List Of Contents | Contents of A Summer in a Canyon, by Kate Douglas Wiggin
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better fortune next time.'

'There are eight more of them burning on the griddles this moment,
Polly,' said Bell, scathingly; 'and as they are yours, not mine, I
advise you to throw them in the brook, with the rest of the batter,
so that Hop Yet won't know that there has been a failure.'

'Some people blight everything they touch,' sighed Polly, gloomily,
as she departed for the kitchen.

'But when I lie in the green kirkyard -

'Oh, Polly, dear,' interrupted Margery, 'that apology will not serve
any longer; you've used it too often.'

'This is going to be entirely different,' continued Polly,

'But when I lie in the green kirkyard,
   With the mould upon my breasts
Say not that she made flapjacks well,
   Only, she did her best.'

'We promise!' cried Bell.


'"O frabjous day!  Calooh!  Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.'

Polly's birthday dawned auspiciously.  At six o'clock she was kissed
out of a sound sleep by Bell and Margery, and the three girls slipped
on their wrappers, and prepared to run through the trees for a
morning plunge in Mirror Pool.  Although it was August there was
still water enough in Minnehaha Brook to give one a refreshing dip.
Mirror Pool was a quarter of a mile distant and well guarded with
rocks and deep hidden in trees; but a little pathway had been made to
the water's edge, and thus the girls had easy access to what they
called The Mermaid's Bath.  A bay-tree was adorned with a little
redwood sign, which bore a picture of a mermaid, drawn by Margery,
and below the name these lines in rustic letters:-

   'A hidden brook,
That to the sleeping woods all night
Singeth a quiet tune.'

Laura had not lived long enough in the woods to enjoy these cold
plunges; and, as her ideal was a marble tub, with scented water, and
a French maid to apply the same with a velvet sponge, it is not much
wonder.  She insisted that, though it was doubtless a very romantic
proceeding, the bottom and sides of the natural tub were quite too
rocky and rough for her taste, and that she should be in constant
terror of snakes curling round her toes.

'I've a great mind to wake Laura, just for once,' said Bell, opening
the tent door.  'There never was such a morning!  (I believe I've
said that regularly every day; but I simply never can get used to
it.)  There must have been a wonderful sunrise, dears, for the glow
hasn't faded yet.  Not a bit of morning fog--that's good for Elsie.
And what a lovely day for a birthday!  Did they use to give you
anything like this in Vermont, Polly?'

'Hardly,' said Polly, peering over Bell's shoulder.  'Let's see.
What did they give us in Vermont this month?  Why, I can't think of
anything but dog-days, hot nights, and hay fever; but that sounds
ungrateful.  Why, Geoff's up already!  There's Elsie's bunch of
vines, and twigs, and pretty things hanging on her tent-door.  He's
been off on horseback.  Just my luck to have him get up first.  Jack
always does, you know; and last night I sewed up the tent-opening
with carpet-thread, good and tight, overhand--stitches I wouldn't be
ashamed of at a sewing-school.'

'Oh you naughty girl!' laughed Bell.  'The boys could rip it open
with a knife in half the time it took you to sew it.'

'Certainly.  I didn't mean to keep them sewed up all day; but I
thought I'd like Jack to remember me the first thing this morning.'

'Girls,' whispered Margery, excitedly, 'don't stand there mooning--or
sunning--for ever!  I thought there was a gopher in this tent last
night.  I heard something scratching, and I thought it was the dog
outside; but just look at these two holes almost under Laura's

'Let's fill them up, cover them over--anything!' gasped Bell.  'Laura
will never sleep here another night if she sees them.'

'Nobody insured Laura against gophers,' said Polly.  'She must take
the fortunes of war.'

'I wouldn't wake her,' said Margery.  'She didn't sleep well, and her
face is flushed.  Come, or we shall be late for breakfast.'

When they returned, fresh and rosy, from their bath, there was a stir
of life in all the tents.  Pancho had come from the stage-station
with mail; an odour of breakfast issued from the kitchen, where Hop
Yet was humming a fragment of Chinese song, that ran something like
this,--not loud, but unearthly enough, as Bell used to say, to spoil
almost any cooking:-

[Music follows]
Fong fong mongmong tiu he sun yi-u
sow chong how ki-u me yun tan-tar che ku choi song!

Dicky was abroad, radiant in a new suit of clothes, and Elsie pushed
her golden head out between the curtains, and proclaimed herself
strong enough for a wrestling-match with any boy or man about the

But they found Laura sitting on the edge of her straw bed, directly
over the concealed gopher-holes, a mirror in her hand and an
expression of abject misery on her countenance.

