MoboReader > Literature > Vacation with the Tucker Twins

   Chapter 5 BLANCHE.

Vacation with the Tucker Twins By Nell Speed Characters: 12243

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

"Who is to go over to Norfolk with me to meet the guests, also the cook lady from Keysville?" demanded Zebedee as he scraped the very last vestige of batter bread sticking to the sides of the pan. Annie Pore and Mary Flannagan, our schoolmates, were to arrive on a James River boat and our much needed cook on the train.

The cook was a great niece of Mammy Susan's dead husband, who was being educated at an industrial school for coloured boys and girls. I had never seen her, but Mammy Susan had been rather impressed by what she had heard of the girl and it was because of her recommendation that the Tuckers had determined to employ her.

"She's got good Afgan blood in her," declared Mammy, "but th' aint no tellin' what schoolin' is done did to'ds spilin' of her."

We were willing to gamble on the good "Afgan" blood and now we were to meet the girl, Blanche Johnson by name. I had written her telling her exactly what train to take and to be sure to pin a red bow on her left shoulder as a means of identification.

"Page must go because she did so much work this morning, besides getting most drowned," and Dum got up from the devastated breakfast table and began clearing off the dishes.

"And Miss Cox must go--"

"Why don't you all go?" put in Zebedee. "Leave these stupid old dishes for the lily fair Blanche."

"Oh, Jeffry Tucker, never!" exclaimed Miss Cox. "If she found us with dirty dishes she would think we like 'em dirty and give 'em to us for the rest of the time. No, you girls go on with your irresponsible parent and I will stay and do this little dab of dish washing. I don't want to go to Norfolk. In fact, I never do want to go to Norfolk." I detected a slight trembling of her lip and a painful flush on her countenance, but as she turned away quickly I thought I was the only person who had noticed it.

"But I can't allow you to do so much, Jinny," objected Zebedee.

"Well, we've got at least fifteen minutes before the trolley leaves. Let's all of us turn in and get it done before the time is up," and I set the example by grabbing the batter bread pan from Zebedee, who was trying to find just one more crumb. "Come on and help. I'll make you some more this evening for supper."

Such another bustling and hurrying as then went on! The dishes were already scraped by the voracious swimmers, so there was nothing to do but plunge them into the hot, soapy water where Miss Cox officiated with a dish mop, and then into the rinse water. Dee was ready with a tea towel and Dum put them away, while I put butter and milk in the refrigerator and wiped off the table. Zebedee stood around in everybody's way doing what he called "head work."

"If it takes one lone chaperone one hour to do the dishes, how long will it take her to do them with the assistance of one learned gentleman and three charming young ladies, when two of them are twins and the other one the most famous blower of bubbles in the world? Answer, teacher!"

"Just twelve minutes by the clock, and it would have been only ten if the learned gentleman had not made us walk around him so much," laughed Miss Cox. "Now off with you or you'll have to run for your car. Don't worry about me. I may go back to sleep."

The boat was in when we reached Norfolk but the girls had been instructed to stay aboard until we got there. We could see dear old Mary Flannagan's red head as we put foot on the pier and as soon as she saw us she began to crow like chanticleer. What fun it was to see these girls again!

We were a strangely assorted quintette. The Tucker twins, Annie Pore, Mary Flannagan and I; but our very difference made us just that much more congenial. The twins were not a bit alike in disposition. Dum,-Virginia,-was artistic, sometimes a trifle moody, very impulsive and hot-tempered but withal the most generous and noble-minded person I knew, quite like her father in lots of ways. Dee,-Caroline,-was more practical and even-tempered with a great deal of tact prompted by her kind heart, the tenderest heart in all the world, that took in the whole animal kingdom from elephants to ants.

Annie Pore, our little English friend, had developed so since our first meeting that she seemed hardly the same person who had sat so forlornly in the station in Richmond only ten short months before.

She had lost the timid, nervous look and was growing more beautiful every day. She had had thirty days of such growing since I had last beheld her and she had made good use of her time. I had a feeling the minute I saw her that perhaps she had come to some more satisfactory understanding with her father. In fact, she must have, since he had permitted her to join the house party at Willoughby Beach.

Mary Flannagan was the same old Mary, red head, freckled face, bunchy waist and all; but there never was a more good-natured, merry face than Mary's. Her blue eyes had a twinkle in them that was better than mere beauty and her frequent laughs disclosed a set of perfectly clean, white teeth. On the whole, Mary was not so very homely and to us, her best friends, she was almost beautiful.

As for me, Page Allison, I was just a girl, neither beautiful nor ugly, brilliant nor stupid; but I was still as determined as I had been on that morning in September when I started out from Bracken for boarding school, not to rest until I had made a million friends. I had made a pretty good start and I intended to keep it up.

"Well, we are glad to see you!" exclaimed Zebedee, shaking hands with both girls at once as he met them on the gangway. "I hope your father is well, Miss Annie, and is favourably considering joining us for a week end at Willoughby."

"I don't know, Mr. Tucker, what he will do," answered Annie, smiling; "he enjoyed seeing you so much that I shall not be astonished if he takes you at your word and comes to visit you."

