DELIGHTFUL ANTICIPATIONS

“IT just seems to me,” said Marjorie, at breakfast one morning, “that I
_must_ go out and dig.”

“Dig for what?” asked King; “buried treasure?”

“No, not dig for anything, except just to dig. It’s so springish
outdoors, and so—well, such diggy weather.”

“Oh! You mean to plant things,” said King. “Well, let’s all make
gardens. It’s Saturday, and we can dig ’em this morning, and plant ’em
this afternoon, and there you are!”

“Yes,” said Kitty, scornfully, “there you are! Who’s going to water them
all summer, and weed them? You know very well, Mops, that when we didn’t
keep our gardens nice last spring, Father said we couldn’t have any this
year.”

“I know it; that’s what’s bothering me. I know we can’t have gardens,
but I do want to dig.”

“Oh, well,” said King, “go and dig in the sand-heap. That won’t do any
harm, and you can dig as long as you like.”

“No,” said Midget, disconsolately; “I want to plant a garden. I wish
Father hadn’t said we couldn’t. If he was here, I’m sure I could coax
him to let me do it. I’d keep it weeded and watered this year—I know I
would.”

“Yes; if Thomas did it all for you,” laughed King. “No, Mopsy Midget,
you’re too careless to take care of a garden. Take your big brother’s
advice, and don’t begin on schemes that you can’t carry out.”

“But I want to dig,” said Marjorie, again.

“Mopsy Maynard,” said King, “I’ve got that thoroughly in my head. I’m
positively convinced that you want to dig, but I’ve done all I can in
the matter, so don’t repeat that information for _my_ benefit.”

“I want to dig,” said Marjorie, in just the same tone; saying it, now,
of course, merely to tease her brother.

“I dig wiv oo, Middy; we dig togevver,” volunteered Rosy Posy, always
willing to do anything for her adored Midget.

“All right, Rosy Posy. You and I’ll go dig down deep in the ground, and
p’raps we’ll find something nice.”

“Ess,” said the baby, with an affirmative nod of her curly head; “ess,
we find nice woims.”

This made them all laugh, except Miss Larkin, who gave a little shudder
at Rosy Posy’s suggestion.

“Marjorie,” she said, after a moment, “I’ve an idea for your digging, if
you really want to dig.”

“Well, I do feel like it, Miss Larkin, but I was mostly fooling. For
Father did tell us we couldn’t have gardens this year, and I was glad of
it when he said it, but now I’ve just taken a notion to dig.”

“It’s the spring,” said Kitty, sagely. “Spring always makes you feel
diggy. But you’ll get over it, Mops.”

Kitty’s philosophical remarks, though not always comforting, were
usually founded on fact.

“But, children, listen,” said Miss Larkin, who sometimes had difficulty
to get an opportunity to speak. “This is my idea. You know your mother
and father will be home week after next.”

“Hooray! Hooray!” shouted King. “’Scuse me, Miss Larkin, but I sure _am_
glad!”

“Me too—me too—me too,” chanted Marjorie, until Kitty cried out:

“I’m glad, myself, but Mops, do stop singing a dirge about it.”

“What is a dirge, Kit?” asked King. “You do use such awfully grown-up
words. You oughtn’t to do it at nine years old. What’ll you be when
you’re as old as I am?”

“I hope I’ll be less noisy than you two are,” said Kitty, but she smiled
good-naturedly at her more boisterous brother and sister. “Anyway, I
think we all might be quiet long enough to let Miss Larkin say what she
wants to.”

“I think so, too,” said Midget. “Go ahead, Larky, dear. Tell us about
this digging scheme of yours.”

“Well,” began Miss Larkin, almost timidly, for when the children grew
noisy, it always made her nervous, “it seemed to me it would be nice to
prepare a little surprise for your parents’ homecoming.”

“Oh!” groaned King; “no more pageants for me! No more floats or
celebrations or North Poles at present! No more marching half a mile
wrapped in buffalo robes! Nay, nay, Pauline.”

“Oh, King, do be still,” begged Kitty. “Go on, Miss Larkin.”

“And I thought, children dear, that it would be nice to get some window
boxes and piazza boxes, and plant bright flowers in them. Then, you see,
Marjorie, you can dig and plant, and yet not disobey your father’s
command not to make a garden. For, of course, he meant a garden on the
ground, didn’t he?”

“Yes, he did,” said Midget. “I think window boxes would be fine! Tell us
more about it, Larky, dear.”

Pleased at the interest they all showed, Miss Larkin went on:

“I’ve arranged a great many myself, so I know just how. And it’s very
pretty work, and though, of course, it’s some trouble, it’s not nearly
so much as a garden.”

“It’s beautiful!” cried Marjorie; “I’m crazy to get at it. Can we begin
now? Aren’t you through your breakfast, Miss Larkin? You don’t want any
more coffee, do you? Come on, let’s get to work!”

“Oh, Marjorie, you’ll drive me distracted!” cried the poor lady,
clapping her hands to her head. “I ’most wish I hadn’t proposed it.”

“Please excuse her, Miss Larkin,” said King. “She’s a bad-mannered young
thing, but I’ll tame her.”

