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Kristy's Rainy Day PicnicByOlive Thorne Miller
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Kristy's Rainy Day Picnic
Olive Thorne Miller
Illustrator: Ethel N. Farnsworth
CHAPTER I. THE RAINY DAY
CHAPTER II. PLAYING DOCTOR; AND WHAT CAME OF IT
CHAPTER III. A SCHOOLGIRL’S JOKE
CHAPTER IV. ALL NIGHT IN THE SCHOOLHOUSE
CHAPTER V. MOLLY’S SECRET ROOM
CHAPTER VI. HOW MAMMA RAN AWAY
CHAPTER VII. HOW AUNT BETTY MADE HER CHOICE
CHAPTER VIII. NORA’S GOOD LUCK
CHAPTER IX. ONE LITTLE CANDLE
CHAPTER X. THE LOCKET TOLD
CHAPTER XI. HOW A DOG SAVED MY LIFE
CHAPTER XII. LOTTIE’S CHRISTMAS TREE
CHAPTER XIII. CHRISTMAS IN A BAGGAGE-CAR
CHAPTER XIV. HOW A BEAR CAME TO SCHOOL
CHAPTER XV. HOW LETTIE HAD HER OWN WAY
CHAPTER XVI. HOW KATE FOUND A BABY
They were playing that the wax Doll was Sick.
“I think it’s just horrid!” said Kristy, standing before the window, peering out into a world of drizzling rain. “Every single thing is ready and every girl promised to come, and now it has to go and rain; ’n’ I believe it’ll rain a week, anyway!” she added as a stronger gust dashed the drops against the glass.
Kristy’s mother, who was sitting at her sewing-table at work, did not speak at once, and Kristy burst out again:—
“I wish it would never rain another drop; it’s always spoiling things!”
“Kristy,” said her mother quietly, “you remind me of a girl I knew when I was young.”
“What about her?” asked Kristy rather sulkily.
“Why, she had a disappointment something like yours, only it wasn’t the weather, but her own carelessness, that caused it. She cried and made a great fuss about it, but before night she was very glad it had happened.”
“She must have been a very queer girl,” said Kristy.
“She was much such a girl as you, Kristy; and the reason she was glad was because her loss was the cause of her having a far greater pleasure.”
“Tell me about it,” said Kristy, interested at once, and leaving the window.
“Well, she was dressed for a party at the house of one of her friends, and as she ran down the walk to join the girls in the hay-wagon that was to take them all there, her dress caught on something and tore a great rent clear across the front breadth.”
“Well; couldn’t she put on another?” asked Kristy.
“Girls didn’t have many dresses in those days, and that was a new one made on purpose for the occasion. She had no other that she would wear.”
Kristy stood, peering into a world of drizzling Rain.
“What did she do?” asked Kristy.
“She turned and ran back into the house, held up her ruined dress for her mother to see, and then flung herself on the lounge with a burst of tears. Her mother had to go out and tell the girls that Bessie could not go.”
“That was horrid!” said Kristy earnestly; “but why was she glad, for you said she was?”
“She was, indeed; for an hour later her father drove up to the door and said that he was obliged to go to the city on business, and if Bessie could be ready in fifteen minutes, he would take her and let her spend a few days with her cousin Helen, who had been urging her to visit her. This was a great treat, for Bessie had never been to a large city, and there was nothing she wanted so much to do. You see, if she had been away at the party, she would have missed this pleasure, for her father could not wait longer. She forgot her disappointment in a moment, and hurried to get ready, while her mother packed a satchel with things she would need.”
By this time Kristy was seated close by her mother, eagerly interested in the story.
Mrs. Crawford paused.
“Do go on, mamma,” said Kristy; “tell me more about her. Did she have a nice time in the city?”
“She did,” went on Mrs. Crawford; “so nice that her father was persuaded to leave her there, and she stayed more than a week. There was one scrape, however, that the girls got into that was not so very nice.”
“Tell me about it,” said Kristy eagerly.
“Well,” said her mother, “this is the way it happened.”
One rainy Saturday afternoon when they were not allowed to go out, Bessie and Helen were playing with their dolls in the nursery.
Helen had a large family of dolls of many kinds: stiff kid-bodied dolls with heads made of some sort of composition that broke very easily, and legs and feet from the knees down of wood, with slippers of pink or blue painted on; others all wood, with jointed legs and arms, that could sit down; whole families of paper dolls cut from cardboard, with large wardrobes of garments of gilt and colored paper which the girls made themselves. Then there was a grand wax doll with real hair which hung in curls, and lips slightly open showing four tiny white teeth. This lovely creature was dressed in pink gauze, and was far too fine for every day. It lived in the lower bureau drawer in Helen’s room, and was brought out only on special occasions.
