What Katy Did at School (Illustrated)
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Close Report a review At Kobo, we try to ensure that published reviews do not contain rude or profane language, spoilers, or any of our reviewer's personal information. Would you like us to take another look at this review? No, cancel Yes, report it Thanks! You've successfully reported this review. We appreciate your feedback. OK, close. Philly was not quite well, and had been taking medicine.
The medicine was called Elixir Pro. It was a great favorite with Aunt Izzie, who kept a bottle of it always on hand. The bottle was large and black, with a paper label tied round its neck, and the children shuddered at the sight of it. After Phil had stopped roaring and spluttering, and play had begun again, the dolls, as was only natural, were taken ill also, and so was "Pikery," John's little yellow chair, which she always pretended was a doll too. She kept an old apron tied on his back, and generally took him to bed with her — not into bed, that would have been troublesome; but close by, tied to the bed-post.
Now, as she told the others, Pikery was very sick indeed. He must have some medicine, just like Philly. Nobody was there, but John knew where the Elixir Pro was kept — in the closet on the third shelf. She pulled one of the drawers out a little, climbed up, and reached it down. The children were enchanted when she marched back, the bottle in one hand, the cork in the other, and proceeded to pour a liberal dose on to Pikery's wooden seat, which John called his lap.
It was Pikery's medicine, which he had refused to swallow. Aunt Izzie rapped her over the head with a thimble, and told her that she was a very naughty child, whereupon Johnnie pouted, and cried a little. Aunt Izzie wiped up the slop, and taking away the Elixir, retired with it to her closet, saying that she "never knew anything like it — it was always so on Mondays.
But late in the afternoon a dreadful screaming was heard, and when people rushed from all parts of the house to see what was the matter, behold, the nursery door was locked and nobody could get in. Aunt Izzie called through the keyhole to have it opened, but the roars were so loud that it was long before she could get an answer. At last Elsie, sobbing violently, explained that Dorry had locked the door, and now the key wouldn't turn, and they couldn't open it.
Would they have to stay there always, and starve? Stop crying, Elsie — do you hear me? You shall all be got out in a few minutes. The little ones forgot their fright. They flew to open the window, and frisked and jumped about Alexander as he climbed in and unlocked the door.
It struck them as being such a fine thing to be let out in this way, that Dorry began to rather plume himself for fastening them in. But Aunt Izzie didn't take this view of the case. She scolded them well, and declared they were troublesome children, who couldn't be trusted one moment out of sight, and that she was more than half sorry she had promised to go to the Lecture that evening.
But bless you — ten minutes afterward they had forgotten all about it. All this time Katy had been sitting on the ledge of the bookcase in the Library, poring over a book. It was called Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered. The man who wrote it was an Italian, but somebody had done the story over into English. It was rather a queer book for a little girl to take a fancy to, but somehow Katy liked it very much. It told about knights, and ladies, and giants, and battles, and made her feel hot and cold by turns as she read, and as if she must rush at something, and shout, and strike blows.
Katy was naturally fond of reading. Papa encouraged it. He kept a few books locked up, and then turned her loose in the Library. She read all sorts of things: travels, and sermons, and old magazines. Nothing was so dull that she couldn't get through with it. Anything really interesting absorbed her so that she never knew what was going on about her. The little girls to whose houses she went visiting had found this out, and always hid away their story-books when she was expected to tea.
If they didn't do this, she was sure to pick one up and plunge in, and then it was no use to call her, or tug at her dress, for she neither saw nor heard anything more till it was time to go home. This afternoon she ready the Jerusalem till it was too dark to see any more. On her way up stairs she met Aunt Izzie, with bonnet and shawl on. Her aunt gave a sort of sniff, but she knew Katy's ways, and said no more. Hall and attend the evening Lecture," she went on. All of you must be in bed by nine. Miss Carr was very faithful to her duties; she seldom left the children, even for an evening; so whenever she did, they felt a certain sense of novelty and freedom, which was dangerous as well as pleasant.
Still, I am sure that on this occasion Katy meant no mischief. Like all excitable people, she seldom did mean to do wrong; she just did it when it came into her head. Supper passed off successfully, and all might have gone well, had it not been that after the lessons were learned and Cecy had come in, they fell to talking about "Kikeri.
They had invented it themselves, and chosen for it this queer name out of an old fairy story. It was a sort of mixture of Blindman's Buff and Tag — only instead of any one's eyes being bandaged, they all played in the dark. One of the children would stay out in the hall, which was dimly lighted from the stairs, while the others hid themselves in the nursery.
When they were all hidden they would call out "Kikeri," as a signal for the one in the hall to come in and find them. Of course, coming from the light he could see nothing, while the others could see only dimly. It was very exciting to stand crouching up in a corner and watch the dark figure stumbling about and feeling to right and left, while every now and then somebody, just escaping his clutches, would slip past and gain the hall, which was "Freedom Castle," with a joyful shout of "Kikeri, Kikeri, Kikeri, Ki!
