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       The Corner House Girls at School, p.1

           Grace Brooks Hill
 
The Corner House Girls at School


  Produced by Hilary Caws-Elwitt and the Online DistributedProofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net

  THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS AT SCHOOL

  BY GRACE BROOKS HILL

  Author of "The Corner House Girls," "The Corner House Girls UnderCanvas," etc.

  _ILLUSTRATED BY R. EMMETT OWEN_

  GROSSET & DUNLAPPUBLISHERS NEW YORK

  Copyright, 1915By BARSE & CO.

  _Printed in the United States of America_

  Agnes stooped lower and shot up the course, passing Trixnot three yards from the line.]

  CONTENTS

  I A Goat, Four Girls, and a Pig

  II The White-headed Boy

  III The Pig is Important

  IV Neale O'Neil Gets Established

  V Crackers--and a Toothache

  VI Agnes Loses Her Temper and Dot Her Tooth

  VII Neale in Disguise

  VIII Introductions

  IX Popocatepetl in Mischief

  X The Ice Storm

  XI The Skating Race

  XII The Christmas Party

  XIII The Barn Dance

  XIV Uncle Rufus' Story of the Christmas Goose

  XV Sadie Goronofsky's Bank

  XVI A Quartette of "Lady Bountifuls"

  XVII "That Circus Boy!"

  XVIII Snowbound

  XIX The Enchanted Castle

  XX Trix Severn in Peril

  XXI A Backyard Circus

  XXII Mr. Sorber

  XXIII Taming a Lion Tamer

  XXIV Mr. Murphy Takes a Hand

  XXV A Bright Future

  THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS AT SCHOOL

  CHAPTER I

  A GOAT, FOUR GIRLS, AND A PIG

  When Sam Pinkney brought Billy Bumps over to the old Corner House, andtied him by the corner of the woodshed, there was at once a familyconclave called. Sam was never known to be into anything but mischief;therefore when he gravely presented the wise looking old goat to Tess,suspicion was instantly aroused in the Kenway household that there wassomething beside good will behind Master Sam's gift.

  "Beware of the Greeks when they come bearing gifts," Agnes freelytranslated.

  "But you know very well, Aggie, Sammy Pinkney is not a Greek. He'sYankee--like us. That's a Greek man that sells flowers down on MainStreet," said Tess, with gravity.

  "What I said is allegorical," pronounced Agnes, loftily.

  "We know Allie Neuman--Tess and me," ventured Dot, the youngest of theCorner House girls. "She lives on Willow Street beyond Mrs. Adams'house, and she is going to be in my grade at school."

  "Oh, fine, Ruth!" cried Agnes, the twelve-year-old, suddenly seizing theeldest sister and dancing her about the big dining-room. "Won't it bejust _fine_ to get to school again?"

  "Fine for me," admitted Ruth, who had missed nearly two years of schoolattendance, and was now going to begin again in her proper grade at theMilton High School.

  "Eva Larry says we'll have the very nicest teacher there is--MissShipman. This is Eva's last year in grammar school, too, you know. We'llgraduate together," said Agnes.

  Interested as Tess and Dot were in the prospect of attending school inMilton for the first time, just now they had run in to announce thearrival of Mr. Billy Bumps.

  "And a very suggestive name, I must say," said Ruth, reflectively. "Idon't know about that Pinkney boy. Do you suppose he is playing a jokeon you, Tess?"

  "Why, no!" cried the smaller girl. "How could he? _For the goat'sthere._"

  "Maybe that's the joke," suggested Agnes.

  "Well, we'll go and see him," said Ruth. "But there must be some reasonbeside good-will that prompted that boy to give you such a present."

  "I know," Dot said, solemnly.

  "What is it, Chicken-little?" demanded the oldest sister, pinching thelittle girl's cheek.

  "Their new minister," proclaimed Dot.

  "Their _what_?" gasped Agnes.

  "Who, dear?" asked Ruth.

  "Mrs. Pinkney's new minister. She goes to the Kaplan Chapel," said Dot,gravely, "and they got a new minister there. He came to call at Mrs.Pinkney's and the goat wasn't acquainted with him."

  "Oh-ho!" giggled Agnes. "Light on a dark subject."

  "Who told you, child?" asked Tess, rather doubtfully.

  "Holly Pease. And she said that Billy Bumps butted the new ministerright through the cellar window--the coal window."

  "My goodness!" ejaculated Ruth. "Did it hurt him?"

  "They'd just put in their winter's coal, and he went head first intothat," said Dot. "So he didn't fall far. But he didn't dare go out ofthe house again until Sam came home after school and shut Billy up.Holly says Billy Bumps camped right outside the front door and kept theminister a prisoner."

  The older girls were convulsed with laughter at this tale, but Ruthrepeated: "We might as well go and see him. If he is _very_ savage----"

  "Oh, he isn't!" cried Tess and Dot together. "He's just as tame!"

