MARJORIE'S BUSY DAYS





CHAPTER XII

TOTTY AND DOTTY

"Marjorie," said her mother, one Saturday morning, "I expect Mrs. Harrison to spend the day. She will bring her little baby with her, and I want you to stay at home, so that you can wheel the baby about if she asks you to do so."

"I will, Mother. The Jinks Club meets here this afternoon anyway, and this morning I'll stay at home. Can't I ask Gladys to come over? We'd love to take care of the baby together."

"Yes, have Gladys if you like. I don't mind."

Mrs. Maynard went off to look after housekeeping affairs, and Marjorie ran over to ask Gladys to come and spend the morning.

The two girls were sitting on a bench under a tree on the front lawn, when they saw Mrs. Harrison come in at the gate. She was wheeling her baby-carriage, and Marjorie ran to meet her.

"How do you do, Mrs. Harrison?" she said. "Mother is expecting you. Come right on up to the house. Mayn't I wheel Baby for you?"

"I wish you would, my dear. I gave nurse a holiday, but I didn't realize how tiresome that heavy carriage is, after wheeling it so many blocks."

Marjorie pushed the little coach, while Gladys danced alongside, talking to the winsome baby.

"What's her name, Mrs. Harrison?" she said.

"Oh!" replied the young mother, "she has the dignified name of Katharine, but we never call her that. I'm ashamed to say we call her Totty."

"I think Totty is a lovely name," said Midget. "It makes me think of Dotty, a baby who lives about a block away from us. She's just the same size as this baby."

"Probably she's older, then," said Mrs. Harrison, complacently; "Totty's just a year old, but she's much larger than most children of that age."

"Yes, I suppose so," said Midget, wagging her head wisely, though she really knew little about the comparative sizes of infants. Mrs. Maynard awaited them at the front door, and the procession arrived with a flourish.

"Here we are, Mother," announced Marjorie, and she and Gladys lifted baby Totty out of her nest of pillows and knit afghans.

"Why, how handy you are, child," said Mrs. Harrison. "But give her to me now, and I'll look after her."

Marjorie handed the pretty burden over, and said:

"But mayn't we take her out for a ride, Mrs. Harrison? I'm sure she ought to be out in the fresh air this morning."

"I'll see about it later," said Totty's mother, and then she went into the house with her hostess, and the girls ran away to play.

But an hour later, Mrs. Maynard called Marjorie, and said she might take the baby for a ride.

Gleefully, Marjorie and Gladys ran into the house.

They helped arrange Miss Totty's coat and cap, and so merry were they that the baby laughed and crowed, and made friends at once.

"How she takes to you!" said Mrs. Harrison. "Sometimes she is afraid of strangers, but she seems to love you."

"'Cause I love her," said Midge; "she's a sweet baby, and so good. Shall I bring her in if she cries, Mrs. Harrison?"

"Yes; but she won't cry. She's more likely to go to sleep."

The little lady was tucked into her carriage; white mittens on her tiny hands, and a white veil over her rosy face.

"Does she need the veil?" asked Mrs. Maynard, doubtfully. "It isn't cold today."

"No," said Mrs. Harrison; "but the breeze is brisk; and she's used to a light veil. I think she'd better wear it."

"How far can we go?" asked Marjorie, as the preparations were completed.

"Stay in the yard, mostly," said her mother. "If you go out in the street, don't go more than two blocks away."

"All right, we won't," said Marjorie. "Come on, Glad." The two little girls started off with the baby-carriage.

"She's a careful child," said Mrs. Harrison, as she noticed Marjorie turn a corner with precision.

"Yes," said Mrs. Maynard. "And she's devoted to children. You need have no fear of Totty."

"Oh, I haven't," said Mrs. Harrison, and then the two friends returned to the house, and sat down for a long chat.

The girls had a fine time with the baby. They rolled the carriage carefully, pausing now and then to present their little guest with a bright autumn leaf, or a big horse-chestnut, which they picked up from the ground.

"Let's pretend she's an infant princess, and we're kidnapping her," said Marjorie.

"All right; what's her name?"

"Princess Petronella," said Marjorie, promptly, using a favorite name of hers.

"I don't think much of that," said Gladys; "I like Ermyntrude."

"Both, then," said Marjorie; for this was a way they often settled their differences. "Her name is Princess Ermyntrude Petronella; and we call her Ermyn Pet for short."

"But we ought to call her Princess," objected Gladys.

"Well, we will. But remember we're kidnapping her for a great reward. Hist! Some one cometh!"

They hustled the carriage behind a great pine-tree, in pretended fear of a pursuer, though no one was in sight.

"How much shall we charge for ransom?" asked Gladys, in the hollow voice that they always used in their make-believe games.

"A thousand rubbles," answered Marjorie; "and unless the sum is forthcoming ere set of sun, the Princess shall be,—shall be——"

Marjorie hesitated. It seemed dreadful to pronounce fate, even in make-believe, on that dimpled, smiling bit of humanity.

"Shall be imprisoned," suggested Gladys.

"Yes, imprisoned in an enchanted castle."

Totty crowed and gurgled, as if greatly pleased with her destiny, and the girls wheeled her along the path to the gate.

"She reminds me so much of Dotty Curtis," said Midget. "Let's go down that way and see if Dotty's out. Mother said we could go two blocks."

On they went, crossing the curbs with great care, and soon turned in at Mrs. Curtis' house.

Sure enough, there was the nurse wheeling the Curtis baby around the drive.

"Good-morning," said Marjorie, who was friendly with Nurse Lisa. "How is Dotty today?"

"She's well, Miss Marjorie," replied Lisa; "and who's the fine child with you?"

"This is little Totty Harrison; and I think she looks like Dot. Let's compare them."

The veils were taken off the two children, and sure enough they did look somewhat alike.

