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   Chapter 10 A DOWNFALL OF PRIDE

A Dear Little Girl at School By Amy Ella Blanchard Characters: 13994

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


"Oh, Edna, Edna!" Nettie jumped up and down and fairly hugged her friend in her joy.

"Why, why," Edna began, but Nettie interrupted her with "I have it! I have it!"

"Have what?" Edna was still mystified.

"The prize! The prize! I won it. The money came in the mail this morning."

Edna had not counted on this possibility and it was as much of a surprise to her as it had been to Nettie. "Oh! Oh! Oh!" she cried, and she, too, began to dance up and down hugging Nettie as fervently as Nettie had hugged her. "Have you told your mother?"

"Oh, yes, I couldn't possibly keep it."

"Do show me what they said." So Nettie took her in and showed her the precious letter with the enclosed order for a dollar, which made it seem a very real thing.

"Ben will be so pleased," said Edna with satisfaction. "It is really owing to him that it got there soon enough."

"And to you for helping me and for telling me in the first place. I think I ought to divide with you."

"Why, Nettie Black, you won't do any such thing. Don't you know that it was all on your account that we did it in the first place?"

"Ye-es, but after your doing so much it doesn't seem fair for you to have none of it."

"I'll have some of the refreshments, won't I?"

Nettie laughed. "I hope so."

"Have you decided what you will have?"

"Not exactly. I thought I would wait till you came to talk it over with mother. You said something about gingerbread and my mother can make the nicest you ever saw."

"Would she make some for you? I wonder if it would cost very much. None of the girls have had gingerbread, and I am sure it would be liked."

"Then let's go see what mother says."

Mrs. Black was in the kitchen making bread for her Saturday baking. She smiled on the two children's eager faces which showed that something of unusual interest was going on. "Mother," began Nettie, "you know I am to have the club meeting after a while, and it is to be at the general club-room at Miss Agnes Evans's house, and you know we always have refreshments," Nettie spoke as if she had already attended every meeting, when that of the afternoon before had been her very first.

"Yes, I remember you told me, dear," said her mother.

"And I told you that was why we tried for the puzzle prize, so that I could pay for my refreshments. Does gingerbread cost very much?"

"No, my dear, it costs less than any other kind of cake."

"But how much? I mean how much would it cost to make enough for-for fourteen girls?"

"Why, not a great deal. I could bake them in the little scalloped pans so they would be more crusty. I don't believe it would cost more than twenty-five cents, for you know we have our own eggs."

"Good! Then what else could I have? We can't have more than three things."

"Let me think for a minute and I will perhaps be able to suggest something." She went on kneading her bread while the children watched her. Presently she said: "I have a bottle of raspberry shrub that your Aunt Henrietta gave me and which we have never used. Would you like to have that? I can recommend it as a very nice drink, and I should be very glad to donate it."

"Would it be nice?" Nettie looked at Edna for endorsement.

"I think it would be perfectly delicious," she decided, "and nobody has had anything like that. We have had ginger ale and lemonade, and chocolate and such things."

"Then, mother, that will be very nice, thank you," said Nettie, as if Edna were at the other end of a telephone wire. "Now for number three. I shall have ever so much to spend on that, so I could have most anything."

"What have the other girls had?" Mrs. Black asked Edna.

"Oh, different things. Some have had sandwiches and chocolate and some kind of candy, and some have had ice cream and cake and candy; some have had-let me see-cake and lemonade and fruit, but the third thing is generally some kind of candy."

"Do you remember what Uncle David sent us last week?" Mrs. Black asked Nettie.

"The maple sugar? Oh, yes, but would it be nice to have just little chunks of maple sugar?"

"No, but don't you know what delicious creamy candies we made by boiling and stirring it? Why not do some of it that way? It would be a little out of the usual run, and quite unlike what is bought at the shops."

"What do you think, Edna?" Nettie again appealed to her friend.

