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   Chapter 2 THREE CHUMS

Glenloch Girls By Grace May Remick Characters: 14463

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03


"Why, how delightful, Henry," cried Mrs. Hamilton, as she finished reading a letter which her husband had just handed to her. "Of course we want the little girl to come at once."

"Of course," agreed Mr. Hamilton with equal heartiness. "It will be nice to have a little daughter around the house to bring me my slippers and play and sing to me when I am tired. But what will Arthur think of it?" inquired Mr. Hamilton with a note of anxiety in his voice.

"I hadn't thought of that," answered his wife, her bright face clouding. "I dare say he won't like it at all, but I don't see that we can let him decide it. Perhaps it may do him good in the end."

"Well, I shall leave you to settle it with him," said Mr. Hamilton rising from the table. "For some reason nothing I say seems to make much of an impression on him nowadays."

"I must say that I get dreadfully discouraged, too," confessed his wife. "He is so hopelessly indifferent to everything he used to like; he utterly refuses to see one of the boys or girls, and he sits for hours at a time doing absolutely nothing. I can see that the doctor is really anxious about him," she continued.

"Keep up your courage, dear," said Mr. Hamilton with more cheerfulness than he felt. "Perhaps we shall find a way out of it soon."

"I'll go up now and tell Arthur about Ruth," said Mrs. Hamilton as she said goodbye to her husband in the hall. "That will give him something to think of, whether he likes the prospect or not."

As Mrs. Hamilton entered the little sitting-room which used to be the pride of her son's heart, it was so full of warmth and light and brightness that, for a moment, in spite of herself, she felt as if she must see the cheery boy of six months before. Everything so suggested him, and it was so clearly the room of a boy who loved all kinds of outdoor exercise. A pair of tennis racquets crossed on the wall had evidently resigned their place for the time being to the golf clubs which stood in one comer. A couple of paddles occupied another comer, and rigged on the wall near the door was a complicated arrangement of ropes, pulleys and weights designed to exercise every muscle in the human body. Mrs. Hamilton sighed involuntarily as her eye rested on a silver cup which stood proudly on the centre table, a mute witness to the prowess of its owner. It was the prize for a hundred yard dash in which Arthur had borne off the honors.

"He'll never be able to do that again, poor laddie," she said to herself, as she waited a moment to brush the tears from her eyes before opening the door into the next room.

"Good-morning, dear boy," she said brightly, as she entered a room which seemed doubly gloomy to her after the brightness of the one she had left. "You should provide a boy with a torch so that your visitors can see to get across the room. What ho! have I found you at last?" she continued, as she took her son's hand in a tender grasp and gave him a good-morning kiss.

"Do let's have some sunshine, Arthur," she said, putting up the curtain and letting in a flood of light. "There, now I feel more at home. Why don't you get the benefit of the morning sunshine?"

"I don't like to look out just at this time in the morning, mother," he answered briefly.

Mrs. Hamilton understood in a flash, for just as they were speaking a gay group of boys and girls had passed the window, and Arthur, who had turned involuntarily to look at them, had closed his eyes quickly as though to shut out the pleasant sight.

"Dr. Holland says you may begin to study again, now, Arthur," said his mother cheerfully, "and it seems to me you might be ready for college next fall if you do a little every day. You may have a tutor any time you are ready."

"What's the use?" answered Arthur languidly. "I can't do anything in athletics with this confounded leg, and I don't want to go there just to limp around and grind."

"My dear boy, college training is occasionally useful in the way of improving one's mind as well as muscles," said Mrs. Hamilton with mild sarcasm. "Dear, don't think I am unsympathetic," she added quickly as her son. frowned impatiently. "I realize, in part, at least, what it must be to you to give up your dreams of athletic glory; but I know, too, that no one else can fight this battle for you. You've got to face the question squarely, and I have faith that you will come out a conqueror if you put your best self into the effort."

