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- - T - o - - 'T was a logical view and bound to tell; - o The judges they hemmed and hawed. - - They said, “Mm-mm " and they said, “Well, o - well _o This case had never a parallel: / But since he loudly claims to excel,
§ Hilt LADYof the LANE
THough Elizabeth made no mention of the party at school on Monday, it was clear that, among the other girls, the two affairs were being discussed in whispers. Some of them talked freely with Nance, and she did not hesitate to paint in glowing colors the success of the party in the house by the lane. On the whole, however, most of the girls appeared rather sheepish, and avoided the subject. That afternoon Elizabeth was very much surprised to receive a call from Miss Winthrop. “Elizabeth,” the latter began abruptly, “I 've come to apologize.” “For what?” asked Flizabeth. “For joining in Helen's plan, which was meant to hurt you,” she answered without mincing matters. “Helen admits her party was a failure. Do you know there was n't a single boy there except two relatives?” Elizabeth smiled. “Do you know there was n't a single girl at my party except Nance and myself?” she asked. “Yes,” Miss Winthrop confessed. “We ought every one of us to be ashamed !” “You need n’t be,” answered Elizabeth. “I was sorry you did n’t come, for I wanted you all there; but, of course, Helen wanted you, too.” “But she did n't,” Miss Winthrop replied. “She just wanted to spoil your party. She says so herself, and—and she wanted me to tell you so, and to say she is sorry.” “Helen wanted you to say that " exclaimed Elizabeth. “We all talked it over at recess, and decided it was the only thing to do. She ought to have come herself, but you know how hard that would be for her.” “It would n’t be so hard as she thinks,” answered Elizabeth. “I would have understood and forgiven her, and I do forgive her as it is.”
“How dear and good and generous you are '" she exclaimed impulsively. “I don't deserve that praise,” answered Elizabeth. “But I don't have time to quarrel any more. You see, I have so much to do here.” Miss Winthrop glanced around the pretty room. “You 're certainly lucky,” she answered. “I wish the rest of us had a chance to learn what you are learning here.” Elizabeth leaned forward and placed her hand on Miss Winthrop's knee. “Do you, honestly P" she asked. “Honestly " “Then listen,” she began breathlessly. “I 've been thinking over something ever since school opened. It may sound foolish to you, and if it does, I want you to say so right out. Will you?” “I guess we 'd be better off all the time if we always said things right out,” agreed Miss Winthrop. “That 's Mrs. Trumbull's way, anyhow,” smiled Elizabeth. “And, oh, I do want you and the other girls to know her ' I did n’t like her at first, but now—well, she 's made me see everything differently. She herself is so different from us; she knows how to do the things women used to do. She knows how to cook, and to sew, and to keep house, and put up preserves, and—oh, I could n't begin to tell you all the things she knows. My mother was like that. She knew about such things, too.” “I don't think my mother did,” confessed Miss Winthrop. “I guess a lot of mothers to-day don't,” mused
Elizabeth. “That 's probably why we girls don't learn.”
“But I 'd like to know,” broke in Miss Winthrop.
Miss Winthrop. was n't for you.” “And you don't think so now?” asked Elizabeth. “I 'd be ashamed to look you in the face and say so,” answered Miss Winthrop. “I know you might be ashamed to say so, but do you think so?” “Honestly I don't. I can't say I 'm crazy to learn to cook, but I know I ought to learn.” “Oh, you ’d like it after a little. Why now— I even like to get breakfast.” “Ugh ! I don't believe I'd ever get that far !” “Yes, you would !” exclaimed Elizabeth. “You'd get to like to do things for yourself, no matter what. It makes you feel so independent.” Elizabeth's face reflected her enthusiasm. Her eyes were bright and her cheeks flushed. - She had never talked so earnestly with any one about anything. She meant every word she said. “But we have n’t such nice little houses to learn in,” answered Miss Winthrop. “It would n't be so much fun in an apartment.” “Then,” exclaimed Elizabeth, “why don't you come down here and learn?” “Why, Beth, what do you mean?” “That you start a cooking class to meet here one afternoon a week; and a sewing class to meet another afternoon. I 'd love to share this house with you—with all my friends.” “Beth !” exclaimed Miss Winthrop. “And Mrs. Trumbull says she 'll help us and— oh, do you want to do it?” “Why, I think it would be great We might make a club. We might call ourselves the OldFashioned Girls.” “Good" agreed Elizabeth, her quick brain developing the idea. “And whatever we did we could do in an old-fashioned way. We could have dances and not allow any girl to come who had n’t made her own dress; we could have spreads, but every girl must bring some of her own cooking. Each girl could make some one thing; I would make the butter, you could make the bread—” “I make the bread?" chuckled Miss Winthrop. “I guess that would end the party.” “No, you can learn. Why, Mr. Harden can make biscuits, and Roy—” “Can make doughnuts,” Miss Winthrop finished for her. “Brother Dick says he 's prouder of that than being captain of the base-ball team.” “Well, it is something to be proud of.” Elizabeth laughed, and Miss Winthrop rose to go. “I 'll see Helen and Jane this afternoon,” she declared. “I wish we could hold our meeting next Saturday.” “We can,” agoed Elizabeth. “You talk with
all the girls, and then we 'll make out a list and ask them here to tea. But I only want those who honestly wish to learn.”
