The Baldwin Library
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-How d'ye do, Mlly Jane? said she. "How d'ye do, Miss Spicer, said I."-Page 46.
" How d'ye do, Mary Jae i said sl:e. fow d'ye do, Miss Spocer, said I."--Page 46.
THE MARY JANE PAPERS
A BOOK FOR GIRLS
A. G. PLYMPTON
With Numerous Illustrations by the Author
WHITE, STOKES, & ALLEN
By WHITE, STOKES, & ALLEN.
A PREFACE is a great bore, but I suppose every
book ought to have one. I have looked at a great
many to see just how to write it, and I find they us-
ually begin something in this style : In offering these
memoirs to the American Public, I feel deeply my own
incompetence, etc, etc." But mercy I think I am a
great deal more competent to write my own autobi-
ography than any one else. For an autobiography, you
know, is a story that the heroine writes herself. From
those I have read, I should say that the heroines of
autobiographies, are even superior to other heroines.
This is my autobiography and I am Mary Jane.
Besides the preface, there is another bore, and that's
the title. The trouble about that is, it has to fit the
book. It seems that anything that is especially ap-
propriate has been used by somebody else, so that I
have settled at last on plain Mary Jane Papers.
My Uncle John said I ought to have a poetical quo-
tation, too, on the title page, and suggested some lines
which I have used, although there doesn't seem to be
much sense to them. But then, you know, you don't
expect much sense in poetry.
Some of these chapters have already been pub-
lished in St Nicholas, but as that is only a child's
magazine, and a great many people, therefore, have
missed seeing them, I have gathered them all together,
and with a number of other chapters presented them
to the "American Public" in this little book.
Can't play any more now; it's school time."-Page rx.
MARY JANE PAPERS.
I WONDER if any one thinks how tiresome it is to
be a little girl, and how perfectly horrid a girl's mother
can be, if she chooses. No; that's the worst about
grown people, they never seem to suspect that there
is anything out of the way about them, They are
saints in white, of course. All but Kitty's mother !
She is perfectly splendid.
I don't know Kitty's mother very well, but they
live in a splendiferous big house next to ours, and I
often hear what goes on at the other side of the fence.
My mother makes me wait on her all day long.
It's Mary Jane, just put on your hat and run down
to Bennet's and see why they don't send the coal" ;
or, "Mary Jane, step 'round to Hazleton's, and tell
them to send me a peck of potatoes." Very nice, to
I0 KITTY'S MOTHER.
be sure. Why don't she just run round to Bennet's
or step into Hazleton's" herself, if it's such a trifle ?
Kitty's mother says: "Don't wear yourself out car-
rying that heavy parasol. Let Eliza hold it over your
head, love." I heard her as they were walking in the
Imagine my mother thinking that I could wear my-
self out. No, not though I ran errands and tended
baby, and ran up and down stairs all day long.
And oh, once I was in the toy-shop, and Kitty and
her mother came in, and her mother did actually say,
" Don't you see anything here that you would like,
Kitty,dear ?" And "Kitty, dear," like a little simpleton,
said, No mamma."
I wish my mother would let me call her mamma,"
it sounds so stylish, and makes you feel just like a
girl in a book; but she says "mother" is the most
beautiful name in the world. I'm sure, I don't think
People say that I 'm not a good little girl, and I
think it's because I'm not brought up judiciously. It
spoils a child's disposition to be constantly thwarted,
and that's why I do a great many things that are bad.
That's why I tear my clothes so often, and make up
faces behind people's backs. I'm aggravated. If
my mother was not so strict about my going to school,
KITTY'S MOTHER. II
I think I should be a much better girl. I'll tell you
how I have to manage when I don't want to go. I
get the twins, and begin the most interesting play
that ever was. Just as we get all ready to have the
party, or get into the cars for a journey, or something
exciting, I stop short and say: I can't play any more
now; it's school time." Then Lucy sets up the most
awful howl, and as she has been sick, it isn't good for
her to cry, so if mother's pretty busy, and can't 'tend
to her, she says : "Perhaps you had better stay at
home to-day, Mary Jane. Lucy is so fretful, and will
have to be amused." And then I get them into the
yard, and run away and have a good time by myself.
I know it isn't right, but I 'm aggravated to it.
But what I particularly like about Kitty's mother
is that she is so interested in everything you do, and
is so encouraging. Now there is that composition I
wrote, and mother snubbed so. At least, she said I
had better try something more simple, and wouldn't
let me give it in. It begins : "It was a beautiful spring
morning, and all nature seemed to blend with one ac-
cord into each other." Well, I always thought it was
real good, and when I read it to Kitty's mother, she
said she thought it was beautiful, and that I would
turn out a famous authoress.
All this I wrote one day in my journal. It is dated
12 KITTY'S MOTHER.
a year ago, so now I can tell you what happened after-
ward when I had a chance to compare Kitty's mother
with my own.
One day, Kitty's mother came to see mine. I sup-
posed that she had come to make a call, and I thought
that was splendid, 'cause I believed that she might
influence her to bring me up as she did Kitty. But,
oh, she had an object in coming that I never should
have dreamt of. She wanted to adopt me for a com-
panion for Kitty. I was in the room when she told
my mother so, and my heart bounced, I can tell
I thought mother looked amused at first, and she
put her hand under my chin to hold my face up to
hers, and said : Do you want to leave your mother,
dear?" I really believe she thought I wouldn't want
When I said, Oh, mother, do let me," a great blush
came over her face. "I will think it over," she said,
quietly, to Kitty's mother, and I '11 let you know my
She had a long talk with father when he came
home. I don't think he approved of my going, but
after the twins were in bed and baby asleep, she came
into my room, and told me that she had concluded to
KITTY'S MOTHER. 13
let me try it for a month, while she and the children
paid a visit to grandpa.
I could hardly believe my senses, for I never sup-
posed she would let me go, and I was wild with de-
light. Kitty's mother is a perfect love, I declared, and
mother kissed me gently and left me.
In just a week, I began to be Kitty's mother's little
girl. My trunk was carried over to the big house,
and I kissed my mother-my first mother you know-
and the twins, and carried the baby to the carriage
that was to take them to the station, and after seeing
it drive away, I followed Kitty to my splendid new
I had never been in the house before. When I had
seen Kitty and her mother, it had always been in the
garden or the little summer house. That is where I
read my compositions to them, and learned to think
Kitty's mother perfection But now I entered the
tiled hall, and walked through the elegant rooms on
either side of it. It just turned my head to think of
Now we'll go upstairs, and you shall see the room
that has been prepared for you," said my mamma.
Yes, mamma, said Mary Jane, tossing back her
golden curls as she glode down the marble hall."
This I said out loud, but I intended to say only yes,
14 KITTY S MOTHER.
mamma, the rest came out before I knew it. You
see, I was pretending I was in a book.
Kitty's mother laughed outright. "You are the
most amusing child," said she ; "but I should think
being called Mary Jane would take the poetry out of
anything." It does," said I eagerly, I want to be
called May Jennie instead. So May Jennie I be-
came. In two or three days, I almost forgot that I
had ever been called Mary Jane at all. My new
mother was just elegant, I thought, and there were no
errands and no baby.
I didn't know just what to make of Kitty, she wasn't
a bit like me, or any girl I knew. When I played with
her it always reminded me of the day I was shut up
in the spare chamber, and made believe that my im-
age in the glass was another little girl and tried to
play with it; she would do just what I did, but she
would never do anything first. She didn't care to play
much, anyway. Her mother said that she was too
delicate, and I felt that I ought to be too delicate, too.
At first, it was great fun to pretend to be too feeble
to move, and call a servant every time I wanted any-
thing; but I got very tired of that sort of thing, by
and by. One day, I said to Kitty's mother,-
I should like to go and splash round in a mud-
puddle, as I used to do when I was Mary Jane Hunt."
KITTY'S MOTHER. 15
I thought she would never let me, on account of
my fine clothes, but she said, I am afraid you can't
find a mud-puddle, there has been so little rain lately;
but you can tell Thomas to take the hose and make
one for you."
I could not help laughing at this plan. I should
feel pretty cheap to do that. I think I'll get a book
and read, instead.
"There," said she, that just proves my theory.
You never would have cared to do such things, if your
mother had not been so strict. The fact is, she doesn't
know how to bring up children. Why, my dear, how
warm you look !"
I suppose I did look warm. I felt mad. Why
should she go and talk in that way about my mother ?
To be sure, I had complained about her myself
when I was Mary Jane Hunt, and grumbled because
she made me run errands, and amuse the baby, and
pick up threads off the carpet, but-
About this time, I began to think it was very queer
I had received no letters from mother. It's true I had
not asked her to write to me, because I hadn't thought
anything about it then. I longed to hear what they
were doing at grandpa's. So one day I sat down and
DEAR MOTHER : Why don't you write to me ? I want to know if the
16 KITTY'S MOTHER.
twins cry as much as usual, and if the baby is as cross now that his
tooth is through. I 'm having a splendid time.
Then this I scratched out and wrote instead :
This is a very handsome house indeed. Does grandpa let the
children ride old Whitey, and does Aunt Prue make many doughnuts ?
I can eat just as much cake as I want to, here; but they don't have
any doughnuts. I don't see why. Do write soon to your own,
When the answer came, it was a real short one.
Mother said the children had all gone huckleberry-
ing,-(Oh, don't I like to go huckleberrying !)-and
she never wrote a word about seeing me again. I
thought she would say when she was coming home,
and how glad she would be to see me when the month
was over. Could it be that she expected me to live
with Kitty's mother always ? I sat right down and
cried at the thought of it.
I made my eyes so red, that Kitty's mother
declared that I should receive no more letters.
It just upsets you," said she, and besides, when
a person adopts a child, she doesn't expect the
relatives to meddle with it."
Meddle! I began to think I hated Kitty's mother.
I told the truth when I wrote that I could have all
the cake I wanted, for Kitty and I used to have lots
of it. I don't believe it agreed with me, for before
KITTY'S MOTHER. 17
that month was over I became real ill. Now I knew
why Kitty didn't care to play, and preferred to loll
all day on the lounge. I couldn't hold my head up,
and I felt as cross as a bear. Oh, how I did snap at
people if they spoke to me ?
Of course, I would not take any of the medicines
prescribed for me, for I never do until my mother
makes me. And Kitty's mother only laughed when
I flung them away. She didn't seem to try to do
anything to make me more comfortable, but left me
entirely in Eliza's hands. I began to feel the value of
the mother I had left. All day long I cried for her, till
that hateful Eliza said: "Lor,' miss, I wouldn't be
crying for her, she isn't half so illigant as your new
Oh dear, I did feel so mad and so sick, I couldn't
think of anything half horrid enough to say to her.
I could only lie there and cry.
I suppose I must have been pretty sick. I know
I felt horrid. How I wished I was healthy Mary Jane
Hunt again, with the baby and the errands, and the
strict mother thrown in.
She is a hundred million times better than Kitty's
mother, after all," I sobbed to the pillow.
When the doctor came, and inquired for Miss May
Jennie, I screamed out that my name was Mary Jane
18 KITTY'S MOTHER.
Hunt, and I suppose he must have thought I was rav-
But Eliza explained that that was my real name,
and May Jennie only my new name I had taken, and
all about my coming there to live.
