Page images

as if

like a baby. Why, he would n't get down in “You 've just let me go on and be perfectly time for breakfast if I did n't put most of his ridiculous!" she charged. “I don't think it's clothes on.”

a bit nice of you!" “That 's no joke, either," retorted Laurie, “Why, what-how do you mean?” stam“about you putting my clothes on. You 're mered Ned. wearing one of my collars and my best socks "You have the most wonderful flowers in right now, and-yes, sir, that's my blue tie!" the world in California, and you know it!"

"Wait a bit, partner! Where'd you get she replied severely; "and you 've let me that shirt you 're wearing?”

show you these poor little things as if "That 's different," answered Laurie, with they were anything at all in comparison! I dignity. “Mine are all in the wash. Besides, forgot you came from California." it 's an old one and you never wear it.”

“Maybe we did n't tell you," offered “I never get a chance to wear it!"

Laurie. "Anyway, your flowers—" “It must be very convenient for you,” “In California they have hedges of geransaid Mrs. Deane, smilingly, “to be able to iums and roses climb right over the houses wear each others' things. Polly, I guess and orange-trees and palms and everything," there won't be any one else in for awhile; interrupted Polly, breathlessly. "Why, this maybe they 'd like to see your garden." garden must seem perfectly-perfectly awful

Being assured that they would, Polly led to you!" the way through the back room, a pleasant, Don't you believe it!” denied Ned. sunny apartment evidently combining the "Flowers and things do grow bigger, I supduties of kitchen and dining-room, and out to pose, out our way; but they are n't a bit a little back porch shaded by morning-glories prettier, are they, Laurie?" and nasturtiums that fairly ran riot over the “Not so pretty,” answered the other, green lattice.

There was a braided rug on earnestly. “Besides, I never saw a geranium the floor and a small rocker and a tiny table hedge in my life. Maybe they have them in on which were books and a magazine or two. some places, like Pasadena, but there is n't The books were evidently Polly's school- one in Santa Lucia, honest. There is n't, is books, for they were held together by a strap. there, Ned?"

The twins liked that garden. It was n't I never saw one. And palms are n't very large, for when the peculiar Mr. Cov- awfully pretty. They get sort of scraggly entry had divided the estate he had placed looking sometimes. Honest, Polly, I never the high board fence very close to the little saw a garden any prettier and cuter than this frame dwelling; but perhaps its very small- is. Of course, some are bigger and-and ness made it seem more attractive. Narrow more magnificent--" beds encompassed it on three sides, and a "Who wants a magnificent garden?” degravel walk followed the beds. In the tiny manded Laurie, scornfully. "What have you square inside, a small rustic arbor, covered got in the box, Polly?" with climbing rose-vines, held a seat that, Comforted, Polly smiled again. “That 's as was presently proved, accommodated Antoinette," she said. “Come and see. three very comfortably. But before they Antoinette lived in a wooden box in the were allowed to sit down, they had to be shelter of the porch, and had long ears and shown many things; the hollyhocks against very blue eyes and a nose that twitched funthe back fence, the flowering almond that nily when they approached. In short, An

, had been brought all the way from the old toinette was a

affy, smoke-gray rabbit. home in New Jersey,—and had never quite "She has a dreadfully long pedigree,” said made up its mind whether to die of home- Polly, as she took Antoinette out and snugsickness or go on living,—the bed of lilies- gled her in her arms. of-the-valley that just would n't keep out of “Has she?'' murmured Laurie. “I thought the path, and many other floral treasures. it looked rather short.” Nasturtiums and morning-glories and scarlet "A pedigree is n't a tail, you idiot," said sage and crinkly-edged white and lavender Ned, scathingly. "She 's awfully pretty,

, petunias were still blossoming gaily, and Polly. Will she bite?there was even a cluster of white roses on “Of course not! At least, not unless you the arbor, for, so far, no frost had come. look like a cabbage-leaf.” The twins admired properly and Polly was “I would n't take a chance," Laurie adall smiles, until suddenly she said, "O-oh!" vised. “Anyone who 's as green as you and faced them reproachfully.


