“Every one of ’em,”
announced Peter. “These, ma’am, are
the four little Blossoms!”
“We didn’t mean to scare
your little girl,” said Meg bravely. “I
guess she thought we were Indians. These are
just play clothes.”
“Emma Louise scares easy,”
said Mrs. Cook. “All my children do.”
“How many have you?” asked
Twaddles, meaning to be polite.
“Nine,” replied Mrs. Cook
serenely. “Four boys and five girls.”
“We have to be going, if we
get back in time for supper,” hinted Peter,
gathering up the reins. “I’ll tell
the Missus you’ll walk down Tuesday morning,
then, and I’ll drive you home at night.”
“Wait a minute,” begged
Dot, as Peter was about to turn Terry. It was
the first word she had spoken since they had reached
the Cook house. “Give these to the little
It was the chain of gay-colored beads
Dot wore around her neck with the Indian dress, and
Mrs. Cook’s face wrinkled into a smile of delight.
“Emma Louise will love ’em,”
she declared brightly. “I’m much
Dot was too shy to say anything, but
she blushed and smiled and inwardly wished that Peter
would drive on. Soon they were going down the
“Aunt Polly’s at home!”
shouted Dot, as they turned into the drive and she
saw a white figure rocking in the porch swing.
Aunt Polly was very glad to see them,
and she had not been worried because Jud had told
her where the children had gone. The milking was
done, she said, and everything fed, so if they would
get washed and dressed right away for supper, Linda
would put it on the table while they were upstairs.
“Linda looked as if she’d
been crying,” said Meg, slipping off the Indian
dress and pulling on a clean white pique. “Her
eyes were all red.”
“Maybe she was bad and her mother
scolded her,” said Dot.
At the supper table Aunt Polly listened
to the story of the afternoon’s drive, and heard
about Mrs. Cook and the queer little house, but all
the time she seemed to be thinking of something else.
And there was certainly something seriously wrong with
Linda. She scarcely ate any supper, and her eyes
were red, as Meg said. Twaddles was sure she
had the toothache. When he went out into the kitchen
after supper he found her crying over the dishes, and
she was cross to him and told him to get out of her
“I guess Linda has the measles,”
reported the astonished Twaddles to the rest of the
family, who were on the front porch.
“Yes, I guess she’s sick,”
remarked Bobby. “She didn’t want any
“Was she bad, Aunt Polly?”
questioned Dot “Did her mother punish her?”
“Well, Linda and I had decided
not to bother you with our troubles,” said Aunt
Polly, “but I see we can’t hide a thing
from your sharp eyes. I have bad news to tell
you. While you were away with Peter this afternoon,
and while Linda and I were in town, a miserable chicken
thief got into the chicken yard and stole ever so many
chickens. We don’t know yet how many.
And they took nearly every one of Linda’s ducks.
She has the ducks for her own, you know, and she uses
the money for her school clothes. So that’s
why she’s crying.”
The four little Blossoms sat and stared
at Aunt Polly. They had completely forgotten
the chickens and ducks and the one lame turkey shut
into the tent till this minute.
“Aunt Polly!” gasped Meg,
in a very little voice. “Aunt Polly please,
we were just playing, and and ”
Meg could not go on.
“We were playing Indians,”
said Bobby, coming to the rescue of his sister, “and
we had to have some captives. So so ”
“We took the chickens and the
ducks,” went on the twins in concert.
“And the lame turkey,” put in Meg.
“And shut them in our tent!” finished
Bobby and Meg together.
“Put them in your tent?”
repeated Aunt Polly. “Do you suppose they
are there now?”
Away dashed the children, Aunt Polly
after them, around to the side lawn. The tent
was just as they had left it, and Meg cautiously unbuttoned
the flap. A soft, comfortable little singing sound
came out to them.
“Well, I never!” said
Aunt Polly helplessly. “What won’t
you children do next!”
The four little Blossoms ran back
to tell Linda that her ducks were safe, and you may
be sure she was very glad to hear it. And in the
morning they found the biddies and the ducks none the
worse for their night in the tent.
