Indeed, they were a very busy quartette—the W.M.N.T.’s. Rosie went to school every day. She climbed out of her window no more at night. She seemed to prefer helping Maida in the shop to anything else. Arthur Duncan was equally industrious. With no Rosie to play hookey with, he, too, was driven to attending school regularly. His leisure hours were devoted to his whittling and wood-carving. He was always doing kind things for Maida and Granny, bringing up the coal, emptying the ashes, running errands.
And so November passed into December.
CHAPTER XII: THE FIRST SNOW
“Look out the window, my lamb,” Granny called one morning early in December. Maida opened her eyes, jumped obediently out of bed and pattered across the room. There, she gave a scream of delight, jumping up and down and clapping her hands.
“Snow! Oh goody, goody, goody! Snow at last!”
It looked as if the whole world had been wrapped in a blanket of the whitest, fleeciest, shiningest wool. Sidewalks, streets, crossings were all leveled to one smoothness. The fences were so muffled that they had swelled to twice their size. The houses wore trim, pointy caps on their gables. The high bushes in the yard hung to the very ground. The low ones had become mounds. The trees looked as if they had been packed in cotton-wool and put away for the winter.
“And the lovely part of it is, it’s still snowing,” Maida exclaimed blissfully.
“Glory be, it’ull be a blizzard before we’re t’rough wid ut,” Granny said and shivered.
Maida dressed in the greatest excitement. Few children came in to make purchases that morning and the lines pouring into the schoolhouse were very shivery and much shorter than usual. At a quarter to twelve, the one-session bell rang. When the children came out of school at one, the snow was whirling down thicker and faster than in the morning. A high wind came up and piled it in the most unexpected places. Trade stopped entirely in the shop. No mother would let her children brave so terrific a storm.
It snowed that night and all the next morning. The second day fewer children went to school than on the first. But at two o’clock when the sun burst through the gray sky, the children swarmed the streets. Shovels and brooms began to appear, snow-balls to fly, sleigh-bells to tinkle.
Rosie came dashing into the shop in the midst of this burst of excitement. “I’ve shoveled our sidewalk,” she announced triumphantly. “Is anything wrong with me? Everybody’s staring at me.”
Maida stared too. Rosie’s scarlet cape was dotted with snow, her scarlet hat was white with it. Great flakes had caught in her long black hair, had starred her soft brows—they hung from her very eyelashes. Her cheeks and lips were the color of coral and her eyes like great velvety moons.
“You look in the glass and see what they’re staring at,” Maida said slyly. Rosie went to the mirror.