“Have they got a doll?” said Betsy, thinking this was the very climax of Putney queerness.
“Oh my, yes!” said Molly, eagerly. “She’s the one Mrs. Putney had when she was a little girl. And she’s got the loveliest clothes! She’s in the hair-trunk under the eaves in the attic. They let me take her down once when I was there with Mother. And Mother said she guessed, now a little girl had come there to live, they’d let her have her down all the time. I’ll bring mine over next Saturday, if you want me to. Mine’s got yellow hair, but she’s real pretty anyhow. If Father’s going to mill that day, he can leave me there for the morning.”
[Illustration with caption: Betsy shut her teeth together hard, and started across.]
Elizabeth Ann had not understood more than one word in five of this, but just then the school-bell rang and they went back, little Molly helping Elizabeth Ann over the log and thinking she was being helped, as before.
They ran along to the little building, and there I’m going to leave them, because I think I’ve told enough about their school for one while. It was only a poor, rough, little district school anyway, that no Superintendent of Schools would have looked at for a minute, except to sniff.
If you don’t like conversation in A book skip this chapter!
Betsy opened the door and was greeted by her kitten, who ran to her, purring and arching her back to be stroked.
“Well,” said Aunt Abigail, looking up from the pan of apples in her lap, “I suppose you’re starved, aren’t you? Get yourself a piece of bread and butter, why don’t you? and have one of these apples.”
As the little girl sat down by her, munching fast on this provender, she asked: “What desk did you get?”
Elizabeth Ann thought for a moment, cuddling Eleanor up to her face. “I think it is the third from the front in the second row.” She wondered why Aunt Abigail cared. “Oh, I guess that’s your Uncle Henry’s desk. It’s the one his father had, too. Are there a couple of H. P.’s carved on it?”
“His father carved the H. P. on the lid, so Henry had to put his inside. I remember the winter he put it there. It was the first season Mother let me wear real hoop skirts. I sat in the first seat on the third row.”
Betsy ate her apple more and more slowly, trying to take in what Aunt Abigail had said. Uncle Henry and his father—why Moses or Alexander the Great didn’t seem any further back in the mists of time to Elizabeth Ann than did Uncle Henry’s father! And to think he had been a little boy, right there at that desk! She stopped chewing altogether for a moment and stared into space. Although she was only nine years old, she was feeling a little of the same rapt wonder, the same astonished sense of the reality of the people who have gone before, which make a first visit to the Roman Forum such a thrilling event for grown-ups. That very desk!