WHEN Kathie woke the next morning the elegant lace curtains with their gilt cornices and the marble- topped bureau with its carved mirror-frame met her eyes. She rubbed them dreamily, wondering where she was. Then she sat up in the bed and listened to the noise without.
" 0 Aunt Ruth! " she exclaimed, glad to find a home face.
There was a little tap at the door, and Uncle Robert's cheerful voice asked if they were in bed yet.
" No," said Kathie, hopping out on the floor, " but I 'm just up, and will be ready in a few moments."
Aunt Ruth felt quite rested. After Kathie was , dressed she assisted her, and then they admitted Uncle Robert, who was glad to find them so much refreshed.
" Do you feel strong enough to go down to break- fast ? " he asked of Aunt Ruth.
" 0, do! " pleaded Kathie. " It's so odd and pretty down there, and there are such crowds of people."
" It will look quite different by daylight," said Uncle Robert.
" But you can't help liking Mr. Meredith, and Mrs. Havens is so sweet, something like Mrs. Darrell. And she wants to see you."
Then Uncle Robert told what Mr. Meredith had said about his uncle. He was to call on Dr. Mark- ham that morning and ask his advice.
Presently they went down. The dining-hall did look rather sparse and straggling. They crossed over to a table at which Mrs. Havens was sitting.
" Good morning," exclaimed Mr. Meredith, Joining them. "I was afraid some of your kinsfolk had spirited you away."
"Who?" asked Kathie.
" Why, the people in green."
" So you have found out her relatives ? " asked Uncle Robert.
" Have you brought your wand and your invisible cap, to say nothing of the unfailing purse ? "
Kathie laughed at this. " I believe I have a purse," she said, " but I have never tried it."
" Invite me to go out with you ; will you not ? "
She glanced at Uncle Robert. " I 'm afraid you do not understand the charm," she answered, slowly.
" I 've a great mind to pack Mr. Conover off to the country, and take you in charge myself," he re- turned.
It was half past nine when they returned to the parlor, Kathie thought they were rapidly falling into lazy habits. The two gentlemen prepared for their walk, and Mrs. Havens proposed entertaining Kathie and her aunt. Indeed, in the course of the morning's talk, she discovered that she had been acquainted with Mr. Alston's family. He had no nearer relatives than uncles and cousins, and after his death they had not interested themselves especially in his widow, as is too often the way of the world.
The morning passed very pleasantly indeed. Uncle Robert returned with the news that Dr. Markham. had promised to call on Aunt Ruth that afternoon. Mr. Meredith persuaded Kathie to take a walk with him, and after their late lunch they started.
" We will go down Broadway first," he began, gayly. "They don't charge much for looking at pretty things, and we will both make believe that we have come from the country."
Kathie made a sudden pause. Three of the oddest people she had ever seen in her life were coming towards her. They wore flat straw hats, had one long braid of hair hanging down behind, carried parasols, and were so strangely dressed that she couldn't tell whether they were men or women.
" Are they real Chinese ? " she asked, timidly.
" The pure article, - packed in tea, standing on their heads, and imported at great expense; warranted not to spoil in any climate."
Kathie looked very doubtful after this explanation.
"Yes. Some distinguished strangers visiting the city. Your Uncle Robert has lived among them, I believe."
" How comical they do look ! I should n't want to be Chinese."
"Well, I can't say that I have any particular desire for a pig-tail and rat diet. Now here is a store of curiosities. It is almost as good as traveling round the world."
They entered, and Kathie went from one thing to another in the greatest surprise. Toys and articles of virtu imported from every corner of the globe. She wanted to buy some for Freddy, but she could n't tell which to choose.
" 0, we will come in again some day," Mr. Meredith said. " There 's ever so much more to see."
And so she thought as they went on. Mr. Meredith explained everything in the gayest manner imaginable, told her odd stories about the woman who sold apples and nuts at the corner, people who begged for a living, and the organ-grinders. They went up in the belfry of Trinity Church, and it seemed to Kathie that they could see all over the world. Then they strolled into the Museum, but the play being half through they did not care for that. Afterward Mr. Meredith stopped an omnibus and they rode down to the Battery. Here he entertained her with some of Irving's anecdotes of the early Dutch settlers, after which they returned to the hotel.
