ELIZABETH ANN'S SIX COUSINS
ALL ABOARD !
Aunt Hester and Keturah stood on the station platform, each holding a hand of Elizabeth Ann. A little wicker basket, the cover tied down securely with twine, was on one end of the wooden bench. Now and then this basket rocked in the most curious manner.
"I do hope, Elizabeth Ann," said Aunt Hester anxiously, "that you won't spend the entire summer in play; try to learn something every day. You will be a much happier child."
"Yes'm," said Elizabeth Ann, wishing she had a hand free to steady the basket which threatened to fall off the bench with one especially violent rock.
"Whatever you do," announced Keturah, "don't get drowned, Elizabeth Ann. You haven't any idea how large the ocean is and how the waves can roll right over you."
"I never saw the ocean," admitted Elizabeth Ann, "but I'll be careful, Keturah. If the water doesn't drown Doris, I don't believe it will drown me."
The basket tilted, balanced a moment on the edge and then fell to the floor of the platform. A loud and anguished wail sounded from under the cover.
"My darling Antonio!" cried Elizabeth Ann, breaking away from Aunt Hester and Keturah and rushing to pick up the basket. "Maybe he broke his head!"
"You would take that cat," said Aunt Hester, "and you'll probably have trouble from now on. Wouldn't you rather Keturah took him back to Maple Spring with us, Elizabeth Ann?"
For answer Elizabeth Ann hugged the basket closely in her arms.
"Antonio would miss me," she declared.
"He wouldn't know what to do without me; you said I could take him, Aunt Hester."
"I say a good many silly things,"' replied Aunt Hester, "and that was one of them. However, I don't go back on my word. Take the cat, Elizabeth Ann, but do try not to let him be a trouble to your Aunt Jennie."
"I'll hold the basket while you go and say good-by to Norman," suggested Keturah. "I heard the train whistle at the Junction and that means you haven't long to wait."
Elizabeth Ann hurried off across the platform to where a little old man sat in a low, two-seated carriage, holding the reins over a fat black horse.
"Good-by, Norman," cried Elizabeth Ann, standing on tiptoe, for the platform was low. "The train is almost coming-Keturah said so. If I catch a fish at Seabridge, I'll send it to you for your supper."
That was a joke between Norman and Elizabeth Ann-that she was to catch a fish out of the ocean and send it to him for his supper some day.
"Good-by, Missy," said old Norman, shaking hands with Elizabeth Ann. "Maple Spring is going to he lonesome without you; tell Ebenezer good-by, too, for he knows you're going well as I do."
"Good-by, Ebenezer, dear," whispered Elizabeth Ann, patting the fat little black horse. "I hope you'll have a nice summer and hardly any flies to bother you."
Then Elizabeth Ann ran back to Aunt Hester, for the train was already rounding the curve and people were coming out of the waiting room with their bags and satchels.
Keturah put her arms around the little girl and bugged her tightly. Elizabeth Ann felt her fumbling with the pocket of her middy blouse.
"Good-by, dear little Elizabeth Ann," murmured Keturah, her kind blue eyes looking as though there might be tears back of them. "Don't forget you've promised to write to us." Elizabeth Ann hugged Keturah with sudden warmth. She didn't want to go away and leave her at all. But Aunt Hester was pulling her forward and with one more kiss, Elizabeth Ann, carrying her wicker basket, followed Aunt Hester.
"This is my niece, Elizabeth Ann Loring," said Aunt Hester to the conductor, who stood at the step of the car, his watch in his hand. "She is going to Seabridge and will you he so good as to see that she is set down at the right station? Someone will meet her there. "
The conductor smiled at Elizabeth Ann, who smiled back. She was used to traveling with kind train conductors-hadn't she come across the continent with Mr. Hobart not so long ago ?-and she liked riding on trains.
"I'll take care of her, Madam," said the conductor to Aunt Hester. "This her bag? Right. And this basket hers? Right. And this the young lady herself?-"
He was going to swing Elizabeth Ann up to the platform as easily as he had swung her little traveling bag, but Aunt Hester stopped him.
