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   Chapter 11 A NEW MEMBER

A Dear Little Girl at School By Amy Ella Blanchard Characters: 17729

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


During this time Miss Newman had not won more than respect from her girls. She was an excellent teacher and kept good order, but she had too severe a manner to call forth affection. Nevertheless she did appreciate any little kindness done her, and was not unwilling to repay when the opportunity came. Dorothy and Edna had always stood up for her, and had brought her the small gifts which children like to take their teachers, a particularly large and rosy apple, a bunch of flowers, a more important present at Christmas and a growing plant at Easter. They did not know much about her home life, for she was not the affable person Miss Ashurst had been. Uncle Justus had told Edna that she lived with an invalid sister in quite a different quarter of the city, and that she had a long way to come to school.

One spring afternoon as Celia and Edna were starting forth, a sudden shower overtook them. They were going home every day now as they had done in the early fall, and were hurrying for their train when they saw Miss Newman just ahead of them without an umbrella. "There's Miss Newman," said Edna to her sister, "and she has no umbrella; I'm going to give her mine and come under yours, Celia," then before Celia could say a word she ran on ahead. "Please take my umbrella, Miss Newman," she said. "I can go under Celia's."

"But you may need it before Monday," said Miss Newman.

"Oh, no, I won't, for I am going straight home. We are to have a club meeting at the Evanses this afternoon, or I should not be in such a hurry."

"And I am in a hurry, too," said Miss Newman, "for I am very anxious to get home to my sister. Thank you very much for the umbrella. I should have had to go in somewhere, it is pouring so, and that would have delayed me."

By this time Celia came up and Edna slipped under her sister's umbrella. They took their car at the next corner, but they saw Miss Newman standing on the other side waiting for the car which should come along somewhat later. "Poor thing," said Edna as she looked from the car window; "she would have been soaked, Celia, if she had had to stand there without an umbrella, and she has a cold now."

Celia smiled. "I believe you would love a chimpanzee, or a snake, Edna."

"I think little green snakes are very pretty," returned Edna calmly. "Cousin Ben likes them, too. He showed me one in the grass last Sunday. I felt sorry for it because nearly everybody hates snakes, and Cousin Ben said this one was perfectly harmless."

"I draw the line at snakes," returned Celia. "I suppose you feel sorry for Miss Newman."

"Yes, I do; she is so unpretty."

Celia laughed. "That is a delicate way of putting it, I am sure. Well, I am glad she has one friend; no doubt she needs it. Most of the girls aren't so ready to say nice things of her as they were of Miss Ashurst."

"I know it," replied Edna, "and that is one reason Dorothy and I stand up for her. We say suppose we were as-as ugly as that, and had to go a long, long way to school every day to teach horrid girls who didn't be nice to us, how would we like it?"

"She looks like a cross old thing," returned Celia rather flippantly.

"She isn't exactly cross, but she isn't the kind you can lean up against and say 'what a pretty tie you have on,' as we did with Miss Ashurst. Celia, I am afraid Miss Newman never will get married."

Celia laughed. "Perhaps she doesn't want to. Everyone doesn't, you know."

This was rather beyond Edna's comprehension, and she sat pondering over the extraordinary statement till the car reached the station. She arrived early in the school-room on Monday morning to find Miss Newman already there. She looked up with a smile as the little girl entered. "I brought back your umbrella," she said. "I don't know what I should have done without it. I left my sister rather worse than usual and I wanted very much to get home as soon as possible."

"Is your sister ill?" asked Edna

"She is never very well. When she was a little girl, younger than you, she fell and hurt her spine. She has never been well since, and at times suffers very much."

"How was she this morning?" asked Edna sympathetically.

"She was much better. I left her sitting on the porch in the sun. She can walk only a few steps, you see, and sometimes has to be lifted from place to place."

"Who lifts her?" Edna was much interested at this peep into Miss Newman's life.

"I do when I am there, for I know just how to do it without hurting her."

"Will she sit there all day where you left her?"

"Oh, no, for she has a wheeling chair and the old woman who lives with us can wheel her in when she is ready to go."

"Tell me some more." Edna leaned her elbows on the table and looked at her teacher with a wistful look. She did feel so very sorry for this poor sister who could not walk.

"She is a very cheerful, bright person," Miss Newman went on, "and everyone loves her. She is very fond of children and is continually doing something for those in the neighborhood. It is far from being a wealthy street, and back of us there are many very poor people. At Christmas we had a tree for the ones who couldn't have one at home, and my sister made nearly everything on it, such pretty things they were, too. There was a present for each child."

"I think that was perfectly lovely," said Edna. This was the kind of thing that appealed to her. "What is your sister's name?"

"Her name is Eloise."

"I think that is a beautiful name. I should like very much to see her."

"She would like very much to see you, for she knows every one of my class, and asks about each one when I go home. You see she cannot go out into the world where I go, I have to take what I can of it to her." It was evident that this was the subject which was nearest to the teacher's heart, and that when talking of it she showed the gentlest side of her nature. "How would you like to go home with me this afternoon to see her, you and Dorothy Evans?"

