Meg could not fall flat, for Jud had
hold of her hand, but she did drop her carefully held
skirt. There was a splash, a startled “Meow!”
and a shriek from Meg.
“Don’t let it drown!”
she cried. “Jud, catch it, quick!”
If Meg had planned to surprise the
twins, she could not have managed better. They
couldn’t quite see what was going on, but they
knew that something had happened.
“What is it?” they called.
“Can we come in, Jud, can’t we come see?”
Jud made a quick scoop with his hand
and brought out the miserable, clawing, spitting little
“You stay where you are!”
he ordered the twins. “Say, where’ll
I put this?” he asked helplessly, turning to
She held up her skirt again and he
dropped the kitten in it, since that seemed to be
the only place, and as Meg afterward said she was “a
little damp” from the cat’s splash and
more water wouldn’t hurt.
Then Jud took hold of Meg’s
hand more firmly and Bobby’s, too, and they
managed to reach the opposite bank without any more
“What is it? What is it?”
Dot and Twaddles begged, running up and down madly.
“Did you find something, Meg? Did you see
the buttons on the shirt? Did the man come and
ask you who took it?”
“We didn’t see anybody,”
said Bobby, who felt it was his duty to answer this
flood of questions. “I don’t believe
the man lives very near, because we didn’t see
any house. But Meg found something.”
By this time Aunt Polly and Linda
had come down to the brook, to see what was making
the twins more excited than usual.
“Meg found something!” Dot told Aunt Polly.
“Did you, dear?” asked
Aunt Polly, smiling. “Don’t tell me
it is another shirt, Meg.”
Meg stepped back and faced the group dramatically.
“It’s a cat!” she said, and held
her “find” up for them to see.
To her amazement, Linda and Jud went
off into fits of laughter and even Aunt Polly seemed
to be trying not to smile.
“I don’t see anything
funny,” Meg announced stiffly. “It’s
a poor little almost dead cat. Bobby and I found
it down the brook, hanging on a tree and afraid to
“Why, the poor little thing!”
said Aunt Polly with ready sympathy. “We
must take it home and feed it, Meg.”
“I’m only laughing,”
Linda explained, wiping her eyes, “because it
is such a distressed-looking cat, Meg. It’s
so dirty and so little and so so mad!”
she finished as the cat humped up its back and spit
at Twaddles who tried to stroke it.
“Stray kittens don’t make
friends very readily,” said kind Aunt Polly.
“They think everyone is their enemy, till proved
otherwise. We must teach your kitten, Meg, that
at Brookside Farm we like kitty cats.”
“Where do you suppose it came from?” Bobby
“Oh, some one had more cats
than they wanted, so they turned it loose, down by
the brook,” said Jud. “It’s
a mean trick and if I ever caught a person doing it,
I wouldn’t waste a second giving him a piece
of my mind.”
Meg stared at the forlorn white kitten gravely.
“You don’t suppose it
belongs to the man who washed the shirt, do you?”
she suggested earnestly.
Linda laughed. She was busily
wrapping up the cat in tissue paper of
all things! because she happened to have
a big wad of it in her basket.
“There!” she said, handing
the astonished kitten to Meg. “I can’t
bear to have dirty things around me you
carry her like that and as soon as we get home I’ll
wash her. If the cat did belong to the man whose
shirt I mended, I suppose you’d feel like going
back and cutting the buttons off, eh, Meg?”
Meg blushed a little.
“No-o, I wouldn’t do that,”
she replied slowly, “but next time I wouldn’t
However, Jud said that he didn’t
think a man who had to wash his clothes in the brook
and dry them on a bush had any cats.
“What are you going to call
your find, Meg?” asked Jud when they were riding
home at half-past four, Peter eating his sandwiches
“Shirt,” Meg answered
placidly. “What are you laughing at?
It’s white, like the shirt we found, and if
it hadn’t been for the shirt we wouldn’t
have found the kitten at all and it might have fallen
into the water and been drowned.”
And in spite of some teasing and much
joking, Meg continued to call the stray kitten “Shirt.”