For a long time this game was the delight of the Carr children; but so many scratches and black-and-blue spots came of it, and so many of the nursery things were thrown down and broken, that at last Aunt Izzie issued an order that it should not be played any more. This was almost a year since; but talking of it now put it into their heads to want to try it again.
So they all went up stairs. Dorry and John, though half undressed, were allowed to join the game. Philly was fast asleep in another room. It was certainly splendid fun. Once Clover climbed up on the mantel-piece and sat there, and when Katy, who was finder, groped about a little more wildly than usual, she caught hold of Clover's foot, and couldn't imagine where it came from. Dorry got a hard knock, and cried, and at another time Katy's dress caught on the bureau handle and was frightfully torn; but these were too much affairs of every day to interfere in the least with the pleasures of Kikeri.
The fun and frolic seemed to grow greater the longer they played. In the excitement, time went on much faster than any of them dreamed. Suddenly, in the midst of the noise, came a sound — the sharp distinct slam of the carry-all door at the side entrance. Aunt Izzie had returned from her Lecture! The dismay and confusion of that moment! Cecy slipped down stairs like an eel, and fled on the wings of fear along the path which led to her home.
Hall, as she bade Aunt Izzie goodnight, and shut Dr. Carr's front door behind her with a bang, might have been struck with the singular fact that a distant bang came from her own front door like a sort of echo. But she was not a suspicious woman; and when she went up stairs there were Cecy's clothes neatly folded on a chair, and Cecy herself in bed, fast asleep, only with a little more color than usual in her cheeks. Meantime, Aunt Izzie was on her way up stairs, and such a panic as prevailed in the nursery! Katy felt it, and basely scuttled off to her own room, where she went to bed with all possible speed.
But the others found it much harder to go to bed; there were so many of them, all getting into each other's way, and with no lamp to see by. Dorry and John popped under the clothes half undressed, Elsie disappeared, and Clover, too late for either, and hearing Aunt Izzie's step in the hall, did this horrible thing — fell on her knees, with her face buried in a chair, and began to say her prayers very hard indeed.
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Aunt Izzie, coming in with a candle in her hand, stood in the doorway, astonished at the spectacle. She sat down and waited for Clover to get through, while Clover, on her part, didn't dare to get through, but went on repeating "Now I lay me" over and over again, in a sort of despair. At last Aunt Izzie said very grimly: "That will do, Clover, you can get up! Aunt Izzie at once began to undress her, and while doing so asked so many questions, that before long she had got at the truth of the whole matter.
She gave Clover a sharp scolding; and, leaving her to wash her tearful face, she went to the bed where John and Dorry lay, fast asleep, and snoring as conspicuously as they knew how. Something strange in the appearance of the bed made her look more closely; she lifted the clothes, and there, sure enough, they were — half dressed, and with their school-boots on. Such a shake as Aunt Izzie gave the little scamps at this discovery, would have roused a couple of dormice. Much against their will, John and Dorry were forced to wake up, and be slapped and scolded, and made ready for bed, Aunt Izzie standing over them all the while, like a dragon.
She had just tucked them warmly in, when for the first time she missed Elsie. Then stooping down she gave a vigorous pull. The trundle-bed came into view, and, sure enough, there was Elsie, in full dress, shoes and all, but so fast asleep that not all Aunt Izzie's shakes and pinches and calls were able to rouse her. Her clothes were taken off, her boots unlaced, her night-gown put on; but through it all Elsie slept, and she was the only one of the children who did not get the scolding she deserved that dreadful night.
Katy did not even pretend to be asleep when Aunt Izzie went to her room. Her tardy conscience had waked up, and she was lying in bed, very miserable at having drawn the others into a scrape as well as herself, and at the failure of her last set of resolutions about "setting an example to the younger ones. She cried even harder the next day, for Dr. Carr talked to her more seriously than he had ever done before. He reminded her of the time when her Mamma died, and of how she said, "Katy must be a Mamma to the little ones, when she grows up.
Poor Katy! She sobbed as if her heart would break at this, and though she made no promises, I think she was never quite so thoughtless again, after that day. As for the rest, Papa called them together and made them distinctly understand that "Kikeri" was never to be played any more. It was so seldom that Papa forbade any games, however boisterous, that this order really made an impression on the unruly brood, and they never have played Kikeri again, from that day to this.
What on airth are they going to do now? She was the dearest, funniest old woman who ever went out sewing by the day. Her face was round, and somehow made you think of a very nice baked apple, it was so crisscrossed, and lined by a thousand good-natured puckers. She was small and wiry, and wore caps and a false front, which was just the color of a dusty Newfoundland dog's back.
Her eyes were dim, and she used spectacles; but for all that, she was an excellent worker. Every one liked Miss Petingill, though Aunt Izzie did once say that her tongue "was hung in the middle. They couldn't see that it was different from other tongues, but Philly persisted in finding something curious about it; there must be, you know — since it was hung in the queer way!
