BETSY HAS A BIRTHDAY
 BETSY'S birthday was the ninth day of
September, and the Necronsett Valley Fair is always held from
the eighth to the twelfth. So it was decided that
Betsy should celebrate her birthday by going up to
Woodford, where the Fair was held. The Putneys weren't going
that year, but the people on the next farm, the
Wendells, said they could make room in their surrey for
the two little girls; for, of course, Molly was going,
too. In fact, she said the Fair was held partly
to celebrate her being six years old. This would happen
on the seventeenth of October. Molly insisted that that was
plenty close enough to the ninth of September to be
celebrated then. This made Betsy feel like laughing out, but
observing that the
Put-  neys only looked at each other with the faintest possible quirk in the corners
of their serious mouths, she understood that they were afraid
that Molly's feelings might be hurt if they laughed out
loud. So Betsy tried to curve her young lips to
the same kind and secret mirth.
And, I can't tell
you why, this effort not to hurt Molly's feelings made
her have a perfect spasm of love for Molly. She
threw herself on her and gave her a great hug
that tipped them both over on the couch on top
of Shep, who stopped snoring with his great gurgling snort,
wriggled out from under them, and stood with laughing eyes
and wagging tail, looking at them as they rolled and
giggled among the pillows.
"What dress are you going to
wear to the Fair, Betsy?" asked Cousin Ann. "And we
must decide about Molly's, too."
This stopped their rough-and-tumble fun
in short order, and they applied themselves to the serious
question of a toilet.
When the great day arrived and
the surrey drove away from the Wendells' gate, Betsy was
 in a fresh pink-and-white gingham which she had
helped Cousin Ann make, and plump Molly looked like something
good to eat in a crisp white little dimity, one
of Betsy's old dresses, with a deep hem taken in
to make it short enough for the little butter-ball. Because
it was Betsy's birthday, she sat on the front seat
with Mr. Wendell, and part of the time, when there
were not too many teams on the road, she drove,
herself. Mrs. Wendell and her sister filled the back seat
solidly full from side to side and made one continuous
soft lap on which Molly happily perched, her eyes shining,
her round cheeks red with joyful excitement. Betsy looked back
at her several times and thought how very nice Molly
looked. She had, of course, little idea how she herself
looked, because the mirrors at Putney Farm were all small
and high up, and anyhow they were so old and
greenish that they made everybody look very queer-colored. You looked
in them to see if your hair was smooth, and
that was about all you could stand.
 So it was a great surprise to Betsy later in the
morning, as she and Molly wandered hand in hand through
the wonders of Industrial Hall, to catch sight of Molly
in a full-length mirror as clear as water. She was
almost startled to see how faithfully reflected were the yellow
of the little girl's curls, the clear pink and white
of her face, and the blue of her soft eyes.
An older girl was reflected there also near Molly, a
dark-eyed, red-cheeked, sturdy little girl, standing very straight on two
strong legs, holding her head high and free, her dark
eyes looking out brightly from her tanned face. For an
instant Betsy gazed into those clear eyes and then . . . why,
gracious goodness! That was herself she was
looking at! How changed she was! How very, very different
she looked from the last time she had seen herself
in a big mirror! She remembered it well—out shopping with
Aunt Frances in a department store, she had caught sight
of a pale little girl with a thin neck, and
spindling legs half-hidden in the folds of Aunt Frances's skirts.
 didn't look even like the sister
of this browned, muscular, upstanding child who held Molly's hand
All this came into her mind and went
out again in a moment, for Molly caught sight of
a big doll in the next aisle and they hurried
over to inspect her clothing. The mirror was forgotten in
the many exciting sights and sounds and smells of their
first county fair.
