Nora Perry.

A Flock of Girls and Boys online

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Author Of "Hope Benham," "Lyrics And Legends,"
"A Rosebud Garden Of Girls," Etc.

Illustrated by


[Frontispiece: That little Smith girl]

























"The Pelhams are coming next month."

"Who are the Pelhams?"

Miss Agnes Brendon gave a little upward lift to her small pert nose as
she exclaimed:

"Tilly Morris, you don't mean to say that you don't know who the Pelhams

Tilly, thus addressed, lifted up _her_ nose as she replied, -

"I do mean to say just that."

"Why, where have you lived?" was the next wondering question.

"In the wilds of New York City," answered Tilly, sarcastically.

"Where the sacred stiffies of Boston are unknown," cried Dora Robson,
with a laugh.

"But the Pelhams, - I thought that everybody knew of the Pelhams at
least," Agnes remarked, with a glance at Tilly that plainly expressed a
doubt of her denial. Tilly caught the glance, and, still further
irritated, cried impulsively, -

"Well, I never heard of them! Why should I? What have they done, pray
tell, that everybody should know of them?"

"'Done'? I don't know as they've done anything. It's what they are. They
are very rich and aristocratic people. Why, the Pelhams belong to one of
the oldest families of Boston."

"What do I care for that?" said Tilly, tipping her head backward until
it bumped against the wall of the house with a sounding bang, whereat
Dora Robson gave a little giggle and exclaimed, -

"Mercy, Tilly, I heard it crack!"

Then another girl giggled, - it was another of the Robsons, - Dora's
Cousin Amy; and after the giggle she said saucily, -

"Tilly's head is full of cracks already. I think we'd better call her
'Crack Brain;' we'll put it C.B., for short."

"You'd better call her L.H., - 'Level Head,'" a voice - a boy's
voice - called out here.

The group of girls looked at one another in startled surprise.
"Who - what!" Then Dora Robson, glancing over the piazza railing,
exclaimed, -

"It's Will Wentworth. He's in the hammock! What do you mean, Willie, by
hiding up like that, right under our noses, and listening to our

"Hiding up? Well, I like that! I'd been out here for half an hour or
more when you girls came to this end of the piazza."

"What in the world have you been doing for an hour in a hammock? I
didn't know as you could keep still so long. Oh, you've got a book. Let
me see it."

"You wouldn't care anything about it; it's a boy's book."

"Let me see it."

Will held up the book.

"Oh, 'Jack Hall'!"

"Of course, I knew you wouldn't care anything for a book that's full of
boy's sports," returned Will.

"I know one girl that does," responded Dora, laughing and nodding her

"Who is she?" asked Will, looking incredulous.

"'T ain't me," answered Dora, more truthfully than grammatically.

"No, I guess not; and I guess you don't know any such girl."

Dora wheeled around and called, "Tilly, Tilly Morris! Come here and
prove to this conceited, contradicting boy that I'm telling the truth."

"Oh, it's Tilly Morris, eh?" sung out Will.

"Yes," answered Tilly, turning and looking down at the occupant of the
hammock; "I think 'Jack Hall' is the jolliest kind of a book. I've read
it twice."

Will jerked himself up into a sitting posture, as he ejaculated in
pleased astonishment, -

"Come, I say now!"

"Yes," went on Tilly; "I think it's one of the best books I ever
read, - that part about the boat-race I've read over three or four

"Well, your head _is_ level," cried Will, sitting up still straighter
in the hammock, and regarding Tilly with a look of respect.

"Because I don't care anything for Boston's grand folks and do care for
'Jack Hall'?" laughed Tilly.

"Yes, that's about it," responded Will, with a little grin. "I'm so sick
and tired," he went on, "hearing about 'swells' and money. The best
fellow I know at school is quite poor; and one of the worst of the lot
is what you'd call a swell, and has no end of money."

"There are all kinds of swells, Master Willie. Why, you know perfectly
well that you belong to the swells yourself," retorted Dora.

"I don't!" growled Will.

"Well, I should just like to hear what your cousin Frances would say to

"Oh, Fan!" cried Will, contemptuously.

"If you don't think much of the old Wentworth name - "

"I do think much of it," interrupted Will. "I think so much of it that I
want to live up to it. The old Wentworths were splendid fellows, some of
'em; and all of 'em were jolly and generous and independent. There
wasn't any sneaking little brag and snobbishness in 'em. They 'd have
cut a fellow dead that had come around with that sort of stuff;" and
sixteen-year-old Will nodded his head with an emphatic movement that
showed his approval of this trait in his ancestors.

