ALL HAPPY AGAIN
Scanned by Deidre Johnson for her
Josephine Lawrence website;
please do not use on other sites without permission
But the next morning Elizabeth Ann decided that perhaps it would be better to tell Aunt Isabel that night, and she went off to school without saying a word to her.
"Did you bring your absence excused" asked Miss Brice when she called the roll.
"No'm," she replied in a very little voice.
"Don't come back to school this afternoon without it, or you will have to stay after the session for half an hour," said Miss Brice sternly.
And Elizabeth Ann had to stay after school because there was no one home at noon except Rosa and Annie. Rosa did not say anything when she said she had been kept in and that was why she was late, and for a minute Elizabeth Ann thought of asking her to write the absence excuse.
"Anyone can write it," Emma Spinelli had said that morning. "Your aunt doesn't have to—lots of times my big brother writes mine."
But Elizabeth Ann was sure that Rosa would not write an excuse for her, unless Aunt Isabel was told of it first.
Miss Brice was very much put out when Elizabeth Ann appeared at school the next morning without her excuse. She scolded her before the whole class, and the little girl was glad that Emma Spinelli was not there—she was at home sick with a cold—because Emma would certainly think it was queer that she did not tell her aunt about the party. She herself did not know why the longer she put off telling the harder it seemed to tell, but it was.
"If you come back to school this afternoon without that excuse," said Miss Brice, when on the fourth morning Elizabeth Ann had to confess that she had not brought the absence excuse, "you will have to go home. You cannot come to school again till you bring me a written excuse."
Elizabeth Ann went home to lunch at noon wishing with all her heart that she had told Aunt Isabel about the party at once. And then when she reached the apartment, she found Aunt Isabel in wild excitement packing her bag to go to Atlantic City.
"Mrs. Carter telephoned me only this morning," said Aunt Isabel, hastily folding up a pretty petticoat. "She wants me to go down with her for the week-end. Uncle Ralph will be home, dear, and you'll have Rosa. I'll bring you something nice, too."
Aunt Isabel had on her hat and veil, and she spent so much time at the telephone that the little girl was almost through her lunch before her aunt came to the table. Then Aunt Isabel drank a cup of tea, and Rosa said the taxi was at the door, and with a swift kiss and hug she was gone and Elizabeth Ann was left alone.
She hoped, forlornly, that Miss Brice would forget about the absence excuse, but the teacher asked for it as soon as the children were in their seats for the afternoon session.
'I—I didn't bring it," she whispered.
"Then you may put on your hat and coat and don't come back until you have it," said Miss Brice crossly. "When I say a thing I mean it, Elizabeth Ann."
Poor Elizabeth Ann put on her hat and coat —the class watching her curiously—and went out of the room. The vice-principal met her in the hall and asked her where she was going, and she had to explain that she was sent home because she had not brought her absence excuse.
"Oh, dear, I think I have a lot of trouble," sighed the little girl, forgetting that most of it was her own fault.
By the time she reached the apartment house she was feeling very bad indeed. She had to have an absence excuse, and Aunt Isabel was in Atlantic City, and there was nobody to help her. And when Annie came to the door in answer to her knock, she remembered that it was Rosa's afternoon off, too.
"Aren't you early"?" asked Annie, who was good-natured and kind, but more interested in puddings and cakes than in school and little girls. "Rosa is coming back to give you your supper, she promised your Aunt Isabel she would; but she thought you wouldn't be home till after three."
"I'm going to play with Nancy," said Elizabeth Ann.
Annie went back to her kitchen, and Elizabeth Ann went into her room and got Nancy, who always sat smiling in the rocking chair until she was wanted. But Nancy didn't seem to make her feel any better, and presently she took the doll into the pleasant living-room and curled up with her in one corner of the large sofa. She stayed there quietly a long time and by and by she heard Rosa come in, but she did not say anything.
"Oh, there you are!" cried Rosa, coming into the room a minute or two later. "Annie said you were home, dear. I meant to be here when you came, but there was a block on the subway."
"Where's Elizabeth Ann?" called a cheerful voice, and. the door shut with the bang that Uncle Ralph always gave it. "Where's my little girl? I thought we'd have a little ride before dinner."
Rosa smiled and slipped away, but Elizabeth Ann only cuddled down closer in the pillows.