Jumping up, King caught off Marjorie’s hair-ribbon and ran round the
table with it. Of course, Midget ran after him, and a general scramble
followed.

Watching her chance to get out of the room without tumbling over the
combatants, Miss Larkin escaped, and, running up to her own room, locked
herself in.

“Now, you’ve made her mad, King,” said Marjorie, reproachfully. She
wasn’t a bit annoyed, herself, at King’s capers, but it was quite
evident that Miss Larkin was.

“What geese you two are,” remarked Kitty. “I don’t see why you want to
carry on so.”

“Look out, Kit, or you’ll lose your own hair-ribbon,” said King,
grinning, as he made a threatening move toward her big blue bow.

“Oh, take it if you want it,” said Kitty, pulling it off, herself, and
offering it politely to her brother.

Of course, this made them all laugh, and as Marjorie tied Kitty’s ribbon
again in place, and Kitty tied hers, they debated what they should do.

“Let’s write a note and say we’re sorry, and stick it under her door,”
said Midget.

This seemed a good plan, and they all agreed.

“You write it, King,” said Kitty. “’Cause you write the best of all of
us.”

So King wrote, and they all suggested subject-matter for the effusion.

“Dear Miss Larkin:” the note began.

“Shall I say we’re sorry?” asked King.

“Oh, that sounds so silly,” objected Marjorie; “I mean so—so sensible,
you know. Let’s say something to make her laugh.”

“Say this,” suggested Kitty: “Three miserable sinners crouched outside
your door, await your pardon.”

“That’s fine,” said King, approvingly; “go on, Kit.”

“We do want to dig,” put in Marjorie, “and we want to make window boxes,
and we want to make them quick.”

“That goes,” said King, writing rapidly; “next?”

“We’re still crouching,” went on Kitty, “we really will be, you
know—and we hope you’ll open the door right away, and say bless you, my
children. And then we’ll fly on the wings of the wind to do your
bidding.”

“A little highfalutin,” commented King, “but I guess it’ll do.”

They all signed the document, and then raced upstairs. Poking it under
Miss Larkin’s door, they all crouched and waited.

Soon her voice came to them, through the keyhole.

“Are you all crouching there?” she said.

“Yes!” was the reply in concert.

“Well, I’ll forgive you, if you’ll promise not to tumble around so, and
pull off hair-ribbons. It isn’t pretty manners, at all.”

“That’s so, Miss Larkin,” said honest King; “and I’m awful sorry. Come
out—shed the light of your blue eyes upon us once more, and all will be
forgiven.”

Laughing in spite of herself, Miss Larkin opened the door, and found the
three children crouching on the floor, their faces buried in their
hands. As the door opened, they gave a long, low, wailing groan,
previously agreed upon, and then they jumped up, smiling.

“Dear Miss Larkin,” said King, with overdone politeness, “may we invite
you to go window-boxing with us? It’s a delightful day, and we want——”

“We want to dig,” interrupted Marjorie.

“Yes, we’ll set about it at once,” said Miss Larkin, briskly.

It had suddenly occurred to her that the best way to quiet these
turbulent young people was to get them occupied.

“My intention is,” she said, “to present you children with the window
boxes, and the plants. Then, after we set them out, of course, you will
have to take care of them—or Thomas will. But I’m sure you’ll enjoy
doing it yourself, and, as I said, they will make a lovely greeting for
your parents on their return.”

“Where do we get the boxes?” King burst out, rather explosively, for he
was trying to repress his over-enthusiasm.

“I think we can get them all ready made, at Mr. Pettingill’s shop. I saw
some there the other day. That’s what made me think of it. Get your
hats, and we’ll go and see.”

At last, here was a start. They flew for their hats, the girls taking
the precaution to hang on to their hair-ribbons, for King was in
mischievous mood this morning.

In less than ten minutes they started, King and Miss Larkin walking
decorously ahead, and the two girls walking demurely behind.

At the shop, they found boxes already painted green, and built in the
most approved fashion as to lining of zinc and pipe drainage.

They selected three, two to be placed on either side of the front
verandah, and the other across Mrs. Maynard’s bedroom window, which was
in the middle of the house, in the second story.

These were bought and ordered sent home, and the shopkeeper promised to
send them at once.

So the quartette went next to the florist’s.

Here they grew quieter, for they became greatly interested in listening
to Mr. Gilbert’s advice about plants for boxes.

After careful consideration of the various flowers, they made their
choice.

Each was expected to select plants for one box, and then to plant and
care for that especial box all summer.

Marjorie was given the box for her mother’s window; and she chose
scarlet geraniums, with ferns for a background, and a border of sweet
alyssum in front.

“You may have some trouble with them ’ere ferns, Miss,” said the
good-natured florist. “But if you do, an’ if ’tain’t your fault, you
come back here, and I’ll give you new ones fer ’em. That maidenhair
fern’s pretty hard to raise.”

“Oh, I’ll be very careful,” said Marjorie, confidently. “I think it will
grow all right.”

“Everybody allus thinks that,” said Mr. Gilbert, with a twinkle in his
eye. “But if by any chance it don’t, you come an’ tell me ter wonst.”

