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ask me, but ordered me what to bring like I had been going on the
Raccoon outings since infancy.

"You are to bring a white mountain cake in a cocoanut snowstorm, City
Bubbles," he said, with that funny flare of his eyes that always sets
me laughing inside whether I want to or not. "Belle is brewing
sandwiches and Mamie Sue is croquetting with some chicken. Don't tell
the dumpling, but we are going to rub asafetida on her shoes and leave
her to rest on a stone so as to lose her good and then find her by
smelling her track like true Scouts. Now, don't spoil a single pie,
Roxy; we'll need all six."

"I won't, I won't," answered Roxanne; and I saw that grandmother pose
begin to come to her head and I knew that it meant that she would
shake six pies out of that empty larder like the widow in the Bible
did the meal. "Did you ask Miss Prissy, Tony?" she asked, as if to
change the subject for an instant's relief.

"I did," answered Tony with a laugh; "and Miss Bubbles said she would
go accompanied by a basket of stuffed eggs to return accompanied by a
bunch of stuffed Scouts. We also asked the Colonel, and he made us a
speech of acceptance twenty minutes long, Pink and me. But I must
hurry along and encourage Mamie Sue not to eat all the chicken tasties
as she makes them. Do you two Palefaces promise to rustle around as
soon as I go?"

"We do," we both answered as he went out of the gate. Then we sat
still, paralyzed, instead of the promised rustling. Only I was the
most upset. Roxanne always brings out the rainbow and shakes it when
the clouds get down very low.

"What are you going to do about the pies?" I asked, forgetting my
promise to myself never to force Roxanne to look any kind of problem
in the face as long as she could keep her back to it.

"Well," she answered so placidly that I felt ashamed of myself, "I
have just been thinking those apples up. I can starve Lovey and myself
enough to get the things for the crust, but where are the apples to
come from? Won't it be fun to look back from richness and remember
when an apple looked as big as one of the Harpeth Hills?"

"But, haven't you got any apple plan at all?" I again forgot my
resolve and asked. I'm often ashamed of myself for being so practical
about things, but I can't help it, and I couldn't see those pies
coming down on a rainbow. She had to have the apples to save her
family pride, and apples don't grow on dream trees.

"Not a plan," she answered, snipping a thread with a steady hand. "But
they'll come from some place. Now, I've got to think up stories to
make Lovey forget that he wants anything but some corn-bread and
buttermilk for supper. That'll save the batter-cake flour for the
pie-crust and some of the lard and butter too. If I can amuse him past
breakfast with just corn meal mush, I'll have enough flour for them
all. Uncle Pompey has lots of spice and things, so it'll only be the
apples. Maybe I can - "

"Wait a minute, I've got a plan!" I exclaimed quickly; for being
Roxanne's friend often makes me need to think very quickly indeed.
"You go on believing they'll come, and your believing and my plan will
be almost sure to get them. I'll have to go home right now."

"Your plan won't make me have to - to let anybody give them to me, will
it, Phyllis?" And Roxanne's eyes were so soft with entreaty to spare
that family pride that I had to swallow the inconvenient lump in my
throat again. I wish my eyes knew how to mist with tears like a girl's
ought to do instead of my choking up like a boy. But I had my voice
good and steady by the time I got opposite Father across his office
table.

"And so," he said, as he looked at me with an expression I feel on
myself when I am going to take hold of some of the knots in Roxanne's
affairs, "I am to buy two barrels of apples here in the spring when
they are gold nuggets, and help you pack up ten baskets of them for me
to send to the furnace office force as a seasonable compliment, just
so that stiff-necked young Byrd can carry his family pride along home
in the basket with the apples for the making of six pies. Right
expensive pies, those!"

"Yes, Father, I know they are," I answered firmly but pathetically.
"But I told you Lovelace Peyton and Roxanne are starving to save the
crust; and my friends' troubles are mine. When he gets the chance to
prove that steel explosion thing and people buy the process from him,
they won't need friends, or rather they will need friends more than
they ever did, with all that money, but they won't need apples. I'm
sorry it is being such an expensive thing for me to have a friend, but
I must stand by her now if you will let me."

"Steel!" said Father, and his eyes went into narrow slits in a way I
don't like, because he forgets I'm living. And he was in one of those
spells of turning himself inside himself to think, when I glanced at
Rogers, his foreman at the furnaces, who was going over some papers at
another desk. And as I glanced at him Father came out of his inside
and looked at him too. I never did like Mr. Rogers.

