Изображения страниц


THE congregation of Euclid Avenue Church was not given to doing unusual things. Content with the good sermons it listened to each week, mildly approving its own component parts, and satisfied with conditions in general, it pursued the even tenor of its way, feeling that it amply justified its existence. If anything bewildering did arise, were there not Dr. and Mrs. Lynn, who knew the wise and tactful thing to do—and did it? Why worry the laity over matters obviously belonging to the clergy? There were times when, in the strict seclusion of the manse family, Barbie and Dayton expressed doubts as to the general worthwhileness of this complacency. “Our people never get anywhere,” Dayton once affirmed, pounding his assertion down on the study table with a belligerent fist. “They remind me of a merry-go-round—always riding and never arriving. Can't you stir 'em up,

Barbie shook her head. “He won’t try,
Date. He thinks they 're peaches and

cream. I wish he 'd turn me loose, once. I'd open their eyes to the way they impose on Mother. She camouflages the abuse out of sight, and not one human church person sees that she 's wearing herself to a hopeless frazzle.” “Hush, children! you are disloyal to our friends,” Mother told them. “When there is any ‘stirring' to be done, we 'll let you know.” But after all, it was the mother herself who did the stirring. She fainted quietly in church one Sunday morning in the very middle of a most carefully prepared sermon, and frightened her preacher quite out of his dignity and his pulpit, and her son and daughter out of their wits. In fact, she spoiled the service completely, and was followed across the churchyard by a stream of anxious parishioners, who knew that it had taken something very much out of the ordinary to make Mrs. Lynn interrupt her husband's “secondly.” Things, thus jolted out of their rut, began happening fast enough to suit even Dayton. It only needed Dr. Green's assertion concerning rest and change and congenial companionship to set the ball rolling. The “merry-go-round” ceased its rotary motion

and began to “arrive.” For the Euclid Avenue people loved their scholarly pastor and his gentle wife and proved it in substantial fashion. So it came to pass that one fine day Barbie stood at the manse gate blinking her vision clear as she tried to get one more glimpse of a certain vanishing motor-car. “There, it 's turned into State Street— that 's the last, Barbie,” said Mrs. Hale, cheerfully. “Now my dear, you are never going to give way.” Barbie blinked again with determination “I am not,” she remarked with dignity. “It 's the chance of a lifetime for your parents, and it would be sheer selfishness—” Mrs. Hale stopped as Barbie caught her arm and whirled her about. “Come on in a little while,” the girl begged; “just till I get my bearings. Whew —but is n’t this house an empty place? You ’d think all the furniture had been moved out, instead of only two slim people

[ocr errors]

“But—” Mrs. Hale was still intent on her argument. “You need n’t,” Barbie interposed. “I know every word and believe it all. It is simply dear of you church members to give my father and mother this six months' vacation and all that money to spend. I would n’t put a straw in their way, Mrs. Hale, not one rye straw. I don’t care if it is lonesome —they’ve never had any selfish good times in their devoted lives and I hope they are going to learn how. Don't you think I’m going to spoil things by wailing!” The neighbor leaned back, relieved. “That 's right, Barbie. You young folks have depended on your mother so completely, I thought you might feel a little blue over her absence.” “Not I. My work is cut out for me, anyway. My problem is Date.” “Problem?” “Yes, I'm afraid he is going to be hard to manage.” Mrs. Hale smiled. “Is n’t your brother old enough to manage himself, Barbie?” she asked amusedly. “It is possible he may think so.” “He will—he does.” Barbie nodded. “He 's the dearest old brother in the world, but he is headstrong; and I mean to curb him some, now that Mother is gone. He really needs it, Mrs. Hale.” “May I offer a bit of advice, Barbie?” the caller asked slowly. “Be just a little careful

ful, though, when it strikes in, as Mother's did, and scares the whole town pale.” “You must agree that it was n’t dear Mrs. Lynn's patience that hurt her, but other folks' stupidity,” said Mrs. Hale, warmly. “You are going to get


in the curbing operation. Patience accomplishes so much more than fault-finding— it is a virtue that may be worked to the limit without fear of harm. It helps over lots of hard places.” “I know it does,” Barbie conceded. “I ought to know it, after seeing it exemplified every day of my life. Its benefits are doubt

on splendidly, dear, only remember that Dayton is pretty sure to be right some of the time—” “And I 'm equally sure to be wrong some of the time? Maybe. Well, if I can make waffles as good as Mother's, I shall possess a reward of merit and a weapon of defense, all at once. Mrs. Hale, that twin of mine is a perfect waffle-fiend, if you 'll believe it.” The visitor laughed gaily. “If that 's his worst fault, your work is easy,” she declared. “If you run out of buttermilk, let me know. For pity's sake, give the lad his waffles!” “She thought I was priggish about Date,” Barbie said to herself when she was alone; “but I do feel responsible in a way, and Mother meant Ishould when she told me this morning to look out for my brother. Queer her advice and Mrs. Hale's were so similar! After a double dose of warning to be patient, I ought to equal Job himself. Wonder where Date is—it 's time he was home.” It was a full hour later when the tall lad came swinging in. “Lonesome, Barb?” he asked. “No end sorry to be gone so long, but I’ve been out on business. Behold before you a man of affairs, Miss Lynn. I'm nobody's school kid from this day forth.” “Dayton Lynn, you never have—” “Yes, my dear sister, you are mistaken. I have, this very day, accepted a position, as the drummers' journals say, with our city gas and electric company. My daily time from eight-thirty A. M. to four-thirty P. M. is hereafter to be exchanged for the coin of the realm. Is n’t it great?” “That 's fine. It 's only for vacation, of course.” There was a note of anxiety in


take things easier hereafter or we 'll have him collapsing as Mother did. No use. Get me?” “It will collapse him a good deal quicker to have you disappoint him—” “Now, Sis, it 's no good arguing. My mind is made up. Better change the subject if you can't agree with me.”


