Four Little Blossoms at Brookside Farm/Chapter 4
THE WILLING PACKERS
MEG rushed into the house.
"Dot Blossom, you're not to touch my books," she scolded. "The idea! Why don't you fuss with your own things?"
Dot looked vexed.
"I'm helping you," she explained. "Don't you want to take your books to Aunt Polly's to read rainy days? Well, then, I'll pack 'em for you."
Mother Blossom had followed Meg, and now she intervened.
"No one is to pack anything to-day," she said firmly. "I want Dot to go into town with a message for Miss Florence. And Meg must practice on the piano half an hour at least. This afternoon we're going to take Aunt Polly driving. After she goes home there will be plenty for all of us to do to get ready."
Miss Florence Davis was the dressmaker who often came to the house to make clothes for the Blossom children, and Dot set off presently for her house, carrying a note to her. Miss Florence had no telephone. She said she wasn't home long enough to answer it. But she always left a slip of paper pinned to her door to tell people at whose house she was sewing, and her customers were used to going about the town till they found her.
"She says she can come," reported Dot when she returned from her errand. "She can give you four days, Mother. Where are the boys?"
Mother Blossom looked at her small daughter and sighed.
"I thought you knew Sam painted the fence last night," she said mildly.
"I did, but I forgot," explained Dot, trying to fold over a pleat so that the vivid streaks of green paint would not show. "I guess I kind of brushed up against it, Mother."
Usually when Aunt Polly went home the four little Blossoms were disconsolate, but the next morning they saw her to the station quite cheerfully. Were they not going to Brookside themselves exactly one week from that day? "Now we must fly around and get ready," announced Bobby, when they returned to the house. Bobby had a great trick of remembering speeches he had heard older folk make.
"Indeed then and you must," agreed Norah, who was sweeping the porch. "Your mother wants Dot in the sewing room. Miss Florence is ready to try on. And, Bobby, it's sorry I am, but we're out of soap."
It was rather a long walk to the grocery store, and Bobby didn't think that going for soap promised one bit of excitement. Neither did Meg want to practice the piano scales that one day were to make her a good musician. Norah knew something of what they were thinking.
"You'll both be helping your mother to get ready to go," she said earnestly and kindly. "I've got extra washing to do, for all your clothes must be clean. And if Meg's going to stop learning music every time a new plan comes up, she'll grow up to be terrible ignorant of lots of things."
"All right, I'm going," said Bobby quickly. "An' you'll be through by the time I get back, Meg. Then I guess we can pack the toys."
Twaddles, left alone, wandered up to the sewing room.
"Hello, Twaddles," said Miss Florence pleasantly. "Have you come up to see what pretty dresses Dot is going to have? And what is this I hear about every one going to Brookside?"
"We're going to see Aunt Polly," explained Twaddles. "And, Mother, can we take toys? Bobby's all ready to pack 'em as soon as he gets back."
"If you don't pack something pretty soon, the house won't hold you," observed Mother Blossom, smiling. "You see, Twaddles dear, Mother doesn't believe you will need many toys at Brookside. There will be so many wonderful new out-of-door things for you to play with. Suppose we say that each of you may choose the two things you are fondest of. That won't make so much to carry."
So that was settled, and when Bobby came back from town and Meg had finished practicing her scales and Dot's three new dresses had all been tried on, the children went upstairs to their playroom to select the toys they thought they would want to take with them.
"I think we ought to take the things Aunt Polly gave us," announced Meg. "They're new, and we haven't played with them much. She might think we didn't like 'em if we left them at home."
"All right, we will," decided Bobby. "And I'll take my ball and bat. Guess I won't break Aunt Polly's windows. There must be lots of room on a farm."
"I'm going to take the paper dolls," said Meg. "I'm pretty sure Aunt Polly will have books to read, so that's all right. What you going to take, Dot?"
"Geraldine and Tottie-Fay and the trunk," was the prompt response.
"That's three," Meg reminded her. "Mother said we could each have two. I tell you—you don't need the trunk; just take Geraldine's new clothes."
"All right," acquiesced Dot briefly.
Tottie-Fay was an old dollie, but dearly loved, and, as Father Blossom said when he heard that she was going to Brookside, no one could need a change of air more.
"I'm going to carry my kiddie-car," declared Twaddles serenely.
The others protested that the kiddie-car wouldn't go in the trunk; that there would be no pavement on which to ride it; that Twaddles should take a smaller toy.
Twaddles listened politely and set his obstinate little chin firmly. He meant to take the kiddie-car.
"We'll express it," said Father Blossom kindly that night. "I'm going to send a porch swing up and a—— Oh, my goodness, I almost told you. And it is a surprise!"
"What is it?" cried the four little Blossoms eagerly. "Tell us, Daddy! Ah, do! Please!"
"It can be a surprise for Aunt Polly," suggested Meg artfully. "Won't you tell us, Daddy?"
"No. I like surprises that are surprises," asserted Father Blossom. "Now, not another word does any one get out of me on this subject. Not a word."
The next few days were very busy ones; but at last two trunks were brought down and placed in the hall, and Mother Blossom made lists and packed and explained her plans to Meg and Bobby, who, as the oldest, could be expected to remember.
"All the stockings are here, dear, right in this tray," Mother Blossom would say. "And I'm putting Bobby's blouses in this trunk. You are sure you will remember so that Aunt Polly needn't be bothered in case I don't get both trunks unpacked for you?"
Meg was sure she could remember.
"Where's Twaddles?" asked Mother Blossom the last afternoon, when she was putting in the very final things. "I haven't seen him since lunch time. Dot, do you know where he went?"
"I think he's watching Sam give Philip a bath," volunteered Bobby. "He likes the smell of that dog soap, Mother."
"I can't say I do," said Mother Blossom frankly. "It is strongly carbolic. Go and call him in, will you, Bobby?"
Bobby found Twaddles blissfully watching the shivering Philip enduring a last rinsing after his bath. Sam liked to keep him clean, and he said that because a dog had a broken leg was no reason why he shouldn't be washed.
"Mother says for you to come in," Bobby told his brother. "It's time to get ready for supper. Gee, that soap does smell, doesn't it?"
"I like it," Twaddles affirmed, sniffing luxuriously. "I wish we took baths with that kind."
Mother Blossom sent him to the bathroom to wash his face and hands and she brushed his hair for him herself.
"What is that I keep smelling?" she asked once or twice, "Oh, the carbolic dog-soap. Twaddles, I do wish you wouldn't handle it so much."
"Who's been to the drug store?" said Father Blossom, when they sat down to supper. "Phew! I smell carbolic, strong."
"Philip had a bath," explained Twaddles uneasily. "Perhaps you smell it, Daddy."
"Twaddles means the soap," giggled Meg. "You can't smell a bath, silly."
Father Blossom laid down his carving knife and fork.
"I can't stand that," he declared positively. "Twaddles, you needn't tell me just handling a soapy dog is responsible for the whiffs of carbolic I'm getting. What is that in your pocket?"
A dark wet stain was slowly spreading in the square little pocket of the blouse Twaddles wore.
"I—I saved a piece," he stammered. "I thought Spotty, Aunt Polly's dog, ought to have some. It's awful healthy for dogs, Daddy. Sam says so."
Father Blossom had to laugh.
"I don't doubt it," he admitted. "But that's no reason why we should have to smell it. Wrap it up and put it away if you like for Spotty. And then come back and we'll see if we can finish supper in peace."