The Friendly Five A Story
THE FRIENDLY FIVE
THE FRIENDLY FIVE
BYMARY C. HUNGERFORD
NEW YORK: EATON & MAINS
CINCINNATI: CURTS & JENNINGS
Copyright, 1891, by
HUNT & EATON,
AS AN EVIDENCE OF MY WARM REGARD FOR HER,
THIS LITTLE STORY OF SCHOOL LIFE
TO MY YOUNG FRIEND,
MISS SALLY T. CLARK,
OF NEW HAVEN.
|I.||Mr. Bellamy’s Offer||7|
|III.||In Katie’s Room||25|
|IV.||Mrs. Abbott’s Explanation||31|
|V.||Mary Ann Stubbs||41|
|VI.||Mary Ann’s Charge||48|
|VII.||Elfie Tells a Story||55|
|VIII.||A Rainy Day||62|
|IX.||Some Leaves from a Diary||70|
|X.||A Mean Act||79|
|XI.||The S. C.’s||88|
|XIII.||The Committee Buy Ribbons and Make anAcquaintance||102|
|XIV.||The Adventure Discussed||110|
|XV.||The White Queen||117|
|6XVI.||In Mrs. Abbott’s Room||126|
|XIX.||A Happy Day||148|
|XXI.||In Katie’s Home||162|
|XXII.||The Christmas-tree’s Second Crop||172|
|XXIII.||The Letter in Cipher||181|
|XXIV.||Catching a Train||190|
|XXVII.||On the Road||213|
|XXVIII.||A Traveling Acquaintance||221|
|XXIX.||Watching and Waiting||230|
|XXXI.||An Exciting Night||246|
|XXXII.||A Deep Sleep||252|
|XXXIII.||Marion is Happy||259|
|XXXIV.||The Prize Awarded||272|
THE FRIENDLY FIVE.
There were neither examinations nor graduation exercises at theCoventry Institute. The only ceremony peculiar to the last day ofschool, except the farewells, was a little sermon from Mrs. Abbott, theprincipal, preceded by reading the average of reports for the year.
The day had come. All the smaller recitation-rooms were empty and thegirls were gathered into the large school-room occupying their ownseats, but each whispering softly to her neighbor, for rules were notstrictly enforced on either the opening or closing days of school.
Upon the platform at one end of the room stood a green-coveredlibrary-desk with the large arm-chair by it which was always reservedfor Mrs. Abbott. As they waited a servant came in and removed thechair, bringing into view a8 small old-fashioned hair-cloth sofa largeenough to hold two persons comfortably.
“That means company,” was the universal whisper that went around amongthe girls, and almost before there could be any speculation upon whothe guest might be the visitor himself followed the principal into theroom. He was a tall, stout, middle-aged man with a splendid head thatreminded the girls at once of the pictures of Agassiz.
As Mrs. Abbott took her seat on one end of the little sofa, with herusual pleasant bow to the scholars, she simply said, “My friend, Mr.Bellamy, will say a few words to you;” and the gentleman, with the easeof a long-practiced speaker, stepped to the little table and lookeddown with kindly inquiring eyes upon the young faces upturned to his.
The girls were well accustomed to speeches from visitors, and couldalmost have told how he would begin. In fact, Lily Dart, who was quitethe wit of the school, had once written out several sentences whichshe called “openings,” and professed to be holding in reserve for anyembarrassed orator who might be disconcerted by the stare of thirtypairs of critical eyes. Now, quoting from number one of her openings,she9 rapidly scrawled on a bit of paper for her desk-mate’s benefit,“Young ladies, my heart beats with mingled emotions—”
Lily was quite astray in her supposition. Mr. Bellamy said nothingabout hearts, emotions, or young ladies; instead, with a look thatseemed to include them all, he remarked in an easy conversationalmanner:
“My visit to my old friend, Mrs. Abbott, is made with the hope ofpersuading her to take a little girl so much younger than the customof her school allows that I regard her consent as the greatest favorthat can be granted to me. My little motherless granddaughter”—therewas a little sudden straightening of his shoulders and lifting of hishead here that looked to the bright, observant eyes watching him likea determined effort to keep dry eyes and a steady voice—“will seem toyou,” he continued, with almost an appeal in his voice, “so babyish,and perhaps spoiled by a grandfather’s fond affection, that I must askyour kindest indulgence for her. Business calls me to Europe, and itwill be a year before I can hope to see my little girl again. I shouldlike to feel, in that long year of absence, that Ethel, my Elfie, Icall her, was loved by the young people who will be her companions. Ido not10 ask you to be kind to her; that I am sure you will be, but Iwish I could feel sure that you will all love her.”
Mrs. Abbott beckoned to Miss Blake, the third-room teacher, and said afew words which made the latter go quietly out of the room, to returnshortly with a colored nurse leading a most attractive-looking littlecreature who seemed almost like a baby, but in reality was nearly fiveyears old.