Dearest of all was a doll her mother made for her, of white cloth with a face painted on it, and head of hair made of what used to be called a “false front.” This delightful doll was quite a wonder in those days. It had a wardrobe as well made as Helen’s own, including stockings and shoes, and could be dressed and undressed and combed and brushed to her heart’s content.
Well, one morning,—a rainy Saturday, as I said,—the two girls were very busy with the big family of dolls. They were playing that the wax doll was sick and they were Doctor and Nurse. Many tiny beads—called pills—and several drops from a bottle out of the family medicine case had been thrust between the teeth of this unlucky creature, when the thought struck Helen that a living patient would be more fun than a doll. So she hunted up a half-grown kitten that belonged to her little brother Robbie.
The kitten was dressed for her part in a white towel pinned around her and a pointed cap of paper on her head. Very droll she looked, but she was not so easy to manage as the doll. Beads she refused to swallow, but thrust them out on her small pink tongue, and she struggled violently when a drop of the medicine was given to her. In fact, her struggles made Helen’s arm joggle, and sent more down her throat than she meant to give her.
Finally, the kitten struggled and fought so violently that they let her go, when she ran quickly down the stairs, and hid where they could not find her.
The next morning the kitten was missing, to Robbie’s great grief. The house was searched in vain, and the two girls began to fear that medicine was not good for her.
Feeling very guilty, they hunted everywhere on the place, and at last found the poor little dead body behind a box in the cellar, where she had crept to die.
The girls were horrified to think their play had killed her. They felt like murderers, and stole out into the arbor to think and plan what they should do. They dared not confess; they feared some sort of punishment for their crime, and they knew it would make Robbie very unhappy.
After much talk, they decided to dispose of the body secretly and not tell any one of their part in the sad business. But how to do it was the question that troubled them. They dared not bury it, for fresh digging in that small city yard would arouse suspicion at once. Bessie suggested that they should carry it far off in the night and throw it away. This plan seemed the best they could think of, till Helen said they would not be allowed to go out in the city after dark.
“I’ll tell you,” said Bessie at last. “I can do up a nice package,—Uncle Tom taught me,—and I’ll do it up, and we can take it away in the daytime; no one will know what it is, and then we can lose it somewhere.”
This plan was adopted. Helen got paper and string, and when everybody had gone to church that evening, they brought up the poor kitten, and Bessie made a very neat package which no one could suspect. This they hid away till they could get it out of the house.
After school the next day they got leave to visit a schoolmate who lived far up town, and Helen’s mother gave them money to ride in the omnibus—or stage, as they called it—which would take them there. There were no street cars then.
Hiding the small bundle under her cape, Bessie slipped out at the door, feeling now not only like a murderer, but like a thief besides.
They took the stage and rode up town, the package lying openly on Helen’s lap. When the stage reached Nineteenth Street it stopped, and to Helen’s horror one of her schoolmates came in. She was delighted to see the girls, and seated herself beside Helen.
“Where you going?” she asked.
“We’re going to see Lottie Hart,” answered Helen.
“Why, so am I!” she exclaimed; “ain’t it fun that we met so?”
“Yes,” said Helen, but she was filled with dismay. How could she get rid of her package!
“What are you taking up to Lottie?” was the next question, as the unfortunate bundle was noticed.
“Oh, nothing!” said Helen, trying to speak carelessly; “it’s something of mine.”
Julia looked as if she did not believe her but said no more, though she looked sharply at it.
Meanwhile Helen was trying to plan some way of getting out of the unpleasant scrape, and at last she said hurriedly, pulling the strap at the same moment to stop the stage, “We’re going to stop here to do an errand; we’ll come on soon. Tell Lottie we’re coming,” she added, as she saw the look of surprise on her friend’s face.
“Why, I’ll stop too—and we’ll all go on together,” she began, half rising, but Helen interrupted rather shortly: “No; you go on and tell her we’re coming; we might be detained, you know.” And without another word the two conspirators hurried out and turned down a side street.
“Wasn’t it horrid that Jule should get in?” said Helen, as soon as the stage had moved on. “She’s the greatest tattler in school; she’ll make a great talk about it. She was very curious about that package.”
“Where shall we go now?” asked Bessie. “Shall we really go to Lottie’s after we lose the bundle?”
“No indeed! They’d tease us to death about it. I don’t know where we’ll go,” she added, for she was getting rather cross. “I wish we’d left the old cat in the cellar anyway; it was a silly plan to do this.”
“I think you’re real mean to talk so,” said Bessie indignantly, for it was her plan, you remember. “I don’t care if the whole town knows it! it wasn’t my fault anyway—’n’ I’m going home tomorrow—so there!”
