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Blue Bonnet in Boston; or, Boarding-School Days at Miss Norths


  Produced by Mark C. Orton, Linda McKeown, Jacqueline Jeremyand the Online Distributed Proofreading Team athttps://www.pgdp.net

  BLUE BONNET IN BOSTON

  OR, BOARDING-SCHOOL DAYS AT MISS NORTH'S

  "SHE WRENCHED THE WHIP FROM ALEC'S HAND." (_See page308._)]

  The Blue Bonnet Series

  BLUE BONNET IN BOSTON Or, Boarding-school Days at Miss North's

  BY CAROLINE E. JACOBS AND LELA H. RICHARDS

  A SEQUEL TO A TEXAS BLUE BONNET AND BLUE BONNET'S RANCH PARTY

  _Illustrated by_ JOHN GOSS

  THE PAGE COMPANY BOSTON: PUBLISHERS

  _Copyright, 1914_ BY THE PAGE COMPANY

  _Entered at Stationers' Hall, London_ _All rights reserved_ Made in U. S. A.

  First Impression, August, 1914 Second Impression, November, 1914 Third Impression, March, 1915 Fourth Impression, August, 1915 Fifth Impression, May, 1916 Sixth Impression, April, 1917 Seventh Impression, March, 1918 Eighth Impression, February, 1919 Ninth Impression, April, 1919 Tenth Impression, March, 1920 Eleventh Impression, September, 1921

  PRINTED BY C. H. SIMONDS COMPANY BOSTON, MASS., U. S. A.

  CONTENTS

  CHAPTER PAGE

  I. THE WAIL OF THE WE ARE SEVENS 1 II. A WEEK-END 20 III. IN BOSTON 40 IV. A SURPRISE 54 V. BOARDING-SCHOOL 74 VI. NEW FRIENDS 98 VII. IN TROUBLE 117 VIII. PENANCE 134 IX. WOODFORD 153 X. UNDER A CLOUD 172 XI. THE CLOUD LIFTS 191 XII. INITIATED 208 XIII. SUNDAY 227 XIV. SETTLEMENT WORK 239 XV. A HARVARD TEA 255 XVI. ANTICIPATIONS 274 XVII. THE GATHERING OF THE CLANS 294 XVIII. KITTY'S COTILLION 313 XIX. A SURPRISE PARTY 333 XX. THE JUNIOR SPREAD 344 XXI. THE LAMBS' FROLIC 359 XXII. COMMENCEMENT 377

  LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

  PAGE

  "SHE WRENCHED THE WHIP FROM ALEC'S HAND" (_See page 308_) _Frontispiece_

  "BLUE BONNET TOOK THE MIRROR AND LOOKED AT HERSELF FROM ALL ANGLES" 140

  "THE GHOST IN THE CENTRE OF THE GROUP ROSE" 216

  "GABRIEL LOOKED UP IN DISDAIN" 245

  "SHE WAS HOLDING ON TO UNCLE CLIFF'S COAT LAPELS" 288

  "SHE WAS OONAH, THE BEWITCHING LITTLE IRISH MAIDEN" 357

  Blue Bonnet in Boston

  CHAPTER I

  THE WAIL OF THE WE ARE SEVENS

  Blue Bonnet raised the blind of the car window, which had been drawn allthe afternoon to shut out the blazing sun, and took a view of the flyinglandscape. Then she consulted the tiny watch at her wrist and sat upwith a start.

  "Grandmother!" she said excitedly, "we'll soon be in Woodford; that is,in just an hour. We're on time, you know. Hadn't we better be gettingour things together?"

  Mrs. Clyde straightened up from the pillows, which Blue Bonnet hadarranged comfortably for her afternoon nap, and peered out at therolling hills and green meadow-lands.

  "I think we have plenty of time, Blue Bonnet," she said, smiling intothe girl's eager face. "But perhaps we would better freshen up a bit.You are sure we are on time?"

