Betty Gordon in Washington
Alice B. Emerson
Part 2 out of 3
She repeated her instructions to the conductor, who nodded silently,
and, after a quarter of an hour's ride, signaled to her that her
destination was reached. They had passed the town limits, and were in
the open country. Betty had noticed several farmhouses, of the
artistic remodeled type, evidently summer homes of the well-to-do, as
the car rattled along.
She saw one of these as she stepped from the trolley car, and also,
under a tree, a young woman holding a beautiful, rosy baby. These two
immediately swooped down upon her.
"I'm so glad you've come!" Mrs. Brill kissed her unaffectedly. "Kiss
Danny, too! Isn't he a nice baby? We waited lunch for you, and if
you're half as starved as we are--"
Still chattering, she led the way into the house. Mrs. Brill was an
elder sister of the Hagar's Corner's agent and very like him in face,
manner, and bright, cheery way of speaking. The house was tastefully
furnished, and a white-capped maid could be seen hovering over the
table as they went upstairs. Betty learned long afterward that Mr.
Brill's father was wealthy and idolized his son's wife, who had given
the younger man the ambition and spur his career had lacked until he
met and married her. It was lovely Rose Gowdy who persuaded Steve
Brill to take the job of telegraph operator, forgetting his
prematurely white hair, and she who encouraged him to work his way to
the top of the railroad business. Rose, and Rose's son, were given
all the credit of that ultimate success by the older Brill.
"I had a little sister once who looked just like you," said Mrs.
Brill, as she watched Betty smooth her hair at the mirror in the
chintz-hung guest room. "Her name was Juliet. Poor old Dan nearly
broke his heart when she died."
"He said something about her," replied Betty shyly. "Oh, look at
that cunning baby! He thinks he can eat his own foot!"
"He will, too, if he doesn't get his bottle soon," said the baby's
mother, rising. "Come, dear, we'll go down. Danny has his bottle in
his wheeler right in the dining-room."
The little maid served them a dainty meal, and the round-eyed baby
fell asleep as they ate and talked, lying in blissful content in a
white-enameled contrivance that was like a crib on four wheels, and
sucking quietly on his bottle.
"Now if you want to lie down, you may," said Mrs. Brill when they
had finished. "I'll be busy for the next couple of hours with two of
my neighbors who are planning a minstrel show for the country club.
They had already planned to come when Steve telephoned. If you're not
tired, perhaps you'll enjoy looking over our farm. Even if you've
spent your summer on one, you may find things to interest you."
Betty was not tired, and she had been longing to explore the belt of
green fields that encircled the old farmhouse. Hatless, but carrying
her sweater over her arm, she went happily out.
There was a small but well-kept poultry yard with some handsome
white leghorns lazily sunning themselves; a gentle-eyed Jersey cow
stood close to the first pair of bars; and a fat, lazy collie snoozed
under a cherry tree but declined to accompany Betty on her
explorations, though she petted and flattered and coaxed him with all
her powers of persuasion. He wagged his tail cordially and beamed
upon her good-naturedly, but as to getting up and walking about so
soon after dinner--well, he begged to be excused.
"You're a lazy thing!" said the girl indignantly, finally giving up
the task as hopeless and climbing the fence into a larger pasture.
Over in one corner of the field she spied something that quickened
her steps with pleasure. A baby colt, long-legged, sleek of head and
altogether "adorable" as Betty would have said, ambled more or less
ungracefully about enjoying the shade of a clump of trees and
sampling the grass at intervals.
"Oh, I do hope you're tame!" whispered Betty softly.
She was fond of animals, and Bramble Farm, with the exception of a
few lambs, had had no young life in its pastures and stables. The
little calves were always sold as early as possible that there might
be more milk for butter, and Betty was fairly aching to pet something.
She walked cautiously up to the colt, who sniffed at her
suspiciously, but stood his ground. He pricked his ears forward and
looked at her inquiringly.
"You dear!" said the girl quietly. "You little beauty! You wouldn't
mind if I patted you, would you?"
She put out one hand and touched the rough side of the little
animal. He stood perfectly still, and she stroked him for a minute or
two, speaking gently to him. Presently he nuzzled her playfully.
"Oh, you darling!" she cried delighted. "Wouldn't I love to take you
with me and have you for a pet! If you wouldn't grow any larger than
you are now, I'd take you everywhere just like a dog."
She had both arms around the colt's neck now, and he seemed to enjoy
being petted. All at once Betty thought she heard hoof-beats on the
ground, and at the same time the colt raised his head and whinnied.
Betty looked up and across the field toward the house. She stood
back from the colt and stared in dismay and astonishment at what she
Tearing across the ground, headed directly for her, was a fierce
animal with flashing red nostrils, huge mouth open wide and showing
two great rows of strong yellow teeth bared to the gums. Sparks
seemed to fly from the hoofs and a coarse black tail streamed in the
"Good gracious!" gasped Betty weakly. "That must be the colt's
The colt whinnied again in welcome and delight, but Betty felt
rooted to the earth.
It is sometimes said that in moments of danger one's whole life
passes swiftly in review through the mind, but Betty always declared
that she had just a single thought when it seemed that in another
moment she would be trampled under the mare's hoofs; she had not
telegraphed to her uncle and he would not know where she had gone.
The horse continued to cover the ground rapidly, and then, when it
had almost reached the terrified girl, fear lent sudden wings to
Betty's leaden feet. She turned and ran.
Speeding over the field toward the fence at the other end, she could
hear the steady pounding of the mare's hoofs, though she did not dare
to glance over her shoulder. Her thoughts worked busily, trying to
figure out a way to climb over or under the fence, and she had a
lively fear of those terrible teeth nipping her as she tried to
climb. As the fence seemed to her strained vision to rise suddenly
from the ground and come to meet her, a way to safety opened.
Before she began to run she had unconsciously stooped to gather her
sweater from the ground where she had dropped it, and now she turned
and waved the garment frantically in the furious animal's face.
Bewildered and confused, the mare stopped, and, as Betty continued to
flap the sweater, she turned and dashed back to her colt. Weakly the
girl tumbled over the fence and the adventure was over.
"She thought you were going to hurt Pinto," said Mrs. Brill, when
she heard the story. "Goodness, I certainly am glad you had the
presence of mind to shake your sweater at old Phyllis. Wouldn't it
have been dreadful if she had bitten you!"
The next morning, Betty said good-by to the hospitable family who
had been so wonderfully kind to her, and, much refreshed after a
luxurious hot bath and a night's sleep in the pretty guest room, took
the trolley car into town with Mr. Brill, who at the station door
bade her farewell in his capacity of host and two minutes later as
telegraph operator sent her message to Uncle Dick in Washington.
The 7:45 was on time to the minute, and as the long train pulled in
and the porter helped her on, Betty drew a long breath of relief.
Surely there could be no more delays and in a comparatively few hours
she might hope to be with her uncle and know the comfort of telling
him her experiences instead of trusting their recital to letters.
The train had been made up late the night before and many of the
passengers were still sleepy-eyed after restless hours in their
berths. A good many of them were at breakfast in the dining car, and
as there was no parlor car Betty had to take half a section already
occupied by a rather frowsy young woman with two small children.
"We take on a parlor car at Willowvale," the porter assured Betty,
only too sympathetically, for he had been waiting on the woman and
her children since the afternoon before. "I'll see that you get a
chair then, Miss."
Betty settled herself as comfortably as she could and opened her
"Read to me?" suggested a little voice, and a sticky hand caressed
her skirt timidly.
"Now don't bother the lady," said the mother, trying to pull the
child away. "My land, if I ever live to get you children to your
grandmother's I'll be thankful! Lottie, stop making scratches on that
Lottie pursed her pretty mouth in a pout and drummed her small heels
discontentedly against the green plush of the seat.
Betty smiled into the rebellious blue eyes and was rewarded by a
sudden, radiant smile. She closed her magazine and found the mother
gazing at her with a look almost as childlike in its friendly
curiosity as her little daughter's.
"You've got a way with children, haven't you?" said the woman
wistfully. "I guess everybody on this train will be glad when we get
off. The children have been perfect torments, and Lottie cried half
the night. We're none of us used to traveling, and they're so mussed
up and dirty I could cry. At home I keep 'em looking as neat as wax.
We're going to see my husband's mother, and I know she'll think I
started with 'em looking like this."
Betty was far older than many girls her age in some things. She was
self-reliant and used to observing for herself, and she had a rich
fund of warm and ready sympathy that was essentially practical. She
saw that the mother of these lively, untidy children was very young,
hardly more than a girl, and worn-out and nervous as a result of
taking a long journey with no help and little traveling experience.
She was probably, and naturally, anxious that her children should
impress their father's mother favorably, and it took little
imagination to understand that in her home the young mother had been
used to praise for her excellent management. Betty, added to her
qualities of leadership and sound judgment, had a decided "knack"
with children. In Pineville she had been a general favorite with the
little ones, and many a mother had secretly marveled at the girl's
ability to control the most headstrong youngster. Now she seized the
opportunity presented to help a fellow-passenger.
"Have you had your breakfast?" she asked. "No? I thought not. Well,
I had mine before I got on the train. If you are willing to trust the
children with me, I'll amuse them while you go into the diner and
have a quiet meal. You'll feel much better then."
"Oh, it's been a nightmare!" confided the young mother with a sudden
rush of feeling. "Nobody ever told me what it would be like to travel
with two children. Lottie upset her milk and Baby spilled her supper
on the floor. And people just glare at me and never offer to help. It
will be heavenly to eat my breakfast without them, but I feel that
I'm imposing on you."