'What's the matter?' cried the girls in one breath.  But they needed
no answer, as she turned her face towards the light, for it was
plainly a case of poison-oak--one eye almost closed, and the cheek
scarlet and swollen.

'Where do you suppose you got it?' asked Bell.

'Oh, I don't know.  It's everywhere; so I don't see how I ever hoped
to escape it.  Yet I've worn gloves every minute.  I think I must
have touched it when I went up the mountain trail with Jack.  I'm a
perfect fright already, and I suppose it has only begun.'

'Is it very painful?' asked Polly, sympathetically.  'Oh, you do look
so funny, I can hardly help laughing, but I'm as sorry as I can be.'

'I should expect you to laugh--you generally do,' retorted Laura.
'No, it's not painful yet; but I don't care about that--it's looking
so ridiculous.  I wonder if Dr. Winship could send me home.  I wish
now that I had gone with Scott, for I can't be penned up in this tent
a week.'

'Oh, it won't hurt you to go out,' said Bell, 'and you can lie in the
sitting-room.  Just wait, and let mamma try and cure you.  She's a
famous doctor.'  And Bell finished dressing hurriedly, and went to
her mother's tent, while Polly and Margery smoothed the bed with a
furtive kick of straw over the offending gopher-holes, and hung a
dark shawl so as to shield Laura's eyes.

Aunt Truth entered speedily, with a family medical guide under one
arm, and a box of remedies under the other.

'The doctor has told me just what to do, and he will see you after
breakfast himself.  It doesn't look so very bad a case, dear; don't
run about in the sun for a day or two, and we'll bring you out all
right.  The doctor has had us all under treatment at some time or
other, because of that troublesome little plant.'

'I don't want to get up to breakfast,' moaned Laura.

'Just as you like.  But it is Polly's birthday, you know (many happy
returns, my sweet Pollykins), and there are great preparations going

'I can't help it, Mrs. Winship.  The boys would make fun of my looks;
and I shouldn't blame them.'

'Appear as the Veiled Lady,' suggested Margery, as Mrs. Winship went

'I won't come, and that's the end of it,' said Laura.  'Perhaps if I
bathe my face all the morning I can come to dinner.'

After breakfast was cleared away, Hop Yet and Mrs. Howard's little
China boy Gin were given a half-holiday, and allowed to go to a--
neighbouring ranch to see a 'flend' of Hop Yet's; for it was a part
of the birthday scheme that Bell and Geoffrey should cook the
festival dinner.

Jack was so delighted at the failure of Polly's scheme to sew him in
his tent, that he simply radiated amiability, and spent the whole
morning helping Elsie and Margery with a set of elaborate dinner-
cards, executed on half-sheets of note-paper.

The dinner itself was a grand success.  Half of the cards bore a
caricature of Polly in the shape of a parrot, with the inscription
'Polly want a cracker?'  The rest were adorned with pretty sketches
of her in her camping-dress, a kettle in one hand, and underneath,

'Polly, put the kettle on,
We'll all have tea.'

This was the bill of fare arranged by Bell and Geoffrey, and written
on the reverse side of the dinner-cards

August 15, 18-.

'Come with a whoop, come with a call;
Come with a good will, or not at all.'


'She gave them some broth, she gave them some bread.'
'You shall have a fishy
In a little dishy.'
'Dear sensibility, O la!
I heard a little lamb cry ba-a!'
'The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker,
All jumped out of a roasted potato.'
'You, nor I, nor nobody knows,
Where oats, peas, beans, and barley grows.'
'Hickety, pickety, my pretty hen
Laid good eggs for gentlemen.'
Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief,
Taffy came to my house and stole a piece of beef.'
'A pie sat on a pear-tree.'
'The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts,
All on a summer's day.'
'You shall have an apple,
You shall have a plum.'
'I had a little nut-tree, nothing would it bear
But a silver nutmeg and a golden pear.'
'When I was a bachelor I lived by myself,
And all the bread and cheese I got I put upon the shelf.'
'One, two, three, how good you be!
I love coffee and Billy loves tea.'
'Oranges and lemons,
Says the bell of St. Clemen's.'

'What they ate I can't tell,
But 'tis known very well
That none of the party grew fat.'

Bell and Geoff took turns at 'dishing up' in the kitchen, and sat
down at the table between whiles; and they barely escaped being
mobbed when they omitted one or two dishes on the programme, and
confessed that they had been put on principally for the 'style' of
the thing,--a very poor excuse to a company of people who have made
up their mouths for all the delicacies of the season.

Jack was head waiter, and having donned a clean white blouse of Hop
Yet's and his best cap with the red button, from which dangled a
hastily improvised queue of black worsted, he proceeded to convulse
everybody with his Mongolian antics.  These consisted of most
informal remarks in clever pigeon English, and snatches of Chinese
melody, rendered from time to time as he carried dishes into the
kitchen.  Elsie laughed until she cried, and Laura sat in the
shadiest corner, her head artistically swathed in white tarlatan.

