Betty McGuire stood on the steps of the veranda as she spoke. Her mother, in the doorway, was smiling down at her, and her pony, Dixie, was jingling his bells and pawing at the snow and ice in the driveway below. It was the first trial of the pretty new cutter, and the joyous excitement of the occasion made Betty’s cheeks as red as her scarlet tam-o’-shanter cap, or her red cloth coat with its high fur collar. Betty drew on her driving-gloves, still talking to her mother. “Isn’t it a darling sleigh, Mother? Did you ever see such a pretty one? And Dixie is so proud of it.” “It’s a beauty, Betty. I know you’ll enjoy it. Are you taking Tilly for a ride?”  “No; I’m going for May Fordham to-day. We’re planning for the party, you know. I’ll take Tilly some other day.”
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Betty’s happy year
Carolyn Wells (1862-1942)
BETTY DREW CLOSER TO HER MOTHER’S SIDE AS SHE STOOD SPEECHLESS BEFORE THE BEAUTIFUL TREE
BYCAROLYN WELLSAuthor of “The Story of Betty,” etc.
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BYREGINALD B. BIRCH
NEW YORK THE CENTURY CO.1910
Copyright, 1909, 1910, byThe Century Co.Published September, 1910
A Thanksgiving Guest
A Christmas Celebration
Betty at Boarding-school
An Acceptable Valentine
The Palace of Time
Betty’s Practical Joke
The Green Paper Doll
The Chaplet of Honor
An Independence Day Reception
A Labor Day Luncheon
A Lucky Penny
Betty drew closer to her mother’s side as she stood speechless before the beautiful tree
Oh, Betty, what a beautiful cutter! May exclaimed
Hello, girls, he called, as his smiling face appeared in the doorway
Betty threw a sofa-pillow at Jack to stir him to greater enthusiasm
Why, Grandfather, I—I ran away!
On Saturday a messenger was sent with the precious box
Constance in the May Queen’s bower
Bob Carey as the lion in “March” selling marches
These two young women sat behind me in the street-car and overheard my conversation with a friend
Betty snatched up the desk calendar and held it before her grandfather’s eyes
Take my racket, said Betty, and play a set with Martha
Betty found Bobby in his nursery
Betty walked across the room with stiff, stagy strides
The Goddess of Honor placed the chaplet on the bowed head of Isabella of Spain
Where’s Betty! said Jack, wrapped in his Indian blanket
They went spinning away toward the Pine Hill road
He stopped his team, and waited as Betty came down the steps
Betty, with her sleeves rolled back, was whisking away at something in a bowl
The girl turned on Betty like a little fury
Just as the driver was about to start, a voice called, Hi! Hold on there!
A strange-looking, cloaked figure, with a lighted Jack-o’-lantern for a head, ushered them into the drawing-room
The three Fates ushered Betty with great pomp and ceremony to the chair facing the wizard
“What a gorgeous day for a sleigh-ride! Did you ever see such sunny, twinkling snow, and such crisp, crackly air? It fairly snaps off as you breathe it!”
Betty McGuire stood on the steps of the veranda as she spoke. Her mother, in the doorway, was smiling down at her, and her pony, Dixie, was jingling his bells and pawing at the snow and ice in the driveway below.
It was the first trial of the pretty new cutter, and the joyous excitement of the occasion made Betty’s cheeks as red as her scarlet tam-o’-shanter cap, or her red cloth coat with its high fur collar. Betty drew on her driving-gloves, still talking to her mother.
“Isn’t it a darling sleigh, Mother? Did you ever see such a pretty one? And Dixie is so proud of it.”
“It’s a beauty, Betty. I know you’ll enjoy it. Are you taking Tilly for a ride?”
“No; I’m going for May Fordham to-day. We’re planning for the party, you know. I’ll take Tilly some other day.”
“Very well; be home by sundown, won’t you?”
“Yes; or very soon after. All right, Pete.”
The face of the big Irishman beamed with pleasure as he assisted Betty into the new sleigh and tucked the fur robe round her.
“’Tis a foine turnout, Miss Betty,” he said; “an’ mosht becomin’ to Dixie,—the proud little baste!”