"Good-by, Elizabeth Ann darling," she whispered, lifting Elizabeth Ann up to kiss her softly. "I'm going to miss you more than I like to think. And you must come back soon to stay with me again."
Then Aunt Hester turned right around and walked back to where Norman and the carriage waited and never turned around to see Elizabeth Ann wave to her. But Keturah stood on the platform and waved her handkerchief till Elizabeth Ann was out of sight.
"Aunt Hester was going to cry," said Elizabeth Ann to herself. "She never cries. Oh, dear, maybe I'm going to cry, too," she added in dismay.
But Elizabeth Ann didn't cry. That was because the basket with Antonio in it, fell off the seat and the cat said, "Meow!" so loudly that all the other passengers heard him and laughed.
"Bless me!" said the conductor, much astonished. "What have you got in that basket?"
"He's my cat," exclaimed Elizabeth Ann, smiling instead of crying. "His name is Antonio, because he is an Italian cat-his mother belonged to an Italian cobbler. Keturah gave him to me. ' '
The conductor had put Elizabeth Ann into a seat, next the window and Antonio and his basket and the traveling bag were on the seat beside her. Her trunk, she knew, was in the baggage car. Elizabeth Ann had really traveled a good deal for a seven-year old girl and knew something of trains and trunks.
"Here's my ticket," she said to the conductor, opening her little purse.
"Seabridge-right," answered the conductor, punching the ticket with his shining punch that clicked so delightfully-Elizabeth Ann always liked to see it make tiny holes in the tickets. "And now what about the cat?"
"The-the cat?" stammered the little girl.
"Yes, his tickets, ' ' said the conductor. ' ' Of course you have them? Nine tickets for one cat-that's what I must have."
' ' Nine tickets! ' ' cried Elizabeth Ann. ' ' Nine tickets for Antonio!"
The train was rattling along now and the conductor did not have much to do. Ryeville, where Elizabeth Arm had boarded the train, was a small country station and few passengers had taken the train beside the little girl.
"Nine tickets-isn't that right, Bill?" said the conductor, stopping a young brakeman 'who was passing through the coach. "Don't we always have nine tickets for a cat passenger?"
"Certainly," said the brakeman soberly. "One for each of his lives."
Then Elizabeth Ann laughed. She knew they were teasing her. Antonio didn't need any ticket at all.
"Take my advice and don't let him out of the basket, though," said the conductor, before he went down the aisle to collect the other tickets. "You might not be able to get him back again in time to leave the train at Seabridge."
"I won't take him out," promised Elizabeth Ann. ' ' Keturah said not to do it. ' '
Elizabeth Ann took off her hat, for it felt hot on her head and, picking up the basket with the cat in it, she tried to talk to the poor kitty and "make him feel better," as she said.
"Hush-a-bye, Antonio," she hummed softly. "You'll like it when we get to Seabridge. Aunt Jennie lives there and Doris and the big ocean. And you can catch a fish and eat it and I'll catch one and send it to Norman for his supper. Hush-a-bye-hush-a-bye."
The train rushed along, over the shining rails and Elizabeth Ann went on talking softly to her cat. Presently they came to a station and the train stopped and more people got on. Elizabeth Ann was sure the conductor would tell her when they came to Seabridge, so she did not move.
"All the seats are full!" cried a voice crossly.
" Sit there-that's a good seat, " said another voice.
"I want to sit next to the window!" complained a little girl's voice.
Down the aisle, facing Elizabeth Ann, came a tired-looking woman with her arms filled with bundles. Ahead of her darted a boy, older than Elizabeth Ann and behind him was a girl about the same age.
"You can't have a whole seat to yourself !" said this little girl, stopping short beside Elizabeth Ann. "You have to take that bag and that basket off and let us sit down. "
"The conductor put them there," explained. Elizabeth Ann, picking up the wicker basket again and trying to lift down her traveling bag at the same time.
"I want to sit next the window!" said the strange little girl again.
Elizabeth Ann felt that she expected her to move and let her have the seat next the window. The mother, too, stood waiting. There seemed. to be nothing to do but to slip out and let them have the seat and in another moment Elizabeth Ann found herself standing in the aisle with her bag. The cat basket, in some mysterious manner, had landed in the hands of the boy.
