“Jane’s sorry she can’t sleep with you, because she never sleeps well and is apt to disturb people, but she’s willing to let you take one of her blankets,” she said gently.
“Oh, thank you!” said Carmen, much comforted. “I’m going to sleep with Katherine. With this blanket there’ll be enough bedding to make a double. I’m glad I’m not going to sleep with Jane,” she confided to Katherine. “I’m afraid of her. I would lots rather have had you for my partner from the beginning, but I was afraid to ask you because I was sure you were promised to somebody else.”
“Motto,” said Katherine, laughing. “Faint heart never won lanky lady. Don’t ever hesitate to ask me anything again. Come on, let’s get this bed made up in a hurry. I see the councilors coming back. That means their show is going to commence.”
Of course, it was not long before Agony’s little passage of arms with Jane Pratt in behalf of timid little Carmen was known all over camp, and Agony went up another point in popular favor as Jane Pratt went down. The councilors heard about it, too, for whatever Bengal Virden knew was promptly confided to Pom-pom. Miss Judy told it to Dr. Grayson, and he nodded his head approvingly.
“It’s no more than you would expect from the girl who rescued that robin,” he said warmly. “The champion of all weaker creatures. Diplomatic, too. Tried to save Carmen’s feelings in the matter by not telling her the exact spirit in which Jane gave up the blanket. A good leader; another Mary Sylvester.”
Then, turning to Mrs. Grayson, he asked plaintively: “Mother, why do we have to be afflicted with Jane Pratt year after year? She’s been a thorn in our flesh for the past three summers.”
“I have told you before,” replied Mrs. Grayson resignedly, “that I only accept her because she is the daughter of my old friend Anne Dudley. I cannot offend Mrs. Pratt because I am under various obligations to her, so for the sake of her mother we must continue to be afflicted with Jane Pratt.”
Dr. Grayson heaved a long sigh, and muttered something about “the fell clutch of circumstance.”
“We seem rather plentifully saddled with ‘obligations,’” he remarked a moment later.
“Meaning?” inquired Mrs. Grayson.
“Claudia Peckham,” rejoined the Doctor. “Sweet Claudia Peckham: How she used to scrap with my little brothers when she came to visit us! She had a disposition like the bubonic plague when she was little, and by all the signs she doesn’t seem to have mellowed any with age.”
“Doctor!” exclaimed Mrs. Grayson reprovingly.
“Sad, but true,” continued the Doctor, his eyes twinkling reminiscently. “When she came to visit us the cat used to hide her kittens under the porch, and the whole household went into a regular state of siege. By the way, how is she getting on? I’ve lived in fear of the explosion every minute. I never thought she’d last this long. Who has she in the tent with her?”