"What's the matter?" asked Uncle Ralph, coming over and sitting down beside her. "Don't you feel well, dear? Are you lonesome?"
Elizabeth Ann sat up and pushed Nancy away. She would tell Uncle Ralph about that awful absence excuse, and perhaps he could help her.
"Uncle Ralph," she began, and then she began to cry, and Uncle Ralph lifted her up and carried her over to one of the comfortable armchairs and held her in his lap while she sobbed out the whole story. She had tried to ask Aunt Isabel, she said, but Aunt Isabel was always somewhere else.
"And I can't go to school again till I have an absence excuse, Miss Brice said so," she finished. "And what will Aunt Isabel say when she knows I went to Emma's house without asking?"
"Well, of course, that was a very naughty thing to do," said Uncle Ralph gravely. "I remember I distinctly told you to ask Aunt Isabel before you went to visit anyone. And you see what trouble this disobedience has made you, dear. However, I will write you the excuse—Miss Brice will accept one from me, I am sure—and you must remember that something very serious will happen to you if you ever do such a thing again. Don't be afraid to say 'No' to little friends when they tease you to do something you have been told not to do. And now we'll go driving and forget our troubles."
"But do I have to tell Aunt Isabel?" she asked anxiously.
"What do you think?" said Uncle Ralph. "You needn't, unless you think you should."
"I guess I will," she answered bravely, and she knew that Uncle Ralph was pleased by the way he kissed her.
They had a very happy time over Sunday.
Friday morning Elizabeth Ann took a note from Uncle Ralph to school, and. Miss Brice said that made everything all right. Uncle Ralph came home early Friday afternoon and took her driving again, and Saturday they took a long walk in the morning and went to see the motion-picture of "Mother Goose" in the afternoon. And all day Sunday—which was rainy—Uncle Ralph read to her and told her stories about things he had done when he was a little boy.
"I wish Uncle Ralph was home all the time," she confided to Rosa, who laughed and said that no uncle or daddy could stay home all the time, or there would never be any work done downtown, and then there would be no bread and butter or shoes for the little boys and girls.
When Aunt Isabel came home from Atlantic City, Monday night, Elizabeth Ann told her all about the party she had gone to and the trouble about the absence excuse. Aunt Isabel did not like to think, she said, that her little niece would do such a thing, but she was sure that she had been punished enough and that she would never do it again. And she did not think that the chain of blue beads she had brought her from the seashore would have to be put away—not if Elizabeth Ann was sure she could remember without that.
Elizabeth Ann was sure she could, so she had the blue beads and wore them to school the next day, and all the girls admired them very much.
Every afternoon now the sun was warmer on the Drive and it was pleasanter and pleasanter outdoors. Aunt Isabel liked to have her stay out in the air, and after she had become acquainted with several children, Elizabeth Ann liked to stay out, too. Sometimes Rosa went with her and sat on one of the benches while she played, but often she was busy and Elizabeth Ann went alone.
'Get your hoop and come on out," called a little girl who lived in one of the apartments near Aunt Isabel's, one afternoon not long after the sad experience of the absence excuse.
This little girl's name was Frances, and Elizabeth Ann liked her very much.
Rosa helped her find her hoop and she hurried out and over to the Drive. There she found a group of children interested in an entirely new playmate.
"Come see Jackie!" one of the little boys called. "He can do tricks and everything."
She had to wait for several automobiles to pass before she could run across the road. She thought that Jackie must be another boy, and she wondered what kinds of tricks he could do.
POOR LITTLE ROBIN
But Jackie wasn't a little boy at all. He was a brown shaggy doggie, and Elizabeth Ann loved him at once.
"Whose dog is he? Where did he come from?" she asked in delight.
"He belongs to a sailor," explained the boy who had called to her. "Here he comes now -watch him make him do tricks."
The brown, smiling young sailor came up to the group of children and the little dog wagged his tail joyfully.
"Make him do tricks!" cried the boys, "Please make him do tricks."
"All right-stand back, half a dozen of you," said the sailor good-naturedly. "Want to dance for 'em, Jackie?"
He pulled a mouth-organ from his pocket and began to play. Instantly the little shaggy dog stood up on his hind legs and began to waltz. His eyes twinkled as he danced and he seemed to be enjoying the amazement of the children.
