Part 3 out of 3
Then she dropped it into the fire. Behold, it flew straight up chimney.
"How queer!" said Katy; "none of the rest of them did that."
The truth was, that Clover, who was a canny little mortal, had slipped
across the room and opened the door just before putting her wishes in.
This, of course, made a draft, and sent the paper right upward.
Pretty soon Aunt Izzie came in and swept them all off to bed.
"I know how it will be in the morning," she said, "you'll all be up
and racing about as soon as it is light. So you must get your sleep
now, if ever."
After they had gone, Katy recollected that nobody had offered to hang a
stocking up for her. She felt a little hurt when she thought of it. "But
I suppose they forgot," she said to herself.
A little later Papa and Aunt Izzie came in, and they filled the
stockings. It was great fun. Each was brought to Katy, as she lay in
bed, that she might arrange it as she liked.
The toes were stuffed with candy and oranges. Then came the parcels, all
shapes and sizes, tied in white paper, with ribbons, and labelled.
"What's that?" asked Dr. Carr, as Aunt Izzie rammed a long, narrow
package into Clover's stocking.
"A nail-brush," answered Aunt Izzie. "Clover needed a new one."
How Papa and Katy laughed! "I don't believe Santa Claus ever had such a
thing before," said Dr. Carr.
"He's a very dirty old gentleman, then," observed Aunt Izzie, grimly.
The desk and sled were too big to go into any stocking, so they were
wrapped in paper and hung beneath the other things. It was ten o'clock
before all was done, and Papa and Aunt Izzie went away. Katy lay a long
time watching the queer shapes of the stocking-legs as they dangled in
the firelight. Then she fell asleep.
It seemed only a minute, before something touched her and woke her up.
Behold, it was day-time, and there was Philly in his nightgown, climbing
up on the bed to kiss her! The rest of the children, half dressed, were
dancing about with their stockings in their hands.
"Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!" they cried. "Oh, Katy, such
beautiful, beautiful things!"
"Oh!" shrieked Elsie, who at that moment spied her desk, "Santa Claus
_did_ bring it, after all! Why, it's got 'from Katy' written on it! Oh,
Katy, it's so sweet, and I'm _so_ happy!" and Elsie hugged Katy, and
sobbed for pleasure.
But what was that strange thing beside the bed! Katy stared, and rubbed
her eyes. It certainly had not been there when she went to sleep. How
had it come?
It was a little evergreen tree planted in a red flower-pot. The pot had
stripes of gilt paper stuck on it, and gilt stars and crosses, which
made it look very gay. The boughs of the tree were hung with oranges,
and nuts, and shiny red apples, and pop-corn balls, and strings of
bright berries. There were also a number of little packages tied with
blue and crimson ribbon, and altogether the tree looked so pretty, that
Katy gave a cry of delighted surprise.
"It's a Christmas-tree for you, because you're sick, you know!" said the
children, all trying to hug her at once.
"We made it ourselves," said Dorry, hopping about on one foot; "I pasted
the black stars on the pot."
"And I popped the corn!" cried Philly.
"Do you like it?" asked Elsie, cuddling close to Katy. "That's my
present--that one tied with a green ribbon. I wish it was nicer! Don't
you want to open 'em right away?"
Of course Katy wanted to. All sorts of things came out of the little
bundles. The children had arranged every parcel themselves. No grown
person had been allowed to help in the least.
Elsie's present was a pen-wiper, with a gray flannel kitten on it.
Johnnie's, a doll's tea-tray of scarlet tin.
"Isn't it beau-ti-ful?" she said, admiringly.
Dorry's gift, I regret to say, was a huge red-and-yellow spider, which
whirred wildly when waved at the end of its string.
"They didn't want me to buy it," said he, "but I did! I thought it would
amoose you. Does it amoose you, Katy?"
"Yes, indeed," said Katy, laughing and blinking as Dorry waved the
spider to and fro before her eyes.
"You can play with it when we ain't here and you're all alone, you
know," remarked Dorry, highly gratified.
"But you don't notice what the tree's standing upon," said Clover.
It was a chair, a very large and curious one, with a long-cushioned
back, which ended in a footstool.
"That's Papa's present," said Clover; "see, it tips back so as to be
just like a bed. And Papa says he thinks pretty soon you can lie on it,
in the window, where you can see us play."
"Does he really?" said Katy, doubtfully. It still hurt her very much to
be touched or moved.
"And see what's tied to the arm of the chair," said Elsie.
It was a little silver bell, with "Katy" engraved on the handle.
"Cousin Helen sent it. It's for you to ring when you want anybody to
come," explained Elsie.
More surprises. To the other arm of the chair was fastened a beautiful
book. It was "The Wide Wide World"--and there Was Katy's name written on
it, 'from her affectionate Cecy.' On it stood a great parcel of dried
cherries from Mrs. Hall. Mrs. Hall had the most _delicious_ dried
cherries, the children thought.
"How perfectly lovely everybody is!" said Katy, with grateful tears
in her eyes.
That was a pleasant Christmas. The children declared it to be the nicest
they had ever had. And though Katy couldn't quite say that, she enjoyed
it too, and was very happy.
It was several weeks before she was able to use the chair, but when once
she became accustomed to it, it proved very comfortable. Aunt Izzie
would dress her in the morning, tip the chair back till it was on a
level with the bed, and then, very gently and gradually, draw her over
on to it. Wheeling across the room was always painful, but sitting in
the window and looking out at the clouds, the people going by, and the
children playing in the snow, was delightful. How delightful nobody
knows, excepting those who, like Katy, have lain for six months in bed,
without a peep at the outside world. Every day she grew brighter and
"How jolly Santa Claus was this year!" She happened to say one day, when
she was talking with Cecy. "I wish another Saint would come and pay us a
visit. But I don't know any more, except Cousin Helen, and she can't."
"There's St. Valentine," suggested Cecy.
"Sure enough. What a bright thought!" cried Katy, clapping her hands.
"Oh, Cecy, let's do something funny on Valentine's-Day! Such a good idea
has just popped into my mind."
So the two girls put their heads together and held a long, mysterious
confabulation. What it was about, we shall see farther on.
Valentine's-Day was the next Friday. When the children came home from
school on Thursday afternoon, Aunt Izzie met them, and, to their great
surprise, told them that Cecy was come to drink tea, and they must all
go up stairs and be made nice.
"But Cecy comes most every day," remarked Dorry, who didn't see the
connection between this fact and having his face washed.
"Yes--but to-night you are to take tea in Katy's room," said Aunt Izzie;
"here are the invitations: one for each of you."
Sure enough, there was a neat little note for each, requesting the
pleasure of their company at "Queen Katharine's Palace," that afternoon,
at six o'clock.
This put quite a different aspect on the affair. The children scampered
up stairs, and pretty soon, all nicely brushed and washed, they were
knocking formally at the door of the "Palace." How fine it sounded!
The room looked bright and inviting. Katy, in her chair, sat close to
the fire, Cecy was beside her, and there was a round table all set out
with a white cloth and mugs of milk and biscuit, and strawberry-Jam and
doughnuts. In the middle was a loaf of frosted cake. There was something
on the icing which looked like pink letters, and Clover, leaning
forward, read aloud, "St. Valentine."
"What's that for?" asked Dorry.
"Why, you know this is St. Valentine's-Eve," replied Katy. "Debbie
remembered it, I guess, so she put that on."
Nothing more was said about St. Valentine just then. But when the last
pink letter of his name had been eaten, and the supper had been cleared
away, suddenly, as the children sat by the fire, there was a loud rap
at the door.
"Who can that be?" said Katy; "please see, Clover!"
So Clover opened the door. There stood Bridget, trying very hard not to
laugh, and holding a letter in her hand.
"It's a note as has come for you, Miss Clover," she said.
"For _me_!" cried Clover, much amazed. Then she shut the door, and
brought the note to the table.