"She tries to eat most everything," said Polly, “but she likes cabbage and lettuce and carrots best."

“I wish I had a cabbage,” muttered Laurie, searching his pockets; "or a carrot. You have n't a carrot with you, have you, Ned?"

"You 're the silliest boys!" laughed Polly, returning Antoinette to her box. “Let 's go and sit down a minute." And when they were on the seat under the arbor and she had smoothed her skirt and tucked a pair of rather soiled white canvas shoes from sight, she announced, “There! Now you can make up a verse about something!"




MAKE up a-what did you say?" asked Ned.

"Make up a verse," answered Polly, placidly. “As you did the other day when you went out. Don't you remember?

“Oh!" Laurie looked somewhat embarrassed and a trifle silly. “Why, you see only do that when-when

"When we have inspiration," aided Ned, glibly.

“Yes, that 's it, inspiration! We--we have to have inspiration."

“I'm sure Antoinette ought to be enough inspiration to any poet," returned Polly, laughing. “You know you never saw a more beautiful rabbit in your life-lives, I mean.”

Ned looked inquiringly at Laurie. Then he said, “Well, maybe if I close my eyes a minute, He suited action to word. Polly viewed him with eager interest; Laurie, with misgiving. Finally, after a moment of silent suspense, his eyelids flickered and:

"O Antoinette, most lovely of thy kind!” he declaimed.

“Thou eatest cabbages and watermelon rind!" finished Laurie, promptly.

Polly clapped her hands, but her approval was short-lived. “But she does n't eatest watermelon rind," she declared indignantly. “I'm sure it would n't be at all good for her!”

Laurie grinned. “That 's what we call poetic license,” he explained. "When you make a rhyme, sometimes you've got to--to sacrifice truth for-in the interests of-I mean, you've got to think of the sound! ‘Kind' and 'carrot' would n't sound right, don't you see?"

"Well, I 'm sure watermelon rind does n't sound right either," objected Polly; "not for a rabbit. Rabbits have very delicate digestions."

"We might change it," offered Ned. How would this do? "O Antoinette, more lovely than a parrot, Thou dost subsist on cabbages and carrot." "That 's silly," said Polly, scornfully. "Poetry usually is silly," Ned answered.

Laurie, who had been gazing raptly at his shoes, broke forth exultantly, "I 've got it!" he cried. "Listen! “O Antoinette, most beauteous of rabbits, Be mine and I will feed thee naught but

cabbits!" A brief silence followed. Then Ned asked, “What are cabbits?

“Cabbits are vegetables," replied Laurie.

"I never heard of them,” said Polly, wrinkling her forehead.

“Neither did any one else," laughed Ned. "He just made them up to rhyme with rabbits."

“A cabbit,” said Laurie, loftily, “is something between a cabbage and a carrot."

“What does it look like?" giggled Polly.

Laurie blinked. “We-ell, you 've seen ayou 've seen an artichoke, have n't you?Polly nodded and Laurie blinked again. "And you've seen a-a mangel-wurzel?”

"No, I don't think so."

"Then I don't see how I can tell you," said Laurie, evidently relieved, “because a cabbit is more like a mangel-wurzel than anything else. Of course, it 's not so deciduous, and the shape is different; it 's more obvate than a mangel-wurzel; more,” he swept his hands vaguely in air,-"more phenomenal."

"Oh, dry up," said Ned, grinning. "How'd you like to have to put up with an idiot like that all your life, Polly? The worst of it is, folks sometimes mistake him for me!"

“Yes, it 's awful, but I manage to bear up under it," Laurie sighed.

"How did you ever come to think of making those funny rhymes?” Polly asked.

