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   Chapter 3 A SATURDAY AFTERNOON

A Dear Little Girl at School By Amy Ella Blanchard Characters: 14766

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


By Friday, Jennie, Dorothy and Edna had become quite intimate. Margaret was still kept at home by a bad cold, so these three little girls played at recess together joined by one or two others who had not been invited, or had not chosen, to belong to what the rest called "Clara Adams's set." There had been a most interesting talk with Agnes and Celia and a plan was proposed which was to be started on Saturday afternoon. Jennie had been invited to come, and was to go home with Dorothy after school to be sent for later.

Edna was full of the new scheme when she reached home on Friday, and she was no sooner in the house than she rushed up stairs to her mother. "Oh, mother," she cried, "I am so glad to see you, and I have so much to tell you."

"Then come right in and tell it," said her mother kissing her. "You don't look as if you had starved on bread and molasses."

Edna laughed. "Nor on rice. I hope you will never have rice on Saturdays, mother."

"Rice is a most wholesome and excellent dish," returned her mother. "See how the Chinese thrive on it. I am thinking it would be the very best thing I could give my family, for it is both nourishing and cheap. Suppose you go down and tell Maria to have a large dishful for supper instead of what I have ordered."

Edna knew her mother was teasing, so she cuddled up to her and asked: "What did you order, mother?"

"What should you say to waffles and chicken?"

"Oh, delicious!"

"But where is that great thing you were going to tell me?"

"Oh, I forgot. Well, when we got to school last Monday, there was Clara Adams and all the girls she could get together and they were whispering in a corner. They looked over at me and I knew they were talking about me, but I didn't care. Then I went over to Dorothy and we just stayed by ourselves all the time, for those other girls didn't seem to want to have anything to do with us. We hadn't done one single thing to make them act so, but Clara Adams is so hateful and jealous and all that, she couldn't bear to have us be liked by anybody. Dorothy told me she heard her say I was a pet and that was the reason I got along with my lessons. You know I study real hard, mother, and it isn't that at all. Clara said it was just because Uncle Justus favored me, and told Miss Ashurst too. Wasn't that mean?"

"I think it was rather mean, but you must not mind what a spoiled child like Clara says, as long as you know it isn't so."

"That's what Agnes says. We told Agnes and Celia how the girls were doing and how they had a secret and didn't want us to be in it, so Agnes said we could have a secret, too, and she has planned a beautiful one, she and Celia. I will tell you about it presently. Well, then Jennie Ramsey came."

"Jennie Ramsey? I don't think I ever heard you speak of her."

"No, of course you didn't, for I only just became acquainted with her. Mother, don't you remember the lovely Mrs. Ramsey that did so much about getting Margaret into the Home of the Friendless?"

"I remember, now."

"Well, she is Jennie's mother, and she told Jennie to be sure to speak to me, because she knows Aunt Elizabeth, I suppose, but anyhow, she did. But first the Clara Adams set tried to get Jennie to go with them, but she just wouldn't, and so she's on our side. I know Clara is furious because the Ramseys are richer than the Adamses."

"Oh dear, oh dear," Mrs. Conway interrupted, "this doesn't sound a bit like my little girl talking about one person being richer than another and about one little girl's being furious about another's making friends with whom she chooses."

Edna was silent for a moment. "Mother," she said presently, "it is all Clara Adams's doings. If she wouldn't speak to us nor let the other girls play with us, why, what could we do?"

"I really don't know, my darling, we'll talk of that directly. Go on with your story."

"Well, so Agnes found out they were getting up a club and didn't want us in it, so she said we could have a club, too, and we're going to begin this afternoon-no, to-morrow afternoon. Mrs. Ramsey let Jennie go home with Dorothy to stay till to-morrow and she is going to send the automobile for her. She comes to school in the automobile every morning. I wish we had one then we wouldn't have to stay in town all the week."

"Dear blessed child, I am afraid Clara Adams is turning your head."

"Clara? why she doesn't even speak to me."

"All the same you are beginning to care more for the things that are important to her than ever you did before. Never mind, we'll talk about that later. Is that all?"

