Infomotions, Inc.Mary Jane: Her Book / Judson, Clara Ingram, 1879-1950



Author: Judson, Clara Ingram, 1879-1950
Title: Mary Jane: Her Book
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): mary jane; jane; merrill; mary; aunt effie; marie georgiannamore; mary jane's; mother
Contributor(s): Moses, Montrose J. (Montrose Jonas), 1878-1934 [Editor]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 29,046 words (really short) Grade range: 7-9 (grade school) Readability score: 74 (easy)
Identifier: etext8890
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Title: Mary Jane: Her Book

Author: Clara Ingram Judson

Release Date: September, 2005 [EBook #8890]
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[This file was first posted on August 21, 2003]

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*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MARY JANE: HER BOOK ***




Produced by Distributed Proofreaders




MARY JANE

HER BOOK



BY Clara Ingram Judson


ILLUSTRATED BY Frances White





=CONTENTS=


THE BROKEN DOLL

DON'T CRY OVER SPILLED SUGAR

HELPING THE ROBINS

FATHER'S SECRET

MARY JANE PLAYS SCHOOL

AUNT EFFIE COMES TO VISIT

KEWPIE AND THE WASHING

JUNIOR'S SHOWER BATH

PLAYMATE DOROTHY

LEARNING TO SEW

MAKING READY FOR THE PICNIC

THE PICNIC UP CLEARWATER

GOING SHOPPING

THE PAPER DOLL SHOW

THE BIRTHDAY PARTY

A LETTER AND A TRIP





=ILLUSTRATIONS=


Her little fists were clinched and even her perky plaid hair ribbon seemed
to show amazement

"Here's one that's me!" exclaimed Mary Jane suddenly

She sat down on the biggest rock close by the edge of the creek

There's no need to tell of all the good times at that party




THE BROKEN DOLL


Mary Jane stood on the curbstone and stared into the middle of the street.
Her face was white with fright and the tears which had not as yet come were
close to her big blue eyes. Her little fists were clinched and even her
perky plaid hair ribbon seemed to show amazement.

And wasn't it enough to make any little girl stare? Her big, beautiful
doll, the one that came at Christmas time, lay crushed and broken in the
middle of the street! Its glossy brown hair matted in the dust; its dainty
pink dress torn and dirty and its great brown eyes crushed to powder!

For a full minute Mary Jane stared at the wreck that had been her doll.
Then she turned and ran screaming toward the house.

Mrs. Merrill heard her and met her at the front steps.

"Mary Jane! Dear child!" she cried, "what _is_ the matter? Tell mother what
has happened!"

"My doll! My beautifulest doll!" sobbed Mary Jane, "my Marie Georgianna is
all run over!"

"Surely not, surely not, Mary Jane," said her mother as she picked up the
little girl and sat down, with her on her lap, on the porch steps, "dolls
don't get run over."

"My doll did," said Mary Jane positively, "see?"

Mrs. Merrill looked out into the street and there, sure enough, was the
wreck of the doll.

"Tell me how it happened, dear," said Mrs. Merrill and she gathered her
little girl tighter in her arms as she spoke for she knew that if a doll
had been run over, Mary Jane herself had not missed an accident by so very
much for the doll and the little girl were always close together.

Mary Jane wiped her eyes on her mother's handkerchief, snugged cozily in
the comfortable arms and told her story.

"I was going over to play with Junior like you said I could," she began
(Junior was the little neighbor boy who lived across the street in the big
white house), "and just as I got into the middle of the street I heard a
big, _big_ noisy 'toot-t-t-t-t' way down by Fifth Street--and you _know_,
mother" (and here Mary Jane sat up straight) "that you always told me if an
automobile was as far away as Fifth Street it was all right--so I went on
across. But this automobile didn't just come; it hurried fast, oh, so very
fast and by the time I was half way across the road it was so close I just
turned around and ran back to the curbstone and I was in such a hurry I
guess I must have dropped my Marie Georgianna!"

"And the automobile ran over her, poor dolly," finished mother, with a
thrill of fear as she realized Mary Jane's narrow escape. Then she wiped
off the teary blue eyes and smilingly said, "Listen, Mary Jane, and I'll
tell you a secret."

"A secret about a doll?" asked Mary Jane eagerly.

"A secret about a doll," replied mother. "Marie Georgianna has a twin."

"Not a really truly twin?" demanded Mary Jane and she sat up straight and
opened her eyes wide. "A really, truly, for surely enough twin?"

"Yes, she has," said mother nodding her head emphatically, "a really,
truly, for surely enough twin--I saw her down at the store only yesterday
and I think we'll have to go down town and bring her home, don't you think
so?"

"But how'll we go so early?" asked Mary Jane, for she knew that mother
always liked to do her morning work before they went on errands.

"I think father is still here," replied mother; "you smile up your face and
run around to the garage. I think you'll find him there working on his car.
If you do, tell him all about what happened and tell him he's going to mend
your doll by finding her twin!"

Mary Jane slipped down from her mother's lap and hurried around the house
toward the garage. As soon as she was out of sight, Mrs. Merrill went out
to the street and rescued the wreck of the doll from the dusty road. Yes,
Mary Jane was right when she said that the doll was all gone--it would take
considerable work to put even the dress in order and the doll itself was
broken beyond all mending. Hastily Mrs. Merrill pulled off the dirty dress
and dropped the doll into the covered trash basket where Mary Jane would
not see it again and be reminded of the accident.

"What are we going to do about that speeding on our road?" demanded father
as he hurried up to the back porch just as the lid was back on the trash
basket. "Did you hear about Mary Jane's narrow escape?"

"We're going to do this about it," said mother positively, "Mary Jane isn't
to go over to Junior's again by herself. If she has to go over, one of us
will take her. And now the important thing is to find Marie Georgianna's
twin. And Mary Jane," she added as the little girl came running toward the
steps, "this twin of Marie Georgianna's is afraid of automobiles, very
afraid of them, and she doesn't like to cross the street unless some grown
up person is with her."

"That's a good thing," said Mary Jane with a big sigh, "because I don't
like to either. Next time I go over to Junior's I'm not going over. And
what shall I name Marie Georgianna's twin, mother?"

"We'll decide that later," laughed mother; "you must hurry quick and wash
your hands and face and slip on a clean frock so you can go to the store
with father."

It doesn't take long to tidy a little girl who wants to help so it wasn't
five minutes before Mary Jane was sitting, clean and tidy and straight,
beside her father in the front seat of his automobile. She loved to get in
while the car was still in the garage and then, when he backed it out, to
hold the wheel while he locked the doors and climbed back into the driver's
seat.

The Merrills lived in a charming home on the edge of a small city; a home
surrounded by trees and garden and plenty of space for playing; and at the
same time, only about ten minutes' ride from the stores in the center of
the city. So a very short ride brought Mr. Merrill and Mary Jane to the
store where Marie Georgianna's twin was to be found. In the meantime, Mrs.
Merrill had telephoned to the store and had told the saleswoman in the doll
department just which doll to have ready for Mary Jane.

When Mr. Merrill and his little girl walked into the toy department, there,
with her arms outstretched in greeting, was a beautiful big doll. For
a moment Mary Jane said nothing--the doll was so like her dear,
broken-to-pieces Marie Georgianna that she could hardly believe her eyes!
She walked up close to the counter; looked hard at the doll and then
exclaimed, "It is! It is, Daddah! It _is_ a twin just as mother said it
was! And is it for me to take home?"

Mr. Merrill assured her that the doll was to go home with them and then
he asked about clothes. "Are you sure you have enough at home? Were the
clothes spoiled too?"

"While mother was washing me ready to come down town, she told me she could
fix the dress and Marie Georgianna didn't wear her hat when she was run
over," said Mary Jane, "so I guess her twin doesn't need anything new." But
she looked so regretfully at the cases of pretty clothes that father bought
a pink parasol--"just for fun" he said.

"She doesn't want to wear _just_ hand-me-down clothes of her sister's even
if she _is_ a twin," he explained, "and I always like to buy doll clothes
for little girls who don't tease for new things. But there's one thing sure
about this parasol," he added, "it's not to go over to Junior's!"

"It won't!" laughed Mary Jane happily, "because I won't and parasols can't
go places by themselves!"

All the way back home Mary Jane sat very still and held the new doll close
up to her. Mr. Merrill thought perhaps she was thinking about the accident
and tried to get her to talking--that shows how little even good fathers
understand! Mary Jane wasn't thinking about any accident, dear me no! She
was naming her doll.

Just as they got out of the car at their own front walk, she announced
solemnly, "I've named her Marie Georgiannamore because a twin is more than
one."




DON'T CRY OVER SPILLED SUGAR


All the rest of the day after Marie Georgiannamore came into the family,
Mary Jane played dolls. Mother helped her fix a play house out on the front
porch in the warm sunshine and there Mary Jane and her family had a very
happy time. Evidently Marie Georgiannamore liked her new home for she
seemed very content with the other members of Mary Jane's numerous family.
There was the sailor doll and the rag doll, Mary Jane, Jr., and small bears
and dolls and kewpies too many to count. And of course each doll had its
own chair and bed so there was quite a household out on that sunny front
porch.

When father came home in the evening he helped carry in all the furniture
and in the morning he helped move it back again.

"I tell you, Mary Jane, these moving days keep us husky and strong, don't
they?" he said as he picked up three chairs and two beds at one time.

Mary Jane laughed and, just to show that she was strong too, carried
out _three_ doll beds (to be sure they were for the very littlest,
two-for-a-nickel dolls but then they were three beds just the same) and a
washing machine at one time! Then she thanked her father for his good help
and he went to work and she settled down for a morning's house keeping.

About ten o'clock Mrs. Merrill came to the front door.

"Do you know any little girl who is big enough to run down to the grocery
and get me some sugar?" she asked.

"'Deed, yes, mother!" answered Mary Jane promptly, "I can bring you
ten-fifty pounds! See how strong I am?" And she doubled up her arm as she
had seen her big, basketball-playing sister do to show her muscle. "See?
And I could move more beds at one time than Daddah could this morning."

"Well, you are strong!" exclaimed mother admiringly; "you have more muscle
than you need for sugar getting because I want only three pounds this time.
I'm making cake and pies and cookies and I've run out of sugar and don't
want to leave my work to get more. Can you leave your family now?" she
added, for she was always particular to treat Mary Jane's duties or play as
politely as she expected Mary Jane to treat hers.

"Yes," replied Mary Jane, "I can go this very minute, mother, because all
my children are taking their morning nap. Do I have to dress up?"

"Not a bit!" laughed mother; "just go down to Shaffer's at the corner then
you won't have to cross any street. Here is the money and here is the paper
that tells what you want--three pounds of granulated sugar. Thank you for
going, dear."

Mary Jane tucked the slip of paper and the money into her pocket under her
handkerchief, kissed her mother good-by and ran down the walk.

It didn't take long to do the errand because she ran right by her friend
Doris's house without even stopping to call "Hu-uu-oo!" as she usually did;
and because Mr. Shaffer seemed to have been expecting a call for three
pounds of sugar--he had the parcel all ready.

On the way back Mary Jane looked longingly into Doris's house and there,
sure enough, her little playmate was standing on the front porch.

"Come on in!" called Doris.

"Can't now," answered Mary Jane; "I'm doing an errand for mother, a real
important errand," and she held the package of sugar tightly in her arms
and walked straight along.

Now whether the paper in the bag was not very good to begin with; or
whether Mary Jane held the parcel too tightly or what--it would be hard to
say--but--Mary Jane had not gone five steps past Doris's house before she
felt a funny little movement in the bag under her arm. She looked and what
do you suppose she found had happened? That sugar bag had sprung a leak.
Yes, a really for sure leak and the sugar was dribbling, dribbling down to
the sidewalk! Quick as a flash Mary Jane turned the bag other side up and
stopped the leak but, even so, there was a little white mound of sugar
there on the sidewalk.

"I wonder what I ought to do now?" she said thoughtfully. "Should I pick up
the sugar and put it back into the bag?" She tried that, but she soon found
that sugar is very slippery. She could pick only a few grains at a time and
even some of those few slid out of her hand before she could tuck them into
the leak in the bag. It was very puzzling. She bent low over the pile of
sugar and in that way she was hidden from the houses by the high hedge that
grew along the walk.

"I wonder, I wonder--" she said, and then she noticed that she had company.
Two busy ants had found that pile of sugar and were moving it away as fast
as ever they could. "This must be moving day for them too," said Mary Jane
laughingly. "I wonder where they are going? I guess I'd better see."

She sat down beside the pile, being very careful to hold her bag of sugar
leaky-side up, and watched and watched. If you have ever seen ants moving
grains of sugar you know how very interesting it is and you won't wonder
that she forgot all about taking the parcel home to her mother. And there
is no telling when she _would_ have remembered if she hadn't, just then,
heard her mother's voice.

"Mary Jane! Mary Jane! Mary Jane!" called Mrs. Merrill.

"Coming, mother," answered Mary Jane and she scrambled to her feet and
hurried home. "'Cuse me, mother, for being so long," she said breathlessly,
"but it leaks and please may I go back by Doris's and see the ants?"

Mrs. Merrill took the bursting bag and thanked Mary Jane for the errand.
Her mind was on her delayed baking and she thought Mary Jane meant to go to
see Doris's aunt. So, without a question, she replied, "Yes, you may, dear,
but don't stay too long." And so Mary Jane ran back to her ants.

By careful watching she found where they were going. They had a whole
colony of tiny holes out in the grass plot between the sidewalk and the
curbing and they seemed to be moving the sugar into these holes.

"I think I ought to help them, they're such little things," said Mary Jane
to herself, "and I think Doris would want to help them too." She went to
Doris's gate and called and her little friend came out to watch ants too.

"See what they are doing?" explained Mary Jane. "They're moving the sugar
into their pantry and we ought to help them like my father helps me when I
move my doll house things."

But somehow the plan which sounded so well, didn't work. Maybe the ants
didn't understand that help was being given them; for really, the more the
little girls "helped" the more scurrying and confusion there was in that
company of ants. And even when Mary Jane picked up a grain of sugar and
actually dropped it into a hole ready for them to put away, that didn't
seem to be the right thing either!

Just then, when the little girls were getting tired of bending over so long
and trying to do something that didn't work, the noon whistles began to
blow, and, a minute later, Mr. Merrill came riding by in his car.

"Do you know where I could find two little girls to ride around to the
garage with me?" he asked as he pulled up by the curbing.

"Right here they are," cried Mary Jane and she and Doris climbed into the
car in a jiffy.

"What were you people doing there on the sidewalk?" asked father as they
drove around the corner.

"Helping ants store sugar in their holes but they didn't like it," said
Mary Jane disgustedly.

"I don't blame them," laughed Mr. Merrill. "When we get into the house I'll
show you how those holes are made and then you'll understand why the ants
didn't want help." So Doris came into the house too and Mr. Merrill got
down a big book and showed the two girls pictures of ant houses and told
them all about how ants make their homes and store their food.

"My, but I'm glad that sugar bag leaked!" sighed Mary Jane when the big
book was finally shut up and put away, "because I had fun watching the
ants; and I was out front ready for a ride; and now I've had a story--all
because sugar spilled! Mother, is lunch ready? May Doris stay? We're
hungry!"




HELPING THE ROBINS


All the afternoon after she learned about ants and their ways, Mary Jane
was very quiet. Mrs. Merrill thought perhaps she was disappointed because
Doris had had to go home right after lunch so she tried to be very sociable
and kind to make up for the absent playmate.

"How would you like to make a new dress for Marie Georgiannamore?" she
asked.

"Make it now, instead of taking my nap?" asked Mary Jane who sometimes
disliked the hour of quiet that her mother had her take every afternoon. Of
course she didn't really nap, that is, sleep; girls as big as she didn't
need to Mrs. Merrill thought. But she did have to stay quietly in her own
room and look at pictures or rest which ever she wished to do. Usually Mary
Jane enjoyed the hour but sometimes she wished she could play straight
through the day.