"Don't open that!" cried Elizabeth Ann in alarm as she saw the boy turning and twisting the string that fastened down the cover.
His little sister had squeezed past him into the seat and the mother was busily arranging her bundles and parcels. The boy pried the cover up, the string snapped and a white, furry body pushed up the cover of the basket. There was the sound of sharp little claws scratching, a glimpse of two angry green eyes and. then Antonio wriggled free and like a flash went down the aisle of the train.
"Stop him!" cried Elizabeth Ann in distress. "Please, somebody stop him! Here, kitty, kitty!"
Antonio sped straight for the open door of the car and after him went Elizabeth Ann calling, "Kitty, Kitty," every step of the way.
The cat paused a moment on the platform of the car, then dashed, down the steps. Almost losing her balance, Elizabeth Ann tumbled after -and fell into the arms of the conductor.
"Here, here, what do you call this?" he asked in surprise, holding her tightly in spite of her struggles.
"My kitty!" panted Elizabeth Ann. "He got away-let me go!"
Elizabeth Ann might give up her seat without a protest, but she wasn't going to lose her own special pet cat and say nothing. The harder she struggled to get away, the more tightly the conductor held her.
"You can't go chasing off, Elizabeth Ann," he said quietly. "The train will start as soon as the express comes through-hey, Bill! Bill, over this way!" he shouted so suddenly that Elizabeth Ann jumped.
The station porter had appeared in the doorway of the waiting room, holding a white cat high in air. It was Antonio and he was spitting and clawing with all his little cat might.
"Over here, Bill," called the conductor, still keeping a firm grasp on Elizabeth Ann's arm.
The porter walked over with the cat and Elizabeth Ann held up her arms.
"This tornado your cat?" asked the porter with a grin. "He came rushing into the waiting room and pretty near scared a lady into fits; she said he was mad."
"He isn't mad," said Elizabeth Ann indignantly. "His feelings are hurt and he's not used to traveling. He is a lovely cat."
The conductor lifted the little girl and her cat to the platform again. Just inside the door of the car there was a little room with a narrow red plush seat in it. No one was there.
"You sit here, Elizabeth Ann," said the conductor, " till I come for you. Don't let that cat get away and don't go anywhere else, till I come."
Elizabeth Ann sat down on the seat and stroked Antonio. The express, thundering by on the next track, frightened the cat more than ever, but Elizabeth Ann told him that the noise was only the train they were waiting for and he consented to settle down and even to purr a little after a bit.
"Now our train's going again," said Elizabeth Ann as the wheels began to move slowly.
The brakeman went through and smiled at her. It was warm and stuffy in the little room and Elizabeth Ann wished the conductor would come.
While she is waiting, perhaps you'd like to know more about her and where she-and Antonio-were going. Of course, if you have read the first book about Elizabeth Ann-" The Adventures of Elizabeth Ann," it is called- you know that she was a little girl who came East to visit her aunts while her father and mother were traveling in Japan. This first book told about Elizabeth Ann's experiences in New York, where she visited Aunt Isabel and went to a city public school. In this first book, too, Elizabeth Ann made friends with Mr. Robert, who owned a whole railroad and for whom many conductors and trainmen worked. From Aunt Isabel's, Elizabeth Ann went to see Aunt Hester, her great-aunt.
Aunt Hester lived in the country and the second book, called "Elizabeth Ann at Maple Spring" tells what the little girl did in the country and of the friends she made there. First there was Keturah, who named the cats, and the Vreeland children with whom Elizabeth Ann played. It was Victor Vreeland who got Elizabeth Ann into great trouble over the blue colonial pitcher and the affair wasn't straightened out till Aunt Jennie came visiting. But afterward Elizabeth Ann and Aunt Hester understood each other better and the little girl knew her great-aunt would truly miss her when she went to Seabridge.
And when we find her on the train, she was going to Seabridge to see Aunt Jennie and the great ocean. Aunt Jennie had six boys and girls of her own and they had never seen Elizabeth Ann. Antonio had been given to Elizabeth Ann at Maple Spring and she was taking him to the seashore with her.
