It was early Spring. A warm sun shone down upon the city street. On the edge of the narrow brick sidewalk a little girl was sitting.
Her gingham dress was old and shabby. The short, brown coat had lost all its buttons, and a rusty pin held it together.
A faded blue cap partly covered her brown hair, which hung in short, loose curls around her face.
She had been sitting there almost an hour when a policeman came along. “I wonder where that girl belongs,” he said, as he looked down at her. “She is a new one on Chambers Street.” He walked on, but he looked back as he walked, to see if she went away. The child slowly raised her big, brown eyes to look after him. She watched him till he reached the corner by the meat shop; then she looked down and began to kick at the stones with her thin boots. At this moment a bell rang. A door opened in a building across the street, and many children came out. As they passed the little girl,
some of them looked at her. One little boy bent down to see her face, but she hid it under her arm.
"What are you afraid of?" he asked; “Who’s going to hurt you?"
She did not answer.
Another boy opened his lunch box as he passed, and shook out the pieces of bread, left from his lunch.
Soon the children were gone, and the street was quiet again.
The little girl kicked at the stones a few minutes; then she looked up. No one was looking at her, so she reached out one little hand and picked up a crust of bread.
In a wink the bread was in her mouth. She reached out for
another, brushed off a little dirt, and ate that also. Just then the policeman came down the street from the other corner. The child quickly bent her head and looked down. This time he came to where she sat, and stopped.
“Are you going to sit here all day, little girl?” he asked.
She did not answer.
“Your mother will be looking for you. You’d better run home now, like a good girl. Where do you live, anyway?”
He bent down and lifted her chin, so she had to look up at him.
“Where do you live, miss? Tell us now, that’s a good girl.”
“I don’t know” The child spoke slowly, half afraid.
0 come now, of course you know, a big girl like you ought to know. What’s the name of the street?”
I don t know.
“Ah, you’re only afraid of me. Don’t be afraid of Jim Cunneen now. I’ve a little girl at home just about your age.”
He waited for her to answer, but she said nothing.
“Come miss, you must think. How can I take you home if you don’t tell me where you live ?“
I don t know.
“Oh, dear me! That is all I get for an answer. Well then, I’ll have to take you down to the
station. May be you will find a tongue down there.”
As he spoke, he took hold of her arm to help her up. Then he tried one more question.
“What is your name
“My name is Clematis.” As she spoke she moved her arm, and out from the coat peeped a kitten. It was white, with a black spot over one eye.
“There, that is better,” answered the policeman. “Now tell me your last name.”
“That is all the name I have, just Clematis.”
“Well then, what is your father’s name?”
“I haven’t any father.”
“Ah, that is too bad, dear.
Then tell me your mother’s name.” He bent down lower to hear her reply.
“I haven’t any mother, either.”
“No father? No mother?” The policeman lifted her gently to her feet. “Well miss, we won’t stay here any longer. It is getting late.”
Just then the kitten stuck its head out from her coat and said, "Miew". It seemed very glad to move on.
‘What s that now, a cat. Where did you get that?”
“It is my kitty, my very own, so I kept it. I didn’t steal it. Its name is Deborah, and it is my very own.”
“Ah now she is finding her
tongue,” said the policeman, smiling; while Clematis hugged the kitten. But the little girl could tell him no more, so he led her along the street toward the police station. Before they had gone very far, they passed a baker’s shop. In the window were rolls, and cookies, and buns, and little cakes with jam and frosting on them. The smell of fresh bread came through the door.
What's the matter, miss. The man looked down, as Clematis stood still before the window.
She was looking through the glass, at the rolls, and cakes, and cookies.
The policeman smelled the fresh bread, and it made him hungry.
“Are you hungry, little girl ?“ he asked, looking down with a smile.
“Wouldn’t you be hungry if you hadn’t had anything to eat all day long?” Clematis looked up at him with tears in her big brown eyes.
“Nothing to eat all day? Why, you must be nearly starved!” As he spoke, the policeman started into the store, pulling Clematis after him. She was so surprised that she almost dropped her kitten.
“Miew,” said poor Deborah, as if she knew they were going to
starve no longer. But it was really because she was squeezed so Light she couldn’t help it.