"Mother, you don't begin to know," said Arthur slowly, "what this means to me. It's not alone giving up the athletics, though that's hard enough, but it's the sensitiveness I feel about letting any one see that I'm lame. I believe I was rather proud before," he continued with a faint smile, "because I was straight and strong and could almost always beat the other boys at any game we tried; I know it always seemed to me the most dreadful thing in the world to be crippled in any way, and now I've got to hop around with a crutch all the rest of my life. Oh, I believe I'd rather die," he ended bitterly.

"Arthur, dear, I can understand that feeling perfectly," answered his mother eagerly, "for at your age I had it as strongly as you have. I think it is only natural to rejoice in strength and straightness and skill, and to be sensitive if in any way they are taken away from us. But for all our sakes you've got to bring yourself out of this unhappy condition. Begin with your crutches about your room, and when you get a little skill surprise father and me by coming downstairs. We miss our boy more than I can say."

There was silence for a moment and then Mrs. Hamilton said:

"I came up with a pocketful of news and have almost forgotten to tell you about it. We are to have a new member in our family; a little girl, the daughter of an old friend of mine, is coming to live with us for a whole year."

"How old is she?" asked Arthur indifferently.

"I'm not quite sure," answered his mother, relieved to find that he took it so calmly, "but I think she is about fourteen."

"Fourteen! Gracious!" ejaculated Arthur sitting bolt upright in his dismay. "You don't mean to say that we've got to have a girl fourteen years old in this house? I thought you meant a child about four or five when you said 'little girl.'"

Mrs. Hamilton couldn't help laughing at his comical look of apprehension. "I think she's quite harmless, Arthur, and perhaps you may find her really agreeable when you know her."

"You know I don't know how to get on with girls, mother," he answered ruefully. "I shall keep out of her way as much as possible, she may be sure of that."

"I am sorry to find you so ungraciously disposed toward our guest," said Mrs. Hamilton quietly, "for I hoped you would help me to make it pleasant for her. Her mother died only a little more than a year ago, and now she is going to lose her father for a year, so I am afraid the poor child will be rather forlorn."

"We shall make a pretty pair for you and father to get along with," said Arthur half ashamed. "I'm blue and disagreeable most of the time, and she'll probably be ready to burst into tears at a moment's notice."

"There are other ways of giving way to one's feelings th

at are fully as bad as tears, I think, my son," said Mrs. Hamilton significantly.

Arthur said nothing, but his chin went down upon his hand in a way that seemed to signify that he knew what his mother meant.

Mrs. Hamilton looked at the curly head remorsefully, and longed to pet and comfort as only mothers can. She knew, however, that Arthur must be made to see that he was spoiling his life by giving way to this great trial which had come to him.

"Well, dear boy," she said at last, "I must go now and write to

Ruth and tell her that I shall be glad to welcome her here."

"How soon will she get here?" asked Arthur in a resigned tone.

"Her father wrote that he expects to sail on the fifteenth of October, and as he wants to have two or three days in New York before sailing that will probably bring her here about the twelfth or thirteenth. Not quite three weeks, you see."

"The time does seem short," said Arthur, trying to appear politely interested.

His mother laughed. "I'll leave you to prepare your mind for this new infliction while I write the note and do my marketing. Don't forget that you are going to practice with the crutches as soon as possible; I shall be so proud of you when you can walk downstairs."

Mrs. Hamilton a little later at her desk was just beginning the pleasant task of writing to Ruth, when the sound of the doorbell and a quick scamper of feet up the stairs made her put down her pen with a smile. "Why, girls," she said as a trio of bright faces appeared in the doorway. "How does it happen that you are out of school at this hour of the day?"

"Something happened to the gas-pipes, and there was an awful smell of gas, and all sorts of workmen walking around the building, so we were sent home," answered the tallest of the three girls. "And we thought we'd come in and see you for a few minutes, if you weren't busy and didn't mind."

"I'm almost never too busy to see you and Charlotte and Dorothy, Betty, and I'm particularly glad just now, for I want to consult you all about something."

"How fine," said Dorothy. "I love to be consulted, don't you, girls?"

"You see," continued Mrs. Hamilton, "I am going to borrow a daughter for a whole year, and I thought you three would be the very ones to help me make her happy."