"Rogers," said Father briskly, "go telephone the Hill Grocery Company
to pack up ten large baskets of apples and send them over to the
office. You go over and give them to the boys and cover up Miss
Phyllis's track effectually by a speech of presentation. And remember,
Rogers, that whatever Miss Phyllis says in my office is strictly
business and is to be observed as absolutely confidential."

As Rogers went out of the door I felt my heart sink in a queer way,
and I turned to find Father looking at me sternly.

"Phil," he said, in the tone of voice I feel sure fathers use to their
errant sons, "if you have another person's secret to guard, do it
carefully and do not let the excitement of the moment make you let it
slip."

"Oh, Father," I fairly gasped, "did I tell you anything about Mr.
Douglass's secret that I ought not?"

"You told about all you know, daughter; but fortunately you didn't
know enough to do much damage. I happen to know I can trust Rogers as
myself. Now, go to your pie fixings, for I'm unusually busy."

I turned to the door with a queer sinking feeling coming up in me when
he called me back again.

"Of course, Phil, you know what a pleasure it is to me for you to
shower apples on the Byrds and others, and I want to speak to you
about a little matter that is troubling me and ask your help. We have
got to spend some money in Byrdsville, and you must help me to do it.
I can't get Henri to buy his supplies for the kitchen here, under any
circumstances - he shrugs his French shoulders, gives me two uneatable
meals, and orders from New York as usual. I can't very well wear
Byrdsville clothes myself, and there seems no way to drop cash in the
town unless you can find some way. Buy things at all the stores and
charge them to me. Give away and use what you can, but _buy_. We
owe it to the town and we must do it. Can you promise to take part of
the job for me?"

"I'll try, Father," I answered doubtfully. "I like the kind of clothes
the girls wear, so I will get mine in the stores, and I can give
presents to all who will allow it."

"That's it - presents - presents to your friends," said Father in a
relieved tone of voice, and I could see that he had no idea of the
burden he had put on my shoulders. "Now fade away, and let me work,
kiddie. You are all to the good!"

As I walked along home my heart was so heavy down in my toes that my
feet almost stuck to the pavement - not only about the task of spending
the money, but about the secret. However, I reasoned it up into my
breast again. If my father is one of the men that magazines write
against and say is too rich to be good, he has always told me the
truth; and when he said I hadn't done the great secret any damage I
believed him. If he can trust Rogers as himself, I can, too.

But after this, when I know anything that all the world can't know I'm
going to wear a horsehair ring, like Belle makes Mamie Sue do, to
remind me not to forget and tell. I thought I was stronger-minded than
that, but I see I'm not. You see, leather Louise, I must be more
trustworthy than just any girl; for if I'm untrustworthy, then it will
be a tragedy, because it will prove that I inherited it and so be an
evidence against Father in my own mind and the world's too.

Since I have been with Roxanne so much, and seen so many things which
prove that God is looking directly after her, as my getting the apple
plan shows, I feel so much nearer to Him. I am going to pray to Him to
help me to help Father, and take both our honors in His keeping. Amen!
Goodnight!

Of course, the whole spring keeps springing wonderful days on a
person, each one lovelier than the last; but the one that came down
from over Old Harpeth, as the tallest hump on the ridge is called, was
so lovely that it was hard to believe that I was not just seeing it
with Roxanne's eyes. If it was so beautiful, with its orchard smells
and blooms and buzzing of bees and soft little winds, to me, I wonder
what it did look like to _her_. And to think that Roxanne was
almost in tears before it was nine o'clock.

The interurban that runs by Byrdsville and out over the ridge to the
city has cars only every two hours, so if we didn't catch the
eight-ten one, we couldn't go until the ten-ten, and that would make
it very late for the Scouts to go through all the kinds of drills they
had planned for. Some of us had to sprain ankles and make believe to
step on snakes, and then Mamie Sue had to be lost and traced, only she
didn't know it yet; so Tony said that we would have to start very
early. It was about half past seven when he came for me while all the
rest of them waited at the corner for us. We then trooped down to get
Roxanne and Lovelace Peyton; but disaster met us at the door. It was
Lovelace Peyton dancing and yelling like a wild Indian while Roxanne
tried to quiet him and unbutton his white linen dress-up at the same
time.