“Now, Miss Clematis, do you see anything there you like?” Jim Cunneen smiled down at Clematis, as she peeped through the glass case at the things inside.
She stood silent, wiih her nose right against the glass. There were so many things to eat it almost took her breath away.
“Well, what do you say, little girl? Don’t you see anything you like?”
“May I choose anything I want?”
“Yes, miss. Just pick out what you like best.”
The lady behind the counter smiled, as the policeman lifted Clematis a little, so she could see better. There were cakes, and cookies, and buns, and doughnuts.
May I have a cream cake. asked Clematis.
“Of course you may. What else?” He, lifted her a bit higher.
Miew! said Deborah, from under her coat.
“Oh, excuse me, cat,” he said, as he set Clematis down. “I forgot you were there too.”
The woman laughed, as she took out a cream cake, a cookie with nuts on it, and a doughnut.
“May I eat them now?” asked Clematis, as she took the bag.
“You start right in, and if that’s not enough, you can have more. But don’t forget the cat.”
Jim Cunneen laughed with the baker woman, while Clematis began to eat the doughnut, as they started out. Before long they came to a brick building that had big doors.
“Here we are,” said the policeman. They turned, and went inside.
There another policeman was sitting at a desk behind a railing. “Well, who comes here?” asked the policeman at the desk.
That is more than I know, replied Jim Cunneen. I guess
she’s lost out of the flower show. She says her name is Clematis.”
Clematis said nothing. Her mouth was full of cream cake now, and a little cream was running over her fingers. Deborah was silent also. She was eating the last crumbs of the doughnut.
“Is that all you could find out?” The other man looked at Clematis.
“She says she has no father and no mother. Her cat is named Deborah. That is all she told me.
“Oh, well, I guess you scared her, Jim. Let me ask her. I’ll find out.”
The new policeman smiled at Clematis. “Come on now. sister,
he said. “Tell us where you live. That’s a good girl.”
Clematis reached up one hand and took hold of her friend’s big finger. She looked at the new policeman a moment.
“If you didn’t know where you lived, how could you tell anyone ?“ she said.
Jim Cunneen laughed. He liked to feel her little hand. “See how scared she is of me,” he said. “We are old friends now.."
Again they asked the little girl all the questions they could think of But it was of no use. She could not tell them where she lived. She would not tell them very much about herself.
At last the Captain came in. They told him about this queer little girl.
“We shall have to send her to the Home. If anyone claims her he can find her there.”
So Clematis and Deborah were tucked into the big station wagon; and Jim Cunneen took her to the Home, where lost children are sheltered and fed.
“This is the Children’s Home, miss. You will have a fine time here.” A young woman with a kind face opened the door.
The policeman did not go in. “Here is a child I found on Chambers Street,” he said. “We can’t find out where she lives.”
“Oh, I see,” said the woman.
“Could you take her in for a while, till we can find her parents?”
Yes, I guess we have room for her. Come in, little girl.”
At that moment there was a scratching sound, and Deborah stuck her head out. “Miew,” said Deborah, who was still hungry. Perhaps she thought it was another bakery.
“Dear me!” cried the young woman, “we can’t have that cat in here.
Clematis drew hack, and reached for Jim Cunneen’s hand.
“It’s a very nice cat, I’m sure,” said the policeman.
He felt sorry for Clematis. He knew how she loved her kitten.
"But it’s against the rules. The children can never have cats or dogs in here.” Clematis, with tears in her eyes, turned away.
“Come on,” she said to her big friend. “Let us go.” But Jim Cunneen drew her back. He loved little girls, and was also fond of cats. “Don’t you think the cook might need it for a day or two, to catch the rats?” he asked, with his best smile.
“Oh dear me, I don’t know. I don’t think so. It’s against the rules for children to bring in pets.”
"Ah then, just wait a minute. I’ll be right back."
The policeman ran down the
steps and around the corner of the house, while the young woman asked Clematis questions.
It's all right then, I;m sure, he called as he came back. Katie says she would be very glad to have that cat to help her catch the rats.”
The young woman laughed; Clematis dried her tears, and Jim Cunneen waved his hand and said goodby.