  "Yes, I asked the conductor when I went back to see Solomon at the laststation. Four-twenty sharp, at Woodford, he told Solomon, and Solomonlicked his hand with joy. Poor doggie! I don't believe he appreciatesthe value of travel, even if he has seen Texas and New York and Boston.He loathes the baggage-car, though I must say the men all along the wayhave been perfectly splendid to him. But then, any one would fall inlove with Solomon, he's such a dear."

  Mrs. Clyde recalled the five dollar bill she had witnessed Mr. Ashe passto the baggage-man at the beginning of the journey, and the money shehad given by his instruction along the way, and wondered how muchSolomon's real worth had contributed to his care.

  "I'm so glad we're arriving in the afternoon," Blue Bonnet said, as shegathered up magazines and various other articles that littered thesection. "There's something so flat about getting anywhere in themorning--nothing to do but sit round waiting for trunks that have beendelayed, and wander about the house. I wonder if Aunt Lucinda told thegirls we were coming?"

  Mrs. Clyde fancied not. A quiet home-coming after so strenuous a summerwas much to be desired.

  Blue Bonnet and the We Are Sevens had parted company in New York severalweeks before, the girls going on to Woodford in care of the General, inorder not to miss the first week of school.

  The stay in New York had been particularly gratifying to Blue Bonnet,for there had been ample time while waiting for Aunt Lucinda to arrivefrom her summer's outing in Europe, to do some of the things left undoneon her last visit. A day at the Metropolitan Museum proved a delight;the shops fascinating--especially Tiffany's, where Blue Bonnet spenthours over shining trays, mysterious designs in monograms, and antiquegold settings, leaving an order that quite amazed Grandmother Clyde,until she learned that the purchase was for Uncle Cliff.

  Then there had been a delightful week with the Boston relatives, AuntLucinda going straight to Woodford to open the house and make thingscomfortable for her mother's arrival.

  Cousin Tracy, as on that other memorable visit, had proved an idealhost. To be sure, a motor car had been substituted for the sightseeingbus so dear to Blue Bonnet's heart, but she found it, on the whole,quite as enjoyable, and confided to Cousin Tracy as they sped throughthe crooked little streets or walked through the beloved Common, thatshe liked Boston ever so much better than New York, it seemed so niceand countrified. There was a second visit to Bunker Hill and theLibrary, to which Blue Bonnet brought fresh enthusiasm, more stories ofCousin Tracy's coins and medals, and so the days passed all too swiftly.

  "Well, at last!" Blue Bonnet exclaimed, as the train began to slackenspeed and the familiar "Next stop Woodford" echoed through the car."Here we are, Grandmother, home again!" She was at the door before thecar came to a standstill.

  "Doesn't look as exciting as it did when Uncle Cliff and I arrived inthe Wanderer, does it?" Blue Bonnet's eyes swept the almost desertedstation.

  Miss Clyde stood at the end of the long platform, her eyes turnedexpectantly toward the rear Pullman, with Denham, the coachman, at arespectful distance.

  Blue Bonnet sprang from the car steps, greeted Aunt Lucindaaffectionately, shook hands with Denham and rushed for the baggage-carto release Solomon.

  "He's perfectly wild to see you, Aunt Lucinda," she called back, as sheran toward the car--a compliment which Solomon himself verified a momentlater with joyful leaps and yelps and much wagging of tail.

  "My, but it seems nice to get home," Blue Bonnet said as she sank backcosily in the carriage and heaved a sigh of content. The sigh shamed hera little. It seemed, somehow, disloyal to Uncle Cliff and Texas. She satup straight and turned her head away from the houses with their trimorderly dooryards and well-kept hedges, and, for a moment, fixed hermind with passionate loyalty on the lonely wind-swept stretches of hernative state; the battered and weatherbeaten ranch-house, Benita--Buto
nly for a moment. The green rolling hills, the giant arching elms,Grandmother's stately house just coming into view, proved too alluring,and salving her conscience with the thought that it was her own dearmother's country she had at last learned to love, gave herself up to thefull enjoyment of her surroundings.

  Katie and faithful Delia were awaiting the arrival of the family on theveranda, their joy at the reunion showing in every line of their happyfaces. Blue Bonnet shook hands with them cordially, deposited a load ofmagazines and wraps in Delia's willing arms and ran in to the house.

