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   Chapter 12 THE FLOWER PLAY

A Dear Little Girl at School By Amy Ella Blanchard Characters: 19369

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


As the time approached for the flower play to be given attention there was considerable anxiety on the part of those who had taken it in hand. Ben declared that while he could do the main part of the work all right, he must have help of the girls in certain directions. "I'm no good at all when it comes to dialogue," he told them. "I can do the mechanical part, get the thing into shape for the stage, give you the general plot and all that, but you'll have to do the dialogue."

"Oh, but Ben," said Agnes, "suppose we can't."

"Then it will have to fall through."

The girls looked very sober over this; they realized that Ben was giving them more than they had any right to expect, and they could not ask him to give his studies second place. "Well," said Agnes rather dolefully, "we'll have to do the best we can."

"Angels can do no more," returned Ben, "and since you are so near to that class of beings you ought to be able to do something pretty fine."

The compliment had the effect of bringing a smile to Agnes's face and so the matter rested for that day. However, it was a subject which could not be allowed to rest for very long as the time was fast approaching when the parts must be given out for the girls to study. "And there will have to be ever so many rehearsals," said Agnes woefully to Celia as they were talking it over together on the Conways' porch.

"We don't seem to make a bit of headway," said Celia. "What we have written sounds so silly and flat. I'm afraid it will never be the kind of thing we hoped for."

"Ben has a lovely little plot and all the ideas he has given us about the scenes and the dressing of the characters and the funny situations are mighty good," returned Agnes, "it does seem as if between us all we ought to be able to do the rest when we have eighteen regular members in the club and two honorary ones."

Edna who was sitting on the top step listening attentively to all this, looked up. "Why don't you ask Miss Eloise to help you? She would love to, and she tells such beautiful, beautiful stories, you know."

"That is a brilliant idea," returned Agnes, "but she says she can never write them, she can only tell them."

"But couldn't she tell what to say and one of you write it down?"

Agnes looked at Celia and Celia looked at Agnes. "She has struck it, I do believe," cried Celia.

"Edna, honey, you are a child worth knowing," said Agnes. "The idea of your thinking of such a simple way out of the trouble when the rest of us were fumbling around for ideas. Of course that can be done, and as you say, I have no doubt but that Miss Eloise will be perfectly delighted to do anything she can for the club. Where is Ben? Do hunt him up, Edna, that's a good child."

As Edna generally knew Ben's haunts she was not long in finding him. He was much interested in what she had to say, threw down the book he was studying and went with her to join the girls. He was really very anxious to please them all and would go to almost any lengths to do it.

"Ben," cried Agnes as he came up on the porch. "Isn't that a fine scheme that Edna has thought of?"

"I should smile, and I have thought of just the stunt to get it in shape the quickest. If one of you girls will go with me to present me to the lady, I can take down what she says in shorthand and knock it off on the type-writer afterward. Then we'll all get together, you two girls, Miss Eloise and yours truly, and we'll put the whole thing into shape in double-quick time. How does that strike you?"

"Ben, you have saved our lives. When can you go to see Miss Eloise? This afternoon? It is Saturday and you haven't anything on hand more important than foot-ball, have you?"

"Do not speak slightingly of my athletic sports, if you please. However, I can forego the delights of being mauled for one afternoon, I reckon, and am at your service, fair lady. When shall you want to start?"

"Oh, right after luncheon, I think; as early as possible so as to have a good long afternoon. I do hope Miss Eloise is feeling fairly well to-day."

"Miss Newman says she is better all the time nowadays, since she has so much more to interest her," piped up Edna. "She told me yesterday that she had not had one of those dreadful attacks for ever so long."

"Then let us hope for the best," answered Ben.

It was exactly as Edna had predicted; Miss Eloise entered into the plan with the greatest eagerness, and when Ben had opened up his plot to her and had showed her how he had planned the scenes she said she would take a few minutes to think it over and then she thought she could give him some of the needed dialogue, and before they left Ben had taken down as much as was necessary for this first time, promising to come back for the rest.