He wasn't the regular family doctor, for he had
gone out of town; but I thought this one must be just
as good, and better, too, when he took my hand and
said : Oh, ho so that's the trouble, is it ? Well,
Miss Mary Jane, we must get you back to your own
mother. That's the kind of medicine you need." And
so a telegram was despatched that very night to Mrs.
Deborah Hunt, and the next morning I was lying in
her dear, kind arms.
I had to take my medicines regularly after that,
and I got well, but I think the reason was because
I had got back to my own mother again, and the doc-
tor thinks so, too.
And now, if any one wants to make me real mad,
they have only to call me May Jennie, or ask me if I
don't wish my mother was like Kitty's mother.
HOW I TOOK THE PRIZE.
FOLKS say that Dot is the beauty of our family.
To be sure, Lucy is her twin and looks like her, of
course; but the measles, and the mumps, and the
whooping-cough have stolen her red cheeks and left
her as thin as a wafer. Any how, she has the best
disposition of any of us, and I suppose that counts for
something. As for Baby, he has the worst disposi-
tion, and the strongest lungs, and is the greatest nuis-
ance every way. "But Mary Jane," my mother says,
"is the smartest child I ever had."
I am Mary Jane.
Perhaps you think it is vain of me to tell this at
all. But I am writing my autobiography, you know,
and must tell the truth, or it won't be authentic. My
father says If it is not authentic, a work of this sort
has little value." So, you see, I am obliged to say that
I am smart.
20 HOW I TOOK THE PRIZE.
As I must be authentic, I shall begin by saying
that, although I am so smart, I am nct
at all handsome. When they had the r-t
tableaux at our church, they never asked me to be
in them, though Dot was stuck up in 'most every
one. The idea of going to a show and having to
look at Dot, whom I see every blessed day at home
for nothing! Besides, when we have our pictures
taken in a group, they always turn me sort of side
face. I s'pose they don't think I see through that.
Well, beauty is only skin deep, as Mamie Whyte
said in her composition; so I don't care.
At our Sunday-School, there were to be two prizes
given at the end of the year. The first prize was to
be a Bible, and the second a prayer-book! and the
two scholars who should learn the greatest number or
verses in the Bible would get them. I never thought
of such a thing as getting a prize. I had a Bible and
a prayer-book, and I didn't want another, anyhow.
Ours was the most stylish class in school. We were
the most stylish girls and had the most stylish teacher.
We had the minister's daughter for our teacher.
HOW I TOOK THE PRIZE. 21
Well, she said one day,-
f u- h p 1 "
should like to have
one of you get it."
Milly r.i said that some one in the minister's
daughter's class ought to get it, but none of us wanted
to try. There was Mabel Pratt, but she was going to
New York for a visit, so she wouldn't have time; and
Jenny Gurney was so slow to learn, and Mamie Whyte
and I didn't want the trouble.
Miss Parks had about the meanest class in the Sun-
day-School. All the poorest and dowdiest girls were
in it; and Miss Parks herself wore a waterproof, and
22 HOW I TOOK THE PRIZE.
was so queer looking. Jo Holland was in it, for one;
and I always hated her. No, I don't hate her, of
course, for that would be wicked. I mean I hate the
evil that's in her, and that's a great deal.
One day, coming out of school, Jo whispered to
me: How many verses have you learned ?"
"Not more than twenty," said I.
"Pooh," said Julia Brown, one of Miss Park's girls,
"no one in that class will ever get it."
I do believe," declared Mamie Whyte to me," that
Jo Holland thinks she is going to get the prize."
Well, she just shan't then," said I. I can learn
just as many verses as she can, if I have a mind to;
and I declare I will, just to spite her."
I made up my mind not to let Jo know that I was
trying for the prize, thinking she would learn more
verses for fear of being beaten ; and then, too, it would
be such fun to surprise her at the very last moment.
I didn't even tell them at home, for fear they would
let out the secret. I selected all the short verses, and
left out the big ones between ; and that next Sunday,
when Miss Newell, our teacher, asked me how many
verses I had learned, I said, Fifty."
"Dear me I can't hear you say so many to day,"
said she, looking pleased.
Well, I didn't have time to say more than five or
HOW I TOOK THE PRIZE. 23
six, but she gave me credit for fifty. And so with my
other twenty, I had seventy in all.
It was nearly Christmas time, and I was so busy
getting my presents ready, that I did not have much
time to study.
For mother, I was making a lovely pincushion. I
began it for Aunt Jane; but that was two years ago,
and I knew she had forgotten all about it. I told
Mamie Whyte that I was going to give it to her, and
she said it was lovely, and thanked me for it; but that
was before I dropped it in the coal-hod, and I didn't
believe she would want it after that. With mother
it's different, because she says she values anything
her children have taken pains to make for her.
I meant to get something real handsome for father,
but I had only fifty cents to buy it with. Dot and I
used to go shopping every day after school, and that
was fun. We always went into the handsomest stores.
I went into an elegant one once, and I told Dot that
I knew we could find something to suit us; but every-
thing was so dear. The clerk was very polite, too,
and we looked, and looked, and looked; by and by I
found the loveliest little stand for cigars, and I knew
father would like it. It didn't look very expensive
either, but the gentleman said it was five dollars and
24 HOW I TOOK THE PRIZE.
I asked him if he wouldn't take off the five dollars
and let us have it for fifty cents.
He said he would take off fifty cents and let us have
it for five dollars, but that would not do.
Dot told him to send us a postal card if he had
anything before Christmas in his store for fifty cents.
And then we went home. On the way we spent the
fifty cents for pickled limes, and treated all the girls;
so I couldn't give father any present after all.
I was going to make Dot's doll a dress. Mother said
that she would cut it out, and I could make it. After
a while I told her that I would rather she should make
it, and let me cut it out; but it was already cut out
by that time, and, finally, I got mother to make it for
When it came to Lucy's present, I was tired of
sewing, and mother suggested that I should give Lucy
my calla; but it had two buds on it, and I concluded
to wait until summer, and give it to her on her birth-
So you see I had lots to do; but I squeezed out
time to learn a great many verses. One day, when
father came home, I heard him say,-
Mother, where is Mary Jane ?" And Dot answered:
She is up in her room, reading the Bible."
It sounded beautifully. That next Sunday I had
HOW I TOOK THE PRIZE. 25
fifty verses more ; and the next, forty ; and then fifty
again, and so on.
Well, by and by, Jo Holland found out how many
verses I had learned, and gave up trying for the first
prize, and bent all her energies on the second prize.
I was real mad with whoever told.
I went right to Mamie Whyte and told her, and said,
Now, you must get that second prize."
"I can't ; it's so late now," replied she.
But I told her how easy it was, if she only picked
out the short verses, and so many that Miss Newell
couldn't hear them.
Mamie didn't like Jo any better than I did.
"I will try," said she ; "but it's lucky we are not
in Miss Park's class."
"Why," I asked.
"Oh! 'cause she makes 'em recite every single
verse. I know, 'cause I used to be in it. You
couldn't have beaten Jo Holland, if you had been in
her class, could you, Mary Jane ? "
Sometimes Mamie Whyte can say as disagreeable
things as anybody I know; but I never take any
notice of her mean speeches, and that's the way we
At last Christmas came.
I didn't like my presents very well. One was a
26 HOW I TOOK THE PRIZE.
book-a history. I haven't read it yet, Mother gave
me a new dress ; but I should have had to have it
anyway, and I don't like clothes for presents. The
worst was a horrid work-basket, with lots of needles
and thread in it. Aunt Jane sent me that, and I was
real glad I hadn't given her anything. She said in
her letter, that perhaps I should like to sew better if I
had a nice little work-basket of my own. I wanted a
Dot and Lucy had lovely things ; but mother says
I am getting too old for toys. In the toe of my stock-
ing I found a five-dollar gold piece, but I wasn't allowed
to spend it, so I didn't care for it. I consoled myself
by thinking what fun it would be to see Jo Holland's
rage when Mamie and I got the prizes.
We were going to have our festival in the church,
right after the evening service, and of course all the
people would be there. Each class had a motto and
an emblem. Our motto was By their fruits ye shall
know them," and the emblem was lovely-a silver
salver, with a stick all wound around with ribbons,
standing in the center of it, and heaped around with
oranges. It was the most beautiful thing The motto
for Miss Park's class was No cross, no crown," and
the emblem wasn't half so pretty as ours-nothing
but an old evergreen cross.
HOW I TOOK THE PRIZE. 27
The church was as full as it could be. Mother
couldn't come, for she had to stay at home with Lucy,
who was sick. But all the other mothers were there,
and lots of people besides. When each class was
mentioned, the scholars in it all stood up, and the
one that held the emblem carried it to the altar, The
minister held it up so the people could see it, and ex-
plained the motto, and then it was taken back again;
Mabel Pratt carried our emblem. I suppose she was
chosen because she has blonde hair, and wears such
handsome clothes; but she is a clumsy thing, and
tipped it up, so that some of the oranges rolled out on
the floor, just opposite Miss Park's class, too.
After all the emblems had been carried up, the
prizes were given out.
The first prize," said Mr. Newell, (that's our min-
ister) Is awarded to Miss Mary Jane Hunt, who has
learned thirteen hundred and fifty-two verses in the
Bible during the past year.
At the words, "thirteen hundred and fifty-two
verses," everybody turned and looked at me; and as I
stood up, a chorus of "O-o-o-o-o-o-oh's" went 'way
round the church. I should have liked to stand there
all day, but Miss Newell pulled me down.
After I had received my prize, and taken my seat,
the second one was given to Miss Mamie Whyte for
28 HOW I TOOK TIE PRIZE.
nine hundred and thirty verses. Everybody stared
again and the oh's went round, but not near so
many as for mine. I tried to look at Jo; but she was
sitting in front of us, and I couldn't get a glimpse of
her face. I think it was real hard to miss seeing her
after I had worked so.
Well, after Mamie came back with her prize, I sup-
posed it was all over; but what was my surprise when
Mr. Newell popped up again to say that they had
originally intended giving but two prizes, but a third
was now to be awarded, as a mark of approbation to
Miss Josephine Holland, who had learned five verses
regularly every week, without a single exception, dur-
ing the entire year."
And up pranced Jo, as proud as a peacock!
Just then, Mamie grabbed my arm and whispered
that somebody said that we werve all to be called up
to repeat our verses,-
Mercy How frightened I was! My heart came
right up into my mouth. It did and my knees shook
so that I couldn't have walked up to that altar again
to save my life.
Of course it would frighten anybody to have to re-
cite thirteen hundred and fifty-two verses before a
whole church full of people but it turned out to be
HOW I TOOK THE PRIZE. 29
only a silly joke of Mamie's, by which she meant to
After the congregation had been dismissed, I saw
the third prize ; and what do you think it was ? A real
Any way I heard lots of people say that it was a
queer prize to give at a Sunday-School, and I'm sure
I shouldn't want to wear jewelry for having learned
verses in the Bible. Beside, mother said if I would
break myself of my habit of interrupting, she would
give me a locket! So it all came out right, after
It came out right, but, in spite of the glory of get-
ting the prize, somehow it left a bad taste in my mouth,
and I just hated to think of it. Every now and then,
my father would say that he was going to hear me re-
peat those verses ; and whenever he looked at me, I
thought my time had come. Everybody that I saw
had something to say about the festival, and how
smart I had been, and the children called me Miss
But whenever the subject was mentioned at home,
mother looked at me in-well, such a suspicious sort
of way, that I wished a hundred times it had never
come into my head to try for the prize at all. I gave
my Bible to Dot.