"Oh, no," replied Mrs. Merrill smiling, "you will want to take your rest
the same as you always do. But when you get up, then we'll make Marie
Georgiannamore a new dress."

"And while we're making it," asked Mary Jane, "will I have to stay in the
house?"

"Why, of course, Mary Jane," replied Mrs. Merrill, "how funny you are! You
wouldn't enjoy my making a doll dress while you were out doors, would you?"

"No-o-o," said Mary Jane doubtfully, "maybe I wouldn't. Only I 'pect I'd
like it after it was done."

"Well," said Mrs. Merrill laughingly, "if you don't want a doll dress any
more than _that_, you don't want one very badly--that's certain! You run
along up to your room now and then, after you're dressed, I'll take my
bag of darning out on the front porch--I think it's plenty warm enough
to-day--and you may play in the yard. Would you like that, dear?"

"Oh, yes!" exclaimed Mary Jane, "that's just what I want to do. And may I
take the ant book upstairs?"

Mrs. Merrill said she could and helped her pull the big book out from the
shelves.

"If this is what you are going to look at," she said as she handed the book
to Mary Jane at the foot of the stairs, "better fix some pillows real comfy
fashion in the window seat where the light is good." And Mary Jane promised
she would.

The book proved more than usually interesting and Mrs. Merrill had to call
the third time before Mary Jane heard her and realized that her hour was
up.

"Wash your face and put on your pink smock, dear," called Mrs. Merrill,
"and then come out to the porch. There's a robin in the front yard and
you'll like to watch him."

Mary Jane scrambled her very fastest, which was pretty fast as you can
guess, and in about three minutes was out on the porch inquiring for the
robin.

There he was, big as life and busy as could be hunting his afternoon tea.

"Doesn't he know it isn't time for dinner till Daddah comes home?" asked
Mary Jane.

"He doesn't pay much attention to time," laughed Mrs. Merrill, "he likes to
eat all the day long. It makes no difference to him whether he eats in the
morning or afternoon."

Mary Jane watched him curiously as he pecked and dug and then she suddenly
exclaimed, "But he didn't eat it, mother! I know he didn't eat it! I saw
him fly away with it!"

"Then I expect he's carrying it to his babies," said Mrs. Merrill.

"Where are his babies?" demanded Mary Jane as she sat down on the porch
step to hear more.

"I'm sure I don't know, dear," said her mother. "I didn't notice which
direction he went, did you?"

"Yes, he flew around toward the back yard," answered Mary Jane quickly, "I
saw him. Does his whole family live in a nest like you've told me about or
does he have a hole and a city and everything like the ants in the book?'

"His whole family live in one nest," replied Mrs. Merrill, "the father
robin and the another robin and all the little robins--sometimes several of
them. It's pretty crowded perhaps, while the robin babies are growing, but
they like it. I expect if you go around to the back yard and watch, you may
see what tree Mr. Robin goes to with his worms. That will tell you what
tree his nest is in."

Mary Jane ran around to the back yard and that was the last Mrs. Merrill
saw of her till she called her to get ready for dinner some time later.

Mr. Merrill was late to dinner, but when he came Mary Jane asked him all
the questions that her mother had been unable to answer.

"Wait a minute!" exclaimed he. "Where did you see this robin that you're
talking about?"

"In the front yard and in the back yard," said Mary Jane, "both of them."

"Then I'll venture to guess that it's the very same robin whose nest I
discovered this morning," said Mr. Merrill. "I meant to tell you about it
but was in such a hurry to get away I forgot."

"Oh, did you see his nest?" exclaimed Mary Jane excitedly; "his really
truly for sure nest, Daddah?"

"That I did," replied her father, "and I'll show it to you."

"Let's go now," cried Mary Jane. "Won't you please excuse us, mother?" And
she slipped down from her chair.

"Too late now," said her father, "might as well climb back and finish your
dinner. You can't find a bird's nest after dark--and you can see that it's
almost dark now. You wait till morning and I'll show you that nest first
thing."

"As soon as I'm dressed, Daddah?" asked Mary Jane.

"Before you're dressed," promised her father, with a twinkle in his eye,
"you just see!"

Mary Jane was so excited she could hardly go to sleep that night and Mrs.
Merrill laughingly said that her dreams would likely be a circus of ants
and robins. But she must have been mistaken, because little girls who wake
up as bright and early as Mary Jane did that next day, don't waste their
nights a-dreaming.

"Daddah!" she called to her father in a loud whisper, "are you waked up?
Daddah!"

"Um-m," said her father sleepily, "what is it?'

"Did you forget the nest," asked the little girl, "it's light now."

"To be sure," replied her father, who by now was wide awake; "put on your
slippers and come over by my bed and look."

Mary Jane reached down from her bed, picked up her dainty slippers and put
them on; then she threw back the covers and hurried over to her father's
bed.

At the back of the Merrill home, upstairs, was a broad sleeping porch,
sheltered by wide eaves and completely screened. There, each in his or
her own little bed, father and mother and Alice and Mary Jane slept every
night. Of course each had their own room in the house, with a comfortable
bed for daytime rests, and stormy nights and the like; but almost every
night in the year all four of them slept out of doors. Just behind the
sleeping porch was an old apple tree and it was to this tree that Mr.
Merrill now pointed.

Mary Jane looked and looked and then, suddenly, she saw the nest! Set way
back among the leaves it was and on it was sitting the mother bird.

"I expect the father bird is getting breakfast for the family," said
Mr. Merrill, "and the mother is keeping the babies warm till they have
something to eat. You better get dressed now, little girl," he added,
"but you may come up here after breakfast and I guess that, if you watch
quietly, you can get a glimpse of the babies."

As quickly as breakfast was over, Mary Jane hurried back up the stairs to
the sleeping porch and, sure enough, the mother bird and the father bird
were both gone and those cunning baby robins--four of them--were stretching
way out of the nest! Mary Jane almost gasped at first she was that
surprised; but she didn't call out, no, indeed! She kept very still and
watched--and watched. And the longer she looked the more certain she became
that something was wrong.

"They do open their mouths so funny," she thought to herself. "I know, I
just _know_ they wouldn't open their mouths so wide if something wasn't
wrong."

She thought a few minutes and then an idea occurred to her. The robin
babies were thirsty--of course!

"I know how I felt that time we took too long a ride and I got thirsty,"
she thought, "and their mother don't know and their father isn't here
either. I'll just _have_ to get them a drink!"

But how to get a drink to four baby robins in the old apple tree--that was
a problem that Mary Jane couldn't figure out all at once. But she didn't
give up, no, sir! She thought and thought, and then she spied the hose
lying in the back yard.

The very thing!

Quick as a minute, she ran down the stairs, out the kitchen door and over
to the hose. Yes, just as she had hoped, it was attached and ready for
use. She ran up to the house wall, turned on the water (it took all her
strength, but she didn't mind that), took one good look up at the apple
tree to see just where the nest was, and then turned the hose that way.

But something didn't seem just right. Instead of liking it, and being very
still because they were getting a good cold drink, those stupid robin
babies chirped and cried and acted far from pleased.

"I know," thought Mary Jane, "they want it like rain," and she turned the
hose nozzle high and straight so that the water would come down on the top
of the nest.

But that wasn't any better or even as good as the first try; for the water,
instead of coming down on the apple tree, came straight and wet onto Mary
Jane herself! She was so startled that she screamed and dropped the hose
without a thought of the robins she had meant to help.

And then there _was_ a commotion! Mr. Merrill, who had come home for some
papers he had forgotten, came running around the house; Father Robin darted
out from the hedge and made straight for his nest; Mother Robin hurried up
from the pine tree in Doris's yard and Mrs. Merrill, tea towel still in
hand, ran out from the back porch.

"What ever is the matter?" she cried.

"I was just giving the baby robins a drink," sputtered Mary Jane, "and they
didn't seem to like it!"

Mrs. Merrill gathered her into her arms, wetness and all, and held her
close. "I thought something had happened to my little girl," she said. "You
must come in and get dry clothes on, dear; then I'll tell you more about
the babies and you'll understand why they don't like too much water."

"And _I'll_ tell you something," said father. "If you like to learn about
creatures and everything that grows, you meet me here at the back door step
at five o'clock this afternoon and I'll tell you a secret."

"Oh, goody!" cried Mary Jane, as she clapped her wet hands. "Can't you tell
it to me now?"

"I should say not!" said father importantly, "it's a secret! You'll have to
wait till five o'clock!" And he hurried off to his work leaving Mary Jane
to a day of wondering what might be coming--a pleasant sort of wondering,
for father's secrets were always jolly ones.




FATHER'S SECRET


Mary Jane thought that five o'clock would never come--never! She looked at
the clock and _looked_ at the clock and she asked mother and Alice to tell
her the time so as to be sure she herself wasn't mistaken in what the clock
said. But finally lunch time was passed, and rest time, and then Mary Jane
knew it wouldn't be very long till five o'clock.

"Now, I'm going to dress for my secret," she said when her rest was
finished.

"That's just what I came to see you about," said Mrs. Merrill, who came
into Mary Jane's room at that minute, "you'd better put on this little
dress." And she held up a little, old, dark blue morning dress--not at all
the sort of dress that a little girl would wear to an afternoon secret,
Mary Jane was sure of that.

"Why, mother!" exclaimed the little girl, "you don't mean me to wear
_that_!"

"I surely do," said Mrs. Merrill, pleasantly; "it's just the right kind of
a dress for this secret."

"But Daddah's secret is a _nice_ secret," said Mary Jane positively.

"His secrets always are," agreed her mother.

"And nice secrets ought to have nice dresses," said Mary Jane.

"Nice secrets ought to have dresses that belong to them," corrected Mrs.
Merrill. "We don't talk about things that are decided," reminded Mrs.
Merrill. "Put on the blue dress and come downstairs, Mary Jane. I'm sure
you will be glad--when father comes home."

So Mary Jane put on the blue dress, but she wasn't very happy about it; she
felt sure, certain all the time that she was dressing, that Daddah would be
disappointed when he saw her. And she began to wonder if the secret _was_
so very wonderful after all; it didn't sound so wonderful if an old dress
went with it--in the afternoon!

But even though she was disappointed and a bit doubtful, she went down to
the front porch and sat on the step where she could see father the minute
he turned the corner of Fifth Street.

"Isn't this a fine day to be out of doors!" exclaimed Mrs. Merrill,
contentedly. "See Mr. Robin out there, digging away for his family? He has
a hard time hunting worms in the grass. I expect he wishes we had a newly
dug garden around this place." Mary Jane looked up indifferently, just in
time to see a twinkle in her mother's eye. Did the twinkle have anything to
do with the secret? Mary Jane wondered.

"What would he do with a garden?" she asked.

"Get worms out of it," answered Mrs. Merrill.

"But isn't he getting worms out of the yard?" asked Mary Jane, looking out
to where the robin was industriously pecking at the ground.

"Oh, yes," said Mrs. Merrill, "of course he is; but see how he has to work!
Now if that yard was all dug up nicely for a garden, the worms would be
plain to see and all he would have to do would be to pick them out. Think
how much easier that would be."

Mary Jane didn't answer. She looked out at the robin, but someway, she
couldn't quite take an interest in his affairs; she was too busy thinking
about her own secret and how disappointed Daddah would be when he saw that
old dress.

And then, just as she was going to ask the time, she spied him coming
around the corner. And she forgot all about dresses and remembered only
the secret. Down the steps, along the walk and out to the street she ran,
reaching the curbstone just as he pulled the car alongside.

"Hop in and ride around," he said, gayly. And then, as she climbed in he
added, "Lucky you put that dress on. I forgot to tell you to be ready with
something old. Now that you are we won't have to waste time changing."

Mary Jane stared. But seeing he seemed pleased, she said nothing about all
her worries over the old dress.

"Do we have the secret in the car?" she asked.

"Dear me, no!" laughed father, "it's plain to see that you haven't guessed
what it is. We'll put the car in the garage and then, while I slip on some
old clothes to match yours, you may open that bundle in the back, there.
It's part of the secret."

Mary Jane peered over the back of her seat at the queer looking bundle in
the car. It was about as tall as she was, she decided, and bigger around
than her two hands could reach and wrapped in brown paper and tied three
times with very heavy twine. Now what could that be?

Father set her down in the garage and handed her the package and then
hurried off into the house.

She tried to pull the strings off but they wouldn't pull; there seemed to
be a bunch of the wrapping paper at one end and a hump inside the parcel at
the other. So she decided to run in for mother's scissors.

But just as she got to the back steps, she met father coming out--it hadn't
taken him long to get into old clothes, that was certain.

"Never mind about the scissors, Blunderbuss," said he laughingly, using a
name he sometimes called her, "I'll take my knife."

Just three slashes of the sharp knife and the strings were off. Mary Jane
opened the paper with shaking fingers, she was that excited. And what do
you suppose she found?

A garden set--a spade and a hoe and a rake all just the right size for a
little girl to work with and so pretty and clean and new that Mary Jane
knew that they had been purchased on purpose for her.

"Oh!" she exclaimed, clapping her hands and dancing around, "it's a garden!
I know the secret now! It's a garden! That's what mother was trying to make
me guess and I never thought! May I have one all my very ownest own?"

"That's the secret," admitted Mr. Merrill, "and the garden is for you
only--just as long as you take care of it. Now you take your tools and I'll
take mine and we'll see where this garden is to be."

They paraded out of the garage and over to where the last summer's garden
had been. "I've been meaning to get at this for a week," said Mr. Merrill,
"but I hate to work alone. If you'll help me, we can have the finest garden
ever. Now where do you want yours to be?"

Mary Jane looked around thoughtfully. There was the rose bed--she surely
couldn't have that, it belonged to mother. And the asparagus bed, it was
already showing shoots of green. "I guess I'll take next door to the
rose bed," she decided promptly, "because I like roses. Can I dig it all
myself?"

"Pretty soon," said father. "I dig first with the big spade. Then you dig
with yours. Then I hoe it--I'll show you how when we're ready; and you hoe
with your hoe." And he set to work.

"Then do the things just grow?" asked Mary Jane as she watched him.

"Not till we plant them," answered her father. "What are you going to
have?"

"Worms for the robin so he won't have to work so hard," said Mary Jane
promptly, "and a lot of flowers."

"I guess you won't have to worry about the worms," laughed Mr. Merrill as
he turned over a big spadeful of earth, "Mr. Robin will find plenty--see?
I'll make a guess that he's watching us from the apple tree this very
minute! Suppose you run into the garage and look on the table there. You'll
find packages of seeds. Bring them out here and we'll see which you want in
your bed."

While Mr. Merrill gave the earth its heavy spading, Mary Jane got the
bright colored seed packages and spread them out on the sidewalk. Then
as she spelled out the letters, her father told her what each package
contained. Lettuce and radishes and nasturtiums and carrots and candy-tuft
and--

"Here's one that's me!" exclaimed Mary Jane suddenly. She knew a very few
words and her own name was one of them.

"I thought you would find that," said Mr. Merrill, "so I bought that on
purpose for you. It's Marygold and you may have it in your bed, if you
like."

By that time the earth in her garden was turned and Mary Jane set to work
spading and hoeing just as hard as ever she could. She worked on one side
and her father worked on the other and very soon the earth was ready for
planting.

"Now," said Mr. Merrill, "while I loosen the earth around mother's rose
bushes, you make your trenches for the seeds." And he showed her just how
it was to be done.

[Illustration: "Here's one that's me!" exclaimed Mary Jane suddenly.]

Mary Jane never felt so big, and grown-up and important in her life as when
she made those trenches with her bright new hoe. She worked and worked till
they were neat and even and exactly right. Then her father stopped his
digging and together they opened three packages and planted the seeds. The
nasturtiums went in front, because they were the smallest plants, father
said; then the Marygolds that grow so straight and tall; and then, because
father said every garden should have something useful as well as something
beautiful, back of the Marygolds, a row of early lettuce.

