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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWhat Katy Did At School - Chapter 9. The Autumn Vacation
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What Katy Did At School - Chapter 9. The Autumn Vacation Post by :kingofcopy.com Category :Long Stories Author :Susan Coolidge Date :May 2012 Read :780

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What Katy Did At School - Chapter 9. The Autumn Vacation

CHAPTER IX. THE AUTUMN VACATION

The last day of the term was one of confusion. Every part of the house was given over to trunks and packing. Mrs. Nipson sat at her desk making out bills, and listening to requests about rooms and room-mates. Miss Jane counted books and atlases, taking note of each ink-spot and dog-eared page. The girls ran about, searching for missing articles, deciding what to take home and what to leave, engaging each other for the winter walks. All rules were laid aside. The sober Nunnery seemed turned into a hive of buzzing bees. Bella slid twice down the baluster of the front stairs without being reproved, and Rose Red threw her arm round Katy's waist and waltzed the whole length of Quaker Row.

"I'm so happy that I should like to scream!" she announced, as their last whirl brought them up against the wall. "Isn't vacation just lovely? Katy, you don't look half glad."

"We're not going home, you know," replied Katy, in rather a doleful tone. She and Clover were not so enraptured at the coming of vacation as the rest of the girls. Spending a month with Mrs. Page and Lilly was by no means the same thing as spending it with papa and the children.

Next morning, however, when the big stage drove up, and the girls crowded in; when Mrs. Nipson stood in the door-way, blandly waving farewell, and the maids flourished their dusters out of the upper windows, they found themselves sharing the general excitement, and joining heartily in the cheer which arose as the stage moved away. The girls felt so happy and good-natured that some of them even kissed their hands to Miss Jane.

Such a wild company is not often met with on a railroad train. They all went together as far as the Junction: and Mr. Gray, Ellen's father, who had been put in charge of the party by Mrs. Nipson, had his hands full to keep them in any sort of order. He was a timid old gentleman, and, as Rose suggested, his expression resembled that of a sedate hen who suddenly finds herself responsible for the conduct of a brood of ducklings.

"My dear, my dear!" he feebly remonstrated, "would you buy any more candy? Do you not think so many pea-nuts may be bad for you?"

"Oh, no, sir!" replied Rose, "they never hurt me a bit. I can eat thousands!" Then, as a stout lady entered the car, and made a motion toward the vacant seat beside her, she rolled her eyes wildly, and said, "Excuse me, but perhaps I had better take the end seat so as to get out easily in case I have a fit."

"Fits!" cried the stout lady, and walked away with the utmost dispatch. Rose gave a wicked chuckle, the girls tittered, and Mr. Gray visibly trembled.

"Is she really afflicted in this way?" he whispered.

"Oh, no, papa! it's only Rose's nonsense!" apologized Ellen, who was laughing as hard as the rest. But Mr. Gray did not feel comfortable, and he was very glad when they reached the Junction, and half of his troublesome charge departed on the branch road.

At six o'clock they arrived in Springfield. Half a dozen papas were waiting for their daughters, trains stood ready, there was a clamor of good-bys. Mr. Page was absorbed by Lilly, who kissed him incessantly, and chattered so fast that he had no eyes for any one else. Louisa was borne away by an uncle, with whom she was to pass the night, and Katy and Clover found themselves left alone. They did not like to interrupt Lilly, so they retreated to a bench, and sat down feeling rather left-out and home-sick; and, though they did not say so, I am sure that each was thinking about papa.

It was only for a moment. Mr. Page spied them, and came up with such a kind greeting that the forlorn feeling fled at once. They were to pass the night at the Massasoit, it seemed; and he collected their bags, and led the way across the street to the hotel, where rooms were already engaged for them.

"Now for waffles," whispered Lilly, as they went upstairs; and when, after a few minutes of washing and brushing, they came down again into the dining-room, she called for so many things, and announced herself "starved" in such a tragical tone, that two amused waiters at once flew to the rescue, and devoted themselves to supplying her wants. Waffle after waffle--each hotter and crisper than the last--did those long-suffering men produce, till even Lilly's appetite gave out, and she was forced to own that she could not swallow another morsel. This climax reached, they went into the parlor, and the girls sat down in the window to watch the people in the street, which, after quiet Hillsover, looked as brilliant and crowded as Broadway.

