said Kitty. "I'm not hungry, after
"You'd better wash your face again," said Marjorie, looking at her
sister's drooping eyelids.
"Do something to her," said King, in despair.
So Marjorie tickled Kitty, until she made her laugh, and that roused her
"I won't go to sleep," she said, earnestly; "truly, I won't. I want to
see the New Year come. Let's look out the window for it."
Kitty's plans were always good ones.
Drawing the curtains aside the three stood at the window, their arms
about each other.
"Isn't it still?" whispered Marjorie, "and look at the moon!"
A yellow, dilapidated-looking, three-quarter sort of a moon was sinking
in the west, and the bark branches of the trees stood out blackly in the
The roads gleamed white, and the shrubbery looked dark, the whole
landscape was weird and unlike the sunny scenes they knew so well.
"I s'pose everybody in the house is abed now, but us," said King. He
meant it exultantly, but his voice had a tone of awe, that found an echo
in the girls' hearts.
"Come away from the window," said Midge; turning back to the brightly
lighted room. "Let's think of something nice to do."
"I can think better here," said Kitty, dropping heavily on the couch, her
head, by good luck; striking squarely in the middle of the pillow.
"Kit," said her brother,--"Kitty,--you,--you go to bed,--if you--if you
As King spoke, he came across a big armchair, and quite unintentionally
he let himself fall into it. It felt very pleasant, somehow,--so much so,
indeed, that he neglected to finish his admonition to Kitty, and she
wouldn't have heard it if he had!
Marjorie, by a strange coincidence, also met a most friendly Morris
chair, which held out inviting arms. It seemed a pity to refuse such
cordiality, so Marjorie sat down in it a minute to do that thinking
they had spoken about. What was it they were to think of? Something
about the moon? No, that wasn't it. Her new furs? Not quite;
These thoughts drifted confusedly about Marjorie's brain for a few
moments, and then, with a little tired sigh, her curly head dropped back
on the Morris chair's velvet cushion, and her eyes closed.
How those three children _did_ sleep! The sound, hard sleep that only
healthy, romping children know. When Mrs. Maynard softly opened the door
a little later, she almost laughed aloud at the picturesque trio.
But stifling her mirth lest she awake them, she called her husband to her
side. After a few whispered words, they went away, and returned with down
quilts and steamer rugs, which they gently tucked about the vanquished
heroes, and then lowering the lights left them asleep at their posts.
For an hour the children slept soundly, and then, at ten minutes before
twelve the nursery door was softly opened again.
This time, Mr. and Mrs. Maynard, accompanied by Grandma Sherwood and
Uncle Steve, came in, apparently with the intention of staying. Mr.
Maynard snapped on the lights, and the grownups smiled as they gazed on
the faces of the sleeping children.
"What time is it, Fred?" asked Mrs. Maynard.
"Seven minutes of twelve."
"Waken them, then. There isn't any too much time."
So Mr. Maynard sprung a small "watchman's rattle." It made a pleasant
whirr, but he was obliged to hold it near each child's ear before those
deep slumbers were disturbed.
"What is it?" said King, who first opened his eyes. "Kitty, you're
His last waking thought possessed him as his eye fell on his sleeping
sister, he spoke before he realized that he had been asleep himself.
"What's the matter?" he said, seeing all the people standing about, and
noticing the rug over himself.
"Nothing's the matter," answered his father, blithely, "only the New Year
is hurrying toward us, and we all want to greet it together."
"You bet we do!" cried King, now broad awake, and shaking himself out of
his rug as he jumped up.
Mrs. Maynard was rousing Kitty, and sat beside the half-asleep child with
her arm round her, while Grandma was treating Marjorie in the same way.
"It seems a shame," began Grandma, but Uncle Steve interrupted:
"A shame to wake them? Not a bit of it! It would be a shame to let them
sleep through a chance that they won't get again for a year! Hello!
chickabiddies! Hello! Wake up! Fire! Murder! Thieves! Fred, give me that
Taking the noisy little toy, Uncle Steve sprang it vigorously, and was
rewarded for his efforts by seeing the two girls at last on their feet
and smiling broadly,--wide awake now, indeed.
