Sextoness Jane was just locking the back door—not the least important part of the afternoon’s duties with her—as they came through the opening in the hedge. “Good afternoon,” she said cheerily, “was you wanting to go inside?”
“No,” Pauline answered, “we came over to invite you to join our club. We thought, maybe, you’d like to?”
“My Land!” Jane stared from one to another of them. “And wear one of them blue-ribbon affairs?”
“Yes, indeed,” Shirley laughed. “See, here it is,” and she pointed to the one in Pauline’s hand.
Sextoness Jane came down the steps. “Me, I ain’t never wore a badge! Not once in all my life! Oncet, when I was a little youngster, ’most like Patience, teacher, she got up some sort of May doings. We was all to wear white dresses and red, white and blue ribbons—very night before, I come down with the mumps. Looks like I always come down when I ought to’ve stayed up!”
“But you won’t come down with anything this time,” Pauline pinned the blue badge on the waist of Jane’s black and white calico. “Now you’re an honorary member of ‘The S. W. F. Club.’”
Jane passed a hand over it softly. “My Land!” was all she could say.
She was still stroking it softly as she walked slowly away towards home. My, wouldn’t Tobias be interested!
AT THE MANOR
“’All the names I know from
Gardener’s garters, Shepherd’s purse,
Bachelor’s buttons, Lady’s smock,
And the Lady Hollyhock,’”
Patience chanted, moving slowly about the parsonage garden, hands full of flowers, and the big basket, lying on the grass beyond, almost full.
Behind her, now running at full speed, now stopping suddenly, back lifted, tail erect, came Lucky, the black kitten from The Maples. Lucky had been an inmate of the parsonage for some weeks now and was thriving famously in her adopted home. Towser tolerated her with the indifference due such a small, insignificant creature, and she alternately bullied and patronized Towser.
“We haven’t shepherd’s purse, nor lady’s smock, that I know of, Lucky,” Patience said, glancing back at the kitten, at that moment threatening battle at a polite nodding Sweet William, “but you can see for yourself that we have hollyhocks, while as for bachelor’s buttons! Just look at that big, blue bunch in one corner of the basket.”
It was the morning of the day of Shirley’s turn and Pauline was hurrying to get ready to go over and help decorate the manor. She was singing, too; from the open windows of the “new room” came the words—
“’A cheerful world?—It
And if you understand your biz
You’ll taboo the worry worm,
And cultivate the happy germ.’”
To which piece of good advice, Patience promptly whistled back the gay refrain.