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   Chapter 3 THE DIALOGUE

Dorothy Dainty's Gay Times By Amy Brooks Characters: 14648

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


Lola received a cordial greeting from Aunt Charlotte, and at recess time she declared that she was now in the nicest school that she had ever attended.

"Why, how many have you been in?" asked Mollie; "this is the only one I've ever been to, and you aren't any older than I am."

Lola laughed.

"I've been in three schools," she said. "Last year I commenced in one school, but we moved, and I had to go to another one. This makes the third, and I know I shall like it best of all."

Every one liked Lola. She seemed to be tireless. She knew many games, and as soon as they wearied of one, she chose another.

"She's as much fun to play with as a boy," said Reginald, at which Arabella laughed.

"You like any girls better'n boys; you said so the other day," she said.

"I like some girls," said the small boy, and he might have said more, but his cousin Katie stood behind Arabella, shaking her head, and frowning at him. Reginald looked at Katie, and decided to be silent.

There were ever so many things which he would have liked to say, but Katie might tell at home if he were too naughty.

When Arabella found that Lola was liked by all the other pupils, she decided to be just a bit friendly toward her, and Lola seemed pleased that Arabella was no longer odd and silent.

And so it happened that Arabella now seemed really to be a member of the class.

She no longer refused to join in their games at recess, and took more interest in her lessons than she had before.

Aunt Charlotte was delighted, and hoped that Arabella's pleasant mood would last.

There was great excitement one morning when the little class was told that plans had been made for the first entertainment, and that rehearsals would commence that afternoon. A little murmur of delight passed over the class, and Aunt Charlotte smiled at their pleasure.

"I shall ask Dorothy to sing two songs for us; Nancy, I know, will be willing to do a fancy dance; Nina and Jeanette are learning a new duet for the piano, and I should be pleased to have that for another number on our programme. I have chosen a fine dialogue which will give a part to every girl, and also a boy's r?le for Reginald."

When Aunt Charlotte had finished speaking, there was another little murmur of delight, and then the lessons for the day commenced.

At recess they could not spare a moment for games! They talked, and talked of the entertainment which they were to give, and of the fine times which they would have at the afternoon rehearsals, and after school, when they walked along the avenue, they still were talking of the solo numbers, and of the dialogue.

"There's eight girls in it, and one boy, that's Reginald," said Mollie, "and I know-oh, wait till I tie my shoe."

She rested her foot on a stone, and tied the ribbons with a smart little twitch.

"And now what were you going to say?" asked Jeanette.

"I said how many were to be in the dialogue, and I was going to say that I know I'm just wild to hear Aunt Charlotte read it to us this afternoon."

"Then you won't have to be wild long," Jeanette said, "for we are to come back at two to have our parts given to us."

* * *

At two o'clock they were again at the cottage, eagerly watching Aunt Charlotte, as she opened her desk, and took from it a book with a scarlet cover.

"There are nine girls in my class, just the number required for this dialogue," she said. "Eight of the characters are school girls, one is a fairy, and the boy in the little play is an elfin messenger."

"That'll be me, for I'm the only boy here," said Reginald; "you girls don't know who'll be which!"

Aunt Charlotte laughed at this speech as heartily as did the girls.

"We'll soon know who'll be which," said Nancy.

"Yes, because Aunt Charlotte will tell us," laughed Dorothy.

"The directions for producing the play, speaks of the fairy queen as being taller than the school girls, so I will give that part to you, Jeanette, as you are a trifle taller than the others."

"Oh, I'll love to be the queen," Jeanette said quickly, and she glanced at her playmates with flashing eyes.

"I guess Dorothy expected to be the queen," whispered Nina to Lola. Nina felt almost as proud as if she herself had been honored.

It was true that Dorothy had usually been given leading parts, but evidently she was not at all vexed.

"You'll make a fine queen, Jeanette," she was saying, "and oh, Aunt Charlotte, do tell her to let her hair hang loose; it's 'most below her waist."

"Surely Jeanette must have her hair unbraided," Aunt Charlotte agreed, "and we must make a tiny gold crown for her."

"How lovely!" said Nancy, and Jeanette was delighted.

