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Those Dale Girls

Frances Carruth Prindle

  Produced by Roger Frank and the Online DistributedProofreading Team at


  Those Dale Girls


  Frances Weston Carruth

  In the world's broad field of battle, In the bivouac of Life, Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife! --_Longfellow._

  Chicago A. C. McClurg & Co. 1899

  Copyright By A. C. McCLURG & CO. A. D. 1899




  She Shook a Wire Cage Energetically over the Coals Frontispiece

  The Girl Sat Down on the Arm of His Chair 48

  "May I Have a Guess, Miss Dale?" 114

  There Were the Girls in Their Cotton Gowns 188

  Julie Was in Bed When Hester Came In That Night 232

  The Wedding Breakfast 304



  "Julie Dale, you're the laziest thing in creation! Come down from thatwindow-seat and help."

  "Can't, my dear," a gay young voice responded. "I'm as 'comfy as comfycan be.'"

  "Look at her, Peter Snooks," said Hester to a fox-terrier at her side;"just look at her! She's curled up in a heap, reveling in thatfascinating Kipling, with her mouth all screwed up for this popcorn,which she thinks we will take in state to her ladyship. But we'll foolher--eh, Snooks? We'll fool her completely. We'll just sit complacentlyon the floor and eat it all up ourselves."

  The dog jumped about rapturously. The girl, who was kneeling before anopen fire, shook a wire cage energetically over the coals, and watchedthe corn burst into great white flakes.

  "It does _smell_ delicious," came in an insinuating tone from thewindow-seat across the room.

  Hester maintained a lofty silence, and tipping the corn into a bowl,sprinkled it with salt, adding dabs of butter. She then tossed a pieceto the dog, and began to sample it herself with apparent satisfaction,for she smacked her lips and said, reflectively, as she put her hands toher burning cheeks: "I believe it is quite worth ruining my complexionover."

  Suddenly she whisked up bowl and dog, and crossing the room, droppedboth on the seat beside her sister. "There!" she exclaimed, "you knew Iwould never eat it alone, even if you are a duffer!"

  "'Duffer' is most inelegant" (this from Julie in an assumption of sternreproach); "I do not see wherever you picked up such a word."

  "Read it in a book," quoted Hester, laughing. This was a joke oflongstanding between them--to hold literature responsible for anysuspicious scraps of knowledge. It was a phrase they used also with muchfrequency in argument, particularly when the subject was beyond therange of their experience. "Don't know a thing about it, read it in abook," one of them would say facetiously, by way of backing up someremarkable statement, and feel herself at once relieved from personalresponsibility.

  "You need not put on such frills," Hester now said to her sister. "Youknow you adore slang yourself."

  Julie was gazing out of the window. "Look, Hester, quick! There go thecrew! How they are skimming down the river! I'd no idea they trained outhere, had you?"

  Both girls watched intently as the narrow shell shot by, the men pullingthe long, steady stroke which was the pride of their university.

  "Aren't they splendid?" Hester exclaimed, enthusiastically. "I wish weknew some of the college men, Julie, don't you?"

  "It would be fun. I'd like to see something of college life. Perhaps wemay meet an occasional senior if Miss Ware takes us about any thiswinter."

  "Do you suppose he'd be nice?" inquired Hester, quizzically. "I don'tthink we know much about very young men, do you? All we've known havebeen so much older than we are."

  Julie puckered up her forehead and gazed after the vanishing crew. Shewas trying to classify an unknown species.

  "It does seem odd," continued Hester, "_our_ contemplating formalsociety, doesn't it? I believe I shall hate it. We have roamed aroundwith Daddy too much to be quite like pattern society girls."

  "I tell you what we'll do, Hester; we'll go out with Miss Ware, meetloads of people and pick out a nice congenial few whom Dad will like,too, and just cultivate them informally. You know how Dad dislikessociety in the conventional sense, but he wants us to take our properplace; and of course we ought to know people, now that we have reallysettled down in Radnor to live."

  "Heavens! but you're clever, Julie! We might set up a salon; only thewise, the witty and the beautiful need apply. Which class would we comeunder ourselves, do you think? We can begin with Dr. Ware and all theold dears--only he never seems old a bit--that Dad is always bringinghome to dinner, and add any new dears we meet and think eligible."

  Julie laughed. "It sounds like a herd or something." Then, with suddengravity, she said: "Hester, dear, I'm anxious about Dad. I can't justexplain it, but somehow he's been different ever since we've been here.Haven't you noticed how preoccupied he is and tired all the time, sounlike Dad? The other day I spoke to him about it, and he shook his headand said I mustn't be so observant, that he happened to have an unusualstress of business, that was all. But I don't know," she continued,meditatively; "I can't seem to throw off this queer feeling about him."

  Hester regarded her with wide-open eyes. "You frighten me, Julie." Thenleaning toward her sister, she shook her finger admonishingly. "How dareyou go on having worries by yourself and not letting me know a thingabout them?" she said, lightly. "I think it is all your imagination. Idare say Daddy has heaps of extra things on his hands because of all thetime he spent gadding with us in Europe. Of course, that's it, yougoosey," the idea gaining strength in her mind, "_of course_. You and Iand Peter Snooks must be more amusing, and make him laugh and forget the'stress of business.' Ugh! what a horrid expression that is! Now I thinkof it, he hasn't laughed lately, Julie, has he?" She looked up with anevident desire to be contradicted.

