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- Half a Dozen Girls - 40/45 -
have just what we wanted," suggested Alan, from the step.
"All right, only do come in under cover, child," said Polly, in a maternal tone; "or else you'll be so stiff to-morrow that you can't move." And she tucked up the skirt of her best gown, to make room for the lad, who obediently settled himself between her and Katharine.
"Go it, Jean," he said; "you started us to wishing, so it's only fair you should speak first. What would you do, if you could have your choice?"
"Study, till I knew everything there was to be known," returned Jean, without hesitation. "I'd go to college here, and then I'd go to Europe, to one city after another, and learn all I could in each."
"You'd be a perfect valley of dry bones, then," commented Polly. "People that know everything are very stupid."
"I wouldn't be," said Jean. "I'd found colleges with my money, and go round lecturing to them, till they knew just as much as I did."
"H'm!" said Alan. "What will you do, Poll?" Polly laughed.
"It would be hard to choose, but I think I'd begin by adopting about twenty small boys. Then, if I had any time left, I'd--I'd-- oh, I think perhaps I'd like to write a book of poems."
"Good for you, Poll! How I envy the boys, only you'd make them all into doctors. Molly?"
"I would travel, all over the whole world, and down into Australia," returned Molly. "I'd go to Russia and Spain and China and the Nile, and stay everywhere just as long as I wanted to."
"Who wouldn't like to do that?" said Jean. "Katharine, what will you do?"
"I'd have a lovely house somewhere in Europe, Venice, perhaps, or else Paris, and it should be full of magnificent pictures. And then I'd have my friends come and stay with me for a year at a time; and I'd have young artists come and live there, and give them lessons,--not teach them, you know, but pay for them, to give them a start, when they couldn't afford it. And when they had learned to paint and were ready to go home, I'd pay their expenses for a year, till they were able to support themselves. And then I'd help poor students through college, and do ever so many things like that."
"Katharine, you are modest in your plans!" said Molly, laughing. "How much of an income do you expect to have?"
"I didn't know we were limited," Katharine answered. "I thought we could have whatever we wished."
"That was the idea," said Alan. "Go on, Jessie; what would you do if you had all the money in the world?"
"Just what I intend to do now," she replied coolly, "be a doctor."
"What!" And Molly stared at her cousin with wide-open eyes.
"Yes, I think that's what I mean to do," answered Jessie. "I believe I should rather like it, and if I can tease mamma into letting me try, I'm coming East again, in a few years, to study."
"Well, you must be in want of something to do," said Molly, "if you have any idea of patching up broken bones and getting yourself exposed to small-pox and all sorts of fevers. But go on, Alan; it's your turn."
"Let's see," said Alan reflectively; "first of all, I'd get over my rheumatism, and then, for a few years, I'd be the very best base-ball player in the world. Then, after I was too old for that, I'd travel round a little while, and then I'd settle down and be-- "
Polly listened breathlessly for the decision.
"Be what?" she asked eagerly.
"Oh, Alan, how mean of you!" protested Jessie. "Here we've all been and told our wishes as truly as we could, and now you are just making fun of us. That isn't fair."
"Isn't it?" And Alan laughed teasingly. "How do you know I haven't told truly? But, to be honest, I think I'd go into partnership with either Polly or you. I'd like to be a first-class doctor, or else a great author."
"Poems?" inquired Polly sympathetically.
"Poems! No; nor novels either, nor any such trash as that," returned the boy scornfully. "I'd write great, long books with real solid work in them, history, or else some kind of science, books that wouldn't be forgotten just as soon as they were read, but ones that would help the world along by making people know more and more, the more they studied them."
"I wonder if we shall any of us ever get what we want," said Jean thoughtfully." Jessie stands the best chance."
"You wouldn't say so, if you knew mamma as well as Kit and I do," returned Jessie, laughing. "I shan't have an easy time, when I try to persuade her to let me carry out my plan. She wouldn't be any more horrified if I wanted to be a farmer and plant my own potatoes."
"What will Florence be, I wonder," said Polly. "It would have to be something very pretty and dainty, or it would never suit her."
"Florence? Her future is all cut out," said Jean. "Didn't Mrs. Hapgood tell it, last Hallowe'en, a devoted husband and a beautiful home? She'll have everything she can possibly want, and she'll keep it all in apple pie order, and she and her husband will do nothing but bill and coo all day long."
"I don't believe it," said Molly, laughing at the sentimental picture which Jean had called up. "I think Florence has more to her than all that."
"What more can she want?" asked Katharine. "If she is a perfect wife in a happy home, there isn't anything much better for any woman."
"But it's getting dark, and I must go," said Polly, as she rose. "Come, Jean; mamma will think I am lost. Good night, girls."
In spite of their assurances that they were not at all timid, Alan insisted on going with the girls; so they stopped to speak to Mrs. Adams, then walked on together as far as Jean's gate, where they lingered, talking, for a minute or two.
"Come in now, Alan," said Polly, as they reached her house again; "it's early, really, and Jerusalem's out there on the piazza, all alone. You know she always likes to see you."
Alan hesitated for a moment, but the last fading light of the warm June day was too tempting, and he went in. Mrs. Adams rose from her piazza chair to meet them, and stepped forward into the faint light which shone out through the closely drawn shade of the parlor window.
"Yes, it is pleasant out here," she answered Polly; "but if you children are going to sit outside, you must have some wraps, for it is quite cool. Polly dear, just run in to get a shawl to put on, and bring the afghan to tuck around Alan. It's on the parlor sofa."
Polly vanished through the open door. When she came back, she was laughing.
"Why didn't you tell me they were in there, Jerusalem?" she asked, as she tossed the afghan to Alan, and then settled herself on a sweet-grass mat at her mother's feet. "Aunt Jane is reading aloud a report of something or other, and Mr. Baxter looks so bored. He yawned like a chasm when I went in."
"Perhaps you disturbed him in the middle of a nap," suggested Alan.
"Maybe I did. I don't blame him for getting sleepy," responded Polly pityingly. "It all seemed to be about convict labor and penal servitude and such things. I shouldn't wonder if something was the matter in Russia."
Then they were silent, watching the lazy shadows from the full moon creep over the lawn, till there came a footstep on the walk and a voice called,--
"So you are all making the most of the moonlight, are you?"
"Oh, Papa Adams!" exclaimed Polly joyfully. "Home so early?"
"Yes," answered the doctor, as he dropped into the chair next Alan; "and I'm going to play all the rest of the evening. How comes on our future doctor?"
"Doctor!" echoed Polly. "He said to-night that he'd rather be an undertaker than anything else."
"Why, how's that?" said the doctor, laughing. "It isn't a week since Polly told me you were going to follow in my footsteps."
"Oh, Polly has doctor on the brain, just now," answered the boy. "She's started up Jessie on the subject, and they do nothing but talk of pills and skeletons. To-night we were discussing what we'd like best to do, and the girls had such wild plans that I thought I'd bring them down to earth again."
"If you can't make better puns than that, don't try to make any, Alan," said Polly severely. "But our plans weren't wild a bit; we only said just what we would do, if we had all the money in the world."
"And what was the decision," asked the doctor; "cooking and sewing, or society belles?"
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