There were not many persons in the parlor. A grave-looking couple sat at a table at some distance, and a pretty little boy in a velvet jacket was playing around the room. He seemed about five years old; and Katy, who was fond of children, put out her hand as he went by, caught him, and lifted him into her lap. He did not seem shy, but looked her in the face composedly, like a grown person.

"What is your name, dear?" she asked.

"Daniel D'Aubigny Sparks," answered the little boy, His voice was prim and distinct.

"Do you live at this hotel?"

"Yes, ma'am. I reside here with my father and mother."

"And what do you do all day? Are there some other little boys for you to play with?"

"I do not wish to play with any little boys," replied Daniel D'Aubigny, in a dignified tone: "I prefer to be with my parents. To-day we have taken a walk. We went to see a beautiful conservatory outside the city. There is a Victoria Regia there. I had often heard of this wonderful lily, and in the last number of the London 'Musee' there is a picture of it, represented with a small negro child standing upon one of its leaves. My father said that he did not think this possible, but when we saw the plant we perceived that the print was not an exaggeration. Such is the size of the leaf, that a small negro child might very easily supported upon it."

"Oh, my!" cried Katy, feeling as if she had accidentally picked up an elderly gentleman or a college professor. "Pray, how old are you?"

"Nearly nine, ma'am," replied the little fellow with a bow.

Katy, too much appalled for farther speech, let him slide off her lap. But Mr. Page, who was much diverted, continued the conversation; and Daniel, mounting a chair, crossed his short legs, and discoursed with all the gravity of an old man. The talk was principally about himself, --his tastes, his adventures, his ideas about art and science. Now and then he alluded to his papa and mamma, and once to his grandfather.

"My maternal grandfather," he said, "was a remarkable man. In his youth he spent a great deal of time in France. He was there at the time of the French Revolution, and, as it happened, was present at the execution of the unfortunate Queen Marie Antoinette. This of course was not intentional. It chanced thus. My grandfather was in a barber's shop, having his hair cut. He saw a great crowd going by, and went out to ask what was the cause. The crowd was so immense that he could not extricate himself; he was carried along against his will, and not only so, but was forced to the front and compelled to witness every part of the dreadful scene. He has often told my mother that, after the execution, the executioner held up the queen's head to the people: the eyes were open, and there was in them an expression, not of pain, not of fear, but of great astonishment and surprise."

This anecdote carried "great astonishment and surprise" into the company who listened to it. Mr. Page gave a sort of chuckle, and saying, "By George!" got up and left the room. The girls put their heads out of the window that they might laugh unseen. Daniel gazed at their shaking shoulders with an air of wonder, while the grave couple at the end of the room, who for some moments had been looking disturbed, drew near and informed the youthful prodigy that it was time for him to go to bed.

"Good-night, young ladies," said the small condescending voice. Katy alone had "presence of countenance" enough to return this salutation. It was a relief to find that Daniel went to bed at all.

Next morning at breakfast they saw him seated between his parents, eating bread and milk. He bowed to them over the edge of the bowl.

"Dreadful little prig! They should bottle him in spirits of wine as a specimen. It's the only thing he'll ever be fit for," remarked Mr. Page, who rarely said so sharp a thing about anybody.

Louisa joined them at the station. She was to travel under Mr. Page's care, and Katy was much annoyed at Lilly's manner with her. It grew colder and less polite with every mile. By the time they reached Ashburn it was absolutely rude.

"Come and see me very soon, girls," said Louisa, as they parted in the station. "I long to have you know mother and little Daisy. Oh, there's papa!" and she rushed up to a tall, pleasant-looking man, who kissed her fondly, shook hands with Mr. Page, and touched his hat to Lilly, who scarcely bowed in return.

"Boarding-school is so horrid," she remarked, "you get all mixed up with people you don't want to know,--people not in society at all."

"How can you talk such nonsense?" said her father: "the Agnews are thoroughly respectable, and Mr. Agnew is one of the cleverest men I know."