“Oh, we had measles once, about four years ago," said Ned. “We always had everything together; measles, whoopingcough, scarlet fever, everything. And when we were getting over them they would n't let us read and so we made up rhymes. I forget whose idea it was. I'd make up one line and Laurie would make up the other, or the other way around. The idea was to have the last word of the first line so hard that the other fellow could n't rhyme to it. But I guess I only stuck Laurie once. Then the word was lemon."

"You did n't really stick me then,” Laurie us, but got laughing so he could n't. We denied. "I rhymed it with demon. You said made rhymes all the time for awhile and they did n't rhyme, but I showed you a rhym- nearly drove folks crazy; and finally Dad said ing dictionary that said they did.”

if we did n't stop it, he'd whale us. And I "The dictionary said it was an imperfect said, 'All right, sir, we 'll try not to do it'; rhyme, Laurie, and"

and Laurie, the chump, butted in with, “Just the same, a rhyme 's a rhyme. Say, 'Cause if we do, we know we 'll rue it! We

nearly got the licking right then!”

“You are funny!" laughed Polly. "Is your mother-have n't


[ocr errors]


“She died when we were kids,” answered Laurie. "I just remember her, but Ned does n't."

"You think you do. You've just heard Dad and nurse talk about her. We were only four when Mother died.”

Laurie looked unconvinced, but did n't argue the matter. Instead he asked, "Your father 's dead, is n't he, Polly?''

“Yes, he died when I was eight. He was a dear, and I missed him just terribly. Mother says I look like him. He was very tall and was always laughing. Mother says he laughed so much he did n't have time for anything else. She means that he was n't—was n't very successful. We were very poor when he died. But I guess he was lots nicer than he would have been if he had just been

successful. I guess

the most successful man “ 'JUST THE SAME, A RHYME 'S A RHYME'

in this town is Mr.

Sparks, the banker, Ned, remember the one we made up about and no one has ever seen him laugh once. Miss Yetter?”' Ned nodded and grinned. And Uncle Peter was successful, too, I sup“Miss Yetter was our nurse. We thought it pose; and he was just as sour and ill-temwas pretty clever, but she did n't like it. pered as anything. He was n't my real

uncle, but I called him that because Mother “When feeling ill send for Miss Yetter. If you don't die, she 'll make you better.”

said it would please him. It did n't seem to."

"Was that Mr. Coventry?" asked Laurie. "She was quite insulted about it,” laughed “The mis—I mean the man who lived in the Ned, "and told Dad; and he tried to lecture big square house over there?"

Yes. And I don't mind you calling him any more, he must have hidden it away the miser, because that is just what he was. pretty well. They looked all through the He was Mother's half-brother, but he did n't house and dug holes in the cellar floor. It act as if he was even a quarter-brother! He was very exciting. Mother thinks he lost was always just as horrid as he could be. what money he had speculating in stocks and When Father died he wrote Mother to come things. He used to go to New York about here and he would provide her with a home. four times a year. No one knew what he did And when we came, we found he meant that there, not even Hilary, but Mother thinks he Mother was to live here and pay him rent. went to see men who deal in stocks and that She did n't have enough money to do that, they got his money away from him." and so Uncle Peter made the front of the “Who is Hilary?” Laurie inquired. house into a store and bought some things for “Hilary was a colored man that Uncle had her and made her sign a mortgage or some- had a long time. It seemed to me that if thing. When he died, we thought maybe he Uncle had had much money, Hilary would had left Mother a little; but there was n't have known about it; and he did n't." any will, and not much property, either- “Where is he w? Hilary, I mean,” added just the big house on Walnut Street and this Laurie, somewhat unnecessarily. place and about two thousand dollars. When I don't know. He went away a little the property was divided, Mother got the while after Uncle Peter died. He said he other heirs to let her have this as her portion was going to New York, I think.” of the estate, but she had to pay four hun- “You don't suppose he took the money dred and fifty dollars for it. That took about with him, do you? I mean—" all she had saved and more, and so we have n't "Oh no!" Polly seemed quite horrified. been able to do much to the house yet." “Hilary was just as honest as honest! Why,

