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like a baby. Why, he would n't get down in time for breakfast if I did n't put most of his clothes on.” “That 's no joke, either,” retorted Laurie, “about you putting my clothes on. You 're wearing one of my collars and my best socks right now, and yes, sir, that's my blue tie!” “Wait a bit, partner! Where 'd you get that shirt you're wearing?” “That 's different,” answered Laurie, with dignity. “Mine are all in the wash. Besides, it 's an old one and you never wear it.” “I never get a chance to wear it!” “It must be very convenient for you,” said Mrs. Deane, smilingly, “to be able to wear each others' things. Polly, I guess there won't be any one else in for awhile; maybe they 'd like to see your garden.” Being assured that they would, Polly led the way through the back room, a pleasant, sunny apartment evidently combining the duties of kitchen and dining-room, and out to a little back porch shaded by morning-glories and nasturtiums that fairly ran riot over the green lattice. There was a braided rug on the floor and a small rocker and a tiny table on which were books and a magazine or two. The books were evidently Polly's schoolbooks, for they were held together by a strap. The twins liked that garden. It was n’t very large, for when the peculiar Mr. Coventry had divided the estate he had placed the high board fence very close to the little frame dwelling; but perhaps its very smallness made it seem more attractive. Narrow beds encompassed it on three sides, and a gravel walk followed the beds. In the tiny square inside, a small rustic arbor, covered with climbing rose-vines, held a seat that, as was presently proved, accommodated three very comfortably. But before they were allowed to sit down, they had to be shown many things; the hollyhocks against the back fence, the flowering almond that had been brought all the way from the old home in New Jersey, and had never quite made up its mind whether to die of homesickness or go on living, the bed of liliesof-the-valley that just would m't keep out of the path, and many other floral treasures. Nasturtiums and morning-glories and scarlet sage and crinkly-edged white and lavender petunias were still blossoming gaily, and there was even a cluster of white roses on the arbor, for, so far, no frost had come. The twins admired properly and Polly was all smiles, until suddenly she said, “O-oh!" and faced them reproachfully.
“You’ve just let me go on and be perfectly ridiculous!” she charged. “I don't think it's a bit nice of you!” “Why, what—how do you mean?” stammered Ned. “You have the most wonderful flowers in the world in California, and you know it!” she replied severely; “and you 've let me show you these poor little things as if–as if they were anything at all in comparison! I forgot you came from California.” “Maybe we did n’t tell you,” offered Laurie. “Anyway, your flowers—” “In California they have hedges of geraniums and roses climb right over the houses and orange-trees and palms and everything,” interrupted Polly, breathlessly. “Why, this garden must seem perfectly—perfectly awful to you!” “Don’t you believe it!” denied Ned. “Flowers and things do grow bigger, I suppose, out our way; but they are n't a bit prettier, are they, Laurie?” “Not so pretty,” answered the other, earnestly. “Besides, I never saw a geranium hedge in my life. Maybe they have them in some places, like Pasadena, but there is n’t one in Santa Lucia, honest. There is n't, is there, Ned?” “I never saw one. And palms are n’t awfully pretty. They get sort of scraggly looking sometimes. Honest, Polly, I never saw a garden any prettier and cuter than this is. Of course, some are bigger and—and more magnificent—” “Who wants a magnificent garden?” demanded Laurie, scornfully. “What have you got in the box, Polly?” Comforted, Polly smiled again. “That 's Antoinette,” she said. “Come and see.” Antoinette lived in a wooden box in the shelter of the porch, and had long ears and very blue eyes and a nose that twitched funnily when they approached. In short, Antoinette was a fluffy, smoke-gray rabbit. “She has a dreadfully long pedigree,” said Polly, as she took Antoinette out and snuggled her in her arms. “Has she?” murmured Laurie. “I thought it looked rather short.” “A pedigree is n’t a tail, you idiot,” said Ned, scathingly. “She 's awfully pretty, Polly. Will she bite?” “Of course not! At least, not unless you look like a cabbage-leaf.” “I would n’t take a chance,” Laurie advised. “Any one who 's as green as you
“She tries to eat most everything,” said Polly, “but she likes cabbage and lettuce and carrots best.”
“I wish I had a cabbage,” muttered Laurie, searching his pockets; “or a carrot. You have n’t a carrot with you, have you, Ned?”
“You’re the silliest boys!” laughed Polly, returning Antoinette to her box. “Let's go and sit down a minute.” And when they were on the seat under the arbor and she had smoothed her skirt and tucked a pair of rather soiled white canvas shoes from sight, she announced, “There! Now you can make up a verse about something!”
CHAPTER X POLLY ENTERTAINS.