Dora looked at him curiously; then with a faint smile she said, -

"Your cousin Frances is so proud of those old Wentworths. She's often
told me how grandly they lived, and she's so pleased that her name
Frances is the name of one of the prettiest of the Governor's wives."

"Yes; and one of the prettiest, and I dare say one of the best of 'em,
was a servant-girl in Governor Benning Wentworth's kitchen, and he
married her out of it. Did Fan ever tell you that?" and Will chuckled.

Amy Robson stared at Will with amazement as she exclaimed, -

"Well, I never saw such a queer boy as you are, - to run your own family

"I'm not running 'em down. 'Tisn't running 'em down to say that one of
'em married Martha Hilton. Martha Hilton was a nice girl, though she was
poor and had to work in a kitchen. Plenty of nice girls - farmers'
daughters - worked in that way in those old times; the New England
histories tell you that."

Not one of the girls made any comment or criticism upon this statement,
for Will Wentworth was known to be well up in history; but after a
moment or two of silence, Dora burst forth in this wise, -

"You may talk as you like. Will Wentworth, but you know perfectly well
that you don't think a servant-girl is as good as you are."

"If you mean that I don't think she is of the same class, of course I
don't. She may be a great deal better than I am in other ways, for all
that. In those old days, though, the servant-girls weren't the kind we
have now; they were Americans, - farmers' daughters, - most of 'em."

"Oh, well, you may talk and talk in this grand way, Willie Wentworth;
but you know where you belong, and when the Pelhams come, Tilly'll see
for herself that you are one of the same sort."

"As the Pelhams?"

"Well, what have you got to say about the Pelhams in that scornful way?"
asked Amy, rather indignantly.

"I'm not scornful. I was only going to set you right, and say that the
Pelhams are fashionable folks and the Wentworths are not."

"Oh, I'd like to have your cousin Fanny hear you say that. Fanny thinks
the Wentworths are fully equal to the Pelhams or any one else."

"They are."

"What do you mean, Will Wentworth? You just said - "

"I just said that the Pelhams were fashionable people and the Wentworths
were not, but that doesn't make the Pelhams any better than the
Wentworths. The Pelhams have got more money and like to spend it in that
way, - in being fashionable society folks, I suppose. There are lots of
people who have as much and more money, who won't be fashionable, - they
don't like it."

"Your cousin Fanny says - "

"Fanny's a snob. It makes me sick to hear her talk sometimes. If she
were here now, she'd be full of these Pelhams, and as thick with 'em
when they came, whether they were nice or not. If they were ever so
nice, she'd snub 'em if they were not up in the world, - what you call
'swells.' She never got such stuff as that from the Wentworths."

"There are plenty of people like your cousin," spoke up Tilly, with
sudden emphasis and a fleeting glance at Agnes Brendon.

"Oh, now, Tilly, don't say that," cried Dora, in a funny little
wheedling tone, "don't now; you'll hurt some of our feelings, for we
shall think you mean one of us, and you can't mean that, Tilly
dear," - the wheedling tone taking on a droll, merry accent, - "you can't,
for you know how independent and high-minded we all are, - how incapable
of such meanness!"

"I wouldn't trust this high-mindedness," retorted Tilly, wrinkling up
her forehead.

"Now, Tilly, you don't mean that, - you don't mean that you've come all
the way from naughty New York to find such dreadful faults in nice,
primmy New England. The very dogs here are above such things. Look at
Punch there making friends with that little plebeian yellow dog."

"And look at Dandy barking at everybody who isn't well dressed," laughed
Tilly, pointing to a handsome collie, who was vigorously giving voice to
his displeasure at the approach of a workman in shabby clothing.

The Robson girls and Will Wentworth joined in Tilly's laugh; but Agnes
Brendon, who could never see a joke, looked disgusted, and glancing at
the little yellow dog, asked petulantly, -

"Whose dog is it?"

"It belongs to the girl who sits at the corner table," answered Will
Wentworth, "and its name is Pete. I heard the girl call him this

"What a horrid, vulgar name!" exclaimed Agnes. "It suits the dog,
though; and the people, I suppose, are - "

"Oh, Agnes, look at that horrid worm on your dress!"