Wherever Miss Petingill went all sorts of treasures went with her. The children liked to have her come, for it was as good as a fairy story, or the circus, to see her things unpacked. Miss Petingill was very much afraid of burglars; she lay awake half the night listening for them, and nothing on earth would have persuaded her to go anywhere, leaving behind what she called her "Plate.
It and the spoons travelled about in a little basket which hung on her arm, and was never allowed to be out of her sight, even when the family she was sewing for were the honestest people in the world. Then, beside the plate-basket, Miss Petingill never stirred without Tom, her tortoise-shell cat. Tom was a beauty, and knew his power; he ruled Miss Petingill with a rod of iron, and always sat in the rocking-chair when there was one. It was no matter where she sat, Miss Petingill told people, but Tom was delicate, and must be made comfortable.
A big family Bible always came too, and a special red merino pin-cushion, and some "shade pictures" of old Mr. Petingill and Peter Petingill, who was drowned at sea; and photographs of Mrs. Porter, who used to be Marcia Petingill, and Mrs. Porter's husband, and all the Porter children. Many little boxes and jars came also, and a long row of phials and bottles, filled with home-made physic and herb teas.
Miss Petingill could not have slept without having them beside her, for, as she said, how did she know that she might not be "took sudden" with something, and die for want of a little ginger-balsam or pennyroyal? The Carr children always made so much noise, that it required something unusual to make Miss Petingill drop her work, as she did now, and fly to the window. In fact there was a tremendous hubbub: hurrahs from Dorry, stamping of feet, and a great outcry of shrill, glad voices. Looking down, Miss Petingill saw the whole six — no seven, for Cecy was there too — stream out of the wood-house door — which wasn't a door, but only a tall open arch — and rush noisily across the yard.
Katy was at the head, bearing a large black bottle without any cork in it, while the others carried in each hand what seemed to be a cookie. Kather- ine! So, with a dissatisfied cluck, Miss Petingill drew back her head, perched the spectacles on her nose, and went to work again on Katy's plaid alpaca, which had two immense zigzag rents across the middle of the front breadth. Katy's frocks, strange to say, always tore exactly in that place! If Miss Petingill's eyes could have reached a little farther, they would have seen that it wasn't a ladder up which the children were climbing but a tall wooden post, with spikes driven into it about a foot apart.
It required quite a stride to get from one spike to the other; in fact, the little ones couldn't have managed it at all, had it not been for Clover and Cecy "boosting" very hard from below, while Katy, making a long arm, clawed from above. At last they were all safely up, and in the delightful retreat which I am about to describe: Imagine a low, dark loft without any windows, and with only a very little light coming in through the square hole in the floor, to which the spikey post led.
There was a strong smell of corn-cobs, though the corn had been taken away; a great deal of dust and spider-web in the corners, and some wet spots on the boards, for the roof always leaked a little in rainy weather. This was the place, which for some reason I have never been able to find out, the Carr children preferred to any other on rainy Saturdays, when they could not play out-doors.
Aunt Izzie was as much puzzled at this fancy as I am. When she was young a vague, far-off time, which none of her nieces and nephews believed in much , she had never had any of these queer notions about getting off into holes and corners, and poke-away places. Aunt Izzie would gladly have forbidden them to go to the loft, but Dr. Carr had given his permission, so all she could do was to invent stories about children who had broken their bones in various dreadful ways, by climbing posts and ladders.
But these stories made no impression on any of the children except little Phil, and the self-willed brood kept on their way, and climbed their spiked posts as often as they liked. It is something delicious , I can assure you. Dorry, who had begun his as he came up the ladder, was a little unwilling, but he was too much in the habit of minding Katy to dare to disobey. The big bottle was set in a corner, and a stack of cookies built up around it. It was one of the many serial stories which Katy was forever writing, and was about a lady, a knight, a blue wizard, and a poodle named Bop.
It had been going on for so many months now, that everybody had forgotten the beginning, and nobody had any particular hope of living to hear the end, but still the news of its untimely fate was a shock. I had stuffed 'Edwitha' down between the back and the seat. It was a beau tiful hiding-place, for the seat goes back ever so far; but Edwitha was such a fat bundle, and old Judge Kirby takes up so much room, that I was afraid there would be trouble. And sure enough, he had hardly dropped down before there was a great crackling of paper, and he jumped up again and called out, 'Bless me!
You can't think how funny it was to hear Aunt Izzie reading 'Edwitha' out loud — " and Katy went into convulsions at the recollection "where she got to 'Oh, Bop — my angel Bop — ' I just rolled under the table, and stuffed the table-cover in my mouth to keep from screaming right out. By and by I heard her call Debby, and give her the papers, and say: 'Here is a mass of trash which I wish you to put at once into the kitchen fire.
It was too bad," ended Katy, half laughing and half crying, "to burn up the new chapter and all. But there's one good thing — she didn't find 'The Fairy of the Dry-Goods Box,' that was stuffed farther back in the seat. Miss Hall will please rise. The next verse is going to tell about her, only you interrupted. As she stole down the corregidor the beams struck it, and it glittered like stars. He drew his sword, so did the other.