“It does n't look as if it needed much doing Uncle Peter died owing him almost forty to," said Ned, critically.

dollars and Hilary never got a cent of it! “Oh, but it does! It needs a new coat of The lawyers were too mean for anything!” paint, for one thing. And some of the blinds “There 's a fellow named Starling living are broken. And there ought to be a furnace there now,” Laurie said. “His father's in it. Stoves don't really keep it warm in rented the house for three years. Bob says winter. Some day we'll fix it up nicely, he 's going to find the money and give it to though. As soon as I get through high school,

your mother." I'm going to work and make a lot of money." Polly laughed. "Oh, I wish that he would!

"Attaboy!" approved Ned. "What are But I guess if the lawyers could n't find it, he you going to do, Polly?”

never will. Lawyers, they say, can find “I'm learning stenography and type- money when nobody else can! Is he nice?writing, and Mr. Farmer, the lawyer—he 's “Bob? Yes, he 's a dandy chap. You the one who got the others to let Mother ought to know him, Polly; he 's your nexthave the house when Uncle Peter's estate door neighbor." was settled says he will find a place for me "Back-door neighbor, you mean," interin his office. He 's awfully nice. Some polated Ned. stenographers make lots of money, don't “I think I saw him in the garden one day,” they?

said Polly. "His father is an engineer, Mae "I guess so," Ned agreed. “There 's a Ferrand says, and he's building a big bridge woman in Dad's office who gets eighteen for the railway. Or maybe it 's a tunnel. I dollars a week.”

forget." Polly clasped her hands delightedly. “Is Mae Something the girl with the “Maybe I would n't get that much, though. molasses-candy hair you were with at the I guess Mr. Farmer does n't pay his stenog- high-school game?" Laurie asked. rapher very high wages. Maybe I 'd get “Yes, but her hair is n't like molasses twelve dollars, though. Don't you think I candy. It 's perfectly lovely hair. It's might?”

like-like diluted sunshine!" "Sure!” said Laurie. “Don't you let any Laurie whistled. “Gee! Did you get that, one tell you any different. Did n't folks Neddie? Well, anyway, I like dark hair think that your Uncle Peter left more money better." than was found, Polly?"

“Oh, I don't! I'd love to have hair like “Oh, yes, but no one really knew. The Mae's. And, what do you think, she likes lawyers looked everywhere. If he did have my hair better than her own!"

"Don't blame her," said Laurie. “What "Really? Bully for her! Wait till I say

“ do you say, Ned?

farewell to Antoinette, 'most beauteous of “I say I've got to beat it back and get into rabbits! What does she twitch her nose like football togs. What time is it?”

that for?" “Look at your own watch, you lazy loafer. “I think she 's asking for some cabbits," Well, come on. I say, Polly, would your replied Polly, gravely. mother let you go to the game with me "She 's making faces at you, you chump,” Saturday? That is, if you want to, of said Ned, rudely. “Come on.” They recourse.

turned through the little living-room, empty “Oh, I'd love to! But—I 'll ask her, any- save for a big black cat asleep in a rockingway. And if she says I may, would you mind chair, and found Mrs. Deane serving the

, if Mae went too? We usually go together to first of the afternoon trade in the shop bethe games."

yond. They said good afternoon to her very “Not a bit. I 'll be around again before politely, and Polly went to the door with Saturday and see what she says."

them. Outside on the walk, Ned nudged "I would n't be surprised if she said yes,” Laurie and they paused side by side and remarked Polly. "I think she must like you gravely removed their caps. boys. Anyway, you 're the first of the Hill

“We give you thanks and say farewell, Miss man's boys she has ever let me invite out Polly.” here."

“The visit's been, indeed, most jolly!" (To be continued)

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »