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Marjorie's New Friend by Carolyn Wells

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"Now, Marjorie," said the doctor, "you must bear this bravely. It is
hard, I know, but Mrs. Spencer is by far the greatest sufferer. Here she
is, with two children to look after, and her husband shut out from his
home, and her servants in a state of unreasoning terror. I think you two
girls should brace up, and help Mrs. Spencer all you can."

"I think so, t-too," said Midget, in a voice still choking with tears,
and then Delight began to cry.

Her crying wasn't a sudden outburst like Marjorie's, but a permanent sort
of affair, which she pursued diligently and without cessation.

Mrs. Spencer paid little attention to the two weeping children, for the
poor lady had other responsibilities that required her attention.

"What about Maggie, Doctor?" she asked.

"She must stay here, of course. And, as she can't go to a hospital, she
will probably prefer to stay here. Your waitress may desert you, but I
will tell her if she goes, it is in defiance of the law, and she will be
punished. I trust, Mrs. Spencer, that there will be no more illness here,
and the worst will be the inconvenience of this quarantine. At any rate
we will look at it that way, so long as there are no signs of infection.
Now, I will go over to the Maynards and explain matters to them, and I
will meet Mr. Spencer at the train, and he will telephone you at once.
Meantime, I will myself superintend the disinfection of this house. And
remember, while there is danger for the two little girls, I do not think
it probable that they will be affected."

"I hope not," said Mrs. Spencer, sighing. "And here's another thing,
Doctor. I expect a governess for Delight, a Miss Hart, who is to come
with Mr. Spencer on the train this evening. She should be warned."

"Yes, indeed. I'll meet them at the train, and attend to that for you.
Probably she'll remain at the hotel over night, and go back to the city

"She could go to our house to stay," said Marjorie. She was still crying,
but she loved to make plans. "Then she could telephone the lessons over
to Delight, and I could learn a little too. Oh, I won't have to go to
school for two weeks!"

This was a consolation, and the happy thought entirely stopped Marjorie's

Not so Delight. She cried on, softly, but steadily, until Midget looked
at her with real curiosity.

"What do you cry that way for, Delight?" she said. "It doesn't do any

Delight looked at her, but wept industriously on.

"Oh, come," said Midget, "let's look for the bright side. Let's pretend
I've come to visit you for two weeks, and let's have some fun out of this

"How can you talk so?" said Delight, through her tears. "We may both be
dead in two weeks."

"Nonsense!" cried Doctor Mendel; "no more of that sort of talk! If you're
so sure of having diphtheria, I'll send you to the hospital at once."

Delight did not know the doctor as well as Marjorie did, and this
suggestion frightened her.

She tried to stop crying, and smile, and she succeeded fairly well.

"That's better," said the doctor. "Now, I'm going across the street.
Marjorie, what message do you want to send your mother? Of course she'll
send over some clothes and things. You can have anything you want sent,
but don't have needless things, for they must all be disinfected later,
and it might harm your best clothes."

"Oh, I shan't want my best clothes, since we can't have company or
parties," said Midget, interested now, in spite of herself. "Tell Mother
to send my night things; and my red cashmere for to-morrow morning, and
my other red hair ribbons, and my pink kimono, and my worsted slippers,
and that book on my bureau, the one with the leaf turned down, and some
handkerchiefs, and--"

"There, there, child, I can't remember those things, and your mother will
know, anyway,--except about the book with the leaf turned down,--I'll
tell her that. And you can telephone her, you know."

"Oh, so I can! That will be almost like seeing her. Can't I telephone

"No, I'd rather tell her about it myself. Then I'll tell her to call you
up, and you can give her your list of hair ribbons and jimcracks."

"All right then. Hurry up, Doctor, so I can talk to her soon."

Doctor Mendel went away, and Marjorie and Delight sat and looked at each
other. Mrs. Spencer had gone to the kitchen to arrange for the comfort of
the distressed mother, and the little girls were trying to realize what
had happened.

"I'm glad you're here," said Delight, "for I'd be terribly lonely without
you, in all this trouble."

Midget was silent. She couldn't honestly say she was glad she was there,
and yet to say she was sorry seemed unkind.

"Well, as long as I am here," she said at last, "I'm glad you're glad.
It's all so strange! To be here staying in Gladys's house, and Gladys not
here, and I can't get away even if I want to,--why, I can't seem to get
used to it."

"It's awful!" said Mrs. Spencer, coming in from the kitchen. "I hope your
mother won't blame me, Marjorie; I'm sure I couldn't help it."

"Of course she won't blame you, Mrs. Spencer. She'll only be sorry for

"But she'll be so worried about you."

"Yes'm; I s'pose she will. But maybe, if I do take it, it will be a light

"Oh, don't talk of light cases! I hope you won't have it at all,--either
of you."

After what seemed to Marjorie a long time of waiting, her mother called
her up on the telephone.

"My dear little girl," said Mrs. Maynard, "how shall I get along without
you for two weeks?"

"Oh, Mother," said Marjorie, "you have the others, but I haven't anybody!
How shall I get along without you?"

Marjorie's voice was trembling, and though Mrs. Maynard was heart-broken
she forced herself to be cheerful for Midget's sake.

"Well, dearie," she said, "we must make the best of it. I'll telephone
you three times a day,--or at least, some of us will,--and I'll write you

"Oh, will you, Mother? That will be lovely!"

"Yes, I'll write you every day. You can receive letters although you
can't send any. Now, I want you to be my own brave little daughter, and
not only try to be cheerful and pleasant yourself, but cheer up Mrs.
Spencer and Delight."

"Yes, Mother, I will try. I feel better already, since I've heard your

"Of course you do. And Father will talk to you when he comes home, and
to-morrow Kitty and King can talk, and you'll almost feel as if you were
at home."

"Yes,--but oh, Mother, it's awful, isn't it?"

"No, it isn't awful at all, unless you get ill But we won't cross that
bridge until we come to it. Now, I'll send over a suitcase to-night, and
then I can send more things to-morrow."

"Yes, Mother. And put in your picture, won't you? The one on my
mantelpiece, I mean. Then I'll have it to kiss good-night to."

Mrs. Maynard's voice choked a little, but she said:

"Yes, dear, I will. Good-bye for now; we mustn't monopolize Mrs.
Spencer's telephone."

"Good-bye," said Midget, reluctantly, and hung up the receiver, feeling
that now she was indeed an exile from her home. But not long after, she
was called to the telephone again, and her father's cheery voice said:

"Why, Marjorie Midget Mopsy Maynard! What's this I hear about your
deserting your home and family?"

"Oh, Father dear, isn't it terrible!"

"Why, I don't know as it is. You'll have a fine visit with your little
friend, and you won't have to go to school, and I should think you'd have
a fine time! But some people are never satisfied!"

"Now, don't tease, Father. You know I'll just go crazy with homesickness
to see you all again!"

"Oh, well, if you really do go crazy, I'll put you in a nice pretty
little lunatic asylum that I know of. But before your mind is entirely
gone, I want you to have a good time with Delight, and I'll help all I

"I don't see how you can help much, if I can't see you."

"You don't, eh? Well, you'll find out, later on. But just now, I'm going
to give you three rules, and I want you to obey them. Will you?"

"Of course I will, Father. What are they?"

"First, never think for a moment that you're going to catch that sore
throat that the cook's little boy has. I don't think you are, and I don't
want to think so. Promise?"

"Yes, I promise. What next?"

"Next; never think that you're to stay over there two weeks. Never use
the words at all. Just think each day, that you're merely staying that
one night, and that you're just staying for fun. See?"

"Yes; I'll promise, but it won't be easy."

"Make it easy then. I'll help you. And third, don't feel sorry for

"Oh, Father, I do!"

"Well, don't! If you want to feel sorry for somebody, choose some one
else, a poor Hottentot, or a lame kangaroo, or even your old father. But,
mind, it's a rule, you're not to feel sorry for Marjorie Maynard."

"That's a funny rule. But I'll try to mind it."

"That's my own dear daughter. Now, to begin. As you're to stay with
Delight to-night, we're sending over your night things. Go to bed early
and sleep well, so you can wake bright and fresh and have fun playing all
day to-morrow."

All this sounded so gay and pleasant that Marjorie was really very much
cheered up, and replied gaily:

"All right, Daddy; I'll do just as you say. And will you call me up
to-morrow morning before you go to New York?"

"Yes, of course I will. Now, good-night,--just the same as a good-night
at home."

"Good-night, Father," and Midget hung up the receiver again.

By this time Delight had stopped her crying, and Mrs. Spencer had become
a little more resigned to the unpleasant state of things. The servants
had consented to stay, for the present, and their decision was more due
to Doctor Mendel's hints about the law, than their own loyalty to Mrs.

Then Doctor Mendel had met Mr. Spencer at the railroad station, and had
explained affairs to him.