Kitty and King had the other two boxes, and, of course, had to select
plants that harmonized with each other. Kitty chose French dwarf
petunias, whose ruffled flowers excited her admiration as soon as she
saw them. The colors were various shades of rose pink, and also white
ones.

Then a trailing vine, known as Vinca Major, was selected to hang down
and cover the front of the box, “like a frizzly bang,” Kitty said.

King’s flowers were verbenas, of the same colors as Kitty’s blossoms,
and he, too, had the green vine for a fringe. They bought, too, some
mignonette to form a background, and then Miss Larkin said they had
enough plants.

The florist’s boy started at once with their purchases, and by the time
they had walked home, all the things were ready for them to begin.

Thomas was called upon to help, and he worked under Miss Larkin’s
directions; but all such portions of the work as the children could do,
were done by their little hands.

In the bottom of the boxes they had to put a layer of small stones. This
was fun, for the stones had to be picked up from the driveway, and great
care was used in getting good shapes and sizes.

Then some charcoal was sprinkled in, and after that the dirt was put in.

Thomas provided them with the right sort of soil, and at last Marjorie
was able to dig to her heart’s content.

“Isn’t it fun!” she exclaimed, as, with hat and coat tossed off on the
grass, she dug with a trowel, and also with her ten grimy little
fingers. James and Thomas had set the boxes in their places, and
fastened them firmly, and when it was time to put in the flowers
themselves, Midget fairly jumped for joy.

To plant her box, she had to get out of another window onto the roof,
but as Thomas took care she didn’t roll off in her enthusiasm, she was
safe while at work.

First she put in the ferns at the back; Miss Larkin advising from her
standpoint inside Mrs. Maynard’s room, and Thomas and Marjorie doing the
actual planting. Then the lovely scarlet geraniums, and in front of them
the tiny plants of sweet alyssum. This wasn’t yet in bloom, but they
hoped it would be by the day of Mrs. Maynard’s arrival.

Also, Miss Larkin and Thomas helped the other two young gardeners below
stairs.

King’s and Kitty’s boxes were longer than Marjorie’s, as they were
verandah boxes.

King grew a little impatient at the necessary slowness of the work, and
willingly accepted Thomas’s help; but Kitty was ambitious to do it all
herself, and worked away untiringly.

It took nearly the whole day, but at last, when four o’clock found the
boxes all complete, and a lovely mass of bright blossoms, the Maynards,
though too tired for vigorous romping, were exuberant with joy.

“It was the loveliest idea, Larky!” said Marjorie, patting the lady’s
face, with hands that showed traces of good brown earth. “I’m _so_ glad
you thought of it.”

“So’m I,” said Kitty and King, together.

“Now, go and get tidied,” said Miss Larkin, “and then I’ll give you
further instructions.”

This didn’t sound very interesting, but when they came back to the
living-room an hour later, clean, and rested, they found Miss Larkin
waiting for them, with most attractive-looking little books in her
hands.

They proved to be little notebooks, in which she had written just what
they must do through the coming months, to keep their plants in good
order. Every direction was clearly given; every contingency was provided
for; and Kitty said:

“Well, if those posies don’t grow right, it will be our fault, not
theirs.”

“It won’t be my fault,” said Midget, with determination. “I’m going to
take care of my flowers awful carefully. ’Cause I want to show Father
that I’ve improved since last year.”

“That’s the right spirit,” said Miss Larkin, approvingly; “try to do
better each year, and thus grow up to be good and worthy women.”

“I can’t do that,” said King, with a sigh, “but probably I’ll grow up to
be President.”

“WON’T it be fun!” exclaimed Marjorie, as, with King and Kitty and
Delight, she came into the house; “let’s sit down and talk it all over
again.”

“What’s it all about?” asked Miss Larkin, smiling at the happy faces of
the four.

“Well, it’s going to be Arbor Day next week, and the ladies of the
church are going to have a festival,” explained Midget; “and they want
you to help—Miss Merington is coming to see you about it—and they’ve
asked us children to help.”

“Why, what can you do at a grown-up festival?”

“Oh, we can do lots,” said Kitty; “we sell things, you know, and—and
just help round.”

“Yes,” put in King, “and we give ’em things to sell, too. Make ’em or
buy ’em or something.”

“Or get them given to us,” suggested Delight. “The shopkeepers are
awfully generous about that.”

“What kind of a festival is it?” asked Miss Larkin.

“Oh, that’s the fun of it,” said Marjorie. “It’s an Arbor Day affair,
you know, and they call it the Arbor Show, and it’s all trees.”

“All trees?”

“Yes; the big hall is all to be filled with trees—not real trees—but
sort of made-up ones, and then we sell things off of them.”

“Oh, I begin to see. The trees are instead of the usual booths.”

“Yes, that’s it. Each lady has a tree, and then she gets her friends, or
children, or anybody to help her. Miss Merington asked Delight and me to
be with her. She has the Orange Tree.”

“Oh; and do you sell oranges?”

“Yes, real oranges, and other kinds, too.”

“And do they want me to have a tree? What kind shall I choose? And will
you children be with me?”

Miss Larkin was greatly interested in the project, for not often did she
get an opportunity to take part in such an entertainment.