“I think about ten of us will be enough to start with,” nodded Miss Winthrop. “I 'll see you again, and we 'll decide whom we 'll take in as charter members. Then perhaps later we can make it larger.”
BUT Elizabeth still had one thing at heart, more vital than her ambitions for the Old-Fashioned Girls. As November passed, and December came and Christmas began to loom up, and still her father lived his lonely and solitary life at “The Towers,” she seemed to have failed in the one big undertaking which had furnished her with the spirit to enter upon her new life with such good grace. Apparently she had not yet made her home attractive enough to draw him to it. She had succeeded in making herself proud of it, in making her friends proud of it, but without her father it was not, after all, really and truly her home. One day Elizabeth surprised Mrs. Trumbull by announcing : “I’m going to move into the spare room.” “What are you going to do that for *" demanded Mrs. Trumbull. “The front room is the sunniest and best in the house.” “That,” declared Elizabeth, “is where Daddy is going to live.” “Where—do you mean to tell me your father has come round at last 2" asked Mrs. Trumbull, excitedly. “Not yet,” answered Elizabeth. him to live here after Christmas.” “What makes you expect that?” persisted Mrs. Trumbull. Elizabeth only laughed. “You wait and see,” she answered. Elizabeth transferred into the spare room all her own personal belongings. They were not many, and she had to buy a few simple things, because everything that was her mother's she left behind. “Now,” she said, after she had done that, “I want you to tell me, as nearly as you can remember, just how Mother's room used to look.” “It did n't look very different from the way it looks now,” said Mrs. Trumbull. “A few of her things may have been packed away in her trunks, but almost everything is here.” “Then we must look through the trunks,” explained Elizabeth. “There is one of them we have not opened yet.” “But what are you planning to do?" questioned Mrs. Trumbull, regarding Elizabeth with a smile.
“But I expect “I want to make her room look exactly as it did when she was here,” said Elizabeth. “Perhaps then, if I bring Daddy up here on Christmas Day, and he sees things just as they used to be, he 'll want to come back and live the way he used to live. And then—” Her voice broke. Mrs. Trumbull. “Oh s” she cried, “I do so want my daddy here ! Don't you see, I can't really be the Lady of the Lane without him ''' “There, dear, there,” whispered Mrs. Trumbull, tenderly. “I guess—well, I guess he 'll come home on Christmas Day.” They ransacked the attic and found many things which they had not noticed before. Elizabeth drew from a corner two of her mother's favorite chairs which had been put away because they were slightly broken; but Martin mended them, and they were as good as ever. Then there were some yellowed muslin curtains. “Land sakes '' exclaimed Mrs. Trumbull, “I do believe these are the very ones she had when she first came down here !” Washing and bluing and bleaching made them white and fresh again, and these Elizabeth herself hung in place. There were also some old pictures, and Elizabeth dusted these, cleaned the frames, and hung them where, as well as Mrs. Trumbull could remember, they had been before. But the rarest treasure of all was a miniature portrait of her mother, which Elizabeth found tucked away in the bottom of a trunk. Mrs. Churchill had had it painted in her wedding-dress. Mrs. Trumbull put on her spectacles and stared at it until her own eyes grew misty. Then she handed it to Elizabeth. “There !” she exclaimed, “if you want to see how you look to-day, look at this ''' “How I wish I were half so lovely " said Elizabeth, her lips trembling. “I don't believe in flattering girls, but you 're her living image 1" answered Mrs. Trumbull, trying to wipe her eyes with her apron without being seen. “I declare it seems almost as though she was going to speak to you.” Reverently Elizabeth pressed the picture to her lips. “Dear mother '" she faltered. “And if that does n't bring your father back here, nothing will,” added Mrs. Trumbull. “I shall put it on the little table by the bed,” said Elizabeth, “and I shall bank it all up with holly and evergreen.” “You won't need the evergreen,” declared Mrs. Trumbull. “I don't believe your father knows
She clung impulsively to