Although it seemed very hard it was thought advisable by all interested,
that Mr. Spencer should not go to his home at all. His business, which
was large and important, required his presence every day, and to take two
weeks away from it just at that time would be disastrous in effect.

Mr. Maynard, who was present at the interview, invited Mr. Spencer to
stay at his home until the quarantine should be raised, and this offer of
hospitality was gratefully accepted.

"It seems only fair," said Mr. Maynard, "that we should entertain you, as
you have our Marjorie as a guest at your house."

"An unwilling guest, I fear," said Mr. Spencer, with a sad smile.

"But ready to make the best of it, as we all must be," rejoined Mr.



Miss Hart, Delight's new governess, who came out from New York with Mr.
Spencer, listened to the doctor's story with a grave face.

"And I think, Miss Hart," said Doctor Mendel, in conclusion, "that you
would better stay in Rockwell over night, and return to the city

"I _don't_ think so!" said Miss Hart, with such emphasis that the three
men looked at her in surprise.

"If you will go home with me," said Mr. Maynard, "Mrs. Maynard will give
you a warm welcome, and then you can decide to-morrow on your further

"No," said Miss Hart, who seemed to be a young woman of great decision of
character, "I shall go straight to Mrs. Spencer's. I am engaged to go
there to-night, and I want to go. I am not at all afraid of the
diphtheria, and as Delight is perfectly well, she can begin her lessons
just as we planned to do. This will keep her interested and prevent her
from worrying as much as if she were idle. And then, if anything should
happen, I will be there to assist Mrs. Spencer."

"Thank you, Miss Hart," said Mr. Spencer, shaking her hand. "You are a
noble woman, and I shall be so glad to have you there with my wife. I've
been trying to think how I could get a companion for her, but none of her
city friends would enter the house, nor could they be expected to. And,
of course, no Rockwell neighbors can go in. But you will be a tower of
strength, and I shall be immensely relieved to have you there."

Doctor Mendel was pleased too, at the turn affairs had taken, for he
feared Mrs. Spencer would break down under the nervous strain, if she had
to bear her trouble alone.

So when Mr. Maynard took Mr. Spencer to his own home, Doctor Mendel took
Miss Hart to Mrs. Spencer's.

"I've brought you another visitor," he cried, cheerily, as he entered the
quarantined house.

"Why, Doctor," said Mrs. Spencer, "you said nobody could come in!"

"No, not if they're to go out again. But Miss Hart has come to stay."

"Oh, how splendid!" cried Mrs. Spencer, "are you really willing to do

"Yes, indeed," answered Miss Hart. "And it looks to me as if I should
have two pupils instead of one." She looked kindly at Marjorie, who
smiled in return, though she did not at all feel sure that she wanted
lessons added to her other troubles.

But Miss Hart seemed to ignore the fact that there were any troubles for

She talked pleasantly, even gaily, with Mrs. Spencer. She chatted merrily
with Delight and Marjorie; and she even went out and spoke very kindly to
the afflicted Maggie. And it was partly due to her suggestions that Mary,
who was acting as cook, added some special dainties to the menu, and sent
up an unusually good dinner. The party that gathered round the table was
not a sad one, but this was due to the combined efforts of Miss Hart and

Midget remembered her father's rules, and pretended she was just staying
with the Spencers for one night. She was so fond of "pretending," that
this part came easy. Then she had put out of her mind the idea that she
might have the diphtheria, and moreover, she was trying really hard not
to be sorry for herself. In consequence of all this, she was gay and
merry, and she was helped to be so by Miss Hart, who was good cheer

The new governess was a pretty little woman, with smooth dark hair, and
snapping black eyes, that seemed to read people's innermost thoughts.
Although not entirely unacquainted with the Spencers, she had never
before lived with them, but had been governess in the family of a friend
of theirs. She was anxious for this new position, and Mrs. Spencer, who
had been pleased to have her come, was doubly glad to have her in this

"We won't begin to-morrow," said Miss Hart, when the subject of lessons
was broached, "but I think we'll begin next day. We'll spend to-morrow
getting acquainted, and learning to like each other. You'll join the
class, won't you, Marjorie?"

"Yes, I think I'd like study that way," said Midge; "but I don't like

"I'll guarantee you'll like study in our class," said Miss Hart, smiling;
"you'll be sorry when school hours are over."

Midge could hardly think this, but of one thing she was certain, that
Miss Hart would be a pleasant teacher.

Soon after dinner, Marjorie's suitcase arrived.

James brought it over, and set it on the front porch and rang the bell.
Then he went away before the door was opened, as he had been instructed
to do.

When Marjorie opened the bag she found a note from each of the family,
and they were all written in verse.

She read them aloud to the Spencer household and soon they were all
laughing at the nonsense rhymes.

Her mother had written:

"Midget, Midget,
Don't be in a fidget.
Don't be sad and tearful,
Just be gay and cheerful;
Don't be sadly sighing,
For the days are flying,
And some day or other
You'll come home to

"Why, that's as good as a valentine," said Miss Hart, as Midget finished
reading the lines.

"So it is!" said Marjorie, smiling; "I'm going to pretend they're all
valentines. Here's father's."

"Marjorie, Midget Mopsy,
The world is tipsy-topsy!
When I am here
And you are there
I feel all wipsy-wopsy!
But soon you will be home once more,
And all will be as it was before;
So make the most of your fortnight's stay,
For I cannot spare you another day!"

By this time Delight's spirits had risen to such an extent that she

"I think it's splendid to have Marjorie here for two weeks!"

"We'll make a picnic of it," said Miss Hart. "You girls won't often have
two weeks together, so we must cram all the pleasure into it we can."

Cramming pleasure into this dreadful time was a new idea to Delight, but
she was willing to agree to it, and Marjorie said:

"I think we can be happy if we try. But we have to forget the bad parts
and only remember the good."

"That's it," said Miss Hart. "Now read us another of your letters. I'm
sure they're good parts."

"This one is from King,--that's Kingdon, my brother," explained Marjorie,
as she took up the next note.

"Mops is a captive Princess now,
She can't get out of prison;
But when it's time to let her go,
Oh, won't she come home whizzin'!
This poetry isn't very good,
But it's the best that I can sing,
I would do better if I could,
And I'm your loving brother

"What a jolly boy!" said Miss Hart, "I'd like to know him."

"You will," said Midget, "after our two weeks' picnic is over." She
smiled at Miss Hart as she said this, accepting her idea of making a
picnic of their enforced imprisonment.

"Now, here's Kitty's," she went on. "Kitty's not a very good poet, but
she always wants to do what the rest do."

"Marjorie Maynard nice and sweet,
Has to stay across the street.
Fourteen days and fourteen nights,
Visiting her friend Delight.
Marjorie Maynard, nice and pretty,
Come home soon to sister

"Why, I think that's fine," said Miss Hart. "Your family are certainly
devoted to you."

"Yes, they are," said Midget. "There's another,--Rosy Posy,--but she's
only five. She can't write poetry."

"Can you?" asked Miss Hart.

"Yes, I can make as good verses as Kit; but not as good as King or
father. We always make verses for each other on birthdays, so we get lots
of practise. And we made some valentine verses this afternoon, didn't we,

"Yes, that is, you did. But, oh, Marjorie, we can't send those
valentines! Nothing like that can go out of the house!"

"Oh, pshaw, I don't believe they could do any harm."

"Well, Doctor Mendel said we mustn't send a letter of any sort, and a
valentine is just the same, you know."

"What do you think, Miss Hart?" asked Marjorie.

"I'm afraid you can't send them, my dear. But we'll ask the doctor.
Perhaps, if they're disinfected--"

"Oh, horrors!" cried Midget; "a valentine disinfected! Of all things!
Why, it would smell of that horrid sulphur stuff instead of a sweet
violet scent! Nobody would want that sort of a valentine."

"No, they wouldn't," agreed Delight. "Oh, dear, it's too bad!"

"Never mind, Delight," said Marjorie. "We can send valentines to each
other, and to Miss Hart, and to your mother. Oh, yes, and to Maggie and
Mary. I guess that's about all. But everybody can send them to us! That
will be lots of fun! It seems selfish, doesn't it, to get lots of
valentines and not send any? But it isn't selfish, because we can't help

"I can send to my friends in New York," said Delight, thoughtfully, "by
letting father get them and send them. I can telephone him a list, you
know. It isn't as much fun as if I picked them out myself, but I don't
want the girls to think I've forgotten them."

"If they know about the quarantine, they won't open the valentines,"
suggested Marjorie; "they'll think they came from this house, and they'll
be frightened."

"That's so," agreed Delight; "unless they look at the postmark and it's
New York."

"Well, then, if they don't know your father's writing, they'll never know
they came from you anyway."

