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- Half a Dozen Girls - 45/45 -
"I told you so," she said triumphantly. "And one from Mrs. Adams, too! Which shall I take first? None of them are very long."
"Begin with Molly," said Jessie, settling herself comfortably to listen while her sister read,-
"DEAR KATHARINE AND JESSIE,--I haven't any idea who owes the other a letter, but I am getting so homesick for you that I shall write to you anyway. It isn't that I have much to say, for it does seem as if nothing had happened since you left here. I wrote you, didn't I, that the Langs have all gone abroad for a year? Only half of us left here, now! I miss Florence, and I rather envy her; but, after all, my first journey is going to be to Omaha. Jean and Polly and I are here, just the same as ever, only Jean is getting dignified and doesn't walk fences, any longer. But you have no idea how proud we are of Polly. She had the dearest little poem in the school paper last month; and this month she is to be editor, the first time a girl has ever done it. She and Alan are writing, too. They came in and found out what I was doing, so they said they were each going to put in a note. I don't think it is quite fair, for I know they will tell you all the news.
"You ought to have seen the new clothes Florence had, before she went away. I went there once to see them, and it was like a whole dry-goods store. She sent for Bridget, one day, and gave her ever so many of her old things, to be made over for the children; and Bridget went off hugging the great bundle and crying because she was 'afraid Miss Florence would get drownded on the way.'
"Polly has just showed me what she has been writing about Aunt Jane. I do wish you could be here for the wedding. I think Job almost ought to march in the bridal party, for he helped Mr. Baxter to get ready for a second marriage.
"Mrs. Adams has just come in, and wants my pen to write a little note while she waits for mamma to get ready to go out with her, so I'm not going to write another single word till I hear from you. Answer this soon, like dear girls. Mamma would send love, if she knew I was writing.
"Your loving cousin,
"That's short enough, I should think," said Jessie ungratefully. "My last letter to her was two whole sheets long."
"Nevermind," answered Katharine; "let's see what Mrs. Adams says. Isn't it good of her to write?"
"My DEAR GIRLS,--This is only a little note to tuck inside Molly's letter; but I did just want to say how glad I am to hear of the way my two girls are doing the work that has come to them. I am proud of them and happy in them, for they both seem almost like my own daughters.
"And this brings me to my new plan. It occurred to me, the other day, that we shall be a very lonely, forlorn pair of old people, when Polly goes off to college. Why wouldn't it be a good idea for Jessie to plan to come back to us then, and take Polly's place for the four years, bring a little young life into the home, and study medicine with the doctor while she does it. It is too soon, of course, to decide; but I want you both to be thinking about it, for it seems to me an excellent idea.
"And now I must run away and make a call with Aunt Ruth.
"With a great deal of love from
"Oh-h-h!" And Jessie gave a sigh of rapture.
"Yes, it is lovely of her, and just like her," said Katharine; "and I don't see why you can't go. But now let's take Alan's letter. It will be sure to be a good one, even if it is short. Listen I"
"DEAR KIT,--Is it six months or six years since you went home? We are all in the dumps without you, and don't have anybody to pull us out. How comes on your housekeeping? Molly made some biscuits, last night, that were so hard we had to get hammers to crack them open, before we could put on any butter. I told her she'd better send one to you girls, for a curiosity, but she said they were so heavy that she couldn't afford to pay postage on them.
"Did you know Poll and I are taking Latin lessons together of Professor Smythe? We go to him twice a week, and have been at it a month, now. We're racing each other as hard as we can. First she asks for a longer lesson, just to tease me, then I return the compliment, and neither of us will give in, so it keeps us studying all the time, mostly. We don't care much, for nothing seems to be happening, this year. We must have used up all the fun, last winter. You and Jessie are gone, Florence is gone, Bridget is gone, Aunt Jane is going, and the rest of us will follow her pretty soon, unless Molly gives up trying to cook.
"By the way, Miss Bean--Polly says I shan't tell, but I'm going to--asked Mrs. Adams, the other day, how she made that oyster broth she had for first course, the day Polly gave her dinner. She thought the lumps were oysters.
"That's all for this time.
"ALAN O. HAPGOOD."
"P.S. I entirely forgot to send my love to Jessie."
"Saucy boy!" exclaimed Jessie, laughing.
"Isn't he an imp?" said Katharine, as she folded the letter. "He made up all that about Miss Bean, I know, for she didn't take any soup that day. I remember her refusing it. Do you remember--"
"Do you remember?" echoed Jessie mockingly. "I wonder how many times we have said that, Kit. As if we didn't both of us remember every single thing that happened through all the year we were East! What does Polly say?"
"Hers is longer," said Katharine, as she opened it. "She is the best of them all to write, and her letters sound just like her funny, topsy-turvy self."
"DEAR GIRLS,--First of all, I must tell you the one grand item of news. Aunt Jane is going to be married on Thanksgiving Day. The Baxter children have all been exposed to chicken-pox, and Aunt Jane has made up her mind to be married at once, so she can take care of them when they come down with it. Isn't it good of her, really? I don't think she minds much, though, for she acts fond of them. _Uncle Sol_, as I call him behind his back, brought the youngest here, one day early in the fall; and when I went into the room, there,--fancy it!--there sat Aunt Jane with the baby in her lap, playing pat-a-cake with it, just as nice as could be. I was so surprised that I almost dropped down on the floor. But she insists on being married in black silk, she says it will be so serviceable. I think it will look just as if she were in mourning for the first Mrs. Baxter. Alan says that if the children all have chicken-pox, they won't need to buy a turkey for Thanksgiving.
"Papa wants me to tell you that Bridget keeps just as well and strong as can be. He drove up there to see her, two or three weeks ago, and she asked all about yon both. I go to the hospital once in a while, to see the small boys, and I make Alan go with me whenever I can. He has cut me all out with Dicky, and the child won't have anything to say to me, when he can get Alan. You would hardly know Alan, he has grown so tall; and we think he is getting quite good-looking, too. Of course, he is always a duck.
"Molly and I are growing good. We haven't had a squabble since Florence went away. I suppose, now she can't get anybody else, she has to put up with me. She has just three ideas in her head at present: cooking, some singing lessons she is going to begin next month, and her new gown. I suppose she would say I'm envious, for my new gown this winter is one of mamma's made over.
"Miss Bean came to spend the day, last week. She appeared early, for she said she wanted time to look over all Aunt Jane's new things, 'seeing's how' she made the match. She did look them over, too, and asked what everything cost, and why she didn't have something else, and then she gave her any quantity of advice about how to bring up the children.
"I almost forgot to tell you anything about Job. He ran away, the other day, going up a hill. A bee lighted on the side of his neck and stung him, and it astonished him so that he just started off and ran. for almost a quarter of a mile. Then, all of a sudden, he sat down with all four legs at once, and that stopped him. Poor fellow, he is getting so old!
"What a long letter I am writing! The others are through, and waiting for me to carry this to the mail. Alan is making such a noise that I can't hear myself write. He is singing:
"'Do the work that's nearest, Though it's dull at whiles, Helping, when we meet them, Lame dogs over stiles.'
"I don't know whether he means us with Job, or Aunt Jane with the Baxter babies, or you with the housekeeping. Perhaps it is for all three. Anyway, it is good advice.
"Now I must stop. Oh, you dear girls, how I do want to see you! Papa and Jerusalem always send love. I could go on for ever so much longer, but at last I must say good by.
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