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   Chapter 4 A NEW CLUB

Glenloch Girls By Grace May Remick Characters: 15489

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03


The first days in the new home, while Mr. Shirley was still in New York and within reach, were hard to bear and unpleasant to think of afterward. The new friends were so anxious to help her through the hard time that they scarcely gave her time to think, but in spite of their kindness, Ruth went to bed at night with a lonesome ache in her throat, and got up in the morning with the wild desire to take the first train to New York and catch papa before he should sail.

When at last the day and hour of sailing had come and gone, Ruth found it easier to resign herself to the inevitable, and began to really enjoy life instead of only seeming to do so.

Glenloch was a beautiful town, just far enough from Boston to make it seem like the country, and yet near enough so that concerts and shopping were within easy reach. To Ruth, who, except for brief visits East, had been accustomed ail her life to the level stretches of the Middle West, the New England hills, just now radiant in their autumn coloring were a constant source of delight.

She had been kept so busy seeing Glenloch, meeting Mrs. Hamilton's friends and getting acquainted with her own special chums that she had hardly had time to settle her belongings. Saturday morning, therefore, found her at work in good earnest, for the girls were coming in that afternoon, and she wanted her pretty room to look its prettiest.

"Not homesick, I hope, dear," said Mrs. Hamilton, coming into the room about noon to find Ruth curled up in the big armchair with the black kitten on her lap.

"No, only resting after putting my room in order. I've been so busy and the days have flown so fast that I haven't wholly unpacked my trunk until this morning."

"The pictures make the room look very homelike," said Mrs. Hamilton, glancing at the photographs which adorned desk, mantel and table. "Are these all friends of yours?" she added with a sly smile, as her eye caught the picture of the little Queen of Holland in quaint peasant costume.

"No, most of them are what papa calls my 'admirations,'" answered Ruth with a laugh. "That picture of Queen Wilhelmina is my great joy because she looks like such a nice girl. The others are mostly musicians and composers. Papa bought them to encourage me in my music, because he is so anxious I shall make a success of it."

"Why, this is interesting. I haven't had time yet to find out about your talents. Do you sing or play the piano?"

"A little of both, but I like the violin best and I've taken lessons on it since I was eight years old. I am all out of practice now," she added soberly, "for I've done hardly anything at it since mamma died. She was so fond of it that everything I play reminds me of her, and I can't bear it yet."

"Perhaps you will feel like beginning again this winter," said Mrs.

Hamilton, putting her arm around her.

"I am sure I shall," answered Ruth gratefully, giving the kind arm a little squeeze. "Papa thought that just as soon as I got well started in school it would be a good plan for me to go into Boston for violin lessons."

"That will be delightful," said Mrs. Hamilton heartily, "and I shall have to begin practicing so that I can play your accompaniments. Since Arthur has been ill I have neglected my piano dreadfully. I used to play duets with him a great deal, but I suppose nothing would persuade him to touch the piano now."

"Will he never be any better?"

"The doctor gives us every reason to hope that he will be almost well if he can only get over this terrible depression. His father and I can only stand by and help all we can while he fights this battle for himself." There was a long pause while Mrs. Hamilton looked thoughtfully out of the window as though facing problems harder than she could solve, and Ruth racked her brain to think of something encouraging to say.

"If I could only help I should be very glad," she said at last, timidly.

"I am sure you would," answered Mrs. Hamilton with a grateful kiss.

"And now what are your plans for this afternoon?" she added brightly.

"Oh, the girls are coming in, and I am going to try to get really acquainted with them. It's so interesting to have three new friends at the same time."

"They are very nice girls, and each so different from the other that I sometimes wonder why they are such close friends."

"I am just a little bit afraid of Charlotte still," confessed Ruth. "She seems to know so much, and she makes such funny, sharp speeches. But I feel as though I'd known Betty for years."

"Poor Charlotte has had a different sort of life from the others," said Mrs. Hamilton with a sigh, "and it has helped to bring out the sharp comers in her nature. Her mother is an invalid, and Charlotte has had a great deal of care and responsibility."

"Betty thinks everything that Charlotte does is just right," said

Ruth.

"Betty is one of the most loyal friends imaginable. She puts her dearest friends on pedestals, and bestows her time and her services freely upon them. I've known her ever since she was a baby, and she has always been the same sunshiny little soul."

"She just suits me because she always has a kitten or two trailing after her," said Ruth. with a laugh. "Dorothy's a dear, too, and in fact I'm sure we are all going to be such good chums that I shan't know which one I like best."

