A SPOOL OF YARNS
Mr. Maynard pulled the ribbon of which Kitty held the other end, and the little girl jumped as she felt the ribbon move in her hand. But Kitty was usually ready for an emergency.
"Voletta Evangeline,” she said. "The Princess thought that was the most beautiful name in the world, and I think so, too. Well, then, her father, the King, had the news sent all through the kingdom that his daughter was named at last, and then everybody sent her letters. She had bags and bags full of mail every day, and they had to put on an extra postman. And she had valentines in the mail, and catalogues, and birthday presents, and samples of dresses, and seeds for flowers, and,—and magazines, and,—and,—and one day a little live kitten came to her in the mail, and she was so pleased. So she named the kitten Toodle-Doo, and wherever she went she took the kitten with her. And one day she went off on a long journey, and of course Toodle-Doo went with her. And as they went along,—and went along——"
Just here Mr. Maynard pulled another ribbon, and Molly gave a startled jump.
So Kitty stopped, and Molly took up the story:
"They went along," said she, dropping her voice to a tragic whisper, "on a dark and lonely road. And a great pirate jumped out at them, and cried, 'What, ho! The password?' And Violetta Evangeline didn't know the password, but she guessed at it, and she guessed, 'Crackers and Cheese,' and, as it happened, she guessed just right, and they let her go through."
"Through what?" asked King, greatly interested.
"Oh! I don't know," returned Molly, carelessly; "through the gate, I s'pose, into the enchanted garden. So she went in, and everything enchanted happened all at once. She was turned into a fairy, and the kitten was turned into a canary bird, and he roosted on the fairy's shoulder, and then he began to sing. And then the enchantment turned him into a music-box, and so Violetta Evangeline didn't have any kitten or any bird or anybody to play with. But just then the Fairy Prince came along, and he said he'd play with her. And he said she could play with his toys. So she went to see them, and they were all made of gold and jewels. His tops were of gold, and his kites were of gold all set with rubies and diamonds."
"Huh," said King, "they couldn't fly!"
"These kites could," said Molly, quite undisturbed, "because they were enchanted kites, and that made the diamonds as light as feathers."
But just then Marjorie's ribbon twitched. She had been waiting for it, and she picked up the story where Molly left off.
"The kites were so very light," said Midge, "that one of them flew away entirely. And as Violetta Angeline was hanging on to its string, she was carried along with it, and in a jiffy she was over the wall and outside of the enchanted garden, so then she wasn't enchanted any more, but she was just a Princess again. So she walked forth, and sought adventures. And her first adventure was with a dragon. He was an awful big dragon, and flames of fire came out of his mouth and his ears and his toes. But the Princess wasn't afraid of him, and as there was a big hydrant nearby, she turned it on him and put the flames out. Then he wailed, and wept, and he said: 'Oh, Violetta Angelina, I have a woe! Oh, oh, I have a woe!' And as she was a kind Princess, she said, 'Tell me what your woe is, and perhaps I can help you.' So the Dragon said——"
Here Kingdon's ribbon pulled, and, though taken somewhat unawares, the boy tried to jump right into the story-telling, and he said:
"'Yes, yes, my dear,' said the Dragon, 'I have a woe, and it's this: everybody laughs at me because I cannot climb a tree!' 'Is that all?' asked the Princess, in surprise; 'why, I will teach you to climb a tree.' 'Oh, if you only would!' exclaimed the Dragon. So the Princess taught him to climb a tree, and they all lived happy ever after."
King brought his story to an abrupt close, because his mother had begun to look at the clock, and to intimate by sundry nods and gestures that it was bedtime.
"But Mother hasn't told any of the story yet," said Kitty, who was herself so sleepy she could scarcely listen even to the tale of her own Violetta Evangeline.
"Mother's story must wait till some other time," said Mrs. Maynard. "This is the time for everybody of fourteen years or less to skip-hop up to bed."
So away trooped the children, glad to have learned a new game, and carefully putting away for future use the spool with the ribbons through it.
