Marion Ames Taggart.

Six Girls and the Tea Room online

. (page 1 of 17)
Online LibraryMarion Ames TaggartSix Girls and the Tea Room → online text (page 1 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


SIX GIRLS AND THE TEA ROOM***


E-text prepared by Beth Baran and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
(http://www.pgdp.net) from page images generously made available by the
HathiTrust Digital Library (http://www.hathitrust.org/digital_library)










[Illustration: "THERE WERE EXCITING DAYS, TIRESOME TOO"]


(Sequel to "Six Girls and Bob")

SIX GIRLS AND THE TEA ROOM

A Story

by

MARION AMES TAGGART

Author of "Six Girls and Bob," "The Little
Grey House," "The Wyndham Girls," etc.

Illustrated by William F. Stecher







[Illustration]

W. A. Wilde Company
Boston Chicago

Copyrighted, 1907
By W. A. Wilde Company
All rights reserved

SIX GIRLS AND THE TEA ROOM




_To Gertrude,_
_amid the mountains:_


Again a story of the Six Girls of whom we are fond, is dedicated to
you. It will tell you what delightful things grew out of their Tea
Room, and how the "Patty-Pans flat" was filled with happiness till it
overflowed into a larger home.

It proves - what you know - that the best times are not always great
times. Our Six Girls - and the boys - are busy young folk, and the good
things that have come to them they won by courage, perseverance and the
merry hearts that are part of innocence and sweetness.

More than all, our Six Girls - and one boy - love one another so dearly
that they cannot help being successful and happy. We believe - do we
not? - that a loving home alone is a real home.

Margery, Happie, Gretta and Bob know well that "'tis love that makes
the world go 'round." They ask love of those who read the story of
their Tea Room which brought happiness to so many, in such unforeseen
ways. It is the story of a winter, but a winter all sunshine.

Remembering how it was written is it fittingly dedicated to you, dear
Gertrude.




CONTENTS


I. THE PATTY-PANS AGAIN 11

II. "PLEASED TO MEET YOU" 26

III. THE CUP THAT CHEERS 41

IV. CHRISTMAS, AND AN INVITATION 54

V. "THE HANDSOME MISS ANGELA KEY-STONE" 69

VI. UP-STAIRS AND DOWN-STAIRS 85

VII. AN OPEN DOOR 99

VIII. HARD TRAVELING 115

IX. AN UNPREJUDICED VIEW 130

X. "SEEING IS BELIEVING" 145

XI. THE ELASTIC PATTY-PANS 161

XII. THE TWO KEREN-HAPPUCHS 176

XIII. A HINT OF SPRING 193

XIV. LITTLE SERENA 207

XV. "'MONGST THE HILLS OF SOMERSET, WISHT I WAS A-ROAMIN' YET!" 224

XVI. HAPPIE GRANTS AMNESTY 240

XVII. JONES-DEXTER PRIDE 256

XVIII. A SIEGESLIED 272

XIX. PATTY-PANS NO MORE 288

XX. EAST AND WEST 304




ILLUSTRATIONS


PAGE

"THERE WERE EXCITING DAYS, TIRESOME
TOO" _Frontispiece_ 36

"THE TEA ROOM ... BECAME A STERN FACT" 54

"MR. FELTON CAME OUT OF HIS SANCTUM" 127

"SHE JUMPED UP, STRAIGHTENED HER
TWISTED GARMENTS...." 185

"BOB, GRETTA AND DON DOLOR BROKE
THEIR WAY THROUGH THE SNOW" 261





SIX GIRLS AND THE TEA ROOM


CHAPTER I

THE PATTY-PANS AGAIN


"IS this the Patty-Pans?" asked Gretta, setting down the basket that
held Jeunesse Dorée, the yellow kitten, and looking around the little
dining-room with great interest. And she asked it with her voice up
on "Patty," and down on "Pans," because she was a true Pennsylvania
country girl.

"This is our city residence, Patty-Pans-on-the-Hudson," said Happie
Scollard. "Isn't it beautifully queer, the way we're glad to see
anything again? We all were in the dolefullest dumps going to
Crestville last April, then we felt dumpy coming away this morning
because we'd got so attached to the farm - and it was a risk taking
Gretta away from home for the first time! And now we're all as glad to
see our dear little Patty-Pan flat as if we hadn't loved the farm, and
in the spring we'll be perfectly crazy to see the farm again - and so it
goes! Sorry to leave one thing, and just jumping glad to see another!"