The two little girls were to wander
about as they pleased until noon, when they were to
meet the Wendells in the shadow of Industrial Hall and
eat their picnic lunch together. The two parties arrived together
from different directions, having seen very different sides of the
Fair. The children were full of the merry-go-rounds, the balloon-seller,
the toy-venders, and the pop-corn stands, while the Wendells exchanged
views on the shortness of a hog's legs, the dip
in a cow's back, and the thickness of a sheep's
wool. The Wendells, it seemed, had met some cousins they
didn't expect to see,
 who, not knowing about
Betsy and Molly, had hoped that they might ride home
with the Wendells.
"Don't you suppose," Mrs. Wendell asked Betsy,
"that you and Molly could go home with the Vaughans?
They're here in their big wagon. You could sit on
the floor with the Vaughan children."
Betsy and Molly thought
this would be great fun, and agreed enthusiastically.
"All right then," said Mrs. Wendell. She called to a young man
who stood inside the building, near an open window: "Oh,
Frank, Will Vaughan is going to be in your booth
this afternoon, isn't he?"
"Yes, ma'am," said the young man.
"His turn is from two to four."
"Well, you tell
him, will you, that the two little girls who live
at Putney Farm are going to go home with them.
They can sit on the bottom of the wagon with
the Vaughan young ones."
"Yes, ma'am," said the young man,
 noticeable lack of interest in how
Betsy and Molly got home.
"Now, Betsy," said Mrs. Wendell,
"you go round to that booth at two and ask
Will Vaughan what time they're going to start and where
their wagon is, and then you be sure not to
keep them waiting a minute."
"No, I won't," said Betsy.
"I'll be sure to be there on time."
She and Molly still had twenty cents to spend out of the
forty they had brought with them, twenty-five earned by berry-picking
and fifteen a present from Uncle Henry. They now put
their heads together to see how they could make the
best possible use of their four nickels. Cousin Ann had
put no restrictions whatever on them, saying they could buy
any sort of truck or rubbish they could find, except
the pink lemonade. She said she had been told the
venders washed their glasses in that, and their hands, and
for all she knew their faces. Betsy was for merry-go-rounds,
but Molly yearned for a big red balloon; and while
buy-  ing that a man came by with toy dogs, little brown dogs with curled-wire tails.
He called out that they would bark when you pulled
their tails, and seeing the little girls looking at him
he pulled the tail of the one he held. It
gave forth a fine loud yelp, just like Shep when
his tail got stepped on. Betsy bought one, all done
up neatly in a box tied with blue string. She
thought it a great bargain to get a dog who
would bark for five cents. (Later on, when they undid
the string and opened the box, they found the dog
had one leg broken off and wouldn't make the faintest
squeak when his tail was pulled; but that is the
sort of thing you must expect to have happen to
you at a county fair.)
Now they had ten cents
left and they decided to have a ride apiece on
the merry-go-round. But, glancing up at the clock-face in
the tower over Agricultural Hall, Betsy noticed it was half-past
two and she decided to go first to the booth
where Will Vaughan was to be and find out what
time they would start for home. She
 found the booth with no difficulty, but William Vaughan was not
in it. Nor was the young man she had seen
before. There was a new one, a strange one, a
careless, whistling young man, with very bright socks, very yellow
shoes, and very striped cuffs. He said, in answer to
Betsy's inquiry: "Vaughan? Will Vaughan? Never heard the name," and
immediately went on whistling and looking up and down the
aisle over the heads of the little girls, who stood
gazing up at him with very wide, startled eyes. An
older man leaned over from the next booth and said:
"Will Vaughan? He from Hillsboro? Well, I heard somebody say
those Hillsboro Vaughans had word one of their cows was
awful sick, and they had to start right home that
Betsy came to herself out of her momentary daze
and snatched Molly's hand. "Hurry! quick! We must find the
Wendells before they get away!"
In her agitation (for she
was really very much frightened) she forgot how easily
terri-  fied little Molly was. Her alarm instantly sent
the child into a panic. "Oh, Betsy! Betsy! What will
we do!" she gasped, as Betsy pulled her along the
aisle and out of the door.
