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- Glenloch Girls - 4/38 -


Ruth and tell her that I shall be glad to welcome her here."

"How soon will she get here?" asked Arthur in a resigned tone.

"Her father wrote that he expects to sail on the fifteenth of October, and as he wants to have two or three days in New York before sailing that will probably bring her here about the twelfth or thirteenth. Not quite three weeks, you see."

"The time does seem short," said Arthur, trying to appear politely interested.

His mother laughed. "I'll leave you to prepare your mind for this new infliction while I write the note and do my marketing. Don't forget that you are going to practice with the crutches as soon as possible; I shall be so proud of you when you can walk downstairs."

Mrs. Hamilton a little later at her desk was just beginning the pleasant task of writing to Ruth, when the sound of the doorbell and a quick scamper of feet up the stairs made her put down her pen with a smile. "Why, girls," she said as a trio of bright faces appeared in the doorway. "How does it happen that you are out of school at this hour of the day?"

"Something happened to the gas-pipes, and there was an awful smell of gas, and all sorts of workmen walking around the building, so we were sent home," answered the tallest of the three girls. "And we thought we'd come in and see you for a few minutes, if you weren't busy and didn't mind."

"I'm almost never too busy to see you and Charlotte and Dorothy, Betty, and I'm particularly glad just now, for I want to consult you all about something."

"How fine," said Dorothy. "I love to be consulted, don't you, girls?"

"You see," continued Mrs. Hamilton, "I am going to borrow a daughter for a whole year, and I thought you three would be the very ones to help me make her happy."

"We will. We'd like to," answered the girls. "How old is she?" asked Charlotte. "And what's her name?" put in Dorothy. "I always like to know the name before I begin to think very much about a person."

"Her name is Ruth Shirley, and she's just fourteen, I believe. She lost a very lovely mother about a year ago, and now her father is obliged to go abroad on business, so I suspect the poor child will feel lonely and homesick for a while."

"We'll give her all the good times we can," said Betty warmly. "When do you expect her, Mrs. Hamilton?"

"In less than three weeks, I think, and that reminds me that I want you all to advise me about making her room pretty. Let's go and look at it now and discuss ways and means."

"Oh, you are going to give her the pink room," cried Dorothy as they entered it. "I think this is the loveliest room in the house." It was a pretty room, with its delicate pink and white paper, its dainty draperies and white furniture, and the girls wondered what more it could need in the way of preparation.

"It seems to me this is fine enough for any one," said Charlotte, who usually thought aloud quite frankly. "I don't see what you can do to make it prettier."

"Perhaps not so much prettier as a little more homelike, Charlotte. For one thing I mean to have some andirons so that there can be a fire made here when necessary, for this is likely to be a cold room in winter."

"That will be jolly," murmured Charlotte. "If there's anything I adore it's an open fire with a rug before it. I hope she's a nice, quiet girl and likes to read," she added with pretended anxiety, "for in that case I shouldn't mind having her in the room with me when I am enjoying her fire."

They all laughed and Dorothy said, "Charlotte is such an old bookworm that she won't know how to get on with any one who doesn't like to read. For my part I hope she will be full of fun and like having a good time better than poking in books all the time."

"Well," said Betty pensively, "I hope she likes cats."

"Well, girls, I hope Ruth will satisfy your expectations," said Mrs. Hamilton. "And now I want you to do something for me. I want each of you to think of something that will make the room look more homelike and more like a girl's room. You may select anything you like and if I can get it I shall, for I want you all to feel that you have had a share in making the room pretty."

"I know something," began Dorothy.

"Don't tell, don't tell," interrupted Charlotte. "Let's tell Mrs. Hamilton secretly, and after the room is finished we'll see if we can guess what each one suggested."

"That's a clever idea, Lottchen," said Betty, who admired all that Charlotte said or did.

This agreed upon, the girls said they must go, and Mrs. Hamilton settled down to her letter once more.

"MY DEAR RUTH" (she wrote):

"I can't wait any longer to tell you how delighted I am to know that you are coming to us for a whole year. I have always wanted a daughter of my own, and the next best thing to that will be to have a borrowed one. I am afraid you are not so full of delight at the prospect as Mr. Hamilton and I are, but we hope to be able to drive away at least a part of the homesickness, and we already feel an affection for the little girl who is coming to us.

"I am going to send you a photograph of some girls who have just been in to see me and who have heard the news of your coming. I am very fond of them, and they call themselves my 'visiting daughters,' and run in to see me at all hours and on all sorts of errands. They are very glad to know you are coming and are already wondering how you look and whether you will like them. The one in the middle of the picture is Charlotte Eastman, and the plump little girl on her right is Betty Ellsworth. The other is Dorothy Marshall. I shall not tell you anything more about them, because you will soon see them and learn to know them for yourself."

Just here Mrs. Hamilton paused in her letter. "She must know that I have a son, and I'm afraid she'll think it strange if I don't mention him," she said to herself. "I can't tell her that he is dreading her coming, and I certainly can't say with truth that he is expecting her with pleasure. Well, a very little will do and I can explain later."

"My son, Arthur," the letter went on, "is slowly recovering from the effects of a severe accident. He has not yet left his room, but I hope by the time you arrive he will have greatly improved.

"And now, my dear, I'll close my note and hurry it off so that it may soon assure you of our hearty welcome. With kindest regards to your father, and love to yourself, I am,

"Yours very sincerely,

"MARY A. HAMILTON."

Mrs. Hamilton's eyes were very tender as she folded and sealed her letter. "Poor little girl," she said half aloud, "I suspect she thinks her heart is broken, but we must try to mend it for her."

CHAPTER III

THE NEWCOMER

At three o'clock on the afternoon of the twelfth of October the Hamilton house was very still. Mrs. Hamilton had gone into town, the housemaid was taking her "afternoon out," and the cook, who had been kept awake by toothache the night before, was enjoying a nap.

Just about this time Arthur peered cautiously from his room. No one being in sight he came out slowly and carefully on his crutches. "I can do miles of exercise in this hall," he said to himself with grim satisfaction, "as long as there is no one to watch me."

He went up and down once, and then with great effort for a second time. Just as he was about ready to start again, the door-bell rang. He went carefully toward the door of his own room, always afraid of toppling over, and paused when he got there to listen. The bell rang again, this time more insistently, and he wondered impatiently where Katie and Ellen were, and why some one didn't go to the door. A third peal of the bell sent him back to the hall window. From there he could see the depot carriage with a trunk on the back, and the driver looking expectantly at the house. He could hear voices on the steps below, but could see no one until, after a fourth ring, a gentleman and a young girl went slowly down the steps and stood looking back at the house.

"It's that girl, and she's come a day too soon," gasped Arthur. He threw up the hall window and spoke to them.

"If you will wait a moment longer," he said, "I will try to find some one to open the door for you."

The gentleman bowed and thanked him, the girl smiled, and Arthur left the window, inwardly vowing vengeance on faithless maids who didn't attend to their duties. He groaned as he suddenly remembered that it was Katie's afternoon out. He might as well go downstairs himself as take the long journey through the house to find Ellen.

"If I try to go down on these old sticks, they'll have to break open the door and pick me up," he said to himself with a rueful smile." I'll try it baby fashion." Sitting down, he let his crutches slide along beside him, and holding the injured leg straight out before him hitched along from stair to stair until he reached the bottom. Then with even greater caution than he had used before he walked to the door and opened it.


Glenloch Girls - 4/38

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