"No, they won't. But then people never are supposed to know who sends a

"Then what's the good of sending any?"

"Oh, it always comes out afterward. I hardly ever get any that I don't
find out who they're from, sooner or later."

"Nor I either. Well, we'll do the best we can."

Marjorie sighed a little, for Valentine Day was always a gay season in
the Maynard home, but she had promised not to be sorry for herself, so
she put the thought away from her mind.

As Mrs. Spencer's room opened into Delight's, she decided to give that to
Marjorie, and take the guest room herself. She felt sorry for the child,
held there by an unfortunate accident, and determined to do all she could
to make her stay pleasant. And she thought, too, it would please Delight
to have Marjorie in the room next her own. So when the two girls went
upstairs that night, they were greatly pleased to find themselves in
communicating rooms.

"We can pretend, while we're getting ready for bed," said Delight, and
soon, in her little kimono, and bedroom slippers, she stalked into
Midget's room and said, with despairing gestures:

"Fellow princess, our doom hath befell. We are belocked in a prison grim,
and I fear me, nevermore will we be liberated."

"Say not so, Monongahela," answered Marjorie, clasping her hands.
"Methinks ere morning dawns, we may yet be free."

"Nay, oh, nay! the terrible jailer, the Baron Mendel, he hast decreed
that we stay be jailed for two years."

"Two years!" gasped Midget, falling in a pretended swoon. "Ere that time
passes, I shall be but a giggling maniac."

"Gibbering, you mean. Aye, so shall I."

"Well, stop your gibbering for to-night," said Mrs. Spencer, who came in,
laughing; "you can gibber to-morrow, if you like, but now you must go to
bed. Fly, fair princess, with golden hair!"

Delight flew, and Mrs. Spencer tucked Marjorie up in bed, in an effort to
make the child feel at home.

There wasn't the least resemblance between Mrs. Spencer's ways, and those
of her own mother, but Marjorie was appreciative of her hostess's kind
intent, and said good-night to Mrs. Spencer very lovingly. At first,
there was a strong inclination to cry a little, but remembering she must
not be sorry for herself, Marjorie smiled instead, and in a few moments
she was smiling in her sleep. Next morning, she put on the morning dress
that had come over in the suitcase, and went downstairs with Delight.

"It's just like having a sister," said Delight. "I do believe, Marjorie,
I'm glad all this happened. Of course, I don't mean I'm glad Maggie's
baby is so sick, but I'm glad you're staying here."

"I can't quite say that, Delight, but as I am here, I'm not going to fuss
about it. There's the telephone! perhaps it's Father!"

It was Mr. Maynard, and his cheery good-morning did Marjorie's heart

"All serene on the Rappahannock?" he asked.

"All serene!" replied Marjorie. "The verses were fine! I was so glad to
get them."

"Did you sleep well? Have you a good appetite for breakfast? Did you
remember my rules? May I send you a small gift to-day? Do you think it
will rain? Don't you want your kitten sent over?"

"Wait,--wait a minute," cried Marjorie. "Your questions come so fast I
can't answer them,--but, yes, I would like a small gift to-day."

"Aha! I thought you'd pick out that question of all the bunch to answer.
Well, you'll get it when I return from the great city. Meantime, be good
and you'll be happy, and I'm proud of you, my little girl."

"Proud of me! Why?"

"Because I can tell by your voice that you're cheerful and pleasant, and
that's all I ask of you. Good-bye, Mopsy, I must go for my train. The
others will talk to you later on."

"Good-bye, Father, and I would like the kitten sent over."

Marjorie left the telephone with such a happy face that Miss Hart, who
had just come downstairs, said:

"I'm sure you had pleasant messages from home."

"Yes, indeed," said Midget. "It was Father. He's always so merry and

"And you inherit those traits. I like fun, too. I think we shall be great

"I think so too," agreed Midget, and then they all went to breakfast.

The day started auspiciously enough, but after Midge had telephoned to
the rest of her family there seemed to be nothing to do. Delight had a
headache, brought on probably by the excitement of the day before, and
she didn't feel like playing princess.

There was no use finishing the valentines, for Doctor Mendel said they
must not send them to anybody.

Miss Hart was in her own room, and the morning dragged.

Marjorie almost wished she could go to school, and she certainly wished
she could go out to play. But the doctor's orders were strict against
their leaving the house, so she sat down in the library to read a
story-book. Delight wandered in.

"I think you might entertain me," she said; "my head aches awfully."

"Shall I read to you?" asked Midget. She had had little experience with
headaches, and didn't quite know what to do for them.

"Yes, read a fairy story."

So Midget good-naturedly laid aside her own book, and read aloud to
Delight until her throat was tired.

"Go on," said Delight, as she paused.

"I can't," said Midget, "for it hurts my throat."

"Oh, pshaw, what a fuss you are! I think you might read; it's the only
thing that makes me forget my headache."

So Marjorie began again, and read until Delight fell asleep.

"I'm glad I kept on," thought Midget to herself; "though it did make my
throat all scratchy. But I mustn't be sorry for myself, so I'm glad I was
sorry for Delight. Maybe a little nap will make her head better."



Leaving Delight asleep, Marjorie wandered out to the dining-room, where
Mrs. Spencer was assisting the waitress in her duties. As Maggie was not
allowed to leave the sick-room, Mary, the waitress, did the cooking, and
this left many smaller offices to be performed by Mrs. Spencer.

"Can't I help you?" asked Marjorie, who was at her wits' end for

Usually, she could entertain herself for any length of time, but the
strangeness of her surroundings, and a general feeling of homesickness
made books or games unattractive.

"Why, no, Marjorie; little girls can't help," said Mrs. Spencer, who
never thought of calling on Delight for assistance.

"Oh, yes, I can; truly I can do lots of things. Mayn't I put away that

"No; you don't know where it belongs. But if want to help me, can't you
attend to Delight's canary? He hasn't had his bath, and Mary is too busy
to do it. Do you know how?"

"Oh, yes; I often give our bird his bath, and clean his cage, and give
him fresh seed and water. Where shall I find the birdseed?"

"In the small cupboard in Delight's playroom, the room where the bird is,
you know."

"Yes'm, I know."

Marjorie ran upstairs, interested in this work, and taking the cage from
its hook, set it on the table. She found the little bathtub and filled it
with water of just the right warmth, and taking the upper part of the
cage from its base, set it over the tub, which she had carefully placed
on a large newspaper.

"There," she said, "spatter away as much as you like, while I cut a nice
round paper carpet for your cage. I don't know your name, but I shall
call you Buttercup, because you're so yellow."

The bird cocked his black eye at her, and seemed to approve of his new
attendant, for he hopped into his bath, and splashed the water

"You're a nice little Buttercup," went on Midget; "some bad little
birdies won't jump in and bathe. There, I think that's enough; you'll
wash all your feathers off! Here you go back home again."

She replaced the cage, filled the seed and water vases, and hung it back
on its hook.

Midget was a capable little girl, and she took away the bathtub, and
tidied up all traces of her work, as neatly as Mary could have done. Then
she looked around for more worlds to conquer.

She saw the aquarium, a small round one, all of glass, in which were four

"I think I'll give you a bath," said Midget to the fishes, laughing at
the absurdity of the idea. But as she stood watching them, she observed
the green mossy slime that covered the stones and shells at the bottom of
the aquarium, and it occurred to her that it would be a good idea to
clean them.

"There's a small scrubbing-brush in the bathroom," she said to herself,
"and I can scrub them clean, and put in fresh water, and Mrs. Spencer
will be so surprised and pleased."

She was about to bring a bowl of water from the bathroom to put the
stones in while she scrubbed them, but she thought since there was
already water in the glass, she might as well use that, and then get
clean water for the fishes afterward.

"But I don't believe they'll like the soap," she thought, as, scrub-brush
in hand, she was about to dip the soap in the water. "So I'll lay them
aside while I scrub."

Marjorie had never had any goldfish, and knew nothing about them, so with
no thought save to handle them gently, she took them out of the water,
and laid them on the table in the sunlight.

She caught them by the simple process of using her handkerchief as a
drag-net, and with great care, laid them softly down on the felt

"There, fishies," she said, "don't take to your heels and run away. I'll
soon clean up these dirty old stones and shells, then I'll give you nice
fresh water, and put you back home again."

The stones and shells did look better, according to Midget's way of
thinking, after she had vigorously scrubbed the moss from them. They
shone glistening, and white, and she put them back in the aquarium and
filled it with clean water, and then went for the fish.

"Ah, taking a nap, are you?" she said, as the four lay quiet on the
table. But when she carefully put them back in the water, and they didn't
wriggle or squirm a bit, she knew at once they were dead.

"You horrid things!" cried Midget, "what did you go and die for, just
when I was fixing up your cage so nice? You're not really dead, are you?
Wake up!"