30 HOW I TOOK THE PRIZE.
On the fly-leaf was written,-
Miss Mary Jane Hunt,
from her affectionate pastor,
and the date; and Dot has written underneath:
She gave it to me."
A TERM AT THE TUCKERTOWN SCHOOL.
To be sure 'Tildy was an uncommon scholar for
Tuckertown, but everybody said .;he was too young to
teach school. "A gal o' that age," said Deacon
Fisher, "can't be expected to hev much discipline,
and I wonder the committee should hev elected
It was the summer after the one in which I had
been adopted by Kitty's mother and following the
winter I had taken the prize at Sunday-School, and
I had become older and wiser since those foolish
I had broken myself of all my bad habits. I never
interrupted people any more, and never answered
back. I was reformed. That spring, Lucy had come
down with the scarlet fever, and Dot and I were sent
to grandpa's to escape the contagion, and that is how
I came to go to school to 'Tildy Joy.
32 A TERM AT THE TUCKERTOWN SCHOOL.
Before I had been in Tuckertown five minutes, in
came Beth Hall. We
had always been bosom
friends; but I remem-
Sbered how she used to
t mock grandpa's limp,
and Aunt Jane's cough,
iand the way Deacon
Fisher sang through
Shis nose, and I won-
dered if I ought to go
with her now that I had
reformed. While I was
making up my mind,
"she bounced up to me,
S You dear elegant
% Mary Jane, I'm so glad
you've come," and she
kissed me, and I had to kiss her, of course, and after
that there was no use holding back. I thought at
first I'd try and reform her too; but she is so full
of fun, and such a harum-scarum thing, that I con-
cluded that it wouldn't be any use to try.
The minute Aunt Jane went out of the room, Beth
A TERM AT THE TUCKERTOWN SCHOOL 33
told me that 'Tildy Joy was going to teach the district
"Just think of our having to mind her," she said,
scornfully, "and only last year she was nothing
but a scholar herself, and played tag 'long of us, re-
"Well," said I, I shan't mind a word she says,
and you mustn't either, Dot."
Land, I pity the schoolma'am that has you for a
scholar! said Betsy, who had come up to unstrap our
trunk. She didn't know that I had reformed, you see.
"You are a perfect imp and always were."
I don't care. I think it's real mean of Aunt Jane
to send us to school when we come visiting her.
'T isn't polite, any how.
I remembered 'Tildy perfectly. She was a real
I remenmhered 'I ildy perfectly. She was a real
34 A TERM AT THE TUCKERTOWN SCHOOL.
green-looking girl, and wore the biggest sunbonnet
in Tuckertown; and that's saying a great deal. The
Joys were poor, and they lived in a curious old black
house, with a roof which sunk right in in the middle,
and folks said it would tumble in, some time, on their
heads. Aunt Jane said that she had heard that Tildy
meant to fix the old house up, now that she had a sal-
It seemed queer enough, I can tell you, to see 'Tildy
in the teacher's seat that next morning, when Beth
and Dot and I went into school. She had her dress
made long, and braided her hair behind: and as she
sat at the desk, she looked as stiff as a stick. I could
see she was trying to be very dignified, but I remem-
bered how she used to tease for my apple cores, and
I wasn't going to be respectful.
How d'ye do, 'Tildy ?" says I. Going barefoot
this year ?"
Everybody giggled except 'Tildy, and she looked
"Take your place, Mary Jane," said she. The
seat next to Beth Hall."
Did you ever hear of such a goose ? The idea of
putting Beth and me together. After I had had all the
trouble of reforming, too: for I knew the minute I
slipped into my seat, that I never could keep that up,
A TERM AT THE TUCKERTOWN SCHOOL. 35
with Beth giggling at my side. You see she had a
bad influence over me. She just set me on. She
would have made a saint in white cut up capers, I
do believe. I wonder why it was that no one saw how
she set me on ; but they didn't ; they thought poor
innocent me was ct the bottom of everything; and
her mother even told Aunt Jane that Beth thought
she must do just as I did, because I lived in the city.
Now I am sure it was she that started all, the mis-
chicf. It was she who proposed putting the toads in
'Tildy's lunch basket, and it was she who wrote that
letter. I believe I told her what to say, but then
that's nothing. We had lots of fun about the letter.
You see we pretended it was sent by the committee,
and we addressed it to Miss 'Tildy Joy, and said that
her salary was going to be raised, and signed it Dea-
con Green. He is one of the committee, you know.
We watched her through the keyhole when she read
it, and I remember how happy she looked all the
morning, and how we giggled because she was so
much more amiable than usual.
It was a real queer school. It wasn't one of the
strict kind at all.
There is no kind of a trick that we did not play oh
'Tildy, at least I never heard of one. I never saw
such a school before ; but it wasn't my fault.
36 A TERM AT THE TUCKERTOWN SCHOOL.
But the worst thing of all happened one day to-
wards the end of the term. We had been expecting
the committee all the morning, and had been on our
best behavior. I don't know how it came about, but
they had all got an inkling of how things went at
school. Perhaps the mothers found out and told
them. I know they didn't want 'Tildy to teach next
term, and they all seemed to think that she hadn't
any discipline, I don't suppose she had. Jane Fair-
banks, who lives in the next house to 'Tildy, said, once
she had seen Deacon Green go in there and thought,
from the tone of his voice, that he was complaining
about something. At any rate, she began to look pale
and worried. Aunt Jane said she hoped I was not
troubling 'Tildy with my shines. Shines, indeed It
was all very well to feel kindly to i:r, but what was
the use of hurting my feelings, I'd like to know. I
was so mad, or rather grieved, that I made up a face
at her every time she turned her back.
Well, the committee didn't come, and it was recess
I'll tell you what," said Beth, let's climb upon
the roof and let 'Tildy hunt for us," (I hope you notice
that it was Beth and not I who said this.)
Let's," said I, and we all made a rush for the shed.
We had got up on the roof before, and I knew that it
A TERM AT THE TUCKERTOWN SCHOOL. 37
was easy enough to boost each other up from the top
of the shed. There we sat, waiting for the bell to
ring. Pretty soon it did ring; I heard
the door open, and by holding on to
"the edge of the roof and leaning over,
I could just see 'Tildy's hand with
the bell in it. Then she went in,
and we waited. In a few minutes
she rang it again, furiously. We
were all giggling by this time, and
if I hadn't held on to Dot she would
S 'have rolled off the roof. Then it
sounded from out of the side windows, and then from
a back window, and then at the door again, and then
'Tildy called and called, and finally she stepped out,
and, still ringing the bell, walked towards the woods.
I shall never forget her look when she turned round
and saw us.
38 A TERM AT THE TUCKERTOWN SCHOOL.
Oh my! But wasn't she mad? she stood at the
foot of the shed and called us to come down, in a voice
that fairly shook with rage. I don't know why, but
we insisted that we were not coming down, that we
were going to say our lessons up there, and she could
bring a chair out and sit down and hear them. While
we were still there, and 'Tildy stood entreating us,
we heard the sound of a wagon, and the first we knew
that old committee had come. As we hopped down,
one by one from the roof, they stood talking with
'Tildy and watching us. Beth said she thought she
heard the words, too young," and no discipline."
I know I heard 'Tildy sigh as I passed her to go into
the schoolhouse, and her eyes were full of tears. We
tried to do our best in the examination, but it was plain
that 'Tildy had lost her hope and courage. I won-
dered, as I walked home, if she would lose her posi-
tion, too, and that night I dreamt that the old Joy
house had tumbled down, and folks said that it was
There was going to be a huckleberry party that
next day, and we all begged in vain to stay away from
school and go. I didn't feel near so bad about 'Tildy
as I had in the night. I have noticed that I do most
of my repenting, and make most of my good resolu-
tions, in the night: and I think it's a real good plan,
A TERM AT TIIE TUCKERTOWN SCHOOL. 39
'cause it leaves the days all clear to do what you
I think it's real mean," said Beth ; my mother
never wants me to have any fun. Oh, if school only
wouldn't keep, if only the schoolhouse had blown
down, or 'Tildy was sick."
Oh I wish she were," said I, I hope she ate lots
of plum-pudding and mince pie just before going to
bed last night."
And currants and milk" suggested Dot.
And lobster," said Beth.
Just then Jane Fairfield came running towards us.
No school. 'Tildy's sick," said she, and flew past
us like a flash.
We all looked at each other, and Dot began to
I didn't mean it at all," said I. I-I only just
; Beth actually looked pale. "Our saying so didn't
make her sick," said she. Then she burst out: Mary
Jane, you 've behaved awfully the whole term, and I
don't think you are a good girl for me to go with."
That was a pretty idea, wasn't it ? I just got mad
with Beth Hall. It was your fault more 'n mine,"
said I. I had reformed, and you are a- "
But Beth was gone.
40 A TERM AT THE TUCKERTOWN SCHOOL.
I wouldn't mind," said Dot. Her conscience is
"I hope it is," said I, fiercely ; and yours, too,
miss," and I turned from the road and fled into the
woods. I don't know where Dot went.
'Way down behind the schoolhouse was a cave,
where we often played house, Beth and I. I went
there because I would be sure of seeing no one.
There I sat all the forenoon, and thought of all the
tricks we had played on 'Tildy, and called myself and
poor little Dot and Beth all the hard names I could
think of. I know I must have felt real sorry, for I
made up my mind to go and tell 'Tildy so, and prom-
ise to be a better girl in the future.
As I came out by 'Tildy's house, what was my sur-
prise to find Beth sitting on the old stone wall by the
"Well, if I ever," said I. "What did you come
here for ? "
"I'm going to see 'Tildy," explained Beth. My
conscience has been pricking me till I feel like a pin-
cushion, and I'm just going to tell 'Tildy how sorry I
am, and that I shall behave like an angel when she
Well," said I, that's what I came for. Let's go
together, for, you know, folks say we always set each
A TERM AT TIE TLCKEIRTOWN SCHOOL. 41
other on. Now, Beth, you begin and set me on pretty
quick, 'cause Aunt Jane will be as cross as a bear if I
don't get home in time for dinner."
But you must set me on, too," said Beth.
I'm trying, but you don't go," I answered.
Beth sniffed, It's all bosh about my setting you
on, Mary Jane. You don't budge an inch. Ill bet I
could luj/r you along a lot faster," and before I knew
what she was about, I was right in front of the door.
I meant to knock and then slip round the corner,
leaving Beth to face the music ; but the door opened
suddenly, and Mrs. Joy, 'Tildy's mother, stood upon
What do you want," said she, in, oh, such a tone
of voice. You 've about killed my 'Tildy with your
capers, and now I won't have you hanging round the
house. If you don't clear out this minute, I'll set the
dog on to you."
We ran every step of the way home.
Oh, my," gasped Beth, wasn't she awful ? "
That afternoon we went huckleberryig.
The summer passed, and there was no school, but
'Tildy was getting better slowly before I left Tucker-
town. I went up to bid her good-by the day of the
county fair, when Beth said her mother would be sure
to be out, and I told her how sorry I was for every-
42 A TEAM AT THE TUCKERTOWN SCHOOL.
thing I had done to annoy her. 'Tildy said that her
uncle had invited her to spend the winter in New
York, and she was going to wait till she was a little
older before she tried to teach school again.
I add a letter which I received about a month after
I got home. It was from Beth, and read
DEARs MARY JANE: You know I promised to write you what the
new teacher was like. Well, she is aI) R A GO N.