A moment more, and they both lay dead and stiff in the beams of the moon. Zuleika gave a loud shriek, and threw herself upon their bodies. She was dead, too! And so ends the Tragedy of the Alhambra. What beautiful stories you do write, Cecy!
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But I wish you wouldn't always kill the people. Why couldn't the knight have killed the father, and — no, I suppose Zuleika wouldn't have married him then. Well, the father might have — oh, bother! You know the name was A Tragedy of the Alhambra. But Clover kept her face perfectly, and sat down as demure as ever, except that the little dimples came and went at the corners of her mouth; dimples, partly natural, and partly, I regret to say, the result of a pointed slate-pencil, with which Clover was in the habit of deepening them every day while she studied her lessons.
Hold up your head, Elsie, and speak distinctly; and oh, Johnnie, you mustn't giggle in that way when it comes your turn! Elsie, however, was solemn as a little judge, and with great dignity began: "An angel with a fiery sword, Came to send Adam and Eve abroad; And as they journeyed through the skies They took one look at Paradise. They thought of all the happy hours Among the birds and fragrant bowers, And Eve, she wept and Adam bawled, And both together loudly squalled.
What Katy Did at School, First Edition
Now, John, it's your turn. It was a sort of rearrangement of Scripture for infant minds; and when it was finished they meant to have it published, bound in red, with daguerreotypes of the two authoresses on the cover. Papa, much tickled with the scraps which he overheard, proposed, instead, "The Trundle-Bed Book," as having been composed principally in that spot; but Elsie and Clover were highly indignant, and would not listen to the idea for a moment.
After the "Scripture Verses," came Dorry's turn. He had been allowed to choose for himself, which was unlucky, as his taste was peculiar, not to say gloomy. On this occasion he had selected that cheerful hymn which begins — "Hark! It was too much for Philly, however. At the close of the piece he was found to be in tears.
He began to whimper, and as Phil was still sobbing, and Johnnie had begun to sob too, out of sympathy with the others, the Feet in the Loft seemed likely to come to a sad end. Do stop, Phil; and Johnnie, don't be a goose, but come and pass round the cookies. Phil cheered at once, and Dorry changed his mind about going. The black bottle was solemnly set in the midst, and the cookies were handed about by Johnnie, who was now all smiles. The cookies had scalloped edges and caraway seeds inside, and were very nice. There were two apiece; and as the last was finished, Katy put her hand in her pocket, and, amid great applause, produced the crowning addition to the repast — seven long brown sticks of cinnamon.
Now, Cecy, as you're company, you shall have the first drink out of the bottle. It was quite warm, but somehow, drunk up there in the loft, and out of a bottle, it tasted very nice. Besides, they didn't call it vinegar-and-water — of course not! Each child gave his or her swallow a different name, as if the bottle were like Signor Blitz's and could pour out a dozen things at once. Clover called her share "Raspberry Shrub," Dorry christened his "Ginger Pop," while Cecy, who was romantic, took her three sips under the name "Hydomel," which she explained was something nice, made, she believed, of beeswax.
The last drop gone, and the last bit of cinnamon crunched, the company came to order again, for the purpose of hearing Philly repeat his one piece, — "Little drops of water," which exciting poem he had said every Saturday as far back as they could remember. After that, Katy declared the literary part of the "Feet" over, and they all fell to playing "Stage-coach," which, in spite of close quarters and an occasional bump from the roof, was such good fun, that a general "Oh dear!
I suppose cookies and vinegar had taken away their appetites, for none of them were hungry, and Dorry astonished Aunt Izzie very much by eyeing the table in a disgusted way, and saying: "Pshaw! I don't want any supper. Carr; but Katy explained. And all the children answered at once: "Splendiferous! I never heard the name before," replied her aunt. She hasn't been going to Mrs. Knight's school but a little while, but we're the greatest friends. And she's perfectly beautiful, Aunt Izzie. Her hands are just as white as snow, and no bigger than that. She's got the littlest waist of any girl in school, and she's real sweet, and so self-denying and unselfish!
I don't believe she has a bit good times at home, either. Do let me ask her! We always walk together at recess now. I know all about her, and she's just lovely! Her father used to be real rich, but they're poor now, and Imogen had to have her boots patched twice last winter. I guess she's the flower of hr family. You can't think how I love her! Please let me, just this once! I shall be so dreadfully ashamed not to. But recollect, Katy, this is not to happen again.
I can't have you inviting girls, and then coming for my leave. Your father won't be at all pleased. He's very particular about whom you make friends with. Remember how Mrs. Spenser turned out. Her propensity to fall violently in love with new people was always getting her into scrapes. Ever since she began to walk and talk, "Katy's intimate friends" had been one of the jokes of the household.