She poked and pinched them to no avail.

"Oh, dear!" she sighed, "whenever I try to be good and helpful, I'm bad
and troublesome. Now I must go and tell Mrs. Spencer about it. I wonder
what she'll say. I wish I could tell mother first, but they'd hear me on
the telephone. Perhaps the old things will come alive again. Maybe
they've only fainted."

But no sign of life came from the four victims, who calmly floated on top
of the water, as if scorning the clean white stones and shells below.
They looked so pretty and so pathetic, that Marjorie burst into tears,
and ran downstairs in search of Mrs. Spencer. That lady heard the tale
with a look of mingled amusement and annoyance on her face.

"I've heard you were a mischievous child," she said, "but I didn't think
you'd begin your pranks so soon."

"But it wasn't pranks, Mrs. Spencer," said Midget, earnestly. "I truly
wanted to be help, fill, and I fixed the bird's cage so nicely, I thought
I'd fix the fishes' cage too."

"But you must have known that fishes die out of water."

"No'm; I didn't. At least,--it seems to me now that I ought to have known
it, but I didn't think about it when I took 'em out. You see, I never had
any goldfish of my own."

"Well, don't worry about it, child. It can't be helped now. But I suppose
Delight will feel terribly. She was so fond of her goldfish."

"I'm sure Father will let me give her some more," said Midget, "but I
suppose she won't care for any others."

She went back to the library, where she had left Delight asleep, and
found her just waking up.

"Delight," she said, wanting to get it over as soon as possible, "I've
killed all four of your goldfish!"

"On purpose?" said Delight, still sleepy and uncomprehending.

"No, of course not. It was an accident. I just laid them on the table
while I cleaned the aquarium, and they fainted away and staid fainted. I
guess they must have been sick before."

"No, they weren't. They were awfully frisky yesterday. I think you're
real mean, Marjorie."

"I'm awful sorry, Delight, truly I am. But I'm 'most sure Father will let
me give you other fish to make up for them."

"But they won't be the same fish."

"No, of course not. But we'll get prettier ones."

"Oh, no, you needn't get any fish at all. I'd rather have a kitten."

"Oh, I can get you a kitten easily enough. James always knows where to
get them. What color do you want?"

"Gray; Maltese, you know. Will he get it to-day?"

"I'll ask Mother to ask him to-day. He'll get it soon, I know."

"All right; I'd heaps rather have that than fish. I'm tired of goldfish,
anyway. You can't cuddle them like you can kittens. And I never had a

"You didn't! Why, Delight Spencer! I never heard of a girl that had
_never_ had a kitten! I'll ask Mother to see about it right away. Do you
want two?"

"Yes, as many as I can have. I ought to have four to make up for those

"You can have four, if your mother'll let you," said Midget. "Ask her."

"Oh, she'll let me. She never says no to anything I want. Does your

"Yes, often. But then, I want such crazy things."

"So do I. But I get them. Go on and see about the kittens."

So Midget went to the telephone and told her mother the whole story about
the goldfish.

Mrs. Maynard was surprised at Marjorie's ignorance of fish's habits, but
she didn't scold.

"I do think," she said "that you should have known better; but of course
I know you didn't intend to harm the fish. And anyway we won't discuss it
over the telephone. I'll wait until we're together again."

"You'll have to keep a list of all my mischief, Mother," said Midget,
cheerfully; "and do up the scolding and punishing all at once, when I get

"Yes, but don't get into mischief while you're over there. Do try,
Marjorie, to behave yourself."

"I will, Mother, but I'm so tired of staying here I don't know what to
do. Delight heard me say that, but I can't help it. I expect she's tired
of having me here."

"I am not!" declared Delight; "now ask her about the kittens."

So Marjorie asked her mother about the kittens, and Mrs. Maynard promised
to ask James to see if he couldn't find some that would be glad of a good

And so anxious was James to please his dear Miss Marjorie, and so
numerous were kittens among James' circle of personal acquaintances, that
that very afternoon, a basket was set on the Spencer's porch and the door
bell was rung.

Mary opened the door and saw the basket, well-covered over.

"The saints presarve us!" she cried; "sure, it's a baby!"

She brought the basket in, and Mrs. Spencer turned back the folded
blanket, and disclosed four roly-poly kittens all cuddled into one heap
of fur.

"Oh!" cried Delight, "did you ever see anything so lovely! Midget, I'm
_so_ glad you killed the goldfish! These are a million times nicer."

"But you could have had these too," said Marjorie; "and anyway, I'll
probably put these in the aquarium and drown them, by mistake!"

"Indeed you won't!" said Delight, cuddling the little balls of fur. "Oh,
Mother, aren't they _dear?_"

"They are very cunning," answered Mrs. Spencer, "and I'm glad you have
them. Though four seems a good many. Don't you want to give them some

"Oh, yes; and we'll teach them all to eat from one saucer, so they'll be
loving and affectionate."

The kittens showed no desire to be other than affectionate, and amicably
lapped up milk from the same saucer, without dispute.

There was one white, one Maltese, one black, and one yellow, and Marjorie
felt sure James had chosen the prettiest he could find.

"Now to name them," said Delight. "Let's choose lovely names. You'll help
us, won't you, Miss Hart?"

"You ought to call the white one Pop Corn," said Miss Hart, "for it's
just like a big kernel of freshly popped corn."

"I will," said Delight, "for it's like that; but as that's a hard name to
say, I'll call her Poppy for short. A white poppy, you know. Now the
black one?"

"Blackberry," suggested Marjorie, and that was the chosen name. The
yellow one was named Goldenrod, and the gray one Silverbell, and the four
together made as pretty a picture as you could imagine. The girls spent
an hour or more playing with them and watching their funny antics, and
then Miss Hart proposed that they, crochet balls of different color for
each little cat.

Mrs. Spencer provided a box of worsted and they chose the colors.

A red ball was to be made for Blackberry, and a light blue one for Poppy.
Goldenrod was to have a yellow one, and Silverbell a pink one.

Miss Hart showed the girls how to crochet a round cover, hooping it to
form a ball, and then stuffing it tightly with worsted just before
finishing it.

They made the four balls and tried to teach the kittens to remember their
own colors. But in this they were not very successful, as the kittens
liked the balls so much they played with any one they could catch.

When Mr. Maynard came home, true to his word, he sent Marjorie a gift.

The bell rang, and there on the doorstep lay a parcel.

It proved to contain two picture puzzles.

"Oh, goody!" cried Midget. "These are just what I wanted. I've heard
about them, but I've never had any, and Father told me last week he'd get
me one. One's for you, Delight, and one's for me. Which do you choose?"

"Left hand," said Delight, as Marjorie's hands went behind her.

"All right; here it is."

"But I don't know how to do puzzles. I never saw one like this."

"If you knew how to do it, it wouldn't be a puzzle. I don't know either;
but we'll learn."

"I'll show you how to begin," said Miss Hart. "Wait a minute."

She went out to the dining-room, and returned with two trays, oblong,
square-cornered and of fairly good size.

"Make your puzzles on these," she said, "and then you can carry them
around while working on them, if you want to. You can't do that, if you
make them right on the table."

So with the trays on the table in front of them the girls began. Each
puzzle had about a hundred and fifty pieces, and they were not easy ones.
Miss Hart showed them how to find pieces that fitted each other; but
would not help them after the first two or three bits were joined, for
she said the fun was in doing it themselves.

"But I can't!" said Midge, looking perfectly hopeless; "these pieces are
all brownish and greenish and I don't know what they are."

"I see," said Delight, her eyes sparkling; "you must find a face, or
something that you can tell what it is, and start from that."

"But there isn't any face here," said Midget; "here's one eye,--if it
_is_ an eye!"

"Begin with that," advised Miss Hart. "Find some more of a face to go
with it."

"Oh, yes; here's a nose and lips! Why, it just fits in!"

Soon the two children were absorbed in the fascinating work. It was a
novelty, and it happened to appeal to both of them.

"Don't look at each other's picture," warned Miss Hart, "and then, when
both are done, you can exchange and do each other's. It's no fun if you
see the picture before you try to make it."

"Some pieces of mine must be missing," declared Marjorie; "there's no
piece at all to go into this long, narrow curving space."

Miss Hart smiled, for she had had experience in this pastime.

"Everybody thinks pieces are lost at some stage of the work," she said;
"never mind that space, Marjorie, keep on with the other parts."

"Oh!" cried Delight. "I can see part of the picture now! It's going to be

"Don't tell!" interrupted Miss Hart; "after you've each done both of
them, you can look at the finished pictures together. But now, keep it
secret what the pictures are about."

So the work went on, and now and then a chuckle of pleasure or an
exclamation of impatience would tell of the varying fortunes of the

"Oh!" cried Delight. "I just touched a piece to straighten it, and I
joggled the whole thing out of place!"