  In the sitting-room tea was ready to be served. Blue Bonnet curled up inone of the deep armchairs and eyed the table appreciatively. How good itlooked--the thin slices of bread and butter, the fresh marmalade, thewonderful Clyde cookies. She leaned back and smiled contentedly.

  "Come, Blue Bonnet," Miss Clyde said, entering the room followed byDelia with a brass kettle of steaming water, "make yourself tidyquickly. Tea is all ready."

  "All right, Aunt Lucinda, I sha'n't be a minute, I'm quite famished,"and to prove the fact Blue Bonnet helped herself to a handful ofcookies on her way out of the room.

  Aunt Lucinda cast an inquiring glance in her mother's direction.

  "I fear you will find Blue Bonnet a bit spoiled, Lucinda," Mrs. Clydesaid with some hesitancy. "But we must not be too severe with her. Thegirls have led a wild, carefree existence all summer. I have done mybest to look after them carefully, but I found seven rather a handful."

  Something in Mrs. Clyde's tone made her daughter turn and look at herclosely. Was it imagination, or did she seem unusually fatigued? MissClyde had often wondered during the summer if the responsibility of somany girls had not been too much of a tax on her mother's strength andpatience, but her letters had been so cheerful, so uncomplaining, thatshe had tried to put the thought out of her mind, attributing it tooveranxiety.

  Blue Bonnet's entrance prevented further questioning.

  "I think, if you don't mind, Grandmother, I'll run over and see theGeneral a minute. I promised Alec to look after him," Blue Bonnet said,putting down her tea-cup.

  "That would be very nice, Blue Bonnet," Mrs. Clyde answered with a nodand a smile. "The General is going to miss Alec very much this winter."

  As Blue Bonnet passed her Grandmother she stooped and putting her armround her shoulder gave her a gentle hug. Mrs. Clyde reached up andpatted the girl's face tenderly. Whatever had been her care, love hadlightened the burden, there could be no doubt of that.

  "You can't think what a trump she's been, Aunt Lucinda," Blue Bonnetsaid, straightening the bow at her grandmother's neck. "A regular brick!Why, she's had all the girls at her feet this blessed summer."

  "It would have been more to the point if I had had them in hand," hergrandmother replied; making haste to add, as she met Blue Bonnet'spuzzled eyes, "not but that they were good girls, very good girlsindeed."

  Blue Bonnet whistled to Solomon and went out of the front door, bangingit carelessly. Miss Clyde looked annoyed.

  "I am afraid we are going to have to begin all over again with BlueBonnet," she said with some concern. "She seems so hoydenish. I noticedit immediately."

  "It is a good deal the exuberance of youth, Lucinda. Surplus energy hasto be worked off somehow. We must be patient with her."

  "I have been thinking," Miss Clyde replied, "that it would be wise notto enter Blue Bonnet in the Boston school immediately. If we could keepher with us until after the holidays we could perhaps interest her insome home duties--the girls will all be in school, and we could have hermore to ourselves, and, perhaps, smooth down some of these roughcorners."

  Mrs. Clyde looked wistful.

  "I shall miss the dear child so," she said. "I wish we might keep herwith us a bit longer. Boarding-school will be the beginning of a longbreak, I fear."

  "It is because of the association that I particularly wish her to enterMiss North's school. She will meet refined girls from some of our oldNew England families, and the influence cannot fail to be helpful. Ihope she will not be tempted to tell them that her grandmother is abrick," Miss Clyde added as an afterthought, but her smile was indulgentrather than critical.

  "Girls are much the same the world over," her mother answered with thewisdom of experience. "Blue Bonnet is very like her mother. She was agreat romp, but she passed the hoydenish period in safety, so will BlueBonnet; never fear."

  "She must be taught order and system; and a little domestic scienceunder Katie might not come amiss, since she will some day be at the headof a household," Miss Clyde went on, and her mother signified approval."Then there is mending and darning. On the whole, I think the nextthree months might be made very profitable to Blue Bonnet right here athome. I am not at all sure but that too much emphasis is given to thecultural side of education, and too little to the domestic these days. Agirl to be well educated should be well rounded."