"How's that?" grinned the sailor as he stopped playing and the dog lay down, panting because he was so warm.
"Isn't he lovely!" cried the little girls.
"Can he do any more?" asked the boys.
"Sure he can-here Jackie," called the sailor. "March for 'em!"
He played a marching tune on the mouth-organ, and the little dog marched up and down like a soldier. Then he "played dead" and sat up and begged, and barked to say what time it was, and stood on his head. The children were loud in their praises and one of the boys wanted to buy him.
"My father will buy him for me, I know he will," he said. ' ' Won't you bring Jackie over to our house while I ask him?"
"Sell Jackie?" repeated the sailor. "Sell that dog? Why, son, you'd have to fight the whole crew of our ship before you or your father could buy him. He's our mascot, Jackie is, and there isn't enough money in New York to get him away from us."
The boys and girls were anxious to see Jackie go through his tricks again, but the sailor said he had to go downtown and already had spent more time playing with them than he should.
"I'll be back this way in an hour or so," he told them, "and then, if any of you are around I'll play for Jackie to dance again for you."
After the sailor and his dog had gone, the children looked about for something else to amuse them. Hoops and kiddie-cars and their other playthings did not seem much fun after a live pet, so when Elizabeth Ann saw something in the road they all rushed for the curb, hoping to find another dog.
"Pshaw! it's only a robin," said Ted Masters in disgust. "Isn't that just like a girl!"
"But it's hurt," she protested. "See, it drags its wing. Something has happened to it, I am sure."
"Let's catch it and put it in a cage," suggested Letty Morris.
"My canary bird died last week and we still have his cage," said another little girl. "Come on, let's get the robin and keep it in the cage."
The poor robin was hopping painfully along the Drive, dragging one wing on the ground. It was evidently suffering and Elizabeth Ann felt like crying.
"Come on, help me catch him," urged Ted impatiently. "Come on, what are you waiting for?"
Most of them were waiting because they had been forbidden to go out in the road where the automobiles were constantly whizzing past, but at Ted's urging they followed him and tried to creep up and surround the bird.
Mr. Robin was too wise for that, however, and he dodged and slipped and hopped from place to place so nimbly, in spite of the broken wing, that they could not catch him.
"There's too many of you," Ted decided presently. "You all go back and stand on the curb, 'cept Elizabeth Ann. She can help
me drive him. We'll shoo him into the gutter and then pick him up."
The poor bird was very tired now and he hopped feebly as the two approached him. They had driven him to one side and almost into the gutter, when the warning born of an automobile sounded.
"Look out!" called Ted.
Elizabeth Ann stepped back and so did he, but he held up his hand to the motorist as a policeman does when he wishes a car to stop. The man driving the car paid no attention and drove swiftly by. There was a loud cry from Elizabeth Ann, and a wail from the children watching on the curb.
The automobile had gone right over the robin!
"Don't cry, please don't," begged Ted as he stooped and picked up the little bunch of feathers. The robin was quite dead. "I don't believe we could have mended his wing and he wouldn't have a nice time if he couldn't fly, no matter how good we were to him."
But Elizabeth Ann couldn't help crying as she stroked, the pretty soft feathers, and the other little girls cried too.
They had forgotten about the sailor, and he came up to them as they were looking at the robin which Ted had placed on one of the benches.
"Poor thing," said the sailor kindly, when they showed him the little bird. "Broke his wing, did he? Well, I don't believe anyone could have fixed it for him so he could fly again and he's much better off now. Don't cry, Sister."
"I-I can't help it," sobbed Elizabeth Ann. "He was so cunning. And the policeman said to throw him in the trash-can. I won't have him thrown in the trash-can."
A motor-cycle policeman, passing the group of youngsters and seeing the dead bird on the bench, had made this suggestion.
"No, you needn't throw him in the trash- can," replied the kind young sailor. "We'll have a funeral for him. When I was a kid I was always helping my sister have funerals for her pet canaries."
"What made 'em die?" Elizabeth Ann asked, forgetting the robin for a moment.
"Well mostly it was the cat," admitted the sailor. "He'd reach his paw through the bars of the cage and strike the birds. Where would you like this robin buried?"
"I don't know," she said doubtfully. "Where did your sister bury her canaries?"
"In the garden," answered the sailor promptly. ' "Under a mulberry bush."