Then Miss Hart showed them how to take a ruler and straighten the
edges,--if the edges were built; and how to crowd a corner down into a
corner of the tray, and so keep the pieces in place. So engrossed were
the two that Mrs. Spencer had difficulty to persuade them to come to

"Oh, Mother," cried Delight, "do wait till I find this lady's other arm.
I'm sure I saw it a moment ago."

And Marjorie lingered, looking for a long triangle with a notch in the

But at last they set their trays carefully away, at different ends of the
room, and even laid newspapers over them, so they shouldn't see each
other's puzzle.

"That's the most fun of any game I ever played," said Delight, as she
took her seat at the table.

"I think so too," said Midge; "are there many of them made, Miss Hart?"

"Thousands, my dear. And all, or nearly all, different."

"When we finish these," said Delight, "I'll ask my father to bring us
some more. I just love to do them."

"You musn't do too many," said Miss Hart; "that stooping position is not
good for little girls if kept up too long at a time."

"It did make the back of my neck ache," said Delight; "but I don't mind,
it's such fun to see the picture come."



The next day lessons began. Miss Hart and Mrs. Spencer agreed that it
would be better for the two little girls to have regular school hours,
and Delight was glad to have Marjorie at her lessons with her.

Midge herself was not overpleased at the prospect, but her parents had
approved of the plan, and had sent over her school-books.

The play-room was used as a school-room, and a pleasant enough room it

When the girls went in, at nine o'clock, it didn't seem a bit like

Miss Hart, in a pretty light house-dress, sat in a low rocker by the
window. There was nothing suggesting a desk, and on a near-by table were
a few books and a big bowl of flowers.

The girls sat where they chose, on the couch or in chairs, and as Midget
told her mother afterward, it seemed more like a children's party than

"First, let's read a story," said Miss Hart, and Marjorie's eyes opened
wider than ever.

"Aren't we going to have school to-day?" she asked.

"Yes, Marjorie; this is school. Here are your books,--we'll each have

She gave them each a copy of a pretty looking book, and asked them to
open it at a certain page.

Then Miss Hart read aloud a few pages, and the girls followed her in
their own books. Then she asked Delight to read, and as she did so, Miss
Hart stopped her occasionally to advise her about her manner of reading.
But she did this so pleasantly and conversationally that it didn't seem
at all like a reading-lesson, although that's really what it was.

Marjorie's turn came next, and by this time she had become so interested
in the story, that she began at once, and read so fast, that she went
helter-skelter, fairly tumbling over herself in her haste.

"Wait, Marjorie, wait!" cried Miss Hart, laughing at her. "The end of the
story will keep; it isn't going to run away. Don't try so hard to catch

Marjorie smiled herself, as she slowed down, and tried to read more as
she should.

But Miss Hart had to correct her many times, for Midget was not a good
reader, and did not do nearly so well as Delight.

And though Miss Hart's corrections were pleasantly and gently made, she
was quite firm about them, and insisted that Marjorie should modulate her
voice, and pronounce her words just as she was told.

"What a fine story!" exclaimed Delight, as they finished it.

"Oh, isn't it great!" exclaimed Marjorie; "do you call this book a
'Reader,' Miss Hart?"

"Yes, I call it a Reader. But then I call any book a Reader that I choose
to have my pupils read from. This book is named 'Children's Stories From
English Literature,' so you see, by using it, we study literature and
learn to read at the same time. The one we read to-day, 'The Story of
Robin Hood,' is a story you ought to know well, and we will read other
versions of it some day. Now, we will talk about it a little."

And then they had a delightful talk about the story they had read, and
Miss Hart told them many interesting things concerning it, and the
children asked questions; and then Miss Hart had them read certain
portions of the story again, and this time she said Marjorie read much

"For I understand now," said Midge, "what I'm reading about. And, oh,
Miss Hart, I'm crazy to tell King all about it! He'll just love to play
Robin Hood!"

"Yes," said Miss Hart, "it makes a fine game for out-of-doors. Perhaps
some day we'll find a story that we can play indoors, while you poor
prisoners are kept captive."

Marjorie gave a little sigh of pleasure. If this was school, it was a
very nice kind of school indeed, but she supposed that arithmetic and
spelling and all those horrid things were yet to come. And sure enough,
Miss Hart's next words brought sorrow to her soul.

"Now, girlies, we'll just have a little fun with arithmetic. I happen to
know you both hate it so perhaps if you each hold a kitten in your arm it
will cheer your drooping spirits a little."

Marjorie laughed outright at this. Kittens in school were funny indeed!

"Yes," said Miss Hart, laughing with Marjorie, "it's like Mary's little
lamb, you know. I never forgave Mary's teacher for turning him out I
think kittens in school are lovely. I'll hold one myself."

Then the girls drew nearer to Miss Hart, who had a large pad of paper and
a pencil but no book.

And how she did it Marjorie never knew, but she made an example in
Partial Payments so interesting, and so clear, that the girls not only
understood it, but thought it fun.

Miss Hart said she was Mr. White, and the two children were Mr. Brown and
Mr. Green, who each owed her the same sum of money. It was to be paid in
partial payments, and the sharp and business-like Mr. White insisted on
proper payments and exact interest from the other two gentlemen, who vied
with each other to tell first how much was due Mr. White. There was some
laughing at first, but the fun changed to earnest, and even the kittens
were forgotten while the important debts were being paid.

"Good-bye, arithmetic!" cried Miss Hart, as the problem entirely
finished, and thoroughly understood, she tossed the papers aside;
"good-bye for to-day! Now, for something pleasanter."

"But that was pleasant, Miss Hart," said Marjorie; "I didn't think
arithmetic could _ever_ be pleasant, but it was. How did you make it so?"

"Because I had such pleasant little pupils, I think," said Miss Hart,
smiling. "Now for a few calisthenics with open windows."

The windows were flung up, and under Miss Hart's leadership they went
through a short gymnastic drill.

"Doesn't that make you feel good?" said Marjorie, all aglow with the
exercise, as they closed the windows, and sat down again.

"That's no sort of a drill, really," said Miss Hart; "but it will do for
to-day. When we get fairly started, we'll have gymnastics that will be a
lot more fun than that. But now for our botany lesson."

"Botany!" cried Midge; "I've never studied that!"

"Nor I," said Delight, "and I haven't any book."

"Here's the book," said Miss Hart, taking a large white daisy from the
bowl of flowers on the table.

"How many leaves has it?"

The girls guessed at the number of petals, but neither guessed right.
Then they sat down in front of Miss Hart, and she told them all about the
pretty blossom.

She broke it apart, telling them the names of petals, sepals, corolla and
all the various tiny parts.

The two children looked and listened breathlessly. They could scarcely
believe the yellow centre was itself made up of tiny flowers.

It was all so interesting and so wonderful, and, too, so new to them

"Is _that_ botany?" said Marjorie, with wide-open eyes.

"Yes; that's my idea of teaching botany. Text-books are so dry and dull,
I think."

"So do I," said Midge; "I looked in a botany book once, and it was awful
poky. Tell us more, Miss Hart."

"Not to-day, dearie; it's one o'clock, and school is over for to-day."

"One o'clock!" both girls exclaimed at once; "it _can't_ be!"

But it was, and as they scampered away to make themselves tidy for
luncheon, Marjorie said: "Oh! isn't she lovely! Do you always have a
governess like that, Delight?"

"No, indeed! My last one was strict and stern, and just heard my lessons
out of books. And if I missed a word she scolded fearfully."

"I never saw anybody like Miss Hart! why that kind of school is play"

"Yes, I think so too. And it's lovely to have you here. It's so much more
interesting than to have my lessons alone."

"Oh, Miss Hart would make it interesting for anybody, alone or not. But
I'll be here for two weeks, I suppose. I don't mind it so much if we have
school like that every day."

"And picture puzzles every evening."

"Yes, and kittens all day long!" Marjorie picked up two or three of the
furry little balls, that were always under foot, and squeezed them.

At luncheon they gave Mrs. Spencer such a glowing account of their
"school" that Miss Hart was quite overcome by their praise.

"It's all because they're such attentive pupils," she said modestly.

"No, it isn't," said Mrs. Spencer. "I knew what a kind and tactful
teacher you were before you came. A little bird told me."

"Now how did the bird know that?" said Miss Hart, smiling, and Midget
wondered if Miss Hart thought Mrs. Spencer meant a real bird.

Afternoons the governess always had to herself. If she chose to be with
the family, she might, but she was not called upon for any duties. So
after Midget and Delight had finished their picture puzzles, and had
exchanged, and done each other's, time again seemed to hang heavily on
their hands.

It was really because they felt imprisoned, rather than any real
restraint. Marjorie wanted to run out of doors and play, and Delight
didn't know exactly what she did want.