"Please everybody go on. We can't come," Roxanne called to us at the
gate. "Lovey sat down on one of the hot pies that Uncle Pomp had just
taken out of the stove for me to put in the basket, and it burned him
through his trousers and blouse and all. Uncle Pomp has got a dreadful
fit of asthma, and the pie is all over everything where Lovey ran
around and around. I've got to scrub him and the whole house. Please
go on and don't be late for the train." And as Roxanne looked out at
us over the dancing Lovelace Peyton that was the first time I had ever
seen her face without its dimple on the left side of her chin, or her
head down out of the rosy cloud.

"It always happens just this way, Roxy," said Belle in a reproving
tone of voice. "You promised to begin to get ready last night, so as
not to delay anything or anybody. We're just not going to wait!"

"I did try, Belle," answered Roxanne, with a little sob coming into
her voice that made both Tony and me so mad at one time that it is a
wonder that we didn't both explode together.

"Here, you bubbles," said Tony, jumping the gate as I went through it,
"get busy with this situation. We've got almost a half-hour, so be
doing something, everybody. Belle, you help Roxy skin that kid and get
him into clean clothes while I swab up and light old Pomp's
jimson-weed pipe for him?" And as Tony spoke he started to the rear of
the house.

"No, no. I'm hurted bad, and I won't let anybody but Phyllis touch me.
I'll out off Belle's arm if she comes nigh me," said Lovelace Peyton
in the rudest voice; but it did me good to get hold of him and begin
to peel him while Roxanne stood petrified at the idea of hurrying all
her calamities onto the car in twenty minutes.

"Oh, I'm not dressed and the pies are not packed and - " began Roxanne,
but the dimple also began to play at the same time.

"I'll help you dress, Roxanne," said Belle meekly; for Belle is more
afraid of Tony's explosions than of anything else on earth, and he had
looked at her with a stern expression as she had fussed at and
threatened to leave Roxanne.

"I'll pack the pies," said Mamie Sue, with plain delight at the
prospect.

"Well, hurry, Dumpling, and don't take a bite out of a stray corner of
more than half those pies," Tony answered her as he rolled up his
shirt sleeves and started toward the kitchen. All the other members of
the Raccoon Patrol were with the other girls at the station, and
nobody could go without Tony, who had bought the combination ticket
for everybody, at a bargain.

It is all very well to say that "haste makes waste," but there is a
kind of hurry that gets things done, and Tony knows how to put that
kind into action. He and Mamie Sue kept to the kitchen as their scene
of operations, and before we knew it old Uncle Pomp was seated humped
over his pipe and beginning to breathe easy. Mamie Sue had hopped
around to keep out of the swirls of Tony's mop while she packed those
ill-fated but precious pies in the basket, and she was breathing
almost as hard as Uncle Pompey.

I did the best I could with Lovelace Peyton, though only the blue
apron with the largest pink patches was whole and clean; so he had to
go that way, which I know hurt Roxanne, for he had been so lovely to
look at in his part of the grandmother's sheet.

Belle was buttoning Roxanne's festive white linen up the back as Tony
came down the hall shooing panting Mamie Sue with the basket in front
of him, and collected us all. I grabbed Roxanne's hat from the closet
for her and swung Lovelace Peyton up on Tony's shoulder so he could
run on ahead with him. Belle followed Roxanne, buttoning her up all
the way to the front gate, while Mamie Sue trundled along steadily
with the two baskets.

I've heard about the excitements of the city and the quiet of the
country, but I have the opinion that the terms in this case are mixed.
We all fell aboard the car half dead, but we caught it!

I'm not going to describe this Scout outing in detail to you, my
leather-bound Louise, because it would take all night. I'm so tired
that I doubt if I get up in the morning until it is afternoon, but
there are a few high lights I will mention because I never want to
forget them. A girl wants to keep the details of the first happiest
day of her life always, even if she has many others.

Mamie Sue got lost satisfactorily, but they forgot she had Belle's
basket with her, and when they found her some of the sandwiches were
lost forever; but Mamie Sue was happy. It was wonderful the way Pink
tracked her shoes by the asafetida. That is one of the reasons Scouts
can't smoke: they must keep their sense of smell to track things with.
One of the Willis girls let Sam Hayes treat her for snake-bite by the
rules of the book and never said a word; but then neither one of those
Willis girls ever says anything except what they have to in classroom,
and we like them immensely. They are Tony's first cousins and both are
of the first families of Byrdsville.