This was Elfie, as the girls knew even before she sprang into hergrandfather’s arms, and if any thing more than the words they hadjust heard had been needed to enlist their interest, the child’sappearance would have completed their conquest, and a very audiblemurmur of interest and admiration brought a suspicious glisteningto Mr. Bellamy’s eyes, as he stood Elfie on the table with her armsstill clinging to his neck. At a whisper from him the child lifted herlovely face from his breast and looked shyly for one moment at thegirls, giving them a glimpse of pink cheeks, sweet, frank eyes, anda shy, smiling mouth, before the lovely face was buried again on hergrandfather’s shoulder, and only a light, tossy handful of curls wasvisible for their admiration.
11Candace, who stood in statuesque black dignity as befitted her vastperson and royal name, was studying anxiously the faces before her withthe keen observation common among untutored people, and now let hersolemn countenance break into a broad smile of satisfaction as she sawthe impression her little charge had made. She came forward then at asign from her master, and carried Elfie from the room, the girls’ eyesfollowing them till the white dress and broad black sash disappearedthrough the door.
But Mr. Bellamy’s speech was not over, although only one more sentencerelated to the child he had just introduced to them.
“Let my Elfie be your little sister,” he said, with again that lookof almost imploring appeal in his eyes which seemed so much like aquestion that nearly every girl involuntarily raised her right hand asif she felt that some expression of assent was needed.
An audience of boys would have given three cheers for the littlesister and six more for the senator, for boys would have known in amoment that the speaker was the distinguished orator whose eloquenceand uprightness had made him celebrated all over the country. Butgirls don’t hurrah, and, unfortunately, do not read the papers12 andkeep informed in political matters. But the speaker was satisfied; hiswonderfully expressive eyes told that as he gravely bowed and passed onto speech number two, as Kate Ashley called it in her diary.
Nothing so interesting as consigning a lovely baby girl to their carecould be expected from speech number two; but the girls put on anexpression of polite attention which gradually changed to enthusiasticinterest as its very novel and delightful subject was unfolded to them.
Even very able speeches by noted speakers are rather tiresome to read,so it will be better to simply give the most important part of this onewithout going fully into detail.
Mrs. Bellamy Gray, Ethel’s mother, had been a pupil of Mrs. Abbott, andit was one of the wishes expressed during her last sickness that herlittle daughter should be educated at the same school. Of course, ithad not been her wish to send her there till she was of a suitable age,but now that circumstances had arisen which obliged Mr. Bellamy to goto Europe he felt anxious to leave her with the friend who had been sodear to her mother.
If there had been time, he told his audience, he should have liked totell them of the various13 plans for helping and comforting others thathis daughter had left for him to carry out. There was a bed in St.John’s Hospital, a small fund for giving six poor children a yearlyouting, a memorial window in the little mission chapel where she had aSunday-school class; and all these things were named for his dear andonly daughter, and he loved to think that in these pleasant ways herworks would seem to live after her. There were still some other schemesto carry out, and among them a Bellamy prize for Coventry Institute.
“I do not intimate,” said the speaker, having arrived at this veryinteresting part of his discourse, “that any one of Mrs. Abbott’sscholars has need of tangible help; neither do I propose to offera prize because I think a spur to correct action is necessary; butbecause my daughter loved the school I wish to associate her memorywith it in a pleasant way. The best way of doing this will have to be amatter of experiment and as a sort of trial trip. I will make it thisyear a prize of three hundred dollars in gold. Your teacher, warned bysome sad experience in the past, is opposed to any thing which subjectsher young people to a prolonged mental strain, so it will not do tomake it a scholastic prize, and14 through some prejudices of my own, notliking to make it a reward for elegant deportment, I shall be obligedto say the prize is for the most deserving. It shall be given upon theanniversary of this day, and the recipient shall be selected by thevote of the school.”
Truly this was an extraordinary prize, and the girls discussed it withanimation all the afternoon and during the evening, which on the lastday of school was more like a social gathering, for the day-scholarswere always invited in and the sadness of farewell was cheered bygames, music, and dancing.
They would all have been delighted to have little Elfie with themin these last hours, but the fond grandfather could not spare her,and one of the girls, who had a message to deliver to Mrs. Abbott inthe parlor, reported that the child lay fast asleep in Mr. Bellamy’sarms, while he was trying, at great inconvenience to himself, to writeletters at a table, and black Candace sat patiently in the hall waitingfor the long-delayed summons to put her little missy to bed.
It was late when the day scholars went home, and the others wentup-stairs to their rooms very quietly. They all had to pass the largecorner15 room which was always given to visitors, and, although thelight was turned very low, they could see through the half-closed doorthat Candace was trying to undress the little girl without waking her,and the senator, whose broad back was toward the door, was bending downto unbutton the little shoes, one of which he lifted and pressed to hislips just as the last pair of girls went by.
“Did you see that?” whispered Katie,