"But none of us have gardens," said Ted Masters.
"No garden? Then I wouldn't live in New York," the sailor said. "But what about that pot of posies-whose garden is that?"
He pointed across the street to the large urn of pansies that stood in the paved court of one of the largest apartment houses.
"That's the house we live in," said Letty Morris. "That isn't a garden."
'Well, I guess it is large enough for a robin's grave," answered the sailor. "Don't you suppose we could bury him there under the pansies?"
"The janitor wouldn't like it," said Letty. "He's always cross."
"I'll go ask him," declared Elizabeth Ann. "I don't believe he will be cross when he knows we want to bury a robin. Will pansies do as well as a mulberry bush?"
"Every bit as well," the sailor assured her. "Do you want me to go with you to ask the janitor?"
Elizabeth Ann thought perhaps that would be better, so the sailor went across the street with her to the basement of the apartment house.
They found the janitor standing in the doorway, and when he heard about the robin, he wasn't cross at all. He offered to lend them a fire-shovel to dig with, and an empty match box to bury the little robin in. Elizabeth Ann thought he was a very nice janitor, and so did the sailor.
"Just so you're careful to dig between the roots of the pansies and not hurt 'em, you can do as you please," the janitor said.
So they had the robin's funeral right away. The sailor helped them put the small body in the match box, and then they put the box in an express wagon that belonged to one of the boys, and Jackie was harnessed up to that and he pulled it across the street, and all the children followed.
Elizabeth Ann and Ted Masters dug the little grave in the flower urn, and after the box was put in and the earth patted down you could see nothing but the bright-faced flowers.
"That's a beautiful place for a little bird to sleep," said the sailor gently, "Now when you think of him, remember that he is no longer suffering from a broken wing; he's rested and happy."
Then, as everyone felt a bit solemn and sorry still, the sailor went back with them to the Drive and played on the mouth-organ for Jackie to dance. And, when the dog was tired, he played other tunes for them, different airs, many of them the national anthems of foreign countries.
"Well, time's up and I must go on ship," said the sailor finally, putting his mouth-organ away in his pocket. "This time tomorrow we'll be on our way to Japan."
And when Elizabeth Ann said. that her mother and daddy were in Japan and that she would write and tell them about the sailor -whose name he said was Dave-and perhaps they would some day see him and the dancing dog Jackie, the sailor said that stranger things than that had happened, and he would be on the look-out for Mr. and Mrs. Loring.
Ever since Elizabeth Ann had heard about Rosa's brothers and sisters she had wanted to see them. She was especially interested in Ruth, the little girl who was her own age and was lame. Whenever Rosa came back from spending an afternoon with them, she brought new stories that Elizabeth Ann found more exciting than any of the stories Rosa read to her from books before she went to bed.
"David and Joseph have been bad," said Rosa once, when she had just returned from a visit home. Elizabeth Ann knew that David and Joseph were the six-year-old twins. "Katie decided that they were old enough now to go to the baker's after bread and rolls, so the other morning she gave them money for a dozen rolls. And what do you suppose those youngsters did?"
"What?" Elizabeth Ann asked eagerly. "What did they do, Rosa?"
"They bought cake," said Rosa seriously. "Fancy little cakes with icing on, and they ate every one of them up before they came into the house."
"Oh, my!" she gasped. "Did Katie scold them?"
"No, she didn't scold them, but I'll tell you what she did do," answered Rosa. "She gave them only bread and milk to eat that day, and for a whole week they are not to have the tiniest crumb of dessert."
Usually Rosa laughed at the stories she told of her little brothers and sisters, but some times she could not see the "funny side" to tell.
"I wish I had a great deal of money," she said one day after she had been home.
"Why?" asked Elizabeth Ann, whose two green one dollar bills Daddy had given her were still untouched in her little red purse.
"Oh, it takes so much for the children!" sighed poor Rosa. "Here I am trying to save every cent for Ruth's operation, and Peter breaks a plate glass window that will cost twenty dollars to replace."
"Twenty dollars!" Elizabeth Ann echoed. " That is a great deal of money, isn't it ? Why did he break the window?"
"It was an accident," explained Rosa. "The boys have no place to play, except the streets, and it's a wonder to me more accidents don't happen. They were playing ball and Peter threw a ball that went right through a big candy store window. Of course he is awfully sorry and wants to pay for it himself, but he has only the paper route and that doesn't earn much money. I just paid a dentist bill for him, too-it seems as though I can never save any money."