That was the most wonderful conquest ever made! Zebedee had been down to Price's Landing and deliberately captivated the stiff, unbending Englishman, Mr. Arthur Ponsonby Pore. I asked him to tell me about it and he answered quite simply i

n the words of C?sar: "'Veni! Vidi! Vici!' Why, Page, the man is peculiar but he is more lonesome than anything else. All I did was to treat him like a human being and take for granted he would treat me the same way, and sure enough he did. And here is poor little Annie, to show the wisdom of taking it for granted that a man is going to be kind. I asked him to let her come to the house party as though he would of course be delighted to give his daughter this pleasure, and he complied with the greatest cordiality."

After seeing to the girls' trunks and transferring them to the baggage trolley for Willoughby Beach (and this time Annie, having a neat, new little trunk which she called a "box," was not embarrassed by the bulging telescope she had taken to Gresham), we then went to the station to await the arrival of the precious cook.

"S'pose she doesn't come!" wailed Dum.

"Well, if it would mean more of Page's batter bread, I shan't mind much," declared Zebedee as the train puffed in.

"Look for a girl with a red bow on her shoulder," said I, peering at every passenger who got out of the coloured coach. There were many as there was an excursion to Ocean View and a picnic given by "The Sons and Daughters of the Morning." The dusky crowd swarmed by, laden with boxes and baskets of lunch, all of them laughing and happy and any of them looking as though she might be a good cook, but not one of them was Blanche. Red there was in abundance but never in the form of a bow on the left shoulder. Red hats, red cravats, red parasols passed us by, and even a stair-steps row of six little nigs in rough-dry white dresses with all of their pigtails tightly "wropped" with red string and a big red bow of ten-cent store ribbon on top of each happy, woolly head,-and still no Blanche.

"Ah, I see visions of more and more batter bread of the Page brand," murmured Zebedee. "I'm going to purchase a big baking dish so you can mix up twice as much."

"Look, there is a girl coming back! Could that be Blanche?" and Dee pointed to a very fat, good-looking, brown-skinned girl, dressed in the very latest and most extreme style of that summer. She wore a very tight skirt of black and white silk with stripes about an inch and a half broad, slit up over a flounced petticoat of royal purple. Her feet, substantial, to say the least, were encased in white canvas shoes with purple ties, and purple cotton stockings were stretched to their utmost over her piano legs (I mean the old square pianos), stretched so tight, in fact, that they took on the gloss of silk. A lavender crêpe de Chine blouse very much open, exposing her capacious chest, and a purple straw hat trimmed with black roses, perched on top of a towering, shiny pompadour, completed the colour scheme. Pinned on her left shoulder was an artificial orchid with a purple bow. In her hand she carried a huge basket covered with a newspaper.

"Are you Blanche Johnson?" I questioned.

"I was about to propound the same inquisition to you when I seen you approaching I," she answered with a mincing manner. "I am consigned to the kind ospices of Mr. Tucker and Miss Page Allison, a young lady who has been since infantry under the jurisprudence of Mrs. Susan Black, my great arnt once removed by intermarriage."

"Well, Blanche, I am Miss Page Allison and this is Mr. Tucker, and Mr. Tucker's daughters, Miss Virginia and Miss Caroline. We came very near missing you as we were looking for the red bow, pinned on your left shoulder."

"Well, now, Miss Page, it was very disappointmenting for me not to be compliable to your requisition, but I belong to an uplifting club at my school and one of our first and most important relegations is that the mimbers must never do nothing nigrified. An' they have decided that the unduly bedizenment of yourself in red garments is the first and foremost nigrification of the race. Hence, therefore, I resolutioned to trust that my kind frinds would indemnify me with this orchard."

"And so we have, Blanche, and now we will go take the electrics for Willoughby," and Zebedee, his face crimson from suppressed merriment, led the way to the car line, while Blanche kept up a steady fire of polite talk.

"There was another reason for my abandonment of the red bow, Miss Page, and that was that I am in kinder sicond mournin' for the disease of my only brother's offspring."

"Oh, I am sorry, Blanche! How old was the child? Was it a boy or girl?"

"Well, it wa'nt to say any age, as the angel was borned daid, and as for the slight differentation in sex, I was so woeful I done forgot to arsk my po' bereaved brother whether it were the fair sex or the inversion."

"Well, if the little thing had to die, it must have been a relief for your brother to know it had never lived."

"No'm, no'm! 'Twould a been a gret comfort if'n it had lived a while. You see Mandy, Jo's wife, is sickly and her offspring is cosequentially sickly and Jo always has heretoforth been able to collect a little insuriance on his prodigy by bein' very promptitude in the compilation of the policies. Yes! Yes! Po' Jo! I felt that it was the least I could do to show respec' for his great bereavement by puttin' on the traps of woefulness," and she smoothed with pride her striped skirt and looked with evident admiration at her fearfully and wonderfully clad feet.

"How old does a child have to be to collect insurance?" I asked.

"Well, some companies is agreeable to the acceptance of infantry at a very tinder age and will pay at their disease if the contractioning parties can prove there ain't no poultry play."

"Poultry play?" I gasped.

"Yes'm, poultry play! That is to say, foul play. You see, Miss Page, one of our club relegations is to use the word with the most syllabubs as we seem to feel more upliftable. And poultry sounds much mo' elegant than jis' foul."

I was bursting for a laugh but had to hold in, while all of those bad girls with the disgraceful Zebedee pretended to see something in a shoe shop window that was sufficiently funny to keep them in a gale of mirth.

* * *

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top