Papa once undertook to keep a list of them, but the number grew so great that he gave it up in despair. First on the list was a small Irish child, named Marianne O'Riley. Marianne lived in a street which Katy passed on her way to school. It was not Mrs. Marianne used to be always making sand-pies in front of her mother's house, and Katy, who was about five years old, often stopped to help her. Over this mutual pastry they grew so intimate, that Katy resolved to adopt Marianne as her own little girl, and bring her up in a safe and hidden corner.
She told Clover of this plan, but nobody else. The two children, full of their delightful secret, began to save pieces of bread and cookies from their supper every evening. By degrees they collected a great heap of dry crusts, and other refreshments, which they put safely away in the garret. They also saved the apples which were given them for two weeks, and made a bed in a big empty box, with cotton quilts, and the doll's pillows out of the baby-house.
When all was ready, Katy broke her plan to her beloved Marianne, and easily persuaded her to run away and take possession of this new home. Don't let's call her Marianne any longer, either. It isn't pretty. We'll name her Susquehanna instead — Susquehanna Carr. For a whole day all went on delightfully. Susquehanna lived in her wooden box, ate all the apples and the freshest cookies, and was happy. The two children took turns to steal away and play with the "Baby," as they called Marianne, though she was a great deal bigger than Clover.
But when night came on and nurse swooped on Katy and Clover and carried them off to bed, Miss O'Riley began to think that the garret was a dreadful place. Peeping out of her box she could see black things standing in corners, which she did not recollect seeing in the day-time. They were really trunks and brooms and warming-pans, but somehow in the darkness they looked different — big and awful. Poor little Marianne bore it as long as she could; but when at last a rat began to scratch in the wall close beside her, her courage gave way entirely, and she screamed at the top of her voice.
Carr, who had just come in, and was on his way up stairs. Carr for this was before Mamma died. Carr took a candle and went as fast as he could to the attic, where the yells were growing terrific. When he reached the top of the stairs, the cries ceased. He looked about. Nothing was to be seen at first, then a little head appeared over the edge of a big wooden box, and a piteous voice sobbed out: "Ah, Miss Katy, and indeed I can't be stayin' any longer. There's rats in it! But I don't want to be a baby any longer. I want to go home and see my mother. I don't think Dr. Carr ever laughed so hard in his life, as when he finally got to the bottom of the story, and found that Katy and Clover had been "adopting" a child.
But he was very kind to poor Susquehanna, and carried her down stairs in his arms, to the nursery. There, in a bed close to the other children, she soon forgot her troubles and fell asleep. The little sisters were much surprised when they waked up in the morning, and found their Baby asleep beside them. But their joy was speedily turned to tears. After breakfast, Dr. Carr carried Marianne home to her mother, who was in a great fright over her disappearance, and explained to the children that the garret plan must be given up. Great was the mourning in the nursery; but as Marianne was allowed to come and play with them now and then, they gradually got over their grief.
A few months later Mr. O'Riley moved away from Burnet, and that was the end of Katy's first friendship. The next was even funnier. There was a queer old black woman who lived all alone by herself in a small house near the school. This old woman had a very bad temper. The neighbors told horrible stories about her, so that the children were afraid to pass the house. They used to turn always just before they reached it, and cross to the other side of the street. This they did so regularly that their feet had worn a path in the grass.
But for some reason Katy found a great fascination in the little house. She liked to dodge about the door, always holding herself ready to turn and run in case the old woman rushed out upon her with a broomstick. One day she begged a large cabbage of Alexander, and rolled it in at the door of the house. The old woman seemed to like it, and after this Katy always stopped to speak when she went by. She even got so far as to sit on the step and watch the old woman at work.
There was a sort of perilous pleasure in doing this. It was like sitting at the entrance of a lion's cage, uncertain at what moment his Majesty might take it into his head to give a spring and eat you up. After this, Katy took a fancy to a couple of twin sisters, daughters of a German jeweller. They were quite grown-up, and always wore dresses exactly alike. Hardly any one could tell them apart. They spoke very little English, and as Katy didn't know a word of German, their intercourse was confined to smiles, and to the giving of bunches of flowers, which Katy used to tie up and present to them whenever they passed the gate.
She was too shy to do more than just put the flowers in their hands and run away; but the twins were evidently pleased, for one day, when Clover happened to be looking out of the window, she saw them open the gate, fasten a little parcel to a bush, and walk rapidly off. Of course she called Katy at once, and the two children flew out to see what the parcel was. It held a bonnet — a beautiful doll's bonnet of blue silk, trimmed with artificial flowers; upon it was pinned a slip of paper with these words, in an odd foreign hand: "To the nice little girl who was so kindly to give us some flowers.
This was when Katy was six years old. I can't begin to tell you how many different friends she had set up since then. There was an ash-man, and a steam-boat captain. There was Mrs. Sawyer's cook, a nice old woman, who gave Katy lessons in cooking, and taught her to make soft custard and sponge-cake. There was a bonnet-maker, pretty and dressy, whom, to Aunt Izzie's great indignation, Katy persisted in calling "Cousin Estelle! The thief had a piece of string which he let down from the window. Katy would tie rose-buds and cherries to this string, and the thief would draw them up.