In another moment the door opened, and Clematis, with Deborah still in her arms, was in her new home.
It was supper hour at the Children’s Home) In the big (lining room three long tables were set.
At each place on the clean, bare table was a plate, a small yellow bowl, and a spoon. Beside each plate was a blue gingham bib. Jane, one of the girls in the Home, was filling the bowls on her table with milk from a big brown pitcher. Two little girls worked at each of the tables. While one filled the bowls, the other brought the bread. She put two thick slices of bread and a big cookie on each plate. The young woman who had let Clematis in, came to the table near the door.
“There is a new girl at your table tonight, Jane,” she said,
“She will sit next to me.”
“All right, Miss Rose,” answered Jane, carefully filling the last yellow bowl.
“Please may I ring the bell tonight, Miss Rose ?“ asked Sally, who had been helping Jane.
Miss Rose looked at the table. Every slice of bread and every cookie was in place. "Yes, dear; your work is well done. You may ring.”
At the sound of the supper bell, a tramping of many feet sounded in the long hall.
The doors of the dining room were opened, and Mrs. Snow came in, followed by a double line of little girls.
Each girl knew just where to
find her place, and stood waiting for the signal to sit. A teacher stood at the head of each table, and beside Miss Rose was the little stranger. Mrs. Snow was the housemother. She asked the blessing, while every little girl bowed her head. Clematis stared about at the other children all this time, and wondered what they were doing.
Now they were seated, and each girl buttoned her bib in place before she tasted her supper. Sally sat next to Clematis.
“They gave you a bath, didn’t they?” she said, as she put her bread into her bowl.
"And you got a nice clean apron like ours, didn’t you?” Clematis nodded again. Oh, see her hair, it's lovely! sighed a little girl across the table, who had short, straight hair.
Clematis’ soft brown curls were neatly brushed, and tied with a dark red ribbon. She did not look much like the child who came in an hour before.
What's her name? asked Jane, looking at Miss Rose.
“We’ll ask her tomorrow. Now stop talking please, so she can eat her supper.”
At that, the little girl looked up at Miss Rose and said: “My
name is Clernatis, and my kitty’s name is Deborah. Just as she said this, a very strange noise was heard. Every child stopped eating. Miss Rose turned red, and Mrs. Snow looked up in surprise.
Miew, miew, miew, came from under the table. In another minute a little head peeped over the edge of the table where Clematis sat. It was a kitten, with a black spot over one eye.
Miew, miew, Deborah continued, and stuck her little red tongue right into the yellow bowl. She was very hungry, and could wait no longer.
Mrs. Snow rapped on the table, for every child laughed right out.
What fun it was! No one had ever seen a cat in there before.
“Miss Rose, will you kindly put that cat out. Put her out the front door.” Mrs. Snow was very stern. She didn’t wish any cats in the Home.
Clematis looked at Mrs. Snow. Her eyes filled with tears, and she began to sob.
Miss Rose turned as red as Deborah’s tongue. She had not asked Mrs. Snow if she might let the cat in. She thought it would stay in the kitchen with Katie.
“Did you hear me, Miss Rose? I wish you would please put the cat out the door. We can’t have it here.
Miss Rose started to get up, when Clematis slipped out of her chair, hugging Deborah tightly to her breast.
The tears were running down her cheeks, as she started for the door.
“Where are you going, little girl?” said Mrs. Snow. Clematis did not answer, but kept right on.
“Stop her, Miss Rose. What is the matter, anyway? Dear me, what a fuss!” Miss Rose caught Clematis by the arm.
“Wait, dear,” she said. Don’t act like that. Answer Mrs. Snow.”
I don't care, sobbed Clematis, looking back. “I don’t want
to stay here if you are going to throw my cat away.”
“I should have asked you, Mrs. Snow,” said Miss Rose. “She had the kitten with her. She cried to bring it in, and Katie said she would care for it in the kitchen.”
“Oh, so that is it. Well, don’t cry, child. Take it back to Katie, and tell her to keep the door shut.”
“She’s hungry,” said Clematis, drying her eyes on her sleeve.
“Well, ask Katie to feed her then, and come right back to the table.”
“After supper, we play games. It’s great fun,” said Sally, as they were folding their bibs.