The Committee was determined to have no more such doings as
we had while 'Tildy was here, and they put an advertisement in the
paper for the crosses woman in America. Guess you would think
they had found her, if you were here now. She begins the morning
exercises by whipping all the big boys. I don't mind that so much
as some other things, though. She has got plenty of discipline. We
don't climb on the roof, recesses, any more. We don't put toads in
her lunch basket. I don't like her. I don't think she is a very good
teacher for she don't explain things clear. I don't think we get on as
well as we did when we had 'Tildy. I told Deacon Green so. He
laughed. All the mothers like her.
Your affectionate friend, ELIZAIETtI HALL.
P. S.-I don't know for certain that they advertised for Miss
Clarke, but everything else is just as I have said. Honest injun."
THE SPICES' COWS.
THEY had lots of cows, the Spicers had,-and they
passed most of their time in our garden. The reason
they didn't stay in the pasture was because the fences
were all broken down; for the Spicers were the
most shiftless folks in Tuckertown. Why I cared
about the cows, was because I had to drive 'em out.
It was the summer that Lucy was sick, and Dot
and I were sent to grandpa's.
Well, one day, grandpa said,-
If those cows get into my corn again, I'll drive
em up to the pound."
"What's the pound ? asked Dot.
It 's a pen," said grandpa, where you can drive
any cattle you find on your land; and the owner can't
get them out without paying a fine."
"Oh, I think that's elegant!" said I. "I know
lots of people's cows I should like to get into the
44 TIHE SPICES' COWS.
When grandpa went out, I said I would go and
tell Sarah Spicer just what he had said.
"Now, Mary Jane, you just stay where o are.
-- '- .r ._.
"You want your fingers in everybody's pies." It was
Aunt Jane-you might know-who said that.
I might have answered that she was so sparing with
hers (especially mince) that I never could touch tanm.
hers especiallyy mince) that I never could touch tlicn,.
THE SPICERS' COWS. 45
But I did n't. I often think of real smart things, and
it 's mean that I can't say them.
But, I declare, there is never any use at all in my ar-
guing with Aunt Jane; for, when I get the best of
her, she always stiffens up and says : There, that
will do, Mary Jane Not another word "
Besides, it isn't right to answer back. So I just
said nothing, but took Dot and marched straight off
to the Spicers'.
We found Sarah and Sam playing in front of their
house. Mercy me! I never saw such a gone-to-
wreck-and-ruined place. Half the window-panes
smashed, and the shingles coming off, and the wall
broken down, and not so much as a path up to the
front door! I suppose that is so that folks will go to
the back door, as Aunt Jane did that day I went there
with her and found the hens picking up the crumbs
in the kitchen. I should have thought Mrs. Spicer
would be ashamed of that; wouldn't you? But,
she wasn't! She said the hens were company for
her, and, besides, they "saved sweeping."
Aunt Jane says Sarah Spicer's no t a pretty-be-
haved little girl," and I shouldn't think she was. So
saucy! And she swings her skirts when she walks,
and it's real aggravating. Besides that, she makes
up faces at real nice folks, Beth Hall and I turned
round quick once, and caught her at it.
46 THE SPICERS' COWS.
I thought she was looking more saucy than ever on
this particular day, and I determined to be very digni-
fied and distant.
How d' ye do, Mary Jane ?" said she.
How d' ye do, Miss Spicer ?" said I.
Mercy me, Mary Jane, what airs !" said she.
"It's no use to put 'em on here in Tuckertown, I can
tell you, for folks know all about you."
There, that will do," I said, as like Aunt Jane as
ever I could. I only came over here to tell you that
we are going to have your. cows put in the pound, the
very next time we find 'em in our garden."
Poh cried out that Hop-o-my-thumb of a Sam.
"Your grandfather has said so, lots of times, but he
"Doesn't dare to!" snapped Sarah.
I was just boiling mad. The idea of my being
treated so by those low Spicers !
Dare to ? said I. "I wonder who you think
would be afraid of such a poor, shiftless set as you
are ? My grandfather says your farm doesn't raise
anything but weeds and potato bugs. But I '11 tell
him, it raises plenty of 'sarce' besides."
And then I took Dot's hand, and just ran for
home, so as not to give Sarah a chance to have the
THE SPICER'S COWS. 47
Oh, but don't I 'spise her !
Well, that afternoon, Dot and I went into the barn
to play. We played that we were angels, and made the
loveliest crowns of burs, and real nice wings out of
newspapers. When we wanted to fly, we went to the
top of the loft, and flew down to the hay on the barn-
floor; but we didn't care to fly much, it was so much
nicer to bounce up and down on the clouds-I mean
the hay-and play on our harps and sing.
We were just in the midst of it, and enjoying the
fun with all our might, when Aunt Jane screamed
"Mary Jane Mary Jane The cows are in the
garden. Run and drive them out."
Isn't that mean said I. The idea of asking an
angel to drive cows !"
Play they are evil spirits," suggested Hiram, who
was cleaning out the stalls.
No, they 're not," said I. They are just nothing
but cows. Besides, it makes me hot to run after
them, and angels ought never to be hot."
Then Aunt Jane began to scream at me again, and
of course, I had to go.
It 's too bad !" cried Dot. Those Spicers' cows
spoil all our fun."
I '11 tell you what," said T, after I had shoo'd them
48 THE SPICERS' COWS.
into the road. I 'm going to drive 'em right up to
the pound. I '11 show that Sarah Spicer-- "
Why, Mary Jane Hunt cried silly Dot. What'll
grandpa say ? I won't go."
Say ? Why, that he is much obliged to me, to
be sure. And if you don't come right along, I '11 take
off my little crown and stick the prickles into you,
That 's what I said, but I knew I couldn't get the
crown out of my hair-the old burs stuck so. I got
some out, though, and tied my hat on, set my wings
against the wall, and got a stick to drive the cows with.
Dot trotted after me as meek as a lamb.
It wasn't far to the pound ; but there was one cow
and her calf that wouldn't hurry,and, besides, we walked
very slowly along the sunny parts of the road, and
rested every time we came to a shady place; so it was
late in the afternoon when we left the pound, and
turned to come home.
Lets go round by the Spicers'," said I, I don't
care if it is farther. Perhaps we shall see Sarah."
"I don't want to see Sarah," answered Dot. I
saw enough of her this morning. 'Sides Aunt Jane
said, if we got through supper in time, she would take
us to see Mrs. Green, and you know she is going to
give us some pears."
THE SPICERS COWS. 49
But I was bound to go past the Spicers'; so I said :
" We'll hurry, and go 'cross lots, and I know we sha'n't
be late," and I had my way.
We went quite a distance by the road, and then
through Mr. Hall's cornfield and the woods beyond,
and came out right in the Spicers' pasture. The sun
had just gone down, and there was a bright light be-
hind the row of old jagged apple trees along by the
stone wall, which was so broken down in places that
it was an easy matter for the cows to stray away.
Dot and I noticed that there was only one left now in
I hope Sarah and Sam will have a good time hunt-
ing after the others ; and good enough for 'em," said
I. "Perhaps her father is just scolding her now for
letting them stray away."
Well, he isn't, for there he is now." Dot pointed,
and I saw Sarah in the swing on the butternut tree
in front of their house, and her father was swinging
her, up ever so high.
When she saw us she jumped out and ran to the
"Hope you'll find your cows to-night, Sarah,"
You had better go for 'em," chimed in Dot.
Hope you'll find yours," retorted Sarah. If you
50 THE SPICER'S COWS.
don't keep 'em out of our garden, we are going to
drive 'em to the pound."
"Te, he," giggled Sam.
What could they mean ? I wondered, as I hurried
on, if our cows had got into their garden; and it
worried me so that I told Dot.
"I don't believe it, at all," said Dot. They just
wanted to scare us and get even with us."
Although we hurried so, it was late when we got
home. We were afraid that supper would be all over,
and Aunt Jane would scold us for being late. But
though the table was set, and grandpa was home from
work no one had sat down to it.
"Been waiting for the milk," said Aunt Jane. But
it's no use to wait any longer. I'll use morning's
Yes," said grandpa, who was washing his hands
at the sink. Do let's have supper. Children, have
you seen the cows ?"
Why, no," I answered, not ours; but Dot and I
drove the Spicers' cows up to the pound."
Those that were in our garden ? demanded Aunt
Jane, looking straight at me.
Well, of all the little mischief-makers Those
were our cows."
THE SPENCERS' COWS. 51
"My gracious, goodness me !" said I ; and
grandpa's got to pay a fine to get his own cows out
of the pound ? Oh dear! I do hope Sarah Spicer
won't find out about it."
Dot and I didn't go to Mrs Green's for pears that
night, I can tell you. Instead, we went to bed an
hour earlier than usual; but Sarah Spicer doesn't
know anything about it ; and after Aunt Jane went
downstairs, Dot and I had a real good time playing
l" MRS. POLLY ANN BUNCE'S BEST
RS. Polly Ann Bunce is Beth
S/ Hall's grandmother, and she
/ wanted to go to the convention
"k 'Tisn't likely, 'Liz'beth," she
said to Beth's mother, that I'll ever live to see many
more of these anniversaries, and as I am not so poorly
as usual, this year, I think I'd like to go."
Well," said Mrs. Hall, I have been counting on
spending a day with Lucius's wife, and I might as well
go now and take )ou to the convention."
I want to go to the convention, too," cried Beth.
"And anyhcw, mother, if I don't go to the convention
I should like to go to Providence."
Her mother looked doubtful for a moment, and then
Well, well, I'll see about it. We shall not go till
MRS. POLLY ANN BUNCE'S BEST CAP. 53
next week Thursday, so don't begin to tease now,
By Wednesday Mrs. Hall had decided to take Beth
with her to Providence, and, as Dot and I needed new
shoes, she offered to let us join the party.
There were quite a number of Tuckertown people
going into town that day. Mrs. Hall and Mrs. Polly
Ann Bunce went in the early train; but, as there was
not room for us in the carriage, Beth, Dot and I were
to follow in the next one, under the care of Mrs.
Mrs. Hall said that this was a very nice arrangement
but Beth and I didn't think so at all. We didn't like
Mrs. Ithamar Tibbetts. Aunt Jane said that I had a
prejudice against her, and that it was very wrong be-
cause she is a good, conscientious woman. Well, I
suppose she is, but any way I couldn't bear her. Beth
and I consoled ourselves with the thought that,'when we
got to the station, we could run away from her and get
a seat in another car. But she kept an eye on us
every minute, and finally seated herself directly behind
"I don't care," I whispered to Beth. "In the
big depot at Providence I know we can get away from
her. We will hurry out of the cars ahead, and there
will be so much noise we sha'n't hear her call after us.
54 MRS. POLLY ANN BUNCE S BEST CAP.
While we run out into the street, she will have to stay
and look after her baggage. That is, if you know the
O yes, I know the way," said Beth.
SWe didn't have any 1].. -_ i: except Mrs. Polly Ann
Bunce's best cap, in a box, which Mrs. Hall had given
us to carry for her.
Well, everything happened exactly as we had planned,
and very soon Mrs. Tibbetts and we had parted com-
pany. Now," said Beth let's walk slowly and look
into all the shop windows. I want to spend my money
Beth had a dollar, and Dot and I each had fifty
cents. Mrs. Hall had the money for our shoes.
I had made up my mind to buy a lovely fan with a
shepherdess painted on it, when Dot suddenly cried ;
"Why, where is Mrs. Polly Ann Bunce's best cap ?"