"I'll get this into shape and bring it with me," he told Miss Eloise.

"And we can make copies so as to give out that much for the girls to learn," said Agnes.

They returned in high spirits, and for some time Ben's type-writing machine was heard clicking away. The characters had already been talked over and the principle ones given out. Ben had chosen very pretty fantastic names for the various flowers who were to be represented. Jennie was to be Pussy Willow; Edna, Pinky Blooms; Dorothy, Daisy White; Agnes, Rose Wild; Celia, Violet Blue, while Ben, himself was to be the old giant, Pine Knot, who lived in a swamp. It had been found necessary to introduce some of the boys into the play so Charlie and Frank Conway, Steve and Roger Porter were pressed into service. Charlie was to be Sassy Fras; Frank, Winter Green; Steve, Cran Berry, while Roger was to be the giant's henchman, Pine Needles.

The play was not to be for a week after school closed that they all might have plenty of time for its preparation without interfering with their school work. There was never very much fuss made over the closing by Uncle Justus, so there was not that excitement. Mr. Horner did not believe in showy commencements, and when the girls were graduated they simply received their diplomas after a few simple exercises, and then the school was dismissed. Therefore, the play was the great subject of conversation among the scholars. The girls who were already in the club were triumphantly sounding its praises to those who were not, while those who were not in were clamoring for entrance. However, it had been decided that no more new members would be admitted until fall, as there was already enough heart-burning over the players and their parts. The giving out of these had been left entirely to Miss Eloise who had chosen as she thought best, so there was at least no one of the girls to accuse of partiality. Margaret in the very beginning announced that her mother did not want her to take part and that she did not care to herself, as she was to have the fun of entertaining them all at her house, and moreover, she "couldn't act any more than a broomstick."

Of all the girls who felt the most bitter probably Clara Adams was the one who was chief among them. It was the greatest grievance she had ever known, in the first place not to take part in such a thing and in the second not even to be invited to the entertainment. Each girl in the club was allowed to ask two persons, and each one taking part in the play was allowed the same privilege, therefore, with her two brothers among the characters and her sister as well, Edna was free to ask anyone she chose. Mr. and Mrs. Horner had received an invitation from the whole club, so had Miss Newman, and the other teachers, and many of the pupils who were outside the charmed circle were invited by their schoolmates who were free to give invitations, only Clara Adams was not considered for a moment by anyone, and she was very miserable over the fact. If ever she regretted her past disagreeable treatment of her school fellows, it was now, but she would not have admitted this even to herself, although in her heart of hearts she was conscious of it being so.

"I'm not coming back here to school next year," she announced to Edna one day. The two had little chats once in a while and, to do Clara justice, she did her best to be pleasant whenever Edna gave her the chance.

"Oh, aren't you? Why not?" asked Edna.

Clara was silent for a moment, then she said, quite honestly, "My father can't afford to send me to such an expensive school. I suppose I shall have to go to the public school." Then in a new accession of pride, "Anyhow, father likes the public school better."

"Oh," Edna could not truthfully say she was sorry, for the fact, though she was sorry for the girl. She told the other girls what Clara had said and the gist of most of the responses was "Good riddance to bad rubbish." So it did not look very favorable for an enthusiastic farewell to poor Clara in the way of attentions to a departing friend. If anyone thought of her at all it was Edna, and she was too busy with all her other interests to give much regret to Clara.

It was only when her mother asked her one day, "Has anyone invited Clara Adams to the great meeting of the club when you are to wind up the year with such a flourish?" that her conscience began to prick her.

"Nobody has asked her," she answered, "and she is dying to come. She isn't coming back to school next year, you know."

"Yes, I think you told me that. I feel very sorry for her. Of course, she is not at all the kind of child I should choose for a companion for my little girl, but I am very glad you have tried to be kind to her, though I cannot say I regret her leaving the school you attend."

Edna was silent for a moment and so was her mother who pre

sently asked: "Have you given out all your invitations, dear?"

"No, mother, I still have one."

