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   Chapter 22 HELEN'S TEXT.

Cricket at the Seashore By Elizabeth Weston Timlow Characters: 10465

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


"Oh, dear me!" sighed Eunice, dolefully, the next morning at breakfast. "What dreadful changes there are going to be! Hilda goes to-day, the boys leave on Monday for their camp, and Edna goes on Tuesday to her grandmother's. Cricket and I will be left all forlorn."

"Yes," added Cricket, pulling a long face, "and on Tuesday morning Eunice and I will be wearing the garbage of woe."

"Whatever you rig yourself up in, Miss Scricket," said Archie, amid the general laughter, "don't deck yourself out in garbage. You'd be a public nuisance. Flowing 'robes of porcelain,' like the heroine of one of your stories, would be better."

"You needn't tease me about that, for you know as well as anything that I meant percaline."

But Auntie Jean and grandma had to enjoy this alone, for the boys were not equal to the fine distinctions of girl's apparel.

As Eunice said, there was a decided scattering of their little party. Hilda left Saturday afternoon, the boys departed on Monday, for their camp in the Maine woods, with a party of friends, and on Tuesday Edna had to go for her usual fortnight's visit to her grandmother Somers, who always spent July and August at Lake Clear. She was a very old lady, much older than Grandma Maxwell, and a good deal of an invalid. Edna much preferred staying with her cousins, but Grandmother Somers was very devoted to her only little granddaughter, and this was the particular time when she wanted her. Edna had never been there without her mother before, and really dreaded it. She had urged taking her cousins with her, but Auntie Jean knew this would be altogether too much responsibility for so old a lady to have, since she herself could not leave Marbury.

"I hate to go like poison," sighed Edna to Eunice, as they strolled up and down the station platform, while waiting for the train. "I wish I could stay here. I wish grandma wasn't so fond of me. I wish you could come, too. I wish the two weeks were over. I wish-"

"Toot-to-toot!" whistled the approaching train.

"Horrid old thing! I wish it would run off the track! Wish Mrs. Abbott would forget to start this morning. She isn't here yet. Do you suppose she's forgotten?" with sudden hopefulness.

Mrs. Abbott was a lady under whose care she was going.

"No such good luck!" murmured Eunice. "There she is now. Write to me every day, Edna."

"And you'll have time to write some lovely stories for the 'Echo,'" chirped Cricket, encouragingly.

"Yes, I will, and be glad too. It will be something to do. Think of my saying I'd be glad to write stories! Yes, mamma-good-by, everybody," and with hugs and kisses all around, Edna was put on the train and was off.

The children were both very quiet on their return ride from the station, and Auntie Jean began to fear that they might be homesick, with all their playmates gone. But when they reached home again Cricket drew Eunice into a quiet corner, and surprised her by flinging her arms around her neck, with a gigantic hug.

"I do love Hilda and Edna," she said, "but there's nobody like my old Eunice, and I'm so glad to have you all to myself for a little while again. I don't want to be selfish, and poor Edna hasn't any sister, but-"

"Why, you poor little thing!" said Eunice, hugging her small sister, heartily. "I expect I've been very selfish. I've never thought that, perhaps, you were being lonely when I was so much with Edna. You always seemed so happy."

"Oh, I am happy!" answered Cricket, surprised. "I always am, I guess. But I do love to be with you, all by your lonesome, and now let's have some real old Kayuna times. Come down on the beach, and let's talk about it," with another squeeze. And then, with their arms about each other's waists, they ran down the yard.

On the small sloping beach behind the big rocks, Zaidee and Helen and Kenneth were playing by themselves. Helen and Kenneth were sitting up very straight and stiff, with their little legs out straight in front of them, and their small hands folded in their laps. They were listening with intent faces, and round, wide-open eyes, to Zaidee, who, with small forefinger uplifted, was telling them something, with a very serious face. The girls crept softly near to see what they were doing.

"And these naughty chil'en," went on Zaidee, "came out of the city, and they made lots of fun of Lishers, and they ran after him, an' kept calling him names, an' saying, 'Go up, ole bullhead! go up, ole bullhead!' An' Lishers got very angry-as angry as Luke did the other day, when I asked him if he liked to have such mixed-up eyes," (poor Luke was very cross-eyed, and very sensitive about it), "and he said, 'There's some gre-at big bears in these woods, 'n' I'll call 'em to come and eat you chil'en up, if you doesn't stop calling names. Only bad little chil'en, 'thout any one to tell 'em any better, calls names.' But they didn't one of 'em stop, an' Lishers just whistled, an' forty-two bears came trotting right out of the woods, an' eated-up-every-one-of-those-bad-chil'en, quicker'n scat. 'Liza said so, herself. So, Helen and Kenneth, you mustn't ever call any one any names, an' specially you mustn't call 'em 'bullheads,' cause bears will come out of the

woods an' eat you all up, and it's very unpolite, too."