They were allowed to walk on the side piazza, if they chose, but walking
up and down a short porch was no fun, and so they fidgeted.

"Let's get up a good, big rousing game," said Midget, "a new one."

"All right," said Delight, "let's."

"Can we go all over the house?"

"Yes, all except the attic and kitchen."

The sick child and his mother had been put in two rooms in the third
story. These were shut off from the main part of the house, and were
further protected by sheets sprinkled with carbolic acid which hung over

The children had been warned to keep as far as possible from these
quarters, but the front of the house was at their disposal.

"Let me see," said Midget, who was doing some hard thinking. "I guess
we'll play 'Tourists.'"

"How do you play it?"

"I don't know yet. I'm just making it up. We're the tourists, you know;
and the house, the whole house in an ocean steamer. First, we must get
our wraps and rugs."

Diligent search made havoc in Mrs. Spencer's cupboards, but resulted in a
fine array of luggage.

The girls dressed themselves up in Mrs. Spencer's long cats, and Mr.
Spencer's caps, tied on with motor-veils, made what they agreed was a
fine tourist costume.

In shawl straps they packed afghans, pillows, and such odds and ends as
books and pictures, and they filled travellings bags with anything they
could find.

Loaded down with their luggage, they went down in the front hall, where
Marjorie said the game must begin.

"Have you ever been on an ocean steamer, Delight?" she asked.

"No; have you?"

"Yes. I haven't sailed on one, you know, but I went on board to see Aunt
Margaret sail. So I know how they are. This house isn't built just right;
we'll have to pretend a lot. But never mind that."

"No, I don't mind. Now are we getting on board?"

"Yes, here's the gang plank. Now we go upstairs to the main saloon and
decks. Be careful, the ship is pitching fearfully!"

Oblivious to the fact that steamers don't usually pitch fearfully while
in port, the two travellers staggered up the staircase, tumbling
violently from side to side.

"Oh, one of my children has fallen overboard!" cried Delight, as she
purposely dropped Goldenrod over the banister.

"Man overboard!" cried Marjorie, promptly. "A thousand dollars reward!
Who can save the precious child?" Swiftly changing from a tourist to a
common sailor, Marjorie plunged into the waves, and swam after the
fast-disappearing Goldenrod. She caught the kitten by its tail, as it was
creeping under a sofa, and triumphantly brought it back to the weeping

"Bless you, good man!" cried Delight, her face buried in her
handkerchief. "I will reward you with a thousand golden ducats."

"I ask no reward, ma'am; 'twas but my humble duty."

"Say not so! You have rendered me a service untold by gold."

Delight's diction often became a little uncertain, but if it sounded
well, that was no matter.

"My cabin is forty-two," said Marjorie, who was once more a tourist, on
her way upstairs.

"Here is a steward," said Delight, "he will show us the way."

The steward was invisible, but either of the girls spoke in his voice, as
occasion demanded.

"This way, madam," said Midget, as she led Delight to the door of her own
room. "This is your stateroom, and I hope it will suit you."

"Is it an outside one?" asked Delight, who had travelled on night boats,
though not across the ocean.

"Yes, ma'am. Outside and inside both. Where is your steamer trunk?"

"It will be sent up, I suppose."

"Yes, ma'am. Very good, ma'am. Now, you can be steward to me, Delight."

"Shure. This way, mum. It's Oirish, I am, but me heart is warrum. Shall I
carry the baby for ye?"

"Yes," said Midget, giggling at Delight's Irish brogue, which was always
funny; "but be careful. The child isn't well." The child was Blackberry,
who was dressed in large white muffler of Mrs. Spencer's pinned 'round
its neck.

"The saints presarve us, mum! Ye've got the wrong baby! This is a black
one, mum!"

"That's all right," said Midget "She's only wearing a black veil, to,--to
keep off the cold air."

"Yis, mum. Now, here's yer stateroom, mum, and 'tis the captain's own. He
do be givin' it to you, 'cause ye'r such a foine lady."

"Yes, I am;" said Marjorie, complacently. "I'm Lady Daffodil of--of

"Ye look it! And now if ye'll excuse me, mum, I'll go and get the other
passengers to rights."

Delight slipped back to her stateroom, and returned with Goldenrod in her
arms. She met Marjorie in the hall.

"I think I have met you before," she said, bowing politely.

"Yes," said Marjorie, in a haughty voice, "we met at the Earl's ball. I
am Lady Daffodil."

"Ah, yes, I remember you now. I am the Countess of Heliotrope."

"My dear Countess! I'm so glad to see you again. Are you going across?"

"Why, yes, I think I will."

"I think you'll have to, as the ship has already started. Let us go out
on deck."

As they were well bundled up, they opened the door and stepped out on the
second story balcony. It was not unlike a deck, and they went and stood
by the railing.

"The sea is very blue, isn't it?" said Lady Daffodil, looking down at the
bare ground with patches of snow here and there.

"Yes, and see the white caps. Oh, we shall have a fine sail. Are you ever

"No; never! Are you?"

"No; I have crossed eighty-seven times, so I'm used to it. Did you know
there's a case of diphtheria on board?"

"No, is that so?"

"Yes. Somebody in the steerage, I believe. That's why we're stopped at

This struck both girls so funny that they had to stop and giggle at it.

"My precious Goldenrod!" cried the Countess of Heliotrope, "I fear she
will catch it!"

"You'd better have her vaccinated at once. It's a sure cure."

"I will. But let us go inside, the sea-breeze is too strong out here."

The game seemed full of possibilities, and the tourists were still
playing it when dinner time came.

So they pretended it was the ship's dining-saloon to which they went, and
Mrs. Spencer and Miss Hart were strangers, passengers whom they had not
yet met.

The game once explained to Miss Hart, she grasped it at once, and played
her part to perfection.

"I should think," she said, finally, "that some such game as this would
be a fine way to study geography!"

"Now what can she mean by that?" thought Marjorie.



As the days went by, Marjorie became more accustomed to her new
surroundings, and felt quite at home in the Spencer household.

The baby's illness ran its course and though the child was very sick, the
doctor felt hopeful that they could keep the other children free from
infection. Mrs. Spencer felt keenly the trying situation, but Miss Hart
was so bright and cheerful that she made everybody feel happy.

So, as far as the two little girls were concerned, it was just as if
Marjorie were merely making a visit to Delight.

The children were becoming very much attached to each other. Delight
greatly admired Marjorie's enthusiastic, go-ahead ways, and Midget was
impressed by Delight's quiet way of accomplishing things.

Both were clever, capable children, and could usually do whatever they
set out to, but Marjorie went at it with a rush and a whirl, while
Delight was more slow and sure.

But Delight was of a selfish disposition, and this was very foreign to
Marjorie's wide generosity of spirit. However, she concluded it must be
because Delight was an only child, and had no brothers or sisters to

Marjorie's own brother and sister were very attentive to their exiled
one. A dozen times a day King or Kitty would telephone the latest news
from school or home, and very frequently James would cross the street
with a note or a book or a funny picture for Midget, from some of the
Maynards. So the days didn't drag; and as for the morning hours, they
were the best of all.

"It's like a party every day," said Marjorie to her mother, over the
telephone. "Miss Hart is so lovely, and not a bit like a school-teacher.
We never have regular times for any lesson. She just picks out whatever
lesson she wants to, and we have that. Last night we bundled up and went
out on the upper balcony and studied astronomy. She showed us Orion, and
lots of other constitutions, or whatever you call them. Of course we
don't have school evenings, but that was sort of extra. Oh, Mother, she
is just lovely!"

"I'm so glad, my Midget, that you're enjoying your lessons. Do you
practice every day?"

"Yes, Mother; an hour every afternoon. Miss Hart helps me a little with
that, too, and Delight and I are learning a duet."

"That's fine! And you don't get into mischief?"

"No,--at least not much. I shut one of the kittens up in a bureau drawer
and forgot her; but Miss Hart found her before she got very dead, and she
livened her up again. So, that's all right."

"Not quite all right; but I'm sure you won't do it again. I can't seem to
scold you when you're away from me, so _do_ try to be a good girl, won't
you, my Midget."

"Yes, Mother, I truly will."

And she did. Partly because of the restraint of visiting, and partly by
her own endeavors, Marjorie was, on the whole, as well-behaved a child as
any one could wish. And if she taught Delight more energetic and noisy
games than she had ever heard before, they really were beneficial to the
too quiet little girl.

One day they discovered what Miss Hart meant by using their steamer game
for geography lessons. During school hours she proposed that they all
play the steamer game.

Very willingly the girls arrayed themselves in wraps and caps, Miss Hart
also wearing tourist garb, and with shawl straps and bundles, and with
the kittens, also well wrapped up, they boarded the steamer.