“He is proud of it,” agreed Betty, as she gathered up the lines. “He’s just vain enough to love those silver bells jingling about him. Good-by, Mother.”
“Good-by, darling,” said Mrs. McGuire, and after watching Betty disappear down the winding drive, she returned to the house.
Denniston Hall, though a beautiful summer place, was equally attractive in winter. Then the wide front veranda was inclosed with glass, and, heated by an arrangement of steam-pipes, made a delightful sun-parlor. The house was of the old-fashioned type that has two front doors opening into two large halls.
Large parlors between these halls and a wing on either side, provided numerous rooms, and several of these boasted wide fireplaces where crackling logs blazed gaily or smoldered comfortably, as occasion required.
The family at Denniston was a rather unusual one. The place belonged to Betty, the fifteen-year-old daughter, who had recently inherited a large fortune from her Grandfather McGuire.
She had supposed herself an orphan, but after buying her home and establishing herself there, she had discovered that her mother was living, and, to their mutual delight, they were at last brought together. Mrs. McGuire had come to Denniston to live with Betty and was more than willing to accept also Betty’s adopted brother, Jack, and the three-year-old baby, Polly.
And now, though Mrs. McGuire was nominally head of the household, yet, as the details of housekeeping were looked after by capable Mrs. Kinsey, Betty’s mother had little to do except to enjoy the reunion with her long-lost child. As for Betty, now that her mother was restored to her, there seemed to be no flaw in her happiness, and the merry girl danced gaily through life, like a ray of glad sunshine.
Unused to advice or restraint of any sort, she could not at once accustom herself to asking her mother’s permission for anything, but Mrs. McGuire appreciated the unusual circumstances, and wisely concluded to bide her time, and establish their rightful relationship by degrees.
Moreover, she was so happy herself, at the reunion with her idolized child, whom she had lost as a tiny baby, that she had no wish to dictate or to interfere with Betty’s plans. Mrs. McGuire was a gentle little lady, with golden hair and blue eyes, and her amiability made her beloved by all the servants and adored by the three children. She had fitted into her niche at Denniston without disturbing any one else, and had supplied the one want of Betty’s life, that of a real mother, who would love her with real mother-love. And happy in the knowledge and possession of this love, Betty felt that life had no further joys to offer her; and she was as contented as any girl of fifteen could wish to be.
On this particular sunny afternoon, as she went skimming along the white roads in her new sleigh, her mind was divided between the actual delights of the bracing winter atmosphere and gay jingle of her new sleigh-bells, and her busy imagination which was looking forward to some fine plans that she and May Fordham had in prospect. She drove in through the open gates of a large, well-kept place, and as she neared the house, May, who had watched from the window, came out, all ready for the sleigh-ride.
“Oh, Betty, what a beautiful cutter!” she exclaimed, as Dixie paused and stood in prancing attitude to be praised. “And it suits Dix perfectly, doesn’t it?” she added, patting the pony, who showed by his actions that he fully appreciated the applause he was getting.
“OH, BETTY, WHAT A BEAUTIFUL CUTTER!” MAY EXCLAIMED
May jumped in beside Betty, and in another moment, away they went, flying along the firm, well-packed road. Betty turned away from the village, and toward the open country, where they might dash over long stretches without meeting much traffic, and thus have a better chance to chatter.
“Thanksgiving’s only just a week from to-day,” said May; “will there be time, Betty, to get everything ready?”
“Well, we’ll have to fly round, of course. But if we invite everybody to-day, they can all get to work on their costumes at once. And a week’s time enough, I should think. I hope Tilly will like the idea, but I don’t know about her,—she’s such a fuss.”
“We’ll soon know,” laughed May, as Dixie was gently drawn to a standstill in front of Tilly Fenn’s home.
The well-trained little pony always stood without being tied, so the girls jumped from the sleigh and ran up the steps, moderating their gay laughter as they decorously pushed the door-bell.
“Come up to my room, girls,” called Tilly, over the banister, as they were admitted.
So in a few moments the three chums were busily talking of Betty’s project.