Rosa did not often talk like this. Usually she was laughing and cheerful and told funny stories about baby Mary and the mischief the curly-headed David got into.
"Can't I go see Mary?" asked Elizabeth Ann sometimes. "Please, Rosa, can't I go home with you next time ?"
"You'll have to ask your aunt," Rosa always said.
But Aunt Isabel was not an easy person to ask. Either she was resting and must not be disturbed, or she was dressing to go out, or she came hurrying in a few minutes before meal-time with several friends. Uncle Ralph was kindness itself, and he always remembered to ask Elizabeth Ann if she was having a good time in New York, but when she spoke to him about going to see Rosa's brothers and sisters, he said quickly that only Aunt Isabel could decide that.
"Why don't you have some little girls here to play with you?' he suggested once.
"I don't think I can," answered Elizabeth Ann forlornly. "Aunt Isabel doesn't want me to ask the girls from school. "
"I suppose she thinks you'd take the piano apart and play with it, ' ' laughed Uncle Ralph.
But when Elizabeth Ann heard that Rosa was going home on Wednesday to spend the afternoon, she resolved to ask Aunt Isabel then and there if she might go with her.
She went softly down the hall and tapped at her aunt's door.
"Come in," called Aunt Isabel.
She sat at her little dressing table, cleaning her beautiful sparkling rings. She smiled pleasantly at sight of her niece.
"Go home with Rosa and see her little brothers and sisters'?" she repeated, when Elizabeth Ann asked her. "When is Rosa going, dear? To-morrow afternoon? But she will have to wait for you to come home from school, and that will shorten her afternoon almost two hours. That isn't fair to Rosa."
Elizabeth Ann had not thought of this and she looked anxiously at Aunt Isabel.
"I only have spelling in the afternoon, Aunt Isabel," she urged. "Wednesdays the teacher tells us stories the last period. Couldn't I not go back after lunch?"
Aunt Isabel polished a diamond and sapphire ring carefully before answering. Elizabeth Ann began to worry. Perhaps she could not go with Rosa after all.
"Well, I suppose if you will try to learn the spelling whether you recite it or not, the teacher will not care, " said. Aunt Isabel slowly. "Yes, I think you may go with Rosa directly after lunch to-morrow. But you must come home to dinner, dear. I will speak to Rosa."
Elizabeth Ann threw her arms about Aunt Isabel's neck and kissed her. Then she ran down the hall and burst into the dining-room where Rosa was counting the hemstitched doilies that had been used for luncheon.
"Aunt Isabel says I may go!" she cried.
Rosa was as pleased as she was, and when Aunt Isabel came in presently to say that she would send the automobile after Elizabeth Ann at five o'clock the next afternoon so that Rosa might have supper with her family as usual, she found them dancing around the dining-room together. Aunt Isabel only laughed, though Rosa blushed and wouldn't dance again even when they were alone.
"Will I see Peter and everyone?" the little girl asked, when Rosa came to tuck her into bed that night.
"I suspect you will," replied Rosa, kissing her. "The boys may be shy, but they will want to see you. They have all heard about you."
Elizabeth Ann was so excited at the idea of seeing so many new friends at once that she could not keep her mind on her lessons the next day, and Emma Spinelli had to ask her twice to lend her a pencil.
"What ails you?" said Emma curiously. "Don't you feel good?"
"Oh, yes!" she answered. "I feel all right, only I keep thinking about some other children."
"If you aren't the queerest!" retorted Emma, who could not be expected to know that when she asked for a pencil Elizabeth Ann was playing a game of hop-scotch in her mind with Elsie.
Aunt Isabel was not home to lunch, and Elizabeth Ann and Rosa hurried through that meal as fast as Annie would let them. Then they started for Rosa's house.
They took a bus, because Elizabeth Aim loved to ride up on top, and they rode a long distance. Then they walked a long way after they left the bus and finally Rosa stopped before a yellow brick building whose step was crowded with children of all ages and sizes.
" 'Lo, Rosa!" called a little dark-eyed boy. "I was watching for you."
"Elizabeth Ann," said Rosa, smiling, "this is my brother David."
On to chapter 13
Back to main page