"I think it would be fine. Oh, Nettie you will have things that aren't a bit like anyone else has had and they will all be so good. I am sure the girls will say so."

Nettie beamed. This was such a pleasant thing to hear. "But I haven't spent but twenty-five cents of my prize money," she said.

"Are you so very sorry for that?" her mother asked.

"No, but-Is it all mine, mother, to do what I choose with, even if I don't spend it for the club?"

"Why, of course, my dear. You earned it, and if I am able to help you out a little that should make no difference."

"Then I think I know what I should like to do with it. I shall make two secrets of it and one I shall tell you, mother, and the other I can tell Edna."

"Tell me mine now," said Edna getting down from the chair.

Nettie took her off into the next room where there was much whispering for the next few minutes. "I shall get something for mother," Nettie explained. "I don't know exactly what but I will find out what she needs the most."

"I think that is a perfectly lovely plan," agreed Edna. "Now I must go back and tell Ben, for he will want to know. You come up this afternoon, Nettie, won't you?"

Nettie promised, and after Edna had gone she said to her mother, "Mother, I think I will spend part of my money on a birthday gift for Edna. It was all her doings about the puzzle and I would like to have her have something I could buy with the money. Will you help me?"

"Indeed I will, my dear, and I think that is an excellent plan."

So Nettie had her two secrets and in time both gifts were given.

Her meeting was an interesting one. The girls always liked the old attic and it was seldom that a meeting there did not turn out to be one which was thoroughly enjoyed. The refreshments received even more praise than Edna had predicted, for not a crumb of gingerbread, not a single maple-sugar cream, nor a drop of raspberry shrub was left, and the honorary member went home in an exalted frame of mind.

On the very evening of this meeting, while Edna was looking over her favorite page of her father's paper, she heard him say to his wife. "Humph. That was a bad failure of Green and Adams to-day. Adams was a pretty high-flyer, and a good many of the men on the 'Change have been prophesying this crash."

"What Adams is that?" asked Mrs. Conway.

"Oliver Adams. He lives on the square, you know, in that large white house with the lions in front."

Edna pricked up her ears. "Is it Clara Adams's father?" she asked.

"Does she live on the square?" asked her mother.

"Yes, in a big white house with lions

in front just like father said."

"Then, of course, it is the same."

"What has happened to him, mother?"

"He has lost a great deal of money, dear?"

"Oh, poor Clara."

"I'm afraid she will be poor Clara sure enough," returned her father. "He can't keep up that way of living very long. His wife is as extravagant as he is, and I doubt if there is much left out of the estate."

Edna wondered if Clara would have to live in a tiny, little house like Nettie's and if she would be very unhappy. Would she leave school, and-There were so many wonderings that she asked her mother a great many questions, and went off on Monday morning feeling quite ready to give Clara all the sympathy she needed.

But Clara was not at school on Monday, but on the next day she appeared. The news of her father's failure was common talk so that every girl in school had heard of it, and wondered if it would have any effect on Clara. For a time it did not, but in a short time it was whispered about that the Adamses had removed to another street and into a much smaller house. Clara no longer came to school in the automobile, and those girls who had clung to her on account of the powers of riches now openly deserted, declared that she had left their neighborhood and in consequence could no longer belong to their club. Then in a little while it was announced that the club had disbanded, and the remaining members came in a body and begged that they might be taken into the G. R.'s. There was much discussion. Some were for, some were against it, but finally the rule of the club was acted upon and the five new members took their places, leaving Clara in lonely grandeur. She treated this desertion with such open scorn and was so very unpleasant to those who had formerly been her friends, that they turned their backs upon her utterly, declaring that they would rather pay a fine every day in the week than be nice to Clara Adams.

"Hateful thing!" Edna heard Nellie Haskell say one day quite loud enough for Clara to hear. "She's kept us out of a lot of fun and we were geese to keep in with her so long. I'm sorry I ever had anything to do with her. I think she is the most disagreeable girl that ever was."