Of course Reginald was to be the little page, and the other parts were assigned, Aunt Charlotte choosing for each of the girls the part which best fitted her.

At first Arabella had seemed greatly interested, but as soon as Jeanette had been chosen for the fairy queen, she left the group, and turning toward the window, looked out into the garden.

Flossie called to her.

"Come, Arabella!" she cried. "We're going to read our dialogue now."

The others took their places, and Arabella turned, and slowly joined them.

"We will pass the book from one to another, and thus read the little play through," said Aunt Charlotte, "and I will copy each part carefully, that each can memorize all that she has to say. When you have learned your lines, we will have our first rehearsal."

"Hooray!" said Reginald, and although the girls laughed, they were quite as eagerly delighted as he.

They left the cottage, and as they walked down the avenue they talked of the pretty dialogue, each insisting that she liked her part best.

"But mine's the best," said Reginald, "for I'm the only boy in it."

"Mine's the best, for I'm the queen," said Jeanette, and she held her head very high, as she looked toward her playmates.

"All the parts are nice," Nancy said, "and we'll have a fine entertainment."

Arabella had stopped to arrange her books in her desk, and was the last to leave the cottage.

"I like to see that you are orderly," Aunt Charlotte said, as Arabella passed her on her way to the door.

She made no reply, but hurried down the walk.

"An odd child, truly," Aunt Charlotte said, as she looked after the slender little figure.

The next day each girl received a copy of her lines, and Wednesday of the next week was set for the first rehearsal.

* * *

"I know every word I have to say," said Jeanette, as she walked along toward the cottage with Katie Dean.

It was Wednesday morning, and the first rehearsal was set for the afternoon.

"I guess I know mine, but I'm not sure. Aunt Charlotte will have the book and she can prompt me," Katie said.

"I know mine," boasted Reginald; "I have to run in right after the fairy, and say, 'Here is your magic wand, oh, queen,'"

"I guess you can't say it that way," laughed Jeanette, "for Aunt Charlotte wouldn't let you. You said it just as if you'd said, 'Here is a great, big sandwich, oh, queen!'"

"Well, I didn't say that, and you needn't laugh. It makes you feel big to be queen!"

"Reginald!"

"Well, it does," declared the small boy, "an' Arabella said so yesterday."

"Arabella likes to say mean things," said

Jeanette, "but it doesn't prove that they're so because she says so."

Everything went smoothly at the afternoon rehearsal, until Dorothy said that Nancy was to do a lovely fancy dance for one number on the programme, when Arabella felt moved to make one of her unpleasant remarks.

"My Aunt Matilda doesn't 'prove of dancing," she said, looking sharply at Nancy.

"Well, your Aunt Matilda doesn't have to dance," said Mollie, pertly.

Mollie knew that she was naughty, but truly Arabella was trying.

"Perhaps your aunt likes music," said Nina; "Dorothy is going to sing."

"I don't know whether she likes singing or not," Arabella replied, "but she doesn't like dancing, I know, for she said she wouldn't ever let me learn to dance."

"P'r'aps your father'd let you learn," said Reginald.

"He wouldn't unless Aunt Matilda said I could."

"Why does folks have Aunt Matildas?" muttered Reginald.

Mollie Merton laughed. She had heard what he said, although he had spoken almost in a whisper.

They left the cottage, promising to study their parts very carefully, and as they walked down the avenue they repeated some of the pleasing lines which they remembered.

Suddenly Reginald spoke.

"I've got to go back; I've left my ball on my desk," he said.

"Don't go back," Katie said, "you won't want it to-night."

"P'raps I will, and anyway I'm going after it," said Reginald, stoutly; "you wait for me."

"Oh, we can't, Reginald," Katie said, "but you can overtake us if you hurry."

Reginald was already running toward the cottage, so he did not hear what Katie said. He pushed open the little gate and ran in, and up the steps on to the piazza.

"I left my ball on my desk," he said to Aunt Charlotte, who was standing in the hall.

"The schoolroom is open," she said with a smile, and Reginald rushed past her, and hurried to his desk. The ball was not on it, nor was it in the desk, as careful hunting proved.

"I left it right on top of my desk," he declared to Aunt Charlotte, who had followed, and now stood beside him.

