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- Marjorie's Vacation - 10/34 -
she was a very dainty kitten, and her table manners were quite those of polite society.
But the next afternoon Uncle Steve was obliged to go to town, and Marjorie felt quite disconsolate at the loss of the jolly afternoon hour.
But kind-hearted Grandma planned a pleasure for her, and told her she would invite both Stella Martin and Molly to come to tea with Marjorie from four till five.
Marjorie had not seen Stella since the day they came up together on the train, and the little girls were glad to meet again. Stella and Molly were about as different as two children could be, for while Molly was headstrong, energetic, and mischievous, Stella was timid, quiet, and demure.
Both Marjorie and Molly were very quick in their actions, but Stella was naturally slow and deliberate. When they played games, Stella took as long to make her move as Molly and Midge together. This made them a little impatient, but Stella only opened her big blue eyes in wonder and said, "I can't do things any faster." So they soon tired of playing games, and showed Stella their paper- dolls' houses. Here they were the surprised ones, for Stella was an adept at paper dolls and knew how to draw and cut out lovely dolls, and told Marjorie that if she had a paintbox she could paint them.
"I wish you would come over some other day, Stella, and do it," said Midge; "for I know Uncle Steve will get me a paint-box if I ask him to, and a lot of brushes, and then we can all paint. Oh, we'll have lots of fun, won't we?"
"Yes, thank you," said Stella, sedately.
Marjorie giggled outright. "It seems so funny," she said, by way of explanation, "to have you say 'yes, thank you' to us children; I only say it to grown people; don't you, Molly?"
"I don't say it at all," confessed Molly; "I mean to, but I 'most always forget. It's awful hard for me to remember manners. But it seems to come natural to Stella."
Stella looked at her, but said nothing. She was a very quiet child, and somehow she exasperated Marjorie. Perhaps she would not have done so had they all been out of doors, playing together, but she sat on a chair by Marjorie's bedside with her hands folded in her lap, and her whole attitude so prim that Marjorie couldn't help thinking to herself that she'd like to stick a pin in her. Of course she wouldn't have done it, really, but Marjorie had a riotous vein of mischief in her, and had little use for excessive quietness of demeanor, except when the company of grown-ups demanded it.
But Stella seemed not at all conscious that her conduct was different from the others, and she smiled mildly at their rollicking fun, and agreed quietly to their eager enthusiasms.
At last Jane came in with the tea-tray, and the sight of the crackers and milk, the strawberries and little cakes, created a pleasant diversion.
Stella sat still in her chair, while Marjorie braced herself up on her pillows, and Molly, who was sitting on the bed, bounced up and down with glee.
Marjorie was getting much better now, so that she could sit upright and preside over the feast. She served the strawberries for her guests, and poured milk for them from the glass pitcher.
Molly and Marjorie enjoyed the good things, as they always enjoyed everything, but Stella seemed indifferent even to the delights of strawberries and cream.
She sat holding a plate in one hand, and a glass of milk in the other, and showed about as much animation as a marble statue. Even her glance was roving out of the window, and somehow the whole effect of the child was too much for Marjorie's spirit of mischief.
Suddenly, and in a loud voice, she said to Stella, "BOO!"
This, in itself, was not frightful, but coming so unexpectedly it startled Stella, and she involuntarily jumped, and her glass and plate fell to the floor with a crash; and strawberries, cakes, and milk fell in a scattered and somewhat unpleasant disarray.
Marjorie was horrified at what she had done, but Stella's face, as she viewed the catastrophe, was so comical that Marjorie went off into peals of laughter. Molly joined in this, and the two girls laughed until the bed shook.
Frightened and nervous at the whole affair, Stella began to cry. And curiously enough, Stella's method of weeping was as noisy as her usual manner was quiet. She cried with such loud, heart- rending sobs that the other girls were frightened into quietness again, until they caught sight of Stella's open mouth and tightly- closed but streaming eyes, when hilarity overtook them again.
Into this distracting scene, came Grandma. She stood looking in amazement at the three children and the debris on the floor.
At first Mrs. Sherwood naturally thought it an accident due to Stella's carelessness, but Marjorie instantly confessed.
"It's my fault, Grandma," she said; "I scared Stella, and she couldn't help dropping her things."
"You are a naughty girl, Mischief," said Grandma, as she tried to comfort the weeping Stella. "I thought you would at least be polite to your little guests, or I shouldn't have given you this tea party."
"I'm awfully sorry," said Marjorie, contritely; "please forgive me, Stella, but honestly I didn't think it would scare you so. What would YOU do, Molly, if I said 'boo' to you?"
"I'd say 'boo yourself'!" returned Molly, promptly.
"I know you would," said Marjorie, "but you see Stella's different, and I ought to have remembered the difference. Don't cry, Stella; truly I'm sorry! Don't cry, and I'll give you my--my paper-doll's house."
This was generous on Marjorie's part, for just then her paper- doll's house was her dearest treasure.
But Stella rose to the occasion.
"I w-wont t-take it," she said, still sobbing, though trying hard to control herself; "it wasn't your fault, Marjorie; I oughtn't to have been so silly as to be scared b-because you said b-boo!"
By this time Jane had removed all evidences of the accident, and except for a few stains on Stella's frock, everything was in order.
But Stella, though she had quite forgiven Marjorie, was upset by the whole affair, and wanted to go home.
So Grandma declared she would take the child home herself and apologize to Mrs. Martin for Marjorie's rudeness.
"It was rude, Marjorie," she said, as she went away; "and I think Molly must go home now, and leave you to do a little thinking about your conduct to your other guest."
So Marjorie was left alone to think, and half an hour later Grandma returned.
"That was a naughty trick, Marjorie, and I think you ought to be punished for it."
"But, Grandma," argued Miss Mischief, "I wasn't disobedient; you never told me not to say boo to anybody."
"But I told you, dear, that you must use your common-sense; and you must have known that to startle Stella by a sudden scream at her was enough to make her drop whatever she was holding."
"Grandma, I 'spect I was mischievous; but truly, she did look so stiff and pudgy, I just HAD to make her jump."
"I know what you mean, Midge; and you have a natural love of mischief, but you must try to overcome it. I want you to grow up polite and kind, and remember those two words mean almost exactly the same thing. You knew it wasn't kind to make Stella jump, even if it hadn't caused her to upset things."
"No, I know it wasn't, Grandma, and I'm sorry now. But I'll tell you what: whenever Stella comes over here again, I'll try to be SPECIALLY kind to her, to make up for saying boo!"
Great was the rejoicing of the whole household when at last Marjorie was able to come downstairs once more.
Uncle Steve assisted her down. He didn't carry her, for he said she was far too much of a heavyweight for any such performance as that, but he supported her on one side, and with a banister rail on the other she managed beautifully.
And, anyway, her ankle was just about as well as ever. The doctor had not allowed the active child to come downstairs until there was little if any danger that an imprudence on her part might injure her again.
It was Saturday afternoon, and though she could not be allowed to walk about the place until the following week, yet Uncle Steve took her for a long, lovely drive behind Ned and Dick, and then brought her back to another jolly little surprise.
This was found in a certain sheltered corner of one of the long
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