"Oh, the Wendells can't
be gone yet," said Betsy reassuringly, though she was not
at all sure she was telling the truth. She ran
as fast as she could drag Molly's fat legs, to
the horse-shed where Mr. Wendell had tied his horses
and left the surrey. The horse-shed was empty, quite
Betsy stopped short and stood still, her heart seeming
to be up in her throat so that she could
hardly breathe. After all, she was only ten that day,
you must remember. Molly began to cry loudly, hiding her
weeping face in Betsy's dress. "What will we do, Betsy!
What can we do!" she wailed.
Betsy did not
answer. She did not know what they would do! They
were eight miles from Putney Farm, far too much for
Molly to walk, and anyhow neither of them knew the
way. They had only ten cents left, and nothing
 to eat. And the only people they knew in
all that throng of strangers had gone back to Hillsboro.
"What will we do, Betsy?" Molly kept on crying out,
horrified by Betsy's silence and evident consternation.
The other child's
head swam. She tried again the formula which had helped
her when Molly fell into the Wolf Pit, and asked
herself, desperately, "What would Cousin Ann do if she were
here?" But that did not help her much now, because
she could not possibly imagine what Cousin Ann would do
under such appalling circumstances. Yes, one thing Cousin Ann would
be sure to do, of course; she would quiet Molly
first of all.
At this thought Betsy sat down on
the ground and took the panic-stricken little girl into her
lap, wiping away the tears and saying, stoutly, "Now, Molly,
stop crying this minute. I'll take care of you, of
course. I'll get you home all right."
"How'll you ever
do it?" sobbed Molly.
 "Everybody's gone and left us. We can't walk!"
"Never you mind how," said Betsy,
trying to be facetious and mock-mysterious, though her own under
lip was quivering a little. "That's my surprise party for
you. Just you wait. Now come on back to that
booth. Maybe Will Vaughan didn't go home with his folks."
She had very little hope of this, and only went
back there because it seemed to her a little less
dauntingly strange than every other spot in the howling wilderness
about her; for all at once the Fair, which had
seemed so lively and cheerful and gay before, seemed now
a horrible, frightening, noisy place, full of hurried strangers who
came and went their own ways, with not a glance
out of their hard eyes for two little girls stranded
far from home.
The bright-colored young man was no better
when they found him again. He stopped his whistling only
long enough to say, "Nope, no Will Vaughan anywhere around
these diggings yet."
 "We were going home with
the Vaughans," murmured Betsy, in a low tone, hoping for
some help from him.
"Looks as though you'd better go
home on the cars," advised the young man casually. He smoothed
his black hair back straighter than ever from his forehead
and looked over their heads.
"How much does it cost
to go to Hillsboro on the cars?" asked Betsy with
a sinking heart.
"You'll have to ask somebody else about
that," said the young man. "What I don't know about
this Rube state! I never was in it before." He
spoke as though he were very proud of the fact.
Betsy turned and went over to the older man who
had told them about the Vaughans.
Molly trotted at her
heels, quite comforted, now that Betsy was talking so competently
to grown-ups. She did not hear what they said, nor
try to. Now that Betsy's voice sounded all right she
had no more fears. Betsy would
 manage somehow.
She heard Betsy's voice again talking to the other man,
but she was busy looking at an exhibit of beautiful
jelly glasses, and paid no attention. Then Betsy led her
away again out of doors, where everybody was walking back
and forth under the bright September sky, blowing on horns,
waving plumes of brilliant tissue-paper, tickling each other with
peacock feathers, and eating pop-corn and candy out of paper
That reminded Molly that they had ten cents yet.
"Oh, Betsy," she proposed, "let's take a nickel of our
money for some pop-corn."
She was startled by Betsy's fierce
sudden clutch at their little purse and by the quaver
in her voice as she answered: "No, no, Molly. We've
got to save every cent of that. I've found out
it costs thirty cents for us both to go home
to Hillsboro on the train. The last one goes at
"We haven't got but ten," said Molly.
looked at her silently for a moment and then burst
out, "I'll earn the rest! I'll earn it
 somehow! I'll have to! There isn't any other way!"
right," said Molly quaintly, not seeing anything unusual in this.