  After dinner, when the fire in the grate had been lighted--for theautumn evenings were beginning to bring chill to the air--and the familygathered for an hour's chat before bed, Miss Clyde broached the subjectto Blue Bonnet.

  "How would you like to continue your vacation for three months longer,Blue Bonnet, to stay on here with Grandmother and me until after theholidays?"

  "And have no studies at all?" Blue Bonnet interrupted, her eyes wideningwith surprise. "What a lark!"

  "Well, there would be duties," Miss Clyde admitted. "One could not bealtogether idle and keep happy."

  "We should like you to be our dear home girl for a while longer, BlueBonnet," Mrs. Clyde said gently. "It is going to be very hard to giveyou up."

  "But I shall be at home for the week-ends."

  "We hope so, dear, if it does not interfere too much with your studies.Sometimes there is distraction in change of scene and habit. When youenter Miss North's school, you will be under her supervision, notours--subject to her approval."

  A little pucker wrinkled Blue Bonnet's brow.

  "Shall I? Oh, dear, I do so hate being supervised. I mean by strangers,Grandmother. Will she be terribly strict, and--interfering?"

  "Not any more than will be for your interest and welfare."

  "Well, I reckon it will be all right. I want to do what you think bestfor me."

  Mrs. Clyde could not withheld the triumphant look that she turned towardher daughter. It said plainer than words, "you see how amenable she is,how sweet her nature."

  "And I could see a lot of the girls, even if they are in school. Perhapsthe Club could meet oftener."

  Miss Clyde was silent. Discretion and diplomacy often availed where hardand fast rules failed with Blue Bonnet. She could be led, easily--neverdriven.

  Miss Clyde's silence puzzled Blue Bonnet more than the unexpected newsthat she was to remain in Woodford another three months had done. Shewas unusually keen and alert, intuitive to a degree, and while AuntLucinda's manner was all that could be desired, she felt that she hadbeen a disappointment in some way. She rose a little wearily and goingto the piano ran her fingers over the keys.

  "Let us have a little music, dear, before we retire. It will seem goodto hear you play again," Mrs. Clyde said.

  Blue Bonnet drifted into one air after another listlessly, as if herthoughts were miles away from the keyboard over which her hands wanderedso prettily. The familiar melodies floated plaintively through the stillroom. She played half through an old favorite, then rose suddenly. Whenshe turned to her grandmother for her usual goodnight kiss her eyes werea little dim with tears. She struggled to hide them, and, excusingherself on the pretext of unpacking her trunks, started for the stairs.

  Miss Clyde had risen from her chair as Blue Bonnet rose from the piano.She waited until Blue Bonnet had said good night to her grandmother,then she put her arm affectionately over the girl's shoulder and pattedher reassuringly.

  "I hope our little girl is not going to be homesick," she said. "Therewill be much to do in the next three months--much that is pleasant. Someday soon you and I will run up to Boston an
d have a look at Miss North'sschool and find out something about its requirements. We shall have agood deal of shopping to do, too. Suitable frocks play as important apart at boarding-school as elsewhere."

  Miss Clyde smiled one of her rare sweet smiles, and Blue Bonnet felt asif a weight had been lifted from her heart.

  "Aunt Lucinda is a good deal of a dear," she said to herself, as sheperched on the window-seat in her bedroom and looked out into themoonlight. "She wants me to be happy. I suppose she doesn't alwaysunderstand me, any more than I do her. I reckon we'll have to sort oftake each other on faith." And lightly humming a little tune she jumpedup from the window-seat and plunged madly into the unpacking.

  "As long as this is Saturday, would you mind, Grandmother, if I had thegirls in this afternoon?" Blue Bonnet inquired at the breakfast-tablenext morning. And Mrs. Clyde replied:

  "Not at all, dear. They will be so busy in school during the week. Iwill see what Katie has planned for to-day, and, if she can manage it,you might ask them to lunch."

  A visit to the kitchen resulted favorably.