Agnes jumped up in a panic, screaming, "Where, where?"

Dora, bending down to brush off the smallest of small caterpillars,
whispered, -

"The girl who owns the yellow dog is in the other hammock. I just saw
her, and she can hear every word you say."

"I don't care if she does hear," said Agnes, without troubling herself
to lower her voice. "You needn't have frightened me with your horrid
worm story, just for that."

Will Wentworth, as he heard this, fell backward into his reclining
position, with an explosive laugh. The next minute he sprang out of the
hammock, and, tucking "Jack Hall" under his arm, was up and off, giving
a sidelong look as he went at the other hammock, which, though only a
few rods away, was half hidden by the foliage of the two low-growing
trees between which it hung. Meeting Tilly and the Robson girls as he
ran around the corner of the house, he said breathlessly, -

"Look here; that girl must have heard everything that we've said."

"Well, there wasn't anything said that concerned her, until Agnes began
about the yellow dog; and I stopped that," said Dora, gleefully.

"She may be acquainted with the Pelhams, - how do we know?" exclaimed
Will, ruefully.

"The Pelhams!" cried Dora and Amy, in one breath.

"Yes, how do we know?" repeated Will.

"That girl who sits over at the corner table with that stuffy old woman,
acquainted with the Pelhams! Oh, Will, if Agnes could hear you!" cried
Dora, with a shout of laughter.

"Well, I can't see what there is to laugh at," broke in Will, huffily.
"Why shouldn't she and the stuffy old woman, as you call her, know the
Pelhams? She's a nice-looking girl, a first-rate looking girl. What's
the matter with her?"

"Matter? I don't know that anything is the matter, except that she
doesn't look like the sort of girl who would be an acquaintance of the
Pelhams. She doesn't look like their kind, you know. She wears the
plainest sort of dresses, - just little straight up and down frocks of
brown or drab, or those white cambric things, - they are more like
baby-slips than anything; and her hats are just the same, - great flat
all-round hats, not a bit of style to them; and she's a girl of fourteen
or fifteen certainly. Do you suppose people of the Pelhams' kind dress
like that?"

Will gave a gruff little sound half under his breath, as he asked
sarcastically, -

"How do people of the Pelham kind dress?"

"Oh, like Dora and Amy, and especially like Agnes, - in the height of the
fashion, you know," Tilly cried laughingly.

"Now, Tilly," expostulated Dora, "neither Amy nor I overdress. We wear
what all girls of our age - girls who are almost young ladies - wear, and
I'm sure you wear the same kind of things."

"Not quite, Dora. I'll own, though, I would if I could; but there's such
a lot of us at home that the money gives out before it goes all 'round,"
said Tilly, frankly, yet rather ruefully.

"I'm sure you look very nice," said Dora, politely. Amy echoed the
polite remark, while Will, eying the three with an attempt at a critical
estimate, thought to himself, "They don't look a bit nicer than that
girl at the corner table."

But Will was too wise to give utterance to this thought. He knew how it
would be received; he knew that the three would laugh at him and say,
"What does a boy know about girl's clothes?"

In the mean time, while all this was going on, what was that girl who
had suggested the talk, that girl who sat at the corner table in the
dining room and who was now lying in a hammock, - what was she doing,
what was she thinking?


She was lying looking up through the green branches of the trees. She
had been reading, but her book was now closed, and she was lying quietly
looking up at the blue sky between the branches. Her thoughts were not
quite so quiet as her position would seem to indicate. She had, as Will
Wentworth had said, heard all that talk about the Pelhams. Whatever her
class in life, she was certainly a delicate and honorable young girl;
for at the very first, when she found that it was a talk between a party
of friends, and they were unconscious of a stranger's near neighborhood,
she had done her best to make her presence known to them by various
little coughs and ahems, and once or twice by decided movements, and
readjustments of her position. As no attention was paid to these
demonstrations, she finally concluded that none of the party cared
whether they were overheard or not, and so settled herself comfortably
back again into her place, and opened her book.

But she could not read much. These talkers were all about her own age,
and if they did not care that a stranger was overhearing what they said,
she need not trouble herself any more; and it was quite certain she
found the talk amusing, for more than once a ripple of merriment would
dimple her face, and the laughter would nearly break forth from her
lips. Even at the last, when Agnes spoke so scornfully of the little
yellow dog, the girl seemed to be more amused than annoyed; and she
quite understood Miss Agnes's unfinished sentence, too, and Dora's
little device to make it unfinished.