"Five minutes grace," said Mr. Maynard. "Out with your watches, you who
have them. The rest look on with somebody else."
Kitty ran to her father's side, and cuddled in his arm, as she looked at
his watch. Marjorie saw Uncle Steve's smile inviting her, so she flew
across the room to him; and King politely offered his watch to his mother
and grandmother, saying the nursery clock would do for him.
Care was taken to have all the time-pieces set exactly alike, and then it
was three minutes of midnight, and they waited.
"He'll come in at the window, the New Year will," said Mr. Maynard as he
flung the casement wide open. "The old year is going. Bid him good-bye,
children, you'll never see him again. Good-bye, old year, good-bye!"
"Good-bye, old year, good-bye!" they all said in concert, and murmured it
again, as the last seconds flew steadily by.
"Happy New Year!" shouted Mr. Maynard, as his second-hand reached the
mark, but he was no quicker than the others, and all the voices rang out
a "Happy New Year" simultaneously.
Then the village clock began to strike twelve, all the bells in the
little town began to ring, some firing was heard, and shouts from
passers-by in the streets added to the general jubilee.
"Isn't it splendid!" cried Marjorie, as she leaned out of the window.
"The moon is gone, but see the bright, bright stars, all twinkling 'Happy
New Year' to us!"
"May it indeed be a Happy New Year for you, my dear child," said her
father, as he kissed her tenderly.
And then everybody was exchanging kisses and greetings, and good wishes,
and Marjorie realized that at last, she had sat up to "see the New Year
"But I don't see how we happened to fall asleep," she said, looking
"I, either," said King; "I was just bound I wouldn't, and then I did."
"You were bound I shouldn't, too," said Kitty, "but I did!"
"You all did!" said Mr. Maynard. "Such sleeping I never saw!"
"Well, it was lovely of you to wake us up," said Marjorie; "I wouldn't
have missed all this for anything."
"All things come to him who waits," said her father, "and you certainly
waited very quietly and patiently!"
"And now, skip to bed," said Mrs. Maynard, "and not until three hundred
and sixty-five nights are passed, do we have such a performance as this
"All right," said the children, "good-night, and Happy New Year!"
"Good-night and Happy New Year!" echoed the grown-ups.
A TEARFUL TIME
The New Year was about a week old, and so far, had nobly fulfilled all
hopes of happiness.
To be sure, Marjorie had been obliged to begin school again, but as she
had the companionship of Gladys Fulton, who dearly loved to go to school,
it helped her to bear the trial.
She had been to spend the afternoon with Gladys and was returning home at
five o'clock, as was the rule for winter days.
She turned in at her own gate-way, and had there been any one to see her,
it might have been noticed that her demeanor and expression were very
unlike the usual appearance of gay, laughing Marjorie Maynard.
In fact, she looked the picture of utter despair and dejection. Her head
hung down, her steps were slow, and yet she seemed filled with a riot of
Her face was flushed and her eyes red, and though not exactly crying,
great shivering sobs now and then shook her whole body.
Once inside her own home grounds, she quickened her pace a little, and
almost ran up the verandah steps and in at the door.
She slammed it behind her, and though, I am sorry to say, this was not an
unusual proceeding for Midget, yet she was truly trying to break herself
of the habit.
But this time she gave the door a hard, angry slam, and flinging her
wraps anywhere, as she went along, she brushed hastily through the
various rooms in search of her mother.
But Mrs. Maynard and Kitty had gone out driving, and King wasn't at home,
either, so poor Marjorie, her eyes now blinded with surging tears,
stumbled on to her own room, and threw herself, sobbing, on her little
She buried her face in the pillow and gave way to such tumultuous grief
that the brass bedstead fairly shook in sympathy.
"I can't bear it!" she murmured, half aloud; "I _can't_ bear it! It's a
wicked shame! I don't Want to live any more! Oh, I _wish_ Mother would
For nearly half an hour Marjorie cried and cried. Now with big, bursting,
heart-rending sobs, and at quieter intervals, with floods of hot tears.
Her little handkerchief became a useless, wet ball, and she dried her
eyes, spasmodically, on various parts of the pillow-case.