  "Oh, you're such a duck, Grandmother," Blue Bonnet assured her. "I'll'phone them right up," an operation which consumed the better part of anhour, since there was so much to relate after a separation of severalweeks.

  "I'll just run down to the barn and give Chula a lump of sugar and feedSolomon the first thing," Blue Bonnet said as she turned from thetelephone.

  "Have you made your room tidy?" Miss Clyde inquired, coming out in tothe hall at that moment.

  "Oh, dear, history repeats itself, doesn't it, Aunt Lucinda?" BlueBonnet's good-natured laugh was contagious. Miss Clyde smiled in spiteof herself.

  "I haven't made my bed yet, Aunt Lucinda, if that's what you mean. Ihate making it up warm--it's not sanitary, is it? You've said soyourself, often."

  Miss Clyde's smile deepened. Blue Bonnet's sudden conversion to the lawsof hygiene was too amusing.

  "I fancy two hours of this autumn air will have restored its freshness,"she said. "Have you finished your unpacking?"

  Blue Bonnet recalled the piles of fluffy whiteness that covered chairsand window-seat, and, turning, went up-stairs quickly.

  It took some time to get the room in proper order. It might, not havetaken so long if the view from the south window had not been sopleasant. Out in the garden the dahlias and coreopsis nodded andbeckoned coaxingly, the soft wind stirred the leaves in the apple-trees,and Solomon frisked and rolled with glee in the sunshine.

  At last it was finished, at least the furniture had been relieved of itsburdens, and the bed made in the most approved fashion. Blue Bonnet wasfree to join Solomon, and to gather a great bunch of the golden-huedcoreopsis to adorn the lunch table. She was thinking of a little plan,as she cut the long stems and arranged the flowers with taste andprecision; a little plan she had barely time to execute before KittyClark's familiar, "Ooh-hoo, Ooh-hoo!" echoed from somewhere in thevicinity of the front gate.

  "I suppose I'm loads too early, but I could hardly wait to see you, BlueBonnet," was her cheery greeting. "We've all been pining away for you.New York must have been fascinating to have kept you so long."

  Blue Bonnet admitted that it was. She even opened her lips to tell ofsome of its enchantments, but Kitty went on irrelevantly:

  "You've missed a heap at school. I suppose you can catch up, but you'llhave to dig in, I can tell you. The Czar"--Kitty's name for Mr.Hunt--"isn't bestowing any more favors than usual."

  Blue Bonnet's first impulse was to tell Kitty that she would not be backin school with the We Are Sevens this year, but she thought better of itand waited.

  Kitty rambled on.

  "Latin's a perfect fright and--oh, Blue Bonnet, what, do you think? MissRankin's engaged! Yes, she is, honest, truly. She's got a ring, abeauty! She wore it turned in the first two weeks, but now she's pickedup courage and turned it round so everybody can see it. She's going toquit after Christmas. They're going to live in Boston. He's alawyer--Sarah Blake's father knows him, and says he's right nice."

  Kitty's patronizing air nettled Blue Bonnet as much as it amused her.

  "Why shouldn't he be nice?" she inquired a bit sharply. "Miss Rankin'snice herself."

  The remark went over Kitty's head, and the appearance of Sarah Blakedown the roadway put a stop to the gossip.

  It was the gayest kind of a little party that made the rafters in Mrs.Clyde's dining-room ring with laughter an hour later. Blue Bonnet hadinsisted upon Grandmother and Aunt Lucinda lunching with them, so Mrs.Clyde sat at one end of the broad board and Miss Clyde at the other.

  Blue Bonnet's coreopsis had been rearranged, and put in a charming brownbasket. From beneath the basket, and quite concealed from sight, wereseven little boxes attached to yellow ribbons which ran to each of theWe Are Sevens' plates.

  Blue Bonnet could scarcely wait for the dessert to be cleared awaybefore she told the girls to pull the ribbons.

  When the boxes came in view there was a scream of delight.

  Nimble-fingered Kitty was the first to open hers, and the rest were notlong following suit, revealing to the enraptured gaze quaint and oddlydesigned gold rings, the monogram of the We Are Sevens forming a seal.