“MAKE up a-what did you say?” asked Ned. “Make up a verse,” answered Polly, placidly. “As you did the other day when you went out. Don’t you remember?” “Oh!” Laurie looked somewhat embarrassed and a trifle silly. “Why, you see—we only do that when—when—” “When we have inspiration,” aided Ned, glibly. “Yes, that 's it, inspiration! have to have inspiration.” “I’m sure Antoinette ought to be enough inspiration to any poet,” returned Polly, laughing. “You know you never saw a more beautiful rabbit in your life—lives, I mean.” Ned looked inquiringly at Laurie. Then he said, “Well, maybe if I close my eyes a minute,_” He suited action to word. Polly viewed him with eager interest; Laurie, with misgiving. Finally, after a moment of silent suspense, his eyelids flickered and: “O Antoinette, most lovely of thy kind!” he declaimed. “Thou eatest cabbages and watermelon rind!” finished Laurie, promptly. Polly clapped her hands, but her approval was short-lived. “But she does n’t eatest watermelon rind,” she declared indignantly. “I’m sure it would n’t be at all good for her!” Laurie grinned. “That 's what we call poetic license,” he explained. “When you make a rhyme, sometimes you 've got to— to sacrifice truth for—in the interests of I mean, you 've got to think of the sound! ‘Kind’ and ‘carrot' would n’t sound right, don't you see?” “Well, I’m sure watermelon rind does n’t sound right either,” objected Polly; “not for a rabbit. Rabbits have very delicate digestions.”
“We might change it,” offered Ned.
“How would this do?
“O Antoinette, more lovely than a parrot, Thou dost subsist on cabbages and carrot.”
“That's silly,” said Polly, scornfully. “Poetry usually is silly,” Ned answered. Laurie, who had been gazing raptly at his shoes, broke forth exultantly, “I’ve got it!” he cried. “Listen! “O Antoinette, most beauteous of rabbits, Be mine and I will feed thee naught but cabbits!" A brief silence followed. Then Ned asked, “What are cabbits?” “Cabbits are vegetables,” replied Laurie. “I never heard of them,” said Polly, wrinkling her forehead. “Neither did any one else,” laughed Ned. “He just made them up to rhyme with rabbits.” “A cabbit,” said Laurie, loftily, “is something between a cabbage and a carrot.” “What does it look like?” giggled Polly. Laurie blinked. “We-ell, you've seen ayou 've seen an artichoke, have n’t you?” Polly nodded and Laurie blinked again. “And you 've seen a-a mangel-wurzel?” “No, I don’t think so.” “Then I don't see how I can tell you,” said Laurie, evidently relieved, “because a cabbit is more like a mangel-wurzel than anything else. Of course, it's not so deciduous, and the shape is different; it's more obvate than a mangel-wurzel; more—” he swept his hands vaguely in air, “more phenomenal.” “Oh, dry up,” said Ned, grinning. “How'd you like to have to put up with an idiot like that all your life, Polly? The worst of it is, folks sometimes mistake him for me!” “Yes, it 's awful, but I manage to bear up under it,” Laurie sighed. “How did you ever come to think of making those funny rhymes?” Polly asked. “Oh, we had measles once, about four years ago,” said Ned. “We always had everything together; measles, whoopingcough, scarlet fever, everything. And when we were getting over them they would n’t let us read and so we made up rhymes. I forget whose idea it was. I'd make up one line and Laurie would make up the other, or the other way around. The idea was to have the last word of the first line so hard that the other fellow could n’t rhyme to it. But I guess I only stuck Laurie once. Then the word was lemon.”