Shortly after this, Bobby and Meg
were awakened one night by a queer noise outside.
Bobby heard it first and came creeping into Meg’s
room to see if she were awake.
“Meg! Meg!” he whispered,
so as not to wake Dot. “Did you hear something?”
“Yes, I did,” whispered
back Meg. “Under my window. Wait a
minute and we’ll peep out.”
Dot and Twaddles wouldn’t wake
up, “not if there was an earthquake,”
Daddy Blossom sometimes said, but Meg and Bobby were
light sleepers and very apt to hear any unusual noise.
Together now they crept over to Meg’s
window and, raising the screen very softly, peeped
out. Something large and dark was moving about
on the lawn below.
“I guess it’s Mr. Simmonds’ bull,”
“Don’t you think we ought
to go down and drive him off?” asked Bobby,
quite as if driving bulls off his aunt’s lawn
was a nightly task with him. “Or I’ll
go alone I’m the man of the house.”
As a matter of fact, he was.
Aunt Polly and Linda slept in rooms across the hall
at the back of the house, and apparently had heard
nothing. But Meg had no idea of letting her brother
face a bull alone.
“I’m coming, too,”
she whispered. “Let’s put on our shoes you
know how wet the grass is at night. And here’s
a blanket, so you won’t catch cold.”
Wrapping herself in another blanket Aunt
Polly kept two light-weight blankets folded at the
foot of each bed for chilly nights Meg tiptoed
carefully downstairs after Bobby. They knew their
way about the house now, even in the dark. The
front door was not locked, for people in the country
seldom lock their doors.
“Why, Bobby!” Meg called
softly. “Look! There’s a lot
of ’em! See! All down the drive!
They can’t be Mr. Simmonds’ bull ”
“Well, not all of ’em,”
snickered Bobby. “There’s only one
of him. Come on, Meg, I’m going up to one
and see what it is.”
“Why, it’s a calf!”
cried Meg, in astonishment. “A darling baby
calf! They all are! How many are there,
“I can count fourteen,”
said Bobby after a moment, for the night was not pitch
black, but one of those soft summer nights with so
many stars that after your eyes are accustomed to
it you can see objects distinctly enough to count.
“Somebody’s left their
barnyard gate open,” announced Meg. “What’ll
we do? Drive ’em into our barnyard?”
“Sure!” answered Bobby,
just like a farmer. “That’ll keep
’em safe till morning. And then Jud will
find out whose they are.”
Driving those fourteen baby calves
was not such hard work as they had expected, for they
were very amiable beasties and only wanted to nibble
a little fresh sweet grass as they were driven on toward
the barnyard. But Meg and Bobby had so much fun
doing this that they forgot to be quiet, and just
as they had the last calf safely inside and the big
gate barred, two figures came running up to them.
“For the love of Pete!”
said Jud, breathing heavily. “Meg and Bobby!
And in their night clothes! Are you crazy?”
“There’s fourteen baby
calves in there,” announced Bobby with dignity.
“Yes, and they would have had
the whole lawn eaten up if it hadn’t been for
us,” declared Meg.
Peter and Jud peered over the gate.
“Those are Tom Sparks’
calves he bought for his auction next week,”
said Peter. “Guess he didn’t pen ’em
in good to-night. Well, you youngsters don’t
miss anything, do you? You run back to bed now,
and in the morning we’ll do a little telephoning.”
And when Jud came up while they were
at breakfast the next morning and told them that Mr.
Sparks wanted to pay a reward of five dollars to the
person who had saved his calves for him, maybe there
wasn’t great excitement!
Aunt Polly then heard the story for
the first time, as did Dot and Twaddles and Linda.
“You take it,” advised
Linda, when Jud repeated the offer of the reward.
“If the constable had put his calves in the pound
it would have cost him twice that to get them out.”
“But I don’t like to have
them take money,” protested Aunt Polly.
“All right,” said Jud
suddenly. “Mr. Sparks can pay them back
some other way.”