Miss Keren-happuch Bradbury, the Scollards' adopted aunt whose unlikely
name Happie bore, laughed. "Your 'jumping gladness' is always more in
evidence than your regrets, Happie," she said. "Now, my annexed family,
I am going home. You can get on without me in your own domain, and I
want to see what has happened in mine during these long months of our
exile. Margery, Happie, I will come down to-morrow and take you to
see the room that I thought would answer for your proposed tea room.
There's the bell! Bob and Laura with supplies from the delicatessen
shop, likely. Charlotte, go to bed early and rest well to prepare for
to-morrow, if you want to resume responsibility. Good-bye, my dears. I
wonder how Noah liked parting from his animals!"

She started down the tiny three-foot hall in her brisk way, but Happie
rushed after her and threw herself upon this "Noah" into whose Ark
of refuge the Scollards had been taken the previous spring. Then the
waters of affliction had threatened to submerge them, and their brave
little "Charlotte-mother" was in danger of slipping away altogether,
broken down by her long struggle to support her six children, as well
as to educate them herself.

The Scollards had dubbed Miss Keren-happuch's farm "the Ark," with good
reason, for it had preserved them, and their dearest of mothers had
come back from it fit to take up her burden again. To be sure, during
the nine months they had spent in Crestville the farm had proved to
belong rightfully to Gretta Engel, the young girl with whom Happie had
made such fast friends and who had now returned with them to share the
experiences of a winter that promised to be interesting, but this did
not alter nor lessen the Scollards' debt to that fine old gentlewoman,
their grandmother's eccentric friend, Miss Keren-happuch Bradbury.
She had been indeed their "Noah" who had saved them from destruction,
and Happie ran after her at her hint of regret in leaving them,
precipitating herself upon her in such wise that it was evident she had
lost every bit of her former fear of her name donor. It was lucky that
the little hall was but three feet wide, for Miss Keren staggered under
the onslaught, though she kissed Happie's glowing cheek as heartily as
the girl kissed her pale one.

"I know how the animals felt when they saw Noah walking off, dearest
Auntie Keren!" she cried. "They felt like bleating, and as if Shem
and Ham and Japhet, and all their wives couldn't console them if Noah
hadn't promised to come often to see that they were fed, and to pat
their heads and let them lick his hand! You dearest of Auntie Kerens!"

"I hope the original Noah didn't have the bear as spokesman for the
rest of the animals!" gasped Miss Keren. "Happie, you are smothering
me. There, my dear, let me go! I hear Bob whistling up the stairs, and
Laura begging him to go slower. Gretta owns the Ark now. Go and hug
her!"

Pretty Margery came out of a room farther down the hall and opened the
door to let Miss Keren out and to let in Bob, the one Scollard boy,
and Laura, the third girl. She kissed Miss Keren with her gentle, sweet
manner, conveying silently her sense of the blessed difference between
the circumstances of their return to the flat which Happie had dubbed
"the Patty-Pans" and those under which they had closed that front door
behind them in the spring to go to Crestville, and her realization that
the Scollards owed this betterment to Miss Keren.

Bob and Laura came in with arms filled with packages, most of which
had to be carried so perfectly right side up that Laura's face was one
pucker of solicitude.

Penny - Penelope, the baby, - had been vainly trying to unfasten the
cords holding down the cover of Jeunesse Dorée's basket, stimulated by
his imploring mews. Polly had been conducting Gretta through the flat,
which struck the girl, for the first time entering a domicile other
than the Crestville farmhouses, as a sort of miracle for which previous
descriptions had not prepared her mind.

"No wonder Happie called it 'the Patty-Pans,'" said Gretta, as they
arrived at the parlor window through a series of telescopic rooms.
"It goes on, one room after another, just for all the world like such
sheets of baking tins! And are there many like this in this one house?"

Polly felt delightfully experienced, at ten, beside tall Gretta of
fifteen, who did not know flats.