  The four sisters started for the yard, but in the big kitchen Mrs.MacCall stopped them. Mrs. MacCall was housekeeper and she mothered theorphaned Kenway girls and seemed much nearer to them than Aunt SarahMaltby, who sat most of her time in the big front room upstairs, seldomspeaking to her nieces.

  Mrs. MacCall was buxom, gray-haired--and every hair was martialed just_so_, and all imprisoned in a cap when the good lady was cooking. Shewas looking out of one of the rear windows when the girls troopedthrough.

  "For the land sakes!" ejaculated Mrs. MacCall. "What's that goat doingin our yard?"

  "It's our goat," explained Tess.

  _"What?"_

  "Yes, ma'am," said Dot, seriously. "He's a very nice goat. He has a realnoble beard--don't you think?"

  "A goat!" repeated Mrs. MacCall. "What next? A goat is the very lastthing I could ever find a use for in this world. But I s'pose theCreator knew what He was about when He made them."

  "I think they're lots of fun," said roly-poly Agnes, giggling again.

  "Fun! Ah! what's that he's eatin' this very minute?" screamed Mrs.MacCall, and she started for the door.

  She led the way to the porch, and immediately plunged down the stepsinto the yard. "My stocking!" she shrieked. "The very best pair I own.Oh, dear! Didn't I say a goat was a perfectly useless thing?"

  It was a fact that a limp bit of black rag hung out of the side of BillyBumps' mouth. A row of stockings hung on a line stretched from thecorner of the woodshed and the goat had managed to reach the first inthe row.

  "Give it up, you beast!" exclaimed Mrs. MacCall, and grabbed the toe ofthe stocking just as it was about to disappear.

  She yanked and Billy disgorged the hose. He had chewed it to pulp,evidently liking the taste of the dye. Mrs. MacCall threw the thing fromher savagely and Billy lowered his head, stamped his feet, andthreatened her with his horns.

  "Oh, I'm so sorry, Mrs. MacCall!" cried Ruth, soothingly.

  "That won't bring back my stocking," declared the housekeeper. "Half apair of stockings--humph! that's no good to anybody, unless it's aperson with a wooden leg."

  "I'll get you a new pair, Mrs. MacCall," said Tess. "Of course, I'm sortof responsible for Billy, for he was given to me."

  "You'll be bankrupt, I'm afraid, Tess," chuckled Agnes, "if you try tomake good for all the damage a goat can do."

  "But it won't cost much to keep him," said Tess, eagerly. "You know,they live on tin cans, and scraps, and thistles, and all sorts of_cheap_ things."

  "Those stockings weren't cheap," declared the housekeeper as she tookher de
parture. "They cost seventy-five cents."

  "Half your month's allowance, Tess," Dot reminded her, with awe. "Oh,dear, me! Maybe Billy Bumps will be expensive, after all."

  "Say! Ruth hasn't said you can keep him yet," said Agnes. "He looksdangerous to me. He has a bad eye."

  "Why! he's just as kind!" cried Tess, and immediately walked up to theold goat. At once Billy stopped shaking his head, looked up, and bleatedsoftly. He was evidently assured of the quality of Tess Kenway'skindness.

  "He likes me," declared Tess, with conviction.

  "Glo-ree!" ejaculated a deep and unctuous voice, on the heels of Tess'declaration. "Wha's all dis erbout--heh! Glo-ree! Who done let dat goatintuh disher yard? Ain' dat Sam Pinkney's ol' Billy?"

  A white-haired, broadly smiling old negro, stooped and a bit lame withrheumatism, but otherwise spry, came from the rear premises of the oldCorner House, and stopped to roll his eyes, first glancing at thechildren and then at the goat.

  "Whuffor all disher combobberation? Missee Ruth! Sho' ain' gwine tuhtake dat ole goat tuh boa'd, is yo'?"

  "I don't know what to do, Uncle Rufus," declared Ruth Kenway, laughing,yet somewhat disturbed in her mind. She was a dark, straight-hairedgirl, with fine eyes and a very intelligent face. She was not prettylike Agnes; yet she was a very attractive girl.

  "Oh! we want to keep him!" wailed Dot. She, too, boldly approached BillyBumps. It seemed as though the goat knew both the smaller Kenway girls,for he did not offer to draw away from them.

  "I 'spect Mr. Pinkney made dat Sam git rid ob de ole goat," grumbledUncle Rufus, who was a very trustworthy servant and had lived for yearsat the old Corner House before the four Kenway sisters came to dwellthere. "I reckon he's a bad goat," added the old man.

  "He doesn't look very wicked just now," suggested Agnes.

  "But where can we keep a goat?" demanded Ruth.

  "Dot used to think one lived in the garret," said Tess, smiling. "But itwas only a ghost folks thought lived there--and we know there aren't anysuch things as ghosts _now_."

  "Don' yo' go tuh 'spressin' ob you' 'pinion too frequent erbout sperits,chile," warned Uncle Rufus, rolling his eyes again. "Dere may hab beenno ghos' in de garret; but dere's ghos'es somewhars--ya-as'm. Sho' is!"