"Where's your bag, child?" said the conductor, finally, to Elizabeth Ann's relief, crossing from the car ahead into the one in which she sat, waiting.
"It's back there," replied Elizabeth Ann, "and Antonio's basket, too. He got out."
"So I see," said the conductor. "How did he happen to get out and why did you leave the seat?"
Elizabeth Ann looked troubled. She was afraid it was going to be hard to explain.
"There was a lady," she said slowly, "and a little girl and boy. And the little girl wanted to sit next to the window, so I got up. And the boy took Antonio's basket and-"
The conductor looked down the aisle and saw Elizabeth Ann's bag sitting on the floor and the opened basket beside it.
"' I think I understand, " he said. " We '11 go into the car ahead. Wait a moment."
He picked up the bag and the basket and came back with them. Then he helped Elizabeth Ann put Antonio back in the basket and tie him in and next they went into the other car where there were more seats.
"Now you are to sit here and no matter who comes, don't you budge," announced the conductor kindly. "There are only two more stations before we come to Seabridge, anyway. I will come to you when it is time to get off."
It was pleasant in the new car and Elizabeth Ann enjoyed looking out of the window. Antonio was quiet and his mistress hoped he was taking a nap.
"Why," said Elizabeth Ann to herself, "why, there's something in my pocket!"
Sure enough, there was a little hard lump in the pocket of her middy blouse and when she pulled out the lump, it was a package of small chocolate cakes, each wrapped in tinfoil. There was something else, too, something round and wrapped in tinfoil like the chocolate.
"Keturah must have put them in my pocket," thought Elizabeth Ann, remembering that she had felt Keturah do something to her pocket. "She did it when she was hugging me."
Elizabeth Ann opened the round package first Two tiny gold pieces rolled into her lap. A tightly wound piece of white paper uncurled as the gold. pieces separated. There was something written on this white paper and Elizabeth Ann could read it easily for the words were written in Aunt Hester's writing which was as clear as print.
"For Elizabeth Ann, with Aunt Hester's love," read Elizabeth Ann under her breath.
"Why, Aunt Hester gave them to me!"
And so she had. Aunt Hester had asked Keturah to wrap the money with her chocolate because Aunt Hester was one of those people who do a great many kind and lovely things but who find. it much harder to say kind and lovely words than to write them.
Elizabeth Ann stopped the brakeman when he came through and showed him the gold pieces and explained where they had come from.
"Put them in your pocketbook," he said at once. "They're five dollar gold pieces and ten dollars is a lot of money for a little girl to have."
Elizabeth Ann thought so, too, and she put them away in her little leather purse and gave the brakeman a piece of her chocolate. He had to go and call the name of the station they were coming to just then, but he told Elizabeth Ann that the next one would be Seabridge.
"I hope Aunt Jennie comes to meet me," thought Elizabeth Ann, taking Antonio's basket into her lap so that she wouldn't rush off the train in a hurry and perhaps forget it. " I don't know my cousins, but I do know my Aunt Jennie."
She had seen her once, at Aunt Hester's, but she was sure Aunt Jennie had not changed. But the idea of six new cousins rather frightened Elizabeth Ann and the more she thought of them, the shyer she felt.
"Seabridge! " called the brakeman, standing in the doorway of the car and calling as loudly as he could. "Seabridge! All off for Seabridge! Change here for Clearwater, Point Breakers and Inlet City!"
"This is your station," said the conductor, hurrying up to Elizabeth Ann. "Have you the cat ? All right, come on."
He took her bag and Elizabeth Ann hurried after him, down the aisle. She stood just behind him as the train pulled into the station and she saw a pretty cream-colored brick building standing in the center of a very green lawn. A border of the whitest clam shells she had ever seen went all around this lawn and spelled out "S-E-A-B-B-I-D-G-E" across the front terrace.
"Did a little girl named Elizabeth Ann Loring come on this train, conductor?" said a voice suddenly. Elizabeth Ann could not see the speaker.