"I would love to go, but are you sure she would like to have us come?"

"I don't know of anything that would please her more. She has never seen one of my pupils and has often longed to, for as I told you she has to see the world through my eyes, and anything that interests me interests her."

"I'll tell Dorothy as soon as she comes and I will ask Celia if I may go. Thank you, Miss Newman for inviting us." Then a number of girls came in and school was called to order before Edna had a chance to speak to her sister.

At recess, however, the matter was talked over, both Agnes and Celia listening attentively. "I don't think they ought to go home with Miss Newman," decided Agnes, "for she probably has dinner as soon as she gets home and it would make extra trouble. If they could go later it might be all right. I'd better go and talk to Miss Newman myself, then we can tell better what can be done." She went off and soon came back to say that she had arranged to go with the little girls later in the afternoon. "We can take a car from there which will connect with our line and in that way we shall not have to come all the way back into the city."

But a better arrangement than that was made, for when Margaret and Jennie heard of the affair they were so eager to be included in the party, that Miss Newman noticing their wistfulness, asked if they, too, would come. "There is nothing my sister likes better than to have a company of children around her to whom she can tell some tale. She is a great one for that, and often has as many as a dozen children on the porch," she told them.

"Then, I will tell you what we can do," said Jennie. "I know mother will say we may all go in the motor-car, and I can take you girls home just as well as not. I will call mother up now and tell her all about it." So in a few minutes the whole matter was arranged by telephone. The three little girls, Edna, Dorothy and Margaret were to go home with Jennie to luncheon and then they would make the start from there.

"That is just like the Ramseys," said Agnes, "they always come forward at just the right moment and do the thing that makes it pleasantest all around. Now we can go home at the usual time, Celia feeling perfectly safe about the girls."

Therefore about three o'clock on this bright afternoon in May they set forth in the automobile which was to take them to Miss Newman's and call for them later. Through a very unfamiliar part of the city they went till they came to a short street with a row of small houses on each side. Each house had a garden in front and a porch. In the very last one which had more ground around it than the rest, Miss Newman lived. The porch was covered with vines and in the garden there was a perfect wealth of flowers. A bird-cage in which a canary was singing, hung near the window. One end of the porch w

as screened by a bamboo shade. It was a very pretty nesty little place. Huddled down in a chair, with her head supported by pillows was Miss Eloise who smiled up at the girls as Miss Newman brought them forward one after another. Miss Eloise had a much more lovely face than her sister. Her eyes were beautiful, she had quantities of wavy dark hair, a sweet mouth and a delicate nose. The hand she held out was so small and fragile that when Edna clasped it in her plump fingers it seemed almost as if she were holding the claws of some bird.

"So this is Edna," she said. "She looks just as I thought she did. Dorothy I know her by her hair, and Margaret because she is the tallest of them, so of course the one left must be Jennie. I am so pleased to see you all. Sister, will you wheel me just a little further back so there will be more room for us all?"

Miss Newman was quick to spring to her sister's side, wheeling the chair at just the right angle, settling the pillows, and then passing her hand caressingly over Miss Eloise's dark locks. The girls could not imagine her so tender.

"I hope you are feeling well to-day," began Edna to start the conversation.

"Who wouldn't feel well in such glorious weather. It is such a beautiful world, and has so many interesting things in it. How is your sister, Edna?"

"She is very well," replied Edna, surprised that Miss Eloise should know she had a sister.

"And yours, Dorothy? I hear she is such a sweet, pretty girl."

Dorothy likewise surprised, made answer that Agnes was very well and would have come with them but that the four of them came in the Ramseys' motor-car.

"And wasn't it fun to see it come whirling up?" said Miss Eloise. "It was the very first time a motor-car ever came to our door, and I was excited over it. I think it was very sweet of Mrs. Ramsey to give me this pleasure, and, Margaret I cannot tell you how I enjoyed the flowers you used to bring to sister in the winter. Your mother must have the loveliest greenhouse. I never saw such fine big stalks of mignonette. We shall have mignonette a little later, for our flowers are coming on finely. As for the books you all gave sister at Christmas they have been a perfect feast. I am so glad to have you here and to be able to thank you for all the things you have done to make the long winter go more quickly for me."

The girls looked at one another. If they had known what their little gifts were to mean, how many times they could have added to them. They had not a word to say for they had not understood how a little ripple of kindness may widen till it touches an unknown shore.

"Now tell me about your club," Miss Eloise went on. "I should so like to hear what you did at the last meeting. Sister tells me all she can, but she doesn't have a chance to learn as much as I should like. I am so greedy, you see. I am like a child who says when you tell it a story, and think you have finished, 'Tell on.' I am always crying 'Tell on.' It is the most beautiful club I ever heard of and I am sorry I am not a little girl at your school so I could belong to it and enjoy the good times with you."