At last, in one of her paroxysms of woe, she felt a little hand on her
cheek, and Rosy Posy's little voice said, sweetly:
"What 'e matter, Middy? Wosy Posy loves 'oo!"
This was a crumb of comfort, and Marjorie drew the baby's cool cheek
against her own hot one.
The child scrambled up on the bed, beside her sister, and petted her
"Don't ky, Middy; 'top kyin'."
"Oh, Rosy Posy, I'm so miserable! where is Mother?"
"Muvver dawn yidin'. Wosy take care of 'oo. Want Nannie?"
"No, I don't want Nannie. You stay here, little sister, till Mother
"Ess. Wosy 'tay wiv Middy. Dear Middy."
The loving baby cuddled up to her sister, and smoothed back the tangled
curls with her soft little hand, until exhausted Marjorie, quite worn out
with her turbulent storm of tears, fell asleep.
And here Mrs. Maynard found them, as, coming in soon, she went in search
of her eldest daughter.
"Why, Baby," she said; "what's the matter? Is Marjorie sick?"
"No," said Rosamond, holding up a tiny finger. "She's aseep. She kied and
kied, Middy did, an' nen she went seepy-by, all herself."
"Cried!" exclaimed Mrs. Maynard, looking at Midget's swollen,
tear-stained face. "What was she crying about?"
"I donno," answered Rosy, "but she feeled awful bad 'bout somefin'."
"I should think she did! You run away to Nurse, darling; you were good
Baby to take care of Midget, but, now, run away and leave her to Mother."
Mrs. Maynard brought some cool water and bathed the flushed little face,
and then sprinkling some violet water on a handkerchief she laid it
lightly across Midget's brow. After a time the child woke, and found her
mother sitting beside her.
"Oh, Mother!" she cried; "oh, Mother!"
"What is it, dearie?" said Mrs. Maynard, putting her arms round Marjorie.
"Tell Mother, and we'll make it all right, somehow."
She was quite sure Miss Mischief had been up to some prank, which had
turned out disastrously. But it must have been a serious one, and perhaps
there were grave consequences to be met.
"Oh, Mother, it's the most dreadful thing!" Here Marjorie's sobs broke
out afresh, and she really couldn't speak coherently.
"Never mind," said Mrs. Maynard, gently, fearing the excitable child
would fly into hysterics. "Never mind it to-night. Tell me about it
"N-no,--I w-want to tell you now,--only,--I c-can't talk. Oh, Mother,
what shall I d-do? G-Gladys--"
"Yes, dear; Gladys,--what did she do? Or perhaps you and Gladys--"
Mrs. Maynard now surmised that the two girls were in some mischievous
scrape, and she felt positive that Marjorie had been the instigator, as
indeed she usually was.
"Oh, Mother, darling," as something in Mrs. Maynard's tone made Marjorie
smile a little through her tears, "it isn't _mischief_! It's a thousand
times worse than that!"
Middy was quieter now, with the physical calm that always follows a storm
"It's this; Gladys is going away! Forever! I mean, they're _all_ going to
move away,--out west, and I'll never see her again!"
Mrs. Maynard realized at once what this meant to Marjorie. The girls were
such good friends, and neither of them cared so much for any one else, as
for each other. The Fultons lived just across the street, and had always
lived there, through both the little girls' lives. It was almost like
losing her own brother or sister, for Marjorie and Gladys were as
lovingly intimate as two sisters could be.
Also, it seemed a case where no word of comfort or cheer could be spoken.
So Mrs. Maynard gently caressed her troubled child, and said:
"My poor, darling Midget; I'm _so_ sorry for you. Are you sure? Tell me
all about it."
"Yes, Mother," went on Marjorie, helped already by her mother's loving
sympathy; "they just told me this afternoon. I've been over there, you
know, and Gladys and Mrs. Fulton told me all about it. Mr. Fulton isn't
well, or something, and for his health, they're all going to California,
to live there. And they're going right away! The doctor says they must
hurry. And, oh, what _shall_ I do without Gladys? I love her so!"
"Dear little girl, this is your first trouble; and it has come to you
just in the beginning of this happy New Year. I can't tell you how sorry
I am for you, and how I long to help you bear it. But there's no way I
can help, except by sympathy and love."