Just as the last bit of earth was patted down over the last row of seeds,
Mrs. Merrill called from the back door that dinner was about ready.

"And we're hungry enough to eat it, aren't we, Mary Jane?" asked Mr.
Merrill. "You put away your tools and run in and wash while I tend to my
big ones and get myself ready. Let's see who's the quickest!"

How Mary Jane did hustle! She set her new tools in the far corner of the
garage and then ran skipping into the house.

"Scrub your hands good, dear," said her mother as she hurried through the
kitchen. "Wash your face and then run upstairs and get your blue smock and
plaid ribbon. Dark blue dresses are the thing for gardening, but we like
gay frocks for dinner, don't we, sweetheart?"

And yet, with all that washing and dressing, Mary Jane reached the table
first--that just shows how fast she could hurry when she was racing with
father. Or maybe it was because she was so hungry. For she had three big
helpings of her favorite mashed potatoes--think of that!

"First thing in the morning, know what I'm going to do?" she announced as
she ate the last bite, "I'm going to get Doris to see my garden, she'll
like my flowers, I know."

"You can get Doris," laughed her father, "but don't expect flowers in the
morning. It will take them ten days to peep out of the ground. But don't
you worry, you'll like to show Doris the garden before it grows."

"I will," replied Mary Jane, "I'll do it tomorrow."




MARY JANE PLAYS SCHOOL


"Mother, may I go over and get Doris this morning?" asked Mary Jane as she
finished her breakfast. "I want her to come see my garden right away!"

"Not to-day," answered Mrs. Merrill. "Doris has the chicken pox so you will
have to stay home for a while," And then she was called to the telephone so
she didn't notice that Mary Jane ran straight for the window that looked
out over Doris's yard.

"I think that's funny that I can't go over and see Doris's chickens," she
said to herself rebelliously as she peered through the window. "I'm going
to look, and look and _look_ till I see them anyway, so there! And then
I'll telephone to Doris." She curled up on the window seat and watched and
watched her neighbor's yard but not a sign of a chicken did she see. "I
should think she would have to feed them now," she said to her big sister
who was hurrying off to school.

Sister Alice didn't quite understand what Mary Jane said and was in too big
a hurry to stop and inquire so she merely replied hastily, "Maybe you're
too late for breakfast," and ran on to school. So Mary Jane still sat at
that window and still watched for chickens. Finally when her legs were
beginning to get pricky and she was about ready to give up, her mother came
into the room.

"Where does she keep it?" asked Mary Jane.

"Where does who keep what?" replied Mrs. Merrill, "and what is my little
girl doing all this time?"

"I'm watching to see Doris's box of chickens," said Mary Jane, "do you know
where it is?"

"Box of chickens!" exclaimed Mrs. Merrill in amazement, and then she
suddenly realized how Mary Jane had misunderstood her. "Doris has no box of
chickens, dear, she has chicken POX--it's a sickness and Doris will have to
stay in the house for a few days."

"Oh-h-h," said Mary Jane slowly, "so that's why I can't play with her."

"That's why," agreed Mrs. Merrill, "and now what are you going to do?"

"I guess I'll play on the porch."

"I guess _not_" laughed mother, "because it's beginning to rain. I'm afraid
you'll have to play in the nursery. Why not play school?"

"I'm going to," replied Mary Jane, who always made up her mind very
quickly. "I'm going to right now because Alice showed me how." And she
skipped off gayly to the nursery.

There she pulled out every doll she had and set them in a long row on the
floor.

"Marie Georgiannamore, you shall be lady-come-to-visit because you're the
biggest and you are clean and new. I'll be teacher because I know the most.
My sailor boy and Mary Jane, Jr., shall be the graduating class like Alice
is and all the rest shall be the baby room."

Such a bustle and a hurry as there was after that! Mary Jane got out
all her doll chairs, every one, and set them in two rows--one for the
graduating class (a very short row of two chairs) and one for the baby room
(a very long row of many chairs). She dragged out her little piano to play
the songs on and got out fresh chalk for the blackboard.

"There, now, I guess we're ready to begin!" she said and she sat down in
the teacher's chair up front.

For a while everything went splendidly. The sailor boy must have known his
lessons well for he received very good marks--right up on the blackboard
where everybody could see they were, too--and the teddy bears sat up
straight and minded the rule about no whispering. But the straighter the
teddy bears sat, the more particular their teacher became about the others.

"Tommy!" she announced suddenly (Tommy was the sailor doll), "I should
think you would be ashamed to sit so slouchy when this good little bear
sits so straight--sit up nice now!" She picked up Tommy and sat him
straight in his chair, oh, so very straight--that he couldn't sit still
that way, he just tumbled off onto the floor!

"Tommy! I'm ashamed of you!" she said firmly. "Sit up!" And again Tommy was
pulled up straight. But evidently Tommy didn't have as much back bone as a
sailor boy should have, for he tumbled right down again.

"Tommy Merrill!" cried Mary Jane, now all out of patience, "I should think
you'd be ashamed to have a teddy bear sit straighter than you do! I think
I'll sit you up on" (Mary Jane looked around the room to see where he had
better be put) "on this radiator till you learn to behave." So, without
giving Tommy a chance to explain that his back was made differently from
the teddy bear's back and that he was sitting just as straight as ever he
could, Mary Jane put him up on the radiator.

"There, now, you sit there for a while, Tommy, and if you're good I'll let
you come down at recess time."

But as it turned out, there wasn't any recess in school that morning. Tommy
had no more than been set up on the radiator before Mrs. Merrill called up
the stairs to Mary Jane, who quickly dropped her piece of chalk and ran to
the top of the stairs.

"Did you call, mother dear?" she asked.

"Yes, Mary Jane," replied Mrs. Merrill, "come downstairs at once. Somebody
is here to see you."

Mary Jane dropped the book and chalk at the top of the stairs and ran down
as fast as ever she could--somebody to see her often meant a very good time
and she didn't want to miss a minute.

"Dr. Smith," said Mrs. Merrill as Mary Jane stepped into the room, "this is
my little girl, Mary Jane."

"I'm glad to know you, Mary Jane," said Dr. Smith.

Mary Jane made her very best courtesy; held out her hand and then looked up
into the stranger's face and asked, "Why does she call you a doctor?"

"Why shouldn't she?" asked the visitor curiously.

"Because you're not a doctor," answered Mary Jane positively. "Doctors wear
funny white coats and rub their hands together and say, 'Well, little girl,
what can I do for you to-day?' doctors do."

Dr. Smith and Mrs. Merrill laughed and the doctor sat down in the big
Morris chair and took Mary Jane in his lap.

"I'm sorry to disappoint any little girl," he said pleasantly, "but,
you see, I'm on a vacation so I don't have to wear a white coat and ask
questions. I can sit down in this comfortable chair and have a good time."

"Can you make Tommy behave while you are having a good time?" asked Mary
Jane.

"Who is Tommy?" inquired the doctor.

Mary Jane told him all about the school and Tommy who had trouble sitting
up as straight as the teddy bears did.

"I'm afraid I can't do much for Tommy this morning," said the doctor when
she had finished, "for I'm only here between trains. But I'll tell you what
you might do. You might pack Tommy and all the bears into a trunk and visit
your great-grandmother. Then I could help you."

"My great-grandmother!" exclaimed Mary Jane; "she lives way off in the
country!"

"To be sure!" nodded Dr. Smith, "and so do I--I live next door to her.
That's the reason I came to see you. Now ask your mother to let you go home
with me and then we'll have plenty of time to attend to Tommy."

"Oh, no, we couldn't think of that!" exclaimed Mrs. Merrill, before Mary
Jane had a chance to say a word. "Mary Jane is much too young to go so far
from home without me and I can not possibly leave home just now."

Mary Jane looked from one to the other. A new idea, a brand new idea, was
growing in her mind; the idea of making a visit--it had never occurred to
her before.

"Does my grandmother live in a big house?" she asked.

"In a great, big, white farm house," replied Dr. Smith, "and she has lots
of chickens and pigs and cows and strawberry patches and milk and--well,
about everything a little girl could possibly want. And now she wishes a
little girl named Mary Jane Merrill to come and visit her."

"And could I have really truly chickens of my own--not Doris's kind of
chickens?" asked Mary Jane.

Mrs. Merrill laughed. "I guess you could, dear, but you mustn't think about
it because you are not going. I'm afraid you have made trouble," she added
laughingly to Dr. Smith, "because when Mary Jane starts thinking about
something, she doesn't easily forget."

"Never you mind, Mary Jane," said Dr. Smith confidently, as he set her down
and prepared to go, "you talk about visiting your great-grandmother all you
want to, and some day you'll get there--you just see!"

"Will I really?" asked Mary Jane after the guest had gone.

"Really what?" said Mrs. Merrill.

"Really go to my great-grandmother's where the chickens and strawberries
are?"

"Dear me, I don't know," replied Mrs. Merrill. "I know you'll not go till
you are way, ever so much bigger girl than you are now--that's settled. Now
run along with your school. I think Tommy needs you."

So Mary Jane went back to the nursery and played school. And being the kind
of a little girl who knew it was not polite to tease, she didn't talk about
the country--much. But she didn't forget--indeed, no! Not even when she was
having a good time with the surprise that came a few days later.




AUNT EFFIE COMES TO VISIT


Great Aunt Effie lived way off in New York City, so far away that she had
never before come to visit at Mary Jane's house. So, when one fine morning
the postman brought a letter saying that in five days Aunt Effie would be
at the Merrills, Mary Jane was quite excited.

"What does she look like and how long is she going to stay?" asked Mary
Jane and then, before Mrs. Merrill could answer she added, "Will she like
to play with me?"

"Don't ask me!" laughed Mrs. Merrill, "I have never seen her either. She's
your Daddah's auntie, you know, ask him."

"That's funny," said Mary Jane, "How can she be just my Daddah's auntie?
Isn't she yours and mine too?"

"To be sure she is," replied Mrs. Merrill; "she's our auntie now but she
was his auntie first and we haven't had a chance to see her since she
belonged to you and me. When father comes home this noon you must get him
to tell you all about the good times he and his brother used to have at her
house when they were little boys. Then you will know that you will surely
love her very much and that you'll want her to stay at our house a good
long time."

When Mr. Merrill came home for lunch he gladly told her about many of the
good times this same auntie had given him when he was about as old as Mary
Jane.

So no wonder Mary Jane was interested in the coming of their guest. She
helped clean the guest room and all by herself fixed the vase of violets
for the dresser. And then she put on her second best dress and drove with
her father to the station to meet the unknown auntie.

Mr. Merrill locked the car and then he and Mary Jane went through the
station and clear out to the tracks so they might see Aunt Effie the minute
she got off the train. Pretty soon the great engine with its long trail
of big Pullmans came snorting and puffing into the station; the porters
stepped off the cars but not a single passenger appeared--except one small,
lonely-looking little woman in black who climbed out of the last car.

"She didn't come!" exclaimed Mary Jane in dismay.

"Yes, she did, and here she is!" laughed father as he stepped up to greet
the little lady. "Welcome, Aunt Effie! This is Mary Jane come to meet you!"

Now Mary Jane had never seen her grandmother or any older auntie, at least
she hadn't seen them recently enough to remember them because the Merrills
lived many miles from all their kith and kin. So she was much puzzled at
the little old lady and far too shy to do more than to drop a nice little
courtesy as her mother had taught her to do. Then they all climbed into the
car and drove home.

Aunt Effie was tired from her long journey so she didn't talk much that
evening and Mary Jane went off to bed feeling not one bit acquainted with
the auntie she had thought and talked so much about.

"I don't believe she likes little girls," she thought sadly. "I don't
believe she even _saw_ me because when grown folks see little girls they
always say, 'How old are you, little girl?' and then they say, 'My! my!
you're almost big enough to go to school!' and she didn't say a thing to
me!" And she went to sleep thinking about how fine it would be to have a
really truly "play-with" auntie come to visit.

Aunt Effie hadn't come down to breakfast yet when Mary Jane had finished
hers so she started playing all by herself. "I think I'll play dress up
to-day," she said to her mother as she slipped down from the table.

"That will be fine," said Mrs. Merrill; "the attic is plenty warm and you
can play up there all you like to, only you must remember to put everything
away neatly when you have finished playing."

"I will, mother dear," answered Mary Jane and she kissed her mother and
started up the stairs.

Now up in the Merrill attic, off in a nice comfortable corner where it
wouldn't be in any one's way, was the girls' "dress-up box." In it were
kept all the clothes that Alice and Mary Jane were allowed to play with.
There were old coats and wonderful old hats that were so queer one would
never guess real ladies had worn them! And slippers and hair ribbons and
petticoats and shawls and silk dresses and morning dresses and parasols
and--oh, the most things you ever saw! Whenever Mrs. Merrill had something
that she couldn't use any more and that wasn't worth giving away to some
needy person, she put it in the girls' box. And whenever the girls, either
Alice with her big girl friends or Mary Jane with her little playmates
wanted to dress up or have a show they helped themselves out of the box--it
was great fun as you can see. Many a morning when Mary Jane was tired of
being Mary Jane, she slipped off to the attic and dressed up to be somebody
else.

This particular morning she hardly knew what she was going to be. She
pulled out a couple of gay hair ribbons, a pair of dark gloves and a
shopping bag. And the bag decided the play for her.

"I'm going to be Aunt Effie-like-I-thought-she-was," she said gayly, "and
I'm going to come and visit!" And then she set to work pulling stuff out of
the box and hunting just the right thing to dress in. She finally put on a
gay plaid skirt, a big black hat trimmed with a great pink rose, a yellow
waist and a red scarf. Then she pulled on the pair of gloves, picked up the
shopping bag and started for the stairs.

And who do you suppose she met coming up? Aunt Effie! The real Aunt Effie!

"Well, good morning!" said the real Aunt Effie smilingly, "who have we
here?"

Mary Jane looked long and carefully. She hated to take other people into
her games and then find out that they laughed at her. And she had learned
by experience that some grown folks never learn the game of "dress-up."
But Aunt Effie, the this-morning Aunt Effie, whose eyes looked rested and
smiling, seemed very much as though she might understand dress-up, very
much. Mary Jane decided to try her.

"I'm Aunt Effie come to visit," she said solemnly.

"Now, isn't that nice," answered Aunt Effie and she didn't seem one bit
surprised or amused or anything that grown folks sometimes are, "and who am
I?"

"Oh, will you play too?" cried Mary Jane clapping her hands happily.

"To be sure I will," laughed the real Aunt Effie, "that's what I came
upstairs for."

"Then you come over here by the box and I'll dress you up in some little
girl things and you can be Mary Jane," said the happy little girl. "Do you
like pink or blue sashes?"

Aunt Effie decided for blue and fortunately they found a nice, long blue
ribbon and a white dress of Alice's that was just the thing. Such fitting
and pinning and dressing and tying you never saw. And when it was all done,
Aunt Effie looked so much like a little girl that she couldn't help but act
like one and she and the "dress-up" auntie played together all the morning
long.

So much fun did they have that mother had to call twice to make them
understand that lunch was ready!

"Here, you show me how you want things put away, Mary Jane," said Aunt
Effie hastily when they finally heard. "Let's scramble them away so as not
to keep mother waiting."

"We'll put them right on the top in the box," said Mary Jane, "'cause we'll
want to play some more--lots!"

And they did, many times.




KEWPIE AND THE WASHING


One morning a few days after the dress-up fun Aunt Effie had to go down
town on some errands and Mary Jane was left to play by herself. She and
her auntie had grown to be such good play fellows that it was hard to find
something interesting to do without Aunt Effie to join in the fun.

"Why _don't_ you find something to do and then do it?" said Mrs. Merrill
after Mary Jane had made pictures on the window pane and rummaged through
the mending basket and poked her finger into the canary's cage and fingered
the forbidden little green balls on the ends of the fern leaves. "Little
girls can't expect to have a good time when they do all the things they
are not allowed to do. Go and play with Marie Georgiannamore, you haven't
played with her since Aunt Effie came."