It was so interesting to do this, that Katy felt dreadfully when they carried the man off to the State Prison. Then followed a short interval of Cornelia Perham, a nice, good-natured girl, whose father was a fruit-merchant. I am afraid Katy's liking for prunes and white grapes played a part in this intimacy.
It was splendid fun to go with Cornelia to her father's big shop, and have whole boxes of raisins and drums of figs opened for their amusement, and be allowed to ride up and down in the elevator as much as they liked. But of all Katy's queer acquaintances, Mrs. Spenser, to whom Aunt Izzie had alluded, was the queerest. Spenser was a mysterious lady whom nobody ever saw. Her husband was a handsome, rather bad-looking man, who had come from parts unknown, and rented a small house in Burnet.
He didn't seem to have any particular business, and was away from home a great deal. His wife was said to be an invalid, and people, when they spoke of him, shook their heads and wondered how the poor woman got on all alone in the house while, her husband was absent. Of course Katy was too young to understand these whispers, or the reasons why people were not disposed to think well of Mr. The romance of the closed door and the lady whom nobody saw, interested her very much.
What Katy Did - Wikipedia
She used to stop and stare at the windows, and wonder what was going on inside, till at last it seemed as if she must know. So one day she took some flowers and Victoria, her favorite doll, and boldly marched into the Spensers' yard. She tapped at the front door, but nobody answered. Then she tapped again.
Still nobody answered. She tried the door. It was locked. So shouldering Victoria, she trudged round to the back of the house. As she passed the side-door she saw that it was open a little way. She knocked for the third time; and as no one came, she went in, and, passing through the little hall, began to tap at all the inside doors. There seemed to be no people in the house. Katy peeped into the kitchen first. It was bare and forlorn. All sorts of dishes were standing about. There was no fire in the stove. The parlor was not much better. Spenser's boots lay in the middle of the floor.
There were dirty glasses on the table. On the mantel-piece was a platter with bones of meat upon it. Dust lay thick over everything, and the whole house looked as if it hadn't been lived in for at least a year. Katy tried several other doors, all of which were locked, and then she went up stairs. As she stood on the top step, grasping her flowers, and a little doubtful what to do next, a feeble voice from a bed-room called out: "Who is there?
She was lying on her bed, which was very tossed and tumbled, as if it hadn't been made up that morning. The room was as disorderly and dirty as all the rest of the house, and Mrs. Spenser's wrapper and night-cap were by no means clean, but her face was sweet, and she had beautiful curling hair, which fell over the pillow. She was evidently very sick, and altogether Katy felt sorrier for her than she had ever done for anybody in her life. Carr's little girl," answered Katy, going straight up to the bed.
Spenser seemed to like the flowers. She took them up and smelled them for a long time, without speaking. Spenser, and gave her a kiss. After this Katy used to go every day. Sometimes Mrs.
Spenser would be up and moving feebly about; but more often she was in bed, and Katy would sit beside her. The house never looked a bit better than it did that first day, but after a while Katy used to brush Mrs. Spenser's hair, and wash her face with the corner of a towel. I think her visits were a comfort to the poor lady, who was very ill and lonely. Sometimes, when she felt pretty well, she would tell Katy stories about the time when she was a little girl and lived at home with her father and mother.
But she never spoke of Mr. Spenser, and Katy never saw him except once, when she was so frightened that for several days she dared not go near the house. At last Cecy reported that she had seen him go off in the stage with his carpet-bag, so Katy ventured in again. Spenser cried when she saw her. Katy was touched and flattered at having been missed, and after that she never lost a day. She always carried the prettiest flowers she could find, and if any one gave her a specially nice peach or a bunch of grapes, she saved it for Mrs.
Aunt Izzie was much worried at all this. But Dr. Carr would not interfere. He said it was a case where grown people could do nothing, and if Katy was a comfort to the poor lady he was glad. Katy was glad too, and the visits did her as much good as they did Mrs. Spenser, for the intense pity she felt for the sick woman made her gentle and patient as she had never been before. One day she stopped, as usual, on her way home from school.
She tried the side-door — it was locked; the back-door — it was locked too. All the blinds were shut tight. This was very puzzling. As she stood in the yard a woman put her head out of the window of the next house. There's been more than one a-knocking besides you, since then. But Mr. Pudgett, he's got the key, and nobody can get in without goin' to him. Spenser was gone, and Katy never saw her again. In a few days it came out that Mr. Spenser was a very bad man, and had been making false money — counterfeiting , as grown people call it. The police were searching for him, to put him in jail, and that was the reason he had come back in such a hurry and carried off his poor sick wife.
Aunt Izzie cried with mortification, when she heard this. She said she thought it was a disgrace that Katy should have been visiting in a counterfeiter's family. Carr only laughed. He told Aunt Izzie that he didn't think that kind of crime was catching, and for Mrs. Spenser, she was much to be pitied. But Aunt Izzie could not get over her vexation, and every now and then, when she was vexed, she would refer to the affair, though this all happened so long ago that most people had forgotten all about it, and Philly and John had stopped playing at "Putting Mr.