The bell rang, and the long line of children formed once more.
They marched out through the
long hail, up the broad stairs to the play room. There were little tables, with low chairs to match. Some of the tables held games. In one corner of the room was a great doll house, that a rich lady had given to the Home. In another corner was a small wooden swing with two seats. A rocking horse stood near the window, and a box of bean bags lay on a low shelf near by. Soon all were playing happily, except Clematis, who stood near the window. She was looking at the trees, which were sending out red buds. The sun had set, and the sky was rosy with the last light of day.
“Don’t you want to play?” asked Miss Rose, coming across the room.
Clematis shook her head.
“What would you like to do, dear?”
Clematis thought a moment. “I should like to help Katie in the kitchen. She must need some little girl.”
Miss Rose smiled. “If Clematis can get down into the kitchen, she can see her kitten,” she thought. “She is a sly little puss herself.”
“I don’t think you could go down tonight, but if you are a good girl I am sure Katie will want, you to help her before long.
“Come now, and I will ask Jane to show you the doll house.”
So the little girls took Clematis over to the doll house that stood in the corner.
Jane opened the front door, so they could look in and see four pretty rooms.
Lace curtains hung at the tiny windows. New rugs were on the floors.
There was a tiny kitchen, with a tiny stove and tiny kettles, all just like your own house. It was enough to make any girl happy.
It was so much fun that Clematis forgot to be sad, and was not ready to leave the doll house
when the bell rang once more. It was bedtime.
“That is the sleepy bell,” said Jane, closing the door to the doll house, and running toward the stairs. Clematis was at the end of the row, as the girls went out of the playroom, and
Miss Rose spoke as she passed through the door. "I will show you where you are to sleep, my dear. You go with the other children, and I’ll come in a few minutes.”
Clematis followed the other children up the stairs to the sleeping rooms.
Miss Rose soon came, and together they went to the room at the end of the hall.
How sweet that room looked to the tired little stranger! A white iron bed stood against the wall, near the window. A small table held a wash basin and pitcher. There was a cup and soap dish, too. Two clean towels hung near by. Best of all was the little white bureau, with a mirror. The mirror had a white frame. There was a pink rug before the bureau, and beside the bureau was a white chair.
Oh, my cried Clematis, see the flowers on the wall!” The pink wall paper was covered with white roses and their green leaves.
Miss Rose took a white nightdress
from the bureau, and laid it on the bed.
“Now, Clematis, I shall give you just ten minutes to undress. When I come back I want you to be all ready for me.”
Miss Rose went out, and Clematis started on her shoes.
“I guess she don’t know how fast I can undress,” she said to herself.
When Miss Rose came back, in ten minutes, she found Clematis already in bed, and half asleep.
“Why Clematis, this will never do!” Miss Rose pulled back the sheet and made Clematis sit up.
There, beside the bed, was a pile of clothes. There were the stockings, just as she had pulled them off.
The boots were thrown down on the clean gingham dress, and the fresh apron was sadly crushed.
“I am sorry, little girl,” said Miss Rose, but you will have to get right up.”
“Why?” asked Clematis.
“No little girl can go to bed without washing her face and hands. No little girl can leave her clothes like this.”
“Isn’t this my room?” said Clematis, slowly getting out of bed.
“It is for tonight. We always let a new child sleep alone the first night.”
“Wasn’t I quick in getting into bed? Why must I get up ?“
“Look, dear. Look at that pile of clothes.”
“Oh, I always leave them there,” replied Clematis. “Then I know just where to find them in the morning.”
“We don’t do so here, Clematis. Now please pick up the clothes, fold them, and put them on the chair.
“Then put your boots under the chair, and take off your pretty hair ribbon.”
Clematis gathered the clothes together, but she was not happy.
"I know you are tired, dear, but I am tired too, and we must do things right, even if we are tired."
“Now I must show you how to wash, and brush your teeth, and then have you say your prayers, before I can leave you."
“Oh bother!” sighcd Clematis.
“No, we mustn’t say words like that. Come now, we will get washed."
Miss Rose poured some water from the pitcher, and made Clematis wash her hands, and arms, and face, carefully. Then she took a tooth brush from a box and gave it to her.