"Will you play too?" asked Mary Jane.

"Not for a while yet, dear," replied mother, "because this is wash morning
and I have a new laundress to look after. Didn't you see her come around
the house when we were at breakfast? I have to go downstairs and show her
how we like our clothes washed and starched. Don't you want to go along?"

"Oh, yes, mother, I do!" cried Mary Jane happily. "I want to learn to wash,
too." Then she thought a minute. "But I believe I'd better take Marie
Georgiannamore along too--she's lonesome."

"I'm sure she is," answered Mrs. Merrill. "You run along and get her and
then we'll go to the laundry."

Mary Jane hurried upstairs for her big doll, but, though she searched every
place that a big doll ought to be, not a sign of Marie Georgiannamore could
she see.

"Mother!" called Mary Jane over the front stair railing, "Marie
Georgiannamore's lost!"

"Lost--no, surely not," said Mrs. Merrill and she started up the stairs to
hunt for the misplaced dolly. "Oh, I remember now, dear," she added when
she was half way up, "Aunt Effie took her clothes off to wash them and I
expect the dolly is some place in her room. Get your biggest kewpie and
come on, I can't wait too long."

Now Kewpie, the biggest kewpie, was the doll with the broad smile who slept
with Mary Jane every night. Other dolls got their hair mussed or their
clothes untidied or something; but Kewpie could always be depended on to be
neat and smiling no matter where he slept or what happened to him--a most
satisfactory doll to take to bed as you can see. Mary Jane ran into her
room to get him but her bed was all neatly made and Kewpie was nowhere to
be seen.

"Kewpie's lost too," called Mary Jane.

"No, he isn't," laughed mother, who by that time was at the bottom of the
stairs, "he must be right there, you had him in bed last night, you know."

Mary Jane ran back and poked her hand under the pillow; looked under the
bed; on the dresser and on the window seat. No Kewpie was to be found.

"You'll find him in a minute," Mrs. Merrill called up the stairs, "and then
you come down and meet me--I'll be looking for you, dear." And then she
hurried on to her waiting duties.

Mary Jane hunted and hunted but she didn't find Kewpie. She did find her
rag doll tucked back in the far corner of the closet and she began playing
with her and forgot all about Kewpie and the new laundress and even about
her own lonesomeness with Aunt Effie away. She had such a good time
dressing the rag doll in new clothes and going visiting with her and all
that, that she didn't notice mother when she twice peeped into the door to
see if her little girl was safe and happy. First thing Mary Jane knew, it
was lunch time--you know how quickly the clock does run round and round
when you are having a good time.

Now on wash day the Merrills didn't have their lunch on the dining table as
they did on other days; no, because they liked to do different things and
wash day is a very good day to be different. On that day Mrs. Merrill
fixed a tempting little tray for each person and left all the trays on the
kitchen table. Then each person as he or she came home, father and Alice
and Aunt Effie (and of course mother and Mary Jane who were already
at home, had trays too), went into the kitchen and got his or her own
tray--the trays could be told apart by the napkin rings marked with
initials--and carried it into the living room and sat down in a comfortable
chair and ate lunch. And afterwards, each person carried his or her own
tray back to the kitchen table. They thought that way of eating lunch was
lots of fun and Mary Jane well remembered how big and important she felt
the first day mother allowed her to carry her own tray (with the glass of
milk on mother's tray for safe keeping, of course) and to hold it on her
own lap like big folks instead of sitting up to the piano bench like a
baby! Mary Jane felt bigger that day than she ever had in all her life.

Just as she had picked up her tray and was going out of the kitchen on this
particular noon, the new laundress came up from the laundry. Of course that
wasn't so very unusual for Mary Jane often met the laundress in the kitchen
at noon time, but it was unusual to have the laundress step up and lay
something on her tray. Mary Jane had to hold tight to keep from spilling
something she was so surprised!

"I guess this must be yours, little girl," the laundress said, "I found it
in one of the sheets." And Mary Jane looked and saw her Kewpie that she had
hunted so hard to find.

"Oh, that must be my fault!" exclaimed mother. "I gathered the sheets up
in such a hurry this morning that I quite forgot to look for Kewpie--I'm
sorry!"

Mary Jane looked up at the kindly face of the new laundress, "Thank you
so much," she said, "and I'm coming down to see you after I have eaten my
lunch."

So as soon as she had lunched and had carried her tray back to the kitchen
table, she hurried downstairs to the laundry. That new laundress seemed to
know a great deal about little girls and to like them for she answered all
Mary Jane's questions and told stories and didn't seem to be bothered a bit
by having a little guest.

"There!" she said finally, "I'm ready to hang out. Do you want to come
along to the yard and hold the clothes pins?"

"I'll come pretty soon," said Mary Jane, and then she added importantly, "I
have something I want to do first."

"Come along then, when you're through," answered the laundress
unsuspiciously, and she picked up the heavy basket and went out of doors.

Left alone, Mary Jane slipped over to the wringer--that was the one thing
above all others in the laundry that interested her and she did want to see
how it worked. She turned the handle slowly three or four times, watching
the cogs as she did so to see how they fit into each other so neatly and
then so quickly slipped out again.

"I do think that's funny," she said thoughtfully; "there must be something
in there that makes them act so, I guess I'd better see what it is." And
slowly turning the handle with one hand, she stuck an inquiring finger in
between the cogs.

Of the few minutes that followed, Mary Jane never had a very good idea.
She knew she must have screamed with the pain of a hurt finger because the
laundress rushed in from the yard, mother came from upstairs and in a few
minutes Aunt Effie hurried breathlessly down the stairs. Then, before long,
the doctor was there too, and her finger was all tied up with sticks on
each side and father hurried in the front door and asked her how she'd like
a nice, long, Christmasy stick of candy. It all happened just that quick.

"I think things is so funny," said Mary Jane later as she luxuriously
licked her candy. "If Marie Georgiannamore hadn't hid and if Kewpie hadn't
gone to the washing and if I hadn't wondered about that wringer thing, I
wouldn't have had this candy that I've wanted for--for ninety-seven days."

"Yes," agreed the doctor as he went out of the door, "things is funny. And
my advice to you, young lady, is this; next time you want to see how a
wringer works, ask before you investigate. Another time you might lose,
instead of bruise, your finger."

"I will," nodded Mary Jane, "only I don't want to know how it works any
more--I know enough now, I do."




JUNIOR'S SHOWER BATH


It's very funny to go around the house with your finger tied up in a
bandage and two strips of wood--that is, it's funny the first day. By the
second day it's queer and after that it's no fun at all; it's a bother.

Long before Mary Jane was allowed to use her hand again she had decided
that never, _never_, NEVER would she poke her finger into anything. It
takes only a second to poke a finger in but it takes a good long time to
get a badly hurt finger well, she had learned that.

For the first three days Aunt Effie played with her all the day long and
that wasn't so bad. They played dress up and school and Aunt Effie showed
her how she had school when she was a little girl. And they made new
dresses for all the dolls; and straightened the drawers of all the doll
dressers and--well, they did every single thing that Mary Jane could
think of or Aunt Effie could plan. And then, without a minute's warning a
telegram came; a telegram which said that Aunt Effie must come home at once
because her sister was sick.

And after that Mary Jane was lonesome, oh, so very lonesome and she
couldn't think of half enough things to do to fill the days. For, you see,
Mrs. Merrill had her duties and father had to go to his work and Alice had
her school and Doris had the chicken pox so no one, much as they might have
wished to, could spend every minute of the day with a little girl who was
perfectly well except for a hurt finger. That little girl had to play by
herself a part of the time.

Mary Jane was standing by her mother's dresser, a couple of mornings after
Aunt Effie left, when the cleaning woman came into the room to give it its
weekly cleaning.

"Why don't you help here, Mary Jane?" suggested Mrs. Merrill; "you could
dust my dresser things with your well hand and lay each thing, as you dust
it, on the bed. Then I'll shake the dresser cover and Amanda will put
the dust sheet on the bed and everything will be ready for cleaning in a
jiffy."

If there was one thing above another that Mary Jane loved to do, it was to
handle the pretty things on her mother's dresser. Ordinarily she wasn't
allowed to touch a thing there, so she quickly replied, "Yes, mother, I'd
love to help," and then took the dusting cloth Mrs. Merrill handed her and
set to work.

She dusted off the pin tray and the toilet water bottle and brushed the
fringe of the lamp shade--she knew exactly what to do because she had
watched her mother many times.

"There, now!" she said in a satisfied voice, "it's all ready for the cover
cloth. Can you put it on, 'Manda?" Amanda Rice was the good cleaning woman
who came every week to set the Merrill house in apple pie order; she and
Mary Jane were fast friends.

"Jest a little minite, honey," replied Amanda, "soon as ever I gets this
rain room clean."

Just off Mrs. Merrill's room was a tiny room which opened also into the
bathroom and in this tiny room was a shower bath. Amanda insisted on
calling it the rain room because the water came down from the ceiling like
rain; and she always seemed to have a fear that something about that room
would hurt her. She was most particular to clean that room before she did
either the bathroom or Mrs. Merrill's room--she seemed to want the bad job
out of the way.

Perhaps when Mary Jane asked her to hurry with the cover cloth, Amanda
hurried a little too fast with her scouring of faucets or perhaps she was
just careless. However it happened, she turned on the cold water and it
poured over her from the ceiling in an ice cold shower.

"Heavens! Honey! Lor' a mercy! De water hit me!" she shouted and she ran,
dripping and screaming out of the shower room, out of the bedroom and down
the hall.

Mrs. Merrill came hurrying to see what the matter might be and Mary Jane
jumped to turn off the water before it should splatter out on the bedroom
floor. And then, while Mrs. Merrill was busy comforting Amanda and hunting
some dry clothes for her, Mary Jane sat down on the bed room floor to
think. How funny Amanda had looked with the water running all over her
clothes! Mary Jane, who had been used to a shower bath from the time she
was a tiny little girl, had never before realized how funny it seemed to
other folks. "I expect Doris would think it was funny," she thought. "I
wonder if she knows about it. And wouldn't Junior look--" but Mrs. Merrill
bustled into the room just then and Mary Jane had no more time for
thoughts.

Mrs. Merrill worked rapidly to make up for lost time. She shook the dresser
scarf out of the window, brushed off the window-seat pillows and finished
making the room ready for Amanda. "Now, dear," she said to Mary Jane when
everything was finished, "Amanda is coming in here to sweep, why don't you
go out and play a while with Junior? See? He's out in the yard. If you play
nicely, you won't hurt your finger, I'm sure."

Mary Jane didn't care much about playing with Junior just then; she would
far rather have stayed and help Amanda sweep. So she walked very slowly
down the stairs and out of doors and was none too cordial in her greeting
to Junior. But he didn't seem to mind and as it's very hard to keep on
snubbing a person who doesn't notice he is being snubbed, Mary Jane soon
gave it up and they began making mud pies. Nice goo-y mud pies out of the
black mud in the to-be-geranium bed near the house.

But hardly had they finished their pies and arranged them on the edge of
the porch to bake, before Junior's mother called him to come home.

"She's always calling you home," protested Mary Jane, "but I 'pose you'll
have to go or you can't ever come over here again!"

"Yes," agreed Junior, "I'd better go home. But I'll come back again." And
he started to wipe his muddy hands on his trousers.

"Oh, don't, Junior!" cried Mary Jane. "You know what your mother'll say!
She don't like mud pies anyway. Come into the house and wash 'em before you
go."

The two children skipped into the house and upstairs to the bathroom where
Mary Jane filled the bowl with warm water--then she thought of something.

"Do you like to walk out of doors in the rain?" she asked craftily.

"Yes," replied Junior in surprise, "only my mother won't let me."

"Don't you think she'd let you if it rained indoors?"

"I don't know, 'cause it don't," replied Junior decidedly.

"Yes, it does, it does at our house," said Mary Jane. "You stand inside
this door, and I'll show you."

Junior seemed to have some objection to closets so it took coaxing to get
him where Mary Jane wanted him. But when, on careful inspection, he
found that this closet had two doors, quite unlike other closets he was
acquainted with, and also that it looked very harmless, he stepped over the
high sill and onto the tile floor. Quick as a flash Mary Jane reached up
and turned on the water--and down came the deluge!

Water so cold that it took his breath away so he couldn't scream and then,
in a minute, so hot that it burned him, descended from the spray in the
ceiling and soaked him to the skin. Mary Jane sat on the door sill, in all
the splatter, and laughed and laughed. Junior grabbed for the door and
shook it trying to get out--just as Mrs. Merrill opened the door from her
bedroom onto the sight. Junior darted passed her and ran down the stairs,
dripping water and mud from his dirty hands on every step and screaming at
the top of his voice all the way.

"What in the world--" began Mrs. Merrill.

"We was just talking about water from the sky in the house," explained
Mary Jane innocently, "and Junior was surprised to see it come. I guess he
thought water from the sky in the house would be dry," she added.

"And I," said Mrs. Merrill as she took off her dusting cap and reaching
into the clothes closet for her coat, "will have to leave my work and go
over and explain and apologize. Mary Jane, you sit right there on that
chair till I come back and you can't have another little playmate over this
week--not one!"

Mary Jane sat down on the big chair and started counting the boards in
the floor. "One, two, three, six nine seven, ten," she said to herself
patiently. "Then if nobody can come to see me, I guess I'll have to find
somebody right in this house. I wonder--"

What did she wonder?--wait and see.




PLAYMATE DOROTHY


"You sit right there, Dorothy, and make yourself at home," said Mary Jane,
"and I'll get Marie Georgiannamore for you to play with."

"What in the world!" exclaimed Mrs. Merrill to herself as she passed Mary
Jane's door on the morning after Junior had had his shower bath. "Who can
be there now? I particularly told Mary Jane not to invite any children in,
this week." She opened the door and was already to say, "Whose little girl
are you?" as she usually did to new friends that Mary Jane brought home.
But this time there wasn't any little girl there! Only Mary Jane and her
dolls and her teddy bears playing as contentedly as you please.

"Oh!" laughed Mrs. Merrill, much relieved, "that's a joke on me, Mary Jane;
I thought you were talking to some new little girl. I didn't know that you
had named one of your dolls Dorothy."

"I was talking to a little girl," answered Mary Jane solemnly, "and I
haven't changed the name of one of my dolls--not one."

"Well, that's nice," said Mrs. Merrill, but she didn't pay more than half
attention to what Mary Jane said because she just happened to think of
something that she surely must order from the grocery as soon as she could
get downstairs. "I'm glad you are having such a good time." And she kissed
her little daughter lightly and went away.

"You'll have to excuse her, Dorothy," apologized Mary Jane, "grown folks
don't know much sometimes and I'm sure she didn't see you or she'd have
asked you to stay for lunch." She pulled two chairs over to the window
seat, got out paper and colored pencils and then sat down in one chair.
"Now you make snow on your paper and I'll make a picture."

For some minutes there was quiet in the nursery except for the sound of
Mary Jane's pencil rubbing, rubbing on the paper.

"There!" she said at last, "there's a cow and two chickens and a strawberry
like they have at my great-grandmother's that Dr. Smith told me about.
Let's see your snow," she added politely. She picked up the blank piece
of white paper that lay in front of the other chair and looked at it
thoughtfully. "You do make nice snow, Dorothy," she said, "it's so clean
and white. Now let's go down and see if lunch is ready."

When she reached the door of the nursery, she stepped back to let some one
pass out in front of her and as she went downstairs she was careful to keep
well to one side so that there was plenty of room for some one to walk
beside her. She went through the empty living room, through the dining room
and out into the kitchen where her mother was working.

"May Dorothy and I have our lunch?" she asked.