Katy was pleased when Mr. Page said this, but Lilly shrugged her shoulders and looked cross.

"Papa is so democratic," she whispered to Clover, "he don't care a bit who people are, so long as they are respectable and clever."

"Well, why should he?" replied Clover. Lilly was more disgusted than ever.

Ashburn was a large and prosperous town. It was built on the slopes of a picturesque hill, and shaded with fine elms. As they drove through the streets, Katy and Clover caught glimpses of conservatories and shrubberies and beautiful houses with bay-windows and piazzas.

"That's ours," said Lilly, as the carriage turned in at a gate. It stopped, and Mr. Page jumped out.

"Here we are," he said. "Gently, Lilly, you'll hurt yourself. Well, my dears, we're very glad to see you in our home at last."

This was kind and comfortable, and the girls were glad of it, for the size and splendor of the house quite dazzled and made them shy. They had never seen any thing like it before. The hall had a marble floor, and busts and statues. Large rooms opened on either side; and Mrs. Page, who came forward to receive them, wore a heavy silk with a train and laces, and looked altogether as if she were dressed for a party.

"This is the drawing-room," said Lilly, delighted to see the girls looking so impressed. "Isn't it splendid?" And she led the way into a stiff, chilly, magnificent apartment, where all the blinds were closed, and all the shades pulled down, and all the furniture shrouded in linen covers. Even the picture frames and mirrors were sewed up in muslin to keep off flies; and the bronzes and alabaster ornaments on the chimney-piece and _etagere gleamed through the dim light in a ghostly way. Katy thought it very dismal. She couldn't imagine anybody sitting down there to read or sew, or do any thing pleasant, and probably it was not intended that any one should do so; for Mrs. Page soon showed them out, and led the way into a smaller room at the back of the hall.

"Well, Katy," she said, "how do you like Hillsover?"

"Very well, ma'am," replied Katy; but she did not speak enthusiastically.

"Ah!" said Mrs. Page shaking her head, "it takes time to shake off home habits, and to learn to get along with young people after living with older ones and catching their ways. You'll like it better as you go on."

Katy privately doubted whether this was true, but she did not say so. Pretty soon Lilly offered to show them upstairs to their room. She took them first into three large and elegant chambers, which she explained were kept for grand company, and then into a much smaller one in a wing.

"Mother always puts my friends in here," she remarked: "she says it's plenty good enough for school-girls to thrash about in!"

"What does she mean?" cried Clover, indignantly, as Lilly closed the door. "We don't thrash!"

"I can't imagine," answered Katy, who was vexed too. But pretty soon she began to laugh.

"People are so funny!" she said. "Never mind, Clovy, this room is good enough, I'm sure."

"Must we unpack, or will it do to go down in our alpacas?" asked Clover.

"I don't know," replied Katy, in a doubtful tone. "Perhaps we had better change our gowns. Cousin Olivia always dresses so much! Here's your blue muslin right on top of the trunk. You might put on that, and I'll wear my purple."

The girls were glad that they had done this, for it was evidently expected, and Lilly had dressed her hair and donned a fresh white pique. Mrs. Page examined their dresses, and said that Clover's was a lovely blue, but that ruffles were quite gone out, and every thing must be made with basques. She supposed they needed quantities of things, and she had already engaged a dressmaker to work for them.

"Thank you," said Katy, "but I don't think we need any thing. We had our winter dresses made before we left home."

"Winter dresses! last spring! My dear, what were you thinking of? They must be completely out of fashion."

"You can't think how little Hillsover people know about fashions," replied Katy, laughing.

"But, my dear, for your own sake!" exclaimed Mrs. Page, distressed by these lax remarks. "I'll look over your things to-morrow and see what you need."

Katy did not dare to say "No," but she felt rebellious. When they were half through tea, the door opened, and a boy came in.

"You are late, Clarence," said Mr. Page, while Mrs. Page groaned and observed, "Clarence makes a point of being late. He really deserves to be made to go without his supper. Shut the door, Clarence. O mercy! don't bang it in that way. I wish you would learn to shut a door properly. Here are your cousins, Katy and Clover Carr. Now let me see if you can shake hands with them like a gentleman, and not like a ploughboy."