"They're both darlings," said Marjorie, as she gently replaced Totty's veil. "Lisa, won't you let Gladys wheel Dotty for awhile, and I'll wheel Totty. That would be fun."

"I'll willingly leave her with you for a bit, Miss Gladys. I've some work to do in the house, and if you'll keep baby for a few minutes it would be a great thing for me. Mrs. Curtis is out, but I know she'd trust you with the child, if the other lady does. But don't go off the place."

"No," said Marjorie; "this place is so big there's room enough anyway. I promise you we won't go outside the gates, Lisa."

"Isn't this fun?" cried Marjorie, as Lisa went away. "Now, we have two kidnapped princesses. Or shall we play house with them?"

"No, let's have them princesses. Now you can name yours Petronella, and I'll name mine Ermyntrude."

This momentous question settled, the game went on. They pretended that the princesses were anxious to get back to their respective homes, and that they must resort to bribery and strategy to keep them contented.

"Nay, nay, Princess Petronella," Marjorie would say; "weep not for friends and family. I will take you to a far better place, where flowers grow and birds sing and—and——"

"And gold-fish swim," went on Gladys, who always followed Marjorie's lead, "and roosters crow—cock-a-doodle-doo!!"

This climax, accompanied as it was by Gladys' flapping her arms and prancing about, greatly delighted both princesses, and they laughed and clamored for more.

"Aren't they dears!" exclaimed Marjorie, as she looked at the two pretty babies. "Methinks no ransom is forthcoming. Must we resort to our dire and dreadful doom?"

"Aye, aye!" said Gladys. "To the enchanted castle with the fatal victims."

So long as the girls used tragic-sounding words they didn't always care whether they made sense or not.

"On, on, then!" cried Midget. "On, on! To victory, or defeat!"

Each pushing a carriage, they ran down the long drive, across the wide lawn, and paused, flushed and breathless, at a rustic summer-house.

Into the arbor they pushed the two coaches, and then dropped, laughing, on the seats.

The babies laughed, too, and both Dotty and Totty seemed to think that to be a captive princess was a delightful fate. The girls sat still for awhile to rest, but the game went on.

"Shall it be the donjon keep?"

"Nay, not for these, so young and fair," answered Gladys. "Let's chain them with rose garlands to a silken couch."

"Huh!" said Marjorie, "that's not a dire fate. Let's do something that's more fun. Oh, Glad, I'll tell you what! Let's exchange these babies! That's what they always do in tragedies. Listen! We'll put Dotty's hood on Totty, and Totty's cap on Dotty. And change their coats, too!"

"Yes, and veils; oh, Mops! What fun! If we change their coats quickly they won't catch cold."

"Cold, pooh! It's as warm as summer."

It wasn't quite that, but it was a lovely, sunshiny day in early October, and, after running, it seemed quite warm to the girls.

Following out their project, they quickly exchanged the babies' wraps.

By this time both little ones were growing sleepy, and were in a quiet, tractable frame of mind.

"Their little white dresses are almost alike, anyway," said Gladys, as she took off Totty's coat.

"Oh, well, we wouldn't think of changing their dresses," said Mopsy; "but let's change their little shoes. I'd like to see Totty in those cunning ankle-ties."

"And I'd like to see Dotty in those pretty blue kid shoes."

"Of course, we'll change them right back, but I just want to see how they look."

Soon the transformation was complete. To all outward appearance of costume, Dotty was Totty, and Totty was Dotty. Even the veils were changed, as one was of silk gauze, the other of knitted zephyr.

Then, not in their own, but in each other's carriage, the reversed princesses nodded and beamed at their captors.

"Now, you push that carriage, and I'll push this," said Marjorie, taking hold of the carriage she had pushed all the time, though now it had the other baby in it.

"All right," said Gladys, "let's go round by the garden."

Slowly now, the girls went round by the large well-kept kitchen garden, and then through the flower gardens back to the front lawn.

"Why," said Marjorie, suddenly, "both these children are asleep!"

"Mrs. Harrison said Totty would go to sleep," said Gladys. "I guess all babies go to sleep about this time in the morning. It seems too bad to wake them up to change their coats back again, but I think we ought to take Totty back, don't you?"

"Yes, I do. Suppose we leave the coats and caps as they are, and then afterward we can bring back Dotty's things and get Totty's."

"Here you are!" cried Lisa, coming to meet them at the front door. "You're good little girls to mind the baby for me. I'll take her now, and I thank you much."

As Lisa spoke, she took hold of the Curtis carriage, which contained the Harrison baby.

"Ah, she's asleep, bless her heart!" she exclaimed, looking at the closed eyes, almost hidden by the white veil. "I'm glad she's getting a fine nap. Run along now with your own baby."

Partly confused by Lisa's quick and peremptory dismissal, and partly impelled by a sudden mischievous idea, Marjorie smiled a good-bye, and began trundling the other carriage toward the gate.

"Why, Midge!" whispered Gladys, aghast. "We've got the wrong baby! This is Dotty Curtis!"

"Keep still!" whispered Marjorie. "I know it. But it's a good joke on that snippy Lisa."

"She wasn't snippy."

"Yes, she was; she said 'Run along now, little girls,' after we've been helping her all the morning. She's going to let the baby stay asleep in the carriage, and she won't know it till she wakes up."

"Who won't? The baby?"

"No, Lisa. And then she'll be scared, and it will serve her right."

"But what about Mrs. Harrison? You don't want to scare her."

"That's just the thing," explained Marjorie. "I want to see if she'll know the difference in the babies. They say mothers can always tell their own children. Now we'll see."

"It's a great joke," said Gladys, giggling. "But suppose they never find it out, and the children live with their wrong mothers all their lives!"

"Don't be silly," said Marjorie.



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