"We will. We'd like to," answered the girls. "How old is she?" asked Charlotte. "And what's her name?" put in Dorothy. "I always like to know the name before I begin to think very much about a person."

"Her name is Ruth Shirley, and she's just fourteen, I believe. She lost a very lovely mother about a year ago, and now her father is obliged to go abroad on business, so I suspect the poor child will feel lonely and homesick for a while."

"We'll give her all the good times we can," said Betty warmly.

"When do you expect her, Mrs. Hamilton?"

"In less than three weeks, I think, and that reminds me that I want you all to advise me about making her room pretty. Let's go and look at it now and discuss ways and means."

"Oh, you are going to give her the pink room," cried Dorothy as they entered it. "I think this is the loveliest room in the house." It was a pretty room, with its delicate pink and white paper, its dainty draperies and white furniture, and the girls wondered what more it could need in the way of preparation.

"It seems to me this is fine enough for any one," said Charlotte, who usually thought aloud quite frankly. "I don't see what you can do to make it prettier."

"Perhaps not so much prettier as a little more homelike, Charlotte. For one thing I mean to have some andirons so that there can be a fire made here when necessary, for this is likely to be a cold room in winter."

"That will be jolly," murmured Charlotte. "If there's anything I adore it's an open fire with a rug before it. I hope she's a nice, quiet girl and likes to read," she added with pretended anxiety, "for in that case I shouldn't mind having her in the room with me when I am enjoying her fire."

They all laughed and Dorothy said, "Charlotte is such an old bookworm that she won't know how to get on with any one who doesn't like to read. For my part I hope she will be full of fun and like having a good time better than poking in books all the time."

"Well," said Betty pensively, "I hope she likes cats."

"Well, girls, I hope Ruth will satisfy your expectations," said Mrs. Hamilton. "And now I want you to do something for me. I want each of you to think of something that will make the room look more homelike and more like a girl's room. You may select anything you like and if I can get it I shall, for I want you all to feel that you have had a share in making the room pretty."

"I know something," began Dorothy.

"Don't tell, don't tell," interrupted Charlotte. "Let's tell Mrs. Hamilton secretly, and after the room is finished we'll see if we can guess what each one suggested."

"That's a clever idea, Lottchen," said Betty, who admired all that

Charlotte said or did.

This agreed upon, the girls said they must go, and Mrs. Hamilton settled down to her letter once more.

"MY DEAR RUTH" (she wrote):

"I can't wait any longer to tell you how delighted I am to know that you are coming to us for a whole year. I have always wanted a daughter of my own, and the next best thing to that will be to have a borrowed one. I am afraid you are not so full of delight at the prospect as Mr. Hamilton and I are, but we hope to be able to drive away at least a part of the homesickness, and we already feel an affection for the little girl who is coming to us.

"I am going to send you a photograph of some girls who have just been in to see me and who have heard the news of your coming. I am very fond of them, and they call themselves my 'visiting daughters,' and run in to see me at all hours and on all sorts of errands. They are very glad to know you are coming and are already wondering how you look and whether you will like them. The one in the middle of the picture is Charlotte Eastman, and the plump little girl on her right is Betty Ellsworth. The other is Dorothy Marshall. I shall not tell you anything more about them, because you will soon see them and learn to know them for yourself."

Just here Mrs. Hamilton paused in her letter. "She must know that I have a son, and I'm afraid she'll think it strange if I don't mention him," she said to herself. "I can't tell her that he is dreading her coming, and I certainly can't say with truth that he is expecting her with pleasure. Well, a very little will do and I can explain later."

"My son, Arthur," the letter went on, "is slowly recovering from the effects of a severe accident. He has not yet left his room, but I hope by the time you arrive he will have greatly improved.

"And now, my dear, I'll close my note and hurry it off so that it may soon assure you of our hearty welcome. With kindest regards to your father, and love to yourself, I am,

"Yours very sincerely,

"MARY A. HAMILTON."

Mrs. Hamilton's eyes were very tender as she folded and sealed her letter. "Poor little girl," she said half aloud, "I suspect she thinks her heart is broken, but we must try to mend it for her."

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