"You _do_ help, Mother. I thought I'd _die_ before you came!"
"Yes, darling, I know my sympathy helps you, but I mean, I can't do
anything to lessen your sorrow at losing Gladys."
"No,--and oh, Mother, isn't it awful? Why, I've _always_ had Gladys."
"You'll have to play more with Kitty."
"Oh, of course I love Kit, to play with at home, and to be my sister. But
Glad is my chum, my intimate friend, and we always sit together in
school, and everything like that. Kitty's in another room, and besides,
she has Dorothy Adams for her friend. You know the difference between
friends and sisters, don't you, Mother?"
"Of course I do, Midget, dear. You and Kitty are two loving little
sisters, but I quite understand how you each love your friends of your
"And Kitty can keep Dorothy, but I must lose Gladys," and Marjorie's sobs
broke out anew.
"Why, Mopsy Midget Maynard! Why are we having April showers in January?"
Mr. Maynard's cheery voice sounded in Marjorie's doorway, and his wife
beckoned him to come in.
"See what you can do for our little girl," she said; "she is trying to
bear her first real trouble, and I'm sure, after these first awful hours
she's going to be brave about it."
"What is it, Mops?" said her father, taking the seat Mrs. Maynard
vacated. "Tell your old father-chum all about it. You know your troubles
are mine, too."
"Oh, Father," said Marjorie, brightening a little under the influence of
his strong, helpful voice; "Gladys Fulton is going away from Rockwell to
live; and I can't have her for my chum any more."
"Yes, I know; I saw Mr. Fulton and he told me. He's pretty ill,
"Yes, I know it; and I'm awful sorry for him, and for them. But I'm sorry
for myself too; I don't want Gladys to go away."
"That's so; you will lose your chum, won't you? By jiminy! it _is_ hard
lines, little girl. How are you going to take it?"
Marjorie stopped crying, and stared at her father.
"How am I going to take it?" she said, in surprise.
"Yes; that's what I asked. Of course, it's a sorrow, and a deep one, and
you'll be very lonely without Gladys, and though your mother and I, and
all of us, will help you all we can, yet we can't help much. So, it's up
to you. Are you going to give way, and mope around, and make yourself
even more miserable than need be; or, are you going to be brave, and
honestly try to bear this trouble nobly and patiently?"
Marjorie looked straight into her father's eyes, and realized that he was
not scolding or lecturing her, he was looking at her with deep, loving
sympathy that promised real help.
"I will try to bear it bravely," she said, slowly; "but, Father, that
doesn't make it any easier to have Gladys go."
Mr. Maynard smiled at this very human sentiment, and said:
"No, Midget, dear, it doesn't, in one way; but in another way it does.
You mustn't think that I don't appreciate fully your sorrow at losing
Gladys. But troubles come into every life, and though this is your first,
I cannot hope it will be your last. So, if you are to have more of them,
you must begin to learn to bear them rightly, and so make them help your
character-growth and not hinder it."
"But, Father, you see Gladys helps my character a lot. She loves to go to
school, and I hate it. But if I go with her, and sit with her I don't
mind it so much. But without her,--oh how _can_ I go to school without
Again Marjorie wept as one who could not be comforted, and Mr. Maynard
realized it was truly a crisis in the little girl's life.
"Marjorie," he said, very tenderly, "it _is_ a hard blow, and I don't
wonder it is crushing you. Nor do I expect you to take a philosophical
view of it at present. But, my child, we'll look at it practically, at
least. Gladys _is_ going; nothing can change that fact. Now, for my sake,
as well as your own, I'm going to _ask_ you to be my own brave daughter,
and not disappoint me by showing a lack of cheerful courage to meet
"I don't want to be babyish, Father," said Midget, suddenly feeling
ashamed of herself.
"You're not babyish, dear; it's right and womanly to feel grief at losing
Gladys; but since it has to be, I want you to conquer that grief, and not
let it conquer you."
"I'll try," said Midge, wiping away some tears.
"You know, Marjorie, the old rhyme:
"'For every evil under the sun,
There is a remedy, or there's none;
If there is one, try to find it,
And if there is none, never mind it.'