"How very funny!" she exclaimed, as she looked at the envelope, which
was a green and white one. There was something hard inside. Clover broke
the seal. Out tumbled a small green velvet pincushion made in the shape
of a clover-leaf, with a tiny stem of wire wound with green silk. Pinned
to the cushion was a paper, with these verses:
"Some people love roses well,
Tulips, gayly dressed,
Some love violets blue and sweet,--
I love Clover best.
"Though she has a modest air,
Though no grace she boast,
Though no gardener call her fair,
I love Clover most.
"Butterfly may pass her by,
He is but a rover,
I'm a faithful, loving Bee--
And I stick to Clover."
This was the first valentine Clover had ever had. She was perfectly
"Oh, who _do_ you suppose sent it?" she cried.
But before anybody could answer, there came another loud knock at
the door, which made them all jump. Behold, Bridget again, with a
"It's for you, Miss Elsie, this time," she said with a grin.
There was an instant rush from all the children, and the envelope was
torn open in the twinkling of an eye. Inside was a little ivory seal
with "Elsie" on it in old English letters, and these rhymes:
"I know a little girl,
She is very dear to me,
She is just as sweet as honey
When she chooses so to be,
And her name begins with E, and ends with E.
"She has brown hair which curls,
And black eyes for to see
With, teeth like tiny pearls,
And dimples, one, two--three,
And her name begins with E, and ends with E.
"Her little feet run faster
Than other feet can flee,
As she brushes quickly past, her
Voice hums like a bee,
And her name begins with E, and ends with E.
"Do you ask me why I love her?
Then I shall answer thee,
Because I can't help loving,
She is so sweet to me,
This little girl whose name begins and ends with 'E.'"
"It's just like a fairy story," said Elsie, whose eyes had grown as
big as saucers from surprise, while these verses were being read
aloud by Cecy.
Another knock. This time there was a perfect handful of letters.
Everybody had one. Katy, to her great surprise, had _two_.
"Why, what _can_ this be?" she said. But when she peeped into the second
one, she saw Cousin Helen's handwriting, and she put it into her pocket,
till the valentines should be read.
Dorry's was opened first. It had the picture of a pie at the
top--I ought to explain that Dorry had lately been having a siege
with the dentist.
"Little Jack Horner
Sat in his corner,
Eating his Christmas pie,
When a sudden grimace
Spread over his face,
And he began loudly to cry.
"His tender Mamma
Heard the sound from afar,
And hastened to comfort her child;
'What aileth my John?'
She inquired in a tone
Which belied her question mild.
"'Oh, Mother,' he said,
'Every tooth in my head
Jumps and aches and is loose, O my!
And it hurts me to eat
Anything that is sweet--
So what _will_ become of my pie?'
"It were vain to describe
How he roared and he cried,
And howled like a miniature tempest;
Suffice it to say,
That the very next day
He had all his teeth pulled by a dentist!"
This valentine made the children laugh for a long time. Johnnie's
envelope held a paper doll named "Red Riding-Hood." These were
"I send you my picture, dear Johnnie, to show
That I'm just as alive as you,
And that you needn't cry over my fate
Any more, as you used to do.
"The wolf didn't hurt me at all that day,
For I kicked and fought and cried,
Till he dropped me out of his mouth, and ran
Away in the woods to hide.
"And Grandma and I have lived ever since
In the little brown house so small,
And churned fresh butter and made cream cheeses,
Nor seen the wolf at all.
"So cry no more for fear I am eaten,
The naughty wolf is shot,
And if you will come to tea some evening
You shall see for yourself I'm not."
Johnnie was immensely pleased at this, for Red Riding-Hood was a great
favorite of hers.
Philly had a bit of india-rubber in his letter, which was written with
very black ink on a big sheet of foolscap:
"I was once a naughty man,
And I hid beneath the bed,
To steal your india-rubbers,
But I chewed them up instead.
"Then you called out, 'Who is there?'
I was thrown most in a fit,
And I let the india-rubbers fall--
All but this little bit.
"I'm sorry for my naughty ways,
And now, to make amends,
I send the chewed piece back again,
And beg we may be friends.
"Just listen to mine," said Cecy, who had all along pretended to be as
much surprised as anybody, and now behaved as if she could hardly wait
till Philly's was finished. Then she read aloud:
"If I were a bird
And you were a bird,
What would we do?
Why you should be little and I would be big,
And, side by side on a cherry-tree twig,
We'd kiss with our yellow bills, and coo--
That's what we'd do!
"If I were a fish
And you were a fish,
What would we do?
We'd frolic, and whisk our little tails,
And play all sorts of tricks with the whales,
And call on the oysters, and order a 'stew,'
That's what we'd do!
"If I were a bee
And you were a bee,
What would we do?
We'd find a home in a breezy wood,
And store it with honey sweet and good.
You should feed me and I would feed you,
That's what we'd do!
"I think that's the prettiest of all," said Clover.
"I don't," said Elsie. "I think mine is the prettiest. Cecy didn't have
any seal in hers, either." And she fondled the little seal, which all
this time she had held in her hand.
"Katy, you ought to have read yours first because you are the oldest,"
"Mine isn't much," replied Katy, and she read:
"The rose is red the violet blue,
Sugar is sweet, and so are you."
"What a mean valentine!" cried Elsie, with flashing eyes. "It's a real
shame, Katy! You ought to have had the best of all."
Katy could hardly keep from laughing. The fact was that the verses for
the others had taken so long, that no time had been left for writing a
valentine to herself. So, thinking it would excite suspicion to have
none, she had scribbled this old rhyme at the last moment.
"It isn't very nice," she said, trying to look as pensive as she could,
"but never mind."
"It's a shame!" repeated Elsie, petting her very hard to make up for the
"Hasn't it been a funny evening?" said John; and Dorry replied, "Yes; we
never had such good times before Katy was sick, did we?"
Katy heard this with a mingled feeling of pleasure and pain. "I think
the children do love me a little more of late," she said to herself.
"But, oh, why couldn't I be good to them when I was well and strong!"
She didn't open Cousin Helen's letter until the rest were all gone to
bed. I think somebody must have written and told about the valentine
party, for instead of a note there were these verses in Cousin Helen's
own clear, pretty hand. It wasn't a valentine, because it was too
solemn, as Katy explained to Clover, next day. "But," she added, "it is
a great deal beautifuller than any valentine that ever was written." And
Clover thought so too.
These were the verses:
"I used to go to a bright school
Where Youth and Frolic taught in turn;
But idle scholar that I was,
I liked to play, I would not learn;
So the Great Teacher did ordain
That I should try the School of Pain.
"One of the infant class I am
With little, easy lessons, set
In a great book; the higher class
Have harder ones than I, and yet
I find mine hard, and can't restrain
My tears while studying thus with Pain.
"There are two Teachers in the school,
One has a gentle voice and low,
And smiles upon her scholars, as
She softly passes to and fro.
Her name is Love; 'tis very plain
She shuns the sharper teacher, Pain.
"Or so I sometimes think; and then,
At other times, they meet and kiss,
And look so strangely like, that I
Am puzzled to tell how it is,
Or whence the change which makes it vain
To guess if it be--Love or Pain.
"They tell me if I study well,
And learn my lessons, I shall be
Moved upward to that higher class
Where dear Love teaches constantly;
And I work hard, in hopes to gain
Reward, and get away from Pain.
"Yet Pain is sometimes kind, and helps
Me on when I am very dull;
I thank him often in my heart;
But Love is far more beautiful;
Under her tender, gentle reign
I must learn faster than of Pain.
"So I will do my very best,
Nor chide the clock, nor call it slow;
That when the Teacher calls me up
To see if I am fit to go,
I may to Love's high class attain,
And bid a sweet good-by to Pain."
A NEW LESSON TO LEARN
It was a long time before the children ceased to talk and laugh over
that jolly evening. Dorry declared he wished there could be a
Valentine's-Day every week.
"Don't you think St. Valentine would be tired of writing verses?" asked
Katy. But she, too, had enjoyed the frolic, and the bright recollection
helped her along through the rest of the long, cold winter.