Sure enough where was it ?
"It has gone on to Boston in the train," said Beth
faintly. We must have left it in the cars in our
hurry to get away from Mrs. Tibbetts."
Oh, how Mrs. Polly Ann Bunce will look without
any cap !" giggled Dot.
And how do you think you will look when we have
to tell that we lost it ? snapped Beth.
Dot of course began to cry.
MRS. POLLY ANN BUNCE'S BEST CAP. 55
'Twasn't my fault Beth Hall. I'm a real little
girl. It was your fault and Mary-Jane's."
"I suppose we were all to blame," said I. But.
no matter, we can buy her a new cap; we have money
enough, I'm sure."
"Yes, but I had rather buy candy than caps,"
Mary Jane," said Beth, "if you and Dot will give
your money, we will have two dollars together. How
much do you suppose caps cost ? "
I dunno," answered Dot; I never buy 'em."
At that we all laughed, and Beth said they were
ugly things any how, and ought not to be more than a
dollar and a half. In that case, we would have fifty
cents left to spend.
Pretty soon we came to a place where they had
bonnets in a window, and we thought they would be
likely to keep caps there too.
"Mary Jane, you ought to ask," said Beth. "You
are the oldest."
"I'm only two weeks older than you," said I and
I've done enough things to make up for those two
weeks long ago."
"Well, if not the oldest, the youngest, then.
The middle person never does anything," Beth said,
with a nod at Dot.
56 MRS. POLLY ANN BONCE'S BEST CAP.
There are folks who slip out of everything, and
Beth Hall is one. I was glad when Dot said,-
"But it isn't my grandma's cap. I think Beth
ought to ask for it."
Come, Mary Jane, cried Beth, I dare you to
do it. "
Of course I ladr to do it then. I guess I'm not
afraid," I said, and walked right into the shop.
There were two girls behind the show case, and
I said to one of them, "I've come to look at
They looked at each other, and began to laugh in
a most disagreeable way, and one of them asked:
" For yourself, madam ? "
MRS. POLLY ANN BUNCE'S BEST CAP. 57
I knew she was making fun of me, and was just
going to say that we would go to some other shop,
when Dot burst out,-
"Why, Mary Jane's only a little girl. Ske don't
wear caps. It's for Mrs. Polly Ann Bunce and she is
so old she hain't got any hair and has to wear false
teeth. Why, what are you nudging me so for, Beth.
You said yourself, that last winter when we had that
cold snap she took her teeth out and put 'em in a
glass of water one night, and in the morning she
couldn't eat any breakfast, 'cause they were frozen in.
Oh, she is awful old, is Mrs. Polly Ann Bunce, and
she must have a cap. "
Well, you know, there are a great many different
styles of caps, said the girl to me. What kind do
you want? "
"We want a chcap kind, answered Beth.
I had no idea there were so many different kinds
of caps. There was one very fancy one with wheat
sticking out of the ruche, and a bunch of grapes on
one side in a bow made of pink ribbon. We thought
this cap would be very expensive,-it had so much
trimming on it,-but it turned out to be the very
cheapest one in the shop. I suppose that was be-
cause the ribbon was so soiled. I liked better the
black one with the two lace tabs hanging down be-
58 MRS. POLLY ANN DUNCE'S BEST CAP.
hind and a purple bow on the top,-but just think !
it was seventeen dollars! Real lace you see.
There was still another, with just a ruche and
plain muslin strings, which looked, somehow, for all
the world like Mrs. Bunce; but it was two dollars and
would take every penny we had. So Beth took up
the one with the grapes again, and said to me.
Oh, what shall we do, Mary Jane ? I'm afraid
grandma won't like this cap. "
Did she send you to buy one for her ? asked the
second girl, who was leaning over the counter and
staring at us.
"Why, no!" Beth answered; "but we lost her
cap coming from Tuckcrtown. We left it in the
cars, and now we have got to buy her another."
"The poor little things said the first girl. "They
are afraid to go home without a cap. Couldn't we
fix up one for them for a dollar and a half, Eliza?
There's the one that was begun for Mrs. Jonas Jones;
with a ruche instead of the lace it will look very nice.
I dare say they will get a scolding for losing the
Yes, indeed put in Beth, and I never saw her
look so wretched before or since. You had better
believe my grandma will scold, with no cap to wear
all day and she a-visiting, too. I dare say we won't
MRS. POLLY ANN BUNCE'S BEST CAP. 59
be allowed to have any dinner at all, and I'm so
So am I," I said mournfully, and Dot looked ready
"There now, you just cheer up, darlings !" cried the
one called Eliza, with a look at Dot, whose lips were
quivering beautifully, We will fix up a nice cap for
you, all for one dollar and a half."
While she was at work, we looked again at the
other cap. I don't believe my grandma would wear
it," began Beth. '" It's an awful queer-looking thing,
Isn't it ?-with those horrid grapes and that wheat
and faded ribbon. I guess your grandma would think
we haven't very good taste, but anybody would like
this one," said I, and the girl who had just finished it
held it up, exclaiming : There, that's a bargain for
you at one dollar and a half! "
I should say it was," cried an awful voice from the
door. Eliza Shaw, what do you mean by selling that
cap for a dollar and a half ?"
We saw at once that the new comer was the owner
of the shop, and that she was as mad as a hornet, be-
"They can't pay but a dollar and a half," said the
girl, but her face turned very red as she spoke.
60 MRS. POLLY ANN BUNCE'S BEST CAP.
Well, let them have the one with the grapes and
the pink ribbon, then, that's a dollar and a half, and
the only one in the store for that ridiculous price "
The girl put the nice cap she had made for us in a
box, and held out the other one saying : Well, this
is the best I can do for you, then, after all."
Beth looked at me, and I looked at Beth, while Dot
said: I'm sure it's good enough."
"I hope your grandma will think so," said I to
Well, maybe she will," sighed Beth, gloomily.
"She called me an ungrateful girl, the other day,
'cause I said I wouldn't wear that sun-bonnet mother
bought for me. So I hope she won't despise this
costly, handsome cap."
"Yes, a nice, handsome cap, with grapes and lots
of trimming on it! added Dot.
While the girl had been tying the cap up for us,
we had been leaning on the showcase, and, just at
that moment, the glass gave way with a crash beneath
Oh, my what a thin glass it must have been,"
said Beth, turning pale.
My gracious tiii !'' cried the first girl. I'm
afraid you will find it will cost you enough to have it
mended. It will be ten dollars, if it's a cent."
MRS. POLLY ANN BUNCE'S BEST CAP. 61
"But I never had so much money as that, in my
life cried Beth. We can't pay for it! "
The woman who had refused to let us have the cap
now came tearing up to us, exclaiming,-
Give me every penny you have, and then clear out
of my shop! She seized Dot as she spoke, and we
soon found ourselves standing outside on the pave,
ment, with no money and no cap.
"Oh, what a dreadful, dreadful woman!" cried
Beth, and wasn't she just as mad as a hatter "
You mean as mad as a capcr," said I; but Beth
was too frightened to see the joke.
In fact we were all half crying by the time we
reached the house. We wondered if Mrs. Bunce
would wear her bonnet all day, and Dot said she
would lend her her pocket handkerchief, and welcome.
But, in any case, we were prepared for a scolding.
Why, where on earth have you been ?" asked
Beth's mother as we slunk into the room. Mrs.
Tibbetts said you hurried off so she couldn't keep up
"Why-ee-" squealed Dot, "Mrs. Polly Ann
Bunce has got her cap on !"
I raised my eyes from the carpet, and lo and be-
hold there sat Mrs. Bunce, and on her head was the
very cap we thought we had left in the cars.
62 MRS. POLLY ANN BUNCE'S BEST CAP.
"Yes; Mrs. Ithamar Tibbetts brought it," said Mrs.
Bunce serenely. '" The day would be spoiled for me
without my cap. She said you children didn't want
the trouble of it, so she brought it herself. I'm sure
I am glad I did not have to wait for it till you got
here, though Lucius's wife said she would lend me a
cap; but, bless me, it was such a smart-looking one,
I should never think of putting it on. Pink ribbons
on vm! Oh !" gasped Grandma Bunce, with a horri-
Beth and I often wonder whether Mrs. Ithamar
Tibbetts brought that cap from Tuckertown, or
whether we left it in the cars and she found it; but,
as near as we could find out, she never told any one
how we ran away from her in the depot at Providence,
nor how near Mrs. Polly Ann Bunce came to losing
And, somehow, we have liked Mrs. Tibbetts a
great deal better since then, and I, for one, have con-
cluded that it is very silly to take a prejudice to a
good, conscientious woman.
IT was a few weeks after we had that adventure
with Mrs. Polly Ann Bunce's best cap, that Aunt
Jane, and Aunt Prue went for a day's shopping to
"I don't see how I can go, and leave those two
children," I had heard Aunt Jane say, the evening
before, when I had gone upstairs, "They are sure to
get into all sorts of mischief."
"Well," answered Aunt Prue, "it don't seem to
me that our being here prevents that," and then
everybody laughed as if it were a good joke, and
Oh, you can go if you wish to. I'll look after
the chicks ; I'll see to 'em."
Yes, grandpa'll see to us," piped up Dot, like a
little goose. I've always noticed it's best not to let
grown people know it, if you wish them to do things.
64 BEING ARTISTIC.
Said Aunt Jane : Yes, you like to have grandpa
see to you, don't you? You know he will let you do
about as you please." Then she went on in her
voice for the grown-up. "The fact is, father, you
haven't any d-i-s-c-i-p-l-i-n-e. (We always spell words
when we don't wish Dot to understand.) I've half a
mind not to stir a step."
Oh dear, I was so afraid; she wouldn't; but I never
let on for a moment that I wanted to have them go.
The next morning was dark and foggy, but cleared
off just in time, and at last I had the joy of seeing
Aunt Jane and Aunt Prue driving off towards the
Now I always like to have the folks away, and no
one round the house to put me out of sorts, but .there
was a particular reason beside that. The fact is, I
had been dying for ever so long to fix up the parlor,
for it was such an ugly, countrified room, and I meant
to make it look real artistic. I knew I could, for I
had been to Gerty Whyte's house, and her sister is
an artist. I had asked Aunt Jane over and over
again to let me do it, but she always said she didn't
believe I could improve it much, and it did well
enough for country folks as it was.
It may have done well enough, but any how it was
dreadfully ugly. The carpet had a great deal of red in
BEING ARTISTIC. 65
it and a centre piece that Dot said looked like a lobster
on a platter.
We were looking at it and wishing Aunt Jane would
buy another, when Beth Hall, whom we had asked to
come and help us, opened the door.
"Well, Mary Jane," she began. "What are you
going to do first."
I'd like to take up this horrid old carpet. Dot,
would you dare to ? "
"Of course she wouldn't, nor you either." And
Beth gave that aggravating laugh of hers.
I would, too, but I shan't, because it's too much
trouble. But let me tell you about Gerty Whyte's
parlor. In the first place, there isn't any carpet at all
on the floor, only rugs-not dowdy old rag rugs ; like
your mother makes-but pretty ones."
I was out of sorts, and it was Beth's fault, because
she laughed. If I hadn't been out of sorts I never
would have said that about her mother's rugs, for I
knew she thought they were beautiful.
"Pooh! I should think you would keep tripping on
them," sniffed Beth. The idea of her sniffing at a
real artist's house.
