“I think you’d have a hard time acting as if you were fifty, Dolly,” said Bessie, honestly, and trying to suppress a laugh but in vain. “You don’t, do you?”
“Of course not!” said Dolly, giggling frankly, and seemingly not at all hurt because Bessie did not take the recital of her troubles more seriously. “Aunt Mabel would like you, I don’t mean that you’re stiff and priggish like her, but you seem quieter than most of the girls, and more serious minded. I bet you like school.”
“I do,” laughed Bessie. “But I like vacations too, don’t you? This is the first time I ever really had one, though. I’ve always had to work harder in summer than in winter before this.”
“I think that’s dreadful, Bessie. Listen! You know all about farms, don’t you? Let’s go off by ourselves to-morrow and explore, shall we?”
“Maybe,” said Bessie. “We’ll see what we’re supposed to do.”
“All right! I’m sleepy, too. Bother what we’re supposed to do, Bessie! Let’s do what we like. This is vacation, and you’re supposed to do what you like in vacation time. So you see it’s all right, anyhow. We can do what we like and what we’re supposed to do both. That’s the way it ought always to be, I think.”
“They’d say we ought to want to do what we’re supposed to do, you know, Dolly. That’s the safe way. Then you can’t go wrong.”
“Well—but do you always want to do what you’re supposed to do?”
“I’m afraid not. Good-night!”
A STRANGE MEETING
Breakfast on the farm was just such another meal as supper had been. Again Bessie wondered at the profusion of good things that, at the Hoovers, had always been kept for sale instead of being used on the table. There was rich, thick cream, for instance, fresh fruit and all sorts of good things, so that anyone whose whole acquaintance with country fare was confined to what the Mercer farm provided might well have believed all the tales of the good food of the farm. Bessie knew, of course, without ever having thought much about it, that on many American farms, despite the ease with which fresh fruits and vegetables are to be had, a great deal of canned stuff is used.
“Bessie,” said Eleanor, after breakfast, “this is rather different from the Hoovers, isn’t it?”
“It certainly is,” agreed Bessie.
“Well, of course it isn’t possible right now, Bessie, but I’ve been thinking that some time, when Maw Hoover has gotten over her dislike for you, you may be able to teach her and some of the other farm women in Hedgeville how much more pleasant their lives could be.”
Bessie looked surprised.
“Why, I don’t believe I’ll ever dare go back there,” she said. “I believe Maw Hoover would be willing to put me in prison if she could for setting that barn on fire. I’m sure she thinks I did it. She wouldn’t believe it was Jake, with his silly trick of trying to frighten me with those burning sticks.”