"You can, if you want to. I'll wait for you here."
"No you won't!" cried Betsy, who had quite enough
of trying to meet people in a crowd. "No, you
won't! You just follow me every minute! I don't want
you out of my sight!"
They began to move forward
now, Betsy's eyes wildly roving from one place to another.
How could a little girl earn money at a county
fair! She was horribly afraid to go up and speak
to a stranger, and yet how else could she begin?
"Here, Molly, you wait here," she said. "Don't you budge
till I come back."
But alas! Molly had only a
moment to wait that time, for the man who was
selling lemonade answered Betsy's shy question with a stare and
a curt, "Lord, no! What could a young one like
you do for me?"
The little girls wandered on, Molly
 expectant, confident in Betsy; Betsy with
a very dry mouth and a very gone feeling. They
were passing by a big shed-like building now, where a
large sign proclaimed that the Woodford Ladies' Aid Society would
serve a hot chicken dinner for thirty-five cents. Of course
the sign was not accurate, for at half-past three, almost
four, the chicken dinner had long ago been all eaten
and in place of the diners was a group of
weary women moving languidly about or standing saggingly by a
great table piled with dirty dishes. Betsy paused here, meditated
a moment, and went in rapidly so that her courage
would not evaporate.
The woman with gray hair looked down
at her a little impatiently and said, "Dinner's all over."
"I didn't come for dinner," said Betsy, swallowing hard. "I
came to see if you wouldn't hire me to wash
your dishes. I'll do them for twenty-five cents."
laughed, looked from little Betsy to the great pile of
dishes, and said, turning
 away, "Mercy, child, if
you washed from now till morning, you wouldn't make a
hole in what we've got to do."
Betsy heard her
say to the other women, "Some young one wanting more
money for the side-shows."
Now, now was the moment to
remember what Cousin Ann would have done. She would certainly
not have shaken all over with hurt feelings nor have
allowed the tears to come stingingly to her eyes. So
Betsy sternly made herself stop doing these things. And Cousin
Ann wouldn't have given way to the dreadful sinking feeling
of utter discouragement, but would have gone right on to
the next place. So, although Betsy felt like nothing so much
as crooking her elbow over her face and crying as
hard as she could cry, she stiffened her back, took
Molly's hand again, and stepped out, heartsick within but very
steady (although rather pale) without.
She and Molly walked along
in the crowd again, Molly laughing and pointing out the
 pranks and antics of the young people, who
were feeling livelier than ever as the afternoon wore on.
Betsy looked at them grimly with unseeing eyes. It was
four o'clock. The last train for Hillsboro left in two
hours and she was no nearer having the price of
the tickets. She stopped for a moment to get her
breath; for, although they were walking slowly, she kept feeling
breathless and choked. It occurred to her that if ever
a little girl had had a more horrible birthday she
never heard of one!
"Oh, I wish I could, Dan!"
said a young voice near her. "But honest! Momma'd just
eat me up alive if I left the booth for
Betsy turned quickly. A very pretty girl with
yellow hair and blue eyes (she looked as Molly might
when she was grown up) was leaning over the edge
of a little canvas-covered booth, the sign of which announced
that home-made doughnuts and soft drinks were for sale there.
A young man, very flushed and gay, was pulling at
the girl's blue gingham sleeve. "Oh, come on, Annie. Just
one turn! The floor's
 elegant. You can keep
an eye on the booth from the hall! Nobody's going
to run away with the old thing anyhow!"
love to! But I got a great lot of dishes
to wash, too! You know Momma!" She looked longingly toward
the open-air dancing floor, out from which just then floated
a burst of brazen music.
"Oh, please!" said a
small voice. "I'll do it for twenty cents."
by the girl's elbow, all quivering earnestness.
"Do what, kiddie?"
asked the girl in a good-natured surprise.
"Everything!" said Betsy,
compendiously. "Everything! Wash the dishes, tend the booth; you can
go dance! I'll do it for twenty cents."
of the girl and the man met in high amusement.
