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- Marjorie's Vacation - 9/34 -
Why Are you away? We weep and cry All through the day.
"Oh, come back quick, Dear Mopsy Mop! Then each small chick Will gayly hop.
"We'll chirp with glee, No more we'll weep; Each chickadee Will loudly peep."
"Well, that's certainly fine, Midget, for such little chickens. If it were the old hen, now, I wouldn't be so surprised, for I see her scratching on the ground every day. I suppose she's practising her writing lesson, but I never yet have been able to read the queer marks she makes. But these little yellow chickadees write plainly enough, and I do think they are wonderfully clever."
"Yes, and isn't it funny that they can rhyme so well, too?"
"It is, indeed. I always said those Plymouth Rocks were the smartest chickens of all, but I never suspected they could write poetry."
"And now, Uncle, I've only one left." Marjorie looked regretfully at the last letter, wishing there were a dozen more. "But I can keep them and read them over and over again, I like them so much. I'd answer them, but I don't believe those animals read as well as they write."
"No," said Uncle Steve, wagging his head sagely, "I don't believe they do. Well, read your last one, Mops, and let's see who wrote it."
"Why, Uncle, it's from the dogs! It's signed 'Nero and Tray and Rover'! Weren't they just darling to write to me! I believe I miss the dogs more than anything else, because I can have Puffy up here with me."
Marjorie paused long enough to cuddle the little heap of grey fur that lay on the counterpane beside her, and then proceeded to read the letter:
"Dear Mopsy Midget, We're in a fidget, Because we cannot find you; We want to know How you could go And leave your dogs behind you!
"We bark and howl, And snarl and yowl, And growl the whole day long; You are not here, And, Mopsy dear, We fear there's something wrong!
"We haven't heard; Oh, send us word Whatever is the matter! Oh, hurry up And cheer each pup With laughter and gay chatter."
"That's a very nice letter," said Marjorie, as she folded it up and returned it to its envelope. "And I do think the animals at Haslemere are the most intelligent I have ever known. Uncle, I'm going to send these letters all down home for King and Kitty to read, and then they can send them back to me, for I'm going to keep them all my life."
"I'll tell you a better plan than that, Midget. If you want the children to read them, I'll make copies of them for you to send home. And then I'll tell you what you might do, if you like. When I go downtown I'll buy you a great big scrapbook, and then you can paste these letters in, and as the summer goes on, you can paste in all sorts of things; pressed leaves or flowers, pictures and letters, and souvenirs of all sorts. Won't that be nice?"
"Uncle Steve, it will be perfectly lovely! You do have the splendidest ideas! Will you get the book to-morrow?"
"Yes, Miss Impatience, I will."
And that night, Marjorie fell asleep while thinking of all the lovely things she could collect to put in the book, which Uncle Steve had told her she must call her Memory Book.
The days of Marjorie's imprisonment went by pleasantly enough. Every morning Molly would come over, and they played with their paper-doll houses. These houses continually grew in size and beauty. Each girl added a second book, which represented grounds and gardens. There were fountains, and flowerbeds and trees and shrubs, which they cut from florists' catalogues; other pages were barns and stables, and chicken-coops, all filled with most beautiful specimens of the animals that belonged in them. There were vegetable gardens and grape arbors and greenhouses, for Uncle Steve had become so interested in this game that he brought the children wonderful additions to their collections.
It was quite as much fun to arrange the houses and grounds as it was to play with them, and each new idea was hailed with shrieks of delight.
Molly often grew so excited that she upset the paste-pot, and her scraps and cuttings flew far and wide, but good-natured Jane was always ready to clear up after the children. Jane had been with Mrs. Sherwood for many years, and Marjorie was her favorite of all the grandchildren, and she was never too tired to wait upon her. She, too, hunted up old books and papers that might contain some contributions to the paper-doll houses. But afternoons were always devoted to rest, until four or five o'clock, when Uncle Steve came to pay his daily visit.
One afternoon he came in with a fresh budget of letters.
"Letters!" exclaimed Marjorie. "Goody! I haven't had any letters for two days. Please give them to me, Uncle, and please give me a paper-cutter."
"Midge," said Uncle Steve, "if you think these are letters, you're very much mistaken. They're not."
"What are they, then?" asked Marjorie, greatly mystified, for they certainly looked like letters, and were sealed and stamped.
"As I've often told you, it's a good plan to open them and see."
Laughing in anticipation at what she knew must be some new joke of Uncle Steve's, Marjorie cut the envelopes open.
The first contained, instead of a sheet of paper, a small slip, on which was written:
"If you think this a letter, you're much mistook; It's only a promise of a New Book!"
"Well," said Marjorie, "that's just as good as a letter, for if you promise me a book, I know I'll get it. Oh, Uncle, you are such a duck! Now I'll read the next one."
The next one was a similar slip, and said:
"This isn't a letter, though like one it seems; It's only a promise of Chocolate Creams!"
"Oh!" cried Marjorie, ecstatically, "this is just too much fun for anything! Do you mean real chocolate creams, Uncle?"
"Oh, these are only promises. Very likely they don't mean anything."
"YOUR promises do; you've never broken one yet. Now I'll read another:
"This isn't a letter, dear Marjorie Mops, It's only a promise of Peppermint Drops!"
"Every one is nicer than the last! And now for the very last one of all!"
Marjorie cut open the fourth envelope, and read:
"Dear Mopsy Midget, this isn't a letter; It's only a promise of something much better!"
"Why, it doesn't say what!" exclaimed Midge, but even as she spoke, Jane came into the room bringing a tray.
She set it on the table at Marjorie's bedside, and Marjorie gave a scream of delight when she saw a cut-glass bowl heaped high with pink ice cream.
"Oh, Uncle Steve!" she cried, "the ice cream is the 'something better,' I know it is, and those other parcels are the other three promises! Can I open them now?"
Almost without waiting for her question to be answered, Marjorie tore off papers and strings, and found, as she fully expected, a box of chocolate creams, a box of peppermint drops, and a lovely new story book.
Then Grandma came in to their tea party and they all ate the ice cream, and Marjorie declared it was the loveliest afternoon tea she had ever attended.
Even Puff was allowed to have a small saucer of the ice cream, for
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