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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: 7

up so early. I've been sitting on our kitchen doorstep for two hours, waiting for him to come."

Mabel spent all that day industriously returning Rosa Marie to a home that had locked its doors against her. No pretty, dark, French mother stood in the doorway. No tall, dark man wandered about the yard. No neighbor came from the tumbling houses across the street to explain the woman's puzzling absence.

It proved a most tiresome day. Mabel was not only mentally weary from trying to solve the mystery, but physically tired also from dragging Rosa Marie up and down the hill between Dandelion Cottage and the child's deserted home. The girls went with her once, but, having satisfied their curiosity as to Rosa Marie's abiding-place, turned their attention to pleasanter tasks. Walking with Rosa Marie was too much like traveling with a snail. One such journey was enough.

Moreover, Mabel's pride had suffered. A grinning boy, looking from plump Mabel's ruddy countenance to fat Rosa Marie's expressionless brown one, had asked wickedly:

"Is that your sister? You look enough alike to be twins."

After that, Mabel feared that other persons might mistake the small brown person for a relative of hers, or, worse yet, mistake her for an Indian.

"Goodness me!" groaned Mabel, toiling homeward from her second trip, "it was hard enough to borrow a baby, but it's enough sight worse getting rid of one afterwards. There's one thing certain; I'll never borrow another."

Late in the day Mabel thought of Mrs. Malony, the egg-woman. Perhaps she would know what had become of Rosa Marie's vanished mother. Dropping Rosa Marie inside the gate, Mabel knocked at Mrs. Malony's door.

"The folks that lived in the shanty beyant?" asked Mrs. Malony. "Sure, darlint, nobody's lived there for years and years save gipsies and tramps and such like."

"But day before yesterday—no, yesterday morning—I saw a young Frenchwoman——"

"A black-eyed gal wid two long braids and wan small Injin? Sure, Oi know the wan you mane. Her man, Injin Pete, died a month ago, some two days after they come to the shack."

"But where is she now?" asked Mabel.

"Lord love ye," returned Mrs. Malony, "how wud Oi be after knowin'? She came and she wint, like the rest av thim."

"There was a man—not a gentleman and not exactly a tramp—talking to her yesterday. Perhaps you know where he is. I couldn't find anybody."

"Depind upon it," said Mrs. Malony, easily, "she's gone wid him. She's Mrs. Somebody Else by now, and good riddance to the pair av thim."

"But," objected Mabel, drawing the branches of a small shrub aside and disclosing Rosa Marie sprawling on the ground behind it, "she left her baby."

"The Nation, she did!" gasped Mrs. Malony, for once surprised out of her serenity. "Wud ye think of thot, now!"

"I've been thinking of it," returned Mabel, miserably. "And I don't know what in the world to do. You see, she left the baby with me."

"Take her home wid ye," advised Mrs. Malony, hastily; so hastily that it looked as if the Irishwoman feared that she might be asked to mother Rosa Marie. "I'll kape an eye on the shack for ye. If that good-for-nothin' black-haired wan comes back, Oi'll be up wid the news in two shakes of a dead lamb's tail, so Oi will. In the mane toime, be a mother to thot innocent babe yourself. She needs wan if iver a choild did."

"I've been that for two whole days now," groaned Mabel.

"Thot's right, thot's right," encouraged Mrs. Malony. "Ye were just cut out for thot same. Good luck go wid ye."

Rosa Marie spent a second night in the spare room of Dandelion Cottage. She, at least, seemed utterly indifferent as to her fate.

The Dark Secret

THE four Cottagers sat in solemn conclave round the dining-room table next morning. Rosa Marie, flat on her stomach on the floor, lapped milk like a cat and licked the bowl afterwards; but now no one paid the slightest attention.

"I think," said Jean, removing her elbows from the table, "that we'd better tell our mothers and Aunty Jane all about it at once. They'll know what to do."

"So do I," said Marjory.

"So do I," echoed Bettie.

"I don't," protested Mabel, whose hitherto serene countenance now showed signs of great anxiety. "If you ever tell anybody, I'll—I'll never speak to you again. This joke—if it is a joke—is on me. I got into this scrape and it's my scrape."

"But," objected Jean, "we always do tell our mothers everything. That's why they trust us to play all by ourselves in Dandelion Cottage."

"Give me just a few days," pleaded Mabel. "Perhaps that woman got kept away by some accident. I'm sure Rosa Marie's mother has mother feelings inside of her, some place—I saw 'em in her face when I was leading Rosa Marie away. I know she'll come back. Until she does, I'll take care of that poor deserted child myself."

"It's a blessing she never cries, anyway," observed Bettie. "If she were a howling child I don't know what we'd do. As it is, she's not much more trouble than a Teddy bear."

If Mrs. Mapes hadn't had a missionary box in her cellar to pack for Reservation Indians of assorted sizes and shapes with the cast-off garments of all Lakeville; if Mrs. Bennett had not been exceedingly busy with a seamstress getting ready to go out of town for an important visit; if Aunty Jane had not been even busier trying to make green tomato pickles out of ripe tomatoes; if Mrs. Tucker had not been too anxious about the throats of the youngest three Tuckers to give heed to the doings of the larger members of her family, these four good women would surely have discovered that something unusual was taking place under the Cottage roof. As it was, not one of the mothers, not even sharp Aunty Jane, discovered that the Cottagers were borrowing an amazing amount of milk from their respective refrigerators.

The novelty worn off, Rosa Marie became a heavy burden to at least three of the Cottagers' tender consciences. Mabel's conscience may have troubled her, but not enough to be noticed by a pair of moderately careless parents. Mabel, however, grew more and more attached to Rosa Marie; the others did not. To tell the truth, the borrowed infant was not an attractive child. Many small Indians are decidedly pretty, but Rosa Marie was not. Her small eyes were too close together, her upper lip was much too long for the rest of her countenance and her large mouth turned sharply down at the corners. But loyal Mabel was blind to these defects. She saw only the babyish roundness of Rosa Marie's body, the cunning dimples in her elbows and the affectionate gleam that sometimes showed in the small black eyes. But then, it was always Mabel who found beauty in the stray dogs and cats that no one else would have on the premises. During these trying days the Cottagers almost quarreled.

"That child is all cheeks," complained Marjory, petulantly. "They positively hang down. Do you suppose we're giving her too much milk? She's disgustingly fat, and she hasn't any figure."

"She has altogether too much figure," declared Jean, almost crossly. "I fastened this little petticoat around what I thought was her waist and it slid right off. So now I've got to make