“You’ll have to see what Miss Merington says,” said Marjorie. “She’s at
the head of it all, and she said she’d come to see you this afternoon.”

“Oh, did she? Then I’ll run and change my gown; I’d rather look more
dressy when she comes.”

Miss Larkin bustled away, and King said:

“I’ll like to have a tree with Larky. She’ll buy a lot of things for us,
and she’ll be so ’thusiastic about it. Hey, Kit?”

“Yes,” agreed Kitty, “and I’d rather be with her, than a stranger lady,
anyway.”

Soon Miss Merington came to call, and Miss Larkin came down to meet her,
resplendent in a silk costume and her best jewelry.

Miss Merington was a charming young woman, and though only slightly
acquainted with Miss Larkin, she laid the case before her so prettily,
that Miss Larkin gladly consented to assist at the bazaar.

“You see,” explained Miss Merington, “as it’s an Arbor Day, we have
trees instead of tables or booths. For instance, there will be a nut
tree, and under that the attendants will sell all sorts of good things
made with nuts; nut cake, nut candy, salted nuts, glacé nuts, and
everything they can think of. And, too, they’ll have those funny little
dolls made of peanuts, and those grotesque heads made of cocoanuts. Oh,
there are lots of lovely things for the Nut Tree.”

“Doughnuts,” suggested Miss Larkin.

“Why, yes, of course,” said Miss Merington, laughing. “They’re fine nuts
to sell from a nut tree.”

“What other trees will there be?” asked Marjorie, who sat looking
admiringly at the visitor. She greatly admired Miss Merington, and,
also, that young lady had a warm affection for Marjorie. She had asked
the two girls to assist her at her own tree, knowing they would be glad
to be together, and that they were capable enough to be really helpful
to her in her work.

“Well, there’s the Dogwood Tree,” said Miss Merington. “They will sell
any thing that has to do with dogs. They’ll have books and pictures and
postcards all about dogs. And muzzles and blankets and dog-baskets and
dog-biscuits, and things like that for real dogs.”

“And china ornaments,” said Kitty; “they’re very often dogs, you know.”

“Then there’s the Fruit Tree,” went on Miss Merington. “Not any one kind
of fruit, you know, but all kinds. And under that will be sold fresh
fruits, canned and preserved fruits, fruit pies, fruit cake, candied
fruits, dried fruits—oh, you’ll see for yourself what variety of fun it
will make. And, of course, some of the allusions are jokes. The Fir Tree
will sell furs.”

“Oho!” laughed King; “sealskin coats and buffalo robes?”

“Well, perhaps not such expensive articles; but fur caps and mittens;
and Teddy Bears, and toy-animals. Then there’s the Evergreen Tree; of
course, everything sold from that must be green. That’s easy, you see,
and yet it will be a beautiful tree.”

“Which tree shall I be under?” asked Miss Larkin, eager to learn her
appointed place.

“You may have the Evergreen, if you like. As I say, there’s wide scope
for choice of articles to sell.”

“I’d like that very much,” said Miss Larkin. “King and Kitty will be my
helpers, and I’m sure we can get lots of green things ready for the
bazaar.”

“I’m sure you can,” agreed Miss Merington. “And your tree will be easy
to get, too. Just any kind of an evergreen tree will do.”

“A Christmas tree,” said King; “I’ll ask Thomas to cut one in the woods
for us.”

“Yes, do. Some of the trees are much harder to manage. Many of them will
have to be covered entirely with paper foliage.”

“How about our tree—the Orange Tree?” asked Delight.

“Well, you see, our tree takes the place of what is usually known at
fairs as the grab-bag or fish pond. We will make lots of oranges in this
way. Take some little article that can be sold for five or ten cents,
wrap it in cotton until it forms a ball the size of an orange, and then
cover it with orange-colored crêpe paper. Tie it at the top with a
narrow green ribbon, and hang it on the tree. Of course, the customer,
buying an orange, takes his chance on what he will find inside it.”

“Oh, that will be lots of fun,” said Marjorie. “I can make little
pincushions and sachet bags.”

“Yes,” said Delight, “and I can make little stamp-cases and tiny picture
frames, and lots of things.”

“And we can buy things,” went on Midget. “Spools of cotton, and
celluloid thimbles, and little bits of toys and dolls. Oh, can’t we
begin this afternoon?”

Miss Merington smiled at the enthusiasm of her young assistants.

“You may, if you choose,” she said: “I must go now, but, of course, I’ll
see you again soon about our plans. Just go on and make all the oranges
you can. I’ve brought you one, for a sample.”

Miss Merington gave Marjorie a paper and cotton orange, which was so
neatly made that it looked almost like a real one.

“Make them carefully,” she advised, “for the whole tree will be spoiled
if the fruit is ragged or badly shaped.”

“What kind of a tree will you have, Miss Merington?” asked Marjorie.

“Fortunately, I’ll have the real thing,” was the answer. “A friend of
mine, who has a large orange tree in his conservatory, is willing to
lend it to me. It is in a very large tub, and it will be difficult to
move it, but I think we can manage it. Then I shall have sprays of white
orange blossoms made of paper, on it, and also our yellow fruit. Of
course, we hope to sell many more oranges than would fill the tree, so
we’ll have a crate full, also, and sell them out of that, as well as
from the tree.”