Aunt Ruth was in her room, so Mr. Meredith took Kathie up, and there she found Uncle Robert.
" Has Dr. Markham been ? " was her eager question.
" Yes," he answered.
" And what did he say ? 0 Aunt Ruth - " Uncle Robert took her on his knee. " My little girl," he began, " it will. be a long and tedious affair, but Dr. Markham thinks she can be so far restored as to dispense with a crutch. There would have to be a very painful, operation, and Aunt Ruth would be compelled to remain in the city for several months."
"Now ? " Kathie asked with a little awe.
" He does n't advise it until September. There will be no danger to Aunt Ruth's life, and he seems quite hopeful. He is coming again to-morrow with a skilful surgeon, and after we hear all we shall decide."
" I should be sorry about the pain, but. Aunt Ruth, if you could walk easily, how delightful it would be ! I should n't like to have you away - "
" You will have to come and be her little nurse."
"0, if I only might!"
Uncle Robert kissed the generous girt
Then she told what a gay time she had with Mr. Meredith. "And I wanted to buy ever so many things, but I could n't make any choice."
" We will take our turn to-morrow morning. You must put on your wishing-cap, for I 'm afraid the purse will never be brought in requisition."
" But you get everything for me," she said, earnestly, " and for mamma and the boys. I really don't know what to do with money."
"An unusual complaint," he said, laughingly.
The following day was very fine, and they took quite an early start.
"Now you must have large eyes, Kathie," her uncle said.
" What are you going to do?"
" Buy ever so much for our new house. First, I think we will look at wall-papers. Since I am here I may as well get all the things there would be any difficulty about in a small town. They can be sent by express very easily."
They went to a large paper-warehouse. The clerk began to unroll some elegant things. Uncle Robert looked them over very indifferently, Kathie thought, while she was silent from surprise. At length she uttered an involuntary exclamation.
" So you like this crimson ? " he said, much pleased. "Now, Kathie, we can have our library or our parlor furnished with crimson; which shall it be?"
Kathie considered a few moments. Red carpets and curtains always looked so cosey and bright, and this paper with its stripe of rich deep crimson between the gilt was so very pretty.
" Or we can. have the crimson in Aunt Ruth's room."
" 0, that will he just it," returned Kathie. "Green, I suppose, does look more like a library."
"And there 's a paper just this pattern with a green stripe. See how beautifully it contrasts with the pearl of the panels."
" Let us have that for our library then, and this for Aunt Ruth's room. And for the parlor something very delicate."
"Then there 's the dining-room, which must be in oak. We have quite an arduous task before us."
They compared, discussed respective merits, and finally made their selections. Then the furniture was to be chosen.
This interested Kathie wonderfully. There was such a variety; all were so lovely. Great luxurious chairs of every description, in which one might dream away hours. Two were especially comfortable,-a rocker and a reclining-chair that could be turned into a bed at a moment's notice. Both were in crimson plush.
" These must be Aunt Ruth's," Kathie said, " unless-"
" Well ? " Uncle Robert smiled good-naturedly.
" I think they will cost a good deal," she ventured, timidly.
" That part of it you are not to mind," he re- turned.
"I begin to believe you are a fairy prince."
So Kathie had a gay time, her wishes being answered as soon as expressed. But Uncle Robert noticed that she was continually thinking of others, and seemed to have very little anxiety about herself. So he told her he was going to choose the furniture of her room, and she was not to see it until it came home.
Afterward came the carpets. It was quite late before they were through, and they hurried back to the hotel just in time to meet Dr. Markham and his friend. Kathie remained in the parlor with Mrs. Havens, rather fatigued with her morning's work, and glad to rest.
It was determined in the evening that Aunt Ruth would come to the city in the fall and undergo the operation. Dr. Markham proposed to take her to his house, where he could have her under his immediate supervision. He was quite sanguine of success.
Mr. Meredith was very anxious to have them all go up the river to his brother's, but Aunt Ruth thought it too tiresome for her. She insisted that Kathie should not be deprived of the pleasure, and one lovely morning they started. The sail was delightful Guilford River, that had seemed remark- able to Kathie heretofore, shrank into insignificance. Beautiful green shores rising higher and higher until broken by the frowning rocks of the Palisades! Kathie held her breath in wonder. It was like entering an enchanted country.