Miss Hart, who pretended to be a stranger with whom they became
acquainted on board, told them they were taking the Mediterranean trip to

The school-room was, of course, the principal saloon of the boat, and as
the passengers sat round a table, Miss Hart, by means of a real steamer
chart, showed them the course they were taking across the Atlantic.

Time of course was not real, and soon they had to pretend they had been
at sea for a week or more.

Then Miss Hart said they were nearing the Azores and would stop there for
a short time.

So they left the steamer, in imagination, and Miss Hart described to them
the beauties and attractions of these islands. She had photographs and
post cards, and pressed blossoms of the marvellous flowers that grow
there. So graphic were her descriptions that the girls almost felt they
had really been there.

"To-morrow," she said, as they returned to the ship, "we shall reach
Gibraltar. There we will get off and stay several hours, and I'm sure you
will enjoy it."

And enjoy it they certainly did. Next day it occurred, and when they left
the ship to visit Gibraltar, they were taken to Miss Hart's own room,
which she had previously arranged for them.

Here they found pictures of all the interesting points in or near
Gibraltar. There were views of the great rock, and Miss Hart told them
the history of the old town, afterward questioning them about it, to be
sure they remembered. That was always part of her queer teaching, to
question afterward, but it was easy to remember things so pleasantly

She showed them pieces of beautiful Maltese lace, explaining how it was
made, and why it was sold at Gibraltar, and she showed them pictures of
the Moors in their strange garb, and told of their history. The luncheon
bell sent them scurrying to the ship's dining-room, and they begged of
Miss Hart that they might go on to Naples next day.

But she said that geography mustn't monopolize all the days, and next
day, although she wasn't sure, probably there would be a session with Mr.

"I don't care," said Midget, happily, "I know we'll have a lovely time,
even if it _is_ arithmetic."

Valentine's Day came before the quarantine was raised.

Marjorie was very sorry for this, for the doctor had said that after a
few days more she could go home, and it seemed as if she might have gone
for the fourteenth.

But he would not allow it, so there was nothing to do but make the best
of it.

The night before Valentine's Day, however, she did feel a bit blue, as
she thought of King and Kitty and even Rosy Posy addressing their
valentines, and making a frolic of it as they always did.

And she thought of her father, who was always ready to help on such
occasions, making verses, and printing them in his fine, neat
handwriting. Of course, they would send some to her,--she knew that,--but
she was losing all the jolly family fun, and it seemed a pity.

And then the telephone rang, and it was her father calling for her.

"Hello, Midget," came his cheery voice over the wire; "now I wonder if a
little girl about you? size isn't feeling sorry for herself this

"I'm afraid I am, Father, but I'm trying not to."

"Good for you, Sister! Now don't bother to do it, for I can tell you I'm
feeling _so_ sorry for you that it's unnecessary for anybody else to do
that same. Now I'll tell you something to chirk you up. I suppose you
have lessons to-morrow morning?"

"Yes; Miss Hart said we could have a holiday if we chose, but we didn't
choose. So we're going to have special valentiney lessons,--I don't know
what they'll be."

"All right; and in the afternoon, I shall send you over a valentine
party. No people, you know, they're not allowed; but all the rest of a
nice valentine party."

"Why, Father, how can we have a party without people?"

"Easily enough. I'll attend to that. Goodnight, now, Midget. Hop to bed,
and dream hearts and darts and loves and doves and roses and posies and
all such things."

"All right, I will. Good-night, Father dear. Is Mother there?"

"Yes,--hold the wire."

So Mrs. Maynard came and said a loving goodnight to her near yet faraway
daughter, and Marjorie went to bed all cheered up, instead of lonely and

St. Valentine's Day was a fine, crisp winter day, with sunshine dancing
on the snow, and blue sky beaming down on the bare branches of the trees.

The fun began at breakfast-time, when everybody found valentines at their
plates,--for as Midge and Delight agreed, they had made so many, and they
must use them up somehow. So Miss Hart and Mrs. Spencer received several
in the course of the day; two were surreptitiously stuffed into Doctor
Mendel's coat pockets, and the kittens each received some.

Lessons that morning were not really lessons at all. Miss Hart called it
a Literature Class.

First she told the girls about the origin of Valentines, and how they
happened to be named for St. Valentine, and why he was chosen as the
patron saint of love. Then she read them some celebrated valentines
written by great poets, and the girls had to read them after her, with
great care as to their elocution.

She showed them some curious valentines, whose initials spelled names or
words, and were called acrostics, and told of some quaint old-fashioned
valentines that had been sent to her grandmother.

"And now," she said finally, "we've had enough of the sentimental side, I
will read you a funny valentine story."

So, in her whimsical, dramatic fashion, she read the tragic tale of Mr.
Todgers and Miss Tee.

"In the town of Slocum Pocum, eighteen-seventy A.D.,
Lived Mr. Thomas Todgers and Miss Thomasina Tee;
The lady blithely owned to forty-something in the shade,
While Todgers, chuckling, called himself a rusty-eating blade,
And on the village green they lived in two adjacent cots.
Adorned with green Venetians and vermilion flower pots.

"No doubt you've heard it stated--'tis an aphorism trite--
That people who live neighborly in daily sound and sight
Of each other's personality, habitually grow
To look alike, and think alike, and act alike, and so
Did Mr. Thomas Todgers and Miss Thomasina Tee,
In the town of Slocum Pocum, eighteen-seventy A.D.

"Now Todgers always breakfasted at twenty-five to eight,
At seven-thirty-five Miss Tee poured out her chocolate;
And Todgers at nine-thirty yawned 'Lights out! I'll go to bed.'
At half-past nine Miss Tee 'retired'--a word she used instead.
Their hours were identical at meals and church and chores,
At weeding in the garden, or at solitaire indoors."

"'Twas the twelfth of February, so the chronicler avers;
Mr. Todgers in his garden, and Miss Tee, of course, in hers;
Both assiduously working, both no doubt upon their knees,
Chanced to raise their eyes together; glances met--and, if you please,
Ere one could say Jack Robinson! tut-tut! or fol-de-re!
Thomasina loved Mr. Todgers; Mr. Todgers loved Miss Tee!

"Two heads with but a single thought went bobbing to the dust,
And Todgers smiled sub rosa, and Miss Thomasina blushed;
Then they seized their garden tackle and incontinently fled
Down the box-edged pathways past the flower pots of red;
Past the vivid green Venetians, past the window curtains white,
Into their respective dwellings, and were seen no more that night.

"All that night poor love-sick Todgers tried his new-born hopes to quell,
And Miss Tee made resolutions, but she did not make them well,
For they went to smash at daybreak, and she softly murmured ''Tis
Kismet! Fate! Predestination! If he'll have me I am his.'
While Todgers sang 'There's Only One Girl in This World for Me,'
Or its music hall equivalent in eighteen-seventy.

"It was February thirteenth (On, my Pegasus! Nor balk
At that fear-inspiring figure!) Thomasina took a walk.
And Fate drew her--drew her--drew her by a thousand spidery lines
To a Slocum Pocum window filled chockful of valentines,
All gaudy--save two, just alike in color, shape and size,
Which pressed against the window pane and caught the lady's eyes.

"'How chaste! How charming! How complete!' she cried. 'It must be mine!
I'll tell my love to Thomas in this lovely valentine,
Whereon is suitably inscribed, in letters fine and free,
So with her cheeks all rosy, and her pulses all astir,
She went in and brought the valentine and took it home with her.

"Ten minutes later Thomas paused outside the self-same store.
You guess the rest. Fate grappled him and pushed him through the door,
And made him buy the fellow to the very valentine
Which Thomasina had purchased there at twenty-five to nine.
He chuckled (and Fate chuckled) the appropriate words to see--

"It was February fourteenth, and the postman's rat-a-tat
Made two hearts in Slocum Pocum beat a feverish pit-pat
Thomas and Thomasina each in turn rushed doorwards and
Snatched their respective missives from the post's extended hand;
And the postman, wicked rascal, slowly winked the other eye,
And said: 'Seems to me the old folks is a gettin' pretty spry.'

"They tore the letters open. 'What is this? Rejected! Spurned!'
Both thought the cards before them were their valentines returned.
And Thomas went to Africa, and Thomasina to Rome;
And other tenants came to fill each small deserted home.
So no more in Slocum Pocum may we hope again to see
Poor Mr. Thomas Todgers and poor Thomasina Tee."

"That's awfully funny," said Delight, as Miss Hart finished reading, "but
I should think they would have known they got each other's valentine."

"I shouldn't," said Midge, who entered more into the spirit of the story;
"they didn't know each other sent any, so each thought their own was
returned. Besides, if they hadn't thought so, there wouldn't have been
any story."

"That's so," said Delight, who usually agreed with Marjorie, finally.

The postman brought lots of valentines for the two little girls.
Delight's were almost all from her friends in New York, although some of
the Rockwell young people had remembered her too.