This brought Helen to her senses, for she didn’t want Bessie to go home, and she remembered that she was the one who had spilled the medicine.
“I didn’t mean that”—she said quickly; “I meant going in the stage ’n’ all that.”
During this little talk the girls had walked a block or two. “But where shall we go now?” asked Bessie anxiously, for she felt lost among so many streets all looking just alike.
“There’s a ferry at the end of the street,” said Helen, brightening up; “I didn’t think of that. We might cross it and lose the bundle in the river.”
“That’ll be easy,” said Bessie, and with fresh courage they walked on.
It was a long way to the ferry, and two rather tired girls went on to the boat, having paid their fare with the last penny they had, for they had expected to walk home from Lottie’s. They forgot until they had started that they had no money to get back, and that thought so frightened Helen that she almost forgot about the first pressing business of getting rid of her package.
There seemed to be as much trouble about that as ever, for the boat was full of passengers and somebody was all the time looking at them. They dared not drop it in when any one was looking, for fear they would think it very queer, and perhaps try to get it for them. Helen had heard of such things.
They walked to the front end of the boat, but could not find a chance when no one was looking; and indeed no doubt their manner was so strange that they aroused the curiosity of everybody.
One of the deck-hands, too, kept close watch of them, and when they went to the front of the boat, hoping to get where they would not be noticed, he came up to them and said to Helen:
“Look out, Miss! You might slip and fall overboard,” and kept near them as if he suspected that she meant to jump into the river.
“We can’t do it here,” Helen whispered; “we’ll have to go back—and I haven’t another cent; have you any money, Bessie?”
“No!” answered Bessie in horror; “oh, what can we do!”
Helen thought very hard for a few minutes, and then remembering that they had paid their fare in the ferry-house, she thought perhaps if they stayed on the boat and did not go through the ferry-house, they might go back without paying. She whispered all this to Bessie, who by this time was frightened half out of her wits, wondering if they would ever get back over the river, and thinking of all the terrible things she had heard in stories about being lost. She looked so scared that Helen, who was used to the city and was sure she could find some way, had to seem more brave than she really felt.
“We better go back into the cabin,” she whispered, “so that man won’t see that we don’t get off.” So they took seats in one corner of the cabin, as the people began to hurry off, hoping with all their hearts that no one would notice them.
But that deck-hand did not lose sight of them, and when the cabin was empty he came in. “It’s time to get off, Miss,” he said; “we don’t go any farther.”
“We don’t want to get off,” said Helen; “we’re going back.”
“But you haven’t paid your fare,” he said gruffly.
On this Bessie really began to cry, and Helen, though she tried to brave it out, trembled.
“Can’t we go back without, if we don’t go to the ferry-house?” she said, with trembling lips. “We haven’t any more money and we want to go home.”
On this the man was softened and probably ashamed of his suspicions, for he turned and said as he went out of the door, “Well, if the capt’n don’t object, I don’t care.”
Then the people began to come in, and the two girls sat trembling, dreading that every man who entered was the captain to demand their fare.
In this new trouble they forgot the bundle, and did not attempt to get rid of it on the river.
When they were safely away from the ferry-boat and on the street on the home side, they felt better, and began to think again of what they wanted now more than ever to do. They both felt that if they ever got safely home and out of this scrape they would never—never—get into another one again.
As they trudged wearily along, full of these good resolutions, they came to a row of houses set back a little in the yards with grass and shrubs growing.
Bessie whispered, “Couldn’t you drop it under one of these bushes, Helen? See; there’s a lilac very thick and down to the ground.”
Sure enough; there was a most convenient bush close to the fence.
“Is anybody looking?” whispered Helen, glancing around fearfully.
“No; I don’t see anybody,” answered Bessie. “Do it! do it! quick!” eagerly.
No sooner said than done; the package that had made them so much trouble was hastily thrust far under a broad-spreading lilac bush, and with a gasp, Helen started on a mad run down the street followed closely by Bessie. Not until they had turned a corner and passed into another street, did the two culprits dare to take a long breath and begin to walk.
As they got farther and farther away, and no one followed them, they grew less frightened, and then they found themselves very, very tired, with still a long way to go to reach home.
It was almost dark when two tired and hungry girls reached the steps of their own home and safety.
“I’m half starved!” said Helen, as they dragged themselves up the stairs.
“So ’m I,” said Bessie.
“You go onto my room,” whispered Helen, “and I’ll go down and see if I can get something to eat—it isn’t near supper time.”
In a few minutes she came up with some cakes which they eagerly devoured, and felt that their troubles were over. They had, however, one more ordeal.