Barbie's voice and Dayton answered it squarely: “It's for good and all. I refuse to go to school and let Dad work his head off taking care of me any longer, from this day forth.” “They will never let you,” Barbie began severely, then stopped as her brother lifted his hand. “They are not to be bothered about it till they come back. Understand? Not a word. I'll have time in six months to prove I’m right and a little pile of cold cash saved up with which to emphasize my argument. College educations are all to the good for those who can afford 'em, but Dad needs to

Barbie flushed hotly and an angry retort trembled on her tongue, but she held it back. “It looks like working patience almost past its limit to let Date do what I know he ought n’t,” she thought; “but if his mind is made up, he won’t listen to me.”

“Not a word about this when you write, remember,” Dayton said, again.

She tried to speak naturally. “I 'm no telltale, brother mine.” “No, you ’re a trump, Barb.” The boy's

face cleared. “It 'll be some fun, believe me, to have a fist full of greenbacks to dispose of as one chooses. Say, Sis, what do you want for your birthday?”


For one flying moment, Barbie forgot her position as mentor. “Oh, Date, if I could have a class ring, I 'd be the happiest girl alive. All the rest are to have them—a sort of filagree setting around our class monogram in blue enamel. I 've been just sick because I knew I ought n’t to think of having one.” Dayton laughed, “Girls are queer,” he remarked into space; “getting sick over a gewgaw like that! Now if it was a firstclass fishing outfit, there might be some sense in it. Sis, I'm not making promises, but I don’t think you 'll be sorry that I “accepted a position' when the glad day heaves in sight. What time will supper be ready? No use asking for waffles to-night, I suppose?” “No, there are fresh rolls. I 'll make them for breakfast, Date. I hope they'll be good.” “These are good, all right,” Dayton assured the young cook next morning, as he sampled the products of her skill. “They're good as Mother's and that 's going some. I could eat six more if I had time, but we men of business—ahem!” Barbie sighed as the gate clicked after him. “It will take more than even my class ring to make me sure I’m doing right,” she said to herself. “Father and Mother are going to be dreadfully grieved if Date does n’t go back to school in September. Dad has tried to have him understand how much more important his education is than any little money he can earn now. I hate to tell tales, and besides, Mother must not be worried about anything—and Daddy could n’t any more keep it from her, if he knew it, than a-a fish could help swimming.” She giggled a little over her metaphor, realizing its imperfections, then sighed again. “Oh dear, life 's awfully perplexing sometimes!” In spite of which fact, the days flew by. As housekeeper and home-maker, Barbie found her hands full, vacation though it was; for even with the heads of the house away, the manse was a place of many interruptions. Dayton became immediately engrossed in his new “job,” and began at once to converse in terms of “kilowatts” and “candle-power.” As for his sister, her natural interest in what concerned her twin brother was modified by her conviction that Dayton ought to be using the days according to the plan his father had arranged; and this, in turn, was seen through the haze of her desire for the coveted ring, which Dayton's salary would

make it possible to gratify. As a sort of concession to his labors toward this desirable end, she concocted waffles morning after morning. “It does n’t matter whether it's sugar you put on 'em or honey or syrup—or even plain butter,” he said one day. “You can't spoil a good waffle—and yours are crackin' good, Sis. Never mind—something 's going to happen one of these fine days that 'll show whether I appreciate your efforts!” Barbie thrilled happily. “I wonder if I ought to let him get it,” she said to herself. “It does seem like extravagance, but it won't be using any money we 'd counted on for other things.” Once she began a conscientious protest, but it was loftily waved away. “It 'll be your birthday, but it 'll be my stunt, so let it go at that,” he said. “It is dear of him—and how I have wanted it!” Barbie reflected. “I really did n’t think I'd ever have it while there were always so many needy people coming to the manse for every spare penny. I have n’t encouraged Date, but if he just will get it, how can I help it? Oh, I am so happy.” It was a queer bundle that lay on her plate that birthday morning—not in the least like a ring box. And how very heavy it was! Dayton watched her as she untied and unwrapped it. His eyes were shining and his lips were smiling. “She’s a dandy, Barb. I knew you’d be surprised,” he said, as the last wrapper came off, disclosing in all its newness—an electric waffle-iron! “Saw 'em down at the place just after I started to work, and spotted this one then and there. No more chasing back and forth to the kitchen with those little brown disks!” announced the donor. . Barbie held back her tears of disappointment. “It 's a beauty, Date,” she said steadily. “I hope my waffles will be good enough to justify the expense.” “The expense is my end of the game,” Dayton told her. “Glad you like it, Sis. Are n’t so sorry now that your brother's a man of affairs?” “It 's a beauty, Date,” she said again. “Thank you, ever so much.” “I acted patient,” she sobbed to herself after he had gone; “but I did n’t feel patient one bit. I hope Mother will be gladder of a new waffle-baker than I am. I wonder if it has become easy for Mother to be always patient—I think it's awfully hard myself.” There was at least one member of the manse family who appreciated the birthday


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »