MAKING UP WITH JIMMIE
DADDY MORRISON went to see Miss Putnam after the children had gone to bed. The old lady was very sure that Brother and Sister had thrown the tar and she was so positive in her assertions that finally he asked her how she could be so sure.
"Well, one of the neighbors told me," Miss Putnam said reluctantly. "No, I don't know your children from any of the others, but she does. All children look pretty much alike to me—noisy, scuffling young ones! No, I couldn't tell you the neighbor's name—1 wouldn't want to get her into any trouble."
When Daddy Morrison went away, she showed him the tar on her porch and sidewalk.
"Somebody ought to be made to clear it off," said Miss Putnam severely.
The chief of police, at the town hall, was a little angry that a complaint had been made merely on the word of a neighbor, who might easily be mistaken about the children she had seen throwing tar. However, as Brother and Sister said they had nothing to do with it, and Miss Putnam refused to believe them, there was nothing to do but let the complaint stand.
"Keep away from Miss Putnam's house and street," commanded Daddy Morrison at the breakfast table the next morning. "Don't go past her house except when it is absolutely necessary. We're not going to have any more bickering over this matter. Your mother and I believe you and that is all that is necessary. I shall be seriously displeased if I find you are talking it over with outsiders, especially other children."
Ralph and Dick had already taken their way to the station and now Daddy Morrison hurried to get his train.
"Why doesn't he want us to talk about it?" asked Sister, puzzled. "Couldn't I tell Nellie Yarrow?"
"I wouldn't," counseled Mother Morrison. "You see, dear, you can't help feeling that Miss Putnam has been unfair and every time you tell what she has done you will make someone else think she is unfair, too. Your friends will take your part, of course, and while you think Miss Putnam is decidedly 'mean,' she is acting right, according to her own ideas. It is never best to talk much about a quarrel of any kind."
Jimmie, who had been eating his breakfast in silence, rose and looked toward his mother.
"I suppose I have to work in that old garden?" he said aggrievedly.
"You know what your father said," replied Mother Morrison.
Jimmie did not like to weed, and the Morrison garden, when it came his turn, was often sadly neglected. He and Ralph and Dick were responsible for the care of the garden two weeks at a time during the growing season.
"Well, maybe if I stick at it this morning, I can go swimming this afternoon," muttered Jimmie. "Dad didn't say the whole thing had to be weeded today, did he?"
"He wants the new heads of lettuce transplanted, and all the onions weeded," answered Mother Morrison. "You know you were asked to 'tend to those a week ago, Jimmie."
Jimmie flung himself out of the house in rather a bad temper. He did not like to transplant lettuce and the onions must be weeded by hand. Other vegetables could be handled with a hoe, or the garden cultivator, but the eight: long rows of new onions must be carefully done down on one's hands and knees.
"Jimmie!" said a little voice at his elbow as he got the trowel and the wheelbarrow from the toolhouse. "Jimmie?"
"Well, what do you want?" demanded Jimmie shortly.
"I'll—I'll help you," offered Sister timidly. "You can't," said Jimmie. "Last time you crammed the lettuce plants in so hard they died over night."
"But I'll bring the water for 'em, in the watering-pot, and I can weed onions—1 know how to do that," insisted Sister humbly.
"I won't need the watering-pot," said Jimmie more graciously. "I'll use the hose on them all tonight. I wonder if you could weed the onions?"
"Oh, yes!" Sister assured him eagerly. "You watch me, Jimmie."
She fell on her fat little knees, and began to pull the weeds from a long row of onions.
The sun was hot and the row was very long. Before she reached the middle of it, the perspiration was running down Sister's face, and her hands were damp and grimly.
"Look here," Jimmie called to her anxiously, on his way back for more lettuce plants, "don't you want to rest? And why don't you wear a sunbonnet, or something?"
Sister stood up, straightening her aching little shoulders.
"Sunbonnets are hot," she explained carefully. "And I don't want to rest, Jimmie. I'll go get a drink of water and then I'll weed some more."
"Bring me a drink, too, will you?" Jimmie called after her.
When she brought it he forgot to say thank you because one of his friends had ridden past on his bicycle and this reminded Jimmie that he had meant to do something to his own wheel that morning. So he drank the water Sister carried out to him without a word because he was cross, and when we're cross we do not always remember to be polite.
Sister went steadily at the weeding again, and after a while Jimmie finished the lettuce, and began to weed an onion row himself.
"You can stop if you want to now," he said to Sister presently. "Don't you want to play? I can finish these."
"I'm not going to stop till they're all done," announced Sister. "Molly says the only way to get anything finished is to use plenty of per— perservance!"
Jimmie laughed and glanced at her curiously.
"I guess you mean perseverance," he suggested. "Well, Sister, you are certainly fine help. It begins to look as though I could go swimming this afternoon after all."
Surely enough, when Mother Morrison called to them that lunch was ready, they were weeding the last onion row.
"I can finish that in fifteen minutes," declared Jimmie gaily. "You're a brick, Sister! When you want me to do something for you, just mention it, will you?"
Sister beamed. She was hot and tired and she knew her face and hands were streaked and dirty. Brother had spent the morning playing with Nellie Yarrow and Ellis Carr, and Nellie's aunt had taken them to the drug store for ice-cream soda. Yet Sister, far from being sorry for her hot, busy morning in the garden, felt very happy.
"Now you don't mind, do you?" she asked Jimmie anxiously.
"Mind what?" he said, putting the wheelbarrow away in the toolhouse.
"About the butterflies," explained Sister.
"I'd forgotten all about them," declared Jimmie, bugging her.
On to chapter 18
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