  Julie shook her head.

  Hester sprang up from her seat, and seizing the dog by the forepaws,danced him violently about the room. "We need a shaking up, PeterSnooks, or we'll not be allowed to jingle our bells any longer at thecourt of his majesty Dad the Great! Who ever heard of jesters neglectingtheir duties! His royal highness must laugh," she said gayly, "or he'llcry, 'Off with their heads!' like Alice's fierce old queen." Sheemphasized this possible calamity by swinging the dog up in the air andherself executing a daring _pas seul_ before she dropped breathless in achair. "I had rather die than be stupid, hadn't you, Julie?" she gasped,between breaths.

  "In that case I think you will be spared to us a while yet," replied hersister, with quiet humor.

  "So glad you think we're a success," Hester said, cheerfully. "PeterSnooks, do you hear? we're a success--she approves!" The dog lay pantingon the floor, and wagged his tail in understanding of the compliment."We'll give a private exhibition to his majesty to-night after dinner.How he will laugh! We will elaborate this feeble effort and call it 'TheDance of Joy.' Things are always more interesting with names," she said,decisively. "Julie, you be showman and introduce us."

  Julie took her cue immediately, and rising, bowed low. "Ladies andgentle
men (that means Dad)--ladies and gentlemen, I shall now have thehonor of presenting to your astonished vision the wonderful and original'Dance of Joy'--"

  The library door opened suddenly, and a middle-aged woman entered andclosed the door after her. She stopped just inside the threshold, andlooking from one to the other with a scared face, stood wringing herhands helplessly.

  "Good gracious! what is the matter, Bridget?" Julie ejaculated. "Tellus--you look frightened to death."

  The woman opened her lips and closed them with a moan. No word escapedher.

  Both girls were beside her in an instant, and Julie gave her a littleshake.

  "Is it Daddy? What has happened? Bridget, Bridget, speak!" Herbeseeching young voice cried out with instinctive fear.

  "They're bringing him in," Bridget gasped at last. "He took sick in theoffice with a stroke. Dr. Ware's with them. He sez you're not to see himyet. He sez I'm to keep you in here till he comes--the Doctor, I mean."Her words came in a tumult of confusion.

  "Is--he--dead?" Julie asked. "Bridget, tell me the truth."

  It seemed to the girls that they lived an eternity in the second beforethe woman said: "No, no, he's not dead. Whatever made you say such afearful thing?" She buried her face in her apron and wept bitterly."He's tired out and sick altogether, the dear man. I've seen it comin'this long time."

  Hester looked at Julie with a sort of awe. The sound of footsteps in thehall outside penetrated with ominous distinctness into the library.

  Julie said tremulously, "Hester, dear, I am going to Dad; they shall notkeep us away."

  "No, they shall not. We are not babies; we must go and help."

  "That's what I wus after tellin' the Doctor you'd say," Bridget sobbed,"an' it's not for me to be lavin' you here all alone, an' me all overthe house to onct. But if yez wouldn't go now, darlin's. Just wait tillhe's took to his room, an' 'twould be better--indeed, believe your oldBridget, it would!"

  The impetuosity of youth in the shock of joy or sorrow is not to bechecked. The girls went into the hall, to see a stretcher, on which laytheir father, being borne up the stairs, while Dr. Ware and two men, whoproved to be trained nurses, brought up the rear of the littleprocession.

  "Dr. Ware," whispered the girls, slipping up close to him with blanchedfaces, "we know--we must help, too."

  He took them each by the hand, as if they were little children, andturned them back before they could reach their father's side.

  "Dear little girls," he said, gently, "you can help your father most bydoing as I ask. It is hard to be shut out, I know, but you can donothing now. Later, perhaps, you can do--everything. I will tell youfrankly, he is a very sick man. I have no wish to hide anything fromyou, but we shall try and get him better--much. I have two experiencedmen, and Bridget here, and when we get him comfortably in bed you maycome in for a moment. He may not regain consciousness for many hours.Will you trust me and be guided by my better judgment?" looking down atthem earnestly.

  "Yes, yes," they both sobbed through the tears, now falling fast; "go toDad--don't think of us. We will do everything you say."

  "That pleases me--my brave little girls." He went on into Mr. Dale'schamber.

  Left to themselves, they huddled together outside their father's door,each trying to comfort the other. Peter Snooks, fully conscious that hisyoung mistresses were in trouble, climbed into Julie's lap and stuck hiswet nose into her hand in true canine sympathy. Though they did not putit into words, both girls were conscious of a curious sense ofremoteness from their father in being thus kept from him. Thisimmediate, poignant grief stung them bitterly and prevented for themoment any thought of what the future might hold.

  They never knew how long they had sat there on the stairs when Dr. Wareopened the bedroom door and beckoned them in. But they carried everafter a vivid impression of creeping stealthily to their father's bed,stooping to kiss the dear face, from which there was no answering signof recognition, and stealing softly out again. And in Julie's mind thereflashed always an accompanying picture--the remembrance of how, whenthey had reached the hall again, Hester had picked up a woe-begone,shivering little dog, and burying her face in his neck, whispered,brokenly: "Oh, Peter Snooks, how we were going--to--make--him--laugh!"