"Now, I don't say 'never mind it' about this matter, but since there's no
remedy, do the best you can to rise above it, as you will have to do many
times in your future years."
"Father," said Marjorie, thoughtfully; "that sounds awful noble, but I
don't believe I quite understand. What can I _do_ to 'rise above it'?"
"Marjorie, you're a trump! I'd rather you'd be practical, than wise. And
there's no better weapon with which to fight trouble than practicality.
Now, I'll tell you what to do. And I don't mean today or tomorrow, for
just at first, you wouldn't be a human little girl if you _didn't_ nearly
cry your eyes out at the loss of your friend. But soon,--say about next
Tuesday,--if you could begin to smile a little, and though I know it will
be hard, smile a little wider and wider each day--"
"Till the top of my head comes off?" said Marjorie, smiling already.
"Yes; theoretically. But make up your mind that since Gladys must go,
you're not going to let the fact turn you into a sad, dolorous mope
instead of Mops."
"That's all very well at home, Father dear, but I'll miss her so at
"Of course you will; but is there any remedy?"
"No, there isn't. I don't want any other seat-mate, and I don't want to
"Oh! Well, I can't see any way out of that, unless I go and sit with
Marjorie had to laugh at this. "You couldn't squeeze in the space," she
"Well, then you've proved there's _no_ remedy. So, never mind it! I mean
that, dearie. When you are lonely and just fairly _aching_ for Gladys,
put it bravely out of your mind."
"How can I?"
"Why, fill your mind with something else that will crowd it out. Say to
yourself, 'There's that sorrow poking his head up again, and I must push
him down.' Then go at something _hard_. Study your spelling, or go on a
picnic, _anything_ to crowd that persistent sorrow out."
"Can't I ever think of Gladys?"
"Oh, yes, indeed! but think gay, happy thoughts. If memories of your good
times make you sad, then cut them out, and wonder what sort of fun she's
having where she is. Write her nice, cheery letters. Letters are lots of
"Indeed they are," said Marjorie, brightening. "I'll love to get her
"Of course you will. And you can send each other postcards and little
gifts, and if you try you can have a lot of pleasure with Gladys in spite
of old sorrow."
"Daddy, you're such a dear! You've helped me a heap."
"That's what daddys are for, Midget mine. You're one of my four favorite
children, and don't you suppose I'd help you to the earth, if you wanted
"I 'spect you would. And, Father, you said I could cry till about
Tuesday, didn't you?"
"Why, yes; but make it a little shorter spell each day, and,--if
perfectly convenient, arrange to do it when I'm at home."
"Oh, Father, that's the time I won't cry! When you're here to talk to
"You don't say so! Then I'll retire from business, close up my office,
and stay at home all day hereafter. Anything I can do to help a lady in
distress, must be done!"
They were both laughing now, and Midge had quite stopped crying, though
her heart was heavy underneath her smiles.
But the whole current of her thoughts had been changed by her talk with
her father, and as she made herself tidy, and went down to dinner, she
felt a responsibility on her to act as became the brave daughter of such
a dear father.
And, strange to say, the feeling was not entirely unpleasant.
THE GOING OF GLADYS
Gladys was to go away early one Saturday morning.
On Friday afternoon Marjorie gave a little farewell party for her.
Mrs. Maynard arranged this as a pleasant send-off for Marjorie's friend,
and determined that though it was a sad occasion, it should be also a
So, instead of depending on the guests to make their own entertainment, a
professional entertainer had been engaged from New York, and he sang and
recited and did pantomimes that were so funny nobody could help laughing.
And, too, though all the children liked Dick and Gladys Fulton, yet none
felt so very sorry to have them leave Rockwell as Marjorie did.
Even Kingdon, though he was good chums with Dick, had other chums, and,
while sorry to have Dick go, he didn't take it greatly to heart.
Marjorie was truly trying to be brave, but she looked at Gladys with a
heart full of love and longing to keep her friend near her.