Betty managed to send her off convinced that everything was as it
should be, and to the mother's surprise the children snuggled down
like little mice to listen to the honorable and ancient story of the
Three Bears. By the time a rested and radiant mother came back to
them, for she had stolen a little time in the dressing room and
rearranged her fair hair and adjusted her trim frock, something she
had found it impossible to accomplish with two restless children
clinging to her skirts, Lottie and Baby were firm friends with Miss
"I never knew any one as lovely as you are!" The gratitude of the
woman was touching. "I was just about crazy. My husband tipped the
porter, and he did try to look after me, but he didn't know what to
do. Usually there is a maid on this train, they told us, but she was
taken sick, and there wasn't time to get any one to fill her place.
Now don't let the children bother you. They had their breakfast
early, and I can read to them till we get to Willowvale where their
grandmother will meet us."
But Betty had not finished. She loved the feel of soft little arms
about her neck and there was not much connected with a baby's welfare
she did not know about. Many a Pineville baby she had washed and
dressed and fed as correctly as a model baby should be.
"Let me take them one at a time and tidy them up?" she suggested.
"They'll take to it kindly, because I am new and that will lend to
the washing a novelty. If we go in relays, we can't upset the whole
So first with Lottie, and then with Baby, who seemed to be without
other name, Betty went into the dressing-room and there washed pink
and white faces and hands till they shone, and brushed silk locks
till they lay straight and shining. Clean frocks were forthcoming,
and two spick and span babies emerged to beam upon a transformed
world no longer seen through a veil of tears. This new friend could
tell the most wonderful stories, invent delightful games, and sing
dozens of foolish little rhymes in a low sweet voice that disturbed
no one and yet allowed every word to be distinctly understood.
Both children went to sleep during the morning, and then Betty heard
that Mrs. Clenning, as the mother introduced herself, lived in the
West and that this journey to Willowvale was the first she had taken
since the birth of the babies.
"My husband's mother is crazy to see them because they are her only
grandchildren," she explained. "I didn't want to come without Mr.
Clenning, but he couldn't get away for a couple of months. He is to
come after us and take us home. If he didn't, I'm sure I'd live East
the rest of my days, or at least till the children are grown up. I'll
never have the courage to try a long train trip with them again."
Before Willowvale was reached Betty helped Mrs. Clenning get her
wraps and bags together and tied the babies into bewitching white
bonnets with long fluted strings. The porter came for the bags, but
Betty carried the younger child to the car door and handed her down
to the mother, who had gone first with Lottie. She saw a tall,
stately, white-haired woman, dressed all in white from her shoes to
her hat, gather all three into her arms, and then went back to her
seat satisfied that the mother's troubles were over.
"Parlor car's ready, Miss," announced the porter, coming up to her.
"Shall I take you on in?"
Betty followed him, to be established comfortably on the shady side
of the car, with the window adjusted at the most comfortable height.
She did not hear the porter's comment to the conductor when he passed
him in the vestibule of the parlor car.
"That girl in seat fourteen, she's one perfect little lady," said
the dusky porter earnestly. "You jest observe her when you takes her
ticket. 'Member that lady with the two children what racketed all day
and all night? Well, she done fix those two kids up till you wouldn't
know 'em, and cheered their mother up, too. And all jest as pretty
and like a lady. That mighty fine lady in the red hat (I give her a
seat on the sunny side of the car a-purpose) wouldn't do nothing
yesterday when I axted her to hold a glass of milk while I went to
get a extra pillow. Said she wasn't going to be nursemaid to no
So Betty was zealously looked after by the whole train crew, for the
story had spread, and the siege of Clenning had been a protracted one
with a corresponding fervency of gratitude for release; and at six
o'clock that night the attentive porter handed her down the steps to
the platform of the beautiful Union Station in Washington.
She had only her light traveling bag to carry, so she followed the
crowd through the gates, walking slowly and scanning the faces
anxiously in order that she might not pass her uncle. She did not
wish to go through the station out on the plaza, lest she make it
more difficult for him to find her, and she was keenly disappointed
that he had not been at the gate, for the train was half an hour late
and she had confidently expected him to be waiting. She took up her
stand near the door of the waiting room and scanned the eddying
circles of travelers that passed and repassed her.
"Something must have delayed him," she thought uneasily. "He
couldn't miss me even in a crowd, because he is so careful. I hope he
got the telegram."
She had turned to compare her wrist-watch with the station clock
when a voice at her back said half-doubtfully, "Betty?"
A SERIOUS MIX-UP
"You are Betty, aren't you?" the girlish voice insisted, and this
time Betty identified it as belonging to a girl a year or two older
than herself who stood smiling uncertainly at her.
"Yes, of course I'm Betty," said Betty Gordon smiling.
The face of her questioner cleared.
"All right, girls," she called, beckoning to two others who stood a
little way off. "She's Betty. I was sure I hadn't make a mistake."
Betty found herself surrounded by three laughing faces, beaming with
good-will and cordiality.
"We must introduce ourselves," said the girl who had first spoken to
her. "This is Louise," pointing to a gray-eyed miss apparently about
Betty's age. "This is Esther." A girl with long yellow braids and
pretty even white teeth bobbed a shy acknowledgment. "And of course
I'm Roberta, Bobby for short."
"And if we don't hurry, we'll be late for dinner," suggested the
girl who had been called Louise. "You know Carter isn't as patient
as he once was; he hates to have to wait."
Bobby thrust her arm through Betty's protectingly.
"Come on, Betty," she said comfortably. "Never mind about your trunk
check. Carter will drive down after it early in the morning."
Betty's bewildered mind was vaguely appreciative of the wide sweep
of open plaza which lay before them as they came out on the other
side of the station, but before she could say a word she was gently
bundled into a handsome automobile, a girl on either side of her and
one opposite, and the grim-faced, silver-haired old chauffeur,
evidently slightly intolerant of the laughter and high spirits of his
young passengers, had started to thread his way through the lane of
taxicabs and private cars.
Betty was intensely puzzled, to put it mildly. Her uncle had
mentioned no girls in his letters to her, and even supposing that she
had missed some letters, it was hardly possible that he should not
have let fall an explanatory word or two from time to time.
"I thought Uncle Dick would come down to meet me," she said, voicing
her surprise at last.
"Oh, poor dear, his heart is almost broken to think he has to stay
cooped up in the house," answered Bobby, who seemed to be the general
spokesman. "But how stupid of us--of course you don't know that he
hurt his foot!"
"Is he hurt?" Betty half rose from her seat in alarm. "Is he badly
injured? When did it happen?"
Bobby pulled the excited girl down beside her.
"You see it happened only yesterday," explained Louise, finding her
voice with a rush. "You'd better believe we were frightened when they
brought him to the house in the ambulance. His foot has some little
bones broken in it, the doctor says, but he'll be all right in a
month or so. He has to hobble around on crutches till the bones knit."
"But it isn't serious, so don't look like that," urged Bobby. "Why,
Betty, your lips are positively white. We're so thankful it was his
foot and not his head--that would have been something to worry about."
"How--how did it happen?" gasped Betty, anxious and worried in spite
of these assurances. "Was he in an accident?"
"He was the whole accident," announced Bobby cheerfully. "You see
he's completely wrapped up in these new buildings they're putting up
on the outskirts. We'll take you out to see 'em while you're here and
perhaps you'll understand the construction, which is more than I do.
Anyway, the whole firm and every workman is absorbed in the
experiment, and they're burnt as red as the bricks from working
outdoors all day."
"Uncle Dick does love to be outdoors," murmured Betty.
"He sure does," agreed Bobby. "Well, nothing would do yesterday but
that he must climb up on the roof of one they've just started and
take a peek at the chimney. I guess it needed looking after, for the
whole thing tumbled over on him, coming down full-weight on his right
foot. Forcet, the foreman, had an awful time getting him down from
the roof, and instead of telephoning for the car, some nervous person
sent for the ambulance and scared us all into fits."
Betty blinked again. No mention of building houses had been made in
Uncle Dick's letters to her.
"Did he get my telegram?" she asked, leaning forward to look at a
monument they were passing.
"A little before noon," replied Bobby. "Louise and Esther and I had
such a violent argument as to which of us should come to meet you
that we didn't even dare draw lots; it seemed safer for us all to
Esther, who sat opposite Betty, had noticed her interest in the
"We're going to take you sightseeing to-morrow," she promised.
"Aren't we, Bobby? And I don't see why we don't go home by way of
Fort Myer. It doesn't take any longer, and dinner isn't till seven,
"All right." Bobby leaned forward and spoke to the chauffeur. "Take
us round by Fort Myer, please, Carter," she directed.
The car turned sharply, and in a few minutes they were rattling over
an old bridge.
"We live out in the country, Betty, I warn you," said the voluble
Bobby. "But it has its compensations. You'll like it."
Betty, a stranger to Washington, decided that the Willard must be a
country hotel. It would be like Uncle Dick, she knew, to shun the
heart of the city and establish himself somewhere where he could see
green fields the first thing every morning.
"What is Fort Myer?" she asked with lively curiosity, as the car
began to climb a steep grade. "Is that where they had training camps
during the war?"
"Right," said Bobby. "It's an army post, you know. See, here are
some of the officers' houses. I only hope we live here when Louise
and I are eighteen--they give the most heavenly dances and parties."
Betty looked with interest at the neat houses they were passing. The
names of the officers were conspicuously tacked on the doorsteps, and
there was a general air of orderliness and military spic and spanness
about the very gravel roads. Occasionally a dust-colored car shot
past them filled with men in uniform.
"Do you ride?" asked Betty suddenly. "Uncle Dick has always wanted
me to learn, but I've never had a good chance."
