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   Chapter 4 TWO BOYS AND A GIRL.

A Fool There Was By Porter Emerson Browne Characters: 6368

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


To the budding mind of young Jack Schuyler, life was a very pleasant affair. It began each morning at six thirty; and from then on until eight at night, there was something to fill each moment. He didn't care for school, particularly; still, it wasn't difficult enough to cause much discomfort. The natal pains of study were not by any means unbearable inasmuch as he was quick to see and to understand; and furthermore, he was possessed of a retentive memory. In his classes he assumed a position of about eighth from the fore; and he maintained it with but little fluctuation. In the out-of-door sports of small boys, he was usually first-that is, when Tom Blake wasn't. When Tom Blake was, Jack Schuyler was second.

He was a sturdy boy, active, quick, strong of limb and of body. He had earnest, serious eyes of gray-blue, like those of his father. His mouth and chin were delicate, like his mother's. And he was thoughtful, rather than impulsive.

Tom Blake, on the other hand, was impulsive rather than thoughtful. He had dark eyes and ruddy cheeks; and, at the age of nine, he had learned to walk on his hands in a manner that caused acute envy to rankle in the bosom of every boy in the neighborhood. Also, as is most unusual among boys of whatever station, color or instinct, he was self-sacrificing, and more than generous, and loyal to a fault.

Kathryn Blair was all that might have been expected of a daughter of her father and mother. Had you known them, it were difficult to describe further. You have been told that she was lithe, and dainty and very pretty. And she was feminine, very, and yet not unhoydenish; for she played much with Jack Schuyler and Tom Blake. She was natural, and unaffected, and whole-souled and buoyant, quick to laughter, quick to tears, with an inexhaustible fund of merriment, and of sympathy.

Of an afternoon, in early December, they lay, these three young animals, sprawling upon the great room in Blake's house-the room that had been made for play. The gentle rays of the early-setting sun streamed in through the broad windows upon a tumbled heap of discarded playthings, and upon a floor strewn with that which might have appeared to be drifting snow but which in reality was feathers; for there had been a fierce pillow fight; and one of the pillows, under the pressure of rolling little bodies, had burst. Its shrunken shape lay in a far corner of the room, rumpled, empty, a husk of the plump thing that it had been but a short time before.

Kathryn Blair, with slender, stockinged legs thrust out before her, was picking from the tangled masses of her gold-brown hair little clinging bits of down. Tom Blake, beside her lay flat upon his back; and by him, was Jack Schuyler, his head resting upon the heaving diaphragm of the other.

At length Jack Schuyler sat up, looking about him.

"Phew!" he whistled. "It looks like a snowslide…. We'll catch it now!"

Tom Blake rolled over on his stomach. He shook his head.

"Don't worry about that," he said. "Dad won't care, nor mother….

Besides, you're my guests, you know…. What shall we do now?"

Kathryn Blair said:

"I want to get these feathers off first.

They stick terribly…. Every time I think I've got hold of one, I find it's a hair." She shifted, so that her back was toward Tom Blake. "Help me, Tom," she commanded.

Obediently he rose to his knees. Resting his left hand upon her shoulder, he plucked, with clumsy masculine fingers at the bits of white that nestled in her hair…. She gave a little cry.

"Ouch! That hurts, Tom! I guess I'd better wait until I get home and have Harris do it. Harris isn't pretty, but she's awfully good; and she doesn't fuss a bit" … She turned around, suddenly, violet eyes wide with excitement. "Oh! I forgot to tell you!" she cried. "Doctor DeLancey said that maybe he'd bring me a baby brother today!"

Tom Blake and Jack Schuyler both turned to her.

"He did!" they cried almost together.

She nodded, profoundly.

"Yes," she said. "That's why they sent me over here to get all mussed up with feathers. You know baby brothers are bashful. Dr. DeLancey told me all about it. They like to be all alone in the house with their mothers, so that they can get acquainted."

Jack Schuyler rose up on his elbows.

"I know a boy," he said, "that was promised a baby brother and all he got was a sister…. I don't think that was square, do you?"

Tom Blake looked out the window, thoughtfully.

"I don't know," he remarked at length, judicially. "It might not have been the doctor's fault. Sometimes they get 'em mixed, I guess…. And anyhow, sisters aren't so bad. I wish I had one right now-one like you, Kathryn." He turned on her eyes in which were the frank liking and admiration of boyhood.

She tossed the tumbled braids of her hair back over her shoulders.

"I'd rather be a boy, myself," she said. "They don't have to wear dresses and things. And people don't give them dolls when they'd rather have rocking horses…. I wish they'd hurry and bring that brother. I'm just wild to see it!"

Jack Schuyler sat up.

"Well," he assured her, "They'll send over for you when it comes…. What shall we do now?"

He waited patiently for suggestions. Tom Blake and Kathryn Blair sat, foreheads grooved in thought. At length Jack Schuyler cried suddenly:

"I know! Let's play leopard shooting! I saw a picture of one in the geography. It looked just like Fiddles." Fiddles was the plethoric Maltese member of the Blake family. "We've got those tin guns, and we can stalk it. What do you say?"

That which they said was later evidenced; for when Thomas Cathcart Blake entered the front door of his residence that night and started up the stairs, he was met by an excited feline, followed by three equally excited children. And the cat, on seeing him, its cosmogony disrupted to such an extent that it felt itself no longer able to distinguish friend from foe, tried to turn back with the result that its first pursuer fell over it. There was the added result that the next two pursuers tripped upon the sprawling form of the first. And Thomas Cathcart Blake had great difficulty in preventing himself from joining the sprawling parade that tumbled past him to the foot of the stairs, and lay at the bottom, a heap of tossing legs and arms and ribbons and fur.

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