It was then only that she saw that her attempts to inform the party of
her near neighborhood had been unsuccessful. She got rather red as this
knowledge was forced upon her; then, like Will Wentworth, she burrowed
down deeper than ever in the hammock, and gave way to a little burst of
laughter, though, unlike Will's, hers was no noisy explosion.

All the time she was watching Will and the girls as they took their way
across the lawn; and as soon as they disappeared from her view, she
jumped from the hammock, and with the fleetest of fleet footsteps ran
into the house. Coming down the long wide hall, she met the very person
she was going in search of, - the person that Dora Robson had called
"that stuffy old woman;" and trotting after her was the little yellow
dog, who had just been washed and brushed until his short hair shone
like satin.

"Oh, Pete, Pete, come here!" and Pete at this invitation flew to his
young mistress's arms with much demonstration of delight.

"And they called you a vulgar plebeian dog, Pete, just think of that!"
cried the girl, as she fondled the little animal.

"Who called him that, Peggy?" asked her companion, in a surprised tone.

"One of those girls at the table by the window. Oh, auntie, I want to
tell you about it. I was coming to find you on purpose to tell you.
Let's go in here, where we shall be all by ourselves," turning towards a
small unoccupied reception-room.

There, cosily ensconced beside her aunt, with the little yellow dog at
her feet, the dog's mistress told her story, with various exclamations
and interjections of, "Now wasn't it horrid of them?" and "Did you ever
know anything so ridiculous?" while auntie listened with great
interest, her only comment at the end being, -

"Well, they're not worth minding, Peggy, and I wouldn't act as if I'd
heard what they said when you meet them. I wouldn't take any notice of

"I? Why, it's they who won't take any notice of me, auntie. I'm like my
little dog, - a vulgar plebeian. What would they say, what would they
think, if they could hear you call me Peggy? - that's as bad as Pete,
isn't it?"

"I'm afraid it is;" and auntie laughed a little as she spoke.

The great summer hotel was not nearly full yet, for it was only the last
of June; and as Peggy went down to luncheon, her hand closely clasped in
"auntie's," whom should she meet face to face in the rather
deserted-looking hall but "those girls"? It was a little embarrassing
all round, and they all colored up very rosily as they met.

"I wonder where the boy is?" thought Peggy; "he and that New York girl
were nice." She glanced over her shoulder at this thought. There was the
boy; and - yes, he was standing at the office desk, carefully examining
the hotel register. "He's looking for our names!" flashed into Peggy's
mind, "and those girls set him up to it. I wonder what they'll say to
'Mrs. Smith and niece'? I know; they'll say, or the girl they call Agnes
will say, 'Smith, of course! I knew they had some such common name as

Something very like this comment did take place when Master Will, in
obedience to Dora Robson's request, brought the information that the
people at the corner table were Mrs. Smith and her niece. But if Peggy
could only have heard Will flash out upon this comment the further
information that very distinguished people had borne the name of
Smith, - could have heard him quote the famous English clergyman Sydney
Smith, whose wit and humor were so charming, - if Peggy could have heard
Will going on in this fashion, she would have thought he was very nice
indeed, and been quite delighted with his independent outspokenness.

Agnes, however, was anything but delighted. She was, in fact, very angry
with Will by this time, and what she called his meddlesome, domineering
airs, and quite determined to let him know at the very first opportunity
that she was not in the least to be influenced by his opinions.

The opportunity presented itself sooner than she expected. It was just
after luncheon, and a couple of Indians had come up from their
neighboring summer camp with a load of baskets for sale.

Dora and Tilly, with Mrs. Brendon and Agnes and Amy, went out to them at
once. Others soon followed, and a brisk bargaining began. When the
Indian woman held up a beautiful little basket skilfully woven to
imitate shells, there was a general exclamation of pleasure, and one
voice cried out with enthusiasm, "Oh, how lovely!" and the owner of the
voice reached forth to take the basket in her hand. Agnes Brendon,
turning quickly, saw that it was Mrs. Smith's niece.

"The idea of that girl pushing herself forward like this!" was Agnes's
whispered remark to Amy.

"Hush: she'll hear you," whispered back Amy.