"But the ribbons don't really make any difference," said Molly, as they went upstairs. "You could just as well say whose turn comes next."
"But it's so much prettier," argued Marjorie; "and it makes it seem so much more like a game."
"What's the name of the game?"
"I don't know; let's make up one."
"All right; Spool Stories,—no, Spool Yarn."
"A Spool of Yarns!" cried Marjorie, clapping her hands. "That's the very thing!"
And so "A Spool of Yarns" became one of their favorite games, and was often played in the evenings or on stormy days.
The rest of Molly's visit passed all too quickly, and Marjorie was sad indeed the day her friend returned home.
But Mrs. Maynard bore the blow bravely.
"She's a dear little girl," she said, after Molly had gone; "but she is a lively one. In fact, she's a regular Maynard, and four young Maynards are just about all I can stand in the house permanently."
"Weren't we good, Mother?" asked Marjorie, anxiously.
"Yes, dear, you were good enough. Really, you didn't get into much mischief; but I suppose you've no idea how much noise you made."
"No'm, I haven't," said Marjorie. "And now I guess I'll go skating."
"Very well, Midge; but remember what Father told you about 'Snap the Whip.'"
"Oh, yes, indeed, Mother. I can never forget that, 'cause I have my prize, you know."
True to his word to give them both prizes, Mr. Maynard had brought the girls each a dainty silver bangle, from which hung a tiny pair of skates. This, he said, was to remind them of the dangerous game, and of their really narrow escape on Thanksgiving Day.
Later that afternoon Marjorie came home from her skating in a great state of excitement.
"Oh, Mother," she said; "Miss Merington has asked me to be at her table at the Bazaar! Won't that be lovely?"
"Miss Merington! What does she want of a little girl like you?"
"Oh, she wants me to help her! Just afternoons, you know; not evenings. She's going to have two or three girls to help her. Miss Frost asked Gladys to be with her. You see, it's this way. Haven't you heard about the Alphabet of Booths?"
"No; what does that mean?"
"Well, I'll tell you. You see, the whole big Bazaar is going to be divided up into twenty-six booths. Each one is a letter—A, B, C, you know. Then everybody who takes charge of the booth begins with that letter, and sells those things."
"Why, Mother, like this. The A booth is in charge of Mrs. Andrews, and she sells apples and andirons, and,—and anything that begins with A."
"Then I should think she could sell 'anything,'" said Mrs. Maynard, laughing.
"Oh, Mother, that's lovely and witty. I'll tell Mrs. Andrews that. Well, and then Mrs. Burns has the B booth, and she sells beads and books and baskets and whatever begins with B."
"Oh, yes, I understand. And it's very clever. And so Miss Merington invited you to help her?"
"Yes, and Miss Frost invited Gladys, because Fulton begins with F. But, Mother, I can't think of a thing to sell that begins with M. Something that I can make, I mean. I can only think of melons and mantelpieces."
"How about mats?"
"Oh, yes, I can make mats. Crochet them, you mean? Will you show me how?"
"Yes, and mops, too; you can make mops, or buy them, either. I suppose they expect you to contribute some articles to be sold. I'll make some for you, too. I'll make you a lovely big, soft melon cushion, a head rest, you know. And, oh, Mopsy! I'll give you some mixed pickles, some of those good ones that Ellen puts up. They'll sell well, I know."
"Oh, goody, Mother; I'll have a lot of things to give them, won't I? And Miss Merington will be so pleased. She's a lovely lady."
"Yes, she's a charming girl, and I'm glad to have you help her. Perhaps Father can think up some things for you that begin with M."
This was a good suggestion, and that very evening Midget put the question:
"Father, what begins with M that you could sell?"
"Why, Mopsy Midget Maynard, I could sell you, but I doubt if I could get a big enough price. You're a pretty valuable piece of property."
"Yes, but don't joke, Daddy. I mean really, in earnest, for the Bazaar, you know."
"Oh, yes, I've heard about that wonderful Bazaar. Well, let me see. Are you allowed to have any sort of wares if they begin with the right letter?"