Marjorie's were nearly all from Rockwell, and though there were none from
any of her family, that did not bother her, for she knew they would come
in the afternoon for the "party."



At four o'clock the "party" came. Midget and Delight, watching from the
window, saw James and Thomas come across the street, bringing between
them a great big something, all wrapped in white tissue paper. They left
their burden, whatever it was, on the porch, rang the door-bell, and went

The children flew to the door, and, with the help of Mary and Miss Hart,
they brought the big thing in.

Though bulky, it was not heavy, and they set it in the library and
proceeded to take off the wrappings. As the last sheet of tissue paper
was removed, shrieks of admiration went up from the girls, and Mrs.
Spencer came running in to see what the excitement was about.

She saw a large heart, about five feet high, made on a light wood frame,
which was covered with red crepe paper. It was bordered with red and
white gilt flowers, also made of paper, and at the top was a big bow of
red ribbon, with long fluttering streamers. On top of the heart, of
either _shoulder_, sat two beautiful white doves which were real doves,
stuffed, and they held in their beaks envelopes, one marked Delight and
one Marjorie.

The whole affair had a back stay, and stood up on the floor like an
easel. The paper that covered the heart was put on in folds, like tucks
upside down, and in the folds were thrust many envelopes, that doubtless
contained valentines. Between and among these were little cupids and
doves fastened on, also nosegays of flowers and fluttering ribbons, and
hearts pierced with darts, and the whole effect was like one great big

Before touching the envelopes, Delight and Marjorie sat on the floor,
their arms round each other, and gazed at the pretty sight.

"Did your father make it?" asked Delight.

"He planned it, I'm sure," replied Marjorie. "But they all helped make
it, I know. I suppose Father had the frame made somewhere, then he and
Mother covered it, and Kit and King helped make the flowers and things.
Oh, I wish I'd been there!"

"Then they wouldn't have made it!" said Delight, quickly, and Midge
laughed, and said:

"No, I suppose not. Well, shall we begin to read the valentines?"

"Yes, but let's take them out slowly, and make it last a long while."

"Yes, for this is our 'party,' you know. Oh, see, these envelopes in the
doves' bills say on them, 'To be opened last.' So we'll begin with these
others. You take one with your name on, first."

So Delight pulled out an envelope that was addressed to her.

It contained a valentine of which the principal figure was a pretty
little girl, something like Delight herself. Inside was written:

"Flossy Flouncy, fair and fine,
Let me be your Valentine.
Here's my heart laid at your feet,
Flossy Flouncy, fair and sweet."

"I know King wrote that!" cried Midget; "he always calls you Flossy
Flouncy. You don't mind, do you?"

"No, indeed! I think it's fun. I'm going to call him Old King Cole. That
is, if I ever see him again."

"Oh, pshaw! We'll be out of this prison next week. The doctor said so.
And you must come and make me a visit to even things up."

"Mother wouldn't let me go to your house to stay, I'm sure; but I can go
over afternoons or Saturdays."

"Yes, and you'll get to know King better. He's an awful nice boy."

"I'm sure he is. Now you take a valentine."

Midget pulled out the biggest one that was addressed to her. It held a
beautiful, large valentine, not home-made, but of most elaborate design.

On its back, though, was a verse written, that Midge knew at once was
done by her father. It said:

"Marjorie Midget Mopsy Mops,
I have looked through all the shops,
Searching for a Valentine
Good enough for Midget Mine.
This is the best that I could do,
So here it is with my love so true."

"Isn't it a beauty!" cried Midge; "I never had such a handsome one
before. See how the flowers are tied with real ribbons, and the birds hop
in and out of their cages."

"It's splendid!" said Delight, "and here's a big one for me too!"

She pulled out a large envelope, addressed to herself, and found a
valentine quite as beautiful as Marjorie's and almost exactly like it. It
was from her father, and as Mr. Spencer didn't have the knack of rhyming
as well as Mr. Maynard, he had written on the back:

"Dear Delight,
I can't write,
But I send you
Affection true,
Yankee Doodle Doo!"

"I think that's funny!" cried Marjorie. "I love funny valentines."

"So do I," agreed Delight; "and I didn't know father could make rhymes as
well as that. He must have learned from your father."

"I 'spect he did. Everybody makes verses at our house."

Marjorie smiled to think of the grave and dignified Mr. Spencer learning
to write funny rhymes, but she was glad Delight had a big valentine like

Then they pulled out the others, by turns. Some were lovely ones that had
been bought; some were home-made ones; some were funny, but the funny
ones were home-made, they were not the dreadful things that are called
"comic" valentines.

Then there were valentines from Gladys and her brother Dick, which had
been delivered by the postman at Marjorie's home, and sent over with the
others. There was one from each of the home servants, who were all fond
of Midget, and glad to send her a token of remembrance. And among the
best of all were valentines from Grandma Sherwood and Uncle Steve.

Uncle Steve was especially clever at writing verses, and he sent several
valentines to both the girls.

One bore a picture of two weeping maidens, behind barred windows in a
castle tower. The verses ran thus:

"Two Princesses locked in a tower,
Alas, alas for they!
I would they need not stay an hour,
Nor yet another day.
But to a lovely rosy bower
The two might fly away.

"I would I were a birdie fleet
That I might wing a flight,
And bear to them a message sweet
Each morning, noon and night.
Twould be to me a perfect treat
To see their faces bright.

"But, no, in their far home they stay,
And I must stay in mine;
But though we are so far away
Our thoughts we may entwine.
And I will send this little lay
From your fond


"That's lovely," said Delight, "and it's for me as much as you. What
jolly relatives you have."

"Oh, Uncle Steve is wonderful. He can do anything. Sometime perhaps you
can go to his house with me, then you'll see. Oh, here's a pretty one,

Midge read aloud:

"What is a Valentine? Tell me, pray.
Only a fanciful roundelay
Bearing a message from one to another
(This time, to a dear little girl from her mother).
Message of love and affection true;
This is a Valentine, I LOVE YOU!"

"That's sweet. Did your mother write it?"

"Yes, Mother makes lovely poetry. Here's a ridiculous one from Kit."

"Marjorie, Parjorie, Pudding and Pie,
Hurry up home, or I'll have to cry.
Since you've been gone I've grown so thin
I'm nothing at all but bone and skin.
So hurry up home if you have any pity
For your poor little lonesome sister


"Why, I thought people never signed valentines," said Delight, laughing
at Kitty's effusion.

"They don't, real ones. But of course these are just nonsense ones, and
anyway I know Kit's writing, so it doesn't matter."

There were lots of others, and through Marjorie, naturally, had more than
Delight, yet there were plenty for both girls, and set out on two tables
they made a goodly show. Miss Hart was called in to see them, but she
answered that she was busy in the dining-room just then, and would come
in a few moments.

The big heart that had held the valentines was not at all marred, but
rather improved by their removal, and, the girls admired it more than

"But we haven't taken the last ones yet," said Delight, looking at the
two envelopes in the bills of the doves. They took them at the same time,
and opened them simultaneously.

Each contained a valentine and a tiny parcel. The valentines were exactly
alike, and their verses read the same:

"This is a Ring Dove, fair and white
That brings this gift to you to-night.
But why a Ring Dove, you may ask;
The answer is an easy task.
Look in this tiny box and see
What has the Ring Dove brought to thee!"

Eagerly the girls opened the boxes, and inside, on a bit of cotton wool,
lay two lovely rings exactly alike. They were set with a little heart
made of tiny pearls and turquoises, and they just fitted the fingers of
the two little girls.

"Aren't they exquisite!" cried Delight, who loved pretty things.

"Beautiful!" agreed Midge, who thought more of the ring as a souvenir.
"We can always remember to-day by them. I suppose your father sent yours
and my father sent mine."

"Yes, of course they did. Oh, Miss Hart, do look at our rings and

Miss Hart came in, smiling, and proved an interested audience of one, as
she examined all the pretty trifles.

"And now," said Miss Hart, at last, "there's more to your valentine
party. Will you come out to the dining-room and see it?"

Wondering, the two girls followed Miss Hart to the dining-room, and
fairly stood still in astonishment at the scene. As it was well after
dusk now, the shades had been drawn, and the lights turned on. The table
was set as if for a real party, and the decorations were all of pink and

Pink candles with pretty pink shades cast a soft light, and pink and
white flowers were beautifully arranged. In the centre was a waxen cupid
with gilt wings, whose outstretched hands bore two large hearts suspended
by ribbons. These hearts were most elaborate satin boxes, one having
Marjorie on it in gilt letters and the other Delight. As it turned out,
they were to be kept as jewel boxes, or boxes for any little trinkets,
but now they were filled with delicious bon-bons, the satin lining being
protected by tinfoil and lace paper.

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