Mr. Meredith enjoyed Kathie's surprise and pleasure. She was so sweet and unaffected, and thoroughly appreciated the efforts made to entertain her. More than one of the passengers watched her as she rambled up and down, talking in her pretty fashion, her soft eyes and winsome smile brightening with every word.
There was a carriage at the landing, awaiting them. Miss Ada had come down with the driver, and greeted her uncle and her guests very cordially. She was not as pretty as Kathie, and had a proud air that might not be pleasant at all times ; but now she was charming.
The drive home was short, as the house stood but half a mile from the river. It was a very handsome place, and elegantly furnished. There were several younger children; but Ada had a room to herself, fitted up in a lovely manner, Kathie thought. There was a tiny sofa, a bookcase, well filled, and some pretty pictures; a cottage bedstead, with the whitest of counterpanes and dainty ruffled pillow-cases.
The two girls compared notes. Did Kathie have a piano, and could she play and sing and draw ? Did she go to parties and have beautiful dresses ?
Kathie felt rather embarrassed; but, in turn, she told about the snow-house, and how they enjoyed sledding down hill in winter. Rob and Freddy came in for a fond remembrance.
"I think children are a great bother," said Ada, "and I 'm glad that we have a nurse. You don't take care of your little brother, - do you ? "
" 0 yes; I don't mind it very much, though ; but sometimes he is quite troublesome. Only I think we always love our family so well that it is a pleasure to care for them."
Ada shrugged her shoulders.
" Can't we go in the nursery ? " Kathie asked, presently.
" Yes, if you like "; and Ada led the way to a large, plainly furnished room, strewn with toys, and containing four occupants, - a nurse and three children. The baby was a sweet little girl of about four. Kathie held out her hands and she came at once.
" Why, how odd! Florence is generally shy of strangers "; and Ada looked surprised.
But Kathie's sweet smile had won the little one.
'" What a pretty name, - Florence ! If I had such a darling little sister I should n't want ever to go away from her."
Ada smiled rather indifferently as she replied, '"But I have so much to occupy my attention, and I don't love to take care of children."
The boys began to make shy advances to Kathie. She told George about her little brother at home; and Willie asked if she did n't know any stories, But Ada had. no intention of her visitor's wasting so much time upon the children.
" I want to show you my piano," she said, " and we will take a walk in the grounds. Uncle Edward said I was to entertain you."
"Don't go 'way," pleaded Willie, holding fast her dress.
" Ask Miss Kathie if she will not call on us again," prompted the nurse.
" Ada won't let her," George appended, rather crossly.
" Hush, Georgie; that is n't nice."
They had a great time kissing Kathie, and begging her to come again. Then Ada took her down stairs and played for her quite a while. The music interested Kathie very much, still she could not help thinking of the little children in the nursery. Presently they were summoned to lunch, and afterwards the whole party rambled through the grounds. Mrs. Meredith then proposed a drive, as they would have .just about time before the boat returned.
Mr. Meredith came down stairs just as the girls were putting on their hats. " Kathie," he exclaimed, " those little rogues in the nursery insist upon saying another good by to you; will you come ? "
She was delighted to comply; and the children would have almost devoured her if Uncle Edward had not interfered.
" She will never dare venture in this lion's den again," he said, with a laugh.
The drive was delightful. Mrs. Meredith was very cordial in her invitation for them to come again, and Ada regretted that Kathie's stay must be so short.
"I begin to have some wants," Kathie said that night, sitting on Uncle Robert's knee; " I 'd like to have a piano and quantities of nice books, and a pony. Ada has such a pretty one. Will my purse buy them all ? " and she looked archly up in his face.
"You don't know until you test it."
" The visit was very pleasant," she said to Aunt Ruth, when they were alone; " but I could n't help thinking that Miss Jessie makes you happy by doing "everything your way, just as if she had asked you what you liked most, and Ada thinks her way is so much better that you ought to be pleased with it as a matter of course."