“A real old-fashioned Thanksgiving party,” said Betty, enthusiastically; “everything Puritan, you know. We’ll all wear plain gray dresses and white fichus and aprons, and dear little Puritan caps, and the boys must rig up the right kind of clothes. What did men wear then?”
“Oh, knee-breeches and long stockings, and bunches of bows at the knees,” said May, who was a history lover.
“Yes, and broad white collars, and sort of Norfolky jackets, and broad-brimmed hats,” added Tilly.
“With a feather?” suggested Betty.
“Oh, no; not a feather,—I think,—that isn’t Puritanish. But a buckle,—I think,—well, anyway we can look up pictures, and see.”
“Yes,” agreed Betty, “and I’ll fix up Jack’s clothes. Mother’ll help me. Then we’ll have the feast of the real old-timey kind. Baked beans, you know,—and doughnuts, and cider,—”
“And nuts and gingerbread;—it will be lovely!”
“Well, I like it,” said Tilly, a little hesitatingly, “but I don’t know about a dress. Aunt won’t help me,—I’m sure;—and I simply can’t make one myself.”
“I’ll help you,” said Betty, “and I’m sure Mother’ll make you one, if you can’t get one any other way. But perhaps you could borrow one. The old Adams ladies have lots of old-fashioned clothes.”
“Yes, maybe I could,” and Tilly’s eyes brightened at this way out of her difficulty. “And I can make brown bread for the feast. That’s old-fashioned.”
“Oh, I’ll provide all the supper,” said Betty, “because it’s my party. And afterward, we’ll have old-fashioned dances, with a fiddler to call out the figures.”
“I don’t believe the Puritans danced,” said Tilly.
Betty’s face fell. “Well, I don’t care to keep it too Puritanic,” she said. “We’ll just have it as old-fashioned as we like, and have the rest any way we want it.”
“Yes, that’s the best,” said May.
“But your table must look old-fashioned,—with candles, you know; Aunt’ll lend you her old brass candlesticks if you want them.”
“Yes, I do; and I know where I can borrow some old blue dishes and pewter platters.”
“Oh, it will be lovely fun!” sighed May. “How many are you going to ask?”
“About twenty. I don’t believe Jack will care much about dressing up—he hates it; but I’ll coax him to. Well, come on, May, we must go and invite the others. Don’t worry about your dress, Tilly. If you can’t borrow one, Mother and I will fit you out.”
“Thanks. You’re a dear, Betty; I wish you’d let me make brown bread for you, though. I can make it to perfection.”
“I’ll tell you what, Betty,” said May, “why don’t you have a sort of ‘Harvest Home.’ They’re lovely and picturesque. You make a great big pile of things like cabbages and pumpkins and potatoes, and decorate it with corn husks and things; and then, don’t you see, we can all bring something for it, and afterward we can give the eatables to the poor people in ‘The Hollow.’ And Tilly can donate some brown bread to them, too.”
“That’s a fine idea,” said Betty; “we’ll ask everybody to bring something for the Harvest Home, and then the next day we can all make the round of The Hollow in the big box-sleigh.”
“Yes, I know some families down there who would be more than glad to get things like that,” said Tilly.
“And well may anybody be glad to get the good bread you make,” said Betty. “I’m coming to-morrow, Tilly, to take you for a ride in my new sleigh, and then we can talk about your dress for the party and other things to be done.”
Gay good-bys were said, and the two girls went jingling away in the sleigh again.
Tilly was not so happily situated in life as Betty and May. She lived with an aunt who, though she took good care of her, was not very sympathetic in the matter of young people’s pleasures, and taught Tilly to sew and to make bread, because she considered such things the important part of a girl’s education. And she was right enough in that, if she had only realized that a girl of fifteen wants and needs her share of fun as well as of useful knowledge.
“HELLO, GIRLS,” HE CALLED, AS HIS SMILING FACE APPEARED IN THE DOORWAY
Moreover, Mrs. Fenn was not wealthy, and though she had had sufficient means for comfort, she was economical by nature, and would have considered a purchase of a dress for Tilly to wear just for one occasion, a reckless extravagance.