You most likely would if you are a clumsy bump-
kin," said I. "Then they have didoes on all the
66 BEING ARTISTIC.
Didoes ? Well we can have them even in Tucker-
town. And pray what may didoes be?" giggled
"You needn't laugh, for it just shows your ignor-
ance. Didoes are-well it's the thing that goes round
the wall, pretty near the floor, and the frieze is the
thing at the top."
We had a freeze in all our rooms last January,"
put in Beth. Below zero everywhere, except in
the kitchen. Come, don't spend any more time talking,
Mary Jane ; let's begin to fix up."
Well, let's fix this cabinet first," said I.
"Cabinet!" cried Beth and Dot, in one breath:
" why, that is the whatnot," and Beth went on,--
You needn't look so patronizing, If folks don't
call it a whatnot, they call it an effigy or elegy or
etigy or some French word that means whatnot;
anyhow it isn't a cabinet."
Well, no matter, let's prctcndit's a cabinet and put
china on it, because that's artistic."
I won't," said Beth. It's a whatnot, and nothing
but a whatnot."
It's a cabinet," said I, and not a whatnot at all."
I'll leave it to Dot," cried Beth.
Pooh Dot isn't your sister. I guess she won't
mind you," said I.
BEING ARTISTIC. 67
"Dot Hunt, isn't it a whatnot ? screamed Beth.
Dot looked at Beth and then she looked at me, and
I scowled at her, I can tell you.
"Well," said she, It's a whatnot now; but when
Mary Jane fixes it up, I guess it will be a cabinet."
That's fair," said Beth. Do you agree to that,
I said I did. Let's take the things off this old
whatnot, so we can have our nice new cabinet,"' I
proposed, and then we all went to work.
We put the things in a basket. Daguerrotypes,
shells, the wax pond lily, Parian pitcher, the vases
from the dollar store and all. There was a picture of
Uncle John Jacobs hanging over the fireplace, and I
took it down and hung it at one side with a plate
stuck at one corner, and some feathers out of Aunt
Jane's peacock feather duster, behind. That side of.
the mantle did look ever so much like Gertrude's, and
I said so.
"What did she have at the other end?" asked
" "She had a big brownish jug, sort of a squatty one,
and it was full of sunflowers. The feathers flopped one
way and the sunflowers the other."
"Lots of sunflowers in our cornfield," said Beth.
"Our chickens are artistic, and they like them."
68 BEING ARTISTIC.
Dot said she would run and get some if we only
had a jug.
bean pot, giggled ,.
Beth. Sounds just ,
"It don't, and I
don't care if it does.
"It did look something I 1 1
like a bean-pot, too,
now I think of it.
Well, we can have
that." So I sent Dot -. -
for the sunflowers and
"when they were arranged, Beth confessed that the
mantel-shelf looked very artistic. The cabinet, too,
"was a great success, and I felt encouraged.
was a great success, and I felt encouraged.
BEING ARTISTIC. 69
Gerty's sister had a lot of her pictures tacked up,
sort of careless, on the wall. One was of Venus de
Milo. It was a real queer-looking thing, and I told
Gerty I didn't believe any lady ever looked so bad as
that, but she said it must be right, because.her sister
had drawn it from life. Any how, I think the colored
plates in the old Godey books are prettier, and I
brought a stack of them down from the garret, and we
nailed them round on the walls.
By noon the room was finished, and it looked real
nice. Any how, it looked a good deal like Gerty's.
I found a spinning-wheel upstairs which I put
in the corner near the fireplace. I told Beth I
wished we had something as nice for the other
Why not get the churn," said she, nudging Dot.
But the best of the whole was the dido. I made
it out of the daguerreotypes, for we found a whole
box full up in the garret, besides those that were on
the whatnot. There was grandpa in a queer coat and
the most awfil dickey, and grandma with a pointed
waist and a brooch as big as a platter. There was
Uncle John Jacobs' first wife's children, and grandma's
baby that died in a fit. The queerest was one of
Aunt Jane and Aunt Prue when they were children,
with ringlets and pantalets, and looking scared out of
70 BEING ARTISTIC.
their wits. I would like to see them look scared
now. It was a perfectly splendid dido.
But, though the room looked so nice, I felt very
uncomfortable, and I kept wondering what Aunt Jane
We went in wading in the brook that afternoon;
but I didn't have a good time. Beth and Dot kept
taking sides against me, and then said I was cross.
I didn't have a good time at all.
"I believe you are afraid of your aunt," said
Beth. I guess she'll scold well."
Pooh! I'm not afraid of her, but she is real impo-
lite and disagreeable to me sometimes, I admitted.
"Just think, when I'm visiting here. Once, she said
I was an unregenerate child of sin."
"Goodness," cried Beth, "I wouldn't stand
"It's swearing, isn't it ? said Dot.
"And she made me go to bed at six o'clock one
night." I went on. I guess she was sorry for it
the next morning, for she gave a piece of apple pie
for breakfast; but I wouldn't touch it, and I was
just as dignified as I could be. I wouldn't speak all
day. She said I was sulky ; but that's just her coun-
trified way of expressing herself."
At last, just about sundown, Beth said she must
BEING ARTISTIC. 71
go home. I told her we would walk part of the way
Let's go down and see the stage come in," she
proposed. It will be fun to see the ministers."
Why, what ministers ?" asked I.
"Oh, don't you know, a part of the convention is
coming here from Providence ? I suppose some of the
ministers will come up in the stage."
"Then Aunt Jane and Aunt Prue will come up
with them," said Dot.
So we went down to the village and sat in a row on
Deacon Green's stone wall, which is just opposite the
stage office; and in a few moments we saw the stage
coming up the hill. My, wasn't it full, though! and
besides the stage there were three wagons, all chuck
full of ministers.
Oh there's Dr. Brinnell, from the Centre," cried
Beth. Let's choose ministers. I choose him."
"I choose that fat, jolly one looking out of the
window," said I. He is my minister."
Oh, I choose that cunning little one," screamed
Dot, and so loud that all the ministers heard her and
laughed, and the little one Dot chose, blushed as red
as a beet. Then they got out of the stage, Aunt
Jane and Aunt Prue last of all.
I jumped off the wall then. If we stay here, Aunt
72 BEING ARTISTIC.
Jane will call us and make us go home with her. I
wonder if she will go into the parlor right off," I said,
and after Beth left us I added : "and I wonder if she
will be mad."
Oh my, yes," answered Dot. "'Course she will,
but it wasn't our fault. It was grandpa's, 'cause he
didn't see to us as he promised."
There was a great bustle in the kitchen, getting
supper. Aunt Prue, in her best cap, was making
coffee, and Aunt Jane had not changed her black silk
for her everyday dress. She was so polite to me I
knew at once she had not been in the parlor, and I
was screwing up my courage to tell her what we had
done, when there was a knock at the front door.
There they come," she exclaimed, as Aunt Prue
flew to open it.
"There who comes ?" asked Dot.
Why, Mr. Kipp, and Dr. Jones, and Mr. Holt and
the other ministers whom we invited to stay with us."
I ran out into the hall just in time to see a long
line of black legs filing into the parlor; and as I
peeped through the crack of the door I could plainly
see the smile that passed over each face, while, as true
as you live, Dot's minister was looking out of the
window and giggling.
As for Aunt Prue, she is as blind as a bat without
BEING ARTISTIC. 73
her specs, and never noticed the changes that had
taken place in the room.
But just then, Aunt Jane in her rustling, black silk
came sailing from the dining-room into the parlor.
She began to speak-and stopped.
Her eyes fell upon the bean-pot.
"What under the canopy," said she to Aunt Prue,
"have those children been about ? and then every-
body began to laugh, and Dot, who had followed Aunt
Jane from the kitchen, cried out,-
You needn't laugh, 'cause Mary Jane says its real
I wasn't allowed to go to the tea-table, but in the
evening my minister-the one I had chosen-asked
to see me; and I told him all about Gertrude's house,
and how I had tried to make our parlor as cheerful
and pretty as hers was.
That night I had a dream. I thought I was in the
parlor, and the ministers had gone, and the lights were
out. All at once I noticed that the sunflowers and
the peacock feathers were alive and whispering to-
Said a gossipy old sunflower with her head on one
"Did you ever hear of anything so ridiculous as our
being here in this bcan-pot ? It is plain to be seen
74 BEING ARTISTIC.
that those city children can't tell a sunflower from a
Don't speak of those city children," answered a
peacock's feather, with a shiver. If you lived in the
house with them, you would know how they behave.
As for that Mary Jane, she is a trial to her aunt, I
can tell you. It's all very well to try and make one's
home beautiful; but with a bad heart and selfish na-
ture that is impossible."
"Ah yes, ah yes," murmured the sunflower. It
takes a deal of sunshine to make things beautiful.
I've lived in it all my life and I ought to know."
In the morning, when I told my dream to Aunt
Prue, she said it was the first one she had ever heard
with a moral to it; but Dot declares the sunflower
and peacock's feathers only repeated what my minis-
ter had said, when I told him about Gerty Whyte's
house, and how I had tried to make ours look just
A VISIT TO MARY JANE-FROM THE PEN OF BETH HALL.
WHEN Mary Jane Hunt left Tuckertown last sum-
mer, she invited me to come to the city and make her
If I were sure Mrs. Hunt wanted you, 'Lizbeth,
I would like to have you go," said mother, "for it's
good for young folks to widen their horizon, now and
then, and you would enjoy seeing the sights."
I didn't care anything about my horizon, but I did
want most awfully to see the sights ; but, although I
teased and teased, mother wouldn't let me go.
There was a great church quarrel in Tuckertown
that year, but our folks weren't in it, The trouble
began in the choir, who couldn't agree about the tunes.
On some Sundays the organist wouldn't play, and on
others the singers wouldn't sing. Once, they all
stopped short in the middle of "Greenland's Icy
Mountains," and it was real exciting at church, for
you never knew what might happen before you came
76 A VISIT TO MARY JANE.
out; but folks said it was disgraceful, and I suppose
it was. They complained of the minister because he
didn't put a stop to it; so, at last, he took sides with
the organist, and dismissed the choir, and declared
we would have congregational singing in the future.
'Most everybody thought that would be the end of the
trouble; but, mercy! it was hardly the beginning!
Things grew worse and worse. To begin with, the
congregation wouldn't sing. You see, they had had
a choir so long, people were sort of afraid to let out
their voices ; and, besides, there was Elvira Tucker,
who had studied music in Boston, just ready to make
fun of them if they did. For she was one of the choir,
and they were all as mad as hornets.
In fact, the whole Tucker family were offended.
They said folks didn't appreciate Elvira, nor what she
had done, since she returned from Boston, to raise the
standard in Tuckertown. I don't know, I am sure,
what they meant by that, for I never saw Elvira raise
any standard ; but I do know that they were real mad
with the minister, and lots of people took their side
and called 'emselves "Tuckerites."