"Well, you can begin to-morrow morning," Bobby informed her. "We've
three ponies that are fine under the saddle. Betty, I do wish you'd
make up your mind to live in Washington this winter. There's no
reason in the world why you shouldn't, and we were talking it over
last night, making plans for you."
"Why! that's entirely as Uncle Dick says," returned Betty,
surprised. "I haven't any say in the matter."
Bobby shot a triumphant glance toward the other girls.
"He said he hadn't much right to dictate, but I told him I knew
better," she said with satisfaction. "He wants you as much as we do,
and that's considerable, you know."
Again a wave of doubt swept over Betty. Uncle Dick had said he had
not much right to dictate! When he was her only living relative!
"Uncle hasn't a fever or anything, has he?" she asked apprehensively.
"I mean the injury to his foot hasn't, it didn't--" she floundered.
"Oh, that old hurt to his head never amounted to anything," declared
Bobby with convincing carelessness. "No, indeed, he's perfectly well
except for the crutches, and the doctor says keeping him indoors for
a few days will give him a much-needed rest."
Betty recalled the accident in which her uncle had been stunned when
he had slipped down a bank into an excavation made along a road on
which they had been driving. Bobby evidently referred to that old
"Now you can begin to watch for the house," said the silent Esther,
as Carter swung the car around another curve in the beautiful road.
"I don't see why I couldn't have been named Virginia!"
"Esther has a personal grievance because she's the only one of us
born in the South, and she had to be named for an aunt like the rest
of us," laughed Bobby. "Every tenth girl you meet down here seems to
be named Virginia."
"But was she born in Virginia?" asked Betty. "Where did you live
Bobby stared. Then she laughed.
"Oh, I see," she said. "We lived at Fairfields. Of course you know
that. But, like so many friends, you have always thought of us as
living in Washington. We're in Virginia, Betty, didn't you know that?"
"No." Betty's puzzlement was plainly written on her face.
"When we crossed the bridge, we left the District of Columbia,"
explained Bobby. "Of course we're very close to the line, but still
we are not in Washington."
"There's the house!" exclaimed Louise. "I wonder if mother got back
from shopping. I don't see her on the porch."
Betty saw a beautiful white house, dazzlingly white against a
background of dark trees, with a broad lawn in front circled by a
wide white driveway. A terraced garden at the side with a red brick
walk was arranged with wicker chairs and tables and a couple of
swings protected with gay striped awnings. It was a typical Southern
mansion in perfect order, and Betty reveled in its architectural
perfections even while she told herself that it did not look in the
slightest like a hotel. What was it Bobby had called her home?
"Fairfields"--that was it; and she, Betty, wanted to go to the
Willard. Had they made a mistake and brought her to the wrong place?
There was no time to ask for explanations, however. The girls swept
her out of the car and up the low steps through the beautiful
doorway. A well-trained man servant closed the door noiselessly, and
the three bore Betty across the wide hall into a room lined with
books and boasting three or four built-in window seats, in one of
which a gentleman was reading.
"We found her! Here she is!" shouted the irrepressible Bobby. "Don't
tell us we can't pick a girl named Betty out of a crowd!"
The gentleman closed his book, and, steadying himself with a cane
lying near by, rose slowly. There was no recognition in the gaze he
fastened on Betty, and she for her part hung back, staring wildly.
"You're not Uncle Dick!" she gasped accusingly.
STRAIGHTENING THINGS OUT
Betty's speech was shock number one. Another quickly followed.
The gentleman tugged quizzically at his short gray mustache.
"And you," he announced quietly, "are not my niece, Betty Littell!"
Esther and Louise stared, round-eyed, while Bobby collapsed
dramatically on a convenient couch.
"Have we kidnapped anybody?" she asked, a bit hysterically. "Good
gracious, Dad, don't tell me I've forcibly run off with a girl?
Haven't you made a mistake? She must be Betty--she said so."
"My darlings, I'm sorry to be late," said a new voice, a rich, sweet
contralto, and a stout woman with a kindly, florid face swept through
the doorway. "Why, what is the matter?" she demanded hurriedly,
confronting the tense group.
"Momsie!" exclaimed Bobby, hurling herself upon the newcomer. "Oh,
Momsie, isn't this Betty Littell? We went to meet her and she said
her name was Betty, and all the way home she talked about Uncle Dick,
and now she says dad isn't her uncle! I'm afraid I've made a mess of
"Yes, I think you have," said Betty, with blazing cheeks. "I came to
Washington to meet my uncle, Mr. Richard Gordon, who is stopping at
the Willard. Of course my name is Betty. I'm Betty Gordon, and he's
my Uncle Dick. And goodness only knows what he is doing now--he'll be
about crazy if he came to meet me."
Bobby began to laugh uncontrollably.
"I never heard of such a thing in my life!" she giggled, wiping her
eyes. "Dad's name is Richard Littell, and we've been expecting our
cousin Betty Littell to arrive to-day from Vermont for a long visit.
We haven't seen her since she was six years old, but I took a chance
on recognizing her. And then there was the name! How could I guess
there would be two Bettys looking for two Uncle Dicks! Don't be mad,
Betty; you can see a mix-up like that wouldn't happen twice in a life
"She isn't mad," interposed Mr. Littell, lowering himself carefully
to the window seat, for he had been standing all this time and his
foot began to pain again. "After she knows you a little better,
Bobby, she will expect this sort of denouement to follow whatever you
undertake. I say we ought to have some dinner, Mother, and then talk
at the table."
"Of course, of course," agreed motherly Mrs. Littell. "The poor
child must be famished. Take Betty--you don't mind if I call you
Betty, do you, dear?--up to your room, Bobby, and when you come down
dinner will be served."
"But my uncle!" urged Betty. "He will be so worried. And the other
girl--where do you suppose she is?"
"By George, the child has more sense than I have," said Mr. Littell
energetically. "I'd give a fortune if Bobby had half as level a head.
Our Betty is probably having hysterics in the station if she hasn't
taken the next train back to Vermont."
His keen eyes twinkled appreciatively at Betty, and she knew that
she liked him and also sensed instinctively that his eldest daughter
was very like him.
"Why, Father, how you do talk!" reproved Mrs. Littell comfortably.
"I'll call up the station while the girls are upstairs and then Betty
shall call the Willard, or you do it for her, and then perhaps we can
eat dinner before the souffle is quite ruined."
The girls took Betty upstairs to a luxurious suite of rooms they
shared, and when she had bathed her face and hands and brushed her
hair, they came down to find that Mr. Littell had called up the Union
Station and discovered that because of a freight wreck the Vermont
express had been delayed and would not be in before nine o'clock that
"So our Betty is probably having a comfortable dinner on the train,"
he announced. "Now just a minute, and I'll have the Willard for the
other Betty. We'll tell your uncle you are safe and that we'll bring
you into Washington to-night."
In a few minutes he had the connection, and they heard him ask for
Mr. Richard Gordon. His mobile face changed as the clerk answered,
and Betty, watching, knew that he had disconcerting news. He turned
to them, covering the mouthpiece with his hand.
"Mr. Gordon left early this morning for Oklahoma," he said. "He left
an address for mail, and there's a telegram which came after he left.
It was sent from Halperin and was received at eleven-thirty this
"That's the one I sent!" answered Betty. "And Uncle Dick's gone to
Oklahoma! What on earth shall I do?"
"Do!" repeated Mr. and Mrs. Littell in concert. "Why, stay right
here with us, of course! Do you suppose we'd let a young girl like
you knock around alone in a city? We'll be glad to have you stay as
long as you will, and you mustn't be uncomfortable another second.
When you hear from your uncle there'll be plenty of time to make
Betty did not try to express her gratitude to these new kind
friends, for she knew that she could never say one-half the thanks
she felt toward them. They were cordiality itself, and did everything
in their power to make her feel at home. An excellent dinner was
served in the charming dining-room with a mixture of formality and
simple home courtesy that was as unusual as it was delightful, and in
this atmosphere of good breeding and tact, Betty bloomed like a
"A charming girl, whoever she is," said Mr. Littell to his wife, as
he smoked his cigar after dinner and the girls drew Betty to the
piano. "She has plenty of spirit, but lacks Bobby's boisterousness.
It will be a good thing for the girls to have some one like her,
self-reliant and quiet and yet with decided snap, to chum with."
"I like the idea of five girls in the house," beamed Mrs. Littell,
who was the soul of hospitality and fairly idolized her three
daughters. Whatever discipline they had came from their father. "And
now I think I had better go to the station, after our Betty, don't
"Oh, Mother!" came in concert from the piano, where Bobby was
rattling off a lively waltz. "We all want to go. Please? There's
plenty of room in the car."
Mrs. Littell looked undecided.
"One of you may go with your mother," said Mr. Littell decisively.
"I think it had better be Louise. Now, there is no use in arguing.
One girl is enough. Betty will be tired after traveling all night and
all day, and she will be in no mood for talking and carrying on. I'll
tell Carter to bring the car around, Mother."
Bobby pouted for a few moments after her mother and sister had gone,
but her good-nature was easily restored and she and Betty and Esther
were deep in an exchange of confidences when Mrs. Littell returned
bringing the missing Betty with her.
"Now stand up for a minute, you two Bettys," commanded Bobby, when
greetings had been exchanged and explanations made. "I want to see if
I made such a dreadful mistake in taking Betty Gordon for Betty
The two girls stood side by side, and though they both had dark eyes
and hair, there the resemblance ceased. Betty Littell was a dumpling
of a girl with curly hair, a snub nose and round face. She looked the
picture of good-nature, and her plumpness suggested a fondness for
sweets that subsequent acquaintance with her fully sustained.