Spring opened late that year, but the Summer, when it came, was a warm
one. Katy felt the heat very much. She could not change her seat and
follow the breeze about from window to window as other people could. The
long burning days left her weak and parched. She hung her head, and
seemed to wilt like the flowers in the garden-beds. Indeed she was worse
off than they, for every evening Alexander gave them a watering with the
hose, while nobody was able to bring a watering-pot and pour out what
she needed--a shower of cold, fresh air.
It wasn't easy to be good-humored under these circumstances, and one
could hardly have blamed Katy if she had sometimes forgotten her
resolutions and been cross and fretful. But she didn't--not very often.
Now and then bad days came, when she was discouraged and forlorn. But
Katy's long year of schooling had taught her self-control, and, as a
general thing, her discomforts were borne patiently. She could not help
growing pale and thin however, and Papa saw with concern that, as the
summer went on, she became too languid to read, or study, or sew, and
just sat hour after hour, with folded hands, gazing wistfully out of
He tried the experiment of taking her to drive. But the motion of the
carriage, and the being lifted in and out, brought on so much pain, that
Katy begged that he would not ask her to go again. So there was nothing
to be done but wait for cooler weather. The summer dragged on, and all
who loved Katy rejoiced when it was over.
When September came, with cool mornings and nights, and fresh breezes,
smelling of pine woods, and hill-tops, all things seemed to revive, and
Katy with them. She began to crochet and to read. After a while she
collected her books again, and tried to study as Cousin Helen had
advised. But so many idle weeks made it seem harder work than ever. One
day she asked Papa to let her take French lessons.
"You see I'm forgetting all I knew," she said, "and Clover is going to
begin this term, and I don't like that she should get so far ahead of
me. Don't you think Mr. Berger would be willing to come here, Papa? He
does go to houses sometimes."
"I think he would if we asked him," said Dr. Carr, pleased to see Katy
waking up with something like life again.
So the arrangement was made. Mr. Berger came twice every week, and sat
beside the big chair, correcting Katy's exercises and practising her in
the verbs and pronunciation. He was a lively little old Frenchman, and
knew how to make lesson-time pleasant.
"You take more pain than you used, Mademoiselle," he said one day; "if
you go on so, you shall be my best scholar. And if to hurt the back make
you study, it would be well that some other of my young ladies shall do
Katy laughed. But in spite of Mr. Berger and his lessons, and in spite
of her endeavors to keep cheerful and busy, this second winter was
harder than the first. It is often so with sick people. There is a sort
of excitement in being ill which helps along just at the beginning. But
as months go on, and everything grows an old story, and one day follows
another day, all just alike and all tiresome, courage is apt to flag and
spirits to grow dull. Spring seemed a long, long way off whenever Katy
thought about it.
"I wish something would happen," she often said to herself. And
something was about to happen. But she little guessed what it was
going to be.
"Katy!" said Clover, coming in one day in November, "do you know where
the camphor is? Aunt Izzie has got _such_ a headache."
"No," replied Katy, "I don't. Or--wait--Clover, it seems to me that
Debby came for it the other day. Perhaps if you look in her room
you'll find it."
"How very queer!" she soliloquized, when Clover was gone; "I never knew
Aunt Izzie to have a headache before."
"How is Aunt Izzie?" she asked, when Papa came in at noon.
"Well, I don't know. She has some fever and a bad pain in her head. I
have told her that she had better lie still, and not try to get up this
evening. Old Mary will come in to undress you, Katy. You won't mind,
will you, dear?"
"N-o!" said Katy, reluctantly. But she did mind. Aunt Izzie had grown
used to her and her ways. Nobody else suited her so well.
"It seems so strange to have to explain just how every little thing is
to be done," she remarked to Clover, rather petulantly.
It seemed stranger yet, when the next day, and the next, and the next
after that passed, and still no Aunt Izzie came near her. Blessings
brighten as they take their flight. Katy began to appreciate for the
first time how much she had learned to rely on her aunt. She missed her
"When _is_ Aunt Izzie going to get well?" she asked her father; "I want
her so much."
"We all want her," said Dr. Carr, who looked disturbed and anxious.
"Is she very sick?" asked Katy, struck by the expression of his face.
"Pretty sick, I'm afraid," he replied. "I'm going to get a regular nurse
to take care of her."
Aunt Izzie's attack proved to be typhoid fever. The doctors said that
the house must be kept quiet, so John, and Dorry, and Phil were sent
over to Mrs. Hall's to stay. Elsie and Clover were to have gone too, but
they begged so hard, and made so many promises of good behavior, that
finally Papa permitted them to remain. The dear little things stole
about the house on tiptoe, as quietly as mice, whispering to each other,
and waiting on Katy, who would have been lonely enough without them, for
everybody else was absorbed in Aunt Izzie.
It was a confused, melancholy time. The three girls didn't know much
about sickness, but Papa's grave face, and the hushed house, weighed
upon their spirits, and they missed the children very much.
"Oh dear!" sighed Elsie. "How I wish Aunt Izzie would hurry and
"We'll be real good to her when she does, won't we?" said Clover. "I
never mean to leave my rubbers in the hat-stand any more, because she
don't like to have me. And I shall pick up the croquet-balls and put
them in the box every night."
"Yes," added Elsie, "so will I, when she gets well."
It never occurred to either of them that perhaps Aunt Izzie might not
get well. Little people are apt to feel as if grown folks are so strong
and so big, that nothing can possibly happen to them.
Katy was more anxious. Still she did not fairly realize the danger. So
it came like a sudden and violent shock to her, when, one morning on
waking up, she found old Mary crying quietly beside the bed, with her
apron at her eyes. Aunt Izzie had died in the night!
All their kind, penitent thoughts of her; their resolutions to
please--their plans for obeying her wishes and saving her trouble, were
too late! For the first time, the three girls, sobbing in each other's
arms, realized what a good friend Aunt Izzie had been to them. Her
worrying ways were all forgotten now. They could only remember the many
kind things she had done for them since they were little children. How
they wished that they had never teased her, never said sharp words about
her to each other! But it was no use to wish.
"What shall we do without Aunt Izzie?" thought Katy, as she cried
herself to sleep that night. And the question came into her mind again
and again, after the funeral was over and the little ones had come back
from Mrs. Hall's, and things began to go on in their usual manner.
For several days she saw almost nothing of her father. Clover reported
that he looked very tired and scarcely said a word.
"Did Papa eat any dinner?" asked Katy, one afternoon.
"Not much. He said he wasn't hungry. And Mrs. Jackson's boy came for him
before we were through."
"Oh dear!" sighed Katy, "I do hope _he_ isn't going to be sick. How it
rains! Clovy, I wish you'd run down and get out his slippers and put
them by the fire to warm. Oh, and ask Debby to make some cream-toast for
tea! Papa likes cream-toast."
After tea, Dr. Carr came up stairs to sit a while in Katy's room. He
often did so, but this was the first time since Aunt Izzie's death.
Katy studied his face anxiously. It seemed to her that it had grown
older of late, and there was a sad look upon it, which made her heart
ache. She longed to do something for him, but all she could do was to
poke the fire bright, and then to possess herself of his hand, and
stroke it gently with both hers. It wasn't much, to be sure, but I think
Papa liked it.
"What have you been about all day?" he asked.
"Oh, nothing, much," said Katy. "I studied my French lesson this
morning. And after school, Elsie and John brought in their patchwork,
and we had a 'Bee.' That's all."
"I've been thinking how we are to manage about the housekeeping," said
Dr. Carr. "Of course we shall have to get somebody to come and take
charge. But it isn't easy to find just the right person. Mrs. Hall knows
of a woman who might do, but she is out West, just now, and it will be a
week or two before we can hear from her. Do you think you can get on as
you are for a few days?"
"Oh, Papa!" cried Katy, in dismay, "must we have anybody?"
"Why, how did you suppose we were going to arrange it? Clover is much
too young for a housekeeper. And beside, she is at school all day."
"I don't know--I hadn't thought about it," said Katy, in a
But she did think about it--all that evening, and the first thing when
she woke in the morning.