You see, the Tuckers stand very high in Tucker-
town, and other people try to be just as like them as
they can. They were first settlers, for one thing, and
have the most money, for another ; and they lay down
FROM THE PEN OF BETH HALL. 77
the law generally. The post-office and the station are
at their end of the village. They decide when the
sewing-societies shall meet, and the fairs take place,
and the strawberry festivals come off. If there is to
be a picnic, they decide when we shall go, and where we
shall go, and just who shall sit in each wagon. If any-
body is sick, Mrs. Tucker visits 'em just as regularly as
the doctor, and she brings grapes and jelly, and is very
kind, .though she always scolds the sick person for not
dieting, or for going without her rubbers, or something
of that sort. If mother had a hand in this story, not a
word of all this would go down. She says they are very
public-spirited people, and that they do a great deal
for Tuckertown. I suppose they do ; but I've heard
other people say that they domineer much more than
The people on the minister's side were called "Anti-
Tuckerites"; but, as I said, our folks weren't in the
quarrel at all. The consequence of being on the fence
was, that I could not join in the fun on either side,
and I think it was real mean. Every now and then,
the Tuckerites would plan some lovely picnic or party,
just so as not to invite the Anti-Tuckerites. Then,
in turn, they would get up an excursion, and not invite
any of the Tuckerites. Of course, I wasn't invited
to either, and it was just as provoking as it could be.
78 A VISIT TO MARY JANE.
One day, when I went to school, I found that Elvira
Tucker was going to train a choir of children to take
the place of the old choir.
I went over to call on Elvira last evening," I
heard Miss Green tell our school-teacher, and I
found her at the piano, playing for little Nell to sing.
It was just at dusk, and they did not see me; so I
stood and listened, and wondered why we couldn't
have a choir of children instead of the congregational
singing, Elvira said she thought it would be lovely."
Now, I had been to singing-school for two winters,
and the singing master said I had a good voice; so
I thought I ought to belong to the choir.
You can't, 'cause only Tuckerites are going to be-
long," said 'Melia Stone. And your folks are just
on the fence. They aren't one thing or another."
I couldn't stand being left out of all the fun any
longer, so I said: I'm as much a Tuckerite as any-
body, only our folks don't approve of making so much
trouble about a small affair."
"I want to know!" said Abby Ann Curtiss.
" Well, if that's so, I'll ask Miss Elvira if you can't
Mercy me! I had jumped from the fence and
found myself a Tuckerite I was sure mother would
be real mad if she knew what I had said, for I sus-
FROM THE PEN OF BETH HALL. 79
pected in my heart of hearts that, if she had jumped
from the fence, she would have landed on the minis-
ter's side. I made up my mind that I would not tell
her what had passed, for maybe, after all, Miss Elvira
would decide that I was no real Tuckerite. But the
very next day she sent word to me by Abby Ann,
that she would like to have me join the choir.
I told mother that I was wanted in the children's
choir because I had a good voice, and I never said
a word about being a Tuckerite.
"A children's choir," said she. That's a real
good idea. Beautiful!"
She never suspected how I was deceiving her.
Well, we had real fun, practising. That week we
learned a chant and two hymns.
One day Mrs. Green came in.
How does she happen to be here ?-" I heard her
ask Elvira, with a significant look at me.
"Oh, she has a real good voice," answered Miss
Elvira, laughing. Most of the children who can
sing are on the other side. Besides, from something
she said to Abby Ann, I think at heart the Halls
sympathize with us."
What would my folks have said to that ? I felt half
sick of the whole affair, and went home, and teased
mother to let me go to the city and visit Mary Jane.
80 A VISIT TO MARY JANE.
I shall never forget the Sunday I sang in the choir;
Miss Elvira played for us on the organ, for when the
real organist heard that only the Tuckerite children
were to belong to it, she refused to play. Everybody
seemed surprised to see me in it, and even Dr. Scott
looked at me in a mournful sort of a way, as if he
thought the Halls had gone over to the enemy. What
troubled me most, though, was the look mother gave
me when she first realized that the choir was formed
only of the Tuckerites, and that she had not found it
But, in spite of all this, I enjoyed the singing. We
sat, long rows of us, in the singers' seats up in the
gallery. After the hymn was given out and we stood
up, Miss Elvira nodded to me and whispered: "Now,
don't be afraid, girls ; sing as loud as you can."
Mercy, how we did sing Twice as loud as the
grown-up choir. Luella Howe said, afterwards, that
we looked as if we were trying to swallow the meet-
But I never sang but just that once in the choir,
for the next Sunday I spent with Mary Jane, in Bos-
The way it happened was this. That night mother
sent me to bed right after supper, as a punishment
for not telling her about the choir before I joined it;
_. i A> -.-
J^I Q' !I
"erc l w i ss l Ir
"i Mercy hew we did sing --Twice as lo~ud as the grown-up choir."--Page 82.
FROM THE PEN OF BETH HALL. 83
and as I undressed, she had a great deal to say about
the defects in my character. She talked to me a long
time and went downstairs, at last,' without kissing
me good-night. I was thinking what a miserable
sinner I must be, and trying to cry about it, when I
heard her go into the sitting-room and say to father,
who was reading his paper there,-
I've just put 'Lizbeth to bed; but I don't know
as4he is so much to blame, after all. If grown peo-
ple act in such a way, you can't expect much of the
children. I declare, I wish I could send her away
from Tuckertown till this choir business is settled."
Well," says father, why don't you let her go and
see Hunt's girl? You know she invited her, and
Lizbeth wants to go."
Oh no," says mother. They have so much sick-
ness, there. I'm afraid she would be in the way." And
she ended her sentence by shutting the door with a
I got right up and sat on the stairs for a long time,
to see if they would say anything more about my visit-
ing Mary Jane, but they didn't. Father began to
talk of the black heifer he had just bought, and then
about the Presidential campaign and several other un-
important things like that. Not a word about me.
But I began early the next morning, and teased
84 A VISIT TO MARY JANE.
steadily to go and visit Mary Jane. Finally, Tuesday
morning, mother said I might write Mary Jane, that if
it were perfectly agreeable to her mother, Iwould now
make them the promised visit, and, if I heard nothing
to the contrary from them, would start on Friday in
the early train for Boston.
Well, Tuesday passed, and Wednesday came, and
Thursday came, and at last-at last Friday came, and
no letter from Mary Jane. My trunk was all packed.
I took my best dress and my second best dress, and
most of the everyday ones, and mother lent me her
hair jewelry. I had my shade hat, and my common
one, and my too-good hat (that last is one I've had for
years-ever so many years-fully two years, I guess)
and it's always too good to wear anywhere, and that's
why it lasts so long. At the last, mother declared she
was sorry she had ever consented to let me go, for
she was afraid Mrs Hunt didn't like to write that my
coming would be inconvenient. She declared that I
ought to have written that I would go if I heard that
it would be agreeable. I had fifty frights that morn-
ingbefore I was finally put in Deacon Green's care in
the cars ; for he, too, was going to Boston that day.
He promised my mother that, if no one was at the
depot for me, he would put me in a carriage, so that I
should get safely to Mrs Hunt's house.
FROM THE PEN OF BETI HALL. 85
I was real mad to have him tag along-it would
have been such fun to travel alone, and I did hope,
when he stood so long on the platform talking to
father, the cars would go off without him; but he
jumped on just as they were starting. However, when
we finally got to Boston, and I found that nobody was
waiting for me there, I was glad enough to have him
I must say, as I rode along in the carriage, I thought
it was real queer for no one to come to meet me; but
the city was so interesting I had forgotten about it by
the time we stopped at the Hunt's door. The house
had a kind of shut-up look, and I felt queer for a
moment, as I thought, perhaps they were all away
from home; but, just then, Mary Jane flew down the
steps, and Dot came squealing behind her.
"Now, you just hush! said Mary Jane to her, af-
ter she had kissed me. You wake up Lucy, and see
what you'll get." (She is always awfully domineering
to Dot, Mary Jane is.)
"Why, what's the matter with Lucy ?" I asked.
"Why is she asleep in the day-time ?"
Why, she is sick," said Mary Jane.
"Oh, awful sick! cried Dot.
Tisn't catching, though ; so come right in, Beth.'
added Mary Jane, and in we went.
86 A VISIT TO MARY JANE.
She had the hackman carry my trunk up into her
room, and she went up behind him all the way, order-
ing him to be quiet, and slapping Dot, and holding up
her finger at me, and making more noise herself than
all the rest of us put together.
You see, I have to take care of everything," she
said, when we were up at last. Mother has to stay
with Lucy all the time, and Dot is so thoughtless.
But, what have you got in your trunk? "
Yes, why don't you unpack? asked Dot.
It took me some time to get to the bottom of my
trunk, but I showed them everything that was in it.
After that, Mary Jane said she must go and see about
tea. When we got downstairs we found the table
Why! there's no preserves on it," said Mary Jane
to Bridget, who tossed her head, and answered,-
Your ma didn't order any, and I won't open 'em
without her telling me."
Oh, my cried Mary Jane; "you are very
particular just now, aren't you ? You don't mind so
much when your aunt's stepmother's cousin comes."
Bridget turned as red as a beet. Now, jist you
take yourselves out of my kitchen said she, and, as
true as you live, she shut the door right in my face !
"Hateful old thing cried Mary Jane. Well,
FROM THE PEN OF BETH HALL. 87
never mind, I'm going to the china-closet to get some.
But, which do you like best, peach preserves or rasp-
berry jam ?"
Peach preserves, o'course," answered Dot. Every-
I don't see why Dot had to say that. It was just
enough, and I knew it would be, to make Mary Jane
take the jam. When we went back to the dining-
room, we found Susan (that's the nurse) had come in
with the baby.
Here, Mary Jane," said she; "your ma said you
were to take care of Baby while I'm upstairs."
Mary Jane looked as cross as two sticks. Oh,
bother! I can't! I have Dot to take care of, and
Beth and the house, and everything. Bridget ought
to do that."
But just then Mr. Hunt came down. He looked
real worried, but he spoke to me just as kind, and
asked after the Tuckertown folks. I tried to tell him
about the singing affair, but he didn't seem to take
much interest, and soon went upstairs again.
"He hasn't eaten any of his supper," said Dot.
" I'm going to give his jam to Baby."
The Baby had been sitting in a high chair up to the
table, and hadn't had a thing but a piece of graham
cracker to eat. I thought he was real good.
88 A VISIT TO MARY JANE.
te can't have any jam. Here! give it to me,"
said Mary Jane. I'll eat it."
Of course, at that he banged his cracker on the floor,
and began to cry for the jam. But Mary Jane didn't
take the slightest notice of him. She went on eating
the jam as calmly as if he was asleep in his cradle.
Dot had been sent out on an errand, so I tried to
amuse him; but he was afraid of me, and screamed
louder than before.
"Don't pay any attention to him," said Mary Jane.
"I'm going to break him of screaming so much. I
always longed to break him of it, and at last I've got
a chance. When he finds no one takes any notice of
him, he'll stop it, I guess."
While he was screaming, Mrs. Hunt came down.
She had on her wrapper, and her hair was just bobbed
up, and she looked as if she hadn't slept for a
Mary Jane, why don't you amuse him ?" she said,
after she had shaken hands with me, and had taken
Baby in her arms. You know that the noise dis-
turbs Lucy, and yet you '11 let him cry."
It's too bad," said I. I would amuse him, only
he is afraid of me."
"Why, I'll amuse him, of course," said Mary Jane.
So her mother went upstairs again, and we had
FROM THE PEN OF BETH HALL. 89
that child on our hands till seven o'clock, when Susan
came and took him to bed.
The next morning I told Mary Jane that I thought
I ought to go home.
"Oh no !" she begged. You are here, and you
might as well stay, and Lucy will be better soon."
"Oh," said Dot, "don't go! You can help us take
care of Baby, you know."
"I don't see how I can be in your mother's way
when I hardly ever see her," said I. Besides, it would
be real mean to leave you while you are in trouble."