Betty Gordon had grown tall through the summer, and she was of a
slender, wiry build that hinted of a fondness for outdoor life. Her
heavy straight hair was wrapped around her well-shaped little head in
braids, and her exquisite little hands and feet, so far her one claim
to beauty, though later promises lay in her glowing face, gave her,
as Louise afterward confided to her mother, "an air like an Indian
"No, you don't look much alike," conceded Bobby, after a prolonged
scrutiny. "But Betty Gordon looks the way I thought Betty Littell
would look, so I don't see that I am to blame."
"Trust Bobby to excuse herself from a scrape," chuckled her father.
"By the way, how are you going to arrange about names? Two Bettys in
the family will involve complications."
"I think we'll have to call Betty Littell, 'Libbie'" suggested Mrs.
Littell, smiling. "That was your mother's name at home, always, Betty."
"Yes, I know it; and that's why they called me Betty," replied the
Littell girl. "Two names, the same names, I mean, do make confusion.
I'm willing to be called Libbie, Aunt Rachel, if you let me have a
little time to get used to it. If I don't answer right away, you'll
understand that I'm listening for 'Betty.'"
"Well, Mother, I think at least two of these girls need sleep,"
announced Mr. Littell. "Betty Gordon looks as if she couldn't keep
her eyes open another moment, and Betty Littell has yawned twice. I
should say we all might retire--it's after eleven."
"Goodness, so it is," said his wife hastily. "Time does fly so when
you're talking. Come, girls, if you are going sightseeing to-morrow,
you'll need a good night's rest."
There were three bedrooms and a private bath at the disposal of the
girls, and separate beds in all the rooms. Betty Gordon shared a room
with Bobby, Louise and Betty Littell had the one adjoining, and
Esther slept alone in the third room, which was also connected with
Long after the other girls were asleep Betty lay awake, thinking
over the happenings of the day. Finally she worked around to the
suggested change in names.
"They must expect me to stay if they plan to avoid confusion of
names," she thought. "I must talk to Mr. Littell in the morning and
ask him if it's really all right. I feel as if it were an imposition
for me, a perfect stranger, to accept their hospitality like this."
In the morning she was up and dressed before the rest, fortunately
having a fresh blouse in her bag so that, although she had nothing
but her suit skirt, she looked well-groomed and dainty. Betty Littell
was also without her trunk, though Bobby promised that both trunks
should be brought from the station that morning.
"I'd like to speak to your father a minute," said Betty, when she
Bobby, on the floor tying her shoes, blew her a kiss.
"You'll find him on the terrace probably," she said confidently. "Go
ahead, dear, but it won't do you any good. We're determined to keep
you to play with us."
So the astute Bobby had guessed what she wanted to say!
Nevertheless, Betty was determined to carry out her resolution. She
went slowly down the wide staircase and stepped out through double
screen doors on to the bricked terrace. Sure enough, there sat Mr.
Littell, smoking comfortably and reading his morning paper.
"You're up early!" the gentleman greeted Betty cordially. "Guess
you're ahead of even Esther, who usually leads the van. Sleep well?
That's good," as she nodded. "No troubles this bright morning?"
Betty gave him a grateful glance.
"I can't help it," she said bravely. "You know how I feel, coming
here like this--you don't know me--"
"No-o," drawled Mr. Littell, pulling forward a gay-cushioned chair
and motioning for her to sit down. ("Can't have any manners when your
foot is smashed," he explained in an aside.) "No, Betty, it's true we
don't know you. But mother and I think we know a nice girl when we
see her, and we're glad to have you stay with us just as long as you
can feel comfortable and at home. If I were you, I'd just bury these
uneasy feelings you speak of. Fact is, I'll give you two good reasons
why you should make us a little visit. One is that if we had had the
pleasure of your acquaintance you would have had a regular letter
from mother weeks ago, asking you to come and spend the summer with
us. The second is that I know how your uncle would feel to think of
you alone in the city or the country. Guess how I'd take it if one of
my own daughters was waiting for word from me and no one made things
pleasant for her. Won't you shake hands and make a bargain with me
that you'll try to see our side of it, your uncle's and mine, and
then just plan to have a happy time with the girls until we can reach
him in the West?"
Betty placed her small hand in the larger one held out to receive
it, and smiled back at Mr. Littell. He had a smile very few people
"That's better," he said with satisfaction. "Now we're friends. And,
remember, I'm always ready to give advice or listen. That's what
fathers and uncles are for, you know. And I'd like to have you look
on me as a second Uncle Dick."
Thus encouraged, Betty briefly outlined for him her story, touching
lightly on her experiences at Bramble Farm, but going into detail
about Bob Henderson, her uncle, and her pleasant recollections of
By the time she had finished, the four girls had joined them on the
terrace and presently a table was brought out and spread with a
cloth, and, Mrs. Littell following the maid with a silver coffee urn,
breakfast was served.
"The girls will want to go into town to-day, I suppose," said the
motherly lady, selecting the brownest muffin for Betty and signaling
her husband to see that the maid served her an extra portion of
omelet. "I have some shopping to do, so I'll go in with them in the
car. But I absolutely refuse to 'do' the Monument again."
"Poor mother!" laughed Bobby. "She hates to ride in an elevator, and
yet I know by actual count she's gone up in the Monument a dozen
"I suppose every one who comes to Washington wants to go
sightseeing," said Betty Littell, or, as she must begin to be called
now, Libbie, "I know how it is in our little town at home. There's
just one monument--erected to some Revolutionary hero--and I get
fairly sick of reading the inscription to all the visiting aunts and
"Well, I like to go around," declared the energetic Bobby. "But just
once I had an overdose. We had a solemn and serious young theological
student who made notes of everything he saw. He was devoted to
walking, and one of his favorite maxims was never to ride when he
could walk. He dragged me up every one of those nine hundred steps in
the Washington Monument and down again, and I was in bed for two days."
"Wait till you see the steps, and you'll understand," said Louise to
Libbie and Betty. "If you try to walk down you're apt to get awfully
After breakfast Carter brought the car around, and Mr. Littell
hobbled to the door to see them off.
"Betty wants to send a telegram to her uncle," he said in an aside
to his wife, while she stood at the long glass in the hall adjusting
her veil. "Better help her, for she'll feel that she is doing
something. If Gordon is in the oil regions, as I think from what she
tells me he is, there isn't much chance of a telegram reaching him
any quicker than a letter. However, there's no use in dampening her
"Now we'll drop you at the Monument," planned Mrs. Littell, as the
car bore them down the driveway. "You can walk from there to that
pretty tea-room--what is its name, Bobby?--can't you?"
"The Dora-Rose, you mean, Mother," supplied Bobby. "Of course we can
walk. But Carter is taking the longest way to the Monument."
"We're going to the station first," answered her mother. "Betty
wants to send her uncle a telegram, and Carter is going to leave
directions to have the trunks sent up to the house. You have your
baggage checks, haven't you, girls?"
They produced them, and Carter slipped them into his pocket. Betty
had leisure and opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the handsome
building as they approached it this perfect morning, and she could
not help exclaiming.
"Yes, it is fine, every one says so," admitted Bobby, with the
carelessness of one to whom it was an old story. "Finer, daddy says,
than the big terminals in New York."
Libbie had the advantage of being the only one of the girls who had
been to New York.
"This has lots more ground around it," she pronounced critically.
"Course in a city like New York, they need the land for other
buildings. But you just ought to see the Pennsylvania Station there!"
"All right, take your word for it," said Bobby. "Where do we go to
send a telegram, Momsie?"
Mrs. Littell smiled.
"Betty and I are all who are necessary for that little errand," she
said firmly. "The rest of you stay right in the car."
Carter opened the door for them and then went in search of the
baggage man. Betty and Mrs. Littell found the telegraph window and in
a few minutes a message was speeding out to Richard Gordon, Flame
City, Oklahoma, telling him that his niece was in Washington, giving
her address and asking what he wished her to do.
"I'll write him a letter to-night," promised Mrs. Littell when this
was accomplished. "Then he'll know that you are in safe hands. You
must write to him, too, dear. Flame City may consist of one shack and
a hundred oil wells and be twenty miles from a post-office, you know."
Carter reported that the trunks were already on their way to
Fairfields, and now the car was turned toward the gleaming Monument
that seemed to be visible from every part of the city, Betty, her
mind relieved by the sending of the telegram, abandoned herself to
the joys of sightseeing. Here she was, young, well and strong, in a
luxurious car, surrounded by friends, and driving through one of the
most beautiful cities in the United States. Any girl who, under those
circumstances, could remain a prey to doubts and gloom, would indeed
be a confirmed misanthrope.
The car was stopped at one of the concrete walks leading to the base
of the Monument, and with final instructions as to the time and place
they were to meet her, Mrs. Littell drove away.
"Why, there's a crowd there!" cried Libbie in wonder.
"Waiting to be taken up," explained Louise. "Come on, we'll have to
stand in line."
The line of waiting people extended half way around the Monument.
The girls took their places, and when the crowd streamed out and they
were permitted to go inside, Betty and Libbie, the two strangers,
understood the reason for the delay. The elevator seemed huge, but it
was quickly filled, and when the gates were closed the car began to
mount very slowly.
"We'd be sick and dizzy if they went up as fast as they do in
department stores and office buildings," said Bobby. "It takes about
fifteen minutes to reach the top. Watch, and you'll see lots of
interesting things on the floors we pass."
Betty was wondering how Bobby had ever survived the climb up the
stairs and the trip down again with the enthusiastic theological
student, when a cry somewhere in the back of the car startled her.