At the supper table Helen’s mother asked: “How did you find Lottie? Did you have a pleasant time?”
Helen hesitated a moment and then said hastily:—
“We didn’t go there; we met Jule Dayton going there, so we got out at S—— Street and walked down to the river.”
Helen’s mother eyed the girls sharply. “You must have had a long walk.”
“We did,” answered Helen, “and we’re awful hungry;” adding quickly as she saw another question on her mother’s lips, “I’ll tell you all about it after supper.”
And she did. Alone with her mother the two girls confessed—told the whole story and promised never, never again to try to deceive.
“That was a good story,” said Kristy, as her mother ended. “You never told me anything about that Bessie before. Do you know anything more about her?”
Kristy’s manner was rather suspicious and Mrs. Crawford smiled as she answered:—
“Yes; I know a good deal about her and I’ll tell you more some day.”
“Tell me now!” begged Kristy; “I believe I know who she was. Was her name really Bessie?”
“No matter about that,” answered Mrs. Crawford; “if I told you her real name, perhaps I shouldn’t like to tell you so much about her.”
“Oh, well! Then you needn’t; but I guess I can guess.”
“I guess you can guess all you like,” said mamma, smiling again.
“One thing more I remember now that happened during that famous visit, which was not quite so tragical as the death of the poor kitten.”
The school to which Helen went—and where Bessie went with her—was not like the great schoolhouses they have now. It had but two rooms, one for girls and the other for boys. Some of the school windows opened on the street, and one morning when all was quiet in the schoolroom an organ-grinder suddenly began to play under the open windows.
The girls looked up from their books and listened, the teacher looked annoyed, but thinking he would soon go on, she waited. The girls began to get restless; study was at an end; and at last when the grinder had played all his airs and begun again, the teacher went to the door to ask him to go. In the hall she met the teacher of the boys, who was on the same errand, for the boys were all excited and getting very noisy. In fact school work was stopped in both rooms.
The man refused to move on, and at last gave as his excuse, that he had been hired by one of the scholars to play there an hour.
The teachers tried to make him tell who had hired him, and finally he said it was a small boy with red hair. Finding him determined to earn his money by playing the whole hour, the teachers went back to their rooms, sure that they knew the culprit and that he should be punished.
There was only one small boy with red hair in the school, and he was called up and accused of the prank. He declared that he knew nothing about it,—that he never did it,—and began to cry when the teacher brought from his desk a long ruler which the boys knew too well, for when one broke the rules he was punished by being first lectured before the whole school, and then ordered to hold out his hand and receive several blows from it.
The poor little red-haired boy cried harder than ever when this appeared, and again protested that he did not do it. Then a voice from the back of the room spoke timidly: “Perhaps the girls know something about it.”
This was a new idea; it had not occurred to the master that the man might have told a falsehood to shield the real culprit, and he laid down the ruler, telling the sobbing boy that he might go to his seat while he inquired into it. Meanwhile the organ-grinder went on with his work and the whole school was in an uproar.
When the girls’ teacher heard the suggestion that perhaps some of her pupils might be guilty, she was very much vexed. But ordering all books put aside, she gave them a serious lecture on the trouble that had been made by that mischief, and then called upon the guilty one, if she were there, to rise and receive her sentence, and save the small boy sobbing in the next room from a punishment that he did not deserve.
Upon this, sixty girls—the whole room full—rose together as one girl.
The teacher was amazed—almost in consternation. She first made one of them tell the story, when it came out that it was the prank of one of their number—whose name she would not give.
“Who was it?” interrupted Kristy eagerly; “was it Bessie?”
“No,” answered her mother, “not alone; but it was her cousin Helen who was full of such foolish jokes, seconded by Bessie. She had asked the organ-grinder how much he would charge to play under the school windows an hour, and when he said sixty cents, she had gone around among the girls and got a penny from each so that all should be guilty.”
The teacher’s next thought was how to punish sixty girls, but she was quick-witted, and bidding them resume their seats, she gave them another lecture, and then said: “Since you are all guilty, you shall all be punished.”
She then ordered text-books to be laid aside and slates and pencils to be brought out—for this happened before quiet paper had taken the place of noisy slates.
Each girl produced from her desk a large slate, and waited further orders. Then the teacher wrote in large letters on the blackboard these words:—
I LOVE TO HEAR THE ORGAN-GRINDER PLAY
and ordered each girl to write that upon her slate over and over and over again for one hour.
This seemed like a very easy punishment, and then began a vigorous scratching of pencils, with shy laughing glances between the culprits, while the teacher took a book and began to read, keeping, however, a sharp eye on the pupils to see that no one shirked her work. When one announced that her slate was full, she was told to sponge it off and begin again.
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