SIX NEW COUSINS
The train stopped with a final grinding of brakes and the conductor steadied Elizabeth Ann so that she would not fall.
"I have one Elizabeth Ann Loring," the conductor said, going carefully down the steps. "She may not be the right one."
He turned and lifted Elizabeth Ann down. The brakeman was helping people off the train at the next set of steps, so for a moment they had the platform to themselves at that end of the car.
"There isn't but one Elizabeth Ann," said the voice and then Elizabeth Ann discovered that it belonged to a young man with such merry blue eyes and such dark red curly hair and so many cheerful freckles splashed across his tanned face that it was no wonder he had a gay and pleasant voice.
He took Elizabeth Ann and the cat basket into his arms and. held them on his shoulder, while he held out his other hand to shake hands with the conductor.
"We're all grateful to you, sir," he said pleasantly, "for bringing us our little cousin; I ride with your brother on the 7:32 every morning."
The conductor shook hands and seemed. pleased and then he said good-by to Elizabeth Ann and told her she had been a "model passenger." The brakeman waved, too, as the train pulled out and the tall young cousin stood there holding her till the last car swept around the curve.
"I'll see about your trunk and then we'll go," he said, putting her down, but keeping hold of one of her hands as though he feared she might dash after the disappearing train.
Elizabeth Ann glanced at him shyly as she gave him the trunk check Aunt Hester's Norman had given her at the Ryeville station. He looked as though he might be a jolly kind of a big brother and all her life Elizabeth Ann had wished for a big brother. She had no brothers of her own and no sisters.
"They'll bring the trunk out to the house this afternoon," said the young man. "We have to wait a minute for Jerry-do you mind?"
"No, I don't mind," answered Elizabeth Ann politely. "Who is Jerry?"
The young man threw back his head and laughed. Then he asked Elizabeth Ann to excuse him.
"I'm always making mistakes," he said. "It's just like me to never explain a thing to you. I'm your cousin, Rodney-Rod for short-and Jerry is another cousin. And there are four more of us at home, waiting to see you."
"I thought you were a cousin," said Elizabeth Ann. "Is Aunt Jennie home, too-and the ocean?"
"Everything's home, " said Rodney. "You see, Elizabeth Ann, this is Saturday and a half holiday for Jerry and me-we work in the city; I just came down on a train that got in ten minutes ahead of you, but Jerry can't make it and his train is twenty minutes later. We're waiting so he can ride out home with us."
While they waited, Elizabeth Ann told him about her trip and how she had almost lost Antonio.
"Aunt Hester wrote to Aunt Jennie and she said I could bring him," she added a bit anxiously. " He's a very nice cat and he won't be any trouble."
" Why, of course not, " said Rodney. " A cat is company, not a trouble. There, I hear Jerry's train whistling-see the smoke up the track?"
That reminded Elizabeth Ann to ask a question. If she wouldn't know Jerry when she saw him and she hadn't known Rodney, how had her cousin known she was Elizabeth Ann?
"Your Aunt Hester telegraphed Mother that she would send you in charge of the conductor," Rodney explained. "So I knew that if the conductor had a little girl, named Elizabeth Ann, with him, she must be you."
"Oh!" murmured Elizabeth Ann.
She tried to dodge behind Rodney as the train thundered into the station, but he put both hands on her shoulders and gently pushed her forward.
"Here she is, Jerry," he said.
Jerry was tall, as tall as Rodney. He did not swing Elizabeth Ann into the air as his brother had done, but he stooped to kiss her, bringing his head on a level with hers. Elizabeth Ann saw that he had the kindest gray eyes in the world and quite the nicest smile she had ever seen. She looked at him a moment gravely and then put her two arms about his neck and kissed him, too. She liked Rodney-he was so cheerful and gay and talkative that everyone liked him-but she loved Jerry the moment she saw him.
There was a garage across the street from the station and they all walked over there to get the car. It was a rather shabby little automobile and Elizabeth Ann learned that Jerry and Rodney rode to the station in it every morning and usually left it at the garage till they came home at night. Sometimes their mother drove them to the train and. then she took the car home, but not often. She was too busy to do much driving.