"What's the matter?" demanded the elevator operator, without turning
"John isn't here!" declared a hysterical feminine voice. "Oh, can't
you stop the car and go down and get him? He pushed me in, and I
thought he was right behind me. Aren't you going back?"
"Can't, Madam," was the calm answer. "Have to finish the trip. You
can go right back with the next load."
"Oh, goodness gracious," moaned the voice. "What'll I do? If I go
back I may miss him. If I wait at the top it will be half an hour.
Suppose he walks up? Maybe I'd better start to walk down to meet him."
Bobby stifled a giggle with difficulty.
"Bride and groom," she whispered to Betty. "Washington's full of
'em. Guess the poor groom was lost in the shuffle. Is she pretty--can
Betty tried to look back in the car, though the press of passengers
standing all about her made it difficult. The bride was easily
identified because she was openly crying. She was an exceedingly
pretty girl, modishly gowned and apparently not more than twenty
"We'll get hold of her and persuade her to wait," planned Bobby.
"I'll show her the sights to amuse her while we're waiting for the
next elevator load to come up. Here we are at the top."
A crowd was waiting to descend, and as they walked from the
elevator, the bride meekly following, Bobby plucked her sleeve.
"Excuse me," she said bluntly, but with a certain charm that was her
own, "I couldn't help hearing what you were saying. Your husband
missed the elevator, didn't he?"
The bride blushed and nodded.
"Well, don't try to walk down," advised Bobby. "I did it once, and
was in bed for two days. He'll come up with the next load. No one
ever walks up unless they are crazy--or going to theological
seminary. Your husband isn't a minister, is he?"
"Oh, no, he's a lawyer," the bride managed to say.
"All right," approved Bobby, noting with satisfaction that the
elevator gate had closed. "Come round with us and see the sights, and
then when your husband comes up you can tell him all the news. This
is Betty Gordon, Libbie Littell and Louise, Esther and Bobby Littell,
all at your service."
"I'm Mrs. Hale," said the bride, stumbling a little over the name
and yet pronouncing it with obvious pride.
LIBBIE IS ROMANTIC
The girls, marshaled by Bobby, made a tour of the windows, and
though Betty was fascinated by the views of the city spread out
before her and bought post cards to send to the Pineville friends and
those she knew in Glenside and Laurel Grove, her mind was running
continuously on young Mrs. Hale's announcement.
"She couldn't be the old bookstore man's wife," she speculated, her
eyes fixed on the Potomac while Bobby cheerfully tangled up history
and geography in a valiant effort to instruct her guests. "Lockwood
Hale was an old man, Bob said. He didn't say he had a son, but I
wonder----Oh, Bobby, the Jesuit fathers didn't sail down the Potomac,
"Well, it was some river," retorted Bobby. "Anyway, Miss, you didn't
seem to be listening to a word I said. What were you thinking about
in such a brown study?"
Betty made a little face, but she had no intention of revealing her
thoughts. She wanted to find out about the bookshop quietly, and if
possible get the address. Always providing that Mrs. Hale was related
to the man who had shown such an interest in Bob Henderson's
"Of course Hale is an ordinary enough name," she mused. "And yet
there is just a chance that it may be the same."
The girls were planning to take the next car down, and yet when it
came up they lingered diplomatically to catch a glimpse of the
bridegroom. "John" proved to be a good-looking young man, not
extraordinary in any way, but with a likeable open face and square
young shoulders that Libbie, who startled them all by turning
poetical late that night, declared were "built for manly burdens."
Louise, Esther and Bobby were the last to squeeze into the car,
Libbie, the prudent, having ducked earlier. As Betty turned to follow
them, the gate closed.
"Car full!" said the operator.
"Oh, Betty!" Bobby's wail came to her as the car began to disappear.
"We'll wait for you," came the parting message before it dropped from
Mrs. Hale laughed musically.
"Now you know something of how I felt," she said merrily. "May I
present my husband? John, those five girls have been so nice to me.
And now you'll go round with us, won't you?"
But Betty knew better than that.
"I'm going to write some of my post cards," she said. "But I would
love to ask you a question before you go. Do you know a man in
Washington who keeps a bookshop? His name is Lockwood Hale."
Mr. and Mrs. Hale exchanged glances.
"Know him?" repeated the young man. "Why, I should think we did!
He's my great-uncle."
"I'm very anxious to see him to ask about a friend of mine,"
explained Betty. "Mr. Hale thought he might be able to tell him
something of his parents who died when he was a baby. As soon as I
heard your name I hoped you could tell me where to find the bookstore."
"Yes, uncle is a wizard on old family records," admitted the nephew.
"Sometimes I think that is why he hates to part with a book. He keeps
a secondhand bookshop, you know, and he's positively insulting to
customers who try to buy any of the books. The old boy is really
queer in his head, but there's nothing to be afraid of. He wouldn't
hurt a flea, would he, Elinor?"
Mrs. Hale said doubtfully, no, she supposed not.
"Elinor didn't have a very good impression of him," laughed her
husband. "We're on our wedding trip, you know,"--he blushed slightly--
"and mother made us promise we'd stop in to see the old man. He
hasn't seen me since I wore knickerbockers, and we had a great time
making him understand who we were. Then he said that he hoped we
liked Washington, and went back to his reading."
"And the shop is so dirty!" shuddered the bride. "I don't think she
ought to go to such a place alone, John."
"I won't," promised Betty hastily. "If you'll let me have the
address, I'll be ever so grateful and it may be a great help to my
Young Mr. Hale wrote down the street and number on the back of the
brand-new visiting card his wife pulled from her brand-new purse, and
Betty thanked them warmly and turned to her card writing, leaving
them free to enjoy each other and the view to their hearts' content.
She had directed post cards to a dozen friends before the elevator
returned, and this time both she and the bridal couple made sure that
they were among the first to step in.
Betty felt of the little slip in her purse several times during the
afternoon, inwardly glowing with satisfaction. If she could find Bob
Henderson in Washington through the old bookseller, or learn
something definite of the lad, she would find it easier to wait for
word from her uncle.
After luncheon, which was calculated to please healthy appetites of
five girls to a nicety, they went into several of the large shops
with Mrs. Littell, and then, because it had begun to rain and did not
promise pleasant weather for driving, they went to a moving picture
"Had a full day?" asked Mr. Littell at dinner that night. "Libbie,
what did you see?"
Libbie's answer provoked a gust of laughter. She was so essentially
a matter-of-fact little personage in appearance and manner that when
she opened her red mouth and announced, "A bride and groom!" the
effect was startling.
That started Bobby, and she told the story of the lost John, told it
as her father would have, for neither Bobby nor Mr. Littell were at
all inclined toward sentimentality.
"Well, Betty," Mr. Littell beckoned to her afterward when they were
all in the pleasant living-room across the hall, "think you're going
to like Washington, even if it is overrun with brides and grooms?"
"It's lovely," Betty assured him fervently. "We've had the most
perfect day. And, Mr. Littell, what do you think--I've found out
something important already."
She had told him about Bob that morning, and he was interested at
once when she narrated what the bride and groom had told her of old
"Why, I know where his shop is. Everybody in Washington does," said
Mr. Littell when she had finished. "He has lots of rare books mixed
in with worthless trash. Funny I didn't take in you meant that Hale
when you spoke of him. I suppose you'll want to go there to-morrow
Carter will take you in the car, and you'd better have one of the
girls go with you. Bobby is all right--she may be scatter-brained but
she doesn't talk."
For some reason none of the girls was sleepy that night, and after
going upstairs they all assembled in Bobby and Betty's room to talk.
Libbie could not keep her mind off the bride.
"I wonder how I'd look in a lace veil," she said, seizing the fluted
muslin bedspread and draping it over her head. "It must be lovely to
be a bride!"
"You've been reading too many silly books," scolded Bobby. "Anyway,
Libbie, you're too fat to look nice in a veil. Better get thin before
you're old enough to be married, or else you'll have to wear a
Libbie eyed her scornfully and continued to parade up and down in
"Betty would look pretty in a veil," said Louise suddenly. "Come on,
girls, let's stage a wedding. Libbie won't sleep all night if she
doesn't have some romantic outlet. I'll be the father."
She seized a pillow and stuffed it in the front of her dressing gown
so that it made a very respectable corpulency.
"I'll be the mother!" Esther began to pin up her hair, a dignity to
which she secretly aspired.
"I'm your bridesmaid, Libbie," announced Betty, catching up the
bride's train and beginning to hum the wedding march under her breath.
"If you _will_ be silly idiots, I'm the minister," said Bobby,
mounting the bed and leaning over the foot rail as if it were a pulpit.
The bride stopped short, nearly tripping up the devoted bridesmaid.
"I don't think you should make fun of ministers," she said, looking
disapprovingly at her cousin. "It's almost wicked."
"I'd like to know how it's any more wicked than to pretend a
wedding," retorted Bobby wrathfully. "Weddings are very solemn,
sacred, serious affairs. Mother always cries when she goes to one."
Betty began to laugh. She laughed so hard that she had to sit down
on the floor, and the more the two girls glared at each other, the
harder she laughed.
"I don't see what's so funny," resented Bobby, beginning to snicker,
too. "For goodness sake, don't have hysterics, Betty. Mother will
hear you and come rapping on the door in a minute."
"I just thought of something." The convulsed Betty made a heroic
effort to control her laughter and failed completely. "Oh, girls,"
she cried, wiping her eyes, "here you are bickering about the bride
and the minister, and not one of us thought of the bridegroom. We
left him out!"
Louise and Bobby rolled over on the bed and had their laugh out.
Libbie collapsed on the floor, and Esther leaned against the bureau,
laughing till she cried.