Edna looked over at Clara who was sitting very still by herself on a bench in one corner of the playground. She looked after the three girls who had just passed and were now walking down the path with their arms around one another. So had she seen them with Clara not so very long before. She thought she would go over and say something to her old enemy, but what to say-She had no good excuse. Then she remembered an exceedingly pretty paper-doll which had been sent her by her Cousin Louis Morrison. His aunt had painted it and it was much handsomer than one ordinarily saw. Edna had it in the book she carried. She drew in her breath quickly, then started over to Clara's corner.

"Don't you want to see my paper-doll?" she asked. "It is such a beauty." And without waiting for an answer she opened her book and held out the doll for Clara to see. It was given rather a grudging glance, but it was really too pretty not to be admired and Clara replied with a show of indifference, "It is quite pretty, isn't it?"

Edna sat down by her. "I will show you some of her dresses," she went on. Clara loved paper-dolls, and she could not but be a little interested. Anything which was painted or drawn was of more interest to her than most things. She had shown her talent in that way by the fatal caricature.

"Somebody told me you could make mighty pretty paper-dolls," Edna went on, bound to make herself agreeable.

"I do make them sometimes," replied Clara a little more graciously, "but I could never make any as pretty as this. I can copy things pretty well, but I can't make them up myself."

For a moment Edna struggled with herself. The doll was a new and very precious possession, but-She hesitated only a moment and then she said: "Would you like to copy this? I will lend it to you if you would like to."

There was a time when Clara might have spurned even this kind offer, setting it down as "trying to get in" with her, but her pride and vanity had received a blow when the Neighborhood Club was broken up and she cast forth, and she took the offer in the spirit in which it was meant. "Oh, would you do that?" she said. "I should love to copy it and I will take awfully good care of the doll."

"You can take it now," said Edna laying the doll on the other's lap. There should be no chance for her to change her mind. Clara slipped the doll into one of her books and just then the bell rang, so they went in together.

After school Dorothy clutched her chum. "Edna Conway," she cried, "did I see you talking to Clara Adams?"

"Um-huh," returned Edna.

"Well, you are the greatest one. I should think after all she has done that you would want to keep as far away from her as possible."

"Well," said Edna. "I said I was going to be nice to her if ever I had the chance and I had the chance."

"If you are going with her, I can tell you that all the girls will turn their backs on you."

"I didn't say I was going with her all the time, but I don't see why I can't speak to her if I want to."

"Oh, I suppose you can speak, but I shouldn't do much more than that."

Edna made no reply. She had her own ideas of what she meant to do.

"Where is your paper-doll?" asked Dorothy, "I want to show it to Agnes."

"I haven't it with me," returned Edna a little confusedly.

"You had it when we went down to recess. Is it in your desk? Go on and get it, that is a dear. Agnes wants to see it."

"It isn't in my desk. I haven't it," returned Edna bluntly.

"You don't mean to say you have given it away? Edna Conway, you can't have given it to Clara Adams!" Dorothy's voice expressed horror and dismay.

"No, I haven't given it to her; I only lent it to her," replied Edna.

"Well, of all things!" Dorothy was stricken dumb for a moment. Then she put her arms around her friend and hugged her. "You are an angel," she said. "I couldn't have done such a thing to save me, and I don't believe there is another girl in the school who could. I'm going to tell Agnes."

"Oh, please don't," begged Edna.

But Dorothy was off and presently Agnes came over to where the two had been standing. "What did you lend Clara your doll for, Edna?" she asked.

"Because I didn't want to pay a fine," replied she.

Agnes laughed. "That is one way out of it. I suppose the next thing we know you will be proposing that we ask Clara Adams into our club. Half the girls will leave if you do, I can promise you that."

This was something very like a threat, and it had the effect Agnes meant it should, though it did not prevent Edna from making plans of her own concerning Clara. She smiled at her as she took her seat in class the next morning, and for the very first time in all her life she received from Clara a smile in return.

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