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- Half a Dozen Girls - 1/45 -


HALF A DOZEN GIRLS

by

ANNA CHAPIN RAY

TO MY PARENTS

I OFFER THESE MEMORIES OF A HAPPY, NAUGHTY CHILDHOOD.

My fairest child, I have no song to give you; No lark could pipe to skies so dull and gray: Yet, ere we part, one lesson I can leave you For every day.

"Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever; Do noble things, not dream them, all day long: And so make life, death, and that vast forever One grand, sweet song."

CHARLES KINGSLEY.

CONTENTS.

I. THE ADAMS FAMILY

II. THE V

III. THE GIRLS TRY TO IMPROVE THEIR MINDS

IV. MISS BEAN COMES TO LUNCH

V. TWO MORE GIRLS

VI. POLLY ENCOUNTERS THE SERVANT QUESTION

VII. POLLY'S HOUSEKEEPING

VIII. HALLOWEEN

IX. THE NEW READING CLUB

X. POLLY'S POEM

XI. JEAN'S CHRISTMAS EVE

XII. HALF A DOZEN COOKS

XIII. ALAN AND POLLY HAVE A DRESS REHEARSAL

XIV. POLLY'S DARK DAY

XV. THE PLAY

XVI. JOB GOES TO A FUNERAL

XVII. MISS BEAN'S VISIT IS RETURNED

XVIII. MR. BAXTER TAKES A NAP

XIX. KATHARINE'S CALL

XX. ONE LAST GLIMPSE

CHAPTER I.

THE ADAMS FAMILY.

"'There was a little girl, And she had a little curl, And it hung right down over her forehead; And when she was good, She was very, very good, And when she was bad, _she was horrid_!'"

"And that's you!" chanted Polly Adams in a vigorous crescendo, as she watched the retreating figure of her guest. Then climbing down from her perch on the front gate, she added to herself, "Mean old thing! I s'pose she thinks I care because she's gone home; but I'm glad of it, so there!" And with an emphatic shake of her curly head, she ran into the house.

Up-stairs, in the large front room, sat her mother and her aunt, busy with their sewing. The blinds were closed, to keep out the warm sun of a sultry July day, and only an occasional breath of air found its way in between their tightly turned slats. The whir of the locust outside, and the regular creak, creak of Aunt Jane's tall rocking-chair were the only sounds to break the stillness. This peaceful scene was ruthlessly disturbed by Polly, who came flying into the room and dropped into a chair at her mother's side.

"Oh, how warm you are here!" she exclaimed, as she pushed back the short red-gold hair that curled in little, soft rings about her forehead.

"Little girls that will run on such a day as this must expect to be warm," remarked Aunt Jane sedately, while she measured a hem with a bit of paper notched to show the proper width. "Now if you and Molly would bring your patchwork up here, and sew quietly with your mother and me, you would be quite cool and comfortable."

"Patchwork!" echoed Polly, with a scornful little laugh. "Girls don't sew patchwork nowadays, Aunt Jane."

"It would be better for them if they did, then," returned Aunt Jane severely. "It is a much more useful way of spending one's time, than embroidering nonsensical red wheels and flowers and birds on your aprons, as you have been doing. Your grandmother used to make us sew patchwork; and before I was your age, I had pieced up three bedquilts,--one rising-sun, one fox-chase, and the other just plain boxes."

"I don't care," Polly interrupted saucily; "I never could see the use of cutting up yards and yards of calico, just for the sake of sewing it together again. Wouldn't you rather have me make you a pretty apron, Jerusalem?" And she leaned over to pat her mother's cheek affectionately, as she added, "And besides, Molly's gone home."

"Has she?" asked Mrs. Adams, in some surprise. "I thought she was going to spend the day."

Polly blushed a little.

"So she was," she admitted at length; "but she changed her mind."

Mrs. Adams looked at her little daughter inquiringly for a moment, and seemed about to speak, but catching the eye of Aunt Jane, who was watching them sharply, she only said,--

"I am sorry; for I wanted to send a pattern to Mrs. Hapgood, when she went home, and now I shall have to wait."

"I'll take it over now, mamma; I'd just as soon." And Polly jumped up and caught her sailor hat from the table where she had tossed it.

"I should like to have you, if you will, Polly. It is in my room, and I'll get it for you."

She put down her work and went out into the hall, followed by Polly.

"Have you and Molly been quarrelling again?" she asked, when the door had closed between them and Aunt Jane.

"Only a little bit, mamma," confessed Polly. "Molly was teasing me all the time, and at last I was mad, so I said I wished she'd go home, and she went right straight off."

"I am sorry my daughter should be so rude to her company," began Mrs. Adams soberly.

"So'm I," interrupted Polly; "I don't mean to; but she makes me cross, and before I know it I flare up. I wish she hadn't gone, too; for we promised to go over to see Florence this afternoon, and she'll think it is queer if we don't."

"I wish you would try to be a little more patient, Polly," said her mother. "You mustn't be cross every time that Molly laughs at you; and you answered Aunt Jane very rudely just now. You need to watch that tongue of yours, my dear, and not let it run away with you. And now take this to Mrs. Hapgood, and tell her she will need to allow a good large seam when she cuts it, for Molly is taller than you."

"Yes'm," said Polly meekly, as she held up her face for the kiss, without which she never left the house.

Then she slowly went down the stairs, and out at the door, thinking over what her mother had just said to her, and resolving, as she did at least twice every day, that she would never, never quarrel with Molly again. But not in vain had Mrs. Adams devoted the past thirteen years to watching her only child, and she understood Polly's present mood well enough to call to her from the window,--

"You'd better bring Molly back to lunch, I think. We're going to have raspberry shortcake, and you know she likes that."

And Polly looked up, with a brightening face, to answer,--

"All right."

Then, in spite of the warm day, she went hurrying off down the


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