Clarence, a square, freckled boy of thirteen, with reddish hair, and a sort of red sparkle in his eyes, looked very angry at this address. He did not offer to shake hands at all, but elevating his shoulders said, "How d'you do?" in a sulky voice, and sitting down at the table buried his nose without delay in a glass of milk. His mother gave a disgusted sigh.

"What a boy you are!" she said. "Your cousins will think that you have never been taught any thing, which is not the case; for I'm sure I've taken twice the pains with you that I have with Lilly. Pray excuse him, Katy. It's no use trying to make boys polite!"

"Isn't it?" said Katy, thinking of Phil and Dorry, and wondering what Mrs. Page could mean.

"Hullo, Lilly!" broke in Clarence, spying his sister as it seemed for the first time.

"How d'you do?" said Lilly, carelessly. "I was wondering how long it would be before you would condescend to notice my existence."

"I didn't see you."

"I know you didn't. I never knew such a boy! You might as well have no eyes at all."

Clarence scowled, and went on with his supper. His mother seemed unable to let him alone. "Clarence, don't take such large mouthfuls! Clarence, pray use your napkin! Clarence, your elbows are on the table, sir! Now, Clarence, don't try to speak until you have swallowed all that bread,"--came every other moment. Katy felt very sorry for Clarence. His manners were certainly bad, but it seemed quite dreadful that public attention should be thus constantly called to them.

The evening was rather dull. There was a sort of put-in-order-for- company air about the parlor, which made everybody stiff. Mrs. Page did not sew or read, but sat in a low chair looking like a lady in a fashion plate, and asked questions about Hillsover, some of which were not easy to answer, as, for example, "Have you any other intimate friends among the school-girls beside Lilly?" About eight o'clock a couple of young, very young, gentlemen came in, at the sight of whom Lilly, who was half asleep, brightened and became lively and talkative. One of them was the Mr. Hickman, whose father married Mr. Page's sister-in-law's sister, thus making him in some mysterious way a "first cousin" of Lilly's. He was an Arrowmouth student, and seemed to have so many jokes to laugh over with Lilly that before long they conversed in whispers. The other youth, introduced as Mr. Eels, was left to entertain the other three ladies, which duty he performed by sucking the head of his cane in silence while they talked to him. He too was an Arrowmouth Sophomore.

In the midst of the conversation, the door, which stood ajar, opened a little wider, and a dog's head appeared, followed by a tail, which waggled so beseechingly for leave to come farther that Clover, who liked dogs, put out her hand at once. He was not pretty, being of a pepper-and-salt color, with a blunt nose and no particular sort of a tail, but looked good-natured; and Clover fondled him cordially, while Mr. Eels took his cane out of his mouth to ask, "What kind of a dog is that, Mrs. Page?"

"I'm sure I don't know," she replied; while Lilly, from the distance, added affectedly, "Oh, he's the most dreadful dog, Mr. Eels. My brother picked him up in the street, and none of us know the least thing about him, except that he's the commonest kind of dog,--a sort of cur, I believe."

"That's not true!" broke in a stern voice from the hall, which made everybody jump; and Katy, looking that way, was aware of a vengeful eye glaring at Lilly through the crack of the door. "He's a very valuable dog, indeed,--half mastiff and half terrier, with a touch of the bull-dog,--so there, Miss!"

The effect of this remark was startling. Lilly gave a scream; Mrs. Page rose, and hurried to the door; while the dog, hearing his master's voice, rushed that way also, got before her, and almost threw her down. Katy and Clover could not help laughing, and Mr. Eels, meeting their amused eyes, removed the cane from his mouth, and grew conversible.

"That Clarence is a droll chap!" he remarked confidentially. "Bright, too! He'd be a nice fellow if he wasn't picked at so much. It never does a fellow any good to be picked at,--now does it, Miss Carr?"

"No: I don't think it does."

"I say," continued Mr. Eels, "I've seen you young ladies up at Hillsover, haven't I? Aren't you both at the Nunnery?"

"Yes. It's vacation now, you know."