Rodney drove this time and Elizabeth Ann and Jerry and Antonio-still in his basket, for Jerry said he would be safer there-rode on the back seat.
Rodney drove the car straight down the wide street that led from the station and before Elizabeth Ann knew what he meant to do, he had made a sharp turn and stopped.
" There! " he said. " Look, Elizabeth Ann. "
Elizabeth Ann stood up. Her eyes began to shine. She was looking at blue, sparkling water that danced in the sun, beautiful blue water that rose in long glistening curls and broke with a crash into white, foamy water that ran up on the clean, yellow sand and back again. Elizabeth Ann was sure she could run faster than the water did; it did not seem to hurry at all.
"It's the ocean!" she whispered.
As far as she could see, was the sparkling water. Further away it was a deeper blue and little white flecks showed here and there. As Elizabeth Ann stared, a long, black ship, far, far out at sea caught her attention. And then a ship with white sails further in. She had not seen them at first, though they had been there all the time. She had seen only the blue ocean.
"Could-could I go down in it?" she asked Jerry.
"Not now, dear-speed up, Rod," was Jerry's answer. "We must go home first, but you'll have weeks to play in the sand and plenty of company."
Rodney turned the car and sent it flying down the beach road which ended suddenly in a heap of white sand overgrown with coarse grass. Jerry told Elizabeth Ann that this was called a "sand dune."
"Our house is on the other side," he said. "We have to go up this street to reach it. We 'll be there in a minute now."
"It smells so nice," said Elizabeth Ann, taking a deep breath.
The Masons lived some distance from the town and past the few large cottages and the two fashionable hotels that housed the summer population. Their house was in a rather lonely place, as far as neighbors went and it was at the end of the road and almost "on top of the ocean" as Rodney liked to say. Elizabeth Ann had been looking back at a large sand dune they had just passed and she was surprised when Rodney said, "Here we are!"
Then she saw a little brown house with a scrap of a front yard gay with flowers and, coming through the gate, dear Aunt Jennie. Elizabeth Ann was out of the car and in her arms, before either of the boys could lift her down.
"My darling Elizabeth Ann!" cried Aunt Jennie and Elizabeth Ann who had sadly missed petting at Aunt Hester's-though Keturah did her best to cheer her when she was lonely-hugged Aunt Jennie as though she never meant to let her go.
"Here's Emmy, Elizabeth Ann," said Aunt Jennie quickly. "And this is Doris and Ted and Lan-come and speak to your cousin, children."
Emmy was a pretty girl about fifteen years old. She kissed Elizabeth Ann warmly and so did Doris. Elizabeth Ann had heard about Doris before-when Aunt Jennie came to visit Aunt Hester. Doris, she knew, was six months older than herself. Ted was a freckled-faced youngster of ten and Lan-that was short for "Lansing" he afterward told Elizabeth Ann, was a lad of twelve.
Aunt Jennie took Elizabeth Ann upstairs to her own room and helped her get ready for dinner.
"We have it at one o'clock Saturdays, when the boys are home," said Aunt Jennie, "though during the week I have to have dinner at night for them. You are going to sleep in the room where Doris sleeps, so you won't be lonely. All ready, dear ? Then we'll go downstairs."
Elizabeth Ann, in the excitement of meeting so many new cousins, had forgotten Antonio.
She remembered him when she saw the basket on the hall table.
"Could I unwrap my cat, Aunt Jennie ?" she asked wistfully.
"That poor cat! Take him out at once," said Aunt Jennie, and Rodney opened his knife and cut the string that made Antonio a prisoner.
He was inclined to be cross and he went under a sofa in the parlor as soon as he was released, but the children soon coaxed him out. Indeed he had so much attention that it was no wonder he couldn't stay angry. Doris got him a saucer of milk and Emmy brushed his hair smooth with a little brush and Rodney and Jerry fed him bits of their chop at the dinner table.
"Isn't it nice here!" said Elizabeth Ann when Aunt Jennie brought in the rice pudding. "There's seven of us at this one table."
On to chapters 4-5