But in spite of her aunt’s restrictions, Tilly was a very gay and merry girl, and was always one of the half dozen that composed Betty’s little clan of friends.
“I don’t believe the boys will dress up,” said May, as they drove back to the village to deliver more invitations.
“Then they can stay home,” said Betty, promptly. “It’s going to be a lovely party if everybody takes interest in it, and those who don’t take an interest aren’t wanted. Now, we’ll go to Agnes Graham’s, and see what she and Stub say about it.”
Agnes said yes at once, and declared that she could fix up a dress as easily as anything. “Come in, Stub,” she called to her brother who was in the next room; “somebody wants to see you.”
Stub Graham was so nicknamed because he was the thinnest and scrawniest boy you ever saw. He was very tall for his age, and the name of Stub or Stubby was so comical that it pleased his friends to use it.
“Hello, girls,” he called, as his smiling face appeared in the doorway. “What, Betty, a party? Will I come? Well, I should say so! When is it to be?”
Stub festooned his length along a sofa and gave a brotherly tweak to Agnes’s long, thick pigtail.
“On Thanksgiving night,” said Betty, and then she told him what kind of a party it was to be.
“Gay!” exclaimed Stub. “Of course I’ll get up a rig. Sweet little sister will help me, and I’ll be a regular Miles Standish or somebody like that. May I wear a cloak, I mean a golfcapey thing? I think they wore those in Puritan days, with a dinky white collar, like Fauntleroy’s only without lace on it.”
“Good for you, Stub!” cried Betty. “You have just the right ideas! Can’t you help the other boys,—if they need help?”
“Sure! I’ll get them all together, and if they don’t learn quickly enough, I’ll be a dressmaker to ’em. And I’ll help you fix your show, Betty. You ought to have strings of red peppers and onions hung across overhead.”
“Oh, do help me, Stub! Won’t you and Agnes come over in the morning, and help me do those things? Oh, won’t we have fun!”
After that it was easy. Very few of the girls they invited made any objection to wearing the Puritan costume, and if the boys objected, as some did, they were referred to Stub Graham, who soon changed their minds for them.
“It’s going to be perfectly beautiful, Mother!” said Betty, as, after dinner that evening, she sat on a low stool at her mother’s side.
This was Betty’s favorite position, for, though a big girl, she loved to cuddle against her mother and caress her pretty hand, or play with the laces and ribbons of her dainty gown. And now, in their beautiful drawing-room at Denniston, they sat before the big open fire, while Betty told about the party.
Jack, who lounged in a big chair on the other side of the fireplace, was greatly interested. To Betty’s surprise he was entirely willing to wear a Puritan costume, though he observed, incidentally, he’d rather dress as an Indian, and Indians were quite as appropriate to the period as Puritans.
“But they didn’t attend the Thanksgiving feasts,” said Betty; “they lurked in the ambushes; so if you want to do that, all right.”
“Ho!” cried Jack, “I believe you think an ambush is a kind of a shrub!”
“It is, isn’t it, Mother?” asked Betty, turning her big dark eyes confidingly to her mother’s loving face.
“No, my girlie, that’s one of your funny mistakes. But you’re right about the Indians not joining with the Puritans at table; at least, they didn’t often do so.”
Both Betty and Jack had been deprived of early education, and though they were now studying very hard in a brave endeavor to “catch up” to other children of their own age, they frequently made errors which were quite funny enough to make any one smile.
So Jack good-naturedly explained to Betty about Indians in ambush, which was a subject he had quite thoroughly studied in his history lessons.
“And if I can’t be an Indian,” he went on, “I’ll be a Puritan gentleman. Grandma Jean will make my toggery; I’ll tell her just how, and I’ll make you proud of me, Betty.”
Grandma Jean was Mrs. Kinsey, the housekeeper and general assistant to the children, whenever they needed her capable aid.
“And what shall I wear, Mother?” asked Betty, draping the soft frills of her mother’s trailing gown across her own slippered feet.