"There are two on each floor, and this house is six stories high;
this is the fourth floor, east. The Gordons - Ralph and Snigs, you
know, - are just across from us, fourth floor, west. That makes twelve
flats in one house," she explained carefully. "I guess they're all
rented; they generally are in December, like this. They're the nicest
flats for this rent mamma saw. You have to have ref'runces to get in,
and mamma wouldn't like to leave us alone all day when she's gone to
take charge of foreign letters for that firm down in town 'less we
were in a house where they were strict about ref'runces." Polly - Mary,
but no one called her that, - was a most reliable, painstaking, plump
little person, and she intended to go on enlightening Gretta as to the
peculiarities of flats, when there came a horrible sound of ripping,
tearing, pounding, thumping, that made Gretta jump half way across the
little room and then lean against the wall holding both hands to her
throat, her pretty face utterly stripped of its rich color, her big
eyes bigger and darker than ever as she panted: "Wh-what's that?"

Polly dropped into the nearest chair and laughed so hard that for a
minute she could not speak. Before she caught her breath Happie came
in and joined in Polly's mirth as she saw Gretta's face and heard the
frightful racket which was keeping on as loud as ever.

"You thought we were going straight up through the roof, didn't you,
Gretta?" she cried. "I don't blame you, but it's only the steam heat
coming on. It has been turned off so long that the pipes were full of
water, and when the pipes are cold it always goes on like that. It
isn't half so nice as our fireplace and the logs up at Crestville, is
it? But it's safe. Come out, both of you, and help get lunch first and
then eat it. What do you think? Dorée went right under the sink the
minute he was let out, and looked for his pan of milk where it sat last
winter! Who would have supposed he would remember? He was nothing but a
kitten when we went away."

She had wound her arm around Gretta and had related Dorée's proof of
memory as they went down the hall. Her telescopic home looked very
pretty to Happie and she could not help being glad to be back to her
old life, but it was such a new life to Gretta that she was afraid of
her not liking it. She was most anxious that the girl whom she loved
and who had never tasted happiness, should spend every day in New York
in entire content.

Margery and Laura had the table set when Happie and Gretta arrived
on the scene. Bob saluted them waving a thin wooden dish with tinned
corners from which he had just emptied the delicatessen-shop potato
salad.

"You might run out to the pump and fetch some water, Gretta," he
suggested. But Gretta shook her head.

"Come now, I'm not as bad as that!" she cried. "They have water running
from spigots up in the mountain hotels, and I've seen it! And I shall
not blow out the gas, either!"

"Happie told you!" said Bob. "Don't you put on airs, Gretta! Mother,
lady mother, come forth and regale yourself."

Mrs. Scollard hastened to accept this invitation. She patted Penny's
plump, country-browned little hand, as Margery lifted her into the high
chair at her mother's side. She was a pretty mother - Margery was like
her - and young still; it was no wonder that her children dropped into
their old places around the table beaming with happiness at seeing her
once more at its head, all her old look of weakness and weariness blown
away somewhere beyond the Crestville mountains.

The hastily prepared lunch tasted very good and everybody was doing
full justice to it, when there came a pounding from the direction of
the little kitchen, which made Gretta drop her fork to cry: "What's
that?" and sent Bob flying towards it with a partly articulate
exclamation of: "Ralph and Snigs!"

"They always pound with a stick from their dumb-waiter door on ours,
and then we go to the door - the front door - and let them in," explained
Polly, in her rôle of instructress to Gretta.

This time such informality was not to obtain, however. Bob came back
with a broad grin on his face and a note in his hand.

"They weren't there when I got there; they must have pounded, and then
dropped on the floor when they heard me coming," he said to his family.
"This note was pinned on our dumb-waiter door with a skewer."

He proceeded to unfold the note and read: "Mr. Ralph Gordon, Mr.
Charles (alias Snigs) Gordon, present their compliments to Mrs.
Charlotte Scollard, Miss Scollard, the Misses Keren-happuch, Laura,
Mary and Penelope Scollard, Miss Gretta Engel and Mr. Robert Scollard,
and request the pleasure of being allowed to call upon them at their
earliest convenience. R. S. V. P."

Considering that the Gordon boys had been spending Thanksgiving at the
farm, and had come down from it with the Scollards that very morning
of the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, it really did not seem as if this
formal note, nor even this pressing haste to see the family in the
opposite flat, was necessary. Bob crumpled up the note, thrust it into
his pocket and dashed out into the hall, where he beat a lively tattoo
on the door across from the Patty-Pans' entrance, forgetting all about
the rule of consideration for people above and below them, and crying:
"Come on over now, you chumps! Come on over!"

