THE CHARITY BAZAAR
The Bazaar opened Thursday afternoon, and was to continue the rest of the week. As it was for a public charity, the whole town was interested, and the Town Hall, where the Bazaar was held, was gaily decorated for the occasion.
Marjorie was allowed to stay home from school, and in the morning she went over to the hall to take her contributions and to help Miss Merington arrange the booth.
Uncle Steve had responded nobly to Marjorie's letter asking him to send her some M things. A box came to her by express, and in it were some Indian beaded moccasins that were unique and beautiful. Then there were several pocket mirrors and hand mirrors; half a dozen mousetraps; a package of matches; some funny masks, and a plaster cast of "Mercury."
There was also a large wicker thing shaped like the arc of a circle. At first Marjorie didn't know the name of this, though she had seen them used to protect carriage wheels.
"Why, it's a mudguard!" cried Mr. Maynard. "How clever of old Steve!"
Also in the box were some mufflers, which Grandma Sherwood had made by neatly hemming large squares of silk.
Mr. Maynard had brought Marjorie some inexpensive pieces of jewelry, which, he told her, were Florentine mosaics, and so, with all her M's, the little girl had a fine lot of wares to contribute.
James took them over to the hall for her, and Miss Merington was greatly pleased.
"You're a worth-while assistant," said the young lady, as she bustled about, arranging her pretty booth.
True to the spirit of the plan, Miss Merington had made her booth of mauve-colored tissue-paper, and decorated it with morning-glories, also made of paper, of delicate violet shades.
It was one of the prettiest booths in the room, and Marjorie was glad she belonged to it.
"Now, Moppet," said Miss Merington, "what are you going to wear this afternoon? I have a beautiful mauve costume, but I suppose you haven't. And as I don't want you to be a jarring note, I'm going to ask you not to wear any red or blue. Can't you wear all white?"
"My frock is white, Miss Merington," said Marjorie; and then she added, laughing, "and it's muslin, so I suppose that's all right. And Mother bought me a mauve sash and hair-ribbon and silk stockings, all to match. And I've white slippers. Will that do?"
"Do! I should think it would. You'll be sweet in mauve and white. Now, I'll tell you your duties. You must just look pleasant and smiling, so that people will want to come to our booth to buy things. Then when they come, you may tell them the prices of things if they ask you, but don't ask them to buy. I hate people at fairs who insist on everybody's buying their goods. Don't you?"
Marjorie felt quite important at being consulted on this matter, and she hastened to agree with Miss Merington.
"Yes," she said. "But you won't have to ask the people to buy; I think they'll want to come here, because this is the prettiest booth in the whole room."
"I'm glad you think so. But Miss Frost's booth is lovely. All made of cotton-wool snow, and tinsel ice."
"Oh, it's beautiful. My friend Gladys Fulton belongs there, and Daisy Ferris, too. I thought you were going to have more assistants, Miss Merington. Am I the only one?"
"Yes; to tell you the truth, I didn't know of any other nice little girl whose name began with M. You don't mind, do you, dear?"
"Oh, no, indeed! I'm glad to be here alone with you. And I'll do all I can to help."
"I'm sure you will. But now there's nothing more for you to do this morning, so skip along home and get a good rest; then be back here promptly at three o'clock this afternoon with all your mauve millinery on."
"I don't wear a hat, Miss Merington!" exclaimed Midge, in dismay.
"Of course not. I said millinery, meaning your ribbons and finery. I used the word because it begins with M. Do you know, Marjorie, I fairly think in words beginning with M!"
"Oh, is that it?" said Marjorie, laughing. "Well, good-morning Mademoiselle Merington!"
"You're a clever little thing," said Miss Merington; "and now run along home to Mother Maynard's mansion."
Marjorie laughed at this sally, and started for home. But at Miss Frost's booth she found Gladys, and the two walked around the hall, looking at the other booths. They were very interesting, for each lady in charge had endeavored to get all the novel ideas possible for which her special initial could be used.
X, Y, and Z had been declared impossible, but some clever girls had concluded it would be a pity to omit them, and said that they would combine the three in one booth. For X, which, they said, always represented "an unknown quantity," they had prepared some express packages. These contained merchandise of some sort, and had been sent through the express office, in order to give the proper appearance of expressed parcels. They were for sale at a price that was fair for their contents, and people were asked to buy them unopened, thus purchasing "an unknown quantity." Then there were yeast-cakes for sale; and toy yachts, marked "For Sail"; and yellow things of any kind; and zephyr garments, such as shawls and sacques and slippers.
This booth was very attractive, and was draped with yellow cheesecloth, with black X's and Y's and Z's all over it.
In order to make a variety, the R booth was a restaurant, the L booth served lemonade, and the C booth, candy and cakes.
"Isn't it fun?" said Marjorie to Gladys, as at last they started homeward. "What are you going to wear, Glad? I don't know of any color that begins with F."