about this picture. her again.” A week before Christmas, Mr. Churchill came down one evening with an invitation for them both to spend that day with him at “The Towers.” But Elizabeth shook her head. “No, Daddy,” she said breathlessly. “You must come down here on that day.” “But I thought—” “Not another word, Daddy,” answered Elizabeth, placing her fingers over his lips. To her relief he did not insist. “The chef will never forgive me if I 'm not there for Christmas dinner,” he laughed. “You tell the chef that he 'd better spend the day with his family,” broke in Mrs. Trumbull. “That 's the place for folks on Christmas!” “All right,” agreed Mr. Churchill. The next six days were busy ones in the little house by the lane. Wreaths of holly, tied with scarlet ribbons, appeared in every window. In the front room, and the dining-room, and “Daddy's room,” as she now called the upper front chamber, Elizabeth also hung long festoons of green and Scarlet. She quite exhausted two weeks' allowance in these purchases, which Mrs. Trumbull considered extravagant. “First thing you know, you won't have enough to buy your Christmas dinner,” protested the good lady. “It is n’t the dinner that 's going to count,” declared Elizabeth, “it 's having the house bright and cheerful and homelike and Christmasy.” “Maybe you 're right,” nodded Mrs. Trumbull. On Christmas morning, it began to snow, and this emphasized still more the bright colors within. As early as ten o'clock, Elizabeth lighted the open fire in the front room. “I wish I could light the candles, too,” she hesitated. “Sakes alive, child !” exclaimed Mrs. Trumbull, “you don't need anything more than that picture up-stairs. I feel as though your mother's presence were lighting the whole house.” “You do?” asked Elizabeth, eagerly. do I. But Daddy—” “Don’t you worry about him. I've kind of felt all this week he must have known that was up there. He 's been more like his old self than I’ve seen him in ten years.” “Oh, I wish the day would hurry to one o'clock,” Elizabeth exclaimed impatiently. She went up-stairs to dress, and by the time she had finished, she had no more than time to hurry down and take a look at all the good things in the kitchen, before there was a knock at the front door. She herself opened it to admit her father.
It will be almost like seeing
“Merry Christmas, Daddy!” she cried. “And to you, my dear,” he answered.
She took his hat and coat from him and hung them up. Then as he stepped toward the front
room, she seized his hand. “Come with me, Daddy,” she whispered. In some wonder, he followed her up the stairs. Before opening the door, she paused and kissed him once again. Then, without a word, she led him in. His eyes fell at once upon the picture by the bed. With something almost like a cry he crossed to it, seized it, and held it before him with a trembling hand. “Where—where did you get this?” he asked. “It was here all the time—waiting for you, Daddy,” answered Elizabeth. He looked around the familiar room. “It seems as though—it seems as though she must be here,” he murmured. Trembling, half between sobs and laughter, Elizabeth waited. There was so much she wanted to say that she could n't say ! And yet she felt as though the picture was saying to him all that was dumb on her own lips. “She must be here !” he repeated. Then he turned to the girl. His tense mouth relaxed. He drew his daughter into his arms. “Why, she is here !” he cried. “Dear little Lady of the Lane !” “And you, Daddy, won't you stay here, too?” whispered Elizabeth. “Yes,” he answered. “This is the place for me—here in this little house with you.”
FROM below there was the sound of a loud rap on the kitchen door, and a moment later they both heard Roy's voice in the hall, calling: - “Merry Christmas, everybody' where are you?” “Merry Christmas, Roy " answered Elizabeth. “Can you come down a moment?” he shouted back. Holding her father's hand, Elizabeth led him down into the little sitting-room. Roy was carrying in his arms a box as tall as he was. “From the fellows,” he said as he presented it.
“‘why, she as HERE ' ' HE CRIED. DEAR Litt LE LADY OF THE LANE ' ' "
“Oh, Roy! How beautiful!” she faltered, her voice breaking, and her eyes growing moist.
But she did n’t have time to say more before there was another rap at the door, and the expressman presented a second box which Elizabeth eagerly opened. It contained a beautiful tennis racket from the Old-Fashioned Girls, with the very best wishes for a Merry Christmas.