“What is this for?” asked Clematis.
“Why dear,” answered Miss Rose in surprise, “that is a tooth brush.”
“A tooth brush! Why, there is no hair on my teeth.”
Miss Rose laughed. “No dear, perhaps not, but we must brush them carefully each night with
water, ,or they will soon be aching.
“Will that stop teeth from aching?"
“Yes indeed, it will help very much to keep them from aching.”
“All right, then.” Clematis began to brush her teeth. “My teeth ached last week. I nearly died,” she answered.
The teeth were cleaned, and Clematis was ready for bed.
“Now dear, let us say our prayers.
“I don’t know any prayers.” Miss Rose looked at Clematis in pity. “Don’t you really know any prayers at all?”
"Would you know any prayers if you had never learned any?”
Miss Rose sighed sadly.
"Well, then", she said, "We will learn the Lord’s Prayer, and then you will know the most beautiful prayer of all.”
They knelt down together, and Clematis said over the words after Miss Rose.
“Now good night, dear, and pleasant dreams,” said Miss Rose, as she tucked her in.
"Good night", said Clematis.
The door closed, and all was dark.
The maple trees swayed gently outside the window.
They nodded to Clematis, as she watched them with sleepy eyes.
One little star peeped in at her through the maple tree.
It winked at her. It winked once; it winked twice; and she was fast asleep
It was early. The rising bell had not rung. Clematis got up and looked out of the open window. She could see nothing but houses across the street, but the buds of the maple were beautiful in the sun.
“I wish I had some of those buds to put in my room,” said Clematis to herself.
She took her clothes, and began
to dress. While she was dressing, she looked again at the maple buds, and wanted them more than ever.
“If I reached out a little way, I could get some of those, I just know I could,” she thought.
As soon as she got her shoes on she pushed the window wide open.
She leaned out. Some beautiful buds were very near, but she could not quite reach them.
She leaned out a little farther. Then she climbed upon the window sill.
They were still out of her reach.
For a minute she stopped. Then she put one foot out in the gutter. With one hand she held the blind, and reached out to the nearest branch.
At last she had it. She drew it nearer, and broke off a piece with many buds. As the piece broke off, the branch flew back again to its place, and Clematis almost fell back through the window to the floor. She patted the red buds and made a little bunch of them. She filled her cup with water and put the buds in it; then she put it on the bureau. Clematis was looking proudly at them, when the door opened, and Miss Rose came in.
She looked at Clematis, and then at the buds.
“Why, Clematis!” she said.
Then she looked out the window. There, several feet beyond
the window, was the broken end. Drops of sap were running from the white wood.
“How did you get those buds?” asked Miss Rose.
“I reached out of the window,” said Clematis, why, was that stealing?” Miss Rose gasped.
“Clematis, do you mean to tell me that you climbed out of the window and reached for that branch?”
Clematis nodded. Tears came into her eyes. She must have done something very wrong, but she did not know just what was so wicked about taking a small branch from a maple tree.
“I didn’t know it was stealing, she sobbed.
“It isn’t that, Clematis. It is not wrong to take a twig, but think of the danger. Don’t you know you might have fallen and killed yourself?”
Clematis wiped her eyes on her sleeve. “Oh, that’s nothing,” she said, “I had hold of the blind all the time. I couldn’t fall.”
“Now, Clematis, no child ever did such a thing before, and you must never, never, do it again. Do you understand?”
"Do you promise?”
“Well then, let’s get ready for breakfast.”
Clematis washed her face and
hands, brushed her hair, and cleaned her teeth carefully. Soon she was ready to go down stairs, and took one of the maple buds to put in her dress. As they went out, Miss Rose saw that she wanted to say something.
“Do you want something?” she said.
“Can I help Katie this morningr’
“After breakfast I will ask Mrs. Snow, but breakfast is almost ready now.”
Just then the breakfast bell rang, and Clematis marched in with the other children. She was thinking about Deborah, and wondering if she had caught any rats.
For breakfast they had baked apples, oatmeal with milk, and rye gems. It did not take them long to eat this. Soon they were through, and ready for the morning work. As they were getting up, Mrs. Snow came to speak to Miss Rose. Clematis held her breath when she heard what was said.