"Whom did you send the other to?"

"Miss Martin. She and her father were so nice to me at the fair you know, but one of the other girls has invited Mr. Martin."

"I see. That was certainly a very good choice for you to make."

"I can't quite decide about the other one," Edna went on. "I want to give it to the one who wants it most, of the two girls at school who would love to have it."

"Is one of them Clara Adams?"

"Oh, mother, no. Nobody wants her." Then after a silence, "I suppose she wants to come badder than anyone else, but-mother, do you think, do you really think I ought to invite her?"

"Why, my dear, that is for you to decide."

"Oh, dear," Edna gave a long sigh. Never in her life had she been more put to it to make up her mind. "I don't want to one bit," she declared after a moment's thought. "All of the girls will be down on me and say I am a silly goose and all that."

"It is probably your very last chance of doing her a kindness as she will possibly not cross your path again," Mrs. Conway reminded her.

Edna drew a longer sigh than before. The situation was getting harder and harder. "Mother," she said with a woebegone face, "why do the rightest things always be the hardest ones?"

"I don't think they always are, dear child. Is this so very hard?"

"Oh, yes. I think it is the hardest thing I most ever had to do. Even last year when those things about Louis worried me so, I didn't mind so much, for I was really fond of Louis. He was my cousin and it seemed more as if I ought to."

"Well, dearie, suppose you think over it a while. You can keep back your invitation till the very last minute, you know, for if you do decide to let Clara have it, she will be glad to accept even at the eleventh hour, I am sure."

"Suppose she should say horrid mean things and stir up a fuss as she does so many times, I should feel so badly."

"I don't believe she would do that because she would be enjoying herself and would probably be on her best behavior. If you like, I will see that she sits next to me which would be quite right if she should be your guest, and it will not spoil my pleasure if she should make disagreeable remarks."

Edna went over and leaned her elbows on her mother's lap, looking up in her face and asking. "What would you say to yourself if she made disagreeable remarks?"

"I should say, 'Never mind; I am so happy that my own darling little girl made the sacrifice of asking her that nothing else matters much.'"

"And you wouldn't say anything to her?"

"I should, no doubt, say several things to her," replied Mrs. Conway kissing the eager face uplifted toward hers.

Edna went over to the window and stood there a long time, but she saw none of the things she looked out upon. She was having a sharp struggle. Clara and her mother against all the girls in the club, that was the way it seemed to be, but finally the former conquered and she went back to where her mother still sat. "Mother," she said firmly, "I am going to invite Clara. I have made up my mind. Will you please ask Agnes and Celia to take my part?"

"My blessed child, of course I will. What sort of a Golden Rule would it be that allowed a little girl to be chidden for carrying out its precepts. As president of your club, Agnes will surely see that you are acting upon its principles, and Celia, too, must see it. They must not let their enjoyment and their love of harmony make them forget that part."

Then Edna snuggled very close to her mother and felt comforted. "I am not going to keep her from knowing," she said. "I'll tell her first thing, so she can have the fun of looking forward to it." When Edna did a thing there was no doing it by halves.

Therefore it was a surprised and delighted Clara who received her invitation the next day, and to Edna's great satisfaction all the good in the girl rose to the occasion. "I think you are the very sweetest girl I ever knew, Edna Conway," she said, "and I am sorry, I really am, that I haven't always been friends with you. I was horrid, often I was," and this was Edna's compensation.

Such a flutter and flurry and whispering and giggling there was on that afternoon when everything was in readiness for the little flower play. There was quite a large audience gathered on the smooth green lawn where seats had been placed for them. The shrubs and flower beds with trees beyond made a fine background for the stretch of terrace, which became a stage for the occasion. Jennie in a fuzzy grayish brown frock with a hood, made a dear little Pussy Willow, Edna in pink with her rosy cheeks was the very picture of Pinky Blooms, Dorothy's golden head made a lovely centre for Daisy White, while as for Ben, the big giant, he was the roughest, toughest old Pine Knot one could imagine.

