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قراءة كتاب The Adopting of Rosa Marie (A Sequel to Dandelion Cottage)

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‏اللغة: English
The Adopting of Rosa Marie
(A Sequel to Dandelion Cottage)

The Adopting of Rosa Marie (A Sequel to Dandelion Cottage)

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 6

roofs of the town stood out sharply; but at this quiet hour they seemed very far away.

Mabel, seated on the wooden box that she had placed under the window, leaned back against the house and clasped her hands about her knees, while she gazed dreamily at the picture and listened with enjoyment to the faint lap of the quiet water on the pebbled beach.

Both Mabel and Rosa Marie had had a busy day. Both had taken unusual exercise. And now all the sights and sounds were soothing, soothing.

You can guess what happened. Both little girls fell asleep. Rosa Marie, flat on her stomach, pillowed her head on her chubby arms. Mabel's head, drooping slowly forward, grew heavier and heavier until finally it touched her knees.

An hour later, the sleepy head had grown so very heavy that it pulled Mabel right off the box and tumbled her over in a confused, astonished heap on the ground.

"My goodness!" gasped Mabel, still on hands and knees. "Where am I, anyway? Is this Saturday or Sunday? Why! It's all dark. This—this isn't my room—why! why! I'm outdoors! How did I get outdoors?"

Mabel stood up, took a step forward, stumbled over Rosa Marie and went down on all-fours.

"What's that!" gasped bewildered Mabel, groping with her hands. She felt the rough black head, the plump body, the round legs, the bare feet of her sleeping charge. Memory returned.

"Why! It's Rosa Marie, and we're waiting here by the lake for her mother. It—ugh! It must be midnight!"

But it wasn't. It was just exactly twenty minutes after seven o'clock but, with the autumn sun gone early to bed, it certainly seemed very much later. The house was still deserted.

"I guess," said Mabel, feeling about in the dark for Rosa Marie's fat hand, "we'd better go home—or some place. Come, Rosa Marie, wake up. I'm going to take you home with me. Oh, please wake up. There's nobody here but us. It's way in the middle of the night and there might be anything in those awfully black bushes."

But Rosa Marie, deprived of her noontide nap, slumbered on. Mabel shook her.

"Do hurry," pleaded frightened Mabel. "I don't like it here."

It was anything but an easy task for Mabel to drag the sleeping child to her feet, but she did it. Rosa Marie, however, immediately dropped to earth again. During the day she had seemed stiff; but now, unfortunately, she proved most distressingly limber. She seemed, in fact, to possess more than the usual number of joints, and discouraged Mabel began to fear that each joint was reversible.

"Goodness!" breathed Mabel, when Rosa Marie's knees failed for the seventh time, "it seems wicked to shake you very hard, but I've got to."

Even with vigorous and prolonged shakings it took time to get Rosa Marie firmly established on her feet, and the children had walked more than a block of the homeward way before Rosa Marie opened one blinking eye under the street lamp.

If it had been difficult to make the uphill journey in broad daylight with Rosa Marie wide awake and moderately willing, it was now a doubly difficult matter with that young person half or three-quarters asleep and most decidedly unwilling.

"I wish to goodness," grumbled Mabel, stumbling along in the dark, "that I'd borrowed a real baby and not a heathen."

The longest journey has an end. The children reached Dandelion Cottage at last. Mabel found the key, unlocked the door, tumbled Rosa Marie, clothes and all, into the middle of the spare-room bed; waited just long enough to make certain that the Indian baby slept; then, reassured by gentle, half-breed snores, Mabel, still supposing the time to be midnight, ran home, climbed into her own bed nearly an hour earlier than usual and was soon sound asleep. Her mind was too full of other matters to wonder why the front door was unlocked at so late an hour.

Mrs. Bennett, dressing to go to a party, heard her daughter come in.

"How fortunate!" said she. "Now I shan't have to go to Jean's and Marjory's and Bettie's to hunt for Mabel. She must be tired to-night—she doesn't often go to bed so early."


CHAPTER V
Returning Rosa Marie

EARLY the next morning, Jean, needing her thimble to sew on a vitally necessary button, ran to the supposedly empty cottage to get it. Taking the short cut through the Tuckers' back yard she found Bettie feeding Billy, the seagull, one of Bob's numerous pets.

"Billy always wakes everybody up crying for his breakfast," explained thoughtful little Bettie. "Bob's spending a week at the Ormsbees' camp, so I have to get up to feed Billy so father can sleep."

"Why don't the other boys do it?"

"Mercy! They'd sleep through anything. Going to the Cottage?"

"Yes, come with me," returned Jean, "while I get my thimble. It's so big that it almost takes two to carry it."

"All right," laughed Bettie, crawling through the hole in the fence.

Jean's thimble was a standing joke. A stout and prudent godmother had bestowed a very large one on the little girl so that Jean would be in no danger of outgrowing the gift. Jean was now living in hopes of sometime growing big enough to fit the thimble.

"Why!" exclaimed Jean, after a brief search, "the key isn't under the doormat! Where do you s'pose it's gone?"

"Here it is in the door. But how in the world did it get there? I locked that door myself last night and tucked the key under the mat. I know I did."

"I saw you do it," corroborated Jean.

"Perhaps Marjory's inside."

"It isn't Mabel, anyway. She's always the last one up."

"Mercy me!" cried Bettie, who had been peeking into the different rooms to see if Marjory were inside. "Come here, Jean. Just look at this!"

"This" was brown little Rosa Marie sitting up in the middle of the pink and white spare-room bed, like, as Bettie put it, a brown bee in the heart of a rose. Her small dark countenance was absolutely expressionless, so there was no way of discovering what she thought about it all.

"My sakes!" exclaimed Jean, with indignation, "that lazy Mabel never took her home, after all! Why! We'll have a whole band of wild Indians coming to scalp us right after breakfast! How could she have been so careless. This is the worst she's done yet."

"But it's just like Mabel," said Bettie, giving vent, for once, to her disapproval of Mabel's thoughtlessness. "She likes things ever so much at first. Then she simply forgets that they ever existed."

"Who forgets?" demanded Mabel, bouncing in at the front door.

"You," returned Jean and Bettie, with one accusing voice.

"Prove it."

"You forgot to take Rosa Marie home last night."

"I never did. I took her every inch of the way home, stayed with her all alone in the dark for pretty nearly a year, and then had to bring her all the way back again, walking in her sleep. So there, now!"

"But why in the world didn't you leave her with her own folks?"

"Her horrid mother wasn't there. And between 'em, I didn't get any supper and only a little sleep."

"But what are you going to do?" queried astonished Jean.

"After she drinks this quart of milk," explained Mabel, "I'm going to take her home again."

"Where did you get so much milk?" asked Bettie, suspiciously.

Mabel colored furiously. "I begged it from the milkman," she confessed. "That's why I'm

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