"It's about all, for we haven't had the club meeting yet. Agnes says she will start it and be the president for a month. Celia is going to be the secretary and when we know just what to do and how to carry it on then they will resign and some of us younger girls will be the officers."

Mrs. Conway smiled to hear all this grown-up talk, but she looked a little serious a moment after.

Edna watched her face. "Don't you approve of it, mamma," she asked anxiously.

"Of the club? Oh, yes, if it is the right kind of one. I will ask Celia about it, but what I don't like is that you should start it in a spirit of trying to get the better of another girl, though I can see that it is the most natural thing in the world for you to feel as you do, and I can see that Clara has really brought it on herself, but I do want my dear little girls to be charitable and above the petty meanness that is actuating Clara."

"Then what do you think we ought to do?"

"I am not sure. I shall have to think it over. In the meantime by all means start your club. Where is Celia?"

"She went out with the boys to look at the new pigeons, but I wanted to see you first."

Edna enjoyed the prospect of chicken and waffles too much to long too ardently for the next day. She hadn't seen Cousin Ben yet so she went out to hunt him up, but discovering that he was hard at work over his studies she concluded not to disturb him but to go with the boys to hear them expatiate upon the qualities of the new pigeons, of the trade they had made with another boy and of various things which had been going on at their school.

Great preparations were made for the first meeting of the club. In the Evans house was a large attic, one corner of which Agnes and Celia turned into a club-room. The house was an old-fashioned one, and the attic window was small. There was, too, an odor of camphor and of soap, a quantity of the latter being stored up there, but these things did not in the least detract from the place in the eyes of the girls. What they wanted was mystery, a place which was out of the way, and one specially set aside for their meetings. A small table was dragged out of the recesses of the attic. It was rather wobbly, but a bit of wood was put under the faulty leg, and it did very well. One perfectly good chair was brought up for the president, the rest were content to be seated on whatever came handy, two chairs very much gone as to backs, one with the bottom entirely through, and a rickety camp stool made up the remainder of the furniture, but Agnes had taken care that there were flowers on the table and that pens, pencils and paper were supplied. She also brought up some books "to make it look more literary," she said, and the organizers of the club were de

lighted.

They came whispering and with suppressed giggles up the steep stairway, made their way between piles of trunks and boxes to where Agnes sat in state, a call-bell before her. Margaret, much bundled up, had been permitted to join them, so they were the respectable number of six.

That morning the president and secretary had been closeted for an hour with Mrs. Conway and whatever they had determined upon in the beginning which seemed in the least unworthy was smitten from the plan.

The girls disposed themselves upon the various seats, Celia taking a place at the end of the table provided for the officers. There was much stifling of laughter and suppressed whispers before Agnes tapped the bell and said in the most dignified manner, "The meeting is called to order." Then each girl smoothed down her frock and sat up very straight waiting to hear what should come next. "The real object of our club," Agnes began, "is to find ways of being kind to our schoolmates, but we are going to do other things to entertain ourselves, things like bringing new games into the club and any new book we find particularly interesting. If anyone can write a story she is to do that, and if anyone hears anything particularly interesting to tell she is to save it up for the meeting. It has been proposed by Mrs. Conway that we call the club the Kindly Club or the Golden Rule. Celia, we'd better take a vote on the name. You might hand around some slips of paper and let the members write their choice. There is one thing about it; if we call it the Golden Rule Club, we can always refer to it as the G. R., and that will be rather nice, I think. However, you all must vote as you think."

There were not quite enough pencils, but by judicious borrowing they made out and the slips were handed in and gravely counted by Celia. "There are four votes for Golden Rule, and two for Kindly," she announced.

"Then it is a majority for Golden Rule, so the name of the club is the Golden Rule Club, or the G. R., whichever you choose to say when you are speaking of it. Now, let me see, oh, yes. We are the charter members. We haven't any charter but we can have one, I reckon. I'll get one ready for next time. Now, we must have rules. I haven't thought them all out, but I have two or three. We begin with the Golden Rule: 'Do unto others as ye would they should do unto you'; Mrs. Conway said we might head the list with that, for there was nothing better. Of course we all forget sometimes, but we mustn't any more than we can help. If we see a chance to do a kindness to any of our schoolmates we must do it, no matter if we don't like her, and we must try not to get mad with any of the girls. We must be nice to the teachers, too. You see it is a school club and affects all in the school. We big girls mustn't be hateful to you younger ones and you mustn't be saucy to us."