"Papa," she said, the next time she got him to herself, "I've been
thinking over what you were saying last night, about getting somebody to
keep the house, you know. And I wish you wouldn't. I wish you would let
_me_ try. Really and truly, I think I could manage."
"But how?" asked Dr. Carr, much surprised. "I really don't see. If you
were well and strong, perhaps--but even then you would be pretty young
for such a charge, Katy."
"I shall be fourteen in two weeks," said Katy, drawing herself up in her
chair as straight as she could. "And if I _were_ well, Papa, I should be
going to school, you know, and then of course I couldn't. No, I'll tell
you my plan. I've been thinking about it all day. Debby and Bridget have
been with us so long, that they know all Aunt Izzie's ways, and they're
such good women, that all they want is just to be told a little now and
then. Now, why couldn't they come up to me when anything is wanted--just
as well as to have me go down to them? Clover and old Mary will keep
watch, you know, and see if anything is wrong. And you wouldn't mind if
things were a little crooked just at first, would you? because, you
know, I should be learning all the time. Do let me try! It will be real
nice to have something to think about as I sit up here alone, so much
better than having a stranger in the house who doesn't know the children
or anything. I am sure it will make me happier. Please say 'Yes,' Papa,
"It's too much for you, a great deal too much," replied Dr. Carr. But it
was not easy to resist Katy's "Please! Please!" and after a while it
"Well, darling, you may try, though I am doubtful as to the result of
the experiment. I will tell Mrs. Hall to put off writing to Wisconsin
for a month, and we will see.
"Poor child, anything to take her thoughts off herself!" he muttered, as
he walked down stairs. "She'll be glad enough to give the thing up by
the end of the month."
But Papa was mistaken. At the end of a month Katy was eager to go on.
So he said,
"Very well--she might try it till Spring."
It was not such hard work as it sounds. Katy had plenty of quiet
thinking-time for one thing. The children were at school all day, and
few visitors came to interrupt her, so she could plan out her hours and
keep to the plans. That is a great help to a housekeeper.
Then Aunt Izzie's regular, punctual ways were so well understood by the
servants, that the house seemed almost to keep itself. As Katy had said,
all Debby and Bridget needed was a little "telling" now and then.
As soon as breakfast was over, and the dishes were washed and put away,
Debby would tie on a clean apron, and come up stairs for orders. At
first Katy thought this great fun. But after ordering dinner a good many
times, it began to grow tiresome. She never saw the dishes after they
were cooked; and, being inexperienced, it seemed impossible to think of
things enough to make a variety.
"Let me see--there is roast beef--leg of mutton--boiled chicken," she
would say, counting on her fingers, "roast beef--leg of mutton--boiled
chicken. Debby, you might roast the chickens. Dear!--I wish somebody
would invent a new animal! Where all the things to eat are gone to, I
Then Katy would send for every recipe-book in the house, and pore over
them by the hour, till her appetite was as completely gone as if she had
swallowed twenty dinners. Poor Debby learned to dread these books. She
would stand by the door with her pleasant red face drawn up into a
pucker, while Katy read aloud some impossible-sounding rule.
"This looks as if it were delicious, Debby, I wish you'd try it: Take a
gallon of oysters, a pint of beef stock, sixteen soda crackers, the
juice of two lemons, four cloves, a glass of white wine, a sprig of
marjoram, a sprig of thyme, a sprig of bay, a sliced shalott--"
"Please, Miss Katy, what's them?"
"Oh, don't you know, Debby? It must be something quite common, for it's
in almost all the recipes."
"No, Miss Katy, I never heard tell of it before. Miss Carr never gave me
no shell-outs at all at all!"
"Dear me, how provoking!" Katy would cry, flapping over the leaves of
her book; "then we must try something else."
Poor Debby! If she hadn't loved Katy so dearly, I think her patience
must have given way. But she bore her trials meekly, except for an
occasional grumble when alone with Bridget. Dr. Carr had to eat a great
many queer things in those days. But he didn't mind, and as for the
children, they enjoyed it. Dinner-time became quite exciting, when
nobody could tell exactly what any dish on the table was made of. Dorry,
who was a sort of Dr. Livingstone where strange articles of food were
concerned, usually made the first experiment, and if he said that it was
good, the rest followed suit.
After a while Katy grew wiser. She ceased teasing Debby to try new
things, and the Carr family went back to plain roast and boiled, much to
the advantage of all concerned. But then another series of experiments
began. Katy got hold of a book upon "The Stomach," and was seized with a
rage for wholesome food. She entreated Clover and the other children to
give up sugar, and butter, and gravy, and pudding-sauce, and buckwheat
cakes, and pies, and almost everything else that they particularly
liked. Boiled rice seemed to her the most sensible dessert, and she kept
the family on it until finally John and Dorry started a rebellion, and
Dr. Carr was forced to interfere.
"My dear, you are overdoing it sadly," he said, as Katy opened her book
and prepared to explain her views; "I am glad to have the children eat
simple food--but really, boiled rice five times in a week is too much."
Katy sighed, but submitted. Later, as the Spring came on, she had a fit
of over-anxiousness, and was always sending Clover down to ask Debby if
her bread was not burning, or if she was sure that the pickles were not
fermenting in their jars? She also fidgeted the children about wearing
india-rubbers, and keeping on their coats, and behaved altogether as if
the cares of the world were on her shoulders.
But all these were but the natural mistakes of a beginner. Katy was too
much in earnest not to improve. Month by month she learned how to
manage a little better, and a little better still. Matters went on more
smoothly. Her cares ceased to fret her. Dr. Carr watching the
increasing brightness of her face and manner, felt that the experiment
was a success. Nothing more was said about "somebody else," and Katy,
sitting up stairs in her big chair, held the threads of the house
firmly in her hands.
TWO YEARS AFTERWARD
It was a pleasant morning in early June. A warm wind was rustling the
trees, which were covered thickly with half-opened leaves, and looked
like fountains of green spray thrown high into the air. Dr. Carr's front
door stood wide open. Through the parlor window came the sound of piano
practice, and on the steps, under the budding roses, sat a small figure,
This was Clover, little Clover still, though more than two years had
passed since we saw her last, and she was now over fourteen. Clover was
never intended to be tall. Her eyes were as blue and sweet as ever, and
her apple-blossom cheeks as pink. But the brown pig-tails were pinned up
into a round knot, and the childish face had gained almost a womanly
look. Old Mary declared that Miss Clover was getting quite
young-ladyfied, and "Miss Clover" was quite aware of the fact, and
mightily pleased with it. It delighted her to turn up her hair; and she
was very particular about having her dresses made to come below the tops
of her boots. She had also left off ruffles, and wore narrow collars
instead, and little cuffs with sleeve-buttons to fasten them. These
sleeve-buttons, which were a present from Cousin Helen, Clover liked
best of all her things. Papa said that he was sure she took them to bed
with her, but of course that was only a joke, though she certainly was
never seen without them in the daytime. She glanced frequently at these
beloved buttons as she sat sewing, and every now and then laid down her
work to twist them into a better position, or give them an affectionate
pat with her forefinger.
Pretty soon the side-gate swung open, and Philly came round the corner
of the house. He had grown into a big boy. All his pretty baby curls
were cut off, and his frocks had given place to jacket and trousers. In
his hand he held something. What, Clover could not see.
"What's that?" she said, as he reached the steps.
"I'm going up stairs to ask Katy if these are ripe," replied Phil,
exhibiting some currants faintly streaked with red.
"Why, of course they're not ripe!" said Clover, putting one into her
mouth. "Can't you tell by the taste? They're as green as can be."
"I don't care, if Katy says they're ripe I shall eat 'em," answered
Phil, defiantly, marching into the house.
"What did Philly want?" asked Elsie, opening the parlor door as Phil
went up stairs.
"Only to know if the currants are ripe enough to eat."
"How particular he always is about asking now!" said Elsie; "he's afraid
of another dose of salts."