"My! Aren't we up and coming!" said the man. "You're
most as big as a pint-cup, aren't you?" he said
The little girl flushed—she detested being laughed at—but
she looked straight into the
 laughing eyes. "I'm
ten years old today," she said, "and I can wash
dishes as well as anybody." She spoke with dignity.
young man burst out into a great laugh.
what?" he said to the girl, and then, "Say, Annie,
why not? Your mother won't be here for an hour.
The kid can keep folks from walking off with the
dope and . . . "
"I'll do the dishes,
too," repeated Betsy, trying hard not to mind being laughed
at, and keeping her eyes fixed steadily on the tickets
"Well, by gosh," said the young man, laughing.
"Here's our chance, Annie, for fair! Come along!"
laughed, too, out of high spirits. "Wouldn't Momma be crazy!"
she said hilariously. "But she'll never know. Here, you cute
kid, here's my apron." She took off her long apron
and tied it around Betsy's neck. "There's the soap, there's
the table. You stack the dishes up on that counter."
She was out of the little gate in the counter
 a twinkling, just as Molly, in answer
to a beckoning gesture from Betsy, came in. "Hello, there's
another one!" said the gay young man, gayer and gayer.
"Hello, button! What you going to do? I suppose when
they try to crack the safe you'll run at them
and bark and drive them away!"
Molly opened her sweet,
blue eyes very wide, not understanding a single word. The
girl laughed, swooped back, gave Molly a kiss, and disappeared,
running side by side with the young man toward the
Betsy mounted on a soap box and began
joyfully to wash the dishes. She had never thought that
ever in her life would she simply love to wash
dishes beyond anything else! But it was so. Her relief
was so great that she could have kissed the coarse,
thick plates and glasses as she washed them.
right, Molly; it's all right!" she quavered exultantly to Molly
over her shoulder. But as Molly had not (from the
moment Betsy took command) suspected that it was not all
 right, she only nodded and asked if she
might sit up on a barrel where she could watch
the crowd go by.
"I guess you could. I don't
know why not," said Betsy doubtfully. She lifted her up
and went back to her dishes. Never were dishes washed
"Two doughnuts, please," said a man's voice behind her.
Oh, mercy, there was somebody come to buy! Whatever should
she do? She came forward intending to say that the
owner of the booth was away and she didn't know
anything about . . . but the man laid down
a nickel, took two doughnuts, and turned away. Betsy gasped
and looked at the home-made sign stuck into the big
pan of doughnuts. Sure enough, it read "2 for 5."
She put the nickel up on a shelf and went
back to her dishwashing. Selling things wasn't so hard, she
As her hunted feeling of desperation relaxed she began
to find some fun in her new situation, and when
a woman with two little boys approached,
 she came forward
to wait on her, elated, important. "Two for five," she
said in a businesslike tone. The woman put down a
dime, took up four doughnuts, divided them between her sons,
"My!" said Molly, looking admiringly at Betsy's coolness
over this transaction. Betsy went back to her dishes, stepping
"Oh, Betsy, see! The pig! The big ox!" cried
Molly now, looking from her coign of vantage down the
wide, grass-grown lane between the booths.
Betsy craned her head
around over her shoulder, continuing conscientiously to wash and wipe
the dishes. The prize stock was being paraded around the
Fair; the huge prize ox, his shining horns tipped with
blue rosettes; the prize cows, with wreaths around their necks;
the prize horses, four or five of them as glossy
as satin, curving their bright, strong necks and stepping as
though on eggs, their manes and tails braided with bright
ribbon; and then, "Oh, Betsy, look at the pig!" screamed
again—  the smaller animals, the sheep, the
calves, the colts, and the pig, which waddled along with
Betsy looked as well as she could over
her shoulder . . . and in years to come
she can shut her eyes and see again in every
detail that rustic procession under the golden, September light.
But she looked anxiously at the clock. It was nearing five.
Oh, suppose the girl forgot and danced too long!