“I think you’ll have to be the ‘Puritan maiden, Priscilla,’ though you’re far from the right type. Your dark curls, dancing eyes, and red cheeks ought to be pale, fair hair in smooth bands, and a pale face with meek eyes.”
“Ho!” laughed Jack, “you’re not very Puritanic, are you, Betty? But you’ll look all right in a cap, I’m sure.”
“I think I’ll make you a dress of gray silk,” went on Mrs. McGuire; “with a soft mull fichu crossed on your breast, and a starched cap, turned back in Puritan fashion.”
“I like red,” observed Betty, looking down at her own red cashmere frock with black velvet bows on it.
“But not for Puritan attire,” said her mother, smiling. “I’ll fix your costume, Betty, and you must promise not to slip up-stairs and add a red sash at the last minute.”
Betty’s fondness for bright colors, and especially red, was a household word, and Mrs. McGuire fancied that the novelty of plain dove-gray and white would not be unbecoming to rosy-cheeked Betty.
For the next few days nothing was talked of but the old-fashioned party.
Pete was consulted about the Harvest Home part of it, and he suggested that an old flower stand which was out in the tool house should be painted up, and put in one end of the dining-room to hold the donations of fruits and vegetables.
Then, by adding a few vines and flowers, it could be made an attractive decoration.
“Fine!” cried Betty. “That’ll be just the thing! We can put pumpkins and cabbages down below, and apples and potatoes in the upper shelves, and trail vines over them all.”
Ellen, the cook, was quite willing to make all sorts of goodies that were deemed appropriate, and to the lists of baked beans and gingerbread, were added such satisfactory dishes as roast turkey and pumpkin-pie.
But no ice-cream or dainty salads or bonbons were allowed, for Betty wanted to keep the real atmosphere of a plain old-fashioned Puritan Thanksgiving.
Preparations went busily on, until on Tuesday a letter came from Grandfather Irving.
He was the father of Mrs. McGuire, and lived in Boston. Both Mr. and Mrs. Irving had been invited long ago to spend Thanksgiving at Denniston, but had declined because of another engagement.
Now, Mr. Irving wrote, the other engagement had been canceled, and they were greatly pleased to say they could go to Denniston after all. Moreover, he announced, they would bring with them a charming young lady who was visiting them.
“She is an English girl,” Mr. Irving wrote, “Miss Evangeline Maxwell. As she is sixteen years old, she will prove a delightful companion for Betty, and I am glad to show her such an attractive portion of our country, as I am sure Denniston must be. She has never visited America before, and though she finds some of our ways strange, she tries to adapt herself to them. We will arrive on Wednesday afternoon about four o’clock.”
Betty read this letter with dismay. Mr. and Mrs. Irving were of an old and aristocratic Boston family, and Betty rather stood in awe of them. They had not yet been to Denniston, but Betty had made a brief visit to their Boston home.
The somewhat oppressive grandeur of the great house on Commonwealth Avenue made a strong impression on simple-minded Betty, and she had determined that when Mr. and Mrs. Irving should visit her at Denniston she would do all in her power to surround them with the careful formality they seemed to enjoy.
So when she learned that on the very next day not only Mr. and Mrs. Irving would arrive, but also a strange young lady from England, Betty wished she had more time for preparation.
It was in vain that Mrs. McGuire told her that her grandparents were not at all exacting.
“Why, Betty,” she said, “Mother and Father and I used to spend our summers down in that old country house of the Rosses’, and do you suppose there was much form or ceremony there?”
But Betty was not to be turned aside from her purpose.
“I’d be ashamed not to do the right honor by my grandfather and grandmother,” she said. “And it’s not but what my home is good enough, and my ways of living, but I must not have the foolish party I was going to have. I must have a fine and bountiful Thanksgiving dinner, with soups and fancy ice-creams and things with French names to ’em. I’d not set before them the baked beans and pumpkin-pies, at all. And I’d not have a rollickin’ crowd of boys and girls dressed up in the silly rags we’re thinkin’ of!”
It was only when Betty grew very much excited that she neglected her final g’s and almost relapsed into her long-discarded Irish accent. But she was so earnest in this matter, that she lost control of her tongue.