"I don't care," answered Agnes, at the same time crowding herself to the
front and inquiring the price of the basket, with the determination to
get possession of it before any one else had a chance. But when the
price - two dollars - was named, Mrs. Brendon pronounced it exorbitant,
and offered half the sum, never doubting its acceptance. The Indian
woman, however, shook her head with an air of grim decision; and at that
very moment, catching sight of Mrs. Smith and her niece, she nodded
smilingly, repeated the price, and held the basket up again;

"Yes, yes, I'll take it," called out Peggy, nodding and smiling
responsively; and the next instant the basket was in her hands.

Agnes, not only disappointed, but deeply mortified and angry, turned
hastily to Dora Robson, and gave vent to her feelings by remarking in a
perfectly clear undertone, -

"The worst of a place like this is that you meet such common people,
with nothing to recommend them but their money."

Dora and Amy flushed with annoyance at this speech; but Tilly was so
disgusted and indignant that she broke away from them all with an
impatient exclamation, and started off across the lawn towards the
house. Halfway across she met Will Wentworth, with Tom Raymond, - a great
chum of his, who had just arrived by the noon boat.

"Hullo, what's up, what's the matter?" asked Will, as he perceived the
expression of Tilly's face.

Tilly stopped, and in a few graphic words told her story, winding up
with, "Wasn't it horrid of Agnes?"

"Horrid? It was beastly," sputtered Will. "_She_ to call people common!"

"But that girl is not common," said Tilly. "She may belong to people who
have just made a lot of money, - for that's what Agnes meant to fling
out, - but there isn't any vulgar common show of it. Look at her, how
plainly she's dressed, and how quiet she is."

"Wonder what Agnes is up to now? Let's go and see," said Will, wheeling
about and nodding to Tilly and Tom to follow.

As they came along together, Will a little ahead, Tom Raymond was quite
silent until they approached the group collected around the Indians;
then he suddenly ejaculated, "Well, I never!"

"What? What do you mean? - what - who do you see?" asked Tilly, very much
surprised at this outbreak.

"Is that the girl - the Smith girl you were telling about - there by the
tree - holding a basket?" asked Tom.

"Yes; why - do you know her?"

"N-o - but - I was thinking - she doesn't look common, does she?"

"Of course she doesn't, only plainly dressed."

"Yes, that's all;" and Tom gave a little odd chuckling laugh.

"How queer Tom Raymond is!" thought Tilly. She thought he was queerer
still, as she caught his furtive glances toward that Smith girl.
Presently Miss Tilly saw that the Smith girl was regarding Tom with
rather a puzzled observation.

"I see how it is," reflected Miss Tilly; "they have met before
somewhere, and Tom doesn't want to know her now. He thinks she isn't
fine enough for this Boston set, though he owns that she doesn't look
common. Oh, I do believe that Will Wentworth is the only one here who
has any sense or heart."

As Tilly arrived at this conclusion of her reflections, Will came
running up to her.

"Come," he said, "there's no fun here. Let's go and have a game of

"But where's Agnes? I thought you wanted to see what she was doing."

"She's gone off in a huff because I asked her if she'd bought any
baskets," answered Will, grinning. Tilly laughed, and Tom Raymond gave
another odd little chuckle. Then the three strolled away to the tennis
ground. As they were passing the rustic bench under the tree where Mrs.
Smith and her niece were sitting, Tilly took a sudden resolution, and,
stopping abruptly, said, -

"We're going to have a game of tennis; won't you join us, Miss - Miss

The girl looked up with a smile, hesitated a moment, and then accepted
the invitation. Will, nodding to Tilly a surprised and pleased approval
of her action, started off ahead of the others to see if the tennis
ground was occupied. As he turned the corner, he met Dora Robson with a
racket in her hand.

"Oh," she cried, "here you are! I was just coming after you, for Amy and
I have got to go in, - mamma has sent for us, and Agnes was so
disappointed, - now it's all right, for there's Tilly, and - what
luck - Tom Raymond; he's such a splendid player, and you can - " But Dora
stopped, open-mouthed and wide-eyed. Who - who was that behind Tilly?


As Agnes, standing waiting upon the tennis-ground where Dora had left
her, suddenly caught sight of Tom Raymond, her heart gave a little throb
of exultation. Tom Raymond was the best tennis-player she knew. To have
him for her partner would be delightful, and she went forward with the

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Online LibraryNora PerryA Flock of Girls and Boys → online text (page 1 of 14)