“Perhaps this little girl would like to go down and play with her kitten a while. We can find some work for her by and by."
"Oh yes", said Clematis, "I would."
“Well, you can tell Katie I said you might. Be sure not to get in her way.”
Off ran Clematis to the kitchen, to find her dear Deborah. There she was, curled up like a little ball under the stove. She looked with sleepy eyes at Clematis, and crawled down into her lap. Then Clernatis smoothed her and patted her, till she purred her very sweetest purr.
“Ah,” said Katie. “It’s a fine cat. It caught a big rat in the night, and brought it in, as proud as pie.
“Do you think they will let me keep her ?“ asked Clematis.
"Oh, I guess So. If she catches the rats, she will be welcome here. You can be sure of that. I hate rats.”
While Clematis and Deborah were having such a good time in the kitchen, Mrs. Snow took Miss Rose to her room.
“Well, Miss Rose, have you found out anything about that strange little child?
“Not very much yet. She talks very little, and has had very little care.”
"What makes you think so?"
“Why, the poor child didn’t know what a tooth brush was for. She said she always left her clothes in a pile by the bed, because she could find them all in the morning.
Mrs. Snow sighed.
"Dear me, she will need much care, to teach her how to do things
well. But I guess her folks will come for her before long.
“I don’t know who her folks can be. She has never learned any prayers.”
“Poor child, she must be a sad case.” Mrs. Snow sighed again. “But she is very fearless. This morning, before I went to her room, she had climbed out of the window and broken off a piece of ,the maple tree with buds on it.
"What, way up there at the roof?"
“Yes, she said that was nothing, for she had hold of the blind.”
“What did she want the branch for?"
“She wanted it for the red
buds. She broke them off and put them in her cup, like flowers.”
“Well, Miss Rose, take her out to walk this afternoon, and ask her some questions. Perhaps you can find out where she lives."
“Didn’t you ever peel poth toes?” asked Katie.
“No, I never had to do any work.”
“Well, you will have to be doing some work round here. It’s lucky for you that Mrs. Snow is good to little girls. You would
have a hard row to hoe in some homes, believe me.” Clematis was busy tying her hair ribbon round Deborah’s neck, and did not answer. The morning went fast., and the dinner was ready before Clematis was ready to leave her kitten. For dinner they had soup, in the little yellow bowls, with a big piece of Johnny cake, and some ginger bread. As soon as dinner was over, Miss Rose brought Clematis a brown coat. It was not new, but it was neat and warm, much better than the one she had worn the day before.
“Come, Clematis,” she said.
“I am going out to walk. Don’t you want to go with me?”
“Where are you going?” asked Clematis, shrinking back.
“Oh, out in the park, and down by the river. I think you will like it.”
Clematis put on the coat as quickly as she could. Then she took Miss Rose by the hand.
“Come on, let’s go,” she said.
“You might wait till I get my coat and hat on.” Miss Rose was laughing at her.
Soon they were down by the river. Miss Rose sat on the gravel, while Clematis ran along the edge of the water.
She sailed bits of wood for boats, and threw little stones in,
to see the rings they made. She was very, very happy.
“Clematis,” said Miss Rose, “don’t you remember the street you lived on?”
Clematis thought a minute. “How would you know the street you lived on if nobody ever told you?”
Miss Rose thought a moment. “Don’t you remember your mother s name?"
Clematis shook her head. “I don’t remember. It was a long time ago.”
"Do you mean she died a long time ago?”
Miss Rose asked her some other questions. At last she said:
“Well, tell me the name of the man you lived with.”
“His name was Smith.”
“Oh dear, there are so many Smiths, we shall never guess the right one. Dear me, Clematis. I don’t know how we shall ever find your home.”
Clematis threw a big stone into the water, which made a big splash. "I hope you never will", she said.
“Why, Clematis! Do you mean that you wish never to go back where you came from?”
“Well, how would you like to live in a place where you had to stay in an old brick yard all day, and never saw even grass?“
Miss Rose thought a while. Then she got up and started back to the Home. Clematis followed her slowly. She was sorry to go.