Spenser in Jail," which for a long time was one of their favorite games. Katy always felt badly when Aunt Izzie spoke unkindly of her poor sick friend. She had tears in her eyes now as she walked to the gate, and looked so very sober, that Imogen Clark, who stood there waiting, clasped her hands and said: "Ah, I see! Your aristocratic Aunt refuses. She was rather a pretty girl, with a screwed-up, sentimental mouth, shiny brown hair, and a little round curl on each of her cheeks.
These curls must have been fastened on with glue or tin tacks, one would think, for they never moved, however much she laughed or shook her head. Imogen was a bright girl, naturally, but she had read so many novels that her brain was completely turned. It was partly this which made her so attractive to Katy, who adored stories, and thought Imogen was a real heroine of romance. But here Katy's conscience gave a prick, and the sentence ended in "um, um, um—" "So you'll come, won't you, darling?
I am so glad! From this time on till the end of the week the children talked of nothing but Imogen's visit, and the nice time they were going to have. Before breakfast on Saturday morning, Katy and Clover were at work building a beautiful bower of asparagus boughs under the trees. All the playthings were set out in order. Debby baked them some cinnamon cakes, the kitten had a pink ribbon tied round her neck, and the dolls, including "Pikery," were arrayed in their best clothes. About half-past ten Imogen arrived.
Somehow, with these fine clothes, Imogen seemed to have put on a fine manner, quite different from the one she used every day. You know some people always do, when they go out visiting. You would almost have supposed that this was a different Imogen, who was kept in a box most of the time, and taken out for Sundays and grand occasions. She swam about, and diddled, and lisped, and looked at herself in the glass, and was generally grown-up and airy. When Aunt Izzie spoke to her, she fluttered and behaved so queerly, that Clover almost laughed; and even Katy, who could see nothing wrong in people she loved, was glad to carry her away to the play-room.
She was evidently disappointed. Katy and Clover felt mortified; but as their visitor did not care for the bower, they tried to think of something else. So they all crossed the yard together. Imogen picked her way daintily in the white satin slippers, but when she saw the spiked post, she gave a scream. It's just as easy as can be," pleaded Katy going up and down half a dozen times in succession to show how easy it was. But Imogen wouldn't be persuaded. And besides — my dress! While John whispered to Dorry, "That's a real stupid girl. Let's go off somewhere and play by ourselves.
They tried dolls, but Imogen did not care for dolls. Then they proposed to sit down in the shade, and cap verses, a game they all liked. But Imogen said that though she adored poetry, she never could remember any. So it ended in their going to the orchard, where Imogen ate a great many plums and early apples, and really seemed to enjoy herself. But when she could eat no more, a dreadful dulness fell over the party.
At last Imogen said: "Don't you ever sit in the drawing-room? It is all dark and poky, you know. Besides, it's so much pleasanter to be out-doors. Don't you think so? My head aches dreadfully, being out here in this horrid sun. They scarcely ever went into the parlor, which Aunt Izzie regarded as a sort of sacred place. She kept cotton petticoats over all the chairs for fear of dust, and never opened the blinds for fear of flies. The idea of children with dusty boots going in there to sit! On the other hand, Katy's natural politeness made it hard to refuse a visitor anything she asked for.
And besides, it was dreadful to think that Imogen might go away and report "Katy Carr isn't allowed to sit in the best room, even when she has company! She dared not open the blinds, so the room looked very dark. She could just see Imogen's figure as she sat on the sofa, and Clover twirling uneasily about on the piano-stool. All the time she kept listening to hear if Aunt Izzie were not coming, and altogether the parlor was a dismal place to her; not half so pleasant as the asparagus bower, where they felt perfectly safe.
But Imogen, who, for the first time, seemed comfortable, began to talk. Her talk was about herself. Such stories she told about the things which had happened to her! All the young ladies in The Ledger put together, never had stranger adventures. Gradually, Katy and Clover got so interested interested that they left their seats and crouched down close to the sofa, listening with open mouths to these stories. Katy forgot to listen for Aunt Izzie. The parlor door swung open, but she did not notice it.
She did not even hear the front door shut, when Papa came home to dinner. Carr, stopping in the hall to glance over his newspaper, heard the high-pitched voice running on in the parlor. At first he hardly listened; then these words caught his ear: "Oh, it was lovely, girls, perfectly delicious! I suppose I did look well, for I was all in white with my hair let down, and just one rose, you know, here on top. And he leaned over me and said in a low, deep tone: 'Lady, I am a Brigand, but I feel the enchanting power of beauty.