y “She died when we were kids,” answered Laurie. “I just remember her, but Ned does n’t.” “You think you do. You've just heard Dad and nurse talk about her. We were only four when Mother died.” Laurie looked unconvinced, but did n’t argue the matter. Instead he asked, “Your father 's dead, is n’t he, Polly?” “Yes, he died when I was eight. He was a dear, and I missed him just terribly. Mother says I look like him. He was very tall and was always laughing. Mother says he laughed so much he did n’t have time for anything else. She means that he was n’t—was n’t very successful. We were very poor when he died. But I guess he was lots nicer than he would have been if he had just been – successful. I guess the most successful man
“Yes. And I don't mind you calling him the miser, because that is just what he was. He was Mother's half-brother, but he did n’t act as if he was even a quarter-brother! He was always just as horrid as he could be. When Father died he wrote Mother to come here and he would provide her with a home. And when we came, we found he meant that Mother was to live here and pay him rent. She did n't have enough money to do that, and so Uncle Peter made the front of the house into a store and bought some things for her and made her sign a mortgage or something. When he died, we thought maybe he had left Mother a little; but there was n’t any will, and not much property, either— just the big house on Walnut Street and this place and about two thousand dollars. When the property was divided, Mother got the other heirs to let her have this as her portion of the estate, but she had to pay four hundred and fifty dollars for it. That took about all she had saved and more, and so we have n’t been able to do much to the house yet.” “It does n’t look as if it needed much doing to,” said Ned, critically. “Oh, but it does! It needs a new coat of paint, for one thing. And some of the blinds are broken. And there ought to be a furnace in it. Stoves don’t really keep it warm in winter. Some day we 'll fix it up nicely, though. As soon as I get through high school, I'm going to work and make a lot of money.” “Attaboy!” approved Ned. “What are you going to do, Polly?” “I 'm learning stenography and typewriting, and Mr. Farmer, the lawyer—he 's the one who got the others to let Mother have the house when Uncle Peter's estate was settled—says he will find a place for me in his office. He 's awfully nice. Some Stenographers make lots of money, don't they?” “I guess so,” Ned agreed. “There 's a woman in Dad's office who gets eighteen dollars a week.” Polly clasped her hands delightedly. “Maybe I would n’t get that much, though. I guess Mr. Farmer does n’t pay his stenographer very high wages. Maybe I 'd get twelve dollars, though. Don't you think I might?” “Sure!” said Laurie. “Don’t you let any one tell you any different. Did n't folks think that your Uncle Peter left more money than was found, Polly?” “Oh, yes, but no one really knew. The lawyers looked everywhere. If he did have
any more, he must have hidden it away pretty well. They looked all through the house and dug holes in the cellar floor. It was very exciting. Mother thinks he lost what money he had speculating in stocks and things. He used to go to New York about four times a year. No one knew what he did there, not even Hilary, but Mother thinks he went to see men who deal in stocks and that they got his money away from him.” “Who is Hilary?” Laurie inquired. “Hilary was a colored man that Uncle had had a long time. It seemed to me that if Uncle had had much money, Hilary would have known about it; and he did n't.” “Where is he now? Hilary, I mean,” added Laurie, somewhat unnecessarily. “I don’t know. He went away a little while after Uncle Peter died. He said he was going to New York, I think.” “You don't suppose he took the money with him, do you? I mean—” “Oh no!” Polly seemed quite horrified. “Hilary was just as honest as honest! Why, Uncle Peter died owing him almost forty dollars and Hilary never got a cent of it! The lawyers were too mean for anything!” “There 's a fellow named Starling living there now,” Laurie said. “His father 's rented the house for three years. Bob says he 's going to find the money and give it to your mother.” Polly laughed. “Oh, I wish that he would! But I guess if the lawyers could n't find it, he never will. Lawyers, they say, can find money when nobody else can! Is he nice?” “Bob? Yes, he 's a dandy chap. You ought to know him, Polly; he 's your nextdoor neighbor.” “Back-door neighbor, you mean,’ polated Ned. “I think I saw him in the garden one day,” said Polly. “His father is an engineer, Mae Ferrand says, and he 's building a big bridge for the railway. Or maybe it 's a tunnel. I forget.” “Is Mae Something the girl with the molasses-candy hair you were with at the high-school game?” Laurie asked. “Yes, but her hair is n’t like molasses candy. It 's perfectly lovely hair. It 's like —like diluted sunshine!” Laurie whistled. “Gee! Did you get that,
Neddie? Well, anyway, I like dark hair
better.” “Oh, I don't! I'd love to have hair like
Mae's. And, what do you think, she likes
my hair better than her own!”
“Don’t blame her,” said Laurie. do you say, Ned?”
“I say I’ve got to beat it back and get into football togs. What time is it?”
“Look at your own watch, you lazy loafer. Well, come on. I say, Polly, would your mother let you go to the game with me Saturday? That is, if you want to, of course.”
“Oh, I'd love to! But—I’ll ask her, anyway. And if she says I may, would you mind if Mae went too? We usually go together to the games.”
“Not a bit. I'll be around again before Saturday and see what she says.”
“I would n’t be surprised if she said yes,” remarked Polly. “I think she must like you boys. Anyway, you 're the first of the Hillman's boys she has ever let me invite out here.”
“Really? Bully for her! Wait till I say farewell to Antoinette, “most beauteous of rabbits!' What does she twitch her nose like that for?”
“I think she 's asking for some cabbits,” replied Polly, gravely.
“She's making faces at you, you chump,” said Ned, rudely. “Come on.” They returned through the little living-room, empty save for a big black cat asleep in a rockingchair, and found Mrs. Deane serving the first of the afternoon trade in the shop beyond. They said good afternoon to her very politely, and Polly went to the door with them. Outside on the walk, Ned nudged Laurie and they paused side by side and gravely removed their caps. “We give you thanks and say farewell, Miss
Polly. “The visit's been, indeed, most jolly!”