“Do we sell anything else except the oranges we make?” asked Delight.

“Yes; I’d like to have a small stand, with a few other things, say,
orange marmalade, and candied orange-peel, and such things.”

“And shall we dress in orange-color?” asked Midget.

“Why, I hadn’t thought of that, but it would be very pretty.”

“I’ll help you,” said Miss Larkin. “I’ll have a dress made of
orange-colored cheesecloth for Marjorie, and I’m sure Delight’s mother
will let her have one, too.”

“Oh, do,” said Miss Merington. “I have a gown of orange chiffon and
black velvet, so we will all be appropriately dressed.”

“And we’ll wear green,” went on Miss Larkin. “I’ll have green clothes
made for King and Kitty, and I have a green silk already, myself.”

“Ho!” laughed King, “I’d look fine in a green rig, wouldn’t I!”

“Yes, you would,” declared Kitty. “You’d look like a hunter or Robin
Hood or somebody like that. It would be lovely.”

“So it would,” said Miss Merington. “You are very kind, Miss Larkin, to
go to so much trouble.”

“Oh, I like it. I’ll get in a dressmaker for a few days, and she’ll soon
fix up the children’s costumes. Cheesecloth for the girls, and paper
muslin for King. They’ll look fine, and not cost much, either.”

“I do think, Larky,” said Midge, after Miss Merington had gone, “that
our trees will be the prettiest in the room.”

“I don’t know, child. She didn’t tell us about all of them. But we’ll
fix ours up as well as we can. Delight, ask your mother to let you have
your orange frock made over here, with Marjorie’s. It would be easier
all round.”

“Oh, she will, Miss Larky. She’ll be glad to do it. She just hates to
have a dressmaker in the house. And Miss Hart will help me make the
oranges, I know.”

“What can we make?” asked Kitty. “So many things are green, that it’s
hard to think of anything.”

“Why, Kit,” said her brother, “there’s hardly anything we can’t sell at
our table. If you want to make fancy things, you can make ’em all green.
If you want things to eat, there’s apples and pickles, and little cakes
with green icing, and green candies, and green peppers!”

“And books with green covers,” supplemented Marjorie.

“That’s good!” cried Kitty. “I love to paste scrap-books, and I’ve a lot
of gay pictures saved up. I’ll make scrap-books for children, with green
covers.”

“Be sure the children have green covers,” said King. “Look at them well,
before you let them buy the books.”

“You make good jokes,” said Kitty, looking patronizingly at her brother;
“but what are you going to make for our Evergreen Tree?”

“That’s so,” said King. “There aren’t many things a boy can make. I can
cut out some jigsaw puzzles, but if they’re all green, there won’t be
any picture.”

“Yes,” said Midget, “use those pictures that are nearly all forest and
green trees. They’re the hardest to do, too.”

“All right; I’ll do a couple of those, but what else can I do?”

“Dolls’ furniture,” suggested Kitty.

“Yes, that’s fine, but I guess you don’t know how much trouble it is to
make the chairs stick together. Well, I’ll do a set or two, and stain
the wood green, and you girls can make green satin cushions for ’em.”

“All right,” said Kitty; “I’ll help you with the cushions, and then you
can help me with the scrap-books. And, King, we can paint things
green—baskets, you know.”

“Yes, and tin cans, and old tea-chests, and then tie ribbons on ’em! No,
thank you, I won’t do any of that kind of stuff.”

“Well, but pretty little baskets would be all right,” said Marjorie,
laughing; “and flower pots, too.”

“Oh, yes,” said Delight; “little flower pots with just a hyacinth or a
fern in them. Then paint the pot green, and there you are!”

“That isn’t so worse,” said King; “and I might make a few window boxes.”

“Oh, they would be lovely!” exclaimed Miss Larkin. “They’d look so
pretty under our tree. We could get a couple like those you have, and
fill them, and I’m sure they’d sell well.”

“I shall make some penwipers,” said Kitty. “You just cut a leaf like a
maple-leaf out of green leather or kid, and then cut two or three leaves
just like it of green felt, and fasten them together at the stem.”

“And make some little lamp-shades,” said Delight; “I mean,
candle-shades. They’re lovely of green paper—Mother has some.”

“I can’t make them neatly enough,” objected Kitty. “You girls make me
some of those, and I’ll make some orange candies for you. I’ll cut you
out some orange baskets, if you want me to—made out of the
orange-skins, you know.”

“Oh, yes,” said Marjorie; “Kit does make those just lovely. And we’ll
fill them with orange cream candies. Let’s all make things for each
other.”

“I shall make some green silk work-bags,” said Miss Larkin, “and green
sofa-pillows. And I’ll buy some things, like green writing paper and
envelopes. I can’t abide colored stationery myself, but some people like
it.”

“And it will look pretty on your table,” said Marjorie. “Miss Merington
says we have a table to put our things on to sell, and hang them on our
trees, too. Kit, you can trim dolls’ hats—you’re fine at that.”

“Yes, indeed; and they’ll be pretty of light straw or white muslin and
lace, and green bows, or a little wreath of tiny green leaves.”