"Lunch?" asked Mrs. Merrill, and in her hurry she only noticed half what
Mary Jane said, "yes, in just a minute. It's almost time for father and I'm
so late. Will you run into the dining room, dear, and see that the chairs
are all set up to the table as they should be? That's a good little
helper."

Mary Jane hurried back to the dining room and set five chairs up to the
table--to be sure they were a bit crowded and so was the extra place
Mary Jane set with napkin, plate, glass and silver that she got from the
sideboard, but Mary Jane didn't seem to notice that, she was quite pleased
and satisfied with her work.

"Now you sit right here, Dorothy," she said, "and I'll sit beside you so
you won't be lonesome." She pushed her chair beside the vacant one and
climbed into it.

Father and mother and Alice came into the room one after another and each
exclaimed over the vacant chair.

"Who's the company?" asked father.

"Why the chair?" demanded Alice.

"I thought you knew how to count, Mary Jane," added mother. "Didn't you
know there were only four of us? You're a funny little girl!"

"I can count," said Mary Jane with great dignity, "and I know there are
four of us when five of us isn't here. But I had to have a chair for
Dorothy."

And then, for the first time, Mrs. Merrill realized that something was
going on in Mary Jane's mind--something new.

"Dorothy?" she asked kindly; "who is this Dorothy you have been telling me
about?"

"She's the little girl who comes to see me when you won't let me play with
anybody come to see me," explained Mary Jane patiently, "and I'm glad she's
here because I'm lonesome and I want her to stay for lunch because she's a
nice little girl and I don't like people to laugh."

Mrs. Merrill frowned at Mr. Merrill and Alice who showed signs of laughing
and then gathered her little girl into her arms. "Have you been as lonesome
as that?" she asked.

"Just as lonesome as lonesome," answered Mary Jane. "I'm lonesomer than
when nobody comes to see me because this time I know nobody's coming to see
me even if they wouldn't anyway."

"Why is she so lonesome?" asked Mr. Merrill who seemed to understand just
what his little girl meant even though what she said was a little mixed.
"Can't anybody play with her?"

Mrs. Merrill reminded him of Junior's shower bath and of her command that
Mary Jane should have no more guests till she had learned how to treat
them. "I've been too busy this morning to give any lessons in treating
guests," she added, "but I had planned to have a first rate lesson this
afternoon. I had planned to take Mary Jane calling with me; then she could
see just what good times folks can have and still be kind and polite. How
would you like to go calling with me, Mary Jane?"

"Really?" exclaimed Mary Jane who could hardly believe her good luck;
"really truly, grown-up-lady calling, mother?"

"Really truly," said mother, "but wait a minute. Do you think you could
leave Dorothy at home? I wouldn't care to take two little girls at once."

"Oh, yes," replied Mary Jane who was suddenly anxious to oblige, "I could
leave her home and I think maybe, while I was gone she might go away on the
train to--to--see her Aunt Effie, don't you think she might?"

"Indeed I do," said Mrs. Merrill. "It wouldn't surprise me a bit to find
her gone when we came back. Now eat your lunch, Mary Jane, and then we'll
go upstairs and rest a bit before we dress to make our calls. We'll have a
beautiful afternoon and you'll see just how nicely folks treat other folks
when they come to visit. And remember, dear, if you had treated Junior as
kindly as you treat Dorothy, you could have had all the company that came."

"I am remembering it," said Mary Jane meekly, "and, mother, may I wear my
pink dress with the smocking and the pink ribbons?"

Mrs. Merrill said that she might, so a very happy Mary Jane finished her
lunch and hurried upstairs to lie down for fifteen minutes in a dark room.

When the time was up Mrs. Merrill came to her door and asked, "Did you see
anything of my butterfly pin when you cleared off my dresser yesterday
morning, Mary Jane?"

"No-o-o, I didn't," said Mary Jane thoughtfully.

"That's funny," replied Mrs. Merrill, "I was sure it was there! Of course
I should have put it where it belongs but I can't see where it could get
to--I know Amanda wouldn't take it and you would have remembered, wouldn't
you, if you had put it anywhere?"

"Yes, mother, I'm sure I would," said Mary Jane positively. "I know I
didn't touch it, I didn't even see it once!"

"Well, I've hunted everywhere I can think of so I guess it's gone and I
would rather lose anything I have than lose that pin! Just see how big
ladies get punished when they are careless! I didn't put my pin away where
it belonged and now it is gone. But don't you feel too badly, dear," she
added when she saw how sorry Mary Jane felt for her; "it's time for us to
dress for our calls."

So Mary Jane quickly forgot about her mother's loss. She scrubbed her hands
and put on her own shoes and made herself all ready for her mother to brush
her hair and slip on the new pink dress. Then the very last thing, the hat
with the pink rosebuds was put on and they started out.

Such a good time as they did have! Two ladies they called on, and one must
surely have expected a little girl would come to visit because she had tea
served with sandwiches (Mary Jane ate three, two made with marmalade and
one with lettuce--think of that!) and pink candles which twinkled and
looked _almost_ as nice as the sandwiches. Such a _very_ good time did they
have that they barely got home in time to meet Alice as she came in from
school.

And playmate Dorothy must surely have gone away while they were calling
because she was never heard of again.




LEARNING TO SEW


"I like to do lady things," said Mary Jane the next morning. "Isn't there
something we can do to-day?"

"Something that's a 'lady' thing?" asked Mrs. Merrill.

"Yes, a really truly lady thing," explained Mary Jane; "something that I
don't know how to do 'cause I like to learn things."

"Yes, there are lots of things we might do, but I haven't much time I
fear," replied her mother, "because I promised Alice I would finish her
dress."

"Then you'll have to sew," said Mary Jane and though she tried not to mind,
she couldn't help being disappointed.

"Yes," agreed Mrs. Merrill, "I'll have to sew. But I'll tell you, Mary
Jane, what you might do" (and Mary Jane's disappointment vanished as soon
as she saw her mother had a plan) "you might sew too."

"Oh, goody, goody, goody!" exclaimed Mary Jane and she clapped her hands
gayly, "and that's a grown-up lady thing for true!"

"I should say it was," said Mrs. Merrill.

"Shall I make me a dress?" asked Mary Jane.

"Well, not just the first thing," laughed Mrs. Merrill; "folks don't learn
to sew on dresses--not even big ladies do that. Now what had you better
begin on?" And she thought a minute while Mary Jane watched her anxiously.
"Oh, I know! You can make a picture card."

"Sew a card?" asked Mary Jane doubtfully.

"Yes, it's lots of fun," said her mother.

"But Alice don't do that," objected Mary Jane, "she sews goods."

"I know she does now," replied Mrs. Merrill, "but she used to sew cards and
she loved doing it too. Only that was so long ago you know nothing about
it. I remember that just the other day I saw some pretty picture sewing
cards at the store; I'll go right to the phone and order some for you." And
she hurried off to get the order in before the first delivery started.

As she came back into the room Mary Jane asked, "Do I have to wait all the
time till the picture card comes before I begin my lady work?"

"It won't be long till that gets here," said Mrs. Merrill; "maybe it will
be here before we are ready because we haven't done our breakfast dishes
yet--that's a joke on us, isn't it?"

Mary Jane agreed that it was and in gay spirits they set to work.

Some folks might have said that a little girl Mary Jane's age was far too
young to dry dishes--that she might break them. But Mary Jane's mother was
not one of those "some folks." She believed that little girls not only
could help well, but that they liked helping. So Mary Jane had learned to
dry dishes some time ago and could polish the silver and shine the glasses
just as well as any one. Of course it might take a little longer than when
mother or 'Manda or Alice did it, but who cares about time when a job is
well done? And there was one thing about working with her mother that Mary
Jane especially liked; while they worked, they always talked--such fine
talks, Mary Jane thought, about everything that Mary Jane liked to talk
about.

This morning it was sewing, of course.

"How old were you when you learned to sew, mother?" asked Mary Jane as she
picked up a glass and began to shine it.

"Let me see," said Mrs. Merrill thoughtfully. "I was younger than you are,
I know, I wasn't more than three and a half or four years old."

"And did you sew on a card?" asked Mary Jane.

"No, because sewing cards for little girls to learn on were not made then.
Or if they were, my mother didn't know about them. I learned by making a
quilt for my doll bed."

"What's a quilt?" asked Mary Jane as she set her first glass down and
picked up another.

"A quilt is something like a comforter," explained Mrs. Merrill, "only it
isn't made so thick and heavy and the outside is made up of lots of little
pieces of cloth sewed together in a pattern. I remember my grandmother
Camfield came to visit us and she thought it was so dreadful that I--a
great big girl nearly four years old--hadn't learned to sew or knit. So she
hunted up my mother's piece bag the very first day she came and cut out
some blocks for me to piece. Funny pieces they were, too, Mary Jane, you'll
laugh when I show it to you sometime! Because the goods look very different
from the kinds of goods we see now, very different. I know one piece had
big red horse shoes all over it and another had horses' heads. Those pieces
were from my little brother's waists and were thought just exactly right
for boys in those days."

"Can't I make a quilt for my dollies?" asked Mary Jane eagerly.

"To be sure you can, dear," answered Mrs. Merrill, "only I think you will
find it more fun to learn to sew on those pretty cards I've ordered. Then
when you can handle your needle well, you can make a quilt just as I did.
There, now, we're through here," she added, "and if you'll clean the
bathroom washstand while I tidy the bedrooms, we can sit right down to
sew."

If there was one bit of housework above another that Mary Jane loved to do,
it was to clean the bathroom washstand; and she could do it beautifully,
too. Mrs. Merrill gave her a soft cloth and the box of cleaning powder and
she went to work. First she cleaned the soap dish; then she sprinkled a
little powder on her cloth (just as she had seen 'Manda do many a time) and
then she rubbed and rubbed the faucets till they shone so bright and clear
that she could see her hair ribbon in them. Next she sprinkled powder on
the stand and cleaned that; and last of all, she scoured the bowl. Then
she called to her mother (and this part was the most fun of all Mary Jane
thought) and watched while Mrs. Merrill inspected the work and said (as she
always did), "that's _beautiful_, Mary Jane! What a fine worker you are!"
Then she ran and put away the can of powder and the cloth and the job was
done.

This morning, just as the can was set in the closet where it belonged, the
door bell rang.

"Can you go, dear?" asked Mrs. Merrill. "I expect that's the delivery man
with your sewing."

Could Mary Jane go? Well, indeed she could! She rushed down the stairs as
fast as she could go and opened the front door in such a jiffy that the
delivery man jumped with surprise as she said, "Is it my sewing?"

"Search me," he answered, "it's a box." And he handed her the parcel.

"Oh, dear, then it isn't," said Mary Jane much disappointed; and she
turned and went slowly up the stairs--so slowly, that you would never have
guessed, from the time it took her to go up, that they were the same stairs
she had so quickly hurried down not two minutes before.

"It isn't it," she announced sadly at the door of her mother's room.

"Oh, yes, I guess it is," said Mrs. Merrill, and Mary Jane noticed that she
didn't seem a bit worried. "It must be, because I haven't bought anything
else. Come over here and let's see."

She pulled her chair up to the window and turned Mary Jane's little rocker
facing it. "Now, let's see what it is," she said; "maybe you'd like to open
it."

Mary Jane would. She pulled off the string, unfolded the paper--and what do
you suppose she found inside? The prettiest box you ever saw! On it was a
picture of a little girl, about as old as Mary Jane maybe, and some queer
looking cards, pictures of the cards, that is, and some gay looking colors
that appeared to be pictures of colored thread.

"Why, it _is_ my sewing, isn't it, mother?" exclaimed Mary Jane in happy
surprise.

"Looks like it, doesn't it, dear?" agreed Mrs. Merrill. "Suppose you open
it to be sure."

Mary Jane opened the box as it lay on her lap and the inside was even more
interesting looking, she found, than the outside had been. The box was
divided into three parts by tiny little partitions. In the biggest part was
a pile of cards with funny marks and holes that looked as though they were
meant to make a picture; and in the middle sized part was a pile of gay
colored skeins of thread; and in the littlest part was a paper of needles
with nice big eyes.

"Oh, mother!" exclaimed Mary Jane. That was all she could say, she was so
surprised and pleased.

"I thought you'd like that," said her mother. "Now, while I get out my
sewing, you look over the pictures and see which one you'd rather make
first. Then pick out the color thread you want to sew with and I'll show
you how to cut the skein and thread your needle."

Mary Jane looked once through the pile of cards and then again before she
could make a choice. She finally laid out one that had a picture of a
little girl in a big sunbonnet and another of a sunflower growing in a
garden. "There, now!" she asked her mother, "which shall I make? I want to
do both right away quick and see what they look like when they are sewed."

"Let's make the little girl first," suggested mother, "and make her wear a
pink sunbonnet just like yours. Then you can make the sunflower next and
the two together will be Mary Jane working in a garden."

That suited Mary Jane exactly; so the thread was cut, the needle threaded
(and that wasn't nearly as hard work as Mary Jane had feared it would be,
thanks to the needle's big eye) and she set to work.

Such a busy morning as they did have--Mary Jane and her mother! Mary Jane
liked sewing even better than she had thought she would and she worked
faithfully. So faithfully that by the time the clock said, "time to get
lunch"! the little girl with the pink sunbonnet was all finished and the
thread was ready to begin the sunflower.

"Ugh!" exclaimed Mary Jane with a big stretch, "we worked hard, didn't we,
mother?"

"Indeed we did," laughed Mrs. Merrill, "and now we'd better hurry down and
start lunch. I see Alice way down at the corner there and by the way the
girls are all talking together--see them, Mary Jane" (and she pointed down
the street where a parting between the trees allowed them to see a long
way)--"I guess Alice has some plan to talk about. Luckily we'll be ready
for her in a jiffy!" And together the sewing ladies hurried down to the
kitchen.




MAKING READY FOR THE PICNIC


Alice dashed into the house with a flurry of good spirits.

"Oh, mother," she exclaimed, "the girls say that the violets are out and we
do want to have a wild flower hunting picnic up Clearwater! May we? And may
I go?"

Mrs. Merrill dropped her work and looked up at her big girl in surprise.

"A picnic up Clearwater!" she said. "Is it warm enough for picnics? Oh" (as
Alice started to exclaim), "I know it is warm enough if a little girl has
been running home from school--I don't doubt that it is! But you must
remember that the ground stays damp a long time in the spring and that a
picnic usually means sitting around on the ground."

"Well, this wouldn't be a sitting around picnic, mother," said Alice
eagerly, "because we're going to hunt violets and you can't sit around much
if you do that."

"No, that's true," laughed Mrs. Merrill, who very well knew how Alice loved
to flower hunt through the woods. "Who are 'we' that you speak of?"

"Oh, Ruth and Marcia and Frances, of course, and maybe Virginia and Jane,"
replied Alice.

"And whose mother is going along?" questioned Mrs. Merrill, who always
liked to get all the information she could before making a decision.

"The girls all _hoped_ you'd go, mother," said Alice, proudly, "because
you're such good fun at a picnic."

"Jollier!" teased Mrs. Merrill. "What would I do with Mary Jane?"

"Why not take her along?" asked Alice. "She's getting big now."

At that, Mary Jane who had been watching and listening all this time,
dropped the napkins she had just taken out of the drawer and clapped her
hands happily.

"Oh, goody, goody, will you really, mother?" she cried. "I've always wanted
to go to one of Alice's picnics!" Which was perfectly true. You see, the
little group of girls of which Alice was a member, often had gay picnic
parties and always and always Mary Jane had wanted to go along. But always
and always she had been told she was too little to walk so far, or too
little, to carry her share of baskets or too little to--something; so she
had had to stay home.

"Take Mary Jane too?" asked Mrs. Merrill thoughtfully. "Why, yes, I guess
we could. I'll tell you what we will do, girls. We'll watch and wait and
see what the weather is by Friday noon. If it continues fine and warm for
two days, as it is to-day, I really believe we could have a picnic. Of
course the girls understand that it would be a 'start in the morning'
picnic? It's too early in the season for late afternoon picnics."