"I should think he would be," replied Clover, laughing. "Johnnie says
she never was so scared in her life as when Papa called them, and they
looked up, and saw him standing there with the bottle in one hand and a
spoon in the other!"
"Yes," went on Elsie, "and you know Dorry held his in his mouth for ever
so long, and then went round the corner of the house and spat it out!
Papa said he had a good mind to make him take another spoonful, but he
remembered that after all Dorry had the bad taste a great deal longer
than the others, so he didn't. I think it was an _awful_ punishment,
"Yes, but it was a good one, for none of them have ever touched the
green gooseberries since. Have you got through practising? It doesn't
seem like an hour yet."
"Oh, it isn't--it's only twenty-five minutes. But Katy told me not to
sit more than half an hour at a time without getting up and running
round to rest. I'm going to walk twice down to the gate, and twice back.
I promised her I would." And Elsie set off, clapping her hands briskly
before and behind her as she walked.
"Why--what is Bridget doing in Papa's room?" she asked, as she came back
the second time. "She's flapping things out of the window. Are the girls
up there? I thought they were cleaning the dining-room."
"They're doing both. Katy said it was such a good chance, having Papa
away, that she would have both the carpets taken up at once. There isn't
going to be any dinner today, only just bread and butter, and milk, and
cold ham, up in Katy's room, because Debby is helping too, so as to get
through and save Papa all the fuss. And see," exhibiting her sewing,
"Katy's making a new cover for Papa's pincushion, and I'm hemming the
ruffle to go round it."
"How nicely you hem!" said Elsie. "I wish I had something for Papa's
room too. There's my washstand mats--but the one for the soap-dish isn't
finished. Do you suppose, if Katy would excuse me from the rest of my
practising, I could get it done? I've a great mind to go and ask her."
"There's her bell!" said Clover, as a little tinkle sounded up stairs;
"I'll ask her, if you like."
"No, let me go. I'll see what she wants." But Clover was already
half-way across the hall, and the two girls ran up side by side. There
was often a little strife between them as to which should answer Katy's
bell. Both liked to wait on her so much.
Katy came to meet them as they entered. Not on her feet: that, alas! was
still only a far-off possibility; but in a chair with large wheels, with
which she was rolling herself across the room. This chair was a great
comfort to her. Sitting in it, she could get to her closet and her
bureau-drawers, and help herself to what she wanted without troubling
anybody. It was only lately that she had been able to use it. Dr. Carr
considered her doing so as a hopeful sign, but he had never told Katy
this. She had grown accustomed to her invalid life at last, and was
cheerful in it, and he thought it unwise to make her restless, by
exciting hopes which might after all end in fresh disappointment.
She met the girls with a bright smile as they came in, and said:
"Oh, Clovy, it was you I rang for! I am troubled for fear Bridget will
meddle with the things on Papa's table. You know he likes them to be
left just so. Will you please go and remind her that she is not to
touch them at all? After the carpet is put down, I want you to dust the
table, so as to be sure that everything is put back in the same place.
"Of course I will!" said Clover, who was a born housewife, and dearly
loved to act as Katy's prime minister.
"Sha'n't I fetch you the pincushion too, while I'm there?"
"Oh yes, please do! I want to measure."
"Katy," said Elsie, "those mats of mine are most done, and I would like
to finish them and put them on Papa's washstand before he comes back.
Mayn't I stop practising now, and bring my crochet up here instead?"
"Will there be plenty of time to learn the new exercise before Miss
Phillips comes, if you do?"
"I think so, plenty. She doesn't come till Friday, you know."
"Well, then it seems to me that you might just as well as not. And
Elsie, dear, run into papa's room first, and bring me the drawer out of
his table. I want to put that in order myself."
Elsie went cheerfully. She laid the drawer across Katy's lap, and Katy
began to dust and arrange the contents. Pretty soon Clover joined them.
"Here's the cushion," she said. "Now we'll have a nice quiet time all by
ourselves, won't we? I like this sort of day, when nobody comes in to
Somebody tapped at the door, as she spoke. Katy called out, "Come!" And
in marched a tall, broad-shouldered lad, with a solemn, sensible face,
and a little clock carried carefully in both his hands. This was Dorry.
He has grown and improved very much since we saw him last, and is
turning out clever in several ways. Among the rest, he has developed a
strong turn for mechanics.
"Here's your clock, Katy," he said. "I've got it fixed so that it
strikes all right. Only you must be careful not to hit the striker when
you start the pendulum."
"Have you, really?" said Katy. "Why, Dorry, you're a genius! I'm ever so
"It's four minutes to eleven now," went on Dorry. "So it'll strike
pretty soon. I guess I'd better stay and hear it, so as to be sure that
it is right. That is," he added politely, "unless you're busy, and would
"I'm never too busy to want you, old fellow," said Katy, stroking his
arm. "Here, this drawer is arranged now. Don't you want to carry it
into Papa's room and put it back into the table? Your hands are
stronger than Elsie's."
Dorry looked gratified. When he came back the clock was just beginning
"There!" he exclaimed; "that's splendid, isn't it?"
But alas! the clock did not stop at eleven. It went on--Twelve,
Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen!
"Dear me!" said Clover, "what does all this mean? It must be day after
to-morrow, at least."
Dorry stared with open mouth at the clock, which was still striking
as though it would split its sides. Elsie, screaming with laughter,
"Thirty, Thirty-one--Oh, Dorry! Thirty-two! Thirty-three! Thirty-four!"
"You've bewitched it, Dorry!" said Katy, as much entertained as the
Then they all began counting. Dorry seized the clock--shook it, slapped
it, turned it upside-down. But still the sharp, vibrating sounds
continued, as if the clock, having got its own way for once, meant to go
on till it was tired out. At last, at the one-hundred-and-thirtieth
stroke, it suddenly ceased; and Dorry, with a red, amazed countenance,
faced the laughing company.
"It's very queer," he said, "but I'm sure it's not because of anything I
did. I can fix it, though, if you'll let me try again. May I, Katy? I'll
promise not to hurt it."
For a moment Katy hesitated. Clover pulled her sleeve, and
whispered, "Don't!" Then seeing the mortification on Dorry's face,
she made up her mind.
"Yes! take it, Dorry. I'm sure you'll be careful. But if I were you, I'd
carry it down to Wetherell's first of all, and talk it over with them.
Together you could hit on just the right thing. Don't you think so?"
"Perhaps," said Dorry; "yes, I think I will." Then he departed with the
clock under his arm, while Clover called after him teasingly, "Lunch at
132 o'clock; don't forget!"
"No, I won't!" said Dorry. Two years before he would not have borne to
be laughed at so good-naturedly.
"How could you let him take your clock again?" said Clover, as soon as
the door was shut. "He'll spoil it. And you think so much of it."
"I thought he would feel mortified if I didn't let him try," replied
Katy, quietly, "I don't believe he'll hurt it. Wetherell's man likes
Dorry, and he'll show him what to do."
"You were real good to do it," responded Clover; "but if it had been
mine I don't think I could."
Just then the door flew open, and Johnnie rushed in, two years taller,
but otherwise looking exactly as she used to do.
"Oh, Katy!" she gasped, "won't you please tell Philly not to wash the
chickens in the rain-water tub? He's put in every one of Speckle's, and
is just beginning on Dame Durden's. I'm afraid one little yellow one is
"Why, he mustn't--of course he mustn't!" said Katy; "what made him think
of such a thing?"
"He says they're dirty, because they've just come out of egg-shells! And
he insists that the yellow on them is yolk-of-egg. I told him it wasn't,
but he wouldn't listen to me." And Johnnie wrung her hands.
"Clover!" cried Katy, "won't you run down and ask Philly to come up to
me? Speak pleasantly, you know!"
"I spoke pleasantly--real pleasantly, but it wasn't any use," said
Johnnie, on whom the wrongs of the chicks had evidently made a deep
"What a mischief Phil is getting to be!" said Elsie. "Papa says his name
ought to be Pickle."