Ralph and Snigs appeared, dodged Bob's affectionate blows, and came
beaming into the dining-room where they shook hands all around with the
Scollards from whom they had parted hardly an hour before, when they
had all arrived from the train.

"Glad to see you back!" cried Ralph heartily. "How well you're looking,
all of you! I hear that you have been making a long summer of it up
in Madison County, Pennsylvania, among the mountains. Evidently it
agreed with you. I mean to take a run up in that part of the country
myself one of these days. Is this Miss Engel, whose discovery of her
grandmother's will, in the horse-hair trunk where her step-grandfather
had hidden it, resulted in her snatching from Miss Bradbury the farm
which you called the Ark? Very glad to see you, Miss Engel. I don't
remember meeting an heiress before. You ought to have prevented your
grandmother from marrying a scamp for a second husband. It's wrong to
be reckless with grandmothers!"

"The farm isn't worth enough to call me an heiress, Mr. Gordon. I wish
you could have come up to see us this summer," retorted Gretta. Which,
considering how she and Ralph had chased calves, made hay, and looked
after Don Dolor, the horse, together, proved that Gretta was learning
how to talk nonsense with these new friends.

"Gretta's grandmother married again before she was born, Ralph," said
Polly, who always set everybody right.

"My souls and uppers, Ralph, but you are long winded! You'd better take
to the law where you can use your gift of gab!" exclaimed Bob.

"Say, it was fine being up there in the Ark, but I'm mighty glad
you're all back here again!" said Snigs, looking around the room and
the Scollard circle in profound satisfaction. "Mother says if you could
know how glad she was to get you back you'd be ashamed of having left
her alone on the other side."

"No we wouldn't, because if we hadn't gone she wouldn't have been so
happy now," cried Happie. "Where's Whoop-la?"

"Oh, cut back and fetch Whoop-la!" Ralph ordered his junior. And Snigs
hurried off, quickly returning with the Gordon tiger cat, grown big, at
whom Dorée set up every hair inhospitably.

"Aunt Keren is coming to fetch us to see the future tea room to-morrow,
Ralph," said Margery, bringing her mother a cup of hot tea and passing
the crackers and cheese to the boys. "I am half afraid, now that the
experiment is to be experimented."

"Always heard tea was bad for the nerves," said Ralph, deftly catching
a bit of Neuchâtel cheese which was about to drop, on the edge of the
cracker which it was meant to supplement. "What are you afraid of?
You'll have a tea room that would make a Russian enlist in the Japanese
army, and you'll coin money - like a counterfeiter."

"Counterfeit Japanese?" suggested Happie. "I'm not much afraid of the
tea room - though I might be of the tea! As long as I don't have to
drink it I won't be afraid of that either. But it does seem rather
awesome to think of Margery and me running a tea room, with only Gretta
and Laura to help, and mother down in town all day, superintending
a foreign firm's big correspondence - I mean a big firm's foreign
correspondence - and Bob in Mr. Felton's office again, and you boys at
school, and nobody to fall back on till night, no matter what happened!"

"It didn't seem possible," began Laura in her pompous way, "that we
could make our dream of the tea room a reality, until now. But with us
back in town and Aunt Keren coming to-morrow to get our approval of the
room it is almost _un fait accompli_."

"Let's see, that means an accomplice of fate, doesn't it, Laura?"
inquired Bob slyly. He never lost a chance of pricking the bubble of
Laura's vanity. "I've not a doubt that the tea room will prove an
accomplice of fate." He jumped up and mounted a chair with no warning
of his intentions. "My brethren, and also my sisteren," he preached
in a sermonizing voice. "This is a world in which one thing leads to
another. It has not been my lot to journey far in this round planet,
nor has it been my lot to see that it is round. I have been limited
to a flatness that extended as far as my eye could reach. But I
know - because Columbus proved it by smashing the end of an egg - that
could my eye but go on and on it would soon roll over the declining
edge of a rotund world. And so I know, although my sweet sixteen
years have not carried me to the depths of human experience, that
the world of each of us is also a round world, in which events roll
around and around, much like the careless kitten that flitteth in
circles after its coy tail. And even, my brethren and sisteren, as the
flitting of the kitten causes the tail it pursues to circle, so do we,
unknowingly, cause the events which seem to chase us. I have no doubt
that Sister Laura has spoken as truly as she has spoken beautifully
when, in the language of the polite successors of the ancient Gauls,
she has said that the tea room would prove an accomplice of fate.
Even as the drops of tea flow from the noses of the small teapots of
the future refreshment room, so shall the consequences of that room's
existence flow through the lives of our beloved sisters Margaret and
Keren-happuch, and possibly of others unknown to us."

