Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag, Volume 3 Cupid and Chow-chow, etc.
NELLY'S HOSPITAL.—PAGE 54
AUNT JO's SCRAP-BAG.
CUPID AND CHOW-CHOW, ETC.
BY LOUISA M. ALCOTT,
AUTHOR OF "LITTLE WOMEN," "AN OLD-FASHIONED GIRL,"
"LITTLE MEN," "HOSPITAL SKETCHES."
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, by
LOUISA M. ALCOTT
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
UNIVERSITY PRESS : JOHN WILSON & SON,
I. Cupid and Chow-Chow
III. Nelly's Hospital
IV. Grandma's Team
V. Fairy Pinafores
VI. Mamma's Plot
VII. Kate's Choice
VIII. The Moss People
IX. What Fanny Heard
X. A Marine Merry-making
AUNT JO'S SCRAP-BAG.
CUPID AND CHOW-CHOW.
(With Illustrations by Addie Ledyard)
Mamma began it by calling herrosy, dimpled, year-old babyCupid, and as he grew up thename became more and moreappropriate, for the pretty boyloved every one, every one lovedhim, and he made thoseabout him fond of one another, like a regular littlegod of love.
Especially beautiful and attractive did he look ashe pranced on the door-steps one afternoon whilewaiting the arrival of a little cousin. Our Cupid'scostume was modernized out of regard to the prejudicesof society, and instead of wings, bandage, bowand arrow, he was gorgeous to behold in smallbuckled shoes, purple silk hose, black velvetknickerbockers, and jacket with a lace collar, which, withhis yellow hair cut straight across the forehead, andfalling in long, curling love-locks behind, made himlook like an old picture of a young cavalier.
It was impossible for the little sprig to help beinga trifle vain when every one praised his comeliness,and every mirror showed him a rosy face, with bigblue eyes, smiling lips, white teeth, a cunning nose,and a dimple in the chin, not to mention the goldenmane that hung about his neck.
Yes, Cupid was vain; and as he waited, he pranced,arranged the dear buckled shoes in the first position,practised his best bow, felt of his dimple, and smiledaffably as he pictured to himself the pleasure andsurprise of the little cousin when he embraced herin the ardent yet gentle way which made his greetingsparticularly agreeable to those who liked suchtender demonstrations.
Cupid had made up his mind to love Chow-chowvery much, both because she was his cousin, andbecause she must be interesting if all papa's storiesof her were true. Her very name was pleasing tohim, for it suggested Indian sweetmeats, though papasaid it was given to her because she was such amixture of sweet and sour that one never knew whetherhe would get his tongue bitten by a hot bit of ginger,or find a candied plum melting in his mouth when hetried that little jar of Chow-chow.
"I know I shall like her, and of course she willlike me lots, 'cause everybody does," thought Cupid,settling his love-locks and surveying his purple legslike a contented young peacock.
Just then a carriage drove up the avenue, stoppedat the foot of the steps, and out skipped a tall, brownman, a small, pale lady, and a child, who whiskedaway to the pond so rapidly that no one could seewhat she was like.
A great kissing and hand-shaking went onbetween the papas and mammas, and Cupid came infor a large share, but did not enjoy it as much asusual, for the little girl had fled and he must get ather. So the instant Aunt Susan let him go he ranafter the truant, quite panting with eagerness andall aglow with amiable intentions, for he was ahospitable little soul, and loved to do the honors of hispleasant home like a gentleman.
A little figure, dressed in a brown linen frock, withdusty boots below it, and above it a head of wildblack hair, tied up with a large scarlet bow, stoodby the pond throwing stones at the swans, whoruffled their feathers in stately anger at suchtreatment. Suddenly a pair of velvet arms embracedher, and half turning she looked up into a rosy,smiling face, with two red lips suggestively puckeredfor a hearty kiss.
Chow-chow's black eyes sparkled, and her littlebrown face flushed as red as her ribbon as she triedto push the boy away with a shrill scream.
"Don't be frightened. I'm Cupid. I must kissyou. I truly must. I always do when people come,and I like you very much."
With this soothing remark, the velvet arms pressedher firmly, and the lips gave her several soft kisses,which, owing to her struggles, lit upon her nose, chin,top-knot, and ear; for, having begun, Cupid did notknow when to leave off.
But Chow-chow's wrath was great, her vengeanceswift, and getting one hand free she flung the gravelit held full in the flushed and smiling face of thisbold boy who had dared to kiss her without leave.
Poor Cupid fell back blinded and heart-broken atsuch a return for his warm welcome, and while hestood trying to clear his smarting eyes, a fierce littlevoice said close by,—
"Does it hurt?"
"I'm glad of it."
"Then you don't love me?"
"I hate you!"
"I don't see why."
"I don't like to be hugged and kissed. I don'tlet anybody but papa and mamma do it, ever,—so,now!"
"But I'm your cousin, and you must love me.Won't you, please?" besought Cupid, with one eyeopen and a great tear on his nose.
"I'll see about it. I don't like crying boys,"returned the hard-hearted damsel.
"Well, you made me; but I forgive you," andCupid magnanimously put out his hand for a friendlyshake. But Chow-chow was off like a startled deer,and vanished into the house, singing at the top ofher voice a nursery rhyme to this effect,—
"And she bids you to come in,
With a dimple in your chin,
Billy boy, Billy boy."