"I was sure I'd seen you. You had a room on the side next the President's, didn't you? I thought so. We fellows didn't know your names, so we called you 'The Real Nuns.'"

"Real Nuns?"

"Yes, because you never looked out of the window at us. Real nuns and sham nuns,--don't you see?" Almost all the young ladies are sham nuns, except you, and two pretty little ones in the story above, fifth window from the end."

"Oh, I know!" said Clover, much amused. "Sally Alsop, you know, Katy, and Amy Erskine. They are such nice girls!"

"Are they?" replied Mr. Eels, with the air of one who notes down names for future reference. "Well, I thought so. Not so much fun in them as some of the others, I guess; but a fellow likes other things as well as fun. I know if my sister was there, I'd rather have her take the dull line than the other."

Katy treasured up this remark for the benefit of the S. S. U. C. Mrs. Page came back just then, and Mr. Eels resumed his cane. Nothing more was heard of Clarence that night.

Next morning Cousin Olivia fulfilled her threat of inspecting the girls' wardrobe. She shook her head over the simple, untrimmed merinos and thick cloth coats.

"There's no help for it," she said, "but it's a great pity. You would much better have waited, and had things fresh. Perhaps it may be possible to match the merino, and have some sort of basque arrangement added on. I will talk to Madame Chonfleur about it. Meantime, I shall get one handsome thick dress for each of you, and have it stylishly made. That, at least, you really need."

Katy was too glad to be so easily let off to raise objections. So that afternoon she and Clover were taken out to "choose their material," Mrs. Page said, but really to sit by while she chose it for them. At the dressmaker's it was the same: they stood passive while the orders were given, and every thing decided upon.

"Isn't it funny!" whispered Clover; "but I don't like it a bit, do you? It's just like Elsie saying how she'll have her doll's things made."

"Oh, this dress isn't mine! it's Cousin Olivia's!" replied Katy. "She's welcome to have it trimmed just as she likes!"

But when the suits came home she was forced to be pleased. There was no over-trimming, no look of finery: every thing fitted perfectly, and had the air of finish which they had noticed and admired in Lilly's clothes. Katy almost forgot that she had objected to the dresses as unnecessary.

"After all, it is nice to look nice," she confessed to Clover.

Excepting going to the dressmaker's there was not much to amuse the girls during the first half of vacation. Mrs. Page took them to drive now and then, and Katy found some pleasant books in the library, and read a good deal. Clover meantime made friends with Clarence. I think his heart was won that first evening by her attentions to Guest the dog, that mysterious composite, "half mastiff and half terrier, with a touch of the bull-dog." Clarence loved Guest dearly, and was gratified that Clover liked him; for the poor animal had few friends in the household. In a little while Clarence became quite sociable with her, and tolerably so with Katy. They found him, as Mr. Eels said, "a bright fellow," and pleasant and good-humored enough when taken in the right way. Lilly always seemed to take him wrong, and his treatment of her was most disagreeable, snappish, and quarrelsome to the last degree.

"Much you don't like oranges!" he said one day at dinner, in answer to an innocent remark of hers. "Much! I've seen you eat two at a time, without stopping. Pa, Lilly says she don't like oranges! I've seen her eat two at a time, without stopping! Much she doesn't! I've seen her eat two at a time, without stopping!" He kept this up for five minutes, looking from one person to another, and repeating, "Much she don't! Much!" till Lilly was almost crying from vexation, and even Clover longed to box his ears. Nobody was sorry when Mr. Page ordered him to leave the room, which he did with a last vindictive "Much!" addressed to Lilly.

"How can Clarence behave so?" said Katy, when she and Clover were alone.

"I don't know," replied Clover. "He's such a nice boy, sometimes; but when he isn't nice, he's the horridest boy I ever saw. I wish you'd talk to him, Katy, and tell him how dreadfully it sounds when he says such things."

"No, indeed! He'd take it much better from you. You're nearer his age, and could do it nicely and pleasantly, and not make him feel as if he were being scolded. Poor fellow, he gets plenty of that!"

Clover said no more about the subject, but she meditated. She had a good deal of tact for so young a girl, and took care to get Clarence into a specially amicable mood before she began her lecture. "Look here, you bad boy, how could you tease poor Lilly so yesterday? Guest, speak up, sir, and tell your massa how naughty it was!"