"That's the very nicest way," answered Mrs. Hamilton. "Bless me, is it lunch time?" she added as Katie appeared in the doorway. "You are an entertaining hostess, my dear, and you have made me forget how fast time flies."

Ruth was glad that the cool afternoon gave an excuse for a fire, for she loved the crackle and warmth, and the soft color that the fire-glow threw over everything. As she looked around her pretty room with a satisfied air, there was a patter of feet on the stairs, a suppressed giggle and then a knock.

"Come in, come in," cried Ruth, throwing the door wide open. "I was beginning to be afraid you weren't coming."

"It's my fault, as usual," said Charlotte in a resigned tone. "The girls called for me, and just as we were going to start one of the twins fell into a kettle of grape-juice that had been left to cool in the summer-kitchen."

"Oh! Was he badly burned?" cried Ruth.

"No, it was cold, but he'll be purple for the next week, I suppose.

Of course I had to stop and wring him out and make him as clean as

I could. He's a sight, though."

The contrast between Charlotte's tragic tone and the picture she gave of her small brother was too much for Ruth's gravity, and she laughed till the tears came.

"How old are they, and do they do those things often?" she gasped at last.

"They're six, and they do," said Charlotte briefly. "If ever a day passes that one of those boys doesn't do something to harrow our feelings I know that it is a sure sign that something more awful than usual is going to happen the next day."

"It must be exciting to have a large family," said Ruth with a tinge of longing in her voice.

"It is; desperately exciting," said Charlotte drily. "Now I call this luxury," she added, dropping down on the fur rug. "Just imagine having a place like this where you can be absolutely alone with books and pictures and fire. You're a lucky girl, Ruth."

"It's a perfectly dear room, and I love it," added Ruth. "It was so good of all of you to help plan it before you even knew me. Let's make some fudge, girls," she added. "Who's the best fudge-maker here?"

"Not I," answered Charlotte lazily. "I'm second to none on eating it, though."

"Dolly's fudge is great," said Betty.

"You make it then, Dorothy, and I'll help when your arm gets tired," said Ruth, getting the chafing-dish from

the shelf under the table. "We'll put the cups on the mantel, girls, and cover the table with this enamel cloth that Mrs. Hamilton gave me this morning. Isn't she a dear? She thinks of everything to make me have a good time."

"Have you got much acquainted with Arthur yet?" asked Dorothy, who was busily mixing the ingredients for the candy.

"Haven't seen him since the day I came," answered Ruth, looking at Betty with a twinkle in her eye, "and I certainly didn't get very well acquainted with him then."

"It's a shame that he shuts himself up; he's just about breaking his mother's heart," declared Dorothy, stirring the savory mixture with unnecessary vehemence.

"He used to be great fun, and we miss him dreadfully at all our parties," said Betty with a sigh. "He isn't even willing to see Frank and Joe, and they used to be such chums."

"We might form ourselves into a society for 'The Restoration to the World of Arthur Hamilton, Esquire; T.R.T.T.W.O.A.H.E.': wouldn't that make a fine name for a secret society?" said Charlotte, who hadn't stirred from the rug. "Don't you want me to help you make the fudge, girls?" she added amiably, as Dorothy and then Ruth gave it a vigorous beating.

"Thank you, lazybones. It's done now. But you can help put things in order," said Dorothy slyly.

Charlotte groaned. "You know that's what I hate most of all. I should rather have made the fudge."

"Speaking of societies," broke in Betty, who had been in a brown study for several minutes, "let's have a club of some kind."

"Good idea, Bettikins," approved Charlotte. "Let's make it a dramatic club, and I'll do the heroes."

"With only four in the club you would have to be hero and villain and the heroine's white-haired father all in the same play," said Ruth with a laugh. "It would take all the rest of us to play the other parts."

"I mean really a nice club," continued Betty, pursuing her own idea with great seriousness, "and meet once a week and do something."

"Rather vague, that," murmured Charlotte. "If that's all there is to it we're a club now."

"What's your idea, Betty?" asked Dorothy encouragingly. "Anything but sewing. I utterly refuse to join that kind of a club."

"I knew a girl in Chicago," said Ruth, "who belonged to a cooking club. They met every two weeks at the different houses to practice, and once in two months they cooked a supper and invited other girls and boys. She said they had great fun and really learned a great deal."

"That's just my idea," declared Betty promptly, "only I couldn't get it quite clear in my own mind."

"I don't like cooking," said Charlotte soberly, "but I suppose it wouldn't hurt me to know something about it."