Aunt Ruth smiled. " That is the germ of selfish-
ness, Kathie, and people in Ada's circumstances have many temptations to yield to it. Only by striving very hard can it be overcome. And since my dear little girl can see it, she must endeavor to strive against it."
There were several more very busy days, and at last Kathie tried her purse. She bought a set of books for Rob, he having read stray ones and liked them very much; and she saw a most elegant little locomotive with a train of cars, that, being wound up like a clock, ran all over the floor. That must be for Fred. But then in dismay she found that she had not money enough. Just as she laid the last piece on the counter there was a glitter before her eyes, and sure enough her store was immediately in- creased.
" But if I should be away from you. Uncle Rob ? " " 0, it 's part of the bargain that you always take me along."
" Now I 'd like to buy something for mamma, - a gray silk dress, just like Mrs. Darrell's."
After quite a search they found it. Kathie laughed each time her purse was replenished.
" But you have bought nothing for yourself! "
" I believe I don't want anything just now."
" Very well," Uncle Robert said, a merry twinkle dancing in his eye a moment.
Mr. Meredith was very sorry to part with Kathie, and promised to come to Brookside as soon as the new house was in order. Several of the ladies besides Mrs. Havens had taken a great fancy to her, for she had proved herself so sweet-tempered and engaging.
" I should be real sorry to go home if it was n't for seeing mamma and Freddy and Rob, but that seems so delightful. And I wonder what they have done to the house! Then there 's Miss Jessie and Charlie, and all the girls. Yes, I believe I do want to go home."
It was royal to see them all again. Freddy nearly kissed her to death, until presently Rob said, " Come, Fred, give me a chance. Remember that I have n't seen Kathie for 'most a fortnight."
Fred opened his eyes at this, not exactly taking in the meaning.
" Dear mamma," Kathie said, '" I 'm so glad to get back to you! It has all been splendid, and I have seen ever so many nice people; but you are the best and sweetest of them all."
Two trunks came from New York instead of the one they had taken. The largest Kathie was to unpack herself.
" I tried my purse, Rob, and here 's what came out of it for you; and 0, here is mamma's share! "
" You might ha' brought me something. It 's real mean " ; and Fred's face was the picture of woe.
" Just wait and see."
She took out a large package and began tearing off the wrappings. Fred watched with anxious eyes. Kathie lifted the cars carefully out one by one, linked them together, and wound up the locomotive.
" There, Fred, you can go to Boston a dozen times a day."
He capered around the room in a most delighted fashion and declared that Kathie was the best girl in the whole world. Then he ran back to give her a hug and a dozen kisses.
"But what are all the rest, Uncle Robert?" Kathie asked.
" Go on and see."
Two flat and nearly square packages, each bearing a card containing briefly, " To Kathie, from E. M."
"0, that's Mr. Meredith. And- what lovely, lovely pictures ! They are just what I liked so much one day when he took me to a store to see Little Red Riding-Hood. Did you know it. Uncle Rob ? "
He laughed a little.
"And here 's something from Mrs. Havens. Mamma, she used to know papa, and has seen you. She was so sweet and pleasant to me."
A very curious Japanese work-box and carved sandal-wood fan. Kathie glanced first at these and then at her beautiful chromo-lithographs. They were all such a great surprise to her. Mr. Meredith would have enjoyed it very much.
Then in the bottom of the trunk were several new dresses Uncle Robert had bought her, - dainty printed pique, and two white ones.
" And what did you buy for yourself out of your wonderful purse ? " asked Bob.
" 0, nothing at all, and I don't think I needed any- thing."
As Kathie glanced up she met Uncle Robert's eyes. There was something in them that touched her deeply, a kind of approval and appreciation that told her he loved her better for her unconsciousness of self.
Kathie found herself quite a heroine at school. That she had stayed nearly two weeks at a hotel on Broadway gave her a wonderful prestige. There would have been great danger to her self-esteem if she had not thought constantly of the temptations in the way.
" What a splendid uncle you have ! " Lottie Thorne admitted.
"And that I should think him something dreadfull" said Lucy Gardiner, penitently.
"He is a real prince, and every night and morning I give thanks to God for sending him home," was .Kathie's response.
On to chapters 14-15 (conclusion)
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