“Or green feathers,” added Delight. “I have some I’ll give you, off my
last summer’s hat.”

“Well, let’s get to work, then,” said Kitty, who was prompt of nature.
“There are enough things in the house to begin on.”

So they all scampered up to the playroom, and after cleaning off the big
table, they brought out what contributions they could make to the
general stock in trade.

There was plenty of crêpe paper left over from previous festivities, and
Kitty found enough pretty scraps of silk and velvet to begin on her
fancy-work at once. So, though they didn’t finish many articles that
afternoon, they planned a lot of things, and made lists of the materials
they needed to buy next day.

After that the days flew by quickly enough.

Afternoons were devoted to making the pretty trifles, the store of which
grew rapidly, with so many eager little fingers at work.

The dressmaker came, and under the supervision of Miss Larkin and Miss
Hart, concocted dainty little costumes that were most pretty and
becoming, though made of humble cheesecloth. King’s garb was most
effective, for his suit of dark-green shiny muslin was set off by gilt
buttons and a real lace collar.

As Arbor Day came nearer, the children made delicious home-made candies,
all orange or green, and Ellen concocted wonderful cakes with pale-green
icing, and with orange icing.

Then, besides the things they provided themselves, many goods were
donated.

Rockwell was a generous community, and the householders and shopkeepers
always responded liberally to requests for donations toward church or
charity.

Mr. Gordon, who was a friend of Mr. Maynard’s, invited the children to
select wares from his shop to the extent of ten dollars, and such fun as
they had!

Marjorie and Delight took a basketful of little trinkets for their
“oranges,” and King and Kitty were quite bewildered at the number of
attractive green things they found.

Miss Larkin spent her money and her time both freely, and was voted the
hardest worker in the whole bazaar.

She bought the window boxes, and had them prettily filled, and she
bought, also, a number of ferns and small palms in green pots.

“I’m so glad I happened to be here just at this time,” she said, “for I
love an occasion of this sort, and I almost never get a chance to be in
one.”

ARBOR DAY was the most beautiful day you ever saw. Not too warm, or too
cool, or too wet, or too dry, or too cloudy, or too bright—but just
perfect in every way. The festival was to be held both afternoon and
evening, and Miss Larkin told the children they might go at two o’clock,
when it opened, and stay until nine at night.

Of course, this meant they would eat their supper there, which was a
satisfactory arrangement to them all.

Marjorie and Delight had dresses just alike, of orange-colored
cheesecloth, bordered with green leaves. The leaves had been added,
because they were suggestive of trees, and also because they made the
dresses more becoming. Indeed, the orange color suited Marjorie’s dark
eyes and curls better than it did Delight’s fair hair and pink-and-white
complexion; but the decoration of green leaves made Delight look like a
sort of wood-nymph. The Maynard carriage took the two girls over first,
before Miss Larkin and her aids went, and Miss Merington welcomed them
warmly.

She had not desired their help in the arranging of her tree, so Marjorie
and Delight had not seen the festival before at all.

As they entered the door, they stopped, enchanted.

Surely, the old Town Hall had never before responded so nobly to
beautifying efforts. Across one end was a grape-vine, trained over a
rustic pergola.

Here, young ladies, garbed as Italian peasants, served such refreshments
as grape-juice, grape-sherbert, white grapes, grape-salad, grape-jelly,
and preserved grapes. The little tables looked very tempting, and though
the grape-vine and leaves were all artificial, the effect was very fine
indeed.

The girls laughed heartily at the next “tree,” for it was a pair-tree!

Suspended from its branches were _pairs_ of all sorts of things:
scissors, slippers, gloves, mittens, earrings, bracelets, cuffs—in
fact, everything that comes in pairs seemed to be there. This tree was
presided over by two young ladies who were twins, and as they were
dressed exactly alike, they made a most pleasing “pair.”

“Ho! look at that tall tree!” cried Marjorie, as they came to an affair
that looked like a flagpole with a lot of palm-leaf fans at its top.

“Don’t be disrespectful of my tree!” returned Flip Henderson, who was
assisting his mother at this very tree. “This is a Date Palm, and I
rigged it myself. Isn’t it fine?”

The tree was picturesque, though comical, and a vivid imagination
_could_ think that it resembled a date palm from the tropics.

“What do you sell?” asked Delight; “dates?”

“Yes,” replied Flip. “But not dates to eat. We have calendars, and
diaries, and memorandum blocks, and year-books of the best authors. Want
a few?”

“Not now,” said Marjorie; “I’ve only two dollars to spend, and I want to
see the other tables—trees, I mean—before I decide what I’ll buy.”

“And we must go on, and see the trees, so we can go to our own,” said
Delight.

Hand-in-hand, the two girls went round the room, looking at the novel
sights.

In a grove of Rubber Trees, many sorts of rubber goods were sold.

Under a beautiful tree, loaded with cherry-blossoms, Japanese maidens
dispensed tea, and sold fans and paper parasols.

The Cork Tree was most amusing. Corks dangled from its branches, and
stuck on the ends of its twigs. On its counter were sold bottles of
perfume, of ink, of shoe dressing, of mucilage, everything, in fact,
which could be corked in a bottle.