You are free! Carr pushed the door open a little farther. Nothing was to be seen but some indistinct figures, but he heard Katy's voice in an eager tone: "Oh, do go on. What happened next? Come out right away. I thought you were playing out-doors. The three girls came out into the hall; Clover and Katy looked scared, and even the Enchanter of the Brigand quite crest-fallen. Probably you are bilious. Would you like some camphor or anything? But afterwards she whispered to Katy: "Your aunt isn't very nice, I think.
She's just like Jackima, that horrid old woman I told you about, who lived in the Brigand's Cave and did the cooking. Papa was very civil to Imogen at dinner, but he watched her closely, and Katy saw a comical twinkle in his eye, which she did not like. Papa had very droll eyes. They saw everything, and sometimes they seemed to talk almost as distinctly as his tongue. Katy began to feel low-spirited. She confessed afterward that she should never have got through the afternoon if she hadn't run up stairs two or three times, and comforted herself by reading a little in "Rosamond.
But she gave Clover a great hug, and I think in her heart she was glad. I don't know what you mean," answered Katy, blushing deeply. Carr; and he got up, raising his shoulders and squaring his elbows, and took a few mincing steps across the room. Katy couldn't help laughing, it was so funny, and so like Imogen. Then Papa sat down again and drew her close to him. But there is such a thing as throwing away one's affection. I didn't fancy that little girl at all yesterday. What makes you like her so much? And what was that nonsense I heard her telling you about Brigands? And Imogen's just as good-natured as can be.
All the girls like her. When they do that, it seems to me it comes too near the edge of falsehood to be very safe or pleasant. She may be good-natured, as you say, but I think two or three years hence she won't seem so nice to you as she does now. Give me a kiss, Chick, and run away, for there's Alexander with the buggy. As they neared Dr. Carr's gate, Maria Fiske exclaimed, at the sight of a pretty bunch of flowers lying in the middle of the side-walk: "Oh my! I'm going to have it. But, just as her fingers touched the stems, the nosegay, as if bewitched, began to move. Maria made a bewildered clutch.
The nosegay moved faster, and at last vanished under the gate, while a giggle sounded from the other side of the hedge. Come out and show yourselves. The nosegay lay on the path, however, and picking it up, Katy exhibited to the girls a long end of black thread, tied to the stems. Here, Maria, take 'em if you like. Though I don't think John's taste in bouquets is very good. We're going to the sea-side.
What are you going to do, Katy? But the other girls looked as if they didn't think this good fun at all, and as if they were sorry for her; and Katy felt suddenly that her vacation wasn't going to be so pleasant as that of the rest. Ellen Robbins says she'd give a million of dollars for such nice brothers and sisters as ours to play with. And, you know, Maria and Susie have awful times at home, though they do go to places.
Fiske is so particular. She always says 'Don't,' and they haven't got any yard to their house, or anything. I wouldn't change. Vacations are just splendid! It fell to the ground with a crash. They burst open the front door and raced up stairs, crying, "Hurrah! Aunt Izzie, vacation's begun! Sounds of beating and dusting came from the spare room.
Tables and chairs were standing about; and a cot-bed, which seemed to be taking a walk all by itself, had stopped short at the head of the stairs, and barred the way. Oh, there's Aunt Izzie! Aunt Izzie, who's coming? What are you moving the things out of the Blue-room for? Let the bedstead alone, Katy, you'll push it into the wall.
There, I told you so! What a troublesome child you are! Go right down stairs, both of you, and don't come up this way again till after tea. I've just as much as I can possibly attend to till then. This was news indeed. Katy and Clover ran down stairs in great excitement, and after consulting a little, retired to the Loft to talk it over in peace and quiet. Cousin Helen coming! It seemed as strange as if Queen Victoria, gold crown and all, had invited herself to tea.
Or as if some character out of a book, Robinson Crusoe, say, or "Amy Herbert," had driven up with a trunk and announced the intention of spending a week. Only there was a sort of mixture of Sunday-school book in their idea of her, for Cousin Helen was very, very good. None of them had ever seen her. Philly said he was sure she hadn't any legs, because she never went away from home, and lay on a sofa all the time.
But the rest knew that this was because Cousin Helen was ill. Papa always went to visit her twice a year, and he liked to talk to the children about her, and tell how sweet and patient she was, and what a pretty room she lived in. Katy and Clover had "played Cousin Helen" so long, that now they were frightened as well as glad at the idea of seeing the real one. And then, of course, she reads the Bible a great deal. Oh dear, how quiet we shall have to be!
I wonder how long she's going to stay? Sherwood's story, I guess, with blue eyes, and curls, and a long, straight nose. And she'll keep her hands clasped so all the time, and wear 'frilled wrappers,' and lie on the sofa perfectly still, and never smile, but just look patient. We'll have to take off our boots in the hall, Clover, and go up stairs in stocking feet, so as not to make a noise, all the time she stays. The time seemed very long till the next afternoon, when Cousin Helen was expected. Aunt Izzie, who was in a great excitement, gave the children many orders about their behavior.
They were to do this and that, and not to do the other. Dorry, at last, announced that he wished Cousin Helen would just stay at home.