"But, darling, you have your own little club," said her sister, "and you are always thinking of what you can do for others."

"Oh, I know, but I live in such a tiny little world, and my 'little drops of water, little grains of sand' are such wee things."

"They mean a great deal more than you imagine," said her sister gently. "I am sure I could never live without them."

"Oh, that is because you make so much of me and what I do. She is a great sister," she said nodding to the girls. "She is a regular Atlas because she has to bring her world home on her back every day to me. Yes, indeed. Perhaps you don't think I am aware of all that goes on in that school-room. Why I even know when one of you misses a lesson, and if you will let me tell you a secret, I actually cried the day Clara Adams did the caricature."

"Oh, dear, oh, dear," Edna could not help sighing aloud while the other girls looked as much ashamed as if they had done the thing themselves. However, when Miss Eloise saw this she broke into a laugh and began to tell them of some very funny thing she had seen from the porch that morning, then followed one funny tale after another till the girls were all laughing till the tears ran down their cheeks. Miss Eloise had the drollest way of telling things, and the merriest laugh herself. After a while Miss Newman went inside and presently came out with a tray on which were glasses of lemonade and a plate of small cakes. These were passed around, and much enjoyed.

"Now tell them one of your stories," said Miss Newman to her sister.

"Shall I make up a new one or shall I tell them one of the old ones?"

"Tell them the one the Maginnis children like so much."

The children settled themselves in pleased anticipation, and a marvelous tale they listened to. Miss Eloise had a wonderful gift of story-telling and made every incident seem real and every character to stand out as vividly as if he or she were actually before them. The children listened in wrapt attention. She was a wonder to them.

The tale was scarcely over when up came the motor-car with Mrs. Ramsey in it. She stepped out and came in the gate and up to the porch. "I wanted to come, too, Miss Newman," she said. "I hope you don't mind."

"Oh, mother," cried Jennie, "you are just too late to hear the most beautiful story ever was."

"Now isn't that too bad?" said Mrs. Ramsey. "I feel guilty to interrupt this pleasant party, but I am afraid I shall have to take these girls home for it is getting late."

However, she did not hurry them and there was time for her to have a little talk with both Miss Newman and Miss Eloise. Just as she was about to take her leave she asked, "Do you think you would be able to take a little ride in the motor-car, Miss Eloise, if I were to come for you some day?"

"Oh, sister, could I?" Miss Eloise turned to Miss Newman, her eyes like stars. "I haven't been off this street for years," she said to Mrs. Ramsey.

"We would be very careful," said Mrs. Ramsey, seeing that Miss Newman looked doubtful. "The man could wheel the chair out to the car and could lift her in. It runs very smoothly and we would not go too fast nor on any of the streets which are not asphalt."

"Oh, sister!" Miss Eloise looked as pleadingly as any child.

"I have never wheeled her further than the corner," said Miss Newman, "for fear of the jolting when we had to go over the curb, but some day when she is feeling her best-"

"You will let me know-" put in Mrs. Ramsey eagerly. "Of course you will go, too, Miss Newman, and as soon as you think she has gone far enough we can come back. You know it is quite smooth and the riding easy going even as far as Brookside."

"Why that is our station," spoke up Edna.

Mrs. Ramsey nodded and smiled, and they said their good-bys leaving Miss Eloise feeling as if a new world were to open to her.

Of course Mrs. Ramsey listened to a full account of all that had gone on during the afternoon, and was deeply interested in the two sisters. "I just love Miss Newman," declared Dorothy. "She is the sweetest thing to her sister."

"They just adore one another," Jennie told her mother. "Miss Newman seems like some one else when I think of her now. I am so glad we went."

"So am I," replied her mother.

"And Miss Eloise knows all about our club and is so interested in it," Edna remarked. "Girls, we must always tell Miss Newman about the meetings after this so she can tell Miss Eloise all that goes on."

"Of course we must," they agreed.

"I know something better than that you could do," Mrs. Ramsey told them. "Why not make Miss Eloise an honorary member as you did Nettie Black? I think you could stretch your rule far enough not to make it out of the way to have one grown up person, when it is such a character as Miss Eloise. She could be the exception who will prove the rule."

"But, Mrs. Ramsey, she couldn't come to the meetings." Dorothy reminded her.

"No, but you could take turns in going to her; I mean you could appoint a committee of two to go to her each week and tell her about the previous meeting, then once in a while when she felt able, you could meet at her house."

"What a perfectly fine plan," cried Edna. "Will you tell Agnes and Celia about it, Mrs. Ramsey?"

"Why certainly, if you like."

"Now? This afternoon when you take us to our houses, Dorothy and me?"

"I don't see any objection."

The upshot of this was that Miss Eloise was admitted to the club to her intense delight. After Agnes and Celia had been to see her they were so enthusiastic that all the girls in the club by twos and threes paid her visits, and she came to know them every one.

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