"Pickles turn out very nice sometimes, you know," replied Katy,
Pretty soon Philly came up, escorted by Clover. He looked a little
defiant, but Katy understood how to manage him. She lifted him into her
lap, which, big boy as he was, he liked extremely; and talked to him so
affectionately about the poor little shivering chicks, that his heart
was quite melted.
"I didn't mean to hurt 'em, really and truly," he said, "but they were
all dirty and yellow--with egg, you know, and I thought you'd like me to
clean 'em up."
"But that wasn't egg, Philly--it was dear little clean feathers, like a
"Yes. And now the chickies are as cold and forlorn as you would feel if
you tumbled into a pond and nobody gave you any dry clothes. Don't you
think you ought to go and warm them?"
"Well--in your hands, very gently. And then I would let them run round
in the sun."
"I will!" said Philly, getting down from her lap. "Only kiss me first,
because I didn't mean to, you know!"--Philly was very fond of Katy. Miss
Petingill said it was wonderful to see how that child let himself be
managed. But I think the secret was that Katy didn't "manage," but tried
to be always kind and loving, and considerate of Phil's feelings.
Before the echo of Phil's boots had fairly died away on the stairs,
old Mary put her head into the door. There was a distressed expression
on her face.
"Miss Katy," she said, "I wish _you'd_ speak to Alexander about putting
the woodshed in order. I don't think you know how bad it looks."
"I don't suppose I do," said Katy, smiling, and then sighing. She had
never seen the wood-shed since the day of her fall from the swing.
"Never mind, Mary, I'll talk to Alexander about it, and he shall make it
Mary trotted down stairs satisfied. But in the course of a few minutes
she was up again.
"There's a man come with a box of soap, Miss Katy, and here's the bill.
He says it's resated."
It took Katy a little time to find her purse, and then she wanted
her pencil and account book, and Elsie had to move from her seat at
"Oh dear!" she said, "I wish people wouldn't keep coming and
interrupting us. Who'll be the next, I wonder?"
She was not left to wonder long. Almost as she spoke, there was another
knock at the door.
"Come in!" said Katy, rather wearily. The door opened.
"Shall I?" said a voice. There was a rustle of skirts, a clatter of
boot-heels, and Imogen Clark swept into the room. Katy could not think
who it was, at first. She had not seen Imogen for almost two years.
"I found the front door open," explained Imogen, in her high-pitched
voice, "and as nobody seemed to hear when I rang the bell, I ventured to
come right up stairs. I hope I'm not interrupting anything private?"
"Not at all," said Katy, politely. "Elsie, dear, move up that low chair,
please. Do sit down, Imogen! I'm sorry nobody answered your ring, but
the servants are cleaning house to-day, and I suppose they didn't hear."
So Imogen sat down and began to rattle on in her usual manner, while
Elsie, from behind Katy's chair, took a wide-awake survey of her dress.
It was of cheap material, but very gorgeously made and trimmed, with
flounces and puffs, and Imogen wore a jet necklace and long black
ear-rings, which jingled and clicked when she waved her head about. She
still had the little round curls stuck on to her cheeks, and Elsie
wondered anew what kept them in their places.
By and by the object of Imogen's visit came out. She had called to say
good-by. The Clark family were all going back to Jacksonville to live.
"Did you ever see the Brigand again?" asked Clover, who had never
forgotten that eventful tale told in the parlor.
"Yes," replied Imogen, "several times. And I get letters from him quite
often. He writes _beau_tiful letters. I wish I had one with me, so that
I could read you a little bit. You would enjoy it, I know. Let me
see--perhaps I have." And she put her hand into her pocket. Sure enough
there _was_ a letter. Clover couldn't help suspecting that Imogen knew
it all the time.
The Brigand seemed to write a bold, black hand, and his note-paper and
envelope was just like anybody else's. But perhaps his band had
surprised a pedlar with a box of stationery.
"Let me see," said Imogen, running her eye down the page. "'Adored
Imogen'--that wouldn't interest you--hm, hm, hm--ah, here's something!
'I took dinner at the Rock House on Christmas. It was lonesome without
you. I had roast turkey, roast goose, roast beef, mince pie, plum
pudding, and nuts and raisins. A pretty good dinner, was it not? But
nothing tastes first-rate when friends are away'"
Katy and Clover stared, as well they might. Such language from a
"John Billings has bought a new horse," continued Imogen; "hm, hm,
hm--him. I don't think there is anything else you'd care about. Oh, yes!
just here, at the end, is some poetry:
"'Come, little dove, with azure wing, And brood upon my breast,'
"That's sweet, ain't it?"
"Hasn't he reformed?" said Clover; "he writes as if he had."
"Reformed!" cried Imogen, with a toss of the jingling ear-rings. "He was
always just as good as he could be!"
There was nothing to be said in reply to this. Katy felt her lips
twitch, and for fear she should be rude, and laugh out, she began to
talk as fast as she could about something else. All the time she found
herself taking measure of Imogen, and thinking--"Did I ever really like
her? How queer! Oh, what a wise man Papa is!"
Imogen stayed half an hour. Then she took her leave.
"She never asked how you were!" cried Elsie, indignantly; "I noticed,
and she didn't--not once."
"Oh well--I suppose she forgot. We were talking about her, not about
me," replied Katy.
The little group settled down again to their work. This time half an
hour went by without any more interruptions. Then the door bell rang,
and Bridget, with a disturbed face, came up stairs.
"Miss Katy," she said, "it's old Mrs. Worrett, and I reckon's she's
come to spend the day, for she's brought her bag. What ever shall I
Katy looked dismayed. "Oh dear!" she said, "how unlucky. What can we
Mrs. Worrett was an old friend of Aunt Izzie's, who lived in the
country, about six miles from Burnet, and was in the habit of coming to
Dr. Carr's for lunch, on days when shopping or other business brought
her into town. This did not occur often; and, as it happened, Katy had
never had to entertain her before.
"Tell her ye're busy, and can't see her," suggested Bridget; "there's no
dinner nor nothing, you know."
The Katy of two years ago would probably have jumped at this idea. But
the Katy of to-day was more considerate.
"N-o," she said; "I don't like to do that. We must just make the best of
it, Bridget. Run down, Clover, dear, that's a good girl! and tell Mrs.
Worrett that the dining-room is all in confusion, but that we're going
to have lunch here, and, after she's rested, I should be glad to have
her come up. And, oh, Clovy! give her a fan the first thing. She'll be
_so_ hot. Bridget, you can bring up the luncheon just the same, only
take out some canned peaches, by way of a dessert, and make Mrs. Worrett
a cup of tea. She drinks tea always, I believe.
"I can't bear to send the poor old lady away when she has come so far,"
she explained to Elsie, after the others were gone. "Pull the
rocking-chair a little this way, Elsie. And oh! push all those little
chairs back against the wall. Mrs. Worrett broke down in one the last
time she was here--don't you recollect?"
It took some time to cool Mrs. Worrett off, so nearly twenty minutes
passed before a heavy, creaking step on the stairs announced that the
guest was on her way up. Elsie began to giggle. Mrs. Worrett always made
her giggle. Katy had just time to give her a warning glance before the
Mrs. Worrett was the most enormously fat person ever seen. Nobody dared
to guess how much she weighed, but she looked as if it might be a
thousand pounds. Her face was extremely red. In the coldest weather she
appeared hot, and on a mild day she seemed absolutely ready to melt. Her
bonnet-strings were flying loose as she came in, and she fanned herself
all the way across the room, which shook as she walked.
"Well, my dear," she said, as she plumped herself into the
rocking-chair, "and how do you do?"
"Very well, thank you," replied Katy, thinking that she never saw Mrs.
Worrett look half so fat before, and wondering how she _was_ to
"And how's your Pa?" inquired Mrs. Worrett. Katy answered politely, and
then asked after Mrs. Worrett's own health.
"Well, I'm so's to be round," was the reply, which had the effect of
sending Elsie off into a fit of convulsive laughter behind Katy's chair.