"If only Miss Eloise could be here to see us," said Edna as she peeped from behind the leafy screen which hid the flower fairies from view.

Dorothy was peeping, too, and presently she exclaimed, "She is here! Oh, Edna, she is here! See, they are bringing her now!" And sure enough, there in her wheeled chair was Miss Eloise, her lovely face all smiles as her sister and Mr. Ramsey pushed her chair along.

"I do believe Mrs. Ramsey brought her out," cried Edna.

"She did," Jennie told them, "I didn't tell, because I thought it would be such a nice surprise for everybody."

A surprise it was indeed, and because of her presence, or because it is generally so, they all did much better than at any of their rehearsals and received such applause as quite overpowered them. Then Mr. Ramsey raised a call for "Author! Author!" So after some little delay Ben, still in his giant's dress, was brought around and wheeled Miss Eloise out to the very front where she was given another round of applause and more flowers than she could hold. She quite forgot herself in her anxiety that Ben should receive what was due to him and all unmindful of the large audience, she cried out, "Oh, but I did so little; it is all Ben's plan!"

Then Ben was cheered, and in the midst of such very special demonstrations he beat a retreat.

Clara established by Mrs. Conway's side had not a word of anything but praise and delight, and after the little players came out to mix with their friends she sought out Edna. "It was the loveliest thing I ever saw," she told her, "and I do thank you for letting me come."

"She was really very decent," said the girls, looking after her as she started for home with her mother who called for her.

Edna watched her out of sight, a feeling of pity mingled with gladness in her heart. And so Clara Adams passed out of her life, for before another year the entire family had moved out west, and the places which saw Clara Adams saw her no more.

The stars were coming out before they all left Mrs. MacDonald's. The guests had taken their departure earlier and had been as complimentary as anyone could desire. Miss Eloise, tired but very happy, had gone off with the Ramseys in their motor-car. Edna, Dorothy and Margaret walked down to the gate to watch the sunset, all yellow and glowing.

"Miss Newman looked almost pretty," said Dorothy. "She had such a dear frock on and her hair is much nicer the way she wore it to-day. I shall feel so very different about having her for a teacher next year."

"So shall I," agreed Edna.

Moggins, Margaret's cat had sought them out and was rubbing up against his little mistress. "Oh, you poor dear, I don't believe anyone has thought to give you your milk," said Margaret. So she went off with the cat in her arms.

Then "Where are you, Dorothy?" cried her sister, and Dorothy scampered off that she might not be left behind on the homeward walk.

Edna walked slowly toward the house. Halfway up the walk she met Uncle Justus. "I was just coming for you to walk home with me," he told her. "Your aunt and I are going to stay all night."

"I'm glad of that," Edna replied slipping her hand into his.

They walked on toward the road, quite silent for a few moments, till Edna looking up, said, "Uncle Justus, I think you have a perfectly lovely school."

He smiled down at her.

"I have some perfectly lovely pupils," he answered with a smile.

THE END

* * *

TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE

The original language, punctuation and spelling have been retained, except where noted. A Table of Contents has been added at the beginning of the book.

The following changes were made to the original text (the original text is on the first line, the correction is on the following line):

Page 23: you, do you?'

changed into: you, do you?"

Page 27: to say. Wouldn't you like to know what

changed into: to say: Wouldn't you like to know what

Page 34: didn't stay but came over to us." She

changed into: didn't stay but came over to us. She

Page 55: the next time," said Agnes, and after

changed into: the next time," said Agnes, "and after

Page 108: right away," declared Nettie, for it takes

changed into: right away," declared Nettie, "for it takes

Page 117: "I'll wait," he said, and if you will

changed into: "I'll wait," he said, "and if you will

Page 161: make you an honorary member, Agnes said."

changed into: make you an honorary member," Agnes said.

Page 167: time this morning.

changed into: time this morning."

Page 231: Miss Newman says she is better all the

changed into: "Miss Newman says she is better all the

Page 242: precepts. As president, of your club,

changed into: precepts. As president of your club,

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