"Oh, dear! now you're going to nag!" growled Clarence, in an injured voice.

"No, I'm not,--not the least in the world. I'll promise not to. But just tell me,"--and Clover put her hand on the rough, red-brown hair, and stroked it,--"just tell me why you 'go for to do' such things? They're not a bit nice."

"Lilly's so hateful!" grumbled Clarence.

"Well,--she is sometimes, I know," admitted Clover, candidly. "But because she is hateful is no reason why you should be unmanly."

"Unmanly!" cried Clarence, flushing.

"Yes. I call it unmanly to tease and quarrel, and contradict like that. It's like girls. They do it sometimes, but I didn't think a boy would. I thought he'd be ashamed!"

"Doesn't Dorry ever quarrel or tease?" asked Clarence, who liked to hear about Clover's brothers and sisters.

"Not now, and never in that way. He used to sometimes when he was little, but now he's real nice. He wouldn't speak to a girl as you speak to Lilly for any thing in the world. He'd think it wasn't being a gentleman."

"Stuff about gentleman, and all that!" retorted Clarence. "Mother dings the word in my ears till I hate it!"

"Well, it is rather teasing to be reminded all the time, I admit; but you can't wonder that your mother wants you to be a gentleman, Clarence. It's the best thing in the world, I think. I hope Phil and Dorry will grow up just like papa, for everybody says he's the most perfect gentleman, and it makes me so proud to hear them."

"But what does it mean any way! Mother says it's how you hold your fork, and how you chew, and how you put on your hat. If that's all, I don't think it amounts to much."

"Oh, that isn't all. It's being gentle, don't you see? Gentle and nice to everybody, and just as polite to poor people as to rich ones," said Clover, talking fast, in her eagerness to explain her meaning,-- "and never being selfish, or noisy, or pushing people out of their place. Forks, and hats, and all that are only little ways of making one's self more agreeable to other people. A gentleman is a gentleman inside,--all through! Oh, I wish I could make you see what I mean!"

"Oh, that's it, is it?" said Clarence. Whether he understood or not, Clover could not tell; or whether she had done any good or not; but she had the discretion to say no more; and certainly Clarence was not offended, for after that day he grew fonder of her than ever. Lilly became absolutely jealous. She had never cared particularly for Clarence's affection, but she did not like to have any one preferred above herself.

"It's pretty hard, I think," she told Clover. "Clare does every thing you tell him, and he treats me awfully. It isn't a bit fair! I'm his sister, and you're only a second cousin."

All this time the girls had seen almost nothing of Louisa Agnew. She called once, but Lilly received the call with them, and so cool and stiff that Louisa grew stiff also, and made but a short stay; and when the girls returned the visit she was out. A few days before the close of vacation, however, a note came from her.


"Dear Katy,--I am so sorry not to have seen more of you and Clover. Won't you come and spend Wednesday with us? Mamma sends her love, and hopes you will come early, so as to have a long day, for she wants to know you. I long to show you the baby and every thing. Do come. Papa will see you home in the evening. Remember me to Lilly. She has so many friends to see during vacation that I am sure she will forgive me for stealing you for one day.


"Yours affectionately,
"Louisa."


Katy thought this message very politely expressed, but Lilly, when she heard it, tossed her head, and said she "really thought Miss Agnew might let her name alone when she wrote notes." Mrs. Page seemed to pity the girls for having to go. They must, she supposed, as it was a schoolmate; but she feared it would be stupid for them. The Agnews were queer sort of people, not in society at all. Mr. Agnew was clever, people said; but, really, she knew very little about the family. Perhaps it would not do to decline.

Katy and Clover had no idea of declining. They sent a warm little note of acceptance, and on the appointed day set off bright and early with a good deal of pleasant anticipation. The vacation had been rather dull at Cousin Olivia's. Lilly was a good deal with her own friends, and Mrs. Page with hers; and there never seemed any special place where they might sit, or any thing in particular for then to do.