True to her word, Linda washed the little creature
and when its fur dried it proved to be very pretty,
soft and silky. The kitty had blue eyes and by
the time it was a full-grown cat, Aunt Polly was immensely
proud of it.
For Shirt lived at Brookside Farm
and did not go with the four little Blossoms when
they went home to Oak Hill. Aunt Polly said Poots
would miss him and that cats didn’t like to
change their homes, anyway, and Meg knew this to be
true. And every year, at Christmas time, Meg
remembered to send Shirt a Christmas present and when
she came to visit Aunt Polly, he always seemed to
The week of rain which Aunt Polly
had predicted and which had led her to hasten the
picnic, arrived two or three days after the adventure
in the brook. The exceedingly practical Meg remarked
at the breakfast table, the first rainy morning, that
she didn’t care if it did rain Shirt
was safe in a dry place and the man had had plenty
of time to get his wash dry and take it in off the
“I wonder what he said when
he saw the buttons,” speculated Dot.
But this was one question that never
received an answer, for the children never saw the
man who owned the shirt and they never heard whether
he was pleased to find his mending done or not.
“Maybe he thought the birds
did it for him,” said Twaddles helpfully and
was delighted when Jud told him that there was a bird
called the tailor bird.
“Then he did it,” Twaddles
declared, and when Dot pointed out that they had seen
Linda doing the work, Twaddles explained that he meant
the man would think the tailor bird had done it.
It was talk like this between the
twins that made Jud say it gave him a headache if
he listened too long.
“We haven’t had a rain
like this in a long time,” said Aunt Polly,
glancing out of the dining-room window at the dripping
“Not since we lost the raft,” Bobby reminded
“I wonder if we’ll ever find that,”
said Meg for the fortieth time.
“If I were you,” Aunt
Polly announced briskly, “I’d think up
the nicest thing to do for a rainy day and have just
as much fun as I could.”
“Let’s go out in the barn,” suggested
“We could see what Jud is doing,” Dot
“He’s mending the corn
shelter,” said Bobby, who usually knew what was
going on at the farm.
“I think it would be fun to
play lighthouse in the barn and take our lunch and
stay all day,” Meg declared, having thought of
this while the others were talking.
None of them knew what the lighthouse
game might be, but it sounded new and exciting.
Aunt Polly said she didn’t see why they couldn’t
have a picnic in the barn as well as outdoors and she
promised to help Linda put up a lunch for them.
“Only remember not to bother
Jud, if he is busy,” she cautioned them.
The four little Blossoms knew how
to run “between the drops” and as soon
as their lunch was packed, they kissed Aunt Polly and
started for the barn at breakneck speed. Flushed
and breathless and hardly wet at all, they burst into
the barn and told Jud, who was busy on the main floor,
that they were going to have another picnic.
“You do manage to have a good
time, all right,” he said approvingly.
“Where are you going to play?”
They looked at Meg. It was her
game and she was the only one who knew the best place
“We have to play in the loft,”
directed Meg. “We’re going to live
in a lighthouse, Jud, and pull things up and down.”
Jud did not understand at first and
when she told him, he said that lighthouse keepers
did not live at the top of the lighthouse and pull
things up, but instead they lived in a neat little
house built on the ground, like other houses, and
climbed the tall stairs to take care of the light.
“Well, I think it would be more
fun to live up high,” said Meg, and Jud said
that was the best of a “pretend” play.
You could do it to suit yourself.
The four children scrambled up the
loft ladder practice had made this once
difficult feat easy for them and for a half
hour jumped about in the clean, sweet hay, forgetting
their game. The smooth, slippery hay, piled in
such masses, never failed to fascinate them.
“Now let’s play lighthouse,”
suggested Meg, when Twaddles had come down rather
hard on his nose and was trying not to cry. “First
thing we need is a basket and rope.”
They found a basket Jud said they
might take and he got a piece of rope for them.
Then they argued about staying down on the floor of
the barn to put things in the basket for, of course,
each one wanted to pull the basket up; that was the
“Take turns,” Bobby advised.
“I’ll stay down first, and let Meg pull
up first, because she thought of this game.”
So Meg ran up the ladder and Bobby
put in the lunch box and she pulled and tugged and
at last succeeded in pulling the basket up to the