Gretta groaned, after the fashion of congregations assembled in the
old-time camp meetings in the woods, which she had seen when she was
very small. Ralph and Snigs were about to applaud, but Happie checked
them with a stern face as Bob descended from his chair. "Hush, you
never applaud a sermon!" she whispered. "The congregation will join me
in the hymn."

She began to sing, and Margery joined with an alto and Laura with a
tenor, as if the "hymn" were already familiar. It was sung to the air
which has been called, "Tell Aunt Rhody," and its words ran thus:

"A word of wisdom, a word of wisdom, a word of wisdom
Is of use.
This word is come, this word is come, this word is come
From a goose."

Ralph and Snigs shouted. "You are the greatest crowd!" exclaimed Ralph
admiringly. "You are always springing something new on us. I never
heard this sermon racket before. If I ought to be a lawyer, you ought
to preach, Bob. And where _did_ you catch the hymn?"

"Bob used to preach when we were little, and we wanted a hymn to sing
at his sermons. We didn't dare sing a real hymn, for fear it would be
irreverent, so mother wrote the words of this one for us. We hope that
it will be a benefit to you," said Happie demurely.

Polly came in from the kitchen looking guilty. "Whoop-la jumped on the
table and took the rest of the sardines," she said. "So I gave them,
even half and half, to him and Dorée. I didn't like to tell you for
fear Ralph would scold Whoop-la. But it was good he stole - took them,
for it made Dorée stop growling at him. There was one tail, with a
little piece above it, that didn't come out even after I divided, so
I gave that to Whoop-la because he was company. I hope you won't say
anything to him about it."

Polly was the champion of all animals, and she was Ralph's great
friend. The big boy put his arm around her affectionately. "I'll call
sardines 'herrings' before Whoop-la from this very day, for fear of
embarrassing him, Sweet P.," he said.

The bell rang and Snigs cried, "That's mother, I'll wager what you
like."

Penny ran to open the door, and Mrs. Gordon's voice called out: "I
missed my boys and felt sure where to find them. May I come?"

Mrs. Scollard hastened out to meet her guest, and Margery, Happie and
Gretta fell to clearing the table and washing dishes as fast as they
could.

"It's a good thing I lived with you in the country before we came in
town, or I never should have got used to your ways. And even now you
seem different here, though I can't tell how," Gretta said to Happie as
they removed the crumbs from the table.

"Of course; we're in a different state! Isn't this New York and wasn't
that Pennsylvania?" inquired Happie. "Nonsense, Gretta; we're just the
same, only more so."

"Don't you dread that tea room, honest?" asked Gretta.

"Just a wee bit, but don't you say I said so," returned Happie. "If we
can make it go and be useful it will be beautiful. The only thing I
really dread about it is its failing."

It had been partly Gretta's plan, at least she had suggested and added
to Margery and Happie's idea of a tea room, in which they were to try
to make a little of the money they needed that winter. Kind Miss
Keren-happuch Bradbury had promised to guarantee their rent and had
found the room for the purpose. To-morrow she was going to show it to
them. It did seem formidable, now that it was taking such definite
shape, the plan of setting up the library and tea room which they had
discussed in far-off Crestville. But the Mrs. Stewart from whom they
would rent the room was to be above them, with her dancing school, to
chaperon them, and perhaps their youth would make the little enterprise
go the better. At least it was not Happie's way to be timorous.

"Of course I'm not really afraid, Gretta," she said, with the little
toss of her bright red-brown hair which Gretta knew and loved. And she
led the way into the tiny kitchen of the flat like an amazon at the
head of her warriors.




CHAPTER II

"PLEASED TO MEET YOU"


NO one had ever known Miss Keren-happuch Bradbury to miss an
appointment.

The four girls were ready for her betimes, for she never kept any one
waiting and had the strongest objection to unpunctuality in another.

She rang the bell of the small apartment ten minutes earlier than the
Scollards had looked for her, and appeared erect and brisk as ever,
with that combination of thorough breeding and disregard for externals
which was peculiar to herself.


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Online LibraryMarion Ames TaggartSix Girls and the Tea Room → online text (page 1 of 17)