"The first thing, of course, is to ask our mothers and Mrs. Hamilton," said Dorothy, who was always practical. "I know mamma will be glad to have me learn, though I'm afraid the cook won't like to have us in her kitchen."

"Our Hannah wouldn't mind if you met at our house every time," said

Betty.

"That can all be settled later when we find out whether we can really do it," declared Charlotte impatiently. "In the meantime I'm pining for a piece of that fudge; isn't it hard yet, Dolly?"

"Just right," answered Dorothy, taking it in from the window-ledge.

"Dorothy, this is certainly the best fudge I ever tasted," declared Ruth impressively. "Mine was never half so good. Girls, I move that in consideration of Miss Dorothy Marshall's skill as a maker of fudge she be made president of the new club."

"Second the motion," cried both the girls at once, and as there was no one left to vote on it, it was declared settled.

Dorothy rose, bowed, tapped on the table with the chafing-dish spoon, and said with a fair imitation of her mother's stately manner:

"Ladies, I thank you for the honor you have conferred upon me." Then dropping her official manner, she added, "Let's keep it a dead secret at first from the boys, because they never tell us anything about their old Candle Club."

"What's that?" asked Ruth with great interest.

"Oh, six of the boys belong to it, and they've fixed up one of the rooms above our stable," answered Dorothy. "They call it the Candle Club because at first they used candles, but now the name doesn't fit."

"They might call themselves 'electric sparks,' now," drawled

Charlotte; "but boys are so unprogressive."

"We shall need some more officers," said Betty. "I think Charlotte ought to be secretary because she likes to write, and Ruth-"

What Ruth was to be was not destined to be told at that meeting, for just at that moment there was a loud knock which made the girls jump. Ruth opened the door and for a second saw no one. Then a plump, curly-haired boy, very purple as to his face and hands, and rather bedraggled as to his general appearance, walked in hesitatingly. Close at his heels followed a depressed-looking Scotch terrier. At sight of the latter, every individual hair on Fuzzy's spine stood up straight, and with remarks in several different languages he fled to the top of a high-backed chair, where he sat and glared at the enemy.

The girls were convulsed with laughter, and the small visitor, abashed, fled to Charlotte and buried his face in her lap.

"Irving Eastman, what are you here for?" demanded Charlotte sternly, trying to raise the curly beau so that she might look the culprit in the face.

"Wanted to find you," came in smothered accents from her lap. "Me and Tatterth got lonethome."

"Why didn't you stay with Stanley and the others?"

"Couldn't. Couthin Jothie came and took them out to walk, and I couldn't go 'cauth I wath all blue."

"How did you get in here?"

"The door wath open, and I came upthtairth and then I couldn't find you. But I found Arthur, and Tatterth and I thtayed with him."

The girls looked at each other in amazement.

"What did you do in Arthur's room, Irving?" asked Betty soothingly.

"I talked to him and he gave me thith." The purple cherub raised his head and opening one fat hand displayed a small carved bear of Swiss manufacture. "He thaid it could be my bear for alwayth," he declared triumphantly.

"What did Arthur say when you walked into his room?" asked Dorothy.

"He laughed so hard I wath going to come away, but he called me back."

"Girls, he laughed," repeated Charlotte impressively. "Irving,

I ought to scold you, but this time you are an angel in disguise.

Perhaps this is the first step in the Restoration of A. H., Esq."

"Let's take another, then, by sending him a plate of fudge," suggested Ruth.

"Just the thing," exclaimed Betty and Dorothy together, and they immediately hooked little fingers and proceeded to wish.

"Irving, can you carry some fudge to Arthur?" continued Ruth, heaping up one of her daintiest saucers. "If you will take this without spilling any, you shall have some to take home with you."

"I gueth tho," said Irving with an angelic smile, feeling himself the hero of the occasion.

"Just give the dish to Arthur and come right back," said Charlotte decidedly. "It's time to go anyway," she continued, "and I must take the Infant home as soon as possible, or mother will worry."

"He thayth 'thankth,'" said Irving in aloud voice, strolling down the hall and leaving Arthur's door wide open behind him.

"Shut the door, Irving," said Charlotte in a loud whisper.

"I think he better have it open," answered Irving, who did not feel disposed to take any extra steps.

"Irving," began Charlotte sternly, then stopped in amazement at the unexpected sound of Arthur's voice.

"Never mind the door, Irving," he said, "The fudge is out of sight, girls, or will be in a few moments. Much obliged."

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