Polly occupied the seat of honour at the end of the table opposite
Dr. Winship, and was happier than a queen.  She wore her new green
cambric, with a bunch of leaves at her belt.  She was sun-burned, but
the freckles seemed to have disappeared mysteriously from her nose,
and almost any one would have admired the rosy skin, the dancing
eyes, and the graceful little auburn head, 'sunning over with curls.'

When the last bit of dessert had been disposed of, and Dicky had gone
to sleep in his mother's lap, like an infant boa-constrictor after a
hearty meal, the presentation of gifts and reading of poems took
place; and Polly had to be on the alert to answer all the nonsensical
jokes that were aimed at her.

Finally, Bell crowned the occasion by producing a song of Miss
Mulock's, which had come in the morning mail from some girl friend of
Polly's in the East, who had discovered that Polly's name had
appeared in poetry and song without her knowledge, and who thought
she might be interested to hear the composition.  With the aid of
Bell's guitar and Jack's banjo the girls and boys soon caught the
pretty air, and sung it in chorus.

1.  Pretty Pol-ly Ol-i-ver, will you be my own?
Pret-ty Pol-ly Ol-i-ver, as cold as a
stone; But my love has grown warm-er as
cold-er you've grown, O Pret-ty Pol-ly
Ol-i-ver, will you be my own?

2.  Pret-ty Pol-ly Ol-i-ver, I love you so dear!
Pret-ty Pol-ly Ol-i-ver, my hope and my
fear; I've wait-ed for you, sweet-heart, this
many a long year; For Pret-ty Pol-ly
Ol-i-ver, I've loved you so dear!

3.  Pret-ty Pol-ly Ol-i-ver, I'll bid you good bye:
Pret-ty Pol-ly Ol-i-ver, for you I'll not
die; You'll nev-er get a tru-er true
lov-er than I, So Pret-ty Pol-ly
Ol-i-ver, good-bye, love, good-bye!

At the end, Dr. Winship raised his glass of lemonade, and proposed to
drink Miss Oliver's health.  This was done with enthusiasm, and
Geoffrey immediately cried, 'Speech, speech!'

'I can't,' said Polly, blushing furiously.

'Speech!' sung Jack and Philip vociferously, pounding on the table
with knife-handles to increase the furore.

'Speech!' demanded the genial doctor, going over to the majority, and
smiling encouragingly at Polly, who was pushed to her feet before she
knew very well what she was doing.  'Oh, if Laura were not looking at
me,' she thought, 'I'd just like to speak right out, and tell them a
little bit of what is in my heart.  I don't care--I will!'

'I know you are all in fun,' she said, looking bravely into the good
doctor's eyes, 'and of course no one could make a proper speech with
Jack grinning like a Cheshire cat, but I can't help telling you that
this is the happiest summer and the happiest birthday of my whole
life, and that I scarcely remember nowadays that I have no father and
no brothers and sisters, for I have never been alone or unhappy since
you took me in among you and Bell chose me for her friend; and I
think that if you knew how grateful I am for my beautiful summer,
dear Dr. Paul and Aunt Truth, you would be glad that you gave it to
me, and I love you all, dearly, dearly, dearly!'  Whereupon the
impulsive little creature finished her maiden speech by dashing round
the table and giving Mrs. Winship one of her 'bear hugs,' at which
everybody laughed and rose from the table.

Laura Burton, who was thoroughly out of conceit with the world, and
who was never quite happy when other people seemed for the moment to
be preferred to herself, thought this burst of affection decidedly
theatrical, but she did not know of any one to whom she could confine
her opinions just then; indeed, she felt too depressed and out of
sorts to join in the general hilarity.

Dinner being over, Dr. Paul and the boys took the children and
sauntered up the canyon for a lazy afternoon with their books.  Elsie
went to sleep in the new hammock that the doctor had hung in the
sycamores back of the girls' sleeping-tent, and Mrs. Winship lay down
for her afternoon nap.  Pancho saddled the horses for Bell and
Margery, who went for a gallop.  Polly climbed into the sky-parlour
to write a long letter to her mother, and Laura was left to solitude
in the sleeping-tent.  Now everybody knows that a tent at midday is
not a particularly pleasant spot, and after many a groan at the glare
of the sun, which could not be tempered by any system of shawls, and
moans at the gopher-holes which she discovered while searching for
her ear-ring, and repeated consultations with the hand-glass at brief
intervals, during which she convinced herself that she looked worse
every minute,--she finally discovered a series of alarming new spots

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