Also, there were some funny little curios and toys which had been
cleverly carved out of cork, and some grotesque dolls with cork faces.

Under the Pine Tree were many things of wood. Matches, skewers, and
kitchen implements, as well as picture frames, book-racks, and carved
wooden boxes. Not all of pinewood, perhaps, but much latitude was
allowed in this market. Here, too, were pillows of pretty silks, filled
with balsam of pine, and little trinkets made of pine cones or pine
needles.

A funny tree was the Weeping Willow. It was cleverly contrived, and
looked almost like a real willow tree. Beneath it was a sale of nothing
but handkerchiefs and onions!

The two merry girls in charge of this pretended to be weeping as they
sold their wares, and so funny were their lamentations that soon they
had no wares to sell.

The Beech Tree had all sorts of seashore goods—shells, coral, postcards
of watering places, little pails and shovels—all reminiscent of the
beach.

The Ash Tree was, of course, the stand for cigars and ash trays, or
other smokers’ utensils.

The candy was sold in a sugar-cane plantation, and refreshments were
served in a thicket of trees called the Peach Orchard, because the
pretty waitresses were said to be “Peaches!”

Altogether, it was a beautiful scene, and after a walk round it all,
Marjorie and Delight reported at Miss Merington’s Orange Tree.

This was one of the prettiest, for the tree was a real one, and large
enough to present a fine appearance.

It was loaded with orange blossoms and with the “oranges” that the girls
had made. There was also a crate of the paper oranges to sell from and,
too, there was a crate of real oranges to be sold.

Then all sorts of orangey things that were good to eat, and
orange-colored fancy articles beside.

Miss Merington had brought lovely dolls dressed in orange color,
beautiful silk college flags, and cushions representing the college that
sports that color, books bound in orange, and orange-colored fans and
scarfs. Miss Merington, herself, looked lovely in her orange gown, and
she told Marjorie and Delight that they were the most attractive things
under her tree.

Marjorie had had a brilliant idea for their tree, and she told Miss
Merington that she would attend to it all herself, and surprise her. The
idea was to serve orangeade.

She had brought from home her mother’s pretty little glass cups, and the
way she proposed to exhibit the orangeade was the novelty. With Thomas’
help she had taken a large cube of ice, and hollowed out the centre,
until it was a sort of square tub.

She had done this by heating a tin bread-pan very hot, and melting out
the inner portion of the ice.

Though she had never seen this done, and had only read about it in a
magazine, the experiment proved successful, and the ice receptacle was
like a large square tub of glass.

Thomas brought it over in triumph, and it was set in place on a gridiron
concealed by a bed of green leaves. These leaves also concealed a big
pan which was to catch the water as the ice melted from the warmth of
the room.

But the sides and bottom of the ice bowl were about four inches thick,
so it was bound to last for several hours, anyway.

“How are you getting on?” said King, coming along, as Midget arranged
the glasses prettily on a tray.

“Fine! The ice well is great! See how nice it looks. Thomas has gone
back home for the orangeade. Ellen made it, so it’s sure to be good.”

“You’re all right, Mopsy. Delight, you look fine. Now I must go back to
my Evergreen Tree. Come and see us when you can. We look pretty
gorgeous, I can tell you.”

King went off, and then Thomas came with the orangeade in a large pail.

“Put in about half, Thomas,” said Midget, “and set the rest away till
later.”

“Yes, Miss Marjorie,” he said, and Miss Merington looked on approvingly
as the rich yellow liquid was poured into the clear ice tank. Ellen had
added thin slices of orange, and some red cherries, and the compound
looked most delectable.

Miss Merington showed Thomas where to store the rest of the orangeade,
and then bade him look round the room and enjoy the gay scene.

The customers had begun to come now, and Marjorie and Delight were kept
busy selling oranges to children who were eager to see what treasures
would come out of the yellow prize packages they bought.

Great laughter ensued when a boy found he had purchased a doll, or a
girl was rewarded with a tin whistle, but surprises like these were
expected, and were part of the game.

Finally, some ladies and gentlemen sauntered by, and paused by
Marjorie’s table, saying they would take orangeade.

Taking up the silver soup ladle which she had brought for that purpose,
Midget turned to the ice well to fill the glasses.

To her amazement, there was not a drop of orangeade in the well.

She could not believe her eyes! Had Delight sold it all when she wasn’t
looking? No, the dainty glasses that she had set on the tray herself had
not been used. Where could the orangeade be? She had seen Thomas pour it
in, not twenty minutes before, and now it was all gone! A few bits of
orange and a few cherries lay in the bottom of the big ice bowl, but not
enough orangeade to fill one glass.

Greatly embarrassed, Marjorie turned to her would-be customers, and
asked them to wait a moment.

“Well, you are doing a rushing business,” remarked the young man who had
ordered the orangeade. “Used up all that tank full already! Why, it must
hold two gallons.”

Marjorie beckoned across the room for King to come to her assistance.

“The orangeade’s all gone,” she whispered to him. “Won’t you get the
pail from that cupboard where Thomas put it, and pour out some more?”

“Sure,” said her brother; “how’d you sell it so quick?”