As for Gladys, herself, she, too, was sad at leaving Marjorie, but she
was so full of wonder and curiosity about the new home they were going
to, in the land of flowers and sunshine, that she was fairly impatient to
"Just think, Mopsy," she said, as the two girls sat together at the party
feast, "the roses out there are as big as cabbages, and bloom all the
"Are they really?" said Midget, interested in spite of herself.
"Yes, and I'll send you a big box of them as soon as I get there. They'll
keep all right, 'cause mother received a box the other day, and they were
as fresh as fresh."
"And you'll write to me, Glad, won't you?" said Marjorie, a little
"'Course I will! I'll write every week, and you write every week. What
day do you choose?"
"Monday; that comes first."
"All right. You write to me every Monday, and I'll write to you every
"You can't answer a Monday letter on Thursday," put in Gladys's brother
Dick; "it takes five or six days for a letter to go."
"Well, I'll write the Monday after you go," said Marjorie, "and then you
answer it as soon as you get it; then I'll answer yours as soon as I get
it, and so on."
"All right, I will. And I'll write you a letter while I'm on the train,
travelling. Of course we'll be five or six days getting there ourselves."
"So you will. Oh, Gladys, California is awful far away!"
"Yes, isn't it! But, Mops, maybe you can come out there and visit me some
Marjorie looked doubtful. "No," she said, "I don't think I could go and
leave them all, and I don't s'pose you mean for us all to come."
"No, I meant just you. Well, I'll come here and visit you, some time,
"Lovely!" cried Midge, with sparkling eyes. "Oh, will you, Gladys? That
will be something to look forward to. Will you?"
"Of course I will, Mops, dear. I know mother'll let me, and I'd love to
This was a real consolation, and Marjorie laid it up in her heart for
comfort on lonely days.
After the party supper was over, most of the young guests gave Gladys or
Dick little gifts which they had brought them as remembrances.
They were merely pretty trifles, but the Fulton children were greatly
pleased, and declared they should never forget their Rockwell friends for
any they might make in California.
Marjorie gave Gladys a gold neck-chain, with a little gold heart
containing her picture, and Gladys had already given Midge her own
portrait framed in silver to stand on her dressing-table. The young
guests all went away except the two Fultons, who were to stay to dinner.
Mr. Maynard came home, and with a determination to keep Marjorie's
spirits up, he was especially gay and nonsensical.
"I suppose Uncle Sam will have to put on extra mail service when you two
girls get to corresponding," he said.
"Yes, Mr. Maynard," said Gladys. "Marjorie and I are both going to write
every week, and I'm going to send her flowers by mail."
"Well, don't send any live rattlesnakes or Gila monsters in the mail.
They might starve on the way."
"I'd rather they'd starve on the way than reach here alive," said
Marjorie, with a little shudder.
"Do they have those things where you're going, Glad?"
"I don't know. Isn't it strange to be going to live in a place that you
don't know anything about?"
"It's strange to have you live anywhere but in Rockwell," said Marjorie,
and Gladys squeezed her hand under the table.
But at last the time came for the real farewells.
"Cut it short," cried Mr. Maynard, gaily, though there was a lump in his
own throat as Gladys and Marjorie threw their arms about each other's
neck for the last time.
The Fultons were to leave very early the next morning, and the girls
would not meet again.
Both were sobbing, and Dick and Kingdon stood by, truly distressed at
their sisters' grief.
"Come, dearie, let Gladys go now," said Mrs. Maynard, for knowing
Marjorie's excitable nature, she feared these paroxysms of tears.
"No, no! she shan't go!" Midge almost screamed, and Gladys was also in a
state of convulsive weeping.
Mr. Maynard went to Marjorie, and laid his big cool hand on her brow.
"My little girl," he whispered in her ear "father wants you to be brave
Midget look up into his dear, kind eyes, and then, with a truly brave
effort she conquered herself.
"I will, Father," she whispered back, and then, with one last embrace,
she said, "Good-bye, Gladys, dear Gladys, good-bye."
She let her go, and Dick took his sister's arm in silence, and they went
Both Mr. and Mrs. Maynard were somewhat shaken by the children's tragedy,
but neither thought it wise to show it.
"Now, Mopsy Moppet," said her father, "what do you think I have here?"
He took a parcel from the mantel, and held it up.