"They say the bridegroom isn't important at a wedding, but I never
heard of ignoring him altogether," gasped Bobby, and then they were
They made so much noise that Mrs. Littell tapped on the door to ask
why they were not in bed, and when Bobby told her the joke, she had
to sit down and laugh, too.
"I'll send you up some sponge cake and milk if you'll promise to go
right to sleep after that," she told them, kissing each one good
night all over again. "Libbie shall at least have the wedding cake,
if she can't have a wedding."
OFF TO INVESTIGATE
Drip! drip! drip!
Betty listened sleepily, and then, as she raised herself on one
elbow to hear better, she knew the noise was made by the rain.
"If that isn't too provoking!" Bobby sat up with an indignant jerk
and surveyed Betty across the little table at the head of the beds.
"I thought we'd all go down to Mount Vernon to-day, and now it's gone
and rained and spoiled it all. Oh, dear! I don't think I'll get up";
and she curled down in a dejected heap under the white spread.
"Well, I'm going to get up," announced Betty decidedly, springing
out of bed with her accustomed energy. "Rainy days are just as much
fun as sunny ones, and there's something I have to do to-day, weather
or no weather."
"She's a dear," said Louise warmly, smiling as the sound of Betty's
carolling came to them above the sound of running water in the
bathroom. "Mother says she likes her more and more every day. I wish
her uncle would never write to her and she'd just go on living with
us all the time."
"And go to school with us in the fall. That would be nice," agreed
Bobby reflectively. "But, of course, Betty's heart would be broken if
she never heard from her uncle. However, we'll be as nice to her as
we can, and then maybe she will want to stay with us anyway, even if
he does send for her."
"What are you two plotting?" asked Betty gaily, emerging warm and
rosy from her vigorous tubbing. "Do you know, I've just remembered
that I promised to show Libbie how to make mile-a-minute lace before
breakfast? I hope there is time."
"What on earth do you want to make lace for?" demanded the practical
Bobby, as her cousin appeared in the doorway, rubbing sleepy eyes.
"It's too early to begin on Christmas presents."
Libbie was not at all confused in her ideas, and she had a very
clear reason for wishing to add this accomplishment to her rather
"It's for my hope-chest," she informed Bobby with dignity, and not
even the shout of laughter which greeted this statement could ruffle
her. "You may think it's funny," she observed serenely, "but I have
six towels and three aprons made and put away all ready."
"My aunt!" sighed Bobby inelegantly, shaking her head. "You believe
in starting young, don't you? Why, I'm fourteen, and I've never given
a thought to a hope-chest."
Here Esther, the early riser of the family, created a diversion by
coming in fully dressed and announcing that Mammy Lou was willing to
teach as many girls as cared to come after breakfast how to make
"Take Libbie," giggled Bobby, whose sense of humor was easily
tickled. "She's collecting stuff for her hope chest and I should
think biscuit recipes would be just the thing. Do you want to learn
to cook, Betty? Esther has a kitchen hobby and rides it almost to
"I do not!" retorted Esther indignantly. "Do I, Louise? Mother loved
to cook when she was a girl, and she says she likes to see me fussing
in the kitchen."
Betty was showing Libbie how to hold her crochet hook, and now she
looked up from her pupil.
"Why, I'd love to learn to make those wonderful biscuits Mammy Lou
makes," she said slowly, "but I really have to go into Washington to-day.
That is, if it will not upset any one's plans? I can easily walk
to the trolley line, and I won't be gone longer than a couple of
A trolley line ran about half a mile from the house, and to Betty
who had frequently walked ten miles a day while at Bramble Farm, this
distance seemed negligible.
"Let me go with you, Betty?" coaxed Bobby. "Carter will take us in
the machine. I won't bother you, and if you have personal business to
attend to, I'll wait for you in the library or some place. Cooking
and making lace drives me wild, and if you leave me at home as likely
as not I'll pick a quarrel with some one before the morning is over."
"Worse than that, she'll insist on singing while I'm trying to
practice," said Louise. "I'm three or four days behind with my
violin, and a rainy morning is a grand time to catch up. Do take her
with you, Betty."
"Why, goodness, she will be taking me," insisted Betty. "Of course
you know I'll love to have you, Bobby. As a matter of fact, I wanted
to ask you to go with me because it is a strange place and your
father said not to go alone. Only I didn't want to disturb any plans
you might have made for to-day. I'll tell you about it on the way,"
she added noting the look of growing curiosity on Bobby's face.
After breakfast the girls scattered to their chosen occupations, and
Mrs. Littell settled herself to read to her husband on the glass
enclosed piazza that extended half way across the back of the house.
The car was brought round for Betty and Bobby and, commissioned to do
several small errands in town, they set off.
"Now where are we going?" demanded Bobby bouncing around on the seat
cushions more like a girl of seven than fourteen. "Do tell me, for
I'm simply devoured with curiosity."
So Betty briefly outlined for her a little of Bob's history and of
what she knew Lockwood Hale had told the poorhouse master. She also
explained how she had obtained the old bookshop man's address from
the bride they had met in the Monument the day before.
The rain came down steadily, and the country road was already muddy,
showing that it had stormed the greater part of the night. Carter was
a careful driver, and the luxurious limousine had been substituted
for the touring car so that the girls were protected and very
comfortable. Quite suddenly Carter brought the car to a stop on a
lonely stretch of road just above a sharp turn.
"Goodness, I hope he hasn't a puncture," said Bobby. "I was so
interested in listening to you I never heard anything. What's wrong,
Carter?" she called.
"There's a little dog in the road, Miss Bobby," said Carter slowly
and distinctly, as he always spoke. Bobby had once declared that she
did not believe a fire would shake Carter from his drawling speech.
"A puppy, I guess you'd call it. I'll have to move it to one side
before we can drive past, because it is in the middle of the road."
Bobby leaned out to look.
"It must be hurt!" she cried. "Bring it in here, quick, Carter. Why,
it's just a tiny puppy, Betty," she added; "a black and white one."
Carter, mingled pain and reproach in his face, brought the dog to
them, holding it gingerly away from him so as not to soil his coat.
"It's very muddy, Miss Bobby," he said disapprovingly. "Your mother
won't like them nice gray cushions all stained up."
"Well, couldn't you lend me your handkerchief, Carter?" suggested
Bobby gently. "I'll wipe him off. There now, he's all right. My
handkerchief's so small it wouldn't have done one of his paws."
Carter, minus his handkerchief, started the car and they rounded the
curve. The puppy seemed to be all right except that he was wet and
shivering, and Bobby and Betty had decided that he was very young but
otherwise in perfect health when the car stopped again.
"There's another one of 'em, Miss Bobby," groaned Carter. "You don't
want this one, do you?"
The girls thrust out their heads. Sure enough, another black and
white puppy lay abandoned in the roadway.
"Certainly, we'll pick it up," said Bobby indignantly. "Do you
suppose we're going to go past a dog and let it die in the rain?
Bring it here, please, Carter."
The old man got down stiffly and picked up the dog. This time he
handed over a second handkerchief with a ludicrous air of "take-it-
"That's the last handkerchief I have with me, Miss Bobby," he
announced feelingly, watching his young mistress mopping water and
mud from the rescued puppy.
"Well, there won't be any more puppies, Carter," Bobby assured him
But they had not gone twenty rods when they found another, and,
after that, a few rods further on, a fourth.
"Here's where we use our own handkerchiefs," giggled Bobby. "And
what are we going to do with a car full of dogs?"
The problem was solved, however, before they crossed the bridge into
Washington. On the hill leading to the bridge they overtook a small
colored boy weeping bitterly. Bobby signaled Carter to stop, and
leaning out asked the child what the matter was.
"I done lost my dawgs!" he sobbed. "We-all is moving, and I had 'em
in a basket with a burlap bottom. I done tol mammy that burlap was
rotten." He held up the basket for them to see the hole in the cloth
tacked across the bottom. "I was going to sell them dawgs for fifty
cents apiece when they was bigger," he finished with a fresh burst of
His joy when the girls showed him the puppies and explained how they
had found them was correspondingly noisy. He had an old gingham apron
with him, and into this the dogs were unceremoniously bundled and
securely knotted. Betty and Bobby each gave him a shining ten-cent
piece, and a blissful boy went whistling over the bridge, his world
changed to sunshine in a few brief minutes.
The car threaded a side street, turned twice, and brought up before
a quaint old house with a basement shop tucked away under a bulging
"This is Hale's bookshop, Miss," said Carter respectfully to Betty,
WHAT HALE HAD TO TELL
The door of the bookstore opened with a loose old-fashioned latch,
and one fell down two steps without warning into a long, narrow room
lined with books. Betty went first, and Bobby, stumbling, would have
fallen if she had not caught her.
"Gracious! I'm a little bit scared, aren't you?" Bobby whispered.
"It seems like such a spooky place."
It was certainly very quiet in the shop, and for a few moments Betty
thought they must be alone. Then some one stirred, and, looking down
the room, they saw an old man bent over a book open on a table near a
dusty window. He wore big horn spectacles and was evidently extremely
nearsighted, for he kept his face so near the book that his nose
almost touched the pages.
"That must be Mr. Hale," said Betty. "I wonder if it's all right to
"I should say the only way to make him understand you're here, would
be to go up and take that book away," rejoined Bobby.
"He can't be very anxious to sell anything, or he'd pay more
attention to his store," giggled Betty.
"I'll wait here," said Bobby hastily, as Betty moved toward the rear
of the store. "I'd probably say the wrong thing anyway. Let me see,
I'll be reading this fat brown book. They all look alike to me, but
this may be thrilling in spots."
