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- Two Little Women on a Holiday - 4/37 -
"I thought the housekeeper would," said Mrs. Rose.
"I don't know at all, mother. It seems Bernie has never visited there before, though she has been to the house. Her uncle is queer, and why he wants his two nieces all of a sudden, and his two nieces' friends, nobody knows. It's sort of mysterious, I think."
"Well, it's all right, as long as you're properly invited. It seems strange Bernie's cousin didn't care to take a friend."
"Yes; I wonder what she's like. Bernice hasn't seen her since they were little girls. She lives out in Iowa, I think. She's at school in Connecticut somewhere. It's all sort of unknown. But I like that part of it. I love new experiences."
"I always do too, Dot," said her father. "I reckon when you come home, you'll have lots to tell us."
"New York isn't so strange to me," said Dotty. "I've been there a lot of times, you know. But to go and stay in a house there,--that's the fun. It's so different from going in for a day's shopping with mother. Or the day we all went to the Hippodrome."
"You'll probably go to the Hippodrome again, or some such entertainment," suggested Mrs. Rose.
"I dunno. I imagine the old gentleman doesn't favour such gaiety. And the housekeeper lady will likely be too busy to do much for us. We can't go anywhere alone, can we?"
"I don't know," replied Mrs. Rose. "You must be guided by circumstances, Dotty. Whatever Mr. Forbes and Mrs. Berry say for you to do, will be all right. Make as little trouble as you can, and do as you're told. You'll have fun enough, just being with the girls."
"Indeed I will! Oh, I'm so glad Dolly can go. I wouldn't have stirred a step without her!"
"No, I know you wouldn't," agreed her mother.
Next day at school recess, Bernice showed the girls a letter she had received from Alicia.
"You know I haven't seen her in years," Bernice said; "I think she must be more grown up than we are, though she's only just sixteen."
"Dearest Bernice:" the letter ran.
"Isn't it simply screaming that we're to camp out at Uncle Jeff's! I'm wildly excited over it! Do you know why he has asked us? I'm not sure, myself, but I know there's a reason, and it's a secret. I heard aunt and father talking about it when I was home at Christmas time, but when I drifted into the room, they shut up like clams. However, we'll have one gay old time! Think of being in New York a whole week! I don't want to take any of the girls from here, for fear they'd bring back tales. Don't you bring anybody you can't trust. Oh, I've laid lots of plans, but I won't tell you about them till I see you. Bring all your best clothes, and ask your father for quite a lot of money, though I suppose Uncle Jeff will give us some. I can scarcely wait for the time to come!
"Devotedly yours, "ALICIA."
"What does she mean by a secret reason for your going?" asked Dolly.
"I haven't an idea," replied Bernice. "My father knows, though, I'm quite sure, 'cause he smiled at that part of Alicia's letter. But he wouldn't tell me. He only said, 'Oh, pshaw, nothing of any consequence. It's very natural that a lonely old bachelor uncle should want to see his little girl nieces, and it's very kind and thoughtful of him to ask you to bring friends.' He says Uncle Jeff is not fond of company, and spends all his time by himself. He's a scientist or naturalist or something, and works in his study all day. So, dad says, it'll be fine for us girls to have four of us to be company for each other."
"It's gorgeous!" sighed Dotty, in an ecstasy of anticipation. "But what does your cousin mean by bringing a lot of money? We can't do that,--and our parents don't let us spend much money ourselves, anyway."
"Oh, that'll be all right," said Bernice, carelessly. "We won't need much money. And if we go to matinees, or anything like that, of course, I'll pay, if Uncle Jeff doesn't. You two girls are my guests, you know. You needn't take any money at all."
"All right," said Dolly, and dismissed the subject. Money did not figure very largely in her affairs, as, except for a small allowance for trifles, she never handled any. Nor did Dotty, as these two were still looked upon as children by their parents.
But motherless Bernice bought her own clothes and paid her own bills; and so generous was her father, that there was no stint, and as a consequence, she too, cared and thought little about money as a consideration.
"I'm a little scared of that Alicia person," said Dolly to Dotty as they walked home from school.
"Pooh! I'm not. She's no richer than Bernie."
"It isn't that. I'm not afraid of rich people. But she seems so grown up and--well, experienced."
"Well, sixteen is grown up. And we're getting there, Dolly. I shall put up my hair while I'm in New York."
"Why, Dot Rose! Really?"
"Yes, that is if Alicia does. Bernice often does, you know."
"I know it. I'll ask mother if I may."
"Goodness, Dolly, can't you decide a thing like that for yourself? What would your mother care?"
"I'd rather ask her," returned the conscientious Dolly.
Mrs. Fayre smiled when Dolly put the question. "I've been expecting that," she said. "You'd better do as the others do, dear. If they twist up their pigtails, you do the same."
"I'll show you how," offered Trudy. "If you're going to do it, you may as well learn a becoming fashion."
So Trudy taught her little sister how to coil up her yellow, curly mop in a correct fashion, and very becoming it was to Dolly.
But it made her look a year or two older than she was.
"Oh!" exclaimed her mother, when she saw her, "Where's my baby? I've lost my little girl!"
"Just as well," said Dolly, delighted at her achievement and pirouetting before a mirror. "it's time I began to be a little grown up, mother."
"Yes, I suppose it is. I felt just the same when Trudy put up her curls for the first time. I am a foolish old thing!"
"Now, don't you talk like that," cried Dolly, "or I'll pull down my hair and wear it in tails till I'm fifty!"
"No, dear; do as you like about it. And, if you want to wear it that way while you're in New York, do. It's all right."
More discussions came with the new dresses. Mrs. Fayre was for keeping to the more youthful models, but Mrs. Hose felt that the girls should have slightly older styles. Bernice's frocks were almost young ladyish, but those were not copied.
Dotty and Dolly always had their things similar, different in colouring but alike in style. So their respective mothers had many confabs before the grave questions were settled.
And the result was two very attractive wardrobes that were really right for fifteen-year-old girls. Afternoon dresses of voile or thin silk, and one pretty party dress for each of dainty chiffon and lace. Morning frocks of linen and a tailored street suit seemed to be ample in amount and variety.
Bernice had more and grander ones, but the two D's were entirely satisfied, and watched the packing of their small trunks with joyful contentment.
Dolly put in her diary, declaring she should write a full account of each day's happenings.
"Then that'll do for me," said Dotty. "I hate to keep a diary, and what would be the use? It would be exactly like yours, Doll, and I can borrow yours to read to my people after you've read it to your family."
"All right," agreed Dolly, good-naturedly, for what pleased one girl usually suited the other.
They didn't take their schoolbooks, for it made a heavy load, and too, all agreed that it would spoil the pleasant vacation. The girls promised to make up the lessons on their return, and so it seemed as if nothing marred the anticipation of their splendid holiday.
The girls were put on the train at Berwick and as Mrs. Berry was to meet them at the station in New York, they were allowed to make the trip alone.
"I think this train ride the best part of the whole thing," said Dolly, as she took off her coat and hung it up beside her chair. "I do love to ride in a parlour car; I wish we were to travel in it for a week."
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