"I had business at the bank," continued the visitor, "and I thought
while I was about it I'd step up to Miss Petingill's and see if I
couldn't get her to come and let out my black silk. It was made quite a
piece back, and I seem to have fleshed up since then, for I can't make
the hooks and eyes meet at all. But when I got there, she was out, so
I'd my walk for nothing. Do you know where she's sewing now?"
"No," said Katy, feeling her chair shake, and keeping her own
countenance with difficulty, "she was here for three days last week to
make Johnnie a school-dress. But I haven't heard anything about her
since. Elsie, don't you want to run down stairs and ask Bridget to
bring a--a--a glass of iced water for Mrs. Worrett? She looks warm
after her walk."
Elsie, dreadfully ashamed, made a bolt from the room, and hid herself in
the hall closet to have her laugh out. She came back after a while, with
a perfectly straight face. Luncheon was brought up. Mrs. Worrett made a
good meal, and seemed to enjoy everything. She was so comfortable that
she never stirred till four o'clock! Oh, how long that afternoon did
seem to the poor girls, sitting there and trying to think of something
to say to their vast visitor!
At last Mrs. Worrett got out of her chair, and prepared to depart.
"Well," she said, tying her bonnet-strings, "I've had a good rest, and
feel all the better for it. Ain't some of you young folks coming out to
see me one of these days? I'd like to have you, first-rate, if you will.
'Tain't every girl would know how to take care of a fat old woman, and
make her feel to home, as you have me, Katy. I wish your aunt could see
you all as you are now. She'd be right pleased; I know that."
Somehow, this sentence rang pleasantly in Katy's ears.
"Ah! don't laugh at her," she said later in the evening, when the
children, after their tea in the clean, fresh-smelling dining-room, were
come up to sit with her, and Cecy, in her pretty pink lawn and white
shawl, had dropped in to spend an hour or two; "she's a real kind old
woman, and I don't like to have you. It isn't her fault that she's fat.
And Aunt Izzie was fond of her, you know. It is doing something for her
when we can show a little attention to one of her friends. I was sorry
when she came, but now it's over, I'm glad."
"It feels so nice when it stops aching," quoted Elsie, mischievously,
while Cecy whispered to Clover.
"Isn't Katy sweet?"
"Isn't she!" replied Clover. "I wish I was half so good. Sometimes I
think I shall really be sorry if she ever gets well. She's such a dear
old darling to us all, sitting there in her chair, that it wouldn't seem
so nice to have her anywhere else. But then, I know it's horrid in me.
And I don't believe she'd be different, or grow slam-bang and horrid,
like some of the girls, even if she were well."
"Of course she wouldn't!" replied Cecy.
It was about six weeks after this, that one day, Clover and Elsie were
busy down stairs, they were startled by the sound of Katy's bell ringing
in a sudden and agitated manner. Both ran up two steps at a time, to see
what was wanted.
Katy sat in her chair, looking very much flushed and excited.
"Oh, girls!" she exclaimed, "what do you think? I stood up!"
"What?" cried Clover and Elsie.
"I really did! I stood up on my feet! by myself!"
The others were too much astonished to speak, so Katy went on
"It was all at once, you see. Suddenly, I had the feeling that if I
tried I could, and almost before I thought, I _did_ try, and there I
was, up and out of the chair. Only I kept hold of the arm all the time!
I don't know how I got back, I was so frightened. Oh, girls!"--and Katy
buried her face in her hands.
"Do you think I shall ever be able to do it again?" she asked, looking
up with wet eyes.
"Why, of course you will!" said Clover; while Elsie danced about, crying
out anxiously: "Be careful! Do be careful!"
Katy tried, but the spring was gone. She could not move out of the chair
at all. She began to wonder if she had dreamed the whole thing.
But next day, when Clover happened to be in the room, she heard a sudden
exclamation, and turning, there stood Katy, absolutely on her feet.
"Papa! papa!" shrieked Clover, rushing down stairs. "Dorry, John,
Elsie--come! Come and see!"
Papa was out, but all the rest crowded up at once. This time Katy found
no trouble in "doing it again." It seemed as if her will had been
asleep; and now that it had waked up, the limbs recognized its orders
and obeyed them.
When Papa came in, he was as much excited as any of the children. He
walked round and round the chair, questioning Katy and making her stand
up and sit down.
"Am I really going to get well?" she asked, almost in a whisper.
"Yes, my love, I think you are," replied Dr. Carr, seizing Phil and
giving him a toss into the air. None of the children had ever before
seen Papa behave so like a boy. But pretty soon, noticing Katy's burning
cheeks and excited eyes, he calmed himself, sent the others all away,
and sat down to soothe and quiet her with gentle words.
"I think it is coming, my darling," he said, "but it will take time, and
you must have a great deal of patience. After being such a good child
all the years, I am sure you won't fail now. Remember, any imprudence
will put you back. You must be content to gain a very little at a time.
There is no royal road to walking any more than there is to learning.
Every baby finds that out."
"Oh, Papa!" said Katy, "it's no matter if it takes a year--if only I get
well at last."
How happy she was that night--too happy to sleep. Papa noticed the dark
circles under her eyes in the morning, and shook his head.
"You must be careful," he told her, "or you'll be laid up again. A
course of fever would put you back for years."
Katy knew Papa was right, and she was careful, though it was by no
means easy to be so with that new life tingling in every limb. Her
progress was slow, as Dr. Carr had predicted. At first she only stood
on her feet a few seconds, then a minute, then five minutes, holding
tightly all the, while by the chair. Next she ventured to let go the
chair, and stand alone. After that she began to walk a step at a time,
pushing a chair before her, as children do when they are learning the
use of their feet. Clover and Elsie hovered about her as she moved,
like anxious mammas. It was droll, and a little pitiful, to see tall
Katy with her feeble, unsteady progress, and the active figures of the
little sisters following her protectingly. But Katy did not consider it
either droll or pitiful; to her it was simply delightful--the most
delightful thing possible. No baby of a year old was ever prouder of
his first steps than she.
Gradually she grew adventurous, and ventured on a bolder flight.
Clover, running up stairs one day to her own room, stood transfixed at
the sight of Katy sitting there, flushed, panting, but enjoying the
surprise she caused.
"You see," she explained, in an apologizing tone, "I was seized with a
desire to explore. It is such a time since I saw any room but my own!
But oh dear, how long that hall is! I had forgotten it could be so long.
I shall have to take a good rest before I go back."
Katy did take a good rest, but she was very tired next day. The
experiment, however, did no harm. In the course of two or three weeks,
she was able to walk all over the second story.
This was a great enjoyment. It was like reading an interesting book to
see all the new things, and the little changes. She was forever
wondering over something.
"Why, Dorry," she would say, "what a pretty book-shelf! When did
you get it?"
"That old thing! Why, I've had it two years. Didn't I ever tell you
"Perhaps you did," Katy would reply, "but you see I never saw it before,
so it made no impression."
By the end of August she was grown so strong, that she began to talk
about going down stairs. But Papa said, "Wait."
"It will tire you much more than walking about on a level," he
explained, "you had better put it off a little while--till you are quite
sure of your feet."
"I think so too," said Clover; "and beside, I want to have the house all
put in order and made nice, before your sharp eyes see it, Mrs.
Housekeeper. Oh, I'll tell you! Such a beautiful idea has come into my
head! You shall fix a day to come down, Katy, and we'll be all ready for
you, and have a 'celebration' among ourselves. That would be just
lovely! How soon may she, Papa?"
"Well--in ten days, I should say, it might be safe."
"Ten days! that will bring it to the seventh of September, won't it?"
said Katy. "Then Papa, if I may, I'll come down stairs the first time
on the eighth. It was Mamma's birthday, you know," she added in a
So it was settled. "How delicious!" cried Clover, skipping about and
clapping her hands: "I never, never, never _did_ hear of anything so
perfectly lovely. Papa, when are you coming down stairs? I want to speak
to you _dreadfully_."
"Right away--rather than have my coat-tails pulled off," answered Dr.
Carr, laughing, and they went away together. Katy sat looking out of the
window in a peaceful, happy mood.