That night Mrs. Snow talked with Miss Rose again. “She must have lived in the city," said Miss Rose. "She had to stay in a yard paved with bricks all day. She doesn’t remember her parents at all. She ran away, that is sure.”
“I hardly know what to do," said Mrs Snow, at last. “She can stay here for a while, and perhaps the people she lived with will find her here.”
So Mrs. Snow told the policeman what they had found out,
and he said they would do the best they could to find her people.
That night Clematis did not go to the little room near the maple tree to sleep. She went into the big room. Jane slept in the bed next to hers. Miss Rose told her to see that Clematis had what help she needed in going to bed. The day had been a busy one for Clematis. She was very sleepy.
“I guess I won’t bother with teeth and things tonight,” she said to herself. So she pulled off her clothes, and got into bed.
“Oh Clematis, you can’t do that. You’ve got to pick up your
clothes, and clean your teeth, and do lots of things.”
Jane came and shook her, as she snuggled under the clothes.
“Oh, I’m too tired tonight. I’ll do it tomorrow night.”
Clematis did not stir. Just then Miss Rose came into the sleeping room. She saw Jane trying to get Clematis out of bed. She also saw the pile of clothes.
“Clematis, I can’t have this. Get right out of bed, and do as I told you last night.”
She wanted children to obey her, and she had tried to be very kind to Clematis.
The other children giggled, as Clematis got slowly out of bed.
But Miss Rose frowned at them.
“You see that she does every single thing she ought,” said Miss Rose to Jane, "and if she doesn't, you tell me."
Then Miss Rose went away, and left the girls to get ready for bed.
Poor Clematis had a hard time of it. The other girls made fun of her, because she was so clumsy and slow. At last she got her clothes folded up, and went to wash.
“She isn’t washing her neck and ears,” said Jane to herself, “but I guess I won’t tell.”
So at last Clematis got into bed again, and went to sleep.
“I don’t want to get up yet,” grumbled Clematis. “I will get up pretty soon.”
“No you won’t either. You’ll get up right off now. We have to be ready for breakfast in fifteen minutes.”
Jane pulled down the clothes, while the other girls laughed. Poor Clematis had to get up.
At first she was cross, but when
she looked out of the window, she smiled. From this window she could see way off to a beautiful hill, golden brown in the morning sun. Part way to the hill was a river. Its little waves shimmered and danced. Its shores were quite green already.
Now Clematis was wide awake and happy. She started to dress.
“Wash first,” said Jane.
Clematis started to grumble again, but when she looked into the mirror above the wash stand, there was the river, smiling at her in the mirror.
She knew this river. She had been there. Perhaps she would go again some day.
For breakfast they had a bowl of oatmeal and milk, with two slices of bread. Clematis looked around while they were eating.
“Don’t you ever get a cup of coffee for breakfast? “ she asked of Sally, who sat next to her.
“Oh, no, never, but sometimes we have cocoa, on real cold mornings."
Clematis turned up her nose a little. She did not care much for oatmeal.
“I like doughnuts and coffee a great deal better,” she said.
"Huh, you won't have any doughnuts and coffee round here,” said Jane. “You’d better eat what you have.”
Clematis took her advice, and had just finished her bread, when the bell sounded.
"Now, Clematis, said Miss Rose, “You are going to stay here for a while anyway, so you must take your part in the daily work."
“I think you said yesterday you would like to help Katie in the kitchen.”
“Oh, yes’m", said Clematis. She had been thinking of Deborah and longing to see her.
“Well, let’s go down and see what Katie can find for you to do."
There was Deborah, sleeping under the edge of the stove.
Clematis took her while Miss Rose was asking Katie.
“This little girl thinks she would like to have some work down here in the kitchen, Katie. Is there anything you would like her to do?”
“Ah, no thank you, Miss Rose, she wouldn’t be any use at all."
Clematis looked up. She did not feel very happy.
“Why, don’t you think she could help you?“ Miss Rose looked surprised.
“No miss, she is no use at all. Yesterday I asked her to peel some potatoes, but she never lifted a finger. She said she didn’t know how.”
“Why, Clematis, I am surprised."
“Well,” said Clematis, “if you never learned to peel potatoes, would you know how to do it?”