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- Two Little Women on a Holiday - 2/37 -
"Mr. Forbes will tell you. Listen."
"It's this way, my dear people," began Mr. Forbes. He was a man with an impressive manner, and it seemed as if he were about to make a speech of grave importance, as, indeed, from the girls' point of view, he was. "My brother Jefferson, who lives in New York, has invited my daughter to spend a week in his home there. He has asked also another niece, Miss Alicia Steele. He wants these girl visitors to bring with them two friends, and as Alicia does not wish to avail herself of that privilege, Bernice may take two with her. She wants to take Dotty and Dolly. There, that's the whole story in a nutshell. The question is, may Dolly go?"
"When is this visit to be made?" asked Mrs. Fayre.
"As soon as convenient for all concerned. My brother would like the girls to come some day next week, and remain one week."
"What about school?" and Mrs. Fayre looked decidedly disapproving of the plan.
"That's just it!" exclaimed Dotty. "We knew you'd say that! But, Mrs. Fayre, my mother says this is the chance of a lifetime,--almost,--and we ought, we really OUGHT to take advantage of it."
"But to be out of school for a whole week,--and what with getting ready and getting home and settled again, it would mean more than a week--"
"But, mother, we could make up our lessons," pleaded Dolly, "and I DO want to go! oh, I do want to go, just AWFULLY!"
"I should think you would," put in Trudy. "Let her go, mother, it'll be an education in itself,--the visit will. Why, the girls can go to the museums and art galleries and see all sorts of things."
"Of course we can," said Bernice, "and my uncle has a beautiful house and motor cars and everything!"
"That's another point," said Mr. Fayre, gravely. "You must realise, Mr. Forbes, that my little girl is not accustomed to grandeur and wealth. I don't want her to enjoy it so much that she will come back discontented with her own plain home."
"Oh, nonsense, my dear sir! A glimpse of city life and a taste of frivolity will do your girl good. Dolly is too sensible a sort to be a prey to envy or discontent. I know Dolly fairly well, and I can vouch for her common sense!"
"So can I," said Bernice. "Doll will enjoy everything to the limit, but it won't hurt her disposition or upset her happiness to see the sights of the city for a short time. Oh, please, Mr. Fayre, do let her go."
"Just as her mother thinks," and Mr. Fayre smiled at the insistent Bernice.
"Tell me of the household," said Mrs. Fayre. "Is your brother's wife living?"
"Jeff has never been married," replied Mr. Forbes. "He is an elderly bachelor, and, I think is a bit lonely, now and then. But he is also a little eccentric. He desires no company, usually. It is most extraordinary that he should ask these girls. But I think he wants to see his two nieces, and he fears he cannot entertain them pleasantly unless they have other companions of their own age."
"And who would look after the girls?"
"Mrs. Berry, my brother's housekeeper. She is a fine noble-hearted and competent woman, who has kept his house for years. I know her, and I am perfectly willing to trust Bernice to her care. She will chaperon the young people, for I doubt if my brother will go to many places with them. But he will want them to have the best possible time, and will give them all the pleasure possible."
"That part of it is all right, then," smiled Mrs. Fayre; "it is, to my mind, only the loss of more than a week of the school work that presents the insuperable objection."
"Oh, don't say insuperable," urged Mr. Forbes. "Can't you bring yourself to permit that loss? As Dolly says, the girls can make up their lessons."
"They can--but will they?"
"I will, mother," cried Dolly; "I promise you I will study each day while I'm in New York. Then I can recite out of school hours after I get back, and I'll get my marks all the same."
"But, Dolly dear, you can't study while you are in New York. There would be too much to distract you and occupy your time."
"Oh, no, Mrs. Fayre," observed Bernice, "we couldn't be all the time sightseeing. I think it would be fine for all us girls to study every day, and keep up our lessons that way."
"It sounds well, my dear child," and Mrs. Fayre looked doubtfully at Bernice, "and I daresay you mean to do it, but I can't think you could keep it up. The very spirit of your life there would be all against study."