"Are you quite sure of that?" she asked gently.

"Oh, yes, I know I left it there, and I came back on purpose to get it," he said, his blue eyes wide with surprise, "and now it is getting late to hunt for it, 'sides, I don't know where to hunt."

His lip quivered, and there was something very like tears in his eyes, although he blinked very hard to hide them.

"I will search for the ball, and keep it for you to-morrow morning," Aunt Charlotte said; "it may have dropped to the floor, and rolled away into some shadowy corner, or behind the draperies. It is almost twilight now, but the lamplight to-night or the bright daylight to-morrow will help me to find it for you."

Thus comforted, Reginald left the cottage, but although he ran nearly all the way home, he saw neither of his schoolmates. He had hunted so long for the coveted ball that they had reached their homes before he was even in sight.

"We can't wait for him," Katie had said, as she looked down the road to see if he were coming, and then they had become so interested in talking of their dialogue that they forgot all about him.

Usually Reginald called for his cousin Katie, but the next morning he was so eager to learn if his ball had been found, that he started early, intending to be the first at school, and hurried past Katie's house lest she might call to him to wait.

He had almost reached the cottage when he remembered that he had left both his spelling-book and reader at home.

It was really provoking, and for just a moment he paused, wondering if he might borrow books, or if indeed he ought to return for his own.

It was only a few days before that Aunt Charlotte had spoken of promptness at school, and at the same time said that only a careless pupil would be obliged to borrow.

He would not be the first to be thought careless; he would run back to the house, but he must hurry, or be late.

There was a field that he could cross, and thus save a little time, he thought, but when half-way across it he found that he was losing, instead of gaining time. The uneven ground and coarse grass were much harder to run over than the fine, hard surface of the avenue, and in his haste he stumbled along over sticks and rough places, reaching the house flushed and tired.

He found his books just where he had left them and hurried past the maid, who was surprised to see him.

"Why, Master Reginald, I thought I see yer go out to school some time ago," she said.

"I had to come back after my books," he replied, looking over his shoulder as he ran down the walk.

"I won't go across that little old field," he said in disgust. "It must have taken twice as long to go that way."

So he ran along the avenue, and soon neared the bend of the road where, between trees and shrubbery, he could see a bit of the cottage.

"I'll be the only one that's late," he thought, when at that moment he noticed some one farther along the avenue.

It was Arabella Corryville, but what was she doing?

He drew back, and stood behind a bush which overhung the sidewalk and partly hid him.

Arabella was looking over the low wall,-ah, now she was reaching down as if trying to get something that was hard to reach, or was she dropping something over?

She was reaching down as if to get something.

Reginald could not guess which she was doing, and he knew that if he asked her, she would not tell him.

Now Arabella was running; Reginald ran, too. He knew that he must be quite late, for none of the other pupils were in sight.

He was a swift runner, and he entered the door just as Arabella was about to close it.

"You're late, too," she whispered.

The little pupils were singing, and the two went softly to their seats.

After the singing, Aunt Charlotte questioned Reginald.

"I started early, but I forgot my books, and going back for them made me late. I ran 'most all the way; I meant to be here early."

"Being late for such a reason as that is excusable," said Aunt Charlotte.

"You, also, were late, Arabella."

"I had to help my Aunt Matilda," said Arabella, as glibly as if it had been true.

"Oh, oo! That's a fib!" whispered Reginald, but Arabella did not hear him.

Aunt Charlotte said nothing, but she thought it strange that Arabella's aunt should have detained her. Surely the maid could have given all necessary assistance, rather than force the little daughter of the house to be late at school.

Reginald had longed to peep over that wall, but he dared not linger. What had Arabella been doing? He determined to wait until he had a fine chance, and then he would look over that wall. He believed that she had hidden something there. He would not tell the other girls, for they might tell Arabella.

At recess time he asked Aunt Charlotte if she had found his ball.

No, the ball was not in the room.

"I think you must have been mistaken," she said, "the ball must be at your home."

"Truly I had it here," the boy insisted, "I left it on my desk."

"It must have gone to find my red book which had our dialogue in it, for that has disappeared, and hunt as I will, I cannot find it. You have your parts carefully copied, and can be learning them, but I need the book to prompt you."

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