Betty approached the motionless old man, whose lean brown forefinger
traced the curious black characters in the book before him so slowly
that it did not seem to budge at all.
"I beg your pardon?" she said tentatively.
"I want to ask you----" Betty began again, a little breathlessly.
"I want to ask you about a boy named Bob Henderson."
"Name's Hale," said the old man, without looking up and speaking in
a cracked, hoarse voice. "Lockwood Hale, dealer in new and secondhand
books. Just look around on the tables and you'll likely come across
what you want. I'll wrap it for you when you find it. Just now I'm
Betty looked desperately at Bobby, who was listening over the top of
her book, and stifled a desire to laugh.
"I don't want a book," she insisted gently. "I want to ask you a
question. About Bob Henderson. You know you were interested in the
records of the Oliver County almshouse, and you thought you might
know something of his people."
The old man pushed his spectacles up on his forehead fretfully and
regarded the girl impatiently from a pair of near-sighted blue eyes.
"The books weren't worth anything," he told her seriously. "I spent
near a day going over 'em, and there wasn't a volume worth bringing
back with me. Folks get the idea in their heads that a book's worth
money just because it is old. 'Tain't so--I could fill my tables and
shelves with old trash and still not have any stock. Jim Turner don't
know a valuable book from a turnip."
Mr. Hale gave every indication of returning to the absorbing volume
before him, and Betty plunged in hastily with another question.
"You know a boy named Bob Henderson, don't you?" she urged.
"Yes, he was in here some time last week," answered Hale calmly.
"Was it Wednesday, or Tuesday--that load of old almanacs was
delivered that same afternoon."
"Well, I'm a friend of his." Betty almost stuttered in her eagerness
to explain before the old man should be lost again in his book. "He
worked on the farm where I spent the summer, and he told me about you
and how anxious he was to see you and find out about his people. I've
been anxious, too, to learn if he reached Washington and whether he
is here now. Do you know?"
Now that the shopkeeper's mind was fairly detached from his printed
page he seemed to be more interested in his caller, and though he did
not offer to get Betty a chair, he looked about him vaguely as though
he might be seeking a place for her to sit.
"I don't mind standing. I mustn't stay long," she said hurriedly,
afraid to let him fix his attention on outside objects. "Didn't Bob
Henderson say where he was going? Did he mention anything about
"Well, now let me see," considered the old man. "Bob Henderson? Oh,
yes, I recollect now how he looked--a manly lad with a frank face.
Yes, yes, his mother was Faith Henderson, born a Saunders. That's
what caught my eye on the almshouse record book. Years ago I traced
the Saunders line for a fine young lady who was marrying here in
Washington. She wanted a coat of arms, and she was entitled to one,
too. But there was a break in the line, one branch ending suddenly
with the birth of Faith Saunders, daughter of Robert and Grace. I
never forget a name, so when I read the almshouse record and saw the
name of this lad's mother there I knew I had my chart complete. Yes,
the boy was interested in what I could tell him."
Betty, too, was interested and glad to know that Bob had succeeded
in finding the old bookseller and learning from him what he had to
tell. But if Bob was still in Washington, she wanted to see him. He
could doubtless tell her what to do in case she did not hear from her
uncle within a few days--and Betty was growing exceedingly anxious as
no answer came in reply to her telegram. And above all, she wanted to
see an old friend. The Littells were kindness itself to her, but she
craved a familiar face, some one to whom she could say, "Do you
"Didn't Bob say where he was going?" she urged again.
"Going?" Mr. Hale repeated the question placidly. "Oh, I believe he
went to Oklahoma."
Oklahoma! Betty had a sudden wild conviction that her thoughts had
been so centered on that one locality that she was beginning to lose
her mind and imagine that every one repeated the word to her.
"Did you--did you say Oklahoma?" she ventured. "Why, how funny! I
have an uncle out there in the oil fields. At least we think he is in
the oil fields," she added, a sudden look of worry flashing into her
eyes. "It seems so funny that Bob should go away off there."
The old man peered up at her shrewdly.
"Aye, aye, funny it may be," he croaked. "But suppose I should tell
you I advised the lad to go there? Would that seem funny, eh?"
Betty stared in complete bewilderment.
"Oh, it isn't always in the story books, sometimes it happens to
real boys," he nodded exultantly. "Suppose I told you, in strictest
confidence, young lady, for I think you're a true friend to him, that
he has relatives out there? His mother's two sisters, both of 'em
living on the old homestead? Neither of 'em married and without near
kith or kin so far as they know? Suppose I tell you that the old
farm, as I locate it, is in the oil section? Suppose the lad is
entitled to his mother's interest in the place? Eh? Suppose I tell
He made a question of each point, and emitted a dry cackle after
"I told the lad to go out there, and if he had any trouble proving
who he was to come back here to me," said Hale importantly. "I can
help him straighten out the tangles. I've untied many a knot for
families more tangled up than this. So he may be back, he may be
back. Drop in any day, and I'll tell you whatever I know."
Betty thanked him warmly and he followed the girls to the door,
repeating that he would be glad to tell them everything he knew.
They were going to one of the large shops to do a few errands for
Mrs. Littell, and since their visit to the bookstore had taken so
long they agreed to separate and each do one or two commissions and
then meet at the door within half an hour.
Betty's mind was busy with the astonishing revelations Lockwood Hale
had made, and as she deftly matched wool for a sweater, she turned
the information over in her mind.
"I don't believe Bob has gone so far West at all," she said to
herself firmly. "He wouldn't have money enough, I'm sure. I suppose
he has written to me, but my mail will go to the farm, of course, and
Mr. Peabody would be the last person to forward it. I must write the
postmaster to hold and redirect my mail--when I know where I am to be."
Although she had promised herself not to worry, Betty was becoming
very anxious to hear from her uncle. She had written to the Benders
in Laurel Grove and to Norma Guerin at Glenside, explaining her
situation and asking them to let her know as soon as the quarantine
in Pineville should be lifted. She knew that she could visit friends
there indefinitely. But that did not much lighten the burden. Anxiety
for her uncle and growing fear that she might never again hear from
him, it had already been so long a time since his last letter, at
times oppressed her.
Their chopping finished, she and Bobby were reunited and were glad
to enter the car and drive quietly home to luncheon. It was still
raining, and they found the other girls impatient for their return.
"We know all about beaten biscuit," boasted Esther. "And I stirred
up a gold cake every bit myself."
"Practising all done," reported Louise. "And I'm just aching for a
good lively game. No wedding stuff, Libbie, I warn you. I can see a
romantic gleam in your eye."
Libbie said nothing then, but after lunch when they were debating
what to do, she had a suggestion.
"Let's play hide-and-go-seek," she said enthusiastically.
"Well, I didn't know you had that much sense," approved Bobby, who
was blunt almost to a fault but undoubtedly fond of her younger
cousin. "Come on, girls, we'll have one more good game before the
family begin to hint I'm too old for such hoydenish tricks. We'll go
up to the attic and make as much noise as we can."
Libbie waited till they were safely in the attic before she followed
up her suggestion.
"I read the loveliest story last summer," she said dreamily. "It was
about a bride--"
A shout of laughter from the listening girls interrupted her.
"I knew there would be a bride in it somewhere," rippled Bobby.
"Now, Libbie, once and for all, this is hide-and-go-seek, not a mock
"You might let me finish," protested Libbie. "I only meant to say
this story was about a bride who ran away from her wedding guests for
fun and hid in a great carved chest; the chest had a spring lock and
it closed tight when she pulled it down. Her husband and all the
guests hunted and hunted, and they never found her. Years and years
after, when they opened the chest, there were only some bones and the
wedding dress and veil."
"And you call that a lovely story!" Bobby's scorn was immeasurable.
"Well, I think it's gruesome. And what kind of housecleaning did they
have in those days? My mother opens every chest and trunk and box in
the house at least twice a year."
The game started merrily, and, forewarned by Libbie's story, the
girls knew exactly where to find her when she hid from them and
unerringly pulled her out of every chest into which she hopefully
squeezed her plump self.
"You never should have mentioned 'chest' to us," laughed Betty, when
Libbie was "it" for the third time. "We know your line of reasoning
now, you see."
Libbie good-naturedly began her counting, and Betty looked about for
a good place to hide. The attic was long and wide and a splendid
place to play. It was rather too well lighted for hide-and-seek, but
the trunks and boxes arranged neatly around the walls offered a fair
chance to escape detection. A peculiar fan-shaped box near a window
attracted Betty's attention, apparently being a built-in box.
"I'll hide there," she resolved, running lightly over to it.
Louise and Esther and Bobby were already stowed away in various
corners, and Betty slipped into the box noiselessly. Libbie ceased
The three Littell girls reached "home" without being detected, and
then perched merrily on an old trunk to watch Libbie prowl about
after Betty. A five-minute search failed to reveal her, and Libby
"All safe, you may come in!" they called in unison.
No Betty appeared, and they shouted again.
"Well, if that isn't queer!" Louise looked at Bobby in doubt. "Where
do you suppose she is hiding?"
Bobby, a furrow of anxiety between her eyes, searched the attic with
level glances, her sisters and cousin watching her apprehensively.
"Something must have happened to her," Louise was beginning, when
Bobby gave a cry and raced for the door.
"I'll bet I know where she went," she flung over her shoulder.
"Haven't time--to stop--don't bother me----" She flew down the
stairs, the others after her at top speed.
Down, down, down, through the third, second and first floors, the
four girls fled like a whirlwind, down, always following flying
Bobby, to the laundry in the basement where modern electric equipment
made washing clothes a scientific process.