“I didn’t sell it; I don’t know who did. But never mind, get some
more—quick.”

“All right,” said King, and in a few moments he brought the big pail and
poured half its contents into the ice-bowl.

Meantime, Marjorie, turning to the guests, asked them to be patient a
moment, and then she would serve them.

As King walked away with the pail, Midge again took up her ladle.

“Now,” she said, smiling prettily, “I’ll give you some orangeade.”

“It’s sure to be good and cold, served from that ice punch-bowl,” said
the young man.

“Yes, indeed,” returned Marjorie, her voice betokening her pride in her
clever achievement.

She turned to the ice-bowl, and there was not a drop of orangeade in it!

“King is playing a joke on me,” she thought to herself, and her cheeks
flushed with indignation that he should be guilty of such an ill-timed
jest.

“King,” she called, for he was crossing the room, “bring back that
pail!”

“Whew!” he cried, turning back, “not sold out again!”

“You didn’t put any in here!”

“I did so; I poured in three or four quarts.”

“Well, where is it? This ice thing is empty.”

“What! Why, so it is! Now, watch, I’ll pour in some more.”

He emptied the pail into the ice-bowl, and they both watched what
happened. It disappeared almost as fast as he had poured it in.

“The old thing leaks!” cried King, going off into a burst of laughter.
“Oh, Mopsy, Midget, you’re a smart one!”

“Well, what makes it leak? Do you suppose anybody bored a hole in the
ice?”

“No; they didn’t have to! It’s full of holes; look at it!”

Sure enough, the ice that formed the bottom of the receptacle showed a
dozen or more good-sized holes. Though the slab was fully four inches
thick, the holes went straight through, as if driven there with an
auger.

The bits of orange and the cherries remained, but the orangeade had
drained right through, and was now in the pan below that had been placed
there to catch the melting ice.

“Oh, Mops! what a joke!” cried King, still doubled up with laughter.

“But who put the holes there? How did they get there?” persisted
Marjorie.

“Why, ice is often that way. I s’pose air makes the holes; it bubbles up
as the ice freezes. Sometimes there are so many holes that it’s as
porous as a sponge. And every time we pour the stuff in, it goes right
through.”

Much crestfallen, Marjorie turned again to the people who were patiently
waiting for their order to be served.

“I’m sorry,” she said, blushing rosily, “but I can’t give you
orangeade—because I haven’t any left.”

“What, what!” cried the young man, teasingly; “why, I just saw several
quarts poured into that ice washtub there!”

“Yes,” said Marjorie, “but it poured itself out again. You see, that’s a
beautiful ice-tub—but it leaks.”

“It needs the plumber,” said King, coming to his sister’s rescue. “Just
a leak in the pipes, somewhere. Sorry not to give you any orangeade, but
we can only offer you these delicious paper oranges instead.”

The young man laughed, and bought paper oranges for his party instead of
the refreshment they had expected.

They didn’t care, of course, for buyers at a bazaar are always
good-natured, but Marjorie was greatly chagrined that her clever
contrivance had failed.

“No matter,” said Miss Merington, who had been occupied on the other
side of the tree, and only heard about the mishap after it was all over;
“no matter; it was a good enough scheme, but it fell through.”

“It was good orangeade, but it fell through, too,” laughed King. “Now I
must skip. Don’t you care, Midget, sell oranges and look happy.”

This was good advice, and Midget acted on it.

“I’m glad it didn’t work right,” said Delight; “for it’s messy stuff,
anyway. I like better to sell paper things—they aren’t sticky.”

Delight had a rooted aversion to any thing sticky or untidy, but
Marjorie was not so “fussy particular,” as she phrased it. However,
there were plenty of other things to sell, so Miss Merington called an
attendant to take away the ice affair, as it was only in the way. Sure
enough, as he lifted off the heavy block of ice, in the tub below could
be seen all of Ellen’s carefully prepared orangeade.

“It does seem a pity,” said Midget, “but, as you say, Delight, it is
sticky, and I’m glad to get it out of the way. Now, I’m going over to
see King’s tree.”

Of course, Marjorie and Delight couldn’t both leave their Orange Tree at
once, so they took turns in going out on little excursions round the
room.

Miss Larkin’s tree was a beautiful, finely-shaped evergreen, and would
have made a good Christmas tree. But it had no resemblance to a
Christmas tree, for it was hung with green fans, parasols, aprons, motor
veils, bags, sofa-pillows, and even some green hats, that a generous
milliner had donated. Miss Larkin, herself, looking very fine in her
green silk gown, was smiling and beaming at her customers, and
incidentally making a great many sales.

King and Kitty were laughing over the joke of Midget’s orangeade, but
Miss Larkin regretted that so much money had been lost from the funds.

“Oh, pshaw, Larky,” said King; “it wouldn’t have amounted to very much,
anyway.”

“And, perhaps, if we had sold it, we might have broken some of those
pretty glass cups of Mother’s,” said Midget, who always found the bright
side.

“Well, then I’m glad it leaked away,” said Kitty; “for I was afraid all
the time you’d break those, and Mother’s awfully fond of them.”

“I know it,” said Mopsy. “I’m going to tell her I took them, but I’ll
never do it again.”

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