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- Marjorie's Vacation - 30/34 -


impatience of the smaller children, but apparently with little success.

"Now our duty's done, and well done," said Uncle Steve, gayly; "and now we'll go for our justly-earned reward. You chickadees may each select your favorite flavor of ice cream and then we'll get a goodly portion of each, with a fair share thrown in for Grandma and myself."

The result was a very large-sized wooden tub, which they managed to stow away in the carriage somehow, and then they drove rapidly homeward that they might enjoy their little feast in Marjorie's porch.

CHAPTER XIX

THE OLD WELL

During August the weather became excessively hot. Grandma Sherwood managed to keep the house cool by careful adjustment of awnings, blinds, and screens, but out-of-doors it was stifling.

Midge and Molly did not mind the heat much, and played out of doors all day, but Stella wilted under the sun's direct rays, and usually her mother kept her indoors until the late afternoon.

But one day the intense heat became almost too much even for the other two little girls. They had been romping in the barn, and finally sat down in the hay, very red-faced and warm.

"What can we do," said Molly, "to get cooler?"

"Let's go down by the river," said Marjorie; "it must be cooler by the water."

"Not a bit of it. The sun's too bright down there. Let's walk in the woods."

"The woods are so hot; there isn't a bit of breeze in there."

In sheer idleness of spirit the girls got up and wandered aimlessly about. Going down through the garden and across the chicken-yard, they paused a moment by the old well to get a drink.

As they turned the windlass and drew up a full bucket of water, while the empty one went down, Molly was seized with an inspiration.

"Mopsy Midget!" she exclaimed. "I'll tell you the very thing! Let's go down the well, and get cooled off!"

"How can we?" said Marjorie, who was quite ready to go, but couldn't see her way clear as to the means of transportation.

"Why, as easy as anything! You go down in one bucket, and I'll go down in the other."

"We can't get in these buckets."

"Of course not, goosey; but we can get our feet in, and then stand up, and hold on by the chain."

"We can't get our feet in flat, the buckets aren't wide enough. "As she spoke, Marjorie stood on one foot and examined the sole of her other shoe, which was certainly longer than the diameter of the bucket.

"Oh, don't fuss so! We can stand on our toes a little bit. Come on--I'll go first."

"All right," and Marjorie began to enter into the spirit of the thing; "there can't be any danger, because Carter said the water was low in the well."

"Yes, all the wells are low just now--it's such dry weather. But, anyway, we won't go down as far as the water. Now listen: I'll get in this bucket and start down. You pull the other one up, and when you get it up here, pour out the water and get in yourself, and then come on down. But don't let my bucket go all the way down, because I don't want to go into the water. Put a stick through the chain when I holler up for you to do so."

"All right; hop in, it will be lots of fun, and we'll surely get cooled off."

So, while the bucket stood on the flat stones of the well-curb, Molly stepped in and wound her thin little arms around the chain.

"Push me off," she said to Marjorie, "and hang on to the other side of the chain so I won't go too fast."

"Yes, but who's going to push me off when I go down?"

"Oh, you can wriggle yourself off. Here, don't push me, I'll push off myself and show you how."

Grasping the other chain and partly supporting herself by that means, Molly, with her feet in the bucket, wriggled and pushed until the bucket went off the edge of the curb and began to slide down the well. The other bucket came up from under the water with a splash, and as both girls held the upcoming chain, Molly did not go down too fast.

"It's great!" she exclaimed, as she went slowly down. "It's perfectly lovely! It's as cold as an ice-box and the stones are all green and mossy. Look out now, Mops, I'm coming to the other bucket."

The two buckets bumped together, and Molly grabbed at the other one as it passed.

"Now, look out, Mopsy," she said, "I'm going to let go of this other bucket and then I'll only have my own chain to hang on to, so you manage it right and stick the stick through the chain when I tell you to."

The plan worked pretty well, except that it was not easy for Marjorie to keep the water-filled bucket back to balance Molly's weight. It required all her strength to pull on the upcoming chain, and she was glad, indeed, when Molly told her to push the stick in.

A stout stick pushed through a link of chain held the windlass firmly, and as Marjorie lifted the bucket full of water up on to the curb, rash little Molly swung daringly deep in the well below.

"It's awfully queer," she called up, "and I don't like it very much so low down. Gracious, Marjorie, you spilled that water all over me!"

For Marjorie had thoughtlessly emptied the water from the bucket back into the well instead of pouring it out on the ground, and though Molly's bucket swung to one side of the well, yet the child was pretty well splashed with the falling water.

But undaunted by trifles of that sort, Molly proceeded gayly to give her orders. "Now, Midget," she went on, "if your bucket's empty, set it near the edge, and get in and come on down."

Though not as absolutely reckless as Molly, Midget was daring enough, and, placing the empty bucket on the very edge of the curb, she put her feet in, and, standing on her toes with her heels against the side of the bucket, she wound her arms about the chain as Molly had done, and twisted about until the bucket fell off the edge.

Had the girls been more nearly of equal weight, their plan would have worked better; but as Marjorie was so much heavier than Molly, the laws of gravitation claimed her, and she went swiftly down.

The instant that she started, Molly realized this, and her quick wits told her that, unless stopped, Marjorie's bucket would dive deep into the water.

It was a critical situation, and had it not been for Molly's presence of mind a tragedy might have resulted. As it was, she bravely grasped at Marjorie as she passed her; and with a sudden bump, as the two buckets hit together and then fell apart, Molly clutched at Marjorie, and the buckets paused side by side, while the girls shivered and shook, partly with fear and partly with fun.

"What are we going to do?" said Molly. "If I let go of you, you'll go smash into the water, and I'll fly up to the top!"

"Keep hold of me, then," replied Midget, who had a wonderful power of adapting herself to a situation.

And so the two girls, each with one hand grasping a bucket chain and their other hands tightly clasped, stood face to face half-way down the old well.

"I don't think this is such an awfully nice place," said Marjorie, looking round at the slimy green walls which shone wet in the semi-darkness.

"Well, it's cool," retorted Molly, who was shivering in her wet clothing.

"Of course it's cool, but my feet ache, standing on my toes so long. I wonder if I couldn't sit down on the side of the bucket."

"Don't try!" exclaimed Molly, in alarm. "You'll keel over and upset us both into the water!"

"You said the water wasn't deep; perhaps it's only up to our knees; that wouldn't hurt us."

"Yes, and perhaps it's over our heads! I don't know how deep it is, I'm sure; but I must say it looks deep."

The girls peered downward and saw only a black, shining surface, with a shadowy reflection of themselves.

"Well, I've had enough of it," said Marjorie; "now, how are we


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