  "I don't really see how we can keep him," said Ruth again.

  "Oh, sister!" cried Tess.

  "Poor, dear Billy Bumps!" exclaimed Dot, with an arm around the short,thick neck of the goat.

  "If yo' lets me 'spressify maself," said Uncle Rufus, slowly, "I'd saydat mebbe I could put him in one oh de hen runs. We don't need 'em bothjest now."

  "Goody!" cried Tess and Dot, clapping their hands. "Let's, Ruthie!"

  The older sister's doubts were overborne. She agreed to the proposal,while Agnes said:

  "We might as well have a goat. We have a pig 'most every day. That pigof Mr. Con Murphy's is always coming under the fence and tearing up thegarden. A goat could do no more harm."

  "But we don't want the place a menagerie," objected Ruth.

  Dot said, gravely, "Maybe the goat and the pig will play together, andso the pig won't do so much damage."

  "The next time that pig comes in here, I'm going right around to Mr. ConMurphy and complain," declared Agnes, with emphasis.

  "Oh! we don't want to have trouble with any neighbor," objected Ruth,quickly.

  "My! you'd let folks ride right over you," said Agnes, with scorn forRuth's timidity.

  "I don't think that poor cobbler, Mr. Murphy, will ride over me--unlesshe rides on his pig," laughed Ruth, as she followed Mrs. MacCallindoors.

  Tess had an idea and she was frank to express it. "Uncle Rufus, thisgoat is very strong. Can't you fashion a harness and some kind of a cartfor him so that we can take turns riding--Dot and me? He used to drawSam Pinkney."

  "Glo-ree!" grumbled the colored man again. "I kin see where I got myhan's full wid disher goat--I do!"

  "But you _can_, Uncle Rufus?" said Tess.

  "Oh, yes, chile. I s'pect so. But fust off let me git him shut up in dehen-yard, else he'll be eatin' up de hull ob Mis' MacCall'swash--ya'as'm!"

  The poultry pens were fenced with strong woven wire, and one of them wasnot in use. Into this enclosure Mr. Billy Bumps was led. When the strapwas taken off, he made a dive for Uncle Rufus, but the darky was nimble,despite his years.

  "Yo' butt me, yo' horned scalawag!" gasped the old colored man, whenonce safe on the outside of the pen, "an' I won't gib yo' nottin' terchew on but an old rubber boot fo' de nex' week--dat's what I'll do."

  The old Corner House, as the Stower homestead was known to Milton folk,stood facing Main Street, its side yard running back a long way onWillow Street. It was a huge colonial mansion, with big pillars infront, and two wings thrown out behind. For years before the Kenwaygirls and Aunt Sarah Maltby had come here to live, the premisesoutside--if not within--had been sadly neglected.

  But energetic Ruth Kenway had insisted upon trimming the lawn andhedges, planting a garden, repairing the summer-house, and otherwisemaking neat the appearance of the dilapidated old place.

  On the Main Street side of the estate the property of Mr. Creamer joinedthe Corner House yard, but the Creamer property did not extend back asfar as that of the Stower place. In the corner at the rear the tiny yardof Con Murphy touched the big place. Mr. Murphy was a cobbler, who heldtitle to a small house and garden on a back street.

  This man owned a pig--a very friendly pig. Of that pig, more later!

  Perhaps it was the fruit that attracted the pig into the Stower yard.The Kenway girls had had plenty of cherries, peaches, apples, pears, andsmall fruit all through the season. There were still some late peachesripening, and when Agnes Kenway happened to open her eyes early, thevery next morning after the goat came to live with them, she saw theblushing beauty of these peaches through the open window of the ell roomshe shared with Ruth.

  Never had peaches looked so tempting! The tree was a tall seedling, andthe upper branches hung their burden near the open window.

  All the lower limbs had been stripped by Uncle Rufus. But the old mancould not reach these at the top of the tree.

  "It will be a mean shame for them to get ripe and fall off," thoughtAgnes. "I believe I can reach them."

  Up she hopped and slipped into her bathrobe. Just enough cool airentered the room to urge her to pull on her hose and slip her feet intoslippers.

  The window was at the back of the big house, away from the Willow Streetside, and well protected from observation (so Agnes thought) by theshrubbery.

  Below the window was a narrow ledge which ran around the house under thesecond story windows. It took the reckless girl but a moment to get outupon this ledge. To tell the truth she had tried this caper before--butnever at such an early hour.

  Clinging to the window frame, she leaned outward, and grasped with herother hand a laden, limb. The peaches were right before her; but shecould not pluck them.

  "Oh! if I only had a third hand," cried Agnes, aloud.

  Then, recklessly determined to reach the fruit, she let go of the windowframe and stretched her hand for the nearest blushing peach. To herhorror she found her body swinging out from the side of the house!

  Her weight bore against the limb, and pushed it farther and farther awayfrom the house-wall; Agnes' peril was plain and imminent. Unable toseize the window frame again and draw herself back, she was about tofall between the peach tree and the side of the house!

 
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