Alice assured her that a morning picnic was just what they all wanted. "You
see, mother," she added, "Sunday is Miss Heath's birthday" (Miss Heath was
the girls' teacher) "and we want to fix a big basket of flowers to give
her."

Never was the weather watched more closely than it was those two days. The
girls at school talked of nothing but the hoped-for picnic and the minute
Alice came into the house she had something to say about it. Mary Jane, for
her part, thought she simply _could_ not wait till the promised day came.
She sewed on her cards, she watered her garden and watched for the first
bits of green, and she played with her dolls, but with all those nice
things to do, the days seemed to drag by so slowly.

But at last Friday noon came. Alice rushed home from school to announce
what every one knew already--that the sky was clear, the air warm, and they
could surely have the picnic.

Mother met her at the door as she hurried up the walk.

"I did hope you'd come promptly," she said. "Mary Jane and I have lunch on
the table ready to eat and we want you to hurry and help us plan the picnic
eats."

"Oh, goody!" exclaimed Alice and she threw down her hat and sweater and
slipped into her seat at the table.

With the help of father and Mary Jane, the picnic dinner was planned. Each
girl was to take a basket containing her own sandwiches, a paper plate, a
knife, fork and spoon and cup; and then one more thing to eat--and enough
of that one thing for everybody. There was to be cake, and cheese and
pickles and fruit and eggs and many good things.

"And will Mary Jane take a basket?" asked Alice.

"Indeed she will," replied Mrs. Merrill, "and it will have something good
in it, you can count on that."

"Oh, what will it be?" asked Alice eagerly.

"It will be a surprise," said Mrs. Merrill, laughing. "No, there's no use
asking, it's a surprise! Now you run along so as to give these slips of
instructions to each girl before school begins." And not another word would
she say.

After Alice was safely out of the house, Mary Jane and her mother had a
good laugh over their surprise.

"Won't she be pleased?" said Mary Jane happily.

"And won't she be surprised!" exclaimed Mrs. Merrill. "I thought surely she
would ask to take some and then she might have guessed! Now, dear, you help
me clear up this lunch table, then you run upstairs and take your rest
while I bake the cake. After you are dressed, you'd better run down to the
grocery and order your surprise so they surely have enough on hand in the
morning. I'll write what you want on this slip of paper."

So Mary Jane, who always loved to help in big folks fashion, tidied up
the table. First she put away all the clean silver and napkins. Then she
propped open the swinging doors that led through the butler's pantry. Then,
with the way clear to the kitchen, she carried out all the plates and
glasses and cups that were to be washed. After the dishes were all out, she
shook the crumbs off the little blue doilies mother used for lunches and
put them away neatly in the drawer. Mrs. Merrill thought that was a great
deal of help for a little girl her age to give.

At three o'clock she skipped down to the grocery at the corner and showed
him the paper on which Mrs. Merrill had written the order for the morning.

"You tell her that'll be all right," said the grocery clerk as he looked
at the slip. "You can come down any time after nine and I'll have them all
done up ready for you, young lady."

Mary Jane walked primly out of the store; it always made her feel funny to
be called young lady. But the minute she was out of the clerk's sight she
ran as fast as ever she could, toward home.

"He says it's all right, he has plenty," she reported to her mother.

"That's good," answered Mrs. Merrill comfortably; "there's nothing like
being sure. You run to the kitchen now, Mary Jane. I left the frosting bowl
on the chair. You'll find a teaspoon in it and you can have any frosting
you can scrape out--it's white butter frosting, the very kind you like
best."

Mary Jane hurried off to the kitchen and found that mother had kindly left
nice little streaks of frosting all around the side of the bowl and oh,
dear, but it was good!

Alice came in soon and a pleasant bustling around there was then. You see,
it was the first picnic of the year and baskets had to be brought down
from the attic and dusted out; picnic plates and cups hunted up from their
winter storage places and everything made ready for the morning. Mary Jane
went here and there helping all that she could and having the happiest kind
of a time--for wasn't this _her_ picnic too? The very first picnic she had
ever had with the "big" girls!

By dinner time that evening, everything was ready as ready could be the day
before. Alice had her practicing done, mother had the grocery order for
Sunday made out and the baskets with their napkins, plates, knives, forks,
spoons and cups were set in a row on the dining room window seat.

Bright and early the next morning the two girls were up and ready to help.
Mary Jane tidied up the breakfast table and helped mother wash the dishes
while Alice did her practicing. Then the two girls made the beds and Alice
set the bathroom in order.

"Now, we're ready to make sandwiches," Alice announced.

"That's good," said Mrs. Merrill. "I think you can make those all by
yourself, Alice. Mary Jane will help you if you need any waiting on, and
perhaps she can wrap the sandwiches in oiled paper as fast as you make
them."

"Yes, I can, mother," cried Mary Jane happily. "I'll get the old scissors
to cut out the papers while Alice begins."

"Will you cut the bread for me, mother?" asked Alice. "You cut it evener
than I can."

"Gladly," replied Mrs. Merrill. "Then I'll skip up to the grocery with
my order so that things can be delivered in time, before we lock up the
house."

She cut the bread and set it in neat piles ready for the sandwich making;
then she hurried off on her errand and the girls set to their work.

Mary Jane cut the papers and chopped nuts in a chopping bowl and got the
lettuce from the ice box and wrapped up the sandwiches Alice made. She
could do that nicely--wrap them just as nice and neat as though they were
packages from a store. She set them at the back of the table ready for
the baskets; three nut sandwiches, three celery sandwiches, three lettuce
sandwiches and three jelly sandwiches all ready to be put into Alice's and
mother's and her own baskets.

"There, now," said Alice, as she made the last one, "that's four for each
of us and mother said that would be plenty with all the other good things
we'd have to eat. But, Mary Jane!" she added in dismay, "we haven't a
single meat sandwich! And I do love meat sandwiches! How could mother have
forgotten that?"

"She didn't forget it," said Mary Jane, "she--" And then she clapped her
hand over her mouth and ran out of the room for fear she'd tell the secret.

But Alice was so interested in her sandwiches that she didn't notice, which
was a very good thing as Mary Jane wouldn't have wanted her secret guessed,
indeed, no!

Mrs. Merrill came back from her errand just then and, meeting Mary Jane in
the hall she whispered, "I brought your package from the grocery, dear.
It's all wrapped up and hidden in the bottom of your basket." Then aloud
she added, "Now run along and get your wraps, Mary Jane, I saw Frances and
Jane coming as I turned the corner."

She helped Alice tuck the sandwiches in the baskets, one of each kind in
each basket; she put the big, beautiful cake in her own and the plate of
deviled eggs in Alice's and covered the napkins over the tops.

"Mary Jane hasn't anything to take in her basket but just her own things,"
said Alice suddenly; "she ought to have something."

"So she ought!" said Mrs. Merrill, her eyes twinkling, "but it's too late
now to get anything more; the girls are out front this very minute. I guess
we'll have enough to eat so don't you worry about Mary Jane's basket. You
start along out to the street and I'll lock the back door and join you in a
jiffy."

A jolly party it was that strolled out of the front yard! Each girl had her
basket covered most mysteriously with a fresh white napkin--it was enough
to make a person hungry just to look at them! Mary Jane, who felt a little
queer and important on being with the big girls for her first outing,
waited at the end of the walk for her mother and then they ran a few steps
till they joined the big girls.

"They don't know what they're going to do!" said Mary Jane gayly.

But, dear me, Mary Jane didn't know what _she_ was going to do! If she had
even guessed what was to happen to her before she came back home--but she
didn't and perhaps it was just as well she didn't; knowing might have
spoiled the fun!




THE PICNIC UP CLEARWATER


Clearwater was a pretty little stream that ran through the woods just west
of the city where the Merrills lived. And as the Merrill home was on the
west side of the city, the woods and the creek were not far from their
home. To reach Clearwater they only had to walk through the Campus just
west of their yard, cut through the fields back beyond and after a walk of
less than a mile they would find themselves by the bank of a swift running
creek of clear fresh water. And along the banks of this little creek grew
the loveliest violets and buttercups and Sweet Williams that could be found
anywhere.

Mary Jane held her precious basket firmly and walked along beside her
mother while the big girls skipped on ahead.

But when the girls reached the banks of Clearwater they waited till Mrs.
Merrill and Mary Jane caught up with them.

"Now keep your eyes open for flowers," called Alice as they started on
again, all together this time, "we don't want to miss any."

"What are we to do with them when we've picked them?" asked Frances as they
walked along.

"You won't get more than a bunch before lunch, I fancy," said Mrs. Merrill,
"so you can hold them in your hand till we find where we will eat. Then,
after lunch, you can dampen your napkin and wrap up the stems and put your
posies in the bottom of your basket. That is," she added slyly, "unless you
have a lot of food to take back home."

"Not much danger of that!" laughed Frances. "I could eat more than I have
in there right this very minute!"

So, laughing and joking and picking the blossoms they found as they walked,
the little party walked along the creek till they came to a bend where the
creek widened a bit and where some big bowlders made an interest looking
spot.

"This is the very place I was looking for!" exclaimed Mrs. Merrill. "I
couldn't recall just how far down the creek it was! Suppose we make this
our headquarters. Set your baskets on that biggest rock over there--that
will keep your food high and dry. That flat rock will be our table and
these two rocks here," pointing to two angle-shaped rocks that formed a big
V, "will be just right for making a fire."

"A fire!" exclaimed Alice. "What do we want with a fire?"

"Oh, I thought it might be fun to make one," said Mrs. Merrill
indifferently, "but of course if you don't care to--"

"But we do, Mrs. Merrill," interrupted Ruth, "I think it would be jolly."

"So do I," said Alice hastily, "only I was wishing we had thought of it
before and had brought along something to cook."

"But we can have the fun of making it anyway," said Frances and she started
off in search of kindling.

In a few minutes a brisk little fire was burning between the stones and
Mrs. Merrill added the sticks the girls brought her till she had a nice bed
of coals.

"Do let's eat now," said Marcia, "I'm starved! Then we can finish our
picking afterwards."

"It's only half past eleven," said Mrs. Merrill, laughingly.

"Who cares?" asked Ruth. "That's the fun of a picnic--doing something
different."

"Yes, let's," said Frances and Virginia together. So, as every one seemed
willing, the baskets were opened and the goodies spread out on a tablecloth
laid over the biggest rock.

"I love a picnic that happens before fly time," said Virginia as she spread
a tempting pile of cookies out where every one could see.

"We all do," agreed Mrs. Merrill, "and as there doesn't seem to be one
single prowler around, I guess I'll set out my cake." And of course the
girls "oh"-ed and exclaimed over its tempting whiteness as she set it on
the rock table.

"What have you in your basket, Mary Jane?" asked Frances.

Mary Jane looked at her mother and, as Mrs. Merrill nodded approvingly, she
laid back the napkin and gave each girl a long wire toasting fork.

"Well, what in the world, mother!" exclaimed Alice. "Did you bring
marshmallows?"

Mrs. Merrill shook her head and Mary Jane, without a word (though she was
trembling inside, she was that excited over her secret) picked up a big,
funny looking package and unrolled it slowly. The girls scented a secret
and watched eagerly. Slowly the paper unrolled--and then the white paper
inside and--there was the secret in plain sight!

"Sausages!" exclaimed all the girls in one breath, "sausages we can cook!"

"How jolly!" cried Alice. "You certainly did keep that secret well, Mary
Jane--I never even suspected."

"May we cook them right away?" asked Ruth. "I could eat a million!"

"Pass them around, Mary Jane," said Mrs. Merrill. "I expect you could eat
a good many, dear, but be sure to cook each one well before eating it--you
don't need to hurry, I think there are plenty!" she added teasingly.

The girls, each armed with a long fork on the end of which was speared a
sausage, gathered round the fire. Mary Jane had her own fork and her own
sausage, just like the big girls and cooked her sausage without burning her
fingers, which was lucky, as burns are no fun.

How good those warm sausages did taste with the fine sandwiches and pickles
and other goodies from home. But Ruth didn't eat a million after all--she
found three quite a-plenty; if she'd had more she couldn't have eaten any
cake and that _would_ have been too bad!

By half past twelve, there wasn't a scrap of anything left and every one
was saying that they had had just exactly enough to eat.

"Then I suggest we shake our crumbs into the creek," said Mrs. Merrill, "I
know the minnows will enjoy them. Then you can fix the baskets ready for
your posies and still have a good two hours left for picking."

So the napkins were shaken out and the baskets arranged in neat order on
the biggest rock and then every one ran in search of flowers.

"My, what a lovely bunch you have!" exclaimed Alice a little later as she
saw how diligently Mary Jane had been picking. "Miss Heath will like that,
I know."

"But Miss Heath isn't the one this is for," said Mary Jane quickly, "not
unless mother says so."

"Who do you want to give it to, pet?" asked Mrs. Merrill who happened to be
near enough to hear what was said, "your father?"

"No," said Mary Jane, decidedly, "Daddah will come out and get some
to-morrow, maybe. I want to send mine on the train--will they take flowers
on the train?"

"On the train!" exclaimed Mrs. Merrill. "Yes, they take flowers, but who do
you want to send them to?"

"My Aunt Effie," said Mary Jane. "I want to send my flowers to her."

"My thoughtful little girl!" said Mrs. Merrill and she put her arms
tenderly around her daughter. "I think that is a fine plan and she'll be
so glad to get them. You pick all you can and then after we get home, I'll
pack them in a box and Daddah will take them down to the station this
evening and put them on the New York train."

So of course, after that promise, Mary Jane picked more and more till she
had a fine big bunch of violets and buttercups.

But picking violets is tiresome work--that is, it is tiresome if you do
it for long. And it's not much wonder that after she had picked three
handfuls, Mary Jane decided that she had enough. She wandered back to the
rocks where the baskets were set and looked around for the others. All were
in plain sight, but they were scattered about, each one picking where she
thought the picking was best.

"I think I'll sit down here," said the little girl, "and fix mine so their
stems are all straight." And she sat down on the biggest rock close by the
edge of the creek--right at the bend where the water was deepest.

She spread her posies out on the rock and rearranged them so that the stems
were all tidy and straight. Then she happened to think of the crumbs that
were fed to the minnows. "I guess they's all eaten up now," she thought,
"but I guess I'd better see."

So she leaned out over the water to look. No one ever knew quite how it
happened--Mary Jane was sure she didn't lean too far, and mother and the
big girls, busy with their picking, didn't notice a thing till they heard a
scream. Then they looked up and no Mary Jane was to be seen!

From all directions they came a-running, Mary Jane's screams guiding them
straight to the big rock.

Alice and Ruth reached there first and without a word to each other or a
thought of their clothes or shoes, they slid down the bank and waded out
into the water.

"Don't be frightened, sweetheart," called Alice comfortingly, "we're
getting you!"

Alice grabbed her shoulders and Ruth took her feet and together they
scrambled up the bank and handed her into mother's out-reaching arms.

[Illustration: She sat down on the biggest rock close by the edge of the
creek.]

Then there was a hurrying for surely! Virginia and Ruth and Jane rushed
around for more sticks to build up the almost burned out fire. Frances and
Alice made a curtain of sweaters to keep off the winds while Mrs. Merrill
pulled off Mary Jane's wet clothes and rubbed her briskly with the old
tablecloth. Then Mary Jane sat in state, wrapped up in four sweaters, while
the "rescue girls," as Alice and Ruth were called, dried their shoes and
wet skirts.

"You brave girls!" said Mrs. Merrill as soon as she had time for a word. "I
am _so_ proud of you!"

"Pooh!" exclaimed Alice, "it wasn't deep a bit! See, mother, I'm not wet
above my knees!"

"All the same," said Mary Jane firmly, and it was the first word she had
said since they pulled her out, "water's wet! And it's lots colder than I
thought it would be and the bottom of the water's hard--so there!"