  There was a rush for Blue Bonnet's side of the table, where that youngperson was deluged with caresses and many expressions of gratitude.

  "It's Uncle Cliff--he did it," Blue Bonnet managed to say when she couldextricate herself. "That is, he suggested it--gave me the money--and Ihad them made at Tiffany's."

  There was a chorus of praise for Uncle Cliff, which must have made hisears ring to the point of deafness, even in far-off Texas.

  Amanda made a suggestion.

  "Let's go up-stairs in the clubroom and organize a Sorority. W. A. S.looks kind of Greeky in a monogram. We can have rings instead of pinsfor our insignia."

  The idea met with instant favor. There was another rush for the stairs,and a few moments later the Club members were comfortably settled intheir quarters with Amanda in the Chair.

  Amanda was not quite clear as to the manner of procedure, but shegracefully waved a tack hammer found on the window-sill, in lieu of agavel, and demanded order.

  When quiet at last descended upon the disturbed and noisy assemblage,Blue Bonnet asked if she might have the floor. She looked appealingly atthe Chair.

  Debby rose to a point of order.

  "We've got to elect officers," she said. "Amanda hasn't been elected. Imove that Blue Bonnet Ashe be our chairman."

  This Was the very opportunity Blue Bonnet wanted for her announcement.She made Debby a profound bow, pushing Amanda out of the wayunceremoniously.

  "I thank you all for this very great honor," she began, clearing herthroat in the most professional manner. She had once attended a woman'sclub with Miss Clyde in Boston. "But owing to my absence from the citythe coming winter I--"

  There was a roar of protest from the Club members, en masse.

  "I shall be leaving you about the first of January--"

  This announcement prevented the further order of business. Cries of"What for? Where to? For how long?" assailed Blue Bonnet.

  She made her plans and prospects clear to them.

  At first the girls seemed stunned. Joy turned to lamentation. Therearose a chorus of wails, plaintive and doleful. They kept it up for sometime--in concert--with Sarah Blake looking on in awed silence, forlornand tearful, as if a real tragedy had descended upon her.

  Blue Bonnet took the tack hammer from Amanda's apathetic hand and rappedfor order.

  "I neglected to state," she said, "that I shall be at home for theweek-ends--at least I hope to be. I see no reason why the Club can't goon. I'm sure Grandmother would love to let you have this room when I'mnot here. Let's go on with the business. I nominate Sarah Blake forpresident. It takes brains and dignity to be the president of aSorority. Sarah has both."

  "Well, I like that!" Kitty exclaimed with some feeling. "I suppose therest of us have neither."

  "Now, d
on't get stuffy, Kitty. You know I'm never personal. I meant noreflection on anybody."

  "We can't organize a Sorority, anyhow," Kitty objected. "They only havethem in colleges and high schools."

  "I guess we can have one of our own if we want to," Amanda broke in. "Wecan originate one, can't we? Everything has to have a beginning, doesn'tit?"

  "Oh, I suppose you can call it what you like," Kitty said with a toss ofher head.

  There was some discussion, but Sarah finally received the majority voteand went in with flying colors.

  That evening, from her accustomed seat on the hearth rug before aglowing fire, Blue Bonnet told her grandmother of the afternoon'sexperiences.

  "The girls seem sorry to have me go away this winter," she said. "And,oh, Grandmother, you should have heard them wail when I told them."

  She leaned her head against her grandmother's knee and a little smilewrinkled the corners of her mouth.

  "I hate to leave them, too," she said. "They're such fun."

  Mrs. Clyde smoothed the girl's hair gently as she answered:

  "I want you to be happy, dear, but it can't all be fun. Aunt Lucinda hasa plan for you, which I think we will begin with Monday. You areentering your seventeenth year, now, Blue Bonnet, and there are dutiesand responsibilities which you can no longer evade."

  Blue Bonnet sighed unconsciously.

  "I suppose there are, Grandmother," she said, "but--couldn't we just putthem off until--well--until Monday?"

 
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