Bobby brought up her mad flight before a tall cupboard in one
corner, turning the catch on the door, opened it and out tumbled--
"Are you hurt?" demanded Bobby, helping her to her feet. "Oh, Betty,
darling, do say you're all right! It's a wonder you weren't
suffocated or didn't break any bones."
"I'm all right," said Betty, smoothing out her skirts. "But I'm
still a bit dazed. It was such a sudden drop. What have I done that I
Libbie, too, was bewildered, and stared at the disheveled Betty with
"Why, my dear child," explained Bobby, with a funny maternal manner,
"you fell down the laundry shoot. It opens into the attic for good
ventilation. I'm glad there were some soiled clothes at the bottom
for you to land on, otherwise you might have had a bad bump. Sure
you're all right?"
"Yes, indeed," insisted Betty. "I thought I was climbing into a box
and went in feet first without looking. Instead of hitting the floor,
I slid gently on and on. I hadn't any breath to scream with I went so
fast. Anyway, there wasn't time to scream. I just sat here for a time
after I landed. And I was wondering where I was and how I could get
out when you opened the door for me."
That ended the game for the day, and the rest of the afternoon the
girls were content to spend quietly, Betty in writing a long letter
to Mrs. Arnold, one of her mother's old friends who had moved to
California, and the others with books and sewing.
The next morning was fair and sunny, and before breakfast Bobby had
it planned that they should spend the day at Mount Vernon. Of course
Betty and Libbie were very anxious to see the famous place, and the
three sisters were glad to have the opportunity to take them for the
"It's never the same again," explained Louise, obligingly tying
Esther's hair-bow for her. "There's a wonderful thrill you get when
you see the things that really were Washington's and were handled by
him that never comes again. Though we love to go there and never tire
of looking at the rooms."
"What a chatter-box you are, child!" expostulated her mother, who
had come up to tell them breakfast was ready. Indeed the gong had
sounded fully fifteen minutes before. "How nice you look, all of you!
I'll be proud to take five girls to Mount Vernon. We're going to-day,
Dear Mrs. Littell! Betty already loved her dearly, as indeed did
every member of the household. She was so unaffected, so affectionate
and generous, and she allowed money to change her simple, happy
nature not at all. The Littells had not always been wealthy, and the
mistress of the beautiful mansion did not hesitate to tell of the
days when she had done all of her own housework and taken care of two
Soon after breakfast the party started, the plan to go by motor
being abandoned in favor of the trip down the river. It was decided
that Carter should come down later with the car and bring a basket
luncheon, taking them home in the afternoon.
Mount Vernon is sixteen miles below Washington, and the sail down
the Potomac was delightful in the cool of the morning, and Betty
thought she had never seen anything more beautiful than the deep
greens of the trees and grass on either bank. By common consent the
boatload of chattering people became silent as they came in sight of
Mount Vernon, and as the glimmer of the house showed white between
the trees. Betty's heart contracted suddenly. Louise, who was
watching her, squeezed her arm sympathetically.
"I know how you feel," she whispered. "Mother told me that the first
time she went abroad and dad took her to see the Colosseum she cried.
You're not crying, are you, Betty?"
Betty shook her head, but her eyelashes were suspiciously damp.
Libbie was staring in unaffected enjoyment at the scene before her
and fairly dancing with impatience to be off the boat.
"I do want to see Martha Washington's things," she confided, as they
went ashore. "Her ivory fan and her dishes and the lovely colonial
"George Washington's swords for mine," announced Bobby inelegantly.
"I've seen 'em every time I've been here, and I'd give anything to
have one to hang in my room."
"Bobby should have been a boy," remarked Mrs. Littell indulgently.
"You're mother's only son, aren't you, dear?"
"Well, my name is as near as I'll ever come to it," mourned Bobby.
"However, I manage to have a pretty good time if I am only a girl."
Mrs. Littell led them first to the tomb of Washington. The plain
brick building was directly at the head of the path leading from the
landing, and a reverent group stood, the men with bared heads, for a
few moments before the resting place of the Father of his Country.
High above the river, overlooking the land he loved, stands the
Mount Vernon mansion. From the tomb the Littell party went directly
to the house.
Each of the girls, although interested in the whole, showed her
personality distinctly in her choice of special relics.
It was Betty who lingered longest in the library, fascinated by the
autographed letters of Washington, his tripod used in surveying, and
his family Bible. Bobby had to be torn bodily from the room which
contained the four swords. Esther spent her happiest hour in the old
kitchen, admiring the huge fireplace and the andirons and turnspit.
Louise and Mrs. Littell were able to go into raptures over the old
furniture in Martha Washington's bedroom and sitting room, though
they, of course, had seen it all many times before.
Mrs. Littell herself had a collection of antique furniture of which
she was justly proud, and mahogany furniture was sure of her
intelligent appreciation. Strange to say, Libbie remained cool toward
the very things she had voiced a desire to see, and in the middle of
the morning they missed her.
They were on their way to the barn Washington's father had built,
and Betty volunteered to run back and see if the missing girl had
stayed behind in the house.
Betty hurried back and began a hasty inspection of the rooms. She
recollected seeing Libbie upstairs at the door of Washington's room
the last time she had definitely noticed her, and she ran upstairs to
see if she might not be there.
No Libbie was in any of the rooms.
Downstairs she searched hurriedly, peeping under people's elbows,
trying not to annoy others and yet to make a thorough hunt in a short
time so as not to keep the others waiting. Then in the music room, or
East Parlor, as it is often called, she found the truant, gazing with
rapt eyes at the quaint old harpsichord which had belonged to Nellie
"Every one is waiting for you," announced Betty, pulling her gently
by the sleeve. "Come on, Libbie, we're all going. We've seen the
Libbie followed in a sort of daze, and when they rejoined the others
she seemed to be still in a brown study.
"For goodness sake," prodded Bobby impatiently, "what were you doing
back there? We nearly went off and left you. Where did you find her,
"I was in the music room," announced Libbie with dignity. "I wanted
to see the harpsichord. Say, girls, did you know Washington gave that
to Nellie Custis when she was married? He wore his uniform when he
gave her away, and--"
"Well, for pity's sake!" Bobby's disgust was ludicrous. "Trust
Libbie to dig up a romance wherever she goes. What else did you find
connected with weddings, Lib?"
Libbie was inclined to be ruffled, but Mrs. Littell soothed the
troubled waters by telling them that the old barn, which they had
reached by this time, was built in 1733 by Washington's father and
that the bricks were supposed to have been imported from England.
The beautiful old formal garden further mellowed their tempers, for
it was impossible to say sharp things walking along the very paths
which George Washington had often trod and between the rows of box
brushed by the silken skirts of Mrs. Washington. Where her rose
bushes used to be are planted others, and Mrs. Littell assured the
girls that it was one of the great pleasures of the First Lady of the
Land to gather rose leaves for her potpourri jars and to make a
perfumed unguent for which she was famous among her friends.
"She was a wonderful housekeeper," added Mrs. Littell, smiling at
Libbie, whose momentary resentment had quickly faded, "and a very
fine manager. We are told that she was thoroughly domestic in her
tastes and that she made her husband ideally happy."
Presently Carter came with a hamper of luncheon and their appetites
did full justice to Mammy Lou's dainties. Betty wondered, sitting on
the grass, the Potomac flowing lazily several feet below, whether she
was dreaming and might not wake up to find herself at Bramble Farm
with Mr. Peabody scolding vigorously because something had not gone
to suit him. She often had this odd feeling that her present
happiness could not be real.
This, too, brought the thought of her uncle to her mind, and again
she wondered if she would ever hear from him--if something dreadful
had not happened to him, leaving her almost as much alone in the
world as Bob Henderson. She shivered a little, then resolutely threw
herself into the chatter of the other girls and soon forgot all but
the present pleasure and excitement.
After rambling about the grounds another hour or so, the party from
Fairfield was ready to go, and they all found it restful to lean back
in the comfortable car and spin back to the city.
"If you're not too tired I think we might drive down Pennsylvania
Avenue," suggested Mrs. Littell. "Our guests haven't seen the White
House yet, have they?"
Neither Betty nor Libbie had, and as the car turned into the famous
thoroughfare both girls sat up alertly so as not to miss a single
sight of interest. Carter slowed down as they approached a high iron
fence, and at the first glimpse of the white mansion separated from
the fence and street by a wide stretch of lawn, Libbie shouted
"The White House!"
"Well, you needn't tell everybody," cautioned Bobby. "Think of the
weddings they've held in there, Libbie!"
"I imagine any one who has ever seen a picture of the White House
recognizes it instantly," said Betty, fearing a resumption of
cousinly hostilities. "How beautiful the grounds are."
"You must go through it some day soon," said Mrs. Littell. "And now
we'll drive to the Capitol. Day after to-morrow would be a good time
for you to take the girls to the Capitol, Bobby."
The Capitol reminded Libbie of a pin tray she had at home, and awoke
recollection in Betty's mind of a bronze plaque that had been one of
Mrs. Arnold's treasures in the stiff little parlor of the Pineville
house. All good Americans know the White House and the Capitol long
before they make a pilgrimage to Washington.
On their arrival at Fairfields they found Mr. Littell playing
solitaire, and something in his undisguised relief at seeing them
made Betty wonder if time did not hang heavily on his hands.
After dinner Bobby proposed that they turn on the phonograph and
have a little dance among themselves.
"Oh, that will be fine!" cried Betty.
"Then you can dance?"
"A little--mother taught me."
So the girls danced and had a good time generally for an hour or
more, with Mr. and Mrs. Littell looking on. Then Betty sank down on
the arm of Mr. Littell's chair.
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