Everybody laughed at that, and then they all felt better--the scare was
over.

By the time Mary Jane's clothes were dry, everybody had a basketful of
flowers. Alice and Ruth straightened them all out neatly and tied them into
bunches while their shoes and stockings were drying. As the girls all lived
in the neighborhood, they decided to put the bunches in a tub in Alice's
basement.

"Then we can come over at eight o'clock in the morning and put them in the
gift basket and take them to Miss Heath's before breakfast," said Frances.
And so it was planned.

Alice and Ruth put on their shoes and stockings and Mrs. Merrill dressed
Mary Jane in her dried out clothes--and how funny they did look too--and
then the picnic started for home.

Mr. Merrill was just driving up to the house when they got back home and he
stared in amazement when he saw Mary Jane.

"What have they done to your dress and your hair ribbon?" he asked.

"_They_ didn't do anything but just dry it," explained Mary Jane. "I doned
it myself. I bent over to look at the fishies and the water hit me and
the bottom was hard and I got wet and Alice and Ruth pulled me out and
everybody dried me and will you please put my flowers on the train for Aunt
Effie?"

"Well, I'd call all that enough for one day," replied father. "It's lucky
the water wasn't deep--it's better to feel a hard bottom than none at all,
little girl."

"And will you mail my flowers?" asked Mary Jane.

"As soon as they're ready," promised father. And so the picnic ended.




GOING SHOPPING


"Well, what are we doing to-day?" asked Mr. Merrill as he finished his
breakfast. "This is a fine enough day to be doing something big and
important."

"I'm just going to play around," said Mary Jane, "I'd like to do something
big if you have it, Daddah," she added, encouragingly. "Could we go on a
picnic?"

"No more picnic for you this week, young lady!" answered Mr. Merrill. "I
should think you were wet enough last Saturday to last a while!"

"But that wasn't the picnic's fault," explained Mary Jane, in distress,
"that just happened, and I want to go on another picnic right away." To
tell the truth, she had been a bit worried for fear her accident of the
picnic would keep her father and mother from letting her go next time
somebody gave a picnic party and she did so hope it wouldn't make any
difference.

"I expect you do," laughed Mrs. Merrill, "and I'm certain your wetting
didn't hurt you any. Don't you worry, dear, you shall go next time there
is any picnic to go to. In fact, you and Alice and I may go on a picnic
to-morrow--but it will be a picnic of quite a different kind, I'll assure
you."

"Oh, mother! Do tell us what it will be!" exclaimed both girls.

"I was talking with Doris's mother last evening," began Mrs. Merrill, "and
she tells me that it's very satisfactory to go to the city to buy hats and
shoes. What would you think" (she asked Mr. Merrill) "if the girls and I
took the trolley to the city to-morrow and bought our summer outfits?'

"I'd think that was a fine plan," said Mr. Merrill, "and I'd say that
perhaps I'd go along if I was asked."

"Oh, would you, Daddah?" cried Alice. "That would be jolly. Then it's all
settled--we're going!"

"Talk about deciding in a hurry," teased Mrs. Merrill; "when do we start?"

"I have some business that I've needed to do for a week. Suppose we all
take the early limited that leaves at eight? Then we can have a good long
day and time for a fine lunch together."

That plan suited Mrs. Merrill and was agreed upon at once. "Only remember,"
she reminded them, "eight o'clock on the car, means everybody up early."

"I'll set the alarm for six," promised Mr. Merrill.

"And I'll do my two days' practicing today," said Alice.

"And I'll help, mother, truly I will," said Mary Jane.

"We ought to have no trouble getting off then," said Mrs. Merrill, "and I,
for one, think we'll have lots of fun."

That evening, every one laid out their clothes ready for morning; lists
were made out and then the girls were sent to bed a whole hour earlier than
usual so they would feel ready for the day's fun.

It was a good thing everything was planned before hand, for eight o'clock
came _very_ early the next morning--or so it seemed; and there was
considerable scrambling to get hair ribbons on and gloves buttoned and the
house all locked up in time for the car.

Alice had been to the city with her mother several times before; but this
was Mary Jane's first trip and she watched out of the car window with
great interest and was almost sorry when the car pulled into a big train
shed--the interurban station.

"You lady folks shop till one," said father as they parted, "and then we'll
meet for lunch."

Mary Jane thought she had never seen such big stores in all her life.
Fortunately mother decided to do some of her own and Alice's shopping first
and that gave Mary Jane a chance to look around and get used to things. But
finally Mrs. Merrill said, "Now it's your turn, Mary Jane. Let's look at
spring coats and then at play suits."

They got into the elevator again (and Mary Jane's heart took a funny
"flip-flop" every time it started or stopped) and went to a floor where
everything was for little girls. There seemed to be enough suits and
dresses for all the little girls in the world and Mary Jane was certain
sure that she could _never_ tell which she liked best. But mother and Alice
helped her and before very long they had bought a pretty little gray
coat and one pink afternoon dress and two pink and two blue rompers for
playtimes.

"There, now," said Mrs. Merrill as she looked at her watch, "that's all we
can do before lunch. It's time to meet father this very minute." So they
got into the elevator again and went to the top floor.

"This is the funniest store," Mary Jane told her father, who was waiting
for them as they stepped off the car; "they sell dresses and coats and
things to eat and everything right off of one elevator!"

"Think of that!" exclaimed her father as he piloted them to a table. "Well,
I believe I like the things to eat best--at least right now."

"What are you going to have?" he asked Mary Jane as they sat down and made
themselves comfortable.

"May I have anything I want?" she asked, "_anything_?"

"Anything at all," her father assured her.

"Then I know what I want," said she promptly, "I want chicken broth and
mashed potatoes and pink ice cream."

"That's what you're going to have," Mr. Merrill told the waiter. "I wish
Alice could make up her mind as quickly," he added teasingly, for Alice was
reading the whole menu from cover to cover before she made up her mind what
to order.

Mary Jane had her chicken broth while the others were deciding and then she
had a bit of mother's good fish to eat with the mashed potatoes which came
later. And of course the pink ice cream, a big dish of it, all for herself.

"Now," said Mr. Merrill, when they were all through, "I'm going to buy Mary
Jane a pair of white shoes and a pink parasol while you two finish what you
have on your list and then maybe we'll have time to ride out to the park
before we start for home."

"Oh!" cried Mary Jane, but that was all she could think of to say. Dresses
and a coat and lunch and a ride and shoes and a parasol--all in one day!
And it wasn't a birthday either, just a regular, every day sort of a day!

"Don't worry," laughed her father for he guessed what she was thinking,
"this is just once a year! Come on, now, and we'll get the shoes."

They went back to the children's floor and bought the shoes and the
prettiest pink parasol Mary Jane had ever seen and then, just as they were
ready to go and meet mother and Alice, a friend of father's passed by.

"Well, Tom!" cried Mr. Merrill, and he jumped up to speak to him. Mary Jane
couldn't hear all they said but from what she did hear, she guessed that
the man lived a long way off and that he was buying clothes to take home to
his little girl. "Sit right there, Mary Jane," Mr. Merrill called to her as
he walked off in the direction of the elevator, "and I'll be back in five
minutes."

Mary Jane looked around and up and down. She saw the wrapper girl high up
in her box between the counters. She saw the busy clerks and floorman come
and go. She saw the many shoppers--grown folks and children that passed by
her seat. And the more folks she saw, the lonesomer she became; sitting
there all by herself among so many folks.

"I don't think it's nice for a little girl to sit here in a big seat," she
decided, "I think I'll sit somewhere that I won't _show_ so much." And she
looked around for a quiet corner. Between the big cases that formed the
counters she spied just the place she wanted. A shelf down close enough to
the floor for her to sit on and quite out of the way of the busy crowd.

"That's where I'll wait," she said softly, "then I won't show while I'm
waiting for father." And she slipped back of the big cases while no one was
looking and sat down on the shelf. But the minute she got away from the
confusing noises and sights, she felt very sleepy, so sleepy that she could
hardly keep awake; so very sleepy, so very--

Father's five minutes lengthened out to ten and then his friend stepped
into the elevator and Mr. Merrill hurried back to his little girl.

"You must excuse me, dear," he said as he approached where he had left her,
"but I hadn't seen Tom in ten years and--" But there was no little girl
there!

Mr. Merrill called the floorman and asked about her. "I left her only ten
minutes ago," he said as he looked at his watch, "and she wouldn't run
off--I _know_ Mary Jane wouldn't run off. She must be here."

"We'll find her," said the floorman, easily, "she must be in some other
aisle."

They hunted up and down and up and down the aisles and they looked at many
little girls--the store was full of them. But not a sign of Mary Jane
did they see. Finally it came time to meet Mrs. Merrill and Alice so Mr.
Merrill, knowing that they would be uneasy if he was late, hurried down
to meet them and all three came back to resume the search that by now was
getting pretty anxious.

"There's no need of your hunting on any other floor," said Mrs. Merrill as
the floorman suggested that maybe Mary Jane had gone to hunt her father and
had lost her way. "I know my little girl and she's not far from where her
father left her. Show me where she was sitting when you left and I'll find
her--I'm sure."

Mr. Merrill led her to the very seat where he had left Mary Jane and then,
to the surprise of all the clerks and curious shoppers who had become
interested in the search, Mrs. Merrill didn't rush around and hunt as
the others had. Instead, she sat down in the seat as though she had all
afternoon and not a worry in the world. And then, sitting down as Mary Jane
had been, she began to look around. And the very first thing she saw was
the shelf, way back out of the way; and on the shelf, huddled down in a
sleepy heap, her own little girl!

How the people did stare as she jumped up quickly and hurried over to the
between aisle where no one had thought of looking. And how every one did
smile as she reached down and picked up Mary Jane--Mary Jane all sound
asleep!

The little girl opened her eyes and slipped her arm around her mother's
neck and then, as she noticed so many folks looking at her, she hid her
sleepy eyes in her mother's shoulder.

"Don't you be afraid, little girl," said the floorman, in great relief, "we
like little girls who know enough not to get lost. It was better to stay
right there and go to sleep than to run around and hunt your father. You
and your sister take this slip," and he wrote hastily on a scrap of paper,
"and go upstairs to the lunch room. Maybe a dish of ice cream will help you
to wake up."

So that was how it happened that Mary Jane had a trip and an adventure and
some new clothes and _two_ dishes of pink ice cream all in one day.




THE PAPER DOLL SHOW


Bright and early the next Monday morning Mary Jane went over to Doris's
house to ask if she could come and play. Fortunately the chicken pox was
all over and Doris was well and was allowed to play again. Mary Jane had
had so many things to do during the time that Doris had been sick and she
was anxious to tell about them. And she was oh, so very glad to have her
little friend to play with again.

"Come on over to my house," she urged Doris, "I can play all morning."

"Are you sure Doris won't be in your mother's way?" asked Doris' mother.

"Monday morning is a busy time, I know."

"It isn't at our house," said Mary Jane positively, "because _this_ day
isn't wash day to-day--it's just getting ready for my sister Alice's party
this afternoon and mother said we wouldn't bother if we played in the
nursery, so please do let her come."

"Very well," laughed Doris's mother, "if you're as sure as all that I guess
I'll let her go, but I should think getting ready for a party would be
_almost_ as much work as wash day! What are you going to play?"

"Paper dolls," said Mary Jane. "I have two, five new sheets and two
scissors that don't prick that my Aunt Effie sent to me and she said that
Doris could play with them too."

"That's fine," said Doris's mother much relieved. "I should think you
little girls would have a very happy time because you haven't seen each
other for so long. Run along now, Doris, and be sure to come home when the
big whistle blows for noon."

The two little girls skipped gayly across the yard, through the gap in the
hedge between the houses and onto Mary Jane's porch.

"Let's play here," suggested Doris.

"We can't," said Mary Jane, "'cause mother says if we play out doors she
don't know where we are so we must play in the nursery with all the windows
open and have a good time and not bother. So let's do that.

"And anyway," she added as they climbed up the stairs, "out doors is bad
for paper dolls so I'm not sorry."

They got out the five new sheets of paper dolls and the scissors and set to
work cutting. Now everybody who has ever played cutout-paper dolls knows
that the cutting out is the most fun. As long as there was a doll or a
hat or a parasol uncut those two little girls had a beautiful time. They
figured out which hats belonged to which dresses and they counted the
children on the five pages so they could be divided equally. But as soon as
the cutting was done, the fun was over and the girls didn't know what to do
with themselves.

"I'll tell you what let's do," suggested Mary Jane suddenly, "some of these
dolls have dress-up clothes like a show. Let's make a show in a box like
Alice does."

What Mary Jane meant was this. Some of Alice's friends liked to plan rooms,
and furnish them. And to do that they took a neat pasteboard box and stood
it on its side; then they lined it with crepe paper for wall paper. Then
they made furniture to match the color scheme (they were very particular
about color schemes, Mary Jane remembered that) and they dressed dolls in
crepe paper to match and put them in the furnished room. And, Mary Jane
thought this part was the best of all, when they were tired of one room,
they gave it to Mary Jane and made a new one for themselves.

It happened that only the week before, Alice and her best friend Frances
had made a beautiful little room, in a box of course, all done in green and
pale yellow. Later they had planned one in rose and had told Mary Jane she
might have the green and yellow one. It was this box Mary Jane meant to use
for the show.

"You just wait till you see," she said to Doris, "you wait till--" and
she dived into her closet, climbed up on the play box inside the door and
reached up to the shelf where she had put the box the girls had given her.

"What is it? Where'd you get it?" demanded Doris as the treasure was pulled
out.

"It's mine!" said Mary Jane proudly, "and we'll give a paper doll show like
Alice does--you just see!"

Doris had no older brother or sister to give her ideas so she had to wait
till Mary Jane explained her plan.

"First, we'll fix this up some way, they always do," began Mary Jane.

"But it's pretty now," objected Doris.

"Oh, yes, but we have to _fix_ it," said Mary Jane scornfully, "they always
do, they never use a box just as it is--never! Now what could we do, what
could go on top of a house? A roof, but what could we make a roof of? Or,
oh, I think we'll put on some clouds maybe, clouds ought to be easy, would
you like clouds, Doris?"

"On the top?"

"Yes, on top of the house where clouds belong."

"All right," said the obliging Doris, "I don't care which you make. But
where do we get clouds?"

"Let's ask 'Manda," said Mary Jane, "she's here to help make the party. She
likes me, maybe she knows where we can get some clouds." The two little
girls hurried down the back stairs to the kitchen, but Amanda wasn't there.
They were just about to go sorrowfully back to the nursery when Mary Jane
noticed something white on the table.

"Why, here are some clouds all ready for us!" she exclaimed. "I guess
'Manda must have known we were coming! You take all you can carry, Doris,
and I'll take the rest."

Doris plunged her hand bravely into the mass of beaten white of egg that
filled the great platter and Mary Jane tumbled all that was left into her
apron and they gleefully hurried back upstairs.

"There, now," said Mary Jane, "we'll make clouds all over our house and
then we'll have the show." But that show never was held.

For just as they left the kitchen, Amanda came back into it to finish the
cake she was making for the party and found that her eggs, the beautiful
whites that she had beaten with such pains, were gone!

"It sooly do seem queer, Mis' Merrill," she said to her mistress, "them
eggs was right here and then they wasn't here and eggs can't walk, kin
they--leastwise not when they's beat up?"

"No, eggs can't walk but little girls can," said Mrs. Merrill for she
suddenly recalled hearing mysterious sounds and giggles on the back stairs
a moment or two before. "I think I know where your eggs are but _why_ they
are gone, I can't imagine!" And she hurried up to the nursery. And there,
sure enough, were the eggs!

"What in the world are you girls doing with those eggs?" she demanded.

"Those aren't eggs," said Mary Jane scornfully, "those are clouds and this
is going to be a paper doll show."

"I don't know about a paper doll show, daughter," said Mrs. Merrill
seriously, "but I do know that those are the eggs which were to have gone
into the cake for Alice's party."