“An’ I’d think shame for the stylish English girl to see such cuttin’s up, so I would! They’re all right for us Greenborough girls as likes ’em; but the fine young lady shall find accommodations more to her taste, that I’m bound!”
And so what did impulsive Betty do but jump into her little sleigh, and fly round the village, recalling her invitations to a Puritan Thanksgiving feast, and asking the young people to come instead to a dance in the evening, and to wear their prettiest and most correct party frocks. Then she consulted with her mother and Ellen and Mrs. Kinsey, and among them they planned a dinner that would have pleased the most fastidious diners-out in any city. Betty did not herself know the names of the dishes she wanted served, but the services of a competent caterer were to be assisted by the skilled work of the home servants, and Betty felt that she had done the best she could to honor her relatives with a Thanksgiving feast.
Mrs. McGuire tried to persuade her not to give up the Puritan party, but Betty was firm.
“No,” she said, with snapping eyes; “I’ll not have the English young lady making fun of our country games. I’ll give her as good as she has in her own country, and I’ll do the best I can for my grandparents as well.”
“Well, I think it’s a shame!” declared Jack. “Here I’ve the loveliest brown cloth rig you ever saw. Cloak and knickerbockers and buckled slippers! Why, Betty, your grand Miss Maxwell would like me a heap better in those togs than in my Tuxedo.”
Betty faltered for an instant, then said:
“Maybe she would, Jack; but the girls and boys haven’t all such fine costumes. Some are just fixed up out of cheese-cloth and waterproofs. No, sir, it isn’t right by quality people to give ’em the kitcheny things we were going to have to eat at the feast, and if we leave out the old-fashioned dinner, there’s no fun in the old-fashioned clothes.”
“All right,” said Jack, who always bowed to Betty’s commands and never presumed to dictate.
And Betty was honest in her motives. It was not at all pride in her handsome home and its beautiful appointments that influenced her; it was the impulse to give of her very best to honor her dear grandparents and their young guest, and it was a more severe disappointment than any one knew, for her to give up the gay and jolly party she had planned for.
But Betty’s determination was of the immovable kind, and every plan for the Puritan party was dropped, and every plan for the proper reception of the guests was pushed forward; and so ably was all this done, that, on Wednesday afternoon, the house was in readiness and the family, in holiday attire, awaited their guests.
The Denniston carriage brought them from the station, and the reunion was a most happy one.
Mr. and Mrs. Irving may have seemed a bit punctilious as to the formal routine of their own house, but that in no way interfered with their hearty expressions of pleasure at finding themselves under their granddaughter’s roof. And they soon showed both by joyous words and manner that they were genuinely glad to meet Jack and Baby Polly and Grandma Kinsey.
Miss Maxwell was not quite as Betty had pictured her. She was quiet and reserved, but she seemed shy rather than haughty.
Betty tried hard to draw her out, but the English girl replied in monosyllables, and though most courteous and polite, was bafflingly unresponsive to the cordial chatter of both Jack and Betty.
“Iceberg!” thought Jack, to himself; “I’ve a good notion to say Boo! and see if she’d jump.”
But he didn’t, for Jack was always on his good behavior when Betty wanted him to be.
Dinner passed off beautifully. Of course, this was not the grand feast,—that was for to-morrow; but the well-cooked and well-served family dinner was a credit to Betty’s household. The evening was a little stiff. All sat primly on the brocaded chairs in the drawing-room and made polite conversation; but there was a certain restraint, which, however, Betty accepted as a necessary result of “having company.”
At last they all went to bed, and Betty lay awake, wondering whether it could be her fault that Miss Maxwell didn’t seem to be enjoying herself. “No,” said her mother, to whom Betty confided her anxiety in a little bedtime chat. “No, dearie, it isn’t your fault, except that perhaps you’re a little overanxious about it all. Perhaps if you’d take Miss Maxwell a little more simply,—a little more as you take May Fordham or Tilly Fenn,—”
“Oh, Mother, I couldn’t talk to Miss Maxwell as—as jokingly as I talk to the other girls! Why, even her name is Evangeline!”