"I agree with that," said Mr. Forbes, decidedly. "I vote for the girls having an entire holiday. Lessons each day would spoil all their fun."
"They couldn't do it," Trudy said. "I know, however much they tried, they just COULDN'T study in that atmosphere."
"Why not?" asked Bernice. "We're not young ladies, like you, Trudy. We won't be going to parties, and such things. We can only go to the shops and the exhibitions and for motor rides in the park and such things. We could study evenings, I'm sure."
"It isn't only the lessons," Mrs. Fayre said; "but I can't feel quite willing to let my little girl go away for a week without me." Her pleasant smile at Mr. Forbes robbed the words of any reflection they might seem to cast on his brother's invitation. "I'm sure Mrs. Berry would do all that is necessary in the way of a chaperon's duties, but these girls are pretty young even for that. They need a parent's oversight."
Mrs. Fayre was about to say a mother's oversight, when she remembered that Bernice had no mother, and changed the words accordingly.
There was some further discussion, and then Mrs. Fayre said she must have a little time alone to make up her mind. She knew that if Dolly did not go, Maisie May would be asked in her place, but she still felt undecided. She asked for only an hour or two to think it over, and promised to telephone directly after dinner, and tell Mr. Forbes her final decision. This was the only concession she would make. If not acceptable then her answer must be no.
"Please do not judge my wife too harshly," said Mr. Fayre as he accompanied Mr. Forbes and Bernice to the door. "She still looks upon Dolly as her baby, and scarcely lets her out of her sight."
"That's all right," returned Mr. Forbes. "She's the right sort of a mother for the girl. I hope she will decide to let Dolly go, but if not, I quite understand her hesitancy, and I respect and admire her for it. Bernice can take somebody else, and I trust you will not try over hard to influence Mrs. Fayre in Dolly's favour. If anything untoward should happen, I should never forgive myself. I would far rather the children were disappointed than to have Mrs. Fayre persuaded against her better judgment."
The Forbeses departed, and then Dotty Rose went home, too.
"Oh, Dollyrinda," she whispered as they stood in the hall, "do you s'pose your mother'll EVER say yes?"
"I don't believe so," replied Dolly mournfully. "But, oh, Dot, how I do want to go! Seems 'sif I never wanted anything so much in all my life!"
"You don't want to go a bit more than I want to have you. Why, Dollops, I shan't go, if you don't."
"Oh, yes, you will, Dotty. You must. It would be silly not to."
"But I couldn't! I just COULDN'T. Do you s'pose I could have one single bit of fun going to places without you? And knowing you were here at home, longing to be with us! No-sir-ee! I just couldn't pos- SIB-ly! So just you remember that, old girl; no Dolly,--no Dotty! And that's SURE!"
There was a ring in Dotty's voice that proclaimed an unshakable determination, and Dolly knew it. She knew that no coaxing of Bernice or even of Dolly herself, could make Dotty go without her chum.
For chums these two were, in the deepest sense of the word. They were together all that was possible during their waking hours. They studied together, worked and played together, and occupied together their little house, built for them, and called Treasure House.
Dolly knew she couldn't enjoy going anywhere without Dotty, and she knew Dot felt the same way about her. But this was such a big, splendid opportunity, that she hated to have Dotty miss it, even if she couldn't go herself. The two girls said good-night, and Dolly went back to her family in the library.
"I hate terribly to disappoint you, Dolly darling," began her mother, and the tears welled up in Dolly's blue eyes. This beginning meant a negative decision, that was self evident, but Dolly Fayre was plucky by nature and she was not the sort that whines at disappointment.
"All right," she said, striving to be cheerful, and blinking her eyes quickly to keep those tears back.
"Now, look here, Edith," said Mr. Fayre, "I don't believe I can stand this. I don't differ with you regarding the children, but I do think you might let Dolly go on this party. Even if it does take a week out of school, she'll get enough general information and experience from a week in the city to make up."
"That's just it, Will. But the experiences she gets there may not be the best possible for a little girl of fifteen."
"Oh, fifteen isn't an absolute baby. Remember, dear, Dolly is going to grow up some day, and she's getting started."
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