"Oh, mother, not really?" exclaimed Mary Jane, and the tears came into her
big eyes. "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to spoil the party, truly I didn't,
mother! We just wanted some clouds--anyway I did," she added honestly, "and
we went down to 'Manda and she wasn't there but the clouds were so we took
them. That's all. _Will_ it spoil the party?"

"I don't know what to think," said Mrs. Merrill, as she sat down between
the two little girls to think and plan. "Alice wanted that especial kind
of cake for her party but eggs cost so much these days--there were eight
whites on that platter, Mary Jane; I don't believe I can afford eight more,
really I don't."

"Oh, I can, I _can_, mother dear!" cried Mary Jane and quick as a flash she
ran to her little white dresser. "I can afford it with this and I want
to!" She pulled out her precious letter with a dollar bill tucked in its
folds--the dollar bill that her great-grandmother had sent her and with
which she was to buy something very special for herself--and handed it to
her mother. "Please, mother, let her have it with this!"

"Do you realize that this is your very own dollar that you are giving me?"
asked Mrs. Merrill, and Doris eyed Mary Jane's wealth with surprised eyes.

"Yes, mother, I know it is mine, mine that I was saving for a big doll, but
I don't want to spoil Alice's party, truly I don't! Please let me go buy
some more eggs for her cake!"

"I believe you really want to," said Mrs. Merrill, as she slipped her arm
around the eager little girl, "and I believe it's the best thing to do. You
didn't realize that you were taking something that you had no right to when
you took those 'clouds' for the doll house, did you, Mary Jane?"

"'Deed I didn't, mother, and please may we get the eggs now?"

Mrs. Merrill looked at her watch. "There will be just time if you go right
away, dear," she said; "come the back way and I'll give you a basket
to carry them in so none will be broken. And get eight, that's all you
took--I'll buy the yellows from you so you will still have a good deal left
from your dollar."

The two little girls skipped down to the grocery in a hurry but they didn't
hurry home--no, sir! They walked slowly and carefully so that not an egg
was even cracked.

And by the time they got home and gave Amanda the eggs and saw them all
opened and divided, the whites on a platter and the yellows in a bowl, the
big whistles blew for noon and Doris had to go home.

Mary Jane went with her as far as the gate and then waited under the little
mulberry tree till her father came home for his lunch.

"Well, this is fine," said Mr. Merrill as he tossed her up onto his
shoulder. "I like to see my little girl waiting for me. And what have you
learned this morning, pussy?"

"I learned that eggs aren't clouds and that they cost money," said Mary
Jane, "and I didn't spoil the party!"

"Pretty good for one morning, say I," laughed father, and he carried her on
into the house.




THE BIRTHDAY PARTY


The evening after Alice's party, Mr. and Mrs. Merrill held a long
conference and as a result a surprise awaited Mary Jane when she came to
the breakfast table the next morning.

"Do you know of anybody who has a birthday next week?" asked Mr. Merrill as
he kissed her good morning.

"I do, and I'm five years old," replied Mary Jane, "and that's pretty old!"

"Goodness! I should say it was!" exclaimed Mr. Merrill. "It's so old I can
hardly imagine it. And I think, Mrs. Merrill, something ought to be done
about it." As he looked solemnly across the table at his wife, his eyes
twinkled merrily and Mary Jane knew by their look that something nice was
coming.

"I'm sure I don't know anything to do about it," began Mrs. Merrill (and
Mary Jane noticed that her eyes twinkled too) "unless, perhaps, we might
have a party?"

"A party?" exclaimed Mary Jane, "a PARTY? A really for sure enough party
all just for me?"

"That is, of course, if you want one," added mother doubtfully.

"Oh, mother," cried Mary Jane and slipping down from her chair she gave
first her mother and then her father a big "bear" hug, "of _course_ I want
one! May I have it on my birthday?"

"To be sure," laughed Mrs. Merrill. "When else would a body have a birthday
party? Now you eat all your oatmeal like a good little girl and then you
help all you know how with the morning work and then we'll go down town and
buy some pretty invitations and favors."

Never did oatmeal vanish as quickly as did Mary Jane's bowlful on
that morning! And never did a little girl help so well with beds and
bathroom--really Mrs. Merrill hadn't guessed that a nearly-five-year-old
could do so much. So it wasn't quite ten o'clock yet when they made ready
to go down town.

"I'll be down in just a minute, dear," said Mrs. Merrill when Mary Jane was
all ready. "You run along and wait for me at the front porch."

Mary Jane walked down the stairs very slowly, and out onto the porch, and
out onto the steps, but still mother hadn't come. So, as she didn't want to
sit down and muss up her dress, she decided to walk once around the house
rather than wait on the porch. She walked past the hydrangea bed, past the
blooming bridal wreath and as far as the rose bed. And there she stopped in
amazement. For right there on the first bush, where it might easily have
been seen these many days by ice man, grocery man or any one who passed,
hung mother's handsome butterfly pin! Mary Jane was so surprised she didn't
even touch the pin, she stood there and screamed.

Mrs. Merrill looked out of the window overhead and asked what the matter
was.

"Come quick!" called Mary Jane. "Do come quick!"

Mrs. Merrill, too frightened to ask questions, hurried down the stairs and
out into the yard and--well, she was as much surprised as Mary Jane was
when she saw her pin hanging there on the bush. She grabbed it quickly as
though she was afraid it would vanish before her eyes and then she threw
her arms around Mary Jane.

"You dear child!" she exclaimed in a shaky voice. "I never thought of
looking there! The pin must have still been on the dresser cover when I
shook it out of the window and I was in such a hurry I didn't notice. I'm
glad you have such bright eyes. Now you wait one minute more and I'll put
this safely away and then we'll go down town."

Such fun as they did have down town! They bought pretty little invitations
with a picture of a little girl with a pink parasol in one corner; they
bought cracker bonbons with pink frills outside and folded up paper baskets
inside and they bought gorgeous big paper hats in all the gay colors.

And then, when they got home, they wrote invitations to five little boys
and to four little girls, Mary Jane was the fifth little girl, you see. And
then they began making things for the party. Alice made a game to be played
with paper balls; father drew a big teddy bear on a sheet and mother made
a big black nose for him, a nose that little folks, with their eyes
blindfolded, were to try to pin on in the right place. And Amanda planned
cookies and cake and candy. Never was there such a party for it was Mary
Jane's first, you see.

At last the birthday came (Mary Jane had begun to fear it never would for
the days seemed three weeks long, every one) and the house was set in order
and the time came to dress. Mary Jane was to wear her brand new dress with
the pink sash, a new one that her grandmother had sent on purpose for the
party; and her new white shoes that father had given her and her new silk
stockings that her great-grandmother had sent. She felt very old, and
grand, and grown-up when she walked dignifiedly down the stairs and into
the living room. She had looked in the glass most carefully and the glass
had told her that she looked just as nice as any little girl could and
quite grown-up too.

She stood just inside the living room door and her heart beat quickly when
Amanda went to answer the first ring at the front door--just think the
wonderful party was beginning!

Junior came first, naturally, because he lived nearest and Mary Jane
noticed that his pocket bulged in a most curious fashion.

"Of course you didn't have to bring me a present," she said calmly, "but if
you did, why don't you give it to me right away now, so it don't muss up
your pocket?"

Junior, who had been puzzling all the way across the street about how he
was to give Mary Jane that present, was greatly relieved to have the matter
so easily settled. He pulled out the be-ribboned package and eyed it
carefully while Mary Jane undid it and exclaimed over the beautiful new
party coat for Marie Georgiannamore. Mary Jane scampered back upstairs
to get the forgotten doll and the two children, and the others who began
dropping in were so busy dressing the dolls that they quite forgot
"company" manners and had a good time from the start.

[Illustration: There's no need to tell of all the good times at that
party.]

There's no need to tell of all the good times at that party; of all the
games and the fun; the scramble into the ten chairs at the candle lighted
table in the dining room; of the sandwiches which disappeared so quickly;
the ice cream in the shape of circus men; the big white cake with its five
pink candles and one white one in the middle to grow on--you know all about
that yourself because you've been to parties and know what fun they are.

When all the goodies were eaten up; when not a child could have eaten
another bite had the table been full again, Mrs. Merrill passed around the
paper bag favors and each guest put the candy he couldn't eat and the nuts
and the paper caps and the flower favors and a piece of the birthday cake
into his or her bag and then each bag was laid carefully by each little
guest's hat and coat ready to take home. And then the five little girls and
the five little boys slipped down from their chairs and ran out of doors
for a final romp.

It was a tired little girl that Mrs. Merrill tucked into bed that
night--but a very happy one. "I do think parties is the nicest things," she
said with a satisfied sigh; "they's the nicest things I know!"

Mrs. Merrill smiled and kissed Mary Jane good night. Mary Jane had had
quite enough excitement for one day so she said not a word about another
surprise that she knew was coming--a surprise that _might_ prove to be even
more fun than a party!




A LETTER AND A TRIP


Mary Jane slept late on the morning after the party. By the time she was
awake enough to realize that another day had come, she discovered that she
was alone upstairs. She ran to the top of the stairs and looked over the
railing. No one was in the hall and sounds from the dining room told her
that the family was at breakfast.

"I'll just surprise them," she said to herself, "and show them how much
a big girl like me can do." She ran back into her room and put on her
slippers and her kimono; she went into the bathroom and washed her hands
and face and brushed her teeth and then she slipped soundlessly down the
stairs. At the door of the dining room she stopped to get a good breath
with which to say "Boo-o-o-o!" and as she took her breath she heard her
father say, "Well, if you really think it's all right for her to go--five
years old seems pretty young to me for such a trip."

"Of course it would be if she went alone--I wouldn't even think of that!"
answered Mrs. Merrill's voice, "but with Dr. Smith to look after her and
Alice coming as soon as school is out--I believe it will do the child
good."

"So do I," exclaimed Mary Jane, darting into the room, the "booo" quite
forgotten.

"Now, you'll have to tell her," laughed father, "and of course she won't
want to go.

"Of course I will," laughed Mary Jane gayly. "Where am I going, mother?"

"Do you think you are old enough to go visit your great-grandmother Hodges
all by yourself?" asked mother.

"With my own trunk and my own ticket, and my own pocket book and my own
conductor?" demanded Mary Jane, who could hardly believe what she heard.

"With your own trunk and pocket book," said Mrs. Merrill, "but I don't know
about the ticket and the conductor because Dr. Smith is coming again and
he will take you back with him if we will let you go and trust him to look
after you on the journey. Do you think you'd like to go?"

"I don't think it, I know it!" cried Mary Jane, and she danced around the
table with her kimono flying out behind her. "Can I go to-day?"

"Hardly!" laughed Mrs. Merrill. "We have to buy you some strong shoes for
the country and make you some rompers to play with the chickens in and pack
your trunk and, oh, a lot of things before you can go."

"Well, a lot of things won't take very long because I'll help," said Mary
Jane eagerly, "see? I'll climb right up and eat my oatmeal without you
telling me to--that's how I'll help."

Mr. and Mrs. Merrill both laughed and Mr. Merrill, as he rose from the
table, said, "If you will eat your breakfast, just as you know you should,
every morning while you are gone, I really think I'll let you go." (For,
you see, Mary Jane hadn't ever liked her oatmeal.) And when Mary Jane
promised solemnly that she would, he said it was all settled.

Such fun as there was after that! Alice and Mrs. Merrill sat at the table
long after father left for work and they planned out just how many weeks it
was till Alice could go to the country too, and how many weeks there were
after that till Mr. and Mrs. Merrill could come for his vacation and how
many rompers Mary Jane ought to have and how many pairs of shoes and
rubbers and how big a sun hat Mary Jane needed. And then, after Alice had
gone to school, Mary Jane helped her mother with the morning work so they
got off very early for down town and the shopping.

And that evening, when father got home, he carried the steamer trunk down
from the attic and Mary Jane began packing.

By noon of the next day, she had the trunk so full of dolls and doll
clothes and teddy bears and books that it couldn't possibly shut and she
hadn't put in it one single thing to wear--not a single thing!

"You seem to think that there isn't going to be anything to play with in
the country," said Mr. Merrill when Mary Jane showed him her morning's
work. "Must you take all your city things? I should think you would leave
those here and play with grandmother's things while you are at her house."

"Will she have anything for a little girl?" asked Mary Jane in surprise.

"If she hasn't, you come right back home," laughed father, "but I don't
worry about that. I think she has more than you'll need."

So after lunch Mary Jane took all the playthings and the dolls out of the
trunk and put them neatly into the closet and that was much better for then
there was plenty of room in the trunk for clothes and for two mysterious
packages which Mary Jane saw her mother put in the very bottom. And it was
a good thing that she put everything away so nicely for at three o'clock
Dr. Smith telephoned that he was unexpectedly called home and could Mary
Jane go home with him that very night?

Mr. Merrill was phoned to and he said he would tend to the ticket and the
trunk check. Mrs. Merrill packed the trunk and Alice, who happened home
from school in just the nick of time, bathed and dressed Mary Jane for the
train. So that by the time Dr. Smith came out to dine with them the trunk
was packed and gone, the little traveler was dressed and everything about
the house was back in apple pie order.

Mary Jane was so excited she could hardly eat a bit of dinner but Dr. Smith
said it wouldn't matter so much because she could have some good fresh eggs
and two glasses of milk and some of Grandmother Hodges' corn bread for
breakfast.

It's pretty exciting to go off on the train at night and leave your father
and mother and sister. Mary Jane found that out; and she got a queer lump
in her throat on the way to the station. A lump that for some reason or
other grew bigger and bigger when father held her snugly as he lifted her
out of the car and that nearly made her cry when mother held tight onto her
hand as they went through the station.

But fortunately the train came in just then and with the seeing that the
trunk was really put on and kissing folks good-by and sending a message to
Doris and meeting the big jolly conductor and giving her hand bag to the
porter and laughing at Dr. Smith's funny jokes and all that--the lump
didn't get as troublesome as Mary Jane had feared it would. She got into
her section in time to wave good-by to the three on the platform as the
train pulled out and then, before she had a chance to feel lonesome, Dr.
Smith said, "Did you ever see them work a bed on a train?"

"Work a bed?" asked Mary Jane. "What's that?"

"Make up a bed, I mean," laughed Dr. Smith. "Did you ever see how the bed
works when it is made up? Here, Sambo," and the doctor held his hand high
and motioned to the porter, "this little girl wants to know how she's going
to sleep, she doesn't see any bed."

"She'll see in a minute, sir, jest a littl' minute," said the good natured
porter and he slipped off his blue coat; put on a white one; took down part
of the ceiling and, right before Mary Jane's astonished eyes, made up a
bed. Mary Jane thought it was most amazing. She watched every move he made
and decided that when she grew up she was going to be a bed maker on a
train because it was so much more fun than making beds at home.

When the bed was all ready, Dr. Smith helped her take off her shoes
and tuck them into a little hammock that hung over the window; then he
unbuttoned her dress and helped her climb into her berth bed. Mary Jane
took off her dress, hung it on the rack just as her mother had told her to
do and settled herself comfy for the night. But suddenly she remembered
that she hadn't told the kind Dr. Smith "good night." She fumbled with the
curtains till she got a crack open and through that she stuck her curly
head.

"Good night, Dr. Smith," she said when she spied him sitting close by,
across the aisle, "I'm glad I'm going with you and I like sleeping on
a train and I'm _very_ glad that you live next door to my dear
great-grandmother."

"I'm glad too," replied the doctor. "Now you go straight to sleep, little
lady, so you will have roses in your cheeks when you get to grandmother's
in the morning."

And if you want to know of all the fun and good times that Mary Jane had
with the pigs and horses and chickens and strawberries she found at her
great-grandmother's house, you'll have to read--

"MARY JANE--HER VISIT."





End of Project Gutenberg's Mary Jane: Her Book, by Clara Ingram Judson

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