In the Maynards’ side yard at Rockwell, a swingful of children was slowly swaying back and forth.
The swing was one of those big double wooden affairs that hold four people, so the Maynards just filled it comfortably.
It was a lovely soft summer day in the very beginning of June; the kind of day that makes anybody feel happy but a little bit subdued. The kind of day when the sky is so blue, and the air so clear, that everything seems dreamy and quiet.
But the Maynard children were little, if any, affected by the atmosphere, and though they did seem a trifle subdued, it was a most unusual state of things, and was brought about by reasons far more definite than sky or atmosphere.
Kingdon Maynard, the oldest of the four, and the only boy, was fourteen. These facts had long ago fixed his position as autocrat, dictator, and final court of appeal. Whatever King said, was law to the three girls, but as the boy was really a mild-mannered tyrant, no trouble ensued. Of late, though, he had begun to show a slight inclination to go off on expeditions with other boys, in which girls were not included. But this was accepted by his sisters as a natural course of events, for of course, if King did it, it must be all right.
Next to Kingdon in the swing sat the baby, Rosamond, who was five years old, and who was always called Rosy Posy. She held in her arms a good-sized white Teddy Bear, who was adorned with a large blue bow and whose name was Boffin. He was the child’s inseparable companion, and, as he was greatly beloved by the other children, he was generally regarded as a member of the family.
On the opposite seat of the swing sat Kitty, who was nine years old, and who closely embraced her favorite doll, Arabella.
And by Kitty’s side sat Marjorie, who was almost twelve, and who also held a pet, which, in her case, was a gray Persian kitten. This kitten was of a most amiable disposition, and was named Puff, because of its fluffy silver fur and fat little body.
Wherever Marjorie went, Puff was usually with her, and oftenest hung over her arm, looking more like a fur boa than a cat.
At the moment, however, Puff was curled up in Marjorie’s lap, and was merely a nondescript ball of fur.
These, then, were the Maynards, and though their parents would have said they had four children, yet the children themselves always said, “We are seven,” and insisted on considering the kitten, the doll, and the bear as members of the Maynard family.
Kingdon scorned pets, which the girls considered quite the right thing for a boy to do; and, anyway, Kingdon had enough to attend to, to keep the swing going.
“I ’most wish it wasn’t my turn,” said Marjorie, with a little sigh. “Of course I want to go for lots of reasons, but I’d love to be in Rockwell this summer, too.”