But the sensation of the day was when Tony really fell and skinned his
arm bad - and what do you think he did? He let Lovelace Peyton do all
the things to it that he showed him how to do out of the book. I never
saw any human being in my life so happy as that little patched boy
was, and it was marvelous how he understood just what Tony said and
did it quicker than any of us could. His slender little fingers worked
like a grown-up's.

"Oh, if his father, the doctor, could have just seen him," said Miss
Prissy in such a sweetly sympathetic voice that the Colonel blew his
nose. He was Roxanne's father's best friend, and had watched him cut
up what was left of people on the battle-field in the Civil War. He
told us all about it. I feel that we must take better care of Lovelace
Peyton, but I am sorry for Roxanne to have two geniuses in her family
to watch over. It is such a responsibility and requires even more of
my help.

The luncheon was a success. Everybody ate everything, especially the
great surgeon and Mamie Sue. The dried sticks made the sparks on the
leaves for Pink so much to his pride that Tony had to call him Rosebud
to keep him cool, he said, and Sam's kettle hung on the forked sticks
the first time and boiled the best potatoes I ever tasted.

The boys signaled to the Colonel by the Scout language and he got the
signals perfectly. Then he told them war tales until time to start
home. He carried Lovelace Peyton, who had gone to sleep on the car,
home in his arms, while Miss Prissy walked behind him with Roxanne. I
wonder why Miss Prissy doesn't want to marry such a grand man as the
Colonel is?

But a strange thing happened to Tony and me as we came by the side
wall of our garden after we had taken the quiet Willises home and he
was bringing me to my front gate. It makes me nervous to think about
it. That secret about the steel, which is going to keep Roxanne from
living in such poverty, weighs on my mind so that I never forget it.
It is right out there in the little shed and it is both dangerous and
precious.

Suddenly Tony stopped me right opposite the shed and gave the Scout
signal of warning.

"Tip-hist-toe," he said under his breath. "Did you see a shadow dodge
behind Roxy's cottage just a minute ago, Phyllis?" he asked, in a
whisper that was enough to make almost any girl's blood run cold in
her body.

"I did," I answered him in just as blood-curdling a whisper, "but
Uncle Pompey goes out to see after his hens just about this time every
night. I think that was the shadow."

"Of course," Tony laughed in a human voice again. "Say Phyllis, you
are one brick, a yard wide, all wool, and a foot thick. There are not
the usual bubble squeals in you." I never was so confused in all my
life. I don't know how to answer people when they express a liking for
me, because I have never had many compliments passed on me.

"Thank you, Tony," I said, just as humbly as I felt, which was very
humble indeed.

"Now, Phyllis, I wasn't patting any Fido on the head," Tony laughed in
a funny way; for what I said had teased him, though I don't know just
why. "And also I didn't say that to you because you didn't yelp when I
scared up a bogie for you, but because I saw how you came near beating
me to Roxy's catastrophes this morning when Belle wanted to give her
the jolly go-by. Old Roxanny has some rough going at times, and it is
good to know that she has got a bubble next door to stand by her in a
stocking-darning way a fellow can't. Good-night!"

Tony Luttrell is an honorable gentleman, if he is just in short
trousers yet, and I appreciate his friendship.

That shadow _will_ make me uneasy. I feel like that cross, nervous
white hen of Uncle Pompey's, only as if I were sitting on dynamite
bottles instead of eggs. I will and do trust my father, but can I
trust him to trust Rogers? Oh, I wish he was just a lawyer with almost
no practice, like Tony's father, and was sitting in the office all day
long doing nothing, where I knew he was, instead of going back and
forth from the city with other men that have more money than it is
right to have! I'd even be willing to have him keep the grocery store
even if it did mean that he wasn't quite as first-family as Judge
Luttrell and the Byrds.

Oh, I do love my father - I do - I do!




CHAPTER IV


It does seem a pity that a person can't put an Idol on a pedestal and
keep it here without having it come down and bother around the house.
The idea of being introduced to Mr. Douglass Byrd and having to speak
directly to him with my own voice has kept me miserable all this month
in which I have been so perfectly happy being Roxanne's friend and
confidante, but it has happened and I'm glad it's over, though it was
under trying circumstances.