"Oh!" she thought, "can it really be? Is School going to 'let out,' just
as Cousin Helen's hymn said? Am I going to 'Bid a sweet good-bye to
Pain?' But there was Love in the Pain. I see it now. How good the dear
Teacher has been to me!"
Clover seemed to be very busy all the rest of that week. She was "having
windows washed," she said, but this explanation hardly accounted for her
long absences, and the mysterious exultation on her face, not to mention
certain sounds of hammering and sawing which came from down stairs. The
other children had evidently been warned to say nothing; for once or
twice Philly broke out with, "Oh, Katy!" and then hushed himself up,
saying, "I 'most forgot!" Katy grew very curious. But she saw that the
secret, whatever it was, gave immense satisfaction to everybody except
herself; so, though she longed to know, she concluded not to spoil the
fun by asking any questions.
At last it wanted but one day of the important occasion.
"See," said Katy, as Clover came into the room a little before tea-time.
"Miss Petingill has brought home my new dress. I'm going to wear it for
the first time to go down stairs in."
"How pretty!" said Clover, examining the dress, which was a soft,
dove-colored cashmere, trimmed with ribbon of the same shade. "But Katy,
I came up to shut your door. Bridget's going to sweep the hall, and I
don't want the dust to fly in, because your room was brushed this
morning, you know."
"What a queer time to sweep a hall!" said Katy, wonderingly. "Why don't
you make her wait till morning?"
"Oh, she can't! There are--she has--I mean there will be other things
for her to do to-morrow. It's a great deal more convenient that she
should do it now. Don't worry, Katy, darling, but just keep your door
shut. You will, won't you? Promise me!"
"Very well," said Katy, more and more amazed, but yielding to Clover's
eagerness, "I'll keep it shut." Her curiosity was excited. She took a
book and tried to read, but the letters danced up and down before her
eyes, and she couldn't help listening. Bridget was making a most
ostentatious noise with her broom, but through it all, Katy seemed to
hear other sounds--feet on the stairs, doors opening and shutting--once,
a stifled giggle. How queer it all was!
"Never mind," she said, resolutely stopping her ears, "I shall know all
about it to-morrow."
To-morrow dawned fresh and fair--the very ideal of a September day.
"Katy!" said Clover, as she came in from the garden with her hands full
of flowers, "that dress of yours is sweet. You never looked so nice
before in your life!" And she stuck a beautiful carnation pink under
Katy's breast-pin and fastened another in her hair.
"There!" she said, "now you're adorned. Papa is coming up in a few
minutes to take you down."
Just then Elsie and Johnnie came in. They had on their best frocks. So
had Clover. It was evidently a festival-day to all the house. Cecy
followed, invited over for the special purpose of seeing Katy walk down
stairs. She, too, had on a new frock.
"How fine we are!" said Clover, as she remarked this magnificence. "Turn
round, Cecy--a panier, I do declare--and a sash! You are getting awfully
grown up, Miss Hall."
"None of us will ever be so 'grown up' as Katy," said Cecy, laughing.
And now Papa appeared. Very slowly they all went down stairs, Katy
leaning on Papa, with Dorry on her other side, and the girls behind,
while Philly clattered ahead. And there were Debby and Bridget and
Alexander, peeping out of the kitchen door to watch her, and dear old
Mary with her apron at her eyes crying for joy.
"Oh, the front door is open!" said Katy, in a delighted tone. "How nice!
And what a pretty oil-cloth. That's new since I was here."
"Don't stop to look at _that_!" cried Philly, who seemed in a great
hurry about something. "It isn't new. It's been there ever and ever so
long! Come into the parlor instead."
"Yes!" said Papa, "dinner isn't quite ready yet, you'll have time to
rest a little after your walk down stairs. You have borne it admirably,
Katy. Are you very tired?"
"Not a bit!" replied Katy, cheerfully. "I could do it alone, I think.
Oh! the bookcase door has been mended! How nice it looks."
"Don't wait, oh, don't wait!" repeated Phil, in an agony of impatience.
So they moved on. Papa opened the parlor door. Katy took one step into
the room--then stopped. The color flashed over her face, and she held
by the door-knob to support herself. What was it that she saw?
Not merely the room itself, with its fresh muslin curtains and vases of
flowers. Nor even the wide, beautiful window which had been cut toward
the sun, or the inviting little couch and table which stood there,
evidently for her. No, there was something else! The sofa was pulled out
and there upon it, supported by pillows, her bright eyes turned to the
door, lay--Cousin Helen! When she saw Katy, she held out her arms.
Clover and Cecy agreed afterward that they never were so frightened in
their lives as at this moment; for Katy, forgetting her weakness, let go
of Papa's arm, and absolutely _ran_ toward the sofa. "Oh, Cousin Helen!
dear, dear Cousin Helen!" she cried. Then she tumbled down by the sofa
somehow, the two pairs of arms and the two faces met, and for a moment
or two not a word more was heard from anybody.
"Isn't a nice 'prise?" shouted Philly, turning a somerset by way of
relieving his feelings, while John and Dorry executed a sort of
war-dance round the sofa.
Phil's voice seemed to break the spell of silence, and a perfect hubbub
of questions and exclamations began.
It appeared that this happy thought of getting Cousin Helen to the
"Celebration," was Clover's. She it was who had proposed it to Papa,
and made all the arrangements. And, artful puss! she had set Bridget
to sweep the hall, on purpose that Katy might not hear the noise of
"Cousin Helen's going to stay three weeks this time--isn't that nice?"
asked Elsie, while Clover anxiously questioned: "Are you sure that you
didn't suspect? Not one bit? Not the least tiny, weeny mite?"
"No, indeed--not the least. How could I suspect anything so perfectly
delightful?" And Katy gave Cousin Helen another rapturous kiss.
Such a short day as that seemed! There was so much to see, to ask about,
to talk over, that the hours flew, and evening dropped upon them all
like another great surprise.
Cousin Helen was perhaps the happiest of the party. Beside the
pleasure of knowing Katy to be almost well again, she had the
additional enjoyment of seeing for herself how many changes for the
better had taken place, during the four years, among the little
cousins she loved so much.
It was very interesting to watch them all. Elsie and Dorry seemed to
her the most improved of the family. Elsie had quite lost her plaintive
look and little injured tone, and was as bright and beaming a maiden of
twelve as any one could wish to see. Dorry's moody face had grown open
and sensible, and his manners were good-humored and obliging. He was
still a sober boy, and not specially quick in catching an idea, but he
promised to turn out a valuable man. And to him, as to all the other
children, Katy was evidently the centre and the sun. They all revolved
about her, and trusted her for everything. Cousin Helen looked on as
Phil came in crying, after a hard tumble, and was consoled; as Johnnie
whispered an important secret, and Elsie begged for help in her work.
She saw Katy meet them all pleasantly and sweetly, without a bit of the
dictatorial elder-sister in her manner, and with none of her old,
impetuous tone. And best of all, she saw the change in Katy's own face:
the gentle expression of her eyes, the womanly look, the pleasant
voice, the politeness, the tact in advising the others, without seeming
"Dear Katy," she said a day or two after her arrival, "this visit is a
great pleasure to me--you can't think how great. It is such a contrast
to the last I made, when you were so sick, and everybody so sad. Do you
"Indeed I do! And how good you were, and how you helped me! I shall
never forget that."
"I'm glad! But what I could do was very little. You have been learning
by yourself all this time. And Katy, darling, I want to tell you how
pleased I am to see how bravely you have worked your way up. I can
perceive it in everything--in Papa, in the children, in yourself. You
have won the place, which, you recollect, I once told you an invalid
should try to gain, of being to everybody 'The Heart of the House.'"
"Oh, Cousin Helen, don't!" said Katy, her eyes filling with sudden
tears. "I haven't been brave. You can't think how badly I sometimes have
behaved--how cross and ungrateful I am, and how stupid and slow. Every
day I see things which ought to be done, and I don't do them. It's too
delightful to have you praise me--but you mustn't. I don't deserve it."
But although she said she didn't deserve it I think that Katy did!