"Two bottles of ginger ale and half a dozen doughnuts," said
a man with a woman and three children.
feverishly among the bottles ranged on the counter, selected two
marked ginger ale, and glared at their corrugated tin stoppers.
How did you get them open?
"Here's your opener," said
the man, "if that's what you're looking for. Here, you
get the glasses and I'll open the bottles. We're in
kind of a hurry. Got to catch a train."
Well, they were not the only people who had
 to catch a train, Betsy thought sadly. They drank in
gulps and departed, cramming doughnuts into their mouths. Betsy wished
ardently that the girl would come back. She was now
almost sure that she had forgotten and would dance there
till nightfall. But there, there she came, running along, as
light-footed after an hour's dancing as when she had left
"Here you are, kid," said the young man,
producing a quarter. "We've had the time of our young
lives, thanks to you."
Betsy gave him back one of
the nickels that remained to her, but he refused it.
"No, keep the change," he said royally. "It was worth
"Then I'll buy two doughnuts with my extra nickel,"
"No, you won't," said the girl. "You'll take
all you want for nothing . . . Momma'll never
miss 'em. And what you sell here has got to
be fresh every day. Here, hold out your hands, both
"Some people came and bought things," said
 Betsy, happening to remember as she and Molly turned
away. "The money is on that shelf."
"Well, now!" said
the girl, "if she didn't take hold and sell things!
Say . . ."—she ran after Betsy and gave her
a hug—"you smart young one, I wish't I had a
little sister just like you!"
Molly and Betsy hurried along
out of the gate into the main street of the
town and down to the station. Molly was eating doughnuts
as she went. They were both quite hungry by this
time, but Betsy could not think of eating till she
had those tickets in her hand.
She pushed her quarter
and a nickel into the ticket-seller's window and said "Hillsboro"
in as confident a tone as she could; but when
the precious bits of paper were pushed out at her
and she actually held them, her knees shook under her
and she had to go and sit down on the
"My! Aren't these doughnuts good?" said Molly. "I never
in my life had enough doughnuts before!"
drew a long breath and began rather languidly to eat
one herself; she felt, all of a sudden, very, very
She was tireder still when they got out of
the train at Hillsboro Station and started wearily up the
road toward Putney Farm. Two miles lay before them, two
miles which they had often walked before, but never after
such a day as now lay back of them. Molly
dragged her feet as she walked and hung heavily on
Betsy's hand. Betsy plodded along, her head hanging, her eyes
all gritty with fatigue and sleepiness. A light buggy spun
round the turn of the road behind them, the single
horse trotting fast as though the driver were in a
hurry, the wheels rattling smartly on the hard road. The
little girls drew out to one side and stood waiting
till the road should be free again. When he saw
them the driver pulled the horse back so quickly it
stood almost straight up. He peered at them through the
twilight and then with a loud shout sprang over the
side of the buggy.
It was Uncle Henry—oh, goody, it
 Henry come to meet them! They
wouldn't have to walk any further!
But what was the
matter with Uncle Henry? He ran up to them, exclaiming,
"Are ye all right? Are ye all right?" He stooped
over and felt of them desperately as though he expected
them to be broken somewhere. And Betsy could feel that
his old hands were shaking, that he was trembling all
over. When she said, "Why, yes, Uncle Henry, we're all
right. We came home on the cars," Uncle Henry leaned
up against the fence as though he couldn't stand up.
He took off his hat and wiped his forehead and
he said—it didn't seem as though it could be Uncle
Henry talking, he sounded so excited—"Well,
well—well, by gosh! My!
Well, by thunder! Now! And so here ye are! And
you're all right! Well!"
He couldn't seem to stop
exclaiming, and you can't imagine anything stranger than an Uncle
Henry who couldn't stop exclaiming.