Mrs. McGuire smiled, as she kissed Betty good night. “It is an imposing name,” she said, “but try not to be afraid of it.”
Next morning, Betty did try. She took Miss Maxwell for a sleigh-ride, but they did not make much progress toward chumminess.
It was after luncheon, when the girls went up to Betty’s room for a little chat, that Betty, more perplexed than ever, involuntarily blurted out her anxiety.
“Are you like this at home?” she said, scarcely realizing that the question was extremely personal. “Do you never chum with people?” Miss Maxwell broke into a ringing laugh.
“I’m the chummiest thing in the world,” she said; “I’d love to be chums with you, but I’m so—so afraid of you!”
“Afraid of me!” exclaimed Betty, opening her dark eyes wide in astonishment. “Why, it’s scared to death I am of you!”
Then both girls went off into peals of laughter, for Betty’s quick wit caught the real state of the case, and Evangeline, too, saw the truth.
“But I thought you so grand I must be extra polite,” said Betty, as they became calm again.
“And I thought because you were the owner of this big house, I must behave with great dignity! Please be chums. May I call you Betty?”
“I should hope so! I’m still too much afraid to say Evangeline, though.”
“Call me Van, then; lots of my friends do, and I like it.”
“I love it! It makes us friends at once. I think it was the ‘Evangeline’ part of you that scared me most. Why, when I heard that, I made the boys and girls give up our baked beans dinner, and have lobster pâtés and soufflée meringue.”
“A baked beans dinner! What do you mean? My! but that sounds jolly!”
So Betty told Evangeline of the Puritan party that had been set aside because of the unexpected guests.
“Oh, what a shame!” cried Van. “I should have loved it; can’t you get it up again? I can scrabble up a frock, I’m sure! It would be so much more fun than a grand dinner! oh, a thousand times more! Pumpkin-pie and cider and candle-light! Oh! Oh! Can’t you get it back?”
“I don’t see how I could, Van. It’s after two now, and dinner’s at seven. But let’s try. Jack! Jack!”
Jack came at Betty’s call, and he was informed of the wonderful discoveries the two girls had made concerning each other. He looked a little disgusted at Betty’s lack of intuition in the matter, and said: “Whew! what queer things girls are!” but he accepted the new situation, and set his wits to work to help Betty out.
“Why, I should think we could manage it somehow,” he said. “Give Pete and Ellen charge of the dinner part of it; send word to your gorgeous caterer man that the dinner is postponed; and you, Betty, hop into the cutter and fly round and tell those who haven’t any telephone, while I stay here and call up all those who have. I’ll wager they’ll all come.”
Come they did, every one of them. They wore quaint Puritan costumes, which were delightful to look at, if they were made of such humble materials as cheese-cloth and silkoline. The boys were stunning in their picturesque suits, and the dining-room was truly old-fashioned with its onions and red peppers strung from the rafters. The homely viands were eaten with decided enjoyment, and afterward even old Mr. Irving joined in the Virginia Reel.
“I’m so glad,” said Betty, as she and Van went to their rooms after the party was over, “that I learned of your ability to ‘chum,’ before it was too late.”
“I’m glad, too,” said her English guest; “I wouldn’t have missed this experience for anything. I shall always remember what is probably the only Thanksgiving party I shall ever attend.”
“Why, of course,” said Betty, “Christmas will be fun, whatever we do; but I mean I’d like to do something specially exciting.”
“Such as?” demanded Jack, her adopted brother.
“Oh, I don’t know; I can’t think of anything. But we can have a party here any time; I’d like to go somewhere else for the day—somewhere where there’s something to see and do.”
“Restless little Betty,” said her mother, smiling. “Well, what do you think of going to Lakewood for a few days?”
Betty looked dubious.
“Lakewood is lovely,” she said, “and I do want to go there again sometime; but it doesn’t seem just right for Christmas. I want to do something more—more—”
“Rackety,” suggested Jack.
“Yes, more gay and festive. I’d like to fly to the North Pole in an air-ship.”
“With flags waving and bands playing?”
“Yes. Wouldn’t it be fun? What could we do, Mother?”
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