"Oh, dear," sighed Edna, "it's going to be pretty hard, isn't it?"

"I don't believe it is going to be as much fun as the other girls' club," complained Dorothy.

"Oh, yes it is. You wait and see," said Agnes. "After a while everyone of them will be dying to come into ours."

"Oh, Agnes, I don't believe a bit of that," said Dorothy.

"Oh, but you see we are going to have very good times, you forget that part. The kind word part is only when we are having dealings with our schoolmates and all that. We don't have to do just that and nothing else. For example, I have the loveliest sort of story to read to you all just as soon as the business part of the meeting is over, and then we are to have refreshments."

"Oh, good!" there was emphatic endorsement of this.

"There ought to be fines, I suppose," Agnes went on. "Let me see, what shall we be fined for? I shall have to get some light upon that, too, but I think it would be a good plan that any girl who voluntarily stirs up a fuss with another at school must pay a fine of not less than one cent. What do you think of that, Celia?"

"I should think that might be a good plan though I expect we shall all turn Quakers if we continue the club."

Agnes laughed. "It does look that way. At all events we are to thank Clara Adams for it all. Her club is founded on unkindness and if we want to be a rival, Mrs. Conway says we must have ours founded on kindness."

"Do you know anything about her club?" asked Jennie.

"I know a little. I believe only girls who live in a certain neighborhood can belong to it. All others are to be turned down, and are to be left out of the plays at recess. It is something like that, I was told. However, we don't care anything about those poor little sillies. We shall enjoy ourselves much more. I think we'd better not attend to any business to-day or we shall not have time for anything else. Have you made the minutes, Celia?"

"Yes, I think I have, and if I haven't everything I can get you to tell me afterwards."

"I suppose we should vote for the officers," said Agnes, after a moment's thought.

"Oh, no, don't let's," said Edna, anxious for the story. "We all want you for president and Celia for secretary, don't we, girls?"

"All in favor of making Miss Agnes Evans president of the club will please rise," sang out Celia, and every girl arose to her feet. "That's unanimous enough," said Celia. "Now all in favor of my being secretary will please rise." Another unanimous vote followed this and so the matter was speedily settled.

Then Agnes produced a manuscript paper and read them the most delightful of stories which was received with great applause. Then she whispered something to Dorothy who nodded understandingly, retired to the back of the attic and returned with two plates, one of delicious little cakes and the other of caramels to which full justice was done.

"What about the places of meeting and the refreshments?" asked Celia. "It isn't fair for you always to furnish them and don't you think we should meet at different houses?"

"Perhaps so, only you see it would be hard for us to go into the city on Saturdays after coming out on Friday, and you see Jennie lives in town."

"Oh, but Mack can always bring me out in the motor car," said Jennie, "though of course I should love to have you all come in to my house and so would mamma like it."

"Well, we'll meet at your house, Celia, the next time," said Agnes, "and after that at Mrs. MacDonald's. We can, can't we, Margaret?"

"Oh, yes, I am sure she will be perfectly delighted. She is so pleased about the club, anyhow."

"Then in the meantime we can be making up our minds about your house, Jennie," said Agnes.

"I wish we had some little song or a sentence to close with," said Celia.

"We can have. We can do all those things later. I think we have done a great deal for one day, don't you all think so?"

"Oh, my, yes," was the hearty response. "It has been perfectly lovely."

"We might sing, 'Little Drops of Water,' for this time," proposed Edna, "as long as we haven't any special song yet."

"That will do nicely, especially that part about 'little deeds of kindness.' We're going to sing. All rise." And the meeting was closed, the members groping their way down the attic stairs which by now were quite dark. But the effect of the club was to be far-reaching as was afterward shown, though it was little suspected at the time of its formation.

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