After they all got into
the buggy he quieted down a little and said, "Thunderation!
 we've had a scare! When the Wendells
come back with their cousins early this afternoon, they said
you were coming with the Vaughans. And then when you
didn't come and didn't come, we telephoned to the Vaughans,
and they said they hadn't seen hide nor hair of
ye, and didn't even know you were to the Fair
at all. I tell you, your Aunt Abigail and I
had an awful turn! Ann and I hitched up quicker'n
scat and she put right out with Prince up toward
Woodford and I took Jessie down this way; thought maybe
I'd get trace of ye somewhere here. Well, land!" He
wiped his forehead again. "Wa'n't I glad to see you
standin' there . . . get along, Jess! I want
to get the news to Abigail soon as I can!"
"Now tell me what in thunder did happen to you!"
Betsy began at the beginning and told straight through, interrupted
at first by indignant comments from Uncle Henry, who was
outraged by the Wendells' loose wearing of their responsibility for
the children. But as she
 went on he
quieted down to a closely attentive silence, interrupting only to
keep Jess at her top speed.
Now that it was
all safely over, Betsy thought her story quite an interesting
one, and she omitted no detail, although she wondered once
or twice if perhaps Uncle Henry were listening to her,
he kept so still. "And so I bought the tickets
and we got home," she ended, adding, "Oh, Uncle Henry,
you ought to have seen the prize pig! He was
They turned into the Putney yard now and
saw Aunt Abigail's bulky form on the porch.
Abby! All right! No harm done!" shouted Uncle Henry.
Abigail turned without a word and went back into the
house. When the little girls dragged their weary legs in
they found her quietly setting out some supper for them
on the table, but she was wiping away with her
apron the joyful tears which ran down her cheeks, such
white cheeks! It seemed so strange to see rosy Aunt
Abigail with a face like paper.
 "Well, I'm
glad to see ye," she told them soberly. "Sit right
down and have some hot milk. I had some all
The telephone rang, she went into the next room,
and they heard her saying, in an unsteady voice: "All
right, Ann. They're here. Your father just brought them in.
I haven't had time to hear about what happened yet.
But they're all right. You'd better come home."
Cousin Ann telephoning from the Marshalls'."
She herself went and
sat down heavily, and when Uncle Henry came in a
few minutes later she asked him in a rather weak
voice for the ammonia bottle. He rushed for it, got
her a fan and a drink of cold water, and
hung over her anxiously till the color began to come
back into her pale face. "I know just how you
feel, Mother," he said sympathetically. "When I saw 'em standin'
there by the roadside I felt as though somebody had
hit me a clip right in the pit of the
The little girls ate their supper in a tired
 daze, not paying any attention to what the
grown-ups were saying, until rapid hoofs clicked on the stones
outside and Cousin Ann came in quickly, her black eyes
"Now, for mercy's sake, tell me what happened," she
said, adding hotly, "and if I don't give that Maria
Wendell a piece of my mind!"
Uncle Henry broke in:
"I'm going to tell what happened. I want to do
it. You and Mother just listen, just sit right down
and listen." His voice was shaking with feeling, and as
he went on and told of Betsy's afternoon, her fright,
her confusion, her forming the plan of coming home on
the train and of earning the money for the tickets,
he made, for once, no Putney pretense of casual coolness.
His old eyes flashed fire as he talked.
him, felt her heart swell and beat fast in incredulous
joy. Why, he was proud of her! She had done
something to make the Putney cousins proud of her!
When Uncle Henry came to the part where she went on
asking for employment after one
 and then another
refusal, Cousin Ann reached out her long arms and quickly,
almost roughly, gathered Betsy up on her lap, holding her
close as she listened. Betsy had never before sat on
Cousin Ann's lap.
And when Uncle Henry finished—he had not
forgotten a single thing Betsy had told him—and asked, "What
do you think of that for a little girl ten
years old today?" Cousin Ann opened the flood-gates wide and
burst out, "I think I never heard of a child's
doing a smarter, grittier thing . . . and I
don't care if she does hear me say so!"
It was a great, a momentous, an historic moment!
on those strong knees, wondered if any little girl had
ever had such a beautiful birthday.
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