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   Chapter 25 THE END OF THE SUMMER.

Cricket at the Seashore By Elizabeth Weston Timlow Characters: 9951

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

Two weeks later everything was running again as usual. Kenneth, quite recovered, was as lively as possible, though he was a funny looking little object, with his lovely golden curls, to everybody's great grief, cropped as close to his head as a prize-fighter's.

"If it only will grow out a little, before mamma gets home," mourned Cricket. "He looks so ridiculous. He looks just like the sheep, after 'Gustus John has sheared them. Even the little lambs don't know their own mothers, sometimes, auntie, after they're clipped. Oh!" clasping her hands in horror at a new thought. "Do you suppose mamma won't even know Kenneth?"

"He doesn't look much like himself, certainly, but I don't fancy that there's the least danger that his mother won't know him instantly," said auntie, comfortingly.

"I'm so glad," said Cricket, with a sigh of relief, "if you really think so. But, anyway, he's the sheepiest-looking child."

But, fortunately, his burns had healed beautifully, and the doctor assured them that he would even outgrow every scar. Cricket was entirely herself again, with only one deep scar across her right wrist to remind her of that unlucky sacrifice to the Jabberwock.

Edna was at home, also, delighted to be back with her beloved Eunice. She proudly flourished, actually, two stories for the "Echo," as the result of her "banishment," as she insisted on calling her visit. She was so proud of them that she wanted to carry them about with her all the time, and was all impatience for the next number of the paper to be ready. Eunice had been working at it, during Edna's absence, and it was all ready, excepting to print Edna's story, for which space had been left.

It was getting well into September now, and the children were looking eagerly forward to the return of the travellers, who were to sail early in October. Letters said that mamma was improving so delightfully that she was quite as strong as ever, and that she was looking forward with quite as much impatience to seeing the children again as they could have to see her. The children didn't quite believe this, though.

"She couldn't be glad as I am," said Cricket, positively. "If she were she would just simply burst. Of course we're gladder to see her than she could be to see us, because she's mamma, and we're only just the children! I'm chock full of gladness!" and Cricket gave an ecstatic caper as she waved the letter that definitely set the date of the travellers' return.

"Look out, Cricket," said Eunice, hastily, "that's the second time you've nearly knocked my ink over," rescuing, as she spoke, the fresh, fair copy of the "Echo," to which she was giving the finishing touches, for the afternoon's reading.

"Please excuse me, but I'm so happy! Oh, auntie, it's worth while to have mamma and papa go to Europe and miss them so, when you are so gladder than glad when they come back."

"Now, I really flattered myself that you had been tolerably contented here, this summer," said Auntie Jean, pretending to look aggrieved. "I'm very sorry that you've been so wretched."

"Wretched! I haven't," said Cricket, giving auntie a rapturous hug, and, at the same time, sending her heels kicking out behind, like a little wild pony. "I've had an awfully good time."

"Cricket!" shrieked Eunice, "you knocked over the ink at last!" She snatched up the "Echo" just in time to save it from an inky bath. "Hand me that blotter, Edna. Never mind, auntie, for it's mostly on the newspapers. Cricket, you are the ink-spillingest girl!" scolded Eunice, scrubbing and cleaning as she talked. "Yesterday you knocked it out of the window, and only the other day you had it all over the piazza-floor."

Cricket looked much depressed, as she helped Eunice repair damages.

"I rather guess you'll be too relieved for anything to see the last of me, grandma," she said, mournfully. "I never saw anybody like me. I never mean to do things, and then I go and do them. I don't see how you've stood it all summer, anyway, with such racketting children around, I truly don't."

"You've been a pretty obedient set," said grandma, patting the hand that stole around her neck. "And when children are obedient and truthful, one can excuse a great deal else. Indeed, I shall miss my flock exceedingly, I assure you, in spite of your ink-spilling tendencies."

"Even if I did sprain your ankle?" whispered Cricket, very softly, "and burn up Kenneth's hair? and break through the plaster in your ceiling, and lots of other things?"

"Yes, in spite of it all," whispered grandma, back again, just as softly. "Because I never knew you to do anything I told you not to do, and whatever you tell me, I know is exactly true."

"You're such a beautiful grandma!" said Cricket, with a hug, and then she pranced off.