When Cupid, with red eyes and a sad countenance,made his appearance, he found Chow-chow on herfather's knee eating cake, while the elders talked.She had told the story, and now from the safe strongholdof papa's arm condescended to smile upon theconquered youth.
Cupid went to mamma, and in one long whispertold his woes; then sat upon the cushion at her feet,and soon forgot them all in the mingled joys ofeating macaroons and giving Chow-chow smile for smileacross the hearth-rug.
"I predict that we shall be much amused and edifiedby the progress of the friendship just begun,"said Cupid's papa, a quiet man, who loved childrenand observed them with affectionate interest.
"And I predict a hard time of it for your youngman, if he attempts to tame my strong-minded littlewoman here. Her mother's ideas are peculiar, andshe wants to bring Chow-chow up according to thenew lights,—with contempt for dress and allfrivolous pursuits; to make her hardy, independent, andquite above caring for such trifles as love, domesticlife, or the feminine accomplishments we used tofind so charming."
As Chow-chow's papa spoke, he looked from thechild in her ugly gray frock, thick boots, and mopof hair tied up in a style neither pretty nor becoming,to his wife in her plain dress, with her knob ofhair, decided mouth, sarcastic nose, and restless eyesthat seemed always on the watch to find some newwrong and protest against it.
"Now, George, how can you misrepresent myviews and principles so? But it's no use trying toconvince or out-talk you. We never get a chance,and our only hope is to bring up our girls so thatthey may not be put down as we are," returnedMrs. Susan, with a decided air.
"Show us how you are going to defend your sexand conquer ours, Chow-chow; give us your viewsgenerally. Now, then, who is in favor of the ElectiveFranchise?" said Uncle George, with a twinkle ofthe eye.
Up went Aunt Susan's hand, and to the greatamusement of all up went Chow-chow's also and,scrambling to her feet on papa's knee, she burst intoa harangue which convulsed her hearers, for in it thechild's voice made queer work with the long words,and the red bow wagged belligerently as she laiddown the law with energy, and defined her views,closing with a stamp of her foot.
"This is our platform: Free speech, free love,free soil, free every thing; and Woman's Puckeragefor ever!"
Even Aunt Susan had to laugh at that burst, forit was delivered with such vigor that the speakerwould have fallen on her nose if she had not beensustained by a strong arm.
Cupid laughed because the rest did, and thenturned his big eyes full of wonder on his mother,asking what it all meant.
"Only fun, my dear."
"Now, Ellen, that's very wrong. Why don't youexplain this great subject to him, and prepare him totake a nobler part in the coming struggle than thosewho have gone before him have done?" said Mrs. Susan,with a stern look at her husband, who waspetting the little daughter, who evidently loved him best.
"I don't care to disturb his happy childhood withquarrels beyond his comprehension. I shall teachhim to be as good and just a man as his father,and feel quite sure that no woman will suffer wrongat his hands," returned Mrs. Ellen, smiling at Cupid'spapa, who nodded back as if they quite understoodeach other.
"We never did agree and we never shall, so Iwill say no more; but we shall see what a goodeffect my girl's strength of character will have uponyour boy, who has been petted and spoiled by toomuch tenderness."
So Aunt Susan settled the matter; and as the dayswent on, the elder people fell into the way ofobserving how the little pair got on together, and weremuch amused by the vicissitudes of that nurseryromance.
In the beginning Chow-chow rode over Cupidrough-shod, quite trampled upon him in fact; andhe bore it, because he wanted her to like him, andhad been taught that the utmost courtesy was due aguest. But when he got no reward for his long-sufferingpatience he was sometimes tempted to rebel,and probably would have done so if he had not hadmamma to comfort and sustain him. Chow-chowwas very quick at spying out the weaknesses of herfriends and alarmingly frank in proclaiming herdiscoveries; so poor Cupid's little faults were seen andproclaimed very soon, and life made a burden tohim, until he found out the best way of silencinghis tormentor was by mending the faults.
"My papa says you are a dandy-prat, and youare," said Chow-chow, one day when the desire toimprove her race was very strong upon her.
"What is a dandy-prat?" asked Cupid, lookingtroubled at the new accusation.
"I asked him, and he said a vain fellow; and youare vain,—so now!"
"Am I?" and Cupid stopped to think it over.
"Yes; you're horrid vain of your hair, and yourvelvet clothes, and the dimple in your chin. I knowit, 'cause you always look in the glass when you aredressed up, and keep feeling of that ugly hole inyour chin, and I see you brush your hair ever somuch."
Poor Cupid colored up with shame, and turned hisback to the mirror, as the sharp-tongued youngmonitor went on:—
"My mamma said if you were her boy she'd cutoff your curls, put you in a plain suit, and stick somecourt-plaster over that place till you forgot allabout it."
Chow-chow expected an explosion of grief ofanger after that last slap; but to her amazementthe boy walked out of the room without a word.Going up to his mother as she sat busy with a letter,he asked in a very earnest voice,—
"Mamma, am I vain?"
"I'm afraid you are a little, my dear," answeredmamma, deep in her letter.
With a sad but resolute face Cupid went back toChow-chow, bearing