Louisa's home was at some distance from Mr. Page's, and in a less fashionable street. It looked pleasant and cosy as the girls opened the gate. There was a small garden in front with gay flower-beds; and on the piazza, which was shaded with vines, sat Mrs. Agnew with a little work-table by her side. She was a pretty and youthful- looking woman, and her voice and smile made them feel at home immediately.

"There is no need of anybody to introduce you," she said. "Lulu has described you so often that I know perfectly well which is Katy and which is Clover. I am so glad you could come. Won't you go right in my bed-room by that long window and take off your things? Lulu has explained to you that I am lame and never walk, so you won't think it strange that I do not show you the way. She will be here in a moment. She ran upstairs to fetch the baby."

The girls went into the bed-room. It was a pretty and unusual-looking apartment. The furniture was simple as could be, but bed and toilet and windows were curtained and frilled with white, and the walls were covered thick with pictures, photographs, and pen-and-ink sketches, and water-color drawings, unframed most of them, and just pinned up without regularity, so as to give each the best possible light. It was an odd way of arranging pictures; but Katy liked it, and would gladly have lingered to look at each one, only that she feared Mrs. Agnew would expect them and would think it strange that they did not come back.

Just as they went out again to the piazza, Louisa came running downstairs with her little sister in her arms.

"I was curling her hair," she explained, "and did not hear you come in. Daisy, give Katy a kiss. Now another for Clover. Isn't she a darling?" embracing the child rapturously herself, "now isn't she a little beauty?"

"Perfectly lovely?" cried the others, and soon all three were seated on the floor of the piazza, with Daisy in the midst, passing her from hand to hand as if she had been something good to eat. She was used to it, and submitted with perfect good nature to being kissed, trotted, carried up and down, and generally made love to. Mrs. Agnew sat by and laughed at the spectacle. When Baby was taken off for her noonday nap, Louisa took the girls into the parlor, another odd and pretty room, full of prints and sketches, and pictures of all sorts, some with frames, others with a knot of autumn leaves or a twist of ivy around them by way of a finish. There was a bowl of beautiful autumn roses on the table; and, though the price of one of Mrs. Page's damask curtains would probably have bought the whole furniture of the room, every thing was so bright and homelike and pleasant-looking that Katy's heart warmed at the sight. They were examining a portrait of Louisa with Daisy in her lap, painted by her father, when Mr. Agnew came in. The girls liked his face at once. It was fine and frank; and nothing could be prettier than to see him pick up his sweet invalid wife as if she had been a child, and carry her into the dining-room to her place at the head of the table.

Katy and Clover agreed afterward that it was the merriest dinner they had had since they left home. Mr. Agnew told stories about painters and painting, and was delightful. No less so was the nice gossip upstairs in Louisa's room which followed dinner, or the afternoon frolic with Daisy, or the long evening spent in looking over books and photographs. Altogether the day seemed only too short. As they went out of the gate at ten o'clock, Mr. Agnew following, lo! a dark figure emerged from behind a tree and joined Clover. It was Clarence!

"I thought I'd just walk this way," he explained, "the house has been dreadfully dull all day without you."

Clover was immensely flattered, but Mrs. Page's astonishment next day knew no bounds.

"Really," she said, "I have hopes of Clarence at last. I never knew him volunteer to escort anybody anywhere before in his life."

"I say," remarked Clarence, the evening before the girls went back to school,--"I say, suppose you write to a fellow sometimes, Clover."

"Do you mean yourself by 'a fellow'?" laughed Clover.

"You don't suppose I meant George Hickman or that donkey of an Eels, did you?" retorted Clarence.

"No, I didn't. Well, I've no objection to writing to a fellow, if that fellow is you, provided the fellow answers my letters. Will you?"

"Yes," gruffly, "but you mustn't show 'em to any girls or laugh at my writing, or I'll stop. Lilly says my writing is like beetle tracks. Little she knows about it though! I don't write to her! Promise, Clover!"

"Yes, I promise," said Clover, pleased at the notion of Clare's proposing a correspondence of his own accord. Next morning they all left for Hillsover. Clarence's friendship and the remembrance of their day with the Agnews were the pleasantest things that the girls carried away with them from their autumn vacation.

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