So I decided to stay.
I should have had a splendid time of it, had it not
been for the baby ; but we never began any interest-
ing play, but Susan would come and leave him with us,
and then he always had to be amused. I never saw
such a child-never quiet a moment. They said it
was because he was so bright. If I ever have a child,
I hope it will be one of the stupid kind, that will sit
on the floor and suck its thumb all day.
He was particularly in the way when we went to
see the sights. We went to the State-house and the
Art Museum, and one day Mary Jane showed me a
place where they were having a baby show.
Mercy said Mary Jane, who would ever want
to go to that ?"
90 A VISIT TO MARY JANE.
"Lots o' people are going in, anyhow," said Dot.
We had started on, but all at once Mary Jane
stopped short. "'Liz'beth," said she, I'll tell you
what. Let's take Baby to the baby show. I mean
to exhibit him, and p'raps he'll take a prize, and we
will have the money."
Wasn't it a splendid idea ? The trouble was, we
didn't know how to get in. At last, Mary Jane told
the ticket-master what we wanted, and he sent forthe
"And so you want to put this little chap in the
show," said he. How old is he?"
Mary Jane told him.
"Well, he is a whopper," said the man.
"Is it too late for him to get the prize?" we
Oh, he won't stand so good a chance as if he had
come at first. You see, the babies are all numbered
and each person, when he goes out of the show, gives
the number of the baby he thinks is the finest, and
the one that has the most votes, so to speak, gets the
prize. Those folks that came yesterday, you see,
haven't voted for your baby; but then you'll have part
of to-day and to-morrow."
"Why, will we have to stay all the time ?" asked
FROM THE PEN OF BETH HALL. 91
No, you can take him out when you choose; but
the more he is here the more votes he'll get."
Well, if there's a prize for the baby that can cry
loudest, he'll get it," said Dot.
But they didn't give any prize for that.
We gave Baby's name and address to the manager,
who then took us in to the show. His number was
three hundred and twelve, and a paper telling his age
"and number of teeth, and so on, was tacked over the
little booth where we sat.
"There were lots of people in the room, but when
any one came near our baby he cried.
I do believe he won't get a single vote," said Mary
Jane, in despair. But somebody gave him some
candy, and that pacified him for a while, and ever so
many person s said he was the finest child in the show.
We were so encouraged, we planned just how we
would spend the money, and we stayed till dinner-
time, when Mary Jane thought we ought to go home.
cady ad ha pciie hmZ) 0 Z:>an eers
92 A VISIT TO MARY JANE.
Mrs. Hunt was real pleased that we had kept him
out so long. It was a pleasant day, she said, and the
air would do him good.
"We will take him out again this afternoon," said
When we went back, Baby was so tired he went to
sleep in Dot's lap. They looked awful cunning, and
everybody raved over them; but we had to promise
Dot everything under the sun to keep her quiet.
Lucy was worse that night, and the next morning
Mrs. Hunt sent us right out after breakfast. We
stayed at the show all day, but the baby wasn't good
a bit. He screamed and kicked, and looked, oh, so
red and ugly We had to send Dot for some candy
for him, and we felt worried and uncomfortable.
The doctor's carriage was at the door when we
went home at last, and Mr. Hunt was walking up and
down in the parlor. He called Mary Jane and Dot
in, and I went upstairs, for Susan said the postman
had left a letter for me. I thought it was from
mother; but it was a printed thing from the Dead-
letter Office, saying that a letter for me was detained
there for want of postage. It had been sent to Tuck-
ertown, and the postmaster had forwarded it to
Boston. I had spent all my money, except just
enough to buy my ticket home; but I thought I
FROM THE PEN OF BETH HALL. 93
would take out enough for the stamps, and borrow six
cents from Mrs. Hunt. I went out right off and
mailed my letter, with the stamps, so as to get the
other letter that was in the Dead-letter Office. When
I came back I found Mary Jane crying in the hall.
Lucy was worse, and the doctor had given her up.
And I have always been so cross to her," sobbed
Yes, so you have put in Susan, who was coming
downstairs with a tray. I hope you'll remember
now to be kinder to Dot and the baby."
But they are so healthy," she sniffed. Well she
seemed to feel real bad, and it's no wonder, for Lucy
is a darling. I couldn't help crying myself.
That night poor little three hundred and twelve
was taken sick. Mr. Hunt and the doctor came to
our room to ask what we had given him to eat, and
when we told them of the candy (we didn't dare say
a word about the show) they were angry enough.
I sha'n't forget that night, in a hurry. I didn't think
it would ever come to an end, and we both lay and
cried till the sun shone into our window in the morn-
ing, when Susan came to tell us that Lucy was sleep-
ing beautifully, and was going to get well after all.
After breakfast, we went into Mrs. Hunt's room,
which was next to the nursery, where Lucy lay, and
94 A VISIT TO MARY JANE.
she took us all in her arms-there was room for me,
too,-and we just cried with joy together.
The baby had got all over his colic, and Mary Jane
and I had just concluded we had better tell her mother
where we had taken him, when a letter came for Mrs.
It was a notice that number three hundred and
twelve had taken the third prize at the baby show.
It could not have come at a better time for us, for
how could she scold, with Lucy coming back to life,
as it were, after those dreadful hours of suspense and
suffering? But I know she did scold Mary Jane
afterward; for, of course, it was not right to keep the
baby in that stuffy place, when she thought he was out
in the fresh air ; but that was after I went home,
which happened a few days later.
And what do you think Just as the carriage came
to take me to the depot, the postman left a sealed en-
velope from the Dead-letter Office. I opened it as the
cars started, and, while I was travelling home, I read
the very letter Mrs Hunt had written in answer to
the one I wrote her, to tell her I was about to visit
them in Boston. And in that letter she had asked me
to postpone my visit till some later date, on account
of the illness of little Lucy.
BRIDGET had given warning. She was going away.
Said she to my mother,-
I haven't the word of fault to be finding' wid ye,
Mis' Hunt. Yer as pleasant a lady as iver I lived
with, niver complaining' an frettin'; an' the twins be
rale swate little girls, an' the baby's a darlin.' But,
savin' yer presence, mem, I can't get along no ways
wid Mary Jane, she's that troublesome, mem."
"Yes," said mother, I know she is rather trying;
Tryin'," cut in Bridget, tryin'-an' is that what
ye name it ? Shure she's a little imp, that's what she
is, an' no girl will put up wid her worrying ways. An'
say's I to Susan last night, I'll be givin' Mis' Hunt
warning' to-morrow, an' put the door between us this
"There, Mary Jane," cried mother, as Miss Bridget
flounced out of the room, "that is the third cook you
have driven away."
Well Bridget went, and we had no cook and mother
had to do the work. One day she fainted away and
fell right down on the floor in the dining-room, just as
we were sitting down to dinner. Oh my, wasn't I
scared that time, though But she soon got over it
and ate her dinner with the rest of us.
Father said her nervous system was worn out, and
he hoped we children did not give her trouble; and
he looked at me; but I was eating my dinner, and pre-
tended I didn't see him.
I felt real sorry about Bridget after mother fainted,
and wanted to do something to help her. So I offered
to make some fruit cake while she dusted the parlor,
and told Susan I would iron mother's fluted wrapper
while she took Baby out for a walk.
Mother had engaged a cook before Bridget left, to
take her place ; but she never came, and another one
disappointed us after that. It was then I decided
that I would go and get one myself.
Why," said Dot, to whom I confided what I was
going to do. "You don't know how."
Oh my, what a goose you are! why, I shall go to
the Intelligence Office, of course."
Let me go, too," begged Dot.
I thought she might as well go, and that very after-
noon we went. On the way there I asked Dot if she
thought we had better get a Catholic girl.
Oh no," said she. I do not like them, for they
burn insects to their church."
I suppose she meant incense.
We found there were a great many different girls
at the Intelligence Office to choose from, and I told
the man in charge there, that I had come to engage a*
What wages do you give ?" he asked, and the girls
began to giggle.
Oh my," cried Dot, "you don't know, do you,
Of course I do. We give three dollars a month."
"Oh my," said Dot, see 'em all toss their heads."
"I guess you mean three dollars a week," put in
the Intelligence man.
I thought I did.
Well," said he, you sit down, and I will send one
here to talk with you."
So Dot and I sat down and watched him go from
one to another. When he spoke to them they all
shook their heads, and one said very loud,-
"No, sir, I don't care to try. I ain't going to any
place where they have children." And another said, A
quare sort of a lady as would send a bit child like
that to engage a gurrell." But by and by he found
one that thought she might try it. '
How many in the family," said she, as she sat
down on the bench opposite us.
Well, there's my father "-I began, when she in-
terrupted me by asking,-
How many shirts does he wear the week ? "
Oh, I don't know," said I, "just as many as you
want him to."
Can you make nice rich cake ?" asked Dot.
But I hushed her. Then said I to the girl.
Why did you leave your last place ?"
"Well, t'was at the shore, miss, an I thought the
sea air was too embracin' for me."
"Are you good-natured ? I asked next.
Do you drink ? put in Dot.
"Do you take the sugar home to your mother ? "
"Oh, my sakes," burst out Dot, how mad you do
Mad! I should think so. She jumped right up,
I wouldn't live with the likes of yez at no price,"
and flounced off, Dot crying after her,-
"We wouldn't have you, if you'd come for nothing,
for you can't make nice rich cake."
Well, I talked with lots of them after that, but they
none of them wanted to live where there were so
many children in the family.
So they won't any of them suit," said the man,
leaning on my chair. How would you like a colored
Oh, I don't believe my mother would want a
colored girl," said I. "We've never had them."
"Then I think you had better try one. The best
families all have colored help, nowadays. Here Sally."
Dot nudged me as the colored girl came up, and
said in a loud whisper, I like her, Mary Jane, let's
She did look real pleasant,
"Can you make pies ? I asked.
Lor' yes chile. I'se fuss-rate cook."
"There's five in the family," said Dot, "and most
of them are children."
I likes chillens, they's company fur me."
Do you like them round in the kitchen ?" said I,
"and have you got a character ? and do you drink ? "
Lor's, how you talk now, course I don't."
"Well, you are engaged," said I. When can you
She said she would come right away-just as soon
as she got her bundle. So Dot and I went home with
her, for I wouldn't wait for her at the corner as she
wished, for fear she wouldn't come back.
'Tisn't anything at all to get a girl," said I to Dot,
as we all walked home. I don't believe one word
about it being so hard to keep house. I know I could
do it. And I would never go a whole week without
a cook when there are whole Intelligence Offices full
of 'em. Won't mother be pleased when she sees we
have got one for her."
Well," said Dot, with a sidelong glance at Sally,
"she's black, you know. But it isn't her fault, is it ?
and, besides, the man says she is a treasure."
The first person we saw when we got home was
Susan. She was sweeping down the stairs in the
hall, and opened the door for us.
The minute I saw her, I knew just how it would be.
She would make a fuss. Susan is an American girl,
and says she is as good as anybody, and she thinks
she is a great deal better. A respectable American
girl. That's what she calls herself.
"Well, who have you been picking up now, I should
like to know ? said she, with a real disagreeable look
at our treasure. "What do.you want, youngwoman ?"
Get out of the way, Susan," said I. "Where's
"Your mother is lying down on the sofy, And
your pa is with her, and you just let her have moment's
peace. As for this young colored person, she can
jiust tramp off."