"Yes, I think so. Mother thought of mats and mops."
"That's a good start. How are you to get these things? Do you donate them all to the Bazaar?"
"Yes; or Miss Merington said we could ask people to give us things, but I don't like to do that."
"No; not from strangers, of course. But I'm sure Mr. Gordon will be glad to give you some toys or notions out of his store. He's such an old friend of mine, I wouldn't mind your asking him. And then I think Uncle Steve would send you a few trinkets, or Grandma Sherwood might. But most of your contributions I think we'll get up here at home. Now, let's be methodical, because that begins with M, and first we'll make some lists."
Marjorie was greatly interested, and flew for a pad and pencil, and then waited for her father to make his lists.
"I declare, Midget," he said, at last, "this is harder than I thought. I can't think of a thing but mahogany bureaus and marble mantles."
"How about marbles, Father? I mean the kind you play marbles with."
"That's good, Midge. Mr. Gordon will give you those. I don't want you to ask anyone else, but Tom Gordon told me he would give a lot of things to the Bazaar, and he said for you to go down there and pick out what you want."
"Oh, that will be lovely! Now, let's think what else he has."
"Yes, that's the way to get at it. In a shop like his, with all sorts of stationery and toys and knick-knacks, there ought to be lots of M's. Well, doubtless he'll give you some music,—sheet-music, you know; and perhaps some magazines. Oh, and memorandum-books. You can always sell those to business men. Then he has maps, too; pocket-maps, or even larger ones. And I think that's all you ought to expect from him."
"Yes, that's enough. Now, what can I make myself?"
"I daresay Mother finished the list when she said mats and mops. I don't know of anything else, unless it's mantillas."
"What are they?"
"Don't you know? Well, it is an old-fashioned word. They're ladies' cloaks, mantles, you know."
"Oh, Father, I could make some for dolls!"
"Yes, that's good; if you can sew well enough."
"Mother will help me with the hard parts. But, really, they will be lovely. All the little girls will buy them. Now, can't I make something else?"
"Why, yes; make candy! Marshmallows,—I'll teach you how; you know I'm a famous candy-maker. But I don't know any other sort,—unless we say mint-drops. Would that do?"
"Oh, yes. And I can make mottoes. Any kind of candy, you know, done up in motto-papers."
"That's a fine idea! We'll all make a lot of home-made candy, and help you wrap it the night before the show. Then your nice, fresh mottoes will go off like hot cakes."
"Yes, indeed. And Ellen is going to give me some jars of her good mixed pickles."
"Oh, Ellen can help you a lot. Ask her to make you some mince pies and marmalade, and macaroons."
"Goody! Goody! I can have a regular food sale, all of M's! Why, it's a lovely letter, after all. I'm glad it's mine."
"How are they going to manage the Q and X and Z?"
"I think they're going to leave out X and Z. But Q is to be a table full of queer things. Indian curiosities, and such things. Miss Merington told me about it. Gladys is going to be with Miss Frost. She's going to make fudge, and paper fairies. And her father is going to give her a lot of fans,—Japanese ones,—and Dick is going to cut her out some fretwork things with his scroll-saw."
"Well, I think the ladies will have very helpful little assistants. I'll bring you a budget of things from the city, and we'll all have a bee to make candy for you."
The bee was great fun. The day before the Bazaar, Mr. Maynard brought home all sorts of goodies to make the candies with. He came home early that they might begin in the afternoon.
All the Maynard family went to work, and Ellen and Sarah helped some, too.
They made all sorts of candies that could be formed with the right shape and size for mottoes.
Rosy Posy, who loved to cut paper, snipped away at the sheets of printed verses, and really helped by cutting the couplets apart, all ready to be tucked into the papers with the candies.
The result of their labors was a big box of lovely-looking "mottoes," all neatly twisted into fringed or scalloped papers of bright colors.
King proposed that Midget should have a restaurant at the Bazaar, and serve macaroni, and mackerel, muskmelons, and milk.
But Mr. Maynard said he feared that would necessitate medicine and medical attendance.