Zaidee and Helen came toiling up from the beach, with their arms full of dolls. Zaidee dropped down on the top piazza-step.

"Auntie Jean, I'm all in such a pusferati

on," she sighed. "It's so much work to take care of such a lot of children as I have. I wish I had a little live nurse to help me. Couldn't I?"

"Take Cricket," suggested Auntie Jean. "She wants something to do."

"No, I thank you," said that young woman, decidedly. "I'm glad I don't have to follow Zaidee up all day."

"And I wouldn't have you," returned Zaidee, with equal decision. "You tooked up my Beatrice by the neck, and it hurted her. She told me so. I don't want you for my dollie's nurse, or for my nurse, either."

"Your nurse!" exclaimed Cricket. "I wouldn't be 'Liza for anything! I'd as soon take care of a straw in a high wind, as take care of you."

Auntie Jean laughed, and drew Cricket down into her arms.

"Did you ever think, honestly," she whispered, "that Zaidee is a little, just a little, like one of her older sisters?"

"Oh, she's not so bad," responded Cricket, instantly. "But because she's like me is no reason I like it any better. I like it all the worse. Besides, I don't set up to be a polygon."

Hereupon Auntie Jean laughed until grandma demanded to know what the joke was, and why they were talking secrets.

"No secrets," answered auntie, wiping her eyes. "Cricket was only telling me that she didn't set up to be a paragon."

Cricket flashed a quick glance at auntie, caught her eye, and nodded her thanks.

"There's George Washington," she hastily remarked, changing the subject. "Come here, sir, and play a little. You've been as sober as a judge lately. I haven't seen you run after Martha for perfect ages."

The September days slipped by, until the first of October was just at hand. It was arranged that Auntie Jean should go and get the house in town in readiness for the family's return. At first she expected to go alone, but the girls begged to go with her, and finally she concluded to take them.

Will and Archie had already gone back to Philadelphia, on account of their school, so this arrangement would only leave the younger ones and Eliza with grandma for a few days longer.

Then, oh, joy! that blessed Auntie Jean further decided that she would take them all down to New York the day before the steamer was due, so that they might have the earliest possible glimpse of the family. Was not all this enough to fill any little girl's cup of bliss to overflowing?

For once, reality surpassed anticipation. Such excitement for the last week in packing up; such walks and rows and drives between times; such a fine number of the "Echo," to wind up with; such a funny farewell call-laden with all manner of good things-to the old woman, who was still overcome by the thought that she had seen Miss Cricket; then such parting hugs and kisses for dear grandma and the children; such hand-shakings with old Billy, who distributed peppermints like a red and white snow.

Then came the jolly three days' picnic in the empty house in town. The three girls thought that they rendered perfectly indispensable aid to auntie and the maids, in opening the house, getting off holland covers, and arranging everything, till it was all in apple-pie order for the homecomers.

Then came the last and loveliest treat,-the delightful trip to New York in the night boat, and the vast importance of the thought of going to meet their European travellers. They discussed them, as if they had been gone ten years, at least. Eunice wondered if she would know Marjorie, and if Donald's mustache would be as long as papa's, while Cricket was a little afraid that they might have forgotten how to talk English.

The steamer was not due till late in the afternoon, so that they had the day before them, and a day crammed with good things it was. Although they had often been there before, the children immediately voted for Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum first. Then they visited some of the great stores, and then lunched at Delmonico's. In the afternoon they went for a long, lovely ride up Riverside Park, and then, at last, came the crowning joy of watching the steamer's arrival.

"There's mamma!" shrieked Cricket, regardless of the crowd about her, as the great steamer swung into her moorings, and in five minutes more everybody was being rapturously hugged by everybody else.


Transcriber's Note:

Variations in spelling and hyphenation, and unexpected

spelling found in the original have been retained.

The following corrections have been made in this version:

(corrections are indicated within content by text.

Mouseover on highlighted text will display transcriber's

note on many browsers.)

Punctuation errors have been corrected without comment.

page 76'adventures' changed to 'adventure': a new adventure.

page 123'liitle' corrected to 'little': his poor little

page 165'sittingly' corrected to 'sitting': were sitting cosily

page 260'at at any' corrected to 'at any': at any time

page 324'Anntie' corrected to 'Auntie': Auntie Jean knew

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