These are they. My fears have come to pass and in this eventful month
Lovelace Peyton has grown from a slender, frail little boy into almost
as much of a roly-poly as Mamie Sue, and looks more like her than he
does like Roxanne. I try not to feed him more than four times a day
extra, but he is stern with me about it. Sometimes he will trade the
cake I give him about four o'clock for a new shaped bottle, but lots
of times he gets the bottle and the cake both away from me. I just
can't be strong-minded with Lovelace Peyton, like I ought to be to
make up for the way Roxanne forgets to see him from the rosy cloud.

"If you'll give me a bottle, I'll give you one mouth-kiss, Phyllis;
but for cake and bottles too, I can maybe make it two," is the way he
bargains with me. Fifteen years is a long time to starve for a little
brother to love, so Lovelace Peyton almost always gets both the cake
and bottles.

But his fat has begun to burst out of all the clothes he has and
somebody has got to get him new ones. Roxanne and I were managing it
when Mr. Douglass interrupted us this morning; and I'm glad a man is
so much stupider than a woman or maybe his feelings would have got
hurt and I'd have had to argue him into my plan like I did Roxanne. I
feel sure I would have failed with him. He is the first Idol I ever
had and I am new at managing either friends or idols. However, I have
got so I can get the best of Roxanne when it is urgently necessary.

"It's the funniest thing to me, Phyllis," Roxanne said the other
afternoon, as I went over to see her about my rhetoric lesson, "but
rich as you are, I don't at all mind your seeing my scrimps like I do
the other girls, even Mamie Sue. You are like finding a grandmother's
thimble that fits you exactly and is pure gold."

Oh, I wish I could learn to be gracious and say lovely things like
Roxanne, but I'm just a corked bottle and I can't get the stopper out.

"What are you doing?" I asked her instead of giving her a squeeze and
saying, "You are the dearest thing on earth to me, Roxanne," which was
what I really felt.

"I'm sitting here before this old dress I found in the trunk in the
attic and trying to think how I could make Lovey wear the flowered
aprons I can make out of it. I almost know he won't, for he has begun
to say what 'looks boy' and what 'looks girl.' I did hope I could keep
him ignorant of the difference this summer at least. Would you ask him
before you make the aprons or trust to his not noticing?"

The old dress was the full skirt of fifty years ago, with huge red
roses on a white-and-green dotted background, and, as aprons, would
have made the snake doctor look like a very young circus. I couldn't
stand the thought and cranked my mind as hard as I could for a half
minute. The idea came, and it is a good thing to be perfectly straight
in the treatment of your friends at all times, so that when a crisis
comes they will depend on you.

"Roxanne," I said, looking determinedly and sternly into her face with
Father's own expression, "have I ever offered you a single thing to
eat except when you were company like the other girls, or anything
else that would hurt the Byrd pride?"

"No, you haven't, Phyllis, and that's why I don't mind telling or
letting you see things. You understand that it is for the cause, and I
don't have to be afraid that you will hurt - hurt my feelings."

I never thought it would be possible for a girl to look at me like
Roxanne Byrd looked at me across the pile of ragged little aprons and
old dresses. I thank God for it!

"Well," I said, "for that dress I want to trade you this blue gingham
I have got on to make the aprons out of. It will make three if the
tucks are ripped out of the skirt. I want the old flowered skirt to
make some cushions for the window seat in the room I sleep in, for it
will be just the thing to go with the old mahogany of your
grandmother's. It is real old-fashioned chintz and is worth just about
ten times as much as this dress I have got on, which you know I bought
at Mr. Hadley's, with the other dozen ones that Miss Green is making
for me, at twenty-five cents a yard. Will you?"

Roxanne doesn't know about that awful spending burden I have had laid
on me and she is just as interested in helping me go and buy myself
Byrdsville clothes as a friend can be in another's pleasure - not
knowing it to be painful responsibility.

I locked the box that came from New York with all my spring and summer
things in it, in a closet the day it came, and while these things are,
of course crude, I like to be in clothes like the other girls. I seem
to fit in better. I spent seventy-five dollars at that store by hard
effort, and I think won Mr. Hadley's good will for life for both
Father and me. Also Miss Green's check was gratifyingly large both to
her and me.

"Will you trade, Roxanne?" I asked again, keeping the eagerness out of


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