"No," said Gladys. "Miss Frost says there's nothing but fawn-color, and that won't do. So we're all to wear white, with lots of frills. And we're to have feathers on our heads instead of ribbon bows, and we're to carry feather fans. I wish I was in your booth, Midget."
"Yes, I wish so, too; but of course we couldn't be in the same. But Father's coming at six to take us all to supper in the restaurant booth. Perhaps we can get together then."
"Yes, I hope we can. I'll ask Mother about it."
The girls parted at Gladys' gate, and Marjorie went on home to luncheon.
"It's perfectly lovely, Mother!" she cried, as she entered the house. "I never saw such a beautiful fair."
"That's good, girlie; and now you must eat your luncheon and then lie down for a little rest before you go this afternoon."
"Oh, Mother Maynard! Why, I'm not a bit tired. You must think I'm an old lady."
Mrs. Maynard smiled at the bright face and dancing eyes, which certainly showed no trace of weariness.
But after luncheon she said: "Now, Midget, you must go to your room, and lie down for half an hour. Close your eyes, and rest even if you do not sleep."
Midget drew a long sigh, and walked slowly off to obey. She lay down on her own little white bed, but though she managed to close her eyes for nearly half a minute, they then flew wide open.
"Mother!" she called out. "I can't keep my eyes shut."
"Don't be impatient, Marjorie," called back Mrs. Maynard, from her own room. "Go to sleep."
"But, Mother, I can't go to sleep. I'm as wide-awake as a—a weasel. Mother, what time are you going to the fair?"
"At four o'clock. Now, be quiet, Marjorie, and don't ask any more questions."
"No'm. But, Mother, mayn't I get up now? I've been here nearly six or seven hours."
"It isn't six or seven minutes, yet. You must stay there half an hour, so you may as well make your mind up to it."
"Yes'm; I've made up my mind. But I think this clock has stopped. It hasn't moved but a teenty, taunty speck in all these hours. What time is it by your clock, Mother?"
"Marjorie! You'll drive me distracted! Will you be still?"
"Yes'm, if you'll let me come in your room. May I, Mother? I'll just lie still on your couch, and I won't speak. I'll just look at you. You know you're so pretty, Mother."
Mrs. Maynard stifled a laugh.
"Come on, then," she called. "I simply can't yell like this any longer."
"I should think not," said Marjorie, as she appeared in her mother's doorway. "My throat's exhausted, too."
"Now, remember," said Mrs. Maynard, "you said you'd be quiet in here. Lie down on the couch, and put the afghan over you, and go to sleep."
"I'll lie down on the couch,—so," said Marjorie, suiting the action to the word; "and I'll put the afghan over me,—so; but I can't go to sleep—because I can't."
"Well, shut your eyes, and try to go to sleep; and, at any rate, stop talking."
"Yes'm; I'll try." Marjorie squeezed her eyes tightly shut, and in a moment she began to talk in a droning voice. "I'm asleep now, Mother, thank you. I'm having a lovely nap. I'm just talking in my sleep, you know. Nobody can help that, can they?"
"No; but they can't expect to be answered. So, talk in your sleep if you choose, but keep your eyes shut."
"Oh, dear, that's the hardest part! Oh, Mother, I've such a good idea! Mayn't I begin to dress while I'm asleep? Just put on my slippers and stockings, you know. It would be such a help toward dressing to have that done. May I,—Mother? Mother, may I?"
"Marjorie, you are incorrigible! Get up, do, and go for your bath, now. And if you're ready too early, you'll have to sit still and not move until it's time to go."
"Oh, Mother, what a dear, sweet mother you are!"
With a bound, Marjorie was off of the couch and tumbling into her mother's arms.
Mrs. Maynard well understood the impatient young nature, and said no more about a nap.
But at last the time came for Marjorie to start, and very sweet and dainty she looked in her mauve and white costume. She had never worn that color before, as it isn't usually considered appropriate for little girls, but it proved becoming, and her dancing eyes and rosy cheeks brightened up an effect otherwise too demure for a twelve-year-old child.
Gladys was waiting at her own gate, and off they went to the hall.
Of course, the customers hadn't yet arrived, but soon after Marjorie had taken her place inside the booth, the people began to flock to the fair.
Miss Merington looked lovely in a violet crêpe-de-chine gown, which just suited her exquisite complexion and golden hair.
She greeted Marjorie as a companion and fellow-worker, and Midge resolved to do her best to please the lovely lady. Somehow there seemed to be a great deal to do. As the afternoon wore on the M booth had a great many customers, and Miss Merington was kept so busy that Marjorie had to be on the alert to assist her. She made change; she answered the customers' questions; and sometimes she had to go to the department of supplies for wrapping paper, string, and such things. She was very happy, for Marjorie dearly loved a bustle of excitement, and the Bazaar was a gay place.
After a time old Mr. Abercrombie came to the M booth. Marjorie hadn't forgotten the day they rode behind his sleigh, and she wondered if he would buy anything from her.