Helen looked awed, and Kenneth unbelieving.

"Ain't any bears," he said, stoutly.

"You mustn't inkerrupt the Sunday school," said Zaidee, severely. "Any way, there are crocky-dolls, if there ain't any bears. I saw a funny, long thing come out of the water the other day, and 'Liza said she guessed it was a crocky-doll."

"Tould it eat me up?" demanded Kenneth, hastily.

"I don't think it could eat you all up at once," said Zaidee, cautiously; "but it might take bites out of you."

"What are you doing, children?" said Eunice, coming forward, and throwing herself on the sand beside them, and pulling Helen, her special pet, down into her arms.

"Playing Sunday school, Eunice," said Zaidee, sitting down, herself. "We're going to have a Sunday school every Tuesday afternoon, just the same as you have the Echo Club, you know. Helen's going to make up the texts. She makes up beautiful texts, just like the Bible."

"Why, Zaidee!" remonstrated Eunice, looking shocked. "You mustn't say that anything is as nice as the Bible. What was it, pettikins?"

But Helen was shy, and needed much coaxing before she could be persuaded to give her "text," which was a very practical one.

"She who doth not what she is told, gets worse."

"Bravo!" cried Eunice, laughing. "That is a fine text."

"She made it up all her own self," said Zaidee, quite as proud of her twin's performance as if it had been her own.

"I don't want to play Sunday school any more, Zaidee," said Kenneth, getting up. "I'd ravver play turch. I'm ze talking man, wiv white skirts on," he added, standing on a stone, and waving his short arms about, for the young man had made his first appearance at church the Sunday before, and had wanted to play "turch" ever since.

"You were a naughty boy," said Zaidee, reproachfully, "you talked out loud right in meetin'-church, and I was so 'shamed."

"And you falled off the stool when all the people were kneeling down and saying, 'The seats they do hear us, O Lord;' and you made a great big noise," added Helen, severely, for her.

"'The seats they do hear us,'" repeated Cricket. "What does she mean, Eunice, do you suppose?"

"Why, don't you know, Cricket," explained Helen, for herself. "When all the people are kneeling down, and the minister keeps saying things, and the people keep saying, 'The seats they do hear us,' 'course they hear them, 'cause they say it right at the back of the seats."

Eunice and Cricket shouted with laughter.

"She means, 'We beseech Thee to hear us,'" cried Cricket, choking, quite as if she never made any mistakes on her own account. But other people's mistakes are so different from our own. Helen, her sensitive feelings dreadfully hurt, instantly retired under her apron, and refused to be comforted. They always had to be careful about laughing at Helen, whereas Zaidee never seemed to mind.

"Never mind, pet," said Eunice, kissing and petting her. "It wasn't a very bad mistake."

"What's this?" said Cricket, to change the subject She had been plunging her arm down deep in the sand, and had struck something big and bony. She cleared away the loose sand.

"That's our cemi-terror," explained Zaidee; "we'd been having a frinyal before we had Sunday school, and we buried that thing. We finded it in the field the other day. Let's pull it up now, Helen. We've had lots of frinyals, Cricket, and we've buried ever so many things in our cemi-terror. Turkles and things like that, you know."

Cricket, with some difficulty, extricated the object. It was a great skull of a cow, bleached as white as snow.

"'Liza says it was a cow, once," observed Zaidee, poking her fingers in the big holes where the eyes once were. "It was a pretty funny cow, I think. She says it has undressed all its flesh off, and we're all like that inside. But I'm not, see?" and Zaidee opened her mouth wide and offered it for inspection. "Mine's all red inside."

"Mamma says we're made of dust," said Helen, thoughtfully. "If we're made out of dust, I don't see why we don't get all muddy inside when we drink."

"I guess that's why my hands get so dirty," said Zaidee, suddenly, looking at her small, grimy palms with close attention. "I guess it sifts right through my skin. Course I can't keep clean when it keeps sifting through all the time, and 'Liza says she don't see how I get myself so dirty," with a funny imitation of Eliza's tones. "I'm going to tell her I can't help it. If she keeps scrubbing me as fast as it comes out, it may get all used up inside of me sometime," went on Zaidee, who was nothing if not logical.

Helen thoughtfully squeezed Eunice's arm, trying to squeeze some dust out, she said.

"Yours is all used up, I guess," she concluded, as she met with no success.

Cricket set the skull upon the high stone which Kenneth had been using for a pulpit.

"Look, Eunice! It looks just like an idol, sitting up there and grinning. Oh, let's play we're idollers ourselves and worship it! We'll build a shrine for it, and we'll offer it sacrifices. Come on!" and Cricket, with her usual energy, fell to work instantly, building stones up for an altar.

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