He looked at her quizzically through his big glasses, and said:
"Well, well, little girl, and what have you for sale? Old gentlemen like myself are fond of sweet things, you know. Have you any sweet cakes?"
"Yes, sir," said Marjorie, and as Miss Merington was occupied with other customers she felt justified in trying to make a sale herself.
"Yes, sir; we have these very nice cocoanut macaroons."
"Ah, yes; and how do you know they're nice? You must never make a statement unless you're sure."
"Oh, but I am sure," said Marjorie, very earnestly. "Ellen, our cook, made them, and she's a very superior cook. I know she is, because my mother says so. And, besides, I know these are good because I've had some of them myself."
"You've proved your case," said the old gentleman. "But now I'll catch you! I'll buy your whole stock of macaroons if——"
"If what, sir?" said Marjorie, breathlessly, for his suggestion meant a large sale, indeed.
"If you can spell macaroons," was the unexpected reply.
"Oh!" Marjorie gave a little gasp of dismay, for she had never had the word in her spelling lessons, and she didn't remember ever seeing it in print.
"May I think a minute?" she asked.
"Yes," said Mr. Abercrombie, taking out his watch; "but just a minute, no more."
This embarrassed Marjorie a little, but she was determined to win if possible, so she set her wits to work.
It was confusing, for she was uncertain whether to say double c or double r, or whether both those letters were single. Then, like a flash, came to her mind the way her father had taught her to spell macaroni. The words might not be alike, but more likely they were, so before the minute had elapsed, she said, bravely:
"Good for you!" cried Mr. Abercrombie. "You're a smart little girl, and a good speller. I'll take all the macaroons you have."
Greatly elated, Marjorie referred the sale to Miss Merington, and that lady was very much pleased when Mr. Abercrombie gave her a good-sized banknote, and declined to take any change.
"For the good of the cause," he said, waiving away the proffered change.
"And now," their eccentric customer went on, "I've just a little more money to spend at this booth, for I've promised one or two other friends to buy some of their wares. But, Miss Rosycheeks, I'll tell you what I'll do."
He looked at Marjorie so teasingly that she felt sure he was going to ask her to spell something else, and this time she feared she would fail.
"I'll do this," proceeded Mr. Abercrombie: "I'll buy anything for sale at this booth that our young friend, the paragon speller, can not spell!"
Marjorie's eyes sparkled. She wasn't really a "paragon speller," and she felt sure there must be something that was beyond her knowledge. But, somehow, all the things seemed to have simple names. Anyone could spell mittens and muffs and mats. And though mandolin and marmalade were harder, yet she conscientiously realized that she could spell those correctly.
"I don't see anything," she said, at last, slowly and regretfully.
"Then I save my money, and you save your reputation as a speller," said Mr. Abercrombie, jocosely, as he jingled some silver in his pocket.
"Oh, wait a minute!" cried Marjorie. "There's that handsome clock! Miss Merington said it's malachite, and I haven't the least idea how to spell that!"
"Fairly caught!" said the old gentleman, chuckling at his own defeat. "I see by your honest eyes that you really don't know how to spell malachite, and it is a hard word. Now, listen, and I'll teach you."
Mr. Abercrombie spelled the word, and then said:
"Would you have guessed it was spelled like that?"
"No, sir," said Midge, truthfully; "I should have thought there was a 'k' in it."
"I almost wish there had been," said the gentleman, ruefully, "then I should not have to buy the most expensive article on your table. However, it will look well on my library mantel, and I shall rejoice whenever I look at it and remember that you know how to spell it."
Marjorie smiled at this idea, and the queer customer paid to Miss Merington the rather large price that was marked on the handsome clock.
"Marjorie, you're a trump!" said she, as Mr. Abercrombie walked away. "He's about the only one here rich enough to buy that clock, and I'm glad he took it. This will swell our fund finely."
When it was supper-time, the Maynards and Fultons all went together to the restaurant in the R booth. They had a merry time, and Marjorie told the story of her "Spelling Lesson," as she called it.
"You're a born merchant, Midge," said King. "You make money by knowing how to spell—and then you make money by not knowing!"
"But such occasions don't happen often," said Mr. Maynard. "I think you'd better continue your spelling lessons for a few years yet. And now, as it's time for ice-cream, I'll try your friend's plan, Midget. If you can spell Biscuit Tortoni, you can have it!"
"Thank you, Father," said Marjorie, smiling; "but I'd rather have vanilla and chocolate. They're easier to spell, and just as good to eat."
After supper, the children had to go home. Marjorie looked back reluctantly at the brilliant hall, even more gay since the lights were burning, but she remembered that she could yet come two more afternoons, so she said no word of regret.
"But I do hope," she said to her mother, as she tucked her tired little girl into bed that night, "I do hope that when I'm a grown-up young lady I'll be exactly like that lovely, sweet Miss Merington."
"I'm thankful to say that your grown-up-young-lady days are yet far off," responded her mother; "but when that time comes I'll be quite satisfied to have you the lovely, sweet Miss Maynard."